Thursday, February 18, 2010

GAFCON's Lenten Penitence

Here at St. Onuphrius’ we celebrated Ash Wednesday with a special liturgy which involved starting fires in a number of properties the parish had recently purchased and prudently insured. For several times their cost. Meanwhile, the fun-loving Theological Resource Group of the Global Anglican Future Conference chose to mark the beginning of Lent in a less ethical fashion, by releasing the catchily named The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today: A Commentary on the Jerusalem Declaration Supplemented by The Way The Truth and the Life – Theological Resources for a Pilgrimage to a Global Anglican Future (obviously more snappy titles like “We're Right and You're Wrong” seemed trite).

Now judging by the preponderance of evangelicals on the list of those brazen enough to claim responsibility of this work, Lenten penance wasn’t a concept foremost in the author’s minds. Yet, my Dearly Beloved Sinners, I’m only a fraction of the way into their modest 162 pages of literary chloroform (h/t to Mark Twain, who'd no doubt have viewed the Book of Mormon in a more positive light if he'd had to wade through one of these), but I’ve already endured enough to know it’s the kind of heavy going that could make even that creepy albino from Opus Dei feel he’d suffered enough to deserve a little partying come Easter Sunday.

After all, what can one make of a something which first claims it is “not a test of orthodoxy for all Anglicans” (p.23), but then claims to contain “fourteen tenets of orthodoxy” which “underpin our Anglican identity” (p.25)? Sure a little hypocritical contradiction is part of what makes being a Conservative so much fun, but it’s customary to leave a slightly more discrete gap than only two pages. It is, however, quite right to remind everyone that “no Christian is free willfully to offend (sic) another in the name of freedom” (p.62), although for the sake of apostate liberal readers the authors should have added “unless the person doing the offending comes from Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya (or any other historical basket case of a country infested with people nonplussed about the torture of child alleged to be witches), and the Christian they’re insulting lives in the West. Or is gay. Or female, depending upon one's local traditional tolerance for misogyny. ”

The really interesting fact is that while only 10 of the 34 people listed as responsible for this masterpiece are westerners, including faux-Rwandans/Ugandans like little laymen Noll and Donlan, 7 out of the 9 member “advisory group” are as two-thirds world as an upper-class English gentlemen’s club. What’s more the foreword is written by none other than that internationally-famous gambler and non-African, little Peter Jensen. Which just goes to show how truly GAFCON represents the end of religious colonialism. Instead of conservative white western church leaders doing all the work, this now stands as a testimony to the global south’s future as the central force in authentic Anglicanism. One in which indigenous Africans do most of the work, after which conservative white western church leaders correct their mistakes. Then another white western church leader gives his calvinist imprimatur, and tells people they can trust it. Isn’t post-colonialism a remarkable step forward?

I’m Father Christian and I teach the Bible.


JimB said...

"14 tenets of orthodoxy" makes one recall what the president of France said when told that President Wilson was coming to the treaty negotiations with "14 points."

"God only had ten!"


Anonymous said...

Having printed off all 162 pages from my computer, I can't be bothered to read them. But burning them has created an awful lot of Ash.

The Rev. Dr. Christian Troll said...

Glad you found a good use for them, Father. One of my Beloved Sinners is busily working on producing a cracked version of the pdf file which will be made available for everyone to cut and paste the funny bits into their own analytic documents.