Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wm. Coats: "Fight Against These Prinicipalities"

Yesterday Prior Aelred sent me a link to the blog of Tom Woodward to read an essay by the Rev. William R. Coats. I was pleased to find Tom's site, as I knew him when he was the rector of St. Paul's, Salinas. I've enjoyed reading Tom's thoughtful comments on the HoB/HoD listserve for the last year. We had the opportunity to talk briefly at Convention. And now I find that he's participating in the ongoing conversation within the Church in yet another way; by offering this rousing manifesto by William Coats. Here's a taste:

...First, we are being asked to ascribe to the view that homosexuality is an impaired condition - remedied only by life long celibacy - and that the life within the church for homosexual persons will always be problematic as well as proscribed.(1) Second, we are being told that agreement on this issue has now become the central tenet of the Gospel as the Anglican Church understands it: not the Creeds, not the divinity of Jesus Christ, not the Trinity, not the resurrection of Jesus Christ, not the atonement by his death, not the Sacraments - but the impairment and proscription of homosexual persons. All now stands or falls on this singular point. There are forces at work that would destroy this church in order to establish another church on these new grounds. In that sense, to fight for the Episcopal church against the Windsor process is to fight anew for the Gospel. This, of course, may mean being shunned by a large portion of the Anglican Communion. At present, there is already a split; we have been "walking apart" from at least one-half of the Communion for more than two years. But recall that being an Anglican is not the same thing as being a member of the Anglican Communion, particularly if sinister forces have indeed hijacked that Communion. It will be good to be apart for a while. What is unacceptable is cooperating in our own death.
Most of us have been trained to seek peace, love and reconciliation. These indeed are optimal values. Few of us like to fight. We see it as somehow a betrayal of Jesus. Circumstances change cases. It is time to call this campaign against our church what it is - the power of death. It is the raising to the status of an idol the demeaning and exclusion of gays and lesbians. It is a sign that the freedom we have been granted in the resurrection continues to be sullied by those enthralled by the idol of homophobia. We must fight against these principalities and power. When we are threatened with extinction, I doubt that Jesus would want us simply to capitulate in His Name. I invite you in his Name, to STAND FIRM AND FIGHT.
Some readers, especially preachers who have not yet started to think about Sunday's sermon, might be interested in taking a look at a brief reflection on Sunday's lessons that I contributed to The Witness. It's based on the Revised Common Lectionary (which becomes mandatory in 2007, btw), but can easily be adapted to fit the texts appointed from the BCP lectionary.


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