Est. May 2008

23 May, 2013

‘A grand ceremonial garment’

Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, gave a sermon down in Curacao for which she’s been rather roundly vilified (see here, here, here, and in the comments found at the first link) for her eisegesis of Acts 16, which one commenter called,  ‘This is quite possibly some if the most delusional exegesis I’ve ever read in my life.’

Rather than rehash the vilifications (with which I am in wholehearted agreement, by the way), I wanted to focus on something she said not much later.

Ms Jefferts Schori said:
The glory we’ve received is something like a grand ceremonial garment, maybe even a shining face like Moses’, that says to those around us, “here comes the image of God.”  The world begins to change when we see that glorious skin shining on our brothers’ and sisters’ faces.
There are many commentators who’ve noted that when Paul spoke of Moses’ glowing face (in 2 Corinthians 3) and Moses’ veiling of said glowing face (see verse 13), that veil wasn’t so much protection for the Israelites and their sensibilities and fears but that the veil was used in order to cover up the fact that the glory Moses carried was diminishing all the time; a comment from the Reformation Bible, for instance, says this:
Some think that Moses’ veil was to protect the Israelites from being harmed or frightened by the brightness. More likely, the veil was to keep them from seeing that the glory was fading away because of the temporary and inadequate character of the old covenant (Ex. 34:29–35). By contrast, Paul needs no veil, for the glory of the new covenant ministry does not fade away.
Furthermore, Ms Jefferts Schori’s comparison of our received glory as ‘something like a grand ceremonial garment’, in conjunction and comparison with Moses’ facial glory (which kept fading away), is, to me, more than a bit troubling.

Paul certainly indicates we are to put on the ‘new man’ and clothe ourselves in Christ’s righteousness, but to my knowledge Paul nowhere compares this ‘clothing’ with a ‘ceremonial garment’ which implies something that’s put on for special occasions and then is taken off again, such as the Old Testament’s priestly robes.  But in 2 Corinthians Paul is writing about a kind of righteousness that isn’t removable – it comes from within us when we accept Christ and believe in Him, and that acceptance and belief will make us glow from the inside, not like Moses who only glowed on the outside.

I cannot imagine that this is what the Presiding Bishop truly intended to convey; however, you know a tree by its fruits, and it certainly seems that this Presiding Bishop, along with a great many of the spiritual leaders within the Episcopal Church, put on their ‘ceremonial robes’ of Christianity for special occasions.

Like trumpeting homosexuality, climate change, and other forms of idol worship.

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