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'The days of so-called "Pluriform Truth" are over' - by John-David Schofield

'The days of so-called "Pluriform Truth" are over'

by John-David Schofield

It was at my personal request of the editor of the San Joaquin Star that this month's publication be delayed for the good reason that the decision of the Primates of our worldwide Anglican Communion regarding the status of the American and Canadian Provinces would be made known after our normal deadline for publication.

Since that time, the Primates have spoken. Indeed, due to very frank conversations with one another, the full time set aside for deliberation at their meeting in Ireland was not needed. Their communique was issued...earlier than expected.

What has become clear is that the days of so-called "Pluriform Truth" are over. The liberals have clearly lost any control of the direction that the Anglican Communion is going.

One of the first signs of the present direction appeared unmistakably in a vote at the 1998 Lambeth Conference where 70 liberal bishops were told by 526 orthodox bishops that we as Anglicans would remain true to our heritage-namely that questions of morality (and here-more specifically questions regarding human sexuality) would be determined by remaining faithful to the Bible's clear teaching on homosexuality.

Even then being soundly defeated at the Lambeth Conference, American bishops held news conferences saying that Lambeth Conference had no authority to dictate what we in the United States would or would not do. That same rebellious voice is now being lifted against the Primates. Already American bishops are being heard to say, "Who needs the Archbishop of Canterbury?" "Who needs the Anglican Communion?"

There is even one organization within our diocese that has appropriated to itself the name "Remain Episcopal" who support the deviant and rebellious stances of some of our national leaders-leaders who, by the way, have been put on notice to appear before the Anglican Consultative Council to explain themselves in June 2005. For those who want to remain Episcopalians, there is a need to check out our founding documents that define us as constituent members of the Anglican Communion.

What the Primates have done in allowing North American Anglicans (including the Church in Canada as well as ourselves in the United States) to "voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference" is to set a deadline for North Americans to get in line with: 1) Scripture, 2) Tradition,3) the rest of the Anglican Communion- or recognize that they have separated themselves from the very essentials that make us Episcopalians.

To assert Scripture as the basis of our faith and morality is not-as liberal detractors claim-to make us "brain dead fundamentalists." On the contrary, the choice is now clear- will we be Episcopalians recognizing our part of the Anglican Communion or will we cut ourselves off from the worldwide Communion to follow deviant behavior based on a distortion of Scripture or an open recognition of a clear departure from Scripture. (One bishop in the American House of Bishops has already stated publicly that Scripture is nothing more than poetry with some interesting historical documents- here, read: not relevant to today.)

At its January meeting in Salt Lake City, the mood of the House of Bishops was arrogant and decidedly opposed to any moratorium to be placed on electing and consecrating bishops living in a homosexual relationship. One bishop suggested that we place a moratorium on the election of ALL bishops. (This makes as much sense as directing that not only all who knowingly disobey the law, but those who keep the law be punished!)

It is highly unlikely that the House of Bishops will act any differently this month, March, than it did in January. More and more the behavior of the American House of Bishops who are prepared to play with language when what is at stake is truth and the souls of our people appears to be headed for an inevitable clash with those who would guide their lives by the Bible and remain in communion with Anglicans around the world.

A Panel of Reference has already been appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to receive the complaints and pleas of those Episcopalians who are actively being persecuted for their adherence to the Bible. Even at this writing within a week of the Primates' meeting over 70 documented abuses by liberals in the United States have been forwarded to the Archbishop's Panel.

The support of the Primates for dioceses such as ours in San Joaquin has been most encouraging as we remain faithful to the teaching of Bible and Book of Common Prayer.

It has been good, too, to see those who have played loosely with the truth unmasked and seen for what they are doing- holding to an agenda that is contrary to Scripture.

In the months that lie ahead while the House of Bishops meets once again and Americans and Canadians who have chosen to walk apart from Scripture and the teaching of the Church are called up before an international body to explain themselves, we-in the Diocese of San Joaquin-will continue to keep and proclaim the faith recognized by Episcopalians until 30 years ago-praying that many who have been drawn away from the saving and life-transforming power of the Risen Savior will come to know the freedom that His truth and His truth alone can give.

–The Right Reverend John-David Mercer Schofield is the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin

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