The world needs to understand that the situation that we now confront is not primarily about structure or conferences but about irreconcilable truth claims. It is worth remembering that in the Biblical narratives religious structures have often been the enemy of revealed truth. When these structures become obstacles, YHWH, in his own way and at a time of his own choosing removed them and brought His people back to Himself. Of course there is value to preserving Anglican structures but we must never do so at the expense of the people for whom our Lord Jesus the Christ gave his life.

Until the Communion summons the courage to tackle that issue headlong and resolve it we can do no other than provide for those who cry out to us. It is our earnest prayer that repentance and reconciliation will make this a temporary arrangement. One thing is clear we will not abandon our friends.

When we met in Dar es Salaam, after a great deal of effort, we suggested a way forward that had the support of all those present ”“ including the Presiding Bishop of TEC. The House of Bishops and Executive Committee of The Episcopal Church quickly rejected this proposal on the grounds that it apparently violated their canons. We now have a counter proposal from TEC and yet there is no indication that it will meet the needs of those for whom it is supposedly designed. This endless series of proposals and counter proposals continues with no apparent conclusion in sight. Sadly, it is becoming increasingly clear that the only acceptable end as far as TEC is concerned is the full capitulation of any who would stand in opposition to their biblically incompatible innovations- this we will never do. There is a way forward – we have written and spoken repeatedly about it ”“ the time for action is now.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

41 comments on “Peter Akinola: AN OPEN LETTER TO MY FELLOW PRIMATES

  1. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Clear, concise, definite. What a bishop!

  2. Charley says:

    He’s keeping up the pressure. That’s good.

  3. Rick Killough says:

    Let’s end this misery before Christmas with a meaningful meeting of the Primates.

  4. Virgil in Tacoma says:

    This is a letter I would give my logic students to analyze for fallacies of logic: tu quoque (and other ad hominems), circular reasoning, argument by coercion, ad populum, etc.

  5. azusa says:

    #4: Yes, teaching by personal example is always the best way! (Tu quoque, amice mi!)

  6. Br_er Rabbit says:

    Until [strike]the Communion[/strike] [u]Archbishop Rowan Williams[/u] summons the courage to tackle that issue headlong and resolve it we can do no other than provide for those who cry out to us.

  7. Clueless says:

    Wow. 490 years after Luther initiated the Reformation. . .Seventy times seven years after the break up of the One True, Holy, and Catholic Church.

    Does it make anybody else think of Mathew 18? “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

    And now, that the Bible is translated into every tongue, and the Catholic structures that prevented effective evangelization 500 years ago have been eradicated, I wonder indeed if YHWH, who as +Akinola points out is known for, “in his own way and at a time of his own choosing” removing such “structures”, may be bringing his people home.

  8. TonyinCNY says:

    It should be said over and over again when pecusa claims polity issues that GC06 was directed to deal with these issues and didn’t do it. The rest of pecusa’s machinations is smoke and mirrors.

  9. Cennydd says:

    Well said, indeed, Tony!

  10. Little Cabbage says:

    #6 LOL!! Thanks for the concise analysis, you are right on!!

  11. Ed the Roman says:

    Yes, they prevented evangelization so well that about one in six alive today are in communion with Peter’s successor. 🙂

  12. Dale Rye says:

    As the Global South communique that inspired this letter suggests, “Sadly, it is becoming increasingly clear that the only acceptable end as far as” the Global South “is concerned is the full capitulation of any who would stand in opposition to their” ecclesiological “innovations.” An irresistible force has encountered an immovable object, with the rest of the Anglican Communion caught between the millstones.

    I suggested right after the Windsor Report came out that reasserters would [i]almost[/i] inevitably end up in control of the Anglican Communion; all they had to do was let the Windsor process work itself out and abstain from taking actions that would destroy the Communion beforehand. I still think that was true. However, they did not abstain, and I now see no human way to avoid propagating the North American schism so widely that none of the resulting fragments resemble historic Anglicanism. We can still hope for a miracle of God’s grace, of course.

