Skip to comments.Two Letters on the Eve of Reformation Day [TEC]
Posted on 10/31/2006 4:41:54 PM PST by sionnsar
Yesterday The Living Church broke the news that David Booth Beers, chancellor of the Episcopal Church, sent two identical letters to Bishop Iker of the Diocese of Ft. Worth and Bishop Ackerman of the Diocese of Quincy. The letter was essentially a demand letter. The two dioceses are to remove any language from their respective constitutions, that can be read as cutting against an unqualified accession to the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.
Like all such letters, it carried an explicit threat of legal action.
should your diocese decline to take that step, the Presiding Bishop will have to consider what sort of action she must take in order to bring your diocese into compliance. (from the TLC article linked above)
With regard to the Diocese of Forth Worth, the constitutional language to which Mr. Beers refers and objects is found in the preamble:
The Church in this Diocese accedes to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, and recognizes the authority of the General Convention of said Church provided that no action of General Convention which is contrary to Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Teaching of the Church shall be of any force or effect in this Diocese.
Here is the preamble:
We declare this Diocese historically to have been, and desire that it shall continue to be, in full communion with the See of Canterbury and the Anglican Churches throughout the world, as being an integral portion of the one body of Christ composed of Churches which, united under the One Divine Head in the fellowship of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, hold the one Faith revealed by God and defined in the Creeds of the undivided primitive Church in the undisputed Ecumenical Councils; receive the same Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as containing all things necessary to salvation; teach the same Word of God; partake of the same Divinely ordained Sacraments, through the ministry of the same Apostolic Orders; and worship one God and Father through the same Lord Jesus Christ, by the same Holy and Divine Spirit Who is given to them who believe, to guide them into all truth.
Contingent upon the continuing consent of Diocesan Synod and consistent with the Preamble to and Article XVII of this Constitution, the Church in the Diocese accedes to the Constitution (hereinafter the National Constitution) and Canons (hereinafter, the National Canons) of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (hereinafter, the Episcopal Church). The Diocese also recognizes the advisory authority of the resolutions of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
As Bishop Iker noted in TLC, the timing of this letter is shocking. Not only were many of the constitutional changes (reflected above) made long ago (why no legal objections then?), but the letter, dated October 19th, was delivered by regular mail on or close to the day the two TEC leaders were to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Unfortunately, according to Bishop Iker, it arrived too late for the Archbishop to be informed prior to the meeting.
The Beers letter is dated Oct. 19th and came by regular mail to my chancellors law office. When a copy was faxed to me from his office on the 27th, I then faxed it to Lambeth Palace , so the Archbishop would know what was in the works. Alas, Katharine had been there for her visit with the ABC that very day but had already departed.
In any case, the practical effect, if not the conscious intention, of Mr. Beers letter, sent with the full authority of the office of the Presiding Bishop (and presumably with the knowledge and consent of the Presiding bishop elect), is to assert that the Canons and Constitution of the Episcopal Church are the norma normans, the norms by which all other norms must be normed. What else can it mean to demand unqualified accession to the Canons and Constitution of the Episcopal Church? Those bodies and individuals vested with and acting with the authority of the Constitution and Canons are owed obedience above and beyond that owed to any other power or principle.
The Episcopal Church is a jealous god and will suffer no rivals. Loyalty must be absolute, contingent upon nothing.
It is fitting that in Gods providence news of these letters broke on the eve of Reformation Day. An ecclesial body requires accession, obedience, and loyalty above and beyond that owed to the Word of God from men whose consciences are held captive to Truth. Fitting indeed.
What can any Christian do but defy such tyranny?
I firmly believe, and have for some time, that the Episcopal Church is in open (if unconscious) rebellion against the Lord himself and that her leaders pushed that rebellion to the point of persecution. It has been going on at the local level for decades. Now, it has progressed (or devolved) to a macro-level diocesan scale war on the apostolic Faith.
Dont get me wrong. This is not the sort of persecution endured by our brothers and sisters in the developing world, but it is persecution nonetheless and, in some ways, a more insidious form. The veneer of process and legality dulls perception of it. The protestations of tolerance and inclusion deny recognition of it. The smooth voices of smartly dressed and well groomed clerics assure peace.
But there is no peace.
Make no mistake, we are caught up in the same great war that has raged since the serpent fell to earth.
As David wrote and Luther sang, our God is a mighty fortress. We sinners must trust in his power and seek his glory in this fight and, standing with bold men like Bishop Iker and Bishop Ackerman, refuse to be cowed by those who presume to defy the living God.
It's not God's providence. It's his droll sense of humor.
They went to war by appointing a homosexual, adulterer, alcoholic, who abandoned his wife and children, Bishop but had no plan to **win the peace**.
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