Palmetto Anglican
Sunday, February 29, 2004
 
Primate to snub Williams over gay bishop


By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
(Filed: 01/03/2004)


Anglicanism's most senior critic of homosexuality is to embarrass the
Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, by boycotting a top-level
meeting in Canterbury today in protest over its first openly gay bishop.

The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, is refusing to attend the
meeting of Church leaders, hosted by Dr Williams, because he objects to the
presence of the leader of the liberal American Church.

The Archbishop, who heads 17 million Anglicans, is a leading opponent of
the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Frank Griswold, who
defied colleagues by leading the consecration, last November, of Canon Gene
Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

Dr Akinola, has told friends that to attend the week-long gathering of
primates and senior Church members would be a betrayal of his views and
those of a majority of Anglicans worldwide. He has described the
consecration as "a Satanic attack on the Church".

The snub is the most dramatic indication yet of the splits at the heart of
the worldwide Church, and it will fuel speculation that Archbishop Akinola
is prepared to break away and lead a rival Anglican Church.

Another critic of Bishop Griswold, the Primate of Central Africa,
Archbishop Bernard Malango, is expected to attend the meeting, but only
after issuing a scathing attack on the American Church.

The Archbishop accused the liberal leadership of the Episcopal Church of
inflicting "a desperately grave wound to the Church", warning that, if it
failed to repent, separation would be permanent for the "spiritual safety
of our people".

His comments contrasted with those of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the former
Archbishop of Cape Town and a leading liberal, who said at an Ash Wednesday
service in London last week that Anglicanism must include everyone,
regardless of their sexuality.

The latest hostilities have undermined the efforts of Dr Williams to
encourage talks between the warring parties and of the Lambeth Commission
set up in October to try to avert schism.

The commission, which is chaired by the Primate of All Ireland, Dr Robin
Eames, urged both sides last month to end their use of "strident language"
which is threatening to tear the Church apart.

Insiders say that efforts by the commission to broker a deal between the
conservatives and liberals, which could allow them to co-exist, has reached
a "stalemate".

The meeting in Canterbury of the joint committee of the Primates' standing
committee and the standing committee of the Anglican Consultative council
is not directly related to the commission, but is regarded as crucial.

 
The First Sunday in Lent.

O LORD, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.
 
A unique authority


=====================================================

T H E J O H N S T O T T D A I L Y T H O U G H T

=====================================================
February 29, 2004
Authentic Christianity
From the writings of Dr. John R. W. Stott

Ministers and Ministry (cont'd.)

671. A unique authority
It is extremely important to recover today an understanding
of the unique authority of Christ's apostles. For there
are no apostles in the contemporary church. To be sure,
there are missionaries and church leaders of different
kinds who may be described as having an 'apostolic'
ministry, but there are no apostles like the Twelve and
Paul who were eyewitnesses of the risen Lord.

--From "The Bible: Book for Today" (Leicester: IVP, 1982),
p. 32.

----------------------------------------------------
--Excerpted from "Authentic Christianity", p. 284, by
permission of InterVarsity Press.


 
WERE YOU THERE. . .?
'The Passion of The Christ'
and the Lost Art of Christian Meditation


By The Rev. Benjamin Bernier
Rector, Providence Reformed Episcopal Church, Corpus Christi, Texas

This generation owes a debt of gratitude to Mel Gibson for having dared use the power of modern media to bring before the eyes of millions the fruit of, what unfortunately has become a lost or rare art, the art of Christian meditation.

The movie begins with an ancient quotation (700 BC) from Isaiah 53:5, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." This is the theme of the movie and runs through it from beginning to end.

After the quote the movie goes on to recreate the events of our Lord's passion from the garden of Gethsemane to the resurrection, with brief flash backs to relevant material concerning the meaning of Christ's sacrifice in light of his own teaching.

Although it will surprise many, in a sense, there is nothing new in this story. It is a part of the Gospel story that every devout Christian, nourished in the historical Church, has seen in his mind eye time and time again, as he follows the Church calendar reliving in real time the various aspects of our Lord's earthly life, especially the last moments rehearsed during Holy Week.

In fact, this is a Good Friday movie. Because of that, it is bound to be misunderstood by a culture which has lost sight of the reality and meaning of Good Friday in its context on the Gospel story and its implications for the World. Just like Good Friday, this movie is the kind of experience that should be undertaken only after due preparation.

I believe this is the greatest problem that this movie may present. It will probably take millions of viewers unfortunately unprepared. Since people seldom read any more, and those who read do not meditate, even many Christians' acquaintance with the Gospel's story is superficial and incomplete. Therefore, many viewers will leave the theater in complete shock.

It was interesting that at 5:30 p.m. of the Thursday after Ash Wednesday the audience in the packed theater, appeared to me some how unusual. It gave me the impression that the movie had drawn all sorts of people, even those who had not been to the movies in years. There were also many families (with children), some of which, seemed to me, were there as if they were coming to a Friday youth meeting or summer camp. They were ready with bowls of popcorn and soda in hand eagerly waiting to participate from holy Christian entertainment.

It will not surprise me to hear that they were shocked or disappointed. This is not an entertaining movie. I know that every one around me cried with me, and I have no idea of any other reaction to the movie as the people abandoned the theater in solemn silence.

The contrast between before and after was clearly visible. As I was coming out I noted a new full line of people chatting, with their share of popcorn and soda, while they waited for the theater to be cleaned to enter for the next showing. I could feel the weight of their scanning as they unsuccessfully searched for feed back the unusually silent crowd departing from the theater. "Another round of unprepared people," I thought.

But what can one say? They will only find out how unprepared they were if after the movie they decide to go to a church that understands the value of Christian meditation and learn to read the Gospel with contemplative eyes. Then they will realize that all that brutality has been actually there in the Gospel Story, all the while, with real people of flesh and blood. They will join the countless multitude of Christians through the ages that have been, without watching the movie, already there. With them they will realize that there is even more there than they have yet seen or ever imagine.

'Where you there when they crucified my Lord?' the Negro Spiritual Hymn asks again and again. Michelangelo, Rembrandt, J.S. Bach and countless other artists have been there. We must go there also and face the suffering Christ.

As people learn to read the Bible meditatively, they will discover that not all scenes of the movie follow exactly any reading of the Gospel and that in spite of the historical accuracy of the whole movie many details are not literally registered in the Gospels. They will then realize that they have seen first hand the fruits of the lost art of Christian meditation, i.e., the fruit of what happens when the mind engages the story reading with full devotional attention, and allows the imagination to recreate the story with its many details and shadows, recreating a multidimensional drama including things that may have been there, although they were not recorded, allowing the depth of the real human and divine drama to touch our souls; in a word allowing us to be there.

I do not know how people will react in the long run. But I hope that this Holy Week we will receive an overflow of visitors to our services; people aching to see, hear, and participate more of the context and details of this glorious story. That certainly is my prayer, and that every Christian would learn to regard the profound mystery that lies at the heart of our Christian faith and life.

That is why I believe we ought to thank Mr. Gibson, in helping our post-Christian generation to experience first hand some of the fruit of the lost art of Christian meditation, that it may have an opportunity to appreciate what it is that to which it is turning its back, and how ultimately few and evil are the alternatives.

PD: A Word of Caution

Like the meditations that we ought to do when we close our door to the outside world to be alone with the Lord, this movie is best seen first outside the limits of group pressure. It is too much of a personally moving story, and it would be better, the first time, to go with an audience you will not have to worry about their reactions.

Only children mature enough to have meditatively read the story of the gospels and who have seen in the eye of their minds the reality of the passion should be allowed to see this movie. If your children have not yet cried while attentively reading the passion story, wait until they do. It would be an offense against them to do it other wise.


Saturday, February 28, 2004
 
ORTHODOX ST. LOUIS PARISH FLEES ECUSA FOR AMIA AND RWANDA


We have a war chest and we'll go to the mat for our property," says rector

Special Report

By David W. Virtue
2/28/2003

ST. LOUIS, MO--The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd is expected to
vote overwhelmingly on Sunday to leave the Diocese of Missouri and the
Episcopal Church and to affiliate with the Anglican Mission in America.

Its priest, the Evangelical Rev. Paul R. Walter has been accepted as a
priest in the Province of Rwanda. "Our Vestry voted unanimously to
change our corporate articles to expunge any reference to the Episcopal
Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri and to allow the
congregation to align with any Anglican entity we choose. As a
non-profit we filed with the County Court and the judge approved our
changes and the Secretary of State issued us a revised document," Walter
told Virtuosity.

"We called a special meeting of the parish, which must, by law, be
announced for three consecutive weekends, and set the date and time as
7:00 PM on Sunday, February 29th. The agenda includes a resolution of
the congregation affirming the actions of the Vestry; a resolution
officially detaching Good Shepherd from ECUSA and joining AMiA, and a
resolution amending the by-laws to conform to the Articles of
Incorporation," he said.

Walter said he expects a fight from the diocese and they are prepared.
"We have a war chest and we're ready to go to the mat for our property,"
Walter told Virtuosity.

Walter said that a church member who only attends about once every six
weeks teamed up with a disgruntled former member, and went to the
diocese and reported our actions.

"Bishop George Wayne Smith immediately inhibited me after being informed
that I was a priest in the Province of Rwanda. His lawyers then filed a
complaint in the county court," said Walter.

