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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Know Your Sources

If you read UK John’s post on the recent Anglican events, you’d think there were two bad parties, both of which were chastised and told to repent, and only one obeyed. He quotes the Guardian:

“Both sides – the liberal Americans and the homophobic Africans – were asked to apologise. Everyone was asked to listen to the experience of gay people, so that we might learn and move forward together. In the meantime, there were to be no more gay bishops, and parishes or individuals who could not bear the liberal regime in their own area could apply to a new international commission for special anti-homosexual pastoral care.

America complied, apologising for the hurt that it might have caused to others by its actions. It agreed that for now there would be no new bishops at all, gay or otherwise. The Africans issued no apology, denounced all gays and liberals once again, and crowed at their success in establishing the commission.”

Here is the actual text of the commission to the ECUSA:

Mindful of the hurt and offence that have resulted from recent events, and yet also of the imperatives of communion - the repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ - we have debated long and hard how all sides may be brought together. We recommend that:
• the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire, and for the consequences which followed, and that such an expression of regret would represent the desire of the Episcopal Church (USA) to remain within the Communion
• pending such expression of regret, those who took part as consecrators of Gene Robinson should be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion. We urge this in order to create the space necessary to enable the healing of the Communion. We advise that in the formation of their consciences, those involved consider the common good of the Anglican Communion, and seek advice through their primate and the Archbishop of Canterbury. We urge all members of the Communion to accord appropriate respect to such conscientious decisions
• the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges.
We particularly request a contribution from the Episcopal Church (USA) which explains, from within the sources of authority that we as Anglicans have received in scripture, the apostolic tradition and reasoned reflection, how a person living in a same gender union may be considered eligible to lead the flock of Christ. As we see it, such a reasoned response, following up the work of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA), and taken with recent work undertaken by the Church of England[94] and other provinces of the Communion, will have an important contribution to make to the ongoing discussion.

The fact is, the Africans were not asked to issue an apology for their “homophobia”, thus no apology was given. Furhtermore, the ECUSA did not issue any justification for ordination of homosexuals. The new head of the ECUSA was able to get the apology passed by telling her bishops that the compliance wouldn’t really mean anything:

Jefferts Schori later came speak to the deputies. "I am fully committed to the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in this church," she said. "I certainly don't understand adopting this resolution as slamming the door. I think if you do pass this resolution you have to be willing to keep working with all your might at finding a common mind in this church. I don't find this an easy thing to say to you, but I think that is the best we are going to manage at this point in our church's history."

The Archbishop of Canturbury saw the falsity of the ECUSA’s compliance statement, that it was not what was requested, and initially responded:

“It is not yet clear how far the resolutions passed this week and today represent the adoption by the Episcopal Church of all the proposals set out in the Windsor Report. The wider Communion will therefore need to reflect carefully on the significance of what has been decided before we respond more fully.”

And the “homophobic Africans?” I missed any crowing about anything.

“The Primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), meeting in Kampala on June 21-22, issued "An Open Letter to the Episcopal Church USA" on June 23. The letter, signed by Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, says, in part, that the Primates are "saddened that the reports to date of your elections and actions suggest that you are unable to embrace the essential recommendations of the Windsor Report and the 2005 Primates Communiqué necessary for the healing of our divisions. At the same time, we welcome the various expressions of affection for the life and work of the Anglican Communion."

Perhaps the Guardian’s leftist ideology keeps it from reporting responsibly. Both the Times of London and the Telegraph put the facts straight. While the Guardian piece was an opinion piece, one need not lie to give their dissenting opinion about a person or group!


  • Hammer,
    First, I need to make clear that the quotation with which you start your post isn't mine - it's what I was quoting from the Guardian.

    Second, you've cherry picked the Windsor Report. There were equally strong recommendations that all bishops respect the traditional boundaries and not steal parishes from other areas. This is a core part of Anglican identity - that churches and diocese are strictly geographical rather than ideological. And this part the "Global South" apparently felt free totally to ignore. Before Windor and after, various bishops took conservative parishes from ECUSA away from their rightful bishops. This practice shows no respect at all for our brothers and sisters in the USA.

