A Response from Southeast Florida to the Proposed Anglican Covenant

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican CovenantAnglican IdentityEpiscopal Church (TEC)

Posted July 1, 2007 at 8:52 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. TomRightmyer wrote:

Sic transit gloria mundi.  At one time orthodox Anglicans looked to southeast Florida for solid teaching and practice. The response to the Covenant proposal shows how far that diocese has been influenced by the actions of the majority at the recent General Conventions.

July 1, 9:49 am | [comment link]
2. Karen B. wrote:

Tom, honest question.  Since I’ve only been in the diocese of SE FL since late 1999 (and only lived there full-time for about 3 years before coming back overseas after my Mom died), I really don’t know its history.  Can you tell me when it was known for solid teaching?

Although I only met him once and never heard him preach, I wasn’t of the impression that +Frade’s predecessor, Calvin Schofield, was particularly evangelical or “reasserting.” 

When I first landed in the diocese there were two churches (in WPB and Miami) that had a reputation as being pretty “solid” but now may be less so following clergy turnover, it’s unclear to me.  There is also a FiFNA parish in Lantana that seems to keep to itself.  There are a few orthodox clergy floating around whom I have the privilege to know.  But it doesn’t seem to me that +Frade squandered some great orthodox heritage or took the diocese off-track. It seems that it has long been influenced by the forces that shape it today and that it has always been the most liberal of Florida’s dioceses.  But maybe I’m wrong.  I’d welcome further info.

July 1, 10:15 am | [comment link]
3. Karen B. wrote:

(the following is a comment I left on the VA covenant response thread two days ago when a fellow commenter posted the SE FL response as a link there)

I’ve only started skimming this, but two things struck me in just the first 2 pages:

1. I was quite surprised by the willingness to acknowledge the reality of the division:


On one level, the current crisis in the Anglican Communion seems to demand an Anglican Covenant if the Communion, as it currently is ordered, is to hold. On the other hand, the order of the Communion is in many ways only “apparent” and is, in any event, already ruptured.

For a diocese that has heretofore shown every evidence of having its head stuck in the sand, this is a pretty startling admission.  Clarity.  Even in SE Fl.  Whodda thunk it?!

2. Try taking the majority/minority language from its original usage re: the Communion as a whole (where majority = global south and minority = TEC et al), and reversing it to reflect ECUSA (where majority = reappraisers and minority = reasserters.) VERY revealing.  Like here:

Beyond this, an Anglican Covenant that is imposed by a determined majority at the expense of a concerned minority can only be viewed as a mechanism of coercion and oppression. This is especially true for a Covenant that contains mechanisms to effect this oppression.

  At present, it does not seem likely that a majority in the Communion is willing to honor the dissent of the sizable minority {that favors acceptance of gay and lesbian persons into the full life of the Church}. Therefore, for this minority, an Anglican Covenant would seem to be primarily a means of manipulation and control

substitute the following:
For “Anglican Covenant” try “Episcopal polity”
For “Communion” substitute ECUSA
ignore the phrase in curly braces or come up with an alternative…

Bingo.  How interesting that folks in SE FL can be so vehement in decrying coercion and oppression but turn a blind eye to it happening in ECUSA, you know, like at Exec Council a week ago when it tried to tell 4 dioceses what they could or couldn’t pass in terms of diocesan legislation.

Of course when your bishop is supporting RICO legislation against the said minority, well, one can understand the double standard.  Sigh.

Thanks for sharing this.

July 1, 10:26 am | [comment link]
4. Karen B. wrote:

Since I have some time and energy today, I’m going to post additional thoughts here as I now try and work my way through the rest of the document.  I apologize in advance.  This is likely to be very long!

I. Near the bottom of page two is written: Mutual respect by all churches of the Communion for these contexts and understandings is critical to developing a workable Covenant.

As written, I agree with that fully.  It’s just that I don’t think ECUSA means it or helps its cause or its plea in this regard by telling the primates who don’t ordain women to “get over it” (KJS, direct quote in AP interview with Rachel Zoll), or in opining regularly that the churches and leaders of the Global South are primitive.  All those statements by ECUSA deny the validity of other “contexts.”  It’s “accept and exalt OUR context.  Period.”