Lawyers for both sides did not seem anxious to go before a judge, so a
very simple consent decree was agreed upon, said Walter. "Although we
had some pretty absurd demands made of us, all we ended up agreeing not
to divest ourselves of our assets and to allow the diocese to audit us.
We agreed."

"If our parish approves the three resolutions on Sunday night, we will
go to the mat legally in four to six weeks. We have a six-figure war
chest for legal expenses. None of it comes from regular parish cash
flow. It is all specially designated giving."

Walter said that his lawyers had already won a case, which set the
precedent that property disputes in non-profits in Missouri area are
judged on the basis of civil, not canon law.

Walter said the Bishop George Wayne Smith sent a letter to his
parishioners which was full of typical Episcopal gracious speak. "It
won't sway them. One of the things he cautions against is acting in
anger. He just doesn't get it."

Walter told Virtuosity that morale in the parish was very high. "When
word got out that we were leaving the ECUSA, three of the wealthiest
Episcopal families in St. Louis immediately came over to us. Wardens and
vestry members from eight different churches in the diocese have been in
touch with me saying they agreed with us and shared our grief. They also
said they would like to have us help them," said Walter. Good Shepherd
is the 9th largest parish in the diocese.

The bishop's letter to the parish said he had offered Walter
"supplemental pastoral oversight". The bishop wrote, "I trusted then, as
I do now, that another bishop, acceptable to all of you and to me, could
exercise Episcopal ministry for you and your community. I remain open to
this option. Your rector rejected this offer."

"It was not alternative Episcopal oversight," said Walter. "The bishop
wanted the last say in who that bishop would be and wanted to retain the
right to continue his pastoral visits to us. No deal," said Walter.

Walter said the consecration of V. Gene Robinson was the final straw in
a church that had lost its way morally. "The resolutions at General
Convention affirming Robinson to the episcopacy and same-sex rites was a
bridge to far for me and my parish, and we are out of here."

Walter said the bishop's accusation that he and his parish were acting
out of anger was nonsense.

The bishop wrote in his letter to the parish, admitting that "serious
tensions" did exist between Good Shepherd and the Diocese of Missouri
following the decisions at General Convention. "I will admit that the
tension will not go away immediately and that your disappointment and
anger may well linger. Anger does not sustain, although it burns
brightly on the short term. On the other side of anger lies the very
real danger of mounting disunity."

"What anger," said a parishioner. "He just doesn’t get it. It is about
The Faith, not anger."

Walter said he was prepared for battle. "We knew this was coming and we
are prepared for it. We will fight all the way to the Supreme Court if
necessary. We will challenge the Dennis Canon."

"If we lose, the worst case scenario is that 85 percent of the core
congregation and 95 percent of its income simply walks off campus
praising God. We only have a small endowment. I don't expect this
anytime soon. We are going to fight for the sake of all the little
places and people that couldn't possible muster the resources to do so."

Should the church prevail the new parish will call itself the Anglican
Church of the Good Shepherd. "We will build a new church on the present
property. We have been adding a family or two every week since word got
out, and they are coming to us from the Baptists, Presbyterians and
independent denominations. We are on a roll. We have nine candidates for
holy orders, and we have three church plants under consideration. We are
rejoicing in the Lord."

The Diocese projects a budget deficit of $168,000, which has forced the
Diocesan Council to put the brakes on spending in the 2004 Program Budget.

 
Schools making sissies out of our kids


Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Schools making sissies out of our kids

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted: February 13, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern


© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com

When I was a little girl about 5 or 6 years old, my mother instructed me in the proper response to anyone hitting me. She said, "Never, never hit anyone first; but, if they hit you first, hit them back immediately and twice as hard!" Today, at 57, I have had a stint on talk radio preachin', teachin', and naggin' for a span of about 30 years – and that is precisely the advice I have been giving children and suggesting to their parents that they do the same. I have even recommended martial arts for the timid as well as the edgy children because of the development of self-assurance and serious self-discipline.

Along comes the public-school system and undermines all of that. John Longenecker of Lakewood, Calif., sent me this letter: "You wanted reports on school malfeasances; here's one. Picked up my kids in Lakewood this afternoon, and my beautiful, loving children reported to me a new Bellflower School District policy that specified, among other things, that both children caught fighting will be disciplined and that the discipline could be a citation that could run as high as $800.

"This is a new twist to a long-standing USD policy to punish both bully and victim, thereby punishing the victim twice. I object to teaching my children not to resist violence. I object to the school district's inability to discern who bullies whom. I object to their victimizing anyone's child twice. I object to empowering the bully to hold my child (and his academic record) hostage. I object to their unwillingness to share how this policy can be changed by parents (taxpayers).

"For the first time, I am referred by headquarters (the buck passed) down the chain of command to the principal – as if he has the power to hear and change policy."

In response to Mr. Longenecker's letter, I called the Bellflower School District headquarters (for clarification and corroboration) only to get the usual response when I call any public school or district headquarters: "Oh, sorry, I know nothing about that and the only person who does is in a meeting and can never be disturbed – that is our policy."

In response to my on-air "rant" about this issue, many parents from across the country wrote me with similar complaints – most having given up trying to influence the system: "I just shrugged it off at the time and threw my hands in the air and let it go. I think now that was a mistake (after her fifth-grade child was suspended for having been hit and not hitting back … it was enough that he was "in the fight"). It just seems to make life easier for your kid in public schools if you don't make too many waves. No excuse … I know. Thanks for the reality check."

Another parent, this one from San Diego, wrote about the four boys who ganged up and attacked her son and hurt him seriously. Her boy, based on what he was taught by the school district, did not raise a hand in his own defense, and neither did his group of friends who stood by. Some adult passing by rescued her son. "As it stands," she wrote, "the boys who attacked my son were just 'slapped on the wrist.'

"Victims have no rights whatsoever and are not allowed to defend themselves. They are treated almost as bad as the criminal. My son said that he was interrogated the following day by the school police. My son and his friends were commended for not fighting back. I can't believe that if you are being attacked you can't defend yourself, you just have to take it and pray you don't get hurt enough to kill you. What is this world coming to?"

Her boy is suffering from various stress disorders.

My request is that you parents vociferously defend yourselves and your children. Barbara Brink did just that and won! Her eighth-grade, black-belt son was attacked from behind at school. He didn't get to use his martial arts expertise because he was surprised from the back and pinned to the ground. He and the attacked were both suspended for three days for fighting.

"I became instantly ferociously angry and was at the school in less than five minutes to find my son in the principal's office very upset. The assistant principal told me that he had witnessed the attack, but had to suspend my boy anyway because he had 'participated in the fight.' Needless to say, the entire school heard my protests and I did not stop until the superintendent of the school district was on the phone. My argument was just like you expressed – 'How can you expel someone for defending themselves? Aren't you punishing the innocent?' To keep my son's increasingly enraged mother calm, the superintendent agreed to let him remain in school and the attacker was suspended for five days.

"I am proud of that day. I taught my son that someone in his life would stand for what was right and, more importantly, stand up and protect him. To this day, he stands for what is right and is, by the way, now graduating from a University in May with a computer engineering degree.

"Thank you, Dr. Laura, for fighting for all that is right."

One particular public-school teacher explained that teachers don't like to get involved at the "who dunnit" level because of litigation issues, not being backed up by the administration and the fact that teachers are desirous of teaching, not playing "prison guards."

I think there is one more issue here – that of the left-wing indoctrination of children to be subservient and not stand up to defend each other, much less themselves, from attack. You can readily see this philosophy being expounded on the national campaign trails by those who don't seem to have the clear vision of evil-versus-good and the moral obligation to stand between evil and the innocent; the tendency to define all violence as bad, such that when a country defends itself against suicide bombing of innocent children, it becomes morally equivalent in their minds to targeting a terrorist in his car; the argument that because America did not find a nuclear bomb in Saddam's closet the mass graves of innocent Iraqis don't qualify as sufficient motivation for defense from the outside.

This is, in my opinion, a concerted effort to morally enfeeble our children – and that will not only weaken our country. It will make the world more available for evil to have a triumphant reign.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is the best-selling author of books focused on successful relationships, parenting ideas, morality and personal ethics. She may be contacted by fax at (818)461-5140, or by writing: Dr. Laura Schlessinger; P.O. Box 8120; Van Nuys, CA 91409.
 
THE DECEPTIVE AND INSULTING SERMON OF VICKIE GENE ROBINSON


Equating racial discrimination with Biblical rejection of homosexuality
insults blacks, says black priest and activist layman

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

The new bishop of New Hampshire V. Gene Robinson said in a sermon in
Chicago honoring the 200-year old ordination of Absalom Jones the first
African-American priest ordained in the Episcopal Church, that his own
oppression as a gay man is equal to that of "people of color."

"The real sin, of course, of any oppression is making an object out of
another human being. Treating people as if they were a commodity, an it.
Slavery, of course, being the ultimate," said Robinson.

"People of color. Women. Gay and lesbian folk. The physically disabled.
The aged. All oppressed and all [are] offered liberation by this great
God of ours, declaring the humanity and not the objectification of those
people."

Robinson pointed to the Prophet Isaiah and the 61st chapter. "It talks
about the kinds of oppressions that we are all dealing with, and what
you and I are called to do, along with saints like Absalom Jones, in our
own ministries."

