Gerald Gahima on the Rwandan Anglican Church

Gerald Gahima was “central to the rebuilding of Rwanda’s justice system in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, first as the chief of staff to the Rwandan Minister of Justice from 1996-1999, and subsequently as the country’s Attorney General from 1999-2003.” He has just written a book called Transitional Justice in Rwanda: Accountability for Atrocity and was interviewed tonight by Jennifer Fierberg. She asked him his opinion of the Anglican Church in Rwanda regarding reconciliation, and this is what he said:

OK I have very strong opinions about the Anglican Church in Rwanda. The Anglican Church  in Rwanda, one cannot even say it has been compromised by the State, it has basically made itself an arm of the State. It has…you remember what the, the role that the Catholic Church had during the Colonial period and the time of the monarchy? How the Catholic Church was very close to the State and how this continued even during the post independence period? The Anglican Church has basically taken the role of the Catholic Church as being the chief apologist of the RPF and that has taken away a lot of the credibility that the Church should have and because of this the …I don’t think the Anglican Church would be a viable, a useful contributor to the process of reconciliation in Rwanda because it has taken sides.

The interview is here, and his comments come at 2:03 in to the interview.
These are strong words: “the chief apologist of the RPF.” And they are spoken by someone who was on the inside of the Kagame regime. Anglican leaders in the West need to take a long look at their allies, and listen to voices like Gahima’s.

The 1994 Genocide from an Anglican Perspective

Roger W. Bowen has an essay called “Genocide in Rwanda 1994 – An Anglican Perspective” in the book “Genocide in Rwanda Complicity of the Churches.” Bowen served in Rwanda at the time leading up to the genocide as the representative “of the main Anglican mission society relating to the Anglican Church in Rwanda.” 

He traces the surface level “apolitical” stance of the Anglican Church in Rwanda to conflicts over higher criticism of the Scripture back in England during the early part of the last century:

They were heirs of theological controversy at home, which focused around the authority of Scripture and attitudes to Biblical criticism. It was the background to the splits between the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (CICCU) and the Student Christian Movement (SCM) in 1910, the separation of the Bible Churchmen’s Missionary Society (BCMS) from the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1922, and the establishing of the special relationship between the Rwanda Mission and its parent society, the CMS, in 1926. The more conservative attitude to Scripture, and the associated controversy, led to an emphasis on evangelism rather than any engagement with the public life of the nation or critique of the sociopolitical context. Indeed, the missionaries were dependent on the goodwill of the colonial administration and sought to be apolitical.

I must protest here that “a conservative attitude towards scripture” does not necessitate being apolitical, quite the contrary! But Bowen is correct to say that for this group of British evangelicals (Keswick influenced) it did.

Bowen says that the early missionaries were also under the influence of the dispensationalist Scofield Bible. Bowen says that the premillenialism in Scofield’s notes:

…can lead to one of two reactions: either the withdrawal from the public life of the nation into a spiritual ghetto, or a naïve and uncritical support of whoever is in power, with Biblical justification being frequently drawn from Romans chapter 13. Both these reactions are discernible within the life of the Anglican Church in Rwanda.

Bowen points out that the pre-genocide Anglican Church did not speak up for the Tutsi exile from the early 60’s who were never allowed to return to Rwanda. He says, “The Church in Rwanda failed to plead their cause, perhaps because, in the Anglican Church at least, the leadership was exclusively Hutu.”

He says that the Rwandan Anglicans used a canon within a canon based on the revival template:

In some cases, all Scripture in interpreted to give the same message, often interpreted through the lens of the revival experience, rather than letting the diversity within the Bible be heard. Inadequate exposure to the whole counsel of God has meant that Church leaders were often left without the theological tools to engage with the complexities of relating to newly independent African states, to issues of economics, development, justice, human rights, and ethnicity.

Bowen says that the practice of sharing testimonies from the East African Revival led “to a lack of Biblical input and instruction, with the danger that personal experience becomes more important than the Word of God.”

He also points to a culture of obedience that went too far, violating the Apostles’ injunction in Acts 5.29 to obey God rather than man. He says:

In Rwanda, people killed because they were told to do so by the government, local burgomasters and the radio. Obedience to authority is inculcated within African culture and we need to ask whether the Churches have adopted the same approach. Within the Catholic tradition, there has been an unquestioning submission to Papal authority. Within the Protestant tradition in Rwanda, you are wise to obey your Bishop because your livelihood depends on his goodwill.

Bowen also turns the blame on himself and on the Churches of the West who wanted to avoid offending their African partners:

Partnership in mission is the dominant theme in Anglican relationships. But one may ask in the context of Rwanda, as perhaps elsewhere in Africa, whether the mission agencies at least have so leaned over backwards to avoid the charge of colonialism that they have failed to challenge their partner Churches? Within both Rwanda and the Rwandan Church, we were aware of many of these issues and yet, as their partners, we largely failed to challenge them as equal partners and to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). In Ezekiel 33 the prophet is challenged to be a watchman for the House of Israel to warn the people of God of impending danger. Both the national Church of Rwanda and its partners overseas have largely failed in this role of watchmen.

