Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Post GAFCON at All Souls, 1: ABp Henry Orombi

Live from the post-GAFCON meeting at All Souls (batteries permitting) here are my notes on the first talk, by Archbishop Henry Orombi.

Orthodoxy and Effective Mission

Effective mission can be very costly. HO is a child of the mission of the Church of England, which came to Uganda in 1877. 3 men took gospel to his people by invitation of the then king in Uganda.

People left ancestral worship, shifted from being warring tribes to loving, shifted from culture of people to following culture of gospel. Look back in pride to effective mission of your people and their ancestors.

People paid the price for believing the gospel and the church grew. Over 8 million now in the Anglican Church.

Effective mission came from preaching Word of God and this shifted people culturally.

In 1935 revival swept through this part of Africa. Message centred on ‘walking in the light’. People showed fruit of conversion, enthusiastic, repenting. There was a new impetus and that revival is still on. Many came to living faith in Jesus Christ. People proclaimed Jesus is Lord and Jesus is alive. In a multi-tribal setting, people were brought to love one another.

Worship became meaningful. Singing changed from ‘English’ to Ugandan. Social life changed. ‘The old has gone, the new has come.’

The honeymoon season ended and testing came. From 1971-1979 Idi Amin ruled and that was the advent of a dark season. Amin killed many, fed people to crocodiles, ruined the economy, drained the nation of effective leadership and destroyed what could be destroyed. But the church remained.

He even killed the Anglican Archbishop to instil fear in the people. This backfired — Anglicans came back to the church, realizing that the gospel is expensive. Amin laid a seed of utter commitment.

Then in 1987 to the present there has been civil strife in northern Uganda. People have been displaced into camps, but the church has gone with them, not running away.

This is incarnational. Effective mission involves being with people in their situation. HO has to follow that through in his own work and ministry to people.

HIV/AIDS is a problem. The church has responded. Illicit sex is a key way of transmitting this virus and the church has responded in its preaching abstinence and faithfulness. Church has preached against adultery and cohabitation, which is fornication.

People need to hear the truth and only this can liberate us. Church has cared for people with HIV, with sick, dying and dead.

Effective mission is a necessity of passing the faith we hold today to the next generation. We have received from the apostolic ministry and people who brought the faith to us. We have to pass it on.

Young people in Uganda are looking for meaning, they are anxious, but they are also looking to know the living God. HO was and is a youth pastor. Unless the true gospel is passed on, we will lose these young people.

The gospel is like a relay race — we have to pass on the baton, including to young people. So HO goes to young people’s camps. HO recently spent a week in young people’s camp to convey to them how important they are.

Do we still have the young people? If we lose young people today, church is in very dangerous ground, so he is keen to communicate to them. Eight of his travelling team as they go round diocese are young people. They are an investment. The urgency of the mission needs to be deposited in their lives. The next generation needs to be mentored, by example, by teaching.

Do we have anything to pass on to the next generation? If we do, we must pass it on. How will history judge us with regard to the next generation.

Ezekiel 33:1-9 — the watchman against the coming sword.

The trumpet call is a matter of urgency. HO was an Anglican from an early age. Today, he has been a voice in Uganda as one who has met the Lord, experienced the love of God, and who is willing to share it with others. He has been arrested and threatened. You don’t have to be a criminal to be arrested. Effective mission will involve persecution and sacrifice.

Watchmen need a clear vision to see the enemy — thus our vision needs to be clear. The watchman needs a vantage point from which to see — sometimes we don’t see what is happening. The watchman must make a clear sound on the trumpet — the sound is not clear in this Communion.

He longs to proclaim in England what the English proclaimed in Uganda. There is a need for boldness and clarity to proclaim this gospel. The world may be deaf and may laugh, but we have God’s command to proclaim this gospel. Any other gospel is not equal to the gospel for which the martyrs died.

So may the God of truth come on our planet to transform us from hopelessness to hope in the cross, to knit our hearts together so that we may be faithful. We will stand, witness and if need be die for the Word of God.

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  1. Wow John - you must type quickly - thanks for all your hard work. You have brought the All Souls conference alive for me, although I need to go through what was said with a fine-tooth comb when I have more time.
    Speakers there are certainly gifted and persuasive - I can imagine how it must feel as a Conservative Evangelical, heroically battling to 'save' the 'lost'! It just can't be this simple though. It's very strange to think of myself as perhaps being considered one of the lost who isn't being taught the true gospel. I find it at best a little patronising. I'm not a liberal because I subscribe to the five points etc but I also see no blasphemy in women being Bishops or in homosexuals being clothed with the righteousness of christ. From the perspective of one of the speakers at All Souls - is there any Hope for someone like me, do you think?

