From the Email Bag

Good Morning.

Just a short note to let you know that I appreciate your blog, even though I often disagree with your views. It’s not that I consider myself to be very liberal, I just don’t consider myself to be a fundamentalist (which is what many on the conservative fringe of the Episcopal Church are). As a middle-of-the-road, via media, Anglo-Catholic, high Church Episcopalian…..I find that the center ground is being pulled away from me at this point in the life of the Church. As I said, you and I would disagree about many things, but at the same time, I appreciate your ability to put forth your thoughts in a Christian manner.

The people that post comments on your site are something entirely different. The level of hate (and I do not use that word lightly) has noticeably risen in the last week or so, and I thank you for your taking note of that and calling the commenters attention to this fact. While I acknowledge you try to use other adjectives without using the word “hate”, I find that, sadly, the word “hate” is quite a proper description for some of the postings.

I am troubled at the level of venom in the words of the internet blogs. Be it either the far right side or the far left, there is certainly not much in either extreme that resembles Christianity.

Web sites such as [name of site], the [name of site], and several on the “extreme liberal” sides are an embarrassment to the Church. T1:9 is different, and alot of that is because you try to keep folks steered in the right direction. It is a terrible reflection on the Church when people with differing viewpoints cannot have discussion in a civil manner.

Keep up the good work.

I have not changed a word of this, and it is posted with the author’s permission. My only major place of disagreement with the writer is when he or she says “The people who comment,” I would modify it to say “some of those who comment.” But it has been true of far too many comments lately, and it interests me that this came the day I made the post about the comments–KSH.

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67 comments on “From the Email Bag

  1. Charley says:

    Please, let me run roughshod over you and then let’s have a civil discussion about it if you’re able to even get up.

    Yep, I like that.

  2. ann r says:

    On the other hand, some people’s idea of “hate” is anything critical of their position.

  3. libraryjim says:

    One of the workshops on management I attended had as its mantra:

    “Praise in public, criticize in private.”

    With that in mind, I would hope that Kendall+ and the Elves send out private e-mail messages to those seen as spreading hatred on the list, asking them to cool down the tone. (And I earnestly hope that I am not among the receivers!)

    One more note: I do agree with ann r. in that for some people, disagreeing with their position is equal to a message that has underlying hate speech or tone. Like I posted elsewhere on humility, that’s like the class bully who’s been picking on one student all year, and when the student finally gets the gumption to land a good solid punch, the bully runs to the principal crying “Johnny hit me back! Punish him for fighting!”

    Peace (I mean that!)
    Jim Elliott <><

  4. Adam 12 says:

    I guess I am curious about what it means to be a Fundamentalist. Do people in the middle ground of the Episcopal Church believe in the Resurrection of Jesus or the Virgin Birth or that God parted the Re[e]d Sea or that Jesus walked on water? If so they might be labeled Fundamentalists too by others in TEC. Anyway I would appreciate an amplification if the writer is interested in exploring the topic.

  5. Kendall Harmon says:

    Ok, Adam12, but that is a topic for another thread (and whenver this term is used in TEc I ask for a definition) since the purpose of this thread is to disucss the blog comments and this letter writer’s reponse thereto.

  6. Phil says:

    I don’t know if “hate” has been rising. “Anger” certainly has been; at least, I know I’ve had moments that probably place me in the “some of those who comment” category.

    Over and above the many moments of bad faith in this church over thirty years, something primal was broken in 2003. Those of us on the losing end of that break fell back on our brothers and sisters in the wider Communion for aid and succor, an action that, against all odds, resulted in the clear word to ECUSA to turn back. Then, Lambeth invitations went out as though Dar-es-Salaam had never happened, and New Orleans was greeted as though the intervening four years had never happened. Something primal was thus also broken in this Communion.

    Many of us have, as a result, felt compelled to make decisions we would never have imagined necessary, uprooting a lifetime of faith and religious understanding. There’s no question it’s terribly hard to deal with that loss and confusion, and, for better or worse, these blogs are venues for working that out.

    I wonder how that equates to your correspondent having “the center ground … pulled away?” Too often, I suspect it means institutional ECUSA is frustrated it’s no longer getting the sullen acquiescence to its innovations that’s been the Episcopalian custom. For the tone of our discourse, we – I – can and should apologize; for no longer grudgingly falling in line: never.

  7. Ed the Roman says:

    Oh, yeah? Well this emailer can [edited] the [edited] out [edited] of [edited]. Stupid [edited].

    [/sarcasm]

    [i] And this weary elf hopes that’s the end of your sarcasm. [/i]

  8. azusa says:

    Actually I don’t think the tone of comments is much different from about 5 years ago. What has changed is that many protagonists have left this field of battle for the kindlier pastures of AMiA, CANA and the Southern Cone, while Tec’s rampage against the orthodox remnant has become ever more furious, arrogant, litigious, spiteful – and plainly un-Christian.
    Is it ‘hateful’ to observe these things? The denouement of WWII was not a pretty thing, and it took long enough and entailed many casualties in a righteous cause. The sad thing is that many looked to for leadership have proved somewhat supine in the face of evil.

  9. BillS says:

    Dr Harmon,

    Thank you for this blog and all that you do. People (including me) who may sound harsh are not doing it because we are mean, hateful people. Real damage is being done to the Episcopal Church. The leaders of TEC act in tyrannical ways, talk about reconciliation and listening without acting in any kind of reconciliatory way or show that they are listening, and wrap intentionally obfuscatory, incomprehensible language (celebrate our unity in the comprehensiveness of diversity) around their actions.

    It has been an amazing few days. First, we get blather about reconciliation and listening, then Schori’s abominable Easter message, next two Bishops are deposed in non-canonical ways, a third 80 year old retired Bishop brought up on charges, +Duncan and +Iker threatened, and they have not yet left, Robinson going on and on about me, me, me, and then a completely nonsensical statement from the HoB that is intentionally incomprehensible, and it is still only Thursday.

    You are a professional Christian, the most of the rest of us are amateurs, and it is difficult for us amateurs to see this going on and not get angry about it. Note that angry is not the same as hate.

    While I understand your concerns about the tone of some of the posts, most of us here see the traditional Episcopal Church that once was sacred and beautiful being destroyed for secular political expediency, and it is difficult to remain unemotional.

    Please forgive me if I have crossed the line.

    Peace,

    Bill

  10. the snarkster says:

    [b][i]I agree with BillS[/b][/i]

    the snarkster

  11. Bill McGovern says:

    Well said, BillS. Given the news from the HOB’s meeting, the days of irenic conversation are over. Those who have not grasped this fact are doomed to be victims. Moderation in the defense of the faith that has come under such satanic attack is no virtue.

