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. – John 17.20- 21 ESV
The visit of The Most Reverend Henry Luke Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda, this Sunday is a visible expression of the oneness and unity of the people of God around the world and across denominational lines. It is providential that today the Archbishop is featured on the front page story of the Wall Street Journal. The article is: “Episcopal Church Dissidents Seek Authority Overseas.” We will feature more about this global Bible-believing Christian leader in First News, but let me reflect on some questions that you might have.
Why is Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi in a front page story of the Wall Street Journal today?
The Anglican Church is the third largest Christian group in the world today, behind the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox churches. Archbishop Orombi is at the forefront of revival, church planting, and resisting the liberalism that has overtaken the official leadership of the Episcopal Church, USA. As conservative, evangelical Episcopal congregations have rejected unbiblical positions, many have aligned themselves with like-minded bishops and their national churches. The Anglican Church in Uganda is one place where these churches go. The reason they submit themselves to that authority is because of this Archbishop. This is a modern day Martin Luther. He has opposed Idi Amin, Communism, and now radical Islam. His preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has now become the predominant spiritual movement in Uganda. He is one of the leading Christian leaders on earth today. It is telling that the new leaders of our faith are now coming from places like Africa. I predict that in coming years there will be more outspoken Christian leaders coming from places like India and China.
What is an Archbishop? Isn’t that a Roman Catholic thing?
Let me answer that good question in this way. J.C. Ryle was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool. He used to always refer to his beloved church as “The Reformed Church of England.” It is very true that the Church of England, the mother church of all Anglican churches, is reformed in its official theology and worship. The Thirty Nine Articles of Religion is a powerful and beautiful expression of the Reformed faith. It is, in short, a Calvinistic theological statement of what the Bible teaches. That is the theology of the Anglican Church. The worship of the church is grounded in the Book of Common Prayer. (See how the Prayer Book has spread around the world at: http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/Muss-Arnolt/index.htm.)
I dare say that most Protestant Churches derive their worship services in some way from the Book of Common Prayer. The prayer book was written with help from John Knox, John Calvin, Martin Bucer, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Crammer. But, and this is a big “but” for us, the church government of the Anglican church remains “Episcopalian” or governed by bishops. Presbyterians are governed through local church elders and Ministers of the Gospel. I hold to Presbyterian government as the system of church government taught in Scripture (see Thomas Witherow’s classic The Apostolic Church online). But other believers, like our friend Dr. John Guest, and our featured speaker this Sunday, believe in the Episcopal form of government. Speaking for them, I would say that they hold to this form of government, not out of tradition only, but out of fidelity to the Word of God. On this matter we agree to disagree. Presbyterian churches are gathered into presbyteries while Anglican churches are gathered into dioceses. The bishops and their dioceses are then gathered into a national body under a presiding bishop, the archbishop. Henry Luke Orombi, then, is the head pastor of other pastors and churches in a national network. This man is being used of God to shepherd a national flock of Bible-believing, Gospel-sharing Christians that number about nine million. They, in turn, are being used of God to bring revival to that nation. The revival in Uganda is now spilling over into other African countries. Now they are coming to the United States to preach Christ to a nation where revival is not happening. We welcome the Archbishop as a brother in Christ and recognize him as a man that God is using in a powerful way.
I hope you get to worship at First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga this Sunday. It promises to be a historic day for our church, for our city and yes, even for our nation. We have come to a day when Anglicans from Uganda are now evangelizing Anglicans from England and America. We have come to a day when Christians from Africa are now bringing the Gospel to America. As one pastor who is praying for revival, I thank God for that. I thank God that a Presbyterian minister from America and an Anglican Archbishop from Africa can stand together, in unity, for Jesus Christ, that the world may know we are one. We are one in our faith in the Bible. We are one in our faith in the Reformed doctrines of salvation according to the Scriptures alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, and to God’s glory alone. And we are one in our desire to see revival in our generation.