Some Unfinished Business in the Communion

March 1, 2015

From June to July, 2015, is the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

Running up to this convention, in which a new Presiding Bishop of TEC will be elected, it is important for Christians to consider the state of belief and teaching in the Anglican Communion.

The current TEC Presiding Bishop is seated in two of the four Instruments of Unity of the Anglican Communion.  As this letter from the head of the Anglican Church of Nigeria noted (in the report appended to the letter) – there are grave problems in the teaching of the Communion, through this church of the Communion – with the Presiding Bishop herself having taught things which seem to deny that Jesus is God, and that Jesus rose from the dead.  Or at the very least – that these things should be important to Christians.

The silence from world Christianity which followed this open, official letter was rather dumb-founding.  It is worth considering how the world’s largest Protestant body became so diffident in this manner regarding what its highest leaders teach about the Son of God, and how Christians worldwide have either: neglected to learn this, neglected to act upon it, or neglected to care about it – a combination of all three of these.

The open letter is no longer online in its original location, but can be seen in the internet archive: here.

I have taken the liberty of putting a copy of the attached report online here: Primates-Report-Final

This is the only careful analysis of which I’m aware dealing with the issue: here

I would advise prayer before you begin contemplating these things.


Please remind all Anglican friends to pray for Jan 25 Primates Meeting

January 18, 2011

Jan 25, the Anglican Communion has a Primates Meeting.  Due to a number of different factors, many believe it will be a tremendously important meeting, and could mean the end of the Anglican Communion as we know.  Please share this or remind your Episcopalian and Anglican friends to pray for the January 25-28 meeting.


A reply to Jim Naughton

September 21, 2010

A reply to Jim Naughton on his post Dan Martins and C-056

I do hope that no LGBT people fall into the trap of believing that they, here, are the targets of shame. This is not even remotely the case, and is evident if one examines Fr. Martins’ words (thanks to Fr. Fountain for finding them), or even if one quickly scans them.

The greatest condemnations in the New Testament are not about faulty teaching concerning sexuality; they are about bringing another gospel into the church. Teaching things such as, that Christ did not rise from the dead, or that whether He did or not is unimportant, and that this has rather to do with maintaining progressive ethical views, are much more reasonably considered instances of bringing another gospel into the church, than any teachings regarding sex, or any possible sex acts.

However, we Anglicans are in a situation regarding such denial of Christ like no other church in history; I know of no church claiming to be Trinitarian in which a leader at its highest level has uttered remarks going so far in denying the divinity of Christ and the resurrection as we have with one of our Primates. This is a sad truth which all Anglicans share, and we all live in a shared, communal condition of apostasy. It is this which fuels the greatest passion in the debate. From the beginning, the worry regarding sexual ethics was, that were we to embrace something which many consider to be contrary to Scripture, we would lose our very faith in Christ. Now, we have in a very significant sense lost this faith in Christ. If there is one thing of which we can be sure, I think it is: that this is by no means the fault of LGBT people.

All this, of course, makes almost everything else we do as a church seem trivial, including actions which emotionally wound, skew deliberative processes, or deceive – or anything any of us might say about sex, or even whatever kind of sex act any of us might engage in. Nonetheless, I have a few very, very trivial words about this most trivial issue.

A church in such a situation as ours is in a state much like a civil war. One finds one’s self doing irrational and unjust things, with unintended victims. Here, though Canon Naughton is such a staunch supporter of LGBT ministry, the LGBT people are the unintended victims of his own desire “to score debating points,” the very thing of which he accuses Fr. Martins. He claims even that Fr. Martins had no principled disagreement with the resolution: we would then conclude that Fr. Martins wishes simply to shame for the sake of shaming, without even any reason or cause; that a man who a diocese wishes to have as their bishop, sees fit to shame and stigmatize gay and lesbian people for no reason whatsoever.

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A thread for info on Borg / +KJS / Christology

August 9, 2010

Someone, sometime, should write an article about the crisis of new non-Trinitarian religion in the Anglican Communion as we find in the teachings of Katharine Jefferts Schori and Marcus Borg. These two figures are, I believe, very much related in their manner of thinking on Christology. I’ve started this thread for any insights / research hints / virtual notecards people may wish to leave, for future work on this topic.


On Anglicans and Apostasy

August 3, 2010

In my last blog posting I brought up the very heavy word “apostasy.” Allow me to be clear: I do not wish to point a finger at anyone, including +KJS, and say: “that person is an apostate.” Instead, I believe we should look at the Communion and ask ourselves: are we suffering a condition of apostasy? And I believe the answer to this question is: yes.

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What is Jefferts Schori teaching? Some more puzzle pieces

August 3, 2010

I have already written about how I believe that it is clear that TEC Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori has denied the resurrection and the divinity of Christ. I sometimes wonder at her words regarding the divinity of Christ where she seems to be following Jesus Seminar scholar Robert J. Miller (author of the book Born Divine) – see her words at the end of the Parabola interview.  This is a rather patchworky collection of pieces of information – I believe they mostly point to Marcus Borg as a source of Christology for +KJS, and confirm that it is more than unlikely that she holds to the doctrines of the resurrection or the divinity of Christ.  Another essay may be written later which is more orderly, but I provide the information here for anyone interested.

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To some friends in dialogue

July 30, 2010

An extensive reply here due to comment limitations elsewhere.

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a thread on topic: “Have any other top church leaders denied essential aspects of Christ’s identity in manners more profound than +KJS?”

