By David W. Virtue DD
March 11, 2015
It has become apparent to me, after actively participating in The Episcopal Church for more than a quarter of a century and watching "progressive" Anglicans at work across the Communion, that the mission of progressive and revisionist Anglicans is that they must destroy orthodoxy in the Anglican Communion in order for their goal of global revisionism to thrive and triumph. It cannot be allowed to survive.
It is no longer a matter of why can't we all get along, because that is not possible. Revisionist bishops like Katharine Jeffers Schori (USA) and Fred Hiltz (Canada), enabled by bishops like the narcissistic Gene Robinson and bullying Michael Ingham, know that any and all orthodox expressions must be marginalized first and then run out of the church and ultimately destroyed. It is a total scorched earth policy that is slowly coming to a head in multi-million dollar property lawsuits. Nostrums of "shared conversations," "Indaba" talks, and "Transformation through Friendship" meetings -- the latter being the iron fist in the velvet glove approach to global south leaders -- are all smokescreens for an inevitable takeover of the Anglican Communion.
Revisionist Anglican leaders will dialogue with virtually anybody...Muslims, Buddhists, Shintoists, gays, lesbians, Palestinians, Jews (some but by no means all), liberal Catholics, liberal Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians (the latter three groups because of much needed alliances). The one group they will not tolerate, despite all the nice talk of "healing the world" and "reconciliation," are orthodox Anglican Christians.
They are the one thorn in the side preventing a complete takeover of the Anglican Communion.
We saw the hatred early on towards orthodox Episcopalians in the showdown between PB Jefferts Schori and then Bishop of Pittsburgh Robert Duncan. Jefferts Schori was so angered by Duncan's defection along with most of the diocese that she inhibited and deposed him, and then had a trial to toss him out.
By contrast, the Frank Griswold (PB) -- Chuck Murphy (AMiA) showdown was always at a distance. Griswold made his appeal directly to George Carey, the then ABC, to not receive the AMIA. He was successful. Jefferts Schori made it all up close and personal.
The property wars that followed Duncan's defection were deeply personal with Jefferts Schori. The Presiding Bishop let it slip at one point that she would sooner sell properties to saloon-keepers than to fellow Anglicans. In that one statement, the first detection of bitter hatred towards orthodoxy surfaced and has never gone away despite all the nice surface language of inclusion.
Over time, derision coupled with hatred reared its head. Her rip at personal salvation during a General Convention cemented her liberal revisionist credentials making her an enemy of evangelicals. Her belief that St. Paul had it wrong and the Demoniac girl had it right and that Paul should have listened to her in a sermon she preached, cemented orthodox Anglican opinion that she would not accept the authority or the teaching of God's anointed Apostle and however she chose to interpret scripture was now sine qua non acceptable.
She, of course, is not alone in her hatred of orthodox Episcopalians. Her disdain is shared by bishops like the sexually conflicted Bishop Barbara Harris and gay Bishop Tom Shaw (both from Massachusetts). Over time, the vast majority of the HOB quickly fell into line. I have never forgotten the fierce look of hatred Shaw gave me when he saw me at the last General Convention. Seconds later, he was all smiles as he approached a group of young people.
Despite all the talk of diversity and inclusivity, beneath the surface lay a deep well spring of bitterness and hatred toward orthodox Episcopal bishops, who, upon leaving the church, were told they were being deposed because they had abandoned the Church, the faith and their vows. It is a huge lie, of course. They are abandoning TEC, not the faith. Undaunted, she persists in the lie with every departing bishop. Hundreds of priests have also been accused and deposed because they could no longer tolerate the apostasies and heresies of TEC.
A minority group of Communion Partner (CP) bishops was formed. When nine of them signed an amicus briefin support of the Fort Worth appeal, she threatened them so badly that they were forced to rescind their statement, apologize profusely, and swear they would never do it again or face being deposed.
They were told that supporting Bishop Jack Iker of Ft. Worth was a violation of the Dennis Canon for falsely claiming that dioceses can leave The Episcopal Church, failing to safeguard church property, and recognizing deposed bishops.
They folded like a pack of cards. Today, the CP bishops have all but folded their tent. They have gone from 17 to six; they are as powerless as Christians in the hands of ISIS thugs. In the meantime, 17 Episcopal bishops have been inhibited and deposed, some joining the newly formed Anglican Church in North America, with one absconding to Rome and some into retirement.
