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Bishop Mariann Budde's Fantasy Theology: Her Manipulation of the Christian Faith

Bishop Mariann Budde's Fantasy Theology: Her Manipulation of the Christian Faith

By Sarah Frances Ives
Special to Virtueonline
August 1, 2012

On July 30, 2012, the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington, an article published on a Washington Post blog "Rediscovering the Reasons for Our Existence: Liberal Christianity Can Be Saved."

Budde has based her career on this plan; during her 2011 election, she openly declared this as her signature notion at public forums. As she presented her plan, she noted accurately that only orthodox and conservative churches are growing. With their vibrant faith, these churches refer to Jesus and God in their preaching and in their prayers. So, Budde concludes, ultra-liberal Episcopal churches should keep their same values but should talk about these values by simply using the name of Jesus. Incredibly, she has told both ordained and lay leaders to use more religious language in public meetings. Yet Budde's plan for using the name of Jesus as a rhetorical device endangers the very reality of redemption: now in her vision for the Episcopal Church, members are not seeking the will of God but marketing faith through the manipulative use of the name of Jesus. She takes personal idiosyncratic ideas that appear narcissistic and then labels them with the name of Jesus.

The danger of this should be noted. The scripture reads, "At the name of Jesus, every knee should bow." Philippians 2:10. Indeed, knowing the name of Jesus is a great gift to humanity. But Jesus also said, "Not everyone who says 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Matthew 7:21. In fact, Budde does not emphasize seeking the will of God.

The best examples of Budde's twisted reasoning come from her own writing as she exposes her plan to rejuvenate the Episcopal Church. In a November 13, 2011 sermon, Budde quoted her non-Christian, New Age master David Whyte. In one sentence towards the beginning, Budde demotes Jesus to the level of one of many spiritualists by saying, "Jesus and all of the great spiritual masters before and after him." Budde's self-revelation about her mantra and dependence on Whyte came quickly in the sermon. "In a fragile time in my young adulthood, a person I admired... looked into my eyes and said, 'You are a unique expression of God's creative genius.' And she told me to repeat that mantra every morning as I looked in the mirror until I knew it in my heart. Now from this esteemed pulpit and on behalf of Christ, I say the same to you. In the words of David Wythe 'you are not an accident amidst other accidents you were invited from another and greater night than the one from which you have just emerged.'"

Throughout her sermon, Budde then peppered the name "Jesus" and "Christ" frequently, giving her own unique interpretation of what He stood for. Budde said repeatedly, "Jesus lifted me." But then we must wonder why she encouraged this mantra rather than faithful dependence on Jesus. And when Budde wished to support her ideas, she continually turned back to the Whyte poem "you are not an accident" and her autosuggestion mantra (whose source is unknown). Although her words and values were from David Whyte, she concluded that "Jesus lifted me." This is Budde's classic modus operandi.

Her thinking is completely New Age spirituality but she glosses it over with an attribution to Jesus. "On behalf of Christ" she tells people "you are not an accident" words which are clearly not ones of Christ.

At the height of her sermon, Budde broke loose with one of her characteristic flights-of-fancy. "And so, back in 2003, when a Lutheran pastor whom I deeply admired wondered aloud why the Episcopal Church insisted on taking so controversial a position on the full inclusion of gays and lesbians at the very time we needed to grow our congregations, I said to him, 'You don't understand.

The full inclusion of lesbians and gays wasn't something we thought up on our own. God led us to this place. It has not been an easy road. And some day you will thank us because we are making it easier for you to do the same. This is our treasure. This is our treasure.'" She continued with the autosuggestion mantra, "We are a unique expression of God's creative genius. Never doubt the importance of what you are doing and what we are doing on this earth."

The Bible of course never sees homosexuality as our treasure and also never states that we are a unique expression of God's creative genius. Yet Budde proclaims these New Age words in the name of Christ. Budde denies the guidance of Christian scriptures and doctrine in her pronouncement but only uses the name of Jesus as a rhetorical device to sway people's thinking and actions.

