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In his article "Through African Eyes", John Azumah, professor of World Christianity and Islam at Columbia Theological Seminary relates how North American churches can embody cultural imperialism with a very paternalistic attitude to spiritually healthy, vibrant and doctrinally orthodox African churches. With a sad irony he remarks:

Ironically, as gays and lesbians “come out” daily in the West, those who adhere to biblical teaching are retreating into the closets. Choice is deified, yet a kind of totalitarianism seems to be emerging in Western societies in the name of gay rights. I do not want it exported to Africa.:

Elsewhere he speaks about the decisions of African and other churches to sever ecclesiastical ties due to North American insistence on being led by culture rather than the Word of God.

Reaction from the Global South to Amendments 10-A and 14-F that changed ordination standards and redefined marriage [by the PC (USA)]  has been swift and negative. The National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM) voted in 2011 to end its 139-year partnership with the PC(USA). My own denomination, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG), decided in 2011 to sever all ties with churches that approve the ordination of practicing homosexuals. The Conference of Ghanaian Presbyterian Churches in North America (CGPCNA) also opposed the new PC(USA) provisions on ordination and marriage, stating they would neither recognize nor allow same-sex marriages to be performed in their congregations.

The Synod of the Nile Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt put out an official statement on the subject that is worth citing in detail. The Synod “recognizes and respects the authority and autonomy” of the PC(USA) and expresses its determination “to preserve the historical ties” between the two churches. The statement goes on to express gratitude “for the long and glorious heritage of ministry of faithful missionaries” and “the many just and honorable positions the PCUSA has displayed regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Nevertheless, the Synod of the Nile “declares itself to stand by the stable interpretation regarding Scripture passages associated with Christian marriage, which was passed down from the Church Fathers and from the Reformers, that considers marriage to be an institution established by God from the time of creation, in which one man is bound to one woman in a sacred covenant before God and people, where the two become one body.”


Are there parts of Azumah's message that the CRCNA needs to take to heart?


Thanks John for your article (or articles) in which you are critical of our American culture and the way it seems that many American churches (including Reformed and Presbyterian) are following such culture.  Could it be that our culture is perhaps more on track than the church on many issues, and therefore the church ends up following culture?  If I remember correctly it was the southern USA (the Bible belt) that advocated for slavery and the liberal north that fought against it.  It was also Christians who were in the forefront of opposing mixed racial marriages.  It was also Christians (the church) who opposed women leadership, whether in the church, family, or society. And on these issues, as well as others (such as creation vss. evolution), the church gave (or gives) Scriptural support for such positions.   I think society, although listening to the church for some time, has lost all confidence in the church to give moral or meaningful direction.  Eventually the church (and the CRCNA) will probably follow culture (and rightfully so) on the issue of homosexuality.

Yes the theological thoughts of former Missional African churches need to be listened to, heard, recognized as we wrestle with our own responses to North American Openness Movements.


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