By Diogenes (articles ) | Nov 29, 2004
Smarting over the refusal of believing Anglicans to rejoice in the predictably vacuous Windsor Report, Dr. Rowan Williams lashes out at the people who saw through the imposture:
The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a rebuke to conservatives in the worldwide Anglican Communion for the hostility of their language towards homosexuals in the recent row over gay bishops reports the Sunday Times.
The 3½-page missive, sent out on Friday night, warns of serious consequences if Anglicans do not heal their rift, and comes after the Archbishop's Commission on Communion published the Windsor report, which called on both sides to express regret for the consequences of their actions during disputes over homosexuality in the church.
The usual gambit. Conservatives get upset at apostasies, so you give them a bag of Tootsie-Pops and say, "Here, suck on this!" If they protest that they're less interested in candy than Christian doctrine, you condemn them for being mean-spirited.
Upon the publication of the Windsor report, the Archbishop warned about a "rush to judgement". In the latest letter Williams warns that ill-judged words can lead to suicide or even murder. He cites the homophobic killing last month of David Morley in London. "Any words that could make it easier for someone to attack or abuse a homosexual person are words of which we must repent," he writes.
Classic ecclesiastical cowardice in action. You know you're at fault for failing to defend Church doctrine, so you project your discomfort on your critics, blaming them for their reluctance to share your mendacious compromise by accusing them of inflexibility (or even, as here, of hatred).
Even veteran liberals must see that, in terms of churchmanship, this is insane. It amounts to requiring your brethren-in-faith to sit down under any future apostasy. None of us knows what novelty may be dreamt up tomorrow by demented scholars or clergymen. If apostates are permitted to institutionalize their innovations on their own say-so -- knowing that the worst that can happen is a rebuke for not going through channels -- and if their opponents must suspend judgment until the clerical-academic bureaucracy has finished its lengthy and languorous study of the issue, then doctrine has effectively ceased to exist. The association (it can no longer be called a "church") that remains is held together by bonds of frigid courtesy, like a separated couple at their daughter's wedding. As Prof. James Hitchcock perceptively noted, the idea that you can sacrifice "inessential" teachings the way storm-tossed sailors jettison inessential cargo is lethally flawed: declare dispensable any one particular doctrine, and all the others become provisional.
For over a century liberal Protestantism has steadily surrendered Christian positions deemed incredible by a particular historical age, the better to protect the core of the faith. But in each generation more such surrenders are demanded, until there is finally nothing left, and surrender itself becomes the chief expectation which liberals must meet.
In the current dispensation, the faithful -- those who actually believe the doctrine -- can only lose. They can lose painlessly and quickly, by keeping mum about deviations, or slowly and unpleasantly, by raising a fuss and dragging out the process of compromise. But in the end the church will always be tilted more toward the side of the innovators, and to object to the slant is to confess oneself divisive.
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Nov. 29, 2004 1:25 PM ET USA
As the Titanic started to turn over and sink, Dr. W. and his supporters could be heard loudly chastising their opponents for contributing to an "atmosphere of hate". What the Dr. didn't know was that most of the women and children in the lifeboats were members of his opponents' families. And Dr. W and his supporters were the last of their kind--and so ended a tradition that started in the early 16th Century. RIP.