Diocese of Wangaratta

Two Different Bishops

 

 

 

 

 

 

The man on the left is Bishop John Parkes of the Diocese of Wangaratta. The man on the right is Bishop Rick Lewers of the Diocese of Armidale (my Bishop).

Both of these men share some things in common. Both these men:

Are Bishops:

Are Bishops of a smaller Rural Diocese:

Made the same vows when they were ordained as Bishops.

Bot these men were exhorted to:

Be faithful in prayer, diligent in the study of the Holy Scriptures so that [they] may be equipped to teach and encourage, and to proclaim to the gospel to all. To correct and set aside teaching that is contrary to the mind of Christ, both privately and publicly, urging all to live according to God’s Word. To put aside all ungodly and worldly behaviour, and live modestly, in justice and godliness, so that by [their lives] and example [they] may commend Christ’s truth.

Bot these men publicly affirmed that they were convinced:

that the Holy Scriptures contain all doctrine necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and that with God’s help you will instruct from them the people committed to your care, teaching nothing as essential to salvation which cannot be demonstrated from the Scriptures.

Both of these men stated:

I firmly and sincerely believe the Catholic Faith and I give my assent to the doctrine of the Anglican Church (insert province) as expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons: I believe that doctrine to be agreeable to the Word of God;

However…

The Bishop of Wangaratta:

Believes in a different God – a God who is a God of love, and because of this, those living lifestyles that Scripture says are sinful is irrelevant because God is love. So two gay men who are married in the eyes of the law, it is therefore incumbent upon those in the church to bless them because God is love and God’s love overrules God’s other attributes, (i.e Holiness, Righteousness,) and God’s love even overrules what He has said in His own Word.

“This is a long overdue recognition that if God is love, and faithful persons are living together in love, then the church ought to bless those persons in the name of God,” 

Believes in a different Gospel –  A gospel that says “come as you are and stay as you are”;  that consists of a half-truth that is presented as the whole truth. A gospel that has no repentance.

“It’s about inclusivity. It’s about God being God of all people.”

“There are many gay people who are faithful Christians, who are living in the church”.

“I hope that at least in this part of north-east Victoria it will mean that gay and lesbian Christians can be who they are; marry under state law and be blessed and accepted in their church.”

“‘God loves you and we love you and you are who you are, and that’s okay!'”

Submits the Scripture through the lens of culture and subjective human reason

My own view is that there’s nothing in the Bible that understands the sorts of relationships that we are talking about, in this day and age.”

By way of contrast, Bishop Rick Lewers wrote in a recent publication an excellent review of a book entitled Marriage, Same-Sex Marriage and the Anglican Church of Australia: Essays from the Doctrine Commission. 

Understanding the Scriptures requires you to listen to what God has said and to sit under his authority. Where a part of the Bible is unclear we don’t ignore it but we look to the rest of the Bible to offer us further understanding.

By contrast, interpreting the Scriptures makes you the authority over what God has said allowing influences such as tradition, reason, and experience to determine your thoughts.

This is not just semantics. When we seek to understand, understanding submits our reason, tradition and contemporary circumstances to God’s Word. When we seek to interpret, interpreting submits God’s word to our reason, traditions and contemporary circumstances. The outcomes can be significantly different when it comes to faith and practice.

Start with God and you start with the Almighty, the Sovereign, the Holy and Perfect. Start with humanity and every effort is flawed from the start by our creatureliness, weakness and fallen nature. It is hardly surprising that when we get God wrong we get ourselves wrong. It is hardly surprising when we put ourselves in God’s place that we will compromise God’s absolutes.

Given that contrast, it can only be the sin of hubris that would have us pursuing interpretations that offer permissions to things God has spoken against rather than encouraging repentance and faith that comes with understanding God’s Word. Such hubris will heal no ills, trivialise sin, reduce Christ, profit no salvation and consign people to hell.

The book that Bishop Lewers reviews is one that provides a window into the chasm that exists within the Anglican Church and of the two irreconcilable theological tectonic plates that are colliding, both of whom claim the name Anglican.

These two Bishops are but a snapshot of that same chasm.

Both these men have things in common; both these men:

Are Bishops:

Are Bishops of a smaller Rural Diocese:

Made the same vows when they were ordained as Bishops.

but that is where the similarities begin and end.

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