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UK, US, Australian Orthodox Anglicans Blast Lesbian Bishop's Coming Consecration

UK, US and Australian Orthodox Anglicans Blast Lesbian Bishop's Coming Consecration

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue
March 23, 2010

FULCRUM, a Church of England group calling themselves "open" evangelicals - which by implication means that other evangelicals are closed - have issued a statement condemning the upcoming consecration of Mary Glasspool as Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles.

"This is a clear rejection of the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates' Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council. We believe that it is vitally important for the Primates' Meeting planned for January 2011 to go ahead, and that for this to happen the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church should not be invited to attend. Actions have consequences."

The terse statement was not signed, but Bishop Graham Kings, FULCRUM's theological secretary and bishop of Sherborne in the Diocese of Salisbury, is thought to have sent it out. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev. N.T. Wright speaks regularly at FULCRUM conferences and puts his materials on their website.

FULCRUM writers, like those at the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) in the US, have been the vanguard in maintaining that Episcopal Church presence in the councils of the communion are necessary, even as TEC moves aggressively to distance itself theologically and morally from the majority of the Communion. The vast majority of Global South provinces are in impaired or broken communion with TEC. GAFCON stands in contrast to the Lambeth Conference.

The FULCRUM statement, as far as it goes, focuses on the institution, but does not mention the Gospel or biblical teaching and happily advises Dr. Rowan Williams what to do.

By contrast, the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen made it clear that the national Church - TEC - has formally committed itself to a pattern of life that is contrary to Scripture. "The election of Bishop Robinson in 2003 was not an aberration to be corrected in due course. It was a true indication of the heart of the Church and the direction of its affairs.

"There have been various responses to the actions of TEC over the years. Some have been dramatic and decisive, such as the creation of the Anglican Church of North America, an ecclesiastical body recognized by the GAFCON Primates as genuinely Anglican. For others, however, the counsels of patience have prevailed and they have sought a change of heart and waited patiently for it to occur. Those who have sought a middle course may be found both inside and outside the American Church.

"This is a decisive moment for this 'middle' group. Their patience has been gentle and praiseworthy. But to wait longer would not be patience - it would be obstinacy or even an unworthy anxiety. Two things need to be made clear. First, that they are unambiguously opposed to a development which sanctifies sin and which is an abrogation of the word of the living God. Second, that they will take sufficient action to distance themselves from those who have chosen to walk in the path of disobedience."

Twelve of TEC's 18 Communion Partner bishops signed a statement disassociating themselves from the election of a non-celibate lesbian priest as Bishop Suffragan, declaring the action demonstrates that membership in an international communion of churches is less important than unilaterally proceeding with an agenda of sexual liberation. "We believe that this action is contrary to the best interest of the Episcopal Church and the health of the wider Anglican Communion. Where restraint has been respectfully requested by the leadership of the Communion, this action by the Diocese of Los Angeles is provocative, defiant and uncharitable."

"It is with profound sorrow that we, the Communion Partner Bishops and Rectors, express our deepest regret to our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion for the action of the majority of the diocesan bishops and standing committees of the dioceses of the Episcopal Church in voting to consent to the consecration as a bishop of a woman living in a sexual relationship outside Christian marriage."

While the statement said it was made in the name of "we, the Communion Partner bishops," it is signed by only 12 of the 19 diocesan, suffragan and retired bishops listed on the website. The statement is also signed by five rectors and one cathedral dean under the heading "The Communion Partner Advisory Committee."

Archbishop Jensen's crack at what he calls the "middle" group seems aimed at FULCRUM, N.T. Wright, New Wine Network and Communion Partner bishops raise the specter as to whether the CP bishops will finally have to admit that they cannot stop the Episcopal church train wreck as she has defiantly ignored pleas by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Dar es Salaam communiqué, Windsor Report and Dromantine Communique. Is it time for them to admit that it is over and to look for another avenue of protest? Will they ultimately be forced to accept the reality of the ACNA and that their future possibly lies there?

