The Bishop’s Invitational Blog–No. 1 (What do you think . . .?)

September 8, 2006

In the Gospel according to St. Luke, Jesus, immediately following his baptism and temptation, describes his life’s mission.  This is how his initial, public “statement of vocation” is recorded: 

“(In the synagogue Jesus) opened the scroll and found the passage which says, ‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me; he has sent me to announce good news to the poor, to proclaim release for prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind; to let the broken victims go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’  …’Today’, he said, ‘in your very hearing this text has come true.’” (Luke 4:17-21) In an initial interview following her election as Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Shori was asked, “What will be your focus as head of the U.S. Church?”  She responded, “Our focus needs to be on feeding people who go to bed hungry, on providing primary education to girls and boys, on healing people with AIDS, on addressing tuberculosis and malaria, on sustainable development.  That ought to be the primary focus.”  Later in the same interview, she identified her favorite Bible verse:  “Chapter 61 of Isaiah is an icon for me of what Christian work should be about.  That’s what Jesus reads in his first public act.  (The verse) talks about a vision of the reign of God where those who are mourning are comforted where the hungry are fed, where the poor hear good news.” 

I am surprised that there is criticism about Ms. Jefferts Shori’s response.  Recently I had a conversation with a Bible teacher in our diocese who was incensed that, in his opinion, she did not express the correct “priority”. What do you think?  Is her statement of call consistent with the Lord’s, or not? 

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47 Responses to “The Bishop’s Invitational Blog–No. 1 (What do you think . . .?)”

  1. Joe Says:

    I would have expected her first response would have been that she wanted to share the good news of the gospel. Her description of what the Church’s first priority should be sounds like the first priority of the Department of Social Services as opposed to that of the Church. I am not saying that what she mentions is not important but to paraphrase St. Mark, what does it profit a person to gain a meal, primary education etc. and lose their soul.

  2. Bill Carroll Says:

    Don’t you mean that Jesus’ sermon sounds that way? Bishop Katharine’s remarks seem to be an accurate exegesis of Luke 4, where Jesus applies the Jubilee tradition of forgiveness of debts to his own ministry. The Gospel is not about saving souls, never has been. It is about “reconciliation with God and each other in Christ.” In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The early Church practiced redistribution of wealth as a sign of the last days and God’s coming Kingdom.
    Because of the resurrection, new life has entered the world. When we speak of “One Body, One Mission, Changing Lives,” we mean holistic transformation, including material and spiritual conditions and all our relationships, or we are preaching a false Gospel.

    I would apply Jesus’ words to the full inclusion of gays and lesbians, as well. In any event, his economic concerns are far more central to his message and to the whole Bible than anything concerning sex.

  3. Joe Says:

    Matthew 28:18-20

    18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    Acts 1:8

    8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

    I think a good number of Church members would disagree with your statement that the Gospel is not about saving souls. In fact I don’t think I would be going out on a limb to say that the vast majority of believers think the Church’s central mission is proclaiming the Gosepl of salvation through Jesus Christ.

  4. Lisa Says:

    Is not the “Works of the Church” a vehicle used to proclaim the Good News?

    I understand both of the views expressed above and think they are unnecessarily on opposite sides. Unfortunately, everything has become connected to the full inclusion issue and determines one’s stand in all the issues nowadays. It’s truly pastime to resolve one’s feelings and focus on the mission.

    Article VI of the Articles of Religion confirms that scripture is all one needs for salvation and we are commissioned to spread the good news. However, following the footsteps of Christ through good works is the fruits of Faith and spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith (Article XII) and is what makes us Christians.

    The clichés which fit best are… “Practice what you Preach” or “Lead by Example” if you want others to stop, listen & realize.

    When someone pulls out one quote to respond to; it tends to come out of context thus confusing what the entire message meant. I find the knowledge of her favorite chapter being Isaiah 61 adds light to Presiding Bishop Elect’s answer.

    I am not for nor against Ms. Schori’s election but the human in me has questioned if it is the best choice now. I have faith in our Lord and take each day as it comes thankfully.

  5. Bill Carroll Says:

    In the very Great Commission passage Joe cites, Jesus emphasizes discipleship and obedience. For Matthew’s version of discipleship theology, see the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew presupposes the Old Testament, which emphasizes justice, especially for widows and orphans. Last Sunday’s lectionary readings were very informative. Justice for the oppressed is a biblical priority. This is how we become doers of the word and not hearers only, as is clearly tauht by last Sunday’s epistle, which is from James, a book which has many affinities with Matthew. Widows and orphans in James, as throughout Scripture, stands for concrete widows and orphans, and for all the oppressed. Like a canary in a coal mine, they show us when our community is toxic. Matthew 28 does not mean, and cannot be twisted to mean Billy Graham style hit and run evangelism. It is in substantial agreement with Luke 4 and with Bishop Schori.

