Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lack of Consent for Forrester Exposes the Myth of a Unified Left

Over at the "Anglican Centrist," Fr. Greg Jones has posted a brief but insightful reflection on the rift exposed among Episcopalians on the Left end of the theological spectrum by the case of Kevin Thew Forrester, the so-called "Buddhist" bishop-elect of Northern Michigan.

In addition to exposing the myth of a unified Left, I think the Forrester case suggests that the charge sometimes leveled by conservatives against Episcopalians who see themselves as primarily in the Center or Left - that they cannot and do not have an orthodox concern for the dogmatic core of the Christian faith - is often false.

And finally, the Forrester case also suggests that the political and theological labels we so often use to define (and too often dismiss) one another often do not adequately describe far richer and more complex realities.

Generation Gap

by Fr. Greg Jones

Several of the leading members of what I will call the 'establishment Left' are quite upset with the lack of consents in the election of Thew Forrester. They are beginning to cry, 'witch hunt,' and 'theological oppression.' Others are beginning to cry, 'but he's actually orthodox.' Still others, 'this is the beginning of the end of true intellectualism in the Church.' Still others seem to have begun a process of shaming those 'fellow liberals' who voted against Thew Forrester.

What we are seeing is the Gap between parties in the Episcopal Church who have not historically been seen to be different. The party of theological 'free thinkers' who have eschewed since the 1960s any appreciation for theological and liturgical coherence are awakening to see that there are also Episcopalians who favor the ample and generous orthodoxy of the Prayer Book and Hymnal, and are looking for a more inclusive church, but who are not looking to tweak, revise, redact or avoid the core elements of the faith, or make revision and innovation the constant modus operandi of the church either.

The party of folks who want to keep things loose, open, and 'challenging' -- are finding new resistance from those who want to keep things theologically and liturgically coherent, in and of themselves and in line with centuries of faith and practice, as well as with the global Anglican Communion.

The past number of years has perhaps seen folks from both parties operating together - because both agree with the affirmation of women and glbt people. But, perhaps now, we are beginning to see that once the equality issues are more widely agreed upon internally in TEC, other areas are much less agreed upon.

As I have begun to see on this blog, as well as on Episcopal Cafe, there is an impressive cadre of Episcopalian laity and clergy who are very serious (and usually very educated) about theology and the Anglican tradition. This group tends to agree on matters of theology, liturgy and church order, AND, in regard to the affirmation of women's ordination and the inclusion of all the baptized into sacramental life and leadership.


plsdeacon said...


I have some thoughts on the subject on my Blog, the Deacon's Slant

Bryan Owen said...

I'll be sure and take a look at your posting when I've got some time in the next couple of days, Phil. Thanks for the link.