Skip to comments.Anglican split goes far deeper than gay dispute
Posted on 02/10/2007 3:51:12 PM PST by sionnsar
PARIS -- It's not all about gays.
The worldwide Anglican Communion is on the brink of schism, with African prelates leading a charge against the U.S.-based Episcopal Church for consecrating a gay bishop. A showdown is shaping up for an Anglican summit next week in Tanzania.
But the split in the 77-million strong Communion runs far deeper than the dispute over Gene Robinson, the gay cleric made bishop in 2003, historian Philip Jenkins thinks.
Liberal Anglicans in rich countries and traditionalists in the Global South read the Bible in such different ways that they could be in quite different churches, he argues in his recent book "The New Faces of Christianity."
"There is an absolutely fundamental division over the nature of authority," Jenkins, professor of history and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University in the United States, told Reuters by telephone. Widely varying views are the result.
While liberals base their beliefs on the New Testament's message of love and inclusiveness, he said, Christians in Africa focus more on the Old Testament with its plagues, visions and healings watched over by a stern and demanding God.
"That corresponds more to the world they live in," he said.
So a traditionalist challenge led by Nigeria's Archbishop Peter Akinola would not disappear if the liberals retreated on gay bishops and blessings for same-sex unions, he said: "It's a lot more fundamental than people are arguing."
The primates (leaders) of the Anglican Communion's 38 provinces will meet in Dar Es Salaam on Feb. 14-19 for a summit overshadowed by the divisive issue of homosexuality.
Liberal churches in rich countries have become increasingly open towards homosexuality. In Africa, where the Bible is read much more literally, traditionalists believe the issue was settled when the Book of Leviticus called it "an abomination."
"If you're arguing over homosexuality and quote Leviticus, most western Christians say that's just in the Old Testament and has nothing to do with them," Mr. Jenkins said.
This different reading leads to practices that embarrass many liberals, such as exorcism of demons. Some African churches also refuse to join the majority and allow women priests. In Nigeria, a sometimes violent frontier between Islam and Christianity, Muslim respect for the Koran, male leadership and heterosexual marriage rubs off on Christians.
"Christians do not want to be seen paying less attention to their own scriptures than Muslims devote to the Koran," Mr. Jenkins wrote in his book.
ANGLICANS AT THE SHARP EDGE
More than half the world's Anglicans now live in the Global South and their numbers are rising rapidly. Their influence can only continue to grow, Mr. Jenkins thinks.
"It is only within the last decade that most western Christians have even discovered that this kind of Christianity is even there," he observed.
The Anglican Communion is at the sharp edge of the shift, he said, because it holds its global Lambeth Conferences every 10 years to agree on a consensus on teachings.
"Other mainstream Protestant churches have been extremely nervous watching the Anglican experience, but it's not so pressing because they don't have global conferences," he said.
The split among the Anglicans has gone so far that at least 45 traditionalist parishes in the United States have broken ranks and switched allegiance to African bishops.
Mr. Jenkins did not think this tiny minority could form a rival bloc there but saw a schism looming at the global level.
"In the Anglican Communion, the prospect is quite high that the Episcopal Church is basically kicked out of the Communion or politely asked to leave before 2008, when they have the next Lambeth Conference," he said.
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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15
It isn't "those benighted Africans who believe only in the vengeful, judgmental Old Testament God" versus "(we) enlightened and oh-so-superior Westerners who realize that the New Testament releases us from all moral strictures."
. . . ONLY if you ignore the many "judgmental" pronouncements by Our Saviour, including "male and female created he them - what God has joined together let no man put asunder" -- not to mention St. Paul who was VERY explicit on matters of sexuality.
The difference between orthodox Christians and revisionists in the US and Europe goes beyond that.
We believe in the Triune God--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--who is Love in himself. He has saved us through the Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is true God and true man. Our God loves us so much that he has given us the means by His Spirit to grow in holiness, and to be united with Him (theosis) forever. "God became man so that man may become God." And he calls us to spread his life-giving Gospel to the ends of the earth, so that all may be saved.
The revisionists, however, disparage the Name of God, and want to replace it with empty "inclusive langauge" metaphors. They say that there are "many paths to God", even islam and paganism. They are not interested in holiness, and want an "anything goes" morality, and a lose, "inclusive" doctrine. And they say that teaching the Gospel should be replaced with social programs, and that these programs consititute the central purpose of the Church.
If the revisionists emphasize love, it is a very shallow love indeed. And they can be positively judgmental and unloving when they attack orthodox Christians and other groups who are not politically correct. Those revisionist mis-leaders who grasp after the property of orthodox parishes, or force "inclusive language" hymnals, "progressive" Biblical interpretation, and "gay" or feminazi priests/pastors on them are among the most unloving of all.
Exactly what I was thinking. The New Testament is not "inclusive," if that means "There's no such thing as 'sin' ". The New Testament, like the Old Testament, emphasizes God's desire for the sinner to repent.
The distinction is that the New Testament describes how the sinner's repentance can be sufficient to justify him before God.
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