Friday, October 26, 2012

Unctuous vacuity

Dreadful reporting here in an NZ Herald report about the forthcoming ACC in Auckland. (Don't be fooled by the "NZ" in the newspaper's title. It is an Auckland paper which is simply being true to the fact that up in Auckland they think they are NZ!).

Somewhat typically of the lowest quality of journalism hereabouts, the article starts with an interview of someone (a friend of mine, as it happens) who is not a member of the ACC and who cheerfully predicts what the ACC will decide. But if one can be bothered to read on to the end, you will find an actual functionary of the ACC, Kenneth Kearon, who knows the agenda backwards, draws the opposite conclusion!

I do understand that "Nothing much will be decided at ACC meeting" does not sell newspapers!

What some of us would like to see from journalists at ACC is a focused interview of Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori (TEC) and Bishop Douglas (Connecticutt). Here are the questions I would be asking:

(1) Are you going after every bishop of TEC dioceses which does not fully accede to the canons and constitution of TEC?

Should be an interesting answer since Connecticutt is deficient in this matter also!

(2) Given the amount of legal machinations going on against conservative bishops in TEC (not just South Carolina, also against these bishops), does "E" in "TEC" stand for "exclusive"?

(3) Which word better describes these moves against conservative bishops in TEC, "purge" or "cleansing"?

Hopefully we would get straight answers and no unctuous vacuity.

It is just that the NZ Herald report doesn't fill me with hope that any reporter will show up ready to ask tough questions ...


Father Ron Smith said...

Sadly, Peter, there certainly won't be ANY tough questioning of the dissidents - about their endemic homophobia which has led them to provoke tough action by TEC on the peripheral loyalty of their con/evo confreres to their parent Church in the U.S. - because they won't be at the ACC - having abandoned their historic roots.

I'm sure, that, if questioned, TEC's Presiding bishop will be able to give a good account of her Gospel stewardship of the forward-looking policies of the Episcopal Church - which have allowed TEC to move on with important matters of justice and freedom in the Church.

Your remarks against the NZ Herald do rather suggest the culture of isolationism - that prefers the status quo - rather then the real investigation of causes of endemic injustice that need to be addressed by the Church.

I hope the Archbishop of Canterbury will be true to his own heartfelt convictions - if asked about the issues of gender and sexuality when he is interviewed by the N.Z.Herald in Auckland and, of course, by The Press in Christchurch.

As Scripture says: "The truth will set you free!"

By the way, I do agree that the Press is a superior newspaper to the Herald. But papers are only able to report the truth that they actually hear from 'interested parties'. Investigative journalism is sometimes off the mark.

C. Wingate said...

Fr. Smith, as soon as you use the word "homophobia" you've signed up not for "questioning" but for hectoring. And I'm sorry, but anyone who has ever had to suffer through the presiding bishop give an accounting of her theology knows that she can't, at least not if you want to hear something that's unquestionably consistent with the creeds. The obsession with endorsing homosexuality and with "inclusion" has overridden the most basic kind of theological discernment. At least communing the unbaptized got voted down at GC, but it's embarrassing that it even came to a vote at all, and that's hardly the end of the problems. And when it comes to church discipline, we have all the various bishops authorizing same-sex marriages now even though the same-sex blessing rite isn't even authorized to be used for another month. But nobody is going to bother pressing discipline against them because they can see from the Righter verdict that those kind of canonical limitations have no force.

I do not think of 815's policies as forward-looking, though I admit that they can talk themselves into thinking that. They look to me to be tyrannical and vindictive. It's not hard to quote Jesus against the whole "fiduciary responsibility" rationalization, and it's not hard to refer to our own history to legitimize self-separation.

Anonymous said...

"about their endemic homophobia"

There is no such thing as "homophobia". Opposition to the Church changing its teaching on marriage is loyalty to Christ and to His Word in Scripture, not a phobia. A phobia is a serious medical/psychiatric condition. Being opposed to the normalisation of sexual sin is an opinion, not a phobia.

It is long past time that this kind of dishonest Liberal "Newspeak" aimed at Bible believing Christians be condemned for what it is... hate speech.

Simon said...

It's what you'd expect from journalists with little grasp of the fundamentals of world faiths and even less grasp of the complexities of how a global church works. There's little place for shade, subtlety and grey areas in such reporting these days - it has to be 'them vs us', black or white.
The Herald is good at printing submitted comment pieces of 600-800 words in its 'Dialogue' section, Peter: why don't you send one in to

carl jacobs said...

This ACC will be remembered less for what it does and more for what it demonstrates - the continuing collapse of the AC's bureaucracy. The ACC after all thinks it should govern the AC. It's one of those institutions that western Liberals can safely dominate through language and superior tactical deployment of Roberts Rules. But the rest of the AC is simply going to ignore it. The ACC can declare, pronounce, define, proclaim, and perhaps even pound its little shoe on the table. No one is going to listen.

The Primates meeting has been castrated. The Lambeth Conference has been reduced to a glorified chat session - with tea, of course. The credibility of the AoC has been shattered. The ACC has no remaining authority beyond pretensions of liberal grandeur. What then remains of the Instruments of Unity?


Father Ron Smith said...

"The ACC can declare, pronounce, define, proclaim, and perhaps even pound its little shoe on the table. No one is going to listen."

