CHURCH OF NIGERIA
CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH: HOMOSEXUALITY, AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURE AND CHRISTIAN LIVING: THE STAND OF THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA.
LECTURE DELIVERED BY
REV. PROF. DAPO F. ASAJU, BISHOP THEOLOGIAN OF THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA AT THE ANNUAL BISHOPS RETREAT HELD AT IBRU CENTRE, AGBARHA OTOR, JANUARY 4-8,2021
I am grateful to our Leader, Primate of All Nigeria, His Grace, Most Rev. Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba for assigning me to make this presentation on the fight for the genuine Christian faith in the spirit of Jude 3 and the popular Hymn- ‘Faith of our Fathers’. This is done in context of the role of the Anglican Church of Nigeria in the fight for Biblical and Anglican orthodoxy as exemplified in the emergent GAFCON Movement. I also thank our Primate for endorsing my recent appointment as Director of GAFCON Bishops Training Institute, under the supervision of the General Secretary of GAFCON, His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Benjamin Kwashi. I also thank the former Primate, His Grace Most Rev. Peter Jasper Akinola who innovated the office of Bishop Theologian as an office to coordinate Theological reasoning, doctrinal positions and theological trainings of Bishops, Clergy and Laity, in the wake of the need for GAFCON to respond to a barrage of theological rubbish coming from the Western Christian brains who have infested Christian orthodoxy with their toxic theological abominations. It was under Akinola I was appointed representative of the Church of Nigeria on the strategic ‘Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order’ (IASCUFO). I must thank our immediate past Primate, Most Rev. Dr. Nicholas Okoh who was Chairman of the ‘GAFCON Theological Resource Group’ of which I was a member alongside other Brains like Abp Dr. Michael Fape, Late Rt. Rev. Prof. John Akao, Late Rt. Rev. Dr Simeon Adebola, Rt. Rev.(now Most Rev.) Dr. David Onuoha, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okeke, with other select Theologians across the continents. Abp. Okoh, rose to Succeed Abp. Peter Jasper Akinola as Primate of Church of Nigeria and later as Chairman of GAFCON. Providentially so, because historically, whilst it was Benjamin Kwashi who suggested to Primate Peter Akinola that an alternative conference be formed to challenge deviant, Lambeth, it was indeed, Nicholas Okoh who suggested the name and acronym- GAFCON. This Movement has come to stay as an ‘Alternative Lambeth’.
The importance of telling stories of controversial events is underscored by the following rationales: First, human beings often forget so soon, major events.
Second, there is tendency for revisionists to deliberately distort facts of history to suit their own devised versions of the truth and reality. Is it not amazing that some historians today question if the holocaust ever occurred even when some holocaust survivors are still alive!
Third, the high rate of turnover of leaders and appointment of new ones present us with many new leaders who may not know much about the history of the GAFCON reformation or revolution as it were and the role played by functionaries of the Church of Nigeria; and these have to be reminded by telling the story. No wonder, when Stephen the Martyr and Peter the Apostle, at Pentecost, had to present their defenses and propagation of the gospel, they began by telling the history of Israel from the call of Abraham, tracing it to the messianic fulfillments in Christ Jesus. The GAFCON story and the role of Church of Nigeria is fundamental to knowing the GAFCON event more so that the movement was initiated and led at pioneering stages by Nigerian Primates (Peter Akinola and Nicholas Okoh). Many retired bishops of CON have left active service, along with their vast knowledge, which are mostly undocumented. That is the lot of African leaders and heroes whose ideas and wisdom are not harnessed to mentor upcoming ones. We must thank and commend Abp Akinola for publishing the recent ‘library of a book on GAFCON’, in the ‘Who
Blinks First?”. The new Bishops in our midst will need to apprise themselves with a major part of what defines us as CON in the comity of the global Anglican Communion.
Fourth, the controversy which informed the formation of GAFCON is relevant to each and every one of us as Anglicans because it shall affect our image, identity and possibly ministry. I once had an encounter with a policeman while driving my car, travelling towards Ilesha to minister at a Theological Seminary. I was then a Rev. Canon dressed in clerical wears and had posted on my car windscreen, the label ‘Clergy’. I thought my identities were obvious but the barely literate policemen, after asking for my vehicle particulars, asked further the question- Are you a Pastor? I answered in the affirmative. Then came another question? of Which Church? I proudly told him that “I am a priest of the Anglican Church”. I was jolted by the next statement by the Policeman – “Is that not the Homosexual church?” Although I was in a hurry to meet up with my appointment, I had to take some time to educate the man that Anglicans in Nigeria do not subscribe to homosexuality and that actually, we are in the lead in the battle against our apostate Anglican family members in USA who practiced abominable act. Our conversation ended on a dismissive note by the policeman in Pidgin English.’ Oga carry your particular and go. I no understand your grammar, as far as we are concerned, Anglican na Anglican; all of una be homosexual church’. It then dawned on me that it is not out of place for us in CON to commit to fighting against this dent in our Communion’s identity and spirituality. An injury on any part of the body will be painfully felt by all.