    Evangelization, the spread of the influence of the Good News, is a holistic affair. God will not save our souls without saving our bodies. The Christian hope, as we are taught in the Apostles Creed, is the resurrection of the body.

  6. Glenn Gould Says:

    First I want to thanks our bishop for making this chance for dialog a reality.

    “Preach the Gospel – use words if necessary,” said St. Francis of Assisi. As we serve the wider human family – especially those on the fringes of hunger, disease, poverty, oppression, we show Jesus to the world.

    On the other hand when we seek to get the human family “saved” (no matter how Biblically defensible our approach may be), we start to look more like the disciples in their continuing quest to figure out who was the greatest. Which religion is the greatest? Which religion’s book is the greatest? Which religion’s first person is greatest? When we harbor these questions, we look a lot more like the misunderstanding disciples and a lot less like Jesus.

    I’ve grown cynical about a faith that’s primarily about salvation. I believe that nearly from the “get go” the early church discovered that salvation was a very saleable product. As the Gospel writers improved the product, their brand of Christianity attracted more and more people hungry for certainty and security – a long way from take up your cross and follow.

    Jesus invitation was to take up one’s cross and follow him in building the kingdom now. Thanks be to God, when I focus on following Jesus, taking up my cross, and building the kingdom, I find my self enthused.

    I wish we hadn’t complicated the business of being a Christian as much as we have. I can’t imagine Jesus giving a loyalty oath (creeds, Bible [sola scriptura] as a qualification to one’s following, cross taking, and kingdom building.

    Clearly I think the PB elect was right on target.

  7. David Says:

    In a recent paper, Bishop Steve Charleston of Episcopal Divinity School said that of the multitude of questions facing the church, “the most important question before us is not about schism or
    sexuality. It is about witness. What witness will we make?” and further stated that “Now is the time for us to extend our hands to one another. We will not walk away from the Body of Christ. Now is the time for us to use our hands. We will not place pride over mission.”

    As echoed in the words of St. Francis that Glenn cited above me, we are most effective when we make our witness by sharing the gospel not only with our lips, but in our actions as well. Unfortunately, I think that too many people associate the Episcopal Church with the issues of sexuality that have divided the church for the past several years. Bishop Katherine has expressed her commitent to creating the Reign of God – to the reconciliation with each other and with God that is central to the message of the gospels – and a simple, tangible, visible, and acheivable way of doing so is through mission.

    When people know us more for our mission work rather than our divisions over sexuality, it reaffirms that we as a church are able to do more than squabble – that we really are one body committed to the work of reconcilliation expressed in the gospels.

  8. Kent Says:

    1) Our Bishop-Elect no doubt assumed/implied in her remarks that a (the?) crucial part of the Church’s “social service” ministry (that left Joe so cold above) is PRAYER for the sick, homeless, etc. Only the Body of Christ can offer this vital intercession in Christ’s healing Name and “in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

    2) In his book “What St. Paul Really Said,” Bishop (of Durham)N. T. Wright reminds us that the gospel St. Paul preached is “not a system … for how people get saved” (p 45). At the heart of the Gospel is the cross of Christ, “for Paul the symbol, as it was the means, of the liberating victory of the one true God, the creator of the world, over all the enslaving powers that have usurped his authority” (p 47)

    3) Providing “merely” physical aid and comfort to the afflicted (and, crucially, prayer for them) and preaching Paul’s gospel (“foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God,” I Cor 17:18) are NOT mutually exclusive!

  9. Jack Hardaway Says:

    I wonder if the Bible teacher’s comment about Bishop Shori having the wrong priorites wasn’t an evangelism vs. social witness disagreement. Perhaps his concern was about how raddically fractious we have become ever since Gene Robinsons election and how our holistic Christian witness has been sidtracked perhaps even skuttled since then.
    He probably wanted Bishop Shori to have a plan to settle the division that has made us so inefective. That would fit into a “priority” frame work, instead of the faith vs. works debate which is a pretty worn out issue.
    I think it was a plea to get our house in order so that we can have a witness again.
    My response to that, is that the only thing that can get our house in order is in being part of the reign of God, otherwise our divisions will only grow wider. And I think Bishop Shori’s vision of God’s reign from Isaiah and Luke is the right medicine for what ails us. For years I’ve been wondering that perhaps Christian unity isn’t about doctrinal, liturgical, cultural or governmental types of issues. Rather Christain unity can only be found through mission in serving the poor. I realize that this doesn’t resolve the issues surrounding sexual practice, or the divisions that hurt our witness, but it seems much more constructive in the meantime.

