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The Presiding Bishop’s Top Five (Bumped from 2006)

Friday, October 21, 2011 • 8:43 am

Over the course of writing my latest set of articles on the doctrinal positions of the new Presiding Bishop, I’ve collected quite a large body of her interviews, sermons, and articles. The following is a summary of what I have found.  I’ve already published some of the material below under other titles, but this is the first time I’ve put it all together in a cohesive summary.

(Given that the Diocese of Atlanta is presently considering the restoration of Pelagius, I thought re-posting this article from 2006 might aid their deliberations)

Searching the published writings, sermons, and interviews of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, one would be hard pressed to find clear-cut, unmitigated expressions of orthodox Christian doctrine. At the same time, the following five errors consistently stand out.

1. Pelagianism: The British monk Pelagius (354-420? AD) rejected the doctrine of Original Sin, insisting that the created order remained unmarred by Adam’s Fall. Asserting the pristine nature of humanity, he denied the necessity of divine grace. Humans naturally know and do the good.

The argument consistently advanced by PB Katharine Jefferts Schori in support of blessing homosexual behavior proceeds in 6 steps: 1. Homosexuality is a genetically/biologically predetermined trait/predisposition. 2. God is Creator 3. God as Creator has Created all things. 4. God has called all created things good. 5. Homosexual desire is created by God 6. Homosexual desire and behavior is, therefore, good.

Here is one example from an interview with Stephen Crittenden of the Relion Report:

KJS: Well if one looks at the rest of creation, there are lots and lots of instances of same-sex behaviour in other species. They’re generally a small percentage of the whole, but they’re clearly evident. If they exist, an evolutionary theorist would say they have some kind of evolutionary benefit, or they don’t have a massive evolutionary detriment, and if we can affirm that creation is good, as Genesis would say, then I think we have to take those instances quite seriously.

This argument necessarily rests on the Pelagian concept of a pristine created order. By way of contrast, the biblical doctrine of the Fall means that Christians cannot assume that “inborn” or “natural” desires and/or behaviors are necessarily “created” desires and/or behaviors. “Natural” desires and behaviors are measured by the standard of God’s Word in order to determine whether they are consistent with God’s created order or consistent with the fallen nature. 

This requires submission to divine revelation over and above human reason…

2. Marcionism: Marcion (excommunicated 144 AD) imagined a god whose character was wholly love and grace. This god, revealed primarily in the New Testament, stood opposed to the god of law revealed primarily in the Old Testament. Using the concepts of “love” and “grace” as normative criteria Marcion argued that the Church must systematically remove those books and passages from the canon that do not fit. The true canon, in other words, would be determined by Marcion’s re-imaged conceptualization of the divine.

In the same way the Presiding Bishop explicitly privileges certain sections of the scriptures over and above others, based on her own predetermined “image” of the divine.

Here is one example from an article she wrote in the fall of 2003 for her diocesan newsletter.

KJS: As Anglicans, we have always asserted that we listen to three primary sources of authority to scripture, to tradition, and to reason. The debate which has risen to the level of the Anglican primates has its roots in putting different emphasis on those three sources of authority. The Episcopal Church’s General Convention acted last summer out of a sense that reason and a broad reading of the Great Commandment required a different conclusion about matters of homosexuality than did strict adherence to seven passages in scripture which seem to speak against it. The other wing of the church says that those seven passages have ultimate authority, and therefore “we will obey the Bible.”

The “Great Commandment” is her criterion for determining the authority and relevance of the rest of scripture because it (the Great Commandment) is consistent with her personal construct or image of God; an “image” formed by “reason” apart from God’s own self-revelation.

3. Pluralism (John Hick): The Rev. Dr. Alister McGrath in his introductory text “Christian Theology” (pp 534-537) summarizes three distinct ways of understanding the mediatorial role of Christ in salvation:

1.Particularism: The idea that subjective appropriation (knowledge, assent and surrender) or “faith” in the Person and Work of Christ is necessary for salvation.

2. Inclusivism: Articulated by theologian Karl Rahner and codified in the Roman document “Dominus Jesus,” the Inclusivist asserts that individuals who, though without access to the gospel, sincerely seek the Truth, follow the Truth they find, and obey the witness of their own conscience, may be saved by the merciful and vicarious application of the benefits of Christ.

These first two positions (Particularism and Inclusivism) maintain the classic orthodox claim that Christ is the sole mediator of salvation. The third position, Pluralism, articulated by John Hick in the early 20th century, has been rejected by every major branch of the Church.

3. Pluralism: Christ is one among many valid pathways to God, but not the only pathway. Faithful Buddhists, for example, are saved through Buddha (not Christ vicariously mediated through Buddhism)

Katherine Jefferts Schori consistently and explicitly articulates the Pluralist view. Here is a notable example from her interview with Time Magazine:

Time: Is belief in Jesus the only way to get to heaven?

KJS: We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box.

Christ is one among many equally valid vehicles to the divine. This a clear embrace of Hick’s position. Moreover, given an opportunity during an interview with NPR to clarify her remarks and perhaps retreat to the Inclusivist view, she instead chose to reiterate and confirm the Pluralist position.

4. Universalism: The assertion that there is no eternal judgment or hell; that all, by virtue of natural birth, receive eternal life with God. Universalism is the logically consistent position for those who reject the concept of Original Sin and who believe that all faiths are equally valid “vehicles” to the Father. It is, therefore, the stated position of the Unitarian Universalist Church. It also seems to be the position of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church:

Here is a quote from the Presiding Bishop’s interview with CNN

KJS: What happens after you die? I would ask you that question. But what’s important about your life, what is it that has made you a unique individual? What is the passion that has kept you getting up every morning and engaging the world? There are hints within that about what it is that continues after you die.

Her answer seems to be that the “essence” of “who you are,” your “passion,” lives on after you. You are “fulfilled.” Your potential is realized. This is a thoroughly pagan idea. There is no mention whatsoever of judgment, sin, heaven, hell, Jesus Christ, the cross, or repentance.

Everyone experiences an afterlife wherein their greatest passion is “actualized.” Eternal life is a universal given. Within the framework of a pristine created order this makes perfect sense. If there is no Fall, there is no need for “salvation”. “Actualization” or self-fulfillment is far more relevant.

5. Gnosticism: The influx and influence of Gnostic thought during the second, third, and fourth centuries provoked the Christological controversies that ultimately produced of the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. These authoritatively defined Trinitarian dogma and affirmed the dual natures of Christ over and against Gnostic assertions of a radical antithesis between body and soul, flesh and spirit. Gnostic “Christians” deemphasized, allegorized, and/or denied the biblical witness to the Incarnation, Virgin Birth, and bodily Resurrection, considering the idea that God would take on human nature, human flesh, utterly repugnant.

Modern day radical New Testament critics like Marcus Borg, John D. Crossan and John Spong take up the Gnostic flesh/spirit antithesis, asserting a dichotomy between the “Risen Christ” and the “historical Jesus” and denying the historicity of the Incarnation, Virgin Birth, and bodily Resurrection. New Testament accounts are reinterpreted as literary metaphor and allegory or reduced to mystical experience. This permits modern-day Gnostics to employ the language of the Creeds while denying their content.

Here is a troubling quote from the Presiding Bishop that echoes the modern critics (also from her Religion Report interview linked above)

Stephen Crittenden: I guess we should just dwell on it a little bit more because it’s not an idea we hear very often. What is it a metaphor for, Jesus as mother?

Katherine Jefferts Schori: It’s a metaphor for new creation. When we insist that the Christ event in the death and resurrection of Jesus brings a new possibility of life, a new kind of life to humanity, it is certainly akin to rebirth. When Jesus says to Nicodemus You must be born again from above, what might he mean? I think it is a way of the gospel is saying that Jesus is a venue, an event, an experience, and an instance in which life is renewed, in which every human being as access to new life

What is a “Christ event” and what specifically was the Christ event in the death and resurrection of Jesus? Wouldn’t any event in the earthly life of Jesus necessarily represent a “Christ event”?

