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.
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.