Tuesday, October 31, 2006

How to Say “BOO!” to an Anglo-Catholic

Just greet him with “Happy Reformation Day!” Further, I recommend that all trick-or-treaters going to All Too Common’s house dress as Luther or Calvin to give him a good scare. He is not at all happy about it being Reformation Day.

I have to admit he has some good points. The Romans are certainly doing better than the Protestants when it comes to avoiding apostasy and schism.

But the Roman Catholic Church has only itself to blame for the Reformation. Its Medieval corruption made the Reformation necessary. And remember that Luther wanted to reform the church, not split it. But the Catholic hierarchy wanted none of it.

I’m not as uncritical of the Reformation as I once was. I think much of it went too far in a number of ways. And now it’s many of the Reformation churches that are rotten to the core.

The irony is that the Reformation goaded the Catholics to finally reform themselves. And their reforms have been more persistent. So maybe Catholics should be thankful for the Reformation!

So BOO! – I mean – Happy Reformation Day!

Monday, October 30, 2006

No Safe Place: TEC Chancellor Adolf David Booth Beers Threatens Ft. Worth, Quincy

Ah, the lovely jack book of Episcopal tolerance.

Read more here, including interesting background from Ft. Worth Bishop Iker.

Of course, the Chancellor’s action is arbitrary. But liberals only hold to the polity of their churches when it serves their ends.
REC/APA Paper on Unity

The combined bishops of the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province of America have issued an excellent paper on unity among orthodox Anglicans, particularly between those two church bodies.

As is our bishops’ practice, there is excellent teaching in this paper. I particularly appreciate and share their conclusions about different churchmanships among orthodox Anglicans.

Part of the genius of Anglicanism . . . has been its clearly defined standards on first order doctrines, while at the same time it has allowed for a breadth of belief regarding second order doctrines.

Indeed! And I want to be in same church with people who, say, have a different view of Mary than I do. Or rather, I am in the same church with people who have different views. So church bodies should have diversity that reflects that fact.

A serious error I see in both Roman Catholic and very Protestant churches is that they willfully exclude that diversity. For example, to be a good Catholic, you have to believe in the Immaculate Conception. (In fact, that’s practically required for converts to Roman Catholicism.) To be a good Protestant, you can’t. That does not reflect Christ’s church.

Speaking of which, the following paragraph is particularly prescient given the sectarianism of the REC’s past and of a minority of Reformed Episcopalians today:

The approach of freedom within defined doctrinal parameters has resulted in greater unity and less fracture. It requires resisting the temptation to permit “isms” and movements from pulling the theology of the Church to one extreme or the other. To some, this is not pure enough. They have sought a kind of absolute doctrinal purity that can only exist in heaven. This was the error of the Anabaptists. John Calvin addressed this problem when he wrote, “Among Christians there ought to be so great a dislike of schism, as that they may always avoid it so far as lies in their power. That there ought to prevail among them such a reverence for the ministry of the word and the sacraments that wherever they perceive these things to be, there they must consider the church to exist . . . nor need it be of any hindrance that some points of doctrine are not quite so pure, seeing that there is scarcely a church which has not retained some remnants of former ignorance.”

The vision of unity amidst a variety of orthodox Christians under one roof is one reason I’m now an Anglican . . . and a Reformed Episcopalian.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bishop Duncan Speaks on the Future of Anglicanism

Bishop Robert Duncan, upon receiving an honorary doctorate from Nashotah House, gave a very interesting speech on the future of Anglicanism. And it is packed with wise and edifying analysis – too much to tackle on one post! So I may refer to it in the future. In the meantime, read it here or here.

There are two comments he made relevant to us orthodox Anglicans oh-so-hungry for progress in realignment. First:

Speaking together from Kigali, just one week after the New York meeting, twenty Primates of the Global South (or their representatives) communicated their intention to provide Alternative Primatial Oversight, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, to the appealing U.S. dioceses. (4) Representatives of the Global South Committee will be meeting with representatives of the eight APO dioceses within a very few days.

That’s actually not new news. But the timing has just been confirmed by The Living Church.


We have reached the moment where a mediation to achieve disengagement is the only way forward. I believe that the other Episcopal Church – the one not represented in this convocation – has finally also come to that conclusion, as well. I believe that a mediated settlement will be in place by this time next year, or that the principals will be well on their way to such a settlement.

Now that is an optimistic assessment, and, if true, would definitely be news. We’ve been given a glimmer of hope of that recently with an interesting discussion over at Stand Firm. And the New York meeting made progress toward a settlement though they reached an impasse. We’ll see if the bishop’s optimism is justified. Let’s pray so.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

No Safe Place: Disaster in Dallas

As I’ve said , if there’s a safe place in the Episcopal Church it would have seemed to be the Diocese of Dallas – until this past weekend.

This morning with the release of documents from the weekend’s Dallas diocean convention and with the news coming out that Dallas is no longer asking for APO, it is now clear that the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas is a disaster in progress due to poor leadership of Bishop James Stanton.

Instead of leading his diocese out of TEC as many thought he was doing, he has committed Dallas to staying in, even withdrawing the request for Alternative Primatial Oversight. And he has so alienated committed orthodox faithful in his diocese that if he comes to his senses and tries to lead his diocese out in the future, he will likely be unable to do so because so many orthodox will have already left that the revisionists and institutionalists will have the votes to stop him. At the very least, he’s lost and is losing a lot of good people because of his cold feet.

Some lowlights:

There was a resolution passed that endorsed Camp Allen, but nothing passed that endorsed the much stronger Kigali Communiqué.

From his address, +Stanton rules out leaving indefinitely. Now I could understand (and would probably even approve) if he asked people to stick it out for one year so upcoming actions of the Network and the February Primates meeting can be considered. And I honestly expected him to do something like that. But that’s not what he did.

