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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bishop Akinola - Historical overview and current actions

The following is from the Archbishop Peter Akinola in Nigeria. This article was printed in BabyBlue Online and StandFirm. It was so good I had to give you the opening paragraphs. You can read the rest at the link below. BabyBlue Online's intro has some great links that I hate for you to miss if you are interested in the situation in the Anglican Church. They are included below:

BabyBlue NOTE: We were with Archbishop Akinola late yesterday afternoon with others from Virginia and it was an extraordinary time to hear from the Archbishop himself, as well as ask him questions and spend time in conversation with him. He is an extraordinary man, one who has an incredible sense of humor as well as a sharp mind and a big heart. That is the man I know. These words are his. When you meet him it is clear that he is passionately committed not only to our Lord Jesus Christ, but to the Church and the Anglican Communion. Last night he reminded us, among other things, that he is not leaving the Anglican Communion (and plese take note of that). The journey he recounts here begins in Kuala Lumpur, a meeting I remember hearing so much about ten years ago, as well as the historic document that came from that gathering and how it came before General Convention in Philadelphia in 1997. It had been in response to this presented by Bishop Spong of Newark that outlined where The Episcopal Church was indeed headed (I remember both documents laid out side by side in the House of Bishops in 1997, and that was ten years ago). Denver 2000 was a shock to the progressives that what they wanted didn't happen on their timetable and so cooked up the ingenious plan (make no mistake about it - remember who Gene Robinson's predecessor was) to elect Gene Robinson and time it so that confirmations would have to be conducted at General Convention 2003, thereby assuring that this statement would become the policy of The Episcopal Church, something all ready in place in practice, but with the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire became officially sanctioned of The Episcopal Church - and without one change to either the liturgy or the canons - and of course, ignoring the teachings of Scripture, the pleas from all the instruments of the unity in the Communion, and the House of Bishop's own theological committee itself.

Here Archbishop Akinola reminds us where we've been and how we got to where we are today, now forty days before the Dar es Salaam deadline.

A Most Agonizing Journey towards Lambeth 2008

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1,3)

We have been on this journey for ten long years. It has been costly and debilitating for all concerned as most recently demonstrated by the tepid response to the invitations to the proposed Lambeth Conference 2008. At a time when we should be able to gather together and celebrate remarkable stories of growth and the many wonderful ways in which our God has been at work in our beloved Communion as lives are transformed new churches built and new dioceses established there is little enthusiasm to even meet.

There are continual cries for patience, listening and understanding. And yet the record shows that those who hold to the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints” have shown remarkable forbearance while their pleas have been ignored, their leaders have been demonized, and their advocates marginalized. We made a deliberate, prayerful decision in 1998 with regard to matters of Human Sexuality. It was supported by an overwhelming majority of the bishops of the Communion. It reflected traditional teaching interpreted with pastoral sensitivity. And yet it has been ignored and those who uphold it derided for their stubbornness. However, we have continued to meet and pray and struggle to find ways to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The journey started in February 1997 in Kuala Lumpur. It was here, during the 2nd Encounter of the Global South Anglican Communion that a statement was issued in which concern was expressed about the apparent setting aside of biblical teaching by some provinces and dioceses. The statement pleaded for dialogue in ‘a spirit of true unity’ before any part of the Communion embarks on radical changes to Church discipline and moral teaching. [ ]

Sadly, this plea, and several similar warnings, have been ignored and ten years later, in February 2007, the Primates of the Anglican Communion met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and experienced an agonizing time trying to repair the Communion that has been so badly broken. Their earlier prediction at the Primates Meeting at Lambeth Palace in 2003, that rejection of the faith committed to us would tear “the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level,” has proven to be accurate. In Dar es Salaam the Primates proposed, as one last attempt to restore unity, a period of seven months for those who have brought our Communion to the brink of destruction to reconsider their actions and put a stop to the harmful actions that have so polarized our beloved church. [ ]

With about seven weeks to go, hope for a unified Communion is not any brighter than it was seven months or ten years ago. Rather, the intransigence of those who reject Biblical authority continues to obstruct our mission and it now seems that the Communion is being forced to choose between following their innovations or continuing on the path that the church has followed since the time of the Apostles.

We have made enormous efforts since 1997 in seeking to avoid this crisis, but without success. Now we confront a moment of decision. If we fail to act we risk leading millions of people away from the faith revealed in the Holy Scriptures and also, even more seriously, we face the real possibility of denying our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The leadership of The Episcopal Church USA (TECUSA) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) seem to have concluded that the Bible is no longer authoritative in many areas of human experience especially in salvation and sexuality. They claim to have ‘progressed’ beyond the clear teaching of the Scriptures and they have not hidden their intention to lead others to these same conclusions. They have even boasted that they are years ahead of others in fully understanding the truth of the Holy Scriptures and the nature of God’s love.

Both TECUSA and ACoC have been given several opportunities to consult, discuss and prayerfully respond through their recognized structures. While they produced carefully nuanced, deliberately ambiguous statements, their actions have betrayed them. Their intention is clear; they have chosen to walk away from the Biblically based path we once all walked together. The unrelenting persecution of the remaining faithful among them shows how they have used these past few years to isolate and destroy any and all opposition.

We now confront the seriousness of their actions as the year for the Lambeth Conference draws near. Sadly, this Conference is no longer designed as an opportunity for serious theological engagement and heartfelt reconciliation but we are told will be a time of prayer, fellowship and communion. These are commendable activities, but this very Communion, however, has been broken by the actions of the American and Canadian churches. The consequence is most serious because, even if only one province chooses not to attend, the Lambeth Conference effectively ceases to be an Instrument of Unity. The convener’s status as an instrument or focus of unity becomes seriously challenged. Repentance and reversal by these provinces may yet save our Communion. Failure to recognize the gravity of this moment will have a devastating impact.

Read the rest at BabyBlue Online. Scroll down to "Scorned Opportunities"...


Andrew Kern said...

Kerry, You've got a great blog and a good discussion going on here. Your writing is impressive and windy too. You must make Erik very proud!

I'm going to copy your giveaway idea on my blog.

BTW Forgive me for writing under this particular post, to which my comments have no reference unless something enters my mind in the next couple seconds to justify this spot, but I wanted to comment on your blog on your blog and there was, so far as I could tell, nowhere else to do it because those Anglican bishops have made such a mess of things.

Oh, there, I did it!