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February 27, 2006


Making War, Talking Peace

by Matt Kennedy


One of the more disturbing aspects of the current Episcopal turmoil is the obsession many leaders have with language that denies the true extent and depth of our divisions.

There is, these leaders say, much more that unites us than divides us. We must “get on with the mission” and “agree to disagree.” That, after all is the essence of Anglicanism. Peace in our time.

This quote from bishop Peter Lee of Virginia’s pastoral address is a prime example:

One of the historic strengths of our Anglican tradition is our capacity to hold together persons with different emphases, even conflicting emphases in their understanding of the gospel. That historic Anglican tradition is threatened by the differences that now capture our attention. And our differences are too often leading us to focus on our internal life, rather than on the world to which we are sent by Christ’s great commission and great commandment.

The problem is that our “insignificant sexuality dispute” is in reality symptomatic of an irreconcilable clash of worldviews.

The issue that divides us is not insignificant; it is basic, fundamental, essential: Where does authority lie?

Either the bible is the norm, the supreme authority in all matters of doctrine and practice, or it is not.

There is no middle ground.


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16 comments

Ever since I saw Via Media’s plans for the Day After GC 2006, where they are going to start proceedings to depose our Bishops, I have viewed people that want “unity” with great distrust.  They have alterior motives and will stop at nothing to ensure their lurid way of life.  So deceptive.  So wolf in sheeps clothing.  So…serpent-like.

[1] Posted by Milton Finch on 2-27-2006 at 06:57 AM · [top]

Thanks for reminding me Milton,

I intended to link the “Day After” story near the conclusion and I forgot to do so. It is there now in the fourth to the last paragraph. You’re also right that the whole thing is quite serpentine.

[2] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 2-27-2006 at 07:23 AM · [top]

I’m thinking of the word charade.  I’m also thinking of what a friend said upon returning to my former parish after having been gone since before GC ‘03, “Our church has been hijacked”.

Has anyone seen the movie “King of Hearts”?  It’s set in France (where most lunacy commences) during the war.  If you’ve seen it, does anyone think there are any analogies to what happens in the movie and what is going on in the revisionist parishes in ECUSA?

[3] Posted by carpprop on 2-27-2006 at 10:55 AM · [top]

It would be a mistake to confuse the conflict within ECUSA with the battle for a faithful Anglican presence in the US. That battle has shifted to the formation of a new Anglican church within the US.  The orthadox entered the so called War too late to win the struggle for the control and direction of ECUSA and as a result that battle is lost.  All that remains on the ECUSA battlefield is skirmish over property.

The honorable approach would be for ECUSA to negotiate a respectful seperation with those orthadox parishes and Dioceses that feel they must leave. That should have happened a long time ago, but has been impeded by selfishness and pride. 

While the skirmish over ECUSA was lost, the end of the overall battle is assured. Most of the new parishes that have been created, or will be created, are vibrant evangelical bodies. Those still in ECUSA can’t appreciate how liberating it is not to have to fight against an increasingly heretical denomination. Christ’s sheep will hear his voice, and over time will end up where the Good News in unapologetically preached.

[4] Posted by Going Home on 2-27-2006 at 03:00 PM · [top]

Timothy,

I think the war is a two front affair. There is an inside strategy and an outside strategy. I do not think ECUSA can be reformed and the orthodox emerge dominant in the church as things stand today. I do think, as I said, that Anglicanism in NA (in full communion with canterbury) can be established and I think there is a strategy in play that makes both external and internal prongs of attack vital. So, while I respect your decision to leave. I think it important, for the time being for some to stay.

[5] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 2-27-2006 at 03:25 PM · [top]

“Those still in ECUSA can’t appreciate how liberating it is not to have to fight against an increasingly heretical denomination.”

I can appreciate how liberating it is.  I just haven’t chosen to pursue that liberation of leaving, but rather to pursue the liberation that comes from God’s call to pursue this conflict—to everything there is a time, and presently that time is of painful conflict. 

I believe the fight is a worthy one—some others do not.  Like Matt, I respect those who believe they must leave.

