Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A clear, refreshing voice

I love clear, straight-forward writing that cuts through the fog and says what it means in a coherent way.

Following the watershed meeting of the Anglican primates in Ireland recently, where they decided what to do about the departure of the Episcopal Church (USA) from Anglican practice, there was a lot of writing that I found rather hard to understand. What really went on? Did they agree or disagree? Did the conservative or liberal viewpoint prevail? Was the Episcopal Church (USA) decisively disciplined or not?

Trying to decipher the “explanation” by Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold just gave me a headache. What DOES he intend to communicate? How did he get THAT from what actually transpired with the other primates? One Episcopalian blogger has coined the term “Griswold-talk,” with its “meandering, mystical style” (see comment #10). While Griswold’s meanders lose me, his dizzying spin can make me lose my orientation altogether.

Into this fog steps Gregory Venables, Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone. That man can write a clear account! He recalls: “In a moment of time, at a pause in the conversation, it became obvious that the overwhelming majority of the Primates (who represent the clear majority of Anglicans around the world) were not willing to assimilate the innovations pressed by the United States and Canada into the teaching of the Communion. On the contrary, historic biblical faith was clearly going to emerge from the meeting as the conviction of the vast majority.”

What is going to happen in the Anglican Communion? Venables writes: “ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada will have to repent and conform their teaching and practice to historic and biblical faith, in order to have the broken relationship restored. If they fail to do so, the separation that is gracefully modelled in the communiqué [from the primate meeting] will become stark and formal.”

Some time ago, I advised us all to watch what happens in the Episcopal Church, because it can show us what could happen in the Presbyterian Church (USA). What has happened is this: The ECUSA decision to depart from biblical morality has caused an expected, enormous, and destructive uproar within their own denomination and has isolated them from the worldwide Anglican Communion. Fellow Anglicans from around the world have stood faithfully and will not buy the revisionism of the ECUSA.

We in the PCUSA can learn from Anglican leaders like Gregory Venables. Clarity of thought, consistency in action, and lucid communication make him stand out as a leader with integrity. We can learn from him as we overhear his conversations with his church, marking how his words and actions model congruence and faithfulness to the Bible and our Lord Jesus Christ.


Blogger PJ said...

Your affirmation, Rev. Berkley, of Bishop Gregory Venables in particular and of the Anglican bishops in the Global South in general is rather intriguing. You wrote, "We in the PCUSA can learn from Anglican leaders like Gregory Venables. Clarity of thought, consistency in action, and lucid communication make him stand out as a leader with integrity."

It's intriguing because of the contrast between Anglican and PCUSA. The Anglican conservatives are clear: defending the truth of the gospel means declaring other things are false. Not opportunities for dialogue. Not challenges to expand our limited views of God's love. They are false.

The key quote is when Bishop Venables notes "the refusal of a significant number of our colleagues even to attend the daily celebrations of the eucharist, a decision that was implemented only after much prayer and pain." They said key issues of faith and life are at issue here, and they acted like it. Another blog offered this explanation from the Southern bishops: how can we share a common table when we're not sure we share a common faith? Theological reconciliation needs to preceed liturgical reconciliation.

How different that is from the spirit of PCUSA's leading evangelicals. Consider Paul Achtemeier's comment to John Knox Presbytery: "I have come to realize that I don’t want to be a part of a church that doesn’t have Scott [Anderson] in it. Scott’s presence reminds me in a powerful way that the church is not the creation of me and my like-minded friends, but the gift of the Spirit, who distributes his gifts and graces in ways I would never conceive of on my own. Scott’s presence reminds me that baptism into Christ is not something we can wash off for the sake of separation into our comfortable little cliques." (link: http://www.jknox.org/Achtemeierpresentationtojkp.pdf)

Or consider the Presbyterians for Renewal initiative to "pray without prejudice." That action seems to place unity as the primary task of faithfulness. It's tough to see how that commitment could lead to the clear thoughts and actions reported from Ireland.

As I noted above, I rather think the Anglican conservatives know some things are true and some things are false. And they know, though no one is perfect, some ministries tend to lead to what is true and some to what is false. The eucharistic choice the Global South Bishops made leads me to suspect they have no trouble praying for the advancement of one and the hiderance of the other. Is that praying with prejudice? Or praying with conviction?

To be sure, only God knows the end from the beginning, but it looks like clear thoughts and committed actions just might renew the Anglican communion in the historic Christian faith.

7:19 AM, March 14, 2005  
Blogger KC said...

It was great to meet you this past week at Mt. Hermon Jim. Blessings, KC Wahe

8:49 PM, April 08, 2005  
Blogger KC said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:49 PM, April 08, 2005  
Blogger jkhgikjhg said...

Hi Jim. On the off chance that you'd be interested, can I send you a copy of my first book, "God Scent?"
james w. miller

3:24 AM, March 09, 2006  

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