Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Quotes of Note for the Week Before New Orleans

They'll be "Leavin' On A Jet Plane" pretty soon -- our bishops to gather in New Orleans for their House of Bishops Meeting, September 18-25. Lots of speculation and anticipation, rattling of sabers and binging on bread of anxiety and as I'm knee deep in Homecoming preparations here at Parish Ministry Central speculating on what the bishops will or will not do in New Orleans next week is going to have to wait until next week!

The best I can offer at this point is to remind myself -- and anybody else who'd like to come along for the ride -- that at our best we are really quite fine exemplars of building bridges and seeking and serving Christ is all persons -- even those with whom we disagree. Here are a few quotes that stand out for me in that regard ...

From John Sentamu, Archbishop of York:

The thing that unites all Christians is our faith in the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and what makes us Christians is that we participate in the death and resurrection of Christ. The other thing to remember is that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace. As long as someone does not deny the very basic doctrines of the Church - the creation, the death, the resurrection of Christ and human beings being made in the image of God - then the rest really
helps but they are not the core message. And I haven’t found that in ECUSA or in Canada, where I was recently, they have any doubts in their understanding of God which is very different from anybody. What they have quarrelled about is the nature of sexual ethics.

From Charles Jenkins, Bishop of Louisiana:

A failure to find a way forward together shall not simply hurt each and every one of us, but as sin is always communal in its effects, our failures will hurt the poor and needy whom we serve and to whom mercy is a symbol of hope. The Anglican Communion is engaged in a huge ministry of justice, mercy, and compassion around the world. If we give in to the sin of self-absorption, our souls shall surely be hardened but it is the poor who will suffer most. No matter which side of the issue of human sexuality you believe to be of God, I
suggest that if you really want to break the heart of God, you should work to make the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as absorbed with itself and her disagreements as is possible.

From Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire:

I think we are at a moment in the Anglican Communion and the world where there is a lot of oppression going on, but it cuts both ways. The reason I am desperate to stay connected to the Global South and the Anglican Communion is that I need them for my salvation. I don’t know how else I am going to understand the injustice I participate in and benefit from that is perpetuated
on the rest of the world by the United States. That is also why we need to stick together as an Episcopal Church. The worst sin of all is to walk away from the table.

From Michael Hopkins, Past-President of Integrity USA:

This movement is not about getting our way or else. This movement is a means to further the healthy debate within the Church, to deepen it on a theological level, to begin to articulate how we see the blessing of same-sex unions as a part of the Church’s moving forward in mission rather than hindering mission. We believe that it is time for the church to claim the blessing found in the lives of its faithful lesbian and gay members and to further empower them for the mission of the Church. We are trying to find a way forward in this endeavor that holds as much of this church we love together as possible. We ask all our fellow-Episcopalians to join us even if they disagree with us.

Those would be your bridge builders. Let us rejoice and be glad in them!

But also hard at work, sadly, are the bridge-blower-uppers ... and the case in point for that perspective would be Matt Kennedy -- of Stand Firm Website Fame -- whose comments on Bishop Jenkins' pastoral letter are nothing less than a demand that we surrender Dorothy (and her little dog, too!) OR ELSE!

A helpful reminder, I think, that those insisting that schism is inevitable are those invested in making it happen -- and that there IS NO COMPROMISE that will be sufficient unto their day. But don't take my word for it -- here it is from one of the horse's mouths:

The problem is not "broken unity". That is simply one result of the problem. The problem is that false teachers are leading souls toward damnation. The prescription, the solution, the end or goal then must not be about "finding a way forward together". There is no via media between heresy and faithfulness. Those who have adopted a view that is contrary to the scriptures must recant and repent. That is the line that must be drawn. That is "the way forward together."



Anonymous said...

powerful quotes....all of them including the last.

This one especially spoke to my heart:

"No matter which side of the issue of human sexuality you believe to be of God, I suggest that if you really want to break the heart of God, you should work to make the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as absorbed with itself and her disagreements as is possible."

yes. but. what if... also mattered deeply to the heart of God whether something God thought as deeply wrong was celebrated as good?

I have, truly, a heartfelt understanding that to even suggest this may be true for same sex sexual relationships is saying that God may not favor something that some people deeply celebrate as good.

And I strongly agree that this is isn't about the internal disagreements of the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion.

Actually I even strongly believe this isn't about human sexuality.

From what I can dimly (and humbly) perceive, this is all about how one discerns the heart of God.


Anonymous said...

My hope and prayer may be a simple one, but does it not really boil down to loving each other as Christ loves us? I know that as a Gay man that the only One I have to answer to is Christ as I try to love Him with all my heart, mind and soul.

May God open both hearts and minds at the Bishop's meeting.

Anonymous said...

I beleive that Matt Kennedy is sincere in his beliefs.....but they are not Anglican beliefs. There is no "my way or the highway" in this church. It seems to me that those who join Kennedy should build a new church, complete with their doctrines set in stone and their covenants and their narrow minded (in my view) mid-20th century theology. It not the Episcopal Church. It's not the Anglican Church. Let's admit it and let them move on to Nigeria or Uganda or other bastions of backward Christianity. the rest of us will move forward.


Ecgbert said...

IMO what will happen no matter which side 'wins' the Episcopal row:

A few parishes will split, a few others will be squashed and 99 per cent of Episcopalians won't be affected in any way.

Bateau Master said...

Oh if only the ECUSA could retain 99% of its ASA or even members from one year to the next. No, this will affect 2 to 5 percent per year for the next 5 years. So the best we can hope for is 90% of Episcopalians won't be affected in any way. It could go as low as 75%

Anonymous said...

May the schism come -- and right now! TEC will decline and then rise again as a faithful church. The vapid, insipid theology has been going on for years, leaving the church merely absorbed into the equally vapid and insipid modern culture (The NY diocese has dropped from 140,000 to 60,000 since 1960). This gay stuff is just one of several symptoms. Let the schism come NOW.

Ecgbert said...

Good point, Bateau Master. I shall have to remember that. Thank you!