Mark Lawrence and His Answers

The man elected to be bishop in South Carolina answered a variety of questions posed to him by some Bishops and Standing Committees, ending with a question he seemed to put there himself. These were posted on Thinking Anglicans today (December 4), although the date for the letter November 6th.

I have to begin by saying I thought some of Mark Lawrence’s response were spirited. I can understand why folks think highly of him.

I didn’t like is the answers themselves. Too often they sidestep the questions raised, and in the end he works at heaping scorn on his accusers.

Some who I respect greatly believe Mark Lawrence should get the consents of Bishops and Standing Committees. I am unmoved. I think Fr. Lawrence is finding every pot hole and hitting it as hard as possible. This will result in broken axels and broken hearts. Prayers for him, the diocese, and all those who must decide on consent are in order.

Read the whole of his responses HERE.

His letter, to which his responses are appended, is as follows:

6 November 2006
William Temple

Dear Bishops and Standing Committee Members:

Thank you for affording me this opportunity to respond to your concerns, particularly regarding my suitability as a colleague in the House of Bishops. I know you are aware of the profound theological differences within The Episcopal Church in this year of 2006. There is little hope that it will cease to be a continuously expanding perimeter in the near future. The question for each of us is at what point we reach the place where our Episcopalian or Anglican commitment to comprehen-siveness for the sake of the truth exhausts its elasticity. For me that was with the consent to Canon Robinson’ election at the General Convention in 2003. I was a deputy at that convention, serving on the Consecration of Bishops committee. When our committee voted to send his election to the House of Deputies for approval I felt constrained to write the minority report opposing the committee’s recommendation. As today is the observation of Archbishop William Temple in our calendar, I cannot resist mentioning a statement of this wonderful theologian that now seems prescient for our times and influenced my position in Minneapolis. “The Church must be very clear in her public pronouncements so she may be very pastoral in her application.” I thought we were being anything but clear in our decision in 2003 and it has carried over into GC 2006. From this involvement in the committee on Consecration of Bishops you can see I am no stranger to this matter of consent and for what it may raise in issues of conscience, as well as process. I certainly hope you chose to support the consent process of South Carolina’s election. But I understand that these are less than pacific times in the life of our dear and distinguished Church.

I have loved and served this Church of ours over the last thirty plus years, even when I have found her incorrigibly frustrating. When I have spoken or written critically of her it has not been from a posture of having rejected TEC, but from one of commitment, even investment of my life and my family’s life in the Church’s common call to serve our Lord. We have sacrificed much for this Church, as I’m sure each of you has over many years. I believe it is symptomatic of these times, that I who have adhered for 26 years to my ordination vows am now peppered with requests for me to affirm in advance my commitment “…to the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the Episcopal Church…” partially from a misleading article and letter written by a group which presents itself, wrongly enough, under the noble and historic phrase, Via Media. None of us can predict where the angle of repose for this period of profound re-formation will settle. You will find here my answers to questions presented by other concerned bishops. Hopefully they will provide you what you need to make an informed decision. We are each called to be players in it — you and I — regardless of how this consent process for me unfolds. I wish you God’s blessings whichever way you are led to decide, whether for or against me. May we remain united in Christ and servants in his Kingdom and his Church.

The Very Reverend Mark J. Lawrence

I also strongly suggest you read the full responses he makes to the questions raised. You will do greater justice to his remarks by reading them than by reading my few notes below.

Here, however, are some odd bits of his thinking that give me pause (my comments in italics.)

1. In what ways will you work to keep the Diocese of South Carolina in The Episcopal Church?

…I just happen to be someone who does not believe that our discipline, as articulated in our Constitution and Canons, came to us by oracular revelation…
I shall commit myself to work at least as hard at keeping the Diocese of South Carolina in The Episcopal Church, as my sister and brother bishops work at keeping The Episcopal Church in covenanted relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Meaning, I suppose, given his sense that we have disregarded the relationship with the other churches of the Anglican Communion, not at all… By the way, bishop elect Lawrence, I don’t believe our discipline came by oracular revelation either. Nobody does.

2. What would be your response if the convention of the Diocese of South Carolina voted to leave The Episcopal Church?

I don’t think that speculative questions of this nature as to what a person will do in some imagined future are either reasonable or helpful.

This is known in impolite company as a cop out.

3. Will the Presiding Bishop be welcome to preside at your consecration?
This would be a most unwelcome situation for the vast majority of priests and laypersons of the Diocese of South Carolina...

What he means is NO.

4. Do you intend to participate fully in attending meetings of the House of Bishops, including Eucharist?

Yes, unless the in participating in Eucharist on some given occasion, (because of the state of my inner life or conscience), should put my spiritual health in jeopardy.

