Something that you might have missed on Monday was a very interesting programme in the This World strand on BBC2 called Battle of the Bishops.
The programme primarily focuses on Archbishop Akinola and some of the other GAFCON during the run up to the conference. There are also contributions from Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark Cathedral and Bishop Tom Wright, and a visit to the Falls Church in Virginia, one of the most high profile split congregations (it counts several high ranking government officials amongst it’s membership, and can count George Washington as one of it’s former Churchwardens) where the bulk of the congregation have split from a small group that remain loyal to the Episcopal Church.
Aside from seeing some of what went on at GAFCON, the programme also shows something of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, and in particular a hint of the almost explosive level of growth that the Anglican Church in Nigeria is enjoying. I certainly don’t expect that as a programme it will make anyone change their minds, but it certainly underlines the fundamental differences in what those in Africa understand it is to be Anglican, and how we in the West understand it.
The programme will be available on iPlayer until next Monday, and I highly recommend taking a look if you get the opportunity.
As I watched the news yesterday morning with the announcement of what is effectively an Anglican split – the GAFCON group is saying that they will stay within the Anglican Communion, but will operate independently of the instruments of the communion – I couldn’t help but chuckle at the irony of the day on which they chose to make the announcement, the day of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
It may seem slightly odd that with many of the obscure saints across the Christian calendar who have a day to themselves, the church chooses to celebrate perhaps two of the most important saints together – but when you consider that these were the two people on whom the Church was built you can maybe start to understand why they are considered together. It is especially important when you start to look at the evidence within the New Testament and realise that whilst in later times the official recognition of Christianity in the Roman Empire needed some degree of orthodoxy to be imposed, back in these early days, Peter and Paul had significant differences in their opinions on a multitude of subjects in particular as the Church started to draw in Gentile converts alongside the original, Jewish membership.
Check out Mum’s sermon from yesterday that explores further the differences between Peter and Paul.