Anglicans on the brink


Dallas Morning News: Has the Anglican communion finally reached the end of the line? As bishops of the 70 million-strong global federation of churches meet at the Lambeth Conference in England, the prospect of dissolution has never been more real. The reason? Sex and Scripture.

In particular, Anglicans — whose American branch is the Episcopal Church — are bitterly divided between modernizers, who stand for reinterpreting the Bible to reflect a more inclusive and affirming attitude toward gays and lesbians, and traditionalists, who believe that the church has no moral right to abandon orthodox Christian teaching on sexual morality, including homosexuality. Worryingly for those hoping to hold the 500-year-old church together, a quarter of the world’s Anglican bishops — particularly conservative Africans — are boycotting Lambeth.

Conservative Christianity

The traditionalists have the numbers and the growth momentum, especially in Africa and elsewhere in the Global South, as it is known, where a more theologically and morally conservative brand of Christianity is booming. The modernists, mostly in England and the United States, have the institutional power and the money — but their congregations are shrinking.

More than half the world’s Anglicans live in Africa today. By contrast, The Times of London reported in May that at the current rate of decline, there will be fewer than 100,000 churchgoing Anglicans left in England by 2050.

The Anglican turmoil matters because the nature of this crisis is a global bellwether. As goes the Anglican Communion, so likely goes the rest of the Christian world.

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