This is an amazingly confused understanding of the Eucharist. Participating fully in the Eucharist does not require reception of communion, say for example, when you believe yourself not to be prepared. But taking part in the prayers, offering thanks and hearing the Word are seldom occasions that put one's spiritual health in jeopardy. More, he didn’t answer the other part of the question, which is occasioned by the scandal of bishops who only attend part of the meetings as a witness to their objection to the work of the house.

5. What is your response to the request of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina seeking “alternative primatial oversight”?
… I’m in favor of some new and prescient thinking about the way the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion lives out our unity in Christ. There is no going back to pre-2003. Time to chart a path for the future. … The way the world works has changed and so should we. I hope we in The Episcopal Church can catch up.

So, he is for APO, on the way to a new future… what might that be, in the light of the Global South Steering Committee’s press for unity and submission to their leadership?

6. Do you recognize Katherine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and as your Primate?
I recognize Katherine Jefferts Schori as the legitimately elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Sadly, I also recognize that her actions …compromise her ability to function in primatial authority and relationship. …

This is a NO.

7. Will you uphold the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the Episcopal Church as now constituted?

Yes, as I have for the last twenty-six plus years of ordained ministry! …… all Episcopalians may at some point in the not too distant future be asked to declare allegiance to one portion of the Constitution and Canons at the expense of another. Frankly, this is because in more than a few highly publicized actions, bishops and priests of this Church have acted contrary to the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the Episcopal Church.

Sure, every bit as much as anyone else has done so. This is a bit flat, isn't it?

8. Some further thoughts regarding our present predicament in The Episcopal Church.

… The questions that bishops and Standing Committees keep posing to me, in one form or another—and I might add, contrary to rumors, most of which have answered—go back to the question of whether South Carolina and I are leaving The Episcopal Church. That is neither the most relevant nor, ultimately, the most important question that needs to be asked.

… My friends, we in TEC are in a grievous state. This demand for promises to Constitution and Canons when many of the great teachings of the faith are up for grabs strikes me at times like a theatre of the absurd. … When some like me make provocative statements to draw attention to the culture of denial that dims with regularity our too frequently myopic provincial eyesight, I am seen by some as unworthy for the episcopate and as a threat to our common unity. On what grounds should consent be denied—for daring to say, “Not only does the emperor have no clothes, but he isn't getting any new subjects either, and some of those he had once have long left. Maybe its time the emperor reassess his reassessments”?

This question seems not to be part of the rest, but put there by the bishop elect. So asking about conformity to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church is absurd. I suppose so. The end of all this is a ridicule of those who would as any questions at all. Not such a good idea.


  1. Mark,

    Here's my take, in agreement, I believe, with yours:

    There is a great deal of material there. Mark Lawrence is clearly not given to glib answers, which I find initially impressive. (More conservative bloggers have fallen into calling this "Episcobabble," but it seems that even their favorites are not immune.) I am thankfully not entrusted with the weighty decision of approving his consecration and investiture. That duty belongs to our current bishops with jurisdiction and our diocesan standing committees. But among some of my puzzlements stemming from his writing, there are two concerns that surfaced immediately:

    He writes:

    "I too am a member of a diocese that has asked for Alternative Primatial Oversight. . ."

    Yes, namely The Diocese of San Joaquin, which just took a first vote overwhelmingly in favor of effectively seceding from the Episcopal Church. I cannot help but wonder how Mark Lawrence voted.

    He avoids answering the hypothetical question #2 -- one asking simply if he would support The Diocese of South Carolina if they voted to secede -- by hedging against a "future crisis that could send any of us into a conundrum of canonical contradictions." The future is now, I'd say.

    He writes elsewhere:

    "I also recognize that [Katharine Jefferts Schori's] actions as bishop of Nevada in condoning same sex blessings, for which she has expressed no regret, put her in violation of the Windsor Report and, consequently, compromise her ability to function in primatial authority and relationship."

    As part of a lengthy justification for marginalizing the new Presiding Bishop in a place where he may end up having jurisdiction, Mark Lawrence appeals to her "violation of the Windsor Report." Canons can be violated. So can constitutions. But I'm not sure the Windsor Report can be. It was not handed down as a prescription to be followed to the letter, nor was it given authority over this or any other constituent province of the Communion. It was a starting point for discussion amongst the instruments of unity -- and it has already been taken very seriously by this Church -- as the tears and heartache around the pained B033 at last General Convention testify. Must it also be enshrined as canonically significant?

