Tuesday, 25 September 2007

New Orleans: the statement

Corrected

epiScope has it here: A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners

Update Episcopal News Service now has it also, at House of Bishops response ‘to questions and concerns raised by our Anglican Communion partners’.

House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church
New Orleans, Louisiana
September 25, 2007

A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners

In accordance with Our Lord’s high priestly prayer that we be one, and in the spirit of Resolution A159 of the 75th General Convention, and in obedience to his Great Commission to go into the world and make disciples, and in gratitude for the gift of the Anglican Communion as a sign of the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work of reconciliation throughout the world, we offer the following to the Episcopal Church, the Primates, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), and the larger Communion, with the hope of “mending the tear in the fabric” of our common life in Christ.

“I do it all for the sake of the Gospel so that I might share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:23

Introduction

The House of Bishops expresses sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates for accepting our invitation to join us in New Orleans. By their presence they have both honored us and assisted us in our discernment. Their presence was a living reminder of the unity that is Christ’s promised gift in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Much of our meeting time was spent in continuing discernment of our relationships within the Anglican Communion. We engaged in careful listening and straightforward dialogue with our guests. We expressed our passionate desire to remain in communion. It is our conviction that The Episcopal Church needs the Anglican Communion, and we heard from our guests that the Anglican Communion needs The Episcopal Church.

The House of Bishops offers the following responses to our Anglican Communion partners. We believe they provide clarity and point toward next steps in an ongoing process of dialogue. Within The Episcopal Church the common discernment of God’s call is a lively partnership among laypersons, bishops, priests, and deacons, and therefore necessarily includes the Presiding Bishop, the Executive Council, and the General Convention.

Summary

  • We reconfirm that resolution B033 of General Convention 2006 (The Election of Bishops) calls upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”
  • We pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.
  • We commend our Presiding Bishop’s plan for episcopal visitors.
  • We deplore incursions into our jurisdictions by uninvited bishops and call for them to end.
  • We support the Presiding Bishop in seeking communion-wide consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.
  • We call for increasing implementation of the listening process across the Communion and for a report on its progress to Lambeth 2008.
  • We support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.
  • We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety, and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.

Discussion

Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention

The House of Bishops concurs with Resolution EC011 of the Executive Council. This Resolution commends the Report of the Communion Sub-Group of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion as an accurate evaluation of Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention, calling upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” (1) The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains.

Blessing of Same-Sex Unions

We, the members of the House of Bishops, pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process. In the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. In addition to not having authorized liturgies the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. We do note that in May 2003 the Primates said we have a pastoral duty “to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations.” They further stated, “…[I]t is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care.”

Episcopal Visitors

We affirm the Presiding Bishop’s plan to appoint episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight. Such oversight would be provided by bishops who are a part of and subject to the communal life of this province. We believe this plan is consistent with and analogous to Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) as affirmed by the Windsor Report (paragraph 152). We thank those bishops who have generously offered themselves for this ministry. We hope that dioceses will make use of this plan and that the Presiding Bishop will continue conversation with those dioceses that may feel the need for such ministries. We appreciate and need to hear all voices in The Episcopal Church.

Incursions by Uninvited Bishops

We call for an immediate end to diocesan incursions by uninvited bishops in accordance with the Windsor Report and consistent with the statements of past Lambeth Conferences and the Ecumenical Councils of the Church. Such incursions imperil common prayer and long-established ecclesial principles of our Communion. These principles include respect for local jurisdiction and recognition of the geographical boundaries of dioceses and provinces. As we continue to commit ourselves to honor both the spirit and the content of the Windsor Report, we call upon those provinces and bishops engaging in such incursions likewise to honor the Windsor Report by ending them. We offer assurance that delegated episcopal pastoral care is being provided for those who seek it.

Communion-wide Consultation

In their communique of February 2007, the Primates proposed a “pastoral scheme.” At our meeting in March 2007, we expressed our deep concern that this scheme would compromise the authority of our own primate and place the autonomy of The Episcopal Church at risk. The Executive Council reiterate our concerns and declined to participate. Nevertheless we recognize a useful role for communion-wide consultation with respect to the pastoral needs of those seeking alternative oversight, as well as the pastoral needs of gay and lesbian persons in this and other provinces. We encourage our Presiding Bishop to continue to explore such consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.

