LIBERALS RIP ACTIONS OF VIRGINIA EPISCOPAL PARISHES, MINNS AND AKINOLA
By David W. Virtue
Liberal attitudes towards the actions of a dozen parishes that left the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church recently, reveals contempt so deep, that it says more about those who condemn them, than those who have departed.
Contempt reveals itself in such phrases as "congregational imperialism," "gay hating," "African Fundamentalism," "Meddling in the American Episcopal Church," while the ordination of homoerotic bishop V. Gene Robinson is praised as the high-minded actions of a tolerant and compassionate church, the breaking down of stereotypes and walls of homophobia equivalent to the emancipation of women to the priesthood.
The first blast came from Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson who wrote an article titled "Episcopalians Against Equality" in which he bemoaned, "Don't look now, but Virginia is seceding again."
He said the vote by the churches to leave was a protest "to its increasingly equal treatment of homosexuals."
Meyerson then took a swipe at Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola who is the new leader of the severing parishes saying "it must be a relief to finally have an archbishop who doesn't pussyfoot around when gays threaten to dine in public." (A bill currently being debated by the Nigerian Legislature addresses the topic of same-sex marriages and homosexual activism with a view to strengthening marriage and family life.)
Of course this is a complete caricature of the archbishop's views (he said no such thing). On hearing these accusations Akinola wrote to his new Bishop Martyn Minns and said that suggesting affiliation with a Church that seeks to punish homosexual persons is a complete "distortion of our true position."
"We are a Church that teaches the truth of the Holy Scriptures and understands that every person, regardless of their religion or sexual orientation, is made in the image of God, loved by God, and deserving of the utmost respect. That is the conviction that informs our passion for evangelism and drives our determination to establish new dioceses and congregations. We have no desire to place anyone outside the reach of God's saving love and that is why we have supported well reasoned statements such as Resolution 1.10 from the Lambeth Conference in 1998 and also the section of the Dromantine Communiqué, which condemns the "victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex."
Mr. Meyerson apparently never read the Nigerian archbishop's words and he is also equally unaware of what the Nigerian prelate and his fellow Nigerian evangelical Anglican Christians up against with a virulent Islam and Shari 'a Law that sees Western Anglican compromise with homosexuality as an opportunity to slaughter Christians.
Undaunted, Meyerson continued his contemptuous rant calling the alliance of the Fairfax Phobics with Archbishop Restaurant Monitor as just the latest chapter in the global revolt against modernity and equality and, more specifically, in the formation of the Orthodox International. "The OI unites frequently fundamentalist believers of often opposed faiths in common fear and loathing of challenges to ancient tribal norms."
Meyerson then takes swipes at Israel's chief Rabbi and Pope John Paul II saying John Paul also sought to build his church in nations of the developing world where traditional morality and bigotry, most especially on matters sexual, were in greater supply than in secular Europe and the increasingly egalitarian United States, and more in sync with the Catholic Church's inimitable backwardness. Now America's schismatic Episcopalians are following in his footsteps -- traditionalists of the two great Western hierarchical Christian churches searching the globe for sufficiently benighted bishops."
Meyerson rewrites Episcopal Church history by saying that the Episcopal Church owes its existence directly to the American Revolution; breaking away from the Church of England during the war and reborn as a distinctly American entity. More accurately The Episcopal Church formally separated from the Church of England in 1789 so that clergy would not be required to accept the supremacy of the British monarch. It kept the faith, it abandoned the monarchy.
Meyerson concludes his blast by saying that the founders of the church believed, within the context of their time, that all men were created equal. "Today's defectors have thought it over in the context of our own time, and decided that they're not."
This is nonsense. At no time have orthodox believers leaving The Episcopal Church ever denied the inherent, inalienable equality of all men (or women); what they have said is that certain sexual behaviors, if indulged in, can imperil your soul, and there is certainly no link between what homosexuals do between the sheets and the fact that some people are born with a different skin color, that is a false equation. Millions of African American Christians are appalled at the notion that the color of a man's skin and same sex attractions has any connection.