While it is not surprising that lesbian Mary Glasspool amassed enough "yes" votes from Bishops and Standing Committees, she is not the first and she will certainly not be the last. Is an openly bi-sexual or transgendered priest the next level of descent for the Episcopal Church in the name of "justice" and sexual inclusivity? What is clear is that all talk of a moratorium is dead on arrival. TEC is utterly committed to a revisionist agenda for the church that makes being an orthodox Episcopalian increasingly impossible to sustain. Henceforth TEC will observe no restraints or limits.

Mrs. Jefferts Schori is unquestionably committed to TEC going its own way, ignoring the Word of God and the teachings of Scripture and the history of the Church on homosexuality. She has shredded Scripture replacing it with a this worldly agenda of social amelioration and the devil take the hindmost.

The response, so far, from the Communion, particularly the Archbishop of Canterbury, has been lackluster at best. Calling the action "regrettable" is almost a tacit acceptance of what TEC has done and what it wants to do. It is clear he does not want to alienate this financially influential member of the Communion, though the question must be asked, for how much longer will that last? TEC is sinking in a sea of red ink, cutting back programs even down to eliminating the cleaning ladies at 815 2nd avenue, NY, NY.

The deeper question is what now becomes of the Covenant. This pansexual consecration sets the stage for a show down of international proportions. It is clear where TEC stands, but how will delegates to the Fourth Global South to South Encounter meeting react next month when they meet in Singapore?

TEC has crossed the line. While there is no momentum to oust her, Communion Partner bishops will be watching what happens to South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence in the coming months.

TEC has moved inexorably and fatally away from the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; she can no longer claim to be a Christian denomination by any measureable standard. One former TEC Anglo-Catholic bishop described Jefferts Schori as a Wiccan in her beliefs. He may be right.

If CP bishops seem nervous, they have every good reason. If Jefferts Schori continues her Alice in Wonderland policy of declaring a bishop guilty and then having a trial (Bishop Robert Duncan), Mark Lawrence will be the poster boy for how she will move against Albany Bishop Bill Love and perhaps other CP bishops.

The "conform or die" approach of the Presiding Bishop has a Stalinesque quality to it that is almost impossible to fathom. Dr. Rowan Williams' Chamberlin like appeasement style is ineffectual at stopping TEC's slide into the abyss and his calls for "gracious restraint" is clearly not working.

Jefferts Schori's softening up approach of sending in storm troopers like Dr. Frank Wade (South Carolina) and Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, to various dioceses has one purpose - to weaken the resistance of orthodox priests and parishioners and strengthen the hands of fence sitters, liberals, pansexualists and revisionists. Wherever there is a perceived weakness that can be exploited, Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson, backed by David Booth Beers are there.

With both money and the weight of the Dennis Canon still in play, Episcopal revisionists are moving steadily forward, penetrating the Siegfried Line of orthodoxy at any point they choose. Nothing can really stop them. Orthodox victories in Pawleys Island and possibly northern Virginia are heartening, but even there the fight is still on. Millions of dollars are being spent on attorneys with estimates now ranging from $20 million to $30 million, enough to fix the Diocese of Haiti two or three times over.

One blogger astutely observed, "With all that has transpired, there is no rational reason to believe that TEC, under its current leadership, will repent and changes its ways. There seem to be two possible courses: (1) bring the fight into the open with a presentment, or broad-based litigation against TEC leadership; or (2) walk away and devote time and energy to building an alternate Anglican presence in North America, i.e., ACNA. The former choice, even if successful, would in all likelihood leave little existing from TEC, and would be wasteful and destructive for all involved. It would waste time, money, and energy better spent on fulfilling the Great Commission."

Rick Warren was right when he said at a Hope and a Future conference, "You may lose the steeple, but you won't lose the people. Christ did not die for property."


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