I’m still in recovery after reading an article this past week in The Washington Times by Julia Duin, “Heresy better idea than Schism.” I suggest that you read the entire article at:
At a recent annual diocesan council meeting an Episcopalian bishop, the Rt. Rev. Peter J. Lee, quoting a Presbyterian scholar, James McCord, said publicly, “If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always choose heresy . . . For as a heretic you are only guilty of a wrong opinion . . . As a schismatic you have torn and divided the body of Christ. Choose heresy every time.” This “teaching” was shared in response to the actions of the orthodox Episcopalians within The Episcopal Church who oppose the consecration as bishop of Gene Robinson a practicing homosexual.
Much can be said in response to such a public condemnation of, and stereotyping of, those fighting to uphold the Orthodox and historical teachings of the church regarding marriage and family, but I will share only a few comments at this time:
. . . “According to divine right, therefore, it is the office of the bishop to preach the Gospel, forgive sins, judge doctrine and condemn doctrine that is contrary to the Gospel, and exclude from the Christian community the ungodly whose wicked conduct is manifest. All this is to be done not by human power but by God’s Word alone. . . . St. Augustine also writes in his reply to the letters of Petilian that one should not obey even regularly elected bishops if they err or if they teach or command something contrary to the divine Holy Scriptures. . . . Our teachers assert that bishops do not have power to institute or establish anything contrary to the Gospel. . . . it is patently contrary to God’s command and Word to make laws out of opinions or to require that they be observed in order to make satisfaction for sins and obtain grace, for the glory of Christ’s merit is blasphemed when we presume to earn grace by such ordinances. . . . Our churches do not ask that the bishops should restore peace and unity at the expense of their honor and dignity (though it is incumbent on the bishops to do this, too, in case of need), but they ask only that the bishops relax certain unreasonable burdens which did not exist in the church in former times and which were introduced contrary to the custom of the universal Christian church . . . St. Peter forbids the bishops to exercise lordship as if they had power to coerce the churches according to their will. It is not our intention to find ways of reducing the bishop’s power, but we desire and pray that they may not coerce our consciences to sin. If they are unwilling to do this and ignore our petition, let them consider how they will answer for it in God’s sight, inasmuch as by their obstinacy they offer occasion for division and schism, which they should in truth help to prevent.” (Excerpts from Augsburg Confession, Article 28)
So who really is responsible for bringing schism to the church? In my “opinion”? The very ones charged with preventing it. Church leaders across the denominations may try to lead us “a new way” but that does not mean we have to follow.