Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Episcopal Church Welcomes You? Politics Makes Interesting Bedfellows

The Episcopal Church has always taken great pride in its democratic principles and practices. In fact, the decision to establish a Presiding Bishop and not an Archbishop was one of the clear indications that The Episcopal Church would not import the feudalistic policies of the Mother Church. Having spent a couple of wars trying to establish itself as a republic of The People, it wasn't going to reverse all that work and re-establish the structures Americans in the Anglican tradition had spent so much effort breaking off.

Ah, but things have changed. Suddenly all those old prelate fears have been tossed to the wayside. TEC is suddenly top-down hierarchy and it's all about the BISHOPS! Now, that's quite astonishing on its own, but to see the Diocese of Virginia, the bedrock of low church polity where Anglo Catholics were literally driven across the Potomac to have their stone altars and swinging incense is quite simply astonishing. Next thing we know, we're going to start bowing to royal supremacy again.

Here's what Bishop David Anderson writes this week:
Many denominations which have always portrayed themselves as non-hierarchical are suddenly wanting to take rights away from local congregations where property and bank accounts are concerned.
Why the interest?

Because churches join a denominational structure, or create such, to further the ministry of the local church, but once formed, the denominational structure becomes interested in power and position, and they see the local churches as their own property. It is the ecclesial example of Lord Acton’s saying, "…power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely…"
And now we have these other denominational groups joining up with the Episcopalians including - yes, the Seventh Day Adventists and the Methodists and the Presbyterians whom now have decided they are far more like the Roman Catholics after all. Or as Shakespeare once wrote, “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” Pass the pillows please.

Bishop Anderson continues
If they are joining the litigation on TEC’s side, are they are afraid that their own people might want to leave? They have inadvertently given testimony against themselves, and their own churches should take careful note.
We are quite sure that the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran laity are paying careful close attention indeed.


Kevin said...
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Kevin said...
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Perpetua said...

Interesting irony. Movements that start out as expressing the will of the people eventually develop bureaucracies that then take the power away from the people.

This certainly fits in with the disdain for democracy PB Schori expressed in the Lambeth press conference.

Matthew said...

She likes democracy. Really. And she will continue running people out of her organization until she gets a democracy that is in total agreement with her.

Anonymous said...

I wish that I could agree that the Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran laity are paying attention.

I also wish that the Episcopal laity were paying close attention. Unfortunately, most of the laity in any sect are focused on their own home church. If there are no leaders in those home churches to raise the alarm, then the laity will be navel gazing...


Anonymous said...

Bp Anderson's larger point -- about the potential of power to corrupt, or at least to distort the focus of religious organizations -- is a good one, although it's worth noting that one doesn't need a state or national organization to be corrupted.

The testimony against themselves point though makes little sense.

BabyBlue said...

Anon, I think was David is alluding to is the position they will take in court on Wednesday. The Methodist and Presbyterian and Lutheran laity should listen very carefully/.

As we've seen at the last meeting of the Methodist's General Conference, the Methodist laity are listening.