As more and more Christian denominations and churches question the complete authority of Scripture, faithful Christians will increasingly seek new places of worship. In this interview, Bishop Glenn Davies of the new Diocese of the Southern Cross calls it a “lifeboat” for Australian Anglicans fleeing revisionist dioceses across Australia.
After a high-profile schism sparked the establishment of a new Australian Anglican diocese back in August this year, Warwick Marsh sat down with the new diocese’s bishop, Rev. Glenn Davies, to discuss the bombshell announcement.
They discuss the importance of marriage to Christian doctrine, conservative versus revisionist readings of scripture, the rationale behind the creation of the Diocese of the Southern Cross, and the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON)’s support of the new diocese.
You can read or watch the full exclusive conversation below.
Warwick Marsh: Well, Bishop Glenn Davies, it’s a great delight to be talking to you today. And thank you for your time, because I know, even though you’re not the Archbishop of the Diocese of Sydney anymore, you’re the Bishop of a very new diocese—Diocese of the Southern Cross. Tell us the story: how did this come to pass?
Rev Glenn Davies: Oh, thank you, Warwick, and thank you for this opportunity to tell you about the Southern Cross. I think that in the Anglican Church of Australia, which has had a Constitution which was well grounded in the scriptures as God’s authoritative word, the Book of Common Prayer as a liturgical expression, and the 39 Articles, which is a theological expression of what we stand for—of our common faith… and there have been Bishops unfortunately—and some Synods and Diocese—which have been moving further and further away from the authority of scriptures and listening to the allurement of the world and therefore changing their views about scripture in order to address—or adapt to—the mores of our society, which of course is very foolish.
It’s not that we always get things right in reading the Bible, but we’ve got to make sure the Bible is authoritative in every aspect to us, because the Bible contains the Gospel, which tells us how we come into relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ and faith in Him. That’s what it’s all about; that’s what Christianity is all about.
So there was a particular Bishop in Wangaratta in the province of Victoria, and he said in a bishop’s meeting, “I’m going to get the blessing of same-sex couples into our church.” And he said, “I’m going to do it in a lawful, legal way.” Well, he attempted to do that—and then he resigned, because he was of the age of resignation—retired, really, I should say—and that blessing of same-sex couples was endorsed by the Synod. And the Primate immediately sent that to the Appellate Tribunal, which is a Judicial Group, which is the, sort of, the like a High Court in Australia. The Appellate Tribunal has three bishops and four lawyers on it—
WM: What year was this, by the way?
GD: This was—that’s a good question; let me think… they came down with their… the decision in 2021, and I think it was 2020. It took a year to do it, so it’s in 2020 that this took place.* And they came down and—I won’t go through the details, but basically—they said “doctrine” in the Constitution only refers to that which pertains to salvation. So a doctrine about Jesus the Son of God is a doctrine that pertains to salvation, but a doctrine with regard to marriage is not—it doesn’t pertain to salvation. And, therefore, you could have a blessing of a same-sex couple because it didn’t affect one’s salvation.
That opinion… which was egregious in so many ways, particularly when the Appellate Tribunal had references from the House of Bishops (minus the two Bishops on the Appellate Tribunal) and what are called a “Board of Assessors”—clergy elected by the Synod—there was a unanimous report from both groups to the Appellate Tribunal to these… there were only six of them, because the very Bishop of Wangaratta was on the Appellate Tribunal and had to recuse himself, naturally… so these six people—and it was a 5–1 judgment, so only five people—completely ignored the advice of the House of Bishops, which said that homosexual behaviour is contrary to God’s Word, but excludes one from the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6 makes this very plain, as does 1 Timothy 1.
And that sense in which they were just overturned—the very Guardians of the Faith—the Bishops—let alone the Board of Assessors—clergy (and these were theological lecturers in theological colleges and experienced clergy). They ignored that and said we’re gonna run down this track. It’s almost as if they’d made up their mind and tried to find a lawful way to get there. It was an erroneous decision, in my view, but it actually recognised that suddenly same-sex blessings was now legal in every diocese—not just in Wangaratta—because the Appellate Tribunal said a big tick.
There was a canon which was being used, and we thought that the canon was sufficient when it said you can’t have a new service if it’s contrary to the fundamental declarations and the doctrine of our church and as long as it’s edifying and reverent. The Appellate Tribunal put a big tick—“yes, it is consistent with the doctrine of our church”—which in my view is a very, not only a foolish decision, a decision which dishonours God and the consequence of their opinions—which I said publicly—dishonours God.
