Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why the Episcopal Church needs Dan Martins as a Bishop

We need him as a bishop because Fr. Dan Martins, by every indication, loves God and neighbor.

"Oh, everybody does that."

No, we don't. Not in this polarized, theologically incoherent, ego polluted church.

We need Father Martins to be Bishop Martins because we need exemplars of Christian love in leadership positions. And we need leaders like that to look us in the eye and exhort us to obey Christ by loving others as we are loved. I think that John Tarrant's election as Bishop of South Dakota has some of this in it, and the church needs all it can get.

Fr. Martins loves in the way Jesus commands: by what he does toward, for and with those who are not like him and who don't necessarily care for him.

Most of us don't rise to the Lord's teaching. I sure don't. I'll be the first to tell you that what I feel for the single issue activists, functional atheists and "I'm too intellectual to believe in traditional Christianity" snobs who run the church doesn't rise to "love" and I won't lie to God or to them by proffering some vague, pious niceties. And their actions toward the church - their deceptions, manipulations and lawsuits being just a few examples - show that their speeches about love, inclusion, justice and such are empty words. A tree is known by its fruit, says Jesus, and our denomination's produce is toxic no matter how many "peace, love and justice" statements they hang on it.

For a blessed contrast, go to Fr. Dan's blog and read, in his own words, his joy at real gatherings in which diverse and conflicted church members come together in peace.

Recite again and again and again the fact that he left a diocese that was leaving the Episcopal Church - a diocese where he was in basic theological agreement with most folks and where he could have risen to poobah status. He chose to remain a parish priest in the Episcopal Church, fulfilling his ordination vows in a church that is at best condescendingly tolerant and at worst totally rejecting of his presence.

See and hear videos of Fr. Martins taking the trouble to state the positions of his opponents with accuracy and fairness.

Pay attention as he consistently rejoices in what is true, good and beautiful, and takes up debate with obvious sadness over the pain of the church.

He loves the church. He's not part of a single issue faction or a cult of personality. And we really, really need Christ-like people with that kind of love to lead the church and to represent it to the world.

Sinners, hypocrites and failures like me need that kind of love, because its power heals, corrects and inspires us. And ours is a denomination dying in sin, hypocrisy and failure. We need leaders who can heal, correct and inspire us with the power - not empty words but real power - of Christ's love.

4 comments:

David Handy+ said...

A fine tribute to a worthy man. I too am very pleased that Dan Martins was elected in Springfield.

And I too am willing to confess publicly that I'm not nearly up to Dan's level in terms of loving our enemies within the Church. In fact, I'm on record as saying some pretty nasty things about our ideological foes on conservative blogs like Stand Firm, things that might make you, Tim, look mild and restrained in comparison.

In ancient times among our Greek brothers and sisters, when a man was elected bishop (I don't know if it's still true), the people would show their consent by shouting "AXIOS!" Which means "Worthy!" And Fr. Martins is.

Alice C. Linsley said...

May he love God's Word also.

John Iliff said...

Fr. David,

Even today, across all the {Eastern} Orthodox communion of Churches, when a bishop is elected ... the people shout - literally - 'AXIOS!' An election is considered valid, if the Laos give this cry of consent.

I wait for the day when I can personally extend a greeting of 'Axios!' to our Bishop-elect Dan Martins.

John Iliff
Dio. of Springfield

Anonymous said...

Absolutely astonishing! To the comment about loving of enemies (people who think differently), my parents raised me with, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". So how do I put this? Now that he's been our rector at St. Anne's for three years or so...