The work of the Evil One
Consider for a moment the words and actions of so many of the Episcopal dissidents. Though they consider themselves to be acting in righteous indignation, by their fruits we know them. In Virginia and other places, often with the aid of overseas bishops who consider themselves equally righteous, they have proceeded with lies, subterfuge, and doublespeak, along an arc of division and hostility. That they consider themselves in the right, does not alter that they proceed with lies, subterfuge, and doublespeak, along an arc of division and hostility.
Also in this country, the bishops of Pittsburgh, Fort Worth and San Joaquin regularly insist they are doing nothing to divide our Church yet work actively and vocally, to foster this very thing. Their relishing of hostility and confrontation and their eagerness to heap scorn, and their lies, are perverse. That they remain bishops of our church is an outrage.
The dissidents regularly claim that their unceasing hostility for all manner of persons and positions, turns on the authority of Scripture. That they read Scripture is not in question. The question is, whose Scripture? They promote their positions on sexuality as catholic and universal but their approaches, discernment, and conclusions, are not catholic or universal. If anything they are Calvinist and Reformed. The catholic churches do not accept or promote the primacy of Scriptures on every question. In fact, The Roman Catholic Church, to give one example, bases much of its Marian theology, which is essential to it, on revelation to the Church outside of Scripture, in the course of human events.
Nor are the questions and answers the dissidents use to circumscribe their church and by which, they would try to bind ours, as fixed as the dissidents would like to believe. On the precise issue of sexual orientation, the very Scriptures these dissidents regularly promote with such enthusiasm, are by the Jewish rabbis, interpreted as they are by the Episcopal Church. These Old Testament passages are no bar to the rabbinate and in fact, are no bar to a holy life at all. Why? Because in the discernment of the rabbis, the Spirit of God has revealed to us and them, in the course of human events, that it is not.
Whose Scripture is this, then? We claim it as ours, and they claim it as theirs, the only difference being, they claim it as theirs exclusively, meaning, that their claims negate all others, and in fact, reject the fact of there being others.
It is this sort of claim that identifies many of the Episcopal dissidents as being part of the strong current of the language and actions of election, exclusion, denial, and yes, evil. This is a conclusion that must be stated, for their idle chatter is often Godless, and unchecked, can spread like a gangrene, both in themselves, and to the unknowing hearer, who, hearing, turns away from the Light, which is life.
This turning away from and rejection of the Lord's mercy and light; and the severing of the gift of fellowship in our Church, as a result of the words and/or actions of the dissidents, who work actively to see that both of these things are not possible in our church-- this is the most perverse of their actions. To their minds--stress, to their minds--they are not turning away others from the light, but in fact, are leading them on the correct path, which, they alone in our church, have discerned. Perversity upon perversity.
The dissidents purport to know without question the mind and Spirit of God so well, that they then act and behave in ways producing not the fruits of the Spirit, but the evidence of confusion and wickedness. They regularly flout love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and, their most glaring shortcoming as persons and Christians, self-control. There is no law against any of these, yet they speak and act so regularly as if there were. They act hastily, in anger, to divide, and revel in talk of battle, bullets, hostility, and harm. If this is not the work of the Evil One, it is certainly along the way to it.
And for us, what? What is to be our witness?
We must remember and put into effect the greatest commandment, the royal law; and at the same time, reject the positions and actions of those who would seek to divide based on what, to their minds--stress, to their minds--is valid. Because quite often, what they promote, in their idle chatter, is in direct contradiction to the fruits of the spirit, and hence, cannot be of the Spirit.
In the process, we must also reject acting with spiritual expediency, which would be tantamount to destroying our Church. We must act with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generoisity, faithfulness, and gentleness, because the laws of heaven require it and our own God-given reason shows these all to be true. Together these are a lamp to the world and if we do not act with them, there is no light.
We must continue to act in the fruits of the Spirit and to speak honestly and forthrightly about our experiences, discernment, and welcome. We must defend our Church, and if this means a season of litigation in some dioceses to protect and maintain what is rightfully hers for her mission, then so be it.
We do not need the permission of one single dissident to do this. We do not need their permission or approval, to protect our Church, to defend it against attacks, and to preserve its resources to carry its mission into the world. We do not need the permission of any of them, to lift high the Cross and carry before us into the world, our faith, beliefs, and lives.
This is the great and irrevocable gift of the Holy Spirit, that it fills us with the power, love and self-discipline, to do precisely these things. This Church, comes from and is, of the Holy Spirit, and so is imbued by right with the power, love and self-disciplne, to declare the Good News and be a lamp for the world.
This right cannot be taken away; or squandered by anyone except ourselves. And so we must take care, all of us who lift high the Cross and do the work of our Church in the name of the Lord, wherever we may be, to remember, that we must be about our Father's business in a way that gives glory to Him, brings people to Him, and lets us all know, that our Church, is the fruit of the Spirit.