Ho. Lee. Cow.

Wow.  Katherine Jefferts-Shori, muckety muck of the Thing that Used to be Episcopalianism, offers this breathtaking and blind reading of the story of Paul’s exorcism of the slave girl in Acts 16:16-34:

“There are some remarkable examples of that kind of blindness in the readings we heard this morning, and slavery is wrapped up in a lot of it.  Paul is annoyed at the slave girl who keeps pursuing him, telling the world that he and his companions are slaves of God.  She is quite right.  She’s telling the same truth Paul and others claim for themselves,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said, referencing the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans.

“But Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness.  Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it.  It gets him thrown in prison.  That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so!,” the presiding bishop said.

Dear Episcopalians: Save yourselves from this stuff while you still can.

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  • alishadefreitas

    Oh Lord.

  • Joseph

    Whoa… sounds almost like the way Presbyterians implicitly pit St. Paul against St. Peter (and all of the other apostles whose writings are found in the Scriptures) in an effort to make Peter out to be the bumbling fool who could not possibly be chosen by God to be the head of the Twelve.

    But that’s just terrible. Question for the Episcopalian “popess”: Bitter much?

  • Glenn A Bolas

    “So you see, children, the Bible clearly teaches us that you can never trust an employer! This is the lesson of the story of Jacob. Now run along. More lessons tomorrow.”

  • Scott W.

    I’ve been trying to ignore Schori as it is too easy and because I try not to knock the other guy’s merchandise, but this is like discovering a new galaxy of stupid.

  • dabhidh

    She’s got it exactly right! Jealous Paul didn’t want anyone else having any fun! Plus, what’s up with Jesus depriving the Gerasene demoniac of his “spiritual vision?” Can’t those narrow-minded Christians tolerate any spirituality other than their own?

    As for the slave girl, mos def she shared in the nature of God more than that nasty old Paul! If only her writings had not been trampled underfoot by the Patriarchy!

  • Bob_the_other

    That’s just … such … bad … exegesis/eisegesis/I don’t know what. Quite obviously, the point that Luke is trying to make is the parallel with Jesus, who is likewise announced by unclean spirits (Lk 4:33-37. Much more frequently in Mark), and who also responds by expelling the spirit in question. Even apart from all of this, Luke makes the point (and chooses to tell this story among the thousands of other Pauline incidents he probably knew in order to make the point) that Paul sets the woman free from exploitation, i.e. slavery. Is it the slavery which is beautiful and holy?

  • KyPerson

    Christopher Johnson over at themcj.com delivers a stinging slapdown about this. Basically Jefferts-Shori totally overlooks the fact that the girl was possessed. If I had to guess, I would guess Jefferts-Shori doesn’t believe in demonic possession.

    • dabhidh

      I think she is presuming malfeasance on Paul’s part based on two parts of the story:

      1. The girl is following Paul around saying, “These are the servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” This statement would seem to be a true one, so KJ-S can’t see any other reason for Paul’s reaction than jealousy that she’s upstaging him.

      2. The text describes Paul as being “annoyed” with the girl. Since “annoyed” doesn’t seem to be the normal reaction to encountering a demoniac, KJ-S presumes that there was nothing dangerous about the girl’s possession and Paul just put a stop to it because no one gets to be spiritual but him.

      What KJ-S fails to credit is that what the possessed girl is doing is both mocking them and painting a target on them. She also fails to understand that when Paul drove the evil spirit from her, he effectively ceased her being exploited as a freakshow for money for her master. We don’t know if that resulted in her being freed from bondage to her master but at least it freed her from being in bondage to an evil spirit.

      • Bob_the_other

        That article was great.

        Just a little thing. The word for annoyed here is διαπονηθεὶς, which the Vulgate translates as dolens, and the KJV as “being grieved.” While that is perhaps going too far in the other direction, the implication is rather (I think) that Paul was disturbed, or agitated, or troubled, at what was happening, much as he and Barnabas both show themselves to be disturbed at being worshiped in Acts 14.

        I’d be very surprised if her masters had any use for the girl after she had been freed from the demon.

        I couldn’t help thinking “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.”

        • dabhidh

          Ha! Not surprising that the Greek sheds a different light on the text. English translations are great tools for the purposes of the eisegete.

          • wlinden

            Notice how “liberals” continually sneer at Those Stupid Literalists using the King James, while here she relies on the literal use of “annoyed” (in the 21st century sense) in her favored translation.

            • Bob_the_other

              The KJV has a lot going for it. Much like the Vulgate, it was done by people who were intimately familiar with Greek (one of them, I think, produced some of the first modern editions of Chrysostom), and who grew up reading the classics, and who, as adults, read the classics in the original for fun. It does occasionally prefer beauty to accuracy (In part, because being who they were, they were writing for people who could read Greek), and of course, the manuscripts they had very different, and we might have more and better manuscripts and much better ability to compare and contrast a whole lot of different texts, but as a rendering of the Greek, it is certainly authoritative.

