Friday, December 31, 2004

Looking back on my 2004

New Years just don’t excite me like they used to. 2000 was the last New Year I can remember being excited about. It’s kind of like birthdays – once you reach a certain age, you wish they’d stop coming so fast.

But one big thing nice about this New Year, and about most of my recent New Years for that matter, is I can look back and say . . . it’s been a good year.

I don’t take that for granted. There was a stretch of years in my 20’s and early 30’s where it felt like running in place. And I’d look back at the end of each year – and felt like it was wasted, lost.

But 2004 has been an exceptional year for me. New Year’s Eve 2003 wasn’t the best, stuck in a depressing hotel room on the Northern California coast. The cable only had HBO (And I couldn’t watch that because Sex in the City :vomit: was on.) , so I couldn’t even watch the New Year come in. I was on the tail end of my God Knows Book and Skate Tour. But New Years Day was fun, driving through a winter storm and seeing the San Francisco Bay rock, then stopping at a favorite hotel in Indio and having a nice swim there. The next day I enjoyed skating my favorite Phoenix skate parks.

And 2004 got even better from there. My garage/apartment in Corpus was built and turned out great. I soon felt at home there. A big reason: more quickly than I expected I found an even better church than I expected. There I was confirmed into the Reformed Episcopal Church, a very special day for me.

Back in Denton, my transition out of Denton Bible Church was amicable and smooth. Early readers of this blog know the transitions out of my previous two churches were trying. So ending well at Denton Bible was nice. (I still attend there some.) Also, my skate ministry at a local church skate park went well and ended well. Man, those were good times.

Even my chess has gone well. Why, yesterday, I even beat an International Master in a simul. And my rating went up from 881 to 1453. (Chess freaks can tell you what all that means, heh.)

There’s been other highlights scattered through the year. Like some of the excellent shows I went to, such as Comrade, Ester Drang, and, of course, the King College Choir.

Oh yeah, back in February, floundering in my writing, I began this blog.

I think I grew spiritually as well. Anglican forms of worship and spiritual discipline have been good for me.

2004 has been good for me, thanks be to God!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Churchly Quality Control XII: Liberal Church Leaders

The venerable Os Guiness has written a perceptive piece on the seriousness of the current state of the U. S. Episcopal Church. Towards the beginning of it, he wonderfully sums up the absurdity of liberal pseudo-Christians being in church leadership:

…What would we think of a nation that installed a pothead as its drug czar? Or an Alcoholics Anonymous chapter that appointed an unreformed boozer to lead its meetings? Or an army that was led by a convinced pacifist as its general? Yet a routine spectacle of our age is the agile contortions of religious leaders openly denying what their faiths once believed, celebrating what their faiths once castigated, and advancing views once closer to their foes than their founders—and still staying on as leaders of those faiths, as if it were all in a day’s work.

It’s not only absurd, it’s an outrage. If a priest or bishop can no longer uphold the faith, then he should do the honorable thing and step aside. If he won’t do the honorable thing, he should be fired. (No, I don’t mean burnt at the stake although the idea is tempting….)

Again, you don’t tolerate liberals or other apostates and heretics in leadership. You love them. You correct them as best you can. But you don’t let them lead in the church.

That churches in the past didn’t have the guts and sanity to cast out such from leadership is a big reason we Anglicans, among others, are in the mess we are in today.

This is a sore subject for me, in case you haven’t noticed. I became a Christian in a conservative church in a mainline denomination (Presbyterian). And almost from the beginning, I was struck by the obscene absurdity of pseudo-Christians leading in the church. Why would anyone want to do such a thing? Heck, until shortly before I came to faith, I had no interest in even attending church, much less leading one. And why would a church want to put up with it?

