In conversations with liberal laity and clergy about the candidates for the next bishop of Upper South Carolina, I encountered a number of prejudices and fears. Most of these were off the cuff, unofficial, and even non-verbal or unspoken. I have been bothered by this, but I have been hesitant to put it in words because I don't see the world in their way, and I would rather attempt to heal their prejudice than simply criticise them. In general, the persons I am referring to are revisionists although some are moderates. To be fair, there are things that frighten the orthodox, the reasserters, the conservatives, and should frighten the moderates, but that might be subject for another post.
Dad used to say that the root of all of the world's problems could be found in the front pocket of a man's pants. There, the hand could find money (change), car keys, and, well in this analogy let's simply say, sexual issues.
This one might sound crazy, but revisionists, once firmly ensconced in a parish, in a vestry, or in any position of power, are afraid of change. I know, these people in general are considered to be open to change, but they are not open to any change in a conservative direction.
Why do they fear change? I think it is because of the inherent weakness of their theology. Remember that the "shellfish argument" and "the Church was wrong about slavery" argument as the best arguments most can raise regarding "The Issue." Logical argument is an obstacle to them because the final conclusion would require them to change what to them was conclusively apparent through the use of the illogical and the non-scriptural, their "feelings" as their foundation.
The other thing that change refers to is "spare change" or money. To revisionist clergy in a revisionist national church, there is always present the possibility of advancement to bishop, or even to presiding bishop. There is probably little hope of advancement of the liberal clergyman in a conservative diocese, and the election of a conservative bishop would reduce these clergy's chances for "advancement."
This relates to power or the loss thereof. Intoxicated by power, revisionists will not listen to the very thing they believe led to their current position, and that is "Reason." Reason should tell them that their ideas do not spread the Gospel, do not build up the body of Christ, and lead to a falling membership and degradation of the "brand" name "Episcopal." Why on Earth revisionists fail to acknowledge the failures of their time in positions in power is beyond reason and can only be attributed to intoxication. These revisionists, drunk with power, refuse to give up their keys and thereby commit their church to its own death by DUI.
This should be obvious, but a little exposition might be helpful.
One, the revisionist clergy honestly believes that 2000 years of understanding of the apostolic teachings of the church are flat out wrong. If an orthodox bishop were to put the kibosh on the revisionist agenda of re-writing the Gospel message, the revisionists would be put in a position of being opposed to their bishop. This would make these foundationless preachers very uncomfortable, and they might have to consider moving to another diocese. That would interact with monetary issues already commented upon.
Two, some clergy might be involved in same sex relationships, might have youth ministers whose "lifestyle" present a danger to the youth, or they themselves might have sexual relationships outside of marriage, and would have to face the music under a more conservative headmaster.
There are other fears to be sure. I will briefly mention a prejudice or two that I have encountered.
One is the prejudice of "Evangelicalism." This came up when someone commented that one of the nominees for bishop was "Too Baptist." I was shocked by the comment. Having attended various services of Baptists in the past, I don't understand the fear. For one thing, the candidate so named is clearly Anglican in calling. For another, I think the insinuation is that anyone who even mentions the word "Bible" can be cast out of consideration for bishop as "too Baptist."
The other prejudice is the label of "orthodox" or "conservative." How this has become a negative stereotype is beyond my pay grade, but suffice it to say, the stereotype is cast, and the revisionist cannot see beyond the stereotype. Again, an "idée fixe" is unbecoming of a true liberal.
So what do revisionists fear?
They fear the loss of their jobs, a loss of power, a failure of their sexual liberation, and the humbling of their prejudiced natures.
I admit that this exposition is a bit above my pay grade, and I do not know how to heal the broken revisionist. I pray that they might abandon their agendas, and turn back to their first love: the love they experienced when they first accepted Christ as their personal Saviour and the Bible as containing within it everything they needed for salvation.
If there is anything any of us need to fear in the upcoming election of a new bishop, it is the fear of the ramifications upon the souls of others. A terrible responsibility indeed.