  • wlinden

    This sounds like a case for the use of Lazarus Long’s Klein bottle trap. There is a perfectly simple way out, only “He has to be able to READ. He has to be able to read, in his own language, without distorting it.”

  • Jack Quirk

    Maybe someone else needs and exorcism?

  • Matthew Cooper

    Ohhhh dear. Sometimes I am quite ashamed of my Archbishop.

    Didn’t she read the bit where the girl with the fortune-telling demon was being EXPLOITED by her masters? The girl was not harmed by Paul’s actions, but her masters now had no way of using her to get money.

    Thankfully, a lot of us ARE pushing back against this ‘delusional exegesis’.


  • FAB

    False theology from error filled exegesis makes for stupid.

  • Dan Li

    What is this I don’t even…

  • Michaelus

    Schori seems to think that the possessed girl is one of those early Christian priestesses we hear so much about. Or maybe a deaconess.

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    Don’t worry. The Guy on the Radio here was carefully explaining how Christianity went completely wrong with Paul, so nothing he did counts anyway. Sometimes it’s difficult to pray for people because I’m rolling my eyes too hard.

  • Guest

    Ha! I plugged “Katharine Jefferts Schori” into Google, which helpfully suggested that I append heretic as the third option for autocompletion.

  • ivan_the_mad

    A picture is even better. Note Google’s third suggestion to autocomplete my search terms:

  • Someguy

    Don’t be too proud. At least they don’t have Roger Mahony or Bernard Law running around.

    • S. Murphy

      Nor the Borgias nor Medicis… Look, the Devil knows who his enemies are, and attacks them. Make sure your ecclesial community’s clergypersons are on the target list.

      Seriously, though, this trolling bit of snark has a point – one our blog host has touched on. The Church, the Bride of Christ, is indefectable, but that’s not to our credit, but to the Lord’s.

      • JoFro

        The Borgias and the Medicis were conniving political popes but they never sought to redefine theology and church teachings to OK their behaviour – seriously, don’t compare the head of the TEC to those popes

    • Obpoet

      So the head of TEC is equated to the asses of the RCC?

  • George

    From the article:

    “Salvation comes not from being cleansed of our sins by the atoning
    sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, but through the divinization of
    humanity through the work of the human will.”

    At least the pelagianism is explicit these days.

    Also, Bp. Schori is so quick to toss out historical Christian thought and exegesis, yet she still wears a mitre and vestments. It’s quite anachronistic.

  • Robert Carter

    There is nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said in Billy Madison:


  • Charles E Flynn
  • Lone Star

    It’s really too bad for the sake of all the souls that the Presiding Oceanographer is leading astray that the funding for her squid research (her previous “career”) dried up. I “swam the Tiber” in February and am now out of that quagmire, but I worry for the dupes (pew potatoes) to whom she is preaching her heresies.

  • The Deuce

    Honestly, there is no good reason for any orthodox Christian to remain within the Episcopalian Church anymore. It’s completely dead, it’s playing for the other side, and it’s pure poison. The foxes already rule the henhouse. It’s no longer a matter of stopping them. It’s time to just get out.

  • William Mild

    We are not that far behind in the Catholic Church.

    • William Mild

      Oh, she is the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church??? Never mind, I recant. Thank God for Francis, Benedict XVI, and JPII!!

    • chezami

      Actually, we really are. You have to go waaaaaay out to the end of the bell curve, to a parish like St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis, to find this kind of nuttiness. Jefferts-Schoris is *running* that joint.

  • brian_in_brooklyn

    “Jesus says he’s looking for everybody, anyone who’s looking for good news,
    anybody who is thirsty. There are no obstacles or barriers – just come. God is at work everywhere, even if we can’t or won’t see it immediately.” The muckety muck of the Thing that Used to be Episcopalianism. http://goo.gl/rCm8q

    “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! … We
    must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.” The muckety muck of the Thing that Used to be Roman Catholicism http://goo.gl/fUCVC

    • Bob_the_other

      Not the same thing. The objection has never been that she said that everybody has been redeemed by the blood of Christ (as opposed to appropriated the redemption), which after all, is Catholic dogma. I don’t exactly see what is wrong in urging people to “do good” in order that they might come to see God. He is not saying anything about merit, or earning salvation, or being saved by works, or the superfluity of Grace. On the other hand is (a) the piece of spectacularly bad exegesis involved in Jefferts Schori’s homily and (b) the calling of good bad and bad good involved in her labeling the rescue effected by Paul as blindness.

  • brian_in_brooklyn

    Wednesday’s Gospel speaks to us about the disciples who prevented a person from outside their group from doing good. “They complain,” the Pope said in his homily, because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.” The disciples, Pope Francis explains, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of ​​possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” “This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon.”

    Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/05/22/pope_at_mass:_culture_of_encounter_is_the_foundation_of_peace/en1-694445
    of the Vatican Radio website

    Bishop Jefferts-Schori’s exegesis was surprising, but I like to be–need to be– challenged by homilies. What is clear is that she is preaching the same gospel as Bishop Francis of Rome–the Gospel of Jesus Christ.