Comments: Josiah Idowu-Fearon's views on the Anglican Communion

Having just listened to the address by the new Secretary General (Bishop Josiah) to the Toronto Conference in 2014, I am impressed with the clarity with which he has discerned the situation in today's divisions in the Anglican Communion.

He believes that the Instruments of Union are still necessary, but need some reform.

1. The ABC to represent the face of the Communion to Ecumencial partners - not as supreme authority but as wise presider in AC affairs.

2. The Lambeth Conference to be open to discussion rather than cross-Communion decisions.

3. The ACC to receive, discuss and implement the decisions made by the:

4. Primates' Conference, which should be attended by each Primate with 2 accompanying bishops of two different persuasions - 1 Conservative & 1 Liberal - which would then ensure that issues are thoroughly discussed before action is taken by individual Provinces in their own cultural situation.

That sounds not bad to me. Perhaps it could work?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 7 April 2015 at 10:41am BST

Further to my previous comment; Bishop Josiah did mention the fact that, in the African (GAFCON) cultural ethos, their is little scope for debate. The old style of monarchical rule by Archbishops still holds sway. What the whole Communion needs is for each Province to be allowed to discuss theological matters that can then be put to Primates' Meetings. That might enable a better climate for conciliation.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 7 April 2015 at 10:49am BST

Seems like the Archbishop is, once again, trying to have it both ways.

The Global South is obviously meeting with some success in its pressure campaign to remake the Communion into a Curia.

Perhaps it's time for The Episcopal Church to stop feeding, financially, the mouth that bites it.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 7 April 2015 at 11:16am BST

It seems to me to be something of a mistake to legislate a schism into being.

Not all provinces will have both conservative and liberal bishops all the time to be taken to the Primates' meeting.

Few faithful Anglicans find it helpful to be labelled extremists.

Posted by Kelvin Holdsworth at Tuesday, 7 April 2015 at 11:28am BST

Father Ron, I haven't had a chance to catch up on the Bishop's lecture in Toronto I am only responding to the four points you heard in it. It seems to me that I don't want the Primates' Council making decisions. If the ACC can facilitate and/or respond to discussions, well and good. For them to implement decisions would appear to create a super-national level of authority.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Tuesday, 7 April 2015 at 2:45pm BST

I'm somewhat glad to see that the comments from the crowd at Titus 1:9 are no happier with this appointment than we are here and at Episcopal Cafe.

Posted by Whit Johnstone at Tuesday, 7 April 2015 at 5:00pm BST

Good Lord.

Wouldn't it be better for the ACC to focus on the real work of the Gospel? Say perhaps to work on the Five Marks of Mission and work together to further those "marks?"

What is ripping the communion apart is an intense desire by some conservatives to impose their ignorant theology of sexuality on a very large group of extremely well educated people. The Anglican Communion would carry on just fine if there was a mutual respect for the different places we find ourselves. When Africa is 100 percent literate, largely college educated, at peace with the variety of tribes and religions there, and mostly prosperous, they will likely find themselves with a renewed sense of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and the Promised Land.

The way through is to work on mission and stop navel gazing and indulging in anti-Americanism that will NEVER budge (because the hearts and minds of 2.1 million people have chosen Jesus's Radical Love over the false teachings of Pharisee's). Our young families entering the church are thrilled to worship and thrive in a "non bigoted" atmosphere, and that is the demographic of the growing churches.

No one can "will" people to accept a pope or an authoritative group of primates. Freedom of conscience, as opposed to Rome, is a fundamental part of Anglicanism.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 7 April 2015 at 5:50pm BST

Cynthia nails it.

An Anglican Communion that seeks to impose doctrine on the provinces would no longer be Anglican.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 7 April 2015 at 6:21pm BST

"When Africa is 100 percent literate, largely college educated, at peace with the variety of tribes and religions there, and mostly prosperous, " -- Cyntia

I'm not sure the USA, or the UK, for that matter, can meet all those criteria.
In the USA, I doubt the KKK and the Black Panthers regularly get together to discuss baseball over at the local kosher deli, for example. Nor, for that matter, Southern Baptists and Unitarians.
In the UK, it seems to me that Scottish and Welsh and English peoples have been known to vehemently disagree, as well as some Muslims and some Christians.
I see and recognize your basic point. It would be nice if the different national churches that make up world-wide Anglicanism agreed to disagree with each other in mutual respect, and to love one another, and a doctrinal diktat is not the solution, but I found the quoted statement over-the-top.

