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Mere Anarchy in the Episcopal Church

Monday, June 9, 2008 • 11:19 am


Guess who wrote this:

I was among those who cheered when the California Supreme Court opened marriage for gay and lesbian citizens. In fact, I was jubilant. But, immediately, I also wondered what the Episcopal clergy and bishops in California would do. For our church is not bound by the actions of the state. We are bound to the actions of General Convention.

Let’s face it: The canons and Prayer Book of our church seem to be pretty clear: The Episcopal Church has not yet authorized a liturgy/sacrament for marriage between two men or two women. I don’t see how we can ignore those canons and rubrics, while holding the schismatics accountable for their violations of our polity.

This ol’ lesbian had serious misgivings when All Saints/Pasadena promptly announced they would proceed with gay marriages. How can one parish stand against the canons and rubrics of our church? I don’t get it.

I was worried that our California bishops might authorize gay/lesbian marriages before our whole church acts at GC09 ... as I truly believe they should and will. Our BCP currently enshrines the heterosexist definition of marriage. I think that’s wrong, and I truly hope we will change it in Anaheim. I heartily welcome the call for our church to engage more deeply the question of what it means to be married and “in covenant.” I hope it would lead us all to a deeper understanding of what is meant when we say, “I do.” Meanwhile, if folks on “our side” violate our canons and polity without taking some disciplinary consequences, then I don’t believe we have an honest leg to stand on when we deal with the schismatics. To state it more boldly: I don’t think we can claim any integrity if we allow this double standard.

It’s none other than Lisa Fox, in this post.

The sense-making doesn’t stop there. Ms. Fox goes on to write:

I’m reminded, too, of the Episcopal priest who has decided simply to omit the Nicene Creed from the liturgy. That is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I’ve never been in a parish that omitted the Creed. If I found one, I would have serious misgivings. Do I have questions about some parts of the Creed? Of course I do! Some of the mysteries articulated there are beyond my ken, so far. But I recognize it as what the Church believes and as the doctrines to which I assent and into which I wish to grow.

Some days, I do understand why the schismatics view us with alarm.

Screeeeeeeeech.

Ooooooo… so close, but yet so far, Ms. Fox. For if you had called us “conservatives,” or “orthodox,” or even “bottom-feeders,” I would have happily posted this with nothing but kudos for such a spot-on post, and for being such a rare example of a “progressive” who really understands what we often say from this side. But calling all of us “schismatics” almost completely undoes all the fine points you made in your post. I’m sure it’s easy to just dismiss everyone who disagrees with you as “schismatics,” but doing so displays both an ignorance of the nuances among your opponents, and hints at a failure to be honest with yourself about what you really are.

If we go to the dictionary, we find that “schismatic” is not an entirely inaccurate description of some orthodox Episcopalians who want to leave the church. One definition is “a person who promotes schism or is an adherent of a schismatic body.” If we define “schismatic” as one who simply advocates a split in a body, then yes - “schismatic” is technically an accurate term for some people on the Episcopal right. While our Worthy Opponents would prefer to label us with the definition of schismatic that reads, “one who creates a schism, or division in the church, on points of faith, discipline, practice, etc., usually for the sake of personal aggrandizement,” I think in the interest of fairness the more accurate definition would be, “One who creates or takes part in schism; one who separates from an established church or religious communion on account of a difference of opinion.”

Note that woven tightly into the explanation of “schismatic,” as a way of making critical distinctions, is the word “heretic.” While I would prefer to label our Worthy Opponents with the definition that reads, “one whose errors are doctrinal, and usually of a malignant character, tending to subvert the true faith,” in the interest of fairness I’ll settle for the one that reads, “one who having made a profession of Christian belief, deliberately and pertinaciously refuses to believe one or more of the articles of faith ‘determined by the authority of the universal church.’”

Furthermore, not everyone who doesn’t agree with our Worthy Opponents is a schismatic. It is not my first choice, for example, to cede the Episcopal Church - or at least my diocesan component - to our Worthy Opponents. I may be a malcontent, I may be a rebel, I may be plenty of things both flattering and not, but I can hardly be called a “schismatic.” I don’t want to remove myself from the Episcopal Church; I want to remove the heretics from it, or at least remove them from as large a part as I possibly can.

So if Ms. Fox would like to carry around in her head an accurate picture of the two sides - and I want to be careful to give her credit for the clarity she expresses in her post - then she needs to admit to two things in addition to the things she’s admitted to in her post:

1. The Episcopal right is made up of two fairly distinct subsets: Those who are threatening to leave, and those who are threatening to stay. If you insist on defining the former group as “schismatics,” then in the interest of accuracy you must be very disciplined with yourself not to describe the latter group the same way.