    Mark Lawrence's claim that our Presiding Bishop is somehow incapacitated by her "violation" is just as specious (not to mention slightly presumptuous -- does he speak on behalf of the Primates?) as appealing to the WR as a precedence for "Alternative Primatial Oversight" -- a phrase that never appears even once in the lengthy document.

    Mark Lawrence acknowledges that Katharine Jefferts Schori was duly elected as our Presiding Bishop. Just like Bishop Schofield of San Joaquin, ML+ was granted his priesthood and license to function as an ordained member in the Episcopal Church by the same set of canons that contain provisions granting ++KJS her authority. To bar the PB on the one hand and approving of appeals to extra-canonical authority on the other (namely, the other Primates for APO, who have no direct canonical authority in this Province of the Communion) does not express to me a willingness to fully engage in the unity of The Episcopal Church -- something that, as bishop, he would be called upon to safeguard.

    It might be convenient to dismiss the polity of canons and constitutionality on biblical grounds. He seems to argue elsewhere in this apologetic that liberals have done the same (I agree, although the canons were subsequently brought into line through due process at General Convention.) But where Mark Lawrence seems to be flagging is that the canons and constitution exist not to hold the church back from innovation, whether "progressive" or "traditionalist." Note how San Joaquin, Quincy, and Fort Worth have continued for over thirty years to bar women from priesthood: a canonical violation, but tacitly respected out of pastoral consideration from GC and the House of Bishops. Rather, the constitution and canons are there to set the boundaries of our common life most precisely when we are in conflict. Like right now. . . So that we keep a common life by "fighting fair", i.e. threats of divorce are kept off the table (as in any healthy marriage -- an analogy that Mark Lawrence appeals to). . .a common life that seeks to safeguard unity, even when we strongly disagree. . .a common life as the Body of Christ expressed in our core sacramental practices of Communion and Baptism, and yes, around Scripture, as heated as our differing interpretations and understandings may get.

    The more I consider Mark Lawrence's writing, the more I understand the dis-ease many have with the thought of his becoming bishop in The Episcopal Church.

    May our Bishops and Standing Committees pray deeply over this decision.
    My prayers are with them. My best one remains: "May God's will be done. . ." in this and in many difficult matters facing our common life at present.

  2. Now that he's been given the chance to clarify, he makes it clear that he has no intention of upholding his vows. The consent should be denied.

  3. We permitted the diocese of New Hampshire to elect a markedly controversial Bishop. I see no reason why the diocese of South Carolina should not be permitted to do the same.

    In the end, the approval of these two very different Bishops turns on the same question: Should the members of a diocese be permitted to determine, in their own hearts and minds, which leaders best represent their own convictions? By framing the question this way--as a matter of democratic/electral legitimacy and not as a matter of doctrinal correctness, that is--we can avoid the head-on confrontation between church factions, and possibly even avoid schism.

    -Kory A. Langhofer

  4. I'm glad he was (at least somewhat) honest, despite a heapin' helpin' of the conservative variety of "Episcobabble." It's now perfectly obvious this man has no business being a bishop in TEC...

  5. Look, he'll be consecrated Bishop of South Carolina one way or another - the hard way or the easy way; with ECUSA looking like hypocritical bullies (again) or not.

  6. The standing committees and bishops have been invested with authority to give or withhold consent by the community and for the good of the community. There is nothing "bullying" about withholding consent from a man who shows no intention of keeping his vows as a bishop of the Episcopal Church. ECUSA is not a them, it is a we. The standing committees and bishops are acting as the representatives of the Episcopal Church, of which we all are members. By withholding consent, they will protect the interests of faithful Episcopalians in South Carolina, who deserve a bishop who will uphold the Constitution and Canons.

    The bullying comes in when no priest who will do this is allowed to be nominated.

  7. "the hard way or the easy way" Phil

    I'm fine with the "hard way"...it's been a very "hard way" for Bishop Robinson and millions of other LGBT Christians who traditionally have let you bamboozle your way through our lives with your scoffing while preening.

  8. Ah, that word faithful again - with a very narrow and defined view of what faithfulness entails. Presumably Bill it was only the non-faithful episcopalians that elected Lawrence?

    I guess over the coming months we are going to see a number of 'Recifes' in the US as the increasingly intolerant tolerant exert their authority.

    The only thing left seem to be the use of canon law as a weapon to oust those you disagree with and dislike.

    Really, it does appear you are turning into the thing you purport to hate. Leonardo expresses the venom quite well.

  9. Bill: ditto to Peter. The faithful Episcopalians of South Carolina actually got to vote on this one, and they have chosen the bishop they want.

