Sunday, 11 November 2007

The New Confederacy

The following article by Harold Lewis appears in the parish magazine of Calvary Church, Pittsburgh, go here for PDF version.

The New Confederacy

In alleging that there was no canonical impediment to the recent actions of diocesan convention, namely the vote to remove the Diocese of Pittsburgh from the Episcopal Church, Bishop Duncan made an appeal to historical precedent. He stated that in 1862, a group of dioceses located in the Confederate states withdrew from the Episcopal Church but that their action did not prompt the Episcopal Church to enact a canon asserting that such an action was illegal. In other words, the bishop interpreted the church’s silence as assent, thereby giving carte blanche to all dioceses, in perpetuity, to separate themselves from TEC, despite their constitutional obligation to remain in communion with it. The bishop’s assertion was problematic on two levels. First, it was a mark of gross insensitivity on his part to hold up the example of the Confederate Episcopal Church, which came into being because it believed it could no longer share a church with those [i.e. Northerners] whose attack on slavery was “treason to the Southern cause.” Moreover, as the Confederate House of Bishops also stated, the Confederate Church believed that the institution of slavery was one of “those sacred relations which God has created, and which man cannot, consistently with Christianity, annul.” Secondly, the bishop’s historical recollection was selective. In point of fact, The Episcopal Church, it can be said, never really recognized the formation of the Confederate Church. When the roll was called at the General Convention of 1862, and the Southern dioceses did not respond, they were simply marked absent. When the Convention convened three years later, following the end of the Civil War, the dioceses representing the defeated Southern states had returned, contrite. Their attendance was duly noted, and the Church saw no need to be punitive. (This issue is discussed in some detail in my book, Yet With a Steady Beat: The African American Struggle for Recognition in the Episcopal Church.)

As I reflected on the bishop’s comments, I realized that from his theological point of view, the Confederacy may well be an apt analogy for the so-called orthodox movement in the Episcopal Church. Like the Confederacy, it stands for a different set of values than those of TEC. Progressives, like the Northerners, are considered traitors —- in this case to the cause of the Gospel. Moreover, we have been accused of doing to the church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality what the Northerners did to slavery, that is, annul a sacred relationship created by God. But the similarity is most evident in the fact that just as the Confederate Church maintained that they could no longer exist under the same roof as TEC, so has the conservative element in the Diocese declared that the Episcopal Church is an unfit cohabitant for them in the house of God. Separation from us, and realignment with another province of Anglicanism deemed to be, in the words of the Epistle to the Ephesians, “without spot, or wrinkle or any such thing,” is, for the “conserving church,” the only recourse.

Perhaps the most painful experience at Convention was listening to the laundry list of the theological deficiencies purportedly in evidence throughout the liberal wing of the church. They were summarized at a pre-Convention hearing led by Jonathan Millard, the rector of Ascension, Oakland. According to Fr. Millard, there is, in TEC, in addition to erroneous teaching and practice regarding human sexuality, confusion about who God is, a failure of bishops to defend the faith, and a lack of clear teaching about Christ’s divinity and about salvation and sin. A drift towards universalism; a loss of confidence in the Gospel as Good News for all; a preoccupation with social justice (as if justice were not a Biblical concept); contempt for the Bible’s authority, and a lack of respect for truth or unity are other shortcomings. While “evidence” for the existence of such opinions can be culled from various isolated sources, it is as preposterous as it is presumptuous to suggest that the entire church can be tarred by that brush. But tarred it has —- and our alleged failures are held up as the reasons for our being unfit to share Word and Sacrament with those who believe that they and they alone possess and practice the faith once delivered to the saints.

In his Convention address, Bishop Duncan observed that since the vote on Resolution One was but the first of the two votes required to effect a constitutional change, nothing has changed. I beg to differ. For the foreseeable future, the people of the Diocese of Pittsburgh are living in a situation not unlike that of a couple who have decided to divorce, but who for whatever set of reasons, still share a residence. But it is actually worse than that. For whereas some couples may actually recognize that their marriage has failed but have no animosity toward each other, the conservative party sees itself as the wronged party in the marriage who has informed the progressive party in this Diocese that they have sullied the marriage because we follow a different Gospel and a different Lord.