  13. Philip Snyder says:

    Dale – which is worse, an innovation in the essentials of the faith or an innovation in the polity of the Church? Had TECUSA not changed the substance of the Faith, then the Global South would not have seen it necessary to change the polity of the Anglican Communion. I agree that reasserters (including the Global South, but especially the US reasserters) need more patience, but so do the reappraisers. Why was it so important to press the issue [b]now[/b]? Why not wait until we had done (and the majority of the Anglican Communion had accepted) the necessary theological and scriptural work?

    Phil Snyder

  14. libraryjim says:

    [i]And now, that the Bible is translated into every tongue, [/i]

    not quite. According to [url=]Christianity Today[/url]:

    [blockquote]The total number of languages in which the Bible is available in part or in its entirety now stands at 2233. But this is still barely more than one third of the estimated 6500 living languages in the world.[/blockquote]

    So: still a ways to go.

  15. Dale Rye says:

    Re #13: I am not willing to accept a dichotomy between “the essentials of the faith” and “the polity of the Church.” For me, and for most Christians in the past couple of millennia, the polity of the Church has been the only guarantor of the essentials of the Faith against idiosyncratic readings of the Gospel by individuals who are convinced that only they can read the plain meaning of Scripture. Both reappraisers and reasserters in the current crisis have been willing to forget all that and prefer their private judgment for the collective reason ([i]Logos[/i]) of the Body of Christ.

    I agree completely that both sides were equally impatient and equally unwilling to let the normal Anglican process of collective discernment work itself out. However, the result of the reappraiser impatience (absent the other party it takes to have a fight) would have been to marginalize them from the global Anglican community and–I suspect–eventually to lead them out of that community. Once they were gone, North American Anglicans would have had a free field to establish their own provincial structures in coordination with the Instruments of Communion and all the other remaining provinces.

    Back when the Windsor Report came out, unilateral recalcitrance by the US and Canada would not have gotten wide support anywhere else in the Communion (except perhaps Scotland and the [i]pakeka[/i] strand in New Zealand). Even in England, Ireland, Southern Africa, Brazil, Mexico, and the like, solidarity with the Communion would (I think) have prevailed over sympathy for the American position. Everybody recognized the Windsor process as the only game in town for saving the Communion in some recognizable form. So, if TEC had not been willing to play that game, it would eventually have been politely asked to take its toys and go home. The rest of the Communion, including the remaining North American Anglicans, could likely have held their act together.

    That isn’t what happened. Instead, reasserters in the US and the Global South decided that the Windsor process was too slow, so they decided to ignore it just like TEC had. Those who urged patience and adherence to process were treated as collaborators who should be shunned as rigorously as the hardcore reappraisers. Synodical structures for the Communion that were first called for in 1867 and that have actually been coming into existence over the past two or three decades have been scrapped in favor of top-down decisionmaking and unilateralism. Doctrines of the Church that go back to at least the third century have been scrapped in favor of letting everybody do whatever their private judgment allows.

    The 38 Anglican provinces and 6 extra-provincial churches are now being presented with the stark choice of leaving or submitting to an outside authority (American or Global South) that is dominated by persons who have shown no respect for due process or collective discernment. The moderate provinces have to ask themselves what issues might be used to justify intervention in their internal governance in the future after they have surrendered the ability to defend themselves. As the Borg in [i]Star Trek[/i] put it, “Surrender and be assimilated. Resistance is futile!”

    At least the current Communion had a balance-of-power between the American reappraisers and the Global South reasserters that left moderate churches with the same comparative freedom as the nonaligned nations during the Cold War. That freedom is now gone and moderate provinces, dioceses, parishes, and individuals are being forced to choose between two systems equally dedicated to hegemony and forced uniformity (just as moderate Muslims see themselves as being pressed between Al-Qaeda and the Bush Administration). Whichever they choose, there will be a substantial minority that the other side of the global conflict will encourage into schism. There is no good outcome for all this.

