The State of the Anglican Communion: Midterm Report

The State of the Anglican Communion: Midterm Report

Homosexuality has become the Ebola of the Anglican Communion

COMMENTARY

By David Virtue DD
www.virtueonline.org
August ,2014

Archbishop of Nigeria the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, leader of the Anglican Communion’s largest and fastest growing Anglican province with more than 20 million active Anglican souls, slipped into Washington, D.C., last week to meet with his CANA bishops, ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach, and other Anglican figures. His appearance in the US went unheralded and unnoticed by either the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, Mariann Edgar Budde, or the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori.

This is not surprising. There is no love lost between the leaders of the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Nigeria. Like a bad marriage, the two have separated, but are not officially divorced — since Primate Okoh and a dozen of his fellow primates failed to show up in Dublin, Ireland in 2011 to contemplate the Communion’s future in the light of current trends with the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. It is a divorce in all but name and the separation seemingly permanent. No one is prepared to sign the divorce papers.

The besetting sin that has bedeviled the Anglican Communion for more than two decades is, of course, homosexual practice, and, concomitantly, doctrinal uncertainty, theological compromise (the ordination of women to the priesthood and more recently the episcopacy) as well as near total moral breakdown with multiple sexualities now looking for acceptance in the Episcopal Church pipeline.

Homosexuality has become the Ebola of the Anglican Communion. It is spreading throughout western Anglican provinces with major efforts being made by The Episcopal Church and the London based Anglican Consultative Council (the fourth instrument of unity), aided by the Listening Process, to infiltrate Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Of course, those of us who know Philip Groves, the Listening Process “facilitator”, knew early on that this had nothing to do with listening. It had everything to do with pushing and promoting a behavior funded by then Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold to which church Groves bows deeply for his paycheck.

His efforts and those of the Episcopal Church are meeting with some small success in Africa, particularly the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and those poverty stricken African dioceses in provinces that are still orthodox in faith and morals. Major efforts are underway in Tanzania, Central Africa, Uganda, and Kenya to change the Church’s received scriptural teachings on sexuality for post-modern “doctrines” of inclusion and diversity regarding homosexual practice.

Only a handful of African Anglican primates are prepared to apply the serum of scripture to the death rattle of sodomy now spreading across the Anglican Communion.

GAFCON

In response to the torn fabric of the Communion and the intractableness of Western pan Anglicanism over sexuality, the birth of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which took place a month before the Lambeth conference in 2008, brought the promise of new life into an ailing Communion.

Orthodox Anglicans from Africa to the US rejoiced that at last they had an ecclesiastical home they could call their own. The Jerusalem Declaration was issued and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans was created. Conference participants also saw the creation of the Anglican Church in North America as an alternative to the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada. It declared that recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury was not necessary to Anglican identity.

A new day dawned in Anglicanism, one that has changed the Anglican Communion picture so dramatically that it will never be the same again.

Even though Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby refuses to recognize the ACNA, the movement recently surged past the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) in average Sunday attendance leaving an embarrassed archbishop not knowing what to do or how to respond.

In a very real sense, he is caught between a rock and a hard place. If he recognizes the ACNA, he will isolate and alienate both the Episcopal Church and the ACoC. If he does not (and that seems to be the direction he is going), he risks ignoring the elephant in the narthex and further alienating the very evangelicals to which he theologically belongs.

His mantra, since he took office, has been one of reconciliation, the legacy of his years as a successful businessman. But business and the church are not remotely the same and reconciliation, while sounding good, has proven elusive in the Anglican Communion. GAFCON evangelicals could have been his missional spear carriers. He had a definitive moment. Instead he blew a major opportunity that will haunt him till the end of his episcopacy.

As an evangelical, he has sounded an uncertain bell over homosexuality, upsetting evangelical Anglicans worldwide, and at the same, time failing to be definitive enough for homosexuals in the Church of England. The recent Synod action to recognize sex only between a man and a woman in life long monogamy was a severe blow to homosexuals in the Church of England even as the Church rejoiced in paving the way for women bishops, another issue that set his Anglo-Catholic wing on edge.

