Episcopal church split is irreversible

February 14, 2013 

Re Feb. 10 letter by Peter and Mary Ann Berthrong, “Writers misrepresent bishop’s message”

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in America called a special convention of her remnant flock on Jan. 25 and 26.

The Berthrongs’ letter to the Sun News was written to refute Dr. Peter Mitchell’s letter of Feb. 1. In his letter Dr. Mitchell quoted from the bishop’s sermon and made the observation that the presiding bishop’s address was off the mark, mean spirited and not fitting of a Christian much less a bishop. To resolve the differences of opinion on the content and tenor of her sermon, the Berthrongs’ offered websites to review the proceedings. Further, they suggested that those that are following this tragic event should read the posted sermon and make up their own mind.

I have and agree with Dr. Mitchell, and find it hard to believe that anyone could come to the conclusion that the bishop’s remarks were intended to foster denominational reconciliation and were offered in love and charity.

On a final note, the Berthrongs appealed to all that are involved in this dispute to adhere to their Anglican roots by observing the intent of the “Via Media” which they described as follows: “The intent of via media was to respect all philosophies within the Church despite differences of opinion concerning beliefs.” Unfortunately this definition is not historically accurate. In Anglican history, the “Via Media” was intended to capture the “middle way” or a compromise between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. When the phrase was used by John Henry Newman in 1834, it included affirming the Scriptures and Thirty-Nine Articles that serve as bedrock Anglican beliefs.

Among those 39 articles are the resurrection of the body, the sufficiency of scripture for salvation, original sin, and obtaining eternal salvation only by the name of Christ. “Via Media” has been ill applied because, all philosophies held by communicants and/or clergy within The Episcopal Church are not equally true if they contradict or oppose the biblical truth and the 39 Articles. While all people deserve dignity and respect, all philosophies do not deserve equal respect.

At the core of the disagreement between the original Diocese of South Carolina and TEC is the former believing all 39 articles and the scripture as part of an orthodox faith and the latter challenging or denying or redefining them. Some of the so-called philosophies espoused by TEC bishops and clergy, including the presiding bishop herself, are heretical by orthodox standards.

The disagreement between orthodox and contemporary beliefs is a stalemate with unlikely resolution or rapprochement. So, my hope and prayer, like that of Dr. Mitchell, is that the original Diocese of South Carolina can continue to serve the 80 percent or more of Anglican Episcopalians in South Carolina, espousing our orthodox faith unfettered and unencumbered by TEC.

The writer lives in Georgetown.

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