Friday, July 17, 2009

We've been here before

With the passage of D025 (saying that sexually active homosexuals can and are called to be bishops) and C056 (asking the SCLM to develop "liturgical resources" for blessing same sex unions) the Episcopal Church has told the Anglican Communion "we don't want to be a part of you - except on our own terms." I am saddened beyond words.

But the Church has been here before. Over the centuries, the people of God have turned away from God time and time again. They have "forsaken thy covenant" (I Kings 19:14). Everytime the people of God turned their backs on God, they suffered consequences and I belive this time is no different. But in every time there has been a faithful remnat - even if it is a small one. This time is no different.

Israel turned its back on God several times, but neither Elijah nor Isaiah, neither Ezekiel nor Jeremiah took God's people away. They stayed and witnessed and died among "a people of unclean lips." They maintained their covenant with God through the apostacy and eventual exile of God's people.

Anthony didn't start another church when he went to he desert because the church in his day (3rd century) had become too enamored of power and wealth.

Athanasius didn't start another church when he was exiled himself and the Church was too focused on political power after having become the State Church.

The Cappodocians didn't start another church when the Church declared itself Arian in the middle of the fourth century.

Neither Francis nor Dominic started another church when the Church in their day became too focused on secular power and approval.

When the CofE had become simply a religious laminate on an ungodly society, Wesley didn't leave it. He worked to reform it from within and did not succeed in his lifetime! In fact, his followers were kicked out of the Church.

In all these cases, the prophets and leaders for reform in their day did not live to see the fruits of their labors. We may not live to see a wholesome Episcopal Church in the USA. But I have faith to God will call the Church to Himself again - just as He called the people of Israel back to the desert to woo them in Hosea.

We need to recover the spirit of those early reformers and the spirit of the prophets. We need to be true to our covenant and work to reform our own lives and the lives of our congregations. We need to recover the prophetic voice and action that is our inheiritance. We need to be more faithful in prayer and study and ministry.

Tonight, let us weep for the good that was PECUSA, ECUSA, TEC.

Tomorrow let us rise and set our faces towards God - the only one who can reform TEC!

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

16 comments:

Robert said...

There is in truth and always has been only one Church. There are many denominations and they rise and fall.

We have all "left our denomination" in some sense. In the West, the Roman Catholics were the original denomination, and most protestants and Anglicans alike usually don't even think about the schism upon which the existence of their denomination depends. The Anglicans had a particularly nasty schism from Rome, to satisfy a kings lust for sex and power in fact. We can't even claim a noble cause for it.

As long as you don't leave the Church, the real one, it doesn't matter which denomination you nominally belong to. The people in the ACNA certainly have had just cause to leave, and are no doubt serving God in that as much as you might serve God in staying in this decadent and worldly denomination as a permanent Jeremiah.

If you feel called to that unenviable fate, that is what you should do and may God help you to do it. But I think that the people who leave in favor of the ACNA are equally serving. I certainly think their decision is amply justified.

BillyD said...

".. the Episcopal Church has told the Anglican Communion "we don't want to be a part of you - except on our own terms."...
But the Church has been here before. Over the centuries, the people of God have turned away from God time and time again."


You go from the Episcopal Church turning away from the Anglican Communion to the Episcopal Church turning away from God. That's quite a leap, Phil.

plsdeacon said...

Billy,

Yes. I believe that TEC took a big step and turned away from God. Sin is, after all, turning away from God and TEC has now called "sin" "holy" and agreed that it is blessed and should be blessed. Combined with the "serialy monogamy" (one spouse at a time) practice in many dioceses, TEC has said that sexual expression is more important than community or communion or the Word of God.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

BillyD said...

I know that's what you believe, but it's not what you write in your post. You merely take it for granted that the Anglican Communion (well, specifically, those parts of the Anglican Communion with which you agree) and the mind of God are pretty much the same.

Of course, you've never managed to explain why homosexuality is the one thing about which we can never change our collective mind about being a sin. Lots of other things used to be considered sinful, and the Anglican Communion has no problem with them today. But bring up homosexuality, and people start talking about the Church's "unchanging standards." All you've managed to say about them is that the AC isn't as het up about them as it is about homosexuality, which isn't an explanation at all. What makes homosexuality categorically different these other erstwhile sins?

plsdeacon said...

Billy, there is a difference between tolerating, accepting, and blessing. No one (well, almost no one) is suggesting that TEC bless divorce. I suspect that will be the next "new liturgy" after SSBs. Likewise, no one is blessing the charging of interest. No one is saying that divorce is a positive good or that it is holy.

We tolerate divorce and remarriage because, as Jesus said, we are a hard hearted people. God made those provisions because of our sinfulness. There are times that divorce is the lesser evil, but it is never good. Likewise, charging interest is not considered a positive good. At best, it is considered something that we cannot do without in Western economics. The muslims only get away with not charging interest by lying about what they are doing. By their definition, we don't charge "interest" either.

