12 September 2007

Lost perspective

I've been accused of being insane, so maybe I shouldn't be casting aspersions. That said, I think the Diocese of Pittsburgh is joining the growing herd of conservatives headed away from the Land of Reality.

Today we learn that the Diocese of Pittsburgh is planning to expand itself to, well, the whole world. At least any parish that they like will be free to sign up. Anywhere. On the planet. Guess that's quite a promotion for +Bob Duncan. Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and All Places. I guess, with that kind of geographic spread, maybe we should be calling him Archbishop or Pontiff or something. Maybe the purple shirt people are getting into cahoots with the white vestment people.

Anyway, I digress. Mark Harris+ has done a thorough job of walking us through the many problems of some proposed resolutions for their Diocesan Convention. (Soon they'll be renaming that to Interplanetary Convention?) To name a few problems: Canterbury will not enjoy having individual dioceses decide which provinces they align with; Canterbury will not enjoy having dioceses take on parishes any old place; these changes are moot, because they're flatly in contradiction to the Constitution & Canons of the Episcopal Church. Again, go read Mark's incisive analysis.

Here's what I'll add. This is from the press release:
The Episcopal Church has been steadily moving away from biblical Christianity for more than 30 years. Church leaders are on record denying basic Christian truths, especially concerning the uniqueness of atonement and salvation by Jesus Christ and the primacy of Scripture in determining moral and theological teaching.
OK, the first sentence should be re-written to read: "The Episcopal Church has been steadily moving theologically, just as Christianity has done for the preceding two millennia." The second sentence is true, and I agree this is a problem. In some future posting, I'll be happy rant about my sisters and brothers on the left who have done all of the above. It's a problem, though a much smaller one than some people imagine. I'm a Nicene Christian, and I think any Anglican cleric should be the same. Most of the progressive priests I know are solidly orthodox. As far as biblical moral teaching goes, the Bible has much more to say about economics than sex (if you actually bother to read it), and I don't hear much about that topic emanating from Pittsburgh or Abuja. Money and power are major points of moral and theological teaching. Who has sex with whom is important, but it's a minor point compared with other things.

Now, this is my favorite bit of delicious irony. Pay attention to this. ECUSA leaders are accused of denying the "uniqueness of atonement and salvation by Jesus Christ." Just a few weeks ago, the very same Bob Duncan is reported to have stood in front of a bunch of people and said that "This is Good Friday and we have to face it."

No, Good Friday was when Jesus Christ died as part of God's salvation of the world. Your own problems, and those of your conservative friends are merely inconveniences to you. No one is dying, and it is certainly not part of the atonement. The atonement was a one-time affair. Check it out, maybe in Article 31.

So, whatever you might accuse us progressives of in the Department of Theological Confusion, do not preach to us about confusing atonement and salvation. I can't speak for others, but I believe I get it. And it has everything to do with Jesus Christ, and very little to do with the Anglican Communion Network's woes.

This time, I'm afraid it's Pittsburgh's Diocesan Council and their good bishop who may have lost touch with Anglican reality.

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