Wednesday, November 07, 2007

News from Nigeria

Don't miss Fr. Jake's latest:

Nigeria Rejects
The Windsor Report
The Council of Nicea


Allen said...

Canon 2 of the Council, on the ordination of persons in the Church:

"But if, as time goes on, any sensual sin should be found out about the person, and he should be convicted by two or three witnesses, let him cease from the clerical office. And whoso shall transgress these[enactments] will imperil his own clerical position, as a person who presumes to disobey fie great Synod".

Sex outside of God's purposes and outside of the marriage rite is still adultery, and a sensual sin. (No great stampede to depose will follow).

Time to show colors: All those wanting to create a homosexual marriage rite (not just a blessing) in the next Prayer Book, raise your ire.


allen ... not interested in a "homosexual marriage rite." committed to equal rites for all the baptized.

Allen said...


Does your response mean that you do not desire an official Marriage Service for use by homosexual persons to be included in the next Prayer Book?


It means I'm committed to sacramental equality for all the baptized and exploring -- with the Holy Spirit and the Episcopal Church's legislative process -- how best to accomplish that noble goal.

Stay tuned.

Allen said...

Considering the pre-2009 Convention vamp that I've been hearing, I'll take this to mean that you'll advocate for such a new service in the next Prayer Book.


take it to mean what you care to, my dear ... I'm still in conversation with the Holy Spirit and our legislative strategists.

Allen said...

Where's the pride and confidence of the positions taken by Integrity? "Let your 'yes' be a 'yes', and your 'no' be a 'no'".

Anonymous said...

Allen, I think the answer is yes. It may not be called marriage right away, but this has been a journey taken with small, deliberate steps, and the goal has never been forgotten.

Allen said...

I'm not in conversation with the Holy Spirit on that same level. The red words in the Gospel just note that one should answer questions in this manner: "let your yes be a yes and a no be a no."


I guess I'm having a confrontational day, but what's the problem with accepting "we really are still discerning with the Holy Spirit what our next steps are toward the full sacramental inclusion of all the baptized into the Body of Christ " as a genuine answer?


allen ... ps: you're joking about the red words in the bible, right?

RonF said...

If the matter currently before TEC was set before the Council of Nicea, they'd depose all the priests and bishops counseling same-sex "marriage" as heretics and extend the authority of the bishops currently servicing the faithful in the heretics' old dioceses until such time as new priests and bishops could be raised up. To talk of what's going on as defiance of Nicea by the Archbishop of Nigeria is absurd.

Clark R. West said...

Throwing the word heretic around is a dangerous game. Ever hear of Marguerite Porete? She was burned at the stake for heresy in 1310 by the church and by the 1900's, the book that got her cooked was packaged under a different name and given the imprimatur by the same church! So calling someone a heretic just don't make it so.
And besides, some of us wear the label as a badge of honor when we recall...the Reformation for example.

Allen said...

Yep Susan,

I'm just being rascaleous. But, them red words in the Book seem sorta important.

Anonymous said...

Admittedly, catechism was a long long time ago for me, but I suspect that if you did a word cloud of the Bible there would be one word that matters more than any other. It's one we don't hear much from the Conservative side but arguably is the most important single word in the whole book.

Oh come on now. You all know what I'm about to type.


Sad how few Christians seem to remember that one.


Paul B said...

Ms Russell, I am so confused.

The Holy Spirit is plotting strategy with you?

Wouldn't it seem that if the Holy Spirit really wanted something new that the Holy Spirit would convert the hearts of those that were preventing the change? Why the need for legislative strategists?

How is it that the Holy Spirit is plotting with you, and your opponents are claiming that the Holy Spirit is giving them strength to resist your changes?

Obviously one group isn't listening.


paul ... please do me the courtesy of commenting on what I said rather on what you think I mean.

Discerning with the Holy Spirit how to move the church forward on the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ is work we've been at for 30 years.

The reason we're where we ARE in the Episcopal Church is because hearts and minds have been changed and, I believe will continue to be.

Finally, when we take our place "in the councils of the church" we bring the Holy Spirit into that process -- legislative and otherwise.

So, no: the Holy Spirit is not "plotting strategy" with us. She is, however, our guide and stay in the journey.

Ann Marie said...


Many of us have started embracing the term "heretic" when we saw what the alternative of toeing the line was. To deny what we have come to understand, through much study, prayer, and meditation, would be far more hurtful than a term that has been misused and misapplied through the centuries. Some of us, to lessen the negative power of the word, have come to wear it proudly, making the claim ourselves. And strangely enough, it has helped me reach far more people in my community than I would have otherwise, opening doors for possible evangelism opportunities that would never have been open otherwise thanks to a number (certainly not all) of the orthodox. That shows the movement and guidance of the Spirit amongst even those who preach "heresy".

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Joan Mistretta said...

Oh, Paul B., did you really mean to say "Wouldn't it seem that if the Holy Spirit really wanted something new that the Holy Spirit would convert the hearts of those that were preventing the change? Why the need for legislative strategists?" The reasons why this question is sad are legion, i.e. two hundred years of slavery in the U.S. -- why didn't the H.S. zap the minds of the slave holders? All these centuries of war -- why doesn't the H.S. put a stop to it? Oh, would that it worked that way, but it doesn't. We have to evolve into new understandings. Are you aware that folks fought about the "new" King James Version of the Bible for 50 years?

Personal comment to Scott West: Hey, Scott! Joan Mistretta

Paul B said...

Ms Russell, I thought I was commenting on what you said. Well, I commenting on what I heard, anyway.

However, you didn't answer my question.

If you believe God is guiding you, and the people opposing you believe that God is guiding them, and you have mutually exclusive positions, how do you determine who is right?

You obviously think that you are right, and are listening to the Holy Spirit. Why do other people hear the opposite from the Holy Spirit?

Clark R. West said...

Dear Paul B.,
I thought I might take a crack at your question about how do we know who is 'right' when both sides of a divisive issue think they are hearing the Holy Spirit. One answer would be to say that nobody 'knows', but we may nevertheless have faith in humble acknowledgement that we may be wrong (or as we say in blogland of course I could be wrong OCICBW)

A second answer, perhaps a bit bolder than this, is that we seek to discern the Holy Spirit by its fruits. For those of us living in dioceses with openly gay clergy and laity (as I do in the diocese of Rochester), we have seen incredibly powerful signs of love, faith, Christian humilty and long suffering fidelity to a church that has often not returned any of these virtues too well or consistently. So we see outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace which we believe comes of the Holy Spirit. (This kind of experiential theology, by the way, was that of the Puritan Jonathan Edwards--a bit of irony there, isn't it?)
Now please don't trot out the narratives of gay and lesbian promiscuity as counter-examples. Susan has already countered those charges ad nauseum--there is plenty of straight promiscuity, and these are not the kinds of relationships we seek to bless anyway, nor do we seek to ordain serial adulterers! I know of no one who wishes to do so, so that is a red herring.
Does this help you at all?
Yours in Christ's love,

P.S. Hi right back, Joan Mistretta!

JCF said...

If you believe God is guiding you, and the people opposing you believe that God is guiding them, and you have mutually exclusive positions, how do you determine who is right?

You obviously think that you are right, and are listening to the Holy Spirit. Why do other people hear the opposite from the Holy Spirit?

I love that scene in ShadowLands (re C.S. Lewis), where Lewis is musing a frustrated question not so much to, as with, a student in his office, and the student responds: "You know, that's the first question I've heard you ask, that I didn't think you already had the answer to."

...and that's how I feel about your questions above, PaulB. Thank you!

Speaking *strictly* for myself, I would say "the fact that equally devoted Christians arrive at different answers, to equally prayerfully asked questions" is a symptom of our fallen world.

Even when we THINK we're asking questions dis-interestedly, we still can't completely let go of our egos. They get in the way, and we still too much have an "Oh Lord, let ME be right!" 'tude, encircling our discernment(s).

I know I do this ALL the time. I can't seem to stop doing it---and with St. Paul, I cry "Wretch that I am---who will save from this body of death?"

So . . . for anything and EVERYTHING I think I hear from the Holy Spirit, honesty about my own fallen nature compels me to say "But of course, I COULD be wrong." [+Gene Robinson has a wonderful phrase: "Our own inner voices, doing a splendid imitation of the Voice of God"]

I hope I continue to believe that I could be wrong . . . as will our host, Susan Russell . . . as will you, PaulB, too.

More Light, Lord---grant us More Light!

Paul B said...

Clark, thank you for your kind words. And yes, you can find good things happening in a variety of venues.

Do all good things come from god? Well, yes, we are told that. But come things, good works, come from a variety of places.

The local Rotary Club performs good works. Good things are done in the community by people with no religious affiliation. So, I don't totally buy the idea that people can do good works, can draw close to God, only if they are theologically correct. You could be totally off base theologically and do good.

And Johnathan Edwards? Reading "Sinners in the Hands of Angry God" in American Lit in high school left a lasting mark on me. I do have a hard time thinking of God as all loving.

JCF: Yep, I do not know the answer to my question at all. It is really perplexing.

This is a fallen world. I've been taught that when I try to discern the voice of God, I should use scripture and tradition to validate what i think I've been told. If what I think I'm being told something that runs counter to scripture or tradition, I should not believe it.

That doesn't leave any room for doing something new, but also is a guard against going wrong.

Clark R. West said...

