2/08/2007

The Archbishops’ men are reporting in, all guns blasting: First Wright, now Scott-Joynt

Last week it was the Rt. Rev. N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, whose interview with Ruth Gledhill titled, "Primates: Schismatics to be pruned from the branch" raised considerable return fire from this side of the ocean, including my own essay.

This week it is an article by the Rt. Rev. Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester, published in the Church of England newspaper and made available on Anglican Mainstreem, "Primates' Meeting Preview." Bishop Scott-Joynt was, along with Bishop Wright, invited to the meeting called by Bishop Wimberly last September. As reported to ENS, "Texas Bishop Don A. Wimberly's invitation to a "consultation for bishops" in September said it will include two bishops from the Church of England who, with the "blessing" of the Archbishop of Canterbury, are looking for "a group firmly committed to the Windsor Report who can forge a visible link with the See of Canterbury on terms acceptable to the Communion and in keeping with its ethos and mission." Bishops Scott-Joynt and Wright were advertized as the Archbishop's men, "looking for 'a group firmly committed to the Windsor Report who can forge a visible link with the See of Canterbury, etc…"

Where Bishop Wright was snarlingly anti-American, Bishop Scott-Joynt is reasonable, analytical, and almost prayerful. Bad Cop, Good Cop.

But here is the interesting thing: Bishop Scott-Joynt echoes the Anglican Communion Institute idea, picked up just yesterday by Graham Kings and "Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion" . This idea is that of "a college of Windsor Bishops." The bishop of Winchester said this,

"I hope that the ABC and at least a clear majority of his colleagues will recognise and support the Windsor-compliant bishops and dioceses of the TEC as a "college" of bishops, still formally within TEC but commissioned by the Primates both to hold together their own life (including by appropriate means that of the three Forward in Faith dioceses currently threatened with extinction by TEC) and to offer episcopal ministry to "Windsor-compliant" parishes in Dioceses whose bishops are unsympathetic to them."

Aside from several odd new squiggles in this statement – having to do with Forward in Faith dioceses "threatened with extinction by The Episcopal Church), and "formally within TEC but commissioned by the Primates – this is the same request coming from King and LEAC. About these new squiggles, one might ask, "what in hell is he talking about?"

But too much attention to that would be to deflect our gaze from the elephant in the room: Fear has come to visit.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been accused of being on the side of the realignment crowd. I have resisted this, first from genuine care and affection for Archbishop Williams. And then even knowing that he has meet with and attended to the realignment folk (in this Bishop Marshall is absolutely correct), I supposed it was because the Archbishop felt he had to give attention to those whose pain was greatest. I even thought that given his considerable wisdom and theological understanding, he understood his job to be to push unity first and foremost and that therefore we ought to cut him some slack.

But when Durham and Winchester to come out with the old 'one two' punch I am reminded:

The Archbishop really did meet with the folk putting together the Network in September 2003, and said fine. The now Bishop Minns was there. He sent bishops to the House of Bishops Meeting before General Convention, bishops, including the Archbishop of York to General Convention to tell us what we needed to be about. He sent bishops to meet with twenty "Windsor compliant" bishops, about half being bishops in the Network, and this week, strangely, they come out supporting a very specific set of proposals that line up nicely with the Network, the Global South / CAPA "Road to Lambeth", and even the LEAC proposals. This belies any claim by the Archbishop to be even modestly impartial.

About the presence and seating of the Presiding Bishop, a matter of some concern, the Bishop of Winchester wrote,

"And the most damaging outcomes? The Meeting could prove unable to join in affirming the Windsor Report as the Anglican Communion's "road-map"; some of the Primates could walk out of the meeting; especially, the "Global South" Primates could lose their cohesion, and they and Archbishop Rowan (the ABC) could fail to agree on the way forward, and some of them could walk out. Perhaps most controversially, the Primate of the Episcopal Church might be seated as a full member of the Meeting — and I am in no doubt that this would destroy the authority in the Communion, and in the eyes of our Ecumenical partners, of the Windsor Report. The present level of crisis and division within the Anglican Communion was sparked by the decision of the Episcopal Church" (highlight mine.)

