Frank Lockwood of Arkansas Online has done yeoman’s work in covering the consent process for the Buddhapalian bishop-elect Kevin Thew Forrester of the Episcopal Church’s Northern Michigan district. Lockwood has another piece out today that starts off with some striking quotes from both proponents (who are vague and rely on assertions about Thew Forrester’s state of mind) and opponents (who are specific about what they consider problematic). The end of the article offers a retired bishop’s perspective, one that says a lot about why the Episcopal Church has become such a laughingstock:
[R]etired Bishop of Eastern Oregon Rustin Kimsey says the church is diminished if it rejects nonconformist thinkers, including Thew Forrester, the late-Bishop of California James A. Pike and retired Bishop of Newark John Shelby Spong.
Spong is known for denying the divinity, virgin birth, bodily resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.
“I mean there are a lot of things that Jack Spong has said that I don’t agree with. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be a bishop, for heaven’s sake,” Kimsey said.
“I’m very dismayed by this [opposition] because I think it undercuts the basic genius of the Episcopal Church: to be bigger than we’re behaving right now, to be more buoyant and more understanding of other viewpoints and welcome them,” Kimsey said.
Spong rejects every historic Christian belief, but “that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be a bishop.” Presumably that means that if Thew Forrester also rejects those beliefs, or so completely reinterprets them that they no longer bear any relationship to what the church believes and teaches, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be a bishop, either. Hey, maybe the Episcopal Church should just go the whole hog and elect Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens a bishop. I mean, why should the church discriminate against potential leaders just because they happen to be atheists? Presumably it would also be in accord with what Kimsey thinks is the “basic genius” of the denomination, which is apparently to stand for absolutely nothing.
It looks at this point like Thew Forrester will not get the consents he needs to be seated in Northern Michigan. But the fact that he gets anyone to vote for him at all (at the moment, the bishops of Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Vermont, Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Western Michigan, Southwest Virginia, and San Joaquin are on record as having voted for him) says a lot about the mess that is the Episcopal Church today.