frgavin on July 25th, 2012

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

Jon Meacham, activist lay Episcopalian, Sewanee alumnus, executive vice president at Random House and a Pulitzer Prize winning bestselling author, has written a commentary piece in the July 30 issue of TIME magazine on what the Episcopal Church’s handling of same-sex unions can teach the rest of us.

Meacham is an outspoken Episcopal liberal who has publicly excoriated orthodox Anglicans for their narrowness. While he was editor of NEWSWEEK, he even blasted Archbishop Robert Duncan for leaving TEC and forming the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

In the TIME article, Meachem sets out to make the case for same sex liturgies and cites, as his opening gambit, the deal cut by Texas Bishop Andrew Doyle. He said he’d support congregations that choose to use same sex blessing liturgies in his diocese. (He made this pronouncement before GC2012 met.) Doyle clearly knew which way the wind was blowing and made a preemptive strike. Meacham said Doyle got the idea from former Secretary of State James Baker who has argued that “the most practical approach usually is to address those matters where progress is possible, postpone decisions on irresolvable issues, and mutually respect the differing opinions of each side.” However, what works for the state does not necessarily work for the church. The Church has a different play book it works from. Really.

Meacham writes that Anglicanism has always been about the attempt – sometimes successful, sometimes less so-to find a via media, or middle way between the stricter sacramentalism of Roman Catholicism and the stricter scriptural literalism of other Protestant denominations. The faith is driven in large measure by the same principle…the enduring effort to muddle through.

This is a misreading of Via Media. Hooker never used the phrase “via media” or the “middle way”, or indeed, “Anglican” in any of his works; the attribution of via media to him came much later. Via Media is the title of a series of tracts published by John Henry Newman of the Tractarian movement (1834), which became the Oxford Movement. This movement recast via media as a middle way, not within Protestantism but between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. Although the Oxford Movement eventually faded away (and many of its leaders converted to Roman Catholicism), their idea of the via media has remained current in Anglican discourse.

Certainly, neither Anglo-Catholics then nor Roman Catholics now would have entertained the notion that there is a via media over sodomy or same-sex rites.

Meacham goes on to admit that TEC is in decline. He writes: “The question is whether the Episcopal Church can continue to muddle into a sixth century or whether falling membership suggests inevitable decline.”

Answer: Inevitable decline. No transcendent gospel, no salvation, no hope, no future.

He rips conservatives for having double standards berating those who believe homosexuality is not good and right in the eyes of God while refusing to face the fact of divorce and slavery. These are old saws. It was an evangelical Anglican, William Wilberforce, who got rid of slavery and divorce, for all its ugliness divorce does not forfeit one’s salvation; whereas Scripture is clear that “homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom” 1 Cor 6:9). The question is: What has God said about homosexual behavior? It is not what Meacham thinks God has said or would like Him to now affirm because we are in the 21st Century.

Meacham continues: “Given that sexual orientation is innate and that we are all, in theological terms, children of God, then to deny access to some sacraments based on sexuality is as wrong as to deny access to some sacraments based on race or gender.”

There are two fallacies here. Sexuality is not innate. The distinguished psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Satinover (whom I know personally) has written that the premise that homosexuals cannot change is “an obvious lie. Gossip is a far more serious problem from a moral standpoint. Misinformation about homosexuality is spread by homosexual activists and their allies in the psychiatric profession through ‘HIV’, Historical Information-deconstruction Virus, a blight that affects gays and straights, conservatives and liberals and blacks and whites.

“Today, it’s commonplace to insist that differences between men and women are environmentally constructed while those between homosexuals and heterosexuals are genetic,” he says.

“Homosexuals are not another species,” says Satinover, who treats homosexuals and who knows hundreds of homosexuals who have undergone profound changes. “Homosexual activists and their allies, however, won’t permit an open debate on the subject,” says the brilliant Jewish psychiatrist. (Satinover is considered an international expert in the field of homosexual behavior.)

The second inaccuracy of Meacham’s is the half truth that “theologically we are all God’s children.” We are God’s children by reason of birth, we are sons and daughters of God by reason of the New Birth. Meacham simply doesn’t get it or perhaps he doesn’t want to get it.

“The central tenet of Christianity as it has come down to us is that we are to reach out when our instinct is to pull inward, to give when we want to take, to love when we are inclined to hate, to include when we are tempted to exclude,” writes Meacham.

Ah, no Mr. Meacham, the central tenet of Christianity is that Jesus died for our sins and rose again for our justification. The things you mention may or may not flow from that supreme act of a loving God for a fallen humanity.

“I respect that others have different views on the same-sex issue. Nothing should properly create more humility than discussion about detecting the will of God. The decision of the General Convention, which allows for diocesan discretion, is a sensible one, it implicitly acknowledges that there is room for disagreement,” writes Meacham. “A smoothly condescending right is no more attractive that a morally superior left.”

Meacham should practice what he preaches. While using his New York publishing platform when he was editor of NEWSWEEK, he did not hesitate to spew hateful and dangerous rhetoric aimed at orthodox Anglicans. At that time, Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan became the scapegoat and brunt of Meacham’s northeastern elitist wrath for starting the ACNA and upholding marriage between one man and one woman. Meacham’s progressive and socially respectable views on sexuality are at odds with the ancient truth Duncan espouses, which the church has always upheld and which Meacham now disavows.

Doyle’s compromise is no compromise at all, any more than Meacham’s rant about what the Episcopal Church’s handling of same-sex unions teaches us. The Diocese of Texas has been, since the retirement of orthodox stalwart Bishop Ben Benitez, trending leftward. Now, under Bishop Doyle, the journey to the dark side is complete, wrote one conservative commentator.

Doyle is selling the Diocese of Texas down the spiritual road to death and destruction. There is no “question” at all because scripture contains not even a hint, shadow or shade of ambiguity (Leviticus 18:22, Rom 1:18-33; 1 Cor 6:9). Bishop Doyle has made a compromise with the Devil. It’s not a compromise between “liberals” and “conservatives”. His compromise is with the pit.

How many people will now be led away from Christ and into the darkness down the bishop’s middle road? How many indeed. This “middle road” is lined with barbed wire.

Meacham will live long enough to see the fruit of his words. TEC is hemorrhaging faster than a patient waiting on life support for a heart transplant. Within two decades TEC will be a handful of junctured dioceses with an ASA of less than 100,000, its millions of dollars spent (read wasted) on property litigation, its headquarters in New York City long sold and causes no one cares about over resolutions long since forgotten. TEC will reap what it is sowing.

If you want to read more about “Boy Wonder” Jon Meacham click here:

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