The president of the Appellate Tribunal was very upset with me that I said that, but I still stand by that, because if homosexual unions are sin, you cannot bless sin. That’s the whole thing: you can’t sanctify sin by a blessing, by a priest or a pastor in a congregation.
So, GAFCON Australia, which is part of the GAFCON Global Movement, we decided we need to put in place something to rescue people who found themselves unable to work in dioceses which accepted that. I said to all the Bishops, in 2020, that they could all stop it dead in the water if they wanted to. All they had to say is it was irreverent and not edifying… only very few have done so.
We did in Sydney, [the] Bishop of Tasmania sent out a message to all clergy—“I consider this was to be neither edifying nor reverent”. Therefore, it’s illegal in the Diocese of Sydney and, likewise, in Tasmania, and a couple of dioceses have done the same thing, but, by and large, the rest of them have not adopted that course, because they don’t want it. They want to embrace homosexual society, embrace those who are in these sexual relationships which are outside of marriage as God has ordained it.
The fact that it’s marriage as the state has ordained it is irrelevant. That’s Unholy Matrimony; we’re talking about Holy Matrimony—what God has ordained between a man and woman from as old as Genesis 1 and 2. We see that God’s plan is for marriage, procreation within the bonds of a man and woman in a joint, one-flesh relationship—a loving, exclusive, permanent relationship until, of course, the new Heavens and New Earth when there’ll be no marriage.
WM: The other thing, of course, is that, you know, marriage—Ephesians—is a type of Christ and the church, so… and, in Hebrews, it says that the marriage bed is holy and undefiled. Now that’s whether it’s a Christian marriage bed or a non-Christian marriage bed—marriage is something that comes from heaven because it’s the type of Christ. It’s some mystery in there, as it says in Ephesians, so to actually try to change marriage is actually changing the very foundations of the Word of God, the very foundations of our society, the foundations of our future society, which is procreation. So, you know, I can see why this was a great concern to you.
GD: Well, we made all these statements when we were having the big debate about same-sex marriage in Australia. And we said, “The consequences are significant,” and the opposition said, “No no no; love is love,” you know, “Don’t be such… wowsers that you’re going to stop people having the expression of their love”.
And we’re now seeing it in the Church of all places; we’re seeing it on TV. We’re seeing it in football clubs in Melbourne, whereby a person who has an association with a church which doesn’t hold to same-sex marriage or holds the biblical views on abortion, etc., is ineligible to become the chairman of a football club. The world’s gone crazy; it’s just gone crazy.
So the Diocese of the Southern Cross was vitalised by GAFCON Australia, and I was invited to become the initial bishop. I’m a retired bishop, so I won’t be doing it for very long until a Synod is called and then that Synod will elect its own bishop and it will carry on. It’s a parallel jurisdiction across all of Australia which is a lifeboat for people who cannot abide the leadership of their bishop or the decisions of their Synod. For example—and the bombshell of course took place in the middle of this year when in the Diocese of Brisbane, the Archbishop declared publicly that we no longer share the presuppositions of the Biblical authors…
WM: This is Archbishop Aspinall?
GD: This is Archbishop Philip Aspinall.
GD: … therefore, we are no longer bound by their moral imperatives. He affirmed this view, which was a view of… he was quoting someone else. And the same Synod… the motion was moved and seconded by two assistant Bishops in the Diocese of Brisbane to remove chastity as a requirement for church workers. This wasn’t just to do with same-sex marriage—so that now Church workers—clergy—could be in a same-sex marriage—but it includes adultery…
WM: It could be adulters; they could be fornicators…
GD: … any sexual misconduct of which chastity has been a long-held binding aspect, that sexual activity takes place in a marriage—only in a marriage between a man and woman… They’ve just opened the door to immorality. And so we had one clergy and his representative just walk out of the Synod. And, shortly thereafter, two congregations—two Ministers of congregations in the Diocese of Brisbane—have left the Diocese of Brisbane and joined the Southern Cross. And it’s a delight for me to care for them, pastor them, assist them. It’s a sacrificial move to leave… to lose your property to walk out of the church—here we are: look at the beautiful Church we’re in here today, to walk out of a place like this—and then start afresh.
