Bishop Howe recently published a response to a letter written by Canon Lorne Coyle to the departing members of Trinity Vero Beach. Bishop Howe writes:
“I am concerned that several of his [Coyle’s] statements may not be entirely accurate.”
The Bishop’s letter, however, is itself misleading in its: 1. characterization of the state of the Episcopal Church, 2. use of the descriptive word “Anglican” 3. description of the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury 4. naivety with regard to the designs of 815 and the position of the Diocese of Central Florida 5. assessment of the prospects of the Common Cause Partnership.
Bishop Howe’s response is written as a “fisk”of the Canon Coyle’s letter. It is easiest to answer the bishop in like manner, so here it goes.
The bishop writes:
“1. “Trinity is part of a dying denomination…The Episcopal Church is part of a culture which God cannot honor, the culture of salvation without a cross, of grace without sin, of Easter without Good Friday.”
I believe this may well be the theology of some within The Episcopal Church, but it certainly is not the official teaching of TEC. And, more importantly, it is not the teaching of the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which we are a constituent part.”
The Episcopal Church also “officially teaches” that homosexual behavior may be blessed by the Church. In fact, not only has the Episcopal Church officially embraced and affirmed heresy at two successive General Conventions by legitimizing behavior that God condemns in his Word, but she has also consistently rejected out of hand Resolutions confirming orthodox Anglican doctrine.
In 2003, the Convention refused to pass Resolution B001:
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 74th General Convention affirm that “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation,” as set forth in Article VI of the Articles of Religion established by the General Convention on September 12, 1801; and be it further
Resolved, That the 74th General Convention re-affirm that “it is not lawful for the Church to ordain [that is, establish or enact] any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another,” as set forth in Article XX of the Articles of Religion established by the General Convention on September 12, 1801; and be it further
Resolved, That the 74th General Convention affirm that every member of this Church is conscience-bound first of all to obey the teaching and direction of Our Lord Jesus Christ as set forth in Holy Scripture in any matter where a decision or action of this Church, or this General Convention, may depart from that teaching; and be it further
Resolved, That the 74th General Convention reaffirm that the statements known as the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilaterial of 1886, 1888, as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer, 1979 continue to be true and accurate statements of the faith and policy of this Church, and the Anglican Communion; and be it further
Resolved, That the 74th General Convention affirm that councils of the Church have, and sometimes will, err but that Our Lord Jesus Christ, present through the person of the Holy Spirit, can and will correct such error; and be it further
Resolved, That the 74th General Convention direct the Office of the Presiding Bishop to forward a copy of this resolution to every diocese within The Episcopal Church.
And in 2006, General Convention refused to pass Resolution D058 which would have professed an:
“...unchanging commitment to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the only name by which any person may be saved,” and it acknowledged evangelism as “the solemn responsibility placed upon us to share Christ with all persons when we hear His words, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No-one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6).”
So the most authoritative of all Episcopalian institutions, the legislative body Bonnie Anderson considers the vehicle of the “fullness of divine revelation” has not only embraced heresy but officially and consistently rejects orthodox professions.
While the bishop is correct that the precise language Canon Coyle employs has yet to be rejected by General Convention, if such language were proposed it would no doubt share the same fate. Bishop Howe’s words serve only to obscure the truth that the Episcopal Church which, while perhaps a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, is no longer a living member of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. She is dead or, to be charitable, dying in heresy and blind to truth.
2. “The current Bishop of Central Florida will some day be gone. The process of choosing a new Bishop will be influenced by national church norms.”
Well, of course this is true, but the Diocese of Central Florida is considerably more conservative than it was nineteen years ago when I was elected, and I cannot imagine it electing some far-out liberal. Unless my successor were to do something truly stupid there is no reason to suppose he or she would not be confirmed by the majority of the Bishops and Standing Committees.”
