Beliefnet
Bishop Robert W. Duncan Jr. of Pittsburgh, 55, is the de facto spiritual leader of conservative Episcopalians outraged over the consecration last year of Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire--a gay man in a long-term relationship. Once Robinson became a bishop, Duncan began helping to organize what he calls a "realignment" within the Episcopal Church and, by extension, the Anglican Communion. It is not yet clear what lies ahead for the Episcopal Church, but Duncan says he is sure that change will happen.

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Duncan said some of his earliest memories revolve around attending church in his hometown of Bordentown, N.J. The church was stable and reliable, a sanctuary for a boy whose home life often included beatings from his emotionally disturbed mother. In a society that he calls highly sexualized and confused, Duncan believes Robinson is clearly outside the moral bounds of the Anglican Communion.

Duncan recently sat down to talk with Diana Keough, a regular Beliefnet contributor who lives and works in Ohio.

How are you keeping your spiritual life in balance these days?

I keep up with my daily prayer life, and in particular, my time of morning prayers. I make a monthly retreat of 24 hours where I spend time with the community of St. Vincent's Arch Abbey, which gives me an opportunity to be with my spiritual director and confessor.

What are you praying about?

For my own ministry, for my family, for all the people who have been part of my walk over the years. I keep a monthly list and pray every morning along with all the standing prayers. A lot of my day-by-day prayers are about the present situation. I pray for those who are in opposition. I pray for those who see me as someone who's hurting them.I pray for the presiding Bishop of the church and the other Bishops who are on the other side.

What particular Scripture is helping you through this time?

Right now, I'm reading Genesis, Hebrews and John. The other day when we came to the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, there was the word about the patriarchs and those who set out by faith, and they knew they were aliens and exiles--those are wonderful passages for what we're going through There is a particular verse I was given when I was elected bishop--in fact, the same verse was sent to me by two different leaders who didn't know one another. It was I Thessalonians 5:24, which says, "He who called you is faithful and He will do it." I have great trust that anything that happens in this is going to be the Lord's doing, and not mine. I'm just trying to listen to Him day by day.

Why are you taking this battle so far?

The battle is about the authority of Scripture. It's about the basics of Christian faith. It's about sin and redemption. It's just so fundamental. The issues have to do with sexuality and morality, but at the very heart of it is whether Scripture can be trusted. In my experience I learned the one person I could trust was Jesus Christ and the only testament that was reliable was what was in Scripture. And I cannot let the Church, of all bodies, challenge the notion that you can't trust the plain meaning of Scripture.

Are you referring to what the conservatives in the Episcopal Church call "revisionism?" And if so, can you define revisionism?

A more ancient word for the same thing is "heresy." What's going on in this day and age (and, incidentally, it's not unlike other ages) is that this particular age has a notion that we're created good and we just need to be self-actualized. Well, all that is directly contrary to Scripture--it's heresy that doesn't require a Savior. But revisionism within the Episcopal Church has been going on for decades.

Revisionism in the Episcopal Church is to revise what's been received, and we've been in the process of revising a lot of things in the last 50 years, particularly relating to sexual morality. Matters like abortion, like remarriage after divorce and issues like sexual activity outside of marriage, including homosexual activity.

But why is this such a bone of contention now? Why are you taking action now?

It's the issue the culture presents us. Ours is a highly sexualized culture so it's not surprising that our particular failures have to do with the consequences of sexual immorality. And that's simply the issue on which the Church, under the influence of the culture, is at risk and why I have to speak out about it.

Many people are calling your actions divisive. Do you feel you're being divisive?

The question is, who is doing the dividing? Of course, we could keep silent, and then things would appear to be going on just fine. The ones who are divisive, I try to say, gently but regularly, are the ones who are doing the new thing. It's not the ones who are holding onto what has always been held onto by the church.

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