Roll the Jefferts Schori tape, again

schoriseatsChanging times are threatening for people who are directly affected by the changes. Thus, more than a few journalists are afraid of the World Wide Web and the digital era — with good reason. I mean, the entire news industry is shaking in its boots waiting for somebody, somewhere to create a form of digital advertising more winsome than the pop-up ad. Please.

However, one of the best things about the emerging world of “multi-platform journalism” is that it allows journalists to use, well, more than one “platform” or media form.

So it’s a tight news day and your story can only run 400 words. Perhaps your editor will let you run the full, uncut text of your article online (more from young master Daniel Pulliam on that subject in a few hours). Or perhaps the brilliant leader of the Episcopal Church insists that her complex, nuanced theology must be represented in a form in which readers can read each and every word that she says, so that she will not get in trouble when her critics are handed a blunt quote in a shallow forum such as The New York Times?

Remember the blunt quote in question, when the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori said the following?

Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children. . . . We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.

I predict that this was the quote that loomed over the advance team during the presiding bishop’s recent visit to Arkansas to preside over the consecration of the new bishop of that state.

(Time out: If a female bishop consecrates a male as a bishop, does that mean that the male she consecrated is really not a valid bishop in the eyes of the millions of Anglicans around the world who do not accept the validity of the ordination of women? Or did the Episcopal Church make sure that there were enough male bishops involved in the Arkansas rite so that this objection could not be raised? Or did Jefferts Schori “preside” instead of “consecrate”? Just asking. It could be an interesting news story.)

However, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette did a good thing during the Jefferts Schori visit. They had her sit down, with a recorder running, and had her grace answer all kinds of questions from religion reporter Laura Lynn Brown. Then, religion writer Frank Lockwood — i.e. The Bible Belt Blogger — ran the transcript online. Three cheers for more information!

Click here to read the interview. Also, I think it’s good to note that the section of the interview that is getting the most attention online has nothing to do birth rates or with news reports about sexuality, in general. It has to do with another very controversial topic in the global Anglican wars — salvation and the nature of Jesus.

ADG: I want to ask you about a couple of other things you’ve said in interviews. One of those was in the 10 questions in TIME magazine about the small box that people put God in. Could you elaborate a little bit on your take on “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life” [a paraphrase of John 14:16]?

KJS: I certainly don’t disagree with that statement that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. But the way it’s used is as a truth serum, or a touchstone: If you cannot repeat this statement, then you’re not a faithful Christian or person of faith. I think Jesus as way — that’s certainly what it means to be on a spiritual journey. It means to be in search of relationship with God. We understand Jesus as truth in the sense of being the wholeness of human expression. What does it mean to be wholly and fully and completely a human being? Jesus as life, again, an example of abundant life. We understand him as bringer of abundant life but also as exemplar. What does it mean to be both fully human and fully divine? Here we have the evidence in human form. So I’m impatient with the narrow understanding, but certainly welcoming of the broader understanding.

ADG: What about the rest of that statement –

KJS: The small box?

ADG: Well, the rest of the verse, that no one comes to the Father except by the son.

KJS: Again in its narrow construction, it tends to eliminate other possibilities. In its broader construction, yes, human beings come to relationship with God largely through their experience of holiness in other human beings. Through seeing God at work in other people’s lives. In that sense, yes, I will affirm that statement. But not in the narrow sense, that people can only come to relationship with God through consciously believing in Jesus.

Well, that will certainly give the Anglican archbishops something to discuss during their meetings in Africa. I mean, something to talk about other than sexuality.

Again, three cheers for transcripts. Let’s hope that journalists get to post more interviews of this type in this multi-platform age.

CORRECTION: I need to offer a bit of an apology, after receiving an email from the Bible Belt Blogger himself. Lockwood wrote:

Thanks for posting excerpts from the presiding bishop interview. However, I’m not the one who deserves credit on this. Although I’ve got it on my blog, the interview was actually conducted by Laura Lynn Brown, the Democrat-Gazette‘s Little Rock religion reporter. (I recently became religion editor here.)