While at first glance she seems to recognize the resurrection as an “event” in Jesus’ historical life; that impression is difficult if not impossible to maintain given the rest of her answer. In her final sentence, Jesus is not described as an historical person but as a “venue, an event, and experience and an instance in which life is renewed”.

This is quite similar to the language found in the various works of Borg, Crossan, Spong. It is a description of the historical events of Jesus’ life in mystical/metaphorical terms.

It is important to note, given her words above, that in 2003 KJS invited John Shelby Spong (of 12 Theses fame) to lead a training conference for the clergy of her diocese.

In sum, the elected leader of the Episcopal Church consistently makes comments consistent with the following 5 major heresies:


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Just five? You obviously are not looking hard enough.
Heh, heh.

the snarkster

[1] Posted by the snarkster on 11-21-2006 at 12:23 PM • top

Yes, Snarkster, these are just the “top” 5

[2] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-21-2006 at 12:27 PM • top

Ok, campers. Here we are with number 5 in our Hit Parade of Heresies. But first, a word from our sponsor.

Seriously, thanks Matt+. When you put her positions (heresies) in a list like that, the sheer magnitude of what we have done in her election, for good or ill, becomes evident.
My Personal Opinion (insert drum roll and trumpet flourishes): She is going to be a blessing in disguise. With her pushing the buttons and pulling the strings at 815, we are going to have some kind of resolution sooner rather than later. And she doesn’t require a translator like ++Griswold did. Clarity at last.

the snarkster

[3] Posted by the snarkster on 11-21-2006 at 12:40 PM • top

What is sad is the fact that she is not alone in her heresies.  There are a huge number of liberal activists joining with her, not only in the US but throughout the entire Anglican church.  And it doesn’t stop there.  Our Christian brothers in all denominations are under attack as well.  Folks the Devil is alive and well and working havoc in this world.  As Christians we need to band together even more.  This is a new Protestant Reformation under way and I for one am glad to be a soldier for Christ and His Written Word.  My Bible says “Holy” on it for a reason.

[4] Posted by Donal Clair on 11-21-2006 at 12:56 PM • top

Matt, I’ll be sending this out to a whole bunch of Episcopalians . . .


[5] Posted by Sarah on 11-21-2006 at 01:06 PM • top

No Arianism? Then TEC has dropped the name of Jesus for the most part. Thanks Matt!

[6] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 11-21-2006 at 01:13 PM • top

From heresy #4 - Universalism:
“Her answer seems to be that the “essence” of “who you are,” your “passion,” lives on after you. You are “fulfilled.” Your potential is realized. This is a thoroughly pagan idea. There is no mention whatsoever of judgment, sin, heaven, hell, Jesus Christ, the cross, or repentance.”

I would add that there is also a glaring error in her answer in that the Resurrection of the Body is omitted.

[7] Posted by Connie Sandlin on 11-21-2006 at 01:17 PM • top

I am of the opinion (has someone already said this better) that this is the first time anyone has taken her theology seriously. She clearly doesn’t know that which she rejects. This depresses me more than anything. It really all comes down to being very badly educated.

[8] Posted by Anne Kennedy on 11-21-2006 at 02:53 PM • top

No offense at all to Matt, but I might need to print this one out so I can sit on my couch and read it with a barf-bag handy.  I’ll get back to you later—

I’d venture a guess—probably nothing at all really wrong with it, the trouble starts when people try to call this stuff “Christian” dice!!!

[9] Posted by Orthoducky on 11-21-2006 at 03:02 PM • top

Sarah, is ++KJS on your forwarding list for this article? smile

[10] Posted by Milton on 11-21-2006 at 04:10 PM • top

For those just tuning in, here is a copy of the 12 Theses (linked above) by John Spong. KJS invited the man who wrote these to teach the clergy of her diocese. She is now our chief pastor.

1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.

2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.

3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.

4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ’s divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.

5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.

6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.

7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.

8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.

9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.

10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.

11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.

12. All human beings bear God’s image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one’s being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.

So I set these theses today before the Christian world and I stand ready to debate each of them as we prepare to enter the third millennium.

[11] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-21-2006 at 04:18 PM • top

What puzzles me about people like Schori or Spong, Matt, is that they of the “don’t put God in a box” ideology, scoff at the ideas that (for example) God became incarnate as a human and made Himself born of a literal, virgin woman; or that God (Jesus) performed miracles, such as raising parts of His own creation from the dead, outside the normal human understanding of the physical sciences.

What kind of god do these people worship, who has no more power over creation than any competent human engineer?  Who, after all, is really putting God in a box?

[12] Posted by Phil on 11-21-2006 at 04:26 PM • top


I have been blissfully unaware of Spong’s 12 Theses before now, thanks for posting them.  I think.  Maybe bliss was better?

Anyway, doesn’t it seem that #12 is a contradiction of #1?  Indeed, we could probably argue that #1 destroys the next 11 statements or vice versa.

I’ve always thought internal unity is a fairly decent test of a system of belief.  It seems to me Spong’s new world order for the Third Millennium is already crumbling.

[13] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 11-21-2006 at 04:30 PM • top

Matt+  Excellent and very helpful in its brevity and specific focus.
There’s one more interview out there which I think has some significant quotes which get at Schori’s view of God and Christ.

It’s her AP interview with Rachel Zoll just prior to her investiture. 
Rachel Zoll’s article is here.

But there was also another version of this interview released by the Washington AP Bureau, I believe, which circulated to CBN and Agape Press and others. 

The Agape Press story with additional quotes from the interview is here.[/url]

Here are the section that struck me from the Agape Press article:

In John 14:6, Jesus—in responding to a question posed by the disciple Thomas—said: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” But Jefferts Schori says she disagrees with the idea that salvation comes only through trusting in Jesus Christ. “It’s this sense that one person can have the fullness of truth in him or herself, rather than understanding that truth is—like God—more than any one person can encompass,” stated the soon-to-be ECUSA leader.

Jefferts Schori says she views salvation as the healing of all Creation through holy living. “I understand salvation as being about the healing of the whole creation. Your part and my part in that is about holy living,” she offered. “As Christians we understand [salvation] as relationship with God in Jesus, but that does not mean that we’re expected to judge other people’s own commitments.”

I *think* she’s meaning to deny that any one human can possess the “fullness of truth”—i.e. have a monopoly on understanding how to be saved.  But it comes very close to seeming to deny Scripture’s unequivocal statements that all the fullness of God dwells in Christ—most notably expounded in Colossians:

Col 1:18-20
18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Col 2:8-10
8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

And then of course, there’s her view that “salvation = holy living,” which seems to be a works-based creed (to perhaps pair with her “deeds-based evangelism” that’s being touted).  Any view that salvation is dependent on what we do, how we live appearts to directly contradict scads of passages in the NT which focus on salvation as the gift of God to us in Christ, having its source in Christ and accomplished by His work on the Cross.  Here are just a few of the key passages:

Heb 5:8-9
8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

Eph 2:8-9
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9not by works, so that no one can boast.

Gal 2:21
21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Titus 3:4-7
4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

But, all in all, I’m glad for a number of these interviews because it means that the focus of our discussion does get back to the absolutely central issue:  Who does she say that Christ is?  That is where we should have been waging the battle all along (e.g. against +Spong et al).  I’m glad we’re finally back to having this be at the center of our decisions and debates in these days.

[14] Posted by Karen B. on 11-21-2006 at 04:37 PM • top

Of course, seeing the Top 5 list of our new PB reminds me that the Bible is still true in the words of Qohelet:  “There is nothing new under the sun.”

It seems she is kind of repudiating (or at least fudging) a few tried and true Church Councils here, eh?  Is this the direction we can expect for the next generation?

[15] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 11-21-2006 at 04:41 PM • top

Rowan Williams wrote a response to Spong’s 12 points. This should be a link to this (

[16] Posted by ct layperson on 11-21-2006 at 04:44 PM • top

From above:

I have been blissfully unaware of Spong’s 12 Theses before now, thanks for posting them.  I think.  Maybe bliss was better?

