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By David W. Virtue

From Spokane, Washington this week, the Episcopal Church House of Bishops issued its final word to the Episcopal Church.

In their deluge of words they aligned themselves with the 'faith of the patriarchs', grieved over the Middle East, the war in Iraq, the slaughter in the Sudan and talked of the tensions and pain in the Anglican Communion.

Then they talked about themselves as "ministers of reconciliation" as "Christ's reconciling love to this broken world" and their confidence in themselves as reconcilers.

The mostly revisionist bishops first aligned themselves historically with the past. "Our time together has reminded us of the words spoken at our ordination that our 'heritage is the faith of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and those of every generation who have looked to God in hope,' and our 'joy is to follow him who came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many'."

They concluded their time together saying, "We are committed to a gracious reception of the [Lambeth] report in a spirit of humility and to a willingness to learn how we might best be faithful and responsible partners in the Anglican Communion."

They then expressed their confidence that the household of faith was "large enough to embrace us all."

There you have it.

So what was missing?

First of all there was no talk of repentance for their actions in burying the 'faith once delivered' with their rejection of Resolution B001 at last summer's General Convention. This resolution put forward by Quincy Bishop Keith Ackerman asked the HOB to: "Endorse Certain Historic Anglican Doctrines and Policies." It was defeated by 84 to 65. It was such a stunning defeat that Bishop Ackerman asked for something very rare. He asked for a roll call vote. One by one the bishops rose and were counted. Eighty four of them refused to affirm that scripture contains what is needed for salvation. Eighty four of them refused to affirm the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral. What we are talking about, just to be crystal clear, are: The Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist; The Nicene Creed; The Bible containing what is necessary for Salvation; and the historic episcopate." (BCP 877)

That the HOB could not uphold even the most basic of Anglican held beliefs forces one to conclude that the Episcopal Church bishops, despite all their fine and lofty talk of reconciliation, is theologically defunct. It is the belief of this writer that this failure of theological nerve is infinitely more dangerous than later sexuality issues that amounted to the ethical and moral icing on a cake full of mold.

Secondly the HOB did not address the 'why' of their being out of communion with some 22 provinces. All they did was express the hope, albeit vain, that the tent was big enough to embrace everyone, including them, without the need for repentance; nor did they ask (or answer) the obvious question that if they had not consecrated V. Gene Robinson would there have been a need for the Lambeth/Eames Commission.

They have denied their own consecration vows by their very failure to uphold B001. They could not affirm simple doctrines that ALL Christians, regardless of their denominational affiliation uphold and affirm.

In 2002, when challenged on whether the vast majority of his bishops actually believed the content of Scripture, the creeds etc, Frank Griswold said no ECUSA bishop had ever denied the Lambeth Quadrilateral, perhaps, but none of his revisionist bishops have ever publicly affirmed it either.

In 2003 at the General Convention in Minneapolis they did publicly deny it by voting against B001.

The truth is most revisionist bishops lip sync their way through the Prayer Book, say the creeds with fingers crossed behind their backs, and no more believe in the Lambeth Quadrilateral than Louie Crew believes in celibacy for homosexuals.

And yet Griswold continues to woo African bishops and primates to his side with incredible daring.

Even as he faces possible censure on October 18 Griswold is busy courting weak Primates. He invited the Primates of Mexico and Brazil to Spokane and he is working the phones with the Province of Burundi, Virtuosity has been told.

When I asked a reporter why Griswold did not invite Archbishop Ndungane from Southern Africa I was told; "why bother, he already has him in his back pocket." Maybe. But Ndungane and Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola recently had a very public making up between them, so separating out the African bishops may not be as easy as Griswold thinks.

But Griswold has all the adroitness of a ballerina in the opera ballet, The Fairy Queen.

Twice now, first at Oporto and then at Kanuga he managed to side step and then hold off disciplinary action for his views that, in any other century, would have gotten him tossed out of the gathering of Primates and the church itself, possibly even consigned to Hell.

He has sidestepped the conclusion of two books, The Way of Faithfulness and To Mend the Net, which called for the bishops to exercise authority in the Communion. But no more. Griswold's day is coming and he will not be able to pluriform his way around things this time.

Griswold told his fellow bishops in Spokane, "We have been encouraged by stories of health, vitality and strength within the Episcopal Church. We have also heard stories of anger, anguish and division within this church. All are responses of faithful people."

This is a fiction. Nearly every revisionist diocese is either now or will in the future be in legal conflict with orthodox clergy in their dioceses. The lawsuits will only increase this year and next, and there is not the slightest reason to believe otherwise.

