Ruth Gledhill interviews Archbishop Akinola

“The world’s most powerful Anglican leader,” as Ruth Gledhill calls Peter Akinola, shares his thoughts with the Times Online religion blogger in his first interview with a British national newspaper. While the tone of the article belies the author’s sympathies, it nonetheless paints a compelling portrait of the Nigeran archbishop, his upbringing, and the challenges he faces as his own country becomes more divided over religious issues. Muslims and Christians, who in many parts of the country live in harmony, are starting to have problems in other areas of Nigeria.

The bigger the Church gets, the fewer conflicts Christians will face. “That is what we believe. So we have put ourselves into the work of mission very seriously.” The era of bishops living like lords in their own little empires has long gone. “Every bishop in his area is an evangelist,” he says.

When his predecessor, Archbishop Abiodun Adetiloye, stepped down, there were 76 dioceses. He had trebled the size of the church by planting a bishop in every city. “I was the Dean then. We did not know who would be Primate. I said, Baba has finished the work, everything is now done, allelujah! He said, Peter, that is a big mistake you are making because the work is yet to begin. As God would have it, I then became the Primate and we set a vision for ourselves as to how to carry on with this great task.

From the interview it becomes clear that Akinola’s objection to the Episcopal Church and other provinces that are moving toward full inclusion of gays and lesbians is that he fears we will impose our view on the Communion as a whole.

The demand from the West that his Church liberalise he sees as a gross reimposition of an old imperalism. “For God’s sake let us be. When America invades Afghanistan it is in the name of world peace. When Nigeria moves to Biafra it is an invasion. When England takes the Gospel to another country, it is mission. When Nigeria takes it to America it is an intrusion. All this imperialistic mentality, it is not fair.”

HT to Chuck Blanchard.

The entire article by Gledhill is here.

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