Skip to comments.Sunday Morning Agit-Prop
Posted on 05/05/2006 5:57:39 PM PDT by sionnsar
The Episcopal Church has prepared a series of bulletin inserts designed, purportedly, as a teaching tool. The inserts will, it is said, give your congregants information about the Episcopal Church and the General Convention, including how the convention makes its decisions.
In reality they seem to be subtle agit-prop for theological radicalism.
The slogan at the top of the first insert (PDF), to be used on Sunday May 7th, aptly describes the current condition of the Episcopal Church: Living the Questions.
The Episcopal Church is nothing if not open-minded.
Theological certainty has, in fact, become the contemporary bugbear of Episcopalian thought. For that reason Living the Questions is a great slogan. It suggests that answers are not so much to be found as questions are to be asked. Life is a search, a never-ending one. There is no certainty.
The reasoning is similar to the simple but popular there is no truth relativism that dominates the secular west and it fails for the same self-defeating reasons. If there is no truth then the statement that there is no truth cannot be true. In the same way, if nothing is certain then the definitive assertion that nothing is certain is certainly not true.
Living the Questions also, perhaps accurately, suggests that Episcopalians dont live in the Answer
Of course no one has all the answers and no one claims too. What Christians have claimed for 2000 years and continue to claim is that God has revealed the most important answers to the most important questions through his Son Jesus Christ and in the pages of Holy Writ.
Thats why we have crosses rather than question marks on our steeples.
God has provided the ultimate Answer to sin and death in Jesus death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead on the third day.
We can know this. This is certain. This is not a question to live into. It is a truth to live out.
But the slogan also summarizes the end result of a terribly misleading or shall we say "reimaged" post-Reformation Anglican history found in the first insert.
In the insert we learn that the Anglican via-media between the Reformation on the one hand and Roman Catholicism on the other consists primarily in (here's the Catholic part) being sacramental and (heres the Protestant part) questioning.
Of the two, "questioning" takes center stage in the insert's melodramatic storyline.
You see, Luther, and others protested what they saw as the churchs excesses and interference with peoples faith.
Get it? Luther's beef with Rome had little to do with biblical faithfulness or justification by faith. He was far more fired up about Roman (read "African') primates sticking their totalitarian noses in other peoples (read "other autocephalous province's") spiritual business, interfering with peoples faith.
The insert goes on to explain, more or less accurately, that Henry VIII broke with Rome because he wanted to centralize national power on the crown alone and seized upon the Reformation as the best vehicle to do so.
But then we get this:
His daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, devised religious and political arrangements that left the English church with both Roman Catholic and Protestant characteristics. Walking this middle way between the traditions makes us a sacramental church that promotes thoughtful debate about what God is calling us to do and be as followers of Christ.
Here is the rather odd bit of historical summarizing I referred to above. We Anglicans have Roman Catholic characteristics: we are a sacramental" church. And we have Protestant characteristics: we promote thoughtful debate about what God is calling us to do and be as followers of Christ.
Is that really what it means to be the via-media Church between Rome and Geneva? Is Anglicanism a debate club with bells and smells? What about the interplay between catholic polity and evangelical doctrine? No mention.
After a few sentences taking us from England to the New World, the insert reminds us that:
After the Revolution, its [the Anglican church in America's] members forged a church with no formal loyalties to England.
Hmm .now lets see I wonder why that editors decided to include that line hmm ?
Thus, the insert continues, we began with a question. Could a church change its loyalties in this world and still be loyal to Jesus? The Reformations answer was yes.
No mighty fortresses here. The Reformed side of Anglicanism according to this insert is mostly about doing your own thing and loving Jesus. Via media means living the questions. It also means that the Episcopal Church is free from any "loyalties in this world" most especially, the point seems to be, those loyalties that lie between us and the world-wide Anglican Communion.
What an oddly twisted and misleading summary of the evangelical/Protestant face of Anglicanism. Wheres Dr. Paul Zahl when you need him?
But it gets better,
It The Reformation] showed that we learn more about God when we ask our questions and listen for the answers in prayer and in the words of others in our communities.
What about the bible? What of Tradition? Neither of the two classic sources of Christian authority, both fundemental to the Reformation debate, are even mentioned in an insert that claims to explain Anglican via media.
Rather, according to the authors of this insert, the two primary sources of truth for Episcopalians are our prayers and the words of others in our communities.
Who might these others be? I'll hazard a guess that the authors of this insert are not referring to the orthodox people in the pews, nor do they mean the Network, nor the Global South, nor even the Archbishop of Canterbury to whom, after all, we owe no formal loyalties.
Rather, the "others" presently seem to be the radicals. The "others" seem currently to be those willing to push and push and push until the Church adopts their agendas and priorities or is laid waste.
But those who disagree should not leave (ie. take their pledge money away). They should stay (keep pledging) and live the questions because, after all, thats what Episcopalians do.
We began in a disagreement and our history tells us that the church survives disagreements when it stays focused on the importance of coming together to give thanks to God and to do Gods reconciling work.
These inserts are full of inaccuracies and half-truths designed to mislead average Episcopalians into believing that the decsions of GC2003 were in keeping with the historic nature of the Anglican expression of Christianity when in fact, as has been said before, they ripped the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level.
The purpose of these inserts, sadly, seems not to educate but to re-educate; to prepare the political ground for yet another "New Thing" that in all likelihood will destroy the last remaining vestiges of our "formal loyalties" not only to Canterbury but to Christendom itself.
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