Monday, August 24, 2009

Jordan Hylden on The Episcopal Church

It took a while for Jordan Hylden’s excellent article on The Episcopal Church post-General Convention to cross my radar. But it finally did thanks to Stand Firm. And, though it is over a month old now, I think it worthy of consideration and comment.

I particularly want to note two characteristics of, not just TEC leadership, but Libchurch leadership across the mainline denominations, two traits that Hylden nails:

1. Putting the opinion of modern (and post-modern) men above the teaching of scripture and tradition.

2. Dishonesty in so doing.

As for same-sex blessings, Bishop Christopher Epting, the church’s deputy for ecumenical and interreligious relations, has asserted that despite Resolution C056 the convention actually “did not authorize any public rites” for the blessing of same-sex unions and so did not, in fact, contravene the requests made by the global Anglican instruments of unity. It is notable that this argument was not even attempted by Bishop Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson in their letter. The word game here in play is to insist that while they were asked not to authorize any churchwide rites, no one said anything about unleashing bishops to make and use rites on their own. In short, Bishop Epting’s argument not only fails on its own terms, but it is difficult even to take seriously.

All in all, one is left with the spectacle of the Episcopal Church’s leadership trying desperately to convince the Anglican communion and countless onlookers, by the artful use of lawyerly nuance and political hair-splitting, that they did not do what they did.

Such dishonesty should not surprise. Many (most?) TEC bishops lie every time they say the creed. Or they engage in the obfuscation covered by “we believe” – that we confess this is what the church believes (but not necessarily moi). If one can so lie about one’s faith – to the Lord Himself no less – one has already jettisoned basic honesty.

Of course, dishonesty breaks down trust, and the current situation in the Anglican Communion is no exception.

Arguably, this is the worst of all possible worlds. While one might wish that the church had not decided to leave behind biblical sexual norms, it is by now clear that this is the position of the great majority of Episcopal leadership. As such, there would have been genuine integrity in stating forthrightly that the Episcopal Church disagrees with its Anglican brothers and sisters, and that, out of their prayerful discernment and sense of God’s justice, they cannot comply with the Anglican world’s requests.

But that is not the path the Episcopal Church’s leaders have chosen. . . . Many Anglicans around the world no longer believe that they can trust the Episcopal Church to say what it means and do what it says, and the actions of the seventy-sixth General Convention, along with the present stance of church leadership, will almost certainly add fuel to the flame of Anglican discord and mistrust.

Although these are the two points that stand out to me, because they are so typical of Libchurches, Hylden has more to say. I commend to my readers the whole article which is accompanied by thoughtful exchanges between Hylden and his readers.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

I think we disagree somewhat. Modern Episcopal theology does not consist of valuing modern thought above ancient, rather it values the conclusion first and foremost. Reason, Scripture and Tradition are valued only to the extent they enable the seeker to reach the desired conclusion.

So if Scripture helps you reach the conclusion that manmade global warming is the number one priority for the modern church, the Scripture is of value. If modern thought does not help, or hinders, then it is of no worth.

Theology has been reduced to rationalizing decisions reached by other means.