Monday, December 18, 2006

My Opinion Re: "7 Virginia parishes vote to quit US Episcopal Church"



In the photo above, Truro Church rector Martyn Minns (right) and Falls Church rector John W. Yates II (left) are announcing their churches' decision to break away from my denomination, the US Episcopal Church.

What a sad day for God's church, and how sad God must be at this. Dr Jim West and I have had a dialog on these events today on his blog, where you can find my own opinions on this ugly mess (click here). The post itself is Jim's alone; you will find my reactions in the "Comments" that follow.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Jim said...

Hello Stephen!

You won't be surprised if I confess that for me, as an outsider to the problems in the Worldwide Anglican Communion, that the day which was sad to me was the day Robinson was installed. That day must have grieved God (if we can attribute such anthropomorphic notions to God).

Anyway, in spite of our differences on the issue, I still enjoy learning from you. And your book continues to enthrall!

Mon Dec 18, 08:40:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Thanks, Jim. I shall have some comments on your "un-book-review" series on your blog in days to come. And, first thing tomorrow, I have some comments for you on Bultmann, which I'm sure you will despise. :-) For now, let me reiterate my position that no matter how God may feel about the Robinson matter, God cannot be pleased with the fracturing of God's church. There is no ecclesiological justification for two Anglican churches within one diocese and no legal justification for these departing churches to hold on to their grounds or buildings. ---SLC

Mon Dec 18, 09:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Peter said...

How does a "parish" leave a diocese?

Parishes seem to be constituted within dioceses...

Doesn't some of the reporting of this congregational voting assume an ecclesiology that is robustly congregational in form, rather than one that is episcopally based?

It seems logical to me that an individual can leave a church, and that groups of individuals can leave churches, and that priests can walk away from their licenses to minister, but I do wonder how a "parish" leaves a diocese...or (in other cases, how a diocese leaves the church...)?

Tue Dec 19, 12:32:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger PamBG said...

The events in the Anglican communion have quite an effect on all British Christians - "even" us Methodists. ("Even" in scare-quotes because, of course, we have ratified a Covenant with the Church of England.)

My prayers are with the Anglican Communion and with its leaders.

Tue Dec 19, 08:16:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Yes, indeed, the tensions within the Anglican Communion call for our prayers. I was heartened over the summer when, together, the outgoing and incoming presiding bishops of ECUSA convinced the general convention to work hard and healing the Anglican Communion. Because this happened, it is very difficult to understand why these seven churches are voting to leave ECUSA. It makes you have to believe that no matter what general convention had done, these churches would have left anyway... ---Steve

Tue Dec 19, 09:24:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Dr. Cook!
I was refreshed to read your comments on Zwinglius Redivivus--especially regarding the central thrust of both Testaments. Rachel and I are Rectors at a small but very lively parish in the mountians of Southwestern Virginia (with two very great non-Starbuck's coffee shops, I might add). Our parish, like so many others, is home to a variety of views on homosexuality, but all are in agreement that it has been given importance far beyond any other aspect of our Christian mission. The challenges God calls us to face every day in our corner of the mountains are: unemployment, extreme poverty, predatory lending, high school drop out rates, and immigrant rights, among others. Compared to the suffering these issues cause, a division over homosexuality is a luxury we (and the entire Communion) cannot afford. While a theological response to the situation in the national church is imperative, it has no business eclipsing the love of God and neighbor the way we are called to express it in local churches. Those in our church on all sides of the issue feel betrayed by the actions of the churches who have left. What was otherwise a triumphant annual meeting of our church two days ago was marred by grief over these actions--actions which many feel go beyond self-rightousness to self worship. I was so glad to see that, even in the midst of your grief, you were able to express and affirm our mission with hope and joy. --John Gardner

Tue Dec 19, 01:26:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Well said, John, well said! Please visit often and leave more excellent comments. ---Steve

Tue Dec 19, 01:34:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Thomas said...

I agree that this has been a sad day but whether it will lead to the sad deconstruction of Anglicanism or whether there is light at the other end of the tunnel, I don't know. You may be interested in http://www.peter-ould.net/?p=177 - just because he agrees that there can only be one bishop in a diocese but for this reason thinks this is the beginning of something better.

Kevin A. Wilson downplays the importance of doctrine for the development of the Church of England and hence for Anglicanism and overplays the extent to which this crisis is about homosexuality. In my judgement, many "on the other side" genuinely believe that significant parts of TEC have abandoned the substance of Nicene Christianity. Ralph's call for "an atheist-liberal grudge match", to which you recently linked, may be part of this picture.

Wed Dec 20, 04:17:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Hi Thomas! Very interesting link! And yes, he does get to down to the key point that there can only be one bishop of Virginia. Here, to me, is his most controversial statement: "CANA is the beginning of the end for TEC, and they know it. It is the rump, but seeded and growing rump, of a movement that will provide a framework for orthodox bishops and ecclesiastical structures to be put in place in the USA where the current bishops and structures have apostatised." Given how tiny the CANA group is at the moment, I would think myself that this statement is overly optimistic. However, as you say, it does strongly point out how the folks in CANA really do talk as if ECUSA has apostasized away from Nicene Christianity. My pain and my problem is that I know Bshp Lee personally, I know the VA students that he sends through VTS where I teach, and I know how orthodox and creed-committed VTS really is. Therefore, from where I sit, I just can't see what CANA can possibly be talking about. I admit that ECUSA may possibly be heading somewhere far away from where Peter Lee and VTS currently are, but for now, to me, these CANA folks really seem to have lost touch with reality. ---SLC

Wed Dec 20, 07:37:00 AM GMT-5  

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