It sounds like this is one newspaper that is building a solid religion-beat team. May its tribe (can newspapers have tribes?) increase.

And all the people said: “Amen.”

Photo: Jefferts Schori speaks in Pine Bluff, Ark.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Paul Barnes

    She makes it very, very hard not to comment on her theology. Lets just say I react with frustration and head-smacking when I read that quote.

    However, it is nice that these interviews are taking place. What I find interesting is that even when she talks, she is still fuzzy about what she means. For example, I still do not know what it means to “accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour” and I do not know what it means “It means to be in search of relationship with God. We understand Jesus as truth in the sense of being the wholeness of human expression.”

    Both seem to require a certain gnostic understanding of the Christian message. What is this relationship thou speakest of KJS?

  • evagrius

    Could you explain “gnostic”? This is getting to be a very trendy term but it’s as accurate as discussing the weather for next year.

  • Maureen

    Why does she talk _around_ stuff so much? Why doesn’t she just grit her teeth and say, “Yes, I believe that Jesus is God and Man. Yes, I believe that there is an afterlife, and it’s like this.” She could even say that was just her personal understanding, if she liked.

    The less direct a public figure is, the more the public will figure she’s dishonest or shilly-shallying. She’s being her own worst enemy here!

  • Martha

    I tremble lest I give grounds for any to think that once more I am bashing the Presiding Bishop (honestly, it’s not animus against her, since I’m not even Episcopalian – it’s just she makes it so easy) but I was amused by her ‘let me explain how I was misquoted’ bit in the article.

    Chopped to pieces quote that totally messed up the nuance of what she was saying: “Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children. . . . We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.”

    Fully explained quote that clears up any unfortunate misunderstandings: “Well, Episcopalians reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations for several reasons. There are clear connections between [reproductive] rates and educational level. It’s an inverse connection, as average education level goes up that group of people tends to reproduce at lower rates, and that’s certainly true in the Episcopal Church. It’s true of other mainline denominations as well. You don’t have a theological reason to reproduce at higher rates, unlike some other denominations and faith traditions. That’s the piece of complexity that got left out.”

    Uh – maybe it’s because I’m one of those dumb as a stump Romans, but that’s still sounding to me like “The better educated you are, the fewer children you have. And that’s to do with theology, too.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but that does lend itself to the conclusion being drawn that better educated is equivalent to smarter, and that smarter people’s church(es) don’t do theology because… well, because they’re smarter than that.

    She is still thinking like a scientist, not a theologian, and certainly not like the spiritual leader of a church. “The study has been done according to the approved methodology, the data has been processed, the inverse square law applies – what is everyone getting so hot under the collar about?” Er – because she insists on linking better educated/fewer children/theological applications.

    It probably is true that better educated people have fewer children – I don’t care a straw about that. What the problem is, is that she then keeps dragging in theology – and when the Big Cheese of your church starts dissing theology as something only the rubes in those little cults over there take seriously, then you’ve got a problem.

    I’d love to see a concrete example of her theological thought. Trouble is, I suspect the fuzziness is as concrete as she gets. Maureen, I hate to say it, but I’m betting the reason she doesn’t come out and say “I believe”, even through gritted teeth, is that she doesn’t.

  • Michael

    The less direct a public figure is, the more the public will figure she’s dishonest or shilly-shallying. She’s being her own worst enemy here!

    Well, she’s not Orthodox or Fundamentalist. Her belief is abstract and can’t be explained in simple, black-letter language. It’s the language that millions of mainstream, mainline protestants and other Christians speak. It’s a language that is attractive to the unchurched who are turned off by fundamentalism, Evangelicalism, and Orthodoxy. Arguably, it is language familiar to most First World Anglicans.

    Schori isn’t naive and is surrounded by smart people. There aren’t many religious figures willing to tolerate–or risk–being quizzed by journalists who then plan (I assume the transcript on the blog was prearranged) to post the entire transcript.

