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Below is a pastoral letter from Bishop Hewett on July 4, 2015
of the Rt. Rev. Paul C. Hewett, SSC
Bishop of the Diocese of the Holy Cross,
and Moderator of the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas,
July 4, 2015,
to be read and/or distributed in all the parishes and missions of the Diocese of the Holy Cross.
Appended to this Letter is a Statement of Bishop Daniel E. Flores, Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, on the Supreme Court Marriage Ruling of Friday, June 26, 2015, sent by Fr. George Graydon, Church of the Redeemer, a succinct statement of the teaching of the Universal Church, respresenting our point of view. This very short statement may be substituted for ours on a Sunday morning, when a longer statement may not be practical. +PCH
Marriage is the metaphor most used in the Bible for the relationship God has with His people. God is the Bridegroom, and His people are the Bride, in a covenant relationship that ends in glory and goes on forever. The nuptial mystery of covenant love is the essential mystery of creation, at the very heart of all existence. The Bible begins with the marriage of Adam and Eve, and ends with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and right in the middle is the Song of Solomon, with hundreds of references throughout of God´s nuptial love for His people. Marriage on earth is to be a sacrament, a revelation, of Christ the Bridegroom and the Church the Bride.
Against this background of what God has shown us to be the truth of existence comes the Supreme Court decision of June 26, inventing out of thin air a right that is nowhere stated in the Constitution. The Court´s decision may be the worst in its history, and is at least a watershed decision that pits the laws of our country against the known will of God, in a new and formidable way. Our legal system is now more thoroughly in open rebellion against God, and is defying God, and refusing yet again to let the civil law correspond with the moral law. All societies whose civil laws do not correspond with God´s moral laws collapse from their own internal contradictions, and from setting up systems that do not work, because they go against the plan God has for men to be husbands and women to be wives and children to be in families with a father and a mother. Men and women who are not married are given the grace to be chaste. But all systems that choose to live under an ideology – a logos of fallen man´s ideas, are submitting to an intellectual swindle, a great lie, in rebellion against the divine Logos, the only ultimate absolute revelation of divine love.
In the Summer of 1974, in Philadelphia, when eleven women were presented for the first time for ordination to the Priesthood in the Episcopal Church, George William Rutler, Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, was there to protest. With all the news media present, he prophesied that a church which ordains women to the Priesthood will one day be ordaining and marrying practicing homosexuals. The two issues are dynamically linked. A woman at the altar is a bridal image. The congregation is the Bride of Christ. And so there is a bride and a bride at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The hot button issues of our time are all dynamically connected at the deepest level: ordination of women, practicing homosexuality, abortion, infanticide and euthanasia are all part of the gnostic impulse to re-define human nature apart from the divine Logos, the Word of God, the One through whom human nature was created, and whose own human nature is the icon of the new man, the Second Adam of the new human race in the new creation. Living in Him, and letting Him live in us, by the Holy Spirit, is launching into the depths of the Father´s infinite love. Life apart from Him becomes ever more shallow, hollow and empty. A society or a country or a church that pushes Him away is slouching toward Gomorrah, to use Robert Bork´s phrase. Our country is sleep walking toward the edge of a cliff. The old saying was, “as goes the Episcopal Church, so goes the United States.” That has proven to be true. The barbarians broke through in the late 60´s, and have now made drastic inroads into our churches, the arts, governments, courts, businesses, academies, the teaching of science and history, the media, entertainment, military and even sports.
The Supreme Court´s decision opens much wider the gateway to illusion. It is an illusion to believe that same sex marriage or ordination of women or abortion or divorce on demand can in any way promote justice or freedom or equality for victim groups. Illusion, as with addictive behaviours, solves nothing, but is in fact a slippery slope to infinite unraveling, infinite unreality, infinite unlife, and ever less being. Dante called hell the deliberately willed illusion. The things pertaining to evil – darkness, cold, discord, death and the lie, have no essence. They are the relative absence of light, warmth, unity, life and truth. Only light, life, goodness, truth, beauty and harmony have essential reality, because they pertain to God´s essence. The Supreme Court has made it possible, in a new and extremely dangerous way, for society to embrace what has no essence.
The Supreme Court´s decision is part of the syndrome of secular western culture, which now calls good evil, and evil good. We side with the rebel angels and rebel against the way God made us. We set up systems that are based on lies and are not natural, like the Soviet system, so we need more and more laws and government regulation to enforce the ideology. First we enter a soft totalitarianism, and then, one that is all embracing. Having a different point of view is a hate crime, and there is a drastic erosion of religious freedom.
