Thursday, March 20, 2008

Weekly message from Bishop David Anderson, American Anglican Council

Via email [boldface mine]:

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Old News Revisited:
With the remarks of the Archbishop of Canterbury on Sharia Law continuing to reverberate, one has to wonder what he was thinking when he made them. Could he be so inept in affairs of church and state and the reality on the street that he actually believes that allowing Sharia Law is desirable or inevitable? On the other hand, if he believes it is undesirable but inevitable, just what is he willing to do about it?

The Archbishop does not yet seem to understand that when he rambles on about explosive topics, he is no longer in a University lecture hall where you can "tease" ideas and push students to think. His remarks have not only caused unneeded uproar in the public sector in England, but have been picked up by Muslim leaders in critical areas of the world, who believe (rightly or wrongly) that he is serious. Trevor Grundy, in an article for Episcopal News Service, reports praise for Rowan Williams from a Nigerian Islamic leader. Grundy writes, "Speaking at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London on March 6, the leader of the multi-million strong Qadiriyyah wing of the Islamic faith, Nigerian Sheikh Qaribullahi Nasiru Kabara, told academics and diplomats that he felt "very good" when he heard what Williams had to say at a February lecture."

Does the Archbishop of Canterbury understand how his words will make life more difficult for Christians, indeed Anglicans of his own global communion, as they live in the shadow of Sharia? How can a man who sees himself as brilliant say and do such damaging things? Or, as a brilliant man, does he know exactly what he is doing and is he quite pleased with the results? Many of us are still quite simply at a loss to explain his words on this and many occasions.

In other areas Dr. Williams is clearer in his intent, and although we don't agree with it, it is at least not foggy. Lambeth Palace has been uncertain as to what to do about the probable boycott of Lambeth Conference 2008, or the organization of the Global Anglican Future Pilgrimage and Conference (GAFCON) scheduled for Jordan and Jerusalem in June. Recent indications are that he might wish to send greetings and request a report from GAFCON to be brought to Lambeth. Is this a kinder and gentler Dr. Williams, wishing to rebuild bridges with a majority of his Anglican Communion? Most likely not. He would like to characterize GAFCON as a pre-Lambeth meeting, and since the lesser reports to the greater, the report of the lesser is subject to dismissal by the greater. In fact, GAFCON is not connected to Lambeth in any way except that some who would be eligible to attend Lambeth are INSTEAD attending GAFCON, and some GAFCON attendees are otherwise eligible but uninvited and unwanted at Lambeth - such as bishops from the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) and the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) and three bishops consecrated in Kenya and Uganda for North American missionary duty.

Since I am one of the ones who might have been invited to Lambeth as a Nigerian bishop but am not desired because I serve CANA in the United States, I have had some time to reflect on this situation from a personal standpoint. If those of us who are orthodox Anglican bishops had all been invited, and had we gone with our brother bishops from our respective overseas Provinces, how would we have entered into Eucharistic fellowship and communion with the bishops from the American Episcopal Church (TEC) who are currently teaching false doctrine, permitting and even celebrating immoral behavior, deposing clergy including bishops who disagree with them, and going to secular courts of law to bring suit against our clergy and laity? It is not a small thing that a simple "sorry" could wipe away. To be in Eucharistic fellowship with them would require a profound change of mind and heart on their part, a return to historic orthodox Christian teaching and practice, and a cessation of litigation and depositions. Could this happen? With God all things are possible, yet it may also be that, as written in Chapter 1 of the Letter to the Romans, God is giving them up to their own sins and iniquities.

