Skip to comments.Gay Advocacy Group: We'd Rather Walk Apart
Posted on 03/01/2005 1:08:58 PM PST by sionnsar
Oasis California, the California chapter of the Episcopal gay advocacy group Oasis, has rejected the Primates' call for moratoria on same-sex blessings and ordination to the episcopacy of non-celibate homosexuals.
"We utterly reject the notion of a moratorium on the blessing of same-sex unions as incompatible with our experience of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of same-sex couples, the biblical command to love God and neighbor, and our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being," the Oasis Board stated in responding to the Anglican Primates' Communiqué.I spoke with Oasis California spokesman Thomas C. Jackson on the telephone, and after a lengthy conversation he declined to indicate any scenario in which Oasis would support either moratorium.
This leads, naturally, to speculation as to whether the leading Episcopal gay advocacy group - Integrity - will also refuse to proceed under the terms of the Windsor Report as requested under the Dromantine Communique. And, a careful reading of the Oasis statement, which contains this:
"We are mindful that our bishop has announced his retirement and called for the election of his successor," the Oasis Board continued. "We support the Diocesan Standing Committees commitment to follow the procedure for an episcopal election as set forth in church law, and its refusal to discriminate against any qualified clergy who might be nominated in the course of the search process."...might make one wonder what the Diocese of California has in mind for its next annual council.
Press release is here. Statement is here.
If you're not checking in on Sed Contra regularly, you should. David Morrison, a gay Catholic trying to live a chaste life, and author of the book "Beyond Gay," has this to say about the Dromantine Communique's request that ECUSA and Canada make their case before the Anglican Consultative Council:
Now I wouldn't mind being a fly on the wall when it came to that explanation. I wonder if the other Primates will be able to ask questions, such as where in scripture or Christian tradition the ECUSA and the Canadian Anglicans got the notion that sodomy was not a sin? And will the answer begin; well you see we really don't believe that stuff in the bible and the creed....
OK. Fine with me. They might as well get used to it. Eternity lasts quite a bit longer than homosexual relationships and there aren't any air conditioned spots in Hell.
Integrity? Qualified? Dignity? I guess God must not discriminate against unrepentant sinners now? How He must laugh at the arrogance of all of this.
There will be no reconciliation.
And the bishops who head up the American churches will be in possession, without oversight, of a vast treasury of wealth accumulated over the centuries...wealth which they will put to use supporting the religious-homosexual agenda.
Why bother really trying to reconcile with a bunch of closed-minded poor Africans when all you have to do is stay the course and then you run your own ship, without oversight, in direct command of $10 billion?
Discriminate only means to distinguish or differentiate. By using terms like integrity and qualified they are discriminating.
The entire Bible is about discriminating between right and wrong behavior. The idea that we should not discriminate in this context is ludicrous. And desire is not enough to make an act moral. If it were then theft and deception would be moral behaviors.
These people seek to turn the gospel of Christ into a license for immorality (see Jude).
"I believe God does discriminate between good and evil."
Oh, I suppose He does, but not between good and evil people, at least not in this life. It is terribly wrong to say that God "punishes" except perhaps in a pedagogical way. The Fathers teach that at the Final Judgment we are "judged" not on our good deeds or bad, but rather on how much like God we have become. The Bible and Holy Tradition set out for us the proper way to theosis, to become like God. Certain practices are beneficial and tend to advance us in a process of dying to the self. Others, like sodomy and adultery, turn us away from God, focus us on our physical selves, blind the eye of the soul and cut us off from God. In such a state of isolation from God we embrace evil, scorn good and die. Not because God wants that, not because He punishes us, not because He is the author of evil for us but rather because we chose darkness over light, death over eternal life.
Herein lies the great evil of the ECUSA heresy. It is not Christian, it is purely pagan, pagan to a level probably not seen since about the 5th century. Man and his desires have become the measure of spirituality. The drive for "self realization" has replaced the desire for theosis. But is dangerously pagan (something the West is very prone to) to ascribe to God, Who is Ineffable, emotions or reactions more proper to a manmade Zeus or Jupiter.
