November 27, 2014

April 24, 2012


Why Are You People SOOOO Divisive?

We’ve got mail.  Lots and lots of mail about the Truro settlement.  Generally speaking, it falls into three categories. 

1.  Those who agree with us and are thankful that we did not decide to “let the issue fly under the radar.” 
2.  Those who agree with us about the endorsement of Bishop Johnston as a shepherd worthy of introduction to the flock but think there should be no criticism of the property settlement   This group seems mixed about the joint agreement on covenanting speech.
3.  The third category – well, they are unhappy.  A few have chosen to remind of us of the wonderful work for the Gospel to which the good people of Truro have dedicated themselves and feel they can share a ministry with Bishop Johnston without calling him ugly names.

There is no question among any of us that the people of Truro are good and faithful Christians.  This is not at issue.  We would remind everyone that surely there were many parishes and dioceses that were doing excellent work that chose to stand with the heresies of Tec. 

The Truro settlement is an issue that needs to be addressed before we all go back and take up our positions on our Little Stone Bridge.  We need to address the issue of divisiveness openly and honestly.  Is what we have done divisive?  Specifically, is it okay to join in ministry with someone who by his words and actions is defined as a heretic?  If it is now acceptable in the most orthodox part of the communion, how does that affect the thousands of people who have spent literally decades fighting the slide into apostacy and heresy of Tec?

Here’s how it was addressed shortly after Gene Robinson was elected as bishop. 

Many people are calling your actions divisive. Do you feel you’re being divisive?
The question is, who is doing the dividing? Of course, we could keep silent, and then things would appear to be going on just fine. The ones who are divisive, I try to say, gently but regularly, are the ones who are doing the new thing. It’s not the ones who are holding onto what has always been held onto by the church.

Are we at Stand Firm wrong for calling it as we see it?  Can we use the word heretic without risking the wrath of not just our worthy opponents, but also our beloved allies?  Let’s see how that was addressed in 2004.

Are you referring to what the conservatives in the Episcopal Church call “revisionism?” And if so, can you define revisionism?
A more ancient word for the same thing is “heresy.” What’s going on in this day and age (and, incidentally, it’s not unlike other ages) is that this particular age has a notion that we’re created good and we just need to be self-actualized. Well, all that is directly contrary to Scripture—it’s heresy that doesn’t require a Savior. But revisionism within the Episcopal Church has been going on for decades.

Is the battle worth the wounds? We each must decide for ourselves.

Why are you taking this battle so far?

The battle is about the authority of Scripture. It’s about the basics of Christian faith. It’s about sin and redemption. It’s just so fundamental. The issues have to do with sexuality and morality, but at the very heart of it is whether Scripture can be trusted. In my experience I learned the one person I could trust was Jesus Christ and the only testament that was reliable was what was in Scripture. And I cannot let the Church, of all bodies, challenge the notion that you can’t trust the plain meaning of Scripture.

Frankly, the two areas of the settlement that concern me are:

A covenanted position concerning speech – this can be a good thing or a bad thing.  If the covenant states that the others will only speak truth concerning the actions of the other, then bravo.

Endorsing Bishop Johnston as a shepherd worthy of the flock – this is simply unacceptable UNLESS Bishop Johnston has agreed to repent of his acceptance and endorsement of the heresies of Tec.  One cannot simply state the differences are more about anthropology than Christology.  I addressed my concerns in this comment:

Truro states the litigation was due to disagreements regarding issues of the authority of Scripture and the unique identity of Jesus Christ,

If Christology is fully dependent upon Scripture, how does Fr. Baucum explain the lack of authority Tec/Dio of VA ascribe to Scripture?  I took from various statements that have been made that he and Bishop Johnston agreed that Jesus was an authentic person and had a bodily resurrection.  Great!  A lot of people believe that who totally discount the Bible.  Many of them wear mitres. 
Possibly Fr. Baucum needs to clarify his statement because without the Authority of Scripture which Bishop Johnston discounts, how can there be any agreement on Christology?  He also needs to clarify Truro’s statement for the cause of the division.

Finally, this is the reason that Truro posted as recently as February 2012 for the division with Tec:

Due to disagreements regarding issues of the authority of Scripture and the unique identity of Jesus Christ, Truro church voted in December of 2006 to break affiliation with the Episcopal Church (TEC).

