Anglicans Can Find Common Ground at the Cross

The boycotting of the Lambeth Conference in July by more than 200 Anglican Bishops worldwide has once again drawn attention … Continued

The boycotting of the Lambeth Conference in July by more than 200 Anglican Bishops worldwide has once again drawn attention to the divisions within the Anglican Communion. As mainstream Episcopalians, we are saddened by the rifts in the Church, especially because we believe them to be rooted, to a large extent, in misperceptions and misrepresentations. In addition, we lament the lack of civil dialogue around the divisions in the Church. We seek to remedy some of those misperceptions and advance a civil public discourse on these issues.

In May, Os Guinness posted a column to “On Faith” entitled “Evangelicals Reach Out.” The piece referenced his Evangelical Manifesto and the prominent Americans that had supported it. It was superbly written, and subsequently Newsweek carried it in print. It was an affirmative statement of belief, which we endorse. But it stands in stark contrast to others of Guinness’ public comments and the positions of some of the congregations and clergy with whom he has aligned himself. A year ago, Guinness and the Reverend John Yates wrote a piece carried in the Washington Post entitled “Why We Left the Episcopal Church.” We respectfully but strongly disagree with its depiction of the American Episcopal Church, as strongly as we endorse the message of the Manifesto.

As to our backgrounds: One author of this post, David Abshire, is an Episcopal layman who for over two decades has co-convened the Trinity National Leadership Roundtable with the rector of Trinity Wall Street. He also has participated in Guinness’ Trinity Forum, as Guinness has participated in the Roundtable. Both Abshire and Guinness have written on the importance of civility in American life (Guinness in his book Civility and Abshire with his essay The Grace and Power of Civility). With Ambassador Max Kampelman, Abshire chairs the National Committee to Unite a Divided America, a group of about 200 distinguished Americans, all signatories to a declaration calling for increased civility and inclusive leadership in government.

Abshire’s co-author of this post is The Very Reverend Ian Markham, whose most recent of several books is Do Morals Matter? He writes in the conclusion, “Talk in schools of a ‘moral-free zone’ is a manifest and dangerous nonsense.” Thus, he is not a moral relativist. As the recent inaugurated Dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary, he has sought to reinforce this message in a vital center not only of the Episcopal Church in America, but the entire Anglican Communion. He is grounded in the good news of the Resurrection of Christ and his Gospel. We mention this point because Yates and Guinness argue that our Episcopal Church has abandoned the Scriptures. Furthermore, he leads the strongest seminary in the Anglican Communion, which draws students from all over the world.

Abshire, Markham and Guinness share a common understanding of civility: respect, listening, dialogue and the possibility of higher ground. This is exactly what happened at what is now called the “miracle” of the Constitutional Convention. Civility does not mean giving up what are considered sacred values. They didn’t do so in 1787. It does mean searching for transcendent values with which to advance the common good. So must the dialogue within our Anglican Church proceed, or we risk losing more breakaway congregants and clergy, some of whom are the finest of preachers and Church leaders.

The uniqueness of the Anglican tradition is that it overarches in an inclusive way while recognizing difference. In the very beginning it retained the Apostolic tradition of the Catholic Church, while reaching out to the Protestantism of Luther. As for the American Church it is highly significant that despite the enormous differences between Americans during the Civil War, the American Episcopal Church did not break apart North and South as did other Protestant Churches. Indeed our National Cathedral in architecture symbolizes the overall commonality of the children of Abraham: Christians, Jews and Muslims; with all their differences.

Yet, in spite of this heritage, the Episcopal Church, the breakaway churches and many African Bishops have all failed the civility test at one time or another. We fully agree with the Winsor Report released by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2004. That report chastised the American Church for not heeding the Anglican Consultative Council before advancing a gay bishop–something for which the American Presiding Bishop publicly expressed regret. But the report also chastised the breakaway churches for breaching established procedures and authorities. Now many churches in Africa have joined with the American breakaway churches in their defiance. Ironically, the Anglican Consultative Council was originally set up to deal decades earlier with the issue of polygamy in the African church. It was intended to create a civil and consultative way to deal with differences within the worldwide Communion.

In their op-ed, Yates and Guinness assert that the complaint of the breakaway churches is not the issue of female or gay clergy or Bishops, but rather the abandonment of the doctrine of “Sola Scripta,” the scriptures alone. They argue that “current Episcopal Revisionism” severs the continuity of centuries of faith.

However, even “Sola Scripta” in the Anglican Church, as in the historic Roman Catholic Church, does not mean literalism. Long ago, such an approach was most dramatically delegitimized as in 1543 when Nicholas Copernicus upset Church doctrine by asserting that the sun was the center of the solar system, and later when Galileo challenged the Biblical passage of Joshua stopping the sun in the sky. Furthermore, much of what Martin Luther meant by “Sola Scripta” was that Christians were redeemed by their observance of the scriptures alone, as opposed to paying monetary tribute to the corrupt 16th century church hierarchy, who promised favor with God in return. Luther was standing against corruption, not non-literal translations of the Scriptures.