"We're having a bit of a controversy in the Episcopal Church right now.
I think you probably noticed. It seems to have something to do with an
election in New Hampshire, and a consent given by the General Assembly,"
said a cynical Robinson.

"Could it be, could it be that God is inviting us to go deeper? Could it
be that God is asking us to pull our boat out into deeper waters so that
we might get to know God better?"

"As surely as Jesus was inviting Peter to stretch his notion of God's
will, as surely as Absalom Jones was stretched to believe in his own
humanity in a culture poisoned by the sin of slavery, so you and I are
called to stretch our notion of God's love to all people, especially and
always to those on the margins.

Robinson's invitation to go to a "deeper place" is much favored by
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold.

But Robinson's mixing of race and sexuality issues outraged several
leading Black leaders including Philadelphia Black Anglican priest the
Rev. James Johnson.

"I was saddened to read V. Gene Robinson's "sermon" on Isaiah 61:1-3ff.
This passage is one of the great "Jubilee" passages of Scripture. It
declares that now is the season of reprieve and rest, of pardon and
deliverance for penitent sinners and yet it also warns of a final coming
day of God's vengeance upon those who let this season of Jubilee pass by."

"What is tragically ironic is that this very passage which Mr. Robinson
uses to argue explicitly for gay liberation and implicitly for the
"wholesomeness" of at least some homosexual relations, in actuality
calls upon him and us all, to repent of our sinful ways while God has
let open the floodgates of His mercy. Far from being a rallying cry for
homosexual rights, this passage calls for the homosexual to repent of
his homosexuality."

Johnson said he found Robinson's contrast of Absolom Jone's being black
with his [Robinson's] being gay outrageous.

"This offensive ploy used by Robinson to sway the biblically illiterate,
is the equation of being Black (or white) with being gay (or straight);
that homosexuality is as non-morally relevant as skin pigmentation in
the consideration of justice for all human beings. This is pure
sophistry! Skin pigmentation is a small part of the beautiful diversity
of the good created order and is to be celebrated as such. Racial
prejudice and oppression demean God's created order and as such are part
of the effects of the Fall. The error of Mr. Robinson is to consider
homosexuality as part of the beautiful diversity of creation and not of
the effects of Fall. The false parallel is between the struggle for
racial justice and homosexual liberation. The true parallel is between
racial oppression and homosexual practice and desires, as both are
effects of the Fall which demeans the crowning glory of God's created
order - man and woman."

Johnson said that St. Paul in Ephesians 5:31-32 records that from the
beginning, manhood and womanhood were created to represent or dramatize
God's relation with his people and to Christ's relation to his bride,
the Church. "In this drama, the man represents God or Christ and is to
love his wife as Christ loved the Church. The woman represents God's
people or the Church. And sexual union in the covenant of marriage
represents pure, undefiled, intense heart-worship. That is, God means
for the beauty of worship to be dramatized in the right ordering of our
sexual lives."

Johnson said that as a result of The Fall, "we have exchanged the glory
of God for images, especially of ourselves. The beauty of heart-worship
has been destroyed. Therefore, in judgment, God decrees that this
disordering of our relation to him be dramatized in the disordering of
our sexual relations with each other. And since the right ordering of
our relationship to God in heart-worship was dramatized by heterosexual
union in the covenant of marriage, the disordering of our relationship
to God is dramatized by the breakdown of that heterosexual union."

Johnson said that homosexuality was the most vivid form of that
breakdown. "God and man in covenant worship are represented by male and
female in covenant sexual union. Therefore, when man turns from God to
images of himself, God hands us over to what we have chosen and
dramatizes it by male and female turning to images of themselves for
sexual union, namely their own sex. Homosexuality is the judgment of God
dramatizing the exchange of the glory of God for images of ourselves."
Isaiah 61 is calling upon us all to repent while there is still time, he
said.

Dr. Michael Howell a cradle Episcopalian who says he is proud of his
black Caribbean heritage, blasted Robinson's sermon saying, "as a black
Christian and as a sinner who understands his dire need for redemption
through the cross of Jesus, I am deeply appalled over Robinson's attempt
to draw parallels between homosexuality and racial justice. It
represents a very dangerous combination of ignorance and deceit. I am
gravely concerned that sincere people who are struggling to understand
why homosexual behavior is never compatible with the Christian faith,
will only be drawn further away from the truth by this type of false
teaching."

While acts of violence or hatred against any human being can never be
condoned, the circumstances that precipitate these acts have different
underlying causes and therefore, require different courses of corrective
action, said Howell an activist Episcopal layman and professor of marine
geology who is active in a wide variety of ministries in the Episcopal
Church.

"Race is a characteristic of all human beings which is based on genetic
factors which cannot be chosen by individuals. The current preponderance
of peer-reviewed scientific research has demonstrated that homosexuality
can only be classified as a pattern of behavior. No current evidence
supports the hypothesis that people are born "homosexual", in the manner
that someone is born with physical attributes that are common to a
particular racial group."

Howell said behavior is the result of many complex factors, including
interaction with one's environment, and unlike race, behavior can be
(consciously or sub-consciously) chosen, modified or eradicated. "The
large number of former homosexual practitioners who have successfully
undergone reparative therapy to address same-sex attraction clearly
supports this."

"We cannot get around the clear fact that scripture always condemns
homosexual behavior, both in terms of what is written and what can be
inferred from careful and rigorous biblical scholarship. Scripture also
presents a clear case against racism in its various forms (e.g.,
slavery, miscegenation). As Dr. Robert Gagnon points out in "The Bible
and Homosexual Practice: Theory, Analogy and Genes", scripture never
condones
slavery and eventually advocates its curtailment and eradication.
Moreover, there are many specific passages and themes that argue against
racial discrimination (e.g., Numbers 12), as well as the clear message
that people of all races and cultures should be redeemed and reconciled
to him through his son, Jesus the one and true Christ. The voice of
scripture does not consider race as a condition that requires
transformation, while homosexual behavior is clearly against God's
created order."

END

 
REFLECTIONS ON THE CRISIS OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION


Fr. Ray Kasch
Rector
All Saint's Parish
Smyrna, Tennessee


A recent Associated Press article is entitled " US Episcopalians opposed to
gay bishop consider split" . In a local edition of the newspaper a medical
doctor expressed shock that the Church is poised to fracture all over one
gay man being consecrated a bishop. His conclusion is, "If the church's
definition of what constitutes morally acceptable behavior for its leaders
turns on the issue of sexual orientation... then maybe it's not the church I
thought it was."

The problem, in our sound bite culture, is that such comments are taken as
valid summations of the debate that is before us. Many in the rank and file
are left confused why the ordination of one man should be such a watershed
event, not just for the American Church, but also for the entire Anglican
Communion. But what such sound bites fail to take into consideration is that
the American Church's approval of Gene Robinson is merely the symptom of a
theological disease, and it is the threat of this disease that has rallied
the entire Communion. It is infecting all parts of the Body of Christ and
for biblical Christians it is a disease that, left unchallenged, will prove
spiritually fatal for individuals as well as for the Church. Lest someone
prematurely conclude that this analogy is far too dramatic, the scope of
this paper is to consider the ramifications of Gene Robinson's consecration
through the lenses of systematic theology because it is through this
discipline that the interconnectedness of truths becomes most apparent. It
is the thesis of this presentation that the decisions of the 74th General
Convention go far beyond ordaining a non-celibate gay man or the blessing of
"same-sex unions" but in fact adversely touch most of the key concepts of
Christian theology. Let us consider these concepts in their logical order.

EPISTEMOLOGY
Studies of theology properly begin with the question of
epistemology; "How do we know what we know?" This is not an empty academic
exercise because it is the starting place for any search for truth and is
often the starting place in the debate before us. Many times I have had
heard people say, "Well that's just your opinion" or "That's just how you
interpret the Bible" or "Just because something is wrong for you does not
make it wrong for me." The Presiding Bishop even encouraged this kind of
confusion when he gave a talk to the Church's young people and called on
them, "to guide their elders in the practice of a 'graced pluralism. '"
Later in a pastoral letter Griswold said, "I find it illuminating to think
of these webs of relationships which constitute our lives as being
forcefields of energy in which our various perspectives and ways of
embodying the gospel constantly interact - challenging and enlarging one
another and thereby more fully revealing God's truth. Difference, and the
capacity to welcome otherness, are essential to the vitality of these
various forcefields."
The common denominator between these various quotes is
epistemological agnosticism. The Bible is convoluted, my interpretation is
as valid as your interpretation and embracing pluralism is the key to unity.
We cannot know objective truth and so we are left to swim and/or drown in
our own private sea of subjectivity. Since we cannot know anything for
certain, except that we cannot know anything for certain, then your guess is
as good as mine.
Biblical Christianity stands in opposition to this modern view of
subjective and pluriform truth. Truth is objective because it is based in
the Triune God , Jesus is the incarnation of that Truth and we can know the
Truth and by it be set free. Our historic faith has taught that while God
is incomprehensible, He is knowable and so while our knowledge is limited,
we can know what we know with certitude. When the Old Testament prophets
spoke, they did not begin, "In my opinion." Instead they said, "Thus saith
the Lord." The Apostles of the New Testament spoke for God with equal
conviction. St. John said, "This is the disciple who testifies to these
things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. But
these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of
God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
It is also been the position of biblical Christianity, certainly
since the Reformation, that truth comes to us not as the Presiding Bishop
suggests, through the revelation of the interaction of various forcefields,
but instead through the revelation of Holy Scripture. If we come to an
understanding of God simply because we share our experiences with one
another, then we have no way of knowing that our conclusions are correct.
If, however, we come to our understanding of God because of God's
self-revelation, then we can be sure of what we know. As one theologian put
it, "...man can know God only in so far as the latter actively makes Himself
known. God is first of all the subject communicating knowledge to man and
can only become an object of study for man in so far as the latter
appropriates and reflects on the knowledge conveyed to him by revelation."
Thus we can know, with certainty, about God and about how God
intends for us to live. That in fact is what makes all communication of the
truth and life in community possible. If you claim that murder is wrong
because God had revealed it to be so, and my only rejoinder is that it all
depends on your interpretation, then communication and community become
impossible and we spiral into chaos. Those who claim that there is not
objective truth about morality seem to find certitude in the statements of
the Baptismal Covenant of seeking and serving Christ in all persons,
striving for justice and peace among all people and respecting the dignity
of every human being. So even epistemological agnosticism has its
limitations. In the end, all of us believe in absolutes, even if it is an
absolute that there are no absolutes. This position is as astute as a
sociological professor of mine who in an attempt to share her acquired
wisdom gave us her "10 Eternal Truths." Eternal truth #1 was "Nothing Lasts
Forever" and the tragedy was, just like our Church, she did not see her own
folly.