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Tuesday, 7 April 2015 at 7:41pm BST

If I have understood Josiah I-F correctly, what he is proposing in the Toronto address is that the Archbishop of Canterbury assumes a quasi-papal role and that the Primates' Conference becomes the Curia. No wonder Welby was keen to endorse this appointment: it is his dream come true. Unfortunately, this strikes at the heart of Anglican polity as we understand it, with Primates having authority over individual dioceses and their bishops. Presumably, the next step will be an Anglican equivalent of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (aka Inquisition) and the silencing of theologians not 'on message.'

Posted by Michael Chancellor at Tuesday, 7 April 2015 at 9:20pm BST

In my understanding (I may, of course, be wrong), the new Secretary-General is against authoritarian dictats being issued by any monarchical hierarchs in the Anglican Communion. Rather, is he not suggesting that we get back to the original proposals for fellowship - proposed at the calling together of Anglican Church Leaders at the first Lambeth Conference (to settle an African dispute)

In fact, Bishop Josiah admits to the monarchical ethos of most African Primates, who have rejected the 'leadership' of the Archbishop of Canterbury as being ineffective. Therein lies the problem of GAFCON insularity - their perceived need for authoritarian leadership 'From The Centre'!

The real danger to the Communion might rather come from any suggestion of the transfer of perceived 'power' from the ABC to GAFCON Primates.

Bishop Josiah, instead, proposes a pastoral role for the ABC, which should not be exercised by issuing dictats to the rest of the Communion, but rather, helping facilitate co-existence for a diverse Communion.

Any 'authority' in the Communion will proceed, not from a GAFCON-style 'confessional' unanimity, but from the hard-won decisions of the tri-cameral meetings of the ACC, wherein discussions from the provincial primates' Meetings are sifted and the necessary agreements made to recognise provincial differences, in the manner of Unity in Diversity.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 8 April 2015 at 12:27am BST

Regarding the concerns of our friends from TEC and the A.C. of Canada that they will in some way miss out on (or not want to be a part of) any future configuration of the Anglican Communion; may I advise them to look in on videos from the recent Inclusive Anglicans web-site, wherein a Church of England Bishop argues against any prospect of marginalising TEC and the A. C. of Canada.

To the contrary, both Churches are vital to the health and survivability of Anglicanism in the modern world. Gospel inclusivity is an important element in our future relevance to educated seekers after spiritual enlightenment.

We need you, and your inspirational outlook!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 8 April 2015 at 12:42am BST

OK Peter. I was over-the-top. Let's amend it to "when African Anglicans are 100 percent literate, largely college educated, at peace with the variety of tribes and religions there, and mostly prosperous." Now we can compare oranges to oranges as I believe the last vestige of the KKK left TEC with Mark Lawrence.

I would also say that disagreeing with our Unitarian brothers and sisters isn't the same as murdering them... So I was saying when disagreements in Africa are no longer addressed with massacres, rape, kidnapping, and other violence, they might have spiritual space to see the Kingdom of God differently. Right now, it would be pretty to good to see the hungry fed, the sick attended, and criminals brought to justice... You know, the stuff mentioned in the Five Marks of Mission.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 8 April 2015 at 1:48am BST

What Kelvin Said. ("1 Conservative & 1 Liberal": who gets to decide THOSE categories, pray tell? I can just imagine when TEC shows up, and someone decides their Official Conservative "isn't conservative ENOUGH" }-/ )

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 8 April 2015 at 4:42am BST

How many languages do most Americans speak? Most Africans speak 3. As for peace and prosperity solving all our problems, welcome to the Land of Nowhere, and certainly not the USA.

Posted by cseitz at Wednesday, 8 April 2015 at 2:41pm BST

Is it Christianly appropriate to speak of +Mark Lawrence as if he were sympathetic to the KKK?