It’s indeed just as absurd and self-destructive as Guiness describes it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Earthquake/Tsunami Disaster

As I’m sure many of you are, I’m becoming more overwhelmed by the day by the scope of loss suffered around the Indian Ocean in the wake of the terrible earthquakes and tsunamis. The death toll is now approaching 80,000 and is expected to surpass 100,000. Many more are without food or even drinkable water. My prayers go out to the thousands upon thousands who are suffering greatly from this disaster.

I’ve made a donation to World Relief. I encourage you also to give to trustworthy relief agencies.

(I would advise avoiding gifts to UN agencies or to organizations that work mainly through governments. Donations to such agencies typically go through a lot of greedy, sticky fingers before they reach those in need.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I’ve started a review list at Amazon.

It’s not a big list, but I will add to it. It will focus on books, cds, and dvds of interest to Anglicans. But it will not be exclusively Anglican.

I’ve started it in response to requests for help in searching out good Anglican resources. So anyway, here’s the link.

How do you all like the name I gave the list? ;^)

I also plan to do more reviews as I devour more Anglican works. I’ll post them here and at Amazon. My reviews here will probably be a bit fuller and more personal.

Monday, December 27, 2004

The Stripping of the Altars

Shortly before Christmas, I finally finished reading The Stripping of the Altars by Eamon Duffy.

As you can probably tell already, I have mixed feelings about the book. There’s no question it’s painstakingly well researched. But I wish more effort would have gone into editing. Frankly, I spent too much time wading through wills and untranslated pre-Elizabethan English. This is a 600 page book that could have been a more readable 450 page book. Much of what Duffy included in the body of his book should have been put in an appendix instead.

Also, I wonder if Duffy had an axe to grind. His book clearly has an anti-Protestant slant to it. Now I don’t have the academic background to make a judgement on how fair he is. And there’s no question both Protestants and Catholics often conducted themselves poorly in 16th century England.

The book does give an excellent and detailed picture of what pre-Reformation English religion was like. That was probably the biggest benefit to me.

Reading The Stripping of the Altars confirms to me my current preference to be somewhere in between Catholicism and Protestantism. Seeing what English Medieval religion was like confirms that a reformation was needed. But excesses such as wanton iconoclasm also confirm that aspects of the Reformation went too far.

I would suggest English Reformations by Christopher Haigh as a more readable, more balanced overview of the same years Duffy looks at. But if you want to learn about pre-Reformation English religion or if the only English histories you’ve read make it sound like Jolly Old England merrily cast off popery, then Duffy is well worth the time.

And reading Stripping of the Altars will take time. If you skim through the wills and the unreadable Medieval English and such, I won’t tell anyone.

(And thanks again to the good professor for the copy!)

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Early this morning I decided to write a collect for this special day:

O Author of all peace, we humbly and heartily thank you for sending Your Son, the Prince of Peace, into our world, even into our lives. By Your very present Spirit of grace, may we worthily glorify Him this day and always, who reigns forever and ever. Amen.

And may His wondrous peace be fully yours this Christmas and always.

(By the way, I’m not there, but Corpus Christi, Texas is having a white Christmas. I am not kidding.)

Friday, December 24, 2004

”Wow!” (Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols)

I listened to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols live this morning from the BBC. It was quite overwhelming at times. And I did get a bit emotional.

This year’s new carol, Starry night o'er Bethlehem, was really impressive and surprisingly Christmasy. Last year’s new carol was interesting, but a bit modern and jarring.

You can hear again to your heart’s delight it appears. Here’s the link.

For Christmas Eve meditation, I recommend Psalm 85, which is appointed in the 1928 BCP for Evening Prayer, and this excellent thought from St. Augustine and the Pontificator.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Christmas and Church

O. K. I’m on top of things, thanks be to God, so now I can post.

I have mixed feelings about this Christmas. I’m really looking forward to spending time with family. And I’ve been in a Christmasy mood for a while now. But I’m about the only Christian in my family. So if I go to church for Christmas, it will likely be alone. And spending time with family is a big priority, (And where I will be is not a hotbed of Anglican-style worship.) so it looks like Christmas won’t be nearly as churchy as I would like.