The Listening Process

The 1998 Lambeth Conference called all the provinces of the Anglican Communion to engage in a “listening process” designed to bring gay and lesbian Anglicans fully into the church’s conversation about sexuality. We look forward to receiving initial reports about this process at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and to participating with others in this crucial enterprise. We are aware that in some cultural contexts, conversation concerning homosexuality is difficult. We see an important role for the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in this listening process, since it represents both the lay and ordained members of our constituent churches and so is well placed to engage every part of the body in this conversation. We encourage the ACC to identify the variety of resources needed to accomplish these conversations.

The Lambeth Conference

Invitations to the Lambeth Conference are extended by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Those among us who have received an invitation to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference look forward to that gathering with hope and expectation. Many of us are engaged in mission partnerships with bishops and dioceses around the world and cherish these relationships. Lambeth offers a wonderful opportunity to build on such partnerships.

We are mindful that the Bishop of New Hampshire has not yet received an invitation to the conference. We also note that the Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed a desire to explore a way for him to participate. We share the Archbishop’s desire and encourage our Presiding Bishop to offer our assistance as bishops in this endeavor. It is our fervent hope that a way can be found for his full participation.

Justice and Dignity for Gay and Lesbian Persons

It is of fundamental importance that, as we continue to seek consensus in matters of human sexuality, we also be clear and outspoken in our shared commitment to establish and protect the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons, and to name and oppose at every turn any action or policy that does violence to them, encourages violence towards them, or violates their dignity as children of God. We call all our partners in the Anglican Communion to recommit to this effort. As we stated at the conclusion of our meeting in March 2007: “We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecutive because of their differences, often in the name of God.”

________________________________________

(1) The Communion Sub-Group noted that “the resolution uses the language of ‘restraint’, and the group noted that there has been considerable discussion since General Convention about the exact force of that word. By requiring that the restraint must be expressed in a particular way—’by not consenting…’, however, the resolution is calling for a precise response, which complies with the force of the recommendation of the Windsor Report.” The group also noted “that while the Windsor Report restricted its recommendation to candidates for the episcopate who were living in a same gender union, the resolution at General Convention widened this stricture to apply to a range of lifestyles which present a wider challenge. The group welcomed this widening of the principle, which was also recommended by the Windsor Report, and commend it to the Communion.”

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Comments

Good. The position is as the position was. It was what was required. The ball is in the court, and the response is awaited, and already beginning.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 12:46am BST

MEDIA STATEMENT LESBIAN AND GAY CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT

25th September 2007

The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in the United States of America has issued a statement today 25th September 2007

The Revd Martin Reynolds of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement said:

“Our disappointment with the American Church was profound when their General Convention outlawed gay bishops in 2006, that disappointment has now been reinforced.”

“But we believe this attempt to suck up to the homophobes will come to nothing. They have already decided not to believe anything the leaders of TEC say and are quite happy to ditch Canterbury and go it alone.”

“The schism will continue and I predict by this time next year there every disappointed American cleric who wants to be a bishop will have his wish.”

“Lesbian and gay bishops, priests, deacons and laypeople will continue to love and serve God in His Church while these bishops fall deeper into malice, we will pray for them.”

Ends


Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 1:00am BST

For those of us who have been deeply concerned that the ECUSA, a Church with which we are in Communion and to which we feel the strongest ties of kinship, may have been painting itself into a corner, this comes as a great relief. It shows the unequivocal commitment of the American Church to remain at the table in a patient listening process without backing down on essential points of principle. It now remains to be seen whether the communion's conservatives are similarly committed.

Posted by: Mother RoG on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 1:44am BST

I may be missing something here, but it seems to me the first point reads "We agree that we have been asked not to ordain active gays," not "We won't ordain active gays." The fact that everyone agrees as to what BO33 means doesn't mean that they've agreed to abide by it.

Posted by: James on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 2:34am BST

I am grateful to the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops for the clarity of its statement and its willingness to work for inclusion of gay and lesbian people within a world-wide Anglican fellowship held toghether by the bonds of peace.

