Friday, 12 September 2008

interview with Archbishop Akinola

Third Way has published an interview with Archbishop Peter Akinola. It was conducted by Joel Edwards.

The title given it by the magazine is Solid as a rock.

There is also a news report in the Church Times by Pat Ashworth titled Akinola criticises West for cultural laxity and timidity.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 3:27pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion
Comments

When Nigerian society has got things right, we will all stand back in admiration. Until then, it's probably best for its religious leaders to concentrate on helping to improve it. I am only aware of many Nigerian immigrants seeking to move to our "godless" European societies: I don't think there is yet much of a pull in the other direction, is there?

And since when is the Anglican Primate of Nigeria "spiritual father of the nation" anyway? I thought its population contained at least as many Muslims and Roman Catholics as Anglicans (but am open to correction from any of our resident experts here...).

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 5:29pm BST

Solid as a Rock.

Posted by: Steven on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 6:03pm BST

It's what is called underarm bowling - questions he can hit out of the ground every time.

Here's his best bit:

My problem is not the Muslim. My problem is not the non-Christian. My problem is the Christian.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 6:12pm BST

"And I'll keep on being a conservative, because there is no other name given under heaven by which Man shall be saved."

Anathema.

Lord have mercy!

[NB: in a lengthy interview, while he's dodging questions and speaking about "Akinola" in the third-person, he utters the word "love" precisely *once*]

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 6:46pm BST

Well, _he_ has 6 children... Not once does he mention who gave birth to them. I know that's not as important as his other pronouncements, but it bugs me.

I agree with Fr. Mark. Splinter - plank.

Posted by: susan hedges on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 9:10pm BST

Poor Akinola, he thinks he is doing nothing but God's work by proclaiming how holier than the rest of us he is, so humbly claiming at the same time, I am nobody. Isn't he a model father in nearly every way mentioned in the conversation?

But the queer folks Akinola would punish or imprison or leave unprotected in Nigerian highways or byways are real people, and all this self-regard is radio wave static compared to their real well-being as humans, as citizens, as believers.

Akinola cannot see that queer folks are - humans, citizens, believers. Obviously.

The brazenness Akinola still displays in his conversations with media, as if he uniquely has some special grace from God that allows him to gloss over or talk away his deft public sidestepping of the option for any clear public African Anglican stand against violence - antigay violence for example, muslim-christian violence for another example. Gee. Well Akinola is hardly setting a good example for the rest of us.

Not a NT parable of a global good Samaritan, then.

Alas.

Surely God in Jesus of Nazareth is merciful towards us all, that we are uniformly not required to walk in Akinola's footsteps in exactly these shaky preachments and self-regarding masculine pretensions to model fatherhood. Oh yeah, great Dad, but just - Wait till he finds out one of his grandchildren or great grandchildren happens to be LGBTQ? Or one of their close, cherished friends? Somebody gets a good caning then, unless Akinola suddenly grows in moral stature as a global citizen, as Anglican believer.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 9:39pm BST

JCF,

Before you jump so far you might check to see if you anything to land on!

Clear if you read Peter A closely, it is Jesus Christ that is the one name in which humans are to be saved. This is the heart for Peter A of the gospel and this the heart of being "conservative."

Will you then curse what the NT in so many words affirms? (Acts 4:12).

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 9:50pm BST

The archbishop really gets exercised over shirtless men sitting by the side of the road playing the guitar? What a wonderful Victorian Evangelical...

Posted by: BillyD on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 12:07am BST

"You have to bear in mind that each primate, each bishop is an authority in his own right, with his own jurisdiction, and for him to submit to your leadership he must be given due respect. And so you consult with him, you share with him, you don't dictate to him and so you achieve results."
- Archibshop Peter Akinola -

And what, precisely, is the result of this humble 'leadership' of his fellow bishops in Africa and elsewhere? - An act of potential schism that is rocking the rest of the Anglican Communion around the world.

What I do find interesting, though, is the fact that Uganda's Archbishop seems to have receded into the background - obviously giving way to his Elder colleague in this ongoing struggle for ritual purity in the Church. Also, I wonder where the Archbichop of Sydney figures in all of this. Is he not the behind the scenes Leader of GAFCON through the newly-formed Sydney Secretariate?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 2:01am BST

Akinola is fast becoming the Idi Amin of the Anglican world.

I wonder when he'll start declaring himself the last King of Scotland.

Posted by: kieran crichton on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 2:31am BST

"Clear if you read Peter A closely, it is Jesus Christ that is the one name in which humans are to be saved. This is the heart for Peter A of the gospel and this the heart of being "conservative.""

But we aren't saved by a name: we're saved by a divine Person, Jesus Christ. I'm not at all sure that Pete's "conservative" lord is one and the same Nazarean Carpenter: Prince of Peace, and Lord of Love. It doesn't seem like it, to me.

[And please don't patronize me, Ben W. I have my interpretation, you have yours. JCF.]

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 4:11am BST

The correct term, in case anyone was wondering, is "puff piece."