Reading this essay is sobering. On almost every issue that Bowen raises, I have to ask if we are repeating the same mistakes?

Tim Challies’ Bad Advice

Tim Challies says in regard to the travails of C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries:

If I am going to believe and hope all things, if I am going to be slow to pass judgment, then I also need to understand that neither side has publicized all of the facts. These things may be known in time and I do well to wait for that time if it comes.

This is an issue of greater urgency to some than others. The way each of us thinks through it will depend on the extent to which we are stakeholders, to our relational proximity to those involved and even geographic proximity. If you are a member at a SGM church this issue is very urgent, and particularly so if your church is considering withdrawing from the association. However, the majority of us are far on the outside with very little at stake. For this reason many of us simply do not need to have an opinion.

Really? We do not need to have an opinion about the leader of an organization who has ensured that he has a very high profile publicly for at least the past 13 years? A man who publicly admitted to blackmail (aka ‘coercion’) on one of his fellow pastors:

It grieves me to report to you that in a particular phone conversation I sought to coerce Larry to present his leaving as I thought was right.

Quite the contrary, we are supposed to be on the lookout for wolves in sheep’s clothing. Christians get really tripped up about the difference between public figures and Joe Q. Christian who goes to church with you. It wouldn’t be proper for me to blog about how Joe was caught blackmailing Suzie at his office due to their affair. But it is just fine for me or anyone else to write about baptized Christian Barack Obama, or the Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles Roger Mahony who covered up for pedophile priests, or C.J. Mahaney, the public leader of SGM. D.A. Carson helpfully puts the matter like this:

The sin described in the context of Matt 18:15–17 takes place on the small scale of what transpires in a local church (which is certainly what is envisaged in the words “tell it to the church”). It is not talking about a widely circulated publication designed to turn large numbers of people in many parts of the world away from historic confessionalism. This latter sort of sin is very public and is already doing damage; it needs to be confronted and its damage undone in an equally public way. This is quite different from, say, the situation where a believer discovers that a brother has been breaking his marriage vows by sleeping with someone other than his wife, and goes to him privately, then with one other, in the hope of bringing about genuine repentance and contrition, and only then brings the matter to the church.

To put the matter differently, the impression one derives from reading Matt 18 is that the sin in question is not, at first, publicly noticed (unlike the publication of a foolish but influential book). It is relatively private, noticed by one or two believers, yet serious enough to be brought to the attention of the church if the offender refuses to turn away from it. By contrast, when NT writers have to deal with false teaching, another note is struck: the godly elder “must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9 NIV).

I would add that these principles apply every bit as much to orthopraxy as to orthodoxy. Also, we should not expect that public discussions of the foibles of Christian leaders are going to be neat, tidy and Biblical. Once discussion spills into the public, there is every reason to expect rough and tumble, no holds barred treatment from all sides. This doesn’t excuse our own response, but to just expect Christians to tune it all out and ignore it sounds quite a bit like what cult leaders would suggest.

And where was this restraint of Challies when he was writing about Ted Haggard? Should he have approached Haggard before writing anything about him? Of course not, and to suggest so would be absurd.

I’d also point out to Challies that SGM and Mahaney have had well over a year to present the other side of the argument. They could clear it all up by explaining how blackmail really wasn’t blackmail, or how blackmail doesn’t disqualify someone from leadership, or how all the alleged sexual abuse cover-ups are misunderstood by the public. Instead, they have blamed blogs and told members not to read them or to engage in gossip – a foolish approach that makes them sound even worse.

In closing, the problems I and others saw with SGM pre-dated any of this and were more cultural and theological. As I wrote in 2011:

My observation of SGM over the years and what I’ve heard from insiders have raised the following concerns:

* Acting like clones. From shaved heads to speech inflections and cadence, the pastors at various SGM churches sound very much like CJ. Folks in the movement tend to use the same terms like affection, passion, serve and appropriate. One example of this is from the document “A Final Appeal” that quotes CJ in an October, 2005 email to Brent Detwiler saying, “From the first e-mail I have informed Pat about my support but in his desire to serve me he has continued to pursue this” and “I will be glad to explain my perspective on this if that would serve you.” The verb “serve” is something that you hear constantly from SGM folks and if you pay attention, it becomes like an in-group code word.

Christians need to be real, living in the real world with the transforming grace of the gospel, but also without falling into systems of jargon, denial, happy talk and sectarianism. When talking to another Christian, I want to be able to honestly discuss life without having to use phrases that end up meaning nothing because they are so overused.

* The gradual removal or “un-friending” of people who don’t toe the line theologically. Someone described this to me as “a hang-over from the charismatic shepherding movement, though in a less overtly authoritarian modality, a sort of soft-despotism” and I think that is an accurate description of what you read in Detwiler’s documents.

