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Fisking Bishop Howe’s Fisk

Friday, June 6, 2008 • 2:12 pm

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.


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.”

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.


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Comments:

Subscribing since I have already commented on this somewhere else.

[1] Posted by TLDillon on 06-06-2008 at 03:57 PM • top

As to his point #10, that’s awfully smug isn’t it? I’ve met some very clever Presby preachers and some very deep thinking Catholic and Orthodox priests. I doubt that our clergy are any brighter than anyone else’s. Likewise for the laity.

Also, assuming arguendo that we are so very bright, generous and all around superior, shouldn’t we be striving to be godly instead of making comparisons with other churches?

My church went to the heretics and all I got was a lousy t-shirt

[2] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 06-06-2008 at 04:10 PM • top

Subscribing because I can.
Intercessor
P.S. Strong work Fr. Matt

[3] Posted by Intercessor on 06-06-2008 at 04:26 PM • top

“...being allied with the best, the brightest, and most generous clergy and laity in the US…”

Ahhhh, yesh. Can’t touch that! TEC clergy & laity: you da bomb.

rolleyes

So… that explains every General Convention since the 70s, rampant bright spongiform theology, heretical, non-sensical, or non-existent chatechesis, and the ‘generous’ penchant for lawsuits and canonical confiscations.

 

 

 

wink

[4] Posted by tired on 06-06-2008 at 04:30 PM • top

Catechesis.  How did that ‘h’ get in there? Gallic influence? Cat: chat

wink

[5] Posted by tired on 06-06-2008 at 04:37 PM • top

Tired, I think your chatechesis might be a better description of current TEC teaching methods.  Its all about chating about vague concepts, not learning definate answers to definate doctrinal questions.

[6] Posted by AndrewA on 06-06-2008 at 05:11 PM • top

I think #10 about the best and the brightest is Canon Lorne Coyle’s words. Bp Howe’s words would seem to be the paragraph below Matt’s quote #10.

[7] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 06-06-2008 at 06:22 PM • top

Matt,
You’ve done outstanding work here.  I appreciate the efforts that make my attempts to communicate with others inside and out of TEC about some of this crisis a bit easier.

This paragraph however strikes me as criticizing Bp Howe for not being a FedCon:

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?

While I would agree with your criticism of Bp Howe for supporting the Episcopal Visitors plan (as it clearly offered no relief to those who needed it), I wonder what he could do that would generate the waves of support from folks at Stand Firm?

As I recall it was Bp Howe’s correspondence with the ABC achieved the goal of declaring that Provincial bureaucracies are not how we are in communion with Canterbury, but rather that comes through our individual diocesan.  This was a huge blow to 815’s public actions and statement at the time. so much so that that the ACO secretary needed to attempt a half-hearted clarification of the ABC’s statement to placate 815’ legal strategy.  Yet the differentiation was accomplished rather effectively.

I also note that he has so far successfully pulled off a rebellion in the face of all the lawsuits by not going to court against his departing congregations nor deposing his departing priests as far I know. hard-nosed negotiations with a legal representations on both sides don’t have have to be the antongonistic court-room dramas that we see elsewhere.  This alone makes him a non-member in the current trends within the HoB.

He also wrote the very public letter denouncing the handling of the depositions of Bps Schlfield and Cox.  That had to have painted a bulls-eye on his back just for disagreeing so publicly and helping to ruin the PR campaign coming out of 815.  As I recall that letter got a lot praise at the time on SF.

You also criticize him for not being like Iker in his strategy of sacramental differentiation.  Bp Iker’s differentiation as I understand it, is at least in part due to his staunch Anglo-Catholic theology (in the original sense of the word, not current TEC/Liz Kaeton “Anglo-Catholic”).  It seems to criticize Bp Howe for being in communion with people like Bp Chane or John Spong is to make him responsible for the failure of the HoB to discipline or uphold the faith.  Because the HoB or Anglican Communion does not enforce discipline in its teachings is not the fault of Bp Howe.

If you are to come back and say, “But the Church has already spoken on these heresies, Bp Howe should separate from them.”  Many of the more catholic-minded would respond by saying “That is the FedCon response.  Bishops meet in council to impose discipline.”  Even the Roman Catholic Church works through a process for disciplining its errant teachers and leaders, Hans Kung, after all, was not disciplined in a day.

