Dr. Katherine Schori participated in a gathering in Atlanta in which she was a presenter on the topic of "happiness." A copy of her address can be found here. In a cursory glance at the text one paragraph stood out as quite strange.
Jesus’ ministry, his public work, is most essentially focused on feeding, healing, and teaching people – in that order. The goods of this world are essential to happiness and blessing. His contemporaries criticized Jesus for what was perceived as his inattention to the law. They charged him with being a glutton and a drunkard. Most of the alleged ways in which he violated religious law have to do with purity – not paying enough attention to who he eats with or talks to, or healing on the sabbath. His general response is that the law is made for improving human relationships (with God, self, neighbor, and creation) – and by implication, human happiness.
How on earth can she make the claim that Jesus' ministry was about feeding, healing, and teaching people - in that order? Any assertion of Jesus' ministry devoid of the atonement is a complete aberration, and is not the Gospel of the Christian faith. Jesus didn't have to become incarnate, to live and die as one of us, if He were simply a feeding trough, miracle worker, and moral teacher. What a complete and utter sham, and the very fact that she speaks on behalf of The Episcopal Church is a disgrace.
She goes on to say that the "goods of this world are essential to happiness and blessing." WHAT?! I guess that means that all of the monks and ascetics who ever lived, who have intentionally shed the goods of this world experienced no happiness or blessing at all. To read their writings would tell a very different story. Wasn't attachment to the goods of this world what led to the damnation of the rich man who asked Lazarus for a simple drop of water in his torment? Wasn't it the goods of this world that kept the man from selling all he had, giving to the poor, and following Jesus?
Dr. Schori has completely bought into the liberal theology that Reinhold Neibuhr criticized when he said those churches have produced, "a God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross." Abp. of Canterbury William Temple once wrote in his Readings in St. John's Gospel, "why anyone would have bothered to crucify the Jesus of liberal protestantism remains a mystery."
It would be so much easier of those of us who still acknowledge we are sinful and in need of a redeemer and saviour, who understand that true happiness comes not from the goods of this world, but the assurance of pardon and forgiveness, if Dr. Schori would simply be quiet and not put her ignorance of the Christian faith on a pedestal for all the world to see.