Not content with the "Crosswalk" as its sole source of misinformation, the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina (EDUSC) is now using its electronic mouthpiece, the e-DUSC, to turn up the heat on conservatives. What do I mean? First look at the lead page. Highlighted and in headline position is,
A sermon by the Rev. Furman Buchanan about what the life of a former SC bishop has to say about the upcoming episcopal election
I am getting tired of reading sermons, but felt it was my duty to suffer through this one in order to see what the Diocesan House wants us lowly pewsters to hear to guide us in the difficult task of choosing a bishop.
Let's take a look at this sermon. Buchanan starts with words that should pique the ears of any sharp eared pewsitter,
"We just heard what St. Paul wrote to the Ephesian congregation, 'Pray for me…to make known the boldness and mystery of the gospel…pray that I may declare it boldly…'"
I think that is from Ephesians 6. You remember that chapter that no one trusts anymore because of all that nonsense about slaves obeying their masters.
"When the air is thick with controversy, and there is deep tension and strife, when people are confused or abandoning ship, it is just plain common sense not to preach too boldly. In the life of the Church, or of a diocese, or of a congregation, these are the times when it is just plain common sense to avoid 'rocking the boat.' "
When a liberal preacher starts out this way, he is gearing up to "rock the boat."
"What would Jesus do? One of my teachers put it this way: 'Jesus was in the middle of everything but the road!'"
Is he going to attack the Via-Media folks? No way. Read on,
"I want you to notice what has happened in the story according to John’s Gospel that we have been hearing for the past month. In a lovely, green, grassy field by the sea; five thousand people gathered to see what Jesus was all about, and they ended up having an incredible picnic—a sort of holy communion on the hillside.
Jesus slipped away in the night, along with his closest friends; but the crowds came after them. They greeted Jesus, but he challenged their motivation for coming; and then he preached boldly, 'I AM the bread of life!'
You can guess what happened next. The religious folks in the crowd began to complain. (This is what we 'religious folks' do when we get offended.)
But what did Jesus do? He preached even more boldly, he kept on rocking the boat by saying, 'Your ancestors ate the manna …and they died. I am the living bread. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.'
There was even more confusion, tension and disagreement in the crowd. This is when good common sense should’ve kicked in. It is not hard to imagine one of the disciples—someone like you or me—pulling Jesus aside and saying, 'Let’s adjourn debate on this whole “bread of life” thing for the day. It’s not polling well in the crowd. Your numbers are dropping. Let’s sleep on it, and start fresh in the morning.'
But what did Jesus do? He preached even more boldly, he kicked it up another notch by saying, 'Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life…' I remind you that Jesus is speaking to people who observed unbelievably strict dietary laws. He just said the most offensive thing imaginable. Flesh-eating and blooddrinking were just too much for the crowd to stomach."
I think he must be talking about traditionalists/orthodox/conservatives! Yes, that must be it.
"John records that the congregation declined from 5000 to 12. And so Jesus asked the twelve, 'Do you also wish to go away?'
I want you to consider what it would be like to serve on a vestry for a congregation that experienced a similar, breath-taking drop in numbers. What would you say to a preacher like Jesus?"
Could he be drawing a parallel to his own ministry? I don't know how long he has been at St. Martins in Columbia, but the growth and development charts from the Episcopal church pages show a membership of greater than 1000 in 2002 dropping to about 650 in 2008.
UPDATE: I received word from an anonymous commenter that most of the decline was during the tenure of another rector. I hear that one got promoted to canon of the Ordinary.
(A note to the uninitiated, the liberal preacher is quite happy with the departure of those annoying conservatives. It is amusing to watch this one use scripture to justify the shrinking Episcopal church, I don't think I have seen this before although I have heard the quality over quantity argument in the past.)
I would feel right at home in this congregation.
"Now imagine standing in the pulpit of that same congregation trying to summon the courage to preach boldly.
What would you say to those who were leaving?
We would much rather hear some 'common sense' preaching, wouldn’t we? Maybe some helpful hints for happy living!
How do you think this would fly?
'Dear people of God, it is time we had a black bishop for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina!'
Does this sound too bold, given the tension that is already present in the Episcopal Church and in our nation?
Does it feel like I’m trying to rock the boat, when our diocesan numbers are declining?"
Oh, I see now. He is obviously going to show how the issues that he thinks are causing the current decline of the Episcopal church (same gender marriages and ordinations of openly gay, divorced men) should be declared boldly and openly because they are the equivalent of racism.
And don't you see, conservatives are racists and homophobes? He is not through and wants to pile it on with even worse associations. Let's see if you pick it up in the following interesting history lesson:
"Well, listen to another story about bold preaching that cuts very close to home.
On Christmas Eve of 1860, God was working yet another miracle inside a young woman whose name was Margaret. She was married to a preacher in Eastover, S.C. They were probably at Church, singing hymns about the Christ child, and dreaming about the child they were expecting. On Christmas Eve—of all days—our state government declared its intention to secede from the United States. It was the 'common sense thing to do' given the tension, strife and disagreement that was all around."
Okay, there are those common sense folks again, remember, this is code for "conservatives." This time he is equating them with secessionists.
