From the Charleston Mercury, the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis tells the real story of the Diocese of South Carolina's disassociation from the denomination of Katharine Jefferts Schori.
Much has been written about the Diocese of South Carolina’s separation from The Episcopal Church (TEC) — and most of it has been wrong.Please read the full article here.
Virtually all the articles suggest our diocese left because TEC ordained a gay bishop. That’s just not true. The diocese separated last year, nine years after TEC elected its first, non-celibate, gay bishop — and only after the denomination tried to strip all authority from our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence.
Though media insist our motive for leaving is our difference with TEC’s policies on the ordination of gay bishops and same-sex marriage, the real issues are rooted in the 1970s, well before Gene Robinson became the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in 2003.
It’s about God, not gays
To understand the situation in South Carolina, you need to understand the history of the Episcopal Church, which is the American expression of the Anglican Communion. We have a unique view of the denomination since the Diocese of South Carolina was one of the nine pre-existing dioceses that founded TEC in 1789. The denomination has been redefining itself since the 1970s effectively evolving into two churches under one roof — a traditional one that embraced historic Anglican doctrines and a modernist one.
By the 1990s, the modernist faction was gaining dominance within the denomination. For example, TEC’s then-Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Frank Griswold, proclaimed that “truth,” is “pluriform.” This meant the church recognized no single truth, no single theology, no single pathway to salvation.
He effectively said that one person’s truth is as good as another’s. And many of us found that to contradict everything we believe as Anglicans.
It’s true that we live in a nuanced, multicultural world, but traditional Anglicans believe in the authority of Scripture. For us, a belief in Christ is fundamental to the faith, not one of several optional paths to salvation. It is why we are Anglicans, rather than Unitarians or Buddhists or Hindus or something else.
In a 2006 interview with Time magazine, the Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts-Schori, a strong pluriform proponent claimed that to believe, as Jesus said, that He is “the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father but through Him,” was to put God in an “awfully small box.” That denial of Jesus’ essential role clearly displayed the difference between traditional and modernist or pluriform Anglicans/Episcopalians.