March 24, 2017

July 16, 2012

To Those Who Are Angry

It’s like the rising of the sun. Whenever we post an article about orthodox Episcopalians taking a stand of any kind - the departure of the South Carolinian deputation from the floor of General Convention being the most recent -  it’s only a matter of time before the inevitable “Fly you fools!” comment shows up on the thread. Many such comments are obviously written out of anger - laced with sarcasm, righteous indignation, misspelled words, and the implicit (or explicit) charge of cowardice and/or stupidity.

As one who has ‘flown’ I have no idea from whence this need of leavers to whack stayers arises? What is the point of it? What is it about their decision that has any bearing whatsoever on our ministry or mission? Shouldn’t we rather pray for and support them in any way we can?  It is before their own Master (and ours) that they stand or fall.

If we want to “hold them accountable” as Christian brothers, let’s do so according to scripture, the measure and “norming norm” that God has provided for that very purpose. 

To date no one has produced any hard evidence from scripture that those who remain in TEC “must” leave as a matter of fidelity to Christ. To do so, that person would have to demonstrate that remaining “requires” doing what God forbids and/or not doing what God commands. Exodus analogies and vague references to 2nd Corinthians 6, while provocative, don’t suffice.

It is absolutely true that Christians remaining in TEC must do so militantly: stay to fight, no cooperation, no collaboration, no funding, nothing to provide aid or comfort to the enemy. But that seems to be precisely what Bishop Lawrence has done and is doing. There are certainly collaborators in TEC but +Lawrence is obviously not one of them.

So what really is the problem? If they stay faithfully and fight, even in a desperate, losing cause, is there some evil in that? Is there some scriptural text I’ve overlooked that that forbids Christians from giving themselves over to what appears to be a hopeless struggle? The truth is quite the opposite. Our God defeated death after all.

Even in the world self-sacrifice in a losing battle is considered a noble thing - Leonidas and his 500, the Alamo, the French paratroopers at Dien Bien Phu leap immediately to mind. Why do we sniff at similar sacrifices in a spiritual battle?

If you cannot understand why someone would want to stay, why be bothered by it? If they’re not in violation of God’s commands, why do they owe you or me any explanation at all? Why not let them go about their work in peace and with our blessing?

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Because we all want ‘affirmation’ that we are right and they are wrong.  smile

It is that awful self-centeredness that is at the heart of all this.  The ‘I’ in sin. Some people just don’t understand that. Or they forget and that old self bubbles up.

Seriously, though, yes,  you are right. That is why Bishop Lawrence’s decision to not go after St. Andrew’s Mt. Pleasant with a lawsuit when they left the Diocese of SC was a shocker to some people on both sides. Did not surprise me one iota.

Definitely, we all need to support each other in prayer and in whatever way we can.

[1] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 7-16-2012 at 10:48 AM · [top]

Fr. Kennedy is right.  Those who choose to remain in TEC do so for many reasons, not the least of which is that they believe God wants them there.  Those of us who have left must respect this and uphold them in prayer.  They will have a bad time, but God can use that for His purposes.  As Fr. Kennedy stated, “Our God defeated death after all.”  Schori and company will present little challenge to the Lord.

I am a member of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin.  Part of our reason for leaving was that Mrs. Schori rolled out the unwelcome mat by trying to illegally depose our bishop.  Between that and the heresies she was spouting helped us come to the decision to leave.

David Katzakian

[2] Posted by sactohye on 7-16-2012 at 11:05 AM · [top]

The passage that always comes to my mind is John 21:15-22.  Peter, who during Jesus’ trial, had denied that he even knew Jesus, has been sought out by Jesus and restored to fellowship.  Jesus has told him what his end will be and sounds pretty grim, then He adds, “Follow me.”  Peter turns, sees John, and says, “What about him?”  Jesus gently tells Peter what He plans for John’s life is really not Peter’s concern and again says, “Follow me.”

If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and follow Him as he leads us, He will keep us too busy to worry about how He is leading someone else.  I see this attitude and behavior in you, Matt, Sarah, Greg, and your fellow bloggers.  I want that same steadfastness to be the rule of my life.