I’ve heard stories over the years including a guy who was on the inside at Covenant Life and whose WIFE had a theological view that was considered aberrant. This was enough to begin the gradual removal of the man from the inner circle and he eventually resigned his position. I grant that it can be hard to maintain friendships with people who have theological convictions different from our own, but a real love towards them should make it possible to continue in relationship, and not ice them out due to a Stepford wives type of conformity. Further, if we believe in the catholicity of the Church at all, it demands that we learn how to accept some degree of doctrinal variance within local churches. Someone I know was essentially asked to leave the church due to hesitation over the excessive demands for self-disclosure at small group. Add to this the many “de-giftings” where pastors are suddenly removed from their position with little or no explanation given to the congregation.

* Institutional arrogance / lack of Catholicity. Jesus said in John 17,  “that I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” The exact implication of what this verse demands are of course debated, but the failure to listen to warnings to change on the part of SGM sets a bad precedent. The SGM practice of rebaptism for people baptized as infants is a grievous affront to the catholicity of the Church.

I question why SGM cannot merge or cross-pollinate with groups like Acts 29, the Grace Network, and others. Does it really require a SGM church in every city, even if there is already a strong Calvinist and/or Reformed Baptist presence?

* A flawed polity. As I mentioned several months ago, SGM’s structure of church governance is skewed. It is similar to Calvary Chapel, where the pastor is Moses to his congregation and Chuck Smith is the Pope. The emails do show that CJ is treated akin to the Pope of SGM. He functions as an Archbishop, but without the time-honored constraints of a true Episcopalian system (vestry, church courts, and so forth). In the emails, leadership group members don’t want to be the one to confront him or deliver bad tidings to him. Local pastors are removed from on-high with no explanation. Systems of government do not solve problems, bad people can be in any system, but they can make it easier to correct problems.

* Morbid introspection and an incorrect understanding of “the Gospel.” Someone I know put it better than I can: “SGM deemphasizes the resurrection and overemphasizes introspection and “the cross”, which becomes morbid; they also decidedly deemphasize bible study; their view of culture is truncated as is their view of the Gospel:  “Jesus died for my sins” v. “The good news is that the King has come in the person and work of Jesus Christ.”

This introspection is constant in these documents and in the lives of SGM churches. Every motive must be scrutinized at absurd lengths and a neo-Puritan desire to constantly work into emotional distress over being the chief of sinners and returning to the cross is modeled from on high. A view of glorification and Christian maturity give way to probing motives for pride, no matter what we do. SGM does not see the Gospel as the proclamation of the Lordship of Jesus and union with Him (a more Calvinist approach), rather, it is simply imputation, which seems to be the hill that SGM always wants to die on.

The fact that the other Reformed “big dogs” like Piper, Dever and Mohler seemingly had no problem with any of this goes to show the weaknesses inherent to the entire T4G camp. The way they treated proponents of the New Perspective with dismissal and misrepresentation is now coming back to bite them. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

The Anglican Church of Rwanda Prior to the Genocide, Part II

In his essay, “Christianity, Revival and the Rwandan Genocide,” Kevin Ward takes a historical look at the East African Revival and the role of the Anglican Church of Rwanda in the genocide of 1994.  The essay is an excellent piece of historical work that should be required reading for everyone in PEAR USA. Ward writes:

Between 1965 and 1990,the Eglise Episcopale au Rwanda (EER) built itself up as a predominantly Hutu church. From being a small group, numerically insignificant, it expanded rapidly, establishing a mass following in the years after independence. The leadership was overwhelmingly Hutu. The relations with the government were close. Protestants were glad that the new regime, while heavily Catholic, was freer with regard to the Protestant churches than during the colonial regime. A close working relationship was formed. By 1992 this had become far too close for the good of the church, especially as Habyarimana’s regime became discredited and was seen as excessively narrowly based on a small clique of Hutu from the north west of Rwanda. Bishop Sebunuguru became closely identified with this regime, as did a large proportion of the bishops and pastors.

Moreover, by 1990, the Anglican church was deeply involved in internal wrangling and divisions. They were focused on jealousies and bitterness between Adoniya Sebununguri, bishop of Kigali, and John Ndandali, bishop of the second diocese of Butare, created in 1978. The conflict was focused on who would become the first Archbishop of the new Anglican province of Rwanda created in 1992. Although personal factors were paramount in this conflict, it did strangely parallel political divisions between the ‘north,’ where the deeply unpopular president came from, and a ‘south,’ which felt excluded. A series of other conflicts among the leadership of the churches began to disfigure the Anglican church: based on personal and family rivalries, regional differences, political disputes (as a multi-party system was introduced). Hutu-Tutsi divisions were only one of many factors fueling and sustaining these disputes.  Often the rhetoric of the Revival was introduced into the disputes. At high-profile meetings of reconciliation, church leaders confessed and sang Tukutenderza in the old spirit of the Balokole [Balokole means ‘saved’ – editor] fellowship, but these occasions did not seem to have the power to transform the faction-riven nature of the church. The form of Revival had replaced its genuine spirit.

One of many interesting takeaways from this essay is that the reconciliation narrative was actually in place prior to the genocide of 94, and was in fact an artifact of the East African Revival (which seems to have been a Keswick phenomenon by the way). The narrative then went national after the 94 genocide and was somewhat stripped of its overtly Christian foundation. Also, this constant harping on reconciliation even prior to the genocide did nothing to avert the genocide or change the behavior of this highly Christianized nation.

