The Bishop of West Texas’ 2008 Diocesan Council Address

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[In his Advent letter Archbishop Rowan Williams] also suggests that this working group “will also have to consider whether in the present circumstances it is possible for provinces or individual bishops at odds with the expressed mind of the Communion to participate fully in representative Communion agencies, including ecumenical bodies. Its responsibility will be to weigh current developments in the light of the clear recommendations of Windsor and of the subsequent statements from the ACC (Anglican Consultative Council) and the Primates’ Meeting; itwill thus also be bound to consider the exact status of bishops ordained by one province for ministry in another. At the moment, the question of ‘who speaks for the Communion?’ is surrounded by much unclarity and urgently needs resolution…Not everyone carrying the name of Anglican can claim to speak authentically for the identity we share as a global fellowship.” These are enormous challenges and I, and the committee, need your prayers in the days ahead.

Perhaps the Archbishop got to the bottom line when he illustrated the issue as being “whether or how far we can recognise the same Gospel and ministry” in one another. We’ll see if we have both the wisdom and the will to arrive together at the yet-to-be determined far shore. We’re stuck, and we need to look for ways to become un-stuck.

Read it all.

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Posted February 26, 2008 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Passionate Parson wrote:

Who is the archbishop in question?

February 26, 1:29 pm | [comment link]
2. Kendall Harmon wrote:

Rowan williams as made clear in the first sentence of the post.

February 26, 1:38 pm | [comment link]
3. Alta Californian wrote:

Do read the whole thing, from paragraph 58 on.  West Texas is blessed to have this man.

February 26, 2:54 pm | [comment link]
4. Philip Snyder wrote:

The more I ponder the issues facing the Church and the more I meditate on God’s word and on the history of the Church, the more I am convinced that we need to stay and work to reconcile the Episcopal Church with God and with the Anglican Communion.  It may be a fool’s task and only the insane would persue it, so I am a fool for Christ and I am insane by the World’s standards. 

Woe is me!  For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!
(Isaiah 6:4,5)

The first step in reconciling the Church back to Jesus Christ is to reconcile ourselves with Jesus - to confess our own sins and failings and to be refilled with the Holy Spirit.  Then we must witness to the power of Jesus Christ to make all things new - even His Church!  It may be that the Episcopal Church, USA will fall into permanent oblivion, but no one looked for Israel to return from the Babylonian captivity either!.  I am convinced that God is raising up and will continue to raise up leaders to bring His wayward Church back to himself.  It seems that +Lillibridge is one of those leaders.

Phil Snyder

February 26, 4:23 pm | [comment link]
5. drummie wrote:

The Bishop settles all of the arguments with his view of core doctrines.  If this view were held by TEC and the House of Bishops as a whole, there would be no problem. His statement:    In my view, core doctrines of the faith such as the Incarnation, the second person of the Trinity, the Resurrection, and the Creeds are not up for a vote as if these are somehow out of date or politically incorrect.

Any person whose beliefs are the same as the Bishop’s view of things, could not help but be a conservative Christian, IF you truly believe those things.  This is the problem, the presiding heretic and the house of bishops have stated differently.  You can not believe the creeds and then turn around and state that Jesus is only one way to God.  It CAN”T be done.

Reading on, the Bishops states:    If Jesus is our beginning point as Chrysostom says, then we need to make sure that we are building on solid biblical Christology as to what we hold in common regarding Jesus as Lord. If our beginning point is faulty, the whole house collapses.
In case anyone hadn’t noticed, this is exactly what has happened.  TEC has abandoned any form of solidly biblical Christology for some pop culture definition of some slick snake oil salesman from the middle east, which just happened to be a nice guy.  Look out above, the whole house is collapsing and has been for nearly 40 years.
I think the bishop gives up to easily to the relativist. 
“ In the final analysis, I’m not interested in winning. I am interested in healing. And I am confident that in God’s time, we will discover that the stream does, in fact, find the ocean.