Permit me to tell another story which underscores the need for lectures like this. GAFCON 2008 happened in Jerusalem; I was one of the speakers at a major panel of scholars who debated the issues, before the formulation of the Jerusalem Declaration. Shortly after GAFCON 1, in actualizing one of the decisions taken at the conference, the GAFCON Primates Council was formed to define policies that will guide the future leadership of the movement. I was invited along with RT. Rev (now Most Rev. Dr.) Emmanuel Egbunu to provide secretarial cover for the pioneering meeting and subsequently prepare their first Communique; I need not stress that our presence and role at the highest foundation leadership meeting of GAFCON was not limited to just taking minutes. Intermittently during the meetings, when matters got knotty, presiding Archbishop Akinola would declare ‘fifteen minutes Tea Breaks’ during which he pulled aside ‘his boys’ and asked for their impressions and opinions on the subject of debate. This was a profound exercise in mentorship and leadership. Sometimes, our suggestions were useful in arriving at their decisions. Present at the first Primates Council were (then): Primate Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Primate Benjamin Paul Nzimbi of Kenya, Primate Henry Luke Orombi of Uganda, Primate of Tanzania, Primate Greg Venables of Southern Cone, Abp Peter Jensen of Sydney, Most Rev. Bob Duncan (later Primate of ACNA), Primate Mouneer Anis (Archbishop of Alexandria and Bishop of Egypt), Primate of Province of West Africa (Ghana), etc. It was a rare privilege to seat with Primates and learn from their wisdom as they charted through muddy waters of reformation. Now, why do I tell this story? One after this pioneer meeting of GAFCON champions, which laid the very foundations of GAFCON, most of the pioneers Primates had retired, including Akinola, Nzimbi, Orombi etc. Abp. Nicholas Okoh had become Nigerian Primate and when GAFCPON 2 happened, brand new leaders had emerged. No wonder that African provinces which stood firm with GAFCON when it started began to wane and wither in their resoluteness under subsequent Primates, take for example, Kenya, after Abp Ehud Wabukala. Kenya Primate was not even in attendance at GAFCON 3 at Jerusalem. Here comes the question of continuity of vision with high turnover of retiring Bishops and Archbishops. Same things happen at diocesan levels, where new Bishops change with youthful exuberances, the solid foundations and policies laid down by their hard working predecessors. This is wrong. Therefore it is important to tell the story so that we know the source of ‘our proverbial river lest we dry up’ as we flow along the rough terrain and topography of the human sexuality controversy which is still driven by secular and ecclesiastical powers that be in the western world and gradually infiltrating the African continent and their churches. WE will be deceiving ourselves if we deny that homosexuals have not infiltrated the ranks of our clergy and bishops.
The church has always grappled with problems of False Teachers and False Teachings or doctrines. The Bible records constant warnings for the faithful’s to resist them by ‘fighting the good fight of faith’. The same question asked Eve in the Garden by Satan- ‘Has God Said? is the very root of aberrations, disputations, distortions and philosophizing the truths of the Holy Bible. Jude admonished Christians to Contend for the Faith which was once and for all delivered unto the Saints. Jesus warned that we should beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Peter confronted Simon Margus, Paul confronted Elymais the Sorcerer, the Early Church battled heresies and controversies such as Donatism, Marcionism, Pelagianism, Montanism and Arianism. The Church was always worse of with every emergent controversy; they so weakened the post-Early church that it made the church susceptible to being overrun in North Africa and Asia Minor, by violent and systemic Isiamization. We are yet to recover from this huge loss; Alas, the same mistake made by the church in times of controversies are being repeated by our generation; and the same strategies used by ‘Enemies of the Cross’ are still being adopted against the church in Nigeria and elsewhere today. The Church has become the number one target of a combination of the following enemies: Islam, Liberal Theology, Secular philosophy, Communism, Secularism, Evolutionism, Paganism, Occult and Satanism, etc.
The Church responded to these attackers and their attacks in different ways: Martyrdom especially during the Judeo-Roman persecutions ( During this era we raise our heads as Africans for the roles played by the Early Church Fathers such as Tertullian, Ireneaus, Origen, Augustine of Hippo, Clement of Alexandria and St. Anthony, the father of Monasticism, etc). May we recall that the canonization of the New Testament was ratified at a synod of the Church at Carthage, North Africa in 397 AD? African gave the world the New Testament. We gave the world Christian Theology and Monastic orders. Add these to the symbolic roles which Africa and Africans played in the Biblical evolution of the Christian story: The enslavement of Israelites in Egypt, Moses’ marriage to an African wife, Solomon’s relationship with Queen of Sheba, which legendarily produced the African Jews in Israel called the Falashastf Ethiopia (a descendant that included the famous Emperor Haile Sellasie of Ethiopia), the presence of African nationals at Pentecost event (recorded in Acts 2) when the Church was formally birthed, etc. The summation of these is that we as African Anglicans are no underdogs in the Christian story neither are we slaves in the global Church community. We must therefore completely decolonize the mentality that the Whites in America or Europe will make us play second fiddle on any matter doctrinal or ecclesiastical. In fact, after Israelites themselves, Africans historically played more active roles than the Europeans prior to the era of Isiamization, slavery and colonialism.
