Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Christian Conflict Resolution... Shouldn't There be Resolution at Some Point?

Earlier this year, the Rev. Canon Phil Ashey discussed the errors and unbiblical nature of the current methods of conflict resolution utilized by certain leaders in the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal church. I have some of his words quoted below. Recently, my bishop (Andrew Waldo, Upper South Carolina) sponsored a clergy education day on "conflict resolution" that may have been intended to help some of our priests navigate the troubled waters stirred up by the Bishop's recent approval of a rite for blessing same sex intercourse. I suspect that Canon Ashey's approach was not the subject of discussion. My interpretation of our Bishop's approach to conflict resolution is that he intends to confuse people enough so that they believe that there is no resolution possible to "the issue", and that "vive la différence" should be the unifying principle as we move forward with same sex blessings being blessed in some parishes and condemned in others.

In 2001, when the storm clouds of innovation and doctrinal disagreement were gathering, two leaders of churches in the Anglican Communion, Archbishops Drexel Gomez (West Indies) and Maurice Sinclair (Southern Cone), addressed the matter of facilitated conversations in To Mend the Net: Anglican faith and Order for Renewed Mission (Ekklesia, 2001).  In their critique of the Anglican Communion’s Virginia Report, they described the then Communion “processes of reception” for addressing disagreements as hopelessly naïve– procedural solutions only that did not (and still do not) do justice to the nature and function of authority in the Church.  The operating assumption then, and now, is that if we have the right referee and the right “rules of discourse,” we will inevitably come to the right conclusion.

But in 2001 Gomez and Sinclair spoke with prophetic insight and up-to-the-minute relevance in describing the fatal flaw of facilitated conversations AFTER innovations have been allowed to disrupt the spiritual unity of the church without any consequences:

“the way the ‘process of reception’ is presented and set up for consideration has, practically speaking, only one or two possible results, eventual acceptance of the innovation or a never-ending period of reception.”  (63).

This is the heart of the new religion of reconciliation:  facilitated conversations (Indaba) that can have only two possible results:  eventual acceptance of the innovations, or a never- ending process of facilitated conversations, until all resistance is vanquished.
There is another biblical way for addressing doctrinal disagreements that come packaged as disciplinary questions.  It’s a process that Paul knew well– he was one of the main figures who participated in it.  The presenting issue was whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised and follow the Mosaic law.  Behind this disciplinary issue was a critical doctrinal issue:  is the grace of Christ alone sufficient, his death on the cross for all sin, and appropriation of his saving grace by faith?  The Council of Jerusalem met and had some conversations about that.  They listened to testimony.  They prayed.  They sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  They sought the mind of the whole body at that time (“It seemed good to us…” Acts 15: 28).

But above all they weighed every word, and every disagreement, against the Word of God so that whatever they decided would agree with the testimony of God’s word, the Bible (Acts 15:15).  In the end, it meant saying “no” to the Judaizers.

And that is what Groves and practitioners of “facilitated conversations” simply cannot accept.  God save us from the substitution of “relational reconciliation” as an end in itself for the true spiritual unity that comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ – even when that Gospel says “no.”Read it all here.
To most of the Christians in the world and to this simple pewsitter, the Gospel clearly says "No" to the Church's blessing of same sex intercourse.

This creates a conflict in a relationship that cannot be resolved with a "You say yes, I say no" because, as the Beatles pointed out years ago, that eventually leads to "You say Goodbye, and I say Hello."
Hela heba helloaHela heba helloa, cha cha chaHela heba helloa, woooHela heba helloa, helaHela heba helloa, cha cha chaHela heba helloa, woooHela heba helloa, cha cah cah [fade out]

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pin This On Your Door!

From Anglican Mainstream where there is more,
"The vocation of the Church is to be a community where as far as possible disagreement does not exist because truth is known, accepted and celebrated." - Martin Davie
Pin that on your door!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Some Stories Just Beg For More Details

When I read this, I was left with one burning question. I will happily post my question in the comments, but I will give my readers first crack at it. 