What is happening now is that the Church has officially said that what the rest of the Church Catholic believes to be sin is "holy." Have you forgotten that the Orthodox Church in America will no longer even talk to TEC, but will begin a dialogue with ACNA. This is not just an Anglican Communion issue. It is a Church catholic issue.

By calling "holy" what God calls "sin" TEC has turned its back on him. By not listening to the rest of the Church, TEC has turned its back on the Church.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

BillyD said...

Toleration vs. blessing has little to do with it. It wasn't Bishop Robinson's getting his relationship blessed that caused the commotion over his consecration. If it were about toleration, his status as a non-celibate gay man would have been as little newsworthy as the consecration of a remarried divorcé, or a banker, or someone who likes blood sausage.

And you are being more than a little disingenuous about divorce. No, we don't bless divorce. What we do is bless divorcés. After all, it's not the divorce that's the problem - it's the marriage after the divorce.

"God made those provisions because of our sinfulness."

Hhhmm. God made those provisions under the Law of Moses because of our hardness of heart. Jesus (as you very well know) says otherwise.

"Likewise, charging interest is not considered a positive good."

So, if your pension fund were not invested so as to make interest, you wouldn't see that as a bad thing?

And the dietary restrictions in Acts 15? And birth control?

As far as the OCA is concerned - well, they're involved in their own international power struggle, and Metropolitan Jonah's little dance with ACNA is part of that.

For the sake of argument, though, let's say that instead of the Episcopal Church exploring the possibility of SSBs, we said "We're not going to bless it, but we're going to tolerate it, just like we do charging interest or the remarriage of divorced people." Are you saying that you'd have no objection? Frankly, I find that hard to believe. I certainly suspect that all the hoopla from the Global South™ would have gone on as scheduled.

texanglican said...

Deacon, I'm afraid that Athanasius is not really the best representative for your argument. In fact, frequently Athanasius did not recognize the legitimacy of the Arian bishops in the eastern empire, and he even went so far as to recognize a parallel orthodox jurisdiction in Antioch (that of the Nicene Paulinus) rather than have communion with the heretical Arians reigning over most of the Christians there. Personally Athanasius' position was very much like that of the ACNA today. When the heretical church authorities in the eastern Roman empire hounded him from his see city, much as TEC has hounded the orthodox from their homes, he appealed to "overseas" orthodox bishops for support, namely the bishops of Rome and the other leaders of the Western Church. The Roman church recognized Athanasius as the legitimate bishop of Alexandria, much as many overseas primates would recognize +Jack Leo Iker as the legitimate bishop of Fort Worth rather than +Ted Gulick. In the case of Antioch Athanasius recognized the legitimacy of the orthodox Paulinus in Antioch, even though the majority of Antiochenes were still attending parishes loyal to the Arian archbishops of Antioch rather than Paulinus' tiny Nicene congregation. Athanasius did not "start a new church," but neither has ACNA. Instead, Athanasius operated a parallel, orthodox jurisdiction to provide a home for the faithful in contrast to the heterodox ecclesiastical majority in his part of the empire and he had the help of the orthodox leaders in the West in doing it.

plsdeacon said...

Toleration v. Blessing has everything to do with it! When Robinson was elected and consecrated, it was passive approval of his relationship.

Sin (and divorce is a sin and the result of past sins) is missing the mark. We bless (and I agree that we do it too often) second marriages because they are an attempt to hit the mark. We cannot bless an attempt to hit the wrong mark.

Texanglican - I know that Athanasius crossed boundries and baptized, confirmed, and ordained in the territory of Arian bishops. I would love to see ACNA and the orthodox in TEC combine to fight the revisionists. While I do not see myself called to ACNA, (rather I see myself called to fight the regard action), I do pray for ACNA's success and I believe that +Iker is the bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth and that the property belongs with him and the diocesan structure.

But the schisms wrought by TEC are very hurtful. They have set natural allies against each other. I wish that it were otherwise and want to work to make it so. Will you commit to pray for us in Dallas and the faithful remnant that have not bent the knee to Baal?

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

BillyD said...

"Toleration v. Blessing has everything to do with it! When Robinson was elected and consecrated, it was passive approval of his relationship.

Sin (and divorce is a sin and the result of past sins) is missing the mark. We bless (and I agree that we do it too often) second marriages because they are an attempt to hit the mark."

No, Phil, this is simply wrong. From the traditional point of view, the problem is not the divorce, but the remarriage. That's why remarried Roman Catholics cannot receive the Sacraments - not because they committed the "sin" of divorce (which is seen as a civil arrangement of no consequence to the binding nature of the Sacrament of Marriage) but because they tried to contract an adulterous marriage - and the ongoing second marriage is a continuing sinful act.

By the way, I noticed that you did not answer the question I put to you in the last paragraph of my last post (or any others in that post).

plsdeacon said...

Billy,

First, divorce is the problem as well as remarriage. But Jesus did allow for divorce in some instances (marital unfaithfulness). So, will you work to get TEC's remarrage guidelines back into line with Scripture?