The all-embracing state begins to take over every facet of every person´s life. The Soviet gulag, and death on a massive scale, is the outcome. The great Russian poet, Yevgeny Yevteshenko, ended up in a Soviet gulag in our own time. When he was released he had swallowed the bitter pill of state tyranny, the lie that we can use politics to solve everything. He wrote something truly liberating, something profoundly theological and biblical. He wrote, “the purpose of politics is to protect love, and motherhood.” Our founding fathers would agree with that. “The purpose of politics is to protect love, and motherhood.” The apostles would agree with that. All real men agree with that. To take politics to any wider scope is to narrow our vision of what life is. It is to launch out into the shallows, it is to run aground, it is to catch no fish in a night of fruitless toil. It is to deny the sovereignty of God the Father and the Lordship of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit to plant the Father´s laws and commandments in our hearts, to give us all a moral compass, so we do not need a fascist state or politically correct newsmedia or university elites to tell us what is right and wrong. When we say the Decalogue, we respond to every commandment, “Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.” God, not the State, can incline our hearts, and implant within us the moral compass we need.
The innovators, the ideologues, will not rest until they have brought down the Church, and orthodox Judaism. Israel has got to go, and believing Christians have to be marginalized and eliminated in the new order. Chaplains are increasingly restricted in the use of Jesus´ Name. A Pentecostal minister in Sweden was indicted for a hate crime by preaching on Romans, chapter 1. After years in court, he was convicted, and after years of appeal, vindicated. This sort of thing is spreading to Canada, and here. A Christian couple running a bakery was put out of business by a lawsuit after they refused to bake a wedding cake for a brave new world couple. A prominent inventor and businessman in California was dismissed by his board without due process when they found out he had donated money to Proposition 8 to protect traditional marriage. Christmas crèches, Ten Commandments and crosses have all got to go. Orphanages and other works of mercy are closing, lest their charges be victimized by those embracing the brave new world. Christians in more and more places are entering a season of real persecution.
The overall pattern emerging from today´s cultural trends in the West is, to use the fancy term, demographic nihilism. We are setting up the destruction of our culture. A country whose birthrate falls below a certain level buries more people every year than are born. The devil is seeing to it that European and American women have only a very small number of children, through abortion, birth control and materialism. The Muslims, on the other hand, have very large families. The German Parliament has admitted that by the year 2050, Germany will be a Muslim country.
The one thing the devil hates about us more than anything else is our bodies. With our bodies we can reproduce, and give birth to many millions and billions of potential new citizens of Heaven. Satan is insanely jealous because he and his cohorts have no bodies. They cannot reproduce. There are the same number of demons today as there were when his hosts were cast out of Heaven. Satan is very busy today, stopping the seed. Through abortion, birth control, war, genocide, homosexual marriage, euthanasia and infanticide, he is getting the birthrate of formerly Christian countries down to almost nothing. About a third of the church is going along with all this, morphing into the church of the anti-christ, the whore of Babylon. A third of the church is orthodox, a third in the middle is confused and bewildered and wishes all the pain would just go away, and a third is the emerging church of the anti-christ. We are two thousand years closer to the end times, and to our Lord´s Second Coming.
We will of course do what we must to protect ourselves. Many clergy will no longer sign civil marriage licenses. We are entering a new dark age, and as Churchill said of the West in the 1930´s, “the lights are going out all over Europe.” We must not curse the darkness, but light a candle, and continue, undaunted, to build a culture of life, a civilization of love, in the places where we live and work. We must lift high the Name of Jesus, no matter what the cost. Pope John Paul II gave us a great theological and pastoral treasure in his Theology of the Body, with Christopher West as a brilliant expositor. This sacramental and biblical vision of sexuality is a great treasure for the Church, and is having a slow, but profound, impact upon all parts of the Church that want to be biblical and orthodox.