The literal, rather than spiritual, content of the scriptures is stressed by “fundamentalists.” Such a focus emerged, when the word “fundamentalism” was coined by a Baptist minister in the early 20th century in the Twelve Tracts, published from 1910 to 1915 in response to the teaching of Darwin’s natural selection in schools. Later, this conflict was dramatized during the 1925 Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tennessee. There occurred the famous vicious dialogue between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, who defended every word of the Bible literally.

It is true that the Third World religious revival has tended toward not only commendable Evangelism, but also worrisome Fundamentalism. There is a slight hint in this direction in the Yates-Guinness piece, hopefully unintended. Such indeed would not be based in Anglicanism, which embraces both faith and reason and a sense of proportion. In contrast, the Manifesto does largely contain this proportionality. Anglicanism favors the same kind of civility in dealing with differences as did the Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention.

Yates and Guinness used President Gerald Ford’s funeral as the peg for their op-ed. The eulogizing Bishop recalled a plea from the aging President to hold the Church together, and Yates and Guinness cited its mention at Ford’s funeral as an example of the pervasiveness of the rift in Anglicanism. We thought Ford’s plea was quite moving as he clearly hoped the Episcopal breach could be healed as he had sought to heal the nation after Watergate. We think the Episcopal Church is well positioned to be a healer in national life, especially given the role of the National Cathedral.

Today, we feel that the Episcopal Church is viewed by the public through a blurry lens. Their view is distorted by the prominence given in the media to the dispute over wedge issues like gay bishops and female clergy. Press reports of the Lambeth conference or the General Convention inevitably play up these rifts. One might think that all mainstream Episcopal congregations spend most of their time in church discussing how to advance gay and female clergy. For the mainstream congregations that we are familiar with the reality is completely different. Our services focus on the Gospel and the life and teachings of Jesus. We feel that many breakaway parishes don’t believe this reality, which is an example of the sort of accusation of false motives and hidden agendas that Guinness decries in his Manifesto.

The rift in the global Anglican Communion can and must be repaired through civil dialogue. This dialogue is impossible when parties refuse to show up at the table as happened at Lambeth. The differences among the vast majority are not as great as portrayed. We and other prominent Episcopalians will release a “Statement of Beliefs” that explains exactly what the beliefs of mainstream Episcopalians are. Among these beliefs are, not only that the risen Christ is “the way and the truth and the life,” but also those values that Jesus lived out. He embraced the outcast and downtrodden, believed in inclusion far more than exclusion. He despised most hypocrisy and sanctimony. He believed in equity and justice and Christians making the most of their gifts in service to God. Surely, that represents a common basis for belief far greater than the sum of those points on which we differ.

David Abshire was U.S. Ambassador to NATO from 1983 to 1987. The Very Reverend Ian Markham is Dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary.

  • Arminius

    JJ has now spammed almost every blog on On Faith. What a pity the moderators don’t give a damn.

  • John Perkins

    I think one of several significant inhibiting factors in what is supposed to be a civil dialogue is that discussions of a theological nature need to be conducted employing a vocabulary of theological terms that are recognizable historically from the early classic or “patristic” Church Fathers through the middle ages and the European Reformation. At least from all media reports, the American and Canadian Episcopal Churches seem to navigate the whole theological landscape of today’s dilemma using just three basic terms: Equal Rights, Inclusivity and Diversity. These are repeated to the point of redundancy, as if their mere use entails or provides the authority to interpret and revise the entire tradition of Biblical exegesis and theological and philosophical reflection about the Faith. Present day understanding of the import of these non-technical and non-traditional terms is apparently dependent upon the views and preferences of each individual who uses them. May these terms be used legitimately to trump all tradition without the need for an intelligent exchange that means something in historical perspective. I don’t think so! John Perkins, Princeton New Jersey

  • Dave

    Tap-dancing around the real issue. And ignoring what the scriptures say.

  • Colston Newton

    I am a cradle Episcopalian with several bishops and a number of priests in my family. I now attend one of the breakaway Anglican Churches because neither my Bishop, nor any other person with scriptural knowledge has explained to me how Gene Robinson’s lifestyle is not contrary to Biblical injunctions. I am willing to listen, but no explanation has been offered. I do not think my spiritual welfare is served by supporting such clergy, so I changed churches.As to resolving things by “civil discourse”, it has been my experience that when liberals call for that, what they mean is for those who disagree with them to politely give up their positions. I have observed this as a lawyer, government employee and journalists.

  • Arthur Pedersen

    The only possible step to restore any dialogue between Biblical Anglicanism and the Episcopal Church is for Katharine Jefferts-Schori to call off the legal suits the Church is waging on parishes like Truro and Falls Church.Reverend John Yates layed in all out in perfectly clear terms in his letter.

  • Still an Episcopalian

    This article has many holes.

  • Baptist

    These two men are delusional. To pretend that the rifts in the Anglican Communion have been “played up” by media reports is naive AT BEST. To posit that fundamentalism is the source of discord in the Anglican Communion is absurd! There would be no “rift” or “schism” if the leadership of The Episcopal Church had not departed from 2000 years of BIBLICALLY BASED teaching.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    With Henry VIII as the founder of said religion, the slow demise of the Anglican Church is not shocking. It is lucky to have lasted this long.