The Bishop of Winchester, who we may at this point assume does not speak simply for himself, believes that seating Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori "as a full member of the Meeting" would "destroy the authority in the Communion, and in the eyes of our Ecumenical partners, of the Windsor Report.

There it is: The Archbishop's second man speaks. It would appear he believes that the Presiding Bishop ought not be seated as a "full member of the Meeting." He invokes the fear that the Archbishop would lose authority in the Communion (read with some Primates in the Global South) and in the Ecumenical community (read Rome).

Well, everyone has their cross to bear, and seemingly everyone has their price. It would be very sad indeed if our Presiding Bishop were denied a place at the Table – of the Lord or of the Lord Archbishop – for a mess of pottage. And it is pottage: The Global South Primates in question don't think much of the Church of England, the only place the ABC has real ground to walk on, and some of our Ecumenical friends don't think the Archbishop is really ordained in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. But everyone is polite enough for the moment.

I have recently been thinking on that shortest verse in the Bible, a short sentence of sadness and grief for all the demands and feelings experienced by our Lord Jesus on the death of his friend Lazarus. "Jesus wept."

It will all come out alright: the death of a friend (even an imaginary friend) can be followed by the glory of God shown in one way or another. Beyond the end of all this unfortunate show of fear and the need for manipulation of things, there will be new life. We will be able to go over there and live. But for the moment, perhaps Jesus shows the way for all of us. This may indeed be a time to weep.

Gnashing of teeth will have its moment too. There is time for everything.





28 comments:

  1. Thank you Mark.

    I agree, there is little more to deny. I felt earlier on that we should be "viewing" all these "special meetings" at Camp Allen and New York...it's way out of control for the ABC and his "representatives" to be meddling in TEC affairs to this extent.

    I also agree that wonderous things will come to pass if they remove ++Katharine from the Primates Meeting...reality, it just takes some getting used to...but then, Rome wasn't built in a day.

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  2. Well, you know, maybe Bishop Wright is partially correct. Perhaps no one - even Durham and Winchester - will tell Canterbury how to think or act.

    We have, of course, nothing to fear, really. Participation in the Anglican Communion is, perhaps, of the pleni esse of The Episcopal Church, but not of the esse. If we are rejected from one, we will begin again and seek to build another.

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  3. " I supposed it was because the Archbishop felt he had to give attention to those whose pain was greatest." Hang on, sometimes the obvious explanation is good to go with, but it isn't this. Rowan might have given them attention because they are in line with the official teaching of Lambeth--even if we say, 'Okay, Lambeth on ly represents the general mind of the Church at this time . ..'--and because they are eager to be Windsor compliant. I just don't think that Williams is as political motivated as you think, or intentionally partisan in the way almost all of the posters on this blog have said.

    A post I sent in was not published but I will repeat in this connection what I said there: it is also a mistake to look for handlers of Cantebury left over from Carey. There are some administrative people who handle the day-to-day stuff who predate Rowan, but his council of advice and confidantes are truly his. And, Wright is correct on this, Williams is so perceptive and intelligent that he will not be swayed by thin visions. And, if I had to bet on what is also operative here, it is Rowan's rethinking, on the material issue that divides us now, what he wrote in 'The Body's Grace' a piece he admitted was heavily criticized and 'fairly so' he said.

    John 2007

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  4. I would go one step further and argue that the Communion Marshall alludes to already exists, and that it will survive whatever happens at Tanzania. In truth, I think we're groaning with the weight of an increasingly outdated institution the probably ceased working about 15 years ago, maybe longer.

    The real Communion is most manifest in the thousands if not millions of real, very human relationships on the ground throughout Anglicanism, and beyond.

    Tanzania will be about the Primates. Sure, it helps to have them stick it out together as a sign of Communion, and it makes the global partnerships easier (well, at least some of the time).

