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What is the End Game of Nigerian Anglican Primate Ndukuba?

What is the End Game of Nigerian Anglican Primate Ndukuba?
"It is worrisome that some professed Christians are elevating the practice of things [homosexuality] we can't even find among low-class animals." --- Henry Ndukuba

NEWS ANALYSIS

By David W. Virtue, DD
www. Virtueonline.org
March 29, 2021

The Anglican Archbishop and Primate of All Nigeria, The Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba said the Church of Nigeria is not tied to the apron of Canterbury and is thereby not obliged to take orders from it. He also told the Church Times of Nigeria that some have compromised even within GAFCON. He was referring to the pastoral letter by the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) which, he said tolerated same-sex persons within their fold. "We believe that when we see danger signs, we should raise the alarm. The same signs we saw in The Episcopal Church, CANADA, and the UK."

Of course, the ACNA was not compromising on anything. What they said was largely linguistic, acknowledging that there were "Christians who experience same-sex attraction" as their preferred language, but there would be no compromise on homosexual behavior and that sex stayed squarely between a man and a woman in marriage. They were clear and unambiguous, though several orthodox theologians thought they should have had tougher language.

The Nigerian Primate saw the statement as the thin end of the wedge and blasted the ACNA bishops, pointing the finger at Archbishop Foley Beach with reference to his leadership as chairman of GAFCON. Wisely, Beach and his fellow bishops did not retaliate. They went silent. You don't anger a lion who is looking for meat; best get out of the plain.

Ndukuba said the Church of Nigeria had to redefine herself because of the present-day heresy and dangerous teachings that negate the word of God in some parts of the world.

Of course, Ndukuba's withering reference to Justin Welby is not unique. His predecessor, Nicholas Okoh, tore a strip off Dr. Rowan Williams ere he departed as ABC in 2012, saying his sudden resignation left behind "a Communion in tatters: highly polarized, bitterly factionalized, with issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness."

Okoh said that "when Williams took over the leadership of the Anglican Communion in 2002, it was a happy family, but he left it with decisions and actions that are stumbling blocks to oneness, evangelism and mission all around the Anglican world." Okoh went so far as to say that it was like being "crucified under Pontius Pilate".

His predecessor, Peter Akinola wrote a book, Who Blinks First as a smackdown of Williams, who used the phrase while enabling "progressives" in the communion challenging Akinola. Well, we got the answer. Neither Akinola nor his colleagues blinked. Their answer was the formation of GAFCON.

Now along comes Ndukuba and his message to Welby is that he is only a symbol of unity in the Anglican Communion worldwide. "Because of the way things are going, we are not tied to the apron of Canterbury. The constitution of the Church of Nigeria has defined who we are."

Ndukuba said, "the church recognizes sister provinces that hold to the Bible. Anything that is not taught in the word of God must not be upheld. We cherish our time-tested Anglican heritage and doctrine as contained in the Word of God, the book of common prayer, and the creed. These have proven to be sufficient for us to work with God."

Rowan Williams told Episcopalians in Los Angeles that we no longer have an Anglican Communion, but an Anglican family. The Anglican Communion is "fractured." We are now an Anglican family, and like most families, we quarrel but we remain in solidarity.

Another way to look at it is that the Communion has a structure for doctrinal centralization, but in the absence of central authority, (a Magisterium, Patriarch or Pope) the doctrine is followed by consensus and not by mandate. (The Archbishop of Canterbury is primus inter pares--first among equals--of the various Primates of the Anglican Communion.)

That is not something Ndukuba would agree with. There is a body of truth, revealed primarily in scripture that is non-negotiable. Once you cross the line, you are ostensibly no longer Christian even though one maintains all the accoutrement of the Church.

"The church recognizes sister provinces that hold to the Bible. Anything that is not taught in the word of God must not be upheld. We cherish our time-tested Anglican heritage and doctrine as contained in the Word of God, the book of common prayer, and the creed. These have proven to be sufficient for us to work with God," he said.

"If we fail to allow the word of God to guide us, we have failed. We will work with all those who are ready to obey God and follow Him" he said.

On March 1, I wrote, "Any fragmentation of GAFCON now would be a disaster of global proportions for orthodox Anglicanism. The ball is now squarely in the Nigerian Anglican court."

This is his response. So, what is Ndukuba's end game?

Here are his options.
1. He and his province remain in the Anglican Communion and continue to pay lip service to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England, but his bishops will never attend another Lambeth Conference.
2. He challenges Archbishop Beach for the chairmanship of GAFCON on the basis that he thinks he and the ACNA have gone soft on homosexuality.
3. He pulls together orthodox African provinces and forms a parallel communion. He is on record as saying this; "Nigeria is not averse to relating with other churches across the globe noting that in ministry, we are all united in one. We are linked up with other provinces outside Nigeria. We are working in partnership with the global south and other churches in Africa."
4. What does this say about the future of GAFCON if he goes his own way? If GAFCON breaks up, it will certainly be seen as a victory for Anglican progressives, who will then begin to pick off wobbly provinces who have homosexuals in their midst. The ordination of women will then be another hot button issue that could see even more splits.

Is Ndukuba merely sabre rattling, or is this a power play by the African leader? One thing we do know. Nigerian Anglicans take no prisoners; they are experiencing persecution with little support from the Archbishop of Canterbury. They watch as their people die at the hands of Boko Haram and Fulani Tribesmen. They face death within as they see heresy without. Compromise is not a word in their vocabulary. "That which the Word of God condemns stands condemned," said Ndukuba.

END

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