The Bishops of the Episcopal Church are meeting in New Orleans, and the fractures are deepening.
Mouneeer Anis, the Primate of the church of Jerusalem, yesterday spoke to the American bishops. The bishops are gathered in part to make some sort of statement about appointing openly gay bishops, etc, as a response to the African bishops' requests for clarity on these issues. Finally, finally, finally, someone has stood up and spoken to the real issue behind the gay issue, and that is modern Episcopalian theology and how IT is what is at odds with historic Christianity. In part, Anis said:
"My friends, like you, we want to be relevant to the culture in which we live. More importantly, we want to be salt and light to our societies. That is not an easy calling but it means we must remain distinct and humble at the same time. Without being distinct we cannot be salt and light; without humility we will not represent the one who said, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” We are also continuously challenged whether we should allow the culture to transform the Apostolic Faith we once received, or if we should allow the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform our culture as it has in the past."In other words, you have capitulated to the liberal culture in America, and I'm nicely trying to tell you to wake up. He went on:
"My friends, you may believe you have discovered a very different truth from that of the majority in the Anglican Communion. It is not just about sexuality, but about your views of Christ, the Gospel, and the authority of the Bible. Please forgive me when I relay that some say you are a different church, others even think that you are a different religion."
And then this bombshell:
"We also deeply respect and appreciate our Muslim friends and value our interfaith relations while in no way compromise our faith. I have to tell you that many of these relations were severely strained after your decision to consecrate Gene Robinson as bishop in 2003. We are seen as the new heretics and this has hindered our ecumenical and interfaith relations as well as our mission in the region."It is hard for a people who are convinced they have found a truth from a god "who is still speaking" to be humble enough to submit to a bunch of ignorant , confessing Africans. Bishop Spong has said as much, and many of his liberal peers have agreed with him.
But it takes one's breath away to read about Mr. Robinson--the American gay bishop who is at the center of the worldwide controversy--speaking to the Archbishop of Canterbury. His rebuke came after the Archbishop told a meeting of bishops in New Orleans that they have to balance their gay activism with concern for the worldwide communion. This caused Vickie Gene to retort that '"for Dr Williams to present the situation as a choice between fidelity to gays and fidelity to the Communion is one of the most dehumanising things I have heard in a long time," and he wanted no part of it. See here for more of that story.
I think the worldwide Anglican conservatives are pretty clear about where the American Episcopalians stand. That relationship is toast. What remains to be seen is what the wide belt of fence-sitters--western conservatives and moderates--will do in light of the continued abrasive insistence on this unhistoric, unorthodox, rebellious direction TEC has taken. Check out The Midwest Conservative Journal for updates and somewhat sardonic commentary.