Bishop Augustin Ahimana Murekezi Defending Rwanda’s Actions in the DRC

In 2006, Andrew Paquin wrote an article in Christianity Today, part of which said this about Pastor Rick Warren’s connection to Rwanda:

Warren’s relationship with Rwandan President Paul Kagame is also of concern. Kagame was the leader of the rebel Tutsi forces that brought an end to genocide in 1994. Yet as president, he has overseen a military that continues to occupy parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Human-rights observers such as Amnesty International and even the U.S. State Department accuse Kagame of not only stripping Congo of its natural resources, but also of mass rape, burning villages, and murdering civilians. Rwandan leaders reject these claims, yet the human-rights community maintains their accuracy.

Years of African corruption in the wake of colonial puppetry have created rifts of distrust between those who are suffering and those with friends in high places. Although Kagame is an improvement from past leaders, his connection to former regimes and to ongoing human-rights concerns should trouble anyone seeking to work with him.

Coming to the defense of Kagame, current Anglican Bishop Augustin Ahimana Murekezi of the Kivu diocese wrote a response in Christianity Today. He said:

It is also our duty to inform American Christians that there has been a malicious campaign to demonize Rwanda’s leaders, distorting the political situation. This distortion emanates from people often hiding behind so-called humanitarian organizations. Some have a hidden agenda of distracting the international community so that their own role in Rwanda’s tragedy cannot be exposed.

When Rwandan troops decided to pursue the genocidal forces and their sponsors in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1996 and 1998, they did so in the light of day. The peace we enjoy today in our country is mainly a consequence of that action. When our troops pulled out of DRC in 2002, it was under the intense gaze of international observers and media. So accusing Rwandan troops today of continuing “to occupy parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo” is simply mind-boggling.

Bishop Augustin attributed all the multitude of reports pointing out Kagame’s evil actions to “a malicious campaign to demonize Rwanda’s leaders.” Would he say the same of all the former Rwandan leaders who have defected and told the same stories? They are all liars to a man as well? In fact, his attack on Paquin’s accurate article follows a pattern clearly elucidated by Filip Reyntjens in this paper.
As history has shown since 2006, Rwanda has continued to stir up death and mayhem in the DRC, particularly in the Kivus. In fact, as this week’s Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo says:

The advance of M23 towards Goma started in earnest on 15 November with an attack on Kibumba, approximately 20 km north of Goma. After some success in pushing back M23 on the first and second days of the offensive with significant and robust support by MONUSCO, which is estimated to have resulted in high casualties to M23, the Congolese armed forces later succumbed to a larger, well-organized and well-supplied force. Following the setback of its first attack on Kibumba, the subsequent speed, efficiency and success of the renewed M23 offensive were rendered possible by a sudden increase in the group’s combatants, coordinated multi-pronged attacks and attacks with coordination between infantry and fire support, all capacities that are not characteristic of former integrated CNDP elements. Furthermore, MONUSCO observations of the command and control ability of the attacking force, the effective coordination of its fire support, the quality of its equipment and its general fighting ability, particularly during night- time, all suggested the existence of external support, both direct and indirect.

Let’s be clear, “external support” means “the Rwandan Army.”
The wars that Bishop Augustin defended involved horrific atrocities, as outlined in the Mapping Exercise report of the UN. Wikipedia says that the Second Congo War “and its aftermath had killed 5.4 million people, mostly from disease and starvation, making the Second Congo War the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War II.”
In fact, the Mapping Report says that the Armée patriotique rwandaise (APR – the Rwandan Army), went after ethnic Hutu’s regardless of their lack of involvement in the 94 genocide:

Several of the incidents listed appear to confirm that multiple attacks targeted members of the Hutu ethnic group as such, and not only the criminals responsible for the genocide committed in 1994 against the Tutsis in Rwanda and that no effort had been made by the AFDL/APR to distinguish between Hutu members of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe and Hutu civilians, whether or not they were refugees.

30. The intention to destroy a group in part is sufficient to constitute a crime of genocide and the international courts have confirmed that the destruction of a group can be limited to a particular geographical area. It is therefore possible to assert that, even if only a part of the Hutu population in Zaire was targeted and destroyed, it could nonetheless constitute a crime of genocide if this was the intention of the perpetrators. Several incidents listed in this report point to circumstances and facts from which a court could infer the intention to destroy the Hutu ethnic group in the DRC in part, if these were established beyond all reasonable doubt.