[3] Posted by Frances S Scott on 7-16-2012 at 11:15 AM · [top]

#1 - spot on.  We all must do what we believe the Holy Spirit is telling us to do - and not judge others for not doing the same thing (so long as they are not doing something contrary to Holy Scripture).

Wars are fought on many fronts…

[4] Posted by B. Hunter on 7-16-2012 at 11:28 AM · [top]

I’m probably one of those that questions stayers, but I don’t do it out of anger, just puzzlement.  I’ve seen a few different rationales, and not one makes any sense to me.  If you think God wants you there, there’s no possible rebuttal to that, but I don’t recall seeing that reason used.  More often a strategic plan is described in vague terms, with certain tactical decisions announced, the purpose of which do not seem too sensible, if I may be so bold.

If it’s no one’s business, then say so and I’ll shrug and shut up.  But posting the decisions and rationales here doesn’t smack of wanting to keep things private.

[5] Posted by Jeffersonian on 7-16-2012 at 12:30 PM · [top]

Hi Jeffersonian…unless you can see a biblical reason why staying is unfaithful, I do think it is none of your business. Should some sense God calling them to stay and fight, what is that to you?

[6] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-16-2012 at 12:33 PM · [top]

Second Corinthians 6 seems pretty clear to me, but I’m not a Biblical scholar.  Maybe it means something different from what it appears in black letter Scripture.

As I mentioned in my post, the rationales are not generally accompanied by a “God is telling me to do this”-type explanation, so I naturally thought that the subject and the reasoning were open for discussion whenever the subject arose, what I’d assume is normally the custom when posting things publicly.  If that’s not the case, my apologies.  Perhaps a special formatting could be used to indicate certain assertions that are not to be questioned?

[7] Posted by Jeffersonian on 7-16-2012 at 12:52 PM · [top]

As one of my serminary professors so ably counseled “we must be faithful and do the work.”  We are a community that has left the Episcopal Church in the DioGa and have committed ourselves to not asking why others have stayed, but, instead to continue to love them in Christ and pray diligently for them.  After all when we step out that Rauel Julian rips the rearview mirror off the the Ferrari he was to drive because, “what was behind him was not important, only what was ahead of him.”  We who have left need to remember it is how were faithful in the proclamation of Christ in the days ahead.  We must be faithful and do the work and pray for those who have chosen not to walk away.

[8] Posted by frhutch on 7-16-2012 at 12:54 PM · [top]

Hi Jeffersonian,

2 Corinthians 6 is quite clear. What has not been shown and, frankly, cannot be shown, is how Bishop Lawrence stands in violation of 2 Cor 6. Are you charging him with collusion?

[9] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-16-2012 at 01:01 PM · [top]

I didn’t mention +Lawrence and can see why he has an institutional duty to go down fighting the apostates in charge.  I’ve only questioned others’ rationales here when they’ve mentioned them on the fora, others that have no institutional connection.

[10] Posted by Jeffersonian on 7-16-2012 at 01:20 PM · [top]

Fr. Kennedy,

Your essays on eucharistic fellowship in 2006 and 2007:

helped me immensely when I was in transition from ECUSA to (at that time) ACKenya.  I’m not sure if you still hold the positions you put forward then (it’s been 6 years).

Anyone in a TEC parish in which the clergy are not in communion with their heretical bishop (as you were not at the time you wrote the essays) is ok, as far as I am concerned.

But I wonder about those who claim that God has “called them” (or even worse, “told them”) to remain at table with heretics.  It concerns me that they haven’t thought of the seriousness of table fellowship.  I’m not angry about it—why would I be angry?  But I’m concerned by it—why wouldn’t I be?

When it appears to me (from online reports, and I’d be thrilled to be corrected) that the SC delegation was in full eucharistic fellowship with heretics at GC, and I’m puzzled why they would be, it is not because I am angry. 

It’s that I think that people in these situations do violate scripture that causes me to be concerned.  They don’t “owe me an explanation” (as you say) but I think it is fair to ask for one.

Nothing in this post advocates staying or leaving.  I’m just answering your questions.

