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NIGERIA: Primate Rips "New Religion" Of The Episcopal Church

NIGERIAN PRIMATE RIPS "NEW RELIGION" OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

By David W. Virtue
in Washington DC

WASHINGTON, DC (10/4/2004)--The Primate of Nigeria, Peter Akinola yesterday told orthodox Episcopalians that the Episcopal Church was out to create a new religion and "I say no. I am quite happy with the faith as it has been received. In it I have found peace. I don't need a new religion."

Holding his Bible aloft, the Evangelical Primate of 18 million Anglicans, and the second most powerful person in the Anglican Communion told members of All Saints' Church, Chevy Chase in the Diocese of Washington, "We [in Nigeria] are completely satisfied with this historical and biblical faith. Whatever is not in line with the authoritative Word of God we reject it, the Bible is the final authority. I have chosen the integrity and authority of the word of God over human interpretations."

Referring to criticism from US Episcopal Church leaders, Akinola said it doesn't matter what anyone says to us, the truth will prevail. "We are called to love and serve Him. Fire exists for burning. The church exists by mission, a church that fails to do mission is a dead church. We must take the Word of God and proclaim it. The mission of the church is to lead people to salvation. We must be concerned with things eternal not things in time. The word of God is what makes churches grow."

"When you have a Christianity that does not hold to the essentials then you have something else," he said.

Asked about the impact of the Robinson consecration on the Anglican Communion, Akinola said, "The effect of that decision on the world has been very great. We saw this coming in 1998 at the Lambeth Conference where we overwhelmingly said it was a 'no go' area. Since then every subsequent Primates meeting said this was not acceptable and we told the Episcopal Church don't do it. Last year's Primates left a very bad taste," he said. "We had to say no." Speaking of the Primates meeting, Akinola said, "I am sick and tired of meetings without end, talking about the same issues. I have better things to do."

Speaking of himself the Primate said, "I have chosen to go the way the Lord has called me to go, I will not stop now."

Referencing the crisis in the Anglican Communion, Akinola said, "Some parts of the church are concerned with controversies and debates and arguments. I have chosen not to be a part of that church because the church has been in Africa for 1500 years, long before the gospel came to Europe. The grandfathers of the church, like Athanasius, were all Africans."

Akinola quoted Jude 3 and 4; "I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men...have slipped in among you...they are godless men, who change the grace of God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord."

"I go by the simple plain truth of Scripture. This is the Faith once entrusted to the saints. I will contend for that faith. When you hold faith and fearless teachings of the church and you have been told to give up that faith you have in fact. We have the same vision."

Focusing on the Episcopal Church, Akinola said, "can two walk together unless they are agreed. We don't have to go away. I decided to tell people who do not obey this book that we cannot walk with them."

Akinola said his church was really in a hurry. "We have 82 dioceses, two archbishops and a Suffragan. We [the bishops] put out a proposal, and put in place on the table last month a program to double our size over the next three years." (The church has 18 million active members.)

Akinola said the church in African took root in debates and controversies, but it was always rooted in the gospel."

"When Western bishops came to Africa 200 years ago they said human sacrifice was against God's will, we immediately put a stop to it," he said. This faith we have was not manufactured by my father, but rooted and grounded in scripture and was given to us by the grace of God.

"Please don't give up your faith, go where you can give faith an expression," he told a Nigerian African woman who said she could not find a faithful Anglican church to worship in.

Akinola will formally open a new Anglican parish for Nigerians in the Washington, DC area who cannot in conscience attend an Episcopal Church and have found themselves strangers and aliens because of the new religion in this country. "My duty is to provide a spiritual home for these people," he said.

END

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