Wednesday, May 09, 2012

About Bishop Todd Hunter (and 1 Timothy 5:22)

There has been concern expressed online and elsewhere about the appropriateness of Todd Hunter speaking at the upcoming ACNA Provincial Assembly in the aftermath of AMiA’s fall out with Rwanda. (+Hunter is (or was) an AMiA bishop.)
Bishop Todd Hunter of the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) has been received by the Anglican Church in North America and will serve as an assistant bishop in the office of the primate, the Most Rev. Robert Duncan.
And I agree with Matt Kennedy that it is good to see him, at his initiative, reconciled with Rwanda.
Bishop Hunter also stated that he had asked for and had received forgiveness from the Primate of Rwanda, Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje for “my part in actions, attitudes or communications that were hurtful to him or to my brother bishops in Rwanda.”
So he, Bishop Duncan, and others involved are to be commended for getting this matter resolved and that well before the Provincial Assembly.
However (“Uh, oh,” my readers are saying.), I think we should not let pass without comment a significant reason Todd Hunter got into this mess in the first place.  The following gives a clue about that:
When I walked across the dance floor and was introduced to Anglicanism three years ago I was told repeatedly that we were all working toward one, unified, missional, kingdom-oriented, Spirit-enabled Anglican church in North America. I took that vision into my heart and have pondered it since,” [Bishop Hunter] said.
So he was an Anglican for only three years before being made an Anglican bishop?  Not exactly.  He was made bishop back in 2009.  Look at his own statement back in 2009 between his election and consecration as bishop in the AMiA:
It is big shocker because in the past I would have never thought of myself as an Anglican. While I admired and respected Robert Webber from a distance, I was not one of those people on the Canterbury Trail. I’ve often said over the last six months that this has all come out of the blue for me.
It is not clear exactly what “six months” refers to.  But “three years ago” is 2009. So, by his own admission, he was Anglican for less than a year before being elected an Anglican bishop. (By the way, I remember overhearing talk of this at the Bedford Provincial Assembly.)  That is indeed “out of the blue.”  Read more of his 2009 statement and the comments there to get a flavor of that.
Paul commanded Timothy to “lay hands hastily on no man.” (1Tim. 5:22) It is safe to say that making a new Anglican an Anglican bishop is hasty.
And it put Hunter in a difficult position.  Certainly, to be a bishop of a church and tradition of which one is just getting to know is not an easy position to be in.  That goes double for Anglicanism, in which jurisdictions can be slightly labyrinthine.  This all compounded the difficulty of dealing with the mess when Chuck Murphy went rogue.
Again, +Hunter is to be commended for setting matters aright.  And he may turn out to be an outstanding bishop.  It is clear Archbishop Duncan is among those who have high hopes for him.  God is gracious and often causes undertakings that did not start well to become great blessings and end well.  Even some of the church fathers were made bishops very quickly.  And if anyone is to be criticized, it is those who laid hands on Todd Hunter more than Mr. Hunter himself. 
But Paul did not give the above commandment to Timothy for nothing.  And the awkwardness in which +Hunter found himself in recent months illustrates part of St. Paul’s wisdom.

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