Some Thoughts on the Deposition of Bishop Duncan.

First, I join with others who have been thinking about Bishop Duncan and praying for him and all the members of the House of Bishops today. I am saddened that this day ever had to come but it was anticipated by everyone, including Bishop Duncan and his companions.
At the same time, Bishop Duncan remains hopeful and so should we all.

With that I must also say that I believe the House of Bishops acted correctly and I pray that its members too are hopeful. Bishop Duncan has hope "because of the unstoppable Reformation that is overtaking the Christian Church in the West." He has made his choice.

Others of us make another choice: that the Christian Church in the West is not for us the object of reformation, nor is some other Christian Church, but rather that we are the object of reformation, we Christians of every nation, people or tribe.

I agree with Bishop Duncan, that there is an unstoppable Reformation. But I believe it is overtaking us all and that the Christian Church, east, west, north and south, had damn well better come up with something more interesting to faith and vocation in the Lord than arguments about who is more biblically based and closer to the purity of the faith once delivered of the saints. We need to be reformed away from the Churchyness that got us here.

OK. There's the rant. Now just a note on process. Bishop Duncan and others had it all together on this one. His letter, one from the Standing Committee,
a whole plan as to how they will run the Convention with him as a "consultant" on the side, but the SC in the Chair, immediate seating of Bishop Duncan as a member of the House of Bishops in the Southern Cone, all, all are in place and brought out within four hours of the decision. Careful planning, yes? On the Diocese of Pittsburgh webpage there is even the drama of the empty seat. (see to right) They've been working on this for some time.

According to Bishop Duncan's letter to the Diocese, the seat may not be cool for more than a few weeks if all goes according to plan. He wrote, "The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will move forward under its new Ecclesiastical Authority, its Standing Committee. That body will carry the diocese through to our realignment vote on October 4. With the success of that vote, it will be possible that we be joined together again as bishop and people."

Well, Bishop Duncan has indeed left the building. He now resides in the Southern Cone. His seat is empty. If he in any way had not abandoning the communion of this Church, he has now. He had already packed his bags and was waiting for the boarding of his flight to be announced.


  1. From start to finish this has been one big, well-rehearsed theatrical event. My question is: whom does the drama serve?

  2. Mark,
    It is all part of the overall plan. It is time to do something the Global South doesn't expect.

  3. Like what Fred?

    Stopping the lawsuits, the uncanonical depositions, recognizing that there are irreconcilable differences and that the Christian way forward might be an amicable and peaceful split that would honor Jesus and not defile Him.
    The only thing those of us in TEC, who don't agree with the current direction, wouldn't expect is Grace and mercy from Bp. Schori and her minions.
    So please, do something we wouldn't expect. It would be refreshingly Christian.

    Bob of Fremont

  4. TEC plays into the hands of CANA, Southern Cone et al....again.

    But, in the end, this means little because TEC HOB will do whatever it takes to stay in the ABC's club.... (see BO33, for example)

  5. Any ideas about why the bishops didn't also deal with Iker at this meeting? Seems odd to me that they didn't.

  6. (Dan)
    I hope (and truly believe) that this proves to be TEC's Trojan Horse. Enjoy your "victory."

  7. You should flip a coin to see who gets what. At least both sides would save time, bad publicity and legal fees.

  8. And why shouldn't Bishop Duncan have packed his bags? The presiding bishop has skirted canon laws and bent them to her liking throughout this process, leaving Bishop Duncan with little reason to believe this vote would go in his favor. Regardless of whether one agrees with his opinion of TEC today, the fact remains that as he laid the groundwork for realigning his diocese with the Southern Cone, he followed the rules to the letter -- unlike the presiding bishop and her chancellor. And the fact that there ARE established rules for such a process indiciate that it is a legal, viable option for a diocese within TEC to take such action. Just as the diocese of New Hampshire chose a path that others in TEC might not have, so too did the diocese of Pittsburgh -- yet only one bishop is being deposed. TEC speaks of being inclusive, yet there is no room for a devout son of the Church, likely the most faithful person I've known in my life -- how has it come to this? My heart is heavy.

  9. Mark,

    I think your point re: “arguments about who is more biblically based and closer to the purity of the faith once delivered of the saints” is well taken. After years of this conflict, the whole thing has gotten stale and become a caricature of itself. That’s too bad, because the central questions remain as important as ever.

