Welcome to Stand Firm!

The Sterile Evil Of The Episcopal Church

Thursday, May 22, 2008 • 10:53 pm


Dr. Mabuse has written a fascinating article where she compares The Episcopal Church and The Mahabharata

Perhaps it’s not so odd that I’ve been seeing parallels between the Episcopal Church and various “end of the world” stories recently - what we are witnessing IS a small world ending, and these things seem to move in an almost choreographed way.

  The thoughts were motivated by a piece written by Doug LeBlanc on the survival of conservativism in The Episcopal Church. 

They’re the words of a person who hasn’t yet realized that he’s at war. The wistful hope still persists that somehow conservatives can negotiate a little safe space for themselves. Like dogs that roll over and show their bellies, they think that such a display of helplessness will convince the other side that they have nothing to fear, and so will treat them humanely. This misunderstands the relationship between left and right, and good and evil in the Episcopal Church.

The good doctor does not quibble about calling them as she sees them.

The sterile evil that now controls the Episcopal Church will never willingly allow Christian belief to remain unmolested. Conservatives who think that they can negotiate some sort of truce, or even a ghetto existence within the larger, demon-possessed church, are deluding themselves. As C.S. Lewis wrote, the sort of “agreement” these people come up with consists of saying “Oh, you can believe what you want, as long as you do it alone,” and then they mutter under their breath, “and we’ll see to it that you’re NEVER alone.” It’s in their nature to try to eradicate every voice that answers their lies with the truth, because they rightly sense that it is the only way that they can survive.


So who is right?  Is there a way for conservatives to forge a place for themselves within The Episcopal Church as Doug LeBlanc believes or will they be crushed under the weight of evil and compromise as Dr. Mabuse surmises? 

As much as the Anglican way is engraved on my heart, I just don’t see compromise as God’s call to the faithful.  It is gut-wrenching to see The Episcopal Church’s continued abandonment of the faith.  Like it or not, I’m in this battle and can’t walk away until I get released by the One who called me.  You see, I have never doubted God will intervene in this battle and cleanse and renew this once great church.  Our bishops who have not abandoned the foundations of the faith might do well to remember that many things bring about cleansing.  And the result is sometimes ashes.

You can read the entire article at The Kraalspace.


96 Comments • Print-friendlyPrint-friendly w/commentsShare on Facebook
Comments:

Some of us are called to stay as a remnant witness, regardless of the circumstances.

[1] Posted by Zoomdaddy on 05-23-2008 at 07:58 AM • top

“Like it or not, I’m in this battle and can’t walk away until I get released by the One who called me.”

Thank you for writing that sentence, and for sharing your concerns with LeBlanc’s article. I, too, believe that Nicene Christians will not be allowed to coexist within the theology, vision, mission, and strategy of the current leadership of TEC. And I, too, have been called here and a “release” does not seem to be forthcoming.

A friend of ours recently gave my wife and I a small, glass heart filled with ashes and confetti. She gave it to us as a prophetic gift (and I mean that quite literally).

Judgment begins with the household of God, and that which is not in, of, and by the Kingdom will not remain.

I see this happening not only in TEC (which is painful), in other churches (which confirms that God is moving), and supremely in the depths of my own heart(which is excruciating, and my own most grievous fault). And since the battle is in my own heart (and for my own heart), ultimately this is a battle I can never walk away from, until I die and am raised with Christ.

[2] Posted by Fr. Gregory Crosthwait on 05-23-2008 at 08:29 AM • top

It is “possible”, but only covertly in the sense that Christianity survived in China or the USSR during oppressive communist rule.  Those who feel called to this vocation would be fools to believe that they can find a niche within TEC where they can exist peacefully.  If they choose this path, they should seriously consider the costs. 

IMHO, I just don’t see the logic in it in our situation.  In China and USSR, they had no choice except leave the country.  In the west, we have a choice, so I see no reason in staying.  Yet for those who are called to it, it is not my place to question their reasons.  My only concern is that if they do choose this path, they need to do so with a full understanding of what they are signing up for.

[3] Posted by Spencer on 05-23-2008 at 08:33 AM • top

Those orthodox Anglicans who decide, for whatever reason, to stay within TEO, had better understand that they are part of a spiritual battle between good and evil.  If they are not prepared for spiritual warfare, but only as being some sort of witness, they will find themselves at the bottom of the sea along with TEO.

[4] Posted by David+ on 05-23-2008 at 08:38 AM • top

I don’t think anyone here who is still in the church is rolling over and showing belly. The plain truth is that there are still orthodox bishops (not many), priests and parishioners - the “war” is being fought within the church. At some point we will either make gains or realize that all is lost - it’s not about compromise, it’s about trying to win, IMO. At some point, we may also find that the best way forward is to leave TEC to its own devices and lend our efforts to the churches that are “standing firm.” I don’t know where that tipping point is. For myself, I don’t think that it’s 9 years away, or however long the pb has left to ride roughshod over our faith.

[5] Posted by oscewicee on 05-23-2008 at 08:40 AM • top

I am inclined to say that we should do exactly what was done to us- each of us invite 3 or 4 friends from other denominations to join our churches for a period of 3 years, take over the vestries and diocesan conventions, depose the bishops and generally clean house.  Of course, our friends are welcome to stay after the housecleaning, if they like, and many of them will.
  Whatever else, if we are going to stay in TEC, we need to get about the business of restoring the church, instead of waiting for somebody else (GS, ABoC, “Windsor” bishops, or +Jack Iker) to do it for us.

[6] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-23-2008 at 08:57 AM • top

Yes, TJ, and if anyone has tips on how to introduce people of other faiths, particularly Baptists, to Episcopal worship, I would appreciate the advice. We are regarded somewhat suspiciously by the mostly Baptist community. Our church holds morning prayer on the Sundays we don’t have a priest, and perhaps that my be the best introduction? The least alien? What TJ is talking about is really still and always the Great Commission. I have always felt inept at this. And it’s the most important thing I should be doing.

[7] Posted by oscewicee on 05-23-2008 at 09:06 AM • top

“Evil cannot stand good alongside of it…”
This phrase from the article concurrs loud and strong with what we have seen and heard from KJS, TEC agendites:

[8] Posted by Floridian on 05-23-2008 at 09:24 AM • top

Here is the exact quote: “Evil CANNOT endure the presence of good alongside it. Evil is destructive, and what it wants to destroy is goodness.”

[9] Posted by Floridian on 05-23-2008 at 09:26 AM • top

#6
Not sure anyone else cares to pick a fight if they are already in a safe and growing place.

But I heard that one of the GS bishops once said the problems with TEC are something 1 million new converts couldn’t take care of.  Assuming they wouldn’t be like sheep without a shepherd.

[10] Posted by Zoomdaddy on 05-23-2008 at 09:37 AM • top

Oscewicee,
I’ve known only a couple churches that were really successful with it, and oddly enough, one was the high Anglo Catholic church of my later youth.  But those days were long ago, and far away in the days of BCP28 and Sarum Missals.
Rite II with a social activist sermon is just not the same thing at all, no matter how many thuribles or how good the organist.
In the current day, I feel guilty both for not bringing people into the church, and for exposing them to the heterodoxy of the church if they do come through the doors.  In the last parish I attended, the priest (he was an interim) did everything he could to bring back people who had left or from other churches.  Initially, he was very successful, ASA was up by 8 or 10, which in that tiny church was alot. But soon enough, the bishop came through, and we lost some after they found out what “real” mainstream Anglicanism was (from the bishop’s perspective).  Then came the diocesan convention, and the Windsor resolution was defeated, and we lost some more.  That is the way of things in this church.
  The real, root problem of the Episcopal Church is the lack of leadership for the church as a whole. What we refer to as the leadership of the church is not leading us at all.  It is a social action committee that has little to do with the Great Commission or the other work of our Lord. There are a dozen orthodox diocesan bishops (or 2, depending on your view of WO).  But we cannot expect them to be able to reinstate Christianity by themselves. 
  If we are going to stay in this church (or, more precisely, for those of us who are still in TEC), then each and every one of us has to stand up and do what needs to be done.  We need to run for every open vestry seat, every diocesan convention delegate.  And not just throw our names in the hat, but stand up and debate with the opponents- put this contest in front of the people in the pews, engage the rector at coffee hour every time he delivers another “815 sermon”, every time he reads a letter from the diocese or the PB telling people how great things are.  Make sure that people know that millions of the dollars they put in the plate every year are being used to sue other Anglicans.  Make sure they know about inhibitions and depositions.  Make sure they know that the faith they grew up with is the faith of most of the Anglicans around the world.  Make sure they know there is an alternative to the fantasies coming out of 815 and the diocese of Northern Michigan and wherever else. And that alternative is faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

[11] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-23-2008 at 09:55 AM • top

With God, all things are possible...
Some of my fondest memories as a kid center around serving as an accolyte in a moderately conservative Broad Episcopal parish.  I would love nothing more than to see TEC reclaim her Godly heritage and stand in the company of the orthodox.  Unfortunately, I know of only one denomination (Worldwide Church of God) that did a 180 on the road to ruin.
Tell me gentle bloggers, what will it take for this to happen in the TEC?

[12] Posted by aterry on 05-23-2008 at 09:55 AM • top

David+— You are absolutely correct that we engage in spiritual warfare.  And we need to remember that spiritual warfare is not fought with wordly weapons but with spiritual ones—serious daily prayer, frequent fasting, a commitment to immersing oneself in God’s word, always seeking first the kingdom of God, abandoning oneself to discipleship, humility, striving to exhibit Calvary love to all whom we encounter, unashamedly praising God, and boldly declaring that Jesus is Lord and King here and now.  What can the lawyers and false teachers in our denomination possibly do to overcome these weapons?  We fight against powers that tremble at the name of Jesus.  Isn’t it obvious what we need to do?   

God’s purposes will one day be realized in our beloved denomination, but not through our own strength.  We serve a mighty God who cannot possibly be defeated.  If we lack faith that God will win this battle, then we will not believe in our hearts that prayer is the most powerful weapon at our disposal.  We will account our own devices as more powerful than prayer, and we will surely be defeated even as God triumphs.   

How many people who post at Stand Firm were, as I was, brought to profoundly deeper faith as a result of the events of 2003 in our denomination?  Can we not see the hand of God already at work?  What if God is using the crisis in our denomination to bring some of us closer to him?  Can we learn to thank God for this turmoil?

[13] Posted by Rick H. on 05-23-2008 at 10:00 AM • top

I am here because God placed me here and called me here and equiped for many ministries within His Church.

Elijah did not leave to find the JMiJ (Jewish Mission in Judah).  Athanasius did not leave to found a more catholic Church.  Francis did not found a Church more true to the teachings and life of Jesus.  Dominic did not leave to found a more intellectually rigorous Church.