    Maybe you're right, and Mark Lawrence intends to lead the charge to bolt ECUSA; in that case, maybe there's an 80% probability the diocese separates. On the other hand, if something so foolish and reckless as denying consent were to happen, the diocese leaving is a virtual certainty. Maybe you don't like either choice, but that's life. Do you take 80% or 98%+ in your duty to protect the so-called "faithful" Episcopalians?

    Those of you on the Left that are retailing this idea apparently have no idea how destructive and incendiary of an action it would be. Although GC03 showed heeding warnings to not be your strong suit, I’ll try again: don’t do it.

  10. Peter,

    Is defining "faithful" as a simple willingness to stay in the community of The Episcopal Church, despite our disagreements, really all that narrow? Between a less than helpful answer regarding the potential for SC seceding and his clear willingness to continue the marginalization of our new Presiding Bishop, I'm not convinced Mark Lawrence+ has clearly demonstrated that sort of faithfulness in what he's written. That he comes from a diocese that just took a first vote towards schism makes that doubt all the more pressing.

    Putting the shoe on the other foot, had +Gene Robinson been as unclear about his desire to remain at table with those whom he most disagrees, I think there should have been serious hesitation in consenting. For the record, he was very clear about his desire to remain in community with his detractors.

    I do not mean to impugn ML+'s Christian faith or the faith of our sisters and brothers in South Carolina. They seem to have followed canonical procedures faithfully, which is the primary hurdle.

    But our Bishops and Standing Committees must also consider whether or not ML+ will safeguard the unity of the House of Bishops and the national church, if he is consecrated. He has not helped them with this letter, in my view.

    The potential fallout if they do not give consent makes their decision all the more difficult.

  11. "Those of you on the Left that are retailing this idea apparently have no idea how destructive and incendiary of an action it would be. Although GC03 showed heeding warnings to not be your strong suit, I’ll try again: don’t do it." Phil

    Please don't THREATEN us anymore with your overstarched/stretched puritan backward idealism...just do "openly" what you "plot" secretly to do for a change...see Champman Memo for refresher/reminder of your true nature!

  12. Peter, Phil: Faithful Episcopalians? I think that's an interesting question. Certainly, they are faithful in worship and prayer. They are faithful to "the breaking of bread and the prayers." I question whether they are faithful to the Christian faith as The Episcopal Church has received and relayed it in decisions that, as has been observed, didn't simply start with 2003 but have been consistent in tenor, if evolving in detail, for at least half a century.

    Please note that I was specific: "the Christian faith as The Episcopal Church has received and relayed it." The folks in South Carolina are faithful perhaps as Christians without being faithful to the faith as received and relayed by The Episcopal Church. A Southern Baptist moved by liturgy may worship faithfully in an Episcopal church. If he remains a Southern Baptist in his ecclesiology (how the Church should be structured) and in his soteriology (holding specifically and exclusively to substitutionary atonement), is he a "faithful Episcopalian," however faithful he is in worship? If he hears the Baptismal Covenant, and hears the call "to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving neighbor as self," and embraces only those neighbors who fit in comfortably, is he a faithful Episcopalian?

    If the same majority elected Fr. Lawrence is the majority that has embraced alliance with another primate, outside The Episcopal Church, then perhaps they are not "faithful Episcoplians," however faithful they may be to the best of their understanding as Christians.

  13. Anonymous said...
    We permitted the diocese of New Hampshire to elect a markedly controversial Bishop. I see no reason why the diocese of South Carolina should not be permitted to do the same.

    In the end, the approval of these two very different Bishops turns on the same question: Should the members of a diocese be permitted to determine, in their own hearts and minds, which leaders best represent their own convictions?

    The answer is yes but the key difference between these two men is that one has every intention of working at undermining and destroying TEC at the expense of the majority of people in it who don't agree with him and the other one who has worked at being a force for reconciliation and acceptance of all of God's children - rather than being divisive and reactionary.

  14. "Easy Way" - create a separate province for "conservatives," provide it with leadership from a source outside the institutions of TEC and preserve the possiblity of future unification.
    "Hard Way" - force "conservatives" to choose between TEC and an Anglican identity linked with foreign bishops and watch TEC get booted from the Communion and/or see the AC implode.
    Leonardo rejoices in the "hard way." I hope he gets what he says he wants but for entirely different reasons. TEC is dead and it just needs the good sense to realize it and lay down.

  15. R and Marshall,

    Well I guess it's certainly helpful to define faithfulness. From my point of view faithfulness to Christ is a higher order than faithfulness to a Christian church. I'm hoping you can agree with that.

    The question pointed out then is whether the two are in conflict? I assume you would think they are not. People like Phil and I would argue that they are. As you Marshall:

    I question whether they are faithful to the Christian faith as The Episcopal Church has received and relayed it in decisions that, as has been observed, didn't simply start with 2003 but have been consistent in tenor, if evolving in detail, for at least half a century.

