So, Blogger took down all of its "old" blogs yesterday for "maintenance." Clearly, they were trying to strong-arm hold-outs such as myself into using their new Blogger software. No dice. I am far too lazy to make the switch and to start "tagging" posts. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Well, I said that I wanted to tackle the editorial in Monday's Post regarding the Virginia Episcopal schism. I'm not going to let technical difficulties get in the way of writing something that absolutely no one wants to read. So, here goes.
I made the stupid comment on Monday that the editorial made some valid points regarding the theological shift in the American Episcopal Church. I obviously didn't read the piece very closely, because this editorial is void of reason, common sense, and evidence. The editorial uses the same debate technique beloved by social conservatives everywhere: the building of straw men.
The core issue for us is theological: the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world. It is thus a matter of faithfulness to the lordship of Jesus, whom we worship and follow. The American Episcopal Church no longer believes the historic, orthodox Christian faith common to all believers. Some leaders expressly deny the central articles of the faith -- saying that traditional theism is "dead," the incarnation is "nonsense," the resurrection of Jesus is a fiction, the understanding of the cross is "a barbarous idea," the Bible is "pure propaganda" and so on. Others simply say the creed as poetry or with their fingers crossed.
Um, ok. Some people who call themselves Episcopalian may very believe that the resurrection is a fiction and that the Bible is pure propaganda. Of course, they wouldn't really be Episcopalians, would they? Despite the liberal tendencies of this denomination, the belief that Jesus, the Son of God, died for our sins is still a central aspect of the Church. To attribute the denial of these beliefs to "some leaders" is both irresponsible and ridiculous. If the authors are unable to identify the very people who are denying the central articles of Christian faith, perhaps they shouldn't be so rash as to leave the church altogether.
First, Episcopal revisionism abandons the fidelity of faith. The Hebrew scriptures link matters of truth to a relationship with God. They speak of apostasy as adultery -- a form of betrayal as treacherous as a husband cheating on his wife.
Ok. Again, I don't think Episcopal leaders are denying Christian faith. Our leaders aren't modern day Simon Peters; denying a relationship with Christ three times before the rooster crows.
Second, Episcopal revisionism negates the authority of faith. The "sola scriptura" ("by the scriptures alone") doctrine of the Reformation church has been abandoned for the "sola cultura" (by the culture alone) way of the modern church. No longer under authority, the Episcopal Church today is either its own authority or finds its authority in the shifting winds of intellectual and social fashion -- which is to say it has no authority.
Yes, Scripture is pretty unambiguous when it comes to the acceptance of homosexuality in culture. So what? I find it absolutely ludicrous that the Episcopal Church can be accused of ignoring Scripture in favor of contemporary culture when every Christian in America, even the born-again ones, do the same thing. I'm willing to bet that there are all sorts of things mentioned as sins in Leviticus that are accepted by the authors of this editorial. For all I know, the authors celebrated this editorial with a big heaping pile of shellfish. That's a Leviticus no-no. Perhaps the authors had sex with their wives when they were on the rag. That's another no-no. I'm also guessing that they've never sold an adulteress into slavery. The picking and choosing of Scripture to obey has been going for about forever. There's no need to freak out because one "sin" becoming more acceptable is particularly icky to straight men.
Third, Episcopal revisionism severs the continuity of faith. Cutting itself off from the universal faith that spans the centuries and the continents, it becomes culturally captive to one culture and one time. While professing tolerance and inclusiveness, certain Episcopal attitudes toward fellow believers around the world, who make up a majority of the Anglican family, have been arrogant and even racist.
I was taught in fifth grade that starting paragraphs with "first," "second," and so on was considered poor writing.
Also, WHAT THE FUCK. This paragraph is shit-house crazy. How the fuck are Episcopalians racist? Explain yourself!
Fourth, Episcopal revisionism destroys...
Wait! No! You're not going to accuse the Episcopal Church of racism and then drop it without a shred of evidence, are you!? Wow. Not even an anecdote? Something!? Ugh. Fine. Keep going. Assholes.
Fourth, Episcopal revisionism destroys the credibility of faith. There is so little that is distinctively Christian left in the theology of some Episcopal leaders, such as the former bishop of Newark, that a skeptic can say, as Oscar Wilde said to a cleric of his time, "I not only follow you, I precede you." It is no accident that orthodox churches are growing and that almost all the great converts to the Christian faith in the past century, such as G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis, have been attracted to full-blooded orthodoxy, not to revisionism. The prospect for the Episcopal Church, already evident in many dioceses, is inevitable withering and decline.
The irony of Virginia Episcopalians quoting noted homosexual Oscar Wilde is duly noted. Also, "the former bishop of Newark" is as close to anything remotely resembling evidence in this editorial.
Fifth, Episcopal revisionism obliterates the very identity of faith. When the great truths of the Bible and the creeds are abandoned and there is no limit to what can be believed in their place, then the point is reached when there is little identifiably Christian in Episcopal revisionism. Would that Episcopal leaders showed the same zeal for their faith that they do for their property. If the present decline continues, all that will remain of a once strong church will be empty buildings, kept going by the finances, though not the faith, of the fathers.
Again, I must accuse the authors of over-inflating the specter of "Episcopal revisionism." Episcopalians recite the Nicene Creed and the Lord's Prayer without any reservations or crossed fingers. I honestly think the authors have confused the Episcopal Church with Unitarian Universalism which is more political movement than religion and whose members can believe whatever the Hell they want.*
I'm sorry, but I don't buy what they're selling. Their claims that their schism is less about homosexual bishops and more about theology is weakened by the fact that they chose someone who advocates the incarceration of gays as their new fearless leader. And the claims that Episcopalians are no longer Christian are totally unfounded. The same pillars of faith exist in the Church. If you're unfamiliar with it, I urge you to click on that link to the Nicene Creed. It's a straight forward declaration of Episcopal faith. This declaration in undeniably Christian and leaves little room for ambiguity.
The authors have reinvented the American Episcopal Church as a secular, racist organization. They've built their straw man without any need for evidence. They should be ashamed of themselves.
*I am being glib about Unitarian Universalism, so I should note that I have no problem with it. Any belief system that urges its members to become better, more accepting people is alright by me. It's just not a religion is all.