Skip to comments.Thoughts from a Deposed Recife Priest
Posted on 09/02/2005 8:30:01 AM PDT by sionnsar
Anglicanism: Death and New Life
Sober Impressions from an Excommunicated Evangelical Minister
By the Reverend Marcus O. Throup
(DAR) Anglican Diocese of Recife
Sept. 1, 2005
Recently, Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria, declared that he would remain faithful to the See of Canterbury as long as Canterbury remains faithful to the historical (biblical) tenets of Anglicanism. This courageous pronouncement from the Primate of the worlds largest Anglican Province (in terms of active membership), highlights, among other things, that which all of us already know: the Anglican Communion in its present form finds itself in extremis.
The walls of the grand old house are sadly crumbling, and as falling debris wounds the family, I find myself asking, how did we arrive at this tragic, bitter, and perplexing crossroads where former companions will now walk apart?
Different answers are given by different people. Some, leaning on the rather questionable wisdom of a suspiciously modern, Hegelian dialectic, continue to assert that the ecclesiastical crisis over homosexuality is entirely necessary. Here there is an unfortunate and naïve tendency to attribute the chaos to the action of the Holy Spirit in the Church.
This position, besides lacking realism as to the very nature and mechanics of sin, turns a blind eye to the true unitive role of Gods Spirit in the Church, as attested throughout Holy Scripture. Worse still, on this view, blame for disorder, disunity and the jeopardising of mission is implicitly transferred (via psychological projection?) into the divine sphere itself!
For us this is more than unacceptable; it is unpalatable. The real reason for todays sorry state of Anglican affairs is far simpler: we have allowed sin and the Evil One to get a firm grip on our denomination.
In one sense all of us bear some responsibility for this. The liberals or better, revisionists, are most obviously at fault, since they reject the clear teaching of the Word of God on homosexuality, as affirmed in accepted Anglican religion, both traditional and contemporary. However, those of us who belong to the orthodox majority are also culpable, since we are the ones who with a tragically laissez-faire attitude have allowed things to get so far out of hand.
We are guilty of committing the sin of omission, and, since that particular sin is explicitly mentioned in the old confessional liturgy of the Church of England (and translated into dozens of other languages), we have no excuse. We really should have known and done better
This week, consonant with several other recent unhappy happenings, hostile actions taken by Brazilian revisionists against evangelical Anglicans once again overtook the international institutional processes meant to safeguard faithful Anglicans. This time 31 evangelical colleagues and I were excommunicated from the Brazilian Province (IEAB) in what was a non-canonical and extremely arbitrary act, demonstrating yet again the apparent disdain and disregard which the IEAB has shown towards the Archbishop of Canterburys Panel of Reference, which is still to deliberate on the case of Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and the Recife Diocese (DAR).
While there are those who may suggest that our excommunication amounts to the amputation of a disease ridden limb from the body, (the disease in question faithfulness to the Holy Scriptures and to accepted Anglican teaching), we are not the ones in a state of spiritual atrophy. To the contrary, while the Church in other parts of Brazil is in serious decline (statistically that is), the Evangelical Anglicanism of the North East continues to experience significant growth. Among the 32 clergy excommunicated are the Archdeacon Miguel Uchoa, rector of the largest Anglican Parish in Latin America, and the Reverend Simea Meldrum, known throughout the world for her pioneering mission work with the poor on the rubbish dump of Olinda. These are but two examples which serve to illustrate and reinforce that which prominent international figures have affirmed of late; namely that the Recife diocese (i.e. Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and those excommunicated) is the only existing hope for Brazilian Anglicanism.
As a diocese, we are hurting at this time. However, as Brazilian Pentecostals are fond of saying, Jesus is the medic of medics, so trusting in His saving power, were looking to Christ our Lord for consolation. As orthodox, evangelical Anglicans, Id say we have good reason to remain hopeful, in spite of adverse circumstances. It may well be that Anglicanism as we know it is struggling for air, but here in the Global South there are rumours of new beginnings, of new life, and of new communion .
In the meantime, were prayerfully trustful that holy order will soon prevail over diabolic entropy, convicted that never again will we imperil our Church by such crass procrastination, through negligence, through weakness, and through our own deliberate fault.
*The Revd Marcus O. Throup studied at the Universities of Oxford and Nottingham and is the Principal at the Anglican Theological Seminary of Recife.
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