Ken Howard Chimes In

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A related and largely unreported phenomenon is the growing number of churches -- our own congregation being one of them -- who reject the old conservative vs. liberal storyline. These congregations consider themselves neither liberal nor conservative (though their individual members represent a wide spectrum of theological views). Recognizing that human understanding of the mind of Christ is imperfect at best they choose to make the love of Christ -- experienced in their common worship of the Living God -- the basis of Christian community, rather than agreement on a broad spectrum of doctrinal principles (unity, rather than uniformity). Not that doctrine is unimportant, only that it is secondary to the love of Christ, and that God is more than capable of sorting us out on these issues over the long haul. This emerging concept of Church is not limited to the Episcopal Church, but is springing up across almost all denominational boundaries. And these churches are growing.

I have friends -- brothers and sisters in Christ -- from across the theological continuum: conservative and liberal and all points in between. They all have a story to tell about the transforming love of Christ. They are all working in their own ways to bring about the reign of God. And as a previous seminary professor of mine once said, "I always agree with my friends." I just think is always better when we try to speak the truth to each other -- the whole truth -- and to do it with love.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Conflicts

35 Comments
Posted August 29, 2007 at 12:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. TonyinCNY wrote:

There are a number of problems with Howard’s essay.  Let’s start with the numbers game.  Howard is either lazy, misinformed or both.  He cites 45 parishes as having left pecusa when the number is higher than this as seen by visiting the various websites of CANA, AMIA and individual parishes.

Second, this insignificant number (as Howard suggests) includes some of the largest churches that were once part of pecusa.  If losing cardinal parishes and retaining marginal parishes is a sign of health, then Howard, Schori, and whoever else spouts this nonsense is correct.

Third, is this gem: “Recognizing that human understanding of the mind of Christ is imperfect at best they choose to make the love of Christ—experienced in their common worship of the Living God—the basis of Christian community, rather than agreement on a broad spectrum of doctrinal principles (unity, rather than uniformity).”

This is another sign of laziness.  If all we’re going to preach and believe is some sort of inoffensive pablum, then yes, Howard’s model works.  Clinging to this “we can’t really know” logic certainly can’t be demonstrated to be in anyway Christian by reference to Jesus or the Apostles.  On the other hand, if we are going to preach the gospel in its fullness there will be discomfort and divisions (“I don’t believe that).  Jesus said as much.

August 29, 12:56 pm | [comment link]
2. Rocks wrote:

Not that doctrine is unimportant, only that it is secondary to the love of Christ, and that God is more than capable of sorting us out on these issues over the long haul

Baptize ‘em! After that we’ll let God sort ‘em out!
Good strategy. smile

August 29, 1:03 pm | [comment link]
3. TonyinCNY wrote:

Addendum to #1: Holy Comforter has left the Diocese of Colorado.  It was the third largest parish in the diocese, but it’s only one church after all.

August 29, 1:11 pm | [comment link]
4. Nikolaus wrote:

I’m sorry Fr. Ken finds the struggle for Scriptural authority and the doctrine of the Church to be boring.  I’m a bit curious as to why he chose the ministry - so he can give folks a big hug when they are blue?  For myself, I’m tired of these cries for mediocrity.

August 29, 1:35 pm | [comment link]
5. chiprhys wrote:

It sounds a little too much like Chamberlien returning to England proclaiming ‘peace in our time’.  If you just ignore the all too real conflict everything is ok that is until you wake up one morning and discover war has broken out and whole countries are being swallowed up. 

De Nile/Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

August 29, 1:46 pm | [comment link]
6. John B. Chilton wrote:

Not so fast TonyinCNY. Look here, http://episcopalchurch.typepad.com/episcope/2007/06/more_us_episcop.html
The numbers are disputed and a link to the original article is given as well.

August 29, 2:08 pm | [comment link]
7. justinmartyr wrote:

Any of you have a gay family member or friend? I guarantee that your attitude (not necessarily your theology) would change somewhat. The ‘us’ vs ‘them’ attitude would give way to forbearance and longsuffering.

This is not about liberal vs conservative. It’s about obedience to Christ’s imperative to love your enemy, perhaps even your brother. I understand what the essayist is getting at, and so would you if you spent a little time with those Christ has called you to love.

August 29, 3:11 pm | [comment link]
8. Frances Scott wrote:

justinmartyr - I have nephew who is gay and partnered.  I love him dearly, but I do not approve of his life style.  I am 71 years old.  I have raised 4 children of my own and two not my own.  They have done a lot of really dumb, hurtful things, have made some terrible decisions, as have we all.  I will never stop loving them; this does not obligated me to approve what they do/have done.

