Dr. Ephraim Radner published a paper on the Anglican Communion Network, Inc site this week titled, "Lambeth Can Be What It Wants To Be." It is classic Radner –detailed, clear in its passions, and (once the brambles are cleared away) helpful. It has provoked considerable ire from the Stand Firm crowd. Matt Kennedy has written a response that is almost as long as the essay itself and yet another essay on possible scenarios. Stand Firm, which I confess I check out every day, is increasingly filled with carping and ill-tempered notices of the supposed foibles of the progressive and or middle of the road folk. Kennedy's comments, however, cut deeper, for he is criticizing not some unworthy dupe who finds The Episcopal Church to be a spiritual gift in his increasing age, but a younger man of some esteem in the realignment crowd. So it has been interesting to watch the reaction from the so called "orthodox" community to Radner's essay .
I am disappointed that there is not more comment from progressives, for Radner is on one level arguing for the presence of everyone at the Lambeth Conference precisely so that the struggles there can be more and more the outward and visible sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit at work slogging through the minds of the bishops towards some expression of the mind of Christ. Radner is quite right to point out that there are no guarantees that any meeting of bishops will be anything more than just a meeting. What gives councils their authority is not their membership, not their words along, and certainly not the political use to which the words are put, but something more, the acceptance of this or that statement it makes as increasingly informative by the whole church. (Think, for example about how the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral has taken on added value over the years.)
Having read the article several times my sense is Radner is on to something we ought all to hear out. I have many more things to say about his essay, but I cannot bear to write them now. (How is that for inverse use of last Sunday's Gospel?)
So, instead, I got to thinking about Scriptural quotations. Radner uses some in his essay. Unlike those used in the Draft Anglican Covenant these are germane and fairly specific to his case.
I wondered, are there Scriptural references that support the notion that everybody ought to be invited to church councils and more specifically to the Lambeth Conference, including the people you consider ecclesial rascals?
Here are several candidates for such entries:
Scriptural reasons for inviting all the Bishops to Lambeth:
Matthew 13: 24 – 30 He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he replied, 'No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.' "
Matthew 13:47-50 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Rev 22:11- 12 Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy." "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done."
Matthew 11:28 - 30 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
The first three of these have to do with Jesus' observation that the end of time is the occasion for separating out the good from the bad. Now, they are mixed together. (This of course cuts many ways – as many as there are oppositional folk.) But the point is, give it a rest: there are no meetings of the pure this side of Paradise.
The fourth is the argument from the burdens we carry. We are burdened down by our own sin and the sins of others. Unfortunately in church circles a lot of emphasis is put on the burden of other's sins. There seem to be some who believe that the burden of our Presiding Bishop is too great to bear, or the burden of our bishops' affirmation of Bishop Robinson's election is too much to bear. So Lambeth gets to be a hard thing to bear as well. Well, maybe this saying of Jesus is suggesting that bishops put their burdens down, leave their luggage at the door, and skip on out light as a feather to meet each other on the mountain top for a meal far sweeter than the weariness of the struggles below.
So…there are some scriptural quotes to the positive… I am sure there are negative ones as well.
What scriptural quotes would you use to support all bishops, active and not retired, who are members of the House of Bishops of their own Province coming to Lambeth. What would you cite against the widest possible invitation?
For purposes of this exercise, only New Testament quotes; and you get three points for those attributed to Jesus, two for Paul and one for everybody else.