Saturday, November 24, 2007

Seeking some perspective on Anglican divisions in the USA and beyond with respect to Sex and Truth

I invite my readers to read what follows calmly and slowly and to reflect upon it seriously before sending of a response. Thank you.

We begin with the self-proclaimed homosexual bishop of New Hampshire.

Let us consider this as a starter: If, when the protest about Gene Robinson’s consecration as bishop had begun, those doing the protesting (and claiming to be “orthodox”) had engaged in real self-examination, then perhaps the break-up of the Anglican Communion in the last four or five years would not have occurred—or at least have taken a less dramatic development. And there would have been much more truth, charity and desire for unity present today.

Sexual relations

What do I mean? That, had the “orthodox” adopted a full biblical and traditional doctrine of sexual relations rather than a restricted doctrine, then the judgment of the Lord would have come down upon many of us, not merely on active homosexual persons. And, that, had we allowed their/our own thumbs to point with the Word of God to ourselves, then we would have seen many others sins—sins which are not only the equivalent in terms of wickedness before God, but also, through their presence in The Episcopal Church over two decades or so, had actually paved the way for the homosexual aberrations of the 21st century {See for details my Episcopal Innovations, 1960-2004, from] .

Take the notorious trial of a decade or so ago in Wilmington, Delaware, of an assisting Bishop in Newark Diocese. He was charged by ten so-called “orthodox” bishops (led by Bishop Stanton of Dallas) of acting contrary to Canon Law by ordaining a man who was living in an active sexual relation with another man. I was present at the trial and sat by his third wife—for this bishop was a serial monogamist—and those around her were somewhat surprised that the ten bishops had turned a blind eye to the biblical teaching of one wife in one flesh union for life, and that they apparently only considered his ordaining of an active homosexual man as something to get concerned about. I recall one of the lawyers saying: “The ten bishops have abandoned the teaching of Jesus on divorce and remarriage, being in favor of what Jesus opposed, and so why cannot they see that this new reality of same-sex unions is also OK before God.” To reply to this was not easy. [To this day to my knowledge only one of the ten bishops has admitted he made a mistake in going after the wrong target in this immoral man.]

We all know that a very large percentage of clergy and people in the “orthodox” community of what is now called The Anglican Communion Network and the Common Cause are divorced and remarried; and while it may be possible to show that some of these, in particular some of the laity, are within biblical and patristic guidelines for approval for church offices after suitable penance, it is impossible on solid grounds to claim that divorced and remarried clergy should be active in pastoral ministry, for their lives deny their supposed vocation as the shepherds of Christ (see the Ordination Service for Priests in the BCP 1662, 1928 & 1962)!

But what has been done about this laxity in marriage discipline? Virtually nothing. And what has been done about the general acceptance of couples living together before marriage or instead of marriage, and being fully acceptable for church membership and offices? Nothing Then there is the whole question of the use of sex for pleasure and self-satisfaction and indulgence inside or outside marriage, making full use of artificial birth control to avoid any procreation—something with the marriage service in the 1979 prayer book of TEC can be seen to allow or even encourage..

So let us be honest. Homosexual genital relations are not the only sexual sins in the church today and to focus only on them, and to ignore the most serious overturning of marriage that has been and is occurring, is not to be either reasonable or fair. The new form of “Christian Marriage” offered and practiced in Anglican circles today tends to be very different from “Holy Matrimony” as it is in the classic Anglican tradition (see the Preface to the Service of Holy Matrimony in the BCP 1662 and Canada 1962).

The Church of God is called to teach a full doctrine of sexual purity and relations and to implement all of it!

But sexual relations are often the focal point of a general abandonment of truth with the acceptance of half-truth or even less, error.

Error in place of truth

This lack of concern for truth is manifested very clearly in many of the decisions of the General Conventions of The Episcopal Church decisions which often the “orthodox” run with. An obvious example is the clear and deliberate LIE adopted by the General Convention in 1976 & 1979 to call what was everywhere known as a book of varied services and varied doctrines by the ancient title of “The Book of Common Prayer,” and at the same time to dump in the archives the received and actual Book of Common Prayer (edition of 1928). One may reflect that had it not been a church engaging in lies but a corporation doing so, then lawyers would have been actively pressing that the new Prayer Book be given a title true to its content, not a title taken by an act of piracy, and the original title left for the original product!

The 1979 Prayer Book is truly in Anglican terms a “Book of Alternative/Varied Services” and deserved a title to convey this reality. That it has been called the BCP, that it has been accepted as a Formulary an Standard of doctrine {“the law of praying is the law of believing”}, and that the “orthodox” are as committed to it as are the so-called “revisionists” tells us much about where we the “orthodox” are. I have heard of no moves by the “orthodox” to demote this 1979 Book and give it a proper title, while also bringing back the authentic American edition of the real BCP, that of 1928. Both these acts are needed if there is to be TRUTH.

To make matters worse—and this is really tragic— some of the major supporters abroad of the “orthodox” in the U.S.A. also participate in this act of deceit and promulgating error, which they learned from the U.S.A, and may not seriously yet have thought about.

The 1979 Book as The BCP is used in its Spanish translation very widely—not wholly—in the dioceses of the Southern Cone and certainly by Buenos Aires, where Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables is based. So the errors of TEC guide the law of praying of dioceses in the Southern Cone!

Something like the 1979 Book—but without the Rite One type of services—is used in the West Indies and called “ The BCP”—and the Archbishop, Drexel Gomez, has been a major supporter of it. Again, the law of praying is a law that is much inferior to the classic BCP even though it claims to be the BCP!

Then to crown everything, Nigeria, which has been the most vocally critical of TEC via Peter Akinola, has a book like the 1979 which it also calls “The BCP” and it has imported this text into the USA for its CANA to exist alongside and compete with the 1979 text amongst the “orthodox”. So in the USA we now have two acts of piracy embedded in liturgy on offer to the “orthodox” and embraced by some of them as “truth.”

Let us be honest with ourselves and honest before God and the received Common Prayer Tradition of The Anglican Way—which is a precious tradition without which there would be no Anglican Way. If we do not appreciate the classic Prayer Book (The BCP) and the classic Ordination Services (The Ordinal) and want to throw them overboard, let us at least pay them some respect by not using the historic and classic title, The BCP, belonging to them, for our modern, temporary and mixed-value service books, which were in reality designed to dumb-down or change the classic doctrine and devotion of the classic BCP and Ordinal.

And let us in charity not forget the Rowan Williams calls the real BCP the BCP and the other alternative service book in England, Common Worship (previously ASB1980); Whatever his other errors he is truthful here, as are also the Canadians for whom their equivalent of 1979 is BAS or the Green Book!

Concluding thoughts

One can go on to list other examples of where the so-called “orthodox” are no different in reality from the so-called “revisionists” and thus we, the “orthodox,” need to be most careful both in judging others and in tearing apart the Anglican Communion, in order to present and defend our own “revisionist orthodoxy.” For what we espouse and commend is often far from the classic standards of the traditional Anglican Formularies and from the Word of God as that was received and taught by the Fathers.

It is not too late to begin to put things right…. November 10, 2007

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