AUTHORITY
As the days of his consecration approached, Gene Robinson's mantra
was that he was going ahead with the consecration unless God told him
otherwise. This presents a question of how God would accomplish that
communication. There is the clear teaching of Holy Scripture, both Old and
New Testaments, two thousand years of consistent interpretation by the
Church on biblical morality, the 1998 Lambeth Conference, the 2002 Hong Kong
meeting of the Anglican Consultative Counsel, the Report of the Theology
Committee of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church and the emergency
meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in October 2003. All of
these sources, either indirectly or directly, objected to the consecration.
Short of a repeat of the deaths of Annanias and Saphira, one wonders what
the Holy Spirit had to do to get Gene's attention.

The turning point of the Reformation was over the matter of authority. The
presenting issue was the sale of indulgences but that was not the core
issue. One wonders if Luther did not come under the accusation of splitting
the Church just over fundraising. The underlying matter was whether or not
the Church has the right to teach as doctrine something that could not be
proven by Holy Scripture, particularly when it is repugnant to Holy
Scripture? The Roman Church of that day essentially said that its power was
innate, while the Reformers claimed that the Church's authority was derived.
Anglicanism agreed with the Reformers and that is why Article XX of the
Articles of Religion limits the Church's authority to "keeper of Holy Writ,
yet as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the
same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed as necessity to
Salvation."
Without the universal authority of Holy Scripture, which teaches the
Church what is to be believed by all people, at all times, and in all
places, the Church is reduced to opinions that are experiential, personal
and dictated by the prevailing culture. In a recent hearing about the
General Convention, the delegates defended their votes not with reasoned
biblical argument. Instead they offered anecdotal evidence ("I had a gay
roommate in college"), spiritism ("My departed father told me through a
dream that it was okay"), or logical fallacies ("If he had left his wife and
moved in with a woman instead of a man I would not have voted for him").
It is disingenuous to make the accusation of "proof texting" when
Christians appeal to specific texts to derive their beliefs. Being under the
authority of Scripture is what Christians are expected to do because in
doing so they follow in the steps of their Master. Jesus consistently
defended both his ministry and his claims as Messiah by quoting the sacred
texts. 26 times the phrase "it is written" is used in the Gospels. The Book
of Acts commended a group that sought the truth in Holy Scripture saying,
"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for
they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures
every day to see if what Paul said was true."
In his book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and
Hermeneutics Robert Gagnon offers a careful and exhaustive study of the
biblical texts. At the beginning of his book he states," ...if a clear,
unequivocal, and persuasive stance in the Bible can be shown to exist -
across the Testaments and accepted for nearly two millennia of the church's
existence - then the burden of proof lies with those who take a radically
different approach to the issue." He then goes on for nearly 500 pages to
show a consistency between the two Testaments and the validity of the
Church's traditional interpretation of those texts. The overwhelming vote of
Lambeth 1998 shows that those of the radically different approach have
failed to meet the burden of proof. In fact in most of the discussions that
I have attended, there is little or no attempt to do so. More often the
Scripture is dismissed with statements such as, "Well the same texts also
tell you that you can't eat pork or wear clothing of mixed material," which
only succeeds in revealing the ignorance of the speaker concerning
principles of biblical interpretation. Article VII of the Articles of
Religion makes it clear that the Old Testament in not contrary to the New
and while Christians are free from the Laws that have to do with Ceremonies,
Rites and Civil Law, "no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience
of the Commandments which are called moral." So in this case, while
homosexual activity falls under the Moral Law and is therefore still
forbidden, its penalty of death is under Israel's Civil Law and therefore is
not binding. Someone who claims to be confused about the difference between
laws about eating shrimp and laws about sexual morality is either
intentionally clouding the issue or is so ignorant of the Scripture that
they should excuse themselves from the discussion.
Another approach that fails to meet the burden of proof is to claim
that it is not Anglican to take the Bible literally. Isn't it interesting
how all clergy become literalists during stewardship season? It does not
reduce the authority of Holy Scripture to understand that the Bible is made
up of many different types of literature and so it would be just as great a
mistake for someone to take all of the Bible literally as it would for
someone to take none of the Bible literally. The person who wants to say
that the Levitical injunction against homosexuality is not to be taken
literally then must explain why the Levitical command to love our neighbor
as ourselves is binding.
A third approach that fails to meet the burden of proof is to claim
that because Jesus does not mention homosexuality, then it must be either
tacitly approved or at least a non issue. This line of reasoning has two
problems. First it commits a logical fallacy of making an argument from
silence. Jesus also never said anything about pushing your grandmother down
an elevator shaft but His silence on that matter cannot be construed as
approval (even if your grandfather is for it). Gagnon points out that
because Jesus made a very clear statement that He had not come to negate the
Law but to fulfill it, any silence about homosexuality would be more
reasonably interpreted as Jesus' agreement with the Old Testament Law on
that topic. The second problem with the argument from silence is that while
Jesus did not use the word "homosexual," He did address immoral sexual
behavior and used a generic word (porneiai) that in His day would have
been understood to include homosexuality along with incest and bestiality.
To me the most interesting approach, that also fails to meet the
burden, is the one taken by the Presiding Bishop. It is his claim that
because the Bible was unaware of sexual orientation then the Bible does not
address homosexuality, as we know it today. Thus any passages about it are
referring to exploitive relationships and are therefore irrelevant in a
discussion about same sex unions. This line of argument has two fatal
flaws. First it ignores the historic evidence that the ancients were very
aware of non-exploitive homosexual relationships. St. Paul condemns the
relationships between same sexes in Romans 1 not because they are exploitive
but because they are birthed in idolatry. It is the original sin of humans
putting themselves in the place of God. How well this image matches the
malignant narcissism of our age and perhaps even explains the current surge
of homosexuality. Second, advocates of homosexuality cannot have it both
ways. If homosexuality was a valid alternative lifestyle then it would have
existed throughout history and therefore been addressed by Scripture. But if
it is a new phenomenon, unknown in the days of the Bible's authors, then
advocates have the burden of proving it as a valid alternative lifestyle
rather than a modern distortion of God's created order.
In a previous quote from Frank Griswold, that included the
references to various "forcefields " interacting and therefore more fully
revealing God's truth , we can understand that Griswold sees revelation as
ongoing. There are many like him who believe that because revelation is
ongoing then the Church has the right to move beyond Scripture. That
certainly is the view of Mr. Spong, but it was also the view of Joseph
Smith, Mary Baker Eddy and Sung Myung Moon, and countless other cult
leaders. Often in discussions one hears the comment that the speaker is not
for Robinson's consecration or same-sex unions because the Church has not
made up its mind yet. But what is going to make up the mind of the Church if
not Holy Scripture? Some would say the Holy Spirit. But how do we discern if
it is the Holy Spirit? If ongoing revelation is true, then what becomes our
canon or measuring rod? Our Prayer Book answers that question in the
catechism. "Q. How do we recognize the truths taught by the Holy Spirit? A.
We recognize the truths taught by the Holy Spirit when they are in accord
with the Scriptures." The Holy Spirit grants the Church ongoing
illumination in order to understand the Scriptures and apply them to our
day, but the Holy Spirit does not give us ongoing revelation, particularly
ongoing revelation that contradicts the Word of God written. As the ultimate
author of the text, the Spirit of Truth cannot contradict Himself any more
than God can ungod himself.
In his book, Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of
Cultural Analysis William Webb comes to the same conclusion as Gagnon but
takes a different and interesting approach. He speaks of following a
hermeneutical trajectory to address cultural issues not directly addressed
by the Bible. As the Scriptures move from one Testament to another, the will
of God unfolds and becomes more evident. In that movement is a trajectory
that can be followed to make biblical conclusions that are beyond the
cultural constraints of the texts. With the matter of slavery, you see a
movement from humane treatment of slaves in the Old Testament to Paul's
appeal to Philemon to free Onesimus in the New. Following that trajectory
would then make support of the civil rights movement in the 1960's a
biblically informed conclusion. The same logic can be applied to women's
issues. But you do not see a similar trajectory for homosexuality in the
Bible. It is an abomination in the Old Testament and it is equated with
idolatry in the New Testament.
The Reformation established that the Scripture are the ultimate authority
but some today make themselves the ultimate authority by virtue of appeals
to reason or personal experience. They bring up the supposed "Three Legged
Stool" of Anglicanism (Scripture, Tradition, Reason), which in actuality
does not exist as typically presented. Hooker and Jewel certainly did not
understand these sources as three equal sources of authority. Here are the
words of Richard Hooker, the supposed champion of the "Three Legged Stool."
"Unto the word of God, being in respect of that end for which God ordained
it perfect, exact, and absolute in itself, we do not add reason as a
supplement of any maim or defect therein, but as a necessary instrument,
without which we could not reap by the Scripture's perfection that fruit and
benefit which it yieldeth."