Posted by cseitz at Wednesday, 8 April 2015 at 6:02pm BST

Yes, Chris, we don't have perfect peace and prosperity here in the US. But we don't have Nebraskans going into Kansas and kidnapping the girls. Texas and Massachusetts are not in a war of ideology, or for oil. Muslims and Christians are not fighting. And there are laws against hate crimes, rather than criminalizing difference.

How very peculiar that you would deflect Africa's very intense problems of poverty and violence with the issues in the US. Of course the "developed" countries have problems, however, they are not on the scale of the problems of Africa and Haiti. I have yet to see a homeless American who is as malnourished as 75 percent of the Haitians I see when I'm there. And I volunteer monthly for various homeless services.

Are you saying that because peace and prosperity exist nowhere that it's OK for the ACC to prioritize culture wars for control over doing the work of the Gospel?

In my circles, professional, church, and volunteer work, a lot of Americans are bi-lingual. In Haiti, many of my friends are tri-lingual, French, Creole, and English, and more are learning Spanish as well (which is great, it connects them to more sympathetic cultures). I'm not sure what you are getting at. Illiteracy is still a problem. My father used to joke that he was illiterate in Greek, although it was his first language.

So I can't really tell what your point is, except an attack. I bring it back - the ACC should work on Gospel issues, not the culture wars of control. Somehow Bishop Idowu-Fearon's appointment doesn't look promising, but I live in the hope that he'll rise to something better.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 8 April 2015 at 6:15pm BST

This is all old hat now. The '15% extreme liberals' were the 66.6% of English dioceses who threw out the Covenant in 2012. Welby has so far been extremely cautious about resurrecting those international meetings which highlight divisions over Lambeth 1.10: GAFCON support for anti-gay legislation and TEC's dissent from it. He wants to tackle homophobia but probably not under the intense media focus that these meetings attract. That said, Bishop Josiah's lecture will have gone down well in Lambeth Palace.

Posted by Andrew at Wednesday, 8 April 2015 at 10:23pm BST

I did not say that Mark L. was sympathetic to the KKK, but I suspect some of his followers are/were. They certainly hold some views in common. A fact that would give me pause.

KKK manifestos denounce LGBTQ people. The KKK in Mississippi and Alabama are angry about equal marriage being the law of the land, and publicly announced that they plan to fight it. South Carolina has always had Klan presence and the Southern Poverty Law Center reports increased recent KKK activity. I can't imagine that SC has the gay-friendly Klan chapter.

So while it is somewhat rude of me to point out the common cause between Mark L's followers and the Klan, the common cause is there.

I look at Bishop Idowu-Fearon and his misguided sense that the Bible condemns homosexuality and wonder what he thinks of Leviticus 25:42-44 supporting slavery?

I look up Sodom and see that Ezekiel and Isaiah both condemn Sodom for its poor treatment of the poor and stranger. And I wonder if gays would be treated better today if the mob had raped Lot's daughters, as offered, rather than insisting on the opportunity to rob, pilfer, and maybe rape the angels? I look at the NT clobber passages and all the scholars who believe they refer to prostitution, etc., and not remotely referencing loving same sex partners, in an era when women were chattel. I wonder about this bishop or anyone who feels so sure of themselves in condemning others and even creating schism when the evidence is so problematic?

Five references in the Bible, as opposed to all the references against adultery and for caring for the poor. Should we be in schism with provinces that don't care for their poor? Should we be in schism with provinces that don't take adultery seriously? I note that in Africa, AIDS was largely transmitted by heterosexuals. Should we be in schism with provinces that don't show hospitality to strangers? Like mitregate?

The hypocrisy is breath taking. Really, breath taking.

Meanwhile, the one place we could all come together is the very clear Gospel of Jesus Christ and the excellent Five Marks of Mission to help us bring the Kingdom of Heaven closer to earth.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 8 April 2015 at 11:14pm BST

Cynthia, though you may not intend your posts to come across as patronising to non-white peoples, that is how they might be read. I have a lot of respect for the Episcopal Church but do not think such an approach is helpful. (I would also question whether it is just to link Mark Lawrence with the KKK, however strongly you and I might disagree with his beliefs and actions.)

