The Episcopalian Church officially concedes that God makes mistakes

My (perhaps simplistic) sense of post-Pagan monotheism, whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, is that God is all-powerful and all-knowing.  He is bigger than mere humans can comprehend and He works in ways too mysterious for human comprehension.  To the extent things are incomprehensible — whether evil, or deviations from the norm, or anything else that falls outside of perfect morality or physical perfection — those failures are either Satan’s work, man’s failings, or mysteries known only to God and beyond man’s limited understanding.

The Episcopalian Church, however, or at least a significant number of Church leaders, has added a new reason for deviations from the norm:  God screwed up.  Yup, it turns out God is fallible, which makes it a little unclear why we should bother believing in Him or following His laws.

On July 9, 2012, the Episcopalian Church officially banned discrimination against transsexuals.  I have no quarrel with that decision.  I believe in the marketplace of ideas when it comes to religion, as I do when it comes to almost anything else.  As long as your religion isn’t used to kill me, or doesn’t become a state institution dedicated to marginalizing, prosecuting, torturing, controlling, and/or killing disbelievers, “apostates,” converts, or those who have in some other way allegedly transgressed God’s rules as you understand them, I’m all good with the decisions a religious institution makes for its members.  If the congregants like the decision, they’ll stick with the institution and the institution might even add new members; if not, well, although God doesn’t have to compete in the marketplace of ideas, His institutions do and they may have to pay the price for doctrinal decisions that don’t work well in the religious marketplace.

So, as I said, if the Episcopalian Church wants to open its arms to transsexuals, that’s fine.  What makes the decision to do so funny is that, as one of those who opposed the proposal pointed out, those advancing this successful viewpoint about gender identity issues were explicitly arguing that God erred:

The Rev. Canon James Lewis, Deputy from South Carolina, said that while “gender identity and expression” may have meaning for the proposers, “to be honest I would be hard pressed to explain the boundary between identity and expression.”

“No explanation of these terms or a theological explanation has been offered,” he said, adding that the arguments put forward by supporters were incoherent and contradictory.  Canon Lewis said that the arguments put forward for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church was that as God had made them that way, and that God did not make mistakes, so the church should not exclude them.

However, the argument put forward by the supporters of the transgendered resolution said in effect that God had made a mistake when he made transgendered people, who by seeking surgery or other means to change their gender were correcting God’s error.

It seems to me that an official resolution that is predicated on God messing up sort of negates the whole God thing.  It’s one thing to revisit what He’s said and reinterpret it in different ways (making the Bible the religious equivalent of a Living Constitution), but doesn’t it take things to a whole new level to go out to ones congregants and say that God is as fallible as anybody else, and that it’s up to the Church to take proactive steps to shield individuals from the consequences of God’s errors?

You, my dear readers, are much more sophisticated and knowledgeable about theological matters than I am.  Am I missing something here?  Misinterpreting?  Misunderstanding?  Letting my inclination to snark get ahead of my textual reading and fairness?  Please weigh in.

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  • Danny Lemieux

    As an Episcopalian, I am sooo, sooo embarrassed by these culture-whoring idiots. I call myself “American Anglican” these days and pine for the days when giants like C.S. Lewis walked the earth. These church leaders are but pygmies rutting among lemmings.

    As my oldest friend, a very good and very wise Episcopal priest explained it, there was a day when the Roman Catholic church, too, was utterly corrupt. Yet it was the pressure of the Protestant churches and the loyal, observant Catholics within the Church that forced the Roman Catholic Church to reform itself and reassert its roots. So it must be with us Episcopalians. The U.S. Episcopal community is but a tiny slice of the worldwide Anglican community. These faux functionaries too shall pass and the Anglican Church (which is mostly African and Asian, these days) will stand like a rock.

  • Ymarsakar

    But narcissists consider themselves God. Too bad people forgot to read that blog in 2008 before casting their ballot.

  • Ymarsakar

    Remember what I said about the Communist party infiltrating a few thousand of their members into the Catholic Church for intel gathering and sabotage opportunities? Don’t think it was just the Catholic Church they were targeting.


