Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fanning the Flames

Before General Convention began, I asked the All Saints' Littleton congregation not to settle for the "partial picture" from Anaheim. Newspapers will focus on what sells (sex and controversy), and various people will pick and choose peoples' words carefully to sway.

So, I'm not the least bit surprised (but still shaking my head) when I see things like:

"Bishop Gene Robinson says "Gay Church? You Bet we are!"


"The Presiding Bishop defined heretics as those who confess Jesus as Lord and Savior"

Wow! What Controversy! Quick, call your friends to get outraged together!

What they actually said, in context, fans the flames in a different way.

The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson:
“God’s love is about celebrating one another in the fullness of their diversity."

"There are a lot of Episcopalians who say they are embarrassed when people say you are the ‘gay’ church.” To this, Episcopalians should say, “You bet we are.

“We are the church of the people of color, the church of women, the church of the mentally ill,” he said, a church of no outcasts."

(These quotes came from the question time, covered in the article here @ The Living Church, but it's worth noting the "sensational headline and opening sentence" are meant to provoke and aflame. Watch what Robinson said leading up to this. )

I believe that Bishop Robinson is saying that we are all the church, and we especially need to claim the place in the church for those who tend to be marginalized and discriminated against.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jeferts Schori said:

The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy –that we can be saved as individuals, that any of use alone can be in right relationship with God. It’s caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of all being.

The "heresy" there is not in confessing Jesus, but the thought that our salvation rests only on our one individual action...that nothing else matters to God.

It's sort of like "loving God" without "loving neighbor." Jesus was pretty clear that the two were related.

It's worth noting that, for many people, the "confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior" is the first moment of conversion. It's the mountain top experience of transformation, and one's life is never the same. It's powerful and beautiful.

But it's also seductive and potentially stagnate: remember Peter, who wanted to stay on the mountain top and build booths. That idea wasn't a good one because it meant an end to growth and engagement. It would mean an end to mission and service. It suggests that transformation is over the first time our eyes were opened.

That's the PB's point: our development in God and the Church never ends. Our identity is one of constant change and discovery, and the points of transformation happen as we come together, just as much (if not more so) as when we sit alone and reflect, meditate and pray.


Leah said...

Thanks so much for your blog post. I have been reading updates and brief articles on the happenings at the GC and could not figure out what exactly was actually being said - it is all made to sound so controversial! Your explanation is very clear and concise.


P.S. I found a link to your post on Twitter.

Rev. Kurt said...

Thank you! Well said explanation.