Sunday, November 20, 2005

Are we as “orthodox” Episcopalians complicit in the errors of the “revisionists”?

(This is my last discussion starter until after Thanksgiving! Thanks for your patience. I appreciate your visits to the Blog at the PBS website and your comments sent to me by e mail; from December lst it is possible that there will be in place an opportunity for comments from you to be placed on the Blog at the website at
A thoughtful person who cares for the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Way wrote to me yesterday (Nov 19) and stated:

I do think several of the pieces you've sent out in recent days are right on the mark -- and I imagine have infuriated some on the "orthodox" side.

We are so much happier when we are blaming all our ills on the Griswolds, Spongs and Robinsons of the world; we are filled with righteous indignation when someone suggests that we ourselves are complicit in the same errors and heresies that afflict them.
This person summarized succinctly what a reasonably large number of people, from bishops to vestry members, has written to tell me over the last week since I wrote my first evaluation of the American Anglican scene, after returning from the “Hope and a Future Conference, Nov 10-12” in Pittsburgh.

Looking back, I think that the highlights of the Conference for me were the exhortations by the two African Archbishops and the talk by the famous Rick Warren. On a personal note, I did not realize that Rick Warren knew me; but he took the time after the Conference to write to me and thank me for various books of mine he had read and to state he missed seeing me. I felt obliged to explain to him in a kindly manner that I am on a slightly (!) different wavelength to the leaders of The Network, in that I think that they are not acting sufficiently decisively in reforming worship, doctrine or discipline and are too wedded to the 1979 prayer book as their Formulary, when it is such a deeply flawed book, and certainly not worthy of the adjective “orthodox.”

What strikes me, sometimes quite forcibly, is that all of us who are directly or indirectly connected to the Episcopal Church, whether we regard ourselves as orthodox, conservative, traditional or whatever else, actually share in its apostate spirit and condition. At one level, this is so simply by belonging as clergy and laity, by using its Liturgy (as, to my horror and surprise, did the Conference including the REC, APA etc!) and sharing in its various agencies and provisions. Thus we need to cover ourselves, as it were, figuratively but spiritually in sackcloth and ashes regularly in penitence. And until there is a new Province based on impeccable worship, doctrine and discipline this penitence will need to continue – unless, miracle of miracle, there is a massive change and amazing U-turn in the ECUSA.

And we need to be penitent not only because of this general inescapable sharing in the corporate reality that is the ECUSA Province, but also, as I have pointed out on many occasions, because we actually share in and strengthen some of its innovations on a daily basis. Amazing but true! These are just as serious, if not more so, than the innovations with regard to homosexuality. I have pointed out many times what these are – e.g., the falsehood before God and man in the statement that the 1979 prayer Book is truly an edition of the real and true Book of Common Prayer of the Anglican tradition and way; the actual rejection of the historic Anglican Formularies which came with the adoption of the 1979 book; the consecration of women as bishops; the lack of any discipline with regard to the remarriage of divorcees in church; the mandating of women’s ordination as an article of faith for officers; and so on. The blessing of same-sex couples is merely one in a long line of innovations, and though very serious, is nothing like as serious as compared with the rejection of the historic Anglican Formularies by the General Convention of 1976/79.

It is easy for any of us to attack “the revisionists” and their notorious bishops who have inspired the moves into one innovation after another. Such activity may enable us to pretend and fool ourselves that we are “the orthodox” who both believe and practice what is right before God in obedience to Jesus Christ as Lord. However, the truth is that we are miserable sinners to whom much light has been given but in whom our wills are apparently in bondage to the Episcopal ethos and innovations [sin?] and thus are not yet truly free to reject them and seek to love and serve God with joy in a “purpose-driven life” and in a “purpose-driven church [new province]” – to quote Rick Warren – to the greater glory of God and the edification of the Church and the increase of the kingdom of God on earth.

Thank God meanwhile that we can take holy refuge within “the communion of saints” and the “Church invisible” of the total elect of God from all space and time! November 20, 2005

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