Dude, Stop Harshing GC2006
GC2006 was the first I seriously paid attention to--and I was shocked at the deep and strong support among the representatives in our House of Deputies for the actions of GC2003. I had no idea; this is very encouraging.
Their conviction in the face of strong threats and pressure to the contrary implies alot of Episcopalians are taking the implications of their sacramental lives, constituted by the baptismal covenant and the eucharist, seriously. They conceive support for the acts of GC2003 as part of the Church's ministry of reconciliation, and they are willing, as those bearing prophetic witness should, to face the relevant crucifixion: the vitriol of the so-called orthodox, expulsion from the Anglican Communion, marginalization among the majority of Christians. The GC was ugly at times--shoddy arguments, puzzling logic-chopping, odd voting alignments, walk-outs and more, but these accidents, when have they not accompanied the church, that corpus permixtum? More important is the evidence among so many deputies (God save the bishops) that they take their covenant with the appropriate gravity; what is essential to the church being the church is there in force.
Yes, yes, they were impressed by Griswold's last-minute maneuvers to get B-033 passed. But they were impressed by persons, mind you: the persons of of our PB and PB-elect with their backs against the wall appealing for B-033 at the last possible minute, persons whom the deputies must have regarded as trustworthy out of Christian fellowship. We are right to be so moved by persons, for in that moment of appeal we may be moved by the shadow of the face of Christ in the other, even if that other is saying something wrong or half-baked.
That disposition to regard personal relation is at the core of the formation Episcopal liturgy attempts to carry through; it was evident at GC2006 in the HoD, but it was evident also in the actions of GC2003. Most deputies are not systematic theologians, I venture to say, but they are impressed at their experience of homosexual persons who would come up as candidates for blessing as couples, and that impression is a datum for theology, not an inconvenient item to be repressed or written off.
For at the core of sacramental life's approach to the Father is personal encounter with the Son, and not merely in subjective terms. We learn to see the love of homosexual couples as participation in the life of Christ, as a work of the Spirit in its ministry of reconciliation. That is, here too God surprises: He will be Whom He Will Be, whatever the vast dead weight of human tradition suggests.
So do not fault GC2006; they did quite a good job all things considered, and even gave Abp. Williams an opportunity to do the right thing with the generous passage of B-033; let us hope he makes good and fruitful use of it. It is not necessary that the Anglican Communion break up; if Williams wants, the covenant process can go forward.
Even to those on the right prepared to respond with "But they are devoted to the wrong covenant! This is the wrong notion of reconciliation!" the devotion of the deputies should be notable--there is a strong desire here to follow the lead of Christ, as they perceive it, come what may.
What we may need as a church is to refocus on evangelism; we have these strong faith convictions, and are willing to suffer for them, Let us raise our voices! And that will require renewal in biblical theology. I am almost certain much more can be done in adult formation among ECUSA's parishes to study the Bible using, say, Kerygma or EfM or Leader Resources or.... Whatever you choose, we must not leave our brothers and sisters in Christ defenseless when the wolves come around--be sure that there will be more conservative backlash. But more importantly, with such a laity we have a potentially powerful resource for doing the work of Christ beyond GC2006 in a wider world of violence and exploitation addicted to the excesses of materialistic consumption. The harvest is ready, brothers and sisters.