Footnote 19 – Richard John Neuhaus, ed. Theological Education and Moral Formation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992), pp. 146-147.
Richard John Neuhaus was editor of the journal First Things, as well as the Encounter Series of volumes published by Eerdmans, of which this is Volume 15. Readers of this blog might also be interested in other volumes in the series, particularly volume 2 (Unsecular America) and volume 5 (The Bible, Politics, and Democracy).
Typically, each volume reports a conference in which four to six featured speakers delivered prepared addresses, following which those speakers and perhaps a dozen others joined in a panel discussion of the issues raised in the prepared speeches. This particular volume reports a conference at Duke University and offers some rare insight into the state of the denominational mentality in America, and I offer excerpts from three different sections of the round-table discussion for your amazement.
Philip Turner, Dean of Berkeley Divinity School, Yale University, speaking of the crisis of authority in the Episcopal church:
“My wife is a priest. In her diocese recently there was another priest who got into New Age channeling. One day she announced that her particular spirit had informed her that Jesus didn’t really die; he married a druid princess, and they had a little druids. This was the content of this priest’s teaching to a group in her church. The senior warden of the parish thought that maybe something was wrong, so he called the bishop. The bishop, bless his heart, told the priest that she had three choices: she could recant, she could resign her orders, or she could undergo a heresy trial. Well, the bishop is the one who took the flak, because the dominant reaction was, ‘We’re Episcopalians, so we can believe what we want, and a bishop has no rights here.’”