Saturday, September 27, 2008

David Virtue, With Another Stupid Attack

    In one of the silliest and most moronic attacks on our Presiding Bishop, David Virtue has graced us with a sophomoric attack by the "orthodox" rector of St. John's Church in Savannah, Georgia, Fr. Dunbar. The title of the article is "Orthodox Episcopal Priest Goes Head to Head with Presiding Bishop over Biblical Interpretation."

    At issue was our Presiding Bishop's meeting with the clergy of that diocese when she asked the clergy to meditate on Mark 1:11, "You are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased," the words spoken by "a voice from heaven" to Jesus at his baptism in Jordan. She has used this approach during most of her visits with diocesan clergy around the church, asking the clergy to hear those words spoken to them.

I was present when ++Katharine Jefferts Schori used the same Scripture when speaking to the clergy of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Individual responses to the meditations seemed to be along theological party lines. The conservatives were not able to hear the words of affirmation or blessing without qualifications. What they seemed to want was a qualified statement from God, e.g., "You are my beloved if you believe that John 14.6 means what the Network bishops say it means." On the other hand, the progressives were touched by the power of the words for themselves and for all those in the room – and many noted that the meditation helped them in affirming those in the room with whom they disagreed. The conservatives seemed to be left with "yes, but. . ."

Fr. Dunbar, along with those who commented on Virtue's article, were incensed that words which, in Mark, were addressed to Jesus would be taken to apply to anyone else. I would ask Fr. Dunbar, David Virtue and their cohort to re-read Matthew 5. When Jesus looks out at the crowd and says "You are the light of the world," he is not saying "I am the light of the world" or "If you believe x, y and z you may be the light of the world." He says to the crowd "You are the Light of the World."

    What Jesus is saying to us in Matthew 5 is so very close to "You are my beloved. . . ." It echoes, as well, the blessings pronounced at the beginning of Matthew 5, the Beatitudes. If there are Bible classes nearby, I would urge the Dunbar-Virtue crowd to join one of them to study this crucial part of the Gospels. This is where Jesus is unequivocal about those who are Blessed – and there are no creedal statements required, no right wing litmus tests to pass. That is probably why Matthew is referred to as "Gospel."

Shame on these continuing attacks on ++Katharine Jefferts Schori. Time after time they reveal the theological and Biblical bankruptcy of the right wing of the Episcopal Church. It really does take a theological moron to take a meditation which reflects Jesus' own statements and turn it into an attack on the one leading the meditation.


+clumber said...

Good article, Thomas... as I pointed out about a conservative person from the Pittsburgh area who wrote this didactic screed, these people have been lied to and they've bought into some odd interpretation and can no longer see beyond the pile of stuff their bishops and priests are feeding them. I don't buy all the stuff other bishops put out there, not even +KJS, but for goodness sake, I don't think she has horns and speaks for the devil.

Anonymous said...

I listened to Doctor Schori do this in South Carolina. It is clear to me at least there she was in effect denying the uniqueness of Christ.

Thomas B. Woodward said...

I have responded to traditionalanglican on the blog.
Tom Woodward