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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Two , Four, Six, Eight...Who do we appreciate?

Archbishop Mouneer Anis (of Egypt and North Africa) delivered a speech at the House of Bishops Friday, September 21st that is an excellent encapsulation of what so many of us are thinking. It makes you just want to stand up and shout! Too bad the Archbishop received only "polite applause" to quote a blogger (I'm still trying to remember who...I'll update with a link when I find it!).

Be sure to go read the comments which at Stand Firm are always every bit as good as the posts.

Here is some (most) of it:

My friends, like you, we want to be relevant to the culture in which we live. More importantly, we want to be salt and light to our societies. That is not an easy calling but it means we must remain distinct and humble at the same time. Without being distinct we cannot be salt and light; without humility we will not represent the one who said, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” We are also continuously challenged whether we should allow the culture to transform the Apostolic Faith we once received, or if we should allow the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform our culture as it has in the past. As we struggle to answer this question we must never divorce ourselves from the faith that countless men, women and children died to protect. I believer that if we faithfully serve the Church of Christ, He will continue to fulfill his promise that the gates of Hades will not prevail against her.

Rupertus Meldenius said, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity”. Our hope is to be united on the essentials of faith which are defined only by the whole church. WE are not in any way trying to impose rigid views on you. Like you we celebrate diversity, but we believe that such diversity should not be unlimited and should not contradict the essentials of our faith. We are not schismatic, but we are diligent to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. We want unity but not unity at any expense.

Anglicans are aware with humility that we are not “the” church but we are one member of the body of Christ, the one Holy Catholic Church. We proclaim this every week in our churches. This places upon us the responsibility to listen to and respect our ecumenical partners.

My friends, you may believe you have discovered a very different truth from that of the majority in the Anglican Communion. It is not just about sexuality, but about your views of Christ, the Gospel, and the authority of the Bible. Please forgive me when I relay that some say you are a different church, others even think that you are a different religion.

I understand that it is difficult for you in your context to accept the standard teaching of the Anglican Communion. That is why you refused to accept Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10. You also ignored all the warnings of the Primates in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Your response to the Windsor Report is seen by the Primates as not clear. You cannot say you value being a member of the Anglican Communion while you ignore the interdependence if the member churches. The interdependence is what differentiates us from other congregational churches. I would like to remind you and myself with the famous resolution number 49 of the Lambeth Conference of 1930 which declares “the Anglican Communion is a fellowship of churches that…are bound together not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference.” With respect, I have to say that those who would prefer to speak of laws and procedures, constitutions and canons, committees and process: you are missing the point! It is our mutual loyalty and fellowship, submitting to one another in the common cause of Jesus Christ that makes us of one Church one faith and one Lord.

It is clear that you actions have resulted in one the most difficult disputes in the Communion in our generation. You may see them as not core doctrinal issues. Many like me see the opposite but the thing that we all cannot ignore is that these issues are divisive and have created a lot of undesired consequences and reactions. For the first time in centuries, the fabric of our Communion is torn. Our energies have been drained and our resources are lost and it is difficult for both of us to continue like this.

My friends, if you really believe that the truth revealed to you is different from that shown to the rest of the Communion, then you need to uphold that claim with boldness even at the risk of losing unity. If you think it is right and necessary to ordain and consecrate practicing homosexuals and that you should bless same sex partnerships or even marriages, you should be true to what you believe is right and accept the consequences.

However, if you appreciate being members of the global Anglican family, then you have to walk along side the members of your family. Those who say it is important to stay together around the table, to listen to each other and to continue our dialogue over the difficult issues that are facing us are wise. We wholeheartedly agree with this, but staying around the table requires that you should not take actions that are contrary to the standard position (Lambeth 1.10) of the rest of the Communion.

Sitting around one table requires humility from all of us. One church cannot say to the rest of churches “I know the whole truth, you don’t”. Archbishop Rowan reminded us in his paper “Challenge and Hope” that “the whole truth is revealed to the whole church”. Sitting around one table requires that each one should have a clear stance before the discussion starts. It also requires that true openness and willingness to accept the mind of the whole. We do not have to be in the communion to sit around the one table. We do so when we dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox and with other faiths. It would be extremely difficult to sit around one table when you have already decided the outcome if the discussion and when you ignore the many voices, warnings and appeals from around the communion.


I know that you value personal freedom and independence. The whole world learns this from you. You need to demonstrate this by securing freedom for the American orthodox Anglicans who do not share your theological direction. Show your spirit of inclusiveness when you deal with them. I am afraid to say that without this more and more interventions from other provinces is going to happen. No one wants this.

I pray for wisdom and grace, for myself as well as for you, and I pray that God will lead us both in the right direction. Remember the illustrious history of God’s church and remember future generations who will sit in judgment on us. Remember also that the whole world is waiting and watching what you do.

Please forgive me if I have said anything that offends you.

May the Lord bless you.
+Mouneer Egypt

Friday, September 21, 2007

So if we aren't big "C" catholic, what do we mean?