  12. Branford says:

    I agree with BillS and remind the clergy reading that they may stay because it is a “job” – and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, but just that they may stay longer because they have more immediately invested – but for those in the pews, this has reached a definite tipping point, especially this past week, that is pushing, practically forcing, us out the doors of our churches to find the gospel life elsewhere. And that is heart-breaking.

  13. Chris Hathaway says:

    This email seemed a bit self-serving, and not a littel pathetic, Kendall.

  14. Chris Hathaway says:

    It does seem to me Kendall, elves, that you have had ample oportunity to review my comments and moderate them as you see fit. That you haven’t yet seems to me a bit of a deceptive form of banning.

  15. Cole says:

    My worry right now is who, and under what political pressure, are determining what appears to be hate speech! I know John the Baptist was considered exclaiming “hate speech” when he criticized the people in power. And, the Profits of the Old Testament were also guilty. If we live in a free society and have the rights to religious freedom, then criticism of behavior, as opposed to a class of people, should be protected.

    The one time I was censored on T1:9, it was over a discussion about making conservative biblical interpretation of Scripture a crime. It was late at night and I rewrote my comment to make sure it couldn’t be misinterpreted and posted it again. ‘ Censored again. I took my comment to the most progressive person I knew and also to a Network bishop. They couldn’t see the problem. My point was that my ancestors fought for the write of religious freedom. I can understand how indignant people must feel when they are being thrown out of their church just because they want to hold true to the historic faith. Now the circumstances of my last sentence may be rather complex. It still boils down to interference in a community of people practicing their faith.

    Sometimes we in our secular life, and sometimes we in our religious life try not to make waves. We are afraid that we may be branded judgmental. Well look what are the results. Better to hear the cock crow thrice?

  16. austin says:

    “It is a terrible reflection on the Church when people with differing viewpoints cannot have discussion in a civil manner.”

    As far as I am aware, I practice and believe precisely the same things as I was taught in my confirmation classes some thirty years ago. I have, rather mildly, defended a high view of Scripture, a male priesthood, Christian marriage, and traditional liturgy in several “moderate” parishes. But, for that very reason, I was labelled “a fundamentalist with incense,” a “die-hard reactionary,” “behind the times,” “a hopeless romantic of a bygone age,” and more by many “middle-of-the-road” Episcopalians who considered their views “centrist.” That those views were simply yesterday’s innovations did not seem relevant to their school of churchmanship. Their via media, I think, was defined by their comfort zone and aversion to controversy.

    Liberals, of course, called me a misogynist, a bigot, and a homophobe. I think I appreciated that more–by their lights, that’s precisely what I am, though I entirely disagree with the grounds of their accusations. I happily call their views heretical, as I believe they are. But they now own TEC, and I can’t associate myself with it any more.

    Being sqeamish about standing up for the truth has completely undermined that fabled Anglican “middle of the road.” The “moderates” are now finding the church they [imagined they] belonged to completely hijacked by revisionists; many of them don’t like what they see. Had they been plainer in articulating what they really stood for, I doubt that we would have come to this pass.

    One man’s venom is another man’s medicine.

  17. Dale Rye says:

    While I am not the correspondent involved, I sympathize completely with the feeling that the center ground is being pulled away. Much of the anger being expressed is the result of grief at broken relationships. I think we all share in that.

    While there may be some who are leaving TEC that are unambivalently glad to see it in their rearview mirror, I think most regret the breaking of lifelong ties. While there may be those on the reappraiser side who are saying “good riddance,” I really think they are a minority; the majority honestly felt that both sides could continue to live within a single body without compromising their respective principles. The same is true of reasserters; I think the majority would have been content with a safe harbor that allowed both groups to coexist without losing their moral or doctrinal integrity. For whatever reason, that broad majority has had the carpet swept out from under them by folks on both sides who have insisted on their way or the highway. The result has been a pattern of broken relationships that hurts, and deeply.

    Although I have been affected far less than some, I find myself in a different branch of Anglicanism than my mother. I have people who were once my closest friends who will not respond to my emails, some of them because I am too liberal for their taste and others because I am too conservative. I routinely have opinions attributed to me that I strongly oppose, simply because I do not follow either party line (apparently you have to be either +John Spong or +Peter Akinola to be regarded as theologically coherent).

    I am accused of being opposed to orthodoxy by people who could not summarize the Definition of Chalcedon to save their lives, and would not fully agree with it—as I do—if they did know it. I am accused of being prejudiced by people who exemplify Mau Mau Chic (9/10ths of the way left of center most of the time and 10/10ths right of center when it affects them personally).

    It is getting old and I am getting tired and I am sometimes very cranky. I think many of us are at the place where we just want the whole horrible conflict to be over, and if that requires the destruction of anything recognizable as traditional Anglicanism, then so be it. Thus we get really nasty and negative in our communications and in our church lives (if not in other contexts). It perpetually amazes me that people can see that the Episcopal Church is shrinking and not recognize that our internal acrimony (plus the public perception of it) is a leading cause of the decline. It is easier to just blame it on the other side.

    I am not a member of the clergy and I will forbear from delivering a sermon on charity. However, as a lawyer I know a lot about conflict resolution and I can assure you that the practical consequences of this hostility are almost as severe as the spiritual consequences. If a split happens, I can guarantee that the groups that survive and prosper will be those who can offer good news (indeed, [b]the[/b] Good News) to a world of hurting people, not those who are perceived as being more opposed to something (be it gays or homophobia) than they are in favor of anything. I have long said, and I still affirm, that my own choice of ice floe to stand on if the Titanic goes down will be dictated less by what that group says it believes than by whether the group seems to embody Gospel values like faith, hope, and love. The greatest of these is love.

  18. Knapsack says:

    Y’know, i do think the comments are less constructive than they were a ways back, which i deal with by taking the time to scroll through them less often. But there is the option to read the blog posts, and just skip clicking the comment tag, especially when you suspect, with reason, that you know what the tenor and tone of them is gonna be. So i’m not too bothered by the fact that there’s been more going on that deeply wounds and upsets people in TEC, and the reaction here may well be constructive venting, which i just don’t choose to read.

  19. The_Elves says:

    Bill S. Indeed it has been an absolutely ugly and heartbreaking week. I am still reeling from the PB’s purported “[url=http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_95591_ENG_HTM.htm]Easter message[/url]” 36 hours later.

    I assure you on a personal level, we elves understand what you all are feeling. There are some days reading the blogs leave us feeling like we’ve been beaten and mugged.

    I am increasingly praying that this devastation will throw us to our knees at the foot of the cross and that we will learn as a community what it means to put our hope in God alone, not in an institution, not in our clergy or bishops, etc. Christ is indeed our only recourse in these times.