Wrote one blogger; "Yes, we human beings are "equal" before God. That means all of us -- including thieves, murderers, slavers, child abusers, drug peddlers. All together share with everyone everywhere a fundamental "humanness." Nevertheless, basic human equality does not require society or churches to approve equally all impulses and all activities of all human beings. The sadistic practices and HIV-spreading proclivities of the gay sub-culture assuredly do not entitle it to the "equality" suggested by this writer.
The truth is we are all children of God by reason of our birth and common inheritance with all humanity; we only become sons and daughters of God by reason of the New Birth. Mr. Meyerson would not understand that.
J. Bolton Maddox, a former professor of criminal-justice technology and a member of Christ Church in Spotsylvania County also took a hearty swipe at the fleeing parishes writing in a local newspaper saying, "The church simply needs to assert its authority and move on--bidding good riddance to the intolerant, who would damage the church's unity with their politics of hate. Don't let the church bell hit them on the way out!" Better still, he says, "padlock the doors and hire security people to keep them locked."
In another local newspaper editorial Nicholas F. Benton wrote in an article titled: "No Surprise To Us Locals" calling the actions Falls Church and Truro "in their faces" taking their churches into "a decidedly right-wing turn."
Benton interpreted Sunday's results in political terms, saying these believers represented "Republican neo-conservatives who'd taken over nearby Washington in the mid-1990s and who had begun flocking, along with their well-heeled patrons, from considerable distances to assemble at the Church to hear the likes of Ken Starr and hob-knob with board members of the Bush White House's personal favorite Weekly Standard magazine, that the church's leaders started making pushier demands on its neighborhood."
Now whatever the political affiliations of these folk might be, it is false to interpret the events and voting as having "political" implications. These are orthodox Christians for whom sound doctrine and equally sound morals are the besetting issues not whether they voted for Bush or anyone else.
Furthermore when I was the editor of The Virginia Churchman back in the 70's it was generally recognized that the southern half of the diocese was theologically liberal but socially (country club) conservative, while the northern half of the diocese which includes these fleeing parishes, were theologically conservative but socially quite liberal largely because of the influence of nearby Washington DC.
Benton then took a major sweep at both Akinola and Drexel Gomez saying, "...what is ironical and, indeed, disappointing about this row is that African and Caribbean blacks [lead by Akinola and Archbishop Drexel Gomez, respectively] are using the same perverse religious and cultural rationalizations to discriminate against [women and] gays that white bigots used to rationalize their discrimination against blacks not so long ago. If I were pressed, however, I would support Williams and bid good riddance to the Virginia parishes and any others that wish to pledge allegiance to a self-righteous leader who presumes God's ordination upon his bigoted religious practices."
If Mr. Benton knew anything about what has been going in the TEC for the past 30 years he would know that discrimination and bigotry has been the hallmark of the Episcopal Church's liberals and revisionists who have systematically beaten down, suborned and driven out orthodox Episcopalians using coercion and General Convention resolutions to get their will and way, and when that failed, used "local option" to override whatever it was they didn't like. The Episcopal Church's revisionists have voted for fornication (D039); said they could not support basic doctrines of the faith (B001) and not a single liberal today would now believe or affirm the necessity of the atonement for sin or that Jesus was the sole way to the Father.
"He [Akinola] sees himself as the spokesperson for a new Anglicanism, and thus is a direct challenge to the historic authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury," said the Rev. Dr. Ian T. Douglas, church missions' professor at the ultra-liberal Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass.
In an even more in your face statement, writer Astrid Storm wrote, "Good Riddance, The Episcopalian split promises a stronger church."
"Some Episcopalians, like me, are relieved that it has finally happened and are especially relieved at how it happened. In fact, it seems to me that this couldn't have happened at a better time, with better people, or in a better way. The Episcopal Church may even be stronger for it in the long run."
She then pins the break-up on Archbishop Akinola and his alleged homophobic statements and says these parishes were very much on the fringe of the wider Episcopal Church.
Fringe! They are evangelical Episcopal mega churches in a dozen dioceses representing tens of thousands of Episcopalians, nearly 120,000 to date and climbing, and who, for the sake of their souls protection have been forced to leave with tears and much discernment.