The fact of the matter is, probably 60%+ of Episcopalians have no idea who John Spong is and know even less about his 12 Theses. I firmly believe that if they did, we would see a rush to the exits of major proportions. Face it, there is a big chunk of Episcopalian pew sitters out there who believe that nothing 815 or “those big city parishes” do will affect them. They just want to sit in the family pew, visit with all their friends, and sip on that ol’ single malt. They really have no clue about what is going on. A substantial portion of them would be horrified if they were to discover the truth.

the snarkster

[17] Posted by the snarkster on 11-21-2006 at 04:53 PM • top

When reading Spong’s 12 Theses I have always hearkened back to a classic Gilder Radner skit as an elderly, hard of hearing Emily Litella editorial on Weekend Update decrying all the fuss about “protecting endangered feces”.  You make the connection.

[18] Posted by Going Home on 11-21-2006 at 05:22 PM • top

Snarkster, What’s sad is that the collective leadership of TEC has not labeled John Spong the heretic that he is and placed his name among the ranks of Pelagius, Marcion, et al. So much for the vow to be ready “... with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word; and both privately and openly to call upon and encourage others to the same?”.

In my humble opinion TEC has the PB that they deserve, and I say this without any disrespect to those who still find themselves within TEC yet are still faithful to God’s word revealed and the doctrines of orthodox Christianity. What else can I say but come out from among them.

Regards, Conrad

[19] Posted by Conrad on 11-21-2006 at 05:27 PM • top

I hate to rain on this parade but if TEC found it impossible to get rid of Bishop Pike what makes you think the new lady PB will be cast into outer darkness? 

Heresies drive what strength they have from the infirmities of individuals.  For heresies have no strength whenever they encounter a truly powerful faith.  Church Father Tertullian

Without Holy Scripture, the Lord Jesus Christ, revealed Apostolic doctrine and reason to guide this church we don’t have a leg to stand on and the PB can have her way!

[20] Posted by Josip on 11-21-2006 at 05:45 PM • top


No parade here. I am not at all under the delusion that TEC will ever exact discipline on KJS or any revisionist for heresy. My target audience is not the the heirarchy of TEC. My target audience remains those who may just be waking up to the crisis or those in leadership positions in other provinces who may be tempted to think that TEC’s wounds are superficial.

[21] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-21-2006 at 05:49 PM • top


That ‘head in the sand, can’t affect me’ attitude is the attitude of the Episcopal mission in our small (4300) town, on the edge of nowhere. 

We, three years ago, when we first were brought to this place, were called by them into mutual ministry ordination as sacramentalist, and, when asked after GC2003, ‘What shall we do?’, I told them that just because we owed no monies to the diocese outside of the assessment and our subscriptions to Churchnews, we couldn’t just sit back and go on along our merry way, letting it all pass by, we had to be a bit proactive in our intentions to serve Him and to witness to others that we were not the same as the general church at that time, and not just sit back and see what happened.

They, and the mentor vicar, decided to ‘ride it out’.  The team was commissioned, the deacon was priested, a new deacon was ordained, things went blissfully along, and I left to start an Anglican presence.
They are still just doing their thing, they pay little attention to the diocesan, (400 miles away), and knowing that their building, while paid for, is not economically viable due to accessibility issues (not good for their aging congregation, median age 65), so they probably wouldn’t lose it if they resisted the move of GC, and moved, as some wish, into at least the AAC or ACN.

But, they like most small town congregations are bound by habit and lack of youthful congregants, and, while several have left (and returned) after 2003, there is no fire, no zeal, no inclination to do more than they have ever done. 

They ‘catch’ about 25 for Sunday service, where 40 years ago, they had almost 200 each Sunday, with an active outreach ministry and children’s ministry.  The town’s demographics have changed some in that interim, but many other churches in town are booming.  They cannot see what is wrong, and we were not there long enough to have made much of a difference in their attitude.  Besides, they really did not want to know what happened outside of town, much less in the cathedral city, or New York…‘who cares, let it all go by, we don’t care, besides, we’re too small to matter.’

[22] Posted by Fr. Chip, SF on 11-21-2006 at 06:07 PM • top

Where’s Antinomianism?  I think that’s my favorite heresy.  [“Let’s Paaaarrrteeeee!!!”]  (The Antinomians were in Star Trek II, weren’t they?)

Pike, Spong and the rest are lightweight imitators of the major league heretics of times past.  They don’t deserve to have any heresies named after them.

[23] Posted by Cousin Vinnie on 11-21-2006 at 06:44 PM • top

Matt+, Snark: “What’s sad is that the collective leadership of TEC has not labeled John Spong the heretic that he is and placed his name among the ranks of Pelagius, Marcion, et al. So much for the vow to be readyto banish…”

Friends: we need to remember where and who we are.  TEC has learned (most often by observation, not experience) that “banish” and “hereticize”) require less democracy and more magesty than we find in our Church.  As a good example of this balance I recommend to anyone “The Meaning of Jesus,” a great and helpful book co-authored by—are your ready—Marcus Borg and +N.T. Wright.  It’s been out there 6 years and is by Christian standards a best seller.  Now +Wright (the same who attended to TEC in 2006 on behalf of ABC) knows full well not to co-author with fools.  Folks are welcome after study to call or even condemn Borg foolish, but heresy is not in the equation here.  Don’t just center on +Spong, if you’re going to close up your ears: go the whole way through Borg+, +Wright, and on and on.  OR, of course you could work through this, but then there would be nothing to disagree about, just work to do.

[24] Posted by terebinth on 11-21-2006 at 08:08 PM • top

If you are going to equate Bishop N. T. Wright with Marcus Borg, then I suggest you need to study - and I mean really study - what +Wright has written over the past 20 years, because it is obvious that you have no clue what Bishop Wright stands for.

Spong is one of the many heretics and apostates in the Episcopal Church who have not been properly disciplined by the ever more apostate leadership of TEC. Unfortunately, the seminaries are rife with teachers whose orthodoxy is questionable; administrators who lack the courage to discipline those teachers; and trustees who have failed in their responsibility.

Orthodox bishops and priests have been bullied and manipulated into inaction by a very smart and unscrupulous group of political activists who are hell-bent on seeing thier agenda enacted in the Episcopal Church. Kate Schori is the end product of years of this sort of political maneuvering, chicanery and manipulation.

[25] Posted by Allen Lewis on 11-21-2006 at 09:13 PM • top

AL:  Well I have studied +Wright for years, Borg not so much.  BUT: “Orthodox bishops and priests have been bullied and manipulated into inaction by a very smart and unscrupulous group of political activists who are hell-bent on seeing thier agenda enacted…”  doesn’t ring true w/me.  +Wright, though engaged, hasn’t shown the first sign of being bullied, let alone manipulated.  There is a great lesson here.  +Wright has more than “mere theology,” he has experience, and depth, and reality in his eyes.  And from these he brings up the antidote to the short-sighted maneuverings we suffer.  BTW: TEC bishops are not referred to solely by Christian names except in very private, thanks.

[26] Posted by terebinth on 11-21-2006 at 09:53 PM • top

Thank you, Matt+, for reminding us of the wacky nonsense of +Spong’s twelve theses. Just as I did the first time I read them, I felt an urge to vomit. But we need to keep them ever in front of us, so we do not forget how evil they are, and how they totally deny the faith handed down. At the time they were published, a dear friend priest friend (in his 70’s) felt compelled to draft a 40 page draft tearing down +Spong’s reasoning. I took him aside and told him he was a heroic witness, but that no one who really trusted Jesus was going to buy into +Spong’s bulls—- and those who didn’t trust Jesus were already at risk, and unlikely to read his 40 pages.

