Updated. As we move towards another big weekend of Episcopal conflict, we find that one of the chief weapons of those who denegrate the Episcopal Church is spin and distortion. A favorite charge of these folks is that we are no longer Christian. Sometimes the MSM takes the bait. Today’s New York Times is a case in point.
In an otherwise fair piece on the situation in Pittsburgh, Sean D. Hammil writes:
“The dispute includes complaints that the national church allows open debate on whether Jesus is the Son of God, or that the only way to God is through Jesus — tenets of faith that conservatives find indisputable.”
To our knowledge, there is no debate in our church over whether Jesus is the Son of God.
We do know of at least one attempt to stir up such a debate, and it was instigated by very people who know repeat this charge against the church endlessly. During the 75th General Convention in Columbus, the deputation of the Diocese of Fort Worth wanted convention to vote up or down on the Lordship of Jesus. The motion was dispensed with administratively by a majority of the House of Deputies without a vote on the motion itself because it was redundant.
The teaching of the Episcopal Church on this point is clearly stated in the Prayer Book over and over again, itself a document of General Convention.
The point of the resolution was to embarrass the church and embolden it’s detractors because, passed or not, the resolution would have been used against the Episcopal Church either to charge us with hypocrisy or apostasy.
The truth is that there is no debate.
Jim Naughton observes:
I don’t know whether everyone who finds his or her way into a church on Sunday believes it, but it isn’t as though the issue is open to dispute in any serious way. We proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God in our Prayer Book. This understanding infuses our hymns. We profess it every Sunday as part of our Creed. We teach it in our seminaries. There is absolutely no movement to change this bedrock element of our faith.
To suggest that we do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God is to call the integrity of our faith into question for political ends. Bishop Duncan and his followers want readers to believe that the controversy in the Episcopal Church isn’t “about” homosexuality, but some greater intellectual and spiritual division. This explanation removes the taint of bigotry from a movement led by the notoriously bigoted Peter Akinola of Nigeria. I don’t know if reporters of the time allowed secessionists to argue that slavery wasn’t a racial issue but a Scriptural one, but that’s basically what is going on here. To excuse his own self-glorifying behavior, the Bishop and his followers must allege ever greater crimes against the faith. I get that. I don’t get why the New York Times can’t see through it.
On the second point, whether Episcopalians believe that the only way to God is through Jesus there are leaders in the Episcopal Church who believe that an intellectual assent to Christian doctrine isn’t necessary to be saved. This is more or less than position of the Roman Catholic Church; it can hardly be classified as outside the Christian mainstream.
Why is the New York Times allowing people who seek to destroy our Church to define for the public the nature of our beliefs?
Updated: epiScope had the following:
The following letter has been sent to the reporter:
Thank you for your in-depth article which appeared in today’s New York Times, Pittsburgh Episcopalians Weigh Division. However, I must point out that the Episcopal Church has never disputed that “Jesus is the Son of God”. While there may be debate in some quarters about beliefs of the Episcopal Church, there has never been “open debate” or any debate in councils or conventions on our core belief that Jesus is the Son of God.