Monday, July 28, 2008

Seeing the Whole Board

In a particularly fine episode of The West Wing (which, for the record, I still miss), President Bartlett is playing chess one evening with Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn while frequently stepping out of the room (Sam's office) to play "chicken" with China, which is gearing up for a military confrontation with a U.S. aircraft carrier off its coast. The chess match becomes a microcosm of the international crisis, and the discussion of one leads to a discussion of the other, and vice versa. The President's sage advice to his protégé is, "See the whole board. See the whole board." In other words, don't think simply in terms of your next move (and still less of merely reacting to the moves of your opponent). Think several moves ahead. And see the whole board.

It was an eventful day at the Lambeth Conference. In this final week, substantive issues are finally floating to the surface. The Windsor Continuation Group has released all sections of its report, and the bishops have had an opportunity to discuss it in what amounted to a plenary session (though I don't think that's what it was officially). It reaffirms earlier calls for moratoria on the consecration of non-celibate homosexual bishops and on the blessing of same-sex unions. The Episcopal Church has arguably already agreed to the former (B033 from GC '06). As to the latter, some (namely, the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates' Meeting, and, according to his remarks in an interview at the outset of the conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury) have contended that it was also agreed to at the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans last September. However, this interpretation has been expressly denied, many months ago by the Bishop of New Hampshire, and only today by the Bishops of California and Washington.

The proverbial other shoe, of course, is that those who have become involved in ad hoc episcopal oversight arrangements (let's call them the GAFCON Community) need to assume the "parade rest" position and stay there for a bit while the dust settles, then start thinking in terms of reconciliation with their proper geographic provinces—the implicit assumption, of course, being that these provinces will have committed themselves concretely to the other moratoria.

As a means of facilitating the implementation of this scheme (and I use the term in the non-pejorative British sense), two new bits of bureaucratic infrastructure are envisioned: a Faith and Order Commission, which will presumably be the arbiter of just where the theological boundaries of the Anglican big tent actually are, and a Pastoral Forum, which would effectively be a Court of Appeal which would assist (and I'm honestly not meaning to be cynical here) in the process of reconciling parishes and dioceses that are part of the GAFCON Community with their respective provinces by creating what has been likened to an "escrow," a sort of holding tank for these entities to live and move and have their being while everything is being sorted out.

And while this is all taking place, the Anglican Covenant would be developed and adopted, and thus provide the context and framework in which everything can play out safely.

This is a broad stroke summary, I realize, but ... hey … anyone reading this blog has probably already digested the primary sources anyway, right??!!

Well, response from the left—which is to say the mainstream of the Episcopal Church—has been swift and predictably adverse. I could have told you that without even reading any of the responses, but, in fact, I have—on blogs, on the HoB/D, and from some of the American bishops themselves. Response from the right, particularly the "GAFCON Community" right, has ranged from immediate howls of ridicule to cautious appreciation for the content of the proposals clothed in deep skepticism about their implementation.

Nobody in Canterbury, or anywhere else in the Anglican world, is seeking my advice tonight. For pretty much precisely that reason, I'm going to give it anyway. Not so much to my friends who hold what they believe are "inclusive" and "progressive" positions—I cannot presume to advise my worthy opponents—but to my GAFCON friends, whom I esteem even as I do not share some of their perceptions. And my advice is this: See the whole board. See the whole board.

Rather than indulging in dismissive reactivity, look a few moves ahead. Let's assume, for the moment, that the Lambeth Conference formally approves and commends something that looks pretty much like the Windsor Continuation Group's proposals. (I don't know whether it's safe to assume that or not, though I hope it is.) It would mean that there would be great pressure on Fort Worth and Pittsburgh to hold back from pulling the trigger on their separation from the Episcopal Church as they commit themselves to the care of the Pastoral Forum and allow the process to work itself out. That will sting, and will require some maturity and restraint.

But hang with me here. What happens next? The General Convention, less than a year away, will act on these proposals in some fashion. Everyone who believes GC will respond positively please raise your hand.

I don't see any hands.

So where does that leave us? It is now worth observing that the WCG report specifically mentions the Communion Partners Bishops in TEC as … well, let's quote them exactly:

We are encouraged by the planned setting up of the Communion Partners initiative in the Episcopal Church as a means of sustaining those who feel at odds with developments taking place in their own Province but who wish to be loyal to, and to maintain, their fellowship within TEC and within the Anglican Communion.

