Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Stand Firm is an very fine and usually well-written blog that has become a sort of flagship cybervoice for conservative Anglicans who have not only given up on the Episcopal Church, but who are in the process of giving up on Canterbury-based Anglicanism itself. (As I understand the terrain, to give up on Canterbury is to give up on Anglicanism, but they would disagree.) Their relatively small stable of writers are stoutly Evangelical, and two of them, at least, are distinctly Calvinist.

While I am an evangelical only in a generic way (I believe in proclaiming Good News) and not in the party sense, and even though I prefer to keep Monsieur Calvin at a very safe distance, I have, in the past, considered myself a friend of Stand Firm. I am, with them, on the "orthodox" side of the Great Divide. I say the creeds without crossing my fingers. I fully agree with Lambeth I.10. I voted against the confirmation of Gene Robinson's election in 2003, as well as the resolution that affirmed the blessing of same-sex unions as "within the bounds of our common life." I voted for B-033 in 2006 because I believed (and still believe) it to be a bona fide moratorium on the consecration of partnered gay bishops, as was requested by the Windsor Report. In the taxonomy of TitusOneNine, another fine conservative Anglican blog of a similar but distinctive stripe, I have what I believe are impeccable "reasserter" credentials.

But, for whatever it may be worth, the folks at Stand Firm no longer consider me their friend. This is no great tragedy, in the larger scheme of things, and I don't lose any sleep over it. But their reason for giving me the cold shoulder is, to say the least, interesting. It is because of the company I keep. Another (truly the most excellent) blog to which I am a contributor is Covenant. While the majority of Covenant's writers are as "orthodox" as I am, a handful are not, in that, on the merits of the issue itself, they are able to embrace, or are open to embracing, a positive moral assessment of homosexual behavior in the context of a lifelong committed relationship analogous to traditional marriage. But they are all gravely concerned about the way the behavior of the Episcopal Church over this question has damaged the Anglican Communion, and are committed to the norms of the Windsor Report and to the process of developing a robust Anglican Covenant.

While I do not myself stand in precisely the same place as these friends, I have no qualms--no qualms whatsoever--about affirming their Christian fidelity and the integrity of their discipleship. They are my co-laborers in the work of the gospel. I have no reason to doubt that they and I have all been clothed with the same Christ in the waters of baptism, and if that be true, I cannot allow a disagreement such as the one between us to prevent me from sharing with them the Sign of Peace and dining with them on the Body and Blood of the One whose members we are by virtue or our trip to the font.

For this I am labeled a collaborationist--yea, verily, Vichy.


All this time I just thought I was behaving like a Christian.

I love the people at Stand Firm. I share a whole lot of the same angst that stokes the fire in their bellies. I've got no problem being friends with them, and I will continue to look at the site regularly. But if they feel compelled to pin a label on me because of who I hang with, be it. I'll wear it proudly. I do it because I love Jesus, and don't see how I could love Jesus and do anything else.


Greg Griffith said...

Fr. Dan,

It's not true that we longer consider you or friend; we do. Speaking for myself, I also consider Sarah Dylan Breuer, and even Fr. Jake and Susan Russell my friends, in the sense that I would happily share a meal, a bottle of wine and an evening of conversation, or even my home or my last granola bar with them.

And we see nothing at all wrong with co-authoring a blog with anyone you like. Where we part company is in the belief that the Gospel you and I share, can keep company with the one claimed by Nick Knisely and Greg Jones. They are simply incompatible, and we cannot in good conscience support claims - yours or anyone else's - that their version of the Gospel can co-exist with ours. As people, we certainly can and must co-exist; the same isn't true of competing Gospel truth claims.

Greg Griffith said...

Sorry... "It's not true that we NO LONGER consider your OUR friend."

Stupid fingers...

Anonymous said...

Fr. Dan, while SF remains one of my "must see" sites, I am saddened by an increasingly polemical tone emerging there in recent months. In particular, there has been a rush to censor and/or shout down anything less that 100% endorsement of whatever is perceived to be the talking points of the day.

I'm not referring to preventing the hijacking of discussion by factionlists shouting about "homophobia" or whatever idee fixe with which they characterize those who hold to tradtional theology and morality, but rather the quick cut to ostensible friends who are conversing in good faith. In particular, the over-the-top trashing of Dr. Poon, who raised legitimate questions about the proposed GAFCON gathering, sickened me.

Please keep writing and engaging with all who lay claim to an Anglican understanding of the Gospel and are willing to converse respectfully, even if they are clearly "the other guys". While I hold out little hope (and quite frankly, do not greatly mourn) for the institutional structures of our Church, we, as the People of God, will continue to encounter each other, even across a divide. We might as well get good at it!

Daniel Martins said...

I appreciate the olive branch, Greg, and I have no hard feelings. But, like you say, where we "part company" is in the logical leap from "Nick Knisley and Greg Jones" are open to a positive moral assessment of homosexual behavior under certain conditions" to "Nick Knisley and Greg Jones preach a different gospel." They don't preach a different gospel. They preach the same gospel. They understand one aspect--yes, an important aspect--of Christian morality differently than I do, differently than the vast majority of Christians do. I think they are mistaken about that. But I don't believe their mistake rises to the level of requiring them to be shunned. With me, and with the Church throughout the ages, they say "Jesus is Lord." And I think they mean it. I respect SF's policy. But it saddens me.

Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

I keep wondering why, when the Episcopal Church has held together through discussions and debates about slavery, civil rights, women's ordination, divorce, the 1979 BCP, and all manner of other controversies, the issue of homosexuality is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back. My own feeling is that it is more a cultural than a biblical rift, which is what gives it such power to divide, but I don't know.