Sunday, May 14, 2006

Video Interviews of Presiding Bishop Nominees

The Episcopal News Service now has a page with video interviews of all the candidates for Presiding Bishop. If you have the time, the interviews are well done although a trifle lacking in substance.

The candidates (with quotes I have dug up) are:

J. Neil Alexander, Bishop of Atlanta
“If you must choose between heresy and schism, choose heresy. For heresy is, in the end, just an opinion, and opinions come and go. Schism tears the fabric of the Body of Christ and is irreparable.”
-Alexander, remarking on those leaving the Episcopal Church, diocesan newsletter “DioLog”, March 2004.

Francisco J. Duque-Gomez, Bishop of Columbia
“They [young people] are anxious to experience a Jesus who is closer, more human, more sensitive to the realities they face in their young lives. This influx of young people, and others, demonstrates that, in actuality, it is not our edifices, not our material goods that attracts people to us, it is our effort to keep alive our evangelical zeal … our concern to show the human face of God.”
-Duque-Gomez, in an interview with Edmund Desueza in Episcopal Life, May 1, 2006.

Edwin F. Gulick, Jr., Bishop of Kentucky
“There are some in the church who arrange truth in a hierarchical way over unity and justice. I think that’s always dangerous. It would be hard to make the Biblical case that truth is more important than unity. … But for anyone to say that truth is more important than unity, I could certainly make the opposite Biblical argument…”
-Gulick in an interview on Windsor, Episcopal News, November 2004.

Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada
“Reason implies, as the old hymn puts it, that ‘new occasions teach new duties.’ We believe that revelation continues…”
-Schori in an article on creationism, in which she cites Scripture, tradition and reason as equally authoritative on NPR, January 2006.

Charles E. Jenkins III, Bishop of Louisiana
“Some believe that our mission is enhanced by the actions of General Convention 2003 and others of us see those actions as a stumbling block. As bishops we seek to provide a safe place in the Episcopal Church, and we are willing to sacrifice for the safety and integrity of the other.”
-Jenkins in a presentation to the Anglican Consultative Council, Nottingham, June 2005.

Henry N. Parsley, Jr., Bishop of Alabama
“Anglicans, however, are not Biblical literalists. Our tradition has held for centuries that the truth of the scriptures is best revealed using tradition and reason as tools to the interpretative process. Bishop Carpenter used to carry around a three-legged stool … to illustrate this. …Our understanding of the truth of God revealed in the Holy Scriptures has evolved over the centuries…”
-Parsley in “A Short Teaching on Christian Sexual Ethics in the Present Life of the Church,” Diocesan Convention, 2005.

Stacy Sauls, Bishop of Lexington
“But there is no doubt that the moral imperative of the Christian faith is to unity—because God has willed it and Christ’s sacrifice has made it so. When exactly was it that morality became a word we use to talk about sex instead of a word we use to talk about peace and justice, which are the building blocks of unity?”
-Sauls, in a Diocesan Convention Address, February 2006.

I still think Parsley is the front runner, with Jenkins getting some sympathy votes for his work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I have heard the bishop of Atlanta preach once, and, quite frankly, I thought he was nuts. I honestly don't know too much about the other candidates, other than hearing (amongst other things) of some squabbles that Sauls has had with some parishes in Lexington. I know nothing about Schori, and judging from the interview, I don't see ECUSA electing Duque-Gomez because he speaks little or no English. Of course, that never stopped the current presiding bishop, who has a singular gift for cryptic speeches.


Stephen Newell said...

To someone non-Anglican, the majority of these quotes are just appalling. Okay, all of them are just plain disturbing. But then again, my denomination doesn't use tradition to interpret the Scriptures.

I'd agree that Parsley seems the front-runner (he was on TV here a while back and there was an article in the paper too) on the basis of what I've read here and elsewhere. But to claim that their understanding of Scripture is "evolving" deserves clarification.

From an outsider's view, these guys give me the theological creeps. I'd rather nominate you any day. ;-)

The Archer of the Forest said...

Here's my thinking. I start getting antsy when people start throwing around the stupid 3 legged stool analogy. I don't know where exactly that comes from. People say its Richard Hooker but its actually not. I've read through most of his works, and he never talks about any theological bar stool that I can tell. He does make one reference to the rope of the faith, with reason, tradition, and scripture as the cords that make up the rope, but even then he openly says that the major chord is the scripture.

That's not to say I am a flaming Sola Scriptura person either. I think the proper analogy is reason and tradition being the lenses through which we look at scripture. But to say that our own reason is as important or co-equal to scripture is just plain human arrogance.

Case in point, Adolf Hitler used reason to bring himself to power. We post-World War II folks want to paint Hitler as a lunatic, but lest we forget Hitler came to power through democratic means, on a platform of well reasoned National Socialism. And Hitler was open about turning the government into a dictatorship once elected. Now, yes, Hitler was a monster and his reason in many ways was, in fact, insanity.

My point being that reason is culturally conditioned. It seemed quite reasonable to oppress blacks in the 1940s, it seemed quite reasonable to burn witches in the 1500s.

That is not to say that reason is without value. Certainly God came to take away our sins and not our brains. I just don't think humanity can really truly tell what is reason except in hindsight, and even then it involves a whole lot of value judgments on culture and what not.

Tradition, likewise, is the flip side of that coin. I believe very strongly in the Nicene and Apostles Creeds. I believe God was at work at Nicea, but that creed was a refinement of revelation, the Spirit working it pin down the faith, but not a new revelation.

I have been doing a paper on the Wesleys (and I now heartily believe that prolonged study of Charles Wesley will drive you mad because you have his hymns in your head for days). John Wesley wanted to add experience into the mix of tradition and reason, hence you end up with the Methodist quadrilateral. I don't particularly care for that myself because experience is so existential, it cannot be proven nor disproven. There is no way to judge a person's experience as its so subjective. But, regardless of where you stand on the importantance of experience, it likewise is yet another lens through which we look at scripture.

From where I sit, I think the trouble in the Anglican church, and many other denominations, is how one views scripture. I think many of the churches will eventually rip apart, not over specfic issues like homosexuality or women's ordination or whatever. It will ultimately be over scripture because this spills over into view of God. Is scripture a one time, end-all revelation, or is "God doing a new thing" and scripture is "evolving." Is God the god who calls you to repentance and change, or is God the god who will affirm you in your nature. If one takes the first view of scripture, then one will likely take the view that God is calling for repentance. And vice versa for the second for if the view of scripture changes, so will the view of God.

I know its more complicated than that, but that's where the guts of church division is these days. And that's not just an Anglican thing.

The Archer of the Forest said...

For the record, I would also like to make clear that I take strong objection to this bizarre notion of sacrificing all for the sake of unity. Bishop Alexander stated in that quote that "For heresy is, in the end, just an opinion." Granted, and this is again a cross-denominational thing, we live in a religious culture where the only true heresy is to believe there actually is such a thing as heresy. That just particularly horrified me.

This is probably my inner protestant talking, but if unity entails selling out all your principles, ethics, and morals, that unity is meaningless. There are some things, not many, that are not open for negotiation.
There is no unity if no one agrees on anything. Unity becomes a mirage at that point because the body of Christ has become incapacitated.