August 29, 3:29 pm | [comment link]
9. TonyinCNY wrote:

Okay, John (#6), let’s examine this:  “They’re either splits off existing TEC congregations (which continue as TEC congregations), or new church plants, or “house churches” meeting in homes or hotels under lay leadership, or—in a great many cases—“continuing Anglican” congregations long outside Canterbury’s official fold and seeking a way back in.”

So, The Falls Church or Truro leaves, a few members stay and TFC and Truro are classified as “split offs.”  There’s that liberal logic again!  To my knowledge no continuing Anglican congregations are included in the AMIA or CANA numbers, but if they did come into the fold the problem is what?

August 29, 3:43 pm | [comment link]
10. libraryjim wrote:

Justin,
I have a sister-in-law who is lesbian and partnered.  Knowing her has not changed my theological stance one bit.  And she knows it, too.  Can I love her like a sister without approving of (and without accepting as ‘blessed’) her lifestyle? You bet.

My neice is living with a man without the sacrament of marriage. Does this change my theological stance on whether this, too, is sinful? Not a bit. Can I still love her as my neice without approving of (and without accepting as ‘blessed’) her lifestyle?  You bet.

So, your argument kind of fell apart, there, huh?

Peace
Jim Elliott <><

August 29, 4:31 pm | [comment link]
11. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Any of you have a gay family member or friend?”

Yes.  And they are not my enemies.

But how would my attitude change?

Also, when you say “and so would you if you spent a little time with those Christ has called you to love . . . ” since all of us on this thread spend “a little time with those Christ has called [us] to love” what is it that we are supposed to see that the “essayist is getting at”?

Really, a more self-righteous and assumptive question I have rarely seen.

August 29, 4:32 pm | [comment link]
12. justinmartyr wrote:

Frances Scott, it’s not a case of approval of homosexuality, as I tried to make clear in my post. We are so blinded by the actions of a militant few that we’ve lost sight of the log in our own eyes. We have incredible compassion for those who suffer from alcoholism,—and won’t even call people on pet sins such as gluttony. And yet, when it comes to homosexuality, we react very, very differently, with much hostility. I think this has a lot to do with fear on our part.

Theology and ecclesiology aside, the Bible calls us to love these people. Most of the people on this blog wouldn’t walk a yard in a gay person’s shoes, much less die for them. That means we’re as sinful as they are: we’re willfully ignoring Christ’s command to love our enemies. Forget for a moment KJS and Gene Robinson, and their grand political schemes. Let’s remember the gay person living next door, living a conflicted life neither you or I would ever want to have to experience.

August 29, 4:34 pm | [comment link]
13. libraryjim wrote:

By the way, who said it was an ‘us vs. them’ situation?  The ‘us vs. them’ is foisted upon the orthodox by the reappraisers who say “accept our view as Godly or suffer the consequences”.  This we will not do.  God calls us to ‘stand against the arrows of the enemy, and when we have done all we can do, continue to stand”. That is what we are doing.  That doesn’t mean we don’t love them in Christ, just that we cannot approve of what they are ‘proclaiming’ as ‘truth’ when it is not.

Peace
Jim Elliott <><

August 29, 4:34 pm | [comment link]
14. libraryjim wrote:

ahem, The “gay person” next door is not the one kicking us out of the church.  The ‘gay person’ next door is not inhibiting priests from their duties.  I think you are throwing out red herrings to detract us from the FACT that TEC is being torn asunder by the very political agenda driven actions of “KJS and Gene Robinson, and their grand political schemes”.

And by the way, at least the alcoholic has the guts to declare that his/her condition is not natural, even though it is beleived to have a ‘genetic origin’.  At least the alcoholic asks for help, and doesn’t sit around insisting that everyone else see how blessed he is in his alcoholic stupor.  Again, your comparison falls short.

August 29, 4:38 pm | [comment link]
15. justinmartyr wrote:

“By the way, who said it was an ‘us vs. them’ situation?  The ‘us vs. them’ is foisted upon the orthodox by the reappraisers who say “accept our view as Godly or suffer the consequences”. “

Jim, on this I agree with you. I also stand opposed to the schemes of the reappraisers. I don’t object to your theology or your ecclesiology.

But let’s not forget the essayist’s original point that the church is more than a set of creeds, canons and candles: it’s a mission hospital for the lost and hurting, and we mustn’t forget that most homosexuals fall into this category. The bile-spewing in response to the original essayist’s point was inexcusable and sinful. This is the log in our eye.

