DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Wed May 30 01:14:36 EDT 2001
By Rev. Dr. Earle Fox
The similarities between the contention at Christ Church, Accokeek, Md,
(vs Washington, DC Bishop Jane Dixon) and the American colonies (vs
King Geo. III) are quite extraordinary. Fr. Sam Edwards has referred
more than once, for example, to the Bible as the "constitution" of the
Church under which we Christians all stand. The American constitution
is what guarantees due process, which is precisely what is being denied
by Jane Dixon.
Some of the press are describing Fr. Sam Edwards as a "defiant" rector.
That is not accurate.
For example, the American revolution was not really a revolution. The
colonials were fighting to *prevent*, not cause, the overturning of the
established order. Or it might be called a "conservative" revolution.
King George III was the real revolutionary - overthrowing the
established order of two centuries. It was he, not the colonies, who
was fomenting a new thing. The colonies had for nearly two hundred
years ruled themselves, in effect having their own parliaments. That
was the point of "no taxation without representation". They did not
want or expect to be represented in the English Parliament -- which had
no legitimate connection with them. They were subjects of the king,
not of parliament, and in that sense part of the empire. So they were
saying (a) that Parliament had nothing to do with them, and (b) that
the king had no right to change things from what they were (by royal
charter) without their consent.
Similarly, Christ Church (which lived through that earlier contest) is
saying that the diocese has no business or authority to take over their
property or beliefs or practices which they have had for nearly 400
years. They are not the rebels, Jane Dixon is. She is the one
changing the established order in violation of due process. Dixon is
the defiant one.
Those in authority are more easily able to create the illusion that the
subordinates are the rebels precisely because they are "in authority".
But the sham comes unraveled when one realizes that those in authority
are themselves under an authority higher than either side, to which the
subordinates can rightly appeal -- the constitution, the Bible, the
creeds, ultimately God. Sadly, it sometimes becomes a contest of arms.
I argue for the separation of powers in the church through uncontested
parish ownership of property -- as a balance to the spiritual authority
of the bishops and priests. We see in Accokeek how important this is
to the relationship between parish and diocese being one of freewill
covenant. Without parish ownership, the "freewill" aspect of the
covenant is badly compromised. Now that Dixon has seen that she cannot
win by slandering Fr. Sam, she is making the parish property the target
of her tyranny. Then she can get rid of Sam without slandering him.
What Dixon is doing is tyranny in precisely the same sense as that of
King George III. They both want to control their colonies, and will
use whatever means they can get away with to do so -- because they well
know that they will never win their case via honest due process.
Biblical Christians would do well to study the founding years of
America. The writing of our declaration and constitution was an act of
God, with lessons which we very badly need to learn for the life of the
Church. The same basic principles of separation of powers and due
process apply in both cases. They came right out of Scripture, English
common law, and the Reformation, not out of the secular side of the
Enlightenment (which produced the French revolution, Communism, and
Still, we can thank Jane for forcing the issue so that our side would
have to stand up. A diocesan bishop, Jack Iker, has declared,
"Enough!" and taken Christ Church under his wing. Deo gratia!
Dr. Earle Fox heads Emmaus Ministries and is based in Alexandria, VA
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