If indeed the Episcopalians seeking realignment can be seen as the new Confederacy, we can take some comfort in the knowledge that the old Confederacy and the church that it spawned were short-lived. Already there is dissension in the ranks. In this diocese, although we could not tell by their behavior at Convention, there are several clergy and lay leaders from conserving” parishes who have indicated to the bishop that when push comes to shove, they will not join ranks with the Realigners, and will instead remain in the Episcopal Church. Beyond the bounds of the Diocese, other Realigners are seeking different paths. The bishop of Fort Worth, for example, whose diocese is a member of the Network, has indicated that his diocese will only realign with a province which does not recognize the ordination of women. One religious body which is a member of the newly formed group called Common Cause is reportedly considering a petition to the Holy See. Such, historically, has been the fate of religious organizations formed in protest against other religious organizations.

The memory of the words and the presence of Archbishop Tutu buoyed me during the cheerless hours spent at diocesan convention. His embracing message of inclusivity, based on his interpretation of John 12:32, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself,” rang in my ears. Despite a Biblical theology which trumpets a penchant for believing in “the plain meaning of Scripture,” this passage seems to elude our conservative brethren, who by their actions continually suggest that the Lord’s intention was to bring only some to himself. Here at Shady and Walnut, in an effort to be faithful to our Lord, will continue to endeavor to welcome all in the Name of Christ.

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Comments

Amen, and amen! :-D

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 11 November 2007 at 11:38pm GMT

Dr. Lewis is a refreshing and uplifting contrast to the egomaniacal and Calvinist Robert Duncan. Duncan's view really does parallel the Church of the Confederacy, and hate and division and dominance continues to be the focus of those who, like Duncan, would seek to turn the historical broad Anglican Communion into a Calvinist communion of exclusion. Thanks to Dr. Lewis for pulling away the curtain to reveal Bishop Duncan as a phony manipulator.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 12:23am GMT

An excellent piece of work. I wish certain English bishops, following +Michael Nazir-Ali's initiative in supporting +Bob Pittsburgh, would read this article and reflect upon it before giving their blessing for schism in TEC. The disaffected Ducanites are not little children being abused by their Nanny, PB Jefferts Schori, who need rescuing by Global South Primates.

Posted by: John Henry on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 1:09am GMT

brilliant........painfully brilliant!!

Posted by: williex2 on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 1:13am GMT

It is shameful for Dr. Lewis to play (by association) the race card in this situation. If Dr. Lewis hadn't been so engrossed with pondering Archbishop Tutu's address, he might have actually heard Nancy Bolden, chair of the Racism Commission, praise Bishop Duncan and Bishop Scriven for their solid support in the work of eradicating racism in our community.

Posted by: David Wilson on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 1:57am GMT

I am heartened by such calm and considered thinking. But I am still sorrowful that Dr Williams has not shown the pastoral heart & courage of the Presiding Bishop. She has offered her fellow bishops a clear statement of the unaviodable implications of the actions they propose to take. Dr Williams has, at best, remained silent.

Posted by: Commentator on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 7:45am GMT

Fr. Lewis, please recall is the Rector of Calvary Pittsburgh. Calvary is the church that sued +Duncan and the diocese for diverting or attempting to divert its funds intended for TEC to his Network. I believe, at the time, +Duncan's immediate reaction was to threaten to haul Lewis+ before the standing committee of the diocese and have him removed....Parishes do not sue their bishops. ...Lewis+'s action one of insubordination.
Despite many attempts of the diocese to get the case dismissed, the civil court agreed to hear it and it eventually settled. (Visit the Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh or Calvary's website or the Allegheny County Prothonotary's office for details.) The settlement included a confidentiality agreement. Ironically, on belief that +Duncan was violating the settlement agreement in continuing an alleged effort to remove assets, in 2006, Calvary filed a petition with the court to compel compliance. The diocese filed a motion to have the petition dismissed. Again, the Court decided to hear it and because of that action, and the discovery that resulted, (subsequently being made public because of its attachment to court documents), +Duncan's efforts and plans were made public. This happened last March, shortly AFTER Tanzania. Had the primates, meeting in February been aware of +Duncan's activities with the Global South Steering Committee, it is entirely possible that Dar-es Salaam would have gone very differently.