Which is funny, because as recently as two years ago, I really wasn’t into church at Christmas at all. That just hasn’t been part of my past, even though I’ve been a Christian since age 14. But exposure to Anglican worship has changed that.

Still, I will eagerly listen to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings College, like I did for the first time last year. And I might sneak out for a late night Christmas Eve service. (If anyone knows of a good one in the Richland, Washington area let me know.)

I plan to buy myself a lot of Anglican Church music for myself after Christmas. I’ve been playing what I have already. Speaking of which, if you want to hear a performance from the recent King’s College Christmas U.S. Tour I heard, go here. You’re welcome.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Mea culpa (or no posts)

Sorry I haven’t been posting. Among other things, I’m a bit overwhelmed with trying to get conservation easement business (delayed by a blatantly negligent lawyer) done by the end of the year. (Yes, the lawyer has been dismissed.)

In fact, most of my stress right now is from bozos who don’t take care of business, then leave me with the consequences. All this stuff should have been taken care of months ago.

By the way, to whom it may concern, if you won’t mail something to my P.O. Box, then don’t mail it at all. I have a P.O. Box for a reason. If you live in an apartment behind a security door as I do, UPS, DHL, etc. are worse than useless. The less said on that, the better.

I hope to post something a bit more Christmasy later this week. Yes, I do love Christmas. But I can’t guarantee anything.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Churchly Quality Control XI: another case study

Yesterday’s post is very relevant to this screed from an Anglican gay lobby to the unfortunate Archbishop of Canterbury and how it should be handled.

Putting aside the glaring problems with this letter (A number of the comments on the link address those quite well.), this is a classic example of where church leaders should do exactly as I advised yesterday. You listen, then gently say, “We hope you stay, but we are going to do the right thing.” Trying instead to make everyone happy in situations like this just makes everyone unhappy . . . including God I suspect. A case could be made* that past accommodation of practicing gays in leadership has led to the situation we are in today where unhappiness abounds.

(*That’s a very Anglican understatement there.)

I think David Roseberry, among other Anglican conservatives, handles this issue rightly. He has made clear from the pulpit, no less, that homosexuals are welcome in his church, and they are to be treated with decency and love. But he will not pretend sin isn’t sin or in any other way willfully set aside the standards of God’s word.

And that is what the church is called to do. Truth and love – truth AND love. You don’t set aside either no matter how unhappy that makes someone.

(And, yes, I freely admit I allow some churchly and political issues to get me so worked up that I’m not exactly the most loving guy in the world. I apologize.)

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Churchly Quality Control X: a sad case study

Over at titusonenine and at the Leadership Journal, there is a sad case study of how divisions and poor leadership brought down an ECUSA parish in the aftermath of the 2003 General Convention.

I think there are a number of things relative to church leadership and CQC to be learned from “Trinity” parish. The writer's point that striving for consensus must not become an unanimity trap is especially well taken. Now at my previous church, Denton Bible Church, the elders do insist on unanimity among them. And it seems to have worked well. But I still think insisting on unanimity can be a trap. And it certainly was for this parish.

But for all its good points, I think the article overlooks a more basic problem at the parish. The problems on the parish level after GC 2003 began thus:

During the first Vestry meeting after the crisis, we were considering a motion that would have put the church on record as repudiating the actions of the recent General Convention. As the motion was being discussed, Jane, a liberal member, blurted out on the verge of tears, "If this passes, I'm leaving the church."

And instead of gently saying they hope she stays but they are going to do the right thing, the Vestry let this and other whiny liberals delay and muck everything up.

“Jane” and other liberals should not have been on the Vestry in the first place. You don’t put liberals or anyone else unfaithful to scripture in positions of leadership. If they don’t hold to the authority of God’s word, then they shouldn’t be exercising authority over God’s church, period, no matter how much they contribute or how nice they are or how long she’s been a member, etc.