WM: … in a school hall, rented building…
GD: … RSL Club, whatever it might be. Or a Seventh-day Adventist Church or a Presbyterian Church in the afternoon. So…
WM: … thank God for the Presbyterians…
GD: Thank God for the Presbyterians.
WM: They came to your rescue, if I understand correctly. They actually very soon after the decision was—this bombshell announcement about the Diocese of the Southern Cross—they actually said, “we will offer our buildings to any congregation—Anglican Church—that needs refuge”, correct?
WM: It was a beautiful thing, wasn’t it?
GD: It was a letter written by the Moderator-General, which is all of Australian Presbyterians, co-signed by previous moderators-general. It was a very full endorsement, saying, “if we can help you with our property, we’re happy to do so”. And one of my guys is doing that. I’ve got the same letter from the Christian Reformed Church. They understood the same situation… Christian and Missionary Alliance have indicated to me personally that they’re in the same situation. They want to support us. I haven’t had any letters of support from other bishops—revisionist bishops—around Australia, of course. They’re just somewhat upset with me… I understand why, but they only have themselves to blame.
Authority and Unity
WM: Now, can I just say something here: with Bishop Aspinall, if I’m correct in saying this, they attacked you and attacked this whole movement and said, a), “it was divisive” and, “no, we didn’t really”—you know—“say that same-sex marriage relationships were okay in the church”.
And I looked at the history—as you just told us—and I’m thinking, “this guy is”—the nicest way to sell it is—“he’s telling a big, giant fib”, but it’s an outrageous lie. I was so annoyed because he actually got coverage in the newspaper—in the mainstream media—and I’m sure a lot of people believed it. What’s your comment about that?
GD: Well, I never want to make this personal with individuals. I want to direct my attention to what they say and what they do. And Archbishop Aspinall and I have had good relationships over many years, but he has made a fundamental error, in my view, in trying to endorse the authority of scripture but then wipe out the very text of scripture, which is part of God’s Word. To override it and say experience and reason is going to tell me that Paul didn’t understand homosexual behaviour—we know better than Paul, which is a way of saying we know better than God.
And God is the author of scripture. Paul is the human author; God is the Divine Author. And unless we come to grips with that… that’s why—it’s ultimately not about sex; it’s about the authority of God’s Word, plainly written. The text of scripture has been undermined, destroyed, eradicated by so many of these revisionist bishops. It’s not just in Australia; it’s in North America; it’s in South America; it’s in Europe. And what we want to do is reclaim the living Oracles of God, because that’s what brings the message of Salvation.
And if you start deleting sections of scripture, you undermine the very authority of God in the places which talk about salvation. So, you know, marriage is not about salvation, but marriage is about living God’s way as the saved people of God, and that’s what we want to do.
Our love for people who are same-sex attracted is undiminished. They’re all welcome to our churches, because any sinner is welcome to our church, but what we want to do is see them grasp the message of Christ and the ownership of Christ as Saviour and Lord, and then the sinner becomes a saint. That’s what we want to do. And that Saint is going to live in accordance with God’s ways.
WM: Yeah, 100%. It’s interesting, if I understand correctly, that the whole move to GAFCON—and maybe we can just go through a bit of that sort of background, so we, you know… you’ve told us where we’re up to today… but first if I can ask this question: how does it—how do you feel… you know, you said you just had a great relationship with, you know, Archbishop Aspinall and, you know, obviously working with all these bishops across Australia. Personally, you must have felt almost tormented inside to have to do this. It would have been a difficult thing for you to have to make this stand, so can you tell us about those—how did it make you feel?
GD: Oh, it’s gut-wrenching, really, because it’s a great sadness the Southern Cross Diocese has to come into being. It should never have had to—in actual fact if the Anglican Church of Australia were to repent and turn back to the authority of scriptures, the Diocese of the Southern Cross would disappear. There’d be no need for it.
So, for example, in the Diocese of Sydney or in the Diocese of Tasmania, or Armidale, or Northwest Australia, there’s no need for a Southern Cross church, because these are faithful strong dioceses who love God’s word and teach God’s Word. But, unfortunately, those dioceses around the country which are adopting this revisionist agenda… revising the teaching of scripture so that they become the arbiters of what is true and what is relevant for today, all in the name of trying to be more inclusive. They accuse us of disunity, but you cannot have unity with two opposing views.
I think this is the problem, and we recognised this in 1998, in Lambeth, when all the Bishops, by an overwhelming majority, adopted what was called Resolution 110—and, interesting, Archbishop Aspinall was at that meeting and voted against it (he told me that personally, so I don’t believe that’s something I can’t say publicly)—which talked about same-sex, homosexual activity as being contrary to God’s Word—and there are other aspects of that.
But that was overturned, within five years, by the Canadians and then by the Americans with same-sex blessings in Canada and then, of course, the election of Gene Robinson: the first bishop—openly homosexual—but in a relationship with a man. He left his wife, divorced his wife, and then, you know, lived with this man in a very clearly identified sexual relationship. He became a bishop; all the bishops around the globe objected to this.
The Archbishop of Canterbury called a special meaning of primates, and they had this famous statement: you have torn the fabric of the communion. And the Americans just, you know—the Lambeth Resolution 110—said, we’re not going to follow them, we don’t care what you say; it only has moral persuasion, but has no juridical persuasion—and that’s true, but if they want to be part of the Anglican Communion, they have gone contrary to the very teaching of Anglican Communion. And so Gene Robinson—he was just the first of many people in same-sex marriages.
Of course, marriage then became legal in America after the Supreme Court identified that it was possible. So, therefore, they’ve gone down that track. There is no way in which they’re going to repent. They’ve said so so many times. We’ve had two Lambeths since then—2008 and, just recently, in 2020*, and although the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is a good and godly man, Justin Welby, and I have a warm relationship with him, he says Resolution 110 from ‘98 is the doctrine of Anglican Communion… but he then goes on to say, “But some people have actually studied the scriptures and prayed about it and come to a different view.” He’s not going to discipline them.
My problem is, you cannot have two integrities. You can’t say same-sex marriage, or same-sex union, is sinful and same-sex union is holy; you can’t say that when Arius, in the early centuries—in the fourth century—was challenging Athanasius, the great bishop—Arius was just a priest—and he was saying that Jesus was not divine, He was created. And the Council of Nicaea said, no, Jesus is divine. You know, Son of God; begotten, not made; of one union with the Father; God from God; light from light, etc., as the Athanasian Creed gives us. Nicaea didn’t say, oh, we’ve got two integrities here: you can have an Arian view and an Athanasian view. No, no. [The] Arian view is wrong; it undermines the very Gospel, and the Athanasian view prevailed.
Unfortunately, the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks that you can have two integrities. I believe that now becomes the “Canterbury Communion” view. The Anglican Communion is one integrity. Resolution 110: same-sex union is against God’s Word; it is declared as sin, but anyone can be saved if they repent and put their trust in Jesus. And that’s the message of the Gospel to anyone—thieves, murderers, whatever they might be—repentance is essential in order to lay hold of the claims of Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.
Repent and Believe in the Gospel
WM: And that word repentance in the Greek actually means to have a change of mind. It’s not just about tears or emotion—
GD: It’s turning around.
WM: … it’s turning around—
WM: —having a different mind. And, I mean, these challenges aren’t new, in a sense that… look at, in Corinth, it was a very licentious—a very maybe we would call it libertarian—place…
WM: Temple prostitutes—both male and female—and there was enormous conflict with the Spirit of the Age and what was happening in the culture. So Paul came with a message of purity—the love of Jesus—preaching the Gospel. But he also came with a message of sexual purity, because it’s still—these laws from the Old Testament still actually came through into the New Testament, because it says it that the Council in Jerusalem said, “you must abstain from sexual immorality”. So, these things carried through and, yes, we’re all sinners saved by grace, but our job as believers is not to promote the sin. Comment about that.
GD: Yes, repentance is turning around, going in the opposite direction. So, rather than following the natural carnal lusts of the flesh, which is what Corinth was doing, you need to receive God’s grace. The wonderful thing about becoming a Christian—Paul makes this point—is that God gives His Holy Spirit so that we become temples of the Holy Spirit. Individual Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God takes up temple residence in us so that God’s grace is transforming—it’s transformative with regard to our desires, our goals.
Our whole life is directed now to serving God and honouring the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, as Christians, we still sin. We still make mistakes. We still need to repent every day, but the thing about the Christian is that sin doesn’t characterise them. There may be episodes of sin, and when you recognise your sin, you repent and move forward. So, the sin of same-sex unions is a sin whereby people need to repent and recognise, “this is not the way”. Of course, companionship between people of the same sex is a perfectly proper and God-given thing. It’s the one flesh relationship that is exclusive to the marriage of a man and woman, which the Bible clearly states from Genesis to Revelation.