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 5:53am BST

For someone who spends so much time in England and the US, presumably at other people's expense rather than his own, the good archbishop seems remarkably ignorant about the Church and society in these countries (and Joel Edwards, that paragon of Equal Opportunities, clearly, was not going to enlighten him).
It must be wonderful to be so humble and yet so superior. But then, of course, Archbishop Akinola spends so little time with those who might disagree with him, or question his views, or who would have the temerity to tell him that he might be less than a beacon to the world himself.

Posted by: stephen bates on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 11:20am BST

"This is the heart for Peter A of the gospel and this the heart of being "conservative.""

It's also at the heart of being "liberal" Ben. Why keep denying that? Even Don Harvey has said that he believes non-Christians can be saved, at least he said so once in a sermon at our parish when he was still a bishop in the ACoC.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 1:11pm BST

What's interesting is that conservatives will read this as a firm solid statement of faith and staunch defence of Christian principles. Liberals will read it as arrogance and false modesty. I tend to fall into the latter group, but I do see truth on some of what he says. All the same, it is funny how selective is his denunciation of the effects of colonialism. Africans can only be corrupt if there is a Westerner pulling the strings?! And then there is the required denunciation of the West as apostate, immoral, far gone from God, yadda yadda yadda. I'd call it racism dressed up as religion if it weren't for the fact that it seems to be a basic Consevo belief.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 1:53pm BST

Stephen Bates "...Archbishop Akinola spends so little time with those who might disagree with him, or question his views, or who would have the temerity to tell him that he might be less than a beacon to the world himself."

And this, surely, is the problem with the Global South / Gafcon / Common Cause / Network alphabet soup of dissidents, that they are currently listening only to themselves and their own propaganda. Their followers are fed nothing but spin and they have no reason to believe anything else. This is the tragedy of any sectarian movement, of course. It lacks the catholic corrective of living with and conversing with people of other viewpoints. When the other viewpoints are simply shut out, or drowned out by a barrage of continuous press releases, feel good conferences and quasi-official documents, then there can be no dialogue.

Sad.

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 3:22pm BST

Remember it was the blacks of West Africa who sold the slaves to the European and Arab slave traders.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 4:18pm BST

JCF,

I am not interested in patronizing but I am interested in what is the case. It is the case that Acts 4:12 affirms Jesus Christ as the one through whom salvation comes. When you were baptized were you baptized "in the name of the . . ." ? What was that about? If you had studied this use of "the name" in scripture you would know that "the name" in this context stands for person. So if you knew what you were saying you were cursing Christ!

Of course for you this is all a matter of "you have your interpretation and I have mine." In certain contexts - of general ambiguity etc. - that can be shown to be the case (there is no one in a position to affirm anything clearly because of lack of information). In other cases that is simply nonesense - from the evidence I have I can affirm with some confidence that I have two feet - if you want insist "that is 'your interpretation' but I deny it" you can, but don't be surprised if I do not find it credible or accept it.

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 10:01pm BST

RIW,

Is it possible to deal with real issues? Talk about "anything goes" (if there are specific things against the bishop put them on the table but not this empty rhetoric!), now Peter A can be equated with those who brutally took people and delivered them to slave traders and that is OK with you? What did we get in an earlier time? "If you tell a lie out there and people find it difficult, tell a biger one!"

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 10:17pm BST

Norm de Plume

You said what I wanted to about sect leaders.

Sect leaders believe that only members of their sect are saved, and eveyone else is condemned to death and/or eternal suffering. Apparently this version of Christianity is more harsh on other Christians than on other faiths, reminding me of hard-lined religions who are particularly aggressive against apostates.

So when we pray for the persecuted churches, shall we include Christian mystics, acknowledgers of the feminine, and/or Christian liberals in our prayers? If not, then we are hypocrites to complain about how Christians are persecuted by other faiths.

I don't mind GAFCON being formed, I don't mind such similar minded souls forming a communion amongst themselves and withdrawing from the greater Anglican Communion. May all their sympathisers go with them.

Jesus was ordained to be the Prince of Peace, Comforter and Counsellor to all the peopleS of all the nationS. This sect by its own leaders' testimony is only concerned about themselves, and therefore in breach with the Covenent of Peace, and thus unable to fulfill the messianic missives that are Jesus' responsibility. They can claim they love Jesus, but it is a self-absorbed, vain, selish, lazy and incompetent Jesus. Shame on the real Jesus if he allows his name to be seen to belong exclusively to such feral souls.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 11:14pm BST

We in the west can sometimes justly be accused of clinging to a universalism that has often been simply an extension of our own cultural background and baggage. However, It just does not ring true in my experience of them that conservative Africans (and conservative Asians) are themselves able fully to rid themselves of cultural specificity in the way that Akinola aspires to.

Quite the opposite: there is a fierce fixation on the experience of colonization which seems to mean two things at once: an impassioned defensiveness of their particular post-colonial positions, yet a harking back to how things were only in order to justify a modern reverse colonialism.

