7/21/2009

I've just got to get a letter to you....

Well the Archbishop of Canterbury seems to have a full mail box these days. Reminds me of the ol Bee Gees song:




First the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies wrote the ABC concerning D025 - the resolution concerning episcopal elections.

They reassured the ABC that B033 was not rescinded, rather it returned to the place it belonged, the conscience of the individual bishop and the standing committees. They in turn were to be guided by the experience of this Church, the Constitution and Canons, their understanding of the requirements for holy living, and our common life with others in the Communion.

That letter can be read about and accessed HERE.

Now it appears they have also written concerning C056. It can be read about and accessed HERE.

Both these letters are efforts to inform the Archbishop of Canterbury that what we have done is place the matter of decision making where it must finally be placed, in the conscience of bishops, the General Convention, the clergy and laity, as they each participate in the life of the Church.

These letters are important contributions to the ongoing efforts to inform the wider church of the work we do in relation to the call for justice, mercy and faithfulness. Read them.

And by now we may assume that the ABC, or at least his office, has received a letter sent from Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America and deposed bishop of Pittsburgh to the Anglican Communion. Archbishop Duncan makes the case for the great duality... the forces of good and evil. Here is what he says,

"Two Cities: One Choice

An Open Letter to the Anglican Communion

Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There are times in the history of God’s people when the prevailing values and behaviors of those then in control of rival cities symbolizes a choice to be made by all of God’s people. For Anglicans such a moment has certainly arrived. The cities symbolizing the present choice are Bedford, Texas, and Anaheim, California. In the last month, the contrasting behaviors and values of the religious leaders who met in these two small cities made each a symbol of Anglicanism’s inescapable choice.

Jerusalem and Babylon come to mind as the Scriptural cities which are enduring symbols of choices to be made by God’s people, and of what can happen when God’s people make a choice for something other than God’s Way, God’s Truth, God’s Life, as set out in God’s Covenant, whether Old or New.

Charles Dickens contrasts London and Paris in the last quarter of the 18th Century in his Tale of Two Cities. Both cities are in crisis, but one operates from received values and behaviors, while the other attempts to re-make the world to its own revolutionary tastes.

St. Augustine of Hippo in his De Civitate Dei contrasts the City of God and the City of the World, explaining the fate of Rome in terms of the favor that comes from conforming to the behaviors and values of the Heavenly City as over against the Earthly City.

The Anglican Church in North America, whose leaders met at Bedford, Texas, from June 20th to June 25th, embraced the values and behaviors familiar to Christians in every age: daily repenting of human sin in disobeying the one Lord, embracing the need (both personal and corporate) of a divine Savior, and recommitting to the proclamation in word and deed of the gospel of transforming love. The unity at Bedford, despite very real differences, was palpable.

The Episcopal Church, whose leaders met at Anaheim, California, from July 8th to 17th, blessed the values and behaviors of a re-defined Christianity: enabling a revisionist anthropology, budgeting litigation rather than evangelism, and confusing received understandings of Scriptural truth, not least concerning the necessity of individual salvation in Christ Jesus. At Anaheim, there were those who valiantly stood against the revolutionary majority, and their pain and grief at what was happening was heartbreaking for all who saw it, not least for their brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church in North America.

The North American poet, Robert Frost, once wrote: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road less traveled by. That has made all the difference." For Anglican Christians, for the Instruments of Unity (Communion), for interdependent Provinces, for ordinary believers, there is a choice to be made. The choice is between two religions, two roads, two cities, two sets of conflicting values and behaviors. In Deuteronomy, chapter 30, Moses sets the choice as between blessing and curse, life and death. For contemporary Anglicanism the present choice is this stark.

I write this humbly and as a sinner. I also write it as one whose hope is in Christ alone, and with deepest love for all for whom He died and rose again.

Faithfully and Obediently,
The Most Reverend Robert William Duncan, D.D.
Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America
Anglican Bishop of Pittsburgh"

What Duncan has written is no surprise. But let us be clear: what he has written is that ACNA is, in his mind, an instrument of life, and The Episcopal Church is an instrument of death. ACNA a blessing and TEC a curse.

That precise statement of the duality and the identification of one church with blessing and life and Christ and the other with curse and death and no-Christ is what makes it impossible to consider a world wide Anglican Communion in which both TEC and ACNA are understood to be Provinces in North America.

The Archbishop of ACNA is setting an impossible stand and daring the Anglican Communion to buy on to it as righteousness.

He wrote the letter to thin air, as "An open letter to the Anglican Communion." It betrays a level of arrogance that is remarkable, even for the realignment community.

Perhaps it went to the dead letter box for thin air delivery. A letter to everybody is, after all, a letter to nobody.

