Episcopal leadership deposes orthodox bishop

Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburg has been deposed by a vote of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church (TEC) for "abandoning the communion of the Church." The deposition of bishops is the sort of thing I associate with the Arian controversy in the ancient Church and the crisis that surrounded it. Clearly this move by the liberal 'inclusive' leadership of TEC will not help to continue the spirit of goodwill that was so carefully crafted in the recent Lambeth Conference. Bishop Duncan has been a leader of conservative and orthodox Episcopalians since the Anglican crisis began in 2003 with the consecration of gay bishop Gene Robinson.

As I ponder the still unresolved crisis in the Episcopal Church, I wonder if perhaps we in The United Methodist Church (UMC) ought to wait before seeking a relationship of "Full Communion" with TEC - to give them time to decide if they even want to be in full communion with one another.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I never thought I would see it in my lifetime. Church splits are ugly and should be avoided, but to dispose a bishop for orthodoxy is wrong.


10:22 AM, September 20, 2008  
Blogger Stephen said...

I would be very interested in a study of the way MEC and the MECS broke apart to compare and contrast with the way the Episcopal Church is handling things (on both sides).

What is more interesting to me about deposition is what happens when he leaves and joins another communion as a Bishop which is where he is moving. Is his ordination still valid or does he need to be reordained after being deposed by the communion he was associated with? :)

Lastly, do you think that the consecration of Gene Robinson as bishop was the beginning of the crisis? I think it might be the tipping point, but I think TEC conflict goes back further to the clear lack of authority within the church structure.

10:58 AM, September 22, 2008  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Well technically he is being deposed because he is allowing (probably encouraging) his diocese to vote on "re-allignment" with another part of the Anglican Communion.

It seems to me, Stephen, that this is a different situation than what we saw in the MEC before the Civil War. In that instance both groups wanted to seperate, and it was basically an even split of the church into two, mostly geographical, pieces. They split the denomination structure accordingly. It was, very organized.

With the Episcopal break-up, it looks like we have more of a fragmenting effect. Some dioceses and some parishes are realigning with various other parts of the Anglican Communion; and some parishes are going independent (like that big church in Plano). The hierarchy is committed to keeping all the denominational resources (if not all the people) within TEC, so there will be more litigation of all this. It is a messy break.

I believe also that you are correct - if a bishop is deposed he still retains his order as a bishop - he simply no longer exercises the authority. No doubt, he'll soon find another communion, or another part of the Anglican communion that will recognize him. So it will become even more true that there are non-Episcopal Anglicans in the US, which is problematic for TEC.

Finally, I would agree that the ideological tensions obviously began well before 2003, no doubt with roots in those decades when the current leadership was educated - the 50s-70s. But it was the 2003 consecration that pushed TEC (and the Anglican communion) from tension characterized by mutual suspicion to outright crisis characterized by schisms and threats of schisms and calls for restructuring of the whole communion. It was also the 2003 consecration that represented an officially sanctioned departure from the historic catholic faith and practice with regards to the theology of sexuality.

11:17 AM, September 22, 2008  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

officially sanctioned being the key word there in terms of causing a crisis

11:20 AM, September 22, 2008  

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