    But the real Communion, it seems to me, is in the person-to-person incarnational Gospel witness as we break bread together, partner for mission, and follow in the footsteps of Christ.

    So, I've decided not to lose sleep anymore over what's coming out of a few higher ups in the C of E, Nigeria, or anywhere else as the Primates' Meeting approaches. I will pray for them, of course, and for our Presiding Bishop. She indeed appears to see beyond the fray.

    I do want to see the Anglican Communion continue. . .

    But, as one post pointed out today, the Communion is ultimately not mine, not ours, and certainly not the Primates'. It belongs to God in Christ.

    Now, isn't that a hopeful thought?

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  5. christopher+9/2/07 9:39 AM

    Just let this be over one way or the other. It's increasingly hard to handle all the listening and affection being offered throughout the Communion.

    If the Instruments of Communion ultimately opt for authoritative centralization of power - and that remains a big "if," of course, - I just hope that other Provinces, especially England, are willing, too, to suffer the departure of a number of their own brethren to new Anglican/Episcopal fellowship structures. For that is most likely next, if minority (but still biblically based) views are to be crushed. If a majority have no need for us, then they will have no need for those who agree with us either. So, indeed, all shall be well for everyone. Just no more listening and affection please; it's too much to bear anymore.

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  6. Well, ++Katharine is well suited to deal with all the malicious opprobrium & abuse & is supported as well with many heart-felt prayers!

    This is beginning to remind me very much of Groucho Marx's comment about not wanting to join any club that wanted him as a member -- I certainly would not to be part of an Anglican Communion of the sort envisaged by these prominent C of E bishops!

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  7. "But the real Communion, it seems to me, is in the person-to-person incarnational Gospel witness as we break bread together, partner for mission, and follow in the footsteps of Christ." Okay, pretty close. But I would point to the lack in this statement of seeking a common mind, agreeing on how to live together and what counts as living in the truth. Note also how two metaphors 'following in Jesus' footstepts' and 'break bread together' beg the questions that divide us: what does it mean to follow, and what kind of communion should we share? John 2007

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  8. ... Forward in Faith dioceses "threatened with extinction by The Episcopal Church"... one might ask, "what in hell is he talking about?"

    Come now, Mark+, such coyness is unbecoming. (This particular issue, interestingly, demonstrates pretty clearly what 815 means by "unity" -- we live together all nicey-nice and tolerant until my side gets a majority, at which time it's my way or the highway.)

    As to +++Rowan's "impartiality," I note that you (and others) have called on him repeatedly in the past to exert leadership. He is doing so.

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  9. i would be less than honest if i didn't admit to increased anxiety as a result of reading the recent publications of Wright, Scott-Joynt, and LEAC. After all, i reside in the diocese of a 'Windsor Bishop'.

    Of course, my prayers are with all the Primates, especially our Presiding Bishop, as this meeting approaches. And with my Bishop, +Jeffrey Steenson. However, my heart & mind still remain troubled.

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  10. John 2007,

    I disagree that my statement lacks any intent to seek a common mind, implicit or otherwise. Partnering in mission, I believe, assumes a willingness to seek a common mind, not necessarily in all things, but at least on the missional work in front of us.

    And I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "what communion do we share?" The rites themselves have been part of Anglican and greater catholic tradition for centuries and are about gathering around a table together to, among a great many other signs, acknowledge our unity in Christ Jesus. Without going into a major essay on eucharistic theology, the bread and the wine remind us, or even embody that our unity is in Christ, not necessarily in every belief that we hold dear. It seems to me Jesus did not expect unity of mind amongst his disciples (they frequently argued with each other), but missional unity and unity of heart by remaining together.

    But I may have misunderstood you. If you could explain your question a bit more, maybe that would further the conversation.

    God's peace.

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  11. christopher+9/2/07 12:14 PM

    "Where Bishop Wright was snarlingly anti-American, Bishop Scott-Joynt is reasonable, analytical, and almost prayerful."

