Sunday, January 24, 2016

One Body? False Teachers on Parade: Walking in an Episcopal Wonderland

Today's reading from 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 in which Paul describes the body's need for many various parts will probably be used in many a sermon to try to reassure the pewsitters that they are still an essential part of the world wide Anglican Communion, but the fact of the matter is that the Episcopal church has decided to walk apart from scripture in regards to human sexuality and the majority of the rest of the Anglican Communion have told them so.

I can hear it now,
"Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body." So too in the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal church's view on marriage on the one hand, and the rest of the world on the other. The whole cannot exist without both parts.

If your right hand is gangrenous, better to amputate than to let the poison spread to the rest of the body.

For the past couple of weeks, responses from Episcopal bishops to the recent "suspension" of the Episcopal church have been rolling in. These have been gathered by "Anglican Ink", and you can read them all for yourselves, but the site is a bit unwieldy, so I will summarize them below and provide links to the specific pages.

I actually had to stop before compiling all of the links because doing so was starting to affect me spiritually much in the same way that one of my friends was affected by a research project she was engaged in when we were in school. She was tasked with studying hundreds of suicide notes from successful suicides, and after the first two hundred, she could not keep from laughing uncontrollably when she saw the same protests and similar claims of being hurt in letter after letter after letter.

You might think that was cruel, but read them and weep, or laugh if they get to you too,

Bishop of El Camino Real: Totally unrepentant and has the nerve to say this,
"On the one hand as a Bishop of the church, I am part of the problem for your provinces, and I ask your forgiveness; on the other hand, I do not regret my inclusive stance and votes at our General Convention."
What would Paul have to say about those two hands?

Bishop of Nevada : We got away with the Gene Robinson thing, and we'll get away with this.
"If being excluded from committees for three years is the price we have to pay for full inclusion of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, it is a price I would pay many times over."
Bishop of Minnesota:  Cultural relativism on display.
"Being part of the Anglican Communion is very much like being part of a neighborhood or a community. There are a great number of things, including shared history, that bind us together. Yet, each home in that neighborhood is inhabited by unique individuals with their own contextual family set of norms and values. When we run up against these, for instance: a kid playing in my yard without supervision at a time when I believe they should be in bed, it is not only challenging, but from my perspective, wrong. However, it is clearly acceptable to that family."
Bishop of Alaska: We are still a part of the Anglican Communion!
"The decision by the Primates (carefully couched in the context of the Institutional Church) does not break apart our relationship in the Anglican Communion..."
Bishop of Iowa:  There are Parts of Romans I will quote, but there are parts that I won't.
"In fact I read somewhere (Romans 8:38-39) that "neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor heights, nor depth, nor anything in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." After all it is God's love that binds."
 Bishop of Colorado: This is not punishment, it is a step onto a new path of being in communion,
"This really is the invitation that has come out of the Primates meeting: to 'walk together in the grace and love of Christ-while faithfully and prayerfully recognizing our differences.'" 
Bishop of Southern Ohio:  It is a sad misunderstanding,
"I am saddened by the Anglican Primates' decision to discipline the Episcopal Church owing to the disparity in our understanding of marriage."
Bishop of Maine: Message from the bridge from the Captain of the Titanic,
 "I want to be clear that nothing has changed in either The Episcopal Church or the Diocese of Maine. LGBT persons are full members of the body of Christ and full members of The Episcopal Church. We will uphold marriage equality here and throughout The Episcopal Church." 
Bishop of Los Angeles:  Its those evil homophobic Africans who need to repent!
"We in the Diocese of Los Angeles remain in strengthened solidarity with LGBT sisters and brothers around the globe, especially those whose lives are endangered daily by draconian laws that fail to respect the dignity of every person as we live together in diverse cultures and sexual orientations as people created in God’s own image."
Bishop of Montana:  Ignorant savages, bullies, haters! How dare they do this to the prophets of God! Let me quote Paul... (yes another one),
"It may well be true that what we have done departs from the doctrine of other churches, but it would be more accurate to say that it is a departure from the beliefs of the bishops present."
"The primates are acting like prelates in the pejorative sense of that word. Or, more bluntly, they are trying to bully TEC, and are thereby indulging in the worst kind of clerical arrogance."
 "This hardly comports with the description of love in I Corinthians 13 nor with the Pauline command to forbear with one another." 
 "I wonder who is being punished by this high-handed action. The rest of the communion will now not have benefit of the considerable talents of the TEC."
 "Finally, I believe that history will look favorably on TEC. We have taken what I believe is the course of action that accords with scripture, tradition and reason. I wonder what the primates will do when other provinces of the communion follow our lead, as some surely will. My prediction: no time-out for them."
Let me pause for a second because I am rolling on the floor and laughing out loud over the Bishop of Montana's self-righteous indignation.

