Sunday, August 31, 2003

Once Again, Our Host Thinks About Himself

I haven't updated in a while, and that's because I've been busy and a little sick. I know, I know, you come here expecting brilliant commentary on issues of the day and insights into theology, but have only had some whining about the Episcopal Church lately. Apologies all around.

Meanwhile, to all those people I know who whined about how awful my old car was and refused to ride with me whenever there was any other option, yet have found it in their hearts to say how much they miss that car now: please be quiet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Plano, We Have a Problem

In early October, orthodox American Episcopal bishops (yes, that's a redundancy) will meet to consider what course to take. Unfortunately, there's a problem. There are two groups within ECUSA and one group outside of it that are primarily in play. The two groups inside are the American Anglican Council (AAC) and Forward in Faith (FiF), the latter being an international organization. The group outside is the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), co-administered by the Province of Southeast Asia and the Province of Rwanda. So, if you were like me, you simply figured "oh, the AAC, FiF, and AMiA will all band together outside of ECUSA, seek alternative oversight, possibly from the Archbishop of Nigeria or someone similar, and the rest of the Anglican Communion will excommunicate ECUSA, replacing it with this orthodox quasi-province." I had overheard something about the AAC and FiF co-existing, but it didn't register with me what the problem was. It occurred to me a few days ago.

The American Anglican Council and the Province of Rwanda believe that ordaining women, at least for the priesthood if not the episcopacy, is okay. Forward in Faith and the Province of Southeast Asia are opposed to this. This is a problem. FiF has more ties internationally, but the AAC is stronger over here. Several FiF parishes in England requested oversight by the Archbishop of Sydney recently, which means that he is likely opposed to women's ordination. Meanwhile, the Bishop of Pittsburgh, perhaps the most outspoken of the bishops opposed to the ordination of Gene Robinson, is First Vice President of the AAC. The rector whom he sheltered from persecution by his local bishop is President of FiF-North America and is overseen by the Archbishop of Kenya, leading me to believe that the archbishop is opposed to women's ordination.

What this means is that we've got a mess. The only solution I can see, if all these are to band together, is for them to agree that women may not become bishops, but it is up to each individual parish whether or not to ordain female priests. Thus, those who are opposed may simply not attend a church with a female rector, while remaining secure in a parish with a man as rector. As their shared bishop would be a man, everyone should be happy, or at least placated.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

I Wonder

Yes, I know the post below was meant to be the last one before I left, but I forgot something I was going to mention. Should I put my AOL Instant Messenger screen name on this site? Would anyone even care if I did? Just a thought.

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It's Back to Tech I Go

I'm leaving for school tomorrow morning, and I don't know whether an ethernet connection awaits me or not (that's the roommate's job). If so, I'll blog more once I get there. If not, I won't. Simple.

Meanwhile, I considered posting my thoughts on all this papal infallibility business, but it occurred to me that I shouldn't. I read recently that "issues divide, mission unites," and I take that to heart. I don't buy the arguments put forth for many Roman Catholic positions (or those of many other groups, whether Protestants, Orthodox, Premillenialists, Charismatics, or whatever), but I can respect the people who do. I know David Heddle disagrees with me on this, but I feel like I'd be wasting my time and alienating people. TS O'Rama mentions Archbishop Fulton Sheen's point "win an argument, lose a soul," and I agree with that as well. What's too-often lacking is basic courtesy. I had a Protestant friend start railing against the Roman Catholics while we were in the nave of the Cathedral-Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, while I also keep seeing Catholic blogs calling Anglican leaders "bishops," pseudo-bishops, or talking about how sad it is that the See of Canterbury has been vacant for so very long. All of that is insulting and unnecessary.

I don't recognize any positions higher than archbishop, yet I still think we should call the Bishop of Rome the Pope and the archbishops directly under him cardinals. Likewise, while I know the Methodists don't have apostolic succession, I have no problem with calling their leaders bishops, as that's what they call themselves. "Bishop" literally means "overseer" (epi=above/over, skopos=watcher/seer), and thus could very easily even apply to someone like a Bible Study leader.

Sorry, the abuse of nomenclature is a big no-no with me, and I couldn't let this go. Have a good day, and see you later this week!