Another example of hatred and marginalization came when it took two votes to get Mark Lawrence recognized as Bishop of South Carolina. Perhaps the most public vilification of a bishop-to-be was Dan Martins of Springfield who, when his name was proposed, got publicly excoriated by Bishop Jerry A. Lamb of San Joaquin who urged withholding consent for Martins. Would a group of orthodox bishops have dared to raise their voices at the appointment of an "open minded" liberal bishop on sexuality issues? It will never happen.
The hatred became more manifest when whole dioceses said they would no longer accept graduates from Ambridge-based evangelical Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry because of their orthodox views. Nashotah House, an Anglo-Catholic seminary, has fared somewhat better.
The louder the cries became from orthodox Episcopalians in TEC that its leaders had no theological clothes, the deeper the hatred became.
The in your face act of consecrating an openly homo-genital bishop in the person of Gene Robinson marked the exposure of The Episcopal Church of nice and why can't we all get along or the pretense that any middle ground could be sought. That single act began the avalanche out of TEC.
Dr. C. Kirk Hadaway, Officer, Congregational Researcher, in a recent study on church growth and decline, noted that the issue of ordaining gay or lesbian priests or bishops between 2005 and 2008 was the most frequently cited source of conflict, by far. Since 2008, however, lingering conflict over this issue has become less frequent and less salient for congregations, he noted. But the damage was done and was never reversed. Hatred for anyone opposing such ordinations was set in stone.
John Shelby Spong's personal hatred of all things orthodox and the people he named, coupled with Bishop Walter Righter's ludicrously loaded trial, festered in the HOB coming to full flower in the person of Katharine Jefferts Schori. Under her, more so than the morally weak Frank Griswold and his predecessor the pathetic Edmond Browning, open warfare ripened. That she was a woman made her invulnerable to attack from orthodox bishops. They feared charges of sexism and hatred towards women. She was in the driver's seat and knew it.
What Spong had started with the laying on of hands of a single AIDS-ridden homosexual priest reached its zenith in the consecration of Gene Robinson. Any hope of reconciliation between conflicting forces totally evaporated. Still and all, orthodox bishops kept drawing lines in the sand only to see them washed away by the next theological and ecclesiastical (resolution) tide. One wonders what the six remaining orthodox CP bishops will do when proposed changes to the marriage canon into gender-neutral language and the solemnization of same-sex marriages are passed this summer at General Convention.
Will they issue a minority report? Will they say the game is up and begin the process of moving their dioceses out of TEC? One thing for sure, those six dioceses will never again see an orthodox bishop follow them. Bishop Greg Brewer of Central Florida is the last. I am told that there is growing (but anecdotal) evidence that liberals are growing in that diocese and may well, in time, overtake evangelicals.
The realignment of North American Anglicanism is a now complete with the formation of the ACNA, which has resulted in a worldwide phenomenon with the formation of GAFCON and the AMiE.
One of the great debates is whether the Episcopal Church is following the mother church in ecclesiastical innovation or if it is the other way around. VOL believes that TEC is the trendsetter with the Church of England following close behind.
TEC was the first to ordain women priests (1974), the first to have women bishops (the CofE only recently ordained its first woman bishop), has openly embraced gay priests, passed rites for same sex blessings, and has consecrated a gay and lesbian bishop. The CofE lags in the latter categories but the push is on for the open acceptance of gay and lesbian priests (with their lodgers) in state recognized civil partnerships despite the church saying that marriage is between a man and a woman and sex is only permissible in the holy state of matrimony.
Archbishop Justin Welby's fudge on the whole gay issue, and now his refusal even to touch the subject (see the Trinity Wall Street interview), because he knows a number of gays and doesn't want to offend them, has left the Global South confused and apoplectic with declarations from GAFCON chairman and Kenyan Archbishop Eliud Wabukala that Western Anglicanism has lost its way by abandoning scripture as authoritative, thus widening the gap between Lambeth Palace and the Global South. African Anglicans no longer trust the Instruments of Unity and will have nothing to do with the Anglican Consultative Council. Those days are done.
Hatred towards orthodox Anglicans is now becoming more open in the Church of England.
Consider the following:
Recently, it was announced that former Archbishop George Carey's picture would be removed from the exterior of a London University because of his alleged "offensive" views on gay relationships.
