Tuesday, June 24, 2008

WWJB*

*Who Would Jesus Ban?

OK -- I'll admit it. We've been having some fun with the "Gafcon 8" story Ruth Gledhill broke yesterday: the list of folks, pictured below, who ended up on the Gafcon "no entry" equivalent of the Homeland Security "no fly list."



I got dozens of emails yesterday congratulating me on the high honor of being banned from this conference I had no intention of attending anyway. Before you could sing the refrain of "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" there was a "Ban Me, Gafcon!" t-shirt designed and an "I want to be banned by Gafcon" Facebook group. (with 232 members the last time I checked.)

This morning, though, I've been thinking about it all from a slightly different perspective. I'm wondering what it was about this particular group of eight very disparate folks that ended them up on the "no entry" list in Jerusalem?
.
What is it about a priest from Pasadena, a professor from Newark, a New England blogger, a bishop from Colorado and a clergy couple who -- as far as I know -- have been singularly absent from these conversations up until now, that combine to make them such a collective threat? And what actually IS going on at Gafcon that we're lumped together with Colin & Davis -- those fearsome Changing Attitude activists -- and "banned"?

David Virtue (who I admittedly rarely read but checked in with this morning) tried this: This conference, like nearly every conference ever held, is by invitation only, unless you want to attend a Billy Graham crusade. Would the LGBT pansexual Episcopal organization possibly invite an orthodox journalist to listen in on their plans? Of course not.

Sorry, David. The answer is "Of course, yes!" David knows better, actually, having never been turned down credentials for any of the conferences we've organized over the years and Ralph Webb of IRD fame is a regular observer of all things Episcopal.

So I'm wondering if the key words are "listen in on their plans." And I'm thinking that paranoia is just a grown-up version of the little-boy game of putting up a "No Girls Allowed" sign outside their clubhouse and posting a sentry to make sure none of them sneak up and listen in on them. (AKA: The Girl Cootie Syndrome)

Besides, I thought we'd just spent a lot of energy spinning this gathering in Jerusalem as a pilgrimage of faithful Anglicans seeking God's will for themselves and the Anglican Communion? +Akinola sure spent a lot of time in his opening remarks making sure it was clear there were "no plans to break away" from the Anglican Communion.

If that is indeed the case, then what "plans" are being hatched that must be protected from Rob O'Neill ... or Deborah Edmunds? And, at the end of the day, what kind of "global future" is there for a Communion committed to excluding those with whom they disagree?

Exactly.

WWJB? Nobody.

And so, as we countdown to Lambeth Conference and our work and witness there, here's Integrity's answer to the question, Who Would Jesus Ban:

He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took him in.

Edwin Markham

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12 comments:

Ann said...

The Edmunds are currently working for Bp. Dawani of Jerusalem. Episcopal Cafe´has their bio here

Jim said...

My often insightful son says: no. It is really a very scary thing. They actually are so delusional that they think they are under siege. They actually think the devil has empowered you, and such inoffensive folk as the Edmonds to persecute them. They really really need someone to fear, to go to war against.

In a real sense, this is why we call it, "homophobia. It is the same disease as anti-semitism, racism and the never ending persecution and fear of us Roma. These people need to have an enemy to validate their spiritual standing as God's warriors. They are scary, deluded and dangerous.

We have to pray for the relief of their fear.

I think they cannot release their fear, it defines them. Holy Michael defend the church from the fearful!

FWIW

FranIAm said...

As is often the case, I don't like to say too much as the RC lurker... Well I guess I am not a lurker with all my commenting, am I? Forgive me if I overstep some bounds, but I long for the day we are all united under something that would be hard for Akinola, Rowan, B16 or others to imagine.

(I live in Albany NY, where it is a relatively liberal RC environment and not so much for TEC.)

Anyway, back to the point - it is all rather something to watch. And frankly if we actually discussed things in our church and were structured differently, well then we'd be in this situation as well.

Hell - we are almost there and without anyone out!!

Today I was at Acts of Hope and found this link to Three Minute Theologian. I thought it was brilliant in light of the whole thing.

I will finally shut up now. (please feel free to tell me to do so in the future!)

Pax to all.

Hiram said...

