Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Musings on the CSBI Part I

Discussion at the Tavern and at Jesus Creed has turned to the question of Biblical authority and inerrancy. Given the questions being asked about the presuppositions of "inerrancy" and "hermeneutics", and my own changing point of view regarding the interrelation of rationality and community, I thought it best to go to the source and see where I may still agree or disagree with it.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

Here, I will just deal with the Preface.

Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority. The following Statement affirms this inerrancy of Scripture afresh, making clear our understanding of it and warning against its denial. We are persuaded that to deny it is to set aside the witness of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit and to refuse that submission to the claims of God's own Word that marks true Christian faith


Not to deny the importance of recognizing the truth of Scripture, but I now think this is a bit hyperbolic. I detect a trace of foundationalism here - you cannot grasp and confess the Biblical authority without the foundation of an acceptance of its full truth. As for the part about "denying inerrancy = setting aside Christ's witness", that too is hyperbolic. Again, I am not denying the truthfulness of Scripture, but to place a recognition of that truth - especially as defined in inerrancy - on par with the Gospel is to make a secondary issue on par with the primary. I often sense the same mistake in Calvinist arguments about TULIP - "to deny TULIP is to deny the Gospel". I no longer buy that argument, because I no longer see the Gopsel as only a matter of theological propositions.

We acknowledge the limitations of a document prepared in a brief, intensive conference and do not propose that this Statement be given creedal weight.


Well, well, well. ;-}

We gladly acknowledge that many who deny the inerrancy of Scripture do not display the consequences of this denial in the rest of their belief and behavior, and we are conscious that we who confess this doctrine often deny it in life by failing to bring our thoughts and deeds, our traditions and habits, into true subjection to the divine Word.


So, who's to say the "sin" of denying inerrancy worse than the "sin" of being uncharitable in debate?

We invite response to this Statement from any who see reason to amend its affirmations about Scripture by the light of Scripture itself, under whose infallible authority we stand as we speak. We claim no personal infallibility for the witness we bear, and for any help that enables us to strengthen this testimony to God's Word we shall be grateful.


I don't know how much of a response this actually got, but I know I intend to take them up on this offer.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

How to Debate on the Internet

I have just been reminded of why Dilbert is one of my all-time favorite comics. I hope Dogbert doesn't revoke my DNRC membership for reposting this list here, but it's too good to pass up.

1. Turn someone’s generality into an absolute. For example, if someone makes a general statement that Americans celebrate Christmas, point out that some people are Jewish and so anyone who thinks that ALL Americans celebrate Christmas is stupid. (Bonus points for accusing the person of being anti-Semitic.)

2. Turn someone’s factual statements into implied preferences. For example, if someone mentions that not all Catholic priests are pedophiles, accuse the person who said it of siding with pedophiles.

3. Turn factual statements into implied equivalents. For example, if someone says that Ghandi didn’t eat cows, accuse the person of stupidly implying that cows deserve equal billing with Gandhi.

4. Omit key words. For example, if someone says that people can’t eat rocks, accuse the person of being stupid for suggesting that people can’t eat. Bonus points for arguing that some people CAN eat pebbles if they try hard enough.

5. Assume the dumbest interpretation. For example, if someone says that he can run a mile in 12 minutes, assume he means it happens underwater and argue that no one can hold his breath that long.

6. Hallucinate entirely different points. For example, if someone says apples grow on trees, accuse him of saying snakes have arms and then point out how stupid that is.

7. Use the intellectual laziness card. For example, if someone says that ice is cold, recommend that he take graduate courses in chemistry and meteorology before jumping to stupid conclusions that display a complete ignorance of the complexity of ice.


(HT to Amy Witt as overheard at the Tavern)

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Belated Apology

(I’m cross posting this here and at the BHT)

Well, now it’s *my* turn to do a “confessional blogpost”.

Several years ago, I got into a very heated argument with a friend of mine. At the time I was planning on dropping my (admittedly “student” level) membership in the Evangelical Theological Society, over their refusal to excommunicate Clark Pinnock for his Open Theism views. (I eventually did drop my membership, for that and other reasons.) That was only the incidental start of the argument. The point of it was that I was primarily depending on what other people in the Reformed camp had written about Pinnock’s views to reach my conclusions.