Friday, August 15, 2003

A Thought

This just occurred to me, and I don't know what to make of it. Presumably Roman Catholics will have more of a handle on it than I do.

St. James the Less was the first head of the Church after Christ died (and was resurrected). St. Peter only became the head of the Church later on, after James' death. James never occupied the "seat of Peter," as it hadn't yet become Peter's. The Roman Catholic premise of the Pope rests on the idea that the Bishop of Rome is the successor to Peter. If Peter was the most important, then why was James selected as leader?

Now, James was Bishop of Jerusalem (or perhaps rather a proto-bishop), and Peter was Bishop of Rome, but that doesn't really seem to mean as much as it might. After all, James never went to Rome, and my understanding is that it's not Rome that's important, but rather the place where Peter established his seat. Thus, if he'd established it at, say, Sparta, the Roman Catholic Church would instead be the Spartan Catholic Church (an oxymoron?). I have to admit that it looks to me as if the Bishop of Rome before the schism of AD 1054 simply decided that he was pre-eminent and dredged up some evidence, rather than looking where the evidence pointed. Essentially, my question revolves around the problem of why Peter wasn't the first head of the Church if it was he who was given authority by Christ. There is no record of Peter objecting to the selection of James, as if he thought the Church was making a terrible mistake and disobeying the will of God. If it was Peter who was given the authority, then James must not have had any, as it still rested with Peter. I don't know whether I believe the successors of Peter have the same authority he did (they might; I'm just unsure right now), but it seems to me as if it remains to be seen whether Peter had that authority in the first place. If you argue that the head of the Church, and not necessarily Peter until he became the head, has the authority, then you need to throw out all arguments about Christ giving the keys of heaven to Peter.

And yes, to throw a bone to Protestant readers: Christ is our great high priest (we need no other) and it is Christ who is the head of the Church.

Catholics: I'm not trying to antagonize you (really!). I know there are some very smart minds out there, and presumably this issue has come up before and been thoroughly discussed. I'm not enough of a genius (close, perhaps) to be the first person to see this, so if there's no official position (the RCC seems to have an official position on just about everything), then I have to wonder why. Give me a good argument why I'm wrong and you score a point towards me crossing the Tiber. If nothing comes up, then that's going to be further affirmation to me that Roman Catholicism offers no benefits not also offered by Anglicanism.

ADDENDUM: I have no wish to demonize the Roman Catholic Church. I respect it, and have several times defended it to Protestant friends who have argued against it. My argument is simply that Roman Catholicism is as valid a denomination as Anglicanism, Lutheranism, Pentecostalism, or Orthodoxy. I argue that the Pope, being Bishop of Rome, has essentially the same relationship to the bishops of the Roman Communion as the Archbishop of Canterbury has to the bishops of the Anglican Communion: first among equals. I'm not sure of my stance on apostolic succession, but I do believe that Anglicans have the same claim, whatever it may be, to it as do Catholics and Orthodox.

Quotes of the Day

Again, I apologize for the recent crabbiness. So long as I don't hear anything on my own blog about how "Anglican 'bishops' don't count, since they're really just pretending to be priests anyway because they're not part of the Church of Rome," everything should be okay from here on out.

Meanwhile, the Comments section of Mark Shea's blog provided two gems recently.

#1: "I hope to high heavens that the shark has been jumped, because I am truly all gayed out." -Chris

#2: "The first politician who successfully demonizes homosexuality will be elected King." -Paul

I think we're all gayed out right about now. Actually, I don't entirely know what that means, but I'm sure it'll come back to bite me at some point. Meanwhile, I don't think such a person in #2 would be elected King, but it might be somewhat appropriate if he were to be ordained as a bishop.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

A Bit of a Rant

Notice: I'm probably going to offend any Protestant or Catholic readers of this site. I apologize in advance.

