Thursday, September 14, 2006

Outrageous Accusations

In a letter to the editor of the Charleston, SC, Post and Courier, retired Bishop C. Fitzsimons Allison writes:

The troubles facing the Episcopal Church (and other denominations) have to do with being divided between two faiths. A new religion has arisen that uses the terminology of Christianity but is a serious alternative to it. Oxford Prof. V.A. Demant in 1947 described it as "… an unsupernatural and unevangelical religion. It equates Christianity with good ideals. It attaches no vital meaning to sin, grace, redemption or to the church as a divine society."
This religion paid no attention to the psychiatrist Karl Menninger when he warned the churches about ignoring the essential human problem in his book, "Whatever Became of Sin?"
E. Brooks Holifield's "A History of Pastoral Care in America: From Salvation to Self-Realization" sums it up in his subtitle.
Individuals can be reconciled but these two faiths cannot. Those who are substituting good ideals for Christian hope are so unconcerned with Christian doctrine that they do not notice its prevailing denial among our leaders and seem undeterred by its shrinking numbers and repudiation by the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The churches that acknowledge the reality of sin and persist in their trust in forgiveness, redemption and salvation will not only survive but prevail.
Response by The Rev Thomas B. Woodward:

This piece makes me very sad. It simply is not true. While one may find isolated examples of what Bishop Allison asserts, moderate and progressive Episcopalians are quite serious about sin, grace, redemption and the Church as divine society. The self-styled conservatives and those who refer to themselves as "orthodox" have been distressingly silent about the sins which beset us as individuals and as a culture. I refer here to the evils of armed combat, of institutional and personal racism, of the greed and acquisitiveness which is eating away at our common life, of structural poverty, of the reduction of human sexuality to talk of body parts instead of Christlike relationships.

Likewise, we have not seen or heard much lately from the conservatives about grace or divine forgiveness or the Church as divine society. Rather, they offer more and more restrictions for membership in the kingdom and they offer ever more support for relegating to second-class citizenship some of the Baptized. We hear a lot of Paul and very little of Jesus.

I monitor several "conservative" Episcopalian or purportedly Anglican blogs, including TitusOneNine, Drell's Descants, StandFirm, and the (grossly misnamed) VirtueOnline. In their postings – and especially in the comments they allow on their sites – I see attitudes that would make our forbearers wince, if not cry aloud. There is such condemnation. Such outright hatred. I trust the dedication of many conservative leaders to the Church as divine society and to us being the very best that we can in Jesus Christ – but the blogs that surround us do not reflect the best that we need from conservatives to bring to our common life and the dialogue that is necessary.

The "ideals" of moderate and progressive Episcopalians are those of the Beatitudes, Matthew 25, the Sermon on the Mount, and a world redeemed through the Cross and made whole through our participation in the Resurrected Life of Jesus Christ. That has never changed. And repetitive rhetoric from "orthodox" leaders and blogmeisters cannot erase that commitment of moderate and progressive Episcopalians. I, myself, do not need to have anyone attempt to shame me or my faith with the words of Karl Menninger. Dr. Menninger was a frequent visitor in my home in Topeka, Kansas, and was responsible in good part for the spiritual formation of me and my brother, Pete, who also is a priest in The Episcopal Church.

My sadness in reading the words from retired Bishop Allison comes, in part, from his seeming reduction of sin to certain sexual acts which he does not approve. The Biblical vision of sin and redemption is so much more vast than that. We need to look to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and Micah, to Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Desmond Tutu, to John Hines and Jonathan Daniels and Sojourner Truth. In such company, James Dobson and Matthew Kennedy and Bishop Allison have much to learn.

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30 Comments:

Blogger nunnsuch said...