Anyone want to connect the dots? My GAFCON Community friends are keen on seeing TEC "disciplined" in some concrete way. So am I. So are most other "communion conservatives." What the Lambeth Conference is, one hopes, on the brink of setting up is the instrumental means by which the Episcopal Church will be the agent of its own discipline. (For the record, I have seen this one coming since virtually the last day of General Convention in Columbus two years ago.) By rejecting (what I might, in an anticipatory fashion, call) the Lambeth Plan, TEC will be "self-selecting" itself right out of the full membership in the Anglican Communion. And what is now known as the Communion Partners Initiative will form the safety net into which parishes and dioceses (and possibly individuals?) who find themselves in the Episcopal Church but who do not wish to be of it in the sense of its reduced status within the Communion may allow themselves to fall.

For orthodox Anglicans in North America, the end game envisioned by the GAFCON community is not all that different from the end game envisioned by the Lambeth Plan. The latter is just a whole lot better, because it has the potential to preserve the Anglican Communion in some semblance of continuity with the form in which we already know it and love it, and preserve the highest level of unity among the highest number of Anglicans.

See the whole board.

25 comments:

Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

My preference would be a statement saying "We do not believe that the issue of the ordination of homosexual persons in committed relationships or blessing of same-sex unions constitute an essential part of Anglican doctrine and therefore are not sanguine about providing sanctuary or alternative oversight to those who disagree on these issues. We should like to move on to matters of greater theological substance that form the core of our Anglican theology."

Now THAT would be refreshing!

Rob Eaton+ said...

Actually, Tom, it is an essential part of Anglican doctrine. You have to see the big picture, though, the whole board. Tell us that you do and we will refreshed, as well.

Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

OK. I'll bite. WHY is sexuality an "essential part of Anglican doctrine"? The "whole board" that is being referenced is seems to be simply a way of moving the pieces around so that those TEC heretics that condone homosexual behavior get kicked out of the Communion. I'm frankly missing the bigger board.

JamesW. said...

Tom: Like it or not, the vast majority of the Anglican Communion DOES believe that the issue of Biblical sexual morality is an essential part of Anglican doctrine. And for good reason. You might not. But if you want to abide in the Anglican Communion, you've got to abide by the Anglican Communion's boundaries. It's your choice. But don't whine over the fact that the Communion consensus doesn't agree with your argument.

Dan: Excellent analysis here. I personally think that the GAFCON folk should support this WCG Plan 110%. If implemented as written, this plan would give Anglican Communion legitimacy and cover to the seperated parishes and diocese pending TEC's agreement to the sexuality moratoria. We all know that that won't happen.

The most likely result will be a fierce disagreement between the institutional liberals (who would support the moratoria to keep their place in the Communion) and the extremist liberals (who would be happy to create their own American Episcopalian Communion). The latter would lose their Anglican status, with the end result probably being a negotiated seperation and a new moderately orthodox American province made up of the GAFCONers, the Communion Partners and the moderate TEC dioceses that elected not to go off the cliff with the radical extremists. That to me sounds a whole lot better then an alphabet soup of independent jurisdictions and a broken Communion.

I know there is a concern over Rowan Williams' credibility in implementing the plan, but the field has shifted. If Rowan drops the ball a second time, when GAFCON has agreed to play along, I think it would fatally undermine his credibility with the CommCon's and I think Rowan knows it. I think that this WCG Plan is an incredible opportunity and I sure hope the conservatives don't fumble it.

tjmcmahon said...

Dan, while I appreciate your optimism- someone needs to be optimistic in these dark times- and I appreciate the chess analogy- being a player myself, I think you are missing some of the board yourself.

