~ 26 October 2004 ~

To Each His Own — Theology?

It’s more than understandable why African bishops in the Anglican Church would want to distance themselves from those in America and the rest of the world—where homosexual unions have been celebrated. The African bishops are uncomfortable with such practice in the church, and some are now seeking to develop a separate theology:

The global Anglican church is deeply divided over same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay priests, with Akinola leading a conservative African church that is highly critical of dioceses condoning them.

“The Western world is embroiled in a new religion which we cannot associate ourselves with,” said Akinola, who is also the continental chair of the Anglican bishops. “We have to find ways of developing our own theology.”

While the African churches should be applauded for realizing that a “new religion” is afoot in the rest of the world, they should be cautious as to which footing they take their stand on.

Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola cites a disturbing rationale for breaking with the mainstream Anglican theology—it doesn’t jive with African culture:

“Men and men are cohabiting, which is taboo in African culture,” he said.

Isn’t this the same reasoning (overtly or not) that the American Episcopal church is using to justify its acceptance of homosexuality? The culture approves, therefore so must the church. The bishops of Africa need to reevaluate statements such as this:

“Our effort is to recapture our own needs as Africans, so that the church reflects the presence of the Lord as we understand Him,” Bishop Joe Seoka of Pretoria, South Africa, said.

Basing theology on ever-changing cultural standards is a recipe for disaster. Christ transcends cultural bounds, and his word lasts longer than any cultural norm. While a move away from the perverted Christianity of the larger Anglican church is a good one, African bishops should seek to anchor their theology on the Bible, not on what Africans think they need. If they’re not careful, they’ll end up at the same place they’re trying to get away from.

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