[11] Posted by James Manley on 7-16-2012 at 01:33 PM · [top]

Hi James,

I do still hold to those positions. The posting above is narrowly focused on those in TEC who are resisting…ala +Lawrence and those calling for men like +Lawrence to leave the institution.

As for table fellowship…I agree with you.. I don’t think, however, that one must necessarily remain in table fellowship with heretics to remain within TEC.

[12] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-16-2012 at 01:51 PM · [top]

Ok, will try again hoping that a certain cat will leave the laptop alone and not delete my message before I click “submit”

Fr. Hutch and Fr. Kennedy are absolutely right. Sometimes the only thing we should do and can do for each other is pray for each other and support each other as fellow Christians.

Jeffersonian, I know I have written that I believe it is God’s will that I am where I am (in the Diocese of South Carolina). IIRC, I believe Lakeland 2 has put forth a similar reasoning (it is God’s will) that they are where they are (Dio of Central Fla).

Why are some angry over a decision that is not theirs to make? Why does it matter to that person that someone else decided to stay?  I think that maybe Matt’s point.  It should not. The decision is not yours or theirs to make for me or anyone else. You can make your own decision. I make my own. Matt+ has decided for himself. Once the decision has been made, the only thing to do is to respect the person and the decision.

Why are some still angry when someone makes it clear that they are staying? I will never understand. I can understand that some may not understand why others stay but why get angry over the decision. That just does not make sense to me.

Let go, Let God.

[13] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 7-16-2012 at 02:05 PM · [top]

James, I am not sure exactly what you mean when you wrote:

When it appears to me (from online reports, and I’d be thrilled to be corrected) that the SC delegation was in full eucharistic fellowship with heretics at GC, and I’m puzzled why they would be, it is not because I am angry.

If you are asking if any/all of our deputation went to the Eucharists at General Convention,  to that I have a partial answer. Canon Jim Lewis posted on the Diocese’s General Convention FB page that he could not take communion during the opening Eucharist and left before communion. I know he posted that once -for the opening eucharist.  For that Sunday while they were in Indy several of our deputation headed out together to worship somewhere. That was either on the FB page or John Burwell’s report. Canon Lewis was not there for the closing Eucharist. He had left. Even John Burwell+ did not stay for the closing eucharist instead he decide to head home.  The Diocese’s FB Gen Con page is not up anymore. That is all I know. Please give them some credit for knowing what to do.

[14] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 7-16-2012 at 02:33 PM · [top]

I can sympathize with your cat situation, #13…we just got a new polydactyl kitten and she’s absolutely everywhere, including on the laptop keyboard at all the wrong times.  It seems she is obliged to attack anything and everything that moves, has moved or might conceivably move in the future.  My hands are webs of scratches smile

Like I said, I’m the last person to get angry over this and frankly, I can’t remember reading anything here that struck me as angry about someone not leaving TEC.  Some have expressed more earthly reasons for remaining, and those have struck me as less than rigorous in their logic, particularly when I consider the normally level-headedness of the person making the assertion.  Those are the persons I was referring to, not +Lawrence, whom I deeply respect.

I would expect that his departure from TEC will be less voluntary than mine, and the reaction of the DioSC will be interesting, to say the least.  That the Presiding Plaintiff has been told that she cannot commandeer the property in SC changes the dynamic completely.

[15] Posted by Jeffersonian on 7-16-2012 at 02:38 PM · [top]

Great point, Matt, that everybody’s got to take care of their own ‘bidness.

Small point: the Episcopal Church varies enormously on the ground.  For a few years I was traveling heavily and stayed in the Episcopal Church in one city, left it in another, and visited TEC parishes while on the road.

To those who are angry, it’s ok to be angry, but focus your anger constructively against injustice.

[16] Posted by The Plantagenets on 7-16-2012 at 03:15 PM · [top]

I wanted to speak more generally than specifically. I respect Bishop Lawrence, and I wish my diocese had a bishop like him. I’m sure he has prayed about the right course of action, and so have his leaders (both clergy and laypersons).

