Before the Episcopal News Service began its planned press conference on July 30, Bishop Peter Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield, became involved in dialogue with the waiting journalists- and much to their pleasure!.
Here is one thing that he said, probably to the astonishment of some loyal, modern Episcopalians who were present to support the USA cause:
“It’s not just that we’re not on the same page; We are not in the same book; We are in different libraries. I am dealing with inter-faith relations within The Episcopal Church."
Recall that this is a diocesan bishop of TEC speaking about the Bishops of the TEC (the 'we' includes them all and he is one of them--and in the room are others waiting to take part in the press briefing).. Using the picture of reading from a book, Beckwith not only uses this illustration in a clear and common form ( to make the point that 'we are not reading from the same page'); but he much strengthens the point or distinction between reading from different texts by saying that 'we are actually reading from different pages in different books.' And he crowns it all by saying that the reading of very different texts is occurring in two different locations/libraries.
In other words, there are two basic sources of authority in The Episcopal Church -- (a) the received Holy Scriptures received and interpreted as the Word of God given to the Church for the salvation of the world; and (b) the Book of Experience, the receiving of the message that God is giving to the Church from the variety of Experience known in all forms of human endeavor, personal, scientific, economic, political, social, psychological etc.. Beckwith tells them that he looks to the first and finds himself very much in a minority in TEC, for the majority look to Experience as the source of revelation, and even see the Bible as itself the record of primitive Experience from centuries ago. and thus not as authoritative as what God is revealing Now!
So it is not surprising that Beckwith sees his position in TEC and in the College of Bishops of TEC as being involved not in Christian fellowship but rather in inter-religious dialogue or inter-religious/inter-faith activities. Between the historic, received Religion of TEC (that is received from the PECUSA and the Anglican Family) and the innovatory, present Religion of TEC (based on the Baptismal Covenant as a commitment to the God known via Experience of the world around us) there is a great divide! Different answers arise when such basic questions are asked as: Who is God? Who is Jesus? and What is salvation? Different forms of morality arise when such basic questions as: What is the right relation of a man and woman in creation? and Who may be married in church?
BUT WHY IS IT that so many bishops, clergy and laity outside the USA - e.g. many at Lambeth 08-- do not see that what is fuelling the new sexual ethics and agenda of TEC is a new Religion, a wholly revised form of Christian Worship, Doctrine, Polity, Discipline and Ethics?.
Why is it that those who espouse and propagate this new Religion are welcomed at Lambeth as if they were Bishops holding to the 'faith once delivered to the saints'?
Though this new 'Faith' may use traditional terms, symbols and ceremonial, it has in reality only the most minimal connection with the classical Anglican Faith known in the USA from the seventeenth century onwards, the Reformed Catholic Religion found in the Formularies and best writings of the divines of The Protestant Episcopal Church USA from the 1780s through to the 1960s.
July 31 2008 Trinity X The Revd Dr Peter Toon