“You can’t do that!” my friend said. “You have to read what he wrote himself to draw those kinds of conclusions!” My reply was, “Look, smart and godly men who share my theology have already done that, and come to such and such conclusions. I can trust them! Why should I waste my time reinventing the wheel?!?” Neither of us ended up convining the other on that day, and I just walked away mad – and with a gnawing feeling in my gut that she just may have been right. Fortunately, feelings can be squashed for the sake of preserving one’s arguments...

And my argument sounds reasonable on the surface, does it not? I mean, after all, who has the time to read every single word that every theologian and pastor has written? And what do we have denominational theologians for, if not to examine these things by the light of Scripture (and our confessions), and draw conclusions for us? If we can’t trust the guys on our own team, who can we trust?

Well, I have come around to reconsidering this whole thing. Especially in the light of several recent incidents.

I have been shifting towards a view of the Church and its mission that dovetails with the movement identified as “the Emergent Church”. Now, I will be the first to admit that there are problems, especially with its most public and prolific spokesman, Brian McLaren. But the poor level of interaction between the Emergent movement and some theologians – men who I generally agreed with, people I trusted – astonished me. The more serious critiques and essays proffered by Emergents – fine examples can be found here and here – are barely noticed. McLaren is made out as representing what *everybody* in the Emergent movement thinks – and even his works are often taken out of context.

Then, there was the Dooyeweerd Affair. A discussion on the BHT about this article by James Jordan brought up the role Dooyeweerd played in Calvinist thought. Now, I had been taught – by people who generally agreed with me theologically, people I trusted – that Dooyeweerd was a theonomist, a first kissing-cousin to Rushdoony and “Scary Gary” North, and therefore was problematic. I stated as such, publicly and vehemently – and got chewed out for it. I couldn’t reconcile why these people I was interacting with, of all people, would defend a *theonomist*! It never occurred to me until far, far, into the argument, that what I had been told about Dooyeweerd was wrong. But lately, I have been reading James Smith’s book Introducing Radical Orthodoxy, which includes a running commentary by Smith on the relation between RO and Dutch Calvinism, focusing on Dooyeweerd. And the Dooyeweerd I’m reading about in Smith’s book bears as much relation to the Dooyeweerd I was told about, as Demi Moore’s Hester Prynne does to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s. I was sadly misinformed.

Lastly, my own rethinking of how "reason" is used by people, even in the Church, has forced me to recognize that even people who agree with me, people who are Christians, can be mistaken, can utilize bad arguments to defend pet positions. Heck, I’ve done it myself on far too many occasions. And it is therefore very dangerous to let someone else do all your thinking for you.

So, to everyone involved at the BHT regarding the Dooyeweerd mess, I apologize. I was wrong.

To my friend, I apologize. I was wrong.

To those whose works I misused, I apologize too. I was wrong. I should not have used you as a shield to cover my own intellectual sloth.

And to Dooyeweerd and Barth, I apologize. I should not have totally pre-judged you on the basis of what others told me.

And now, I have some work to do. In the Twilight of Western Thought and Church Dogmatics just got bumped up on my reading list...

Friday, November 25, 2005

MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN

Daniel 5:25-28 -
"And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”


The ongoing war between the constellation of independent Calvinist Baptist blogs and the constellation of blogs I slum around in has flared up of late. I have wondered at the invective maintained in this fight, and where it comes from.

From my own limited observations, there are four main targets of these "TR" types:

1) "Confessional bloggers" - those who have the courage to tell of the dark side of Christian experience - the sins, the doubts, the struggles of faith and ministry. But for some, this smacks of mental instability.

2) "Auburn Avenue/New Perspective on Paul" - those who seek to re-evaluate the traditional Reformed understandings of Covenant, and apply these re-evaluations in other areas of theology (like soteriology). The question of whether they are right or not is one thing - but for some, this conversation should not even be happening. "Luther/Calvin said it, I believe it, that settles it."

3) "Reformed Catholicism" - those who seek to have a dialogue with historic (c)atholic theology (the theology of the Church in all ages and branches) and perhaps, dialogue with Catholics and Orthodox as well. But for some, we evidently have nothing to learn from them, and they all have to become like us, or else.

4) "the Emergent Church" - those who would have the praxis of the Church match up with the calling of her Master, especially in areas where modernity has blinded us to our failures. But for some, this is simply atheological liberalism.