I believe that we are on the verge of a new reformation in the Church.  I see its beginnings in Africa and in ministry like Kairos. 

I will stay and fight for the Truth in this Church until God moves me or takes me home. 
<a >Deacons are slanted people!</a>
YBIC,
Phil Snyder

[14] Posted by Philip Snyder on 05-23-2008 at 10:04 AM • top

The real, root problem of the Episcopal Church is the lack of leadership for the church as a whole. What we refer to as the leadership of the church is not leading us at all. . . . There are a dozen orthodox diocesan bishops (or 2, depending on your view of WO).  But we cannot expect them to be able to reinstate Christianity by themselves.

No, and what concerns me, locally, is that we are so small and so unconnected that we could easily go off and do our own thing - which is tremendous freedom for an Episcopal Church and tremendous danger for us. IMO.

If we are going to stay in this church (or, more precisely, for those of us who are still in TEC), then each and every one of us has to stand up and do what needs to be done.  We need to run for every open vestry seat, every diocesan convention delegate.  And not just throw our names in the hat, but stand up and debate with the opponents- put this contest in front of the people in the pews, engage the rector at coffee hour every time he delivers another “815 sermon”, every time he reads a letter from the diocese or the PB telling people how great things are.

Yes. We should have been at the diocesan convention this year - we all work, we all *have* to work, but somehow we should have found a way to be there.

[15] Posted by oscewicee on 05-23-2008 at 10:08 AM • top

:

  I believe it will take a ground root effort, coordinated and transcending dioceses, on the part of the laity to win back the direction and leadership of TEC. Bishops have created too many deacons and priests who are their drones. In this diocese, in the last years of his Episcopate, the bishop created a huge number of deacons and priests (not seminary trained but “raised up” from their community), all which were given full clergy “votes” in convention, and had full representation on appointed committees. One church in our diocese that has, maybe, 30 or 40 people in church on Sunday, has 2 priests and several deacons. Guess how they vote… The larger churches have several clergy hanging around who vote as “blocks.” When I speak at convention, which I usually do, it is often met with silence, and I know that the vote will go the way our new bishop, in concert with his new “friends,” wants it to go. The laity could stop it all, by questioning everything, demanding accountability, and acting as watchdogs. It would be like Stand Firm in Faith exploding on to the national scene as an organization.

[16] Posted by FrVan on 05-23-2008 at 10:29 AM • top

I admire those who are called to stay but I wonder if God is actually calling them to stay.  It reminds me of the guy on the roof of the house in the flood who refuses three rescue attempts and then laments that God abandoned him or Lot’s wife and daughters who were unable/unwilling to leave Sodom and so looked back longinly and were transformed into pillars of stone.  But assuming some are indeed called to stay, please don’t let your children be educated in TEC’s prgrams. They may not be able to discern, for themselves, the evil to which they will be exposed and please also find ways that prevent your tithes and offerings being used to oppress the departing Anglicans.

[17] Posted by DaveG on 05-23-2008 at 10:37 AM • top

Father Van, I’ve got you beat- 4 priests and 3 deacons for an ASA of 40 (if we average in the summer “crowds”).  2 of the deacons are on the vestry (don’t all shout “Canons!!!” at once).  All volunteers or minimally paid-(seminary? what is a seminary?).  But some of the clergy are beginning to wake up to what is happening here (this diocese has a particularly “Whacky” theology).

[18] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-23-2008 at 10:47 AM • top

Speaking of grass roots organizations, check out this other SF thread:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/12694/

[19] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-23-2008 at 10:49 AM • top

Re #17
Dave,
You are SO right.  I am still fighting to get my daughter back.  She has been taught, at school and at church, to be “loving and inclusive”.  My husband and I have left Colorado TEC, but our daughter is still hostage to the lies.  Her tithes fund abortions and lawsuits, yet she cannot see.  DO NOT TAKE YOUR CHILDREN TO A TEC CHURCH.  Please.

[20] Posted by Elizabeth on 05-23-2008 at 10:52 AM • top

Athanasius, Francis and Dominic did not leave their church.  But Luther and, more specifically, Henry did.  Luther might have returned obediently to Rome or suffered the consequences if he was not protected by princes who saw the potential for political gain.  Henry split from Rome for political reasons - to accomodate his divorce.  Elizabeth compromised the Truth for political stability.  Since their era there has been one schism after another. 

We do not belong to the church Athanasius, Francis and Dominic belonged to.  We are more truly the children of Luther and Henry than Athanasius and Francis.  We belong to a denomination that has absolutely no confidence whatsoever in the Gospel and never really has.  Compromise is the Anglican legacy. 

Dr. Mabuses comparison strikes a very loud chord in my heart.  About 25 years ago I told a friend that I could never imagine leaving the Episcopal Church, but that church no longer exists, indeed if it ever really did.  Much as I grieve over what has been done by bishops, clergy and laity, there is no call to stay.

[21] Posted by Nikolaus on 05-23-2008 at 11:00 AM • top

TJ said If we are going to stay in this church (or, more precisely, for those of us who are still in TEC), then each and every one of us has to stand up and do what needs to be done.  We need to run for every open vestry seat, every diocesan convention delegate.  And not just throw our names in the hat, but stand up and debate with the opponents- put this contest in front of the people in the pews, engage the rector at coffee hour every time he delivers another “815 sermon”

The trouble with this approach is threefold: 1) It would take a lot of time to capture a majority in a diocesan convention; 2) most of the clergy are up to their eyeballs in theological bovine waste—and proud of it—and 3) “they” have captured the parliamentarians and so control what gets voted on and how a vote on any vital topic will turn out.

[22] Posted by AnglicanXn on 05-23-2008 at 11:12 AM • top

Conservatives who think that they can negotiate some sort of truce, or even a ghetto existence within the larger, demon-possessed church , are deluding themselves.

(Emphasis mine)

Dr. Mabuse’s words here are striking in their truthful audacity.  If one accepts this accusation, Christian disciples cannot make a cogent case for remaining in TEO passively.  Jesus never confronted the demonic with hope, but with powerful spiritual confrontation.  The orthodox faithful in TEO (especially their bishops) ally themselves with a worldly institution more than a transcendent Kingdom of God.  In short, they are appeasers, not Soldiers.

I pray for the orthodox faithful in TEO and admire their loyalty and courage.  Perhaps if they all gathered in a few diocese and used the same power plays of the Loon Left, they might retake the structures.  I doubt it.

In the last stages of cancer, the best care is palliative.  Denial often grows just before the end.  So while TEO enters its final stages, we should pray for the many orthodox faithful who struggle with letting go.  But TEO’s death is imminent, necessary, and a reminder of what happens when a once-great institution trades in its spiritual birthright for a mess of secularist pottage.

-Jim+

[23] Posted by FrJim on 05-23-2008 at 11:17 AM • top

#6-carrying about the welfare of a new Christian family, would you really encourage them to join the Episcopal Church?  Thats the problem. The Southern Baptists cleaned house long before they got to the edge of the cliff. TEC is beyond that. If I see a twenty something husband and wife with young kids, am I going to try to pull them into an Episcopal church, or am I going to make sure they start their journey in a denomination or non-denominational church that has not rejected the Truth? Am I going to bring them into a church where they can’t send their kids to church camp, where we would worry if their kids got involved in a denominational college ministry or where they must reject and oppose virtually major every statement from their Presiding Bishop?

Of course not.

LaBlanc’s article understates the dangers or consequences for being unequally yoked. That is a vary dangerous risk for the average Christian, which is why God gives us such stark warnings. Only those with a very special call from God should stay.

[24] Posted by Going Home on 05-23-2008 at 11:53 AM • top

I believe it will take a ground root effort, coordinated and transcending dioceses, on the part of the laity to win back the direction and leadership of TEC.

I think so, too, Fr. Van. We are all in such diverse situations, but I think we need to reach hands across the boundaries and help each other somehow.

[25] Posted by oscewicee on 05-23-2008 at 12:17 PM • top

Everything I could say, I’ve said for thirty years. If you wish a missionary life, expect martyrdom.  Expect to be mocked as a fool and a villain.  Be clear in your expectations of who you are seeking to bear witness to ... is this choice for the liberals of TEC?

[26] Posted by monologistos on 05-23-2008 at 12:36 PM • top

“Like it or not, I’m in this battle and can’t walk away until I get released by the One who called me.”

I do believe some are called to stay for the sake of the souls in TEC.  Some of us, however, have been called by the One who called us in the first place to leave, to prepare a place for His children who do not know Him yet.  In 2003, I, myself, wanted to exit, stage right, quickly.  But God said “WAIT” in no uncertain terms.  So I waited.  In 2005, at the Hope and a Future Conference, he said “LOOK” and I looked at what He was preparing in His earthly church.  After that, He said, “PREPARE”.  So WE did… our congregation.  And when He said “GO”, we went.  We are still praying for those who are CALLED to stay, as well as for those who are staying “anyway”.  And I especially pray for the bishops and other leaders in TEC.  My prayer is 4-fold:  That Jesus would be with each of them in such a way as they KNOW it is Jesus; that He would strengthen and enable those who are leading rightly; that He would bring those to repentance who are NOT leading in His word and way; and for those who WILL NOT repent, that He would remove them from authority over people.  Hands, hearts and prayers need to be extended in ALL directions!  The church of Jesus Christ does NOT have the human boundaries that TEC or even the entire Anglican Communion sees!

[27] Posted by Goughdonna on 05-23-2008 at 01:23 PM • top

Dr.Mabuse is correct. More especially, the game is over for good for the conservatives and even the moderates at General Convention 2009.It doesn’t matter though TEC is going too die , God will finish them off. They are insane and mad with this Homo thing and like Samson are going to knock the whole building down ,upon themselves. They are people obsessed or better yet,possessed. The conservatives and moderates make the serious mistake of assuming they are dealing with rational people, which of course they are not. The GLBT lobby and friends in this church are ever bit as fanatical as Hitler’s brown shirts.

[28] Posted by Anglo-Catholic-Jihadi on 05-23-2008 at 01:32 PM • top

A-C-J
Please do not think us naive. We’ve read what TEC’s “leaders” have to say, and I think we know it for what it is. I don’t think any of us thinks we can convert KJS or VGR or Chane or Bruno.  On the other hand, maybe we can wake a few people up.
  The odd thing in all of this is that as laymen, as long as we stay here, they have no power over us at all.  They have destroyed the authority of the bishops, eliminated the threat of excommunication (how can you excommunicate anyone in a church that does not require communicants to be baptised?), and can’t force us to pledge.  So, what authority do they have?  They can turn red, call us homophobic, jump up and down and throw temper tantrums and shout at us that people who believe in scripture should leave the church.  And the louder they shout, the more people hear what they are really saying, instead of what they pretend to say.