Yes indeed Budde has been transformed but not by the Christian faith but by an unknown spiritual power. In her words, she calls the Episcopal Church to a similar mission "to help transform this culture by allowing ourselves to be transformed." The reason for the decline in the Episcopal Church is because of this rejection of the orthodox understanding of redemption of Jesus and the replacement of this with thinkers like David Whyte and his follower Budde.

Budde appears to have had some private revelation declaring that homosexuality within the Episcopal Church is a treasure, yet she tells us nothing about the source or method of communication of this revelation. She writes, "Hard as it is for some to believe, we felt led by God to change." Then as part of the church, explain this. Did you have a vision and see things or people talking to you? Was it just feelings of wanting to go along with the dominant liberal movement of our culture? Her giddy assertion about this call needs public discernment and not just blind following. Her ideas read like personal fantasies.

Yet even Budde surpassed herself in her bizarre July 19, 2012, diocesan email. After the 2012 General Convention, she sent out an email in which she refused to discuss the actions of the Episcopal Church and its now tradition-breaking acceptance of the blessing of homosexual relationships. Instead, she highlighted that she had trouble finding her way around the Convention Center, which means she had trouble reading a map and finding rooms.

She writes, "I'll leave discussion about the decisions and potential results from Convention for another time and place. Today, I remember the hundreds of people who volunteered their time simply to be of help. Without exception, every time I had a question about where a gathering was held, or where to go, or simply where I was in the maze of the Indianapolis Convention Center and adjacent hotels, there was someone in a brightly colored vest ready to assist me. I was typically late for meetings, and those standing by with a smile and directions spared me the embarrassment of feeling hopelessly lost in a great sea of efficient and busy Episcopalians."

What? We will not discuss whether our very relationship with the creator of the universe and his Son our Savior has been threatened. We will leave that for another time? When? When our culture lies in desolation and our lives have become a wasteland, we might notice that we have decided to leave behind our Christian faith and instead live into a demonic New Age spirituality?

The General Convention changes the two-thousand year tradition about homosexuality and all should be concerned about the theological and spiritual roots and implications of this change. Yet Budde tells us about her literally lost walks around the Convention Center.

Budde also announced that she ignored an old friend. "My deepest regret at General Convention is that I didn't take the time to spend with an old friend. His kindness and concern was a palpable expression of grace. . . . At General Convention, we passed in the hall several times and greeted each other in the hotel restaurant. . . But, I never extended to him the gracious hospitality and concern that he so freely gave when my family and I were guests in his country."

Anglicans don't need to hear about her intentional or unintentional snubbing of an old friend. We need to hear about the greater Church's relationships with the living Lord of heaven and earth whose friendship we have snubbed.

In fact, she has created on the Diocese of Washington website a Photo Gallery of pictures of herself and everyone is invited to send in pictures not of church functions, but pictures featuring Budde. Budde's self-disclosures just seem puzzling and raise questions about her motivations. In short, the Diocese of Washington seems to be struggling under a leader who suffers from self-absorption or even narcissism.

Budde reveals more than she intends. She is far away from the intense drive for salvation and the hope that humanity can live in the glorious relationship with Jesus, knowing that Jesus asks for sacrifices and divine commandments are given to us. We will honor God, not only with our lips, but with our lives and everything that has been given to us. The metaphors Budde offers in her writing are unsettling to say the least and create questions about her self-awareness.

Clearly Bishop Budde is indeed hopelessly lost in a position and culture she does not understand. And instead of seeking Jesus speaking from scriptures, she pathetically asserts her personal feelings and keeps hoping that those in the Episcopal Church want to know more about her personal life and feelings. And this is the leader we look to to help us live in the Kingdom of God?

We look to a bishop for guidance in finding salvation, entering the Kingdom of God, being kept away from temptation, for fresh hope and love and faith and a closer relationship with Christ. No one in the Diocese of Washington or even in the Anglican Communion wants to hear about her personal life and problems. Sadly her words do seem to reflect her inner life and she is "hopelessly lost" not only at the 2012 General Convention but in bizarre spiritual realities. Budde has long left behind the Christian faith and her recent article presents a sad vision for the Episcopal Church already in a path toward spiritual desolation.


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