My friend shrugged his shoulders and said he agreed. But he said, “I really wish I could walk up to him and punch his lights out”! I told him I was glad he wrote 40 pages instead of resorting to violence. He said, “That’s what you do when you are 74.”
I think we all need to preserve our anger at the nonsense in the “12 Theses” but keep our anger under control. But if I ever come face to face with +Spong, well…

[27] Posted by Gulfstream on 11-21-2006 at 10:33 PM • top


Unfortunately I am too familiar with John Shelby Spong.  A few friends were ordained by him after discovering in seminary many years ago that no other bishop would do it.  That said, his 12 Theses I was unfamiliar with until today.  I live overseas and we can’t keep up on American fruitcakes unless the news is covering U.S. politics.

[28] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 11-21-2006 at 10:33 PM • top

Tereinth, I just wanted to clarify that the statement concerning the failure of the “collective leadership” of TEC to deal with John Spong was mine, not Matt+‘s or Snarkster’s. (Don’t want you to get into an argument with them over something they didn’t write.) tongue wink

That said, I stand by my statement. What does the vow to “to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word” mean when there has been a clear failure to discipline someone like Spong?

I will readily admit that I am not familiar with the writings of either +Wright or Borg, but will take some time to read them. I’m also not centering on Spong, just using him as an example.

Regards, Conrad

[29] Posted by Conrad on 11-21-2006 at 10:42 PM • top

I agree with Anne. PB Schori has been poorly educated.  This is a real indictment of CDSP. 
Josip, I love the Tertullian quote.  The corporate infirmities of our seminaries and the House of Bishops underly these heresies.
Matt, thank you.  I think the combination of so many heresies has made it more difficult for folks to recognize, even very bright folks.

[30] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 11-21-2006 at 10:43 PM • top

It might be good to back to Matt+‘s starting point: the PB of TEC has a credibility problem (Peace: B&S’s).  Perhaps in some careful and helpful way PB would speak to us.  As for me I have no timetable, actually I’m working on humility for a while these days.

[31] Posted by terebinth on 11-21-2006 at 10:49 PM • top

T- as you know, in the Meaning of Jesus,” N.T. Wright takes and argues a dramatically different vision of Jesus Christ than Marcus Borg. Borg doesnt believe in Jesus as the definitive revelation of God.  Thats the whole ballgame.

[32] Posted by Going Home on 11-21-2006 at 11:16 PM • top

Our rector, Fr. John Nieman,(Holy Trinity, Clemson SC) was ordained by Spong; in fact he was encouraged to go into parish ministry by JSS.  Here is one example of his theology:  He laid kind of low the first six months of his term here in Clemson, but has begun to show his true colors as of late.  I could leave, but then, what happens to those who are either ignorant of what is going on, or who are unsure how to handle it?  I’d leave the parish with one less reasserting voice.  What a fine kettle of fish.  Or, as Oliver Hardy used to say “What a fine mess you’ve gotten us into!”

[33] Posted by El Jefe on 11-21-2006 at 11:32 PM • top

Tim: “Thats the whole ballgame.” Well. it’s not. You know it, I know it, the 1st c Christians now know it.  The whole ball game is still “in play” as we say these days.  What is pertinent here is that +Wright wipes not is hands of his opponents, he welcomes them.  You?

[34] Posted by terebinth on 11-21-2006 at 11:49 PM • top

Terebinth, Jesus is the definitive revelation of God, the “whole ballgame.” The First Christians knew it; thats why they were willing to go to their death. 

Borg disagrees. Schori++ disagrees.

[35] Posted by Going Home on 11-22-2006 at 12:28 AM • top

Matt, this would make a great book.

[36] Posted by bigjimintx on 11-22-2006 at 06:00 AM • top

Terebinth, Jesus is the definitive revelation of God, the “whole ballgame.” The First Christians knew it; thats why they were willing to go to their death.

Borg disagrees. Schori++ disagrees.

In light of this - and Matt’s excellent analysis - why is ANYONE who is a Christian still associating themselves with this denomination?  There are things that are not worth fighting - there are others worth loosing everything for… the supremecy of Christ and the authority of Scripture are two of them.

It’s time to abandon the Titanic.

[37] Posted by Eclipse on 11-22-2006 at 07:27 AM • top

I appreciate your concerns about ECUSA’s new PB and your efforts to document those doctrines that seem to define her.  I don’t dispute for a second that she is a classic liberal Protestant, if not a secular agnostic.  But I wonder, in the interest of our own self-discipline, if you ought to do a bit of refining of your own explanations of these historic “errors”  and your connection of her words with them. 

For example, your description of her argument in support of homoeroticism as “pelagian” seems quite a stretch.  Indeed, your description of Pelagius and pelagianism is a bit of an abstraction from the key characteristics normally associated with pelagianism and the Pelagian controversy.  The controversy was that Pelagius said the center of man is the intellect, while Augustine said it is the will, which was distorted in the Fall. That is, Pelagius objected to Augustine’s insistence that humankind can do nothing by itself to contribute to its salvation, which controverted Pelagius’ monastic emphasis on striving to live a holy life through control of the intellect. The pelagian question is whether the moral imperative is dependent on divine grace for its actualization, or whether divine grace is dependent on human fulfillment of the moral imperative. Pelagius emphasized humankind’s free will, and reasoned that with proper diligence, we can love our neighbor and God rightly on our own.  To be pelagian is to fall into the error of believing that our salvation is dependent upon our own efforts.  It is not, as you represent, pelagian to assert the goodness of creation and it is not pelagian to assert that humankind is essentially good (although we must follow that with the claim that humankind is existentially fallen), which is the way most of the early theologians, inspired by Plato, kept the tension between Divine Creation and the reality of post-lapsarian existence.  So it is not so clear to me that the ‘pelagian’ epithet is warranted in describing the PB’s argument in support of homoeroticism.  Her argument has problems, but I don’t think pelagianism is one of them.

Moreover, your presentation of universalism is intriguing.  It is true that the Universalists of 19th century America attach particular importance to that doctrine.  But your description of it: “The assertion that there is no eternal judgment or hell,” is misleading, at best.  Let’s first agree there are multiple forms of universalism, which I’ll not recount here.  A more accurate description is that universalists hold that, in the end, God wins.  That is, at the eschaton all humankind will be perfected, because Good shall triumph over Evil and the Father will ultimately recollect all the lost sheep.  It is unquestionably a controversial doctrine.  But many great theologians, including the Cappodocians (such as Gregory of Nyssa) held it, John Wesley held it (Methodists still hold it), Paul Tillich held it, and one can argue that Karl Barth had his own version of it. Balthasar holds it. But none of these deny the reality of judgment or Hell.  Actually it is quite the opposite.  Indeed, Balthasar connects the idea of universalism with the creedal statement that Christ descended into Hell, for there Jesus liberated lost souls from the Devil. Hardly how you present it here, eh? My purpose is not to argue for or against the doctrine (for I won’t presume to know the Mystery of God that well), but simply to insist that we describe the doctrine accurately, and, perhaps, suggest some humility is in order before we dismiss it as error, given that it is a doctrine remains in debate among theologians throughout both Protestant and Catholic circles. It certainly is more complex and deeper than you suggest.

Finally, I need to learn from you to what authority you appeal in labeling these five ‘errors’ as heresies. I have asked you before how you are so clear about what it means to be orthodox.  I am trying to be orthodox but I am not clear on where the benchmark is that I should trust. A heretic cannot be simply someone who disagrees with us.  A heretic historically is one who persists in teaching doctrine declared false teaching after being told to desist from that teaching by those with authority to do so.  To what magisterium do you point that has declared pluralism or universalism heretical? I don’t disagree that they may be false teaching, but that is different from our taking the position of calling them heretical.  As I understand it, the catholic ecclesiology of Anglicans points to the significance of the episcopae and thereby subjects itself to the magisterium of the college of bishops.  “Only a council of bishops can declare a teaching heretical” was a foundational argument of the Henricean scholars when they formed the Anglican church.  Is that the magisterium to which you refer in describing the doctrines you mention as “heresies?” Or is there some other magisterium to which you are referring?