Setting aside the self-congratulatory first sentence which, given the departure of so many orthodox leaders and parishes from Central Florida under his inconsistent and often collaborationist leadership, seems somewhat naive, one must ask what on earth was Bishop Howe doing during the tooth and nail street-fight to garner a bare majority consents for Bishop Lawrence? Does he think that struggle an anomaly? Does he believe that if, in fact, his diocese elects a truly orthodox candidate that he will gain consent with more ease than South Carolina? Has Bishop Howe been paying attention for the last five years?
He goes on:
“3. “The real issue is an agenda which seeks to take away the Godly heritage of Anglican Christianity, to re-write the Bible, and to undo 20 centuries of Christian marriage being between one man and one woman.”
I think Lorne is closest to the truth here. In my opinion, the House of Bishops as a whole has come to believe that this is the great justice issue of our generation. However, we are still part of the Anglican Communion, and The Episcopal Church is in a tiny minority on this one. Lambeth 1998 voted overwhelmingly to uphold Biblical teaching, as has this Diocese.”
And yet this is the “tiny minority” with whom Bishop Howe not only remains institutionally bound but with whom he often seeks to compromise and support. Is it any wonder, given Bishop Howe’s willingness to strengthen the hand of the Presiding Bishop, to cooperate with, enact, affirm, or at the very least refuse to oppose many of her most odious policies rather than actively resist them as a true shepherd and sworn defender of the faith, has resulted in the structural division of his own diocese?
“4. “A number of options are emerging, including the exciting Common Cause Partnership formed in late September 2007 in Pittsburgh.”
Common Cause is a confederation of Anglican-style entities that are not recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and in my opinion, will not hold together. Their fatal flaw is their disagreement over the ordination of women. Common Cause cannot and will not recognize as valid the priesthood of Valerie Balius. It is not a Communion solution.”
“Hold together?” The Bishop of Central Florida lecturing a departing congregation, one of many in his own diocese that but for a tiny vestige has determined to leave the Episcopal Church, on the CCP’s inability to “hold together”? O the irony.
I do not know Valerie Balius or her story, but any suggestion that the Common Cause Partnership as a whole cannot or will not recognize the ordination of women is simply false. There are certainly jurisdictions within Common Cause that do not permit women’s ordination but they remain in partnership with those who do. Though my own views on Women’s Ordination have changed my wife remains an ordained minister in the Anglican Church of Kenya and a member of the Common Cause Partnership. Ordained women occupy leadership roles throughout the Common Cause Partnership.
5. “As Anglicans of the apostolic and catholic tradition, we want to have a Bishop.”
In leaving The Episcopal Church the options before you are to ally with a Bishop who is not recognized as such by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He alone defines who is and who is not “Anglican.”
No. This is, again, false. The Archbishop of Canterbury does not “define who is and who is not ‘Anglican’”. Rather, through his power of invitation he determines whether a province and/or individual bishop, is or is not a constituent member of the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop has no authority to determine who is or who is not “Anglican”. “Anglican” identity is broader and deeper than that. Bishop Guernsey is an Anglican bishop because he was validly consecrated by Anglican primates and Anglican bishops to oversee Anglican parishes. He is an “Anglican” bishop even if he is not a recognized bishop of the Anglican Communion.
Departing parishes, moreover, can, indeed, “ally” or come under the jurisdiction of bishops recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Those consecrated for the purpose of mission in the United States have not been recognized by Canterbury, that is true. But not all departing congregations come under the jurisdiction of the newly consecrated mission bishops. Some, in fact, have gone directly under the jurisdiction of bishops who are presently invited to Lambeth
“6. “All Episcopalians are Anglicans.”
Agreed. But of those in episcopal orders only a smallish minority adhere to the classic doctrines of the Christian faith, much less orthodox Anglicanism
“7. “The Windsor Report’s recommendations have yet to be adopted by The Episcopal Church.”
Correct, but they have been fully endorsed and subscribed by the Diocese of Central Florida.”