2. If you insist on defining those who want to leave as “schismatics,” and if you accept even the value-neutral definition I quote above (and since you no doubt accept the more harsh “self-aggrandizement” version, it goes without saying you do), then in the interest of accuracy you must exhibit similar discipline in accepting the latter definition of “heretic” as describing yourselves. If wanting to split a church body makes one a schismatic, then certainly “having made a profession of Christian belief, deliberately and pertinaciously refuses to believe one or more of the articles of faith ‘determined by the authority of the universal church’” makes one a heretic.

To put an even finer point on it: Some of us who are opposed to your attempts to change the teachings and doctrines of this church, are schismatics. All of you who advocate such changes, are heretics. In the interest of clarity and accuracy, I can’t help but think it’s better for you to finally acknowledge this, than to continue trying to square the circle that “having made a profession of Christian belief, deliberately and pertinaciously refuses to believe one or more of the articles of faith ‘determined by the authority of the universal church’” makes you a traditional Anglican, as so many of you continue to insist.


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Comments:

I agree with most everything you have stated here Greg, except, I do not agree that those who have left are schismatics. I truly believe like many others, that those who defied the Primates plea and request not to go forward and consecrate VGR in 2003, fly in the face of B033, DES, this blasphemy of a civil union of a Bishop in a gay relationship that is contrary to scripture, etc… are the very ones who perpretrated the schism. Thus they are the schismatics not those of us who have removed ourselves from the yoke of heresy.

[1] Posted by TLDillon on 06-09-2008 at 11:31 AM • top

One definition is “a person who promotes schism or is an adherent of a schismatic body.”

Adherent(s)
From the Meriam-Webster Dictionary

Main Entry: 2adherent
Function: noun
Date: 15th century
: one that adheres: as a: a follower of a leader, party, or profession b: a believer in or advocate especially of a particular idea or church

“One who promotes”....We who have left did not promote nor follow the leader of TEC into her and her followers schism of going against scripture and redefining God’s Word. Nor did we or do we advocate their their particular idea for the church to change the meaning of its articles, rubrics of the BCP, the scripture and host of other “New Thing Theology” innovations.

We are not schismatics!

[2] Posted by TLDillon on 06-09-2008 at 11:44 AM • top

Okay, you get on a bus.  You’ve bought a ticket to go to Cleveland.

In the middle of the trip, you change drivers.  The new driver wants to go to New York City instead.  He/She takes a vote, and a vocal minority (the only people he/she hears) vote to go to New York City. A minor riot ensues, the police are called, and the people complaining that they bought a ticket for Cleveland are threatened with jail if they don’t shut up and be quiet on the way to New York City.

Are the people complaining they didn’t want to go to NYC in the wrong?

[3] Posted by Paul B on 06-09-2008 at 11:53 AM • top

PaulB,
If I’m on a bus that has, no mattter how it came about, changed it’s direction and end destination, I will get off that bus as I will not continue on the wrong direction that the bus has decided to take and will further take me off of my intended course and end destination.

[4] Posted by TLDillon on 06-09-2008 at 12:02 PM • top

Are the people complaining they didn’t want to go to NYC in the wrong?
Only if when deciding to change buses they expect to take their luggage with them or a refund on the ticket.

[5] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 06-09-2008 at 12:11 PM • top

Only an idiot would board a bus for Cleveland… NYC is where the action is.  Trust us.

[6] Posted by Marty the Baptist on 06-09-2008 at 12:12 PM • top

SpongJohn SquarePantheist,
If your post was sarcasim my apologies, however, the people that paid for the ticket to Cleveland bought it fully expecting to get what they paid for. A destination to Cleveland!!! The luggage and what is in it was bought and paid for with their hard earned money by them not the bus driver nor the changers of the destination of the bus.

[7] Posted by TLDillon on 06-09-2008 at 12:20 PM • top

Marty the Baptist,
My husband would ageee whole heartedly with you! smile

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

ODC, the “holy spirit” is doing a new thing—you’re gonna love NYC!!!  Trust us… only the truly backwards go to cleveland…

And no—you cannot leave the bus.  Or, if you must, you can jump off while we’re moving.  But your luggage stays with us.  We’ll sell it at a flea-market in NYC… but only to people who solemnly swear that they have never been to, nor will ever go to, Cleveland.

[9] Posted by Marty the Baptist on 06-09-2008 at 12:28 PM • top

Marty, well, I was shooting for a nice, benign city and the “Sodom of the Western World” as the contrast.