    Imagine what a similar transcript would look like of the leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, the head of the U.S. Catholic Council of Bishops, or the head of the National Association of Evangelicals. I dare someone to put them through a similar type of interview and see if they consent. I’m betting they wouldn’t.

  • Martha

    Let me clariy a little on that last: I’m not saying Bishop Jefferts Schori is not a believer in God or even Jesus Christ. I’m saying that her ‘well, there are many roads, and Christianity is just one way amongst others, and I certainly am not going to say it’s better than any other’ newspaper remarks, even if she softpedals it as ‘speaking to the unchurched’ is indicative of her mindset. Jesus was a great teacher, a human who was uniquely conscious of God, who can help us become more fully human – but that’s it. Any sincere spiritual belief will do as much for you. We’re not about sin and redemption, but helping you realise your full humanity. The role of the church is not to save your soul but to bring about heaven on earth, and the tools to do that are the Millenium Development Goals. God is a big concept and we have to discard the outworn definitions of yesterday, though we cherish the richness of tradition. Jesus is not *the* Way, he is Way.

    Perfectly nice, sincere, decent person – but a bishop? A head of a church?

  • Martha

    Michael, you think being asked “In your faith tradition, the bare minimum of membership requires acknowledgement that X is X. Do you acknowledge this?” constitutes being quizzed?

  • Michael

    I think Schori has opened herself up to press scrutiny and many reporters are taking the opportunity to play gotcha and see how she will answer a question. Nothing wrong with that, because that’s what reporters do.

    Again, I can’t imagine many other religious leaders who would be willing to allow this level of questioning and scrutiny. There are few examples of religious leaders going to the mainstream press and talking this openly about their beliefs.

  • Stephen A.

    “it tends to eliminate other possibilities.” Well, yeah.

    I’m delighted she is talking about her faith publicly, and that reporters are getting her on the record. I’m sure conservative, Fundamentalist Christians, and those Christian Anglicans in the US who oppose her views, are delighted, too.

  • Todd J.

    In seminary, they talked about “context” – historic, literary, cultural, etc. If this passage were an isolated passage, her Theology could work. But the conservative interpretation on this is in line with the whole “jealous God” mentioned in the Old Testament, and “narrow gate” mentioned and discussed in the New Testament. There’s Theology, and there’s rationalization. Her proposition, albeit easy to swallow, smacks of rationalization.

  • Todd

    Again, I can’t imagine many other religious leaders who would be willing to allow this level of questioning and scrutiny. There are few examples of religious leaders going to the mainstream press and talking this openly about their beliefs.

    I am curious to know if there if there are any known examples of conservative religious Christian leaders being asked to talk about their beliefs and then refusing to do so. For example, Rick Warren has written a few books on the subject, as well as the Grahams. And, I believe that the Popes talk about these things every once in a while. :-)

  • evagrius

    I don’t think a press interview is the correct forum for discussing any doctrinal points to any great depth.
    Reducing doctrine to nice sound bites is a good approach for some but it doesn’t quite cut it for discussing religion.
    She’s not the only one to suffer from the tendency by media to reduce statements to sound bites.

  • Paul Barnes

    To explain the term gnostic here. It seems that there is a tendency to equate spirituality (and perhaps even Christianity, at least in this case) with having a special knowledge, whether its “knowing Jesus” (whatever that means) or the bishops “broader understanding” of Jesus. Both seem equally exclusive to me.

    What she seems to do especially, and liberals generally, is equate education with spiritual maturity. I do not think that this is the case. For example, I am envious of Dog the Bounty Hunter, because I believe that he is a much, much better Christian than I am (or will be) but I am better educated than him.

  • http://jonswerens.blogspot.com Jon Swerens

    I don’t think a press interview is the correct forum for discussing any doctrinal points to any great depth. Reducing doctrine to nice sound bites is a good approach for some but it doesn’t quite cut it for discussing religion.

    As a journalist, I find this boggling. When is it a virtue for a specialist in any field to not be able to explain himself to intelligent people outside his field?

    Religion is no different from any other enterprise. If you can’t explain yourself in easy-to-understand terms, it’s doesn’t automatically mean everyone else is stupid. Instead, it’s quite possible that you are either obscuring your point on purpose or not grasping the topic very well yourself.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Somehow, in spite of all the education, and doctrinal formulas that can produce a nuanced believer who can masterfully say–”On one hand—then of course there is the other hand”–I don’t think this is even close–by a long moonshot–to The Faith the first 300 years of Christian martyrs died for. In fact who today would give their life for the wishy-washy, lukewarm Modernist version of Christianity the lady bishop promotes with limp verbiage and proper incense burning to today’s diversity gods.
    More can be learned from watching an elderly woman counting her beads while kneeling before her Lord in the Blessed Sacrament after her having lit a vigil candle as a symbol of the light of her Faith shattering the darkness.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    I tend to prefer learning about doctrinal nuances that don’t lend themselves to 14-word sound bites.

    And the internet is giving newspapers opportunities to post full transcripts online. I like this for a number of reasons. One is that, as I mentioned, some doctrinal points aren’t expressed best in brevity.

    The other reason is that I like to see what specific question elicited the response. It holds reporters accountable to finding and asking good questions, listening to their subjects and responding well. I like that.

  • Pen Brynisa

    re: I’m saying that her ‘well, there are many roads, and Christianity is just one way amongst others, and I certainly am not going to say it’s better than any other’ newspaper remarks, even if she softpedals it as ‘speaking to the unchurched’ is indicative of her mindset. Jesus was a great teacher, a human who was uniquely conscious of God, who can help us become more fully human – but that’s it.

    I don’t think that’s what she’s trying to say (although I can’t blame you for getting lost in this tangle of words). She did say “What does it mean to be both fully human and fully divine? Here we have the evidence in human form”, which is a fairly orthodox Christian understanding of Jesus Christ.

  • evagrius

    “What does it mean to be both fully human and fully divine? Here we have the evidence in human form”, which is a fairly orthodox Christian understanding of Jesus Christ.”

    If anyone thinks that this question is fully settled they haven’t confronted their faith.

  • evagrius

    “To explain the term gnostic here. It seems that there is a tendency to equate spirituality (and perhaps even Christianity, at least in this case) with having a special knowledge, whether its “knowing Jesus” (whatever that means) or the bishops “broader understanding” of Jesus. Both seem equally exclusive to me.”

    That’s one definition. Perhaps you should Iraneaus or Clement on what “true gnosticism” is.

  • evagrius

    “Somehow, in spite of all the education, and doctrinal formulas that can produce a nuanced believer who can masterfully say—“On one hand—-then of course there is the other hand”—I don’t think this is even close—by a long moonshot—to The Faith the first 300 years of Christian martyrs died for. In fact who today would give their life for the wishy-washy, lukewarm Modernist version of Christianity the lady bishop promotes with limp verbiage and proper incense burning to today’s diversity gods.”

    Then you should read the Fathers of the Church, especially the Apostolic Fathers and then Origen, the founder of “systematic” theology.
    Before doing that, read the prologue to the Gospel of John. The term Logos is rather nuanced.

  • http://www.accidentalanglican.net Deborah

    Uh – maybe it’s because I’m one of those dumb as a stump Romans, but that’s still sounding to me like “The better educated you are, the fewer children you have.”

    Loathe as I am to defend KJS, what I read in the longer version is “there is a socio-economic factor at work in our denomination that is not canceled out by a theological one as is true with Roman Catholics, and that socio-economic factor alone is responsible for lower birth rates.” In other words, given the same educational attainment between an Episcopalian couple and a Roman Catholic could, the Catholics will tend to reproduce more because their theology and practice will override the socio-economic factor that would otherwise control. (And, yes, it does sound more like a scientist than a theologian.)

