Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Where Disparate Minds Agree

Fr. Dale Matson

It is in this context that the attention of the Anglican Communion has again turned to Canterbury. The bishop’s chair there will soon be vacant, even as Rowan Williams takes full advantage of the months preceding his December retirement. And while speculation as to his successor runs hot, most observers place their bets on current occupants of English sees. That would be a mistake. As the Anglican Communion continues its growth in the non-Western world, I believe its nominal leader must reflect that change: it is time for an African Archbishop of Canterbury. (Episcopal Deacon Jesse Zinc) http://livingchurch.org/look-africa

Leave it to one of those pesky deacons to say publicly what I have said privately. This is not radical thinking since Rowan Williams has stated that the job of Archbishop of Canterbury is too big for one person. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9528915/My-job-is-too-big-for-one-man-says-Archbishop-of-Canterbury.html . This is a call for change.

The church in England was initially headed by an “outsider” Augustine of Canterbury appointed by Pope Gregory the Great. For those of us in the West, who have dominated the world stage and controlled the leadership of the communion, it is time to look to those in Africa who represent the largest segment of Anglicans, to play a much larger role in future of Anglicanism. It is our best hope of remaining a Christian church.

It is not just the demographic weight that argues for this. It is also the evangelical fervor that is so much a part of the Anglican Church in Africa. It is also a place where being a Christian could be a death sentence. It is a place where Islam competes for converts. Africa is a place where the shed blood of Jesus is often mixed with the blood of Christian martyrs. This is the seedbed for leaders who have arisen full of the Holy Spirit, who remain unwilling to parse truth and reconcile with those intractably professing a false gospel and a diminished Christology.

Those who see themselves in the reasonable middle see both the left and right as unreasonable. I am on the “Loony right” for those who place themselves in the middle however, Christianity to the rational mind, is itself unreasonable. Since when has the position of the historic one holy catholic and apostolic church become the realm of the loony right? The Anglican Church needs to present an unapologetic prescription strength remedy to the world. Anything less may yield less criticism from the surrounding culture but anything less is only a feel good placebo. A church that does not boldly present Jesus Christ as Divine, ultimate truth and the only means for salvation is not involved in the Great Commission. If we are not presenting this Gospel, we do not love our brothers either.  We are no longer a Christian Church.

I believe that our brothers and sisters in the Global South have been longsuffering and patient as they watched doctrinal error spread. They have worn out their knees praying for us as another gospel other than the Gospel of Christ Jesus became the gospel of humanism.  They now see a time when many who call themselves moderates or conservatives are only this because they are positionally there. They think they are reconcilers; they are unwitting collaborators. The conservatives have left and we were called schismatic.

In light of this I offer this suggestion. Perhaps the role of the new Archbishop of Canterbury could evolve into a more limited role of running the Church of England and a process could begin that would assign an elected individual to head the World Wide Anglican Communion. Colonialism is dead. Long live the Anglican Communion. It is time to honor our brothers and sisters by seating them at the head table.

Thanks Deacon Jesse.   

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