Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Response to the Rev'd Prof. Christopher Seitz

I want to express my thanks for the many responses to what began as a comment on a piece Greg Griffith had posted on Stand Firm before Matt Kennedy elevated my response to the level of an article. I thank Matt for that as well.

To Chris Seitz, I must hasten to say that I never intended to suggest that all of you in the ACI "have avoided academic conflict, fought no battles in University life, written no books that did not earn them derision and hurt their professional ‘advancement’..." All of you have done and continue to do great work for Christ—and at considerable cost. Ephraim Radner's work on the Covenant Design Group alone is something for which all conservatives owe him a great debt. And, indeed, I would be praising him publicly, instead of criticizing him as I did, had he found a more gracious way of articulating his differences with the Network than launching a broadside against the Network's elected Moderator.

In saying that you all live "in your heads," I was not trying to be insulting; I was simply using the vernacular to refer to the tendency all of us in academia sometimes have of developing highly nuanced views of things. This is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that it gives you the insight and the patience to work with the Windsor Bishops and other Communion leaders. The curse is that it distances you from those of us who feel like we have been wading through nuances until we have worn out our hip boots.

I have spent 26 years in theological education, 21 of those years in two Episcopal seminaries—not as long as some of you in the ACI, I know, but long enough. I have been a deputy to five General Conventions, and I still serve on several Church commissions and committees. And I am tired. Frankly, I long for godly bishops who have truly heard from our Lord, whose "yes" means "yes," and who don't need Balaam's donkey to tell them which way they ought to go. I do not have the subtlety or patience that you and Ephraim possess, so I am glad that you are where you are and are doing what you are doing. I pray God will richly bless your work.

The difference between the ACI and the Network is an example of the classic tension between diplomacy and direct action. I, along with many members of the Network and Anglicans from the Global South, believe that our present situation calls for both. So I pray that those who are committed to both approaches can work together, without disparagement, to produce the orthodox Anglican future for which we both long.

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