  10. Jack Hardaway Says:

    I wonder if the Bible teacher’s comment about Bishop Shori having the wrong priorites wasn’t an evangelism vs. social witness disagreement. Perhaps his concern was about how raddically fractious we have become ever since Gene Robinsons election and how our holistic Christian witness has been sidtracked perhaps even skuttled since then.
    He probably wanted Bishop Shori to have a plan to settle the division that has made us so inefective. That would fit into a “priority” frame work, instead of the faith vs. works debate which is a pretty worn out issue.
    I think it was a plea to get our house in order so that we can have a witness again.
    My response to that, is that the only thing that can get our house in order is in being part of the reign of God, otherwise our divisions will only grow wider. And I think Bishop Shori’s vision of God’s reign from Isaiah and Luke is the right medicine for what ails us. For years I’ve been wondering that perhaps Christian unity isn’t about doctrinal, liturgical, cultural or governmental types of issues. Rather Christain unity can only be found through mission in serving the poor. I realize that this doesn’t resolve the issues surrounding sexual practice, or the divisions that hurt our witness, but it seems much more constructive in the meantime. Anyway, this is great fun, this is the first blog I’ve seen or written in. Pax.


  11. “(In the synagogue Jesus) opened the scroll and found the passage which says, ‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me; he has sent me…’

    The problem is not that the PB-elect looks for contemporary ways to express the rest of what Jesus read, it is that she and many others skip over the affirmation of Jesus as the New Covenant. One can do this only by proof-texting like a fundamentalist. To read the NT as a whole one must hold witness to Jesus Christ himself as the priority.

    Those who focus on the good works alone seem to think that people will “get Jesus by osmosis” or something. But Romans 10:4 raises good questions: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

    We are stewards of a revealed faith. Jesus is not self-evident in the MDG or any other good or worthy causes. The church must be more than a do-gooders club. And when leaders lack confidence in preaching Jesus, the whole organization will…well, just read TEC statistics. By just about any marker, decline, fragmentation and “club rules” (fights over canons and entitlements) are pretty much what’s left in a “church” that’s lost its head – Jesus Christ.


  12. Sorry – the citation above is Rom. 10:14, not 10:4. Weak pinky syndrome on my part.

  13. Charles Davis Says:

    I was once invited to join a group of clergy who were starting a soup kitchen. In the meeting I found out that before a person could eat they were required to listen to a sermon. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is most clearly articulated in the vernacular. Surely Jesus Christ is proclaimed when the hungry are fed and in a way that the hungry can understand.

  14. Jerry Kramer OP Says:

    “The United Nations Milennial Development Goals containeth all things necessary for salvation . . . ”

    This is a works based interpretation of the Gospel, without the atonement and without grace, which is no Gospel at all. Another fine example of false teachers at the helm.

  15. The Duke Says:

    My response to + Katharine would be to ask her how the Christian Church is different from a secular aid agency. Of course, our top priorities must include helping to relieve suffering and promote justice in God’s world. However, that is not the primary raison d’etre of the Christian Church. We exist to conduct a ministry of reconciliation – by helping people come into a relationship with God through faith in Christ. This is what we’re for. If we try to focus maily on justice and poverty issues we are merely duplicating what a thousand aid agencies are doing, and not doing it as well as them.


  16. Charles Davis wrote: “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is most clearly articulated in the vernacular. Surely Jesus Christ is proclaimed when the hungry are fed and in a way that the hungry can understand.”

    I’ve taken part in my share of soup kitchens, shelters (including opening my parish hall as one) and other works with those in need. If you actually sit down and talk to them, they are just like other folks. They don’t have a mystical experience of Jesus because somebody gives them a meal. They will, however, talk about faith issues if someone opens the subject. I’m not saying that a pre-meal sermon is the best way, but relational evangelism requires somebody to speak up and offer the message of Jesus.

    It is an abstraction (and maybe self-referential and self-serving) to say that our good works are the vernacular of the poor. They are just like us in that they are made in the image of God but need the Good News of the Savior to be brought back into right relationship with God. And, like the rest of us, this requires somebody to offer the message – in a sermon, in worship, in testimony or in relational conversation. It doesn’t just happen – if it did, every church would be filled by the 12 step people who meet in our parish halls. They are quite capable of being grateful for the space without turning to Christ. That’s not a put-down – it is just an evidence of what I’m trying to see about the Gospel needing witness.

