Resolution 4 Passed at the South Carolina Convention Today

This resolution just passed by majority vote–KSH.

Resolution R-4

Subject: A Resolution Requesting Withholding of Consent from the Episcopal Election in Northern Michigan

Offered by: the Very Rev. Craige Borrett, the Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon, Christ Saint Paul’s, Yonges Island

That this Diocesan Convention believes significant questions have been raised regarding the Rev. Kevin Thew Forester’s faithfulness to the Doctrine of the Trinity as this Church has received it and as it is defined and articulated in the Nicene Creed; and

That on the basis of these questions Convention recommends that the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina withhold its consent to the consecration of the Reverend Kevin Thew Forrester to the office of Bishop in the Episcopal Church; and

That this Convention strongly encourage the Bishops and Standing Committees of all other Episcopal Dioceses carefully and thoroughly to study especially those writings, statements, and sermons of the Reverend Kevin Thew Forester pertaining to the Doctrine of the Trinity and the nature of God.


The Rev. Kevin Thew Forester has been nominated and elected to serve in the office of bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan.

We are well to be reminded that a bishop in the Church of God is “to be a guardian of the Church’s faith, to lead us in confessing that faith…”(BCP pp. 519 from “The Consecration of a Bishop”)

However, in a recorded sermon delivered on Trinity Sunday posted on the St. Paul’s Church, Marquette MI website, the Rev. Kevin Thew Forester preached the following:

…One of the amazing insights I have found in the interfaith dialogue is that, no matter what you name that source, from which all life comes””you can name that source God, Abba; you may name that source Yahweh; you may name that source Allah; you may name that source “the great emptiness;” you can name that source many things, but what all the faiths in their wisdom have acknowledged in the interfaith dialogue is that, you and I, we’re not the source. We receive from the source, and what we are asked to do is give back to the source. In other words, what the interfaith dialogue has recognized is that there is a Trinitarian structure to life. That’s what I’m driving at this morning. We make the Trinity much too complex. The Trinitarian structure of life is this: is that everything that is comes from the source. And you can name the source what you want to name the source. And our response to that is with hearts of gratitude and thanksgiving, to return everything back to that source, and there’s a spirit who enables that return. Everything comes from God. We give it back to God. And the spirit gives us the heart of gratitude. That is the Trinitarian nature of life. And you can be a Buddhist, you can be a Muslim, you can be a Jew, and that makes sense. And we all develop more elaborate theologies, but the truth is we live and have our being in a God who asks only one thing of us: to grow into people who give thanks that God is our center, God is our life, that we are one with God. And as we grow into realization, that we are one with this God who lives in us, and the only thing God asks us is to give back everything in thanksgiving, we live. It’s what the Syrians said, “we will know what redemption truly is, we will come alive, we will be made to live,” because we will know””not because someone told us””because we know that God gives us life. And all God asks of us is “give it back to Me in return.”

There are simply too many theological questions raised here to be confident that this is someone who will preach and uphold the apostolic Trinitarian Faith.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, Theology

29 comments on “Resolution 4 Passed at the South Carolina Convention Today

  1. JoePewSitter says:

    Although I agree withthis…it might be a little ungracious for SC to be the point group on this one.

  2. Karen B. says:

    Wow. Thanks for leading the charge on this Kendall. A discussion of the Trinity that completely excises any mention of Jesus. Wow.
    This is worse than I feared.

    As to comment #1: who better to be the “point group” on this. If +Mark Lawrence was subjected to close scrutiny on consents the Dio. of SC has every right to expect and call for similar scrutiny of other controversial elections, as well as expecting the letter of the law re: canons to be followed, since SC was made to follow the exact letter of the law re: consents. Northern Michigan seems like it may not have followed the canons in its election process. Double-whammy reason for SC to object, though for me, the theological issues trump the process issues. Even if Forrester’s election passes canonical muster, the theological issues seem to disqualify him as a bishop for the ENTIRE CHURCH.

  3. A Senior Priest says:

    The guy is COMPLETELY revising not only the Christian faith, but also Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism. For a Christian to twist his own religion to his purposes is shameful enough. For a Christian to twist other people’s religions to suit his purposes is basically disdainful of the integrity of the other.

    And, for Mr Forrester’s information, the “great emptiness” in Buddhism is not God, it is not the “source” to which we give back, it is not the “other”, it is not transcendent in a “real” way. A little knowledge in the hands of a revisionist is a dangerous thing.