And the Bishop and Diocese of Central Florida are in full Communion with the Episcopal Church. A diocese is not hermetically sealed. Communion does not work that way. To be in full communion with Bishop Howe is to share communion with Bishops Robinson, Chane, Bruno, Andrus, Spong and Schori. There is a way to remain within the jurisdictional boundaries of the Episcopal Church and yet make a sacramental distinction between heresy and orthodoxy. Bishop Iker, for example, has modeled that stance for years. But Bishop Howe has not taken that path. Aside from writing the occasional “strongly worded letter” and attending the various “important meetings” at Camp Allen, Bishop Howe, as an orthodox bishop who hopes to “strengthen the hand” of the Presiding Bishop, has been quite useful to 815’s attempted marginalization of those bishops and leaders who have departed or who have actually mounted a concerted resisted from within.
“8. “Our Presiding Bishop said unequivocally at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral that there would be no retreat. ‘All people - including gay and lesbian Christians and non-Christians - are deserving of the fullest regard of the Church.’”
Of course they are! The question is: does that mean they should have their unions blessed by the church? The answer for this Diocese is unambiguous. As a matter of canon law, since 1991 we have stated that “All members of the clergy of this Diocese, having subscribed to the Declaration required by Article VIII of the National Constitution, shall be under the obligation to model in their own lives the received teaching of the church that all its members are to abstain from sexual relations outside of Holy Matrimony.”
More recently we have added this provision, “All members of the clergy of this Diocese may allow to take place in their cures, officiate at, bless or participate in, only those unions prescribed by Holy Scripture: the wedding of one woman and one man. Said clergy are forbidden to allow to take place in their cures, officiating at, blessing or participating in any other unions, as proscribed by Holy Scripture.”
I am happy to hear it. Bishop Howe has done within his diocese what every bishop is required to do by virtue of his vows, uphold and defend the faith and protect the faithful. And yet what has Bishop Howe done, tangibly, to defend the faithful of the Episcopal Church beyond his diocese? What help has he offered to orthodox parishes and clergy beyond his jurisdiction persecuted by hostile heterodox bishops?
On the one hand he has consistently opposed emergency jurisdictional interventions from orthodox provinces. On the other he has cooperated with and participated in the Presiding Bishop’s attempt to deceive the rest of the Communion with the Episcopal Visitor facade—the plan designed to show that the Episcopal Church “really cares” for dissenting parishes in heterodox diocese.
The bishop goes on:
“10. “Being Anglican will mean being subject to a spiritual authority which is grounded in the Bible and the tradition of the ages, being freed from the political battles still facing The Episcopal Church; being connected to Canterbury, being allied with the best, the brightest, and most generous clergy and laity in the US…”
Maybe. If you read the blog sites you will find some of the most vicious and unsavory comments you have ever read. And the problem, as I commented above, is that you will NOT actually be connected to Canterbury. Neither the present nor the former Archbishop of Canterbury has recognized AMiA, CANA, or any of the other border-crossing ventures into the United States as legitimately Anglican.”
If you read Stand Firm you will find a consistent and sustained criticism of Bishop Howe’s leadership because he has thus far shown himself both open to collaboration and unwilling to mount anything approximating resistance against the onslaught of revisionism. Some (especially bishops and those in their hire) consider any negative response or critical analysis of bishops out of bounds. Some consider criticism,“vicious.” And yet that criticism will continue until orthodox leaders lead. When and if that were to happen they would find a legion of willing followers and admirers at Stand Firm.
The bishop goes on to briefly address some local matters that lie beyond the scope of this article. In all, his is an unsuccessful attempt to portray Canon Lorne Coyle’s letter as beset with inaccuracies. Instead, the bishop has succeeded in producing a misleading missive that, by virtue of its wide-ranging mischaracterizations, illustrates, by contrast, the accuracy and truthfulness of Canon Coyle’s letter.