What reads to me (rightly or wrongly) as an emphasis by you on the cultural and moral superiority of Americans is not entirely convincing, given the brutal direct and proxy wars in which the USA has engaged over several decades. Meanwhile Russia's high literacy levels and wealth have not prevented an upsurge of violent homophobia fuelled by state and religious authorities. The factors that lead some churches to take a very negative attitude to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are complex.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Wednesday, 8 April 2015 at 11:31pm BST

Here's a roundup of comments about Bishop Josiah, published by the Episcopal News Service

http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2015/04/08/idowu-fearon-committed-to-gods-mission-of-reconciliation/

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 8 April 2015 at 11:54pm BST

"What is ripping the communion apart is an intense desire by some conservatives to impose their ignorant theology of sexuality on a very large group of extremely well educated people."


I'm quite sure I wouldn't identify as a conservative, but this is ridiculous. Genuine theological differences cannot be reduced to a matter of "ignorant" African conservatives and "extremely well-educated" American liberals. Many conservative evangelicals are extremely well-educated, and the level of theological discourse coming from my fellow liberals doesn't assure me that they're all quite as smart as they think they are!


"The Anglican Communion would carry on just fine if there was a mutual respect for the different places we find ourselves."


But what are the limits of respect? The Archdiocese of Sydney does things in their worship that I regard as being way-out-of-line of the Catholic and Reformed tradition. They hold beliefs about the nature of the Trinity that are, in my view, very much on the fringes of Christian orthodoxy. Should I not care about what they do because in the Anglican Communion anything goes within your own province? And if anything goes within your own province, what does it really mean to claim to be Anglican at all? If I have more in common with the Roman Catholics down the road than with the Anglicans in Sydney, what sort of church do we even have?


"When Africa is 100 percent literate, largely college educated, at peace with the variety of tribes and religions there, and mostly prosperous, they will likely find themselves with a renewed sense of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and the Promised Land."


This is staggeringly patronising. The earliest Christians, I hardly need remind you, were not rich, not mostly-literate, certainly not college-educated, and not living in a world that was at peace. Do modern Westerners have a more profound sense of the Kingdom of God than they did? And if so, why was Jesus so thoughtless as to appear to Jews in first-century Roman Palestine rather than to Episcopalians in the much-more-godly twenty-first century America?

Posted by rjb at Thursday, 9 April 2015 at 12:52am BST

Savi, I am not comparing the cultural and moral superiority of the US! I'm making two separate comparisons and I understand if it wasn't clear. One comparison is TEC to African Anglican churches, the other is the socio-economic situation of the West vs literacy and poverty in Africa. Nigeria has 60 percent illiteracy (80 percent for women) and 60 percent live in $1.25 per day poverty.

I won’t defend US policy. I am a Witness to human rights abuse that was sponsored by Uncle Sam, I've protested all the wars and helped pick up the pieces of awful policy in our poorer neighborhoods. However, TEC came to our position of inclusion through deep discernment, respectful and learned engagement with Scripture, extensive dialogue, and Spirit-filled democratic processes. Conversely, Bishop Idowu-Fearon said that TEC was “arrogant” to elevate +Gene (it was really New Hampshire) and that TEC could "just leave" the Anglican Communion. He also expressed some extremely homophobic views.

In the second comparison, I am saying a bundle of things.

When Africa has literacy and poverty rates more like ours in the West (UK, US, Canada, etc.), compassion, mercy, and justice for all will make more sense. Intolerance always thrives in economic and social stress. That’s patronizing to nonwhite people? I’ve read as much from the pens of African women.

Literacy and poverty are listed amongst the Millennium Development Goals and are the work of the Gospel. With such pressing needs, why detract from them by oppressing gays? Is that patronizing to nonwhite people?

Bishop Idowu-Fearon claims that gays didn't exist before the colonists came and aren’t part of African culture. His boss, Akinola, said that homosexuality doesn't occur in nature. They are both wrong. Scientists know better. The claims are ignorant anti-scientific nonsense. Is that patronizing to nonwhite people?

The violations in Nigeria are largely supported by the church and we need to call them out, patronizing or not.

What about gay nonwhites being persecuted? Don’t they need to hear that God loves them and affirm them as Children of God who are worthy of dignity, love, compassion, and mercy? Don’t they need to know that the attitudes that oppress them are rubbish?

