by George Naff Gray, Jr.,
Exclusive to VirtueOnline
September 14, 2007
Homer, the great Greek poet of tragedies, writes of a Trojan War where the Greeks were unable to breach the walls of the City of Troy. After some ten years, the Greeks used a ruse to gain entrance into the city.
They set sail just beyond the horizon, but left behind a huge horse as an offering to the Trojans. Unknown to the Trojans, Greek forces lay hidden inside the belly of the beast. Despite doubts of the sincerity of such a Greek gift, King Priam had the horse brought inside the city. A great celebration took place.
Late in the night with the horse left unguarded, the Greek forces that lay hidden inside came out and opened the gates of the city to the Greek hordes that had returned in their ships under the cover of darkness. Once access was gained inside the city, the Trojans were defeated and Troy was destroyed.
A similar ruse may be used by the Episcopal Church (TEC) to overcome the Anglican Communion's bulwark teaching on human sexuality called Lambeth 1.10 and destroy the Anglican Communion.
Like the Trojan War, an Anglican war of words has been under way for ten years.
It began in earnest with the Anglican Communion's adoption during the 1998 Lambeth Conference of the Lambeth 1.10 teaching concerning the blessing of marriage being between one man and one woman.
The war of words does not simply consist of a disagreement over this one teaching, but over a much more significant issue encompassed in the word: hermeneutics.
Christopher Landau of the BBC speaks of this hermeneutical war this way: "The problem for Anglicans is that they cannot agree on how to interpret the Bible, and therefore they arrive at very different views on a number of moral issues."
Hermeneutics are the methods or theories used for interpretation. An essential element to the hermeneutical approach is the understanding of the word: truth. Truth expresses facts that conform to reality. However, the leadership of TEC has been employing a new understanding of "truth" in their approach to the hermeneutical task of interpretation.
The hermeneutical method of TEC does not lend itself to one interpretation. "Truth" in TEC can be pluriform and thus, there can be more than one set of interpretations which have led to theological understandings and liturgical practices within TEC that are both foreign to catholic Christianity and against the express teachings of Lambeth 1.10.
For example, The Presiding Bishop of TEC uses this hermeneutical approach in publicly expressing that Jesus Christ is one of many ways to the Divine as opposed to traditional hermeneutical standard of catholic Christian teaching that conforms to St. John's writing: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)
When the elected leader of TEC fails to publicly acknowledge such a basic tenant of the Christian faith, then without question, something is profoundly wrong.
What is wrong within TEC is its approach to hermeneutics and its understanding of "truth" to be pluriform. Pluriform truth has led to practices within TEC that have been condemned by the instruments of Anglican unity and Roman, Orthodox, and Protestant churches around the world.
Christian charity has been repeatedly sought after by the larger Anglican Communion in calling on TEC to refrain from those practices that most clearly violate Christian teaching. The most recent request came from the leadership of the Anglican Communion in February through the Dar es Salaam Communique.
The letter and spirit of the Communique was clear: TEC must be in compliance with Lambeth 1:10 and agree to the establishment of a Pastoral Council for those in TEC who are unable to abide by a hermeneutic that leads to practices condemned by the Church Catholic.
The House of Bishop's of TEC's have, thus far, failed to comply with any of the requests of the Communique. A majority of these bishops cite TEC's polity as the reason why they are unable to comply, but a ruse, a Trojan Horse, will more than likely be presented to the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams when he visits the TEC's House of Bishops' meeting next week.
The Trojan Horse will be in the form of a modified primatial vicar plan. The plan is a Trojan Horse offering to assure TEC's access into next year's Lambeth Conference. The plan will appear to be within the hopes of Dar es Salaam Communique's request for pastoral care for both dioceses and parishes in TEC, but the hermeneutical methods applied within this plan will not conform to the letter and spirit of the Dar es Salaam Communique.
Should the Archbishop of Canterbury accept this offering and choose to ignore the dangers that lay just beyond the horizon, he will be failing the Anglican Communion as surely as King Priam failed Troy. Allowing the bishops of the TEC to gain access to next year's Lambeth Conference without compliance to the many pleas of the last four years from all the instruments of Anglican unity, will be akin to allowing the Greeks to gain access within the walls of Troy to lay waste to the Christian witness of the Anglican Communion.
TEC's Trojan Horse may appear as a gift of compromise, but what lies hidden within the body is a spirit opposed to what the Anglican Communion has maintained in it's Christian teachings for centuries and utterly fails in being in compliance with Lambeth 1.10 and the teachings of the Church catholic.
Should the Trojan Horse of TEC be accepted, those inside the beast will open Anglicanism to a method, faith and practice through a hermeneutical approach that does violence to the Holy Scriptures, the traditions of the Church, and God's creation. If TEC's Trojan Horse enters into the Anglican Communion, celebrating may well begin, but in a very short time the Anglican Communion could lay in ruins just like the once mighty City of Troy and that would be a modern tragedy indeed.
---The Rev. Dr. Br. George Naff Gray, Jr., O.C.P., is rector of St. Christopher's Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina