Alas, more News
It seems these days one can count on so-called orthodox bishops and canons penning pontifications succeeding less as arguments than rude gestures. The latest example of the phenomenon came in Bishop Schofield's reaction (PDF) to a letter from PB Jefferts-Schori:
The Episcopal Church, as an institution, is walking a path of apostasy and those faithful to God’s Word are forced to make painful choices
The comment displays an ignorance of the nature of "apostasy" as traditionally conceived, an ignorance lamentable on account of the moral gravity with which his commentary is properly received. I think he ought to know better than to speak this way in public as an officer of the catholic church.
Agreed, if it were true that the Episcopal Church were in apostasy the faithful would have to make tough choices. But what should he mean by "apostasy", and in that sense or senses, is the Episcopal Church really there?
We are required to keep various distinctions in mind: of course apostasy a fide should be kept straight from from the pair apostasy ab ordine (roughly renouncing one's ordination) and apostasy a religione (roughly renouncing one's vows). But apostasy a fide seems rather inapplicable in the case of the Episcopal Church, as it requires a willing renunciation of the Christain religion, a willing renunciation, not an accidental one but one made deliberately. It would not be apostasy in the relevant sense for TEC to adopt a false doctrine while believing the Christian faith required it. Now TEC in such a case may stand in material heresy, but that is not to be confused with the more serious formal heresy and is insufficient for apostasy. Or, in other words, it is not clear that, speaking of the same church, (1) implies (2) or that either (1) or (2) implies (3):
(1)The church is in material heresy.
(2)The church is in formal heresy.
(3)The church is in apostasy.
As with accusations that TEC is heretical following the acts of GC2003, we see--I believe--a propensity among TEC's high-profile critics to assume the worst without cogent argument. Namely, their pronouncements of heresy and apostasy imply--as astounding as it may seem--they belileve TEC recognizes (say) that an active homosexual man should not be ordained, and does it anyway, or that TEC has knowingly abandoned the Christian religion.
TEC's critics are on thin moral ice here. Their sustained imputation of the worst to TEC--in the face of what seems to me absolutely overwhelimg evidence to the contrary--could be merely innocent ignorance. Maybe, just maybe they really do, incredibly, in their hearts see TEC as proclaiming what it takes to be false or willfully abandoning the Christian religion. In doing so they rule out the possibility that TEC simply made a mistake, or is doing the best it can and has stumbled, or is just being sincere even if in a misguided way--all this conceding for the sake of argument that a theological mistake was made at GC2003, which I think is far from clear.
On the other hand, if these critics are being cynical, if they are not making these inflammatory imputations in innocent ignorance then we are witnessing the exercise not merely of vices contrary to faith, but of vices contrary to charity: Hatred, Discord, Contention, and dare I say Schism. The hardening of any "theological vices" is a matter of grave, even ultimate concern, but vices contrary to charity are are dispostions opposed to the very nature of God, and merit extremely close attention. Not just attention to critics of TEC, as if any mere human could discern what they were really about, but attention to ourselves as friends of TEC who will no doubt be drawn into even greater, more intense unpleasantness over the upcoming attempt at schism.
Whatever develops, the loss of property, even dioceses, and the possible loss of a seat in the Anglican Communion fail to measure up to the cost of developing the vice of hatred in any of its deformations. Let us proceed, so far as we can with God's help, in such a way that our Christian community in whatever form it takes as the rancor fades retains some due measure of charity.