  • Liberal Cradle

    I’m a cradle Episcopelian as well (translation: baptized as an infant in the Episcopal church), but unlike the others who posted here, I am delighted that the US Episcopal church has reached out to those society shuns–just as Jesus did in his day.While I can understand how abortion causes deep theological rifts, I really don’t understand why the issue of gay clergy does. You may not like gays, but the existence of gay people does not force any action on your part. Certainly, of the 600+ abominations listed in the Old Testament, homosexuality is there–as is eating pork and shellfish, not having sex with menstruating women, etc. STrangely, the church isn’t falling apart over those particular abominations. What the Bible does emphasize at almost every turn, especially the New Testament, is how it is God’s will that we treat all of those around us with love, even–especially–those we disagree with. If we all spent as much time worrying about how to live our lives according to Jesus’ command of “Love your neighbor as yourself” as so many folks seem to be worrying about gay clergy, I imagine the world would be a significantly better place.Don’t we have more important things to do in this world than bicker over what people do in their bedrooms? Like feed the hungry, end war, ensure education for all? I’m just sayin’.

  • Arminius

    Liberal Cradle:Well said! I am also a cradle Episcopalian, although I had a sad hiatus from the faith for three decades. I am back.Anyone who cannot grasp that our Lord taught Love has not read the Gospels.We are ALL God’s children, and must love one another.

  • purplemartin

    This expected (indeed completely predictable) issue is common to every religion—I’m not certain why the Angelicans/Episcopalians think they should be different.Every religion decides what its followers believe, usually documenting the tenets of that belief as doctrine. Doctrine is typically based on the religion’s leaders’ interpretation of ancient, inherited sacred texts (or sometimes, as in the case of LDS/FLDS, not so ancient). The interpretation may be loose, literal, or (most often) somewhere in between. When leaders begin to differ on this judgment (either of the texts themselves, of the appropriate rigidity of interpretation), the usual result is schism, and a resulting new religion—as worldwide Episcopalians/Angelicans are currently demonstrating. Even limiting ourselves to the Christian Bible, there are thousands of different religions, sub-religions, branches of religions, splinter sects, etc., each of whom have a different interpretation for the ‘Truth.’ I can’t think of any logical reason one would expect me to believe them, and not all of the others. So what’s the issue?The current issue seems to be based on views of whether or not a religion should adapt to society’s evolution on how it views homosexuality (just as it adapted to a changing view of slavery). Those of you who condemn homosexuality based on the stand of your preferred church leaders, please don’t pretend the decision is based on other than your on preference of the religion’s social views, the degree of rigidity its leaders decided to be most appropriate for interpretation of is sacred texts, and your judgment of the credibility of those leaders.In the broader scheme of things, it’s pretty meaningless whether or not there’s one more Christian sect out there.

  • MarkF

    I very nice, but bland piece.The real issue that’s driving the Episcopals apart is whether homosexuality is wrong or not. It is wrong. The Bible in both Old and New Testaments states this clearly. The modern world view, the same world view that produced abortion, accepts homosexuality. The contrast couldn’t be starker. The contrast is between life in the flesh and life of the spirit. As St. Paul proves in Romans 1, homosexuality is the apex of life in the flesh. It produces no life, it requires no sacrifice and it glorifies what’s passing and transitory. As Christians we cannot allow such sin to become part of the Christian teaching. And it will not become a part of the teaching of the Catholic Church, though other groups of Christians may allow this, to their inevitable loss.Dialog is great on the human level. But we don’t dialog with evil and with Satan. And homosexuality is satanic, though the people who are under it’s control are to be treated with all the love and respect that all sinners deserve. Though part of that love is to teach the truth, to require repentance and conversion of heart, just as the Church does for all sinners.

  • Anonymous

    Help.

  • Mary Miserable

    I thank the authors for their efforts for the Episcopal Church, but I don’t believe dialogue and civility can help until all information is brought forth, especially the two events of April 29, 1996 about which I wrote earlier: namely, the Interfaith Letter to retain the partial-birth abortion procedure and the testimony for legalizing “assisted suicide.” As far as I know, these remain the most recent public statements on the part of the Epsicopal Church and must be considered to have authority.Although I have not been active in the Church for many years, I have made a considerable effort to bring these matters to attention but without success. Still, they remain hard copy and may surface to public attention at some time. I hope the authors will do what they can to explore them and their implication for the Church’s witness, both at home and abroad.

