My astute brilliance was picked up by Susan Russell today on her blog, An Inch at a Time. She is appalled at my expressed opinion that Don Armstrong should have consolidated his power base by either not hiring people who disagreed with him or firing them afterward. Well, maybe not appalled. It just affirms what she already knew, how evil, power hungry and hypocritical we conservative/reasserters are.
I'm very tired, unfortunately, having cut the hair of my three children and bathed them and put them to bed, so I'm having a pathetic time organizing my thoughts into a pithy and theologically sound reply. However, two vague thoughts have arisen in my cloudy mind.
One, power exists in the church. Surely Susan Russell should know this. She is a priest in a large parish in California. I won't brook the idea that she doesn't exercise power in her own church. AND, certainly, the goal of Integrity, as an organization, has been to lobby, consolidate, build support, indeed a power base to achieve a specific goal-the 'full inclusion' of non celibate GLBT people in all orders of the church. Part of the problem has been that the orthodox in TEC haven't, the past 50 years, played the power game. They didn't bother to go to General Convention, to be on Diocesan Commissions on Ministry, to do the boring politicking that is required to achieve political goals in the American church. Only recently have these same orthodox woken up in shock and realized how far the church has drifted from the gospel.
Which leads me to my second vague thought. That it is not about mere raw secular power, it is about authority-Kingdom Authority. The main reason to be careful about who you hire is because, if they are going to exercise ministry and authority in the church, that means they are going to have an influence on the souls of your congregation, in teaching, preaching, pastoral care. And if the person you hire doesn't faithfully adhere to the gospel, you don't want them near your people. Because teaching and preaching has eternal consequences. You're either leading people towards God in Jesus Christ, or away from him. And TEC at this point, is preaching a different Gospel, Susan Russell included. So I wouldn't hire her.
And I would be willing to put a few pennies down that she wouldn't hire me either, or Matt. Why? Because she thinks we're teaching and leading people astray. And she wouldn't want us corrupting her people. For this I don't for a minute think Ms. Russell is evil or bad. I think she's doing what she believes best. She's wrong, of course, and I pray for her. I encourage you also to do so.