Because of the Bible's primacy in Anglicanism, the Episcopal Church
decisions at the 74th General Convention are no less than acts of rebellion
against the revealed will of God. Further, to ascribe these actions to the
Holy Spirit, when it is contrary to the Word written by the Holy Spirit, is
blasphemy. What the Church must do is to return to a respect of and humility
towards the Scriptures as modeled by one of the greatest minds of the
Church's history, St. Augustine. He said, "I have learned to yield such
respect and honor only to the canonical books of Scripture. Of these I do
firmly believe that the authors are completely free from error; and if in
these writing I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to the
truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty or
the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said or I myself have
failed to understand it."



THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD

Historic theology teaches us that the Scriptures reveal that God is
perfect. Indeed God has given us enough of His self-revelation that various
attributes or perfections can be discerned in the Scriptures. These reveal
God as a personal Being unlike any other. One such attribute is omniscience
or the quality of being all knowing. In his book, Know the Truth, Bruce
Milne describes the relevance of this attribute. "This perfection is
fundamental to the finality of God's self revelation. If God knew only in
part, his truth would be only provisional. The lordship of God means that we
do not await further revelation which might supercede his self-disclosure in
Jesus Christ...God's omniscience is also the basis for the Holy Spirit's
work of revealing the mind and unity of God in Scripture, thereby
guaranteeing its reliability and finality (Jn 16:13; 17:17)."
Gene Robinson in an interview on the Today Show, where he was
crowing about his consecration, repeated, "God is doing a new thing."
Besides being a blatant expression of narcissism, this reflects a deficient
theology of the being of God. God's "new thing" was the full and final
revelation of Jesus Christ, not in the advancement of Gene's agenda. What
would cause God to do a "new thing" that involved contradicting Himself by
contradicting the Spirit inspired Scriptures? Has God received some new
information or is this "new thing" evidence that God is evolving and
expanding? Such a god is not the Christian God who is omniscient and who
specifically tells us in Scripture, "God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor a son of man, that he should change his mind." If God contradicts
Himself or changes His mind on one thing then He can contradict Himself on
all things. Perhaps the next "new thing" this god blesses will involve
abandonment of the Ten Commandments. Such a god cannot make the claim of
being truthful and therefore could not demand trust and allegiance. If God
is a god who lies or changes his mind, then how can we have any assurance
about our future and the world to come? The only god that lies and changes
his mind is the one that St. Paul identified as "the god of this world."

HUMANKIND
The creation story offers us a clear view of God's intention for
human kind. "And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He
created him, male and female He created them...For this cause a man shall
leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife; and they shall become
one flesh." Marriage and the sexual union that accompanies it are intended
so that the two halves may become whole. Centuries before it dawned upon our
culture that men are from Mars and women are from Venus; the Bible asserted
that the two sexes are different and complimentary. Unlike the angels who
are not married, humans need the complimentary other in order to find
wholeness. That is why Adam still felt alone even in a garden full of
animals. When God spoke about creating woman He said, "It is not good for
the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him" and the
Hebrew word translated "suitable" literally means "corresponding to." Adam
did not find a mate in the animals because they did not correspond to him;
only woman could fulfill that role and he for her. Thus the Levitical
injunctions against bestiality are not due to an aversion to sex, but
reflect an understanding that in God's created order man can only find his
"other half" in a woman. Jesus underscores this understanding in His
teaching about marriage. "Have you not read, that He created them from the
beginning made them male and female, and said for this cause a man shall
leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall
become one flesh. Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What
therefore God has joined together let no man separate." If we take Jesus at
his word then we must conclude that it is God who makes us male and female
and it is God who joins us together. We cannot expect Him to join together
what He did not create and He did not create two men or two women or a
ménage a trois in the garden. He made them male and female and He made them
to be one and that is why the parts fit. Sex between a man and a woman is
sacramental in that it is a visible and outward expression of an invisible
and inward grace; the grace of oneness. That is why this "sacrament" is not
to be shared with animals, or members of your own sex, or with anyone other
than your spouse. In God's ideal we are to be one with only one person of
the opposite and complimentary sex, unless separated by death.
When the creation story is compared to the homosexual agenda it
reveals homosexuality as a counterfeit. First, advocates can claim all they
like that God made them homosexual but claiming something and proving it are
two separate matters. There is greater evidence that alcoholism is
genetically predetermined but that is still not proof that God makes anyone
an alcoholic nor is it an excuse to seek the Church's blessing on
alcoholism.
Same sexes cannot compliment one another and so God does not join them
together. This is why the argument of natural law is also valid. The parts
don't fit, the quest for unity is frustrated and as a consequence homosexual
activities involve acts that the Bible tells us should not be spoken about.


Second homosexuality is a counterfeit lifestyle because it mimics creation.
In most homosexual relationships one partner takes on the male role while
the other partner takes on the female role. In the ancient world the male
temple prostitutes even dressed the part of the female gods and took the
passive/receptive role so as to be more culturally acceptable. If
homosexuality were indeed a valid alternative lifestyle then why would it
not have its own form of interplay instead of mimicking male/female
relationships?

Thirdly, it is a counterfeit because it cannot fulfill the creation mandate
to be fruitful and multiply. Certainly today through modern science,
homosexual couples can take extraordinary measures to have a child. But this
has not been so since creation as with heterosexual couples. Heterosexual
families reflect the created order. Homosexual "families" are a modern
mimicry of what God intended since the beginning.

JESUS CHRIST

In the most radical continuum of the gay agenda, evidenced in the play
"Corpus Christi" by Terrence McNally , Jesus is presented as a homosexual.
The Apostle John's intimate relationship with Jesus, placing his head on
Jesus' breast, is interpreted as sexual intimacy, which says vastly more
about the authors than about the real Jesus. This of course stands in stark
contrast with the Scriptures that Jesus is fully human but without sin,
making homosexuality for Him an impossibility.

Even in more benign perspectives, the Jesus of homosexual
proponents still does not match the Jesus of the Scriptures. Their Jesus is
all about love, forgiveness and inclusion but seldom is He referred to as
the Coming Judge. Their Jesus may call people to repent but it tends to be
because of institutional sins or repentance over peace and justice issues.
The Jesus of the Bible, however, calls all people to repent, not just for
corporate sin and peace and justice issues, but also for all forms of
immorality. The Jesus of the Bible not only failed to undo the Old Testament
Law on morality but He expanded upon it to even include lust in the heart.
It is often mentioned by homosexual advocates that Jesus forgave the woman
caught in adultery but it is just as often left out that He also told her
"Go and sin no more."

Homosexual proponents take a cafeteria-style approach to Jesus and pass by
the passages that are problematic for their agenda. This in turn results in
a less than accurate understanding of Jesus. He is not just a Savior to
forgive, heal and affirm us, but He is also Lord who commands that we obey
Him and take up our crosses and follow Him. The Jesus of the Bible says
nothing about life being fair and He even promises that it will not be
comfortable. Someone once said "Everyone wants Him as Savior but few want
Him as Lord." But Scripture does not give us that option. Unless we call Him
"Lord" we will not be saved and if we do not keep His commandments we
cannot say that we love Him. Thus sexual disobedience puts our souls at
risk and this is the proverbial bottom line of this crisis. The Episcopal
Church is currently painting such a warped image of Jesus that He becomes a
proponent of a lifestyle that the Scriptures tell us will keep people out of
the kingdom. That Jesus is other than the One presented to us by the
Apostles.