  4. Jon says:

    The thing that struck me about this passage is once again the mendacity of these creedal revisionists (Borg, Ann Holmes Redding, Forester, and others).

    I can cope with someone who frankly disbelieves the Creed (though I’d still object to them holding holy orders after coming to a place of such disbelief). Thus, when Spong says that he frankly rejects theism, I can deal with that: at least he’s honest.

    What just seems to me to be reprehensible on ANY level, for an atheist as well as a Christian, a communist as well an free market Smithian, a Yankees as well as a Red Sox fan, is to twist words into a pretzel so that they end up meaning the very opposite of their clear historic intent, with no other intention than deceiving people into thinking you mean one thing when you mean the opposite.

    This man clearly disbelieves in the Trinity: the claim that an Almighty God could be one and at the sometime be three PERSONS. He’s completely hijacked the historical meaning of the term.

    Now if he disbelieves in the Trinity — if he thinks that God is much more like a Great Emptiness than what Christianity teaches (a pulsing dynamic creative unity of three Persons in Love) — fine! Then say that. Say “I oppose Christianity.” Be like Betrand Russell and write an essay called “Why I am not a Christian.” But don’t say that you are a Trinitiarian Christian and then cross your fingers behind your back, redefining what all those words mean.

    See, it’s the lying here that bothers me. The decitfulness. The fellow now has a bishopric offered to him and suddenly he’s backpedalling and saying that there’s only one faith and that’s Christianity and he’s a Trinitarian Christian. Gag. Be a man — be honest about what you think. But don’t lie and don’t be an opportunist.

  5. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Oh, #1, it is very much to the point that DioSC be the point on this. No other Diocese before or after has had the scrutiny of the jot and tittle of the alleged canons of the current Episcopal Organization shoved down their collective throat. Little Miss PB should learn that sitting on her tuffet involves the curds and whey for all. A fact she she seems to disregard at random or when it suits her purposes. Too bad they believed in “canons” then, isn’t it? She certainly doesn’t so act now. Nor should the UPM-er’s escape the process in its entirety and fullness simply because the nominee whas her classmate and she is alleged to have pre-approved the process employed in “selection”. She has no authority for that either.

  6. Undergroundpewster says:

    Does this go out to all the standing committes and bishops?

  7. Rev. Patti Hale says:

    His discussion of “source” sounds straight out of Wayne Dyer.

    [italic]There are simply too many theological questions raised here to be confident that this is someone who will preach and uphold the apostolic Trinitarian Faith.[/italic]

    This sentence is blessedly concise and clear. Thank you.

  8. Rev. Patti Hale says:

    Geez…I can’t ever get that blockquote thing right. Sorry.

    [i]No worries, Rev. Patti. For future reference, it’s just i and /i that you put in the brackets. You don’t need the full word “italic” But even with the error, it’s perfectly clear what you meant, and that’s all that matters! –elfgirl[/i]

  9. Milton says:

    Again, an urgent, cutting, cogent and concise resolution passed by a bishop and a diocese who get it, and a devestatingly well-chosen sample of TF’s preaching and actual theology. CP bishops, do you have the spine to force this to a vote at General Invention 2009, or are you members of KJS’s academic field of study?

    Simply a stunning display of, not naivete, but disingenuousness raised to a diabolical level. I will not cut TF any slack or benefit of the doubt on this apalling abomination that leaps far over heresy into outright blasphemy. TF has made us, mere mortal fallen sinful hell-bound except for salvation human beings, the third member of the Holy Trinity, right up there with god the great emptiness and the Generic Spirit! Jesus Christ is totally scissored out of the picture! If I ever had the gall to assert such a damnable thing I would cry out immediately after, “Rocks fall on me, mountains hide me from the wrath of the Lamb!” Truly seems like one given over to a reprobate mind, sent and now preaching strong delusions and doctrines of demons!

  10. Dilbertnomore says:

    But, people, Forrester is such a PERFECT fit for TEC! How could even the quite correct thinking of the Diocese of SC deny TEC such a fitting bishop?

  11. TACit says:

    Very, very well done, Rev. Harmon, in the service of orthodox Christian faithfulness. From the sermon quote posted it would seem the man just wants to be a good monotheist and be left alone with all the, ahem, Unitarian Universalists infesting TEC who could easily subscribe to the outlined beliefs. My life experience spent largely within academic/research settings tells me that producing passionate UU’s is a spiritual plague in secular education. This is what we get for educating ‘un-reconstructed’ intelligence, and so it’s no wonder the Catholic Church maintains an entire education system.

