The Buddhist bishop-elect of the Diocese of Northern Michigan, Kevin G. Thew Forrester (the “G” stands for “Genpo,” the name he took at his Buddhist lay ordination), has been busy issuing statements insisting he is not a Buddhist, despite years of studying and practicing it, despite his receiving of Zen Buddhist lay ordination, despite his taking the name “Genpo,” despite the seminars and retreats he’s conducted, the articles he’s written, his and his former bishop’s declarations that he “walks the path of Zen Buddhism and Christianity together,” and so on.
His denial of being a Buddhist, despite piles of evidence to the contrary, is only half of his new public-relations effort to obtain the necessary consents to his election from the House of Bishops and the diocesan standing committees. The other half is to convince enough voting bishops and committee members - that in addition to not being a Buddhist, he is also in fact a Christian. Neither assertion is very credible.
Up to now we’ve focused mainly on Forrester’s association with and practice of Zen Buddhism, and no reasonable survey of his history, writings or statements can support the conclusion that he is not, in fact, a Zen Buddhist.
But there has been some discussion among Episcopal “progressives” to the effect that, while Forrester may indeed “walk the path of Zen Buddhism,” that fact in and of itself is not reason enough to deny him consent as the next bishop of Northern Michigan. The “reasoning” goes that so long as Forrester is “sufficiently” Christian, that is enough. So now we turn to that question.
Below are the lines of the Nicene Creed, interspersed with various statements from articles and sermons written by, or signed onto by, Kevin Forrester. Our hope is that those readers so inclined might forward this information, along with any of the other article we’ve posted, to their bishop and standing committee members. The link for this article is:
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The research for this article was done by several members of the Stand Firm community. Thank you to everyone who contributed.
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
“One of the amazing insights I have found in the interfaith dialogue is that, no matter what you name that source, from which all life comes—you can name that source God, Abba; you may name that source Yahweh; you may name that source Allah; you may name that source “the great emptiness;” you can name that source many things, but what all the faiths in their wisdom have acknowledged in the interfaith dialogue is that, you and I, we’re not the source.” (Trinity Sunday sermon, May 18, 2008)
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God,
“Everyone is the sacred word of God, in whom Christ lives.” (Already One in God, response to Dar es Salaam communiqué, to which KTF is a signatory, The Church in Hiawathaland newsletter, Sept 2007)
“We affirm the sacramental gift of all persons, their Christ-ness…” (Already One in God, response to Dar es Salaam communiqué, to which KTF is a signatory, The Church in Hiawathaland newsletter, Sept 2007)
“In other words that we might learn to be still and know that we are in the presence of God. We might learn to be still and know that God is present in us and as us.” (Eucharist sermon, April 6, 2008)
begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven,
“I would ask us to explore that Jesus does not make us one with God. Jesus reveals, and this is incredible mystery, incredible good news—Jesus reveals to us, and it is why we say that he is the Messiah, he is an anointed one, he reveals to us that we are already at one with God - and why? Because God is always at one with us.” (Eucharist sermon, April 6, 2008)
“I see now a Jesus who does not raise the bar to salvation, but lowers it so far that it disappears.” (Finding a Place in East and West, The Church in Hiawathaland newsletter, July/August 2004)
and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man;
Presider: The fire of your Spirit kindled a love between Mary and Joseph; a fire that became the roaring flame of eternal compassion – the heart of Jesus.
Assembly: Here was a child, like all your children, woven into life by the Spirit. (Kindling the Ancient Fire, Sharing Stories of Life-Death-Rebirth, Receiving the Sacred Fruits of Earth, Easter Vigil booklet)
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;
“Here’s a man in the desert [Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness] talking to His own passions, and He says, ‘You know, I am none of those things. I will not identify with any of those things. I am the beloved. I am the beloved.’ And resurrection begins to happen. “(Easter sermon, March 23, 2008)
and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father;
“So, what does that mean? Well, we heard in the gospel today in Matthew that, for His community, Jesus says that all, what all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. That’s what we heard today, right? All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Well, we could slightly rephrase that and keep it, keep its true meaning, I think, if we would say: Jesus realized that all that He is, He had received from God. Jesus is the one that realized all He is, ‘all I am, I have received from God.’” (Trinity Sunday sermon, May 18, 2008)
and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
“And then Julian [of Norwich] says these words which perhaps are the most important for us when we are afraid and when we are angry: ‘For it was a great marvel constantly shown to the soul’ – her soul in all these revelations, her experiences of God ‘and the soul was contemplated with great diligence this, that our Lord God cannot in his own judgment forgive’ – let me read those words again – that God cannot in his own judgment forgive us because he cannot be angry, because God cannot be angry said Julian. This is the Gospel of John. That would be impossible for we are endlessly united to God in love and it is the most impossible thing which could be that God might be angry, for anger and friendship are opposed. That’s the Gospel of John, I’ve called you friends. (Pentecost 22 sermon, Oct 5, 2008 - download audio in MP3 format here)
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
“The Trinitarian structure of life is this: is that everything that is comes from the source. And you can name the source what you want to name the source. And our response to that is with hearts of gratitude and thanksgiving, to return everything back to that source, and there’s a spirit who enables that return. Everything comes from God. We give it back to God. And the spirit gives us the heart of gratitude. That is the Trinitarian nature of life.” (Trinity Sunday sermon, May 18, 2008)
And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
“We are the very enclosure of God. Why does God care for this vineyard that is you? Why does God care for the vineyard that is me? Why does God care for the vineyards of those who are Buddhists or Muslim or Hindu? Because God dwells in them and they dwell in God even when we don’t know it.” (Pentecost 22 sermon, Oct 5, 2008 - download audio in MP3 format here)
“We seek and serve Christ in all persons because all persons are the living Christ. Each and every human being, as a human being, is knit together in God’s Spirit, and thus an anointed one – Christ.” (Already One in God, response to Dar es Salaam communiqué, to which KTF is a signatory, The Church in Hiawathaland newsletter, Sept 2007)
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
“We do harmful and evil things to ourselves and one another, not because we are bad, but because we are blind to the beauty of creation and ourselves.” (Already One in God, response to Dar es Salaam communiqué, to which KTF is a signatory, The Church in Hiawathaland newsletter, Sept 2007)
and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.