Thinking Anglicans

an open letter from Archbishop Akinola

An open letter to my fellow Primates.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our One and Only Saviour Jesus, the Christ.

I write on the 490th anniversary of that moment in Church history when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Cathedral in Wittenberg in which he asserted, among other things, that the truth of the gospel must always take precedence over the structures of the church. It is becoming increasingly clear that we are facing a similar situation today. While it has been my hope that we would be able to share these reflections face to face it seems unlikely that we will be called to meet together in the near future and so I offer these thoughts by letter.

It has been repeatedly stated and most succinctly summarized in the report, ‘Road to Lambeth’ we face a two fold crisis in the Anglican Communion: a crisis of doctrine and a crisis of leadership, in which the failure of the “Instruments” of the Communion to exercise discipline has called into question the viability of the Anglican Communion as a united Christian body under the common foundation of faith. (See the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral)

The Church of Nigeria is not interested in territorial expansion. The failure to resolve these dual crises has been at the heart of the decision by our Church and a number of other Global South Provinces to offer encouragement and oversight to a growing number of clergy and congregations in the USA. These pastoral initiatives are not and should not be seen as the cause of the crises.

Although they have variously been described as “interventions” “boundary crossing” or “incursions” — they are a direct and natural consequence of the decision by The Episcopal Church (TEC) to follow the path that it has now chosen.

These pastoral initiatives undertaken to keep faithful Anglicans within our Anglican family has been at a considerable cost of crucial resources to our province. There is no moral equivalence between them and the actions taken by TEC. They are a heartfelt response to cries for help. We acted in accordance with the Gospel mandate. Had TEC, against all godly warnings, not taken actions that tore the fabric of our beloved Communion there would be no need for hundreds indeed, thousands of its members to seek pastoral, episcopal and now primatial care elsewhere.

It has been suggested that our actions violate historic Anglican polity and early church tradition with particular reference made to the Council of Nicea. This assertion is both hollow and made in bad faith since those who make it are more than willing to ignore historic biblical teaching on the uniqueness of Christ, the authority of the Scriptures and the call to moral obedience. With regard to Nicea – while there was concern for proper order there was even greater commitment to maintaining right teaching. This can be seen by the provision of godly bishops and clergy in places where the incumbents were proponents of false teaching.

The world needs to understand that the situation that we now confront is not primarily about structure or conferences but about irreconcilable truth claims. It is worth remembering that in the Biblical narratives religious structures have often been the enemy of revealed truth. When these structures become obstacles, YHWH, in his own way and at a time of his own choosing removed them and brought His people back to Himself. Of course there is value to preserving Anglican structures but we must never do so at the expense of the people for whom our Lord Jesus the Christ gave his life.

Until the Communion summons the courage to tackle that issue headlong and resolve it we can do no other than provide for those who cry out to us. It is our earnest prayer that repentance and reconciliation will make this a temporary arrangement. One thing is clear we will not abandon our friends.

When we met in Dar es Salaam, after a great deal of effort, we suggested a way forward that had the support of all those present – including the Presiding Bishop of TEC. The House of Bishops and Executive Committee of The Episcopal Church quickly rejected this proposal on the grounds that it apparently violated their canons. We now have a counter proposal from TEC and yet there is no indication that it will meet the needs of those for whom it is supposedly designed. This endless series of proposals and counter proposals continues with no apparent conclusion in sight. Sadly, it is becoming increasingly clear that the only acceptable end as far as TEC is concerned is the full capitulation of any who would stand in opposition to their biblically incompatible innovations- this we will never do. There is a way forward – we have written and spoken repeatedly about it – the time for action is now.

I believe that we Primates must meet in the next few months to respond to the crisis that now confronts us. The situation in The Episcopal Church is deteriorating rapidly. Lawsuits are escalating and I have just heard that Bishop Bob Duncan is now threatened with ecclesiastical trial by the Presiding Bishop for his faithful attempts to find a way to protect his faithful members and diocese. Other godly bishops are under the same threat. Their only crime is a desire to continue their Christian pilgrimage as faithful Anglicans. This situation will affect all of us. We dare not let our love for the historic structures of our beloved Communion, important as they are, allow us to destroy its future. We are losing members. We are losing time. We are losing our integrity as an important part of the One, holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

“Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision”. Joel 3:14

+Peter Abuja,
All Saints Day, 2007

53 comments

  • RPNewark says:

    When one compares this letter with other, recently published utterances of Archbishop Akinola one finds a plethora of reasons to believe that this letter has not been drafted by an African but rather by someone of Anglo-Saxon origin. The whole language, structure, grammar, “feel” is decidedly “un-African”. I’m sure the Archbishop agrees with every word and is happy to put his signature to it but it does *not* sound, to this hearer at least, anything other than the writing of a “westerner”. Anyone opening a book on who might be suspect number one? If they are, what odds will you give me for it being +Martyn Minns?

