Thursday, December 4, 2008
As a baptized Anglican in Sagada's St. Mary the Virgin Church, I have always followed the interesting milestones in this denomination's history. It was in the 1990s that the Anglican church allowed women priests. In 2003, the Anglican church in the United States consecrated the first openly gay bishop. I remember that in exchanges within an Igorot mailing list, one Anglican noted that those who consecrated the first openly gay bishop did not believe in the authority of the Bible. This led to some heated exchanges for those who said they believe in the Bible but supported the consecration of the gay bishop.
I am not a practicing Anglican anymore, (if there is one such person) and I would classify myself as an evangelical Christian. And yes, I also find it hard to understand how the Anglican leadership in the US can consecrate a gay bishop and say they believe in the Bible as well. The Bible is very clear on how to select bishops. In 1 Timothy 3: 2-7, "The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach; no brawler, no striker; but gentle, not contentious, no lover of money; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (but if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) not a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have good testimony from them that are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."
Let me state that I am not a homophobic gay basher. I have close gay friends - two of my children's godparents are openly gay. And as a Christian, I am taught by the Bible to love all people as Jesus does - and Jesus died for the homosexual sinner as He did for me, a sinner too. But a bishop is a person with the responsibility of leading congregations - and if he falls short of the standard the Bible has, then he should never be put in that position.
Five years after the consecration of the gay bishop, traditionalists are moving to create a separate and competing North American Anglican church. In headline news the past two days, four breakaway Episcopal dioceses along with dozens of individual parishes in the U.S. and Canada with around 100,000 members announced the formation of a rival North American Anglican province. The group's constitution is looking to reflect the qualities of the new Anglican province which according to one its leaders should be "biblically grounded, Christ-centered, mission driven, outwardly focused, committed to evangelism and discipleship, and proudly Anglican."
The new conservative province already has the support of seven leaders of Anglican national churches including the archbishops of Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya and the Southern Cone, based in Argentina. Will the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, which the Sagada Anglican community belong to, take a stand in this divide? I highly doubt it, but I'd be very pleased if they do since I'm 99% sure which side they will be on.