Church of Nigeria and the proposed Anglican Covenant

Bishop John Akao, Church of Nigeria, Church Times March 18 2011

What is a Christian Covenant?

The cautious attitude of most African Anglican provinces towards the recent ‘Anglican Covenant’ is informed by their historic commitment to biblical orthodoxy and influenced by their spiritual heritage, culture and moral values. Africa benefitted from missionary endeavours that upheld   faith in God, the lordship of Christ, authority of the Scriptures and cherished traditions. Despite the colonial superstructure upon which Anglicanism was introduced, the church has grown mostly due to indigenous missionary initiatives by the people themselves.

African Christian understanding of a covenant agrees with Christian theological interpretation of covenant as a strong commitment to relationship between two or more parties on agreed terms.

Covenant presupposes that the parties mutually accept the terms, are in communion, and commit to respect and be bound by the terms as well as subject to the consequences of obeying or violating it. In traditional African society, covenant is sacrosanct and cannot be trivialized without dire repercussions more so when oaths have been sworn to in the name of God. The fear of God underscores respect for divine laws and religious worship. In virtually every African society, there exist sets of moral laws called taboos (abominations) which are strictly adhered to. These values already existed before the coming of Christianity; they were only reinforced by it. Indeed, the African morality is similar to biblical portrait of Jewish and early Church moral values. This attitude was transposed to Christian faith and ethics by African converts to Christianity. They therefore manifest in their faith, worship and morals, biblical tenets and precepts according to the Word of God. Whenever African culture conflicts with Christian tenets, culture bows to the superiority and authority of Scripture. The African spirituality does not dwell on philosophical abstractions to the detriment of spiritual realities such as belief in God, judgment, heaven and hell. It accepts sin as evil. Therefore, Africans interpret deviant behaviors such as homosexuality as abominable actions which corrupt the Church, dilute the Christian faith and jettison the very biblical foundations of the ‘faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints’. Read the rest of this entry »

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