  16. Larry Morse says:

    It is gratifyiing to see that someone is not paralyzed with the Prufrock Syndrome. Oh, that we and the ABC had the same will and power to act! LM

  17. pendennis88 says:

    #12 said:
    [blockquote] I suggested right after the Windsor Report came out that reasserters would almost inevitably end up in control of the Anglican Communion; all they had to do was let the Windsor process work itself out and abstain from taking actions that would destroy the Communion beforehand. [/blockquote]
    Sorry, I never bought that the immoveable object leaving the field to the irresistible force would mean that the irresistible force would not force its way. If not for the actions of the global south, I don’t think there would be a Windsor Report, a Dromantine Communique, a DES Communique, or a draft Covenant even to be talking about. And if the global south did not stand up, it seemed to me, the institutionalists at Lambeth and TEC, in financial control of the levers of power, would inevitably make their revisionist position prevail.

    In any event, what are these terrible actions of the global south? The principal actions of the global south to date have been merely to provide protection to the orthodox in the US who would otherwise be pushed out of TEC. The rest has been discussion – so far. It is TEC that prefers to destroy the communion rather than to have allowed any real protection to the orhodox. And it is unreasonable to expect orthodox parishes and clergy to wait until the work is all done when their parishes will no longer exist by that time. That is the dilemma that the ACI has never able to adequately address.

    “No human way to avoid propagating the North American schism?” How about an amicable separation in the US, or TEC bishops disinvited from Lambeth? And then we will have time to “let the Windsor process work itself out” with all the bishops at Lambeth. It is too bad that I don’t at this point imagine either the ABC taking a stand which makes a demand of TEC or TEC deciding to let go of its scorched earth strategy, but miracles could happen.

  18. Larry Morse says:

    As to Dale’s last, there is a good outcome. TEC will be left to wither and die on the vine and the AC will leave them to rot. If there are further fractures, then let them happen. This is in every way better than a ersatz unity based on an inability to act, a failure of courage,on waffling and indecision, on temporising and qualifying and discerning and listening and endless demands for patience and more patience when patience is merely a mask for Prufrockitis. We HAVE been patient, for years and years, in fact. Now it is time to act, and Akinola is showing us the way, – we, who have no courage in us. The demand for patience is now the soft obstruction, the mud that clogs the wheels, the sand that buries the tires. LM

  19. DonGander says:

    15. Dale Rye:

    I think the foundations of your error is in your statement;

    “That freedom is now gone and moderate provinces, dioceses, parishes, and individuals are being forced to choose between two systems equally dedicated to hegemony and forced uniformity”

    First, I don’t think the two sides in Anglicanism are equally dedicated to hegemony. Logically it is even highly unlikely that what you say is a true statement. In addition to that, to me it is impossible to equate the two sides’ goals. And if my observation is true then “individuals are being forced to choose between two systems” is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, as God never called us to be “moderate” in Kingdom goals, it is possible that the moderates are in the greatest error. So, “individuals…being forced to choose between two systems” is a good thing.

    The Reverend Akinola must have concluded such. God bless him!

  20. Clueless says:

    #11 The Council of Trent had it occured sooner, would, I think, have made the Reformation unnecessary. However it is unlikely that the Catholic church would have encouraged biblical literacy as effectively as the Protestant church did. For all damage that the Reformation did, that was an immense blessing and service we owe our Protestant brothers.

  21. tired says:

    IMHO, reasserters have complied with the WR [i]as modified by the DC.[/i] The WR was never received and approved in its unmodified state. The DC commitment neither to encourage nor initiate oversight was for the period when the PoR provided effective supervision of “the adequacy of pastoral provisions,” as a matter of urgency.

    Of course, the PoR was late to form and never effective as a body, due in part to its appointed members, its lack of authority from the ABC, and the scope of its charge. (Who had the most control over that?)

    At any rate, the DES communique was produced by the conciliar primatial consideration of the (somewhat questionable) WG’s report to the primates of TEC’s response to request for clarifications re: the WR. All primates signed on to the DES communique – showing agreement. If cross provincial oversight had somehow impaired the ABC’s freedom to act in accordance with this conciliar document, he should not have agreed to it.

    Then the HoB rejected a portion of the DES last spring.

    Now it appears that a visible companion to TEC’s resistance to the established process is the ABC, who ushered in the WG report, preempted the DES Communique by early invitations this summer, and his apparent ‘revision’ of the DES Communique’s contents and meaning. Of course, this fall the HoB equivocated in the remainder of its response – for a net rejection – regardless of the ‘innovative’ role of the JSC.