August 29, 4:52 pm | [comment link]
16. libraryjim wrote:

Being “More than” does not preclued the inclusion of the first part:

The Church IS “a set of creeds, canons and candles” (well, candles are clearly optional, unless the electricity is off)—perhaps, creeds, doctrines, and dogma?—as well as “a mission hospital for the lost and hurting”.  It’s when we declare the first part null and void (or at the least irrelevant) that we get into serious trouble.  The second part is important, too.  But for the church to be a hospital, she needs to act like a physician, which means diagnosis of sickness and prescribing treatment, which in some cases involves surgery and amputation.  Not just sugar pills.  And without the first part of the equation (creeds, canons, doctrine, etc.) we lose the standard by which God has given us to diagnose.

I would rephrase one of your statements to:
and we mustn’t forget that all homosexuals fall into this category.

and add: as do all sinners, which is to say, every one of us, as well.

Peace
Jim Elliott <><

August 29, 5:25 pm | [comment link]
17. libraryjim wrote:

oh:
The bile-spewing in response to the original essayist’s point was inexcusable and sinful. This is the log in our eye.

I agree. We can stand against the enemy without taunting him as the French knights did to Arthur in Monty Python.  We must temper our outbursts (speaking to myself here, too) and take care HOW we respond.

Pax
JE

August 29, 5:27 pm | [comment link]
18. Ed the Roman wrote:

There is a difference between loving my gay friends and relatives (yes, mine, too) and deciding on the basis of their existence that the Word of God and the teaching of the Church is not.

Which is what Mlles. Russell & Kaeton, Mssrs. Chane & Crew et al. are telling the Anglican Communion to do.

August 29, 5:39 pm | [comment link]
19. Larry Morse wrote:

Dear me, Jim. Can I love someone who cannot spell “niece?” Esp. LibraryJim. This is a HARD question that scripture does not answer.  L

August 29, 6:34 pm | [comment link]
20. Larry Morse wrote:

#15. LibJ is essentially correct. The church is a set of fundamental beliefs which become core doctrine. LJ used the crucial word standards, a word which the essayist has basically ignored. And we note for the umpteenth time that “love” to this essayist is that warm and fuzzy feeling sort of thing, and there is precious little of that in the gospels.In short, I doubt that the essayist has any idea of what that love is that he is gushing about.
  (Incidentally, said this heretic, does anyone know what it means to love your neighbor as yourself? I have very often wondered. Surely Christ cannot mean that self-centeredness, that egotism which is the stuff of self-love, for that egotism is clearly what he meant us to avoid. And yet, we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves? I have honestly never been able to make sense of this.)

August 29, 6:42 pm | [comment link]
21. Ross wrote:

#20 Larry Morse says:

Incidentally, said this heretic, does anyone know what it means to love your neighbor as yourself? I have very often wondered. Surely Christ cannot mean that self-centeredness, that egotism which is the stuff of self-love, for that egotism is clearly what he meant us to avoid. And yet, we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves? I have honestly never been able to make sense of this.

C. S. Lewis had a comment on this, somewhere… perhaps in Mere Christianity?

His approach was to ask, well, how do I love myself?  Do I feel particularly affectionate towards myself?  No, not really; which means I don’t necessarily have to feel affection for my neighbor—which is a relief.  Do I like myself?  Sure, more or less; but honestly I probably don’t think about it much.  So I shouldn’t worry too much about whether I like my neighbor; which again is a relief, because some of my neighbors aren’t actually all that likable.

On the other hand, I definitely want what’s best for myself.  Which means I should want for my neighbor what is best for them.  I tend to turn a blind eye towards my faults, and when I do confront them I’m also quick to think of all the mitigating circumstances that explain why, really, anyone would have done that.  Again, so should I be slow to see my neighbor’s faults, and when I do I should also think of mitigating factors.

The promise, Lewis adds, implicit in “love your neighbors as yourself,” is that if you truly do come to love your neighbors as you do yourself, then you will be permitted to love yourself as you love your neighbors.  In the end, grace granting, you will love all selves, yourself included.

August 29, 7:08 pm | [comment link]
22. Jennifer wrote:

Justin,
I once nearly quit a job over how a gay friend of mine was treated over a certain thing, and, no, it didn’t matter to me that he was gay. I do not, however, think the church should change her teachings on this subject and affirm these relationships in some kind of blessing ceremony. We don’t hate like you think we do.

August 29, 8:03 pm | [comment link]
23. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “But let’s not forget the essayist’s original point that the church is more than a set of creeds, canons and candles: it’s a mission hospital for the lost and hurting, and we mustn’t forget that most homosexuals fall into this category.”

