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The Futile journey of The Three Not So Wise Men


News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

Two American Episcopal bishops and a seminary Dean are in Africa trying to understand why African Anglican Provinces and their bishops will have nothing to do with ECUSA's theological and moral innovations.

The three are John Lipscomb, Diocesan Bishop of Southwest Florida, Ted Daniels, Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Texas and Titus Pressler, Dean of the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest.

Dr. Pressler wrote a letter from Nairobi, Kenya, which Virtuosity has obtained, explaining their 12-day mission.

"The purpose of the trip is to have conversations with African bishops in the context of the current tensions in the Anglican Communion. We hope to build relationships that can strengthen our communion in Christ, even as we aware of differences."

Pressler says that formal statements publicized by many parties are not as good as "face-to-face conversation." The trip is being pushed by Frank Griswold ECUSA's Presiding Bishop who is now persona non grata in most of Africa.

"We view the trip as a pilot project in having conversation and building relationships. The keynotes are listening and vulnerability." Pressler positions it theologically on the "incarnation of God."

Pressler writes: "We are seeking to communicate that there is a diversity of views within the Episcopal Church and that dialogue is ongoing. We are inviting conversation...we are sharing our confidence that most Episcopalians are committed to unity of our church amid current disagreements." Pressler argued for what he called "companionship in mission."

Titus Pressler is either ignorant, a fool, or he thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of bishops and Primates of the Global South.

"Pressler's assumption that the good ship ECUSA can stay afloat because part of the hull is intact is simply wrong. Just because ECUSA shares some things with the Christian Faith, the places where it doesn't, leave gaping holes below the water line," said EKKLESIA leader Canon Bill Atwood who acts as a go between for orthodox bishops in the West with those in the Global South.

"The trip is a pernicious strategy to use weak bishops that voted against Robinson but support Frank Griswold. Griswold is clearly behind this whole trip in an effort to find weak links in Africa," said Atwood.

And Pressler's own seminary, The Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest recently approved of homosexuals and lesbians who come to his seminary to cohabit in the dorms, something that is totally anathema to Global South Primates and bishops.

They won't even send their seminarians there any more. Two ordained homosexuals standing up in a pulpit telling us about God's redeeming love, of freedom from sin and grace! The Africans will never buy it.

Why then should the Africans listen to anything Pressler has to say? He goes to Africa as head of a morally flawed seminary and expects graceful conversation. In his dreams. All these "wise men" are doing is running interference for Frank Griswold, because he has been declared anathema on that continent!

Pressler says he views the trip as being about "conversation". Now that's a buzzword for, we'll listen to you, if you listen to us about sodomy and then you agree that you are wrong and we are right. Fiat Lux.

Then he talks about "listening" and "vulnerability". Let me explain what these words means in the cultural context of the ECUSA. The orthodox have been listening to Episcopal homosexualists whine for over 30 years about sodomy, and all it has done is polarize the Episcopal Church to the extent that we now have two churches inside one. The orthodox have been pushed to the margins on this subject for the last four general conventions till their brains have become numb and they are still being yelled at as uninclusivie, homophobic, narrow-minded fundamentalists, and dozens of orthodox parish priests are either being hounded out of their parishes or forced to leave because they won't get into lockstep with their revisionist Episcopal bosses (bishops).

That's what "listening" and "vulnerability" has done. The orthodox have been so damn vulnerable that a bunch of them are now hiring lawyers to fight their revisionists bosses who demand total obedience, especially over money, so the bishops are using the Canons and Constitutions like a broken sewer pipe. Conform or else, is the word being spoken from East coast to West coast. And Pressler thinks he can schmooze the Africans into believing that his intentions are honorable!!! What foul calumny is this?

Pressler: "We are seeking to communicate that there is a diversity of views within the Episcopal Church and that dialogue is ongoing. We are inviting conversation...we are sharing our confidence that most Episcopalians are committed to unity of our church amid current disagreements."

Well, diversity has been forcibly entrenched and dialogue is a joke. If the revisionists don't get what they want immediately they invoke local option and do it anyway. Furthermore how is Pressler going to explain to African bishops the existence of the Anglican Communion NETWORK or the AAC, or Plano East, West, North and South or the cries of orthodox priests under siege in Connecticut or Eastern Michigan or Pennsylvania et al and the fact that the vast majority of ECUSA dioceses will never allow graduates from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, a solidly Evangelical seminary to darken their diocesan doors.

They could ask Dr. Pressler about some of Bishop Charles Bennison's attitudes towards Africans especially the part about likening their growth to the growth of the Nazi Party. Now there's a party stopper. Perhaps Pressler and Lipscomb and Daniel's can do a Mea Culpa and apologize for Pontius Bennison's remarks. After all Pope John Paul II apologized for the Crusades...it's the least the three "wise men" from the West could do. But don't count on it.

Perhaps Dr. Pressler can give the Africans a lecture on theological diversity in The Episcopal Church seminaries and how they all work together. He could make up a story about all the love that Sewanee, EDS, GTS and VTS shower on Nashotah House. Then they can write and tell Virtuosity all about it.

Pressler says Episcopalians want unity. Maybe. But not unity at any price. The majority of the orthodox are staying because they believe they can outlive the revisionist agenda and in time things could swing back. They may be right, or they could be wrong. The Bishop of South Carolina believes that but the Bishop of the Anglican Mission in America, in his backyard, does not.

Pressler talks about "reconciliation in Christ" but reconciling what exactly. Does he really believe that a church that cannot affirm Resolution B001 on basic Christian doctrines can be reconciled with an African Church that does believe B001. Or that heterosexual behavior can be "reconciled" with homosexual behavior is a win win for the Kingdom? Pressler is blowing smoke if he does.

Pressler talks about "healing our alienations" to "release energy and vision for shared mission". This is pure theobabble.

The alienations are there precisely because the Episcopal Church no longer believes in
the authority of Holy Scripture, denigrates the very orthodox folk who have a clear fix on the content of the gospel, and is pushing pluriformity which has no gospel absolutes at all!

We have a church that no longer calls sin by its name, talks endlessly about the need for anti-racism training, while Spong, Bennison and Griswold have all made denigrating comments about the backwardness of African Christians!

And Pressler, Lipscomb and Daniels expect to be taken seriously?

A choice two lines in Pressler's letter reads thus: "We are inviting conversation (that word again) about the dynamics of the rooting of Christ's gospel in local cultures, an important aspect of events in our church."

Oh God, here we go again. The gospel message is the same whether it is spoken in English, Swahili or Booga Booga. It is the same message whether you are wearing a toga or a $1,200 Boss suit and Givenchi tie bought in Times Square, whether you wear a Timex or a Rolex on your wrist. Culture is irrelevant to the core message of the gospel.

Does Pressler honestly think that American culture (which many of us see is in massive denial and decline) requires a different understanding of the gospel because Phoebe Griswold shops at Gucci and Pucci and Frank's Soutane comes from Almy's and Otis and Guido and Louie and Ernest are making whoopee with each other! Jesus and Paul never had laptops, I do, and no one (who knows me) would ever (in their right mind) confuse me with the other two gentlemen. I am still trying to figure out Romans 9-11.

The three not so wise men should have stayed at home. They could have spent the plane fare on supporting an AIDS clinic in South Africa, it would have done more good. They will get nothing but smiles, nods and hospitality from the Africans, because the Africans are unfailingly hospitable and polite even to those who disagree with them, but that is all they will get.

Come October and they will learn just how far off base they have been, and by next February they will be crying in their empty cupcakes. But no one can say they were never warned.


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