    More than that, for many years now the Anglican churches have been committed to a "listening process", in which they pledged to converse with their gay members, to hear what they were saying. The Windsor Report reiterated this commitment. And the African response was promptly to endorse legislation to make it illegal to talk about homosexuality. Hardly a "listening process", is it?

    The Guardian's piece put it strongly, but it was (as you said) an opinion piece. It didn't say anything false, which is the impression you give here.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 6/28/2006 01:56:00 PM  

  • John,
    Sorry if I made the quotation appear to be yours - I did point out it was a quote from the Guardian.

    I have to admit I cherry picked the Windsor Report - but only in that I lifted the only things that supported the Guardian's assertions. Their insinuation that the African bishops were to "apologize for their homophobia" is a lie. I read through the whole report, including the portion about interference.

    The African response, as I posted, was also to listen and affirm that they "welcome the various expressions of affection for the life and work of the Anglican Communion".

    As far as the legislation against talking about homosexuality, the African bishops as a whole did no such thing. One bishop supports a bill against homosexuality in his country, as best as I read it. Please provide a link to the legislation source document if I am mistaken.

    No bishop "took conservative parishes away." Those parishes LEFT their bishops, asking for a bishop who believed with them. This is similar to what the Windsor report is allowing - that dissenting dioceses can appeal to an international oversight. Without this type of option, the churches will leave the Communion altogether. Is that what you prefer? I would not serve under a heretic, either.

    I still contend that the Guardian was distorting facts to make its position look stornger than it is. The ECUSA has run amok, and has no honest desire to remain within the communion. They are establishing their own god and religion, and others will go with them. It is sad, really.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 6/28/2006 04:40:00 PM  

  • Hammer,
    As we've both said, the Guardian piece was Opinion, not reportage. As such, bias is to be expected - they're intended to put forward strong opinions in order to start discussion. I guess this one's a success :-)

    It's not good enough, though, to say that "one bishop" supports the radical anti-gay legislation, because that "one bishop" is the Primate of Nigeria and one of the loudest voices demanding the expulsion of anyone who disagrees with him.

    Finally, the thing about parishes in the Episcopal Church (and other Anglican Churches) is that they can't "leave". The parish is governed by the Bishop of the area. The people could leave, but the parish, its church and the job occupied by the priest are in the care of the Bishop. This is the nature of "Episcopal"! It doesn't even matter whether the parishes left willingly. The mere action of taking them under a foreign wing breaks the Windsor Reports recommendations in this matter because it's interference regardless of whether the parish was willing. (And no one is suggesting that somehow unwilling parishes were stolen away!)

    It's grossly unfair to say that ECUSA has "run amok", or that it "has no honest desire to remain within the communion". Almost all reports from the Convention indicate that the vast majority of delegates tried extremely hard to satisfy the Windsor recommendations - but that they were also unwilling to sacrifice everything that they believe God to be saying in the process. (Indeed, some of the most shameful actions at the Convention appear to have come from conservative bishops, voting for Katharine Schori precisely to cause schism.) It's also grossly untrue and unfair to suggest that they are setting up their own god and religion. You don't share their opinions, but that's not the touchstone of Christian faith.

    Sorry if I'm coming across as angry here, but I am a bit. I don't like to see Christians declaring each other to be damned.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 6/28/2006 06:15:00 PM  

  • With the recent goings on in the Protestant community, it makes me even happier to be a follower of Jesus, and not of religion.

    While I am a strong believer that if one is reborn in the blood of Christ, he or she will be in heaven regardless of denomination or lack thereof, it is the biggest and most "religious" churches and denominations that are constantly up in arms with one another over a fight to to reinvent themselves as a more open minded (see for the slogan of the Methodist church) and more socially acceptable.

    I find this particular divide within denominations completely unacceptable, as it has been the cause of a doctrinal divide that has weakened the mission of the Body of Christ.

    No matter what the denomination, the responsibility lies to speak, teach and represent Biblical truth. I second Hammer in his statement that the ECUSA is attempting to invent their own God and religion. As with anything else, when the desires of man can't coincide with a following of Jesus-one must make a choice. Follow Jesus, or fudge it to make it more acceptable. It is clear that many of the religous sects and denomination of Christianity are doing just that.