When any agency of government sets up a law that contradicts God, then Christians know they must obey God, not man. Religious liberty is on the line, because the forces of evil are, globally, closing in upon believing Christians and Jews, to silence us, to marginalize and eliminate us. There is less and less protection under the law for believing Christians, and persecution is rampant throughout the world, spreading now to us. We have entered a time very much like the first three centuries in the Church´s life, a time when the Christian witness was silhouetted clearly against a pagan and barbarian horizon. Our strength and our joy comes from our citizenship in Heaven. We serve, and live in, a risen, victorious, ascended Lord, and He lives in us. He is the Vine and we are the branches (John 15: 1). The roots of the Vine are in Heaven. The Vine is upside down, and the roots are in Heaven, and the branches are on earth. So we draw all our resources from a risen, victorious Lord. We live in eternal Victory, in the triumph of redeeming love, opened up to us in every Eucharist, the “gift of the goal.”
Loving of our Lord more, in the Blessed Sacrament, and in the saints, and in those among whom we serve, and even in our enemies and those who oppose us, leads us to love His Mother more. Once the Mother of Sorrows, she is now the Queen of Victory, the Woman clothed with the sun, the Slayer of heresies, the New Eve of the new creation, the Bride and Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Womb of God, the Mother of the Church, the Ark of the New Covenant and the Help of Christians, and we can freely consecrate our families, our parishes, our dioceses, our communities and our nation, to her maternal care, to her priceless intercession. She knows what a vale of tears this life is, but she is always ready to help us see that Jesus´ yoke is easy, and His burden, light. +PCH
Statement of Bishop Daniel E. Flores
Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, on the Supreme Court Marriage Ruling, Friday, June 26, 2015
Marriage is the only institution in human society that unites a man and a woman together in a lifelong commitment. It provides the basis for the conceiving and raising of children. And it makes possible the stable development of the human family.
Today’s Supreme Court decision does not change the Church’s teaching on marriage as a natural institution in human society, nor does it affect our teaching that this unique human bond between a man and a woman was raised by the Lord Jesus to the level of a sacrament.
What the Court decision does do, however, is deeply wound the fabric of human society by permitting in law the radical redefinition of marriage. It is alarming and arrogant that any government institution can claim the power to change the definition of such a basic human reality.
The Church, with malice towards none, and in fidelity to the truth about human life, must remain faithful to, and teach the truth about marriage. We will continue to operate our teaching and charitable institutions in fidelity to the teaching of Sacred Scripture and the Church’s faith. And we expect the government to respect the free exercise of religious faith in this country. Our service to the truth is all the more urgent at this time.
Below is the banquet speech given by Alice C. Linsley at the International Catholic Congress of Anglicans recently in Fort Worth.
Hearing the Echo
Speech delivered by Alice C. Linsley at the International Catholic Congress of Anglicans, Fort Worth, Texas – 16 July 2015
Thank you for that lovely introduction, Bishop Hewett. Of all the introductions I have received, that is by far the most recent.
I would like to begin by expressing our thanks to those who served us this meal. Mr. Ernesto Perez and his wait staff have served us well all week. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
Isn’t it amazing that about 300 of us Anglicans had dinner together and we agreed on only two choices?
When it comes to food, I’m in favor of dual integrities!
I wish to express gratitude to our patrons: Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali and Bishop Keith Ackerman, two faithful leaders in whom Christ’s light shines. They, and many others here who faithfully serve Christ in His Church, are a great inspiration.
It is a pleasure to be at this gathering of Christ-followers in the Anglican Way. I am thankful for the thoughtful and stimulating engagement we have found here this week. May our conversations continue beyond this Congress be edifying and may we find ways to strengthen our bonds of affection.
I am humbled to have been asked to speak, though I do so with some apprehension. You see, the last time I spoke at a Forward in Faith sponsored conference I was in Melbourne, Australia and shortly thereafter that FiF chapter folded.
Many of the FiF Australia leaders went to the Ordinariate, leaving a leadership vacuum. Perhaps we can take a lesson from that turn of events that will enable us to strengthen the witness of Forward in Faith in our home regions. Ideally, there must be no more draining away of Anglican Traditionalists. Catholicity is salt that preserves and enhances our Anglican flavor. More catholic Anglicans are needed, though our perspective is often misunderstood and not always welcome.
Frankly, I do not understand the disdain some hold for Anglo-Catholicism and Anglican Traditionalists. Do they do not recognize how many Traditionalist Anglicans were the first to oppose the radical changes and have continued to fight the good fight for more than half a century? Anglican Traditionalists have been telling the truth about the Gospel and the priesthood because you care for people and you love the Church. I for one, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am living proof that your witness bears fruit.