For a while now, I've had a problem with mainstream Protestantism. To my mind, they fail to appreciate the beauty and glory inherent in art, architecture, and the liturgy. I disagree with them on several fairly major doctrinal issues, and it seems (not necessarily "is true") to me that most Evangelical Protestants seem to always about that close to snapping and becoming Puritans who want to burn Catholics (they'll presumably get to the Anglicans in time as well) at the stake for witchcraft. Several years ago I looked into several of the major Protestant denominations before finally deciding that there was just too much missing for me to switch. Most of my friends are Protestants, and I tend to have a lot more fun hanging out with them than with my Catholic friends (not a rule, to be sure!). However, in light of what appears to me to be an unintentionally disrespectful attitude towards God, I tend to think of myself as being pretty much evenly split between the Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic schools of Anglican thought and practice.

Recently, and even before this whole ECUSA SNAFU, I've been examining the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church (I looked into Eastern Orthodoxy, too, but their doctrines are just too far out for me, though without question they're Christians). I don't agree with many of their doctrines, but I understand them, and in most cases they're the sort of things where I wouldn't have any problem changing my own beliefs if I truly believed the Roman Catholic (I lump in all denominations in communion with the Church of Rome here, such as Marion Rite and Easter Rite) beliefs to be correct. I very much enjoy reading Catholic blogs, as they are very often superior in theological quality to Protestant blogs (again, with some very strong exceptions), at least from an Anglican perspective. However, there's a sort of pervading arrogance in the writings of many Catholics I've read, and often ignorance as well. I don't mean the kind of arrogance where you'd simply say "eh, they believe differently; no big thing" but rather the kind where you're instinctive response is to say something unutterable on a Christian blog. If they were saying something correct but in a rude way, I'd be offended but would probably accept the doctrine while disliking the proponent. Instead, I see the same sort of arrogance that caused the Eastern Orthodox churches to break away from Rome in AD 1054.

My main points of contention with the Roman Catholics is the validity of Anglican apostolic succession and the denial of Anglicanism as a Protestant faith. The Church of England prior to Henry VIII was a mixture of Roman Catholicism and Celtic Christianity, the latter of which arrived first and should rightly be considered an Orthodox faith, similar to the Greek Orthodox Church, for historical reasons and not necessarily theological ones. Prior to the coming of St. Augustine of Canterbury (sent by Rome to reconvert the pagans of southern England) in the fifth century, several British bishops participated in church councils of the fourth century who owed their allegiance to the monastery on the island of Iona off the coast of Scotland, as did the rest of British Christendom. In fact, in AD 1061, the See of Canterbury, one of the twin provinces of the Church of England, swore allegiance to the papal claimant in Lombardy rather than the one in Rome, and only changed this after William the Conqueror arrived five years later and forced the switch of allegiance by replacing nearly all the previous bishops. As this brought many financial benefits, people were generally content for about five hundred years until, partially swayed by the Protestants in Parliament, partially by his anger at the Pope, and partially by his own theological views (he had only a few years before been declared "Defender of the Faith" by the Pope; a title retained by British monarchs today), Henry VIII declared that the Church of England no longer owed allegiance to Rome but to the King of England. This was later amended by Elizabeth I to have the monarch as "Supreme Governor" and to transfer most of the church authority to the bishops, but the Church of England was now one of Orthodox and Catholic roots which had departed from Rome due to Protestant thought. It is this confusion and overlap which causes many scholars to simply refer to Anglicanism as the fourth major division of Christianity, especially as both Catholics and Protestants will claim that the other group is actually the home of Anglicans. Though no longer in communion with the [Arch]Bishop of Rome (whom I usually call the Pope, like everyone else, except when I'm being specific), the Church of England and its daughter churches retain a valid apostolic succession dating back to St. Peter. Catholics and Orthodox will deny it (most Protestants will simply roll their eyes), though without presenting much of an argument against it ("Pope Leo said no" doesn't cut it with people who don't recognize papal infallibility).

A New Beginning?

I'm officially in the market for a church. Non-Anglicans can stop smirking; I said a new church, not a new denomination. My first choice would be The Falls Church, an American Anglican Council-affiliated parish. It's also the largest in the Diocese of Virginia, and, together with Truro Episcopal Church and two others, is over half the population of the diocese. They're more than slightly miffed that our bishop, Peter James Lee, voted for the ordination as bishop of Gene Robinson and basically think he's been playing politics instead of following the Bible. Thus, talking with the lady who runs their bookstore and one of the rectors (who was formerly rector of the church where I'm a member but haven't been in over three years), I learned that while they're willing to wait until the meetings in Plano and Lambeth, it's thought that their parish will leave ECUSA unless there's some extremely dramatic turnaround in ECUSA's views.