  • JCF says:

    Hey look, it’s the latest ?Martyn Minns press release!

    [Continuing Bob Pittsburgh’s “We are Martin Luther!” theme roll-out, and w/ all the standard “You’re trying to destroy us!” PROJECTIONS]

    Lord have mercy!

  • John Henry says:

    Thus saith the Primate and Metropolitan of Abuja:

    “I believe that we Primates must meet in the next few months to respond to the crisis that now confronts us. The situation in The Episcopal Church is deteriorating rapidly. Lawsuits are escalating and I have just heard that Bishop Bob Duncan is now threatened with ecclesiastical trial by the Presiding Bishop for his faithful attempts to find a way to protect his faithful members and diocese. Other godly bishops are under the same threat. Their only crime is a desire to continue their Christian pilgrimage as faithful Anglicans.”

    The Lord Bishop seems to have lost his marbles. How can +Bob Pittsburgh play the victim card when he has violated his ordination vows and seeks to take his diocese, including church properties, tusts and endowments, out of TEC, requiring TEC-loyal clergy and parishioners to seek special accommodations to remain in TEC after Pittsburgh has seceded?

    Is his Lordship of Abuja himself in compliance with Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1988)? Hardly.

    What listening process is there in Nigeria in the treatment of gays and lesbians whom ++Peter the Donatist consigns to jail in this life and to hell and damnation in the life of the world to come? Does ++Peter remember the vile language he used in public not too long ago to describe gays?

    ++Peter Jasper, get down on your knees and repent of your ways. Let us pray that the Lord Jesus, who kept table fellowship with all sorts of sinners, will transform your life from hatred and bigotry toward gays into love for your brothers and sisters whom you have hurt so deeply. Perhaps, renouncing your archiepiscopal office might be a good start as you enter upon a life of repentance.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “Martin Luther”

    I remember the howls of scorn from the conservatives when Spong came out with his 12 theses. “He actually sees himself as a mofern day Luther!?!?! Guffah!” Yet, +Akinola seems quite happy with the mantle.

    “the failure of the “Instruments” of the Communion to exercise discipline”

    I knew this was a bout discipline and control, but in his rather back and forth scorn for cultural arguments, he has missed the fact that for many, it is the absence of this kind of top down discipline that is a good thing. Many see it as Christian. The Reformers did too! If he truly wants an agreement, as opposed to getting his own way, he ought to contemplate that rather large difference in attitude.

    He crosses borders in response to cries for help from those for whom Christ died. Well, TEC is responding to cries for help from those for whom Christ died as well, so he needn’t be so holier than thou. Unless Christ only dies ofr those who obet the Law.

    His claim that TEC is only interested in everyone else’s capitulation to their way is just comical. “I won’t put up with anything other than their capitulation to me, oh sorry, God, but I’ll blame them for the same thing.”

  • Prior Aelred says:

    “The world needs to understand that the situation that we now confront is not primarily about structure or conferences but about irreconcilable truth claims.”

    OK, I think it is about power, but if ++Peter Abuja wants to be “irreconcilable,” he has the right.

    ++Rowan Cantuar has already said that Lambeth is meeting & the primates are not, so is this “open letter” an attempt to pressure the ABC or an attempt to get as many Global South primates as possible to have a meeting & boycott Lambeth (or is he hoping for the first but ready for the latter)?

    I have to agree with those who say that a clean break would be preferable to this slow drip.

  • Let’s read what else is contained in Joel 3 and what causes God to bring the multitudes to the valley for decision, and how God’s blessings will come.

