The Truth Be Told, We…

 

by The Rev. James B. Shumard

 

 

So many groups of Christians, today and throughout history, have claimed to know the Truth and believe that their version of “The Truth” was the only truth and nothing but the truth.  I happen to believe that there is ultimate Truth and it is Jesus Christ.  However along with the apostle Paul, I believe that each and every one of us views that Ultimate Truth through a glass darkly and we need each other’s vision to get a fuller view of the Truth.  Certainly if this applies to Paul, then it applies even more to all the ecumenical councils, including Lambeth 1998, who met and declared the “Truth”…and it includes people like Augustine, Luther, Cranmer, Griswold, Williams, Duncan and Akinola.  I think it would be a gift to the wider Christian body if, rather than casting our versions of the Truth or throwing judgmental stones at one another, that we begin telling and confessing the truth about ourselves.  Then we might experience some truth and reconciliation, which is what God really wants for us. 

 

The truth be told, here are my imagined thoughts of the truth being told:

 

  1. The truth be told, we Christians continue to walk in the footsteps of Jesus’ disciples, as we continue to argue about who is the greatest, even as the disciples did as Jesus walked toward the cross.  We continue to imitate our predecessors by subdividing, rather than becoming one, as Jesus has prayed.
  2. The truth be told, all we Christians ignore, revise and rationalize away, far more of Scripture than we pay attention to, revere or unequivocally accept. 
  3. The truth be told, we Christians have barely scratched the surface of the great wealth of spiritual insight and depth of Scripture, because we are still arguing about bits and pieces of it on the surface.
  4. The truth be told, too many Episcopalians are so ignorant of Holy Scriptures, they had to ask their Baptist brothers and sisters where to find Leviticus and when they did open and read a Bible, they believed that the Bible plagiarized our Book of Common Prayer!
  5. The truth be told, the AAC minority of the Episcopal Church, are tired of being a minority and want to have our own way.  We just do not like the polity of ECUSA, as long as we have no power in it.
  6. The truth be told, we Anglicans in the Global South resent the colonial history and paternalistic attitude we have experienced with the West.  Now we have found our voice and power.  We represent the majority of Anglicans and we are no longer going to settle for being second class Anglicans at the tables of power.  We also resent the self centeredness of the United Sates and we see the actions of ECUSA as another example of that.
  7. The truth be told, we Anglicans of the Global South are willing and able to start our own Church and we do not need ECUSA, Canada or the Archbishop of Canterbury to sanction it or be a part of it…or for that matter, to taint it.
  8. The truth be told, we liberals of the Episcopal Church do not understand this personal relationship with Jesus Christ and are far more comfortable attempting to follow the ethical teachings of Christ, at the expense of His theological teachings.  We don’t know God well enough to trust Him with these things.
  9. The truth be told, we conservatives in the Episcopal Church believe that we know the truth and the truth has set us free.  This truth must be guarded and not lessened and we just don’t trust God enough to guard it Himself.
  10. The truth be told, we moderates of the Episcopal Church would like to simply sit down with a cup of expensive and grower friendly coffee and have a civil  discussion about our disagreements and then take communion together.  We might even trust God to enter into the discussion with us!
  11. The truth be told, we mainline Episcopalians confess that other than sexuality, we really have not had much to talk about that really stimulated us.  We have not been distracted from the real mission of the church because we simply have not had a mission that we have been living for.
  12. The truth be told, though we spend much time arguing about whom to bless, statistically, marriages have not fared well even with the Church’s blessings.
  13. The truth be told, we, in-the-pew Episcopalians, confess that we paid little or no attention to our bishops, the national church and the Anglican Communion until 2003.  Now we have decided that what bishops believe, how they vote and how they live out their morality, is crucial to being OUR personal bishop…and if we don’t like it, we will invite another bishop to have oversight in our lives…at least until we disagree with that one. 
  14. The truth be told, many of us decided that being Anglican is now more important than being Episcopalian, though the Episcopal Church is what drew us into the Church and even though we had to ask someone what an Anglican was.
  15. The truth be told, we have never allowed a presiding bishop to have oversight over us, yet out of protest over the election of our new presiding bishop, we are seeking primatial oversight …whatever that is! (To tell the truth, we hope and pray, SPELLCHECK can keep up with all these new words!)
  16. The truth be told, being comfortable is our number-one priority in church and we would like these controversial issues to just go away so we can go back to the way it used to be…arguing about liturgical accoutrements and such!
  17. The truth be told, we do not want to change our selves, our souls, or bodies and we think everyone should just leave us alone and we will leave them alone!

 

Submitted in fear and trembling,

 

The Rev. James B. Shumard

Savannah, Georgia