Monday, November 21, 2005

Nigeria! Nigeria! Nigeria!

This is so cool:

In an historic moment, as part of the realignment of global Anglicanism, on November 12, 2005 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Most Rev. Leonard W. Riches, Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church, and the Most Rev. Walter H. Grundorf, Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Province of America, entered on behalf of their three Churches a Covenant Union of Anglican Churches in Concordat.
OK, that probably doesn't sound so impressive to those of you who haven't been following the shake-up in the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA). What it means, in simple terms, is that the biggest communion of Anglicans on the planet (Nigeria), with the most kick-ass Archbishop (Peter Akinola), has formally recognized my denomination (REC) and seriously dissed ECUSA. The REC has long been considered a sort of poor step-sister to ECUSA because we are smaller and evangelical, whereas they are big and apostate. This is equivalent to Isaac choosing Jacob over Esau, or Israel choosing Ephraim over Manasseh. It is like the English ousting James II and restoring the protestants William and Mary.

It is especially a kick in the pants for ECUSA since their former poster-boy, John Shelby Spong, once famously dismissed the African bishops as having "moved out of animism into a very superstitious kind of Christianity." Well, now those same bishops are joining with the REC to evangelize the apostate West: "The three Churches have united specifically for joint mission in North America."


I apologize for the unwonted exuberance of this post, but I have been praying for this for a very long time.

(Note: I don't mean to leave the Anglican Province in America out of the mix. The REC and the APA are in full communion. We are on the road to an actual merger but there are some minor issues, such as Mariology, that are acting as speed-bumps. Nothing serious, but worth taking time over. So, when I say "my denomination", I assume that will eventually include the APA, as well.)

Update: The link to the quoted article above goes to the REC main web site. There evidently isn't a way to link to the article itself, so it may eventually become outdated.


Rosemary said...

It is good to see you so energized! I have a question. I know there has been a shake up due to the allowing of a homosexual man to become a Bishop (and President?) of the Episciple Church. Is this branch breaking away to follow God, or is it the branch that supports homosexuality?

I haven't watched as faithfully as I should have. I was devasted, and I am Southern Baptist! Ya know, it doesn't matter, not really, which branch we are. We all love God, and He loves us. Thank Him!

Have a very Happy ThanksGiving. :)

Jack said...

That's actually a complicated question. The REC didn't split from ECUSA over the homosexual question. We split about 125 years ago over a completely different matter. That is too much to go into at the present, but part of the dispute was over the nature of the church. The bishop who founded the REC maintained that the church was based on faith in Christ, but his opponents claimed that the formal "apostolic succession" was necessary. In other words, groups that couldn't trace their pedigree directly back to the apostles were excluded.

One of the results was that our position allowed us to retain the traditional evangelical doctrines and values that ECUSA has been shedding for the past 40-50 years in the name of modernity. The liberals in ECUSA have used parlimentary tricks and legalism to take over, rather than obeying the spirit of Christian values in their judgments. Perhaps you can see how the earlier question of formality vs. faith developed into the current crisis.

To make a long story short, by recognizing the REC, the Nigerian bishops have take a stand that doctrine and morality are more important than formal succession. It is faith in apostolic teaching not the physical act of laying on hands, that makes one a true successor to the apostles.

(By the way, the REC does have the formal apostolic succession as well, but we just don't make an idol of it. Part of the dispute from 1873 was our desire to have communion with all Christians.)

Rosemary said...

I can agree with that. After all, in Matthew 25 Jesus said, "Go out into all the world and make disciples of everyone." (Yes. Not word for word, sorry.)

What I don't understand about these people that hold to the doctrine that they must be descendents is the fact that we are ALL adopted into the body of Christ! (John 3)


Giacomo said...

Fascinating. From my Roman Catholic point of view the Anglican bishops in question have traded ecclesiological orthodoxy for christological and moral, but in the fight to save the latter from Spong et al. I'm with ya, as is the Pope.