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not
be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor
male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor
drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And
that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you
were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our
God"


THE HOLY SPIRIT

The Reformers rescued the Reformation from the radical spiritualists
also by stressing the primacy of Scripture. Some of these radicals, having
thrown off the constraints of the Roman Church, even justified murder and
adultery because "the Spirit told me to." The Reformers found these men
heretical and Luther is said to have quipped that the only thing worse than
one Pope was a thousand little ones.
Anglicanism from its inception has been suspicious of those who claim Spirit
inspiration when their words or deeds contradict Holy Scripture. Calvin
repeatedly taught an indissoluble link between the Word of God and the
Spirit of God, which is a logical connection given that the later inspired
the former. This belief was embraced by Anglicanism and can be seen in the
Canon of the Mass. The liturgy of the Table is not possible without the
liturgy of the Word, because it is the Word that introduces the Holy Spirit
who makes the sacrament possible. Otherwise the sacrament is dependent upon
the manipulations of the priest, which is no more than magic. Where the
Spirit is, is where the Word is and where the Word is, is where the Spirit
is. Thus we pray, "...vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and
Holy Spirit, these thy creatures of bread and wine..."
The Spirit inspired the Sacred Texts and as the Spirit of Truth He cannot
lie. Thus it is inconceivable that the Spirit would contradict Himself and
lead the Church to consecrate Gene Robinson. What is the test that the
Spirit has spoken? As mentioned earlier, it is as our catechism says, "We
recognize truths to be taught by the Holy Spirit when they are in accord
with the Scriptures." Also as mentioned earlier, it is therefore nothing
short of blasphemy to ascribe Gene's and the Church's sin to the Holy
Spirit.

REDEMPTION AND SANCTIFICATION

If the departures from the traditional teachings of the Church
mentioned in the previous categories are embraced, then redemption and
sanctification become a house of cards that collapses and the Church loses
its evangelistic mandate. It is not an accident that the same clergy of our
Diocese who signed an ad supporting the consecration of Gene Robinson, also
signed a Universalist document last Advent. If I can know nothing for
certain, if I can move beyond Holy Scripture, if God and Jesus are whoever I
make Them to be, and if the Holy Spirit is revealed through subjective
evaluation, then redemption is replaced by affirmation and sanctification is
a quest for personal authenticity. Any discussion of sin is labeled as
judgmentalism and any call to repentance and sanctification is nullified by
comparative culpability. "Who are we to call homosexuals to repent when we
are all sinners?" And since we have no grounds to call a specific person to
repent then we do not call anyone to repent and therefore we are all in the
same condition. But since God is love, everyone everywhere must be in a
condition of grace and acceptance and since we are all accepted the only
thing left unclear is why Jesus had to die in the first place.

THE CHURCH

The Church is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets
with Christ Jesus as its Cornerstone. Our catechism tells us that the
Church is catholic because it teaches "the whole Faith to all people..." and
it is apostolic because "it continues in the teaching and fellowship of the
apostles..." Thus when the Church moves away from the foundation of the
Apostles and Prophets, it also moves away from the Cornerstone and thereby
places itself in grave peril. When the Church departs from the historic
faith and fails to continue in the teaching of the Apostles, it can no
longer call itself catholic or apostolic. The bishops of our church are
supposed to be in the line of the apostles and at their consecrations they
vow to "guard that faith, unity and discipline of the Church." Having
successors to the Apostles is meaningless, however, if they do not guard the
faith that was delivered by the Apostles.
In an interview on National Public Radio, David Steinmetz of Duke
Divinity School succinctly summarized the current crises of the Church. He
defined schism as a division in the Church over matters of practice or
discipline, such as schism over the date of Easter. Heresy, however, is
aggravated schism due to falsifying Christian teaching. The responses from
the Anglican Communion to Gene's consecration shows that the vast majority
of the Communion considers this action to be a falsifying of Christian
teaching and therefore heresy.

Dr. Steinmetz went on to say that in a recent conversation between the Pope
and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope placed the matter of women's
ordination in the category of catholic order, while approval of
homosexuality falls in the category of faith and morals. Thus one cannot be
compared to the other and the consequences of these separate actions are
also different. A departure from catholic order puts a Church in impaired
communion with the rest of the Body of Christ but heresy separates a Church
from the rest of the Body.


WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Given the perspectives mentioned above, the situation calls for
drastic action. Someone said in a recent meeting, "let's keep this in
perspective, he is not a Bishop Spong." I agree. This situation is far worse
than Mr. Spong because he could be dismissed as an aberration, one who does
not represent the official position of the Episcopal Church. But the actions
of the 74th General Convention now present as official policy a heresy that,
as previously argued, has separated our denomination from the holy catholic
church and promotes a lifestyle that will prevent people from entering the
kingdom of God. Given that we blatantly ignored both the Resolutions of
Lambeth 1998 and the October 2003 Statement of the Primates, the Episcopal
Church would even be hard pressed to justify calling itself Anglican. If any
other group had separated itself from its Communion, became a small
culture-driven religion and promoted doctrines that send people to hell,
they would be labeled a cult. It is becoming increasingly difficult to
defend the Episcopal Church from that accusation. These are matters of
heaven and hell and they demand drastic actions but drastic actions are not
the same as impetuous actions. Thus I make a distinction between immediate
and future responses to the crisis.
IMMEDIATE RESPONSE: Following the General Convention I read the Scripture,
prayed and spoke with a number of bishops, priests and laity whom I respect.
What I did not hear from these sources was a common theme and so my
conclusion was that I have not heard any new direction from the Master. My
immediate response to the crises therefore is to continue with my last
marching orders i.e. to tell people about Jesus, to serve the Bishop, and to
do all that I can to grow All Saints' Parish. I am indebted to our Bishop
for his call, his support and his leadership and it is my intention to
support him through to his retirement. The only thing that would circumvent
this intention would be if ever loyalty to the Bishop came in conflict with
loyalty to Christ or to His Church.
That said, on November 2, All Souls Day 2003, I began to consider myself as
an Anglican priest doing missionary work in the Episcopal Church...for now.
Given the gravity of the situation, I will not be able to continue with
status quo indefinitely. Doing nothing is not an option. The irony of Gene's
ceremony being on the day that we pray for the dead was not lost to me but I
need to be sustained by more than irony and so I look to the future for
action.

FUTURE RESPONSE: The meeting in Dallas, besides being one of the spiritual
highlights of my life, was a watershed event for me. The image presented
there, of the Anglican Communion as a constellation that is going through
realignment, was the perfect metaphor. It is the realignment of the future
that I see to be the best hope for orthodox Anglicans. The Primates warned
that if the consecration of Gene Robinson happened that it would "tear the
fabric of the Communion at its deepest level." It did and the tearing has
begun. It is inconceivable to me that Griswold could sign the letter of the
Primates warning about the effects of the consecration, then become Gene's
chief consecrator, and then call the clergy to walk in unity. Frank has
abdicated his role as Presiding Bishop and we cannot look to him for
guidance.
And as goes the Communion, so goes the Episcopal Church and as goes the
Episcopal Church, so goes the Diocese. Impaired communion and
excommunications are being issued from around the Anglican World. The
Primates of the Global South, representing 50 million Anglicans stated,
"...the authorities within ECUSA consider that their cultural-based agenda
is of far greater importance than obedience to the Word of God..." and they
said further, "...we can now have no basis whatsoever for any further
confidence that ECUSA will pay any regard to the finding of the recently
announced Commission set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury." I share with
these Primates the belief that ECUSA is incorrigible and Scripture instructs
the Church what to do with the incorrigible. St Paul tells us that while we
are not called to judge the world we are called to judge the Body of Christ
and if anyone claims to be a brother, but is involved in unrepentant sin
that we are not to associate with them. Further Paul states, "If anyone
does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do
not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard
him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother."
Cries for unity, such as those made by the Presiding Bishop in a letter to
the clergy are misguided. He said, "...our church is larger than any one
point of view and must embrace all" and he went on to say that we should be
"catholic in spirit." But he misses the point. A Church that embraces all
points of view is not catholic in faith and therefore cannot be catholic in
spirit.
What we can conclude from the response of the Anglican Communion and from
the teaching of Holy Scripture is that the Trojan horse of dialogue needs to
be taken to the glue factory. Our communion is at best impaired and for many
clergy and laity our relationship with the National Church has ended unless
they reverse the decisions of the 74th General Convention and Gene Robinson
vacates his see. The tear has produced two churches if not two religions and
communion is not possible without repentance. We can remain civil and do the
business of the Diocese, like two divorced parents who cooperate out of love
for the child, but common mission is not possible without a common faith. I
will not be separated from the Anglican Communion as long as it remains
faithful to the apostolic faith and so I await the realignment of the
Communion. Here is my dream list for the future:
v The Diocese of Tennessee formally repudiates the decisions of the
74th General Convention.
v The Diocese of Tennessee withholds all giving to the National Church
and gives ECUSA one year to repent.
v A new House of American Bishops is formed, made up of those who
rejected the decisions of the 74th General Convention and could sign a
document similar to A Place To Stand
v Dialogue towards unification, using the Chicago-Lambeth
Quadrilateral and A Place To Stand as introductory documents, begins
between the new House of Bishops and the Continuing Churches.
v Failing ECUSA's repentance, the Diocese of Tennessee realigns itself
with orthodox Anglican Dioceses and Provinces who have formally separated
themselves from ECUSA.

I must confess to the sin of being double minded. On one hand, I have never
been more confident about a conviction. This is not about property or
endowments or pension funds. This crisis is about the souls for whom Jesus
died and the Episcopal Church placing those souls at risk. As Luther said,
unless proven wrong by the Fathers and the Scriptures, I will not recant,
here I stand, I can do no other.

On the other hand I am but a man and am as susceptible to blindness and
error as any other and so I could be wrong. If so I hope for the prayers of
our Lady and all the saints, and I cast myself onto the mercy of Jesus. May
He hide us in His wounds and have mercy on us all. Amen.