Dear Paul,
I suspect this will be my last comment on this thread since I have taken up far too much space on Susan's blog already, though I certainly would be willing to talk more with you should you like.
The problem with your rotary club analogy is that the 'good works' I have witnessed by glbt people are quite specifically Christian. These include celebrating the Eucharist, daily prayer to the triune God, and preaching from the scriptures without their fingers crossed. Christian works, not good works in general. This, I think, makes your attempt to separate good works from good theology fail for many glbt persons serving the church now as both clergy and laity.
And as for Jonathan Edwards--yes, I too have read the only sermon most americans have ever read, and many others of his. There is a lot more to Edwards than hell, and even that is not so simple. But when you suggest that God's 'anger' as Edwards puts it in that sermon causes you to question whether God is 'all loving' I simply disagree. I can be angry with my children (and have been!), especially when they pick on another child or persecute a younger child--I am sure they experience my voice saying No! to such behavior as angry, and it is. But in no way does such anger mean that at that moment even, I have ceased to love them even a little tiny bit! Anger can be righteous, cleansing and healing, and I for one am not willing to reject the idea that our all-loving God does have anger at us for the evil we do or allow to be done--for example, right now in our church when we attack one another with the scriptures, sending one another to hell for this and that while the world around us suffers--some say God grieves when we do this--I say God may also get mad as hell at all of us!
Last thought, Paul. The two leading orthodox theologians of the twentieth century, Hans urs von Balthasar (Roman Catholic) and Karl Barth (Protestant) were as close to universalists as they could get without taking the plunge. Balthasar's book, Dare We Hope that All Men Be Saved? is a remarkable little treatise, and helped me a lot to begin to think differently about hell and God's all embracing love. Though I am more interested in orthopraxy than orthodoxy (which truth be told, was used, along with scripture and the tradition to keep african american's enslaved in this country for over 100 years,), I do think that a biblical, orthodox argument can be made for full inclusion of all of God's children.
Yours in peace and hope,

Paul B said...


The Rotary club analogy is indeed valid, as is the fact that both conservatives and liberals in the Episcopal church can tell stories of great things being done in the context of their liturgies and in their communities. So, once again, both sides can seemingly point to the success of their parishes as proof that their theological view is correct, which nullifies it as a differentiating argument.

I am certainly in favor of everyone being welcome in church. It's a question not of inclusion but one of sin and salvation.

And the Edwards reference on my part is more of a comment on how things encountered while we are young can have unexpectedly long lasting consequences.

We are left with two sides believing they are correct and pointing to reasons why only they are correct, but the other side can claim the same blessings and make the same points. Since their positions are mutually exclusive, we are left scratching our heads.

Vince said...

I feel that I have to make a statement here concerning one of the comments by Clark. He states:

The problem with your rotary club analogy is that the 'good works' I have witnessed by glbt people are quite specifically Christian. These include celebrating the Eucharist...

It may not appear so on the surface, but that statement has profound theological implications. (I cannot stress that enough.) Mr. West classifies celebration of the Eucharist as a work on man's part.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Man has absolutely no right whatsoever to claim that a sacrament is a work on his own part. At the Lord's Table, God pours out His grace, and we miserable sinful creatures simply receive it with a believing, repentant heart. There is no "work" on our part.

If one approaches the Table with the attitude "Hey Lord! Look at me! Look at this good work I'm doing for you!" then I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that that person has received no grace at all in the sacrament.

While I admit that I'm not an Episcopalian (I'm Lutheran, actually), I did once visit an Episcopal church a few years ago. It just so happened that this church (for whatever reason) celebrated the Eucharist before the sermon. What did I observe? Literally about half of the congregation took the Eucharist, then left before the sermon. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

I'm guessing that those people also bought into the notion that the Eucharist is somehow a good work on their part. Perhaps they thought to themselves "Well, I've had my weekly helping of Body and Blood, so I'm good for another week." But I admit I'm speculating on that part....

No, Mr. West, taking the Eucharist does not constitute a "good work" on your part. It's not a work you offer up to God, it's a work of grace that God offers down to you. We have no inherent "right" to His grace.

It doesn't surprise me that there exists out there the attitude that God somehow owes us His grace, or that a sacrament is somehow a work on our part. Many people speak of how mankind has "fallen", and that we live in a "fallen world", but in reality they don't mean quite what they say since they don't actually believe that sin has completely corrupted every aspect of man's existence. They speak of man being depraved, but they don't really mean that man is totally depraved. "I believe that everybody has a little bit of good in them somewhere."

I once heard someone say that GRACE is God's Riches At Christ's Expense. That is 100% true. And it's that grace that God offers down to us undeserving, corrupt, sinful creatures.

If anyone here somehow thinks he's doing God a favor by taking the Eucharist, then I would kindly suggest he pause for a moment and seriously examine himself.

Sorry to derail the thread, but I felt that it was necessary to correct what I see as a major theological error.

Clark R. West said...

Dear Vince,
Your 'projectifications' of all sorts of heresies, narcissistic self-indulgence, etc. etc. onto my words is a work of sheer genius! Though I did not in fact say anything of the sort as you accuse, your fulminations gave me some needed comic relief today. I do believe that God indeed wants us all to celebrate the Eucharist, to make our 'sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise' each and every moment of each and every day, though none of us are worthy or righteous, no, not even one (Rom. 2:10)! God's incarnate love, and nothing else, allows us to 'approach the throne of grace with boldness' (Heb. 4:16) and so, and only so, I can do no other! My theology of grace, indebted to Luther as it is, is just fine, Vince, thank you very much!

A not quite so miserable sinner as you would have me be, wishing you God's abundant peace,