    The very thing I guess you think is good is the very thing that we do not (we can argue the specifics, but I think as an overall statement this is true).

    So please understand that the consistant use of 'faithfulness' in this narrow way of denoting faithfulness to a particular church only, and by extension labelling us as 'unfaithful' comes across as offensive and divisive.

    Oh no, I feel a blog post coming on :-)

  16. Peter:

    I acknowledge the accuracy of your statement that, "The very thing I guess you think is good is the very thing that we do not (we can argue the specifics, but I think as an overall statement this is true)."

    But I hope you didn't understand me to say you were not faithful to Christ as you understand your calling. I didn't say that about you or about Fr. Lawrence or about people attending Episcopal churches in South Carolina.

    Important to my point is that none since the First Century has come to faith in Christ except "as received" from someone, within some tradition. I would hope that it is possible to be a faithful Christian without being Roman Catholic or a member of one of the Churches of Christ (non-instrumental). It is entirely possible to be a faithful Christian, and to disagree with another faithful Christian, who received the faith a little differently.

    The faith as received by "the whole Church" is an eschatological hope. It has not been our experience within creation since the Apostles started spreading out. The Vincentian Canon was a matter of hope and not fact even as St. Vincent pronounced it. Now, like many aspects of eschatological hope - for example, pursuing service to and justice for "the least of these," as stated by the prophets and confirmed by Christ - we are called to pursue communion while we wait to see it in fullness.

    So, not knowing you personally, my assumption is that you are a faithful Christian, working within the faith as you have received it. I assume the same for Fr. Lawrence, but question, based on his own words, whether what he has received is in line with what The Episcopal Church has received. That won't make a difference before Christ, but it does have some relevance to his service within The Episcopal Church.

    I'll check in and look forward to your blog post.

  17. Peter,

    Yes, I can agree with your statement about faithfulness.

    To that end, there is a humility in what the Bishops and Steering Committees are doing. They are not reviewing Mark Lawrence's faith in Jesus Christ, short of his adherence to the very basic tenants Episcopalians (and many Anglicans) hold in common: scriptural authority (while we may disagree on what that means), the historic creeds, the apostolic heritage (recognizing the authority of bishops as played out in diverse contexts), and the two foundational sacraments of baptism and communion, i.e., the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. Short of any clear violation of those (I don't see any), Mark Lawrence's faith in Jesus Christ is not at issue here.

    But there is a more narrow standard when it comes to being consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church, and that is a willingness to guard the unity of this branch of the church.

    So, yes, we are talking more narrowly about faithfulness, now that I understand better what you meant. But narrower in a more "humbler" sense. It's not that I or anyone else but ML+ needs to worry about the state of his immortal soul.

    It's that I and, it seems, others worry about the integrity of this part of the Body of Christ, which, when wounded by schism, affects our ability to engage in the higher calling of our shared mission in the Gospel.

    Which brings me full circle back to ++Katharine Jefferts Schori's responses to the actions taken last Saturday in San Joaquin.

  18. Hi Marshall,

    No, I don't think you are saying that I and others are unfaithful as Christians.

    However, others seems to be using it in just that way. I noted Bp Schori's rather one-sided prayer recently. The implication is made that we are 'unfaithful'. The other implication is that faithfulness is defined in terms of our loyalty to the current interpretations of the canons of TEC (or in my case, ACC).

  19. Richard III-

    I take your point in regards to my comment above. What I was trying to say, perhaps inartfully, was that we should describe the standing committees' consent to Bishop Robinson's investiture as an act of deference to New Hampshire's democratic choice--not as any sort of endorsement or allignment with New Hampshire's ideas. If the debate were recast in these terms, the stakes of the current dispute would be much lower and there would be less reason for schism.

    That said, you're correct in point out the difference between (1) a Bishop-elect with controversial theology who is committed to Episcopal unity, and (2) a Bishop-elect bent on splintering the Episcopal Church.

    -Kory A. Langhofer

  20. I recall there were protests at the time of +Jack Leo Iker's consecration. I don't know how many bishops and standing committees withheld their consent at that time.
    Nevertheless, PB Browning proceeded with +Iker's consecration. Soon thereafter +Jack Leo was in "impaired communion" even with his chief-consecrator and, later, his successors, PBs Griswold and Schori.

    How many more bishops does TEC want to consecrate who are in "impaired communion" with the majority of the HoB, while advocating border-crossings by the Primates of their own choice?

    A line has to be drawn. This nonsense has to stop!

