Steve Banner: Conforming to the spirit of the age?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Jefferts] Schori is quoted as saying: "Our heritage and context shape our theology. The ways in which we understand Scripture and appropriate gospel response to social realities are shaped both by our roots and our current circumstances."

This is in direct contrast to the warning from William Connor Magee, who said to his assembled clergy in 1872: "Once let [the church] regard it as her main duty to 'conform herself to the spirit of the age' and the prophetic spirit will have died out of her. She will no longer 'cry aloud and spare not', she will no longer dare to speak the word of the Lord, 'whether men will hear or whether they will forbear.'"

Rather than addressing the theological issues that threaten to divide the church, the denomination has tried to maintain order through intimidation: filing lawsuits against parishes that would seek realignment; attempting to depose bishops who hold to the traditional views of the church; and issuing a series of strongly worded letters from Schori to bishops across the country.

It seems increasingly evident that the only sensible outcome should be the eventual creation of a second Anglican province within the United States comprising those parishes and dioceses that have chosen to "walk apart" from the Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop TEC ConflictsTEC Departing Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

Posted May 25, 2008 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. rugbyplayingpriest wrote:

Jesus said ‘the world will hate you -for it hated me first’ follows that if we mould the church to fit the agenda of the world something profound occurs. We stop preaching the counter cultural message of Christ. We swap sides and soon grow to hate the patriarchal Christianity of the Apostles…oops seems we are describing Schor!

May 26, 4:49 am | [comment link]
2. Dilbertnomore wrote:

The model the author embraces is generous and fair and is being soundly rejected by TEC on the basis of being offensive to TEC’s culture; i.e., its polity. The the author’s case is made, Q.E.D., that the new culture is TEC’s true theology. TEC is truly post-christian.

May 26, 6:39 am | [comment link]
3. Larry Morse wrote:

A separate Anglican entity! Wow! An epiphany! And how long have we been saying that this is necessary? So let’s get with it? Someone tell me, how do we start? Let’s move it.  Larry

May 26, 8:32 am | [comment link]
4. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

This fine article by the widely traveled Steve Banner stimulates several observations.  I’ll content myself with making them very briefly, in rapid-fire, bullet style.

Steve is absolutely right that the fundamental problem with Anglicanism today is our conformity to the spirit of the age.  We must relearn how essential is Paul’s familiar command: “STOP being conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Rom. 12:2).  This is not optional; it’s a command.

The famous Dean Stanley, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathledral in London at the start of the 20th century summed it up in a pithy, wry way:  “Those who marry the spirit of the age, will soon be left a widower.”  Ironically, Dean Stanley was rather liberal himself, with a heady belief in the inevitability of human progress such as many western leaders shared before WWI.  But on this Memorial Day, it’s good to remember that the War to End All Wars failed in fact to end war on earth.  Belief in the steady, inevitable progress of civilization was left shattered.

Steve Banner has a proud family heritage that includes orthodox Anglican bishops and archbishops who wouldn’t recognize the message being taught by the PB and her numerous liberal ilk as being Christian at all.  And they’d be right.  It isn’t.

But a SECOND or parallel Anglican jurisdiction in North America?  Well, yes, it does indeed unfortunately appear that this will be the virtually inevitable and predictable outcome of this long and bitter dispute.  “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Many of us, of course, had hoped not for a second Anglican province but for a REPLACEMENT province that would kick an unrepentant TEC out of Anglicanism altogether and totally delegitimate it.  Alas, it’s now abundantly clear that this just isn’t going to happen.  And that probably always was a forlorn hope, given ++Rowan Williams being in the key post of ABoC at the critical time, and that many, many international Anglican leaders just didn’t have the heart to exercise such drastic discipline.  Too bad.

Finally, our Anglican Achilles Heel of worldliness and a servile captivity to the powers that be in this world means that the New Reformation simply must overthrow the old Constantinain, Erastian model of church life and boldly venture into a scary new world as a courageously sectarian, Christ-AGAINST-culture post-Christendom type church that is comfortable and confident despite its new minority, powerless status. 

Will breaking church habits deeply entrenched after 1500 years be easy to break?  Of course, not.  And that’s largely why this fateful breakup will take place.  Many people and congregations will simply be incapable of making such a radical and revolutionary break with the past.  But it is absolutely essential that as many of us as possible learn from our contemporary brothers and sisters in the Global South, and from our ancient forbears in the faith from the distant pre-Constantinian era, how to stand AGAINST the world once again for the sake of the world and its salvation.

