Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Unmasking the imposter

Just when one thinks from afar that things cannot get worse in the United States of America (has the recent Director of the CIA had one affair or two affairs? Did he resign because America is still in the grip of Puritanism or because as the Director of the CIA he gave his password to his girlfriend? Is the States about to fall off the fiscal cliff?) we have the strangest of paradoxical manipulating of names and claims in the Episcopalian region of South Carolina. As we will see, one dare not use the word 'Diocese' as a synonym for region in this particular case.

If you read here, here and here, you will see that the paradox which is South Carolingian Episcopalianism consists of a bishop (+Mark Lawrence) who as 'the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina' is being taken to an Episcopalian ecclesial court by Episcopalians in that Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina on charges which the Episcopalian bishop in charge of discipline has determined to be substantive and not trivial and a group of people aided and abetted by The Episcopal Church (i.e. the same church treating +Mark Lawrence as a real Bishop of a real Diocese) claiming that they are the real Diocese of South Carolina as they set up a Steering Committee which will set in motion the real apparatus of a real diocese of The Episcopal Church which will be the true (genuinely Anglican) Diocese of South Carolina within the polity of The Episcopal Church of the United States of America.

Now the paradox could be easily resolved by (i) dropping the charges against +Mark Lawrence while simultaneously pronouncing him a former bishop of TEC and formally expelling all people purporting to be Episcopalian members of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina who do not abide by the rule of TEC; (ii) formally transferring control of all the assets and seals of the Diocese of South Carolina to the Steering Committee.

Wait! (i) is hard to achieve as (presumably) lots of Episcopalians in South Carolina are going to claim to be and to remain Episcopalians, true to the essential orthodox doctrine of The Episcopal Church as founded in continuity with historic Anglicanism. (ii) is impossible to achieve (as I understand South Carolina law).

So, if I understand the situation, we are going forward with two claimants to be 'The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina' one of which is imposter and one of which is not.

But then I could be wrong.

10 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

I tend to avoid sex gossip, Peter; but then I find that gossip about the 'terrible actions' of TEC and the Presiding Bishop are almost as sickening.

What we all have to learn in the Anglican Communion as a whole, is that intentional schism does have unfortunate consequences, and has to be dealt with! Your friend +Lawrence and his Standing Committee do have to answer for their disregard of TEC polity.

After all, +Lawrence knew all about TEC's liberal policies - BEFORE he chose to take up office as a Bishop in that Church! He need not have accepted the calling. But I guess he had another agenda - towards the destabilisation of TEC. This could not possibly be allowed by the Bishops and Faithful of the Church to which he (notionally) belongs.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
It is not 'sex gossip' to wonder what is going on when the head of the secret service agency of the greatest power on the earth is embroiled in a personal scandal at the same time that his agency is caught up in a potentially great political scandal, nor to ensure whether the key issue is not puritanical rage against personal choices but common sense concern for security, trust and patriotic duty.

There is no gossip I am aware of when we are talking about the actions of the Presiding Bishop, just a duty of care to ensure that actions taken against brothers and sisters in Christ are performed with canonical consistency and constitutional care.

Bryden Black said...

“But I guess he [+ML] had another agenda - towards the destabilisation of TEC. This could not possibly be allowed by the Bishops and Faithful of the Church to which he (notionally) belongs.” Ron Smith

The difficulty I have with this sort of reasoning Ron is this: substitute “Frank Griswold” for “Mark Lawrence”; substitute “Anglican Communion” for “TEC” - or keep TEC if one really wishes, for that matter; situate ourselves at the close of the ad hoc meeting of Primates called by Rowan Williams a month before Gene Robinson’s consecration; sign off collectively and individually on the communiqué; return back to the US; and consecrate Gene anyway.

Then run your second sentence as it stands - in that context ... The rest is, as they say, history, including TWR.

