Christ / Church / March 22, 2007

Episcopalians Continue Down Slippery Slope

For Aggies all over the country, the biggest thing going on in Texas this week is Texas A&M’s trip to San Antonio for the Sweet 16. For the rest of the world, the biggest thing going on in Texas just happened 30 minutes from Texas A&M itself. Episcopal bishops met at Camp Allen and took the next step down their slippery slope of separation from the worldwide Anglican communion. According to the Washington Post:

The nation’s Episcopal bishops have rejected a key demand from the larger Anglican Communion, saying a plan to place discontented U.S. parishes under international leadership could do permanent harm to the American church.

The plan to put conservative parishes under an international “pastoral council” would replace local governance with “a distant and unaccountable group of prelates” for “the first time since our separation from the papacy in the 16th century,” the U.S. bishops said in a written resolution. “We cannot accept what would be injurious to this Church and could well lead to its permanent division.”

In essence, this is a rejection of a last ditch effort by the Anglican communion to reach a compromise with American Episcopalians. The Anglicans wanted Episcopals to allow conservative American parishes to be governed by more conservative international leaders. The plan seemed doomed to fail from the start.
Why? Because there was no way that the American church would relinquish its authority. But more importantly, because it was an attempt to circumvent the real issue at hand. The primary problem is not how to deal with a few outlying conservative American parishes. Instead, the true issue is that there is a doctrinal divide over the authority and integrity of scripture.

To be honest, I think the liberal American Episcopalians got one thing right here–an ecclesiological adjustment is not what needs to happen. They just got it right for all the wrong reasons. You can’t overcome this separation over the view of scripture and the view of man just by adjusting the practice of the church.

For the worldwide Anglican communion, this compromise effort seems almost like trying to harvest organs from a dying cancer patient. They feel like they have done everything they can to cure the cancer that has ravaged the person’s body, and now they are trying to save those body parts which are uncorrupted so that they may be useful in the future for others. The cancer of biblical rejection has ravaged the Episcopal church, and they are attempting to salvage what is left.
We all know what happens when compromise fails. It seems as if it is only a matter of time before a full and final rift will occur.

Other news coverage on the issue:

Episcopal-Anglican rift deepens, LA Times — “U.S. bishops say no to a key demand.”

Episcopal bishops reject Anglican leaders’ demands, Nashville Tennessean — “NEW YORK — Episcopal bishops risked losing their place in the global Anglican family Wednesday by affirming their support for gays and rejecting a key demand that they give up some authority to theological conservatives outside the U.S. church.”

Episcopal bishops reject Anglican ultimatum on gays, USA Today — “The Episcopal House of Bishops has rebuffed an ultimatum from the worldwide Anglican Communion to establish a church-within-the-church to minister to parishes and dioceses that dissent from the U.S. church’s stances on homosexuality and the Bible.”

Episcopal Bishops in U.S. Defy Anglican Communion, Washington Post — “The nation’s Episcopal bishops have rejected a key demand from the larger Anglican Communion, saying a plan to place discontented U.S. parishes under international leadership could do permanent harm to the American church.”

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Mar 22, 2007

Agreed… unfortunately.

Glad Southern Baptists have never had this kind of problem.

…oh wait…

Mar 22, 2007

There are parallels. But we didn’t give up on curing the cancer. So, there was no need to try to harvest organs instead. However, similar things have happened in state Baptist conventions such as in Texas where it was determined that it was better to break off than to continue to attempt to restore things from the inside. The challenge is knowing when you have reached that point of no return. Seems to me like the Anglicans reached that a long time ago.

Mar 22, 2007

Good point.

Mar 23, 2007

Thanks for the condensed version of what’s going on in this thing. I hadn’t been keeping abreast of the situation – so my knowledge of the possible rift was lagging behind…

Would I much rather the Anglicans settle this issue without a permanent division? Yes – but only if it is settled on the side of Biblical authority and integrity. The old German reformer himself, once said it this way, “Peace if possible, but truth at any rate.” And so it is today…

Mar 28, 2007

[…] In light of the brewing controversy in the Episcopal Church, I’ve been thinking a lot about controversy among Southern Baptists. What helped us return to orthodoxy in the past and what will help us preserve it in the future? […]

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