    “They cast lots for my people… what have you against me…? Are you repaying me for something I have done? If you are paying me back, I will swiftly and speedily return on your own heads what you have done. For you took my silver and my gold and carried off my finest treasures to your temples. You sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, that you might send them far from their homeland. “See, I am going to rouse them out of the places to which you sold them, and I will return on your own heads what you have done… Let the weakling say, “I am strong!” Come quickly, all you nations from every side, and assemble there… The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel… “Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her. “In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk.. A fountain will flow out of the LORD’S house… But Egypt will be desolate, Edom a desert waste, because of violence done to the people of Judah, in whose land they shed innocent blood. Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.” The LORD dwells in Zion!”

    Let the corrupt priests continue to slander the Daughter of Zion and celestial beings, seeking to expel and sacrifice God’s children, advocating the destruction of this world and its occupants. The violence done to God’s Name and children will be paid by the corrupt priests, not their ignorant flocks. Then the World will know that God’s everlasting covenant of peace was never meant to be broken and the corrupt branches of union and favour have been snapped off the root stock of Jesse and consumed by God’s jealous zeal for Zion, Grace and Peace.

  • Fr Mark says:

    I agree that a clean break will be the best way forward now. I find myself wondering why on earth Anglicans ever ended up setting up provinces in places such as Rwanda and Congo – neither of them ever under British rule. I certainly don’t see why the backward ethical standards of certain developing countries should mean that we Anglicans in Europe have to be prevented from treating our gay members justly here.

  • “The whole language, structure, grammar, “feel” is decidedly “un-African”. “

    How unkind!

    I was thinking Martyn’s Abujan had considerably improved ….

  • revkarenm says:

    What a crock, this latest peiece of puffery from the irregular bishop Minns! To whit:
    “These pastoral initiatives … are a heartfelt response to cries for help. We acted in accordance with the Gospel mandate. Had TEC, against all godly warnings, not taken actions that tore the fabric of our beloved Communion there would be no need for hundreds indeed, thousands of its members to seek pastoral, episcopal and now primatial care.” Can you not hear the cries of anguish? “Please help us, you Primates of the Global South. We have abandoned our ordination vows, repudiated our bishops, and have the heartfelt wish to abscond with the property and funds which belong to the Episcopal Church. What do you mean, these do not belong to us? Have you not heard of ‘the faith once delivered to the saints’? We are fully entitled to defy the commandment against stealing what is not ours. So what if our parish,our priest or our bishop has, in the past acceeded to the primacy of the General Convention of TEC? We now repudiate them because they have placed a FEMALE in the primatial office (anyone who reads the Bible knows that male accoutrement are indispensible requirements to the exercise of the priesthood) and, as if that were not enough, they hav consented to the election as bishop of a gay male in an intimate relationship with another MALE. Could there be a greater crisis in Anglicanism? Forget wars, forget genocide, the sexual mutilation of women, the sexual trafficing in children, pandemic hunger, poverty and AIDS. These are small theological potatoes, compared with the aforementioned communion fabric tearing offenses. We are entirely certain that our interpretation of the Bible is correct and binding. Our Reformation views of Jesus, salvation, and sanctification are the only Orthodoxy that we know or permit. We are right, and we are going to Heaven.You are wrong and you are going to Hell along with the homos that you like so much. We will engineer a coup and take over the Anglican Communion, or we will wreck it and build our own Bible worshipping, gay rejecting communion where we primates call the shots and decide who gets into Heaven and who does not.” Pu-lease! Give us a break!

  • Leonardo Ricardo says:

    Perhaps, renouncing your archiepiscopal office might be a good start as you enter upon a life of repentance. John Henry

    and/or

    +Akinola, simply have your vocal cords frozen, your hands bound and your blinders/ear plugs taken off and out…that ought to help you see that Gods BIG world around you will really astound you and not cause you to whine, complain and defame.

    Mil gracias for the Global South “alert”…we know NOW who EXACTLY got Shanghai’d!

  • Annie says:

    what’s the fascination with the idea that akinola didn’t/couldn’t have really written this? I don’t get it. Is that some kind of attempt to discredit him…? On the basis that…what? He’s too backward to write his own letters? He doesn’t understand western culture? He’s under the thumb of the ruling white race? I really and truly don’t get it.

  • James says:

    Annie, i think that this is an attempt to discredit ++Akinola.

    I think they do it out of frustration. They want to dismiss him, and anyone else from the developing world who disagrees with the revisionist lobby, as “backwards” so that they can accuse the GS of being fearful instead of actually engaging with their arguments. However, you can’t really get mad at someone because they are ignorant and backwards, so you have to put someone else there to accuse of being hateful. They choose Martyn.