Let me be blunt. Separation is not a strategy. Where would we go? And what would be the result of a departure? I believe that separation would only increase the tensions within the Anglican Communion and make a vital, robust Covenant process that much more difficult!

So the diocese should stick out the Covenant process? The Covenant process will take years. The diocese simply will not survive as a strongly orthodox entity for that long if it remains in TEC. You read it here.

And how would the world outside look at yet more division in the Body of Christ? This is precisely what they have come to expect of Christians – groups fighting with each other. Our Lord prayed that we might be one in order that the world might see our unity as a sign of God’s blessing and work. (John 17)

The Bible also says to not be bound together with unbelievers, especially of the apostate variety. As for what the world thinks about staying in the Episcopal Church, a lot of the world so wants nothing to do with that organization that even having “Episcopal” on your church sign means a lot of people won’t even consider joining you. And the Global South has made clear what they think of communion with the Episcopal Church.

If, as our Thirty-nine Articles say, the Church is where the "pure Word of God is preached and the Sacraments be duly administered," or as we might say, where Christ is honored and the Apostles' teaching forms the core, where the Sacraments indeed bring strength for ministry and comfort for those in need, then why should anyone depart?

*Ahem* Because that’s not the vast majority of the Episcopal Church?

I’m tempted to wonder out loud what planet the good bishop is on.

Judge for yourselves in the place you worship and serve and grow in your faith. If together in your parish or mission you are worshipping and serving the living God, what compels you to go? If together with other such congregations in this Diocesan family you serve the Risen Christ, and believe with them in his power to transform not only your own life, but the world, why must you leave?
If, finally, our vision for the future has been inspired by the challenge and hope of being an Anglican, a part of a vibrant and robust and orthodox community of dioceses and men and women around the world, what is the value of separation?

This is just downright Pollyanna. To imply that isolated orthodox congregations and dioceses will do so fine in the Episcopal Church that there is no reason to leave is just irresponsible. And this mindset that my congregation is fine and orthodox, so the rest of the denomination doesn’t affect me is one reason the Episcopal (and Presbyterian) Church is going down the tubes.

By the way, I’ve heard somewhere that a little leaven affects the whole loaf. I suspect a ton of leaven crushes it.


Someone has remarked that +Stanton has given excellent leadership for years, and for the most part he has. But good leadership for three quarters doesn’t do much good if you drop the ball and blow the game in the fourth. And that’s exactly what the good bishop has done. And I say this as someone who has thought highly of him for years.

The fruit of +Stanton dropping the ball is already becoming evident. Christ Church Plano has left. St. Matthias Dallas is leaving. (And again, those are two excellent parishes that have played important roles in my walk as an Anglican.) There are reports that other orthodox parishes will follow. And that’s not to mention individuals in other parishes. The diocese is literally disintegrating. (Check out comments on relevant Stand Firm posts to get an idea of the turmoil.)

Staying in apostate denominations is just not a viable course for committed orthodox. And if leaders don’t see that, many of the orthodox will and get out, leaving the remaining orthodox greatly weakened.

The lesson from this Dallas mess? Relying on an orthodox bishop (or presbytery or the like) in a liberal denomination is a thin reed to lean on. That bishop won’t be bishop forever. And even while he is bishop, there’s usually no guarantee he won’t blink when the time comes to lead . . . not even if he’s led well in the past, not even in the Diocese of Dallas.

And this should also serve as a lesson to the leaders of the Network. For them to effectively lead, they must lead the orthodox OUT of the Episcopal Church.
BREAKING: Dallas No Longer Asking for APO

Stand Firm reports this morning that the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas is no longer asking for Alternative Primatial Oversight.

I’ll withhold commentary for now. But, needless to say, this is disturbing news.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

No Safe Place: Smokey Matt’s Leaving TEC, Diocese of Dallas

This may be common knowledge, but I wanted to be sure. And I have indeed confirmed that my beloved St. Matthias Dallas, aka Smokey Matt’s, is indeed in the process of leaving the Episcopal Church. This is consistent with the intentions they posted on their website a couple months ago. (The link to the .pdf is at the bottom of their home page.)

Therefore, they did not send a delegation to the diocean convention this past weekend. That, plus Christ Church Plano already gone, makes me suspect that the leaders of those two parishes knew that Bishop Stanton would call on the diocese to stay in TEC for now.

I know people who are leaving and people who are staying in the Diocese of Dallas. Both decisions are honorable – and costly.

Decisions to either stay or leave will likely become more costly as time goes on. Staying later risks being trapped in an apostate church. Leaving later risks the tangible and the emotional and spiritual costs of leaving increasing. Christ Church and, likely, St. Matthias can work out reasonable settlements with Bishop Stanton. But he won’t be bishop forever and there is far from any guarantee of such reasonable leadership in the future. In fact, I can come close to guaranteeing that at some point in the future, such an amicable departure won’t be possible.

I think the costs of staying in or of delaying departure from the Episcopal Church will become too great within ten years, even in Network dioceses. Staying for now might be the best course, especially since we will likely know more about the game plan of the Network and the Primates by Spring. A concern expressed to me from Dallas is that the leaving parishes are “unintentionally undermining the case for a coherent and integrated orthodox Anglicanism in North America by bringing about a diffuse and disintegrated Anglican Order here. The orthodox . . . have GOT to be united if the Anglican experiment is going to succeed.” And I’m inclined to agree.

But I think the main purpose of staying in TEC should be to urgently seek the best timing and mode of leaving for reasons laid out and to be laid out in this “No Safe Place” series.
Affirming Laudianism

It’s been a bit dreary around here what with my No Safe Place series and all. There’s a cheerful subject.

So to inspire you and be as inclusive as all get out, I present to you Affirming Laudianism.

You’re welcome.