[29] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-23-2008 at 01:54 PM • top

This is an important essay for every member of TEO to read.  And of course, they won’t.  Being a southerner, I am fortunate that I had options.  All the churches in town split and there are five or so Anglican parishes to choose from.  My beloved sister in PA, however, attends the only TEC within reasonable driving distance and is basically clueless about the whole thing, except VGR, whom she agrees should never have been consecrated but she “can’t see destroying the TEC over it.”  She is in her 70’s now, all her children were baptized, raised, confirmed and married at their tiny little church.  One was buried from there.  The original mission met in her house.  She was the first female vestry woman in the state.  I could bombard her with essays like this, but I just don’t have the heart. 

I actually used to say the same thing “not worth destroying TEC over” etc., but after the third lesbian priest in five years, I realized that I just didn’t have any connection anymore.  The church’s goals were not mine.  And it was easy to leave.  I do remember dreaming for months about escaping from various places:  sinking ships, fires, chains, etc.  And I have encountered some rather violently angry remarks from colleagues who have seen the new sticker on my car window.  Threats, actually.  No, not bodily threats against me, but threats to “show up at one of your services” for the purposes of disruption, etc.  This particular person doesn’t seem to understand that the parish would happily accept her and love her and pray alongside her.  They just wouldn’t want her as their priest or bishop.  But there is such rage towards those of us who just simply… left… and took with us our checkbooks and energy.  It is an impotent rage and frankly, a bit scary.

[30] Posted by GoodMissMurphy on 05-23-2008 at 02:03 PM • top

tjm
Unless you are in a Diocese with a Godly bishop, you are wrong to think “they” can do nothing to you.  Don’t contribute money to the Diocese to be used to promote abortions, same-sex unions, etc., they will reduce you to a mission, and take what they want.  If you do send money to the Diocese, you are promoting the agenda of the father of lies.  You may be able to survive in a “conservative” diocese for a time, but eventually, they will get you too.  They don’t have to consent to the consecration of your next bishop.  And what of the witness to the society at large that you make by bearing the label “episcopalian?”  Or will you do as I did for years, by adding, “but those who worship here are really Christians.”  The call to remain is a call to martyrdom but if that is God’s call on your life (and that of your family), I guess you should stay.

[31] Posted by DaveG on 05-23-2008 at 02:10 PM • top

David G,
As I said, I am not naive.  I do throw some money in the plate of the local parish, but it is not much, and always in cash. I suspect that half of what I do give never gets reported to the diocese (this has been true in more liberal parishes than conservative in my experience). The diocese runs at a deficit, and sends little if any on to 815.  I gave more money last month to the Network’s defense fund alone than to TEC.  I’ve sent money to non-TEC Anglican parishes, and need to get home to write a check to Nashotah.
  You will find that most of the Godly bishops (unless you meant only CCP bishops when you said “Godly”) pay their tribute to 815, and it is then used as you point out.
  I don’t know how long I will last here, the call to leave is strong, but for now, the call to stay is stronger.  I am a layman, but because of old family connections and the generosity of bishops and priests from around the world, I have had wonderful pastoral guidance, and have people to turn to when things seem dark, who remind me of where to look to find the Light.

[32] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-23-2008 at 02:50 PM • top

tmj
It sounds like you are making the claim that most of the time, you worship God, but sometimes you bring gifts to the altars of other gods.  I am sorry if that is blunt, but the coffers of 815 get fed by lots of little contributions, a portion of which trickly their way into supporting unGodly causes.  Tell me why I am wrong but if I am not, do you really think God is calling you to support abortion even a little bit?

[33] Posted by DaveG on 05-23-2008 at 02:58 PM • top

DaveG, how do you know that God doesn’t bless the gift? Have we reached the point that everything TEC does is evil? Is my church contaminated because we accepted a donation from the bishop on his last visit? Is the prayerful intent of the giver meaningless?

[34] Posted by oscewicee on 05-23-2008 at 03:07 PM • top

I am amazed at the number of people who honestly believe that they can transform TEO.  Sad.  I can accept those who feel called to ministry in an evil organization and accept that challenge, but I cannot accept those who are deluded into thinking that they will somehow transform TEO.  I will pray.

[35] Posted by Spencer on 05-23-2008 at 03:12 PM • top

OK - Try it this way.  I say a fervent prayer asking God to bless my gift to Planned Parenthood.  My intent might be that the money get used to send the director to a conference where she finally hears God’s call on her/his life but is it responsible stewardship to do that?  I might just as well prayerfully flush the gift down the toilet expecting God to send it into the hands of a needy person “downstream.”  But we are supposed to cooperate with God’s plan and not challenge Him to make something good out of our irresponsible behavior.  More to the point, Oscewicee, how do we sleep at night knowing that our tithes and offerings promote abortion on demand, and and are funding lawsuits against the faithful?  That is the question I am asking of tmj and you?  I don’t claim that everything TEC does is evil but enough of it is that my conscience won’t let me support it evena little bit.  If yours tells you something different, I would be most interested inhearing about it.

[36] Posted by DaveG on 05-23-2008 at 03:18 PM • top

Spencer (et. al.)
I cannot transform anyone or anything.  That’s God’s job.  My job is to stand in the breach and call God’s people back to the covenant they made with Him in their baptism. 

I am not called to be successful.  I am called to be faithful.

I may be slanted but I am still going to be faithful to what God calls me to do.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

[37] Posted by Philip Snyder on 05-23-2008 at 03:19 PM • top

Members of my extended family are in the hotel business. As a franchisee, they operate independently, pay franchise fees, comply with minimal standards, and participate in a reservation system. Otherwise, they are independent.

About fifteen years ago our family sold all existing properties and built new budget hotels under the Hampton Inn franchise. Why? Because the prior franchise brand had deteriorated to the point where it conveyed the wrong message to the public and was threatening the abilit of good franchisees to succeed. It was clear that the problems with the franchising company were not going to be cleared up in the forseeable future. It was time to go.

[38] Posted by Going Home on 05-23-2008 at 03:36 PM • top

DaveG, is it really realistic to assume that all the money thrown into a TEC collection plate goes to evil causes? I don’t give any money to TEC, so I’m not speaking defensively. You said TJ is “worshiping other gods” when he throws “not much” money in the plate. I find that a bit extreme, sorry.

[39] Posted by oscewicee on 05-23-2008 at 03:43 PM • top

DaveG-
I think I explained myself reasonably well in terms of where my money goes. The church I attend can pay 2/3 of its heating bill with the total pledge/plate collection.  The whole diocese is virtually a mission. One would assume from what you have to say that you do not pay federal or state income tax.  I am sure that there are one or more federal programs that you consider immoral.  If you track down every cent you contribute to your church, you will find that some, whether by intent or accident, goes places you do not want it to go. Perhaps +Iker, +Ackerman and +Duncan have actually been successful in keeping all the money in their dioceses out of the hands of 815, but even there, some may trickle through.
So, you would have me abandon whatever faithful there are in this diocese to the standing committee and its fantasy theology?  How do I justify myself before the Lord for that?

[40] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-23-2008 at 03:48 PM • top

If I understand you, Oscewicee, you appear to be saying you yourself don’t support TEC in any manner but if othere do, since only a small portion of their support actually promotes evil, they need not worry about it?  Have I got that right?

[41] Posted by DaveG on 05-23-2008 at 03:49 PM • top

tmj
You and I have no choice about paying taxes and cannot influence how they get spent, except via elected representatives.  I can control to whom I contribute the money God trusts me to handle.  I don’t contribute to the United Way.  Why? Because it supports abortion.  No doubt the United Way does many other things that would be high on my list of worthy charitable causes.  The challenge then is to find a way to contribute to such causes without having United Way rake off a portion for Planned Parenthood.  It is irresponbile of me not to approach giving in that manner.  And my tithes are no different.  If I give 100 per week, should I be concerned that only 5 of those dollars support evil causes or is the challenge not to find a way to continue to do the other 95% without contributing the $5 to the destruction of human lives and spirits?

[42] Posted by DaveG on 05-23-2008 at 03:59 PM • top

DaveG, I don’t think we know how much of a small donation to the plate “supports evil” or even if it does. I give money to the American Red Cross for disaster relief and I know it is in some instances wasted and misused - should I not give because it doesn’t all go where I would like it to? I give to the American Diabetes Foundation, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association, as well as a number of museums, historical societies and the like, and I am sure that along the way some of that money is misused, misappropriated, even stolen - is it wrong to give? What you are hearing me say is that, yes, we have a responsibility to try to direct our money in right ways - we also have very limited control over where that money goes when it leaves us. In our personal situations, whatever they may be, we pray and make the best choices we can.

[43] Posted by oscewicee on 05-23-2008 at 04:17 PM • top

Spencer,
I don’t think ++Rowan Williams, ++Greg Venables or a clone of ++Thomas Becket or anyone other than the Lord himself can bring the “leadership” of TEC back from the brink.  On the other hand, based on the people that I have met, the majority of the “people in the pews” either do not realize what is actually happening to this church theologically, or are so accustomed to the way TEC does things that they just do what the bishop tells them to do and believe what he tells them to believe because he must be right, he is the bishop after all. 
  I also think there is something to be said for covering the back of the orthodox clergy who are left in this church.  Or seeing to it that when an 80 year old lifetime member of the congregation passes away, they get the funeral service they’ve always asked for, and not some “new thing” that the new rector dreamed up while listening to whale songs at the last diocesan convention.

[44] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-23-2008 at 04:18 PM • top

I apologize Spencer for that last.
To give a more charitable explanation.  I have letters and email from bishops and priests from all over the world from whom I’ve sought advice.  The advice I have comes in two forms.  Either they ask me to stay, saying, in essense, that the only hope for those lost in TEC, and for TEC itself, is for a continued orthodox presence, at least for a time.  They appeal to my Anglo Catholic upbringing, to the memory of my Dad, to what this church once represented.  Some of these priests I have been very close to my whole life. 
  Others answer me by extending an invitation.  It is never “take it or leave it”, but rather “the door is always open for you.”  In all the messages, there is an exchange of prayers for one another.
  Right now, I am in the Episcopal Church.  +Jack Iker and +Keith Ackerman are as well.  And many other bishops and priests and laity for whom I have a great respect and who work for the Lord with every breath they take.  They are examples to me of a faith I pray I can emulate.
  And then, well, there was a gauntlet of sorts lying on the ground.  I had expected that it would have been picked up by some of the clergy, or some theologian. They have not, some fear for their jobs, others assume the fight is already lost, others that the heresy- fantasy really- was so obvious that there was no need to challenge it, no one could take it seriously.  So it was lying there. The people who threw it assumed they could preach heresy unchallenged.  That there would be no opposition.  They are no longer under that illusion.  Am I tilting a windmill?  Probably.  It is a family tradition.

