February 17, 2007

If anyone need further proof just how far from mainstream Christianity the Episcopal Church has drifted, one need only read an interview given to USA Today last week by its new Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. Now those who frequent this humble outpost of the blogsphere are probably well aware that I’ve been unimpressed by our new PB since her election at last summer’s General Convention, but I’d like to at least think I’ve been willing to give her at least some benefit of the doubt up to this point.

Well, after reading her latest comments, all I can say is, no mas.

Let’s just take a gander at some of the quotes the head of one of the worldwide Anglican Communion‘s churches made just days before leaving for this week’s Primate’s meeting being held in Del Alam Salaam, Tanzania:

…Yes [Schori says], sin “is pervasive, part of human nature,” but “it’s not the centerpiece of the Christian message. If we spend our time talking about sin and depravity, it is all we see in the world.”

Actually, Mrs. Schori, the concept of sin and sinfulness IS the centerpiece of the Christian message, for the greatest act of love ever known to humankind was our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s giving himself over to suffering and death for “the sins of the world”. Are you not aware of the following language in The Great Thanksgiving (BTW, this takes place during the Holy Eucharist, if you’re not sure):

“In your infinite love you made us for yourself, and, when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all. He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself, in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 362)

But I do understand your comment about sin and depravity – what a downer! I mean, you start laying that rap on people and next thing you know, you’re onto even more depressing concepts like contrition, repentence, and having to choose between serving two masters, right? Yuck! But seriously, Mrs. Schori, I think both you and your Church might find some benefit in focusing a little bit more on human sinfulness and the need for repentence, ’cause in my mind one of the biggest problems our society and culture faces today is its unwillingness to distinguish between right and wrong, and good and evil. There are differences, you know. Of course, that line of thinking would be abhorrent to those who worship at the altar of tolerance, acceptance, and diversity, as you do.

…[Schori] sees two strands of faith: One is “most concerned with atonement, that Jesus died for our sins and our most important task is to repent.” But the other is “the more gracious strand,” … It “is to talk about life, to claim the joy and the blessings for good that it offers, to look forward.

“Strands of faith”? This is nothing but clergy double-speak and complete, unadulterated bull$hit. I mean, heaven forbid if the Church’s traditional teachings and such, um, distasteful concepts as sin, atonement, and repentence should intrude on anyone’s shiny, happy pursuit of “claiming the joy” (whatever that means). A question, Mrs. Schori: whose joy, exactly, are we supposed to be claiming? Ours? God’s? And, at whose expense? David Virtue says it best, I think, when he characterizes this astonishing piece of nonsense as follows: “By dispensing with the reality of sin and the centrality of atonement, Mrs. Schori dispenses with the need for a bloodstained cross and a sin-bearing Christ, thus reducing Christianity to a “gracious strand” of social activism.” Indeed.

One other thought: Regarding Mrs. Schori’s desire to “talk about “life”. OK, let’s. I wonder (well, actually I don’t, I can guess for myself) what her view is on a woman’s right to choose? I’ll bet in her mind life really doesn’t begin until a woman, or a couple, says it’s convenient to them for it to begin. Ask her whether it is right to deny an innocent fetus its own birthright to “claim the joy and the blessings for good”, so that, it too, can “look forward”. My guess is, all you’ll get is a lot of hemming and hawing, with a few hubbada, hubbadas tossed in for good measure.

“God became human in order that we may become divine. That’s our task.”

Methinks, Mrs. Schori, you could benefit from taking a few seminary classes in basic Church theology, or perhaps consulting the Historical Documents of the Church found on p. 864 of the BCP. If you did, you’d understand that God did not “become human”; Jesus was both ‘fully human’ and ‘fully divine’ at the same time. And, basic New Testament theology tells us, we become “divine” not by any ‘task’ given us, but when we (as St. Peter wrote) become “partakers of the divine nature” by God’s “precious and very great promises”, which is salvation through Jesus Christ. But this can only come about, as Peter reminds us, “after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.” (2 Peter 1:4). In other words, by surrendering ourselves to God and not imposing our own wills, desires, and – dare I say – agendas upon Him as it suits our needs.

David Virtue has characterized Mrs. Schori’s message as a “false Gospel”, but reading her quotes (and there are more head-scratchers in the same article), it is hard not to come away with the sense that her’s is not false Gospel, but anti-Gospel. After all, if it is true (as the Church’s own Catechism teaches) that [my boldings]:

a) “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”, and:

b) “The ministry of a bishop is to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as apostle, chief priest, and pastor of a diocese; to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the whole Church; to proclaim the Word of God; to act in Christ’s name for the reconciliation of the world and the building up of the Church; and to ordain others to continue Christ’s ministry.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 855)

…then Mrs. Schori is preaching a far different Gospel than the one the Church – her Church – has historically and traditionally taught: the very same Gospel she, by the very nature of her office, has been charged with upholding. Why anyone desiring a closer relationship with God and His promise of salvation through the redeeming love and mercy of Jesus Christ would ever consider walking through the door of a church headed by someone with such un-Christian, squishy, and – frankly – loony beliefs is beyond me.

If Mrs. Schori’s quotes are accurate, and she truly believes what she is saying, one cannot help but ask in all seriousness whether there is a future for the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. as it is now constituted. Oh sure, there’s no doubt it will still continue to operate in some faltering way, like some drunk staggering home after a bender, but with neither a strong message to proclaim nor a strong messenger to proclaim it, there seems little doubt that the end of this once-venerable institution as a vital and vibrant force in American Protestantism is at hand.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:15 | Comments Off on Mrs. Schori’s Anti-Gospel
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