Bishop Robinson should not longer be excluded from full participation at Lambeth. Nor should foreign bishops intefere any longer in the American Episcopal Church.

Posted by: Brian McKinlay on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 3:30am BST

In light of the onerous burden placed on them by the Primates, this is a good compromise response of a legislative body structurally similar to the U.S. Senate in its polity.

The response actively tries to maintain integrity of all bishops, yet respond as fully as possible to the Primates. The job is monumental, the result will satisfy few, and please God maintain the Anglican Communion.

Posted by: Joseph Trickey on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 3:36am BST

I would like to know if the rest of the Church is willing to reciprocate and promise not to consecrate any candidates whose manner of living poses a challenge to ME.

There are quite a few conservative bishops who I really don't approve of- does this statement mean I can object to their consecration? Can anyone in the entire Anglican Communion veto a candidate bishop just because you don't agree with them?

Time for some letter-writing campaigns!

Posted by: Pete Border on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 3:44am BST

Does not seem like anything much new - does it?

We all know TEC(USA) wants delays, hoping to talk everyone to death without TEC repenting in any way.

We all know TEC(USA) will not say unequivocally that it stands by VGR and the decisions it made in 2003 - because it is "playing the long game" i.e. stay in the AC and try to subvert it from within.

But - will Lind drop out of the race for Chicago?

Is it not just a matter of time before we have the next VGR, regardless of BO33?

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 7:22am BST

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has gone as far as they can go to accommodate the ultra vires demands of foreign prelates. Indeed, many will believe that they have gone too far in accommodating these demands.

But wait. And watch.

Those who have been slavering after schism will inevitably declare that this does not go far enough.

Wait. Watch.

And pray.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 7:33am BST

The reporting, thus far, on Radio 4 has made no mention of things other than the question of the ordination of openly (could also be described as 'open and honest') gay priests to the episcopate. There is a lot more in the statement. I hope that the BBC's editorial decision to ignore so much is not mirrored by the Anglican Communion as a whole - and the Primates in particular. Having blackmailed TEC(USA) I trust that Dr Williams will enforce order upon those who break Anglican polity by ordaining openly 'incursive' bishops!

Posted by: Anglicanus on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 7:44am BST

NP - Matthew 18:21-22 "Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven* times."

You aren't honestly proposing to damn the TEC on the suspicion of what they might do in the future?

Malcolm - I fear you may be right. The HoB statement clearly agrees not to consecrate actively homosexual clergy, and not to authorize same sex blessings.

I suspect that "not consenting to the consecration" and "not to authorize" won't be strong enough langauge for those looking to break up the AC. I also suspect the response will come "we said to forbid and rescind such consecrations and blessings and you haven't done that".

I can't see how the HoB could comply with such a demand. It is analogous to Parliament or Congress passing a law that can never be changed. No executive council can realistically make a resolution that is binding in perpetuity unless such power is given when the group is established.

Posted by: Stephen Roberts on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 9:36am BST

Revelation 6:8-11 "Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed."

I do hope the TEC had the decency to make this contingent upon the outcomes of 2008 Lambeth, and not some cowardly retreat that has no expire by date. If the latter, then they should expunge Schori and other females as God's curse against Cheva (and thus all feminine manifestations) still stands. If so, Jesus' sacrifice was nothing more than an opportunistic posturing to prove he was the Lord of the earth and had no intention of healing this or any other level of reality.

The Daughter of Zion takes off her shoes and throws him in his face. His words of gentleness as at Matthew 24:15 meant nothing!

If the God of Jesus does not rebuke Christian and corrupt priests the same as the God of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel rebuked the corruptions of their time, then the God of Jesus is not the God of the Torah.

The Cherubim of the Ark stand with the God of the covenant of Mt Sinai and the Daughter of Zion's mission to reconcile both Jew and Gentile.

If Jesus is only concerned with Jesus worshipers, then he has no endorsement from the Daughter of Zion nor the Cherubim of the Ark.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 10:11am BST

I can't agree with LGCM's blanket denunciation.

Speaking as a lawyer, it is a good resolution. That's because it

- only reconfirms that the 2006 resolution is as stated. It does not *require* bishops to decline the election of gay and lesbian priests. Nothing is legislated.

