Skip to comments.Still more from Robert Munday
Posted on 04/18/2005 10:21:03 AM PDT by sionnsar
[Continuing on from this post. --sionnsar]
Once again with Dr. Mundays kind permissionKSH
John, you responded to my citation of the Lambeth Conference of 1998, which in Resolution 1.10, reject[ed] homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture by saying Integrity has worked for years to change the biblical interpretation of the scriptures used to discriminate against homosexuals. This effort at changing the interpretation of Scripture is at the root of our disagreementwhich is a major disagreement because it is a divergence of theological worldviews.
By the way, Louie Crew does a fine job of documenting the push I was talking about in his article Changing the Church http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/gayhist.htm. In the very first sentence of the article, Louie touches on the real heart of the matter dividing Anglicans from each other when he mentions that women and lesbigays have organized to promote a more egalitarian and inclusive spirituality. Now egalitarian and inclusive are fine words; but what they stand for in this case is a spirituality that includes the efforts at changing the interpretation of Scripture, and it also includes the various efforts aimed at reimaging God, which goes hand in hand with the effort to legitimize same sex relationships as a part of radical, feminist and liberation theologies. Here I am using radical, not pejoratively, but in its literal sense of at the root. Those who embrace these theologies are bent on redefining Christianity at the root.
The issue is not merely one of sex or sexual behavior or expression. The issues of sexuality only serve as occasions for discovering how deep our theological differences really are. Elizabeth Kaeton made the point quite well in her message with the subject, the myth of common prayer (March 14, 2005) when she says: Not only do we have different ways of interpreting scripture, heres the truth of it, straight away: We do not worship the same images of God. Elizabeth gave a very good summary of the nature of our disagreement, and I hope she publishes it as an article. Elizabeth hits it right on the head: Lex orandi, lex credendithe law of prayer is the law of belief. We pray differently and so we believe differently. Just wait until we try to draft a new Prayer Book, and all this will become painfully apparent.
So the question is not whether Anglicans who are divided on issues of sexuality can achieve reconciliation or accommodate each other. It is whether people who pray to different images of God can co-exist in the same Church. Can people whose theological understanding comes from radical feminist and liberation theologies co-exist with people who adhere to historic evangelical and catholic theologies?
Finally, John, you ask the crucial question: I ask you this, is this issue big enough to destroy the EC? I think that is a question history is going to have to answer. I certainly dont advocate the destruction of the Episcopal Church, but I also dont see any way of reconciling two such disparate theological worldviews. The solution, if it is not to involve theological compromise, will have to involve political compromise, such as, but not limited to: (1) allowing the rest of the Communion to adjudicate which position they recognize as Anglican, (2) some sort of amicable divorce that respects both sides enough to include division of the property, pension fund, trust funds, and other assets, or (3) a form of alternative episcopal oversight that is deemed adequate by those who are requesting it and not merely by those who are allowing it (or, more to the point, NOT allowing it). And here I think Bishop Duncan is to be commended. If those on the liberal side had been as generous as Bishop Duncan has been in allowing DEPO, we wouldnt be watching the disintegration that is happening in many places.
One thing on which we all agree: Pray for the Church!
I expected no less, my friend. Allow me to explain this from an Anglican's perspective.
As I have said before, many in the Episcopal church were, and are, sheltered from much if not all of this. They focus on their immediate parish, the people they see every Sunday, considering even that other Episcopal parish across town to be so different for just the minutest reasons. For many, things further outside don't impinge much.
Kolokotronis, I am not making this up, I am not proposing a hypothesis -- I am speaking from personal experience. For about 28 years of my life as a cradle Episcopalian I was unaware of any real problem. In restrospect it is obvious but at the time it was not, and the little shudders and shakes that went through the grand ship called Mother Church were explained to us and life went on, albeit slightly differently every time.
In such an environment, awareness comes slowly if there is no one defining revelation. And remember, there are those trying to keep awareness from the rest. Thus we have Anglobabble and the avoidance of speaking straight through the issues. I strongly suspect you will not find those in the Global South, for example.
So when she says "heres the truth of it, straight away", she's pushing off the blinders. And so is he.
I think too that another part of the problem you mention is that a different, or looser, definition of "communion" has crept into the church -- perhaps pushed by those above, part of all what's keeping the blinders on, and many of these people haven't realized it. Yet.
Add that to the fact that being in (or wanting to) the world-wide Anglican Communion is just almost innate to Anglicans. To this cradle Episcopalian, leaving it was a very hard thing to do and it was years before I came to acceptance of the situation (but always, always, and always still, with hope that it will end someday).
But awareness is now growing rapidly. Somebody posted today that David Virtue says ECUSA is down to 800,000 membership, something like 1/5 what it was years ago. (Just yesterday, an Episcopal priest asked me if we'd been having any visitors from his church because there has been attrition -- I suspect he may not be far behind himself.)
Have patience, my friend, and watch.
Well said, my friend. No "sega, sega;" I am looking forward already to my chrismation. (Maybe I will invite you!)