"In 1861 the American Civil War began, Abraham Lincoln became President, and Margaret gave birth to William Alexander Guerry. Things were falling apart—Margaret died when William was just a boy. His father struggled to make ends meet. And his grandmother read to him on Sunday afternoons out of the Bible and the Prayer book. Many Episcopal Church leaders in the South wanted to secede from the Church during this time, much like the confederate states. Given the tension, disagreement and strife in the Episcopal Church back then, it was the 'common sense thing to do.'"
Here he uses repetition to emphasize the parallel he is trying to draw between the present day issues of the church and the issues of the 1860's.
"William graduated from high school in Charleston around the end of the Reconstruction Era. It was a time of great tension and uncertainty. He went to Sewanee on a scholarship, and not long after graduating from college decided that he was called to ordained ministry.6 There continued to be much volatility and fear within the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. For example, black clergy and lay persons from St. Mark’s in Charleston were rejected as delegates at the diocesan convention.
In 1888, William graduated from seminary and was ordained at Christ Church in Greenville. He served capably in a number of capacities in South Carolina and beyond during this tense and ambiguous period in the Episcopal Church in S.C. At one diocesan convention there was even a resolution to segregate the blacks into a distinct, and separate organization. In 1907, at Trinity Church (now Trinity Cathedral) in downtown Columbia, William Guerry was elected bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina. It was a time of tension and fear not unlike our own time. There was anxiety about a new scientific theory by Charles Darwin,"
Throwing in Darwin is another liberal tactic. It is commonly used to demonstrate the ignorance of traditionalists.
"strife about developing new liturgies for a new 1928 prayer book, tension about race relations, and fear about the economy and about war. And South Carolina Bishop William Alexander Guerry preached boldly about striving for unity, and not uniformity in the Church. He preached boldly that (quote) 'the Church should be broad enough to embrace within its communion…every living soul.'"
Code word warning: "Broad church" means embracing heterodoxy and bad mouthing orthodoxy.
He is trying to draw that parallel again because this is the same language liberals of today use to justify rejection of the Apostolic traditions.
"So now you know that roughly one hundred years ago, a man who grew up in Charleston, S.C., someone whose immediate relatives fought as Confederate Soldiers in the Civil War, someone who was educated at a college chartered to serve young white men from the south—this person stood up in the building we know as Trinity Cathedral in Columbia, S.C. and preached boldly when he said:
“Dear people of God, it is time we had a black bishop for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina!”
Bishop Guerry’s vision of the Church can be summarized in the opening sentences of what we proclaim at a Holy Baptism. There is One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. One God and Father of all. Bishop Guerry wanted all people, regardless of race, to be part of the community of Christ in the diocese, and he wanted a black Bishop Suffragan to work alongside him to build up the Body of Christ in this state."
Without a doubt, Bishop Guerry was bold, a martyr perhaps, and ahead of his time. So what happened to him?
"Bishop Guerry’s dream was never realized. And in 1928, a priest who passionately insisted on the principle of white supremacy walked into the bishop’s office in Charleston and shot him. He died several days later, as a martyr—a witness—for the faith. Bishop Guerry preached boldly, not only with his lips, but with his very life."
We should at this point thank Bishop Guerry for his sacrifice, but what does this have to do with the present issues of sexuality in the church? It is an old liberal argument that says, "The church got it wrong about Darwin, wrong about slavery, wrong about racism, and is wrong about human sexuality."
So why doesn't this preacher come out and boldly state what he believes? (In case you can't guess, he appears to believe in the ordination of non celibate homosexuals) Didn't he start out with, "Pray for me…to make known the boldness and mystery of the gospel…pray that I may declare it boldly…?" I think the only bold thing he did was to mention Lincoln's name in a Columbia South Carolina church.
Why does he instead openly and boldly paint a negative picture of traditional belief?
Because the liberal message does not work. It is ultimately a message of despair. After all, once you throw out all that sexual moralism, all that "Southern obsession with sin" (sorry for the quote from my rector), all that stuff about original sin and the sinful nature of man, and the liberal preacher is left with no explanation for why God became incarnate and died for us. Who needs Jesus, who needs the church? He will fight with his dying breath any attempts to get the congregation to study and appreciate doctrine and tradition, for he knows that once they do, they will be free of his control, they might challenge his personal agenda, and they might boldly turn "his" church on its head.
This preacher should be honest enough to admit that even his "common sense" and the ruling liberal thought in the Episcopal church might be in the wrong.
I can only conclude that his sermon points to his opinion that,
Conservatives/traditionalists = secessionists/racists/homophobes/the cause of all devisiveness/and...MURDERERS.
Okay, he didn't say it directly, but I think it is there, and I think it is a despicable use of the pulpit. This probably explains where all the people have gone.
He concludes with an appeal to God to keep those evil conservatives out of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina.
"I don’t know who the candidates for bishop will be when we gather at Trinity Cathedral this December, but I pray that they will be women and men who are eager to preach just this boldly with their lips and in their lives. I pray they will insist upon a diocese that is broad enough to embrace within its communion every living soul."
(More coded speech and another use of repetition to emphasize a point).
The next question that needs to be answered is this. Who in the diocesan house picked this particular sermon to promote as a "must read" before the bishop election?
If there was ever any doubt as to the leftward bias of the leadership in Columbia, the "Crosswalk" article praising Philip Linder+'s work at the General Convention 2009, and this e-Pravada recommended reading should be sufficient proof that a good old fashioned house cleaning is in order. Diocesan funds should not be used to promote this destructive liberal agenda.