II. Also from page 2:
Among the special gifts and charisms that have historically marked Anglicanism are its broadness and longstanding ability to accept and manage differences and diversity

It seems to me that like the meteoric rise of the use of “polity” in ECUSA circles, the phrase “Anglican Charism” has suddenly become a buzzword.  (Must be in te 815 talking points, I’m guessing).  Can someone who knows Greek enlighten us:  aren’t charisms gifts of grace given by GOD through the Holy Spirit, not some distinctive or characteristic that develops out of historic circumstances?  I find the use of the word charism in this context very grating, and again with a sense of moral superiority: equating our understanding with God’s, akin to “the Holy Spirit is doing a new thing.”  Don’t get me wrong.  There is much I admire about the Anglican tradition of “broadness” and its ability to hold evangelical and catholic churchmanship together.  But all this talk of Anglican charisms within ECUSA sounds just like all the recent exaltation of ECUSA and democracy and American exceptionalism we’ve seen from the HoB and others.

III.  From page 3, I find this exceedingly CHILLING:

Different parts of the Communion have strong disagreements about the “essentials of the faith” and about “core doctrines.” It will not be productive to pretend these differences are not genuine by using phrases such as “the historic faith we confess.” The use of these phrases allows some in the Communion to argue that “the historic faith” means only their understandings and positions.

Am I reading this correctly?!  In context it seems a clear denial that there is any such thing as the historic faith, that there is ONE faith once delivered, that there is one “foundation of the apostles and prophets” on which we are to build. The use of scare quotes re: essentials of the faith and core doctrines is telling.  It suggests to me that to many the Creeds now no longer represent historical truth, but that due to the likes of +Spong, Borg, Crossan, et al, they have become understood as personal spiritualized “truth.”

It seems very 1984ish to me.  We can rewrite history.  There IS no history.  Only what we say it is, what we understand it to be.

It’s odd.  On the surface SE FL is arguing against individual interpretations of the “historic faith,” but their very objection to the use of the term seems to suggest they are in fact doing just that,  that they don’t believe that it can mean something self-evident and clearly defined. 

IV. And towards the bottom of page 3, I am deeply grieved to read:

“Our faith embodies a coherent testimony to what we have received from God’s Word and the Church’s long-standing witness.” To what are the authors of this statement referring? Are they making this statement about the Church’s historic position with respect to homosexuality?

Given how often we reasserters get charged with “making everything all about sex” this statement is shocking.  If anyone wants evidence of some party making it “all about sex” it is here.  This whole document from SE FL is infused with the language of justice for GLBTs.  They have been reading the draft covenant through the lens of the homosexual issue.  How interesting that Canada has just determined that the homosexual issue is not “creedal”  (I have some complaints about that… but I won’t go into those here.)  But here it seems that many of my fellow Episcopalians in SE Florida want to make the homosexual issue a creedal one.  They don’t seem to be able to consider the creeds and the issue of what we believe apart from and without constantly inserting the homosexual issue.  Tragic.  Utterly utterly depressing.

And so utterly ludicrous to me, that I went back to the covenant draft to see the original context of the phrase SE FL quotes.  Here is the full paragraph.

Our faith embodies a coherent testimony to what we have received from God’s Word and the Church’s long-standing witness; our life together reflects the blessings of God in growing our Communion into a truly global body; and the mission we pursue aims at serving the great promises of God in Christ that embrace the world and its peoples, carried out in shared responsibility and stewardship of resources, and in interdependence among ourselves and with the wider Church.

page 4.  From here

And in the face of that lofty calling of who and what we are to be as the church as the people of God, all SE Fl can seem to think about is homosexuality?!?!?!?  And they ask, “to what are the authors referring?”  I have never seen anything more clearly represent that we are two different churches, two different faiths.  And it grieves me to no end to write this here.  I’m sure many will read it as a judgmental statement.  But it does not seem that those who were responsible for this document recognize and understand the Gospel and God’s call to mission.  Blinded eyes and hardened hearts seem to be the reality.

I need to stop here.  I don’t think there’s anything else to say.  At least not for now.

July 1, 11:22 am | [comment link]
5. robroy wrote:

Karen, it is ironic that the TEc decries oppression of the minority while actively practicing against orthodox.

Interesting that there was an essay by Paul Valliere which basically endorsed the covenant or at least embraced covenant/conciliar thinking on the official website. I wonder if Valliere’s essay signals a switch from 815 that will tell the dioceses that they will need to “think differently” for a season, i.e., till after September. Or will the dioceses continue to keep lining up against the covenant?

July 1, 11:30 am | [comment link]
6. Karen B. wrote:

As much as I really wanted to stop this exercise, I sense I shouldn’t.  That I should finish it and then send my thoughts to my bishop, my rector, and various friends throughout SE Florida.  I need to take a stand on this.  So, on I go.

V. Still on page 3:
The Episcopal Church believes that its core value of “inclusiveness” is a central means by which it “offers God’s love in responding to the needs of the world.”

