Thursday, July 12, 2007

++Orombi in First Things

My favorite journal, First Things, has scored quite a coup with “What is Anglicanism?” from the Archbishop of Uganda Henry Luke Orombi.

So much can be said about this excellent article. I’ll confine my comments to excerpts I find particularly interesting in light of the current Anglican troubles.

Right up front he makes a bold statement:

But however we come to understand the current crisis in Anglicanism, this much is apparent: The younger churches of Anglican Christianity will shape what it means to be Anglican. The long season of British hegemony is over.

He then rightly asserts, “Scripture must be reasserted as the central authority in our communion.” And he eloquently recites some of the history of how important scripture is to the Ugandan church. Then he makes another bold statement:

From Thomas Cranmer to Richard Hooker, from the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1662 Ordinal to the 1998 Lambeth Conference, the authority of Holy Scripture has always held a central and foundational role in Anglican identity. This is true for the Anglican church in Uganda; and, if it is not true for the entire Anglican Communion, then that communion will cease to be an authentic expression of the Church of Jesus Christ.

This is not an archbishop who will stay in communion with Canterbury at all costs. And this TEC “new thing” crap has got to go:

The insistence from some Anglican circles (mostly in the Western world) on esoteric interpretations of Scripture borders on incipient Gnosticism that has no place in historic or global Anglicanism.

And he’s not going to “meet” forever if the decisions of those meetings are continually undermined.

The resolutions of the Lambeth Conference of Bishops have always had a moral authority among the communion’s autonomous but interdependent provinces, yet some of those resolutions are now flagrantly defied and even mocked.

We primates have worked hard in recent years to find consensus even in our present situation of broken or impaired communion. Through the grace of God, our communiqués have been consensus statements, unanimously agreed upon, and they are evidence of our commitment as primates to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Yet some provinces have not taken our communiqués seriously, and the primates, as an instrument of communion, have been scorned.

And he’s right. The arrogance of the Episcopal Church and even of the Archbishop of Canterbury in undermining the Primates Meetings has gone beyond what is tolerable. Speaking of meetings whose resolutions are ignored, you can forget about Lambeth.

In December 2006, the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda unanimously adopted “The Road to Lambeth,” a statement drafted for a council of African provinces. Among other things, it stated, “We will definitely not attend any Lambeth Conference to which the violators of the Lambeth Resolution [1.10] are also invited as participants or observers.” Accordingly, if the present invitations to the Lambeth Conference stand, I do not expect the Ugandan bishops to attend.

But then he makes an important clarification (The emphasis is mine.):

It is important that this decision not be misunderstood as withdrawing from the instruments of communion. On the contrary, our decision reflects the critical importance of the Lambeth Conference: Its value as an instrument of communion is greatly diminished when the persistent violators of its resolutions are invited. . . . An instrument of communion must also be an instrument of discipline in order to effectively facilitate meaningful communion among its autonomous provinces.

Consider this with ++Akinola’s recent statement in the Times interview:

So we are not breaking away from anybody. We remain Anglicans. We are Anglican church. We will die Anglicans. We aint going nowhere, as Americans would say. We aint going nowhere. But to gather as Anglicans with all these people, we must get it right.

These two clarifications make me think the schism won’t be as immediate or as certain as people think. As ++Orombi states earlier, the Global South Primates recognize that the future is with their churches more than with the heterodox Western Anglican churches. So they haven’t given up on the Anglican Communion altogether. Don’t expect a split with trumpets blowing next year.

Now, they won’t put up with business as usual. And they will continue to foster an evolving working together of orthodox Anglicans. But they aren’t burning their bridges. They are leaving the door open to continue in or to return to the Anglican Communion in the future should it decide to “get it right.” And with time and demographics -- and God -- on the side of the orthodox, they may well have the power one day to make the Anglican Communion “get it right.”

And ++Orombi’s and ++Akinola’s statements indicate they and those who come after them will be both more dogged and more patient about that than most people expect.

Hat tip to Titusonenine.

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