Monday, 25 April 2005

NACDAP provokes responses

Following a recent meeting in Texas, NACDAP has issued two documents: ACN Council Communiqué and Windsor Action Covenant.

This has provoked several strong responses: The Fat is in the Fire: The Network and the Windsor Action Covenant and also Windsor, DOA. But clearest of all is this from the Bishop of California, Bill Swing: The House of Bishops: All for One and Some for Something. Some extracts from these:

Bill Swing asks NACDAP these questions:

1. Why do you usually avoid House of Bishops meetings? And why will you not go to the altar rail and receive Communion alongside your sister and brother bishops?

2. Rumor has it that you receive lots of money from private foundations and give it to support African bishops who, in turn, will attack the Episcopal Church. Is there an audit of your receipts and disbursements? Could I review it? What are the goals of the foundations that financially support you? What African bishops receive your money? What American Episcopalians whom you know are on the staffs of African bishops?

3. If the bishops of the Episcopal Church are not invited to Lambeth Conference 2008 but the Network bishops with Bishop Robert Duncan as head are invited, will you attend?

4. What are the names of Network bishops who have consulted lawyers to ascertain the possibilities of someday separating “Network properties” from “Episcopal Church properties?”

5. In what situations around the USA is the Network in conversation with individual congregations, strategizing as to how the congregation can leave the Episcopal Church, take its assets, and join the Network?

6. It is stated that Bishop Duncan is on record as promising “to wage guerilla warfare on the Episcopal Church.” Is this true? Also on the House floor he has been accused of paying lay people of his diocese to go to a neighboring diocese to try to persuade conservative members to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Network. Is that true?

Mark Harris writes:

This Covenant is an attempt to hijack the Windsor Report and make it the instrument of the realignment effort. It is yet another effort to spin an advisory committee’s report into a partisan litmus test.

…All of this would be of no great import if it were not for the last pledge, not bulleted, which is the real basis of the covenant, and its only focus. That last pledge states, “If General Convention chooses finally to walk apart, I will not follow, but will remain a faithful Anglican, God being my helper.”

This then is the opening salvo of the battle of General Convention. One may be sure that the Network will come to Convention with pledge lists of persons who they contend will not be bound by General Convention action IF the Convention “chooses finally to walk apart.” And of course, it will be the Network and its leadership that will want to determine if General Convention has so chosen.

This Covenant is a marshalling of numbers, and an attempt to get members of this Church to pledge disavowal of actions of General Convention, leadership of the bishops of their dioceses, if not viewed as “Windsor Dioceses” and teaching of their clergy, if not viewed as “Windsor Parishes.” Its purpose is to implement resistance to any leadership other than that of the realignment groups, and in particular the Network itself.

The fat is in the fire and the play is unfolding. It is time to be watchful. It is not a time to be nice, for these are not nice times.

J-Tron notes:

It’s heart breaking. It really is. The Windsor Report has some deep flaws. But I have remained hopeful that it can be a starting point, a place to facilitate communication and unity. Certainly the folks who produced it had that hope for it. The Network does not. It chooses instead to use Windsor as a weapon, a method of labeling and relabeling those who it dislikes. This is an especially interesting development considering the Network’s own deep criticism of Windsor in the days after it came out. Now all of a sudden the Network wants to embrace Windsor, but only in so far as it pushes us forward into the rift.

…But the enemy that presents itself in the Network is not that of ultra-conservatism or homophobia. The enemy that presents itself in the Network is the evil of pride, deceit, lust for power, and a thorough drive to divide the Church. Not all members of the Network are engaged in this kind of behavior, but the Network perpetrates it on behalf of all who it calls “orthodox,” leaving those on the so-called right who truly wish to be in communion without a voice.

I call on Anglicans and Episcopalians of good conscience, whatever their political stripes or feelings about human sexuality, to reject the evil, schismatic vision that the Network is trying to perpetrate. If we have to split in the end, let it be because we have tried every possible remedy, every conceivable avenue of dialogue, and nothing else seems like it can be done. Let it not be because a small group of the power hungry possessed swept us into armageddon like battle with our friends and neighbors for the purpose of fulfilling their own ambitions….