I've got a few others next in line, should The Falls Church not work out. Church of the Holy Spirit, in Roanoke, is an Anglican Mission in America -affiliated parish that left the Diocese of Southwest Virginia due to their bishop supporting Planned Parenthood and being generally hostile to them. I don't know very much about Truro Episcopal Church, in Fairfax, except that William Sulik is a member there and that this church hosted the AAC gathering of bishops opposed to Robinson's ordination. Lastly, there's Church of the Good Shepherd, in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, which is technically part of the Diocese of Pennsylvania (whose bishop denies the sinlessness of Christ and other basic Christian doctrines) but is served by clergy who've been taken in by African Anglican bishops and are overseen by Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh. David Moyer, the rector, is head of Forward in Faith North America, and was in the news a few years ago for refusing to allow the Bishop of Pennsylvania to preside over services, as is Episcopalian custom. This last church is probably the one I'll be attending should I decide to become a missionary with World Impact and serve in Chester, PA, though I would prefer to remain a member of whichever church I choose in the next few days or weeks.

If any of these churches (other than COTHS, which already left) decides not to leave ECUSA (again, barring a miracle among Episcopalian leadership), I would transfer my membership elsewhere. I'm currently a member of Olivet Episcopal Church, as it's one of the closest to my house, but they're not a member of either the American Anglican Council or Forward in Faith, and the fact that the rector from while I was there left to join The Falls Church indicates to me that it probably wasn't a very conservative parish. I only went there perhaps a dozen times during my Senior year of high school, and actually stopped going very shortly before the rector switched churches. I haven't been back, mostly because I never really knew anyone there. I've never really had a "home church" before, and unless you count my Bibly Study leader from last year, I've never really had a pastor, either. I'd like to have both, especially if I decide to become a missionary. Luckily, there seem to be enough AAC parishes in the Diocese of Virginia and FiF parishes in the Diocese of Pennsylvania to give me a reasonable shot at finding a good church.

UPDATE: I was wrong in a statement in an earlier post. While their laity and clergy voted in favor of ordaining Robinson, Bishop David Bane of Southern Virginia, despite what looks to me to be a rather wishy-washy letter, voted against. I'm still a little suspicious of him, but I'm thankful for small favors.

That's Right! A Quiz!

You are MARLIN!
What Finding Nemo Character are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

(via Bene Diction)


Not here, really, but elsewhere. In case you hadn't noticed, the Midwest Conservative Journal, run by an Anglican very deeply in angst over this ECUSA thing, has moved. Meanwhile, Louder Fenn appears to be on indefinite hiatus at the moment. I hope he comes back, since I loved reading his posts, especially on theology from a Catholic perspective. Besides, I need to know if he ever pulled the stunt on his girlfriend that I suggested.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

On What HokiePundit Did During His Internship

I had a really funny but not especially family-audience-appropriate joke to start this post, but I'll skip it.

As you may know, I spent the past six weeks in Chester, Pennsylvania with World Impact as a missionary/intern/teacher. I had twenty-some kids from first grade through fourth, and it was my job to help them retain their knowledge from the previous year and not kill each other. Though it was really a summer school, we called it a camp so the kids would think they were having fun (suckers!!!). Basically, I'd arrive at eight in the morning, sit outside with the kids as they arrived until eight-thirty, and then take them down and supervise them during breakfast. At nine-fifteen, they'd go up for Praise and Worship for half an hour while I collected myself for the day (prayed, made photocopies, sharpened pencils, etc.). After that, they sort-of did classwork until noon and then had lunch. The afternoon was essentially three hours of recess, interrupted by occasional educational programs and trips to the pool. I'd then sit with the kids until they were all picked up (around four-ish).

