22 November 2007

A conservative says no to schism

Thanks to Fr. Jake, I ran across this essay:
...This past summer, Bishop Duncan instructed my wife and hundreds of other readers in the diocese to omit the prayer for Katharine. Katharine Jefferts Schori has been a frequent target for conservatives in the U.S. church ever since she was elected presiding bishop last year. Coming on the heels of the installation of an active and outspoken homosexual bishop, the elevation of a woman of liberal sympathies seemed a bridge too far for many conservatives.

It appeared at the time that omitting the prayer for Katharine was a steppingstone to where the bishop was really trying to take us -- outside of the Episcopal Church. You see, to include Katharine in the prayers was to acknowledge her office, and to acknowledge her office was to acknowledge our obligation to her...

...Secession is not the biblical pattern of resistance to flawed authority...

...On Oct. 31., the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA sent a letter to the bishop of Pittsburgh, directing him not to split the diocese from the denomination. Bishop Duncan replied by quoting Martin Luther, "Here I stand. I can do no other."

It's a powerful quote, but a misuse of history. Martin Luther didn't leave the Roman Catholic Church; he was kicked out. He decided to "stand" and fight. It's ironic that Bishop Duncan quoted Luther's pledge to "stand" in order to justify his intention to "walk"...

...Yes, there are times when it's necessary to leave one authority for another. When the New Testament writers were forced to deal with this issue, they concluded that they were compelled to obey higher authority at all times, except when it commanded them to disobey God. Roman Emperors were monstrous beasts. The church preached against them and prayed for them to repent, but Christians still obeyed the law. It wasn't until Rome ordered them to stop preaching the gospel and to offer sacrifices to Caesar that the early church was forced to disobey.

By analogy, New Hampshire can install a whole pride of gay bishops, but we don't break our oath of loyalty to the Episcopal Church until they order us to start installing them here.

Until then, the pattern of David and Jesus holds: Be faithful. Be patient. Be active in good works. And be in prayer for all in authority ... "for Katharine, our presiding bishop; Robert and Henry, our bishops; and Jay, our priest, I pray. Lord, hear our prayer."
This articulates what I've been saying for some time. No one is forcing Pittsburgh out of ECUSA, other than Bob Duncan. No one says GLBT bishops need to minister there. What's Duncan's hurry to leave, and to do so in a way that scapegoats others?

One point that also seems to be worth raising: I find it shocking that a bishop would ask people not to pray for another. Can someone confirm if this is true? And, for the sake of discussion, suppose I felt that Bishop Katharine were my enemy -- would it not behoove me to pray for her all the more? That, Bishop Duncan, is what the Bible says.

Our prayer book at various places asks us to pray for our Presiding Bishop. On what authority do you, as a diocesan bishop, pretend to say that the prayer book is to be read willy-nilly? Do you see the irony of accusing progressives of selective reading while you practice the same? Or are rubrics fiction, like ECUSA itself? This all points to the ridiculous place we now find ourselves. Reality itself seems to be on the wane, so reasoned discourse becomes increasingly difficult. Alas.

1 comment:

Hidden One said...

"What's Duncan's hurry to leave, and to do so in a way that scapegoats others?"

And if government forces start messing up the house of the guy next door in a way that is immoral, I expect you to remain relatively silent and not to make any effort to leave and take your family with you. Clearly, Duncan's taken it upon himself to move his sheep away from this pack of wolfish theologians before they compel him to let his flock get eaten. It's hardly scapegoating on his part to make clear why he's leaving.

"One point that also seems to be worth raising: I find it shocking that a bishop would ask people not to pray for another."

But he didn't. He asked people to not pray for Katherine Jefferts Schori, who is distinctly not "one another", particularly in the context that he was speaking. And even then, I believe it was only in the context of the service. This is an ecclesiastical move, deny her position as presiding bishop, not a censure against prayer for "one another".

"Our prayer book at various places asks us to pray for our Presiding Bishop. On what authority do you, as a diocesan bishop, pretend to say that the prayer book is to be read willy-nilly?"

And until relatively recently, you were not allowing ordinations like that of Robinson or women's ordinations. Why not let him break an old rule too? :P

"Do you see the irony of accusing progressives of selective reading while you practice the same?"

Personally, I do. But a liturgical violation, as it were, is nowhere near as serious as the doctrinal alterations he is dealing with.

"This all points to the ridiculous place we now find ourselves. Reality itself seems to be on the wane, so reasoned discourse becomes increasingly difficult. Alas."

Agreed.