17.11.08

Reflections on the reflections by Christians at NEAC 5

Bishop Keith Sinclair reflects on his GAFCON and LAMBETH experiences and talks about his concerns over:
what happens to the formation of a church over several decades, by a reading of scripture which is shaped by an idealogical template which is not itself subject to scripture. It imprisons you in your culture; and that is true whether the defining issue is sexuality, or class, or tribe or caste.

Bishop Sinclair does make me realise the global significance of the things that we do and if God's kingdom is indeed just that, a gathering of people under one king into a family, then, yes, we are, of course, affected by the behaviour of our brothers and sisters. Bishop Sinclair goes on to describe how:

In his closing address A/C reminded us that “the global horizon of the Church matters because churches without this are always in danger of slowly surrendering to the culture around them and losing sight of their calling to challenge that culture”. And that is why the consecration of a bishop in one province whose lifestyle is lived in flat contradiction to the expressed mind of the Communion is serious. It affects mission all over the world. The ...Sudanese bishop leading his churches in village missions ...told us how he had been refused entry into Congo from Sudan to help refugees by border guards who on discovering he was an Anglican bishop told him he could not bring that “bad thing” into our country.

And so, it is not so much about how much, when one man preaches the word of God, we should be looking to the message and not the messenger. It is not about having to try to square this expression of sexuality with scripture, it is perhaps more about what the cost of all this is to the Geat Commission.

+ Sinclair goes on to pose this question:

Are we churches who truly welcome those who describe themselves as “gay”, or do we communicate a gospel that we do not believe is good news for them also.

If we are churches who truly welcome, why am I in conversation with people not referring to themselves for the most part as post-gay (Peter Ould) but referring to themselves more frequently as post-Christian? In some senses they mean post-Church, in that they are still prayerful individuals communing with God, but feel that they can no longer commune with the church that shuns them.

Pete Broadbent is very assertive and clear at NEAC, amongst others points, I found these interesting and thought-provoking:
That evangelical Anglicans need to maintain the greatest possible unity among themselves and with other orthodox members of the CofE
That GAFCON is asking the right questions – about what holds us together – but that the theological and ecclesial answers it provides are not adequate to secure acceptance on the part of all evangelical Anglicans – scripture, creeds, historic formularies.
Can we avoid the danger of polarising into pro and anti GAFCON lobbies?
Can we find a better way of defining what really matters in terms of theological and mission priorities?
Can we hold off from associating CEEC with one particular strand in the continuing Anglican Communion debate – I personally don’t want us to do anything that ties us in to one approach to these matters… which is what voting in favour of the Jerusalem declaration would do.

Chris Sugden reassures us with:
One of the miracles of GAFCON was that those from an evangelical heritage, charismatic and classical, and those from an orthodox anglo-catholic heritage were able to unite together in worship, fellowship and in affirming the Jerusalem Declaration and Statement. As Vaughan Roberts said recently, GAFCON was not Reform International. It was principled and comprehensive Anglicanism. No one had to deny their emphases. Discussions certainly need to continue between these heritages on the nature of ordination and its role in mission.

He goes on to explain some of the aims behind the Jerusalem Declaration.

Lots to think about here then.




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