Bishop Tom Butler wrote the following commentary for the British Broadcasting Corporation website – emphasis is mine. (This is an excerpt: the entire commentary may be found here.)
Thought for the Day, 13 November 2007
The Rt Rev. Tom Butler
From biblical times Communion is a key word in church history meaning a fellowship of Christians devoted to the apostles teaching. The Anglican Communion, mirroring the Commonwealth, is a network of independent church provinces, giving a position of honour to the Archbishop of Canterbury, just as the Commonwealth sees the Queen as its symbolic focus of unity, and until now the Communion has relied upon strong bonds of mutual affection to hold it together.
Sadly, that seems no longer to be the case. There’s now talk of one province or another being expelled from the Communion if they don’t change their ways; and the argument that their ways make perfect sense in the context in which their church is set, no longer convinces all the members. There’s a demand for club rules, dignified by being called a Covenant. Fine perhaps, if they merely spell out the kind of behaviour expected in this family – less fine if they result in the stern demand – “Go and never darken our doorstep again” – for the family rules are not the family; as Groucho Marx also said, “A child of five would understand this – send someone to fetch a child of five.”
We have strong bonds of mutual affection – that’s why those of us who still hold to the authority of the bible are trying to call the rest of the communion to account. This issue is not of the same degree as Hudson Taylor growing his hair long and wearing Chinese clothing in order to bring the Gospel to China. This is not adiaphora – this is a matter of which Gospel we are proclaiming. Changing worship styles, what we wear, what we eat, in order to bring the Gospel to unreached people is completely biblically justifiable (a quick perusal of Paul’s letters will show that). Redefining what sin is, is not only not justifiable, it puts souls in danger.