Monday, October 23, 2006

No Safe Place: Getting more and more lonely (in the Diocese of Dallas)

There’s a problem (among many) with staying in liberal denominations like the Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches – you find your orthodox allies become fewer and fewer and fewer. It could be subtle as when I moved years ago and decided I wasn’t going to join another Presbyterian Church, period. Or it could be very public, even finding its way to the newspapers, as when healthy congregations decide it’s no longer healthy to stay. But the result is the same – you have fewer allies standing with you in your denomination. Hopes of reform dwindle. And it becomes an even less safe place.

If anyone ever thought there was an orthodox safe place in the Episcopal Church, it would be the Diocese of Dallas. Heck, if I still lived in the diocese, it’s possible I might be a member of one of its parishes. There are no less than three that have had quite an influence on my Anglican journey – Christ Church Plano, St. Matthias Dallas, and St. David’s Denton.

Yes. You may have noticed that one has left, and another is probably leaving the diocese and the Episcopal Church.

And the Diocese of Dallas has therefore and suddenly become less safe.

Precipitating factors in orthodox Dallas Episcopalians becoming fewer are not just General Conventions ’03 and ’06, but now the Dallas diocean convention this past weekend. At Bishop Stanton’s urging, the convention decided to stay in the Episcopal Church for now. And many orthodox who have had enough are therefore leaving. And I suspect Christ Church Plano saw this coming, and that’s why they left.

The Catch 22, of course, is that if the time comes when the Bishop of Dallas decides it is indeed to time to leave TEC, he may not have the numbers at convention to do so because the waiting drove too many orthodox out. Waiting may cause the diocese to become trapped in an apostate denomination.

(By the way, I'm not necessarily saying the convention made the wrong decision, but staying and waiting is nevertheless problematic.)

I’m trying to get more details of the convention. But Christopher Johnson has a good summary up. He especially has the problem of staying and losing allies nailed:

The Network's position gets weaker with each passing month.

And the longer the right waits, the more people like me will throw up our hands, find other Christian traditions and get on with our lives. If and when the Network decides that the line has finally been crossed, it may find that there are few left in their pews who will care.

As he notes, the Diocese of Dallas and the rest of the Network does not have time on its side. The relentless attrition of the orthodox in TEC is a (the?) big reason for that.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

No Safe Place: Speaking of Vilifying, Herrrre’s the Bishop of Connecticut!

Yesterday, I quoted the following: “It’s interesting how . . . the Episcopal Church, is quick to vilify local churches who are simply trying to be obedient to the historic Christian faith.”

Well, as Monty Python would say, almost immediately the Bishop of Connecticut gives us a sterling example of such vilification in his address to his diocean convention no less. (Be sure to click on the link at Stand Firm to get the whole address in .pdf form.)

He begins tearing into the orthodox Connecticut Six parishes on page three and goes on for quite a while. You’d think those parishes suddenly attacked him and tried to close him down and kick him out instead of the other way around. Some lowlights:

In the meantime, for these past two years the five parishes and their clergy have continued to enjoy the benefits of The Episcopal Church [like bishops that raid parishes – ed.] while at the same time they refuse to contribute to our life and mission and they continue to pursue their own agenda. To turn a simile, it’s been a little like flying an airplane while some of the crew are working to dismantle it.

The agenda? In the press and in private communications they and their spokespersons continually misrepresent the issues and impugn the motives and character of this bishop. They refuse to support our common mission and life financially: in 2005, of the five parishes, two parishes contributed nothing toward our diocesan budget, and for the other three the contribution average for the year was $430.00.

They won’t fork over the money to a bishop who stands against just about everything they believe. Terrible. By the way, sir, if you don’t want people questioning your motives and character, don’t raid faithful churches.

He rants some more about money, then actually maligns the parishes’ efforts to reach a settlement. Then he winds up with this jewel:

To the clergy and members of the five congregations. Perhaps in your mind or in meetings some of you already have made the decision to leave this church. Perhaps you are caught in this fray. It is time for your yes be yes, and your no be no. If one church, or two churches, or all five churches will return to the life and mission and communion of this Church, and, clergy, if you will honor your ordination vows, the door is wide open. If you cannot tolerate the life and openness of The Episcopal Church, then honorably move on. Above all, stop the whining and the destructive behavior which diminish all of us and the Lord Jesus. This Church has gospel work before us, and we have been more than patient, and the attacks continue and it is time for us to say, enough!

What most hurts, in addition to our severely strained relationships in Christ, is the active nurturing of dissension and the diversion of our attention and assets away from our mission and ministry. While we could be saving thousands of children and adults who will die today of malaria, while we could be building and staffing churches and schools and clinics, while we could be forming microeconomic enterprises, while we could be supporting mission and missionaries abroad and here in Connecticut, we have been compelled to devote our resources and attention to five parishes and their demand for accommodations we cannot grant. Enough.

So malaria is these parishes’ fault, too.

Then he goes on for several pages in advocacy of same-sex blessings and the like. In fact, most of his address either tears into these parishes or advocates the gay agenda.

Such are the priorities of the Bishop of Connecticut and the liberal new orthodoxy.

Now, some may say that this bishop is particularly awful, that most of even the revisionist TEC bishops are not this bad. And that is probably true.

But in a denomination like the Episcopal Church, it’s only a matter of time until a parish will find itself under leadership bent on crushing the orthodox. It may not be until the next generation or the one after that, but the day is coming. The Bishop of Connecticut may be somewhat of an exception, but he’s by no means an aberration.

Remember what Fr. Neuhaus has said:

When orthodoxy is optional, it is admitted under a rule of liberal tolerance that cannot help but be intolerant of talk about right and wrong, true and false. It is therefore a conditional admission, depending upon orthodoxy's good behavior. The orthodox may be permitted to believe this or that and to do this or that as a matter of sufferance, allowing them to indulge their inclination, preference, or personal taste. But it is an intolerable violation of the etiquette by which one is tolerated if one has the effrontery to propose that this or that is normative for others.

