Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Is heresy better than schism? [Ecumenical]
Beliefnet ^ | December 29, 2008 | Rod Dreher

Posted on 12/30/2008 11:05:11 AM PST by NYer

On his TNR blog, Damon Linker flags the schism within the Episcopal Church as the most important and worrying religious development of the past year. Here's an excerpt:

With 100,000 members, the schismatic Anglican denomination is so far quite small, though it may well grow if conservative dioceses around the country decide to take the option now presented to them and bolt from the Episcopal Church. But regardless of the numbers involved, the rupture in the church is historically significant and culturally troubling. The Protestant mainline that once ruled and to some extent united the nation continues its decline, split into squabbling factions facing each other across a cultural chasm. Arrayed on one side are liberals of every theological stripe; on the other are defenders of orthodoxy and tradition. The first views the second as ignorant bigots; the second sees the first as moral degenerates. Barack Obama may have managed to win 53 percent of the popular vote last month, but that doesn't mean the country's division into "red" and "blue" spheres of cultural influence has come to an end. Indeed, the split in the Episcopal Church indicates that it persists and may even be deepening.

Damon is troubled, and understandably so, by the fact that American churches are breaking apart based on positions congregations and individuals within them hold on culture-war issues. I don't see how any serious believer, whichever side he takes, can be cheered by schism. But I am inclined to think of schism as the second-worst option, if the only other is to accomodate one's church to a serious heresy.

As Damon notes, the stance a believer takes on issues like abortion, homosexuality, order and authority in the family, and a related constellation of concerns, typically places one within one camp or the other. It's no accident that there's a thread connecting stances on both sides; i.e., there's a reason why Christians who oppose abortion rights are more likely to oppose same-sex marriage rights, and vice versa. It all comes down, in the end, to Authority.

If you believe that Scripture, or Scripture and the institutional Church, is the Authority for deciding questions of meaning and morality, then you are far more likely to fall on the traditionalist side of these questions. If you believe that individual conscience is the Authority, then you are likely to be a progressive.

I don't see how the two can be reconciled, unless it is agreed by a majority that the church in question doesn't really stand for anything beyond itself. If you really do believe that Scripture and Tradition are wrong about same-sex relationships, and that it is a matter of basic justice that the teaching be changed, then you aren't going to stop fighting for that change within the church. If you believe that we are not free to throw off the authority of Scripture (and Tradition) in such matters, then to have your church declare these matters open to negotiation would be to hollow out the meaning of what the church is supposed to stand for, all for the sake of a superficial unity.

The question ultimately is this: Are there matters over which there can be no compromise, and in which a compromise would destroy the essence of the institution? If there are, then schism is better than agreeing to disagree for the sake of keeping the family together. Right? If schism is always worse than heresy, then how can it be possible to draw any boundaries beyond which individuals and congregations, progressive or traditional, will not go?


TOPICS: Current Events; Ecumenism; Ministry/Outreach; Other non-Christian
KEYWORDS: episcobaal; episcopagan; episcopal; gaychurch; nonchristiancult

1 posted on 12/30/2008 11:05:11 AM PST by NYer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

Ping!


2 posted on 12/30/2008 11:05:37 AM PST by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Schism is better than heresy. What gains a man if he keeps a church but loses his soul?


3 posted on 12/30/2008 11:06:25 AM PST by MahatmaGandu (Remember, remember, the twenty-sixth of November.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer
Isn't it terrible how some people are so selfish that they feel compelled to follow their consciences, rather than bowing to the wishes of their betters?
4 posted on 12/30/2008 11:08:03 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the opium of the people.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MahatmaGandu

You (the Word) are so right.


5 posted on 12/30/2008 11:09:02 AM PST by ViLaLuz (2 Chronicles 7:14)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: NYer

It all goes back to “did God really say?”, doesn’t it?


6 posted on 12/30/2008 11:09:22 AM PST by Bosco (Remember how you felt on September 11?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer

The Eswishcopal with its gay bishops is doomed.