I do attend a TEC church (though I drive 20 miles across the stateline so I can attend an orthodox parish), but I would like to be a part of ACNA one day. It seems to me that whether a person, parish, or diocese stays in (what was) ECUSA or moves into ACNA, there is a cost. 

I think the cost of leaving for ACNA has been well-documented here, so I won’t launch into it. But I think there is a cost for churches and dioceses that choose to remain in TEC. In the end, all the orthodox Tec priests tell me, despite their complaints and worries, that ‘it’s still a manageable situation’ or ‘things are still workable’ at this point.

I guess they have to say that, but it sounds gloomy to me.

In Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, the marriage of Charlotte Lucas and the stupid and self-absorbed Mr. Collins is a very ‘manageable’ or ‘workable’ situation: Charlotte wants a comfortable home of her own, and the pompous Mr. Collins wants   to appease the desires of his snobbish patron…the Lady Catherine de Bourgh. So on the one hand, the marriage between Charlotte and Collins provides advantages to both. On the other hand, it is hardly a desirable situation no matter how pragmatic it might be, and no reader I know feels any assurance that the next 30 years between Charlotte and Collins (as opposed to Elizabeth and Darcy, or Jane and Bingley) will be ‘happy’ ones…the tightrope dalliance it will take for these two to live together without shooting each other in their sleep will take its toll on both of them, especially Charlotte who will have to become more and more cruel to idiotic Collins just to keep her sanity.

Obviously, there are advantages to stay in ECUSA/Tec for both parties involved, but at what cost? I’ve seen how this relationship has proved toxic in some orthodox Tec churches: morale is not high, mission work is slowing (it is hard to get people to hit the streets of your community when they’re afraid they can’t mention where they go to church without getting questions about the ongoing politics), evangelism is non-existent, and more and more of the faithful wonder why they don’t start over again at another church…to be free of all the nonsense that the loonies are forcing on us. Indeed, attendance for ECUSA didn’t fall immediately in 2003…put has been a steady trickle.

There is more to explore here, but I just wanted to put some thoughts out there.


[17] Posted by All-Is-True on 7-16-2012 at 03:21 PM · [top]

I believe that Revelation chapters 2 and 3 provide a much better context on the issue of staying when evil (especially from the inside) overwhelms the church. In my opinion there is no question that dioceses and the local body are not required to leave. That being the case, I think folks need to ask “Could we be doing more than simply holding on (to the status quo) if we were unyoked?”

[18] Posted by Festivus on 7-16-2012 at 04:01 PM · [top]

I have the greatest respect for Bishop Lawrence and hope He can continue to shepherd his flock wherever God calls him to be.

[19] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 7-16-2012 at 04:21 PM · [top]

I think there is only one time when one must leave and that is if a person comes to believe their salvation is at stake.  I also think there is one time when someone must stay and that is if they are convinced this is where they must be in order to be obedient to God.  Otherwise the pros and cons of staying should be weighed and a decision made based on what a person believes is best for him and his family.  These pros and cons can range from the quality of children’s program to the preaching on Sunday. 

PS,  This does not just apply to TEC but to any Christian body.  If what your denomination is doing causes you to feel separated from Christ it is time to think about where you should be to return in all fidelity to Him.

[20] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 7-16-2012 at 04:30 PM · [top]

I don’t know why anyone should be angry.  But curious is another matter.  It’s probably none of my business when I see a battered woman staying in her abusive relationship, but I do kinda wonder why.  Maybe this is borderline prurient interest, but I think it’s an understandable phenomenon.

[21] Posted by slcath on 7-16-2012 at 04:36 PM · [top]

Sometimes we are called to be obedient in small things in large places.  Maybe you are not called so that you can convince others that TEC needs to change, maybe you are called to support a fellow parishioner who has lost a spouse and is going through a crisis of faith.  To some it may seem an indefensible reason for remaining when put against larger issues.  But in God there really are no “small” things.  Your example, support and witness may be the pivot (by Grace, of course) that turns this one person back to Christ.  We all fail if we lose sight that this is about real people who are truly doing their best to serve Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

[22] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 7-16-2012 at 04:41 PM · [top]

