Presiding bishop preaches in Curaçao, Diocese of Venezuela
The wisest man recorded in Scripture once spoke of the best of perfumes being spoiled by a single dead fly. It is that impression I get when reading this sermon preached in the Diocese of Venezuela by none other than the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.
This is part of the text from Acts 16:16-34:
"...With Paul and Silas, we came to Philippi in Macedonia, a Roman colony, and, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of divination. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, "These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation." She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour. But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, "These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe." After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely..."This is the proposed interpretation...
“But Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness. Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it. It gets him thrown in prison. That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so!,”What was that? I had to read this several times to come to terms with what was being communicated here! Is this one of those foot in mouth moments or something else?
We know very well that pastors, including bishops are certainly not infallible, specially in their homilies. However clergy certainly aught to be a bit more careful with their exegesis. This has got to be one of the most bizarre and objectionable interpretations of a Biblical text I have ever heard...!
I admit that in reading the whole sermon, there are things which are well written, and that ideas espoused in its text speak to my sensibilities! However the treatment of this particular passage of Scripture, a classic story of oppression, deliverance, persecution and faith, is totally appalling!
For all the hoopla about how those who come to our churches not needing to leave our brains at the door...looks like some people actually did! How can someone reading this passage seriously, call spirit channeling and demon possession, a gift of spiritual awareness, good, holy, and participation in God's nature?
With all the criticism we Episcopalians already get from other Christians for the progressive stances of some in our family this is certainly unneeded attention! Maybe we need to take Scripture in its plain meaning a bit more seriously and demand our teachers explain themselves when they contort the Bible's meaning simply to make a point!