We simply ask, “What has changed?”    Is there some inside story we are missing?  If so, we would gently remind Truro that the rest of the world is missing it also.  If the need to remain mute on these issues was vitally important to a successful settlement, then possibly Truro should have considered that before releasing such incendiary remarks to a very wounded and very tired group of Anglicans throughout the world who have been manning their positions on their Little Stone Bridge for all too many years.  We would also remind those involved that it is never too late for clarification.  We simply ask that you refrain from serving us Diversity Fudge and address the issues AND not just dwell on the very commendable work the good people of Truro are doing. 


The quotes above are taken from this interview


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23 comments

If you hang out with dogs, you get fleas.

[1] Posted by B. Hunter on 4-24-2012 at 04:56 PM · [top]

“What has changed?”

That’s it in a nutshell, Jackie.  If Truro left TEc because of 815 and Lee in 2006, surely today’s 815 and Johnston do not represent an improvement.

I’ll ask again, since my question in one of the other threads didn’t get addressed to my knowledge:  What did Truro get out of this agreement?

[2] Posted by Jeffersonian on 4-24-2012 at 05:09 PM · [top]

Ok, I’ll start the commentary. I’m mostly in Camp#3. Do I *like* that Truro has agreed to “sleep with the enemy”? No. But - as I wrote before:
1. I don’t know all of the legal details - Truro’s leadership may have felt that their collective backs were against the wall, and this was the best deal it could get. Scylla or Charibdis - they both are wretched choices. I confess I have not scrutinized every comment Rev Matt, Jackie, Greg, and Sarah have made; perhaps you have sympathized with Truro on this point - but I haven’t seen it. Call me a softie, but I was a vestry member of a church still under litigation (you may guess which, if you like, but I’m not telling wink ) and I’m a lawyer, so I’m very familiar with choosing between rotten options.
2. If signing a settlement agreement with Bp Johnston is giving aid and comfort to the enemy, then I *still* do not understand how remaining in a TEC church is not also giving support. After all, at a minimum, TEC can count your body as a member of its province. If your TEC-affiliated parish is giving any money to TEC, or to your TEC-affiliated diocese, that is money that TEC doesn’t have to spend for your parish/diocese and that it can use to support its litigation against churches like The Falls Church. Yes, dear Sarah, I’m writing to you. I think you are a wonderful Christian and a very erudite person, but your logic on this point evades me.
3. There are other churches, vestry, and rectors still under litigious attack by TEC. Some of them have submitted petitions for a writ of certiorari to the US Supreme Court. It is possible that one or more of them might still be attempting to negotiate with TEC. While I would hope that the vestry and rectors of those petitioning churches would make a settlement decision because they don’t want to be criticized by you, they are, after all, human. These folks have gone through years of litigation, depositions, and heartache (I understand that being a defendant in a lawsuit is not a good thing for a CPA, for example). Yes, these sorts of things are trivial compared to the horrific attacks being suffered by our brothers and sisters in the Sudan, in Iran, in China, etc. But-
4. I feel that your comments are giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Some of them are saying - “oh, goody, the reasserters are in-fighting and will shortly divide again and will easier to conquer.” Others are misconstruing comments such as mine, thinking that I’m saying that Bp Johnston and his ilk are nice people who I’d be pleased to take communion with. (Not!)
5. My grief for Truro is heartfelt - I was a parishioner there for years until I moved to xxx. If I visit any friends in NoVA, seeing the old buildings up for sale/rent, used as a facility for the burgeoning Moslem population (they were building an Islamic school near my home the year I left - no, that wasn’t the reason for my move), turned into condos, etc. will sadden me. Yes, the thought of Bp Johnston worshipping there turns my stomach too. But I refer again to Item #1.

[3] Posted by sophy0075 on 4-24-2012 at 05:13 PM · [top]

Sophy:

If I understand Sarah et.al. correctly, I think that they are not just being critical because Truro has a connection with Johnston.  Imagine if you will, Truro released the following statement before its lease ends next year:

“The friendship between Bishop Shannon and I has deepened.  We have acknowledged our deep theological differences, but recognize that we are each brothers in Christ.  We recognize that Bishop Shannon is a bishop in the Anglican Communion, and Bishop Shannon recognizes that we seek to remain a part of this Communion, even despite our deep theological differences.  Recently, representatives of Truro met with Bishop Shannon and Bishop Dan Martins of Springfield and we have agreed that Truro will rejoin the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and enter into a DEPO arrangement with Bishop Dan.”

Now, if Truro released such a statement, then, yes, it would be very hypocritical of Sarah or Gregg or Jackie to criticize it ON THE GROUNDS THAT TRURO OUGHT TO HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH TEC.

