One South Carolina Rector Writes the Presiding Bishop from the Heart

Dear Bp. Jefferts Schori,

I am an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of South Carolina and attended the [recent] meeting on Monday with you at St. Andrews, Mt. Pleasant. As I was rising to speak, time was called so I did not have an opportunity to offer my thoughts to you and those of us gathered.

First, thank you for your willingness to come and be with us. It seems always essential to meet face-to-face when there is conflict, mistrust and disagreement between parties. So, I am glad for the opportunity provided us to meet with you and listen to you in person. Perhaps you were able to listen to us as well.

I certainly won’t attempt to speak all that is on my mind, but as a 3rd generation Episcopal priest, the angst and sadness I feel for this province of the Anglican Communion could not be any deeper. I’ve written you once before about this, in fact””the only two occasions I have ever felt called to communicate with the Presiding Bishop. The perspective I offer is this. A majority of Episcopalians has chosen new directions with regards to an understanding of the primacy of Scripture and Biblical authority, with regards to the uniqueness and supremacy of Jesus Christ and his saving work, and finally with regards to marriage of same-sex persons. (If you only agree that it is the last of these three, the rest written below still can stand.)The side you are on has won the political battle for the high ground. Now that your battle has been won, one of the most urgent questions that remain is how to treat the losers. One can continue to wield power and simply beat us into submission or drive us out of the family. One can use every jot and tittle of the letter of the law to demean, belittle and thoroughly bind us by forceful, aggressive litigation and by a ”˜take no prisoners’ mentality. In other words, we are being told to do it the way the winners would have it or face various forms of reprisal. For those of us on the loser’s side, it is embarrassing, humiliating and heart-rending.

As Dr. [Kendall] Harmon highlighted on Monday [February 25th], this is not about 45 parishes. It is countless more! I have hundreds in my parish alone who are still in the Episcopal Church, but barely hanging on. For me, the operative word is thousands. That is the word for the winners to remember. There are thousands upon thousands who have left the Episcopal Church, are leaving the Episcopal Church, or simply have totally detached from the Episcopal Church solely for the reasons of General Convention decisions of the past decade. Thousands, tens of thousands, are spiritually dislocated and have lost their spiritual home””exiles, in other words. Are the winners certain they wish to jettison them all?

And yet as I read Episcopal Life or read quotations from Executive Council or from the Presiding Bishop’s office, I read that all is fine, there is great ministry going on (And I believe that is true in spite of the circumstances, but not relevant to the issues at hand.), and this is a little storm soon to pass over. I’ve been hearing that since 2000, but I do not believe it is true. Neither do I believe the storm is abating as I believe I heard you suggest on Monday.

Is there another alternative that the winners might choose in how they might treat the losers? Is there a Christ-alternative that rises above the law that transcends usual human behaviors that would be life-giving for all? I believe there is! It has not been heeded thus far because of the unwillingness to move from power to love. But, the gospel finally stands only on a measure of love whose depth is as wide and deep as the measure of the cross of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Paul Zahl in his book Grace in Practice writes:

”¦the case I know best, has occurred in relation to the loss of status on the part of the ”˜orthodox’ or ”˜conservative’ minority of the Episcopal Church in relation to the struggle over human sexuality”¦.The interest of it here is not in the issue of Christian social ethics that precipitated it, but in the political defeat of a minority by a majority in an institutional church, and the way this defeat played out. No mercy was given. The result was total loss and splitting.

This is what happened. A victory in the form of a political vote was won, and the winning group was unable to assure the losers that a place would remain for dissidents within a comprehensive church. The minority appealed to the majority for ”˜space’ or toleration: a place of safety, a ”˜no-fly’ sector within the American Episcopal Church. This was not granted, and the spin-out of the long process of applications for such a place of safety is a paper trail worthy of study. But the victors, to whom the losers constantly appealed, did not give grace. Formal concession was never granted. The result was a species of martyrdom for ”˜conservative’ Episcopalian Christians. The formal result was a long-term hemorrhage, and the end of what had once been an uneasy but official unity. (p. 230)

I would offer that this is clearly the perception of thousands of present and former Episcopal Christians. As a presbyter of the Church I appeal to your high office, Bp. Jefferts Schori, to seek for ways of creating space for us to co-exist while we sort out the turmoil of disparate views of sexuality, Biblical authority, the supremacy of Christ. What the winners are doing is not working. Oliver Cromwell’s plea to his adversaries applies here to the winners yet again, ”˜I beseech thee by the bowels of Christ, could ye be wrong?’

In Christ,

–(The Rev.) Mike Lumpkin is rector, Saint Paul’s, Summerville, South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, Theology

98 comments on “One South Carolina Rector Writes the Presiding Bishop from the Heart

  1. robroy says:

    I do feel that it was unfortunate that the re-election of Mark Lawrence was approved. It only defers the crushing reality that will be imposed on rebel dioceses like South Carolina. Currently, the diocese is an safe island like the shire in Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring. It will be the last place in Middle earth where the darkness will come. But it will eventually come and when it does, there will be no allies left.

    There are those who say, wait for the covenant. Looking at the second draft and knowing that the GS primates willing to take on the TEc won’t be at Lambeth where the next draft will be hammered out, shows that this strategy is folly. The next draft will be all about border crossing and nothing about violations of Church tradition or scripture.

  2. Larry Morse says:

    He is in error. She has NOT taken the high ground, and she is not the winner. She is in fact the loser as his letter makes clear. Thousands? This is winning? How can he call himself one of the losers if he believes what he appears to believe? LM

  3. Observing says:

    Is the TEC taking this hardline approach because:
    – It thinks disciple is required to restore some order, kind of like the parent who realises their child has run wild after being offered no boundaries, and once they become a teenager tries to tame them?
    -It hates conservatives and think they are a bigoted bunch of people who have no place in their church?

    I think for most of the leadership, its probably the former, but there are probably a few exceptions. Given that is probably their mindset the strategy of those who choose to remain probably needs to be less confrontational if they hope to survive in TEC long enough to start influencing the changes they think need to be made. Anything they say at the moment is filtered through this “I have to stop this rebellion” mindset, which means the TEC leaders are not really listening to what they are saying. The conservative voice needs to break that mindset before they can hope to make any real progress.

  4. Dan Crawford says:

    The issue is not whether the children have run wild after being offered no boundaries – the parents have run wild after no boundaries were set, and after years of neglect, the children are being systematically and brutally abused.

  5. Bob G+ says:

    My ordaining bishop was approved for ordination, went to seminary, and then was told that the Church wasn’t ready yet for someone like him to be ordained a priest, so he wasn’t. There weren’t parishes that would hire him, he was told. It wasn’t until a new bishop was consecrated was he able to be ordained. He was black.

    For the diocesan bishop and all those Episcopalians who agreed with him, would anyone agree that they had the right not to ordain or hire a black man because he was black (or still have that right) as Christians? The Church changed its attitude, and for many good Episcopalians even their interpretation of Scripture concerning the place of non-whites in the workings of the Church, without the rejection of Scripture as our primary authority.

    For too many of us – this “us” I’m talking about do not question the authority of Scripture but question our fallible ability to rightly understand it concerning the homosexual issue – for many of us what we see by many (not all) of the Reasserters seems too similar to the attitude as this former bishop that would not ordain my ordaining bishop because he was black. If you cannot see that there is a difference between those who have a very low-view of Scripture and call for a full-inclusion of gay people and those who do have a high-view of Scripture and call for the inclusion because of Scripture is a mistake. It is a difference of interpretation, not authority. The putting aside of Scripture is different than a call for a re-examination of Scripture leading to a different interpretation of it concerning homosexuality. There are plenty of examples throughout the history of the Church of the latter.

    I’m all for the majority treating the minor well – that is why our system of federal government works against the “tyranny of the majority.” But, in a “democratic system,” there has to be a loyal opposition, the minority, for the system to work. If we all think it is all or nothing, then a democratic system cannot prevail – politically or ecclesiastically. I’ve seen the faces of those in the majority who would make up a tyranny, but I am now witnessing too many of the minority that refuse to be a loyal opposition, but would rather violate ordination vows and canons to take property and justify it because the acts of others they don’t like or don’t agree with in the majority.

    When the Republicans lost the congress during the last election, if they attempted to pull the capital building out from under the Constitution and decided that they were going to create a new form of government and a new country for all those red states rather than become the minority and be under the control of the Democrats, well that is what some of the actions of those who are leaving the TEC attempting to take diocese and parishes with them look like to “us” – those who are orthodox in all forms but still call for a reconsideration of what Scripture actually does and does not say about a certain class of people.

    I agree with the writer that there needs to be a different way of working through all this. That different way will not be how either of the two sides are currently conducting themselves, however.

  6. Bob G+ says:

    Sorry for my bad grammar in the above post – I’m late for work.

  7. Nowellco says:

    It would be foolish for Jefferts-Schori to cede ground or space to her vanquished foes. She knows well the effects a little leaven can have on the whole loaf. There is no compelling reason for her to allow the heresy of orthodoxy a foothold. This appeal for graciousness will fall on deaf ears.

  8. Br. Michael says:

    We see in Bob G the mind of the reappraiser. What they give with one hand they take away with the other. The Bible is authority, but in their mind “interpretation” renders it as malliable as a wad of clay. If Scripture is not clear on the issue of homosexual sex then it is not clear on anything.

  9. edistobeachwalker says:

    The slavery analogy which the Presiding Bishop was said by those present to use simply does not work:

  10. RMBruton says:

    Let us know what KJS reply is to Rev’d Lumpkin’s letter.

  11. Sarah1 says:

    I have sympathy for Mike Lumpkin.

    But it is disturbing to me to see an appeal written to the PB.

    What it indicates to me is that he just doesn’t get it yet. Appealing to the progressive activists who have gained power at our national level — and that’s baldly what has happened — is like appealing to people leading the French Revolution or the Russian Marxist revolt. An appeal means that you’ve shown that you are with the wrong side — and should be taken down, certainly not “extended mercy” or whatever antiquated “Christian” notion that is. It’s also acting as if the progressive activists are somehow under the same foundational worldview as Mike Lumpkin — which again means that he needs to read more and study their history or maybe attend another General Convention or three.

    Here are a few more things that I disagree with in his letter.

    1) “A majority of Episcopalians has chosen new directions with regards to an understanding of the primacy of Scripture and Biblical authority, with regards to the uniqueness and supremacy of Jesus Christ and his saving work, and finally with regards to marriage of same-sex persons.”

    I disagree — a group of people have carefully gained political power at various levels of the church and they simply don’t give a flying fig what “a majority of Episcopalians” believes.

    2) The group of progressive activists heartily want to “drive us out of the family” if we aren’t going to sit down, shut up, and send in that check. They urgently hope that we will leave. That would take care of a lot of their challenges.

    3) “Are the winners certain they wish to jettison them all?”

    Absolutely! After all, it’s quality, not quantity. ; > ) They can’t wait for all the holders of that old primitive gospel to get out, the sooner the better that that bunch of neanderthals leave.

    There are a bit more people who hold to the gospel than they had thought, and the re-education camps didn’t work too well, and if they’re not going to send money, then by all means get out.