  17. Just Passing By Says:

    Greetings

    IMHO one might profitably return to the description of the Greatest Commandment in Mt. 7:37-38. Note well that the one greatest is asked for, but two are given.

    To me, this underlines the very great significance of the “second” commandment, to love one’s neighbor. Nevertheless, the first commandment, to love God, is still first. Nor is it a matter of choosing which is important; clearly both are.

    That’s not very theologically sophisticated, of course, but it does come straight from the source.

    Just my USD 0.02 .

    regards,

    JPB


  18. JPB – you are absolutely right…it is “both/and” and in the right order!

    Same goes, I think, with Matthew 25, often invoked by those who favor the peace and justice way. They are correct in asserting that the third parable of the chapter insists that Jesus blesses our care for the most vulnerable (and damns our lack of care for them).

    But, they are incorrect to say that the whole message of Matthew 25 is peace and justice – the first parable of the chapter is about expectant attention to the coming of Christ; the second parable is about bold use of all resources with which God entrusts us, and the third is about serving Christ (Christ the cosmic judge, by the way) by serving the most vulnerable people.

    We need to be about the whole Gospel, not just favored fragments. The church at its best expresses the fullness of Christ.

  19. elaine fox Says:

    As Christians we can accept redemption paid for by Christ in return for repenting of our sins and turning away from sinful ways to follow Christ.

    We then go out to all the peoples and nations and proclaim the Good News of salvation by preaching the Word.

    THEN…they shall know we are Christians by our love.

    The New Presiding Bishop would focus on the Church as a gigantic social services agency…but it is so much more!


  20. Well judging from his comments it looks like the Bishop fell off the fence he’s been so carefully setting on. Maybe we should pray to Mother Jesus for him.

    Of course if you would rather Pray to Jesus Christ “SON” of God, and head of the one holy catholic church, visit
    http://www.shelterinthestorm.org to find a good solid traditional church that worships in the Anglican Style. Or if you happen to be in one in the upper diocese, you may want to share that info so others can find you.

    The Episcopal Church is dead.
    Long live the Anglican Church.
    Kay Lewis – Dio of SC

  21. elronsteele Says:

    I agree with your surprise and question … the only ‘defect’ in Ms. Jefferts Shori priority seems to be her gender. The focus of her mission seems bang on the focus of Jesus’s mission, but its also worth looking around the world at Christians in general and ask ourselves how many actually do follow the words of Jesus, or of Ms. Jefferts Shori in today’s world?

    The comment of your bible teacher friend shows, IMO, a fundamental misunderstanding of Jesus’ priority … first and foremost, Jesus was about ministering to the poor and sick.

  22. St Dogbert Says:

    Mrs. Shori’s comments, while not immoral or wrong in themselves, do show, in my opinion, a misplaced ordering of the church’s primary mission as illiustrated in Mattew 19 and continued ignorance it in light of the TEC’s decline. To illustrate:
    * Baptisms in 1960 were 840,000
    * Baptisms in 2000 were 275,000
    A wise rector once said we can can reach godly decisions about what we should do, but it doesn’t mean we’ve reached the right decision. As I understand scripture, the order before addressing the widows and those in need in other churches was salvation.

  23. revdrmom Says:

    I think Bp. Jefferts Schori’s remarks were well placed; in fact, this issue was part of my sermon today.

    I am dismayed by the consistent referral to Bp. Jefferts Schori as “Ms.” or “Mrs.” She is a bishop and she should be addressed as such.


  24. I think I posted several exegetical points about Biblical texts. Also, I indicated that the PB-elect’s focus on serving the poor is not wrong, simply incomplete. The sudden lurch of comments into “you guys just disagree with her because she’s a woman” really seems weak and off topic…but typically TEC these days.

  25. Glenn Gould Says:

    Salvation question set #1: Are you saved brothers and sisters? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Have you entered into a personal relationship with the Savior? Have you asked Jesus into your heart? Have you confessed your sins? Have you repented? Do you promise to follow Jesus as Lord?

    Salvation question set #2: Do you believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation? Do you believe that Jesus as the word of God has completely inspired the words of Holy Scripture? Do you believe that every word of the Bible is exactly the way God wants it? Do you believe in an actual Virgin Birth? Do you believe in the actual-factual bodily resurrection of Jesus? Do you believe that God’s revealed word teaches that gay and lesbian people are unfit to serve as leaders in this church (unless, of course, they refrain from any sexual activity)? Do you believe that God’s revealed word says that only men can be priests and bishops – acolytes, vestry members? Doesn’t God’s revealed word says that most divorced/remarried people are committing adultery? Shouldn’t we refuse to give them communion as we used to in the good old days?