All four of these categories are open to criticism. It is possible for confessionalism to go too far. The AA/NPP has its good points and bad. I am a Protestant, self-consciously and comfortably, and therefore not Catholic or Orthodox. And Brian McLaren does have a habit of going to far on many points. But I do wonder at the innate and almost unthinking hostility and rejection of all these categories, in toto, by the "TR" types. What gives?

I think one good reason is that all four of these categories start with a rejection of the centrality of the particulars of Reformed Theology (at least as they are envisioned by the critics) for the Christian life. For the confessionalists, they have the indecency to point out that believing in all the right theology does not mean life doesn't suck. The AA/NPP wants to re-examine these categories in light of history and biblical theology. The reformed catholics want to re-emphasize the commonalities of all Christians rather than the distinctives. And the Emergents are demanding that the Church start *acting* like the church - especially in the pocketbook.

But, if you have built your entire understanding of the Christian life on propositional theology, on what makes you distinctive, and RIGHT, as opposed to all the benighted quasi-heretics in the impure churches outside yours, this is a great threat. Anything that threatens the primacy of your theological system must be confronted, refuted, insulted, shouted down into silence.

All these guys have is their theology. They don't have the sacraments. They don't have a connection to the wider Body of Christ. They don't have a vital tradition of their own. They don't anything but their theology, and how they think that theology should effect people. And anything that doesn't fit that box is a danger to them.

James Jordan has come out and said that this branch of the Church is dying.

Philip Jenkins has documented the continuing global shift of vital Chrisianity from the West to the South.

As far as I am concerned, these self-appointed "guardians of the faith" are fighting to guard a dying cause. The handwriting is on the wall, for those who can read it. God will build His Church - the particular stones of dogmantic (r)eformed Presbyterians and independent (c)alvinist Baptists are not vital to His project.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Shadow Lifts

'A great Shadow has departed,' said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land... - The Return of the King, The Field of Cormallen

My rough draft just got back from my professor, and things are looking very good. A great weight has lifted from my heart. A few more details to patch up, and I'll be on my way home again, at last.

Thanks be to God.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Trudging Towards Mount Doom

The Lord of the Rings: an allegory of the PhD?

The last and darkest period of Frodo's journey clearly represents the writing-up stage, as he struggles towards Mount Doom (submission), finding his burden growing heavier and heavier yet more and more a part of himself; more and more terrified of failure;


I'm writing my thesis right now. I hate it. I'm having nightmares about it. The rough draft is due next Wednesday, and I hate it.

If anybody still reads this thing, say a prayer for me.

Monday, November 14, 2005

FWIW...

It fits, I guess...

Numenorean
Numenorean


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

(HT to Cacoethes Scribendi)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Casuality of War

Mike at Eternal Perspectivs is hanging up his pen.

I can empathize with his sentiments. There have been times when I have stirred up controversy and fights on the Internet - sometimes inadvertently, sometimes on purpose. One of my close friends has been pestering me for years to let go of doing theology on the Internet entirely. He's a sociologist, and his point of view is that the inherent limitations of doing theology on the Internet outweigh the advantages. It's too easy to be misunderstood, it's too tempting for "trolls" and would-be Inquisitors to do their thing, and the profound depths of face-to-face communication - so important in dealing with theology and the imago Dei - are simply not possible. I've always had this nagging suspicion that he's right. But being alone out here in California, this has been my only outlet for it. And I've needed this "online diary" of sorts to keep track of my thoughts as my mind has been changing.

Unlike some, I have no aspirations that this blog is going to "change the world". I'm frankly amazed that other people read it on occasion. But it is here, nonetheless. And I think I will keep at it for awhile longer yet. But I do understand why Mike left, and there is always the possibility that, in the future, I may go the same route.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Reply to Paul Owen

Before I get too swamped with writing my grad thesis, I want to take the time to reply to Paul Owen's clarififcation on his stance on the Atonement, and thank him for taking the time to read this obscure blog of mine.

He says...
I do not believe (propitiation) to be consistent with eternal election and limited atonement. God’s election of sinners indicates an already present love for them, and a willingness to forgive them. The death of Jesus therefore cannot be understood as causing or effecting God’s benevolent disposition towards them by appeasing his wrath. Christ’s death does not cause God to be willing to forgive those whom he has already determined in his decree to forgive. That makes no sense. It is those who hold to universal atonement who consistently believe that the purpose of Christ’s death was simply to secure a willingness on the part of God to forgive (if they accept the benefits of that atonement).


