Original at: http://mcj.bloghorn.com/74, Midewst Conservative Journal bloghorn
FRANKIE GOES TO LAMBETH - Realizing that his chasuble's going to have a bulls-eye on it at the October Anglican primates meeting in London, Frank Griswold frantically tries to explain himself:
(Original text of letter to his fellow primates in red.)
I write to you with a heavy heart, knowing that, in some instances, our bonds of fraternal affection and respect have been strained by an action of our General Convention: namely the consent to the election of the bishop-elect of the Diocese of New Hampshire. I am keenly aware that for many of you this is clearly contrary to a plain reading of Scripture, and in the contexts in which you live, it is unthinkable. Should you be of that view, our action would say to you that the Episcopal Church has gone beyond the bounds of what is morally acceptable. Which it has. Do go on.
This view, as you are aware, is shared by some in my own church. In fact, 18 of approximately 175 bishops in attendance at our General Convention stood to object to the consent to the election. I have been in contact with a number of these bishops, and in the days ahead plan to explore how we are called to live with divergent points of view in a way that will not undermine the mission we share. And what might that mission be, Frank?
It is difficult for me to know just what you may be hearing and not hearing about our General Convention, and I hope that it is not simply the urgent voices which speak of crisis or extreme pastoral emergency. Even though there actually is an "extreme pastoral emergency" going on right now.
The mission of the church was the primary focus of the General Convention, and one of the most important aspects of our work was a strong and clear acceptance of our call to be active ministers of global reconciliation. Funny. I thought our mission was to tell the world about Jesus Christ. Guess I ought to read Episcopal Life more often or something.
I am aware that some of our bishops and others are promoting the establishment of an alternative structure to the Episcopal Church, a notion that has been put forward in a variety of ways - including soliciting the support of some Primates - since the 1998 Lambeth Conference. My own sense is that one of our Anglican gifts is to contain different theological perspectives within a context of common prayer. Once again, we see the Episcopal ability to call moral cowardice a virtue. The Episcopal Church's unwillingness to offend people becomes one of its "gifts...to contain different theological perspectives within a context of common prayer."
This is not a matter of compromise but of acknowledging that the “truth as in Jesus” is larger than any one point of view. A church unable to make room for difference in how Scripture is understood and how Christ’s work of reconciliation is to be carried out could be in danger of neglecting the continuing unfolding of God’s truth worked among us by the Holy Spirit. Translation: we don't have a Scriptural leg to stand on and we know it so our rewriting of the Bible to make a constituency feel better about itself is actually "the continuing unfolding of God’s truth worked among us by the Holy Spirit." This wasn't our doing at all. The Holy Spirit did this new thing. And you wouldn't want to get in the Spirit's way, would you?
Frank's "theology" is an infinitely malleable thing. When the polyamory lobby becomes as effective as the homosexual lobby is now, there is little doubt that whatever's left of the Episcopal Church will grant them a part in "the continuing unfolding of God’s truth worked among us by the Holy Spirit."
I see my ministry now as helping our church to find a way forward that both preserves the unity of the church and honors the deeply held divergent points of view among us. In other words, Frank wants to square the circle. He wants to find a way to remain a semi-important figure in world Christianity rather than become the head of a really insignificant American sort-of Protestant denomination. And most importantly, he desperately wants to find a way to get conservative parishes and dioceses to start sending checks to the national church again.
I write now in the hope of answering some questions a number of you have raised. First, I must say in strongest possible terms that if I believed in any part of my being that the consent to this election was unfaithful to an authentic way of reading Scripture and contrary to the leading of the Holy Spirit, I could no longer serve as the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. I pray that - as most of you have come to know me over these years - you know I firmly believe, as you do, that the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God and contain all things necessary to salvation. My life is rooted and grounded in this understanding. There's a "but" coming up the street the size of a house:
Unfortunately, the difficulty before us is not about some of us believing that Scripture is the inspired Word of God and others not believing it is. How we have been shaped and formed as Christians and the context in which we live have a great deal to do with how we interpret various passages in the Bible and the weight we give them in making moral decisions. Assuming he owns a Bible, it looks like Frank's not yet read as far as Romans 12:2: "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
In my opening address to the General Convention I said: “We have heard people on both sides of a number of contentious questions say that their particular view is in accordance with Scripture, whereas the opposing view is not. There is no such thing as a neutral reading of Scripture. While we all accept the authority of Scripture, we interpret various passages in different ways. It is extremely dishonoring of the faith of another to dismiss them as not taking the Bible seriously.” Even if they are? It's now "extremely dishonoring of the faith of another" to tell the truth? Anyway, Episcopal liberals have spent the last forty years or so declaring to conservatives that literal interpretations of Scriptural passages on homosexual activity are crude and wrong and that the liberals, who've higher-criticized away any Bible passage that might offend someone, are the only people in the church who take the Scriptures seriously. It's extremely dishonoring of you to make this charge now, Frank.
