Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Rock

I remember this story from several years ago.

There was a man who lived alone on a mountain. Outside his cabin, there was a very large and heavy rock.

God spoke to the man and said: "Every morning, for 1 hour each day, I want you to push with all your strength against this rock.

The man, being faithful, agreed and for several weeks, he strained at pushing the rock, but the rock would not move.

One day, Satan spied the man pushing the rock and came to him while pushing and said:
"Why do you push against the rock?"

"Because God told me to" the man said.

"Why?" Satan asked. "You will never move it. You can't possibly succeed. All you are doing is waisting your time pushing against something that you can never move. You could even hurt yourself if you push too hard."

The man thought for a bit and said: "You know? You're right." He continued to push each day, but pushed with less force than before. One day, he stopped pushing.

God came to the man and asked why he stopped pushing. "Because I'll never move the rock. I might even hurt myself if I continue to push with all my strength.

God said to the man: "I never asked you to move the rock. I asked you to push against it. Now your arms and legs are stronger than ever before. Your back is fit for the work I prepared for you. You have made yourself less useful because you didn't push against the rock. Push hard for a little longer and you will be ready for the work I am to give you."

I hope you see the parallel between this story and the present situation in the ECUSA. Those of us on the "conservative" or reasserter or traditionalist side of the issue are getting tired of pushing against the rock that is the wayward ECUSA. We fear that we will never be successful. That is not our call. We are called to be faithful and to continue to witness to the Truth concerning Biblical Authority and the traditional expression of Anglicanism.

Phil Snyder

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Giving and Taking Offense.

In the last few weeks, months, even years in our society, we have been too quick to take offense at some slight, perceived or real.

See my post below on the blog comment exchange I had with Elizabeth Kaeton. I used the term "reappraiser" thinking it was emotionally neutral. She took offense at it. Now, being human, we will always be confronted by people who offend out of ignorance - and out of a desire to offend (unfortunately).

As Christians, what should our response be? I find that I am not far wrong when I assume that someone doesn't mean to offend. I often try to educate the offendor that his/her actions or words are offensive. Most of the time, people offend out of ignorance and not out of spite.

What do we do, then, with those who desire to offend? First, I think the most effective thing we can do is to not take offense. They are trying to get a rise out of us. We should react with love and charity towards the offensive people. It disarms them! Particularly in the little cyber-wars we have been having. I find it effective to let my "opponent" rant and rage while I remain (or try to) cool and reasonable. The best defense against offensive speech is to the the offender keep talking! The whole world will see what an ingorant and offensive and close-minded person they are.

How, then, should we behave in our dealings. We will offend someone. We should never never use epithets like "bottom feeder" or "priestess" or "nazi" let alone other epithets. If we find that we have used a term that offends someone, ask for education as to why it is offensive and then find a way to not use it. Sometimes we will be successful and sometimes we won't be successful in not attempting to offend. When in debate, we should always engage the other person's arguments and not their persons.

In short, we need more charity on all sides of the discussion. You cannot claim the "other side" is offensive when you are using terms like "bottom feeder" or "priestess."

Phil Snyder

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Yesterday, a post on Brad Drell's blog directed me to a post on Elizabeth Kaeton's blog that talked about the aftermath of Columbus among those who support blessing SSU and ordaining men and women in sexually active homosexual relationships. She discussed the "evil" that occured in Columbus and how many people were in tears over resolution B033 - the resolution that urged standing committees and Bishops with jurisdiction not to consent to the election as bishop of anyone whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider Anglican Communion. One resolution went against them and they were in tears. I have always been curious as to why people support overturning 2000 years of Church Teaching on the issue of sexuality so I wanted to know her reasoning. I really want a conversation on this and want to know why, beyond "I think it should be this way." Here is my first comment on her post

I have asked several of my reappraising brothers and sisters to justify changing the moral teaching on this and to use biblical and traditional support. So far, none have done this. Can you show me a biblical example of God blessing homosexual sex? Can you show in tradition where it was called blessed?
It is not the orientation that is a bar to ordination, it is calling "sin" "not sin." It is saying that God blesses homosexual sex when Scripture is unequivocally against homosexual sex and calls it "sin" every time it is addressed.
Please help me understand your moral thinking on this. From where I sit, it seems to be "There are several people who naturally are attracted to members of the same sex, so God must have created them that way and homosexual sex (in the right contexts) is good and blessed.
Phil Snyder

Mother Kaeton (and the title is meant respectfully, not sarcastically. She is a priest and that office deserves resepct) seemed to take offense at my post and claimed that I was ignorant of the issues or the arguments. At first, she replies pointing me to several documents I have already read. She claims she is too tired of defending her position. She points me to Integrity and to Claiming the Blessing. She then claimed ignorance of the terms "reappraiser" and "reasserter." She wrote to me in a comment: "I only know that I am called a "reappraiser" when I refuse to accept what someone else defines as "orthodoxy," or their image of God and their image of Jesus.I think there is a word for that, Phil. It's called idolotry."