WM: And Jesus quoted that scripture, too. It’s important, because people say, “oh, that was Genesis—that’s the Old Testament”. But what did Jesus say in the New Testament? Tell us.
GD: Well, in Matthew chapter 19, He’s talking about divorce, and you don’t understand divorce unless you understand marriage. And He said that marriage was made with a male—God made them male and female, and, in so doing, He’s establishing that this is a divine institution. It’s a divine relationship that God has given to man. But it’s not for everyone to marry. Some people are eunuchs—that is, they’re unable to marry because of their physical situation. Some are made eunuchs—that is, they choose to become celibate—but others are married. All people are loved by God, [both] single or married—that’s not the defining feature of a person. But… so Jesus was single and didn’t marry because, ultimately, He will become the bridegroom of the Church, and that symbolism is there with regard to our all being joined to Christ.
So, at that level, Corinth was an appalling place of immorality, both heterosexual and homosexual sin was there. And that’s where Paul talks about “glorify God in your body” because your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. And, in the same chapter, he talks about theft, murder, gossip, a whole range of things, unrepented—including sexual immorality; and he specifically mentions homosexuality (homosexual activity, that is)—excludes you from the kingdom of God. But he says, “you were washed; you were sanctified; such were some of you, but now you’ve been joined to Christ”. You have new life. That’s the new life; that’s the promise that the gospel has. And the Diocese of the Southern Cross wants to bring that message to every Australian in this country.
WM: Can I just say something about that? You know, I’ve looked at your website, and, you know, it’s a beautiful website. So if anyone’s watching this interview, I encourage you to go to the Southern Cross website—Diocese of the Southern Cross. Just Google it. And it’s a beautiful picture of family, children, couples—family life. And front and centre is not the issues we’re talking about today; front and centre is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ—the good news of God’s love that He gave His Son as a ransom for us all.
GD: Yes, and that message comes to us because God has revealed it to us—not only in history in the coming of Jesus, but in His Word, which affirms all that God has been doing from the creation of the world. There is a lovely story of salvation, a unified story of which sexual activity is one small part. Integrity, truth, honesty, love…
WM: … humility…
GD: … justice, humility—all these are features of the nine fruits of the spirit that Paul speaks about: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control… All these are part of the Christian life—transformed by the Spirit of God. And that’s what we want to offer to people. But you don’t understand that unless you understand what the Bible says.
WM: What happens with these, sort of, issues is they actually distort the image of Christ. As you said, there’s a story that goes right back to Genesis. And, yes, the Gospel is the Lord Jesus Christ giving Himself on the cross as a ransom for many—His blood poured out; His blood redeems us, and that sacrifice—and yet we find right through the Old Testament—the Old Testament’s a shadow for Christ—and you’ve got this beautiful, if you like, Gospel stories weaved right through there.
Abraham takes his son up on the hill; he’s prepared to kill his own son, and God says, “stop! I’ve provided a lamb”—and it was His own Son He was providing. So right through the Old Testament, you have it. So that’s why it’s so important—your comment—why we need to hold to the Holy Scriptures—not just some parts that we like, but the parts we don’t like and the parts we need to like and the parts we need to accept, correct?
GD: Indeed. What Abraham’s a good illustration of is the obedience which comes from faith. He trusted God. It was against all his natural instincts to sacrifice his son. But when he was walking up—he leaves the servant behind and he’s with his son Isaac—and Isaac said, “well, where is the sacrifice, father?” And what does Abraham say?—“the Lord will provide”. He trusts God even though he binds Isaac on the altar. He has his knife raised to kill his own son and God says, “No, I know that you obey Me and you trust me… go and find that ram in the thicket”—which he does.
And there’s a beautiful illustration of God providing in this case His own Son. Just as Abraham was prepared to kill his own son, God provides His own Son to live the life we could not live and to die the death that we deserve. And that’s the beautiful story of the Gospel—that Jesus takes our place. And once that grips you—once you grasp that—you just want to serve God with every fibre of your being—and that means following God. It means curbing the natural desires. We have lots of desires in our body which are wrong desires. Same-sex attraction is not a sin. It’s just part of the consequence of the Fall where—like kleptomania, you know, you might want to steal, but it is when you put that into action is the problem.