The incidents of horror from this war could be enumerated at length, but here is a sample of what the Rwandan Army did:

  • On 21 October 1996, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB attacked Lubarika camp and village, killing an unknown number of Rwandan and Burundian refugees, as well as Zairian civilians who were trying to flee the village after the departure of the FAZ. The soldiers forced local people to bury the bodies in four large mass graves. On the same day, soldiers also burned thirty refugees alive in a house in the village of Kakumbukumbu, five kilometres from Lubarika camp.
  • On 24 November 1996, in the village of Mwaba, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB burned 24 Burundian Hutu refugees from the Biriba camp alive. On their arrival in Mwaba, the soldiers arrested those present in the village. After questioning them, they freed the Zairian civilians and imprisoned the Burundian refugees in a house which they then set on fire.
  • On 22 October 1996, in the Rushima ravine between Bwegera and Luberizi, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB killed a group of nearly 550 Rwandan Hutu refugees who had escaped the Luberizi and Rwenena camps a few days before. Soldiers inter- cepted the victims at the checkpoints set up in the surrounding area. Between 27 October and 1 November 1996, under the pretext of repatriating them to Rwanda, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB led an unknown number of additional refugees into the Rushima ravine and executed them.
  • In January 1997, AFDL/APR units killed at least thirty Rwandan and Burundian refugees, mostly with knives, on the Bukavu to Walungu road, around sixteen kilometres from the city of Bukavu. The victims had been arrested as part of a combing operation. Before killing the victims, the soldiers often tortured and maimed them.
  • Between 15 November and 16 November 1996, AFDL/APR units arrested an un- known number of Rwandan Hutu men from the Lac Vert camp and Mugunga and executed them. Some were bound and then thrown alive into Lac Vert, where they drowned. Others were shot in the head and their bodies dumped in the lake. 

This could go on and on. Suffice it to say that these wars and those who instigate them should not be defended, but decried. Going after the humanitarian organizations instead is astonishing.

The Anglican Church of Rwanda Prior to the Genocide

Reading about the Anglican Church prior to the genocide shows how the church was totally co-opted by the one party (MRND) state and the Hutu majority. The heterodox Rev. Roger W. Bowen wrote “Genocide in Rwanda 1994 – An Anglican Perspective.” He said of the Anglicans:

Within the Anglican Church it was hard for Tutsis to advance in leadership while the hierarchy remained solidly Hutu.  The issue, which in the past in times of revival had been addressed so powerfully, was allowed to remain unresolved.  The challenge to find a deeper, more fundamental identity “in Christ” where there is no Jew nor Greek, Hutu nor Tutsi, seems to have been forgotten by many.  There were glorious exceptions to this where Christians who were also Hutu helped to protect their Tutsi neighbors for the interahamwe militias.  By and large, however, the Church had allowed these ethnic tensions to continue unresolved, often below the surface, until conditions occurred where the issue exploded beyond their control in horrific violence.  What happened in Rwanda is a salutary reminder that the fear and pain preventing the Church from addressing a painful tension within itself needs to be overcome is one is to avoid the far more horrific consequences of not facing it. 

Specific Anglican bishops of that time were complicit with the genocide. For example:

Far from condemning the attempt to exterminate the Tutsi, Archbishop Augustin Nshamihigo and Bishop Jonathan Ruhumuliza of the Anglican Church acted as spokesmen for the genocidal government at a press conference in Nairobi. Like many who tried to explain away the slaughter, they placed the blame for the genocide on the RPF because it had attacked Rwanda. Foreign journalists were so disgusted at this presentation that they left the conference (African Rights, Rwanda, Death, Despair, pp. 900-902).

Because the church did not stand up to the government or distance itself from the government, it was drawn into complicity:

Like the Catholics, many within the hierarchy of the Protestant churches had had close links with the Hutu regimes since independence. These links continued when the government was radicalised step by step. The profound links were clearly demonstrated when most of the Rwandan church leaders fled the country following the military defeat of the government responsible for the genocide. This did not mean that the church hierarchies were systematically involved in the planning of the genocide, but it indicated that the churches as organisations had not taken the responsibilities they were supposed to, due to their too close links to the government.

Former bishop Musabyimana was accused of consorting the government and acting as an emissary abroad on behalf of the government:

Samuel Musabyimana (44), formerly Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Shyogwe, Gitarama prefecture in Rwanda, was arrested in Nairobi yesterday and transferred immediately to the Detention Facility of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha. 

The count of conspiracy is based upon meetings with high level government and military officials organized or attended by Musabyimana. According to information from the ICTR, Bishop Musabyimana is said to have consorted regularly with Ministers of the interim Government of Rwanda and acted as an emissary abroad of the Government to legitimize its policies. This was at a time when those policies were known to include a plan of extermination of the Tutsi and the Hutu political opposition, according to the Tribunal.

Former Archbishop Carey said: “The church in Rwanda lost an opportunity to be prophetic during the genocide,” Carey said. “The church should have been calling out for justice but by and large its voice was silent.”
But I would take issue with what Archbishop Carey said in this regard: the Church should have spoken prior to the genocide! Yes it was silent during the horror, but this was in part because it was silent in the face of wickedness prior to the horror. There is nothing wrong with Church/State alliances on their face, but this assumes that the Church can rebuke the State, not simply go along with whatever evils it is peddling.
At his enthronement, post-genocide Archbishop Kolini said: “Discrimination has been uprooted, the church is not only salt but also light. …The church failed to warn, to preserve, to give taste and to transform Rwandan society.”
Is the church now warning and being salt and light?

