ATLANTA: AAC Leader says Anglican Communion ship is Leaderless

by David C. Anderson
May 28th, 2010

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

We note the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion, and are most interested to see how and when Section 4 will actually be implemented. We will write more about the implications of this letter after having had some time for reflection. At first reading, it appears that in an hour when the Anglican Church globally needs sound, clear and orthodox leadership at the top, the captain of the Anglican Communion seems to be below decks preoccupied with lesser things, and neither the wheel nor the reef charts are being minded.

As we approach this Sunday we are reminded of one of the key beliefs – and mysteries – of the Christian faith: the Holy Trinity.

In the United States, this is also Memorial Day weekend. It commemorates the U.S. men and women who have given their life in service while in the military. It began as a way to honor Union soldiers of the American War Between the States, but was expanded after the first and second world wars and is now inclusive of all those who have given their life in military service.

It is also a time when we can honor those still alive who have served their country, and us, by serving in the military. I travel using the Atlanta airport as my home base, and there is an active group called the USO which welcomes troops in uniform, either leaving or returning from overseas deployment. To see 20 to 40 military people in uniform, carrying their heavy rucksacks, suddenly greeted by a crowd cheering and clapping, and to watch the expressions of happiness come across the faces of the uniformed travelers is very heart-warming.

Moving from the military battle front to the Anglican church battles, I was recently sent some comments by one of The Episcopal Church’s very liberal retired bishops. Bishop Walter Righter, the retired bishop of Iowa, quoted a portion of an article by Fr. James Stockton of Austin, Texas, published in the April 2010 issue of the Covenant Journal, where the priest opines, “It is, I think, a given that the proposed ‘Anglican Covenant’ is the fruit of a bad tree. It derives from the envy of a small number of emerging world primates and the homophobia of some influential North Americans.” Bishop Righter quotes this and agrees, saying, “That, I think, must be acknowledged by persons who are engaged in serious attempts at reconciliation.”

The difficulties in the Anglican Communion are compounded by the belief of liberal revisionists such as Bishop Righter and others that the driving force behind the “emerging world” Primates is envy, or as others have even alleged, ignorance, and additionally that the orthodox Anglican leaders in North America are homophobic. The inference is that if we could just get over our alleged homophobia, then things could be negotiated. Bishop Righter scores his point by emphasizing that Fr. Stockton’s assertions have to be acknowledged as truths before anyone can engage in serious work on reconciliation. Clearly it would be equally easy for many of us on the receiving end of Righter’s comment to respond with an assessment of Righter’s moral, ethical, or theological motives and state of being. To do so, however, would be equally unhelpful. I am more and more aware as I grow older that it is very difficult to accurately determine a person’s true motive or state of being, so I will simply observe that I think Bishop Righter is very wrong, and his assertions impact his own credibility.

The “emerging world” Primates, and in particular the Primates of Africa, are, with perhaps only a few exceptions, deeply committed to the faith brought forward to us by the apostles and saints, and brought to sub-Saharan Africa and the far East in many cases by missionaries from Europe only a few centuries ago.

Christianity has been in Africa since the earliest days in Egypt, Ethiopia, and North Africa, and our Western European Christianity owes much to early church leaders from that region. Zeal for the Gospel as received is very much the motive and driving force among most of the Primates in Africa. The driving force in North America that pushes the orthodox Anglicans forward is a similar zeal for the Gospel, and a desire to have the structure of the church uphold and honor Gospel teaching, and to be free of imposed restraints on the propagation of this Gospel. A theologically orthodox Anglican body is needed to be able to correctly define sin and virtue based on Holy Scripture, frame the catechesis such that the true faith is passed on to others and the Gospel accurately brought to those still in spiritual darkness, and see that transformational conversion is not only hoped for but realized.

May God have mercy on our leadership, where they are orthodox, give them vision, strength and courage, where they are in error, correct them and bring them to repentance and restoration, and in all things continue to establish the Church in fidelity to the truth, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Faithfully in Christ,

+David

The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson,
Sr. President and CEO, American Anglican Council

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