Skip to comments.Via Media is "Final Solution" For Orthodox in ECUSA
Posted on 11/08/2005 7:33:29 PM PST by sionnsar
A story is told about a General in the Second World War who shouted to his men. "The enemy are on our North, our South, our East, and our West. Men, they've got us surrounded! There's NO WAY they can ESCAPE!" In a peculiar way this describes the present situation of the Diocese of San Joaquin.
It was anecdotes like this which displayed the tremendous spirit of our soldiers and our nation. For years now there have been internal skirmishes within the Episcopal Church.
The battles have been over different issues but the underlying CAUSE is always the same. It's a matter - not only of belief - but revelation and truth. If many had not seen it before, all it took was an announcement by Charles Bennison, Bishop of Pennsylvania stating: "The Church wrote the Bible, so the Church can RE-WRITE the Bible." The first half of that statement is partially true.
The Church did precede - in time - the documents later collected together as the Epistles, Gospels, and Revelation of St. John the Divine as the New Testament. For the first years of the Church's life the ONLY Scriptures were those of the OLD Testament. It was to these that Jesus and later Paul, James, and Peter would refer. The Church in the persons of Paul, James, Peter and the authors of the Gospel did write the New Testament.
The point where the Bishop of Pennsylvania and others like him go wrong is in the belief that the Church can do it again. . . . even to the point of contradicting what we have received as the New Testament.
To suggest such a possibility is to DENY that what was written was given under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and therefore revelation. In II Timothy 3:16 we read: "all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction." There are those, today, however who are aptly described later on in that same letter (II Timothy 4:3-4) "for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from truth, and shall be turned to fables." In the strongest language possible, in his letter to the Galatians (1:8) the apostle Paul declares: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed."
From the beginning of the Church, then, we can see that controversy raged over what was essential and while some tried to add requirements for believers others were busy 2 detracting. The landscape of history is littered with the remains of those whose private agendas have taken them away from the knowledge of the living Lord and His Word. Despite detractors who would call us unthinking fundamentalists - we'll stand on God's Word and, along with the Apostle Paul, "not be ashamed of the Gospel."
By taking such a stand, we are witnessing the very promises of God taking place in our midst. A spirit of generosity burst forth in January and February this year. More than $37,000 was given to Tsunami victims through Episcopal Relief and Development whose own Joyce Hogg is here to speak to us at our banquet this evening. The sum does not account for the many generous gifts from parishes and individuals through other means, nor does it tell the tale of what continues to be given to the hurricane victims in our own country.
This last summer was the sixth year of Camp H20 where, over the years, over 180 students have made deep commitments of their lives to Jesus Christ. It was out of this program that our first attempt to establish a year long youth academy for young people called Student Mandate arose. (And although we may have been a bit premature in starting that venture, every young person who participated in it is now in some form of ministry.)
It is exciting that we are watching graduates of our summer program H20 now going on a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land over the Thanksgiving holidays. I know there will be life-changing experiences on that Pilgrimage that will produce fruit in the years to come.
Equally, it was thrilling to see five of our women deacons leading a women's Pilgrimage to the Holy Land this Spring. One Pilgrim, speaking for others, said to me: "I've been to the Holy Land before . . . but this journey opened my eyes.
It seemed like I was experiencing Israel for the first time! I can never thank God enough for this next step in my faith!" With the exception of one, all of these deacons have been trained in our own diocesan San Joaquin Schools for Ministry . . . a school which continues to grow - now numbering 40 students - and one which brings together the best of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, and the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary here in Fresno.
Because of the success of this venture MBBS has begun to explore a similar program for the Presbyterians. How grateful I am to those clergy of our Diocese who guide, fine tune, and teach in these schools! Although there have been sorrowful moments this year with the closing and sale of St. Stephen's, Stockton; Trinity, Madera; and St. Dunstan's, Modesto - all for greatly 3 different reasons - how important it is that Diocesan Council has approved the use of these funds to assist and re-grow churches within the Diocese. St. Mark's, Tracy has had a huge financial burden lifted from them enabling them in their new and very visible location to devote their full attention and energy to reaching out to a community experiencing exponential growth . . . a growth so visible in many areas of the San Joaquin.
More recently the Herculean efforts of what used to be tiny St. Alban's have begun to prepare a way to minister to the floods of people coming over the Pacheco Pass to establish homes in Los Banos. Audacious is the ONLY word capable of describing the new land purchase and building of a complex by St. Alban's with the financial aid of Council.
St. Luke's, Bakersfield - just having celebrated its 50 Anniversary th - is well on the way to expansion. And with the announcement of 3,000 new jobs at China Lake bringing in an increase of at least 16,000 to Ridgecrest, St. Michael's Vestry not content with the many upgrades made at their own facilities are eager to begin training to plant at least one new church if not two. To the north - without Dioscesan help - St. Mary's, Manteca has demonstrated a strong spirit to bring financial freedom as well as remodeling at the same time.