In seminary my Anglican Polity professor was Dr. Jeffrey Steenson, now Monsignor Steenson, and the first ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, which provides for former Anglicans who have become Roman Catholics. At that time, he was at the Anglo-Catholic parish of Good Shepherd in Rosemont, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Steenson planted a seed of doubt about women priests in my mind when he challenged me to show him one example of a woman priest in the Bible. Of course, I couldn’t. The best I could do was to trot out the casuistry of feminist theologians, and even then I recognized the poverty of their scholarship.
Dear Dr. Steenson was persona non grata in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania where I was ordained in 1988. That is the same diocese that put forward Barbara Harris, the first African American female bishop, Geralyn Wolf, the first female bishop to have converted from Judaism, and Mary Glasspool, the first partnered lesbian bishop. I knew them all and had conversed with them on more than one occasion. Their perspectives on the priesthood were informed by feminism and Process Theology. Our paths diverged dramatically once I began to consider questions about the origin and nature of the priesthood from the perspective of anthropology.
It is remarkable that the Diocese of Pennsylvania even considered me for the priesthood since I was far more a traditionalist than the other women. In retrospect, I see that it happened exactly because of ECUSA’s on-going radicalization and growing intolerance. The parish that put me forward for ordination was the Church of the Good Samaritan in Paoli, Pennsylvania. It was the evangelical flagship at that time and the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania was glad to have that parish contribute a woman for its latest celebrated cause. Besides that, Good Samaritan was the mission founded by Good Shepherd, Rosemont, and my approval was a slap in the face to Fr. Steenson and all that he represented.
All the more wonder then that Dr. Steenson should have been so patient with this sinner, inviting me to a service of the Blessed Benediction, and helping me to understand some of the deeper mysteries of our Eucharistic faith.
My sympathies were always with the Anglican Traditionalists, even as a priest. However, in those early years I didn’t understand how my being at the altar caused confusion, nor did I recognize the inherent dangers of this innovation. Bishop Nazir-Ali touched on some of those dangers in this excellent talk on “The Necessity of Unity in Truth for the Church’s Mission.”
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is our Great High Priest. The Church is His bride. One day there will be a great wedding feast and our Lord and King will then be enthroned forever and His Queen, the Church, will also be exalted. Christ is the head of the Church. He is kephalē, the master and the husband in relation to the Church. To speak of Jesus Christ and the Church in any other terms is to set forth an errant Christology. We do so when we place females at the altar.
If that is not explicit enough, we should remember that the Greek word ke-phalē is related to the Greek word phallōs, a reference to the male reproductive organ.
During my six years in the Antiochian Orthodox Church I came to appreciate the power of images. To those who ask me about women’s ordination, I pose this question: “Were we to contemplate the Blessed Mother of Christ and the Incarnation, would we place before our eyes a masculine image? Why then would we place before us a feminine image in the contemplation of Christ our Great High Priest giving Himself to us and for us?
As Anglicans in the Catholic Faith, we recognize the distinction between adoration as worship and veneration as giving honor where honor is due, especially to the Blessed Theotokos. This distinction between worship and veneration is one that I understand as an anthropologist. However, this distinction is not widely recognized among Protestants who have a tendency to iconoclasm. Yet they understand the value of images in social media, in stained glass, in the image of the Cross, and in textbooks. Veneration is something that Anglicans must learn if we are to experience the fullness of the communion of saints. Further, we will be blessed in showing the proper honor to the Blessed Woman of Genesis 3:15, the Mother of Christ our God.
I wonder if some Anglicans accept women at the altar as a sort of compensation for the lack of female imagery in the churches. Would this be corrected were Anglican churches to have a central icon of the Blessed Theotokos, as is done in the Orthodox churches? What if we too were to celebrate the “holy myhrr-bearing women” who were the first witnesses to the Resurrection? Have the women of our parishes heard that the Bible is essentially the story of the Woman who would conceive and bring forth the Seed who would crush the serpent’s head? Are they aware that the Prayer of Humble Access alludes to a woman who Christ commended for her faith?
Catholic Anglicans uphold the faith once delivered, and the integrity of the all-male priesthood. We value the historic liturgical tradition of the Anglican Way. We understand that Anglican orders are valid and of greater antiquity than generally recognized. The apostolic order of priests was already established in Britain by 44 A.D and there is much archaeological, anthropological and linguistic evidence linking its founding to the Christ-following members of the Sanhedrin who alone were qualified to ordain priests.
