7/11/2007

Archbishop Orombi writes of matters of the spiritual heart and then passes by.

The Church of Uganda Archbishop Henry Orombi has written an essay in FIRST THINGS, titled "What is Anglicanism?" Again, as with Bishop Benjamin Kwashi, whose article I commented on yesterday, Archbishop Orombi gives a very helpful understanding of Anglicanism as seen from a receiver's perspective. In particular his description of the relationship between the evangelicalism contained in the reformation notion, "sola scriptura" and the evangelical experience of the East Africa Revival is important.

The Archbishop closes, however, with this: (I have printed in color those passages particularly of interest to me.)

"The current crisis presents us with an opportunity to mature into a global communion that represents not just historic bonds of affection but also an advancing mission force for the Kingdom of God that Jesus inaugurated. For this to happen, our instruments of communion may also have to become instruments of discipline. As a member of the primates’ standing committee, I was invited to come to the United States in September 2007 to attend the meeting of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops. But I recently wrote the archbishop of Canterbury and informed him that I could not participate.

Among my reasons is this: In February 2007, the primates of the Anglican Communion met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and made certain requests of the Episcopal church. It is my conviction that our Dar es Salaam communiqué did not envision interference in the American House of Bishops while they are considering our requests. For me to violate our hard-won agreement in Dar es Salaam would be another case of undermining our instruments of communion. My decision to uphold our Dar es Salaam communiqué is intended to strengthen our instruments of communion so we will be able to mature into an even more effective global communion of the Church of Jesus Christ than in the past.

In December 2006, the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda unanimously adopted “The Road to Lambeth,” a statement drafted for a council of African provinces. Among other things, it stated, “We will definitely not attend any Lambeth Conference to which the violators of the Lambeth Resolution [1.10] are also invited as participants or observers.” Accordingly, if the present invitations to the Lambeth Conference stand, I do not expect the Ugandan bishops to attend.

It is important that this decision not be misunderstood as withdrawing from the instruments of communion. On the contrary, our decision reflects the critical importance of the Lambeth Conference: Its value as an instrument of communion is greatly diminished when the persistent violators of its resolutions are invited. If our resolutions as a council of bishops do not have moral authority among ourselves, how can we expect our statements on world affairs to carry weight in the world’s forums? An instrument of communion must also be an instrument of discipline in order to effectively facilitate meaningful communion among its autonomous provinces.

The Church of Uganda takes its Anglican identity and the future prospects of the global Anglican Communion very seriously. Our thoughtfulness in how we participate in the instruments of communion reflects our fundamental loyalty to our Anglican heritage. Likewise, our devotion to the Word of God—expressed through our martyrs, revival, and the historic episcopate—reflects our commitment to the ongoing place of the Church of Uganda as a province of the Anglican Communion."

The whole essay stands on its own, but I believe its last few paragraphs tell us something of significance: (i) The Archbishop will not join others in meeting with The Episcopal Church House of Bishops. The time for hearing out what our bishops might have to say or their hearing what the Archbishop of Canterbury, or anyone else, might have to say is over. (ii) If the ABC's invitation list holds Ugandan bishops are not coming to Lambeth, as per the "Road to Lambeth," (iii) What is taking place concerns discipline. The Episcopal Church should be disciplined for its seeming refusal to abide by the Word of God in Holy Scripture. "...what is important to us is the power of the Word of God precisely as the Word of God—written to bring transformation in our lives, our families, our communities, and our culture." We are to be disciplined for not confusing the Word of God (the scriptures written and translated) for "the Word of God."

There is much more to be said on all this. The Archbishop writes eloquently of matters of the spiritual heart but then turns and passes by.

He has set out to ordain a bishop for work in the United States and continues in his outspoken criticism and reviling of gay and lesbian persons. From a recent article,

"People have abandoned relationships with the opposite sex. One wonders whether God was stupid to create Eve for Adam. Why isn't Eve beautiful any more? Eve is going out with Eve and Adam with Adam," Archbishop Orombi lamented.

Archbishop Orombi, also the Bishop of Kampala, decried the rise of homosexual activity in Uganda to the point where homosexuals have begun to demand special constitutional rights. Orombi cautioned audiences that just as God punished the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah - destroyed by fire and brimstone for the sexual immorality of its inhabitants - he would not let this sin go unpunished either."