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 25 April 2005 at 10:18pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

very impressive bill

Posted by: Bill Penn on Tuesday, 26 April 2005 at 2:24am BST

I am thrilled to see this stuff appearing, especially Bishop Swing's open letter. I hope we get some honesty into this mess.


Posted by: Alison on Tuesday, 26 April 2005 at 1:39pm BST

Later in his letter, not quoted above, Bishop Swing was rather more conciliatory sounding: "Perhaps there are good and honest answers which will prove my fears false and point out that I have maligned innocent bishops...."

Notwithstanding that no-one is perfect and pure in all their motivations in this world, whoever they are, I do think that on the whole we should start with the presumption that people are acting primarily for the reasons they say they are; until we can show in a reasonable way that this is not the case.

The NACDAP group have long stated the reasons that they dissent fundamentally from the recent decisions of ECUSA GC, and the appointment of Gene Robinson. It is a logical and consistent response given their beliefs about the souvereignty of Scripture and Traditional over our perceptions of experience. That is even acknowledged by Bill Swing later in his letter (see quote below).

So why all the nastiness towards NACDAP ? The liberals repeatedly state one reason:- That they see loyalty to the ECUSA authority structure as of primary importance; of higher importance than loyalty to Scriptural or traditional "Truth". So, Bill Swing now accuses NACDAP Bishops of disloyalty to ECUSA; Bp Smith accuses his conservative priests of disloyalty to him. And PBp Griswold questions 18 ECUSA diocesan bishops who appeal direct to the Archbishop of Canterbury rather than first to him.

Given that St Paul said that if anyone, even an angel, should preach some "other gospel" he wanted them eternally condemned, I find it hard to understand liberal Christian's incredulity at conservatives refusing to compromise on the clear teachings of Scripture (at least, what is taken by most of the Communion nowadays, and all of the Christian world until fairly recently, to be the clear teaching of Scripture).

To quote William Swing again: "We knew they would be furious. We knew also that many Episcopalians would find our stance to be intolerable. Good people would leave."

So why the surprise that good people are fighting for the heart of American Anglicanism ?

Posted by: Dave on Tuesday, 26 April 2005 at 6:23pm BST

I grew up in the Episcopal Church, but joined another denomination when I married some 25 years ago. Nonetheless, I am interested in what is going on and try to keep up.

Here is my query. I do not understand why making preparations for a possible future "apart" is somehow seen as an afront and a breach of faith? My professional life as an attorney has involved a good deal of litigation and negotiation. In negotiations, the other side must know that you are committed to your position and prepared to take the matter "to the mat" (i.e., to trial) if an acceptable resolution cannot be reached. And, overall, one is a bad advocate who does not prepare for all eventualities and even possible negative outcomes.

Thus, all I see happening are the types of preparations that usually happen when two sides are in conflict. Consequently, I am confused by the venom directed at the traditionalists for making such preparations. After all, if they lose, they hit the road and their liberal opponents take/keep the money, property, etc. in this little fracas. Why shouldn't the traditionalists be preparing their case, taking their strongest possible position, and preparing for all eventualities?

Conversely, isn't their liberal opposition doing the same thing, i.e., engaging in a conflict and preparing for what may come next? If they are not doing their best to get ready they are not heroic or acting in a more "Christian" fashion, they are merely bad advocates and unfaithful to the truths they claim to hold dear.

Perhaps I am speaking out of turn here, but it seems to me that the complaints I am hearing are pointless, unrealistic, and/or just plain stupid. From a purely objective standpoint, liberals would do better to stop whining and get ready for battle.

Posted by: Steven on Tuesday, 26 April 2005 at 8:01pm BST

"they see loyalty to the ECUSA authority structure as of primary importance; of higher importance than loyalty to Scriptural or traditional "Truth"."

