McGreevey and McKee

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No, this is not satire (Hat tip: WorldMagBlog):

Former Gov. James E. McGreevey has started the process to become a priest in his newly adopted Episcopal faith and hopes to begin a three-year seminary program in the fall.

McGreevey, who often described himself as a devout Catholic while in public office, was officially received into the Episcopal religion on Sunday, at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manhattan, and is now part of the church's "discernment" phase that usually precedes any seminary work, said the Rev. Kevin Bean, vicar at St. Bartholomew.

While some commenters on the above linked article thought that McGreevey's history of corruption and dishonesty -- particularly cheating on his wife with a man, and putting said man on the public payroll as head of the state's homeland security office -- might disqualify him from the Episcopal priesthood, others suggested he was not only qualified, he was bishop material.

The retired bishop of McGreevey's diocese is the famous liberal theologian John Shelby Spong, who doesn't believe in the virgin birth, the resurrection of Christ, the miracles recorded in the Bible, the authority of Scripture, or even the veracity of Scripture. It's unclear if he even believes in God by any conventional definition of the word.

Mr. Spong has been quoted in two recent Urban Tulsa Weekly articles on the growing influence of liberalism in Tulsa churches. Last week's article featured Carlton Pearson of New Dimensions Worship Center, Stephen McKee of Trinity Episcopal Church, and Bruce Ewing of Fellowship Bible Church. In the story, we learn that the pastor of the city's biggest Episcopal parish, like Spong, apparently believes Jesus is still dead.

"It's a very powerful, truthful story, but it's not literal," said McKee of the biblical accounts of Christ's sacrificial death on the cross and subsequent resurrection.

So it's truthful, but not actually true? Is that like truthiness?

In part 2, in this week's issue, we get this gem from Carlton Pearson, who abandoned the Christian faith for universalism and lost his congregation in the fallout, and whose new congregation meets at Trinity on Sunday afternoons:

I've never questioned the resurrection, but it wouldn't change my faith in God if they discovered Jesus' bones in a tomb.

And McKee elaborates on his views of Christ's resurrection:

When asked if he believes Christ was resurrected in the literal, bodily sense, McKee responded, "To answer that question is not important to me--'resurrection,' to me, is, because we believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, a life of following the resurrected Jesus is a life of caring about the things he cared about. Another is that, when God gives life, he gives it forever."

As for the traditional notion of a literal, bodily resurrection, McKee said, "I just can't believe it. There may have been a physical resurrection, and I would be very happy if there were, but it's not that important to me."

So what is the point of showing up on Sunday morning if Jesus is still dead? And why pretend to "believe" something that you don't really believe? Why recite the Nicene Creed if you don't believe any of it? Why chant, "Christ, have mercy," if he's dead and can't hear you?

Is it just so you can prance about in shiny vestments?

Trinity Episcopal Church is a beautiful place to spend time, but every shard of stained glass, every piece of statuary, every rib of every Gothic vault is meaningless garbage if Jesus was not literally, bodily raised from the dead.

Brian Ervin had the same question:

With objections like these in mind, Spong was asked: Without a literal resurrection, a personal God and the Bible as an external standard for belief and conduct, in what sense do your beliefs qualify as "Christian"? Why not just do away with Christianity altogether?

"That's a question that reveals a profound ignorance," answered Spong.

"I don't know of a single biblical scholar who takes the Bible literally or who believes in a literal, bodily resuscitation of Jesus," he said.

This is what we call evasion (insult the questioner instead of answering the question) and petitio principii. In Spong's world, anyone who takes the Bible literally isn't a biblical scholar. QED. And so's your old man.

As the folks at Kirk of the Hills are finding out, as the folks at the former Episcopal Parish of the Holy Spirit already found out, it's really all about real estate. The liberals could never build a denominational empire based on their doctrine of hopelessness. (If they could, they'd be competing with the Unitarians, who have a corner on that market.) So instead, they wormed their way into the seminaries and into the denominational hierarchies. Now the liberals own the buildings, and if a congregation that is faithful to the historic creeds and confessions chooses to withdraw from a now-liberal denomination, they lose their real estate (paid for by the parishoners, not the hierarchy) and their pastors lose their pensions.

It all reminds me of cowbirds. They wait until some other bird makes a nest and lays eggs. Then they take over the nest, destroy the eggs that were there, and lay their own eggs in a nest that some other bird built.

UPDATE: Mark Krikorian calls it chutzpah defined:

The female head of a church with a practicing homosexual bishop planning to "marry" his lover, a church that could accept into seminary the adulterous homosexual governor of New Jersey, a church that embraces splitting open babies' skulls and vacuuming their brains out, is complaining about Nigerian Anglican bishops coming to Virginia this weekend" to formally install the head of a parallel denomination, being a violation of ancient customs.