One very appropriate question is: why did I give my consent to this election? I did so for several reasons. First, it is incumbent upon me as Presiding Bishop to honor the life of my own church and the canonically prescribed election process of a diocese. In the past the Presiding Bishop has given his consent to the election of bishops whose theological points of view were at variance with his. I think here of three bishops opposed to the ordination of women. In all cases the Presiding Bishop was chief consecrator, even though he strongly supported women in ordained ministry. So if New Hampshire had elected a guy who'd dumped his wife and kids to take up with a female church secretary, you'd have been okay with the election as long as it was "canonically prescribed?" And what's this business about a Presiding Bishop giving "his consent to the election of bishops whose theological points of view were at variance with his," Frank? You supported Robinson's election. Griswold, who apparently thinks his fellow primates are dumber than a bag of hammers, then wrote:
Second, and very important, to my mind consent does not mean we now have clarity about the matter of homosexuality in the life of our church, and a vote to consent is not about this larger question. The matter is far from resolved and there are strong opinions on every side. That little passage might be the reason that I don't expect to remain an Episcopalian regardless of what happens in October. This vote to consent is not about the larger question of homosexuality in the life of the church, Frank? "The matter...is far from resolved?" Far from resolved?!! The matter is over, Frank, you insouciant liar!! It is done. And it was done in the most fundamentally dishonest way possible.
There was no debate. There was no discussion. New Hampshire simply provided Episcopal liberals with a fact on the ground that let them hide behind the canons, avoid debate entirely and piously claim that the matter is still open.
And here's a question for you, Frank: what if this theoretical debate of yours should happen to go against the liberals? What if the church eventually decides to take a more traditional view of homosexual activity? Are you going to make Robinson give back his pointy hat? But Frank's not done:
There have also been questions about the resolution passed by our Convention concerning “Rites: blessing of committed same gender relationships.” The original form of the resolution called for the authorization of the development of rites for the blessing of same sex unions, which would then have been considered by the General Convention in 2006. This was rejected. Here I and many others were mindful of the Primates letter following our meeting in Brazil. See? We're not arrogant unilateralists who do whatever we want without caring what the rest of the Anglican Communion thinks or says or does about anything. We really do listen to you.
The resolution Convention passed recognizes the reality of a variety of local pastoral practices, without either endorsing or condemning the same, and calls for “continued prayer, study and discernment” under my direction. It is important to note that this in no way relates to Holy Matrimony, about which our teachings are clear. I say this because some reports following Convention falsely indicated we had departed from the teachings on marriage. I see the question on blessing same gender relationships as a quite separate matter from that of consenting to the New Hampshire election. You don't want same-sex unions in Anglican churches. Many Episcopal parishes perform them. So we're not going to endorse same-sex unions or condemn them. We're just going to look the other way and continue to "study" the idea while certain Episcopal parishes go right ahead and allow same-sex union ceremonies to be performed.
These same-sex unions that some of our churches are going to perform and that we're not going to endorse or condemn aren't going to be called Holy Matrimony so we haven't departed from church teachings on marriage at all. And the issue of same-sex unions has nothing whatsover to do with consecrating a bishop who left his wife and kids to live with a man. Because I said so, that's why. See what great Anglicans we are?
I hope this letter helps to clarify the actions of our General Convention and my own views, and supplies answers to some of the questions you have raised. It is my prayer that you will see what has occurred in the life of the Episcopal Church in its complexity, and not dismiss it as an instance of infidelity to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, or disregard for the bonds of communion we share. Even though it is the apotheosis of "an instance of infidelity to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, or disregard for the bonds of communion we share."
Thus the intellectual bankruptcy of the modern Episcopal Church. I am not hopeful that anything worthwhile will emerge from Plano or London. Because my conscience is captive to the Word of God, something breathtakingly radical is going to have to emerge from both of those meetings in order for me to remain in the church into which I was baptized almost 48 years ago.
But even if such a radical formula should emerge, I increasingly think that it will no longer matter. Since I still have a functional conscience, I cannot see how it is possible for me to remain, even remotely, in a church headed by a man as contemptible as Frank Griswold.
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