    All this is in the context of the request of the primates for such a report: “We ask him now to establish such a commission, but that its remit be extended to include urgent and deep theological and legal reflection on the way in which the dangers we have identified at this meeting will have to be addressed.” 2003 Primates Meeting. One can only conclude that the ABC was unhappy with how the various reports have been received and the final form of the conciliar communiques. He has not acted in unqualified support of conciliar means.

    It is a bit difficult for me to understand how the continued exercise of cross provincial oversight has somehow impaired the ABC’s freedom to act in accordance with the conciliar documents produced by the primates. I simply do not see the causation, nor the logic.

  22. dpeirce says:

    #15, I’d be interested in your demonstrating how ++Akinola is scripturally wrong in what he’s doing.

    And, should we follow expediency or scripture? *Shouldn’t* we be forced to choose between right and wrong?

    In faith, Dave
    Viva Texas <><

  23. Alta Californian says:

    Dale, I don’t agree with you on a lot of things, but I think your assessment is not far off. There are quite a few reasserting folks who feel the GS and the ACN have mishandled this entire situation. The rhetoric and mistrust on both sides has gotten out of control.

    DonGander, “moderate” is an overworked and over-abused term. Just because one feels caught between the extremes of TEC liberalism and GS rhetoric doesn’t mean one is uncommitted or unpassionate about the Gospel (or even the reasserter cause). I do wish you wouldn’t assume that. I for one detest the liberal slide of TEC into heresy. But that doesn’t mean I agree with the way the Primates or the ACN are handling matters (witness the FedCom/ComCon divide). As a fellow reasserter, I find arguments such as yours tiresome and disheartening.

  24. Dale Rye says:

    #22, You are missing my primary point, which is that nobody acting as an individual can definitively demonstrate scriptural conformity. It is simply not up to me, or even to Abp. Akinola, to unilaterally determine whether what he is doing is scripturally wrong. That is a decision for the Church as a corporate body to make. Allowing each of us to individually define orthodoxy is basically a contradiction in terms, because to be orthodox is to believe what the Church believes.

    It takes a long time for Anglicans to make such decisions because of the historic structure of Anglicanism as having highly dispersed authority. We have multiple national churches with complex synodical governments that may not meet even biannually, coordinated by four distinct Instruments that have historically had only consultative powers. Changing from that to a unitary international church or even to a federation with a strong central authority requires the unanimous consent of everybody who will opt into the new structure. That hasn’t happened yet.

    It may happen (and probably will if the Communion stays together), but for Abp. Akinola to anticipate the decision by acting now is wrong. It is as wrong as the Robinson consecration and the first American ordinations of women. Whether or not they are “scripturally wrong,” they are wrong because they tear the bonds of affection that have been all that held Anglicans together. Once that centripetal force has been removed, the centrifugal forces of our diversity will inevitably tear us apart.

    Once we admit the notion that a province or a diocese or a bishop or a congregation can exercise their private judgment about what is or is not scripturally wrong and can impose it on others against their will and without a definitive judgment by the Church, we have sold the farm so far as orthodoxy goes. If private judgment trumps collective discernment, there is no way to determine what the Church believes and hence no way to prove or disprove a person, belief, or action’s orthodoxy. Following one’s own private interpretation of scripture [b]is[/b] expediency, and making important decisions that way is wrong, whatever decision one might substantively reach.

  25. dpeirce says:

    #24: said “…the polity of the Church has been the only guarantor of the essentials of the Faith …to be orthodox is to believe what the Church believes” (combined from posts #15 and #24).

    Guess I’m really confused ^_^. So believing what the Episcopal Church believes is orthodoxy, and spiritual safety, and the Episcopal Church is the best guarantee that my faith is like that of the Fathers?

    Actually, I’m no longer Episcopal. I believed in the Episcopal Church for 51 years; then I discovered my grandkids had been taught things in Sunday school which denied the authority of scripture and cast doubt on the direct words of the Bible inspired by God. When I asked my pastor about it, he responded by trying to convince me that major portions of scripture were flat wrong and needed for *US* to correct them. At that point I could have exhibited patience and trust in the polity and discerning procedures of TEC… or I could have got my grandkids amd me the heck out of there. It was either an individual decision to be made immediately or a corporate decision to be made whenever the corporate body could get its ducks lined up.