[38] Posted by Craig Uffman on 11-22-2006 at 05:31 PM • top


No time to answer in full, but just having read your criticism of my charge of pelagianism, I think your definition of the heresy is a bit too reductioninst.

The first step in Pelagius’ error was his denial of the effects of Adam’s fall. Then, and on the basis of this denial, came his assertions with regard to grace and its necessity or lackthereof.

As for universalism of the sort embraced by KJS qualifying as a heresy, one need only look to the fate of Origen who was indeed condemned as a heretic for suggesting something quite similar to what KJS suggests.

As for authority well, first of all any teaching that contradicts the teaching of the scriptures, as all five do, is by definition false.

But as for ecclesial authority: Pelagius, Marcion, the Gnostics, and Origen were all condemned as heretics. As for John Hick, simply compare his understanding of the role of Christ in salvation with the official doctrine of any legitimate branch of Christianity and you will find the idea that there is any Mediator other than Christ not only absent,  but roundly condemned.

Sorry I cannot give a more detailed answer, but that will need to wait until after Thanksgiving.

[39] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-22-2006 at 05:44 PM • top


To what magisterium do you point that has declared pluralism or universalism heretical? I don’t disagree that they may be false teaching, but that is different from our taking the position of calling them heretical.

Forgive me for stepping in here, but there is a real clear litmus test for any ‘religious’ teaching and that is simply whether it conforms to the Word of God as a whole.  In CS Lewis’s terms ‘He’s not a tame lion’ BUT He is one who ‘obeys His own rules’ (Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe & Voyage of the Dawntreader).

For example, Jesus clearly states, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except by Me.”  Therefore, to state otherwise might be fun - but it isn’t Christianity. 

Therefore, the problem with the majority of KJS teaching is simply that it doesn’t conform to the Scripture - therefore, proclaiming it as Christianity is simply heresy.

[40] Posted by Eclipse on 11-22-2006 at 06:20 PM • top

Moreover Craig, while I do agree that KJS has articulated a common mode of doctrinal expression of liberal protestantism, I would suggest that liberal protestantism itself is rooted in a base denial of the fall. This basic pelagian confidence in the flesh was, in fact, central to Schleiermacher’s revision of classic orthodoxy in keeping with his Hegelian and Kantian influences…

back to the turkey

[41] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-22-2006 at 06:27 PM • top
[42] Posted by Harry Edmon on 11-22-2006 at 06:27 PM • top

FYI—It’s not as in-depth as Matt’s analysis(or as theological/philosophical), but Michael Medved’s recent assessment on also has the column) hits the ball right out of the park, too, where KJS is concerned. 

Cheers and everyone enjoy their turkey!!  grin 


[43] Posted by Orthoducky on 11-22-2006 at 06:34 PM • top


I missed your parting comments:
“Is that the magisterium to which you refer in describing the doctrines you mention as “heresies?” Or is there some other magisterium to which you are referring?”

Well, Matt is not a Catholic so magisterium not going to qualify, he’d probably speak directly from Scripture (you know ‘no man come to the Father except by Jesus’ stuff). If you want CCC 839-848 might help you if you are Roman Catholic.

Now if you want a magisterium, that’s real easy, she’s a bishop with overies, well the Orthodox and Catholic have spoken on that matter! End of discussion for them!

Hope that helps, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

[44] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 11-22-2006 at 06:41 PM • top

Your last point about liberal protestantism is interesting.  Perhaps you are saying that the adoration of human reason is a form of pelagianism.  I see your point, although I would perhaps critique liberal protestantism more as a complete surrender of the Gospel to humanism or on the grounds of its being an epistemology grounded in rationalism…But we’re pointing to the same thing now. 

Harry, the authority of Wikipedia notwithstanding, i’ll stand by my account of the Pelagian controversy, which, incidently, Matt did not deny.  I have read the documents that Pelagius and Augustine fired at each other and written about them ad nauseum.  The controversy was not focused on the reality of original sin, but on the possibility of human merit before God.  The monastic system was rooted in the belief that a training of the intellect towards holiness would lead to salvation, which Augustine attacked by insisting the problem isn’t a matter of human intellect, but a will misdirected towards self as a result of original sin. 

Hosea et al: Magisteria are not just for Roman catholics.  The Anabaptists located the magisterium in the community of faith.  They attacked the Reformers and scholastics for locating the magisterium in the “Doktors” - that is, in the universities.  The question is where do we locate the authority by which we settle our disputes about what Scripture ordains.  It seems that some here, by saying that locate that authority in Scripture, really mean that they locate it in the individual.  And thus it is self-referential and not communal and not at all orthodox, at least as far as I understand church history.  It makes the claim of orthodoxy, but it shares a lot with liberal protestantism in that it is just as self-referential; it is grounded in the same individualism as the rest all of us born in modernity.

So again I ask, what is the external - non-self referential authority by which we assesss ourselves as orthodox? My own quick answer is the 39 articles, the BCP, and, primarily Scripture, in conversation with saints today and yesterday (the rule of faith).  It is insufficient, for reasons noted, to simply say “the Word of God.”  That is no more than saying that each of us is our own authority.

[45] Posted by Craig Uffman on 11-22-2006 at 08:45 PM • top


Thanks, you are right that I did not challenge your description of pelagianism. It is correct but, IMHO, incomplete(and I have read the exchanges to which you refer as well). The entire error is founded on Pelagius’ basic rejection of the fallenness of humanity. Granted Pelagius et al and liberal protestants have drawn different conclusions from this basic error, but, nevertheless it is a basic error they share.

[46] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-22-2006 at 09:30 PM • top

Moreover Craig, the Reformers did not locate primary authority in the doctors of the Church but in the scriptures (sola Scriptura and all that)

[47] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-22-2006 at 09:32 PM • top

Craig, Both you and Matt+ are more qualified to speak to the heresies cited in his article so I won’t enter the discussion on those points. But I do appreciate and strongly agree with our need to answer your question ...

“... what is the external - non-self referential authority by which we assesss ourselves as orthodox?”

We have defined it in our congregation as that which is:

1. revealed in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament;
2. confessed in the Apostles and Nicene creeds; and
3. defined in the original version of the thirty-nine articles of religion (1571).

That this is done “in conversation with saints today and yesterday (the rule of faith)” I would agree and perhaps elaborate on that thought to specifically include the writings of the early Church Fathers.

Best regards, Conrad

[48] Posted by Conrad on 11-22-2006 at 10:07 PM • top

Matt: I didn’t say the Reformers located the magisterium in the doctors; I said the Radical Reformers said that about them.  In other words, Anabaptists like Hubmaier and Denck made that claim against the Reformers, saying they were simply shifting authority from the elite of Rome to the theologians in the university; they claimed instead that is should be located in the community of faith…a claim that Yoder makes as well in our time….

I want to be clear that I agree with your analysis insofar as you raise concerns about the theology of the PB and identify them as an abandonment of the Gospel.  I think that her theology pervades ECUSA, and much of the mainstream denominations, and is in fact roughly equivalent to the American civil religion born of liberal Protestantism.

Conrad: I was rushing to a movie when I wrote my “quick answer.  I agree wholeheartedly with your suggestion.  My reference to the BCP is my shorthand for that because it includes the creeds….

[49] Posted by Craig Uffman on 11-22-2006 at 11:09 PM • top

Kate’s overarching heretical perspective is yet another, a sixth…. Jungianism. So-o-o seventies/eighties. She’s barely theistic, and she obviously feels most comfortable running everything she thinks through a Jungian filter.

[50] Posted by A Senior Priest on 11-23-2006 at 01:35 AM • top


I wholeheartedly agree with Conrad’s analysis for sticking points in the Faith - oh, like baptism and praying to the dead… things like this.  However, for KJS… it’s obvious she’s anti-Christian - all you need to do is compare her beliefs to Scripture… therefore, into heresy… this is not a ‘election/free choice’ little difference in perspective.  It’s a ‘Christian/Unitarian’ difference in perspective… which is sad, really for ECUSA - that they can no longer recognize truth from lies.