    So long as Akinola signed it, it doesn’t matter who wrote it. I assume he knew what it meant. Or maybe we enlightened white nirth Americans should go teach him how to read so he canrealize how backwards he is and repent of his fear, shaking off the dredded Minns at the same time (sarcasm, just in case).

  • NP says:

    Mark – shame on you!
    You say ” I certainly don’t see why the backward ethical standards of certain developing countries….”

    So, these archbishops are causing problems in the AC because of their “backward” ethics??

    The bishops have repeatedly said certain behaviour is “incompatible with scripture” ….. but you want to dismiss archbishops who stick to that position as “backward” and you want to question their “ethics”?

    I realise you have to attack the people because it has not been possible to convince many in the AC that certain behaviour is in fact holy and good and not “incompatible with scripture”…..

    (I think +Minns has done a good job for his boss on this letter! ARchbishops are allowed to have their bishops help them with statements and letters you know….this practice is not “incompatible with scripture” but really quite normal)

  • Fr Mark says:

    Annie: I think it’s because Abp Akinola makes such a big deal of standing as a strong voice against the West and its evil values. So, it would be strange if he actually is a puppet of a particular agenda from within the West, viz. the ultra-conservative agenda of Minns et al.

  • Fr Mark says:

    NP: yes, I do think their ethics are backward. I have lived in Africa, and in many African societies there is still not even the beginning of a culture that allows gay people to articulate their sexuality. This is simply a question of taboo remaining strong. I think that’s backward, personally: I had African men telling me homosexuality doesn’t exist in Africa, that it is a white man’s disease, and then pinching my bottom at the same time! I’m not telling them how to oganise their society, but I think the Western achievement in reaching a point where gay people can be articulate about their sexuality and no longer executed for it is a great thing, and a significant step forward in human development.

  • NP says:

    I object to you lumping Archbihops of the AC in with bigots from Africa or anywhere else, Mark.

    I have lived in Africa too….but I have also heard the “backward” prejudice you mention in London, Sydney, New York and Paris. There are bigots everywhere…..but this does not justify smearing the views of AC Archbishops and bishops who may have superior theological education and understanding to you….even though they are black, maybe you should engage with them on a theological level and with some respect?

    How do you explain the theological positions, for Lambeth 1.10, of +Duncan, +Durham, + London and many others in “the west”?
    Are they “backward” too?

    Or could it be that you are not giving enough respect to the theological education and views of certain archbishops with who you disagree and so you insult them based on race / culture and things others have said?

  • Stephen Roberts says:

    NP – “I object to you lumping Archbihops of the AC in with bigots”

    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck – it’s a duck!

  • NP asked: “How do you explain the theological positions, for Lambeth 1.10, of +Duncan, +Durham, + London and many others in “the west”?
    Are they “backward” too?”

    I would say they are.

  • As to +Dunelm specifically: No one recommending the work of RAJ Gagnon to the Church of England HOB is a scholar.

  • Annie,

    There is a convention in Polite Society to write one’s own letters…

    Though I can think of an Apostle or two

  • badman says:

    There’s an air of desperation about Akinola’s letter. Akinola more or less single handedly demonstrated that the Primates meeting is currently disfunctional, by his antics at Dar es Salaam – the conferring with Minns and co throughout (against the rules), the flouncing out of communion, accompanied by a press release (against the rules), the absence from the cathedral service celebrating the abolition of slavery (due to back pain – but using the time to work on drafts with Minns), the railroading of the final communique (which instantly crumbled to dust when it went back to the US).

    That’s why there isn’t going to be an extraordinary primates meeting any time soon (as Akinola recognises in his letter). It would be costly, time consuming, painful for the participants, unedifying for the Communion, and quite incapable of straightening out the mess. Akinola’s solution – expulsion – is a “cure” worse than the disease, and he doesn’t have the votes for it.

    This letter is not going to win Akinola any friends – although no doubt it will be cheered by those he has already. Saying that those who condemn boundary crossing are in “bad faith” covers, not only the Standing Committee, but the Lambeth Conference bishops who have repeatedly condemned it, and the authors of the Windsor Report who did so too. Add to that his moan about the “failure” of the leadership and instruments of communion, and he is offending just about everybody.