It was very hard, very stressful work. Realistically, I shouldn't have had more than fifteen kids, and no more than two grades. However, there was only the director, another volunteer, and myself, so we worked with what we had. I worked very hard to get the kids to pretend to remember the discipline they learned during the school year. I was like the Grand Old Duke of York, marching the kids up and down the stairs until they had a line that was straight, silent, and lacked people hitting each other. I tried taking away recess, sending people to the hall or director's office, and refusing to let them go swimming with everyone else. I had no experience or training in classroom management, and I'm amazed that I lasted until the end without a rebellion. Still, whenever the kids saw me outside of class they'd say hi, so I figure I wasn't being any harsher than the kids expected from their teacher.

I stayed with Andrew and Barry, who were in and out during my time there. I also ended up spending a fair amount of time with Pam and Vicki, though Erin, Renee, Theresa, and Anna were hardly ever around. Besides, the mission director's kids were around, and were about my age (16, 19, and 20), so we had fun there as well. The Andrew, Barry, and I stuffed ourselves at an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant, culminating in us staggering out the door, full to the brim (I was so full I was limping). I teased Pam (29) mercilessly about her age and Vicki about her ability to turn bright pink at the first sign of sunlight. Barry, of course, was absolutely no match for me in Mario Kart 64 or Super Smash Brothers, while I had one game of Madden 64 against Andrew where every time I ran the ball on first down, I'd score a touchdown. Of course, he shut me out during the next game, but one can't win them all.

Ah yes, anecdotes. On the first night, my roommates were still in Los Angeles for staff training, so I was alone. Suddenly, around 2AM, I hear loud music playing. Groggily, I thought "man, some dude has a loud stereo out there." A few seconds later: " sounds like he's playing Shout to the North...I didn't expect to hear praise songs in the ghetto. Oh, right." It turned out that Barry had left his stereo on, so I fumbled around to turn it off (it took me several nights of this before I simply unplugged it). I also had nightmares. I would dream that some of the kids in my class were in my room in the middle of the night, and that I really wanted to go back to sleep but felt I shouldn't since I was now responsible for them. I'd go back to sleep in my dream anyway, and when I woke up I'd freak out because I couldn't find the kids at all. One night, I dreamed that they'd suddenly ran out of my room and down the stairs. In my dream, I got up and looked down the stairs, seeing the last of them turn the corner at the bottom of the stairs. At this point, I actually woke up, but, being groggy, decided I'd better check downstairs just to make positively sure no one was there. When I got to the bottom, Andrew, who for some reason never sleeps in his room, was still up and asked me what I was doing. I told him I was looking for the kids, to which he replied "what kids?" I insisted on looking around, and, not finding them, muttered something about taking away their recess for the next day before heading back up. Later that week I had a dream where the kids were in my room, but I decided that since this had to be a dream I was okay to go back to sleep, only to wake up in my dream to not find the kids and panic at the thought that maybe it hadn't been a dream in the first place. Of course, Vicki once dreamed that she'd beheaded two students for misbehaving, so things could've been worse.

One week, I'd left the girls in my class with a speaker from the Girl Scouts while I watched over the boys. Suddenly, the secretary asks me to come downstairs, where I find out that the girls had been ignoring the speaker, causing her to leave. The director came down and told them they'd lost recess and that they had to write letters of apology to the speaker, which they were to do the next day. So, at recess, I let the boys go and had the girls sit down at a picnic table by the playground to write their letters. Suddenly, the entire thing collapsed on them, causing eight girls to scream bloody murder. A regular teacher who happened to be in the building came out, and she escorted the six who seemed to be in pain to the nurse's office. They were wailing and leaning on each other for support like crippled soldiers who'd survived an ambush. I checked up on them a few minutes later to find that only one of them even had a scratch, and that scratch had only broken the top layer of skin. After that, we went inside for recess and the girls worked on their letters there. K******a asked me for a good Bible verse on respecting authority to use in her letter, and I suggested one for her. She pulled out an NRSV and looked puzzled. "Mr. Rob, it says to honor all men, but the Girl Scouts are women." I was blindsided by this question, and had to try very, very hard not to laugh. I let her borrow my NIV, which was more gender-neutral in that case, and everything turned out okay.