And sooner or later, leadership will come along who will indeed not tolerate it. Again, that’s not an aberration; that’s to be expected under the liberal new orthodoxy.

Friday, October 20, 2006

No Safe Place: PCUSA joins ECUSA to gang up on St. James.

At the beginning of this No Safe Place series, I noted the similarities between how the mainline Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches treat orthodoxy and the orthodox, particularly in going after the property of orthodox congregations. In fact, the similarities prompted me to begin this series.

Now thanks to the Layman and Brad Drell, it comes out that not only are those denominations’ property grabs similar, they are in cahoots with each other. The Presbyterian Church has filed a court brief backing the effort of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles to grab the property of St. James parish and kick the congregation out on the street.

Leaving aside the question of how vile it is that these two denominations don’t have the common decency to leave St. James alone but are instead ganging up on the parish, this action backs up my contention that the similarities in the actions of these two denominations are no coincidence. They both have been taken over by a liberal new orthodoxy that claims tolerance and inclusion while it works to crush the orthodox.

Further, that lawyers for the two denominations are working together in at least this case begs the question: what other times have lawyers from the two been working together? Episcopal and Presbyterian efforts against orthodox congregations indeed often seem to working out of the same playbook.

This story also illustrates the insufferable arrogance of the new orthodox liberal leadership in mainline denominations. The Presbyterian Church acts as it has in this case even though a majority (I hope) in Presbyterian pews would want nothing to do with such an action. This is far from the first time the Presbyterian Church has acted and made statements that many or most Presbyterians would find repugnant -- a subject that calls for further posts.

As if that isn’t enough, some statements in the brief are just flat out false.

It makes a strong assertion that the vote by the congregation of St. James Parish in the Diocese of Los Angeles was schismatic and that, “Since 2003, the congregation of St. James Parish has been torn apart by a schism regarding theological/ecclesiastical issues.”

Eric C. Sohlgren, attorney for St. James, took strong exception to the PCUSA’s depiction of the congregation as being schismatic.

“It is understandable that PCUSA is completely ignorant of what really happened at St. James, but I hardly think a packed sanctuary with hundreds of people leaping to their feet in spontaneous shouts of joy and praise at the disaffiliation announcement, and a near unanimous vote of the members to disaffiliate, as being ‘torn apart by schism,’” Sohlgren said.

But hey, Presbies and Piskies, don’t let the facts get in the way of going after those eeeeevil orthodox.

“It’s interesting how the PCUSA, like the Episcopal Church, is quick to vilify local churches who are simply trying to be obedient to the historic Christian faith.”

It’s interesting indeed. But for those familiar with the leadership of those two denominations, it is no surprise.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

An Interesting Discussion on an Amicable Separation

Over at Stand Firm, there is a very interesting discussion on the possibility of an amicable separation in the Episcopal Church – now at 155 comments!

I won’t even attempt to rehash it, but I find two things of note. First, Jim Naughton, a dedicated revisionist, prompted the discussion and seems quite open to a negotiated separation and settlement.

Now, as he noted, he as speaking for himself, not 815. But I still find it encouraging that such a prominent revisionist is so willing to discuss an amicable separation with the reasserters (i.e. orthodox) on one of their sites no less.

Second, some of my orthodox brethren seem to want a whole package of Anglican realignment neatly handed to them in a bundle. There were a number of posts uninterested in an amicable separation unless it included discipline of the Episcopal Church.

Readers know I want the Episcopal Church disciplined. But it’s just not feasible for everything to be done at once. As Matt Kennedy commented, an amicable separation and discipline of the Episcopal Church are two separate matters. For while a separation would have to be hashed out in some way among American Episcopalians, discipline is to be decided by the worldwide Anglican Communion. The AC has little say other than persuasion in matters such as American church property disputes. And American Anglicans have only a partial say in AC disciplinary matters.

That’s a much messier way of doing things than that of our Roman brethren. But that’s the way it is. So by necessity, the question of an amicable separation can’t be bound together with that of discipline of the Episcopal Church.

There’s much more over at the Stand Firm discussion, which I commend to you.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Sacraments, the Church Fathers, and Bishop Beckwith

Some of you have noticed a bit of unhappiness between the Bishop of Springfield Peter Beckwith and a liberal parish, St. Andrews of Edwardsville, Illinois.

Part of the controversy is that he is no longer willing to confirm people at St. Andrews. For he has little to no confidence that candidates of the parish are able and willing to truly make the vows, the profession of faith involved given the lack of orthodox teaching there.

Some who are used to baptism and confirmation being used as glorified social promotion and to the Eucharist being indiscriminately distributed like candy at a parade think that’s just horrible. How uninclusive! The sacraments should be for everyone!

Well . . . I’ve actually been learning some things taking Liturgics from Cranmer House. One thing I’ve learned is that the church fathers were very careful about distributing the sacraments. Heck, if you weren’t a baptized Christian, you weren’t even allowed to attend the Eucharist. You could listen to the liturgy of the word but when it was time for the Lord’s Supper you were dismissed.

And baptism (from which confirmation is derived) was not given to just anyone who said “I believe!” and wanted it. You had to convince church leaders that you were for real. As early as 225 A.D., we see in Hippolytus’ Apostolic Tradition that involved a thorough examination, a long catechumenate (three years under Hippolytus!), and another examination at the end of that period. Only if you passed through all that were you then baptized and admitted to the Eucharist. Many catechumens were martyred first!

I’m not recommending we go back to that (although the reader may rightly ask, “Why not?”), but giving out confirmation and other sacraments with no regard to whether the faith of those receiving is for real is dead wrong.