But the trouble with “history” is not only one of ‘facts’; it is also - yes - a hermeneutical issue! And to date, Ron, there is a most serious and unresolved issue surrounding the exact understanding of the Polity of TEC and its History. The little I have gathered over the past decade on this matter tells me to be really rather wary about reaching for hasty conclusions. This much I will suggest: there appears to be a deep and serious doctrinal difference, one that appears for all the world to be irreconcilable, given notably their respective doctrinal methodologies, between - let us say - the key players in ‘TEC ala 815’ versus Covenant Partner Bishops, ACNA, GAFCON, FCA, you name them. Thereafter, it is really just plain cute to allege who is walking away from whom/what ... and so who is the cause of what schism ...

To conclude: The present global dynamic, especially since ACC 15, which simply dodged this particular bullet/failed to grasp this particular nettle, is that by sheer default/drift the Anglican Communion is no more, and we are fast becoming a federation - or ex federation - of churches. These are the facts on the ground; whose final interpretation will surely be upon us by the time ++Welby calls for Lambeth 2018. Kyrie eleison!

Father Ron Smith said...

" the key players in ‘TEC ala 815’ versus Covenant Partner Bishops, ACNA, GAFCON, FCA, you name them. Thereafter, it is really just plain cute to allege who is walking away from whom/what ... and so who is the cause of what schism ..." - B.Black -

you're not the only one, Bryden, to have followed the course of TEC for the last 10 years. (And I am not into 'cute')I was an active contributor to 'Global South Anglican' web-log when it first began - along with someone else we both know. I guess you and I have somewhat different perspectives on just who the Gospel of Jesus Christ is aimed at - saints or sinners - or could it be both?. I guess there's always someone ready to 'Throw the first stone".

TEC has always been an independent member of the Anglican Communion - having, indeed, probably been one of the reasons for its first formation. Its first bishop was of Scottish ordinal provenance - not from Canterbury, and PECUSA/TEC has long been a self-governing Province, with its own polity and ethos.

It had a perfect right to go ahead with the ordination of a bishop who was chosen by TEC to become Bishop of a TEC Diocese. The only difference with this ordination is that the local Church knew what they were voting for - a partnered Gay priest; whereas one has known of Gay clergy ordained into the Church of England's episcopate - but the 'unspeakable fact' was kept under wraps.

The issue here, surely, is that of openness versus hypocrisy, on an issue perceived by TEC (and many others of us) to be adiaphora, and not matter of credal dispute. TEC knew what it was doing at the time, and was open about it!

You may remember that our very own New Zealand Church took a step that could have caused scandal at the time, with the separation out into a 3-tikanga church governance. Nobody stepped away from the Communion on that issue - nor on the issue of Women's Ordination, but I guess it didn't involve sex - that taboo subject which has been kept under wraps in the Church for centuries - ever since the Song of Songs in the Old Testament.

There have been other issues in the Church, where one Province has done something that has offended other Provinces, but none of the other Provinces stepped away. TEC did what it saw as the right thing for their specific situation. Who, then, moved away? Your old friends, whom you name above as being in contention with TEC on the issue of human sexuality.

Now that TEC has decided to include Gays and Lesbians among its clergy and bishops - with absolutely no obfuscation - the conservatives are raising an atomic holocaust.

Well, +Justin, the new Archbishop of Canterbury has already declared war on homophobia in Churches of the Communion, so we'll we how he deals with matters - in the long run.

And in the meantime, If GAFCON and other want to leave the Anglican Communion, on grounds of cultic purity, then we must let them go with God's Blessing. I know that I shall remain at ACANZP

Bryden Black said...

Thanks Ron for your ‘take’ ... Yet, the precise point of my comment seems to have been missed - or avoided.

It has nothing to do with homophobia or even sex per se. Rather, it suggests phrases like “openness versus hypocrisy” (on any matter of substance) quite simply cut both ways. Failure to have enough imagination to see and acknowledge that is one of the key reasons for the ‘Communion’ being in the stalemate it is.

The delightful thing about any due “hermeneutic of suspicion” is that it has the habit of biting its practitioners in the tail! And that IS cute ... For in the end, just who IS the imposter becomes impossible to tell - when applying such methodologies ...

Daniel Weir said...

