I’m going to go out on a limb (or is that a branch?) here and question whether the recent spate of “division” language in the press over “gay bishops” is actually coming from 815’s media campaign.
We see it again here in the Atlanta Constitution today and I am guessing that the legal apparatus at 815 have read the writing on the wall and to continue to assert that that there is no division when clearly there there is appears to be ludicrous. Even Christopher Hitchens knows that there is a division.
Could it be though that such denials to the contrary will also jeopardize their costly lawsuits, or in particular, a certain lawsuit? Again, I’m going to put this up and ask you to read it very carefully over the next couple of days. The Episcopal Church continues to assert in court that if there’s a division TEC will be the one who decides there is a division, not the “dissidents.” That has seen almost humorous until developments in recent days when it looks as though TEC acknowledge there is indeed a division (just as they appear to be telling the national and international media themselves) – only it’s not over biblical authority and prophetic revelation, but is a “justice” issue for “full inclusion” of the “baptized.” Will the House of Bishops then be asked to show a “compassionate” response (rather than blast these unfortunate unenlightened ones off the landscape) and create a “branch” of the Episcopal Church, acknowledging that, indeed, there has been a “division.” Watch over the coming days how the word “division” is juxtaposed to “gay bishops” or “full inclusion of the baptized.” We may be able to guess where that is coming from.
As we know, the division is over core doctrine, the authority of scripture and revelation in the Anglican Communion. But that kind of division does not sell newspapers and one might think, some lawyers have told the bishops that it will not win lawsuits.
It is not pastoral responses, or complying with Windsor or the Dar es Salaam Communique, or deep concern for breaching the bonds of affection, or frankly, that Rowan Williams is coming so far for tea. One wonders if he is interested in being a party to 815’s attempt to use the House of Bishops to redirect the legal strategy of even a particular lawsuit, one which has to now deal with particular language that contains the words “branch” and “division.” Stay tuned. Here’s today’s Atlanta Constitution article. Remember what is the division is about, even Rowan Williams was clear about the division (“”It’s about the authority of the Bible,” he told the London Telegraph last week). But 815 may have other things on their mind, or at least the lawyers do.
Will the House of Bishops be asked to acknowledge that there has been a division? Will they then be asked to create a “branch” (led by the “Primatial Vicar”)? Is what is driving this strategy not the Windsor Report, or Dar es Salaam – but 57-9?
From the Atlanta Constitution:
Episcopalian church beginning to divide
Most prominent dividing line is whether the Church should ordain gay priests or bless gay unions
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 09/18/07
David Wardell no longer cares what the American Episcopalian bishops do when they meet in New Orleans today.
The bishops are facing a deadline from world church leaders to back off approving gay bishops or blessing gay unions, or else face possible breaks in communion with the larger church.
That no longer bothers Wardell and more than 100 other former members of Saint Andrew’s in the Pines in Peachtree City because they left the Episcopalian church in February and aligned themselves with a Nigerian bishop. Their new congregation is called All Saints Anglican Church.
Three other metro Atlanta congregations operate under the authority of a Bolivian bishop.
Episcopalians (Anglicans, in other countries) across the U.S. are joining more conservative foreign church provinces and forming their own organizations because they believe American church leaders are sliding into irrelevance and sin.
“They are just changing scripture to, like, anything goes,” Wardell said.
Episcopalians are the latest denomination to be divided in the struggles over whether believers adhere to traditional understandings or more liberal interpretations of the Bible and person of Jesus.
The most prominent dividing line between the sides is whether the Episcopalian Church should ordain gay priests or bless gay unions.
American Episcopalian leaders went against worldwide church policy in 2003, when they ordained the openly gay Rev. V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. Ministers have blessed gay unions.
World Anglican leaders disapproved the action and gave the Episcopal Church to Sept. 30 of this year to get in line with church decrees, which say gay bishops should not be ordained and that marriage is between a man and woman.
Because national churches, called provinces, are autonomous, world leaders have little power to apply discipline other than to disassociate themselves from the offending organizations.
Some predict more Episcopalians will peel away from the American church unless American bishops back off the gay issues this weekend.
And it does not appear the bishops will do that, said David Hein, chairman of the religion department at Hood College in Maryland and author of a book on the history of Episcopalians in the U.S.
“As far as I can tell, they will take themselves out of Anglican communion and be, in effect, one very tiny American sect (Episcopalians are about 2.3 million of 77 million Anglicans worldwide.) And they will probably drift farther and farther to the left without the ballast of the Anglican communion,” Hein said.
Bishop J. Neil Alexander of Georgia remained hopeful Episcopalians will be able to avoid a break in fellowship.
“I am always hopeful. In the last year I have attended several Anglican Communion meetings with representation from all around the world. There is a strong web of relationships…that transcend the disagreements of the present time.
“I believe that ultimately those relationships will continue to flourish and that we are already well on the way to keeping the focus of our life together on mission and ministry in the name of Jesus and for the sake of the world,” Alexander said in an e-mail to the paper.