    4) “Is there a Christ-alternative that rises above the law that transcends usual human behaviors that would be life-giving for all?”

    There might be, but there again that implies that we are a church under the same foundational worldview, rather than a church made up of two gospels.

    5) “For those of us on the loser’s side, it is embarrassing, humiliating and heart-rending.”

    Hmmm. I’m not remotely embarrassed or humiliated. It’s certainly heart-rending, but being “embarrassed” or “humiliated” implies that somehow these people’s actions are actually worthy of respect. Losing isn’t, to my mind, embarrassing or humiliating. It just is.

    Personally I think every day that goes by as the winning political side in TEC demonstrates their gospel, is a public relations loss for them. They’re not going to be able to help demonstrating their gospel for the world to see, and thanks to blogland, pretty much every week now they will be doing the old jack-booted thug imitation and it certainly looks bad for them.

    That’s a good thing, in my opinion.

    But maybe other reasserters are embarrassed somehow or humiliated — maybe I’ve misread those I hang out with. I haven’t seen that. Being vanquished on the field of battle or in the church isn’t “embarrassing” to my mind, but I’m going to ask around and see if others think as I do.

  12. Br. Michael says:

    9, actually Gagnon says the closer analogy is to that of incest. And of course they continue to ignore the issue of the bisexuals. I think the main reason is that acceptance of that immorality is 20 years behind that of homosexual sex.

  13. Bob G+ says:

    It is too easy for too many Reasserters to jump to conclusions of apostasy when someone presses for a re-examination of Scripture and comes to a different conclusion about the interpretation of Scripture concerning homosexuality. It is too easy for too many Reappraisers to jump to the conclusion that a reasoned argument against acceptance of homosexuality is simply unrepentant bigotry and hatred. One of the reasons that the American-Evangelical community has so little effect upon the gay community (secular or Christian) is because the picture they paint of the typical gay person does not bear any resemblance to the real life they lead.

    There does need to be a third way of dealing with all this, but until there can be a recognition no both sides that reasonable people can hold different positions on the interpretation of Scripture as we all continue to discern the will of God through His Word and still be good, faithful, God-loving Christians, that different will never happen.

    1 Corinthians 13 can not be more applicable and important than now, particularly as we try to find an honestly Christian response to our fellow, but disagreeing, brothers and sisters! We all, both sides, have yielded ourselves to the secular, political culture of polarization, stigmatization, non-compromise, and hatred. This isn’t the way of God, and we have all failed up to this point.

    [b]Br. Michael (#8).[/b] – Long before I became an Episcopalian, when I was a member of the Assemblies of God and working in campus ministry, I began to question the standard line of the ex-gay and anti-gay positions, which I taught and believed for most of my then adult life. Why? Not because I thought the Bible could bend to whatever we wanted it to say, not because I didn’t consider it to be the very Word of God written, not because I did not believe in its authority, but because what the ex-gay and anti-gay crowd was demanding Scripture to say was not consistent and too colored by cultural bias – just like I saw in the Scriptural and cultural positions of those Christians who argued against inter-racial marriage and the place of women in the Church. I changed my opinion because of my study Scripture and the authority I gave it and because of what too many American-Evangelical theologians and Biblical scholars were writing at the time. In addition, the gay people I knew did not bear any resemblance to the caricature of the “gay-lifestyle” presented by the anti-gay groups. Of course, this was before the Religious Right organizations picked up the ex-gay and anti-gay movement as a political device. Now, for too many American-Evangelicals, being anti-gay has become a tenant by which to judge whether one is really a Christian or not.

  14. WestJ says:

    KJS is not a winner, she and the “reappraisers” are losers. Read Revelation, God is in control and He wins. We in South Carolina are in a difficult, but glorious, position. From what I have heard, +Lawrence is a fantastic leader and our clergy are committed to following his lead. Will SC be the ones to lead the national Church to repentance? The odds are not good, but if we don’t try, we shall surely fail.

    To expand on the Lord of the Rings analogy, the Shire was going to be the last outpost, but in the end, because Frodo and Sam did not give up, evil was defeated. Perhaps +Lawrence is playing the part of Frodo, who knows?

    As far as the comment in #5, I call BS. The race issue is a red herring and completely false. Those who opposed ordination on the basis of race were wrong, as the New Testament clearly shows.
    From my clergy’s report, KJS is a Unitarian. She believes that God loves everybody (true) and therefore everybody is going to be saved (false). She views scripture through the lens of experience, warping the scripture to match her “experience” and justifying this as “Anglican” because of the “three legged stool” of scripture, tradition and “reason”. Unfortunately, she believes that experience trumps all. This is where she is in error. Scripture always wins.

    She and TEC are promoting a different religion from what we practice in the Diocese of SC, one of affirmation instead of transformation. I consider KJS and her ilk as a cancer in the body of Christ that should be removed, but I am willing to follow my bishop’s lead.

  15. Tar Heel says:

    Sarah, well said.

  16. WestJ says:

    I meant to add, that as far as homosexual activity is concerned, it was wrong 4000+ years ago, it was wrong 2000 years ago, it is wrong now, and it always will be wrong. No amount of “experience” and hand wringing will ever make it right. It has nothing to do with bigotry.

  17. Phil says:

    Bob G+ #13 – essentially, it seems to me, your side decided on the answer first, then thought about how to twist Scripture to fit. That isn’t a “different interpretation” of Scripture, any more than it was when the Arians decided Christ was not God and also sought ways to proof-text.

    Even if I take your remarks at face value, we both know there have always been gays that might have shown themselves to be “good people” to those around them. Strangely, it never had an impact until the ’60s and beyond, when the culture capitulated to secular political activism. Odd, isn’t it? These perfectly valid (in your view) other ways of looking at Scripture were always available, and yet nobody thought of them until Free Love became the watchword of the day. Even then, the society churches didn’t do much with the New Math until right after Ellen, Will & Grace, ad nauseum.

    That’s too much of a coincidence for me to accept.

  18. Cennydd says:

    I noticed one thing right away. No mention was made of the fact that, beginning forty years ago…..or thereabout…..a campaign was begun by two tiny minorities with the plot to change society and seize control of America’s Mainline denominations. This, in large part, has been successful. It is certainly the case with regard to The Episcopal Church. I refer, of course, to Women’s Lib and the LBGT lobby.

  19. Cennydd says:

    Unfortunately, America’s Anglicans fell for it……hook, line, and sinker……except for those who saw it coming and left for other Anglican jurisdictions. I was one of those who stuck it out for as long as they could; finally leaving when my bishop and diocese left…..with no regrets.

  20. Br. Michael says:

    13, your argument is just rationalization for your rejection of the God’s word. You can put all the lipstick on it you want. By your own argument experience and how you feel about something trumps God’s revelation.

  21. Alli B says:

    Bob G+, I have two relatives and many friends who are gay. I love them, but it doesn’t change my view that based on the Scriptures homosexual sex is wrong. Your view seems to be in line with what Gene Robinson has said, that if only people got to know a few gay people they would change their minds about them. This is faulty on two levels. One, our principles should be absolute, not based on sympathy. Two, it’s insulting to be told that if you disagree with the homosexual lifestyle, you must not have allowed yourself to get to know any gay people. Bob, there is a reason that Lady Justice has a blindfold. Principles are supposed to be immovable. That’s also why there are not supposed to be friends or relatives on juries. Think about it. And I would like for once to get an answer to this question from someone on your side: If you have respect for my views, and you know that my views hold that homosexual activity is a sin, how am I supposed to sit in the pews when you bring a non-celibate gay to preach at my church, when you say you will marry same-sex couples at my church? Please tell me how I’m supposed to sit there and not be hurt and offended. Please, tell me. If we’re supposed to work to stay together in this church, please tell me the answer.

  22. Larry Morse says:

    #13:: The real life they lead? Once. a few years ago, I spent a day going through the homosexual shelf that Barnes and Nobel has. Presumably, all these books tell us something about the “real” life homosexuals live. If so, it is a repellent picture, gross, hyper-precious, unprincipled, unscrupulous, promiscuous, exhibitionistic, self-indulgent, however much the books recommended (or did not) that one can maintain a middle-class-standard appearance to the outside world and still live the delicious life of a homosexual. Why do you think HIV continues to gain ground in the US with homosexuals, even after all the public education? “Real” homosexual life stands condemned by its own practitioners. And as I said before, such a revieww of books is not a procedure I would recommend to anyone unless you enjoy nightmares. Larry

  23. Bob G+ says:

    14. WestJ wrote, [i]”The race issue is a red herring and completely false.”[/i]

    WestJ – what I am attempting to convey deals with how people interpreted, understood, and applied Scripture in the context of their cultural settings. Then, it was race. Now, it is homosexuality. We look back in hindsight as say, “Well, of course they were wrong and didn’t interpret, understand, and apply Scripture correctly; of course they let the prevailing cultural attitudes influence their understanding of race and Scripture…” At the time, however, they thought they were absolutely right in their interpretation and application of Scripture. I’m sure my ordaining bishop didn’t think that the understanding of the dynamics of the interplay of culture and Scripture and culture’s influence on our understanding and application of Scripture was a red herring. He lived it.

    If we don’t understand that we are in the same kind of cultural and interpretive dynamic right now in our attempt to understand the homosexual issue as they were back then in their attempts to understand race, then we are blind to the affect of culture in our endeavor to rightly understand the Word of God, period.

    In time, through hindsight, we will know whether our current troubles are more introduction of heresy than legitimate change in our understanding of the interpretation and application of Scripture concerning homosexuality, as we see in hindsight concerning race. We don’t know right now, no matter how convinced of right or truth either side may be, similar to the absolute convictions of those who battled back then over issues of race. Only in hindsight will future generations look back and be able to say, “Of course…”

    I think historically the race issue, among others, can be an exemplar of the Anglican method of dealing with troublesome, current issues and Scripture. It can be directive in our attempts to find another way forward other than the culturally determined, polarized, winner-take-all attitude we now face.

  24. Bob G+ says:

    Phil (17) – We know from history that the profound changes in understanding and application of Scripture happened only when individuals, then groups, and the cultural-times rose up and demanded it – Wilberforce and the English practice of slavery is a prime example. Luther and the state of the Church before the Reformation is another. Women’s suffrage. Inter-racial marriage. Up until the agitators started their call for a different way of understanding and application, and mostly due to their “re-interpretation” of Scripture contrary to the prevailing interpretation, did the surrounding culture begin to deal with the issues, honestly. There were those who called for the complete repudiation of the “innovations” as contrary to the long history of the Church and its practices. There were those who rose up with the “innovators” to support the change.

    Sometimes the innovations are ruled heresy, like the Arian example you gave. Sometimes the innovations are taken to be legitimate, like inter-racial marriage. The battles are hard and sometimes life-threatening, but the battles have to take place. It also takes a long time, not just three or six or twenty years. How do we behave when the challenges are occurring, in my mind, is the primary question. Right now, we are behaving like the secular, political culture, not as Christ would call us to behave. The priest is calling for a different way, but I read too many people responding to this post reacting in the same, old, and tired ways.

    This dynamic is evident within any call for change. The homosexual question is just the current day example.

  25. Charley says:

    I appreciate the writer acknowledging what has now become fairly obvious – the reasserter side has lost. It’s sad, but this needed to be said.