    It was my private judgement that TEC was scripturally wrong and showed absolutely no signs of ever changing. Therefore, I shook TEC’s dust off my sandals, and those of my grandkids, and we got the heck out of there.

    I can’t see TEC as the guarantor of anybody’s faith. And that’s an individual private judgement.

    I’m now Catholic, and understand full well how the Church can be the place of safety among Satan’s wolves, and how obedience and submission to the Corporate Body is protective. But I’ve got an orthodox Church to work with and that makes all the difference.

    In faith, Dave
    Viva Texas <><

  26. robroy says:

    I am so happy that I am standing with the likes of the scripturally sound, faithful, and godly ABp Akinola. I would be so distressed if I had, “A way, not The way” Schori or the lying Bruno or the pandering Andrus as leaders. One has to feel sorry for the poor revisionists.

    Thank you, ABp Akinola!

  27. Br. Michael says:

    Dale, you give institutional loyalty rather than loyalty to Christ. At some point the institution becomes so corrupt that it can never reach the right result. You appear to value the institution and the process that can never arrive at the right result over the right result. Good political democracy. But the Church is not a democracy and some things are never up for vote.

  28. Bob from Boone says:

    #4, I agree with your list of logical fallacies in ++A’s letter. Add to it a great deal of denial and projection.

  29. dpeirce says:

    Me, I’m so glad there’s some one in the Anglican Communion capable of taking this kind of leadership. God Bless ++Akinola.

    In faith, Dave
    Viva Texas <><

  30. Brian from T19 says:

    ++Akinola is buying into the cult of personality he has built around himself. Now he thinks he can just take over the Anglican Communion. Let’s hope his megalomania works as well for him as ir did with CAN.

  31. dpeirce says:

    Me, I’m so glad there’s some one in the Anglican Communion capable of taking this kind of leadership. God Bless ++Akinola.

    In faith, Dave
    Viva Texas <><

  32. Marcus says:

    #27, your argument might be valid for a non-conformist church, where individual discernment is a central tenet. The Anglican Church has never held to that, and has always accepted collective authority (though has always been very hesitant about when to use it).

    You say, [i]” But the Church is not a democracy and some things are never up for vote.”[/i]

    Historically, this is simply untrue. The absolutely basic beliefs which we hold – those of the Trinity, of the Nature of Christ, etc, were decided at Å’cumenical Councils by a majority of the bishops present – by votes, guided by the Holy Ghost.

    This doesn’t mean councils can’t err – as Article 21 makes clear, “when they be gathered together, forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and word of God, they may err and sometime have erred, even in things pertaining to God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture.” Which is lucky, given how many Arian councils there were in the mid 4th century…

    But overall, it is not up to us, as individuals, to storm out of the Church. Work within it against the prevailing majority? Yes! Allow the Holy Ghost to move men’s hearts? Yes! Declare, “I’m putting my analysis of Christ before the Institution”? No.

  33. D. C. Toedt says:

    Marcus [#27], if we’re going to demand that people be individually accountable for their actions — and that is indeed a central tenet of modern Western culture, especially since the Nuremberg trials — we necessarily have to put up with a certain amount of individual discernment. I don’t see how you can have one without the other.

  34. Br. Michael says:

    32, I disagree. Are you actually willing to give the TEC a blank check? Is there not some point where you would say that’s going too far? You may reach that point soon enough as the orthodox leave.

  35. Marcus says:

    # 34 There is a world of difference between working within the framework of a national and international church and “writing the TEC a blank cheque”. I am surprised at the degree to which you don’t think the Holy Ghost can move hearts and minds – He has done in the past and He will do again. Who knows… it might be our hearts which need to be melted…

    What concerns me is that you seem prepared just to write off everyone you disagree with and storm into a Church made up only of those with whom you agree. It’s not a very edifying spectacle.

