By David Virtue, Virtueonline
It took an atheist to finally outwit and tell the truth about what development work works best in Africa. It isn’t the Millennium Development Goals, (MDGs) that are so much heralded and ballyhooed by Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
The "gospel" of The Episcopal Church these days is MDGs. It is no longer the Great Commission. MDG’s are mentioned in nearly every address given by Mrs. Jefferts Schori, whether it is to lowly and slowly dying Episcopal diocesan conventions, upbeat and hopeful parishes or to press clubs and reporters with twitchy iPods and laptops.
Now she has been exposed, not by an orthodox Episcopal/Anglican blogger (like VOL), but by one of Britain’s leading atheists, one Matthew Parris.
After a recent trip through Africa, Parris wrote the unthinkable in an article in the "London Times". He said that missionaries, not aid money, are what Africa needs. "Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa, Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good."
"I used to avoid this truth by applauding – as you can – the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It’s a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith. But this doesn’t fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing."
As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God, he wrote. Exit MDG’s. Enter faithful, hardworking missionaries and nationals who heal the sick, bring clean water, teach people to read and write AND who bring the soul-saving message of Jesus that Mrs. Jefferts Schori wouldn’t know if she fell over her own miter on a curb on 5th Avenue.
MDG’s are the mandate of The United Nations, good goals to work collectively to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015. Then The Episcopal Church, which had run out of new and original ideas, or even old ones, decided that MDG’s would be their pitch. I know this is true because, following his retirement, Canon John Peterson, formerly the secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council, got a plum job at Washington National Cathedral in exchange for his sins, echoed this by saying how disappointed he was that the UN came up with the idea of MDGs first, instead of the church.
Collective answers, like collective sins (racism et al) look for generic confessions and generic repentance that fail to touch the human heart. Calling TEC to repent of centuries’ old racism, while ignoring the present wholesale theological and ecclesiastical slaughter of the church’s orthodox faithful, is hypocrisy off the charts.
Episcopal leaders like Washington Bishop John Chane have publicly excoriated African Anglican Archbishops like Peter Akinola and Henry Luke Orombi for failing to speak up on pressing social injustice in their respective countries while focusing on TEC’s homogenital bishop and other sexually wayward priests. It’s all lies. VOL has documented the social outrage of these Primates as they speak truth to power in their respective countries, but now along comes an atheist and blows away "secular" dogoodism without "spiritual transformation."
In 2000 words, he rips apart the whole Episcopal edifice and façade that social amelioration and MDGs, without real and living faith, is doing God’s work, when he, an atheist, journeys across Africa and sees for himself the exact opposite.
Parris’ first-hand account, "We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world – a directness in their dealings with others – that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall."
Now these Christians Parris is talking about are evangelical Christians, the sort of Christians the Episcopal Church despises. There are 25 million of them (Anglican) in Nigeria and 9.2 million Evangelical Anglicans in Uganda. They all believe in being washed in the blood of the Lamb, being born again, being regenerate, being made whole, being justified and sanctified, washed clean of their sins, biblical notions that bishops like Jack Spong, Orris Walker, Tom Shaw, John Chane, Charles E. Bennison, Jon Bruno and Jefferts Schori (to name but a few) mock and deride.
Parris wrote about a time he was in Malawi. "It was the same. I met no missionaries. You do not encounter missionaries in the lobbies of expensive hotels discussing development strategy documents, as you do with the big NGOs. But instead I noticed that a handful of the most impressive African members of the Pump Aid team (largely from Zimbabwe) were, privately, strong Christians. "Privately" because the charity is entirely secular and I never heard any of its team so much as mention religion while working in the villages. But I picked up the Christian references in our conversations. One, I saw, was studying a devotional textbook in the car. One, on Sunday, went off to church at dawn for a two-hour service. It would suit me to believe that their honesty, diligence and optimism in their work was unconnected with personal faith. Their work was secular, but surely affected by what they were. What they were was, in turn, influenced by a conception of man’s place in the Universe that Christianity had taught."
In Mrs. Jefferts Schori’s universe there is no transcendent faith, it is ALL about MDGs and making the world right for God when God never gave any such command. "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel, making disciples…" will never be found on the lips of the Presiding Bishop. It violates her notion that she (and The Episcopal Church) can save the world for God through MDGs.
The atheist Parris had it right, dead right. He concluded, "Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted. And I’m afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete."
He could have added that the MDG agenda of Mrs. Jefferets Schori and the ruinous pansexual agenda of The Episcopal Church has exposed African Christians to murderous Muslim hordes in the name of TEC’s idolatrous behavior.
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