Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Prophetic or divisive words?

Back in 1999, when on retreat as a deacon about to be ordained priest and feeling inadequate for the changed role ahead, these words from the prophet Micah were given to me. 
"He has told you, O mortal, what is good; 
and what does the Lord require of you 
but to do justice, 
and to love kindness, 
and to walk humbly with your God? "       Micah 6:8 
These words have remained in my heart and often come back to me, sometimes as re-assurance as they did on that retreat, sometimes as inspiration and challenge. You don't have to be a Christian to take these words seriously and see their implications for faith in action - how to relate to God and one another as human beings. 


This morning I read the text of a speech given yesterday by Archbishop Eliud Wabukala to the London Leadership Conference of Gafcon (Gafcon stands for Global Anglican Future Conference. The first one was held in Jerusalem in 2008. The next one is planned for 2013. You can read more at the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans website. )

I was encouraged to read the whole speech because at the start Archbishop Eliud Wabukala took Micah 6:8 as his text. This could be worth reading I thought. I was sadly disappointed. I completely failed to see the connection between the Micah text and the way he applies it to "the crisis" in the Anglican Communion. I warm to his passion for evangelism but am concerned about his call for global governance structures in an alternative Anglican Communion. It feels like divisiveness. Members of the FCA (see below) may well have important prophetic messages for the whole Anglican Communion. If they believe that is the case, why withdraw from those structures already in place?


I'm actually rather confused by this. Perhaps someone can help me. 





2 comments:

  1. I don't profess to know much of what GAFCON stands for apart from schism and disunity. I don't doubt their theological convictions, but wonder if those convictions are based on a sense of the superiority of their version of Anglicanism to others.

    The talk about liberals disobeying scriptural truth, based on their unique interpretation of it, while disregarding that others might share some of that truth, or even have an equally valid interpretation of it, guided by the Holy Spirit.

    They seem to consider themselves to the the Orthodox branch of Anglicanism, and others to be inerrant. If I'm honest about it all, I despair for the Anglican Communion, and wonder if it's not time to redefine it.

    GAFCON seems to want an Orthodox version based on the Roman Catholic Model, with centralisation, conformity and obedience. That isn't the Anglican way, which is a partnership of equals, celebrating what we have in common, while appreciating the unique history and culture of each church or province.

    Some evidence for this is the activities of the FCA and others, and the current mini-crisis created by a number of Evangelical parishes in Southward Diocese, unhappy that there are not more Evangelicals in senior positions.

    The next ABC will have their work cut out to get any sense out of GAFCON, perhaps they won't bother and just let them go their own way.

    If ever there was an argument for Women in the Episcopate in the CofE this is one. There would be more informed discussion without rancour and a much more pastoral approach than I believe we see from some of the current male bishops in the CofE. It's time has come and we must seize it and ensure that it happens.

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    1. Thank you for your comments UK Viewer. I've just written a long reply then accidentally clicked on I know not what and it disappeared - so this will be shorter.

      I don't think the GAFCON movement sets out to create schism, but to uphold gospel truth and unity. Perhaps it is the nature of Protestantism that the freedom to interpret Scripture (and tradition)without a centralised authority (such as the Pope in convocation)inevitably leads to diversity of interpretation. This diversity can be schismatic as in 'I'm right and you are wrong so I won't talk and pray with you' or it can enrich the whole church as when one branch witnesses to an aspect of Christian truth that other branches have neglected. From earliest times it seems Christianity has never been held together in uniformity, but has grown through cell division and multiplication. Our unity is in Christ.

      I am an Evangelical. I would like to see more Evangelicals in Senior positions, but I profoundly disagree with the way certain parishes in the Southwark Diocese are making this point. I have been called liberal because of some of my views, including my admiration for the current Archbishop of Canterbury. I have a high view of the sacraments, so perhaps I'm also anglo-catholic. I am also charismatic, but I like liturgy and order (with freedom within it). I don't easily fit any labels really. Perhaps I've become Anglican?

      The Anglican Communion is a wierd body really, developing as it has as a result of the history of the former British Empire. It has to change given that the majority of Anglicans are black African not white English. I see the Anglican Communion as a family of autonomous provinces which has been held together by 'bonds of affection' and mutual respect. Members of a family may disagree about important things but still eat at the same table and learn from each other - as long as they keep meeting and talking and (in the case of the Anglican Communion)praying together.

      I hope you are right about how women will be in the episcopate of the CofE, but women are just as capable of rancour and being non-pastoral as men. The first women appointed as bishops in the CoE will not find it easy. The problem when there is a minority of women in what was formerly an all-male club like the House of Commons or a male-dominated board room is that to be heard and accepted there's a tendency to imimitate the prevailing (male) culture. Margaret Thatcher is one example that comes to mind. All the same I am looking forward to the CofE episcopate including women as well as men - that time came a long time ago in my view, but the CofE has always moved 'like a mighty tortoise'.

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