Well said. I read the letter on TitusOneNine and the first thing I thought is, "Who is he talking about?" I consider myself a progressive Episcopalian and I know myself as nothing but a miserable sinner, saved by the grace of God. My problem with the self-proclaimed orthodox of the Episcopal Church is not that their theology places a heavy weight on sin and redemption (Lord knows we live in a sinful and broken world, just read the newspaper headlines), but I can't by into a faith that seems - at least by the amount of bandwidth they give it -- to be more concerned about the sex life of Gene Robinson, by all accounts a good father, than children who live in traditional families but bear the brunt of abuse, neglect, poverty, lack of access to routine health care. It's not that they foucs on sin, it's that they selectively focus on sin. Even if I were to think that homosexuality was a sin, I think i'd have a hundred more on my list to work on before that one.
I am tired of being told I'm part of a withering church when I went to my notoriously liberal parish a few weeks ago and almost ended up sitting on the floor because the parish was overflowing with people; I'm tired of being told i don't care about sin when i fall to my knees and say the confession, sometimes in tears as the absolution is said; I'm tired of being told that we should not stress a social Gospel when I read Matthew 25:31-46.
I have learned much from by brothers and sisters in the conservative side of the church, but i will not let them get away with debasing my relationship with my Lord and Saviour becasue it does not fit their own experience.
Peace, Scott

9/15/2006 2:55 AM  
Blogger Thomas B. Woodward said...

I, for one, am very touched by your comments, Scott.

I, too, attend a liberal church -- and we are just beginning a capital campaign because there is not enough seating for the people who come. If this is withering, may we all be so blessed to wither!

9/15/2006 9:03 AM  
Blogger ruidh said...

(Retired) Bishop Allison has been around the bend for quite a while now. He participated in the irregular consecration of "Bishop" Murphy of the AMIA. This isn't the first such accusation by Bp. Allison and it won;t be the last.

9/15/2006 9:18 AM  
Blogger Dan Diego said...

Please, Rev. Woodward - you hold a position of leadership and should be more careful in the logic and reasoning you use. People's lives and souls can be materially damaged should you improperly influence them through either intent or carelessness.

It IS sad there are now two churches. It IS disturbing that so many feel alienated from their lifelong place of worship. But your arguements and accusations are not coherient:

1. "You sin too, so my sin is OK". Of COURSE you would not advocate this position when reduced to these words, yet this is the logical centerpiece of your writing. What solace can it possibly give you that those objecting to the sins of you or your friends themselves have sinned?

2. "Orthodox" folks are not orthodox at all - they sin themselves all the time". In your thinking, no one has the right (let alone responsibility) to comment on your our your friends' sins. But note the contrast: 'Progressives' disavow their own sinful actions and deflect scrutiny by pointing to the sins committed by critics. 'Conservatives' readily admit to their own sins while also taking a stand against unrepentant sinsfulness by others. Though generalization like this are normally not useful, this seems to be the underlying structural difference in the stands of the "two churches".

3. "B. Robinson's sex life is not our concern since there are so many other problems in the world". Of COURSE if B. Robinson had not taken a leadership position in the church, and of COURSE if he had not elected to publicize and promote his sexual proclivities, your position would be correct. I pray my own sexual antics never be printed in the N. Y. Times (nor would i defend them as non-sinful), and doubt you or anyone else has much concern for what I do at home. Since this does NOT apply to B. Robinson, your stance is simply not relevant to the matter.

Rev Woodward! It IS very sad so many feel so very alienated from their lifelong place of worship. We have traded feelings of alienation of perhaps 5% of the church population for similar feelings of perhaps 50% of the population. You may cite as 'friends' ANY well known religious leaders, list a littany of writers whose doctrines you in part accept, or chose to turn blind eye on your sins and instead pat your back with what scripture you chose to follow. Somewhere in your heart, though, you should hear some tiny voices or hold some nagging worries when you or your friends advocate or support re-writes of the scripture so it no longer is in opposition with today's popular minority lifestyles. Please consider this - and your real ability to influence the standing of actual humans with their maker, when you speak or write.

9/15/2006 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan Diego: Well said. It amazes me that so called "progressive" Episcopalians miss the point altogether. Over, and over, and over, again.

