One could see the Apostle Paul getting into real trouble with the ‘chair’ of a reconstructed General Synod that disallowed parliamentary-style, adversarial debating andgeneral synod required a more postmodern, consensual, ‘indaba’ approach.

A motion is going before this week’s Synod in London calling for a review of  the ‘parliamentarian’ way in which its debates are conducted. The Daily Telegraph’s religious affairs editor, John Bingham, reports that the critical views of the revisionist Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, about the style of Synod have inspired those pushing for a review.

Ironic that, given that Bishop Holtam recently likened opponents of gay marriage to supporters of apartheid. Now the Holtam brigade apparently want to extinguish the fires of odium theologicum with a pile of indaba-daba-doo.

But before they decide to mire themselves in managed dialogues around cafe-style tables, Synod members have a biblical responsibility to consider some rather adversarial statements of the Apostle Paul.

To the churches of Galatia:

But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party (Galatians 2v11-12 – RSV).

To Timothy, pastor of the church at Ephesus:

Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will requite him for his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message (2 Timothy 4v14-15).

To the church at Philippi:

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evil-workers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the true circumicision, who worship God in spirit and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3v2-3).

To Titus, his delegate on the Greek island of Crete:

One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith (Titus 1v12-13).

To quote but a few of his hard-hitting statements. Paul was passionately against false teaching because he saw it as spiritually damaging to souls for whom Christ shed his precious blood. As a loyal servant of Christ, Paul was not afraid to argue in public against those promoting it. 

If every member of the General Synod were an orthodox Anglican who upheld the biblical doctrine of the Church of England as expressed in our Book of Common Prayer, 39 Articles of Religion and Ordinal, then there would be no false teachers to oppose.

Without false teachers getting up to trumpet revisionist views sanctioning immoral life-styles, General Synod would be a much better decision-making body than it currently is and its disagreements, inevitable in any council of sinful human beings, would be much more agreeable.

But that is not the present reality of Synod. So parliamentary has got to be a lot better than indaba-daba-doo, otherwise it really would be ‘win-win’ for the false teachers.

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