Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Liberal push and the Crisis in the Episcopal Church

From a recent exchange on a listserv discussing the present crisis in the Episcopal Church, a liberal critic of those who are upholding the historic Christian position wrote:

"The liberal side has been willing for years to live in disagreement which is a sort of compromise. Now when a single vote goes against the conservatives they go crying to the conservatives in the Anglican Communion to try and get their own way rather than to continue to live in disagreement."

Actually, the liberal side has been undermining and trying by every possible means to change the teaching of the Church for many years. Concerning ordination of homosexually active persons, the 1979 General Convention resolved that ordination of homosexuals was "not appropriate." Nevertheless, it was already occurring in a lawless fashion, seen perhaps most conspicuously in Bp. Paul Moore's ordination of Ellen Barrett in 1977. Twenty bishops (and, later 19 others) signed an opposition statement to the action of General Convention, saying that "we cannot accept these recommendations or implement them in our diocese insofar as they relate or give unqualified expression to Recommendation Three [forbidding ordination of lesbians and gays]." Consequently, Integrity could later claim that at least 50 open gays and lesbians had been ordained to the priesthood by 1991.

The Lambeth Conference of 1998, Resolution 1.10 "reject[ed] homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture" and stated that "[This conference] cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions." Yet the ECUSA continued undeterred.

My liberal correspondent then continued:

"And is it such a huge issue to have one openly gay bishop?"

To the extent that it signifies rejection of a nearly 2000 year old understanding of Christian sexual morality, yes, it is a huge issue.

But my liberal friend continues:

"I believe it is the conservatives that are out to destroy the church and nothing you can say will make me think other wise. They have made no constructive offers and have reject[ed] every attempt by the liberals to accommodate them."

Can anyone help me understand what this fellow means by "rejecting every attempt by the liberals to accommodate them?" I haven't seen attempts by the liberals at accommodation, just a relentless push in one direction.

Episcopal bishops, at their latest meeting, agreed not to give consents to any new bishops until GC 2006, nor to authorize any public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, nor to bless any such unions, at least until the General Convention of 2006. Nevertheless, some bishops since then have said they cannot direct clergy in their dioceses to refrain from blessing same sex unions. So the bishops will quit; but their clergy, who are far more likely to perform such services anyway, can go right ahead. The push continues.

Couple all of this with refusals of DEPO [providing alternative oversight to congregations that are in conflict with their bishops over these issues] and inhibition and deposition (i.e, defrocking) of clergy, which conveniently does not require a trial, for "abandonment of the Communion of this Church"--when the clergy in question had no intention of going anywhere else--and you begin to get a picture of why conservatives don't believe anything has been done to effect reconciliation or to accommodate them. (See, in particular, the website of the six orthodox Episcopal priests in Connecticut who are being persecuted by their bishop. If anyone can point out this grand effort at reconciliation or accommodation of conservatives, I'd be glad to hear about it.

1 comment:

Eric Swensson said...

Good work! You are right, to say it is about two theological worlviews is more accurate than to say the schism is over tow irreconciliable hermeneutics.