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Making War, talking peace: the fight for American Anglicanism is a fight worth having
Stand Firm ^ | 2/27/2006 | Matt Kennedy

Posted on 02/28/2006 12:14:26 PM PST by sionnsar

One of the more disturbing aspects of the current Episcopal turmoil is the obsession many leaders have with language that denies the true extent and depth of our divisions.

There is, these leaders say, much more that unites us than divides us. We must “get on with the mission” and “agree to disagree.” That, after all is the essence of Anglicanism. Peace in our time.

This quote from bishop Peter Lee of Virginia's pastoral address is a prime example:

One of the historic strengths of our Anglican tradition is our capacity to hold together persons with different emphases, even conflicting emphases in their understanding of the gospel. That historic Anglican tradition is threatened by the differences that now capture our attention. And our differences are too often leading us to focus on our internal life, rather than on the world to which we are sent by Christ’s great commission and great commandment.
The problem is that our “insignificant sexuality dispute” is in reality symptomatic of an irreconcilable clash of worldviews.

The issue that divides us is not insignificant; it is basic, fundamental, essential: Where does authority lie?

Either the bible is the norm, the supreme authority in all matters of doctrine and practice, or it is not.

There is no middle ground.

Those standing firmly on either side recognize that the turmoil will not end until one side wins out.

But this is a hard truth that most in the center, both leaders and people, would rather not face. And so they speak soothing words with abandon.

The cycle of denial and conflict-avoidance serves as the setting for more radical agendas to be pursued under the guise of peace, unity, and the Anglican way.

This brings me to “Covenant.” Covenant is an occasional journal published in Tennessee, both online and in print form. A weblink to Covenant is displayed on the Via Media Tennessee (VMT) links page as well as on The Continuing Episcopalians of Tennessee (CET) web site. CET provides a disclaimer on its links page letting the reader know that the opinions found on Covenant and the other linked sites do not necessarily reflect their own.

A closer look, however, reveals that the chief editor of Covenant, the Rev. Lane Denson, priest associate of St. Anne’s, Nashville is also on the CET steering committee, as is Covenant contributor the Rev. Lisa Hunt, St. Anne’s rector. A brief perusal of St. Anne's clergy/staff/vestry page reveals several CET steering committee members.

Comparing the stated purposes and goals of The Continuing Episcopalians of Tennessee with the content of Covenant is quite telling.

CET proclaims that its mission is to: “Preserve a place at the table for all Christians. We embrace a spirit of acceptance, and proclaim Jesus Christ through our Episcopal tradition of unity and diversity in service to the world.”

But one mouse click away, in the article Sadness, the editor(s) of Covenant, while mourning a perceived diocesan-wide melancholy resulting from the Anglican crisis, laments that

any nutcake knows this melancholy is not finally about ordaining gays and lesbians. That's gone on for centuries at all levels of the church's life from the papacy on up and down. Such faux priggery should fool no one, and further, the absurdity of it is simply unbecoming to anyone who'd assume to be a disciple of Christ.
So much for unity and acceptance. So much for “preserving a place at the table for all Christians.” The orthodox in TN, according to Covenant's editor(s), are priggish, absurd, and unbecomingly presumptuous.

The CET brochure proclaims (PDF): “What binds us together is our common worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and our love for the Anglican expression of the Christian life.”

But at Covenant you read:

The contretemps between the Episcopal Church and most of the rest of the Anglican Communion is not likely to go away. Indeed it seems most likely that within the next three to five years we will no longer be a part of the larger body. For some, such a rupture will be a cause of great sadness, for others, it will hardly register. For myself, I welcome it. It is time for us to go. (The End of Anglicanism by William R. Coats)
And this from the same article:

One turns the other cheek, doesn't one? Well yes if, as in the biblical world, such a turning grounded in a culture of shame will have real effect. But against the proto-fascists abroad in our church it is useless. Early on, Canterbury and others could have stood up to Akinola and his yes-men, but they were timorous or afraid of being branded colonialist. So come 2008 a newer Anglican Church world will be upon us. I will be proud to have stood firm on the Gene Robinson matter and on the question of the access to the sacraments of the church to homosexual persons. It is worth a split over.
Anglican unity indeed.

Theologically speaking the CET brochure (linked above) claims to, “Remain faithful to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church.”

But at the Covenant site, just a click away from CET, you find that some minor points of doctrine like the personal nature of the Trinity, are downright annoying.

Another pet peeve is the practice of invoking the Trinity before preaching as if it were someone and not only a doctrine, albeit with legs. It is pretentious to a fault. Seems to be more appropriate just to ask God for permission for what the preacher is about to do, if it has ,to be done at all. Even so, it just might be an imposition on Herself.(Peripatetikos, editors)
It goes on and on. If you have the chance be sure to read Sewanee’s Dr. John Gessell and his glowing review of, Gays and the Future of the Anglican Communion: Responses to the Windsor Report, which he says, “reveals the hypocrisy and the astonishingly uninformed hostility which mark the Windsor Report.”

Read also the anonymous letter from a finalist in Tennessee’s episcopal search process. He seems to be a centrist but his letter is a study in how peace talk can be used to subtly marginalize the orthodox. He’s dropped out of the running because, he says:

I envision a ministry where people can learn to put aside secondary differences and joyfully move ahead together in important mission and ministry. Quite frankly, we missed the unity and the joy. Not that ministry is not sometimes challenging, especially when we all have been through post-General Convention, but life together can be and should be Promise-filled and hopeful.
He was disturbed that those on the search committee and other leaders in the diocese were not ready to go on with "the mission" of the church:

We didn't feel any operative energy or passion when we probed the question: What would you want the bishop to be and do in your midst? Even as the expectation of new church-plants was named, we didn't sense any focused rallying mission. This may have been a misread on our part, but we didn't experience deep joy about the journey ahead. Melancholy about the national scene seemed to dominate.
Helpfully, Covenant tells us who makes up the majority on the search committee:

We wonder how many already know (How many times do we have to tell you?) that the majority of Tennessee's Episcopate Searchers, Standing Committee, Bishop and Council (and too many of our parishes and Diocesan Convention delegates and General Convention deputies) are either members of or fellow travelers with the schismatic ("sizzle," not "skizzle") organizations -- American Anglican Council, Anglican Communion Network, Forward in Faith, et cetera.
What does all of this mean?

CET has adopted the language of peace as a front to mask their bid for dominance in the diocese. In one observer's words: "It's a little like moving out under a white flag for a parley with the opposition... while moving your troops to flank and then surround the opposing army."

Peace talk when there is no peace provides ample cover for wolves to slip unheeded into the unsuspecting fold. But how much more healthy would it be were all parties simply to admit that there is a deep divide over essential Christian doctrines that will not be resolved until one side gains victory.

The present veneer only drives theological opponents, who might otherwise fight with gentleness, respect and integrity about the actual issues at stake, to subterfuge. This is a fight worth fighting. The stakes are high. Both sides have strong deeply held convictions that are not going to change with a little word slinging and a few votes.

So why speak peace and love and harmony when your real aim is to unseat those who, in your opinion, have taken the Church or who seek to take the church so far outside God’s will? Why not simply, boldly, honestly proclaim your conviction?

I'll be the first to start. Our mission, as reasserters, is to reform and restore North American Anglicanism to orthodoxy.

This is a fight worth having. So let's have it.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 02/28/2006 12:14:28 PM PST by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; axegrinder; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; Condor 63; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; ...
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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 02/28/2006 12:15:49 PM PST by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006)
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