    Speaking personally (and this may sound strange coming from an elf and a blogger) I’d counsel all those who are struggling with anger and despair over the TEC and Anglican news to not hesitate to just turn off the Anglican / TEC news for several days or weeks. Turn to God and His Word and worship. It will help you regain the big picture.

    Ps. 73 has helped and comforted me often in this season, it speaks so powerfully to our situation and reminds us where true hope and understanding is to be found:

    [blockquote]8 They scoff and speak with malice;
    loftily they threaten oppression.
    9 They set their mouths against the heavens,
    and their tongue struts through the earth.
    10 Therefore his people turn back to them,
    and find no fault in them.
    11 And they say, “How can God know?
    Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
    12 Behold, these are the wicked;
    always at ease, they increase in riches.
    13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean
    and washed my hands in innocence.
    14 For all the day long I have been stricken
    and rebuked every morning.
    15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
    I would have betrayed the generation of your children.

    16 But when I thought how to understand this,
    it seemed to me a wearisome task,
    17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
    then I discerned their end.
    […]

    21 When my soul was embittered,
    when I was pricked in heart,
    22 I was brutish and ignorant;
    I was like a beast toward you.

    23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.
    24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory.
    25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
    26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength [2] of my heart and my portion forever.

    27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
    you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
    28 But for me it is good to be near God; …
    [/blockquote]

    May the Lord help each of us to draw near to Him in these final days of Lent and during Holy Week and Easter. It IS good to be near God. My prayer for our readers tonight is that all of us would be reminded of that when the betrayal and anger and Anglican chaos seems overwhelming.

    –elfgirl

  20. robroy says:

    I really don’t understand this talk. Jesus tossed out the money changers on their butts when he saw them defiling the temple. Look at the “Easter” message of Katherine Jefferts-Schori – Easter eggs and global warming. Deposing godly old men (see [url=http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/10801/ ]here[/url]) who have give their lives to the service of the church and Christ. If one doesn’t have righteous anger about this, then there is something wrong.

  21. The_Elves says:

    Cole, #14, not sure when your one instance of elfen censoring occurred, but it could be possible it was unintentional On the old version of T19, we had certain words that were filtered. Most were to prevent spam (words like “gambling” “casinos” most brand name drugs, etc.), some filtered words were to help avoid certain off-topic tendencies in the comments (i.e. the word “nazi” was moderated). Sometimes perfectly reasonable comments got caught in the spam filter and we didn’t always notice them and they got deleted.

    Other times we may overreact if the day has been long and we’re trying to keep fires from starting rather than merely trying to put out existing flames. We don’t always elf well or consistently. It’s tough and we do this as volunteers on top of other work and ministry responsibilities. So, when we’ve messed up and seem arbitrary or unnecessarily censorious, please forgive us. We try to be consistent and evenhanded, but we know that we don’t always manage it.

  22. Hope says:

    “I really don’t understand this talk. Jesus tossed out the money changers on their butts when he saw them defiling the temple.”

    The problem as I see it is that some people here and on other conservative blogs have become– and you can understand it to some extent but not excuse it– so defensive and reactionary that anyone who even tries to insert a bit of hope and charity is assumed to be defiling the temple as well.
    A few weeks ago I commented to a friend that if a clever writer paraphrased the Sermon on the Mount so that only the meaning remained and not the familiar language, people on these blogs would jump all over it as wimpy, “revisionist” bullpucky. I didn’t have to wait for the rewrite—someone actually did say that parts of the Sermon on the Mount was “only fit to be embroidered on tea towels.”
    Without the love it really just is gongs and cymbals. I understand that now better than I ever did before.

  23. Cole says:

    # 20: Thank you for your answer. It did shut me down from contributing for many months. I was confused. I think the filter got me.

  24. zana says:

    #18 elfgirl,
    Thank you so much for that psalm and your words of wisdom. It actually brought me to tears. (And now the patrons here at the library where I work must think I’ve gone completely mental!) But you’re right, you’re so very right. In the words of one of my favorite Taize songs:

    “In God alone my soul can find rest and peace,
    In God my peace and joy.
    Only in God my soul can find its rest,
    Find its rest and peace.”

  25. libraryjim says:

    sr, fellow Librarian?

    I love the original:
    Mon âme se repose en paix sur Dieu seul,
    De lui vient mon salut
    Oui, sur Dieu seul
    Mon âmi se repose
    Se repose en paix.

  26. indie says:

    I completely agree with Hope (#21). I usually avoid the comments here unless they are completely unrelated to the church conflict and even then some of them are so full of hate. Its hard to believe that some of the people here call themselves Christians and are so full of hate. Jesus made clear what the two greatest commands are, but judging by a large number of the comments here you would think that they were don’t be gay and don’t ordain women.

  27. RickW says:

    I struggle with reading the comments on occasion. I read things and ask, if they love God, how can they write that way about another one of God’s people? Do they hate themselves or do they not follow the commandment – “love your neighbor as yourself.”

    When reading the comments about Gov Spitzer, I ask – what is God saying about the guy? Is the Lord rejoicing over the fall of a man or is he weeping at the sin?

    Some are excusing their comments – well they did that first! They stole our church!

    From the time Jesus prayed in the garden to the time he was crucified, was he offended a few times? Did a few people hurt him and insult him? And what then was his response – just to take that same offense and sin to the cross and die for those who were mistreating him. His response was not militant, but humble – who among us is being as humble as Jesus?

    So you don’t want to be a doormat – but wasn’t Jesus a doormat? Actually, laying down his right to defend himself and justify himself took more strength than fighting back would have done. It seems to me that the only christian action is to be humble, take the punches thrown at us, bless those who mistreat us and pray for those who persecute us. Even die for those who would kill us.

    Elfgirl is my hero – you go Girl! For others who comment, there aught to be more teaching on grace. The guy who wrote the letter is being honest. People are being won over by grace and mercy, not by confrontation and condemnation. What the poster refers to as fundamentalism is just law expoused without grace. Grace is difficult to offer in writing. It is difficult to understand the underlying failures and keep the person being discussed in perspective. Each person is God’s special treasure here on Earth. If we fail to recognize that fact (regardless of their sin, since Jesus died for them well before they were born or ever sinned once) we also fail to receive the grace of God for ourselves.

    Do we really want to risk being like the unmerciful servant? Or like the pharisees who practiced a form of godliness and put rules on others that they were unwilling to follow themselves?

    Sorry, but this has been building up for a number of weeks and I am pained by the lack of teaching here and in the church about grace, mercy and humility. A church that doesn’t teach these principals on a regular basis and lets its people ignore these basic premises, will not be worth much.