No.

The “original point” of the essayist was the same old, same old point by progressives that “we can all just stay together and agree to disagree on these inessential matters”.  The essayist is incorrect.  How acknowledgement of the essayists incorrect thesis is “bile-spewing” I have no clue.

August 29, 8:40 pm | [comment link]
24. libraryjim wrote:

Larry,
I hope you are more forgiving of others in life than you are of spelling errors on a blog entry.  wink

August 29, 11:18 pm | [comment link]
25. justinmartyr wrote:

“I once nearly quit a job over how a gay friend of mine was treated over a certain thing, and, no, it didn’t matter to me that he was gay. I do not, however, think the church should change her teachings on this subject and affirm these relationships in some kind of blessing ceremony. We don’t hate like you think we do.”

Jennifer, I commend you for caring for your friend as Christ commands. I did not say that you hate anyone, and I’m sorry if that is how you perceived my words. Ironically, theologically I am a firm reasserter, not a theological liberal in this respects. I stand by God’s word contra mundum.

However there’s a glaring log in our collective eye, that of speaking about homosexuals the way we wouldn’t even speak of dogs. This is not the action of a father to a wayward child, and definitely not the way Christ taught us to act in the gospels. Your gay friend would not be brought closer to the convicting, caring presence of Christ by reading the comments in this thread (re-read them and see for yourself).

Once again, and for the last time, my point was not a call to change our theology, but to renew our charity. The vitriol with which this has been received leaves me saddened.

Grace and peace.

August 29, 11:48 pm | [comment link]
26. Larry Morse wrote:

#21: My, my, that was clear and straightforward. I must say that I was instructed (in the best sense of the word). Did Lewis really say that in Mere Christianity? Anyway, you have spoken well and I am wiser than I was before. I don’t agree with some of this, which I think merely clever, even facile, and yet, there is a sound core here which I must really consider.  I appreciate this answer, I really do. Larry

August 30, 8:03 am | [comment link]
27. Larry Morse wrote:

Jim: Ha ha ha ha Just pulllign yuor leg.  Larry

August 30, 8:05 am | [comment link]
28. Jennifer wrote:

Well, on more charity in comments and opinions we can certainly agree, Justin!!!

August 30, 8:15 am | [comment link]
29. Larry Morse wrote:

LJ, you have spoken particularly well and cogently in the subject at hand.

  See #25. The vitriol, the lack of charity and the like. Now see the report in today’s NYTimes about the priest in Illinois who spent his life there molesting boys and who was not called to answer for any of it. How often have we seen this? Shall we say, “Alas, this priest needed charity, we must walk a mile in his shoes to discern his condition?” Or did he need to be defrocked, tried, and thrown in prison?
Homosexuality has so many crimes to answer for in the RC church alone, and it does not do so and will not. Is this lack of charity on my part, am I not forgiving my brother 70 times 7? Then so be it. But Christianity ought not to be a formula for the exculpation of the criminal and the unpunished sin.
Larry

August 30, 8:16 am | [comment link]
30. Ed the Roman wrote:

Homosexuality has so many crimes to answer for…

Priests and bishops have crimes to answer for.  We aren’t in politics-space here, where you can talk about “Communism’s crimes” instead of the crimes of Communists.  Real criminals have souls.

August 30, 9:24 am | [comment link]
31. libraryjim wrote:

#27, Larry,
I know, thus the wink in the response. grin

August 30, 10:17 am | [comment link]
32. Larry Morse wrote:

#30. Beg pardon, but we ARE in politics space here as the blog entries and the responses show quite clearly. There is NO space that is free from politics, not in this world at least. Larry

August 30, 12:12 pm | [comment link]
33. Ed the Roman wrote:

Speak for yourself.  Once in while it would be nice to address persons rather than movements, IMHO.

August 30, 12:33 pm | [comment link]
34. NWOhio Anglican wrote:

Ed is absolutely correct. “Communism” and “homosexuality” don’t commit crimes. People do. Some of those people may justify their crimes by appealing to “communism” or “homosexuality.” But it’s still individual human souls who are lost or found.

August 30, 12:50 pm | [comment link]
35. libraryjim wrote:

Just had this sent to me:

Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.

grin

August 30, 8:10 pm | [comment link]
Registered members must log in to comment.




Next entry (above): James B. Twitchell: Luxury spending and the Voice of the American People

Previous entry (below): Living Church: San Joaquin Pushes Back Convention to December

Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)