Church Times - Dr Jim Packer faces inhibition
Dr Jim Packer faces inhibition
by Ed Beavan
Scholarly: Dr Jim Packer
THE Evangelical theologian the Revd Dr Jim Packer has been issued with a formal notice removing his right to officiate in the Anglican Church of Canada.
Dr Packer, the 81-year-old British-born author of Knowing God, is Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, and a former Associate Principal of Trinity College in Bristol.
The notice relates to his position as an honorary assistant curate at St John’s, Shaughnessy, in Vancouver, in the diocese of New Westminster.
St John’s voted last month to leave the diocese and place itself under the oversight of the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Revd Greg Venables. At issue is New Westminster’s decision to allow same-sex blessings.
Dr Packer, together with three other clerics at the church, received a “Notice of Presumption of Abandonment of the Exercise of the Ministry” from the Bishop New Westminster, the Rt Revd Michael Ingham, which states that they have “publicly renounced the doctrine and discipline” of the Canadian Church.
Explaining the parish’s move in a series of recorded interviews on YouTube, Dr Packer said New Westminster’s decision to allow same-sex blessings was “a denial of something that’s integral to the Christian gospel. . .
“The Bible says that same-sex unions are off-limits as far as God is concerned, and the gospel requires anyone who has been involved in them to repent of that involvement and abandon it.”
A diocesan spokesman said that Bishop Ingham had not yet received a response from Dr Packer. He denied that the Bishop was “bringing charges” against the clergy, but merely following ecclesiastical procedure.
He said the Bishop regretted the churches’ leaving the diocese rather than choose to subscribe to a diocesan scheme of alternative oversight. Dr Packer has until 21 April to appeal against the notice.
In a letter to the Church Times, the Revd Rod Thomas, chairman of Reform, a conservative Evangelical group in the UK, said that the treatment of Dr Packer had “rightly created a huge sense of outrage across the Communion. . . To treat such a scholarly, godly and elderly man, who has been a key Evangelical leader for more than half a century, in this mean-spirited and aggressive manner is deeply upsetting.”
Two other parishes that voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada are due to find out what will happen to their property next week. A court decision will be made about the future of St George’s, Lowville, and St Hilda’s, Oakville, both in the diocese of Niagara.