Happy Easter! The Lord has risen, Alleluia!
Here is my quandary: I agree with both of these men!
(I got this from Kendall Harmon’s weblog (Titusonenine). Kendall Harmon is the Canon Theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina and a leader in the AAC (American Anglican Council).)
I don’t think I am double-minded. Zabriskie makes the good point concerning Anglicanism and the tradition of wrestling with issues and theologies, which I think overall brings balance. Allison also makes good points about holding to truth and that decisions of what the Truth is must be made.
Since learning about the Via Media of Anglicanism, I have always maintained that even the sometimes contradictory theological beliefs held by Anglicans can be positive as God’s Church attempts to better discern God’s Truth and will. I have also seen in others the strong belief in God and desire to do God’s will even though their theological perspectives and lives lived may not be in line with what I think is correct or right. I cannot deny that they seek God and that God is with them and in them, as demonstrated by their verbal acclimation of God, their testimony, and the fruits of their lives. It really is a matter, I believe, of their heart and their intent rather that what they do or believe at any given moment. God’s grace is sufficient, and we all are mistaken and make mistakes always. I do not presume to be God nor God’s vessel for judgment (that is Christ, alone).
So, here I am. I believe with many of the conservatives and Wesley that there needs to be that internal witness of salvation – I am not a Universalist. I believe there are those who hold heretical beliefs, yet they seek Christ – truly. What to do… Calling people to Jesus is the simplest way to respond. Calling people to deepen their devotion to and relationship with God is the way forward, I believe, without playing God, judge, and jury concerning whether their lives with Christ, as Christians, are authentic or not. Complete abandon with and to God is the call – to love God with our whole selves and to love one another as Christ loved us. Theological perspectives and doctrines change always, relationship with God remains the steady and true.
Anyway, here are the letters that prompted all this:
Exchange of Letters: The Rev. Marek Zabriskie and The Rt. Rev. FitzSimons Allison
March 25, 2004
The Rt. Rev. Christopher Fitzsimons Allison
Dear Bishop Allison,
I write you as concerned Episcopal priest and as one who serves on several national and international boards on behalf of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, expressing my deep regret and concern for your actions in the Diocese of Ohio.
Good friends and good Episcopalians are welcomed and entitled to differ regarding important theological and ethical matters. This has and always will be the case, if our tradition continues in its historic matter.
The biggest risk I fear at this time is the destruction of our polity, which along with Common Prayer and respect for the episcopate essentially holds us together. When any one of us shows disrespect for the boundaries exercised by another bishop and his or her diocese, we jeopardize the very things that unite us.
In closing, I acknowledge the pain that you must be bearing as you witness the Episcopal Church moving in directions counter to your own inclinations and sensibility. I know that this deeply concerns you. I pray, however, that you will be increasingly open to respecting the right of fellow bishops to govern, lead and shepherd their dioceses in ways which would not be your way and to allow them the freedom to do so. It is my deepest hope that the Communion will stand, the Church will flourish and we will not be self-consumed and broken irrevocably.
I shall hold you in my prayers as we approach Easter.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
The Rev. Marek P. Zabriskie
April 6, 2004
I am most grateful for your letter for I have not seen our situation expressed so succinctly and so clearly.
You write “…Episcopalians are welcomed and entitled to differ regarding important theological and ethical matters” but that “The biggest risk I fear at this time is the destruction of our polity, which along with Common Prayer and respect for the episcopate essentially holds us together.”
Thus, we are “entitled” to differ regarding important theological and ethical matters” such as denying catholic Christology and the doctrine of the Trinity (Pike), theism and saving action of Christ (Spong), and Christianity itself (Carter Heyward) but we must respect bishops who currently admit they, as a House, are “dysfunctional.”
You see the denial of the Christian faith as an entitlement but the biggest risk is the “destruction of our polity.” Jack Allin, of blessed memory, confessed in his parting address to General Convention in 1985: “I must repent. I have loved the Church more than the Lord of the Church.” He said if for me and perhaps for you.
I am thankful that our Anglican forebears did not do the idolatrous thing in elevating polity over “important theological and ethical matters” in the Reformation that gave us our Common Prayer.
I am thankful that Irenaeus did not take our contemporary priorities that you so well describe in his fight with Gnostics.
I am thankful that Athanasius violated the polity of the Church for the sake of the divinity of Christ against the Arians whose teachings would justify Spong’s dismissal of the Atonement as “child abuse.”
Perhaps you can help reduce the current hypocrisy and perjury in the Episcopal Church by substituting “We believe in our polity, Common Prayer, and the episcopate” for the Nicene Creed.
I thank you for your candor and clarity and will share it with some who find it difficult to believe what has become the faith of many Episcopalians.