What is Anglicanism? By Henry Orombi

For perhaps the best ever article you’ll read about Anglicanism, read this piece over at First Things by Archbishop Henry Orombi, Primate of the Uganda Anglican Church.

Here’s a taste:

The Bible cannot appear to us a cadaver, merely to be dissected, analyzed, and critiqued, as has been the practice of much modern higher biblical criticism. Certainly we engage in biblical scholarship and criticism, but what is important to us is the power of the Word of God precisely as the Word of God—written to bring transformation in our lives, our families, our communities, and our culture. For us, the Bible is “living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword, it penetrates to dividing soul and spirits, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). The transforming effect of the Bible on Ugandans has generated so much conviction and confidence that believers were martyred in the defense of the message of salvation through Jesus Christ that it brought.

For the Ugandan church to compromise God’s call of obedience to the Scriptures would be the undoing of more than 125 years of Christianity through which African life and society have been transformed. Traditional African society was solely an oral culture, which limited its ability to share ideas beyond the family level. We couldn’t write our language, and there was nothing to read in our language. The first converts in Uganda were called “readers” because they could read the Bible, the first book available in our own languages. Because of the Bible, our languages have been enriched and recorded. For the first time, we heard God in our own languages. To this day, our people bring their Bibles to church and follow along with the readings.

In some traditional African societies, women were denied benefits because of various superstitions. For example, some societies believed that if women ate chicken they would grow beards. In that culture, women, then, never ate chicken. When the Bible came alive during the East African Revival of the 1930s, the Holy Spirit convicted men of such sins of oppression and began the progressive empowerment of women that is continuing today. So, for another example, the African tradition of polygamy and divorce at will left many women neglected and often destitute. The biblical teaching of marriage between one man and one woman in a loving, lifelong relationship liberated not only women but also the institution of marriage and family.

  • Nick

    There seems to be a lot of Anglicanophilia on the blog lately. Are you swimming the Stour?

    • Michael Bird

      Nick,
      What is the “Stour”?

      • Nick

        It’s the river that runs through Canterbury.

  • Nick

    There seems to be a lot of Anglicanophilia on the blog lately. Are you swimming the Stour?

    • Michael Bird

      Nick,
      What is the “Stour”?

      • Nick

        It’s the river that runs through Canterbury.

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  • William Barto

    Thank you for this post, Michael, but I found the underlying piece by Bishop Orombi to be ultimately disappointing as a an answer to the question “What is Anglicanism?” In sum, the Bishop describes Anglicanism in a way that is indistinguishable from contemporary conservative evangelicalism. I do not find this vision to be compelling, immigrant that I am to Anglicanism from American evangelicalism. I think that both side of the current Anglican unpleasantries are projecting their preferred vision of Anglicanism onto the existing apparatus of governance with decidedly uninspiring results. I suspect that the best statement of what Anglicanism is in the 21st Century has not been written yet, but when it is, it will include a thick vision of ecclesiology that will resemble Orthodox thinking on the nature of the episcopate.

    All that being noted, I am heartily enjoying “The Saving Righteousness of God,” recommended to me by my NT professor, Dr. Woody Anderson at Nashotah House Theological Seminary (Anglican, btw).

    Thanks for your blog!

    Bill

    • Michael Bird

      Bill, I can understand your concerns, though Orombi did affirm the “historical episcopate” which sets him apart from most evangelicals. Otherwise, I know well of NH and hope you enjoy SROG.

  • William Barto

    Thank you for this post, Michael, but I found the underlying piece by Bishop Orombi to be ultimately disappointing as a an answer to the question “What is Anglicanism?” In sum, the Bishop describes Anglicanism in a way that is indistinguishable from contemporary conservative evangelicalism. I do not find this vision to be compelling, immigrant that I am to Anglicanism from American evangelicalism. I think that both side of the current Anglican unpleasantries are projecting their preferred vision of Anglicanism onto the existing apparatus of governance with decidedly uninspiring results. I suspect that the best statement of what Anglicanism is in the 21st Century has not been written yet, but when it is, it will include a thick vision of ecclesiology that will resemble Orthodox thinking on the nature of the episcopate.

    All that being noted, I am heartily enjoying “The Saving Righteousness of God,” recommended to me by my NT professor, Dr. Woody Anderson at Nashotah House Theological Seminary (Anglican, btw).

    Thanks for your blog!

    Bill

    • Michael Bird

      Bill, I can understand your concerns, though Orombi did affirm the “historical episcopate” which sets him apart from most evangelicals. Otherwise, I know well of NH and hope you enjoy SROG.


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