Skip to comments.Tolerance and Truth in an Intolerant Church
Posted on 08/16/2005 12:42:47 PM PDT by sionnsar
America's mainline denominations are in the midst of their greatest struggle for survival.
The lead candidate for death by a thousand cuts is the Episcopal Church USA.
The number of Episcopalians who practice their faith is about 800,000 (and dropping) and not the 2.3 million registered on the books. That figure declines almost weekly with fleeing congregations and priests who are either being inhibited and deposed, or people leaving in disgust at the promotion of an unbiblical pansexual agenda.
Furthermore people are starting to believe that something is rotten in the state of Denmark and it is not the smell of an acrid aristocracy, but an array of spiritually dead men and women dressed in purple who are leading them away from the one true gospel and toward a universalist 'faith' that is neither salvific nor truthful to the faith once delivered to the saints.
The departure from biblically-faithful doctrine is ruining ordinary parishioners and they perplexingly don't understand why, says the Rev. Dr. Earle Fox, priest, author and apologist.
The equally sad truth is that the vast majority of Episcopalians either don't care or don't know that their souls are endangered and they somehow believe that God's all embracing love winks at sin with a 'boys will be boys' attitude, while a presiding bishop espouses the notion that biblical standards for sexual sin, namely homoerotic behavior, doesn't fit the more enlightened and sophisticated minds of the 21st century. Tens of thousands of Episcopalians are sleep walking to a Christ less eternity.
It is a deadly combination of spiritual blindness and unforgivable ignorance. "People need the truth, some even want it, and they want honest discernment in detecting falsehoods," says Fox.
But whenever truth rears its head, the deep thinkers in ECUSA issue yet another "study commission" as they did in Nottingham recently with "To Set Our Hope on Christ" a grab bag of half-baked views on developing attitudes to human sexuality, marriage and appallingly bad theology.
In vaguely compelling language that begs for theological scrutiny, Frank Griswold told Canadian Anglicans recently, "Do not allow yourself to become so weighed down in self-judgment that you break free from the grasp of Christ's liberating love which sustains and upholds the universe, and overrules whatever sentence we may pass upon ourselves. "For freedom Christ has set us free," Paul reminds us and himself as well."
TRANSLATION: We won't talk about sin but "self judgment". We won't condemn those who live outside biblically proscribed sexual standards because that limits their self understanding and growth in maturity, never mind that tens of thousands of those who have practiced such behaviors now lie in shallow graves.
Griswold again: "The resurrection is not a static and an isolated event fixed in the past, but the unleashing of a power and force that takes the form of a death defying love. Resurrection is ever present, constantly accosting us, challenging us, stretching us, cracking us open and seeking to have its way with us in order that we might come to maturity in Christ."
This begs the obvious question, just how much "accosting", "challenging", "stretching" and "cracking" is their left in the Anglican Communion that is coming apart at the seams with some 22 Primates and archbishops saying they are no longer in communion with Griswold. What "death defying love" have they failed to appreciate that keeps many of them from "lovingly" taking Holy Communion with Griswold in Dromantine, Ireland!
The truth is; it is more accurately a death defining leap into the abyss with no eye to pity and no arm to save.
And even as The Episcopal Church and its leader faces opprobrium and rejection from the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches; the liberals and revisionists never stop giving up trying to legitimize their revisionist counterintuitive opinions. Their commissions, sermons and Internet listservs never deviate from their foreordained conclusions attempting to legitimize their views.
Concessions to orthodoxy, like DEPO, are done to appear tolerant, but tolerance comes with a iron fist when an orthodox priest or priests stand up and say that DEPO is empty of substance and does not mean alternative Episcopal oversight. DEPO is a slow hanging; AEO cuts the Gordian knot of an intractable problem, solved by a bold stroke. No revisionist bishop will allow it.
A tolerant church, like the Episcopal Church, has an obligation to be tolerant, except to those so intolerant that they themselves would abolish tolerance. The truth is tolerance has died in the Diocese of Connecticut, it has also died in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, and it will now be shaken to the foundations in the Diocese of Florida; is the Diocese of Texas next?
This week tolerance was stretched in the Diocese of Los Angeles when the courts ruled in favor of a parish, saying that it, not the diocese owned the parish property. But you can be sure that we have not heard the last of that and the bishop can still fight in two more state courts before he concedes anything. The battle is not over. He has promised to appeal. For Bishop J. Jon Bruno the buildings are more important than the faith. Ah tolerance.
We are repeatedly told by liberals that the embracing of difference and respect for diversity is the charism, the special spiritual gift, our Anglicanism manifests in every age.
In more recent centuries, this openness to diversity has been tested and tried in cultures widely different from one another. The issues for dispute have changed, but the essential commitment to inclusion and basic faith in a divine unity expressed in diversity have remained in tact, wrote the Bishop of Maryland, Robert Ihloff, recently.
But it is precisely that "basic faith" which is being called into question by revisionist bishops like Spong and Robinson that has undermined the very "unity expressed in diversity" Ihloff talks about.
Unity and diversity expressed by Anglo Catholics and Evangelicals within the Anglican Communion is one thing, unity and diversity as it is understood by say Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison and Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold is quite another. The very fact that five retired bishops will not sit down with Griswold and the President of the HOB Standing Committee to discuss why the went to Ohio is precisely because there is no unity in diversity, because the issues are about the faith not the canons and Griswold will not entertain that discussion.
What will the Episcopal Church do now that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) with which it has Common Cause, voted at its annual convention this past week to keep in place a ban on active homosexual clergy. The vote also let stand current ELCA policy that homosexual clergy must remain celibate! That's a real slap in the face at V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire. Will we hear calls for "unity in diversity" - not if the law of non-contradiction is still around.
The Episcopal Church is going in the wrong direction on this and many other issues and she just got a wake up call from the Lutherans. Will the ECUSA be found tolerant towards the ELCA now that it has rejected sodomy as incompatible with the received teaching the church and with the ECUSA now holding a minority position? The question might well be turned on its head - will the ELCA with its five million members bother with the Episcopal Church as they see it heading at gadarene speed towards the cliff edge? Episcopal leaders say God is doing a new thing with regard to human sexuality; the Lutherans just resolved that God has not changed His mind on sexually acceptable behavior. Is anybody listening at 815 2nd Avenue?
The Episcopal Church is in the midst of a great cultural war for its very soul. It is reflecting the culture at a time when it would appear that the culture is turning away from destructive habits that are deemed corrosive to the nation's soul.
To continue down this path will mean its eventual death no matter how many youth events it puts on to pump up interest in the church or trust funds they spend on public relations programs. The average congregation is 77 and the average age is somewhere between 62 and 66; churches are closing in nearly all liberal dioceses - in the case of the Diocese of Newark a third of them will close in the next few years.
There is much Internet chatter that Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana, an orthodox bishop will follow Frank Griswold as the next Presiding Bishop; if that is the case he will need to proclaim a clear, unalloyed message of gospel proclamation. But for many, however, it is all too late.
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