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The influence and significance of Michael Nazir-Ali’s conversion to Catholicism

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, a significant determine amongst Anglican evangelicals, is now a Catholic.

It has been announced that Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, has left Anglicanism and grow to be a Roman Catholic.

He was acquired into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, coming into the ordinariate on his identify day, the feast of St Michael, two weeks in the past.

That is doubtless some of the politically and theologically important adjustments of allegiance within the Christian world for a while.

There have been quite a lot of high-profile conversions together with a former Bishop of London. So why ought to that of Michael be so nuclear in angling and political life?

The reply is that he fashioned the centre of a nucleus of evangelical resistance to the slippage within the secular progressive lodging launched into by the Anglican Church. He was notably outspoken on the intense penalties of ignoring the implications of the expansion of Islam, and the significance of the Christian definition of marriage being restricted to a person and a girl with the intention of getting youngsters.

Earlier high-profile Episcopal conversions had been primarily of Anglo-Catholics. It was virtually anticipated of them. Others shrugged their shoulders and handed them off as virtually inevitable and of no nice shock or even perhaps of no nice significance.

However Nazir-Ali is totally different. The route by which he got here to prominence, which included holding the publish of Normal Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, was evangelical. And naturally evangelicalism is often uncompromisingly hostile to Catholicism.

The entire of Western tradition is reeling below a sort of civil struggle. It quantities virtually to a type of cultural and non secular nervous breakdown. All organisations are creaking on the seams below the assault of what’s variously known as progressive, politically right, woke or cultural Marxism.

The Church has been creaking greater than most because the fault strains are theological and non secular in addition to philosophical and political.

Anglicanism’s world motion of conservative protest, ‘GAFCON’, was largely led by Michael Nazir-Ali. His articulate and well-informed theological voice acted like a glue to carry collectively disparate orthodox actions throughout the Anglican world. His affect supplied a lot of the driving pressure that each propelled and held collectively the conservative or orthodox Anglican revolt towards the progressive revolution led by the American Episcopal Church and adopted by Archbishop Justin Welby from Lambeth Palace.

The truth that he has turned his again on the protest motion he helped to create has huge significance for 2 causes specifically.

Firstly, it is a sign that Nazir-Ali has, like others who’ve transformed just lately to the Catholic Church, judged that the schism within the Church rooted within the Reformation has run out of steam. The Church is not realistically divided by the arguments that erupted 5 hundred years in the past pushed by the Reformers. These conflicts have been changed by a contemporary however no much less important cultural and philosophical realignment.

This wrestle has coalesced into one between the remnants of Christendom and a contemporary wave within the assault of secularism by (cultural) Marxism. They signify two utopian visions, one non secular and the opposite political, in direct battle.

Secondly, in Nazir-Ali’s judgement, Anglicanism has been so compromised by the forces of progressive secularism that it can not now be rescued.

The implications of it will shake Anglicans all through the worldwide Communion.

The conservative GAFCON motion that Nazir-Ali had helped create and lead was set as much as defend Anglicanism towards being subverted by progressive values.

It meant to attract collectively quite a lot of Anglican provinces that had been reluctant to permit their understanding of the Bible’s instructing on gender and sexuality to be challenged and subverted by political and cultural assaults that they judged to be sub or anti-Christian. However inside this protest motion there was no unity throughout the spectrum of views on the 2 main controversies that emerged over feminism and homosexuality.

GAFCON embodied the laudable Anglican ambition for compromise, however the chasm it tried to bridge proved too broad and too problematic.

A number of the critics of the secularisation of Christianity had recognized feminism as threatening a deadly assault on the biblical revelation of God’s fatherhood. They asserted that the motion for the ordination of ladies carried with it the weapons of relativism, a reliance on secularism and a psychological and political antipathy to patriarchy that made the expertise of the ‘fatherhood of God’ inaccessible. They resisted it in constancy to the Bible and the custom of the Church.

