Thursday, April 12, 2007

more from father ephraim radner on the house of bishops' statement

Father Ephraim is on a roll. His (long) most recent reply to the House of Bishops' Statement is well (well, WELL) worth taking the time to read in full. Father Ephraim's analysis is absolutely devastating. I would love (love, LOVE) to read a liberal / ECUSA response to Father Ephraim here. He takes the bishops to task, point by point, and shows their statement to be, perhaps more than anything, incoherent -- but also filled with anachronism, theological error, historical inaccuracy, balled-faced animus, arrogance, and deception. Do read the whole thing. It is, in Father WB's opinion, the best and clearest piece on the ECUSA / Communion situation yet produced by anyone. Seriously.

[A minor quibble: Father Ephraim says that the House of Bishops' Statement is in fact, contrary to what has generally been said, unclear. I think that its clarity is in that it shows that the bishops are unwilling to reverse course, and therefore that it clearly reveals (1) the urgent necessity that provision be made for orthodox Anglicans in America, and (2) that the bishops will not cooperate with the Communion on the presenting issues. What is UNCLEAR is the American bishops (ir)rationale.]

Here are some excerpts (though there is much [much, MUCH] more in the document... do read it all!):

...either the matter of “full inclusion” (including to the episcopacy and same-sex unions and blessings) is a matter “indifferent”, and hence is open to compromise for the sake of the Communion; or the matter is one of essential doctrine and discipline, and therefore the bishops should simply confess openly their inability to tolerate and accept alternative views (including within the Communion).... What makes no sense is to claim there is “no going back” because of the essential evangelical issues at stake, yet also to proclaim a willingness to engage in open debate and possible new learning and readjustments of current discipline.

Re: the House of Bishops' discovery of a "generous Prayer Book orthodoxy" --

If the Prayer Book tradition has an “orthodoxy”, it is neither generous nor ungenerous, but sui generis, and that is what should be examined, not some myth of a pluralist commonwealth of religious questers that seems to lie behind the bishops’ vision.

Re: the House of Bishops' criticism of the primates in terms of the latter's supposed over-willingness to "break relationship" in a cultural climate where broken relationships are a big problem --

There is, in fact, something morally unsettling about the Statement’s attempt to appropriate the categories of fidelity, even of marital fidelity, in their argument against the Primates. Much like their attempt to co-opt the language of anti-colonialism, it is contradicted by the facts on the ground, some of them embodied personally by bishops themselves.

Finally, there is this:

With whom and under whom do we now fulfill our vows made before God? It is no longer possible to receive equally the claim made by the House of Bishops to be faithful to the apostolic trust, along with the claim by the “Church throughout the world” that this trust demands another set of actions and commitments. What then shall we do?

Our bishops have left us in a grievous and parlous position. It is true, as our bishops have said, that those who wish to “divide” the church are few. The concerns expressed above come from clergy, like myself, who have long labored to maintain the unity of TEC, internally and with the Communion. We do not wish what the bishops themselves, few in number though they be, are pressing upon us.

Let us who care for Christ’s embrace of Anglican Christianity in Communion redouble our prayers and our efforts to see that the will of Dar es Salaam unfold in God’s good time, and not be thwarted by another unilateral dictation of how the Communion ought to mirror the incoherent image of TEC. God help us. Much is at stake here. It is time to do all we can to assure that the Instruments of Communion be able to do their work unhindered. If TEC’s bishops do not wish to be a part of this, that is their decision. Let them have the courage of their convictions; but let us not quietly accept their invented Anglican Christianity that never existed anywhere before.

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