JI Packer on Anglicanism, Homosexuality, and Heresy
From an interview with Mark Driscoll:
As we sat on the couch together, he explained that Anglicanism is patterned after the ancient Roman governmental system so that a bishop has jurisdiction over a geographic area. However, this long-established ecclesiological pattern has been breached because Anglicanism is suffering from “heretical bishops.” By “heretical bishops,” Packer was referring to those bishops who sanction homosexual activity. He explained that the “heretical bishops” won support for their position following much lobbying. This sadly required Bible-believing Anglican churches to come under the authority of other orthodox bishops outside of their geographic area rather than remain under “heretical bishops.”
Homosexuality: A Heretical Issue
When asked about calling those who support homosexuality and profess to be Christian “heretical,” Packer very carefully and insightfully explained what he meant. He began by saying that as Christians we are tempted to sin in many ways, including homosexuality. However, because God has saved us through Jesus and empowered us with the Holy Spirit, we are to practice ongoing repentance of sin and rejection of sinful desires. He explained in great detail that he perceives the approval of homosexuality to be “heretical” because it denies a fundamental aspect of the gospel—namely repentance. Packer explained how for six years he called his Anglican Diocese to repent of their sinful support of unrepentant homosexual activity, to no avail. Eventually, his own archbishop sought to pull his license (essentially his ordination or credentials) as a punitive measure. In the end, Packer, along with roughly thirty Anglican churches, came out from under their “heretical” leadership to form a new Anglican alliance. Returning to the issue of denying a fundamental aspect of the gospel (repentance), he explained that 1 Corinthians 6:9–11 says,
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Packer was clear that those who do not call Christians to repent of homosexual activity are, as Scripture says, “deceived.” He told me that the first of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses was that the whole of a Christian’s life is to be one of repentance of sin. Any Christian who does not practice and promote repentance is denying an aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When I asked how the denial of repentance merited the label of “heretical,” Packer said, “ “‘Heresy’ ought to be used when an aspect of the gospel is being denied.” He further explained that because God through Paul warns the Corinthians that those who practice homosexuality unrepentantly will be damned to hell, “Souls are put at risk every time homosexuality is tolerated.”...more
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