    Unfortunately, because they are all "Christian" groups, the laughing stock is on all of us.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 6/28/2006 07:56:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker,
    I don't think you're being consistent. You bemoan the splitting of denominations, and yet say that one can be a Christian as an isolated individual - the ultimate schism. I'd be interested in how you reconcile the two, without reducing Christianity to Gnosticism (relying on correct knowledge of God for salvation).

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 6/29/2006 03:25:00 AM  

  • Hammer,
    For reference, the language in Windsor about "offshore" bishops is as follows:

    We call upon those bishops who believe it is their conscientious duty to intervene in provinces, dioceses and parishes other than their own:
    * to express regret for the consequences of their actions
    * to affirm their desire to remain in the Communion, and
    * to effect a moratorium on any further interventions.
    We also call upon these archbishops and bishops to seek an accommodation with the bishops of the dioceses whose parishes they have taken into their own care.

    None of these recommendations have been followed, barely even the "desire to remain in the Communion". Too often, this has been expressed as "we are the Communion and anyone who disagrees with us is damned".

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 6/29/2006 03:32:00 AM  

  • Where did I say one can be a Christian as an isolated individual? Wow, that is a big leap from what I actually said.

    What I was talking about is not being interested in being a part of large denominations that are involved in moving from biblical truths towards secularlism, and denominations that focus on religious activities.

    I am very much part of the Body of Christ, and I am very much a part of a church. I am somewhat put-off by your assertion otherwise. What I find beauty in, is attending a church where things are non-ornate, non-religious, and very, very black and white. Preaching the Bible, fellowship with like-minded believers, and following the only two religious activities commanded in the Bible, (the way I see and many others see it) communion and baptism, leaves little to fight about. One either follows the teachings of Christ, worships fully and inspirationally, or one finds another church.

    I am fully aware of what Gnosticism mean, and I resent that assertion, as well. So, if one doesn't belong to a large, wealthy, often arguing over biblical reality religious organization, one isn't a Christian? I'm sure all of the Jesus freaks here in the U.S. who attend good old fashioned Bible Churches, Calvary Chapels, etc., would be really shocked to hear that!

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 6/29/2006 10:52:00 AM  

  • Additionally, I thought I was clear in my first comment on this subject, that I am not opposed to denominations-saved is saved. I am merely opposed to the doctrinal divide that is often present within religion and denominations.

    Worship and biblical instruction at church is supposed to be a personal and inspirational relationship with Christ. If that is done in a Methodist, Catholic, Episcoplian, Lutheran, or a non-denominational Bible church, then Amen! I was merely commenting on doctrinal divide.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 6/29/2006 10:58:00 AM  

  • John,
    I was unaware of anyone voting for Schori to cause schism. Honestly, I must say that for anyone who is in the ECUSA to break because Schori was elected is sexist. Well, unless it's over her theology! I say that because bishops are in the ECUSA, which holds the specifically unbiblical position that women can be priests. If she is capable of being a priest, she is capable of being a bishop (using her sex as the only qualifier). If they didn't break over Vicki Gene Robinson, and they didn't break back when women were permitted into the priesthood, her election doesn't give them a reason.

    I continue to be confused about the polity of the Episcopal Church! So a church body has no choice but remain under someone they consider a heretic? How curious. That seems guaranteed to force more losses of membership in the ECUSA, if enforced. I think this has given me an idea for a post on law and authority...

    John, I know you don't agree with me, but a "church" who assigns to a significant leadership post a man who left his wife and family for a homosexual relationship breaks several Biblical precepts. I can't consider the larger ECUSA organization a church. I understand they aren't looking for my approval - but they should seek the approval of the one who has written that we must "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." 2 Tim 4:2-4

    My last word on the Africans and the article, though you may, of course, have THE last word: Why is it not good enough to say that only one bishop is engaged those activities? It happens to be the truth. Furhtermore, it is the Guardian's implication that the Africans had to "apologize" for their "homophobia", which is decidedly untrue. Clearly, as you have shown me, they broke the rules and the upcoming schism in the Communion will likely be the ultimate end to that interference.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 6/29/2006 11:03:00 AM  

  • RightThinker,
    Actually, after spending some time looking into the Calvary Chapels, I'd call them a denomination. It's rare to find a denomination that defines itself based upon eschatology (usually it's cults that do that), but that seems to be the unifying denominational trait in this case.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 6/29/2006 11:06:00 AM  

  • Hammer,

    Having attended Calvary Chapels much of my life, I have never been taught anything regarding eschatology. Which Calvary Chapel have you heard teaching eshcatology? I attended the Costa Mesa church with Chuck Smith as the Pastor, and Greg Laurie's church as well as a few others.

