The African Lion Roars in the Western Church

Chris Armstrong is associate professor of church history at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota and also managing editor of Christian History magazine.

His blog entitled Grateful to the Dead is dedicated to discuss especially matters relevant for the study of the history of the Christian Church. I follow from time to time Chris’ articles in Christianity Today and I find them always though provoking.

This time I want to attract you attention to his article whose title I have borrowed for this post. It deals with the recent history of Anglicanism in Africa and its impact on the Anglican Communion as a whole. Here is just a fragment:

Eleven summers ago, the lion of African Anglicanism roared. Five years later, it bared its claws.

The summer of 1998 saw the every-ten-years Lambeth Conference of the worldwide Anglican communion absorbed with issues of human sexuality. At its meetings, African Anglicans led a campaign against the liberalizing of the church’s teachings on homosexuality.

Joining in the African “roar” was Bishop John Rucyahana of Shyira, Rwanda, who issued this warning to the liberalizing contingent in Western Anglicanism: “We don’t like your First World way of speaking ambiguous words and not being straight on the issues.” Rucyahana and his colleagues were heard, and heeded: the conference passed a resolution (526 to 70, with 45 abstentions) that homosexual practice is “incompatible with Scripture.”

In the wake of Lambeth, liberals in American Anglicanism (the Episcopalian Church) resented this new voice of “African fundamentalism,” while a conservative like bishop Jack Iker of Ft. Worth, Texas could observe with some satisfaction: “No longer does the United States or England speak for the Anglican Communion but the church in Africa and Asia does.”

Read on, if you are interested. It is worth it.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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