Bishop Bill Atwood of Kenya emphasised in a press briefing Tuesday that there are many chore issues that have been a point of contention. Responding to a query from the international media about whether it is conscionable that “one narrow point should tear the church,” Atwood said:
“The starkness of disagreement is not narrow. The identity of Jesus, the place of salvation, scripture application, and how to apply changes, are some of the issues which we have to look at to maintain the Christian way.”
Bishop Bill Atwood is one of the leaders of the workshop on Gospel and Culture at GAFCON.
He said that in examining the essentials of the Gospel against the expression of the Gospel, GAFCON is looking to discern the principles of how to go forward, mindful to see that culture does not overwhelm the message of the Gospel.
“There could be new voluntary associations emerging, with shared purpose and vision, which will look for new mechanisms of expression. Previous associations do not have to be terminated, but the new ones would have purpose and vision,” he said in response to whether there would be a break-away from the Anglican church. “It is not possible to tell how things will turn out at the end of the week. We have a number of workshops in which different people are making an input. We’ll put it all together to help show us the future.”
He pointed out that in the early years of the church, gospel and culture were intertwined, while in the post-modern world, relativism was taking over.
The Rev. Cesar Guzman, of Chile, said that Theological Education is the church’s lifeline. Pointing out that a three-person committee consisting of himself, a Chilean, a Kenyan, and a Briton were working on Theological Education. “Training is emphasising the Gospel (holy scripture) and Jesus as central,” he said.
David Short, rector of St. John’s, Shaughnessy, the biggest Anglican church in Canada, said that his church takes in young people with a passion for God and trains them.
“But seminary has limitations. How do the graduates minister? This cannot be learned at seminary, but outside, so we deal with character issues and theological mindset. What is key is that we also preach the Gospel as received. The churches that teach the true Gospel can grow (in numbers), but those that are losing numbers are the ones that are compromising. We have no guarantee that teaching the Gospel would necessarily grow the church, but we know that that is right.”