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Mar 01, 2006


D. C.

Matt states “Either the bible is the norm, the supreme authority in all matters of doctrine and practice, or it is not. There is no middle ground. ...

Obviously a book-worshipper. (That sounds so much more forceful than "bibliolator.")

In the procession at the start of the services in our parish, the gospeler, marching down the aisle, holds the Bible up for all to see, encased in a brilliant gold-plated cover. It always reminds me of the golden calf.

Jared Cramer

Nicely put. Thanks.

Prior Aelred

A very fine post, Salt -- I especially like "I’m not sure if he has a sense of allegory, analogy, parable, and poetry." The "wisdom" tradition of reading sacred texts (which means that they may include far more than is obvious -- indeed, perhaps the opposite of what they seem) has been completely lost in the literalist-fundamentalist reading!

Like you, I also object when people complain about something being "political" or "just politics" -- politics is precisely how people orgainze when they want to accomplish goals. Accepting this characterization of one's own actions by those who disagree with you is to submit to unilateral disarmament.

Phil Snyder

If you want to be bothered by it, be bothered. If you want to fly to Nigeria after this potential consecration, fly to Nigeria. If you need to email furiously, then email furiously. If you decide its taking up too much energy, then great. If you want to talk about sex all the time, they’ll talk about it. If you need to have conferences, go ahead. But don’t blame us for the money that you’re spending. My preference, work on the issues before you, be it poverty, war, or despair.

At some point, the reasserters should take responsibility for their response to the crisis. For no one is asking reasserters to disengage from ministry; no one is asking them to start ordaining gay people or welcome them into their dioceses.

I, for one, would much rather not have the sexuality issue to deal with. But the reasserters did not originate it. The issue was discussed ad nauseum for years and the answer was always "no." Now that we have one or two (depending on how you count) "yes" answers, it is time to move on? Why did the reasserters continually raise this issue? If one vote is enough to move on, then we should have moved on in 79, and at the very least in '98 when the whole communion spoke in a very loud voice.

It is also very nice to lable those who hold that scripture should be interpreted more literally than yourself as "book worshippers" but that still does not solve the question of where the authority lie in the Church. If GC has the authority to change moral teaching, then it can change it to make homosexual activity punishable by excommunication. I, for one, do not want to put that authority in the hands of a bunch of people who like power.

Phil Snyder

John Wilkins

Asking where is authority located is important - but I think it is impossible to locate it in one place - which is why the trinity is the way we describe God. God is in relationship with himself. A bible needs are reader and needs a spirit. And a person needs other persons [a church].

The issue is do local congregations have the authority to decide on their leadership. What say you? It is a simple yes or no question. The leadership wasn't challenging questions that were actually a part of what the church holds in common - like the creed.

Who actually, brought the issue of sexuality up at Lambeth? Does it matter? what matters is that Christians brought the issue up - persons within the body. If it keeps coming up, it means that the entire body has to figure out a different way to settle the issue. It means something a lot more creative.

The fact is that we make choices - and they are OUR choices. Any attempt to say "god says" merely hides our own desires. If war happens, it's not God, but our own sinfulness, that is responsible.

Phil Snyder

Ultimate Authority lies with God and is mediated through the Body of Christ - the Church. As a guiding principle, the Church has the Word of God, Written - the Holy Scriptures.

Does a local congregation have the authority to elect its leader - within our polity and limits, yes. In Roman Catholic or Methodist polity and in some parts of Anglicanism, the Bishops have power of appointment, so it is not universal that a local congregation can select its leader. Even in the ECUSA, missions have their leaders appointed.

Does a local congregation have the authority to change doctrine? No! If you were to start preaching that the Trinity is Bunk and that God is exculsively located in the woods behind your house, then the Bishop has the authority to remove you and I hope (s)he would.

you said: "If it keeps coming up, it means that the entire body has to figure out a different way to settle the issue. It means something a lot more creative." I disagree. That would mean that no issue is ever settled. At times, those who feel so strongly that this issue should be revisited need to walk away. Arius walked away. Those who followed Nestorius walked away. The question becomes who is walking away and who is standing. I submit that those who want to change the teaching of the Church are the one walking away. I keep hearing that this is not that big an issue. That is male cow dung and you should agree with me on at least that. If this is not that big an issue, then it is not worth splitting the communion over and not worth all the anger and pain on both sides. The only reason to split the communion is over something that is foundational or essential to the Gospel. If this is foundational or essential to the Gospel, then be honest and say it is. If it is not, then don't split the communion over it.

Phil Snyder

Matt Kennedy+


Braveheart? I'm flattered. I will agree with you on one point. I'm certainly no Ephraim Radner.