June 28, 2010

(posted June 28, 2011 – back-dated so as not to appear amongst current articles)

It appears that the answer here is a resounding “yes” – the degree however to which the churches they are a part, are contributing to these teachings, and the degree to which these are “significant churches,” remains in question.

Jesus’ divinity doubted

Church leader holds controversial views

By BOB HARVEY Southam Newspapers “The Ottawa Citizen” October 30, 1997

The divinity of Jesus and the reality of heaven and hell are irrelevant, says the new moderator of the United Church of Canada.

What really matters, says Right Rev. Bill Phipps, is mending a broken world.

In a free-wheeling debate with the editorial board of the Ottawa Citizen, Phipps said Jesus was more interested in life on Earth than the afterlife and had more to say about economics than any other subject. “I don’t believe Jesus was God, but I’m no theologian,” Phipps said.


Dear Southwark and Scotland: Evidence of Election fraud

June 17, 2010

I am, to my great dismay, coming to realize that few in the Church of England have any stomach to investigate Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori’s words regarding our dear Christ, and what she commends to belief (or unbelief) about Him amongst those she is given opportunity to teach. Any who are still in doubt on this matter, please read this. For any who are still wavering on what they believe about Christ, there is ample reason to avoid further invitations to Jefferts-Schori, and to general cooperation with TEC, simply because this cooperation is inducing fundamentalism within the Communion and within world Christianity.

To add to this matter, for many years now, supporters of TEC – often high-ranking clergy – have been implying that persons who oppose TEC do so because they do not “want their gay and lesbian friends and relatives to be part of their church communities.” This last quote is from Diana Butler Bass – a church historian whose writings I have enjoyed, and is usually a good bit more honest than this. I have never known an Anglican who does not want gay and lesbian people to be part of church communities, and the Anglican Communion’s official teaching on sexuality (known as “Lambeth I.10”) makes very clear that gay and lesbian people must be welcomed and provided pastoral care. I am concerned about this trend of attempting to paint all opposition to the Presiding Bishop as stemming from homophobia, or opposition to female leadership amongst respected Episcopalians, especially when it involves ample deception, as is so often the case.

In the Diana Butler Bass article, one of the respondents who seems to identify himself as an attorney writes: “Rowan Williams personifies the lower terminus of the alimentary canal.” Is it not obvious that writing such untrue things will induce some to extreme prejudice against those it targets, and are not such comments clear evidence that this may be happening? Is it not worth trying to paint a more honest picture of the beliefs, values, opinions, and actions of the group one is criticizing? Does she not realize that some gay and lesbian people who oppose Jefferts-Schori because of her Christology will also be thus tarred with the same brush as persons who do not wish to have any gays and lesbians visit their churches (and I repeat, I have never met any such person who is an Anglican)?

I must warn people in the other provinces of the Communion that TEC is frequently defended by words which are either untrue or patently false – and that even respected “moderates” such as Diana Butler Bass are capable of engaging in such.

Anyone who is still in doubt regarding the integrity of inviting Jefferts-Schori to the Church of England, and in the general credibility of the General Convention of TEC and its other reigning bodies, should look into what occurred at the time of the Presiding Bishop’s election. A major problem was found in the materials given to convention delegates describing Jefferts-Schori’s accomplishments – while she had been an assistant clergy member at her church (I believe 200 or so parishoners – the number dropped during her tenure), she was in charge of adult education. Someone – perhaps she – chose to describe this as being “dean” of a “school of theology,” and on the CV it appears just like this – “Dean of the Good Samaritan School of Theology.” She later provided an explanation for this fanciful description, which I find quite unconvincing, here, though she doesn’t explain why the language is so deceitful, nor if it was she herself was the one who provided the CV information, nor why she did not tell General Convention that the information was false before they voted. This was discovered shortly after the election occurred, though it was a few months before she was invested as Presiding Bishop. No inquiry was made, as far as the public knows, and no transparency was brought to the weighty questions arising from it.

This has far-reaching consequences for issues of trust regarding the structures which govern The Episcopal Church. If they are willing to tolerate deceit to their very General Convention, and when this is discovered, do nothing to investigate it in a transparent manner, where else might deceit be tolerated, and under what conditions can we trust the governing structures of The Episcopal Church? And if, as is very likely, this deceptive language came from the Presiding Bishop herself, to her own General Convention, how difficult it becomes in trusting her in her words to the larger Communion at such a time that there is so much tension, and so much to gain for The Episcopal Church by representing things in a manner other than how they actually stand?

I would plead with loyalist supporters of The Episcopal Church to be generous in honesty when engaging in dialog with others, and especially when describing those who they feel are opposing their views and aims.

The original CV is still on the site of The Episcopal Church here – and if it is removed from their site, a copy is available from this site: PB.Booklet.EnglishFinal

I shan’t judge whether election fraud took place, or not; this is immensely trivial compared to a Primate of the Communion who denies the resurrection and the divinity of Christ. I write this for the sake of those who are still wavering in faith about the reality of Christ – that you might not be deceived by the information you are hearing from TEC’s loyalist supporters. They are under stress, there is something understandable about using extreme characterizations of their opponents; and we must forgive and not judge. But forgiveness does not mean that we must agree with them, nor relinquish a healthy skepticism.


“No life, here – no joy, terror or tears”: Bishop Spong and Archbishop Williams’s response

June 10, 2010

This article appeared originally in the Church Times, 17 July 1998; it was posted for a number of years on the site of the Anglican Church of Tasmania (including the last line “transcribed …”), but has since been removed, so I am re-posting it here. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was, at the time, bishop of Monmouth.

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