- pledges that no *public rite* of blessing will be authorised, but allows for private rites.

- stands up for the civil rights and dignity of gay and lesbian people.

- seeks to make bishops accountable in their listening.

- is solemn and conscientious. No one can dismiss it as merely political.

Posted by: Chris Tyack on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 10:20am BST

It seems to me that this is the previous position extended, which was what was required. The ball is in the court of others now, for their responses, and they can either be positive, or they can carry on with their rhetoric and even do what they say they were going to do.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 12:02pm BST

"I would like to know if the rest of the Church is willing to reciprocate and promise not to consecrate any candidates whose manner of living poses a challenge to ME."

Apparently not! Notice how no-one objects in the least to someone preaching, say, sacramental heterodoxy. It's only WRT gay people that there can be any objection.

And, NP, do you really not know what's wrong with this sentence:

"But - will Lind drop out of the race for Chicago?"


Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 1:20pm BST

I agree with Chris Tyack's summary, with one point: `no public rite of blessing' is time-limited as well, ie it could (how easily?) change.

What I like is that this gives them time to make their cases further. Now *use* that bought time...

Posted by: Tim on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 1:41pm BST

I agree with NP (that was hard to type) that TEC is playing the long game. I agree that TEC hasn't offered to repent, because we don't feel that there is any need to repent. I wouldn't agree that we are trying to subvert the AC. Rather, we are trying to perfect it.

I agree with Malcolm+ (easier) that the bishops did what they could. Their hands were tied because changes in policy have to come through the General Convention (2009).

Conservative bishops didn't even respect the HOB meeting enough to stay until the end. They should be sent packing.

The future of TEC will see the complete equality of LGBT members in all aspects of the church. It is just a matter of time. 10 years? 5 years? I'm not sure, but it will come. If I were a betting man, I'd say the the 2009 GC will move in that direction as much as possible, and the 2012 GC will seal the deal.

Posted by: Walt on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 3:07pm BST

The biggest problem that our some of our Anglican partners have with us is that in our part of the Church, unlike their Arch-Episcopal polities, and the Curial polity of Rome, our bishops are more like the bishops of the early church. They are not mere middle managers answering to the higher-ups. Here no bishop can tell another bishop what to do. This is why Pike (in the past)and currently Spong and Iker and Duncan and others have never been brought up on charges no matter how outrageous their statemente or actions.

Our bishops can and do say the most outrageous things and are not silenced. Unlike what may happen in other provences, our PB is Not an Archbishop who can mete out punishments on a whim.

And, human nature being what it is, some people (including our bishops) will, when told not to do something will then do that very thing! And admit it, everyone who read this knows exactly what I am saying.

Posted by: Deacon Charlie Perrin on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 3:18pm BST

Following on Walt's comment:
The outcome of General Convention 09 is certain to be effected by the actions of the Global South and their alies in the US and Great Britian. If the incursions continue, if an alternative Anglican presence in the US comes to fruition, if the Lambeth Conference in '08 repeats the behavior of '98, I suspect the General Convention in '09 will be inclined to do just as you say.
All the power politics being applied against us is reducing our inclination and need to compromise. One wonders if this isn't part of the long range plans of the bullydox party.

Posted by: tdowns on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 3:52pm BST

Sp-Iker-land is already in the process of secceding from the Union, according to a release from its 'toe-the-line of Jack Leo' Standing Committee.

Posted by: John Henry on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 4:10pm BST

This has all been about power, played out through playing games with language, by trying to make things mean what one wants them to mean, rather than what they say.

For example, the matter of repentance. The Windsor Report never called upon TEC to repent of consecrating Gene Robinson Bishop of New Hampshire. TEC was called upon to repent for causing distress because of the consecration of Gene Robinson. TEC has done this, several times.

Nevertheless, Anglican conservatives have wanted to make the words of the Windsor Report MEAN that TEC must repent of the consecration of Gene Robinson. So we hear repeatedly that TEC has not repented, has not complied with the requests of the Windsor Report because it has not repented of the consecration of Gene Robinson.

In other words, Anglican conservatives hope to exercise power by repeating the charge that TEC has not repented so much that we come to believe that the Windsor Report calls for what conservatives wish it calls for, rather than what it really calls for.