The Cosmological Principle Challenged

Astronomers have discovered a cluster of young galaxies (quasars) that stretches four billion light years across! See here and here. The abstract of their paper says:

This new, Huge-LQG appears to be the largest structure currently known in the early Universe. Its size suggests incompatibility with the Yadav et al. scale of homogeneity for the concordance cosmology, and thus challenges the assumption of the cosmological principle.

The paper itself says:

The cosmic microwave background (CMB) is usually considered to provide the best evidence for isotropy, and hence of homogeneity too, given the assumption of isotropy about all points. Nevertheless, there do appear to be large-scale features in the CMB that may challenge the reality of homogeneity and isotropy – see Copi et al. (2010) for a recent review. More recently still than this review, Rossmanith et al. (2012) find further indications of a violation of statistical isotropy in the CMB. Furthermore, Yershov, Orlov & Raikov (2012) find that the supernovae in the redshift range 0.5–1.0 are associated with systematic CMB temperature fluctuations, possibly arising from large-scale inhomogeneities. Observationally, for SDSS DR7 galaxies with 0.22 < z < 0.50, Marinoni, Bel & Buzzi (2012) find that isotropy about all points does indeed apply on scales larger than ∼210 Mpc.


The occurrence of structure on Gpc-scales from the Huge-LQG and from galaxies implies that the Universe is not homogeneous on these scales. Furthermore, if we accept that homogeneity refers to any property of the Universe then an intriguing result is that of Hutsemékers et al. (2005), who found that the polarization vectors of quasars are correlated on Gpc scales. Similarly, the existence of cosmic flows on approximately Gpc scales (e.g. Kashlinsky et al. 2010), regardless of their cause, is itself implying that the Universe is not homogeneous.

Of course, history and, most recently, the work of Park et al. (2012) indicate that one should certainly be cautious on the question of homogeneity and the cosmological principle. The SGW (Gott et al. 2005) – and before it, the Great Wall (Geller & Huchra 1989) – was seen as a challenge to the standard cosmology and yet Park et al. (2012) show that, in the ‘Horizon Run 2’ concordance simulation of box-side 10 Gpc, comparable and even larger features can arise, although they are of course rare. Nevertheless, the Huge-LQG presented here is much larger, and it is adjacent to the CCLQG, which is itself very large, so the challenges still persist. 

This structure challenges isotropy and the cosmological principle – so how much do our current models of reality really know?

“Celtic” Christianity

In a commentary piece for the TLS on the Venerable Bede, Archbishop Rowan Williams says:

A great deal of nonsense has been written about “Celtic Christianity”, as if this were an intelligent designation for some self-contained variant of Catholic orthodoxy in the early Middle Ages, a variant more attuned to the sacredness of nature and less obsessed with institutional discipline. Historically, the churches of those regions where Celtic languages were spoken never thought of themselves as part of a network other than that of the Western Catholic Church. They wrote and spoke Latin, they looked to Rome as the focus of their ecclesial life (Welsh kings as well as English spent their final years in Rome) and they accepted the creeds and canons of the Catholic Church.

The Rwandan Surveillance State

I just came across a paper by Dr. Andrea Purdekova called  Even if I am not here, there are so many eyes’: surveillance and state reach in Rwanda.’ You can read the paper here. In it she describes the information gathering apparatus of the Rwandan state, for example:

Informers are indeed believed to be everywhere, and many people can simply be used for that purpose when and as necessary. To trace teachers harbouring divisionist ideologies, ‘well, there are the students, they know and say what the teachers are teaching, [for example] with regards to history, what kind of examples they are using’. ‘Problematic’ individuals can be traced in bars and restaurants because ‘even waiters, they can be intelligence’.The way in which surveillance happens is described in detail by Begley (2009:4), who, during her field research on the contribution of Rwandan Muslims to the reconciliation process, found out from one of her informants that ‘not just one, but five different men have been following our movements’. This included ‘the waiter from the restaurant [who] hired a couple of street kids to follow us [and who in turn] reported to another man on the street who then contacted the Chairman of the RPF’.

It is difficult to know exactly who represents the ‘ears and eyes’ of higher authorities, and who is merely curious, a gossip or generally suspecting, or whether those who observe from a distance actually understand anything being said and whether they pass it on. The perception nonetheless remains that surveillance and locally traced intelligence are ubiquitous, and the effects of this on behaviour are very real. Every researcher in Rwanda either experiences or hears stories of surveillance and notices the resulting self-editing behaviour. It is certainly true that neither email nor phone or even certain occasions at home are considered safe for discussing political or otherwise ‘sensitive’ issues. One informant told me that ‘no one really talks on the phone anymore, just the basics and that is it. You only start commenting on something and people stop you.’

