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The Revisionist Nightmare
Pontifications ^ | 8/26/2005 | Alvin Kimel

Posted on 08/26/2005 4:32:05 PM PDT by sionnsar

[Some background to this: Al Kimel used to be an Episcopal priest, recently swum the Tiber. Fr. Jake runs the revisionist blog Father Jake Stops the World, from which I've posted once or twice but which now has dropped off my reading list. --sionnsar]

Father Jake bills himself as an “eccentric and sometimes heretical priest.” One has to admit that he lives up to his billing. He is certainly eccentric and he is sometimes heretical. He can also be very irritating—not because I disagree with him more times than not, but because his arguments are so sloppy and tendentious. His latest post, Dealing with Paradox and Ambiguity, is case in point.

After quoting Griswold’s latest ruminations on the present unpleasantness, Jake offers his diagnosis: “The divisions are not about core doctrines. They are not about the authority of scripture. They are about hysterical reactions.”

Once again Fr Jake finds himself telling us that only unintelligent, stupid, thoughtless morons might be distressed by the present heterodox direction of the Episcopal Church. And so he accuses his opponents of hysteria, not realizing that his post is itself a prime example of hysteria.

The great bogeyman for the Episcopal revisionist is the frightening figure of the fundamentalist. This figure has become even more frightening with the rise of Islamic terrorism. Now revisionists can meld together in their fevered imaginations the figures of William Jennings Bryan and Osama bin Laden to form that terrifying demon who haunts their nightmares—the Episcopal fundamentalist! The fundamentalist is narrow-minded, irrational, aggressive, zealous, fanatical, and very, very dangerous. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, the fundamentalist can’t be bargained with. He can’t be reasoned with. He doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop until he has taken full control of ECUSA and purged it of his enemies.

(Click here for fundamentalist mood music)

The fundamentalist sees everything in black and white and thus is incapable of negotiating questions that do not yield easy answers. The fundamentalist cannot emotionally tolerate ambiguity and paradox. He needs to live in an utterly secure universe where every theological and moral problem has a bright solution. No matter what the cost, the fundamentalist will impose his brutal designs upon the Episcopal Church—unless he is defeated, nay eradicated, first.

Why is Father Jake an Episcopalian? Because it is a church that is willing to live in ambiguity and paradox, because it is a church that is willing to ask the tough questions and which refuses to accept the dishonest answers given in the past.

It is this willingness to honestly struggle with paradox and ambiguity that drew me back into the Church.

It seems to me that those who are attempting to remake the Episcopal Church in their own image keep missing this point. It is not about the scriptures. It is not about the creeds. It is about having the courage to ask the tough questions.

In other words, he is an Episcopalian because the Episcopal Church does not teach authoritatively and definitively.

In contrast to the fundamentalist, Fr Jakes presents us with the figure of the Episcopal revisionist, a fearless—but inclusive and compassionate—pioneer who is willing to push the intellectual and moral envelope and go where no man has gone before. Like all geniuses, the revisionist thinks outside the box. He envisions new realities and new worlds. But supremely, the revisionist is a person who is open to the Spirit of God and able to think the new thoughts and revelations of the kingdom.

(Click here for revisionist mood music)

Jake’s refusal to acknowledge the destruction the revisionist program has brought upon the Episcopal Church is truly astonishing, almost as astonishing as his implication that the revisionist approach to the Christian religion actually represents anything like historic Anglicanism. I do not know when Jake came into the Episcopal Church (though I do know that he attended my seminary and studied under many of the same instructors); but it is dishonest to suggest that the cavalier treatment of the theological and ethical tradition that is now characteristic of contemporary Episcopalianism is anything but a novelty in the history of the Episcopal Church.

But one would think that having achieved political victory in the Episcopal Church, the revisionist would be quietly confident in the endurance of this victory. Not so. Apparently Jake actually believes that the forces of reaction may yet grab victory from the jaws of defeat.

If it comes to pass that the Episcopal Church is forced to surrender her intellectual integrity because of pressure from external powers and principalities, I will have to question the future of the Christian faith. It is obvious to me that the future of Christendom is not found in the dying world view currently espoused by the hysterical fundamentalists. As is the pattern with most dying movements, their current popularity is simply a desperate last gasp.

If we allow the thought police to take over, it is quite possible that Christianity will self-destruct. If so, I personally will not participate in such a suicide. But I will also not surrender my hope that God can redeem even this sad state of affairs, and will raise up something new from the ashes of a Church destroyed by hysterics.