[45] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-23-2008 at 04:51 PM • top

The decision to stay and fight or leave is important for us, albeit straining the boundaries of Comment Policy here. I make this comment, since it reflects on the posted item.

IMHO staying in TEC and fighting is like the sower with good seed, throwing it much of it in the rocks where it will germinate and wither. We are commanded over and over in the New Testament to spread the Gospel and walk away from those who shun us. We weren’t called to worship the organ and building, and then complain about the sins of 815.

The folks of CCP (and ACN within TEC) are building wonderful congregations of witnesses to Christ, and time would be far better spent supporting a new Province and planting orthodox congregations across North America. There is clear reason this is 815’s greatest fear.

I couldn’t possibly encourage my children and grandchildren to be nurtured by a TEC congregation, where they would be taught GLBT sex acts and marriage are perfectly acceptable - even on parade, and it is fine to kill their children for convenience.

These folks in TEC are sick, and if they are not going to repent and live a healthy lifestyle as stated by Lambeth 1998, the Windsor Report, DES, etc., let them go and do their service together. That church won’t survive long. As responsible Christians, grow your family with a church that values children and traditional families.

Please get involved in planting orthodox churches across the country, so families in TEC have a place to go. In time, there probably will be buildings for a bargain price. Staying in TEC only supports what you are complaining about, and is denial – living the proclamation that All is Well, at least in my neighborhood. TEC is only going to get worse if the troubled hang around and half support it.

Jesus didn’t tell His followers to build a political action group and seize control to the synagogues. He gave us the Great Commission.

[46] Posted by Dr. N. on 05-23-2008 at 04:59 PM • top

DaveG,
I can only assume that you know where every cent you give to your church goes.
The extension of your argument, however, would be that all the orthodox should leave TEC and then leave 100% of the money to be spent according to the whims of the current 815 elite.  What if, by staying, our action on the vestry took a big bite out of what is sent to the diocese?  What if, by staying, our action at the diocesan convention restricted how much was sent to 815?  What if we could gain enough influence to see a Mark Lawrence made bishop of the diocese instead of a Jon Bruno?  Where is the greater good?
  Can’t happen?  30 years ago, the people who now run TEC did it in reverse.  By grass roots organizing, a tiny minority took over the church.  The church that is currently the leader of the prophetic pantheist liberal movement is that same church that in the 1960s was “the Republican Party at prayer.” 50% of the pewsitters I know still disagree with women’s ordination.  That might not be true in most dioceses, but I think you would be surprised what the figures would show.  Certainly there are any number who think that VGR is ok only because he is “not in their backyard.”  The point is, on matters of theology and ecclesiology, the majority of people in TEC agree with us.  The problem is that we need to wake them up- make them realize that what is happening in LA or NYC affects them and their little church in Kansas or Michigan or Georgia.

[47] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-23-2008 at 05:12 PM • top

Dr. N, your comment reveals that you have read very very little of what people staying in TEC believe or value.

RE: “We are commanded over and over in the New Testament to spread the Gospel and walk away from those who shun us.”

That’s great.  What that has to do with TEC I don’t know.  I assume, of course, that all Christians, no matter what the denomination, are witnessing to non-believers and urging them towards conversion of the heart.  Why a conservative Episcopalian can’t do that, I have no clue.  Furthermore, for the people that I have witnessed to, I carefully consider their needs and then refer them to a church where I believe that those needs and their unique personality will hear the gospel best.  Such churches include non-denominational churches, PCA churches, Baptist churches, and all manner of other churches. 

RE: “We weren’t called to worship the organ and building, and then complain about the sins of 815.”

Very true.  But that statement has nothing to do with the discussion.  It’s a bit like my saying in a discussion as to whether people should leave TEC “We weren’t called to worship [freedom from tyranny], and then [flee from the battlefield].”

Another irrelevant comment.

RE: ” . . . and time would be far better spent supporting a new Province and planting orthodox congregations across North America.”

An irrelevant assertion, one which clearly those who are staying in TEC do not believe, otherwise they would leave too and go “support a new Province.”

RE: “There is clear reason this is 815’s greatest fear.”

Except that that is not 815’s greatest fear.  They couldn’t give a flying fig about conservatives starting new Anglican congregations. 

Their greatest fear, of course, is losing the Trojan Horse with which they have propagated their parasitical theology, namely their Anglican Communion affiliation.

RE: “. . . so families in TEC have a place to go.”

Many families in TEC have alternate Anglican entities to choose from.  Some take that choice.  And others don’t, despite their having those choices

RE: “In time, there probably will be buildings for a bargain price.”

Who cares—an irrelevant statement when it comes to convincing someone to “leave TEC now.”

RE: “Staying in TEC only supports what you are complaining about .  . . “

Uh—not if you don’t “support it”.

RE: “TEC is only going to get worse if the troubled hang around and half support it.”

Oh TEC is going to get worse all right!  We’re all counting on it.

RE: “Jesus didn’t tell His followers to build a political action group and seize control to the synagogues.”

Huh?  Jesus didn’t tell us to run for political office either.
Jesus didn’t tell us to join the ABA either.
Jesus didn’t tell us to eat green beans.

Irrelevant—again.  If God calls someone to build a political action group, then he should do it full stop.  If He calls someone to join the ABA, he should.  If He calls us to eat green beans,  we should.

RE: “He gave us the Great Commission.”

Indeed. 

But again . . . Jesus gave us the whole beautiful earth to subdue as well, and that’s pretty much irrelevant to this discussion as well.

I feel very inclined now to post an entire comment full of slogans and bumper stickers myself.

Maybe I will.

[48] Posted by Sarah on 05-23-2008 at 05:18 PM • top

Dr. N

The folks of CCP (and ACN within TEC) are building wonderful congregations

That is my point.  There are still people in TEC doing good things.  The closest CCP parish is 120 miles from here.  The closest ACN-TEC affiliate is somewhat farther.  Should I give up on the idea that there could be a parish affiliated with the ACN two blocks from here if I am willing to put in some effort?

[49] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-23-2008 at 05:20 PM • top

I posted this on TitusOneNine late in the discussion and there was now later resonse.  So I’m reposting it here.

I found Doug’s article encouraging.  I share the frustrations of many who have good reasons to leave TEC.  At this point I cannot.  I grew up in the Episcopal Church, but never met Jesus.  After a period of agnosticism and atheism, I was led to the Lord by a member of the AOG.  Not long after that I was led by the Lord back into the Episcopal Church and found that it was all there in the 1928 BCP.  I found the faith also in the 1979 BCP when it came out sometime later. 

Ever since that time I have felt myself to be called as a missionary in the Episcopal Church.  Missionaries don’t give up just because the people they are trying to reach abuse or even kill them.  I have received no permission from the Lord to even think about leaving TEC.  I pray God’s blessing on the many friends who have left for CANA, AMIA, Uganda, the Southern Cone, and the Roman Catholic Church.  I miss their fellowship and support in TEC, but I believe God has led them to do what they are doing.

I think about TEC in terms of the seeming victory of Arianism for a time.  I also think about TEC in terms of the supremacy of the Latitudinarians in 1700 in the C of E.  Near as I can tell no person who believed in Jesus was eligible to become a bishop at that time.  But then came the Evangelical Revival and things changed. 

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. - 2 Corinthians 10:4

I believe that at this time TEC is under the judgment of God.  I am fairly sure things are going to become much for difficult for believers still in TEC.  I don’t know how the Lord is going to work things out for the faithful remnant in TEC.  I have doubts that it will be in my lifetime.  Nevertheless, I believe I am called to remain in this mission field until the Lord who called me says otherwise. 

God did not bless us with children so I am safe there. I thank God that my parish and diocese allow me to not fund TEC with my tithes.  The Diocese only forwards what parishes designate for TEC and the parish designated 0% for TEC.  I’m not sure what I would do if that were not allowed. 

—A Protestant— Catholic— Pentecostal priest still in TEC and praying for revival

[50] Posted by BrianInDioSpfd on 05-23-2008 at 05:23 PM • top

All this conversation about leaving or not leaving TEC has gotten me musing along some totally relevant lines of thought.

We all gripe about $3 a gallon for gas, while drinking a $2.16 pint of water.

Yet, we should do good and walk the high road of beauty.

Let us be as a tree planted by the river of life.

Let us be the change we wish to see in the world.

For one kind word can warm three winter months.

And whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.

So hope for change and change for hope, but when all is said and done, simply . . .

Hope.

And Change.

For the man who moves a mountain, begins by carrying away small stones.

And finally, in light of the high fuel prices . . . . stay in TEC.

Because Yes—You Can!

[51] Posted by Sarah on 05-23-2008 at 05:27 PM • top

Sarah - grin grin

Wrangling with each other about leaving or staying really doesn’t help any of us and I suspect it takes precious energy from the things we all need to be doing. Dr. N, TJ and Sarah have answered you better than I can - I just wanted to make clear that organs and buildings aren’t what holds us and I hope you didn’t mean that the way it sounded.

[52] Posted by oscewicee on 05-23-2008 at 05:32 PM • top

I couldn’t possibly encourage my children and grandchildren to be nurtured by a TEC congregation, where they would be taught GLBT sex acts and marriage are perfectly acceptable - even on parade, and it is fine to kill their children for convenience.

To me this is the money statement in the whole thread.  It is all well and good to talk about being a fighter if it is just you and your equally spiritually mature friends on the front lines.  If it is your children on the line, and you live in a diocese where bishop, priest and Sunday school teacher alike are proclaiming the glories of sexual immorality from the rooftops…  Maybe if you have an othodox parish within the liberal diocese, which has isolated itself from the diocese to a point where you children are safe for the time being, but sooner or later your rector is going to retire.  The parish is going to be assimilated.  It is just a manner of time. 

The ONLY way I would keep my hypothetical children (I’m still single and childless) in TEC was if I was in a ACN parish inside of an ACN diocese.  And even then I might send the kids to another church even if I felt obliged to stay in myself to fight the fight.

[53] Posted by AndrewA on 05-23-2008 at 06:16 PM • top

My children are nurtured in a TEC congregation and they both know that homosexual sex is wrong.  They also know that all sex outside of marriage is wrong.  They also know that killing children is wrong - even before the children are born.

There are still good places within TEC.  There are still good congregations even in dioceses where the “new thing” holds sway.  There are good bishops, priests, deacons, and lay people.  A large part of the American Heresy is that we want a solution to our problems NOW!  Can you imagine if the bishops, priests, and laity had not left TECUSA in 1976 and were still around to fight in the last 40 years?  We probably would not be in this mess to begin with. 