But I don’t think that that is what they are criticizing this statement for.  I think the criticism is for actions which seem to contradict what they have said earlier.

I know that Matt gave an analogy the other week, but consider the following analogy: 

Supposed that you own a franchise in a national restaurant chain.  This chain includes stand-alone restaurants and also contracts for school cafeterias.  Suppose that the national chain departs from the traditional healthy menu and substitutes instead a high fat, low nutrition, highly addictive menu.  Now this change pleases a lot of the franchises who believe that a high fat/low nutrition/highly addictive menu will increase their profits and make them popular with young people.  But a handful of franchise owners are very opposed to these changes.

Those opposed eventually break into two groups.  The first group, declares that they will continue to feature the traditional healthy menu choices and will not offer the new high fat/low nutrition/highly addictive menu.  While this leads to these franchise owners being shunned by co-owners and denied promotions or leadership positions in the chain, restaurants are able to offer the healthy options so long as they don’t advertise too widely.  The second group, however, declares that they cannot, in good conscience, remain associated with a chain that peddles poison to the public and contributes so gratuitously to childhood obesity.  They declare that they are no longer part of the chain, but instead form a new restaurant chain and declare themselves to be the “Original”.  The departers declare that it is simply unconscionable to be associated with a restaurant chain that provides such unhealthy and addictive food, and that they simply cannot remain associated with a restaurant chain that would do such a thing.

The chain sues the departed franchisees and the courts give the chain all of the franchisee-owned property.  Most of the departed franchises are forced to leave.  But one of the largest of the departed franchises, announces a deal.  The deal says that they have agreed to end their litigation, sign over their property to the national chain, and will stop calling the national chain purveyors of “kiddie heart attacks” and, in return, they will get a one year free lease on their property.  But significantly, the franchise owner also declares that he has come to be friends with the regional chain manager, and says that they while they differ on what sort of food is appropriate for kids, they both care about child health, and that he has even offered to help the chain get some cafeteria contracts in schools.

Note Sophy, that it is the final bolded sentence that people tend to be upset over.  If the franchise owner is now prepared to call the restaurant chain a “quality food supplier” and to act as a positive reference to get the chain business, how can he also declare that he can’t in good conscience be associated with that chain?

This is what seems to have happened at Truro.  If Truro would say “you know, on second thought, we acted rashly.  We still really disagree with TEC, but realize that in the bigger picture, maybe we really can live together so long as we can differentiate ourselves”, than so be it.

That said, I have no problem with settling the litigation, and agreeing to be respectful and truthful to Johnston in communication.  But I am somewhat at a loss as to why, if Truro believes what Baucam says in his sermon and statement, Truro has not sought to rejoin the Diocese of Virginia under a DEPO arrangement?

[4] Posted by jamesw on 4-24-2012 at 05:57 PM · [top]

There is no question among any of us that the people of Truro are good and faithful Christians.

So it’s Stand Firm’s position that calling Bishop Johnston a brother in Christ is the mark of a good and faithful Christian?

I had thought that calling Bishop Johnston a brother in Christ was considered around here not so much a mark of a good and faithful Christian.

So if there is “no question” that someone who refers to Bishop Johnston as a brother in Christ is a good and faithful Christian, what have all these posts over the last few days been about?

[5] Posted by James Manley on 4-24-2012 at 05:57 PM · [top]

Sophy0075, I’m struggling to understand your comment. NO one at SF has ever argued that “settling” with Bishop Johnston is “giving aid and comfort to the enemy”.

Calling Bishop Johnston a “brother in Christ” and “opening up ministry opportunities” however IS giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Please read the actual articles we post before disagreeing with them.

[6] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 4-24-2012 at 05:59 PM · [top]

Hi James Manley,

Usually your posts are quite reasonable and rational.

This one is just strange.

“So it’s Stand Firm’s position that calling Bishop Johnston a brother in Christ is the mark of a good and faithful Christian?”

Um. No. It’s Stand Firm’s position that Truro is led by good and faithful Christians. And that is why their decision to refer to Bishop Johnston as a brother in Christ and promote his ministry is so scandalous.

“I had thought that calling Bishop Johnston a brother in Christ was considered around here not so much a mark of a good and faithful Christian.”

We consider promoting Bishop Johnston’s ministry wrong because doing so violates the passages that command Christians not to give aid or comfort to heretics.

Do you think it possible James Manley that Good and Faithful Christians can take actions that are not good and faithful?

What happens when those actions have the potential to do great damage to the body of Christ?

Are we to say nothing because the ones taking the action are good and faithful?

