Tuesday, February 20, 2007

William McKeachie: Grace or Disgrace

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 2:38 pm

The rabbit may not be all white (in more senses than one!) but magic, or rather a last-minute miracle, seems to be what we have witnessed in the apparently successful hat trick performed in Tanzania. In the broad sweep of church history, seven months seems a tolerable time to await the fruits of the Spirit in order to be assured that what has taken place is indeed more than an illusion. Remember not the Alamo but the Reformation!

In the meantime, we are called not only to be patient but to assist the process. I know that many among the beleaguered orthodox in TEC have grown impatient with “dialogue” but we owe it to the Primates to honor the full counsel not only of the Gospel but of their own Gospel-inspired endeavor to make Windsor work. Perhaps that is why they have even allowed Bishop Jefferts Schori a grace period amongst themselves to show the true colors of her leadership.

It is, on the other hand, not propitious that the “spin” has already begun with the way in which “815″ seems to be interpreting the role of the proposed Primatial Vicar as accountable to the Presiding Bishop herself.

For this very reason, I do believe that the unprecedented, albeit provisional, restructuring of our church now underway gives us time (one more time!) to go deeper than Windsor, deeper than ecclesiology, and to make it our imperative to commend the full counsel of the Gospel to those who have strayed from it as much as those who have never heard it. Two postings last week (both on February 17) provide such an opening.

The author of “Unreasonable rift in Episcopal Church” sought to identify the unreasonableness as residing in the traditionalists’ “inability to accept homosexuality as a human condition, no more an affliction than left-handedness.” Similarly, John Scholasticus (in responding to my “Ersatz Anglicanism” posting) speaks for the TEC General Convention majority when he says “surely we’re all agreed … that homosexual orientation per se is morally neutral.” He calls it a “disgrace” on my part to argue otherwise.

These authors have thus helpfully pinpointed what’s at stake in the current debate in the Anglican Communion not just in terms of ecclesial issues but, underlying the symptoms of our dysfunction, more profoundly in terms of the great gulf between those who uphold a classical Anglican and biblical anthropology on the one hand, and, on the other, those for whom modern and post-modern social science trumps St. Paul (see Romans 7), Thomas Cranmer (see the Homily on Salvation), and C. S. Lewis (see “The Abolition of Man”).

As Fitz Allison demonstrated years ago (see “The Rise of Moralism” and “Guilt, Anger and God”) before the debate about sexuality overtook the church, classical Anglicans like Richard Hooker and John Donne were of one accord with both pre-Tridentine catholic theology and, equally, the magisterial Protestant Reformers in terms of moral theology as it pertains to the sinfulness of the human condition. Implicitly, there is no such thing as moral neutrality, let alone virtue, apart from Justification by Grace through Faith and the “imputation” of Christ’s righteousness. Homosexual orientation is but one particular and particularly poignant expression of the endemic character of original sin and alienation from God into which all of us, whatever our carnal appetites, are born (see articles IX and XIII of the Thirty Nine Articles as well as the 20th century Roman Catholic priest-psychiatrist Marc Oraison).

The very notion of homosexual “orientation” (”God made me this way”) as an individual’s morally neutral (at best, or worst?) identity is a 20th century invention incompatible with biblical anthropology. Adapting John Scholasticus’s phrase, I just don’t see how any Christian can argue otherwise. To do so implies that the need for Redemption is redundant.

Now that’s “disgrace”-ful!

–The Very Rev. William Mckeachie is Dean of the Cathedral of Saint Luke and Saint Paul in Charleston, South Carolina

From the Christian Science Monitor: After Anglican meeting, Episcopal Church on notice

February 20th, 2007 posted by kendall at 2:34 pm

Holding to goals of unity and reconciliation, the leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion have taken key steps that buy time for healing in the deeply divided global body.

But they also served notice on the Episcopal Church, Anglicanism’s US branch, that it must give convincing proof of an intent to abide by traditional practices with regard to homosexuality.

During their six-day gathering in Tanzania, the 38 leaders approved the first stage of an Anglican Covenant that will define the principles for membership and accountability. Once the covenant is widely considered and approved – a process that could take a few years – national churches would have to conform to remain within the community.

The Communion faces the most serious crisis in its history because of the Episcopal Church’s consecration of a gay bishop and allowance for blessing of same-sex unions, steps contrary to a Communion resolution on homosexuality. While acknowledging that the church had tried to repair the resulting breach, the leaders said the response was not enough to restore the lost trust.

Read it all.


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