I referred earlier to Tertullian. His work is relevant here in addressing the controversial role of ‘Reason in the so-called Anglican Tripod. Some Bishops took me up when at GAFCON Bible Study I questioned the abuse of Reason in estimation of core Anglican spirituality. Richard Hooker who postulated the Tripod had been challenged even by White Theologians. Reason is useful and is not to be totally discarded but it cannot ever be equated with Scripture on any ground. The battle cry of the Lutheran reformation was sola scriptura. That gave birth to the Anglican protestant heritage. Remember that a Tripod sits on three equal legs. The Roman Catholic equation of Scripture with Tradition (Not even Reason) was a major bone of contention in Martin Luther’s reformation and part of his 95 Theses. Till today, Roman Catholic Theology cherishes ‘Tradition’ even more than the Bible as the Papal Bull from the Vatican is rated as being as authoritative as the Bible itself. Not even Muslims will equate Quran with Hadith (Traditions!). Hear Tertullian’s submission as a man of great knowledge and exposure, having been a Stoic Philosopher and then the leading western Theologian of his time; a man who felt the tension of what Reason and Scripture can have on the culture of the people and their spirituality. In his words:
What has Jerusalem to do with Athens, the Church with the Academy, the Christian with the Heretic? After Jesus we have no need of speculation, after the Gospel, no need of Inquiry. Our instructions come from the porch of Solomon…
‘By their fruits we shall know them.’ If the fruit of Reason has been the questioning of divine Inspiration of the Holy Bible, The Lordship of Jesus Christ, Incarnation and Virgin Birth, The Miracles, The Salvific Death and resurrection and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only Saviour of the world, then we don’t need such a theology- our colonial mentality (including our inherited colonial seminary curricula) under the British Anglican, may have to be revised. We should be careful in aligning the curriculum for training our priests to agree with the Holy Bible and equip them with relevant tools that will help their relevant ministry in the contemporary world. It was the polluted theological seminaries of the West that produced bad unbelieving priests and theologians who killed the church. We do not want to go that route in the Church of Nigeria. If their jaundiced liberal theologies has led to decline of Christianity in the whole of Europe and North America, civilizations which were founded upon Christian culture and values, and whose universities were started by the Church; if such a Reason factor has resulted in closing down of churches and radical decline in church decline especially by the younger generation, we definitely don’t want to commit same spiritual suicide.
Africa today as well as the Global South is the centre of gravity of Christianity globally. We must cherish this heritage and fight to defend it against whoever the revisionists might be. Remember the Apologetic of Paul and his warning that “But though we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9). On Sola Scriptura, as laid down theologically by Martin Luther we should stand. Neither Richard Hooker; nor even Thomas Cranmer should not define our Anglican spirituality as long as we uphold the fundamentals of the Lutheran Protestant reformation.
Relating these arguments to the question of homosexuality and same-sex marriage crisis in the Anglican Church, we only need to ask three simple questions and avoid being dragged into needless debates over an obvious position. First, what is the Mind of God on this matter? What does scripture say? Clearly it is described as abomination that will earn the wrath of God. Second, is the practice natural? Do even animals of same gender degenerate to the low level of homosexuality? No, not even dogs. Third, has the practice any precedence historically? Oh Yes, over five thousand years ago at Sodom and Gomorrah. And what did God do about it? Did He entertain any debate on the matter? No! He rained sulphur and Hailstones and burnt-down the entire people. What makes us think that God who exercised such anger against homosexual communities by physically destroying them will change His mind and tolerate same abomination in our times? Fathers in God, our academic and ecclesiastical qualifications and positions do not permit us to play ‘God’ on matters of spirituality. Moreover, can homosexuals reproduce? No, Same-sex marriages cannot produce children, which is a major component of marriage? Malachi 2: 15 says: “And why did I allow you to marry? because I desire Godly Seed”. Homosexuals are enemies of their own societies because as older people die and there are not enough younger ones to replace them, the population gradually goes into extinction. Homosexuality violates the sanctity of Man as Imago Dei, It also breeds sexually transmissible diseases that kill in millions, it populates Hell. It also accommodates other sexual perversions such as bestiality, incest, transgender, etc. This may be a satanic agenda to destroy God’s imprint on man and depopulate hitherto Christian communities which are now been overtaken by Islamic immigrants who rapidly reproduce children who gradually will grow up to out-populate the indigenous communities and thereby take over their elections, government and other sectors of their lives. It is noteworthy that in the entire Constitution of European Union, there is no single mention of the Word ‘God’. That was Christian Europe which the Crusaders fought to establish, a Europe which Constantine the Great liberated. Praise to God that “The Blood of the Martyrs was Seed”. But has the seed endured today?
That is why we must be proactive and stop a repeat of the historical tragedy. The foregoing reasons account for why conservative/ orthodox Christians must fight against unorthodox teachings and practices which negate Biblical teachings.
Homosexuality was just made an arrow head in the modern rebellion. As Prof. Mark Coppenhager rightly observed, “the issue is much broader than this, in that it concerns the very authority of the Bible, the integrity of the gospel, and the primacy of the Great Commission”. The church that was called out, washed by the Blood of the Lamb and sent out to save, cure and build, have now become allies of Satan, destroying the people of God and putting the eternity of many people in jeopardy. This is the concern which evangelical Anglicans, to which Nigerian Anglican Christians belong, that informed the strong position the church has taken on the issue of Biblical orthodoxy. In our expression of Faith, like Paul, “We walk by Faith (as Bible Believers) and not by sight (Theological rationalists and revisionist). We do not allow our culture to dictate to or override our Faith; rather, everywhere Christian Gospel advanced, culture bows to Faith not the other way around. We do not suffer the delusion of the West which define human rights in terms that alienate the Will of God. As King Nebuchadnezzar was forced to acknowledge, our God reigns in the affairs of man- and that is so in every ramification. We strive to be Believers and Soldiers of Christ in words and in deed. Not that African people do not have their own peculiar problems such as corruption, failure of governance and a good share of sexual sins such as adultery, rape, masturbation etc; yet in these the Church fights against all forms of sins and evil, upholding righteous standards. In all these, homosexuality, which is becoming popularized by the globalizing influence of American cultures in Africa, is still seen as an extreme violation of Godly living, which should be resisted. If the western church is foolish enough to be beguiled into this evil, they should not drag Africans into hell with themselves. We have enough problems to deal with than this extreme rebellion. These underscore Nigeria’s attitude in the fight to uphold the GAFCON JERUSAMEM GAFCON DECLARATION. This to the best of my knowledge is the first and most authoritative apologetic response to the homosexuality agenda.