Silence comes at the expense of the real suffering of others. This bishop has expressed some extreme views and seems to be on the wrong side of suffering.


Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 9 April 2015 at 3:55am BST

I re-read my comments looking for bits that could be patronizing to nonwhites. I wrote very fast and thought maybe I had really been unclear so I took a look. Savi, are you overstating this? For one thing, I'm talking about conditions in Africa, especially Nigeria so I'm hard pressed to see how I was patronizing nonwhites from the Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America...

I think it's extremely difficult to spin my words as promoting the "cultural and moral superiority of Americans." I know a couple people tried. I spoke of the relative prosperity, literacy, and peace of the West and suggested that it gave spiritual space to consider justice and equality for all. I didn't address why there's such inequality in the world, we'd all have blood on our hands. The moral arc of the universe bends slowly but it bends towards justice. Africa will have justice someday.

Chris Seitz tried to suggest that because most Africans are trilingual they are more literate than Americans. The data show a strong correlation between literacy and poverty, and Nigeria is largely illiterate. In Haiti they have a saying, in Creole, it goes "the illiterate are not ignorant." And they aren't. But somehow it keeps them in extreme poverty. I didn't invent the data. It isn't patronizing, it is a call to action.

Is it patronizing to point out that when Bishop Idowu-Fearon attacks TEC, he's actually attacking a bunch of real people who are extremely well educated? Plenty of us are nonwhite as well, you know. I think you were picturing an all white Episcopal church. We have African and Caribbean Americans, Asian and Native Americans, and Latinos. TEC exists in 17 countries. The point was that this isn't primate to primate, although he has expressed having "problems" with our female Presiding Bishop. He rather crudely lost the hearts and minds of those of us who are tuned in. Mercifully, most aren't.

I'm beginning to suspect, Savi, that your anti-American filter read too much into this. I have over a decade of going to Haiti and teaching there, and spent a fair amount of time in Europe. Haiti is always shocking and amazing. Shocking in the poverty and amazing in what they manage to do with so little and the spirit that sustains them to learn and build their country. I'm sure that the Nigerians are just as amazing. And because I know that they are amazing, it isn't OK to patronize them by ignoring the human rights violations. It isn't. They are amazing. They can do better, and it is their leaders that need to lead them to amazing, not pander to bad stuff like oppressing people who are different.

If that's patronizing, someone needs to spell out for me very clearly what, why, and how. I'm glad to hear it. I've been a cultural sponge my whole life.

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 9 April 2015 at 5:46am BST

Savi, I'm not Cynthia, but I would point out - gently as possible - that we citizens of the U. S. are often on the receiving end, here and elsewhere, a similar sense of superiority. Americans are always bad, the cause of all wars everywhere else, and, if it weren't for Americans, the world would be peaceful. That's how it comes across to us, most of the time. In addition, we continually hear of the complexities of other cultures and places but the U. S. - which is an incredible diversity and mixture of cultures and attitudes - seems to be simply understood as being simple to the point of bovine stupidity; all rich, all pampered, all completely cut off from "real" problems. Can you see how *that* is incredibly unhelpful, as well?

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 9 April 2015 at 6:30am BST

Cynthia, most of us simply do not have time to respond to your often lengthy and repetitive polemics. Do not, however take silence for agreement.

On this occasion, however I feel I must respond. I'll ignore linking M. Lawrence to the KKK for that is merely an insult to someone in the privileged west.

If you cannot see that it is condescending, offensive and imperialistic to say...

"When Africa is 100 percent literate, largely college educated, at peace with the variety of tribes and religions there, and mostly prosperous, they will likely find themselves with a renewed sense of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and the Promised Land.

"The way through is to work on mission and stop navel gazing and indulging in anti-Americanism that will NEVER budge (because the hearts and minds of 2.1 million people have chosen Jesus's Radical Love over the false teachings of Pharisee's)."

...then nothing that is written to you will ever convince you. They are your words. In my view you should own them or retract them without reserve. Almost everything you have written seeking to justify your comments only makes them worse.

