Skip to comments.Bishop's canon calls for the excommunication of prominent layman
Posted on 07/17/2005 7:22:03 AM PDT by sionnsar
SYRACUSE: (July 15, 2005)--The following article was printed in the parish newsletter at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Syracuse, NY.
After the publication of this article, the rector of the parish received a call from a priest at the diocesan office who asked that the author, Mr. Raymond J. Dague be excommunicated.
As you may understand or guess, excommunication is a serious act. According to the Book of Common Prayer, excommunication is reserved for "a person who is living a notoriously evil life" (Disciplinary Rubrics, BCP p. 409).
What is the evil that Mr. Dague has committed? He has questioned the diocesan action of sponsoring a visit by Marcus Borg.
Mr. Dague's reasoning is air-tight, and maybe this is what troubles the diocesan office. You see, when they offer explanations for why they do and promote unbiblical actions, their reasoning for doing so is generally pretty poor. In fact, they often use buzz words like diversity and inclusiveness. You can see from their attempted treatment of Mr. Dague that they are anything but inclusive. Recently, the diocesan denied permission for Bp. Bob Duncan, to preach at St. Andrew's in Vestal, NY. Why? The stated reason was that Bp. Duncan is a lightning rod. After reading Mr. Dague's essay, I think that you will agree that Marcus Borg is also a lightning rod. And why was he in our Diocese of Central NY? Because the diocese sponsored his visit. Are you catching the inclusivity? Ed.
By Raymond Dague
On Saturday, June 4, 2005 the famous liberal theologian Marcus Borg is coming to central New York to give a public lecture and to speak to the clergy of the Episcopal Church. The Diocese is bringing him here. Marcus Borg is one of the founders of the Jesus Seminar in 1985. The Jesus Seminar is a group of liberal scholars who have decided that very little of what is portrayed in the Gospels is historically accurate. They say that they are in search of the "historical" Jesus, rather than the Jesus of "m yth" as portrayed by the Church for the last 2000 years.
How did we get to a state in the Episcopal Church were orthodoxy as set forth in the Nicene Creed is out, and heresy is taught to our clergy by Marcus Borg at the request of the officials of this diocese? That is an interesting story which requires some recent and not so recent history.
The recent history we mostly know, because we have been living it for the last two years. Lately the entire world wide Anglican Communion has been racked by wars over the new bishop of New Hampshire who is living with his homosexual lover. Also by vote of the 2003 General Convention, each diocese can now decide whether it wants to bless homosexual unions. Some bishops, like the new bishop of Florida, are saying that all is well, but events speak differently.
Six rectors in Connecticut are under threat of being removed by their bishop. Three parishes in Los Angeles have transferred their ecclesiastical authority to an Anglican bishop in Africa. The bishop of Los Angeles is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into a lawsuit against these parishes which legal experts say he will lose, and with it three of his fastest growing parishes. A similar lawsuit by the bishop of Pennsylvania has generated a legal bill over $1 million to that diocese, and the bishop there still has another appeal before he can seize the church he is suing.
All across the country whole parishes are walking away from their property and starting new churches, sometimes turning the keys over to their bishop to do what he wants with empty buildings with no parishioners. The Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) is picking up many of these parishes. Independent Anglican parishes are forming. Almost every diocese in the country has taken a big financial hit, and church attendance is down practically everywhere. Traditionalist groups such as the A merican Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network are flourishing in an apparent backlash against the slide of the entire denomination.
Weird things continue to pop up around the country with the name "Episcopal" attached. Last fall a husband and wife pair of Episcopal rectors in Pennsylvania were discovered as having been longtime Druids. Surely you would think that the bishop of these two priests would discipline them. But when they renounced their Druid practices and resigned from the "Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids" their bishop disciplined neither of them. He issued a press release touting the positive contributions they had made to the church. The husband later renounced his Christian faith to become a Druid priest. The wife is still rector of her Episcopal Church. Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold has uttered not a peep over this apostasy.
The official website of the national Episcopal Church carried a "Wome n's Eucharist" which is pure pagan worship of the female body. When a circle of women drink from a cup of wine they invoke the image of their menstrual blood in an act which looks like Satan worship.