Because of Lewis' and his church's action in the face of +Duncan's threats, +Duncan has been exposed. Although +Duncan "involved" his parishes in discussions and plans in the Spring of 2007, the documents, particularly one now referred to as "Westfield's Response" and a secret memo called Memo to the Global South Steering Committee reveal that he had already committed himself to a course of action the previous November in Fairfax Va. +Duncan revealed the existence of the GS Memo, two days before the court discovery process would have compelled it. (Nor reference made to Westfield's response which, in fact, maybe even more disconcerting.

Should presentment (a process similar in purpose to a civil indictment) for a church take place of +Duncan, +Iker, +Schofield, these documents, only available because of Lewis+ and his church's suit, will likely play a major part.

Posted by: EPfizH on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 1:22pm GMT

Thank you, Fr. Lewis.

Duncan's Confederacy analogy also fails in this instance because the founding of the PECCSA had to do with territorial integrity of a national church for a new "nation" -- the very thing Duncan is now undoing in his effort to realign a US diocese with an overseas jurisdiction -- without the canonical process of General Convention, and in secession from it -- not as part of a new nation, but towards a non-geographical affinity grouping.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 5:11pm GMT

Many, many thanks, Mr. Lewis. From the heart.

People who hate must be exposed.

Posted by: Leonel on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 6:46pm GMT

It is good to eliminate racism but many souls have then found they were being used to repress others. Opportunism might appeal to some, but God looks beyond the bribes to whether true justice is being meted out. God does not show partiality and God knows white washing.

Job 13:7-12 Would souls speak wickedly on God’s behalf, do they foolishly think they can deceive God as they might deceive men? Their maxims are proverbs of ashes; their defenses are merely clay.

Deceitful walls that, even though whitewashed, simply dissolve. Would they ensnare the lives of others but preserve their own? They have profaned God’s name for a taste of alcohol and some scraps of bread. “By lying to my people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not have died... I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power... Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways… I will save my people from your hands…’ ” (see Ezkekiel 13:10-23)

Isaiah 30:9-22 These were rebellious deceitful children, who said to seers… “Tell us pleasant things … stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” But because they rejected the message and “…relied on oppression and depended on deceit, this sin will become… like a high wall… that collapses … shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found…“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it…Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion…”

Micah 4:11-13 While many had called for Zion to be defiled, they did not know the thoughts of the God nor understand God’s plan. They were gathered so that Zion could rise and thresh and their ill-gotten gains be devoted to God.

Isaiah 54:13-17 All children will be taught by God and great will be their peace. Tyranny will be far removed and anyone who attacks is not doing God’s bidding. While God created the destroyer to work havoc; no weapon forged against us will prevail, and we will refute every tongue that accuses us. This is our vindication from God.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 7:46pm GMT

It is curious (and it would be amusing if not so tragic) that amidst all the whinging of the puir wee persecuted "conservatives," the only example we have of a bishop threatening a parish or a priest not in clear violation of canons is Duncan's attack on Calvery Church.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 7:48pm GMT

Harold Lewis and Desmond Tutu forget that just fifteen verses after he says "he has drawn all to Himself", he also states that there will be those who do not believe and that judgment will await them:

47"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.

Posted by: robroy on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 8:46pm GMT

How will we ever be grateful enough to Fr. Harold Lewis, Calvary Church, and the Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh for standing up for the Episcopal Church in these dark days in Pittsburgh?

Those of us who are not immediately present on the Pittsburgh scene can only do our best to support these courageous and undaunted people by prayer and every encouragement we can think of.

Bless you all and thank you for being our hands and voices!

Posted by: John-Julian, OJN on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 8:50pm GMT

I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me...

Ah, you mean that anti-trinitarian text?

Some would say his words, not Paul's (or whoever writes in the name of Paul).

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 13 November 2007 at 3:02pm GMT

and Tutu has not spotted that v33 explains v32.......and this plus the immediate chapter make it very hard to argue that it means all are saved regardless...

Embarassing to quote from a chapter and make a point which is not supported in the same chapter...

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 9:00am GMT

Re-read the passage, accuser/destroyer paradigms are refuted:

47"As for the person who hears my words but does NOT keep them, I do NOT judge him. For I did NOT come to judge the world, but to SAVE it. 48There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day."

Daniel 8:23-25 “…a master of intrigue, will arise… He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does… he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.”

Zechariah 4:6 to 5:4 “…‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. “What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground....”