SEATTLE (AP) — "It was little comfort to the residents of a Seattle home along Lake Washington when the naked man who crashed through their front door began loudly reciting Scripture.
Police say a woman in the home called 911 at about 2 a.m. Tuesday while her husband grabbed a baseball bat to protect his wife and two young children on the home's upper floor.
Arriving officers spotted a naked man walking down the street, talking to himself. He took off running, they chased and caught him.
Police say after they arrested the 20-year-old man for investigation of burglary, he told them he'd taken LSD. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center for treatment, then booked into jail." 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Truth Without Consequences: This Sunday's Lectionary Edits

In this Sunday's lectionary reading (and next week's as well) , it is the Gospel of Matthew that draws the blade of the editor's knife. After telling the parable of the sower of the seeds, the lectionary jumps (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23) to the explanation of the parable by skipping Jesus' explanation of why he has chosen this method of teaching. Verses 10-17 contain some of the more difficult parts of this Chapter of Matthew. See what you think,

 Then the disciples came and asked him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’  He answered, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.  For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.  The reason I speak to them in parables is that “seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.”  With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:
“You will indeed listen, but never understand,
   and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
   and their ears are hard of hearing,
     and they have shut their eyes;
     so that they might not look with their eyes,
   and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
   and I would heal them.”
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.
Some of the more difficult words of our Lord for a revisionist preacher to tackle may be, "from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away." Never mind that it appears to me that the "dull hearted" who have "shut their eyes" and ears are "those who have nothing", and Jesus' healing is what they stand to have taken away.

The very idea that there might be anyone who will not be saved is anathema to revisionists.

It is scary to think what the consequences might be to those who shut their eyes and ears to Jesus' words of warning. It is even more frightening to think what may happen to those who keep those words from God's people.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Upper South Carolina Clergy Called to Attend Training on Crisis and Conflict Resolution

It was interesting to see that not long after our bishop released,
Bishop Waldo's Decision on the Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships,
"In Dialogue with Sacred Tradition: A Pastoral and Theological Reflection on Same-Sex Blessings",
"In Dialogue with Each Other: A Curriculum from The Bishop's Task Force on Unity and Faithfulness"
that we see a little special ed organized for those who have been ordered to carry the curriculum to the congo.
Calendar: Diocesan Events
Title: Clergy Training Day (Crisis and Conflict Resolution)
Date: 07/09/2014 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Location: All Saints, Clinton
 Coincidence? I think not.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Yet Another Reason to Not Visit the National Cathedral

Darth Vader Gargoyle found on the National Cathedral in Washington DC
Many of us are enjoying a three day weekend today thanks to our National Fourth of July holiday. While our nation does not officially elevate one religion over another, we do have this thing we call the "National Cathedral" in Washington DC. Recently, the ruling religion of the day was on full display,  

Transgender priest preaches at Washington's National Cathedral
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
The Reverend Dr. Cameron Partridge, one of seven openly transgender clergy in the Episcopal Church, spoke from the Canterbury Pulpit in honor of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community's Pride Month, the Cathedral said.
Partridge told congregants in his guest appearance he was proud to be a part of a church that was pushing for acceptance of all people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity.
"As we behold one another in these days of celebration may we honor the way we sustain each other," he said.
Partridge, who began transitioning to male from female over a decade ago, is the Episcopal Chaplain at Boston University and a lecturer and counselor at Harvard Divinity School.
Reverend Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, presided over the service on Sunday, which included readings and prayers by gay, lesbian and transgender church members.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Peace Hymn Of The Republic

I'm fourth of Julying it early this year, and in the spirit of the day while everybody else is singing the first verse of our National anthem and neglecting any embarrassing reference to "In God is our trust" as might be found in the second verse, I would like to present a hymn which makes no bones about who is behind our freedom.

This hymn might have been a bit too avant-garde for its time with its "The virtues of her mingled blood
In one new people blend;" in verse two, but today that would be acceptable while the references to God would be considered by many to be unacceptable in a hymn for our Republic.

Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933)
O Lord, our God, Thy mighty hand
Hath made our country free;
From all her broad and happy land
May praise arise to Thee.
Fulfill the promise of her youth,
Her liberty defend;
By law and order, love and truth,
America befriend! 
The strength of every state increase
In Union’s golden chain;
Her thousand cities fill with peace,
Her million fields with grain.
The virtues of her mingled blood
In one new people blend;
By unity and brotherhood
America befriend! 
O suffer not her feet to stray;
But guide her untaught might,
That she may walk in peaceful day,
And lead the world in light.
Bring down the proud, lift up the poor,
Unequal ways amend;
By justice, nation-wide and sure,
America befriend! 
Through all the waiting land proclaim
Thy gospel of good-will;
And may the music of Thy name
In every bosom thrill.
O’er hill and vale, from sea to sea,
Thy holy reign extend;
By faith and hope and charity,
America befriend!