Friday, December 02, 2011
Mission, Maori and the Anglican Covenant
for those not in the Anglican Communion there is an international debate going on in response at least in part if not predominantly over the tensions created between liberals and traditionalists and majority world and 'western world' countries over issues of same sex relationships. a proposed solution is a covenant that creates more accountability across the communion - or from another angle more control on what have been independent churches.
this can be viewed simply as a tension between traditional and liberal Christians. There is also a very real backdrop of colonial Christianity; it is the old colonial nations that are pursuing more liberal agendas and their former colonies tat are arguing against them on the whole, though there are diffrent voices in both contexts.
the Maori Christians in the church of New Zealand have opposed this covenant by viewing the issue very differently - see http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=120448 they have i think rightly perceived that diversity in the church is not about liberals vs conservatives but the nature of the church's mission. the choice is between a church whose form and practice are dictated from a centre, and it mattes not if that is Canterbury or Lagos or Washington, and one in which each church incarnates the faith within it's own culture.
globalization, the fading of Christendom and the shift towards post-modern culture all put enormous pressure on different cultures and societies. in such a world it is understandable to seek security and a strong global identity. if you are a Christian in central Africa or much of Asia you live alongside a strong Islamic presence and the tensions often tip over into violence. being associated with 'liberal western Christians' can be a trigger that lights the volatile material in such places, this can lead to death and destruction. in our world we no longer live within our own small cultures and communities, we are increasingly global citizens.
yet as many missiologists like Andrew Walls have noted, churches have failed in may areas of the world because they failed to remain at home in the local culture. in a world in which increasing diversity exists alongside globalization we are pulled in two ways - i think history suggest the Maori have seen he issue correctly - the future mission of the church requires it to be more diverse not less in our changing world, we need another way to live together and it will not by tightening the rules at the centre, but by understanding and blessing the many edges that the chuch's mission will be strengthened. it is this principle that lead to the great diversity of early churches across the world that i believe we need to re-capture today