    On a closer read, I have to take issue with this assertion, because parts of Bishop Scott-Joynt's statement don't seem reasonable at all. Starting with his odd, out-of-the-gate assertion that "it is hard to escape the conclusion that TEC is breaking apart." This must be one of those fallacies that achieves "truthiness" if it is repeated often enough - twice in this statement. The Episcopal Church is just fine, many thanks Bishop, even if there are some individuals choosing to leave it.

    And then there is his shocked accusation that "potentially crippling lawsuits over property are threatened in many Dioceses, encouraged by TEC’s New York headquarters." Apparently, if parishes within his own historic diocese were to announce their departure, Bishop Scott-Joynt would let them go with his blessing - and any properties of the diocese they wanted to take with them. Hypocrisy!

    The recent statements by Bishops Wright and Scott-Joynt are probably meant to create an illusion of chaos, crisis and theological confusion in the Episcopal Church so that others might find it easier to marginalize us. I think, however, that most Primates and Provinces are smarter than a few English bishops seem to believe.

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  12. More’s the pity. All that was required was compliance with the Dromantine requests, which were nothing more than minimal expressions of two millennia of Christian moral teaching. And, the really sad thing about it is that the Windsor Report explicitly punted on the underlying issues, and remained fully open to ECUSA bringing the rest of the Communion around to its view. But, that wasn’t good enough for ECUSA. And so, the real fundamentalists – the ones unwilling to change their opinions and practices, come hell or high water – will likely pay the price, which will necessarily wound the rest of the Communion as well. Sad.

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  13. To "r" in the post above, 'partnering in mission' is indeed important but so often this means (or is reduced to) social action. Admittedly, this is part of the gospel and part of our mission. But, and surely this is known, those who dissent from the direction ECUSA is taking with regard to sexual ethics and sexual morality, think that part of our mission--and at the heart of our mission--is to call people to repentance and holiness in their sexual lives. That is--I know it is for me--right at "the missional work in front of us."

    And, my point about sharing communion is to challenge the idea that 'being at the table' is more important than how we live our lives. Of course, we share in communion among ourselves without being completely of like mind. But that is different than sharing communion with someone who you think is, in all reasonable interpretation of our tradition and our norms, living willfully in sin. I say this BTW as someone who has been in the center and slightly left (on some things) for 24 years as a minister in ECUSA. I have been "chastened" in my liberalism, or out of it. No longer do I think "being at the table" is most important. It certainly isn't something that jumps out of the pages of the NT at us. Much more on sanctity of life in that book, I think.

    As an instance of what I think, when I listen to our presiding bishop she makes it clear, however laudable are her social goals, that discipleship as coming under the Lordship of Christ, the living, acting Christ (whom she apparently would have cautioned not to present himself as 'the Way, the Truth and the Life')is not at the heart of her mission. So what's 'missional unity' here? I could have used countless other examples, but the point is that what is dividing us--me now solidly with the conservative in ECUSA--is precisely a mission-central question. What we do with our bodies, and what we teach our children, and what we think, is important.
    John 2007

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  14. John 2007

    Your points are very well taken, and I do agree that "partnering in mission" is sometimes reduced to social action. Another frame of reference for that reality, though, is that social action may offer common ground while we wrestle with our disagreements over questions of sexual morality.

    I'd like to point out that there seems the misconception at times that the "liberal" side is saying anything goes vis-a-vis sexual morality. I don't believe that to be the case. LGBT Christians are called to holiness in their bodies and sexual relationships every bit as much as heterosexuals. That there is disagreement on what this looks like, I will concede, but I am concerned that the argument at the present time often is oversimplified as holiness over and against licentiousness. That betrays the complexity of the views on both sides and does not lend itself at all to finding a common way forward.

    I have posted elsewhere on the controversy over "the Way, the Truth, and the Life," particularly in the context in which it appears in John's Gospel vs. how it is being used as a universal litmus test in the present arguments.

