March 23, 2017

December 14, 2010

[Bumped Obvious Reasons] The Anglican Consultative Council’s Standing Committee: Who Is Janet Trisk?

As most know, Janet Trisk—a Caucasian lawyer turned Anglican priest from South Africa—was recently appointed to the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, one of the four Instruments of Communion.

Already well known as a TEC-gospel-supporting activist, who proposed the amendment to remove Section Four at the Jamaica meeting of the Standing Committee and engaged in the political activism all of us are familiar with in order to attempt to strip the Covenant of enforcement ability, the curious might wonder if there is more to learn about Trisk. And there is.

First, here are the basics of her bio, as found over on the Anglican Communion website:

Janet is a South African and a lecturer in Systematic Theology and Spirituality at the College of the Transfiguration, Grahamstown, South Africa. She is ordained and served for five years in parish ministry. She represented the ACSA at the ACC meeting in 2005. Before training for the ministry, Janet was a lawyer. Her academic interests include women’s theologies, the construction of identity and Christian anthropology. She holds a Masters degree from the University of Cape Town. Her doctoral studies keep getting postponed by activities such as this study process!

Since this bio was written, Trisk has left the College of the Transfiguration as lecturer. It now appears that she is the “Rector of the Parish of St David, Prestbury in Pietermaritzburg, in the Diocese of Natal.”

One can note in her bio and other writings the usual liberal interests—“women’s theologies” [as opposed to truthful theologies, I suppose, and with the typical implication that the theologies found in Holy Scripture are by nature “men’s” theologies]—as well as her need to mention that, though she does not yet have a doctorate, she certainly will acquire one soon if she can be left alone long enough to pursue it. It’s always interesting to view what someone wants put into their biography—and the fact that she is engaged in “doctoral studies” was obviously important to Trisk to communicate.

Trisk is the author or co-author of a number of revisionist statements, journal articles, and reviews of various books, much of those surrounding the issue of homosexuality, and others surrounding the topic of… well, I’ll get to that in a moment.

For starters, she helped create and promote this statement for South African Anglicans that asserted in part: “the time has come to give space for such diversity [of conviction regarding the blessing of same sex unions]” and

“There are members within our church who believe in good faith and conscience that God accepts them as gay, and further that God blesses their commitment to faithful relationship. We believe that our church should be open to such convictions… “

She engaged in interviewing various Anglican gays and documenting those interviews with a purpose of countering the St. Andrew’s Day Statement, in particular countering this paragraph in the St. Andrew’s Day Statement:

There can be no description of human reality, in general or in particular, outside the reality in Christ. We must be on guard, therefore, against constructing any other ground for our identities than the redeemed humanity given us in him. Those who understand themselves as homosexuals, no more and no less than those who do not, are liable to false understandings based on personal or family histories, emotional dispositions, social settings, and solidarities formed by common experiences or ambitions. Our sexual affections can no more define who we are than can our class, race or nationality. At the deepest ontological level, therefore, there is no such thing as ‘a’ homosexual or ‘a’ heterosexual; there are human beings, male and female, called to redeemed humanity in Christ, endowed with a complex variety of emotional potentialities and threatened by a complex variety of forms of alienation.

She chaired a discussion on Spirituality and Sexuality at a South African festival at which she commented:

“It is too simplistic to say African culture doesn’t accept homosexuality.

It cannot be denied that for some younger black people, it is becoming easier to come out”. But, aside from some black communities seeing it as taboo, Trisk says that the Church, through a “denial of the body, and denial of sexuality” has been reluctant to come to terms with gayness.

“Ultimately we are a long way from where our Constitution would like us to be,” says Trisk.

Of course, she’s hard at work on the now-discredited, thoroughly propagandistic, and corrupt Continuing Indaba movement:

The group of women and men was able to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of Indaba in South African political life. The women in particular reflected upon the frequent experience of being ignored in a process that was intended to be inclusive. The group identified particular areas on which they would work to guide Continuing Indaba in the Communion. Janet Trisk, the group convenor, will develop a paper on power, while and Kevin David, Youth Co-Ordinator of the Diocese of Mauritius in the Provice of the Indian Ocean, is to write on the significance of Continuing Indaba for young people.

She co-authored an article for the Journal of Anglican Studies titled “Theological Education and Anglican Identity in South Africa”—here is the abstract for that article:

Theological education should take full account of the context in which it operates and authors share a commitment to a broadly defined liberation theology which takes the experience of the poor as its starting point. Focus is on the College of the Transfiguration in Grahamstown, a city with an unemployment rate of over 50 percent. The College supports not only theological education but also integrates ministerial and spiritual formation. The political context of South Africa has influenced the shape of theology even though students come from many other places. The contextualization thrust of the theology is shaped by a commitment to Outcomes Based Education. Anglican studies curriculum is shaped by this method and aims for a capacity to describe such things as Anglican identity, polity and beliefs. This is carried out in the absence of any sustained robust discourse on Anglican identity in the Anglican Communion.

Here’s another article she authored for yet another journal:

“One of the key foci in the work of Grace Jantzen is an investigation of how we speak about God and who does the speaking. In this article I describe two ideas she investigates, namely God as embodied and God as the divine horizon. A sub-theme is Jantzen’s critique of the Western preoccupation with mortality, death and violence and her suggestion that we instead look for signs and metaphors of flourishing, ‘springs of newness and beauty’.”

There is the usual and ubiquitous paean to feminist theology:

“This is a much-needed introduction to feminist theology through the writings, primarily, of women in Africa as well as the rest of the two-thirds world. Susan Rakoczy writes out of a profoundly scholarly position, but in language that is accessible to those who have not had the benefit of the same background. Her own deep spirituality permeates the work, lending it an engagingly personal dimension.”

And then there is her interesting Eucharistic and Christological “theology”—found in her very own Eucharistic Prayer, in which she asserts that we find God in ourselves, and that Jesus was important because…: “We praise you that in Jesus Christ you make known to us the wonder and richness of our humanity.”

Finally… there are several book reviews by Trisk on the website for the “Sea of Faith Network”.

Here is one review on The Greening of Christianity. Note carefully this little paragraph in her book review which gives us a hint of a far more interesting aspect of Trisk than simply her garden-variety revisionist activism:

The first chapter deals with the frightening ecological crisis which faces us. The second traces the links between monotheism and the crisis. The third chapter outlines some ethical responses open to Christians. The fourth chapter is a creative re-imagining of Christian festivals in such a way that they may offer a liturgical basis for an ecological Christian practice.

Here is her review of Paradise on Earth, which includes enthusiastic praise, some typically shallow effusions about collectivism and liberation theology, and some fancies about utopia on earth:

I want so much to believe in Paradise on earth. I also wonder to what extent it is as remote as any other Paradise for which humanity has searched? This should not prevent us from the quest though. Perhaps we will even discover that the quest itself is Paradise.

Here is her rather breathless review of the book Christianity Without God, from which review I have excerpted these comments:

Christianity Without God examines whether it is possible to conceive of Christianity without the traditional theistic belief in God. Geering contends that this is not only possible but that Christianity, since its very origins, was moving towards the rejection of theism, and that in our time not only it is possible to conceive of non-theistic Christianity, but that Christianity should become so. If debates in the SOF Network are anything to go by, this question will be keenly followed by a number of Seafarers.

Geering argues that the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation form the basis for the Christian departure from theism. These inter-related doctrines contradict traditional Jewish monotheism, which sets God against humanity. Geering’s argument of how the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity spelled the beginning of the end of theism is systematic, scholarly and extremely wide-ranging…

Such a reading of Jesus, of course, has profound implications for the church which has modelled itself on imperial hierarchies, claiming the Lord Jesus and his Father God as the source of power and authority for Christian leaders. Geering notes that for “Christianity without God” there is no place for the traditional institutional church, which owes more to the Roman Empire than to Jesus. What does still have a place, he suggests, is the simple gathering of people for a meal, sharing of stories and support, and ritual and festivals celebrating all we have come to value in human existence.

But just what is this “Sea of Faith Network” for whose website Janet Trisk writes book reviews?

It’s an interesting organization founded in the 1980s in the UK based on the writings of Don Cupitt, and with networks in other countries, including New Zealand and Australia. What does the Sea of Faith Network believe? Let’s hear it straight from the website of the Sea of Faith Network:

Its stated aim is to ‘explore and promote religious faith as a human creation’...

SoF is most closely associated with the non-realist approach to religion. This refers to the belief that God has no ‘real’, objective or empirical existence, independent of human language and culture; God is ‘real’ in the sense that he is a potent symbol, metaphor or projection, but He has no objective existence outside and beyond the practice of religion. Non-realism therefore entails a rejection of all supernaturalism - miracles, afterlife and the agency of spirits.

‘God is the sum of our values, representing to us their ideal unity, their claims upon us and their creative power’. (Taking Leave of God, Don Cupitt, SCM, 1980)

Cupitt calls this ‘a voluntarist interpretation of faith’: ‘a fully demythologized version of Christianity’. It entails the claim that even after we have given up the idea that religious beliefs can be grounded in anything beyond the human realm, religion can still be believed and practiced in new ways.

Obviously, the idea that God is nothing more than a human construct, that “He” is nothing more than a potent symbol, and that “He” has no real objective existence is an interesting one, albeit one held by quite a number of atheists and agnostics. Probably the place where Sea of Faith gains in significance is in its interest in and engagement with religion and religious faith, despite its assertions that God is merely a human construct.

The Sea of Faith Network has various local/regional groups in the UK, a quarterly magazine titled Sofia, and an annual conference—at the 2010 conference a part of the agenda was an outdoors “pagan ritual.”

The Sea of Faith Network has spread. From the New Zealand website we learn:

“While there is no formal affiliation between the SOF Networks in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and the United States, these country networks make up an informal worldwide “network of networks” regularly exchanging newsletter material and, on occasions, guest speakers. In addition, members of an internet discussion group of up to about 100 Sea of Faith members from many countries exchange points of view.”

And from the UK website we learn that as of 2004 there are some 2000 members of the SoF Network.

A BBC article from 1999 also takes note of the Sea of Faith network, pointing out that some clergy are members of the Sea of Faith Network while maintaining leadership also in Christian churches, such as the Church of England. The BBC appears to recognize just how unsustainable and lacking in integrity those dual memberships and belief systems must be:

It is some years since David Jenkins, then Bishop of Durham, hit the headlines for saying he did not believe in the physical resurrection of Christ, or the virgin birth.

But the bishop was not alone in thinking things which Church authorities find unpalatable.

There is in particular one group, called Sea of Faith, which has attracted names such as “Godless vicars” and “atheist priests”. It claims it has up to 50 vicars and some Roman Catholic priests in its membership, as well as rank and file church members.

It is easy to see why the organisation has been controversial. Although it has about 700 members in the UK, it draws on several denominations and also other religions. But what binds the members together is that they share the view that religion is a “human creation”.

Some of its members go further and believe that God is also a human creation - a metaphor for human values such as love and forgiveness.

In other words, some of them believe there is no such thing as God in the traditional sense of an independent being.

The group is all the more controversial because some of its members decide to stay within the Church, even as vicars, and to continue to call themselves Christians.

A wikipedia article on the Sea of Faith Network notes “scattered membership in the USA, Northern Ireland, South Africa, France and The Netherlands.”

But what has this to do with Janet Trisk, recently appointed member of the Anglican Consultative Council’s Steering Committee? While it’s clear that she is a progressive/revisionist activist of the most extreme, the Sea of Faith Network is certainly a few steps beyond revisionist Anglican activism—beyond support for non-celibate gay relationships and their affirmation, beyond feminist Marxist liberation theology, beyond manipulation of political processes at ACC meetings, beyond heretical Christology. Other than the Sea of Faith’s interest in the use of religion, it would be hard to find a more antithetically religious organization than one that denies the objective existence of God.

And just because Janet Trisk has had some book reviews posted on the Sea of Faith Network doesn’t mean she’s a member of such an interesting, albeit godless, organization.

But the shocking fact is that Janet Trisk is a member of the Sea of Faith Network. In her review—yet another book review—posted on the Sea of Faith Network site of New Zealand, she is clearly named as a member of the Sea of Faith Network in South Africa.

And in her Amazon review of a book about Don Cupitt, around whose ideas the Sea of Faith Network was founded, Trisk even addresses the idea of church membership and maintaining Cupitt’s positions of “anti-realism,” which recall “refers to the belief that God has no ‘real’, objective or empirical existence, independent of human language and culture”:

“Having outlined the five phases of Cupitt’s ethical journey (in part 1) the author goes on in part 2 to discuss the implications of Cupitt’s ethical positions, especially insofar as they may or may not be compatible with church membership…

In a time when we are faced with religious fundamentalism and nihilism as the two sides of a global coin, Cupitt’s `solar’ ethics offers a lively and life-affirming alternative. For those who don’t have the time to read Cupitt’s prolific writing, “Surfing” is an excellent introduction to one of the most innovative religious thinkers of our time. However, “Surfing” is not just a book about Cupitt. It also stands as an insistent plea for anyone interested in exploring the ethical and ecclesial possibilities of being both anti-realist and a member of the church to investigate the questions for oneself and not to accept the empty rhetoric or of fundamentalism and nihilism.

So this is where we are with the latest member of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council.

Janet Trisk is a member of the Sea of Faith Network, which is an organization of people who, despite their varied church memberships, believes that God has no real objective existence. He is merely a human construct and a potent symbol.

Janet Trisk is an appointed member of one of the most powerful bodies in the Anglican Communion. To quote the Sea of Faith Network’s own website, her beliefs entail “the claim that even after we have given up the idea that religious beliefs can be grounded in anything beyond the human realm, religion can still be believed and practiced in new ways.”

It appears that Ms. Trisk is determined to show us all the “new ways” that “religion can still be believed and practiced” within the Anglican Communion.

I have often said over the years that the current leaders of The Episcopal Church can no longer surprise me.

It seems that I will have to acquire that attitude about the Anglican Communion as well.

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[1] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-16-2010 at 08:25 AM · [top]

Hmm, I wonder if she and KJS are friends?  They think alike.

[2] Posted by cennydd13 on 8-16-2010 at 08:35 AM · [top]

Her Eucharistic prayer, celebrated in the Diocese of Virginia, makes no reference to the cross.  I guess that’s part of being “anti-realist.”  It even uses the words “new age.”  There are so many questionable aspects of this Eucharistic prayer (words of institution, anamnesis, rejection of Trinitarian names for God), it is suspect even to my untrained eye. 
From the acknowledgements, I gather it is just the Eucharistic prayer, not the whole liturgy, that is Rev. Trisk’s.  I think it would be better termed a Eucharistic simulacrum.

[3] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 8-16-2010 at 09:06 AM · [top]

Wow!  All of this is way beyond the typical liberal revisionism.  And I agree with Jill, that Eucharistic prayer is quite a piece of disturbing work.  Plus, I never knew that Jesus taught us to pray words that apparently were lost to the Church until the New Zealand Prayer Book was published.

[4] Posted by Creedal Christian on 8-16-2010 at 09:37 AM · [top]

“Into a bar walks a priest that doesn’t believe in God.”

It sounds like the intro to a bad joke, doesn’t it?  But in all seriousness, this is truly terrifying.  This woman, Lord have mercy on her, is in a position of power and decision making in the Anglican communion itself.  And she doesn’t believe in the existence of God.

[5] Posted by Dalton on 8-16-2010 at 09:41 AM · [top]

I am saddened to admit that Ms. Trisk’s thinking is neither shocking nor even unexpected.  It is the natural, logical conclusion to a world view which denies that we are born corrupted by sin and in need of a Savior.  I find the following quote significant:
“There are members within our church who believe in good faith and conscience that God accepts them as gay, and further that God blesses their commitment to faithful relationship. We believe that our church should be open to such convictions… “
Conscience without submission to or even acknowledgement of a transcendent Moral Being is really nothing more than individual preference run amuck.  To speak of being faithful to one’s conscience means nothing if that conscience is not informed and enlightened by some greater standard.  Hitler’s conscience led him to believe Jews were less than human, and true to his conscience, he acted by trying to eradicate the Jews.
The failings represented by Ms. Trisk and her ilk reflect the greater failings of the church (writ large) to preach the Gospel as it is revealed in Holy Scripture.  We are sinners in need of a Savior.  We are destitute, poor, and naked.  If we are to be saved, we must be saved from something.  For Ms. Frisk to state that we should respect and embrace people only because they are true to their own conscience she has by definition undercut the need for a Savior and thereby she has undercut the Gospel itself.  Her use of Christian lingo and garb must be seen as nothing more than convenient tools for her to propogate her un-Christian world views.  Most sad of all, she effectively denies to her parishioners that they are in sin and in need of a Savior.  The place where the Gospel should be proclaimed has become a place where the Gospel is suppressed.
Interesting (at least to me) that this morning I read Jeremiah Ch. 44, including verse 25, in which the people in shocking defiance to God vow that they will continue their sin notwithstanding God’s prophetic warnings.  I suppose this points up the fact that there really are no new sins or new schemes of assault against God’s acts of kindness.  Of course, we know what result follows.
Lord, have mercy.

[6] Posted by BAMAnglican on 8-16-2010 at 09:46 AM · [top]

We have found our god and he/she is us.

[7] Posted by Judith L on 8-16-2010 at 09:49 AM · [top]

We in the Communion are no longer Trinitarian in practice.  Our Christology, in practice, has more in common with Muslims, Mormons, agnostics and atheists than those people who are commonly known as “Christians” (our Anglican word “Christian” has a different meaning from the common meaning; it means, roughly, anyone who is aware that a man named Jesus lived during the first century.  Like members of any other cult, we are re-defining words to make our reality more comfortable for ourselves).

I think it is clear that we MUST: withdraw unilaterally from all ecumenical relations, after warning our ecumenical partners of the state where we find ourselves.  We are not who we say we are.  This stuff “spills over.”  We need to get out for the sake of those other churches who are confidently Trinitarian in practice.

Thanks, Sarah, for this great bit of research.

[8] Posted by Wilf on 8-16-2010 at 09:49 AM · [top]


A member of the Anglican Consultative Council promotes the idea of Jesus without God, and thinks the ideal expression of the faith is a dinner party where we sit around telling stories about how wonderful we are.

That’s just great.

[9] Posted by Greg Griffith on 8-16-2010 at 10:03 AM · [top]

It’s clear that the Anglican Communion is severely infected.

It’s also clear that conservative primates are dissociating themselves from the instruments of unity, just as conservative bishops dissociated from TEC, with some leaving (and taking dioceses with them).

So, Ole Rafe (who is not a prophet) will prophesy anyway:

One might predict a formal schism in the Anglican Communion, with US conservatives aligning with the separating conservative group. I had guessed that ACNA might end up getting recognition as a second AC province, but maybe that won’t happen now.

That would make for a rather tiny Anglican Communion in a few short years.

I think that the conservative primates can stop this from happening, but I wonder whether they will even try. Has the persistence of the followers of the homosexual agenda worn them down?

Rowan Williams will indeed have a legacy for the church history books. And perhaps KJS will be the next Archbishopess of Canterbury, or at least, head of the revisionist (itty-bitty) Anglican Communion. Maybe that’s what she set her sights on after the Dar Es Salaam meeting.

What’s now called the “Church of England” would fracture into multiple pieces: 1) a liberal (and stiil official, that is, established) CoE aligned with Canterbury and York, and with TEC; 2) a chunk being absorbed into popery under the Bishop of Rome; 3) and another chunk separate from the established CoE but Anglican in its nature, and somehow aligned with other worldwide conservative groups.

Schism makes the devil’s work so much easier.

[10] Posted by Ralph on 8-16-2010 at 10:08 AM · [top]

I remember a verse from a great hymn, which goes like this:  “In the Cross of Christ I Glory.”  Something that Ms Trisk seems to have forgotten.

[11] Posted by cennydd13 on 8-16-2010 at 10:09 AM · [top]

“Women’s theology,” as opposed to catholic theology I would guess is the antitheses. Catholic theology, unlike women’s theology is for all of God’s children regardless of gender.

Maybe we should have “sinister theology”—i.e., for left handed people—as apposed to “right theology.” Then you could have “sinister women’s theology” for left handed women, “right women’s theology,” “sinister men’s theology,” and “right men’s theology.” One could subdivide theology for racial groups, national groups, eye color, hair color, age. The possibilities are infinite.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28 RSV)

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Eph 4:4-6 RSV)

“Give me that old time religion. If it was good enough for Paul, it is good enough for me.”

[12] Posted by Septuagenarian on 8-16-2010 at 10:11 AM · [top]

10.  Ralph, I don’t think we’re in much of a hurry to be formally accepted into the AC at the moment….we’re already there ‘through the back door,’ so to speak, or at least four of our dioceses are, but we can wait, I think.  There’s no hurry.

[13] Posted by cennydd13 on 8-16-2010 at 10:15 AM · [top]

That Eucharistic Prayer is really reprehensible. Who allowed itsusage, where and when, please, that I may inquire of that authority , why? Thank you.

[14] Posted by sejanus on 8-16-2010 at 10:20 AM · [top]

I just don’t get why people like Janet Trisk have any interest in remaining priests and/or bishops in a Christian denomination at all.  The Christian faith has nothing to do with what they believe.  They are constantly trying to jam a square peg into a round hole every day of their ordained lives.  Either you’re Christian or you’re pagan.  Who would want to try to be both day in and day out??

[15] Posted by veritas2007 on 8-16-2010 at 10:21 AM · [top]

It slightly baffles me how a former college lecturer working for her doctorate and now ordinary parish priest finds herself a member of the most powerful body in the Anglican Communion.Is it simply for her legal background combined with an ultra progressive theology?

[16] Posted by driver8 on 8-16-2010 at 10:26 AM · [top]

Ask KJS for the answer.

[17] Posted by cennydd13 on 8-16-2010 at 10:28 AM · [top]

I’m afraid I need to pick up the cloak of the devil’s advocate here - is the main evidence we have that Canon Trisk is a officially a member of the Sea of Faith network, the three reviews she’s penned which are on the SoF site?  One could come up with “alternative” hypotheses about how these reviews were posted there without her officially being a Network member.

I am guessing that in a few days she will announce that she is not a member of the SoF network; quite possibly even some official representative of SoF will declare that she is not a member (or perhaps even, that she never was a member), and that there will be no further investigation of this issue.

An impartial source which swears to secrecy beyond the “was she or was she not a member” could be given the latest list of members and officers and do some research to see if such claims truly are justified.  Given the very very weighty charge here - meddling in the SC and appointment of a non-Trinitarian cleric to the body in order to do so - such an investigation would be worth the time, manpower, and expenses.

I do hope that it is becoming increasingly clear to Anglicans just how utterly sick and hideous we Anglicans are.

[18] Posted by Wilf on 8-16-2010 at 10:28 AM · [top]

I watched Janet Trisk moving Archbishop Aspinall’s last minute and probably illegal wrecking motion at Jamaica.  Aspinall is in the Standing Committee.  I suppose the question is how deep do these Sea of Faith links go among the revisionists who dominate it.  Is Aspinall a member of Sea of Faith?  Was this a reward for her assistance at Jamaica?

Even more extraordinary, is when it became clear that she had been appointed illegally under the existing constitution in December, the extraordinary effort on behalf of the ABC and John Rees to rush through the new “Articles” into operation so that the Standing Committee, could waive their earlier illegal action.  A lot of effort has gone into getting Janet Trisk, not to mention Ian Douglas seated.

Not a promising start for the “Standing Committee”, its members but the culmination of the wretched shenannigans from Lambeth Palace and St Andrew’s House.  Who else, one wonders is a member of the Sea of Faith Network?

Well done Sarah and Standfirm.

[19] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 8-16-2010 at 10:32 AM · [top]

Following Greg’s posting, the question is which is easier - fight to retain what we have or start over with a “continuing” church?
As a weary laymember, following the Church of England General Synod debacle in July, I would love to be part of a church where the brethren “were of one mind.”
The Bishop of Southwark commented on the radio a few months ago, when it was first suggested that some people might move to Rome, said “They needn’t think they can take their churches with them.” Echoes of the situation in T.E.C.
I admire what AC-NA are doing! What do you think? Should Bible-believing Anglicans in England plan to separate - or not?

[20] Posted by FrNigel on 8-16-2010 at 10:34 AM · [top]

She is just fullfilling scripture in the same vain as KJS.  Read the Letter of Jude for clarification.  This is the time we have been called to serve in, and for a real reason.  These are matters of Salvation to us all.

Maranatha Lord Jesus!

[21] Posted by humble country parson on 8-16-2010 at 10:37 AM · [top]

Sarah’s article addresses the issue of whether Janet Trisk is a member of the Sea of Faith Network:

But the shocking fact is that Janet Trisk is a member of the Sea of Faith Network. In her review—yet another book review— posted on the Sea of Faith Network site of New Zealand, she is clearly named as a member of the Sea of Faith Network in South Africa.

I don’t agree with your grim view of the whole of the Anglican Communion, but there is clearly a nest of revisionists, nay atheists, working at the centre of the liberal establishment to subvert it.

[22] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 8-16-2010 at 10:39 AM · [top]

14.  Sejanus, I agree that this ‘prayer’ is reprehensible, and for its authorship, I’d suggest that perhaps you need look no further than KJS for the answer to your question.

[23] Posted by cennydd13 on 8-16-2010 at 10:44 AM · [top]

Fr. Nigel

I’m nothing more than a young layman here in the US (with ACNA), so I’m by no means an expert, but personally, I think only one of two things will get anything accomplished in the situation in England.

One, there is a mass seperation—composed of both seperating Anglo-Catholics, Evangelicals, and other conservatives/traditionalists and those departing for Rome under the ordinariate—from the Church of England, leaving only the extreme liberals and revisionists in charge of a tiny, fairly harmless church while the others continue about the business of worship and evangelization with their own structures (perhaps an English equivalent of ACNA).

Or, secondly, it could be that the conservatives “take back” the Church of England.  This is definitely the more difficult of the two, I think, and can’t be done with just talk and debate.  That much has already been proven.  As to how they would go about this, I’m not sure, but it might require raising a little Hell (no pun intended) and some more forceful alienation of the revisionists and liberals.

[24] Posted by Dalton on 8-16-2010 at 10:50 AM · [top]

RE: “I am guessing that in a few days she will announce that she is not a member of the SoF network; quite possibly even some official representative of SoF will declare that she is not a member (or perhaps even, that she never was a member), and that there will be no further investigation of this issue.”

Hi Wilf—they’d have to claim that the Sea of Faith website is lying when it says “It is by Janet Trisk, a member of the Sea of Faith Network in South Africa.”

But you bring up a good point—how to spin this for the Trisk-supporters?

I’ve come up with several ideas for them. 

1) She could say “ah, that membership was long long long ago back in the high old heady days of my misspent Anglican youth.”

The problem is that that would not explain her 2005 Amazon review in which she clearly asserts that “[the book] also stands as an insistent plea for anyone interested in exploring the ethical and ecclesial possibilities of being both anti-realist and a member of the church to investigate the questions for oneself and not to accept the empty rhetoric or of fundamentalism and nihilism.”

So she clearly as recently as 2005 stood for not being fundamentalist and being “both anti-realist and a member of the church.”

2) She could say “you have misinterpreted this loving, inclusive community’s beliefs and just because I am a member doesn’t mean I actually believe that this community asserts it believes on its very own website.”

That’s a possibility I suppose.

3) She could say “the Sea of Faith Network is one of the most Anglican communities I know.  It is outrageous that some homophobic fundamentalists would make the astounding claim that one could not be a committed Anglican while also believing that God is not an objective empirical reality but instead a human construct.  Fortunately most real Anglicans understand the importance of diversity of belief in our autonomous communion of provinces.”

My suspicion is that the end defense/spin of the Trisk membership in the Sea of Faith Network will be a somewhat schizophrenic waffling between options #2 and #3.

A sort of “Just because I am a member I don’t necessarily believe all that this organization teaches and HOW DARE YOU IMPLY THAT ANGLICANS CANNOT BE NON-REALISTS” sort of thing.

[25] Posted by Sarah on 8-16-2010 at 11:10 AM · [top]

The eucharistic prayer is hilarious. It’s like the very worst teenage poetry, all didactic abstraction and exhortation. I suspect it really does quite a lot of heterodox theology.

FWIW the late Grace Jantzen upon whom Canon Trisk has written was a distinguished queer/feminist philosopher of religion. At one point, if I recall rightly, she was something like a pantheist. (Notice the abstract of Trisk’s article discusses “God as embodied” - for Jantzen, as I remember it is the world that is the body of God. I think it’s fair to say that such a view is typically thought heretical within the Christian tradition).

[26] Posted by driver8 on 8-16-2010 at 11:22 AM · [top]

#15 asks why Trisk and other heretics, etc remain in a Christian denomination.  May I suggest they like the pay, the perks, and being in the controversial spotlight?  After all, in an atheistic group they would just be another atheist.

[27] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 8-16-2010 at 12:18 PM · [top]

Janet Trisk, the group convenor, will develop a paper on power,

How appropriate, the only thing revisionists do well is infiltrate and achieve power.

[28] Posted by Betty See on 8-16-2010 at 12:37 PM · [top]

#15 and #27 - no it’s not about perks, pay or being in the spotlight.  Trisk and many other revisionists are ex-lawyers and I am sure they would be paid better with more perks in that field.  They could also have greater spotlight in other fields as well - the reality is that outside of a very small group of interested persons, there just isn’t much general public interest in Anglicanism and even less in the convoluted politicking of the either TEC or the AC.

So why would Trisk and other non-Christians (defining Christian here in its normal, orthodox sense) desire so much to be involved in positions of power in a Christian church?  Why would she wish to be in positions of power such that she could subvert the Christian mission of a erstwhile Christian Church?  Why indeed?

This isn’t about revisionists wanting a good paying job or perks or the spotlight.  This is about a certain faction wanting to infiltrate a Christian organization and subvert its Christian mission so that it can be a useful political tool in service of their agenda.

[29] Posted by jamesw on 8-16-2010 at 12:40 PM · [top]

There have been so many comments about the Eucharistic Prayer that I was prompted to go read it—and the entire service bulletin.

One does wonder who in Virginia authorized the entire service. There was a time when TEC practiced the Common Prayer and such nonsense as this was a presentable violation of ordination vows, of doctrine, discipline and worship. Who dreamed up that bizarre “Lord’s Prayer.”

Perhaps the one note of hope is that the financial support of the parish is down from the previous year and even worse compared to this year’s budget and that the parish (already with $1.7 million in debt) is running a deficit.

The opening “Signs of the end time” are appropriate, as was the closing hymn.


[30] Posted by Septuagenarian on 8-16-2010 at 12:41 PM · [top]

asks why Trisk and other heretics, etc remain in a Christian denomination.  May I suggest they like the pay,

Yes, we really must take it upon ourselves to see to it that our money stops going to pay heretics to destroy our Lord’s Church.  That is indeed the work they are doing for the salary.  If we stop paying them, they may decide to take up another, less destructive, line of work.

[31] Posted by tjmcmahon on 8-16-2010 at 12:43 PM · [top]

driver8, #25, I understand you are using the word hilarious in a sarcastic vein, nonetheless, Canon (sic) Trisk’s Eucharistic prayer is woeful, New Age-ish, sloppy, anti-Church, angst-ridden, sentimental, panentheistic, juvenile prose.  Grading it for a creative writing course, I’d be inclined to give it a D-.  It couldn’t even serve as scrap paper at my parish, much less be printed and used at an actual celebration of Holy Eucharist.

She and those who appointed her to the SC ought to all be brought up on abandonment of communion, nay heresy, charges, as it seems they all de facto violate the open renunciation clause.  Of course, we know this won’t happen in an abjectly averse to discipline dis-organization such as the current AC.

[32] Posted by Athanasius Returns on 8-16-2010 at 12:46 PM · [top]

I have an honest and personal question prompted by a paragraph in this post: the one noting negatively that the Rev. Trisk has long been “ABD,” or “all but dissertation” for a Ph.D.

I’m in the same position for some of the same reasons she cites, except that I admit that I quite like being involved in all of these ministries have me talking with people and talking with them about how the church can better serve God in the world than they have me in libraries looking at 19th-century books in German. There is some chance I will file my dissertation at some point, but right now I’m finishing up a book that takes what I’ve been studying all these years and puts it in terms specifically designed for people for whom academic writing doesn’t meet their needs. I think I’d be happy doing that kind of writing forever, in which case I’m pretty sure I’ll never submit something that will pass as a Ph.D. dissertation for my committee (not because of what I have to say about Paul, but because I don’t think I have the patience to write a history of scholarship chapter that’s all about what obscure modernist German scholars have said that nobody’s heard of and didn’t influence me. I’d rather write *readable* books.

So, I never know quite what to put in the author bios when I write. I could say I’m a “M.Phil. at St. Andrews in New Testament, was a Yale Fellow in NT, and have a C.Phil. in church history from U.C.L.A.” Problem is that no one knows what a “C.Phil.” is, so editors pretty much always recommend changing it to “Ph.D. candidate,” which people do understand, but which does sound like I have an active intention to file my dissertation within, say, a year or so.

It’s a challenge to make these things as brief as they have to be and still say accurately what my academic status is. I have taught graduate students in NT and church history, so I am doing things that require more than a masters’, and those who are familiar with my work (though I know most here don’t agree with a lot of it) know at least, I think, that what I write reflects way more than three years or so of research.

So, if anyone has any suggestions for the next time I submit an author’s bio, please let me know!

[33] Posted by Sarah Dylan Breuer on 8-16-2010 at 12:53 PM · [top]

Hi Sarah Dylan Breuer,

I don’t see that she is “ABD” in her bio above, and had that been the case, I wouldn’t have noted the importance of her letting everybody know that her “doctoral studies keep getting postponed.”  That is suitably vague enough to cause me to wonder what doctoral studies have taken place, what doctoral studies have yet to be taken, and where and in what subject are the doctoral studies being undertaken.  In other words, the line above in her bio is a throw-away line telling me nothing.

If one is ABD, what I would say for your bio is this: “Ms. Dylan Breuer’s PhD studies were in [xyz subject] at [xyz school] but she has not yet completed her dissertation.”

That would actually tell me that you have completed the classroom work of your PhD in xyz topic and at xyz school while also informing me that you have not completed a dissertation. 

Nevertheless, the throwaway line in her bio pales in significance to me compared to her “non-realist” approach to religion and the fact that a member of a non-realist organization is actually serving on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council.

Just out of curiosity—by any chance are you a member of the Sea of Faith Network or a non-realist, helpfully defined above by the Sea of Faith Network website?

I’m now wondering if this is something that I naively thought even beyond the pale for Anglican revisionist activists.  But having mulled over this whole issue for 24 hours am wondering if, in fact, this is actually a common malady.

[34] Posted by Sarah on 8-16-2010 at 01:06 PM · [top]

Of course it depends where she is doing her doctorate. Does anyone know?

ABD doesn’t mean anything, say in the UK system, since a humanities doctorate consists entirely in the writing of the dissertation.

[35] Posted by driver8 on 8-16-2010 at 01:14 PM · [top]

Sarah, my thanks to you for a very well researched and highly informative article.

[36] Posted by George Hood on 8-16-2010 at 01:19 PM · [top]

I tend to agree with jamesw #29. What drives these people to become active in church politics? After all, they do seem to float to the surface fairly frequently. Perhaps for some the goal is not to spread a movement, but to gain acceptance for their own individual belief system. This of course ultimately leads to acceptance of the movement if and when such a movement organizes.

[37] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 8-16-2010 at 01:21 PM · [top]

#34 Sarah: Thanks—that’s very helpful. So I’ll stick with “Ph.D. candidate,” which is a quick phrase that says (in a U.S. context) that I did all coursework, passed my comprehensive exams, and am “just” a dissertation short of a Ph.D. I hadn’t thought about how Trisk’s wording could mean that she keeps meaning to apply to start a Ph.D. but hasn’t. I am guessing from her experience as a lecturer and her publication history that she has done substantial graduate work. As for the “Sea of Faith” stuff, this is the first I’ve heard of it, and it doesn’t sound like something I’d associate myself with. I have no interest at all in “demythologizing” Christianity; that whole impulse strikes me as very much a modernist appeal that’s slipped into irrelevance. I’m all for holy mysteries, and for maintaining continuity with the faith of pre-modern Christians by taking their perspective, to the best we can understand it, seriously. BTW, the terminology of “non-realist” strikes me at first hearing as very sloppy and very hard to defend. Philosophically, I think it’s much easier to argue that something is real than it is to argue that we can know it isn’t. So I don’t know anything about this stuff, and it’s unlikely I’ll learn much more about it; there are too many other kinds of theology that are much closer to my training and also seem much more edifying for Christians (at the very least, for my Christian walk).

#35 driver8: It’s true that in both English and Scottish systems (which differ from one another in many other ways), a Ph.D. consists entirely of the dissertation. I’m not familiar with the South African system, though, which may be very different from both of the above.

[38] Posted by Sarah Dylan Breuer on 8-16-2010 at 01:31 PM · [top]

(38) Sarah Dylan Breuer wrote:

I have no interest at all in “demythologizing” Christianity

Sarah: the “myth”, as you say, is the truth. There is nothing to be “de-anythinged”.

As for the “holy mysteries”, we who believe do not simply see them as links by which we maintain some form of connectivity with earlier believers.

[39] Posted by George Hood on 8-16-2010 at 01:42 PM · [top]

Non-realism is a standard term in philosophy/philosophical theology:

Its use in theology was popularized by Cambridge theologian Don Cupitt ( The Sea of Faith Network was initially founded in response a 1980s book and TV show by Cupitt. (

[40] Posted by driver8 on 8-16-2010 at 01:43 PM · [top]

#39 George: Thanks. Sorry if I wasn’t clear in my “continuity” language: what I meant was “continuing in the faith of the apostles” and in those who continued in that faith before we were born. It’s not a complete statement of what we aim to do, of course, but I find it to be helpful theological shorthand.

#40 driver8: Many thanks. I understand it better now, but still would say emphatically that it’s not my theological/philosophical cup of tea—which I think is entirely predictable for a biblical scholar to say. My primary interests are in biblical exegesis and in how different communities through history have done it and to what effect. About the farthest I usually stray in my professional work from traditional biblical exegesis is that I’ve developed a strong interest in how communities in East and Southern Africa in particular (I’m interested in the rest of the continent, but am still a novice in other regions) have been do exegesis and theology and how colonialism and post-colonialism have entered into that. The only philosophical theology I really do is historical theology, e.g., how Middle Platonism influenced second-century theologians.

[41] Posted by Sarah Dylan Breuer on 8-16-2010 at 01:53 PM · [top]

You’re have more in common with fundamentalism than you think. (BTW this is an attempt at raising a smile).

[42] Posted by driver8 on 8-16-2010 at 01:57 PM · [top]

Feuerbach, for example, is a non-realist about God as he claims God is the sum of our highest ideals (an opinion he intends as a critique but one that seems to be shared by one or two progressive folks in TEC).

For those insomniacs who may want to know more about realism/non-realism debates (not for the faint hearted!):

[43] Posted by driver8 on 8-16-2010 at 02:12 PM · [top]

#38 Well, now, Sarah DB, you answered Sarah Hey’s question whether you are a member of Sea of Faith by writing that “As for the “Sea of Faith” stuff, this is the first I’ve heard of it, and it doesn’t sound like something I’d associate myself with.”

But your answer on whether you are a “non-realist” is fuzzy at best.  I’m interested in your personal answer to this question:
Is there such a being as “God” who exists with the attributes of memory, reason, will and emotion as described in the Bible, Old Testament, Gospels and New Testament, or is God no more than a human concept and construct, with no objective(not limited to tangible and physical) existence or reality independent of our opinions?

[44] Posted by Milton on 8-16-2010 at 02:12 PM · [top]

A religious organization with a secret membership—what are they trying to hide? 
Pageantmaster’s question whether Abp Aspinall is a member of Sea of Faith (#19) is completely legitimate.  Aspinall has invited Bp Spong to speak in his cathedral, which qualifies Aspinall to be a liberal.  We know Richard Holloway, retired Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, is associated with Sea of Faith.  It is certainly possible that other primates or members of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion are members of Sea of Faith.

[45] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 8-16-2010 at 02:16 PM · [top]

#42 driver8: Yes. I often say so, as my friends know. I think we’re all “biblical literalists” about some things: e.g., I tend to read biblical texts about “the poor” much more literally than many others do.

#44 Milton: I believe with all my heart that there is a God with memory, reason, will, and emotion as described in the canon of Christian scripture. I also believe this God created the universe and created humanity in God’s image, and that this God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus—is active in human history. I have a lot of company on these points with “progressives” as well as “conservatives.” People on the fringes on all sides tend to get the most attention, but I find that among Christians there is an almost universally shared base of beliefs like this. Some people (still under the sway of Platonism, I’d say) have trouble with saying that God has emotions, since they equate these with “passions” and “passions” with “bad stuff,” but I find this a bit sad: I think that saying that we are made in God’s image includes that God gave us a capacity for emotion that God shares.

[46] Posted by Sarah Dylan Breuer on 8-16-2010 at 02:28 PM · [top]

#46 That sounds more like the objectively real God who has made His presence quite real to me!

[47] Posted by Milton on 8-16-2010 at 03:14 PM · [top]

Sarah Dylan Breuer-
Thanks for the reminder that there are still a few “liberal Christians” out there (as opposed to blatant heretics and the social activists who could care less about Christianity, who now control the levers of power in TEC).  You would be considered a right wing extremist up here in N Michigan.
Personally, I am an application, several classes, and a dissertation short of a PhD. Shows a lack of discipline on my part. In the time I’ve spent to write only 1/2 of my SF comments, and in fewer words, no doubt, I could have cranked out the dissertation. Unfortunately, it is looking less and less like I could do graduate work in theology domestically (would fail the inclusion test).

[48] Posted by tjmcmahon on 8-16-2010 at 03:16 PM · [top]

For all of you nearly Ph.D. folks out there, I was in the Ph.D. program at the University of Texas when I got a better job and, due to the need to make a living moved. In my new location I entered the Ph.D. program at Baylor University. I was sitting in my last seminar before comprehensives when I made the mistake of asking myself, “Why am I doing this?” I couldn’t come up with a good answer. I did drop out and got a couple of computer science degrees which proved far more “valuable” than the doctorate. I probably actually have more graduate hours than most Ph.D.s

[49] Posted by Septuagenarian on 8-16-2010 at 03:50 PM · [top]

I have thought for some time that milady Trisk is bad news, but this is worse than I expected.  Thanks for digging up more details.

The liberals have the political advantage of not being in a battle against Satan. This frees them up for all kinds of mischief.

[50] Posted by Michael D on 8-16-2010 at 04:12 PM · [top]

Veritas2007 (#15) said:

I just don’t get why people like Janet Trisk have any interest in remaining priests and/or bishops in a Christian denomination at all.  The Christian faith has nothing to do with what they believe.  They are constantly trying to jam a square peg into a round hole every day of their ordained lives.

Interesting how religious the flesh can be.

[51] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 8-16-2010 at 04:16 PM · [top]

This woman (Trisk) is from the Province of South Africa, right?  Wonder if the Primate or her bishop are aware of her heresies.  Of if they, whether they cares.  Maybe someone can ask about this at the All Africa bishops meeting in Uganda next week, if South African bishops will be in attendance.

[52] Posted by Connie Sandlin on 8-16-2010 at 04:21 PM · [top]

er ... whether they care.

[53] Posted by Connie Sandlin on 8-16-2010 at 04:21 PM · [top]

Just the fact that she writes “One of the key foci…” provides significant hints as to the quality of her thinking, hints that are borne out in the other quotes and citations. Non-theist, indeed. Hmmpf! The authors of “The Cloud of Unknowing” and “The Dark Night of the Soul” (via negativa, anyone?) would take Sea of Faith’s flimsy and sloppily atheistic “non-theism” easily scatter it in their well-tended gardens.

[54] Posted by ears2hear on 8-16-2010 at 04:45 PM · [top]

I had the opportunity once when I was studying to overlap at campus with the Sea of Faith conference. There were three groups of people. Old clergy, generally from a methodist or congregational tradition, who were having some sort of existential crisis and told everyone about it (why am I here? what’s it all about?). Self important clergy and ex-clergy who patronised everyone within hearing distance (how can you possibly believe that the Gospels were not written by 7th century forgers). Lay people, generally over 40 but many retirees, who thought it was the cutting edge of theological thought and probably didn’t realise what they’d got themselves into (I don’t know what to do in my spiritual growth - should I go to Don Carson or Sea of Faith?). And the fringe attendees at any conference - academics from various disciplines and people who saw the poster and thought it might be interesting.

I was left with a picture of a group of people who were so heavily steeped in spiritual culture, they couldn’t conceive of a social outlet without it - anyone else would be at the local tennis or dancing club, or keeping tropical fish.

The papers were terrible as well.

[55] Posted by mr_gimlet on 8-16-2010 at 04:54 PM · [top]

#52, I think Revd Trisk’s bishop is Rt Revd Rubin Phillips of Natal and her primate The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba.  Please pray for them.

[56] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 8-16-2010 at 05:01 PM · [top]

Rowan Williams is building a group of people who will help him support TEC.

[57] Posted by Nashville Anglican on 8-16-2010 at 05:04 PM · [top]

It appears he is preparing for the inevitable- we will soon have 2 churches.  The real Communion churches, and the UK-US-Canada-Anzac Church of the Standing Committee.  The latter will, no doubt, keep the name “Anglican Communion”- since it is now a registered trademark of an English charity.  But the former, wherever the see ends up (Alexandria, Jerusalem, Singapore, Abuja) will have 80% of the people and remain faithful to the Faith as received from the Church.

[58] Posted by tjmcmahon on 8-16-2010 at 05:11 PM · [top]

I agree, TJ. The good Lord, in His wisdom, has given us a way out of a “Canterbury centered Communion.” The political games of the “Standing Committee” show that the Canterbury centered Communion will be the The Episcopal Communion.

More ugliness is on the way when the Churches of Australia, New Zealand, and England schism.

[59] Posted by robroy on 8-16-2010 at 05:47 PM · [top]

Capt. Deacon Warren, Post 27,
I believe you got their motives right when you said “After all, in an atheistic group they would just be another atheist”. 
Revisionist activists want to be noticed, they cannot achieve the power they crave by being “just another” anything, that is also why they aren’t Unitarians.

[60] Posted by Betty See on 8-16-2010 at 09:21 PM · [top]

Jill #56 - thanks very much for the information.  I will pray that these men become aware and respond accordingly as guardians of the Faith.

[61] Posted by Connie Sandlin on 8-16-2010 at 09:22 PM · [top]

Thank you, driver8 (#40) for the links to the helpful summary of non-realism, especially the one from  A quote from this site reminds me of something I have often observed in the political realm: liberals often caricature conservative positions rather than debate them.  For instance, this:

Today, a realist is the sort of person who, when his ship crosses the Equator, looks overboard, expecting to see a big black line across the ocean…. A non-realist sees the whole system of lines of latitude and longitude as a framework, imposed upon the Earth by us, that helps us to define locations and to find our way around.

As I confirmed realist, I know that lines of latitude and longitude are arbitrary.  Why divide the compass into 360 degrees and not 1000?  It’s like measuring the same distance in feet or yards, vs. meters—either way of referring to distance is purely a human invention.  And no realist actually expects to see a solid back line on the ground or in the ocean when crossing the Equator.  But any object has a midpoint where there are equal amounts of that object on each side.  And the Coriolis effect ( demonstrates that, unlike measurements of latitude and longitude, the Equator exists and, as Gustave-Gaspard Coriolis demonstrated, the midpoint of a rotating sphere has a real effect on wind direction and currents in the two hemispheres.

There are real laws of nature to be discovered and we ignore them at our peril.  So it is too with religion and theology=this is the essence of realism.  It is interesting that Cupitt began his college studies in the natural sciences but quickly moved to philosophy and religion.  I doubt that there are many career scientists who are nominalists or anti-realists.  The notion that truth is something we invent rather than something we discover seems to me to run counter to the scientific enterprise.

At the risk of also being guilty of caricaturing my opponent, I will say that I have encountered a lot of people over the years who got just enough science to make them skeptics about religion and then got just enough religion to make them skeptics about reality.  This seems to be the case with the members of Sea of Faith.

[62] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 8-16-2010 at 09:23 PM · [top]

Before training for the ministry, Janet was a lawyer.

Does anyone know if Janet Trisk still a lawyer?

[63] Posted by Betty See on 8-16-2010 at 09:42 PM · [top]

Just a word to those talking about “liberals” and “revisionists” and “revisionist activists” as a consistently (or even intentionally) monolith, do you think there’s any chance that you might be overstating or overgeneralizing?

Talk about a category including many thousands of people as if they were totally evil and beyond the reach of God’s Spirit seems to me to slight the Holy Spirit. St. Francis is a great hero of mine, and hagiographies say that he was willing to preach to wolves and form close and mutually respectful relationships with Muslims. Surely there are liberals, revisionists, and revisionist activists (I think I fall into most people’s definition of “revisionist activist” here, btw) who are worth expending calories to come to understand at the very least so you can try to persuade.

I, at the very least, am listening, but very often on this site I hear in the comments especially that people are more interesting in seeing me burn than in participating in real conversation with people who disagree. I like the “Before you post” admonition from Matthew that Stand Firm put above the comment button. I think it’s a fun and sometimes sadly ironic thing that the button one clicks on to post is “Submit”—a word that always brings to my mind the admonition in Ephesians to “submit to one another, then, out of reverence for Christ” and the kenosis hymn in Phil. 2.

I know that I’m far from exemplary in many ways, and I appreciate it when people here let me know that in clear and compassionate terms. I just want to say that I believe that you’re undermining your own cause when you write or speak in a way that seems to take more joy in seeing “liberal,” “revisionist,” or “progressive” children of God cast down and out than you feel yearning to see lost sheep brought in.

Constructively challenging someone who sees him or herself as a disciple of Jesus is pretty easy, in my experience, compared to trying to bring in someone who doesn’t know or care who Jesus is because s/he thinks Christianity is all about finger-wagging. It works best, in my experience, when you start with the basics upon which you agree, proceeds throughout with listening about why *this* particular person believes and does what as s/he believes and does, and works out toward the more controversial and divisive using points of agreement as a basis to say, “So wouldn’t X imply Y? It does in my view.”

I have a little congregation of otherwise totally unchurched young rock musicians, and every time they see people calling each other demonic or satanic or some other set of totally contemptuous terms, it gets that much harder for them to believe that Christianity has anything to do with love. And they use Google. They see how online communities like this treat what they consider to be “bad people,” and they assume that’s what Christianity has to say about them.

If we who are in Christ can’t treat one another as special, as God sees us, and can’t find room for grace in our words for other Christians, what hope are we offering people who see themselves as REAL outsiders?

[64] Posted by Sarah Dylan Breuer on 8-16-2010 at 09:56 PM · [top]

RE: “Talk about a category including many thousands of people as if they were totally evil and beyond the reach of God’s Spirit seems to me to slight the Holy Spirit. . . .
I, at the very least, am listening, but very often on this site I hear in the comments especially that people are more interesting in seeing me burn than in participating in real conversation with people who disagree.”

Sarah Dylan Breuer, can you point me to such comments on this thread?

[65] Posted by Sarah on 8-16-2010 at 10:06 PM · [top]

Straw man alert:

Talk about a category including many thousands of people as if they were totally evil and beyond the reach of God’s Spirit seems to me to slight the Holy Spirit.

Who in the world said that? No one, of course. What the revisionists have done to the once great denomination that most of us loved dearly is horrifically evil. Most think that they perpetrators are not “totally evil” and certainly not beyond God’s grace but rather they are self deluded and are pawns for Satan’s work.

I agree with Fr. Kingsley Jon-Ubabuco. Liberals make utterly transparent logical fallacies. I think they must do this knowingly hoping that a percentage will be deceived.

[66] Posted by robroy on 8-16-2010 at 10:09 PM · [top]

And they use Google. They see how online communities like this treat what they consider to be “bad people,” and they assume that’s what Christianity has to say about them.

Yes Sarah, it is rather too bad that they cannot also read the HoBD listserve and see what we (the conservatives/reasserters/Anglo Catholics/Evangelicals) are called by the people who rule TEC.  Or what we are called by diocesan officials in meetings, especially when they assume that everyone at the table is in their clique and they can “speak freely”.  Or what you get called when you oppose the nomination of a Buddhist bishop.  My favorite was the standing committee member downstate who called me a “Christo-fascist.”  But in truth, some of the revisionists were harder on Tom Breidenthal (“traitor” comes to mind) than they were on me.
  Of course, if your rock musicians read what we are called at Episcopal Cafe or on Thinking Anglicans, then no doubt they realize this is a 2 way street.
  The reasserters are not the ones who have deposed 500+ bishops and priests, and sued them along with hundreds of laity.  Stop the abuse of power, the desecration of holy orders and the violation of our sanctuaries, then come to talk to us about reconciliation.

[67] Posted by tjmcmahon on 8-16-2010 at 10:17 PM · [top]

#65 Sarah: Come to think of it, nobody’s said anything like that about me. I just identify with some of the categories people have used in very dismissive ways (e.g., “revisionist activists”). I should be more careful about saying what it is that makes me ill at ease.

#66 robroy: I’m not sure that it’s an improvement to say that “they are self-deluded and are pawn for Satan’s work ... Liberals make utterly transparent logical fallacies. I think they must do this knowingly hoping that a percentage will be deceived.” It’s still casting aspersions on the motivations of a very, very great many people you’ve not met. I’m not whining about it—I’m accustomed to this sort of thing, having been a part of churches (including Vineyard churches for many years). But the unchurched people I work with see comments like that and say, “Sheesh ... if that’s the best they can say of YOU, what are they gonna do to me if I go to church?” I know, it may be illogical for them to draw that conclusion. But when they stumble across statements like that, that’s the conclusion they often draw. I work in an urban and in many ways pretty liberal context, so YMMV in other settings.

I just think that we ALL could do better showing grace to one another as Jesus does to us. People who feel they have a lot to be ashamed about and who think Christians will pounce on them viciously for every bit of it at every opportunity listen in to our Internet conversations.

[68] Posted by Sarah Dylan Breuer on 8-16-2010 at 10:21 PM · [top]

RE: “I just identify with some of the categories people have used in very dismissive ways (e.g., “revisionist activists”).”

I don’t use the descriptive category of “revisionist activists” in a dismissive way at all.  It is meant to distinguish the people who have deliberately used our church as a Trojan horse or as a host for their parasitic ideas in order to gain credibility for ideas that cannot build or create, merely use, hollow out, and destroy.  They have destroyed their host in their quest to try to gain some societal approval for their very wicked and untruthful ideas.

I distinguish “revisionist activists” from your garden variety “revisionist” who sits in the pew next to me with no interest in forcing revisionist theology into a once very beautiful and truth-telling church.

Believe me, I refer to “revisionist activists” in no way dismissively, though I am utterly repelled by what they have done.  If you wish to identify yourself with that descriptive category of people within TEC, that is up to you.

[69] Posted by Sarah on 8-16-2010 at 10:32 PM · [top]

“There are members within our church who believe in good faith and conscience that God accepts them as gay, and further that God blesses their commitment to faithful relationship. We believe that our church should be open to such convictions…”

Surely the loose Canon meant to write “There are members within our church who believe in good faith and conscience that ‘some sexist mythos which males developed to disempower the eternal feminine’ accepts them as gay, and further that ‘some sexist mythos which males developed to disempower the eternal feminine’ blesses their commitment to faithful relationship. We believe that our church should be open to such convictions…”

The one point of agreement I can find with this woman is in the last sentence—the Church should indeed be open to such convictions… following the arrests, and prior to the sentencings.

First the Jabulani, now Canon Trisk—no one knows which way things from South Africa may bounce.

[70] Posted by Conego on 8-16-2010 at 10:33 PM · [top]

#67 tj: Are you sure you’re recommending they read the HoB/D listserv? I wouldn’t.

The reasserters are not the ones who have deposed 500+ bishops and priests, and sued them along with hundreds of laity.  Stop the abuse of power, the desecration of holy orders and the violation of our sanctuaries, then come to talk to us about reconciliation.

TJ, “the revisionists” haven’t done this either. I’ve never signed anything to depose anyone, and if I’ve desecrated holy orders or violated a sanctuary I don’t recall doing it.

I understand that you’re angry. But this is exactly what I’m talking about. Are you really angry at me? Do you think that I control what bishops do, or pretty much what anyone does except my two cats (whom I can’t keep out of the forbidden territory of the basement)? I don’t think that you have advocated stoning me to death, as some have. I don’t think you threw bricks at my windows or made threatening phone calls. Other people did that.

My mother always used to say “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Saying that “revisionists” have spoken disdainfully (or even hatefully) or behaved badly (even with great harm resulting) doesn’t say anything about your conduct or, I think, mine. We each have to answer to Jesus for that, and as sisters and brothers in Christ, I think we do well to gently point out opportunities we’re missing to do better.

That’s my theory, anyway. Matt and Greg in particular have taken me aside a number of times to let me know when they thought I wasn’t living up to my commitments as a disciple of Jesus, and even when I’ve disagreed with them, I’ve appreciated their doing so. To me that indicates that they take seriously my public commitment to Jesus as Lord, and that they see me as a sister. That’s what I’m trying to do here. I apologize if I’m doing so insensitively, but I hope you can hear that my intent is to be helpful.

Blessings to you both.

[71] Posted by Sarah Dylan Breuer on 8-16-2010 at 10:34 PM · [top]

As to the unchurched viewing the conflict and division in our church, I think that overall that is a good thing.  They will see how important these issues are, even if they do not understand it and that will have an impact on them, as it should.

If they think all of us harsh, whether the traditionalists or the revisionist activists, well, that is one of the unfortunate consequences of an organization that is riven by people who do not share the same Gospel, goals, values, worldviews, or mission and who are waging unending conflict as long as they are in the same organization together.

One wishes that it had not happened.  But it has.  The only thing for people to do, therefore, is to have the very appropriate conflict, or to leave.

Thankfully, the bloggers at StandFirm by and large chose the former—and the one who left has inflicted the appropriate damage to the credibility and reputation of the revisionist activists in his immediate region in his departure.  I’m proud of his actions and very thankful that his former bishop was revealed to be who he was in all of his glory to the watching world and the media and the Anglican Communion. 

And I’m proud of those who have stayed and are resisting the agenda of our current leaders in TEC as well.

Obviously, the only other alternative would have been for the traditionalists to surrender quietly—which certainly the other side would have been happy for.  I am thrilled that that did not happen as that would have left the watching pagans with the notion that what was left in TEC actually had a correlation with the Christian gospel—and that would be a disastrous and damaging deceit for pagans.

[72] Posted by Sarah on 8-16-2010 at 10:43 PM · [top]

Sarah (71)
I don’t believe I mentioned you in the post (67) that you are referencing.  So, no, I am not angry at you.

However, the revisionists have put the people into power who have abused that power.  To say that individual revisionists, who voted for the bishops (including the PB) responsible for the depositions, who rewrote the canons in the dioceses and at the national level, who undermined the orthodox clergy, have no culpability for the depositions is ludicrous.  Whether you personally did those things, honestly, I don’t know.  But I had assumed from your postings here and there that you were a deputy at GC, or at least to your diocesan convention, in which case, you personally did at least some of those things.

[73] Posted by tjmcmahon on 8-16-2010 at 10:56 PM · [top]

#72 Sarah: There is an alternative to a whole bunch of people “surrendering quietly” to an opposing army. In this case, as much as some progressives might wish this wasn’t the case, there is no army. Progressives aren’t a monolith any more than reasserters are. Some progressives have institutional power, but most don’t. Of those who do have such power, some use it responsibly, and some don’t. You can see a good example in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Serious, serious conflict there about moral issues, but it isn’t about “revisionists” vs. “reasserters.”

So you could take on the particular people and institutions you disagree with without suggesting that there’s a VLC (Vast Liberal Conspiracy) of people who agree on everything and walk in lockstep—and you could remind your brethren and sistren who listen to you (and they are many) of this when you think a reminder would be helpful.

I don’t have any devious intent in saying so. I don’t mind listening to very angry people speaking in very broad generalizations. I just think we could do better. Among other things, you might have surprising allies in taking on particular injustices and abuses. For example, I don’t know much about the particulars of the situation, but I find myself wondering whether the tensions years ago in the Diocese of PA and its leading FiF-led congregation might, under different circumstances and with more communication among “reasserters” and “revisionists,” have identified serious, underlying, and common concerns years before other issues came to the fore. I have no inside info to suggest this, but I wonder.

Identifying very specific concerns and then seeking out and listening to others who share those specific concerns could be a very, very powerful thing. It’s not as romantic as images of storming castles and battling to the death with beasts from hell, but it could change a lot, I think.

[74] Posted by Sarah Dylan Breuer on 8-16-2010 at 11:06 PM · [top]

Dear All,

I hope you’ll forgive me popping out of this thread. I’ll gladly take messages via Facebook or email, but I’ve got a rapid deadline that just popped up for some work, and even biblical exegetes have to eat (that honeyed scroll thing is no children’s breakfast-in-a-bowl, I tell you). Please be patient as far as responses go.

I do appreciate your patience with my bursting in with a very different perspective, and I hope in the long run I’ve been more helpful than harmful with it. I respect you all as fellow disciples of Christ, and therefore as sisters and brothers. I welcome your prayers in whatever form you care to offer them, and I’ll pop back to Stand Firm when I next get a bit of breathing room.



[75] Posted by Sarah Dylan Breuer on 8-16-2010 at 11:10 PM · [top]

“I just think that we ALL could do better showing grace to one another as Jesus does to us.”

You mean like, “Get behind me, Satan.” What was Peter’s offense to evoke this strong rebuke from Jesus? Peter tried to argue with Jesus against the need for him to suffer on Calvary. Without Calvary, there would be no resurrection. Without the resurrection, there would be no redemption.

But isn’t what the revisionists are doing? “God accepts you as you are”, say the revisionists. No, He rightly condemns us, but he does offer grace and forgiveness for those who turn to Him in repentance. Without repentance, there is no asking for God’s grace and there is then no salvation.

As John the Baptist said, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”

[76] Posted by robroy on 8-16-2010 at 11:13 PM · [top]

RE: “Progressives aren’t a monolith any more than reasserters are. Some progressives have institutional power, but most don’t.”

That’s why I’ve taken care to not use garden-variety “progressive” or “revisionist”—as I’ve explained above.  Revisionist activists almost entirely have institutional power because they have sought it. 

RE: “You can see a good example in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Serious, serious conflict there about moral issues, but it isn’t about “revisionists” vs. “reasserters.”

This is—or should be—a bit of an embarrassing example, SDB, because the reasserters have almost entirely been ruthlessly persecuted and run out of that dark diocese, by the self-same people many of whom are now on the Standing Committee.  When Bennison mistreated those traditionalists, the revisionist activists ignored them and in some cases collaborated with Bennison in his horrible behavior.  So yes—it’s now about revisionists versus revisionists, which is an interesting picture of the future of TEC as a whole.

RE: “So you could take on the particular people and institutions you disagree with without suggesting that there’s a VLC (Vast Liberal Conspiracy) of people who agree on everything and walk in lockstep . . . “

I’ve already agreed—which is, again, why I don’t generally use the word “liberal” in general without adding the descriptive word “activist.”  And yes, by and large, the revisionist activists in TEC are a monolithic group holding repulsive beliefs and performing very wicked actions, which we have painstakingly documented for five years on this blog.  “Monolith” well describes that group of Episcopal revisionist activists.

RE: “and you could remind your brethren and sistren who listen to you (and they are many) of this when you think a reminder would be helpful. . . . “

I do not wish to teach them such a falsehood—in fact, much of my effort on this blog and privately has been to teach my friends and allies not to trust in any respect revisionist activists in TEC.  They do not share the same values, gospel, or foundational worldview—they have utterly opposing missions and goals from traditional Christians in TEC—and are not allies in any respect.  They may be nice people—some of them—but they are not in any way trustworthy or allies.  It is regrettable that in the times when people have tried to believe otherwise, I have been capable [though I have not always said it] of saying “I did warn you six months ago.”

RE: “It’s not as romantic as images of storming castles and battling to the death with beasts from hell, but it could change a lot, I think.”

Not an apt metaphor—revisionist activists don’t build castles as they are not capable of it [see Clown Eucharist, Glasspool Consecration as Exhibits A&B, then review Giant Puppet liturgies along with TechnoCosmic Mass], and I prefer orcs, trolls and goblins rather than “beasts from hell”—the latter gives too much credit to them.  ; > )

On another note, has anyone noticed that this post is about a priest—an Anglican Communion priest—who has been appointed to one of the highest bodies of our Communion who also happens to be a member of an organization that believes that God is not an objective reality but rather a human construct—and we are now discussing the harsh rhetoric of traditional Anglican Christians against revisionist activists in TEC?  That’s about as ironic a shift as I can come up with.

I am reminded of this basic definition:

In Freudian psychoanalytic theory, defence mechanisms or defense mechanisms (see -ce/-se) are unconscious[1] psychological strategies brought into play by various entities to cope with reality and to maintain self-image. Healthy persons normally use different defences throughout life. An ego defence mechanism becomes pathological only when its persistent use leads to maladaptive behavior such that the physical and/or mental health of the individual is adversely affected. The purpose of the Ego Defence Mechanisms is to protect the mind/self/ego from anxiety, social sanctions or to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope.[2]

; > )

I think I would call the sudden shift in subject matter in the comments on this post a combination of avoidance, rationalization, denial, and displacement.

[77] Posted by Sarah on 8-16-2010 at 11:58 PM · [top]

Sarah Dylan Breuer, Post 65,
You are right that I should not have speculated on the motives of those I consider Revisionist Activists, but I have long wondered why people who profess not to believe what the Bible says or what the Book of Common Prayer says want to be involved in The Episcopal Church when they would fit in very nicely with the Unitarians or, in Ms. Trisks case, with a society of Atheists.
I guess I should define my terms, I consider Janet Trisk a “Revisionist” because she and like minded Revisionists” have arbitrarily taken it upon themselves to revise the Christian Religion, as it has been understood through the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer for many Centuries.
I consider her an Activist because she and like minded Activists have seized control of the Anglican Communion and the National Episcopal Church and they are tearing our church and the Anglican Communion apart through very un-Christian alliances. That is why I call her a Revisionist Activist. 
It seems to me that one of the most serious things that Revisionist Activists have done since they have gained power in the Episcopal Church is to enroll the Church as a member of the pro-Abortion lobbying group, the RCRC (The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights) without the knowledge or consent of church goers.  They used this power to firmly rebuff a suggestion by a Bishop of the Church that the standing committee should reconsider the churches membership in this organization.
Sarah, we are not speaking of you or your rock band students when we talk about Revisionist Activists.  I don’t know what you believe but if you offer them the saving Grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, I don’t think anyone would consider you a Revisionist Activist.

[78] Posted by Betty See on 8-17-2010 at 12:18 AM · [top]

OK, one last comment, and then I really have to get to bread-and-butter stuff.

I consider myself a “revisionist activist” because:

I’m an activist. I’ve spent countless hours and thousands of my family’s money (my partner makes most of it as a high school English teacher, as freelance theologians don’t make much) trying to change governments’ and churches’ policy and to organize people around particular ends. Ending extreme poverty abroad, providing access to affordable housing for people such as police officers, firefighters, and public school teachers (my partner teaches at an independent school), and increasing access for all to theological education have been particularly high-ranking ends for my activism.

I think most people here would also classify me as a “revisionist.” I agree with many conservatives on many basics of the faith, but I do believe that while a reasonable theological case can be made that all same-sex sexual relationships are necessarily sinful, I find more evidence for the position that heterosexual and same-sex relationships should be judged by Christians on the same criteria. In my experience, that’s an “acid test” position here that would put me soundly on the “revisionist” side, even though I believe and argue for many things that “reasserters” do too, e.g., Jesus’ bodily resurrection, the continuing importance of confessing Jesus as “Lord,” and more.

I’m on Executive Council, which gives me a vote in the things for which Executive Council has a canonical role. I take responsibility for my votes, and also for my conduct in trying to persuade or failing to persuade my colleagues of things. But I’m not Sauron. I don’t have power over others on Executive Council in any way beyond what you do: you can persuade people by listening to their positions and continuing in conversation in ways that might help people “Think Different,” as Apple says. Of course we’re going to disagree regarding what issues call for different thinking and how, but you get the idea.

The original post was about a priest in the Province of Southern Africa being appointed to a communion-wide post, and I apologize for taking things in rather a different direction. I selfishly coveted your advice as to how I might best be honest about my own academic background. And then I got into the subject of how charitable I found some branches of this thread and how I saw more room for charity in others.

Thing is, we all know that in the end we will not be judged on anything other than our fidelity to Jesus’ Way, and we’re all bound together as stumbling disciples.  For better or for worse, the world is watching, and they see when any of us from any party mistreat each other.

That’s all I’m saying.

And with that, it’s back to work. Thanks again.

[79] Posted by Sarah Dylan Breuer on 8-17-2010 at 12:47 AM · [top]

You can see a good example in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Serious, serious conflict there about moral issues, but it isn’t about “revisionists” vs. “reasserters.”

As Sarah H. points out, there are no reasserters left for all intents and purposes, in the diocese of Pa. And the revisionists are wholly incapable of drawing a line saying this is out of the bounds of even our extremely loosely defined Christianity. Bennison certainly should have been kicked out for his heresies but that ain’t happening in today’s TEClub. So they had to go after him with charges that they must have known had their statute of limitations run out. As a result, the TEClub is blessed with having Bennison back. It certainly serves them right.

[80] Posted by robroy on 8-17-2010 at 02:52 AM · [top]

“I do believe that while a reasonable theological case can be made that all same-sex sexual relationships are necessarily sinful, I find more evidence for the position that heterosexual and same-sex relationships should be judged by Christians on the same criteria.”

We have been here before. I’m sorry, Sarah, but you have the facts reversed in your mind.

The case for the sinfulness of same-sex physical relations is watertight. It starts with Jesus, Whose “Way” in matters of sex-ethics is completely and transparently ascertainable. The probability that the Lord could conceivably have tolerated, let alone approved or practised, homosex is many degrees less than the chance of the proverbial snowball in Hell. See this Brief to the Lambeth Commission: Brief. As for the notion that there are both virtuous and vicious forms of homosex as there are of heterosexual relating, there is not a shred of “evidence” for it: it is wholly nonsensical.

[81] Posted by Dr. Priscilla Turner on 8-17-2010 at 03:44 AM · [top]

So she’s a member of ‘Faith at Sea’, eh?

Membership of that organisation should be enough grounds for instant dismissal from church leadership in any form.

[82] Posted by Derek Smith on 8-17-2010 at 03:50 AM · [top]


Someone sort out #82 and #83, please!

[83] Posted by Derek Smith on 8-17-2010 at 03:51 AM · [top]

There are well-meaning persons who, in compassion, have supported the gay-lesbian agenda.  (I believe them to be misguided, just as they believe me to be misguided.) They have found themselves dismayed by the beliefs and actions of their leaders, whom they had supported.  They have coped with a growing dismay in a variety of ways.
Like a rock gaining momentum as it rolls down a hill, the possibility of schism in the Anglican Communion looms larger.  In realizing this, they are increasingly disquiet, and rightly so.  They deserve our prayers.

[84] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 8-17-2010 at 05:50 AM · [top]

Did anyone notice her amended Lord’s Prayer after the Eucharistic Prayer??? It’s even worse, if possible. Keep scrolling down after the Eucharistic Prayer, and you’ll find this vomit inducing rubbish:

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples
of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
Now and for ever. Amen.

Who has the right to change around the Lord’s Prayer? Maybe you can update it or use it as a framework for prayer, but given the prayer came from Jesus, isn’t it only Him who has the authority to change it?
Andrew Reid

[85] Posted by spicksandspecks on 8-17-2010 at 06:36 AM · [top]

I am left to wonder how much of this liturgy will end up at St. Paul’s Marquette for the opening Eucharist of the diocesan convention for the bishop’s election (finalist candidates to be announced shortly- need I mention the name of the supposed leading candidate?)

[86] Posted by tjmcmahon on 8-17-2010 at 06:42 AM · [top]

I stand corrected, the slate of candidates for N Mich will be announced Oct. 1.  The search committee is currently conducting telephone interviews.

[87] Posted by tjmcmahon on 8-17-2010 at 06:58 AM · [top]

It might be interesting to do a survey of the African bishops, who are meeting next week, on how many members of the Standing Committee are in communion with their diocese.

And let’s remember that its own pretensions aside, the standing committee actually has no standing whatsoever in the church.  None of its power grab has been approved by even one provincial synod. Many of its members are not in communion with 60-80% of Anglicans.  No one has approved the new ACC constitution, at least not in a public forum as required by the canons of, for instance, TEC or the CoE- GC and Synod have NOT voted on accepting this new arrangement (an objection frequently raised on the HoBD before they discovered that KJS was running the show). It is NOT an Instrument. It is a fiction created by the ABoC mirroring some fictional revolutionary committee in a Dostoevsky novel.

[88] Posted by tjmcmahon on 8-17-2010 at 07:09 AM · [top]

To those who care which I realize most won’t.
As one who could claim to be ABD but does not, here is why.  ABD means essentially nothing even in the USA UNLESS you are applying for jobs and your dissertation research is finished and you are awaiting your dissertation defense (a meeting of your committee) which can be open to the “public”.  A sentence like what Sarah wrote would be fine if the person actually plans on finishing the Ph.D. but if you don’t just be honest and claim degrees that you have completed and earned. 

For me that means my BS, MS, and MS. Yes, I was in a Ph. D program but did not complete my dissertation because my advisor lost founding even though I had completed my coursework, passed my comprehensive exams and was in the middle of my research.  But still I did not finish my Ph. D. 

Anyway, this woman sounds like an Episcoagan to me. Perhaps Anglopagan would be a better term??

[89] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 8-17-2010 at 07:45 AM · [top]

88.  Just as many have known all along, I suspect.

[90] Posted by cennydd13 on 8-17-2010 at 08:43 AM · [top]

RE: “I consider myself a “revisionist activist”  . . . “

That is probably the correct category, yes.

RE: “and we’re all bound together as stumbling disciples. . . . “

Well—we’re certainly all residing in the same organization.  But beyond that, no—we don’t share the same gospel.  Doesn’t make either of us evil [beyond the fallen human condition that is]—it just is what it is.  And both sides know in their honest moments that we don’t share the same gospel—and that’s why both sides are fighting so so hard.  If the differences were not of foundational importance and significance—which both sides recognize—than the fight would eventually peter out.

RE: “For better or for worse, the world is watching, and they see when any of us from any party mistreat each other.”

Yes—I’m counting on that.  And I believe, by and large, that they do see it and have seen it now in all of its glory for the past seven years.  I think the differences between the two sides have been made astoundingly clear beyond my wildest dreams in the public secular media.  And I believe that that will continue, hopefully.

[91] Posted by Sarah on 8-17-2010 at 08:57 AM · [top]

How ironic and tragic that we have a brainiac Archbishop of Canterbury but he’s overseeing a Communion that is increasingly devoid of any magisterium. Talk about squandered gifts. Reports like this make me wonder how the guy makes it out of bed in the morning.

[92] Posted by polycarp on 8-17-2010 at 09:21 AM · [top]

From all assaults of the Devil, Good Lord deliver us.  And give us the magisterium that we sorely need.

[93] Posted by cennydd13 on 8-17-2010 at 10:26 AM · [top]

Yes, I noticed the Lord’s Prayer and found it more objectionable than the Eucharistic Prayer which while ridiculous is marginally “valid.” (The “form is there;” but the invocation of the Holy Spirit is way off track.)

But don’t blame the travesty on the Lord’s Prayer on the misguided canon—that abominable creation is from the New Zealand BCP, which is apparently worse of theologically and liturgically than TEC, at least in terms of what has formally gotten into the liturgy.

What one does wonder is how this whole liturgical farce got approved (if it did) in the Diocese of Virginia. (And no excuses about “trial,” “experimental,” “educational” etc. It is rather clearly a regular Sunday service, albeit in the evening. And, of course, it is a canonically presentable offense and violation of ordination vows of the rector and presumably bishop. Although we all know inhibition, presentment, trial and deposition will never happen in TEC for this sort of flagrant disobedience.

[94] Posted by Septuagenarian on 8-17-2010 at 11:40 AM · [top]

Sarah Dylan Breuer,
You have convinced me that you are an activist, and that you are willing to work for Revisionist goals but you do not make a very strong case that you are a Revisionist. You have not made a case for revising and distorting the clear meaning of the Bible as the Presiding Bishop and some TEC activists clearly do. Why should I call you a revisionist if you don’t fit that description?  If you support unwarranted revisions to the Book of Common Prayer, then of course you would fit the description of a Revisionist, but you do not describe yourself this way.  Could it be that you are a willing Activist but an unwilling Revisionist?
It seems to me that we all should be careful of who we ally ourselves with but it is possible that Activists should be even more careful because they may easily be used to actively support the opportunistic and unholy goals of others.

[95] Posted by Betty See on 8-17-2010 at 01:26 PM · [top]

#95 Betty See,
When a priest admits “We don’t share the same gospel” beware, She is a revisionist.

[96] Posted by bradhutt on 8-17-2010 at 03:09 PM · [top]

I don’t like these “tags” - conservative, liberal, revisionist, orthodox - they can mean so many different things in different contexts, and can confuse.  I still use them though, and they do have their use.

I sincerely hope that Sarah Dylan Breuer will show herself to be an activist for the sake of a Risen Christ (including good teaching about Christ), and also will not be silent in the face of the awful things we are seeing in TEC.  She has expressed here a faith in Christ, but has not yet expressed an interest in being an advocate for this faith within the ranks of TEC.

On the other hand, were she to do so here, given her position, it is possible that she would close other doors.

But yet, if she is to be an advocate for Christ, at some point she will need to take the risk of a diminished reputation, and of losing her audience.  I pray that she will be a faithful advocate for Christ and will wisely discern when and how to engage in advocacy.

Given her position regarding matters of sexuality and her orientation, she will have an ear in places that others won’t.  I am certainly not in agreement with her position or her choices, nor do I believe that persons who have made such choices should be in church leadership.  But this is not my responsibility.  Nonetheless, I am happy to hear her express her faith in Christ, and I wish her the best in doing what she can amidst the darkness which has fallen over TEC.

[97] Posted by Wilf on 8-17-2010 at 04:53 PM · [top]

RE: “I don’t like these “tags” - conservative, liberal, revisionist, orthodox - they can mean so many different things in different contexts, and can confuse.”

Yes, but in the context of SF we’re all pretty clear about the meanings of revisionist.

RE: “I sincerely hope that Sarah Dylan Breuer will show herself to be an activist for the sake of a Risen Christ (including good teaching about Christ), and also will not be silent in the face of the awful things we are seeing in TEC.”

A little late for that unless a radical u-turn is taken, since Sarah Dylan Breuer is an ally of all the other revisionist TEC activists like Susan Russell, working hand in glove with them.

No, SDB certainly doesn’t have the bitterness, venom and bile of your average revisionist TEC activist [dozens of names spring to mind] but she’s an activist for her gay-sex-affirmation gospel, which springs from foundational theological heresies that we’re all quite aware of from the past seven lovely years.  As Kendall’s iceberg talk communicates so well, the whole gay-sex is holy and blessed demand is but the tip of the iceberg of falsehoods and errors.

Nevertheless, we’ve ended up on SDB rather than Janet Trisk—the female priest who is also a revisionist activist who happens to be a part of an organization that doesn’t believe that God exists except as a human construct—and is also an appointed member of one of the highest bodies in the Anglican Communion.

Let’s get the thread back on that fascinating topic, please.

[98] Posted by Sarah on 8-17-2010 at 06:10 PM · [top]

Agreed on all points, Sarah.  Nonetheless, the one heresy is not the other.  A person who is thoroughly convinced of the truth of a heresy may nonetheless recognize the importance of believing in Christ and might make inroads in bringing the organization to recognize at least that.  And where there is faith in Christ there is still hope.  With the ascendancy of the Marcus Borg stuff, this hope is currently absent.
But back to the fascinating Janet Trisk and Sea of Faith.  Of the little I’ve read of Borg, it’s a lot like Sea of Faith, except without explicitly rejecting the existence of God.  However, the reality of God is in a bit of a shadow-area given the general tendency of relegating all religious language to the category of edifying metaphor.  A few days ago I was googling for Marcus Borg and tooth fairy to see if anyone was willing to show how Marcus Borg would distinguish between Jesus and the tooth fairy.  Suprisingly enough, I came across one of Borg’s own essays, in which he describes how becoming “mature” in one’s faith is like how a child discovers that there is no tooth fairy.  So, I suppose, when we come down to things, Jesus, for Marcus Borg, is really more or less like the tooth fairy.
I hope for the sake of Rev. Trisk that her bishop removes her from her teaching and leadership duties, and finds for her good employment in which she is happy and can sustain herself.  Of course, the main reason is because of what we are told of apostasy by Paul and others.  But also because: this is probably the only way of making clear to Rev. Trisk that faith is utterly important.  Her bishop has let her down, her church has let her down, and her attitude toward God may have, as contributing causes, the general condition of apostasy in the Anglican Communion.  We are all responsible and all culpable.  We should learn to graciously accept as legitimate the belief, “Anglicans are not Christians.”  As far as I can tell, it is only amongst us Anglicans that it is such a widespread phenomenon that people insist on calling persons “Christians” who do not believe in Christ, and only amongst us that top-leadership persons go so far in denying the divinity of Christ and the resurrection (and as far as I know, this the first time in history that this has happened in a significant Trinitarian church).  Our word “Christian” as Anglicans refers more or less to human beings, it is tied up more with a notion of dignity and worth, rather than being related to God or Christ.  When others, including atheists use this word, they tend to mean: “A person who believes in Jesus Christ.”  We tend to confuse others and inculcate false expectations amongst others with our use of the word, but I suppose we have done far worse than this.  Our real obligation is simply to let other Trinitarian Christians know that we generally are intent upon promulgating some other type of religion or practice which appears like a religion.
It’s for this reason that we also, amongst ourselves, should learn to use the term “Trinitarian Christian” to designate those who believe in Christ.  I.e., +KJS is a Christian in the Anglican sense; but as she denies the divinity of Christ and the resurrection, she is not a Christian in common parlance.  The same for Borg, Spong, and Trisk.  However, none of these are Trinitarian Christians.
It seems to me clear enough that even were it to happen that the ACC were entirely replaced with Catholics and Baptists, and some person of outspoken faith in the creeds became the Presiding Bishop of TEC, we would still do best to spend some weeks, months, or even years of public repentance for this state that the Communion has come into.  These things make clear how little faith there is in us, and how much sin and rebellion against God.  We would do well to spend the entire lenten season in sackcloth and ashes.  And if the Communion cannot agree to this, we should at least take whatever measures we can to prevent ourselves from blighting the other faithfully Trinitarian churches around us.

[99] Posted by Wilf on 8-17-2010 at 07:14 PM · [top]

Fr Nigel (#20), you wrote:

The Bishop of Southwark commented on the radio a few months ago, when it was first suggested that some people might move to Rome, said “They needn’t think they can take their churches with them.”

His Lordship the Right Reverend Bishop of Southwark was (surely not inadvertently) absolutely correct. They “can’t take their churches with them”... and they are not.  They are leaving that part of the Church in England which is Anglican (well, more or less) and going to that part of the Church which is Roman Catholic. 

They may, however, be taking their buildings with them.

Surely, Father, the good bishop doesn’t believe that mere buildings constitute the Church, does he? Could he be that far out of touch with the Christian faith he took solemn vows to defend, that he plans instead on defending mere real estate?  Why, that sounds absolutely… American!

[100] Posted by Conego on 8-17-2010 at 08:07 PM · [top]

Wilf, I cannot find a polite way to say this but I must say that your re-definition of Anglicanism is inaccurate and rather ignorant of true Anglicanism ... And your new definition of Christianity as “Trinitarian Christian” does not help anyone understand Christianity. Most of the people who post on this site understand the definition of Christianity and they understand the clear meaning of the words they use. We do not enjoy being distracted by misleading word games.
As far as I am concerned, I think everything has been said that is worth saying on this thread so I am signing off now.

[101] Posted by Betty See on 8-17-2010 at 08:12 PM · [top]

ToAllTheWorld (62), You say that the “non-realist”, Don Cupitt, wrote:

Today, a realist is the sort of person who, when his ship crosses the Equator, looks overboard, expecting to see a big black line across the ocean…. A non-realist sees the whole system of lines of latitude and longitude as a framework, imposed upon the Earth by us, that helps us to define locations and to find our way around.

  You in turn respond, as a confirmed Realist, that the Coriolis effect demonstrates that, unlike measurements of latitude and longitude, the Equator exists and, as Gustave-Gaspard Coriolis demonstrated, the midpoint of a rotating sphere has a real effect on wind direction and currents in the two hemispheres.

May I propose a third position?  Perhaps I should describe it as that of the “pragmatist”. As chaplain aboard the USS Cowpens (CG-63), a ship of the US Navy, I have actually crossed the Equator by ship—and not once but twice. [I have also crossed it some six times by air, but there is significant enough difference in perception that I do not believe that those observatons directly affect the question at hand.]  I began the Naval deployment, as is appropriate, with a hypothesis, and was by experiment able to first demonstrate that my hypothesis was correct and then (in concordance with scientific method) repeat that experiment, with identical results, thus proving the hypothesis. [I have also examined the work of others in the field who have, on conducting the same experiment under both near-identical and varying conditions, achieved identical results, therefore further proving the correctness of my initial hypothesis… again, in concordance with modern scientific method. I might add that my willingness to repeat the initial experiment facilitated my researching the related studies done by other US Navy observers, as a mere single crossing would have left me in Australia, unable to further my work due to being classified as a Deserter, and thus unable to contact other researchers in the field.]

I therefore feel fully justified not only in demolishing Cupitt’s “straw man” argument of the Realist’s perception of the Equator as being “a big black line across the ocean”, but (and uncontrovertably) his own statement that he as a “non-realist sees the whole system of lines of latitude and longitude as a framework, imposed upon the Earth by us, that helps us to define locations and to find our way around”.

In my role as an investigative pragmatist, and by utilization not of the vague philosophical meanderings of “non-realism” but of the most modern scientific method and direct visualisation from a ship actually in the process of crossing the Equator, I may without reservation state that, when viewed from a ship, far from being a “whole system of lines of latitude and longitude”, the Equator is in fact…  wet.

In fact, I would venture to say that, based on his public statement that ‘when he, as a non-realist, crosses the Equator, he sees the whole system of lines…”, he has never in fact crossed the Equator aboard a ship at all, and thus that his veracity is as unreal as his philosophy.

[Or, without the cheerful sarcasm, Cupitt and his philosophy (it certainly can’t be called a theology, unless his ego is great enough to see himself as theos) are of complete irrelevance to the Faith, except in that some of those who believe such sophomoric silliness still dare call themselves Christian… and worse, are allowed to speak as authorities about, for and to the Faith to which they do not either believe or belong.]

[102] Posted by Conego on 8-17-2010 at 09:24 PM · [top]

[comment deleted—off topic; as I said earlier, we understand the words on this site quite nicely, thanks]

[103] Posted by Wilf on 8-18-2010 at 03:24 AM · [top]

Wilf raises a valid point:  In practice, within portions of the Anglican Communion, words and ideas have been evacuated of their original meaning.  For example, if one does not believe in an external supernatural being as God,then the idea of the Incarnation logically has no applicability.  If there is no external supernatural God and no Incarnation, then, logically, there is no Atonement.  If there is no external supernatural God, no Incarnation, no Atonement, then, logically, there is no grace:  “ye were bought at a price.”
The Sea of Faith philosophy makes a mockery of all that we hold dear.  It makes a mockery of our Lord and God.  It makes a mockery of the sacrifices of the saints.  Its tolerance within the church radically redefines the church as the Body of Christ.  I’m sorry, but I do not see how one can escape the logical conclusion that an anti-realist is an anti-Christ.  Christ is real!

[104] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 8-18-2010 at 07:25 AM · [top]

The image that comes to me is that of an abortionist sucking the brains out of the skull of the unborn baby.  The remaining collapsed head is still recognizable but its shape has taken on a surreal configuration.  The life is gone.  This worldview is every bit as deadly to the faith inherited as the abortionist’s suction tube.

[105] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 8-18-2010 at 07:43 AM · [top]

According to a 1999 article, the Sea of Faith has 700 followers in the UK, up to 50 of whom are Anglican priests. Is it any wonder that the attendance in the CoE is declining?  If there is no grace (#104), there is no good news. 
There has been an infiltration of this philosophical worldview into Anglican clergy, all the way up to the level of primate (Richard Holloway).  Perhaps canon law does not allow for their dismissal; I don’t know.  However, if no cares enough to change canon law, is it any wonder that the Church of England is declining?

[106] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 8-18-2010 at 09:40 AM · [top]

If the revisionists want big goals like reconciliation, dialogue, communion, etc., those all hinge on trust.  Packing influential offices with functional atheists in clergy clothing poisons that key ingredient, at least for orthodox believers. 

Which brings up the assumption that appeals to reconciliation, dialogue and sacramental unity are manipulations toward institutional power and entitlement, not love.

[107] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 8-18-2010 at 10:06 AM · [top]

I’ve done some googling regarding Janet Trisk and after skimming a number of things, I am left with the impression of a woman who has a heart particularly for womens’ issues in the church, for the Palestinian cause, and who works at creating dialogue between various groups and trying to build bridges.  I find nothing particularly rant-worthy and little that could be called extremist, and aside from her endorsement of Sea of Faith theology, no remarks which attempt to re-define Christology.

I have found no statements as utterly awful as those of +KJS - on the other hand, I have read much more of +KJS, I have benefited from pointers of thousands of concerned Anglicans reading her work, and +KJS is under obligation to produce much more public speech than Trisk.

Trisk, like +KJS in most occasions, comes off as benevolent, nobly intentioned, and working hard at creating peace in the world.

It is important for those of us who are deeply concerned about the Gospel to realize that apostasy does not make of those it touches persons who are easily identifiable.  They are often kind people with ample gifts in helping others, and willing to sacrifice time and effort for noble causes.  Those touched by apostasy do not sprout horns or tails.  They are not like Hollywood caricatures who will suddenly wince or snarl and thereby reveal the “evil” inside.  They can be amongst the sweetest people we have met.

I have had a few opportunities to speak with a Dutch pastor of another denomination who seems to have given up his belief in God (he is, thankfully, finding alternative employment).  He was once very enthusiastic about evangelism and developed a program more characteristic of conservative evangelicals; he was disappointed when this program went on for years at considerable cost, and did not bring a single person into the church.  I was struck once with something he said, which seemed to have had a weighty effect on him: “those people who believe in another gospel - sometimes they are kind old ladies, the sweetest you’ve ever met.”  It could be that dwelling on this aided in the thought processes which eventually led to his loss of faith.  Perhaps he expected apostasy always to be accompanied by horns and a tail (figuratively, of course).

It is possible that Trisk has simply not done much work in thinking out the implications of teachings in the church, and has never been taught about the problems of apostasy.  She may have joined Sea of Faith after having done reading which she felt Anglican clergy and professors would approve of, taken up by the argument of the “comprehensitivity” of Anglican theology.

Nonetheless, her open affiliation points to a condition of apostasy present in the Communion - even if we do not wish to direct the charge of apostasy at her personally.  I am still not sure if the word “apostate” would fit her.  But I am very sure that the affiliation shows clearly that our church suffers apostasy.

[108] Posted by Wilf on 8-19-2010 at 02:24 AM · [top]

Janet Trisk and Dr. Sue Burns (NZ, director of Anglican Studies, St John’s Theological College, Auckland - is heading the continuing indaba sessions on sexuality) authored together a chapter in the book The Anglican Communion and Homosexuality.  Some of you may have this book in .pdf form - Ruth Gledhill released the .pdf of the galleys of this book on her blog site, though it was later withdrawn.  I have it but have not yet taken the time to re-read this.  I remember being very impressed with the book’s chapter on science.

[109] Posted by Wilf on 8-19-2010 at 03:46 AM · [top]

It is an odd creed:

1. There is no God.
2. I worship something in my head.
3. I try really hard to pretend I am not worshiping myself.

Are lots of people flocking to this?

[110] Posted by Just a Baptist on 8-19-2010 at 06:54 AM · [top]

In order to promote pansexuality (the exercise of the alphabet of sexual behaviors recommended by Gene Robinson) as a merely alternative lifestyle (without negative consequence to spirit, soul, body, relationships or society) factual evidence in secular science, mental and medical clinical practice, CDC, social work and police statistics has had to be denied, distorted and/or hidden.

Both APA groups, psychology and psychiatry groups, were willing to yeild to the pressures of agenda groups.  Likewise, the AMA and NEA are pro-pansexuality and pro-abortion despite the evidence.  Sadly, science and medicine (likewise legislation and justice) can be bent, bought and bullied.  Big drug companies do it all the time.

[111] Posted by St. Nikao on 8-19-2010 at 07:30 AM · [top]

Sarah Dylan Breuer claims mostly orthodox belief (e.g. bodily resurrection of Jesus) whereas it appears that Janet Trisk and KJS and certainly Spong and Borg do not.  And yet SDB seems happy to co-operate with them.  Could it be that what they have in common (i.e. commitment to progressive justice, and gay rights) is greater than what divides them (i.e. the creeds)?

Indeed I find that in re-appraiser groups, orthodoxy is optional but (say) feminism and “full inclusion for the baptized” (what a wonderful cloak) are touchstone requirements.  Recall that when the Christ Church Plano workshop was held, not a single staff member of 815 was able to affirm that sexuality was licit only within the bounds of Holy Matrimony, and so none were able to attend, although I’m sure there was a wide variety of doctrinal “diversity” on other topics.

If Anglicanism is defined around the BCP, and even if our USA version is defined around the Baptismal Covenant, this still includes the Apostle’s creed, then this should be more important than pushing the progressive agenda.  If SDB would move in Executive Council that all clergy and lay leaders in TEC and ACC (i,e. including Trisk) who cannot accept the bodily resurrection of Jesus are asked to resign from their positions of leadership, then I will believe she is serious in her orthodoxy.  Otherwise as she says, (partial) orthodoxy is simply a nice “cup of tea” for her.

[112] Posted by John Boyland on 8-19-2010 at 10:00 AM · [top]

Been away a while.

In RE the Eucharistic rite:
coming soon to a church? near you. Watch out!
Dumb Sheep. (Still wooly headed)

[113] Posted by dumb sheep on 8-19-2010 at 01:46 PM · [top]

Just a Baptist (110) asks: <blockquote>Are lots of people flocking to this?<blockquote>
No. It’s hard to flock without a Shepherd…

[114] Posted by Conego on 8-19-2010 at 04:06 PM · [top]

Wilf I would value a copy of that pdf

[115] Posted by Martin Reynolds on 8-20-2010 at 11:54 AM · [top]

A fun hymn (Modern and Ancient) on The See of Faith folowers, Let us with an open mind (Sea of Faith)

[116] Posted by Lars on 8-22-2010 at 04:01 PM · [top]

Lars (116), An open mind is a good thing. However (as has been demonstrated by some of our most open-minded leadership), if you open it too far, your brains fall out…

[117] Posted by Conego on 8-22-2010 at 06:26 PM · [top]

[115] Martin Reynolds:

I think what your looking for is here.

[118] Posted by leonL on 8-22-2010 at 11:01 PM · [top]

#118 I think that’s a description of the contents of each chapter rather than the chapters themselves. The book itself seems to be for sale, eg at:

[119] Posted by driver8 on 8-22-2010 at 11:16 PM · [top]

How ironic and tragic that we have a brainiac Archbishop of Canterbury but he’s overseeing a Communion that is increasingly devoid of any magisterium. Talk about squandered gifts. Reports like this make me wonder how the guy makes it out of bed in the morning.
[92] Posted by polycarp on 08-17-2010 at 08:21 AM • top

From all assaults of the Devil, Good Lord deliver us.  And give us the magisterium that we sorely need.
[93] Posted by cennydd13 on 08-17-2010 at 09:26 AM • top

You’ve got a magisterium, or rather several.  You’ve got the House of Commons for the CoE, and you’ve got General Convention for TEC.

Why they are thought to have a charism of infallibility I don’t know.  Perhaps their adherents don’t mind fallible magisteria.  But they certainly don’t seem bound by anything outside themselves, completely aside from the question of their own authority to bind and loose here or elsewhere.

[120] Posted by Ed the Roman on 8-26-2010 at 06:12 AM · [top]


“I find nothing particularly rant-worthy and little that could be called extremist, and aside from her endorsement of Sea of Faith theology”

Yeh, that’s like saying,

“I find nothing particularly rant-worthy and little that could be called extremist, and aside from her endorsement of Witchcraft.”

How on earth would you or could you possibly conclude that the inclusion of someone who endorses a “theology” which denies the real existence of God and the reality of divine revelation on one of the primary decision making councils of the church to be not worthy of a rant?

Why not just make Richard Dawkins a bishop while we’re at it?

[121] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-26-2010 at 06:25 AM · [top]

It is possible that Trisk has simply not done much work in thinking out the implications of teachings in the church, and has never been taught about the problems of apostasy.

To quote from her bio cited above in the article-
“Janet is a South African and a lecturer in Systematic Theology and Spirituality at the College of the Transfiguration, Grahamstown, South Africa.”
It is always useful to read the linked resources before jumping in with an excuse for aberrant behavior.  I am trying to figure out how someone could lecture on theology at an accredited college, not to mention be a seminary graduate, ordained in a church that still maintains some standards (unlike, say, TEC), without a doing some work in “thinking out the implications of teachings in the church” and without learning about “apostasy.”
So her apostasy is intentional.  As was her attempt to disrupt the Communion at ACC.  Her appointment to the SC by those intent on destroying the Communion was also intentional. 
Most of us long ago stopped giving any credibility to the “naivety” argument- or to its proponents.

[122] Posted by tjmcmahon on 8-26-2010 at 07:10 AM · [top]

Matt #121:
In using the word “rant-worthy” I was speaking of her writings.  Amongst her writings, I found nothing that would send me off on a rant - though her membership in Sea of Faith is rantworthy.

But yes, this is more evidence that we all share a condition of apostasy, and that all Anglicans should charitably consider as legitimate the view that Anglicans are not Christians, a view I am increasingly being confronted with.  And I do believe that one of our top priorities should be in ensuring that our condition of apostasy does not spread over into other churches.

This brings me to another thought: to a certain extent, it is not right for us to “point” at Janet Trisk, or +KJS for that matter, in the manner of “the one who is to blame.”  In Trisk’s case, the blame is largely the ACC’s; In +KJS’s case, it’s largely TEC’s.  These people would not have been placed in positions where they are bringing another gospel into the church had it not been for the bodies that put them in their positions.  Above all, we must blame the Anglican Communion, and do what we can to convince the Communion of the need for serious, prolonged, open, explicit, public repentance.  Because I don’t know another church in history which has had this type of problem, to this massive degree as ourselves.

Another thing we must do is: study apostasy.  Most Christians avoid this topic like the plague (it is sort of like a plague), and we have avoided it more than most Christians.  So we know very little about it and have no clue as to how to deal with it.  The very topic tends to send us spinning - note, Matt, how you misread me here, probably because we are talking about this ugly ugly issue of apostasy.

And now you may say, “ok Wilf, enough with the ranting.”

[123] Posted by Wilf on 8-26-2010 at 07:41 AM · [top]

tjmcmahon -

I am trying to figure out how someone could lecture on theology at an accredited college, not to mention be a seminary graduate, ordained in a church that still maintains some standards (unlike, say, TEC), without a doing some work in “thinking out the implications of teachings in the church” and without learning about “apostasy.”

TJ, I also saw that she teaches systematic theology, so she should know better - but we’ve seen a lot of TEC influence in South Africa.  And also: I had an Episcopal priest who, I believe, had never read the four gospels through in English (or any other language).  And: very, very very few are willing to even begin *thinking* about “apostasy.”  It’s almost as if the very reflection on this topic makes one a dreaded “fundamentalist.”  In our Communion it’s almost as if apostasy is considered as utterly impossible, except for those who contemplate it who are somehow the “true apostates.”

It’s for this reason that I think that study of apostasy - from Scripture, but then also with other sociological tools and simple observation / thinking should be a very very high priority for the Communion.  If we have not thought about it, we are likely to have serious arguments amongst ourselves.  It’s like being hit by the plague.  You want to know its symptomatology, how it spreads, how it doesn’t spread, which persons who have been touched by it are rather easily saved from its effects, which persons are more difficult and more likely to spread it.  We need to know what conditions are likely to make it spread further.  We need to know all these things or, like in a plague epidemic, we are likely to begin doing seriously irrational things, and uncharitable things, thus causing some to be stricken who otherwise could have been saved, were we better informed.

Apostasy is so horrid, no one wants to study it.  But we desperately need to, and our study could perhaps also aid other churches.

[124] Posted by Wilf on 8-26-2010 at 07:57 AM · [top]

E.g., on the issue of “studying apostasy”:

A young priest freshly ordained has doubts about the resurrection.  He’s read some who affirm it, some who deny it.  He is somewhat ashamed that he doesn’t simply confidently affirm it.  He brings up this issue with other priests, with his bishop.

What reactions of the other priests, of the bishop, are likely to aid the cause of apostasy, and undermine his faith in the resurrection?  What is likely to add bitterness to the lack of faith, or perhaps even enthusiasm for teaching that the resurrection is not important?  How is this likely to progress?  What kinds of things, along the way, are likely to help bring him back to faith, and what sorts of things are likely to further apostasy?

What cases do we know of, and what can actual apostates, if we deem it possible to speak with them about such matters, teach us about this, if they are willing to discuss?  And if they are willing to discuss, how can we ascertain that they are being honest, or that such discussion is really productive and helping more than it hurts?  Are there any guidelines we should have in discussing matters with persons who have been clearly touched by apostasy?  Are there ways we can be honest, and assurances we can give them which will help them be honest?

These, and other questions, need to be addressed.  We really have no methodology for studying apostasy.  This makes sense, as well: apostasy is a very “boundary condition” of the Church.  When we study it, we are touching on some of our most basic presuppositions.  However, such a study could also prove to be enlightening, if carried out by persons who have aptitude for such things, and something of a philosophical mindset, for spotting underlying interconnections, and critically handling generalizations.

[125] Posted by Wilf on 8-26-2010 at 08:26 AM · [top]

Wilf, Perhaps the young priest can gain understanding from the Bible: John, chapter 14; these are the words Jesus spoke to his disciples (soon to be His Apostles) when preparing them for His death and resurrection.

15. If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.
16. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever,
17. even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you.
18. I will not leave you desolate: I come unto you.
19. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
  John 14: 15-19 King James version

[126] Posted by Betty See on 8-26-2010 at 05:00 PM · [top]

Wilf, With regard to you question about boundaries:

36. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
  John:18, verse 36, New International Version

[127] Posted by Betty See on 8-26-2010 at 05:31 PM · [top]

Wilf, I believe Ken Hamm produced a study on the causes of apostasy in youth called “Already Gone”. The most significant finding is not that believers mostly fall away in college, but that they mostly fall away in their teen years, but continue to attend church to please their parents. They have been taught the Bible as merely a bunch of stories, and have not been built up in a serious attempt to study Scripture and deal with challenges to it, and are thus easy pickings for their college profs (professors like Trisk, one might add wink ).

[128] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 8-26-2010 at 06:55 PM · [top]

SpongJohn, this is apostasy in the sense of “leaving the church,” which is not what we’re warned of in the New Testament - the sense of apostasy that we’re warned of are people who bring “another gospel” into the church.  Most of those who continue to attend church merely to please parents won’t be so dedicated as to choose a career as a cleric.  In the New Testament, it’s people why are IN the church, and bring into that church that “other gospel.”

I believe that some are genuinely interested in the church as an institution, but are not yet ready to lead, and do not have an adequately developed faith for leadership.  The insufficient faith is then challenged and leads to bitterness and self-justification of one’s sufficiency to lead and teach in church without such faith.

One must ask this question: why on earth would persons choose to be clerics, when they really do not believe in Christ?  I don’t think this is usually a case of “ulterior motives” - i.e., beginning with a desire to “infiltrate” or to be a paid civil rights activist.  I think it’s a case of something which seriously goes wrong with the development of faith, which is then made a more or less permanent condition by interactions within the church.  In a church which has already fallen into a serious condition of apostasy, it becomes all the more difficult for such a person to regain a healthy faith in Christ, and more likely for such a person to actually begin teaching things which are very much contrary to the Gospel.

This is all speculation, though.  I think we need more information, more reflection, more application of whatever resources we have.

[129] Posted by Wilf on 8-26-2010 at 07:09 PM · [top]

Wilf, I think that unless you are a revisionist, and I hope you are not, Apostasy still means a renunciation of faith, for instance if you renounce the faith of the Apostles of Christ you are considered an Apostate.
I don’t think this means that you are apostate if you simply have doubts, that is where faith comes in, but if you have sworn to defend the Christian faith you have an obligation to teach the faith as it has been handed down to us by the Apostles through Scripture.
It is my understanding that Apostasy refers to renouncing the teachings of the Apostles of Christ, it does not refer to any particular denomination or to any particular geographic boundary.

[130] Posted by Betty See on 8-26-2010 at 08:56 PM · [top]

Wilf (125) wrote:

We really have no methodology for studying apostasy.

And Betty See’s responses (126,127,130), although I truly agree with her, would be insufficient with the new priest.  If the new (I’ll use ‘new’ instead of ‘young’, given the average age of seminarians nowadays) priest’s seminary professors, and the more senior priests, and even the avowed guardian of the Faith, his bishop, are all telling him that the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth and the Comforter, are the cause of the “new things” God is doing in TEC, then the new priest will be all the more inclined to follow them into apostacy.

We’re not doing anything new here—the same problems have been faced by the Church since at least the Donatists and Arius. In the case of this new priest, I would introduce him to the Church Fathers—who probably evaded mention in seminary—and in particular to St. Vincentius [or Vincent] of Lerin and his 5th Century test for orthodoxy (and therefore against apostasy).

Vincent wrote:

Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est.

Or, by my (fallible) translation: “That faith is orthodox which has been believed by Christians everywhere in the Church, at all times, by all the faithful.

The advantage to having lived in the 5th Century is that you can say “at all times” with a straight face—even then it was more goal than milemarker.  The Great Schism, a thousand years ago or so, was in part over the filioque, which few modern Christians can get their blood pressures up about but which is a good example of Vincentius’ belief that to be the One Church we must believe the same things about God, let alone after the “Great Schism-Part 2” (Now starring Martin Luther,Iñigo de Oñez y Loyola, Jean Calvin, Teresa de Jesús de Avila, Oliver Cromwell and many more!)  [And if there appears to be just a ‘note’ of irreverence, it’s not. Rather, it’s sorrow: issues of differences in Christian faith once got people so angry that during the Council of Alexandria in 362 that there were streetfights about homoiousia and one-versus-three hypostases, when now so many people seem to choose their religion (if any) based on whether the church has good childcare, a gym, and a narthex Starbucks. America’s Idol, though, or the Superbowl…. now there they have opinions!

But back to Vicentius, or Vincent…

There’s an excellent book by a Thomas Oden (which is unfortunately in a box in a storage container some 6,000 miles from me, but which—thanks to a class I gave once—I have bits* of on my C Drive [*inadvertent pun alert!]. It´s called “The Rebirth of Orthodoxy”: Harper - San Francisco published it in 2003. [Yes, some clergy continue to buy new books even after seminary, despite the calumny that you can date a priest’s M.Div. by looking at his bookshelf!]

At the end of his book, Thomas Oden writes about St. Vincent of Lerins’ “systematic analysis of the Church´s classical method of defining and maintaining Christian orthodoxy”. According to Oden, the essence of Vincent’s fourfold test is this:

1. The universal prevails over the particular (the whole is preferred to the part – ubique, semper, omnibus.)
2. The older apostolic witness prevails over the newer alleged general consent.
3. Conciliar actions and decisions prevail over ‘faith-claims’ not tested by conciliar acts.
4. Where no conciliar rule avails, the most reliable consensual ancient authorities prevail over those less consensual and/or less ancient generations.

[Apparently Vincent didn’t know that the 20th & 21st centuries would boast generations brought up believing commercials, a culture in which “New and Improved!” is redundant.]

Given that, thanks to the Great Schism and its sequel, it has been over a millennium since the last Œcumenical Council (“just-West” or just-East” doesn’t hack it, and heaven knows diocesan or General Conventions don’t!), then major changes in what the Church teaches and believes (such as the Virgin Birth of our Lord, His death on the Cross and physical Resurrection, His being the Way, the Truth, and the Life) aren’t optional—we can believe them and be Christians, or choose to disbelieve them and call them myths or metaphors… but if the latter, we cannot also call ourselves “Christian”. “Christian” was defined by the apostolic leadership—the bishops—of the whole Church, meeting in Council, and their definitions may only be changed by the bishops of the whole Church, meeting in Council. 

As Betty See pointed out in 127, there’s only one boundary that matters, and it’s not national. God created the earth—national boundaries are human-made, and usually at gunpoint. The only boundary we need worry about it that of the Body of Christ: when it comes to true essentials, I have more in common with a Christian Bantu tribesman who has never seen a two-story building or a flush toilet than I do with my atheist next-door neighbor. But the Bantu and I are both members of the same Body—he may be a hand, and I a foot, but I cannot say “I have no need of you” without crippling the Body. [Crippled bodies don’t function as well as whole ones—trust me.] For all our many, many differences, the most important thing in his life and mine is the same: faith in Christ Jesus. (As Betty See adds in #130, that doesn’t mean that you can’t sometimes doubt. Sometimes doubt is the only “normal” reaction to a situation. The response to doubt, though, is the decision to believe despite our faith.) Is it sinful to doubt?  Was it sinful to cry out, “Élo-i, Élo-i, láma sabach-tháni?”  It’s human to sometimes have doubts, to have fears. That human weakness is why we must be part of the greater Body, which supports us when we cannot. And it therefore underlines the importance of defining just what that Body is, what it is we believe together, that we may be One. “If one member suffers, all suffer together, if one member is honored, all are honored together.” (1 Cor 12:26)

That’s why the Body of Christ some 1600-1700 years ago, knew it was necessary to define “Christian”. Anyone is welcome to believe anything else they please, but only whilst acknowledging that what they believe is the not what the Church defined as “Christian.  They may choose to use the name “Christian”—I can’t stop them, just as I can’t stop the Mormons from telling the world they’re Christian (and in the US military, Mormon chaplains are classified not just as Christian but as Protestant Christians—under the Constitution, faith groups can define themselves without government interference).  They may claimed to have eaten and drunk with the Lord, and that He taught in their streets (St. Luke 13:26) But… if they were just there because they heard there were free fish sandwiches, if they weren’t listening to what he taught, if they don’t believe what Christians believe about Jesus Christ’s birth or resurrection or divinity, it’s like my saying that I have a million dollars in my checking account.  I can say it—I can even believe it (Hey—God’s “doing a new thing!” with my finances!), but when I go to cash that check it’s going to bounce. My saying I’m rich doesn’t make it so. Their saying they’re Christian doesn’t make so.

And that’s what I’d put before our new young priest. (Remember him? Way at the top of the post?) I’d tell him that there are certain things which Christians have, since before the canon of the New Testament was even firmly decided upon, said define what it means to be a Christian. Some of them may be out of fashion—may appear ‘exclusive’. That’s true, and it makes being a Christian hard sometimes.

Doctrine´s not “writ in stone”, of course—the Holy Spirit didn’t wrap up with the last New Testament author, guide the last Œcumenical Council, and then retire.  If there are beliefs, rules, anathemas, doctrines—anything that we think should be changed and updated, and if it is God’s will that it happen, then with God’s help another Œcumenical Council can be called, with the all the primates and bishops of the Church Catholic and whatever God wants to work out for the leadership of the thousands of Protestant Churches and sects, and they can meet in Council with the guidance of the Holy Ghost and make whatever changes God deems necessary or worthwhile.  Who knows—maybe, if the whole leadership of Body of Christ on earth so votes, God will say gay marriage is now okay (I really, really doubt it, given God’s constancy, but I’m not God’s boss—he’s mine). If that Œcumenical Council, guided by the Spirit, comes to some conclusion with which I disagree, I’ve two choices: grit my teeth and obey my vows, or renounce my claim to being Christian. And if the folks at TEC really believe that it’s God’s will to have practicing gay and lesbian bishops, or to teach that all religions are equally valid and salvific (maybe the first; not the second), then instead of simply announcing that they’re changing the rules (which they can’t, though it’s “easy”), they should start putting all of their energy into bringing together such an Œcumenical Council (which they can, though it’s not easy).

It is indeed a “narrow door” through which we must pass, and there is but one Way to get to that narrow door. But although we are all invited—no, encouraged, almost begged—to follow that Way and to believe that Truth, eternal Life will not be forced upon us. Christ Jesus came to save us all… but He won’t stop us from saying “No, thanks—I prefer to do it my own way”.

But if we say that, we shouldn’t also claim we’re Christians.

[131] Posted by Conego on 8-26-2010 at 11:51 PM · [top]

The response to doubt, though, is the decision to believe despite our faith.)

Where the text says “despite our faith”, please read “despite our loss of faith”. I’m in a very different timezone, with a unfinished sermon…

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea minima culpa…
[And trust me, you don’t want to see maxima]

[132] Posted by Conego on 8-27-2010 at 12:07 AM · [top]

Conego, You made a very good point when you said: “If the new priest’s seminary professors, and the more senior priests, and even the avowed guardian of the Faith, his bishop, are all telling him that the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth and the Comforter, are the cause of the “new things” God is doing in TEC”.
That probably is true but it seems to me that the new priest is consulting the wrong authorities.
If the new priest is concerned (as some Episcopalians are) about not leaving his brain at the door, he should thoroughly study the real authority, the Bible, because that is where he will find the truthful answer to his questions.

[133] Posted by Betty See on 8-27-2010 at 01:34 AM · [top]

Betty See & Conengo,
Thanks for those contributions.
Betty See, with “apostasy” I mean: bringing another gospel into the church.  I.e., one may attend church for years and believe that one has faith - but at some moment, say, “no, I was wrong, I’m an atheist,” and leave the church (thereby also renouncing the teachings of the apostles).  But that person has LEFT the church.  This is NOT what I mean by apostasy and is not what Paul condemns in Galatians 1, and persons about whom we read in the books of Jude and 2 John.
The meaning I use is: one who does not accept the faith of the apostles; but moreover, stays in the church; and moreover, teaches contrary to the faith of the apostles.
E.g.: Richard Holloway, Bishop of Edinburgh, Primus and Primate of the Episcopal Church of Scotland ... at one moment, decides, “I do not believe in God.”  What he then does is: steps down as the Bishop of Edinburgh, and is no longer Primus.  I say: very, very good, exactly what he needs to do.  He still associates himself with the church and attends services, but does not do so as a bishop.  I say: thank you, Richard Holloway.  This is not the sense of the word apostasy as I’m using it.
E.g.: John Shelby Spong, Bishop of Newark ... denies just about everything we believe in.  He refuses to step down and even threatens that he will never retire if he is pressured by the Presiding Bishop at the time, Frank Griswold.  It is this type of behavior that I am speaking of with the word “apostasy” - for Spong remains IN the church as a bishop, and brings into that church “another gospel.”  This is the sense of the word apostasy as I use it.
Thus - apostasy ab ordine is, in many cases, a good thing.