I certainly understand what you are saying and believe what you have said to be true. Think about the implications of your comments. Episcopalians have been content to focus on the goings on of their own parish with little or no concern for the very different goings on, I assume either theological or liturgical, in the parish across town. To an Orthodox person, this is astonishing. We are and always have been intensely aware of the the goings on in the wider Church. Even in the ancient Church, every chrismated Christian felt an intense obligation to be informed of The Faith and to defend orthodoxy of both The Faith and its praxis everywhere. There are famous stories of travelers bringing back to the seat of a bishop or metropolitan or even patriarch stories of some heterodox practice having developed somewhere. With surprising speed given the times and the difficulties of communication, the local hierarch would be informed and the heterodox opinion or practice supressed. Of course, at other times heresy took root and it took decades to root it out, but that was usually on account of a heretical emperor supporting the heresy. Condemnation of the heresy, the proclamation of Anathema, was almost instantaneous. +Mark of Ephesus' efforts to overthrow the False Union of Florence in 1453 took almost no time at all, despite the fact that the Eastern hierarchy, except St. Mark, had accepted the same as had the Imperial government. +Mark rallied the lower clergy and the people, who took up the cry "Better the Sultan's turban than the Pope's mitre" and that, in short order, was that.
Orthodoxy has preserved The Faith precisely because we all, clergy, hierarchy and laity, serve as an orthodox theological and liturgical check on each other. I suppose we could be accused of being a Church composed of Torquemadas, but maybe that's a justifiable appellation. I've seen lower clergy and laity condemn an Archbishop, an Ethnarc, as un-Orthodox to his face in a diocesan council; within a few months, the Archbishop was gone, finished as an Orthodox hierarch though his support had been both broad and deep...and wrong. Neither the laity, nor the clergy nor his fellow hierarchs would remain in communion with him. His "superior", a Patriarch, faced the same threat had he not acted.
Is it possible that the insular nature of Episcopalian parishes is rooted in those compromises the Anglican Church made early in its history to accomodate heterodox belief and practice in the interests of political peace in England? If so, like virtually all the other compromises churches or ecclesial assemblies have made with the world, it has come back to bite ECUSA.
I think I might have mentioned somewhere along the way that in the early 1900s Orthodoxy and Anglicanism were very close and there was talk of a union of the two. Without much thought, Bishop St. Raphael of Brooklyn, the Orthodox hierarch in America at the time, issued an order allowing Orthodox people, in certain limited circumstances, to be ministered to by Episcopal priests. Apparently the Bishop was informed that his order was being either misrepresented or misinterpreted by Episcopal priests. In response he carefully reviewed Anglican theology, something apparently he hadn't done before and issued a new order reversing the first and resigning from the Anglican/Orthodox Union which had been established with an eye to uniting the Churches. His letter revoking the previous order is a good example of how Orthodoxy deals with heterodoxy. Here's a link:
"No "sega, sega;" I am looking forward already to my chrismation. (Maybe I will invite you!)"
"Let the impatient be told what the Truth says to His elect: `In your patience you shall possess your souls.' Truly, we are so wonderfully created, that reason possesses the soul, and the soul possesses the body. But the soul is dispossessed of its right over the body, if it is not first possessed by reason. Therefore, the Lord has pointed out that patience is the guardian of our estate, for He taught us to possess ourselves in it. We, therefore, realize how great is the fault of impatience, seeing that by it we lose even the possession of what we are." +Gregory the Great
When Abounna says the time is right, that will be soon enough! :)
Kolokotronis, it's way too late in my day to give this proper answer, but I am thinking upon this.
By your Orthodox standards we Anglicans are still a new church and still finding our way. We do not have in our church your extensive Orthodox history of the introduction of heresies and your church's subsequent corrections. You say, "at other times heresy took root and it took decades to root it out" -- why do we Anglicans not get the same accord you accord your Orthodox forebears? If you all were so diligent, how did one or more heresies even take such a deep root? But what is clear is that the Orthodox have developed an "immune system" that works, and that is good. (And I, at least, am willing to learn.)
We Anglicans have not been down this road before, and though we have the guidance of your experience, some of our experience makes us slower to pull the trigger -- today. We (I am speaking for worldwide Anglicanism, and I'm not sure I am qualified to do so) are on new and unfamiliar ground.
I have no doubt but that if Anglicanism survives this crisis (and by survive I mean the world-wide Anglican Communion, because IMHO if it does not survive we will be little more than another Protestant sect), we will have new safeguards, new guidelines, a new immune system and faster (if not yet Orthodox-lightning-quick) triggers.
If Anglicanism doesn't survive... well, I will quit posting here. Because I won't be an Anglican anymore. Fair enough?
"You say, "at other times heresy took root and it took decades to root it out" -- why do we Anglicans not get the same accord you accord your Orthodox forebears? If you all were so diligent, how did one or more heresies even take such a deep root?"
Imperial (Eastern or Holy Roman) support for, or even insistence upon the heresy. It is a wonder, and I suppose a sign from God, that we even survived such things as Arianism or Iconoclasm, or, dare I say it, the filioque clause. In each event, though, the persistence of the heresy was due to Imperial involvement of one sort or the other. Without that suypport heresy was stomped on quickly, at least for the times. None of us have that excuse anymore and haven't for a very long time.
As for experience with heresy, well aren't the founding documents of Anglicanism in part a catelogue of Roman heresies? I think its simply that heresy doesn't have much meaning in at least 1st world Anglicanism and that in great part can be traced to the compromises I mentioned in the earlier post. Apparently Orthodoxy and orthopraxis just don't have the value for Episcopalians which they do for Eastern Orthodox people. You say you've not been down this road before, but you have, many times, and have avoided the issue for reasons which were sufficient for the church at the time.
" If Anglicanism doesn't survive... well, I will quit posting here. Because I won't be an Anglican anymore. Fair enough?"
Why am I sure, noble sionnsar, that you'll have plenty to post about, the future status of the Anglican Communion notwithstanding? :) We can say bad things about the EP, the Pope and the Patriarch of Jerusalem, chuckle over which one of us gets to stand on their shoulders and then discuss pneumatology!
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