One of the most prominent Episcopal churches in the nation, Trinity Church on Wall Street in New York City, had a very interesting celebration on Trinity Sunday 2005. While we at St. Andrew's were celebrating the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with the liturgy of the faith used for almost 2000 years, Trinity Wall Street had a clown mass. No words were said for the readings which were instead acted out in mime. The congregation responded with noise makers rather than said or sung prayers. The priest was dressed up like Bozo the Clown rather than wearing liturgical vestments. Instead of incense they blew bubbles around the altar. If you go to the Trinity Wall Street website you can watch this entire hour-long liturgy travesty.
In the diocese of Central New York the Thornfield Conference Center was recently deconsecrated when the "vision committee" of the diocese decided that the Center had no future, and its buildings were torn down. As the diocesan budget is shrinking, church attendance is off.
St. Andrew's in Syracuse and some other parishes have cut off sending money to the diocese. As a result St. Andrew's, one of the largest and fastest growing parishes in the diocese, was denied a seat at the 2004 diocesan convention. A new parish has not been started in this diocese in well over 30 years, and many have been closed, or yoked under a single priest with other parishes which are failing.
The problems of the Episcopal Church did not begin with the 2003 General Convention and the advance of the homosexual agenda. The root of this decay is far deeper than the events of a single church convention in the summer in Minneapolis two years ago.
In 1958 a liberal dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City was elected bishop coadjutor of the diocese of California, and within a year was bishop of California. Until he resigned in 1966 James Pike, like Bishop Spong of New Jersey, was the darling of the liberal news media. His antics even won him a spot on the cover of Time Magazine. Pike's first career was that of a lawyer, but his real splash was as maverick bishop. Actually "heretic bishop" is a better characterization. Pike's descent into heresy involved his denial of the doctrines of the virgin birth and the infallibility of scripture. As early as 1960 he called the doctrine of the Trinity "outdated, incomprehensible and nonessential" to the Christian faith. The Episcopal Church largely ignored Pike until he became so outrageous that he was impossible to ignore. When Pike's son committed suicide, he engaged in séances to contact his deceased son. Pike married three time s, divorcing his first two wives.
Finally Pike was presented with changes of heresy. In October of 1966, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church voted to censure him. This was a rather mild rebuke considering that Pike's widely publicized views completely contradicted the Christian faith. Some of the bishops wrote a minority report defending Pike saying, "We believe it is more important to be a sympathetic and self-conscious part of God's action in the secular world than it is to defend the positions of the past, which is a past that is altered by each new discovery of truth." In other words, even our belief in the Triune God is up for grabs as each generation discovers new truths.
When the divided House of Bishops gave only a censure rather than any real discipline, it was a signal to the entire Episcopal Church that there was no longer any church discipline about what you believed or did.
Bishop Pike then took a dr ive in the desert of Israel south of Jerusalem when his car got stuck. He tried to walk back to civilization, but lost his way. He died in the barren wilderness of the Israeli countryside as he was trying to find his way out of the desert - perhaps an apt metaphor for his entire life.
After Pike another heretic Bishop came on the scene. From 1976 to 2000 John Shelby Spong was the bishop of New Jersey. He is another Pike, but even more public and sensational. Spong wrote more books than Pike did, and rather than just being on magazine covers, he is constantly on television with interviews, has his own online web column, and rides the lecture circuit peddling heresy. Central New York's former bishop O'Kelly Whittaker invited Spong to be the speaker at one of our diocesan conventions. While his diocese was in serious decline due to his disbelief of everything Christian, Spong made a good living. He became famous as a debunker of the things which his Church believed as set forth in the Bible, the Nicene Creed, the 39 Articles, and the Prayer Book. And in doing so he is helping to pave the way for the Episcopal Church to renounce Trinitarian doctrines in favor of a doctrine of radical love and inclusiveness.
What Spong believes is set forth in his own words in what he calls his "12 Theses."
1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divini ty, as traditionally understood, impossible.
5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post- Copernican space age.
