I don’t think it is fear…

As Lambeth gears up, the Bishop of New Hampshire preached at St. Mary’s Church, Putney, in the south London-based Diocese of Southwark. There were two protestors, and one was a man in the service who attempted to shout down Bishop Robinson as he began his sermon. The following quote begins here from an ENS article entitled: Church need not be afraid, New Hampshire bishop tells Putney gathering.

Two demonstrators were also present, one carrying a placard outside the church and handing out leaflets saying the Bible prohibits homosexuality and one attempting in the church to shout down Robinson as he began his sermon.
Shouting “Repent! Repent!” the demonstrator was eventually drowned out by the congregation, which rose and sang…” He was escorted out by ushers.
“Pray for that man,” resumed Robinson, his voice shaking slightly. “Fear is a terrible thing. How sad that the Anglican Communion would threaten to tear itself apart over two men or two women who choose to make a Christian family together.”
Noting that several times in the New Testament, the words “be not afraid” and “fear not” appear, Robinson said “the Anglican Communion is going to be fine. Will it change? Probably. Is it going to be easy? Probably not.”

Here is the rub in my opinion: For the most part, this is not about fear! For some, yes, but for most I don’t buy it. For most people in this mess who oppose homosexuality it is because they believe it to be wrong – simply contrary to the will of God. If we continue to try to make their beliefs and their actions to be wholly based on fear, we are misunderstanding them.

The African Church, continued

Here is continuing description of Christianity as it is practiced in parts of Africa. I have no clue whether any Anglican Christians in Africa engage in any of this, but as I said before my hunch is that the Anglican Churches and their members in parts of Africa are influenced by these movements and practices, just as Anglicans in the West are influenced by their surrounding culture and by indigenous politics. The point, I guess, is that none of us are free of cultural influences – negatively and positively, conservatives or liberals, Evangelicals or Anglo-Catholics or Broad Church.
Dual Allegiance: Pastor jailed for using human head in occult ceremony.
Laurie Fortunak | posted 7/15/2008 08:44AM Christianity Today Online

Nigerian pastor Benjamin Ojobu and his wife, Patience, were arrested in May for allegedly using a human head in rituals for church members. The practice of using severed body parts to ensure prosperity—whether material, emotional, or spiritual—is not uncommon in West Africa. In a region where voodoo is culturally acceptable, nearly all Christians engage in some form of occult practice, according to some experts.
“One out of 10 self-named Christians in this region practices only Christianity,” says Benjamin-Lee Hegeman, a former missionary in West Africa who now teaches at Houghton College. “Some people call it syncretism, but it may be more like dual religious allegiance, where Christianity is practiced in the daytime and occult [practice] is done at night. Many of the pastors will preach from the pulpit that this type of thing is wrong, but secretly take part in it at night. There is the mentality, especially in African Initiated Churches, where the prosperity gospel is preached, that you do what you’ve got to do to get ahead. You rely on the powers available to you. You are hopeful that Christ will help, but when he can’t come through on Sunday, you may take out a different insurance policy at night.”

Read the rest.
The problem is when one grouping of us decides that the aspects of the prevailing culture that it takes upon itself or within itself (whether recognizing the influence or not) is God’s very way in opposition to other ways other groups of Christians are influenced by the culture. There is not illusion on my part that some influences are bad and contrary to God’s will for humanity and some influences are good, but we wade into troubled waters when we decide that we can definitively know the mind of God on all things right now and without opposing considerations as if we do not see through a glass darkly.
This is exactly the place Anglicanism finds itself, however. Certainly groups within us have determined that there can be no other understanding than theirs – and the group is lead by African Christians. I certainly believe they love Jesus and desire to live Christians lives, but how is the religion in their local context perceived and practiced? I can say the same about the religion of Christianity in the West… We are all wrong in various ways and to different degrees. This should be our first assumption!