  26. Undergroundpewster says:

    Okay let me see if I am following this. Everyone sins. All are called to repent and be forgiven. The sin rules (re: sexuality) have been rewritten. The “winners” say, “What was once sinful is now a blessing form above, rejoice and be glad.” The losers say, “Not in my house!”
    Should I be upset when the unrepentant chicken thief no longer is expected to repent because someone decided that chicken thievery is now okay because the right to eat has been bestowed upon all by a loving God? Do I then make the thief a hero and elect him to an important position and shout it to the Nation?

  27. Bob G+ says:

    Br. Michael wrote (#20):
    [i]13, your argument is just rationalization for your rejection of the God’s word. You can put all the lipstick on it you want. By your own argument experience and how you feel about something trumps God’s revelation.[/i]

    I’m not basing my argument on how I feel. You are coming to a knee-jerk reaction. And, I’m sorry Michael, you are wrong if you think I reject Scripture. Just plain wrong.

    Yet, here we are doing the very same things we always do. We impune the integrity of the other because s/he doesn’t agree with us or jump to conclusions about whether s/he rejects the Scriptures because of differences in interpretation. This method of dealing with one another is age old, never leads to fruitful ends, is contrary to the way God calls us to regard and deal with one another, and is contrary to the Anglican way. And, it is very 21st Century American.

  28. Bob G+ says:

    22. Larry Morse – Is this the method and criteria you use to determine the lives of every member of a class of people?

    I can use your same method and go to Barnes & Nobles and look on the shelves for books that deal with heterosexuals and the way they live their lives. Should I assume that all heterosexuals live the way these books present? Of course not. Primarily because I understand that most of the books in the bookstores deal with non-Christians and because I understand that one cannot make a judgment about whole class of people – straight, gay, male, female, Hispanic, Anglo, etc. – by a select few books and the cultural stereotypes.

    Why do you think that some one of the highest new infection rates per capita for HIV is occurring among older people? Why is HIV still primarily and overwhelming a heterosexual disease? This is not at all an attempt to deny that certain segments of the gay-subculture don’t have a very real problem with promiscuity and HIV infection. No one denies this. This isn’t, however, what is occurring among the Christian gay sub-culture, just like Christian straight guys do not live like frat-boys in college.

    Of course the secular culture is hedonistic and messed-up from a Christian perspective – whether the people in this culture are homosexuals or heterosexuals.

    Don’t you think it is time to find a different way of dealing with this issue? I do. I’m willing. What I am not willing to do is uncritically take the opinions of others as fact when I see so many contrary and contradictory examples of what some present as the archetypal example. Because I know that there are so many different interpretations of Scripture dealing with all many of very important issues concerning the Church, theology, and how to live life, I’m not willing to blindly accept one interpretation over another simply because one groups says, “this is the only way,” as the other says, “no, this is the only way.” The differences between Calvinism and Arminianism and their adherents are prime examples.

    This is why I will fight for the ethos of Anglicanism where we can fight over these things and still remain together. This is the ethos that is being lost, because certain segments of both liberals and conservatives refuse to be Anglican and either demand capitulation or separation. There has to be another way!

  29. Phil says:

    Bob G+ – I disagree with you on these points.

    First, race is not a good analogy for you. Though you can find individuals who, yoked to the secular culture just as GCC is, expressed support for slavery, the broader Church never sanctioned it as a moral good. As to Scripture, it very clearly says that in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek nor slave nor free, etc. I’m not aware of competing interpretations there, much less any that have been authoritatively taught by the Church, nor am I aware of a parallel Scriptural comeback to GCC’s theory of sexual libertinism. To the contrary, Christ says that sexual immorality defiles us, and He also says to deny ourselves, not do whatever feels good. Basically, supporters of such libertinism, being, as I pointed out above, in thrall to the culture, are more properly placed in the role of analogues to supporters of slavery, who were similarly captivated by the zeitgeist.

    Second, I don’t see the “different way” for which you’re calling. What’s gone on for decades is that the GCC proposes to discard or redefine some element of Christian belief or morality, and it shortly gets its way, before moving on to the next item. That is the “same, old, and tired way.” The response of the commenters here, rather, would represent a new way.

  30. Alli B says:

    Bob, please, I’m still waiting for an answer to my question….Ali

  31. Br. Michael says:

    27, no it is you who are wrong. You just try to cover up your rejection of Scripture by calling it “interpretation”.l And you are wrong on the “Anglican way”. Classical Angicanism never tolerated everyone’s theoligical position. Every good lie uses a little truth, but to imply that the Elizabethan Settlement justifies the statement that the Anglican way requires that homoerotic behavior has to be supported by the Church is just plain wrong.

  32. Dale Rye says:

    Re #9: I think Dr. Gagnon is missing the whole point of the “slavery analogy.” The issue isn’t whether reading the Bible to support slavery is misguided and exegetically unsupportable. Virtually everyone would agree with that now. The issue is whether well-meaning, devout, intelligent Christians could ever possibly have differed on the issue in good faith without their disagreement necessarily being a cause for breaking communion. The implication drawn is that Christians today might similarly live with their differences concerning homosexual practice.

    It is hard to argue that encompassing such differences was impossible, since it actually happened. An overwhelming majority of every General Convention before 1862 (in contrast to the national Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian bodies) was perfectly happy to live and let live on the slavery issue. They clearly did not read the Scriptures as clearly as Dr. Gagnon does on this point. As a matter of historical fact, it is simply not true that “the broader Church never sanctioned it as a moral good.” The antebellum Episcopal Church did exactly that.

    Support for the Peculiar Institution didn’t just come from Southerners like Bishop (General) Leonidas Polk of Louisiana who owned plantations farmed by slaves. The anti-abolitionist majority included many Northern High Churchmen who saw the defense of slavery as part of their defense of tradition. Perhaps the definitive set of arguments that human slavery is not only consistent with Scripture, but affirmatively godly, was published by the Right Reverend John Henry Hopkins, First Bishop of Vermont and Eighth Presiding Bishop.

    As late as 1895, there were 4506 white Episcopal clergy in the US and 68 black (of whom 13 were in the North, 17 were deacons, and none were bishops). The 1955 General Convention was moved to Honolulu because the Diocese of Texas could not guarantee the black bishops and deputies equal treatment in Houston. In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was written to respond to criticism of the Civil Rights Movement by a prominent group of Alabama clergy, including both the Episcopal Bishop and Bishop Coadjutor. Clearly, this is an issue on which Episcopalians managed to differ for well over a century without breaching communion, notwithstanding deep divisions on the interpretation of scripture and tradition as applied to a key moral question.

    The difference in our present situation is that neither side seems willing to admit that the other side might be simply mistaken about God’s teaching on the issue of the day. Instead, both are insisting that their position is so clearly correct that the other side is consciously rejecting God’s authority and has thus abandoned its claim to be legitimately Christian. Still less will anyone admit the bare possibility that their own side might not be 100% correct. The Rev. Mr. Lumpkin has suggested to the Presiding Bishop that the General Convention majority needs to be gracious enough to provide the minority with space to follow their convictions insofar as they do not impinge on those who disagree with them. I would suggest that the reverse is also the case.

  33. Br. Michael says:

    No, Dale I disagree. These are mutually exclusive.

  34. D. C. Toedt says:

    edistobeachwalker [#9], Gagnon is a brilliant guy, but he is indisputably wrong (I suspect willfully so) about the Bible and slavery, among other things. The Hebrew Bible explicitly permitted, and arguably encouraged, God’s chosen people to enslave foreigners (Lev. 25:44-46); they just couldn’t enslave their fellow Hebrews. On a related note, the OT prohibited punishing a slave-owner for beating his slave if the slave recovered in a day or two, “since the slave is his property” (Ex. 21:20-21).

  35. Dave B says:

    Charley (#25) There was a great umpire at one time. Some fans started arguing if a particular pitch was a strike or a ball. Finally they ask the umpire how he knew what it was. The umpire said “it wasn’t nothin till I called it”. The great umpire hasn’t called it yet. Don’t be so certain. Scripture says there would be a time when people will not tolerate sound doctrine!!!

  36. Echolord says:

    Bob G+,
    Your analogy of the current debate appears to be based upon an error in logic, because your argument self-validates. To come to the conclusions you agree with, you determine the validity of interpretation, based upon what you believe the is the best conclustion. For example:
    [blockquote]We know from history that the profound changes in understanding and application of Scripture happened only when individuals, then groups, and the cultural-times rose up and demanded it – Wilberforce and the English practice of slavery is a prime example.[/blockquote]

    Which side in the slavery debate were the heterodox, as it pertains to slavery? If as your argument suggests concerning historical fact, slavery was blessed and approved of by the church, wouldn’t the historical record show the practice of slavery be prevalent throughout the European continent? This historical record indicates that slavery wasn’t widespread in Europe, the slave trade brought the issue of slavery to the forefront.

    The innovators were the christians, which defended their economic decisions based by creating a new interpretation of scripture that justified the chattel slave trade. It was in their own personal interest to devise a new interpretation, the “Culture” created the desire for the slave trade.

    The premise that we should base our morality upon culture seems a very weak one. On what basis do you judge a culture or experience, by what standard is culture to be judged? If we base an interpretation of scripture, by what means are we to validate that interpretation?

  37. Phil says:

    Dale Rye claims the broader Church did, too, sanction slavery as a moral good, indicting the whole antebellum Episcopal Church as a general example, and John Henry Hopkins as a specific one.

    In the former case, one might note that, even under its own one-time ecclesiology, The Episcopal Church is not “the broader Church.” Far from it; not even Anglicanism as a whole would have claimed that distinction. Anglicanism, prior to its rejection of the Catholic Tradition, would have held itself incapable of delivering a theological innovation apart from the other “branches” of the Church Catholic. And, have Rome or Constantinople ever taught that slavery was a moral good? No; and, again, statements by individual laity or clergy to the contrary don’t prove otherwise, as would have been clearly understood in Anglicanism’s past Catholic period.

    What’s more, to bring in our current troubles, “moral good” would mean the practice was encouraged, glorified, blessed. Perhaps there’s a General Convention resolution or PECUSA “blessing of slavery” rite I’m unaware of, but, if there were, I’m sure we’d have all heard about it, oh, a million times by now.

    In the case of Hopkins, Tobias Haller, presumably one who would deliver the knockout blow, gives this excerpt from Hopkins’ A Scriptural, Ecclesiastical, and Historical View of Slavery, from the Days of the Patriarch Abraham to the Nineteenth Century as the “gotcha:”

    If it were a matter to be determined by my personal sympathies, tastes, or feelings, I would be as ready as any man to condemn the institution of slavery; for all my prejudices of education, habit and social position stand entirely opposed to it. But as a Christian, I am solemnly warned not to be “wise in my own conceit,” and not to “lean unto my own understanding.” As a Christian, I am compelled to submit my weak and erring intellect to the authority of the Almighty. For then only can I be safe in my conclusion, when I know that they are in accordance with the will of Him, before whose tribunal I must render a strict account to the last great day….