    In fact, out of the churches I have attended, Calvary's have maintained very true to scripture. Chuck Smith is considered one of the best biblical teachers in the world. We no longer attend a Calvary Chapel, (only because the calvary here is too large for our liking) but Bob Davis is the pastor and his radio sermons are quite good, and always biblical.

    I am curious to see the connection between Calvary Chapel and a cult. It is interesting to me that in a church where so many have been saved because of the black and white Bible teaching, and given their lives to following the Lord, the connection would be drawn to a cult.

    I am not defending Calvary Chapel, as I am unaware of each churches mission statement and philosophy. I am not responsible to them. All I understand is that I was always completely convicted and moved to have been a part of a church that taught the truth and worked to compel many seek Jesus.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 6/29/2006 11:35:00 AM  

  • Oh, I left out the part that I understand there is a large part of focus on end times. I understand that Calvary focus on a pre-trib rapture. However, this is most definitely not unique to Calvary Chapel. Many theologians work to convey their interpretation of the tribulation period and when rapture will occur. Is this the eschatology to which you refer?

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 6/29/2006 11:41:00 AM  

  • RT, you're acting like a liberal!

    Noting that cults are often defined by their eschatology in no way indicates that Calvary Chapels are a cult!

    If one goes to the CC website, they can see that Chuck Smith considers eschatology as a defining point of Calvary Chapels. In fact, he even chastises those pastors who don't agree with him and claims that success depends on accepting his eschatological view!

    I'm sure Chuck Smith is very good, but I'm not sure how one gets the moniker, "one of the best Bible teachers in the world." I've never heard of him, and I try to pay attention to those sorts of things!

    You've never heard a sermon about the end times? How strange...

    Finally, I do not allow you to "cop out" and say you are not responsible or don't know what your church/denomination's philosophy is. I find you too mature a Christian for that! You can be a part of a denomination or church with whom you disagree on subjects, but I don't think ignorance is something you, John, David, Robert, Mrs. Hammer and I can claim. Uncertainty about where we fall on the issue? That's a different story...unless you ask Chuck Smith!

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 6/29/2006 11:48:00 AM  

  • Whoops, we simul-posted!

    Yes, a pre-tribulation, pre-millenial eschatology is what I refer to. It is by no means un-Christian or unique. However, for a denomination to define itself by it is unusual. Many Christians agree with it - I do not - at least not today.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 6/29/2006 11:50:00 AM  

  • Holy Moses, Hammer! A liberal? Sheesh, you could have called me any four-letter word...but a liberal? ;)

    What I said is that I am not aware of what the Calvary Chapel philosophy is, because I don't attend the church. I can hardly be responsible to a church philosophy when I haven't attended a Calvary in several years. It is also important to note that out of the several Calvary Chapels I have attended, they vary in their style, but never in their focus on through-the-book bible teaching. I am sure this lends itself to variations on approaches.

    Additionally, since I haven't fully decided what I believe about pre-trib and post-trib rapture teachings, I am open to whatever is being taught while I learn! I am currently beginning Revelation in my church, and it will be interesting to hear what our pastor is teaching in that respect. Either way, I know what is asked of me no matter what time Jesus returns.

    I am surprised you haven't heard Chuck Smith. Perhaps he is more of a west-coast deal. Have you ever listened to Greg Laurie? I know they two of them were responsible for bringing the Word and teaching of Jesus' salvation to thousands, and thus making Christianity more approachable (not any less convicting or black and white, though!) for many who hadn't grown up in a prim and proper religious church.

    It was refreshing for many a hippie or loner in Southern California to hear that Jesus loves them as much as the suit in the Crystal Cathedral!

    I am not trying to cop-out. I merely am not currently involved with anything regarding Calvary. With that said, I must say that I have heard end times teachings from Calvary Chapel. However, with as much of "everything else" I had been taught besides eschatology, at Calvary Chapels, I would hardly say that end times is the complete focus, or that it defines what the church is.