    I do heartily agree that there is more than table fellowship to the Christian faith. I would argue, as what I might call myself a "thoroughgoing sacramentalist" that the table fellowship itself is transformative for everyone who gathers -- that we are being brought into the Way of Christ through it.

    Indeed for some it will be treated as a casual affair at times, but I hesitate pushing them out (short of there deliberate violence being done to the community), because that assumes the limits of God's grace in both the companionship at the table and in the shared gifts, as well as the Word that is shared as part of our tradition.

    A shorter reponse might be this: can we learn to listen and respond to each other with generosity, even when we disagree? That, it seems to me, is the hard question facing all sides in the present mess.

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  15. r
    You post announces rather than solves the issues. But Agreed:"A shorter reponse might be this: can we learn to listen and respond to each other with generosity, even when we disagree? That, it seems to me, is the hard question facing all sides in the present mess." However, to give one example, I cannot in any clear conscience at all have my children confirmed by VGR or take communion with him and feel good about it. Can I build a case, theologically, for doing so? I have been for years and it is something decidedly eschatological: God will one day make all things well and remove the oppressive burdens, heal the wounds of creation, and so we are bearing proleptic witness to that in the present even with those whom we disagree. So communion is in part a pledge to work toward that day, and a movement toward that day. However, that answer no longer satisfies me. The theological reasons are more than a few, and a personal reason is that it no longer brings with it the NT sense of surpassing peace and the peaceful fruit of righteousness. I have come to think, in fact, that we do everyone a disservice when the "table" is reduced to 'can't we all get along' which, I sense, you might agree with also. I think some other denominations (RC's and even thoughtful Baptists!) are living more into God's truth than we are on the presenting issues of the day.

    I would also add that to "learn to listen and respond to each other with generosity" does not, for me, have to be within the same denomination. I can say, now much easier, 'Hey, ECUSA is trying out this experiment. Speak to them, Lord, and work on them--and on me too' outside of the ongoing fray. Do I think this means I am violating John 17? Not at all. By standing outside of ECUSA, or its leadership, I am saying, as I think places in VA are saying, 'Come stand over here. The ground is solid.'

    And, on John 14:6, I can agree that it should not be a litmus test, and it does require some thought. But it would be nice to see a Presiding Bishop with some theological depth for a change who at least labors under the force of the dominical words, tries to explain and deepen the importance of the atonment rather than suggest that its an ungracious Christianity that focuses on that, and one who thinks that maybe, just maybe Jesus loves the world more than we do and taking him at his word, even in the so-called 'exclusivist' passages might be, at the end of the day, on the Last Day, the best thing for the world. John 2007

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  16. r said:

    "[S]ocial action may offer common ground while we wrestle with our disagreements over questions of sexual morality."

    Two points.

    1. The two sides aren't wrestling in an attempt to come to some mutually satisfactory arrangement. They are advocating mutually-exclusive positions and both sides are absolutely convinced of the rightness of their cause. Neither side has any intention of retreating. Both sides seek only to convert the other. Consequently, there is no mutually-satisfactory arrangement to be had. I think the Western Front in 1916 might be a better metaphor than wrestling.

    2. Mutual social action would also confer legitimacy. Liberals desire mutual social action for just this reason. It implies that the Church is broad enough to encompass the divergent theologies. But this is precisely the issue in contention. The Church is broad enough to encompass both theologies only if the liberals are right. This in my judgment is the more important issue. Conservative desire that liberal expressions of Christianity be de-legitimized. That is why conservatives demand either repentance or separation - to publically demonstrate the false nature of liberal religion.

    carl

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  17. christopher+9/2/07 6:02 PM

    "I think some other denominations (RC's and even thoughtful Baptists!) are living more into God's truth than we are on the presenting issues of the day."

