Sunday, July 22, 2007

An end to "Nationalist" Anglicanism

BB NOTE: Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream (England) writes in the publication "Evangelicals Now" of the end of "nationalist" Anglicanism. From here. Geographical borders aren't what they once were and for an American denomination to retain 16th century English feudalistic structures to defend of its new nationalistic-cultural innovations is, at best, ironic. What are the boundaries now, when we can watch one book released to millions at the same time around the world? Through the internet, Harry Potter fans come together from all over the world to discuss the canon of the series. What brings us together is not our geographical center, but our love for the books. Anglicanism is the same - it is not our geographical center (no, not even in Canterbury) but our love for the books - the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer that brings us together as Anglicans. Now both books - the canon Anglican Christianity - fall in their reinterpretion to fit the spirit of the age, even as those who prop up the institutions wail at the fall of geographical borders. It's not what you believe that matters (for that is subjective) - it's who. There are lots and lots of Harry Potter fan fiction writers - and some of them develop quite a following. The fan fiction is written as another way to defend theories in the books (rather than just expository writing). But ultimately, the fiction is judged against the canon. Now that the canon is complete, those fiction writings will be judged against the canon. The fan fiction will never become canon - they may be entertaining - but they are not true. That is the power of the word. But we turn our attention to the power of Logos - to The Word made flesh. Our Word is not something, but someone, who is alive in the pages of scripture and written on our hearts. And geographical borders fall when our bond is forged in Jesus. Here are excerpts from Chris Sugden's article:

While the captain and officers on the bridge of the good ship The Anglican Communion work out how to avoid the rocks for which it is heading, and others recommend improvements to improve its superstructure, below decks some American passengers are being persecuted for holding, promoting and sharing the faith which the Communion has held dear. This outrage, in defiance of the clear requests of the Primates in Tanzania in February, should be continually before us as we read the news of proposals, covenants and new bishops being consecrated for America.

Meanwhile orthodox parishes in the United States are being sued by the central bureaucracy of The Episcopal Church for property which the local church has invested in for generations but which the central bureaucracy now claims as it own. People may leave The Episcopal Church, but buildings or property may not. In some cases churches are being sued for the crayons from the Sunday School. In other cases a pastor moving to a parish cannot get a mortgage to buy a house because he is named in a lawsuit and the mortgage company fear that all his assets might be seized including “their” house. One Diocese is spending £20,000 to £25,000 a month just to defend itself from lawsuits emanating from the central bureaucracy of The Episcopal Church.

And here:

But it is no longer possible to subject all state institutions in one geographical area to one jurisdiction. International companies, the internet, international networks such as the European Union are an expression of the globalisation that has rendered boundaries that were set by how far people could conveniently travel obsolete.

Geography is no longer the sole consideration when thinking about the space that we occupy. We live in global and universal space which is occupied by networks of people with values and commitments. In the church, we are now experiencing the church as envisaged in Acts 15, where Gentile and Jew ( different races and classes) are engaged closely together.

And here:

In the view of a senior Anglican bishop, globalization is an effective judgment of God on the idolatry of the nationalism of the Anglican community. In Anglican expressions of the faith, the universal of the commonality of the faith ( the gospel) informed the particular cultural expression of the faith. But culture now trumps the gospel in The Episcopal Church, as does geography when it claims that its polity (way of ordering the church) is sacrosanct. The Archbishop of the West Indies recently declared that there now could be no assurance that TEC provided continuity with the faith once delivered to the saints.

And here:

Without the universal of the gospel to which we are all accountable, we are led into cultural conflict. So there has been a demonisation of African Christian leaders, especially from Nigeria.

At the same time orthodox Western Christians are now being exposed to the gifts, ministries, and oversight of Bishops from other parts of the world in ways never dreamt of ten years ago. This is because they desperately need them.

Orthodox Anglicans are also forming global networks with those who share the universal biblical gospel. Different networks are now sharing the same geographical space. The Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, and the Anglican Communion Network all operate in the United States and are working ever more closely together, in some cases as parts of Churches in Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda. The identity or communion of these networks, focused on the universal of the gospel, does not depend on being in one geographical location. Their link with each other is not primarily because of geography.

Read the who thing here.

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