  28. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    [url=http://www.taize.fr/en_article681.html]Mon âme se repose[/url]

  29. TACit says:

    The elves offer an outstanding referee service, no question. This e-mailer, though, may be susceptible to confusing hate with anger, and he/she does not seem to recognize that the center ground has in fact all but disappeared. If the so-called ‘Easter’ message of the PB has not made that clear, reinforced by unthinkable depositions of faithful octagenarian bishops, something even more discouraging will come along to further clarify. For faithful Anglican Christians in the Western church there has been a great deal to be angry and exceedingly frustrated about recently. It seems just possible to me that the posted e-mail was a subtle attempt at intimidation of those who care enough and are aware enough that they continue to call ’em as they see ’em.
    At the end of the gospel for Palm Sunday in Luke (19:40) we find Jesus saying that, failing the human witness of those who strewed the palms and acclaimed him as King, the very stones would cry out. He said this to answer Pharisees who told him to rebuke his disciples for acclaiming him King. The current power elite of TEC also would prevent the faithful from acclaiming Jesus as King. What better way to effect this, than to make them feel guilty about speaking up and speaking out.

  30. Bill Matz says:

    Dale (#16),
    Always appreciate your insights. For many of us it has been like standing on an ice floe that is breaking up underneath us. Not only is it pulling our legs apart, so that we have to choose one side, but there is also a center portion that upon inspection proves to be too mushy to support our weight.

    Like you I look for groups that manifest fruits of the spirit. But simply showing “love” is not enough. There are many reappraiser congregations, non-Christian congregations and even secular groups that objectively manifest “love”, at least as they see it. The real question is “Why should we love?” If the answer is not Scripture (amplified by tradition and reason) I do not see how we can call ourselves Christians. How else can we credibly claim to know and follow Christ?

    The primary problem I see with reappraiser theology is that is has no limits. So of course they can include reasserters; there can be no exclusion where there are no boundaries. But we now see the de facto reappraiser boundary: anyone who takes the Bible seriously as authority (i.e. sees boundaries) cannot be included. Do you not see the irony here? Acting on belief in the only book that can provide a basis for the faith is now seen as a fatal flaw that takes one outside that very faith.

  31. Phil says:

    I really enjoy it (no sarcasm) when elfgirl writes stuff like that. It’s rare that we get to hear from the elves, but when they become commenters, it is almost always uplifting and joyful.

  32. cddemaree says:

    As an (usually) unabashed liberal I would like to state that this site does present an opportunity for GOOD discussion, discernment and even argument which is rare and I fully appreciate, but it is also rare for me (and I suspect there are other lurkers) to post simply because it also creates the potential for the extreme back and forth. The elves, bless them, have an almost impossible task. I try very hard, and many others I’ve read on here do as well, to keep my comments in check. That said, both the email and the post were timely and needed. In short, thanks for keeping this a site for all of us Christians, the fundamentalists and heretics alike! 😉

  33. Larry Morse says:

    It is not anger or hate – though both exist here – but despair and impotence that drive many of the excesses. Someone above wrote that something primal was broken several years ago, and “primal” is correct.
    The problems are not problems of communication e.g., but fundamental to the very meaning of the word – something more serious than a betrayal of trust, hypocrisy, political chicanery, vapid fashionable posturing, dissimulation and manipulation. This is why homosexuality and marriage thereof are central to this debate, because these roil waters that run well below the scriptures. For a Christian, there is such a thing as Unalterable Law, “the Love that moves the sun and all the other stars,” where no language can ever go. I recall Meredith’s “Lucifer by Starlight.” Satan rises from his dark dominions once again and soars above the earth, his heart set on man’s vulnerability, but looked up from “the middle height” …”and at the stars/Which are the brain of Heaven, he looked and sank./Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,/ The army of unalterable law.” It is not merely TEC which is in its vanity pretending that such law does not exist, but an entire culture, and we are helpless to do anything about it. LM

  34. teddy mak says:

    I welcome the mounting anger. I have been opposing revisionist heresies for 40 of my 70 years, and have been wondering if the Episco untermenchen would ever awaken. The vile behaviour of the PB and HOB in the last several weeks seems to have done the trick for a lot of you. Good.
    Face it. The revisionist cabal means the total destruction and disinfranchisement of orthodox American Anglicans trapped in the Episcopal Church. I urge those who have finally grasped the reality to act on it, with righteous anger. Write (snail mail, certified so they will open it) of your anger and disappointment to your priest and bishop. And, of course, since money and property is what the liberal is most desirous of plucking from you, cut out completely any givings to any revisionist parish or diocese.
    My Jesus is a wiry, angry Jewish carpenter, well muscled enough to send the money changer’s tables flying. He was strong enough to bear being spiked to a tree for you. Will you fail him now? Will you quietly submit to Evil, or will you be strong enought to confront It?
    There is a time for everything, a time for peace, a time for war. It appears some of us have finally understood what time it is.

  35. paxetbonum says:

    Kendall,
    I am afraid the point of the piece is undermined when you in your own comment use the ‘TEc’ with the lowercase c. I hear vitriol every time I read someone write that. Its like you are saying The Episcopal Church isn’t really a Church. As a priest of The Episcopal Church, I know she isn’t perfect and is often broken. But know, even the small little throwaway comments drive a wedge between centrists and those further to the right. Just being honest here.

  36. robroy says:

    [blockquote]But know, even the small little throwaway comments drive a wedge between [i]centrists[/i] and those further to the right.[/blockquote]
    Dale and paxetbonum are centrists??? The TEc has slipped so far to the looney left (see KJS’s Easter bunny message) that perhaps they are centrists.

  37. TACit says:

    Wow, I had to go back for a look at comment 6 to see the lower-case c that #34 refers to…..are you sure that was intentional, 34? I’d have thought it was a slip of the finger off the key…..

  38. Spiro says:

    Re: “It is a terrible reflection on the Church when people with differing viewpoints cannot have discussion in a civil manner.”

    The emailer (quote supra), see a “terrible reflection”, but fails to see the elephant in the room. As the saying goings: you only see what you want to see.

    Whenever a Liberal starts praising you and telling the whole world how “you are not like the rest of them”, beware.
    – my 2c. worth and sincere advice to T19 and all other Reasserters and Orthodox Christians everywhere.
    My sense of smell is so sensitive that picking up the scents of …. is never a problem. I can smell what is very, very far away, and what is coming in the not very distant future. I am in real prayer for the tiny number of the faithful that are still doing a gaint of a job in this fight.
    Beware! And May the Lord have mercy on us!