Catholic Anglicans are not afraid to face reality and speak against the lies of our time. In his recent Pastoral letter, Bishop Paul Hewett made is profound observation: “It is an illusion to believe that same sex marriage or ordination of women or abortion or divorce on demand can in any way promote justice or freedom or equality for victim groups. Illusion, as with addictive behaviours, solves nothing, but is in fact a slippery slope to infinite unraveling, infinite unreality, infinite unlife, and ever less being.”
Our primary obligation is to uphold and defend the whole of that sacred deposit and sacred order that has been delivered to us by our faithful ancestors who gave their lives, often as martyrs, to preserve the unity of the Church in Truth.
Catholic Anglicans have a special role to play in the revitalization of Anglicanism worldwide. We have a responsibility to oppose feminism, process theology, reductionism, fundamentalism, and iconoclasm. Fundamentalist readings of sacred texts such as the Torah, the New Testament, or the Quran tend to result in iconoclasm. In the past year we have seen tragic examples of this with Islamic fundamentalist smashing statues and destroying icons in Iraq and Syria.
Anglican catholics are duty-bound to stand at the crossroads and direct others to the ancient paths. The Prophet Jeremiah received this message from God: This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jer. 6:16)
But the people said, “We will not walk in it.”
In refusing to walk in the ancient paths, people have become lost. The disorientation is so great that they no longer know good from evil, truth from falsehood. They have no idea how far they have wandered from their Creator’s boundless love.
If there is one concern that I hope we all share it is that the Anglican Way be God’s way; that Anglicans walk along the tried and true paths, and that our Bishops exercise true spiritual authority in leading us. One threat to this is the temptation to create a designer church or to seek to reproduce the late great Episcopal Church. No new ground can be won by facing backward. We have entered upon a great adventure as pioneers on a new frontier.
I come from Kentucky, the land of Daniel Boone, a trail-blazing frontiersman. It was through the Kentucky wilderness that the explorers Lewis and Clark journeyed on their way to the Pacific. Just as the frontiersmen of Kentucky followed the ancient trails shown to them by the native Americans, so let us pioneer a path that corresponds to the old way. Let us walk the trail that is well known by the natives of our catholic Faith.
We have the road map within us by virtue of our baptism into Jesus Christ. Baptism marks the beginning of our Christian profession and provides the structure and framework for the whole of our common life as disciples and disciple-makers.
So We yield thee hearty thanks most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate us with thy Holy Spirit, to receive us for thy own children by adoption, and to incorporate us into thy holy Church.
In Baptism, we are buried into Christ, receiving the seed of immortality. This enables us to hear the Gospel and see the reality of God in our lives. St. Cyril of Jerusalem said:
“See, I pray you, how great a dignity Jesus bestows on you. You were called a Catechumen, while the word echoed round you from without; hearing of hope, and knowing it not; hearing mysteries, and not understanding them; hearing Scriptures, and not knowing their depth. The echo is no longer around you, but within you; for the indwelling Spirit (Romans 8:9, 11) henceforth makes your mind a house of God. When you have heard what is written concerning the mysteries, then you will understand things which you knew not.” From the Catechetical Lectures
Consider the physics of sound waves. If you shout in a large canyon the sound will reflect off of the solid canyon walls and you will hear an echo. If the canyon wall is more than about 56 feet or 17 meters from where you are standing, the sound wave will take more than 0.1 seconds to reflect and return to you. The echo is proof that something is there of substance and solidity. The echo is proof also that something massive is at a distance from us. The echo of which St. Cyril speaks is proof of the substance of the Gospel or more accurately, proof of the Word Incarnate, who is the very heart of the Christian faith which we have a duty to preserve.
On the other hand, if you are near the wall, as for example, in a shower stall, when you shout no echo is heard. The echo in the canyon tells us that we are still a distance away from God, but God is there and very real. Writing to the Ephesians, St. Paul explains: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” St Cyril tells us that the Baptized receive the echo within them. The echo is heard inwardly and “then you will understand things which you knew not.”
The echo confirms absolutely the existence of Christ our God, but it cannot tell us His Nature, for that is a matter of revealed truth and we find that in the Scriptures by which God has superintended the preservation of the oldest known religious hope, what we call Messianic expectation; the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From of old, long before the time of Abraham, there was expectation in the ancient world of a Righteous Ruler who would overcome death and lead his people to immortality. The American mythologist, Joseph Campbell, calls this the “Monomyth” and anthropological studies of the widely dispersed peoples in the R1 Haplogroup confirms the spread of this expectation.