    With respect, the Roman Catholic Church and Baptists do not agree on God's truth (certainly not as it applies to ecclesiology), so this is a difficult assertion to follow, unless it means that one should only be in fellowship - institutionally - with those with whom one agrees theologically/ecclesiologically. Perhaps that is so - at least as regards formal bonds.

    "However, to give one example, I cannot in any clear conscience at all have my children confirmed by VGR or take communion with him and feel good about it."

    Again, with respect, it is not clear where you stand on the 39 Articles, but Article 26 clarifies that any perceived "unworthiness of...ministers" - which you seem to believe Bishop Robinson to reflect - "hinders not the effect of the Sacraments." One can argue about what happens when no "just judgment" leads to deposition of one believed by some to be unworthy, but there it is. Given some newfound fervor for the Articles of Religion these days, this might be of interest. If this is not relevant, then there is no particular reason any of the other Articles would be either.

    That puts us back where we started: trying to establish minimum standards for formal Anglican fellowship, which is what all present discussions seem to be about. Perhaps the time has indeed come for this very discussion. For the past century, the Lambeth Quadrilateral served this purpose well, but it no longer seems to be of much interest or relevance to much of the Anglican Communion, despite Windsor Report assertions to the contrary.

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  18. Christopher
    1. I said "on the presenting" issues I find my Baptist friends and RC friends more in line with what I think is the truth about sexual intimacy. Of course, they are far apart on other things.

    2. The whole line of thought about "efficacy of the Sacraments" no matter what the worthiness of the minister is beside the point, really, for me. For I am not interested in the sacramental efficacy as understood ex opere operato or by Article 26. I am interested in the very public and personal-psychological nature of the event and the conscience of my children. Surely, one cannot send children into such a ceremony double-minded oneself let alone if they themselves have huge reservations about the man through whom God's efficacy should flow.

    I happen to think, in the current controversy, appeals to the Donatist controversy are often ill-deployed for those who had previously apostatized or caved in under pressure, came back to the faith and intentional embrace of Christian belief and practice--and that coming back and repenting is what is at issue here. Developmentally, I think it's nuts to ask bright teenagers who think gay sex is a violation of biblical norms that it doesn't matter that the Bishop is VGR (likable as he is, I should say, in so many ways).

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  19. My question is why even raise the question about the ABC. My reading of previous posts is that he has no authority in the Episcopal church. The majority of the episcopal church has ignored him when he (or Lambeth) asked the Episcopal church not to elect a gay bishop. Some progressives have even said the ABC should butt out. Why is it a surpise that he now, after being continually ignored by the Episcopal Church, sets his course along with his beliefs. The majority of the Episcopal Church have set their course - General Convention have set their course against the advice of the Anglican Communion - so get on with it. Stop moaning about what others in the Anglican Communion are doing, ignore what they are doing and follow the path y'all have decided to follow.

    Andy John

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  20. I think it's nuts to ask bright teenagers who think gay sex is a violation of biblical norms that it doesn't matter that the Bishop is VGR (likable as he is, I should say, in so many ways).

    John 2007 (I assume you wrote the above):

    If I understand you correctly, you are making a distinction between pastoral and sacramental questions. To illustrate more broadly, if, say, one of my parishioners could not abide me because he or she disagreed with my manner of life or something I had, say, taught or said in a sermon, he or she could opt out (and have his or her children do the same) of receiving anything sacramental from or by me. To me, that is a pastoral choice. Likewise, the same, I suppose, would hold true with any bishop.

    But the efficacy of the sacraments still remain.

    I'm only re-stating what you said, just to make sure I understand this correctly. Is that so?

    You're right, I am spending a great deal here simply fleshing out the issues, not trying to "solve" them. My desire here is to deepen understanding, at least on my "side."

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  21. "I said "on the presenting" issues I find my Baptist friends and RC friends more in line with what I think is the truth about sexual intimacy. "

    So we are back, finally, to the point. All of the noise, dishonesty and theo-babble stripped aside, we are left with the definition of a good church -- institutional homophobia.