As far as my own understanding of the theology of the atonement is concerned, the propitiation of Christ did not *create* the love of God for the sinner - it was the *result* of that love. The eternally determined love of God for His people motivated the Son to sacrifice Himself for their sins, so that the justice of God could be satisfied. It was God's justice that required punishment - it was His love that determined that His Son should suffer it on our behalf.

The expiation model which I hold to does agree that Christ’s death delivers us from destruction. But the logic is different. Christ’s death is not designed to satisfy the offended honor of God, nor his punitive justice. The eternal punishment of the unrepentant will do that.


For the sins of those unrepentant, yes. But what about *my* sins? As I understand the nature of sin and judgment, it is not an abstract notion, but the requirement of *every man and woman* that they answer to God for what they have done. How can God be satisfied that *my* sins have been punished, simply because John Doe is in hell?

The penal substitution model sees the wrath of God being poured out on Jesus so as to satisfy the demand for a just punishment of the pardoned sinner. Inevitably, in effect, this takes the emphasis off of the physical death of Jesus, and places it upon some supposed outpouring of God’s anger upon Christ on the cross as the unfortunate substitute.


I don't know who Paul has been reading on this, but again, for myself I see no separation possible between the physical death of Jesus and His suffering on my behalf. It was an integral part of His penal substitution. Simply suffering on the Cross wasn'e enough - He had to *die*. For Death is the ultimate punishment for sin.

The expiation model sees God as willing to pardon our sin (Rom. 5:8); but our stain must be removed for us to be pardoned.


I think this is a key point of contention. I see no separation between sin and "stain". The act of sin is a stain. Our corrupt nature is a stain. God cannot ignore either.

Now, sadly, back to that miserable thesis...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Third Trumpet from the South

This statement was released from a meeting of major Anglican primates from the Global South this weekend. The Archbishop of Rwanda, Emmanuel Kolini, and three representatives of the AMiA (of which my home congregation is a member) were present. Here's a glimpse of what we Western Christians look like from the outside...

==============

The Third Anglican Global South to South Encounter Communique

A Third Trumpet from the South

TRUMPET III

The Third Anglican Global South to South Encounter

Red Sea (Egypt), 25-30 October 2005

The Third Anglican South-to-South Encounter has graphically demonstrated the coming of age of the Church of the Global South. We are poignantly aware that we must be faithful to God's vision of one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. We do not glory in our strengths but in God's strength. We do not shrink from our responsibility as God's people because of our weaknesses but we trust God to demonstrate His power through our weakness. We thank God for moving us forward to serve Him in such a time as this.

A. Preamble

1. A total of 103 delegates of 20 provinces in the Global South (comprising Africa, South and South East Asia, West Indies and South America), representing approximately two-thirds of the Anglican Communion, met for the 3rd Global South to South Encounter from 25-30 October 2005 at Ain El-Sukhna by the Red Sea in Egypt. The theme of the Encounter was "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church: Being A Faithful Church For Such A Time As This".

2. We deeply appreciated the Archbishop of Canterbury for the time he spent with us, his listening ear and encouraging words. We took to heart his insight that the four marks of the Church are not attributes we possess as our own right, nor goals to attain by human endeavour, but they are expressed in us as we deeply focus on Jesus Christ, who is the Source of them all (John 17:17-21).

3. We were really warmed by the welcome that we received here by the President, the government and the people of Egypt. We valued the great efforts made by the state security personnel who are making the land of Egypt a secure and safe place to all her visitors. We were touched by the warm hospitality of the Diocese of Egypt.

4. We have witnessed in Egypt a wonderful model for warm relations between Christians and Muslims. We admire the constructive dialogue that is happening between the two faiths. We appreciated the attendance of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr Mohammed Said Tantawi, the representative of Pope Shenouda III and other religious leaders at the State Reception to launch our Encounter. We were encouraged by their wise contributions.

B. We Gathered

5. We gathered to seek the face of God, to hear His Word afresh and to be renewed by His Spirit for total obedience to Christ who is Lord of the Church. That is why the gathering was called an "Encounter" rather than a conference. The vital question we addressed was: What does it mean to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church in the midst of all the challenges facing the world and the Church?

