Thinking Anglicans

West Africa speaks up

ACNS has published a Statement by the Church of the Province of West Africa on the state of the Anglican Communion.

The Church of the Province of West Africa (Anglican Communion) meeting in Douala, Cameroon, on the 11th day of April, in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Eight, having considered very carefully, among other pressing and very important issues, the current general state of the Anglican Commuion in the light of same – sex relationship receiving official recognition and approval by some dioceses and provinces, an issue which is seriously threatening the unity of the Communion, do hereby make the following statement:

1 i. That we are resolved to continue to be in communion with the See of Canterbury as we unequivocally and unambiguously remain in the Anglican Communion.

ii. In this regard, we reiterate the resolution of Anglican Consultative Council, Hong Kong, August 2002 in response to Archbishop George Carey’s urging that dioceses “that are considering matters of faith and doctrine that could affect the unity of the Communion to consult widely in their provinces, and beyond before final decisions are made or action is taken.”

iii. We affirm the importance of showing concern and regard to the rest of the Communion.

2. We, however, out rightly condemn and reject the unacceptable action of some of the members of the Communion in the blessing and formal acceptance of same-sex marriages and relationships, the appointment, election and ordination to ecclesiastical offices of those persons who openly admit and declare that they are homosexuals and lesbians (cf Romans 1:26-27). That such practices of some of the members of our Communion do exist and that they are to be treated pastorally, we deny not. However, that they be given official recognition and acceptance by the Church of God as a standard form of life is quite another stand which we cannot and dare not accept.

3. We reiterate that while we remain members of the Communion, we shall continue to abhor such practices and, therefore, appeal to those members to reconsider their actions in the light of Biblical Teachings and Christian Principles.

4. We wish to commend the Leadership of the Anglican Communion for all the efforts being made in the face of many challenges to keep the Communion intact just as our forebears did down the ages in the midst of numerous controversies.

5. We further urge all members of the Communion to tread very cautiously in these trying and challenging moments of our existence even as we each try hard to uphold the beliefs and practices of the Anglican Communion especially as have been espoused by various Gatherings and recognized Organs which symbolize instruments of Unity within the Communion, and we do urge all to “make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3)

6. In a debate, name-calling should be avoided. Reducing the conversation to Liberals versus Conservatives is not helpful; it only adds fuel to an already inflamed situation.

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JCF
JCF
13 years ago

Hmmm.

In essence, “We abhor you, but we’re going to stick around to make life difficult for you.”

That works BOTH ways, West Africa.*

[* Though I merely abhor their homophobia and (nonAnglican) fundamentalist Biblical interpretation]

Lord have mercy!

Ben W
Ben W
13 years ago

JCF, They get it. You can’t seem to. Every word here is important. “That we are resolved to continue to be in communion with the See of Canterbury as we unequivocally and unambiguously remain in the Anglican Communion.” They are Anglican and they intend to remain faithfully what they are. Who after all is calling for departing/new interpretation of scripture or of historic Christian teaching? And of course through your lenses you can only see all this as homphobia! I hope the day comes when even on this list they are recognized appropriately and are allowed to speak in their… Read more »

Joe
Joe
13 years ago

The rejection of homosexual practice as immoral – and therefore inconsistent with a Christian ethos – does not make one “fearful” of homosexuals. Likewise, holding to a 2,000 year-old tradition of interpretation of Holy Scripture (actually much older if we count the Hebraic tradition) does not mean one necessarily shares the sentiments of a particular 19th century theological movement. So, enough with the name-calling already. (Is ad hominem the best you can do? Really?)

West Africa has affirmed their catholic witness within a framework of charity; that should be appreciated not ridiculed.

Malcolm+
13 years ago

Conservative certainly. But clearly rejecting both the organizational tactics of the schismatics (Akinola, Venables et al) and the rhetorical tactics of the StandFirm / VirtueOnline school of slander.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
13 years ago

And no mention of the completely un-Anglican border crossings of the folks on their side.

bls
bls
13 years ago

Ben and Joe: when your marriages, and by extension your loved ones, are called “abhorrent” by “religious” leaders from thousands of miles away, you’ll have the right to “correct” people like JCF who object to this kind of language. As it is, you – like the Bishop of West Africa – really just don’t know anything about this topic, I’m afraid; you are completely outside it. At some point, you really ought to stop repeating the same tired statements about “new interpretation of scripture” and “homosexual practice” and start recognizing that there are flesh-and-blood PEOPLE and FAMILIES involved. You are… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
13 years ago

Its historic Christian teaching which needs to change….and this takes us no further forward, other than to display that there are irreconcilable differences.