A case in point is Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles. Despite his veneer of niceness and 'won't you all come home' to three departing orthodox parishes, he has threatened to go after Bishop Ben Benitez for taking them under his ecclesiastical wing. Now if does that then the "Akron Five" bishops will go after Bruno, I am told. You ain't seen nothin' yet. The conflict averse Griswold will have more bishops to take to the Title IV Review Committee for presentment than there are calendar months in the year.

Furthermore Bishop Charles E. Jenkins, Bishop of Louisiana and President of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice can't get the "Akron Five" bishops together in one room to discuss the real issue of "is it the faith or is it the canons" that rules the church? This is another simmering bomb waiting to explode.

Furthermore as orthodox clergy refuse to fund their revisionist bishops, diocesan conventions will see open warfare between the so-called Via Media and orthodox clergy and their bishops. We are now in a state of open hostility and war with Integrity and Via Media forces on one side and orthodox (read Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic) clergy on the other. Conflicts will range over whether orthodox bishops who have slim majorities of orthodox priests will be allowed to join the Network. Watch for the battle this weekend at the diocesan convention in the Diocese of Springfield over precisely this issue. Bishop Peter Beckwith is expecting a two-day battle over this issue. And the battle over who will be the next bishop of San Diego to replace the orthodox Gethin Hughes is going to be monumental with write-in candidates and more. The floor battles could rip the diocese apart, Virtuosity has been told. There are also battles raging in the dioceses of Colorado, Mississippi, the Carolinas and more.

There are going to be increasing number of battles in one diocese after another that will tear at the very fabric of the ECUSA even without the Lambeth/Eames report.

"The report of the Lambeth Commission will be released in mid-October. We are committed to a gracious reception of the report in a spirit of humility and to a willingness to learn how we might best be faithful and responsible partners in the Anglican Communion," said Griswold.

All the indications are that Griswold will be disciplined, but in what form we don't know. But when it happens, the Episcopal Church's revisionist bishops will do one thing - they will circle the wagons and in their anger at being excluded they will set about destroying the orthodox remnants in their dioceses.

But unlike some other massacre of the innocents, what the revisionist bishops are now doing and will continue to do to orthodox clergy is different; these godly clergy now have a bevy of good lawyers who are boning up fast on issues of canon and property law, and they won't go down without a fight.

A case in point is in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Bishop Charles E. Bennison is going after three parishes, but to date he has not been able to unseat any of them despite a team of top flight lawyers and huge legal fees.

Just last week the Anglo-Catholic parish of St. James the Less in Philadelphia got a reprieve from Bennison's voracious appetite for orthodox destruction. The PA Supreme Court said they would hear the lower court's case brought against the parish by Bennison.

The Court will take time to decide the case and meantime Fr. Ousley stays in his parish with his congregation and soldiers on. A small victory perhaps, but a victory nonetheless.

"We believe our relationships with others make real and apparent God's reconciling love for all of creation. Our mutual responsibility, interdependence and communion are gifts from God. Therefore, we deeply value and are much enriched by our membership in the Anglican Communion. We also value Anglican comprehensiveness and its capacity to make room for difference," whined Griswold.

Anglican comprehensiveness NEVER made room for the differences Griswold wants. It would never make room for pansexual behavior. The center of Anglican comprehensiveness is that nothing should be taught contrary to Scripture and that nothing is required that cannot be proved from Scripture. Richard Hooker distinguished between heresy and schism. Heresy is false doctrine. Schism is a division for reasons of order or jurisdiction, but not division because of doctrine. The failure to endorse B001 puts the ECUSA squarely in the camp of heresy not Anglican comprehensiveness.

"As the future unfolds differences will continue to challenge us. We believe that the gift of difference is the gift of Christ among us. In wrestling with difference we discover a blessing as Jacob discovered a blessing when he wrestled with God," said Griswold.

This is mangling Scripture to a high degree. To argue that "wrestling with difference" (consecrating V. Gene Robinson and lesbitransgay behavior) is like Jacob's wrestling with God, is blasphemy of the highest order. It is to rip and tear at basic hermeneutics and sound theological interpretive principles. It is to wrench Scripture from its basic textual meaning and morph it into a post-modern sexual mindset while overlaying it with religious doublespeak. It is theological arrogance of the highest order.

The day of reckoning for Griswold and his fellow bishops is at hand. Repentance is still possible, but most unlikely.

God save us all.


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