I think you’re putting too much on Bp Howe at this point.  I’ve not seen the evidence that a priest would be allowed to practice SSBs or a non-Trinitarian baptismal theology in Bp Howe’s diocese.

This longer than I wanted it to be because I can’t write concisely on a Friday afternoon.  Overall I think you’ve made some good points where criticism might be warranted, but at the above I do think you’re bordering on criticizing him for not being like you.

[8] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 06-06-2008 at 06:40 PM • top

I also note that he has so far successfully pulled off a rebellion in the face of all the lawsuits by not going to court against his departing congregations nor deposing his departing priests as far I know. hard-nosed negotiations with a legal representations on both sides don’t have have to be the antongonistic court-room dramas that we see elsewhere. This alone makes him a non-member in the current trends within the HoB.

Intersting! I keep hearing this and yet if there is a way then why isn’t Ft. Worth, Pittsburg, et al doing what +Howe is doing? What is it that he is doing diffrerently and what is different about it? Are those wishing to leave TEC buying those buildngs from +Howe and the Diocese? And if so who are they going under? AMiA or CANA which is not recognized in the AC or by the ABofC?

[9] Posted by TLDillon on 06-06-2008 at 06:56 PM • top

ODC,

Slightly different situation wouldn’t you agree?  Ft Worth and Pittsburgh are leaving en masse to join yours in the Southern Cone.  Bp Howe isn’t planning on leaving TEC.

But even in that planned departure of Ft worth and Pittsburgh, they are doing the same thing as Bp Howe is doing, by agreeing in advance to allow TEC loyalist parishes to negotiate to keep their property without threats of court action.  Read the proposed Constitutional changes from Pittsburgh.  As long as prior obligations are met, the parishes are free to go, no threats of lawsuits.  I strongly suspect these bishops and dioceses, unlike Virgina, will keep their word.

[10] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 06-06-2008 at 07:37 PM • top

I wonder if John Howe has had a chance to read the legal briefs being filed by 815 and Mayo House in Virginia for himself?  In those briefs the 815 lawyers argue that all are under 815 and the Presiding Bishop as primate - that the Episcopal Church is THE communion - Rowan Williams is just a courtesy, a sweet tradition that has no authority.  This is what they are arguing (and that Bishop Lee - who once shared John Howe’s assessment of his authority as bishop of a diocese - is going along with it continues to boggle the mind).  I heard it again in court last week.  That John Howe is maintaining that as long as Central Florida is compliant all is well is simply naive at best.  Were that it were so!  As long as John remains bishop he may protect the diocese from the intrusion of a militant kind from 815 - because he is careful not to upset the 815 apple cart and not challenge the broken structures of the denomination.  But the moment he retires, that illusion of pseudo-protection is gone. The laity should not be so naive.  General Convention 2009 stands ready to tighten the screws even more.  Wake up, Church!

815 and the leadership of the grossly non-democratic General Convention are convinced that they are operating under a new revelation from God.  Bonnie Anderson continues to preach this heresy as part of her current road tour.  What John is arguing is that the buck stops at his desk because he’s in direct communion with Canterbury - that is not the case as we see with Bishop Duncan or Bishop Schofield or even Bishop Lee with his own protocol.  That is not what the legal briefs say either - and guess what, the court of law is ruling this roost now.

Until there is a vast overhaul of the systems and structures of TEC, there will be no recovery.  Let’s say that again.  Until there is a vast overhaul of the systems and structures of TEC, there will be no recovery. The weakness of the structures mirrors the theological breakdown and that’s what made the Episcopal Church so vulnerable to heresy. 

The breakdown is massive, like a cancer that has spread to the bones of the church.

Wishful thinking does not work (believe me, we’ve tried that for years).  What John describes may have once been an ideal (in fact, that’s what he taught at Truro which of course was a foundation that led to our parish votes!) - but it is not TEC’s legal view (unless we are successful in our defense in Virginia - which may be why 815 is pouring millions into this litigation?). 

I hope John is reading these legal briefs being prepared by the 815 lawyers.  If he’s not doing it, I hope the laity of Central Florida are.  Look at the power that the PB is now wielding in the House of Bishops.  There is no longer protection for the laity from their Episcopal diocesan bishops.  Those days are over.