9/15/2006 4:43 PM  
Blogger nunnsuch said...

Anonymous, please be specific as to what point progressives miss over and over.

9/15/2006 6:27 PM  
Anonymous Bill Carroll said...

Tom,

I almost wrote a similar response on T19, but I decided not to. The good bishop's argument is ludicrous and not worth responding to on its merits. The only reason why we must respond is that some, despite all evidence to the contrary, seem to believe it.

There are theological differences. Most of them concern the control and punishment needs that most conservatives seem to think God has. I don't believe in that kind of God. If that looks like a denial of the doctrine of sin, then so be it.

It is obvious that sin pervades our world thanks to the misuse of human freedom. That there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ is an article of the Apostles Creed. I recognize my own sin but stand forgiven. Whenever I doubt this, I remember that I am baptized and that Jesus died and rose again.

There may be some who deny the doctrine of sin. This is not the belief of the majority of progressives and moderates in the Episcopal Church.

Thanks for a fine piece.

Bill

9/15/2006 7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nunnsuch: I'm going out on a limb to assume you are what in an uncharitable moment I would call a wild-eyed liberal who thinks he or she is a moderate. I'm going to add, in the Seinfeldian sense, "Not that there's anything wrong with that."

Let me tell you what a true moderate believes and let me tell you that this belief draws fire from wiled-eyed "progressives" and wild-eyed "conservatives." I hold the position-- which to me is Biblicly sound, I'm going to present. And let me tell you, I find myself more lonely than any liberal or conservative.

1) I believe that it is okay for a homosexual to be a decon, priest or bishop.
2) I don't believe that Gene Robinson should have been elected a bishop, due to issues I have with his beliefs.
3) His election was really a referendum on homosexuality and it should not have been.
4) But he's elected Bishop, what are you going to do?
5) You get this thing from the AC called the Windsor report and it asks you to stop electing homosexual bishops.
6) Logically, what should've happened is this: At GC 06 the church should've passed a very simple resolution that stated the U.S. Church will not elect anymore non-celebate homosexual bishops, FOR THE TIME BEING. The resoution should also specify a definition of "The time being."

7) No, that's not exactly what the Windsor report asked, but in reality GC did not do what the Windsor report asked anyway and presented an embarrasing piece of legislation that a lot of poeple are trumpeting as a triumph of the diverse center.

The loony left is crying, "All or nothing," and "No turning back." Well, folks, somebody's got to give an inch and when that happens the other side, as tempting and easy as it may be, better refrain from taking the extra mile.

By holding the above position I don't think I can rightfully claim to be a "moderate" either. It seems I hold a very distinct THIRD position. So you see, Nunnsuch, its all about PROCESSS.

9/15/2006 8:26 PM  
Blogger bls said...

What an amazing conversation.

I don't agree, Anonymous, that what Dan Diego said was "well said" at all. It's simply the same old line about the sinfulness of homosexuality, from somebody who hasn't thought the issue through at all. Totally standard fare, the same thing that's been repeated over and over and over again for the last 40 years; I can't imagine what you find so admirable.

I will agree that the "liberal" side doesn't talk about sin in the same way that the so-called "orthodox" do. The "liberals" see sinfulness through the eyes of the social gospel; the so-called "orthodox" see sinfulness through the lens of the personal. I'll even agree that "liberals" are missing out on quite a lot by doing this; they need to reclaim the idea of repentence on the personal level. And they do need to stop pointing fingers - but so do the "orthodox."

In any case, here's a possible reason that "liberals" (and particularly gay people) don't pay much attention to your hectoring about our personal sinfulness: what you say is wrong and harmful to us. I can tell you that once I finally stopped believing the so-called "orthodox" line that homosexuality was sinful, I could finally accept myself as a sinful human being. IOW, the Church's insistence that I was sinful for being gay meant that I couldn't ever get to the real nature of my sinfulness.