Thursday, February 26, 2004
 
Andy Rooney: 'Passion' Good for a Few Laughs


Thursday, Feb. 26, 2004 9:07 a.m. EST
Andy Rooney: 'Passion' Good for a Few Laughs

CBS "60 Minutes" commentator Andy Rooney said Thursday that Mel Gibson's
movie depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was good "for a few laughs,"
but not much else.

Saying he had no intention of seeing "The Passion of the Christ," Rooney
told radio host Don Imus, "I mean, I don't want to pay $9 just for a few
laughs."

Rooney went on to bash religion in general, saying those who believe in God
are "absurd."

"I mean, it's absurd to invent God to unburden our problems on him," he told
Imus. "And, on the other hand, there are so many questions that are
unanswered that, you know, we're looking for some solution to it. And we
have invented God."

Rooney defended his decision not to appear on Fox News Channel's "The
O'Reilly Factor" to defend his attacks on Gibson and his movie.

"[Bill] O'Reilly is sorry that I won't go on his show and make a fool of
myself," Rooney said. "He's the worst interviewer there is. But I don't want
to go on there and get killed."

O'Reilly has been one of Gibson's most vigorous defenders in the media, and
has repeatedly challenged Rooney to a debate.

On Sunday, the 80-something commentator mocked Gibson along with Christian
Coalition founder Pat Robertson for saying that God had spoken to them.

Claiming that he also had a direct line of communication with the Almighty,
Rooney relayed his message to the "60 Minutes" audience, saying that God
told him: "Mel is a real nut case. What in the world was I thinking when I
created him? Listen, we all make mistakes."



Wednesday, February 25, 2004
 
The First day of Lent,
Commonly called Ash-Wednesday.


ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This Collect is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.
 
Guardians and heralds


=====================================================

T H E J O H N S T O T T D A I L Y T H O U G H T

=====================================================
February 25, 2004
Authentic Christianity
From the writings of Dr. John R. W. Stott

Ministers and Ministry (cont'd.)

667. Guardians and heralds
It was Paul's firm assurance that his message came from
God, and that 'his' gospel was in reality 'God's' gospel.
He had not invented it. He was only a steward entrusted
with it and a herald commissioned to proclaim it. He must
above all else be faithful.
Every authentic Christian ministry begins here, with the
conviction that we have been called to handle God's Word as
its guardians and heralds. We must not be satisfied with
'rumours of God' as a substitute for 'good news from God'.
For, as Calvin put it, 'the gospel ... is as far removed
from conjecture as heaven is from the earth'.(1) Of course
we are not apostles of Christ like Paul. But we believe
that in the New Testament the teaching of the apostles has
been preserved and is now bequeathed to us in its
definitive form. We are therefore trustees of this
apostolic faith, which is the Word of God and which works
powerfully in those who believe. Our task is to keep it,
study it, expound it, apply it and obey it.

(1) John Calvin, "The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the
Romans and to the Thessalonians", tr. Ross Mackenzie
(Oliver and Boyd, 1961), p. 347.

--From "The Message of Thessalonians" (The Bible Speaks
Today series: Leicester: IVP, 1991), p. 68.

----------------------------------------------------
--Excerpted from "Authentic Christianity", p. 282, by
permission of InterVarsity Press.

 
SOUTH CAROLINA: Talk at Episcopal forum centers on ways to avoid schism

Associated Press
2/22/2004

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Theological differences over homosexuality are causing rifts in the Episcopal Church, but they do not have to be fatal to the church's unity, according to speakers at a forum here.

Nearly 200 Episcopalians from around the state gathered Saturday to discuss ways of coping with conflicts over the 2003 confirmation of V. Gene Robinson, the denomination's first openly gay bishop.

Clergy and laity, most from the Charleston-based Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, gathered for "Seeking Unity in Diversity," a conference set up by the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina. The Mount Pleasant-based group was formed to help members of the diocese try to find common ground despite differences over Robinson's confirmation.

"Our goal today was to get some constructive conversation going within the Episcopal Church because there is so much polarization in the church and in our diocese," said Lynn Pagliaro of Mount Pleasant, one of the Forum's board members. "Members of the diocese want to learn about different opinions on these issues, and we see ourselves as an ongoing place for conversation within the Episcopal Church."

The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, has been one of the most vocal opponents of Robinson's confirmation. In December, the diocese he leads became one of four charter members of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. The network is for Episcopalians opposed to Robinson's confirmation.

Network membership, as well as differences of opinion over Robinson, same-sex unions and other issues have caused distress among many lay members of the diocese.

The only way to continue conversation between the two sides is to recognize the seriousness of the step the Episcopal Church took in affirming Robinson, said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, the diocese's canon theologian. "This is a debate about essentials," he said.

Both Harmon and the Very Rev. William McKeachie, dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul, challenged Robinson's supporters to come up with a way to reconcile gay relationships with Scripture.

"The biblical case for monogamous, heterosexual unions has not suddenly been proven wrong," McKeachie said. "... If schism and the breaking up of the Anglican Communion is incipient, it is not, in the view of the Diocese of South Carolina, we who caused the schism."

McKeachie said both sides need to work out a theological compromise, such as the statement worked out at the 1988 General Convention that recognizes abortion as legal but also as a serious matter.

The Very Rev. Samuel Candler, dean of the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, said he believes in "the possibility that certain same-sex relationships can offer the grace of God."

Many members said they were encouraged after the daylong conference. "I think this is a step in the right direction," said Georgia Ann Porcher, a member of Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston.

 
ECUSA LEADER SAYS THEY WON'T PARTICIPATE IN WAR THEY STARTED

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

Dan England the communications director for the Episcopal Church said at the recent meeting of the church's Executive Council in Tampa, Florida that "some people seem to want to start a war, but we're not going to show up."

He was parroting the Very Rev. George Werner, president of the House of Deputies who first coined the phrase after the last General Convention.

It is in the same category of foolishness and naivete that convinced the American people that they could remain neutral in World War II before Pearl Harbor.

Mr. England wants you to believe that either no war is going on, or if there is one, he and his leftist pals aren't going to show up. The truth is there IS a war, it has been going on for some time now and sooner or later there will be a winner and a loser. A draw, it seems, is not on the cards. The Eames Commission may try and make it look like a draw with everyone winning, but it is doubtful the Global South will buy anything less than a complete repudiation of sexual behavior outside of heterosexual marriage and the public disciplining of Frank Griswold for his participation in the consecration of V. Gene Robinson.

Or to put it another way, a split will occur that will leave the two sides looking at each other across an irreconcilable divide.

The revisionists in ECUSA started this war back with Bishop James Pike, then Jack Spong set about making theological nuclear bombs with his 12 theses, then there followed the ripping of the fabric of the church over the illegal ordination of women, later sodomy was affirmed by ordaining openly homoerotic priests (the first one died of AIDS), then followed the promotion of same-sex unions, capping it off with the consecration of a non-celibate homosexual priest to the episcopacy. And England wants you to believe that this is all an orthodox illusion and the Holocaust never happened either.

If you believe Mr. England, the orthodox are simply making it all up. It is a fiction of their imagination. If they just stopped believing there was a problem it would go away. Right. So the church can't even affirm Bishop Keith Ackerman's Resolution B001 on a couple of basic doctrines of the faith once delivered and this is okay? The church consecrates a divorced homoeroticist living with another man, and this is not declaring war?

Fourteen Primates representing some 50 million Anglicans declare themselves either in impaired or out of communion with Griswold and ECUSA, and this is not war?

You reduce the Bible to myths and stories and remove the ancient Prayer Book and tell them all they have left are the church's canons and constitutions and this is not war?

And when you have stripped the orthodox of all their cherished beliefs, called them 'fundamentalists' and 'homophobic' for even suggesting that anal sex may actually be bad for your health, not to mention God's disapproval, and then tell them you are not going to show up for war, while you hurl 16inch rounds from 500 or 3,000 miles away, is fatuous beyond all belief.

And then when you have finished beating them up on Omaha Beach, tell the orthodox that if they even think about leaving with their properties because they don't want to jeopardize the souls of the faithful, they will see a side of the bishop they never knew existed. He will "shoot" the rector, invoking Canon 4 or 10 and bury the poor parish priest with more law suits than there are 39 Articles, and then sit back using Diocesan Trust Funds to obtain the best legal counsel he can find and hammer the poor bastards into the ground. Talk to Fr. Eddy Rix or Fr. David Ousley in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. They have stories to tell about the way Bishop Charles Bennison has treated them. Bennison is at war with orthodoxy in his diocese.

New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham is at war with 11 parishes in his diocese. Ed Salmon (South Carolina) is at war with one parish in his diocese, and John W. Howe (Central Florida) has filed suit against a parish in his diocese. The list could go on and on.

And what about individual orthodox bishops who are at war with revisionist clergy and laity in their own dioceses. Ask Bishop Terence Kelshaw about what Via Media, the leftist group in his diocese is doing to promote a pro-sodomite candidate of their own to succeed him. They literally stole the whole Diocesan mailing list and used it to promote their pansexual agenda.

Or talk to Bishop Bertram Herlong in the Diocese of Tennessee about how the Episcopalfreespeech.com crowd is using anonymous names to stoke up a presentment against him on some phony charge or other about his lack of inclusivity.

