Ben Kwashi just stepped down as Anglican Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria. But he continues as a powerful voice in the Nigerian House of Bishops. His chapter on God’s glory in Reformation Anglicanism: A Vision for Today’s Global Communion (Crossway, 2017) is a stirring reminder of what that nebulous phenomenon is.
Archbishop Kwashi is well-known for his leadership in GAFCON, the tip of the spear that is realigning global Anglicanism toward orthodoxy and away from English and American liberalism. Kwashi’s house and church were burned down by Muslims in 1987. His wife Gloria was brutally attacked by Muslim thugs in 2006. When Boko Haram killed forty schoolchildren in 2014, he boldly challenged media elites who were blaming poverty (rather than radical religion) for Muslim violence.
Kwashi starts the chapter by reminding us that God’s glory is already all around us in God’s creation: “This glory is to be seen in and through the whole of creation in the power, the beauty, the variety, the detail, the organization, the wisdom, the love, and the life of the universe.” Kwashi cites Ps 19.1 (“The heavens declare the glory of God”), obviously rejecting the recent Western theologies that deny the existence of “natural revelation” (revelation in nature).
Kwashi says God’s glory is also seen in God’s people—in their lives—and was shown to Isaiah in the temple, to Ezekiel when he was called, and to John when in exile on Patmos. But it is supremely revealed in Jesus Christ: “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1.14).
Unlike earthly kings whose glory is seen in their crown and other trappings, John’s gospel tells us that God’s glory is seen in Jesus’ miracles, answered prayer, the work of the Holy Spirit, in the fellowship of the disciples, and “especially” in Jesus’ death.
The “litmus test for our Christian maturity” is whether we accept for ourselves praise and glory that belongs to God, Kwashi writes. It also means that we realize that we need to act to proclaim the Kingdom but know we cannot rely on our own strength.
Giving the glory to God and acting in his strength does not make us weak. Quite the opposite: “It puts us in a victorious position of freedom under the wings of God’s glory, the glory of the one ‘whose service is perfect freedom,’ as Cranmer wrote in the Collect for Peace.”
Kwashi ends his chapter with a bit of his life story, relating how the gospel has transformed his own life and calls for transformation in others. He proclaims “that there is no gospel of revenge or retaliation or vengeance, “ but that in fact “difficult times of persecution bring bright opportunities for the gospel of Jesus Christ to shine with God’s glory amid the darkness.” For “there is no other way than the way of suffering and the cross.”
Here, then, is Kwashi on God’s glory: It is seen in the wonder and beauty of the cosmos, but far more clearly in Jesus, not only his miracles but also his suffering and death. Archbishop Ben and his wife Gloria have experienced for themselves that glory in suffering persecution for the gospel at the hands of haters of the gospel. Even in the darkness of hate is the light of glory. Those are words of hope and freedom in the midst of this world’s darkness and despair.
What bracing and hopeful words in these times of terror and uncertainty.