Here's the problem, though, with what Dan Diego said. It's very well encapsulated in this statement: "Conservatives' readily admit to their own sins while also taking a stand against unrepentant sinsfulness by others." We know this is about homosexuality; it's the standard line we've heard for 40 years. The problem is that a) it takes absolutely no notice of the reality of homosexual people, and (especially) b) it creates two sets of rules, one for gay people and one for straight people. And so the statement is inaccurate; the playing field is not level at all.

What you ask gay people to do is exactly the opposite of what you ask straight people. You tell straight people that they must commit in marriage for life, and be faithful to their family responsibilities; you tell gay people that they must leave their partners and thus shirk their responsibilities. You tell straight people that fidelity and monogamy and love are the very best of things people can experience, that God in fact wills these things for human beings; you tell gay people that they are wrong.

So when you claim that the so-called "orthodox" are working on the same set of rules as the gay person when it comes to sin, you're just plain wrong.

9/15/2006 10:21 PM  
Anonymous Bill Carroll said...

The last thing we need is a retrieval of the social Gospel. Too much bourgeois optimism. A good dose of liberation theology would be more nourishing. The baptismal renunciations include renunciations of social and individual sin. Both are important. The former is more central to the Bible and kills more people, but we need to look at the latter too. The problem with Christianity in the U.S. is that it becomes obsessed with private morality and leaves the big questions of justice, at the heart of the message of Jesus and the prophets, untouched. But we should not overcorrect and not address individual sin.

9/15/2006 10:35 PM  
Blogger bls said...

Well, in case anybody (else) wondered, I meant the "social gospel" in a general way. You know, as opposed to the "personal"? I kind of thought that would have been obvious.

But I do remember now why I can't stand "religious" blogs on either the right or left. It's never about religion; it's always about politics. What I can't figure out is why people in the Church don't realize that nobody's listening to them. We're all perfectly capable of accomplishing political goals through - gee - politics. I'm sorry to tell you - both "liberals" and "conservatives" - but the days when the Church had authority are over. What's going on now is basically just arguments about club rules.

The Church brings up the rear in any case, every time, and always has.

9/16/2006 12:20 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

bls, thanks for spending the time and "heart" to post what you did up there at 10:21. You wrote what I've often vaguely sensed but never-so-well articulated.

And, in reply to your 12:20a posting: Yes, I certainly knew exactly the distinction you were making -- simply seeking a shorthand way of distinguishing the "me-focused" vs. the "outer-focused."

Finally, a hearty "amen" to your prayer that we may move beyond politics and into the core work of transforming lives, and our world, and all creation. Thank you for that reminder. Now [sigh] how do we get on with it?

9/16/2006 1:01 AM  
Blogger bls said...

Well, sorry for my outburst above. I shouldn't let this stuff get to me, but it does.

I should note that I was making a generalization above, about "social" vs. "personal." Obviously Scott above is a progressive very tuned in to the personal as well as the social; one size does not fit all. In any case, I should add that I don't think it's a terrible thing in the first place to be focused on the social gospel; it's a very, very good thing, in fact. If I had to choose between personal and social, I'd choose the latter; we're commanded to do look after our neighbor. But we don't have to choose. I belonged to a "liberation theology" parish for awhile and left it because I found I wanted equal emphasis on the personal, along with the social. So my point about that above is coming from my own experience. But again: I very much admire liberals for their emphasis on the social gospel, so it wasn't a slam.

I do believe, though, that the Church has to pay attention to the fact that it just doesn't speak with authority to society any longer. 90% of Catholics ignore the Vatican on birth control, for instance; it's also been shown that evangelicals live lives that are basically no different from those of their non-churchgoing peers in most ways. So I think it behooves us to figure out just what we're for, and frankly I'd say it's to put people truly in touch with God. We don't need political instructions or social control mechanisms; we need a spiritual life, one centered in Christ - and it wouldn't be a bad idea to bring back some deep theological/philosophical (and yes, even political) discussions, either. We could corner the market on these things, in fact, since nobody else does them.

