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October 01, 2005


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Thomas C. Wyld

Thank you. I read that post at thinklings -- it devolved into a rather odd, if not nasty, exchange -- and in the end was not as helpful as I had initially hoped, but I do appreciate your bringing the topic up!

My take, for what it's worth, is that the Rev.'s theology is rooted in the "social gospel" of the Sixties. In my church and, I suspect, many other mainline denominations, that "gospel" -- infused with an overdose of secularism and relativism -- led to the widespread dissolution of the church which has left orthodox believers debating whether to fight or flee.

Works vs. grace is, in a way, central to the issue. Martin Luther put the Epistle of James at the very back of his revised Bible. Calling James "a gospel of straw," he wished to emphasize grace and justification by faith. Regardless of where one stands with respect to Luther and James, there is a hazard for ministry that is works-centered to the diminution of grace.

The recent calamity in the Anglican Communion over openly homosexual clergy stems from the "works-focused" era of the Sixties. In the minds of many orthodox clergy and laity, the issue front and center is not sexuality but that drift from a church that is centered on the gospel and the historic teachings of the church.

Writes Fr. Eric Dudley, who resigned as rector of St. John's Tallahassee a few days ago to start an Anglican church nearby:

" I have come to realize that the roots of heresy are so deep in the Episcopal Church (in seminaries, among priests and bishops) that there really is no possibility of changing the fabric of this Church.... No truly orthodox rector or bishop I know has any hope for the future of the Episcopal Church....

" I would much rather pour my life and ministry into building a strong Anglicanism in America based on the solid Gospel of Jesus Christ. From my perspective, the Episcopal Church is a Church that has lost its moorings and has left the fleet (the larger Anglican Communion), cut free from its anchor (Christ), and is being tossed about by all the whims of modern-day secularism. I am not called to stay in that boat. I will instead remain solidly anchored to Christ with the larger fleet of Anglicanism....

"The real rift in our Church, while brought to the fore by sexuality, exists because we have allowed this church for forty years to move away from Scripture as the foundation for our life together.

In his exhaustive, effective rebuttal (read: rebuke) of Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold's appeal to recognize same-sex relations, the Rev. Dr. Peter Toon identifies the tap root that runs back to the secular Sixties:

"Let me be more specific. What [the pro-homosexual document] claims as a wonderful new development of doctrine and practice led by the Holy Spirit, I shall seek to show is in fact a corruption of Christian teaching and behavior. What it seeks to show is a doctrine to be received and tested through discernment in the Church, I shall seek to show is a doctrine not to be received but to be rejected.... What it presents as an example of biblical holiness, I shall show is more like 'a secular holiness.' And, what it offers as its title ['To Set Our Hope On Christ'], based upon 1 Peter 1:3, I shall show supports the traditional and orthodox position on the Christian life and holiness, not that of the Episcopal Church in recent years.

"Further, I shall indicate that by the stances and positions that the Episcopal Church took in the period after World War II, and especially in the late 1960s, it became a Church heading in one direction, a 'progressive' direction, and that the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordaining of active, homosexual persons are wholly to be expected in such a Church, for they are within the terms of reference of this progressive journey."

a.k.a. just a schmo in a choir


LeeAnn, thanks for the link.

Tom, on behalf of the Thinklings, I do apologize for the unhelpfulness of our discussion. I am hard pressed to recall anything nasty about it, but it does disappoint me to know a conversation hosted on our site would not be helpful.
Like all dialogues between parties who disagree, it is difficult sometimes to get everyone on the same page. But we will try harder next time.

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