Western Anglicanism meets Africa
Ran into a friend who is a life long Episcopalian and we were chewing the cud about matters ecclesiastical and he said to me “I just cannot understand the African Anglicans! Other than Tutu I am at a loss to comprehend where they are coming from and why American conservatives look to them as the salvation of Anglicanism!”! I could not help but grin and remind him that for many African Anglicans being Christian may very well cost you your life and or that of your family! He was somewhat taken aback and asked for an explanation. So this what I said essentially.
When Rowan Williams was the A of C he simply could not speak their language and I am not referring to Swahili here. Rowan, who would have been a far better diplomat than a cleric I think, would approach these African prelates and people with a typical Western intellectual and philosophical argument on understanding the developing milieu of social change and behavioural understanding which is Very typical of the leadership of the C of E and the American Episcopal Church. “So, what is wrong with that” says my friend?
The problem is ,I answered, when you are talking to people who have possibly lost a father or mother or a brother or sister of a dear friend or colleague by brutal and inhumane savagery because they declared their faith in Christ not because of their understanding of the developing milieu of social change you are not speaking the same language and in particular the same faith language. These people sometimes actually witnessed a loved one being put to death for following a Person not a school of theology!
Add to this I said the idea that in the West the former colonial centre people are being told that this Person is just like everyone else and did not die for you and they find you at the very least confused and at the very worst deluded!
As one African bishop recently told Archbishop Welby at a luncheon in Nairobi ” My lord the days when the colonial office ruled the African Church and we could meet on the commons for cocktails and agree to disagree and “just be friends” are over!”
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