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The Covenant, Canterbury and Persecution - Chris Sugden

The Covenant, Canterbury and Persecution

By Chris Sugden
http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/
April 25th, 2010

The Rev Mary Glasspool, who is living in a same-sex relationship, has received sufficient consents from other Bishops in The Episcopal Church for her to be consecrated as Suffragan Bishop in Los Angeles on May 15.

Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, the secretary of the Primates Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, gave a statesmanlike response: "It is now absolutely clear to all that the national Church itself has formally committed itself to a pattern of life which is contrary to Scripture. ... Some [responses] have been dramatic and decisive, such as the creation of the Anglican Church of North America, an ecclesiastical body recognized by the GAFCON Primates as genuinely Anglican.

The Counsels of Patience

For others, however, the counsels of patience have prevailed and they have sought a change of heart and waited patiently for it to occur.. To wait longer would not be patience - it would be obstinacy or even an unworthy anxiety. Two things need to be made clear. First, that they are unambiguously opposed to a development which sanctifies sin and which is an abrogation of the word of the living God. Second, that they will take sufficient action to distance themselves from those who have chosen to walk in the path of disobedience."

The UK website group Fulcrum have now recognized that TEC was dishonest from the beginning. But they are still blinded by the belief that Canterbury remains the key to the unity of the Communion and the integrity of orthodox faith in the Communion.

The real issue is not the Covenant, but the Archbishop of Canterbury. His track record in protecting and including TEC is obvious - namely reneging on the agreements at Dromantine (so that TEC was present at the ACC in Nottingham), inviting the consecrators of Gene Robinson to Lambeth ( in advance of the conclusion of the Dar-es-Salaam timetable), and undermining the debate at the ACC in Jamaica which would have mandated a covenant with sanctions.

Covenant is not the solution

The belief that an improved version of the covenant will be adequate to deal with the challenges of TEC is misplaced. Improving an instrument while handing it to the same person and expecting him to use it for the goals you have is being naïve. He has unfailingly demonstrated that he will use whatever instruments there are for his purposes. These include the continuing inclusion of TEC and a rejection of any sanctions of those who flout communion resolutions.

The time has come to recognize that the solution is not the covenant.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh in his installation sermon as Primate of Nigeria on March 25th in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria said that if the Communion Covenant is to carry the spread of the homosexual lifestyle throughout the Anglican Communion, it will fail. "The Bishop of Liverpool (in his recent presidential address urging that diverse views on homosexual behaviour should be allowed for like competing views on war) had spoken at the wrong time", Archbishop Okoh said. "The danger of his view is of establishing two authorities in the Church, one of the Bible and the other the canon of a deviant subculture. We refuse to accept it."

Curfew

Present at the installation was the Archbishop of Jos, Benjamin Kwashi. He had to return immediately to Jos before the curfew imposed after the recent massacres. He was most grateful for the publicity and concern around the world for the massacres, and hoped that the British Government would continue to press for proper investigation and punishment of the guilty. Archbishop Okoh in his sermon urged that those responsible for the slaughter in Jos should not be allowed to go free, otherwise society would descend to 'dog eat dog'.

A well informed Nigerian bishop told me that behind the massacres in Jos was a plan by Muslim groups in the North of Nigeria to take over the north of the country. Jos is a target as the centre of many Christian churches, groups and organizations. In northern Nigeria, the electorate is organized not on the basis of tribal boundaries, as in the south, but on the basis of religious communities. This means that if one religious community can intimidate and expel members of another group in an area, its representation will increase at the national level.

In his Easter sermon the Archbishop of Canterbury struck a welcome note in speaking of the seriousness of the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Nigeria and Iraq. But, calling for a sense of proportion to people who risk losing their job because of their public Christian witness in the UK by pointing out the sufferings of Christians elsewhere can be like telling those who live on benefit or the dole that 70 per cent of the population of Nigeria live on 2 dollars a day. Relative deprivation has long been recognised as a legitimate grievance.

----This story will appear in the May issue of Evangelicals Now

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