I think the harder question for people like me are those with few or no choices (or the hard choice of selling property and uprooting family).  I am in TEC. Not sure god is calling me to do that or not.  But i live in a rural area.  Caring for an ailing family member in this area.  The TEC diocese is revisionist top to bottom. Not a single orthodox parish left.  There is not ACNA presence at this time.  Not LCMS. Even Rome would be. 90 mile drive one way. There simply are NO orthodox options (unless you count Mormon). Such is life in the rural mountain west. One can fight within a parish but that is limited when you are alone in that parish.  So I have made my peace with it (for now) until I am in a position to change jobs and move to someplace larger.  Not all of us stayers are doing the differentiation that we ought to be doing but not sure what else to do.  P.s. Being the grandchild of ranchers has it’s limits.  Try living 40 miles on a dirt road to the nearest gas station and town with two churches.

[23] Posted by Matthew on 7-16-2012 at 05:39 PM · [top]

My own exit point was over the issue of community.  When our parish collapsed, there was an opportunity to join another TEC parish who just hired on a priest who hailed from one of the conservative seminaries.  However, our conservative laity had still not hammered out a way to differentiate much less were talking about the need.  Without such a strategy, we’d be subject to attrition, weakness, and eventually an exodus as we’d gone through before. 

I could see a single person staying behind as a witness, in the absence of an orthodox community of TEC Christians.  Or even couple without children in the house (say, empty nesters or childless).  Provided they had access to Christian community apart from TEC and availed themselves of it. 

But even without that, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to pull an orthodox Christian out of TEC;  not mine.

[24] Posted by J Eppinga on 7-16-2012 at 05:45 PM · [top]

The only argument that I have heard that gives me pause about staying, which I think we will do as we begin to build a life boat, is one that is based on ethics:  if one is employed by or is a member of a corporation and disagrees with the mission of the corporation, ethically that one should leave as opposed to staying and openly working against that corporation while remaining…a crude paraphrase of what i actually heard, but you get the idea…
what about that?

[25] Posted by aacswfl1 on 7-16-2012 at 06:44 PM · [top]

I want to add to #26 we are quite aware that the end is coming to our situation sooner than later, but we want to assist as many of our laity as we can before that comes, so we will remain FTTB

[26] Posted by aacswfl1 on 7-16-2012 at 06:50 PM · [top]

#25-  I would argue that there is only ONE Church.  What TEC’s leadership and apparent current majority have been doing is quite destructive to the Church.  Regardless of what denomination we are in, we have a responsibility to Christ and His Church to defend it against false doctrine and practice, and defend those within it, and those we are trying to bring into it.  The doctrine of the Church is not determined by a majority vote of the GC of TEC

In relationship to the corporate ethics argument, it may indeed be correct- but it is TEC that should voluntarily leave the Anglican Communion rather than continue to destroy it.  And if TEC intends to follow its current secular path, it should stop calling itself a Church, and leave that word to describe the orthodox dioceses and whatever remnants wish to continue on in the worship of our Lord.

[27] Posted by tjmcmahon on 7-16-2012 at 06:59 PM · [top]

[25]  It’s trickier than that.  The corporation “TEC” is still officially Christian.  Show up on Sunday and there’s the Bible, BCP, etc.  But the working theology—wink, wink—directly contradicts much of the organization’s official mission and values.  And now, enough new “canons” have passed GC to contradict the Bible, BCP, etc. at the level of official ideology.  In other words, the TEC contradicts itself in practice and theory now.  In formal logic, anything follows from a contradictions, so basically all interpretations are true.  By staying you are loyal and disloyal.  By leaving, you are loyal and disloyal.  Jesus is right and wrong to the TEC.  It’s a classic crazy-making double bind of the form the Chinese invented in brainwashing.

What about this analogy?

Level 1: If you’re a hypocritical organization, you’re like a corrupt hospital.  You hurt patients through negligence, greed, malice, etc, but at least you still affirm medicine and science.  Reformers who stick around need to target bad attitudes and behavior.  Arguably, this was Jesus’s relationship to Judaism. He affirmed it in theory, but through a major reform of applied theory and practice, he was thrown out and his movement eventually grew apart from the Temple.  It’s a bit like he started a much better hospital.

