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NOTTINGHAM: ECUSA Shameless in Its Defense of a New Gospel

AAC: ECUSA Shameless in Its Defense of a New Gospel

NOTE: The Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) made a presentation yesterday before the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) designed to explain the thinking driving their decisions regarding human sexuality. The American Anglican Council has issued a statement in response to ECUSA's arguments.

By Cynthia Brust

NOTTINGHAM (6/22/2005)-- The Episcopal Church's presentation to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) asserts a new gospel marked by theology and doctrine contrary to Holy Scripture and inconsistent with the historic faith and practice of Anglicanism. ECUSA's statements were framed by specific arguments they have espoused for at least 15 years.

Their profession that the Holy Spirit led ECUSA to consecrate a non-celibate homosexual and bless same sex unions is deeply disturbing, and we reject the validity of such a claim as contrary to God's word revealed. Additionally, Lambeth 1.10 has expressed the mind of the Communion on this issue, and this positionstands as authoritative.

We note that even the theological arguments of ECUSA are based on experience (unchecked by the experience of the Church Universal), seeking to use Scripture to validate that experience.

In addition, the presentation failed to accurately describe the deep divisions within the Episcopal Church and the strong sense of betrayal, anxiety and grief experienced by tens of thousands across the nation.

While each presenter expressed a desire to remain connected to the Anglican Communion, they offered neither repentance nor a desire to reconsider their actions by seeking amendment and holiness of life in order to be reconciled not only to God but to the Communion.

Until and unless the Episcopal Church repents and conforms to the teaching of Scripture as well as Lambeth 1.10 (as called for in the Windsor Report 2004 and the 2005 Primates' Communique), how can ECUSA walk together with the Communion?

Each ECUSA speaker emphasized the need for listening and conversation regarding homosexuality with a clear goal of promoting a new pro-gay consensus on the sexuality issue within the Communion.

The Episcopal Church leadership clearly desires to impose a new doctrine of sexuality on the Communion as it did within ECUSA.

We urge the Anglican Consultative Council to recognize that in choosing a path of revisionism rather than repentance and reconciliation, ECUSA has indeed chosen to "walk away" from the Communion regardless of their rhetoric.

The Episcopal Church issued their theological arguments in a publication entitled "To Set Our Hope on Christ: A Response to the Invitation of Windsor Report Paragraph 135" (available on the AAC website). In addition, the seven-member team made individual statements to the ACC. We have highlighted some of the presentation components as well as commentary refuting ECUSA assertions:

* Same gender relationships have been experienced as "holy" in the Episcopal Church for over 40 years. (Roskam)

We would assert, however, that Scripture is to shape behavior rather than experience crafting and interpreting Scripture.

* The Spirit led ECUSA to consecrate a non-celibate homosexual and perform blessings of same sex unions. (Roskam and Battle)

We would assert, however, that it is blasphemous to suggest that the Holy Spirit would lead any Christian to accept or embrace doctrine or behavior contradicted throughout the body of Scripture.

* "...the inclusion of the Gentiles (Acts 10-15), has allowed us to interpret our experience in the light of the early Church's experience." In the same way God has given the Episcopal Church a vision for the full inclusion of homosexuals in the life of the church and for all orders of ministry. (Roskam, Battle, Russell)

We would assert, however, that Peter's vision (Acts 10) is a specific call to recognize one people in the new life in Christ (fulfilling God's plan of salvation revealed throughout Scripture), removing the barriers between Jew and Gentile. In light of the Council declaration of Acts 15 that explicitly included prohibition of sexual immorality, this cannot be interpreted as laying aside the moral boundaries for the Church in this area.

* Inclusion of homosexuals in ordained ministry is a justice issue on a par with slavery and the role of women in society as well as in the Church. (Roskam and Russell)

We would assert, however, that this is not an issue of inclusion but rather an issue of God's call to holiness and standards for Christian leaders, as Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said in his opening address to the ACC.

* Not only is homosexuality innate and therefore genetic, God designed and created a percentage of the population as gay. (Tully)

We would assert, however, that the origins of same sex attraction are complex and subject to much debate. It is not established that same sex attraction is innate, and it has certainly not been established that it is genetic. God cannot be understood as having created what His revealed Word defines as sinful.

* "God cannot heal us of what is not an illness." People may be healed of sexual addiction or abuse, but not of homosexuality. (Russell)

We would assert, however, that since same sex attraction is not a part of God's created intent, He will indeed provide healing and reconciliation following repentance. Current scientific evidence upholds the validity of healing and new life for those who have experienced same sex attraction and describes questionable at best the suggestion that same sex attraction is genetic.

* DEPO is working well in the US. (Jenkins)

We would assert, however, that it is ludicrous to suggest that Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) is viable in the United States. Reports submitted to the English House of Bishops stated that DEPO is widely regarded as inadequate. A number of US parishes have found that even requesting DEPO brings punitive treatment.

* "Conversations are holy, and we [in ECUSA] are better for it. Consensus can be built on an anvil of listening through the Holy Spirit. I believe such consensus will emerge in the Communion in time as long as we will engage in holy conversation with each other." (Alexander)

We would assert, however, that as exemplified by this statement, the clear intention of the Episcopal Church is to convince the Anglican Communion to embrace a new gospel. The suggestion that conversation between two mutually irreconcilable positions will result in consensus is incoherent.

* Despite the differences within ECUSA, those holding opposing theological views live together in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect and there is no reason why the Communion cannot do the same. The Episcopal Church is energized and thriving. (Jenkins and Alexander)

We would assert, however, that the logical conclusion of this argument is that unity is more important than truth. In addition, the picture of ECUSA painted is inaccurate.

The Episcopal Church is fractured and bleeding; punitive actions against the orthodox abound; and trust has been broken over and over. Additionally, data provided by the Episcopal Church itself demonstrates a church is disarray with a significant number of churches and individuals leaving ECUSA and dioceses experiencing serious budgetary shortfalls. It is most unfortunate that many other bishops representing a radically different view were not included in this ECUSA team.

END

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