To say the bible is the norm by which all other norms are normed, or the supreme authority, is not to say that I don't understand nuance, genre, much less "allegory, analogy, parable, and poetry".

It is to say that the truth the Author intends to convey through the same is absolute.

Matt Kennedy+

Also, I think you've misread me. I was not at all offended by Covenant or Bill Coats' article. I've heard much the same many times before. I was happy to have such a vivid example of the way Via Media et al employ "soft" rhetoric in public and ooze venom in private.

Impressed, but Not Convinced

"What if the conflict were not about committees to elect a bishop but actually arguments about the nature of God’s redemption. What if we were forced to justify the content of each of our theologies?"

I agree wholeheartedly. The problem is that many Church leaders have been soft peddling the theological division and debate in a misguided effort to keep parishioners in their pews. I also agree with your comment about negotiating the property issues. I wish others who are on your side of the theological debate were willing to negotiate for the division of property with parishes that wanted to leave.

I certain disagree with your view of how Scripture speaks to these issues. But at least you aren't denying that there is a huge theological divide in the church.

John Wilkins

Phil, I think it is a big issue if we make it a big issue. I don't think that homosexuality is a big issue for God. Compared to the Sabbath, to Justice and to the Great commandment, it seems inessential.

You mention Arius and Nestorius - but these were about the nature of God. Closer analogies, in my view, are usury and slavery, Phil.

as I've said, there is a change of teaching we are proposing. It is not a change in the teaching of the power of grace or redemption. NOr is it a change in the nature of sin. The change is in where homosexuality lies as a category of sin.

In our view, it is as eating profane foods. One reason this happened, is the way the consequences of sex have been divorced from property and death. Which is a new thing.

Phil Snyder

So, John. You are proposing it. That is good and necessary. Since the Communion has not yet changed its mind on the issue, then it is wrong to act on the issue. The Church already has a clear teaching on human sexuality. If you wish to change that teaching then, by all means, make your argument. But recognize that acting before consensus will cause schism.

If this issue is not essential to the Gospel (and you seem to indicate that it is not) then is it worth breaking the Church over? Is it worth losing all the congregations we've lost? Is it worth endangering the Anglican Communion? If it is not essential, then it is not worth breaking the communion.

This is similar to a couple who is discussing purchasing a car or a house. One day, the husband decides to just buy the car. The wife is very angry. Can you imagine her reaction if the husband says: "Well, let's decide if we should buy the car or not."

We've already bought the car and we weren't done discussing whether we should buy it or not. Shouldn't we have that discussion before we buy the car? Shouldn't we come to some consensus before we start ordaining people in active homosexual unions?

Phil Snyder

John Wilkins

Phil, the problem is that, in this case, the wife and husband has different checking accounts. The husband says, this is my car. She worries about what the neighbors will think.

I would add that there are counter examples to the idea that this is a communion breaking issues. The Anglican women are all meeting together. There are plenty of parishes who disagree but stay in ECUSA.

I admit I don't think we've "lost" congregations. They will worship God as they see fit. I'm sure they are Christian. They are the ones who've chosen to see ECUSA as apostate.

J. C. Fisher

I, for one, would much rather not have the sexuality issue to deal with. But the reasserters did not originate it. The issue was discussed ad nauseum for years and the answer was always "no."

This is so simplistic as to be false, Phil.

The issue hasn't been discussed for "years and years"---less than 50 (how could it be? The concept of "homosexuality" simply isn't much more than 100 years old!)

The truth of the matter, is that there is a very murky history, early/mid-20th century, of those

1.(newly) self-identified "homosexuals" who were looking for some affirmation qua "homosexual", and

2. those who (falsely) equated "homosexual" w/ "Sodomites!": who brought the issue up, only to condemn it (homosexuals).

It's not one or the other ("reappraiser" or "reasserter": for what good those labels are). It's both.

The point is, as comparatively recent as this conversation is, it's been going on the longest (in the AC) in TEC---and always out in the open (though obviously, not as open in the days, pre-internet, as it is NOW).

The history of this "issue", therefore, begins with TEC . . . and always, the longer it has been discussed, the more Episcopalians have seen the possibility of God's grace working in homosexuals, and in same-sex relationships.

In contrast, the negative voices begin in reaction to progress (or even just perceived progress) for homosexuals in TEC. There's simply no prior history of condemnation of homosexuals, APART from this reaction. (But in many if not most cases, this reaction is, locally, an initiation of discussing the subject. That is, there were no local homosexuals "clamoring" for rights---but rather, reasserters looking to clamp them down, BEFORE they raised their degenerate heads).

Since this reaction isn't based upon a prior tradition (much less Scripture), where does it come from? I would argue, that simply the best answer to this question, is prejudice: sad fact.