Thanks, Lisa. Prayer is a good idea.

9/16/2006 10:44 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

bls said: So I think it behooves us to figure out just what we're for, and frankly I'd say it's to put people truly in touch with God.

A stunning insight for me, bls! My parish is in the midst of a self-study, exploring several new initiatives, and very actively exploring questions of goal and mission. Your statement really says it for me. What we need to do is provide the kind of "space" in which people can experience God – not just hear about God. Because my own experience tells me that once that happens, attitudes and behaviors do change. Inevitably. Inexorably. This being a blog and not a confessional, I won't talk about the details. I simply know that my ways of thinking and acting changed when I began truly to know God.

I believe that's part of what I find so frustrating about those who still want to take over the Spirit's job – those who want to "convict" me of my "sin." (And, of course, they want to decide which sins to focus on, too.) How dare they doubt the transforming power that God has brought and continues to bring into my life? Perhaps that is the meaning of that puzzling sin of "blaspheming the Spirit."

Over here, Bill asks: if homosexuality is a blessing of God, is it sinful for me to believe it is not a blessing from God? If homosexuality is not a sin, am I unholy if I think it is? Of course, I haven't heard anyone say homosexuality is a blessing from God – any more than redheadedness or right-handedness is a "blessing"; these things just are. But, yes, perhaps denying the transforming power God has worked in our lives and relationships is indeed a sin against the Spirit who is at work in us.

Of course, I could be wrong …

9/16/2006 11:16 AM  
Blogger Thomas B. Woodward said...

Dear BLS,
I could not agree more if you are saying that traditional means of exercizing authority by churches, such as issuing edicts and pointing fingers, are ineffective and ineffectual in our culture. However, courageous witness to the best in our understanding of the Kingdom is usually more than welcome.
It is churches which have taken the lead in providing shelter to the homeless, advocacy for the poor, a vision of an inclusive society and witness to the power of pacifism. In my experience it is those on the margins of our life who most often turn to our churches for guidance and support. I think we are also the best in speaking to institutional and structural sin -- talk rarely welcomed but essential in our world. Jesus spoke of personal sin as well as the sin engendered by religious leaders and religious structures. He also provided us a vision of an inclusive kingdom.
Tom Woodward

9/16/2006 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Allen said...

That article makes me sad also. I happen to be gay, but also consider myself a faithful Christian and Episcopalian.
The idea of sin almost consumes some of my days. The thought of not loving my neighbors as they should be loved, of not giving the honor to God that He deserves, of not controlling my anger, not devoting enough time to helping the poor and needy, the list goes on.
I believe God created me as I am so any question about my sexuality was resolved within myself a long time ago.
I tried reading the conservative blogs mentioned for a while but the outright hatred present in those places was sickening, and tiring.
All I can do is place my faith in God and go on with life.

9/17/2006 5:52 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Amen, my brother. I hope you'll return here periodically and will find this a safe place in which to nurture and grow your faith.

Incidentally, if you want to "sign on" in support of what we're trying to do here and to receive e-mails from The Episcopal Majority, click on the Contact Us link (upper left sidebar) and send us an e-mail. You'll find our goals listed in our Welcome note, and news about our National Gathering in Washington, Nov. 3-4, is here.

9/17/2006 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If readers of this blog are not familiar with the writings of the Rev. Dr. Philip Turner (former dean of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale), they may find it helpful to read his "Moral Theology: Dodo or Phoenix?" at the Anglical Communion Institute website.

9/17/2006 8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, puh-leeze! Yes, I believe you can assume that the regular posters here are quite familiar with his paid-for-hire writings and those of the Guns-For-Hire at the ACI. And your point would be ...?

9/17/2006 10:05 PM  
Anonymous PewView said...