The same analysis could be applied to the other points of the Windsor Report, with similar results. Conservatives also do this in reverse by violating the Windsor Report's call for primates to respect jurisdictional boundaries and then justifying their actions by claiming that Windsor does not call for them not to do what they are in fact clearly doing.

Thus we are led into a truly Orwellian world of doublespeak by the very people who claim to speak on behalf of literal reading.

Posted by: jnwall on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 4:11pm BST

Ford - you do realise that TEC has elections for its bishops, I am sure. You and I would not recommend this - since it is not biblical - but that is what they do!

Walt - I have to say I agree with LGCM on this statement (also hard to type!) because the bishops have chosen to try and stay in the AC at the cost of saying that they stand by their decisions made in 2003.....they have let down LGCM.

Ford, I mention Lind in Chicago because the TEC HOB have just put her in an awkward position.....quite unfair as I guess she thought she had their support as a candidate until yesterday but now should withdraw to keep in step with her TEC?

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 4:11pm BST

"You and I would not recommend this - since it is not biblical - but that is what they do!"

Bless the Lord oh my soul! As my Methodist Grandmother used to say. I answered this elsewhere, but is it Biblical to give the monarch the choice? Come on! Do you have any idea how bishops are chosen elsewhere in the world? Where does the Bible tell us HOW to choose a bishop? What to look for, yes, but how to do the picking? As to Biblical, NP, Normal up! You know very well that I will not automatically oppose something just because it isn't to be found in the pages of the user's manual. The Bible ISN'T the supreme authority in the Church, NP, as much as you need it to be.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 4:49pm BST

Stephen comments: "the response will come "we said to forbid and rescind such consecrations and blessings" . . .'

Of course, there is nothing in Dromantine, nothing in Windsor and nothing even in Dar es Salaam which talks about either forbidding or rescinding. jnwall is quite correct in his analysis that the "conservative" position is based on a rewritten history in documents are taken to say those things which the "conservatives" want them to say, regardless of whether the documents in question said those things or not.

jnwall refers to "Orwellian doublespeak."

There is a technical term from moral theology which would apply here: "lies."

The "conservative" position is based on a series of lies, including this rewriting of history, but also including the canard of thier oppression in the Episcopal Church.

Note, please, that I distinguish between conservatives and "conservatives." The former (like Howe of Central Florida, Henderson of Upper South Carolina, Steenson of Rio Grande) have represented their "side" of the issue with integrity, honesty and grace. The latter . . . have not.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 5:36pm BST

"Ford - you do realise that TEC has elections for its bishops, I am sure. You and I would not recommend this - since it is not biblical - but that is what they do!"

Please point me to any Biblical citation that says specifically, "Thou shalt not elect thy bishops".

Indeed, point me to any Biblical citation on exactly how bishops ARE to be chosen. Don't point me to something in Acts or the letters, say, where we are told how a particular leader was chosen...that's just an example of a method, not a prescription on how to do it.

In fact, according to Acts, the apostles (the first "bishops"?) chose Matthias to replace Judas by casting lots:

So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

Now, casting lots could have meant balloting (hence an election) or it could mean just picking beans out of a hat. You suggesting that the latter is a better method of choosing bishops than election?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 10:18pm BST

jnwall makes an excellent argument. For example "...The Windsor Report never called upon TEC to repent of consecrating Gene Robinson Bishop of New Hampshire. TEC was called upon to repent for causing distress..."

His/her comments about conservatives overstating cases and ultimates can also be said to apply to Dar Salaam 30 September deadline; which we found out from ABC in New Orleans was not the guillotine line to end discussion but rather a way of prompting further dialogue.

Ford, I agree with your sentiments about a reluctant leader is more to be admired than someone who runs and desires the political race. The Jews have a belief that "the Messiah" will be dragged into the role and not willingly go there.

Pragmatically, I've come to the conclusion that since Jesus' incarnation we will never have "the Messiah". Rather, we will have Messianic periods, where souls will rise up and bring about inspirational transformational reforms, and it will be a collective experience.

Walt, my prayers are for your vision "The future of TEC will see the complete equality of LGBT members in all aspects of the church. It is just a matter of time. 10 years? 5 years?... GC will seal the deal."