9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way. 11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
12. All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.
To analyze these would take too much space here, but notice one thing about Spong's 12 Theses: they say much about what he does not believe, but little about what he does believe. Much liberal theology is similar. It criticizes what it claims is wrong belief, but has few positive statements to describe faith in Christ. Other than "God is love", "inclusiveness," and "gender neutral" language, there is not much substantive content to liberal theology. < BR>Borg is in the tradition of Spong and Pike. In a well written book The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions by Marcus J. Borg & N. T. Wright, Borg describes what he thinks about Jesus, and often what he does not think about Jesus.
Borg believes that Jesus was not conceived by Mary as a virgin, but was the biological child of Joseph and Mary. Jesus was "more likely" born in Nazareth and not in Bethlehem as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. None of the things associated with the nativity of Jesus such as the appearance of the star, the shepherds seeing the angel, or the magi visiting the baby ever happened. Also the geologies of Jesus were fabrications, or as Borg likes to say, "history metaphorized." Jesus did not know that he was the Jewish Messiah. Jesus did not predict his own death, nor did he see his death as the salvation for the sins of man. Jesus did not utter the words of the Eucharist at the Last Supper over the bread and the wine. There was never a trial of Jesus before the Jewish or Roman authorities. Whether the tomb was empty on Easter morning is "irrelevant" to the Christian faith. He describes the Nicene Creed as "not...a set of literally true doctrinal statements to which I am supposed to give my intellectual assent, but as a culturally relative product of the ancient church" which he prefers to chant or sing, rather than say.
Borg is an attractive and glib speaker, and a fine writer. He cranks out book after book debunking orthodox Christianity, and is a bit better than his predecessors Pike and Spong in trying to articulate actual content to what he believes. But basically his calls himself Christian by remaking Christianity as he "imagines" Jesus. When you see a theologian, bishop, or priest speak about "imagining" or "re-imagining" God, watch out. They, like Pike, Spong and Borg, are remaking God in their own image, and to th eir own liking
In a very real sense, the Episcopal Church in the United States is doing just what Bishop Pike did. It is lost in the wilderness, has embraced heresy, and is dying as its membership and finances dry up. It is dying of thirst for the Holy Spirit as it wanders in a wilderness of theological and moral experimentation. It claims that it is acting prophetically at the behest of the Holy Spirit revealing new truth, but it is lost in the Wilderness of Sin.
Marcus Borg is another step along the proud road to renouncing the truths of the Christian faith and replacing them with a quasi-Christian jargon of love and inclusiveness with no requirement for repentance, transformation, and holiness. This next weekend, the Diocese of Central New York will take one more step down that road as it listens to Marcus Borg. I plan to stay home to work in my garden and mow my lawn.
Mr. Raymond J. Dague is Chancellor to St. Andrew' s Episcopal Church in Syracuse, New York
Here we go again with liberalism's velvet gloved iron fist. Or maybe the liberals have now decided to take the velvet off of the iron.
Is not this the religious denomination that has always complained about being fearful of papal despotism?
The cure to this insidious infection of liberalism which will be the death of all churches, not just ours is simple.
As I have noted in other replies. When vestries, churches and dioceses demand that their clergy believe in God, the Birth of Jesus, what Jesus taught us, the death of Jesus and his Resurrection, this bs will stop. If we don't, this infection of liberalism will destroy every so called Christian church in the world.
"On Saturday, June 4, 2005 the famous liberal theologian Marcus Borg is coming to central New York to give a public lecture and to speak to the clergy of the Episcopal Church. The Diocese is bringing him here. Marcus Borg is one of the founders of the Jesus Seminar in 1985. The Jesus Seminar is a group of liberal scholars who have decided that very little of what is portrayed in the Gospels is historically accurate. They say that they are in search of the "historical" Jesus, rather than the Jesus of "m yth" as portrayed by the Church for the last 2000 years."
"How did we get to a state in the Episcopal Church were orthodoxy as set forth in the Nicene Creed is out, and heresy is taught to our clergy by Marcus Borg at the request of the officials of this diocese?"
Trust me, there is no velvet here. These people are mad, totally freakin' mad. Only people either certifiably looney-tunes or possessed by a demon act this way. I am afraid with the EC that it is the latter.
The root of the problem in ECUSA is the teaching of Bishop Augustine of Hippo. All of the ills of the Western world have sprung from the fevered brain of that one African bishop.
In order to be saved, the West must repent, not just of its deeds but of its Augustinian thinking.