In the meantime, Church of the Ascension, Copperopolis, who has been meeting in an armory, has already signed papers leading to a gift of land where hopefully they can build. There are others whose plans for growth and expansion are not yet ready to be revealed... but who hopefully will also benefit from the recent sales in the Diocese. With all of this going on - and very publicly in the Diocese - we have our detractors who are busy on the internet claiming that the Bishop of San Joaquin is on a roll shutting down churches, selling property and building a legal war chest to fight the folks in New York City.
See for yourself what is taking place! Just this last weekend when the minutes of a meeting of Via Media (Remain Episcopal in this diocese) threatening to depose any and all bishops of the Anglican Communion Network became known, a delegate of the Diocesan Convention of Dallas stood up to declare "They'll never depose OUR bishop!"
To this, a clamorous applause from the Convention as a whole confirmed the delegate's point of personal privilege. Power plays, property grabs, and inhibition of clergy who are orthodox believers seem to be upper most in the thinking of such folks. By deposing all Anglican Network Bishops it appears that this is their "Final Solution" to cleansing the Episcopal Church of all orthodox believers.
Even a statement I made at September's Convocation was taken out of context by them and carried to their national meeting by a priest of this diocese. Referring to the recent horrendous attacks by Bishops such as Smith of Connecticut, Leidel in Michigan, Howard of Florida, and Bennison of Pennsylvania, I said no such persecution would take place in this diocese. I went on to say, should the liberals and revisionists choose to walk away from the Anglican Communion: "All bets were off!" By this I did not mean that I would copy the behavior of the Revisionist bishops of the Church, but that the laissez-faire treatment of all our clergy would be at an end.
Should anyone wish to remain in this diocese, then those holding to and promoting revisionist teaching would be given an opportunity to change or leave. I would, in accord with what I said earlier last year, be prepared to allow whole congregations to go as long as they did so without leaving indebtedness behind! As the people of God we need to be FREE of the life-sapping, energy draining struggles the presence of the revisionists create.
As one of our own priests, Fr. Jack Estes, wrote so eloquently in an article published by the national magazine, The Living Church, for years we have recognized there are two different churches with two different teachings under the single umbrella of the Episcopal Church. This is not simply ANOTHER instance of the breadth of Anglicanism. These are two contradictory and mutually exclusive churches.
More and more the world wide Anglican Communion has come to recognize this. Even as we speak, the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, is with the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Third Meeting of the South-to-South Encounter of the Global two-thirds of the world where, he - Robert Duncan - represents the orthodox believers of the Episcopal Church at this meeting in Cairo, Egypt.
Many of the Primates and bishops at this meeting are among the majority of those calling upon the Episcopal Church to repent at the next meeting of General Convention in Columbus, Ohio next summer . . . a repentance I doubt will ever come . . .for it would mean no more blessing of same sex unions and the election of bishops who could truly model a life in harmony with the standards of Scripture.
Speaking of repentance, in closing, let me point to a present day working of miracles here in California where folks who have no time for political intrigue, legal threats, and the murkiness produced by spin are open to a genuine repentance from all that would hinder the flow of God's power and the Holy Spirit.
Taking seriously the need to repent of anything that would separate them from God's will, young folks have been trained in a local congregation in Redding along with their elders to pray for God's Kingdom to come on EARTH as it already is in HEAVEN.
Within the past few months, a young man - and one of many going into the shopping malls and to those standing in line to buy tickets for the movies - found himself standing at check out stand number 10 in one of Redding's larger super markets. He stood immediately behind a woman whose hands had become two gnarled balls due to rheumatoid arthritis. Twice he asked her if she would like to be healed. In a non-commital way she turned to him after she had managed to put her groceries on the check out counter.
Praying simply that since there is no sickness in heaven, the teenager asked the Lord to heal this woman. To her amazement and that of the boy standing at the cash register, the woman watched as her hands unfolded for the first time in years. Seizing the moment the teenager asked the check out boy for the microphone. In the next minute - coming out over the store's loud speaker was: "Attention shoppers! Attention shoppers!
God is healing at check out stand number ten, if you need healing please make your way here." Thirty people gathered at the stand - 27, I understand, were healed. Here we see the Gospel unleashed!
This is what we're called to be about. Unhindered by concerns that so easily distract the Church needs to heed the words of our Lord Jesus spoken to His disciples. "Go, preach saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the leapers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." (St. Matthew 10:7-8)
--The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of San Joaquin delivered this address to the Forty-Sixth Annual Convention of the Diocese at St. James' Cathedral in Fresno, California on October 28, 2005.
Oh that we would hear "Attention - healing in aisle 10" all over the Nation, or "in the front of the dealership" or "lane 4 of the gas station".
I'm remided of someone new to a Church asking another after the sermon was over, "When do we get to do it?" ....meaning, when do we get to do the healing that he's just heard from the pulpit.
More and more the questio is, "When WILL we do it?"
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