CHAOS THEORY

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 | Uncategorized

Former United States Secretary of State James Baker III loves the Episcopal Organization not wisely but too well:

As an Episcopalian who is concerned about the fracturing of our church, and one who desires to hold it together, I fear our dwindling church will continue to shrink unless we find a way to bridge our differences. Further breaking apart of our denomination would be extraordinarily regrettable, but in my view probable if we continue on our present path.

And he’s concerned about its future.

It does not have to be this way. Rather than choosing between the absolutist positions where there is one “winner” and one “loser” with respect to those issues, I believe that there is another more practical approach worthy of consideration.

Basically, Secretary Baker proposes to make the Episcopal Organization even more theologically and intellectually incoherent than it already is.

Therefore, I suggest that the best approach going forward would be for both sides of the controversy to agree to disagree, with each side expressing respect for the good faith of the other.

What practical steps would this involve, Mr. Secretary?

Such an approach could be called an “all are welcome” or “local option” approach and would promote a church of authentic inclusivity. It would be a reasonable and democratic solution. Under this approach, each parish would be able to decide by majority vote of its communicants the position it would take on these issues of sexuality.  Those votes would be conducted for the first time in 2012 and thereafter only in general convention years when a particular parish was presented with a petition in writing signed by 50% or more of the communicants of that parish requesting another vote on the issue. Parishes that voted in favor of same-sex blessings/ordinations could be referred to by one designation and those voting against by some other designation. All would be deemed to be parishes in good standing in the Episcopal Church of the United States.  Bishops in exercising oversight of the parishes in their diocese on issues of sexuality would do so in keeping with that particular parish’s most recent vote.

Leaving aside the fact that this idea doesn’t stand a chance because there’s no longer any reason for Episcopal liberals to allow it to ever see the light of day, I hope you grasp the fundamental problem here. 

Bishop Smith is a straight-down-the-line Episcopal liberal.  But Bishop Smith has three parishes in his diocese that are virulently opposed to homosexual bishops and same-sex marriage and, under Secretary Baker’s proposal, so designate themselves.

If episcopal oversight must be exercised “in keeping with that particular parish’s most recent vote,” Bishop Smith must preach that homosexual activity is a sin whenever he visits any of those three parishes.  When he visits any other parish, Smith can say what he truly believes. 

In effect, Baker’s proposal doesn’t just ask Smith to lie, it orders him to.  Which doesn’t seem like it would be particularly effective way of proclaiming the Gospel.  Of course, that’s just me and I don’t particularly care whether the Episcopal Organization continues to exist or not so take that for what it’s worth.

Yeah, I know, there are Episcopalians in Roman Catholic drag out there.  But for the most part, your average Roman Catholic could move from London to Webster Groves, Missouri or from Paris to Webster Groves, Missouri or from Rome to Webster Groves, Missouri or from New York City to Webster Groves, Missouri, walk into one of the numerous Catholic parishes around here and feel spiritually at home.

But Secretary Baker?  If you ask someone, “What do Episcopalians believe?” and he replies, “Depends on what building you’re in,” that is not a selling point.  Indeed, Christians tend to run, not walk, away from answers like that one and the churches who give it.  Because of, you know, the whole Laodicean thing.

41 Comments to CHAOS THEORY

dwstroudmd
March 24, 2010

This would not be a problem for George Wayne. I have personally heard him proclaim two distinct approaches in two geographically distinct locations with differing takes on “the issue”. And I was not alone. And I am baptized.

Truth Unites... and Divides
March 24, 2010

CJ: “If you ask someone, “What do Episcopalians believe?” and he replies, “Depends on what building you’re in,” that is not a selling point.”

Actually, for some people it might be. You know, the whole Anglican comprehensiveness thing, reform evangelical piskie-Anglicans on one end, and on the other end, Anglo-Catholics. Elizabethan settlement and Via Media.

“Living into the tension” and all that sort of stuff seems to be part of the original Anglican DNA.