  • David Lumsdaine

    The Christian affirmation is that Jesus indeed is the “way, the truth, and the life,” and that, as he said “no one comes to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6). LIkewise, Christians affirm as of the first importance — what we teach and what we received — “that Christ died for our sins, as the scriptures had foretold, was buried, and rose on the third day” (I Cor. 15:3-4). It central to the message that Jesus instructed the Apostles to teach and train people in in its entirely (Matt 28:19-20).However, leaders of the US Episcopal church (TEC) consistently deny or question these foundational beliefs. Jefferts-Schori, the Presiding Bishop in a well-known interview denied the first, except in the sense that we are all on a journey, and help each other, so in that sense Jesus is the way. John Chane, Bishop of Washington DC, and other Bishops, have publicly called into question the belief in the resurrection. The House of Bishops has refused, in General Convention, to reaffirm that Scripture contains all truths necessary for salvation. In her Easter message this year, Jefferts-Schori said nothing about what Christ has done, but instead gave a tendentious account — remarkably odd to those many Christians who have studied long on the involved issues of how to tackle problems of poverty worldwide — of how eating burgers, in her view, harmed the poor and contributed to global warming. More radically, leaders of the revisionist wing of the Anglican Communion — including Jefferts-Schori, Philip Aspinal (primate of Australia) and highly placed leaders, and various Episcopal seminaries — have repeatedly welcomed John Spong to teach: Spong, who, as Bishop, denies not only Christ’s divinity and incarnation, resurrection and ascension, but even the existence of God “in a theistic sense”. (Incidently, he does this in the most incivil, dishonest manner possible, implying that those who disagree with him are pre-scientific idiots, and at times coupling this with racist rhetoric about Africans.) Spong has been on record in these views, indeed has trumpeted them, for well over a decade. Yet Jefferts-Schori had him lead some retreat she organized; seminaries have him teach courses; Aspinal says we need to listen to him. Those who believe in God, and Christ Jesus, and the importance in this world as well as hereafter of Jesus and of his life and teaching, are appalled that there is no condemnation of Spong’s views, but rather a repeated welcoming of him to teach. Thus, there is no question that the core leadership of TEC, and its overseas allies, repeatedly are willing to attack, rather than support, the core beliefs of the Christian faith. They do so repeatedly, and refuse to set any boundaries to the ways in which Bishops, speaking publicly and purporting to represent the Christian faith, can malign historic Christianity and Biblical truth. It’s a matter of public record. I am sorry to have to dissent vigorously from some things Abshire and Markham have said, and hope they do not find my remarks too unpalatable; but there are important matters in what they have written which do need to be firmly addressed. I wish them well. While I appreciate the restrained and nuanced language that Abshire and Markham generally employ, their article replicates, in low-key and relatively civil form, absurd canards and slanders that are leveled against those who dissent from TECs abrogation of Christian faith in its teaching. Terms such as “fundamentalist” and “biblical literalist” are introduced. No doubt there must be “fundamentalists” — in the sense they employ the term — and “liberalists” somewhere among conservative Anglicans and Episcopalians. But in 44 years in the Anglican communion, living both in the US and abroad, I’ve never encountered one. Rather, these terms are used, usually, to suggest that those who hold to historic Christian teaching are ignorant, and perhaps violent. While Abshire and Markham do not actually state this, the use of such terms in dissenting from Os Guiness is, in my view, an inappropriate usage, which risks being seen, understandably, as misrepresentation of Guiness and also of the African churches that did not attend Lambeth.Abshire and Markham state that “The differences among the vast majority are not as great as portrayed.” This is true indeed! The vast majority of the communion hold to the historic Christian faith, and its teaching — the Biblical teaching, Jesus’s teaching — on faith and on moral matters. The vast majority of those who dissent from the heretical teaching and abusive behavior of the leadership of TEC also have stood, and now stand, for “the values that Jesus lived out.” These include embrace of the outcast and downtrodden, equity, justice, and Christians making the most of their gifts in service to God. Most of those I know who dissent from, and refuse to associate themselves with, TEC — both in this country and abroad — have spent most of their lives working to eradicate poverty and racism, help those in trouble, reach out to the excluded, and so on in their ministries.Unfortunately, Abshire and Markham phrase their discussion of “the values Jesus lived out” misleadingly in two ways. First, there seems to be a subtle implication, unintentional one hopes, that those who have held to the historic Christian faith with which TEC has broken — including what the authors call “breakaway” churches — do not live the gospel out in caring for the poor, and welcoming the outcast. Any such implication would be simply false, and naturally I expect Abshire and Markham, seeking to promote civil dialogue, will wish to state plainly that that is not what they think. Second, the set of values Jesus lived out is one-sidedly and ambiguously phrased in their article. Jesus also, as the church has always taught, lived out and modelled chaste living, celebacy for those not called to marriage, and marriage as lifelong union of a man and woman (Mark 10:1-12, and parallels, etc.). These values are set forth also in the Epistles which — as Abshire and Markham will doubtless wish to state that they also adhere to, since Jesus commissioned the Apostles to pass on His message, and they did so in passing on the entire Bible, not Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John only. This vast majority who believe in helping the poor, and in the forgiveness of sins through Christ’s sacrifice also hold to Jesus’ teaching, the historic Christian teaching, on family, marriage, sex, and the need to “deny oneself, and take up the cross” if one is to follow Jesus. (Mark 8:34 ff., etc.) The very problem is that a minority of declining churches wish to publicly and actively deny, contravene, and undermine the majority view. The introduction of the terms “hypocrisy” and “sanctimony”, again, is an odd one. It seems to contain a suggestion, one might hope an inadvertent one, that those with whom the authors disagree, or perhaps those who hold to historic Christian teaching on marriage, family, and sex, are guilty of these things. Fair-minded readers will eagerly await their clarification that they did not intend to slip in any such notion. The repeated refrain in the article about “inclusion” as a value Jesus taught seems to me misleading and tendentious. Jesus taught, as Paul did, that we should separate from those who claim to be Christians but refuse to teach what Jesus taught, or live by it. (Matt. 18:17, etc.) The kind and loving embrace — the inclusion — of those who seek to walk in God’s ways, no matter what their sins and problems, is (as Jesus’ parable of workers in the vineyard, and his welcome of the dying thief encapsulate) central to the message of salvation for sinners — for we are all sinners wholly in need of God’s grace and mercy. But this does not mean — could not possibly mean — that those engaged in grave wrong-doing (whether embezzlement, abuse, oppression of workers, or adultery, for instance) can be fully “included” while they refuse to give up, or renounce, their evil, or that those who refuse to condemn such wrongful practices can hold a place as teachers in the church. The language Abshire and Markham choose to employ creates ambiguity on these points, which are in fact, as they must know, central to what is in dispute among Anglicans.And this very point is at issue in their allegation that the leaders of those African churches representing the majority of church attenders in the communion “refused to show up at the table” at Lambeth, and their assertion that “the rift in the global Anglican Communion can and must be repaired through civil dialogue.” Those who did not go to Lambeth did not simply “fail to show up at the table.” At Dar Es Salaam the Primates clearly stated that TEC needed to comply with certain measures. TEC did not, and has asserted its unwillingness to do so. Rowan Williams, convener, who sits in the chair of Anselm and Augustine of Canterbury, stated that he would reconvene the Primates to judge this matter and consult with them about Lambeth invitations. The African churches committed themselves in public, promised, not to go to Lambeth if the consecrators of Robinson were there. That pledge was consistent with the whole process of discipline which had been undertaken. Rowan then — knowing all this, and in contravention of his own pledges — refused to re-summon the Primates, and unilaterally invited the consecrators of Robinson. This made it a matter of promise-keeping for them not to go. Further, he refused to invite Bishops those churches had consecrated properly to do work in North America. Rowan, not the Africans, made it impossible for the Africans to go to Lambeth.The issue, however, involved more than simply the commitment of the African leaders not to go if the consecrators of Robinson, unrepentant of their violation of Communion order as well as of Biblical principle, were there. At issue was the repeated postponement of any discipline for those who violate the communion’s, the Bible’s, and Jesus’s moral teaching — the teaching Jesus lived out — while purporting to remain leaders in Christ’s church. Rowan made it clear that Lambeth would be structured so that the problems could not be resolved by any kind of majority vote or decisive action. This repeated postponement — in the name of “listening” and “dialogue” continues, even as TEC moves more and more out of line with historic Christian teaching, and the whole of the Communion, by advocating gay marriage, and in many other ways — makes a mockery of dialogue. That’s not dialogue, but inaction while one side creates facts on the ground, and refuses to listen to the vast majority of the communion. Some readers, no doubt, will, with customary incivility, express fury that there are those who, in an age of sexual permissiveness and family breakdown, continue to hold to the teachings of Jesus and the Bible, and historic Jewish and Christian morals, on the ethics of family, marriage, and sex — as well as on care for the poor, defense of the oppressed, forgiveness, welcome to the outcast, generosity, honesty, and so on. Jesus’ gospel is the message of reconciliation with God, who loves us all so tenderly in this broken world, and of pardon for lost sinners such as myself. But repentance and obedience to Judeo-Christian moral teaching, in its entirety, is integral to that message. It is a message which has, historically, brought help to people in their daily lives, and liberation of those in bondage, loving assistance with troubles in this world, and which is the road — unless Jesus was deluded — to eternal life.