Ben W
Ben W
13 years ago

bls,

You have read earlier statements from me here I presume. And what I quoted from the West Africa statement does not put anyone down but affirms what they are and stand for. In that I affirm them.

I am sure I have things to learn, but on whether one is simply removed or knows something about this matter, are you not perhaps being presumptuous?!

Ben W

JCF
JCF
13 years ago

BenW and Joe: it’s sad, really, that you’re so locked into your self-image of “we’ve ALWAYS thought this way”, that you can’t see one can’t have a millenias-old scripture or tradition CONDEMNING something, that didn’t exist millenias ago! (namely, the concept of sex between two homosexually-ORIENTED persons).

Nevermind: I pray that God-in-Christ grants us ALL More Light. Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

JCF quoted: “”That we are resolved to continue to be in communion with the See of Canterbury as we unequivocally and unambiguously remain in the Anglican Communion.””

But is this loyalty? I suggest it’s all to novel a phenomenon “to remain faithfully what they are” or “historic Christian teaching”, but novel Inerrantist in-readings mixed with late modern Social Politics and well trod coercion into sub ordination – clue, what happened again just recently in Austria.

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

Joe wrote: “The rejection of homosexual practice as immoral – and therefore inconsistent with a Christian ethos – does not make one “fearful” of homosexuals. Likewise, holding to a 2,000 year-old tradition of interpretation of Holy Scripture (actually much older if we count the Hebraic tradition) does not mean one necessarily shares the sentiments of a particular 19th century theological movement. So, enough with the name-calling already. (Is ad hominem the best you can do? Really?)” There is nothing like this in the Hebraic tradition. It is anti Modernism, late modern Social Politics, based on Philosophical and Gnosticist Hellenist teachings… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

Ben “I am sure I have things to learn, but on whether one is simply removed or knows something about this matter, are you not perhaps being presumptuous?! “ You keep making these sensible statements, but then you sabotage yourself by speaking of people deliberately sinning (on another thread), which displays absolutely no knowledge of those you disagree with at all. And that’s the kind interpretation, the alternative would be that you DO know and understand this but deliberately lie about people. I don’t want to believe that. But don’t forget, your posts are being judged in the light of… Read more »

christopher+
christopher+
13 years ago

Actually, this might well reflect the very best one could hope for: the highest degree of communion possible amidst disagreement.

christopher+
christopher+
13 years ago

Worth noting nonetheless is the bottom line: According to the Province of West Africa, partnered GLBT Christians and their families must not be given “acceptance by the Church of God.” Instead, they must be treated as being in need of pastoral care. Surely our West African brethren will understand if many of us answer this way, as our discussion within the Anglican Communion continues: “We shall continue to abhor such” marginalization of fellow human beings “and, therefore, appeal to those members to reconsider their” treatment of their lesbian and gay sisters and brothers and the unintended sanction and encouragement they… Read more »

Ben W
Ben W
13 years ago

Christopher,

I think that is why we need the “covenant process,” there is no way just to leave things as they are (that ends in chaos).

It cannot impose a solution but it can be a basis for some sorting out, establishing some understandings for relating, or distance (based on some understandable reasons) between different parts of what has been the AC.

Ben W

Malcolm+
13 years ago

From the statement: “”That we are resolved to continue to be in communion with the See of Canterbury as we unequivocally and unambiguously remain in the Anglican Communion.””

Goran asks: “But is this loyalty?”

In general, a statement like this might seem odd. Asserting you are staying if there has been no talk of going would seem to raise up the alternate prospect.

But given the exceedingly disloyal talk of others, a statement unambiguously asserting the intention to stay is loyalty, I think.

Spirit of Vatican II
Spirit of Vatican II
13 years ago

The blandly pharisaical quoting of Romans 1 shows how deeply entrenched and how terrifically oppressive this demonization of homosexuals is in Christianity. These bishops have learnt nothing, except perhaps to be practiced hypocrites.

counterlight
counterlight
13 years ago

I’m with +christopher on this one. I see this as a declaration to remain in communion, even with those that they disagree with profoundly ( I second JCF’s statement that the profound disagreement goes in both directions). No, I do not see this as a call, explicit or implicit, for a covenant process with inquisitorial powers, and for primates with curial authority beyond national autonomy. I see the calls for such things as nothing more than a thinly disguised determination to break communion with the North American Churches (and maybe with Brazil and a few others). I read the statement… Read more »

Davis d'Ambly
Davis d'Ambly
13 years ago

Counterlight, I’m with you – I’m happy to meet anyone at the altar. In fact it’s our privilege to meet anyone at the altar.

Julian
Julian
13 years ago

Are you all men discussing this? A mother sees it differently. I have yet to meet one who rejects her own gay/lesbian child.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

Julian,
To his eternal credit, my father hasn’t rejected me either but welcomed my partner with open arms.