No, Dave: "loyalty to the ECUSA authority structure" is NOT primary to "loyalty to Scriptural or traditional 'Truth'". It's THROUGH those structures that we KNOW Scripture and Tradition.

Otherwise, it's the chaos of millions of opinions, each and every one of them having "souvereignty." Instead, I trust the General Convention---through which, I have *a voice*---to prayerfully discern the Tough Questions: to bring their collective wisdom to Scripture and Tradition, using their Reason.

And IF they screw up, I have faith that in a mere 3 years, the Holy Spirit will get another opportunity to clean up the mess!

NB to Steven: "I do not understand why making preparations for a possible future "apart" is somehow seen as an afront and a breach of faith? My professional life as an attorney has involved a good deal of litigation and negotiation."

It's a breach of faith, if we're talking about the Gospel---and the Cross Which Reconciles All---not the laws of the world ("principalities and powers"). That's the difference.

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Wednesday, 27 April 2005 at 8:10am BST

On JCF's post.

1) ECUSA has never claimed a magisterium of the sort you claim for it. Given the number of things it has made changes in, it cannot. Consider what Michael Hopkins said recently:'“Do you have the agenda of overturning centuries of Christian teaching about homosexuality, what the Bible says about homosexuals?” Pat Buchanan once asked me incredulously in a TV interview. I said something wonderfully nuanced. I should have simply said, “Absolutely.” The Bible and the Church have both been wrong. The Holy Spirit is teaching this to us. Jesus said she would do things like this and we shouldn’t be surprised when she does.'

2) 'The Cross which Reconciles All' is simply a way of ignoring the fact that there are some doctrines and people it cannot reconcile (the people because they hold the doctrines). Saint Paul was quite clear on that.

Posted by: Douglas Lewis on Wednesday, 27 April 2005 at 6:14pm BST

Strangely enough, I read Michael Hopkins' sermon (over on Louie Crew's site) not 30 seconds before coming to TA. My thought as I read the line you quote above: "Respectfully, Michael, I disagree: the Bible has not been wrong about homosexuality, because it says nothing about homosexuality. The Church has been *struggling* with homosexuality, but I wouldn't say that it has 'been wrong' about it (not in the way, for example, it accepted slavery for many centuries)."

"Magisterium" is your term, Douglas (and is, I would argue, what seems to be concretizing through the actions of the AC Primatial Majority). To suggest (as I did) that the GC could be in error---and then undo those errors at subsequent GCs---would be the *farthest* thing from a Roman-style Magisterium.

Differences of opinion are part of the human condition and, inasmuch as they reflect each unique Image of God, they are a good thing (just ask a rabbi! And better yet, ask another!). Do we find a way to live with these differences---as via a democratic process of discernment---or do we squelch them (e.g. through inquisition and schism and way-beyond-the-Creeds idiosyncratic confessions)? That is the choice the Anglican Communion faces.

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Thursday, 28 April 2005 at 5:09am BST

"I disagree: the Bible has not been wrong about homosexuality, because it says nothing about homosexuality."

Oh boy! Probably not in your Bible, but it does in mine.

Posted by: Ian on Thursday, 28 April 2005 at 9:30am BST

Until we can move far beyond the mutually alienating principle of 'your Bible may not say it, but mine does'and into a more charitable/compassionate and emotionally/spiritually stabilised approach of 'my reading of the Bible leads me to believe thus and so, and your reading feels unfamiliar to me...would you like to spend time together for mutual understandinng', the issues that divide us shall never diminish, and the witness of the Church as a reconciling and transformative community of faith shall remain impaired. May a spirit of compassion and self-emptying, our Lord's own Spirit, guide and lead us as we endeavor to follow him severally in our own cultures and communities.

Posted by: friend_from_afar on Thursday, 28 April 2005 at 6:24pm BST

Blah blah blah blah queers.
Blah blah blah blah homophobes
Blah blah blah blah scripture
Blah blah blah blah MY reading of scripture
Blah blah blah blah tradition
Blah blah blah blah gospel

Isn't it time to shut up?