"By rejecting (what I might, in an anticipatory fashion, call) the Lambeth Plan, TEC will be "self-selecting" itself right out of the full membership in the Anglican Communion. And what is now known as the Communion Partners Initiative will form the safety net into which parishes and dioceses (and possibly individuals?) who find themselves in the Episcopal Church but who do not wish to be of it in the sense of its reduced status within the Communion may allow themselves to fall."
I am afraid this is VERY wishful thinking. What will happen in this case is that TEC will fall back on the "no border crossing" rules, depose the Communion Partner bishops, and sue every parish that tries to realign. I base that presumption on the history of the last 20 years.
Beyond this, in the next 5 years (the period of time before any effective Communion institutions are in place) several of the Communion partners will have retired, and it is highly unlikely that anyone to the right of Stacey Sauls will receive consents to replace them.
I am seeing the whole board, and am aware of what the opponent's strategy was in the early part of the middle game. Unfortunately, you and I are not playing the pieces from our side. The fellow who is playing for us is quite afraid that if he plays to win, the opponent will upset the board, take the pieces and go home and never play with him again.
TEC will reject the Lambeth plan.
Just like it rejected the Windsor Plan, the Nottingham plan, the Dromentine plan, the Dar Plan. To date, it has rejected every call for reconciliation. Now, Lambeth has redefined reconciliation altogther. It is no longer TEC reconciling itself to the Communion, but the orthodox who have left or are still within TEC that will be forced to reconcile with TEC.
There is no language within this latest plan to support your interpretation. Further, since the plan places no moratorium on the removal of bishops and orthodox priests, the full brunt of TEC's anger will be born by the orthodox who remain in TEC. The plan openly throws them to the wolves by specifically stating that the safe harbor is only for those who have already left, those currently inside are forced to remain inside TEC. And the bishops can go on replacing every orthodox rector in their dioceses.
And, of course, the document also makes it open season on +Duncan, +Iker and +Ackerman. Again, the document specifically states that no safe harbor is offered to dioceses currently in TEC, only those that have already left.
So, unless this plan is extensively modified, it will not accomplish what it supposedly is written to accomplish.
The main problem is that this was a reasonable strategy for the early middle game- say 2003, before the Robinson consecration. As an endgame strategy, it leaves a lot to be desired. The fellow playing the pieces for "our" side has had 4 or 5 chances to checkmate the opponent and has passed them up on purpose to avoid making her mad. He is intentionally trying to draw. He will keep playing until all the pieces (provinces, dioceses, parishes, parishioners) are off the board, rather than put his opponent at a disadvantage. Apparently, she is the one paying for the board.

Anonymous said...

TJ,
Good points. Especially when taken in context with TEC's actions in the Diocese of San Joaquin. [and we all expect the same or harsher treatment for Pittsburgh and Ft. Worth]. The result is claiming to follow canons while breaking 11 different diocesan & TEC canons to 'reconstitute' the diocese [now in Stockton].

Dan,
Let's walk down the Lambeth Plan a little. Where is the central third of California? Is it TEC, or in the holding tank? both? What of Schofield? deposed? holding tank? S. Cone? What of the rest of the clergy? If they are [or believe themselves to be] in the tank, they should not respond to Bp. Lamb's demand for an answer. I think everyone's expectation is that failure to respond will result in deposition [one way or another]. Will that deposition take effect in the holding tank? or will S. Cone rules apply? I guess one of the first steps we will see compliance with the Lambeth Plan would be the withdrawal of lawsuits as well as the removal of the threat of adverse action against clergy.

However, other than a straight up/down vote...with teeth at Lambeth, I don't see much else. That is other than a complete break...GAFCON or other.

Bob G+ said...

Sorry for the length, Dan, what what do you say???

Considering the whole chess board, does it all come down to whether a parishioner, a priest, a bishop, a diocese, a province aligns with the “traditional” Scriptural understanding of homosexuality or can there be legitimate differences of understanding regarding what Scripture actually intends and does not intend regarding forms of same-sex relationships?

This isn’t a question of whether one must agree with a traditional or different Scriptural understanding (exegesis, hermeneutic), but whether there may be legitimate differences of understanding without necessitating division. I think of the differences of Scriptural interpretation between Calvinism and Arminianism regarding predestination and free-will or between Charismatics and non-Charismatics regarding whether the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are in operation today or not. There are, of course, cries of heresy among the “true-believers” within the different categories above against the other side, but for the most part we get along within these profound differences of Scriptural understanding regarding these issues.

We are Anglicans, upholders of the Middle Way, so now are we to descend into the same quagmire of divided Protestant denominationalism that cry “yes” or “no” to various sectarian interpretations? Some denominations only want rooks on the board, and some only the white or black rooks. Should we, literally or figuratively, return to the experience of the inter-Christian conflicts experienced during the beginnings of the Pentecostal revivals of the early 20th century when Pentecostal churches were burned to the ground, pastors jailed, members beaten, ostracized, and called all many of names because of their “innovation” and their “heresy?” Denominations split then. Is that our model, our game plan, too? The Anglican Way was supposed to be different, but alas we have become just like the rest.