  • Mary Miserable

    The immediate problem for the Episcopal Church is National Cathedral and its symbolic role as the church for the nation. In this regard, the Church’s history of advocating publicly for abortion rights, most significantly revealed in the Interfaith Letter to retain the partial-birth abortion procedure and its subsequent affiliation with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice cannot be overlooked.It is late in the day to raise abortion within the Episcopal Church, but it is certainly late in the day for the nation’s church to ignore its role in American society. During this critical election season, will it be forthright in disclosing its participation in the abortion wars which have caused so much grief and division? My fear is that the Church will be tempted to await a more congenial administration and Congress.

  • Dr.D J Malone

    First I am Episcopalian who hates what is happening in the church. I agree with your article that “civility” is needed. However this works both ways. The Presiding Bishop seems not to have this word in her vocabulary….as she continues to depose any Bishop who does not agree with her, as well as suing any congregation who cannot stay in this environment. She has done more to damage the church than those who are attempting to follow Christ! If she were a little Civil, perhaps others might be also!

  • Black Queen Bee

    Brilliant essay – third world fundamentalism is really not christ-like and it is indeed a problem.

  • Scott

    There have been a number of references to programs based at the National Cathedral in this thread. As much as I love the Cathedral (I sang in one of the choirs for a while), I must point out that if you are a non-Anglican and you live more than about 20 miles from the District, in all likelihood you have never heard of the place, and you are unlikely to be interested in spiritual programs coming from outside whatever your own denomination is, especially if you’re aware of all the turmoil in the Episcopal Church today.The leadership of the Church has been well to the left of the membership, dating back as far as the 1973 General Convention in Louisville, when steps were taken to rewrite the beloved 1928 Book of Common Prayer and to admit women to the priesthood. I know “cradle Episcopalians” who went to their graves carrying their bitterness over those decisions.