    There are indeed as some of the neo-pharisees preach, two churches. One populated by people so insecure they think haveing a good and decent man like Bp. Robinson confirm their kids will spread a contageon, the other confiedent that the power of the Spirit will lead all of us including even homophobe's children where the Spirit wants them to go, if only we will follow.

    Yup, neo-pharisees are holier than me, and I am so glad. I am not going where they and their legalism are trying to drag the entire communion. One wonders if the new vestments for grand ahytola ++Akinola will have numbered fringes, one for each rule in the "convenant."

    ;;sigh;;

    FWIW
    jimB

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  22. christopher+10/2/07 10:44 AM

    John,

    Naturally, I do not know anything about the beliefs and convictions of your teenage children - this seems to be the key issue for you - and I would not presume to speak to that. Also, if my comment yesterday sounded grumpy in any way, I apologize.

    Here's the problem I see in all this. It is the problem of judgment, and Christian communities have struggled with it since the NT period, as the Pastoral Epistles, for example, clearly reflect. When we as Christians feel we must judge who is worthy enough to be with us at the Lord's Table (or in the Church at all), we set off down a problematic path. For which of us is truly worthy at all? We must ALL repent, all the time. Thus the virtue of humilty.

    Your point seems to be about establishing the limits of participation (and thus worthiness), though, and certainly every community of people must do this to some extent. Yet, Jesus himself - our very Lord and Savior - contested the contemporary rules of religious and social worthiness time and time again. In His example, I see a call to great humility in judging the worthiness of others before God.

    What's more, Jesus challenges our very human understanding that only those who "belong" in fellowship with us should actually be in fellowship with us. It is human - and perhaps necessary - to create communities of like-minded people; this is how nations and denominations are formed. Not surprisingly, though, Jesus calls us to a greater vision of unity, calls us to see beyond the strength of our own convictions and to try to love the way God loves. Perhaps this is, in the end, impossible, and clearly demarcated communities, peacefully coexisting with others, is the best we poor humans can offer.

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  23. "Jesus calls us to a greater vision of unity, calls us to see beyond the strength of our own convictions and to try to love the way God loves."

    I do not hesitate to say 'We are all sinners, and if, say, the conservative position is correct on sexual relation that this gives conservatives no room to create a hierarchy of sins as if, say, pride in an evangelical is less abhorrent, more acceptable, to God than the sins evangelicals codemn.'

    I am not out to set limits on community or to be preoccupied with boundaries. It has more to do with what might called the integrity--the hanging together--of certain events and practices. We could imagine people getting married, for instance, and making their vows to one another that lacked integrity--say, the groom has wandering eyes and has done nothing about it, or is marrying for money, or comes to the wedding with a slight buzz. In these cases the wedding ceremony would not proceeding in the best possible way, we would all agree. Now this is not a perfect analogy, esp since communion is about our unworthiness and God's forgiveness. And yet, I think Jesus' call is not just about 'unity' as you say but also about striving for moral purity. When, incidentally, our BCP says, in one eucharistic prayer, that we are to come to the table for strenght, I take this to mean strenght to follow Christ. If I cannot in clear conscience believe that is what we are praying and doing, then I think the event lacks the kind of integrity it requests on its own terms.

    To Jim, I would say the charge of 'institutional homophobia' is hardly true of ECUSA unless you mean that any position that says the fullness of sexual relations is to be reserved for marriage as traditionally understood is homophobic. If you take this position then I guess if I give everything to my homosexual brother, let him live with us, pay for his college tuition, love him in every way, but disagree with his idea of finding a sexual mate, you would still say that's homophobic? John 2007

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  24. christopher+10/2/07 3:34 PM

    John 2007,

    "I am not out to set limits on community or to be preoccupied with boundaries."

