April 19, 2007

Jingo Jangle

Ted Olsen has an excellent piece in Christianity Today. It is entitled "Jingo Jangle." Here are a few highlights:
When conservative Southern Baptist leaders recommended in late 2003 that the convention pull out of the Baptist World Alliance, they cited, among other concerns, "a decided anti-American tone [that] has emerged in recent years."

Recently, after the leaders of the Anglican Communion told the Episcopal Church it was violating both Scripture and Anglican doctrine, liberals in that denomination screamed a red-white-and-blue streak.

... While their views of international diplomacy differ strongly, these organizations share a common desire to be globally minded. Unfortunately, they can be tribal and insular when critiquing each other.

... Being people of the kingdom of God is not a what if question about choosing sides some day. It's something we do every day. And when we denigrate the image of God by bearing false witness or making ad hominem attacks--or by saying to other members of Christ's body, "I have no need of you"--we renounce and deny our true citizenship. We side with the wrong kingdom.
Amen! We need to focus less on nationalistic goals and more on following the teachings of Jesus. And we must tone down our rhetoric.

2 comments:

  1. Christianity Today is not typically sympathetic to the (usually liberal) positions the Episcopal Church is taking, so of course they'd accuse our leaders of nationalism ...

    ... then again, they do have a point. None of the statements any of our bishops made was particularly egregious, but there was definitely a bit of a nationalist tone there. Perhaps that's not the way they intended it, but that's probably the way it came across to Anglicans outside the US.

    The fact remains, though, that Anglican provinces have traditionally been independent. The Primates did effectively ask the US church to surrender some authority in allowing conservative dissidents in the church to be overseen by foreign Primates. It isn't outrageous that US bishops would want to preserve the territorial integrity of our Province; this is the way that Anglicanism has traditionally functioned.

    I think that if it was proposed that liberal Anglicans in conservative African provinces be allowed oversight by Western archbishops, the Africans would bring up previous instances of Western colonialism. And, unfortunately, they would have a very good point.

    I have no sympathy for the African and Asian Anglican leaders who are trying to eject the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion because we disagree over homosexuality. Anglicans have always had a diversity of opinion, and we aren't Scriptural literalists. I can understand the disagreement, but to refuse to be in communion with us is not right. Additionally, the most prominent conservative Anglican leader, Peter Akinola, has supported legislation in Nigeria that would impose a 5-year sentence for any advocacy on behalf of homosexuals there. That's profoundly un-Christian. If any church should be ejected from the Anglican Communion, it is the Church of Nigeria.

    That said, I personally would be sympathetic to allowing Episcopal conservatives to be overseen by foreign bishops, so long as our own bishops also retained oversight, and so long as steps were taken to ensure that they would not take property out of our denomination.

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  2. Thanks for the comment. You make some good points. At the same time, one thing I appreciated about the piece is that it critiqued both conservatives (Southern Baptists) and liberals (Episcopalians).

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