Friday, March 23, 2007


by the Rev. Canon Howard Anderson, Ph.D.

[The Reverend Canon Anderson is President and Warden of the Cathedral College of Washington National Cathedral. He posted this reflection today on the House of Bishops and Deputies' listserv, and has given us permission to reprint it here. We are grateful for his contribution.]

It occurs to me that the Primates' ultimatum was a very seductive temptation to our Bishops. They said, "Ignore your polity. Ignore the clergy and laity. Take the power to yourselves. You are in a better position to know what to do than the deacons, priests and lay people. You are the Bishops. Act like Bishops and lead! It is reminiscent of the temptations that faced Jesus in the wilderness: "I'll give you all these (kingship of the nations) if you kneel and pay homage to me." And our Bishops replied to the Primates, "Get out of here! Remember it is written: you are to pay homage to the Lord your God, and you are to revere him alone."

At the risk of going too far, I think that the Holy Spirit, guiding the councils of the Church (among them, our General Convention) has called us to be the Body of Christ in the world and to be radically inclusive, as Jesus was. This was not an easy place for Jesus to be, dining with "sinners" and outcasts, making the Pharisees very angry and dismissive. (Remember they called him a glutton and a drunkard.) The Primates are angry and making demands on the Episcopal Church based more upon law than gospel. (I grew up among Lutherans who often used this juxtaposition.) Our Bishops held their ground. They said a polite, but firm "no" to retreating from where the Holy Spirit has called TEC to be, and the polity that we, in our post colonial period, found expressed our democratic bent.

I am very proud to be an Episcopalian. I am very proud of our Bishops.


Anonymous wayne said...

How many of those "sinners" did not have their lives changed as a result of their encounter with Jesus? (And why do you put sinners in quotation marks? Jesus recognized their need--the need of all sinners-- for salvation and provided it.) When people do not recognize their need for salvation--that their born or achieved condition absolves them of any repentenance and need for change--they resemble the Pharisees. Jesus recognized sin and broke its power over people's lives. He did not say we need to learn to love and accept it. The Episcopal church does no one any favor by embracing sin as a holistic approach to loving the person. If people in position of leadership fail in their responsibilities to maintain integrity in the church, their capacity to lead should be transferred elsewhere.

3/24/2007 12:50 AM  

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