Phil Groves and Angharad Parry Jones
Church Times Bookshop £9 (Use code CT656
THE 2008 Lambeth Conference was different. Out went the
quasi-parliamentary and potentially adversarial procedures that
still dominate our own synodical processes, although we, too, are
now learning that there are other and better ways to govern a
Church. In came new ways for people to meet, talk, and - if they
had the courage - face differences, and even conflict. Some of
these ways came from other cultures, and especially the concept of
Indaba, "gathering for purposeful discussion", from Southern
This book traces the Continuing Indaba journeys taken by some
Anglican Churches, now reinforced by the emphasis on reconciliation
that Archbishop Justin has placed at the centre of his ministry.
The authors are two staff members of the Anglican Communion Office.
They write well, at times beautifully, interweaving the experience
of cross-cultural meetings with considering how the New Testament
addresses similar issues of diversity and conflict. Each chapter
concludes with questions for individual or group study.
The authors suggest that the Christian search for reconciliation
must encompass trusting in God rather than old securities; seeing
others as companions on a journey, rather than as enemies or
antagonists; valuing people who are different, especially when
there is inequality of status; taking risks; facing up to the
reality of conflict, and, it is hoped, transforming it, learning to
see others and ourselves in new ways.
This book will not be without its critics. They will include
more conservative readers who would restrict reconciliation, and
its roots in scripture, to the individual's relationship with
Christ. Others from both conservative and liberal positions will be
anxious that (their) truth is being over-ridden in the pursuit of
unity, and that honouring of others who also claim to be "in
Christ" should not take priority over addressing either injustice
(imprisoning gay people in Africa) or heresy (accepting gay
marriage in North America).
More generally, some of us will worry that Christian ethics is
increasingly presented as the product of personal discipleship,
which, though leading to significant public statements on
contemporary issues, especially by our two Archbishops, ultimately
weakens our ability to speak to society as a whole.
Nevertheless, in a world in which people either retreat into the
comfort of their own certainties, or seek to force those
certainties on to others, Christians need to be practising and
proclaiming the reconciliation that we see in Christ. And, dare we
say, despite our recent history, Anglicanism ought to be at the
forefront of this endeavour.
The Rt Revd Michael Doe is Preacher to Gray's Inn, and a
former General Secretary of USPG (now Us.).