I mentioned Dr. Turner because he is a recognized scholar with over 30 years of teaching experience. The particular article is very long and covers a lot of territory, but in it he describes the traditional and modern views of the church in detail and without malice.
Probably the most important point of the study is that, after an inquiry into the three possibilities that determine "the foundations of Christian moral thought and practice,... it is neither individual sanctification nor social reform but the common life of the Church."
Hard to say if this is still possible to recover for those of us in the divded American Church, but if Dr. Turner is correct, that is our Christian obligation.

9/18/2006 7:21 AM  
Anonymous Bill Carroll said...

It's an odd argument, as you present it. I'm not sure Turner's actual piece is so careless, though I haven't read it yet.

The common life of the Church would be an appropriate starting point for any Christian moral theology and it would be intrinsically ordered to both individual sanctification and social transformation. I don't know how Christians could understand either without reference to the common life of the Church, though both clearly occur outside the Church, since the Holy Spirit works outside the Church and the Kingdom of God is wider than the Church. As you read him, Turner seems to be saying that the standard for Christian moral theology is in the common life of the Church, but not the Church that actually exists (a communion of autonomous provinces, which are increasingly divided), only in the Church that he wishes would exist but does not in fact exist. I doubt that Turner would be so careless, but perhaps he is. If so, he's in good company, since Rowan Williams seems to be making the same kind of mistake these days. I'll read Turner's piece and get back to you about whether I think he is also making it.

Anglican ecclesiology tends to favor the visible Church as it actually exists. Those of us who favor maintaining provincial autonomy are in favor of doing discernment in communities as they actually exist. The real question is whether the proposed norms of Turner, Williams, the Windsor Report, etc. have any claim upon the future we want to see for the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Anglo-Catholic, conciliarist fantasies do not bind those of us who have sworn to uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church.

9/18/2006 10:00 AM  
Anonymous PewView said...

I'll have to go back and reread the study, which had much to absorb for a lay person.
The common life of the church I understood to be the point of departure for moral reflection...the way we live together..which is, in his view, the most faithful to the Biblical witness of the three possible foundations.

Dr. Turner's article was merely a suggestion for discussion.

9/18/2006 4:42 PM  
Blogger Marshall said...

pewview:

I'm not offended that you suggested it. Since I'm working on a workshop on ethics and moral theology for postulants in my diocese, it's grist for the mill.

At the same time, I would suggest articles in Anglican Moral Choice from Cowley Publications, edited by Paul Elmen. One thing that seems apparent to me from those articles is that the earliest issue in theology, and therefore of moral theology, in the Anglican tradition is incarnational, and what it means to be the Body of Christ in the world. What also becomes clear from those articles is that the question of whether to see that in institutional/social issues or to see that in individual/personally moral issues dates back to at least the second generation of Anglican theologians. One could imagine from the early '80's publication date that the material would be dated. In fact it's been a good review. I could see the dynamics the various authors described lived out clearly in the House of Deputies.

9/18/2006 8:35 PM  
Anonymous PewView said...

Marshall, thank you for your recommendation. One of the reasons I brought up Dr. Turner's article is because it is available on the web. He does spend some time on representative theologians for the three "possibilities" for a foundation for moral theology: John Cassian for "individual sanctification," Walter Rauschenbusch for the social gospel and John Howard Yoder for the common witness of the Church.

I'm sure the priests in this group are well familiar with these theologians, and I'm definitely out of my league here. But it seems that we have had examples of individual sanctification through the elevation of "prophetic witness," and with Bishop Schori's focus on the Millennium Development Goals we will have the social gospel element, but as far as the common witness of the Church is conerned, I'm sure the Deputies would agree we're not doing very well. In this, I think the Bishops have let us down.

9/18/2006 10:42 PM  
Blogger Grace said...

Father Tom or anyone that wants to comment,

Why are you feeling that Bishop Allison feels in this way? Obviously, he must have extensive experience in the church. I know from sharing with the folks over at Stand Firm that they seem to feel in the same matter. One woman has just shared with me her personal experience with those teaching in the church who for instance, do not feel, that Jesus Christ is the unique Savior of the world.

