A few comments on these points. It is fairly easy in Louisiana to simply remain ignorant of the facts, such as those pointed out on this StandFirm thread, which lists out the heresies in which the Episcopal Church engages. Moreover, I’ve had dialogues with the leadership of the Episcopal Church at its highest levels, and, indeed, count many of them as friends. That still does not change the fact that, as nice as many of these folks are, they are preaching a false gospel. Jesus is not the Way, the Truth, and the Life for these folks, but a possible path among many paths to God, the Bible is just a book written by a bunch of folks who encountered God a long time ago, and a Marxist view is becoming prevalent that man is perfectible if we could just create the right environment and get rid of institutional sin, rather than recognizing we are all sinners in need of repentance.
To top it all off, this false gospel has a severe lack of humility and even pours contempt on Christians of any other stripe for being ignorant and bigoted, rather than recognizing Christians from other denominations as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
But, on to Fr. Ritter’s letter to the editor. He writes:
“To wit, the Episcopal Church does not deny the Resurrection or Deity of Jesus Christ. The article could seem to suggest otherwise. Belief in the Resurrection and the Divinity of Christ are the bedrock of the Episcopal faith. ”
I guess the guy doesn’t read Spong. Or realize the Fr. Guido Verbeck’s resolution on the divinity of Christ was “discharged” by GC2006 or the B033 didn’t pass in 2003.
“The Anglican bishop featured in the article did not have (or seek) permission from the local Anglican bishop as is required to even be present on official church business. His presence violates protocols among Anglican dioceses and bishops, and violates the Windsor agreement in which bishops were asked not to do what this bishop did in visiting this congregation.”
Ah, the Windsor Agreement. That bit where TEC was to stop public same sex blessings.
“On the contrary, the Episcopal Church affirms its faith in the Resurrection and the Deity of Christ, is growing in many areas and is doing much good ministry among the faithful.”
No, it doesn’t affirm its faith at all, it isn’t growing anywhere statistically, and good ministry is giving less than 1% of our money to help the poor. This guy needs to attend a General Convention and get a feel for where things are. In fairness to him, the Diocese of Louisiana is all those things he describes. But, nationally, he is way off target.
Now, Fr. Ritter’s letter makes in seem that it was the African Bishop denigrating the Episcopal Church. Here is what the Bishop said according to the article:
““Ten years ago, there began a debate about the authority of the word of God,” Bilindabagabo said as he clutched a worn Bible. “What is happening is heresy! In Rwanda we decided we would be grounded by the word of God.”
“Those who are denying the word of God are denying being Anglican,” Bilindabagabo said. “There are faithful Anglicans, and then you have some renegades.”
“They are using their wealth to destroy themselves,” Bilindabagabo said. “They will become lifeless, dying clubs they call the Episcopal Church. The church of Jesus Christ is not a club. If a church decides it is going to live in sin, sin will eat it up. Don’t be surprised if we start seeing the churches close one by one.”
That’s hardly a major denigration of the Episcopal Church or a misrepresentation of its teaching. Pretty light, really. So what is Ritter really mad about? Well, it is the laypeople who talked about how heretical the Episcopal Church is.
Perhaps what really got Fr. Ritter’s goat was the fact that one couple interviewed left his parish, Trinity. Here is what they said:
Alfred “Neale” Gordon Sr., and his wife Cynthia, both lifelong Episcopalians, served as the choir. For 50 years they had attended Trinity Episcopal, where they were married, and where their five children were baptized and married.
“It was pretty tough, especially leaving Trinity,” Neale Gordon said. “We didn’t leave because of the gay priest (issue), but that was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back. When they have some bishops not believing in the Resurrection or the Virgin Mary, we decided to part company at that point.”
“We could no longer stand with our church,” Cynthia Gordon added. “We moved to St. Margaret’s, but it soon became obvious that it wasn’t enough. When there are bishops who do not accept the Resurrection, I knew they were headed the wrong direction.”
Their son, Neale Gordon Jr., who read one of the Bible lessons, said it saddened him that the American church has drifted from sound theology.
“I don’t believe what they did and I agree with what we did,” Gordon Jr. said. “That was the reason why we didn’t stay with them.”
The truly harsh critiques in the original article came from laypeople, not the Bishop. Consider that this couple had attended the Episcopal Church for 50 years, well, I think they are qualified to state what the Episcopal Church teaches. The reporter didn’t need to consult with Bishop Jenkins. What does Ritter really want? To keep the truth out of the paper so things can go along hunky dory at Trinity despite what the national church is doing, and perhaps despite what he himself believes.
But, Fr. Ritter is a deputy to GC2009. Maybe he’ll get an understanding of what is going on. Then again, maybe he won’t and he’ll find there exactly what he wants.