9/26/2010

No Good Words Go Unpunished...

On September 18th I wrote a short note concerning the election of Dan Martins in Springfield. Aside from leaving off the "s" in Martins, I opened up an opportunity for lively and mostly polite debate about consenting to his election. To date there have been 66 comments, which is pretty good here at Preludium.

From The Living Church
This week I was informed (since I don't get The Living Church) that TLC has invoked my opinion that "I hope he receives the necessary consents quickly.  He will support those efforts he believes will serve the church in the future and I believe he will be a good pastor to the people of Springfield and the church." This opinion was coupled with the notation that the author is the "Rev. Mark Harris, a member of Executive Council and prominent critic of Windsor’s vision of reform..." and included a cutout of the Preludium banner and the article.

The article unfortunately gets a bit giddy about it all. In the first place, while I don't deny being a critic of the Windsor Report, it is not because of its "vision of reform." There is no such vision. 

It is because the Windsor Report has become an idol, not a report, and the final resting place for any hope of an Anglican Communion being in any way something other than a continuation of a peculiar church madness - the madness of believing that Christ centered authority lies in determining the basis of shunning.  

In the second place, while I am a member of Executive Council my opinion on this matter has nothing to do with my serving there.  I think I liked "prominent critic," better.

I am also a bit unsettled by the editorial comment that applauds "the election of “a wonderfully erudite gentle person,” in another of Harris’s phrases,  who at the same time stands opposed to the Episcopal Church’s present drift away from mutual responsibility and interdependence — the concrete vocation of communion — in the body of Christ."  

The notion that TEC is involved in a drift away from mutual responsibility and interdependence - the concrete vocation of communion - in the body of Christ" is TLC's own editorial voice (and perhaps Bishop elect Martins) and is just plain wrong. 

The Living Church may be happy that Martins has been elected. Well and good. But the gushing doesn't help. 

Let there be no doubt. Bishop-elect Martins will be in opposition to much of what many of us believe is necessary in the church. He is not trusted by many. He is dangerously close at times to the walk-away crowd. But I stand by what I wrote, "Bishop elect Dan Martins and I probably don't agree about much having to do with ecclesial politics, and sometimes even good ol theology, but we do both love The Episcopal Church and want it to both prosper and be true to the Gospel."

Springfield gets to elect from a broad spectrum (although the final candidates did not seem to represent much of that breadth) and it elected Martins. So long as he loves The Episcopal Church even when he hates what it is doing, so long as he remembers that he is bishop in the Church of God but holds license only in the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield and so long as he can put up with those of us who represent all that he thinks is wrongheaded in the Church, for that long he has my support. (Not that that support means much.)  If he should forget that he is bound by the Constitution and Canons, and by license, support will be harder to find. 

Some who have commented believe that under no circumstances should Fr. Martins become bishop. These are people who have been stung badly by bishops who wandered off to South America and other ports of call.  But I believe it is possible for someone to become a bishop in this church who thinks what The Episcopal Church is doing is wrongheaded or mean hearted. Loyalty is not the same as agreement.  Loyal opposition is still an option worth keeping, although (as I know from past experience) it is not an easy vocation. 

A further note: The Living Church article also lists what it considers a sound list of attributes for any bishop.  It's a pretty good list. Perhaps there will be a wider posting of that somewhere that can be copied.

1 comment:

  1. Until General Convention can adopt a canon (a) providing for the summary deposition (subject to reinstatement on a case-by-case basis) of all clergy in any diocese that purports to qualify its "unqualified accession to the Constitution and Canons of this Church" and (b) providing for recognition of a loyal successor to such dioceses, I see no reason to consent to the election of Fr. Martins or anyone with a similar background.

    He may well become a loyal Episcopal bishop. But he may well become a Chapman bishop instead. We need to reduce the price and likelihood of the latter before undertaking the risk.

    ReplyDelete

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