Last Saturday, during the diocesan convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, the convention with the prompting and encouragement of its bishop voted, for the second time and for final consent for action, to attempt to leave and finally have â€œfreedomâ€ from the Episcopal Church USA. Now, with their newfound freedom, they can honestly be the true Anglican and God-fearing church in the USA unbound by heresy and apostasy, at least that is what they are telling themselves. They also voted to align themselves with a very small extra-territorial province – the Province of the Southern Cone. This province comprises the lower portion of South America. It is small, it has an English archbishop, and is attempting to expand its influence by welcoming dioceses, congregations, and priests of the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada that believe these two Anglican provinces are heretical and apostate. So, this is what San Joaquin did – or is attempting to do.
A priest, Dan Martins, who up until this past summer presided over the oldest and one of the largest Episcopal parishes in San Joaquin, but who resigned and is now in Northern Indiana, has blogged on these latest events. He is worth reading, primarily because he is sympathetic to many of the positions held by many traditionalists/Evangelicals/conservatives within the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, yet he does not believe schism is the answer. We need people like Dan… I need priests like Dan.
A quote from Dan’s latest entry
But the mistake both he and Bishop Schofield make, as was pointed out during debate by one of the clergy, is to ignore or downplay the fact that “there are a great many good and godly people in the Episcopal Church.” It is a fallacy on many levels to paint the entire Episcopal Church with the broad brush of its most radical members and leaders (including, of course, the Presiding Bishop and the Executive Council). This is precisely what my friends in SJ have done. It’s a mistake to do so, but it’s a very tempting and understandable mistake.
Read his blog.
I’ve been thinking a lot about “freedom” these past couple of weeks. We all say we want freedom, but what in the world is it? Many people who are looking out for my best interest say that it is a good thing that I am “free” of Ashton and his issues, if it were only that easy. But, what does that mean? Is that “freedom” defined as purely self-interest and not considering the wellbeing of the other, prudent, wise, or foolish and selfish? Many people say “let freedom ring,” but what use is “freedom” politically or socially if you are dying of starvation? Look at China. We would say that they are not a free society, yet the economic boom in many parts of that vast country enable people to live well and manage their own lives within the structures of Chinese Communism. Do they have a sense of “freedom?” Look at the Buddhist monks in Burma. That country is certainly not “free,” yet I would venture that those monks are far freer than you or I, living in the bastion of freedom, the good ‘ole USofA.
Then, of course, what does it mean for us to have freedom-for or freedom-from? Christians say that we realize or discover true freedom only in Christ. As I conclude reading “unChristian,” the reality is that most people who look at the Church find not a bunch of people who are “free,” but people who are simply bound up by different things than the “outsiders” are bound up by, and all the while pointing fingers at the outsiders in condemnation and in blindness of their own bondage. The Christians (or in the context of the book, American-Evangelical/Born-Again Christians) seem to be no more “free” than their secular or other-type-Christian counterparts. Where is their “freedom?”
Would any of us truly understand or recognize “freedom” if it hit us in the face? Christ has come to see us free – what does that mean? Would we even be able to function as we currently understand “life” if we were free from consumerism, materialism, anger, despair, war, worry, angst, judgmentalism, dependencies, addictions, dysfunctions, and whatever else any of us individually or corporately may understand as non-freedom? I don’t know. Too many of us are more comfortable in our bondage, no matter how terrible, than the unknown of what might be if we were free of those bondages. Lord, have mercy.