    On another note, I did have to chuckle at the way this exchange worked:

    ADG: What about the rest of that statement —

    KJS: The small box?

    ADG: Well, the rest of the verse, that no one comes to the Father except by the son.

    Yep, that whole “no one comes to the Father but by me” is a pretty small box. Actually, it’s a narrow gate and not the “wide road,” according to Jesus Himself.

  • Dan

    “There aren’t many religious figures willing to tolerate—or risk—being quizzed by journalists who then plan (I assume the transcript on the blog was prearranged) to post the entire transcript.”

    “Again, I can’t imagine many other religious leaders who would be willing to allow this level of questioning and scrutiny. There are few examples of religious leaders going to the mainstream press and talking this openly about their beliefs.”

    Pope Benedict while still a Cardinal did precisely this and much more. He was quizzed, without access to written materials or aides, at length on a wide variety of subjects by a mainstream German journalist. The questioning was far more intensive then that put to Bishop Shori. The results of the Ratzinger interviews (which are fascinating) are published in two volumes: “The Salt of the Earth” and “God and the World.” (I believe “The Ratzinger Report” is also an in depth interview, but I haven’t read it.)

  • http://carelesshand.net Jinzang

    The problem is, most Christians don’t believe extra ecclesiam nulla salus. If Rev. Schori’s answer was “nuanced,” it was probably to avoid alienating a good portion of her congregation.

  • evagrius

    ” extra ecclesiam nulla salus”

    Just a little “nuance” here;

    “Dominus Iesus then adds that “for those who are not formally and visibly members of the Church, salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit; it has a relationship with the Church, which, according to the plan of the Father, has her origin in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    The trouble with the use of the word nuance is that, in spite of its dictionary definition, it is a word that has come to be very frequently used today as a defense of scholars and others who are really in the business of deconstructing “untrendy” Christian doctrines not merely looking at a doctrine from a slightly different, but orthodox, angle. Far too often nowadays when someone is described as having presented a doctrinal “nuance” a fair and close examination of the presentation will conclude that the doctrine discussed was being “dissed” not “nuanced,” and that the use of the word nuance is mere camouflage.

  • Scott Allen

    Michael asks us to “Imagine what a similar transcript would look like of the leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, the head of the U.S. Catholic Council of Bishops, or the head of the National Association of Evangelicals?” Well, the main point of TMATT’s post was that publication of a full transcript is a new thing. If you read this Blog, or ChristianityToday.com, you will find that the heads of the Southern Baptist Convention, Bishops, NAE, etc. often grant interviews to journalists. Jefferts-Schori is NOT doing anything novel, it is the Arkansas journalist who is doing something new. Hopefully OTHER JOURNALISTS will take the time to publish these transcripts. It is just plain silly when Michael states “I dare someone to put them through a similar type of interview and see if they consent. I’m betting they wouldn’t.” It bears repeating that church leaders routinely grant interviews but have NO CONTROL over exactly what, and how much, of what they say is published.

  • evagrius

    Christianity has been under attack since its origin.
    Read Origen’s Contra Celsum for an early version of what many think is the latest in attacking Christianity.
    You’ll see that Origen can “out-nuance” the attack quite well using logic to destroy “logic”.
    You might also want to look at the controversy with Eunomius. Gregory of Nyssa handled that quite well, with a lot of nuance.

  • http://jivanta-dharmashaiva.blogspot.com/ NewTrollObserver

    Of course, Origen himself was declared a heretic by Jerome. No one is a non-heretic in this business, and all of us are short of breath.

  • http://god-of-small-things.blogspot.com Bob Smietana

    Terry,

    Could you comment on the significance of the “better educated–fewer kids” quote from Bishop Jefferts Schori to the New York Times? Is it merely a case of impolite speech–that she relayed a demographic trend in a poorly worded way? Or is it a clue to how she sees the Episcopal church’s present condition–that child birth rates, and not other factors–have caused the church decline? If it’s the latter, what followup questions should reporters be asking?

    Episcopalians aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?