Lutherpunk has shared over on his blog theological concerns he has in the ELCA with those who tend to accept a more gay affirming position.

There just seems to be this link with heresy that I think people are more concerned about than anything. Why do you feel this is the case, and what can be done about it in all our mainline denominations?

Speaking for myself, I've come to a pro-gay position, and I'm totally othodox and evangelical in the faith. I'm Lutheran, but also studied at Gordon-Conwell to give you an idea of where I'm at theologically.

I just feel that until this whole situation is resolved, we can make little headway among the evangelicals or the othodox. Do you have any insights or ideas?

Thanks so much, and God bless!!

9/19/2006 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Prior Aelred said...

If I do not stray too far afield, might I commend "The Moral Choice" by Dan Maguire?

I find it by far the best book about ethics for our time that has been done.

As to Bishop Allison's comments, it is all so sad. All sin seems to have come down to sex and all sex seems to be sin. Can we imagine that in earlier ages gluttony was considered far more heinous than fornication?

9/19/2006 9:40 AM  
Anonymous David Huff said...

Fr. Bill wrote, "The problem with Christianity in the U.S. is that it becomes obsessed with private morality and leaves the big questions of justice,..."

Heh, well I'd add "obsessed with (the) private morality of others..." Somehow that obsession with private morality just never seems to get reflected back in the mirror in any meaningful way (not that there isn't a lot of melodramatic beating of breasts & rending of garments when the camera's rolling ;)

In an odd way, I suspect that the problems of both "progressive" and "neo-conservative" Christianity in the rich, well-fed Western world arise from a similar sense of privilege and entitlement...

9/19/2006 11:27 AM  
Anonymous PewView said...

What brought me to this website was Fr. Woodward's article "Simple Solutions," and particularly his list of controversial issues which have not split the church thus far.
I wrote that I thought the Church's position on abortion was its most serious moral problem because it had used its resolutions for public advocacy rather than keeping them "in house" for pastoral guidance. By going public, the Church is obliged to treat a woman's choice as morally neutral so that it has not been able to speak about the unborn in the public forum.

Because there have been several references sources of Christian ethics and because the Church's abortion policy is part of the Episcopal Majority's identity, I would be interested in any comments on this subject.

9/20/2006 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Bill Carroll said...

Grace,

I'm just about where you are. I think that the connection of the self-proclaimed orthodox to policies of exclusion is the mirror image of what you are talking about. When people tie the two together, those who know by experience that God loves her lgbtq children might feel compelled to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I think the best apologetic for the Christian faith in our day and age is to show how following Jesus as unique Son of God, Lord, Savior, etc. leads to a Christ-like, inclusive way of life.

In my experience, most members of the pro-inclusion camp can profess the Nicene Creed with integrity. No pun intended. I for one am wary of those who would go heresy hunting, because I think their attitude harms the cause of Christ before a watching world.

If we have confidence in the truth of our faith, we have less need to be threatened by those who disagree, even if they are (or claim to be) within the Church. Of course, Christians ought to believe in the divinity (and humanity) of Christ, his resurrection from the dead, etc. I believe that most of those who question these beliefs are really rejecting the negative attitudes and behaviors of those who claim that their way is the only way to be Christian. Their allegiance to Christ and the Church shows that they implicitly confess with their lives what they may deny with their lips. At least in some cases.

9/20/2006 9:11 PM  
Blogger Grace said...

Thank you Bill. I can certainly see what you are sharing. If there ever was a method to cause people to run screaming away from the orthodox, evangelical Christian faith, some of these alleged "reasserters" have perfected the art. I am shocked by the unloving and ungodly attitudes that are shown by some(not all) of these folks. I can hardly think that they actually know the Lord. It is a scandal to the gospel.

Of course we all fall short, but we can only do our best to be a Christlike example as you've shared, and trust for the help of God's spirit in this.

I certainly appreciate your witness and ministry Bill. You're in my prayers.

God bless!!

9/21/2006 7:53 PM  

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