Welby has seen the devastating effect of homosexuality in Africa. He has stood beside the graves of Christians slaughtered by Muslim extremists because of Western pandering to homosexuals, but he cannot fully escape his own country’s cultural acceptance of a behavior that has deadly spiritual and medical consequences. Like his predecessor, Rowan Williams, he will still not come out and declare definitively that the ontology and cosmology of sexuality has not, and will not, change because God has not changed his mind to accommodate less than 2 percent of the population. Cries of homophobia outweigh the facts of homosexual behavior and what is increasingly gay fascism posing as victimhood.

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

The Episcopal Church’s slow disintegration — recognized by liberal and conservative bloggers alike — continues. The hoped for influx of world-weary homosexuals into TEC following the consecration of Gene Robinson never materialized. Heightened publicity generated by Robinson’s celebrity status with a president has not resulted in gains for TEC.

Churches are growing smaller, parishioners are getting older, and a fortress mentality is setting in with “I don’t care what goes on in New York or San Francisco or LA, leave us alone.” The truth is that of the 6700 congregations in existence, only a small handful will ever see a homosexual or lesbian priest. The other truth is that a growing number of congregations can no longer afford full time clergy and must make do with retired or part time priests to fill their pulpits. The ability of a parish to pay a full time priest, who must also pay off seminary fees and raise a family, is shrinking by the week.

Meantime, the Anglican Communion marches relentlessly forward, its orthodox wing growing while its liberal wing shrivels and dies despite talk of a new reformation.

GLOBAL SOUTH PRIMATES

The Anglican Global South is a grouping of 24 of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion and should not be confused with GAFCON archbishops even though there is some overlapping of jurisdictions and Primates. Both groups are orthodox in faith and morals with GAFCON primates more aggressive in their dealings with Western liberals, preparing to strike back when occasions call for it. The Global South are more careful not wanting to upset the Archbishop of Canterbury in his role of Primus inter pares.

The provinces identified with the Global South represent most of the Third World provinces within the Communion, including all those from Africa, most from Asia and two Oceania provinces. It significantly excludes the Anglican Churches of Brazil, Australia and New Zealand, and the Asian provinces of Japan and Korea. The Anglican Church of Southern Africa is officially associated to the Global South despite being more liberal than their African counterparts.

Whether there will be a full convergence of GAFCON with the Global South Primates, only time will tell. There is certainly no hostility between the groups, just a difference in emphasis.

NEW ALLIANCES

New alliances continue to form. Recently, the split Diocese of South Carolina saw its bishop Mark Lawrence ally himself with the Primates of the Global South. A steering Committee lead by Egyptian Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis recognized his Episcopal orders thus giving him legitimate Episcopal oversight within the Anglican Communion. This was a red rag to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and she is sparing no efforts in lawsuits and dollars to win away the properties she believes belong to the Episcopal (national) Church. Sooner or later, the Supreme Court of the United States will be charged into making a definitive ruling as to whether “neutral principles” outweighs the Dennis Canon. We live in exciting times.

For the moment, this is how things stand. The ACNA continues to grow while TEC continues to shrivel. The Global South is wary of Welby though they are unwilling to upset the Anglican apple cart. Africans are endlessly patient and they have cause to be — time is on their side. They are the ONLY show in town and they have the numbers to prove it.

Just as evangelical Archbishop Okoh showed up in Washington, recently, the revisionist Presiding Bishop will also show up in the evangelically run Church of England. Boundary crossing is the new norm. Nobody can stop it.

With the birth of ACNA, a new day has dawned in North America. With the birth of the Anglican Mission in England and the possibility of it spreading to NZ and Australia, the momentum is on the side of an evangelically driven gospel, sans sodomy. Warfare continues, the battle rages on. But as Scripture attests, “Victory belongs to the Lord” (Prov. 21:31).

END

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