Yes, excluding liberals from leadership will have a cost in some churches. People and money may leave in hurt and anger. But real discipleship and faithfulness are always costly.

But what if you already have liberals in leadership? Then you respect their leadership as much as you can without being unfaithful to Christ until you can remove them in the proper manner. In the meantime, you don’t let them run the show if you can stop them. If that makes them have a temper tantrum or threaten to leave, you respond graciously, but again you don’t let liberals dictate the direction of the church. Trinity parish was about to head in the right direction in responding to GC 2003 until it let the liberal minority dictate matters. Instead, things became an awful mess.

Yes, this post may seem mean. And I don’t want to run liberals out of churches. But a little leaven leavens the whole loaf. Liberals didn’t lead the mainline denominations into apostasy in one day. They began by taking advantage of the niceness of conservatives to get a foothold into leadership positions many years ago. Then over decades they took over session after session, vestry after vestry, presbytery after presbytery, diocese after diocese . . .

It could have been stopped at the parish/congregation level. But orthodox Christians were too stinking nice to do so. They were too nice at Trinity parish, too, and look what happened.

Sometimes, love is being firm and standing for what is right and refusing to back down.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Churchly Quality Control IX: Autonomy?

I have really mixed feelings on ecclesiastical autonomy. It’s clear that it has at least some attraction to me since I was until very recently a member of independent Bible churches for over 16 years.

Now, in my past church searches, I never said to myself, “I must join a completely independent autonomous church.” But in hindsight, one reason I joined two such churches is because I saw most denominations completely botching both autonomy and the lack thereof.

I too often saw liberals and apostates being the beneficiaries of any autonomy. This was a big reason I didn’t even consider joining a Baptist church back in 1988. For I saw over in Raleigh a Southern Baptist church that ordained a rabidly pro-abortion woman and had a quasi-Communist as a pastor. I felt if that’s what Baptist congregationalism means, then count me out.

(To their credit, the Southern Baptists have tempered their once radical congregationalism. That Raleigh church and a handful of others have been expelled from the Southern Baptist Convention. And I’m glad to see that today even some Canadian Baptists aren’t buying a radical, anything goes autonomy.)

On the flip side, when autonomy was not the standard of a denomination, I saw conservatives as the usual victims. I’ve mentioned the Presbyterian congregation in which I became a Christian was kicked out of their building by the local presbytery.

And, of course, today we see in the ECUSA persecution of the orthodox in several dioceses while liberals run riot. But if someone tells liberal bishops they are out of line, they claim the protection of diocesean or provincial autonomy at the very same time that they steamroll orthodox parishes. Again, autonomy for liberals, submission or else for conservatives.

So you can see why my feelings about ecclesiastical autonomy are ambivalent. I’ve often seen it (and its lack) used as both a haven and as a club by apostates. And that has repelled me from most denominations to the point that I wasn’t a member of one for 16 years. You could say that twisted churchly autonomy drove me to real autonomy – independent Bible churches. Yes, a bit ironic now that I look back on it.

But even a cursory reading of the Bible shows that ideally churches should not be autonomous. Jesus prayed that we’d be one. And in the early years of the church, even in Acts, there were church councils whose decisions were considered binding.

And thank God that when Arianism and other heresies were taking over churches, the church at large didn’t say, “Oh well, they are autonomous. Let them be.”

So today I would say, no, churches should not be autonomous.

But I still see real congregational autonomy and independence as vastly preferable to membership in most of the major denominations.

I told you I was ambivalent.

If you want a pointy-headed (and hopefully less confusing) conservative look at the issue of autonomy in the ECUSA, here’s a piece by Ephraim Radner.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

More orthodox Anglican ecumenism

I’ve mentioned here that it seems those making the most real progress in genuine ecumenism among Anglicans are conservatives. I joined the Reformed Episcopal Church in part because of that.

Since the hotbed of the ecumenical movement was once liberal churches, the irony of this is not lost on me.