Question: Is there a statement of ECUSA core values?  Is inclusiveness really one of them OFFICIALLY, or just perceived to be?  If the latter, it once again seems to demonstrate that much of what we reasserters have been saying for years is true.  ECUSA is making up a new gospel, new values, new doctrines.  Inclusiveness (except of “dissenters”, the “intolerant,” “non-inclusive”) has become all in all.

VI. From page 4: To paraphrase St. Augustine, without justice, there can be no real unity of the Communion.

Any Augustine scholars out there who can tell us what the Saint really said?  I doubt it is what my fellow Episcopalians in SE Florida think he said.

VII.  The whole concern in this response of justice justice justice again seems to emphasize that we have two different gospels:  A gospel of social justice, and a gospel of salvation by grace through faith.

The hammering on the issue of justice prompted me to do a word count in the SE FL document (very easy in Adobe) on some of the words and phrases that seemed overused to me: 
justice = 11
context = 18
gay and lesbian = 9

And by contrast:
Christ = 4
Jesus = 2
gospel = 6 (5 times quoting the covenant draft)
grace = 5 (3 times quoting the covenant draft)


Even more telling:  By contrast, the Covenant Draft (which is 5 pages shorter)
gospel = 7
grace = 3
Christ = 19
Jesus = 6
justice = 0
context = 3
any of gay, lesbian, homosexual etc. = 0

One other word count comparison is VERY VERY interesting:  “faith” and its derivatives (eg faithful).
—In the original covenant report and draft: 23 (21 are “faith”)
—In the SE FL response: 36 (of which 16 are for “faithful”)

But the usage is very different.  The covenant uses faith 21 times, generally in statements defining and affirming the historic faith we uphold.

The SE FL response quotes those sections of the covenant repeatedly in DISAGREEMENT, as I’ve noted above in its harsh criticism of the phrase “the historic faith.” The SE FL document also seems to be obsessed later on with the use of the word “faithful” (16 references out of the 36). There seems to be an attempt in the SE FL document to demand recognition that ECUSA, and in particular those promoting the homosexual agenda within ECUSA are “faithful.”  But the question hangs in the air:  If ECUSA denies there is truly a historic once-revealed faith, what is ECUSA faithful TO?

July 1, 12:09 pm | [comment link]
7. Karen B. wrote:

By the way, my questions in comment #6 are real, not rhetorical. 

On the ECUSA website, I could find no obvious statement of core values (even doing an advanced search).  And so I wonder what prompts SE Fl to make that statement.  I’m assuming it is pure perception, this is what they believe ECUSA’s core values to be, what our leaders have proclaimed.  Certainly telling on its own.  But,  if there is some official statement of core values, I’d love to know about it.
And I would love to know where they’re getting this Augustine “quote” and see its fuller context (oh no, I used that word! wink )

July 1, 12:22 pm | [comment link]
8. Karen B. wrote:

And on we go:

VIII: page 4: [the draft] emphasizes that it is “the faith” which is “uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures.” Is there an accepted definition within the Communion regarding the content of “the faith”?

That would appear to be THE question at issue, the whole reason we NEED a covenant.  Sigh.  I would reply, yes, there HAS been an accepted definition for 2000 years.  Ephesians 4 proclaims:

4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

My compatriots in SE FL who wrote this seem to challenge that notion that it is possible to have ONE faith with all their insistence on “contexts.”  And yet, how interesting to note that the Ephesians’ assertion is in the context of, wait for it:  UNITY!

4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

True unity seems to depend upon the assertion of ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism.  Unity in the Truth.  The covenant draft seems to do just that.  But the SE FL authors’ seem to call that assertion into question at every opportunity, as in here at the bottom of this same section on p. 4.
Item (2) also fails to acknowledge that the context in which each church in the Communion arose and exists also affects the way persons in these churches approach and interpret Holy Scripture. This, in turn, has an impact on their understanding of the content of “the faith” as revealed in Scripture.

There you have it.  Context determines content.  All truth is relative.

oops. got to go.  Local friend just came by, and in a little while I have a Bible Study to lead.  Back later, I hope.  I still have more to say! wink

July 1, 12:51 pm | [comment link]
9. Larry Morse wrote:

Inclusiveness is in odd doctrine, if it can be called a doctrine.Why does no one challenge it?  Why does no one challenge the artbitrary denotation which is now assigned it. The word is much like “multiculturalism” which seems to have no denotation but rather a set of assigned connotations which are spoken about as if they were denotions. They are treated as if they are virtues, by which I mean, postures which are correct in all contexts. But I would suggest that in fact they are minor adaptations to local circumstance, adaptations that have been co-opted by agendas.

