Maureen Fiedler looks at both sides of the “contentious issues involved in the struggle within the Episcopal Church” in the latest episode of Interfaith Voices, an independent public radio program which ran this week. The episode is available from the Interfaith Voices website as a streaming audio file or a podcast (see link below).
In the first segment, Fiedler interviews Bishop Martin Minns, challenging him on key issues such as how we come to a different understanding of scripture over time. Noting that the Archbishop of Canterbury is “not the pope,” he declares that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is outside the mainstream of the Anglican Communion while the Global South represents more than a quarter of it.
“Most people that have left because we haven’t moved fast enough,” he says. “They’ve gone to evangelical churches, charismatic churches, the Catholic church.” And along that line of thinking, he sees Evangelical, Pentecostal and Catholic as being the three legs of the the CANA initiative’s stool, so to speak.
An interesting exchange from about 16 minutes in:
Fielder: As we both know, teachings do change. The classic one is that preachers once used theology … to justify slavery and racism, but that isn’t true anymore. Isn’t it possible to develop theologically on issues dealing with women or gays and lesbians?
Minns: …It’s clear that the Scripture taught, indeed, that slavery is not right. “In Christ there is no slave or free.”
Fielder: Yet Paul said, “Slaves, be subject to your masters.” That was pretty clear too, wasn’t it?
Minns: Yes, but that was always to be done in terms of not challenging that particular culture of that time …, and always understanding it to be simply transitional time.
Fielder: But we both know that there were plenty of preachers here in our own South who used that phrase to defend the culture of slavery.
Minns: Oh, I agree. Culture does, sometimes, pollute the way we read scripture. That’s absolutely clear.
Fielder: Isn’t it possible that culture may be polluting it in this case?
Minns: I think it is. It’s the culture of the whole sexual agenda; it is indeed making us see scripture the wrong way.
In the second segment, Fiedler interviews Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who notes that our history of colonialism is colliding with “a colonialism that is turning against the United States,” while noting that the Episcopal Church has 10 overseas dioceses as well. But the problems are complex, she also said while discussing the recent meeting in Tanzania. “There is a diversity of opinion in every part of the Anglican communion … In that gathering of 34, 35 bishops, leaders of their provinces, there are certainly a handful who are exceedingly unhappy with the actions of the Episcopal Church. There are a much larger number who are incredibly annoyed that we are spending so much time and energy on this when people in their own provinces are dying of hunger or lack of medication and medical care.”
You can listen to the program here.