Thinking Anglicans

Pew Forum on Anglican Communion

Global Schism: Is the Anglican Communion the First Stage in a Wider Christian Split?

Some of the nation’s leading journalists gathered in Key West, Fla., in May 2007 for the Pew Forum’s biannual Faith Angle Conference on religion, politics and public life.

Philip Jenkins, a Penn State University professor and one of the first scholars to call attention to the rising demographic power of Christians in the southern hemisphere, analyzed the ongoing schism in the worldwide Anglican church. While the dispute concerns attitudes toward homosexuality, Jenkins argues the core of the conflict lies in how biblical authority is defined.

Will the current alliances between conservative Western and African leaders endure? Will African leaders begin to press an ultra-liberal economic agenda? Are other mainline denominations in the U.S. headed for similar splits? Jenkins answered these and others questions, while offering a fascinating glimpse into the life of African Christianity.

Speaker:
Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and History, Pennsylvania State University

Moderator:
Michael Cromartie, Vice President, Ethics & Public Policy Center; Senior Advisor, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

Read the whole transcript here.

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Counterlight
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Counterlight

The server ate my post, so I’ll try again. Pardon the spelling and grammar errors, but the “preview” function frequently swallows my whole post during editing. The split in the Episcopal Church certainly will not be the last. The “gay issue” and all the attendant issues of modernity and changing expectations in life will eventually crack open even the hardest fundamentalist evengelical denominations. These wiil be splits not only through denominations, but through congregations. I doubt even Rome, with its iron lid of authoritarianism over a boiling pressure cooker, will come out intact. This issue already splits families, especially among… Read more »

lapinbizarre
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lapinbizarre

One of the most informative links you have bookmarked in a long time. A great deal here to think about. Pity, though, that almost everything is reported at second and third hand and that they did not include Global South panelists.

Pluralist
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Interesting point regarding the difference between African leaders coming into Western Churches, and African Americans (I’ll try and extend this to British black churches). The Africans are moving directly to influence and lead mainline Churches (and not just Anglican) and bypass the African ones. It is because they view the main Churches as theologically diseased. But it is also an institutional question. Black churches in this country vary but have a strong element of charismatic, even carry something of the superstitious-pagan, but some of these are very pro-Israel (something not mentioned in that conference) and form part of Christian Zionism… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Thanks loads for the link to PJ stuff. Best overview of the topography shifting that I have yet read or heard. We are all riding the demographic tigers. Makes olden-style big tent Anglicanism a more telling contribution than ever before in these changing times. Pity so many wish to collapse the tents. Que viva, high/crazy, low/lazy, and broad/hazy.

John Henry
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John Henry

As an historian Dr. Jenkins of the Pew Forum is a light eight. He described as cause for the Great Schism in 1044 as having centered on the issue of whether or not clergy should grow beards. Hence I take everything he says with a grain of salt.

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

The Great Schism of 1044? Actually, Jenkins says “the Eastern and Western churches had a tiff over such crucial theological issues as whether priests should wear beards”, not that beards were THE defining issue. The 1054 date is pretty arbitrary. Runciman’s history documents subsequent ongoing relations between the Eastern and Western Churches. The clincher was the 1099 crusader capture of Jerusalem; the subsequent ejectment of the Orthodox clergy, patriarchs included, in almost all crusader-held lands, and their replacement by Roman Catholic priests and bishops.

Andrew
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Andrew

Grow beards? What about Papal authority and the filoque clause?
Andrew

JCF
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JCF

“We could have a competition as to which remark is the least conducive to Christian charity. (Laughter.) I have a couple of candidates. Candidate one is Akinola’s remark that the U.S. Episcopal Church is like a cancerous lump that has defied all treatment, and the time has come for it to be excised altogether. Candidate two is from one of the gay pressure groups within the Episcopal Church, when someone said: “All I can say to you African bishops, is why can’t you go back to the jungle you came from and stop monkeying around with the church?” We’ll have… Read more »