    Nor do his threats have the impact they once did. The Anglican Communion is getting tired of American conservatives trying to make disagreements about homosexuality dominate all its discourse. Akinola and his dwindling band of hardliners get less and less attention and respect the more obsessively they bind themselves to this alliance and the more they repeat their cries of doom, destruction and despair. He has largely spent his original stock of respect and influence to no good purpose.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “this does not justify smearing the views of AC Archbishops and bishops who may have superior theological education and understanding to you….”

    Given the amount of “smearing” you do of TEC, given that you seem to believe that a few extreme liberals like Spong justify you claiming all of TEC is faithless and heathen, well, except for the “faithful” bishops like +Duncan, how do you have the face to actually try to look all holy defending the Africans against who you think to be the hypocritically racist liberals?

    “could it be that you are not giving enough respect to the theological education and views of certain archbishops with who you disagree and so you insult….”

    I mean, really!

  • Pluralist says:

    Everyone knows what Akinola’s position is, but there is still a difference between the Conservative Protestant and Western theology of the likes of Minns and Reform and their agenda, and the African spirituality that reads the biblical parallels between their societies and cultures and the ones portrayed in the Bible, societies and cultures that are a mixture of the rural premodern and urban modernising. The letter presented has all the direction and clarity of the Western extreme Protestant agenda – it is not about education levels or literacy, but which part of this alliance this letter is coming from.

    Essentially, Sugden here and Minns there (and others) have a scrap with their Christianity as it has developed at home, and they have made this alliance – including consecrations – and essentially Akinola with his Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion has become their international arm because he wants to import the Christianity as he has developed it overseas. So they are writing the agenda, and he loves it.

  • Erika Baker says:

    “How do you explain the theological positions, for Lambeth 1.10, of +Duncan, +Durham, + London and many others in “the west”?
    Are they “backward” too?”

    That depends.
    If they have genuinely listened to gay people and wrestled with the issue; if they have genuinely considered changing their minds, but have eventually not been able to do so, then they are not backward.
    But if they have done as little listening as many of the African bishops because their hearts and minds were closed from the outset, then yes, they’re backward. Very.

  • RPNewark says:

    Annie, James,

    Since I was the first commenter (on this particular thread) to question the authorship of Archbishop Akinola’s letter, I think you should know that I certainly was not attempting to discredit him nor to suggest that, in your words, “he is too backward to write his own letters”.

    What I was saying and still say is that, I do not believe that this letter was drafted by Archbishop Akinola although he almost certainly read its contents, approved it and either signed it personally or authorised its distribution over his name. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that. I have often drafted letters and reports that were to be signed by others. The questions for me in this particular case are, “Who instigated the drafting? Who suggested an open letter to the Primates? Who is pulling whose strings?”

    I believe that Archbishop Akinola is being used – yes, manipulated – by conservative evangelicals in north America to aid them in the pursuit of their own neo-Puritan, Donatist agenda and that, if they achieve their goals, they will abandon Peter Akinola and the other Global South Primates faster than Jeffery John was dumped by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the (former) Prime Minister of the UK (to their shame).

  • Fr Mark says:

    NP: I was taught by the current Bp of Durham at Oxford, and I have nothing but contempt for the unacademic homophobia he now espouses so unpleasantly. I think he has lost the plot when it comes to Christianity.

  • Fr Mark says:

    PS It’s “with whom you disagree.”

  • Ford Elms says:

    “Archbishop Akinola is being used – yes, manipulated – by conservative evangelicals in north America”

    Don’t be too sure. He is an intelligent, educated, politically adept man. He also, I think it’s pretty clear, has huge resentment towards colonialists and their descendants. This, to me, is perfectly understandable. If I had grown up in Nigeria when he did, I’d probably feel the same way. I don’t think it’s that uncommon on a continent that is still recovering from the effects of colonilaism. I really don’t believe he’d allow himself to be manipulated by white people. If anything, he’s manipulating them, but in all likelihood, its more of a symbiosis.

  • Fr Mark says:

    Ford: in both his obsessive (forgivable?) colonial resentment and his virulent homophobia, Akinola seems something of an ecclesiastical Mugabe. Are they alike in any other ways, one wonders…?

  • JCF says:

    “what’s the fascination with the idea that akinola didn’t/couldn’t have really written this?”

    Past EVIDENCE (of ?Minns’ handiwork), Annie. That’s all.

