An end to Nationalistic Anglicanism

Jul 22, 2007 by

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by Chris Sugden in Evangelicals Now, August 2007

The Archbishop of Canterbury will be meeting with the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church on 20 and 21 September. Later, the Common Cause of Bishops in the Americas, including Canada and Recife, Brazil will meet as the September 30 deadline for the response of The Episcopal Church to draw back from its apostate stance draws near.

While the captain and officers on the bridge of the good ship The Anglican Communion work out how to avoid the rocks for which it is heading, and others recommend improvements to improve its superstructure, below decks some American passengers are being persecuted for holding, promoting and sharing the faith which the Communion has held dear. This outrage, in defiance of the clear requests of the Primates in Tanzania in February, should be continually before us as we read the news of proposals, covenants and new bishops being consecrated for America.

Meanwhile orthodox parishes in the United States are being sued by the central bureaucracy of The Episcopal Church for property which the local church has invested in for generations but which the central bureaucracy now claims as it own. People may leave The Episcopal Church, but buildings or property may not. In some cases churches are being sued for the crayons from the Sunday School. In other cases a pastor moving to a parish cannot get a mortgage to buy a house because he is named in a lawsuit and the mortgage company fear that all his assets might be seized including “their” house. One Diocese is spending £20,000 to £25,000 a month just to defend itself from lawsuits emanating from the central bureaucracy of The Episcopal Church. [Read here->]

Achilles’ Heel of Nationalism

The Achilles’ heel of the Anglican Communion is that it is more likely to go with the grain of the culture and the politically powerful than against them. Its origin in the concerns of Henry VIII to have all state institutions in the nation subject to him is one factor here.

But it is no longer possible to subject all state institutions in one geographical area to one jurisdiction. International companies, the internet, international networks such as the European Union are an expression of the globalisation that has rendered boundaries that were set by how far people could conveniently travel obsolete.

Geography is no longer the sole consideration when thinking about the space that we occupy. We live in global and universal space which is occupied by networks of people with values and commitments. In the church, we are now experiencing the church as envisaged in Acts 15, where Gentile and Jew ( different races and classes) are engaged closely together.

Globalisation as the judgement of God

In the view of a senior Anglican bishop, globalization is an effective judgment of God on the idolatry of the nationalism of the Anglican community. In Anglican expressions of the faith, the universal of the commonality of the faith ( the gospel) informed the particular cultural expression of the faith. But culture now trumps the gospel in The Episcopal Church, as does geography when it claims that its polity (way of ordering the church) is sacrosanct. The Archbishop of the West Indies recently declared that there now could be no assurance that TEC provided continuity with the faith once delivered to the saints. In other words, they are apostate. [Read here->]

Without the universal of the gospel to which we are all accountable, we are led into cultural conflict. So there has been a demonisation of African Christian leaders, especially from Nigeria.

At the same time orthodox Western Christians are now being exposed to the gifts, ministries, and oversight of Bishops from other parts of the world in ways never dreamt of ten years ago. This is because they desperately need them.

Orthodox Anglicans are also forming global networks with those who share the universal biblical gospel. Different networks are now sharing the same geographical space. The Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, and the Anglican Communion Network all operate in the United States and are working ever more closely together, in some cases as parts of Churches in Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda. The identity or communion of these networks, focused on the universal of the gospel, does not depend on being in one geographical location. Their link with each other is not primarily because of geography.

Meanwhile, the work of sharing the love of Jesus continues. Those who share a common biblical faith in the Communion are building new international networks, relationships and coalitions through which God is building an Anglican Communion for the 21st century.

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