6. The world of the Global South is riddled with the pain of political conflict, tribal warfare and bloodshed. The moral and ethical foundations of several of our societies are being shaken. Many of our nations are beset by problems of poverty, ignorance and sickness, particularly the HIV and AIDS that threaten millions, especially in Africa. In addition to that, thousands of people have suffered from severe drought in Africa, earthquakes in South Asia, and hurricanes in the Americas - we offer our support and prayers to them.

7. Apart from the world condition, our own Anglican Communion sadly continues to be weakened by unchecked revisionist teaching and practices which undermine the divine authority of the Holy Scripture. The Anglican Communion is severely wounded by the witness of errant principles of faith and practice which in many parts of our Communion have adversely affected our efforts to take the Gospel to those in need of God's redeeming and saving love.

8. Notwithstanding these difficult circumstances, several parts of our Communion in the Global South are witnessing the transforming power of the Gospel and the growth of the Church. The urgency of reaching vast multitudes in our nations for Christ is pressing at our door and the fields are ready for harvest.

9. Surrounded by these challenges and seeking to discover afresh our identity we decided to dig deeper into God's Word and into the tradition of the Church to learn how to be faithful to God's gift and call to be His one, holy, catholic and apostolic people. We deliberately chose to meet in Egypt for two reasons:

a. Biblically, Egypt features prominently in the formative period of the calling of God's people (Exodus 19). Moreover, Egypt was part of the cradle that bore the entry of the Savior into the world (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:13-15).

b. Meeting by the Red Sea, we could not help but be inspired by the historic crossing of God's people into the realm where He purposed to make them a "light to the nations" (Isaiah 42:6). Part of that blessing was fulfilled when Alexandria became a center of early Christianity, where church fathers formulated and held on to the Christian faith through the early centuries.

C. We Discovered Afresh

10. We discovered afresh the depth and richness of our roots in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Carefully researched papers were presented at the Encounter in the context of worship, prayer, Bible Study and mutual sharing. We recognize the dynamic way in which the four marks of the Church are inextricably interwoven. The salient truths we encountered inspired us and provided a basis for knowing what God requires of us.

The Church is One

11. The Church is called to be one. Our unity is willed by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who prayed that we "all might be one." (John 17:20-21) A great deal of confusion has arisen out of misunderstanding that prayer and the concept of unity. For centuries, the Church has found unity in the Person and teaching of Jesus Christ, as recorded in Scripture. We are one in Him, and that binds us together. The foundation and expression of our unity is found in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.

12. While our unity may be expressed in institutional life, our unity is grounded in our living relationship with the Christ of Scripture. Unity is ever so much more than sharing institutionally. When we are "in Christ," we find that we are in fellowship with others who are also in Him. The fruit of that unity is that we faithfully manifest the life and love of Christ to a hurting and groaning world (Romans 8:18-22).

13. Christian unity is premised on truth and expressed in love. Both truth and love compel us to guard the Gospel and stand on the supreme authority of the whole Word of God. The boundary of family identity ends within the boundary of the authentic Word of God.

The Church is Holy

14. The Church of Jesus Christ is called to be holy. All Christians are to participate in the sanctification of their lives through submission, obedience and cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Through repentance the Church can regain her rightful position of being holy before God. We believe concurrently that holiness is imparted to us through the life, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (Heb 10:21-23). He shares His holiness with us and invites us to be conformed to His likeness.

15. A holy Church is prepared to be a "martyr" Church. Witness unto death is how the Early Church articulated holiness in its fullest sense (Acts 22:20; Rev 2:13, 12:11).

The Church is Catholic

16. The Catholic faith is the universal faith that was "once for all" entrusted to the apostles and handed down subsequently from generation to generation (Jude 3). Therefore every proposed innovation must be measured against the plumb line of Scripture and the historic teaching of the Church.

17. Catholicity carries with it the notion of completeness and wholeness. Thus in the church catholic "when one part suffers, every part suffers with it" (1 Cor 12:26). The local church expresses its catholicity by its devotion to apostolic teaching, its attention to prayer and the sacrament, its warm and caring fellowship and its growth through evangelism and mission (Acts 2:42-47).

The Church is Apostolic

18. The Church is apostolic in its doctrine and teaching. The apostolic interpretation of God's salvation plan effected in Christ Jesus is binding on the Church. God established the Church on the "foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone" (Eph 2:20).