The laity hold the purse.  I remember my current bishop telling me that this is a truth most bishops don’t want us to know.  But even now, in the Episcopal Church, the laity hold the purse.  A laity that is equipped and knowledgeable about theological issues and ecclesiastical structures can be a mighty sword for Jesus.  But pulling the wool over our eyes is just a tactic of wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Stay alert, don’t become complacent or ambivalent, pray without ceasing, and hold your bishops and clergy accountable. 

Ironically, it was John’s devotion to equipping the laity for ministry that laid the foundation at Truro for our parish votes.  We read the scriptures in small group Bible studies and attended his indepth courses on books and themes of the Bible.  We collected his tape series and teachings and even now, after twenty years, his work remains in the foundation of our parish life and witness.  We have not forgotten.

A biblically equipped and structurally knowledgeable laity is the best defense against heretical power, like a crew ready for battle.  We are not fooled.  The bishop no longer pleads, but leads. 

As we are all ready in the battle, it would be good to have a Captain who would resist hunkering down below decks, but instead return to the bridge and command the fleet to fight for our own Aslan.

bb

[11] Posted by BabyBlue on 06-06-2008 at 07:53 PM • top

But Rom 1:16,
Bishop Schofield gave the churches in our dioceses their churches free of any $$ exchanging hands as long as they were not leaving the diocese with debt. So I don’t see that much difference in what +Duncan, +Iker, and +Howe are doing that +Schoflield has done except a giveaway in San Joaquin. Yes…you are correct that +Howe is not planning on leaving TEC at the moment…who knows. But, again I have to ask the question…what is +Howe dosing that hasn’t wprked in any of te other diocese that churches have left and got sued by either 815 or at 815’s prompting?

[12] Posted by TLDillon on 06-06-2008 at 09:22 PM • top

ODC,

I’m still not certain that I’m getting the question.  You quoted a portion of my post above and then ask what is Bp Howe doing differently from Bps Iker and Duncan?

My answer: he’s staying and acting like Christian when it comes to lawsuits and depositions.  Just as they are leaving and acting like Christians when it comes to lawsuits and depostions.

I would also point out that Bp Howe is not the first ComCon Bishop to do this.  Bp Stanton has done it including allowing Christ Church, Plano to go and at great cost in the long run to his diocese.

There’s no law or Canon that says a diocesan has to do what the PB says to do.  The PB is not a metropolitan, nor an archbishop no matter how she acts.  I think the travesty in Virginia is that Bp Lee did not want to fight and thereby weaken an ally in the PB.  That appears to have set an unfortunate precedent for ComLib or institutional liberal bishops.

Bps Howe, Stanton, Lawrence, et al, don’t seem have any illusions about her being an ally or an archbishop.  So they do what’s best, as far as they can determine inside their ComCon theology, for their flocks (both those who wish to stay and those who wish to leave), not what’s best for 815 or the PB.

IMHO, where Bp Howe’s argument is weakest in his letter above, demonstrating the weakness of the ComCon inside strategy within the context of TEC polity, is precisely at the point of his succession.  Failure to plan well, and long in advance, for succession has destroyed bigger operations than a TEC diocese. Both the Bible and the business world are filled with good examples of that failure.

[13] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 06-06-2008 at 09:52 PM • top

Another good and thorough analysis, Matt+.  Canon Lorne Coyle is correct on all points.

[14] Posted by BettyLee Payne on 06-06-2008 at 09:53 PM • top

Dear Matt:  You wrote “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. “

And I will comment in a similar sustained manner that while your instant criticism of the Bs. letter is fair game and while his every step and move may not be to the liking of the Stand Firm founding group, your broad characterization of his 19 year Episcopate and his years before at Turro are sadly off-base.  Long before the current PB, long before the Simple Country Bishop VG, and the rest of the TEC freak parade, Bs. Howe was providing the leadership that took a whole diocese careening toward rampant revisionism and set it back on the orthodox tracks.  You discount all the church planting done.  You discount the support of ordained and lay ministries, and so much more.  And to date, you discount that no Diocesan treasure has been eaten up in meaningless lawsuits.  Anyway; I serve under Bs Howe and do so proudly because of the impact his leadership has had in my life; before and after ordination.  Have you, or anyone else at Stand Firm, ever sat down and talked with him?  Just curious Matt.