    First, then we ask what the divine Redeemer said in reference to slavery. And the answer is perfectly undeniable: He did not allude to it at all. Not one word of censure upon the subject is recorded by the Evangelists who gave His life and doctrines to the world. Yet, slavery was in full existence at the time, throughout Judea; and the Roman Empire, according to the historian Gibbon, contained sixty millions of slaves on the lowest probable computation! How prosperous and united would our glorious republic be at this hour, if the eloquent and pertinacious declaimers against slavery had been willing to follow their Savior’s example! [emphasis mine]

    Apparently, slavery was not “affirmatively godly” to Hopkins, else he proudly held himself to be the opposite. Note also that Hopkins sets up to appeal to Scripture – then doesn’t, quickly moving to the argument from silence and other considerations.

    Again, in all this, we see that the more proper analogy to the Hopkins party, from their groveling to the culture against their own instincts, to their fraudulent or non-treatment of Scripture, would be today’s innovators, not mainstream Anglicans.

  38. Bob G+ says:

    Alli B (#21 & 30) –
    Your question,[i] “If you have respect for my views, and you know that my views hold that homosexual activity is a sin, how am I supposed to sit in the pews when you bring a non-celibate gay to preach at my church, when you say you will marry same-sex couples at my church?” [/i]

    I can only answer your question by saying what I would do in a similar situation. If in my parish my priest said that I HAD to accept this or that thing, and if in good conscience I could not, either I would leave or come to some common understanding with the priest. I would still be a strong advocate of my position – the loyal opposition. I would question whether I might be wrong. I would not try to usurp authority or overthrow the priest. Any of us can be wrong at any time.

    I attended a campus ministry that thought that speaking in tongues was Satanic. I grew up speaking in tongues. For a variety of reasons I stayed in the ministry and used that time to examine whether what I believed was true or not (I concluded that speaking in tongues was Scriptural and not Satanic contrary to all of their efforts to convince me otherwise). I was forbidden by the ministers to talk to other students about my conclusion. I didn’t then try to persuade the other students that the ministers were teaching stuff contrary to Scripture, etc. I didn’t go ahead and burst out in tongues during our weekly worship meetings.

    At the right time, I left. Period. It was very emotional and was very difficult for me at the time. It was a ripping out of me people and experiences that were so very significant. Yet, I left. I simply left. It was tough, but what else was I to do – sow dissension, try to divide the Body of Christ in that place so that it would be just like I wanted it to be? That is how I would answer your question, as unsatisfying as it may be.

    I respect people who say that they have to leave, though saddened by it. I have no problem with the Church making space for people on both sides of the womans ordination or gay issues as we continue trying to discern the will of God. I understand how unfair and painful it can be. I have little respect, however, for people who violate their ordination vows and knowingly work to divide the Body of Christ, whether conservative or liberal.

  39. Don R says:

    The problem with using slavery as an analogue to homosexual behavior is that race-based slavery is very different than anything the Bible talks about. It’s worth remembering that the theological innovations came on the side of the [i]race-slavery[/i] faction, not the anti-slavery faction. Supporters of race slavery used a pseudo-scientific, deterministic view of disfavored races to rationalize their beliefs. The only parallel is that one of the sides in the current debate over sexual morality also holds to pseudo-scientific, deterministic view of the human person, in this case to deny the full scope of human moral agency.

  40. Bob G+ says:

    Well, Br. Michael (#31), here we are. You insist I reject Scripture. I know that I don’t, so do the people who know me, so do the people who hear me preach, so does God. Yet, you know for sure. Alright, nothing I can say will convince you otherwise. We are at an impasse.

    Yet, I will not for a moment judge your commitment to God or your consideration of Scripture because we disagree over this issue. Say what you will, believe what you must.

    By the way, Michael, I never said or would I say that the “Elizabethan Settlement justifies the statement that the Anglican way requires that homoerotic behavior has to be supported by the Church…” I said that the Anglican way makes room for differences of theological opinion and Scriptural interpretation. At the time, what greater difference could there be than between the Continental Reformation and Roman Catholicism? In the fighting between various opinions, like iron-sharpening-iron, we will eventually come to the Truth (a non-sectarian truth), IMHO. But, we have to stay together to engage the argument. The homosexual issue is only the most current issue challenging and engaging the Anglican way.

  41. Undergroundpewster says:

    If people are being led astray, shout it out!

  42. appletree says:

    This thread has fully forgotten Mike Lumpkin’s message. Whether or not you agree with his method of communications, his heartbrokenness should not be dismissed or ignored.

  43. Bob G+ says:

    People, listen for a moment, I used the experience of slavery and civil rights as examples of the swirl of emotion, forms of argument (Scriptural and cultural), and actions of the people involved. This same swirl of emotion, forms of argument (cultural and Scriptural), and actions can be seen within all sides of the current homosexual debate.

    The way we argue, fight, and act says a lot about how we will resolve these controversies. We have not learned from the examples of history, thus we are simply repeating them. There is a better way. There has to be.

    [b]36. Echolord[/b] – Both sides, at the time, claimed to be orthodox and claimed the other side to be heterodox. In hindsight, we call one orthodox and one heterodox.

    Of course we shouldn’t base our morality or Scriptural interpretation on prevailing culture. Yet, all of us are biased by our culture when we come to Scripture. If we don’t understand that we are blind to what “culture” actually is and if we don’t work to overcome it we will miss the Truth of Scripture as it speaks to the prevailing culture. Liberals and conservatives are influenced by the same culture, but in different ways. There are historical times when the culture is just so that challenges to the prevailing wisdom or understanding or cultural proclivities are possible. This is such a time for the homosexual issue, at least in the West. Later generations will be able to determine which side was truly orthodox or heterodox (frankly, all of us are both and neither, only because we cannot see at present where this will end and where God may be leading us). In the mean time, we need to bear with one another, make room for one another, and fight with one another to discern the will of God as expressed in Scripture.

  44. desertpadre says:

    Sarah, right on! You call the current TEC leadership what it is: social progressives. Christianity has little or no importance to those folks; it’s all about power and money. Anyone who has not read Bill O’Reilly’s book “Culture Warrior” should, because without ever even mentioning TEC, he describes exactly what has happened to it. TEC has simply been hijacked by the social progressives, and just like any other totalitarians who capture an institution or country, the old guard is eliminated either by execution, or otherwise silencing them by driving them into exile. I have the feeling that we orthodox are fortunate to have the option of exile.

  45. libraryjim says:

    In regard to Anglicanism being able to tolerate differences in theology, the official teaching of Anglicanism says:

    [i]XX. Of the Authority of the Church.
    The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written… [/i]

    So then the allowability or tolerance in theological diversity ends when the Bible speaks clearly, as it does on this issue.

  46. Don R says:

    It seems to me that Rev. Lumpkin’s request is ecclesiologically unworkable; the Church has to have some normative understanding of sexual morality. It’s been central to the notion of the Christian life since the beginning. The Church cannot have a self-contradictory teaching; it cannot say that it’s both good and bad, or both important and not important.

  47. Bob G+ says:

    45. libraryjim – But, what do we do when there are legitimate differences in what the Bible clearly speaks, regardless of the issue? Calvinist-Anglicans vs. Anglo-Catholics, for example? Anglicanism has allowed for difference concerning what the “Bible clearly speaks.” The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral is what is used as our core beliefs in ecumenical talks.

    As I understand it, The 39 Articles are not the “official teaching of Anglicanism.” Even after they were first written, the different sides within The Church of England, and later Anglicanism, disagreed with them and read into them their particular viewpoints (Evangelical vs. Catholic, for example), just like they did with Scripture.

    This is the example, for me at least, why the majority of us from all perspectives can remain together through even this current problem as we work together to truly discern God’s will. This is why I take Lumkin’s letter seriously and believe a different way can be and should be found.

  48. Philip Snyder says:

    Bob G+,
    You wrote: “We know from history that the profound changes in understanding and application of Scripture happened only when individuals, then groups, and the cultural-times rose up and demanded it”
    True, but when they demanded the changes, they demanded them using the received revelation! Wilberforce, King, et. al. appealed to the revelation from Holy Scripture when confronting slavery and racism. I am awaiting an appeal from Holy Scripture that shows homosexual sex to be blessed. No one has been able to provide one for me. Perhaps you can? Can you show, in Holy Scripture, where God blesses homosexual sex? Can you show where one of the Authors of Holy Scripture says that Paul or Jesus or the Law of Moses is wrong on this point? Can you show where [i]pornea[/i] is cited but sex between two men or two women is excluded from the definition of [i]pornea[/i]?

    When you can show this and make your appeal within the bounds of Holy Scripture and show that Paul and Jesus and Moses (or the author(s) of the OT Law) were all wrong, then we can start to have the conversation. Until then, you are teaching and acting contrary to the “doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church as recevied them.”

    Deacon Phil Snyder

    Phil Snyder

  49. Br. Michael says:

    Bob, and until you can answer 48, I maintain you are using the guise of “interpretation” to as a means to get around the authority of Scripture.
    It is one thing to argue over the nature of the Eucharest, which is not spelled out in Scripture, it is another to say that homosexual sex is Holy to the Lord and must therefore be blessed by the Church. This is a disagreement over essentials.
    But take heart your side has won in TEC.

  50. Sidney says:

    It is countless more! I have hundreds in my parish alone who are still in the Episcopal Church, but barely hanging on.

    If this is the case – and I’m not denying he’s right – how does he explain the massive growth (2000+) in Dio SC since GC 2003? Who are these fools who would join a church that would be so miserable for them? Are we to believe that we have a massive liberal invasion of the diocese?

    Will just one person who has joined this diocese since 2003 come to T19 and explain why they have become active in TEC?

  51. Charming Billy says:

    With respect to the parallel between TEC’s former positions on slavery and its current position on homosexuality: Where’s the parallel?

    The bible doesn’t explicitly rule out slavery; but nowhere does it enjoin slavery. What’s more, there’s no explicit scriptural teaching supporting slavery; and the implicit teaching is ambiguous. On the other hand, homosexuality is explicitly and implicitly prohibited (pace revisionists) and, needless to add, is nowhere enjoined.

    So, even if the Anglican church was once divided on the issue of slavery, yet remained intact, why does it follow that it could or should remain intact in the face of the much less ambiguous disagreement over homosexuality?

    #5 You wrote:

    [blockquote]If you cannot see that there is a difference between those who have a very low-view of Scripture and call for a full-inclusion of gay people and those who do have a high-view of Scripture and call for the inclusion because of Scripture is a mistake. It is a difference of interpretation, not authority.


    I would have agreeded with you until recently, but I came across J. I. Packer’s discussion of your position, and I think he’s right:

    Packer reminds us that the reasserting position maintains that the scriptural prohibition on homosexuality is both authoritative and unambiguous. Consequently, on the reasserting view, it is indeed a difference over the authority of scripture. Reappraisers, whether they have a high or low view of scripture, reject, rather than merely reinterpret, an authoritative biblical doctrine.

    Of course reappraisers will continue to maintain that they interpret an authoritative scripture differently from reasserters, rather than differ with reasserters over the authority of scripture. To be sure, there are many reappraisers who are not arguing for a wholesale rejection of scriptural authority. But on the reasserting view, even these reappraisers are arguing for a very limited, although significant, rejection of authoritative scripture.