    John Henry

  21. Kory, it seems to me that Bishop 1) has in effect become Bishop 2). The difference is rather moot.

    John, yes, perhaps the 'line' will be drawn. I'd reinterate what Phil said though - there would be nothing that would precipitate the final schism quicker. Perhaps that's for the best, I don't know...

  22. I don't know if Fr. Lawrence intends to lead South Carolina out of ECUSA. The fact that he won't rule out the possibility is what's disturbing.

    By faithful Episcopalians, I meant those who in the event of a schism will remain faithful to the Episcopal Church. The bishop of the Episcopal Bishop of South Carolina needs to be on their side. Fr. Lawrence has given us much reason to think he won't be and therefore the bishops and standing committees should play their appropriate canonical role and deny consent.

    The good shepherd does not run away when wolves come in among the flock. Bishops always fall short of Jesus, the only Good Shepherd, but they are called to stand against the wolves and thieves.

    I remain in favor of negotiated settlements on property lawsuits.

    But the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has to be someone who is committed to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church and who can make an unqualified commitment to the Constitution and Canons. Fr. Lawrence can't make that unqualified commitment and consent should therefore be denied, just as it should have been with Bishop Iker.

  23. "I hope he gets what he says he wants but for entirely different reasons. TEC is dead and it just needs the good sense to realize it and lay down." Anonymous (no doubt about it)

    Anonymous Dearest,

    I think you're going to have to break out of your comfy/cowardly closet if you wish to be part of the REALLY fun planned puritanical takeover/plot and Witch burnings festival at Spittlefied, Texas.

    Trying to drive stakes through the souls of your LGBT Episcopalian/Anglican brothers and sisters in Christ requires lots of passionate extreme and twisted thinking/believers and enthusiastic helpers like you.

    Not-to-worry Anon, it should be a "gas" to meet you and your gang of yellow polyester clad hooded accomplices at the "shower" line as you shave our heads gleefully.

    I promise to have the "good sense" to know exactly what you are doing as you "lay me and TEC down" to die in the poisoned yet "mercy-filled" sleep of your own happy design.

  24. Whether Mark Lawrence is saying that he is going work to leave TEC or not depends on how generous one is in reading his letter. It looks to me like ML+ is saying that he will work within the system of TEC, although he is not happy with TEC's positions on today's controversial points. Future developments within the broader Communion could lead him to remove himself and his diocese from TEC, but if this is in response to the AC removing TEC from active membership in the ACC, the Lambeth Conference, and the Primates' meeting, I wouldn't much blame him. After all, if we are banned from participating in the instruments of unity, it may be accurate to say that we aren't really Anglican anymore other than in a historical sense. The more interesting question at the moment is whether he would be willing to go along with the Primatial Vicar scheme to see how well that can work. After all, working within that plan it would make sense for the PB to not do his consecration, but he wouldn't be following the line of San Joaquin out of TEC.


  25. The Bishop-elect proposes a pre-nupt rather than a vow -- consents should be withheld -- if Network diocesans consecrate him uncanonically, the various sees should be declared vacant since all participants will have disobeyed their vows (note that at the creation of AMiA, several American bishops were present to indicate their support, but they did not participate in the service -- obviously they knew it would mean "abandoning this communion").

  26. Is there a witch burning coming up? really? and then some kind of stake driving thing? Cool! I don't have the yellow thing just yet. But I'll work on it.

    Where does that silliness lead any of us?

  27. "Where does that silliness lead any of us?" Orthodox

    To remind some of "us" of 2000+ years of the fear/hate driven absurdity, incomprehensible demoralization/damnation, descrimination and bigotry that has been leveled against LGBT people and Heterosexual Women by righteous "thinking" cloaked (some hooded) folk!


    It depends who you know or have loved that has been murdered as a result of a "hate crime."

    I don't laugh at hate mongering especially if it is preached from the pulpit and I'm not willing to play pretend!

  28. Jon said: "Whether Mark Lawrence is saying that he is going work to leave TEC or not depends on how generous one is in reading his letter. It looks to me like ML+ is saying that he will work within the system of TEC, although he is not happy with TEC's positions on today's controversial points."

    I say: I don't read it that way. I read it that he is not going to work within the system unless they give in to his demands. When he says something like "I'll work as hard as ECUSA works to stay in the AC," he means that ECUSA isn't doing anything to stay in the AC, so I'll do nothing to stay in ECUSA.


  29. The requirement to read his earlier statements charitably was met when he was offered this chance for clarification. The letter clearly hedges, where an unqualified affirmation that he will under no circumstances join SC in schism was what was called for. Fr. Lawrence is an experienced priest and an intelligent man. If he wanted to reassure the bishops and standing committees he had the ability to do so. He failed. Deny consent.