[15] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 06-07-2008 at 07:20 AM • top

Capt Deacon. I have not criticized his entire 19 year episcopate or his work at Truro. 

I said:

“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?”

My criticism has, specifically, to do with his conduct during this present crisis beginning in 2003. During this period his ministry has been inconsistent, many times both harmful to the orthodox in other jurisdictions and strengthening to the PB.

I am not sure what you mean by, “Have you sat down to talk to him.”

Bishop Howe has released public statements and he has been criticized publicly for them. Matthew 18 is inapplicable in such circumstances. Bishop Howe in this letter has made public mischaracterizations and misleading statements that must and will be examined publicly.

[16] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 06-07-2008 at 08:15 AM • top

Rom

I do NOT at all fault bishop Howe for not being a fed con. But being a com con does not necessitate cooperation and collaboration with 815. That is the point. I brought up +Iker because he has modeled a very good and effective way of remaining jurisdictionally bound to 815 while maintaining an assertive resistant stance. Another example, from a com-con perspective might be Bishop Salmon. Whether one chooses to stay or go, resistance is not only possible but necessary. What is wholly out of bounds, even if you disagree with those who leave or those who stay, is to help the enemies of orthodox Anglicans to the detriment of your theological allies. When +Howe brags to the PB that he will strengthen her hands he does so to the detriment not only of fed con orthodox allies, but to the detriment of orthodoxy in general. REGARDLESS of ecclesiology, REGARDLESS of whether you stay or go, heretics must be resisted with all the might a bishop can bring to bear. To do otherwise is to betray the vows a bishop takes to defend the faith.

[17] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 06-07-2008 at 08:22 AM • top

<blockquote?Have you, or anyone else at Stand Firm, ever sat down and talked with him?  </blockquote>

When I wrote this essay I was attempting to put form into the process we go to when realize, to put it metaphorically, that the vineyards are on fire.

Sadly, not all are making decisions based on Matt’s superb theological analysis.  Were that this were so!  But politics - which means how people work together to achieve common goals - has other disciplines besides the theological or ideological frameworks at work when moving forward toward the goalpost. 

In football, there are philosophies for winning teams that are put to practical use out on the playing field.  The game plan is the political plan.  It outlines the strategy to achieve the goals set out in the philosophical framework. 

It is fine to have a great philosophical view for winning, but it has to be implemented with an actual game plan.  And the game plan has to work.  That’s politics.

So we may all share a similar theological framework, especially when compared to the framework now promoted by 815, but it is clear that we do not share the same game plan.

While we may lament that, it’s also a sign of health.  While it can ferment chaos, it can also provide intense creativity.  But it does require leadership.  Ay, there is the rub.

One of the rather outstanding accomplishments of our opponents in TEC has been their public fidelity to their game plan.  It is quite possible that there are major turf wars going on right now inside TEC - but there remains an almost cult-like uniformity to their adherence to their public game plan.  While they may blow a few gaskets from time to time, they still have a remarkable ability to stay on message. 

The architects of their game plan are veterans or their disciples of those veterans of 60’s-style street politics.  Even Barry Obama, for all his “new thing” campaignm has also returned to the old 60s style street politics of our childhood.  It’s brilliant because it works.

We orthodox by nature and style are not street fighters - especially the leadership.  There are a few and they are quite visible, but for the most part if you are going to be made a bishop, for example, in TEC and you are orthodox, you are not going to be a street fighter.  You will be chopped and served for lunch. 

So most of the orthodox-style bishops are not street-smart politicians - that’s how they were elected.  They weren’t elected to carry on the orthodox campaign but to be bishops who provided window dressing for the church, a sort of veneer of normalcy that provided a backdrop of respectability for the street-smart progressives immoral innovations. 

In other words, the orthodox were used. 

Now imagine that’s you - how would you respond?  You’ve been toiling for twenty years in the vineyard only to find out that the strategy has changed and the vineyards are going to be burned and replanted with another crop.