    Yes, we are the objects of ongoing reformation; on that, I also agree. The question is whether we should be reformed to align with the world and its values, as ECUSA essentially teaches, or whether we should be reformed to align with Our Lord Jesus Christ – the whole Christ: the one Who shows compassion and grace, but also the one who said He came to bring a sword, and is one with the Father who said that we should be holy as is He.

    There isn’t any question Bishop Duncan stands for the latter. That ECUSA no longer has any use for such a man (as it certainly would have for most of its history) is to its shame.

  10. For the sake of not letting a lie go unchallenged:

    The law suits are protecting people who are being victimized by lying thieves. It needs to be said clearly. These are thieves who have wandered down the roads of Donatism and a form of Sophistic Calvinism that would make Bullenger blush.

    The depositions are canonical. Since there is no court of appeal, the Bishops decide on the interpretation. They did not overrule the PB, so the interpretation is canonical. You may not like it, but that is the case.

    When you all stop you assaults upon the Church of God, and leave with out trying to take that which doesn’t belong to you, then we may talk about "grace."

    This may seem strongly worded, but I have grown tired of the "We're being Oppressed!" line these conspiring losers continue to use. They know what is expected of them, and I might respect them more if they would just have the courage of their convictions and walk away. Rather than that they want to steal and pillage all the while accusing us of defiling Christ.

    No doubt this shall generate some wounded response.

  11. A couple thoughts:

    Although everyone on both sides seems intent on ignoring it, the church responded to a specific complaint. That is, neither the presiding bishop nor anyone else set out to purge conservative bishops. Which is why nothing has happened to Bp. Iker. Bp. Iker's actions will almost certainly lead us to a similar moment, but his was a specific action on a specific complaint by some of a specific diocese's persons.

    I am not a fan of the PB. I think B033 is code for "sell out" and that the phrase, "crucified place" will live in infamy. None-the-less, she is not the controlling figure who decides all this stuff that the self-proclaimed righteous want to portray.


  12. Amen, Friar John. All this "oh look at poor, pitiful, persecuted me" stuff wears pretty thin after a few years.

    While I have some compassion for Bob Duncan at this time (despite deposition being entirely his own fault), I did have to laugh at the picture of his empty chair on the Diocese of Ptsbg. website....can they add a little more drama to this situation?

  13. Here's an idea:

    How about the eleven clergy and over 2,000 members of the litigating Virginia churches sign a petition to depose Bishop Schori for conduct unbecoming, and for teaching innovations not approved by this Church. Add the people of the Diocese of Ft. Worth. How about Christ Church, Savannah. All told there would be at least 5,000 signatures and at least 10 bishops would sign on to that.

    Even if the stack of signatures and evidence were presented, it will never fly to the level of even being taken seriously by the HOB. That in itself shows who rules the roost and who yanks the chains in TEC. Ask Peter Lee whose pectoral chain got yanked hard when he tried to reconcile in Virginia and have an amicable departure for the eleven churches and the diocese. 815 stepped in and told him to change course, and he did. Good Bishop Lee. Stays a bishop. The case is being lost in court, but the power was preserved. Bad Bob Duncan. Got people to thinking. He's out.

    Yep. Justice is grand...as long as you get to define it and control it.

  14. The law suits are protecting people who are being victimized by lying thieves.

    Oh really? And what people are these lawsuits protecting, exactly? Will they feel "protected" if TEC wins its case then discovers it must sell these houses of worship because they cannot be maintained with only a fraction of their membership in tact? Why will these people not be able to continue to worship in the same churches, under the same leadership, who hold the same beliefs they always have, simply because they have aligned themselves to a different province? No, this isn't about protecting anyone -- at least, not from TEC's end. In the end, this is desecration -- taking holy places and houses of worship, and turning them into assets and silver.

    But I wouldn't worry, good "Frair" John. No one expects grace from the Episcopal Church. Certainly not after this canonically questionable, seemingly mean-spirited, and ridiculously ineffectual deposition. (The only thing it seems to accomplish is to further alienate the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and give more ammunition to dissenters. Well done!)

  15. Jim,

    What is interesting is that the vote to depose occurred WITHout the requirement of inhibition first. Just moved past it slick as wind, didn't they? The PB couldn't get the three senior bishops to consent to inhibition, so no trouble. Just ignore the requirement. Bishop Lee of Virginia didn't consent to inhibition. He also didn't vote to depose Bp. Duncan yesterday. You'll remember that Bishop Lee was manhandled by 815 (PB and DBB) when he tried to let his 11 churches leave with some peace in an amicable separation. Shortly after, it looks like this first of three senior bishops got a rotten taste in his mouth and he started to see things differently at 815. He hasn't been a lock-step supporter of the PB since. Such a reality was no obstacle, as few in the HOB could even remember (much more support) their own rules on the requirement to inhibit before deposing. What a scene of whipped purple they are when they don't even follow the rules they made up for themselves!