FW Ken
March 24, 2010

He’s missing the point (several, really).

Homosexualist ideologues are on a mission from their god to bring the Truth to their benighted world. Specifically, Episcopalian homosexualists will not rest while any voice remains to contradict their desperate desire for approval, not of their persons, but of their behavior. These are True Believers who will never tolerate heretics.

Smurf Breath
March 24, 2010

How could a former secretary of state be so naive?

Optimist
March 24, 2010

Smurf Breath, there haven’t been many SoS’s lately who HAVEN”T been naive. I had high hopes for Condi, but I think George Schultz is the last one I would trust.

Churchmouse
March 24, 2010

With respect, what is former Sec. Baker missing? TEC has had ‘The Episcopal Church welcomes you’ signs ever since I was a child. That’s how I was drawn to them from the Catholic Church!

I figured everyone was welcome, although I hadn’t quite entertained the wide-net welcome to people who make up the new TEC congregations. (‘Chaos theory’ is right.)

I would just like my church back, pretty please, with trad prayers on top!

Seriously, though — is there church discipline in TEC or do Anglicans (I’m C of E now) welcome serious sinners in the hope that they will repent? There’s the $64,000 Question. If you have thoughts, I would appreciate reading them. Thanks in advance!

Larry
March 24, 2010

Sec. Baker represents the sentiments of most current members of the Episcopal Organization. They have supported the EO for the past 70 years or more and they do not want to leave the organization even though they know it is corrupt.

But since they have financially contributed millions to the existence of EO, they cannot cut the ties.

EO headquarters knows about this loyalty and now matter how much Schori and others dump on these loyal pew sitters, these folks refuse to leave.

Branford
March 24, 2010

Churchmouse, there is no TEC discipline except against those of orthodox or even just traditional belief. Most Anglicans in Africa and Asia do welcome all as sinners in the hope and expectation they will repent. I can’t speak for Europe or the U.K., but I have a feeling they are more in the TEC mode.

Gator
March 24, 2010

The only little problem is that Baker’s idea doesn’t fit the tactic of “conversation around the table” that is the modus operandi of TEo.

Episcopal Life news is reporting the obvious from the House of Bishops meeting: The theologians charged with writing a unified report on sexuality “determined early on in their study that it was not possible to present one paper on the subject.”
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_121098_ENG_HTM.htm

We should not let the obviousness of this statement keep us from feeling its impact. It is *not possible* to present a unified report.

The quote goes on: “So the conversation continues with two very divergent views, which in my mind, shows where we are as a church on the matter of same-sex relationships.”

“So the conversation continues” on the subject on which it is *not possible* to agree. And the conversation will go on until the last troglodytes have been worn down to silence.

The so-called progressives don’t have to agree to disagree. They won and it’s just a mopping up operation now.

Mark
March 24, 2010

Sec. Baker represents the sentiments of most current members of the Episcopal Organization.

Very likely. He also represents the demographics: he turns 80 next month.

Churchmouse
March 24, 2010

Thanks, Branford, for your response — much appreciated!

Katherine
March 24, 2010

First problem: “respect for the good faith of the other.” No conservative or traditionalist could possibly consider TEC central or almost all of the bishops to be acting in good faith, not after all the lawsuits and depositions and property grabs. To try to have a moratorium on all that would be like the battered spouse believing that this time he really will stop the beatings.

Secondly, all those liberal bishops are going to use the considerable tools at their disposal to get rid of any conservative clergy and to prevent any new conservative ordinations. Nice conservative parish you’ve got today, but it won’t stay that way.

I share Sec. Baker’s sorrow over the loss of our church. It’s not coming back, not under the TEC umbrella anyhow. Gone. Accept that.

Dale Matson
March 24, 2010

“Seriously, though — is there church discipline in TEC or do Anglicans (I’m C of E now) welcome serious sinners in the hope that they will repent?” I do not believe the word repent is in the vocabulary any more. the closest translation would be “live into”.

