Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Archbishop Robert Duncan’s address to the Opening Session of Moving Forward Together A Sacred Assembly: An Analysis

By Robin G. Jordan

Archbishop Robert Duncan’s address to the Opening Session of Moving Forward Together A Sacred Assembly was classic Bob Duncan. It was tailored to his particular audience. In his address Archbishop Duncan sounded themes that he could expect to resonate with an audience primarily composed of charismatics and evangelicals. He also turned on the Duncan charm.

He spoke of how God had given him two Scripture passages for the occasion. He repeatedly emphasized that he was speaking as a sinner. He spoke of his own conversion, pointing out that he share a common identity with those present—“a sinner saved by grace.”

Duncan went on to say that he had learned things from East Africa. It was noteworthy that he did not give any examples of what he had learned.

Duncan stressed that he was” great friend of Rwanda” He also emphasized his friendship with Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje.

Duncan spoke of bringing “some words of wisdom.” He also talked about “images” that he had received from God.

Duncan repeatedly stressed moving forward together throughout the address. The thrust of the address was that the “Rwandan convocation,” as he described his audience should “make common cause” with the ACNS as the AMiA had in the past. “We must be in this together.”

Duncan had the rapt attention of those seated around me. Listening to their verbal agreement to different parts of his address, I believe that if he called for a show of hands in favor of the “Rwandan convocation” affiliating with the ACNA, they would have raised their hands.

Duncan made a number of statements that are worth taking note of. First, he talked about continuing a relationship in mission together with the Rwandans as if the “Rwandan convocation” had left the Anglican Church of Rwanda and become a part of the ACNA.

Second, he spoke of the ACNA needing its church planting expertise.

Third, he talked about a full partnership between the ACNA and the province of Rwanda.

Fourth, he spoke about the need for accountability and discernment in selection of bishops. There was an inference that the ACNA would play a substantial role in the choice of bishops for the “Rwandan convocation.”

Fifth, he touched upon the AMiA having not been fully Anglican. While he may reference to the AMiA not being synodical, he appeared to infer that there was more than the lack of a synodical form of ecclesiastic governance at issue. It is noteworthy that the ACNA itself is not fully synodical and under Duncan’s leadership has been moving toward a more prelatical form of church government.

Sixth he, he stressed, “we are called to go where Jesus is leading.” “It is not about ourselves but our love for others.” This suggested that Duncan was seeking to persuade the folks in the “Rwandan convocation” to believe that Jesus was calling them to go into the ACNA and to dissuade anyone who had qualms about affiliation with the ACNA and might organize resistance to such a move with the argument that they were not doing what Jesus wanted them to do. They were thinking of only themselves.

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