  • Earl

    Good Luck, Danny!! I agree with you that if “earthly salvation” is possible for your church, it’s going to come via the “global south”.  And you’re not alone in that – my own church has “progressive” forces within it, and the strongest opposition is also coming from S. America and Africa. However, the American branch of the Anglican church appears to me to be a lost cause – is that simply lack of faith?  It makes me sad – I LOVE high church, and evangelicalism has (mostly) abandoned any sense of the transcendent in their (stupid, shallow, “wheeeeee!” type of) worship service.  (sigh)

  • Michael Adams

    I left the ECUSA four years ago, and joined one of the half dozen or so Anglican churches that are separated from ECUSA and have not bowed the knee to Baal. More American Anglicans are members of such non-ECUSA bodies than are members of ECUSA.
    Ymarsaker might be right to be paranoid, but a lower level of sabotage, i.e., the Cloward Piven strategy, is more plausible.  Raise a stink about one thing after another, and a church that was already weak, just crumbles, e.g. United Church of Christ, ECUSA, some Lutheran groups, United Methodists, although there are plenty of people still fighting the good fight in  that last one. ECUSA has lost so many members that they are selling off summer camps, Episcopal residences, nursing homes and hospitals. I pointed out, four years ago, that, although  they hold on to church properties tighter than barnacles,the real source of church wealth is not endowments, but faithful people putting in our two mites every Sunday. They did not need us, or so they thought. Now, they are having a fire sale, and stop laughing at the obvious jokes on that theme!

  • Charles Martel

    I often follow the antics of the pagans and gnostics who have wrested the helm of the Episcopal Church USA away from the Christians on a splendid little website called Stand Firm in Faith. The quality of writing and commentary there, as well as the theological sophistication of the commentators, reminds me a lot of the very high level of writing I run into here at Bookworm Room.
    I propose a solution to the seeming contradiction between the God-made-me-queer-He-wanted-me-to-be-this-way school and the God-made me-a-woman-in-a-man’s-body-whatta-honkin’-mistake school of genderality.*
    Since God is within all of us (and may well be us when you come to think of it), and since God loves us all just as we are, the Episcopalian leadership simply has to declare:
    —If you’re queer, God-Within-You is pleased that you have accepted your wonderful orientation.
    —If you’re transgender, God Within You not only loves you as you are, but understands that what you really are is what you want to be. Can there any greater gift than to have your Maker say, “Come in, sit down, and put on whatever set of genitals you want! I’ll go put the kettle on.” 
    (*Genderality is a Martelism that connotes what the word sexuality once connoted. But now that gender has replaced sex as a word fit for proper society, I offer this in its place.)

  • Caped Crusader

    Alas, the PECUSA has finally come to the same position as the Most Reverend Woody Allen, when he remarked in one of his movies over 20 years ago that, “when you see all the misery, squalor, and suffering in the world it makes me think of God as an underachiever”.
    What a shame and sadness that this formerly great and historic church has been wrecked, probably beyond repair, by a group of nihilist new age theological perverts and zombies. They must be either insane or willfully destroying the church. Surely they must see the empty pews and loss of revenue and realize their own livelihoods are at stake; so they must not care, and plan it’s destruction. They are servants of Satan, and not of God.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Naw, Caped Crusader. As Michael Adams pointed out, it has already begun its resurrection in the form of the American Anglican Communion, supported by our brothers and sisters fighting in the trenches in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

  • Earl

    The Presbyterian Church of the United States (PCUSA) is going through the same kind of thing – it’s been “captured” by the “progressives”, who are progressing away from Christianity toward some kind of hybrid of feminism, environmentalism, multi-culturalism, etc.  There’s a rear-guard of folks who want to stop the rot and save the church they grew up in, but mostly people are leaving for the PCA (A for America) and other groups that have popped up for the faithful.
    You can read about it here:

  • Caped Crusader

    Danny  #8.
    Certainly hope you are correct. But in my opinion schism in one form or another is the only answer; to break away and each go their own way and the problem solves itself. The libs don’t go to church and don’t give any money so they will collapse rapidly. Problem is the libs control the hierarchy and the long held assets, making schism very difficult since the orthodox must start over from scratch. Therefore it will probably just fade away into oblivion.