Perhaps the weirdest thing was on the very last day, after camp was over as the kids were waiting to be picked up. I was pretending to be a monster and chasing the kids around the gym, and at one point they surrounded me in order to capture me. Suddenly, I felt something sharp on my rear end. I turned around to see a four-year-old boy who would be going into pre-kindergarten in the coming year. "D****n, did you just bite me?" He nodded. I was dumbfounded. "Um, D****n, we don't bite people here." He nodded very seriously. "Do you understand?" He nodded again, very gravely. I didn't know what to do at that point, so I just let him run off, hoping he wouldn't bite anyone else in the rear.


I know I've been grouchy here lately. Sorry. I've been thinking about my own denomination, Christian relations, the state of the world in general, and I'm just spent right now. I know there's a lot of good out there, and constantly examining the bad eventually takes its toll on a person. I know that authentic Christianity, no matter how persecuted and no matter who does it, will always survive. I even know that there will be conscionable Anglican means of worship available wherever I live (well, assuming I live somewhere on the East Coast, at least). I just need a little time to stop and appreciate all the good in the world and to concentrate on other matters. I'll still be blogging, but I hope to be essentially done with these angst-ridden posts on ECUSA, at least until October. Until then, I'm sure I've got enough stories about the kids at my internship to last me quite a while.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

And More...

Yeah, so I was a little upset in the post below. To sum up for non-Anglicans: if we wanted to be in your church, we'd already be there. We appreciate your sympathy, but very few of those who'll be leaving the Episcopal Church intend to quit Anglicanism. I've been reading several new Anglican-run blogs lately, and may be adding some of them to the Land o' Links before too long. We'll see.

It occurs to me that one of the things that most upsets me about this whole situation (heresy and heterodoxy, in case you'd forgotten) is that the traditionalists (conservatives, Evangelicals, and some Anglo-Catholics) will be the ones walking out on ECUSA even as ECUSA walks out on the Anglican Communion. What this means is that the confessing church within ECUSA will lose our lovely churches and cathedrals, and to me that's the part of all this that really stings. I realized a long time ago that not everyone who called themself a Christian actually knew or believed anything about Christ. I'm okay with being in a small denomination that's often the butt of jokes (I wish the jokes were more friendly and less bitter, of course). I don't mind that my Protestant friends insist that I'm a Catholic and my Catholic friends insist that I'm a Protestant while I insist that I'm neither. I've come to terms with the fact that Episcopalians have pretty bad hymns and can't sing them well anyway. It's all pretty much okay. What's beginning to horrify me is the loss of our church buildings. Any Protestants reading this will have to forgive me, but your churches are drab and dull. I don't like them at all. The art and architecture within a church glorify God, and to do without those is, to me, a great tragedy. While I have many doctrinal differences with Catholics and Orthodox, their churches tend to be lovely, and I sometimes visit Catholic churches simply because I know they'll be gorgeous inside. While many Anglicans enjoy modern styles of worship, we still expect to see an altar and a priest wearing the proper robe and stole. Furthermore, we tend to like the idea of simply kneeling down with the Book of Common Prayer in a deserted but beautiful side chapel every so often to commune with God and reflect on His glory. Nature's nice, but seeing beauty made by God working through human hands is something Protestants all too often fail to appreciate. It especially surprises me given that they venerate the Bible as God speaking through man, but seem to reject any other instance of this save miracles and gifts of the Spirit. We faithful Anglicans are probably going to lose all of that and at least briefly end up borrowing other churches for a bit for our worship or using new buildings.

Don't get me wrong; there are times when we rely too much on the gifts of God and not enough on God himself (I think this also applies heavily to Catholics and Orthodox), and losing those will be a good lesson to us. Perhaps ECUSA will try and avoid legal battles and allow departing parishes to keep their property, or it can be bought back in short order. I'd rather worship in a bathroom with a sincere congregation than in Canterbury Cathedral with fakers (my prayer group did meet in a bathroom once, incidentally). Still, it hurts, and I hope we can at least retain some of our cathedrals and parish churches.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Ah Yes

We'll start off today's post with some relevant quotes. First, for the Episcopal Church USA, "video meliora, proboque; deteriora sequor" (with a nod to TS O'Rama), meaning "I see the right way, approve it, and do the opposite." Next is Christopher Johnson a fellow Episcopalian (for now), with "It's just that I've never had my denomination reject the Christian religion before and I'm kind of new at this." I suppose we could look back at an awful lot of things ECUSA has done and prove Christopher wrong, but most of those things tended to slide under our radars, so we can at least play the ignorance card, weak as it is.