Why is inclusiveness good, why is it necessary, is it an absolute or a conditional? TEC avoids all such discussions, but then, so does the rest of the US, which accepts this jargon as dogma. And yet this is logically inevitable, that if inclusiveness is an absolute good, then there can be no element called a “belief,” since a belief at all times implies a set of exclusions. One cannot say, “I believe in one God” because this implies that you refuse to accept the proposition that there can be more than one God - and one’s inclusiveness fails. In short, if you are truely inclusive, you cannot say you believe in anything. Can it be that TEC will actually reach this point?  Larry

July 1, 1:09 pm | [comment link]
10. Gone Back to Africa wrote:

As a former Diocese of SE Fl member (by the grace of God, now moved to Rwanda) I am in pain.

This response is by the Executive Board. I am in tears when I read that Fr. Winston Wright, a person I grew up with spiritually in Jamaica, did lay studies with, rejoiced in God with when he went to Seminary, (even went to high school with his wife), would be a part of this group. I can only say “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?”

“Moreover the “truthfulness” of several of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion is debatable (e.g….XX…)

This article speaks about the “Authority of the Church”. “The Church hath power to decree Rites and Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith…” This really is the nub of the matter. If the Diocese of SE Fl (and TEC) has doubts about the authority of the Church to ordain/not ordain, decree/not decree, enforce/not enforce, then, IMHO, in this debate we are really just talking past each other - there are fundamentally conflicting positions. Though I am in Rwanda under +Thad, “as the hart pants for the waterbrooks” so my heart longs for the day when we can all stand together in one holy, catholic, and apostolic church, with bishops/priests teaching sound doctrine.

I feel like a man whose wife has run off with someone else, but still longs for her to come home.

July 1, 1:44 pm | [comment link]
11. Sherri wrote:

All those statements by ECUSA deny the validity of other “contexts.” It’s “accept and exalt OUR context.  Period.”

Karen, thanks for your analysis of this - if there is more to come, I hope to read it.

July 1, 2:38 pm | [comment link]
12. Gone Back to Africa wrote:

“While this document was almost entirely the work of two members of the Executive Board, Chip Stokes+ and Tom O’Brien, it was approved with no discussion by all but three members of the Board”

Peeps+, not a ‘blower of cover’, but it seems like you were close to the action. Nuh?

July 1, 3:39 pm | [comment link]
13. Mike Bertaut wrote:

Do you think I came to give peace on earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division.  For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. (Luke 12:51-52; ESV)

Perhaps a small refresher course is in order for my “Unity above all” friends in Jesus’ sayings.  Where do you suppose it is, that we get this expectation that unity is a given?  Or in some way the highest form of human expression? 
Methinks many are listening to the very wrong voices.

July 1, 4:00 pm | [comment link]
14. Faithful and Committed wrote:

# 6 observes The hammering on the issue of justice prompted me to do a word count in the SE FL document (very easy in Adobe) on some of the words and phrases that seemed overused to me:
Your word count, finding the great number of references to justice does not seem to take into account the syntax of the phrases in which the word justice was used.  The first three instances refer to a biblically based justice, a biblical imperative.  The next couple are summed with a reference to justice in conjunction to unity with reference to St. Augustine.

July 1, 6:37 pm | [comment link]
15. Karen B. wrote:

Faithful and Committed,

I do believe that the Bible has much to teach us about justice, and that it is the Lord’s command that we be concerned for justice.  I actually live that out day to day by being involved in ministry to widows, orphans, abandoned wives, and the poor and marginalized.

But I also believe that our ability to actually fulfill the Lord’s command in terms of justice and care for the poor depends on our being in right relationship with the Father through Christ.  How else can we be ministers of reconciliation and agents of redemption if we have not been redeemed and reconciled?

And what good is it to minister merely to people’s temporal needs but not offer them eternal life through Christ by preaching the message of salvation?

Justice is important.  But I don’t see that it should have a central place in an Anglican Covenant.  Perhaps to paraphrase our friends in the Anglican Church of Canada.  Justice is a not a “Core Doctrine in the sense of being Creedal!” (Hmmm.. that could become a very useful phrase after all, as much as I initially disliked it!)  The covenant is about creeds.  From our creeds flow our actions, what our faith should look like in the world.  Justice is part of that.

But now back to my exegesis of the rest of the SE FL response, though I think I will be much briefer than before!

July 1, 8:33 pm | [comment link]
16. Karen B. wrote:

IX.  Picking up from the top of page 5.  We’ve got some breath-taking arrogance:

The statement “led by the Holy Spirit, it [i.e. each member Church, and the Communion] has borne witness to Christian truth in its historic formularies, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons,” is factually untrue and inappropriate for a Communion-wide Covenant.