“So if there is “no question” that someone who refers to Bishop Johnston as a brother in Christ is a good and faithful Christian, what have all these posts over the last few days been about?”

Well how about this: Truro publicly promoting the ministry of a heretic and helping him spread his poison.

Of course you could have simply read what we have written rather than simply reacting and perhaps your post would not have been quite so incoherent.

[7] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 4-24-2012 at 06:10 PM · [top]

How about the 4th category:  Waiting to see what is actually going to happen and not just relying on a press release.

Yes, I think Truro had to settle.  They lost.  However, moving a big church is a huge logistical task, and another year is a big help.

Yes, I have strong reservations about any involvement with the DoVA and TEC.  No, I do not think they (bishop or standing committee) deal in good faith.  Yes, I think their intentions towards ACNA churches is to destroy them before they plant parishes throughout Virginia and drain another large portion of the laity of the TEC diocese away (soon be too late for that, in my opinion).  Yes, I think there are people at Truro who know all that quite well.

[8] Posted by pendennis88 on 4-24-2012 at 06:28 PM · [top]

Sophy0075 wrote:

“If signing a settlement agreement with Bp Johnston is giving aid and comfort to the enemy, then I *still* do not understand how remaining in a TEC church is not also giving support.”

I have two questions for you:

1. You appear to be making no distinction between (a) +Johnston who actively promotes same-sex marriages and wants them made normative throughout TEC, and (b) +Lawrence of South Carolina who rejects 815’s doctrine, or +Love of Albany who has just filed the amicus curiae brief in USSC. 

Is that correct - do you in fact see no difference between these bishops, but rather see them as exactly the same, since they have the label TEC on them? To put it another way, do you see membership of TEC as far more important than what a bishop actually teaches? (this is not two questions, its really the same).

2. Are you not condemning all of the Global South Primates who invited two bishops of TEC to communion in April 2010 (+Lawrence and +Howe) and then by public communique made it clear that they were NOT calling upon those bishops to leave TEC?

Until you answer these questions, I have to say that the logic of your position escapes me.

[9] Posted by MichaelA on 4-24-2012 at 08:01 PM · [top]

pendennis88 at #8 (that’s a lot of 8s), 

Good point.  And I do think that most of us haven’t yet “passed judgment”.  But we are asking questions; they are searching questions, they won’t go away, and some of the answers so far (not all) have set alarm bells ringing.

[10] Posted by MichaelA on 4-24-2012 at 08:06 PM · [top]

Yes, I think Truro had to settle.  They lost.  However, moving a big church is a huge logistical task, and another year is a big help.

If that’s the case, it’s understandable, but it’s not as big a task as all that.  The vast majority of the property inside and outside the church will belong to the diocese, so it doesn’t need to be touched.  Ditto the records.

All you need is somewhere to meet and a place where the administrative portion of the church can be set up.  I realize that’s not an insignificant task, but it’s definitely one that can be planned for in the period of six years.  If Truro didn’t, it doesn’t speak well of their contingency planning.

[11] Posted by Jeffersonian on 4-25-2012 at 09:20 AM · [top]

MichaelA

Very quick note, because I’m traveling -

No, I see Bp Lawrence as different than Johnston - faithful to the 39 Articles in general and Christianity in particular (ok, that’s backwards; I said this had to be quick!). Not as familiar as I should be with Bp Howe, so I can’t comment. And I’m not condemning Global South - they are supporting this faithful bishop by their invitation.

My main point in my comment was that I think Truro’s leadership felt that its back was legally against the wall - no other judicial venue to turn to for help - and that this was the best of two lousy options. Of course, not being a member of Truro’s leadership, but only a vestry member in my church once, I’m just surmising. My secondary point was to criticize the savagery of faithful Christians attacking their own. Having been a Truro congregant, I think it is really unlikely that Truro will slide downward into the relationship suggested by JamesW. If your fear of the latter is because of Rev Tony’s pleasant phrasing describing Bp Johnston, consider that maybe that phrasing was mandated by TEC as part of the price of the settlement, just as TEC mandated that other churches have no relationship with ACNA for five years. Maybe Truro thought this phrasing was a better (although still wretched) alternative to the separation from its brothers and sisters in ACNA.

[12] Posted by sophy0075 on 4-25-2012 at 10:13 AM · [top]

RE: “the savagery of faithful Christians attacking their own . . . “

Of course, there have been no “attacks” of other Christians—although there have certainly been some critical assessments of the actions of other Christians.

Is that what you mean by “attacks” Sophy?  That no other Christian can critically assess the actions of other Christians?