7 posted on 12/30/2008 11:11:23 AM PST by reg45
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Good post, but I question if the separation from heresy is schism.


8 posted on 12/30/2008 11:12:28 AM PST by AZhardliner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AZhardliner
Good post, but I question if the separation from heresy is schism.

I submit that it isn't, at least not in the spiritual sense. It might be schism on paper, or declared so by some bishop somewhere. But it's really a matter of keeping church teaching sound.
9 posted on 12/30/2008 11:16:02 AM PST by JamesP81 (Let the Great RINO Hunt of 2009 begin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes [shall be] they of his own household Mat 10:34-36


10 posted on 12/30/2008 11:16:21 AM PST by slumber1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer
With 100,000 members, the schismatic Anglican denomination is so far quite small,

That portion of the church which has abandoned scripture is the schismatic church. The church that has remained faithful is right where it always was.

11 posted on 12/30/2008 11:17:40 AM PST by marron
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer
Schism is just so TACKY! It's just so distressing to see churches fighting over who gets to keep the Honk Kong silks and the choir endowment, which thank God we've got one because simply nobody who's anybody has time for the choir anymore, and the sterling communion ware from before the Revolution.

Seriously, in a lot of dioceses, being a bishop, while demanding, was pretty well compensated. We're going to see some real social changes in TEC and the offshoots. It's going to make the "national Cathedral" kind of interesting. I wonder if they have enough of an endowment to keep the place running.

12 posted on 12/30/2008 11:22:53 AM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Those who believe in promoting homosexuality and who believe in killing their own unborn children are NOT Christians. Even if they manage to take over some liberal, declining denominations they are still NOT Christians.


13 posted on 12/30/2008 11:23:53 AM PST by detective
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer

No! Schism is better than heresy. False doctrine must be confronted and rejected.


14 posted on 12/30/2008 11:30:24 AM PST by Jemian (PAM of JT!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer

I believe heresy is worse than schism. Moreover, since matters of Church authority are also often matters of doctrine, it is rare to have pure schism entirely divorced from issues of doctrinal errors. The prime example of relatively pure schism would be Eastern Orthodox/Catholic split, where there is very little difference in doctrine. However, even in that case doctrinal issues are present, such as the role of the Pope. The deposit of faith is divinely revealed to us in and by Christ through the Apostles. It is sacred and must not be diluted by allowing heresy to flourish unrebuked in the Church. This is so particularly in a free society where there is no coercion in matters of religion and conscience. If one does not believe all that the Church teaches, then I think one should in conscience leave it. Erring believers should be allowed to go their way and not dilute the deposit of faith with heresy. This may be sad, to be sure, but it is medicinal correction both to themselves and to the Church. They must be prayed for. If a society forces people to belong to a specific Church, as has happened in the past, then I think there is more justification for allowing leeway to differing opinions about aspects of the deposit of faith within the Church, but even that excuse for minimizing the heinousness of heresy is lacking in our modern free society.


15 posted on 12/30/2008 12:03:11 PM PST by Unam Sanctam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Not normally agree with things you post, but this was spot-on. I don’t understand those who say unity at all costs is better than tolerating heresy.

Yes, unity is important, and splitting churches is a sign of the fall and evil’s influence on even deluded churches. But, there are times when a schism is unfortunately the best option. That does not make it a pleasant or good thing, but the best option among many bad ones.


16 posted on 12/30/2008 12:22:54 PM PST by rwfromkansas ("Carve your name on hearts, not marble." - C.H. Spurgeon)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Is it still schism when it is from a schism????

When a committee can vote on ‘what is truth this year’ you know you are in trouble.


17 posted on 12/30/2008 12:49:26 PM PST by magdalen
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer

The Episcopal church now faces some harsh truths.

1) Liberals are utterly dependent on conservatives for funding. People who despise their own religion’s teachings are not big on coughing up the dough to support it once it caves to their demands.