"If I had to bet on it, I'd even say Archbishop Akinola's power among Episcopalians in this country is quickly waning as of last Sunday," writes Storm. Quite the contrary. The newly anointed Bishop Martyn Minns aggressively birthed a string of mission parishes when he was rector at Truro, and there is no reason he won't continue doing just that for his new boss.
The Rev. William L. Sachs, director of the Center for Reconciliation and Mission at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Va., says that "since 2003 the Episcopal Church has worked very hard at listening to the Anglican Communion and trying to honor the Windsor Report and, in fact, there has been a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops."
Rubbish. GC2006 was a slam dunk against the TEC ever honoring the Windsor Report and the election of the uber-revisionist Dr. Schori to the church's top post, gives ample lie to Mr. Sach's claim.
Dr. Schori herself believes that these recent departures represent only a tiny percentage of the total number of Episcopalians in the Church. "We regret and grieve their departure, and pray that they may continue their journey as Christians in another home," she opined, but her message of reconciliation rings hollow in the light of fleeing mega Episcopal churches across the country and the possibility of an entire diocese leaving the TEC with seven more looking for commissary status with an overseas orthodox archbishop!
Walter Righter, the retired Bishop of Iowa and an ecclesiastical sycophant of Jack Spong, former Bishop of Newark, wrote on the HOB/D listserv, "at long last - standing up to the bullies is seen as a necessity. Now - let's watch and see what happens." Indeed bishop we will, and we will watch you and your liberal pals get your revisionist backsides kicked by Global South Archbishops who have the numbers and the power while all you have is money and Trust Funds to manipulate whom you can.
Righter concluded his remarks about the loss of numbers saying, "If you mean the numbers of Episcopalians, the answer is: nothing needs to be done about the numbers per se. We need to do the work of the Church and the numbers will take care of themselves. If we have to say balderdash, let's say it and take it from there."
But someone calling herself Diana Butler Bass argued in a Washington Post real-time online chat about the divisions in the Episcopal Church saying that the Two Party Paradigm did not fully explain the current situation in the TEC.
She said the two religious parties - Old-line liberals and radicalized conservatives did not represent all that was going on. She suggested there were five distinct groups with no "party" identity which she identified as "progressive pilgrims" and "emergent conservatives." These two groups tend to see "issues" like this one as secondary concerns to the practice of Christian faith and are more concerned with things like hospitality, living forgiveness, practicing reconciliation, learning to pray, feeding the hungry, caring for the environment, and maintaining the Anglican practice of comprehensiveness (being a church of the "middle way"). They may lean slightly left or slightly right on "issues," but reject partisan solutions to theological problems. Both progressive pilgrims and emergent conservatives are far more interested in unity than uniformity, and they appreciate diversity in their congregations as a sign of God's dream for humanity to live in peace.
Ms. Bass says these are new positive expressions of religious identity go beyond the old definitions of liberal and conservative. "If the centrists, the progressive pilgrims, and emergent conservatives can come together and offer their distinctive spiritual gifts in the midst of this conflict, I think the Episcopal Church may be able to move forward."
Well now if Ms Bass is referring to such organizations as Via Media and The Episcopal Majority she really doesn't have much of a grip on Episcopal reality. These groups are nothing more than fronts and shills for the old liberals and new revisionists. They are just dressed up differently with new names. Ms Bass is blind to such "progressive" notions that Via Media would like not for the Rev. Mark Lawrence to be given consents to be the next Bishop of South Carolina. Furthermore Via Media would either like to absorb or drive out the last vestiges of orthodoxy in The Episcopal Church (without the properties) and don't let the cathedral doors hit you on the way out. Perhaps Ms. Bass should have been in a Philadelphia court room last week to hear counsel weigh in on the venality of PA. Bishop Charles Bennison - a sociopath bishop, so vile, that most of his fellow liberals now want him gone...and Bennison would like Ms. Bass believe that he is part of the new paradigm of social justice and weird religious notions that are not remotely Christian. She could ask him about his Visigoth Rite and his pathological hatred of orthodoxy just for "progressive" openers!
Ms Bass says the new progressives reject old arguments, old policies, old stereotypes, and old ways of doing business. The truth is, those "old arguments" are the 'faith once delivered for all to the saints', the biblical proscription on sex outside of marriage and other mordant notions like whether women ought to be ordained and the even more radical notion that people need to be converted to Jesus Christ.
But the anger and outrage was not confined to the U.S.
Writing in the Jamaica Observer, "Travails of the Anglican Church" the Rt. Revd Dr Alfred Reid head of the Anglican Communion in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, issued a statement within a day of the development, distancing his local flock from the break-away.
Dr Reid then lashed out at Archbishop Akinola for what he said were his attempts to create a rupture in the Church by accommodating the two dissenting Virginia churches.
"Archbishop Akinola knows full well that the leadership of the worldwide Anglican Communion has been at pains to seek to deal in a holistic and timely manner with the issues raised ever since Robinson's ordination," Bishop Reid added, in reference to the appointment of the Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Revd Drexel Gomez, by the Archbishop of Canterbury to spearhead the search for resolution.
It is interesting to note that Bishop Reid did not speak for West Indies Archbishop Drexel Gomez who is thoroughly orthodox and who would certainly side with his brother Nigerian archbishop.
Perhaps Bishop Reid does not fully understand the far-reaching implications for the unity of the U.S. church, as well as the Anglican Communion beyond the borders of America.
By way of a sop to American conservative Episcopalians, Bishop Reid added, "Naturally, we also understand that the Scriptures substantially condemn homosexuality, and actions by persons like Gene Robinson create severe confusion in the minds of parishioners who are trying to follow the letter, if not the spirit of the Word of God. Jamaican Anglicans who desire resolution must know that there is no better time than now to get down on their knees in prayer for wisdom."
Even the Rt. Rev. Pierre W. Whalon, Bishop of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe and a one time orthodox believer, berated the actions of the Virginia evangelicals. Writing on the HOB/D listserv he said, "it goes to underline the truth, invariable across the centuries: schism is worse than heresy. Heresy can and should be countered by better theology, but schism is much harder to fix. The only one winning in the present situation is the Evil One."
In that case Athanasius should apologize to Arius for daring to suggest that his views were heretical.
An article "The problem of dissolution" by the ultra-liberal Guardian newspaper religion writer Stephen Bates, said that "Evangelical conservatives are using homosexuality as a dividing issue - and standing up to them is the only way to save the Anglican church."
This begs the question, who has been systematically destroying the Anglican Communion over the last 40 years? From Bishop Pike to Bishop Spong and every revisionist bishop in between and today, the faith has been under attack. It has been systematically undermined in at least 9 of the 11 seminaries, and from thence to the pulpits and down to the pews the faith has been ripped and torn in the name of the false gods of inclusivity, diversity and pansexuality.
Bates argues that what the conservatives demand in the name of orthodoxy is not Anglicanism but a form of congregationalism, inimical to the traditional authority of bishops.
Nonsense, writes the Rev. Dr. David Roseberry, rector of Christ Church, Plano and until recently the largest attended parish in the Episcopal Church which recently departed the TEC for Peruvian oversight. He wrote explaining his position on leaving and said this: "One of my base assumptions is that we will remain within the Anglican Communion. We are not structured as a Bible church or a "congregation rule" parish. We are a church that is part of a worldwide Anglican Communion. And, while the Communion is strained to the breaking point, there is still a lot of life and value in being a part of it. Christ Church has friends and colleagues all over the globe and even within ECUSA. I intend to keep my brothers and sisters in Christ as friends at home and abroad."
Roseberry says the best picture and the main reason why the ECUSA is being shaken apart is because it has no common understanding of Scripture as God's revealed Truth. "Many believe it to be a resource only... at the level of an 'inspiring word' for the church. I believe it to be the Inspired Word to the church. Therein is the fault line which causes the triennial earthquakes."
"I have always believed that Anglicanism, when followed and practiced in its biblical and historic form, is a reliable and powerful way of being a follower of Jesus Christ. Many of the tools and patterns and disciplines that other denominations deeply desire are already ours! We have them all: a prayer book tradition, ancient worship, reformed teaching, catholic heritage, Bible basics and church order. I want to be in an alignment that actually uses them to the fullest extent possible," he wrote.
Now, while the believing orthodox "minority" rushes for the exits, the canonical "majority" may soon see the door shut on them courtesy of the greater Anglican Communion! It would appear that that now, is only a matter of time.
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