And Counterlight, I repeat what I have said here often before. My ray of hope for the Anglican Communion is our own village parish where the evangelical fundamentalist disagrees heartily with everything I say or do, but kneels side by side with me at the altar, welcomes me to his house for prayer breakfast and never forgets to exchange the Peace with me.

Spirit of Vatican II
Spirit of Vatican II
13 years ago

These bishops deplore name-calling, by which they mean names like “liberal” and “conservative”. How Christian of them, as they mash gays with their boots.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“Who after all is calling for departing/new interpretation of scripture or of historic Christian teaching?” Ben, I agree with you that stating clearly that they will remain in communion with those with whom they have profound disagreement is a good thing, but I point out that resting all authority in Scripture, claiming it can never be reinterpreted, espousing a Reformation era Protestant sacramental theology (denying baptismal regeneration, for instance, or promoting lay presidency), approving usury and remarriage after divorce are actually “new” things. The attitudes of Evangelicals to these things are no more than 500 years old, and in their… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
choirboyfromhell
13 years ago

Agreed Erika, a lovely vision that could be attainable if some would get their heads out of their collective you-know-whats. Perhaps Canada, as mentioned in a later article, has come up with the ultimate solution. Perhaps we do need to worship together and stop acting like children.

counterlight
counterlight
13 years ago

Indeed, that is a lovely thing to contemplate Erika. If we could only have that on a larger scale across national and sectarian boundaries, then we would all be just a few inches closer to the Heavenly Kingdom.

I find it a truly striking contrast that the much maligned +Gene Robinson cannot imagine an Anglican Communion without ++Peter Akinola, while ++Akinola cannot imagine a world with +Robinson.

Ben W
Ben W
13 years ago

Ford, I think we go around and around the same thing much of the time. To begin with, why not let the West Africans speak for themselves (instead of your “reinterpretation” of them). They stated, “That we are resolved to continue to be in communion with the See of Canterbury as we unequivocally and unambiguously remain in the Anglican Communion.” They see the departing/new interpretations as the threat to unity. But they are not schismatics and have no intention of being anything other than what they have been to this point – faithful Christians and Anglicans. You emphazize that “I… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

Still distorting, Ben W?

And yet (at the same time) claiming: “I think we go around and around the same thing…”

I cannot see that we do.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

Ben, I agree the West African statement is a good thing, how is what I said a “reinterpretation”? Second, WRT Scripture, you seem to be coming from the assumption that Scripture is the basis of the faith. It is not. The faith is a Tradition handed down to us. It is a metanoia, a changing of the mind, from the earthly to the Heavenly. The Bible is merely the user’s manual for that Tradition. There were Christians long before there was a Bible. Just because something does not accord with Scripture does not mean it is not from the Spirit.… Read more »

Ben W
Ben W
13 years ago

Ford, Again, one assumption after another! To start with the statement of the West Africans, it was a refreshing and clear affirmation. I think you saw something important but missed the deep issue here. In your “reinterpretation” instead of a clear affirmation we have another “political” statement of accomodation (“we will remain in communion with you even though we disagree” – we will play nice). The most flagrant assumption: if you go back to what I actually said in my previous post you see that I certainly was not talking about scripture apart from tradition or the church. Though even… Read more »

Ford
Ford
13 years ago

Ford, I will pick up one statement that makes me question whether you actually read what I say. “A further problem is that you start with the assumption that those who are not Evangelicals actually believe nothing.” Assumption and distortion of the worst kind! That would not be true even of how I think of bs Spong, though he may not believe much of original Christian faith! I have worked together in Church relations with various groups you could name here, including a thoughtful RCC leader of a representative church association who was chair and for which I served as… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

“Assumption and distortion of the worst kind!”

A very natural assumption in the experience of most.

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

Why so snarky, Ben W?

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

Ben, “I will pick up one statement that makes me question whether you actually read what I say. “A further problem is that you start with the assumption that those who are not Evangelicals actually believe nothing.” Assumption and distortion of the worst kind!” So what does this mean, then: “Do you recognize the difference between faithful interpretation in various contexts and coming up with “your thing” and using scripture as ideology to justify it?” or this: “it is the “reinterpreters” who treat scripture like a wax nose to give it whatever shape they prefer” That’s just from this thread.… Read more »

