Monday, October 26, 2009

Comparing the Upper South Carolina Bishop Nominees 1: The Reappraiser/Revisionist Question

In comparing the six nominees presented thus far, I believe that I need to first provide a definition (my own version).

Reappraiser: An individual who interprets scripture to fit a particular (usually novel and non-traditional) goal (usually social or political). This interpretation of scripture includes the freedom to ignore, or to consider unreliable or of historical interest only, those passages that might weaken their arguments. Also referred to as "Liberal."

Close kin is the "Revisionist" which according to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary comes from "revisionism:"
"1 : a movement in revolutionary Marxian socialism favoring an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary spirit
2 : advocacy of revision (as of a doctrine or policy or in historical analysis)"

Some consider the term "revisionist" to be derogatory, true revisionists consider it to be an honor, "Heroes of the Revolution" in their realm.

Their method of Biblical interpretation is the fundamental problem with the Episcopal church today. It allows for a re-writing of scripture to suit whatever cultural change is in the wind. I believe it was former Bishop Bennison who said something to the effect of, "the church wrote the Bible and could therefore re-write it." (I quoted David Virtue's article.) Ultimately this leads to a weakening of doctrine, and a weakening of the Body of Christ.

It is my belief that those who support the ordination of openly gay, divorced men and their elevation to bishop can only get there by the reappraiser/revisionist method.

Likewise, those who would support the Church creating a liturgy for the blessing of same sex sexual relationships can only get there by the reappraiser/revisionist method.

This is not to say that reappraisers/revisionists are bad people, but they do make bad bishops.

I refer to p 517 of the 1979 BCP and the examination of the candidate:
The Examination

"All now sit, except the bishop-elect, who stands facing the bishops. The Presiding Bishop addresses the bishop-elect

My brother, the people have chosen you and have affirmed their trust in you by acclaiming your election. A bishop in God's holy Church is called to be one with the apostles in proclaiming Christ's resurrection and interpreting the Gospel, and to testify to Christ's sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings.

You are called to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church; to celebrate and to provide for the administration of the sacraments of the New Covenant; to ordain priests and deacons and to join in ordaining bishops; and to be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ.

With your fellow bishops you will share in the leadership of the Church throughout the world. Your heritage is the faith of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and those of every generation who have looked to God in hope. Your joy will be to follow him who came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Are you persuaded that God has called you to the office of bishop?"

You will immediately notice that we have a problem when a reappraiser Presiding Bishop presumes to examine the reappraising candidate with these words. The reappraiser has broken from the teachings of the Apostles and their interpretation of the Gospels. The reappraiser has broken free from the heritage of the patriarchs, prophets, Apostles, and blessed martyrs. The reappraiser, having advanced into modernity, can look at those ancients as relics of history, and he can pick and choose from them as he pleases.

So comparisons should be made as to whether or not a candidate is a reappraiser.

After studying the nominees on this blog last week (scroll through the older posts if you missed them), it is clear to me that the following men clearly fall in the reappraiser camp.

Reappraiser 1. W. Andrew Waldo+ Trinity Episcopal Church Excelsior, Minnesota
He lands on this list by virtue of his statement that his "old friend and mentor" is Bishop Gene Robinson, and his sermon that was quoted in my previous post in which he said:
"I would say that we need to 'read, mark, learn and inwardly digest' scripture well and often enough to know the difference between biblical texts that convey essential, enduring truths, and biblical texts that are decidedly rooted in and have deep meaning only for a culture that is no longer in existence. In other words, some scripture texts are more important than others. Hardly anyone would, for example, suggest that the Song of Solomon is as important as Genesis or that Paul’s Letter to Philemon is as important as any of the four Gospels."
Likewise his responses to the question of same sex blessings:
"The answer here must follow from what I’ve said above: that because our Church is not of one mind on this issue we cannot act unilaterally, and I would not therefore sanction such blessings in the Diocese until we have, through General Convention, reached a decision. Even if/when that time comes, I believe that a priest and the congregation he or she serves should have the pastoral freedom to address such changes constructively over time."

No mention of scripture. He has thrown that out in typical reappraiser style and instead of referring back to what should be his guide, he will do what the infinitely wise General Convention decides.

His acceptance of communion of the unbaptized at his parish is an indicator of his acceptance of the revisionism of tradition.

Reappraiser 2. Philip Linder+ Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Columbia, South Carolina
Without a doubt Linder has succumbed to the reappraisers siren song. As my earlier post comments, he supports the ordination of openly homosexual persons in defiance of all tradition and scripture. In addition to his having "had a hand in crafting the controversial resolution D025," we saw earlier in 2006 in an article he wrote in "The State" newspaper,
"What is at stake here is the very soul of the Episcopal Church and Anglicanism. Our Anglican theology and heritage has held for centuries against radical liberalism or radical conservatism, maintaining that God’s truth is to be ultimately found in the tension of those extremes, and not in the extremes themselves. Today, human sexuality has become the front where those seeking to undermine Anglican identity for their definition of truth are waging the battle.

The extreme conservatives claim it is about biblical truth and homosexuality. Yet is it not also
about the role and place of women in the church? How have these same conservatives reconciled biblical literalism with passages on divorce, tithing and working against the unity of Christ’s church?