Maybe the analogy should have had a group of people BUYING a bus to go to Cleveland, and mid way through the trip, a few people decide to go to New York instead.  Who gets to keep the bus and who has to buy a new one?

[10] Posted by Paul B on 06-09-2008 at 12:29 PM • top

Marty,
I’ve been to NYC…Manhatten! I personally was not impressed! I’m a simple cuntry girl!:) Now Albany might be a different story!

[11] Posted by TLDillon on 06-09-2008 at 12:30 PM • top

PaulB,
In that case majority rules and the changers of the bus’ destination need to get off and find another bus! Unfortunately you also forgot to add those in the middle who simply don’t care but just wanted to go somewhere! smile

[12] Posted by TLDillon on 06-09-2008 at 12:34 PM • top

I personally was not impressed! I’m a simple cuntry girl!:)
Oops! Should have read:
I personally was not impressed! I’m a simple country girl! smile

[13] Posted by TLDillon on 06-09-2008 at 12:35 PM • top

Yes sorry ODC forgot to use an emoticon. xP

[14] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 06-09-2008 at 12:36 PM • top

What if the minority pretend they want to go to Cleveland, and no one notices they’re really driving to New York until it’s too late?

And what if even as you go by the Empire State Building, some of them insist that they are truly in Cleveland, and that by wanting to drive the other way *you* are the one who really wants to go to New York?

[15] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 06-09-2008 at 12:50 PM • top

SpongJohn - You’ve obviously been an Episcopalian for some time.  smile

[16] Posted by JackieB on 06-09-2008 at 12:58 PM • top

SpongJohn SquarePantheist,
In love for you as a brother in Christ and in jest I say this to you!
You are spending too much time in your imagination on this one! But….that is how, Saturday Night Live, Monty Python, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In came to being. Imgaination is a fun place to be, but eventually we must all look & come back to reality at some point! smile

[17] Posted by TLDillon on 06-09-2008 at 12:59 PM • top

You can’t be in schism from a heretical body.  What we have is not, in my opinion, two bodies as Sarah describes them, but two bodies with two different theories on how they stay in communion with the universal Church.  The only schismatic in the equation is the GCC.

[18] Posted by Phil on 06-09-2008 at 01:05 PM • top

Technically we as Anglicans created schism when we broke from the Roman Catholic Church and created the CoE. Orthodox or no, schism began there and continued!

[19] Posted by TLDillon on 06-09-2008 at 01:10 PM • top

BTW, would you not say that TEC was schismatic when it broke away from the CofE?

[20] Posted by TLDillon on 06-09-2008 at 01:11 PM • top


Okay, you get on a bus.  You’ve bought a ticket to go to Cleveland.

In the middle of the trip, you change drivers.  The new driver wants to go to New York City instead. 

Is this actually the opening lines to one of those weird math questions on the SATs?

[21] Posted by hanks on 06-09-2008 at 01:21 PM • top

<u>Encouraging:</u>  Someone on the screaming left acknowledging that breaking the rules just doesn’t look right - especially if they want to accuse others of breaking the rules.
<u>Discouraging:</u>  Her absolute confidence that the rules that the progressives want to break are going to be changed in the near future.
<u>Encouraging:</u>  the fact that many revisionists will not listen to Ms. Fox, and continue to shoot themselves in the foot while being quite sure that no-one will notice, or they are so-very-right that we shouldn’t quibble - after all, how do you define all this stuff anyway?
<u>Discouraging:</u>  Lambeth will come and go, GC ‘09 Anaheim will come and go, and nothing will change for us lowly “schismatics”.

BTW Greg, I don’t think Ms. Fox cares one way or the other about the definitions of schism or schismatic - she seems to be parroting her mentors who want to find the most dismissive pejorative possible for those who disagree with them.  They could call us “armpit scratchers” if they like…as long as it <u>sounds</u> really really bad…

[22] Posted by GillianC on 06-09-2008 at 01:34 PM • top
[23] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 06-09-2008 at 02:01 PM • top

Personally, I’m not all that enamored with the trip to NYC.  In fact, Cleveland or no, I’d like to go somwhere different, but I might have to wait until after the bus gets to NYC and then see where it goes next.  Then again, in today’s news:

  NEW YORK (AP) - A city Health Department study finds that more than a fourth of adult New Yorkers are infected with the virus that causes genital herpes.

I find a blurb that makes NYC look a little less like somewhere I’d like to go!!

Seriously, it is encouraging to see a lawful person in the New Thingy camp.  I’m reminded of D & D alignments (what geek I am!)  Chaotic Neutral, Lawful Good, and Lawful Evil all make sense from these perspectives.