2) Many of the liberals are disinterested in Christianity itself. What they sought to do was force others to become disinterested in it as well.

3) Relativism and weird Ecumenism go hand in hand. This is why Rowan Williams has no problem with also being a Druid High Priest.

4) The liberals are unable to distinguish heterodoxy from heresy. For them, there is no difference between playing non-standard hymns for services and questioning the divinity of Jesus.

The bottom line is that the Episcopalians will continue until the money has run out, then their remaining bishops will go Chapter 11, split up the money, and live where the laws against pedophilia aren’t too strict.


18 posted on 12/30/2008 12:57:03 PM PST by yefragetuwrabrumuy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: marron
and IMO there is a very large segment of the Episcopal Church which has not departed for the newly organized orthodox church and remain in their parishes where they have worshiped for years, many of of these churches have remained conservative - they might be a “silent” majority. Of course silence is what allowed the heretics to take over the church.
19 posted on 12/30/2008 1:30:26 PM PST by elpadre (nation)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Precedent is an amazing thing.


20 posted on 12/30/2008 2:11:36 PM PST by TASMANIANRED (TAZ:Untamed, Unpredictable, Uninhibited.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AZhardliner; JamesP81; NYer; Unam Sanctam
This question was decided a very, very long time ago:

"... So that if any presbyter or bishop or metropolitan dares to secede from communion with his own patriarch and does not mention his name as is ordered and appointed in the divine mystagogy, but before a synodical arraignment and his [the patriarch's] full condemnation, he creates a schism, the Holy Synod has decreed that this person be alienated from every priestly function, if only he be proven to have transgressed in this. These rules, therefore, have been sealed and ordered concerning those who on the pretext of some accusations against their own presidents stand apart, creating a schism and severing the unity of the Church. But as for those who on account of some heresy condemned by Holy Synods or Fathers sever themselves from communion with their president, that is, because he publicly preaches heresy and with bared head teaches it in the Church, such persons as these not only are not subject to canonical penalty for walling themselves off from communion with the so-called bishop before synodical clarification, but they shall be deemed worthy of due honor among the Orthodox. For not bishops, but false bishops and false teachers have they condemned, and they have not fragmented the Church's unity with schism, but from schisms and divisions have they earnestly sought to deliver the Church" " Canon XV of the First-Second Council of Constantinople (861 AD)

21 posted on 12/30/2008 6:34:30 PM PST by Kolokotronis ( Christ is Born! Glorify Him!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Heresy always leads to schism (but not all schisms are caused by heresy).


22 posted on 12/31/2008 4:36:08 AM PST by bobjam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bobjam

Not worried about this. The economic situation is going to drive the Episcopal Cult under within 12 months. Many of their “churches” are already on the verge of closing or declaring bankruptcy.


23 posted on 01/01/2009 12:35:48 AM PST by kaehurowing
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: NYer
Is heresy better than schism?

Simple answer - No. It is better that there is the Catholic Church and 3,000 Protestant denominations than a Catholic Church that no longer defends Catholicism.

Any doubts, look what happened to the Republican Party and their "Big Tent" philosophy.

24 posted on 01/01/2009 10:49:31 AM PST by Barnacle (God help us.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Barnacle
It is better that there is the Catholic Church and 3,000 Protestant denominations than a Catholic Church that no longer defends Catholicism.

3,000? Try 40,000! Yes ... like cancer cells, the non-Catholic denominations continue to split and divide faster than Wikipedia can keep track.

25 posted on 01/01/2009 3:01:21 PM PST by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: kaehurowing

The irony is great- the Episcopal Organization has over the last few years pointed out how much money it will be able to spend on suing the righteous and faithful in the worldly courts. Now a down economy is cleaning out those bank accounts and the Episcopal Organization is begging for money so it can continue the law suits.


26 posted on 01/02/2009 4:09:22 PM PST by bobjam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson