Breaking: Relationship between Truro and Bishop Johnston Severed [UPDATED]
All I can say is thank you Bishop Guernsey and praise and glory be to God this appears to be finally coming to an end [PDF].
The text of letter follows:
A Statement to the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic
March 14, 2013
“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17)
The Rev. Dr. Tory Baucum, Rector of Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax, VA, has for some time been reaching out in personal friendship with the Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Tory has emphasized that he believes Bishop Johnston is in error about human sexuality and that he wants to win Bishop Johnston to the truth of Christ as found in the Scriptures. A recent statement by the Truro Vestry gives perspective on their friendship; it can be read here.
Earlier this week, John Dominic Crossan, a radical theologian famous for his denials of biblical truth and the historic Christian faith, spoke at an Episcopal church in Northern Virginia with the approval of Bishop Johnston. Crossan gave two addresses to the congregation and spoke to clergy of the Episcopal diocese on Monday morning. The parish online newsletter announced that the clergy event was hosted by Bishop Johnston and the parish rector. An account of Crossan’s visit and talks can be read here.
Bishop Johnston’s action is unconscionable. In spite of his assurances to Tory that he believes the Nicene Creed, he welcomed Crossan, who denies the bodily resurrection of Jesus and says that Jesus’ body was eaten by dogs, and he permitted him to speak unchallenged to clergy in his diocese.
I have talked with Tory Baucum about this. He is grieved over this situation and agrees with my determination that this relationship with Bishop Johnston can no longer continue. We long for the Body of Christ to reflect the unity for which our Lord Jesus prayed (John 17:20-23), but there can be no reconciliation with The Episcopal Church apart from its repentance for false teaching and practice and its return to the truth of the historic Christian faith.
“Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of theeternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Romans 16:25-27)
Faithfully yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. John A. M. Guernsey
UPDATE: Tory Baucum has issued a statement:
Peacemaking for Now – to the faithful of Truro Anglican Church
I believe peacemaking is a Gospel imperative and a defining characteristic of Christian faithfulness and virtue (Matt 5:9). It may lead to reconciliation, but they are not to be equated. Reconciliation is a gift of the Holy Spirit in the truth and authority of Jesus Christ. This week two events were revealed that have challenged the two principles upon which my peacemaking work with Bishop Shannon Johnston was based.
First, Nicene Christianity is the basis upon which I have related to him as a brother in Christand to work for the healing of the Church. Like Augustine, I don’t believe Nicene faith alone can hold the Church together. (Most Donatists were Nicene believers but they were also schismatic and heretical). However, Nicene faith may be sufficient for Christians in a divided church to find common ground for peacemaking. That was, and remains, my hope.
The second principle upon which our peacemaking work was based is that the “imago dei” in every person, even our theological opponents, is the definitive reality which should guide our conduct in conflict. God’s image in us and Christ’s love for us must govern how we treat others in this, or any, conflict.
This week I learned of two events in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia that have challenged those principles of Christian peacemaking.
First was the ordination of a non-celibate lesbian in the former home of the Falls Church Anglican parish this past December. This was a problem of both menu and venue, of what and where it was done. This kind of ordination, which violates scriptural teaching, caused the Anglican schism in the first place. I believe that holding the service at the Falls Church shortly after they lost their building showed a disregard and lack of respect for the good and godly pastor and the people of the Falls Church. This was a failure to treat others in a way that honors the imago dei in each of us. It was extremely painful to learn of this action and my full sympathy is with John Yates+ and his congregation.
Even more egregious was a series of talks given by John Dominic Crossan at a church in the Diocese of Virginia. I believe that Crossan’s work is a contradiction of Nicene faith and events like this undermine Nicene Christianity. Avoiding this kind of aggravating damage is foundational to our efforts at peacemaking. Crossan has appeared in debates with Christian scholars like N.T. Wright to fully and completely debate his theories, which have largely been found in extreme want of support in fact and scholarly analysis. But he appears to have come as a Christian teacher. He is not.
I was waiting to speak to Bishop Shannon personally before issuing this statement. All of the above and, its implications, I have shared with him yesterday. I know he will be issuing his own response soon. I pray the Holy Spirit’s guidance and wisdom upon him as he seeks to repair the damage done by these two actions.
I remain committed to the Gospel imperative of peacemaking, especially as a means to biblical reconciliation but with the advice and counsel of Bishop Guernsey, I am ending this work with +Shannon.
Finally, to the good and wonderful people of Truro and its vestry: I am grateful for your trust in me and your prayers and love to Elizabeth and our family.
Yours in Christ,
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