Posted by: Pete on Friday, 29 April 2005 at 4:21am BST

Pete: no. It is not time to shut up. This is no more a mature option than any of the bickering going off ("we refuse to come talk to you! we don't want to discuss with you!").

The anglican communion should come to a resolved policy on the matter - as I hoped would happen last September/October time, let folks gather, discuss and get it out their system. That can be either "we don't want to allow gay bishops or unions", or "we'll permit them", or "we don't mind what a local church does in these cases", etc.
Unfortunately it seems some folks are bent on causing dissent.

Only once that is resolved can we have a sense of proportion.

Posted by: Tim on Friday, 29 April 2005 at 10:31am BST

I just want to add a rousing Amen to what "friend from afar" posted. This, I believe, is the attitude that will see us through, with the grace of God, if only more of us can pray that prayer and walk that walk.

I don't expect everyone in the Diocese of Toronto or the Anglican Church of Canada to agree with my interpretation of Scripture when it comes to same-sex blessings, much less everyone in the rest of the Anglican Communion. The same applies to my reading of Scripture on divorce and remarriage, or the ordination of women, or capital punishment. I _wish_ everyone agreed with me, but I am not holding my breath!

I think that, as long as we can all agree on certain 'big picture' items, which the Lambeth Quadrilateral certainly captures for me, that then we ought to be able to walk forward together in the Spirit and keep on talking about the things that we disagree on, in charity and love.

Unfortunately, a significant number of people on both sides seem to want to draw lines in the sand and make this a quarrel about ownership and power and who's right and who's wrong. It's not disagreements about how to read the Scripture that's going to drive us apart, it's the disagreements about who's in charge. I don't see much stomach for servant leadership or modelling Christ most of the statements being made right now.


Posted by: Dr Abigail Ann Young on Friday, 29 April 2005 at 2:45pm BST

friend from afar:

I am indeed sorry if my comment came over as alienating, but I was taken aback by the blunt assertion that "the Bible has not been wrong about homosexuality, because it says nothing about homosexuality." It was just plain wrong!

Interpretation of the scriptures may be a matter of debate; that the Bible says something about homosexuality is fact.

If it came over badly I apologise. That was not my intention. But having looked at many postings here in the past, I can't help but observe that any excess of comment from a liberal point of view appears to be acceptable and endorsed; it's the non-liberals per se who are deemed to be nasty and homophobic.

Posted by: Ian on Friday, 29 April 2005 at 4:19pm BST

Ian, bless you for reaching out to me in a personal manner. I find in your willingness to make any movement towards closer communion with me a hopeful sign of our Lord's presence in our midst. I recognize that it required of you to take some risk, to open yourself up to potential alienation and rejection, given that you know nothing of my background, how I read and understand our holy scriptures, or where to place me in the context of the matter at hand in our Church.

I hope that you feel a warm welcome from me, without hesitation or qualification, and an open invitation to co-labor, in Christ's love, for the healing of our Church and our world. Thank you for your gentle and beautiful example of both the desire for reconciliation and in making a real effort towards that goal. May we all be heartened by this.

Christ's peace to you.

Posted by: friend_from_afar on Friday, 29 April 2005 at 9:13pm BST


If you look back a few posts, you'll see that we're retracing old ground here. I was similarly befuddled to hear the assertion that the Bible never mentions homosexuality.

This position is defended by the idea that what we call homosexuality is a social construction. But it is far more than that. Of course, it has a social dimension. It also has a biological dimension; an anthropological dimension; an ethical dimension; a theological could go on.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Sunday, 1 May 2005 at 5:51pm BST

It's my personal mission to befuddle you, Christopher (just kidding! *g*)

Seriously, I wish you *would* "go on", as you say. I'm *still* (after . . . a year or two at Thinking Anglicans?) waiting to hear about a citation of "homosexual orientation" (w/o which "homosexuality" does not exist) in the Bible.

