Skip to comments.Tolerating the Intolerant
Posted on 08/07/2005 6:24:39 PM PDT by sionnsar
The wonderful 1980's British comedy/parody "Yes, Prime Minister" contains within its series an episode titled "The Bishop's Gambit". The Prime Minister is concerned with recommending to Lambeth the name of a clergyman to be appointed Bishop of Bury St. Edmonds, and one evening is discussing his dilemma with his wife at their Downing Street residence. Displaying an understanding of the modern Church of England, she questions of a particular candidate, "Is he an atheist or a communist?" The Prime Minister replies, "Both".
This brings to mind the recent activities of a particular Connecticut bishop. One wonders, which or both. One wonders of the inhabitants of 815, which, or both.
Sometime during the 1890's the Times of London published an intriguing statement. I have misplaced the exact quote, but its essence is this: The attributes which propel a man to the position of bishop are the very attributes which cause him to be a bad bishop.
It is amazing that bishops, seemingly, remain oblivious to the fact that it is they who need us, not we who need them. By its very nature the position of bishop is a luxury to be tolerated, or in some cases no longer tolerated.
Tolerance is an interesting concept. When does one tolerate; when does one not? Must one graciously tolerate all things? Giuseppi Siri, Cardinal Archbishop of Genoa, and a man who declined the Papacy in the 1963 Conclave, had in interesting view of the subject. He once said, "Tolerance is not a virtue. It's a mere expedient, when you cannot do otherwise." He is saying, as a no-nonsense Churchman, you might have to "tolerate" rheumatism, but not the corruption of doctrine or the abandonment of moral principal.
It is obvious that Bishop Andrew Smith of Connecticut, among others, is an intolerant man. He will not, it appears, tolerate orthodox priests or parishes within his diocesan kingdom. Strangely, this is the obverse of Cardinal Siri's view, in that the moral principal Bishop Smith holds dear is the revision of traditional doctrine and the abandonment of traditional moral values. It is fascinating to observe those who insist we must tolerate and embrace all that exists in heaven and on earth are themselves brazenly intolerant of those who choose to believe otherwise.
The question now arises: How long must the Anglican Communion suffer by tolerating the ECUSA brand of rogue theology within it? How many good priests must be inhibited? How many good parishes padlocked? How many orthodox bishops replaced with activist revisionists? How many lifelong Episcopalians driven to flee to more traditional denominations? How long must we tolerate the unapproachable stubbornness of those whose intolerant purpose is to completely revise Christian theology?
Perhaps we must wait until the terminally ill ECUSA finally shrivels to the point of irrelevance or outright extinction. Such patience, however, is to display the weakness of uncertain leadership and possibly endanger the existence the Communion itself. It is time to recognize that the corruption of doctrine and the abandonment of moral principal by intolerant modernists must no longer be tolerated.
--Robert Seitz is a retired computer consultant, long-time Episcopalian and five time senior warden. He lives with his family in Tampa, Florida.
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