David Handy+

May 26, 9:35 am | [comment link]
5. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Larry (#3),

Your eagerness does bode well for you as a POTENTIAL member of the elite NRAFC.  I’m afraid I don’t extend offers of membership quite as readily as robroy (who is the President of the NRAFC by the way).

In answer to what I take is your rhetorical question, look to the CCP and to GAFCon.  They will be the ones leading the way into the New Anglicanism of the future.  The prospects of this revolutionary movement are still far from clear in many ways.  But remember, we already make up over half of the actual practicing Anglicans in the world.  And we are growing.  The heretical, disobedient, schismatic old Anglicanism is withering and dying.

Canterbury represents our glorious past.  But Abuja represents our even more glorious future.

David Handy+

May 26, 9:44 am | [comment link]
6. Jeffersonian wrote:

Someone needs to tell Mrs. Schori and her acolytes that Flip Wilson’s “Church of What’s Happening Now” was a joke, not a paradigm to be emulated.

May 26, 1:33 pm | [comment link]
7. GSP98 wrote:

“I am the LORD, I change not.”
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”
” ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ . Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached unto you.”
“Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”

There are but two things in this universe that are not subject to change or alteration: God & His word.

May 26, 4:22 pm | [comment link]
8. Larry Morse wrote:

David Handy, what’s the CCP stand for? LM

May 26, 8:49 pm | [comment link]
9. rob k wrote:

Banner doesn’t mention that Fort Worth diocese is largely Anglo-Catholic, which sets it at odds not only with TEC, but with a large part of the “reasserting” movement.  I should gather that he himself is not AC.

May 26, 9:04 pm | [comment link]
10. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Larry (#8),

The CCP is the Common Cause Partnership, i.e., the joint partnership being forged between the Anglican Communion Network, the Reformed Episcopal Church, and a variety of other conservative Anglican groups (including CANA, AMiA, the Ugandan and Kenyan church networks etc.).

Sorry, we do throw around an awful lot of acronyms around here.  It’s hard to keep them all straight.  The alphabet soup becomes increasingly hard to remember.

David Handy+

May 26, 9:11 pm | [comment link]
11. Larry Morse wrote:

The New Reformation can be seen is DH’s use of the word “against.”
This is a radical change for Anglicanism which has always been, until one feels a gray nausea, inclusive, multiple, flexible, adaptable; and because of this, we have the amusing old broadside of “The vicar of Bray.” (I even know the tune.) But it has become necessary to stand against the human world, for it is, as Wordsworth said, “too much with us soon and late.” We all feel this pressure; the human world, of its own free will, has turned us into creatures whose pace of life and whose values are established by machines - and I use the word machines in its broadest sense. We live as a computer driven culture
wants us to live, at its speed, loving what it loves, interchangeable as it is interchangeable, and, it is important to note, becoming outmoded as computers become outmoded. We either keep up or, like an old computer, we are discarded as not worth of repair. Is the human body outmoded? Replace the genes for a better one.
  I am aware that like all generalizations, there are particulars that contradict the tenor of the argument, and yet, The broad evidence remains: If you walk the streets of Beijing or Shanghai or New York, the dullest mind must conclude with Emerson that “things are in the saddle and ride mankind.” And again, we have seen over and over the justice of the old saying that a cripple on the right road will reach his destination sooner than a racer on the wrong.  So we must stand against, and out loud, to demand, “What is your destination?”  Read again Father Mapple’s sermon on that stormy Sunday before Ishmael leaves for the whaling grounds, Ahab and the Moby Dick.  Larry

May 26, 9:20 pm | [comment link]
12. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Wow, Larry.  You’re already talking like a veteran in the NRAFC.  Perhaps with a bit more literary sophistication than most of the rest of us, but that’s all to our benefit.  You’ve got the fire in the belly, and that’s what counts.  Keep it up, brother!

But do try to learn those acronyms along the way (grin).

David Handy+
So proud of my fan club

May 26, 9:33 pm | [comment link]
13. rob k wrote:

Larry M. - I don’t agree with a lot of what you have said about Anglicanism, but your words about the current human condition in your post above are beautifully put.  Thx.

May 27, 5:06 am | [comment link]
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