BRITISH DOMINANCE of the Anglican Communion is a thing of the past, says the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Revd Henry Orombi. The “younger Churches” will shape what it means to be Anglican, the Archbishop writes in a lengthy essay, “What is Anglicanism?” for the American journal First Things.
Contemporary Anglicans are in danger of confusing doctrine and discipline, he writes. The “long season of British hegemony is over”, and Anglican Churches around the world have ended “the assumption that Anglican belief and practice must be clothed in historic British culture”.
The Church of Uganda is built on the three pillars of its martyrs, the East Africa revival of the 1930s, and the historic episcopate, each of which “refers back to the Word of God”, the Archbishop says. “We in the Church of Uganda are convinced that scripture must be reasserted as the central authority in our Communion.”
The Bible, he argues, “cannot appear to us a cadaver, merely to be dissected, analysed, and critiqued, as has been the practice of much biblical criticism.”
Archbishop Orombi praises the Anglican Evangelicals “who brought us the legacy of the Protestant Reformation in England”: “As the light of the gospel continues to dim in the Western world, are we not betraying our founding fathers and the Reformation faith for which they died?”
Missionaries and other church leaders had resisted revival because it had challenged the status quo of nominal Anglicanism, he suggests. “We would not be facing the crisis in the Anglican Communion if we had upheld the basic Reformation convictions about holy scripture. . . The insistence from some Anglican circles (mostly in the Western world) on esoteric interpretations of scripture borders on incipient Gnosticism that has no place in historic or global Anglicanism.”
The future of Anglicanism lies in a revival of key Reformation and Evangelical principles, and the instruments of communion need to find a way to serve that vision, says the Archbishop. Describing Lambeth resolutions as “flagrantly defied and even mocked”, he says that the Primates “worked hard in recent years to find consensus. . . Yet some provinces have not taken our communiqués seriously, and the Primates, as an instrument of communion, have been scorned.”
Archbishop Orombi was one of the seven Primates who refused to receive holy communion with Bishop Jefferts Schori at the Primates’ Meeting in February. As a member of the Primates’ standing committee, he has been invited to the US Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops meeting in September, which the Archbishop of Canterbury is due to attend.
Archbishop Orombi writes that he has informed Dr Williams that he will not be attending. He also reiterates the Church of Uganda’s intention of boycotting the Lambeth Conference: “If the present invitations stand, I do not expect the Ugandan bishops to attend.”