By big "C" catholic, I mean Roman Catholic. A capital letter doesn't necessarily make "catholic" mean Roman Catholic, but that is how I often clarify it for myself.

The Confessing Reader (also under Bishop Curry) has posted on Bishop Curry's comments to the Archbishop of Canterbury while at the House of Bishops meeting. It is being reported (but, to my knowledge, still unsubstantiated) that Curry disagreed with ABC about the meaning of catholicity. The Confessing Reader has followed this up with a commentary on what is meant when we say "catholic".

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My Bishop speaks clearly

Yeesh - well, we here at St. Margaret's have known where our bishop (Michael Curry of North Carolina) stood on the current crisis in ECUSA, we just hadn't seen his ungloved attitude. Seems he's shown it fairly clearly.

There is more information in the comments. Be warned, not all commentors are showing their christian charity or restraint. I hope it is just the stress of the week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sinon, a devious gift-giver

A post for my ClassEd friends, who I know will particularly appreciate an essay that starts with a bit of classical history! :)

The Episcopal Church's Trojan Horse by George Naff Gray, Jr.,
Exclusive to VirtueOnline
September 14, 2007

Homer, the great Greek poet of tragedies, writes of a Trojan War where the Greeks were unable to breach the walls of the City of Troy. After some ten years, the Greeks used a ruse to gain entrance into the city.

They set sail just beyond the horizon, but left behind a huge horse as an offering to the Trojans. Unknown to the Trojans, Greek forces lay hidden inside the belly of the beast. Despite doubts of the sincerity of such a Greek gift, King Priam had the horse brought inside the city. A great celebration took place.

Late in the night with the horse left unguarded, the Greek forces that lay hidden inside came out and opened the gates of the city to the Greek hordes that had returned in their ships under the cover of darkness. Once access was gained inside the city, the Trojans were defeated and Troy was destroyed.

A similar ruse may be used by the Episcopal Church (TEC) to overcome the Anglican Communion's bulwark teaching on human sexuality called Lambeth 1.10 and destroy the Anglican Communion. Like the Trojan War, an Anglican war of words has been under way for ten years.

It began in earnest with the Anglican Communion's adoption during the 1998 Lambeth Conference of the Lambeth 1.10 teaching concerning the blessing of marriage being between one man and one woman. The war of words does not simply consist of a disagreement over this one teaching, but over a much more significant issue encompassed in the word: hermeneutics.

Christopher Landau of the BBC speaks of this hermeneutical war this way: "The problem for Anglicans is that they cannot agree on how to interpret the Bible, and therefore they arrive at very different views on a number of moral issues."

Hermeneutics are the methods or theories used for interpretation. An essential element to the hermeneutical approach is the understanding of the word: truth. Truth expresses facts that conform to reality. However, the leadership of TEC has been employing a new understanding of "truth" in their approach to the hermeneutical task of interpretation.

The hermeneutical method of TEC does not lend itself to one interpretation. "Truth" in TEC can be pluriform and thus, there can be more than one set of interpretations which have led to theological understandings and liturgical practices within TEC that are both foreign to catholic Christianity and against the express teachings of Lambeth 1.10.

For example, The Presiding Bishop of TEC uses this hermeneutical approach in publicly expressing that Jesus Christ is one of many ways to the Divine as opposed to traditional hermeneutical standard of catholic Christian teaching that conforms to St. John's writing: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)

When the elected leader of TEC fails to publicly acknowledge such a basic tenant of the Christian faith, then without question, something is profoundly wrong.

What is wrong within TEC is its approach to hermeneutics and its understanding of "truth" to be pluriform. Pluriform truth has led to practices within TEC that have been condemned by the instruments of Anglican unity and Roman, Orthodox, and Protestant churches around the world.

Christian charity has been repeatedly sought after by the larger Anglican Communion in calling on TEC to refrain from those practices that most clearly violate Christian teaching. The most recent request came from the leadership of the Anglican Communion in February through the Dar es Salaam Communique.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

He won't be the parsley

Here is a taste of an excellent sermon on today's gospel reading from StandFirm website contributor Matt Kennedy...

So when Jesus says that if you come to him you must hate your family or you cannot be his disciple, he’s saying, very clearly, that if you are to be his follower, his disciple, you must be willing to put your relationship with him above every other relationship in your life. “I will not" in other words, "be the 'parsley' of your life,” says Jesus. You know that green stuff, that garnish on the side of your plate that makes the food, good or not, appear palatable. We sometime make Jesus our garnish, our parsely, our side dish. “I won’t be your side dish," says Jesus. "I’m not ‘a part of your life.’ And if you come expecting me to just ‘fit in’ somewhere between parties on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon football, you really aren’t coming to me. I must be your life. I come before your job. I come before your kids. I come before your parents. I come before your girlfriend or your boyfriend or your husband or your wife. Forsaking all others…”

Read the rest here.