[6] Posted by Sarah on 2-28-2006 at 11:53 AM · [top]

I didnt mean to suggest that those who have stayed are unfaithful.  Yours is a special, unselfish calling. Your writings on this page are a clarion for those searching for the Truth.

However, for my family the question was: what is the “end game” of the “inside strategy”, given that few believe that ECUSA will change course, at least in our lifetimes. Frankly, it is hard for me to see reform happening even in our childrens’ lifetimes given the dynamics in our seminaries.  Is the inside strategy then really just a hope of forcing an accomidation that allows a seperate, non-ECUSA Anglican structure in the US (tied in some fashion with the AOC), at which time the “insiders” join the “outsiders”? 

When my family was pondering what to do, we tried to discern whether there was a reasonable chance of internal reform, or whether the inside strategy was at best simply a decision to stay a couple of more years in the hopes of an amicable division. We ultmately concluded it was the latter. A member of our family then asked the million dollar question: “Why would we want to stay in a denomination that we cannot support and which we are actually planning to leave?”

Granted, our children have benefited from participating the debates over the importance and application of Holy Scripture resulting from the controversy within ECUSA. However, we did not want all of their formative years spent in a denomination that we could not support wholeheartedly. We wanted their church memories to be those of unrestrained worship, not controversy. We certainly didnt want to point them toward to an Episcopal college ministry in a few years.

As parents, we didnt feel we had fifty years, or even two. We simply had to chart a safe course for our kids. I regret it led away from the Episcopal Church.

[7] Posted by Going Home on 2-28-2006 at 06:11 PM · [top]

I understand, Timothy—I have two brothers who needed to do the same thing.

You brought up something of interest to me: “However, for my family the question was: what is the “end game” of the “inside strategy”, given that few believe that ECUSA will change course, at least in our lifetimes. . . . the inside strategy was at best simply a decision to stay a couple of more years in the hopes of an amicable division.”

I speak only for myself, but in one category of thought I can provide some answers [again, for me].  Setting aside the multitude of practical reasons that are “Episcopalian” or “Anglican” for the inside strategy [which it is not fitting that I go into on blogland]—[and these are different from the hope of an amicable division]—I would add three broadly “cultural” reasons.

The US is undergoing a sea change from a recognized “Christian” culture to a pagan culture.  This is arriving in fits and starts . . . but the battle rages all around us.  Two of the questions before the house are 1) Will America experience the Great Awakening that is needed before it is too late—some say no, others say maybe, and 2) Will the church *also* undergo a sea change from “recognized Christian” to supporting the pagan culture that some in America are pursuing and promoting.

Given those two theses . . . and given that all around us the battle rages . . . and given that when one leaves one battle, one is *duty-bound* to enter the fray in another place and manner . . . is there something to be gained for the battle to continue on in a seemingly hopeless situation like the Episcopal church?

I believe so.  I liken the fight to one held off in a far corner of the battlefield over a little stone bridge over a river in the middle of the woods.  The badly outnumbered forces gain three things when they continue the fight.  First, the Worthy Opponents cannot claim the bridge.  They may *bray* about the bridge, in much the same way that the enemy did so outside the walls of Jerusalem.  They may *predict* about the bridge.  They may *gloat* about the bridge.  But while the fight continues the bridge is not won.

Second, the Worthy Opponents take losses. In our cases, the losses are not physical—they are public, however.  If *all* reasserters had marched out August 5, 2003 . . . *far fewer* press and publicity reports would have gone out, far fewer allies would have appeared internationally, no Windsor Report would have occurred, far less education of the moderates would have occurred, far less *clarity* would have occurred—not enough time to get communication out—and far less *connection* would have occurred.  Our Worthy Opponents would have swept in, claimed their trophy, triumphed about it a bit, and there would have been very little damage to the revisionist leadership’s or the institution of 815’s credibility or reputation—because it would have been perceived that *the victory was deserved*.  I believe that now, 2.5 years later, the majority of public opinion, not in ECUSA but in the US and internationally, recognizes that, in fact, *the victory is not deserved* whether it occurred or not.  In other words, even if one grants that one lost the little stone bridge—as long as the battle rages, the losses in publicity and power and reputation and credibility and “spin-power” continue to mount.  And make no mistake about it—as one who has done a whole lot of marketing for organizations—yes, the losses to the Brand that 815 and its allies are promoting continue the slow climb.

