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World News

Evangelicals in the Church of England 'reject' bishops' public call to allow same-sex marriage

by Kelly Valencia

The evangelical wing of the Church of England has criticised the Bishop of Oxford's call for the church to back same-sex marriage. 

On Thursday, Rt Rev Steven Croft, published a 52-page essay setting out why he believes the Church of England should allow the blessing and marriage of same-sex couples. 

But in a statement, the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), has rejected the Bishop's theological arguments and said the essay "highlights the fundamental incompatibility that exists between the current teaching of the C of E and the position he (and others he might speak for) have come to adopt". 

"The essay also helpfully refers to the need for differentiation and provision of oversight in the event of change - a differentiation that CEEC believes would need to be of a structural nature and robust enough to secure the sustained flourishing of orthodoxy going forwards."

It continued: "CEEC continues to believe that the Church of England's current position on human sexuality is built on the teaching of scripture and is therefore good for individuals and society as a whole."

Bishop Steven's essay comes just a day after the College of Bishops met to discuss the next steps of the Living in Love and faith process, the Church of England's initiative to discern next steps on issues of identity, sexuality and marriage. 

The Oxford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship said it was "grieved" by the essay as they believe "it departs from the clear teaching of the Bible in relation to sex and marriage". 

In a statement they also commended the Bishop Steven's recognition that a change in the Church's position will require "not only the protection of conscience of those who could not support this, but also a differentiation of ministry and oversight". 

"We encourage our members to engage with this debate with the same spirit of grace that Bishop Steven has himself exhibited. We should always remember that this is not firstly a political issue but, above all, a deeply personal and pastoral one," it continued. 

Since Bishop Steven's public statement, the bishops of Worcester, Reading and Dudley have also come out in support of the change. 

Asked if the number of bishops in favour of the change is indicative of the Church's direction, Rev Dr Ian Paul, a CEEC member, told Premier: "if it is, then it's a future direction of chaos and division". 

"One of the things that Steven mentioned is he refers back to the comments made by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, at the Lambeth conference. And he notes that Justin recognised two different views on this. 

"What he failed to notice is that the existence of those different views has completely split the Anglican Communion... the majority view of the communion itself was, many years ago in 2005,that the initiative for some provinces to change the doctrine marriage was, quote, 'tearing the fabric of communion'. So, it's going to divide his diocese, it's going to divide the Church of England, and it's going to contribute to dividing the communion." 

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