This is not to say that ECUSA should be allowed to continue to infect the Anglican Christian Communion with its paganism, nor should it be allowed to hold itself out as a constituent member of the third largest Christian Communion on earth. The longer it remains, the more souls will be turned from God both here in North America and frankly around the world. But don't be tricked into making God in your image. That's what the pagans are doing.
Here are three of many examples when He did just that in this life.
OT: Sodom & Gomorrah; The Flood
NT: Annanias and Sapphira
Our deeds matter, and God is watching. You are right that God provides for the evil and the good alike and that He is longsuffering, waiting for all who will to repent. But He does now, and will more so on Judgment Day, discriminate between good and evil deeds -- and punish the people who do the evil acts. The acts themselves are merely free will expressions of the heart of the individual that acts. There is really no separating the individual from responsibity for how he acts. The person and his deeds are one in the same.
The when of God's judgment is beside the point. All I was saying is that all we do/say/think will fall under His judgment. That means God discriminates between good and evil acts (which are not separate entities different from the people who do them). There is forgiveness for those who repent and have faith, but without the blood of the Lamb covering ones sins, God will punish the doers of evil.
Jesus came to free us from sin, not to excuse us of sin. These people are distorting the gospel and God will have no problem discriminating between them and His true followers on Judgment Day.
Excellent post. Well said.
"God is good, dispassionate, and immutable. Now someone who thinks it reasonable and true to affirm that God does not change, may well ask how, in that case, it is possible to speak of God as rejoicing over those who are good and showing mercy to those who honor Him, and as turning away from the wicked and being angry with sinners. To this it must be answered that God neither rejoices nor grows angry, for to rejoice and to be offended are passions; nor is He won over by the gifts of those who honor Him, for that would mean He is swayed by pleasure. It is not right that the Divinity feel pleasure or displeasure from human conditions. He is good, and He only bestows blessings and never does harm, remaining always the same. We men, on the other hand, if we remain good through resembling God, are united to Him, but if we become evil through not resembling God, we are separated from Him. By living in holiness we cleave to God; but by becoming wicked we make Him our enemy. It is not that He grows angry with us in an arbitrary way, but it is our own sins that prevent God from shining within us and expose us to demons who torture us. And if through prayer and acts of compassion we gain release from our sins, this does not mean that we have won God over and made Him to change, but that through our actions and our turning to the Divinity, we have cured our wickedness and so once more have enjoyment of God's goodness. Thus to say that God turns away from the wicked is like saying that the sun hides itself from the blind." The Philokalia, Chap. 150.
"Here are three of many examples when He did just that in this life. OT: Sodom & Gomorrah; The Flood NT: Annanias and Sapphira"
The examples you cite are instances of what the Fathers called pedagogical punishment and were imposed to stop the spread of evil and not to "punish" those who died. or so the Fathers taught. St Isaac the Syrian in his Homily 73 said:
"He who applies pedagogical punishments in order to give health, is punishing with love, but he who is looking for vengeance, is devoid of love. God punishes with love, not defending Himself far be it but He wants to heal His image, and He does not keep His wrath for long. This way of love is the way of uprightness, and it does not change with passion to a defense. A man who is just and wise is like God because he never chastises a man in revenge for wickedness, but only in order to correct him or that others be afraid."
I understand where your beliefs come from. I am not condemning them, but you should understand that they are particularly Western. I suspect the Fathers would declare the ECUSA heretics anathema and remove them from the Church for the good of the Church and the heretics themselves, but they would pray for their repentance unceasingly.
You see, this is precisely what God calls them to do. It is hard, but by turning to God and prayerfully struggling to avoid sin and repent, they will become Free and like God. God calls all of us to, in that particularly Western turn of phrase, "pick up our crosses and follow Him."
Perhaps my reading of this is skewed by my western faith upbringing, but this sounds an awful lot like "works..." How is it that our actions and our turning to the Divinity "cures" our wickedness, when it is by grace that we are saved through faith?