  30. Leonardo
    You must have forgotten the rest of the plot that includes torture before the head shaving (or does that come after?). I now know the origin of the term "drama queen."

  31. The key question for determining if he will work within the system of TEC is his answer to whether he will fully participate in meetings of the HoB. His answer is short enough I'll quote it here in its entirity.

    ML: "Yes, unless the in participating in Eucharist on some given occasion, (because of the state of my inner life or conscience), should put my spiritual health in jeopardy."

    This answer is direct with only one, limited proviso. A charitable reading of this answer indicates that ML+ will fully participate in the HoB on all the different issues they cover. It is true that he may not attend every Eucharist they do, but the only causes for him to do so that he identifies are internal, not as a way of protesting the actions of the house.

    It is probably worth noting that the Diocese of South Carolina, where he was elected, is deeply conservative. Every consension he makes to the liberal wing of TEC or to the official structures of TEC makes his job as Bishop of South Carolina exponentially harder.

    It is also probably worth noting that once a Covenant is developed for the concideration of the provinces of the AC, all hell could break loose within the AC (and almost certainly will if there is anything like a 50/50 split between those who approve it and those reject it).


  32. Some are saying it would be inconsistent to disapprove as bishop Mark Lawrence while having approved Gene Robinson. Not really. (1) Gene Robinson served as a priest and canon for an extended time although he disagreed with official policy about inclusion of gays and lesbians. He never expressed an intent to leave the Church not did he fail to uphold the canons. (2)The consent provision has its analogy in the way the U.S. Senate gives consent to the President in the selection of justices for the courts. Consent should not be denied except for compelling reasons. (3) Some who voted to consent for Bishop Robinson said they did so primarily to uphold the right of New Hampshire to select their own bishop. But the overwhelming majority believed that he fulfilled the "marks of holiness" that define one acceptable for this office. Mark Lawrence is sincere and appealing to his followers but he does not meet the basic definition for a bishop in the Episcopal Church.

  33. "Leonardo
    You must have forgotten the rest of the plot that includes torture before the head shaving (or does that come after?). I now know the origin of the term "drama queen." anonymous

    Anon, you apparently ignore or dismiss 2000+ years of continous discrimination, violence and hate directed against LGBT and Heterosexual women as innocent behavior:


    Yep, there is lots of ongoing silly/insane DRAMA directed against LGBT Christians whom you call "queens"...do you also name the children of LGBT people "hooligans" or think LGBT people are "lower than pigs?"

    You, Mark Lawrence and Peter Akinola seem "selective" Christian "thinkers" to me. You all get terribly giddy when REAL moral issues get closer to making you face the TRUTH about sordid beliefs.

  34. Honestly, when he was elected I had hoped his consents would have been denied.

    After reading what he wrote, I'm not so sure.

    Obviously he's way to the Right, but so are the good folks who elected him. They also elected the 'best' choice, in my estimation.

    I don't read him as saying that he's bolting for the door.

    I think there should be some grace here.

    I also think such grace would be appreciated across the Communion, and could be an olive brance in this very, very messy business we are calling 'church' these days.

  35. Sorry to disappoint you, Leonardo, but I don't think you are lower than pigs. However, I do think you revel in your "victimhood." It makes no difference. I don't take responsibility for what some monk did in Spain during the Inquisition nor will your whining determine how the AC or indeed most of Christendom deal with how to understand and apply God's Word regarding same sex relationships.

  36. "However, I do think you revel in your "victimhood." Anonymous

    Anonymous Dearest,

    Do you mind if I call you "Non?"

    It was my Jose who was the victim of a brutal hate crime/execution that left him dead with bullets in his head. Not-to-worry, brave anonymous, he was only another little hate crime statistic, tsk,tsk, that was probably caused at its root by simple fear/hate mongering and a "silly" intollerance generated against another LGBT "abomination" via preaching at Christendom.

    Did you know, Non, that many murders have been committed by extremist Christian lunatics and that many of those victims have been innocent Christians just like my dear Jose?

    It's a good thing you're not accepting blame for any of this kind of down-through-the ages hatefilled stupidity/bigotry ugly stuff...you obviously know what is right and what is wrong, sinful and not...I tickled "pink" that you are responsible/confident as to what you're morally responsible for.

    Personally, I REVEL in the fact that I'm still alive and have never felt intimidated by the thugs (+religious+ or not/responsible or not) of any stripe.

    Thanks be to God for another fearless day!

  37. Sorry for your loss. And sorry that there are hateful, cruel, nasty people in the world. But not everyone wrestling with the theology of inclusion should be lumped together. It's not fair, and not, IMHO, in the best interest of further conversation. Once you've suggested that I might wish to do violence, real or spiritual to you, then I assume that we shouldn't talk.

