"A New Commandment I Give You"
To my mind the report of the latest bishops' meeting at 815 is excellent. The response of at least one of the Network bishops is predictable and so American. The bishop basically said, "We have a better offer." The choleric Bishop Schofield says that our PB is an heretic. It's easy to blacken one's "enemy".The ad hominem always works in the land of the National Enquirer.
What is really being said is that TEC is in error, at least heterodox if not heretical, and the virtuous dioceses and parishes cannot come as close to TEC as the Presiding Bishop's offer suggests.
It's all politics. If one is an evangelical one can merrily go around deciding whether a person or an ecclesial institution is saved or damned, because one has no theology of the church at all. There's an invisible church, true. There are unsaved people in every church true, but the church is supposed to be a gathering of the elect.
Holding such a view -one typical of the evangelical/charismatic people in the "Global South" - it is easy to combine one's ecclesiology with one's politics. In politics one leaves a political party or joins it based on its platform and the expressed views of the leadership. So one may judge TEC and find it wanting on the basis of the agenda of the majority in General Convention or the views of the leadership.
But the faith of TEC is to be found in its Constitutional formularies. The formularies are based on the faith and doctrine expressed in the rites and ceremonies of the church to be found in the Book of Common Prayer and in the Catechism. Until these are altered in an heretical manner, the Episcopal Church is sound in doctrine and sound in worship. It is manifestly unsound in discipline as was witnessed in the consent to the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire and in illegal blessing services to couples of the same gender and the offering of communion to the unbaptized. It seems one is free to break the Canons if it is an issue of love and compassion.
If The Episcopal Church sometimes skirts its rules in order to further love, compassion, and care for real people, then we are in good company, for our Lord and Savior did these very things Himself. He did them not as a way of skirting the rules, but as a way of showing us the ultimate rule. It is the golden rule we recite every week, the new commandment He Incarnated to personally deliver--love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.
The fact of His Incarnation itself is a testament that what is controlling is the fact of His love and care for the world, which we must strive to emulate. It bears repeating, because it is so easy for us to forget it. If love, compassion, and justice come up against rules that stymie them, then we don't abandon love, compassion, and justice. We apply the Lord's supreme rule to the others, and if they conflict, we know which one trumps, because He said so. His world, His rules.
Before proceeding to read Fr. Tony's entire entry at his blog "West Virginia Parson," pause a moment to consider Fr. Tony the man, as kindly provided recently by the Rev. Elizabeth Keaton, Rector of St. Paul's, Chatham, New Jersey.
Who is Tony Clavier, you ask? Ah, let me tell you.
Tony is, first and foremost, an amazing human being. A child of God, he is the very embodiment of one who keenly understands that the treasure of the inheritance of our baptism comes from Christ and the richness of the legacy of our faith comes from the Anglican Church.
As Christians who are Anglicans, we are abundantly blessed.
Tony has paid his dues, many times over. A priest in the Church of England, he left over the ordination of women to become, for 20 years, a Bishop in the Reformed Anglican Church. After a serious illness left him hospitalized, he experienced a conversion, having been visited by a Chaplain who happened to be a woman.
As a wise person once said, there are no coincidences.
When he "confessed" his newfound faith in the ordained status of women, there ensued a scandle and controversey, which kicked him out of the church and onto the street. (See above aphorism about there being no coincidences.)
Long story short: Newly minted presiding bishop Frank Tracy Griswold recieved him and he became the Episcopal priest in charge of a flock in Arkansas.
His journey has been, for lack of a better word, interesting, if not absolutely fascinating. He is now rector of a church in West Virginia, via a short stint working for The Convocation of American Churches in Europe.
I first met Tony at a gathering of the New Commandment Task Force - back when The Episcopal Church seemed serious about reconciliation - and I instantly fell in love.
Hear me clearly: Tony and I disagree on almost every major doctrine of the Christian church. But, we love each other, pray daily for each other and absolutely cherish being priests in the same church together.
This sort of relationship has not been news or necessarily of interest for hundreds of years in the churches of the Anglican Communion. It is the sort of prayerful and Godly love of the Church and our fellow man, that has characterized it from the very beginning.
What is notable is that now in too many outposts of our beloved Communion, including The Episcopal Church, this sort of relationship is being easily and willingly sacrificed on the altar of politics. Differences of opinion have led to vices contrary to faith and charity and become the basis for some to work for and declare schism. This is sinful.
In his post, Fr. Tony locates these vices and sins where they properly belong, in a focus on politics that is alien to our Church and Communion. As a priest who began in one of our Churches, then left it, and then was warmly received into it again, his is a voice of experience and faith worth listening to.