Monday, February 09, 2009

The "New Thing" and the Fruits of the Spirit

One thing we keep hearing regarding the issues of authority and sexuality is "The Spirit is doing a new thing."

Now this references Isaiah 43:19.

This chapter is rather interesting. The first part of the chapter (verses 1-21) talk about God loving Israel and bringing her in "from afar" and "from the end of the earth." They talk about the power and majesty of YWHW.

But, starting in chapter 22, God says:

Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob; but you have been weary of me, O Israel! You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings, or honored me with your sacrifices. I have not burdened you with offerings, or wearied you with frankincense.

You have not bought me sweet cane with money, or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices. But you have burdened me with your sins, you have wearied me with your iniquities.

I believe this is a wonderful passage to talk about sexual morality in the Church. The chapter ends:

I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Put me in remembrance, let us argue together; set forth your case, that you may be proved right. Your first father sinned, and your mediators transgressed against me.

Therefore I profaned the princes of the sanctuary, I delivered Jacob to utter destruction and Israel to reviling.

Now, I consider myself a "classic liberal." By that I mean I will be willing to discuss any topic and will change my mind when shown a better case than the one I hold. I am willing to admit that the Holy Spirit is leading us to bless same sex unions. I am willing to agree that homosexual relationships can be sacramental and that the life long union between two men and two women is blessed like the life long union of one man and one woman. But, I need evidence. Show me in Holy Scripture where this is true. Show me, out of the Apostles' Teaching where this is true. Show me the Fruits of the Spirit in this.

I am referencing Galatians 5:19-25

Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

In the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion, I see too many of the "works of the flesh." I see impurity, enmity, strife, anger, selfishness, dissension, and party spirit and I see them on all sides of this issue. I see this "new thing" bringing about schism and pain. I see it causing brothers and sisters to hate each other. I see too much name calling and personal attacks. I see the devil at work here, not the Holy Spirit of God. All of this was predicted when TECUSA started out on this course of action. We were warned of what would happen if we proceeded and we did it any way.

I ask my brothers and sisters on both sides of this issue: "Where is the gentleness in our lawsuits? Where is the patience in ACNA? Where is the self-control and the faithfulness?

John asks us to "test the spirits." In my testing of this spirit, I find it to be of the anti-christ for it breaks and tears the Body of Christ - the Church. If this "new thing" were of the Holy Spirit, I would expect to see more evidence of the fruit of the spirit rather than the works of the flesh.


Phil Snyder


Anonymous said...

"Where is the patience in ACNA".
How about a clarification on this one Phil.
Dcn Dale

plsdeacon said...


I believe that the beginnings of ACNA (starting with the Contuing Anglican Movement of the late 70s and 80s) is an expression of American impatience. Granted, it is an impatience for a Church where the leadership is not apostate or a Church that is willing and able to discipline its own. But it is an expression of impatience none the less.

I know full well the unchristian beliefs and acts of the PBs, the HOB, the HOD, and the lack of discipline from the Communion as a whole. But I still think more patience is needed. Patience is what help Athanasius win the day at Nicea and gave him strength after he was repeatedly exiled. Patience allowed the Capodocians and Hillary of Potiers to outlast the Arians at Constantinople. Patience helped Dominic and Francis reform the Church when it became enamoured of its own power and control.

I honestly believe that the uncontrolled leftward shift of TECUSA can be attributed to hundreds of thousands of conservatives who just got tired of fighting and left - either for the continuum, Rome, Constantipole, or one of our evangelical protestant brethern.

I hope that explains a little of where I am coming from.

Phil Snyder

Andy said...

Thank you Phil/ I can always count on insightful thoughts from your blog.

Anonymous said...

"I honestly believe that the uncontrolled leftward shift of TECUSA can be attributed to hundreds of thousands of conservatives who just got tired of fighting and left"
So Phil, it's our fault that TEC is such a mess? If we had stayed TEC would have stopped shifting to the left? I don't buy it. I won't question that God has called you to stay if you won't question that God has called me out of TEC. Dcn Dale

robroy said...

To paraprhase, "If the conservatives had stayed, we wouldn't be in this mess."

Conservative laity is not to blame for leaving. I put a lot of blame on conservative clergy. They valued collegiality in their club over faithfulness. They have failed miserably at differentiation (and continue to fail). Who spoke out when Gene Robinson was hamming it up at the inauguration? If the conservative laity in the pews can't see the difference between Chane and Stanton, they will leave.

Now, there is no hope. Like a rock speeding down a valley slope, it accelerates downhill. Gravitational forces "focus" it towards the bottom. It cannot escape its destiny, jumping to a different valley. (Actually, with quantum theory, it could.) Similarly, the forces are such that the liberals gather more power, act more outrageously, conservatives leave, and liberals gain more power, etc. The conservatives lost it with the Righter trial, most likely, and they didn't have the foresight to see that it was a turning point.

I don't think the ACNA (and continuing churches) have acted too quickly, rather, they may have acted too slowly. Without the ACNA, Anglicanism will be lost in North America. They may have waited to long to form. Critical mass may have been missed.

May our good Lord bless you, your family and your ministries.

plsdeacon said...

Robroy - I agree that the conservative clergy (especially the Bishops) failed to defend the faith strongly enough. They were too concerned about collegiality and failed to discern the differences between broadness in the expression of the faith (the true Anglican broadness) and broadness in the faith itself.

But too many laity (beginning in the 60s and 70s) left rather than stay and fight for the faith. If all the Anglican continuum had rallied together within TEC, then I doubt that the reappraisers would be in the position they are in today.

Having said that, I am not NOT blaming those who left for the liberal apostacy I see. It is not the fault of conservative clergy or conservative laity that the liberals schemed and planned and have acheived their prominence.

But they did it with our help. We didn't fight when the battle was small and winnable. So, now the battle is large and unwinnable by human strength alone. Seeing the overwhelming force arrayed against us, I don't blame soldiers for leaving.

I also know I may be wrong. The path of faithfulness to God and His Church may flow through ACNA. We have the same goals - a faithful and orthodox Anglican Christianity in North America.

Perhaps I'll post more of that today.

Phil Snyder

Anonymous said...

TEC is not overrun by the infidels, It has been a well orchestrated capture by the few. It only takes a handful of people to control a parish and then a Diocese and then a Province. There is another area that draws less attention but is no less important. The seminaries in TEC no longer teach or tolerate Orthodoxy. Even moderate professors would not be hired. Jacob Preus cleansed the LCMS seminary in St. Louis as President of the Synod and saved the LCMS for conservatism. At that point it was no where near as liberal as the TEC seminaries are now. Dcn Dale