  38. "I assume that we shouldn't talk" orthodox

    Yes, Orthodox, and I assume you will "walk."

    It's best for you, I guess, but remember what ++Katharine has said: "we will keep the door open and the light burning" should you have a change in your heart...we care about you.

  39. This post is interesting, on the one hand there is a reasonable discussion about the issue at hand, the consecration of Mark Lawrence going on about Christian faithfulness, Anglican tradition and faith, and ecclesial structures. On the other hand there is this emotionally charged, often illogical useless head butting going on between Ricardo and Anon. I don't have much to add to either discussion. I do think that Mark Lawrence should be consecrated, but more importantly, the discussion should be of the former type, not the latter.

  40. Phil, here's what you say:

    maybe there's an 80% probability the diocese separates. On the other hand, if something so foolish and reckless as denying consent were to happen, the diocese leaving is a virtual certainty.

    ...and here's what I read: "Maybe there's an 80% probability that pigs will sprout wings and fly (and rain pig-poop on you from the sky!). On the other hand if something [Phil disagrees with] were to happen, Flying Pigs is a virtual certainty."

    Can you UNDERSTAND my perception, Phil? That what you're . . . well, threatening seems utterly nonsensical to me, a (by God's grace) catholic Christian?

    The diocese (whether S.Carolina or San Joaquin, or Pittsburgh, or Fort Worth, et al) ISN'T going to leave. Like pigs sprouting wings and taking flight, it ain't a-gonna happen.*

    [As somebody said, "that's life."]

    I quote St. Sherlock Holmes ;-p : "when you remove the impossible, what remains, however improbable, must be the solution".

    We need to get to the improbable (yet possible) SOLUTIONS, Phil, and your citing 80-100% odds of the impossible isn't helping.

    [* Of course, many persons, lay and ordained, may yet leave TEC---but I pray God softens their hearts...]

  41. "On the other hand there is this emotionally charged, often illogical useless head butting going on between Ricardo and Anon"...St Whomever

    What do you perceive the "core" issue to be (and why) regarding Mark Lawrence and his answers?

  42. I believe the core issue to be Mark Lawrence's faithfulness to the Gospel as he has received it. That includes two parts. First, in priority, is his faithfulness to Christ and the revelation of God given in Him. Second, his faithfulness to the Anglican communion, the main tradition he is coming out of, where he received (presumably) the gospel, third, the episcopal church, the particular manifestation of the anglican 'species'.

    Now, as I understand Lawrence's reply, He has simply stated that the cannon's of the episcopal church as they are agree with him in that sense. It is a church, so Christ is first, it is in the AC, so communion with the the anglican communion constitutes it, it is ECUSA, so the form in which it is constituted is (duh) ecusa.

    He is essentially asked whether he will go with the Episcopal church or the anglican communion. His answer is essentially. I will first go with Christ, this leads to going with the Episcopal church in the anglican communion. There is no such thing as the episcopal church outside of the anglican communion, so if there is some sort of split, he will go with an entity (the anglican communion) rather than a non-entity (ECUSA if it removes itself or is removed from the communion).

    I don't think that questioning the authenticity of his vows makes any sense. If ECUSA is no longer part of the anglican communion, he is released from his vows because the thing he vowed 'allegience' to no longer exists.

    Beyond that, to take a differant tack, I see a controversial bishop elected by the due process of his diocese which knows his beliefs. For the house of bishops to deny his consecration would be A) a remarkably hypocritical move. As Gene Robinson was consecrated under identical circumstances. It may be argued that Robinson did not wish to split the communion or leave the church. But the fact is, his consecration has more damage to the Anglican communion AND the Episcopal church than anything in history. B) To confirm the view of many conservatives in the church (whom the bishops say they are reaching out to) that they are in fact and in practice, second citizens in ECUSA. They are 'watched' by 815, their decisions are perhaps denied, they are threatened by bishops, and their properties are taken even when they don't try and leave ECUSA. That does not sound like the door is left open and the light is left on, denying lawrence's confirmation will (ironically) confirm this fear (perhaps paranoia) on the conservative side.

    I apologize that that is not systematically set out, hopefully it is clear enough.

  43. "...hopefully it is clear enough."

    Your perceptions are very clear.

  44. Part B of standtheolstud's most recent post is probably exactly correct. They're paranoid enough without the broader church striking down their decisions. I am disinclined to think that TEC could be said to no longer exist if it's removed from the AC. That removal would profoundly alter the identity of both TEC and the AC, however, and God only knows how it would shake out both in TEC and globally.



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.