Rules of dis-engagement

Framed as principles for “engagement” with the Episcopal Church, the leadership of the Diocese South Carolina have unveiled five proposed resolutions designed to disengage from the Episcopal Church but stopping short of actual withdrawal. They parallel what Bishop Lawrence said to the clergy of the diocese on August 13.

#1: “The Lordship of Christ and the Sufficiency of Scripture”

Stating that “recent pronouncements by the Presiding Bishop and resolutions of the General

Convention have raised questions about the content and nature of the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church,” this resolution tacks a signing statement on to the ordinal.

The resolution says that their doctrine, worship and discipline is expressed in the “theology of the historic prayer books” without defining which prayers books count as “historic.” Is this understanding limited to the lineage of American prayer books 1662 through 1979 plus 1549 and 1552? Does this understand include other prayer books such New Zealand’s (or, for that matter our own?) or books such as Canada’s 1928 book?

Resolved that the Diocese of South Carolina reaffirms its commitment to live its corporate life under the authority of Holy Scripture (Articles of Religion, Art. VI and XX) and the unique Lordship of Jesus Christ (Art. XVIII) and commits to exercising all such actions as the Bishop and Standing Committee may believe edifying to the Body of Christ in bearing that witness and bringing to light such actions as contravene those essentials to “upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order” (Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States: Preamble) as we have received them: and be it

Further Resolved, that the following statement shall constitute our understanding of the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church and shall be read at all ordinations in The Diocese of South Carolina, and a copy of which shall be attached to the Oath of Conformity signed by the ordinand at such service of ordination: “In the Diocese of South Carolina, we understand the substance of the ‘doctrine, discipline and worship’ of The Episcopal Church to mean that which is expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Creeds, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and the theology of the historic prayer books.”

#2: “Godly Boundaries”

This resolution echoes Bishop Lawrence’s words in describing the Episcopal Church as both dysfunctional in our common life and decision-making and deliberate in violating our own constitution and canons. It is also assumed that resolutions expressing “the mind of the Communion” at a given Lambeth Conference carries a doctrinal weight equal or surpassing an individual provinces own councils. The resolution places the responsibility for repentance on the “bodies” of the Episcopal Church but leaves the terms of adequate repentance entirely with the Diocese of South Carolina.

Resolved that this Diocese authorize the Bishop and Standing Committee to begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them, the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference which have expressed the mind of the Communion, the Book of Common Prayer and our Constitution and Canons, until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions; and be it

Further resolved that the Diocese of South Carolina declares that the most recent example of this behavior, in the passage of Resolutions DO25 and CO56, to be null and void, having no effect in this Diocese, and in violation of our diocesan canon (XXXVI sec.1).

#3: “Domestic Engagement for Missional Relationships”

The writers of the motion believe that the Diocese of South Carolina “is uniquely positioned to be a source of encouragement and resource for equipping the faithful who feel isolated in other parts of the Episcopal Church.” This resolution encourages parishes to set up relationships with other parishes deemed “orthodox” and “isolated” without regard to the Bishops and relationships of these other parishes in other dioceses.

The phrase “relationships with orthodox congregations isolated around North America” may open the way for parishes to do their own border crossing by including Canada and Mexico in the places where they may engage in partnerships. This also may be the way that the Diocese of South Carolina may establish relationships with ACNA and CANA congregations.

Resolved that this Diocese, committing itself to remain focused on our gospel mission effectively to reach both the lost and unchurched, will work in partnership with such Dioceses as are willing to form Missional Relationships providing gatherings for Bishops, clergy and laity for the express purpose of evangelism, encouragement, education and mission: therefore, be it further

Resolved that the parishes of this Diocese are encouraged to enter into their own Missional Relationships with orthodox congregations isolated across North America and to pursue effective initiatives which are lay-led and supported.

#4: “Emerging 21st Century Anglicanism”

This resolution is based on the assumption that the Diocese of South Carolina has “inherent sovereign authority” because it is a “founding Diocese of the Episcopal Church.”

It appears to set up a mechanism to redirect money away from the mission of the Episcopal Church towards purposes of its own choosing. Additionally, it appears to assume the diocese can interact with other dioceses and provinces independently from the Episcopal Church. Nothing here about accountability within one’s own province, except that the province must act in the way the diocese wants.

Resolved that the Diocese of South Carolina endorses the Ridley draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant, as it presently stands, in all four sections, as an expression of our full commitment to mutual submission and accountability in communion, grounded in a common faith.

#5: “The Rubric of Love”

This resolution places homosexuality, bisexuality and transgendered sexuality solely within the categories of sin and assumes their reversibility even as it attempts to set a boundary around discrimination. The resolution does not speak against violence against GLBT persons as firmly as it speaks in favor of the right to correct the behavior of the GLBT neighbor.

Whereas the Diocese of South Carolina recognizes we have all been created in God?s image and are precious in his sight, and

Whereas we acknowledge we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and stand equally in need of his mercy and grace, we thankfully and humbly,

Resolve that this Diocese will not condone prejudice or deny the dignity of any person, including but not limited to, those who believe themselves to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. Nevertheless, we will speak the truth in love as Holy Scripture commends for the amendment of life required of disciples of Christ. It is love of neighbor and the abiding concern for their spiritual well being that compels such honesty and will never allow us to remain silent.

With these resolutions, the Diocese of South Carolina would set itself up as a kind of rump or shadow church for conservatives within the Episcopal Church. Their passage would also send a message to those same conservative Episcopalians that a relationship with this diocese is a better Anglican alternative to joining a separate denomination, such as ACNA.

Read the rest here.

H/T to T19.

Past Posts