What does that mean for all the work that was done all those years to produce, at least on your side of the field, healthy vineyards?  What do you do?  If you look up you can see in the distance that the other vineyards are on fire and it won’t be long until the fire spreads to your vineyard. 

If we admit that is smoke on the horizon (and often that is the tripping point), the question then is raised, how do we put the fire out before it consumes our vineyard?

One of the attributes to street-smart politics is a clear-eyed view of what is the true lay of the land.  Gut honest.  For this type of politics, one doesn’t employ focus groups or polls, they are irrelevant because those groups and polls don’t know the answer - they may not even know what the real problem is!  If they did - all those people would be running for office too.

In theological terms it’s called discernment.  It means having an accurate and clear-eyed and truthful and honest view of what truly is,not what one wishes it were or longing for what it used to be, but a wake-up call for what is.  It’s a very painful thing (no one in their right mind prays for the gift of discernment) especially when the truth is not welcomed.  But it’s necessary for only in knowing what is true can a solution or treatment be found.

We can live in our vineyards without wanting to see that the vineyards around us are on fire.  We can live that way until the smoke begins to pour across the border.  It is no wonder then that Episcopalians are fleeing.  Some are being provided shelter, others are disappearing into other denominations, and still others give up. 

Some - having seen the smoke on the horizon, decide to make deals with the vineyard burners as though they will be spared.  And some decide to stand and fight.

The church that John Howe describes is not the one described in the legal briefs drawn up by the authorities of The Episcopal Church.  I don’t know what clearer indication we need then papers being filed in the United States Court of Law to describe the radical structural change that is now underway to compliment the radical theological change.  They are burning their vineyards to plant something else.

To simply say it’s not there is to blink at reality as well.  Look at the signs - see the signs as Jesus said.  The smoke is on the horizon and it’s headed our way.

And so how do firefighters put out those massive fires we see in the West every summer?  Help comes from the outside, not from within the fire itself. 

For years we tried to fight the fire from within.  But when the fire is continually fueled by those who should be fighting the fire, what can be done but to ask for outside help?

The hardest part of all of this is to admit failure.

bb

[18] Posted by BabyBlue on 06-07-2008 at 12:04 PM • top

Thanks, BabyBlue.  I must ask.  How many are fighting?  Where?  How?  It’d be really helpful - especially - to know the how.  The fighters need a full-on, no-holds-barred, long-term, in the trenches, in the streets, battlefield strategy, else the warfare will be short-lived and horrific (what’s happened up to now is mere prelude, my friends).

This battle, to be sure, starts on our knees before the Lord.  The strategy should not include staying simply for staying’s sake, a loser’s tactic.  This is war, folks.

Christe eleison.

[19] Posted by Athanasius Returns on 06-07-2008 at 12:33 PM • top

BabyBlue,
Please check you PM…Thanks
ODC

[20] Posted by TLDillon on 06-07-2008 at 01:02 PM • top

I agree with BB’s assessment.  Fires are fought by creating more fires to destroy the fuel ahead of the fire thus starving it to death.  Water is applied from below and from above via helicopters to douse the fire.  Firebreaks are dug and plowed.  Chemicals are also used. 

As Athanasius recommended, prayer works…we pray first, pray in our closets and gather with other believers.  First step is to wash up and put on our fire-fighting equipment (confess and ask God to forgive our sins, put on the whole armour of God - Ephesians 6)

We pray for a plan, for strength, resolve, right thinking, hope, clear vision, inspiration, for grace to accept injuries, casualties and lost battles, lost soldiers, lost treasures.  We ask for wisdom to put our heads above our enemies (both internal and external enemies - Psalm 27) We ask for God’s intervention (water and chemicals from above) and for a plan of attack.  We pray for God’s heavenly armies to defeat the real enemy the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places (our battle is not against flesh and blood)and trust in the Lord.  (II Chronicles 20:12)

[21] Posted by Theodora on 06-07-2008 at 02:07 PM • top

How do you stand and fight? 

Again, I borrow from the American Revolution.  In the American Revolution there were many battlefields, some led by George Washington and some abroad.  Where did John Adams spend the war?  Where did Benjamin Frankly spend the war?  Where did Thomas Jefferson spend the war?  Have you ever heard of Baron Von Steuben?  Or how about the Marquis de Lafayette?