  • patrick

    dialogue. you must be kidding. fundamentalists do no dialogue. so let the episcopalians live with their acceptance of women clergy and homosexual bishops, or step back to embrace women clergy but not homosexual bishops. get real folks. take a stand. dialogue is for the chattering classes.

  • THhanasy Bailey

    When one reads, “The uniqueness of the Anglican tradition . . . retained the Apostolic tradition of the Catholic Church, while reaching out to the Protestantism of Luther,” I am puzzled.

  • Tony Seel

    David Lumsdaine, thank you for your thoughts. The disconnect between talking about civility and the labeling from the authors does make their plea less engaging. To speak of civility and then label those with whom you disagree as fundamentalist, biblical literalists, and to introduce the terms hypocrisy and sanctimony certainly isn’t the way to start any conversation. Yet, these are the terms that the authors use to describe those on the other side of the Anglican divide. How’s that for civility?

  • Roy

    Infighting among the Catholic Lites – almost as entertaining as the Classic version.

  • Wayne

    Where to begin?First, a “literal” interpretation of the scripture does not place the earth at the center of the solar system. Not unless you are so extraordinarily “literal” that you couldn’t function in a normal, day-to-day existence where we talk about “sunrise” and “the four corners of the earth” and the “bathroom” and other everyday conversational devices.Second, you paint over the actual, practiced beliefs of Episcopalians. You say that the American presiding bishop “expressed regret” regarding the Winsor report. The “regret” expressed was not over the action taken, but over the fact that some in the communion might be upset by the action. Nor has that “regret” extended to the attitude about the action’s correctness, nor future similar actions. (Once the “fundamentalists” get over it, as it were.)Third, you ignore the American presiding bishop’s other expressed views about scripture and Christ. She’s a fan of Christ in a sports-fan kind of way, but has expressed in multiple forums that Jesus is not THE answer and may or may not be right for others. This goes to the heart of the matter, as Rev. Yates has stated.Fourth, you equate all kinds of compromise and tolerance as being equal. But historically, there have always been matters of taste and matters of faith. The former are to be tolerated, but the later are not. Read what the Apostle Paul has to say on the matter, some time. Or Christ himself. He does not tell the woman caught in adultery, “Hey, it’s OK. Whatever. I love you, and we all have different views on sexuality. I’m celibate, you’re promiscuous, let’s celebrate!” He did forgive, but he also commanded “Go, and sin no more.” It was sin, and she was not to do it anymore.You talk in circles and end up in the same place: the rest of the Anglican Communion is intolerant if it does not allow you to insert and delete whatever you want from straightforward Biblical interpretation. If a large enough group wants XYZ, then XYZ they should get, and “tolerance” demands it. And that group is so Christ-like in its willingness to talk about its demands until the other side accepts them.In your view, the central belief of Anglicanism is evidently not scripture, but rather tolerance. Which I believe is exactly what Rev Yates might have said. At least we can all agree on that.

  • Anonymous

    “If a large enough group wants XYZ, then XYZ they should get, and “tolerance” demands it. And that group is so Christ-like in its willingness to talk about its demands until the other side accepts them.”your thinking on this aspect is wrong. many stand alone on issues and have prevailed in doing so. stay out, personal beliefs do not belong in a professional setting and should never be imposed upon on others, never. to do so is an act of being judemental and discrimination. no one bears the right to assume where and what another wants or is thinking. forcing the issue when someone say no, mean to back off from it. I don’t care what your “numbers” say, that doesn’t mean they are right.WIDE IS THE GATE TO HELL AND NARROW IS THE ROAD TO HEAVEN, WHY, BECAUSE NUMBERS DO NOT MEAN THAT THEY ARE RIGHT.

  • Anonymous

    “Since assumptions are not true or false but define true and false, how can the quoted statement avoid being the conundrum that it is.”assumptions by definition “the act of taking upon oneself, to take over without justificstion, take for granted, something taken for granted or accepted as true without proof, to adopt or use so to deceive; pretendwhere is the fact in assuming? there is none. educate yourself before assuming by third party information a wrong has occur. correction was in order.

  • Anonymous

    I was active with my diocesan churchwomen’s board during the fractious period leading to Prayer Book revision, the ordination of women and the commmtment to civil rights and remember well the turmoil they brought. But this was also the period of Roe vs. Wade, and although it was a struggle, I believe we women were secretly relieved that the Church recognized the need for legalized abortion.However, I feel quite certain that we assumed it would be a pastoral teaching and were not aware of the “government relations” office of the Church or other political involvement. For this reason I was shocked to read in The LIving Church magazine that Bishop Browning had signed an Interfaith Letter to Congress urging the members of support full reproductive rights – including abortion, sterilization and the like – in any national health care plan as was being designed by the Clinton administration. It was not long after that the Presiding Bishop signed the Letter to retain the partial-birth abortion procedure, the date of which coincided with Bishop Spong’s testimony for legalizing “assisted suicide.”REally, what does it take to shake the trees of a once respected church which has formed so many its history? But of course the Episcopal Church is essentially a poliltical organization and using deceptive tactics to conceal from the American public, much less its own flock, its new identity. It won’t sell.

