Friday, August 08, 2008

Weekly AAC message from Bishop David Anderson

Via email, the weekly American Anglican Council message from Bishop David Anderson for August 8 [boldface mine]:

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

Lambeth is now over. Many of us are studying not only the documents of Lambeth, but the detailed analyses that are being produced by various sources, and then sitting back and saying, "OK, what is really going on, and how does this play out in the next year?"

Reports came in from Lambeth that a number of TEC revisionist bishops were spreading misinformation in their Indaba groups about the state of litigation in the United States. Their claim was that the orthodox churches and dioceses "were suing them," and the blame was really to be put on the orthodox. This is untrue, but it has been proven that if a lie is told often enough, people begin to believe there is something to it. Let us look at a few examples of lawsuits in the US.

In California, the bishop of Los Angeles is suing the orthodox churches, as is also the case in the diocese of San Diego. The Los Angeles orthodox churches won in the lower court and were reversed in a Court of Appeals, and the case is now before the California Supreme Court. The point to take away is that Bishop J. Jon Bruno initiated the lawsuit, demanding even the children's Sunday School crayons (no, I am not joking, you can read it in the public record), and for anyone, especially a California bishop, to assert that they were sued first is a deliberate untruth.

In Virginia, Bishop Peter Lee had worked out an arbitration procedure that would have allowed the churches and the diocese to negotiate an agreed-upon settlement and avoid litigation. The churches proceeded with their parish votes and the registration of the vote tallies with the local Court Houses, as per the 1867 Virginia law that applied to church splits. When the TEC Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori heard about it, she advised Bishop Lee that "there is a new sheriff in town." Lee was told that if he didn't sue the churches, TEC would sue him. Bishop Lee uncharacteristically buckled under the pressure, and without advance notice, launched the lawsuits. For him to say that the Virginia churches sued him would be a gross violation of the truth also.

Somewhere in the United States, a parish may have asked for a declaratory judgment to settle issues of property title, or may have, once they were sued, filed a counter suit in defense, but it has been the model of the orthodox churches not to use the courts to attack bishops, dioceses, or TEC. The very aggressive stance that TEC has taken was first formulated by leadership within the Presbyterian Church in the US, and it appears that TEC Chancellor David Booth Beers is following the Presbyterian game plan to a "P."

As I mentioned above, there are lengthy reviews of the Lambeth documents available, but as an extremely brief summary you must notice that those who prepared the Indaba Reflections Document prepared it as a "reflection," not as a "mind of the Conference." It was not intended for the document to be the primary outcome of the conference, but simply a narrative to track what people and groups were expressing. Finally, the Reflections were not to our knowledge voted on or formally adopted by the Conference, nor was the document intended to be a resolution that called for specific action.

However, the Archbishop of Canterbury took the document and re-characterized it according to his agenda for the future, with the implied endorsement of the entire Lambeth Conference - although it was only a small group's compilation of "reflections." If they didn't know what they were producing, Dr. Williams certainly knew what he wanted, and it did serve his purposes.

Dr. Williams would like us to believe that almost everyone wants the three moratoria on same-sex blessings, gays in the episcopate, and border crossings to be effected. No vote on this was actually taken, but on his word we are to believe this. Dr. Williams would also like us to believe that there is "a strong consensus on the need to examine how the Instruments of Communion will best work." Already voices in TEC are shrilly announcing that they have no intention of having any moratoria on anything, and some have suggested that the General Convention of TEC in the summer of 2009 will overturn any agreement to refrain from consecrations of gay bishops.

Another of Dr. Williams' points is that some sort of covenant is desirable, although the extent of its power will have to be determined. The breakdown will, of course, occur when we get to the specifics of the covenant's contents. Will it be adequate as a covenant to prevent prevarication, and will there be actual consequences for those that either break the covenant or don't sign it?

Dr. Williams believes that most favor a Pastoral Forum as something that would help the situation and he is looking for detail on how it will be formed. What is not discussed is his lack of resolve for actually incurring painful consequences. His abysmal performance with the Panel of Reference and the lack of funding available will be crucial factors. If he needs to ask TEC for money for this, you know in advance the outcome has been bought.

Dr. Williams is already $4 million US dollars in the hole for shortfall on the just-ended Lambeth Conference. He has reportedly asked Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori for permission to raise money from TEC in the United States to help cover the debt. Next year he proposes having the JSC and the ACC and the Primates all meeting in one year. Will there be a budget shortfall next year, too? If so, who would cover it?

Dr. Williams is a master at building things designed not to work, such as the Panel of Reference, and now, the Lambeth Conference. All of this is to keep us together while we listen to his encouragement, promises and announcement of another meeting in six or nine or twelve months. In much of the Anglican world, however, everyone is a bit wiser now, and we realize the cause for his procrastination is that he secretly agrees with the gay agenda and hopes that if he can avoid an actual split, in time we will all come along. It is, after all, happening in England, and why can't everyone be like the Church of England, which lets the secular government tell it what is moral and proper? The latest bizarre story is the Bishop of Exeter, the Rt. Rev. Michael Langrish, giving his blessing for a "gay wedding" between Canon Rodney Bomford and his gardener Paddy O'Neil. The marriage couple held a "stag and hen party" at a local pub and apparently the "bride" dressed up in a pink top hat and had a sash.

Letters that Dr. Williams wrote as recently as 2002, when he was appointed as Archbishop, reveal his real beliefs, and they help us to understand why he cannot and will not act to bring the Anglican Communion into good order and faith. His comments, which several British newspapers have now seen and reported on, refute the Anglican Communion's traditional teaching that homosexual behavior is sinful. He goes on to express his hope the the Anglican Communion will at some point change its position to be open to gay partnerships.

He is quoted as saying, "The Bible does not address the matter of appropriate behavior for those who are, for whatever reason, homosexual by instinct or nature." His reported academic brilliance may be as the "emperor's clothes;" this type of remark does such violence to the plain reading of scripture that it should disqualify any such speaker from any level of Holy Orders.

The concept that homosexuality is natural is fully unproven, but, like other types of propaganda, if repeated enough times, some will begin to believe it. For a moment, for the sake of argument, suppose that homosexuality is natural. It then joins many kinds of behavior that are "natural" but forbidden in the Kingdom of God. We are called to put aside the natural in order to put on the supernatural. Violence is very natural for human beings, yet we are called as Christians to turn aside from violence. An eye for an eye is natural, but forgiveness as God forgives us is the model we are called to. When scripture says that men are not to lie with men as with a woman, what part of that is not clear to Dr. Williams? It is an encompassing statement, permitting of no nuancing; it has no footnotes about only applying to heterosexual males who are doing something that they really don't want to do anyway. It uses inclusive language - men are not to do this. Other passages refer to women, lest they feel slighted by omission. Scripture is uncomfortably clear on most of the difficult things such as sex and money, so why is it that the "Primus inter Pares" of the Anglican Communion, who is reputed to be a brilliant scholar, cannot read, mark, learn and inwardly digest these scriptures? Hmm.

If you want to know where all of this is going, read what Rowan had written when he didn't know it would be in the London Times and the Telegraph. Then connect the dots. It does make me wonder if in fact a Queen's option still exists. This revelation about Dr. Williams tells us much about how his use of these post-Lambeth bodies will advance not only his stated agenda, but his now-more-visible underlying agenda.

Let us pray for the Anglican Church, that God's will (not anyone else's) be done. And let us pray for better times and for faithful leaders that the orthodox laity and clergy can truly trust, look up to, and follow.

Blessings and Peace in Jesus Christ,

The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.
President and CEO, American Anglican Council

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