Episcopal ‘Dissidents’

I heard about this on the radio this morning–yes I said radio, they do still work–and had to look it up. I found this article entitled Episcopal Diocese Wants ‘Abandoned’ Churches Back

Here’s a quote that troubles me:

“Because we believe that God’s promises to his people continue to be reliable, we will seek the return of the churches of the Diocese of Virginia that are occupied by dissidents,” Virginia Bishop Peter Lee said in a letter to the diocese on Thursday.

Here’s another one from the Washington Post:

The dispute is part of a much broader, years-long conflict between a minority group of conservatives and the Episcopal Church, which is the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion. The congregations think church leadership does not follow a proper reading of Scripture, particularly on the issue of homosexuality.

There are several things I see here that really bother me.

1. The use of the word ‘dissident’
The last time I heard that word it was in reference to guys like Sakarov and Alexander Solzehynitzen–you know, by the KGB of the USSR (READ large Athiest nation with nuclear weapons.) I know that now its just plain old Russia but the conotations are still the same. A dissident isn’t just someone who bucks the status quo, they are people who stand for something that goes completely against what the group in power represents. I was under the impression that the ‘dissidents’ broke away because the others elected a gay bishop in addition to some other very liberal takes on things like the Bible.

2. Litigation among church members is shameful.
I mean these folks still call themselves Christians but one group (the liberals) are suing the other group (the conservatives) to regain the properties where the breakaway churches meet. One of the quotes that explains why they are doing this: “In the structure of the Episcopal Church, individuals may come and go but parishes continue.” I have to say that I can appreiate this in that it is their polity. Thats how they do things, apparently. Some do not seem to agree with it.

3. The SBC could be next
What really bothers me about all this is that the ‘conservative’ group are being demonized for standing up for Biblical principles. Brace yourself folks, its going to happen more and more. I’ve read articles about Baptists having the same issues in churches that have gone to the Purpose Driven ‘model’ or whatever. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that trouble is brewing. And while I realize that there is a ‘conservative’ group in control of the SBC right now, there still seems to be are great number of folks who are making a lot noise along the lines of how wide the tent is and things like that. I don’t know how its going to work out.

I think that all these Southern Baptists in the SBC who are blowing the separation trumpet should realize that this is the sort of thing that we are facing should there be a major split in the SBC. Seminaries, church property, Convention properties are all going to be in question. Church properties not so much as they are, for the most part, owned by the local congregations. However, there are a whole bunch of church plants that receive funding for rental fees or who rely on local Association or NAMB funding to pay for their meeting places.

If it goes past the bombastic rhetoric stage that we saw last year I think it’s going to get ugly.

4. Go figure
I still can’t figure out where they get anything remotely accepting of homosexuality out of any portion of the Bible. Hey I’ve read the thing too.

4 responses to “Episcopal ‘Dissidents’

  1. Josh,

    I remember something like this happening when the PCA split off from the PC USA. I think you’re right to recognize that individual church properties of SBC churches are not at stake. There is a benefit to our polity from a financial autonomy standpoint, even if it somewhat hampers church discipline for other areas.

    I don’t like the word “dissidents” either. What is the standard they use to determine who is the dissident and who is the conformist? It certainly isn’t the Bible.

  2. It appears that the ‘dissidents’ disagree with the church at large about “a proper reading of the Bible.” Luther was a dissident, I gather, just from what reading I have done on him. It also appears that you and I could be dissidents–from a certain point of view…

  3. Ned Carmody-South Carolina

    It is all about how we define words. Our founding -fathers were considered terrorists by the birtish crown. I would bet that the FBI would consider them the same today.

  4. Perception, perception–it all depends on which side of the DMZ you’re standing Ned. In all reality the Colonies were the property of the Crown they were just dissatisfied with…well everything. The Declaration of Independence lays that out pretty well.

    I’d also like to point out that this is a property dispute, not a doctrinal one. No one, as far as I can see, has met to determine who’s position is better supported by scripture.

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