Rick Warren: Archbishop Peter Akinola The Strength of a Lion
|PIC1|Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola captured headlines last year for leading the worldwide revolt of evangelical Anglicans against the ordination of gay bishops in the U.S. by the Episcopal Church. But to caricature his ministry with that one issue would severely underestimate his importance.
Akinola personifies the epochal change in the Christian church, namely that the leadership, influence, growth and center of gravity in Christianity is shifting from the northern hemisphere to the southern. New African, Asian and Latin American church leaders like Akinola, 61, are bright, biblical, courageous and willing to point out the inconsistencies, weaknesses and theological drift in Western churches.
With nearly 18 million active Anglicans in Nigeria, Akinola's flock dwarfs the mother Church of England's membership. And since he is chairman of the 37 million-member Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, when he speaks, far more than just Anglicans pay attention. Akinola has the strength of a lion, useful in confronting Third World fundamentalism and First World relativism.
He has been criticized for recent remarks of frustration that some felt exacerbated Muslim-Christian clashes in his country. But Christians are routinely attacked in parts of Nigeria, and his anger was no more characteristic than Nelson Mandela's apartheid-era statement that "sooner or later this violence is going to spread to whites." I believe he, like Mandela, is a man of peace and his leadership is a model for Christians around the world.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, USA, one of th world's best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the global bestsellers The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers.