MODERN CHURCH General Secretary Jonathan Draper's response to a letter written by eleven bishops warning that a future pronouncement on same-sex relationships and marriage may have 'practical consequences' relating to the structure of the Anglican Communion and the Church of England, features in the Church Times, an independent Anglican weekly newspaper, published today.

The bishops' 1800-word letter, posted on the website of the Church of England Evangelical Council, is addressed to the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth.

Dr Cocksworth chairs the co-ordinating group of the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) project, set up by the House of Bishops in an attempt to look more deeply into matters of sexuality after earlier attempts failed to heal divisions (Church Times30 June 2017).

Debate within the Church - and Evangelicalism - about marriage

We can now all be grateful to 11 bishops for showing us all what it means to have 'an openness to being surprised and challenged by what it means to be the body of Christ in England in the 21st century' (from the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) process as outlined by the House of Bishops).

That the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, a member of the formal LLF discussions, has signed the letter means, I presume, that he has decided that he should withdraw from the process, as listening to the views of others is obviously not a part of his understanding of his task.

The 'radical inclusion' proposed by Archbishop Welby (whatever it is supposed to mean) will not be served by bishops’ (however many) saying that only one kind of outcome is acceptable. This is not only to pre-empt and subvert the process: it is also a form of atheism, elevating one traditional understanding of marriage over the potential of a living God acting through the wind and fire of the Holy Spirit to do a new thing.

The Bishops of the Church of England come to look more and more like the Conservative Party discussing Europe, with so many 'red lines' being drawn all over the place. Perhaps this is an issue too important to be left in the hands of the Bishops, and the rest of the people of God should be given their say.

General Secretary, Modern Church

You can read the letter on the Church Times website, along with two other responses on this issue, and three responses in response to Angela Tilby's commentary on the Government's consultation on the Gender Recognition Act, 'My worries about the trans lobby'.