GD: And, just like lust, you know, you’ve committed adultery if you look lustfully—if a man looks lustfully at a woman who’s not his wife, then that is a wrong thing. So that sense in which we need to curb our desires which have been distorted by sin. I know many—or a good number—of Christians who are same-sex attracted and have chosen the path of celibacy and chastity.
One’s a leading minister in the city of Oxford—a strong Evangelical; Vaughn Roberts is his name—and he’s a shining example of what it means to be—though same-sex attracted, what he does not put into practice, but he continues to serve God in his singleness. Like John Stott was a single man too, and John Chapman, and Dick Lucas. Singleness can give you great opportunities for the gospel—Charles Simeon is the same.
So, Vaughn Robertson is doing that, but he trusts God. He’s never going to be married—he realises that—but he, of course, is ultimately married to the bridegroom. And he’ll enjoy with all God’s people that wonderful Marriage Feast of the Lamb in the Last Day, and the New Heavens and the New Earth, where there’ll be no marriage between husbands and wives as we know it now.
My wife will be a sister in the Lord in the New Heavens and the New Earth. And there’s so much I can’t understand about what that’s going to be like, but I do know that God has it in hand, and so I trust Him for that future. Meanwhile, in the present, I need to trust Him with a life which pleases Him in every aspect.
WM: 100%. It’s interesting that this rescue mission, in a sense, has come out of, to a certain extent, the African church, not the western church, whereas, you know, arguably it was England getting the Gospel out through, you know—well, the Moravians in Germany, God bless them, too… William Carey… settle Australia. Yes, the Puritans went to America and that country was established with a very strong Christian Foundation… But the West seems to be falling into decline, and often I say, thank God for Africa; thank God for Southeast Asia, where faith is still holding on to the scriptures. And, tell us about how this GAFCON really started, because it actually, sort of, in a funny way, I believe, came out of Nigeria, correct?
GD: Well, it’s… Archbishop Peter Akinola was certainly the leader. And he was the first chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council. He was instrumental as was Archbishop Peter Jensen in Sydney, I might add, but a number of primates from around the world—what was part of what we call the global south, so both in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America—and they came to a decision in December 2007 that they wouldn’t go to Lambeth, which was 2008, but they would have their own conference. And where better to hold it?—in Jerusalem.
And not just a conference of bishops, but lay people and clergy as well. So it became a much more representative body of about 1100 people gathered in Jerusalem. I was there; it was a wonderful experience. And we wrote together and affirmed—the whole conference affirmed what’s called the Jerusalem Statement, and in that statement, was the Jerusalem Declaration—14 points of what identifies us as Anglicans with the authority of the Bible first up [and] a recognition there were some things which would separate us.
So women’s ministry was an issue which some people in the Diocese of—in the Province of Nigeria, for example, they don’t ordain women as deacons; in the Diocese of Sydney, we do; in the Province of Kenya they ordain women as deacons and priests, so you’ve got variety across the globe, but they’re on secondary matters—matters of order, not matters of the Gospel…
WM: … Gospel and the Word of God…
GD: … and we saw the consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003 and the inability of the Anglican Communion—under the leadership of Archbishop Rowan Williams—the inability to resolve the issue. They kept sending up committee after committee after committee, report after report after report—no action. Meanwhile, the Americans keep on their merry way with regard to endorsing same-sex unions and same-sex marriages and blessings, so that it’s completely their way of life in North America. And in 2008, the GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference)—it’s the future…
WM: It’s important to get that one…
GD: …that’s what GAFCON means…
WM: …it’s about the futu—it’s all about the future, isn’t it?
GD: … it’s all about the future, and it’s global. As I said before, the Anglican Communion is a communion of churches that hold the scriptures as authoritative and the Book—and the 39 Articles as an authoritative teaching of scripture in its theological expression, and the Book of Common Prayer as a liturgical expression thereof.
The Canterbury Communion represents those whom the Archbishop of Canterbury gathers to Lambeth. Well, God bless him; may he do so, but Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda did not go to Lambeth. There are 80 million Anglicans worldwide—that might be an inflated figure, of course, but 80 million is the number the Anglican Communion office represents—but 60 million are in GAFCON. That’s a significant proportion—and to think that we’re part of a breakaway movement!