Unable to succeed in a standard thoughts on this, GAFCON was not less than capable of agree a moratorium on the problem of ladies bishops. And so the civil struggle that feminism had given rise to may very well be largely postponed.

However just lately that moratorium had been damaged by the progressives within the motion who had been unable or unwilling to maintain their commitments to the moratorium. With the consecration of 5 girls bishops in several provinces, the pretence of compromise was not doable.

Nor was the settlement on the best way to maintain the road on the blessing of same-sex {couples} any simpler to outline and defend.

Solely just lately a high-profile church belonging to the conservative Anglican Church in North America and GAFCON transferred its allegiance to a extra progressive group because it switched sides on the homosexual blessing subject. Neither ACNA nor GAFCON may discover any theological mechanism for convincing waverers of the Christian authenticity of the conservative place.

What this disaster revealed was that Anglicanism lacked an important software within the wrestle with secular relativism, the Magisterium.

Schism and relativism may solely be prevented by counting on a collective theological and non secular thoughts that had emerged flowing down by way of the ages to outline the religion and to supply an genuine interpretation of the Church’s understanding of its foundational texts.

Michael Nazir-Ali discovered his makes an attempt to carry collectively the conservative compromise alliance foundering with out this important Catholic mechanism for outlining fact and authority.

In his electronic mail to his buddies explaining his choice Bishop Nazir- Ali wrote, “I consider that the Anglican need to stick to apostolic, patristic and conciliar instructing can now greatest be maintained within the (Catholic) Ordinariate.”

This sentence represents a condensed code which must be unpacked to be understood.

On this code he communicates his judgement that Anglicanism can not be trusted to take care of its hyperlinks with the historic thoughts of the Church.

‘Apostolic’ means the preferencing of the early Church’s interpretation of the biblical texts to these of up to date tradition.

‘Patristic’ references the prioritising of the judgements and theological values of the primary 5 centuries the place they differ with the judgements of the final 5 centuries.

‘Conciliar’ refers back to the authority of the early Ecumenical Councils of the united Church earlier than the schism of 1054. The 39 Articles of the Church of England insist that a few of the choices of those Councils had been flawed. Nazir-Ali is repudiating that and accepting the view of Catholicism and Orthodoxy in defiance of Reformation protest. These Ecumenical Councils and their interpretation of biblical texts present the center of the Church’s self-understanding and make up a foundational a part of the Magisterium.

Bishop Nazir-Ali’s transfer can even have the impact of significantly strengthening the popularity of the Ordinariate in England. Church Militant quoted an Ordinariate commentator whose view was that “Lord Nazir-Ali is probably the most high-profile convert from the Church of England to Rome for the final hundred years, most likely because the conversion of the mental large Msgr. Ronald Knox.”

“Michael is likely one of the most prodigious intellects of our time, a heroic apologist for the religion, a bulwark towards radical Islam, a laser-sharp cultural commentator, a persuasive preacher, a passionate evangelist of the very best caliber, and a superb linguist and poet,” he wrote.

Bishop Nazir-Ali mentioned: “My hope is that this patrimony will have the ability to contribute the riches of Anglican liturgy, biblical research, pastoral dedication to the neighborhood, strategies of doing ethical theology, hymnody and far else not solely to the Ordinariate however, past that, to the broader Church.”

Bishop Nazir-Ali’s conversion to Catholicism isn’t just yet another excessive profile transfer from what has grow to be the periphery of Christianity to the centre.

It alerts an invite to a severe reconfiguration of these Christian people and organisations in a contemporary alliance towards a hostile secularism. It invitations the broader Church to show its again on the disaster that erupted 5 hundred years in the past however not has relevance.

And maybe most significantly it’s a expensive private transfer to revive the unity of the Church inside the Petrine and apostolic custom that first evangelised the West.

Dr Gavin Ashenden is a former chaplain to the Queen. He blogs at

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