  • Kevin_B

    I’ll offer some of my thoughts. They are not nearly as good as the ones others can offer, neither are they all super-coherent, I’m afraid. I’m also not exactly steeped in theology and religion.
    First of all, I agree with Bookworm on the ‘religious marketplace’ thing. I’m leaning towards libertarianism and am also all for freedom of religion. As Bookworm states, as long as a religion does not seek to dominate or commit violence (the most notable exception to this of course being islam, which however I would say is NOT a religion, or at least sui generis as one), it’s beliefs and practices should be allowed.
    I firmly stand by the idea of the ‘marketplace of ideas’ and therefore think people should be allowed to adhere to whatever religious doctrine and practices they want to, or even make up their own in one way or another. However idiotic their beliefs may be. All of this, of course, within the borders of the law. Violence, animal or human sacrifice or using hallucinogenic drugs as part of religious practices are not permissible or acceptable.
    However, this also means you have no right whatsoever not to be criticized for your beliefs, or to have them come under scrutiny. People should have every right to say about your beliefs what they want, or even attack them – verbally, through speech, writing and such. As you have every right to criticize the beliefs of others.
    As I said, I know very little, if anything at all, on theology – but the view of God erring doesn’t sound to be on very firm theological ground to me. I guess different Christian denominations have different ideas regarding changing views and interpretations of scripture, but this seems to be going too far.
    Regarding the ‘progressives’ in church: I have definite quarrels with much of what they appear to be bringing in, like environmentalism (I am a conservationist, not an environmentalist), multiculturalism, cultural relativism, loony feminism et cetera. I must admit I have more mixed feelings about the ‘homosexual thing’, probably because I do not share the ‘classical’ christian view of homosexuality. I don’t know nearly enough to know how Anglicans/Episcopalians view this (Mr Lemieux?).
    Mr. Martel, I’m sure your joking with the proposed solution, right? 
    As for the schisms… sad as they may be, perhaps they are a consequence of this marketplace. I think there is a place for a lot of different views. But again, one has no right not to have their views come under scrutiny.
    On a side note, I’m neither Anglican nor Catholic, and I likely will never be, but I kind of like the architecture and artwork of Anglican and Catholic churches, and have seen some really fine examples of both churches/cathedrals and religious artwork here in Flanders and also elsewhere.


    A minor nitpick.  Episcopalian is a noun.  Episcopal is an adjective.  So it is the Episcopal Church, or TEC, or informally, The Church of What’s Happening Now.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Kevin_B, your command of the English language is awesome. Wish I could speak Flemish as well. Re. Christianity and homosexuality, there are many differing and conflicting views within the Christian churches and the Episcopal Church is no exception (despite the very pro-homosexual views of its functionaries).

    I can only speak for myself. I don’t think that God meant for people to be homosexual, but then, what do I know. The Old Testament certainly inveighs strongly against it (but then, I consider myself a New Testament Christian that believes that way too many Christians focus way too much attention on literal interpretations of the Old Testament). Nobody really knows why people are gay…there are probably many reasons for this. That being said, we are all flawed human beings and we need to focus more on our shared humanity than our specific sexual practices. Jesus spent much of his time on Earth loving the flawed among us, not stoning them. I have friends and family members that are gay and they are wonderful human beings. That’s how I prefer to look at them.

    However, I also believe that anyone, gay or straight, that makes their sexual practices the centrality of their life and personal identity is seriously imbalanced. I note, for example, that U.S. pathbreaking astronaut Sally Ride (may she RIP) was “outed” as being gay after she passed away. Apparently, her sexuality was her private business. Oh that more people, gay or straight, would keep it that way.