  12. JoelGrigg says:

    since you are one of the offerer’s of this resolution, do you have a location where the Trinity Sunday Sermon can be located? I’ve been out there on St. Paul’s Marquette, MI web site and I see no sermon audio’s at all and only one sermon text.

  13. JoePewSitter says:

    If you leave TEC these things are no longer a concern.

    I think that is fair enough. What the majority believes goes with Thew’s thinking, let go, leave, and be free of all of this.

    [Comments instructing, encouraging or suggesting that readers leave a particular church or join another one are against comment policy at T19. This is taken extremely seriously and commenters in breach will have their comments edited or posting privileges restricted or in repeat cases removed – Elf]

  14. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “If you leave TEC these things are no longer a concern.”


    If you die these things are no longer a concern.

    If you go to a great movie, these things are no longer a concern.

    If you take some nice hallucinogenics, these things are no longer a concern.

    If you go be a Baptist, these things are no longer a concern.

    If you just become a congregationalist in your heart of hearts, these things are no longer a concern.

    If you cease reading about anything to do with TEC, these things are no longer a concern.

    If you hang out with a nice dog or a really cool person of the opposite sex, these things are no longer a concern.

    Whatever, “JoePewSitter” who inevitably gives himself away by saying precisely the same things over and over, in precisely the same way.

  15. Lutheran Visitor says:

    #12, it is actually quite easy to find on their website. Go to their homepage, click on the link for the prototype of their redesigned website, and then follow the links to streaming archived sermons. There is a clear link there labeled Trinity Sunday.

  16. robroy says:

    To add to Lutheran Visitor’s comment: [url= ]Here is the link. [/url]

  17. Creighton+ says:

    Sarcasm and cynicism made be the order of the day but is not charitable nor Christian. Making a clear faithful stand is! The Diocese of SC should lead the point on this matter even though some wish to equate what happened in SC as setting a precedent in Norther Michigan for this argument is completely incorrect and shows that some are seeking to make an argument that is another straw man.

    Thank you Bishop Lawrence, Priests, and delegates for your faithful witness.

  18. JoelGrigg says:

    thanks Lutheran Visitor and robroy

  19. Terry Tee says:

    I think it is fair to seach for Trinitarian analogies. The bishop-elect starts down that road, meaning well. In his analogy, each of us Christian folk would represent the Second Person of the Trinity. The Spirit (the Third Person) leads us back to the Father.

    There is precedent for this. In the gospel according to John, Jesus speaks along these lines in 17.21 where he says that we are in him and he is in the Father. There is a sense here of us swept up into the life of the Trinity.

    However, Forrester cannot say this, because (a) this participation in the Trinity depends on our unity with Christ and (b) it would spoil his desire to incorporate Judaism and Islam into the analogy. A Jew or Muslim could not say that they were taken into the divine life through Christ.

    I also agree with a previous poster that it is incredibly arrogant and patronising to other religions to assert that, without realising it, they are Trinitarian. In my experience it is possible to have good, indeed excellent, relations with Jews precisely because we acknowledge our differences, and that these differences are important to us.

  20. Albany+ says:

    The real issue is whether this can get any airtime in any forum that actually matters in TEC. If this can’t be discussed at length at General Convention, then TEC has zero theological integrity.

  21. Jill Woodliff says:

    The House of Bishops is currently meeting in Kanuga. This subject is sure to come up, at least informally. Prayers can be found here: and
    May God use this sorry mess to the establishment of His kingdom on earth.

  22. Brian from T19 says:

    Sweet irony.

  23. John Wilkins says:

    I don’t think this sermon is particularly egregious. I’m also a little less confident than Kendall that Forrester is a Buddhist in the same way other people become Muslims. There are Jesuit priests who are also Roshis: they don’t believe in reincarnation; nor do they believe that Buddha is God.

    All the resolution seems to say is that the sermon is confusing, and for that reason he should not be affirmed as a Bishop. but i’m not sure if you clearly enough demonstrate why his sermon is wrong.

    That said, I do agree that a bishop who has an incoherent Christology is far more serious problem than a bishop who is gay.

    Shall we now move on to the filioque clause?

  24. Milton says:

    #23 Thank you , John, for a stout defense of the clarity of the Gospel and its power to save fallen humanity from its otherwise inevitable eternal alienation from the LORD God, to whom the only way to the Father is God the Son, Jesus Christ. As always, I knew we could count on you for such.

