Tuesday, 6 April 2004

Bishops: Nigeria

Peter Akinola spoke out again. The Associated Press reported it, for example Africa’s Top Anglican Warns U.S. Church.

Archbishop Peter Akinola said the future of true Anglicanism in the United States lies with conservative minority opposition groups within the Episcopal Church who oppose gay marriage and the church’s approval of an openly gay bishop. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion.
Akinola also said in a telephone interview that unless conditions change, he will not attend meetings alongside the leader of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, or attend the 2008 meeting of the world’s Anglican bishops if the U.S. hierarchy participates.

Akinola underscored his support of the conservative minority over the weekend when he met in Atlanta with leaders from the two main U.S. organizations that oppose toleration of homosexual activity: the American Anglican Council and the recently formed Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes.
Akinola said the Episcopal Church “is trying to redefine Christianity and rewrite Scripture, and we have no right to do that. The historic faith of the church is what we stand by, and there is no going back.”
In the archbishop’s view, although those who favor liberal policies on homosexuality have a clear operating majority in the U.S. church, he strongly backs the minority and its new network.
“It’s either repent and come back to the fold, or give up on the Anglican family,” he said.

Another blogger, Fr Jake, has reminded his readers about Peter Akinola’s past statements, which saves me the trouble of doing so too.
Kendall Harmon describes this as Akinola under Fire.

And read this about Nigerian religion, from a Lagos newspaper: Nigerians Only Pretend to Be Religious — Mbang

Nigeria is said to be the most religious nation in the world. How do you react to such a report?
I’ve talked about this several times. We have so many churches on the streets, in fact in every street, you have a church, but that doesn’t make a country religious. It is the quality and calibre of people you have that can make you describe a country as being religious. The kind of people we have in Nigeria, with all these killings and corruption at the high and low places, it is difficult to say that Nigeria is religious or it may be religious through other religions; talking of Nigeria being a religious country outside Christianity and Islam, maybe you can say so. People in these two religions, they pretend to be very religious but when they go into their offices, it’s a different story. Most of these people who kill people, come to our churches and when they come to take Holy Communion, they will walk very holy and shout holy, holy, and you don’t know them. So that’s the problem, and I’ve raised the issue at various occasions I have gone to. What Nigerians need to work for is to see how they can produce quality God-fearing people, Christians after God’s heart. We have very few of them in Nigeria today.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 6 April 2004 at 10:05 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

Is it fair to apply a generalization about the religiosity of a nation to one man within that nation — even if he is a religious leader? Would you accept the general religious climate of your nation as characteristic of yourself? Would I really know much about Jack Spong or Billy Graham if I understood the nature of American religion in general? The quote seems to infer that Akinola is a hypocrite because he is a Nigerian — and I find that outrageous.

Posted by: Russ Booton at April 8, 2004 11:57 AM

As I read it, I come to a different conclusion. It appears to me that he is not characteristic of Nigeria.
Consequently, what the quote calls into question is if Archbishop Akinola does indeed speak for 17.5 million Nigerian Anglicans, as some claim.

Posted by: Jake at April 8, 2004 01:44 PM

I have no argument with exposing hypocrisy wherever it may be found, and I am concerned over archiepiscopal pronouncements on homoerotic relationships that may derive more from cultural taboos than from a catholic understanding of the teachings of Holy Scripture.
But, that’s being said, this ad hominem slur on Archbishop Akinola and on Nigerian Christians generally is outrageous.
See the response of Dr Brian Turley, posted at Classical Anglican Net News today

Posted by: Todd Granger at April 8, 2004 04:40 PM

The past president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Sunday Mbang, who is speaking from Nigeria, is in a position to know a bit more than Dr. Turley from West Virginia about what is happening there, I would think.

Posted by: Jake at April 8, 2004 05:52 PM

And I would think that those who are closely associated with people dying for the faith - such as Voice of the Martyrs - are in a position to know a bit more than Sunday Mbang, who, as an ivory-tower academic, reads a good deal like the hypocrites he so bluntly criticizes. People in glass houses, and all that…
Furthermore, substitute “United States” for “Nigeria” and the paragraph reads just as well (whether the killing be unborn babies or convicted convicts.) We’ve just shown that sin and hypocrisy about it endemic. How novel. What again was Mbang’s point?

Posted by: MJD_NV at April 8, 2004 06:11 PM

I read in full the interview of Dr Mbang who by the way is the Methodist church equivalent of Dr Akinola. He has been the Patriarch of the UMC in Nigeria for over a decade. The generalisation that he made of Nigerians and religions are no worse than I have seen in South Africa and Canada after living 6 and 4 years in these countries respectively. By the way, faith accompanied with works was the task of Archbishop Mbang to teach to his 10 million adherents.

Posted by: Ayo Adetola at April 8, 2004 06:55 PM

Again, Mbang’s point was definitely not to discredit Akinola or any other Christian leader from Nigeria who voices his opinion, as he is being used here. If so, then he discredits himself, since he also is a Nigerian. I’m not sure what the point was of suggesting that Akinola may not represent the viewpoint of insincere Christians in Nigeria.
I also agree that we need to deal with our own hypocrisy that we can judge supposed hypocrisy in Nigeria. I have read that increasing areas of Nigeria are falling under Muslim sharia law, and Christians more and more live under threat and oppression. We have little understanding of what it means to live with that in the west. It would not surprise me if the Nigerian Anglican Church will need to break with the Anglican Communion in order to protect Anglicans who live as minorities among Muslims. It’s one thing put your life on the line for what you believe, quite another to do so for what you don’t believe.
Also, with Todd, I agree that this article smacks of the obsequious argumentum ad hominem that seems to be nearly impossible to avoid in current Anglican discussions.

Posted by: Russ Booton at April 8, 2004 08:01 PM

If the threat to Nigerian Christians is from Nigerian Muslims, then blame them and not American Episcopalians, whose only crime has been to pump plenty of money into the African churches (inc. Nigeria’s), and has stated it will continue to do so, regardless of ethical differences.

As to whether Nigerian Christians are truly spiritual, or merely religious, I leave that debate to Nigerians themselves (log/splinter, and all that). Maybe +Peter A. could do similarly vis-a-vis Americans? Just a thought.

[As far as the impact of non-Nigerian Anglicans on their brethren, and their Nigerian brethrens’ relationships w/ Muslims, why the heck was the (FWIW homophobic) Lord Carey dumping on Muslims? That speech was far more likely to catch the eye of a Nigerian Muslim, than who was or wasn’t being made Bishop of New Hampshire!]

Posted by: J. Collins Fisher at April 12, 2004 06:40 AM