Granted - this is not always what we refer to with the word “apostasy.”  I believe it is this sense, however, that’s most relevant to the Communion, and describes how we suffer a condition of apostasy - that at our highest levels we have persons teaching contrary to the very very most basic things about Christ which are essential to faith.

As for the young priest, let’s give him a name - how about Fr. Bob?

[134] Posted by Wilf on 8-27-2010 at 05:04 AM · [top]

Betty See (133), Having been a new priest once (albeit not recently), I would rather encourage him to find an orthodox and experienced mentor, to avoid getting into all kinds of trouble. 

When you write “he should thoroughly study the real authority, the Bible, because that is where he will find the truthful answer to his questions”, without disagreeing with you about the value of Scripture, I would only hope that his Bible falls open first to 2 Peter 1:20-21: “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but by men moved by the Holy Spirit of God.” [That’s the RSV; in the KJV it´s “...or the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”] I even looked at two other English translations and two in Portuguese—in every case, the ‘negative’ is regarding individual interpretation, and the true prophecies came to men (plural). If I were that young priest, I hope that I’d say that the message was clear—don’t try to go it alone with your Bible, but seek God’s word in the company of “holy men of God”. That’s part of why we’re the Body of Christ—we’re part of a community, and those with less experience, knowledge, etc. really do need help from those with more. I’ve both mentored and been mentored, and both are invaluable. I was the officially-appointed mentor for a man in the diocesan diaconal training program in my last US diocese (South Carolina, for which thanks be to God), and continued unofficially until I left the States, and it was not just an honor for me, but also a “pay-forward” for the priest who’d mentored me when I was first in a parish on my own. Back when I was a new Navy chaplain forward deployed with the Marines, I was automatically assigned a more experienced chaplain to ‘show me the ropes’ (the Corps is a different world, with its own language—such help is necessary), and in the second half of my Marine tour I took on that role three or four times with other new chaplains.

When I was first in the parish on my own, if I hadn’t had someone to call for help and advice, sometimes I would have foundered. I certainly read my Bible, but not all questions have easily-found Scriptural answers. [Jesus never got to mediate between a Junior Warden and a Treasurer when they were both right: yes, we did need to fix the hole in the roof before the snows, and yes, there was no money to pay for it (and each knew the other had planned it just to make him look bad), nor did Jesus’ bishop order him to do the ‘test run’ of the first experimental “inclusive language” liturgy in his parish, against the loudly-expressed wishes of both Bishop’s Committee and congregation (which dates me). Both happened to me, in my first four months in my first parish.]

Let me create a worst-case scenario for you, with tongue slightly in cheek:

Imagine this poor young priest, just past a not-particularly-helpful curacy under a priest who went to EDS, and now newly arrived, on his own in his first small-town parish… when one of the women from the choir comes to his office (he´s not sure of her name—he’s met so many people in the past week!). 

“Father, we’re going to do something special for next week’s baptism of Joanne’s grandson. A group of us decided that we should do a liturgical dance—you know, symbolizing how we go down under the water all covered in our dirty sins, but then baptism strips it them from us and we come up with all that just washed away.  We won’t really be naked or anything—we’re going to start out wearing some of the old, dirty choir cassocks from the basement, maybe tear them a little and make them look really bad, and then rise up in just flesh-colored bikinis or bras and panties. We’ve been rehearsing our performance, and we’re sure it will really get the point across about how God washes away our sins. So all I wanted to ask you—do you mind if the service runs a little longer Sunday, or should we cut the Communion hymn?”

The young priest is feeling a little bull-dozed at this point: the choir member has been at the parish a lot longer than he has, and she wasn’t asking for permission to do this “dance”—the only choice she offered was to run late or cut a hymn. At least he´s smart enough to say he’ll have to think and pray about it, and get back to her. Knowing that the bishop and his fellow clergy are pretty liberal, he goes right to his Bible (and concordance—he did get enough training in seminary to know about concordances). So he looks up things like baptism—not much there fits the question. He tries ‘dance’, and discovers 2 Samuel 6: 14-21, in which King David dances before the Holy Ark of the Lord in front of all the people of Israel, wearing nothing but an ephod—a linen apron that would have covered his front but left his backside bare, and then only if he danced very sedately. And when David´s wife, the daughter of Saul, criticizes him for “shamelessly uncovering himself” in front of his servants’ maids, he responds that ‘it was the Lord who chose him as King’ and that he was right to “make merry before the Lord”... and in the next paragraph (Ch. 7:1-3) the Lord’s prophet tells David that the Lord is happy with him.

It still felt a little strange, the young priest thought, but the Bible was clear:  This is something God approves of in worship. So he called up the choir women and told them to start working on their tans.

And they all lived happily never after.

[135] Posted by Conego on 8-27-2010 at 07:14 AM · [top]

I would agree that the Church Fathers are something of a useful antidote to theological cynicism learned by aspiring clergy in most seminaries (TEC isn’t the only culprit), but it, in itself is not sufficient. I say this because much of our “modern” mindset eschews history as outdated, inaccurate and, most importantly, irrelevant. That prejudice probably applies to anything before last year. (Well maybe I do exaggerate, but not by much.)

But I think one also has to provide an antidote to the poisonous effect of virtually all of 19th and 20th century biblical criticism, which is the stuff of what is taught in the seminaries as unblemished truth. My guess is that most seminary students in the past century lack the specific knowledge of first century history to see where what they are taught is simply wrong. For example, Crossan’s Jesus the Palestinian peasant—the evidence is that Joseph, Jesus and his brothers were “carpenters.” Carpenters—whatever that might actually mean but not necessarily what we understand the word to mean—are not and were not, by any definition, peasants. They could be (in first century Palestine) a worker in wood (actually somewhat unlikely in Nazareth), a construction worker (mostly in stone, which is more likely for Joseph and sons), or building contractors (which is also a possibility). In any case Joseph and sons would be either craftsmen or businessmen, not peasants. Another example would be the contention that Mark (and consequently the rest of the gospels) could not have been written before in AD 70 because supposedly Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the temple is too specific. Actually, of course, it isn’t all that specific and certainly the knowledge of Roman siege methods was well know in Jesus’ time—scores of cities had been destroyed by Roman legions in this fashion and Jerusalem itself was besieged and partially destroyed less than a century before Jesus’ prediction by Pompey Magnus.

They are probably also unaware of the blistering critiques of much 19th and early 20th century scholarship in recent years. Is J.A.T. Robinson’s Redating the New Testament required reading. There are many recent articles and books critiquing higher criticism and the whole notion of community traditions. In other words, “scholarship” is by no means limited these days to the Jesus Seminar and its popularizers. And it is the latter that seminarians are being indoctrinated in with the consequence they are cynical about the New Testament (not to mention the Old Testament) authority.

[136] Posted by Septuagenarian on 8-27-2010 at 09:08 AM · [top]

Conego, The reason I suggested a thorough study of the Bible is so that misintepretations can be recognized.
The bible tells us that King David was a great King, but it also tells us that he was a fallible human being so it would be foolish to emulate everything that King David did.

[137] Posted by Betty See on 8-27-2010 at 09:36 AM · [top]

What strikes me as critical to young priest Fr. Bob is his feeling of trust in the church.  I don’t take Fr. Bob to be a guy of great faith, more someone who has some sense of “calling” like many of the people from TEC and the Church of England who “feel called.”

Fr. Bob knows that some people think that Jesus walked on the water and some don’t - but he can’t get around the fact that the resurrection is central to Christianity, and he knows that this teaching in TEC is a dim light, while in some places pastors will teach that it is unimportant (i.e., can be replaced with a feeling of “new life” or “overcoming” etc. etc.).  He feels that it is important, but it gnaws at him that he is not sure whether he believes it or not.

He consults his bishop (or another peer - e.g. another priest).  My thought is: on many occasions, the bishop consulted will probably think that he is acting with “charity” in telling Bob something like this:

“The resurrection is a great mystery.  I will not raise myself up as a judge of your faith.  You are doing a fine job, just keep doing it, God will honor your faith which is apparent in all you do.”

I think that this type of reaction will likely confound Bob, and though Bob may be relieved when he first hears it ... after days, weeks, or months, it will rather sting him.  He will feel like his church is letting him down.  He will think: “I was not looking for simple affirmation, ‘keep up the good work’; I was hoping to be engaged, challenged, supported in this difficult time ... but my peers don’t care enough about my faith, and are worried that I will feel that they are judging me.”  He will think: “If those heading the church do not care about the resurrection, how can they expect me, barely done with my curacy, to believe in such things?  And what if I want to believe, but feel I can’t?  How can anyone believe such things, in this environment?”
He may think: “Perhaps it’s not the fundamentalist churches that have this wrong, but it’s we who have it wrong” (I’m not saying this is how he should think, but how he’s likely to think - protecting his church in his mind by casting others as “fundamentalist”).  But of course, there will be tremendous pressure to continue to distinguish himself from “the fundamentalists” (in my experience of revisionist churches, maybe one in five sermons contains a very serious jab at “fundamentalists,” sometimes nearly portrayed as the root of all evil).
At this point, he may simply become cynical - My friends don’t seem to have enough faith in the resurrection to find words for me to encourage my faith; and when we come down to it, if belief in the resurrection were in any way normative, it would prove that our church is dead wrong in the most essential thing it does.  This simply can’t be right, I believe too much in the good things about my church to even contemplate this.  The resurrection may be good for those who believe in it if they find strength in this; but it’s wrong to go shoving this stuff down people’s throats.

He becomes further entrenched in this view when encountering people who visit his parish and challenge what he believes.  He feels he has to justify the national church, his diocese, his colleague priests.  He finds himself taking up lines of defense he would never have thought he would consider when he first pursued his feeling of calling, e.g. “who are you to judge the faith of people who have given their lives to serve God and His children?” etc. etc..

The words he choses when he thinks of this himself are of course themselves somewhat skewed, and beg the question on a number of counts.  It’s not a question of whether “we should go shoving this down people’s throats.”  And of course, Fr. Bob tends to misrepresent these other “fundamentalist” churches when he goes through this internal monologue which justifies his position in the church, and the church where he serves.

While Fr. Bob had started out thinking he could be different from those other priests, and have a robust faith in the essentials while being liberal and open minded about questions of doctrine, he is now confronted with the difficulty of maintaining faith in these essentials given the general situation in his diocese.  And when confronted with people speaking of other churches where “the people really believe in God ...” he finds he must offer a rather defensive rebuttal simply to give his own parishoners a sense of purpose in coming to church.  Their parish is united in presenting a vision of faith that challenges the faith of the fundamentalists, etc. etc..  They are for cooperating, for empowering, for liberating, and uniting; and not dividing with trivial and judgmental doctrinal check-points.

Every once in a while, Fr. Bob wonders how this transition came about, and that moment he went to confide in his bishop.  He realizes that at that moment, he did have a kind of faith: a faith in wanting to believe, in recognizing the importance of the resurrection.  This seed of faith itself was then lost due to the bishop’s response, and his reaction to it.  He wonders what his life would have been like if he had not acted in a wounded manner, if he had strength to carry on seeking faith in more than the church as a social institution.  He sees the conflicts he would have had; that his congregation would have been considered by other priests as somehow dangerous or “fundamentalist.”  He sees that this would have gotten him nowhere in his diocese, and wonders if he would have become embittered if this were the road he had taken.  He can barely look back now, since that man was so different from the man he has become.

[138] Posted by Wilf on 8-27-2010 at 10:14 AM · [top]

Wilf, I am not a cleric so I am not qualified to answer Father Bob, but it seems to me that distain for “Fundamentalists” is not sufficient reason to expect priests to ignore the basic fundamentals of the Christian religion. I hope Father Bob will find more helpful mentors within the church or if that is not possible, he might find understanding at a Bible study conducted by Christians of different denominations.
I have benefited from Bible study at my local Episcopal church and our Priest did provide very good guide books for the class so I know resources are available. Possibly Father Bob could look into the resources available through the Anglican Digest. Anyway, I hope and pray that Father Bob will find his way and grow in faith.

[139] Posted by Betty See on 8-27-2010 at 07:43 PM · [top]

Betty See - just so you know - Fr. Bob is fictional - perhaps I should have referred to him as Fictional Fr. Bob.  It’s an exercise in trying to understand why people move into something like apostasy, and how apostasy spreads.

[140] Posted by Wilf on 8-30-2010 at 12:32 PM · [top]

Wilf (140),

Just so you know - Fr. Bob is fictional.

  Given that a goodly number of TEC’s bishops aren’t sure that Jesus isn’t fictional (and certainly most of the claims about his so-called “miracles”* are nothing but fiction… that has been scientifically proven by Marcus Borg et al.), does that mean that Fr. Bob is closer to our Lord than most of the people on this blog?

*Jesus, if he existed, certainly predated the founding of the Church,which meant that He was never ordained, let alone consecrated to the episcopacy.  As we all know that only bishops walk on water (just ask one!), we therefore have clear proof that Jesus’ walking on water was faked… He used really tall stilts, or pontoon-sandles or something.  Dr. Borg could probably tell us, if he trolls these waters. (If he does troll them, I would encourage him to ‘go forth, and seine no more’...)

[Peter’s briefly walking on water, however, may have been legit, since he wasn’t a bishop quite yet, but so soon after they changed the calendar to make the numbers run in the opposite direction, Peter might have gotten confused. He had lived much of his life in BC—I mean,
BCE—and then had to change his whole way of counting years to A.D.—oops, I mean C.E.— maybe he was able to walk on water at first because he thought that he’d already been a bishop. I mean, modern-day seminarians get confused trying to add up years with the calendar change in the middle, and Peter was just a poor uneducated fisherman—waddya expect? He probably didn’t even know how old he was—was he supposed to start subtracting instead of adding when the numbers went the other way?  At least he didn’t have to worry about whether he was goiing to die of old age or SIDS: Nero handled that in 64.]

[141] Posted by Conego on 8-31-2010 at 12:34 AM · [top]

Used to be that Anglican inclusivity was reliance upon orthodox common prayer to hold the faithful, doubters, eccentrics, sinners and the unorthodox in bonds of mutual affection, all turned humbly and reverently toward the mystery of God.

Now, we are ordered to celebrate the certainties of doubters, eccentrics, sinners and heretics, with no real room left for the faithful. 

How wonderful that eccentric elitists, who don’t have the reverence to strip religious garb and titles off of their atheism or the humility to submit their doubts to the possibilities of faith have a mutual admiration club for themselves.

[142] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 12-14-2010 at 10:03 AM · [top]

Didn’t Niebuhr predict her teaching and that of the Social Gospel?
“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”
—H. Richard Niebuhr

[143] Posted by DaveG on 12-14-2010 at 10:11 AM · [top]

I know there is all kind of variability within the RCC and no small amount of dissent from Vatican teaching, but is there an analog of this (or RC members of Sea of Faith)—religion in the name of atheism?  My understanding is that there is a Jewish analog in reconstructiionism that focuses on Jewish ritual as a cultural reality as opposed to a theological one.

[144] Posted by Via Mead (Rob Kirby) on 12-14-2010 at 04:54 PM · [top]

Woolyheaded, academic agnostics that write alot of things that no one reads spotted on the SC of the ACC!!!
Film at 11. 

Shocked, gambling, Rick’s Cafe Americain.

Sea of Faith, 700 members in all of Merry ‘Ol England.  It sounds like the Avg. Sunday attendance in a Diocese of TEC.

“It’s a small world after all”.  The world of Anglican politics is a very small world indeed.  Led by small people I might add.  And getting smaller, on both counts (attendance & leaders), it appears.

[145] Posted by Looking for Leaders on 12-14-2010 at 05:46 PM · [top]

...another winner for TEC.  Or not.

[146] Posted by B. Hunter on 12-15-2010 at 11:28 AM · [top]

This thread’s a bit old but some of the verses from today’s Daily Office speak of “Sea of Faith” thinking:

Ha! You who hide a plan too deep for the LORD, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, ‘Who sees us? Who knows us?’ You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay? Shall the thing made say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of the one who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’? (Isaiah 29)

[147] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 12-23-2010 at 09:39 AM · [top]

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