  • Earl

    Thanks, Kevin_B – and I second Danny’s remarks about your English…..or are you an expat just living in Flanders?  Anyhow, I agree with your approach, and I *am* a serious Christian (evangelical Protestant), just one who sees G-d as “the first libertarian”, Who explains to us how things are in the world He designed and what will happen if we depart from the “owner’s manual”.
    Despite what some are shouting, or saying calmly, the Bible does NOT condemn “orientations”, or even this or that “attraction”.  Dennis Prager is correct that it’s actions that take precedence.  The Bible condemns ANY sexual activity outside of a Biblical marriage – it makes no distinctions.  Had Christians been more faithful to Biblical teaching, we wouldn’t have the “crisis” in marriage that we do. But disciplining one’s self is much more difficult than pointing out to others where they’ve gotten off-track. 
    “Homosexuals” are sinners like the rest of us, whether they’re celibate or promiscuous.  Churches are “hospitals for sinners”, not “country clubs for saints” and all who seek to do the Lord’s will ought to be welcome there.  On the other hand, it’s clear that folks who are really there to disrupt proceedings or to undermine the church’s teachings, are trespassing and the group shouldn’t have to put up with them.
    I don’t expect this to go away anytime soon – as Danny points out, there are too many people whose sexual activities, and the political movement that has grown up around them, have become their real “religion”.

  • Caped Crusader

    Earl  #13
    Dittos ad infinitum 

  • Kevin_B

    I’m not an expat, I was born and have lived in Flanders all my life. I do have a bit of foreign blood, though (Spanish).
    Well Danny, I must say that I find your view very reasonable and actually deeply human. I cannot really anything bad in your views. I see nothing to take umbrage at here, whatsoever. I am also not too surprised to hear this from someone with a christian faith. I would be far more surprised to hear from, let’s say, a muslim – we all know what they like to do with those they don’t agree with. 
    Earl, I think the same largely goes for what you say. I may not agree, but I don’t see anything ‘bad’.
    I think I might agree with you on the ‘identity politics’ thing, Mr. Lemieux. I think I notice the same thing with some gay people (not all, certainly). While I do not expect people to necessarily keep their sexual orientation a total secret or never tell anyone they have a partner of the same sex (in short, never “out” themselves) if they so choose, I don’t like the rub it your face and politize it thing or, as you mention, the “central part of your life” aspect. I don’t expect people to keep such things totally veiled – but what belongs in the bedroom, I’d rather see it kept right there. I don’t really care much what consenting adults do in their bedroom.
    Regarding religion… while I believe in a ‘supreme being’, I do not or cannot, at least at this point, adhere to a particular organized religion. Part of that may be because I’m European, I don’t know. I am however, at least I think so, not necessarily hostile to religion – at least, most religions. I’m rather hostile towards islam – which in my opinion though, is not a religion, or as a religion is sui generis. It is very different from christianity – in character and in degree. I am rather tolerant of many religious expressions, but highly intolerant of those of the islamic ideology (like headscarves, bearded men in dresses et cetera, not to mention all the violence and savagery).

    I also admit, I may actually know more about islam than I do about christianity… because I studied it to know about it. I don’t know a whole lot about christianity, but I do think that, even if I’m not a religious christian, I have been influenced by it through ‘culture’. And I don’t think that’s bad at all.

  • Libby

    I’m fairly new to the Episcopal church (and I attend a particularly conservative, non-political church), but I agree with other Episcopalians above re: corruption of the church. I’ll just add my mother’s comment after the most recent triennial convention: “Well our church sure is obsessed with sex!”
    We were disappointed that for all of their claims of caring for others at the convention, that in these troubled economic times there was not more attention given to related issues, such as assisting the unemployed, the poor, the homeless, etc. This focus on sex-related topics crowds out the more important, more traditional role of the church. We were thinking this may be related to Obama pursuite of more government dependency – expanding food stamps, welfare, disability, unemployment benefits – which is replacing typical church-based/local community-based outreach organizations.

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  • shirleyelizabeth

    Coming in late to the conversation, as always…do forgive.
    I believe that each person had an existence before this earth life and will continue to exist after. To me, gender is eternal. Because of this belief I do not consider it right to try to change that.
    I can see, though, where Christians could try to justify accepting the practice. There are many people that are born with physical defects that we fix with surgery or other medical methods (though we tend to call them trials, not mistakes), sometimes even directly after birth. Could a gender identity be a God-given trial for someone and be intended to be fixed through our wonderful God-granted knowledge and advancements?
    As an aside, though not of that faith, my husband and I enjoy visiting the Episcopal Saint Andrews by the Sea whenever we are in San Diego on a Sunday. A beautiful building and congregation (and within walking distance of the sea, as the name suggests).

