Admiral of Morality: Wrong answers

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wrong answers

The serious concerns about having Mark Lawrence as a diocesan bishop of The Episcopal Church are richly confirmed by his new answers to the bishops and diocesan standing committees that must approve him. (Lawrence's answers are posted at Thinking Anglicans.)

Throughout, he seems appalled that The Episcopal Church is asking him about anything of significance at all, as if he does not have to answer to anyone for anything.

Wrong. In order to gain consent, he must win approval by a majority of the Standing Committees and the House of Bishops, by the end of January. They are quite right to question him.

They must now be prepared to refuse consent and to make preparations for the continued pastoral care and spiritual direction of that diocese, because Lawrence cannot possibly be given consent.

His answers to legitimate questions are evasive and dismissive Network-speak. He insists that he is being asked questions because he "dares" to ask questions like, "Does the emperor have no clothes?"

Wrong. He is being asked simple questions, like, "What would you do if the diocese were to try to secede?"
I don't think that speculative questions of this nature as to what a person will do in some imagined future are either reasonable or helpful. I mean no disrespect by this, but I will say in all fairness, I can think up many such questions of an imagined future crisis that could send any of us into a conundrum of canonical contradictions.

Wrong answer. The answer is, "I will do everything in my power to stop it."

Anther simple question he is asked is, "Do you recognize Katherine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and as your Primate?"
I recognize Katherine Jefferts Schori as the legitimately elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Sadly, I also recognize that her actions as bishop of Nevada in condoning same sex blessings, for which she has expressed no regret, put her in violation of the Windsor Report and, consequently, compromise her ability to function in primatial authority and relationship. This is not merely a consequence of her stated views, (which is one thing), but her considered actions after the Primate’s Covenant in 2003, as well as subsequent Primatial Communiqués, i.e. Dromantine, regarding the bonds of affection. How one parses the difference between elected Presiding Bishop and Primatial representation is one of the ecclesial challenges that, to a greater or lesser degree, those who have asked for APO must presently grapple.

Wrong answer. The answer is, "She is the Primate of the Episcopal Church. She is the Primate of South Carolina." Why is this the right answer? Because this is what ++Katharine is.

Lawrence is being questioned because during the search for a new bishop he indicated quite clearly that as bishop he will simply reinforce divisions and hostilities. In his answers then, he said he agrees strongly that flying bishops are of no use (so the only solution is secession or separation), that the national Church is a hindrance to his ministry, and that he believes it is fine for the Church to divide over the issue of sexuality. (Thinking Anglicans has a fine page where his old answers may be read. Go here.)

Before the selection process, he wrote a piece called "In Defense of Dissociation."

There he said that the Church had abandoned the Gospel in a misguided passion to be culturally sensitive and intellectually flexible.
In its desire to be more relevant than thou, TEC has cast aside scriptural faithfulness, particularly the broad and demonstrable teachings of the New Testament that would convict our lifestyle of sin, and call into question our overly permissive approach to morality. Even more disturbing is our grave disregard of fundamental Christian doctrines such as the nature of God, the uniqueness of Christ, the integrity and unity of the Spirit's work, and the need of humankind for the redemptive work of the cross—for instance, assuming our sexual proclivities, given by nurture or nature, are, by that fact, necessarily God-given.

If Lawrence believes his Church is not Christian, then what is his point in being a bishop in it? Answer: to be in a position to remove from it, "a faithful remnant."

Would he face much opposition? Hard to say. Many clergy in the Diocese of South Carolina have long since passed from loyal dissent to outright hostility and hatred for The Episcopal Church. In fact, they voted for Lawrence, knowing full well what he has written and said.

When he lost to Lawrence, Ellis Brust, one of the other candidates the secessionists nominated as their bishop, immediately left The Episcopal Church and assumed the role of President for the Anglican Mission in America, which is not in Communion with Canterbury, and tries to absorb Episcopal parishes. Before that, he was CEO of the American Anglican Council, a group of "Episcopalians" who regularly undermine and attack the Church.

That South Carolina would nominate a person of so little fealty to their own Church, to be their bishop, does not inspire confidence in their ability to discern a positive way forward. The nomination of Brust alone is enough to warrant heightened scrutiny.

Lawrence complains in his answers that he has not demonstrated any "action" to warrant denial of consents. This is his only defense, that he hasn't yet actually divided the Church.

He's right on that score. And the Church should not give him the opportunity to do it.


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