KTF!...mrb

[24] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 06-09-2008 at 03:06 PM • top

I know I shouldn’t use such sweeping generalities….but seriously….THEY’RE ALL LIKE THIS.  I Infuriated my revisionist sister over the weekend when she brought up TEC and I corrected her by calling it TEO.  Thing escalated, until I finally said….I’m going to believe what I believe, and you can believe whatever it is that you believe at any given moment, and let’s drop it and move on to more interesting topics.  Wet your finger, stick it in the air and detect your moral compass revisionists!

[25] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 06-09-2008 at 04:18 PM • top

There’s a delicious hint of irony whenever an Anglican/Episcopalian starts getting themselves in a twist about schism. With the possible exception of the RC’s, aren’t we all schismatics now?

[26] Posted by TWilson on 06-09-2008 at 04:21 PM • top

Schism, schism! Where’s the schism? It seems that God is showing us some of the weaknesses of Anglican polity.

Let’s see if this can be made more confusing…

1. Anglicanism is neither strictly hierarchical, nor is it congregational. Each diocese is something of a principality, and the principalities exist in a global confederation called the Anglican Communion. That’s good, when bishops aren’t idiots.

2. The principalities also exist in national confederations, or provinces. The one in the USA is called TEC. That’s good, when the provincial leadership aren’t idiots.

3. TEC doesn’t have archbishops, cardinals, a pope (thanks be to God) though the current PB is trying to claim hierarchical authority in a way that rivals the tactics of the great dictators of history, including some pretty evil popes. However, no diocesan bishop has authority over another diocesan bishop. That’s good, if there’s some mechanism for preserving order.

4. The words and actions of the General Convention of TEC seem to have placed TEC in schism with the majority of the dioceses (and provinces) of the Anglican Communion. The leadership of TEC has been taken over by liberals, just as the Southern Baptist Convention was hijacked by fundamentalists a few years ago.

5. Individual dioceses within TEC have remained steadfastly loyal to classic Anglicanism and the Communion, clearly affirming traditional doctrines. These dioceses are NOT in schism with the Anglican Communion. Other dioceses have clearly separated themselves from the Anglican Communion by their words and actions, although they affirm the words and actions of the General Convention. These dioceses are in schism with the Anglican Communion. Yet other dioceses are sitting on the fence, doing their best to ignore what’s going on and trying to focus on the overarching mission of Christ’s Church on earth. These dioceses (and their laity, bishops, priests and deacons) are treading water in a shark-infested ocean.

6. It seems that TEC (and the church of Canada) are resolutely hard-hearted and unwilling to conform to traditional Anglican doctrine. They have been duly warned time and time again, yet their hearts remain hardened. Thus, tradition states with utter simplicity that they (TEC and Canada) need to be completely excised from the Anglican Communion, despite the obvious financial consequences of doing so. The schismatic and fence-sitting dioceses can then decide what they’re going to do about that, if anything at all. They can form their own gay splinter church and teach any doctrine they want - without pretending to be part of the Anglican Communion, or for that matter, Christianity. VGR can be their first openly gay, partnered Archbishop. When they disagree on something else, they can split again, and again.

7. There needs to be a faithful province of the Anglican Communion in North America. It is abhorrent that the faithful dioceses and parishes are being forced to seek protection from persecution by affiliating with other provinces.

GAFCON can make the preparations for a showdown at Lambeth. Rowan Williams is a weak leader, and if the faithful bishops of the Anglican Communion join forces, link arms, and come in singing “We Shall Overcome”, they can easily hijack Lambeth and do what needs to be done. The liberals won’t be able to stop it. I personally hope that the bishops who have elected to stay away will descend upon Lambeth, roaring like lions! No more dialogue. Time, past time, for action.

[27] Posted by Ralph on 06-09-2008 at 04:33 PM • top

#26, TWilson, at the risk of opening a giant can of worms, just ask the Greek Orthodox about the RC’s and schism. wink

What’s been lacking amidst all the invective is charity. And I include myself in the group that lacks it. Also humility and mercy, but if we could raise the level of charity, then those two will follow.

As fresh as a blushing June bride.

[28] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 06-09-2008 at 05:06 PM • top

Greg, thank you for posting this piece about Lisa Fox’s response to following the rules. I have just a couple of observations:  I do not believe Lisa or anyone at The Episcopal Majority has accused others in our struggles within the Episcopal Church as “heretics.” We have consistently argued against its use by any side.

Contra Gillian, “schismatics” is used by Lisa in its technical sense. If you want to take it as insulting, you are free to do so, but Lisa and others use that instead of the long list of offensive and demeaning words available. Has she used other language on her blog in reference to personal attacks—certainly. Is she normally careful and respectful in her choice of language? Yes.