No wonder he isn't coming to the US to meet with our bishops. Who wants to be around those who are smelling of fire and brimstone? On the other hand, how dare this man first claim the martyrs of Uganda as his own, who were burned with fire, and then wish that fire down on others? I presume the Archbishop understands just where the pejorative use of the word "Fag" came from?

Just what we need: An Archbishop who wants to discipline and whose terms of such discipline are truly scriptural and repugnant.

24 comments:

  1. I doubt this one will be difficult to put back in the bag or downplay. Many have been concerned that the desire of a number of Primates is to push the Instruments of Communion -- especially the Primates' Meeting and also the Lambeth Conference -- towards a magisterium-like status. Orombi's language makes this desire abundantly clear.

    Yet the Archbishop of Canterbury has gone to lengths to describe next year's Lambeth Conference as a non-legislative session -- contrary in some respects to the Conference in 1998.

    This may help explain, beyond the fire and brimstone Orombi wishes to call down upon us, why the Archbishop of Uganda has now also made it pretty clear he has no plans to lead his bishops in attending.

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  2. Orombi's statement is the product of ignorance, no matter how angry or affronted one feels in hearing that. It is a statement which serves no useful purpose to anyone, and can only further antagonize and injure.

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  3. Orombi says that God does not leave the sin of sexual immorality unpunished. That is not at all the same thing as wishing fire and brimstone on someone. What someone believes will happen and what they hope will happen are not necessarily the same thing. Please don't put words into the Archbishop's mouth.

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  4. I'll give Orombi a little credit. He is being a bit more consistent than he realizes. Being a persistent violator himself, not only of Lambeth 1.10, but of all that has come out of Lambeth (e.g. Winddor Report), then it is perfectly understandable and acceptable that he hold true to his own word and absent himself from Lambeth.

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  5. On attendance at the HoB meeting in Sept. Is it possible that his failure to attend is partially motivated out of practical politics. If the primates steering committee is more liberal that the primates as a whole and he potentially the only person there who will oppose what happens he could be viewed as a "spoiler" and unwilling to go-along with a decision reached by the majority. By failing to attend, he can always claim that Africa was not represented. EPfizH

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  6. A beautifully articulated statement of Ugandan anglicanism. Even the structure of the document itself reflects its central features of scripture, testimony and evangelism. He reflects on the word, not as subject to historical critical methods, to which he grants a passing aside, but as shared in the lived experience of the Ugandan people. His narration is a testimonial to the faith of Uganda in the history of its people, and the entire thrust of this document is evangelical.. "The younger churches of Anglican Christianity will shape what it means to be Anglican. The long season of British hegemony is over. "
    I am moved by +Orombi's enthusiasm, his passion and response to his people and their faithful experience, but I do not want to live in his world.
    Their is little room for civility and tolerance, British carry overs. There is the absolute certainty that Uganda is right (and therefore everyone who disagrees is wrong). There is no room for discussion, in fact, at best, it is unnecessary and, at worst, damaging to the integrity of the faith of the true believer. Therefore, it is wrong to associate with those whose faith is not pure. There will be no trip to visit with TEC bishops. Lambeth must forbid the attendance of those bishops who approved Gene Robinson's consecration. There shall be no shared communion, even at the table with such sinners. "Anglicanism" shall be measured by the faith experience of Uganda, Nigeria and the GS. CAPA's "The Road to Lambeth" is the standard, not Windsor, not some sort of process. Do it our way, play by our rules, or we won't come.
    I am grateful that +Orombi has shared with the Communion and the world what it means to be "Anglican". As primates and provinces consider the meaning of an "Anglican Covenant", they will have a clear meaning of what will be expected of them when hegemony is exercised by the GS. +Orombi reminds us that his country is the second largest Anglican one, second only to Nigeria.
    EPfizH

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  7. rb - What is clear is that Orombi point of view of how God operates is derived from the OT, not the NT. Which is very troubling.

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  8. (Dan)
    I don't think the Archbishop wants to engage in disciplining member provinces of the communion but rather, he sees that the lack of any existing means of discipline has brought the AC to the point of collapse. Discipline is urgently required and the most natural source of that discipline would appear to reside within the instruments of ommunion.