Level 2:  If you’re a wrong organization, then you might be fairly inert or you might be dangerous.  If you find yourself in the Society for Badness, you need to get out because bad work you do furthers the organization and good work you do can also further the organization by making it look good.  Maybe undercover cops and double agents are the exception, but Fifth Column for Jesus is not a Christian setup.  Of course, no organization has perfect complete theory in practice, so there are thresholds here.  When it comes to the TEC, a question I ask is what is my threshold.  But that’s a nasty utilitarian approach.  You don’t want to be in the Caiaphas business of making political calculations against God.  “It would be better for one man to die than for the whole nation to perish” type thinking lead to the crucifixion.  So I think if you ever find yourself forced to do something wrong, you have to hit the red button and stop the assembly line no matter what the cost.

[28] Posted by The Plantagenets on 7-16-2012 at 07:19 PM · [top]

I agree with tjmcmahon. A person who is called by God to serve in ACNA should do so. A person who is called by God to serve in TEC should do so.

We should remember that many leavers are understandably hurt and angry.  The leavers who criticise stayers on Stand Firm and T19 seem mostly to be former members of TEC who were genuinely and deeply hurt by their experience.  They feel betrayed, and in some cases they were not given the option of staying, i.e. they were shown the door. 

While I agree with Father Kennedy that we have to leave our hurt and anger with the Lord in such situations, I think it helps to empathise with these leavers, because their hurt springs from an understandable motive.

My respectful recommendation to any person who is still feeling such hurt is: turn your energies to building up your new church.  In particular, if you are in ACNA, get involved in planting new churches.  In so doing, you accomplish two important things:

(i) You build up the Kingdom.

(ii) You do the one thing that hurts the liberals in TEC more than anything else (and in a godly way).

Obviously not everyone in ACNA can do church-planting, nor are they all called to do so.  But everyone can support it, by giving and prayer, and everyone can call on their fellow pew-dwellers to support it also.

[29] Posted by MichaelA on 7-16-2012 at 07:22 PM · [top]

Can I add a few more Biblical texts, giving a possible reason for leaving I didn’t see mentioned so far (I am certainly not saying that these apply, and if they do apply, they may not apply yet. In other words, I’m not concinced by this, so I’m not going to try to convince others). Genesis 19:17; Jeremiah 6:1; Luke 21:20-22. When judgement against a city (or nation, or church ...) is imminent, the faithful are first called to flee.

Of course, there is also the example of Jeremiah himself, who was called to remain in Jerusalem and continue his (seemingly hopeless) call for repentance until the end. If +Lawrence’s stand causes only one member of TEC to reconsider and saves them from the oncoming destruction, it would be worth it.

[30] Posted by Boring Bloke on 7-16-2012 at 08:30 PM · [top]

Mat 10:11“Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. 12As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. 15I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

[31] Posted by ExEpiscop on 7-16-2012 at 10:17 PM · [top]

God bless those who stay and fight for their church.

Evan Miller

[32] Posted by evan miller on 7-17-2012 at 09:01 AM · [top]

Every leaver was once a stayer, and every stayer is a potential leaver. We are not two perpetually distinct categories of Christians. Rather, we are all at different points on a continuum regarding our “trigger” for leaving. Like the camel whose back was broken by a single additional straw, we all have our limits. But different camels can accommodate different loads. Many have not yet reached their limits.

One of the things that might have delayed my move to Orthodoxy was the knowledge that friends who had left ECUSA before I did would take my departure as vindication of their earlier criticisms of me for staying beyond the point where they chose to leave. I found that my position had hardened in response to such criticisms. I am still alienated from one fellow member of my old ECUSA parish who left for Orthodoxy before me.

I think many people also have a tendency to want to avoid taking personal responsibility for their choice to leave. They feel compelled to paint a picture of ECUSA so black that it eliminates any possibility of having chosen to stay. It’s as if, in order to justify leaving home, one is forced to rationalize it by hating one’s mother.

[33] Posted by Roland on 7-17-2012 at 03:02 PM · [top]

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