I changed my mind on the homosexual issue not because of social pressure, but because of Scripture. Scripture is my authority, and on this issue I don't think Scripture supports the traditional interpretation that we demand of it. In time, we will know whether the “innovation” is of God or not, but we don’t know now – just as the jury is still out on which is correct Scriptural interpretation and application on other more significant issues. Which is correct: Calvinism or Arminianism or something else, Gifts of the Spirit in operation today or not or something else? Is the next step to divide Anglicans according to those who are Calvinists from those who are Arminians? Charismatics from anti-Charismatics? Or is it just over the homosexual issue?

If I agree that Scripture is my authority, the Creeds are said without crossed fingers or re-interpretation, if I abide by the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, and believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, yet disagree on the majority’s interpretation of Scripture regarding the legitimacy of some forms of same-sex relationships, could I be in “the club,” too, or am I to be exiled because I disagree with the majority? Am I to be exiled because I am an Arminian? Because I am a Charismatic? Both understandings flow against the majority interpretation of the Scripture (depending on what group you want to believe), in ways too similar to the whole homosexual debate. Where does it end?

IMHO, all this focus on homosexuality is not looking at the whole board, but only one piece (or perhaps two considering tangential issues). We have become fixated. Orthodoxy and orthopraxis comprise the whole board and not just the black or white pieces, or the individual pieces regardless of “color,” as they are moved around. In the end we will know, but not now. Because of this, we would be wise to not divide the Body of Christ, whether by conservatives or liberals, as one might throw over the board when he is loosing the match.

robroy said...

I wrote this over at Titus but I am not expecting an answer there:

Could someone tell me the difference between the “Panel of Reference” and our new “Forum of Reference”? One was led by a leftward leaning ditherer* and the new is led by a leftward leaning ditherer.

* Dromantine recommended the urgent formation of the the Panel of Reference in Feb 2005. Their first meeting was in July 2005. The first document came out in October of 2006 which told the orthodox of New Westminster to shut up and accept Ingham.


Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, and Quincy are leaving. I certainly envision the old ditherer doing diddly against Ingham, who has stated he will not abide by any moratoria (whose definition he already has stretched to the limit), but when these dioceses leave, the old ditherer will show spring in his step to condemn these violations of "ancient principles."

Fr. Tony Clavier said...

I have never learned to play chess. But given that I think your analogy apt: you have seen the wood for the trees.

I think the strategy all along has been to get TEC to make up its own mind rather than attempting to expel it from the Communion. After all there's no clear constitutional mandate which permits anyone to throw the rascals out.

It is an enormous pity that my Gafcon friends were so impatient and acted in a manner which placed them in ecclesiological error just as TEC has placed itself in theological and moral error. While those who label sins may fee the first error to be of lesser strength than the second, a sin remains a sin.

Had traditionalists exercised a more sacrificial restraint, the WCG might have been able to concentrate on TEC/Canada. Now it is too late and both groups have to be addressed.

The "escrow" idea is very good, I think, and will also act as a litmus test to demonstrate whether those who have left to join extra mural groups are really loyal Anglicans or schismatics.

The Underground Pewster said...

Tom,
The "moving onto matters of greater theological substance" argument when used to dismiss issues of sexuality and sexual misconduct effectively removes a large portion of the Bible from discussion. Sex has always been and always will be an important matter for us pewsitters, and it should matter to theologians as well.

Getting back to "Seeing the Whole Board," how come I am left feeling like a pawn in this chess match? I just hope that I will not be sacrificed for a queen.

Rob Eaton+ said...

Well, Dan, you've got comments from all over the board!

Tom, Jamesw kind of landed on your setting aside of one thing in favor of another. And I agree with him you've asked one thing without waiting for a response, in order to get to your premise.

