Shocking Sermon by Presiding Episcopal Bishop

Shocking Sermon by Presiding Episcopal Bishop May 25, 2013

To read it go to:

The shocking part is the fourth paragraph. (There may be other shocking parts, but that’s the portion of the sermon I focus on here.)

Apparently, according to the Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, the Apostle Paul wrongly cast out of a slave girl her “gift of spiritual awareness”–an action that, according to the text (Acts 16) resulted in her owners being deprived of the ability to make money from her “spirit of divination.” We are not told that she was liberated from their use of her, but it would be reasonable to assume it from what the text says.

The Episcopal bishop makes Paul out to be the villain in this story; he “can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it.” All one can do is utter a stunned “Huh?”

But, following up on my immediately preceding post, is this what can happen once one stops believing in Satanic realism? I suspect so.

This sermon strays so far from anything recognizable as orthodox Christianity in so many ways that it makes the head spin. And it displays an amateurish and possibly ideologically-driven handling of a biblical text (by a bishop!).

IF I were a member of the Episcopal Church I would have to speak up against this sermon. As a non-member, my voice has little to no influence, but I hope readers who are members of the EC will become aware of this matter and let their voices be heard.

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  • Jack Harper

    Hello Roger, I read the sermon you posted and was taken back by the sheer UN-hermineutic nature of this bishops acceptance of demonic inspiration that the slave girl was under. It’s as if She(the bishop) forgot that Paul didn’t rebuke the spirit right away, but after a few days, being troubled in his spirit he cast out the demon. I read a lot of the responses and I was pleasantly surprised at the number of EC’s that disagreed with the presiding bishop, seems as if they know she is way off base in her understanding of the scriptures. I found it funny that she felt the need to bring up same sex marriage as a gift from God.

  • LauraC

    I grew up in the Episcopal Church and stayed there until my mid-thirties. I headed for an evangelical church and have attended 3 (1 very briefly) in the twenty years since then. I am still very interested in what goes on in the Episcopal Church and miss things like the liturgy and beautiful organ music. I have even toyed, occasionally, with the idea of returning to it one day. I was discouraged when I heard Bishop Jefferts Schori’s acceptance speech, but when I heard about THIS sermon I became sick to my stomach. I know that there are theologically orthodox people in the Episcopal Church, and I pray that they have the courage to rise up and at least make the world know that her theology does not represent the theology of either the church as a whole, or hopefully, even most of its members.

  • Horrible sermon. Her theology is far from orthodox Christian — and it has been ever thus.

    However, according to historical Episcopal Church polity the position of Presiding Bishop is not that of a Primate. Jefforts-Schori is ahistorical in understanding her position in this regard.

    • Roger Olson

      As you can see at the web site where her sermon appears, however, her title is “The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church.” Are you saying that is not her real title?

  • Rob

    This would not be the first time she has said something completely anti-orthodox. I seem to remember the PB saying outside of an Alabama abortion clinic that “abortion is a blessing”. Although the Didache is not canonical, it shows that Christians have historically agreed that abortion is a species of unlawful killing. I understand people who think abortion is horrible but morally permissible, but a blessing? That simply cannot be reconciled with historical Christian belief and practice.

  • Does this strike anybody else as an example of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? Because that’s what it seems to be to me.

  • Fletcher Law

    This video of this “sermon” was sent to me. it was so ridiculous that I wanted to verify if it was a legitimate website. I thought it was The Onion or some kind of satire

  • Eric Weiss

    My thought upon reading this story the other day was that this seems to come close to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit – i.e., not only equating the “python spirit” in this woman with the Spirit that Paul had, but in fact denigrating the Spirit that moved Paul in comparison. One might ask the question: Is The Most. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori possibly herself demonized? Lord help The Episcopal Church if that’s the case!

  • Norman

    It likely stems from the current fad by some of trying to stigmatize Paul’s theology. If you can discredit Paul you can get rid of some of his theology that rubs one the wrong way. Usually because people don’t understand Paul contextually.

  • Ivan A. Rogers

    What do you have to do to become a Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church? Duh.

    • Roger Olson

      I think you have to be elected by other bishops and perhaps (I’m not sure) by the delegates to the general convention of the church.

  • KG

    I am curious what her audience in Venezuela thought of the sermon.

  • Jon Altman

    A church bureaucrat is not necessarily a theologian. I wonder if she was attempting to speak to the experience of “colonialism” within the “missionary” movement-where EVERYTHING that was indigenous among folks like the native people in South America was thrown out.

  • Chinglican at Table

    This is really the conundrum. You are right to say that members of the Episcopal Church have voting power, but you are also right to be extremely perplexed about what exactly to do. If what is meant by being Anglican is a serious commitment to apostolic succession through the line of Canterbury (I think it does, but this too is unfortunately a contested claim within Anglicanism, unfortunately), then it’s troubling because it flips the laity into the theological thought police, instead of humbly receiving the tradition and the sacraments so that we can live our lives Christianly in the saeculum. If we don’t speak up, of course, then that Christian life gets increasingly skewed into something unrecognizably Christian. Of course, a more solidly Anglican approach would be to get the rest of the primates to speak up, but this is a very fraught approach because of the schisms of the last decade or so. This, in a nutshell, is why we have a crisis, and to put it in the most vulgar way I can on an evangelical blog, this sucks.

  • The bishop is on a political crusade to legitimize all forms of behavior and accept all sorts of spirits.

    I’m not sure what this is other than the elevation of the human to become little gods unto themselves. The essence of the very first sin.