    I understand Chuck Smith makes a distinction that it is an important philosophy, and since I don't disagree with the pre-trib teaching at this point, (I'm still learning!)I have no bone of contention with that.

    Out of the mass success of Calvary, (it is by all intents and purposes a church you go to to worship Jesus and learn-no frills) I find little to complain about, particularly in this age of churches completely abandoning Bible teaching and truth for understanding "open-mindedness" and homogeneous beliefs that are a melting pot of others'.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 6/29/2006 12:19:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker,
    Sorry for the mistake - I must have you confused with someone else! That'll teach me to rely on my memory for things people wrote in other threads...

    "What I find beauty in, is attending a church where things are non-ornate, non-religious, and very, very black and white."

    Fair enough. But please don't confuse personal taste with truth. Not one of the things you identify there is "correct". Indeed, I differ from you very significantly on two of the three - I often like ornate (both physically and liturgically) because I find it helps me to worship God, although I also find total silence immensely valuable. I also dislike (intensely) black-and-white teaching, because I find it to be often dishonest and almost always overly simplistic. Some things are yes/no questions, but most are not. However, I do agree that "religion" can be a Bad Thing!

    "Worship and biblical instruction at church is supposed to be a personal and inspirational relationship with Christ."

    Actually, that's not true. Or, at least, it's not complete. Worship at church is supposed to be corporate, not simply personal and individual. Similarly, biblical instruction isn't individual, either. It stands in community and in tradition.

    "following the only two religious activities commanded in the Bible, (the way I see and many others see it) communion and baptism, leaves little to fight about"

    Interesting. Does your church have ordained leadership? Or do you conduct marriages or funerals? These activities have been generally regarded as sacraments by the Church - although not by all, of course! My wife was brought up Quaker (English, not American, which is quite different), and they have no sacraments at all!

    "So, if one doesn't belong to a large, wealthy, often arguing over biblical reality religious organization, one isn't a Christian?"

    Absolutely not! But then, arguing over biblical reality is hardly the preserve of the "large, wealthy" churches!

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 6/29/2006 02:16:00 PM  

  • I think we are pretty much in agreement, John. I am not confusing personal taste with truth. That is why I don't discount the value of denominations and the love they all can demonstrate for the Lord.

    I understand why many people are interested in attending highly religious churches. At the same time, I have spoken to many "religious" people who are so incredibly tied to the religious activities of the church (and value their traditions) that they have no idea who Jesus is. Again, not a blanket statement, as I am sure there are as many false Christians in other types of churches.

    I do, however, somewhat disagree with your corporate worship comment. Perhaps this is again just a matter of preference, but I have felt the closest with Jesus in times of solitude, or praising Jesus in church where it seems the worship music is reaching me through despite the other people at church. "Where two or more are gathered in My name..." leads one to believe that church doesn't HAVE to be huge, fancy, ornate, or full of rituals. AGain, only preferential arguments, here.

    My preference originates from a belief that the more rituals or religious practices that are carried out as part of a church service, the more impersonal the service is at risk of becoming. This doesn't mean it isn't absolutely valid, and completely valuable to the congregation that prefers that approach-but likewise, many may have trouble personally knowing Jesus, if they cannot relate or adhere to rituals and religion.

    My church has a pastor and an assistant pastor, who is also the worship leader (music). Other than that, all of the body is called to serve if it is laid on their hearts.

    We have several elders, but they aren't formal and ordained anythings. They are simply men who give their time at studies and services to assist the body and act as "elders" for the body to look to for support and guidance.

    They are also responsible for making sure the service goes well and the visitors feel welcome.

    As far as sacraments are concerned, our pastor performs weddings and speaks at funerals, of course. Marriage is one of the most important covenents, and funerals are individual. These are not particularly ritualistic events, but rather spirit lead. Of course, marriage, weddings and counseling is based on Biblical instruction!

    Arguing over Biblical reality is something that only occurs when the leadership either leads in an anti-biblical fashion, or the congregation wishes to lead the pastor in another direction. How else could there be room for disagreement? The Bible is what it is.