And it can endanger the souls of those receiving. Paul wrote that those who receive sacraments unworthily can fall under judgement, even death. And how many people deceive themselves about their standing before God by holding on to their baptism and confirmation as some ticket to heaven even though they completely lack Christian faith?

The charitable thing for a bishop or priest to do when there is no reason to believe someone’s faith is for real and indeed Christian is to withhold the sacraments (of baptism and confirmation at least) and gently explain why. People will be upset. Some may walk. But that’s better than contributing to self-deception that leads to Hell. And perhaps it may serve as a wake-up call.

Indiscriminate confirmation instead calls to nothing but self-deceived complacency. Kudos to +Peter Beckwith for wanting no part in that.

Monday, October 16, 2006

60 Minutes on the Duke Lacrosse Case

I rarely watch 60 Minutes. But I flipped over to see if football was still on, and I saw they were covering the Duke Lacrosse case.

And I NOT a fan of CBS News, but I have to credit them with an excellent report. They bring together the facts to show what we have here: an unethical District Attorney, Mike Nifong, who is more interested in making political hay out of this case than in justice.

The evidence shows that the three men indicted are innocent, but more than once, the authorities have shown themselves uninterested in the evidence.

And, on camera, Duke Law professor James Coleman pretty much accused Mr. Nifong of prosecutorial misconduct:

60 Minutes asked James Coleman, a prominent law professor at Duke University Law School who helped establish guidelines in North Carolina designed to protect against false identifications in police line-ups. He says this line-up broke one basic principle: there were no “filler” photos, no pictures of people not connected to the case. The accuser only saw photos of lacrosse players who police told her were at the party.

"If she’s told all of these people who were considered suspects were at the party, so you pick three and we’ll indict those three," Coleman says.

"So she can’t make a mistake," Bradley remarks.

"Can’t make a mistake," Coleman replies.

Professor Coleman says the line-up ordered by the D.A. for the Duke lacrosse case violated local, state and federal guidelines.

And later:

"I think that [Mike Nifong] pandered to the community by saying 'I'm gonna go out there and defend your interests in seeing that these hooligans who committed the crime are prosecuted. I'm not gonna let their fathers, with all of their money, buy you know big-time lawyers and get them off. I'm doing this for you.' You know, what are you to conclude about a prosecutor who says to you, 'I'll do whatever it takes to get this set of defendants?' What does it say about what he's willing to do to get poor black defendants," Coleman asks.

Asked if he thinks the D.A. committed prosecutorial misconduct, Coleman says, "Yes, I mean I think that’s the whole point. And if this case resulted in a conviction, I think there would be a basis to have the conviction overturned based on his conduct. I think in this case, it appears that this prosecutor has set out to develop whatever evidence he could to convict people he already concluded were guilty."

Read here for more. (And in the interests of disclosure, I’m a Duke alum.)

I think this case is part of a much larger problem. I’ve long been troubled by those prosecutors who are more interested in scalps than in justice. They have a lot of power to destroy people’s lives. And that unscrupulous men like Mike Nifong are all too willing to abuse that power – with little of no risk of punishment for their abuse of power – honestly scares me.

I wish I had great ideas for reform. I don’t. But perhaps District Attorney should not be an elected office. They often get elected on the basis of “I’m going to get those fill in the blank” campaigns. That’s certainly what has happened in Durham County.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

No Safe Place: “Interpretation” and Trust (and the Archbishop of Wales)

Being at the mercy of people you cannot trust is no safe place to be.

Those who “interpret” everything to get their way regardless of the clear meaning of what is being “interpreted” cannot be trusted.

Those two statements cover a lot of ground. But in the interests of keeping this post short and readable, let’s take those as given. (Those who disagree are welcome to say so. Comments are welcome and desired, especially in this “No Safe Place” series.)

Liberal church authorities have time and time again shown themselves to be people who “interpret” not only scripture, but church constitutions, directives, and more to their own ends. I put “interpret” in quotes, because it’s really twisting or even ignoring.

It’s like an erstwhile teenage son. Dad tells him he has permission to drive the second car only to school and back. But Dad later notices the odometer on the said car has gone up 2000 miles in 10 days. He confronts the son, who then says, “You didn’t say what roads to take.”

That’s an interpretation problem . . . that is actually a trust problem.

When you have church leaders who act like that son, you really have a trust problem.

One such church leader is the Anglican Archbishop of Wales. His recent presidential address is the case in point. He served on the Windsor Commission and says the Episcopal Church is complying just fine with the Windsor Report:

As a member of that Commission, we did not have in mind a covenant that was prescriptive and detailed and intrusive. What we did have in mind was what ECUSA did at its convention in July when:
_ It re-affirmed its abiding commitment to the fellowship of churches that constitute the Anglican Communion and sought to live into the highest degree of communion possible.
_ It reaffirmed that it was in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.
_ It went on to make a commitment to the vision of inter-dependent life in Christ, characterized by forbearance, trust, and respect, and commended the Windsor Report and process as a means of deepening understanding of that commitment.

I won’t do into details of Windsor, but ++Wale’s interpretation of it would be laughable if it weren’t a betrayal of the long suffering of those who have patiently allowed the Episcopal Church three long years to comply with the Windsor Report only to see the travesty of General Convention ’06. Further, his speech completely ignores the Primates’ application of the Windsor Report, namely the Dromantine Communique, as Matt Kennedy points out.

In short, the method here goes like this: TEC isn't in keeping with Windsor/Dromantine? Well, just ignore Dromantine and reinterpret Windsor and, voila!, TEC is complying just fine!

An all too familiar variant goes thus: Has the Communion clearly stated that your innovation and your persistence in it are unacceptable, out of line with the mind of scripture and of the Communion? Just go ahead anyway and interpret it as "conversation" that’s part of the “process” of “dialogue”. Oh, and say nice things about your supposed “commitment to the vision of inter-dependent life in Christ, characterized by forbearance, trust, and respect” and the like while you’re at it.