19. The Church is apostolic in its mission and service. "As the Father has sent Me, so I send you." (John 20:21) In each generation He calls bishops in apostolic succession (Eph 4:11-12) to lead the Church out into mission, to teach the truth and to defend the faith. Accountability to God, to those God places over us and to the flock is an integral part of church leadership.

D. We Commit

20. As a result of our Encounter, we emerge with a clearer vision of what the Church is called to be and to do, with a renewed strength to pursue that vision. Specifically, we made commitments in the following areas.

The Authority of the Word of God

21. Scripture demands, and Christian history has traditionally held, that the standard of life, belief, doctrine, and conduct is the Holy Scripture. To depart from apostolic teaching is to tamper with the foundation and to undermine the basis of our unity in Christ. We express full confidence in the supremacy and clarity of Scripture, and pledge full obedience to the whole counsel of God's Word.

22. We in the Global South endorse the concept of an Anglican Covenant (rooted in the Windsor Report) and commit ourselves as full partners in the process of its formulation. We are seeking a Covenant that is rooted in historic faith and formularies, and that provides a biblical foundation for our life, ministry and mission as a Communion. It is envisaged that once the Covenant is approved by the Communion, provinces that enter into the Covenant shall be mutually accountable, thereby providing an authentic fellowship within the Communion.

23. Anglicans of the Global South have discovered a vibrant spiritual life based on Scripture and empowered by the Spirit that is transforming cultures and communities in many of our provinces. It is to this life that we seek to be formed and found fully faithful. We reject the expectation that our lives in Christ should conform to the misguided theological, cultural and sociological norms associated with sections of the West.

Mission and Ministry

24. Churches in the Global South commit to pursue networking with one another to add strength to our mission and ministry. We will continue to explore appropriate structures to facilitate and support this.

25. Shared theological foundations are crucial to authentic fellowship and partnership in mission and ministry. In that light, we welcome the initiative to form the Council of Anglican Provinces of the Americas and the Caribbean (CAPAC). It is envisaged that CAPAC will not only provide a foundation on the historic formularies of Anglican faith but also provide a structure with which member churches can carry out formal ministry partnerships with confidence.

26. Global South is committed to provide our recognition, energy, prayers and experience to the Networks in the USA and Canada, the Convocation of Nigerian Anglicans in the USA, those who make Common Cause and the Missionary District that is gathering congregations that circumstances have pressed out of ECUSA. We are heartened by the bold witness of their people. We are grateful that the Archbishop of Canterbury publicly recognized the Anglican Communion Network in the USA and the Anglican Network in Canada as faithful members of the Anglican Communion.

27. As for the other provinces and dioceses around the world who remain steadfastly committed to this faith, we look forward to further opportunities to partner with them in the propagation of the Gospel. We will also support those orthodox dioceses and congregations which are under difficult circumstances because of their faithfulness to the Word. We appreciate the recent action of the Primate of the Southern Cone who acted to stabilize the volatile situation in Recife, Brazil.

In this regard, we take this opportunity to acknowledge the immense contribution of the Primate of South East Asia to the development of the Global South and to the preservation of orthodoxy across the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Theological Education

28. In order to provide teaching that preserves the faith and fits our context, it is crucial to update the curricula of our theological institutions in the Global South to reflect our theological perspective and mission priorities. We note from the All Africa Bishops Conference their concern that far too many Western theological education institutions have become compromised and are no longer suitable for training leaders for our provinces. We call for the re-alignment of our priorities in such a way as to hasten the full establishment of adequate theological education institutions across the Global South so that our leaders can be appropriately trained and equipped in our own context. We aim to develop our leaders in biblical and theological training, and seek to nurture indigenous theologians. We will provide information on institutions in the Global South, and we will encourage these institutions to explore ways to provide bursaries and scholarships.

The Current Crisis provoked by North American Intransigence

29. The unscriptural innovations of North American and some western provinces on issues of human sexuality undermine the basic message of redemption and the power of the Cross to transform lives. These departures are a symptom of a deeper problem, which is the diminution of the authority of Holy Scripture. The leaders of these provinces disregard the plain teaching of Scripture and reject the traditional interpretation of tenets in the historical Creeds.

30. This Encounter endorses the perspectives on communion life found in sections A & B of the Windsor Report, and encourages all Provinces to comply with the request from the Primates' Communiqué in February 2005 which states:

"We therefore request all provinces to consider whether they are willing to be committed to the inter-dependent life of the Anglican Communion understood in the terms set out in these sections of the report."

