Keller, worship, and truth, beauty, and goodness

New Warhorn Media post by Tim Bayly:

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I heard it put like this once, that “For the Jews, they believed in the beauty of holiness; the Greeks believed in the holiness of beauty”. And that is the key misbelief on show here, that beauty is intrinsicly holy. It isn’t.

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Having never heard of the Episcopal bishop Paul Moore, I looked him up. Some men’s lives are striking examples of spiritual ruin.

You can read the biographical summary on Wikipedia for yourselves, but Moore was said to have been the best known Episcopal cleric in the United States during his time. He came from enormous wealth and as a priest worked in impoverished urban areas where he honed his activism regarding housing conditions and racial discrimination. His first call was in Indianapolis in 1957 before he went to Washington DC in 1964 and finally New York City in 1970. He was the bishop who ordained the first openly lesbian woman (Ellen Barrett) as a priest in 1977.

He was married twice, losing both wives to death. His first wife was mother to his nine children. According to one source, none of his nine children were part of the church as adults. One of his daughter’s says her father was a closeted bisexual who engaged in many adulterous relationships throughout both marriages.

In 2018, when the Episcopal Church had its #metoo moment lamenting its role in prior sexual abuse and coverup, Bishop Moore’s name came up again. The current Bishop of New York Diocese went so far as to call Moore a “serial predator” with a long-time pattern of abuse against “priests, seminarians and laypersons in our diocese.”

According to the biography attached to his papers held in the Archives of the Episcopal Church, this section refers to the time period of the Phillippe Petit display and his desire to use the cathedral as a setting for art and dance:

As diocesan bishop from 1972 to 1989 and into his retirement, Moore continued his activism within the Church and in the political arena. He also found time to restart construction on the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, which had ground to a halt in 1941. With Cathedral Dean James P. Morton, Moore’s vision for the Cathedral gave it new life, and the space became a popular setting for music, dance, art, and cultural festivals. He was passionately dedicated to the vibrant life of cities, and was particularly influential in bringing a new civic attention to the plight of New York City during the worst of the urban crises of the 1970s.

For a taste of his own framing of spiritual matters, I’ll leave you with these wicked words from his final sermon:

I charge you to be free in your mind to push forward the boundaries of theology, to liberate your thinking from the dusty metaphysics of the past to a new dynamic of the Gospel, so that the vigor of its love invades the issues of the day.

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My favorite quote concering Episcopalians is from this profile of Moore that ran in the April 28, 1986 issue of The New Yorker:

STANDING OUT THERE ON THE ISSUES: PROFILE of the Right Rev. Paul Moore, Jr., Episcopal Bishop of N.Y.

By Jervis Anderson

April 20, 1986

Non-Episcopalians still tend to view the Church as a gathering mainly of America’s Protestant élite—“the Tory party at prayer,” as it has been called. If the view isn’t as valid today as it once was, neither is it entirely groundless. Old-family Episcopalians have traditionally regarded themselves as the nation’s economic, political, and cultural elect. When William T. Manning, a former Bishop of New York, was asked whether salvation could be found outside the Episcopal Church, he replied, “Perhaps so, but no gentleman would care to avail himself of it.” The old patriciate founded such élite prep schools as Groton, Kent, Choate, and St. Paul’s, and it was at those and other academies of the ruling class that they educated their children. Their influence at the higher levels of the national government has been disproportionate to their numbers in the population.

I might add the PCA is also better understood as a social class than a community of faith. It’s just that the social class isn’t as high as Episcopalians. It’s middle and upper middle class rather than upper class. Docs, lawyers, engineers, middle management, and thus its most trustworthy mark of identification is risk aversion. Witness their refusal to discipline anyone anywhere for anything. Those w/ears…

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@tbbayly
And not only in America. In New Zealand, the view back in the day was that the Anglican church “was made up of doctors and lawyers”, the Presbyterian church “was made up of engineers and accountants” - one of my best friends, a Presbyterian, was both! - and the Baptist church “was made up of office workers and factory workers”. The rural Open Brethren fellowships were made up of farmworkers. While things have moved on for our Baptists since then, the sociology of churches does explain a lot.

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My up close and personal observation of broadly evangelical American Protestants is that this aversion to discipline of the clergy anywhere for anything matches what was (and still is) the consistent pattern in these churches.

And the Romans are the same vis-a-vis their clergy, as Mankowski observed in his analysis of the sources of the sex abuses within the Roman clergy.

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Thanks much, John.

The video from Keller’s church can be found here Gayer Than the Kiwi Queen of the Fire Island Fruit Festival | Blog & Mablog.

Pastor Bayly, I deleted it by accident so reposted. We have a bunch of Keller fanboys at our church and I had been looking for it last week.

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