A Gay Bishop and the North American Anglican Split

Thursday, December 4, 2008

As a baptized Anglican in Sagada's St. Mary the Virgin Church, I have always followed the interesting milestones in this denomination's history. It was in the 1990s that the Anglican church allowed women priests. In 2003, the Anglican church in the United States consecrated the first openly gay bishop. I remember that in exchanges within an Igorot mailing list, one Anglican noted that those who consecrated the first openly gay bishop did not believe in the authority of the Bible. This led to some heated exchanges for those who said they believe in the Bible but supported the consecration of the gay bishop.

I am not a practicing Anglican anymore, (if there is one such person) and I would classify myself as an evangelical Christian. And yes, I also find it hard to understand how the Anglican leadership in the US can consecrate a gay bishop and say they believe in the Bible as well. The Bible is very clear on how to select bishops. In 1 Timothy 3: 2-7, "The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach; no brawler, no striker; but gentle, not contentious, no lover of money; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (but if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) not a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have good testimony from them that are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."

Let me state that I am not a homophobic gay basher. I have close gay friends - two of my children's godparents are openly gay. And as a Christian, I am taught by the Bible to love all people as Jesus does - and Jesus died for the homosexual sinner as He did for me, a sinner too. But a bishop is a person with the responsibility of leading congregations - and if he falls short of the standard the Bible has, then he should never be put in that position.

Five years after the consecration of the gay bishop, traditionalists are moving to create a separate and competing North American Anglican church. In headline news the past two days, four breakaway Episcopal dioceses along with dozens of individual parishes in the U.S. and Canada with around 100,000 members announced the formation of a rival North American Anglican province. The group's constitution is looking to reflect the qualities of the new Anglican province which according to one its leaders should be "biblically grounded, Christ-centered, mission driven, outwardly focused, committed to evangelism and discipleship, and proudly Anglican."

The new conservative province already has the support of seven leaders of Anglican national churches including the archbishops of Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya and the Southern Cone, based in Argentina. Will the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, which the Sagada Anglican community belong to, take a stand in this divide? I highly doubt it, but I'd be very pleased if they do since I'm 99% sure which side they will be on.


Anonymous December 4, 2008 at 9:58 PM  

the episcopal church of the philippines will never condone a gay bishop. not because they understand the scripture, its because of the patriarchal nature of philippine society.

- Casual Observer

Noel E. Bordador March 6, 2009 at 6:15 PM  

dogeniI am a Filipino (lowlander) Anglican/Episcopal priest in the USA. I also happen to be gay as well.

The Episcopal Church has never been at ease with biblical fundamentalism, nor does it believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures. We do believe that it is the Word of God because God promises to reveal himself through the liberating impulse of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, not all things in the Bible are to be said to reflect that redeeming and liberating message of the Gospel. Consider, for example, those violent passages that support violence towards women, or that seems to support slavery, or even to kill people of other religions in the Name of Yahweh, or persecute those who do not adhere to the purity laws as set forth in the Pentateuch. These passages and views need to be judge in light of the Good News of Jesus. Many of us believe as well that the historical passages that condemns homosexuality could not, in fact, be proven to be about homosexuality as we know it today. Or perhaps, the prejudice towards homosexuality needs to be revisited in the same way that we revisited our historical prohibition of women at the altar. Are homosexuals incapable of the kind of love Jesus preached- mutuality, non-violent, respectful, monogamous, loyalty, etc etc? many found that they are in fact capable as their heterosexual peers in terms of deep and authentic love.

Episcopalians make a distinction between Bible as the Word of God and Jesus as the Word (Logos, Revelation). The Bible is said to be Word of God in so far as it is animated by Holy Spirit and Jesus the Word and testifies to the liberating message of Jesus the Word. But when the Scripture is read and produces oppression and injustice, then that reading is not said to be "Word of God." Remember that Satan was well versed in Scriptures and tried to tempt Jesus to act against God by quoting a passage from the Bible.

The Bible was written by human beings under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It has some errors in it. The Bible, then, is not God. Only God is God. The Bible is his Word in so far as it witness to it. To treat the Bible as if it is God is to commit idolatry...

Noel E. Bordador, Diocese of New York

Annie March 9, 2009 at 10:56 PM  

It was important to recognize that God's Word of perfected truth exposed making decisions that contradicted HIS origin. Our heavenly Father is the CREATOR and should we not represent His image by being able to CREATE in our gift, fruit and relationships. Other beliefs derail and attempt to rewrite how to create, as perfected truth was demonstrated by our Father's first two procreators. Let us first continue to love each other in perfected truth and ask the Holy Spirit to forgive us and assist in repairing our desires that have been exposed by the perfected truth of our heavenly Father's original instructions on procreation. Selah!!!

Annie March 9, 2009 at 10:57 PM  
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