    No. It’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    BOB:

    GetReligion looked at the coverage of that mini-media storm.

    See: http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2063

  • Laura

    About Schori’s willingness to sit for interviews like this one: she sees it as part of her evangelistic work. She says as much in a column in the January edition of the monthly Episcopal newspaper, Episcopal Life. Here’s part of it, followed by a link to the full text.

    “I have had the remarkable gift and opportunity in recent months to speak to people who don’t know much at all about the Episcopal Church or Christianity. Those opportunities have come through the secular media. Those interviews intentionally have avoided the language of Christian insiders … The unfortunate result in some places has been anger when Episcopalians don’t recognize their own familiar language. Let me suggest a challenging exercise: How would you tell the great truths of our faith without using overtly theological language? How would you tell a new neighbor that God loves him or her without measure, and invite him or her to learn more? If we are going to hear that person’s story with grace, we have to leave the door open for a while.”

  • Laura
  • http://god-of-small-things.blogspot.com Bob Smietana

    Terry,

    Thanks–I wasn’t talking so much about the media storm but about the significance of her comments. As a religion beat vet, what do you think are the implications of the comments?

    Let’s say that either:

    1) Episcipocal membership decline is a due mainly to low birth rates, or
    2) the Presiding Bishop believes that the Episcipocal membership decline is a due mainly to low birth rates

    What does that for how religion reporters cover other ECUSA stories?

  • Martha

    You’re right, Deborah, and I should give her the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say it’s just clumsiness in getting the message across, in that she’s still stuck in the scientific mindset and forgets us mere mortals need translation ;-)

    But surely she has some kind of media advisors who could hammer out a rote response? Michael, the reason she gets quizzed about her religious beliefs is that she laid herself wide open. The whole sounding like she’s called RCs and Mormons (in particular!) less smart, less educated, big family producers was a gift of the gods to reporters and they’re going to keep on after it because it gets a response. That being the case, her PR team should sit her down and get her to trot out the party line. She may not like to do it, but it’ll save her bacon later on and keep her sounding like the head of a Christian church and not the C.E.O. of an NGO.

  • Michael

    That being the case, her PR team should sit her down and get her to trot out the party line.

    But that’s just it. She is trotting out the party line. She speaks in language familiar to millions of Mainline Protestants and in language that is attractive to many of the unchurched.

    The minute she starts sounding like a fundamentalist, or an orthodox, she is in big trouble because that’s not what her faith or arguably Anglicanism is about (especially in the First World). There are plenty of churches where one can hear “Jesus is the truth and the light and everyone else is doomed to hell.” But that’s not 21st Century mainstream Protestantism.

  • http://www.accidentalanglican.net Deborah

    Martha – I agree – KJS talks more like a statistician than a theologian. She doesn’t glow with winsomeness and conviction like other Anglicans I could name. I’d agree that surely some PR person could work with her on this, but her demeanor is such a fundamental temperament (and theology) issue that I suspect it’ll come up again, and again, and again … in spite of even the most expert assistance.

  • Kevin P. Edgecomb

    Michael, the antonym to “orthodox” is “heterodox.” I realize in Episcopalian circles “orthodox” has become somewhat of a dirty word among the progressives, as has, Lord have mercy, “African,” but think of how using the word in a derogatory sense sounds to those who are actually intelligent readers familiar with religious vocabulary.

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  • Michael

    Actually, “heterodox” is inaccurate since the is no “official” Anglican position on such things. While the “orthodox” Anglican position may see the rightness of their position, it is not necessarily the “orthodox Anglican” position.

  • Kevin P. Edgecomb

    Michael, I was talking about the English language here, not any particular subset of usage in any given subculture. The antonym for “orthodox” is “heterodox” in English. For you or anyone else to use “orthodox” as the description of your opponents, an educated English reader/hearer is going to immediately pick up on the connotation that your side is the “heterodox,” regardless of your difficult to believe claim that Anglicanism has no “official” positions. Like any number of other Protestant groups, there was a flurry of positions statements created at the beginning of your tradition, and those are most certainly official. Whether you consider them binding anymore is a separate issue. Regardless, the language works against you when you attempt to use “orthodox” derogatorily. You can’t change that.

