Monday, October 18

The report was released today. Unfortunately this Anglican observer was in Covenant meetings all day today (Unfortunate only in the sense that I haven't had time to really analyze the report. Our meetings were fruitful and I'm glad that I am in the church jurisdiction where I am. But it is important that the rest of us learn from the Episcopal fiasco or we'll end up repeating their mistakes.). But from everything I've seen so far the glass looks more like it is half-empty than half-full (or maybe even almost completely empty!).

I received Uwe Siemon-Netto's (conservative Lutheran who is the UPI religion editor) analysis of the report off David Virtue's email list. Unfortunately the release of the report has created so much traffic that it has crashed Virtue's website; so I can't link to it -- and I can't find Dr Siemon-Netto's piece anywhere else on the web. So here it is:


By Uwe Siemon-Netto
UPI Religious Affairs Editor

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- The Anglican Communion's Lambeth Commission tried to avoid a split Monday by asking its American branch to do something highly fashionable these days -- apologize.

As if they had just spilled some sherry on their hostess' new carpet, 50 prelates of the Episcopal Church USA, known as ECUSA, were to "apologize" for having consecrated Canon Vicki Gene Robinson, an active homosexual, as bishop of New Hampshire.

That's what the Lambeth Commission, set up a year ago to prevent a schism, demanded of the Episcopalians. Primates from the southern hemisphere, where the majority of the world's 70 million Anglicans live, insisted on infinitely more, namely good, old-fashioned Christian repentance.

But Frank Griswold, ECUSA's presiding president, gave his fellow Anglicans even less. He expressed "regret," "We regret how difficult and painful actions of our church have been in many provinces of our communion."

The "Windsor Report" of the Lambeth Commission chaired by archbishop Robin Eames, primate of Ireland, was gentle enough on North Americans with whom several of their African coreligionist have declared themselves in "impaired communion" since the Robinson ordination.

The 80-page report that was released Monday called for a moratorium on elevating more active homosexuals to the episcopacy, and on the blessing of same-sex unions. Commented The Christian Challenge, an orthodox Anglican publication, "Windsor Report underwhelms."

Curiously, the report criticizes not only the Episcopal Church and the New Westminster (Vancouver) diocese in Canada, which has instituted liturgies for homosexual quasi-weddings. It also chastises conservative prelates from other continents for crossing borders to provide Episcopal oversight to like-minded Episcopalians.

There are now Californian parishes overseen by the primate of Uganda. Nigerian primate Peter Akinola -- whose province numbering 18 million is the largest in world Anglicanism -- came to the United States two weeks ago to set up a de facto jurisdiction for African Anglicans dissatisfied with ECUSA's unorthodox theology.

And even Lord (George) Carey, former archbishop of Canterbury, recently confirmed youngsters in Virginia because their parents did not want the local liberal bishop to perform this rite.

It is common to hear Anglican theologians from overseas opine in hushed tones the current state of the ever-shrinking Episcopal Church reminded them of a contemporary rendering of pages from the Book of Revelation, the last in the Bible.

News items surprise them. The Christian Challenge showed the "wedding photograph" of two elderly gentlemen wearing laurels around their balding heads; one of the two was a retired Episcopal bishop.

Virtuosity, a critical Anglican Web publication, carried the tale of Carolyn Tanner Irish, bishop of Salt Lake City. She is a former Mormon who has never been baptized as a Christian; no other denomination recognizes Mormon baptisms.

Bishop Irish announced beforehand she would not go along with the Windsor Report should it ask ECUSA to mend its ways.

There have been reports of an Episcopal clergy conference celebrating the Eucharist without any reference to Christ. And there have been Episcopal cathedral services where the names of African and Egyptian deities were invoked.

ECUSA is shrinking rapidly. It lost almost half its membership since the 1960s and numbers less than 2.3 million now; more than 30,000 left last year.

Not surprisingly, too, primates from other Anglican jurisdictions, first and foremost Nigeria's Akinola, are incensed. "You are literally killing us," he chided U.S. Episcopalians, meaning that their comportment seemed to confirm the prejudice of radical Muslims that Christianity was so rotten that it only merited eradication.

At the end of this month, Akinola will assemble orthodox Anglicans from the southern hemisphere in Abuja, his see. Observers expect this conference to confirm the split in the Communion.

It has become fashionable among "progressive" Anglicans and other Protestants in North America and Western Europe to belittle the allegedly "primitive" theology of African and Asian bishops, thus following an example set years ago by John Spong, the former Episcopal bishop of Newark, N.J.

In a recent conversation with this writer a former dean of Canterbury Cathedral in England labeled the likes of Akinola fundamentalists. In reality, though, the southern hemisphere has produced superb theologians in recent decades -- not just Anglicans, but also Lutherans, Presbyterians and Roman Catholics. In Anglicanism, proportionately more African than American bishops hold earned doctorates from leading European and U.S. universities.

The charge of fundamentalism is used against Christians who are faithful to a traditional interpretation of the Scripture, an approach also favored in the Windsor Report.

While African and other conservative church leaders will probably be angered by the report's irresolute tone, they can also take comfort from the fact that the Lambeth Commission mustered the grit to chastise the surrender by many North American Anglicans "to the spirit of age rather than an authentic development of the gospel."

As the saying goes, if you bed with the Zeitgeist, you'll soon be a widower -- good news for Christians in the southern hemisphere, not so good for the modernists in the global North.
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