Sunday, November 20, 2011

How Not to Determine What is Morally Good

I was considering that question when today's Gospel reading from Matthew 25:31-46 came up and the answer seemed clear, at least to me.
31 ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
God is the ultimate judge of righteousness. He alone determines who is to be one of the sheep at the right hand and who will be the goats on the left. He holds what is morally good, but when I encounter moral questions in this life, where should I look for the answers?
 I know the following quotation is taken out of context, but can you speculate as to the source of the following conclusion?

"...what is morally good -- that is something that must instead be determined by the community's wider values."*

I would guess a moral relativist, or a maybe a secular humanist, or perhaps an atheist. It could not have come from a Christian...right?


I was shocked when I considered the source, and the fact that this was posted on the Episcopal News Service.

I must have been under the mistaken impression that I should be looking to Christ to help point the way to Goodness, to Truth.

I guess I was wrong.

In the future, when confronted with a moral question, I will conduct a poll, or maybe I will hold a convention and vote on a resolution of the community. Isn't that how the Epsicopal church determines the will of God?

After all, no community has ever opted for immorality before, have they?

*Ask for the Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk bishop of the Diocese of New York. 

h/t T19


  1. Anonymous11:38 PM

    As a member of a church currently belonging to the Diocese of South Carolina, I am interested to read the discourse between an Episcopalian in the upstate and the NEC.

    Several years ago, you commented on an article by Francis W. Read, "How Episcopalians were Deceived".

    I believe the behavior of the NEC is coming to pass IN SPITE of the efforts of Dr. Shepherd and the Standing Liturgical Committee, rather than as a result of their 'deception'.

    The following are Dr. Shepherd's words:

    1)Jesus Christ is Lord;loyalty to him must transcend all other loyalties;

    2)the church is the earnestness of his kingdom; through the Holy Spirit, Christians are to seek to realize on earth what they will be when Christ appears in glory;

    3)the eucharist is the great action of the church; it is both the pleading of and the showing forth here and now the accomplished act of redemption.

    The intent of the SLC was to create worship that was centered around the Holy Eucharist.

    This Eucharist centered worship came to fruition with the 1979 Prayer Book.

    The priests in AP and on the SLC created an true orthodox movement within the Episcopal Church.

    The NEC seems to be trying to "please all of the the people all of the time": they have become a political organization rather than "the Church,the earnestness of His Kingdom".

    As Christ taught us, we can only serve one master.

    "We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us;
    but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood" (1 John 4:6)

    The above passage is my answer to your question today about how you could get such an 'insane' sic response from an 'Episcopal' priest.

    God Bless you; keep on writing, and asking the hard questions.

    Charleston, SC
    November 2011

  2. I think that questions are answered by reference to the Word and by the Holy Spirit living in us. The problem is, as your cited quote points out, sometimes we don't like the answer we get and therefore, must look for some human "consensus" for validation and ultimately, to assuage our guilt.

    Therein, lies madness, of course, as the goats ultimately discover.


  3. Maranatha,

    It turned out to be an appropriate question for a Christ the King Sunday.

    The 1979 BCP is held by some to be one cause of the decline of the denomination, but the decline began before that BCP was finalized, so the 1979 BCP is jsut another symptom of an underlying process. As I recall, the hope at the time was that, with modern language and increased liturgical options, the 1979 BCP would please more of the people more of the time, halt the decline, and bring more young people into the church.

    To look at the numbers, in the U.S., moral relativism continues to gain ground vs. the message of scripture that Christ is King. That message is not getting transmitted to the next generation as it should. Either the BCP revisions failed, or we the church failed, or a combination of the two have failed.

    We continue to keep DSC in our prayers, maranatha.

  4. Maranatha12:17 AM

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom with all of us.
    Having your column to read is very helpful.
    Thank you for taking the time to write it.
    I have read some recent statistics on a link from your site that say that our Diocese, of South Carolina, is now flourishing relative to the NEC.(and it's other eight districts)
    Attendance at a certain familiar looking white steepled church in downtown Charleston requires that I get to church early in order to find a pew and we have at least three services on Sundays.
    Many people in the Holy City attend churches of all denomiations, and there are babies in our pews as well as 90 year olds.
    We had an Anglican Bishop of Pakastani descent come and speak on Islam last week. He packed the house for three nights.
    My point is this: a butterfly flaps its wings off the coast of Africa, and perhaps we get a Category 5 Hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.
    Why don't we as Christians flap our Butterfly Wings and spread a Category 5 Hurricane of Peace and Goodwill among men by sharing all of our wonderful stories about God in our lives both general and personal?
    In showing those who read your comments about the power of Christ, and what happens when you live in His redemption the world can be viewed as Christ's kingdom on earth now and we get a little taste of what is to come!
    May the Lord Bless you and keep you,
    November 27,2011

  5. Maranatha,

    Thanks, your wing flapping is a good start. That's why I'll keep tilting at windmills.

  6. Maranatha11:28 PM

    Dearest Pewster,
    Angels, not butterflys, are flapping their wings as our Bishop Mark Lawrence has prevailed.

    As many of us in the Diocese of South Carolina believe the way to effect change is from within the church, this is wonderful news.

    Maybe this is only the eye of the storm...or the calm before...

    Thank you,

  7. Maranatha, Thanks be to God maybe there is a sanctuary.