Back in 2004 or so, I was visiting Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. I was checking out some interfaith worship spaces there for research and attended a Sunday morning worship service. It was ... interesting. If I recall correctly, the text was Matthew 15, with the story of the Canaanite woman. The sermon, as has become a trend in recent years, was all about how Jesus was xenophobic.
Being that I come from a faith that confesses Jesus is the perfect Son of God, I found the sermon blasphemous. But to my credit or shame, I sat silently and took notes in my reporter notebook (my job at that time was not to discus theology but just observe).
So the next day I ran into the rector or some such and told him I'd been at services the day before. He began profusely apologizing and I was about to thank him when I realized that he was apologizing because, he said, the lighting in the sanctuary was not functioning properly.
Which brings us to the May 12 sermon delivered in Venezuela by the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church. When I read the initial reports of the sermon, I was sure someone was taking it out of context or had misunderstood what she was getting at. But you can read the entire sermon on the church's web site. It was not taken out of context.
The top of Anglican Ink's story on the matter:
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has denounced the Apostle Paul as mean-spirited and bigoted for having released a slave girl from demonic bondage as reported in Acts 16:16-34 .
In her sermon delivered at All Saints Church in Curaçao in the diocese of Venezuela, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori condemned those who did not share her views as enemies of the Holy Spirit.
I have two thoughts. One is how fascinating it is that this week we saw the media flip out over Pope Francis' belief in the reality of Satan. Isn't it interesting that the Pope being Catholic is cause for huge headlines while Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's full-throated rejection of St. Paul's exorcism of demons doesn't generate a single story in the mainstream press?
My second thought is more general. Later in the sermon she says:
We live with the continuing tension between holier impulses that encourage us to see the image of God in all human beings and the reality that some of us choose not to see that glimpse of the divine, and instead use other people as means to an end. We’re seeing something similar right now ... as many people come to recognize that different is not the same thing as wrong. For many people, it can be difficult to see God at work in the world around us, particularly if God is doing something unexpected.
OK, so different is not the same thing as wrong, fair enough. I'm curious, though, on what basis does she decide that views different from hers are wrong? She's definitely condemning the views of people who disagree with her, but I'm not quite sure what the basis for the condemnation is. Can you help me out?