Bp Lawrence has supported his convention's decision to refuse to abide by those TEC Canons with which it disagrees. Whether his support amounts to a violation of his ordination promises or abandonment of communion with TEC, is not mine to say, but the questiion is an important one. Having been accused of being an anarchist because of my left-wing convictions, I find it interesting to see a conservative like Bp Lawrence accused of something akin to anarchy.

Father Ron Smith said...

Some people, Daniel - but only when it applies to THEIR actions, prefer to call it 'Righteousness'.

MichaelA said...

Father Ron Smith wrote:

"What we all have to learn in the Anglican Communion as a whole, is that intentional schism does have unfortunate consequences, and has to be dealt with!"

Indeed. Hence why most of the Anglican Communion will not have communion with the apostate leaders of TEC. Actions have consequences.

"Your friend +Lawrence and his Standing Committee do have to answer for their disregard of TEC polity."

Firstly, it is not "his standing committee". The body to which you refer is the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina. No other has been constituted, despite some erroneous claims by lawless elements.

Secondly, how has +Lawrence or anyone else in Dio SC "disregarded TEC polity"?

"After all, +Lawrence knew all about TEC's liberal policies - BEFORE he chose to take up office as a Bishop in that Church!"

Now I have to pull you up on this one – a truly wild assertion. You are suggesting that the decision by TEC in 2012 to bless same sex unions (one of the bizarre actions by TEC that led to the South Carolina delegation walking out of General Convention) was *known* before 2008 when Mark Lawrence accepted the invitation of the diocese to become its bishop?

Lets stick to facts rather than hyperbole.

"I guess you and I have somewhat different perspectives on just who the Gospel of Jesus Christ is aimed at - saints or sinners - or could it be both?"

The Gospel is aimed at sinners, which means every person on earth. But if is genuinely accepted, then the Gospel can transform sinners into saints. This is fundamental to Christian doctrine.

MichaelA said...

Father Ron Smith wrote,

"TEC … had a perfect right to go ahead with the ordination of a bishop who was chosen by TEC to become Bishop of a TEC Diocese."

Of course. TEC has a legal right to do anything it likes. It can outlaw the Bible in its churches if it wishes. But what it can't do is abandon the faith once delivered and yet expect to remain a member in good standing of the Anglican Communion. Hence why the majority of Anglicans in the world are now in impaired communion with TEC.

"The only difference with this ordination is that the local Church knew what they were voting for - a partnered Gay priest; whereas one has known of Gay clergy ordained into the Church of England's episcopate - but the 'unspeakable fact' was kept under wraps."

Even if this assertion is true, how does that reflect any credit on TEC? – "we blatantly disregard God's teaching, but its okay because we are open about it! We aren't like those dishonest British homosexual priests over there..."

Your position appears to be that any sin is permissible, as long as the sinner is "open" about it – on that basis, you can justify anything!

"Now that TEC has decided to include Gays and Lesbians among its clergy and bishops - with absolutely no obfuscation - the conservatives are raising an atomic holocaust."

Not at all. The "atomic holocaust" describes the way in which the leaders of TEC fulminate and threaten anyone who dares to disagree with them. It is the way liberals always behave once they are in charge – no-one should ever trust them. But the faithful have simply borne witness to TEC's sin by treating them as people outside the church – as they should.

"And in the meantime, If GAFCON and other want to leave the Anglican Communion, on grounds of cultic purity, then we must let them go with God's Blessing. I know that I shall remain at ACANZP"

This is a very curious thing to write, since Gafcon and the Global South have made it very clear that they are not leaving the Anglican Communion! What is the point of discussing counterfactuals?

Shawn said...

"This is a very curious thing to write, since Gafcon and the Global South have made it very clear that they are not leaving the Anglican Communion!"

GAFCON, or more accurately the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, is a reform movement WITHIN the Anglican Communion. It has never at any point talked about leaving the Communion, and has no intention of doing so.

This claim is, as I have said before, an outright lie.

The only group that has in fact left the Communion is TEC, which has thrown out the Anglican faith in favour of various politically correct ideologies, and made it clear that it had no intention of respecting the Communion when they betrayed their word and ordained GR, AFTER they said they would abide by the moratorium.