I am interested in winning.  If I don’t win on a personal level, I am condemned.  The only way I can win is to completely “give up” and turn to Christ Jesus as my lord and savior.  He can’t be one or the other.  He must be both.  Far to many people are looking for a savior, without having to serve a lord. For Him to be my savior, I must have faith in what he says, teaches, and does.  For Him to be my Lord, I must know, love, and serve Him in this life.  If I do that, I will win eternal life in his grace.  That is THE big win. Healing is wonderful, but at what price?  I personally am not ready to compromise on what I see as the core doctrines of Christianity.  Not Anglicanism, but Christianity.  I love the Anglican liturgy, but I love my Lord more. 

This could bring up a whole other topic, love vs. like?  Like is something that is inborn or ingrained in me such as, I don’t like sea urchins for dinner, but I do like oysters.  I can’t help liking or not liking something.  Love, is a choice, like I love that person.  In all of the acrimony in the church now, I have to love even the revisionists, which takes some effort.  I do not have to like them though.

February 26, 4:26 pm | [comment link]
6. Chris Hathaway wrote:

There was lots of positive features in this address, but on the crucial issue before the church it seemed to me rather warm and fuzzy without any clear answers or direction.

A few things I noted on the way.

Paragraphs 32-34
  32. core value) Reconciliation: We are a community committed to live in reconciled relationship with God and all people. Our efforts in living into Christ’s reconciling ministry begin with acknowledging our reconciled relationship with God – whose idea this was in the first place.

    (33. We live in a complex, multi-cultural global family and unfortunately differences often create division. Reconciliation requires humility, listening, fortitude, patience, an open mind, and willingness to engage this healing work because we recognize the lengths to which God has gone for our reconciliation

  (34. Reconciliation with others affords us so many opportunities that it seems to be full-time work. Our families, our friends, issues of racism, living together in a “pluralistic religious” world, the fragmentation over the years within Christianity itself because of a host of issues, and the list goes on. There is plenty of reconciling work to be done, and this core value says we engage it.

The term “reconciliation” has been thrown around in the church like a buzzword without any clear definition. Bishop Lillibridge doesn’t help this by not making clear why reconciliation is necessary. What causes us to need to be reconciled to God and one another. What separates us. He rattles off the complexity of multiculturalism, racism, historic theological differences. But there is a glaring omission. Sin. Sin is the principal and ultimate cause of all alienation and division. I am not implying the bishop doesn’t believe this. I would like to believe he does. But he doesn’t say it. It is absent from his vocabulary. Anglicanism used to speak forcefully about the reality of Sin constantly. Look up our early Prayer Books. So many of our leaders have lost the language.

I appreciate his reference to Giles Fraser’s observation (though he might have noted that Fraser is a theological liberal) that England and its church adopted a reflexive position of conflict-avoidance labeled “toleration” which made it “incapable of addressing any of its inner tensions”.  He contrasts that with the American idea of that “if your cause is righteous, you must fight for it.”.

Lillibridge says “there must be a better way than either of these alternatives”. Why “must” there be another way? Can there be another way between surrender and resistance? What evidence is there that there is another way or that there needs to be one? The bishops offers none. He knows none. It would be nice if people calling for a mythical third way could point to any period in church history when such a way was modeled, but alas, he leaves us with a pious pig in a poke.

Lillibridge’s problem is the same as Fraser’s, and the ABC’s as well as N.T. Wright’s problem. They cannot see the substantial difference that union with the State does to a church’s polity, though, as an American you would think Lillibridge might have a clue in this regard. Instead he has drunk too deep of Anglican’s institutional Erastianism. What causes the “toleration” model of the C of E is the political need of the State in a liberal democracy for toleration to avoid civil war. The State’s need was passed onto the Church. But when the Church and State are separate, as in America, that transfer does not happen. The State is free to allow generous toleration to keep civil peace while the Church is free to pursue its ideals.