Well, sodomy and Moloch worship are pretty ancient.

TRACKBACK: A conservative Anglican blogger calls McKee's comments about the incarnation "More Schoriesque traditionalism" (referring to the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA Katharine Jefferts Schori and her comments mentioned by Mark Krikorian above):

It’s all just symbolism, after all, right? Part of a Mediterranean myth-structure (based on ancient fertility cults) that uses imagery of resurrection to illustrate the regenerative power of hope and forgiveness and compassion for the individual “believer.” Sure, Jesus is “risen” in that sense–he “lives on” in the hearts of those who, as Father McKee puts it, “care about the things he cared about.” Like global warming! I don’t know, though. Somehow I tend to be slightly skeptical of anyone who claims to understand Christianity more deeply than St. Paul did: “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” The logic of that statement seems solid, and brutally honest, to me; I suppose Bishop Spong would say that it reveals “profound ignorance” on the part of that cranky old Paul of Tarsus.

I'm sure Bishop Spong has no use for Paul the apostle whatsoever.

See Dubya at Hot Air links to the Washington Times story about the installation of Martyn Minns as the presiding bishop of a parallel conservative Anglican denomination in America, a mission of the Anglican Church of Nigeria. Yes, African Christians are planting churches in pagan America, and it has some of the pagans a bit upset.

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9 Comments

Tyson Wynn said:

Michael-

Yet another great analysis you have provided.

Life, and faith, would be so much simpler for these antichrists if they would actually hold to Scripture once in a while.

1 Cor. 15:14-18 says it as succinctly as it can be said: 14And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Dan Paden said:

As usual, I find the grasp of "truth" revealed in those quotes interesting. With so many people these days, truth is not that which corresponds to reality, but something plastic, defined in community and relative to other things.

Personally, I think it is a thinly-veiled dodge of the very worst kind, held solely so that when asked, "Do you think the Bible is true?" they can say,"yes," when all the while, they are thinking, "but not in the sense that what it says actually happened."

Bob said:

As to former Governor McGreasey's plans to become an Episcopal priest, those career plans make about as much sense as his current job:

Former Gov. McGreevey is teaching ETHICS, law and leadership at Kean University.

The Star-Ledger newspaper of Newark reported the nation's first openly gay (former) governor earns $17,500 and has been an executive-in- residence since Nov. 1, 2006.

Paul Tay said:

I don't get it. I'm a devout Buddhist Jew.

sbtulsa said:

i disturbed that someone who has been through seminary and ordination can say "I don't know of a single biblical scholar who takes the Bible literally or who believes in a literal, bodily resuscitation of Jesus".

what??????????????????? that speaks volumes about the person saying that, not about his seminary or his mentors. He has no credibility with me.

if our relationshp with Christ is not personal then our faith is shaky. Crist has to be alive to have a relationship with Him. How can a priest miss that?

joe said:

What is one sack of bones to another? Ok, so the bible says the stone was rolled away and there was no body. Fair enough. So lets suppose there was bones found....does that preclude Jesus from "bodily ressurection?" No. I would hate to think that human cloning is out of God's reach. I can see it is entirely possible to still have a pile of bones in the tomb AND still be back with a new, identical body. I would hate to think that in the future when we perfect human cloning, that a person put back into a new identical body of themselves isn't the same person.

While I've not been active for quite a long while now, I still keep up with the goings on in the Episcopal Church from time to time ... guess I must miss it or something, else I wouldn't. Anyway, for Anglican "conservatives," there is a pretty nice website called Virtue OnLine which is pretty "newsy" about contemporaneous goings-on for Episcopalians/Anglicans here (US) and around the world, for those who may be interested.

Joey Author Profile Page said:

I understand you may disagree, as do I, with McKee, Spong, etc. regarding the physical resurrection of Christ. But your statement,

"Why chant, "Christ, have mercy," if he's dead and can't hear you?"

seems a bit odd to me. From the articles you referenced and your blog entry, it does not appear to me that McKee and Spong deny Christ's existence or the significance of his life and death. While you believe the resurrection is a critical part of Christianity, its occurrence is not required for Jesus to exist today spiritually or for Jesus to hear the prayers of his people.

Bledsoe said:

Michael, there is no question what you believe and where you stand. I respect your consistency. I hope you respect mine and others who do not believe as you.

It has always been curious to me how Episcopalians and others could affirm the orthodox creeds and rituals and at the same time say they do not really believe what they had just said or did. That is why I am a Unitarian where we have embraced our heresy pure and undiluted. We are certainly not hopeless and yet some would even say we are Christians too.

See: “Are We Christian?”

http://www.allsoulschurch.org/printsermons.asp?sermon=41&action=menu&value=136&pagecode=92

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 2, 2007 10:13 PM.

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