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Tuesday, August 19, 2003

In the Aftermath of Minneapolis

On Sunday afternoon I went to church for a meeting of parishioners concerned about ECUSA's notorious election of a non-celibate gay man to the bishopric of New Hampshire. Around 40 people showed up, which I would estimate is nearly half of our active membership. Many of them were very emotional, choking up as they either contemplated leaving the church they were raised in or urged their friends not to do so. I wasn't as upset, partly due to temperament but also because of the following considerations:

First, New Hampshire is 2,000 miles away. "The Episcopal Church" is something of an abstraction, a label for a loose confederation of largely autonomous dioceses. New Hampshire's tolerance for homosexuality does not in itself affect the teaching of Northwest Texas. (However, the Robinson election may encourage the gay caucus to enforce tolerance of homosexuality on the church as a whole. Such is the trajectory taken by the women's ordination issue in the 1980s; at first it was left up to the individual dioceses, but now it is imposed as canonical law on the church entire. If that happens with homosexuality I'm outta here.)

Second, we've had worse bishops in the past. Pike in the 60s and Spong in the 90s held and taught much more serious heresy than tolerance of gay sex--Arianism, denial of the Resurrection, even a rejection of theism itself.

Third, I don't have many options. The other mainline Protestant denominations are also wracked by the same controversy. The RC and EO churches are attractive to me and stand firm on traditional sexual teaching, but I'm not ready--yet--to purchase the entire package of extra-biblical dogmas (Mariology, etc.) they bundle with their orthodoxy. And I could never tolerate a fundie/evie church with moronic praise choruses, unbiblical teetotalism, obligatory patriotism, etc. The LCMS is my most likely refuge, although they're a bit too insistent on monergism and consubstantiation for my tastes.


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