Monday, April 02, 2007

Another Good Man Leaves the Episcopal Church

From The Living Church:
Concerned that his presentment trial would be a financial and public relations disaster for The Episcopal Church, retired Bishop William J. Cox informed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on March 29 that he had left The Episcopal Church and had been received into the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

“I don’t want a fight amongst Christians,” Bishop Cox told The Living Church. “I don’t hold a grudge against [Oklahoma] Bishop [Robert] Moody or [Kansas] Bishop [Dean] Wolfe for bringing charges against me.

For those unfamiliar with the matter at hand, Bishop Cox was to be tried in Ecclesiastical Court for the perceived sin of having ordained a couple of priests and a deacon in Kansas in 2005, as a favor to the Primate of Uganda. The church at which said ordinations took place is now affiliated with the Anglican Province of Uganda. The Episcopal Church apparently considers this good cause to remove Bishop Cox from the ordained ministry.

I have had the privilege to meet Bishop Cox during a retreat several years ago. He is a decent man and a class act – definitely one of the “good guys,” whatever one’s views on the current goings on in TEC.

If I have ever questioned my decision to leave the Episcopal Church, this certainly puts an end to it. The Episcopal Church never found reason to do more than slap the wrist of Bishop James Pike in 1966 for dismissing such “primitive” notions as the Trinity and the virginity of the Blessed Mother. It has never shown any interest in dealing with the comments of Bishop John Shelby Spong, whose 1998 “Twelve Theses” include:
  • Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
  • Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
  • The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
  • The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
  • The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.

In 2003, the Episcopal Church approved as Bishop of New Hampshire a man who had divorced his wife and family in order to pursue a relationship with his gay lover. Yet that same Episcopal Church was prepared to defrock Bishop Cox for the Unforgivable Sin of crossing into the supposed territory of another diocese. Pah!

My prayers are with Bishop Cox and his family; he is a far more gracious man than I am. The best I can do for TEC at the moment is to not wish a plague of anthrax on them.