Orthodox Christianity will only be found in the obvious place, the Orthodox Church because it is the Orthodox Church that is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church referred to in the Nicene Creed.
No bishop (or "bishop") shoud excommunicate any layperson for any letter, especially one defending orthodoxy and telling the truth about Borg, Spong, and the long-dead-and-forgotten Pike. To do so is not really liberalism, but fascism!!!!
Hey wow--just think...if we *destroyed* all of Augustine's writings, then there would be no more heresy and everything would be allll right!
Graves, you're not helping Orthodoxy any by such titanic exaggerations as this. It's really embarrassing.
"Graves, you're not helping Orthodoxy any by such titanic exaggerations as this. It's really embarrassing."
Hyberbole is not permitted? Loosen up.
Were you being sarcastic or serious? If the former, then I apologize for being too dense to detect it. :)
"Were you being sarcastic or serious? If the former, then I apologize for being too dense to detect it."
Let's say tongue in cheek, half serious (so to speak) and half pulling the Westerners' legs.
And now that I have you all loosened up and bent out of shape, maybe we can discuss the extent to which Augustine of Hippo is a high maintenance guy for Protestants and Catholics alike, the extent to which ECUSA's problems are traceable to him, the extent to which liberalism is traceable to him.
No one would get much profit from such a discussion with me. I have long been a devoted reader of St. Augustine's but have little knowledge or even interest in the whole grace/original sin controversy.
His opinions on same are very important to be sure, but the tendency to wrench him out of 2000 years of tradition is an unfortunate outgrowth of his popularity in Protestant polemics. IMHO, that's the only reason he looks more high maintenance than any other Father. Most Latins including myself don't follow Augustine on the sense-suffering of unbaptized babies in hell, but rather the Greek Fathers and the Scholastics. His allegorical interpretation of Genesis 1 is likewise not very popular anymore.
Augustine is the greatest Latin Father. He is not however, the only one, and he is not the Church.
On to what extent he is responsible for ECUSA and modernism, look. Either the modernists are misinterpreting him and/or drawing unwarrented conclusions from his writings, in which case why blame him? Or, he intentionally laid the groundwork for modernism, in which case why is he a saint? You telling me that some idiot couldn't do the same thing with St. Basil or St. John Chrysostom?
Yep, I'm telling you just that, Claud.
"On to what extent [Augustine] is responsible for ECUSA and modernism, look. Either the modernists are misinterpreting him and/or drawing unwarrented conclusions from his writings, in which case why blame him? Or, he intentionally laid the groundwork for modernism, in which case why is he a saint? You telling me that some idiot couldn't do the same thing with St. Basil or St. John Chrysostom?"
I and other Orthodox Christians, went through some of this over the past two-three weeks with the Roman Catholics (see the string "Eastern Orthodox Ecclesiology: against false unions [my title]"). Finally, after about 410 posts, I think the discussion with the RCs has ended, but some of it touched on Augustine.
I'll try to keep it short and simple.
Unlike any other Christian father, Augustine allowed for the use of reason, for Greek wisdom. Because of that, he tacitly allowed for individualism. His thinking was not immediately accepted on these matters. His most major opponent was St. Vincent of Lerins whose constant dreambeat in the "Commonitory" was Tradition, "that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all."
For more on Augustine and his influence on Western life and thought (for better or worse, depending on who you are), from an Orthodox perspective, one might want to snag a copy of Fr. Michael Azkoul's ONCE DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS. Reviews have been posted at http://www.stnectariospress.com/parish/azkoul's_reviews.html
Have a great day.
En arche en ho logos. You tell me where that "logos" came from.
I'm familiar with the gist of the Orthodox argument, but to say that Augustine influenced the West is only stating the obvious.
I ain't enough of a Patristics scholar to debate you or the other EO folks very long on this point. But I say again, and just as strongly, if you think that some monstrous deformity cannot be twisted out of the Eastern Fathers as easily as the Western, you are living in a strange world.
Well, one can wrench just about anything out of anything if one puts ones' mind to it. But with Augustine, it's easier. One can wrench a lot of terrible ideas from the Bible, but it's easier to do that with the Koran.