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  9. "Why isn't Eve beautiful any more? " do I detect a bit of objectification here? What makes him think that it is female beauty that determines sexuality?

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  10. On not going to Lambeth, "It is important that this decision not be misunderstood as withdrawing from the instruments of communion."

    Wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

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  11. Ok, someone has to ask the question: What in the world makes the bishops of ACCanada, the presiding bishop of TEC or anyone else think there is something here that we should value. And even more: what makes them think it is worth sacrificing the fidelity, hopes, expectations, aspirations and love of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers?

    Recently in her interview on PBS, Presiding Bishop Katherine described the place she and the Canadians put lesbians and gays as a 'crucified place.' Ok, mamm, you held a nail, now explain why!

    FWIW
    jimB

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  12. EPfizH- "By failing to attend, he can always claim that Africa was not represented."

    I think the Bishop has made it pretty clear that anything that comes out the meeting with the House of Bishops other than total compliance with the Tanzania Communique is unacceptable. TEC knows what is in the Communique, it already has rejected the PV Scheme - therefore there is no reason to go. Because compromise, as far as he is concerned, is out of the question. I doubt that he'd try to claim that Africa wasn't represented somehow. Not only would it be clearly disingenuous, but contradict his position that it was not necessary that he go, given that he has already made his position known.

    On "Wanting to have your cake and eat it too." i.e., not go to Lambeth, but not withdraw from the AC. This is exactly what they attempt to do. And it will be quite messy for a awhile, as the ABC sorts it out.

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  13. "What is clear is that Orombi point of view of how God operates is derived from the OT, not the NT. Which is very troubling."

    Maybe. Though there's judgement aplenty in the NT as well. ("Hell" is not an OT concept.) But I am much more troubled at how easily we bear false witness against our neighbors. Again --

    Orombi says that God does not leave the sin of sexual immorality unpunished. That is not at all the same thing as wishing fire and brimstone on someone. What someone believes will happen and what they hope will happen are not necessarily the same thing. Please don't put words into the Archbishop's mouth.

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  14. I would like to point out that this quote:

    "People have abandoned relationships with the opposite sex. One wonders whether God was stupid to create Eve for Adam. Why isn't Eve beautiful any more? Eve is going out with Eve and Adam with Adam," Archbishop Orombi lamented.

    Archbishop Orombi, also the Bishop of Kampala, decried the rise of homosexual activity in Uganda to the point where homosexuals have begun to demand special constitutional rights. Orombi cautioned audiences that just as God punished the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah - destroyed by fire and brimstone for the sexual immorality of its inhabitants - he would not let this sin go unpunished either."

    Which Mark Harris interjects and proceeds to comment upon, as though it is from Bishop Orombi's "What is Anglicanism," was googled from a uncreditable extreme blog called LifeSite.

    Why one wonders did Mark Harris search so far afield for that quote?

    Well quite likely because Bishop Orombi does not speak at all about sexual issues in his "What is Anglicanism."

    For some reason Mark Harris needs to accuse the Bishop on this issue and rightly assuming that most of his readers will not have taken time to read the original, felt free to imply that this quote was part of the Bishop's address. But it was not and his implication is a lie.

    Mark Harris is on the Executive Committee of TEC and recently appointed to the sub-committee on TEC's response to the proposed Covenant. One hopes that he will bring more honesty, less manipulation to that process than he's shown in this recent post. The internet has changed the world.

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  15. The Reverend's Spouse13/7/07 12:03 AM

    I very much appreciate the way in which Mark (Harris, that is) has framed both of these pieces as genuine expressions that emanate from within legitimate churches whose traditions and history are not, finally, European or English. I find myself troubled a bit by the language of "receiver" churches-- as if what they now speak is second hand in a way, and what we might speak from a Western perspective is not also, though in a different way, a received tradition.

    Rather than seeing a call for discipline as part of the Anglican Communion's common life as a kind of immature response of "receivers" whose "true Anglicanism" might thus be considered suspect (perhaps because they weren't aged, as it were, as long or in quite the same casks), strikes me as perhaps missing something more important about the nature of the communion and of living Anglican faith in the various provinces: namely, that rather than being a "defective" perspective (to borrow a recently used phrase from another communion) it is the genuine perspective of that part/province of the larger body.