12 comments:

  1. Mark+, they are discussing ABp Duncan's letter at Standfirm and many draw the same conclusion that you do: ABp Duncan is saying, "ACNA good, TEC bad."

    Admittedly, this is what I took from it on my first reading, too. But I reread it and I think the critical line is this: "For Anglican Christians, for the Instruments of Unity (Communion), for interdependent Provinces, for ordinary believers, there is a choice to be made."

    We have a gospel of faux-inclusivity, that denies personal salvation, that denies the unique salvific role of Jesus, that denies his atoning sacrifice versus the Gospel that Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer died for. People within and without the TEC and the ACNA need to choose life.

    Now you might not agree with that, but it is clear to me that this is not a slam against all TEC-ers and a high-five to all ACNA-ers.

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  2. Well and then there's this:

    http://edotnews.blogspot.com/2009/07/text-of-bishop-doyles-letter-to.html

    a texan

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  3. There is something quite spiritually exhausting about these repeated claims of humility in the context of profoundly damning statements.

    I'm left wondering if one person's heaven is another's hell and vice versa. But then, this seems to be precisely the bifurcated reality the archbishop of ACNA has embraced.

    I found Anaheim, and I find the Church, a great deal more complicated, and God's plan for all of us far more inscrutable and yet far more gracious than it seems Bob Duncan does. But then, perhaps he has a red phone and I do not?

    Mark, good to chat with you in Anaheim, albeit briefly!

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  4. The real story would be if Duncan ever shut up.

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  5. People within and without the TEC and the ACNA need to choose life.

    I agree. The problem is that "Archbishop" Duncan and Robroy have a different idea of what would constitute choosing life than I do. For me, the position taken by ACNA on what Robroy terms "faux-inclusivity" amounts to death; it amounts to there being no place for me in the Church... because I won't hate myself, won't deny who I am, won't submit to the rules and restrictions the "conservatives" consider essential. The piled up bodies of self-hating, despairing LGBT folks tell me that this is a death-dealing position. The Letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    Maybe Duncan and Robroy are right, and THEIR understanding really is what Christianity is. In that case, for me, to choose life would mean leaving Christianity (again and, probably, finally). Maybe that doesn't matter to Duncan and Robroy. I suppose their world would be easier without gay Christians in it.

    Yes, there is a choice to be made. LGBT Christians will have to make it. Will we stick with TEC and Anglicanism, or will we decide that we've had enough of being a "problem" and seek a less stressful home where our lives can flourish?

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  6. Hell would be having to spend any time with Bob Duncan - here or after.

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  7. Like WilliamK, the choice for me is TEC just as I am or nothing. I am nearly 50 years old and no longer have the time for hating myself, denying who or what I am, and trying to make others comfortable with what they means.

    I am trusting that Jesus meant what he said in the gospel of John when he claimed that no one could come to him unless the father drew them to him. I am drawn as I am and feel no compulsion, no need, no guilt about changing myself other than striving to do God's will in loving God and loving my neighbor. As a gay person. Period.

    I do not have any desire to be in communion with Bob Duncan or the people who share his views in this life although I will pray for them and trust that the God who loves them as much as me will take care of them. What happens in the next life is up to God and I am comfortable in that trust I have in God.

    Reasserters, conservatives, orthodox, et al, please leave that between me and God, since you are so concerned about "personal salvation" let my salvation be personal between me and God. OK?

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  8. Religion has become self-parodic. Atheists and agnostics merely need to show up and take pictures and record the sounds made.

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  9. The problem is that "Archbishop" Duncan and Robroy have a different idea of what would constitute choosing life than I do.

    Indeed. I've explained many times why they're position is death. I've even posted the whole explanation at my own blog. I've explained it to our misguided bishop and lay delegates. I know I must be right - they can never give a coherent answer!

    But, as for Duncan . . . please. He's just sad. Most five year olds don't need that much attention.

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  10. Just more moronic statements of a bishop with no standing, disloyal to his church, disloyal to his country. A citizen of an abstraction. A traitor without passport.

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  11. I don't believe I would fire off the same ad hominem insults at Bishop Duncan that he fires off at the rest of us. He can keep the Manichean "culture of life vs. culture of death" rhetoric. I would not call him "unchristian" or "apostate" as he so freely and frequently calls the rest of us. Nor would I go so far as to call him a traitor, even when he seems none too fond of his fellow Americans or his country.

    "Pompous self righteous pain the the tusch" should be sufficient.

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  12. Bishop Duncan's reading of poetry is as sloppy as his theology. The point of Frost's wry and satirical "The Road Not Taken" is that there is almost no difference between the roads; the narrator predicts that someday he will misrepresent the facts in order to provide a self-glorifying account of his life choices. Hmmm.

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