THE EVOLUTION OF GAFCON
Lambeth meetings held every ten years to address crucial issues affecting the Anglican Communion. Although Lambeth resolutions had limited legal binding effects on the autonomous Provinces, its strength is in the collegiality and communality as well as the moral cum spiritual respect for the historic and shared Anglican heritage which compels compliance to its resolutions. The Lambeth 1998 addressed the emerging issue of accommodating homosexual relations within the ranks and file of the church. The battle was against respect for Scriptural position on the issue or preference for liberal theological interpretation which undermined biblical ethics and permitted / promoted support for same-sex relations by the Church. Underlying the two positions were the influences of culture over scripture and racial arrogance by the Western churches led by initially Episcopal Church of United Sates of America (later changed to The Episcopal Church (TEC) and Canada. Later on in the debate, Canterbury (under Abp Rowan Williams) played diplomatic roles, subtly supporting the Gay Agenda. Abp George Carey presided over the Lambeth 1998, while Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Abiodun Adetiloye led the Church of Nigeria Bishops to the conference. A number of senior Nigerian Bishops who are still with us at this Retreat, including (then) Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma (bishop of Bauchi, later Enugu), Rt. Rev. (later Most Rev. Dr). Joseph Akinfenwa (then bishop of Sokoto; later Ibadan) and Rt. Rev. Nathan Inyom, Bishop of Makurdi, Rt. Rev. Nyom bishop of Kano etc. were present and were outspoken against the Gay Agenda. Rt. Rev. (later Most Rev.) Chukuwma addressed the international press where he openly warned that Nigeria will never subscribe to homosexuality agenda and that the western Anglicans needed ‘spiritual deliverance’. TEC’s arrogance is a fall out of decades of revisionist tendencies on the Holy Bible and submission to compromised western culture which had emerged from a gradual de-Christianization of the western societies but the forces of secularism. The effects were dramatic decline in church attendance, cessation of evangelicalism and missions, accommodation of sexual perversions and dominance of synodical resolutions over the voice of Scripture. Western societies prided themselves as becoming Post-Christian. In this stance, the Churches in the West believed that since they were instrumental in missionary evangelization of the African former colonies, they reserved the right to still dictate to the ‘inferior’ African and Asian countries and their churches on matters of spirituality and ecclesiastical canons. In a funny sense, they claimed to have written the Bible and could freely rewrite it at will. This is an assault against the doctrine of divine inspiration and authority of Scripture. Other trends of disrespect for the Lord Jesus Christ and canvassing human rights to negate Biblical injunctions developed. The West had money which ironically were benefactions inherited from their faithful Anglican Church forebears who invested in the church. Now, their faithless descendants are using the money of faithful Dead to fight against the Truth of the Gospel. Money was used as a bait and weapon to influence the so-called poor countries of the Global South especially African churches in East, Central and Southern Africa; only a few in West-Africa. Many poor Anglican provinces succumbed to the lures of TEC and Canada because of the donations they received from them, which really were a pittance. Mammon became more influential than serving God and upholding the truth. TEC was bewildered that Nigerian Anglican Province could have the audacity to challenge the West and uphold Biblical authority and ethics.
After heated debates at Lambeth 1998, the matter was put to the vote and majority of Bishops present voted against adopting homosexual relations in the Anglican Church. Resolution 110 was passed. The matter was to remain so, while further consultations were to follow to bring the two sides to a possible agreement. In its characteristic American arrogance and defiance, ECUSA (TEC) immediately after the Lambeth resolution, went ahead to implement recognition of homosexual relations, appointed missionaries who campaigned to lure Africans to buy into the agenda and proceeded in 2003 to consecrate Gene Robinson, a self-proclaimed Gay, as Bishop of New Hampshire. By this time Abp Peter jasper Akinola had become Primate of the Church of Nigeria. In characteristic African Christian fervor, Akinola spearheaded resistance to TEC, Canada and allies and initiated a number of meetings of the Primates Council of the Anglican Communion to address the various dimensions of the issue to the intent to salvage the torn fabric of the Anglican Communion. Also by this time, Rowan Williams had assumed the headship of the Anglican Communion having become Archbishop of Canterbury. Various meetings were held all over the world to resolve the crisis which had become an embarrassment to the entire Communion and dented the orthodox image of the Anglican Church worldwide.
According to the well documented book recently published by Most Rev. Peter Akinola titled ‘Who Blinks First: Who Blinks First?: Biblical Fidelity Against the Gay Agenda in the Global Anglican Communion’, the following timeline and meetings happened about the crisis:
– 1967 in Germant- The birth of the homosexuality campaign
– 1972- USA leadership adopts culture promoting homosexuality globally.
– 1997- Meeting of the ‘Global South’ of Anglicans held at Kualar Lumpur, Malaysia and issued of her Communique to defend the Faith from attacks. The voice of Global South Communique was labeled ‘The Trumpet” (This writer and speaker chaired the Trumpet Communique in 2010 at Singapore)
– 1998. Lambeth Conference in Kent, London, and passing of Resolution 110. A choice was to be made on emergent controversy on sexuality.
The Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which is the Lambeth bedrock of the fight against the Gay agenda, has the following four essential declarations of conviction and resolve:
- In view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage;
- Recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;
- While rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation….;
- Cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.