I'd also like to notify all you Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox members that while I appreciate your interest in raising the membership of your denominations, I'm not currently shopping for a new one. I'm pretty sure that I'll be leaving ECUSA before too long, but you've got a whole pile of churches in the Anglican tradition that take precedence over you. I'm sure that Rome is lovely this time of year, that the filioque clause is probably something worth getting hot and bothered about one way or the other, and that the PCA, LCMS, SBC, UMC, AoG, etc. are made up of very lovely people whom I'd be honored to meet, but you see, we're having dinner right now and this really isn't a good time to call so please have a nice day [click]. In your minds, Anglicanism has suddenly exploded, leaving helpless survivors thrashing about for a theological lifeline, and you're only too happy to throw everything you've got to [at?] us. The problem is that if we wanted to be in Rome, we would've left Canterbury a long time ago. If we wanted to worship in funny-shaped churches, we'd be Orthodox by now. If we didn't have a sneaking suspicion that you Protestants were always only that far from becoming Puritans who would go into convulsions and foaming at the mere utterance of "bishop," we'd be worshipping in your often-drab churches at the moment. Yes, I know I'm being offensive. Trying to cherry-pick at a time when Anglicans both here and abroad are still in shock is far worse. Back off. Don't call us; we'll call you. We've got your number on a business card around here somewhere.

The Thirty-Nine Articles still hold, as do the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. Most Anglican bishops oppose the heterodoxy adopted by the General Convention. Not only can we find Episcopalian bishops who remain orthodox here in America, but there are all sorts of Archbishops in other, often larger, provinces who support Christ as well. If no new alternative to ECUSA is set up, I'll join the Anglican Mission in America and be under Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of the Province of Rwanda before I'll switch denominations.

As I said above, referring to Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox, back off. Now is not the time.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

About Theology

You may have noticed that there hasn't been a Theological Foray here in a while, and one of any quality for even longer. This is because, in several areas, I'm tired. I'm tired of politics. I'm tired of apologetics. I'm tired of theology. I'm tired of history. Why? In part, it's because it's summer and I generally stick to fiction over the summer, since I read enough nonfiction during the school year (I'm currently on an Alexandre Dumas kick; he's one of the few things I think France has given the world that's of any value). Partly it's because the War on Terror has been tiring me out intellectually. Partly it's due to debating minutiae with people just trying to get my goat.

In response, I've decided that now is a time to act, rather than think (not that I've given up the former entirely). That, and being a missionary teacher are taking a lot of time and energy. The current scandalous behavior of my denomination has made me feel very defeated lately, and I probably picked up a bug from one of my students. That's not complaining. I'm very glad to be doing what I'm doing right now, and I'm sure I'll miss it once I go back to school.

I've never really felt comfortable with simply going up to a stranger and saying "Guess what?!? Jesus loves you!" I don't think that's very effective, and is probably more harmful than helpful. I prefer doing the right thing and figuring that if people want to know why I'm doing something good for them or someone else, they'll ask. I read recently the statement that "ideas divide, mission unites," and I really believe that. When you stop and look at all the "flavors" of Christianity, many of which hate each other, you can only laugh or cry. The more I look at some issues, the more I wonder not only why I was ever interested in them, but why they're such hang-ups.

Repeat after me: eschatology is a useless pursuit. Read Daniel and Revelation, make some decisions, and then either wait until you die and it's revealed to you or it actually happens and you can take notes. I don't care if you favor Premillenialism, Postmillenialism, Amillenialism, or any other possibilities. None of us knows for sure, and it doesn't matter anyway. Calvinism vs. Arminism (Predestination vs. Free Will) is almost as useless. Follow the Great Commandment (love God, love your neighbor) and the Great Commission (go and make disciples of all the nations), and you'll do okay. Baptism? If you believe that it's very, very helpful for salvation but not utterly essential, then it doesn't really matter if it's by dunking or dripping or as a baby or as an adult. Calvinists especially ought not have any problems with this one. Communion? Whether it's the literal body and blood of Christ, the heavenly body and blood, or simply a memorial, the point is that you ought to take it on a regular basis and have repented before doing so.

