Skip to comments.Has the Episcopal Church really been "Falsely Accused"? Part II
Posted on 08/29/2006 5:14:36 PM PDT by sionnsar
This mornings article is the second installment in a series of articles responding to Fr. Tom Woodwards article Falsely Accused.
In the introductory installment I provided a rough summary of Fr. Woodwards assertion: that the AAC, Network, and Church of Nigeria (why just those three I wonder?) have falsely accused the Episcopal Church of heresy and apostasy by (mis)representing the marginal teachings of marginal teachers, Dr. Marcus Borg and John Spong, as though they were the mainstream teachings of official voices.
Both teachers, as most readers know, deny essential doctrines: the virgin birth, bodily resurrection, and the bodily ascension.
If indeed the Episcopal Church were the healthy, well-balanced, orthodox Church Fr. Woodward claims, you would expect to see widespread opposition to Spong and Dr. Borg originating not just from the traditionalist wing, but from the diverse center as well. You would expect Spong to be brought up on presentment charges and men like Borg to be ostracized by the ecclesial leadership.
Instead these men are lauded and celebrated. They are frequently invited to dioceses across the Episcopal Church to lecture, teach, and preach at the invitation and with the blessing of the diocesan bishop.
For example, heres an article describing Spong's visit to Presiding Bishop-Elect Jefferts-Schoris Diocese of Nevada where, apparently, he not only spoke to the clergy but was given pulpit access to the flock of at least one parish.
Spong Addresses 2003 Clergy Conference in Nevada
John Shelby Spong will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Christ Church Episcopal, 2000 S. Maryland Parkway. The lecture, which is open to the public, is titled God Beyond Theism. Spong also will speak Sept. 6 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Reno. His Reno lecture is titled Jesus Beyond Incarnation. Spong also will address the clergy of the Diocese of Nevada at a retreat in Lake Tahoe. Bishop Spong continues to be one of the important voices for an intellectually involved Christian theology, said the Right Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, bishop of the Diocese of Nevada. You may not agree with everything he says, but you will not come away from a meeting with him without having examined what you do believe and why.Lest you think the reporter somehow misunderstood or misstated the capacity or purpose of Spongs visit or imagine that perhaps these things took place under +Jefferts-Schoris radar or without her full knowledge, heres the blurb from her diocesan newsletter:
TO ALL CLERGY: SAVE THE DATES.So only three years ago this marginal and unrepresentative teacher, this odd-man-out, was leading clergy days in the Presiding bishop-elects diocese and lecturing her flock.
Clergy Conference 2003 will take place September 4 to September 6, 2003 at Almost Home Group Retreats, South Lake Tahoe, CA. Our facilitator is the Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, former Episcopal Bishop of Newark, NJ, renowned writer and lecturer. He is one of the leading spokespersons in the world for progressive Christianity. He is author of 15 books including the best-selling Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism. A Profile of a Bishop: John Shelby Spong can be found on http://www.dioceseofnewark.org/jsspong/profile.html. Coordinators in the North are needed to provide transportation for those arriving at the Reno airport to the center. Volunteers, please call the diocesan office 702-737-9190. A registration form will be in the mail shortly.
I do not understand your charges or concerns about deconstructing the Creeds or Scriptures. I understand how those on the orthodox side are doing bothdemanding a litmus test for choosing the correct understandings of the Virgin Mary, and theories of the atonement, the Second Coming and the resurrection as well as undercutting what had been a communion-wide consensus on the status of the Purity Code in determining doctrine in TEC.In fact, from Fr. Woodwards responses it would seem that the criteria for orthodoxy are 1. possessing a 79 prayerbook with a catechism, 2. reciting the Creeds (without necessarily believing the propositional content of the words), celebrating the resurrection (at least as a metaphor) and adhering like a fundamentalist to a literal reading of the Canons of the Episcopal Church.
I also understand the confusion of many people in dealing with religious language, which is often metaphorical rather than propositional. I think of sitting on the right hand of God, which refers, I believe, to the core of the doctrine of the Ascension rather than to a physical event (a man disappearing into the clouds may be an enormous Wow but does not mean much without the meaning attached. Your citing the question about belief surrounding The Virgin Mary. I do not believe it is a matter of core doctrine that Mary was a virgin at the birth of Jesusthat His birth was at the divine initiative is important, but the history of the phrase, coming from a questionable interpretation of Isaiah, particularly its function at the time it was inserted into the creed indicate that it is the divine initiative that is important, not the nuts and bolts of it. We get to differ about the nuts and boltsunless that is defined for us at General Convention, in a new Book of Common Prayer or in a common agreement in a new (and pretty scary) Anglican Covenant.
Of course, if these articles are not essential or core articles of the Christian faith, then certainly Fr. Tom, Episcopal Majority, and the Jesus Seminar, Spong and Dr. Borg and ultimately anyone else who mouths the Creeds can be considered orthodox.
Doctrine, teaching and practice consistent with Scripture and traditions of the Church (based on the four Councils of Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon; the 39 Articles of Religion; the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral; and the 1888 Lambeth Conference).By this standard the Episcopal Church is clearly a heretical body and we do not need to dig up references to John Shelby Spong or Dr. Borg to prove it. Simply turn to the election, consent, and consecration of V. Gene Robinson to the office of bishop in the diocese of New Hampshire.
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