31. The Windsor Report rightly points out that the path to restoring order requires that either the innovating provinces/dioceses conform to historic teaching, or the offending provinces will by their actions be choosing to walk apart. Paragraph 12 of the Primates Communiqué says:

"Whilst there remains a very real question about whether the North American churches are willing to accept the same teaching on matters of sexual morality as is generally accepted elsewhere in the Communion, the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity is obscured, and the effectiveness of our common mission severely hindered."

32. Regrettably, even at the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Nottingham in 2005, we see no evidence that both ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada are willing to accept the generally accepted teaching, nor is there evidence that they are willing to turn back from their innovations.

33. Further, the struggles of the Communion have only been exacerbated by the lack of concrete progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report. The slow and inadequate response of the Panel of Reference has trivialized the solemn charge from the Primates and has allowed disorder to multiply unnecessarily. We recognize with regret the growing evidence that the Provinces which have taken action creating the current crisis in the Communion continue moving in a direction that will result in their "walking apart." We call for urgent and serious implementation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report. Unscriptural and unilateral decisions, especially on moral issues, tear the fabric of our Communion and require appropriate discipline at every level to maintain our unity. While the Global South calls for the errant provinces to be disciplined, we will continue to pray for all who embrace these erroneous teachings that they will be led to repentance and restoration.

Spiritual Leadership

34. Our on-going participation in ministry and mission requires godly and able spiritual leadership at all times. We are encouraged that many inspirational leaders in our midst bear witness to the Scriptures and are effectively bringing the Gospel to surrounding cultures. We commit ourselves to identify the next generation of leaders and will seek to equip and deploy them wherever they are needed.

35. We need inspirational leaders and accountability structures. These mechanisms which we are looking into must ensure that leaders are accountable to God, to those over us in the Lord, to the flock and to one another in accordance to the Scriptures. This last aspect is in keeping with the principle of bishops and leaders acting in council. In this way, leaders become the role models that are so needed for the flock.

Youth

36. The Global South emphasizes the involvement and development of youth in the life of the Church. The youth delegates encouraged the whole gathering by the following collective statement during the Encounter:

"Many youths in the Global South are taking up the challenge of living in moral purity in the face of the rising influence of immoral values and practice, and the widening epidemic of HIV and AIDS. Young people will be ready to give their lives to the ministry of the Church if she gives them exemplary spiritual leadership and a purpose to live for. Please pray that we will continue to be faithful as the Church of 'today and tomorrow'. It is also our heart's cry that the Communion will remain faithful to the Gospel."

Poverty

37. As the church catholic we share a common concern for the universal problem of debt and poverty. The inequity that exists between the rich and the poor widens as vast sums borrowed by previous governments were not used for the intended purposes. Requiring succeeding generations of people who never benefited from the loans and resources to repay them will impose a crushing and likely insurmountable burden. We welcome and appreciate the international efforts of debt reduction and cancellation, for example, the steps recently carried out by G8 leaders.

38. A dimension of responsible stewardship and accountability is the clear call to be financially self-sustaining. We commend the new initiative for financial self-sufficiency and development being studied by the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA). This is not only necessary because of the demands of human dignity; it is the only way to have sustainable economic stability.

HIV and AIDS

39. A holy Church combines purity and compassion in its witness and service. The population of the world is under assault by the HIV and AIDS pandemic, but the people of much of the Global South are hit particularly hard because of poverty, lifestyle habits, lack of teaching and the paucity of appropriate medication. Inspired by the significant success of the Church in Uganda in tackling HIV and AIDS, all our provinces commit to learn and apply similar intentional programmes which emphasize abstinence and faithfulness in marriage. We call on governments to ensure that they are providing adequate medication and treatment for those infected.

Corruption

40. The holy Church will "show forth fruits that befit repentance" (Matt 3:8). Many of us live in regions that have been deeply wounded by corruption. Not only do we have a responsibility to live transparent lives of utmost honesty in the Church, we are called to challenge the culture in which we live (Micah 6:8). Corruption consumes the soul of society and must be challenged at all costs. Transparency and accountability are key elements that we must manifest in bearing witness to the cultures in which we live.