StandFirm has faithfully critically assessed the actions of revisionists and conservatives alike and we could never accept such a hypocritical stance as not to critically assess the actions of Christians while doing the same against revisionist non-Christians.

[13] Posted by Sarah on 4-25-2012 at 10:25 AM · [top]

Have you called Tory yet?

bb

[14] Posted by BabyBlue on 4-25-2012 at 04:27 PM · [top]

[15] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 4-25-2012 at 04:54 PM · [top]

BB -

Hi,

Amazingly, we were just talking about this.  We are still waiting on a response from Truro.  Possibly you could check on that for us.  Since the original correspondence originated with Greg, I assumed they would respond directly to him but he hasn’t received anything and neither have I.  I’ll send a query to the other bloggers but would imagine they would let us know if they had been the recipient.  I am not aware that Fr. Baucum has contacted any of us to date.  Did he call or send an email and we missed it?  If so, please let us know.

As I stated in the piece above, if we misunderstood Fr. Baucum’s statement, a clarification would be most welcome.

[16] Posted by Jackie on 4-25-2012 at 05:00 PM · [top]

What I find strange Jackie, and I imagine that you do too since you also were included in the correspondence, is that BB was given the very same answer that you gave in #16 privately a day ago.

Now why, I wonder, would she choose to ask that question here since it has already been answered privately?

Since it’s BB I can’t imagine that she would be hoping to leave the impression that there had been no private correspondence at all between SF and Tory+. That would be a form of bearing false witness.

If it were not BB I might think it a form of spite or rage but since it is BB that explanation doesn’t quite fit

Strange. I guess I’ll have to chalk it up to forgetfulness.

[17] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 4-25-2012 at 05:14 PM · [top]

Yes, Matt—BB must be terribly forgetful, because not only did she email that question a day ago, and not only did she receive the answer from Jackie, but she also received this answer from me:

Interesting.

We shouldn’t comment on public written actions, it seems, without engaging in “dialogue” first.

Obviously, StandFirm has never accepted that premise—not when it was mouthed by revisionists five years ago, and not now.

And now she’s asked it again a day later, as if she never received a response.

Or almost as if she thinks that she’s making some point that doesn’t have any appropriate answer other than “oh my yes, we simply must call Tory before we comment further on his and Truro’s written down statements and public actions.”

Or . . . she’s just forgetful.

[18] Posted by Sarah on 4-25-2012 at 08:09 PM · [top]

Thanks Sophy0075.  Prayers for you in your travelling.

[19] Posted by MichaelA on 4-25-2012 at 08:12 PM · [top]

Matt+ at #15, thank you for linking Don Carson’s article about how dealing with “public” and “private” expressions of opinion, I hadn’t seen it before. Very good.

[20] Posted by MichaelA on 4-25-2012 at 08:14 PM · [top]

If we have a quarrel with our brother are we not to go to him directly and in private? And if we are not reconciled aren’t we to go and reconcile first?

[21] Posted by BabyBlue on 4-25-2012 at 08:37 PM · [top]

BB - That is a very good plan when the quarrel is between brothers in private.  I would never have commented on something that was being discussed in private.  My problem is that the priest and the parish he leads - and both have long been held to be at the forefront of the battle for orthodoxy have publicly announced they are entering a shared ministry with a man who disputes the Authority of Scripture.

This was not a dinnertime conversation.  This was a press release. The sermon boasting that Fr. Baucum would be endorsing Bishop Johnston was posted on the internet.  One does these things so they act receives attention.  If they now regret that decision it seems they should do something public to relieve the fears of those who have been led to believe (by Fr. Baucum and Truro) to believe otherwise.

If I were a member of Truro and this was all a terrible misunderstanding, I think I would have responded to the inquires.  Do you know why Fr. Baucum or the Vestry have not done so?

[22] Posted by Jackie on 4-25-2012 at 08:56 PM · [top]

I hadn’t realized that Tory and the entirety of Truro’s vestry was not reconciled with us or had a quarrel with any of us.

I certainly have no quarrel with them, though I disagree with their written down statements and public actions.

Obviously, disagreement with written down statements and public actions does not indicate a need for “reconciliation”—I disagree with public statements and public actions every single day, and certainly have no need to trudge over to the enacter and indulge in some “reconciliation” where there is no need.

. . . Any other scriptures that anybody would like to misuse in this truly pathetic and continuing attempt to distract attention from an important disagreement?

Is this it?

[23] Posted by Sarah on 4-25-2012 at 09:01 PM · [top]

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