  • Charles Martel

    shirleyelizabeth makes a good point about the many conditions we correct with surgery. In the case of somebody born with ambiguous genitals, I can understand the desire to “assign” a sex to somebody so that they can live a decent life free of endless Am I this/or am I that? 
    But in the case of the people the Episcopalian Church is now falling all over itself to accommodate, you have no confusion about their sex. They plainly have either male genitalia or female genitalia. The treatment they should be seeking is psychiatric help, but it is forbidden in these politically correct times to say that the desire to go under the knife and be mutilated to fit a weird self-image requires therapy, not incisions.
    Johns Hopkins, which was an early pioneer in “sex-reassignment” surgery got out of the field after its practitioners realized they were dealing with extremely damaged people for whom no amount of surgical mutilation could fix their problems with sexual identity.
    The key to understanding the thinking of the Episcopal Church’s neo-pagan hierarchy is that by embracing every sexual deviation, it deflates the the opprobrium the church suffered when it consecrated Vicky Gene Robinson, an unrepentant adulterer and uncelibate homosexual, as a bishop in 2003. Simple sodomy now pales in comparison to the new aberrations God apparently is commanding Episcopalians to accept.

  • Earl

    Charles: I believe that Johns Hopkins stopped the surgical mutilation of people only when genuine professionals came in.  The original folks haven’t repented to any great degree – they remain committed to their “religion”, so far as I know.  Certainly John Money never recanted (, and he’ll have a lot to answer for in the afterlife. 
    Here’s the book by the first kid ruined by Money’s commitment to the complete mutability of sex roles…a terrible story:

  • Ymarsakar

    Being captured by the left… hrmmm now why does that sound familiar?

  • Ron19

    My son-in-law is a Wesleyan pastor.  The official handbook of his Church (which makes a strong recommendation for one particular recent (20th century) translation of the Bible as the best and most authoritative one ever) starts off with a long list of their predecessor Protestant religions, stopping at and not going further back than Henry VIII.  They do not acknowledge any precedence of the Catholic Church.  Instead, they started with a schism and proceeded through a number of schisms as the authority for their “fellowship” Christianity church, each schism peeling off and abandoning a bit more of what their religious forefathers gave them. 
    Danny  #8.
    But in my opinion schism in one form or another is the only answer; to break away and each go their own way and the problem solves itself.

    The schism cure has been tried, and tried and tried and tried tens of thousands of times.  Nobody seems to have gotten it right yet. 

    Why is the next schism going to be any better than the last one?

  • Ron19

    Caped Crusader #10:
    Problem is the libs control the hierarchy and the long held assets, making schism very difficult since the orthodox must start over from scratch. 

    It’s not really that difficult at all.

    A number of my friends and aquaintenances and relatives have simply gone down the street or across town to another already existing Church.  They didn’t have to finance, found, or invent anything.  They just looked around ’til they found somebody who agreed with them on their key issues.

  • Caped Crusader

    Ron19  #24:
    Were these churches across the street or across town the same denomination as the one you left? If so, what have you gained as to separating from the loonies, rotten apples, and the trouble makers in the hierarchy? If not, I believe we know a person is always free to join another religion. Increasingly it appears the only choices are Orthodox, Catholic (troubles aplenty of their own), or independent churches with little of no history of long term continuity, organization, scholarship, and are for the most part due to the charisma of an individual person (Pastor Billy Bob with fluffy hair, white suit, patent leather shoes, and wireless mile a “huffin and a puffin” across the stage), and do not survive his demise.
    Over 10 years ago, at my 45th college reunion, our class put up a website for each person to upload pictures, bio, etc. To a lesser or greater extent everyone is on a spiritual journey, or none at all, which is one, in and of itself. It was interesting to note that two who were most involved; one head of the BSU (Baptist) and another the Westminster (Presbyterian) House; both had wound up as Greek Orthodox (after several changes including RC); feeling they had found the most authentic and valid form of worship. I have great respect for Greek Orthodoxy but due to 2000 year Eastern Rite history, different saints, etc, “it just don’t speak to my heart (a little Baptist type lingo)”. I think most of us are most comfortable with that in which we have grown up. Those of us raised PECUSA, Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran have little choice. I think the PCA and Lutheran Missouri Synod are fairly orthodox while the PCUSA  and Evangelical Lutherans are as weird as the others. That is only my opinion, of course. But having taken a great deal of sociology 60 years ago under a fabulous professor, (when it was a science and not the PC Pablum of today), I know you cannot tear societal norms, traditions, and morays out by the roots suddenly without causing the massive confusion and upheaval we are experiencing today and are to suffer in the future.