Finally, of course, ceasing the battle for the little stone bridge means . . . that our Worthy Opponents may then use that little stone bridge as a base for further unhindered sorties and operations out in the broader culture.  They may, in effect, send troops out into further battles with broader audiences, reinforcing their fellow troops that are fighting these battles all over the battlefield.  This is something that ought to be delayed, if only for the sake of our brothers and sisters the next bridge, wood, plain, or city wall over.

I say the above not to try to convince people to “stay” . . . [although if one stays, one must fight] . . . nor to make anyone feel anything negative about leaving [the troops assemble at their duty stations where they are summoned by their General], but simply to provide a somewhat different perspective on all of this that may be helpful to some people who are out there like me.


Keep the faith.

[8] Posted by Sarah on 3-1-2006 at 12:06 AM · [top]

Thank you, Sarah.

Your analogy also brought to mind another image. This is an Anglican Dunkirk, and my family has joined others who have gotten in the boats for the safety of England (in our case, an Anglican Church under an African Bishop).

You and others remain on the beach, under fire, directing others to the safety of the boats.

We will be waiting for you across the channel. You will be needed for the next stage of the War.

[9] Posted by Going Home on 3-1-2006 at 01:14 AM · [top]

Timothy and Sarah,

Thank you for your enlightening exchange.  Sitting here in exile in our evangelical mega church (Orthodox choices being too far away to be considered)we find ourselves still drawn to support the battle, even if we cannot fight ourselves at this time.

It is comfort (sometimes small) to know that ultimately the Battle is already won.

Blessing you both, and praying for us all.

Susan

[10] Posted by Summersnow on 3-1-2006 at 10:27 AM · [top]

Thank you both for the kind words—I need to add that I have been aided in the formation of the “question before the house” #2 by a bright layperson who wishes to remain anonymous.

And Os Guinness really explores question #1 well, most recently at the Mere Anglicanism conference in Charleston.

It’s nice for all of us to be helping one another in wrestling with and articulating what we are going through, which is intense and vital and nervewracking all at once.

[11] Posted by Sarah on 3-1-2006 at 10:14 PM · [top]

Matt, looks like John Wilkins doesn’t care for your “Bible worship” one bit. Phil Snyder is standing tough, though. Good for him.

http://saltyvicar.typepad.com/salt/2006/03/war_if_you_want.html

[12] Posted by Greg Griffith on 3-2-2006 at 08:53 PM · [top]

Yeh . . . and now the reasserters’ comments have doubled his blog traffic.  ; > )

[13] Posted by Sarah on 3-3-2006 at 08:40 AM · [top]

Who says we don’t share the love? kiss

[14] Posted by Greg Griffith on 3-3-2006 at 08:53 AM · [top]

Well, I’m fired up for the day.  Thanks for the link, Greg.

Blessings all.

[15] Posted by Summersnow on 3-3-2006 at 09:06 AM · [top]

OFF TOPIC, but I think the efforts in the S. Dakota, Miss. and Ala. legislature to pass sweeping abortion bans (as posted on this site) are actually counterproductive for the pro-life movement.  Why? Because they help the pro-choice movement in galvanizing opposition to what will hopefully be President Bush’s next Supreme Court nominee, the one that could actually shift the court balance.  On the other hand, these state laws will do little immediate good, since no one expects the current court, even with the addition of Justices Roberts and Alito, to overturn Roe v. Wade. That means an across the board ban will surely get overturned. It would be far better to now concentrate on those legal and legislative areas where there is a public consensus, such as with partial birth abortions and to work on a greater public awareness of the overall issue.

I sometimes wonder if some of the crafty political strategists on the right and left really want a reversal of Wade. Perhaps what they really want is the Supreme Ct. just where it is, slightly favoring Wade, and with a never ending public controversy over the subject. That is perfect for fundraising and “energizing the base”.  If so, the action we are seeing in the state legislatures is the perfect strategy.

[16] Posted by Going Home on 3-5-2006 at 03:08 PM · [top]

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