    What I begin to wonder is whether an English/European lens (and the norms of vision it creates about what Anglicanism is) distorts how we see, hear and frame what Orombi and others are talking about.

    Orombi isn't wrong when he speaks this way in and of Anglican Christian experience and teaching in Uganda. Nor is he wrong when, from that perspective, he concludes that neither he nor his bishops can participate at Lambeth. Can we accept that without judging it, even where what is understood in our cultural context is very different, and where our cultural approach is NOT to withdraw from conversation or communion but to live and let live to some degree?

    Let me be clear. I do NOT interpret the Bible or the nature of the Anglican communion up to now as this Archbishop and apparently most of his bishops do.

    The really hard thing to accept here may not be the loss of some fellowship in some circles for a time, but perhaps the loss of the illusions upon which some of that fellowship may have existed or tried to promote itself. Not just because of homosexuality, nor even just because of colonialism, is the world church experiencing this kind of challenge and upheaval now-- but rather these issues have helped to shine the light on the very deep differences and distinctions-- some of which are gifts, others of which may not feel so much that way-- among Christian people living and now speaking authentically from very different cultural and so theological contexts.

    For Archbishop Orombi NOT to say he believes there must be discipline as part of the arrangement of what the Anglican Communion is would be perhaps even more troubling in the long run.

    He has said that, clearly, now. The US and Canada appear to be saying other things, and others say other things as well. The best dialog won't happen until all are ready to say this and know they can in the presence of each other. It appears that time has not yet come, and Lambeth 2008 may be too soon to expect it.

    Is this the end of the Anglican Communion, or a sign of a new honesty within it that will take substantial effort, patience, love, and perhaps time apart before a new "sensus fidelium" emerges.

    Peace in Christ...

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  16. Orombi cautioned audiences that just as God punished the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah - destroyed by fire and brimstone for the sexual immorality of its inhabitants - he would not let this sin go unpunished either.

    RB: you seem sure that the "he" highlighted above, is God (in which case, your repeated contention would seem to be correct).

    How do you know that that that "he" (not capitalized, but who knows whether that was ++Orombi's intention or not) doesn't refer to ++Orombi himself? (In which case he seems be going beyond "wishing fire and brimstone", to actually applying it! >:-/)

    With all the talk of African Anglican numbers (e.g. Nigeria and Uganda), I personally think that ++Orombi is used to 1) being in majorities and/or 2) having those subject to his primatial control. In attending TEC's HOB, he would have *neither* of those advantages.

    It's just very convenient that, with his Puritanical sensibilities, the HOB would give him a case o' the vapors, bless his heart! ;-/

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  17. JCF - I never thought to interpret the quote from ABp Orombi's address in the way you suggect is possible. You suggest a very unlikely interpretation for 3 reasons: firstly in the quote the immediate precedent of the pronoun "he" is God, not Orombi, which logically means that the pronoun refers back to God, otherwise it is bad grammar; and secondly, if this is a quote of ABp Orombi's direct speech then surely he would have used the 1st person personal pronoun if he intended to mean that he himself was going to not let this sin go unpunished; and thirdly, neither ABp Orombi, nor any other human being for that matter, has the power to rain fire and brimstone down from heaven.

    And CB: I am not aware that there is any difference in the way God operates between the O/T and the N/T. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has always punished evil and shown grace as He wills to whomever He chooses, and continually demonstrated His love to His people and faithfulness to His promises.

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  18. Anonymous - Your statement that Mark "injects Orombi's statements as if they where from his "What Is Anglicanism?" address - Is wrong.

    Mark clearly states AFTER his summary of the address that Orombi's statement is from a "recent article." Too bad it was not clear enough for you. Perhaps, reading more carefully before you comment would help.

    Also, while the article linked is in Lifesite you may read the original reporting down by a Uganda journalist in Uganda.

    http://newvision.co.ug/D/8/17/563990

    And while your at it, please check out Virtueonline, allafrica, and worldprayeronline - who also thought it was worth carrying on their sites.

    Orombi "was preaching at Iyolwa sub-county in Tororo on Friday during a one-week tour of Bukedi Diocese. The diocese covers Busia, Pallisa, Butaleja, Tororo and Budaka districts."