Current Events:
A news story in "The Living Church" reports that The Episcopal Church in America, which either has great wealth or is short of money, depending on what the issue and request might be, is terminating stipends and travel reimbursements to overseas missionaries. Although the article is not crystal clear about how deeply the cuts go, and how many missionaries the cuts will hurt, the article gives as stated reasons the rising costs of the benefit packages. This story, coming out of the Quito, Ecuador meeting of the Executive Council of TEC seems to contradict the huge allocation of $500,000 of income from Trust Funds for suing and pursuing orthodox bishops such as John-David Schofield of San Joaquin diocese, Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, and Jack Iker of Fort Worth. Additionally Bishop Pierre Whalon just returned from Africa where with TEC money he bought Land Rovers and handed the keys to several bishops. While this latter case would seem far more noble than the former case, it is understood that keys to Land Rovers don't come without strings attached. One might say, "Well, the Israelites took Egypt's gold with them, why not take some of TEC's gold, too?" The problem is that the Israelites took the gold, then soon afterwards made a golden calf out of it. It may be hard to take TEC's gifts and not have it lead one astray.

In any event, both examples raise this question: if there is money for these two purposes (suing Christian bishops and buying Land Rovers), why is there not money for missionaries to be fully funded? Or to cite a remark I made in a previous Update, why are TEC seminaries closing or restructuring for lack of money? It should make people wonder.

The TEC House of Bishops, meeting at Camp Allen in Texas, attempted to depose former TEC bishops John-David Schofield and William J. Cox. Bishop Cox is in his 80s, and his courage and conviction in the face of threats terrible remind one of Polycarp and his reply to his tormentors. If they both transferred out of TEC, and are enrolled in good standing in another Anglican province, how can TEC depose them and deprive them of their Holy Orders in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? If someone who has worked for General Motors quits and moves over to Ford, and tells General Motors of the action, can you imagine General Motors screaming at them, "No, No, you can't quit, you're FIRED!" Sorry, TEC, you got there too late. A factor complicating the HOB's rush to execution is covered by George Conger and Steve Waring in the "Living Church": the meeting in Camp Allen lacked sufficient numbers to meet canonical requirement for a lawful deposition. It is being reported that "Slightly more than one-third of all bishops eligible voted to depose bishops John-David Schofield and William J. Cox during the House of Bishops' spring retreat, far fewer than the 51 percent required by the canons." What now? I promise you TEC will find a way; their anger and hatred will not be denied. All this is brought to you by the inclusive, tolerant, and "listening" TEC.

TEC is also moving rapidly to depose additional bishops before they can leave. Practicing their best Donald Trump voice, they are preparing to say to Bishops Duncan, Iker and retired Bishop McBurney, "YOU'RE FIRED" or more accurately, "YOU'RE DEPOSED," before they can leave TEC. The word out on the street is that Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori is most anxious to depose Duncan, and since her first attempt was thwarted weeks ago, she is now planning to send a "mail in ballot" to the House of Bishops later this spring to hurry the process along. It seems she doesn't like the Bishop of Pittsburgh, which speaks well of my friend Bishop Duncan.

With the action taken against Schofield and Cox one wonders why the often called "Windsor Bishops" have remained silent, and why they have not accounted for how they voted, and spoken clearly of the wrongness of this action. We would earnestly urge them to issue a Minority Report, and set forth why from both Christian as well as Windsor standards this action was absolutely wrong. This is a time to hear from you.

It is puzzling why Michael Poon of Singapore has made such a vitriolic attack on the Global Anglican Future Conference and Primate Peter J. Akinola. Poon's recent writings seem to have taken leave of all sense. Could he not use some of this excess anger against those revisionists who are removing the theological and spiritual content from Anglicanism? If he is speaking for himself and not on behalf of his Province, we would urge saner and more reasoned minds to remind him of how his words reflect on his province. The Singapore that we know is the exact opposite of Michael Poon's writings, and is instead loving, reasoned and orthodox.

This is Holy Week. I pray that the writers of vitriol and the perpetrators of outrageous actions would pause and reflect with us on what Jesus has done for us, and what the implications of the Atonement and shed blood of Jesus are. May this Easter celebration remind us that our bondage to sin and Satan was broken by a life given in our place, the life of the Son of God himself, Jesus the Messiah.

Blessings and Peace in our risen Lord,

The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.
President and CEO, American Anglican Council

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