Violent Conflict

41. Many of us from across the Global South live juxtaposed with violent conflict, most egregiously manifest in violence against innocents. In spite of the fact that the conflicts which grip many of our provinces have resulted in many lives being lost, we are not defeated. We find hope in the midst of our pain and inspiration from the martyrs who have shed their blood. Their sacrifice calls us to faithfulness. Their witness provokes us to pursue holiness. We commit ourselves to grow to become faithful witnesses who "do not love their lives even unto death" (Rev 12:11).

E. We Press On

42. We emerge from the Encounter strengthened to uphold the supreme authority of the Word of God and the doctrinal formularies that have undergirded the Anglican Communion for over four and a half centuries. Communion requires alignment with the will of God first and foremost, which establishes our commonality with one another. Such expressions of the will of God which Anglicans should hold in common are: one Lord, one faith, one baptism; Holy Scripture; apostolic teaching and practice; the historic Creeds of the Christian Church; the Articles of Religion and the doctrinal tenets as contained in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Holding truth and grace together by the power of the Holy Spirit, we go forward as those entrusted "with the faith once delivered" (Jude 3).

43. By the Red Sea, God led us to renew our covenant with Him. We have committed ourselves to obey Him fully, to love Him wholly, and to serve Him in the world as a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6). God has also helped us to renew our bonds of fellowship with one another, that we may "stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man in the faith of the Gospel" (Phil 1:27).

44. We offer to God this growing and deepening fellowship among the Global South churches that we might be a servant-body to the larger Church and to the world. We see ourselves as a unifying body, moving forward collectively as servants of Christ to do what He is calling us to do both locally in our provinces and globally as the "scattered people of God throughout the world" (1 Peter 1:1).

45. Jesus Christ, "that Great Shepherd of the sheep" (Heb 13:20, Micah 5:4), is caring for His flock worldwide, and He is gathering into His one fold lost sheep from every tribe and nation. We continue to depend on God's grace to enable us to participate with greater vigour in Christ's great enterprise of saving love (1 Peter 2:25, John 10:14-16). We shall press on to glorify the Father in the power of the Spirit until Christ comes again. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

The Third Anglican Global South to South Encounter Red Sea, Egypt 25-30 October 2005

END

Hot Anger, Cold Blood

(Almost) every time I post a critique of someone else's blog listing, I get in trouble. But sometimes I just have to comment - they stir up something that I have to work out in my own mind.

The latest Paul Owen post at Communio Sanctorum fits this bill. Instead of Mary, now it's the idea of "Penal Substitution" - or rather, in Owen's case, the strong link between the Atonement and the appeasement of God's anger. He doesn't specifically say what he's writing against, except to call it "a foreign theological framework which emphasizes the anger of God, and the legal demand of just punishment, in a way that is (in my view) foreign to the Bible." That kind of wording will get him into really hot water with some of his Internet foes. What I hope to do here is to ask some questions of Owen's arguments, in a (hopefully) less "hot" tone (pun intended).

1. Owen's first point is that there is no specific mention of the appeasement of God's anger in the passages detailing the sacrificial system, only that the pollution of sin is transfered to the animal sacrifice. Well, OK. But are we to assume *no* connection between our sin and God's anger? That connection is made abundantly clear throughout the Old Testament - just type "anger" or "wrath" into the ESV Search Engine and look up all the verses where these words are attributed to God. Does it also have to be mentioned in the specific sacrificial accounts to be taken into consideration? His treatments of Isaiah 53 and Romans 3 also depend on severing anger from sin, and are flawed to that extent.

2. Owen then claims that God's anger cannot ultimately be satisfied with the destruction of animals, but with the sinners themselves. Just so. But then he goes on to say that Jesus was *not* punished in our place, because the NT does not specifically say so in that language! I think Owen here is making the same mistake that some of those he would castigate does - he's asking for dogmatic/systematic statements from the Bible like our systematic theologies would make. If God does and must punish sin, and our sins were upon Christ, and He died though living a blameless life Himself, does the conclusion that He bore our punishment not follow?

I think that the severing of the connection between our sin and God's anger is the key flaw in Owen's argument. If some sort of link between human sin and divine anger can be drawn - and there is ample biblical evidence that this can be done - then the whole discussion is moot. I'm sure that there *are* people who have overemphasized God's anger, but that is no excuse to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Surely the appeasement of divine wrath is one of the many benefits that we have received from the Cross of Christ. And it is one for which I, myself, am profoundly greatful.