– 2000 Canterbury’s Archbishop Carey sends pastoral letter to all bishops, urging them to maintain “the Church’s historic teaching”
– Canada begins homosexual actions which started ‘Rumblings in the House’ in 2002
– 2003 – Primates Council meets in London to address the issue to no resolution. Rowan Williams compromised the conservative role of Canterbury and pandered to the pressures from TEC which was a source of funding the Anglican Communion office and activities in London. Rowan Cantuar challenged Primate Peter Akinola by declaring himself, not as a defender of the Faith, but as an umpire between fighters on either side Biblical orthodoxy and liberal revisionists of the West. He used the phrase, “we shall see who Blinks First”. This is because of the catching title of Peter Akinola’s comprehensive and chronological documentation of the entire crisis in the Anglican Communion.
– 2003 – Gene Robinson a Gay, consecrated bishop of New Hampshire in USA.
– 2004- Orthodox Anglican provinces react and threatened to break communion with TEC and later, with Canterbury if the evil trend was sustained,
– 2004- Peter Akinola mobilized CAPA, made up of African Provinces of the Anglican Church which was initiated and headed initially by former Primate Joseph Adetiloye and now, by Peter Akinola. A conference was hosted at Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral, Lagos West Diocese, coordinated by the host. Rt. Rev. Peter Adebiyi. The theme of the conference was Africa Comes of Age’. This writer made a presentation at the event where he called for complete de-colonization of western Christianity in Africa and endorsed radical departure from revisionist western churches. Peter Akinola led all African Anglicans as he later also led all Global South in this fight for Anglican orthodoxy. In doing this, he actually built upon the legacy laid by Abiodun Adetiloye. Nigeria has always had erudite and charismatic Primates; from Timothy Olufosoye, to Abiodun Adetiloye and Peter Jasper Akinola, the Nicholas Okoh and now our erudite Primate Henry Ndukuba whose theological training at Durham and Princeton respectively represent one of the finest of British and American theological training. These, added to practical experience in missions will equip him to advance this struggle beyond his predecessors. Of course, Adetiloye was an Oxford University product, while Akinola was produced by the American Virginia Theological Seminary for his postgraduate studies, while Okoh was bred at Nigeria’s foremost pioneer University of Ibadan’s school of Religious studies. We are definitely not underdogs to any other race nor their scholars and leaders. This is partly why Church of Nigeria has provided the strongest leadership to GAFCON, CAPA and Global South.
– The Church of Nigeria later met and decided to revise its constitution and Canons which had stipulated the definition of who an Anglican is. Hitherto and traditionally, this was determined by provinces that are in communion with the See of Canterbury. In the face of changes in Canterbury and its departure from holding the fundamentals of the Faith, Church of Nigeria’s General Synod decided to modify the parameter to being Faithful Christian to the Biblical Scripture, lordship of Jesus Christ and communion with other Bible-Believing Anglicans worldwide. As Akinola loudly declared, “The road to Heaven does not pass through Canterbury”. The above declarations led to formal break in communion by the Anglican Church of Nigeria with The Episcopal Church and strained relationship with Canterbury. Let it be loudly stated that Church of Nigeria did not by taking these steps break away from Anglican Church. We are saying that it is TEC, Canterbury and their allies who are breaking away from traditional Anglicanism and that GAFCON and those Churches who subscribe to the Jerusalem Declaration are indeed the genuine Anglicans. More so that the numerical strength of Anglicans in the world are in the Global South, especially Africa. In fact, the Church of Nigeria is the most populated of all Anglican provinces globally. Therefore, African Anglican resolutions led to subtle to your Tents of Israel’. It is just like the strained break between Israel and Judah occasioned by the division of the Kingdom after Solomon, but both countries have never denied their common origin, history, culture and spirituality, under the same God.
– 2005 – Meetings in England could not resolve the crisis, Canterbury becoming openly sympathetic to TEC.
– 2005, Primates Council meets in Egypt and attempts were made by TEC to divide and rule African leaders again. Akinola resolved that Church of Nigeria will spearhead financial empowerment of African churches to the extent that they stop depending upon American donations which lead some African countries to identify with revisionist and rebellious western Churches. It is of major note that some African Anglican church leaders refused to join the GAFCON struggle. Of special mention is Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. He sympathized with the Gay Agenda, How could a man who was respected so much for fighting against Apartheid not agree to fight for the Biblical truth and the truth of the Gospel of Christ. It is a dilemma how Africans easily capitulate to the West at the slightest inducement. Unless we are united, the same story will repeat itself as it did during the slavery and colonialism eras. We should always stand for principles and integrity, not material benefits that compromise standing and fighting for the Faith.
– 2005 Archbishop Akinola issues statement denouncing the Church of England’s House of Bishops’ acceptance of civil partnerships; insists it contravenes extant Anglican Church position
– 2005 Church of Nigeria synod votes to amend its constitution; redefines its relationship in the Communion around shared faith rather than allegiance to the see of Canterbury
– 2006 – A new Primate of The Episcopal Church of America, a woman, Most Rev. Katherine Jefferts Schori emerges and becomes more virulent in the fight for same sex marriages and Gay expansionism. (Upon her retirement, TEC now has a new Primate, the first Black Primate, Most Rev. Michael Curry- but this does not change the TEC Gay agenda).