  • Anonymous

    “If she were a little Civil, perhaps others might be also”Are your rightful actions dependent on the actions of someone/something else? Procation is different entirely, however because someone else is not civil does that meam it is the controlling factor for yours and others actions?Please, let us be real shall we, the hatred is deeply seeded, so much so that almost all is lost because of it. Civility, been there done that, the hatred spewed in return over and over again killed the desire. Don’t provoke someone that is reaching out to anger by spewing hatred, not a good way to build a foundation. It will breed avoidance as a matter of self preservation.

  • george lutz

    The current status of the Anglican communion has been in a tailspin for a number of years. Recently the feel good doctrine has been manifested with the presiding bishop. It is apparent that TEC has abandoned the bible in pursuit of a worldly agenda.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    The split in the American Episcopal Church is mirrored in the different drinking habits of its northern and southern members.Northerners favor the martini, an elegant and sophisticated libation giving rise to an inebriated state of elevated thoughts and benevolence.Southerners prefer straight bourbon, which is a rough, tough and gruff potable whose inebriated state brings forth uncivil language and a propensity for violent and impulsive behavior.

  • Arminius

    Norrie Hoyt:Er… let me correct a few misconceptions on your part, if you would bear with me.First, I am Episcopal, and from the South, still here. And liberal.Next, concerning whiskey. We Episcopalians, even among ourselves, are known as ‘Whiskeypalians’ here in the South. Because whenever you have four Episcopalians gathered together, you have a fifth….I don’t drink much whiskey now, but a really good bourbon is a thing of beauty, one of man’s better creations. (Try Jim Beam Black Label if you don’t believe me.) And sissy drinks like martinis can cause just as much damage as bourbon! (Actually, if memory serves me, a well-made martini ain’t so bad.)

  • william kraal

    MORE PROOF THAT RELIGION POISONS EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE IT TOUCHES!

  • Anonymous

    Amazing () No Grace!Note: Catholic Hitler Murdered my Fathers Family & Catholic Stalin my Mothers Fam.!A False & Deliberate , via Jealousy, Ant-Ec{lati-on(s)!Bad NEWS ‘NiCOLAiTANS’ [Enemys of the NEW-SONG]:Trans{Finity Realigion, aka TRANS{FiNiTE Religion, not “CONS”, was Founded in late 1980′s on “TRANS{FiNiTY MOUNTAIN” , New York, U.S.A. & not What ye Devilish article wrongly sais!And According to OUR Prophet’s Whereabouts, that Hir “Harry W. Theriault”[pbuh] That in 1994, He left Club Fed Prison, but went to the ‘Holy Cosmic NON-GRAViTY-PLACE” , aka 5th Dimention of 9 Dimentions, for another Eschatological DUE-TO-BE Moment!Important: your Prejudice/Bias of “CONS” as true or correct history (or Real Facts) is Not based on “O.U.R. TRANS{FiNiTY Philosophy. which Supeseded the ‘CONS’ “NEW-SONG”, as mentioned so, so many times exclusively on WAPO since Feb/March 2007! But mostly Jealously Deleted, for Plagiarizing Purposes.—

  • steve

    A commendable article. My own personal view is that Christianity, rationality, and the Episcopal / Anglican tradition are not compatible with excluding Christians from marriage or priesthood based on gender or sexual orientation. And despite the commonalities of goals and worship that (I hope) unite us and (again, I hope) we actually spend our time on, I don’t want these differences papered over. If the Anglican communion wishes to withdraw themselves from our tradition, well… I am a lifelong Episcopalian yet honestly was unaware that there even *was* an Anglican communion until about five years ago. I don’t imagine that what a bunch of British or African bishops think will make any difference in the life of my own parish.

  • dohfpj

    from the Hymnal 1982, tune AureliaThe Church’s one foundationThough with a scornful wonder

  • Left Seeking

    Tony Seel posts “…The disconnect between talking about civility and the labeling from the authors does make their plea less engaging. To speak of civility and then label those with whom you disagree as fundamentalist, biblical literalists, and to introduce the terms hypocrisy and sanctimony certainly isn’t the way to start any conversation…”And there you have the crux of why we left the American Episcopal Church. The tenor of conversations with those in power in the American Episcopal Church (I hesitate to use the word majority… that issue is in doubt) is that at best one is unenlightened if (s)he holds a contrary view, althought most likely one is bigoted, homophobic, fundamentalist, etc. All said with a smile. Civility and dialog indeed.

