Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Who are the Schismatics?

In my previous post on GafCon, I speak of the necessity of avoiding schism. This leads us to a big question: Who are the schismatics?

In TECUSA, those who have placed themselves under the leadership of bishops answerable to Africa or South America are labled the schismatics and, from TECUSA's point of view, this is true.

But lets consider the whole Church - or at least the whole Anglican Communion. I doubt very much if we will attain sacramental union with Rome or Contstantinople any time soon (particularly on our current theological trajectory). Anyway, when we consider the whole communion, the ones who are walking apart from the rest of the communion are the ones who have changed the faith and practice of the Church.

Consider this anology. In the US Civil War, the state of Virginia voted to leave the union. It was a slave state and didn't like the Federal Government telling it what to do. However, several counties in Virginia voted to remain in the union. They formed the new state of West Virginia. This state remained separate even after Virginia rejoined the union. So, who were the "schismatics?" From the unions standpoint, the schismatics are the people of Virinia who insisted on their own autonomy and the people who formed West Virginia were loyal American citizens who desired to stay in the union. For the people of Virginia, those in West Virginia were the schismatics who would not support their fellow Virginians and wanted outside intereference in their daily lives.

The majority of bishops and clergy in TECUSA want to bless same sex unions and call homosexual sex "holy" in certain cases. This is against the teaching of the Communion. To act on this teaching against expressed will of the communion and against the knowledge that the actions will tear the fabric of the communion (and "schism" means to tear the fabric) is not to act prophetically. It is to act schismatically. The true schismatics in the Anglican Communion are those bishops and priests (and deacons and laity who support them) who bless same sex unions or participate in the ordination of men and women involved in same sex unions.

Phil Snyder


Matthew said...

Was Athanasius a schismatic at any point in his life? What about after viewing his life in its entirety?

It may be hubris (comparing the relatively small Episcopal Church with the entirety of the Church in Athanasius' time), but I keep coming back to those two questions.

plsdeacon said...

Hi Matthew,

As I said here, Athanasius was not a schismatic. He was exiled several times and he did go into the dioceses of Arian bishops and celebrate, preach, baptize, confirm, and ordain.

The problem is that heresy is schism. To choose heresy is to foment schism. That is why I take the stance that TECUSA's actions are the schimatic ones. It is not the actions of +Akinloa, +Orombi, +Venables, etc. that are schismatic. While I do have issues with how they are approaching the crisis, I cannot say that they are schimatic.

Phil Snyder