This blog, from time to time, has offered strong criticism of The Episcopal Church (TEC). It has done so, not only because it smells various theological rats lurking in TEC's domain, but also because it is not unaware of the enthusiasm some leaders in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP) have for all things TEC. We do not need their rats down under!
An interesting test case of the orthodoxy of TEC as a corporate entity is underway at the moment. A priest called Kevin Thew Forrester has been elected to be the next Bishop of Northern Michigan. The election itself has raised some eyebrows because the organising committee proposed just the one name to the Diocese for consideration, but that is not our issue here. Currently the process of consent for the election is underway. Thus far three bishops have declined to give consent. They are most wise but the question remains open - for there are many bishops in TEC - whether TEC in its entirety will decline consent or not.
The non-consenting bishops are wise because there are reasons to think that Kevin Thew Forrester has no place on any bench of bishops in any church professing to be a member of the Anglican Communion which, however faintly and shakily, is an orthodox creedal Scriptural church of Jesus Christ. One reason is the commitment Kevin Thew Forrester has to Buddhism. Clever defenders have responded to this concern along the lines of, well, he is a Christian with an interest in Buddhism as a pathway of meditation; and meditation is a good thing for Christians. (Of course this is not particularly clever as Christians may meditate without recourse to Buddhism). But an even stronger reason for declining consent lies in the difficulty of matching Mr Forrester's public teaching with the statements of the Nicene Creed. Greg Griffith of Stand Firm lays this out in a recent post. Here is a sample (I have emboldened the Nicene creed statements. Go to the original for links to sources for KTF's statements):
"And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
"The Trinitarian structure of life is this: is that everything that is comes from the source. And you can name the source what you want to name the source. And our response to that is with hearts of gratitude and thanksgiving, to return everything back to that source, and there’s a spirit who enables that return. Everything comes from God. We give it back to God. And the spirit gives us the heart of gratitude. That is the Trinitarian nature of life." (Trinity Sunday sermon, May 18, 2008)
And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
"We are the very enclosure of God. Why does God care for this vineyard that is you? Why does God care for the vineyard that is me? Why does God care for the vineyards of those who are Buddhists or Muslim or Hindu? Because God dwells in them and they dwell in God even when we don’t know it." (Pentecost 22 sermon, Oct 5, 2008 - download audio in MP3 format here)
"We seek and serve Christ in all persons because all persons are the living Christ. Each and every human being, as a human being, is knit together in God's Spirit, and thus an anointed one – Christ." (Already One in God, response to Dar es Salaam communiqué, to which KTF is a signatory, The Church in Hiawathaland newsletter, Sept 2007)
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
"We do harmful and evil things to ourselves and one another, not because we are bad, but because we are blind to the beauty of creation and ourselves." (Already One in God, response to Dar es Salaam communiqué, to which KTF is a signatory, The Church in Hiawathaland newsletter, Sept 2007."
Note the permeating error here is that Kevin Thew Forrester is in charge of the truth. The effect of his teaching is , "You have heard it said that this is Christian truth, but I tell you it is this". Christianity only has room for one Christ!
If TEC in its majority confirms the election it looks an open and shut case that it is a church which tells the truth in a different manner to the remainder of the Anglican Communion.
We should let them go so they may worship 'God' in their own way in their own space.
If TEC were to decline consent to this election then we should rejoice, for a sign will have emerged that TEC can tell the truth and the Communion can continue to unite through the truth.