Daniel 7:21-26 "...this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them ,until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High... the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever."

God who formed and created this earth made it to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18), God created souls whose missives are for peace (e.g. Levi) and who are ordained to be both a light to the "chosen" peoples and to the gentiles (Isaiah 49:6). Ancient Wisdom who was with God when the earth was formed, who was craftsman at his side, rejoicing in God’s whole world and delighting in mankind… all who hate Wisdom love death (Proverbs 8:22-36). They have forgotten God’s promised everlasting covenant made manifest through the faithful love promised to David.God’s words do not return empty but accomplish what God desires. We go out in joy and are led forth in peace (Isaiah 55:3-13) Nor do we move in haste or flight; for the LORD goes before us, the God of Israel is our rear guard (Isaiah 52:2)

Any who attack us are not from God but the accuser/destroyer: they love desecration and death and thus have broken covenant and their branches of union and favour have been broken off (Zechariah 11:4-17).

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 10:13am GMT

NP: you must feel happy that you're so much better a biblical interpreter (and therefore a Christian)than Archbishop Tutu is.
What it shows me is that twisting biblical quotes gets you to justifying any amount of nastiness, as Tutu is well aware. I recently read Abp Huddleston's "Take Naught for your Comfort," which has affected my thinking a lot. Huddleston wrote the book principally as a challenge to Anglicans to recognise the evil of Apartheid, which was justified as biblical by Dutch Reformed Calvinists wielding an array of Bible quotes in exactly the way that you do on this issue. You must be well aware of all this, given your background. So why on earth can you not see the parallels?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 12:48pm GMT

Mark - I understand SA very well and think Tutu was a hero in that struggle......a great hero, worthy of respect but that does not mean his interpretation of John12v32 is right.

Do you really want to argue that John 12v32 does not mean what John 12v33 says it means???

And do you want to accept an interpretation of v 32 which is contradicted in its own chapter?

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 4:33pm GMT

NP, what are you getting at with the whole John 12 business? Is it just that Jesus made the remark as some sort of prophecy as to how He would die? Is that all you think it meant? What about the "draw all men unto me" part? He certainly wasn't saying that everybody on Earth at the time, or even everybody in Jerusalem would come out to watch Him die, so what do you think it means? More importantly, what does verse 40 mean? And verse 47.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 8:09pm GMT

NP: If I have to choose an Anglican of stature whose interpretation to follow, I'm afraid I choose Tutu in preference to you any day, my dear. Now would you care to address some of the substantive points I have been raising with you, rather than just fall silent except to smirkingly throw me a random Bibke verse at me every now and then?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 8:50pm GMT

NP: so what do you think about the Dutch Reformed Church's use of Scripture to support apartheid?
Could you please answer one of my questions for once?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 9:13pm GMT

Harold Lewis and Desmond Tutu forget that just fifteen verses after he says "he has drawn all to Himself", he also states that there will be those who do not believe and that judgment will await them:

47"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.

Posted by: robroy on Monday, 12 November 2007 at 8:46pm GMT

We know of this reference homophobia etc-- but didnt like to press it upon the poor conservatives, who are so troubled right now.

Posted by: L Roberts on Thursday, 15 November 2007 at 11:56am GMT

Mark - you have not raised important points....I am waiting for you to start talking about prawns any moment....

The Dutch Reformed Church's use of Scripture to support apartheid was an abuse of scripture.....raising examples of those who have ignored scripture in the past, like them, is not going to get anyone to ignore the verses you want them to ignore today.

The Dutch Reformed Church abused certain verses to justify what people in its churches wants to do anyway. They had to ignore many verses in order to make their justification for certain sins.....and they convinced very few others that their interpretations of scripture were right........ sounds like TECUSA to me.

Your old lecturer NT Wright and others are not opposed to TECUSA innovations because they are prejudiced.....as they have made clear repeatedly, they cannot see the case from scripture (just as most Christians could not see the case from scripture for the DRC's justification of racism and oppression)

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 15 November 2007 at 12:21pm GMT

"The Dutch Reformed Church abused certain verses to justify what people in its churches wants to do anyway."