    It does disturb me, just a little, that TF never mentions Jesus as the Second Person of the Trinity, and this on Trinity Sunday. Let’s see, he mentions “God” and describes him as “great emptiness” or as whatever’s-his-name, who is somehow the source of all things, from emptiness, no less. ……………., Hmmmmm,……….

    He mentions the Holy Spirit. Uhh, make that “the Spirit”. Oh dear,…… make that “a spirit”. ………….Is this a person, or a wind, or a feeling, or a distilled spirit? …….. Uhh, John,…oh, let’s get back to that, after reviewing 1 John 4:1-6. That is, if we can crack open that dusty old Bible without the cover breaking and falling off from dry rot.
    Something else nags at me. Before I confessed that I was a sinner and a rebel against God, preferring my own will to His perfect and holy will (and the two were NOT the same will!), I certainly was not one with God, and that was no illusion, that was the cold, dreadful reality. Even after salvation and regeneration by the most personable and Holy Spirit, my will is only imperfectly given over to His will, by His grace more and more, I pray. We certainly don’t start out one with God who is holy, holy, holy, and we aren’t reconciled to Him by sitting quietly and focusing on respiration. Only shed blood of a sinless human being could accomplish that, and there has only been and only ever will be one such man.

    Bt the way, if you really want to rehabilitate TF with orthodox Christianity, you might want to pick a better example for comparision than the Jesuits. They have for centuries unblushingly and sometimes proudly included notorious and open heretics among their ranks, and are a constant thorn in the side of Rome.

    The filioque clause? Not much of a problem either way, especially if you believe orthodox theology of the Holy Trinity, that each of the 3 persons is co-equal, co-eternal, uncreated, in unity in one Godhead, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.

    Uhh, John, please stop trying to reassure me about TF. I simply find myself more unsettled and uneasy about him-and about you-than before.

  25. Dilbertnomore says:

    Milton, that’s gonna leave a mark!

  26. Milton says:

    My intent is not to leave a mark, but to look into the wide open spaces that vague statements leave for the listener to assume agreement with the speaker, when in fact terms have often been so redefined as to gut them of their traditional meaning.

    I went to the link robroy provided (thanks, robroy!) and listened to the entire sermon, at 15 minutes toward the limit of the typical Episcopal attention span. I highly recommend everyone interested do the same. TF seems to start out decently, but stresses the different wordings of the Syrian Bible from the Septuagint (in wide use in the 1st century and the scriptures from which the NT writers quoted and to which they referred) on salvation. Jesus gets a lot of mentions by name, unlike the quote above. But TF harps on the Syrian use of “give life” or “bring life” or “make alive” as though it contradicted the Septuagint’s use of “to save” or “salvation” in the same passages. He either misses the point or intentionally deceives by ommision.

    He says that “salvation” is used as though there were something we were being saved from, in a negative sense, as though the Septuagint, and orthodox traditional Christianity with it, only consisted of a “Get Out of Hell Free” card, and never spoke of the restored relationship of fallen man to holy God. If we needed restoration, reconciliation, forgiveness, regeneration (and we did and do!), then we are not born “one with God” as TF implies that we already all are and only have to discover that reality through Zen meditation.

    TF repeatedly professes amazement, a sense of profound discovery, and a subtly implied realization that the Syrian Bible reveals how we have been duped and subjugated by the conspiracy of the church councils to supress this, the true and authentic and positive Gospel, in favor of the bad old negative Septuagint. He doth protest too much.

    TF made the amazing discovery that Jesus really never said we needed salvation, especially not from our sins, which TF cannot bring himself even to suggest might be the case for himself or his congregation. No, Jesus realized, better late than never, it having finally dawned on Him at his baptism (nice subtle tie-in with revisionist TEO baptismal abysmal covenant theology) that He was one with God, and that we all are, just like Him, one with God. No conviction, confession, repentance from sin required, no death to self, taking up our cross (shudder!) every day and following Him, no “no one comes to the Father except through Me” exclusivist, triumphalist kind of talk. Oh, no! Jesus came to make us alive! No mention of the automatic implication by sheer logic, stated explicitly in the NT and in the Gospels by this same Jesus, that the only reason one would need to be “made alive” is if one were not alive! Only a dead person needs to be made alive! “For why does one also hope for what one sees?” The Septuagint, and a safe bet says that the Syrian Bible as well, says both that we need “salvation” (from sin, by the way) and that we need to be ” made alive”, being by birth into fallen nature dead in sins and trespass. A distinction without a difference, a false dichotomy, a non-existent molehill magnified and projected onto a large screen by the Wizard of NMich!