A partner of the REC in bringing orthodox Anglican churches together is the Anglican Province of America (APA). Among other efforts, the APA and Forward in Faith, North America, a prominent Anglo-Catholic body, are now going to be in full communion.

Because of efforts such as these, I’m hopeful that that, one way or another, out of the current difficulties will arise an worldwide orthodox Anglican Communion – even it might not be the Anglican Communion (although I haven’t given up hope there either).

Monday, December 13, 2004


When I went to St. David’s here in Denton yesterday morning, the Third Sunday in Advent, I was surprised to find the liturgical color was . . . pink.

I’ve since found out that wasn’t pink, that was rose. Uh, huh. It sure looked pink to me. And I found out the Third Sunday in Advent is Gaudete Sunday, hence pink, uh, rose liturgical colors. No, I’ve never heard of Gaudete Sunday before. I’m still learning.

One of the minor reasons I’ve became Anglican is because it’s, well, fun. Seeing the rector in rather fancy pink, I mean, rose vestments are certainly part of that.

Here’s a fun discussion that fills in some colorful details on Gaudete Sunday.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

I see the King’s College Choir.

And it was excellent. I arrived at First United Methodist Church Dallas 45 minutes early. I actually wanted to get there an hour early to assure a good seat. But my third row seat was great. I could hear the voices much more from the choir themselves than from amplification and could see them very well also. The concert was sold out by the way. One man out front was trying to get a ticket.

I had two expectations, both of which were gladly not met. I expected them to do mainly more accessible Christmasy tunes for an American audience. They did a few, of course. But most of the programme (Love those British spellings.) was obscure, arty pieces that were very traditional, but not the sort of thing Americans are used to. I even heard one lady say after a piece, “That was strange.” Good! I didn’t want a watered down “pop” concert.

Second, they did not sell any cds or the like at the concert. Now I wanted to buy some stuff, but I’m glad they didn’t sell anything. The Choir has a reputation for being a bit commercial, and I was glad to see that debunked.

The concert was in three parts: Four Christmas Motets in Latin, A Ceremony of Carols, Op. 28, and then a programme of various carols.

My favorite part was A Ceremony of Carols, performed by only the boys with a harpist. They had a singing procession and recession. It was a very nice effect to hear them singing beyond the doors, then come in right in front of me. Ditto for when they left.

Now a stereotype of boy choristers is that they are plaster angels. Not so with those of King’s College. The boys’ personalities show through the performances. I’ve noticed three main types of choristers: 1. the showmen, about three tonight. They are animated and confident and love to put on a show and receive the applause. 2. the nervous kids. They are very careful to do things right and look slightly ill at ease. Most of these were the younger boys on the two sides of the choristers. 3. Taking care of business. These are most of the boys. They don’t show much emotion, but are relaxed and do their job with a natural exactness and confidence. But even some of them clearly like the applause.

There was this one kid, a showman, who really stood out. He was one of the smaller boys, but he had The Voice and did the only solo piece of the night, very well I must add. (It was That Youge Child during the Ceremony of Carols, I believe.) When he finished his solo and during other times, he wore a very pleased expression that said, “Yeah, I’m good. I’m the man.” He was a hoot! I noticed one of the choristers was named Maximus Rex. I wonder if it was him, because the little man carried himself like a Maximus Rex.

He also did an excellent duet with a less animated but equally proficient boy the very next song, Balulalow.

The conductor, Stephen Cleobury, who also had some ham in him, had the congregation sing part of two carols (Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel and God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen, two favorites of mine) in the third part of the programme. That was fun and sounded very powerful with the organ. But I’d rather hear the choir. Although the boy choristers did manage to sing a high harmony that wonderfully soared above the congregation’s singing.

I could go on, but obviously this is the sort of thing where description falls way short.