God has promised to look after His Church.  She may be playing the harlot today, but God has promised to bring her to and through the desert and speak tenderly to her.  We need to stand firm in our witness and call the Church back to her Lord.  We need to rely on God to fulfill His promise and not sleep with Hagar to fulfill it on our own.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

[54] Posted by Philip Snyder on 05-23-2008 at 07:20 PM • top

Philip, I would presume that “Dallas” means that you are an ACN parish in an ACN diocese. 

What if you were in, say Pasedena?  Would you be taking your kids to All Saints Episcopal, in the hope of converting their vestry, and all those that elected them?  Or would you take the longer route to one of the ACN parishes that left TEC:LA and the Bruno Show some time ago?

[55] Posted by AndrewA on 05-23-2008 at 07:37 PM • top

So who is right? Is there a way for conservatives to forge a place for themselves within The Episcopal Church as Doug LeBlanc believes or will they be crushed under the weight of evil and compromise as Dr. Mabuse surmises?

I very much doubt it.  It is undeniable that more and more conservatives are leaving TEC, leaving the conservative presence weaker and weaker, especially as it is often the more vocal and activist conservatives who are leaving- such as SF’s Fr. Kennedy.  After the expected departure of Fort Worth and Pittsburgh by the end of the year there will be precious few conservative leaders left.  Is there going to be any national conservative effort left at all?  Here in Pittsburgh there is a sizeable group of conservatives who wish to remain in TEC but I have seen no evidence of real preparation or planning for realities after the November breakup.  I strongly suspect PEP will be running the show next year.  And that would be the final straw forcing me to join the “leavers”.

[56] Posted by Nevin on 05-23-2008 at 07:45 PM • top

Well, in ten years when acolytes are told that they can do the gay weddings or quit serving the altar…

When opposing same-sex relations disqualifies a candidate for ordination…

When the Seattle Muslipalian or her like gets a mitre…

When the Episcopal Church files an amicus brief to compel Catholic hospitals to perform abortions…

Don’t tell me it’s unbelievable.  Ten years ago, how many of you believed that a Bishop would march in a Pride Parade?  How many of you believed that a Bishop, having left his wife, would be quoted in an interview that he always wanted to be a June bride?

Granted that it was predictable, if enough history were examined; but it wasn’t by many.  A church that wasn’t on its way to this pass would have excommunicated Pike and Spong.  But theirs was well-mannered heresy, and it would have been rude to anathematize a bishop just because he didn’t believe in the Trinity or the Resurrection.  And so now you’re here.

[57] Posted by Ed the Roman on 05-23-2008 at 07:56 PM • top

54, I think the difference is that I don’t particuarlly think of TEC as His Church, nor do I think there is any special promise to it in particular that God is obligated to fufill.

[58] Posted by AndrewA on 05-23-2008 at 08:05 PM • top

I drive more than two hours each way to a church like this one.

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/12426/

I know very well there are wonderful people and congregations remaining within TEC. I have visited many of these fine churches. There is some fertile ground everywhere and the Church will survive, as it has over a history of much more severe persecution.

When it comes time to choose a Church for my family, I’ll go where one doesn’t need to worship in fear of what might be taught to my children, closing my ears to forums/adult education and sermons, closing my eyes to the “national church” with a nearsighted vision of local public service, and needing to be careful about who it is safe to talk to concerning my faith. When you cannot speak with wholeness/integrity, it is time to move on.

The orthodox movement isn’t as fragmented as many want us to believe. It is growing wonderful churches and they are planting new churches. By building the orthodox community, it will give more reasons to be churched. Luther tried his best to reform the Roman Church from within, but it just couldn’t be done as the power, money, and politics led to much bloodshed. Just like now, the Reformation played out differently in every country it touched. We need to recognize the need to get back to the Church centered in Christ that Luther envisioned, and was carried forward by the other reformers in their cultural contexts.

[59] Posted by Dr. N. on 05-23-2008 at 08:19 PM • top

I derive a great deal of inspiration from this passage from Berdyaev’s essay, “The Worth of Christianity and the Unworthiness of Christians.”

Boccaccio tells the story of a Jew whose Christian friend was trying to convert him. The Jew was on the point of agreeing, but before committing himself definitely he decided to go to Rome and see for himself in what manner the Pope and his cardinals lived, since they were the men at the head of the Church. This frightened the Christian, who thought that all his efforts would go for nothing and his friend certainly refuse baptism when he had seen the scandals of Rome. The Jew duly went there and observed the hypocrisy, depravity, corruption, and greed which were rife among the Roman clergy and in the papal court at that time, and on his return his Christian friend asked anxiously what impression had been made on him. The reply was as deeply understanding as it was unexpected: “Since all the wickedness and abominations that I have seen in Rome have been unable to overturn the Christian religion, since in spite of them all it continues to grow stronger, it must be the true faith.” And the Jew became a Christian.

http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Philosophy/Sui-Generis/Berdyaev/essays/worth.htm

Whether in Rome in the 14th century or in TEC at present, God is still in charge.

God drew me to Himself out of a lifestyle of wretched excess and sexual depravity, and He did that through the witness and ministry of faithful Episcopalians.  But spiritual boot camp is long since over with and I am now convinced that He has also called me to a higher vocation—to serve, among other things, as “a sign of contradiction” to those who would overthrow, if possible, the truths of the gospel which brought me and so many other miserable sinners to faith in Christ.  It is my responsibility to stand in the way and say, “NO!” I (and this is an “I” statement) cannot do that as effectively from outside the Episcopal Church as I can from within.

Jackie summed it up quite nicely: “Like it or not, I’m in this battle and can’t walk away until I get released by the One who called me.”

It’s that awareness of being called, of being under orders, of not being simply free to do as one pleases, that animates many of us who choose to stay.  If we still find the boiler room a more appealing place than the lifeboat deck, it is not because we wish to compromise or collaborate with those who have become victims of a great deception, and who now in turn seek to victimize others.  It is because we know that we have not yet been released from duty by the One who called us to that duty in the first place.  And we hope against hope that some of those victims may yet be set free.

I do not presume to know what God is telling other people to do.  I am always most touched by the stories of parents who have chosen to remove their children from the harmful influence of TEC.  I suspect they have the best reason of all for leaving and I don’t blame them one bit.  But I can’t help thinking about the children who are never going to leave the Episcopal Church because they have no one to take them elsewhere.  Some little girls are going to grow up with “two mommies” and some little boys have daddies with “roommates.”  And some will experience a great deal worse.  What will become of them?  If they’re going to end up trapped below decks, a big part of me wants to stay with them and offer what hope and encouragement I can.  They will surely need it.

For those of you who are leaving, your challenge is this: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  Run circles around us, if you can, and let your efforts pave the way for a grand revival that will usher millions into the Kingdom of Heaven—whatever you can do.  Who knows, perhaps our vocation of witness to TEC may one day reach an end.  If SS ECUSA does break up, by all means row back and pick up survivors.  We’ll be wet and we’ll be cold and we’ll be glad to see you.  But we’ll still be giving thanks to God that, for a time at least, we were part of His evidence that the Christian religion could not be completely overturned, even in so dark a place. That is part of what it means to be a “sign of contradiction,” and to that some of us are called.

[60] Posted by episcopalienated on 05-23-2008 at 08:33 PM • top

Episcopalienated, thank you for your inspiration and your charity, which I think has been lacking a bit on this thread. God bless.

[61] Posted by oscewicee on 05-23-2008 at 08:39 PM • top

MP—You are lucky in that Bishop McPherson is certainly one of the better TEC bishops.  Also, based on what you described in your post, it seems to me that even though you are in a liberal parish, you are benefiting from the stability that comes with being a conservative diocese.  You won’t see the worst travesties—that doesn’t mean they don’t happen.  And while your bishop may be tolerant of you—it has been at least 30 years since a bishop of Newark was willing to let traditional parishes flourish.  I have seen with my own eyes the way my Diocese undermines the search process to insure that the next priest will be a revisionist.  I know too many stories about traditional parishes being closed under questionable circumstances.  If every diocese was like your diocese, I don’t think we’d be where we are now.

[62] Posted by In Newark on 05-23-2008 at 09:03 PM • top

This sounds like a good time to quote from Sarah’s original “Little Stone Bridges” article, written almost two years ago.

So here we all are out in the middle of an otherwise quiet forest, sharpening our swords, cooking over a campfire, discussing the little stone bridge, arguing over strategy, and engaging in light or sometimes fierce skirmishes. [To make matters somewhat worse, occasionally soldiers and *particularly* civilians and sometimes even people we had thought allies gallop by our campsite on horses, slinging pejoratives about the worthiness of the battle and the stupidity and hopelessness of whatever it is we are doing or planning—but we have all learned to think about the bridge rather than the occasional galloping passerby.]

So we ask the question. Why on earth are we out here fighting over this little stone bridge?

I will leave the theologizing and the philosophizing and the issues of Truth and the gospel to other minds, for now, although I have some arguments along those lines. Instead I’ll address the question with some very practical responses.

First, we must take note that our Worthy Opponents are in the thick of the battle too. They seem to want this little stone bridge with a great deal of fervor, and all of us must ponder that fact and speculate as to why. I won’t speculate, other than to say that we are fighting over this little stone bridge because it is greatly desired by others. That in itself is noteworthy.

I suspect that this particular little bridge is of interest for a number of reasons—it is little, for one, and thus easily captured. It is crumbling, so that is attractively weak, yet still carries the troops from one bank of the river to the other and so is a useful vehicle. And for a number of decades its bridgekeepers and watchers were somewhat . . . slumberous, shall we say.

Second, once ground is taken, and territory conquered, battle-hardened units don’t generally set up fine, plush camps, smoke pipes, and cook gourmet food. They don’t establish themselves there . . . they rest a little, tend their wounds, and move on.

In other words, they advance their flag, and seek other territory to conquer. The little stone bridge over which they had fought so vigorously the day before, they now use as a launching pad, as a base of operations, from which to field more forces. The leader may establish a base camp, a field operation camp, but he only does so in order to send more troops into battle farther out into the woods, and the fields beyond.

So we are fighting over this little stone bridge because we do not wish for them to be able to use it as a launch pad. The truth is, as long as we are fighting over it, their will be no real “launching efforts” on their part. And here, I step out of the analogy a bit and note that, no matter the fact that the leadership of our national structure is firmly in the hands of our Worthy Opponents [and they are worthy—more on that another time], they are still unable to speak “as a majestic and unified voice” as long as there is a pitched battle going on and opposing voices within their structure.

I’m willing to bet my house that the voices that have been raised over the past five years have played a significant part in, for example, the recent United Methodist defeat of gay activists at their national convention, and the Lutheran pull-back over gay clergy. And we know for a fact that the Little Stone Bridges book played a direct role in helping the orthodox organize on a provincial level and defeat a major liberal initiative in an overseas province.

Big picture, people… keep the big picture in mind.