Steven
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Steven

Good Grief! I’m agreeing with Lapinbizarre and Drdanfee on something! Anyhow, this was a very informative article, though, like John Henry I take some of it with a grain of salt. Nonetheless–kudos for the article Simon. And, John Henry, I think the remark about the beards was intended as a joke. Also, an interesting point on the possibility of jihad breaking out in Nigeria and elsewhere and what affect this would have on the West and on the Christian surge in the Third World. This is a very real possibility to anyone that keeps up with the news from, e.g.,… Read more »

counterlight
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counterlight

After all these many years, and even after this discussion, I remain unconvinced that this whole war is really about Biblical authority. We’ve had over 150 years of Biblical criticism and fundamentalist reaction; everything from the startling modernity of Bonhoeffer’s correspondence to the new Creation Museum in Kentucky; and no one thought to split Anglicanism into warring factions until those damn queers popped up. What every one from Darwin to Dawkins failed to do was accomplished by a hairdresser and a sailor out on the town for a Saturday night fling. And now heterosexuality becomes a central article of faith… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

JCF makes a very strong point, which I missed, about Jenkins’ anonymous gay-activist quote. The original, linked quote is from a piece by Michael Gerson, a highly partisan, seriously suspect source. From context, there is no means of verifying that the statement was made in the first place, and, absent any other source for the alleged quote, one is left with the assumption that Jenkins himself, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, invented and added the highly-offensive “stop monkeying around with the church” clause. This hopelessly compromises his objectivity and brings into question the validity of every point… Read more »

JPM
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JPM

>>>The original, linked quote is from a piece by Michael Gerson, a highly partisan, seriously suspect source. For those readers not in the U.S., Gerson is the propagandist who wrote Bush’s State of the Union Address that included the infamous “sixteen words”: “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” He also wrote those speeches that linked Saddam and Osama so closely that most of the public soon enough came to believe that Saddam was responsible for 9/11. In short, the man should be standing trial in The Hague, not lecturing decent… Read more »

counterlight
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counterlight

“Counterlight – while I’m sure that many lower-level activists DO believe that this “war” is about Biblical authority, in relaity, as I’ve said before, it’s very largely about power.”

Bizarre rabbit, you may well be right.

I think we should note that Christianity is rapidly becoming known as the “anti-gay” religion rather than the Resurrection religion among the larger public.
Bishop Tutu has something to say about this over at the BBC website, saying that Anglicanism has become “obsessed” over the sexuality issue at the expense of so many other urgent issues, especially in Africa.

Weiwen Ng
Guest

Simon, this piece is a goldmine of information. I would of course take it with a pinch of salt because the speaker is not from the Global South himself, but he does give us a lot of very intriguing information to think about. re the alleged “back to the jungle” quote, I too have been investingating it. no article I’ve yet seen has given a name. one article attributed it to a White, gay male activist. I know that Bishop John Spong once made a remark that was considered very condescending, but he did not say to go back to… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Yes, yes, in the realignment zeal to purge queer folks – but of course that really just means, drive them back underground into silence and invisibility like the long decades before now (while trying to rip off their time, energy, and talents in the world and in church life) – the conservatives are wittingly or unwittingly transmitting a definite pop media vision of themselves to the larger population. This conservative Anglican vision or identity is still emerging, but some clear pop media elements of it can be noted. These may now include, (1) Following Jesus as a straight fertility cult… Read more »

lapinbizarre
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lapinbizarre

In a comment posted on Saturday I suggested that “Jenkins himself …. invented and added the highly-offensive ‘stop monkeying around with the church’ clause”. I did this the basis of the quote’s not appearing in the Michael Gerson piece that Philip Jenkins cited as his source. Since then, I have found the following quote on AlterNet (note that AlterNet is not a “conservative” site): “At a May 2002 gathering of queer religious activists in New York City, a white, gay Episcopalian summarized the Anglican world’s problems as that of Africans “monkeying around” in the rest of the church. To the… Read more »