Friday, March 04, 2005

Firmly standing alone . . . on sand . . . with the tide coming in.

When I was looking for a new church, I did actually consider joining an ECUSA church. For the Diocese of West Texas is fairly orthodox and somewhat conservative even.

But the bishop’s reluctance to join the Network or the like pretty much decided I would go elsewhere. If a diocese isn’t committed enough to orthodoxy and to resisting apostasy to at least join the Network, then I couldn’t find myself committing to it.

Well, apparently things aren’t getting any better.

In February (before the Primates Meeting), the diocese had its council at South Padre Island, which is quite a big beach resort. (I don’t know how permanent that link will be.) And Bishop Folts reiterated his middle of the road position – which I find about as wise as living in a sand castle. (The following quotes are from Bishop Folts’s charge, which is a PDF on the site.)

Further, we resolved in our meeting of Council just this past year that we would under no circumstances cut our relationship with the Episcopal Church (Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society) or the Anglican Communion. We would not align ourselves with any consortium of Dioceses or any religious political action groups who seek a status separate from the Episcopal Church in the United States of America or from the Anglican Communion.

There are obvious problems with this firm middle of the beach position. First, there is the very real possibility that in three years, being with both ECUSA and the Anglican Communion won’t be an option. I’m not saying that’s likely. But a policy of aligning firmly with both is getting to be about as viable as aligning with the Knights of Columbus and NARAL.

And what happens if ECUSA by its actions seeks “a status separate from . . . the Anglican Communion”? What about possible “circumstances” like that?

(To be fair to Bishop Folts, remember he did make his address before the Primates Meeting.)

And the bishop repeated his resolve to go it alone. With all due respect, I honestly see that as flat unbiblical. I have ornery loner tendencies and there are times to stubbornly stand alone. But even I see that the biblical model is for faithful Christians to work together. It’s sad to me that this reputedly orthodox bishop won’t join the efforts of fine people like Bishops Stanton, Duncan, Howe and Iker. Not only that, he made a statement which I can’t see as anything but a slur on them:

In all candor I must share with you that those in the House of Bishops who represent positions to the very far left and to the very far right in our present indisposition seem to have their feet so firmly set in concrete as to be immovable. For them we will pray, but we will not permit them to control what we do. Rather than be coopted by either political extreme, we will continue to be prepared, if necessary, to go it alone for a while in the mission and ministry of the church.

I scratched my head on this one. I can’t think of any ECUSA bishops that I would characterize as “very far right.” The most conservative bishops I can think of are +Stanton and +Iker, with maybe +Howe and a very few others. But they are hardly extremists. Bishop Folts’ statement is out of line.

And his go-it-alone, middle-of-road, above-it-all posture serves neither his diocese nor the Church of Christ well.

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