The Episcopal Church finally does something useful

I know I tend to be a trifle negative about the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church, implying, at times, that they are nothing but the sub-Christian, desiccated remains of once influential denominations that do little more than give Christianity a bad name, make a laughing stock of their congregants and bring grief and misery to anyone who questions what they see as their divinely appointed mission to empty Christianity of metaphysical coherence.

But today, all that has changed!

Michael Curry, presiding Bishop of TEC, has truly seen into the mind of God and is forging a new path to a future glowing brightly with the transcendent luminosity of harmony, truth and justice. He has signed an amicus brief urging the high court to allow men to use women’s toilets and vice versa. The New Jerusalem is upon is.

Read it all here:

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings are the lead signers on an amicus brief filed March 2 by 1,800 clergy and religious leaders in a U.S. Supreme Court case involving transgender-bathroom use policies.

The “friend of the court” brief comes in the case of G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, which the American Civil Liberties Union and its Virginia chapter filed on behalf of Gavin Grimm and his mother, Deirdre Grimm, in June 2015.

The signers urge the high court to see that the ability to live in a country that guarantees transgender equality is a religious freedom issue. They said their faith communities have approached issues related to gender identity in different ways, but are “united in believing that the fundamental human dignity shared by all persons requires treating transgender students like Respondent Gavin Grimm in a manner consistent with their gender identity.”

The Anglican problem condensed into two words – for me

Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, tells us that marrying same-sex couples will continue in TEC because it is not contrary to the core doctrine of the church.

More specifically, he says that “For me, marriage is not part of core doctrine”. Therein lies the problem: he is unconcerned whether marriage is actually part of core doctrine or not because for him it isn’t. Truth is relative, doctrine is solipsistic, what is doctrine for me may not be for you. Objective truth doesn’t exist or is, at best unknowable and irrelevant – at least, it is for him.

No matter how heavily they disguise it as piety, the fact remains that TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada have constructed their own perverse doctrinal house of cards; it is already falling about their ears and the faster if falls, the more furiously the bishops, like demented gargoyles, hack at the foundations.

To look on the bright side, though: But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD

From here (my emphasis):

Many believed that marriage is part of core doctrine.  No individual church can change core doctrine.  Many felt that the expansion of who may be married on our part was a change in church doctrine.  Therefore it was in part on that basis that many felt that we had overstepped our authority as a province. I didn’t agree with that but I respect that that was the understanding of many.  For me, marriage is not part of core doctrine. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is core doctrine.  The doctrine of who Jesus Christ is – wholly God and wholly human – is doctrine.  The articles of the Creeds are doctrine.  The Holy Scriptures and the Old and New Testament are core doctrine.  Other sections of the Chicago– Lambeth Quadrilateral are core doctrine. Marriage is a sacramental right, it is a solemn and sacred matter of faith and practice.  But it is not core doctrine.

Justin Welby and the Dead Parrot

There have been numerous articles – here is an example – written about Justin Welby’s attempt to inject an illusory aura of unity into something that has been decomposing since it expired in 2003: the Anglican Communion. Rowan Williams tried to do this too by channelling Hegel; he failed miserably – does anyone remember the Covenant? – and retreated to academia.

Justin Welby is inviting the Anglican primates to a “special gathering” in January 2016 to “look afresh at our ways of working as a Communion”.

The Anglican Church of Canada has its own parochial perspective on all this. In a 2012 visit to see Justin Welby, Fred Hiltz expressed his “ongoing concern about efforts by the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to be recognized by the Church of England”. The last thing the rapidly dwindling Anglican Church of Canada needs is more competition from another Anglican Province in North America – one that is recognised by Canterbury. Hiltz’s worst fears may be coming to a nail-biting climax since ACNA’s Foley Beach has been invited to the January 2016 gathering; it looks likely that he will attend. The Anglican Journal sees this as “fuelling the controversy”, omitting the obvious fact that the controversy was ignited by Hiltz and Jefferts-Shori in the first place when they decided to promote same-sex blessings in spite of strenuous protests from the rest of the Communion:

Fuelling the controversy was an invitation extended by Welby to Archbishop Foley Beach, head bishop of the Anglican Church in North America, to be present for part of the meeting.

Welby points out:

We each live in a different context.

“The difference between our societies and cultures, as well as the speed of cultural change in much of the global north, tempts us to divide as Christians: when the command of scripture, the prayer of Jesus, the tradition of the church and our theological understanding urges unity. A 21st-century Anglican family must have space for deep disagreement, and even mutual criticism, so long as we are faithful to the revelation of Jesus Christ, together.

If that sounds like the old familiar Anglican Fudge it’s probably because it is. The ACoC and TEC are not “faithful to the revelation of Jesus Christ”. That has always been the problem, is still the problem and unless Jesus returns before January will almost certainly continue to be the problem.

Happily, the GAFCON primates, having already been fed Anglican Fudge to the point of gagging, see what is going on perfectly clearly and have issued something that is quite unfamiliar to Western Anglicans: a lucid statement. It contains this:

It is on this basis that the GAFCON Primates will prayerfully consider their response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter. They recognize that the crisis in the Communion is not primarily a problem of relationships and cultural context, but of false teaching which continues without repentance or discipline.

For my part, I am somewhat indifferent to the outcome of the “special gathering”. My main interest is to be a part of an institution that is easily identifiable as a Christian Church, something that, while sober, I could not accuse the Anglican Church of Canada of.

I just wish I could be in the room when the GAFCON primates tell Fred Hiltz and Michael Curry that they must repent of their false teaching.