"40 Days of Discernment”: a Sham.

The sometime Rector of Truro, now a bishop in the Church of Nigeria, has said that Truro parish has undertaken a study and prayer time called “40 Days of Discernment,” after which the church will decide what to do about its affiliation with the Episcopal Church. This “40 Days of Discernment” turns out to be a program with an extensive study guide produced by The Falls Church and Truro Church of the Diocese of Virginia. It was made available on the web in the past few days.

It claims to be “dedicated to helping Episcopal congregations and their clergy answer an important question: Can orthodox, biblically committed congregations continue to remain affiliated with The Episcopal Church in the U.S.; or has the time come to seek alternative affiliation with some other branch of Anglicanism?”

From the outset the answer for this “discernment” program is clear. “The Anglican Communion is straining to uphold its understanding of Scripture and doctrine and to hold the Communion together in unity. If TEC has walked apart and the two visions of our church are irreconcilable—the questions that motivate us to set aside these 40 days of discernment—then, like Joshua several millennia ago, we must choose now whom we will serve.”

We are back to the “choose now whom we will serve” gambit of the Anglican Communion Network.

At the end of the study, there are three scenarios offered : “(1) conformity, (2) staying to resist, and (3) affiliate with another branch of Anglicanism. We encourage participants in the discernment process to carefully and prayerfully consider for themselves what they think the effect of each alternative would be.” The study guide is clear that each option has its strengths and weaknesses and it tries to give an honest assessment of the costs of any one of them. The tenor of the whole, however, is that affiliation with another branch of Anglicanism is the preferred option.

The Guide for “40 Days of Discernment” is well written, so well written in fact that it almost fools the reader into believing that it is a dispassionate argument concerning options available to a congregation. But its purpose is to help congregations already considering leaving the Episcopal Church to do so. It is not to help congregations stay.

Perhaps it is unnecessary to suggest that it is self serving for the future ministry of Bishop Minns, since one of the places to go is to CANA, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. (By the way, I could not help noticing that The Living Church in its September 24th issue decided that Bishop Minns was bishop to “The Church of Anglican Nigerians in America.” This is an entirely new name for CANA.. it is not the name on the web pages for CANA, nor is it the name given by the Church of Nigeria, Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in Americas when it was first announced. I presume it is simply an error on the part of TLC.)

This “discernment” process is targeted to bring people to believe that the only real choice of conscience is to move on from membership in the Episcopal Church. Perhaps this assessment sounds harsh. It is not. This is not a discernment process, it is an argumentative, apologetic process, the purpose of which is to confirm the worst fears about the Episcopal Church (that we are heresy ridden, pagan, sexual perverts and biblical unbelievers – see the “understanding the crisis” section.

There is no discernment here. Here there is the yell of “fire” accompanied by directions to the exit. No one suggests any possibility that the yell at the beginning was perhaps exaggerated, and that the smell was only that of a lit cigar.

As is attributed to Freud, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”


  1. And, you, sir, similarly refuse to entertain the notion that there is a fire and not just a cigar. Which events in the timeline given in your last hyperlink are presented in error?

  2. It is the real deal, Mark. Please pray for us.

  3. Regarding that list Mark linked to, those people sure are obsessed with homosexuality! It's doubtful that homosexuals spend half as much time thinking about homosexuality as these people do.

    It's time to stop playing games with the puritans. Depose Minns now. Announce to Truro and Falls Church that they are perfectly free to leave The Episcopal Church if they like but they are not allowed to loot it on their way out. Depose the Nutwork bishops, declare their sees vacant, and appoint actual Episcopalians to head those dioceses.

    Enough is enough.

  4. Mark,

    Help me out, are the violations of scripture these folks are upset about the ones enumerated in the Old Testament, principally found in the judicial and purity codes of the Pharisees? As I understand it the only laws God handed down were the 10 Commandments of the OT and the two commandments in the NT that Jesus gave to his followers. Yes? No? If that's so then as I see it the people upset about homosexuality and the Bible are complaining about conduct which applied to the people of Israel 2000 or so years ago. Why does it follow that the same rules apply in a different context to a different people in a different millenia? How can it be reasonable to think that all that applied then still applies now?

  5. I had a similar thought about the list of events in the last hyperlink as Phil, but with a different question. I also had to think about what those events might mean.

    Where, in the discussion of what it might mean to be an Episcopalian, are the three sources of authority of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason, however that last might be understood? Where is the reflection on Bishop Jefferts Schori's comment that Paul said, "Truly in every people God has provided for himself a witness?" Where in that long gap between Reformation and Bishop Pike are the reflections of the Church in Lambeth and in theological writings of receiving and reflecting theologically on new learning from the sciences?

    For those of us who believe that those are also essential Anglican questions, this way of describing the history does indeed prejudice the decision. As the saying goes, "If your only tool is a hammer, every problem can look like a nail."

  6. Richard III,

    Help me out. Under your logic, the church should approve and bless polygamous or polyamorous relationships. Yes? No? Because, it seems that any notion of committed monogamy really applied to the people of Israel 2000 or so years ago. It certainly is an archaic notion in our highly sophisticated and morally superior context. Many in our society are here to prove that love can be beautifully expressed in one-to-many, or even many-to-many, ways. I don’t see how it is our place to express the bigotry of disapproving of how such people are ordered.

  7. I wish Pope Benedict XVI's recent lecture given at Regensburg University were available in English translation. He elaborated on the theme 'scripture and reason', noting that John 1:1 links the two (Gk. LOGOS meaning both 'word' and 'reason'). The two are always seen as complementary and in tension with each other. Viewing 'reason' as subordinate to 'word' is, so said His Holiness, departing from the NT standard and submitting to 'islamic fundamentalism'.

  8. >>>Because, it seems that any notion of committed monogamy really applied to the people of Israel 2000 or so years ago.

    The Israelites of 2,000 years ago did practice polygamy.

  9. anonymous -- you mean THIS lecture given at Regensburg?


  10. babyblue:

    The real deal of a "Shall we, or shall we not, stop beating our wives?" framing? Give me a break!

    [You are, of course, in my prayers though...]

    And speaking of breaks: Phil, TEC should answer your ridiculous hypotheticals IF and ONLY IF committed Episcopalians actually SEEK such a blessing, for such relationships! (I see ZERO evidence of same)

    Until then, such hypotheticals are only "weapons of mass distraction" from the faithful, committed, monogamous LGBT Episcopalians who actually DO seek blessings. Enough w/ the smokescreens already!

    The choice is what it's ALWAYS been: agree w/ TEC's majority, disagree w/ TEC's majority (Guess what? There's another GC in '09!), or pick up your feet and leave---just like ++Akinola said! (Having left, if you want Minns for your bishop, I care not...)

  11. Richard III:

    Perhaps this post is now old news and no one is reading comments anymore. But just in case--

    You say "Help me out" with regard to which "violations of scripture these folks are upset about."

    It is set out at pages 4-7 of:



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.