[51] Posted by Eclipse on 11-23-2006 at 11:33 AM • top

Is Schori also into the “Spirit” and “New Thing” and “prophetic” arguments for TEC innovations?  If so, that would make her (with the other reappraisers) Montanist: one who believes he/she speaks with the direct authority of the Holy Spirit.

[52] Posted by st. anonymous on 11-23-2006 at 06:38 PM • top

Hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving! 
Schori does’t want to put God in an “awfully small box” but she and her ilk don’t mind putting him on a shelf.

[53] Posted by ElaineF. on 11-23-2006 at 08:56 PM • top

Craig -
Since I am in the LCMS, for me the non-self referential authority by which we assesss ourselves as orthodox is ultimately the Scriptures, but also the Lutheran Confessions in the Book of Concord of 1580 (which includes the three Ecumenical Creeds) as a true and correct exposition of the Christian doctrine as found in the Scriptures.  In the Book of Concord the Lutheran reformers refer not only to Scriptures to justify the doctrines of the Church, but also to the early Church Fathers and early Ecumenical Councils.  However, since councils have erred and contradicted one another, the Scriptures must remain the “ruling norm”.

[54] Posted by Harry Edmon on 11-24-2006 at 12:54 AM • top

What I see here are charges of heresy, not a declaring of being a heretic.  I am inclined to agree with Father Matt idea and to a small extent expand on the idea.  Mrs Schori embracement of the fundamental ideas of previous heresies is the issue.  That she draws other conclusions than previous heretics is of little importance. 

I subscribe to the idea that new heresies are scarce.  I accept that most of what is seen as new heresies are warmed over old heresies.  Of course new heretics know the condemnation of the previous heretics.  They therefore put new window dressing.  Also, the same wrong theological understanding can lead to different conclusions, based upon what other theological understanding the person holds.  With Mrs Schori as Father Matt discussed in the original post she appears to buy into many heretical assumptions.  That she has different conclusion form the already condemned heretics should be of no surprise. 

I was having a though yesterday of taking only statements by Mrs Schori made since the feign of her election to be PB of ECUSA and see if a case for heresy could be made.  Of course the Righter trial has established there is no doctrine in ECUSA so bring this before ECUSA would be a waste of time.  I would be an interesting exercise, albeit without someone to present it to,  not necessarily a spiritually fulfilling one. 

This woman is a danger.  It matters little if there is a mechanism to declare her a heretic, she is dangerous like a heretic.

[55] Posted by Scott+ on 11-24-2006 at 10:54 AM • top

I was going to come back and respond more fully to Craig today, but after re-reading my original responses and the ensuing comments, I think I will let them stand. They are sufficient I think.

My assertion is not that KJS has reproduced the errors of Pelagius’, Marcion, et al in every detail. That is not what happens. Heresies are reproduced when the core errors of the past are regurgitated and applied in a contemporary setting…sort of a hellish counterfiet of biblical exgesis and exposition.

That is precisely what KJS has done in all five instances. She has followed these great heretics in their rejection of a particular core doctrine (the fall, the authority of special revelation etc…) but drawn different and distinct conclusions.

As far as pelagianism goes, I would also point Craig’s attention to my earlier article on the subject here:

[56] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-24-2006 at 11:14 AM • top

As for universalism of the sort embraced by KJS qualifying as a heresy, one need only look to the fate of Origen who was indeed condemned as a heretic for suggesting something quite similar to what KJS suggests.

The subject of this thread is the threat that the theology the PB represents poses to the health of the Church.  That her secular humanism/liberal protestantism is a threat to the Church seems to me to a rather obvious point for us to affirm.  My quibbling has to do with how we go about responding to that threat.  We must avoid the temptation to dismiss the thoughts of other sheep in the flock with rhetoric that diminishes our own credibility.

I’ll not repeat here my assertion that it is quite a stretch to equate KJS’s case in support of homosexuality with pelagianism.  Her reasoning is defective, which is Matt’s main point, and because of her position, we ought to be concerned.  I concede that, though I maintain that the charge of pelagianism in that particular example of her thought is unnecessary to our cause and dubious at best.

To suggest that KJV’s thought can be compared fairly to Origen’s is uncharitable to both KJV and Origen.  First of all, we ought not dismiss Origen as a heretic without explanation of the facts behind that truth.  Yes, Origen was declared a heretic.  But by whom and when and under what conditions?  Origen is hardly one that scholars today dismiss.  He is recognized as the “father of systematic theology” and he clearly was the intellectual father of Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Basil the Great, and others in the Alexandrian School whose work extended his thinking in ways we claim as our own today. We can’t speak of church history without honoring much of the thought of Origen, and we continue to use his commentaries, especially on John, as a valuable resource in our own biblical studies. He was declared a heretic in 553, around 300 years after he died, but was a church hero before that time.  Why? His teaching that all souls are restored at the eschaton threatened the preferred teaching of Emperor Justinian, that of ‘eternal damnation,’ which has been questioned ontologically but which has the ethical benefit of motivating people to obey the state lest they be forever damned.  Now, it must be noted that Origen speculated about a restoration of souls that sounds a lot to us like what we call a perpetual reincarnation that leads to perfection, and that he claimed that even the devil will ultimately be saved. So I’ll not suggest that Origen’s thinking is one we should appropriate for ourselves today, just as his Cappodocian descendants chose selectively from his thoughts in their time.  We can trace our own core doctrine that underlies evangelical eucharistic theology all the way back to Origen, for he is the one who articulated the idea of communicatio idiomatum, the idea that we are made holy through our own repeated union with Christ. The idea evolved a lot after him, but it was through his Alexandrian School that developed and was passed on to us.

We plainly owe a great debt to Origen and must not smear him by comparison to a contemporary American who has been a priest for a very brief time, who has been an unremarkable bishop, who is not a theologian or a church scholar of any sorts, and whose name we know only because of the vagaries of ecclesial politics.

I won’t recount here Origen’s odd version of apokatastasis, to which Matt refers as “universalism,” but again I challenge the comparison.  How is her thought similar to something as sophisticated and weird as Origen’s? Where do they intersect?

And I also I challenge the implication that all forms of universalism, and especially the forms I mentioned in my earlier post, ought to be categorized as heresy because of the Western church’s anethema in 553.  This is by no means a closed debate and great theologians/church leaders like Wesley, Tillich, Barth, and Balthasar, among others do acknowledge the reality of judgment and hell while at the same time pointing to the eschatological hope that, in the end, God wins, and all the lost sheep are gathered into his arms.

Again, I don’t challenge Matt’s essential point about the nature of ECUSAN thinking as a threat to the Church.  My concern is that we not take liberties that might harm our credibility as we challenge her thinking.

[57] Posted by Craig Uffman on 11-24-2006 at 12:57 PM • top

Craig, I think we will simply have to disagree on this perhaps because I am not sure we will ever agree on the foundations or the principles of the argument itself. Christians who reject the effects of the fall on the created order committ a pelagian error. Saying that this is a pelagian error does not imply, nor should it require, that the one who committs it is a follower of Pelagius on every point.  The same is true with Origen, and Marcion etc…

If I understand you correctly, you think that the label would require a conscious adherence to a given heresy on every point.

Since we apparently disagree on this basic principle, I don’t see us getting very far because while I am quite confident that all the charges I have made are well substantiated in accordance with the criteria I described in the first paragraph of this reply to you, they will remain unsubstantiated according to the more detailed criteria you seem to want to apply.

Perhaps then this different understanding of when a contemporary error can be understood in light of an ancient heresy is where we should start? How many aspects of an ancient heresy would you require?

[58] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-24-2006 at 01:36 PM • top

Moreover, I would never confuse Origen with KJS. But that is not the same as saying she has fallen in a pit he dug

[59] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-24-2006 at 01:40 PM • top

How many aspects of an ancient heresy would you require?