Pray that the TEC leadership liberates itself from repressive accusatory theology. Whose proponents are blind that many of the world’s problems are the consequences of their pursuit of personal power over and above meting out God's justice and compassion. When TEC representatives go to Lambeth in 2008, they should be aware there will be souls who will try to throw them into the lions' pit, shackle them in rules, and place (retain) a heavy yoke upon their parishioners and communities. Acts 15:10 might help them "… why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?" Yet Jesus said "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 11:10pm BST

Some passages that might be helpful:

Galatians 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

Naham 1:12-13 "…Although they have allies and are numerous, they will be cut off and pass away… Now I will break their yoke from your neck and tear your shackles away."

Genesis 27:40 "...when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck."

Exodus 6:6-8 the Lord will "...bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you... I will take you as my own people … I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land..."

Hosea ll:4 "I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them."

Isaiah 58:6-14 "...loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke... “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always..." See also Leviticus 26:13; Isaiah 10:47, 14:25 & 52:2.

Ezekiel 34:25-31 “ ‘I will make a covenant of peace with them... I will bless them... They will know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They will no longer be plundered... They will live in safety... ” See also Isaiah 61:1-9 and Jeremiah 30:8-9 "“ …I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them..."

Isaiah 49:20-26 or 9:2-7 "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light... You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice... you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor... Of… peace there will be no end…. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this."

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 11:28pm BST

Surely, Ford, you are aware of that passage in Acts which describes how Mattias was selected. It very clearly describes the process whereby the names of Matthias and Joseph (Justis) Barsabbas were submitted to the Emperor by the Crown Appointments Commission.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Thursday, 27 September 2007 at 7:20am BST

Ford / Malcolm - I thought you would assume that I would not support the corrupt system in the CofE which gives politicians control of church leaders (and gives us people like Rowan Williams to "lead" the CofE)

The only thing which has made the situation tolerable in the CofE is the independence of incumbents (so, we have not worried about dodgy bishops because they do not really have power to subvert churches which are faithful to the scriptures)

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 27 September 2007 at 9:40am BST

"do not really have power to subvert churches"

Now, now, NP, the EHBL plot is active in England too, you know, We're everywhere, hiding behind the reredos, just waiting to subvert the Scriptures with unChristian ideas like respect, love for one's fellow humans, that sort of evil. It's just that the EHBLs in England, being English, are far better at political subterfuge than the blunt somewhat simplistic Americans. Like all British politicians, the English wing of the EHBL plot to destrioy the Gospel is adept at letting you think you are actually choosing your way, but never fear, victory will be ours. As my friends say "So many Christians, so few lions!"

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 27 September 2007 at 1:01pm BST

"Ford / Malcolm - I thought you would assume that I would not support the corrupt system in the CofE which gives politicians control of church leaders (and gives us people like Rowan Williams to "lead" the CofE)"

OK, NP, you've told us the two methods of selecting bishops you dislike--the American election and the British political appointment.

What method do you accept as "biblical"? And please provide the Biblical citation that establishes it as the correct one.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 27 September 2007 at 11:08pm BST

Pat - Acts 14-15 should help in how leaders ought to be chosen if we believe the Apostles were led by the Spirit (which I do)

Also, Titus and letters to Timoty - St Paul sets out very clearly what makes people fit to be leaders in the church. I believe his words are inspired by God and still stand

Posted by: NP on Friday, 28 September 2007 at 9:47am BST

"if we believe the Apostles were led by the Spirit (which I do)"

Am I to assume you think the Spirit stopped and went back up to Heaven or something after the last Apostle died? I've often wondered why Evangelicals think we need an "outpouring of the Holy Spirit". I read once on a website where the Anglican parish had posted a notice exhorting people to pray that God will baptise them with the Holy Spirit. I wonder what they thought happened at their baptism.
You know, it occurred to me last night that there are a lot of people out there who hate the Church and enjoy getting on websites like this to wind up us guillible Christians and have a laugh. I began to think you may actually be one of these people. After all, while I sometimes wish I had logged on with a fake name, your means we can't check whether or not you ARE a parishioner of HTB. I have some very sinful stereotypes of Evnagelicals, but nothing near as bad as what the Church haters think of Christians in general. Your behaviour is far more in line with what their stereotypes are than anything my most sinful moments can make me think about Evangelicals. You seem to be acting according to some stereotype of the Bad Christian Oppressor than anything else, so I have to wonder if you are actually just a Church hater getting your jollies.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 28 September 2007 at 2:09pm BST

