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ECUSA: Widening Rift, Growing Anarchy in House of Bishops


News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

If the armed sheriffs who stood outside the gates of Camp Allen, Navasota to greet ECUSA’s House of Bishops is anything to go by; either the mostly revisionist bishops feared a vast right wing orthodox conspiracy requiring an armed put down, or worse, that the unbiblical decisions made by the HOB might be overturned by a Nazarene wearing prophetic robes with nail prints in his hands, carrying a large crook, announcing the judgment of God.

The Lamb of God would never have gained admittance however, because he would have failed the photo identification test at the gate. “Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any one hears my voice…” takes on a whole new meaning.

In any event Frank Griswold and Vicki Gene Robinson felt safe enough with armed guards at the gate not to wear bullet proof vests, (they both did at Robinson’s consecration), a leftist paranoia designed to scare the orthodox, in the same way ECUSA’s pansexualists occasionally scream “they are trying to kill us” when all the evidence points to the exact opposite.

It is this writer’s contention that God will keep Louie Crew and Jack Spong alive long enough to see the damage they have wrought over 35 years – a more fitting end cannot be imagined.

One can imagine that, at the Last Judgment, both informing the One who died for their sins (here God will pause and replay the Passion in heavenly DVD) that all they were trying to do is update His sexuality clauses in the 10 Commandments. In Spong’s case, he will tell the Father of Light that the Apostle Paul was really a self-loathing homosexual and could not be trusted to tell the truth about human sexuality anyway.

Behind them both, waiting his turn for judgment will be the fey figure of Frank Griswold in deep “conversation”, talking “graciously” with Sufi Rumi and 61 revisionist bishops trailing behind both men. His and their fate sealed long ago. The words “depart from me I never knew you” waiting to be uttered with all due solemnity.

BY all accounts, news of what actually transpired at Camp Allen signaled growing anarchy among the House of Bishops.

Four bishops from the Network of Anglican Communion Diocese and Parishes (NACDP) – the Rt. Rev Keith Ackerman, Bishop of Quincy, the Rt. Rev Jack Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth; the Rt. Rev. Terence Kelshaw, Bishop of the Rio Grande and the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of San Joaquin did not attend the august gathering of purple.

Two other orthodox bishops, Peter Beckwith of Springfield and James Stanton of Dallas left before the debate on the oversight plan began. Only Western Kansas Bishop James M. Adams and Central Florida Bishop John W. Howe stayed for the duration and voted for DEPO.

One bishop, Ed Salmon of South Carolina left after voting no on the Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight plan and Bishops Daniel Herzog of Albany and Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh left before the vote was even taken, according to The Living Church magazine.

But among the orthodox bishops there was no unanimity. Howe described the document as “workable” while Bishop Schofield said it was “a sham” and the meeting of the bishops “four wasted days.”

Albany Suffragan Bishop David Bena said it was “half a loaf” and therefore better than none.

What we now know is that DEPO basically keeps power in the hands of the diocesan bishop with jurisdictional rights for the diocesan. On the plus side, an orthodox priest can argue and appeal his case for months, possibly years thus keeping a revisionist bishop out of his parish indefinitely. Truly God is not mocked.

That the HOB is showing increasing strain and disarray might also signal a fatal implosion waiting to happen. How long can this false “unity” continue without some layperson, or maybe an archbishop who can see over Lambeth walls yelling, “look the ECUSA bishops have no theological clothes”.

That the House of Bishops is largely a house of smoke and mirrors held together by a vague bonhomie when most of them cannot affirm the Nicene Creed, agree on the substance of the ‘faith once delivered’, the Lambeth Quadrilateral, and believe sodomy is good and right in the eyes of God, points up the fiction that they are united. What disunites them is greater than what unites them. An Insane Asylum is more unified.

Consider how impotent they really are.

They are incapable of disciplining any bishop either orthodox or heterodox.

I wrote, over a year ago, that it would require the equivalent of a blinding transfiguration to raise up any bishop or group of bishops to bring an action of presentment against erring episcopii.

The canons are now so unwieldy as to bring doctrinal charges against a bishop and making them stick, almost impossible.

Since the 1970s, John Shelby Spong (Newark ret.) has consistently flouted the House of Bishops with one repudiation after another of the historic faith culminating in his 12 Theses which repudiates everything the Christian Church has stood for, for over two millennia. Nothing collectively has ever been done to even attempt to bring Spong to trial
even though individual bishops have taken a swing at Spong.

In fact the Presiding Bishop, when asked why he has not acted against Spong, told the retired Bishop of South Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Dr. C. FitzSimons Allison that Spong was responsible for many people staying in the Episcopal Church.

So Spong's outrageous repudiation and regular trashing of the witness of Scripture and 2,000 years of church history goes undisciplined by an impotent House of Bishops.

And a third rate theological wart called Bishop Walter Righter was presented against but the case never went to trial because the charges were dismissed against the thrice-married bishop, based on a massive legal fudge - no one could agree whether the canons spoke to the issue of homosexuality. The church's canons were clearly held to a higher standard than Scripture.

