Bible teacher RT Kendall explains why he believes the Church of England must urgently change course on last week’s decision to allow same-sex blessings
When we first met and I called you “Your Grace” you insisted that I call you Justin. You will recall that we met at Focus a few years ago, the summer festival of Holy Trinity Brompton. Nicky Gumbel kindly asked me to give Bible talks and one of the great highlights was to meet you.
You overwhelmed me with your kindness and affirmation of my preaching and welcomed Louise and me to come to Lambeth Palace to have coffee with you and Caroline – which we were honored to do at least twice. You shared with me how you wanted us to pray for you and I can honestly say that Louise and I have prayed for you and Caroline daily for over six years.
Soon after we first came England in 1973, I heard Archbishop Michael Ramsey speak at the University Church, Oxford, and asked him to sign my Bible. I never dreamed I would get to know a future Archbishop of Canterbury. You signed my Bible at Focus and I would say we have been friends since then. You may recall that I made you a promise: that I would never ask you to do something for me. I commented that all people who come to see you want something! You agreed! I promised to be an exception. By that I meant that I would never ask for a recommendation, a commendation or foreword to a book. I have valued our relationship and the privilege of praying for you. I wanted nothing more.
I have tried twice to see you in the past year – when I knew I would be in London, but your diary was filled both times. So when I heard the news on television a few nights ago that the Church of England will allow vicars to bless same sex relationships, I was saddened beyond ability to express. Knowing that I will not be in London for a good while, I felt compelled to do a brief video with my Twitter following. I reach several hundred people daily, but I have received an overwhelming response to this one, and thousands of comments keep coming in.
Arch bishop of Canterbury. pic.twitter.com/diF6KCrmEA— RT Kendall (@DrRTKendall) January 22, 2023
The first thing I said was that if you, Justin, were to climb down from this position, you would, in my opinion, be regarded as the greatest Archbishop of Canterbury in English history. You certainly would. No archbishop – at least since Thomas Cranmer in 1555 – has shown such courage of conviction. The issue you are facing is more fierce and heated than the theology of the Eucharist that cost Cranmer his life.
They don’t burn people at the stake nowadays, but the ostracism, the pain, the hate and vitriol you and Caroline would endure would be beyond imagination. But God would be with you. He would honour you. You could also be encourager number one in the world for those who uphold the biblical view of sexuality. We have no recognisable leader in America; the Billy Grahams of this world are gone.
I realise you would not perform a same sex marriage, or even use these blessings yourself. But we can see clearly the direction of travel the church is embarking on. I fear the next generation will compromise on biblical truth and begin to conduct gay marriages. You are in the position to stop it.
I need to add that as soon as I said what I did in the video about your being regarded as great, I caught myself and realised that this would not work with you! Having spent time with you, I realise you are not an ambitious man. I was barking up the wrong tree.
I therefore am not particularly appealing to your place in history but your love for God and the Bible. Forgive me if I am a little presumptuous, but you would not like my preaching if you did not love the Bible! I know things you have shared with me about your devotional life. You are a good man. I know this. I doubt there is an ambitious bone in your body and I think the goodness in you is why you want to affirm same-sex relationships. If I have got this right, I get this and appreciate you for this.
But I plead with you on bended knee, Justin, please don’t allow the Church of England to continue down this path, which will end with same-sex marriage being allowed. It goes right against the eternal principle of marriage laid down in Genesis 1:27 and 2:24-25. The last thing you need from me is to quote the Bible to you. You know this as well as I do. But in a day in which holy scripture is more and more minimised in the pulpit throughout the Western world and the northern hemisphere, your robust stand will glorify God and affirm Christians of all denominations at a time this is desperately needed. If you don’t, Justin, no one will. I regard you as the last hope.
I am indebted to England – I owe my ministry to Britain and the Church of England – strange as the latter may seem to some. But it is the truth. The Thirty-nine Articles are solid and you could be the last major leader to take a stand for theological integrity.
God bless you, Justin and Caroline.