Saturday, October 08, 2011

Finding Lawrence a Griddle

Nobody should be surprised that the conservative Anglican blogosphere is ringing with the news that charges have been brought against Bishop Lawrence of South Carolina. The list of charges and evidence runs to sixty-three pages, and much of it is either obviously rubbish or represents a very curious perspective on the accusers. For instance, charges 9 through 11 are basically accusing him of associating with undesirables and holding views not in line with the progressive agenda; there's nothing wrong with this, not considering how the progressives came to power.

The most serious charges are the first five, which step directly up to the polity issues in the church today. These are what manifestly stand behind how many of the liberals understand the issue: they think that Lawrence intends to follow Fort Worth, San Joaquin, and Pittsburgh in leaving the denomination. That seems to me to explain half the reason for the timing of this, the other half being the Title IV changes which took effect in the summer and which set up the process for prosecuting Lawrence. The other half the reason, I am guessing, is that the course of legal decisions in the state is presenting the risk that the hierarchy up north might not prevail in a lawsuit over possession of properties; the strategy for preventing those losses, therefore, would be to place a bishop acceptable to the progressives on the throne preemptively.

The question of strategy inevitably leads to the question of who is pressing the charges, and while this is not being disclosed, all sign point back to the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, an AAC-style parachurch group which has strong connections to St. Mark's Chapel, a extra-diocesan church plant which Lawrence has refused to acknowledge as a mission (that's Charge 8). The congregation was started by a retired priest not resident in the diocese (thus protecting him from Lawrence's discipline), and it's not to hard to figure out that part of rationale is to devil the bishop in some manner, perhaps in the manner of making one of the present charges possible. At any rate there is a great lack of transparency, particularly as to the PB's participation. One of the complaints about the new canon is the poor process it presents, and indeed, if you believe various analyses, KJS is already supposed to have become involved by this point.

But one gathers, based on the history of these things, that process isn't going to matter much. After all, the deposition of Duncan proceeded in the face of lacking the requisite approval of the consulted bishops. Unless there is a major revolt by the moderates, Lawrence will be subjected to something of a kangaroo court and be removed, and the diocese is highly likely to leave anyway at that point. And as a lot of people have said, the church really cannot afford to lose the only domestic diocese that is showing substantial gains in membership and attendance.


The Underground Pewster said...

It seems like the die has been cast, but if +Lawrence is exonerated, what might the consequences be?

I guess the ball would be in his court at that point.

C. Wingate said...

I really cannot guess, having been wrong so often. What I'd like to think is that the progressives could be beaten back and forced out of their current positions of power. But that's too much to hope for now.

C. Wingate said...

It is a very good thing, however, that the attempt to depose him on the grounds of abandonment has failed.

The Underground Pewster said...

Now that he has been exonerated, I think we should keep our eyes open as to the consequences. I perceive such things dimly.