2/13/2007

Wider Issues in Anglican Consciousness

While the gaze of this blog mostly turns to the problems we are having, it is important every once and a while to take a break and point towards other concerns, ones that may have greater impact on our life as a Christian community. Here are two:

Dr Michael Poon, Convener of Global South Theological Education & Formation Track, has written an important essay titled: The Long Road to Full Inheritance: Anglican Communion, Anno Domini 2007.
Dr. Poon has written before on the issues he raises here, notably in his essay, ""Till they have homes: Christian responsibilities in the twenty-first century." His challenge to western, "first world" thinking on mission is important, even if he sometimes harps rather sharply on the influence of American money and English history. Here is a snippet from his essay:

"How can we move beyond the multicultural and globalization visions in our life together in the Communion? The multicultural vision in fact has come to mean different ethnic groups share (or compete) the same space but live their separate lives. St Paul in Romans 9-11 and Ephesians 2 offered a different view of the redeemed humanity, where paths do not merely intersect, but come together, and share in the same household of God. Can we (East and West, North and South) sharing a common history?

In the same way, globalization promises wealth and plenty to peoples and nations who adopt the consumerist ethos. The world is configured to serve the needs of the rich.

Christianity points to a vision where all are restored to be fellow inheritors of God's good earth. Can our Communion imagine new ways of engagement (aka instruments of communion) that has fettered the Communion to American money and the Church of England's history? What opportunities are open to us in the Anglican Communion? "

While I have other problems with the "instruments of communion," primarily the fact that they are top heavy with bishops and are mostly not elected by anybody. Still his points are well taken.


Bishop Pierre Whalon has written Where Have All the Christians Gone? It is a commentary on the rapid depletion of the Christian community in most of the Middle East. It is too easy to forget these churches. In the first place American interest in most of the countries of the Middle East is limited to looking for enemies. Even in our concerns for Palestine and Israel our gaze first goes to Jewish and Muslim communities, and to Christian communities only in so far as they are engaged in social services. Bishop Whalon is absolutely on target in calling us to lift our gaze and see the plight of Christians there.

In 1979 I went to church in Beirut at a small Syrian Orthodox Church, founded in about 180. The congregation had made it for nineteen hundred years, but I have no idea if it has lasted into the beginning of the 21st century. In 1990 the Orthodox Church in Damascus was still active, but with difficulty. Time has rolled on and between the those who have left and those who have been discouraged by loss of community and simply given up it is no wonder that these communities are near to being lost. It is wonderful therefore to see Bishop Whalon's essay and the pictures of the work and life that is still there. Please read, mark and inwardly digest his article.

3 comments:

  1. Mark,
    Thanks for addressing Dr. Poon's article on your blog. I, too, think it is an excellent and provocative piece for the reasons you cite, among others.

    I wonder if you might address his call to the Global South to rise to the challenge here and now to 'be the church' in the face of Western distortions of what it means to be 'church.' I seems one target of his article was 815, was it not? How do you respond to that challenge?

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  2. christopher+14/2/07 9:40 AM

    Just joining in, if I may...

    The Episcopal Church has never refused fellowship with those who disagree with our biblical understanding of inclusion in God's Church - even with those who have failed intentionally to engage in any real listening and learning process with lesbian and gay Christians. Nor has this Church ever demanded that others conform to our biblical hermeneutics. Nor has this Church forced any of its own biblical-hermeneutical minorities, for example, to ordain women or gay people against their consciences.

    In other words, the Episcopal Church has never said it has no need of anyone else. This is a biblical, not a Western way of being church. Trying to force others to submit to one's will is a more typically Western model, no matter who is doing it.

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  3. If I may say, much of the rhetoric out of ECUSA, the CoE and western Anglicanism in general is focused on defaming Israel and giving aid and comfort to the "Palestinian" people. Even here, you take a back-handed swipe, saying we are only looking for enemies.

    But who drove the Christians out of the Middle East? Friends?

    I applaud your bringing this issue to light, but the hard truth is that radical Muslims are responsible for the death of these ancient communities. In Israel proper, of course, there is no problem. Perhaps these basic, if politically inconvenient, facts could be kept in mind the next time ECUSA is prepared to put out an anti-Israel press release, or the Bishop of Jerusalem launches one of his usual anti-Semitic screeds.

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