  • Ooooh I am sure there is some deeper political level in the Minns thing, quite a lot I don’t know.

    Why I poke fun at Martyn is because for years he has told big black lies about scripting Akinola – most recently he was caught out big-time – he still lies and lies and lies ….. I think that allows for a little ribbing.

  • Erika Baker says:

    “This, to me, is perfectly understandable. If I had grown up in Nigeria when he did, I’d probably feel the same way.”

    Isn’t part of what it means to be Christian to leave those irrational non sequitur emotions behind, to recognise that those you’re dealing with today were not involved in past crimes, and to judge everyone by their own merit?

    I’m not saying it’s easy but I am saying it’s possible. For someone who claims to be holier than most colonial resentments are not acceptable.
    Just look at Desmond Tutu!

  • NP says:

    Mark – well done, you spotted a typo…..you must be, therefore, right and +Durham and most biblical scholars in the world must be wrong that certain behaviour is “incompatible with scripture?”

    So funny…. pseudo-academics from the North and people like you want to cry anti-intellectual when an African archbishop wants to stick to scripture but when it is your own Oxford lecturer, you just revert to reviling him.

    Maybe you will be more persuasive if you stopped attacking the people and could show that what you want the AC to accept is not “incompatible with scripture”. Even Rowan Williams failed to do that….but maybe you and Goran could write something to rock the theological world??

  • NP says:

    Ford – there is a difference between saying certain TECUSA bishops are wrong when they contradict Lambeth 1.10 ……..
    ..and saying GS archbishops are “backward” and criticising their “ethics” because they support Lambeth 1.10.

    I am sure you can see that, Ford.

  • Fr Mark says:

    NP: you were the one who accused me of being anti-intellectual earlier, actually.
    I’m sorry, but your socially exclusive church of Holy Trinity Brompton, with the wealthiest congregation in London, conveniently just off Knightsbridge, is not going to serve as an adequate launch-pad for your gross generalisations about the C of E. You should go and see ministry a somewhere a bit more real before telling everyone else how they should do it.

  • Fr Mark says:

    NP: “pseudo-academics from the North” – is it that they are pseudo-academics (if it’s J O’Leary you’re referring to who comments on here, I think you’ll find he’s the head of a college at Durham University), or that they come from the North that you object to? I suppose this makes sense now I know that you go to the most socially exclusive church in London: it helps me to understand why you look down so much on everyone else.

  • NP says:

    look further North, Mark

    (you have displayed so much snobbery about the middle classes – it really is embarrassing, Mark)

    You can sing the Red Flag if you like…..still does not change what Lambeth 1.10 or what scripture says

  • Ford Elms says:

    “Isn’t part of what it means to be Christian to leave those irrational non sequitur emotions behind”

    I agree. But it is also part of our fallen state that these things are, as you say, very hard. I’m not excusing his behaviour in this, I believe he is called to better, being a bishop even more than the rest of us, but for some reason, this is one area where I am easier on his sins than I am in other areas. I of course, have no right to be anything about his sins, but I’m fallen too:-)

    And, NP, are the things you post automatic writing? Do you even read what you type? You do NOT say TEC bishops are wrong for contradicting Lambeth 1.10, you claim they don’t believe anything, don’t read the Scriptures, arrogantly ignore everybody else in the AC, are selling out the Gospel to the world, and are part of a liberal conspiracy to take over TEC, subvert the Gospel, and destroy TEC and the worldwide Anglican Church. Read Matthew 7 with particular attention to verses 3 – 5. Read it in the KJV, it reads better, and, while I agree with him, Matthew has more authority to address you with the first two words of verse 5. And don’t cite Paul to contradict verse 1.

  • I suggest that NP read the posts before she criticizes them.

    Pathetic.

  • Malcolm+ says:

    The cloth caps of the working class
    as images are dated.
    We’re Labour’s intellectual class
    and we are educated.
    By tax incentives we have planned
    to institute the Promised Land.
    And just to show we’re still sincere,
    we’ll sing The Red Flag once a year.

    I prefer the North American labour movement anthem Solidarity Forever, with it’s defiant verse:

    Is there ought we hold in common with the evil parasite
    who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
    Is there anything left for us to do but organize and fight?
    The union makes us strong.

    (In NDP circles, the last line may be sung with party vice union.)