There is an important principle in anthropological investigation. That principle states: The more widely dispersed globally a culture trait, a practice or a belief, the older it is. So how old is Messianic expectation? It was already well established among the widely dispersed ruler-priests by 3500 B.C. This means that the core of our Christian Faith is the oldest known religion in the world.
Today the Church is the single entity that preserves the hope of bodily resurrection through the agency of the Righteous Ruler, the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
And humbly we beseech thee to grant, that we being dead to sin, and living to righteousness, and being buried with Christ in his death, may crucify the old man, and utterly abolish the whole body of sin; and that we be made partakers of his resurrection; so that finally, with the residue of thy holy Church, we may be inheritors of thine everlasting kingdom; Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Church’s mission is to baptize into this hope, nurture in this hope, and equip disciple-making disciples to share this hope. We need well trained clergy for that mission. We need well catechized laity for that mission. That means exploring creative means of theological education for all who seek it. And there is something more that needs to be done, something that the Church did very well in the past, but which it has failed to do in modern times. We must help people learn to discern truth from falsehood. We are bombarded by lies daily. The Church is the single entity that is able to identify lies and speak against the often subtle and sophisticated falsehoods that confront us.
I see a great deal of pseudo-science and half-truths among anthropologists who disdain religion in general and Christianity in particular. Their scholarship is like a map out of which numerous holes have been cut. Is it any wonder that so few anthropologists are people of faith? In the universities they are never shown the whole map. They miss the trails that lead to verification of the core of Christian belief and the veracity of Scripture.
The Church can help seekers to discern distinctions, to think critically and constructively, and to recognize and honor God-established boundaries because these are real. Spiritual purity is distinct from spiritual impurity. The Son did not die to make us semi-pure. There is a realness to this distinction that the world cannot grasp.
Likewise, God did not create a gender continuum. Male and female is a real distinction.
God is real. By virtue of our baptism we recognize God’s realness as an echo. In our confirmation, we make a mature commitment to our baptismal covenant, and by the laying on of the bishop’s hands with prayer, God strengthens the work of the Holy Spirit in us for the daily increase of divine grace in our lives and ministries.
The echo to which St. Cyril refers confirms absolutely the existence of Christ our God, but it cannot tell us His Nature, for that is a matter of divine revelation and we find that in the Scriptures by which God has superintended the preservation of the oldest known religious hope that the Divine One would come to our aid and deliver us from sin and death.
I’ve been told that Process Theology ruled the day at Lambeth 2008 under the guise of indaba. As an anthropologist I have studied many African cultural practices, and I know that indaba could never work at Lambeth. Indaba pertains to problem resolution in a village where everyone is a blood relative and where the first priority of all involved is the preservation of the oneness of the community. It is quite evident that Lambeth failed to preserve the oneness of the Anglican worldwide community. Certainly right-believing Anglicans were not fooled by the controlled conversations that directed people away from resolution. The “endless conversation” was designed to obfuscate, not clarify, the real issues. The reflections revealed “elasticity” of doctrine, driven by a desire to accommodate secular culture.
Colin Johnson, Bishop of Toronto, while at Lambeth said that he comes from a community with “a very large lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual population” and he was determined through Indaba to keep that in the conversation. Frustration was high as it was evident that no progress was being made, despite the window dressing to make it seem that there was progress.
Bishop Mouneer Anis described Lambeth as a “great wall being put up by the revisionists” and said that the Communion’s divisions over homosexuality are symptomatic of “a much deeper illness.” The Church has become infected with a deadly cancer, and as is often the case with cancer, the disease is not recognized until in the later stages. People just go on as if there were nothing wrong. That is what happened in the Episcopal Church.
Upon his return from Lambeth, M. Thomas Shaw, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, said that he would continue to ordain gay clergy, and gave the nod to the clergy of his diocese to continue to bless same-sex partnerships. Nothing that happened at Lambeth made him aware of his terminal illness.
We should not be discouraged by this depressing tale from our recent past. From the beginning, the Church has been “sore oppressed, by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed.” This Congress is modeled on the great Anglo-Catholic Congresses in England in the early 20th century. It is to be a prophetic call to return to the Fathers, with renewed commitment to the Gospel, the extension of the Kingdom, and the cure souls, ministering to rich and poor alike, throughout the world. It is hoped that we might let our Lord form His mind in His Church, so that we as Anglicans overcome our ecclesiastical deficits and grow in the mind of Christ.