    The Internet has changed the world. For the better. But not enough to prevent those who seek to see evil from finding it, even where it does not exist.

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  19. Am I the only British person to think "Why on earth did we take Anglicanism to Africa?" There's some point in English people having taken their religion with them to the countries where they settled in large numbers, but none at all in having taken our religious divisions, founded in the Tudor development of the Kingdom, to societies which share nothing but a short colonial history with us. How can we let them prescribe what is appropriate for our mission here? If we are reach out to a British society which marries gay couples perfectly happily, then we have to be able to bless and model good gay relationships in our churches. It's ridiculous to tie ourselves in such knots trying to keep the Africans on board: let then go their own way, and allow us to minister to our own society properly.

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  20. I think a crucial statement in +Orombi’s article is the following:
    “In the current Anglican crisis, we are at risk of losing our biblical foundation. As bishops, we are constrained, in the words of the 1662 Ordinal, ‘to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word,’ and we are determined ‘out of the same Holy Scriptures to instruct the people committed to [our] charge and to teach or maintain nothing, as necessary to eternal salvation, but that which [we] shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the same’ ”
    As a bishop, his is the measure of orthodoxy. His hermeneutics and exegesis prevail. He would have no need of Tanzania’s hermeneutics project. Orthodoxy is not a matter for theologians, the common clergy or the laity. If this is the case, he would have no problem with a polity based on the authority of the episcopacy …. Ultimate control resting in the hands of the primates would not pose a problem and would seem a natural progression of things.
    The measure of compliance for TEC and New Westminster, again, is not Windsor. The measure of compliance is the CAPA “Road to Lambeth” document.
    In Nigeria, the bishops report to +Akinola. It would appear that he then would have ultimate control over who attends Lambeth or not. I do not know about Uganda, if +Orombi can or can not control what his individual bishops do.

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  21. The Rt. Rev. Trevor Mwamba interview here - the world is filled with a spirit of fear - the church should be about bringing a spirit of love to the world. Reconciliation is the church's calling.

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  22. As a fellow blogger on these sort of matters, I have two questions to ask you, Mark.
    1)How did you get hold of this so quickly when I've only just been sent it?
    2)How did you get hold of a photograph of the geezer smiling? They're as rare as hen's teeth. Perhaps somebody had just fallen over or something.

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  23. With respect to several commenters here, I don't see this communication from Archbishop Orombi as an attempt to push the Communion into a more rigid disciplinary structure.

    On the contrary, Archbishop Orombi seems clearly to be making it up as he goes along. He is taking an anarchic and subjective approach to authority rather than a curial or magisterial one.

    For example: "The Road to Lambeth" was indeed drafted for a group of African provinces, but it was not accepted by them. In fact, it was publicly and strenuously rejected by a number of their Primates. Yet for Archbishop Orombi, this draft document, never formally accepted, trumps the Windsor Report and any other agreement by the whole Communion.

    He himself agreed a deadline of September 30th for the Episcopal Church to accept the terms of the Primates' Communique. Though it is not yet the middle of July, he has now unilaterally voided this deadline, declaring that it has already passed.

    He says that he is not withdrawing from "the instruments of communion" (whatever he may take them to be) but he is refusing to attend Lambeth or to do the work he had agreed to do as a member of the Primates' Standing Committee.

    One of the most important things an Anglican Covenant could do -- ought to do -- is prevent this sort of freelancing by Primates. At present, individual Primates, such as ++Orombi, seem to believe that they can define their authority and their Communion membership themselves, making it whatever they wish it to be that day. They feel free to void or ignore Communion-wide agreements at any time, unilaterally, and with impunity.

    However, if (for example) the Covenant clearly stated that actions like Archbishop Orombi's did represent withdrawal from the Anglican Communion, then the Archbishop's subjective (and, may I say, rather idiosyncratic) interpretation of his Communion status would not be able to stand.

    That would be clear progress, I think.

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  24. Is anyone else struck by the publication of this article in First Things? While the editor and many of the readers would agree with Archbishop Orombi, at least on the issues troubling the Anglican Communion, few would recognize him as an actual archbishop, instead of simply an administrative functionary of a "defective ecclesial community."

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