WND: When the Church of England recently announced Stephen Cottrell as the next Archbishop of York, eyebrows were raised.
The U.K.’s Christian Institute, for example, pointed to his view that the Bible must yield to the “cultural beliefs” of contemporary society on matters of sexual behavior.
At a meeting of church officials, Cottrell called for a “radical new Christian inclusion.”
And he asserted his spiritual authority.
“I have my views and opinions, of course I do, but I am also ‘Father in God’ to all of you; and all clergy and licensed ministers make an oath of canonical obedience to me, regardless of disagreement on some issues,” he said.
He said “faithful Christian people” interpret the Bible’s instructions on sexuality “differently.”
No one can ignore the “ecumenical dimensions” of the debate, he said, “but neither can we ignore the culture in which we are set where same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage are not only considered normal, but positively taught and encouraged in many homes and schools as a social good.”
He warned of the “missiological damage” done when the church’s teachings conflict with “that which is held to be morally normative and desirable by much of society.”
Standing by the biblical view of same-sex relationships can trigger “homophobia” in others, he warned.
Cottrell admitted the Bible speaks on the issue, however, “what we know now about human development and human sexuality requires us to look again at those texts to see what they are actually saying to our situation, for what we know now is not what was known then.”
The report said the doctrine of the Church of England, as enshrined in a 1987 General Synod Motion, states that homosexual acts should be repented of. And the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution opposes the “legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions.”
Cottrell is to succeed John Sentamu, who is retiring.
His comments on the issue included: “It is the refining fire of the questions the culture poses that reveal new depths to the gospel we proclaim.”
He endorsed a call for church teachings to be based on “a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.”
Speaking directly to the LGBT community, he said, “Brothers and sisters, you are already a part of us, and we must repent of the way we have objectified your presence and spoken about you as if you were not here.”
He said it would be “particularly foolish for us to ignore the missiological damage that is done when that which is held to be morally normative and desirable by much of society and by what seems to be a significant number of Anglican Christian people in this country, is deemed morally unacceptable by the church.”
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20.