    TF never affirms the Holy Trinity and the divinity of each of its Persons and their unity in one Godhead. He instead substitutes his own understanding that all religions illustrate a Trinitarian pattern to life, the persons of the Father and the Holy Spirit being depersonalized to “a great emptiness” and “a spirit” who gently points out to us blind morons that we were one with god-the-great-emptiness all along, and we just need to live up the life. Why TF didn’t just sit cross-legged and breathe in unison with the cosmos and the congregation for 5 minutes instead of redefining the Trinity out of existence (the Buddhist goal of Nirvana!) on Trinity Sunday with 15 minutes of verbal contortions and distortions is beyond me.

    As a side note, TF makes note without missing a beat of the presence of (we expected this) gay and straight (what, no Ls or Ts?) and Muslims in the congregation that day! Better hope no one tells their imam they were in a Christian church servi…., never mind! I never once heard in the sermon any mention of the divinity of Jesus in Himself, only that He showed us the way to the divine. Mohammed might still grumble a little, but TF’s seminary classmate KJS heard her “vehicle to the divine” Christology affirmed loud and clear.

  27. John Wilkins says:

    Milton, It seems that you are frustrated that Bishop Forrester didn’t actually explicate a complete systematic theology in a sermon.

    One of the interesting things you imply is that the service is, by nature, Christian. You seem astonished that he might refer to a Muslim. I admit, I al a bit uncomfortable with most interfaith dialogue myself, but I think it is worth interrogating what makes a “Christian” service. I say this because when I preach, I am ideally not preaching to Christians – who I hope have already been convinced. I’m trying to preach to those who aren’t convinced at all. so yes, I have Jews, Muslims and skeptics in my service, many of whom are unconvinced, but eager to find something that touches them. And no – they don’t take communion. But I do think one of our challenges is that Christians always seem to be talking amongst themselves about other people.

    I would also add that there are plenty of other places in the service where Fr. Forrester can affirm the trinity. I would be quite perplexed if he decided not to say the Nicene Creed. I would find it odd if he decided not to baptize in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit.

    Further, although you are mocking his theology, you do not quite argue against it. You seem to assume that it is wrong, but I challenge you to write how so. Because if the trinity is true, it should be true for everyone, including for those who don’t believe in it. That would be a non-relativistic, coherent, objective understanding of the trinity.

  28. Milton says:

    No, John, it seems wrongly to you. You can try to slant what I wrote, but I was clear. Anyone can go to SFIF’s latest post and read the sermon transcript, as well as the liturgy and Genesis passage that TF altered to sound like something right out of Zen Buddhism. PDF primary source documents as well as the mp3 audio sermon can be found there as well. Here is the link:

    Of course I wasn’t expecting a systematic theology in TF’s or anyone else’s one sermon. My point essentially was that TF depersonalized the 3 Persons of the Holy Trinity and even de-deified them, making the Father into the great-emptiness-whatever-you-call-him, and the Holy Spirit into “a spirit” who does nto bring into rememberance all things of the man God the Son Jesus Christ, but whsipers to us that we are already one with god, just as we are, no repentance from dead works and sin and no regeneration necessary. The Son is reduced to a man who also was unaware of his oneness with god until the cold water of the Jordan shocked him into awareness, at last realizing, the first human apparently to do so, that he was one with god all along, being totally unaware of it until that moment. One SFIF commenter put it quite well as Buddhist Adoptionism, that Jesus was born a mere mortal man like all of us who then attained enlightenment, not the Word who was in the beginning with God, and who WAS God. Far more could be said, and may be later, but my 17 yr. old daughter needs the computer for home school!

    By the way, John, what about the filioque clause, anyway?

  29. John Wilkins says:

    #28 – well you areprobably right, just as Islam probably descended from a sort of docetism, Buddhism is closest to Arianism or Adoptionism. At least a sort of Buddhism.

    However, I do think that there are going to be some rough patches when we talk about “depersonalizing” the three persons of the trinity. the Mormons, for example, take personalizing pretty literally. Jesus has a physical father. Who also has a physical father. Ad infinitum. I think that Forrester was fairly trying to translate the trinity to a modern worldview. I didn’t find it peculiarly heretical, but I think your frustration begins with this: “no repentance from dead works and sin and no regeneration necessary.”

    I think I see what you mean, but in my view Buddhism does have a location for sin and regeneration, but they don’t use the same vocabulary. In practice, they may look the same. And if Forrester calls out Jesus, and is effectively regenerated, what is the difference?