    Words mean what I say they mean..(Humpty Dumpty)
    ..and canons can be abridged when needed. What do we need the advice and consent of the Three Senior Bishops for anyway?

  16. Allen:

    I betcha I could get 5k signatures here in Oregon alone supporting the PB, without breaking a sweat. Then we'll be in a tie.

    Oh, well. Guess we'll just have to have a service-off to break the tie.

    Never heard of a service-off? What are the EYM teaching these days! Service-offs involve two parishes, wherein they 'race' to see who can rack up the most people served free food, the most sick folks visited in the hospital, the most mourners consoled, the most clothing distributed, the most prisoners visited, the most hugs given to crying children.


  17. Phil said, "The question is whether we should be reformed to align with the world and its values, as ECUSA essentially teaches. . . ."

    You mean values like scholarship, evidence, FACTS?

    Theological arguments are evidence-free: opinion against opinion, tradition against tradition. But we live in a world of facts. The scriptures were written at some point by somebody -- we don't know exactly when or by whom, but studying the evidence casts light on the authority these writings have been given. The scriptures are innocent of history (though some historical facts can be found in them), biological knowledge, physics, geology. It makes no sense to take them as authorities in these areas, much less as the final word.

    The earth is not flat, disease is not caused by demons, humankind is not male OR female but something along a spectrum. Gay people exist and, with increasing visibility, are paring off and becoming functioning parts of society. Authority and tradition that denies such things discredits itself. Unfortunately, the church that accepts them discredits its past embrace of evidence-free teaching, and its future is in doubt. But the future will come, whether or not the church structures find a way to participate.

    Murdoch Matthew
    spouse of Garydasein

  18. Murdoch Matthew, in a sense, yes, that is what I mean. After all – if I could add to your list – people don’t rise from the dead, demons aren’t cast out of people to then cause a herd of swine to throw itself in the ocean, blind men’s eyes aren’t opened with spittle and clay, most respectable physicists believe the world came into being with no help from a fake deity, thank you, and virgins don’t magically give birth to God-Men.

    Pedophiles, polygamists and serial sexual adventurers of the type found on college campuses also exist, with increasing visibility, and many of them really have no problem with behaving as they do. In the case of pedophiles, the recidivism rate is so high, we might even say the tendency is deeply inborn.

    So the Church that preaches the list in my first paragraph and rejects the anything-goes ethos exemplified in the second discredits itself in your eyes: a message of foolishness and a stumbling block to those of the world. Got it. I think I read that somewhere else a long time ago.

  19. This thread is, in the main, to weep.

    If the facts favor you, argue the facts.
    If the law favors you, argue the law.

    If neither favors you, link TEC with "Pedophiles, polygamists and serial sexual adventurers"

    Lord have mercy!

  20. taking holy places and houses of worship

    No. Preserving them for those who own them: those who wish to stay loyal to the Church of God and not go down some ill advised adventure born of heresy and Arminian Congregationalism.

    And Allen, the inhibition is not a requirement. It is a possibility while waiting for the House to vote.

  21. Phil digs in deeper: "Pedophiles, polygamists and serial sexual adventurers of the type found on college campuses also exist, with increasing visibility, and many of them really have no problem with behaving as they do."

    I talked about the gay people who, escaping the secret societies and ghettos where they've hidden from a disparaging society and a condemning church, are pairing off and contributing to the larger community. I had a "problem" behaving as a heterosexual through eighteen years of marriage to a good woman; when we gave up the effort and I joined a church organization of gay people, it was like being born again, a great blast of freedom to live as I was made to live. Of course, my experience made nonsense of the advice church and therapy gave me in the 1960s. They concealed what they knew, gave me conventional wisdom, and ignored evidence and experience.

    Phil's list of stigmatized situations, offered reasonably and with an implied smile, is hurtful, as I suppose it is meant to be. He disregards the constructive same-sex relationships all around him and equates them with destructive practices. (He left out alcoholism, which probably is genetic, but drinking eventually destroys the liver so it has to be curtailed. Moralists have hoped that AIDS could be presented as the fatal weakness of gay life, but they ignore the swath cut through heterosexual practitioners by syphilis and other venereal diseases.)

