Skip to comments.The Good Sort of Dialogue
Posted on 03/17/2006 5:13:28 PM PST by sionnsar
I am, as I mentioned yesterday, persuaded that the time for talking is over. Our differences over essential matters of faith are so deep that short of repentance and recantation by one side or the other, there is no hope of institutional or spiritual unity.
I stand by that.
But last night my parish engaged in a very good sort of dialogue. As I mentioned yesterday my parish attended a listening session held in our district designed to let the diocesan deputies hear from the people they will represent.
I had my doubts about this meeting and argued against attending in vestry meetings. What finally persuaded me that it might be a good idea was the realization that my vestry was not seeing this meeting as a vehicle to overcome our divisions or in any way to pretend that what unites us is greater than what divides.
Rather they saw this meeting as an opportunity to proclaim the gospel of salvation people who may never have heard it and to clearly explain the reasons for our stand.
Both of those purposes were accomplished. It was an amazing evening. All of the usual tired revisionist arguments were trotted out only to be met with loving calm and sometimes movingly simple and eloquent biblical faith. Not a single Good Shepherd parishioner or leader lost his temper or raised his voice and we made up a little over half of the gathering of 54 Episcopalians. The truth was spoken clearly.
I spoke afterwards to a lesbian woman who teaches at the state University here. She had never heard or seriously grappled with the orthodox position the real one, not the straw man erected by Integrity et al before this evening. She wanted to talk more and gave me her card to talk later. I do not know if God used the words of my parishioners to plant seeds or change hearts, I do know that I am wholly in favor of this type of dialogue.
If an orthodox parish can go into a situation like this without the intention of reconciling the irreconcilable, but rather with the purpose of changing hearts and spreading the gospel, then it can be both good for the parish and good for the kingdom of God. This was a corporate evangelism effort for which the hard core revisionists were not at all prepared. The only anger and bitterness expressed came from a revisionist minded couple serving on the vestry of one of the moderate parishes in town who seemed to bristle every time a speaker from Good Shepherd rose. The woman spent much of the meeting shooting me seething glances. I later found out that they had been members of Good Shepherd for many years before transfering to this other parish and were not at all happy with the new leadership of their old parish.
One of the most interesting aspects of the evening, and encouraging, was that there was a sad, but honest realization on the part of most there that we had, in reality, become two separate houses. Even the revisionists seemed to understand our differences are not going to be resolved by talking. And this realization actually made for a far more amicable meeting and a far more honest assessment of our future.
The delusion of a united future seemed to die last night, but peacefully. And this was good.
I do not think that every parish should go into a dialogue like this, especially if there are people in leadership seeking reconciliation with heresy. And, of course, time is short and such meetings will soon be interfaith rather than ecclesial in nature.
But, if a parish is united, firm, and committed to spreading the saving gospel of Jesus Christ; what a great opportunity such meetings represent to reach those sitting under false teaching who may simply be unaware of whats going on and, in fact, may not know Jesus.
Everybody's just standing around the corpse of the Protestant Episcopal Church USA, wondering what to do next.
If the orthodox folks don't come up with a clearly defined action plan soon, they're just going to keep bleeding members drop by drop until they're bled out.
I'm glad we left when we did. It just keeps getting worse.
From the comments: "What I have found is that so many people are still unaware of the schism that ECUSA is leading the Anglican Communion into!"
This is the reason this ping list and associated activities (some related to FR and some conducted elsewhere) continue -- we still get, from time to time, those who are bewildered at what happened to their church. I would not declare it a room-temperature corpse until all the faithful are out (or, unimaginably to me, they win).
But the Diocese of Atlanta is done. Finished. Dead. The one remaining orthodox congregation is elderly and dwindling, and they lost their long-time rector (the bishop finally wore him down) and have an interim. I don't know if they'll even be able to find somebody to call. And they're an urban parish (in a neighborhood with lots of aging hippies, gays, and punks) so I don't know if there's any future in it.
I think most of our "high" Anglicans have already lateraled to the Catholics.
Interestingly, the first Episcopalian I saw go to Rome was not high-church at all, but very low-church evangelical.
And some of our "high" Anglicans are going to the Continuing churches as well. Just a couple of weeks ago a couple formally transferred their membership from ECUSA to our parish, and several others have joined us over the past few months.
I guess each person has to figure out where to go. I hate to say it's a sort of "every man for himself" type thing, but without positive leadership from the AAC, that's what it winds up as, especially in a very heterodox diocese.
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