The Rt Revd Dr Graham Kings was commissioned as Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion at a service in Canterbury Cathedral last week.
Bishop Kings’s role to connect theologians in the Communion, particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and stimulate and publish their work would not be an easy one, Archbishop Idowu-Fearon stated at a commissioning service at Canterbury Cathedral on 13 September conducted by Dean Robert Willis. …
“There will be those who will hate what you are doing.” The Secretary General said that his fervent prayer for the new Mission Theologian echoed Paul’s request that the believers in Rome pray that his service might be “acceptable to the saints”.
The Most Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon took time in his sermon to outline and counter some myths about African Christianity that he finds prevalent in the church.
One of these myths is that of church growth, he said. In a numerical sense, it may be the case that the churches in Africa are growing but there are no credible statistics to support most of these claims, he noted.
With regard to the reported vibrancy of the churches in Africa, the Archbishop said the question must be asked whether there is a depth of maturity, whether church members are “full of goodness, filled with knowledge and able to instruct one another” as Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (15.14). He commented that when there is a crisis, most African Christians would more often seek out a traditional native healer or self-styled prophets rather than the priest or clergy.
The Secretary General said that another common myth is that the Church in Africa is unified, while there is a divide between churches in the Global North and South. The Communion in Africa is not uniform, he asserted, but contains evangelical, charismatic, low-church, high-church and many other streams. The “unity” found in Africa is “servile unity”, where voices that are different are silenced and leadership is stifled.
Kings should expect to find “timid and scared” theologians waiting to be liberated, Idowu-Fearon is reported as saying.
He also told the Mission Theologian that contextualisation would be a major challenge, to get African and Asian theologians who had been trained in the West to translate theology into their different contexts without altering the truth,
his prayer was “for a new culture of respect from the various parts of our Communion”.
Find the rest of the article including more of Archbishop Idowu-Fearon’s comments here.
Photo: The Rt Revd Dr Graham Kings, via ACNS