Lord Carey, an alumnus of King's College London, currently adorns the windows of the Strand's campus building. Following a campaign by the university's LGBT Liberal Association society, the former religious leader won't be a feature for much longer because he was declared homophobic. I have known Carey for more than 15 years; we have bumped into each other on occasion, and I can say with absolute conviction that there is not one homophobic bone in his body. As an evangelical, he is committed to the Word of God and therefore must repudiate homosexual behavior, but that does not mean he hates homosexuals. He does not. It is a lie to say otherwise.
When his name was put forward to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Michael Nazir Ali, a thoroughly orthodox bishop, was excoriated by the press, accused of plagiarism, and much more. The liberal media sank him. For their sins, the Church of England and the Anglican Communion got Rowan Williams whose disastrous reign ended nine years early, which probably says everything. The Archbishop of the Anglican Communion's largest province Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh blasted him with language never before aimed at a reigning ABC.
A third example of hatred reared its ugly head when it was announced that Bishop N.T. Wright was leaving his post as Bishop of Durham and would be teaching at School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews. Gays lashed out at the appointment and demanded the university not hire him because they said Wright was homophobic. He got the job anyway.
The most recent example of marginalization and, possibly, the most revealing, was an exchange between David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury's reconciliation guru and Colin Coward of Changing Attitude, an Integrity clone in the CofE -- the unofficial voice of pansexual acceptance in the Church of England.
Porter publicly conceded that the Church of England could split over homosexuality with as much as 80% of the Church accepting non-celibate partnered homosexual relationships while the other 20% go their own way. The so-called "Shared Conversations" dialogue is a farce. Beneath the veneer of niceness is a basic hatred of orthodoxy. Coward, 65, is the Darth Vader of sodomy who married a black man half his age. He has one goal, the normalization of homosexuality; he will not rest until he has accomplished that. He does not care whom he hurts or what havoc he wrecks on the Church of England or what it costs to get there. His total identity is his sexuality, not the gospel and not the faith once for all delivered to the saints. He totally mirrors his American Episcopal pansexual counterparts.
As I write, we are seeing a microcosm of this hatred rearing its head in the Diocese of Southwark, a notoriously liberal diocese with a number or Reform vicars and parishes. It is still uncertain how the brewing battle will be resolved. Church Society leaders have issued The Southwark Declaration affirming basic Christian truths and calling upon the bishops there to affirm, live by, and teach these things in their diocese. We have seen this before in the Episcopal Church. If history is anything to go by, they will be listened to politely, but the bishop will do whatever he decides and nothing and no one will stop him and he will not side with Church Society. Such declarations sadly wind up on the rubbish heap of history.
Orthodox Anglicans will be marginalized and either forced out or made to feel so unwanted that they leave.
A recent announcement that an Anglican Mission in England parish had formed in the Diocese of Salisbury raised the eyebrows of Bishop Nicholas Holtam, but it also revealed the beginnings, perhaps, of a growing revolt in the Church of England.
Anglican columnist Julian Mann said this shows clearly that the GAFCON-supported movement now needs to consecrate its own bishops. If the GAFCON Primates were to consecrate two or three English Anglican ministers not currently licensed in any Church of England diocese (or in a position to hand in their licenses if they have them), the question of a conflict of interest in confessing Anglican church planting would no longer arise, he wrote.
AMiE describes itself as "a mission society that seeks to promote gospel growth in England by supporting Anglican churches and individuals, both within and outside present Church of England structures". It is a product of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA), which was established in 2008.
Whatever the outcome in the Church of England, it will involve some form of separation, if not necessarily open schism, bearing in mind church/state ties. England has a long history of tolerance that it is showing in the face of a militant Islam and equally militant secularism but increasingly not for orthodox Anglicans.
An interesting observation is made by Justyn Terry, President of Ambridge-based Trinity School for Ministry who recently wrote, "[the] Church of England remains in decline, the overall Church in England is growing. [A] report shows that messages from the media and elsewhere about church decline overlook the many examples of church growth. It reveals that much of this growth involves people from ethnic minorities...the most effective engine for this growth is church planting, and dioceses are being encouraged to develop church planting strategies."
Whether liberal led dioceses are capable of doing that remains to be seen, but if the growing hatred towards those of orthodox faith and morals continues, the Church of England's decline will continue.
The engine of hatred and cries of homophobia now evident in The Episcopal Church and the Church of England will eventually drive both churches out of business as growing statistics reveal. Despite this, God is doing a new thing and he will raise up new generations or as Jesus himself said, "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the very stones will cry out."