Wow.  Just who are these people to say this is factually untrue?  Sorry but I need to turn on the sarcasm tags for a second. [sarcasm on]I guess ECUSA now feels it owns the trademark to “led by the Holy Spirit,” i.e. ECUSA is the sole arbiter of what is or isn’t of the Holy Spirit.  Only they know when the Holy Spirit is doing a new thing. Yikes.[sarcasm off]  Forgive the sarcasm, but that’s surely how this reads to me.

I think it is actually instructive to note the knee-jerk reaction here.  What are my fellow SE Floridians objecting to so vehemently?  Here’s the clue in the next paragraph:  they [the 39 articles] were never authoritative for the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States.  Now this is partially in response to the question about whether or not the 39 articles *should* be seen as authoritative.  Fair enough.  This diocese answers a loud no.  But they aren’t satisfied with merely saying that they don’t recognize their authority.  They also have to debunk any TRUTH CLAIM of the articles:

Moreover, the “truthfulness” of several of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion is debatable (e.g. Articles VII, XIII, XVII, XVIII, XX, XXIX, and XXXIII). The validity of several of the Articles has been a subject of debate and doubt in The Episcopal Church since its inception.

Again, more shocking arrogance.  These folks in SE Florida are the experts and arbiters of the truth of the 39 articles?  What are their credentials?  It seems that the articles threaten them.  If they are TRUE, they would defacto be authoritative.  Therefore they must deny the truthfulness.

[One commenter above has already noted what Article XX says.  I don’t have the time tonight to look up the articles that my fellow Floridians so strongly object to.  I’m sure it would be an illuminating task.  Maybe someone else wants to chime in on that subject?] 

X. In this same section, the arrogance continues unabated, but there is also a hugely ironic statement:
Asserting that the member Churches were “led by the Spirit” in developing flawed or false Articles of Religion is a serious problem that reflects a significant theological chasm between the drafters of the Draft Covenant and The Episcopal Church…. and it should be deleted in full.

Oh really?  What if I were to turn the tables on you my friends:

Asserting that ECUSA was “led by the Spirit” in its flawed actions at General Convention 2003,  is a serious problem that reflects a significant theological chasm between The Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion... and [these actions] should be [revoked] in full.

A example of Sauce, Goose, Gander.  I believe.

XI. on page 6.  This is of interest
An Anglican Covenant should state without equivocation that members in good standing of all signing churches are in full communion with one another and that all members of those
signing churches are welcome to Eucharistic communion in other member churches.

How fascinating.  They want to legislate “being in Communion.”  Signing a paper will be enough to signify full communion.  This is a total denial of “actions have consequences” and is instead a fallback to “but VGR’s election was canonically correct” type of thinking.  All that matters are the law and the papers, not the relationships. (And certainly not any SCRIPTURAL criteria for who should be eligible to receive Communion.  No heaven forbid.  That would be judgmental!  Sorry. more sarcasm.)


XII.  Bottom of page 6.  Gotta laugh at this one.
As Episcopalians, we have good reason to suspect the capacity of the Primates to be fair adjudicators of these issues because they each come from their own particular cultural contexts and many of them have made individual and collective public statements concerning these matters.

Right.  We’ve had 6 pages of exalting local context and INSISTING that it be considered in how “the faith” is defined.  Contexts are important.  We MUST respect them, etc. etc.  Except when they’re bad and the fact of different contexts means people don’t agree with us.  Heads I win.  Tails you lose.

Sorry.  I don’t really want to play that game friends.  But seriously, are they truly this blind to their hypocrisy, or do they just assume the rest of us are blind to it?

July 1, 9:10 pm | [comment link]
17. Karen B. wrote:

XIII: Ok.  Now we get quite a change of pace!  After 6 1/2 pages of negativity and, (sorry no other word for it) whining, we now get a positive statement of affirmation on page 7.  There’s something in the covenant that SE FL actually likes!

Section 4 presents an excellent vision for the Communion that might easily be agreed to by all member churches. There could, in fact, be great benefit in proposing Section 4,
with slight modifications, to be the substance of the entire Anglican Covenant.

Strong words.  So of course we need to look at Section 4!

4 The Life We Share with Others: Our Anglican Vocation

(Jeremiah 31.31-34, Ezekiel. 36.22-28, Matthew 28.16-20, John 17.20-24, 2 Corinthians 8-9, Ephesians 2:11-3:21, James 1.22-27)

We affirm that Communion is a gift of God: that His people from east and west, north and south, may together declare his glory and be a sign of God’s Kingdom. We gratefully acknowledge God’s gracious providence extended to us down the ages, our origins in the undivided Church, the rich history of the Church in the British Isles shaped particularly by the Reformation, and our growth into a global communion through the various mission initiatives.