Ben W
Ben W
13 years ago

Ford, That is a simple one, I think we have a lot of people “making it up as they go along.” Bs Spong will even tell you at times when he’s doing it (“I know this is traditional or this is NT teaching, but I can’t/won’t believe it, it is too unmodern etc. Here is what I say” etc). And it has to be said there are people as well on what you call the cons side at times making it up. Why do you think there is such disarray and such loss of credibility in the Christian church? If… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“I think we have a lot of people “making it up as they go along.” “ So what I said wasn’t assumption and distortion after all! Why is Spong the conservative bogeyman? He doesn’t have much influence afer all. The extreme left wingers I know actually practice a faith grounded in the Incarnation, and they find Spong’s writings pretty uninspiring. I have to say, his concreteness and mistrust of things mystical are more reminiescent of the ideas of Evangelicals than of anything I can relate to. As to why the Church is in disarray, that’s easy. Most people I know… Read more »

Ben W
Ben W
13 years ago

Ford, You are letting your language run away with you again. You have picked some strong language from people in Africa and want to tar all people on what you call “the right” with this brush. What is that? A form of misrepresentation certainly or even slander? Have I used the language of hate against someone here? Have you heard former Ab Carrey or in Canada J I Packer slander or put down people?! Now these are actual people and notable evangelicals, are you saying they or people associated with them, are doing this? Let’s talk about real people and… Read more »

Ben W
Ben W
13 years ago

Ford,

Your assumption about me that I simply hold to a view that someone who differs in some way I simply discount is merely false.

But you still trot it out it out once again, “those who are not Evangelicals actually believe nothing.” (You should should have put that horse to rest long, ago he can’t run, can’t even stand!). I have spoken to this clearly and from life experience. One who is intent on blindly holding to a particular view even in the face of direct evidence is condemned to it even if it is basely false.

Ben W

Walsingham
Walsingham
13 years ago

@Ford Elms: I think the reason +Spong is the main conservative bogeyman is that he represents the liberal-progressive extreme, and embodies the fears many conservatives have about the direction faith is taking in the Episcopal Church. Of course, I find his ideas deeply unsettling, too (more so that such a person became bishop), but it’s the same kind of guilt-by-association that we had recently comparing conservatives to Fred Phelps. It’s an attempt to divide the church into cleanly liberal and conservative camps, and you’re either with us or against us (and are guilty of everything “your” side does). Seems to… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

Walsingham wrote: “I think the reason +Spong is the main conservative bogeyman is that he represents the liberal-progressive extreme, and embodies the fears many conservatives have about the direction faith is taking in the Episcopal Church.”

Wherever do they get this from? Networking?

Ben W
Ben W
13 years ago

Walsingham, I appreciate your effort to try and understand. Someone asks where did this come from – Spong as your so-called “bogeyman.” Strange this, I referred to him because I read his work (I think that is a good reason, but I have also referred to bss Ingham and Jenkins, and others could be named. But what is the point, instead of dealing with the matter in question we get diversion). Like you I find it amazing that someone like Spong became a bishop. In some ways this is inherent in the point, Spong became an influential bishop and therefore… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

“In some ways this is inherent in the point, Spong became an influential bishop and therefore cannot simply be compared to Phelps, this sideshow without serious connection to any larger Christian church, who for his own reasons cannot be said to represent authentic Christian faith.” Whoops, you’ve just proved my previous point again. But what I find truly astonishing in this sentence is that you judge someone for their peaceful yet unconventional views much harsher than you judge someone who preaches hatred, pickets funerals and shouts at mourners that their loved ones will go to hell….. Ben, please please tell… Read more »

Walsingham
Walsingham
13 years ago

@Göran: Well, consider that us lib’rul folk also network — IntegrityUSA, for example, or Affirming Catholicism. In TEC at least, to be quite blunt right now we pretty much rule the roost, so we have less acute need to formally network. The ACN and so on are largely defensive measures from a group that feels under siege, and we’ve done everything we can to encourage that (whether intentionally or not). @Ben W: Glad to oblige. I hope that this sort of conversation becomes more common in the runup to Lambeth. @Erika Baker: To be honest, the reason I see +Spong… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“are you saying they or people associated with them, are doing this?” “Associated” is key here, Ben. If people are willing to break communion with Gene Robinson but be in communion with +Akinola, they must consider the behaviour of the latter to be more acceptable than that of the former. People who do not wish to be in communion with either would have far more respect from me. Do you see my point? I admit I often fall for the same thing I am accusing you of: tarring all “them” with the one brush. You, and now walsingham, call me… Read more »

Ben W
Ben W
13 years ago

Ford, It is good to see that you recognize the unfairness of some things you have said here. You also forget what is going by way of legal interaction in Nigeria is the not the priority issue it seems to be for you and others! One piece I saw referred to it in the context of moral legislation that dealt even more with adultery. In a context where they have a very different history, different people groups (Islam with an emphasis on ceratin standards of public morlaity), what do people here think gives them the right to determine how they… Read more »

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