Monday, September 25, 2017

What it takes to get disciplined in the Episcopal Church. . .

I have written earlier about the rather tawdry story of the dealings of LA Bishop J. Jon Bruno in trying to take away land and buildings from St. James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach, CA.  Short hand version:  The Bishop went to court to get the property away from the congregation when it voted to break away, gave the property to those remaining with TEC, and then tried to sell it out from underneath them -- all without requisite approvals and in a rather high handed manner.  Great sums were spent on litigation.  Well, now finally, Bishop Bruno has been handed a 3 year suspension from the high court of TEC for his actions in the whole sad affair. 

While some might cheer the fact that justice has been done, of sorts, I am saddened by the fact that you can get a bishop disciplined in TEC for a matter such as this but not for immoral living, not for denying the creed, not for violations of the Prayerbook and the 39 Articles, and not for heresy against Scripture.  In other words, you can tread all over the faith and still be okay in this denomination (denying everything from the Virgin Birth to the physical resurrection of Jesus, for example) but if you fail to get approval for real estate transactions, you will be held accountable.

But before the rest of us get too smug in our condemnations of the remnant of a once great church, we just might find that we are in a similar boat.  Oh, to be sure, conservative churches are typically very hard on immorality but it can be nigh unto impossible to get even conservative churches to do much more than stand and complain on their soap box about basic denials of doctrine and breeches of practice against their confessional standard.  We live in such an age of relative truth that we hardly know how to identity and label heresy and apostasy anymore.  And we appear to be comforted by the fact that, at least for now, it may not quite be in our own backyards. 

I certainly do not countenance a purity cult in which one is guilty until proven innocent and the manifold acronyms of splinter groups who insist upon starting new rather than finding another to join.  Nope, you will not get a pass from me on the sin of schism that insists upon agreement on everything under the sun.  But neither will you find me comforted by the fact that at least immorality and financial issues will rouse the sleeping church.  Somewhere we need to figure out again the path between a narrow truth and path that finds doctrinal fellowship with hardly anyone and one so wide there is not real truth left at all.  The most conservative groups among us fight as much with each other as anyone else and it has not borne any good fruit and the liberal churches know how to fight only about things unrelated to the faith and its poisoned fruit is equally as evident.  God help us!


Carl Vehse said...

Can't wait for a similar article, "What it takes to get disciplined in the Missouri Synod...", including a discussion of the Benke heresy, the Newtown heresy, and the LCMS's infamous "Oakland Four" lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

+JJB should have been defrocked and imprisoned long ago, but that would hardly be the ECUSA way. No, in ECUSA, the important issue is always MONEY, not doctrine. This has been evident for at least 60 years, and continues to be true today. It is very much like the civil order, where matters of faith are entirely optional.

Continuing Anglican Priest

Anonymous said...

Follow the money trail has always been the mantra of those who are
investigating crooked deals. The church leaders in every century have
been tempted to get money in underhanded ways. Checks and balances in
the local parish are often suspect.

Joanne said...

Ah, the "Oakland Four" reminds me of one of my favorite videos. "We're not going to do that" said the voice of the woman.