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Religion in America
US Episcopalians Get Yellow Card from World Anglican Body
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  • Andrew Allison

    I’m probably going to get into trouble for this, but it occurs to me that the Episcopalians may have been moving toward more liberal positions in an effort to remain relevant rather than as a matter of conscience. If indeed it’s the latter, then they should have left the Anglican Communion, with which their views are clearly incompatible. I write as a lapsed Anglican who is sympathetic to the Episcopalian position, but the differences are clearly irreconcilable and a divorce rather than a trial separation is in order.

  • ronetc

    A bit of cognitive dissonance?: “The Episcopal Church will survive” vs. “The Episcopal Church has been shrinking and looks likely to keep on shrinking . . . .” At some point, things that keep on shrinking disappear.

  • jeburke

    I support same sex marriage as a civil and legal matter, and I recognize that churches to which I do not belong don’t care what I think. However, IMO, a Christian church blessing such a union seems preposterous, if not blasphemous. Search as you may, you will find no support for it in the Gospels. The Episcopal church in America has been shrinking into irrelevancy for 50 years or more, as it pursues every liberal political cause.

  • gabrielsyme

    Scripture, Tradition and Reason – pshaw! Episcopalians look to a higher Authority – the Harvard Faculty Lounge.

    • Fat_Man

      Higher than that, the New York Times Editorial Board.

  • Diws

    And a lot of the American conservatives who have left will not be coming back. I will admit to a bit of schadenfreude at the prospect of the liberals becoming exiles from their own church just as the conservatives before them.

  • Pete

    Look at what the embrace of the perverts is doing to the U.S. Episcopal Church. Serves it right.

  • dogged

    Since the swinging 60s , liberal
    Protestant denominations like the Episcopal Church marketed themselves as prophetic sounding boards for
    the leftist policies of the Democrat Party. Nuclear disarmaments & freezes,
    women’s “reproductive health” issues, racial & ethnic quotas, race
    card-mania, a zealous LGBT advocacy, open borders, redistribution
    of wealth —-You name it and they were out there painting a pious veneer onto
    some very thorny secular movements. Jesus morphed into
    some sort of barefoot Marxist hawking “social justice”. But the
    membership of liberal Protestant bodies is in a stampede—right out the door.
    Bad karma perhaps?

    • Angel Martin

      the Anglican/Episcopal church has alway had a huge range of views. The late Robin Williams, an Episcopalian himself, had a joke that went:

      “One of the advantages of being an Episcopalian is that no matter what you believe, there is at bound to be at least one other person who agrees with you.”

      • Jim__L

        Is this sort of openmindedness good for the church?

        No, probably not.

        Either parishioners (and pastors) believe that Scripture has something to offer, or they don’t. If they don’t, eventually they’re going to ask themselves “Is there any point to my being here?”

        People who do believe Scripture has something to offer, however, will notice that Scripture has a very definite take on homosexuality than differs from today’s cultural fads. They’ll probably also notice that millennia of Tradition, and Reason (in the form of basic reproductive biology) also make valid distinctions.

        Stop looking for the “good in both sides” of seemingly irreconcilable human arguments, and start looking for the good in seemingly irreconcilable aspects of God’s Word. God gave us both the Law and the Gospel, and both are expressions of His love and purpose for us. We need to be both attentive to how we treat others as these controversies go on, as well as where the right side of these controversies clearly is.

        • Andrew Allison

          Well, it might be good for a church, but it certainly isn’t good for THE church. The question is the propriety of being part of an association (the Anglican Communion) the rules (beliefs) of which you don’t accept. Personally, I don’t have a problem with (non-abusive) homosexuality, civil marriages between homosexuals or women priests, but the sacrament of marriage within the Anglican Communion doesn’t permit the former. Simply put, if you want to conduct homosexual marriages, you don’t belong in the club.
          Parenthetically, homosexuality has been around longer than Christianity (and pederasty by Christian priests for as long as there have been churches) without any apparent effect on reproduction, but in the mainstream Christian religions, homosexuality is regarded as a sin and marriage as a sacrament between a man and a woman. Accept it or leave.

          • Jim__L

            The general expectation that marriages and families are focused on producing children (without anything from outside the core couple) has a very real effect on reproduction. It’s one of the least punitive ways of reinforcing the norm of having children with the aim towards a society that is stable, generation to generation.

            There’s a huge push nowadays to “make room for” outliers — outliers that have been treated in a very punitive way in the past. My take on this is, we should drop much of the punitive approach to outliers, but maintain the core rules as they have been.

            What is criminally ironic is watching former outliers push mainstream thought into outlier status, and then treating it with extreme punitive measures — putting people in jail for following their conscience, depriving them of their livelihoods for the same, etc.

            It doesn’t address the core problem that norm enforcement has been too punitive. In fact, it makes it worse.

          • Andrew Allison

            Well yes, but irrelevant to my arguments that the Episcopalians don’t belong in the Anglican Communion and that humanity has lived with (and reproduced alarmingly) with homosexuality since day one.

          • Jim__L

            Relevant — considering homosexual relationships to be equivalent to heterosexual relationships has to my knowledge NEVER been part of Western Civilization.

            Those relationships happened, but they were often considered a “phase” that youth would outgrow, or a tie that coexisted with a real man/woman marriage, specifically for the purposes of children.

            This attempt to alter the basic definition of family is unprecedented.