Until we can get down to brass tacks on the above question---*the issue* as far as I am concerned---then words like Ian's "plain" and "wrong" and fact" can be seen for the rhetorical discussion-squashers that they are. (Though, as you see Ian, I remain unsquashed and unsquelched---and prayerfully reading Holy Scripture in any of 4-5 translations I have at hand).


Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Monday, 2 May 2005 at 8:08am BST

J.C. Fisher, your original statement was "the Bible has not been wrong about homosexuality, because it says nothing about homosexuality." It was this that elicited my response, because it was clearly incorrect!

Your attempt to twist the argument is somewhat dishonest thinking. You say you are "still ... waiting to hear about a citation of "homosexual orientation" - for which you know full well there is no citation in the scriptures. Had your original statement referred to this, I would have not have challenged it.

"Though, as you see Ian, I remain unsquashed and unsquelched"

That is rather unfair. I can assure you that there was absolutely no attempt to squash you, but merely to correct an incorrect statement.

"and prayerfully reading Holy Scripture in any of 4-5 translations I have at hand"

With regard to your last comment, be assured that I too prayerfully read the scriptures. How they are to be interpreted may be a matter for legitimate debate. That is quite different from reinventing the scriptures by denying that the Bible says nothing about homosexuality.



Posted by: Ian on Monday, 2 May 2005 at 10:31am BST

What is "clearly incorrect" (as is my alleged attempt to "twist the argument" with "somewhat dishonest thinking") is, still, clearly *just your opinion* Ian (to which you are fully entitled to hold---just not entitled to mandate over me and ECUSA).

"How they are to be interpreted may be a matter for legitimate debate. That is quite different from reinventing the scriptures by denying that the Bible says nothing about homosexuality."

How, pray tell, can we have "legitimate debate" when you declare---presumably as grounds for that debate---that my (faithful Anglican) interpretation of scripture is "reinventing" them?

[Not to mention aspersions like "dishonest thinking": *that* seems unfair, Ian]

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Friday, 6 May 2005 at 6:32am BST

This is getting rather silly. In your posting of 28 April you stated categorically that the Bible says nothing about homosexuality. That's plain rubbish and you know it.

Later, on 2nd May you say "I'm *still* (after . . . a year or two at Thinking Anglicans?) waiting to hear about a citation of "homosexual orientation". You know that there is no reference to this in the Bible, and that you were now twisting the argument.

That is not opinion, as you suggest - but sheer fact!

No attempt from me to mandate! Would it surprise you to know that there are many people who feel that ECUSA etc. are ramming what they perceive as the truth down our throats? Like telling us that what for two thosuand years has been perceived as a sin is not really a sin at all?

But have it your own way. I fele unable to reason with you, sadly.

I pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you towards all truth (something I pray for myself as well).

Posted by: Ian on Friday, 6 May 2005 at 9:55am BST

As a from the cradle Episcopalian I am forced at present to make decisions that I would rather avoid.

To me we are all Christians living by creed no more complex than an admonition to love God and our fellow man. Any other road is unacceptable.

Now I see that schism is unavoidable. Each side here is unchristian in thought and action. Bp Swing bears false witness against other Bps without proof, by insinuation. Bp Duncan fights his war for division. Both sides now fight for division. One side loves homosexuality more than the church and the other hates it more than it loves the church of Christ.

I imagine General Lee felt the same when he chose Virginia in the CW. Having chosen the lesser of two evils I will stand and fight by intellect. As a member of the diocesan standing committee I have some say. We choose a new bishop soon and the topic of schism will be foremost. It is unavoidable that we choose in the process a bp clear on his choice and reasoning. No more discernment, no more dialogue, choose, explain. I will stay for the Liturgy and leave if the arrogant win. Humility may be all that is left in such a case. I wonder how good a Lutheran I can be should tactical retreat be necessary?

With malice towards none and charity for all, I bid you peace.

Posted by: ducks on Monday, 9 May 2005 at 12:01am BST

Thank you for your prayers, Ian (I imagine we *both* must seem very silly to the Holy Spirit!)

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Saturday, 21 May 2005 at 7:54am BST
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