JERUSALEM: Homosexual Activists Drive Rochester Bishop from His Home
Nazir-Ali Bows out of Lambeth
By David W. Virtue in Jerusalem
The outspoken evangelical Bishop of Rochester said activist British homosexuals threatened his life, forcing him to temporarily leave his home recently under tight Police security. "There was a demonstration outside my home and the Police advised me to leave. My family and I moved to a nearby hospital.
"It is a matter of public record that I have also received death threats from militant Muslims," the Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali told a press conference last night. Nazir-Ali is also under tight security here in Jerusalem with his own personal minder at the Renaissance Hotel.
The Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Peter Akinola, also has tight personal security as there have reportedly been threats on his life.
Nazir-Ali said he would not attend Lambeth because he cannot be in Eucharistic fellowship with and teach the common faith alongside New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, because his lifestyle is contrary to the unanimous teaching of the Bible and the church through the Ages.
"We all need to repent of what we have done wrong. I am willing to repent of anything I may have done that is wrong, but my views have not changed on this matter." He said that if the impediment were removed, he would gladly attend." Nazir- Ali said he was in agreement with the Windsor Report that those who have gone against church teaching should not attend Anglican gatherings.
Addressing 1200 pilgrims, which included 300 Anglican bishops from 38 countries, Nazir-Ali yesterday said the Anglican Church cannot have "private deals" where truth is sacrificed for a faux unity, a direct slap at the Episcopal Church's innovations which have been the biggest single cause of the Communion's divide and rift over theology and morals.
Anglican unity must not be sacrificed for a false peace, he told the gathering here at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) that "You are the beginnings of a miraculous ecclesial movement for the sake of the gospel and the renewal of Christ's Church," he told a clearly sympathetic audience.
The bishop received thunderous applause. "GAFCON is not being prevented because it is part of God's purposes for our church. "We are faced with a changing situation in the world. In Africa people want to be church in context of their own tribes. We are now seeing a new affinity between the Networks and virtual churches in the north which are spreading to the south."
The bishop said the existing four instruments of unity are not enough. "They are based on good manners, but we need to find another way. For the church to be an effective unit, it must find a way of being church. This is not the only way.
"The nature and future of the Anglican Communion is to be found in its authentic nature and not the recently invented innovations and explanations, but what actually belongs to the church as we have known it." That nature, he said, must be submitted to the authority of scripture, be confessing, and governed by councils with the ability and authority to lead the church and teach the Christian faith.
"No church can have any other basis of authority than scripture. The Bible is the norm by which we appreciate what is authentically apostolic. That is the reason for the Bible being the ultimate and final authority for us in our faith and our lives and this is the reason why Anglicans have taken our study of the Bible so seriously."
Authentic Anglicanism is both confessing and conciliar, said bishop Nazir-Ali. "From the very beginning, being Anglican has meant confessing the faith that Christians have held always, everywhere and by all. We have to be clear that we are a confessing church. Some people have the mistaken idea that Anglicans can believe anything, or that Anglicans can believe nothing. I don't know which one is more serious."
The Church, as a universal reality, suffered at the reformation, but survived in three main ways. "It appealed to Scripture as its final authority; it has survived because of its universal appeal to antiquity and it has survived in the hope of a general counsel."
The bishop, who has been a student of Islam for 30 years, said Christians have a right to witness to Muslims as Christians have the right to witness to all. "Just as Muslims have a right to invite others to join Islam (referred to as Da'wa), Christians have a right to invite others to Jesus," he said. He added that he supported Christians serving Muslims in such practical ways as in schools and hospitals.
Nazir-Ali said Church councils are necessary for authentic Anglicanism and they must have the authority to teach and to make decisions. "We need to be a conciliar church. In the last few years, I have been frustrated by decision after decision after decision that has not stuck. We cannot have this for a healthy church," said Nazir-Ali.
In the past, the Anglican Communion's instruments of unity have been enough to maintain the communion's identity. However, those days would seem to be over. "In the crisis that is facing us at this time, we have found them not to be enough, because, in the end, they were based on English good manners. In our world, we have found that English good manners are not enough."
The Bishop said Anglicanism must have an increased emphasis on mission to those who have not yet heard the Gospel. "Sadly, just as the need for Christian witness is greatest, there is a reluctance to speak about faith in Jesus, even among Christians. Let us pray we are able to recover the Christian nerve in the west and to make sure the gospel is not lost."
"We need to recover the Christian nerve in the West. It is our Judeo-Christian heritage. In every context, mission remains a constant. This Great Commission has to take place within movements of renewal. We must not over institutionalize the church. People are more in love with the structure of the church instead of the Lord himself."
Nazir-Ali encouraged GAFCON pilgrims saying, "If you are anything gathered here together, you are the beginnings, the miraculous beginnings, we may say, of an ecclesial movement for the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of Christ's church."
Three English bishops are not now attending Lambeth. They include not only Bishop Nazir- Ali, but also Wallace Benn, Diocese of Lewes and Peter Broadbent, area bishop of Willesden in the Diocese of London
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