We shouldn’t be surprised at such “interpretations” that provoke distrust. At least not anymore. It’s like a bad movie that keeps showing up on cable. And the unpleasant, repetitive plot is this: if one acquires the habit of twisting God’s word, one will be soon be willing to twist and say just about anything.

At the risk of understating the obvious, it's very hard to trust church leaders who act in this fashion.


And should you have the misfortune of having such church leaders in authority over you, you are in a precarious place. For if they wish to twist, say, a church canon to kick your congregation out on the street and take your property, they may well do just that if they can get away with it. And if they wish to ignore or reinterpret past church policies of tolerance toward orthodox views, they’ll do that, too.

I hope none of you are so foolish to entrust your car to a son who acts as above and has not repented. Why then entrust your congregation to church leaders who violate trust by using similar methods of “interpretation”?

Epilogue: Thanks be to God, the Archbishop of Wales’ viewpoint and methods of interpretation are unlikely to prevail in the Anglican Communion as we know it. So I am not saying the Communion is no safe place.

Also, I want to spell out that I’m not necessarily talking about willful dishonesty here. Postmodernism, deconstructionism and the rest have so clouded people’s ways of thinking and made truth so inaccessible that some could act in completely untruthful and untrustworthy ways without intending to. In short, some wouldn’t know the truth if it bit them on the mitre.

It’s not completely unlike the young child whose mind is so clouded by his weak, unformed grasp on truth that he believes his own lie. I remember telling my mom that a babysitter, not me, took a crayon to a white vinyl couch. And in a way, I believed it.

Nevertheless, statements such as the Archbishop of Wales’ engender distrust. And should leaders such as him gain control of a church, it becomes no safe place for the orthodox – as I’m sadly sure events will give me ample opportunity to illustrate in the future.
Latin, as the Lord Intended

There’s been rumblings about this for some time. And it’s been allowed in at least some jurisdictions for years. But, according to Ruth Gledhill, Pope Benedict is about to expand the old Latin Tridentine Rite in a big way.

If so, this would answer the fervent prayers and desires of many. Note the headline on this blog. :)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tinfoil Hat Alert: 42% think Bush is manipulating gas prices.

According to a new Gallup poll, 42% of respondents agreed with the statement that the Bush administration "deliberately manipulated the price of gasoline so that it would decrease before this fall's elections." Fifty-three percent of those surveyed did not believe the conspiracy theory; 5% said they had no opinion.

Yeah. And he’s behind 9-11, the Kennedy Assassination, the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa . . .

Wear a tinfoil hat and read more here.
No Safe Place: Another Example of the New Orthodoxy and Your Sin

A week ago, I gave you an example of how the new liberal orthodoxy considers traditional moral views sins against people’s identities and therefore intolerable.

Here’s an example that’s even more textbook. Note this paragraph:

Christians are now using Biblical texts to deny lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people their full dignity as people created by God who share equal dignity with heterosexuals. Prejudice led gay men to be incarcerated alongside the Jewish people in the Nazi extermination camps. Prejudice is now being used to justify an inferior status for LGBT people in the Anglican Church.

It’s all there – the politicization of morals along the lines of identity and oppressed status and the demonization of traditionalists and their moral views. For the traditionalists allegedly continue oppression against people’s identities.

Once this crowd gains control, as they have in many parts of mainline churches, do you think they will accommodate those they consider in the same class as Nazis?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

BBC Choral Evensong 80th Anniversary

Those who share my love of Anglican choral music will want to tune to BBC Radio 3 tomorrow. To celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the first broadcast of Choral Evensong on BBC, the live broadcast will be from Westminster Abbey tomorrow.

Westminster’s choir is good. I’ve enjoyed them both on the radio and in person. So I’ll be listening. The broadcast starts at 4pm UK time Wednesday, which is usually 10am Dallas time. BUT the U.K. switches back out of daylight time soon. So that might mess that up. But if you miss it for whatever reason, you can hear a rebroadcast for a week as always.

BBC’s Choral Evensong played a significant role in turning me on to both Anglican liturgy and choral music. So a tip of the hat goes out to them on this 80th anniversary.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Thoughts on Bishop Duncan’s Letter

On Friday, I hurriedly got Network Leader +Duncan’s pastoral letter out to you (and scooped some much larger blogs, heh heh). Now I have some brief and to-the-point thoughts.

This was the letter that needed to be written. The Network needed to do two things after Camp Allen and Kigali:

1. Make clear that the Kigali Communique with its proposal of “a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA” is the template, and, by implication, not the weaker Camp Allen statement.

2. Reaffirm that it is the Network that will lead, not the Camp Allen bishops.

+Duncan did both. On 1.:

…The leaders of 20 Anglican Provinces (out of 38 total Provinces and representing some 70 percent of the world’s active Anglicans) met, promising that Alternative Primatial Oversight would be provided, and that the Global South Steering Committee would work both with the leadership of the whole Communion and with Network leadership to work out the substance of such provision. Meetings to carry this pledge forward will begin within weeks.


From Kigali, the Global South Primates wrote the following words: “We are convinced that the time now has come to take initial steps toward the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA.” For all those “gone out” or “put out,” this gives shape to the longed-for day. For the Network deans and for the clergy and congregations of the Network’s International Conference, this is an urgent concern and answer to prayer.

Even by Anglican standards, that is quite clear. As far as the Network and a majority of the Anglican Communion are concerned, Kigali is the template and will be acted upon.

On 2., +Duncan is more subtle in his wording, probably to avoid offending non-Network allies. But in the midst of his positive evaluation of Camp Allen, he still states, “The Network has been ten dioceses standing together, and we will continue to stand as we have done.” And later: “The Network remains the domestic key to what is ahead.”

I think it’s safe to take this as a nice way of saying Camp Allen is well and good, but it’s still the Network that will lead.