    But is this not precisely what we do when we cast someone as unworthy to be with us at the Lord's Table - or to administer the Sacraments, or to take Holy Orders - and (more to the point) when we recognize only one possible way to pursue the perfection to which Christ calls us amidst so many aspects of biblical guidance? I am not judging this as necessarily wrong; I am simply saying we must recognize it for what it is: the setting of limits. To be fully consistent, would one not also have to assert that partnered gay people should not be baptized, confirmed, or admitted to Holy Communion? Or is there a fundamental difference between the worthiness required for one Sacrament and that required - if required - for others?

    "And yet, I think Jesus' call is not just about 'unity' as you say but also about striving for moral purity."

    I certainly would never say that Jesus' call for unity is the crux of Jesus' call to us. That, it seems, is better covered in the Summary of the Law: Love God, love neighbor as self. For on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

    "I take this to mean strength to follow Christ."

    As do I. Nonetheless, there are different biblically based understandings of how we live out our discipleship in community. If we as Anglican Christians cannot agree on this, we are back to setting up limits and boundaries - a very human default position and one God in Christ calls us by word and example to get beyond. As I have said, though, such purity of love, with which Christ seems primarily concerned, might be beyond our frail, human grasp. Yet we must try and try and try again. Clearly, your loving support of your gay brother is a faithful step in that very direction, an ongoing act of godly love.

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  25. Christopher wrote:

    The recent statements by Bishops Wright and Scott-Joynt are probably meant to create an illusion of chaos, crisis and theological confusion in the Episcopal Church so that others might find it easier to marginalize us.

    No, Christopher. Your church has done a bang-up job of that all by yourselves. You clearly don't need anyone's help on that score.

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  26. "we are back to setting up limits and boundaries." No, I disagree with this casting of things. When we obey or follow Christ what you call boundaries may happen; but we are not aiming to set them up. When we marry, boundaries happen. When I refuse to go along with gossip at the office, boundaries happen. I would rather do the right thing--which, in the real-life example I gave was not pretending that everything was okay or well enough or repentant enough to receive either communion from VGR or let him confirm my children--and let the chips, boundaries, fall where they may.

    And BTW 'boundary' is being used here metaphorically for there is no real wall or line written on the sanctuary floor. So if we unpack this, what are we saying? Maybe that I have a problem with VGR as my bishop. Well, duh, yeah I do, so why lie and reduce the integrity of the event by participating in bad faith? As I said earlier the only theological justification I can muster--which I think is a noble try on my part actually--is to say that participation is done with eschatological hope that one day God will resolve all things, burn away all sin (mine foremost), and that I pledge to work toward that. But I have come to see that I can do this better by just praying for VGR and others with the same hope from a distance and not have to enter what I think is a false realm of activity.

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  27. love him in every way, but disagree with his idea of finding a sexual* mate

    Oxymoron. >:-/

    [* The modifier "sexual" is, of course, a smear. A mate, in human terms, is a life-partner in EVERY way]

    Maybe that I have a problem with VGR as my bishop. Well, duh, yeah I do, so why lie and reduce the integrity of the event by participating in bad faith?

    Because the Sacraments (supremely, the Eucharist) aren't All. About. You.? That with even a "mustard seed" of faith, you could nevertheless open yourself up to transformed in Christ---and in the Body of Christ, w/ +GR, your brother?

    Lord have mercy!

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  28. To the last post which says 'even a "mustard seed" of faith' might transform me, I would say, 'Please read the posts again, closely.' I have faith, of course, thanks to God. And obviously my attempts to partake in the events under question with an eschatological view are and have been precisely acts of faith, as the posts made clear. I have every confidence that God is alive, at work, and lots of willingness with VGR to hope that 'we all be in heaven one day' and this skirmish can be a blip on the screen. But the same God who tells me all of that also tells me that I can be free to make a humble, modest, yet firm stand as I do, without trying to create boundaries, without trying to damn others, and so on. This is what I mean by saying my own stance and policies are obedient ones which let God, in His good time, sort things out.

    As for the bit you posted about 'sexual' being a smear, well, again, you didn't read closely enough. I was asking a previous poster if every questioning of same sex activity counted for homophobia.

    ReplyDelete

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