The Diocese of Southern Cross is recognised by the GAFCON Primates Council, which represents 60 million Anglicans. You can’t say that we’re some kind of little minority. We are part of the continuity with Anglican history, theology and faith.
WM: Unpack the countries and the numbers behind GAFCON.
GD: Well, globally the Anglican Communion office talks about 80 million people—some of those might just be people who tick an Anglican box—and, of that 80 million, 60 million are in the Global Anglican Future Conference network. They’re GAFCON provinces or churches. So, for example, the largest is Nigeria and, I’ve forgotten the exact numbers, but it’s something like 20 million.
There are 11 million in Uganda, and then you have Rwanda, Kenya, the Congo, and Egypt—or the Province of Alexandria, which is in North Africa—then you’ve got Chile, Argentina, Brazil—very strong—the Anglican Church in North America—which is growing faster than the old Episcopal Church (the Episcopal Church in America) and very strong in both the United States and in Canada—you’ve got the Diocese of Sydney, of course—which has always been of this ilk and always kept strongly to the Bible—and other dioceses—Tasmania, Armidale, Northwest Australia—and, you know, and good Bishops in other dioceses, which might have a mixed, you know, population—Canberra/Goulburn and Bendigo, for example, the Murray.
So we are not a minority, in that regard, we actually are the majority. And, notwithstanding there might be viewpoints against us, we hold to the Reformation principles. The Pope excommunicated Henry VII after previously calling him the defender of the faith, so what does that mean he’s saying? “You’re no longer part of the Christian Church!” Well, people may want to try and excommunicate me—I don’t know what they might want to do—but I’m going to stand firm, because this is the Anglican tradition.
This Diocese of the Southern Cross is a genuinely Anglican Diocese and recognised by the GAFCON primates, as I said—so part of the Anglican Communion, not part of the Canterbury Communion. [It] may not get an invitation to Lambeth, but that is of such little importance. So many bishops didn’t go—about three hundred bishops didn’t even go to Lambeth, because they saw the revisionists.
The incoherence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, despite my love of the man, he invited the bishops in same-sex marriages in North America to come to Lambeth, but chose not to invite their spouses because their spouses were in breach of Resolution 110. And the incoherence is, “well, surely, if the spouses are in breach, surely the bishops themselves are in breach”—because they’re male and female bishops—some in lesbian relationships; some in homosexual relationships. The incoherence of that just upset everyone.
And I think the problem for the Archbishop of Canterbury is he’s part of an established church, and the government want to have same-sex blessings and same-sex marriage in the church, and the pressure is enormous. When the Archbishop of Canterbury was visiting Australia, recently, he said that it’s inevitable the General Synod will approve same-sex blessings—which they’ve currently not approved—because if we don’t do it, then the government will force it on us and we won’t be able to have the provisions for conscience.
Interestingly, since the Archbishop of Canterbury has returned to England, the Bishop of Oxford—a very senior bishop—has come out saying “we can no longer stop—we can no longer prevent—not only the blessing of same-sex marriages but solemnising same-sex marriages”. And a number of bishops come out—they’ve got a General Synod in February next year. I’m pretty certain they’re going to go down that route, and that will cause a great concern for us in Australia because we’re in communion with the Church of England. I think our communion with the Church of England will be broken because of their movement in this direction.
WM: The phrase that’s famous in Genesis in chapter 3 verse 1. It says the devil came to Eve in the garden and said about that tree, that she was forbidden to eat, “hath God said”. Of course, I’m using a King James—so, “has God said”. And in some ways, this seems to be almost a found— it’s not so much homosexual unions or this or that or that or this. It’s actually, “did God say it”, and there’s a doubt that that devil seems to enjoy pushing into the minds of us believers—not just the churches, but even as individuals: “did God really say that?” Your comment.
GD: Well, that of course is the beginning of the problem for humankind. Eve—and of course subsequently, Adam (and Adam has responsibility, in many ways)—but Eve hears Satan’s words—“has God said”—that immediately puts doubt in her mind. God had spoken to Adam; Adam had told Eve; she didn’t trust her husband in that regard—she could easily have spoken to him—Adam falls into the same problem that he doesn’t believe what God has said.
And Satan continues to rattle humans and say: “why don’t you think about what’s this situation?—you’re a human being; you’ve got rationality; you’ve got experience. Why don’t you make the decision? God may not have said this—perhaps we’ve misunderstood what God said. Ultimately, do we care what God says?” That’s the situation in Australia.