  • Michael

    Regardless, the language works against you when you attempt to use “orthodox” derogatorily.

    If I was going to use the term derogatorily, I would have used “fundamentalist.” :)

    I understand your basic point about “orthodox” and “heterodox,” but I also believe at some point its also easier to use labels that are part of the cultural understanding.

    Anglicans who call themselves “orthodox,” use the term with pride. No Episcopalians (or Angilcans) use the term “heterodox,” at least from what I am aware. Therefore labeling a group of people “orthodox” is not using it derogatorily, especially since they’ve chosen it themselves.

    That you perceive it as having negative connotations doesn’t mean its a poor word choice.

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  • Kevin P. Edgecomb

    Michael, you did equate the two, derogatorily:

    The minute she starts sounding like a fundamentalist, or an orthodox, she is in big trouble because that’s not what her faith or arguably Anglicanism is about (especially in the First World).

    And when you say “I also believe at some point its also easier to use labels that are part of the cultural understanding,” you need to keep in mind that your “cultural understanding” of the usage of “orthodox” is quite a small one, among the Episcopalians/Anglicans, as opposed to the wider cultural/lexical usage common to the rest of the English-speaking world. In the blockquote above, you clearly equate fundamentalists and orthodox together in opposition to Anglicanism in general, and particularly its First World manifestation. The jarring, and unintentionally humorous, implication to the reader who doesn’t particularly give a fig about contemporary Anglicanism’s press releases and insider vocabulary is that First World Anglicanism is heterodox, or at the very least unorthodox. With such an equation and usage, you unintentionally grant your opponents’ point, that First World Anglicanism is most definitely heterodox or unorthodox. Whether your insider vocabulary recognizes such distinctions or not is irrelevant, for that is what people will perceive.

  • Scott Allen

    Michael notes that Jefferts Schori “speaks in language familiar to millions of Mainline Protestants and in language that is attractive to many of the unchurched.”
    It sure is attractive. It’s a message that you can hear by subscribing to TIME magazine. Coincidentally, it saves you time and money to just read the magazine, and you get to sleep in on Sundays and get rested to watch the ball game.

    Further, what Jefferts Schori teaches is not “mainstream Protestantism.” It’s not taught in the Bible (the central document of any christian church), it’s not popular (in terms of church attendance), it is only “mainstream” in regard to the latest notions pushed by “progressive” political interest groups. If her church continues its current trend, by the end of the 21st Century the only practitioners will be in retirement homes.

    Orthodox, heterodox, whatever. It’s a dead dox.

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  • http://pos51.org Elmo

    You know what my biggest problem with “21st Century Mainstream Protestantism” is? It’s title. I mean, it’s barely an allusion to Christianity. Shouldn’t the millions of mainliners, evangelicals, and everyone else be more worried about advancing the Gospel than using language that defines contemporary mainstream protestantism or postmodern emergent spirituality?

    And Michael, just for the record, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light, and everyone who chooses not to follow him is doomed to Hell. There’s not much (and by not much, I mean nothing) you can do about this being stated. Because it’s what he taught. I’m sure you’re familiar with John 3:16, why don’t you check out v. 18.

    There are nicer, and better, and more complete ways to say this, but if you want one angle on the bare truth, this is it. You could also say that everyone who chooses to follow him is saved from hell. But you can’t take this away.

    The other big problem with this mainline protestantism that you speak of, is that it seems more interested in political and social “progress” than in holding to the Word of God. I say that, because when the Word and progress butt heads, they usually side with progress. Bp. Schori is a perfect example. She uses extra-Biblical arguments to circumvent its teachings, and comes to the “tolerance” position.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    ELMO:

    Back to the news coverage of this topic, please. Try to avoid to personal arguments about doctrine with other readers.

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