Or why Florida Bishop Steve Jecko and San Diego Bishop Gethin Hughes retired early because they couldn't stand the political pressure any more and wanted out.

And this is not the effect of a war?

Or the sneaky way revisionists in the Diocese of North Dakota tried to push one of their own by dumping five candidates on the unsuspecting diocese without ever asking them the "S" questions. The orthodox put up one of their own in at the last minute, but he didn't have a prayer, judging by the final statistics reported in The Living Church.

That the Episcopal Church is at war with itself is painfully obvious to even the most unenlightened. Across the country biblically orthodox parishes and their rectors are waging courageous battles against revisionist bishops. From New Westminster, to North Dakota, from Montana to Tennessee, from Southern Virginia, to Albany and even in New Hampshire, the battle rages. No diocese is unaffected. And the result? The loss of millions of dollars in revenues as Episcopalians close their check books. Funds are being withheld at record levels. And this is not war? (And this while the stock market is roaring upwards.)

And England says, "I think that message (convincing the press that the church is not going to split) and our focus on reconciliation is starting to get through."

What reconciliation? The American Anglican Council, the new Network, (NACDP), two Plano gatherings, endless diocesan dogfights between Left and the Right, the relentless growth of the AMiA, and he smells reconciliation in the air?

This is fiction of the highest order.

England again: "We are not going to strike back at anybody." Really. Pray tell me what David Booth Beers, Griswold's personal attorney is doing running around the country putting the fear of God (or Frank) into diocesan chancellors instructing them not to let parishes walk away from ECUSA or he will invoke the Denis Canon if they do. This is not striking back? This is not, at the very least coercion? This is not war?

It's time for a novel, "My life with Frank&the untold story".

The national church is losing funds left and right from dioceses both orthodox and heterodox and by all accounts it is going to get worse. And there would seem to be no way back unless legal threats of coercion are made and ecclesiastical action is taken by revisionist bishops whose final recourse is the Canons and Constitutions.

And this is reconciliation?

ECUSA's biblically orthodox are under siege from one end of the country to the other. The Anglo-Catholics have almost been wiped out and Evangelicals who are growing like crazy are only tolerated because they bring in much needed cash to keep revisionist bishops in travel to HOB meetings where they mock them and call them homophobic for not getting in line behind Vickie Gene. But you had better write out the checks or they will come after you.

"We think the controversy is beginning to die down," says England.

In his dreams.

If it is tell that to Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan who would love to hear that news. Or maybe Griswold should send a note to Canon David Anderson of the AAC and tell him that he is really on the right side of the angels after all, and we love you and want your perspective on things.

Then he should send a telegram to Fr. David L. Moyer in Philadelphia and apologize to him for all the nonsense he has had to put up with from Bishop Bennison and if he [Bennison] gives him any more trouble, he'll refer Bennison to the Title IV Review Committee.

All this will happen when the proverbial hell freezes over.

Then to cap off his spin, England writes, "But even if it doesn't, we intend to use the bad press to get our message across. If it goes well, that will be like free publicity."

Oh my Lord. England, desperate for any shred of dignity he and his boss can salvage from Vickie Gene's consecration says he plans to use the bad press to get the national church's message across.

And what message is that? Inclusivity of bizarre sexual behaviors like ordaining a transsexual deacon! Diversity that DOESN'T include biblically orthodox folk because they have narrow uninclusive views about the limits of sexual expression, and believe sin and salvation have been rubbished by the deep thinkers at 815 or twisted beyond all Biblical recognition?

Or perhaps ECUSA can convince the world that our new found Doctrine of Inclusivity means that the Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton (Newark) can regularize "holy one night stands" and include them in The Book of Occasional Services, Lesser Feasts and Fasts, how to Enrich Our Worship. Or perhaps Oklahoma Bishop Robert Moody can elevate history's first ordained transsexual deacon (Paul to Paula Schonauer) and offer her/him to be the next bishop suffragan of Newark, NJ. They'd love to have him/her. Louie will cast the first vote. Croneberger and Schonauer perfect together.

No, there is a war and it is ongoing, and to drive the point home, some 13-revisionist ECUSA bodies are meeting next month in Atlanta to find a way forward (or strategy) to defeat the AAC and NACDP. The national church will send three representatives. They hope to get 40. Plano got nearly 4,000.

Whatever "free publicity" England hopes to salvage from this negative publicity defies all human logic.

The Apostle Paul said, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers", he just never figured that the latter would be inside The Episcopal Church, and that the world, the flesh and the devil were making nice in the majority of ECUSA's dioceses, and that the barbarians were now firmly within the gates being enabled by nine of the church's 11 seminaries.

Every day in every way, from the loss of millions of dollars to parishes leaving and thousands of Episcopalians walking away from the denomination, the Episcopal Church is slowly dying. The ECUSA hulk is on a sandbank, flopping about like a dying whale. The only question is can it be rescued in time.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004
 
Saint Matthais's Day.


O ALMIGHTY God, who into the place of the traitor Judas didst choose thy faithful servant Matthias to be of the number of the twelve Apostles; Grant that thy Church, being alway preserved from false Apostles, may be ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
Jewish outrage over 'Passion' contradicts Talmud account

Commentary by DAVID KLINGHOFFER


Mel Gibson's forthcoming movie about the death of Jesus, "The Passion," has created an angry standoff between the filmmaker and Jewish critics who charge him with anti-Semitism. It's a controversy that will continue to affect relations between Christians and Jews unless some way to cool it can be found. One possible cooling agent is an honest look at how ancient Jewish sources portrayed the Crucifixion.

According to people who have seen a rough cut, Gibson's film depicts the death of Christ as occurring at the hands of the Romans but at the instigation of Jewish leaders, the priests of the Jerusalem Temple. The Anti-Defamation League charges that this recklessly stirs anti-Jewish hatred and demands that the film be edited to eliminate any suggestion of Jewish deicide.

But like the Christian Gospels that form the basis of Gibson's screenplay, Jewish tradition acknowledges that our leaders in first-century Palestine played a role in Jesus' execution. If Gibson is an anti-Semite, so is the Talmud and so is the greatest Jewish sage of the past 1,000 years, Maimonides.

We will never know for certain what happened in Roman Palestine around the year 30, but we do know what Jews who lived soon afterward said about Jesus' execution.

The Talmud was compiled in about the year 500, drawing on rabbinic material that had been transmitted orally for centuries. From the 16th century on, the text was censored and passages about Jesus and his execution were erased to evade Christian wrath. But the full text was preserved in older manuscripts, and today the censored parts can be found in minuscule type, as an appendix at the back of some Talmud editions.

A relevant example comes from the Talmudic division known as Sanhedrin, which deals with procedures of the Jewish high court: "On the eve of Passover they hung Jesus of Nazareth. And the herald went out before him for 40 days (saying, 'Jesus) goes forth to be stoned, because he has practiced magic, enticed and led astray Israel. Anyone who knows anything in his favor, let him come and declare concerning him.' And they found nothing in his favor."

The passage indicates that Jesus' fate was entirely in the hands of the Jewish court. The last two of the three items on Jesus' rap sheet, that he "enticed and led astray" fellow Jews, are terms from Jewish biblical law for an individual who influenced others to serve false gods, a crime punishable by being stoned, then hung on a wooden gallows. In the Mishnah, the rabbinic work on which the Talmud is based, compiled about the year 200, Rabbi Eliezer explains that anyone who was stoned to death would then be hung by his hands from two pieces of wood shaped like a capital letter T -- in other words, a cross (Sanhedrin 6:4).

These texts convey religious beliefs, not necessarily historical facts. The Talmud elsewhere agrees with the Gospel of John that Jews at the time of the Crucifixion did not have the power to carry out the death penalty. Also, other Talmudic passages place Jesus 100 years before or after his actual lifetime. Some Jewish apologists argue that these must therefore deal with a different Jesus of Nazareth. But this is not how the most authoritative rabbinic interpreters, medieval sages including Nachmanides, Rashi and the Tosaphists, saw the matter.

Maimonides, writing in 12th century Egypt, made clear that the Talmud's Jesus is the one who founded Christianity. In his great summation of Jewish law and belief, the Mishneh Torah, he wrote of "Jesus of Nazareth, who imagined that he was the Messiah, but was put to death by the court." In his "Epistle to Yemen," Maimonides states that "Jesus of Nazareth... interpreted the Torah and its precepts in such a fashion as to lead to their total annulment. The sages, of blessed memory, having become aware of his plans before his reputation spread among our people, meted out fitting punishment to him."

It's unfair of Jewish critics to defame Gibson for saying what the Talmud and Maimonides say, and what many historians say.

Would it have been better if Gibson never undertook to make this movie in exactly the way he did? Maybe, but trying to intimidate him into fundamentally reworking it was never a realistic or worthy goal. The best option now is to acknowledge that other sources besides the Gospels confirm the involvement of Jewish leaders in Jesus' death and clear the anger from the air. Considering that Gibson's portrayal coincides closely with traditional Jewish belief, it seems that leaving him alone is the decent as well as the Jewish thing to do.


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DAVID KLINGHOFFER is a columnist for the Jewish Forward and author of "The Discovery of God: Abraham and the Birth of Monotheism." He wrote this commentary for the Los Angeles Times

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