I think, generally, that we ought to be careful to distinguish between theological error and the charge of heresy and use the latter in the way it has historically been used, which, as I indicated earlier, has been when a council of bishops has defined a teaching as false AND ordered a leader to cease and desist in its teaching AND when that person has refused to comply.  That is one reason that I continue to press you on the issue of a magisterium, because it seems to me we ought to give our catholic process time to do exactly that.  I have wondered if I am right in thinking of our primates’ meeting in February as an authoritative council of bishops, or if there is some other entity that we would recognize as appropriately authoritative. It seems to me that the Windsor/Dromantine events might be construed to be the directive to cease and desist from an authoritative body, although that clearly is not the reading assigned to it by the ECUSAN’s with whom I have discussed this point.

But - back to your query - my issue with your charge of pelagianism is that you and I both know that that word has a commonplace meaning in church history because it has been used so often. The charge, in my reading of our history, is associated not with the embrace of any of the elements that led to the Pelagian error, but with the specific error that made the controversy famous: the idea that the training of the intellect on God can lead to salvation, that humans can, without the infusion of grace from God, obtain a state of holiness pleasing to God.  Hence we have the commonplace charge of semi-pelagianism, made in Anglican history particularly by Calvinists against Wesleyans, and before that made against the Franciscans by the Dominicans.  The charge, I believe, makes the same claim each time it is used - that humans can somehow achieve merit before God that leads to their salvation.  That alone is what makes a teaching pelagian, without much attention to the path that leads to that error.

And so, to answer your question more fully, I suggest that it is not an issue of ‘how many elements?’ but rather an issue of adhering to the commonplace meaning of those heresies that are so well-known as to have become adjectives.  My sense is that your standard reserves for for yourself the right to make the charges with too great a liberty, allowing you to apply it in ways that it has not historically been used.  Further, I fear that such liberty might harm rather than help our mutual effort by allowing us to be too easily discredited by our colleagues who adhere to the false teaching.

[60] Posted by Craig Uffman on 11-24-2006 at 04:06 PM • top

Craig, again, I do think we will likely not agree on this. But when it comes to pelagianism, the rejection of the doctrine of the Fall is fundemental to it. For a Christian to do so is to embrace a MAJOR and fundemental tenet of pelagian thought. This is not just my opinion. Alister McGrath in his introductory text, “Christian Theology” identifies three main characteriscs of the Pelagian error. First is the rejection of the Fall. Second is his rejection of the necessity of special grace and the third, I think, is the primary emphasis upon Christ as moral exemplar and a deephasis of his redemptive act.

KJS has embraced one of the three pillars and, like Pelagius, she also tends to embrace an atenuated understanding of the role of Christ in redemption.

Regardless of how the pelagian controversy has been employed in the Arminian/Calvinist dispute, during the reformation, or in any other historical dispute, a key, foundational element of the Pelagian heresy has been used by KJS and others (no doubt unconsciously) to legitimze same sex blessings

[61] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 11-24-2006 at 04:20 PM • top

Ok, Matt.  I think you hear my points and I certainly understand yours. Again, we are in substantial agreement on most things, and certainly agree in your concerns about KJS.  I always enjoy your articles and remain a huge fan.  But I am still waiting for you to dialogue in depth with me on this whole issue of how we know one is “orthodox” and to what authorities does one appeal to help one identify and stay within those bounds….How do we avoid the error of being self-referential? Perhaps a topic when both of us have more time….

[62] Posted by Craig Uffman on 11-24-2006 at 08:20 PM • top

I have taken up to see if I could make a case of heresy using only statements since election. <a > So far I have done a first draft on Pelagianism </a>

[63] Posted by Scott+ on 11-27-2006 at 09:10 AM • top

Congratulations to Matt!

I believe +Schofield mentions this analysis in his convention address.  I found this at the CTsix blog report on his address:

Her public statements, both written and televised, have caused one theologian to discern five different schools of heresy forming her thought and faith.

[64] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 12-01-2006 at 11:35 PM • top

The rest of the bishop’s address is here.

[65] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 12-01-2006 at 11:39 PM • top

This is a very helpful article.  Sometimes, you know something is drastically wrong, but can’t put a name to the problem.  Thanks for the help.


[66] Posted by Basser on 12-14-2006 at 05:46 PM • top

I would add Montanism to the list of heresies.  After all, the revisionists claim they are being “prophetic” and being “led by the Holy Spirit” to do their New Thing.  What is that if not Montanism?

[67] Posted by st. anonymous on 02-19-2008 at 10:10 AM • top

John Wesley, Anglican Minister and founder of Methodism was able to avoid all of these heresies in his theology.  He also has interesting things to say about the difference between doctrines and opinions.  He has a broad acceptance of salvation for those who believe in Christ and some who don’t, even though he thinks them wrongheaded.

See my book: J. Robert (Bob) Ewbank’s book “John Wesley, Natural Man, and the ‘Isms’ has been published.  The ‘Isms’ are Heathenism, Judaism, Deism, Roman Catholicism, Quakerism, and Mysticism.  The questions being answered are: how does each of them differ from John Wesley’s idea of True Christianity, and what are the prospects for those holding these views being saved.

Written for the layperson as well as the scholar, there is a Study Guide in the back of the book to help individual or group study.  The Guide has questions in the front, which are answered later in the Guide.

Bob has a B.A. from Baker University in Baldwin, Kansas and an M.A. from Garrett-Evangelical.  He is currently Lay Leader of St. Mark UMC, in Mobile, AL.

Bishop Rueben P. Job of the United Methodist Church has written some kind words on the back cover. 

Sam Royappa District Superintendent of the Coulee District in Wisconsin has recommended this book to his clergy and laity.

A review of the book has also been published in the October 15, 2009 copy of The Laity Link which is the newsletter of the Alabama-West Florida Conference Board of Laity.

The book is being used by one local Sunday School, divided into 14 sessions.

To find the book go on the internet to:

1. (Wipf and Stock)  For your information, the book is $23.00 at bookstores, but at the web site it is only $18.40
2.  The book is now available at Cokesbury, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, WJE at Yale (The Jonathan Edwards Center),,,, Booktopia,;,,,, Angus &,,,, Infibeam, and among others.

[68] Posted by whoizme8 on 12-12-2009 at 08:55 AM • top

I’m comforted by the first quote from the PB. I’m a member of a small, but persistent class of human individuals: I am nearsighted.

There are lots and lots of instances of nearsighted individuals. They’re generally a small percentage of the whole, but they’re clearly evident. If they exist, an evolutionary theorist would say they have some kind of evolutionary benefit, or they don’t have a massive evolutionary detriment, and if we can affirm that creation is good, as Genesis would say, then I think we have to take those instances quite seriously.

Why weren’t all nearsighted individuals selected out before the invention of contacts? There *must* simply be some evolutionary benefit. I’m throwing away my contacts right now, in order to discover the benefits of bumping into things and riding over potholes and falling off my bicycle. We Magooans need to be more out and proud. Throw away your glasses and live the way God intended! Don’t let the Focusers shame you into denying your true identity and living a lie! Get out of the closet!!! (that is, if you are able to locate the doorknob)

[69] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 12-12-2009 at 09:21 AM • top

#69 - before you get busted and banned for advertising your own book, are you pro-life, that is: against abortionism, pansexualism, utopianism and Mohammedism which are the current anti-Christ challengers?

[70] Posted by Floridian on 12-12-2009 at 09:47 AM • top

...that is the current challengers of Christ and His Church (the whole global, universal, eternal church, not any particular physical organizational sect)

[71] Posted by Floridian on 12-12-2009 at 09:48 AM • top

Against two and lukewarm about the other two.  Believe in the Christian Church Universal and that Christ is the savior of ALL mankind, not just Christians.  He did not die for a few select but for all, if we would but accept the prevenient grace which God gives to us all.

[72] Posted by whoizme8 on 12-12-2009 at 02:09 PM • top

Craig, I know this thread is a bit dated, but are you able to substantiate your repeated claim that John Wesley was a universalist? Or are you perhaps thinking of John Wesley Hanson?

