LONDON — The apostatized Church of England has released new guidance for “parishes planning services to help transgender people mark their transition,” a move that has raised concerns among those who were already worried about the direction of the denomination.
“The Church of England welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people, equally with all people, within the body of Christ, and rejoices in the diversity of that body into which all Christians have been baptized by one Spirit,” it reads.
The document, which was written following consultation with three male priests who identify as women—who go by the names Tina Beardsley, Sarah Jones and Rachel Mann—was released on Tuesday after being approved by the House of Bishops.
It states that if a person who identifies as the opposite sex has not yet been baptized, “then baptism itself would be the natural liturgical context for recognizing and celebrating their identity in Christ and God’s love for them.” If the individual was baptized in the past, then the rite of Affirmation of Baptismal Faith would be employed to “recognize liturgically a person’s gender transition.”
“The affirmation therefore gives priority to the original and authentic baptism of the individual as the sacramental beginning of the Christian life, allowing someone who has undergone a serious and lasting change to re-dedicate their life and identity to Christ,” the directives claim.
The document further advises leaders to avoid stereotyping and to use the preferred pronouns and chosen name of the church member during the service.
It also provides suggestions in regard to Scripture readings for the service, such as Genesis 17, where God changes Sarai’s name of Sarah; Genesis 32, where Jacob is named Israel after wrestling with an angel; and Galatians 3:27-28, which says that for those baptized into Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The guidance also states that the person may be anointed with oil, presented with gifts such as a Bible with their chosen name, and invited to provide their “testimony,” so as to “provide both the candidate and congregation with an opportunity both to understand the person’s Christian journey and to affirm them in their identity.”
However, some have expressed deep concern over the development, including Andrea Williams of Christian Concern, who serves as a lay member of the General Synod. Her statement was also published by the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which released an open letter earlier this year urging Christians to “defend the gospel against threats from without and within.”
“Today’s guidance continues the Church of England’s devastating trajectory towards an outright denial of God and His word, by undermining what it means to be baptized and to identify with Him through baptism,” Williams lamented.
“The point of baptism is to identify a person with Jesus as they begin a life of following Him,” she noted. “Using an affirmation of baptism to celebrate a gender transition turns this upside down by encouraging people to follow their own feelings and live in identities contrary to how God created them.”
Williams said that the Church of England thinks that it is being “loving” in releasing the guidance, but it is actually doing the opposite.
“There is no need for Christians to sacrifice truth in a misguided attempt to be loving. It is not loving to mislead people—and wider society—into the falsehoods and myths of transgender ideology,” she remarked.
“The Bible, God’s revealed and perfect word, does not recognize postmodern gender theory. Neither does the official doctrine of the Church of England. It is time for bishops to teach faithfully on this issue and for the clergy to speak with love, compassion and truth.”
As previously reported, in July 2017, Gavin Ashenden wrote for Anglican Ink that the Church of England has presented a false Jesus to the world in matters of both homosexuality and transgenderism—which is especially dangerous and damning to those who are perishing.
“Where the real Jesus saves us from our sins and offers us renewal in the image and furthers the likeness of God, the fake Jesus offers to make us comfortable in our skins, cozy with our sexual appetites and untroubled by having the central areas of who we are off limits to the interference of God,” he outlined.
“This comes under the historic categories of both blasphemy and heresy,” Ashendon continued. “It interferes with peoples’ salvation. It replaces faith in the Living Christ with pseudo-therapy. It is an abandonment of the heart of the gospel; and this is done by people who when they use the words ‘Jesus, holy, love and acceptance,’ have twisted the words to mean very different things from what the Church has always intended.”