The Begley paper referred to is The other side of fieldwork: experiences and challenges of conducting research in the border area of Rwanda/eastern Congo, which is found here. Begley recalls:

I was on the sofa typing up my notes, when Joseph, my translator called. He told me that a lot of bad things happened. One of my key participants, David had contacted Joseph. David told Joseph that some government officials had interrogated a few of my participants. They told these officials what was discussed during our interviews. I was too terrified to ask Joseph for any particular details. Joseph simply told me to “leave the country as soon as you can and do not come back to this town”. I hung up the phone and I learned what it means to be truly fearful. I paced up and down the house trying to figure out what I should do. I considered going to Goma to email my supervisors. However, with the rising tension and being on the brink of all-out war, I couldn’t risk the Rwandan border officials asking me questions about why I keep going to Goma. I feel helpless. I tried to write a coded email to my supervisors. We have been using weather terms, such as it’s getting really hot here, for things are not going well and there have been some problems. But how do I convey Rwanda’s getting ready to invade Congo, Congo is on the brink of all-out war, and the Rwandan government knows everything I learned and is interrogating my participants, using weather terms? There’s no weather term that can adequately communicate that people could be killed for what they told me and I have no way to protect them. In the end I stated that there was a huge storm and another one coming from across the lake. It was so hot here that no one could have predicted how hot it was really going to be. I sent the email and then I broke down. Six months of stress, panic, and fear had finally caused me to have a complete breakdown. This is too much. I can’t take it anymore and there’s no sense for me to stay here. I feel completely alone and isolated. I’m completely terrified that people are going to be thrown in jail for genocide ideology or even killed for what they told me. And there’s no one I can talk to. There’s no one to tell me what I should do, because the government is watching my emails and after this incident I have no doubt that they are. I have to leave. It’s three in the morning and I can’t sleep. I can’t sit still nor can I focus. I just need to get out of here.

Begley describes the fear she experienced in Rwanda:

Among many Tutsi, pro-Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and Congolese there is the common belief that Rwanda is stable and secure. However, my own experiences suggest that this is not the entire picture and that there is a fine line between “security” and “government control”. Experiences such as those I had with the Imam and Robert (see below) as well as the intimidation of my participants provided me with a deeper insight into the everyday realities of fear that Rwandans must cope with. Furthermore, as long as I was in Rwanda, I had no way to seek immediate help from my supervisors or from anyone. The constant mistrust, the feeling of always being watched, having no friends and no one who understood the situation to offer advice or support, and living in constant fear, all made my fieldwork isolating and nerve-racking.

To help ease the situation, I adopted strategies that Rwandans employ to avoid suspicion. For example, many Rwandans have joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in order to avoid suspicion and to prevent problems with soldiers. The RPF was the Rwandan Tutsi rebel army living in exile in Uganda. In 1990, they invaded Rwanda and began a civil war with Habyarimana’s regime. The RPF took control of the country after the genocide and is still the dominant political party. When I discovered that the government had spies following me, I began to wear a hat with the logo of the RPF on it. I also sought to interview prominent RPF officials and businessmen, asking relatively harmless questions.

Begley recounts another experience of surveillance that she had in Rwanda:

I was having breakfast at a restaurant that I usually went to. I met my translator and we left to go meet an Imam. Nothing seems out of place or wrong, just a normal day. There are plenty of street kids around, nothing unusual. We arrive and begin the interview. The Imam destroys every stereotypical imagine of what an Imam is portrayed to look like. He’s wearing sunglasses, despite the complete lack of light in the house. He has a plain blue t-shirt on and baggy cloth pants. He looks straight out of a 1980s R&B music group. His demeanour is laidback and relaxed. The Imam is discussing how Muslims have contributed to the reconciliation process in post-genocide Rwanda. The purple and green lights from his phone begin to flash and I get distracted. He answers it and at first remains sitting on the sofa, than leaves out the front door. He returns after a few minutes and the interview continues. As soon as we are away from the Imam, Joseph informs me: “We are being watched.” My heart falls into my stomach and I ask how he knows. “I overheard the Imam’s conversation on the phone. The person on the phone was the District Chairman of the RPF. He says that there is a white person at your house. What does she want? What is she doing there?” “What did the Imam say?” I asked almost desperately. “He said that you were here doing research on Islam and that you were on ‘our side’.” Somehow those words do not ease the wave of panic that has come over me.

The next day I am told exactly what happened and was no longer allowed to eat breakfast at my usual place. One of my informants told Joseph that he watched the waiter from the restaurant hire a couple of street kids to follow us. The street kids reported to another man on the street who than contacted the Chairman of the RPF. Furthermore, it was not just one, but five different men who have been following our movements. I was terrified because of what could happen to my participants and translators. They have no embassy to run to if something were to happen.

These episodes sound like something straight out of 1984. Again:

There was one incident in which I received an email from a person whom I had never met before stating he was sending me documents on behalf of a Rwandan official. The email contained documents about the atrocities committed by the RPF during the civil war, genocide and afterwards. This made me extremely nervous in case the government did decide to check my emails. I emailed this person after my return to the UK, to see if he could tell me why and who told him to send me that information. He replied: “We learnt from Kigali officials that a young and naive young woman was making research on Rwanda tragedy. We were asked to provide you with ‘good’ information. That means, we were asked to repeat Kagame and his fellows’ speech on what happened and what is happening in Rwanda and in the Great Lakes area. We consider Kagame and his sponsors (USA, UK, some West companies) as the main actors of Central Africa tragedy” (received 5 November 2008).

