BUNKUM AND THE 2008 LAMBETH CONFERENCE OF ANGLICAN BISHOPS!
By The Ven. Professor M. Joe Omeokwe
In its etymology, the word 'bunkum' finds its root in a one time controversy surrounding the congressman from Buncombe county in North Carolina of the USA. This controversy arose from a remark made by this congressman, who defended an irrelevant speech he made by claiming that he was speaking to Buncombe. As a result, any nonsensical, insincere or foolish talk has come to be known as bunkum.
It is less arguable that the whole notion in the current controversy surrounding this week's Lambeth Conference will be seen not simply as an in-house fighting within the Anglican Communion but as bunkum. The irrelevance of whatever may be the outcome of this once revered deliberation is the final nail in the coffin of Christendom. It is not merely an ongoing debate over homosexuality. But rather it is such bunkum that shows to the whole world the marked divergence between secular and biblical worldviews that cannot easily be reconciled.
The irony of this bunkum is that a country whose cultural contours have been shaped by church history now only desires to nod to that heritage.
But even at that, it is a deeper irony that the Anglican or rather the Christian tradition is tolerated, but not celebrated. Remember the tale of the great uncle at family parties, whose words used to be full of wit and authority but now seem antiquated and belligerent; although his presence is still required, he is often a source of embarrassment. This is where we are with the current Lambeth Conference and being drowned in the ocean of bunkum.
Furthermore, the insincerity or the mere lack of integrity in this Lambeth Conference if it cannot be qualified as bunkum cannot be merely reduced to just the intransigence of so-called traditionalists over the issue of homosexuality.
Bear in mind that these so-called traditionalists are regarded as ignorant and uncivilized by so-called liberals within the Anglican church especially those of USA Episcopal Church and secularists outside it. Making the matter worse, is the fact that the delineation between toleration and celebration is by no means clear-cut. Last week gave us a glaring example of the mess challenging the Anglican Church in England. A Christian registrar confronted this issue head-on when she refused to conduct civil partnership ceremonies for gay couples.
While the Bishops gathered at The Lambeth Conference continue to question whether the facts of her action constituted intolerance of homosexuality, in line with her civic duty, or active refusal of the celebration of same-sex unions, the fact remains that those who know the truth are set free.
In short, there are no easy answers to this dilemma, nor to a number of others facing churches of all denominations as they seek to work out what it means to live in the contemporary world without being of that world. There will be disagreements between people who would in all sincerely claim to be people of faith. The fact of disagreeing isn't a problem - have a read of Galatians 2:11-21 - but the manner in which we disagree might be.
Jesus stated plainly that it was by the love his followers displayed to one another that people would know they were his disciples (John 13:34-35). History has proved him right. Tertullian, one of the early Church Fathers, reported that pagans often remarked of the Christian community, 'see how they love one another.' That's not to say, of course, that they never disagreed with each other! Nevertheless, the way they conducted themselves - presumably both in agreement and in disagreement - was characterized by love.
How wonderful it would be if the so-called progressives in the Anglican Church would understand that love means that you ought not to allow that meat you eat to be an offense to a brother or sister. How pleasant it would have been if these folks understand that the matter of one's sexuality is a private matter transcending any theological question. What says the Bible if only they can believe that the Bible is the very Word of God. Arguable? This is the issue.
In sum, bunkum is ignoring the fact that love is still the primary characterization of the church in the eyes of those outside it. Bunkum is to ignore the fact that Christians ought to have the ears, and hearts, and minds of the world around them. Bunkum is to forget the truth that Christ commands us to love one another which literally means that we have to agree to disagree in love.
Bunkum is the reality we face when the so-called liberals or progressives (with all their wealth) fail to consider the faith of the traditionalist and cease rocking the boat of Anglicanism. It is not too late to end this bunkum and seek reconciliation through repentance and reconnection with the historic Anglicanism and genuine faith in the very Word of God.
---The Venerable Professor M. Joe Omeokwe is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics - The City University of New York in New York City and currently the Senior Pastor of the Church in the Vineyard (CANA) in the Bronx, New York City. He makes his home in New York City.
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