Last week I got together with two college friends who I hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years. It says a lot about where we’ve come that we met at a park with our children rather than at a bar, coffee shop or restaurant . . .
One of my old college friends is a member of Truro Church, the congregation that is leaving The Episcopal Church over the denomination’s liberal theology and practice, particularly in regards to sexuality matters. In telling me about her church, she emphatically stated that members of Truro Church are not homophobes, but rather that they are leaving The Episcopal Church because "it has gotten out of hand." She cited Bishop Spong’s refutation of the Nicene Creed, the case of an Episcopal priest claiming to be both Christian and Muslim, and the ordination of Gene Robinson as bishop. Which got me to thinking . . .
What does it mean to be in a denomination, to be in communion with others? And, what are communion-breaking issues? What would it take for me to leave the ELCA? Would bad theology by a bishop or pastor make me want to leave? What about a bishop’s sexuality? There’s plenty of bad theology and surely there’s a variety of sexualities in our church, and yet I’m still here . . .
Of course, the obvious answer is this – I’d leave my church if I believed the proclamation of the Gospel were at stake. That’s what the Seminex guys – my internship pastor included – did in St Louis back in the 70’s. But contra the Truro folks, I’m not sure that the Gospel is obscured when it is proclaimed by a gay bishop, but I concede that it might be obscured when butchered by a straight bishop who wonders out loud if anything in the Bible is actually true and thinks Jesus was little more than a champion of social liberal causes.
What do you think? What does it mean to be in a denomination, to be in communion with others? And what are communion-breaking issues?