[73] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 12-12-2009 at 04:25 PM • top

John Wesley was not a universalist at all.  He believed that God wanted to save all men but that some would not.  His concept of revenient grace allows man to respond to Him, but some will not.  He repeats this many times.  See my book: “John Wesley, Natural Man, and the Isms.”

[74] Posted by whoizme8 on 12-14-2009 at 07:04 AM • top

#75 that’s what I figured, thanks. The gay activists are very fond of posthumously recruiting people into their ranks. I wish we could be above such dishonesty.

[75] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 12-14-2009 at 12:19 PM • top

#75 - I think you meant, ‘prevenient grace’ (as a former Methodist and Walk to Emmaus pilgrim)

[76] Posted by Floridian on 12-14-2009 at 12:28 PM • top

You are absolutely correct.  It is prevenient grace or preventing grace.  Wesley used both.  Sorry for the misspelling.

[77] Posted by whoizme8 on 12-14-2009 at 01:32 PM • top

I have been collecting copies of some the Presiding Bishop’s sermons, interviews and writings and this leads me to conclude that even though she claims to be a Christian, the theology she teaches openly contradicts the Christian theology expressed in the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. She very carefully refrains from expressing any belief that either Catholic or Protestants would recognize as Christian and this is why I can’t help but conclude that she is not a Christian and her teachings are not Christian, they undercut our church at it’s basic foundational roots. 
It would be helpful if the Presiding Bishop’s sermons, interviews and pronouncements were assembled in one place as a resource for writers and church members because it is difficult to communicate her radical departure from Christianity to other Episcopalians without referring to her words to back to these arguments.

[78] Posted by Betty See on 10-21-2011 at 12:50 PM • top

Typographical error - Last words should have been: back up these arguments.

[79] Posted by Betty See on 10-21-2011 at 01:06 PM • top

Serious question and I hope this is not too far off topic. Following Stand Firm since almost the beginning, and reading most of the blogs, and constantly seeing the torment, frustration, discouragement, etc. Episcopalians suffer or put themselves through, why would any orthodox believing Christian stay in TEC?  I too want liturgical worship, but for exposition of the word and a truly believing community, even liturgical worship can be given up. Fortunately here, after I absolutely needed to leave TEC, a home worship stated among many, which then grew into a full time ACNA church.

[80] Posted by DaveB in VT on 10-21-2011 at 04:16 PM • top

Great idea Betty See.  I would help if I could but hopefully someone will take up your idea.

[81] Posted by Nikolaus on 10-21-2011 at 05:12 PM • top

#80 - DaveB in VT.  You ask why would any orthodox believing Christian stay in TEC.  One, because God asks for us L2 to.  Secondly, remember the wheat and the tares.  While we humans do see plenty of tares in TEC, in God’s eyes, there is still much wheat in TEC.  There is still work to do. 

That you have been called elsewhere is OK.  Some of us haven’t.  Or yet.  Pray that those called to remain are protected and carry God’s message to where He chooses. Had the priviledge of witnessing to someone who may never be a member of TEC, but it was through our church the contact was made. Three shafts of wheat are precious to God.  If we had left, that family would not have been touched.  That’s why we stay.

[82] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 10-23-2011 at 12:00 PM • top

Sorry, I submitted before I proofed.

Wheat tares and the chaff.  We humans see the chaff, while God sees the tares/shafts of wheat.

[83] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 10-23-2011 at 12:09 PM • top

I miss The Snarkster.  His first comments have proven to be very prophetic. Thought so at the time, but seeing them proved out…chills the spine.

[84] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 10-23-2011 at 12:11 PM • top

I was raised in PECUSA. After 1977, my parents decided to leave. My mom and I were part of a continuing church parish that met in our home for awhile and then at a local synagogue. Why do I stay? Good question.  My quick answer is that I have prayed about it and what came to me is that I will stay as long as I am led to a faithful, orthodox parish somewhere. So right now in the Diocese of SC, I am happy in my parish and very happy to be part of this diocese.  Can’t predict what may happen in the future….

[85] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 10-23-2011 at 03:30 PM • top

I noticed a few things here that I didn’t notice reading it the first time in 2006 (perhaps I’m older and wiser, perhaps I’m just seeing more jade than red this time around):

On point 1,

As a recovering alcoholic I can tell you the horrible error in the “it must be good because I was born this way” line of thinking. I was born with strong desires that were to a certain extent genetically predetermined. Does that make them good for me? Does that make them pleasing to God? To follow this Pelagian logic as applied to homosexuality, in order for me to be a happy and fulfilled person I must be free to fulfill the strong, inborn desires of my nature. I can tell you from painful experience that this way leads to many things but happiness is not one of them.

Homosexual activists would maintain that the pain and depression of the homosexual comes from prejudice and a lack of acceptance from society. I can’t speak to that but I can tell you that for me to live in a society that accepts and supports my natural desires and encourages me to “live into” them would be a death sentence. True love does not necessarily mean affirming a person’s innate desires, and often that is the worst thing you can do for someone.

Obviously homosexuality and alcoholism are not one and the same thing (though I would maintain that they are both results of the way in which human nature after the Fall twists a desire for the good things of God into evil, sin, and death), but once one has conceded that one natural, inborn desire can be bad, than it follows that any natural, inborn desire can be bad. At that point revisionists must offer some argument for homosexual desire being a good thing other than the mere fact of its existence.

On point 3,

++KJS’s famous “awfully small box” comment, over and above an extremely presumptuous application of the word “we”, displays an extremely deficient theology of the Trinity (probably also a Christological deficiency regarding the divinity of Christ, but through the principle of charity I will not read more into her words that she actually says).

If one holds in mind the doctrine that Jesus is the fully divine and coequal second person of the Trinity, and moreover his nature as the divine Logos of God, than the problem with this statement becomes clear. If one holds a set of beliefs about God and Christ like Adoptionism or Subordinationism, than easily God could accomplish something through Jesus and then also accomplish something not through Jesus. But if one holds the orthodox understanding of God as three persons, coequal, coeternal, and indivisible, than the idea of God doing something any way other than through Christ become patently ridiculous (cf. John 1:3 “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”)

[86] Posted by Ecclesiastes 1:18 on 10-24-2011 at 09:17 AM • top

In both cases Shori and Spong are denying the diety of Christ.  RECOMMENDATION - read the Gospel of John in Holy Scripture in one sitting.  You won’t believe how many times and in how many ways Jesus states that He is the Son of God. 

The only question remains is do you or do you not believe Him?  Only God knows their hearts, but I don’t see how Spong or Shori believe that Christ is the Son of God, given some of their writings and interview answers.  Niether should be in leadership positions in TEC, that’s for certain.

[87] Posted by B. Hunter on 10-24-2011 at 04:32 PM • top

Three of my four sisters are stuck inside this cult called TEC.  If I sat them down and talked calmly through this list with them, I would only get blank stares in return.

[88] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 10-24-2011 at 07:01 PM • top

Thank you for your scholarship, which helps me to put a clearer eye on what aches in TEC’s new christianity.

And what a pleasure to find the always extraordinary Jil Woodliff, one of my heroes.  One of many SFIF fine and precise contributors.  utmost

[89] Posted by utmost on 10-31-2011 at 01:17 AM • top

Will Stand Firm ever again have anything on its homepage except Mrs. Schori’s heresies?

Neither she nor anything about the Episcopal “Church” deserves any attention at all, much less this much.

Stand Firm should be declaring great information about worldwide Anglican Christianity generally and about the Anglican Church in North America specifically.

Those who cannot adjust to Anglican Christianity or accept it positively should present their comments elsewhere.

We must grow beyond constant disputation and confrontation.

Jesus would have it so and would have us pursue those activities and thoughts that serve and further the honor and glory of our God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

[90] Posted by Stan Nelson on 06-06-2012 at 08:51 AM • top

I’m just a Plagiarist.

[91] Posted by Lars on 07-04-2012 at 06:26 PM • top

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