And how exactly does this make them different from you?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 15 November 2007 at 1:26pm GMT

Is NP trying to say they cannot see because they are prejudiced?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 15 November 2007 at 1:49pm GMT

NP

I think Fr Mark was referring to the points he made in this thread:

Posted by Fr Mark at Wednesday, 7 November 2007 at 5:20pm GMT
http://thinkinganglicans.org.uk/mt/comments?entry_id=2726


If they're not valid in your view, maybe you could at least explain why not?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 15 November 2007 at 4:18pm GMT

Exactly, Erika, thanks very much. I post up questions for NP, which he then ignores until that thread disappears - in the meanwhile he is busy smiting and slaying everyone else with his repertoire of Bible missiles.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 8:43am GMT

Mark - I don't bother responding to smokescreens as that is a waste of time. As I have said, you will soon ask me if I eat prawns...

You can rightly point out many sins amongst evangelicals.....none of these justify further sinning or compromises to justify certain sins.

I can ask you similar questions eg why do liberals take the bible quite literally when it talks about greed and materialism but not when it talks about certain other issues?

Main point: pointing out the sins of others never justifies our own sin.

-You mentioned the publican - he we commended for his repentance.
-You mentioned the woman caught in adultery - she was told to go and sin no more.....she was not told that her sinning was understandable and therefore acceptable to God, was she??

We must teach what Christ taught if we are to be true to him. We cannot with integrity say he condones certain things which the bible consistently calls sinful with no evidence to support that view....can we? We cannot abuse his grace....Romans 6:1 and we must live to please a holy God (1 john 1 / Eph 5:1-21)

Posted by: NP on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 12:25pm GMT

NP: I do not share your view of God. To me, your idea of God is someone preoccupied with sin/obedience/authority/judgement/punishment. Those are the words your posts repeatedly employ, at least. My view of God is that He rejoices and delights in, lifts up, holds, stands alongside, guides and strengthens His wonderful creation in all its richness. I am more interested in the positives than the negatives.
Now, we just have to admit there here are two different ways to look at God. I'm not trying to throw you out of the Church in which I am a priest because you have a different view, and you are always as welcome as anyone else to receive communion from me at the altar. This, despite the fact that I think your expression of your view of God is actually damaging to the Church, as you put off people massively. And it is damaging to you too, evidently, as it makes you so bitter and snide. You haven't exactly been winning hearts and minds to the cause on TA, have you? And I don't suppose you are doing so on the proverbial Clapham omnibus, either.
However, being an Anglican, I am used to people not seeing theology my way, and that's just that. So why can you not respond in the same way? Why would any normal straight man be so obsessed with homosexuality that he needs to vituperate so much?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 1:05pm GMT

NP
"I can ask you similar questions eg why do liberals take the bible quite literally when it talks about greed and materialism "

Are you sure they do that? I don't know many liberals who live a life of poverty. We all have more posessions than we need, bank accounts, pensions (despite the lilies in the field story!) etc.
The reason it doesn't worry us so much is precisely because we don't read the bible as a law book containing a string of regulations.

But, those who clearly do believe that the bible is God's written rule book, have no such excuse. You have to be measured by the yardstick you apply to others.

That's why the question of materialism and divorce is relevant.
And I would still like an answer to it please.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 1:23pm GMT

NP - "Mark - I don't bother responding to smokescreens as that is a waste of time."

Last time I saw that tactic used in a religious debate was by Fred Phelps. In case you missed the documentary "Louis Theroux: The Most Hated Family In America":-

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4413388146858417528

You'll like Fred, he's *very* orthodox.

Posted by: Stephen Roberts on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 1:43pm GMT

"We must teach what Christ taught if we are to be true to him."

Show me where Christ--not Paul, not James, not some other letter writer, and certainly not the authors of Leviticus or Deuteronomy--clearly says that what we now call "homosexuality" (a term unknown to Jesus in any language) is sinful.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 2:57pm GMT

NP wrote: "I can ask you similar questions eg why do liberals take the bible quite literally when it talks about greed and materialism but not when it talks about certain other issues?"

Because Christ and his Church from its early days say that the OT Traditions of the Elders are not valid for the Church.

Mark 7, Acts 15 & c.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 5:03pm GMT

NP wrote: "Main point: pointing out the sins of others never justifies our own sin."

Then why do you? What's your point?

NP wrote: "You mentioned the publican – he was commended for his repentance."

But I see no repentance in you, Nersen.

