Friday, November 09, 2007

Blaming Bp. Robinson is the Problem

The Lead points us to an interesting article from the Concord Monitor:

Is the Episcopal Church's impending schism really about the theological rift that sprung up after the consecration of its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire?

Or is the brouhaha really about a church in battle with itself about how to be financially solvent and theologically relevant in today's competitive religious marketplace?

Last weekend, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh voted in favor of separating from the national church over theological beliefs on homosexuality. "What we're trying to do is state clearly in the United States for the authority of Scripture," Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh said after the vote.

But "authority of Scripture" doesn't hold weight here because the Episcopal Church has always been challenged on this issue.

In the 1970s, the argument for authority of Scripture came up with the ordination of women - and so, too, did the threat of a schism. But in 1989, the church consecrated its first female bishop, Barbara Harris.

Conservatives like Duncan were not only theologically outraged but also racially challenged because Harris is African-American.

Just last year, gasps of exhilaration and exasperation reverberated throughout the Anglican Communion when it was announced that Katharine Jefferts Schori would be the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA. Schori not only supports gay unions, but she also backed the holy consecration of Robinson.

All this is no surprise, however, since the Episcopal Church has a history of taking the moral high ground on social justice issues...

...With the changing demographics of this ecclesial body, the church's former "Frozen Chosen" leaders, whose anti-gay initiatives had a stranglehold on the church's governing future, find that their efforts to maintain a respected voice among its constituents is like that of today's Republican Party - dead on arrival.

While many would like to believe that the financial crisis in the Episcopal Church is brought on by secessionist congregations battling with liberal bishops endorsing sodomy, the church's coffers were bare prior to Robinson's consecration. The reason? Decline in its membership over four decades; the rise of its Third World bishops from countries in Africa, South America, and Asia; and its egregious act of inhospitality and exclusion of its lesbian and gay population.

Using Robinson as the reason for the church's problem is the problem.

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