A Response from the House of Bishops of the Church Of Nigeria

Re: The Challenge And Hope Of Being Anglican Today: A Response From The House Of Bishops Of The Church Of Nigeria

We have received from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, what must be the outcome of in-depth personal reflection on the un-abating tempest of divergent opinions that have continued to rock the worldwide Anglican Communion in recent years.

It is unlikely that anyone who holds our historic worldwide Communion and its leadership, close to heart, and in prayer will fail to grasp the tensions that the Archbishop wrestles with in an attempt to hold together a fragile Communion that is threatened by the real possibility of disintegration and fragmentation.

No one can assume that there are easy answers – and perhaps that is the crux of the problem facing the leadership of our Communion. The issue at stake is not just a crisis of identity, but also a shopping for palatable answers in a situation of contending convictions and shifting values. The dilemma, and therefore the challenge is whether to revisit the old paths of our forbears or to fashion out a novel establishment that is elastic enough to accommodate all the extremes of preferred modes of expression of the same faith.

His analysis of the situation is quite lucid, and the liberal and post-modern tilt of some interpretations is apparent. But we must commend the fact that it appears we have finally come to that point of admitting that we are truly at crossroads as a Communion and the time to decide on the way forward can no longer be wished away. The mere fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury now proposes a two-tier membership for the Anglican Communion is his acceptance that the wound caused by the revisionists has become difficult, if not impossible, to heal. The idea of a Covenant that would ensure this two-tier membership of ‘Constituent Churches’ and ‘Churches in Association’ is brilliant as the heartbeat of a leader who wants to preserve the unity of the Church by accommodating every shred of opinion no matter how unbiblical, all because we want to make everyone feel at home.

The Archbishop submits that “there is no way the Anglican Communion can remain unchanged by what is happening at the moment.” That is a fact of our human existence. But is this not the time for our Communion to take to heart the instructive lines from Henry Francis Lyte in our treasury of hymns, “Change and decay in all around I see; Oh Thou who changest not, abide with me”? Is this not indeed the time for us to hush our hearts and meditate on the significance of the request of the early disciples on the road to Emmaus, “Abide with us,  [they said,] for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent”? (Luke 24:29).  Should the encircling gloom around us not make us ponder on the words of our Lord, "You are the salt of the earth… if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men” (Matthew 5:13)? That we must change is without contention, but should we not change for the better – as redeemed,  reconciled and transformed people of God who have a witness to a lost and broken world?

Archbishop Rowan candidly observes that our Anglican Decision-Making “lacks a set of adequately developed structures which is able to cope with the diversity of views that will inevitably arise in a world of rapid global communication and huge cultural variety” and that we need to be clear about certain age-old assumptions to be sure we are “still talking the same language, “aware of belonging to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ”. He goes on to highlight some of the “fault lines of division.”  He boldly puts the blame at the door of the Episcopal Church where there had been no agreement or any kind of consensus – whether in the Episcopal Church itself or in the global Communion – before the ordination of Gene Robinson was undertaken.  It is noteworthy also that he remarks that “the recent resolutions of the General Convention have not produced a complete response to the challenges of the Windsor Report…” One wonders if such blatant disregard should not be reprimanded.

The Archbishop says we “have tried to be a family of Churches willing to learn from each other across cultural divides, not assuming that European (or American or African) wisdom is what settles everything,  opening up the lives of Christians here to the realities of Christian experience everywhere”. He then goes on to suggest that the genuine concerns expressed about orthodoxy and the need to contend for the faith once entrusted to the saints, have made the debate harder, and “reinforced the lines of division and led to enormous amounts of energy going into ‘political’  struggle (!) with and between churches in different parts of the world.” The idea that these genuine concerns have degenerated to the “politicization of a theological dispute” instead of “reasoned debate” is very sadly patronizing.  One would have expected that those who had embarked on this religious misadventure would be encouraged to judge their actions against our well-established historic tradition.

A cancerous lump in the body should be excised if it has defied every known cure. To attempt to condition the whole body to accommodate it will lead to the avoidable death of the patient.

We encourage the Archbishop of Canterbury to persuade those who have chosen to “walk apart” to return to the path chosen by successive generations of our forbears. We continue to hold our Communion before God in earnest prayer.

8 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Lightfoot Says:

    Thank God for the Nigerian bishops.  They see clearly the unbiblical concept of a two-tiered Anglicanism as proposed by Rowan Williams.  Also, Williams’ idea of an Anglican Covenant begs the question:  Who will write it - a coalition of orthodox and liberals?  Such a coalition statement would likely produce another dead concept like the Panel of Reference (headed by an ultra-liberal appointed by Williams).

  2. Marlin Says:

    If you’ve followed what happened at GC2006 Lightfoot you will be aware TEC has abandoned scripture.

    First they passed a resolution that declaired the New Testament to contain passages that were anti-semetic. IE: “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me”

    Next the dismissed the resolution to reafirm that Jesus is the son of God and only by his name are we saved.

    This being followed by Shori’s election. The next morning she, in her eucharist sermon said “Our Mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation-and you and I are his children.”. Thus giving voice to herasy.

    See:

    http://www.virtueonline.org
    http://www.americananglican.ord : For the full sermon.

    May God and the true Christans in the Anglican Communion save we orthodox from the herasy of the TEC.

  3. Lightfoot Says:

    Marlin:  Yes, what happened at GC2006 was a tragedy but no surprise (other than the depth and intensity of the continuing heresy of TEC). My concern is Rowan Williams’ proposal will be given too much credibility by the orthodox believers.  It seems to suggest that those who accept the authority of Scripture can be “constituent” members of the Anglican Communion, but those who reject Scripture can still be “associates”.

  4. Marlin Says:

    I couldn’t agree more. The TEC can’t recieve any recognition at all.

    I wating to see what the responce to the LEAC petition will be. If that has enough backing we could possibly reverse the dammage. It will take a lot of work to recover though.

    I would like to see a decision that will recognize and support the orthodox faithful that are trapped in a heretical body.

  5. Duz N. Otmatter Says:

    There will persist this two-sided discussion, each seeking to exonerate their side while demonizing the other. The focus of the discussion and its clear rancor is: I am right, they are not! Neither of you are RIGHT. This is why I left the Anglican/Episcopalian Church. God called me out, saying, “get out of her My People, lest you share in her plagues.” This tempest will lead to schism—it has to. When it passes by, and all are restructured, the conservatives will have said this: “thank you God that I am not like that sinner.” The liberals will see themselves as martyrs of God. Here is the real deal: The Holy Sorcerer magic show is demonic and the church is now judged! Get out of her—run for your soul!

  6. Fr. Greg Says:

    Well, Duz (#5), I HOPE you went to Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, or one of the Continuing Churches;  however, given your comment about “The Holy Sorcerer Magic Show,” I am not optimistic.

    “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Adam and drink his blood, you shall not have life within you.”  Jesus, the Son of Adam, in the Gospel according to St. John

  7. Marlin Says:

    Fr. Greg

    Is this the verse you are refering to? “The Son of Adam” confused me. Is it that “Adam” in Hebrew can be translated as “man”?

    John 6:53
    Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

  8. Fr. Greg Says:

    Marlin (#7):

    Exactly.  This rendering emphasizes the fact that by using this title, Christ is identifying Himself with the messianic “Son of Man” or “Son of Adam” of Daniel, a man who is more than a man.  It also exposes the link between Christ’s use of this title and Christ as the “last” or “eschatological” Adam in St. Paul, He who, by His obedience, even unto death, accepts the consequences of the first Adam’s disobedience, thereby undoing it and refounding the human race.