« Bush, troops, and the ICC | Main | Did you know -- UPDATED! »

June 24, 2004



There is much bitterness on both sides, and you are right that this should be amicable, and grounded in forgiveness. I don't see that happening, frankly. I'd like it to happen, but I don't think it will. ECUSA's fundamentalist approach to the Canons (and mushy approach to doctrine) make it very unlikely that conservatives will be able to go peacably. If the likes of '+' Bennison can't even organise alternative pastoral oversight, they won't let the conservatives leave, or at least not with the buildings that we have built. On the other hand, if the Eames Commission attempts to reign in ECUSA, it may be the liberals who leave. In that case, I think we'd be happy to let them go with property and pension. We who have been hit hardest by the Dennis Canon are unlikely to insist on it. But then, I could be wrong. We have much bitterness too-Comes of shouting at a brick wall for too long. It is a shame that the liberal bishops can't show a little restraint, but we have come to expect that. "Prophetic disobedience" seems to be the fashion. Oh, of course it's different when Evangelicals or Anglo-Catholics do it. We have narrow and bigoted consciences that don't have to be respected. Prophetic disobedience in Massachussets is a rebuke to a deaf church. In Virginia or Ohio, it's schismatic.



I am one of those who cannot rejoice in Rev. Susan's comments, and I want to particularly note two troubling portions of the quote you pointed in bold:

*"We have a chance to witness to our experience of a God who is about justice rather than judgment" could be taken to imply, "If you're on the other side of the fence, you believe in a God who's about judgment, not justice." Nothing could be further from the truth. And to set "justice" and "judgment" as antithetical to one another goes against the revelation of God given to us in the Scriptures, who is just and will judge us all.

*To say that Christians are to ask "not 'who do you love,' but 'DO you love?'" is an unfortunate generalization. As Christians, we are commanded in the Scriptures not to love certain things (e.g., the world, the flesh, and the devil, as in John's first epistle), and to grow in our love for God. We are to be concerned with who or what we love, and the task of discipleship involves teaching others to love God in accordance with the Scriptures. While I've clearly moved beyond the context that Rev. Susan was addressing, still the thought that Christians are not to be concerned with the object of someone's love is troubling.

Rev. Susan is an able, and, indeed, gracious communicator, and I respect her very much. But such comments do sadden me (even if the implications that I've drawn out weren't intended), for they reveal, to me, not just a chasm in what conservatives and progressives believe regarding blessings, but more fundamentally, on the issue of what constitutes the "old, old story."

Peace of Christ,


I appreciate both of your comments, Chip and John. Chip, I am certain that Susan would not advocate "loving the world" or "loving sin" -- in context, she is talking about commitment to another human being. We do have cause to be concerned with the object of our loves, but perhaps not with the gender.


Hugo, I'm certain you're right in terms of the context, and that's why I added the qualifiers that I did. The point that I was trying to make was a difficult one, and I didn't explain it very well. I may not do much better this time, but I'm going to give it a try.

I saw the comment about "God's inclusive love" and the statement that "we ... have ... a different vision of what the Christian life and faith are all about" as illuminating not only differences regarding blessings, but also differences concerning what progressives have termed the "inclusive gospel." This proves a far more serious cause of divisions within ECUSA than blessings per se. We use the same terminology (e.g., sin, salvation) much of the time, but what we mean when we use the terminology is often quite different. And it's those differences that have led Every Voice to push their Via Media project as an alternative to Alpha.

Again, I'm not saying that all of this was in Rev. Susan's mind; I'm sure that she was speaking to the far more limited context. But this concerns me: we might all agree on "telling the old, old story" and be able to add, "of Jesus and his love," but what we, with our divisions within ECUSA, meant by that phrase would be quite different. One writer for The Living Church summed it up this way: progressives focus on Christ's incarnation and love for everyone, while conservatives focus on Christ's atonement and call for repentance.

Now, personally, I don't think that the division can be made so neatly as The Living Church writer cut it. (Most of us, whether conservative or progressive, will claim both the incarnation and the atonement.) Still, there are considerably different views as to what constitutes the gospel, and they are more of the root cause of the conservative/progressive divide than anything that happened at General Convention 2003. And even our differences on one issue -- same-sex blessings -- are sympomatic of a "different vision of what the Christian life and faith are all about," as Rev. Susan said.

I don't know if I've cleared up anything, but I hope I have. Quite honestly, being an INFP myself, the language differences (i.e., using the same terms but having different meanings poured into them) are frustrating at times in that I like to look for what conservatives and progressives have in common and pinpoint exactly where we divide!

Peace of Christ,

Jay Vos

I am a gay Episcopalian, member of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Burlington, Vermont. Many of you may have read the recent news reports about the same-sex holy union liturgy offered by the Diocese of Vermont.

The full report from the Task Force on the Blessing of Persons Living in
Same-Gender Relationships is now available on the Diocese of Vermont site

A PDF file can be downloaded from the diocesan website,
The link is on the home page under the Task Force on the Blessing...


Thanks for the link, Jay.

I found Part IV, Theological Considerations, to be the best summary I've read yet.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Regular reads

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 01/2004