At the end of another chilling story, she mentions what a Rwandan told her:

“You go and tell them what life is really like here. Tell them that the government is lying. Rwanda is not democratic and there is no reconciliation. Thank you for listening to our side.”

Modern Anglican Theologians

If Anglicanism is to have a lasting and ongoing impact globally, it surely must move beyond a grateful embrace of the past and engage the Scriptures and the modern world in innovative ways. We rightly venerate Hooker, Donne, Herbert, Cranmer, Jewel and many others, but we need new theologians who do more than simply unpack the works of these past greats. With that in mind, I surveyed a couple knowledgeable Anglican friends of mine as to who they would recommend as sources we can look to, maybe along the lines of the wonderful list that the Calvinist International has put together here. My friends came up with:
Lee Gatiss, whose website is here. His bio reads:

Lee read Modern History at New College, Oxford. After working for St. Ebbe’s Church in Oxford for a while, he was a student on the Cornhill Training Course in London, with a placement doing student work at All Soul’s, Langham Place.

From there he went on to read Theological & Pastoral Studies at Oak Hill Theological College in London, staying on for a fourth year to continue sadly unfinished masters research (M.Phil) into the Old Testament (intertextuality in Malachi).

After three years as the Curate of St. Botolph’s, Barton Seagrave and St. Edmund’s, Warkton, for more than five years Lee was the Associate Minister of St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate in the City of London with responsibility for the Sunday Morning congregation and midweek groups as well as the delightful members of the Church Family staff team, and Reform London. While in London he also completed a ThM in Historical and Systematic Theology with Westminster Theological Seminary in the USA. He is currently doing research on 17th century biblical interpretation at Peterhouse and Tyndale House, Cambridge (where he has also been awarded the Lightfoot Scholarship).

Mark Thompson, whose blog is here. He is the principal of Moore Theological College. He authored A Clear and Present Word: The Clarity of Scripture (New Studies in Biblical Theology).
Peter Bolt, a New Testament scholar who teaches at Moore Theological College. A list of his publications and research can be found here.
Michael Jensen, whose blog is here. He teaches doctrine and ethics at Moore Theological College. He says, “I completed my doctorate on Martyrdom and its meaning for the Self in 2008 and now I live in Sydney where I teach Christian Doctrine at Moore College.”
Christopher Seitz, who teaches at Wycliffe College. His biography reads:

Christopher Seitz was Professor of Old Testament at Yale University and the University of St Andrews before coming to Wycliffe in 2007. He is an ordained Episcopal Priest and has served parishes in Texas, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Germany, France and Scotland. He is also the President of The Anglican Communion Institute and Canon Theologian in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas…He has been a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Luce Foundation, and the Center for Theological Inquiry. He has supervised numerous PhD students and has published over a dozen books on the interpretation of Old and New Testaments, and in the area of theological hermeneutics.

Aubrey Spears, pastor of the Church of the Incarnation in Harrisonburg. Aubrey has a PhD from the University of Liverpool, and is a  fellow of the Scripture and Hermeneutics seminar led by Craig Bartholomew. He is writing a commentary on Ecclesiastes.
Thomas Renz. Renz is a German who is Rector of St Michael’s Highgate, London. His biography here says:

Thomas is enthusiastic to let the whole Bible shape our theological thinking and our spiritual life. He will encourage you to read the Old Testament as a Christian and with sensitivity about its original historical context.He is particularly interested in the prophetic literature and biblical theology. His current research focuses on Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah.

Tim Ward. A parish priest at Holy Trinity Church in Hinckley and the author of Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God. Ward has a PhD on Scripture and speech acts under Kevin Vanhoozer.
Wesley Hill. Hill is the assistant professor of New Testament at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA. He did his undergrad at Wheaton, and obtained a New Testament PhD at Durham University.
I was mainly looking for a younger generation of non Anglo-Catholic scholars. Among the elders, we would have to list N.T. Wright of course, as well as Oliver O’Donovan. My friends also mentioned:
John Webster, professor at Aberdeen; formerly Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford (he was Rowan Williams’s successor). My friend says, “He is a Barth scholar who’s pretty Reformed, and is a stellar systematician.”
Gordon Wenham. Who should need no introduction, but here.
Christopher Wright. Director of Langham Partnership (founded by John Stott). Wright is an OT scholar. Christopher Ash. My friend says that he “has written a superb book on Marriage, and very good commentaries on Romans and Psalm 119 among other things. Now training preachers at the Cornhill Training Course in London.” Alec Motyer. His wonderful Isaiah commentary sits in my library and was very helpful for me many years ago. Peter Jensen. My friend says, “before he was Abp of Sydney, Jensen was principal of Moore College, where he taught doctrine. His monograph on the doctrine of Revelation is a significant work.” David Peterson. Formerly the principal of Oak Hill, now back at Moore College. He has published the Acts volume in the Pillar New Testament Commentary Series. Graham Cole.A Professor of Divinity at Beeson. Among other things, he wrote He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
I have been told I should have included Drs. William Witt, Rodney Whitacre and Gerald Bray. Duly noted and added!