There are some who look back with yearning to a time when the Church was undivided. With apologies, especially to my Eastern Orthodox sisters and brothers, if we are honest, we must admit that the church has never been undivided. St. Paul warned the churches about factions based on personalities.
St. Basil the Great, in his treatise On the Holy Spirit, directed these words against the Arians:
“Just as a hunter hides his traps, or an ambush of soldiers camouflages itself, so these questioners spew forth elaborately constructed inquiries, not really hoping to learn anything useful from them, because unless you agree with them and give them the answer they want, they imagine that they are fully entitled to stir up a raging controversy.”
Blessed Basil also wrote: “Every man is a theologian; it does not matter that his soul is covered with more blemishes than can be counted. The result is that these innovators find an abundance of men to join their factions. So ambitious, self-elected men divide the government of the churches among themselves, and reject the authority of the Holy Spirit. The ordinances of the Gospel have been thrown into confusion everywhere for lack of discipline; the jostling for high positions is incredible, as every ambitious man tries to thrust himself into high office. The result of this lust for power is that wild anarchy prevails among the people; the exhortations of those in authority are rendered utterly void and unprofitable, since every man in his arrogant delusion thinks that it is more his business to give orders to others than to obey anyone himself.”
In Letter 90, St. Basil wrote: “The dogmas of the Fathers are held in contempt, the Apostolic traditions are disdained, the churches are subject to the novelties of innovators.” This he wrote to “To the Most Holy Brethren and Bishops Found in the West” whose authority he recognized.
Though there always have been divisions in the church, there is unity in our future. Our spiritual unity is in Christ and will be fully evident in the eschaton, and this is of the Lord’s doing. Our mission is to be the Church in love with her Lord and Master. Now the Church suffers, but the mystery hidden for the ages is being made manifest for all the world to witness. Our suffering is his suffering. “Yet saints their watch are keeping. Their cry goes up ‘How long?’ And soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song.”
Until that day, C. S. Lewis reminds us what needs to be done. In God in the Dock, He wrote:
“We are to defend Christianity itself — the faith preached by the apostles, attested by the Martyrs, embodied in the Creeds, expounded by the Fathers. This must be clearly distinguished from the whole of what any one of us may think about God and Man. Each of us has his individual emphasis: each holds, in addition to the Faith, many opinions which seem to him to be consistent with it and true and important. And so perhaps they are. But as apologists it is not our business to defend them. We are defending Christianity; not my religion.”
Innovators love to talk about God as if God were mutable. One of the errors of Process Theology, as expounded by Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne, is that God is affected by temporal processes and is “becoming” alongside humanity. What bunk! The very order of Creation makes it evident that there is a distinction between the Creator and the creation, between God and Man, between heaven and earth. That is why the Lord taught us to pray that the Father’s will be done on earth as in heaven.
Talking God into our own image is to lose our identity, our very being. God is not what we imagine or want God to be. We have no power to make God in our image. Nor can we make ourselves anything other than what God created us. It is arrogant self-delusion to think otherwise. Such spiritual hubris plays out to its logical end in the tragic lives of Bruce Jenner, a man who styles himself as a woman, and Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who styles herself as a black woman.
I spoke before about how my research in Biblical Anthropology helped me detect the deficiencies and falsehoods of Feminism and Process Theology. It also helped me to see the inadequacies of reductionism. Anthropology is the enemy of reductionism. The danger of reductionism is that it always misleads us. There are many examples of reductionism among Christians: Luther’s interpretation of 1 Peter 2:9 by which he concludes that all baptized people are priests; the Protestant theory of Sola Scriptura, Young Earth Creationism, etc.
Secular reductionists attribute religious beliefs to non-religious causes. Some view religious faith as a by-product of human evolution. In this view religion enhances survivability for members of a group and so is reinforced by natural selection. Others reduce the religious impulse to superstition, as a way to explain the inexplicable. Religious reductionism views divine law as merely Man’s attempt to determine conceptions of right and wrong.
There is also the psychological view that religion is a way to cope with our anxieties. This view actually has some basis in Scripture because all the evidence suggests that the priesthood emerged among Abraham’s ancestors out of a need to address blood guilt. The primitive principle is one we recognize as animal sacrifice; blood for blood. And the sacred law that already existed among Abraham’s ancestors pertained in large part to blood; for life is in the blood. In the Biblical worldview, blood both pollutes and makes clean. Ancient law codes, such as the Law of Tehut which existed long before the code of Hammurabi, addressed transgressions of boundaries between God and Man and between the individual and his neighbor, and between the individual and his community.
