Saturday, November 7, 2009

The crucified Anglican and other notes

Cranmer of the Blog (not of the Reformation) offers this definition of being Anglican, within a post about David Cameron doing God:

"Being Anglican can be one of the most difficult Christian paths to follow: one often feels that one is neither one thing nor another; as was once observed, that one is somehow 'crucified between the two thieves’ of the Puritans and the Papists; suspended between doctrinal fanaticism and superstitious ritualism."

Recently I had opportunity to be in Auckland to speak to their Post Ordination Training group at Vaughan Park on An Evangelical Ecclesiology in an Anglican context. Fortunately I was not crucified ... indeed I was much encouraged to be with a vibrant and sizable group of fledgling ordained ministers (about 20).

Visiting Auckland and talking around the traps underlined, however, my current grizzle with our church: it takes far too long to confirm the nomination of a new bishop. It is almost a month since the election of the next Bishop of Dunedin, but the news is not public yet. This weekend the Diocese of Auckland are electing a new bishop. So in about a month's time we will know ... my view is that our church should move to change our electoral process with canons appropriate to the modern age: (1) a closing date for proposed names to the synod, say, six weeks before the electoral synod; (2) publication of the names being proposed (as Dunedin did not, but Auckland has done on its website); (3) publication of the nominee of the Synod within 24 hours of the close of the synod; (4) if the name is not subsequently confirmed by the bishops and members of General Synod, so be it!

One point about opening the process up is that the current process contributes to a form of clericalism: I know that many clergy in our church know the name of the next Bishop of Dunedin - we are a gossipy lot. Few if any lay people (outside of the Dunedin synod itself) will know this information. It's time for a change and the change should be inclusive of our church as composed of lay as well as clergy.

I suppose I might be crucified for grizzling!

Finally, speaking of bishops, a lot of Christians in Aotearoa NZ are concerned with the recent prominence being given to the most notorious bishop in our fair country, Bishop Brian Tamaki of Destiny Church (which, for the record, has nothing to do with any traditional episcopal church). Recently he conducted a ceremony of loyalty to himself in which some 700 men promised expressions of loyalty to him ranging from standing when he and his wife enter the room to not speaking ill of them in public. For the privilege of doing this they paid a sum of money, and the spectators at this event also paid a sum of money for the pleasure of watching this bizarre event.

As I listen around I think the concerns include these: care for those caught up in Destiny and unnecessary demands being made on them 'in the name of Christ'; alarm that in the name of Christian ministry an ego can be inflated as big as Bishop Tamaki's; sadness that this peculiar approach to Christianity damages the honour of Christ in this country. But there is a plus side: dinner table conversation here these days very quickly opens up opportunities to speak about our faith!

NOT QUITE FINALLY The Anglican Church of Uganda, I am pleased to say, has posted a statement regarding the draconian anti-homosexuality bill before Uganda's parliament. You can read it here. I look forward to its final position statement on the matter, which surely will be against the bill, because this statement says the church is against the death penalty!

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