Response to Charges of Apostacy

Response to Charges of Apostacy

by The Rev. Ernest Cockrell

Thirdly, and most importantly, the resolution by the Executive Council fails to acknowledge the unrebuked tyranny and apostasy that had led to departure of many faithful Episcopalians from their Church and why many feel that the Anglican Mission in America is necessary.

--Bishops Fitz Allison and Alex Dickson in response to Executive Council's resolution regarding the Anglican Mission in America

I think they had Jack Spong in mind- he who has said on the web and in print that he doesn't believe that Jesus is divine etc etc. There is a point where ambiguity can no longer be tolerated- either Jesus is Lord - which you proclaim He is- and therefore you are a Christian or one says Jesus isn't Divine and then one is apostate - especially when one continues to claim a title as Bishop in a Christian organization. Jack isn't alone in his stance of new age theology, he's just the most public- that's what is apostasy - not your proclivities.

--Deputy speaking in response to the Allison-Dickson comment above

A Response to "Apostacy"

What is this "Jesus is divine" theology? Where did that come from? Christ is divine, but Jesus was a human being - PERIOD, or we have nothing to do with him, nor he with us. (Don't the creeds try to say that?) Like the real flesh-and-blood human beings we are, Jesus was not a Greek-like god walking on the face of the earth - and he did not have "all the answers in the back of the book." He lived by faith, not knowledge; made choices in the light of the integrity of that faith. The "Jesus was divine" is just the kind of confusion that gets in the way of people believing. Remember, the gospels were written in hindsight when the authors knew the end of the story. They could put words into Jesus' mouth that he would have never said or known - his talk about the cross, etc. Such talk denigrates the human Jesus and the integrity of his suffering, and separates him from us mortals, which is just the opposite of the theology of the Incarnation. I believe the Hebrew Jesus would never have thought in terms a human/divine duality.

I certainly don't think I'm "apostate" because I try to read the Bible in its historical/cultural context with the God-given intelligence that archaeology, linguistics and historical studies of scripture have been granted to us in the 21st century. If the Holy Spirit is leading us into new truth, why is anyone afraid of what we might find?

Putting down Jack Spong by branding his studies "new age theology" is as bad as calling a gay Christian's understanding "his proclivities." That hardly reflects the spirit of Jesus or the Christ.

From my study, the historical Jesus is not Lord, the Risen Christ is! But then I see the risen Christ as larger than the historical Jesus, allowing me to see the Christ in people of all religions - and I don't really think that the Lord God of the universe cares too much about labels as much as loving hearts. Am I apostate? So be it. I'll go with loving, caring hearts in liberated minds anytime - I think that's closer to what the human Jesus was about.

Ambiguity? Jesus lived with it all the time; so do I. One quote was especially disturbing: "There is a point where ambibuity can no longer be tolerated" Good grief. Am I watching the Salem witch trials or am I still a priest in - and of - the Episcopal Church? Differences of opinion and belief? Yes! "Apostasy" No!

God save us from belief systems that claim to know it all. By openness to new truth wherever it's found, I hope we can learn to live with ambiguity and find God there. Because we are not God, I hope we can live in a spirit of humility and integrity and mutual acceptance, aware that when we put Jesus and Christ together we have made a THEOLOGICAL statement. Anyway, let's not ANY of us play God, but by God's grace learn to live together in both our limitations and affirmations.

Ernest W. Cockrell,
Clerical Deputy 1
El Camino Real


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