I attended the Plano conference, which was not "invitation only" but which was limited to those who could sign the AAC statement of faith. Louie Crewe came to the convention site - in fact, he stayed at the hotel. But he was not admitted to the conference itself. There may have been two or three other "progressive" leaders there besides him, but I saw him so I know he was there. Some of the conference leaders had cordial conversations with him.

But he would not have been in the convention for anywhere near the reasons the rest of us were there. To use a not very accurate metaphor, it would be like having LA Lakers cheerleaders at a pep rally for the Boston Celtics, or some of McCain's leadership at an Obama rally.

We do not share the same vision of what Christianity is with you. We have watched "progressives" move in and take the leadership of ECUSA. We know that we will only be tolerated if we are willing to know our place, and say, "I don't agree with you, but your position is an acceptable position within the framework of Christianity."

I do not pretend to know why the leadership of GAFCON made all the decisions they did, nor exactly what they want to accomplish. I do know that having any of the folks pictured around would not serve to further the purposes of GAFCON, however, because what the people pictured believe about the nature of the Christian Faith and the purpose of the Church are not what we Evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics, and Prayer Book "mere Christians" believe about the nature of the Christian faith and the purpose of the Church.

A P.S. - Jim said, "These people need to have an enemy to validate their spiritual standing as God's warriors. They are scary, deluded and dangerous." As I have mentioned before, it is fascinating to be psychoanalyzed without even being known. Might it be that we are standing on principle? The press often speaks of "conservative anger," and we certainly do feel strongly about the situation - but it is not simple anger coming out of ignorance or out of distress of having the familiar changed. It is strong feeling that comes from the blood of Jesus, that bought us and is transforming us, being mocked.

I am not afraid. I know who I belong to, and I know that he is the victor over sin and death, and that he will never let me go. If hard times come because some will not acknowledge his Word, so be it.

FranIAm said...

I was reluctant to keep going but after re-reading your comments about comments several times, I press on.

These words from Hiram's comment really struck me...

"But he would not have been in the convention for anywhere near the reasons the rest of us were there. To use a not very accurate metaphor, it would be like having LA Lakers cheerleaders at a pep rally for the Boston Celtics, or some of McCain's leadership at an Obama rally."

LA Lakers cheerleaders at a pep rally?

McCain's leadership at an Obama rally?

I am truly curious - is that what this is like for you, a rally?

The reason that I ask this is because I am wondering how coming to the table of the Lord, seeking unity, is like an athletic event or a political event.

Seriously.

The stillpoint of chronos and kairos where we find crucifixion, resurrection and potentially unity is a far cry, IMHO anyway, from such things.

Luke 9:49 comes to mind, when wanting to rebuke others for "casting out demons" in Jesus' name, Jesus says otherwise.

Honestly, if we are all about the work of the Kingdom, there must be a way to meet in that without exclusion.

I just have a hard time seeing how Jesus condemned anyone. And I have a hard time with anyone condemned on His behalf.

How else are we to interpret the constant, and I do mean constant use of the outsider, the disenfranchised and the stranger to bring forth the Kingdom?

The Kingdom and a basketball game with opponents are very different things indeed.

john said...

Finally. Hiram says something with which I completely agree:

"We do not share the same vision of what Christianity is with you."

And we should all quit pretending otherwise and get on with our lives.

Jim said...

Hiram,

I do not want to turn Rev. Susan's space into our correspondence, but with her permission, do you not realize how incredibly revealing this comment is? You wrote:

... We know that we will only be tolerated if we are willing to know our place, and say, "I don't agree with you, but your position is an acceptable position within the framework of Christianity.

So you can only be in communion if you can proclaim my Christianity is unacceptable? I guess you will just have to find holy people to hang with then. I prefer the company of those on the journey to those whose delusion is that they have arrived.

Sorry.


FWIW
jimB

uffda51 said...

" ... it is fascinating to be psychoanalyzed without even being known."

It is also fascinating to be pre-judged without being known.

What is the word for pre-judging the enire LGBT community based on an understanding of human sexuality that is thousands of years old? The word is prejudice. This kind of thinking it as offensive as judging character by skin color and as irrational as associating intelligence with height.