    The congregation should follow the leadership of the church as the head of the "family". Problems arise when leadership takes an anti-biblical stance, or the congregation takes an anti-biblical stance. This is expected to cause upheavel whenever biblical truths aren't followed-no matter what part of life we are discussing!

    I am sure this can happen in just about any denomination or non-denominational church, since we are all humans and capable of mistake. However, the farther a group grows from the truth that is the Bible, the more room there is for loose interpretation and divide. We all know that pettiness can break up a small Bible church, and doctrinal disagreements can cause a schism in large denominations.

    We can agree to disagree on the black and white truth statement you made. You state that the Bible more often than not is not a black and white teaching, and I fully disagree.

    So, all in all John, it sounds like we are on the same page. Denominations with tradition and possibly ornateness and sacraments definitely are valuable, and so are non-denominatinal Bible churches that focus on a personal relationship with Christ and black and white Bible teaching.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 6/29/2006 03:17:00 PM  

  • Rightthinker,
    "I do, however, somewhat disagree with your corporate worship comment. Perhaps this is again just a matter of preference, but I have felt the closest with Jesus in times of solitude"

    I agree totally - I personally have felt closest to Jesus during times of solitude and quietness. However, that's not what "worship in church" is about. Worship isn't about me feeling close to God, it's about the Body offering praise, thanksgiving and so on to God. And the body can only do that corporately. There can be no "worship in church" if all we're after is the individual experience. The individual experience is important, even crucial, but it's not worship.

    "You state that the Bible more often than not is not a black and white teaching, and I fully disagree. "

    I clearly wasn't clear there! I didn't mean that the Bible "more often than not is not a black and white teaching". I meant that life isn't black and white. For example, the Bible doesn't tell me which political party I should vote for, nor which school I should send my children to, nor which shops I should patronise, nor which job I should take. These issues and those like them - the real issues - are never black and white, and certainly aren't amenable to simple "the Bible says" answers. Most of our lives are in the grey area, and we use the Bible to help us navigate them. But to do so we cannot treat it like a simple rulebook, for then we miss most of its wisdom.

    "Denominations with tradition and possibly ornateness and sacraments definitely are valuable, and so are non-denominatinal Bible churches"

    Indeed. Although there's no such thing as a church without a tradition, as you imply! We all stand in one tradition or another, and some are older than others. We must understand that if we are to relate properly to those of different traditions.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 6/29/2006 05:00:00 PM  

  • Hammer,
    I realised that the original discussion had got kind of lost! So...

    "I continue to be confused about the polity of the Episcopal Church! So a church body has no choice but remain under someone they consider a heretic? How curious."

    The thing is that priests promise obedience to the diocesan bishop under whom they serve. If they believe that bishop to be a heretic, they appeal to the wider church to have that bishop dealt with. The correct approach isn't to try and split off in a fit of pique.

    For an individual in the pew, they can simply choose to go elsewhere. The priest who has been given charge of that church, though, doesn't have that privilege - they cannot simply "take" the church away, because it's not theirs to take. It belongs to the Episcopal Church, and that authority and ownership are administered through the bishop. The priest can leave, but only as an individual. If the entire parish has a problem with the diocesan, there are established mechanisms for dealing with that, but they presume good faith and do not allow schism.

    "a "church" who assigns to a significant leadership post a man who left his wife and family for a homosexual relationship breaks several Biblical precepts."

    I can understand that. Indeed, I'm not at all sure that Gene Robinson was a good choice for bishop. But, then, it's not my call to make. The Episcopal Church is entitled to make its own choices, with their own consequences, just as your church and mine are so entitled. Making a mistake doesn't render them anti-Christian - any more than the failings of many, many evangelical leaders and preachers render the whole evanglical movement anti-Christian.

    "Why is it not good enough to say that only one bishop is engaged those activities? It happens to be the truth."

    It's true, but only partly true. A bishop, and especially an Archbishop, is not speaking only for himself but also for the church that he represents. So, when Akinola speaks, it is not simply as one man but as the head of the Church of Nigeria. In speaking and acting as he does, he sets the policy for his church. A bad, sinful, even evil policy in my opinion. He is in no position to criticise the leaders of another church, and yet arrogates to himself the position of "Guardian of Orthodoxy". The parable about specks and planks in eyes comes inevitable to my mind!