– 2006 American Church changes its name from the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) to The Episcopal Church (TEC); approves resolution A167 that “pledged inclusion of openly homosexual persons on every committee, commission or task force dealing with sexuality issues”
– 2006 Archbishop Akinola meets in Northern Virginia with US Diocese seeking “Alternative Primatial Oversight” 2006 Eight Virginia parishes vote to depart TEC and affiliate with Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA)
– 2007 Archbishop Akinola presides over installation of Martyn Minns as Missionary Bishop of CANA in Woodbridge, Virginia
– 2007 Archbishop Akinola presides over Global South Primates in Shanghai, China; communique asserts that what was at stake in crisis was the very nature of Anglicanism; Primates “reject the religion of accommodation and cultural conformity”
– 2007 – Meeting of Primates Council held variously at Dar Es Salam, Tanzania; Mauritius and Canada, yet again another at Nairobi, Kenya on the same issue but unresolved. The die was cast as TEC went ahead to elect another woman, a Lesbian as Bishop.
– The question that arose was, will Nigeria and other African Anglicans attend Lambeth 2008? This becomes the rallying point of the battle cry. We shall not go to Lambeth. It was quite a struggle to convince many Bishops not to attend Lambeth, for can two walk together unless they agree? Can we attend Lambeth with TEC Gay members after Canterbury was warned not to invite TEC to Lambeth according to the Lambeth resolution 110? Rowan Williams, in defiance, invited TEC to Lambeth 2008. To have attended was to have communed with apostate church members and their resolutions if put to vote and outvoted by Gay sympathizing members would have compromised the position of the faithful fighters for the Faith. The decision was, we shall not go to Lambeth. In this same house, warnings had to be given against bishops in Nigeria who were eager to attend the Lambeth, This attitude accounts for instance for the appointment of a retired Archbishop, Josiah Idowu Fearon, accepting appointment as Secretary of the Anglican communion Office when the Church of Nigeria had unresolved issues of communing with Canterbury and in complete defiance of the interests and positions of his home church of Nigeria.
– The alternative arrangement was a master stroke. If not Lambeth, then where shall Faithful
Anglicans converge? This led to GAFCON.
- 2008- First GAFCON convenes; biblically-orthodox Anglicans numbering 1,184, from 19 provinces, congregate in Jerusalem; pass the “Jerusalem Declaration” and form Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA); Primates Council consisting of seven 19 Primates established and call made for the formation and recognition of new North American province for members of the Common Cause Partnership
- July 2008. Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) was organized to take place at Jerusalem during the same period that Lambeth was scheduled. Lambeth was for bishops alone, who met every ten years. But Bishops alone do not constitute the Church. The Anglican Church is made up of three Houses: House of Bishops, House of Clergy and House of Laity. Gafcon brought together all Anglicans of the various categories, This was the first time such would happen in an Episcopal- led Anglican traditional church. Unlike the structured formal Lambeth, GAFCON was a spiritual event, a pilgrimage of sorts which afforded participants to interact, freely worship, expose to various cultures of worship, mend the divide between clergy and laity, brought our new talents and engaged in discussions on crucial issues that help church ministry in the spirit of priesthood of all Believers., including children, youths, women, the under privileged, etc, facilitated healthy debates and built upon the spiritual euphoria of participants walking on the very spots and oaths trodden by our Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. That was where our Lord was crucified, we visited Bethlehem where the Lord was born, we worshipped at the Temple Mount and stood upon Mount Olives where Our Lord ascended to heaven and where it is believed He will return at rapture. Was it not at Jerusalem that the first Council meeting held as recorded in Acts 15? It was a controversy that called for the first Council which was resolved in favour of gentile evangelization without Judaistic encumbrances. Now that the Gay controversy occurred and could not be resolved, the right and fitting place to go to was Jerusalem- another Church Council. Recall that the Pentecost took place also at Jerusalem. GAFCON was a spiritual Pentecost- Rebirth and empowerment.
- The first meeting of GAFCON Primates Council met at Marriot Hotel, London where effects were put to the various key resolutions to build a structure for the GAFCON movement. The following decisions were taken:
- The Name GAFCON was to be retained as identity since it had become popular although it originally was designed to describe a conference, not an organization,
- The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans were to be formed in various parts of the world where GAFCON members operate,
- The GAFCON Primates Council is to meet regularly to regulate the activities of the Movement and its members,
- Faithful Anglicans who were being persecuted in North America, Canada on account of their
standing for the Gospel, are to be given safe haven by creating an autonomous province of the ACNA (Anglicans in North America. (ACNA). A Primate, Most Rev. Duncan was elected to preside. Primates Council was empowered to recognize dioceses that will be in communion with GAFCON and to enthrone new bishops of ACNA
- Credal formulation was agreed to address all elements of the revisionist agenda, the same way that major controversies of the early church led to formulation of the Apostles, Nicene and Athansaian creeds. This was to be designed to be said at every service of the church, just like the Apostles and Nicene Creed. Incidentally, when the Bishop Theologian submitted a draft to this same House at one of our Retreats, it was not taken. Rather, the House preferred a simple Oath of Non- practice of Homosexuality drafted by the Legal Team of the Church of Nigeria. GAFCON globally is yet to actualize the decision by GAFCON Primates, Council that there be a new Creed. Apostles and Nicene addressed challenges of Arianism and Montanism, while Athanasian Creed addressed the Trinitarian controversy. A New creed should address recognition of divine inspiration and authority of the Holy Bible, Lordship of Jesus Christ, Fundamental of salvation including judgment that leads to heaven or hell, living holy lives in accordance to Biblical ethics including sexual ethics and marriage as designed by God and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only savior of the world. This is important because the uniqueness has been compromised, The Church of England, our root has so degenerated from the level where Ramadan fasts were broken in Anglican church cathedrals with bishops in attendance, where the Queen of England redesignated herself not as ‘Defender of the Faith’ but now as Defender of faith(s) in a worrisome spirit of syncretism and inclusivism which is strange to genuine Christianity. Surely, “There is no other name given under Heaven through which man can be saved except the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” (Acts 4; 12.) These are the fundamental issues in the GAFCON war against liberal Churches and their jaundiced theologies in the West.