As the Communion continues to develop into a worldwide family of interdependent churches, we also face challenges and opportunities for mission at local, regional, and international levels. We cherish our faith and mission heritage as offering us unique opportunities for mission collaboration, for discovery of the life of the whole gospel and for reconciliation and shared mission with the Church throughout the world.

The member Churches acknowledge that their common mission is a mission shared with other churches and traditions not party to this covenant. It is with all the saints that we will comprehend the fuller dimensions of Christ’s redemptive and immeasurable love.

We commit ourselves to answering God’s call to share in his healing and reconciling mission for our blessed but broken and hurting world, and, with mutual accountability, to share our God-given spiritual and material resources in this task.

In this mission, which is the Mission of Christ, we commit ourselves
1. to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God
2. to teach, baptize and nurture new believers;
3. to respond to human need by loving service;
4. to seek to transform unjust structures of society; and
5. to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain and renew the life of the earth.

Ah, it’s not surprising to find reappraisers in ECUSA liking this section.
Lots of warm fuzzy language and focus on mission.  All the language about creedal beliefs and specific commitments to uphold THE aposotolic and catholic faith are excluded.  ECUSA wants this section in isolation.  Because theirs is a gospel of justice.  It’s all about mission, stupid.  Right? 

Mission is wonderful.  I’m a missionary.  I believe in missions passionately.  But where I differ with ECUSA reappraisers is that too many reappraisers want to promote mission without message.  SE FL is doing it here.  Let’s just get to what we do.  Who cares about what we believe.  But beliefs shape actions.  We cannot have a common mission without common beliefs.  Sorry.

ECUSA has tried this ploy before.  Following the ACC meetings in June 2005, there were a series of attempts at diocesan and I think a national level in ECUSA to promote the IASCOME “COVENANT FOR COMMUNION IN MISSION” document as a substitute for any Covenant that would actually represent a confessional statement about our beliefs.  I haven’t fully re-read the IASCOME document tonight.  But if memory serves, it is quite similar to the Section 4 of the Covenant Draft that SE FL reappraisers are so enthusiastic about.

A few background links on old T19 about the IASCOME document and ECUSA’s love of it:

July 1, 10:00 pm | [comment link]
18. Mike Bertaut wrote:

Karen B.  Just FYI, I think you are doing an awesome job, please keep it up!
And yes, I’m not at all surprised that our reappraiser friends found solace in Section 4.  They could have written it themselves, in fact.  Seems I’ve read most of this before…at some time or another.

July 1, 10:07 pm | [comment link]
19. Karen B. wrote:

XIV:  page 8, in talking about the Covenant’s section on the instruments of unity, SE FL writes:

We fear, however, that the phrase amounts to an attempt to codify, institutionalize, and give approval to the recent attempts of the Primates’ Meeting to arrogate power to itself and to exercise a conciliar authority that is unprecedented in the Communion’s history.

There’s been a fair bit of discussion on T19 lately about the matter of the authority of the Primates.  Just a reminder that the Primates haven’t done anything in isolation.  The proposal re: increased primatial authority has been at least a 20 year process of discussion and debate, going back to Lambeth 1988 and has involved Lambeth, the ACC, and the ABoC.  So, the Primates haven’t arrogated this power to themselves.  The rest of the Communion has asked it of them.

XV. page 9.  More seriously major irony and either blindness or hypocrisy:
There is no current provision in the Covenant for “checks and balances” in such a scheme and there is no mechanism for protecting the rights and dignity of oppressed faithful minorities within the church from the excesses of an overly-zealous faithful majority.
The lack of checks and balances and the absence of mechanisms to protect faithful dissenting minorities both lend themselves to serious potential for the abuse of power and authority.

Um right.  If you’re so big on checks & balances and protecting faithful minorities, why did you so enthusiastically support the House of Bishops in shooting down the Pastoral Vicar plan?  Eh.  Checks and balances and protection are meant to work both ways.  SE FL is all too right about the potential for abuse of power.  We reasserters are experiencing it daily now.  Oh, I guess we’re not “faithful” and don’t deserve protection?  Who determines faithfulness?  That is the question ECUSA doesn’t and can’t answer because it keeps trying to throw out the sections that define the faith and set up some boundaries as to faithful actions.  (I.E. Sections 2 & 3 of the covenant draft which SE FL reappraisers would rather just get rid of)

Note of course the calls on page 9 for “Constitution and Canons.”  Gee, that’s sure helped preserve our unity and bonds of affection in ECUSA.  Not. 

