Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Lines Drawn in the Anglican Church
Well, the meeting of the bishops in Tanzania is over. They came from all over the world to discuss the state of the church. And it wasn't pretty. Apparently some in the rather liberal Anglican communion are fairly upset over the gay issue in the US. Upset enough to pass a resolution to put the US church on notice.
U.S. News and World Report (March 07 issue) writes that the meeting of bishops told the US church "that it has until September 30 to desist from ordaining gay men or lesbians as bishops and to stop sanctioning blessings of same-sex unions. Failure to comply, the communique said, would result in the expulsion of the 2.3 million-member American church from the larger communion." (23)
Wow! I didn't know they had it in them to take that kind of stand. However, we shouldn't underestimate the churches of the so-called "Third World." They are the ones who are putting their collective foot down and demanding accountability. It was the Anglican archbishop of Nigeria, in fact, who has taken several of the American breakaway parishes under his own jurisdiction. And get this: the archbishop "joined six other primates in refusing to celebrate the Eucharist with Schori [first female presiding bishop in the US]. Akinola [archbishop of Nigeria] was also pointedly missing from the Sunday service, where Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury and titular head of the Anglican Communion, called for Christian humility on the part of all bishops." (Ibid)
It was also a Lutheran bishop from Africa that took some Swedish churches under his own wing as well, when the liberal church there would not respect the consciences of their confessional pastors. The leaders with true courage are coming from that place we once called the "dark continent." Now it is the one light trying to illumine the truth for the rest of the church.
I'm proud of those archbishops and bishops who took their stand. They certainly will take a beating from their liberal counterparts who will call them uncaring and insensitive and rigid and even unchristian. So be it. They are living the heritage of the church which dared persecution and banishment when it stood against the state and against heretics alike in the early church.
We should be humbled by the Africans. And we should be encouraged by them as well. Despite the call to desist from "incessant internal purification," or whatever it was called among us in the LCMS, they are showing us again that Truth counts. And that it is "good, right and salutary" to stand up for it. For that it what it means to witness to Christ.