  • Fr Mark says:

    NP: I don’t get your point. Where is further North than Durham? The Shetlands? Maybe it’s just as well I don’t get your point: yours do tend to be rather bitter, don’t they?
    I’m not at all anti-middle class, my dear, just very anti you telling everyone else they have to copy a weirdly unrepresentative church like HTB. I’m all in favour of weird churches (I’m very happy as an Anglo-Catholic, which has always been counter-cultural), but I wouldn’t dream of telling you that you have become an Anglo-Catholic like me to be blessed by God. One of us is quite enough for Him to cope with.

  • Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Fr Mark-

    Christians are generally not remotely interested in party politics, but they are interested in truth and accuracy.

    How can HTB be called unrepresentative? – unrepresentative of what? Have you seen stats on the take-up for the Alpha course? Or on the church’s own membership and its church planting record? Or on recent Anglo Catholic numbers?

    In any case, being unrepresentative would not make one wrong. HTB would be the first church that most other denominations would point to in showing their affinities with anglicans. In other words, the local anglican church most broadly representative of world protestant Christianity (though many catholics also do the alpha course). When anyone sees anglicanism as more important than christianity itself or than Christ Himself then by definition they have lost the plot.

  • Fr Mark says:

    Christopher: I mean that, HTB is by its nature a specialist church operating for a particular niche. Its situation in South Kensington, one of the most expensive areas of one of the wealthiest cities in the world, means that the ways of being church there are necessarily quite different from Hackney, Brent Cross or Peckham. That is not rocket science, and it’s no big deal: it’s just that NP has this really smug snide way of telling everyone else that only his church is echt. He should spend time observing ministry among people who are not all upper middle class before he leaps to making sweeping statements about how the nationwide C of E should develop. Con Evo churches, as I wrote earlier, generally only exist in very middle class suburban areas in England, and only cater for those who aspire to a certain lifestyle. This is not a problem until they begin to think of themselves as the only show in town and then behave imperialistically to others in the C of E. Any big London church would, I hope, be equally open to all the diverse people of that wonderful city. It is a city with a huge gay community, increasingly alienated from church. HTB is not doing anything to connect with them or listen to their stories, if NP’s rants are anything to go by.
    It’s not being a “niche” church that’s a problem – many of us operate in specialist areas of ministry – it’s telling everyone else that your narrow experience is the only valid one that’s wrong.
    You are right to point out that A-Caths are in a period of decline. But then, so are Roman Catholics all over Europe. I think we urgently need a radical modern Catholic vision to fully engage with the reason and the senses of modern people.

  • Pat O'Neill says:

    “Christians are generally not remotely interested in party politics, but they are interested in truth and accuracy.”

    You don’t know many “Christians” from the US, do you, Christopher?

    “In any case, being unrepresentative would not make one wrong.”

    How about remembering this when you and NP keep arguing that most of the AC disagrees with TEC about consecrating openly gay bishops?

  • choirboyfromhell says:

    “I think we urgently need a radical modern Catholic vision to fully engage with the reason and the senses of modern people.”-Fr. Mark

    Bravo, I’ll second that. (Just keep the incense away from me!-just kidding)

  • Ren Aguila says:

    I think we urgently need a radical modern Catholic vision to fully engage with the reason and the senses of modern people. – dixit Fr. Mark

    “Modern” is a loaded word, but I agree with you. (Perhaps we do have to think about how to be Catholic and postmodern nowadays.) The Roman Catholic Church here in my country is in decline for a number of reasons, one of which is that, as a hegemonic force, it could no longer really be for the urban middle class–mind you, we have the same market for ConsEvos around these parts–relevant or meaningful. Numerically, it is still the largest church, but many of its nominal members are unchurched due to an awful inflexibility about ordinations and a lack of community.

    I am reminded of what Brian McLaren had to say about Scripture: nowhere in it does it describe itself as “inerrant” or “infallible” or the like. Nowhere. If only Catholics were brave enough to say that, and then remind everyone that what moderns call “interpretation” is really what we mean by the radical and continuing nature of Tradition!

  • Fr Mark says:

    Who knows, choirboyfromhell, you might even find there are some modern-minded Tristans looking for the same thing…

  • NP says:

    Rich and poor, posh and common, uneduacted and educated, white and black, American and Nigerian…..all need to live to please God, responding to his grace, striving for holiness, i.e not condoning behaviour “incompatible with scripture”….

