Monday, January 28, 2008


There has been a fair amount of fooforah on the Episcopalian blogosphere about the various inhibitions, non-recognitions and prospective depositions that have occurred or are about to occur. Speculation can be an entertaining way to while away those hours when we ought to be working.

But to those who do not believe that leaving the Episcopal Church is an acceptable option, that schism is worse than heresy, let me pose some questions.

First, is the Episcopal Church the only Christian church? If you answer in the negative, think about that. If someone leaves one Christian church and joins another, are they schismatic? Does your answer apply if more than one person leaves to join? What about a whole lot of people? What about a diocese?

Second, suppose your bishop is truly awful. I don't mean lying sleazy jerk awful, I mean stealing from the diocesan funds, holding black masses during the childrens' services awful. A truly wretched person who abuses power for kicks. Let us also suppose that for whatever reason, the denomination refuses to discipline your bishop in any way. Heaven knows you have tried, but no one will listen to you. What recourse do you have? What remedies may you rightfully employ? If you remain, your children will have Satan's 666 names memorized backwards and forwards and that black candle wax is nigh impossible to get out of their clothes.

Third, what if the whole church went seriously wonky. I mean the new Presiding Bishop decides that abortion is always wrong, any priest who is not married or celibate gets their marching orders, every church for the entire season of Lent is required to do the penitential service at all services, the 1928 prayer book has been reimposed, and the hymnal has sexist language again. Would you stay? If you stay, would you obey the rules? If you stay, but find you and those who agree with you are being marginalized, would you organize?

What sort of pressure would you put on the organization to change? How would you react if you were told you were free to disagree, but all services would still be in antique language. What would happen if your bishop told your church it was free to send seminarians to either Trinity or Nashotah House, but no where else? Or your parish could choose any priest you like from a list of priests all of whom either believe in predestination and salvation of the elect or are secretly members of the Opus Dei sent to infiltrate the Episcopal Church or were thrown out of Oral Roberts University for being too rigid and doctrinal?

How would you react if you discovered the fix was in, and no amount of pressure, lobbying, politicking or discussion would ever change the composition or opinions of the governing bodies?

Schism or heresy?

I'm just asking.

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