I took that to mean she thinks I am guilty or close to idolatry. I actually believe that I should accept the Church's definition of "orthodoxy" and not my own. That is part of what being a catholic Christian is about - submitting our own beliefs and our own wills to the Will of God and to the teachings of the Church.

I again asked her for her reasoning. I am really curious about this. She mentioned that she is "a Christian who considers herself conservative on ecclesiology and progressive on issues of social justice." I remarked:

How you can claim to be "conservative on ecclesiology" while ignoring the
unified and historical condemnation of homosexual acts by the universal Church
is beyond me. I have read the documents you mentions (well, most of them) and
their arguments underwhelm me. They sound like so much of the rationalization
that I do for my own sins. I am not ignorant of the arguments. I wanted your
reasoning on the issue - how you came to your decision in the face of
scriptural, traditional evidence to the contrary as well as the unifed voice of
the Anglican "Instruments of Unity" asking us not to proceed with consecrating

Yes, the Church has spent much time discussing this topic and
everytime (until either 2000 or 2003, depending on how you read certain
resolutions), a decision was reached, that decision stated that homosexual sex
was not blessed and that the Church should not bless same sex unions nor ordain
those living in a same sex sexual relationship. A person with "conservative
ecclesiology" would look at that and agree that the Church teaching is what it
is and then strive to follow it. A person of conscience would, if he or she
could not teach what the Church teaches, resign any position of leadership that
requires teaching what the Church teaches.

You did not do that.

She then went into a tirade

And now, here, for you, 'his majesty," I'm to give my own "reasoning on the
issue - how you came to your decision in the face of scriptural, traditional
evidence to the contrary as well as the unifed voice of the Anglican
"Instruments of Unity" asking us not to proceed with consecrating +Robinson."Umm
. . . do you think I have nothing else to do with my time but to respond
personally to you?Especially when you and I know that NOTHING I say will
persuade you?Please, don't even try to convince me that you are intentional
about a serious conversation. You, like David Anderson, stay in the Episcopal
Church because “you like a good fight.”Sorry, I love Jesus way more than that.
I’ve got too much He wants me to do to get into a word fight or a useless
exercise in scriptural gymnastics for that foolishness.If and when you are
serious about a conversation, I have already told you what to do: Call my
office. Get my number. We'll talk – I’ll even try to arrange a face to face
meeting – like the Christians we say we are.Otherwise, go lurk about T19 or
Drell’s Descants where you can be with people who think and act and pray as you
do and all will be well with your world.

I responded to her comment to the effect that she had showed me the back of her cyber hand and I would not comment on her site any more.

In the midst of all this, Greg Griffith spotted the her post and my comments and wrote a post about it on Standing Firm.

Well, Mother Kaeton went ballistic when she found out that Standing Firm had commented on this:

Okay, boys and girls, here's the deal. Someone tipped me off to a little service
which helps me track the number of visitors I get to this site.What I didn't
realize is that it also helps me track where the visitors are from as well as
the origin of their post. Turns out that "Your Brother in Christ Phil" is only a
brother in Christ by baptism, by certainly not by spirit - which is pretty mean,
low down and nasty. He is a Deacon in Plano, Tx who has a website called STAND
FIRM. Turns out, he has been baiting me, which I knew all along and why I would
not answer him directly, so that he can reprint my comments and let others, like
Marty here, have an absolute "bottom feeders" banquet.Bottom feeders, of course,
are those fish in the tank that survive - indeed, thrive - on all the "garbage"
(ahem) cast off by all the other fish in the tank.It's amazing. Honestly.Put on
your asbestos pumps and venture forth into the LaLa Land of the Neo-Orthodox and
'see how these Christians love one another.' Not!

Did I mention that neither Marty nor Phil took me up on my offer to have an authentic conversation? You know, like REAL Christians?Needless to say, we won't be hearing from brother Phil or brother Marty again - not in this space, anyway.

I am not part of the people who run Standing Firm. I only comment on there. I don't consider myself to be a "bottom feeder" and I was not baiting her. I was looking for a serious conversation - one in the open where all could see our responses. I have had several of these in the past and have always been edified by them. I have changed my opinions on things because of conversations I've had. I will take up the challenge to email her and see if I can start the conversation again. However, I doubt it will be possible. I am now, according to her "mean, low down and nasty." I challenge here to show any post or comment of mine that is "mean, low down and nasty."

Mother Kaeton, if you read this, know that I did not intend to offend, but to learn. I don't want to hurt, but to heal (myself included). It is important to me that I have the right (e.g. God's) take on this. I am not saying that my take is God's, but that I want to know and understand and hold God's take on this and all issues.

Phil Snyder