          • Andrew Allison

            We are in violent agreement as to the sanctity of both sacramental marriage and family. But this too has nothing to do with the topic which (this is a recording) is whether the Episcopalians belong in the Anglican Communion. Where we disagree is that I think that civil unions between homosexuals are OK. Unprecedented, yes; but so is much else about society today. But let’s not pretend that, for example, pederasty on the part of priests is a “phase”.

    • tedshepherd

      If I were still a Christian, I’d probably feel it necessary to become a Marxist or at least a very poor man myself. Matthew 19:21 “Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ ” I am responding to your comment “Jesus morphed into some sort of barefoot Marxist”. It didn’t take much morphing.

      • Jim__L

        That quote is taken out of context.

        Every individual is given strengths, every individual is given weaknesses, and sometimes the results of the strengths can lead one to be prone to particular weaknesses. There is nothing inherently wrong with maintaining stewardship of what you’ve earned by your strengths, unless it leads you into vanity. (If it leads to vanity, that just means stewardship is not a strength.)

        I would agree with you to some extent though — there is an inherent collectivist thread in Christianity, though it’s far more at an individual level than any Marxist (except the rare and possibly nonexistent “withered State” Marxist) has ever managed.

        • tedshepherd

          Well, my good-natured friend, let me repeat the favor of agreeing in part and saying so. One of my ancestral sects, the Presbyterians, support doctrine, the “Protestant Work Ethic”, that runs like this: A man may occupy himself doing something honorable. That is something that other people find useful and for which they pay him. If he then lives modestly without ostentation, takes care of his family, and puts by something for emergencies or old age, and shows some voluntary support of the poor, then his prosperity is a sign of Godliness even if his way of life makes him wealthy. I could be that kind of Christian and, with some exceptions, I am already though an unbeliever.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Thoughtful ninth paragraph.

  • Gentry

    No matter what anyone says the Bible and the koran both teach against homosexuality no matter what you call it. By the way very few of them are gay and many are angry and mean.

  • gvanderleun

    As someone born Episcopalian and who, because of his elderly mother, still attends services once in awhile, and has watched the descent of this church carefully…. this church is dead. D.E.A.D.

  • WigWag

    Hasn’t the term “Anglican Communion” become a misnomer, Professor Mead? Isn’t the Church of England an anachronism?

    According to the Guardian newspaper, weekly attendance at Church of England services has fallen to an all time low. Less than a million British subjects fill the pews each week.

    The number of English Muslims is far smaller than the number of nominal Anglicans, but Mosque attendance is significantly higher than church attendance.

    How long will it be before the British monarch is required to be a believing a Muslim instead of the head of a national church?

  • Angel Martin

    “God may ultimately be less interested in how people line up on the theological battleground than on how they work, in an atmosphere of contention and conflict, to follow the way of the Cross with an honest conscience and an open heart.”

    This line of thinking is why the Episcopal Church (and the Anglican Church of Canada) have got into the positions that they are now in.

    The point of being a Christian is to follow Christ. All we know of Christ’s teaching is in the New Testament. Christ is the Master and we as Christians have willingly agreed to become His servants.

    The servants are not greater than the Master. When the servants decide that they know better than the Master – they are no longer Christians, they are something else.

    The liberal leaders of TEC and the ACoC have decided that they know better than the Master. So a split with those of us who continue to follow Christ is inevitable.

  • Gunnar Thalweg

    The problem with the Anglican Communion is all sides are wrong. I was an Episcopalian, and converted to Catholicism. What I came to see was that the entire enterprise was flawed from the start. Queen Elizabeth I, in attempting to create some order from her father’s mess, came up with a delicious piece of fudge. Regardless of what you believed, we were united in the form of the liturgy. So, form unites the church, and underlying belief can vary. It sounds good, because to some extent, we all conceptualize things different ways. In the Anglican communion, you ended up with evangelicals, low-church and high-church catholics forming various groups,and they were soon joined by progressives. All united by the prayers and liturgy themselves; hence, the Book of Common Prayer.

    The problem was the Anglican Communion got it exactly wrong: We are united in our beliefs, the unity is in truth,and the form may change as people may express things in varying ways. So the essentials are the same, the accidents are different. If you are Catholic, you believe in the Mass, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. As an Anglican, you might believe in transubstantiation or consubstantiation; you might believe it’s a memorial, you might hold a variety of beliefs about the bread and wine, but you are united with others in your participation in the liturgy itself.

    The problem was that this was unstable. It is amazing the Anglicans have lasted so long. Sooner or later, a group would come up with beliefs that others would find beyond the pale. Progressives did a long march through the institution, capturing General Theological Seminary and many parishes, particularly urban ones, and soon for progressives the idea was to use Christian forms to sanction progressive beliefs. In other words, progressive Christians’ beliefs come from outside any religious tradition, but from a secular tradition, and then use that secular standard to alter beliefs about the liturgy and the Bible. Progressives tend to be modernist to the core — this is a way of structuring and ordering beliefs about mysteries that are hard to talk about, and participating in things that are beautiful and as a way of creating community.

    And the warm fuzzy feelings that come from that — they see them as confirmation.

    The problem is, only the Holy Spirit can ease the conscience, and that’s only after confession, repentance, and penance. Progressives can’t silence their own consciences, because they do not confess, they are not penitent, and thus are not willing to turn to the truth. And since their conscience crops up again and again, they have to go to greater lengths to fight it off, to demand that others who say the same things as their conscience be silenced, or driven out.

    Yet, the “conservative” or as I prefer to call them, the Christian element (that is, they believe the faith delivered by the apostles), have erred in thinking that they could set up their own version of catholicism or orthodoxy. They gave it a 500 year try. Yet, for all its faults, it is the only version that will survive into the future.

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