Martin Luther, in the 16th century, came to what was called the Diet of Worms—it sounds like a menu, but it was a council. And he says: “here I stand upon the teaching of the Word of God. I can do no other.” And that’s where we stand. Significant revival preachers, significant leaders in the church—not only in the Anglican church; in other Protestant churches too—have stood on the teaching of scripture, and that’s what the Diocese of the Southern Cross wants to do. That’s what we thought the Anglican Church of Australia was grounded in—in its Constitution—and that’s been unravelled now by the Appellate Tribunal in an egregious opinion which I think is entirely wrong.
And yet, for some people, that becomes, “Well that’s the rules; that’s how we played the game.” Well, I’m not interested in playing games; I’m interested in standing firm with what God says, and I want to give that message to every Australian: if you’re listening and not even an Anglican and perhaps not even a Christian, let me suggest to you—let me implore you—to pick up a Gospel. Read the New Testament about the story of Jesus and what He came to do because that is compelling.
I believe—and it’s been shown throughout history—that the Word of God, with the Spirit of God, can change a person’s heart and see the importance of Jesus coming into the world. To ignore Jesus, we do so at our peril. To ignore the teaching of Jesus, we do so at our peril. To ignore the teaching of God in His Word, we do so to our peril.
And what the Diocese of the Southern Cross is is a lifeboat—particularly for Christians and clergy in those dioceses where they have ignored the teaching of scripture; they’ve twisted the words of scripture so it conforms to the views of the world… it conforms to— they want to have unity but the unity will be, “let anything happen; let anything go; let any truth that they perceive to be the case…” …rather than saying, anchoring it on God’s truth—what God has said to us in His Word. The plain teaching of the Bible is there for everyone to see.
It’s very interesting: the very minister— the very academic that Archbishop Aspinall referred to—a fellow called Dr Bill Loader—when he talked about, you know, “we can move away from the teaching the Bible”. He actually says, “of course”—this is Bill Loader, the academic—“of course, Paul’s against homosexual activity, but the question is: we can disagree with Paul. We can, we don’t have to subscribe to the teaching of scripture because we’re 21st-century intellectuals. We can have our own view.” And that, of course, is the same ancient temptation of Satan—“has God said?”—and enticing us to think differently from God and use our own experience and rationality to overturn the teaching of scripture. But that’s not going to last at the Last Day, when God will judge the secrets of men’s hearts by Jesus Christ.
WM: It’s been an absolute pleasure to talk to you, and you really have wrapped up our conversation so beautifully just then. But I’d like to give you one more opportunity: if you could in one or two minutes. What would you say to the people of Australia and to your Anglican brothers and sisters in Christ—wherever and whoever they might be—to look at the camera and speak those wonderful words.
GD: “If you’re an Australian or anyone in the world listening: you’ve been made in the image of God. You are precious to God, and God loves you. He sent His Son Jesus to live the life you could not live and to die the death that you deserve. Your deepest need is a relationship with the Living God who created you because that God is going to judge the world one day. We know this because He’s told us and the Lord Jesus came into this world to explain the message of God’s love and how we can escape the coming wrath.
Friends, believe in Jesus; put your trust in Jesus; read His Word and let it fill your heart that His Spirit will join you to the Lord Jesus not only in this life but forever. Your sins will be forgiven; you’ll become heirs of the Kingdom of God and be with God and His Saints and His people forever. If you’re an Anglican, in particular: hold firm to the faith that has been delivered once to all the saints. Hold firm to that and if your bishop is teaching otherwise, you hold firm to the teaching of Jesus. That’s what I implore you to do.
If you need to join the Southern Cross, by all means, do. I’ve just provided a lifeboat; that’s all we’ve done. I’m not persuading people to join us. You might be able to continue faithfully in your congregation, and do so. Be a light in a dark place. But if you aren’t able to do that, the Southern Cross will welcome you as a brother or sister in Christ who wants to honour Jesus in every aspect of their lives.”
*Glenn has kindly pointed out a few minor errors in his interview: “The reference in question to the Appellate Tribunal was in 2019 and they gave their Opinion in 2020 (not 2021). I also referred to this year’s Lambeth Conference as being held in 2020, instead of 2022. My apologies.”
Thank the Source