    "it is the Guardian's implication that the Africans had to "apologize" for their "homophobia", which is decidedly untrue"

    I'm not sure. The article stated that they had to apologise, but not what for. The placement of "homophobic" just before that statement may give the impression that it was homophobia for which they had to apologise, which would be wrong. However, they did have to apologise for stealing parishes, and have never done so. As far as apologies go, at least ECUSA issued one. (Actually, they've issued several over recent months.)

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 6/30/2006 06:04:00 AM  

  • Thanks for all the clarifications, John. As always, I enjoyed and benefited from the extended exchange.

    Also, I am in step with your position about worship. One of the dangers of the variety of wroship styles we have now is that people base their worship "success" upon how they feel. That is completely irrelevant!

    My church's worship music is 75% contemporary, 25% traditional hymns. One of the values of hymn singing is that you cannot get caught up in the rythym or musical tempo, etc. If you are moved, it is by the words. Furthermore, the voice of Millie or Ethel behind you would certainly distract from any emotional musical connection!

    Successful worship is defined by the Father, not by us. He inhabits the praises of his people, and we must seek his glory, not our emotional engagement.

    All that said, I do enjoy the contemporary praise and worship music as well. Indeed, I am often moved by the experience. I am simply more moved, with purpose, when I sing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" by myself!

    Sorry about the "liberal" use! I actually should have said, "someone with a graduate degree". If you listen to Dennis Prager at all, you'd know what I meant. If not, well, I know you're together anyway - I have high regard for you and your thoughts.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 6/30/2006 09:14:00 AM  

  • As much as I believe worship is intended to be just that-for the Father, there is more to it than that. Being moved is a beneficial experience. This legalistic approach, that says we must make sure we have no emotion when spending time giving worship to our Father is something I am unable to buy.

    Send me to a church where I am unispired and my worship to Him will be more superficial, less deep and more divided. Send me to a church where I can't wait to go back to give more time to Him, feel the presence, and leave wanting to be more like Him, and that is succesful.

    While a Christian walk needs to be intelligent, it should also be inspirational and part of it IS personal. My relationship with Christ has a personal element. If it didn't, I would be a member of religion where the activities of a church were valued beyond their underlying meaning.

    I don't subscribe to individualized church services, wherein the goal is to make the congregation feel better about themselves, much like a therapy session. So, don't confuse my sentiments. I do, however, believe that many can be reached differently, in a manner that speaks to their heart and be compelled to give more of their time to worship the Lord if the worship gives time for being Spirit lead.

    One of my favorite preachers of all time is Charles Stanley-so, it isn't as if I am looking for some kind of modern day pseudo-Christian church service!

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 6/30/2006 10:59:00 AM  

  • Rightthinker,
    "This legalistic approach, that says we must make sure we have no emotion when spending time giving worship to our Father is something I am unable to buy."

    But that's not what I'm saying at all. The point isn't that we shouldn't feel emotion when worshipping (that would be wrong, as you say) but that we shouldn't judge our worship's success or failure by our own emotional reaction to it. Indeed, worship that springs from determined decision, despite our feelings at the time, may be more valued by the Father than something that comes just because we happen to be feeling happy that day.

    Often, we will be emotionally moved by our worship, and this is a good thing. But it's not the important thing.

    "I do, however, believe that many can be reached differently, in a manner that speaks to their heart and be compelled to give more of their time to worship the Lord if the worship gives time for being Spirit lead."

    The point, though, is that something that aims to move the human being isn't worship - it's emotional manipulation (however well-intentioned and however beneficial the consequences). Worship isn't what we feel, it's something we do towards God. Just as, in private, a few minutes of prayer when we really don't feel like it may be worth more than an hour when we're "in the mood".

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 6/30/2006 11:25:00 AM  

  • I understand that worship is something we do towards God. I completely agree. Regardless of our feelings or emotions, giving time to God is a necessity.

    However, I believe it can be multi-faceted and a blessing to us, as well. If worship wasn't part of a blessing to us, that would be one thing, but the Bible does say that those who worship Him will be blessed. So, worship does hold a place for the worshipper, as well.

    So, that is why some choose to worship in a formal and more religious fashion, and others choose to worship in a more plain and less religious church.

    Good to discuss with you!

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 6/30/2006 12:33:00 PM  

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