I’m grateful, Greg, that you have mirrored Lisa’s graciousness in your post.
Tom Woodward

[29] Posted by TBWSantaFe on 06-09-2008 at 07:01 PM • top

I think that a good case could be made that the majority of the bishops and clerical and lay deputies to General Convention 2003 in rejecting the advice of the large majority of the bishops of our communion on the ordination of persons in same-sex relationships and in the subsequent misuse of the abandonment canon are the authors of schism and that those who have adhered to the advice are the orthodox.

[30] Posted by TomRightmyer on 06-09-2008 at 08:42 PM • top

We have consistently argued against its use by any side.

Of course you have because it might be used against you in critique. On the other hand schism is simply an analytic term, technical term.

I find heresy similarly technical and hope you won’t mind if I apply it, technically of course, to you and the actions you support.

[31] Posted by driver8 on 06-09-2008 at 09:34 PM • top

To put an even finer point on it: Some of us who are opposed to your attempts to change the teachings and doctrines of this church, are schismatics. All of you who advocate such changes, are heretics. In the interest of clarity and accuracy, I can’t help but think it’s better for you to finally acknowledge this, than to continue trying to square the circle that “having made a profession of Christian belief, deliberately and pertinaciously refuses to believe one or more of the articles of faith ‘determined by the authority of the universal church’” makes you a traditional Anglican, as so many of you continue to insist.

Wonderful Greg!

[32] Posted by southernvirginia1 on 06-09-2008 at 10:06 PM • top

Tom,

The point of my post - I admit, I perhaps didn’t make it clearly enough - is precisely that “heretic” is an accurate term for everyone on your side of this debate, and that it is not to be taken as an insult any more than you say “schismatic” is to be taken as an insult by our side.

If you insist that some on our side, who wish to divide the Episcopal Church over matters of doctrine, should accept the term “schismatic” without taking insult, then those on your side, such as yourself, who refuse to believe that Christian sexual morality does not include homosexual behavior, must deal with the fact that you are heretics. Just a fact - no insult intended.

[33] Posted by Greg Griffith on 06-09-2008 at 10:19 PM • top

I’ll also add this:

While Lisa’s observations about her compadres’ not following the rules are appreciated, what’s obvious by its omission is anything in the way of a prescription for the problem. there’s not even a “Hey guys… you need to follow the rules from now on.”

All I see is: “Hey guys, we’ve been breaking a lot of rules. Hope I don’t catch any crap for pointing that out.”

And again, not to take anything away from Lisa, because it’s always good to see one’s opponent acknowledge what one has been saying for years, but… we’ve been saying it for years. We KNOW you’ve been breaking the rules. Only you’ve been calling it “being prophetic.” If you think breaking the rules is a bad thing, then tell us: What should be done about it?

But if breaking the rules is just part and parcel of “being prophetic,” then why even take the time to pause and admit that that’s what you’ve been doing? What’s the point?

[34] Posted by Greg Griffith on 06-09-2008 at 10:29 PM • top

Tom Woodward,
I’d like to hear you say something re: the point of Lisa’s blog posting, rather than your complaint about what somebody else said about something else.
Perhaps you could fill in the blank she left open re: solution to the problem.

[35] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 06-10-2008 at 12:40 AM • top

Let say you spend 40 years trying to change the Canons to make homosexual marriage equivalent to heterosexual marriage and fail.  So, instead of continuing to try to change the canons, you appoint a bishop that is a practicing homosexual, which in direct conflict to scripture, the canons and church tradition. 

Guess what folks - THESE GUYS HAVE DELIBERATELY CAUSED A SCHISM.  THEY KNEW EXACTLY WHAT THE RESULTS WOULD BE, AND IN FACT WELCOME THEM.  THEY ARE NOT FOLLOWING GOD’S PLAN FOR THE CHURCH - THEY ARE FOLLOWING SATAN’S PLAN FOR THE CHURCH.

They may believe they are doing the right thing, but I tell you the truth - they are deceived.

[36] Posted by B. Hunter on 06-10-2008 at 08:42 AM • top

#36 B Hunter..on target!

[37] Posted by southernvirginia1 on 06-10-2008 at 09:54 AM • top

Greg, I would not use the term “schismatics.” I believe the use on Stand Firm of “heretic” is wrong for many reasons. Often those quickest to use such terms are the easiest to expose as having a partial grasp of the whole of Anglican or the Catholic faith.

[38] Posted by TBWSantaFe on 06-14-2008 at 02:33 PM • top

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