    I don’t wish to follow this with a discussion of who’s right and wrong about sexual ethics. My point is that from a reasserting point of view, it indeed appears that the chief difference is one of authority, not of interpretation.

  52. Larry Morse says:

    #28. The conclusion you have reached is exactly and precisely wrong. If you go to Barnes and Noble’s and read the life stories – not the novels, but the novels t ell much truth – of heterosexuals, t hen you will indeed learn how they live, and you will learn correctly. The books speak for the culture because they are the culture, they are the accumulated beliefs, they speak of our lares and penates. And if you simply read the novels, you would learn much that is true. You cannot read Defore, Fielding and Swift and not learn what 17th-18th English culture is like. Do you think George Eliot and Jane Austin do not draw accurate pictures of 19th Century culture?And if you read the history of the time, you will see how accurate the picture is. So I stand firmly by my conclusions from that shelf – actually there were two shelves – of the cultural world of homosexuals that they themselves drew. I realize how anxious you are to whitewash this problem, but if homosexuals do not tell us the truth about themselves and their lives, who does? You? Do you really suppose they are lying when they give us the many ways in which sodomy may be undertaken and the pleasure derivable therefrom?

    Homosexuals are properly called as severely handicapped, and the reading I have done justifies this conclusion. Normal really does mean something, something significant, and homosexuals behavior is radically abnormal.

  53. D. C. Toedt says:

    Charming Billy [#51] writes: “… there’s no explicit scriptural teaching supporting slavery; and the implicit teaching is ambiguous.”

    It seems you define “explicit” and “ambiguous” in a very different way than most people. Lev. 25.44-46 says (NIV; emphasis added):

    44 ” ‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    And then there’s Exodus 21.20-21 (NIV):

    20 “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

    To me that’s about as explicit and unambiguous as you can get: Enslaving others who aren’t of the chosen people isn’t mandatory, but the chosen people are free to do so if they want.

  54. D. C. Toedt says:

    And remember that Luke has Jesus speaking of slaves in a distinctly unsympathetic tone:

    “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, `Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, `Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”

    Luke 17:5-10, NRSV; the NIV more delicately refers to the slave as “the servant.”) If we’re to believe this account, it’s clear Jesus at the very least accepted slavery. Sure, we can’t rule out that he disapproved of it nonetheless, but the NT gives us little if any reason to think that was the case.

  55. Phil says:

    My goodness, D.C., you’re right! And Christians don’t sacrifice turtle doves and rams in the temple, either – as we’re clearly commanded!

  56. Bob G+ says:

    Larry – I’m sorry, but to say that you’ve looked over the gay section in a bookstore (two whole shelves!) so therefore you understand the range of life of people who are homosexual is simply not the case.

    And Christians wonder why their “witness” of the Gospel has such little effect among gay people. What you believe and present as normal for homosexuals is so unlike the lives lived by the average gay person that when they read this stuff the simply think you’re nuts. Someone understands homosexuality by looking over two shelves in a bookstore? Reading a couple books?

    There needs to be a different way we all deal with this issue. We are getting nowhere, other than destroying the Church and one another. Whatever side we find ourselves, the way we’ve been doing this is wrong.

  57. D. C. Toedt says:

    Phil [#55] writes: “And Christians don’t sacrifice turtle doves and rams in the temple, either – as we’re clearly commanded!

    Phil, you’re conceding a crucial point that many reappraisers have made: Scripture admits of cautious and prayerful modification of its specific behavioral requirements. (Just who needs to approve such modifications is another question, which we can debate on another occasion.)

  58. libraryjim says:

    Do we really have to post this:

    [b]VII. Of the Old Testament.[/b]
    The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.

    [b]XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ:[/b]
    They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.

  59. D. C. Toedt says:

    Libraryjim [#58], I submit that anyone who thinks the OT’s endorsement of slavery (and Jesus’ arguable acceptance of it) is merely a matter of “Ceremonies and Rites” or of “Civil precepts” has some serious rethinking and metanoia to do.

  60. Phil says:

    D.C. – admittedly, my Protestant-minded brothers and sisters wouldn’t agree with me, but you’re illustrating nothing, because the Bible is a document by the Church, for the Church and meant to be interpreted by the Church in its internal life. The Church has never endorsed slavery, which is to say, it’s never read the passages to which you refer in the way you prefer. Part of it has to do with what libraryjim gave you above. In any case, how a questioning atheist wants to proof-text some snippet of Scripture is neither here nor there to its use as part of an integral whole, within the life of the Church.

  61. Philip Snyder says:

    D.C. (#53ff)
    The operative word there is “may” buy slaves. Not “you must buy slaves” or “you are required to own slaves and never free them.”

    So, can you show me where God’s people are required to own slaves? Can you show me where slavery is commanded by God? I can show you where Paul strongly suggests that a man free his slave. I can show you where Paul claims that being slave or free doesn’t matter with God. I can show you where Paul speaks of being freed from slavery to sin through Jesus Christ.

    Translating this to the homosexual debate, can you show me where Paul or James or John or Jesus or anyone in the New Testament makes a claim that same sex relationships are no longer [i]pornea[/i]? Can you show me where God now declares that same sex relationships are blessed? Can you show me where Jesus changes the context of that law to make it purely about temple prostitution, but “marriage like” sexual relationships between two men or two women are now OK in God’s sight?

    Phil Snyder

  62. A. McIntosh says:

    As A member of St. Pauls in Summerville, I am thankful for Rev. Lumpkin’s leadership. What he articulates in this letter basically
    mirrors my own feelings of sadness and loss. My parents saw all
    this coming 40 years ago, so it is not surprising to me. In the Diocese
    of SC, we and others scattered around the country are the remnant.
    As I watched a program on the extinction of the dinosaurs, I could not help but think that we, the faithful remnant, are like those small
    furry creatures that were the early mammals. We all know what happened later.

  63. Matthew in Summerville says:

    [blockquote]Will just one person who has joined this diocese since 2003 come to T19 and explain why they have become active in TEC? [/blockquote]

    Very well. I joined the diocese of SC in May 2007; in fact, I attend St. Paul’s where Mike is the rector. I credit all of the rectors along with the body of Christ [i]in situ[/i] at St. Paul’s with bringing me out of the darkness that I walked in for 15+ years.

    To answer the question fully, I came to St. Paul’s because I grew up in TEC from 1978-1990. I stay because St. Paul’s is a vibrant church; the Holy Spirit is at work! That is the same reason that most of the other newcomers I know have stayed.

    Mike, if you are reading this – thank you for your daily witness to life in Christ; it truly is an inspiration to me.


  64. D. C. Toedt says:

    Phil Snyder [#61], we’re agreed that Scripture doesn’t mandate slavery; I said as much above. That’s irrelevant; the OT clearly approves of slavery, and the NT at the very least accepts it.

    It’s a bit more relevant, but only a bit, that Scripture nowhere endorses (and indeed the OT expressly prohibits) homosexual activity.

    The crucial point is something much different. It’s that the scripturalists’ foundational claim, about the supposedly-absolute authority of Scripture in matters of morals, is unsustainable.

    Anyone who reads the slavery passages with intellectual integrity — to say nothing of the passages about stoning rebellious sons at the town gates, putting to death anyone who works on the Sabbath, etc. — must concede, however grudgingly, a brute fact: No serious person treats Scripture as always, always having the last word, where anything approved or condemned by Scripture is per se good or bad, full stop. Most of human society simply refuses to give Scripture that kind of peremptory authority. Reasserters must either face that fact or live in a fantasy world.

    If we do face that fact, and if we want to accord at least some authority to Scripture, then we have no choice but to examine its dictates on an issue-by-issue basis. For many issues, reasonable people may well differ on how much authority to give to Scripture. Reappraisers think homosexual activity is one of those issues. Reasserters disagree; the more radical of them are willing to sunder the church over that disagreement.

  65. monika says:

    Interesting how comment #5 single-handedly hijacked this thread into a discussion of slavery. The reappraisers who are posting here don’t appear to want to address the actual question Fr. Lumpkin put to Ms. Schori: i.e. why can’t the victors be gracious and provide a safe place for those whose consciences do not allow them to accept the innovations mandated by the postmodern gospel. Perhaps we are all benighted homophobes and racists. Does that mean we cannot be treated in a loving, Christian manner?


  66. EpiscoPresbyBaptist says:

    “A bishop must be the husband of one wife.” Read your Bible.

  67. Rob Eaton+ says:

    Matthew (63),
    Thank you for your witness in reply to Sidney’s question (which has been posed twice now, and [url=]I tried to answer here[/url].)
    Thanks to John Burwell+, I got to sit in on the diocesan convention held at St. Paul’s the day before Mark Lawrence’s consecration, and also to meet your rector. May the Lord continue to bless you and use you there for His purposes, and to the delight of your leadership.


  68. Bob G+ says:

    monika (#65) – Were in post #5 was slavery ever mentioned? I don’t quite understand how my post “hijacked” the conversation, since I never mentioned slavery in the post and never intended to. As a matter of fact, read the last line of #5. I agree with Fr. Lumpkin.

  69. Bob G+ says:

    Philip Snyder (#61) – I obviously cannot speak to the beliefs or intent of every person who advocates for full inclusion or speak about all the internal processes they went through as they came to their conclusions. All I can do is present what brought me to where I am; and where I am does correspond to the general conclusions made by people with whom I otherwise have little in common theologically. We are at the point in our nation and our Church when we truly do have to approach this issue and one another differently.

    Fr. Lumpkin calls for fair and respectful treatment of the minority, like himself, and I absolutely agree. I truly believe that this issue is in the process of evaluation and while it is we need all perspectives in order to rightly discern what God may or may not be doing. As someone else posted above, if I remember correctly, the same consideration and respect needs to be given in the opposite direction – like willing to consider that just because there is a difference in understanding of what Scripture actually says or not about forms of same-sex relationships does not necessitate that the person calling for re-examination is heterodox, un-Anglican, does not hold to a high-view of Scripture, etc.

    The argument against our current understanding of the homosexual phenomena and dynamic begins with coming to the Bible as free from cultural influence as possible. That is difficult, but necessary. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know and the more I find myself tainted by culture, so I have to repeatedly confront by own bias. We also have to come to the Bible with as clean a slate as possible, meaning that we have to come to it to learn, not to find portions of Scripture that support our already determined position – whether pro or con. I’ve tried and still try to do this, primarily because I know I could be wrong. I need to read from and hear those who believe differently than I do so that I do not deceive myself but remain true to seeking God’s Truth. If we cannot admit that we may be wrong, then we are not honestly seeking Truth, but confirmation of what we already believe. My first step is to admit that Truth is found it the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Scripture is God’s written Word to us and contains all things necessary for salvation.

    That being said, if we take the 5 or so verses or pericopes of Scripture that have been traditionally used and strung together to support the prohibition of all forms of same-sex relationships and look at them separately and in their own context and with respect to the whole arch of Scripture, I think a re-examination of the traditional stance of the Church needs to be conducted – as many have been doing. You know well that the whole process and argument on both sides of the issue fills books and can’t be debated in this limited space.

