Editorial: What if He Were a Known Swindler, Idolater, Drunkard, or Slanderer?


What if He Were a Known Swindler, Idolater, Drunkard, or Slanderer?

At some point or another, we’ve all received news we found hard to comprehend.  Last week, Lambeth Palace weary orthodox Anglicans, who thought they had heard every ridiculous ecclesiastical thing under the sun, heard something more bizarre than anything before.  What was this piece of information?  It was that Mr Stephen Knott had been named Senior Appointments Secretary to both Archbishops.

For those not in the know, Mr Knott, is an ecclesiastical bureaucrat at Lambeth Palace.  He has been there in one capacity or another since 2013.  It isn’t news that people move up the ecclesiastical bureaucratic ladder.  It is to be expected.  

What makes Mr Knott’s appointment particularly newsworthy is that he is to be made the gatekeeper for all bishops, deans, and other senior roles within the Church of England.  He is a male in a same-sex “marriage” with the very modern Major General Alastair Bruce, Governor of Edinburgh Castle.  Mr Knott and the Major General’s “marriage” would not have been allowed in the Church of England. The ceremony received considerable press coverage last July as it was presided over by the Bishop of Edinburgh of the Scottish Episcopal Church.  

Some, but likely very few of you may be wondering why we would utilise this space to comment on the matter.  Actually, it is pretty straightforward.

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the fifth chapter of his first epistle, he had to address the very awkward situation of sexual immorality within the congregation.  It seems a man had married his stepmother.  Paul told the Corinthians that was so out of line that not even the pagans would do such a thing. Then he told them to expel him from the fellowship until he repented. The Apostle took church discipline very seriously and expected the Church to do likewise.

Which brings us to the knotty situation with Mr Knott.  

Later in that same chapter, the Apostle Paul details how seriously they were to take immorality within their fellowship.  From verse 9 he commands:  

“9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.”

As holders of offices in the apostolic succession, you’d think they would follow apostolic teaching.  

Would they have appointed a known swindler, idolater, drunkard, or slanderer?  Where do they find an exception clause?  How do they justify putting someone into a senior decision making post who is apostolically excluded from Christian fellowship let alone provincial management because of his behaviour?

Can you imagine the Apostle Paul’s response if the leaders at the Corinthian church had tried such a thing? 

We need to pray more for the archbishops.  We know they have a tough job but their shocking lack of biblical fidelity in this situation is cause for concern at every level of the Church.  They need to repent and mind the apostolic instructions.