An Open Letter to Dean Paul Zahl of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry

[COMMENT:  Dean Zahl wrote a response to the disintegrating Episcopal situation entitled, "Re-Alignment and the Episcopal Church", to which I respond below. 

I was, and am, concerned that the tone of his article pointed to our begging the revisionists for a place at the table, a place in the revisionist-controlled community.   On the contrary, we ought to be saying to them, we will have with you an honest contest on who is right in these issues.  If we are wrong, we want to know.  But if you are wrong, we will do all we can to get you out of the place of control. 

I sent the article to Dean Zahl, who responded very graciously and supportively. 

The booklet can be obtained from TESM at 311 Eleventh St., Ambridge, PA  15003   Tel:  724 266-3838]

 

Dear Dean Zahl,

I received a copy of your article, Re-Alignment and the Episcopal Church in the mail and read it with great interest.  I would like to add to the discussion the following observations. 

There are many good reasons for staying in the Episcopal Church (history, tradition, architecture, world-wide communion, liturgy and many others), but the only really compelling reason (given our present circumstances), I think, is to take ECUSA back for Jesus Christ.  But I almost never hear that given as a reason for staying.  We apparently think that is too aggressive. 

The general drift of reasonably orthodox organizations and movements seems to be defensive, to provide a refuge for those who feel in spiritual peril -- a worthy goal.  But most of the conservative leadership has been unable to draw a line in the sand and stick by it, let alone take back lost ground.  Christians should never go, hat in hand, to revisionists, asking permission to be Christians, to be truth-seekers, or to make war on forces which undermine truth.  We already have the command from God. 

It is my perception that we have gotten to our present disarray because the orthodox would not stand firm on any point of truth.  Conservative leaders accuse the revisionists of preferring unity to truth, but conservative leaders have done the same thing.  When push came to shove, collegiality has been more important than the truth.  We have been pathologically polite. 

That may be a bit harsh on our leadership, but we did lose General Convention to forces of darkness and deceit, which never need have happened. 

The problem with such "politeness" is that no collegiality worth having can survive the loss of truth.  It will always devolve into manipulation and power struggle.  When truth is not valued, we lose all objective means of adjudicating between conflicting opinions. 

To try to persuade the revisionists to "be nice" to us, as your article seems to suggest, to honor honest dialogue and discussion, is therefore futile. They are, I think, incapable of doing so.

Homosexuality is a compulsive, lethal addiction.  Those characteristics are shared by our highly sexualized culture, which is why the homosexual movement has gained such support.  Their aim is to feel good, not to pursue truth, which disables them from seeing "being nice" in any but a self-serving way.  They can never be wrong in their own eyes, and their opposition is always in error, which, as the Inquisition used to say, "has no rights".  Error indeed has no rights, but people in error do.  They do not see that distinction because good feelings, untethered from truth, are always self-justifying. 

So, from our side, to treat the present struggle as resolvable, or the two sides as able to live together, is to treat good and evil as resolvable. One will win, the other will lose. No compromise is possible between truth and anything not based on truth.

That, of course, does not relieve any of us of the responsibility of being graceful and loving.  But any compromise of truth will render grace and love meaningless. 

The issue behind all others is, I believe, the epistemological issue: How do we know what we know?  and the practical application of the answer to that question: creating a level playing field for honest discussion in pursuit of truth.   On these issues we must be solid, firm, and uncompromising.  And that, above all, is where revisionists are most deeply vulnerable.  They will never survive an open, honest discussion based on fact and logic. 

Since the 1800's (at least), Western Christians have fallen into the trap of opposing reason to revelation, the worst mistake the Church has made in at least the last 600 years (beginning with the rise of science).  When we Christians recover our intellectual credibility, and not before, when we reunite reason with revelation, we will get some serious traction and begin to push back the dark forces of deceit and ignorance which have captured the levers of ECUSA control. 

I hope that TESM and Nashotah House will take on a Biblically aggressive evangelism with serious intellectual integrity, uniting revelation with reason -- which I take to be the two edges of the Sword of the Spirit, welded back to back.  In the hands of graceful persons, the Sword is an invincible weapon .  We must be able to say with Elijah, that great Old Testament philosopher of logic and factual empirical evidence, "How long will we go limping on two opinions?  If revisionism is right, then let us be revisionists.  But if the orthodox faith is right, then we will follow that.  Now let's find out which is the truth." 

Only if we are willing to find out, in an honest contest, that we might be wrong, will we ever be secure in the knowledge that we are right, and regain our credibility in the public eye. 
 

Faithfully in Christ,

Earle Fox

 

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