    Ephesians 5v1-21

  • Ford Elms says:

    “Christians are generally not remotely interested in party politics, but they are interested in truth and accuracy.”

    Christopher,
    WHAT?!?!?!?! In the US, a sizable chunk of the Republican power base is conservative Christians, a sizable chunk of which is Fundamentalist/Evangelical. These people say, in so many words, that it is one’s Christian duty to vote Republican, many intimate it is a sin to vote Democrat, and Liberal is the opposite of Christian. I have detected this opposition in your your speech as well, but in case I’m wrong, most of us here are so used to Fundies claiming one can’t be Christian and Liberal, when you call someone ‘liberal’ it will likely be assumed that you are saying that person is not a Christian. Your correligionists over here certainly use that word to mean “unChristian”. The situation is similar though not as severe in Canada. Millennialist Christian dogma informs American foreign policy, Fundamentalist Christian preachers regularly meet with Bush and his government, and the Christian Right actively opposes spending on most social services, which is one of the reasons America’s social service net is so abysmal. These churches support the Iraq war, some had recruiting drives in their church’s sanctuary space in the context of their regular Sunday worship! While the situation may be different in Britain, one only need watch the news to hear the “Christian Right” speaking on issues and supporting very publically the Republican Party, so I cannot believe you do not know this. However, since you do not, I will break your bubble: the Christian Right on this side of the pond is very politically active and publically partisan, like I said, making political affiliation nearly an issue of salvation.

  • … as they do most adiaphora.

  • Erika Baker says:

    “”Christians are generally not remotely interested in party politics, but they are interested in truth and accuracy.”

    I would definitely argue that your usual blanket condemnation of divorce and homosexuality, and your absolute certainty as to their causes in society, owe much more to (political) ideology than objective truth and accuracy.

  • Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Ford and Pat

    In saying that ‘Christians are not remotely interested in party politics’ I am I think making a true point – but it is a quite different point from the one you thought I was not making. I wasn’t referring to the existing political parties but to the principle that presupposing an ideology and fighting ‘the other’ is where it is at. (I had ‘church parties’ more in mind than political parties – though the same principle applies in either case.)

    On the contrary, that is something that no truth-seeker (ie therefore no Christian) could possibly do. Because Christians believe in truth and in honesty, they are bound to find that one some matters they agree with one church ‘party’ or political party, and on other matters with another. (Classically: they will agree with conservatives/republicans on the family, and with liberals/democrats on social justice.)

    There will however come times when it is clear that of the available political parties some overlap with the Christian position more than others. For example: those which are people-pleasing will score less well with Christians than those which are conviction-led. Those which ignore statistical evidence will score less well than those who seek to learn from it. And so on.

    Pat (further):
    Whether the consecration of gay bishops is a majority or minority preference is irrelevant to the rights and wrongs of the issue. I would correct someone who claimed it was a majority preference, because they would then be saying something untrue, and would perhaps be culturally blinkered or insular. But this would be a correction on a neutral matter of fact, not intrinsically a correction on a moral matter related to truth, goodness or righteousness.

  • Ford Elms says:

    Christopher, your assumptions are astounding. Why, for instance, do you assume that “Christians” will agree with conservatives on the family? Conservative hypocrisy on the family is pretty overt. I believe family is one of the most important things in society, ensuring the emotional wellbeing of children. I therefore do not believe one should reproduce simply because one can. You need lessons and to pass a test to drive a car. You don’t even have to be smart enough to undress yourself fully to have a child! Try saying in front of a group of strangers that you don’t want kids, and watch the response. It starts off cajoling, but as you remain adamant, it becomes more and more cruel till you are told “You’re just being selfish!” Stating that it’s a good thing to have recognized that before bringing a child into the world and ruining its life just shuts them up in frustration! Heteros are simply not allowed to acknowledge inadequate parenting skills! How many miserable families does that lead to? I sometimes think we should administer tests before we allow people to reproduce! Conservatives are also opposed to anything that would give government support to families. No paternal leave, no child support, no government sponsored child care, and Mom ought to be at home but the government ought not help that to happen. Frankly, conservatives talk a good talk on the family, but they consistently fail to actually DO anything to support it. All these antiabortionists, how many of them give a tinker’s damn about mother and child after they have forced her to deliver? And given your record here in matters scientific, I’d stay away from trying to give the impression of someone who seeks to learn from statistics, if I were you.

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