Every member of TEC was taught Leviticus. Many of us came to believe differently. We believe that the Holy Spirit, not secular pop culture, led us to this conclusion. Christianity is not a zero-sum game. It is not a game at all. There is plenty of room for all at the table.

Orgel56 said...

FWIW - From a posting "Religious Intelligence"

"...Pilgrims are required to show their badges to security guards as they enter the conference rooms. One volunteer working in security and registration drew up a list of eight names of persons he believed might seek entrance to the conference, and produced a sheet for the security guards with their names and photographs taken from the internet.

Gafcon organizers took the photo sheets from the security guards once they were discovered, but not until after a reporter for the Times of London was able to snap a photograph of the offending document. Bishop Martyn Minns told ReligiousIntelligence.com the document was not authorized by the conference and was an unfortunate error by the volunteer..."

liturgy said...

As to your point about the “plans”: at http://pastorbarclay.blogspot.com/2008/06/jerusalem-gafcon-day-3.html, Pastor Barclay writes from GAFCON “We have been asked not to comment on our blogs about details”.

Blessings

Bosco+
http://www.liturgy.co.nz

Hiram said...

I have been up to my ears in an outreach ministry to children over the past week, and I am about to leave for a family reunion – but so as to not be a “hit and run” commenter, here are a few thoughts in response to responses to me –

Fran, I did say that it was “a not very accurate metaphor.” I was not likening Christianity as a whole to a basketball game or the gathering of a political party. I was likening the GAFCON meeting to a meeting of a political party or to a pep rally. Leaders with a particular vision of what the Christian faith is have gathered to encourage one another and to make plans regarding the rest of an organization they belong to that has forgotten (it appears to us) what the original purpose of the organization is.

You say, “Honestly, if we are all about the work of the Kingdom, there must be a way to meet in that without exclusion.” Indeed – but what is the work of the Kingdom? We are disagreed on what that is, and disagreed in a major way.

Jim said, “So you can only be in communion if you can proclaim my Christianity is unacceptable? I guess you will just have to find holy people to hang with then. I prefer the company of those on the journey to those whose delusion is that they have arrived.”

Did I claim to be “holy,” to be personally without sin? Not in the least! I am a Christian because I know I am a sinner. I have not arrived, in the sense that I have not yet become all that God wants me to be. I have arrived, however, in the sense that, through faith in Christ, I am forgiven and belong to God.

If Fran, Jim, and I were to answer these three questions, it is likely that we would have different answers – different at a basic level, so that the answers were mutually exclusive.
1) Who is Jesus?
2) What was the purpose of his life?
3) What is the human predicament and how does Jesus relate to it?

While any given conservative and any given progressive may find many common areas of agreement, on the whole, the conservative and progressive sets of beliefs and the goals and means flowing from these convictions are quite different.

Again, Jim asked, “So you can only be in communion if you can proclaim my Christianity is unacceptable?” I am not quite sure what you mean by that. I do know that you would find my views on sexuality unacceptable and that it is likely that you would work very hard to be sure that, while I might have a right within the Episcopal Church to hold those views, I would not have the right to allow them to make a difference in what the church does.

I am making an assumption, but I suspect that, if I were to know your views on those three questions, I would say that they are wrong – that they do not comport with spiritual reality, and so would be of little (or no) use in helping one to know, love, and serve God.

Of course, this gets us into the question of how do we know what we know about God, if we can know anything about him at all. That is a huge question, and a question that again, we hold vastly different and even contrary views on.

And I guess one thing about where GAFCON and a great deal of “Northern and Western” Anglicanism differ is the whole question of truth. We conservatives believe that there is such a thing as Truth, and that there are positions that are not true, and that are therefore wrong and unhelpful. And it seems to me that progressives, on the whole, are willing to talk about truths, but not Truth, and think that truths may live together, even if they violate the law of non-contradiction.

There are vast differences between us. And since I, and the participants of GAFCON, would uphold the XXXIX Articles, we believe what the Anglican Church has always believed.

FranIAm said...

Not much further comment here from me, this seems a hijacking of sorts.

Hiram you have a blog but have not updated it, perhaps you wish to do so and thereby carry on a meaningful conversation and not a monologue on right or wrong.

Susan thank you for providing the discussion here.

Pax to all.