Paragraphs 77-79 Lillibridge’s use of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians that “there be no devisions among you” because Christ is not divided implies that crucial theological divisions do not create spiritual division. He quite clearly implies that progressives are “in Christ” just as we are, that this is a work that Christ has done on the cross irrespective of the positions of faith taken by us. What is the natural consequence of such thinking if not to lead toward universalism? Should we not allow that Muslims and Hindus, Atheists and witches are reconciled to God in Christ and are “in Him” as well? If not, is it only because they reject the name of Christian? Is there no heresy that should cause the heretic to be seen by the orthodox as “outside” the Body of Christ in some significant way as touches the church?

Paragraph 89. While we argue about who has the true faith and wipe the dust of others off our feet, does the world – which is the object of God’s venture in mission – see a body worth joining? I mean, what kind of example are we, the Church, setting in a world already racked with division?

Let us leave aside the fact that he seems to scorn actions Jesus commands (shaking dust off our feet). What is the world really looking to the church for? a way of creating unity?  There have been many schemes for creating unity in the world. Right, Comrades? I we read a little to the end of the Book we will see that at the end of the world there will be two united bodies. One group will achieve by everyone sharing a common bond and a common mark. The other will be united in rejecting that marl because they have another secret one.

Unity itself is not the answer. Disunity is not the problem.

Is not the real problem that the world should be looking to the church to see an answer for it, is not this the problem of how to be saved from Sin and the futility of life apart from God? It is reconciliation we should be modeling and reconciliation with those likewise reconciled to God. What kind of witness do we make to the world when we reconcile ourselves to those who refuse the reconciliation of God by remaking it to their own liking so that Sin need not be denied? What witness do we make when the way of life and the way of death are seen as reconcilable within the people of God?

Nothing but fuzzy platitudes from this bishop.

Therein lies our problem.
veritas über alles

February 26, 6:25 pm | [comment link]
7. Milton wrote:

(cross-posted from Stand Firm)

The good bishop needs to re-read his own paragaphs 83 and 84 above and then compare them with the hardened hearts whose writings can be read on the HOBD listserv.  He would realize very quickly that by his own words they refuse to be reconciled, except as a lion is reconciled with an antelope!

John and Paul both wrote to the effect not to invite a false “brother” into our home, not even to eat with such a one.  Another commenter on another thread here recently noted Chrysostom, who +Lillibridge quotes approvingly here, as having quite a different exchange with the heretic Marcion:
Marcion: “Do you know who I am?”
Chrysostom: “I do.  You are the son of the devil.”

Might as well reconcile the Spirit with the flesh.  Oh, that’s right.  Scripture has a little something to say about that!

[3] Posted by Milton on 02-24-2008 at 06:34 PM
Also, outrageous wilful wishful thinking and abuse of Scripture worthy of a Worthy Opponent in his paragraphs 100 and 101.  The visions from the LORD were infrequent in those days because Eli allowed his 2 sons to violate the Law and abuse their position as priests even to the extent of eating the sacrifice before the LORD’s portion was offered up and to repeated fornication.  Such false priests do not hold the word of the LORD as precious in any sense!

[4] Posted by Milton on 02-24-2008 at 06:39 PM

February 26, 10:35 pm | [comment link]
8. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

While there are many, many fine features of this address by +Gary Lillibridge that make it far superior to the usual fare that most bishops serve up at their annual conventions or councils, I think the bishop is sadly mistaken in his fundamental assessment of what is needed at this critical point in the history of Anglicanism.  He puts the emphasis plainly on the need for reconciliation.  As drummie aptly notes (#5), his final paragraph does indeed capture the tone of this address when +Lillibridge confesses, “In the final analysis, I am not interested in winning.  I am interested in healing.”

As a personal statement, I can’t quarrel with that kind of self-differentiating declaration by the bishop.  That may be his call from the Lord.  All I can really say is that I feel a totally different call. 

The fact is, we ARE in a theological civil war.  There is no denying it.  And there is no realistic chance for a negotiated truce.  The only true peace that will be achieved will come after the accursed progressives are FORCED into unconditional surrender.  Then and only then will there be peace, but it will be after the terms of peace have been dictated by the victorious orthodox party.  I really do mean that literally.  The bloodshed has only begun.  The worst is still to come.