[63] Posted by Greg Griffith on 05-23-2008 at 10:38 PM • top

I should add that not one person has addressed the points that I made in this post about how we should all stay in TEC.

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/12696/#224686

Perhaps what I said was too convicting.  Perhaps it was too devastating in its inescapable purpose.

But everybody just ignored it.

I guess I know to continue that line of argument every single time this comes up now.  My points were simply unanswerable and unassailable in their logic.

[64] Posted by Sarah on 05-23-2008 at 10:56 PM • top

My My Hey Hey Sarah’s staying in TEC-
Heresy and Blaasssphemmmmy!
There’s more to the picture than meets the eye
Cause Pollyanna will Never Die!

[65] Posted by via orthodoxy on 05-23-2008 at 11:05 PM • top

RE: “My My Hey Hey Sarah’s staying in TEC-
Heresy and Blaasssphemmmmy!
There’s more to the picture than meets the eye
Cause Pollyanna will Never Die!”

Now see, there—there at last is the sort of quality logic and coherence and cold rationality that I have come to expect.

I hope that others will step up to the plate as via orthodoxy has.  And I hope that everyone notices that my true nature as an optimistic pollyanna has been recognized.

No sir, all those people who have claimed I’m too pessimistic and bleak—I’m a Pollyanna.  You just haven’t noticed it yet.

[66] Posted by Sarah on 05-23-2008 at 11:09 PM • top

; > )

[67] Posted by Sarah on 05-23-2008 at 11:10 PM • top

It seems to me, Greg, that there is little point in fighting TEC by choosing to stay in TEC if one chooses to degenerate those that fight TEC by offering alternatives to TEC that divert resources and souls away from poisoness bishops like Bruno and Lee and toward the creation of new non-TEC ministries.

And yes, while I’m sure no one will claim overtly that is what is going on, I can’t help but get that impression that some people are sounding a mite bit self righteous about their decision to stay and fight, almost as if someone that instead transfers themselves and the lambs under their care to the authority of a faithful church is some how abandoning the field of battle.

Most people that go to church want to be in a church that is a source of nourishment, strength and fellowship, not one where they constantly have to watch their back for daggers and have to try to explain to their kids why they should believe in God but not the teachings of the “church” to which they go to learn about God.  Most Christians intent on witnessing to the world want to do so with the support of a church they believe is faithful to God’s Word, not one where they have to try to explain to a skeptical world why the individual Christian is trying to spread a message in contradiction with his church.  Why should people stay in a diocese where they have to tell potential converts “Now, make sure you only go to my parish, because all the other parishes in this diocese are teaching complete hogwash.”?

As far as changing TEC goes, I know an evangelical non-Anglican preacher that said it best:  “My problem is not with a church that blesses same sex unions.  My problem is with a church for which it is even a topic of conversation.” 

Finally, what do you think scares the Methodist and Lutherans moderates more?  The example of a minute number of conservatives writing strongly worded and inneffective protests, or the example of whole parishes and dioceses leaving en masse, taking properties and monies with them and embroiling the church in legal actions?

[68] Posted by AndrewA on 05-23-2008 at 11:12 PM • top

I guess I know to continue that line of argument every single time this comes up now.  My points were simply unanswerable and unassailable in their logic.

Well, first of all, some of us were struck dumb by your reference to gas for $3.00 per gallon.  Where I’m at, we wish it would go down to that.  And I’m drinking tap water.

As for all that Hope and Change, this guy was in town just this week.  Is that what you had in mind?  He’s not an Episcopalian but I have no idea why not.  Of course, I could have invited him to church but have you ever tried to find a parking space anywhere near downtown when he’s around?  It is just so not happening!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dszYRN2YXM

OK, let higher fuel prices keep us in the Episcopal Church.  But if Jeremiah Wright is invited to be guest speaker in my parish one more time I may have to . . . I don’t know . . . maybe . . . say something . . . to someone?

Any suggestions?

Yours for eternal optimism.

And hope, lots of hope.

And that other thing.

[69] Posted by episcopalienated on 05-23-2008 at 11:43 PM • top

Greg #64 - Wish we would have had StandFirm and the like even 20 years ago.  My priest at the time said we didn’t “have to wrry about THAT here”.  That diocese was already liberal, and now has a liberal bishop.  The priest?  He’s in a different orthodox diocese now.

[70] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 05-24-2008 at 12:19 AM • top

Jesus didn’t tell us to join the ABA either.
Jesus didn’t tell us to eat green beans.

Sarah, I am certain you are wrong here.  I distinctly remember reading about both these things.  Let me see - [flip page, flip page, thumbs down] here, right here in the TLATTEC* Version of the Bible in the book of Beers 4:7 is a clear admonition concerning the sanctity of litigation and in Kathrine 13:13 we are exhorted to eat green…..oops, my bad, it’s carrots.  Sorry carry on.

*TLATTEC - The Law According To The Episcopal Church

[71] Posted by JackieB on 05-24-2008 at 03:34 AM • top

Big picture, people… keep the big picture in mind.

Big picture, eh?

1 - TEC still on course set in 1970’s toward “new gospel” (new thing or whatever else you want to call the veritable compendium of heresies spewing forth).
2 - Litigation (and hiding cost of same) against several parishes continues apace.
3 - Extra-canonical persecution of orthodox clergy and parishes continues apace.
4 - Writing canons on the fly to push non-biblical agenda continues apace.
5 - Theologically lightweight gas released by TEC leadership continues apace.
6 - “TEC-effect” cows Rowan Williams into all sorts of gyrations, with one of the net effects being the negation of any positive handling of orthodox concerns at the upcoming Lambeth Conference.
7 - Some orthodox parishes see writing on wall and leave property to Remain TEC-ers.
8 - Sufficient grounds exist for presentment against Jefferts Schori, but HOB so thoroughly compromised that this has a proverbial snowball’s chance of happening.
10 - Windsor Report - dead.
11 - Dar es Report - dead.
12 - Dromantine Communique - dead.
13 - New Orleans HOB meeting results - dead.
14 - HOB - dead.
15 - Gospel light is burning VERY dimly in TEC.
16 - Outsiders detect number 15 and stay away in droves.
17 - The whole host of heaven ponders this and…

[72] Posted by Athanasius Returns on 05-24-2008 at 04:53 AM • top

To Sarah and those who have stayed:  I thank God for you.  It pains me to think of TEC as completely devoid of the spirit, of common sense, of tradition and all the things we care for so deeply.  As for me, not being a very assertive person (and also not in the stage of my life where this sort of fight would play well with the rest of the psyche), finding safe harbor and a healthy, active and strong new parish has meant I go to church.  I’d just stay home, otherwise, listening to hymns on CD and feeling vaguely melancholy, not quite knowing why. 
So I honor you for your fight.  You do it even for those of us who have given up and moved on.  I agree that as long as someone is in there making noise, they cannot move forward as one “glorious” throng, united in cause.  Somebody has to stick out their foot and trip them up as they march by.  And perhaps time and the Lord will see their side going down, as their basic tenets are so unhealthy.  And if they do, I will return.  As a matter of fact, my entire parish would return.  But we’ll be renting our facility from a foundation..just in case.  We’ve learned that lesson.

[73] Posted by GoodMissMurphy on 05-24-2008 at 06:13 AM • top

And finally, in light of the high fuel prices . . . . stay in TEC.

I did indeed overlook this most persuasive line of argument.  Not only do I save valuable time by continuing to drive all of 2 miles to church but it is also the economically sensible thing to do.  And it is also the environmentally friendly thing to do…  the gas-guzzling family van should be driven as little as possible.  I would have to at least quintuple my carbon footprint if I left TECgrin

[74] Posted by Nevin on 05-24-2008 at 07:11 AM • top

FWIW, Doug LeBlanc is a personal friend.  We continue to talk amiably about all manner of things, including the ongoing travails of orthodoxy in TEC and the AC, despite our fundamental disagreement over what approach to take.  He attends St. Matthew’s, Richmond, a staunch evangelical parish and only one of three in the Richmond area openly affiliated with the ACN.  I attend Eternity Anglican, affiliated with Uganda (and also the ACN and CCP of course).  We respect each other and each other’s choices.

But if he should happen to read this comment (not likely), he wouldn’t be surprised (as we’ve often discussed such things), to see that I think he is mistaken in hoping that the public “discussion” that took place when the PB visited SC is some kind of viable model for a long-term strategy by which the orthodox can stay in TEC and “stay involved.”  To me, and I’ve listend to the audio tapes, that “discussion” only showed how utterly unrealistic it is to think that a house divided against itself can stand.  Oil and water just don’t mix.  Neither do heaven and hell.  The PB and I live in totally different worlds, ideologically and theologically.  And they are mutually exclusive.

Personally, staying long-term in TEC ceased to be an option in 2003.  The only question for me is whether or not to stay Anglican at all.  But I continue to think that God, in his inscrutable providence has arranged for Anglicanism to be the flash point, the main battleground where the New Reformation will be achieved—-or not.  This civil war we are in is not being waged just for the sake of those in Anglicanism itself.  We are fighting on behalf of orthodox Christians of all denominations, starting with those in “mainline” denominations in the western world. 

And that’s “the big picture,” as I see it.  Historically, this is the most decisive theological and cultural battle since the 16th century.  This New Reformation really is that important.  I fully expect that it will prove just as bitterly divisive as the original Reformation.  But also just as beneficial and life-giving in the end.  In fact, personally, I think it’s even MORE clearly justified.

David Handy+

[75] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 05-24-2008 at 07:21 AM • top

Sarah is indeed devastating ... but it isn’t her logic.  Alas, for old age!  smile

[76] Posted by monologistos on 05-24-2008 at 08:34 AM • top

FWIW, I offer to everyone to prayerfully consider that God’s call on all our lives is not to buildings or man made institutions, His call for us to His Church is… (bada boom) To His CHURCH which is God’s <u>PEOPLE</u>, not buildings, not canons, not GC and certainly not 815!

Why not take the souls under your care and lead them to a sheepfold where the wolves have not already come in an ravaged the flock.  Is this not good stewardship over the flock?

If wolves continue to ravage your flock, won’t God hold that shepherd responsible for the damage?  Won’t it be credited to his account of sins for which Christ had to die?

We can argue ofver the morality of tithing to 815, but let’s forget mere money and consider the cost in souls lost by not protecting the flock.

[77] Posted by Spencer on 05-24-2008 at 02:15 PM • top

I guess I should clarify that I see no problem with anyone staying as long as they are willing to admit that TEO is NOT part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church and the sole reason for staying is not out of some catholic ecclesiology, but because God has called them into the mission field.  If they stay in TEO as a missionary and remain connected to a home church outside TEO which can provide the support all missionaries need, then I think that is an honorable calling and I bless you in such a calling.