  • Earl

    My brother just sent me an article that will assist in understanding some of this….it’s clear that the Episcopal church became “cut-flower Christians” some time ago……

    …(T)oday the Episcopal Church looks roughly how Roman Catholicism would look if Pope Benedict XVI suddenly adopted every reform ever urged on the Vatican by liberal pundits and theologians. It still has priests and bishops, altars and stained-glass windows. But it is flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.

  • Mike Devx

    Kevin_B #16: I don’t expect people to keep such things totally veiled – but what belongs in the bedroom, I’d rather see it kept right there. I don’t really care much what consenting adults do in their bedroom.

    I agree, Kevin.

    It bothers me sometimes when commenters here equate “gays” or “homosexuals” with either wild promiscuity or with the radical leftist gay agenda.  I can assure you there are any number of gays out here, including me, who aren’t wildly promiscuous and who have no interest in the leftist gay agenda.  I know I personally despise the leftist gay agenda.  Of course it bothers me when someone thinks that merely because you’re gay, you believe in this whole boatload of harmful leftist ideas and causes.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Earl #14: I don’t expect this to go away anytime soon – as Danny points out, there are too many people whose sexual activities, and the political movement that has grown up around them, have become their real “religion”.

    I agree that partly it’s their “religion”.  But it’s more than that too: It’s their JOB.  If they DIDN’T AGITATE daily over the particular cause du jour, what would they do with their lives?   The main reason I take no position on the gay marriage debate is because I consider the debate on the gay leftist side to be mostly fake.  It’s about fund-raising dollars, and keeping the money flowing in.  It’s about keeping their job.  If they WON the gay marriage debate today, right now, this evening – do you really think they’d declare themselves a success, fold up their tents, and go home?  Of course not!  No.  You’d wake up tomorrow morning, turn on the TV, and there they would be, yet again… but now they’d be agitating with just the same fervor, for cause #2.  Whatever cause #2 is.  Whatever the “next cause” on the list is.  They’ll NEVER STOP.  It’s all they know; it’s what they get paid to do; and if they ever stop agitating, the money stops flowing in.

    So while I personally see no problem with gay marriage itself, I have ZERO support for the gay marriage cause, because I consider it an utterly fake cause.

  • Charles Martel

    Mike D, you have always been honest and straightforward about who you are, and I doubt that any of the regulars here would ever lump you in with the radicals that we all—gay or straight—find so loathsome. It is a shame that all gays get tarred because of the radicals’ despicable leftist politics.

  • Ron19

    Mike Devx #27:
    “I know I personally despise the leftist gay agenda.  Of course it bothers me when someone thinks that merely because you’re gay, you believe in this whole boatload of harmful leftist ideas and causes.  Nothing could be further from the truth.”

    In the five decades I’ve been noticing anything about gays, especially self-proclaimed gays, this is the first time I’ve ever seen anything from them like your statement above.

  • Caped Crusader

    on 26 Jul 2012 at 4:54 am 12TREGONSEE
    A minor nitpick.  Episcopalian is a noun.  Episcopal is an adjective.  So it is the Episcopal Church, or TEC, or informally, The Church of What’s Happening Now.

    A good response, but do you not have this backwards?

  • SallyE

    It’s the Episcopal church, not the Episcopalian Church. People who belong to the Episcopal church are called Episcopalians.