The Little Myrmidon
March 24, 2010

“Parishes that voted in favor of same-sex blessings/ordinations could be referred to by one designation and those voting against by some other designation.

Don’t go there.

GB
March 24, 2010

Churchmouse, the Episcopal Church is not the C of E. The attitude of Sec. Baker is outside-the-box so far as to be almost in another galaxy. The idea that the Church is just a collection of people who can put doctrine to a vote at any time, and change it if they so desire, is exactly how the Church got into the present situation. If you don’t believe that the New Testament and the Creeds are true as written then you are not really a Christian–only a sinner who needs to repent. And nobody’s vote is ever going to change that fact.

FW Ken
March 24, 2010

I will admit to a fantasy that people like Sec. Baker – power brokers, movers and shakers, money men – will get fed up with the shenanigans of Schori and her lot and pull the plug. Can’t you see them calling her and her pet chancellor into a paneled room, offering her a nice sherry, then announcing that she’s resigning immediately and a less embarrassing presiding bishop will replace her. Those folks probably don’t care about theology, but the woman is a political disaster.

It won’t happen: in the first place, Schori is the symptom, not so much the disease. Moreover, I’m not sure those old-line, frozen chosen, hard-core power brokers are really there anymore. Baker may be a fairly rare phenomenon, and may not really even be the kind of player I’m talking about.

dwstroudmd
March 24, 2010

The bishops have spoken in 94 pages of two different irreconcilable positions – see http://www.collegeforbishops.org/assets/1145/ss_document_final.pdf . They did this in the Virginia Report, too, before Vickie Gene or Mary got their non de plumes. But that is Thucydides deja vu, is it not?

Needless to say, George Wayne was on this “House of Bishops Theology Committee” (sic) and it, by two reports, demonstrates two gospels. One really does wonder if his theology changed from room to room – which, after all, are geographically distinct places.

“We are convinced, however, that the church needs to move to a better place than we currently occupy.” The Epilogue.

I’d suggest to the Truth revealed in the Church Catholic for two thousand years for starters.

One understands John Chrysostom better now, doesn’t one?

FW Ken
March 24, 2010

Dale Matson –

I think I read “repent” when the topic was racism, homophobia, or global warming.

But I could be wrong.

Fuinseoig
March 24, 2010

Okay, I can see one problem with that approach, and it’s something along the lines of what happened in this country with the divorce referenda.

Parish A votes on the same-sex blessings bit; it splits 60% against, 40% in favour. That settles it? Oh, no, no, no. The pro-justice group girds its loins and declares its determination to carry on campaigning for the civil rights of LGBT persons to marry in church. They manage to get another vote taken in a year or so. This time it’s 58% against, 42% for. Encouraged by this, they get yet another vote in another year or two.

This time it’s 51% for same-sex blessings, 49% against. Satisfied with such a huge majority in favour (yes, I’m being sarcastic, but that’s exactly the breakdown what got divorce legalised over here), the pro-LGBT marriage crowd say that the matter is now settled once and for all, the Spirit has spoken, justice has been achieved, vox populi vox Dei, and if any nasty knuckle-draggers out there think they’re going to get another vote on the topic in a year’s time, the Winter Olympics will be held around Satan’s throne first. Joe and Bill are getting married in St. Tiggywinkle’s by the Bay next Tuesday and that’s the end of it.

That’s how the “local option” approach would work out in practice.

William Tighe
March 24, 2010

This guy is one of the “benefactors” of Luke 22:25, who wants to think of religion in wholly secular terms, and to treat it as such, because he has no other frame of reference: it offers “spiritual” consolation to all and sundry, and institutionally it defers to the likes of him. No doctrinal or moral traditions can be allowed to trump this.