NP wrote: "You mentioned the woman caught in adultery – she was told to go and sin no more... she was not told that her sinning was understandable and therefore acceptable to God, was she??"

Should she?

I am very amazed that you, time after another, resort to the story about the woman in the Temple yard, as if it "proved" your faulty and sub-christian theology in some way. I doesn't.

The woman had broken Civil law not the 6th/7th Commandment, which was not yet about "marriage breaking". Moixeía didn't become Modern "Adultery" before well into the 2nd Millennium. It means “disloyalty”, not “sex”.

The Civil offence was Disloyalty towards the Head of the House / Group. Nothing in the story says she was one of the wives of the Husband, or even married.

A member of one House had been caught trousers down with a member of another House without permission (cf parallels in Genesis 20, 21 and 26, where such permission is implied).

This story was originally Luke 21:398ff, contrasting the disloyalty of the woman (and the man) with the, quite other, disloyalty of Judas in the following chapter Luke 22:1ff.

I, for one, think that the treason of Judas comes off very badly in comparison…

But the story does not address the late Modern academic category of “sexual immorality”. Nothing in the Bible ever does.

“Sex” wasn’t invented, or rather; it was not invented as a “problem”, ethic or otherwise, outside of the Alexandrian Museiån (because of its heathen ideology) – and so wasn’t defined.

Which is to say that is was not a “problem”; what is not a problem generally is not defined ;=)

And personally, I think you better whatch it when it comes to abusing his Grace.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 5:41pm GMT

"You have to be measured by the yardstick you apply to others."

The strength of sin is the Law. The idea that Law saves is a product of the Fallen creation, not of the New Creation we enter at baptism. We are loved by God. Period. Nothing can separate us from that love. We are not justified by our obedience. We do things pleasing to God when we follow his will, but we don't buy His love, that's for free. I wonder if some people practice this kind of justification by works because they have never experienced, or simply don't understand, unconditional love. NP clearly doesn't. We must repent BEFORE God loves us, we must obey or be cast out. It's very human to think like that, and very fallen. NP needs to see Jesus casting out those NP thinks are sinful, ignoring the fact that Jesus reserved His most scathing judgements for those whose religion is a mirror of NP's own. I certainly hope for his sake he practices some mercy he hides from the rest of us, or I'll have to share a warm place up close to the fire with him, and that wouldn't be pretty:-) There have been saints who did exactly that, you know, appeared to be completely outside the Gospel, while in fact they were totally devoted to its precepts, and that wasn't found out till after they were dead. Maybe NP is one of those?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 8:56pm GMT

"I wonder if some people practice this kind of justification by works because they have never experienced, or simply don't understand, unconditional love. NP clearly doesn't. "

That's why I am so very reluctant to judge anybody. I can discern how they behave but I cannot judge the reasons behind it. They may not be culpable. If you have never experienced true love, how can you be blamed for not understanding it! It doesn't make you right, but it doesn't make you wilfully wrong either.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 16 November 2007 at 10:11pm GMT

"That's why I am so very reluctant to judge anybody."

So am I, Erika, but the problem is, it's almost second nature for me. It's just so darned easy!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 17 November 2007 at 9:11pm GMT

Ford,
From your posts here I get the impression that discerning what others are about is almost second nture for you. I have never found that you judge them.

How sad it is that "judgement" has in modern English become synonymous for "condemnation" and we no longer distinguish sufficiently between the two.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 17 November 2007 at 9:30pm GMT

Thanks, Erika, but be aware that I hit 'delete' as much as I hit 'post' because even I, after reading what I wrote, don't want it to appear on the Net! Even then, some of it is so vitriolic Simon, thanks be to God, doesn't let it through! I can be a lot more judgemental when I don't have the benefit of "preview post"!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 19 November 2007 at 2:31pm GMT

"but be aware that I hit 'delete' as much as I hit 'post' "

Me too!!!
You and I, we won't be free of sin any minute now:-)

But at least you have the awareness that some things are better not posted, maybe even better not written or thought.
Seems to me like you're on the right path.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 19 November 2007 at 2:41pm GMT

Thanks, again. Difficult though it may be, I do appreciate your admonishments, and your calling me back to the reality of some people's lives. I think we need to go out for pint or many! Round here, "scoff" means a big meal, "scuff" is a dance. One of the things being done to revive traditional danceing here is a dinner followed by a dance where people are taught the steps. It's often called a "Scoff and Scuff". If only we could one day sit down and vent our spleens over a good meal. We could call it a "Scoff and Scorn".