Will I "tolerate" gay couples in the Church if they were not clammouring for blessing their unions? Yes. I believe that the Global South would not have a major problem with this because they did not have a problem with it until the Chruch started to bless them publicly.

It sounds to me like your "why didn't they break fellowship after..." arguments are nothing but envious whining. "They (whoever they are) got their sin approved, so why can't we get ours approved?" That sounds much like a 5 year old saying that its not fair that he gets a time out when his sister didn't get a time out for something he (but not the parents) considers just as bad. Beware of envy - it focuses you too much on other people (in the wrong way) and does not allow you to see your own blessings and your own faults.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

BillyD said...

But Jesus did allow for divorce in some instances (marital unfaithfulness).

You might want to read http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2000/0007bt.asp for a critique of this idea. Whether you buy the interpretation of that one verse in Matthew as allowing for divorce and remarriage or not, interpreting it that way represents a tremendous shift from the previously held view of the indissolubility of marriage.

Will I "tolerate" gay couples in the Church if they were not clammouring for blessing their unions? Yes. I believe that the Global South would not have a major problem with this because they did not have a problem with it until the Chruch started to bless them publicly.

That is simply not a factual statement. The Global South™ started the border crossings long before, and it wasn't SSBs that started it. It was ordaining gay people. There are, of course, no similar protests about ordaining bankers.

It sounds to me like your "why didn't they break fellowship after..." arguments are nothing but envious whining.

Why, thank you, Phil.

Actually (and I know that you will have a hard time believing this), but I consider what I'm doing ministering to you. I'm trying to get you to understand the rank hypocrisy of claiming that you hold steadfastly to supposedly unchanging standards regarding Scripture and Tradition. You do not. You allow for the adaptation of the Church's approach on many fronts - except this one. What you do is resort to special pleading to excuse those other adaptations.

By the way - envious? No. I neither aspire to having a Church wedding or being consecrated a bishop.

plsdeacon said...

Billy,

As I intimated before, ordination of a person invovled in a sexual relationship outside of marriage is a tacit blessing of that relationship. It is saying that the person's sexual expression is not sinful when Scripture clearly says it is. Unless you can show me where homosexual sex is blessed in Scripture, I submit that it will always be sinful. That is the whole point!

BTW, the Roman Catholic church does allow for remarriage after a civil divorce. The parties just have to pay a fee to get the divorce annuled - a statement that a sacramental marriage never took place. For marriage and remarriage after divorce, TEC has a similar process (though not as involved). See Canon I.19.2(a) and I.19.3.

In both cases, a judgment is made by the Bishop (or other competant authority) that a sacramental marriage did not exist, so the person is not really getting "remarried". Now I believe that TEC's process is much too easy to obtain the necessary jugement, but that is another issue. The majority of conservatives I know agree with me and would love to see the process tightened up. It was not the conservatives of the 70s that pushed this. It was the progressives of the 70s that pushed it.

BTW, it still seems you are shouting "it's not fair!"

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

texanglican said...

"Will you commit to pray for us in Dallas and the faithful remnant that have not bent the knee to Baal?"

Indeed, Deacon, I already do pray for you all on a regular basis. I will up it a daily basis in light of GenCon09.

May God prosper your work for his Kingdom, and bless you and your family.

BillyD said...

As I intimated before, ordination of a person invovled in a sexual relationship outside of marriage is a tacit blessing of that relationship.

Oh, well - we wouldn't want the Church to ordain someone who was involved in sin, now would we? How comforting to know that by keeping the gays out we are eliminating sin from the ranks of the clergy...

Face it, Phil - the GS treated (and treats) this particular "sin" as different from others.

BTW, the Roman Catholic church does allow for remarriage after a civil divorce. The parties just have to pay a fee to get the divorce annuled - a statement that a sacramental marriage never took place.

In the first place, the fee has nothing to do with it. In the second, it's a little more complicated than paying the fee and getting the annulment. The annulment tribunal does not just rubberstamp the civil court's decision.

For marriage and remarriage after divorce, TEC has a similar process (though not as involved). See Canon I.19.2(a) and I.19.3.

Uh, no, we do not. What we do is make sure that the civil courts have pronounced as to the validity or termination of the marriage, ask the bishop to confirm that judgment. This is different than the RC approach in kind - especially since there is no such thing in the traditional view as "termination of marriage."

BTW, it still seems you are shouting "it's not fair!"

Wow, you must have some sensitive ears, Deacon. I am saying that it isn't fair, but that's not nearly the whole of it. And btw, it still sounds like you're in denial.

BillyD said...

Will you commit to pray for us in Dallas and the faithful remnant that have not bent the knee to Baal?

Wow - talk about demonizing your opponents! Literally!

Robert said...

I am not at all surprised that the Orthodox church won't dialogue with TEC anymore.

Hopefully the future will bring closer relations among those who still believe in gospel Christianity, whether Anglican, Orthodox, Catholic, or other denomination.