Ah, maybe I should have done a word search on canons too! Here we go:
SE FL response:  8 references
Covenant Draft: 2 references

XVI. Page 10:  I guess this group from SE FL really doesn’t like a lot of what Paul wrote:

Indeed, the suggestion that there is a “common mind” for 38 churches around the world is not realistic either as a description or as a goal.

Having a common mind is a pretty important theme of many of the epistles:

Romans 15:1-6
15:1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 1:10
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

Phil 1:27
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

Phil 2:1-5
2:1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

How interesting that here in Phil 2, participation in the Spirit is linked to being of one mind.  And yet reappraisers say this is not a realistic goal.  Not something they want to strive towards I guess.  It might cost something.  Might require sacrifice of their own interests.  Can’t have that, can we?!

XVII: As to the bottom of page 10 and SE FL’s response to this question:  (12) What do you think are the consequences of signing such a Covenant as proposed in the Draft?

I’m not going to go there.  I don’t think I have anything non-sarcastic to say about this section, except perhaps to note the anti-Catholic language that creeps in (the curia and prelates references that we’ve heard so often of late.)

XVIII:  One phrase on page 11 strikes me as very important to note:

informal communion of people of good will united by love and affection

This seems to be the reappraisers’ vision of what the Communion (and I think the Church) should be.  They claim it the nature of the Communion as it exists currently, and in their totally negative response to the Covenant (with the exception of warm fuzzy Section 4 on mission) seem to declare it is all they want and hope for in the Communion.  They don’t want to pay the price of anything more specific.  So how are we distinct from the Rotary Club, or the United Nations?  And if they know of anyway to ensure good will or true love apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, let some of the rest of us know, eh?  I’d like to find a way to be kind and loving without all this nasty business of confession, repentance, refining…

Compare this to the vision laid out in the draft of the Covenant: (p 4)

This Communion provides us with a special charism and identity among the many followers and servants of Jesus. Recognizing the wonder, beauty and challenge of maintaining communion in this family of churches, and the need for mutual commitment and discipline as a witness to God’s promise in a world and time of instability, conflict, and fragmentation, we covenant together as churches of this Anglican Communion to be faithful to God’s promises through the historic faith we confess, the way we live together and the focus of our mission.
Our faith embodies a coherent testimony to what we have received from God’s Word and the Church’s long-standing witness; our life together reflects the blessings of God in growing our Communion into a truly global body; and the mission we pursue aims at serving the great promises of God in Christ that embrace the world and its peoples, carried out in shared responsibility and stewardship of resources, and in interdependence among ourselves and with the wider Church.

I’ll opt for option 2, thank you.


FINALLY, (and I thank any who have read this far and have indulged me in this exercise), let me just note, I’m glad to see the clear assigning of responsibility and the individual names on this document.

I’ll be keeping the 3 dissenters MUCH in prayer by name.  I thank God for their willingness to go on record against this and to take a stand in a hard place.  May the Lord increase their number and may their witness bear fruit.  I pray that many parishoners and friends will note their dissent and ask them to explain and these 3 will be given many opportunities to share their concerns, but more importantly, “the reason for the hope that is in them” to any in the diocese who may not have that same hope in Christ personally.


July 1, 10:50 pm | [comment link]
20. Karen B. wrote:

Thanks Mike B.  Appreciate the encouragement.  I needed to do this.  I hope I haven’t taken too many liberties in inflicting it on others and so monopolizing the thread.  I hope it will be helpful to others.

I’ve got to call it a night.  But it really would be excellent if someone would look up and comment on the specific Articles of Religion that this group of reappraisers so objects to.  It was illuminating to read Gone Back to Africa’s comment in #10 about Article XX and the issue of authority.

July 1, 10:58 pm | [comment link]
21. Bill Cool wrote:

Thank you for your careful walk through their flawed arguments.

July 1, 11:13 pm | [comment link]
22. Mike Bertaut wrote:

Ok, here we go, let’s take a look at the “debatable” or “in doubt” of the 39 articles:

Moreover, the “truthfulness” of several of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion is debatable (e.g. Articles VII, XIII, XVII, XVIII, XX, XXIX, and XXXIII). The validity of several of the Articles has been a subject of debate and doubt in The Episcopal Church since its inception.

Ok, here we go:

VII. Of the Old Testament.
The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.

Well, of course they had to dispense with this one soonest.  If they cannot free us from the 10 Commandments, then the rest of the Law would still apply.  Forget the fact that the entire OT is the preperatory period for the NT.  Too inconvenient.