    Fr. Kingsley Jon-Ubabuco
    Arlington, TX

  39. ann r says:

    One of the problems that surfaces in this conversation is how do we understand Love. For some here, love is being nice nice. For others, love is warning of dangers to come. When folks are engaged in a lifestyle proven to be dangerous to health in many ways, and are engaged in practicing a form of religion that denies sin and the need for salvation, then it is not the time to be nice nice. Love is saying “look out,” “stop,” “repent while there is time.” Jesus was not a doormat! Look at all the times he talked about outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. He made it clear that rejection of God’s express commands could keep one out of the Kingdom of Heaven. Love does not give up speaking even when the message disturbs those who are redesigning Scripture to suit their desires. Imagine John the Baptist in TEc! I suspect there were those who considered the message of that fellow at the Jordan “hate speech”!

  40. BillS says:

    Elves,

    Thank you for your understanding. However, the answer is not to turn off and ignore the destruction of the Episcopal Church.

    The answer is for every one of us, in every way, at every opportunity, to point out to the rest of the Anglican world, the non Christian, tyrannical takeover, of the Episcopal Church in America as clearly, cogently, and consistently as possible.

    This is not spewing hate, it is standing up for Biblical Truth. To communicate the outrages of the leadership of TEC means using strong clear language, humor, and parody to communicate the point.

  41. Bob G+ says:

    Dale Rye (#16) – a very good comment. Those too far on the right and those too far on the left to accommodate disagreement within the ranks will absolutely disapprove of you thoughts, however. The evidence exists in the comments to this post, at least from the “conservative” side.

    As I’ve written elsewhere, we have all been co-opted by our political culture – polarization, character assassination, sound-bite statements, personal denigration, hyper-individualism, and the like. A democratic form of government, whether our American federal system or our peculiar ecclesiastical system, cannot survive without compromise, honest debate with those with whom we disagree, protection from the “tyranny of the majority,” and a “loyal opposition.”

    What we are heading for in this Church is ecclesiastical despotism (liberal or conservative) unless we re-learn how to be Anglican in our ability to wrestle with Scripture, tradition, and reason together, with one another, in order to discern His will. Unless we stop caving into the polarizing American system of late, we won’t survive as Anglicans no matter with which jurisdiction we decide to align.

  42. Hope says:

    “It perpetually amazes me that people can see that the Episcopal Church is shrinking and not recognize that our internal acrimony (plus the public perception of it) is a leading cause of the decline. It is easier to just blame it on the other side.”

    Yep. I sincerely believed I had chosen the right side of this split, but now it seems like the “right” side is trying to further fracture itself into pieces that will simply not hold together. The world is full of broken, hurting people and we are told to bring them to Christ, but how can we even think about that now? I wouldn’t even try to bring a happy person into this church, much less someone with problems.
    It wasn’t the laity who ordained a lot of loons into the church and then let them take over. I am very tired of being told that it was all because “we” allowed this to happen by not being tough enough.

  43. Charley says:

    Bob, your post sounds if we are arguing of the nature of the Trinity, the Filioque, or to the teaming, unwashed, lacking in Ph.D.s in theology masses, some other ‘esoteric’ point.

    Rather, we are being asked to countenance and bless anal sex between men and whatever it is that lesbians do when they get together, and to proclaim the rightness of “marriage” (what a joke) between those of the same sex.

    It’s not hard to get one’s head around the ‘wrongness’ of homosex, at least not for anybody with common sense and a fleeting knowledge of microbiology.

  44. Hope says:

    And some people are tripping on this whole thing. The most exciting thing in their lives since Hector was a pup. Not letting even a corner of it be resolved for fear of losing the rush. I kid you not.

  45. Bill Cool says:

    There seems to be a distinction between Christians “Telling the truth in love” and secular civility. I wonder if we are not sometime in danger of making a false idol of politeness.

    I wonder if the following comment would survive the T19 civility test if it were written by a commenter on this blog:

    Gal 5:12 “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!”

    Or if the following reply by the martyr Polycarp would be considered an inappropriate exchange on T19:

    Polycarp replied to [the heretic] Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, “Do you know me? “”I do know you, the first-born of Satan.” – cited by Irenaeus in his writing against heresy (Adv. Haer. 3.3.4)

    A part (albeit a very small part – TEC) of the Body of Christ is being attacked, in fact has been successfully subverted, by leaders who do not believe in the authority of Scripture, the historical incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection, nor their implication for our eternal destiny, and do not agree that the Great Commission is still operative today. In the midst of this blatant wish to destroy the Body of Christ, it sometimes seems that T19 “conversation” must focus on weighing issues and commenting on merely the substance of whatever the latest official statement or news report says, but not ever approach the sort of statements I have cited from the actual apostolic history of our church. We claim to be a church that follows the apostles and those who followed them. What writings we do have from those who we claim to follow were not always entirely civil, but they were by people who loved and obeyed Jesus and who loved and defended His people.

    I realize that neither we nor what we write should be hate-driven, but anger and dismay about what is being done to the bride of the one we follow is on target. Sometimes comments which express such anger and dismay must, unless they are encrypted behind some obtuse mask of civility, mention the ones who are leading TEC and will mention our anger and dismay at what they are doing. Otherwise, we would not be sharing the same zeal that Jesus, his Apostles, and those leaders who followed them had for the will of the Father.

  46. Hope says:

    There are lots of ways to use Scripture to justify being blunt and to justify being tactful or circumspect. We could go on arguing that forever. It does take wisdom and humility to know the difference. Jesus seemed to know when to go from one extreme to the other. Paul did, too.
    I respectfully submit that a good starting place would be to be sure that the person we are smiting is actually an enemy before we level the first blow.

  47. Eutychus says:

    The emailer gives us the worst feeding of hate, smug and wrapped in civility.

    “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15 NIV)

    Now is the time to repent!
    Now is the time to believe!

    That’s exactly what God is saying to His Church today.

  48. BillS says:

    Schori is the enemy. She is dishonest, beginning with lying on her resume, pretending to be Dean of a nonexistent school of theology. She lied a year ago when she said that she could agree to the protocol at DeS.

    She is persecuting those with whom she disagrees. The DoVA was on a path to work out a mutual settlement with departing parishes when she told +Lee to sue the parishes. Where is the “reconciliation” in that?

    She behaves like a tyrant, with no sense of mercy. As much as we would all like to believe that some kind of accommodation could be reached, she has shown that it is not possible.

    It is important to clearly recognize the kind of person that she is in order to understand that her goal for TEC of secular political power is the antithesis of what traditional Christianity represents. She may win in the short run, but will be defeated in the long run.

  49. Hope says:

    “I realize that neither we nor what we write should be hate-driven, but anger and dismay about what is being done to the bride of the one we follow is on target. Sometimes comments which express such anger and dismay must, unless they are encrypted behind some obtuse mask of civility, mention the ones who are leading TEC and will mention our anger and dismay at what they are doing. Otherwise, we would not be sharing the same zeal that Jesus, his Apostles, and those leaders who followed them had for the will of the Father.”
    Fine, but some of us are shooting ourselves in the foot. It would be sad if the people whose sins we are angry about drive us into even worse ones.