    Salvation question set #3: Do you truly believe every word of the three (or four) creeds that are basic to the “faith once revealed?” Do you believe there is such a thing as the “faith once revealed?” Do you believe the 39 Articles should be restored to the level of doctrine rather than Historical Documents? Do you believe the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral?

    If you don’t believe these things, don’t you know that you are undermining the authority of scripture? You are attempting to undo some 2,000 years of Christian teaching to which most Anglicans worldwide subscribe. It’s called submitting oneself to Holy Writ by those who buy into it. It’s their salvation package.

    It runs through a large segment of worldwide Anglicanism as it is practiced and taught today – lots of people – vast majority of Anglicans worldwide. Practice these things; believe this way and your ticket to Heaven is punched. Of course the people who subscribe to this package also know and practice the value of good works – because good works are also Biblical.

    If these people and right and I’m wrong I need to face the consequences:
    • First I need to resign as a priest because I’m a “false teacher” because I fully support Gene Robinson in his ministry in this church and think it was only about 30 years overdue.
    • I need to refrain from taking Holy Communion because I’m a person who is divorced and remarried.
    • Then I need to police the altar rail for other divorced/remarried folks and keep them away.
    • I need to tell my granddaughter that she can no longer serve as acolyte – sorry about your gender sweetheart – nothing personal.
    • Then I need to tell the women on the Vestry that they’ve overstepped their Biblical bounds.
    • I need to advise the women whom I guided to explore Holy Orders and later supported in their ministries that I made a tragic mistake and that they should resign.
    • And then I need to check my brain, my spirit, and my soul at the door of any Episcopal Church that would welcome me and hope I will one day “see the light.”

    Now before everyone jumps my case, I do not wish to say that everyone who sees salvation as the Lord’s primary priority is accurately described above. I’m for salvation rightly taught and rightly understood – however, my understanding and teaching about salvation is quite distant from what I’ve described above.

    I do know for a fact that I have accurately described a group of Christians who find The Episcopal Church to be heretical and apostate and have said so without blinking an eye.

    I believe good works are things we can share that honor the Lord as we work with all sorts and conditions of people – believers and non believers. On the other hand, “salvation” is a theological CAN OF WORMS. Are you sure you want to jump in?


  26. Glenn Gould – wow, it will be hard to respond through the flames of the blazing strawmen you set up…but let me ask this:

    If you say, ” ‘salvation’ is a theological CAN OF WORMS. Are you sure you want to jump in?” then what did you understand your bishop to be saying at your ordination when praying,

    “carry out in tranquility the plan of SALVATION” (BCP 528),

    “All baptized people are called to make Christ known as SAVIOR” (BCP 531) and, most pointedly,

    “May he (Glenn) exalt you, O Lord, in the midst of your people; offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to you; boldly proclaim THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION” (BCP 534)?????

    Your bold proclamation to us is, “Can of worms”???

  27. Glenn Gould Says:

    I’m for salvation rightly taught and rightly understood.

    Sad to say that what you characterize as “flames of blazing strawmen” is already firmly attached to salvation in the minds of a majority of Anglicans worldwide and (in my view) too many close to home.

    Jesus asks us to take up our crosses and follow Him. He tells us that we will find him trustworthy. That’s more than enough doctrine for me when it comes to salvation.

    Is he the only way — I don’t think so because I don’t think that he thought so. Jesus reminds us that with God all things are possible. He talks about other sheep not of this fold — he talks about the last being first — he talks about how surprised we will be to see who God has brought to heaven.


  28. But the Biblical words for salvation mean “rescue or deliver.” From what? For what is Jesus trustworthy? And if he is not unique as a savior, who cares, why bother, and why sieze property from or depose those who disagree with you about VGR? (See how the strawman works? You, personally, and most folks who agree with you probably never siezed anybody’s worship space or pension. But SOME people who agree with you have done those things, therfore…)

    “With God all things are possible” – that was about the ability of God to help the wealthy overcome the weight of affluence and enter the kingdom, in fact positing Jesus’ unique authority to proclaim salvation (the apostles’ asked, “Then who can be SAVED?). It was not a statement of “everybody gets in by whatever door they choose.”

    “Sheep not of this fold” is Jesus’ preaching about subsequent, post-apostolic generations of Christians, not special dispensation for non-believers. In any event, he goes on to say that there will be one flock under one shepherd, another assertion of his uniqueness.

    Last first/first last is, historically, about the surprise of the Gentiles being brought into the covenant. A more expansive reading of the parable might suggest that God honors a late-in-life convert just as much as a life-long Christian. But to use this parable as an argument against the uniqueness of Christ as Savior is to stand the story on its head – especially the final question, “Am I not free to do as I wish with what is mine?”