Phil, I simply have to call you on the faulty (simplistic) history you presented above. We need to try to get a common history, so we can agree on the story we want to write together, for the future.


I admit, whenever I hear someone say “the bible is” I hear “I am.” “The Bible is the supreme authority over all matters of doctrine” thus becomes “I am the supreme authority over all matters of doctrine.” That’s the echo. “The bible says this” really means “I say this.” And “I say” has priority over “the bible says” experientially. Matt cannot say “the bible says” without him implicitly saying “I say this."

Read it and weep, Matt: Salty has got your number.

[Not that we don't ALL do this, mind you. Lord have mercy!]


The relationship between behavior, property, theology and scripture is very much more complex than folks have generally treated (including here), but folks also refuse to address those relationships. For example at I posed the follwing question, and it is germane to those relationships: "Well OK let’s not talk about those big issues. How about this one? “Matt and the rest of us are talking about taking the wheel from the people doing all this damage.” The day after you take the wheel, just how will you handle the church? I don’t have a count, but there must be thousands of funerals, weddings, baptisms, etc every week. Not to mention Sundays and Wednesdays. You will have purged a lot of priests because they won’t meet your demands, and the seminaries only have so many coming out, so what will all those widows, orphans and frustrated bridegrooms do? Then there will be the issue of the substantial assets you will put in limbo..." Matt and his friends have not deigned to respond in 3 days. On the surface it is a practical question. Underneath it addresses the heart of this conflict--a heart the "orthodox" simply do not have.


Its Sat morning in Soccerworld and I had to rush on the above, so here's a little fleshing out. BTW, it's the relationship among not between those factors, not just grammar: they all interact.

The "Asserters" ( no Re to it, it's as old as Eden) are working from a theology of scarcity:

Jesus has abandoned ECUSA (despite his many promises) and so we are without a Head and we need to take the wheel.

Scarcity of knowledge--people are not smart or not dedicated enough to learn scripture, so they must have it shoved down their throats at ever opportunity.

Scarcity of truth--truth is an inorganic, artificial thing which humans are not able to adopt except through extraordinary, and hard (virtually inhuman) conversion of their nature. A corallary to this is truth is a zero sum--if I decide you are wrong then by definition I have more of Truth because I have eliminated the legitimacy of yours.

Scarcity of resources--there is simply not enough to go around, never has been and never will be. Ergo, we must hurry up and get security before it's too late.

There are others but those are the big ones.

Appraisers (again no Re) sometimes suffer from opposite delusions. For example on Truth, you can easily find an attitude of "anything goes," or on resources "We can do whatever we like, wars w/o taxes, consumption w/o end, etc."

The church is about love, stewardship, and cooperation. All of those require suffering, none of them will yield a winner.

Matt Kennedy+


No one answered your question because it was hypothetical and absurd. No one expects to "take over" reappraising parishes/diocese. It simply won't happen, so why bother to think about it?


Matt I'm blown over by the sudden pragmatism, but then what do you mean to "take the wheel from those doing all this damage?" You clearly state that all those who disagree with your theology should resign their places, or be replaced. No hypotheticals or hesitations, and your distaste for "fudge" factors is well known. Have you lost your nerve? Or lost something else?

Matt Kennedy+

I mean that we would simply be ECUSA, the legitimate anglican presence in NA, and the current organization that claims that name and will, no doubt, continue to claim it, will not be recognized as such. No exchange of property or defrockings necessary. 815 and those connected to her become a sect. We retain the name.

J. C. Fisher

the current organization that claims that name and will, no doubt, continue to claim it, will not be recognized as such

Not recognized by who?? Akinolists, and those who discredit themselves, by kow-towing to him? (Excommunication by Akinola is a badge of honor!)

Episcopalians will continue to recognize the authority of General Convention (House of Bishops, and House of Deputies), and such instruments as GC authorizes for continuing administration (presumably including "815").

Wake up and smell the Love of Christ, Matt+: the Akinolist "Communion" ain't it (the Body of Christ, that is)

Phil Snyder

J.C. If the ECUSA isn't recognized by Cantebury, then it is no longer the expression of Anglicanism in the USA. It is also in violation of its own constitution. The preamble gives the reasons for the constitution. If the actions of the body violate the body's organizing principles, then those actions are without merit and illegal.

You ask us to smell the love of Christ. I ask you to wake up and submit to His lordship. Remember, if you love me you will keep my commandments. Jesus cannot not just be "Savior." He must be "Savior" and "Lord." Are you willing to give your whole life over to him? Are you willing to die for him? We are called to do so. While we may not be martyrs in the traditional sense, we must become martyrs in that we give up our lives for Jesus Christ.

Phil Snyder

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