  50. The_Elves says:

    Bill S. a quick response to your #39. I wasn’t advocating turning off entirely, but definitely taking breaks from the blogs from time to time to ensure perspective rather than the tunnel-vision that can occur when one is trapped in this chaos day after day. This stuff is not healthy and I truly believe it is dangerous for us to follow it day after day after day without times away. I can’t tell you what a marked improvement there is in my own spirirtual life and joy now that I am spending a lot less time focusing on this stuff. I am pretty much taking one full day each week offline and have cut back daily internet time pretty sharply too.

    Also: Amen to clear speech, and even outrage. Kendall has stated before that he’s not against passionate comments. But all we usually ask is that the passionate language be directed against ACTIONS and ARGUMENTS, not against individuals be they commenters or TEC or Anglican leaders. It’s not always an easy distinction to maintain, and yes, there are Scriptural passages that challenge this request of ours where the accusatory and imprecatory language seems to be directed against individuals. But, this blog isn’t Holy Writ and most of us aren’t specifically inspired by the Holy Spirit when we write here… so, please keep that in mind! 😉

    I guess one other thought comes to mind about all the Scriptural examples of forceful speech and anger cited above. I think there’s a difference in terms of audience and purpose of most of the “speech” on the blog, from the accounts we receive in Scripture. Christ accused the Pharisees to their face, and He also needed to teach and warn His disciples against their errors. Same with Paul: He confronted the judaizers in person, and also then wrote to the congregations he was responsible to teach and shepherd, warning them strongly about their errors. When we attack others on this blog, who is the audience? What is the purpose? Something to keep in mind. Certainly pastors and teachers have very clear exhortations to warn their flocks against error and wolves in sheep’s clothing. But how do our blog comments fit into that? Is it just venting?

    Just thinking aloud. Thanks for listening.

    –elfgirl

  51. BillS says:

    Eflgirl,

    Good advice and perspective.
    See you next week!

  52. Phil says:

    To follow up on Bob G+’s comment (#40), he implores us to “re-learn how to be Anglican in our ability to wrestle with Scripture, tradition, and reason together, with one another, in order to discern His will.” We hear this a lot from the Left: can’t we all get along, like we always have? The subtext is that Anglicans have never had any real doctrinal standards, so why should we start having them now?

    Much has been made in service of this argument of the Elizabethan Settlement that essentially cemented opposing camps together in one organization. Indeed, for many, Catholicism and Protestantism are church-dividing, as history shows. Why not for us? Some fervently think that because two camps will studiously disagree on, for example, the efficacy of the sacraments, they should fall down before a third camp that denies Jesus’ divinity or imagines two men can “marry.”

    The question is good as far as it goes, but consistency isn’t exactly a hallmark of human behavior. I think the Left needs to at least consider the possibility that the successful containment of these two opposing ideas is sui generis, a historical oddity – and not even American history, at that.

    The Protestant-Catholic dynamic is really a bridge too far. That the bridge hasn’t fallen down in our case should be received with gratitude to God. Instead, some wish to test the Lord their God by doubling the weight on the bridge.

    There is no general rule within Anglicanism that anything goes doctrinally; that any innovation is received joyfully as a seminar topic.

  53. Hope says:

    #49, thank you, that is what I was trying clumsily to say.
    “There is no general rule within Anglicanism that anything goes doctrinally; that any innovation is received joyfully as a seminar topic”
    #51, So, are we dividing into the camp that thinks Anglicanism was just a bad idea to begin with (which makes me wonder why they stay) and one that thinks that a not-too-large group of extremists has taken advantage and gone too far and that it was not necessarily a bad idea to begin with?
    I don’t need to be convinced that the extremists are as bad as Y’all say they are. I have seen, experienced and lived that. What I need to be convinced of is that Y’all aren’t as bad as they say YOU are. Excuse the bluntness, I don’t know any other way to phrase it.

  54. badman says:

    The rule for comments must be the same as the gospel rule for life – we must handle our own sins before we pronounce on others.

    Hence, it is no excuse when our comments are uncharitable or lacking in Christian hope that “the enemy are worse and they made us so.”

    To be fair, I think that bad tempered comments are normal in blogland, and get more so as a site and its regular commenters become established. People get into a rut and the “bah, humbug” button gets pressed more easily, as the ears stop listening so well, and we end up like the red-faced club bore in the armchair by the fire snorting at the Daily Telegraph.

    The long-term answer is comment moderation. It is because of the Elves that this site is so much better than others in this respect – it is because, indeed, of the discipline exerted by the webmaster in comments like the one which are responding to here. The work of discipline and self-discipline is never done, but it is good work, especially the latter.

  55. Bob G+ says:

    BillS (#47) wrote: [i]Schori is the enemy. She is dishonest, beginning with lying on her resume, pretending to be Dean of a nonexistent school of theology. She lied a year ago when she said that she could agree to the protocol at DeS.[/i]

    I can’t speak to the whole “dean of a nonexistent school…” thing, but we need to stop continually spreading misinformation (lying) by asserting that she lied when she “agreed to the protocol at DeS.” She agreed to bring the protocol back to the House of Bishops for their decision, since she did (does) not have the authority to commit this Church to such a protocol on her own, whether it was a good or bad protocol.

  56. Phil says:

    Hope #52, I honestly don’t know – if Anglicanism was a bad idea to begin with or whether the fact of it means we should push the limits for all they’re worth. Of course, the argument could be made (and I agree with it) that, whatever happened later, Anglicanism was never an “idea” to begin with, it was a political compromise (which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t receive it with gratitude).

    If, by “YOU” you mean traditional Anglicans, that’s a question you have to answer for yourself. The reality is, none of us measure up in the absence of God’s grace.

  57. Hope says:

    “Anglicanism was never an “idea” to begin with, it was a political compromise (which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t receive it with gratitude).”
    Which I have always done. Which seems to be the kind of crucible from which the best of our imperfect human endeavors have sprung. The knack for which seems to be lost these days.

