General Convention 2006

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Then I will go to the altar of God, and I will praise you . . . Psalm 43:3-4

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church
met in Columbus, Ohio from June 11-21, 2006.
This blog offers a view of the convention and beyond from the perspective of Lydia Evans, a two-time lay deputy from the Diocese of South Carolina.
Visit the links found below for additional resources
as well as pre- and post-convention coverage.
Thank you for remembering the convention deputies and their families in your prayers. For further resources, visit my webpages.
For all posts from the month of June, click here.
For all posts from the month of July, click here.

7.11.2006

An Open Letter to Episcopal Clergy

"But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" (Romans 10:14-15)

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

In this passage from Romans, Paul is referring to the 52nd chapter of Isaiah. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes… salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”’ (Isaiah 52:7)

This is not just a reference to a messenger or a herald coming over the mountain with an announcement. This Good News is the salvation found in Jesus Christ.

How are they to call on him? How are they to believe in him? How are they to hear? The answer is that a preacher must be sent – one who will bring this Good News to the one who has not heard.

And the Good News is this – Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Messiah. He is my Saviour. He is the only Way to the Father. I have heard this message. I believe it, and it is the story that I tell anyone who will listen.

At the General Convention this year, a resolution was put forward reaffirming this understanding of the uniqueness of Jesus as Messiah. D058: Salvation through Christ Alone. It was relatively straightforward, with language straight out of John 14. Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Perhaps it was too clear because the Evangelism Committee voted to discharge it, an action which would prevent D058 from being discussed on the floor of the House of Deputies.

But, following a request for reconsideration, it did come up. From the discussion which followed, it was apparent that a diversity of opinion existed among the clergy and laity regarding Jesus as the only Way. In the end, the discharge was upheld by a vote of 675 to 242. More than seventy percent of the deputies present were unable to commit to salvation through Christ alone.

Think about this for a minute – more than 2/3 of the House, which includes over 400 ordained priests, were declaring that they are either unable or unwilling to proclaim without a doubt that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Which leads me to wonder – what are they preaching each Sunday from the pulpit?

Now just the other day, I read a piece in the News & Observer written by Lauren Stanley, in which she says that ‘many of us caught in the middle believe that neither side speaks for the rest of us…we don’t look at the world as black and white. We can see the justice on both sides of the sexuality debate. And most of us have no idea which side is correct.’

I can understand Miss Stanley’s dilemma --- up to a point. She is passionate about the mandate in Matthew 25 to heal the sick, house the homeless, clothe the naked, and feed the hungry. And as Christians, we are absolutely called to care for the ‘least of these.’ But often the poor we encounter are poor in spirit, hungry for the Truth, thirsty for the Living Water found in Christ alone. Are we not also to offer these folks a drink?

And the ‘middle’ to which she refers – that confused ‘Anglican middle’ who see the world as shades of gray – they are what I have come to call ‘the Anglican muddle.’

But here ’s the rub. Lauren Stanley is ordained...

Read the rest here.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Karen B. said...

Lydia, what an awesome reply. Here's my own reply (very similar to yours) to Lauren Stanley's earlier piece which you cited:

http://lent.classicalanglican.net/?p=2245

9:24 AM  
Blogger Lydia Evans said...

Karen:

What a clear and gracious response -- thanks for providing this link.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Allen Lewis said...

You have asked a very important question, Lydia.

It seems that, from the vote results, General Convention was unwilling to make a claim to be messengers of Jesus the Christ.

If that is the case, what is the raison d'etre (I hope my French is correct!) for the Episcopal Church? Is it just to be another social services entity?

We have plenty of those. What we do not have are institutions willing to be sacrificial heralds of the Kingdom of Jesu.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

Allen,

I posted this reply over on Standfirm, and am reposting it only because it touches directly on your comment.

Alan

This seems to be a classic example of someone who feels called to do good things, such as helping the poor and afflicted, but has chosen ministry as a method, one of many, by which you can do that. When added to those whose primary goal is to change the church to accomodate their primary, secular concerns, the two out of three seems very representative of clergy I have encountered over the past 20 years or so. While you can find clergy whose primary concern is saving souls, they are becoming harder to find in TEC. Many will not come, and others are leaving.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Tobias said...

Dear Lydia,
I could have voted for D058 except for the part in the third resolve that referred to the "substitutionary essence of the Cross." I am not entirely sure what the author meant by this language -- which I had never encountered before -- and so was reluctant to put the Episcopal Church on record as affirming a doctrinal statement containing it. (I've done a google search and the only hits that come up for this peculiar [in every sense of the word] phrase relate to this resolution!)

Even had the resolution been clearer about the "substitutionary atonement" this would have been problematical, for this is not a necessary doctrine in Anglicanism -- we've been careful not to adopt any one of the many different explanations as to how the atonement works.

So far from rejecting Jesus, many of us who voted against this resolution did so because of one phrase in one part of it. I think many assume to much in claiming that the Episcopal Church has rejected Jesus by voting down a poorly written resolution that contained a questionable doctrine.

5:27 PM  

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