The number of bishops and standing committees opposing the bishop-elect of Northern Michigan continues to grow. And a short analysis of the votes suggests that the opposition is coming from the left and the right. (See below)
A spokeswoman for the diocese of Kentucky and provisional bishop of Fort Worth confirms that bishop Ted Gulick is casting two no votes, one on behalf of each diocese.
Earlier this week, Bishop James Adams of Western Kansas told me that he voted to withhold consent from Kevin G. Thew Forrester.
Adams said Thew Forrester’s “actions with the prayer book were beyond the pale” and are not allowed by church law.
He also expressed concerns with Thew Forrester’s Buddhist lay ordination (called a jukai). In that ceremony, Thew Forrester received a dharma name (Genpo, meaning “Way of Universal Wisdom”, wore a raku and agreed to follow a long list of Buddhist vows or precepts.
“His Buddhist vows, the precepts of Buddhism, are not in line with Christianity,” Adams said.
The bishop of Western Kansas also disputed Thew Forrester’s statement that it wasn’t God’s will or God’s plan for Jesus Christ to die on the cross.
Adams said he “absolutely” believes that the crucifixion was God’s will. “Jesus chose to give into his Father in the garden. He said ‘Not my will, but thy will be done.’ That’s pretty explicit to me. Of course you have to believe Scriptures. See, that’s the other thing. If you don’t believe what Jesus said about himself, then why are you a Christian?”
Asked if it’s heresy to teach that it wasn’t God’s will or plan for Christ to die on the cross, Adams said:
“Heresy demands a court. Heresy demands that a council of the church declare a heresy. But there have been certain heresies in the church’s history which have pretty much paralleled what this man is teaching. So I can’t say he’s a heretic, but on the other hand I’ll say that there have been heresies taught that are quite similar to what he is teaching.”
Also this week, a call to Honolulu confirmed that the Bishop of Hawaii has withheld consent.
The bishop of West Texas, the Rev. Gary R. Lillibridge is also a “no” vote, a diocesan spokeswoman confirmed today (Thursday, April 23, 2009).
The Rev. Don Wimberly, bishop of Texas and former bishop of Lexington, Ky. has also voted to not give consent, a diocesan spokeswoman told me on Wednesday. The diocesan standing committee also declined to give consent.
Meanwhile, the rector of Christ Church in Bradenton, Fla. reports that the standing committee in Southwest Florida has voted to withhold consent.
And the bishop of San Diego, James R. Mathes, has sent a letter to his clergy announcing that he, too, has decided to oppose Thew Forrester.
Writes Mathes: “At the heart of our faith and our baptismal covenant are the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I have come to a disquieting conclusion that Fr. Thew Forrester’s presentation of the faith is an offering devoid of our traditional understanding of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.”
The standing committee of Tenessee is meeting today, I am told, so a decision from Nashville could be coming shortly.
Through a staff member, the bishop of Alabama, Henry Nutt Parsley Jr., declined to say whether he’s giving consent, saying his vote is confidential.
The bishop of Fond du Lac told me he isn’t revealing which way he voted.
It may be that there are dozens of bishops lining up to support Thew Forrester, but they’ve been lying low this week. If any of them announce their votes, I’ll let you know.
Also this week, the head of the 2.9-million-member Assemblies of God said only an apostate church could consecrate Thew Forrester:
“The facts of the Christian faith are that Jesus is God’s Son, born of the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, died for our sins, rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is coming again. A Christian will agree with these facts. If a denomination or church is Christian, it will agree with these facts,” General Superintendent George Wood said. “If a so-called bishop does not agree with the central elements of the Christian faith, then he should not call himself a Christian, let alone a bishop – nor should a church ordain him. He is an apostate from the Faith; and a church that ordains such a one is also apostate.”
Meanwhile, an analysis of the vote suggests that opposition to Thew Forrester isn’t simply a matter of right vs. left.