But let me take just one stab at the concept of an Anglican doctrine. You know "we" Anglicans "don't like" to get nailed down on doctrine, although we do have a set of Anglican understandings.
Many times it is simply a contrast. It is in this context I offer this as a simple illustration of a core issue of Anglican doctrine - sexuality - and you can take it from there:
Clergy having permission to be married.
Certainly, the changeup is influenced by other writers from the Reformation and pre-Reformation. But this becomes a central issue for the Anglican Church as contrasted from the Roman Church, and it carries along with it biblical justification (or rather, that there is no biblical justification for an imposed celibacy). As a result, Marriage, and the definition of marriage from a biblical perspective (certain kings notwithstanding) becomes a central Anglican theological issue, the conclusion carrying biblical doctrinal foundation.
Personally, I believe human sexuality is a major issue from scripture whether one is Anglican or not, not the least of which is the problem of justifying OUT of scripture's authority whether sexuality is a major thing or not. And that raises the question about other biblical matters and how folks justify or sidestep them.
But, my simple illustration points to a matter of early Anglican contention, and thus something thoroughly stuck in Anglican life and order.
As an aside, I believe the biblical issue of sexuality as a great Anglican theological matter is the basis for FDMaurice and then Wm Temple zeroing in on "incarnational" theology, and that (phrase, anyway) is certainly not in contention as an "Anglican" peculiarity. But it is a simple step: sexuality....incarnation . Easy to see, even in sophomoric terms, the intimate connection.

Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

Bob G. wrote:

IMHO, all this focus on homosexuality is not looking at the whole board, but only one piece (or perhaps two considering tangential issues). We have become fixated.

Bob said it much better than I did and could. My difficulty with making homosexuality the issue over which the Anglican Communion may well split is that, IMHO, the debate seems to center largely on cultural mores and taboos rather then on biblical interpretation.

The Archbishop of Sudan saying something like "There are no homosexuals in Sudan" is not making a biblical assertion, but a patently false cultural one. Statistically, there has to be at least ONE gay person in Sudan! His failure to recognize that this is something that applies in his cultural setting means that there is unlikely to be any sort of serious engagement with the issue.

I would dearly love a passionate debate in the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Resurrection, the Nicene Creed, or any other basic tenet or statement of the Christian faith. That simply is not happening. As long as we confine the discussion to who sleeps with who, however, it seems to me that visceral cultural baggage will overwhelm the conversation and we'll keep talking past each other.

jason miller said...

Fr. Martins, you say that the TEC dioceses holding back from separating from 815 "will sting, and will require some maturity and restraint."

Perhaps. But even more so, it requires trust, trust that the Episcopal Church will do the honorable thing, and the PB and the rest have demonstrated again and again that they are not trustworthy: the Virginia property debacles & the Schori deposition--the "we don't authorize same sex marriages/we bless same sex unions" nonsense--the "depositions" of bishops no longer in TEC, depositions so fraudulent that even diocesan bishops have come out in opposition.

Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, et al, are supposed to trust that? They would be fools to do so.

jason miller said...

Actually, Tom, the issues of sexuality are closely linked with the Incarnation, the Atonement, etc.

For example: what was the purpose of the Atonement? To atone for sins. How is conversation about what Scripture calls a sin irrelevant to theological conversation?

Dan Martins said...

To Tom Sramek and Bob Griffith:
Hey, if it were just me you had to convince that we should just live with our differences in the fellowship of Christ's body, then you'd be home free. But, as Rob Eaton correctly pointed out, the vast majority of our Anglican brothers and sisters appear not to see it that way. The reason we can't just lay the matter aside and quaff our sherry is because a whole lot of those we claim to be on the journey with (the aforementioned overwhelming majority) are not of a mind to do so. It's just that simple. If I do something that you say grossly offends you, and I am committed to staying in relationship with you, I don't get to say, "Aw, c'mon. It's really not such a big deal." You're the one who gets to make that call, regardless of my opinion of *your* opinion.

To Jason Miller:
All I'm asking is the Fort Worth and Pittsburgh give the WCG plan a chance. There's plenty of time between now and their conventions for the ABC et al to demonstrate some good faith and implementing the proposals. If they don't, then shame on them, and nothing is lost as far as those two dioceses are concerned. They can make their move with a clear(er) conscience. But if Rowan & Co. make good on their avowed intentions, there is a great deal to be gained by cooperating. As Reagan said, "Trust, but verify." I'm not advocating any trust without verification.

Anonymous said...

Dan+,

If you look at the acceptance of DSJ into Southern Cone, it is not all that different from the escrow idea. The difference is the escrow agent.