Bishop of Utah: We will not repent!
"We were inclusive about marriage equality before today. We still are."
Bishop of Arizona: They have no right to do this, stick to your guns!
"We are not backing down from full inclusion of all. Oddly, we have been asked to not participate in policy decisions by a group that has no authority to make such decisions in the first place!"
Bishop of Indianapolis: More cultural relativism with a dash of persecution complex thrown in,
That we occupy a place which others around the world cannot embrace should not surprise us. We are equally incapable of embracing the cultures and contexts of others. 
"Suggestions that scripture may actually be challenging the status quo, or that prior interpretations were inaccurate or incomplete, has often been met with both heated denial and violent repudiation. The persecutions of Galileo and Copernicus come to mind…."
Bishop of Western North Carolina: We have found the Promised Land, and we ain't going nowhere!
"We the Episcopal Church have crossed the river by opening marriage to all persons. We may change the liturgies and we might tinker with the stipulations, but we won’t change our minds. We are who we are and they are who they are."
Bishop of West Tennessee:  We the people are visionaries; those Primates are just "management" getting in our way,
"Ideals drive us forward.  Management, while important for order, often keeps us tied to a past that is no longer what is needed for the times in which we now live.  To 'choose for ideals at every turn' reminds me that I am to be driven by that which is 'good news for all people.'”  
Bishop of West Mizzou: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,
"So, I don’t foresee this having much impact where the rubber hits the road for The Diocese of West Missouri."

Bishop of Southern Virginia: Can you believe they did this to our new P.B.?
 "I'm particularly disappointed that our new Presiding Bishop, who was present at the meeting, was forced to endure what was most certainly a difficult and painful experience."
Bishop of Rochester (NY): A contextual martyr,
 "If the cost of upholding human personality is a sanctionable offence then I am happy to be part of a faith community that is deemed guilty of such an offence.  While our unity is in Christ our differences also are in understanding the love of Christ.  I pray that our unity thrives even while our differences are authentically contextual."
Bishop of Central New York:   I will apologize, not to the Anglican Communion but instead to the LGBTQ!
"In my perspective, however, the Primate’s decision to censure The Episcopal Church compounds the pain of discrimination that LGBTQ people have suffered over the centuries and continue to suffer as a result of Church policy.  For that pain I am deeply sorry, and as a Bishop of the Church I apologize to all LGBTQ people, especially those of this Diocese." 
Bishop of Wyoming:  We are so far removed that these things don't matter.
"Ministry is essentially local. These decisions do not impact the life and ministry of the Diocese of Wyoming. Our ministry will carry on as we seek to continue to present Christ in each of our communities, throughout the state, the nation and even the world."
Bishop of Oregon: Reprise: We believe what Paul said in Galatians, but we don't believe him in Romans 1.
"While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: 'All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ.'”
Bishop of Spokane: In your face!
"I can assure you that the very recent decision to suspend The Episcopal Church will have no direct impact on the policies and practices regarding marriage in this diocese.  We will continue to make the Celebration and Blessing of Marriage available in a fully inclusive and equal manner as authorized by the canons of The Episcopal Church."

Bishops of Connecticut: No repentance here,
 "The Episcopal Church is deeply committed to the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the life of our church and we affirm the dignity of every human being created in the image of God. In Connecticut, we are fully supportive and stand behind the positions taken by The Episcopal Church with respect to LGBT sisters and brothers."
Bishop of Rhode Island: Feeling rejected,
"When someone rejects you for doing what you prayerfully discern to be the right thing to do, the Bible teaches us that we are to respond in love, by staying in relationship, doing what we can to show God’s love to those who are rejecting us."
 Bishop of New Jersey: Shoot the messenger,
In the communique the Primates “condemned homophobic prejudice and violence” and expressed their resolve to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation.” They have made similar statements before. Despite these statements, the conversation about LGBT persons in the church is often hostile and hurtful. Draconian laws in parts of the world foster an environment in which our LGBT brothers and sisters are frequently harassed and persecuted, leading to violence, imprisonment, brutality and sometimes death. Sadly, some Primates and other church leaders in these regions have been vocal in their support of harsh laws and policies against gay and lesbian persons.
Once more, it appears the Primates’ Meeting makes statements of care and support on the one hand, while punishing The Episcopal Church on the other. It obscures widespread oppression and persecution of gay and lesbian persons and the violence done against them around the world with a concern about “unilateral actions on a matter of doctrine without Catholic unity.” I find this incompatible with the baptismal demands that we “seek and serve Christ in all persons loving our neighbor as our self” and that we “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.”
Bishop of Vermont: I just don't understand...
"As a bishop in the Episcopal Church who has worked hard to provide full access to marriage for all, while at the same time doing all I can to maintain good collegial relations with those bishops, and others, who disagree with the recent decisions of our General Convention regarding marriage, I find myself puzzled by the inability or unwillingness of the majority of Primates to find a better way to be in relationship."

Bishop of Chicago: I will continue to discriminate against polygamists.
 "As your bishop and as a Christian, I believe that the faithful, loving, and lifelong union of two persons–of the same sex or of opposite sexes–is capable of signifying the never failing love of God in Christ for the church and the world, and nothing that happens in a meeting or anywhere else will ever change that."

My diagnosis: Nothing will change the path that these bishops have chosen to lead their flocks down. It is a wayward path, one that is far from the straight and narrow way prescribed by Jesus and the Apostles. It is a way that leads to sickness and death.

My recommendation to the rest of the Anglican Communion?



  1. "On the one hand as a Bishop of the church, I am part of the problem for your provinces, and I ask your forgiveness" Part two of the comment pretty much indicates that she does not really see herself as part of the problem, that she is not repentant and that she is not in need of forgiveness. This is part of the 'You can have your cake and eat it too' gospel of TEc. They believe God loves you just the way you are because he made you that way. Don't change. Sanctification is brought about by social activism, inclusiveness and self love.