    I will say that Scripture does not say anything like, “go, bless same-sex relationships just like straight ones.” What I posit is that Scripture does not support the traditional conclusions and prohibitions of all forms of same-sex relationships. That what we understand the homosexual phenomina to be is not mentioned in Scripture. The Levitical Code stipulates that men should not be with men as with women for the maintenance of Israel as a distinct people under God and not like the nations around them (says nothing about women, interestingly, and as Jesus said the Law has been fulfilled and as Paul said, we are no longer under the bondage of the Law but are under Grace). Scripture does speak to heterosexuals who turn from God, descend into idolatry, worship things created rather than the creator, and engage in sex with members of their own sex against their heterosexual nature – yes Scripture speaks to that idolatry and giving up one’s natural affections. Attempted gang rape by all the men of Sodom and inhospitality (which was a profound culture dynamic during Lot’s time) and considering what Ezekiel calls The Sin of Sodom -Ezekiel 16:49-50 – work against the idea that Sodom was destroyed by homosexuals trying to “know” the “strange flesh.” Then, there are the legitimate lack of understanding of certain Greek words Paul uses – even Gagnon admits the meaning of these words are unclear, even as he accepts one meaning over another and demands that it be the only one possible.

    Okay, so, I don’t think stringing together these few verses rightly exegeted and hermeneutically applied in our time will hold the wait of the interpretation we have traditionally demanded of them. Then, we get into the arguments of the Creation story, of God’s real intent, what marriage is really all about, complementary-ism, the psychological, sociological, and anthropological dynamics of homosexuals in this country, etc.

    I’ve come to my conclusions not to give into the culture (because most of the culture is pretty anti-gay, otherwise all the amendments to state law forbidding civil-unions or same-sex marriage wouldn’t be passing), because I feel sympathetic to the plight of a whole group of people, because of selfish reasons, or anything like that. I came to my conclusion because of Scripture first, period. Scripture doesn’t support the traditional position, IMHO. Lots of people disagree, the tradition disagrees, but I haven’t be persuaded away from my current thoughts and beliefs. I could be wrong. The question isn’t settled. But this is were I am, and so are a lot of very faithful and God-loving people like me.

    And, like Fr. Lumpkin, I say that there needs to be a different way of dealing with all this and with one another as we work our way through this.

  70. Larry Morse says:

    #56: Does reading about the lives of homosexuals as told by themselves tell me nothing about the lives they really lead? Does reading ” a few books” t ell me nothing normative? You are entirely in error. If you read both the biographies and the novels which speak of heterosexual life, do they tell you nothing of what the real lives in those worlds are like? Indeed they tell you much of the culture for they are the culture bearers. As an English teacher of long experience, I can safely say that your dissent here is worse than merely wrong. Or are you telling me that that which the homosexuals themselves say of their lives is false? LM

  71. Don R says:

    [blockquote][…] what we understand the homosexual phenomena to be is not mentioned in Scripture.[/blockquote]
    Whence comes this new understanding? Is it from “science,” or does it actually represent a shift in foundational assumptions about the human person? Are you claiming that science has given us new moral truths? This is central to the problem, because of a contemporary tendency to conflate science and philosophy, and to replace Christian anthropology and morality with materialist versions.

  72. Bob G+ says:

    Larry Morse (#70) – I need to ask this because I’m hoping that I really am just misunderstanding you. Do you really believe that by looking at/reading a few books that you can have a complete and accurate picture of a whole class of people?

    I lived in Germany for a time. I took a semester of German and read some books. All of that did not at all provide me with a good understanding of the language or the people. But for the past two years, I’ve spent all my adult life in education – high school and college – and if I heard one of my students say something like this about any subject, I would have to have a sit-down with them. I may not be the smartest cookie in the jar, but at least I understand that I can’t draw conclusions by such a limited perspective.

    Again, and again, we need to have a different way of dealing with this subject and our problems – beginning with giving each other the benefit of the doubt and treating one another with a bit of respect.

  73. Phil says:

    It’s amazing, Bob G+, that you can write something like, “We also have to come to the Bible with as clean a slate as possible, meaning that we have to come to it to learn, not to find portions of Scripture that support our already determined position – whether pro or con.” After all, you as much as admitted far above that you knew some really great gay people, so you decided there must be nothing wrong with their sexual practices, and you then re-evaluated Scripture in that light. That’s, uh, backward from what you admonish us to do.

    As to the “anti-gay” culture, meditate a little on the zeitgeist to which you kneel: Will & Grace, Ellen, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, many design shows on HGTV, etc., etc., etc. It isn’t “anti-gay” to pass an amendment to ensure a rogue judge somewhere decides marriage isn’t marrriage.

  74. Charming Billy says:


    The Church settled the question of the authority of the Old Testament early on. It’s very simple, The OT, including all OT injunctions, ethical, civil, or cultic, are to be understood in light of Christ. For instance, the OT Sabbath laws no longer apply to Christians. Because the question of the authority of the OT was settled along broad lines (although with wide agreement), it remains problematic along the margins. But the Church has always read the OT in a way the rules out the sort of idiosyncratic Ebionism, er pardon me, tough minded, unsentimental reading you’re advocating.

    Reading the OT in light of the NT is a fundamental hermeneutical presupposition formulated within scripture itself. Consequently, when the Church procedes on the assumption that “Scripture admits of cautious and prayerful modification of its specific behavioral requirements” it is far from “conceding a crucial point” to revisionists. In fact this describes how the Church has interpreted scripture since Cornelius first raised the issue. Apart from a few odd ball sects, there are no “scripturalists” who claim that the bible as a whole has the absolute and undifferentiated authority you claim to be characteristic of reasserters.

  75. D. C. Toedt says:

    Charming Billy [#74] writes:

    Apart from a few odd ball sects, there are no “scripturalists” who claim that the bible as a whole has the absolute and undifferentiated authority you claim to be characteristic of reasserters.

    You’d never know that by the arguments that many reasserters make. Only a few reasserters seem to be willing to debate homosexual sex on policy grounds, i.e., whether on balance society and the church should tolerate and even bless committed same-sex unions.

    At bottom, too many reasserters seem unwilling to go beyond bumper-sticker analysis: God said it; I believe it; that settles it. Even the few reasserters who purport to probe more deeply, e.g., Gagnon, still base their arguments essentially in toto on scriptural tenets, as though those tenets were self-evident axioms that no rational person could question.

    (Incidentally, CB, when you’re responding to comments, it’s helpful if you address the prior commenter by name, not just by number, so we can tell whom you’re engaging.)

  76. Philip Snyder says:

    Bob (#69)
    If you want to explore the blessing of same sex unions in discussions ore research, then fine. Make your arguments. Present your case. Show us the theology and exegesis that shows God does bless same sex unions. I would gladly support your efforts do to so.

    But, as clergy in the Church, we are under obligation to teach what the Church teaches, not what we want to teach. We both vowed to be “loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church [b]has received[/b] them.” To vow is not to be loyas to the doctrine as this church “may construe” it, but to how the doctrine has been received. The Church has always taught that sexual expression belongs inside of marriage and anything else is outside of God’s will for us. Thus, blessing same sex unions or ordaining men or women involved in any sexual expression outside of marriage is acting outside of what the Church “has received” and is moral violation of our ordination vows – even if the ecclesiastical authority does it too or takes no notice of it. Our vows are made to God, and He is the ultimate judge of our faithfulness to them.

    To act on new teaching or new revelation before it is formally approved by the Church is not to act prophetically, but to act schismatically.

    Phil Snyder

  77. Bill Matz says:

    In #69 Bob G repeats the most common reappraiser mistake by reducing the reasserter case to just the biblical prohibitions. He completely ignores the affirmative call to heterosexual marriage and even admits there is no such call for same-sex. He ignores the issue of complementarity, so ably articulated by Kendall, that in the uniting of male and female, humans most closely approach the completeness of God.

    While I believe most reappraisers are truly motivated by an admirable compassion, it is also clear that same compassion has blinded them to a rational examination of homosexuality. Often, reappraisers call for “a conversation”, but they foreclose, often institutionally, any comprehensive study of the subject. The unwillingness to discuss the origin and nature of homosexuality, the physical & psychological damage incurred in same sex relationships, and the genuine faith-based conversions that have occurred prove that reappraisers know, consciously or unconsciously, that the results of any honest, comprehensive inquiry would not sustain their position.

    For example, a few years ago after reading yet another backhanded slap at reasserters by a senior 815 type, I wrote to protest. I laid out the many, well-documented harms of homsexual behavior and asked how we could encourage such damage. The dismissive response was that “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.” That refusal to accept an invitation to dialogue certainly cannot help foster any genuine conversation.

    As we saw above, the defensive reactions of BobG and D.C. often invoke “the many faithful partnerships” or anecdotes of John and Ted or Mary and Jane. But how can we ever prove that any relationship is faithful? (I’m sure there were many who thought Bp. Moore was faithful.) How can we balance anecdotal claims against comprehensive studies that show that 90-100% [depending upon study] of same-sex relationships are NOT monogamous? Sadly, reappraisers want to put on rose-colored glasses and believe that everything is hunky-dory in the [Christian?] gay community; they willfully ignore any contrary evidence and personally attack those who offer it. After years of observing this sad dynamic I am forced to conclude that what reappraisers really want is just a political victory, not the truth about homosexuality.

  78. Tami says:

    I am a member of St. Paul’s Summerville and I appreciate this effort by my rector to ask for even more clarity – okay KJS, the Christian way to behave toward us is this and now what are you going to do? Many of us feel we already know that, but Mike+ can say that he showed her and the left the charity of asking and dialog. Personally, having written her and having received exactly what I expected back as an answer – utter Bravo Sierra – I would guess Mike+ doesn’t expect much of an answer either. My personal irony is that I wrote him yesterday asking for a discussion on this subject BEFORE I found and read this. Now, when we have that discussion, he can say to me and to others with questions, “I’ve met her; listened to her; I’ve tried to communicate charitably with her; and . . . ” Friends, I don’t know what “and” will be and doubt I’ll post it here when I do. That will be between Mike+ and those in the discussion. That said, I’m proud of my rector’s letter!!! Would that more in leadership roles in this and all our churches attempted to meet, listen, and discuss!

  79. Bob G+ says:

    Phil (#73) wrote:
    [i]It’s amazing, Bob G+, that you can write something like, “We also have to come to the Bible with as clean a slate as possible….” After all, you as much as admitted far above that you knew some really great gay people, so you decided there must be nothing wrong with their sexual practices, and you then re-evaluated Scripture in that light. That’s, uh, backward from what you admonish us to do.[/i]

    My knowing gay people who do not fit the stereotype (regardless of whether I think they are really great or not) has nothing to do with whether I think being in a same-sex relationship is right or wrong. Coming to know gay people proved to me that the stereotypes are frankly not all that common with at least Christian gay people I know. Your reading of my ‘time-line’ is incorrect.

    I am embarrassed to say such a thing, but it is just true. When I was growing up there were no black people around in my small town, and I held stereotypical ideas of black people. When I finally developed friendships, the profoundly wrong and unfair stereotypes fell away. Growing up in a Pentecostal denomination, my stereotypical views of Roman Catholics were pretty negative, and it wasn’t until I taught at a Roman Catholic high school and met some Charismatic Catholic brothers did my stereotypical views of Roman Catholics generally begin to change. To keep those stereotypes only proved my own ignorance! As I got to know other gay people, I realized that the stereotype did not describe a good many people. The change came first from my study of Scripture, and the meeting of people who did not fit the stereotype was additional confirmation.

