US Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry might have sparkled with Markle in a sermon about love, but he’s just given curry to William Love, the bishop who refused to allow his diocese to preside over same sex marriages.
William Love has resigned as bishop rather than take his Albany diocese through a long and protracted legal case. If Love had lost the case – which given the state of the Episcopalian Church in the US was inevitable – the church would have likely taken the next step of disciplinary proceedings and stripped him of his ordination.
Curry is probably still basking in the afterglow of the huge syrupy serves of adulation he received after the Royal wedding, but all that talk of love really amounted to nothing. He has, like so many on the revisionist side of the church, succumbed to the theological Mobius strip of “love is love” which pretty much means everything and nothing at the same time.
Meanwhile Love has shown what true sacrificial love is by not demanding his rights – both his biblical rights in the sense that he is committed to a biblical understanding of marriage and Curry has not, but also in that he refused to put the diocese through the wringer for the sake of his rights.
Make not mistake there wouldn’t have been a lot of love for Love in the process. And that’s because in the revisionist zealotry of those rushing headlong towards celebrating what the Bible forbids, love is, ironically, decidedly lacking. No actual room for actual diversity of opinion when it comes to love apparently.
Love made the following statement:
After much thought and prayer, recognising that whatever disciplinary action would be offered would not be anything I could in good conscience agree to, I have made the very difficult, but necessary decision to resign as Bishop of Albany, effective February 1, 2021 – the 14th Anniversary of my becoming the Bishop Diocesan. Given all that has happened, and that which was still to come, I believe that to stay any longer would be more of a detriment to the Diocese than a help.”
Are you watching Presiding Bishop Curry? Did you hear that? That’s what actual love looks like. Love for truth, love for others. No sense of pushing his own rights.
During the Royal wedding I didn’t fawn over Curry, not because he didn’t say some good things, but because he left out some good things. Some important good things from the centre of his sermon. And those things left out turned out to be the things that Bishop Love would have left in.
Bishop Love would do well to head off from his church and go plant another church in a nearby local building, and he would find that most of his parishioners would probably join him. This isn’t a time for handwringing about the need for unity, and the need to avoid Schism, this is a time for church leaders to take seriously Jesus words about “blind guides” and those who make great shows and pretences in their religious observance.
The great irony of course is that the Episcopal Church in the US is, like many wings of its mothership in the UK, the Church of England, completing tanking. Age is going up, attendance is going down. If the progressive arm of the Anglican churches were dogs, you’d take them to the vet to have them put out of their misery, so poorly are they performing.
St Paul said to the Ephesian church on the Miletus beach that “…fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things to draw away the disciples after them…” (Acts 20).
Fierce wolves don’t look like fierce wolves. They look like lovely men. They look like you. They come from among you. If a fierce wolf looked like a fierce wolf and came from outside, you’d be on your guard before it shredded the sheep. Satan works from the inside.
And of course wolves don’t play by the rules. As reported in Eternity News this week:
The change in church rules is controversial because the task force judging Love’s case justified their guilty verdict on the basis that same sex marriage services had been added as authorised prayerbook services, while Love points out that prayerbook revision had in fact been voted against at The Episcopal Church’s last General Convention (its church parliament).
Tsk,tsk, details, details.
Perhaps (ex) Bishop Love can draw some encouragement from across the pond in dear old Blighty, where the Anglican Church of St John’s Newland, in the city of Hull, recently led by someone I know, Melvin Tinker, got the savage wolf treatment.
Melvin has been an influential evangelical Anglican in the UK for decades, and is a great preacher and writer. The church he pastors has flourished. Which is all the more remarkable given the free-fall in the Church of England at the moment in the face of a rapid and increasingly hostile secularism.
But despite the fact the church is multi-ethnic, diverse, growing, full of young people, with a wide ranging congregation from all walks of life, the local Anglican powers that be were determined to stamp their rule on it. Given their disdain for Melvin’s biblical approach they made it clear that upon his retirement there would no room at St John’s for an evangelical, even though the clear successor to Melvin was his own evangelical associate.
Melvin is made of stern stuff. Melvin fast-forwarded his retirement to enable the church to come up with a strategy that would ensure its gospel centre held. He made the decision that it would give the Church of England back its building, and move en masse to a new site, and align itself with a budding network of churches that would refute the gospel of the Sexular Age, and refuse the oversight of the ecclesiastical wolves who endorse it. 550 people signed up to go with that network immediately.
Good luck filling those 550 seats, Anglican church, because if you’re determined not to try and fill them with the good news, then good luck is all you have.
Despite some cruelling in the media and a change.org campaign to get rid of Melvin, he persisted with the plan, and organised an early retirement to ensure it happened. Just like Bishop Love, Melvin chose to put his rights aside for the sake of the gospel. And he did so because he demonstrates what true love looks like.
In a recent article explaining the decision to leave, “When Going was necessary for Growing” Melvin made this observation:
The solemn task of the pastor to promote the kindness of orthodoxy and counter the cruelty of heresy is an onerous one. It requires diligent study and careful communication. It will draw opprobrium in a culture where ‘it is forbidden to forbid’ and the unholy trinity of pluralism, relativism and subjectivism hold sway so that truth, like beauty, is considered to be in the eye of the beholder. It will almost certainly be a barrier to ‘preferment’ in the established church.
Ah “preferment” – the siren call for all those who wish to advance in this age. But like Bishop William Love, and like Melvin Tinker, the challenge is the preferment of Jesus. The encouragement is to keep going until you hear “well done good and faithful servant” on the last day, from the only Judge who truly matters.