His citation of 1 Corinthians 1 is partially apt.  It’s true that not all advocates of the “gay is OK” delusion are committed to the full slate of heresies typical of others in TEC, i.e., ideological pluralism, moral relativism and so on.  That is a very important point.  But fundamentally, the comparison to 1 Cor. 1 is inappropriate because it ASSUMES that we are dealing with the kind of issue that separated the Corinthians into rival factions: those who claimed to champion Peter, or Paul, or Apollos, or even (perhaps arrogantly) Christ himself.  Instead, we are dealing with a situation much closer to that of 2 Cor. 10-13, or Galatians, where Paul is much, much harsher and more polemical because he regards the opposing factions he faces in these cases as not Christian at all.  He charges the leaders in these cases with being false brethren and false apostles (unlike Peter or Apollos).  And alas, I believe that this is regrettably the case with so many leaders in TEC today. 

For example, I do not regard ++Katherine Jefferts Schori as a wayward sister in Christ.  I don’t recognize her as a sister in Christ at all.  She is my ex-sister in Christ.  She is an ENEMY of the gospel, and should be treated as such, openly and publicly.  I would never exchange the peace with her.  Period.

At least, that is my firm, settled opinion.  That means that reconciliation is NOT the appropraite goal in many cases.  Being reconciled with ALL other human beings is an eschatological concept in Ephesians 1 and elsewhere.  And it’s only possible AFTER the sheep have been separated from the goats, the believers from the unbelievers, and the eternal assignment of all to heaven or hell has taken place.  Until then, we must follow Paul’s injunction for this age, which is this:  “In so far as it is possible, live at peace with all.”  Alas, there are very definite limits on how possible that is in our day.

BTW, Milton is inaccurate in his citation in #7 of the encounter of the orthodox hero who confronts the arch-heretic and calls him the son of the Devil.  It wasn’t Chrsostom (a late 4th century saint) and Marcion (a mid 2nd century heretic).  I believe it was a legend about the Apostle John and Cerinthus, the Gnostic leader.  Others can correct me, if I too am remembering inaccurately.

Still, I’m glad the +Lillibridge is one of those selected to serve on that latest tactic of the ABoC to buy more time, the Windsor Continuation Group.  He is an admirable example of a godly, orthodox man of God.  But I think he is self-deceived about the possibility for reconciliation in this great war for the soul of Anglicanism.

Oil and water just don’t mix.  A house divided against itself simply cannot and will not stand.  Let’s all face it.  That is what we are dealing with in this crisis, nothing less.  This is the END of Anglicanism as we have known it, and deservedly so.

David Handy+
Fervent believer that this New Reformation is indeed, alas, “a tragic NECESSITY.”

February 27, 9:56 pm | [comment link]
9. corkbear wrote:

Mr. Hathaway asks,
  “What kind of witness do we make to the world when we reconcile ourselves to those who refuse the reconciliation of God by remaking it to their own liking so that Sin need not be denied?”
It seems there is no shortage of people, on both sides of this tired debate, “remaking” God’s reconciliation “to their own liking.”  It is precisely such theological arrogance that I believe the bishop, and others like him, are trying to counter with a witness to the church, and to the world, (as the bishop points out “the mission field is watching” - paragraph 93) of grace and humility.  What kind of witness, you ask.  A Christ-like witness, perhaps?

February 28, 6:43 pm | [comment link]
10. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “It seems there is no shortage of people, on both sides of this tired debate, “remaking” God’s reconciliation “to their own liking. It is precisely such theological arrogance . . . ””

Yeh, like those people who wish to “put God in a very small box” and make Christ the only savior, lord, and way of salvation—folks like Bishop Lillibridge for instance.  Oh that Bishop Lillibridge would not have such “theological arrogance”.

February 29, 12:47 am | [comment link]
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