Recently, a gathering of Anglicans from the Pacific Region began their Conference in Canberra by announcing the creation of a new Anglican Diocese of the Southern Cross with former Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies as bishop.
The split comes after events at the Anglican Church’s General Synod in May, where the majority of Australia’s bishops refused to acknowledge the biblical teaching that Christian marriage is a union between a man and a woman.
Davies, who was commissioned to lead the fledgling movement, said the new diocese would “stay true to the Bible’s teachings on sexuality” and reject the “revisionist theology” propagated by progressive archbishops in Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth.
The new diocese is not part of the Anglican Church in Australia but will be aligned with the majority of the world’s Anglicans through the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), a cluster of conservative churches that sits separate to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the principal leader of the Church of England. This network held its first gathering in 2008 in response to the consecration of a same-sex partnered bishop in the United States and the blessing of same sex unions in Canada.
The split has been supported by those in the evangelical wing of the Anglican Church, who oppose the Church’s continuing embrace of “progressive” ethical and moral values of the secular world, and shape the interpretation of Scripture accordingly.
The 3 Groupings of the Anglican Church
This split has been coming for some time, and it is not the first such occurrence. Indeed, since the Reformation, three distinct factions, if you will, developed within the Church.
As outlined by Australian priest, Monsignor Harry Entwhistle, in the Catholic Weekly, the first faction is comprised of those who have held on to their Catholic heritage as best they could. The second comprises the Calvinist/Evangelical faithful for whom the Scriptures are the sole authority in faith, and the third is what he calls the “Broad Church” faithful who are liberal and are open to changing the dogma.
In more recent times, the Broad Church “progressives” have been the main influence in the western Anglican world, while evangelicals have maintained influence in Africa, South America, and Asia. This latter group accounts for the majority of the world’s Anglicans.
The dominance of the “Broad Church” led to the 1990s decision to ordain women in ministries, prompting those in the Catholic wing of the Anglican Church to seek re-union with Rome. This was formally achieved under Pope Benedict XVI with the creation of Personal Ordinariates in England, North America, and Australia.
This structure allows full union with the Catholic Church while at the same time maintaining Anglican heritage and traditions of worship. The Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross was erected in Australia in 2012.
Thus, Catholic-minded Anglicans and now Evangelical Anglicans have split from the Anglican Church. As Entwhistle notes, the reason for both these splits is the belief that the Anglican Church has abandoned God’s truth as revealed in Jesus, Scripture, and Tradition.
Why Are People Turning Away From the Church?
This therefore begs the question of the broader reasons for the decline in adherence in the major Christian churches. The release of the Australian 2021 Census results showed a sharp decline in those professing Christianity as their religion, several commentators have reflected on the reasons for this.
However, they view the issue through a secular—and sometimes antagonistic—lens, putting forward the view that Christianity is old-fashioned, quaint, and a relic of the past not suited to the modern world.
This view forgets the fundamental mission of Christianity as being counter-cultural or beyond ordinary society.
In fact, according to St. John 15: 18-20: “If you belonged to the world, the world would know you for its own and love you; it is because you do not belong to the world, because I have singled you out from the midst of the world, that the world hates you.”
However, the Anglican Church’s leadership has forgotten this fundamental mission and decided it needs “to keep up with the times.” The reaction to the split from senior Anglican clergy in Australia is telling, likening the new diocese to a “cult.”
In particular, retired Anglican bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, George Browning, said it had no place in the Anglican Church. “A cult is generally understood to mean a group committed to a particular or singular personality, ideology, or goal; one that distinguishes them from mainstream practice or belief.”
“The recently announced ‘Diocese of the Southern Cross’ sadly fits this description, notwithstanding their cries to the contrary,” Bishop Browning said in a blog post. “If it quacks like a duck, it is a duck.”
Traditional Churches Continue to Thrive
Aside from the fact that one would have thought that a tenet of mainstream Christianity is the biblical teaching that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, what those like Bishop Browning fail to realise is that the rush to mingle with the culture that the world offers—in the hope that followers remain with the Church—has in fact, failed to keep the faithful.
In fact, has had the opposite effect except in places that are faithful to doctrine and traditional precepts and practices.
As I have written before in these pages, the same is happening within the Catholic Church. Churches, monasteries and seminaries that want to assimilate with the world, in other words, that “go woke,” are empty. Those who are doctrinally orthodox and adhere to Church teachings are thriving, and mainly with young people at that.
There are therefore lessons for the Catholic Church in the Anglican split, since it too risks being destroyed from within by those who believe it should conform with whatever values are the norm in society and forget its counter-cultural mission.
The words of G.K. Chesterton come to mind: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.