As I wrote earlier, the Fathers taught that it was not what we did in our lives, the evil acts or the good deeds which will be weighed out in the balance at the Final Judgment, but rather how much like God we have become. If I were to pray unceasingly, attend the Divine Liturgy everyday, give alms to the poor, lock myself up in a hermitage and eat dirt and bugs for the rest of my life, nevertheless I would never attain salvation unless by the grace of God I died to the self and became "divinized" (not, most definitely, deified!). As St. Symeon the New Theologian wrote in his Discourses:
"In the future life the Christian is not examined if he has renounced the whole world for Christ's love, or if he has distributed his riches to the poor or if he fasted or kept vigil or prayed, or if he wept and lamented for his sins, or if he has done any other good in this life, but he is examined attentively if he has any similitude with Christ, as a son does with his father."
God's uncreated energies of Love, what the West calls grace, fall on all of us equally. Because we are created with Free Will and are prone to sin (actually it may be better to say "prone to miss the mark" since that is what the Greek word "amartia" actually means), our only hope of theosis is God's grace which impels us to focus on God and not the self, because in the end, our theosis, salvation if you will, depends entirely on our acceptance of God's Love. St. Peter the Damascene wrote:
"We all receive God's blessings equally. But some of us, receiving God's fire, that is, His word, become soft like beeswax, while the others like clay become hard as stone. And if we do not want Him, He does not force any of us, but like the sun He sends His rays and illuminates the whole world, and he who wants to see Him, sees Him, whereas the one who does not want to see Him, is not forced by Him. And no one is responsible for this privation of light except the one who does not want to have it.
God created the sun and the eye. Man is free to receive the sun's light or not. The same is true here. God sends the light of knowledge like rays to all, but He also gave us faith like an eye. The one who wants to receive knowledge through faith, keeps it by his works, and so God gives him more willingness, knowledge, and power." (Philokalia, vol. 3)
It is not theosis, per se, which we attain by works. Theosis, becoming like God, is only by grace, but as the Father +Peter says, we keep it, to the extent we have have it, by works. In this sense, the Eastern Fathers stand opposed to any concept of an instant salvation or any sort of anti-lapsarian mindset nor at the same time do they ascribe to any notion of theosis through works. Does this help? I've been told this evening that I can seem rather obscure! :) There are probably others who could explain it better than I, but +Symeon the New Theologian and +Peter the Damascene say it pretty well, I think.
pharmamom, I've been struggling to understand this for a little while now. The very first answer is: yes, (y)our reading is not just influenced, but comes from a thoroughly different perspective or approach because of (y)our western faith upbringing. We have to take just about everything we know, throw it away, and start over in order to understand. We have to dump the legalism, the Western angle, and approach through mysticism, the Eastern angle.
I am going to explain this very badly (to begin with I am an engineer, not a theologian), based on what I read in Kolokotronis' posting, but I'm going to try to paint the difference anyway.
In both the East and West, men are apart from God and strive to approach Him. But in the West (here's where I begin to struggle) "grace" seems sometimes to be a package received at some point -- such as the instant of being "born again," for some Protestants. In the East, grace is being continually showered, but to receive it you must live in it, continually. Westerners pray for grace to be accepted by God, Easterners live in grace to draw closer to Him.
That's really a good way to speak about part of what I was saying. The goal however isn't to draw "close" of God, but rather to become like God. This is what we are called to be, actually. We increasingly focus our beings, body and soul on God through ascetical practices and the sacraments. That is why for us, our Faith is all consuming and defines us absolutely. Everything we do is or ought to be done in an "Orthodox manner". I can't explain this except to say that its like our Faith is part of every fiber of our beings, body and soul. After a trip to Greece one time, my formerly Congregationalist wife marveled that "The people walk Orthodox here!" For the layperson, we try to live in the world without being of the world.
St. Gregory Palamas, one of the greatest of the Eastern Fathers who expanded upon the apophatic theology of the Cappadocian Fathers and struggled mightily and successfully against the Neoplatonic theologians of the West, wrote this on grace and theosis which may further explain how we understand salvation:
"The grace of deification thus transcends nature, virtue and knowledge, and (as St. Maximus says) `all these things are inferior to it.' Every virtue and imitation of God on our part indeed prepares those who practice them for divine union, but the mysterious union itself is effected by grace. It is through grace that `the entire Divinity comes to dwell in fullness in those deemed worthy,' and all the saints in their entire being dwell in God, receiving God in His wholeness, and gaining no other reward for their ascent to Him than God Himself." The Triads
You mean that particular "Western turn of phrase" that's in Matthew, Mark and Luke?
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