Marching to the Promised Land, halted in the Wilderness, or heading into the Abyss.
1. The progressive Liberals who effectively guide and run the Episcopal Church believe that God has given them a vision and with it a vocation. They are called to be prophets to call this and all the main-line Churches to a vigorous commitment to being communities of inclusivity, wherein there is love, peace and justice. As such they are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Justice for women, for ethnic and racial minorities, for people whose “orientation” is “Gay, Bisexual or Lesbian” is well on the way to being realized in the ECUSA, they believe. God is giving signs of the success all the time, most recently in the consecration of Gene Robinson. Yet there is much to do since each generation has to be educated in the vocation of progressive liberalism and the mantle of the prophet(ess) handed on to it. To turn back, to begin a U-turn, would be to betray the Spirit and all that She has taught and continues to reveal to this Church.
2. The small group of Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics of the Network and the AAC certainly oppose the more daring parts of the prophetic vocation of the progressive Liberals (whom they call “revisionists”) and they have major allies abroad who agree with them; but most of them share the earlier parts of this vocation. The presence of women with dog-collars, the relatively high number of re-married clergy and laity in their leadership and ranks, and the way they worship and what they use, all reveal most clearly their commitment to the innovations of the ECUSA between 1970 and 1980. They appear committed to the revised Canon on Marriage of 1973, the ordination of women of 1976, and the removal of the classic Anglican Formularies in 1979 (through the adoption of a wholly new kind of prayer book, ordination services and statement of Faith). However, unlike the progressive Liberals who are happy to attribute their prophetic vision to God speaking to them through contemporary experience and movements (e.g., human rights), the Evangelicals tend to look for biblical texts, or new forms of biblical interpretation to justify, their acceptance of these innovations. (In contrast they use old forms of biblical interpretation to attack the LesBiGay agenda!)
So for the progressive Liberals like Bishop Griswold the ECUSA is moving, howbeit slowly, towards the promised land, while for the Network it is stuck in the wilderness, waiting for the LesBiGay agenda to be dropped – hopefully at the General Convention, June 2006, or if not later – before there can be movement forward following the Shekinah.
Yet for a minority, an exceedingly small minority of traditional Episcopalians, the Episcopal Church is heading straight into full-blown apostasy, into the abyss. In their estimation it has systematically, even joyfully, set aside revealed divine order for marriage, for the family, for divine worship and for the Ministry and introduced dis-order at all levels of its life and witness. The blessing of same-sex-unions and ordaining people in such arrangements is but the most recent of a long series of innovation and setting aside of God’s will for his creation and his Church. This minority stays around because they believe it is their humble vocation to witness to and feel God’s judgment, to praise him for it, and to share its pain and weight with fellow Episcopalians in all humility and grace. They believe that God may choose in his covenant mercy to bring this Church or a remnant thereof back from the Abyss, out of Exile, to the promised land.
firstname.lastname@example.org January 7, 2006