The Jerusalem Declaration
– The greatest thing that emerged from GAFCON 2009 was the Jerusalem Declaration which has now been included as appendage in our revised Church of Nigeria Book of Common Prayer. Kindly read through the details reproduced below, for a glimpse of return to Biblical and Anglican Orthodoxy. Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, are a fellowship of confessing Anglicans for the benefit of the Church and the furtherance of its mission. We are a fellowship of people united in the communion (koinonia) of the one Spirit and committed to work and pray together in the common mission of Christ. It is a confessing fellowship in that its members confess the faith of Christ crucified, stand firm for the gospel in the global and Anglican context, and affirm a contemporary rule, the Jerusalem Declaration, to guide the movement for the future. We are a fellowship of Anglicans, including provinces, dioceses, churches, missionary jurisdictions, para-church organisations and individual Anglican Christians whose goal is to reform, heal and revitalize the Anglican Communion and expand its mission to the world.
Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion. We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism, which defines our core identity as Anglicans, is expressed in these words: The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. We intend to remain faithful to this standard, and we call on others in the Communion to reaffirm and return to it. While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as a historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Building on the above doctrinal foundation of Anglican identity, we hereby publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of our fellowship.
The Jerusalem Declaration
In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit: We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, have met in the land of Jesus’ birth. We express our loyalty as disciples to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus. We joyfully embrace his command to proclaim the reality of his kingdom which he first announced in this land. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of salvation, liberation and transformation for all. In light of the above, we agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity.
- We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things.
- We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading.
- We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
- We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.
- We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ,, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgment and hell, who lived the life we could not live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith.
- We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.
- We recognize that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders.
- We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.
- We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ and to baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.
- We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy.
- We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this declaration.
- We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.
- We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.
- We rejoice, at the prospect of Jesus’ coming again in glory, and while we await this final event of history, we praise him for the way he builds up his church through his Spirit by miraculously changing lives.
The Road Ahead
We believe the Holy Spirit has led us during this week in Jerusalem to begin a new work. There are many important decisions for the development of this fellowship which will take more time, prayer and deliberation. Among other matters, we shall seek to expand participation in this fellowship beyond those who have come to Jerusalem, including cooperation with the Global South and the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa. We can, however, discern certain milestones on the road ahead. Primates’ Council
We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, do hereby acknowledge the participating Primates of GAFCON who have called us together, and encourage them to form the initial Council of the GAFCON movement. We look forward to the enlargement of the Council and entreat the Primates to organise and expand the fellowship of confessing Anglicans.
We urge the Primates’ Council to authenticate and recognise confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith.
We recognise the desirability of territorial jurisdiction for provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion, except in those areas where churches and leaders are denying the orthodox faith or are preventing its spread, and in a few areas for which overlapping jurisdictions are beneficial for historical or cultural reasons.
We thank God for the courageous actions of those Primates and provinces who have offered orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership, especially in North and South America. The actions of these Primates have been a positive response to pastoral necessities and mission opportunities. We believe that such actions will continue to be necessary and we support them in offering help around the world.
We believe this is a critical moment when the Primates’ Council will need to put in place structures to lead and support the church. In particular, we believe the time is now ripe for the formation of a province in North America for the federation currently known as Common Cause Partnership to be recognized by the Primates’ Council.
Conclusion: Message from Jerusalem
We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, were summoned by the Primates’ leadership team to Jerusalem in June 2008 to deliberate on the crisis that has divided the Anglican Communion for the past decade and to seek direction for the future. We have visited holy sites, prayed together, listened to God’s Word preached and expounded, learned from various speakers and teachers, and shared our thoughts and hopes with each other.
The meeting in Jerusalem this week was called in a sense of urgency that a false gospel has so paralysed the Anglican Communion that this crisis must be addressed. The chief threat of this dispute involves the compromising of the integrity of the church’s worldwide mission. The primary reason we have come to Jerusalem and issued this declaration is to free our churches to give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ.
It is our hope that this Statement on the Global Anglican Future will be received with comfort and joy by many Anglicans around the world who have been distressed about the direction of the Communion. We believe the Anglican Communion should and will be reformed around the biblical gospel and mandate to go into all the world and present Christ to the nations.