On the other side, the extreme liberals keep pushing the envelope of human sexuality further. It is now not just about gays and lesbians, it is also about bisexuals and transgender persons. Are they asking the church to argue that God creates people as bisexuals as well as of the incorrect sex?

True Anglicanism holds to the authority of scripture, tradition and reason."

I think he believes he is a moderate, but his actions at GC 2009 put him squarely in the "radical liberal" camp.

Reappraiser 3. David F.O. Thompson+ St. Bartholomew's Church North Augusta, South Carolina.
I believe he is also a reappraiser, on the basis of his responses to the search committee regarding same sex blessings:
"...we in Upper SC should follow"
...the lead of the General Convention.
" ...With regard to sexual orientation my personal opinion is this. Based upon my understanding of scientific and psychological evidence and upon personal experience, I do not believe that anyone chooses his/her sexuality. I believe that eventually a same gender blessing will be passed by the General Convention and that the Diocese will have to deal with this reality..."

This response was crafted to try to hide his liberal views but exposes an indecisiveness by deferring to the uncannily brilliant GC of TEC.

Bottom line:
None of these three nominees are suitable to be a bishop based on the reappraiser/revisionist question.

The problem is, that people will see them as "nice" men, and not see the potential for harm from their unsure foundation.

As a result of their reappraiser status, they would take our church away from the traditional understanding of what the Bible advises us to look for in a leader of the church, and away from traditional understanding of marriage. They may sound like they mean well, but their leadership, or lack thereof, will invariably cause our diocesse to walk apart from Biblical truths and the rest of the Anglican Communion. None of these nominees are compatible with our profile as a diocese, where the overwhelming majority of people favor compliance with the Windsor process.

My next question is whether or not I should waste any more ink on them. I was wanting to delve into questions of evangelism, church growth, and winning souls for Christ, but I do not think these three nominees are capable of doing anything other than continuing the current ways of "being church" that have led to the decline of the Episcopal church in Upper South Carolina, Minnesota, and the United States.

I should probably move on to the more qualified candidates: Burwell+, Michell+, and Williams+.

Whatcha think?


  1. It's a start. Another good position for winnowing the revisionist chaff from the believing grain is the question of communicating the unbaptized. Do they do it, and will they enforce the prohibition? If the candidate starts waffling then the question becomes which rules get enforced and which ones do not.

  2. I don't think the walkabouts will allow for follow up questions. If any waffle, they reveal their true nature.

  3. Anonymous2:17 AM

    You're doing great.
    I wouldn't move on, however, until you have helped those of your readers from UpperSC who will be attending the Q&A sessions by offering a set of questions which will reveal in verbal answers that which you have already discovered in the written. The questions, in my opinion, should include not only basic biblical theology but also practical strategic answers to diocesan issues currently in need of such based on biblical precedents. These latter questions would then (theoretically) elicit answers further revealing reappraiser priorities and biblical mindset.

  4. Anonymous12:27 PM

    Pewster - I am shocked!

    - I can't believe you actually consider Burwell+ as a "more qualified" candidate!

    The EDSC just voted to take their toys and go home!

    If you condone the EDSC outlook on the current state of TEC by condoning Burwell+ then in actuallity you are saying that you hate the sin and the sinner.

    The Burwell+ video and written responses make it very obvious that he is not a viable candidate for Bishop of EDUSC - I, and many like minded friends, firmly believe that the Burwell+ video strongly indicates that he is only fit for Sunday morning evangelical TV programs!

    I am shocked that you would even consider him as a "more qualified" candidate.

    I happen to agree with you that the Dean of the Cathedral should have stayed out of the race once he resigned from it. I have a real problem with his "do over"!

  5. Anonymous1:05 PM

    Well I guess it all depends on what we are electing a bishop of DUSC to do?

    If we are electing a bishop that sees the diocese as a support for parishes and helping parishes grow then yeh . . . I think Burwell is pretty qualified for that. Anybody can see that by his parish work and the answers to questions about his view of the role of the diocese [to support parishes, not for the parishes to support the diocese].

    If we're not electing a bishop to do those things then no, Burwell isn't "qualified."

    I don't know how the lower diocese's decision to no longer participate in the bodies of TEC that are condoning and promoting heresy is somehow "hating the sinner." Refusing to enable dysfunction is not "hating the sinner." It's just not being an enabler.

    Watching with interest from the shores of the Broad River

  6. Anonymous10:04 PM

    Check again on your assessment of Waldo - he is NOT in favor of open communion - in fact, he's one of only a few voices in Minnesota against the practice (which I agree with you, is unacceptable.) See the paper here:

  7. I did check again and there is an addendum to that essay which you may not have turned up. It tells the story of how he "reluctantly" agreed to this.

    Since July 2008, they have printed
    and verbally invited people to communion in this way:

    "All who seek God and a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ are welcome to receive communion at
    Trinity Church."

    Their decision was a giving in to a liberal diocese and the larger Episcopal Church, including the Presiding Bishop.

    The Trinity Church vestry was reportedly strongly in favor of the change.

  8. Anonymous2:31 PM

    What is the link please to where he reluctantly agreed?

    Concerned in DUSC

  9. I cannot give you a link anon, but the documentation is safe here in the cave. I can say that it was from a source in the parish.

  10. Well accurate. I will be praying for y'all in Upper Diocese of SC....