Dante once wrote “Ahi, Costantin, di quanto mal fu matre, non la tua conversion, ma quella dote
che da te prese il primo ricco patre!”

but if Dante could write that about the effect of wealth on the See of Rome, what might he not have written about the Erastian masterpiece of Great Harry and Bess the Bastard, and about how in it the whole Christian Gospel must yield to worldly statecraft.

William Tighe
March 24, 2010

PRIVATE NOTE:

Fuinseoig,

I must have been mad on that other thread, thinking my Grandpa came from Co. Meath, when you know and I know that Muntirconnaught is in Co. Cavan. From 1981 to 83 I combed through Meath parish records looking for those Tighes, thinking they must be from near Slane, since the one story that came down for 65 years to me was that when he was a lad they would “go to where the battle was fought” and throw dried turds at “the monument to William of Orange” — the obelisk that was “mysteriously” blown up in 1923. Then on a weekend visit to Dublin in 1984 in the National Archives I called up the parish register for Muntirconnaught, and it all became clear …

Sinner
March 25, 2010

In effect, Baker’s proposal doesn’t just ask Smith to lie, it orders him to.

No. When Smith visits those three parishes, it orders him to tell the truth

Of course, even if temporarily reduced to preaching a gospel he hates,
the parishes don’t want one minute of Smith’s time, and won’t send him
one cent if tribute.

There is a local option. A Christian local option. It’s called ACNA.

Sparky
March 25, 2010

KAOS THEORY indeed,

I know Maxwell Smart, and you, James Baker III, are no Maxwell Smart.

Excuse me, I must answer my shoes. Shori is calling on one and Bishop Duncan on the other. I wonder, which shoe should I drop?

The young fogey
March 25, 2010

IOW Baker wants Episcopalianism to be congregationalist, which in parish polity it sort of is. The liberals running it will pretend to tolerate a few semi-conservatives so their bishops can keep having tea with the Queen every 10 years but to his proposal they’ll play high church and say they’re not congregationalist. And they would make perfect ecclesiological sense as Chris seems to say. Just like Rome and Orthodoxy don’t put doctrine up to a vote by congregation. A parish where I’ve been a happy part-timer once said the Catechism of Trent was its standard of doctrine. That’s great. But on whose authority?

Regrettably it’s long not been true that every church with RC on the sign is a spiritual home for real Catholics. Pope Benedict is working to make it so again. Many American ones for years have been Episcopal minus WASP culture.

I don’t care if Episcopalianism stays in business either (it closed in my town and nearby ones) but like with all religions I defend its rights to govern itself and to its property. The only really newsworthy things it can do now would be to apostasise by becoming unitarian or go out of business. Selling a church building to Muslims comes close though.

Don Janousek
March 25, 2010

So each group of people in each particular building will determine the Truth by majority vote? Seems to me this will involve alot of moving around because the minority will then say “To heck with this,” and move across town to the other building where the folks there voted their way. Of course, the minority from the other building will have already moved to the building in another town where the folks in that building have voted their way. After hundreds or thousands of migrations back and forth, the Episcopos will end up with an church structure which consists ofs building full of pro-homosex folks and some other buildings full of anti-homosex folks. Then the pro-homosex folks will sue the anti-homosex folks to take away their buildings. HEY! Wait a minute! They’re right back where they started and exactly where they are today. No need for the former Sec’s plan after all. Jeepers!

Ed the Roman
March 25, 2010

Baker was good at running election campaigns and was better than Madeleine Albright as Secretary of State.

Dale Matson
March 25, 2010

FW Ken
Yes, I stand corrected. I doubt that most TEC leadership would still acknowledge original sin. Their idea of repentance would not even be related to sin against God but against humans and environment.

Dale Matson
March 25, 2010

The young fogey
“I don’t care if Episcopalianism stays in business either (it closed in my town and nearby ones) but like with all religions I defend its rights to govern itself and to its property.”
The following would make a good church history essay question in 2020. “Compare and contrast the following two religious sects: TEC and the Shakers

FW Ken
March 25, 2010

The Shakers were celibate and died out. The Episcopalians weren’t celibate and died out.

