Episcopal Church in Steps Into Tense New Era

DURHAM, N.H.  — The Episcopal Church will never be quite the same after its consecration of an openly gay bishop. The new leader, V. Gene Robinson, said as much during his elevation.

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.

He expressed hope Sunday that the step would show the church is reaching out to “people who find themselves at the margins,” just as Jesus did. But he acknowledged that some Episcopalians will break ties with himself and the leaders of the denomination’s majority forces.

“They must know if they must leave, they will always be welcomed back,” Robinson said to one of several rousing rounds of applause from the 4,000 supportive worshippers gathered in a university sports arena.

The church’s division became obvious earlier in the three-hour service when assistant Bishop David Bena, of Albany, N.Y., read a statement on behalf of 28 bishops of the U.S. Episcopal Church and 10 in the Anglican Church of Canada, announcing they will not recognize Robinson as a bishop.

The signers, who included the bishops who currently head 16 U.S. dioceses in 11 states, said Robinson’s consecration was a “schismatic act” and “a departure from Holy Scripture” and from the historic moral teaching of Christianity.

As Robinson was being consecrated, about 400 opponents attended an alternative Communion at a borrowed church. Critics included Terry Harwood, a Marine just back from Afghanistan. “The only thing I can hold onto is the Bible and 2,000 years of teaching,” he said.

The Episcopal Church is a branch of the international Anglican Communion, which encompasses 77 million believers, and the worldwide ramifications of the elevation were immediate.

Anglicanism’s spiritual leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, issued a statement from London calling the international divisions over Robinson’s elevation “a matter of deep regret” and noting that some will refuse to recognize Robinson.

Those who consecrated Robinson “have acted in good faith,” Williams said, “but the effects of this upon the ministry and witness of the overwhelming majority of Anglicans, particularly in the non-Western world, have to be confronted with honesty.”

Outside the arena, police separated more than 200 pro-gay demonstrators from a couple dozen anti-Robinson protesters. Armed officers stood on the roof of the building.

The consecration sermon by New Hampshire’s retiring Bishop Douglas Theuner was interrupted twice by vigorous applause as he defended Robinson’s gay commitment against detractors.

Theuner said Robinson “will stand as a symbol of the unity of the church in a way none of the rest of us can” because he will “bring into our fellowship an entire group of Christians hitherto unacknowledged in the church.”

Conservative Anglican organizations issued immediate denunciations.

The American Anglican Council, sponsor of the competing Communion, said “heresy has been held up as holy. Blasphemy has been redefined as blessing.”

Canon David Roseberry, of Plano, Texas, whose church hosted an October rally for 2,700 traditionalists, said the Episcopal Church has “fallen prey to the whims of our culture and refuted 2,000 years of biblical teaching.”

And the Forward in Faith organization, which opposes both gay and female clergy, said Episcopalianism has turned into “an eccentric religious sect.”

The American Anglican Council is building a network of dissenting dioceses and congregations that will exist more or less separately from the national denomination, withholding funds and claiming to preserve the traditional beliefs of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

Council President David Anderson, just back from a London caucus with foreign traditionalists, says the new network “is going to begin assembling almost immediately.”

Anderson said lawsuits already filed by pro-Robinson groups in the conservative dioceses of Pittsburgh and South Carolina are the start of what will be an attempted war of legal attrition by the majority against the traditionalist minority.

Bishop Robinson said there have been gay bishops in the past but they were closeted when elevated to their posts. Robinson has been open about his 14-year relationship with his partner during his three bids to be elected a bishop in recent years.

The title conferred on Robinson, a longtime assistant to Theuner, is “bishop coadjutor,” meaning he automatically becomes head of the diocese when Theuner retires March 7.

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Associated Press, USA
Nov. 3, 2003

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday November 3, 2003.
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