jQuery Slider

You are here

PENNSYLVANIA: Bennison's Hubris In His "Power of Time" Message


News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison in his monthly diocesan message "The Power of Time" says that Anglican understanding of core doctrine is the 'power of time' and not the substance of the 'faith once delivered.'

He cited Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, a revisionist bishop, like himself, whose tenure saw a massive departure from the church and the closing of hundreds of parishes.

But 'time' of its very essence deals with chronology, the interval between two events or the hour of the day, it has no substance in and of itself.

But then Bennison shows his hand. He said, "when that question was raised at the Primates' Meeting last October over Gene Robinson's consecration, we agreed that the core doctrine of Anglicans is a belief in the power of time."

So Bennison's argument is that given enough 'time' the whole communion will come around to believing that the consecration of a divorced sodomite to the episcopacy will be ratified and brokered into the Anglican Communion. Time will do it, nothing else. Not the faith, not Scripture, not theology, not the church's history, just time. So with ludicrous logic "time" itself becomes a 'core doctrine.' This is a fantasists dream.

In time anyone who wants to have a "core" bi-sexual relationship may do so. All they have to do is move through a period of "reception", but in the meantime the bi-sexual can maintain the relationship because the Episcopal Church gives them that right because of local option.

Bennison goes on to illustrate his point by recalling Dean Inge (1860-1954) of St. Paul's, London who questioned the resurrection of Jesus. Citing a professor he says, "Look, the dean will die someday. Then there will be a new dean who will believe in the resurrection and, so, too, at that point will the old dean!"

Really. And what Biblical texts does Bennison use to sustain the view that anyone, especially a bishop, gets to have a second crack at salvation having spent his life decrying what he was ordained to uphold and preach?

And was Bennison thinking of himself perhaps?

Then Bennison goes on to argue that "given enough time insoluble problems sort themselves out…without our intervention." Bennison reels off a string of historical events where the church allegedly believed one thing and then changed its mind and concludes with this priceless line, "through the process of reception, the whole church tests new ideas and embodies them only when it finds them credible."

So the Episcopal Church finds sodomy credible, but the Global South bishops, in fact 95 percent of the Anglican Communion doesn't, and Frank Griswold goes ahead and participates in a consecration he swore he wouldn't, or at least until the mind of the church had been announced, which it hasn't done. Furthermore Bennison makes no mention of Scripture as part of that decisive "reception." Presumably that's irrelevant.

Then Bennison drops a clanger. He says this. "The Eames Report makes clear why we must maintain the communion of St. James the Less, Philadelphia, All Saints', Wynnewood, and Good Shepherd, Rosemont.

Bennison has failed miserably to live by the Eames Report. He has taken "intervention" to new heights. He has sued these parishes in court for their properties, he is suing their vestries, he has tried tossing Fr. Ousley out of his rectory and he has inhibited and deposed the president of Forward in Faith North America, Fr. David Moyer, the rector of a thriving congregation. To top off his bulldozer approach to traditionalists, he told the Church of England's leading traditionalist Bishop John Broadhurst that he was not welcome to preach and celebrate at Good Shepherd last summer.

For Bennison, "reception " means receiving any lunatic idea of the moment, from his own
Visigoth Rite, to ordaining sodomists to the priesthood, (add a bishop to that list) and much more. Where does "reception" end…on a plain with Sufi Rumi and Frank Griswold?

Bennison doesn’t get it. Fully three quarters of the Anglican Communion are not in communion with ECUSA or him. They have "received" that, and that will be a permanent "reception" unless he repents.

And if we are in a time of patience and waiting, why did ECUSA mandate women's ordination in 1997 at the General Convention in Philadelphia when both Rome and Orthodoxy have spoken definitively against this. And it is even a minority position in the Anglican Communion!

Furthermore "reception" is constantly being pre-empted by something called local option, which means anything goes even if you can't get a resolution passed at General Convention. It is the most dishonest, disingenuous misuse of the church's constitution to be found.

And Bennison knows that, that is why his "message" in the March issue of the Pennsylvania Episcopalian is a complete fiction.

Bennison talks about "openness." He writes: "openness needs to be recognized and accepted by those on both sides of the debate." Really. What "openness" is Bennison exercising with multiple lawsuits and his coercive and heavy handed acts on parishes that don't conform to HIS brand of openness? Openness for Bennison is using the canons and constitutions on parishes that don't conform to his understanding of openness, which means deep-sixing the "received" teaching of the Christian Faith which he no longer "receives."

Bennison cannot, with any honesty or integrity uphold basic "core" doctrines because he doesn't believe them. He wouldn't answer four doctrinal questions as a means to end the controversy. All Bennison had to do was to affirm what every Sunday School child has learned for 2,000 years.

Bennison: "There needs to be to an openness to the possibility of the new thing being accepted by the church or rejected by the church. It also entails a willingness to live with diversity throughout the 'reception' process."

So Frank Griswold's total disobedience and high-handed action in consecrating Vickie Gene was in the spirit of "reception" or "time" when all the Primates signed off saying they would never ordain a known sodomite, and Bennison says this is acceptable?

Bennison: "Living with diversity throughout the 'reception' process", is another way of saying, 'I'll do whatever I damn well please and you had better accept it as 'diversity' and whether it is received or not we will go right on doing it anyway.'

Can you imagine the Episcopal Church renouncing V Gene Robinson's orders if the vast majority of the Anglican Communion says it will never, never, never accept that consecration as authentic and true, that broken communion with ECUSA is forever unless it repents of its action.

If that day ever comes the heavens would rent and God would announce that his beloved son Frank would sit at His right hand forever and ever and we would have to worship him throughout all eternity while he, Frank, was dressed in the finest Soutane available.

Trust me, it will never happen.

The Diocese of Pennsylvania is in financial free fall. Bennison is short over half a million dollars to run the diocese. Check books are closing, parishioners are leaving, he is closing down churches and will close more in the future. Historic churches are selling off their artifacts and more. And Bennison is reinventing the faith hoping that time will take care of everything.


Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Trinity School for Ministry
Go To Top