Faith: May 2007 Archives

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.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Faith category from May 2007.

Faith: April 2007 is the previous archive.

Faith: June 2007 is the next archive.

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