More recently the former Bishop of Iowa has been performing ecclesiastical acts in some six parishes in the Diocese of Pittsburgh without Bishop Duncan’s approval. We will wait and see if the HOB will act this time. Don’t hold your breath.

But the HOB could not even act when Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison and Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan were asked to explain themselves to the HOB over a "deposed" Anglo-Catholic priest Fr. David Moyer.

Bennison has been trying to unseat Fr. Moyer by fraudulently using the wrong canon and then using a variety of bullying tactics. Bishop Duncan took the priest temporarily under his wing, and when a number of international primates were brought into the arena the whole thing wound up at a HOB meeting where each bishop was asked to explain himself.

After a mea culpa from Duncan and the refusal of Bennison to back down, the HOB just whisked the whole thing away in a pathetic display of "we don't know what to do, because we don't know whose side to take because we don't want to hurt collegiality."

But then the HOB said that bishops' valid depositions should be recognized by all. They stuck it to Duncan but then did nothing to Bennison who then felt vindicated by what they said and didn't do. Bennison claimed victory, but it was not a victory at all. No one is recognizing the "deposition" except Bennison.

And the end result? Nothing happened. The whole thing was fobbed off onto a committee where it disappeared without trace.

Most of ECUSA’s bishops are absolutely convinced that either God has changed his mind about sexual behavior, or they are changing it for Him, snubbing Holy Scripture as largely dated or irrelevant.

The former Bishop of New York, Richard Grein divorced his wife with other women cited. This same bishop gave the word "abuse" a new meaning in the way he dealt with orthodox priests, firing one woman priest from a parish to put his close "personal friend" in her place. And the bishop walks away from 39 charges against him! Frank Griswold saw to that.

And then there was Jane Dixon the former suffragan Bishop of Washington known as "jack boot Jane", who violated the plain reading of the canons in the Accokeek bludgeon of a single Anglo-Catholic priest and escaped any penalty for it. In fact the review panel concluded that both Dixon and Christ Church, Accokeek’s interpretation of the canons was reasonable.

Then Bennison reappeared on the radar screen and said Jesus was a sinner - against all the witness of history and the testimony of Scripture, and no bishop has ever issued a presentment against him. When I inquired of an orthodox bishop as to why not, he said simply and truthfully, that it would never stick and probably never make it out of the Title IV Review Committee. He’s probably right.

The Pennsylvania Standing Committee is also impotent and won’t act against Bennison, most of them wouldn’t know Jesus if he walked across the Schuylkill River with a sign saying I AM THE MESSIAH.

The House of Bishops is sick unto spiritual death. They may dress up in fine clothes, strut their stuff like so many turkeys, parade around in embroidered gowns even, and on occasion look pious, while dancing the Circle Dance of Dispossession - but it is all a big sham and lie.

And the worst offender sits at the top of the purple heap - Frank Tracy Griswold - whose theological opinions have been labeled by the Rev. Dr. Robert Sanders as "mystic paganism" - a man out of theological touch with the Faith as revealed in time, space and history and with historic Anglicanism. And neither Griswold himself nor a single bishop has stepped forward to repudiate one word of Dr. Sander's brilliant analysis of the Presiding Bishop. How could they?

It is a terrible and sad indictment of a once proud church that boasts 11 presidents, dozens of senators and community leaders, but has over the course of 40 years trashed its spiritual heritage for immorality, perverse sexual behaviors and plain doctrinal unbelief.

And what is deeply troubling is that there is absolutely no sense of the judgment of God by these bishops. None. All the talk is about accepting whatever sexual perversion you may choose, of feeling good about yourself and fulfilling yourself, with nothing about dying to the self, repentance and faith, justification, sanctification or the Last Judgment.

Truth is now defined as 'my story' and 'my experience' it is no longer faithful affirmation or objective. It is "thinking good thoughts" not prayer.

The gospel, in most dioceses, is barely recognizable, while anti-racism training supplants true repentance for such sin, while anti-Semitism creeps in by the back door. And there's a $2 million dollar fiction circulating around ECUSA that the church will double by 2020.

The only question is where and when will it all end?

Frank Griswold has one job, as he sees it, to keep ECUSA together come hell or high water, and he will do it by lying, playing off sides against each other, ducking and weaving, prevaricating and occasionally raising his voice in temper tantrums and self-righteous anger.

But the glue will not hold forever. Sin cannot hold a group of men and women together if lies and subterfuge lie at the core of an institution. The center cannot hold when truth is severely compromised.

In March 2002 the House of Bishops met in Camp Allen, Texas, and the call went out for sustained pastoral provision and Episcopal care to be made for those conservative parishes primarily of evangelical and Anglo-Catholic churchmanship.

Two years later not much has changed. Now we have DEPO and it is still a basic win for revisionist bishops, especially Bennison who says he plans to ignore it anyway.

The cry has gone up, lead by the AAC and NACDP, “How long, Oh Lord, how long”. The answer is no longer blowing in the wind, it is blowing through the House of Bishops, which, like a Baghdad bomb will implode one day leaving the HOB with body parts scattered all over the Retreat floor.

And when it happens no one can blame a Vast Right Wing Orthodox Conspiracy, the HOB will have done it to themselves.


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