End of story.

unreconstructed rebel
March 25, 2010

FW Ken:

In either case, it was a matter of not knowing what your parts are for.

midwestnorwegian
March 25, 2010

Seems like he just described exactly what we all just came through the past 30 years. So, actually it is a very ANGLICAN response.

James, give it a rest. It’s the duplicity of people like you that had a large part in killing the “church”.

You also don’t get the absolute evil that has taken over the organization. Resistance is futile.

Janjan
March 25, 2010

Nice “WASPY” response.

“As long as we have a decent choir we’ll be alright.Lets all just move on and have a G&T. Say Worthington, who was that Blonde I saw you with at the Club?”

Mark Windsor
March 25, 2010

How could a former secretary of state be so naive?

Smurfy, you need to go back and look at our foreign policy since 1960. Even Kissenger’s real-politik had moments of real-naivete.

Michael D
March 25, 2010

Baker represents a significant population of residual Anglicans who think we should “go back to the old days when liberals and conservatives just accepted each other”. He is harking back to a few decades ago when faithful Anglicans (and I use that term in the very minimalist sense of Anglicans who understood that being faithful might involve some inconvenience) were politically influential. It was not good then (look what it led to) and it would not be good now. Not that the liberals, now in power, would entertain such an option (think “homophobia is a sin,” “abortion is a blessing,” “voting against Glasspool is contrary to canons”).

It is a bit like the cheating husband saying to his wife “we need to be more tolerant: I will tolerate your conservative views on fidelity, and you will tolerate my liberal views on fidelity.” It has a transparently thin veneer of even-handedness, but it represents complete capitulation to the liberal views.

But of course the free-sex unitarians now in charge have little interest in being liberal. They want the conservatives out so that they can sell their buildings to the muslims and use the proceeds to pay their high-priced lawyer bills.

Baker, given his illustrious career, should be more savvy.

Janjan
March 25, 2010

“But of course the free-sex unitarians now in charge”

That’s a good point. Why aren’t they in the Unitarian Club, where they belong?

Fuinseoig
March 25, 2010

Dr. Tighe, I will nobly refrain from the Cavan jokes (and you don’t know how much of a struggle that is).

Though I did see in one study of Edgar Allan Poe that his forebears also came from Co. Cavan, so should you yourself find that you are either addicted to alcohol, Gothic poetry, or dying in penury, this would explain matters.

:-)

Brize
March 25, 2010

If someone asks me “What do Episcopalians believe?” I will probably respond “What? DO Episcopalians believe?”

The Bovina Bloviator
March 25, 2010

Old-line WASPs are just about a vanished species from the Episcopal Church, those still there are in their late seventies and above; another twenty years and that will be it. Whatever their insipid theology, most of those old Episcopalian were a decent sort, upholders of fair play and good sportsmanship, representatives of a bygone era. Those with whom I was friendly at my former Episcopal parish, at least those who didn’t quickly change the subject when it came up, were utterly bewildered at what had happened to the church of their ancestors but chose to stick it out. They never realized their wishy-washy theology was the means by which the innovators invaded and infected their beloved church.

The old WASPs are getting the last laugh however. I lost count the times my former rector, in his frequent appeals for upped pledging from a decreasing congregation, would announce that expectations from a recently deceased patriarch or matriarch had come to naught, despite assurances from the departed they were forthcoming.

Dale Matson
March 25, 2010

FW Ken,
Wrong, not end of story. They both liked furniture.

LaVallette
March 25, 2010

Variation on a theme:

“we do not hold to any common moral or theological principles. We are Episcopalians”

But then the Gospels say “”Every kingdom divided against itself is ruined. A house divided against itself falls.”

The Little Myrmidon
March 25, 2010

“What do Episcopalians believe?” and he replies, “Depends on what building you’re in,” that is not a selling point.

No, no, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

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