Monday, 4 February 2008

Crisis in the global Anglican Church


Many of you will be aware that the international Anglican Church is in crisis. It was brought about by the ordination, five years ago, of Gene Robinson, a practicing homosexual, as Bishop of New Hampshire, USA. Within the Anglican denomination, the bishops are the key expression of church unity. The meeting that expresses that unity is the ten-yearly Lambeth Conference, which all the bishops attend.
Or should I say attended, past tense…?
Several bishops, who hold a conservative, Biblical view of sexuality, have been protesting against Gene Robinson’s ordination for years. The protest has swelled to become a protest against the liberal, politically-correct, culturally-driven views of sexuality promoted by American, Canadian and English Anglican churches. Inevitably, it also became a protest against the fact that these churches marginalise and ignore the Bible – a manoeuvre that must happen before such liberal, politically-correct, culturally-driven views of sexuality can be accepted.
The next Lambeth conference is in July – August 2008. However, several Biblically conservative bishops have decided they will not attend. Among them is Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney. The press release is at http://your.sydneyanglicans.net/sydneystories/sydney_steps_back_from_lambeth, and Peter Jensen’s explanation is at http://your.sydneyanglicans.net/senior_clergy/archbishop_jensen/articles/why_i_am_going_to_israel/. This refusal of bishops to meet with each other is a final declaration that the international Anglican Church has changed. It brings tensions, which have existed for decades, to the surface. The global Anglican Church is in fact two churches, with two different missions, determined to evangelise and convert each other. One church’s mission is to champion the values and attitudes – including sexual attitudes – of (post)modern Western culture. This inevitably leads to the Bible being marginalised as an outdated, oppressive text. The other church’s mission is to champion the Bible as the Word of God, which calls us to repent – change, turn, be different – and trust Christ as Lord. This inevitably brings the Bible, and its values and attitudes, into conflict with worldly culture (Western, non-Western, whatever).
Some of the Biblically conservative bishops have organised a conference for “orthodox Anglicans, who are upholding the authority of scriptures, and believe that the time has come to come together to fashion the future of our Anglican family” [quote by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria]: GAFCON – Global Anglican Future Conference - http://www.gafcon.org/. It is not an alternate Lambeth. It is not for Bishops alone – ministers and lay people are also invited. But, it will be a forum for Biblical Anglicans to fellowship, encourage each other, and think about global mission – the kind of thing that Lambeth was supposed to do.
Depending on your point of view, this refusal to attend Lambeth, and organising of an alternate conference, is either a lamentable schism, or a courageous protest. No prizes for guessing where I stand. Go for it, brothers…! Please pray for Anglican Church leaders worldwide. Pray for Sydney's Peter Jensen, and Nigeria's Peter Akinola - he's become the de-facto international leader of Biblical Anglicanism. Pray also for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams - I don't trust him an inch, but he seems to genuinely be trying to find a compromise, and he must feel like everyone on both sides are against him (see my previous blog entry, 6 Jan 2008, "meat in the sandwich"). Pray that whatever happens, the name of Christ will spread and be honoured.

2 comments:

Roger Gallagher said...

Hi Kamal,

You might be aware that the Anglo-Catholic diocese of San Joaquin recently voted to leave ECUSA and join the Province of the Southern Cone (basically, southern South America). Jefferts-Schori (head of ECUSA) responded by inhibiting the Bishop and deposing the Standing Committee of San Joaquin unless they repented.

The Standing Committee of San Joaquin has responded in a manner that could best be described as pouring petrol on a fire. The link is attached here:
http://sanjoaquin.wordpress.com/2008/02/01/from-the-standing-committee-of-the-diocese-of-san-joaquin/

Giraffe Pen (기린 만년필) said...

Good work San Joaquin! Making a stand for the gospel like that is wise and encouraging.
Shunning Lambeth and meeting in Israel is wise too.

Haydn.