If you are orthodox who feel you are called to remain in the remnant inside of the TEC structures, you must recognize that you are a minority. With that in mind, you don’t become a target.  The fatal flaw of the Communion Partners Plan is that it publicly identifies the orthodox minority. 

Can we say, for the record, “How stupid is that?”

In short, what the “inside” strategy should be for those who stay in TEC to employ what I might call a Swamp Fox Strategy. a kind of"Episcopal Resistance” but not under the glare of the headlights.  In fact, I know it’s all ready underway amongst the next generation of orthodox leadership.

bb

[22] Posted by BabyBlue on 06-07-2008 at 03:42 PM • top

I continue to ask how +Howe cannot see the trends and where the Episcopal Church is going? His responses seem like an idealist - and perhaps we should all be - in the hope and victory of Jesus Christ overcoming this present darkness in the Episcopal Church. But like one living in a wonderful ocean side house with the wind and waves lapping, eroding the foundation, I am afraid +Howe will be one day see too late the collapse. It’s then that the good people in central Florida will find out the orthodox have moved and the liberals will have elected the next Bishop. And that will be too bad, for new houses have been built on better foundations with much room for friends. But friends have to be willing to take the extended hand….

[23] Posted by Festivus on 06-07-2008 at 04:04 PM • top

BabyBlue wrote above [#11]:

A biblically equipped and structurally knowledgeable laity is the best defense against heretical power, like a crew ready for battle.

Truer words have seldom been spoken on this battlefield. Within TEC, aside from a pitiful handful of white-knight bishops and a few score warrior priests, there has been little to recommend a strategy based on dependence on the clergy. And most of those knights and warriors have scattered for the exits to protect their flocks.

If you are called to an inside strategy, look to BB’s quote above. Then lay low and become organized while waiting until the time is right. That time may be much farther away than you would desire. TEC is a dying church in denial, and it may fall to the next generation of laity to pick up the shattered pieces.

Again,

A biblically equipped and structurally knowledgeable laity is the best defense against heretical power, like a crew ready for battle.

The Rabbit.

[24] Posted by Br_er Rabbit on 06-07-2008 at 05:03 PM • top

Matt,
Valerie Balius here. I’m a priest at Trinity Church serving under Lorne Coyle for the last 7 years. (By the way, our pastoral staff of 3 associate priests and 3 lay pastors stand unanimously behind our rector.) I also served on the CFL Standing Committee for the last 3 years.  I just wanted to thank you for your comments to Bishop Howe’s response.

I was disappointed that the bishop responded at all to Lorne’s FAQ sheet, but I was especially saddened by his grim view of Common Cause.  I have just transferred to Uganda and am encouraged by those in the realignment who are supportive of women’s ordination.  I trust there will be room in CC for those who hold both views.  Thanks again for being a voice of truth and clarity.
vb

[25] Posted by VeroAnglican on 06-07-2008 at 09:54 PM • top

Look at this afternoon’s news.  The one to four favorite lost, and a 38 to one longshot won the Belmont Stakes.  Folks regularly have gone broke trying to predict the future. Perhaps Bishop Howe’s prediction about the future of the Common Cause Partners will prove false.  Similarly, though I have no illusions about the near future, the longterm future of TEC remains unclear, and there is still a mission for folks like Bishop Howe and Bishop Lawrence and those of us who remain in TEC.
  I recall a wonderful teaching on this website several months ago that said we all choose our own lifeboats, and let’s not throw rocks at folks in other lifeboats.  Bishop Howe and the good folks at Trinity Vero Beach all have my prayers and best wishes.

[26] Posted by Dick Mitchell on 06-07-2008 at 10:03 PM • top

I trust there will be room in CC for those who hold both views.

And the LBGT clergy and their supporters are saying the very same thing.

[27] Posted by TLDillon on 06-07-2008 at 10:27 PM • top

It all sounds like that Howe isn’t in full lockstep agreement with ‘us’ and doesn’t take the same approach as ‘us’, so he might as well be one of ‘them’ and against ‘us’.

