In the midst of economic disaster in Illinois, Tom Ehrich reflects in the Indianapolis Star, “With Detroit imploding and farmers struggling, people are watching Caterpillar Corp., the area’s major employer, not a fringe church’s opinions on sexuality.”… “I doubt that much sleep was lost, in heaven or on earth, when the tiny Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, Ill., recently voted to secede from the national Episcopal Church for being too liberal”
With 1,800 members scattered over a large area bordering the Mississippi River, the diocese has long been a recalcitrant outpost of the fading Anglo-Catholic wing of the Episcopal Church. Its stern refusals — no to women as priests, no to gays, no to theological diversity — have played poorly in Peoria.
If a church wanted to walk the walk of Jesus as savior, it wouldn’t be debating sexuality. It would be helping people deal with economic deprivation and correct the values that led to this. It would promote community and sacrifice.
A church that truly accepted the authority of Scripture would know that God “hates and despises your festivals” and condemns those who live “at ease” and exploit others. It would know that the more ancient Israel became effete and self-focused, the more God welcomed invading Assyrians and Chaldeans.
A truly evangelical church would embrace all of Scripture and not just cherry-pick the few verses that confirm a cultural stance on homosexuality. It would risk seeing why Jesus was rejected by the religious establishment and stop seeking to be the religious establishment.
A church truly concerned about “historic Christian teaching” would look at Christian history — the gap between Jesus’ circles of inclusion and the early church’s hierarchy and exclusion; the gap between Jesus’ call for peace and church-sponsored wars; the gap between Jesus’ humility and prelates’ pride — and conclude that, yes, perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at what they claim and what they are.
Tom Ehrich, an Episcopal priest, can be contacted here.