    I’m sorry, but you are using half-quote, out-of-context proof texts. You are a priest. You are entrusted with and pledged yourself to a ministry that includes bold proclamation of salvation – and of witness to the Savior. Yes, we are to take up our crosses and follow HIM – and the cross is foolishness and confusion to other religions and philosophies.

  29. Betty Says:

    I think the reason we object to Bishop Schori’s focus on good works, is that her sermon indicates to us that she has more respect for activism than she has for Scripture. Many of us believe the first priority should be Scripture and the teachings of our Savior Jesus Christ, NOT the teachings of “Right to Choose” groups, or GLBT groups, or even much needed Charitable organizations. We should not be overly proud of our good works because we are all sinners in need the gift of salvation in Christ.
    I hope my first impression of Bishop Schori is wrong.

  30. Glenn Gould Says:

    With God all things are possible — I agree about the context. I think Jesus was suggesting a wider context than you do. I don’t know if that’s his bad habit or mine — he seems to have done it a lot.

    Sheep not of this fold does not suggest to me a special dispensation for non-believers, but a warning to those who believe they’ve got the goods on who God welcomes into the kingdom of heaven.

    First last and last first — again, I think he’s widening things on out — trying to open the minds of the hearers who are so sure they’ve got God’s mind figured out. If you wish to insist that you have the correct (and only the correct) interpretation of these passages, I think you have missed Jesus’ point.

    My understanding of priestly responsibility is do my best to teach what Jesus taught. I believe that Jesus would have found the idea of putting God into a carefully crafted Christian salvation box just as abhorrent as he found the teaching of the scribes, pharisees, and doctors of the law of his day.

    His warning still stands — when speaking of a God who is so gracious, loving and forgiving — we all need to be be careful not to mistake our man-made rules (mine and yours) for the heart and mind of God.

  31. Glenn Gould Says:

    Betty — She (the PB elect) has already done some things to anger left, right and center in our church. We’re all sensitive and on edge depending our understanding of God’s agenda for us.

    She’s been called at an extremely trying time in our church’s history. She’s under quite a collection of theological microscopes. If she had any sense at all, she’d have said, “No thanks.” Yet there she is — willing to serve.

    At this point in time I’m going to pray for her a lot and cut her some slack as she learns the ropes for a Presiding Bishop. I know lots of folks will be doing the same. Give her a little room and a lot of prayer. She may very will be God’s choice to lead us at this moment in history.

  32. Deacon Tim Says:

    A parishioner come up to me this morning and say, “I really like how you read the Gospel.” I stopped and looked at him. “What do you mean?” “You read it like, well, like it really happened.” I smiled. “I believe it did–just a few minutes later, when we gathered around the altar.”

    I guess I’m sort of a red-letter kind of guy (as in “red-letter Bible”). That means I value Jesus above Paul, or James or David or Moses. They were interpreters of the word. He is the Word.

    Bishop Schori is a red letter kind of woman, I think. She values Jesus first, and that makes the Fr.Timothy Fountains of the world (er-church) see red, only not in a good way. The Gospel should lead us to activism, because inaction is what the Devil wants for us. The Gospel demands that we are radically inclusive, because Jesus is the sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the whole world. The Gospel demands that we view others, not as unsaved, but as sheep, tossed about, searching for their loving Shepherd, who reaches out to them through us. The Gospel demands that we go forth into world, with Good News that God loves the entire creation, not just those who are like us, who agree with us, who believe the 39 Articles or the Nicene Creed. It’s why I am so very proud to serve my Bishop, Dorsey Henderson, a man who reads the red letters as if they really happened.

    Justice for the poor. Freedom for the prisoners. Sight for the blind. That’s not the platform of the Department of Social Services. That’s the Gospel.

  33. Jill Woodliff Says:

    Deacon Tim, I imagine that you and Fr. Fountain have both actively supported the poor. May God bless your compassionate hearts.
    Jesus’s sacrifice for the sins of the whole world is the basis for a radical welcoming of all persons. Conversion to the Christian faith means to seek to display in all things the mind of Christ. Yes, we are called to compassion, because that is indeed the mind of Christ.
    In addition, though, Christ submitted himself to the Torah. He quoted the law frequently and referred to it when answering questions about how we should order our lives. As His disciples, we are called to do no less.

  34. Margaret Says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

    I believe that the quote you made — the one Jesus himself made from Isaiah — has been taken too literally by the Presiding Bishop elect. Did not Jesus criticise the Pharisees for being blind — when they would not see what God was doing — her goals would have been to restore their physical sight; didn’t he say to the rich man go sell all you have and follow me — she would then minister to restore his material wellbeing; did he not announce the freedom from the bondage of sin to many he spoke to and healed — she would be cutting their arm-restraints.

