Thursday, September 07, 2006

By Their Fruits Shall You Know Them: An Analysis of AAC and Network Activities

An excellent analysis by Catherine Thiemann, Diocese of San Diego

Over the past ten years, the Episcopal Church has been subjected to increasing attacks for its breadth of theological perspectives and its hospitality to all. Since the consecration of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, an openly gay man living in a committed monogamous relationship, the attacks have become more strident. A small but vocal faction, comprised of people both inside and outside the Episcopal Church has used significant resources to paint a false picture of our Church. These actions are similar to the attacks of the McCarthy Era, when a lie would be told often enough until it was deemed to be true. Half-truths are particularly useful to this approach because they require of the truth-teller a more detailed and sophisticated response than the attacker wields in the initial assault. The Internet only assists this kind of campaign of misinformation, offering a hood of anonymity to those dishonorable enough to wear it.

Regrettably, it is necessary to make a careful rebuttal of the unkind and dishonest representations of our Church which are antithetical to the spirit and words of Jesus, who calls us to be “one as the Father and I are one.” The American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network have created, through expensive DVDs, websites, and slick printed material, a gross distortion of our church that must be confronted.

Read it all here

5 comments:

The Pilgrim said...

Silly me. I made the assumption that an article written to "make a careful rebuttal of the unkind and dishonest representations of our Church" would itself be free of "unkind and dishonest representations." Unfortunately that is not the case.

To begin with, the author states that "Richard Hooker stresses that Anglicans read Scripture in light of reason and tradition." The statement is disingenuous at best.
Richard Hooker actually says that there are three authorities in the Church. In order of importance they are:

1. Scripture
2. Tradition
3. Reason.

Scripture is "The Highest Authority" in the church. It is, in Hooker's theology, the word of God, and is to be consulted in instances of decision making. Where scripture is "clear and unambiguous” on any subject, there is no question of its rightness and authority. If scripture is ambiguous or silent on a particular issue, we are led to consult the second authority, Tradition. Only then, if we cannot find direction from over two thousand years of Church Tradition, are we to resort to the third and least tool, our human powers of reason. This is not a "three-legged stool," with each "leg" given equal weight. It is a clear and concise hierarchy of authorities, with scripture at the summit and the use of human reason at the bottom as a last resort.

The author of the article also says the Act of Uniformity brought about a golden age of diversity in the Anglican Church which included a “wide latitude of personal belief.”

If this is truly the case, then why did the Puritans ultimately leave their country for America, if their beliefs were so welcomed in the C of E? And the author quotes Article number 34 for support, but it refers to changing “ceremonies or rites,” not to theology or beliefs. If you still think the author is correct, look at the Martin Marprelate documents. In fact, most scholars and historians see the Elizabethan Settlement as an age of conflict and forced conformity that lead directly to the English Civil War!
With the article constructed around so many false assertions, it is hard to understand why I even bothered to read the rest, but I did. Suffice to say the entire article's logic ultimately crumbles, because of the bed of sand and lies it is initially built upon.

revsusan said...

Dear Pilgrim,

Thanks for a "softball" on a Friday afternoon when I'm taking a break from sermon writing to blog-surf:

1. "why did the Puritans ultimately leave their country for America, if their beliefs were so welcomed in the C of E?"

A. Because the Puritans in question were not willing to extend to those who held other views the same latitude of personal belief that the CofE was willing to extend to them. (See also: walking apart ... or "Mayflowering" apart as the case may be!)

The Pilgrim said...

Now we are so going to disappoint Archbishop Laud. He ws proud of his Puritan persecution, such as a Mr. Pryne and his two friends who went to the scaffold on June 30, 1637 to have their ears cut off for writing Puritan pamphlts.

There was no tolerance in the church of James the first, and there was even less under Charles. The Clarendon Code?

Granted, when the Puritans came to power they gave as good as they had gotten, but they and the covenanters, the Presbyterians and even the Catholics were persecuted and hounded out of England for there beliefs.

So sorry Susan, but there was no inclusiveness in the COE in the 1600s.

revsusan said...

Pilgrim ... and yet the seeds of that Elizabethan Compromise grew into an Anglican Comprehensiveness that was for generations the hallmark of this particular ... and occasionally peculiar ... people of God. We have NOT always "gotten it right" but there was been in the DNA of Anglicanism a willingess to live with difference that has been distinctive part of its ethos.

I believe the author's point is we're in danger of losing that.

And I believe she's right.

Wood Family said...

to quote a song of your generation, "paranoia will destroy ya."