Report From the Belly of the Beast 2 [UPDATE]
Update [2006-2-11 0:2:48 by tikkun]:
Up and coming news
Unless a quiet deal is cut, there will be significant breaking news next week of improper use of Diocesan endowment funds in the Episcopal (Anglican) Diocese of Albany. I can't say much more than that right now. Just keep eyes peeled for breaking information.
John Dorhauer, in his diary, Anatomy of an Attack: Part I, began a conversation about churches under attack. In this diary, I continue the conversation.
I am a member of the Episcopal Church, one of the mainline churches under attack by the Institute for Religion and Democracy, frequently called the IRD.
Since we were birthed out of the Church of England, a brief look at our English history provides an important insight into our present situation and personality.
In the 16th century, from the reign of Henry the VIII through Mary, the Protestant Reformation exacted a bloody toll in England. The political, social and religious fabric of the nation was under enormous pressure. Early in the reign of Elizabeth I, a new direction was charted. Queen Elizabeth refused to take sides in the theological disputes and through acts of Parliament she directed that the unity of the Church of England would be based not on doctrinal conformity (as the Protestants demanded) or on magisterial authority (as the Catholics required), but on a common liturgical worship.
Now that theological broadness is being sorely tested by attempts to impose a religious orthodoxy completely foreign to our common Church of England culture by groups both inside and outside the church. The diocese of which I am currently a member has fallen under the leadership of a rogue bishop who is working diligently to take our diocese out of the Episcopal Church in American along with the money and property that are attached to it. He is one of those wishing to impose orthodoxy on Episcopalians. One way he is subverting the will of the Episcopal church is by changing the rules
for selecting a bishop. Another is by forcing the self sorting of candidates for bishop through the questioning process.
The following are some of the seventeen questions that candidates for Bishop Coadjutor for the Diocese of Albany must answer.
3. Using the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, find what you would consider the clearest expression of the doctrine of the Trinity and identify it. Does this coincide with your own personal belief and practice? (Use 500 words or less)
4. Are there any articles of the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds with which you are in anything but full personal and theological agreement? If so, which and why? In your response, please address the following questions: Was Jesus raised bodily from the dead, such that the tomb was empty of his physical being, and in his body he appeared unto his disciples until his Ascension into heaven? Do you believe Jesus was virginally conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary? Do you agree that the Persons of the Trinity are only the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and no other expression or naming may be substituted? For example, do you believe that a person baptized in the name of "Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier" is validly baptized? (Use 500 words or less)
6. Under what circumstances would you authorize the use of rites for or any practice of same-sex blessing, union, or marriage in this diocese or support such rites or practices anywhere in the Church? Under what circumstances would you permit or approve the ordination or licensing of a person who is sexually active outside the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman? (Use 500 words or less)
7. In John 14:6, Jesus stated, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (NIV) What is your understanding of this passage, and what does it say about Christianity's relationship with other world religions? (Use 500 words or less)
12. Detail your commitment to Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 Human Sexuality, Section 3, below and your sense of its call to the Diocese of Albany: "This Conference: 3. recognizes that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptized, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ." (Use 500 words or less)
17. Have you had the opportunity personally to lead someone to faith in Jesus Christ? Explain. (Use 500 words or less)
A candidate in Albany's last quest for a Bishop Suffragan reports that he was told, in writing, that this Diocese places a low priority on "social action and ecumenical outreach." Because those areas were central to the priest's ministry, he withdrew. A friend of his, a woman, did the same thing, for the same reason. I don't know quite what my role in the fight against this madness will be but I will be in the fight.