    I hope you see what I mean — she has focussed solely on the “Love your neighbour as yourself” and ignored the first commandment of all “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength”. To love like that — and then remain silent about the source of that love would be impossible. As Jesus so eloquently says in Matthew 25 it is the cup of water given IN HIS NAME that is needed. The water then becomes the source of Life.

  35. Rick Harris, O.P. Says:

    For me, anyway, this controversy over the prioritization of good works boils down to this question– when we read the second half of Matthew 25 and are convicted as goats (as I believe nearly all of us would be), how should we respond? If I realize that I have been feeding the hungry and clothing the naked in an inner city mission, but I have never visited prisoners because of fear or disgust, is my response to resolve that I should go join a prison ministry program, or do I drop to my knees in repentence and prayer and ask God to give me a heart that will take joy in visiting the prisoner? If we reveal our faith through our works, does not the lack of works, or a deficit in a particular area of good works not reveal an area of our faith that is lacking? Can we repair our faith by undertaking good works in our own strength? Or is this evidence of incomplete faith the occasion to turn to the Lord (the true meaning of repentence) and ask for supernatural help? Is it not in fact a call from God to turn back to Him?

    In other words, it is possible to love our neighbor and not to love God, but it is impossible to love God and to not love our neighbor.

    I believe our first and most important call as Christians is move OUR OWN HEARTS toward an unfeignedly devoted relationship to Jesus Christ. When that relationship is in fact in place, the Lord will see to it that we are called to such works as suit His purposes, even if they do not necessarily fit into our humanly-created ideas of what needs to happen in the world.

  36. George Gray Says:

    What do you think about Presiding Bishop-elect, Katharine Jefferts-Shori, statement that The Episcopal Church’s primary focus “needs to be on feeding people who go to bed hungry, on providing primary education to girls and boys, on healing people with AIDS, on addressing tuberculosis and malaria, on sustainable development,” asked Bishop Henderson. He continues, “Is her statement of call consistent with the Lord’s, or not?” The answer is her statement is consistent with our Lord’s call, but she is incorrect in describing this as our church’s primary purpose.

    St. James says, “Faith without works is dead.” Faith and works go hand in hand. What is of concern: are public statements made by our Presiding Bishop-elect on matters related to faith. Simply put, some of these statements seem inconsistent with the faith of the Church. When a national church leader’s faith is of questionable integrity then many more underlying difficulties will be on the horizon for The Episcopal Church.

  37. Betty Says:

    Glenn Gould – You asked me to have patience with Bishop Schori but I doubt that our patience will inspire her to follow Scripture and lead us to the true Christian faith.
    I see no indication that she will revoke the Episcopal Church’s active membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), on behalf of the Episcopal Church, in fact her remarks about “Mother Jesus” lead me to believe that her allegiance is with that strident, un-Christian organization.
    Time for patience is running out and if the Archbishop of Canterbury will provide a way for us to get true Christian leadership I will take it.

  38. Glenn Gould Says:

    Betty – what I said was, “Give her a little room and a lot of prayer.” As I know you believe in the power of prayer, our prayers will indeed support and inspire her to be the kind of Christian leader we can all be proud of.

    While we’re praying, let us not forget the Archbishop of Cantebury — he’s also really on the spot with so many competing “so called” Christian agendas coming his way.

    As I am sure you are well aware, people don’t just want Scripture to be followed — they want their understanding and interpretation of Scripture to be followed.

    It seems that our “broad church” approach (welcoming many different interpretations but remaining united as brothers and sisters in Christ) — it seems that broad church is coming apart at the seams. Lately we sound a lot more Protestant (each one going his own righteous way) and less Catholic (remaining unified by our faith in Jesus and our table fellowship).

  39. Betty Says:

    Glenn Gould – I am protestant, I didn’t think that disqualified me from being an Episcopalian. I believe that protestants have been accepted in this Church since the time of Queen Elizabeth. My Grandmother’s prayer book refers to the “Protestant Episcopal Church”. I don’t know when the name was changed.
    I believe we also have a Catholic tradition which I respect but I do not define it as you do and I would be horrified if we paid homage to the reign of the Roman Catholic Queen Mary who allowed so many Saints, including Cranmer, to be burned at the stake.
    I am grateful that Cranmer, at great sacrifice, gave us the the Book of Common Prayer and am also grateful for the sacrifice of other protestants that gave us the right to read the Bible in our own language. I think protestants have contributed greatly to the Anglican Church and hope we will still be included in this “inclusive” church.

