Friday, July 04, 2008

The battle for hearts and souls

[Sydney Morning Herald] 4 Jul 2008--Peter Jensen describes the past two weeks as among the most spiritually invigorating of his life. The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney is the talk of Anglicans worldwide - conservative and liberal - as the breakaway movement he helped create openly challenges the relevance and authority of the See of Canterbury, the historic centre of Anglican power and influence. Not everyone is a fan.

Jensen and fellow Anglican archbishops - Nigerian Peter Akinola and Ugandan Henry Orombi - have been making waves as the frontmen for the new Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, which was birthed in Jerusalem late last month at the Global Anglican Future Conference, or Gafcon, a meeting of Anglican bishops unhappy with the direction of the mainstream church.

The rebels have singled out the Canadian and American arms for their teaching on homosexuality, specifically acceptance of gay bishops and same-sex unions. They say the Jerusalem summit was called "in a sense of urgency that a false gospel has so paralysed the Anglican Communion that this crisis must be addressed. The chief threat of this dispute involves the compromising of the integrity of the church's worldwide mission".

When the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference is hosted this month by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, Jensen and many of his Gafcon cohorts will boycott it. Some see Williams as part of the problem.

Another Gafcon participant, Jim Packer, a British-born Canadian theologian who has broken with the Canadian church over same-sex unions, says "something" about Williams is dispensable and that communion with him is not essential when he is part of a doctrinal problem. "Pray for the next Archbishop of Canterbury and that he may be with us rather sooner than we thought," Packer says.

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