[78] Posted by Spencer on 05-24-2008 at 06:21 PM • top

I guess I should clarify that I see no problem with anyone staying as long as they are willing to admit that TEO is NOT part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church and the sole reason for staying is not out of some catholic ecclesiology, but because God has called them into the mission field.  If they stay in TEO as a missionary and remain connected to a home church outside TEO which can provide the support all missionaries need, then I think that is an honorable calling and I bless you in such a calling.

Spencer,

I’m sorry, but I do not recognize your authority as judge of my calling, the status of my justification, or my orthodoxy.  I am in fact a craven sinner and there is nothing I can do earn my salvation.  My only hope lies in the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Thanks be to God that he made himself into a man and undertook this sacrifice so that I might be reconciled to him.  This is wonderfully good news, which I intend to spread to others as God gives me strength and opportunity.  My goal is that my parish (and my home, my workplace, and everyplace I may go) may be transformed into a colony of heaven, which is where I and all believing Christians have citizenship.  I cannot possibly do this in my own strength.  The situation is in fact quite hopeless.  But I happen to believe that hopeless is a good thing.  Without Christ, I can do nothing.  But I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  I thank God that he has brought me to a situation which has demonstrated to me how spiritually impoverished I am.

[79] Posted by Rick H. on 05-25-2008 at 01:05 AM • top

I don’t think grace was given so that we simply rest in the understanding of our sinfulness and unworthiness.  I don’t think we are being *asked by anyone* to do God’s will by our own strength.  These are false opposites, words historically flung back and forth in the dialog between Rome and Protestantism during an age of schism and unregeneration.Let’s take the example of the Twelve Step program and alcoholism.  I haven’t actually read the whole thing but I’m told it is based on the Ignatian Exercises.  At any rate, imagine how effective it would be if people read that first step (or whichever one it is) that says, “It’s beyond my control and I ask for the higher power, God, etc. to help me and that was it.  No need for any other steps.  No need for struggle.  For actually stopping drinking.  Every time we say as a Christian, “God this is beyond my strength” ... we have to add, “But by your strength this is possible.”  Every time we say, “I am not worthy” we must finish it up with “Make me worthy.”  Christianity is not a medicine designed to disable us, to bring us to submission, and make us slaves.  It is intended to perfect us in Christ and if our theology and practice fails to set us on that course, not only comforting but strengthening us, it falls short of truth.The recognition that we are not saints, generally speaking, is not so very wonderful.  We are thereby confessing sin to one another.  It is good to walk out of sin but if we admit a sin and continue to retain it, this is not something of which to boast and our second state is worst than the first.  It is not sinners who are humble but saints.While Spencer’s remarks in #79 above are spoken with perhaps a certain vitriol (?) and perhaps a certain element of knocking the dust off his sandals is suggested, I think he is absolutely right in the details.  If we are to be missionaries, let us learn from all the experience of missionaries our churches have gained.  If we are serious about being missionaries within TEC, let’s be serious about what that entails. Otherwise, we are rationalizing “going native.“I have this question for those who are on this missionary tack.  Will you be honest and inform your fellow worshippers that you are among them as a missionary?  Bearing witness to Christianity among non-Christians?  If they are non-Christians, what does it mean that you are worshipping with them at their altars?  Will you be using the next Prayer Book that offers worship to the Mother, the Womb and the Holy Ovaries?  Or are we really talking about something other than conversion of non-Christian peoples?  Perhaps it could more profitably be framed in terms of sheep rescuing versus sheep stealing. If it is sheep rescuing we are talking about, what if anything changes in the need for spiritual support and rootedness in healthy Christian community? What would success look like? I think it is helpful to try to get beyond impassioned speeches and think clearly.  This list seems like a good place to do that.  Yes, there is rough and tumble.  People will bruise one another.  There are other, very controlled environments for those who prefer the delicate mode of apparent discourse where appropriate subjects begin with birding and end with tippets.  Ask around.

[80] Posted by monologistos on 05-25-2008 at 07:36 AM • top

I can’t speak for anyone else.  I don’t consider myself a missionary so much as an evangelist.  I am very clear in my parish that most people who worship there have a very incomplete understanding of, and appreciation for, authentic Christian theology.  Most people with whom I talk in my parish agree with this assessment—about themselves and others.  I teach Bible studies and even a class called Christianity 101.  I believe I am very clear with those who come to my classes that the goal is to bring people to authentic faith.  I am also on the committee that plans all adult Christian education offerings.  The others on the committee share my goal.  My pledge stays local. 

I think it is important to distinguish between our own efforts and the work that God undertakes through us.  From our own point of view, the things we do seem like they take a lot of energy and work.  It is not as if we can sit back and not lift a finger.  But the fact is that the inspiration and strength and ability to do that work come from somewhere else.  We are not their source.  If we are not spending a significant amount of time in individual prayer and devotion and Scripture study, we risk crossing from servanthood into sovereignty, into worship of our own ideas and deeds. 

For me, anyway, the steps, in order, are:  1.  Keep working on my relationship to God; 2.  Do the work that God spreads before me as it presents itself, always asking for his help; 3.  Considering the lilies of the field, trust with faith that God will win out; 4.  Ask God for more faith when faith falters and discouragement comes.

[81] Posted by Rick H. on 05-25-2008 at 09:38 AM • top

Rick wrote, “For me, anyway, the steps, in order, are:  1.  Keep working on my relationship to God; 2.  Do the work that God spreads before me as it presents itself, always asking for his help; 3.  Considering the lilies of the field, trust with faith that God will win out; 4.  Ask God for more faith when faith falters and discouragement comes.”

Sounds like a good plan, however I might point out that one could execute this plan outside of TEO just as easily as within and perhaps with more fruitfulness…  Although I must say, this is a very good plan to live by!  Bravo!

But, (monologistos) no there was no vitriol, at least none intended; if anything my attitude has become dispassionate logic now that I am beyond the anger, denial and bargaining and have moved to acceptance… 

You see it all boils down to this, (at least as I see it IMHO), You either believe that TEO is apostate or you do not.  If you do, then all catholic ecclesiology arguments fall apart and separation becomes a near mandate.  If you do not then to separate from the church is certainly sinful if not even unthinkable.  For those who think that TEO is apostate (as obviously I do) then separation is a mandate unless one is called to be a missionary.  However, for those who do not believe that TEO is apostate, leaving the church is equally unthinkable.  The division is quite clear and the repercussions are quite logical as well.  If one believes TEO to not be apostate, then it only makes sense that they view people like me as reckless individualists who want to eternally divide the church until each man is a church unto himself, utter autonomy!  (Of course this is a false perception.)  Sadly, that is how some seem to view people like me.  On the other hand if one believes TEO to be apostate then to stay in such an organization is equally unthinkable.  Furthermore, those who believe TEO to be apostate wonder how someone could still believe otherwise after GC03 and GC06.  Therefore, those of this mindset are likely to question the “stayers” level of orthodoxy and might even resort to accusations of being faithful not to Christ but to brick and mortar.  (This is also perhaps a false assumption.)

So…  There you have it.  No vitriol, just plain logic as I see it.  For me, being in the apostate crowd, the only logical reason for staying is to be a missionary.  Right or wrong, that is the way I believe and I make no apologies for it.  And as for Rick, yes I am a “craven sinner” too and there is nothing I can do to earn my salvation either.  Nor do I presume to be your authority!  I’ll leave that to Christ.  I simply offered a view that I think is worthy of consideration, which is why I said “I offer to everyone to prayerfully consider…”. 

I continue to offer this as food for thought…  Blessings.

[82] Posted by Spencer on 05-25-2008 at 08:47 PM • top

Tone is difficult to convey in this context.  Spencer, I think you are perfectly clear for yourself.  You will have to have patience and let others come to the same conclusion or not.  I would add that TEC is not the only chuch in the world and there could be perfectly valid reasons to go elsewhere, even if it wasn’t apostate (hypothetically speaking).  smile

[83] Posted by monologistos on 05-26-2008 at 12:52 AM • top

Agreed, There are certainly other churches!  And yes, tone is difficult if not impossible where emotions are strong on all sides.  As for having patience, (not something any of us are good at, especially me) I will continue to offer my analysis in the hopes that at the very least it will cause some to think about such things and perhaps, if the Lord wills, even change a few minds in due time.  Unfortunately some will take offense and feel judged by my disagreement with them.  This is regrettable.

Please know that my motivation is not to justify my own actions nor is it to win some sort of debate.  On the contrary, my motivation is that I fear the spiritual implications to those who remain without being fully aware of what they are signing up for.  I fear what paths they may be led into by the deception of TEO.  I do not want anyone to be misled away from our Lord.  For this reason, I will speak up when appropriate, such as on this thread, but I will leave the fruit of my witness (such as it is) up to God.  If what I say is not of God, then my words will not bear fruit.  But if they are, may the Lord bring abundant fruit to them.

Blessings.

[84] Posted by Spencer on 05-26-2008 at 09:33 AM • top

This discussion reminds me of the familiar story of Lot’s rescue from wicked Sodom.  In fact the whole story in Genesis 18-19 seems appropo for many of us.  In chapter 18, Abraham intercedes for wicked Sodom and Gomorrah, beseeching the LORD not to destroy the infamously corrupt and perverse cities as long as a few righteous persons live there.  Alas, in the end, not even ten righteous people could be found. 

Fortunately for TEC, I’m quite confident that there are at least ten righteous and authentic Christians left in the denomination.  How many more is open to speculation, but it’s surely appropriate for us, like Abraham, to pray that God will have mercy and spare TEC from the severe judgment it deserves while there are still innocent people included in its fold.

But second, there is the wild and crazy part about the angels hurrying Lot and his family out of the city just before it is totally destroyed, and Lot’s wife looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt.  The text doesn’t say why she looked back, whether it was wistfully and nostalgically or out of curiousity or mourning for her friends or whatever.  But there is a stern lesson here.  When the day finally comes for Rick and others to depart TEC, let them do so in haste, and not look back!

David Handy+

[85] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 05-26-2008 at 09:36 AM • top

Spencer, I repent of my testiness Saturday night.  Something about your post rubbed me the wrong way, but I am convinced now that what I was reading into it was not what you said, and certainly not what you meant.

NRA, I have alrady identified at least four safe landing spots for me when it is time to leave.  My only hesitation will be in selecting among four wonderful choices.  But rest assured, when it is time to leave, I will be jumping out of the airplane and pulling the rip cord without lingering at the doorway.

I’m not sure that the Episcopal denomination is going to explode in a great ball of flame, though.  More likely it will continue to wither, or its withering will accelerate, until it comes to resemble its true soulmate, the Unitarian-Universalist church, in influence, relevance, and membership—(about 160,000 officially).

