Did Presiding Bishop Schori denounce schismatics as terrorists and murderers?

February 1, 2013

An  article bearing the by-line of George Conger carries a headline that reads, “Presiding Bishop denounces schismatics as terrorists and murderers.” Really? No kidding?  You can read it all here.

Presiding Bishop denounces schismatics as terrorists and murderers | Anglican Ink.

But is that actually what Bishop Schori said, and does it matter anyway? Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached the following sermon Jan. 26 at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.Here is a link to the text. Read it for yourself and see.

The first observation that comes to mind is that the Bishop would be well served by better press relations. It is not too comforting when your best professional defense goes something like,  “she did not identify any group in her sermon.” My goodness. Who do you suppose she was talking about? The Dallas Cowboys? The context is a special convention to set the Episcopal Diocese back in “order,” and the reference to Bishop Lawrence is obvious.

But did Bishop Schori call out Bishop Lawrence and his followers as “terrorists and murderers?” It is equally apparent that the answer is “no.” The Presiding Bishop did make reference to a downward spiral of disrespect for church authority. Her conclusion is that this kind of disregard ends up with acts of murder and terrorism. If we might begin by acknowledging that murders and terrorists cast aside respect for conventional order before turning to violence, then one may well conclude that, although it might be considered a stretch, Bishop Schori has a point. Usually the first bad deed leads to other worse offenses.

I do not agree with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church on some matters of biblical understanding, but a bishop and a bearer of God’s image deserves better treatment. Some may not be comfortable with this, but Katherine Jefferts Schori is a Bishop and the duly elected leader of The Episcopal Church. Arguments to the contrary are just that, arguments. Let me turn this around for you and pose a rhetorical question to Bishop Lawrence. When you allowed yourself to be consecrated as a bishop in The Episcopal Church, how did you think it would turn out?

And don’t tell me that you can never trust those pesky revisionists. If that is true, why were you ever making nice with them? From where Bishop Schori stands, you certainly look like a schismatic. While I do not claim to be an expert on such things, it is obvious that there is a great deal of disorder in the household of God. What must regular unchurched Americans think of this spectacle?

Those of us who think of ourselves as traditional Anglicans also suffer the ill-effects of nasty breakups. Let us consider the Anglican Mission and the Rwandan bishops. My intention is not to point fingers but to show that nobody is immune from the downward tendency of human nature. The larger Anglican Church in North America will someday have to face up to the issue of women as presbyters and the status of Anglo-Catholics. We are all subject to the negative effects of the fall. Human nature is a mess and fundamentally in opposition to the loving intentions of Almighty God.

At just the moment that this nation, and this world, urgently needs the time-honored Anglican witness, The only witness we provide is the blazing smoky, screeching, tumult of a train wreck. The chaos that we present is a public disgrace. The lack of civility and Christian patience must cause shrieks of delight within the inner sanctum of Satan’s dark kingdom.

Christians must love their enemies and pray for them. Episcopalians are not our enemies, They are fellow Christians, followers of Christ, and beset by the weaknesses that are common to all. Very many Episcopalians are mired in theological error and we are called to bring them the Good News with kindness and genuine concern. There is nothing about which traditionalists may rightly be proud. If there is any good in what we do, it is the work of the Holy Spirit and the saving blood of Jesus Christ.

Oh, yes, and if they have done wrong, that is no cause for personal judgment or arrogance. We must be an example of Christian love and work for reconciliation. It will take decades to repair the damage done by doctrinal indifference, infighting, lawsuits, and personal insult. Nonetheless, we must begin. No matter what may be the present agenda of TEC, traditionalists must act to spread the gospel, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Be hard on the error, easy on the erroneous.

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