Orthodox Anglicans therefore have good reason to be encouraged. +Duncan’s letter on top of the Kigali Communique gives that much more substance to the hope that “the longed-for day” of Anglican realignment is near.

And as a continuing Anglican, I’m particularly thankful Duncan is making a point to include the “gone out” in the immanent Anglican realignment.

Friday, October 06, 2006

BREAKING: A Pastoral Letter from the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network

6th October, A.D. 2006
Feast of William Tyndale

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

May the grace and peace of Christ Jesus be multiplied to you, and to all who call upon Him as Savior of the world and who serve Him as Lord of all the ages.

I wrote to you back in June expressing my conviction that a new day was dawning for all of us who understand ourselves to be faithful and orthodox Anglicans whether within the Episcopal Church or gone out from it. Three months have passed since I last wrote, and the evidence bearing out that conviction grows daily.

Seven Network Dioceses appealed for Alternative Primatial Relationship in July. The Archbishop of Canterbury responded in August, intervening (in classical Anglican fashion) by asking the principals to sit down together to see if some “American path forward” might be found. In September, that mediation took place in New York without achieving resolution. Shortly thereafter, the leaders of 20 Anglican Provinces (out of 38 total Provinces and representing some 70 percent of the world’s active Anglicans) met, promising that Alternative Primatial Oversight would be provided, and that the Global South Steering Committee would work both with the leadership of the whole Communion and with Network leadership to work out the substance of such provision. Meetings to carry this pledge forward will begin within weeks. An eighth Network diocese, having joined the Appeal of the other seven, will be part of that deliberation.

One of the things the four Network bishops meeting in New York (representing the seven, now eight, appellant dioceses, and meeting with the Presiding Bishop and Presiding Bishop-elect at Canterbury’s request) refused to do was to negotiate a settlement that did not provide for all of the Network congregations in non-Network dioceses. The Global South Primates meeting in September also signaled their concern for the most vulnerable in the U.S. situation. From Kigali, the Global South Primates wrote the following words: “We are convinced that the time now has come to take initial steps toward the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA.” For all those “gone out” or “put out,” this gives shape to the longed-for day. For the Network deans and for the clergy and congregations of the Network’s International Conference, this is an urgent concern and answer to prayer.

In September, Network Bishops met with a wider coalition of Windsor Bishops. This was a most encouraging meeting. Recognizing the local contexts in which we bishops serve, there was agreement that each of us would continue the hallmarks of our present differentiated leadership (whether Network or non-Network). At the same time, there was consensus about our common commitment to the Windsor Report and our assessment that the Episcopal Church had by no means made adequate response. Further, to state together our understanding that acceptance of the spirit and the substance of the Windsor Report was the only way for dioceses of the Episcopal Church to go forward in the Anglican Communion was a significant achievement, as was our readiness to express the regret that Report called for. The Network has been ten dioceses standing together, and we will continue to stand as we have done. Nevertheless, having twenty or, God-willing, thirty dioceses standing together as Windsor dioceses, committed to live within Anglican Communion boundaries and under an emerging Anglican Communion Covenant, should be a great sign of hopefulness for us all.

For all in the Network, the last three years have been monumentally challenging, but, as I said in June, the new day is dawning. The contours are not fully clear, but the fearful night is passing. The Global South Primates, writing from Kigali, acknowledged the role the Network has played. The Network remains the domestic key to what is ahead. Your prayers, your participation, and your support remain as crucial as ever they have been.

We have hung together, and thus have not been hanged separately. By God’s grace this will continue. Local needs dictate different courses through the troubles. It has been this way since the defining actions in August and November of 2003. Fear not! The Lord is sovereign and is Savior. Orthodox and faithful Anglicans can be divided from one another only if we allow it to be so. The present separations are temporary. When midday comes, the Lord will have put it all back together in the way He intends, if we will but not get in the way.

“Be watchful. Stand firm in your faith. Be courageous. Be strong. Let everything you do be done in love.”
(I Cor.16:13-14)

Faithfully in Christ,

+ Bob Pittsburgh
The Rt. Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan
Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network

Thursday, October 05, 2006


A non-profit I direct, GK Ministries, is giving out cash grants to excellent youth ministries that happen to have cash issues.

Are you involved in ministry to youth? Do you have some good ideas for your ministry, but the money just isn't there? Then I want you to apply for these grants. Both church and parachurch groups are welcome to apply.

To apply for a grant, write me, tell me about your ministry, and tell me how you would use the grant. And do so before the deadline of November 20th, 2006. You can write me at my e-mail of mark at godknows99 dot com or you can use snail mail: Mark Marshall, P.O. Box 18908, Corpus Christi, TX 78480

In addition, I'm giving away books. If your church or ministry can use my book God Knows What It's Like to be a Teenager, but just doesn't have the money to buy a bunch of books, let me know. You can find out more about God Knows What It's Like to be a Teenager here. (Do be aware I wrote it in my pre-Anglican days.)
More on The Tragedy of BDS

I’ve recently written on the scourge of BDS, Bush Derangement Syndrome, and the tragic effects it has on our liberal/left friends.

Now it appears BDS is even worse than previously thought. It has been discovered that it mutates rapidly. There’s already another form of BDS: Benedict Derangement Syndrome. To see its devastating symptoms, look at just one victim, Matthew Fox.

As you can see, victims of BDS need our help. You can make your check out to me, and I’ll scam some big money out of this make sure it gets to the right people me.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

No Safe Place: A Sample of the New Orthodoxy and Your SIN

I mentioned earlier in beginning this series that Richard John Neuhaus almost ten years ago saw the familiar churchly old orthodoxy being subplanted by a liberal new orthodoxy that is both aggressive and mandatory.