It would be only too easy to give alternatives to the note 'ACC' here: For instance: ACNA, GAFCON, AMIA...
- except that the shoe would be heavier!

Daniel Weir said...

How can one ignore the actions of a Bishop in the Episcopal Church who says, "My diocese can decide which of the canons it wants to accept."? That is the real exclusionary position, not that of the Disciplinary Board which has ruled that that action amounts to a violation of a Bishop's ordination promises. Are there other violations of the canons by clergy in other dioceses? Yes, but the SC stance is so public and sweeping a challenge to the canons that it should not go unanswered.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Daniel,

In general the actions of errant bishops or clergy who have taken vows etc should not be ignored.

But the question can be raised (as I understand things) whether some recent canons passed by GC received the critical scrutiny they should have received, in particular if foresight as to the consequences of them had been exercised. The consequences in this instance being a church in which conservative bishops feel compelled to support other conservative Episcopalians through the courts, or a conservative bishop feels compelled to go with the majority direction of his diocese rather than stand against it.

In short, the question I am raising is whether TEC should be standing back from disciplinary action against its bishops and asking the larger question: do our current canons and constitution (and, one might add, policy re pursuing property) create a favourable environment for the continuing inclusion of conservative Episcopalians? If the answer is negative, perhaps a review is in order rather than disciplinary charges.

carl jacobs said...

Daniel Weir

A man is subject to legitimate authority. But TEC does not have the authority to command what God has explicitly forbidden. TEC does not have the authority to proclaim what God has explicitly denied. TEC cannot justly condemn a man who refuses to obey illegitimate authority. It may throw him in the furnace for his refusal, but he will not be condemned.


Father Ron Smith said...

" TEC does not have the authority to command what God has explicitly forbidden.'

I wonder where that argument has been used before - to shore up a position that is no longer sustainable?

carl jacobs said...


The statement you quoted isn't an argument. It's an undeniable fact. If you want to answer the argument I put forward, then you would have to answer the question of authority. That would be the question you have studiously avoided answering for months. Because, well, let's face it. Your true answer to that question would be "I am my own authority" but that sounds rather presumptuous. Which is why you have never answered that question - and never will.


Anonymous said...

As you say Carl the reason why Ron has repeatedly refused to answer a very simple question posed by a number of people concerning authority is that it would reveal the truth that Liberalism in practice is a form of atheism. Liberal "Christians" have replaced God with themselves. Thus Ron's references to self-enlightenment.

That is why "reason" is invoked so often as an excuse to ignore Scripture, Because the authority of both Scripture and tradition have been replaced, not by reason, but by personal opinion informed by Liberal political ideology.

And Liberal "Christians" are not going to admit to that fact, as it would destroy the pretense that they still believe and practice the Christian Faith.

Father Ron Smith said...

"And Liberal "Christians" are not going to admit to that fact, as it would destroy the pretense that they still believe and practice the Christian Faith.' - Shawn -

I had promised my self not to respond to Shawn's gibes, but this one deserves my response.

Jesus was crucified by the Pharisees for his 'liberality' - which led him to crucifixion and death - a death which has 'set prisoners free'. There's liberation worth having.

As for his offensive charge that I, and liberals like me, uphold a "pretense that they still believe and practice the Christian Faith.", the remark is simply a falsehood. May God forgive you, because I find it difficult.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
Your comment only just squeezed through the moderation process. Rightly Ron has taken you to task for it. I suggest you stop tarring all liberal Christians with the same theological brush. Some liberal Christians are quasi-atheists who are not facing up to the vacuity of their beliefs. Ron Smith is definitely NOT in that category. You and I may not agree with his liberality on certain issues, but that does not mean he deserves to be caught up in a sweeping generalisation.

MichaelA said...

Father Ron Smith's allegation that orthodox christians in USA suffer from "endemic homophobia" is incorrect. In the scriptures God tells us the truth about how we should live and relate to each other, and it is not in any sense a "phobia" to seek to live by those standards, nor to regulate the church by them.

The "forward-looking policies of the Episcopal Church" are actually backward-looking, relating more to second-centruy gnosticism than any new development. This is evident in the incredibly divisive mass of law suits and complaints which TEC has generated, which have grown in proportion to the growth of said policies.

However, I do commend Father Ron's priority of avoiding "isolationism". Being alone is not healthy for Christians. Unfortunately TEC is currently the most isolated province in the Communion. Let's hope and pray that that changes.

I also agree with Father Ron's point that Jesus death which has 'set prisoners free' is the true liberation. It is good that the Diocese of South Carolina has such a strong grasp of that truth and its practical implications.

Anonymous said...


Jesus was crucified for claiming to be the Messiah, not for being a Liberal.

Peter, and yet Ron's sweeping generalizations about conservative evangelicals being homophobes and hatred sail through moderation without a word from you. WHY? I cannot take your comment seriously when you allow Ron virtual free reign to accuse others of being haters and homophobes. Why do you apply different standards for Ron?

And I respectfully disagree with you. ALL liberals are atheists in practice.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
You are entitled to disagree with me!

I let slip that remark about "endemic homophobia" and will try to do better next time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

My last post was a little petulant and whiney, and unfair to the difficult job you do on this blog. My apologies, and I will take your concerns about generalizations on board.

Peter Carrell said...

No prob!