There is no barrier in the formation of the new relationship to DSJ going back to ECUSA when things are acceptable.

Scott+

Bob G+ said...

Dan, from what I hear from people I know who visit Africa or South America, etc., most people on the group don't care about a little man in New Hampshire (not to diminish the resulting controversy), but care about how they are supposed to eke out a living or avoid AIDS or malaria. I think this is an issue with a group of mostly men here in the U.S. and a some primates, fewer bishops and even fewer parishioners around the world. A primate may say that his entire province is up in arms about New Hampshire or Westminster or even England, but the entire province is not.

This isn't a cry to "just get along" as if the issues are not important. It is an honest wondering/questioning why within Anglicanism this pressing issue has become a defining issue of whether one is a faithful Christian or not, when we allow incredibly wide differences of theological opinion and practice over issues that are truly far more fundamental to the faith than is the pressing issue.

Issues I mentioned above, for example, that imping upon the very means of salvation or the nature of God or how God engages His creation - soteriology and pneumonology. If we are going to call each other heretics, then why not over issues that truly imping upon the Church's understanding of God and Man?

Predestination or free-will: fundamental differences in soteriology that Protestant denominations divide over, yet Anglicans as a whole are not splintering over this issue. Why is homosexuality now the fundamental issue, the defining issue? Why is not soteriology or pneumonology the defining issue dividing Anglicans?

If splitting up is really over differences in Biblical interpretation and application, then to be consistent we should continue to see a whole lot more splintering over issues such as sorteriology or pneumonology (or Anglo-Catholic vs. Evangelical). We are truly becoming just like the Protestant denominations with Protestant mentalities.

IMHO, this has far more to do with the ungodly methods of American politics and the U.S. Culture Wars infiltrating and overwhelming the traditions of Anglicanism, and the unrelenting drive of their leaders for world support and influence, than it does with the furtherance of or witness to the Kingdom of God.

JamesW said...

Bob G: My wife (a TEC priest) and I were traveling in Europe earlier this year. At one hotel, our room maid was a women from Nigeria. My wife, being who she is, ended up having quite a conversation with the maid, and shared with her that she was an Episcopal priest.

The maid then said she was a Nigerian Anglican who supported Akinola's stand towards TEC 100% and was very relieved when my wife told her that she strongly disagreed with TEC's liberalism also.

My wife has also traveled in Uganda and found that everyone (clergy and lay) she interacted with was supportive of Orombi's positions.

Phil said...

I totally agree, Bob, that "this has far more to do with the ungodly methods of American politics and the U.S. Culture Wars infiltrating and overwhelming the traditions of Anglicanism." Unfortunately, it's the secularist-activist groups that support your deconstruction of Christian morality and teaching that have introduced those methods. If this bothers you so much, why don't you all put down your jackhammers and trust that the truth, as you see it, will out in God's own time, without ripping the Anglican Communion apart? Instead, your friends' actions show they seem to think God can't be relied upon to deliver the glorious future of sexual freedom without a very big, destructive push on their part.

Maybe you should take your complaints about politics someplace where somebody can do something about it. I suggest starting with Integrity, Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson. Let us know how you do, won't you?

Bob G+ said...

James - Yes, of course there are people in the pews that support their primate. But to presume that because a primate states a position that all the clergy, bishops, or parishioners are on board or even agree with him cannot be a good place to begin. This is obvious even within our own province.

Phil - I cannot speak of anyone else, but I am not engaging in an exercise to "deconstruction of Christian morality and teaching." I am simply striving to understand Scripture so that I may better understand how God is leading us/me. Period. No jackhammer. And, I am not splitting the Communion - it "takes two to tango," as they say, and frankly we all have a hand in the troubles - liberal, conservative, all of us.

What bothers me is our inconsistency and hubris. There is no difference between extreme conservatives and liberals in their distrust in God's ability to defend Himself, maintain the Church, and accomplish His will - and it results in schism and catcalls and polarization.

Of course, I can name some names of those who are pushing for schism on the other side, too. Will you go to those people and demand that they stop engaging in schismatic activities, too? We are all to blame for this mess.

Phil said...

Bob - you have departed from the teaching of the Church; the other people you no doubt have in mind have not. Therefore, you are the schismatic. It's very simple.

