Monday, June 23, 2008

Anglicans in Jerusalem...

To preface these comments, I want to say that I stand on the conservative side of matters in the current Anglican crisis. I’m even in print supporting and analyzing the work of the Church of Nigeria in its canonical response of removing the Archbishop of Canterbury as the focus of unity in its canons. I am strongly supportive of the work of orthodox Anglicans for the unity and purity of the church’s doctrine and life.

Too often, however, I think that conservatives are callous and fail to find any plank in their own eye as they carry out their service to God. I think this callousness is especially apparent in some of the actions taken by the organizers of GAFCON, as well as by some of those reporting on the event on Anglican blogs.

Bp. Suhail Dawani of Jerusalem has for some time been pleading with Akinola and others to not hold GAFCON in his diocese. He even received word that the conference was to be held in Jerusalem through a press release rather than through any request for permission on the part of Akinola or others. Rather than respect Dawani’s objection to the location of the conference, the organizers of GAFCON have in large part moved forward with their own intentions, claiming prophetic inspiration for the location, which seems in this case to trump brotherly kindness. Now… as if this weren’t bad enough… we have David Virtue reporting on Bp. Dawani’s recent sermon in shocking terms. “In a strained, invitation-only service that saw much diplomatic feinting and ecclesiastical double-talk”, and “In stern language, that reflected censure rather than welcome,” … have we forgotten that this is Dawani’s own diocese? That GAFCON is meeting there against his wishes? Have we become so partisan that we have abandoned the bonds of charity or any ability to recognize where we might have done something wrong ourselves?

Comments from David Virtue’s readers are even worse:

I don't think that there's the least bit of doubt as to whom Dawani answers to....and it ISN'T CHRIST, evidently.”

Dawani is Kate's [Katharine Jefferts Schori’s] sock puppet undergoing a perpetual prostate exam.”

About the only significance of Dawani's speech is to clearly highlight the continuing intransigence of the revisionists led by Hades' little helper Katie-in-the-clown-suit.”

While I generally support the more conservative calls for renewal in the Anglican Communion, I have severe misgivings about the way that conservative leaders have carried out this renewal. I do hope that GAFCON is an edifying contribution to current problems in world Anglicanism, but I worry that those who have organized it are quickly losing sight of the bonds of affection and embracing the inertia of a movement rather than the lovingkindness of the Gospel. There is no reason to demonize Bp. Dawani as the pundits have done… it only works to justify claims from other Anglicans and the media that GAFCON is all about division rather than unity.
[image credits: ELO photo/Matthew Davies, © 2008 Episcopal Life Online]


  1. I totally agree with this. But we should be clear here - its not just an issue of bishops who are being inconsiderate of each other but basically have good intentions at heart with a bunch of pundits and bloggers stirring things up and getting nasty. It is the bishops themselves who are being nasty in a lot of cases. I found a quote from Bishop Orama of Nigeria, quoted as saying "homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God’s purpose for man"

    Satanic and not fit to live? That's as bad as any of the bloggers and this is from the community of bishops that splinter Episcopals are seeking the leadership of. I think the people involved in these talks are just as hot-headed as the bloggers.

    Akinola is a little more reserved than that, but he's thrown out a few zingers in his time too.

    I'm not saying everyone has to agree with Schori or Williams or Akinola - there should be a discussion about this. But illiberality and hate is not restricted to the blogosphere, I fear. I get the impression it has penetrated the highest echelon's of the Anglican Church

  2. I hadn't heard about Orama's comment, although I should have... here's a link to the initial report:

    I agree with you that there's a lot of ugliness about this situation. Most of Akinola's harsh comments I think are simply the result of a very different scientific and cultural understanding of homosexuality... throwing around words like "abomination" isn't something to do at cocktail parties, but I think that even where Akinola is very blunt, he's not necessarily being hateful in the way that Orama's comments were. What has bothered me more about some of the African archbishops has been their lack of speaking truth to power against their own governments. They talk about how the Episcopalians have been swept away by the winds of culture, but then they claim that they can't do anything about severe punishments or vigilante action against homosexuals in Africa.

  3. Right - I view "abomination" as a technical term, in a lot of ways - and I think its silly for people to get worked up about Akinola when he's really just talking theology.

    "don't deserve to live" is not a technical term and its just plain not acceptable. It blows my mind that otherwise intelligent people at the Falls Church and places like that would run with open arms to people like this.

    And not only doesn't he stand up to his government - I think there's reason to believe he's complicit. He egged christians on during the Mohammed comic rioting.

    Since I'm not heavily invested in Anglicanism, I always feel a little awkward making comments that are too strong about this issue... but I do think that the whole Akinola gang is very different from a lot of the other "get back to our roots" theologians that you like. I don't know - just seems different to me.

    btw - do you have any idea what Akinola thinks of Tutu? I imagine they aren't buddies, but I dunno.