Nigerian Bishops seek Lambeth postponement

The bishops of the Church of Nigeria, in an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury posted on the Nigerian website, have asked for the Lambeth Conference to be canceled lest it cause scandal because of acrimony. They further call for an urgent meeting of all Primates to judge whether the Episcopal Church's response is adequate and to quickly create an timetable for the formation of an Anglican Covenant which will in turn serve as a gate-keeper to the next Lambeth Conference.

From a part of the letter:

"We are persuaded that a change of direction from our current path is urgently needed and write to assure you of our willingness and commitment to work towards that end. We have noted your desire that the proposed Lambeth Conference be a place for fellowship and prayer and an exploration of our shared mission and ministry – all of these are of course commendable aims.

We all know, however, that the pressures of the present situation would adversely affect the outcome of the conference unless there is a profound change of heart; for how can we as bishops in the Church of God gather for a Lambeth Conference when there is such a high level of distrust, dislike and disdain for one another? How can we meet as leaders of the Communion when our relationships are so sorely strained and our life together so broken that we cannot even share together in the Lord’s Supper? It would be a mockery and bring dishonour to the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ.

We are also concerned about the abuse directed towards those who hold to traditional views on matters of Human Sexuality. The spate of hostility in the UK is alarming."

Read the rest: An open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury from the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria meeting Osogbo, Osun State

Updated, Mark Harris, Simon Sarmiento and Father Jake have called attention to this section of the letter:

"We are also concerned about the abuse directed towards those who hold to traditional views on matters of Human Sexuality. The spate of hostility in the UK is alarming.

We are all witnesses to:

The presence of placard carrying and leaflets distributing campaigners at the last Lambeth Conference distracting Bishops who travelled thousands of miles for fellowship. These protesters effectively shifted the focus of the conference to human sexuality - as if that was all that mattered.

The physical assaults against clergymen with opposing view, such as your predecessor attacked in his own Cathedral pulpit, and a Kenyan bishop assaulted by two people dressed as clergymen.

The occasion when your own General Synod was disrupted by protestors angry over the handling of the Canon Jeffery John issue.

Recent attempts to mandate unbiblical views in the UK through force of law and the protests and attacks by activists determined to disrupt and intimidate any group that seeks to uphold biblical teaching.

In truth anyone who does not embrace revisionist views is a potential target. We know it is possible to provide some security to minimize such occurrences but is the additional cost justifiable? Would the resultant atmosphere of fear and uncertainty be conducive to the goals of such a large gathering of bishops?"

Comments (3)

Adding the physical safety bit to this letter seems to indicate a certain "throw it at the wall and see what sticks" approach. Obviously Bishop Josiah Fearon of Nigeria travels to England frequently and feels safe there. And I don't think leading British evangelicals like Chris Sugden and Bishop Nazir-Ali travel with body guards. They should have advanced their ecclesiological arguments and been done with it. The "physical safety business" will make them fitures of fun.

No, this represents another effort, given some appearance of importance by sheer numbers, to pursue bad expediency based on a false urgency.

It seems odd to complain about placards and leaflets at the margins of Lambeth and other meetings, and not to acknowledge the presence of "consultants" and "advisors" and "associates" from the United States and the UK almost in the midst of proceedings. Of course, that's a matter of perspective: as was often said in American political circles a generation ago, "He may be a scoundrel, but at least he's our scoundrel."

Josh Thomas is worth reading on this issue:

It does seem from the rationale presented that the Nigerian bishops believe that disagreeing with them in public is an act of violence.

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