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 19 November 2007 at 3:29pm GMT

I'd like that very much Ford!
I appreciate being pulled back from looking at my own hurt at times and reminded of what it is Christ is calling us to be.

The nearest I'll get to Newfoundland will be Vancouver Island and Calgary next August. But who knows... yes, meeting up would be very very good.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 19 November 2007 at 4:32pm GMT

"I appreciate being pulled back from looking at my own hurt"

Erika, I've been thinking since yesterday about your eloquent description of your relationship. Mine is different: I don't have kids. One thing I wondered is if the differentiation is not straight vs gay, but childless vs "childed" (sorry). I rather suspect there is greater similarity between my relationship and that of my childless straight friends than between my relationship and yours. I also realize how much hurt I must have caused with all my "marriage is not about validating our relationships" stuff. I'm truly sorry. I still believe along those lines, but I definitely need to find a less hurtful way to conceptualize and express it. On the issue of SSBs, you may have done for me what was done on the issue of ordination of women. The trouble is, the person who did THAT was Don Harvey, and I doubt you'd want too close a comparison on that front!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 20 November 2007 at 4:33pm GMT

Ford,
thank you for your kind words. But please don't apologise! You made me examine my assumptions and helped me to affirm my views for myself. I must thank you.

Yes, the difference between childfree and childed (love it!) is probably very important. Most of my friends are straight and our lives are very very similar.

But I also have been wondering for a while whether another major difference isn't that I have been married before and fully and conventionally integrated into society. I have never had that experience of being different until comparatively recently and I'm not prepared for it.

My current love is so much deeper than my marriage was, and yet the church declares it as less valid. But I want to bless it in the same way my marriage was blessed, because it's so much more the "real" thing.

I suppose if I had grown up thinking of marriage as something straight people do I would be asking the same questions of it that you're asking. But since I've grown up knowing it's something that "I" do I can't understand why I should no longer be allowed.

Don Harvey? Well, I hope I will always be open to change, but I sincerely hope and pray it won't be that kind of change:-))

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 20 November 2007 at 6:37pm GMT

Erika: you express many important things so well here. I think you're on the other side of the Atlantic from me, but I can tell you, as a pastor acting pastorally, that I would marry you/bless your relationship, whichever you thought appropriate, whatever any bishop thought about it.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 20 November 2007 at 8:12pm GMT

Mark
thank you for your very kind post.
From your knowledge of HTB and London I assumed that you live in England (Simon did forward you an email from me the other day, I think).
Having lived and worked in London before I now live in a small village near Bristol.

A priest very close to me (sorry, I can't be more specific for obvious reasons)has also offered to bless our relationship. We truly have been amazed by the openness and welcome from many local churches and individuals, clergy and lay people. It's the official church that's the problem not those who know us.

But I feel very strongly about marriage and feel vaguely offended at being offered a "civil partnership" in England. My partner has a close friend in Canada, so we have decided to visit her next year and get married while we're there. I know it will "only" count as a civil partnership here but at least it will be the real thing for us. We're blessed that both our elderly parents and all our children as well as 2 lots of brothers and sisters plus some friends are all planning to be with us to witness our marriage.

We are truly blessed.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 20 November 2007 at 9:04pm GMT

Well done, that's great, Erika. And I'm really pleased that there are still some clergy around with a truly pastoral heart to be there for you too.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 20 November 2007 at 10:13pm GMT

Wonderful and good for you Erika. The "small village" church close to you is the real church as most Anglicans know it. I'm so very happy you found a supportive minister.

Our choir will be entering the UK at Bristol next summer, and will be at Exeter, perhaps Bristol itself and other southern cities. Would be wonderful to sing for you and your loved one.

Don't let anybody not tell you that giving and receiving love is Christ's greatest gift to us all. Congrats-

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Tuesday, 20 November 2007 at 11:54pm GMT

Choirboyfromhell

Thank you!
It would certainly be lovely to hear your choir. And if you'd like to meet up while you're here, let me know!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 21 November 2007 at 8:14am GMT
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