[86] Posted by Rick H. on 05-26-2008 at 09:51 AM • top

The folks around some superfund clean up sites often lived there for many years.  Family loyalty and all.  They need to stay there and work to remind the bureaucrats about what is right and wrong.  If they grow a third arm or their children get cancer from the noxious chemical environment…well, that is just the price we must pay to be a “witness.”

TEO is a toxic environment that poisons everything it touches.  Even the more orthodox institutionalist diocese get tainted.  Folks, stay is you want…but to me, these is precious little to be gained and a terrific cost to load onto future generations.

-Jim+

[87] Posted by FrJim on 05-26-2008 at 10:24 AM • top

I try never to forget that there is a grieving process involved.  I have had many years to process this *after* my departure.  As to what my own model for participation is, I’m afraid I’m not totally consistent.  At times, I think, “If only I could bring everyone home with me.”  At other times, it is obvious to me that I cannot do so, for anyone’s good.  What it finally comes down to is that I am serving a kind of obedience.  If only I could remember that!I never understood the Episcopal Church as “ethnic” until I was long gone from it.  That which I missed about “our” services was principally the northern European cultural stuff like Christmas carols.  I missed the learned rthym of reading the psalms and canticles aloud. I missed the liturgies of the ‘79 BCP, if you can imagine!  I missed the people in my congregation (still do).  What I received was both a people and a liturgy that was a homecoming that made what came before seem like shadows.  Now that is particular to me.  Not everyone will be overjoyed at the thought of coming to Orthros (akin to Morning Prayer with much reading of scripture) at 8:45am before the 10:00 opening of the eucharistic liturgy of St. John Chrysostom extending until noon and then milling around in coffee hour for yet another hour.Where I am going with this actually does have a relevance for this group, a point to be made.  My church is that of Antioch.  We are tied to the Patriarch of Antioch today as the Antiochian archdiocese of North America.  One experience the Antiochians have to offer the rest of Eastern Orthodoxy is hardly graspable by Russian or Greek Orthodox…that is, the experience of having one’s country occupied by Muslims for many centuries.  Because of this, our church is not linked so carefully to ethnic background.  Here in America, we do not seek to perpetuate the cultural expression of our mother country so much as some others.  The cathedral where I worship has cradle Russian, Lebanese, Greek and even Coptic Orthodox.  We have many converts whose ancestors came from the usual European and African countries that make up “typical” American culture.  We are Americans, almost entirely.  If a refrain is sung in another language, it is usually sung in lots of other languages, English included.  It is not that we are homogenized; rather, what is important is discovered in the Eucharist when we are made one Body.  It is discovered in a single theology.I’m not much for separating inspiration from more stable modes of discerning calling but the first time I attended a Sunday morning Eucharist at my parish, at the very moment of the epiklesis (as perhaps a gift to me from God who understands my love of order), my heart was changed.  Even the quality of the light changed.  I recognized that flock present as my family.  Yes, I told myself that I had to test this, think about it, etc ... but my heart was captured and all that remained was the somewhat laborious process of catechetical training, a lot of waiting, fasting from the sacraments until I could begin the common life.  I had the advantage of knowing the bishop of this place and being encouraged by example.  At any rate, what you may be able to take away from all this personal babble is the idea that ethnicity can be an obstacle to churchmanship (remember Ireland?)  TEC is very much an ethnic English mode, if Americanized.  Consider what you have in common with ++Venerables or ++Anis or ++Akinola or +++Williams.

[88] Posted by monologistos on 05-26-2008 at 11:00 AM • top

monologistos (#89),

Thank you for sharing your personal journey from TEC to Antiochian Orthodoxy and your reflections on some of the challenges and rewards that were a part of that extended process for you.  Such testimonies are helpful and always welcome.

I’d like to pick up on your suggestion that Anglicanism is thoroughly English in character, even in America.  If I understand you correctly, you seem to be saying that Anglicanism has never become fully indigenous here in the U.S., and if so, I fully agree.  And that is a very significant problem that poses huge challenges for us. 

Just to give one instance, recall how different is the English versus the American use of the word “enthusiasm.”  In British parlance, it’s almost a swear word, with very negative connotations of fanaticism and so on.  Of course, in the U.S. enthusiasm is a very good thing and not tinged with hints of fanaticism at all.  But something of the British suspicion of “excessive” zeal remains deeply embedded within the Anglican ethos.

Recently, a fine book came out that challenges the Anglo-Saxon captivity of Anglicanism as a worldwide fellowship of churches sharing a common heritage.  I’m speaking of Kevin Ward’s rather academic but lucid “A History of Global Anglicanism.”  Dr. Ward teaches at the Universityof Leeds, but spent many years in East Africa as a missionary with the conservative CMS.  The burden of his book (a ground-breaking study of some 350 pages, published by Cambridge Univ. Press in 2007) is to call attention to the key role of non-Anglo leaders in the growth of Anglicanism into a worldwide Communion.

I often wonder, “Do you have to be an Anglo-phile to be an Anglican?”  That is, do you have to prefer English culture to your own culture to really fit into the Anglican system?  Alas, often it seems that way. 

I once pastored a parish in Richmond that was filled with ardent Anglo-philes.  I’ve never seen a congregation where so many parishioners visited the other side of the Pond on a regular basis.  And they loved distinctly English sacred music.  Sadly, it was not a good match.  For if anything, I am an Anglican IN SPITE of its Englishness, not because of it. 

But fortunately, the rapid growth of Anglicanism in the Global South has given me increasing hope that this need not remain true.  In fact, I’d claim that part of the New Reformation is precisely the transition to a form of Anglicanism centered in the Global South that is no longer in bondage to our tradition’s English ethnic roots.

Thanks again, monologistos.  Your testimony is appreciated.

David Handy+

[89] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 05-26-2008 at 01:24 PM • top

David, you will note that I avoided the use of the word “enthusiasm” with regards to my change of heart specifically for this reason.  The liberal end of TEC has been using the language of enthusiasm for some time to justify departure from traditional norms.  Personal, anecdotal experience has replaced understanding our journeys in terms and context of the Gospel story, in terms of our corporate journey.  I’d like to try to keep these things together ... granted the Holy Spirit can and does act apart from the Church but that doesn’t mean we eschew the sacraments as “guaranteed channels of grace” for personal charismatic experience.  Such personal experience if it bears witness to God’s working among us, validates and illumines for us that which we have received.  Of course, as a conservative, you might and should expect me to suggest and attempt to live this approach.You may recall a book by Marion Zimmer Bradley called The Mists of Avalon in which the protagonist, Morgaine, serves the cup of the Goddess to the knights of the Round Table in some mystical, almost visionary context in place of the Blood of Christ.  This influx of feminine energy completely divides the fellowship, sending each off on eccentric quests.  This is the sort of enthusiasm that seems to have possessed TEC.

[90] Posted by monologistos on 05-26-2008 at 02:38 PM • top

Also, I often find people who have firmly in their heads that Jesus was Swedish in appearance, Anglican in theology, King James in language.  When we find pictures of Jesus in Holy Scripture that do not fit that mode, we either reject it or misunderstand it.  In other words, provincialism is not a guaranteed hermeneutic.  At its best, we are childish.  At its worst, we reject Jesus on ethnic or racial grounds.Our job is not to homogenize Jesus by shaking him or heating him like milk.  Our job is not to become androgenous.  We need some understanding of the cultures of the biblical witness so that we don’t fail at exegesis.  But we aren’t doing anthropology.  We are not privileged to determine the meaning of Scripture and Tradition based on our strengths and weaknesses or upon what is ameniable to our contemporary culture but we are dependent upon those who have passed the faith to us.  Even this is not something that happens by rote.  It would be nice if things were easy.  They aren’t.  Having accepted that, we need to abandon the quest to seek simplistic answers.

[91] Posted by monologistos on 05-26-2008 at 02:56 PM • top

monologistos (#91),

I don’t want to pursue this idea too far, lest we wander a long ways off-topic, but I again thank you for another thoughtful post.  No, I haven’t read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s apparently femininst alternative take on the Arthurian legends in “The Mists of Avalon.”  Such things have no appeal for me, even as fodder for something else to oppose.

But I have read with appreciation the classic study by Ronald Knox simply called “Enthusiasm.”  Knox, of course, was a convert from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism, and he is definitely using the word in its derogatory British sense of fanaticism.  And one of his chief targets is none other than…John Wesley.  Suffice to say, I find the book one-sided.  After all, I’m a charismatic as well as an evangelical and Anglo-catholic.  But I’m also proudly American, and I’m not an Anglo-phile in the least.  Now my wife is (or more precisely, she’s a passionate fan of English literature, especially Jane Austen novels, but that’s really another matter), so I can appreciate Anglo-philes.  But I repeat, I’m an Anglican IN SPITE of its Englishness, not because of it.

The need to overcome the limitations of our ethnic roots is something that both Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism have in common.  It’s like when a gardener realizes that a plant has outgrown the pot it was planted in.  It must be transplanted to a larger pot or into the ground so it can continue to grow and flourish.

David Handy+

[92] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 05-26-2008 at 02:59 PM • top

Rick,
Blessings to you.  Sorry if my post upset you, but I am glad we both serve the same Lord and are one in Him.  Peace be with you.

monologistos,
“It is not that we are homogenized; rather, what is important is discovered in the Eucharist when we are made one Body.  It is discovered in a single theology.”
Thank you for this!  As I read it I had this vision of heaven, “I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.”  Oh happy day!  I’ll see you there, don’t be late!  wink  Blessings.

[93] Posted by Spencer on 05-26-2008 at 09:35 PM • top

Oh and by the way, I am a bit jealous that you get this vision of heaven every week!  wink

[94] Posted by Spencer on 05-26-2008 at 09:38 PM • top

The vision is not realized in its fullness here.  Look to the Communion of the Saints!  When converts first come among us, you can often see tears streaming down their faces during our sedate service.  But soon we begin to take it for granted and our awareness declines. Still, it is often our converts that teach the cradle Orthodox to see the treasures of God with new eyes.  And the cradle Orthodox have their gift of perseverance and stability to offer.  Thank God for that renewal of Baptism that is Confession!  Without cleansing, God’s people fall away and grow cold.

[95] Posted by monologistos on 05-27-2008 at 08:09 AM • top

Registered members are welcome to leave comments. Log in here, or register here.


Comment Policy: We pride ourselves on having some of the most open, honest debate anywhere about the crisis in our church. However, we do have a few rules that we enforce strictly. They are: No over-the-top profanity, no racial or ethnic slurs, and no threats real or implied of physical violence. Please see this post for more. Although we rarely do so, we reserve the right to remove or edit comments, as well as suspend users' accounts, solely at the discretion of site administrators. Since we try to err on the side of open debate, you may sometimes see comments that you believe strain the boundaries of our rules. Comments are the opinions of visitors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Stand Firm, its board of directors, or its site administrators.