Opposing this new orthodoxy, especially in the areas of “justice” and identity, is an intolerable sin. Yes, I used the “s” word. Us traditional types tend to stereotype liberals as ignoring the existence of sin. But liberals usually do believe in its existence. It’s just that their idea of sin can at times be the polar opposite of the traditional view of sin.

Further, much of traditional orthodoxy falls into their categories of sin. For a sample of that, read proposed resolution number 4 for the Diocese of California:

Resolved, that the 157th Convention of the Diocese of California commit the Diocese to listen to the stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and directs Oasis/California, the diocesan LGBT ministry, to develop and implement a diocesan-wide listening process in 2007 with the support of Diocesan Council; and be it further

Resolved, that this process include: a report to the 158th Convention with recommendations to address heterosexism in our diocesan culture and institutions, and to assist congregations to embrace fully the ministries of LGBT people; a recorded history of LGBT ministries in the Diocese of California; and a “truth and reconciliation” liturgy at Grace Cathedral to repent of the sin of heterosexism and renew our baptismal promises; and be it further
Resolved, that this process and report be offered to the appropriate Episcopal Church Center Staff and the Anglican Communion Office Secretariat as a contribution to the Communion-wide listening process.

I’ve confessed I don’t understand liberals as well as I should, but let me translate anyway: “If you have a traditional view that homosexual conduct is sin, YOU are guilty of the sin of heterosexism. We do not tolerate such sin. You must repent of that sin. And here’s our friends at Oasis to help you repent of that sin.” (Translation over.)

And note that the sin is described as heterosexism. I’ll venture to say it’s put into the same category as other isms like racism, i.e. it is a sin against an oppressed person’s identity, the very sort of sin the new orthodoxy detests – and seeks to eliminate.

If you think holding, and acting upon, traditional views of morality will be tolerated in such an environment for long, think again.

By the way, isn’t a San Francisco diocese confessing the sin of heterosexism kinda like a Texan confessing the sin of, say, cheering for the New York Yankees? Oh that’s right. Liberals enjoy confessing other people’s sins.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

No Safe Place: An Appropriate Collect

After I began this new No Safe Place series, I noticed that the collect for this week, Sixteenth after Trinity, is very appropriate:

O LORD, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, October 02, 2006

No Safe Place: "Where orthodoxy is optional . . . "

Last week, I looked at *ahem* aggressive property tactics in the Presbyterian Church and noticed out loud that they and other tactics against the orthodox looked all too similar to those in the Episcopal Church.

And reflection on those similarities has led me to conclude what I had suspected --- there is no safe place for the orthodox in those denominations.

This is an important issue as at least some orthodox think that staying and working within the Episcopal or Presbyterian Churches is a viable course. Whether or not these churches are safe places for the orthodox is certainly an important question in determining whether staying is viable or not.

With this post, I begin a series, probably open-ended, on that very question. As you can tell by the title, I will contend that neither are safe places for the orthodox.

But I am not 100% sure of this contention. Nor am I sure that such a conclusion automatically means the orthodox should leave. And these are important questions. So I welcome discussion, particularly from orthodox Christians who have wrestled with such issues. I want your comments.


I begin this series with Neuhaus' Law, promulgated in this First Things piece almost ten years ago:

Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.

When I first read that some time back, I just did not see why that is necessarily so (though I have always thought orthodoxy has to be the standard, not an option for the church). Don’t we see many churches today where orthodoxy is optional but allowed? And why does making orthodoxy optional necessarily mean its eventually banning?

But events seem to be proving Neuhaus right (again). Take, for just one example, women’s ordination in the Episcopal Church. When it first became allowed in the 70’s, it was optional. Bishops were expressly not required to ordain women.

But through various pressures, the number of Episcopal bishops who now won’t ordain women can be counted on one hand. And good luck getting ordained in many dioceses if you oppose women’s ordination. Good luck if you want to become a bishop anywhere. There is more than a little concern that a man who won’t ordain women may not be able to gain the consents to become a TEC bishop.

We are all too familiar with “tolerance” being thus intolerant. Neuhaus gives insight into why this is so:

When orthodoxy is optional, it is admitted under a rule of liberal tolerance that cannot help but be intolerant of talk about right and wrong, true and false. It is therefore a conditional admission, depending upon orthodoxy's good behavior. The orthodox may be permitted to believe this or that and to do this or that as a matter of sufferance, allowing them to indulge their inclination, preference, or personal taste. But it is an intolerable violation of the etiquette by which one is tolerated if one has the effrontery to propose that this or that is normative for others.

And that’s the rub. Orthodox Christianity practically by definition insists that truth is normative for all. It insists on what Francis Schaeffer called “true truth.”

And should that normative truth collide with liberal views of personal identity and justice, then liberal outrage and intolerance can really come out. Then we find, as Neuhaus points out, that the old orthodoxy has been displaced by a more aggressive “new orthodoxy” of identity and “justice.”

With the older orthodoxy it is possible to disagree, as in having an argument. Evidence, reason, and logic count, in principle at least. Not so with the new orthodoxy. Here disagreement is an intolerable personal affront. It is construed as a denial of others, of their experience of who they are. It is a blasphemous assault on that most high god, "My Identity." Truth-as-identity is not appealable beyond the assertion of identity. In this game, identity is trumps. An appeal to what St. Paul or Aquinas or Catherine of Sienna or a church council said cannot withstand the undeniable retort, "Yes, but they are not me!" People pack their truths into what Peter Berger has called group identity kits. The chief item in the kit, of course, is the claim to being oppressed.

And since the evil old orthodox oppress just about everybody, from Muslims to slaves to women to gays, at one time or another, they are in big, big trouble with the new orthodox.

More can and will be said. But the above are some of the dynamics behind Neuhaus’ Law.

A church where orthodoxy is optional may have the illusion of being safe for the orthodox. But events unfolding before us, particularly in the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches, seem to be proving that to be an illusion indeed.