At the June ACNA conference Archbishop Foley Beach called for Anglicans to be a repentant, reconciling, reproducing, and compassionate. To this list, I would add conciliar catholicity, because this is the glue that holds us together.
Recently an Anglican theologian noted that, “C.S. Lewis and Dorothy Sayers were closer to the Anglo-Catholic end of things than the Evangelical wing.” That statement implies a spectrum within Anglicanism. However, this theological range has definite boundaries at both ends. Anyone who crosses the boundary on either side, abandons the Apostolic Faith and cannot rightly claim to be Anglican.
Anglican ritual does not make one catholic, as Bishop Hensley Henson makes clear in his Cui bono? (1899) against Anglican ritualists. Henson viewed the “doctrinal incoherence” of Anglicanism to have “roots in something far more respectable than an indolent acquiescence in undiscipline or a reprehensible indifference to truth. It reflects the reluctance of considering and responsible English Churchmen to thrust the rough hand of authority into the sphere of religious opinion.”
And see to what state of disarray we have come because of this!
Samuel Taylor Coleridge said, “Christianity without a Church exercising spiritual authority is vanity and dissolution.”
Bishop Hensen posed this significant and probing question to Lord Halifax: “Apart from all questions of ecclesiastical theory, and considering only the practical worth of that authority of the ‘undivided Church’ to which High Churchman so frequently and so confidently appeal, can it be denied that we are little helped by an authority… which is wholly silent on many subjects of modern perplexity?”
Beloved of Christ, the Church must engage the lost world. The Church can no longer afford to remain silent as the world spirals into madness. This means that bishops must deliberate and they must act. Bishops who exercise true spiritual authority always lead the people in the catholic way, a way that needs no reforming, and no course adjustment as attempted by Protestant interpreters of the 39 Articles.
To what advantage do some insist that the Articles of Religion are our Anglican confession? The Articles had gone through a number of revisions before 1571 and were appreciated by the Catholic minded because of the strength of their arguments against Anabaptists. The 1571 Canon requiring subscription to the Articles instructs the clergy “not to teach anything except what is agreeable to the doctrine of the Old and New Testament, and what the Catholic Fathers and the ancient Bishops have collected from the same doctrine.”
The Articles alone have never served to stiffen the resolve of Anglican bishops to “trust the rough hand of authority” when it came to heresy. That resolve comes from commitment to the Apostolic Faith, expressed in the Creeds, contained in Scripture, and delineated by the Church Fathers. We are to interpret the Articles of Religion according to the ancient Fathers and not vice versa. Using the 39 Articles as a confession taken out of the context of the Patristic Consensus produces a distortion of The Anglican Way.
In this day when those in the pews look to our Bishops for clear and unambiguous leadership in the face of heresy and apostasy, catholicity must we understood as natural to the Church. The true Church is always and everywhere repentant, reconciling, reproducing, compassionate, conciliar and catholic. These qualities make the Church effective in a world gone mad.
I am reminded of something G.K. Chesterton wrote in The Ball and the Cross:
Christianity is always out of fashion because it is always sane; and all fashions are mild insanities. …The Church always seems to be behind the times, when it is really beyond the times; it is waiting till the last fad shall have seen its last summer. It keeps the key of a permanent virtue.
As the realignment and revitalization of Anglicans worldwide continues there is less stench of death and decay. We find common ground in a permanent virtue: the changeless Truth revealed in Jesus Christ. Through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit we are becoming the fragrance of Christ’s resurrection, a testament to the power of the Lord, the Giver of Life, who makes a sick body whole and raises the dead to life.
My brothers and sisters in the Lord, be encouraged! A marvelous day is coming when the Church will be presented to the Divine Bridegroom wholesome, pure and adorned in glory.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
The Rt. Rev. Eric Menees, Bishop of San Joachin, closed with this prayer of Archbishop William Laud:
O gracious Father,
we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church;
that thou wouldest be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace.
Where it is corrupt, purify it;
where it is in error, direct it;
where in any thing it is amiss, reform it.
Where it is right, establish it;
where it is in want, provide for it;
where it is divided, reunite it;
for the sake of him who died and rose again,
and ever liveth to make intercession for us,
Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.