I did notice a problem early on. The acoustics of the church were not very good, to some extent swallowing up the voices and even the impressive organ. I knew it wasn’t me when a last strong organ note was swallowed up by the space immediately. That’s sad, since First UMC Dallas puts a lot of emphasis on the arts. And the sanctuary, though big, is intimate, especially if you’re a lucky guy on the third row like me. Nevertheless, I hope the choir chooses a different venue the next time it’s in Texas.

Still, it was a great evening. By the way, the concert lasted two hours. We got beyond our money’s worth.

This was the first concert of their U. S. Christmas tour. If they are coming near you, see them! Get tickets ahead of time, however.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Friday, December 10, 2004

Churchly Quality Control VIII: A word on church discipline

When a church comes to the place where it can no longer exert discipline, then with tears before the Lord we must consider a second step. If the battle for doctrinal purity is lost, we must understand that there is a second step to take in regard to the practice of the principle of the purity of the visible church. It may be necessary for true Christians to leave the visible organization with which they have been associated. But note well: if we must leave our church, it should always be with tears . . .

Francis Schaeffer
from The Church Before the Watching World
++Eames hears the music.

In a follow-up to yesterday’s post, Archbishop Robin Eames must have heard an ear full about his “move on” interview. For he finds it necessary to make an additional clarifying statement supporting the Windsor Report.

I don’t think the new statement clears things up much. But it’s good to know enough people won’t put up with more Anglican fudge that it got his attention.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

So Irish Primate ++Robin Eames Wants to “Move On.”

Irish Archbishop Robin Eames, who chaired the Lambeth Commission that gave us the Windsor Report, apparently thinks discipline of the ECUSA is unlikely. And he wants it that way, saying “we must move on.”

Eames’ advice is a recipe for the break-up of the Communion. Conservatives with any backbone, namely most of the Southern Primates, will not put up with the Anglican fudge of just moving on.

By the way, why is it only conservatives in mainline churches who are expected to “move on”? When liberals don’t get their way, they come back again and again and again until they get their way even if they have to run roughshod over the polity of the church. Then they immediately expect conservatives to “move on.” And in the ECUSA, the conservatives have been such wimps, most of them have.

If the ECUSA and Anglican Church of Canada are not disciplined, the Anglican Communion will – and should – break up. A church that won’t discipline blatant apostasy, especially in its leadership, deserves not allegiance but the judgment of God. When a church refuses to defend the faith, it’s not time to move on, it’s time to move out – moving out to cast the cowards and apostates out of leadership or moving out of that so-called church altogether.

I thank God that those heroes of the Faith who have opposed apostasy throughout church history didn’t just “move on.”

Excuse my Unanglican phrasing, but to hell with moving on.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

More about numbers

Last week (the December 2nd entry), I mentioned the decline in ECUSA membership for 2003 and the denial exhibited about it.

Something I didn’t mention is that the real declines are probably worse, perhaps much worse, than the reported numbers. Here’s some simple churchly bureaucratic reasons why:

1. Bureaucratic lag in taking people off the membership rolls. When someone transfers or discontinues their membership, the recognition of that in church rolls is usually far from instantaneous. Nothing nefarious here. That’s just the way the world works.

2. Church reluctance in recognizing loss of membership. Whatever the motives, which may or may not be good, churches are sometimes reluctant to officially recognize the loss of a member. One lady has posted that she clearly told an ECUSA church she was leaving to remove her from the rolls. Instead, they placed her on the inactive membership roll. (Sorry, I’ve lost the link to her post.)

3. Some just leave. Many fed-up or discouraged members may just leave without asking the church to remove them from the rolls. Such people may remain on membership rolls for years.

4. The consecration of Gene Robinson occurred late in the year on All-Saints Day. This and the above reasons make it likely that most resulting membership losses were not officially recognized in 2003.

Granted, the controversy around that consecration did attract interest. It played a role in even me paying more attention to Anglicanism. But churches tend to recognize membership gains faster than membership losses. And I seriously doubt any membership gains came close to offsetting losses. So I’ll stick with saying the real declines are much worse that the reported ones. But time will tell. The 2004 numbers will be interesting.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

In case you think the Southern Anglican Primates aren’t dead serious . . .

about broken communion with the consecrators of Gene Robinson, you need to read about a rather unpleasant evening this past weekend in Pennsylvania.

