What is Anglicanism?

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Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, Primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda, has written a long and careful article that explains his sense of Anglicanism and why Anglicanism has an important message to the people of Uganda.

The article though is really not just applicable to a Ugandan audience but can speak to the rest of the Communion in helping us understand why many in the African provinces have found Anglicanism so powerful, and how they have used it to speak to their culture:

“Few would deny that the Anglican Communion is in crisis. The nature of that crisis, however, remains a question. Is it about sexuality? Is it a crisis of authority – who has it and who doesn’t? Have Anglicans lost their commitment to the via media, epitomized by the Elizabethan Settlement, which somehow declared a truce between Puritan and Catholic sentiments in the Church of England? Is it a crisis of globalization? A crisis of identity?

I have the privilege of serving as archbishop of the Church of Uganda, providing spiritual leadership and oversight to more than nine million Anglicans. Uganda is second only to Nigeria as the largest Anglican province in the world, and most of our members are fiercely loyal to their global communion. But however we come to understand the current crisis in Anglicanism, this much is apparent: The younger churches of Anglican Christianity will shape what it means to be Anglican. The long season of British hegemony is over.

The preface to the Book of Common Prayer states, ‘It is a most invaluable part of that blessed ‘liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,’ that in his worship different forms and usages may without offense be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire; and that, in every Church, what cannot be clearly determined to belong to Doctrine must be referred to Discipline.’

And yet, despite this clear distinction, contemporary Anglicans are in danger of confusing doctrine and discipline. For four hundred years Anglicanism represented both the theological convictions of the English Reformation and the culture of the Christian Church in Britain. The sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Anglican divines gave voice to both: English Reformation theology (doctrine) and British culture (discipline). The Anglican churches around the world, however, have ended the assumption that Anglican belief and practice must be clothed in historic British culture.”

The article speaks of the theology and historical experience of the believers in Uganda, and explains their objections to actions taken by other parts of the Communion and how they intend to protest them.

Read the rest here: What is Anglicanism?

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2 Responses to "What is Anglicanism?"
  1. This is an undeniably beautiful piece from the Archbishop of Uganda. His story of the growth of Christianity in Uganda is moving, the transformation of the people powerful. I think there is a great deal here to challenge us Western Anglicans to be more faithful.

    However, I took note of a few particular thoughts in ++Orombi's letter. Orombi's understanding of homosexuality seems to be highlighted in this passage:

    Less than a year later, on June 3, 1886, the king of Buganda ordered the killing of twenty-six of his court pages because they refused his homosexual advances and would not recant their belief in King Jesus. They cut and carried the reeds that were then wrapped around them and set on fire in an execution pit. As the flames engulfed them, these young martyrs sang songs of praise.

    One is reminded here of the violent sins of Sodom & Gomorrah, of the use of rape as a tool of domination in war, and of the ugly excesses of ancient Rome. This view is entirely different, and invokes entirely different feelings, than the Western stereotypes of the "promiscuous gay". Seen through this lens, homosexuality represents Empire (colonialism?), men driven mad by worldly power, the anti-christ itself.

    If this is one's understanding of homosexuality, it is not at all difficult to see how one would believe homosexuality to be absolutely at odds with Scripture.

    I would argue that the issue at hand is NOT the authority of scripture (which I think we just might have some common ground on, no?), but rather the issue is the nature of homosexuality itself.

    ++Orombi clearly has had little exposure to the kind of gentle, committed relationships that so many gays engage in, has not had the opportunity to see them raise children, has not witnessed the persecution they experience as a result of the love they feel. I think we as a Communion could have had an entirely different kind of discussion if he had.

    In the mean time, I am awed at the Ugandan experience of God's Word, and I continue to be proud of sharing a common faith with our Ugandan brothers and sisters.

    -Phil Owen

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