Fighting FOCA in Word and Deed, or Talbot, Tatchell and Tactlessness

In the wake of the the Jerusalem conference held by conservative Anglicans, British evangelical Anglican leaders met Tuesday at All Souls Church, Langham Place in London. This is the parish where John Stott was the rector for many years and for even longer has been the rector emeritus. The clergy and lay leaders were in London to establish the British arm of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FOCA).

So a gathering of evangelical leaders at a leading evangelical church shouldn’t be controversial, should it? It wouldn’t have been, except for Peter Tatchell. Tatchell is the gay equivalent of Fred Phelps. You know, someone who has no sense of propriety in getting across his message about homosexuality. But while Phelps and his crew stand at a short distance, holding signs and shouting, Tatchell likes to be a little more hands-on.

Tatchell, the self-styled human rights campaigner, is not a big fan of the right to peaceably assemble. He claims he was “violently ejected” from All Soul’s after what the left-wing Christian think-tank Ekklesia refers to as “seeking to mount a protest against a hardline Anglican group”. In other word, after invading the meeting and attempting to disrupt it, he was removed – by force, since he refused to leave otherwise. This was not a public service to which there was an open invitation – like the time he disrupted the Easter service at Canterbury Cathedral when then archbishop was delivering his Easter message – but rather a private gathering that happened to be using the facilities of All Souls. This was just blatant trespassing.

And if Peter Tatchell is ridiculous with the spoken word, David Talbot was just as much so with the written word, in his open letter to the Rector.

It is a shame that the Anglican Church and, on this occasion, All Souls in particular, continues to deny the God-given reality of homosexuality and [God’s] blessing that gay Christians know in their daily lives. I have looked at the list of speakers at the conference and see no hope of a contrasting Biblical view being put forward.

First of all, the Anglican Church affirms Talbot’s view, hence the whole FOCA thing. All Souls has always been an evangelical church, so it is hardly on this occasion alone that it has made its view of the Bible very clear. And as far as I can tell, no one at All Souls has denied the reality of homosexuality or that gay Christians can know blessing in their daily lives. The only things it denies are that homosexuality is normative and that God can bless any sexual union outside of the marriage of a man and a woman. I wonder why Mr Talbot didn’t put it in those terms.

Of course the silliest bit is the last. He looked at the list of speakers at a conference of leaders opposed to his view of homosexuality and homosexual behaviour, meeting together for the specific purpose of breaking with the Anglican communion over just that issue, and he is disappointed that there is no contrasting view (Biblical or otherwise) being put forward? If he were serious about his argument, I would say he was clearly off the planet. Of course he’s not serious. He’s just manipulating words. He’s just trying to look wounded and persecuted.

After all, he has the whole rest of the Anglican Communion to cuddle up to, with meaningful “I’m OK, You’re OK” sermons to salve his wounds.

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