frgavin on August 17th, 2008

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

Despite huge and obvious divergences, the Anglican Communion is struggling to reach a new level of maturity, wrote Mrs. Katharine Jefferts Schori, TEC Presiding Bishop, in a by-lined article in the Guardian newspaper. The recently-concluded Lambeth Conference provided an opportunity for bishops from around the Anglican Communion to discover the deeper realities of the contexts in which each seeks to spread the gospel, she said.

“One bishop from India reported a legislative requirement to obtain a magistrate’s certificate before baptizing a convert, with a prison term of several years and a significant fine as the penalty for proceeding without legal sanction.

“A bishop’s spouse from Africa reported the church’s difficulty in supporting widows who are pressured to marry the dead husband’s brother (even if already married), or else forfeit their children and property.”

VOL: Perhaps Mrs. Schori could have mentioned a Canadian Christian Pastor who is being threatened with jail for daring to say that sodomy is unbiblical and bad for your health.

Jefferts Schori: “Bishops from Madagascar told of cyclones that destroy their people’s homes and crops, often several times a year, and how they seek to build strong church buildings that can be havens from the storms as well as seats of learning.

VOL: This is a problem of natural evil which Jesus himself addressed. Wealthy churches like the Episcopal Church should be giving money to build and rebuild such structures instead of spending millions of dollars on lawsuits suing orthodox parishes for their properties.

Jefferts Schori: Western bishops spoke of the church’s pastoral role in seeking to provide sacred support for same-sex couples living in monogamous, life-long relationships.

VOL: There is no biblical evidence that the churches should be supporting any such sexual arrangements outside of heterosexual marriage. This is to denigrate and pollute “sacred” marriage and the gospel and offers a reductionist view of human sexual behavior that has no sanction in 2000 years of church history and is still not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, the great Orthodox churches of the East and West, the vast majority of Evangelicals throughout the world nor is it the overwhelming thinking of the Muslim community.

Jefferts Schori: “Bishops from Africa and Asia told of the difficulty of evangelism in majority Muslim societies. Sudanese bishops sought partnerships as they seek to resettle returning refugees and rebuild a devastated church structure.”

VOL: The Presiding Bishop missed the impromptu press conference by the Sudanese Archbishop who said Bishop Gene Robinson should resign and blamed western pansexualism for the difficulties in evangelizing Muslims. Jefferts Schori deliberately overlooks the fact that one of the great difficulties in doing Muslim evangelism is that they are pouring scorn, and, in some cases, persecuting Christians because of Western Anglican homosexual stances. How convenient of her to do this.

Jefferts Schori: “A Tanzanian bishop lamented the difficulty of biblical study without libraries or access to the scholarly tools Westerners take for granted. ”

VOL: As these brothers are orthodox, perhaps the Presiding Bishop could offer generous scholarships for their priests to study at TSM and Nashotah House. The “generous orthodoxy” of Virginian Theological Seminary is a bit too generous for African Evangelical Anglicans.

Jefferts Schori: Japanese bishops spoke of the church’s inability to address social change when Christianity is such a small part of society.

VOL: Japan’s Anglicans have never been known for their evangelical zeal. Despite a prosperous society, only 4% of Japanese people are Christians (George Gallup). Following World War II, the Japanese bought into America’s economic capitalist system, but not its gospel. This failure might be as much ours as theirs.

Jefferts Schori: “Given divergences that look interplanetary in degree and scale, what does this diverse body have in common? Certainly a recognizably common framework of worship, descended from the Church of England. A reliance on sacred scripture, in common with tradition and reason, also characteristic of roots in British Christianity. And a passion for caring for their flocks – the hungry, the sick, the aged and infirm, widows and orphans, and the forgotten, as well as those who know no good news.

“But the forms and structures of the various provinces of the Anglican Communion have diverged significantly, in ways that challenge those ancient ties to England and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Those provinces are the result of evangelism tied to colonial structures, whether of Britain or her former colonies, and that colonial history has still to be unpacked and assessed. The present attempts to manage conflict in the communion through a renewed focus on structural ties to old or new authorities have generated significant resistance, both from provinces who largely absented themselves from Lambeth and from dissenting voices among the attending bishops.

VOL: Correct. And the reason those provinces have absented themselves is because bishops like Jefferts Schori, Gene Robinson, Tom Shaw, et al don’t have the same gospel as the vast majority of the world’s Anglicans and they are in deep conflict over the meaning of mission and sex outside of marriage. The Episcopal Church has nobody to blame but itself for the mess it has caused and continues to cause the wider Anglican Communion.

Jefferts Schori: “The Anglican communion’s present reality reflects a struggle to grow into a new level of maturity, like that of adult siblings in a much-conflicted family. As we continue to wrestle, sufficient space and respect for the differing gifts of the siblings just might lead to greater maturity in relationship. This will require greater self-definition as well as decreased reactivity. Jesus’ own example in relationships with his opponents and with his disciples will be instructive.”

VOL: The truth is that the Anglican Communion’s “present reality” is one of apostasy and heresy in the West verses orthodoxy in faith and morals among the majority of the world’s Anglicans. The Global South rejects any notion that the new “maturity” leads to pansexual acceptance. It is Jefferts Schori and her ilk that want to change the doctrine and discipline of the church, and by doing so have brought the whole communion to the brink of schism.

The Anglican Communion is de facto split with the birth of GAFCON and it will not go backwards in the name of “maturity”. The so-called “dithering gifts” have fractured the Anglican Communion and, like Humpty Dumpty, will not be put back together again. “Greater self-definition” means being accountable to nobody including the Archbishop of Canterbury and “decreased reactivity” isn’t going to happen. The Internet will see to that. Asking Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola not to be “reactive” to Western apostasy is a bit like asking a caged lion not to eat a half dead cow being handed to it.

Anglican unity is over. The Lambeth Conference is finished. All that remains to be seen is who speaks for Anglicanism and the Anglican Communion as we move into the 21st Century. It surely isn’t a dying Western Anglican Church.

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