[28] Posted by Be Watchful on 06-07-2008 at 11:28 PM • top

As a member of a parish that has recently departed the DioCfFL. there is so much I could say in regard to bishop Howe’s leadership. I had been in the diocese for 22 years, and served in various diocesan capacities for 15. I will however confine my comments to the unchallenged comments concerning the orthodoxy of the diocese as a whole. Based upon personal observation and experience….the assumption of the overall conservative nature of this dio. being a determining factor in the choosing of a successor to bishop Howe may be a figment of imagination. Many of the people who supported the bishop’s conservatism and were actively working for orthodoxy, have left, or are planning to leave. I believe that many of the key leaders (clergy and lay) who helped make this dio. the place that the bishop refers to in his response; won’t have those positions of influence, when the time comes to nominate a new bishop. In my possibly very flawed opinion the diocese currently breaks out as one-third conservative, one-third moderate mushy middle, and one-third all ahead full. The reason why it seems to be so conservative is because of the intentional efforts by many orthodox to fill elected leadership positions at the diocesan level.

[29] Posted by Abishai on 06-07-2008 at 11:51 PM • top

Being still a member of a dio of CFL parish and in the diocese for 32 years, I concur with Abishai’s breakdown of the conservative, moderate, ultra-left make up.  The way conservatives must probably go will be a very difficult one.  My observation is that the great majority of stayers are only peripherally aware of the presenting issues and the extent of their effects.  Economics are in a slow decline (a few falling rapidly) in just about every parish of which I’m aware.  The bishop needs to be frank with the parishioners in his diocese, and I’m not certain he wants to do that.  I’m afraid the weariness of all this rigamarole is getting the best of him.  The bold orthodox among us, by and large, are leaving…

Not a rosy picture.

[30] Posted by Athanasius Returns on 06-08-2008 at 08:40 AM • top

I haven’t been involved in the “politics” of the CFL diocese although I was a delegate at last year’s convention.  But I have had experience in 9 different congregations over my lifetime in the CFL area due to employment transfer.  This does not include my experiences while living out of state.  Being a full-time caregiver, especially lately, hasn’t given me much time for anything but reading what’s going on.

My observations run along the lines of what’s been commented here.  My experience is those who know what’s going on are discouraged from sharing it and are subtly undermined when they do so.  “We don’t get into the controversy here - we’re focusing on mission.”  And the priest cringes if you ask questions, and even those who raise their heads up quickly put them down again because it’s comfortable to sit in the pew and do nothing.  It’s not happening here!  Except when you hear the sermon given by the substitute priest which doesn’t line up with Scripture.  Or read the blogs of revisionists in the CFL diocese who are steaming because of anything but their agenda is being done.  No, I disagree with Bishop Howe - this diocese is in for a big fight when he hangs up his crosier.

Heck, we couldn’t get a Stand Firm dinner organized in the CFL area because no one would step up and organize it.  We L2 did behind the scenes and offline, but only 2 other couples showed up.  And that included one couple from Tampa.

I know of one parish who doesn’t publish the Bishop’s letters.  And what’s done about Trinity and this letter isn’t on the main CFL website nor is anything else but the CFL “party” line.  The average pewster doesn’t know about all of this.  And most of them do not care - because they are being told it won’t affect them.

Two of the churches I was a memeber of years ago have left the diocese.  The group who left St. John’s in Melbourne without even a paperclip and New Covenant.  I know many people who contributed to the buildings and upkeep of the parishes while paying the diocesan assessment who have left without “a paperclip” or paid for it twice.  And I know many who have left any form of Angicanism and will not return.  Following Christ was and is more important than the “trappings” of TEC

The real question is what, if anything, will be accomplished at GAFCON and Lambeth.  Jesus tells us of the vine being pruned, and that branches that don’t bear fruit will be cut.  Some feel that it’s the outer fringes on both sides that will get cut, history shows that the faithful root is what is nurtured.  So far, that’s also what’s consistently growing in all this.  The faithful root.

[31] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 06-12-2008 at 07:52 AM • top

A biblically equipped and structurally knowledgeable laity is the best defense against heretical power, like a crew ready for battle.

Amen.  When that sleeping giant awakens, better hold on to your hat.  Just that is happening in Texas.  Check it out.  See esp. the position paper.

https://www.remainfaithful.org/

cheers,

Bill+

[32] Posted by Bill+ on 06-12-2008 at 08:47 AM • top

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