But go ahead and name names. To what point, though? Your comment, and my reply, dealt with your complaint about secular politics being introduced, not your misunderstanding of what makes up a schismatic action. The glorification of gay sex is purely a secular activity; it is contrary to the Gospel; and it would not be an issue in Anglicanism were it not for political activism. On that score, you and your friends own the blame, lock, stock and barrel. So I repeat that you're the one that needs to take your message to those that can really do something about it.

Let's cut the sanctimony, though: we both know that if this activism results in gay "marriages" being rammed down all of our throats sooner rather than later, with what's left of Episcopalian Christians being silenced and ground under foot, you'll be laughing it up, and your complaints will be forgotten. What you don't like is the resistance. Too bad; we answer to a higher authority than you and The New York Times.

JamesW. said...

Bob: You wrote "I think this is an issue with a group of mostly men here in the U.S. and a some primates, fewer bishops and even fewer parishioners around the world."

I presented first-hand evidence disproving your allegation and you respond with: "Yes, of course there are people in the pews that support their primate. But to presume that because a primate states a position that all the clergy, bishops, or parishioners are on board or even agree with him cannot be a good place to begin."

Of course we can't assume that all Nigerian Anglicans support Akinola or all Ugandan Anglicans support Orombi. But the overwhelming first hand evidence is that the vast majority of Nigerians and Ugandans DO support their Church's stand.

Accordingly, your allegation that "this is an issue with a group of mostly men here in the U.S. and a some primates, fewer bishops and even fewer parishioners around the world" is false.

The issue is for most conservatives (including the vast majority of Ugandan and Nigerian Anglicans, both lay and clergy) is that if it is agreed that it is acceptable for an Anglican Communion Church to bless sin and what is explicitly condemned in Scripture, then the Anglican Communion ceases to be a God fearing, God obeying church, it ceases to be part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. There is no longer any purpose for discussing and acting on all of these other issues, because the game is over. THAT'S why, Bob, this is such a big issue.

bob g+ said...

Phil - I wonder why you think you know me so well? What comes across from your last comment is that your anger is so apparent and strong that it causes you to make assumptions that bear no witness to reality. This is a prime example of what I referred to above when I said that the American political zeit-geist has overwhelmed the Church and its members as we try to deal with one another. The idea of the "loyal opposition" has gone out the window.

We are all acting just like the world. Rather than loving God, we love our theological or political position or agenda (conservative or liberal). Rather than loving our neighbor, we take every opportunity to debase and ridicule our neighbor even over legitimate disagreements. Spreading rumors and bearing false-witness has become as predominate in the Church in America as spreading the Gospel (or what's left of it after we are finished destroying our witness).

This is not Anglican, although it is very American. This is not the Kingdom of Heaven, but the kingdom of this world.

You can assume you know what I may laugh at or what I dislike or what I may want to happen, but your assumption does not make it real. I'm sorry Phil, but you are wrong in your estimation of me.

Until we all recognize our own culpability in the attitudes that perpetuate the problems that are tearing the Church apart, we cannot have resolution. Satan wins. The Gospel losses. The pieces have been thrown off the board. Game over. No one wins.

Phil said...

Let me ask a few questions, then, Bob.

1. Do you consider the Arians to have been the "loyal opposition?"

2. Do you consider the Marcianites to have been the "loyal opposition?"

3. Is Jack Spong, in your opinion, part of the "loyal opposition?"

4. Is the priestess in Washington state that declared herself to be a "Muslim-Episcopalian" part of the "loyal opposition?"

5. If a person advocated the Church's blessing of four-way sexual relations, would that person be part of the "loyal opposition?"

Beryl Simkins said...

These statements from Bob G+ are so important and bear repeating:
"We are all acting just like the world. Rather than loving God, we love our theological or political position or agenda(conservative or liberal). Spreading rumors and bearing false witness has become as predominate in the Church as spreading the Gospel (or what's left of it after we finish destroying our witness.)"

I realize that I speak as a member of the Lay, not as a deacon or priest in this church, and as I say what I think, I am appropriately humble. However, as Baptized Christians, I want to say, we are the Body of Christ in the world and we need to be about honoring our relationship, one to the other. The infighting and conflicts have only served to isolate people into positions that are all the more entrenched.

These are the two great commandments given by Christ: "Love the Lord your God with all soul and mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself." More important than anything else, and we've lost sight of that within the church.