Bishop Idowu-Fearon of Nigeria gave an extensive interview to the Dallas Morning News on Sunday October 14. You can read it HERE.
In that interview he said the following:
"My grandparents had practiced traditional religion before they became Christian. Now, in African traditional religion, if I had an attraction to a male person, that is considered as an abnormal thing, a spiritual problem. ...
Now, when my grandparents met the English, who introduced us to the Christian faith, they read the Bible to my grandparents, and said, look, this thing you're talking about, the Bible agrees that it's sinful. So for us, the Bible supports our pre-Christian theology. We accepted it. We became Christian. And that is why in Africa, generally, if you have an abnormal sexual orientation, you don't brag about it. ...
That's why we feel we are deceived, we have been cheated by the people the Lord Jesus Christ used to introduce us to the Scriptures, to bring us to a new faith in the Lord Jesus. They are telling us that it's not wrong after all, that it's a natural way. But we say: You are wrong; the Bible is right. So it's not just a question of human sexuality. It's about the authority of Scripture. For us, Scripture judges every culture. What I hear in the Western world is that culture judges Scripture. That's the basic difference. It's not a question of sex or no sex.
It's the same thing with the unique nature of Jesus Christ and the finality of his sacrifice. ...Today you will hear leaders of the Episcopal Church say that Jesus Christ is not the only way, and I say: 'So why are you even in the church? You should resign.'"
The Bishop argues that (i) the missionaries from England brought the bible and specifically about the matter of homosexual relationships showed his grandparents that their pre-Christian beliefs were in agreement with the Bibile that such relations are sinful and that somehow this became part of the reason his grandparents became Christian. He then argues that (ii) the people the Lord Jesus Christ used to bring them the Scriptures are cheating them. They are taking back what they said. And then he brings forward the summation of the matter, (iii) "For us, Scripture judges every culture. What I hear in the Western world is that culture judges Scripture. That's the basic difference. It's not a question of sex or no sex."
His grandparents seemed to judge the English and their Holy Scripture by the extent to which the Scriptures fit their culture. It appears the English used this as an appeal. Now that later English Christians have stepped back from this appeal, namely that the Scripture supports what the culture believes, the Bishop views this as robbery.
He spills the beans. He does not believe that "Scripture judges every culture," not if he allows that his grandparents accepted the Scripture because it confirmed its already present attitudes towards "abnormal" relationships between men. That is a clear instance of accepting Christianity because it "fit" the culture.
I was struck by this statement from the Bishop, reflecting on interreligious violence in his diocese and region: "It's cost us thousands of lives – unnecessarily, wasteful death, millions of dollars worth of property, as a result of the lack of respect for the other person who believes in God in a different way. (emphasis mine) And yet earlier in the same interview he also said, "Today you will hear leaders of the Episcopal Church say that Jesus Christ is not the only way, and I say: "So why are you even in the church? You should resign." "ReplyDelete
So, if Bishop Idowu-Fearon can recognize God in the worship of others in his own context, how can he criticize his American colleagues for recognizing God in the worship of others in their own contexts? Have some Episcopalians, including some bishops, seen God worshipped by those beyond the borders of the three Abrahamic religions? Yes; but it is still to recognize there the worship of the one God, even if that's not how the worshipper understands it. Bishop Idowu-Fearon has said no more, really, than Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, and certainly no less.
There are those among American evangelicals, including evangelical Episcopalians and disstaff Anglicans, who do not repect "the person who believes in God in a different way." Perhaps we need Bishop Idowu-Fearon to speak to them.
"Now that later English Christians have stepped back from this appeal, namely that the Scripture supports what the culture believes...."ReplyDelete
Er......just to be clear, a minority of English Christians, a minority even in the Church of England fit this description.
This bishop, the GS and even ++Akinola has no problem with most of the CofE's beliefs and practice on the presenting issues.
The Bishop has indeed protested too much. He should be thrilled that the Holy Scriptures might very well stand in judgment of pre-Christian beliefs in marginalizing sexual minorities.ReplyDelete
No one is "cheated" out of their ability to oppress those who differ (or just not listen to them, as the case may be). We are released from such things by the grace of God.
Yet the Bishop's words spoken in another context in this article actually speak very well to concerns for the Anglican Communion:ReplyDelete
"So living together is our mandate. If we refuse to acknowledge the other person, we pay for it."
For our differences in the Communion are not about "believing in the Bible" or not, but rather about how we intrepret the Holy Scriptures in the life of the Church - and whether or not "we refuse to acknowledge the other person."
I think the bishop also fabled a bit much. Consider the scenario:ReplyDelete
I am a non-Christian circa 1900. I am a member of a tribal religion. You come to my doorstep to tell me the "good news of Jesus Christ." What are the odds that we will discuss same sex attraction? What are the odds that an English evangelical missionary circa 1900 could even vocalize the concept?
Now, in Uganda, with the special case of the martyrs of Uganda, things might be a bit different, but remember those boys gave their lives to avoid rape, not to commit it. And they were the Christians.
Anywhere else in Africa, the story the bishop tells is simply not credible. If we take the general concept, that the missionaries assured the non-Christians that the church supported their concepts of good conduct, that might be another thing. But the conversation he relates? Nope.
These are some comments from Matt Kennedy on his reading of this bishop. "He is obviously, to any reader of english, (sic) not saying: The bible agrees with our cultural taboo therefore the bible is right, but had it not agreed the bible would be wrong.ReplyDelete
Obviously he is saying that because the bible agreed with this aspect his culture it was readily acceptable whereas others were more difficult. This statement does not at all imply that culture is the determining criterion by which truth is discerned. Rather it suggests that some aspects of biblical truth are more amenable than others. The same is true in every culture. The question is, do we take those difficult bits and rationalize them away?"
I disagree with Kennedy's view of the statement but I wonder if anybody else read the bishop's statement this way? EmilyH
Based on your quote of his writing here, I think Father Kennedy might be trying to explain away too much:
Kennedy: "Obviously he is saying that because the bible agreed with this aspect his culture it was readily acceptable whereas others were more difficult. This statement does not at all imply that culture is the determining criterion by which truth is discerned."
This appears to me - obviously - to be a contradiction. That "this aspect" played a key role - as the Bishop himself asserts, whether correctly or incorrectly - indicates that culture is/was firmly among the determining criteria by which truth is/was discerned.
However, Father Kennedy might simply be trying to say that the process of discernment involved more than just one aspect of culture, in which case he is likely correct. Imagine an entire group or community of people basing their religious discernment on one issue of sexuality - how very unlikely!
Thank you for posting this.ReplyDelete
I think you are all taking the Bishop Fearon's interview out of context. It is perfidious for anyone to insinuate that Bishop Fearon was preaching a case of the scripture fitting the culture. Homosexalism is a sickness that has to be cured, but the western world have conveniently come up with the attitude of avoiding responsibility by calling anything they do not want to address a medical term,. This is wrong and eventhough the truth is bitter , we must say it as it isReplyDelete
Stumbled across this post, now two years later, on a google search.ReplyDelete
Your analysis leaves something to be desired. The bishop's statements, loosely strung together in an oral interview, are not an argument, built point-by-point in the way you suggest. Thus they cannot be made to say the things you claim.