Saturday, 17 November 2012

Into Africa

 There is some interesting comment in this article  on the challenges posed by the African Church and the advantages Justin Welby  may have in dealing with them. It notes that the incoming archbishop has worked as a crisis negotiator in Africa, working with separatists in the Niger Delta and negotiating with Islamists in northern Nigeria, all experience which will be helpful. The article also claims that under Rowan Williams there has been very little real dialogue with Africa on this issue. It is hardly surprising that Williams might shrink from this - compare the hard line statements from Okoh with William's gentle tolerance - but I think this is a nettle that has to be grasped if Anglicanism is to reach a place where it is less dysfunctional.

Anybody who thinks this is not an immense challenge with the potential to cause greater rifts would be foolish though.This piece covers the anti-gay rights bill due to be introduced in Nigeria apparently before Christmas.

1 comment:

  1. When I first made ‘liberal’ noises to several of my conservative friends, one in particular told me to take a look at Africa and its example of Biblical orthodoxy. This was circa 1987 when we were young men in Evangelical lay-ministry. It happened, ten or so years later, that this same friend – the one reusing the ‘noble savage’ discourse in a modern and Christianised form – got a job (with his wife) working at a CMS Bible college in sub-Saharan Africa. On his return he had lost his belief in the ‘purer’ form of orthodox Christianity found in sub-Saharan Africa. He agreed with my experience of African Christianity in London; that there is a disproportionate attention given to the 11th Commandment (‘Thou Shalt Not Get Found Out) in that although there was a heavy bias against willy-woofters, marital infidelity, financial impropriety and an almost pathological ability to lie, seem disproportionately present within many of these communities. I was rather pleased to receive the following reply to a similar comment to this on Revd John Richardson’s blog:

    “I used to be on the staff on an east London church with a very large African population. Theological conservatism was commonplace (and nothing wrong with that - the Creeds are pretty conservative) but in so many ways (and not just in sexual morality) this did not permeate to life practices.” (see:

    I think it is time to stop the woolly white liberalism that dare not question some other aspects of African Christianity that fall far short of orthodoxy. There are several British, American and Australian Anglican blogs that happily embrace African Christianity without question just because many African bishops have become useful allies in their battles – yet these same Western Anglicans turn a blind eye to much within African Christianity that falls short of the very orthodoxy they claim to stand for. It is time to challenge African Christianity where it falls short – as many within it seem to have no problem challenging anything to do with homosexuality (but as I often say, this is a cheap form of righteousness – and where it is used it is obvious something else is going on...).

    ‘Physician, heal thyself’, is my retort to much of the homophobic vitriol that comes forth from some of our African brethren. Thank God for ++Tutu is all I can say – at least he speaks some sense!