    I suggest you go back and read what I wrote. If you can find where I either said or alluded to anything like what you say I meant, then I will admit I expressed myself wrongly and restate what I mean in a clearer fashion.

    Liberals and conservatives need to stop knee-jerk reactions based on stereotypical views of the other or we will never be able to resolve our problems.

  80. Bob G+ says:

    Phil (#76) – you wrote, [i]”Show us the theology and exegesis that shows God does bless same sex unions.”[/i] My contention is that God doesn’t condemn all forms of same-sex relationships. As I wrote in my long post above, [i]”I will say that Scripture does not say anything like, ‘go, bless same-sex relationships just like straight ones.'”[/i]

    As I said, I don’t think in their context and with respect to the overall arch of Scripture that the 5 or so verses support the traditionally drawn conclusions that God forbids all forms of same-sex relationships. This isn’t just my idea, but I first began reading these kinds of re-evaluations from American-Evangelical biblical scholars.

  81. Bob G+ says:

    Phil (also in #76) – you wrote, “We both vowed to be “loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.” Again, I absolutely agree.

    The problem is that we are now in the process of re-examining what “was received” by the first Christians and how they might have actually understood within the writings of the OT and the gospels and letters to the first Christians by their authors regarding what we understand to be same-sex relationships. Very much like what took place around the Copernican Revolution, very much like what went on during the Reformation, etc., etc…

    Scripture doesn’t say something different to us today than what was said to the first readers (or hearers). Our faulty understanding changes as we gain form information and maturity (consider what happened with the Copernican model of the universe), but Scripture itself is the same yesterday, today, and forever regarding all things necessary for salvation, IMHO. Within all the examples above, the rightness or wrongness of the advocates of reform or innovation were only confirmed in hindsight after much condemnation by those who opposed any change in the tradition “once received.” Some of the arguments continue to this day (the Filioqui, whether or not salvation is found only in the Roman or Orthodox churches, etc).

    You also wrote, [i]“To act on new teaching or new revelation before it is formally approved by the Church is not to act prophetically, but to act schismatically.”[/i] I can understand this and to a point agree with it. We act in undisciplined and individualistic ways all around – liberals and conservatives. This is a huge problem.

  82. Philip Snyder says:

    Bob G (#80,81),
    As Kendall Harmon has pointed out several times, and as Bill Matz pointed out in #77, it is not just the proscriptions of homosexual sex that are in question. It is the entire thrust of Scripture where the normative sexual relationship is hetersexual. You can see this through both Natural Law and in the Revelation. As the introduction to the Marriage rite shows, we bless marriages because God ordained this relationship in creation and Jesus blessed it by his presence and first miracle in Cana. Paul calls marriage a mystery (=sacramentum in Latin). Paul speaks of homosexual sex in derogatory terms, not because it is immoral, but because it is a sign of the falleness of humanity and all creation. Homosexual sex is not immoral just because of 5 passages (or more, if you count the proscriptions against [i]pornea[/i]). Homosexual sex is immoral and sinful because it accepts as normative what is short of God’s desire for us. I’m sure you are aware of the Greek for sin ([i]hamartia[/i]). It means, in part, to “miss the mark.” Homosexual sex is an attempt to aim at a different target than the one designed by God. Homosexual sex is sinful because it puts us in the place of God and denies what God desires for us.

    If the Church is to change its teaching on this, then we need to see where homosexual sex is an appropriate target. The evidence for this can only come through Holy Scripture and not from science (which has an even worse track record on being right than the Church) or from society. Holy Scripture is the authentic and authoritative record of God’s self revelation. We are bound by it and we don’t get to do away with it just because we don’t like what it says or we find “good” people who live differently from what Scripture teaches.

    Phil Snyder

  83. Bob G+ says:

    No, Bill (#77) I don’t. I simply agree with the affirmative call of heterosexual marriage. I even mentioned complementarity in my post, Bill. Kendall gave a good explanation, but I disagree that this complementarity then demands that all forms of same-sex relationships are thus forbidden. Of course, Paul suggested we remain as he was (single), but if we can’t control our lust then, well, alright go get married. That isn’t a ringing endorsement of what we consider opposite-sex marriage today. Our primary example, Jesus, was also single. It might seem singleness is the better calling, eh?

    I spent much time with ex-gay stuff, with those who claim conversion, with those who married believe God would change them, and with so many in the aftermath when what was promised by man never materialized. Unless you have a lot of experience with ex-gay ministry, those who have gone through “reparative therapy,” and the like, please don’t use this line of justification for opposing same-sex relationships. If you have a lot of experience with these groups, then you know that the definition of “healing” is profoundly not. Screwed-up gay people get saved and Jesus may well get them through a lot of crap, but Jesus does not heal orientation.

    The very same behaviors you documented to the official at 815 are being committed by heterosexuals. Those heterosexuals put themselves in the same place of harm than do the homosexuals who engage in them. To believe that all homosexuals engage in all these kinds of harmful behaviors is about as valid as me believing that all heterosexuals engage in those kinds of behaviors because a few of them do. All don’t, obviously, whether straight or gay – particularly among those who follow Christ.

    Anyone with an elementary understanding of statistics and the reliably or validity of studies are able to see clearly whether the conclusions of certain “studies” have anything to honestly tell us. Then, is the sample size large enough to extrapolate to a whole group of people, or only to those who were studied. It is easier to believe in a stereotype than to do the hard work of trying to understand. People on all sides misuse studies – liberal and conservative, pro-gay and anti-gay,. The media loves it.

  84. Bob G+ says:

    Phil – I do understand all this. However, since the arguements generally begin with the standard verses for justification, that is were I start. Since too much has been written about the unworkable nature of stringing together those few portions, new arguments had to be created. I’ve watched this phenomena over the last 20 odd years. One argument is pretty much dispelled, so a new one has to be created.

    Marriage is a very good thing and Scripture obviously speaks a great deal about it, although much of the examples of it do not quite fit into what we want to claim it is or must be today. If heterosexuals are out cavorting with their same sex and end up having sex, then I can agree with pretty much all that you wrote. Just consider the whole “girls gone wild” phenomena and how straight guys get off on straight women having sex with one another. I don’t get it.

    The jury is still out concerning where the homosexual condition first begins – the stereotypes do not hold up. Biology is not particularly helpful at this point. Psychology has shown over the years that homosexuals are as well adjusted as heterosexuals and as screw-up as them, too. From my experience and from what I know otherwise, homosexuals do not attempt to aim at a different target as if there was a choice of targets. As much as a heterosexuals seek to love and be loved, have intimacy in relationship with a beloved, and all that is involved in that kind of relationship – so do homosexuals. There is a lot of dysfunction within the overall gay community and reasons for it, but the stereotypes absolutely do not hold true for all homosexuals any more than frat-boy attitudes and behaviors hold true for all college men.

  85. Phil says:

    Bob G+ #79,

    First of all, I want to clarify that I didn’t say anything about gays that “do not fit the stereotype.” I don’t know what the stereotype is, and I doubt it’s relevant. Rather, I said that your views were colored by gays that were really great people – friendly, prayerful, go to church a lot, the whole nine yards – so, how could they be committing those evil sins alleged by those nasty fundagelicals?

    What you wrote in #13 was:

    Long before I became an Episcopalian, when I was a member of the Assemblies of God and working in campus ministry, I began to question the standard line of the ex-gay and anti-gay positions, which I taught and believed for most of my then adult life. Why? Not because I thought the Bible could bend to whatever we wanted it to say, not because I didn’t consider it to be the very Word of God written, not because I did not believe in its authority, but because what the ex-gay and anti-gay crowd was demanding Scripture to say was not consistent and too colored by cultural bias – just like I saw in the Scriptural and cultural positions of those Christians who argued against inter-racial marriage and the place of women in the Church. I changed my opinion because of my study Scripture and the authority I gave it and because of what too many American-Evangelical theologians and Biblical scholars were writing at the time. In addition, the gay people I knew did not bear any resemblance to the caricature of the “gay-lifestyle” presented by the anti-gay groups.

    You say my reading of your timeline is incorrect. If you say so, I suppose it is – how would I be in a position to second guess? On the other hand, the reason I said you re-evaluated Scripture last (rather than concurrently, as you wrote) is because, why question the clear-cut message of Scripture in the first place, unless your experience with “the gay people [you] knew” made you want to do so?

    Consider: we are told, “You shall not steal,” and, “You shall not murder.” Those seem straightforward, but I could probably be creative enough to find a whole raft of exceptions. For all I know, in the cultural context of the time, listeners would have understood that you really shouldn’t murder on a lark – but, if you were a soldier, or if someone stole your donkey, or if someone looked at your wife the wrong way, or if you needed to test your new sword, well, then – go right ahead.

    I could do that. But, if I didn’t plan on killing someone or wasn’t looking for an excuse because I just did, why would I?

    Maybe it’s my own narrow perspective, but it beggars belief that I would start looking for loopholes to very clear Scriptural statements that are and were understood only one way universally, uniformally and without interruption for 2,000 years unless I had a vested interest in doing so in the first place.

    It just seems like a remarkable coincidence that this question got raised in 1968, and not 1568, or 868 – and that the Society Churches really stepped up their efforts after Will & Grace made it safe to do so, and not before. I mean, the revisionists were just honestly diving down into the very details of the Bible (because no Christian had ever really done such a thing in 2,000 years, right?) – lots of stuff we would rarely look at in our day-to-day study, like etymology, various cultural contexts, a review of the scientific research on the particular subject, whether the writer was secretly gay, etc. And this serious drill-down just happened to occur with regard to a subject coming under fierce assault from secular activists – not, if we were talking about randomly pure, dispassionate fresh looks at the text – to re-examine whether it’s OK to sacrifice to a golden statue after all, or whether it’s OK to steal, or whether we should withhold all charity from the poor. What’s more – this effort just happened to have the sympathy of an awful lot of the crowd that was starting to tell us Jesus’ miracles didn’t happen, and the Virgin Birth didn’t happen, and there was just as much truth (if not more) in Buddhism or Taoism as in Christianity.

    Dumb luck? I hope you can see why I don’t think so. But, if you were the one exception in the face of the giggle test, I’m sorry for misrepresenting your journey.

  86. Philip Snyder says:

    Bob G (#84)
    I think I see the one of the problems. You write:
    [blockquote]From my experience and from what I know otherwise, homosexuals do not attempt to aim at a different target as if there was a choice of targets. As much as a heterosexuals seek to love and be loved, have intimacy in relationship with a beloved, and all that is involved in that kind of relationship – so do homosexuals.[/blockquote]
    The problem lies in defining the “target.” The “target” is not to have “intimacy in a relationship with a beloved.” The target is to combine the two complimentary parts of humanity (male and female) into a unity who is “one flesh”. This is impossible in a homosexual relationship because the two parts are not complimentary. In marriage, male and female are joined together to form what was, originally, one. (Genesis 2). God’s design – the Target, if you will, is laid out for us in Holy Scripture. Trying to form a complimentary pair with two men or two women is like trying to make a magnet with two north poles or two south poles. It cannot be done. This is why the Marriage Rite states “The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation….” Where is the bond and covenant of homosexual sex established by God? Where does Jesus “adorn that manner of life?” Where does Holy Scripture commend “it to be honored among all people?” When these questions are answered, then we have begun to do the theological work necessary to allow the Church to bless same sex unions. Until these questions are answered, the Church cannot bless these unions because there is no evidence that God blesses these unions. The Church cannot bless what God does not bless. It simply lacks that authority.

