Friday, January 11, 2008

Being Fair to Archbishop Peter Akinola and supporters

In various tracts for cyberspace, I have urged that there is a moral duty on Archbishop Akinola and his supporters (a) to go to The Lambeth Conference in July 08, and (b) not to hold the June 08 Jerusalem Conference, which has the appearance of an alternative to Lambeth 08.
One friend, who patiently reads my tracts and who has a feel for the good of the Anglican Communion from the non-Western end of things, wrote the following to me concerning what he sees as a weakness in my analysis and comments. I quote this friend in full and then I comment:

I consider that you have not plumbed sufficiently the depths of the hurt
that has been done to Archbishop Akinola and his party by those who consider
themselves to be mature in the Anglican Communion. They view themselves to have
been attacked and violated, not necessarily actively, but by the passive and
complacent cynicism of what is supposed to be a pastoral "process" that has
become a system for their subjugation. That is why they have likened it to
secular colonialism, rightly or wrongly.

Honesty and candour have been sacrificed, in their view and mine, on the
altar of the expediency of the moment. Principle has been sacrificed to power.
As for truth ... in the eyes of the Akinolites, it is nowhere to be seen at
Canterbury/Lambeth. "What is truth?", said the jesting West.

For you to lay the burden of a solution onto the Akinolites by urging upon
them to desist is just to add to the intolerable hurt they have borne. No - let
them have their conference in peace and good will.

Rather, the burden should be placed squarely upon those who consider
themselves to be the more mature Anglicans. Let them indeed show true maturity!
Let them, at last, take up the cross that the Lord lays upon them in the matter.
Let them exercise their leadership by giving way over the Lambeth Conference.
Let it be delayed until there has been discussion between the two parties
post-Jerusalem. By doing this, the Akinolites will for a change understand
themselves to be taken seriously, and allowed to change the course of events.
The Rowanites will also be able to salvage their integrity, if this is done
honestly. Then, in the light of those discussions, let there be a new set of
invitations to Lambeth in due course, and a new understanding of what Lambeth is
supposed to be about.

The 10-year Lambeth cycle has been interrupted before, for good reason. It
should be interrupted again.

I concede and lament that there is at times—and too often--a display of a certain western superiority at work in the way that the so called “Windsor Process” has been moving over the last two years. There has been little attempt to seek “truth” and much attempt to use political methods to delay and to cloud truth. Further, I have written of my own sadness that the A of C , for whom I have deep affection, has not got on the phone more often to Akinola or taken the plane from London to Lagos to meet him face to face. I have urged friends in England to persuade Rowan to be more active and diplomatic, rather than academic and donnish, in his relations with the Primates of the Global South.

This said—and it is important that Rowan’s failures be known—the fact is that NOT all the Global South is in favor of boycotting Lambeth 08; and NOT all of the Global South is in favor of holding the Jerusalem Conference (where locally even the G S Presiding Bishop is against it!).
Since Akinola et al—with good cause-- have set themselves up as the true orthodox in this Anglican crisis, and since they are the ones who are most clearly committed to biblically-based religion in a straightforward, evangelical way, it would seem to me that they ought—as true disciples of Jesus the Reconciler—to go to Lambeth; and there let their light from Jesus so shine that God is glorified, and there be as the salt of the earth so that all may be blessed by their gracious presence and activity. Let them manifest by their consecration to Jesus, by the quality of their lives and in witness to truth, that they live by the real Gospel, and not by the politicized ways of many western churchmen.

In terms of cancelling Lambeth, this has to be done 2 years ahead, not 6 months or 9 months ahead. Planning for the accommodation of 850 bishops, many spouses and a host of other people, arranging the timetable and agenda, venues, transport, feeding, visits to various dioceses at weekends, to the Queen and Parliament and so on and so forth was already virtually completed in outline by the time that some calls where made by the Global South to cancel it all.

Further, having ALL the Bishops together in one place for 2-3 weeks is a wonderful opportunity—provided by Providence I would say-- for them to meet in person rather than by e mail and phone or via the press and media. This only occurs once every ten years. The agenda, which is already set could be changed or modified according to the expressed mind of those present, in order to make this Meeting into an opportunity for God to be the living, revealing LORD God unto these 800 Bishops. And this situation would allow Rowan to re-consider his stance and attitude and methods, and, under God and anointed by the Spirit, for him to be a real instrument of truth and unity.

If the Unity of the Global Anglican Family in Truth is something worth preserving in these dark days, then the Bishops from West and East Africa are needed—indeed are summoned by the Spirit to be present—at Lambeth 08. If they do not attend then the Anglican Family will be seriously harmed and become permanently divided. January 11, 2008

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