From the Rev. Dr. Ian Markham's Dean's Commentary on the VTS website, good food for thought on a Tuesday morning!
~ Rev. Peter M. Carey
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The overall theme of the Seminary for 2008/9 is ‘Orthodox and Open’. Along with the Veritas tag-line on banners that will be on display around the campus during our October 7-8 Alumni Convocation, we are witnessing to the broad theological identity of Virginia Theological Seminary.
Now this is tricky for Episcopalians. For many good reasons, we resist overt ‘theological identification’. To be Anglican, we explain to others, we share a liturgy not a statement of faith. We pride ourselves on our capacity to live with questions. We welcome the seeker who is less sure, as well as the evangelical who is more sure.
While all of this true, Episcopalians need to be clear that we are a conversation within a tradition of beliefs and practices. Our center around which we converse is Christian: we believe that the Eternal Word has been made flesh in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Given the truth of the incarnation, we recognize the triune nature of God. Our center is one where we worship the God revealed in Christ within community. Our center is one where we constantly relate our faith in God to the challenges facing the world.
The vast majority of Episcopal congregations, as well as the House of Bishops, recognize this center to our conversation: we remain an orthodox, Incarnational, and Trinitarian church.
Now we live in strange times. The word ‘orthodox’, along with ‘biblical’ and ‘evangelical’, are increasingly associated with a particular position on sexuality. At Virginia Theological Seminary, we trust that disagreements about sexuality take place within a wider understanding of the nature of God and God’s relations with the world. The discussion about sexuality is one that is taking place within the family, not a defining characteristic of the family.
So for this year, we are using the phrase ‘orthodox’ and ‘open’. We remain a bible-centered, Trinitarian, and Incarnational community. It is in that context that we are ‘open’ to the rich conversation that is taking place in our church. We are also ‘open’ to the full-inclusion of all who are sent by Bishops to study here. We are ‘Orthodox and Open’.
The Very Rev Ian Markham
Dean and President