    Phil Snyder

  87. Bill Matz says:

    BobG, I genuinely appreciate your willingness to engage in rational discussion. It is rare, as I’m sure we can both agree.

    Yes, you mention a number of issues, but you don’t discuss them. In fairness, you did expressly opt out of a full discussion.

    We both know that Paul’s remarks must be read in the context of the expected imminent Second Coming.

    You out of hand dismissal of the validity of ex-gays experience, apparently due to your seeing a high relapse rate, suggests you would similarly dismiss sobriety programs. I do not. Both vewnture into high risk areas. But in both cases I would rather try than just give up. And I have found many of the ex-gay testimonies to be quite compelling. Regardless, my point was simply why have they been insititutionally excluded from the conversation if we are really seeking truth and not a political victory.

    My point to 815 about abusive behaviors is that both the level and the nature is significantly worse is significantly worse among gays. E.g. 81% of abuse in the Roman Catholic crisis was same-sex, despite only 20-30% of clergy estimated to be gay. That stark disparity cannot be ignored in any honest conversation. Similarly, we cannot ignore the fact that gays engage on a nearly universal basis in practices that are inherently damaging, even if they were limited to a monagmous relationship. Knowingly doing so cannot be loving.

    Yes, studies can be misused or biased. But I have yet to see any study that suggests there is any significant degree of monogamy in any segment of gay relationships. And, living longt-erm in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have had access to a wide range of views. Indeed, some gay advocates, including church ones, even disparage monogamy. (Have you read Robert T. Williams’ book?) So it is not a question of simply matching my studies against yours. Rather, I can find no evidence to support a fundmental premise of your position, that there are significant numbers of monogamous gay relationships. Do you not think it is telling that when Canada legalized gay marriage that less than 10% embraced it?

  88. Bob G+ says:

    Phil – I just can’t accept that line of argument. Marriage and loving relationships have so much more to do with so many other things than whether tab a fits in slot b. I don’t think it is just about genitalia or even the differences between the sexes – and I think the complementary idea would be so much more compelling if it didn’t always descend into whether certain people think the pluming works right or fits or not. This is a newer and current argument to use against homosexuality that I’ve witnessed arise over the past, what?, 15 years or so. I used to never hear this line of argument, but as I said, old arguments fail and new ones have to be created.

    The target, IMHO, is to love others as Jesus loved us. That effort is expressed in different ways toward different people, but always lovingly. You know that the type of love you feel for your wife or girlfriend (or one you may have had in the past) is significantly different than the love you feel toward your parents or friends. The same holds for homosexuals. All the Law and the Prophets (all the OT) is summed up in loving God with everything and loving neighbor as self. Something like promiscuity is selfish and not loving because we use another person as an object to relieve our horniness.

    Jesus restores our corrupted ability to love correctly, but it has little to do with how genitalia fits or whether one is from Venus and one is from Mars. That’s where I am right now. I could be wrong.

    Okay, now I really do have to get to other things.

  89. Bob G+ says:

    By the way, I agree that until the Church works out its theology on marriage (which is lacking), that to proceed into blessing same-sex unions without the theological work is very problematic. Too much of our individualistic culture and affirmation-based decision making pushes us to do things NOW before we’ve done the hard work necessary to come to good conclusions. Rebellion is too easy, even if for a good cause.

  90. Philip Snyder says:

    Thank you for the fair and friendly exchange. See, it is possible. I admit that I might be wrong on this issue and I hope that you would admit the same. We both think (or believe or faith) that we are right, but there we are both fallen individuals and, thus, our judgement and conscience are both cloudy as best. I always like to debate with people who are willing to be friendly (if strident) and to allow give and take and to answer points raised.

    I would go beyond the “very problematic” and say that it is wrong to act before the theology is settled (or agreed that it is a matter adiaphora). I also think that the break away congregations are guilty of individualistic culture and action, but I would judge their offense as the lesser of the two because it is in response to bishops who will not guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church – but that is a topic for another post. Our culture is far to individualistic as it is. I think “individualism” is the American heresy (but that is yet another blog posting).

    I have enjoyed this exchange and look forward to more of your posts.

    Phil Snyder

  91. Br. Michael says:

    Bob, you support what God rejects. Enough said. Read Jude and 2 Peter.

  92. ann r says:

    Bob G, you admit that your position is due to a “re-examination” of the issue. Such re-examination is obviously not acceptable to all, and you should not expect it to be so. You base much of your argument on the assumption that stereotypes have something to do with one’s convictions. I submit to you that stereotypes have nothing to with the issue at all. The issue is a clear question of what acts are permitted and what acts are morally reprehensible. Note that it is acts that are judged, not persons. The NT very clearly states that slavery to sin leads to death. What we are discussing here is slavery to sin. The person who is a slave to sin probably does not for a long time recognize that it is a form of slavery. He does not realize it until it occurs to him to escape from it. New life in Christ releases us from slavery to sin. What you are doing is trying to redefine acts which have been considered sinful for thousands of years, polishing them up as harmless, or even desirable, much like the serpent polished up the fruit of the forbidden tree. Just because we are attracted to something does not mean it is blessed by God. He has clearly stated what he will bless, and you among many others are attempting to deny that. If slavery to sin is indeed death, then those who do not assist those addicted to sinful acts to free themselves also bear a responsibility for their condition. If you say you do not have this responsibility, if you say these acts are not really sinful after all, if you say the church has been wrong all these centuries in condemning these acts, then you are in essence rejecting what the church has always understood. In this most unfortunate situation, it is the people like you who have changed the understanding of the church, who have created these unhappy divisions. These divisions cannot be bridged. Do you not see that you are participating in a change which will of necessity split the church, and that you are in a sense responsible for this split? It is not those who have continued in the faith as received who have created the split. The letter writer poignantly expresses the sense of bereavement caused by what your faction has done to those who simply cannot in good conscience go where you have blithely gone.

  93. Bob G+ says:

    Phil (#90) – And I agree. When Fr. Lumpkin asks for different ways of being treated and regarded each other, talking with people honestly and trying to not jump to conclusions is a first big step. The way Br. Michael deals with this is an example of the way that gets us nowhere.

    I left American-Evangelicalism because I became too frustrated with the growing politicalization of the movement and the unwillingness of so many to honestly deal with issues of concern among those in the world (and within the Church). Traditional Anglicanism offers a place to wrestle and deal with issues honestly, and it provided a place to be wrong in the midst of the wrestling, together. Too many people don’t want to wrestle any longer – they don’t want to engage in the process of iron-sharpening-iron. They want authoritarianism and the imposition of their position or to just shoot the opposition and get it over with (figuratively, but I fear if we keep going down this road it will end up being literally). We no longer want to terry with one another, even if it takes a life-time (just like Jesus does with us). Sound-bite excuses and justifications are so much easier than the hard work of thinking and dialog. Certain segments of liberals and conservatives are like this, and these groups are the ones that hold sway right now. Most people just want to come to church, worship, receive the Body and Blood, have community, and attempt to be true to God and one another, but they can’t because of shrill voices of accusation and denunciation and schism.

    That’s why I agree with the intent of Fr. Lumpkin’s letter, even if not every aspect of it. That’s way I am more than willing and wanting to sit down with anyone with whom I may disagree and do the wrestling so that we might gain a bit of perspective and might find God’s will, together. I work in Manhattan and live in Brooklyn. If anyone wants to sit down, contact me and I will look forward to a cup of coffee and talking – Just e-mail me. I serve in a wonderful non-fussy, Rite I, Anglo-Catholic parish. If you’re in New York, come worship with us.

  94. Kendall Harmon says:

    Bob G, thanks for your contributions to this thread.

  95. Bob G+ says:

    Kendall – I just got the Anglican Digest in my mailbox today. Fate, perhaps? 🙂

  96. MargaretG says:

    I think Bob and the revisionists have taken the entirely wrong message from the slavery experience.

    If you do a potted history of slavery over the last two millennium (and excuse all the simplifications needed to fit this into one comment — a more accurate and nuanced account would however reach the same conclusion) then it would be this:

    Slavery was supremely common in Roman times — and yet within a few centuries of the birth of Christ it disappeared. Why? Because it was incompatible with Christian brotherhood and everyone from Paul writing Philemon onwards worked that out.

    Fast forward to the 18th and 19th century and slavery reappears in the Christian west — not everywhere but in America and the Caribbean. Yes promoted and protected by some British business folk, but really only in that part of the world. Again I understand the economics that led to it. But notice — it did not reappear in Britain — the very first court case about whether a slave was free when they touched British soil was clear about that. Neither did it appear on the continent, in Australia, New Zealand or most of the other regions that were settled at those times.

    Then came the religious justifications for it — again from America. (I will fully admit that the CoE was silent when it should have spoken, but it never changed its own theology on slavery.)

    Now what I think is the lesson that the American church needs to take from this is that when the American church finds “a new thing” that is not accepted by the rest of the world, it should look to its history and be very, very careful. It has walked down this arrogant path before — and it was wrong — and it has had to live with awful consequences ever since

    What Bob and others need to see is that the American church first changed the settled theology which opposed slavery. The American church provided a theology promoting a “new thing” and pushed it even when opposed by others in Britain and by groups like the Catholic church. The discovery that slavery was wrong was not a “see we can change theology if we like” moment as described by Bob and others, but rather the American church coming back into line with where everyone else in the Christian world already was. It was, a return to the position which had been reached very early on from the “neither slave nor free” principles in the New Testament.

    On this basis, you would have thought the American church have now be in agony over the fact that they are again going against 2000 years of Christian teaching, and that they are again in the theological minority not only within the Anglican communion, but within the whole of the wider Christian community. You would have thought that the parallels with their foray into new theological ideas with slavery would have led them to reconsider whether they really are in the right with their “new theology” when they were so wrong last time.

  97. Yooper says:


    The reference is made to Scandinavians and that lumps Finland into the group . But I don’t think the statistics you are quoting for the rest of Scandinavia applies to the Finns as well. Finnish Americans take pride in their ancestry and I hope the correction can be made. Most Finns are Evangelical Lutherans , but my family has been Episcopalian for two generations here in America. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan one often chose the church that was in that particular town and that is how our grandparents started going to the Episcopal Church.

    Stewart K

  98. Bob G+ says:

    MargaretG (#96) – I just don’t see a “settled theology” of opposition to slavery in the annals of Church History or theology. Of course, we can find examples of any position over time on various sides of all issues if we look hard enough. Perhaps a lot of silence in the midst of slavery in various parts of the world, but again I don’t see the evidence that presents the Church over time falling within your characterization of it when dealing with the issue of slavery, even in its various forms.

    I’m not sure why you are referring to me in your comment. You make assumptions (or assertions) about me and the intent of my posts that I think are incorrect.