They warn any changes in that stance ‘will create major problems for many of us, both here and in the wider [Anglican] Communion’, declaring that ‘recent history tragically demonstrates that introducing changes in teaching and liturgy has consistently divided Anglicans globally and within provinces’.
The letter has been signed by the Bishops of Carlisle, Shrewsbury, Durham, Ludlow, Birkenhead, Willesden, Peterborough, Plymouth, Blackburn, Maidstone and Lancaster. It is understood other evangelical bishops are also in agreement with its contents. It has been sent to Bishop Christopher Cocksworth, who is chairing the Church of England’s ‘Living in Love and Faith’ (LLF) project. This is aiming to tackle the ‘tough questions and the divisions among Christians’ over gender, marriage and sexuality. The project is due to report back in early 2020.
The eleven bishops pointedly comment that the Church of England’s current discussions are ‘taking place after the gathering of nearly 2,000 Anglicans from 50 countries at Gafcon’ – the international Anglican grouping emerging as a potential future alternative to the Anglican Communion. They also highlight how the US Episcopal Church has ‘struggled to enable the flourishing of those within it who remain committed to traditional biblical teaching’. Thus, they say, there is ‘importance for our unity of how we teach and learn on these contested matters’.
The letter states that while modern day questioning of traditional Christian views on sex and marriage cannot be dismissed out of hand, ‘neither can we simply abandon what we have received in order to appear relevant and avoid feeling uncomfortable’.