  • Todd Skiles

    The Anglican Schism is more complicated than just the role of women or homosexuals in the Church. It’s a debate over process. But process doesn’t make for neat headlines. Process ensures that we don’t make summary changes to Church Doctrine for the sake of justifying the “devices and desires of our own heart.” Process ensures that dissent is heard and the concerns, recommendations and prayers of all our Anglican brethren are heard and felt. Process is what failed in the Anglican Communion. When one Province can thumb their nose at the rest of the Communion and resort to name-calling and lawsuits to ensure they get their way – the process is broken. There are other symptoms of this broken process. There was the Green Mass at St. John’s the Divine where a bishop presided over prayers to Ra and Ausar. There was the publication of the Women’s Eucharist which embraced certain wiccan practices specifically prohibited in Scripture. There is the fact that the Presiding Bishop has short-circuited the established Deposition process for Bishop Duncan. The process for expressing dissent in the Diocese of Virginia was short-circuited by the national church who then in turn targeted specific people for litigation. The fear is that not only will Jefferts-Schori impose one approved way of thinking on the Episcopal Church, but she will extract every pound of flesh possible to get her way. When Jefferts-Schori states that she will force the property from the hands of dissenters and sell it to be turned into condos before she allows the dissenters to even consider purchasing the property – that is not a healthy leadership model.

  • R.S.Newark

    The sad fact is uncontestable. Many episcopals turned against and denied biblical and the church teaching of two thousand years. What’s to be said about it other than; Pride is the sin of the times…presumption if you prefer. Man/Woman can not replace the God head with his/her personal beliefs.

  • Mary Miserable

    Because we enter this forum with good faith, I still maintain that the critical issue facing the Episcopal Church is its history of lobbying publicly for abortion-on-demand. Whatever may be claimed by the Church today, too much time has passed and too little effort has been made for the Church to be assumed to speak for the unborn, at least ouside its walls. If the Church did accord moral status to the unborn – or “respect the dignity of all human beings,” it would have taken steps to call itself to account after the Interfaith Letter about which I’ve written and not subcontracted its abortion witness to an independent organization not necessarily beholden to the Episcopal Church.It was significant that in her acceptance speech at General Convention, Presiding Bishop -elect Schori said “…if we are going to become the blessed ones God called us to be while we were still in our mothers’ wombs…: , in view of the Interfaith Letter on the partial-birth abortion procedure, signed by one of her predecessors. If it’s true that the Presiding Bishop represents the Church to the outside world, these two images are in conflict and her words could be thought of as misleading. I write this and other posts as someone who has valued her life in the Church, but I don’t think it will fare well in either this country or internationally unless it can confront its abortion history, and by implication its silence on Bishop Spong’s testimony for legalizing “assisted suicide.” Certainly, it puts at risk its ability to raise the conscience of those of us at home, and especially so for those of us who are women, often the caregivers but always the mothers.

  • Roy

    Anglicans can meet at the cross (unless one is gay, of course – then they are to be excluded)

  • Anonymous

    The chronic spammer JJ has now rendered a number of the threads here unusable – with no oversight from the blog moderator whatsoever. You are losing viewers right and left by not being more diligent in controlling this blog pestilence.

  • Charlie King

    Dave and Ian,

  • harold

    Which said unto God, Depart from us: and what can the Almighty do for them?Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the Lord.But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.

  • harold

    A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life”The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.“The preparations of the heart in man”Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.“Death and life are in the power of the tongue”These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:“Death and life are in the power of the tongue”And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;“I appoint unto you a kingdom”“God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”“So God (I AM) created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him”“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.”Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.“but with the Spirit of the living God”And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.“ye are the temple of the living God”Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;“he came and dwelt in Capernaum”Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.“He that eateth my flesh”Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.“but with the Spirit of the living God”And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.“ye are the temple of the living God”Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.“Simon the Canaanite”And God said, Let the waters under the Heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.“and let the dry land appear: and it was so.”And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.“Lord spake unto the fish”And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” “SIMON THE SON OF JONA”Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.“These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.”But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.“according to the true proverb”But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:“a certain man, called Simon”But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:“But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side”

  • harold

    AN HYPOCRITE WITH HIS MOUTH DESTROYETH HIS NEIGHBOURTHE MOUTH OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN IS A WELL OF LIFE: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.There is nothing better for a man, than THAT HE SHOULD EAT AND DRINK, and that he should MAKE HIS SOUL ENJOY GOOD in his labour. THIS ALSO I SAW, THAT IT WAS FROM THE HAND OF GOD.The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but THE MOUTH OF THE WICKED POURETH OUT EVIL THINGS.My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.THE SACRIFICE OF THE WICKED IS AN ABOMINATION TO THE LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but THE MOUTH OF THE WICKED POURETH OUT EVIL THINGS.AN HYPOCRITE WITH HIS MOUTH DESTROYETH HIS NEIGHBOUR: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.HE THAT TURNETH AWAY HIS EAR FROM HEARING THE LAW, even HIS PRAYER SHALL BE ABOMINATION.IF SINNERS ENTICE THEE, CONSENT THOU NOTThe desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but IT IS ABOMINATION TO FOOLS TO DEPART FROM EVIL.And GOD CALLED THE DRY LAND EARTH; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and GOD SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD.“DRAGON WELL”And now art thou cursed from THE EARTH, which hath OPENED “HER MOUTH” TO RECEIVE THY BROTHER’S BLOOD FROM THY HAND;‘GO, AND DO THOU LIKEWISE.”And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed”When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.“it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.”

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