The Good News movement has a blog update about the Bishop Talbert complaint process. It has some facts and some musings about what “stage” the process is at because it is all private. However, look at the end:
Good News believes that, for the good of the church, this process must go forward with maximum transparency. At the very least, the fact that complaint(s) have been filed and any eventual resolution of such complaint(s) should be announced to the church.
Hahahaha. Hilarious. Wait, what’s so funny?
Good News is calling for a violation of the Discipline.
According to the complaint process (summarized version here), the process is confidential (like any HR complaint at any non-profit or business or even local church SPRC process) and accountable. It’s not a public process like Good News wants it to be:
¶413.3b: The supervisory response is pastoral and administrative and shall be directed towards a just resolution. It is not part of any judicial process. The supervisory response should be carried out in a confidential manner and should be completed within 120 days.
For those that need to know our terminology, “should” is one step down from “shall” and isn’t considered to be a recommendation. “Can” is the term for permissive choice. Furthermore, 413.3c continues to depict confidentiality as part of the process, as third-parties are invited in after agreeing to confidentiality, and at the resolution of complaints all parties agree as to “what information is sent to third-parties” and public sources.
Having an open process is not part of our polity. For people that so enjoy rigid interpretation of the Discipline (regardless of how many ways people don’t uphold the Discipline literally), this is an ironic (or even hypocritical) request.
But that’s not the hilarious part. In addition, Good News’ appeal is not to the letter of the polity but to the Bible. From the post:
The public nature of the offenses, announced in advance and well covered by the media, requires a similarly public response from the church (see I Timothy 5:19-20). Such transparency is needed to help church members have confidence that the bishops have kept their promise to uphold the Discipline and hold each other accountable.
The call is to be obedient to the bible. Huh. Where have I heard that before?
Biblical Obedience is Bishop Talbert’s rallying hermeneutic, which calls for us to be obedient to the Bible even when it is in conflict with our Book of Discipline. It calls for us to violate the Discipline when we know (and have accountability structures that support) that the Gospel calls us to do something more. The focus is on pastors offering weddings for same-gender couples even as our polity restricts such actions.
While Talbert’s concept is more fleshed-out than Good News’ calling for obedience to 1 Timothy rather than the Book of Discipline, it is refreshing to see that even the Good News movement supports biblical obedience when the polity of the church gets in the way.