Jerusalem Feast of St Peter and St Paul
29 June 2008
2008 -First meeting of GAFCON Primates’ Council, held at Marriot Hotel, Heathrow, London; GAFCON was reviewed and plans made for future
2008- Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) established under the leadership of Bishop Bob Duncan
2008 Lambeth Conference organised at University of Kent; gay group hold party outside and within the venue; more than 200 bishops boycott conference; conference adopts “Indaba” style, producing no resolutions or decisions
2009 Church of Nigeria House of Bishops again issues statement giving strong support to GAFCON
2009 Global Anglican Communion Primates meet in Alexandria, Egypt; reaffirms Lambeth 1.10; asks for restraint on all three moratoria called for in Windsor Report; calls for a professionally-mediated conversation to resolve disagreement in North America; affirms plan for Pastoral Council and Pastoral Visitors; requests ACNA to neither “recruit” nor “proselytize” to expand membership-2010- 2010 Second All Africa Bishops Conference takes place in Entebbe, Uganda
Further Developments in GAFCON
GAFCON 2008 was a reformation after the order of martin Luther’s protestant reformation. The global Anglican church has not remained the same ever since. GAFCON is growing stronger, while Lambeth is going weaker. GAFCON 2008 was unique in its spiritual and financial benefactions. Whereas GAFCON ended with huge credits in its finances, Lambeth 2008 ended with colossal indebtedness that was defrayed by the same Gay TEC of America. It is noteworthy that under Abp Peter Akinola, financial dependence upon the western dioceses was broken. Even as Dean of The Church of Nigeria, under the Primacy of Abiodin Adetiloye, Akinola raises funds within Nigeria and sponsored all Nigerian Bishops to Lambeth 1998 and each Bishop returned home with bounties of Pounds Sterling as pocket monies. Those who were present and who are still serving, will attest to this. It is remarkable that Under Akinola’s leadership. All Nigerian Bishops and contingents (especially all Bishops) were sponsored free of charge (including Air tickets, hotel accommodation, feeding and tours in Jerusalem, some still had some pocket monies, thanks to faithful donors like General Theophilus Danjuma who I learnt donated five hundred Million Naira as pat of the sponsorship. Therefore, we must commend the resolve, determination, leadership acumen and dogged radical faith of Nigerian Anglican primates. Bishops, Clergy and laity in contributing to the GAFCON. Peter Akinola still serves on the Advisory Committee of GAFCON along with Anglican philanthropist, Dr Emmanuel Kampouris, (an awardee of Doctorate Degree of Ajayi Crowther University Oyo, in honour of his contributions to GAFCON Movement),
Subsequent meetings of GAFCON conferences held at five yearly intervals. Nairobi 2013 under Chairmanship of then Kenya Primate, Most Rev Wabukala and 2018 under own former Primate, Nicholas Okoh. These two conferences built upon the patters of the original GAFCON 2008 and had ample participants from the Church of Nigeria. The Praise Team that served worship at GAFCON Jerusalem 2018 was entirely Nigeria, and it was a rich experience in spirituality.
GAFCON has continued to develop its structures. It currently has Nigerian Prelate, Most Rev. Benjamin Kwashi as General Secretary, having taken over from the great father of GAFCON Abp. Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia. Also the current Director of GAFCON Bishops Training Institute is the Rt. Rev. Prof. Dapo F. Asaju, Bishop Theologian of the Church of Nigeria.
A major development of GAFCON missionary enterprise was the recognition accorded to missionary efforts made by select member dioceses of the global South who founded churches for safe worship of their nationals living in America and England. Some dioceses Church of Nigeria, Church of Uganda etc established churches under their supervision for their citizens who find it difficult to worship in liberal American churches. These African natured- churches as it were, were constituted as dioceses under ACNA until a recent decision by the Church of Nigeria to pull them out of ACNA and organize them under the Church of Nigeria United States Mission (CONNAM) as reflected in the circulated minutes of resolutions of the Bishops Retreat for year 2020. The coordinating Bishop overseeing the mission is Rt. Rev. Dr. Felix Orji( Bishop of Diocese of the West, with See at Houston, USA) The second Diocese which actually started first in USA is the Anglican Diocese of the Trinity (ADOTT, under Rt. Rev. Amos Fagbamiye). Debates about jurisdiction by GAFCON members operating in North America and recently in England have been raised, but GAFCON’s argument is that the extra-jurisdictional activities of its members outside their traditional respective jurisdictions was expedient as a life wire in the face of violent attacks on the cherished faiths of the Church as we received it . Hence, it was a necessary mission venture and a safe refuge from agents of satan who seek to destroy the truth of the church. The alternative was to allow Anglican who are not comfortable with TEC or Church of England spirituality to go to other church denominations. In fact, it is instructive that the Nigeria Redeemed Christian Church of God is located in more than 130 countries of the world. In USA alone, they have more than four thousand churches. Truth is, majority of the members who worship with them were drawn from the Anglican Church. Do we have some things to learn from these New Generation churches, who thrive where we fail and struggle? Can GAFCON lead a renewed missionary fervor to re-evangelize the most Christian Europe and America? Can this be the instrument God will use to rekindle the fire of faithful living and ministry in the world? The future steps of GAFCON will show if it is along this path of global Missionary responsibility.
May I conclude this write up by adopting the comments made by the esteemed reviewer of Most Rev. Peter Akinola’s book, ‘Who blinks First./, Rev. Prof. Mark Coppenger , retired professor of Apologetics at the Dallas Baptist Theological Seminary,
In the early 2000s, Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola was twice recognized by Time magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People” on earth. He had distinguished himself as the leader of the Global South’s revolt against the normalization of homosexuality by the Global North’s contingent within the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The concern was that “a generation that knew not Joseph” would lose track of the struggle, with accompanying loss of traction in the perennial campaign against those dismissive of scriptural authority…
Of course, these are matters of concern to all who call themselves Christian, for the toxic incursions that prompted Peter Akinola to stand and fight are ever and increasingly manifested in the Church, Evangelicals included.
I thank the Primate again for assigning me to tell this our collective story to this most esteemed Episcopal audience. I wish our Primate greater success than his predecessors as he leads us in the Church of Nigeria and by implication, as he leads the largest concentration of Anglicans all over the world. Happy New Year to you Primate, Your Graces and My Lords. Thank you for your attention.
+ Asaju, Bishop Theologian.