  2. Hi Rachel,

    I'm not sure what gospel you're being taught, so can't comment on whether it is true - although there certainly have always been false gospels around.

    On women bishops, this wasn't described as 'blasphemy' at the meeting today. I was heartened, though, by Peter Jensen's call for us to sit down and think through this whole issue again.

    On homosexuals being clothed with Christ's righteousness, that is the position of all of us (though I'm still struggling to get hold of how Tom Wright understands this concept).

    1 Corinthians 6:11 is quite clear, isn't it? "That is what some of you were." We're all clothed in Christ's righteousness.

    What are the 'five points' to which you refer? Not the 'five points' of Calvinism, surely?

  3. Five points - perhaps I just made that up - em - let me see - I think I articulate my faith thus
    Our sinfulness - number one and God's amazing grace.
    Two Jesus died to save us, actually I don't agree with this atonement being limited to only the 'elect'.
    Three - Faith alone not what we do - it's all about God, not us, we don't earn our salvation - it's God's gift to us
    Four 'Free grace' rather than 'irresistable grace'.
    OOps that's only four. You know I was brought up as a Christian but only realised that I wanted to dedicate my life to this about three years ago so I think I'm still a baby Christian. I'm a 'work - in -progress' - actually that's a difficult phrase to use, theologically speaking. Anyway, I'm blogging and reading and writing and going to St John's College in Sept to study Theology and Ministry and doing fun stuff in my local Church so that I can grow and share this wonderful Good News - so to be honest, sometimes, I'm just not too sure yet what I'm talking about. This is what makes Christianity so exciting for me. Not only is it the very best possible way to leave but God is so unknowable it will always be exciting finding out. I studied and taught literature for 10 years and so bring an enquiring, analytical mind to the Bible. Only in the last year have I discovered the different ways in which one constructs ones faith and by dialoging in the way I do - it's like iron sharpening iron - or whatever that very useful phrase might be - sorry to blab on for so long.
    Love Rachel

  4. John I'm being taught the NIV Gospel according to ... - you know the one about Jesus! It's this kind of talk that worries me so much and had me leave study groups in the Evangelical Parish where I live. I wasn't worshipping with them but at the next church on, in a different Parish because I'd lived there before. The more it was implied that I wasn't being taught the 'gospel' because I didn't go to their services, the more depressed I felt. Why do you Conservatives feel that the gospel isn't being taught by Christians who aim for an inclusive church annd both men and women in ministry? Can't anyone out there give me any straight-forward answers!!!

  5. Rachel,

    Thanks for your comments. I think perhaps you are getting too hung up on the differences over women's ordination. My view on this is that there is still room to differ - but that must also include structural provision to allow me to differ when it comes to a woman bishop, just as locally I wouldn't have to go to a church led by a woman vicar if I didn't want to, but could still remain fully Anglican.

    On homosexual practice, things are different. The Word of God is clearly against it, and it is a salvation-imperiling thing. Someone who taught that one could accept homosexual practice and be preaching the gospel would be to me like someone who preached that my instinct for greed was 'acceptable'.

    But what is 'the gospel'? I'm with you on your three and a half-points. Can I just ask a question? You said Jesus died to save us. Can I ask from what? The Church report The Mystery of Salvation posed this question several years ago. You might like to read my reflections on it here.

  6. Having trouble concentrating on your essay at the mo - children's CBBC channel blasting and tea might be burning so I'll come back to it.
    Re Saves me from what?
    Jesus saves me from obliteration/death. I can not come into the presense of God through my own efforts - the cross is like the bridge. Christ takes all my sin upon homself and hands to me his cloak of righteousness, I don't deserve it but he wants me to have it and I put it on. I can come into the presence of God now in this life and more fully in eternal life dressed this way and he loves me as much as he loves Jesus and accepts me - how beautiful this is and it's for free. Knowing this gift is there for me makes me want to sing, praise and pass the news on, it makes me want to be more and more conformed in likeness to Jesus - this I will never manage to do but God is a God of grace who has already prepared a way for me through the death of his son. It's amazing. This is how I see it in this season of my Christianity.

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