01 September 2007

What's this all really about?

Every now and then, someone finds a way to shed light on this whole Anglican Communion mess in such a way that much is revealed with new clarity. I commend to you this posting from the Anglican Centrist. I usually try to find a very brief quote, but this is a tricky one to excerpt.

Have a look at this:
The trouble with Separatists, as with madmen, as Chesterton would say, is that they are trapped in the well-lit room of one idea.

The debate over sexual ethics and the will of God is a deal breaker for some folks in itself. They admit to no new readings of Scripture other than the traditional view -- on this matter -- yet they are willing to admit a host of new readings of Scripture on other matters. There can be no debate, they say, and certainly no degree of experimentation in praxis with new readings, because to do so is unfaithfulness as they see it. Never mind that within the current faction of Separatists there are folks who disagree over the sacraments -- are they means of grace or not? There are disagreements over salvation -- i.e. is their annihilation, purgatory or eternal torture for the unsaved in this life? There are disagreements over the ordination of women, and the remarriage of divorced folks. In all of these cases people in past centuries broke communion, bodies and nations in disputation.

But now, we are to understand, the issue of homosexuality is the deal breaker. It is absurd, of course. Even the spokespeople for the Separatists will say it is not about sexuality -- and yet, that's all they point to, repeatedly, as the matter at hand.

Take Archbishop Gomez, for example, who recently preached at the consecrations in Kenya. He, the head of the Covenant Design Group, has engaged in an outright violation of the text of Windsor, and has participated in an action of the sort the latest Primates' communique speaks ill of. He has thrown in his lot, once and for all, with the Separatists. And, of course, he has bought their line of thought -- that this is not about homosexuality -- except -- in fact -- it is.

It is about homosexuality, because if it weren't for that single issue, they would have nothing around which to get find enough political heat or common cause. This is the classic wedge issue of recent times, and it is being used to divide. The claim -- or the meta claim -- is that this is all about faithfulness to Christ. But that's bogus, upon closer analysis, because all sides profess faith in Christ, and seek to live in Christ, and to do what God willeth. The only debate here is "How do we live faithfully in light of Scripture, in accordance with living tradition, and by the application of Reason (which of course involves rational thought in the context of human experience.)"

A simple intellectual test which comes in handy here illustrates that today's Separatists are indeed fixated, not on faithfulness, but on homosexuality. Imagine that instead of being homosexual, Gene Robinson were merely remarried after divorce. The Lord Jesus himself spoke to this issue -- and condemned it. Would we honestly be at the brink of Schism, and thanks to the self-righteous priggishness of Drexel Gomez and the rest, if this were so? Of course not. Or what if Gene were extremely wealthy, and tightfisted at the same time? What if he advocated for war, regularly? What if he had been a major shareholder in Enron, and was unapologetically proud of the money he made there, with full knowledge of what had gone on?
Well, yes, there it is. As I keep saying, this division we face is not really over scriptural authority, because conservatives are willing to accept innovation in other matters. It's not about rigid adherence to New Testament discipleship, because Jesus said much more about rejecting wealth than about sexuality. No, whatever else is going on, for many people this is a wedge issue, being used to drive some people out of the church while others become more powerful. Thank you for telling it like it is.

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