Logos was a word used by the Greek philosophers and St. John got that word from them. But he did not fill his Gospel with Greek philosophy. Similarly, homousios is found nowhere in the Bible but it is found in the Greek version of the Nicene Creed. Does that mean the Nicene Fathers adopted Greek philosophy? It does not. In fact, the Church still condemns Greek philosophy as being foolishness.
Even after Augustine employed reason in his writings, mainly the philosophy of Plotinus, the West did not go ga ga for Greek philosophy. We don't see the West really coming unglued until centuries later. Are you familiar with early 12th century war between Abelard and Bernard? It is in that war that we see reason gaining the victory over Tradition. But the seed was planted by Augustine.
The Church used many, many terms from pagan Greek philosophy -- they were using Greek.
What they did *not* do was use the standards of pagan Greek philosophy in determining what those words or terms meant. They took the words, but then in their writings, they over time defined what those terms mean. To see what "Logos" means, look at how it is used in the Bible and the writings of the Fathers, *not* how it was used in pagan philosophy.
I believe that it was Alexander Kalomiros who said that Christianity is made up of Hebrew concepts articulated in the Greek language. I think that is an apt summary that shows the fundamental discontinuity of Christianity with pagan Greek thought and philosophy.
They would occasionally even use Greek thought forms and dialectic -- sparingly, and especially in the context of apologetics. But even there, such usage was peripheral, and it was subordinated to the way of Orthodox thinking that is based on revelation, not on logic and reasoning.
There were two main attempted "Hellenizations" in the Church, and both were rejected by Orthodoxy. The first was Origen and his followers, who was a great thinker and a devout Christian who was willing to die for Christ. But, he ultimately placed pagan philosophical thought forms above Christian revelation. He was unwilling to be silent where revelation was silent. This led to ideas that were condemned as heresy.
St. Augustine did the same thing, and was the source of the second great Hellenization of Christianity. Again, he allow pagan philosophical ways of thinking and dialectic to dominate parts of his speculative writings, leading to all sorts of problems.
The difference between the West and the East was once described thusly:
1. We each had Fathers who toyed with neo-Platonic thought-forms: St. Augustine and St. Gregory of Nyssa.
2. But, the closer that St. Gregory of Nyssa got to the central part of theology -- the doctrine of God -- the more he leaned on revelation and abandoned neo-Platonic thought forms. By contrast, St. Augustine took neo-Platonism into the heart of Christian theology, and used it to define the very Trinity -- leading to the filioque.
3. The Eastern Church treated St. Gregory of Nyssa as an important Father, but one whose writings must be treated with great circumspection. Some of his writings are considered to be flat-out false (as in his speculations on universal salvation). By contrast, St. Augustine, some of whose writings are far more suspect than any of those of St. Gregory, was made the Father of Fathers in the West.
I do not hold truck with those who claim that St. Augustine is not a saint, and that everything he wrote was wrong or suspect. He was clearly a man of great piety and sanctity, and I have been greatly moved by some of his sermons, in particular.
The problem with St. Augustine is that those who hung on St. Augustine's every word uncritically ultimately gained the ascendency, while those who might have looked at his writings with great discernment and set apart those that are good from those that should be ignored as not being part of the consensus patrum were sidelined and eventually largely extinguished.
I agree that "The problem with Augustine is that those who hung on Augustine's every word uncritically ultimately gained the ascendency, while those who might have looked at his writings with great discernment and set apart those that are good from those that should be ignored as not being part of the consensus patrum were sidelined and eventually largely extinguished."
But the larger problem is that Augustine let loose the idea that every man may use "neo-Platonic thought forms"(the power of reasoning), instead of Tradition. It is that very dangerous idea that connects up directly with the present mess we see these days in the Episcopal Church. Without Augustine, there could be no Bishop Spong, no excommunicating of this layman near Syracuse, no Bishop Robinson and what he represents. What we see in ECUSA is the power to reason without any controls. This could not have happened without the triumph of Augustinian thinking in the West.
There was a time in ECUSA when reason was at least held back a bit by Tradition. When ECUSA ordained women as deacons and priests in the 70s, however, the more Tradition minded in ECUSA walked out. Thus there are no longer any controls left in ECUSA on Greek philosophical thought forms.
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