Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi: "What is Anglicanism?"

The current issue of First Things, contains a compelling article by Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, entitled, "What is Anglicanism?" In it, he rehearses some of the history of the Anglican Church in Uganda, which he says is based on "three pillars: martyrs, revival, and the historic episcopate."

It would be easy to dismiss Archbishop Orombi's comments as being a natural reflection of the state of Uganda's relatively young church. But that would be a mistake. "Martyrdom," the commitment to love and confess the Gospel, even at the cost of one's life, lies at the heart of Ugandan Christian identity. But it is also incumbent on every Christian. As theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "The cross is laid on every Christian... When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."

"Revival" speaks of the need for the Church continually to be refreshed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The lesson that we can and must learn from the African Church is that revival is not an option for the Church, but an ongoing necessity.

Regarding the "historic episcopate" Orombi says, "More than a simple unbroken line of consecrations, we are to be apostolic in nature: faithful to the apostolic message, submitted to apostolic authority in Scripture, committed to apostolic mission and ministry, and devoted to apostolic worship."

I have often said that encountering the Church in the Global South is like stepping into the pages of the Acts of the Apostles. Anyone who reads Orombi's article will see what I mean.

I pray that the Anglican world takes note of Archbishop Orombi's words--and those in the Western Church who might be otherwise inclined to disagree with Orombi need to hear them most. His words convey a powerful truth--a truth that must shape the future of Anglicanism if it is to survive.