The real reason I am driven to post, however, is that amongst these people who you show such disrespect for are the same people who are as we speak being martyred for owning the name of the Lord Jesus. They may well not agree with you on issues of sexuality but when they are shedding their blood because of a vital, lively faith in Christ they deserve to honoured not patronised.

Johnny

Posted by Johnny May at Thursday, 9 April 2015 at 10:22am BST

Cynthia and MarkBrunson, I agree that the Episcopal Church has been unfairly treated, something I have written about extensively, including on the Guardian online (e.g. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/jul/14/episcopal-bishops-anglican-gay, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2010/may/17/glasspool-mary-lesbian-bishop-anglican). Likewise I have repeatedly criticised Nigerian Anglican primates' support for human rights abuses (e.g. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2010/jul/26/archbishop-okoh-nigeria-homosexuality). Obviously extreme poverty is undesirable in itself and can, sometimes, increase the risk of injustice and repression.

However, so can a range of other factors. Such phrases as 'When Africa is 100 percent literate, largely college educated, at peace with the variety of tribes and religions there, and mostly prosperous, they will likely find themselves with a renewed sense of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and the Promised Land', 'when disagreements in Africa are no longer addressed with massacres, rape, kidnapping, and other violence, they might have spiritual space to see the Kingdom of God differently', 'Texas and Massachusetts are not in a war of ideology, or for oil' and 'When Africa has literacy and poverty rates more like ours in the West (UK, US, Canada, etc.), compassion, mercy, and justice for all will make more sense.'

This appears to suggest that factors such as higher literacy and greater prosperity in the USA (rather than places such as Haiti, which I am well aware is covered by the Episcopal Church but is clearly not prosperous) have led to a more authentic form of Christianity than is practised in Africa and other parts of the world that are affected by low literacy and/or poverty.

However I would argue that people in all countries - and within particular nations the rich and well-educated as well as poor and badly-educated - can and sometimes do act appallingly. When I drew attention to US military and covert intervention which has resulted in such a high death toll internationally (and which surely were linked with ideology and sometimes oil), my point is not that the USA is uniquely wicked but that violence and callousness are not confined to supposedly inferior parts of the world. When fascism came to dominate Italy and Germany eighty years ago, these were economically advanced countries with high literacy. Thankfully many Episcopalians are conscious of this and willing to work for justice without claiming that the USA is morally superior because of its wealth and educational levels.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Thursday, 9 April 2015 at 10:55am BST

Well said Johnny May.

Posted by ExRevd at Thursday, 9 April 2015 at 3:24pm BST

Perhaps this discussion can become clearer if we abstract it a bit.

As a general matter, does a nation persecute minorities more, or less, when the nation is in economic trouble or in political turmoil?

History--including that of pre-WWII Germany and Italy--suggests that the answer to this question is quite clear.

Psychology probably has much to say on this subject as well. People under stress tend to try to find an Other to blame.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 9 April 2015 at 3:35pm BST

The German war machine was not waiting for economic hardship to begin persecuting Jews.

The frightening thing about the run-up to WWI was the enormous economic prosperity and cultural hauteur. See now The War that Ended Peace.

Posted by cseitz at Thursday, 9 April 2015 at 4:54pm BST

Jeremy,

All entirely valid points but, as I believe you fairly intimate, there are many, many exceptions to the "general". The exceptions are both individual and communal and it is for just that reason that with don't stereotype and thereby stigmatise entire continents, races, people groups or members of the same.

It is that which is so grossly offensive to modern ears particularly when the actual existence of the truly holy- martyrdom compares so starkly with the invented negative stereotype.

As I understand the glorious gospel it frees us from having to conform to the world around us and from being prisoners of circumstance. It is the gospel that often creates the exception to the general. Negative stereotyping with all its false assumptions quite wrongly denies the truth of that possibility.

That those being martyred today far outstrip me in spiritual wealth, however modest their economic conditions or education may be, is testament to the power of that gospel and I honour their willingness to take up their cross.

Johnny

Posted by Johnny May at Thursday, 9 April 2015 at 5:14pm BST

This post from Husborne Crawley seems relevant:

http://cyber-coenobites.blogspot.com/2015/04/god-in-overalls.html

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Thursday, 9 April 2015 at 5:22pm BST

Johnny May, I understand full well that many Christians in many parts of the world are being murdered because they are Christian.