  58. Dale Rye says:

    I have quoted this before from Ignatius of Loyola, but I have always found it helpful:
    [blockquote]PRESUPPOSITION
    In order that both he who is giving the Spiritual Exercises, and he who is receiving them, may more help and benefit themselves, let it be presupposed that every good Christian is to be more ready to save his neighbor’s proposition than to condemn it. If he cannot save it, let him inquire how he means it; and if he means it badly, let him correct him with charity. If that is not enough, let him seek all the suitable means to bring him to mean it well, and save himself. (Sp. Ex. 22)[/blockquote]
    Some other precepts seem relevant:
    [blockquote]If he who is giving the Exercises sees that he who is receiving them is in desolation and tempted, let him not be hard or dissatisfied with him, but gentle and indulgent, giving him courage and strength for the future, and laying bare to him the wiles of the enemy of human nature, and getting him to prepare and dispose himself for the consolation coming. (Sp. Ex. 7)[/blockquote]
    And
    [blockquote]We ought to be more prompt to find good and praise as well the Constitutions and recommendations as the ways of our Superiors. Because, although some are not or have not been such, to speak against them, whether preaching in public or discoursing before the common people, would rather give rise to fault-finding and scandal than profit; and so the people would be incensed against their Superiors, whether temporal or spiritual. So that, as it does harm to speak evil to the common people of Superiors in their absence, so it can make profit to speak of the evil ways to the persons themselves who can remedy them. (Sp. Ex 362)[/blockquote]
    And of course there is this rejoinder to those of us who are tempted to put our own judgment above the collective discernment of the Body of Christ:
    [blockquote]To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed. (Sp. Ex. 365)[/blockquote]

  59. Ed the Roman says:

    Elves, if you think that my pseudo-abuse of the emailer was the least bit sincere, you are mistaken. Have a blessed Holy Week.

  60. Bob G+ says:

    Phil (#51) – just a couple additional comments from me:
    You wrote: [i]We hear this a lot from the Left: can’t we all get along, like we always have? The subtext is that Anglicans have never had any real doctrinal standards, so why should we start having them now?[/i]

    Even as the writer of the e-mail above states that the rug is being pulled out from under the centrists, if you are attempting to label me a “leftist,” you’re mistaken. I am certainly a right-leaning centrist (even if left-leaning on a couple issues). That being said, it isn’t a matter for me of “all of us JUST getting along.” It is a matter of humility. We do not know all, yet, and as we don’t know all then in our fallenness we need to wrestle with one another, as iron-sharpens-iron, so that we don’t fall into sectarianism or particularism or judgmentalism or haughty arrogance as we attempt to discern God’s will.

    The subtext, at least as I see it, is not that Anglicanism has never had any doctrine, but that there has always been disagreement and infighting over doctrine (even though it is only enshrined officially Communion-wide within our Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, and implied perhaps within the 39 Articles that were never intended to be a confessional statement). And, we can say that what we believe officially as a Church is held within the Book of Common Prayer, despite the particular and/or errant beliefs of lay, deacon, priest, or bishop.

    We have always fought, and often fought hard, over our particular positions concerning Scripture, tradition, and reason and how they all play together. It is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean… If what comes out of our mouths are stereotypes, lies, vainglory, unwarranted accusation, words leading to actions that are contrary to the Fruit of the Spirit as we deal with one another, repudiating vows, then we go a long way in showing our fellows and the world around us what is the true condition of our hearts (conservative or liberal). We may proclaim all manner of things as “truth,” but the way we act and the tone of our language proves whether our hearts and minds have been truly trans/reformed or not on a level that goes far beyond particular theological or moral beliefs we may hold at any period within our own personal histories or even the Church’s history.

    [i]”… Indeed, for many, Catholicism and Protestantism are church-dividing, as history shows. Why not for us? Some fervently think that because two camps will studiously disagree on, for example, the efficacy of the sacraments, they should fall down before a third camp that denies Jesus’ divinity or imagines two men can “marry.”…[/i]

    Those who have historically stayed together within Anglicanism to argue their perspective/interpretation, even if they lose the fight de jour, have done so because they decided to do so (with obvious exceptions – Puritans, Methodists, Reformed Episcopal Church, etc). We make those same decisions, today. I disagree with what seems to me to be your either/or dichotomy. With some issues, there are many different perspectives that defy our attempt to put everyone in either one camp or the other.

  61. Phil says:

    I don’t know, Bob. To a large extent, I agree with the tenor of what you’re saying. I just can’t go all the way with your logic. The paradigm I can’t bring myself to discard is that there are red lines which we can’t cross without fatally undermining the Gospel. I also believe there are real enemies of the Cross out there, in this church and others.

    Things like this:

    “We do not know all, yet, and as we don’t know all then in our fallenness we need to wrestle with one another, as iron-sharpens-iron, so that we don’t fall into sectarianism or particularism or judgmentalism or haughty arrogance as we attempt to discern God’s will.”

    can be used as tools in the hands of those enemies to go beyond the red lines, and I don’t understand how you propose to prevent that. It’s well and good to say, “With some issues, there are many different perspectives that defy our attempt to put everyone in either one camp or the other.” Really, though, that’s true of every issue. So one priest might teach Christ was God incarnate, another might teach He was a human invested with a special blessing from God, still another might teach He was only a really neat philosopher. I guess the question is whether you’re willing to have each of those views accepted with humility as equally valid opinions. If not, I respectfully suggest that your philosophy of Anglicanism has to be tightened up considerably in practice, as appealing as it might be in theory.

  62. Bob G+ says:

    Phil (#60) – You wrote: [i] The paradigm I can’t bring myself to discard is that there are red lines which we can’t cross without fatally undermining the Gospel.[/i]

    I hear ya, Phil, and the boundaries have been spelled out for us as Anglicans in the Creeds of the first four Ecumenical Councils and the Prayer Book (all centered upon Scripture). But, there is still that pesky part about Scripture and our inability to all agree together on what every part of it means.

    What does this Church officially believe? The Prayer Book and Canons spell out such things. Marriage – one man, one woman. Christology – the Creeds. Soteriology – salvation through Jesus Christ, alone. I know some people think our current Prayer Book is heretical in and of itself, but that is another argument. For the last however many years (and the number of years depends on what issue gets our knickers in a knot) we’ve been in theological and ecclesiastical chaos, but that does not mean we must spin ourselves into oblivion. Some of us need to get over our bad selves!

    There have been heretical and/or immoral Popes and the Roman Church has survived and prospered. The Reformation came and here we are, and the Roman Church survived, reformed, reformed again, and is still reforming. They certainly don’t have it all figured out, no matter how many books are in the Vatican library.

    Phil, you know that anything can be used for good and for bad. We cannot prevent some people from using even that which is good in ways that end badly. There comes a point when we must believe that Jesus is in control of His Church and us idiotic, sinful, fallen, and fallible humans are not the salvation of His Church. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be diligent in… what?… seeking Jesus, praying, studying-learning-and-inwardly-digesting Scripture, pulling the logs out of our own eyes, loving even our enemies, vowing that today we will die to our selves. It feels like we think that we are the defenders and saviors of the Church, when all of us – everyone one of us – are the very ones that screw up everything all the time because none of us are righteous, not ever one. Our most righteous deeds are as filthy rags – our most pious and pure beliefs are all screwed up, already.

