Thursday, February 5, 2015

[REPOST] Of breakaways, remnants, and Jezebels . . . and getting the terminology right

[ADMINISTRATOR'S NOTE: I am seeing too many media reports referring to the Diocese of South Carolina​ as a "breakaway" group. This is an egregious error on the part of journalists who are either ignorant of the facts or willfully negligent in reporting them. This article, written shortly after last year's Diocesan Convention, is reposted at this time in the hope that it will be a useful resource in refuting the false narrative generated by the national church and perpetuated by an uninformed and incurious media. --JAG]

Peter Leithart expounds on the significance of Jezebel to the history of Israel and why John's invocation of her name in reference to the "prophetess" in Thyatira was precisely on the mark.
Jezebel’s appearance in 1-2 Kings is part of a continuing story of Israel’s relationship with Tyre and Sidon. During the days of David and Solomon, Hiram king of Tyre was an ally of Israel. This is the ideal relationship between Jew and Gentiles, Israel and the nations.

Jezebel represents an inversion of that. As I argue in my 1-2 Kings, Ahab is an anti-Solomon, a Solomon without a period of faithfulness. He is the son of a David-like king Omri, builds a temple in Samaria, and takes a foreign wife, as Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh.

It’s all backward. Ahab’s temple is a temple to Baal, and his wife is an idolater, even a sorceress (as Jehu says) and a leader of a band of Baal prophets. Ahab and Jezebel have an agenda to reunite the two kingdoms, but instead of placing Yahweh and His house at the center, they want to make Baal worship the center. This inverts the proper relation between Jew and Gentile. Instead of the Gentiles assisting in Israel’s project, Israel is enlisted to pursue a Baalist agenda.

Under Ahab and Jezebel, Israel is in bed with the Gentiles, but they aren’t united properly. They are united in a bed of prostitution, at an altar of spiritual adultery.

This is what the Jezebel of Thyatira is doing too. She is a prophetess, as the first Jezebel was the high priestess of a band of prophets. She leads the saints astray, as Jezebel did. She leads them into Baalamite sin, eating meat sacrificed to idols and committing acts of fornication, porneia. There is a false community here, a false family, with Jezebel and her children united in idolatry and immorality. Jezebel assembles an anti-church, as the first Jezebel joined with Ahab in forming an anti-Israel.
The perpetually apostate northern kingdom, moreso than the erstwhile faithful southern kingdom (Judah, where David's house continued on the throne until the Babylonian exile) periodically took an interest in Israel's reunification but, as with Ahab and Jezebel, such an interest was always of human (even pagan), not divine, origin. Judah outlasted Israel by several generations not because all of its kings were righteous (some were, some weren't) but because of God's promise to David. A reunited Israel under rule of one of the northern tribes would simply not do as part of God's plan for the redemption of the world. The faithful remnant, out of which the true Israel would eventually be reconstituted under Jesus and the Apostles, would emerge out of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, then expand well beyond the boundaries of even David's old empire, grafting in the Gentiles from the ends of the earth.

It is an irony of tragic proportions that some of the most loathsomely divisive figures in the history of both Israel and the church have so often cloaked themselves in the mantle of "unity" and "reconciliation" while abandoning the very faith which unites Jew and Gentile and reconciles the world to God. As it would not do for David's throne to be usurped by the apostate house of Ahab, so it will not do for the Church of Jesus Christ, Great David's greater Son, to be consolidated under the present apostasy of Katharine Jefferts Schori and her minions.

Terminology matters. It is a most egregious error to refer to the Diocese of South Carolina, having liberated itself from Schori's apostasy, as a "breakaway diocese." It is equally erroneous to refer to the handful of low country parishes which have remained with the national denomination as a "remnant group."  Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of how God has worked throughout history can see how upside down and backward the picture painted by such references is.

To use Leithart's words, the national denomination under Schori is following the way of Jezebel, forming a false community and a false family united in idolatry and immorality. In other words, the national denomination is an anti-church, a "breakaway" from the faith once for all entrusted to the saints.

Meanwhile, as was so richly illustrated at its recent convention, the Diocese of South Carolina is gathering into one so many of the disparate elements of the far flung Anglican Diaspora while also being grafted in to the larger family of faithful Anglican provinces of the Global South. The "remnant" is always that small but faithful group that perseveres through trial, is finally vindicated, and goes forth rejoicing in the new work God has begun through it.