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COLUMBUS, OH: The triumph of the New Episcopal Religion

COLUMBUS, OH: The triumph of the New Episcopal Religion
The Episcopal Church chooses to walk apart from the Anglican Communion

News Analysis

By Peter Toon

In one hour of work by the House of Deputies on Tuesday afternoon, there was a double triumph for the New Episcopal Religion, and a double punch in the face of the Anglican Communion of Churches.

First of all, two major requests of The Windsor Report were refused. The Resolution, which urged the cessation of the consecration of actively homosexual persons and of the blessing of same-sex couples, (but which also apologized to the Lesbian and Gay people of the pain they feel) was clearly defeated and thus it was not sent on to the House of Bishops. It is apparently dead - "apparently" because the House of Bishops could possibly revive this matter of the two moratoriums (on bishops and same-sex couples).

In the second place, the House decided to vote in favor of approving the election of Barry L. Beisner as the next Bishop of Northern California. This now goes to the House of Bishops for their approval or rejection. The significance of this approval is immense because, despite "A Minority Report" from the examining Committee recommending rejection because of his complex marital status, the House approved a man for bishop, who is thrice married and twice divorced, and married presently to a divorced woman.

So in the big, wide world, and in the Anglican Communion of Churches, the Episcopal Church will be seen, on this evidence, as the Church which has entered deeply - in fact is "living into" - modern sexuality where there is space for not only serial monogamy but also for same-sex relations. Further, this Church has declared that it is prepared to stay in, what is familiarly called, "the Windsor process," only on its own terms. That is, this province will not walk in line with the other provinces but will walk on the other side of the road and alone, unless the Anglican Church of Canada decides to join it soon.

To all observers of this General Convention, it is obvious that there is within the Episcopal Church a majority which is committed to the whole of the New Episcopal Religion. This Religion bases its ethics on the Christian tradition as that is interpreted and perfected through the prism of modern human rights claims. The effects of this are various, from accepting the ordination of women to the blessing of same-sex couples..

This Religion is also deeply affected also by therapeutic and psychological descriptions of human nature, so that there is great emphasis on self-worth, self-fulfillment and self-realization. Everyone is to love one another, respecting the identity and "orientation" of each one, and recognizing that the expression of human love is actually the presence of God as love. Thus in terms of the identity of God, it emphasizes the presence of God in and through the created world and within human life to affirm each one, "just as he or she is." Thus it tends to embrace pantheism or panentheism (i.e., the cosmos is included in God) or even process theology (i.e., God is, with the world, in the process of evolution).

To understand the essential nature and character of this Religion, and just how much it has moved away from the historic, biblical Anglican Way is to begin to see why the majority in the Episcopal Church desires to walk alone from the Anglican Communion, unless that Communion accepts the terms of the New Episcopal Religion.

Sooner or later those who hold to the traditional Episcopal Religion will have to decide whether they to remain with the dominant majority who embrace the New Religion, or to find a way to live in such a way as to be in communion with orthodox Anglican Churches overseas. One "orthodox" Bishop, John W. Howe of Central Florida, has already stated his commitment to the Episcopal Church as it now is, by saying that he voted for the new Presiding Bishop, and is inviting her to his diocese. What decisions will the other "orthodox" Bishops take? We must give them time to ponder and pray and not press them to act hastily.


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