Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Kiss of Death

Cap'n Bill here:

Argh, mateys. Me out here in the middle of the ocean and all, I get hungry for news from a far country, if you know what I mean. And much of what I get is bad, which makes me heart lower than a dead man's chest (and we ran out of rum, too boot). And the news that makes me grieve sorely is what I hear from me Augstana. What be they thinking? I heard they are going to release the Sexuality Study around Holy Week? Our faithful pastors are burdened enough, worked hard enough, and they have to prepare for Easter and outreach with this albatross around their necks.

"Thank you very much sir, can I have another!!! "

Argh. Out here we see the same for the Presbys and the Piscopals. The more the miserable.

In case you don't know how to keep up on our Anglican friends, Kendall Harmon is your best bet, as he is a Canon Theologian, a priest and a theolog. he strives to be fair and engage. Some people like VirtueOnline. For me, it be a little too breathless, if ye know what I mean. It has a lot of articles though from a lot of sources. Here is one that be a bit of a stinger:

A recent opinion piece, "Kissing the Leper" by The Rev. Tim Vivian, a leading light in the Remaining Episcopal movement in the Diocese of San Joaquin, appeared recently in a Bakersfield California newspaper. Vivian has been Bishop Schofield's antagonist for some time and, in this article, he articulates the unbridgeable chasm between orthodox and "progressive" Christians. The "conversation" is done and dead.VOL takes a hard look at what he says and responds.

OPINION: Kissing the Leper

VIVIAN: Last Friday, I sat with the lepers and outcasts. Inside St. Paul's Episcopal parish, delegates for diocesan convention were meeting, but we were outside because Bishop Schofield refused to allow us inside. Who were we? Members of Integrity, the national organization supporting gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church. Bishop Schofield not only refused us entrance to St. Paul's, he has refused to allow Integrity to meet in any parish in the diocese; he has forbidden the clergy of the diocese to celebrate Communion for the people of Integrity.

VOL: Bishop Schofield has every right to refuse people who misbehave sexually and who want to promote a behavior that has the potential to kill you from desecrating churches under his authority. Bishop Schofield is well within his ecclesiastical rights to deny a Cross Dressing or Adulterer's minority from using church premises along with those who want to practice syncretistic Hindu festivals in an Episcopal cathedral like the Bishop of Los Angeles J. Jon Bruno did recently.

VIVIAN: I wish this fear and hatred of gays by many Christians were an isolated event, a simple example of theological racism, but it isn't. Among some Christians, homophobia is just one symptom; others are fear of women, fear of sexuality, fear of the poor, fear of those not like us, and fear of change.

VOL: Stuff and nonsense. Bishop Schofield is not the slightest bit afraid of, nor is he remotely a hater of "gays", nor is he a "theological racist". He believes that the practice of sodomy is eternally damning to one's soul and he is answerable to Jesus "in that day" for his stewardship of the diocese. He is not answerable to Susan Russell, a lesbian priest or Tim Vivian, a thorn in the bishop's backside. Bishop Schofield is not remotely homophobic, has no fear of women (he told this reporter he planned to marry, but the Lord called him otherwise). He has no fear of women, fear of sexuality, fear of the poor (the diocese gives generously to the poor), nor does he fear change.The charge that because he does not believe in - women's ordination - makes for a "fear women or sex" is nonsense. That position, held by the vast majority of the church for nearly 2,000 years, is a well established theological position and has got nothing to do with women hating, or haters of sex.

VIVIAN: The reasons for these fears--and the hatred that often accompanies them--are complex, but they are bound together by, and find their common expression in, a profound misunderstanding and misuse of the Bible.

VOL: That "misunderstanding and misuse" of the Bible is an odd charge. It has been standard teaching for more than 2,000 years and only got downgraded to an F rating by a handful of post enlightenment pansexualists like Louie Crew and Gene Robinson over the last 40 years. Before then, Mr. Vivian's description of the Bible would have been laughed at from Cranmer to Calvin, from Luther to Wesley.

VIVIAN: With regard to homosexuality, the extreme conservative argument is simple: Homosexuality is evil, a sin, because the Bible says so. Such an argument reduces a complicated human subject to absolutes of good and evil, right or wrong. Those who make this argument conveniently--or blindly--ignore the fact that "the Bible" variously endorses polygamy, slavery, massacre, and the sequestration of women during their periods.

VOL: Homosexual behavior is a sin, whatever one's sexual attraction might be, it is a sin. Temptation is not a sin, either heterosexual or homosexual, but jumping into bed with someone who is not your legal spouse is. It is not the worst sin by far, but it is sin and the church is not going to change its mind because Mr. Vivian thinks it should. There is nothing particularly "complicated" about it. C. S. Lewis (a pretty complicated thinker) makes this point in "Mere Christianity" about sex. He says "either sex within marriage or celibacy." I would sooner believe Lewis (or St. Paul) rather than Vivian, since my soul depends on it.

VIVAN: Put more positively, the Bible is a human document (or collection of documents), a human witness to God's being, activity, and presence. As a human witness, it is a fallible one. Since the Bible is a human witness, those who wrote it--however inspired they were--were subject to social, political, ethnic, temporal and religious biases and prejudices, just as we are today.In ignoring all this, conservative Biblicists make a serious mistake; unfortunately, in their use of the Bible, they commit a worse one: false use is worse than false understanding. Biblicists mistakenly believe that the Bible is a book of dictates and rules, revealed by God. Once they have this infallible rule book in hand, like a Boy Scout with his handbook, they selectively decide which issues are most important. Usually for Biblicists, it is homosexuality or sexuality in general, abortion, and women's subordination. Biblicists are so obsessed with these issues that they usually ignore questions of social justice, poverty, homelessness, or war and peace.

VOL: Vivian makes two fundamental errors here. Scripture has a double authorship; it is God-breathed words working through man. Both are necessary. "Human authors" did not work apart from the Holy Ghost. Mr. Vivian thinks the Bible is little more than a story book and that we can add our story and change its fundamental theology. He is dead wrong.Secondly, Christians make serious distinctions between an unchanging Moral Order and the Ceremonial Order found in the Old Testament, especially Leviticus. Homosexuality and abortion are seriously proscribed by Scripture. Social justice issues have been more addressed by the Christian Church than any other human body on earth. Just ask Rick Warren, who travels around and notes that the church is often the ONLY single agency, in a location where government cannot be found, that is capable of changing a community. Furthermore, the largest humanitarian agencies in the world today are mostly Christian - World Vision International, Food for the Hungry (and Poor), the Salvation Army, et al are in the forefront on the war against poverty, homelessness and social justice. I have never found a humanist or atheist organization that comes remotely close to doing what they do. Mr. Vivian is talking arrant nonsense. Furthermore, no one liberated women more than Jesus, and while the church has had an up and down history on that issue, in the end women have more freedom in Christian cultures than Muslim ones. Mr. Vivian should spend a week in Saudi Arabia to see how women are treated. As far as women in the church are concerned, the fact that most denominations do not ordain them does not mean that women are in any way suppressed or oppressed. Mother Teresa never said she felt oppressed, and the church will remember her long after we have forgotten the names of many popes.

So, me mates can go here and read the whole thing. See clearly, mates, where the progressives go. They always, always denigrate the Scriptures. At the bottom it's what we have always said, this battle is not over sexuality, it's about the apostolic faith.

Me, I got to get back to the wheel, looks like a storm is blowing!

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