ALEXANDRIA 2009: Anglican Primates Miss the Proverbial Bus
By David W. Virtue in Alexandria
The Anglican Communion is in the business of saving souls, but you would never know it after a week on the shores of the Mediterranean where 35 Primates grappled with such cosmic issues as the crisis in the Sudan, the crisis in Zimbabwe, the crisis in Gaza, The Lord's Resistance Army, Global Warming (too many sheep defecating in NZ affecting the ozone layer), the global economic crisis and so forth.
The Primates were mercifully spared grand talk of Millennium Development Goals, largely, one suspects, because Mrs. Jefferts Schori's favorite charity got nixed by Executive Council who said the church doesn't have enough money in the kitty to pay for it. In fact, Jefferts Schori never touched on her favorite topic, too embarrassed by the fact that the $1 million she had budgeted for MDGs has been dumped and trumped by the $5 million the church will spend on lawsuits this year.
The one thing the Primates didn't discuss was the Great Commission, that very specific demand (it is not a request or option) to go into all the world and preach the gospel making disciples of all nations. That was not on the agenda.
In point of fact, it was there in an unspoken form.
The orthodox Anglican Primates, who are a slim majority of the archbishops, are making their provinces grow by leaps and bounds -- read by the millions -- by presenting the gospel in a clear unvarnished, undiluted way. New dioceses are being spawned in Rwanda, Nigeria and Uganda every few months, sometimes in war torn areas. By contrast, Western pansexual dioceses are "juncturing" -- read merging -- as they contract, largely due to aging congregations, many of which are running out of money because bishops have no discernible gospel to proclaim other than a variation of salvation by the zeitgeist.
Talk of sin in all its forms might be unpopular and repentance might be difficult, but it is THE primary message of the church.
On my way here, and while waiting for the Primates to deliver themselves of the gravitas of the world's pain, I was privileged to read "Emmanuel Kolini, The Unlikely Archbishop of Rwanda" which details the horrific slaughter of Tutsis and Hutus - both Christian groups, incidentally -- and the human cost and carnage left in their wake. The international community stood by and let it happen. Years later, a morally conflicted President Bill Clinton admitted it was one of the black spots on his presidency. While the world was enraptured by a semen stain on a woman's dress, Rwandans went on a rampage and killed each other to the score of one million.
Into this cauldron of hatred stepped a quiet softly spoken African leader - Emmanuel Kolini. "The church in all denominations was left in disarray, riddled with guilt because of complicity, and bereft of leaders who had been massacred, had fled, or were imprisoned," he wrote.
God put his broken church on the hearts of men and women like Kolini (and his wife Freda) causing them to pray that someone would help.
That call was heard and heeded by Kolini himself. "The Lord would rebuild his church in Rwanda under new leadership, because according to Mt. 16:18, not even the gates of Hades would be able to overcome it," he said.
Whole families were massacred by their formerly peaceful neighbors, while families turned on each other. The carnage, he writes, was unbelievable.
Kolini did not appeal to the world for help. He saw, in the starkest possible terms that the crisis in Rwanda was a spiritual crisis. People had not been taught the Bible. Their faith was not deep enough. When the prevailing political party exploited ethnic fears, violence erupted and people died. The church and many of its leaders were killed or fled.
"What is my obligation as an individual, and what should we do as a group, for the recovery of our country?" wrote Kolini. "The country and the church needed people to be motivated to start working at once toward reconciliation. There was room for outside agencies to help, but the church could not sit back and rely on this."
Thus began the slow restoration of his people. It began first with repentance, the rest followed.
Repentance was what was missing in Alexandria this week.
As Archbishop Greg Venables made clear in a private interview, archbishops here have two views of repentance. One was clearly biblical and faithful, recognizing our sinfulness by act and by nature. The other side saw repentance for not including non-celibate homosexuals to the church's ranks. One confessed a gospel of obedience and faith; the other made it a gospel of inclusion.
The two are irreconcilable which became clear this past week, clearer than it has ever been.
Now that the Anglican Communions' leaders have full and total clarity, there is no reason to keep fudging a faux unity. That day is over.
We can now go forward with the church's true mission, said Venables. "There is nothing to stop or hinder us."
The other side has a different gospel, which as St. Paul said, is no gospel at all.
To all intents and purposes, the Anglican Communion is finished. Like a badly married couple living under the same roof, but in separate bedrooms, separate kitchens and with separate bank accounts, the Anglican Communion will continue with its constituent parts in place, but one segment will grow and prosper, products of the true vine. The other will wither and die.
All talk of Windsor Reports, Windsor Continuation Groups, talk of mediation and a Covenant are just efforts to stave off the inevitable. For an archbishop like Rowan Williams, they are the stuff of committees and reports designed to keep the Anglican Consultative Council in business and to keep everyone endlessly at the table.
In the end, it won't work. The Anglican Communion is irretrievably broken. It cannot be repaired. There are two religions in play. The GAFCON Primates of the Global South have seen the light and they won't play in the darkness, any more. Some will not bother attending another Primates meeting I was told. In time, the CAPA bishops will announce their intentions.
The Global South will not be put off any more by Western money, pansexual behavior, or the failure to recognize Scripture as authoritative for faith and life.
It is over for the Anglican Communion. Those who are gospel believing Anglican leaders will now get back on the bus of gospel truth and head out preaching the Good News of the Kingdom, even if they decide to stay under the Anglican umbrella.
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