Yeah, yeah Ford.....yet I am leading groups at which non-Christians are becoming Christians every year - maybe I am not putting people off (given this fact) ........ and maybe it is the image of weirdos with no message or morals and "mend the roof" fundraising always going on which turns people off the church?

Nope, I do not believe the Spirit stopped working...but I do believe that He does not contradict himself, acting in a way consistent with his inspiration of the bible, for example

Posted by: NP on Friday, 28 September 2007 at 5:04pm BST

So you say, NP, but like the old Evangelical catch phrase use to say, if Christianity were a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you? I have no evidence of these large numbers of people you are supposedly "leading to Christ". All I have to assess is your behaviour here.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 28 September 2007 at 7:24pm BST

"Pat - Acts 14-15 should help in how leaders ought to be chosen if we believe the Apostles were led by the Spirit (which I do)"

And you think it's impossible that the voters in a TEC episcopal election are equally led by the Spirit? Or did the Spirit stop working in the world sometime in the first century AD...the same way you seem to think God stopped revealing himself to us once the final canon of the Scriptures was decided upon?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 29 September 2007 at 3:17am BST

NP wrote: "... maybe it is the image of weirdos with no message or morals and "mend the roof" fundraising always going on..."

But then you are leading groups teaching them Alexandrian "morals"; the superstitions and Gnosticisms of the Ancient philosophers, dear NP.

Very little of this in Christianity NP.

Even less of it in the Good Book (and then only in 2nd century pseudo-epigraphs and additions) - and absolutely nothing of it ever in the one Gospel of God's Righteousness in Christ, as redorded in the 4 gospels.

Better luck next time, NP.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 29 September 2007 at 8:44am BST

"did the Spirit stop working in the world sometime in the first century AD"

This is the thing, Pat. All these Evangelicals praying for the "baptism of the Spirit" or an "outpouring of the Spirit" (see things like Anglican Renewal Movement and Barnabas Ministries), I often wonder what they think is supposed to have happened at their baptisms. It's a very different ecclesiology, a different understanding of the Kingdom, of redemption, of how God works in the world, and of the Spirit. In the latter case, considering what happens in some places, it's akin to the emotional experiences in numerous other religious traditions. Now I mean no insult here, I do not think these religious expressions deserve scorn, but study, since they reflect something deep within the human psyche. It's just that the idea that in worship, one expects to be taken over by an outside force, one is exhorted emotionally, there is rhythmic repetetive music, then the force takes one over, and one exhibits the attributed one believes are the qualities of the overtaking force: eating glass, speaking in tongues, etc. is widespread around the world, and I think it is a profound statement on our need to contact the numinous(is that the right word?)I have no doubt it's a powerful experience, I would not dream to deny its spiritual meaning for the people to whom it happens, and I know not all Evangelicals do this, and some make a distinction I don't understand between Evangelicals and "charismatics", chosing to look down on the latter, which I also do not understand. All the same, this idea of being taken over by an outside spiritual force that gives one special, if transient, powers, is common around the world, and I'm intrigued as to how it developed in Christianity.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 29 September 2007 at 1:49pm BST

OK, sports fans - I think that this all boils down to two main points.

First, Jesus was/is the Son of God and a full partner of the Triune God. He preached a gospel of love and inclusion, not one of ostracism and disdain. Given that He is/was the Son of God, I believe that God trumps O.T. prophet.

Second, I believe that Jesus asks us to treat our neighbors as we would ourselves like to be treated. In that context, I think that God put people different from us (in whatever way) on earth in order to see if we are really paying attention to what He said.

I would hazard the guess that not everyone is doing too, too well in one or both of these areas, but I think that TEC in the US is trying harder than most.

And now, back to the boys from the South ...

Posted by: john Barrett on Tuesday, 2 October 2007 at 1:05am BST
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