Being an Evangelical, I often talk with Protestants who bash Catholics (I sometimes see Catholics snub Protestants, too). Half the time, it's rooted in ignorance anyway, but I especially can't stand it when it's insinuated that Catholics aren't real Christians. It usually throws Protestants off-guard when I tell them that I'm not a Protestant and that I don't believe in sola scriptura. The point is that it's beyond stupid for Christians to belittle their brothers and sisters in Christ over trivial things. I would happily attend Catholic services (being respectful enough not to take communion but to simply ask for a blessing), and I've happily attended uber-Protestant services where I thought the service was devoid of beauty but had enough heart and faith to make up for it (I'm leaving out the Orthodox because I very simply don't know all that much about them in practice).

What am I saying? I might just be rambling, incoherent at what my own denomination has done. I think what I'm trying to do is wrap my mind around why Christians continue to attack each other instead of putting aside the petty differences and doing God's work.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Somewhere Between Tired and Frustrated

So, my original plan was to see how the vote on confirming Gene Robinson (I utterly refuse to call him "Reverend") as Bishop of New Hampshire turned out and then make my decision. If utterly rejected by both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, things would be very good, and I likely wouldn't have to worry about ECUSA possibly endorsing same-sex marriages, either. If the bishops were in favor but the laity and clergy weren't, I would likely have considered this a good thing. If the reverse was true, then it would be time for some serious education from the bishops and conservatives about what the Bible says about homosexuality. If both houses voted for him, I had decided I would leave ECUSA in the near future. Preferably, the American Anglican Council, Forward in Faith, and the Anglican Mission in America would work with the rest of the Anglican Communion to set up an Anglican Church of America (or whatever they might choose to call it), and as soon as that got started I'd switch from one to the other. If they proved incapable of doing so, I'd simply switch to the Anglican Mission in America, which is overseen (in my area) by the Archbishop of Rwanda. If that somehow fell through, I don't know what I'd do. I might've considered requesting membership in a foreign small-o orthodox Anglican province, joining an Anglican splinter group here, or simply attending Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox services until things could be sorted out.

With the allegations of sexual misconduct against Robinson, things have changed. I'd looked upon this as a golden opportunity for everyone to finally lay their cards on the table, but I doubt that will happen now. The General Convention will end with the seat of Bishop of New Hampshire still vacant, the legislation to allow same-sex marriage liturgies in dioceses which desire them will either pass and be watered-down enough to prevent an exodus or be postponed, and things will simply continue on as they'd been going, until either the US General Convention in 2006 or the next Anglican Communion-wide Lambeth Conference in 2008. Meanwhile, I've found out that my bishop, Peter James Lee, announced his intention to vote for Robinson. According to the AAC website, none of the Virginia dioceses were even split in their votes to confirm Robinson. I'm not sure if I ought to quit my diocese, quit ECUSA entirely, or work for the removal of Lee and denial of heterodoxy by the unilateral US branch of my denomination.

I would have a hard time switching to any other denomination. I disagree with Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox each on theological and doctrinal points. I think Protestants completely misunderstand the purpose of church services, while Catholics have gotten confused by their own syncretism to the point that they often confuse the symbol with what is being symbolized. The objections to the Orthodox are similar to those of the Catholics, though I don't know them as well. Of course, since I've never really had a home church or pastor anyway, being on my own again, while certainly not spiritually healthy, is something I've dealt with before and can put up with for a little while longer while I figure out what to do. I've been thinking a lot about ecumenicism lately, and may post on that at some point.

[I'm blogging during my lunch, so links will have to wait until later.]

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Not Dead

Yes, I'm still alive. Yes, I'm [all too] aware of what's going on in the Episcopal Church right now. I've basically decided what I'll do in any of the eventualities I think may occur. I'll post more on this once the ordination of Gene Robinson has been voted up or down, and while I hope orthodoxy will spontaneously break out among the delegates, I don't anticipate being an Episcopalian for more than another week at the most (though I would never dream of becoming something other than Anglican).

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