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Split Widens Over Gay Bishop

Newsday.com, USA
Nov. 4, 2003
Carol Eisenberg
www.newsday.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Tuesday November 4, 2003

In the first sign of splintering of the worldwide Anglican Communion, several bishops from Africa, Asia and Latin America declared themselves in “impaired communion” with the American church in an angry statement delivered fewer than 24 hours after the ordaining of the U.S. church’s first openly gay bishop in Durham, N.H.

The Church and Homosexuality
If Scripture is to be circumvented in the matter of homosexuality and not disqualify one who seeks the office of bishop, what about divorce? The newly approved bishop, V. Gene Robinson left his wife and two children to take up with a man.

In what is regarded by most Christians as the job description for high church office, Paul the Apostle wrote to his young protege Timothy that an ”overseer” (or minister) must be ”above reproach, the husband of one wife,” and ”must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.” Paul then asks an important question: ”If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:2-5)

Members of the Episcopal Church are being asked to accept a bishop who is not qualified for the office (nor even for the priestly one he holds). Does the Episcopal leadership (and the leadership of the parent Anglican Church) want to send the message that the Bible says only what some people want it to say? Some of Robinson’s supporters call him a ”holy man.” What could that possibly mean since ”all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23)?

People who regard Scripture as having passed from God to man error-free have warned for years what happens when these texts are treated as something less than accurate. Once compromises are made, all things become not only possible but probable.
Source: Is gay bishop a fit religious leader?

The Church must divide on this issue, because the ordination of gay clergy violates the authority of the Bible
Divisions Are Not Always Bad
Unity over doctrine” is today promoted by various movements, but A.W. Tozer shows that “unity is no treasure to be purchased at the price of compromise.”
There Have To Be Differences Among Us
Shows that unity is based on common doctrine; not common experiences.

While the statement stopped short of schism, its tone made it clear that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, will have a difficult time holding together his diverse, global flock. Unlike the pope, he does not exercise authority over the church’s 38 self-governing provinces.

“The situation is serious, but not hopeless,” said James Solheim, director of the Episcopal News Service.

The theological and financial stakes are potentially huge – pitting competing notions of sin, sexuality and biblical interpretation against one another, and possibly jeopardizing millions in annual American church support to the developing nations.

“This isn’t primarily about sex,” said the Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon of South Carolina, one of the leading American voices opposed to gay ordination. “It’s about the authority and interpretation of Scripture, about who gets to make decisions and how they make them.”

Many acknowledge it’s also about changing religious demographics – in Harmon’s view, “about whether Christianity at the beginning of the 21st century is going to be shaped by wealthy, mainly white, shrinking Western churches – or by the simple, faithful, growing churches of the Global South.”

But those who support V. Gene Robinson as the church’s first openly gay bishop cite their own strongly held conviction that homosexuality is a matter of gene- tics, not choice, and therefore, not inherently sinful. They note that biblical interpretations about slavery, divorce, the role of women and war have also changed.

Robinson supporters deny that any other church has to follow the American lead since each member of the Anglican Communion is autonomous.

Despite the speed of the global rift, the anticipated split within the U.S. church is expected to happen more slowly as conservative American parishes go about creating a network of like-minded churches. They are likely to get support from leaders such as Nigerian Bishop Peter Akinola, who said yesterday he would boycott all meetings attended by the U.S. church.

“The British were such good missionaries that now the Third World is coming to our rescue because they heard the message,” said Meredith Harwood of New Hampshire, who offered a formal objection to Robinson’s consecration.

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