GC2012: The False Theology of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
This is a reflection on her sermon delivered at the United Thank Offering Ingathering, Festival Eucharist at General Convention July 8, 2012
By Sarah Frances Ives Ph.D
Special to Virtueonline
July 8, 2012
On July 8, 2012, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached her brand of post-Christian religion while masquerading as a Christian bishop. She mocked most of the crucial doctrines of the Christian faith, including the God of creation, the Incarnation, and the Trinity. She accomplishes this through her demeaning use of rhetoric. She taunts the Lord by the use of the name "Big Man" and then points her finger at everyone listening and tells them that they have "missed the boat." Jefferts Schori then proclaims that she has the answer for this. We all need the "act of crossing boundaries" to become God after which our hands become a "sacrament of mission." In this sermon, Jefferts Schori continued her mission of destroying the Christian faith through her rhetorical device of dismissive ridicule.
As seen in this sermon Jefferts Schori has decided that she is beyond the discipline of rational thought. She makes up fictional information about Jesus when she states definitively about his unknown earlier years, "He [Jesus] has never stood up in their synagogue before and said anything particularly challenging."
Jefferts Schori continues her fictional theology that Jesus wants us "to tend the garden we share with all the rest of creation." She also demeans the Roman Catholic Church in her reference to the toy "Nunzilla" that is a contemptuous stereotype of nuns as aggressive and mean. In a spirit of criticism, Jefferts Schori also lumps together without differentiation all members of the Senate and House of Representatives saying that people speak of the "contempt and arrogance they hear from Congress and other politicians." Jefferts Schori's contempt for others seems to know no bounds.
Indeed, Jefferts Schori began her sermon by destroying the idea of the eternal and omnipotent Lord of all creation by referring to him as the "Big Man." In an obviously critical reference, she understands our eternal God as a figment of the imagination of the patriarchs. Jefferts Schori also trains her guns on Jesus and demotes him from Son of God to a "prophet." Then she states, "When Jesus is called a prophet, it has to do with erasing the boundary between God and human flesh." To erase the boundary between God and humanity (which means that humanity becomes God) has always been considered a heresy. To become God was one original temptation in the Garden of Eden.
The Christian faith asserts that human beings are uniquely created in the image of God which is truly a great blessing. Jesus carried both God and humanity in one flesh as the eternal mediator for us sinful human beings. But Christian doctrine does not state that the boundary is removed between the eternal God and humanity.
But Jefferts Schori asserts that humans are to boldly cross the frontier to become God and by doing so denies the truth of the once-for-all Incarnation. Instead, we all become God and "start building the world that God intended at creation." Jefferts Schori presents the reality of God as so weak that the "Big Man" intended something and could not carry it out and so we becoming God are going to succeed where God did not.
It is now apparent that Jefferts Schori draws inspiration from Darwin's destruction of boundaries between the human being and animals. Charles Darwin erased the boundary between humanity and nature in his Descent of Man in 1872 by blending these two distinct groups together. For those who follow Darwin's thought, humans lost their position of being created in the image of God with an eternal soul. As the boundary between humanity and animals was erased, humanity becomes only one more species of animal.
As the holder of a PhD in science, Jefferts Schori would be aware of this and building on the work of Darwin, she has claimed for herself the role of erasing and destroying the boundary between God and human beings. Even scientists recognize that erasing the boundary between humanity and animals causes problems that are "confounding and vexing." (Pg. 11) Destroying the boundary between humanity and God is obviously more than confounding and vexing; it is extraordinarily dangerous as we all disappear in a dark sludge of nothingness.
American scientist Aldo Leopold wrote about the transformation in thought caused by Darwin, "We know now . . . that men are only fellow voyagers with other creatures in the odyssey of evolution." (pg. 8) In a similar fashion, Jefferts Schori ends her sermon with, "Go cross the frontier between heaven and earth-boldly go where Jesus has gone before-and invite others to go with you to help build the world that God intended at creation."
Jefferts Schori leaves a wide wake of destruction behind with this sermon: the eternal triune God has been torn down, human beings are to boldly claim our place as God, and the sacraments of the Eucharist and Baptism have been turned into things our hands make. In other words, Jefferts Schori accepts that now humanity, animals and God are one undifferentiated blob. This is essentially a form of solipsism, the belief that self is all that is known to exist. Anyone can see that this is both pure heresy and utter nonsense.
Episcopalians need to loudly affirm that we are created in the image of God and redeemed by the sacrifice of the Son of God, but no, we are not God ourselves and we are not erasing the boundary between God and humanity. That Jefferts Schori is encouraging humans to cross the frontier into becoming God should be immediately repudiated by all believing Christians.
For reference, see "Naturalizing the Boundary between Humanity and Nature" by J. Baird Callicott, Professor of Philosophy and Religion Studies, Institute of Applied Science, University of North Texas. www.clas.ufl.edu
Sarah Frances Ives lives in Washington and is a frequent contributor to Virtueonline
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