It’s going to be an interesting Primates meeting in February.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Churchly Quality Control VII: Who should hold the property?

Some of you may have noticed what could turn out to be an important California Supreme Court ruling. Now, I’m no property lawyer. But in short, the court ruled against the United Methodist Church and allowed the congregation of St. Luke’s church to hold on to their property after leaving the denomination.

This could have ramifications in other cases involving other denominations, including the ECUSA.

There is a collection of relevant links and quite a good discussion over at Titusonenine.

Putting aside the legal aspects for now and focusing on church polity and CQC, I want to ask the question: Who should hold church property – the local congregation or a larger church body (such as a diocese or presbytery)?

I have mixed feelings on this. I can see how churches would want the property held by dioceses or presbyteries and the like. For one thing, many congregations started as missions (or the equivalent) nurtured and financed by the regional or national church. Also, holding the property exerts some control. A congregation is less likely to go off the deep end if that means the larger church may take the property out from under them. So the larger church holding the property can be a good tool of Church Quality Control.

But that control in recent decades has been used often against conservative congregations. There have even been ugly episodes of congregations being locked out of their buildings by regional church bodies. The Presbyterian church in which I became a Christian was the victim of such an episode.

Seeing property control being used as a club against the orthodox gives me a gut feeling against denominational control of property and for congregational control. If I’m not mistaken, parish control of property is, at least in part, the policy of the Reformed Episcopal Church I’ve recently joined. (Anyone who knows more about REC polity feel free to educate me.)

But a good case can be made both ways, I think. So feel free (as always) to go ahead and make it.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Churchly Quality Control VI: Methodists defrock lesbian.

Yes, it’s true. A mainline denomination actually defrocked a non-conservative for violating the orthopraxy of the church.

The vote of the United Methodist church court was close. But still this surprises me. I’ve seen mainline churches use every excuse in the book not to enforce their own rules against liberals. So I expected more of the same. But I’m glad to be wrong. Kudos to the Methodists.

And, yes, the Episcopal Church USA is getting more isolated by the day.

Any church that cares about orthodoxy and orthopraxy has to be willing and able to defrock errant unrepentant ministers. Frankly, I won’t join a church that wouldn’t.

The history of the mainline denominations show a little leaven takes over the whole loaf. You can point to times churches were unwilling to defrock even blatant heretics (And I’m unaware of any blatant heresy on the part of the defrocked Ms. Stroud.), and you’ll find that the apostasy of those churches accelerated soon afterwards. In the Episcopal Church, this is certainly the case with the tepid discipline exercised toward heretic Bishops James Pike and John Spong.

Churches must be willing to defrock. It’s a matter of not only defending the Faith; it’s a matter of self-defense as well.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

More denial from the Episcopal Church USA

Well, the official numbers are out. And memberships losses in the Episcopal Church accelerated in 2003. But was the General Convention and the consecration of Gene Robinson that year the big factors behind that? Nooooooo.

Well, actually, yes. But you’re not going to hear that from the Episcopal spin doctors. See that 900 pound gorilla in the room? Just ignore it. It’s not important.

I have to give the two ECUSA directors in the interview some credit, though. They are right that the Episcopal Church's membership problems didn’t begin in 2003. And Mr. Fulton seems to actually admit that the mainline penchant for offering not much in the way of being a church that holds forth the Way, the Truth, and the Life might, just might, hurt membership:

The bread-and-butter of mainline denominations, what we really do offer people, is belonging. And that’s not what the church at its truest offers people, just to belong. You can belong a lot of places.

Aeyyyy-men! Oh I forgot – I’m Anglican now.

Further, uh, dialogue, that’s it, may be found at Titusonenine.