    Why argue? Polygamy is what the scriptures know as Traditional Marriage. We're against it now, we weren't always. College professors are notorious for failing to resist the allures of their young charges. Some of these liaisons prove lasting, but relationships between authority figures and underlings are always suspect (even when one is the 14th Bishop of New York). What does this have to do with stable same-sex relationships, except that Phil is against them?

    I resent having my experience and my relationship (25 years with a good man) sneered at and lumped with abuse of children. So Phil's barbs hit their mark. Ouch. But as people in general come to know gay and lesbian people as couples and fellow citizens, the prejudice and opprobrium are falling away. And the church and the bigots clinging to its evidence-free authority are coming to seem irrelevant.

    Murdoch, husband of Gary

  22. Many of us believe that the so-called "orthodox" are captives of their culture, or rather, their subculture, that of the affluent, white, suburban reactionary.

    Anyone who doubts me need only take a look at T19 or SFIF or VO, where one could easily get the impression that God is an Austrian School economist and George W. Bush is His personal representative on Earth.

    (We won't even get into the great zeal with which the "orthodox" have taken up the innovation of serial polygamy. It's embarrassing even to think about such brazen, shameless hypocrisy.)

    It really is time to drop the notion that one side of this dispute is a captive to the culture while the other is holding to the hard faith.

  23. Unworthy, Phil.

    Unworthy of you and of the God you claim to follow.

    This is your love? This is your God? Pedophiles, polygamists and serial sexual adventurers of the type found on college campuses also exist. . . and yet you claim to have listened?

    This is your witness - God is fiat, God is merely a dictator with more power than most. No one should want anything to do with the God you proclaim!

    I do not believe you know this is what you're preaching, so I tell you.

    You want us to believe you act in love, stop talking about it and act in love! If you believe you are truly on the side of God, and we are not, take into account that you - and your compatriots here - are making enemies for God because of what you preach. If there is love in it, show it in ways we can understand, if you can't, stop blaming others for your failing at the Great Commission.

  24. Mark (and Murdoch),

    The original argument advanced by Murdoch was that, "we live in a world of facts." Stated in a way that appeared to be intended as self-conclusive, he gave us as one of those facts, "Gay people exist and, with increasing visibility, are pairing off ..." And, furthermore, "Authority and tradition that denies such things discredits itself." Do you see? Gay people exist, and they therefore must be affirmed. To do otherwise is to demonstrate, ipso facto, ignorance.

    All I've pointed out is that other groups of people exist, which aren't (yet) generally accepted by society - and, I see, you're unwilling to extend the logic. But it remains your logic: I'm only pointing it out, so the outrage should be directed elsewhere. In any case, it deliberately misses the point that the Church speaks to gay behavior, not "gay people."

    By the way, I notice you've both ignored the point of my first paragraph, namely, that by worshiping science and "facts" as the last word, you falsify Christianity.

  25. Phil,

    I do not accept that from you, nor will I give you the freebie you're asking for.

    You've been around sites like this and know what those words would mean to us. You knew full well. It doesn't matter what you meant, it matters what effect your words would have. You have insulted everyone here with the first post, and made it clear that our feelings on the insult are of absolutely no consequence to you in your second.

    Grow up. Take responsibility for the message you are giving.

  26. “. . . by worshiping science and "facts" as the last word, you falsify Christianity.” –Phil

    “Falsifiability (or "refutability") is the logical possibility that an assertion can be shown false by an observation or a physical experiment. That something is ‘falsifiable’ does not mean it is false; rather, that if it is false, then this can be shown by observation or experiment.” –Wikipedia

    Christianity is a story. There is no way, at this late date, to prove it true or false. It can only be told, and interpretations differ. I like versions that promote justice, compassion, mindfulness -- versions used to claim authority and exclude others, not so much.

    No, facts or science aren't the last word. They're necessary checks on the human tendency to go for story above all else.

    Thank you for drawing your line, Mark. It means more from you than from stray commenters.

    Murdoch, spouse of Gary

  27. mark

    I've sat on my "falsifiable" comment for several days. Don't post it if you think it's overkill, or prolonging an unpleasant thread unnecessarily. Your comment actually ties things up sufficiently. It's just that, as a retired editor, Phil's misuse of the term kept bugging me. Cheers, Murdoch

  28. Murdoch - as you're a retired editor, I suggest you consult the dictionary and not Wikipedia: falsify = 1) to prove or declare false : disprove
    2: to make false. (Merriam Webster)


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.