  40. Betty Says:

    Glenn Gould – I do pray that our Church will do God’s will. and that he will send the Holy Spirit to our troubled Church.

  41. trog Says:

    If it had been me who was interviewed, I might taken my favorite Biblical scene and called it the focus of the Church—I’ve been known to be self-centered and shorted-sighted—but who can tell if Dr. Shori’s response was self-filled or Spirit-filled?

    On the other hand, I may have answered the question: “The Church’s focus has been and will continue to be fidelity to the person of Jesus Christ. Our continued task, then, is two-fold: lauding, extolling, thanking, and praising the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as well as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the dispossessed, and advocating the truly marginalized—those who think or have been falsely told that the Kingdom of God is not available to them. This is action to which the Church is called.”


  42. A HAPPY vicar I might have been
    Two hundred years ago
    To preach upon eternal doom
    And watch my walnuts grow;

    But born, alas, in an evil time,
    I missed that pleasant haven,
    For the hair has grown on my upper lip
    And the clergy are all clean-shaven.

    And later still the times were good,
    We were so easy to please,
    We rocked our troubled thoughts to sleep
    On the bosoms of the trees.

    All ignorant we dared to own
    The joys we now dissemble;
    The greenfinch on the apple bough
    Could make my enemies tremble.

    But girl’s bellies and apricots,
    Roach in a shaded stream,
    Horses, ducks in flight at dawn,
    All these are a dream.

    It is forbidden to dream again;
    We maim our joys or hide them:
    Horses are made of chromium steel
    And little fat men shall ride them.

    I am the worm who never turned,
    The eunuch without a harem;
    Between the priest and the commissar
    I walk like Eugene Aram;

    And the commissar is telling my fortune
    While the radio plays,
    But the priest has promised an Austin Seven,
    For Duggie always pays.

    I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls,
    And woke to find it true;
    I wasn’t born for an age like this;
    Was Smith? Was Jones? Were you?

    A Little Poem
    by George Orwell
    1935

  43. Sandhills Says:

    Global South Primates communique–Wow. Read #9 & 10 (a,b,c)

    http://www.globalsouthanglican.org/index.php/comments/kigali_communique/

  44. George Gray Says:

    “Camp Allen was an opportunity for some bishops to stand up and be counted as Windsor bishops.”

    – Bishop Jack Iker

    In the Diocese of Upper South Carolina it has been said, “We are Windsor Diocese with a Windsor Bishop.”

    Bishop Henderson could you explain why you decided not to attend the Camp Allen meeting?

  45. Bill Todd Says:

    Bishop Henderson:

    I have just spent far more time than I should have reading through the comments to your blog. At this time I have only two quick comments.

    1. Thanks for providing this opportunity to provide you with thoughts from your clergy and laity (and, I guess, others since Kendall Harmon posted your blog link on TitusOne).

    2. I am generally saddened to see the devisiveness that exists among your flock of which I am a member. Too few responders seem willing to concede the possible value of anyone’s opinion but their own. A good friend said once “I am not so presumptuous as to ever believe that I know the mind of God.” If this seems wishy-washy to some, so be it. I find myself in complete agreement. It is curious (and disturbing) to me that so many are so sure about what God means. The disciples, who were closest to Jesus and who knew him most intimately, couldn’t ever seem to “get it” quite right. Beyond the two great Commandments, I am pretty much at a loss. I have taken comfort from a line in the movie “Rudy.” When Rudy asks a priest why God has not answered his prayers to be a member of the Notre Dame football team, the priest responds: “I have been a priest for 30 years, and I have learned two things: There is a God, and I’m not Him.” Again, sorry if this seems trite or uncertain, but it is the best that I can do for the moment.

    “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

  46. TXAnglican Says:

    Folks, while we argue about the fine points of this ‘can of worms’ called salvation, another 200 or so Episcopalians will have walked away from the church today. The march continues. Churches in Tanzania, Uganda, SE Asia that boldly proclaim Jesus Christ as savior and explain how to accept him and His sacrifice for our sins are growing at a diocese a month (that would be 12 Dioceses of Upper S. Carolina per year). We once taught these churches what salvation is. Now we seem to be lost in the wilderness. Furthermore our leading bishop has trouble defining Jesus as the means to salvation. This is very troubling – I want straight answers to straight questions. This is not what Bishop Schori is about. She’s about the MDGs and universalism of the Gospel message in some wierd attempt at evangelism. You know what – IT AIN”T WORKING! Let’s get back to the Gospel, and the articles of faith that unite us with our evangelism-driven brethren across the globe. I think that answers Bishop Dorsey’s question.


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