Saturday, November 12, 2005

Disputes Over Human Sexuality Only a Symptom Claim Conservatives; "Missionary Zeal" Replaced by Suicidal "Embrace" with Spirit of the Age Says Akinola

Conservative Episcopalians Urged to Split from ECUSA
Saturday, Nov. 12, 2005
Posted: 8:32:43AM EST

An international panel of Anglican archbishops challenged a gathering of conservative Anglicans in the United States to split from the rest of the U.S. Episcopal Church.

"Yes, we will stand with you as long as you remain faithful, biblical, evangelical and orthodox," said Bishop Datuk Yong Ping Chung, who represents South East Asia, according to the Associated Press.

The panel addressed the first official conference of conservative groups within the ECUSA that disagree with the direction of the larger church. Organized by the Anglican Communion Network and supported by all the major reformed Anglican groups in North America, the "Hope and a Future" visibly unites those who wish to remain Anglican but not a member of the more liberal ECUSA.

The network is headed by Pittsburgh's Episcopal Bishop Robert W. Duncan, who helped formed the group after his colleagues in the ECUSA consecrated an openly gay priest as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. Other points of conflict include the Canadian Anglican Church's nod and the ECUSA's tacit approval to blessing same sex "marriages."

Duncan, like most conservatives, views the division over sexuality as merely the tip of a more deeply submerged problem.

"These departures are a symptom of a deeper problem, which is the diminution of the authority of Holy Scripture," Duncan said as he opened the conference on Thursday.

Conservative Anglicans around the world agree with the view and the same day urged their counterparts to choose their allegiance.

"Many of you have one leg in ECUSA and one leg in the network. You must let us know exactly where you stand are you ECUSA or are you network?" Nigeria's Archbishop Peter Akinola said, prompting a loud standing ovation.

In the past, Akinola led conservatives in the 77-million communion (the majority of whom disagree with the gay bishop's ordination) in severing ties to the ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada. Most Anglican churches in Africa currently refuse missionaries from their North American counterparts, and the two churches are banned from partaking in an international consultative body of the worldwide communion.

According to liberals in the ECUSA, Akinola's comments to conservatives in the U.S. could be read as yet another "invitation to leave" behind the American church.

"My preference is that we all stand together and work out our differences and in some cases accept our differences," said Lionel Deimel, president of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh.
However, most conservatives fear the rift is too deep to cross. They say the ECUSA is teaching a 'new gospel' that counters historic Christianity. "

"Anglicanism is really now in a state of flux," said Archbishop Drexel W. Gomez of the West Indies. "We are being forced into this by people who are teaching something new and something totally different."

"I put the blame squarely on their shoulders."

The Hope and a Future Conference being held in Pittsburgh closes today.

Anglican Primate, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, captures the problem those on the right have with denominational revisionism: "We have been filled with grief as we have witnessed the decline of the North American Church that was once filled with missionary zeal and yet now seems determined to bury itself in a deadly embrace with the spirit of the age."

The parallels between what is happening in the ECUSA, UMC, PCUSA, and ELCA and the ABCUSA are striking. As in the ABC crisis, conservatives deny that the issue chiefly relates to the practice of homosexuality. Rather, the deeper problem alluded to by almost all spokespersons in these varied denominational conflicts concerns biblical authority. Pitsburgh's Episcopal Bishop Robert W. Duncan put it well when he told the assembly today that below the surface debates over human sexuality lies a crisis over the "diminution of the authority of Holy Scripture."

ABCUSA conservatives have continually voiced their concern that Valley Forge personnel hear and understand the true nature of the objection by those on the right. To date, the only answer is one of polity paralysis as Dr. Medley continues to reaffirm the absolute autonomy of the local congregation in our system of governance.


Eric Swensson said...

Great post, Dennis. Absolutely right, we are in this pandenominational fight for the Word of God (I'm ELCA, Metro NY and we are in need of prayer)

Keep up the good work, and I have ot say I love the title quote!

Craig Goodrich said...

One of the more interesting aspects of this cross-denominational push to redefine sin is the way the GLBT lobby revises their rhetoric to adapt to the ecclesiological "hot buttons" of the particular denomination.

Thus 815 (the ECUSA hq gang, from their address in NYC) speaks of "traditional Anglican tolerance of differences", ignoring the obvious fact that this has always been a tolerance for differences in churchmanship and relatively fine points of soteriology, not differences over basic Scriptural morality.

The ELCA push from Chicago accuses opponents of the homosexual movement of legalism, trading on the traditional Lutheran emphasis on the distinction between Law and Grace.

PCUSA hq in Louisville is stressing the "semper Reformanda" portion of their slogan, trading on Presbyterian pride in their Reformed theology (as well as their commitment to the independence of the presbyteries).

And now I discover that the Valley Forge Baptist revisionists are calling it an issue of "soul liberty," trading on the Baptist emphasis on individual Biblical interpretation.

The most telling fact, as far as I can see, in this whole business is the cheerful willingness of the GLBT lobby to completely wreck an institutional church (look at what has happened in the Episcopal church, and what is happening in the UCC) for the sake of some sort of pyrrhic "victory" for their self-esteem. This rather reinforces the stereotype of gay narcissism, doesn't it?