I confess that I am baffled. Not even the most confident Network enthusiasts actually believe that matters can be turned around in the Episcopal Church. I suspect that not even the Anglican Communion Institute folks really believe ECUSA can be reconverted. Almost everyone I know is hoping and praying for an institutional reconfiguration of some sort. Yet here is Fr Jake worrying. And I know he is not the only revisionist who worries. Ever since the Primates put the Episcopal Church on probation, poor bls of the Topmost Apple, an enthusiastic supporter of the lesbi-gay agenda, has repeatedly declared her withdrawal from the Episcopal Church, and even from Christianity, only to quickly return days later. Why are the revisionists scared? They have already won. Does anyone think that ECUSA is going to renege on what it began with Gene Robinson? Yet here is Fr Jake hysterically accusing his opponents of being hysterical fundamentalists!

Dear revisionists, please look into the mirror. The fundamentalist you fear is … yourself.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
[I recommend clicking through and reading the comments thread. --sionnsar]
1 posted on 08/26/2005 4:32:05 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; anselmcantuar; Agrarian; coffeecup; Paridel; keilimon; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:

Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 08/26/2005 4:38:38 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† || (To Libs:) You are failing to celebrate MY diversity! || Iran Azadi)
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To: All
From The Waffling Anglican:

Pontificator has an interesting comment on the thought processes of Anglican revisionists.  Now, I am certainly way too timid to get in an argument with Father Al – my brain would probably wind up looking like the main course in the movie Hannibal.  But I’ve run into plenty of revisionists in ECUSA, and in a few other denominations for that matter, and I think that trying to understand them is a matter of futility, if not outright soul-peril.  The real issue doesn’t revolve around theological debate, or even power politics for that matter.  It revolves around a form of madness.  

That may sound pretty darned condescending, but I think I know whereof I speak.  Back in my young-and-heathen days, I was pretty good at it myself – engaging in actions that were obviously self-destructive to anyone with at least one eye and a dozen synapses.  But me?  I believed it was the way, the truth, and the life…  Conversion for me has always been a matter of seeing reality more clearly; I have always identified with Paul and the scales-from-the-eyes thing.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people with a revisionist mind-set.  Many of them have been friends.  We can talk about the weather, the Longhorns, the church rummage sale, or how much money it costs to get our kids through college, and everything seems normal.  But when we start talking about matters religious, then it gets real obvious real quick that we might as well be talking different languages.  I’ve sat and listened to a seminarian (now ordained) tell me that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” can be interpreted as – well – darn near anything except “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”  I even went and checked the Greek – egw eimi h odos kai h alhqeia kai h zwh.  A really sophisticated grammatical analysis of that passage changes he translation to, ummm… “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  Glad the clergy set that straight for me.

I’ve had people tell me that black means white, up means down, and forward means backward.  And they watch the church hemorrhage people, and they watch sexual and financial scandals erupt, and they watch power take the place of love, and they smile, and they talk about how wonderful and holy it all is.  I’m sorry – that’s not a disagreement.  That is madness.  And I’m scared for these people, because many of them have been friends of mine, and watching them spiral into Neverland is like watching a plane going down.  You know something awful is happening, and there’s not a darn thing you can do to control it.  Romans 1:28 is probably the scariest verse in the whole of scripture: “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”  

Pater de caelis Deus, miserere nobis.Fili redemptor mundi Deus, miserere nobis.Spiritus Sancte Deus, miserere nobis.
Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis.Sancta Dei Genitrix, ora pro nobis.

[Click on through and leave him a comment... --sionnsar]

3 posted on 08/26/2005 5:06:40 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† || (To Libs:) You are failing to celebrate MY diversity! || Iran Azadi)
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To: sionnsar

In a recent interview, Griswold also accused the “fundamentalists” of being “obsessed” with sex. Talk about hysterical. The same people whose enitre identity and lifestyle revolves around the type of sex they prefer, are now accusing orthodox Episcopalians of being obsessed with sex. THAT’S how crazy this debate has become.

4 posted on 08/26/2005 5:34:24 PM PDT by Cookie123
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To: Cookie123
As a heterosexual, sex is something I do.

For homosexuals, sex is who they are.

5 posted on 08/27/2005 4:55:12 AM PDT by N. Theknow (Be a glowworm. A glowworm's never glum. How can you be grumpy when the sun shines out your bum?)
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To: sionnsar

What scares the Episcopalian revisionists into hysterics is that they see they've won a classic Pyrrhic victory. Empty churches, huge amounts of lost revenues, and censure by the vast majority of the Anglican Church isn't the way it was supposed to be for them. Temper tantrums are to be expected.

6 posted on 08/27/2005 10:10:25 AM PDT by xJones
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