  36. dpeirce says:

    Marcus, #36, The Holy Spirit can change hearts and minds; he can also put them out into the desert for 40 years or into exile for 70 years. I wonder if the Episcopal Church is being worked with or exiled. But, with grandkids inviolved (#25), and under the mentorship of a pastor who wants to rewrite scripture, I don’t want to join him where ever he is – in the desert or in exile. You ride that horse if you want; I’ll get off.

    One has to live in the world where he finds himself… not in an ideal world which doesn’t exist. I have faith in the Spirit so I obeyed him the best I could understand him and left TEC.

    In faith, Dave
    Viva Texas <><

  37. Br. Michael says:

    Well, Marcus, all I can say is, “Have fun!” The Holy Ghost can indeed change a church. But I don’t have to be a member of it. Why don’t you write the PB and get her to change course. I’m sure she will listen.

  38. jamesw says:

    #24 – Dale – part of your problem is that the issue at stake “homosexuality” has already been dealt with and decided by the whole Church (catholic) and the Anglican Communion. By its actions in 2003, TEC has explicitly violated settled Church teaching. We weren’t starting from a blank slate.

    So Akinola is not claiming a personal right to judge TEC’s actions against Scripture, he is simply rasserting existing catholic and Anglican teaching.

    The issue is “what then will the Anglican Communion do in response to TEC’s heretical teaching?” On this question, things become murkier. Currently, the Instruments of Communion have broken down – or rather, one Instrument hasn’t been doing his job. In a constitutional system, if a necessary organ stops doing its job there is a constitutional crisis. If Rowan Williams would do his job (i.e. call TEC on their heresy and impose the discipline that is his to impose) there would be no crisis.

  39. Dale Rye says:

    Re #38: Everybody seems to agree that homosexuality is [i]not[/i] “the issue at stake,” but rather faithfulness to the call of God in Scripture and through the Holy Spirit. The decision whether the current stance of TEC (as an institution, not just its most radical members) falls outside the bounds of faithfulness is one for the Church as a whole—in this context, the Anglican Communion as a whole acting though its Instruments of Unity and its member churches—to determine. It is not a matter for you, me, or Abp. Akinola to determine unilaterally.

    Abp. Akinola is acting upon his personal adjudication of TEC’s collective heresy, not on any formal finding by the Anglican Communion. He has not bothered to ask “what then will the Anglican Communion do in response.” Instead, he, his province, and several other provinces have responded independently. I am certainly not arguing that TEC is immune from discipline, only that discipline should be exercised by the Anglican Communion as a whole after it has collectively determined what it should do in light of its mutual responsibility and interdependence in the Body of Christ.

    That simply has not happened yet, and the actions of Abps. Akinola, Venable, et al., are therefore extralegal. Vigilante “justice” is unjust, whether exercised by a lynch mob or an Anglican province. If the Communion determines that TEC is outside the pale and that its parishes and dioceses should be free to affiliate elsewhere, I can probably support that decision (spiritually, although I still think it is legally dubious). I cannot support unilateral actions that jump the gun.

  40. dpeirce says:

    Dale: Several people think you’re wrong… you think you’re right. Me, I could see plainly that TEC is apostate. That isn’t my judgement; it’s the judgement of all the scriptures and the writings of the early Fathers, and the traditional teachings of the whole Church. TEC is teaching something else than what has been taught. OK… that’s the definition of apostacy.

    Polity or institution or what… I’m not required to stick around in a situation of apostacy. ESPECIALLY I’m not required to continue risking my grandkids’ faith waiting for some kind of Communion-wide decision. I don’t have the RIGHT to do that.

    In faith, Dave
    Viva Texas <><

  41. DonGander says:

    Dale Rye:

    I’ve thought a lot about the focus of your comments and arguement; that AB Akinola is not using the best means to hold the Church accountable to God (my preci’). I think that your arguement, in normal times, for normal problems, has merit. But here we are attempting to address a situation where the heavy center of the Church has moved off the foundations of that Church and the momentum and mass is threatening to take the whole off-centered structure with it. We NEED an unusual answer to an unusual threat. IF AB Akinloa spent 10 years propping and re-inforcing that which would eventually fall in its completeness, we would then condemn him for not acting in an appropriate sense before it was too late.

    I still agree that in this instance AB Akinola, et al, are doing no less than they need to do.