So a raft of Bishops from Traditional, Conservative and even some moderate Churches are boycotting the Dublin Primates conference. While I am sad that they won’t be represented,and concerned that moderate and doctrinally conservative theology may be under-represented in Dublin, I guess I am not surprised.
Their stated reason for not attending seems to be the attendance of the Primate of ECUSA. Having very very briefly met Katharine Jefferts Schori at a Diocesan Clergy event I found her quite abrasive; perhaps she was having an off day, but her manner at the event was of disinterest and slightly stand-offish. Having said that it must very difficult to be in her shoes at that sort of event.
Readers of this blog will no that I am not a huge fan of The Episcopal Church of the USA (ECUSA or TEC) which ever acronym you prefer. Despite what you might think, my unease about TEC is not to do directly with the wider debate on Sexuality and the Priesthood or even the person of their Primate. Please don’t pigeon hole me on that one.
There are several things about the TEC that concern me. The most important one is the way in which the Church as been moving further away from core-doctrine since the mid-1970s. The increased emphasis on Social Action would be to be applauded if it weren’t matched by a matched decrease in Gospel mission. Their current Primate has more than once declared her own unease with the idea of Christianity as the only way to know God, with the concept of salvation and with the need or indeed any understanding of personal redemption in Christ. In short what the the TEC claims to stand for doesn’t look a lot like the historic Christianity we’ve inherited through Scripture, Reason and Tradition.
As members of the Worldwide Anglican Communion the TEC have also repeatedly shown a complete dis-regard for their Anglican brothers and sisters as we have sought to put measures in place to give time to bring healing and to explore together the issues that face the communion as a whole. Resolutions and agreements are nodded at by TEC and then merrily ignored.
Now to tar an entire church with one brush would be unfair. Much as the shenanigans of Synod often fail to have any bearing on the daily lives and mission of the Parishes in the CofE, I am sure that most members of Episcopal Churches in the USA are believers genuinely seeking god for his will for their life. Most priests in ECUSA churches are humble servants of God seeking to Lead more like Christ and lead more to Christ.
My sadness with TEC is how they behave on a corporate level. The continued bullying of more evangelical and traditionally orthodox churches within their own Dioceses, the way they seem to want to hold an axe over the rest of the communion and The legal recourse the TEC continue to pursue against their Churches that have the courage to stand up to the loss of doctrine within the TEC.
None of these are markers of a Church that is holding true to that triple foundation of Scripture, Reason and Tradition.
All of that said, I am not sure that boycotting an event like the Dublin meeting is helpful. The BCP exthols us each Sunday to pray that God will:
inspire continually the universal church with the spirit of truth, unity and concord
that we may:
agree in the truth of thy holy word and live in unity and godly love
Somehow we seem to have forgotten that in recent years.
Perhaps what is needed for is for us to somehow recover Cramner’s heart on this one. Stop pointing at the splinters in our colleagues eyes, and spend some time seeking the truth of His Holy Word.