06 September 2008

Ackerman and Beckwith pontificate

As many of you probably know, on 30 August 2008, there was a join meeting of the Diocese of Springfield and Diocese of Quincy presided over by Bishops Ackerman and Beckwith.

The purpose of the meeting was a “forum for assessment rather than a decision making body.” However, it was a mandatory “joint meeting of the clergy and lay leadership” from both dioceses.

The meeting began with both bishops praising GAFCON and denouncing Lambeth. Both bishops are outspoken critics of TEC, so there is nothing new in their propaganda.

One of the interesting comments was made by +Beckwith who complained that the Episcopal Church (and the average Episcopalian) is “really congregationalist.”

This is news to me – I thought our name was the Episcopal Church, not the Congregational Church. We have bishops, Congregationalists do not, and each parish is answerable to the diocese and bishop, both things not present in the Congregational church.

I suspect what the bishop means is, “the polity of The Episcopal Church, does not grant me enough power to do and act as a prince.”

The reporter, whose name was not given, but was one of the participants, said

Strong evangelical Protestant themes reverberated throughout the roughly four hour session. "Turn it all over to Jesus", "Prayer and discernment of the guidance of the Holy Spirit' etc.

The reporter noticed an interesting contrast between the two bishops. While Bishop Ackerman's tone was pastoral, Bishop Beckwith's was confrontational. An example of that confrontational nature is the following from Beckwith:

"TEC and the Anglican communion are in crisis." Lambeth's statements tried to state where the communion is presently at. The Indaba groups while in some ways helpful - were clearly worthless - if listening meant listening to liberals.

GAFCON however, with over 1,000 invited participants and 325 bishops was wonderful to both bishops.

So, listening to the opposite views is “clearly worthless.” Now, how about that; the Windsor report recommends that we listen to one another and the fundamentalists refuse to listen to anything but their own bleating.

Beckwith kept up the vitriolic attack:

[What is the] Heterodoxy of the Episcopal Church - no Virgin Birth of Christ, no Physical Resurrection, Any way, Any truth, Any life. TEC and its leadership are obsessed with a New Age self-centeredness and exclusively preoccupied with Social Justices issues. TEC preaches an "experimental (or was it experiential) Jesus'. Truth is what you think it is, and we're invited to make God in OUR own images.

Bishop Beckwith concluded that he is growing less optimistic that the Anglican Communion will survive.

I wonder where Beckwith worships? Perhaps in his diocese the church does not believe in the virgin birth or the physical resurrection, but I can tell him that in El Camino Real that is taught and believed. There are some individuals and even pockets where these beliefs are doubted, but in TEC our catechism plainly states what we believe. And, each Sunday (at least Sundays) we all affirm that belief in the Apostles’ or Nicene Creeds.

I haven’t observed anyone in any congregation with which I’ve worshipped holding a hand behind their body, fingers crossed as they say the creed. Beckwith is just spouting the party line propaganda of the fundamentalists.

As for obsession, the “liberals” seem to be obsessed with listening to the Holy Spirit while the fundamentals are obsessed with sex – or rather, one particular form of sex. When was the last time you heard a liberal going on at length to describe what heterosexuals do in the privacy of their home?

During a general forum, several interesting questions were asked. Fr. Desmond Francis, Christ the King in Normal, IL, made four suggestions:

1. 'Stop reacting to the perceived enemy. Proact, and discern the leading of the Holy Spirit'.

2. 'Why don't we take the Risk of inviting Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori - who is banned from stepping foot in these dioceses - here, [ to this diocese] to speak. We would ask of her, what is her intention and mind for the Episcopal Church?; i.e. have a conversation with her’.

3. 'Take the following 60 - 90 days for prayer and spiritual discernment following that meeting with her'.

4. 'Then decide either to remain in the Episcopal Church or go under another province of the Anglican communion'.

The sound of crickets chirping was the answer as both bishops had no response whatsoever. They do not want “that woman” in their respective dioceses.

A layman asked about the possibility that both dioceses would be merged into one. Bishops Beckwith and Ackerman categorically stated that there would be no consolidation. Period. Bishop Beckwith predicted that there would be more dioceses that would merge, notably in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Kansas.

Now pay attention to this bit:

Bishop Beckwith further stated that 'we are really Anglicans, and only Episcopalians because we live here [in the U.S.] He elaborated at length about issues of Ecclesiology - 'What is the Church?" 'What is the role of Scripture?'

I must disagree with the bishop: we are Episcopalians because we belong to the Episcopal Church. We are not Anglicans. We do follow the Anglican tradition, though.

Following his logic, I am really British, I just happen to live in the U.S. and have U.S. citizenship by virtue of birth. Because I follow many British customs, I'm British. The reality is that I’m an American Anglophile. There is a huge difference.

Beckwith’s sympathies do not reside with Anglicanism. The sect which he extols is a fundamentalist sect. Fundamentalistism was rejected by Anglicans in the 1500s.

After stating that, Beckwith stated categorically that he will not leave TEC and remain canonically resident in TEC and the House of Bishops. That’s good; but his next statement was even better:

+Beckwith also stated that a Bishop of a diocese does not have the authority to take a diocese out of the Episcopal Church.

The reporter commented that Bishop Ackerman “uttered some agreement, not very loudly, and may have nodded his head.”

I believe the Rev. James Fackler, a retired Lutheran supply clergy in the Diocese of Springfield, asked the best question.

I have not once heard the word 'love' in the previous 3 hours' of talk. Where is love for the homosexual?

The answer came in “deafening silence.

Fackler continued by emphasizing the “enormous on-going damage that schism had caused in his own church, referring to it as having a 'killing effect' on both sides.”

Now, pay close attention to the answer given:

The episcopal response was that while God is love; that love is conditional; subject to repentance.

Did you get that? God does not love everyone. Apparently the bishops do not belive the bible. It plainly says God loves everyone without qulification. This means that the bishops are picking and chosing what parts of the bible are still valid. Oh, wait, isn't that what they accuse the liberals of doing?

A laywoman from a parish near St. Louis reiterated the call for an invitation to the Presiding Bishop, adding 'so I can hear her for myself' [the Presiding Bishop's views]. Once again, there was no response from the bishops.

So there you have it; no women, no gays, and God does not love everyone. That pretty much sums up all the GAFCON/FOCA theology.

Meanwhile, in Duncanland plans are moving ahead for the vote. The Pittsburg Tribune-Review has an article about the coming vote. You'll find that article here.