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December 29, 2003

ANGLICAN RISIBILITY WATCH:

Tony Blair came under attack from two of the Church of England's most senior figures yesterday for acting "like a white vigilante" and for lacking humility in forging ahead with the war on Iraq.

As someone who is part white, I resent this racial slur and demand an apology. I'm considering filing a complaint with the British authorities for racial hate speech. I guess it's insult Glenn's various ethnicities day or something. Quick, say something bad about the Irish!

Oh, wait, they do that all the time. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Bart Hall notes that I'm not the only one who finds the Anglican hierarchy risible:

Interestingly enough, African Anglicans in particular have accused both the CofE and the Episcopal Church USA of an arrogant cultural imperialism worse than colonialism in their attempts to force left-wing revisionist theology on the world wide church.

This is one reason why most of the African Anglican churches are severing relations with the Episcopal church in the US and (often) the Church of England. Most recently the Anglicans in Zambia cut relationships with both churches. Not only have Anglicans in Nigeria and Uganda broken relations with revisionist Episcopalians, they have informed the head honcho of the US church that he will not be welcome at the installation of the new head of the Ugandan church (Henry Orombi, who happens to be a fairly close personal friend).

The simple fact is that the Church of England no longer matters, except to itself. There are vastly more Anglicans worshipping on a given Sunday in either Nigeria or Uganda than there are in the US, the UK, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand --- combined. The Episcopal Church has lost a third of its membership in the last decade or so because its leaders keep saying stuff like this: "the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the sacred Quran to the prophet Muhammad" in his Christmas sermon this year at the National Cathedral in Washington (quoting Bishop Chane of DC).

Stepping back to the big picture, I think we're seeing pieces of an historically important shift. For many centuries stewardship of the Christian faith has rested with the Catholics and mainline Protestants of "the West." In the last two or three generations that stewardship has first faltered and subsequently almost disappeared. The Episcopal Church and the Church of England have been tragically consistent leaders in this trend. As in the parable of the talents, leadership of the church is now being removed from weak hands in the 'west' and transferred to our brothers and sisters in the south--and China--who /will/ take care of it.

My Nigerian relatives, who are Anglican, are proud that there are more Anglicans in Nigeria than in England. It's easy to see why.

And as we've already learned, the pews in China are "packed" at Christmas. Here's an interesting article on the spread of Christianity from The Atlantic Monthly that quotes my University of Tennessee colleague and friend Rosalind Hackett, who studies this sort of thing. Here's an interesting bit:

The emphasis on global evangelism has helped to spur the development of what Hackett has called the "South-South" religious connection. No longer does Christian missionary activity flow primarily from the developed countries of the North to the developing countries of the South. Brazilian Pentecostal movements are evangelizing heavily in Africa. New African movements are setting up shop in Asia. Korean evangelists now outnumber American ones around the world. And so on.

The course of missionary activity is also beginning to flow from South to North. Many new African movements have for some time been establishing themselves in Europe and North America. Some of this can be attributed to immigration, but there's more to the process than that. "Many people just aren't aware of how active African Christian missionaries are in North America," Hackett says. "The Africans hear about secularization and empty churches and they feel sorry for us. So they come and evangelize. The late Archbishop Idahosa [a renowned Nigerian evangelist and the founder of the Church of God Mission, International] once put it to me this way: 'Africa doesn't need God, it needs money. America doesn't need money, it needs God.' That's an oversimplification, but it gets at something important."

This is definitely going on.