What Akinola appears to be saying is: Lordy, you came, you saw, you conquered, and I am grateful that you put an end to the ways of my ancestors that I recognize were not civilized (the killing of twins, for example) but I am only happy to acknowledge this since I am now going to return the favour, and you won't be able to argue against this, out of guilt, and because you yourselves at times do not think that a re-colonization of my ethnically-determined ethical being is out of the question.

But to me, this begs the question - surely we can hoist Akinola by our own petard: obviously Akinola accepts we did a good job, but it seems this job is only half done - it leads to the uncharitable thought that perhaps the likes of R W Johnson are right.

What Africans seem still to object to is not so much neocolonialism as Western moralising about 'human rights': Why is China geo-politically able to achieve inroads into Africa? Surely Africans would protest about the prospect of economic neo-colonialism? Yes, some do, but on the whole, the Chinese (and Indians, now) are welcomed because they do not harp on about 'human rights'.

We in the West, in Europe at least, have indeed only very recently overcome one of the greatest acts of evil, the Holocaust. We must also be mindful of our own propensity to ride roughshod over 'human rights' despite our apparently greater experience of modernity. But if we apply such standards to ourselves as well as to others, we cannot be accused of being hypocrites.

To me Akinola fails in being a terrible hypocrite, for the application of moral force in his case goes in only one direction. If in the West people simply proclaim the Word, then they are acquiescing in the surrounding fallen culture; yet in Nigeria, on the matter of corruption, well, what can Akinola do but proclaim the Word - alas, the Church cannot act as a law-enforcement agency in this regard!

God forbid that any 'religious vacuum' be filled by the likes of this man.

Posted by: orfanum on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 8:47am BST

"if there are specific things against the bishop put them on the table but not this empty rhetoric!"

What about the massacre of 650 muslims in Yelwa by Christians in 2004?
Asked about his involvement in this, Akinola replied "no comment".

And the law he personally tried to push through parliament last year, that would have criminalised "public supporters" of homosexuals, a supporter being defined as anyone being seen out with a known gay. For this crime, the supporter could have ended up in prison for up to 7 years.
The law was defeated because of strong Muslim opposition.
Can you see any theology at all in support of such a law? Is there anything remotely Christian about it? Is this what loving the sinner means?

This is a man driven by passionate hatred, not by Christian love.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 10:48am BST

"Yes, some do, but on the whole, the Chinese (and Indians, now) are welcomed because they do not harp on about 'human rights'."

Do you get the feeling that for some people colonialism is something only white people do, like for some feminists violence is something only men do? For some of us, and I say 'us' advisedly, since I fall prey to it, it's a natural result of clearly delineating the enemy.

"yet in Nigeria, on the matter of corruption, well, what can Akinola do but proclaim the Word - alas, the Church cannot act as a law-enforcement agency in this regard!"

Again, many conservatives would disagree. Enforcement of Christian teaching as law is pretty basic to their position. Liberals also do this, actually. And it isn't as black and white as I am making it look. If we are to live in the world and take part in its structures like democracy, we have to figure out how our faith informs that participation. I would claim that it does not extend to the Church advocating particular laws, right or left wing, but that might well be more idealistic than practical of me.

"Is this what loving the sinner means?"

Apparently, yes. I guess jailing the guilty is supposed to stop others from committing the same crime and being lost to Hell. Or something. I don't get it, but I'm sure he does.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 14 September 2008 at 4:40pm BST

I think Akinola generally reflects the corrupt country from which he comes and whose government he slavishly supports.

I agree with him on virtually nothing, and when people want to go and live in his basket case of a country, perhaps he will be in a place to criticise mine.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 15 September 2008 at 9:00pm BST

The standout phrase for me was when he was talking about how the 'modern trendy liberals' will no longer allow anyone to discipline their children: "You cannot even cane him."

Having discovered in some salacious trial coverage a few months ago that it's illegal to cane a consenting adult because of the inevitable physical injuries, I'm wondering how come this fantastic teacher fears he and his fellow Christians will be unable to get through to their errant children without doing such damage?

I had the benefit of a Proverbs 13:24 type upbringing and it only took me thirty years to return to Christianity so, as they say, "it never did me any harm."

Posted by: Joan of Quark on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 at 1:59pm BST

"I'm wondering how come this fantastic teacher fears he and his fellow Christians will be unable to get through to their errant children without doing such damage?"

Because punishment and the fear of punishment are the only motivators for good behaviour in their eyes. That's why he needs to "love" gay people "more than that" by jailing not only us but those who support us. He feels we must change our behaviour, but he can't think that acceptance of us as human beings first must precede any kind of 'metanoia'. For me, the contrast between this attitude and that of Jesus is quite clear. But he probably can't conceive of metanoia as anything other than remorse over wrongdoing either. It's also why nothing TEC has done so far has been enough, note the repeated calls for punishment. At base, I'd say that's why he's a Christian, the fear of what God will do to him if he isn't a Christian. It's pretty widespread, look at how Evangelicals here express not only confusion, but indignant defence of their behaviour when the suggestion is made that there are better ways to preach the Gospel than judging and condemning people.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 17 September 2008 at 3:00pm BST
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