July 2, 4:36 am | [comment link]
23. Mike Bertaut wrote:

Moving on to 13.

XIII. Of Works before Justification.
Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ; neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.

Well, this fits in perfectly.  If you cannot make a theology of doing good for the sake of the good itself (As opposed to being in obedience to the Savior) then you certainly cannot put UN MDG’s on a pillar alone.  So there goes the Reformation out the window.

July 2, 4:39 am | [comment link]
24. Mike Bertaut wrote:

Ok, 17.

XVII. Of Predestination and Election.
Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God’s purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.

Wow!  Don’t you have to essentially throw out almost all of John’s gospel to take out election?  And this does fit the pattern of denying God’s divinity and existence above and beyond mankind, for if he does not see all of man’s history laid out before Him all at once, then certainly He is not God.  You guys let me know if you’re noticing a pattern here yourselves…

July 2, 4:42 am | [comment link]
25. Mike Bertaut wrote:

I’ll skip 20 and go straight to 29.

XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord’s Supper.
The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.

I’m going to abstain from commenting on this one, as personally, I believe in the saving and redeeming power of that heavenly bread and have never felt it’s denial should be used as a punishment to any baptized soul.  My perspective has always been if Jesus thought that last meal was important enough to share with Judas, then the Church overstepped it’s bounds by witholding it from those not in agreement.  I realize I’m in the minority on this one.  But I do understand why it was held out by SEF, goes to inclusiveness, don’t you think?

July 2, 4:45 am | [comment link]
26. Mike Bertaut wrote:

Finally, the last “debatable” Article, 33.

XXXIII. Of excommunicate Persons, how they are to be avoided.
That person which by open denunciation of the Church is rightly cut off from the unity of the Church, and excommunicated, ought to be taken of the whole multitude of the faithful, as an Heathen and Publican, until he be openly reconciled by penance, and received into the Church by a Judge that hath authority thereunto.

  I think we can all see why they have a problem with this one.  The gospel of inclusiveness would certainly preclude complying with #33.
Please everyone share your thoughts on these particular articles.  I feel woefully unqualified to do so.

July 2, 4:48 am | [comment link]
27. Larry Morse wrote:

It is almmos impossible o assess this document accurately because there are so many “weasel” words. That is, TEC has created a jargon of specialized meanings which, taken together, make a whole language, and yet, such words remain arbitrary. We have all seen this with “tolerant” and “inclusive,” and the like.

  The reason, of course, is that moving behind and informing this document is what we now call and agenda, a set of dogmas which often have little to do with religion in any of its usual senses. In the case at hand, we are looking at the coercive force a purely social agenda has on religious doctrine and practice. Because of this, the document has a specious quality that cannot be attacked directly.
  Its subject is, whatever else it says, the acceptance of homosexuality on TEC’s terms, and these terms are unyielding and inflexible. TEC downplays the importance on this matter, yet it is at the core of all the debate. What shall we do about homosexuality? This vital question reminds me of the question before the council of Elrond in The Lord of the Rings: What shall we do with this least of rings that the Dark Lord wants? Larry

July 2, 5:33 am | [comment link]
28. Karen B. wrote:

Mike B., thanks for taking the time to dig up each of the Articles.  Very sad to see what heritage and truth is being rejected.

Peeps+  You rock. Thanks for your faithfulness and engagement.

I find it sad to see there’s such a rejection of any form of discipline and boundaries by so many reappraisers within ECUSA (as evidenced here by the Articles that are rejected by SE FL as “untrue”)  I have come to treasure the truth of Hebrews 12:  God disciplines those He loves.  If we are outside God’s will for us, it is a GOOD THING to be rebuked and corrected (even if it means shame and suffering on some level for a short time) so that we may once again enjoy unimpaired fellowship with the Father.  I’m so thankful the Lord has loved me enough to time and time again provide a means of discipline so that I might not wander astray from Him and lose the joy of His presence.

July 2, 1:54 pm | [comment link]
29. Larry Morse wrote:

Good job Peeps. Highest marks. Larry

July 2, 4:46 pm | [comment link]
30. Mike Bertaut wrote:

Peeps+ thank you for standing up for all of us.  Perhaps you can open up for us the psyche of those who are so fervently behind this document.  I try to imagine, but I’m having trouble getting into their head, if you know what I mean.

July 2, 6:11 pm | [comment link]
31. Gone Back to Africa wrote:

#33 Fr. Peeps you have my greatest respect.

“So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself…And the number of them that lapped, were three hundred men…By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you” (Judges 7: 5-7)

Thank God you are among those who “lappeth”

July 2, 8:47 pm | [comment link]
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