Do you understand, or does Bishop Idowu-Fearon understand, that every year, gay people are abused, driven to suicide, or even murdered because they are gay?

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 9 April 2015 at 6:50pm BST

"They may well not agree with you on issues of sexuality but when they are shedding their blood because of a vital, lively faith in Christ they deserve to honoured not patronised."

Not Cynthia here, but I'm responding. I feel for (com-passion) all, All, ALL PEOPLE who are "shedding their blood" (itself a euphemism for "being attacked and murdered"). And I can certainly see that they are being murdered for not-being-Islamists (as are many, many Muslims also, BTW).

But I must protest a dismissive "not agree with you on issues of sexuality" with the concurrent assertion of a "vital, lively [superior to TEC?] faith in Christ."

Our "faith in Christ" is MEASURED by how we treat "the least of these". Full-stop. [What did St Paul say about "if I give my body over to burned, but have not love"?]

It is emphatically NOT an Either/Or. I can see for myself the LACK of love on the part of Certain Anglican Leaders (inc in Africa), while at the same time, mourn for (protest!) violence perpetrated against African Christians.

[And remember: whenever you think of a "victim class", like Christian victims of Islamist violence, then add "and THEN make them gay". "African Christian" and "African LGBT" are NOT mutually-exclusive. Would that that Anglican leaders there knew that---and then subsequently acted in a Christ-like manner!]

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 9 April 2015 at 9:56pm BST

I understand your point, Savi. What I'm saying is how it *feels*, not what you mean. When it's one example consistently used to stand for many, it begins to feel like a pattern, you see. That, too, is unhelpful. Unfortunately, we are not simply thinking creatures, but feeling ones, as well.

As for "unique" evil in Africa, I think it was exported in its basic form - and I won't point fingers at any one example, since from Belgium to Germany to UK to USA, we all are answerable for that one. They learned well industrial-era "christianity" and the Victorian ideal of "charity," and, having been materially and politically abandoned after being sucked dry of as much value as can be had (in the name of "liberating" these nations), is it any wonder that a religion of fear and hate and exclusion - based in our teaching - would thrive? Even more when it is accompanied by money and political support from rather cynical and jaded men in the West? It isn't a "unique" evil, but just the newest pot into which the same ingredients have always been poured. It's actually rather monotonous and sad, and evidence, not of any difference in the African mind or the white mind or the Muslim mind or the Western mind, but that those in desperate situations will fall to false certainties and dogma, just as they have in Western cultures before prospering, and will after when our Western economies fail and our Western luxuries are gone. Meanwhile, those in luxury and ease will use dogma and money and socio-political pressure to manipulate countries riven, impoverished and unstable. Both approaches are brought on by the one great god, Fear.

Nigeria and Uganda, et al, are neither a beacon to the West, nor a warning to the "civilized world." They are, depressingly, just like us, merely under different pressures. The one lesson any of it teaches is how uniformly human and fearful we all are.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 10 April 2015 at 8:27am BST

Jeremy, what a very curious response to my post which doesn't address the points I made but nonetheless to reply to your post:

1.I would not speak for Bishop I-F or any other bishop.

2.Of course I understand that people are abused, driven to suicide etc for their sexuality just as I understand that in the UK we have a crisis in suicide amongst middle-aged men. In both cases the causes are as myriad and complex as the individuals involved.

Quite what you suggest the necessary equivalence is between martyrdom for the faith and persecution of people for other reasons I have no idea.


Johnny

Posted by Johnny May at Friday, 10 April 2015 at 9:28am BST

Thank you Jeremy, for your reminder of Johnny May's inference that the death of a gay person is not as much a martyrdom as the death of a Christian. This point evades the issue that Jesus, the Martyr par-excellence, died for all sinners - among them those who are killed for their being 'different'. Murder is still murder - whoever is the victim.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 10 April 2015 at 12:02pm BST

I have delayed approving any comments here for 24 hours, as the discussion was becoming overheated. I have now approved some of the pending comments. Please can we keep the discussion polite and respectful.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 10 April 2015 at 6:38pm BST
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