    What we have today rather than the allowance of doubt and variance in theological questioning imbued with Scripture/tradition/reason (the traditional Anglican perspective), is the elevation of doubt as the pinnacle of religious experience on one side and dogmatism on the other – with judgmentalism and the assertion of hyper-individualism and identity-politic all around. We have a definite problem with our processes and with discipline.

    None of us has the right or the ability to do what God has reserved for Himself – judgment of whether this one or that one is His child or no, no matter how screwed-up we think s/he is. Remember, this is His Church – it is not ours! The solution is not to throw out the baby with the bath water – divide to become a dogmatic and authoritarian entity or just a more Protestant version of the Church of Rome.

  63. libraryjim says:

    But He did give us the ability to judge according to actions and words whether a person was teaching truth or error. His teaching on the fruits, his granting the right to forgive or bind sins, telling us to judge with a righteous judgement, etc. all bear this out.

    The Apostles carried this over, as well, in their preaching and teaching and actions (Paul rebuking the fortune teller; Peter telling Simon Magus what he could do with his money; the council at Jerusalem).

    Peace
    Jim Elliott <><

  64. Bob G+ says:

    libraryjim (#62) – I’m sorry for the length – I know I’m way too verbose. Good thing it doesn’t translate into hour long sermons!

    I agree with you, and IMHO, there are some in leadership who because of their struggles with honestly accepting the traditional understandings of particular “Articles of the Christian Faith,” as the 1928 Baptismal services calls them, need not wear those doubts and unbelief on their sleeves for all to see but should declare the teaching of the Church to the people as a matter of faith and right instruction. If they cannot in good conscious teach the official Church teaching, then they should resign their position and wrestle through their doubt or unbelief – and we should be right there to tarry with and help them. By the way I’m not a 1928-PB-only kind of guy, but the ’28 PB also specifies in the Baptismal service that the “Articles of the Christian Faith” are found in the Creeds alone, it seems.

    So, yes, I think judgments should be made and actions should be taken concerning leaders who find themselves in unbelief and unable to advocate for official Church teaching. We all struggle through this, whether leaders or not. If a bishop posts his theses on his diocesan website and states that “this is what Christianity must become” and denies all that is spelled out in the Creeds and the BCP and Canons regarding the “Articles of the Christian Faith,” then he needs to resign or be removed from his position of authority until such a time as he comes back to faithful belief, as is prescribed in the “Articles of the Christian Faith” – the Creeds understood within the context of their authors. I can respect his struggle and his honesty and even his doubt, but to become an advocate of something other than the Christian faith is, I think, a “red-line” issue, as Phil might say.

    Even if someone becomes convinced of the accuracy of his/her peculiar belief opposed to the regular understanding of the “Articles of the Christian Faith,” s/he has a right to advocate for it and try to convince everyone else of it. However, not as a leader of the Church in her/his position of authority attempting to persuade the faithful to believe differently, IMHO. But then again, in hindsight what do we say about Martin Luther? Even Thomas Cranmer who wanted to do the innovative and unorthodox thing of putting the liturgy in the vernacular? Not to mention John Calvin, Jacobus Arminius, John Wesley – what do we do with them? (I know that none of them advocated things contrary to traditional Trinitarian faith, but much of their teachings at the time were quite innovative and unorthodox.)

    A good friend of mine who is a long-time priest is going through a “dark night of the soul” and frankly is having a very difficult time believing in the very existence of God. He does not wear his struggle on his sleeve and does not pontificate on how we should all revel in our doubt and change everything around so that we can continue wallowing in our unbelief. He teaches the official teaching, he continues the prescribed liturgy, and the sacraments are valid for the people despite his troubles. And, he wrestles mightily with whether he should resign. I don’t think he should – not because I’m all liberal and think that anyone has the right to be a priest despite his/her beliefs, but because all of us struggle through “dark nights of the soul” and with doubt. If he continues teaching the “Articles of the Faith” as the Church prescribes them, then God will work through him for the sake of his people, and in him as God is his help. He doesn’t hold classes to reformulate the Creeds so that he can believe them as he is right now. He teaches the faith. This priest, unlike the bishop, is an example to me of someone who honestly struggles, but maintains the faith through the Church’s “Articles of the Christian Faith” and who can legitimately continue in ministry as he is able. I know many will probably disagree with me on this, but there you go.

  65. libraryjim says:

    [i]If they cannot in good conscious teach the official Church teaching, then they should resign their position and wrestle through their doubt or unbelief – and we should be right there to tarry with and help them.[/i]

    We are in agreement here. BUT then the question becomes: What if that leader doesn’t resign, and persists in teaching her — or his — heresy as the ‘new direction’ and ‘God’s New Thing’ as inspired teaching designed to take the church or denomination into a new direction — in spite of the protests of the majority of leadership worldwide in that denomination (or communion)? And insists that those who stand for the traditional teaching must conform to that ‘new thing’?

    That’s where we are now, unfortunately.

    As to ‘the Venacular’ that was not a matter of the essentials of the Faith, but of common practice. And remember, too, at one time Latin WAS the venacular of the people, understood by a majority of those in the lands once claimed by the Roman Empire.

    Alas, I have no great respect for Martin Luther! I believe he did more harm to the Church than good. And no doubt, many will disagree with ME on that.

    The benefit of the doubt should go to, not those who innovate, but those who defend or stand for the faith handed down/received.

    As to your priest friend, I agree with you — as long as he is teaching correct theology, he should not resign. We now know that Mother Teresa suffered the same doubt, but her ministry and service to the Lord was all the more impressive for it.

    Peace to you (and to your friend!)

    Jim Elliott <><

  66. Bill Matz says:

    BobG,
    Thanks for your continued thoughtful comments. Two add’l thoughts.

    First, has not the right been very generous in its tolerance and diversity over the last 40 years? It is the left that sees the only acceptable conversation as one resulting in total submission by the right.

    Second, the right has shown its willingness to “live in tension” on a variety of issues such as divorce, abortion, women’s ordination. But all those cases have credible, intellectually-honest cases based on Scripture for both sides.

    I am not aware of any intellectually-honest case that has ever been made for the normalization of homosex, even within a committed relationship. (As discussed previously, there is a real question as to whether the gay lobby will ultimately be satisfied with a monogamy restriction.) Even some of the strongest gay advocates admit this and just conclude that the Bible is wrong.

    So for the first time we have an issue that requires us to reject the Bible as authority. (Even the early Christians made their case to Jews by reference to scripture.) To me that means that those advocates have gone off in a new direction are following a new religion.