07 September 2007

Selective democracy in Fort Worth

Gotta love it. Bishop Iker of Fort Worth has posted his latest missive. In it we find this:
By the end of this month, the House of Bishops will have decided the future direction of TEC, and as a result we too will have to declare our future as a diocese. I do not expect that TEC will comply with the requests of the primates in their Dar es Salaam Communiqué. In that case, we will see further fraction and division in the Communion during the months ahead. We will then have to choose in favor of the Anglican Communion majority at the expense of our historic relationship with the General Convention Church.
Several things are worth pointing out here. First, it goes without saying that a diocese cannot leave the church, though +Iker is free to leave any time. So, on the diocesan level, a democratic vote is moot, because the concept of leaving is also moot. Second, I find it intriguing that he refers to the Episcopal Church as the "General Convention Church." Of course, Iker's love of diocesan democracy doesn't filter up. General Convention -- to which Fort Worth could send Deputies, like everyone else -- takes votes. That principal is enshrined in tradition and in the Canons & Constitution to which Iker has sworn obedience. Why does that democracy not count in his eyes?

Third, he mentions the "Anglican Communion majority." Interesting. The only one of the Instruments with a constitution, and the only one with the ability to admit or exclude members, is the Anglican Consultative Council. At their last meeting, the relevant votes passed by such narrow majorities, that if the US and Canada had not voluntarily excluded themselves, the results would have been flipped. Doesn't seem like much of a majority there.

When Iker speaks of the "majority" is he talking about primates? A very careful reading of the Dar communique, or a study of who shared the Eucharist with Bishop Rowan or Bishop Katherine may reveal a different majority than Iker imagines. Is his "majority" the number of lay people who might support his views? How would we know? I think that not very many people, a very slender minority, in fact, would like to tear the church apart over human sexuality.

So it seems to be that Iker invokes democratic principles (voting, majorities) when he fancies that the results will match his predilections. And even then, he might be mistaken.

As an aside, I found this to be of interest as well:
Pray that the Bishops of The Episcopal Church will turn back, even at this late hour, from the course they have been pursuing, a course that has sown seeds of discord and broken fellowship far and wide. Pray too for the leadership of this diocese as the realignment continues, that we may remain faithful to the received faith and practice of historic, biblical Christianity.
Personally, I find it most helpful to pray for wisdom, and for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I pray for the grace to be a faithful disciple. I think it's presumptuous in the extreme to imagine that we should ask God to buttress our own foregone conclusions, on anything. To pray for anything other than strength, wisdom, and grace is to pray in hubris. To pray for strength, wisdom, and grace is...faithful, historic, biblical, and Christian.

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