Skip to comments.Fleeing the Madhouse [ECUSA]
Posted on 05/31/2005 8:00:32 AM PDT by sionnsar
I am myself convinced, Ephraim Radner stated well over a year ago, that we are not really dealing simply with error and false teaching within ECUSA. Rather, we are dealing with something akin to madness.
I can think of no better diagnosis of the present Episcopal Church than that offered by Dr. Radnermadness! What else can explain a church that abandons its foundational theological principles and giddily jumps off the ecclesiastical cliff in an act of spiritual and institutional suicide. Like the early Bolsheviks, our Episcopal revisionists really do believe in their revolution. Man the torpedoes! Full-speed ahead! Consequences be damned! Viva la revolucion! Whatever the cost, no matter how many members are driven away, no matter how many congregations may be forced to close, no matter how many faithful priests are compelled by conscience to renounce their orders, no matter how many canon laws must be twisted and abused to rid the church of clerical dissenters, the revolution must succeed. These guys sincerely believe they are are doing the work of the Holy Spirit. They are true believers. To quote the Blues Brothers, Were on a mission from God! All attempts, therefore, to effect a negotiated reconciliation within the Episcopal Church will and must fail. Two very different religionsat least two!now inhabit one institutional body.
Fourteen years ago, I and five other priests issued a summons to the Episcopal Church to return to biblical orthodoxyThe Baltimore Declaration. We believed then that the bishops and priests of the Episcopal Church had lost their hold on the twin defining truths of Nicene faith(1) that Jesus is God, of one substance with the Father, and therefore is the definitive and final revelation of deity; and (2) that this Jesus, through his atoning death and victorious resurrection, is the divinely ordained and exclusive mediator of salvation. A month later I wrote in the Living Church that the Episcopal Church was in the midst of a crisis of apostasy. A fellow cleric in the Diocese of Maryland angrily confronted me, You accused me of being an apostate! Eddie, I replied, I wasnt speaking about you personally. I was speaking about Episcopalians who do not believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. (What I wanted to say to him was, If the shoe fits ) I dont think he was mollified.
A lot of theological water has now passed under the bridge. It is now common for Episcopalians to uncontroversially state that there are many ways to God and that Jesus is but one savior among many. The gospel of Christ has been replaced by an insidious counterfeitthe ideology of radical inclusivity. The three sacraments of this ideology are abortion, the blessing of same-sex unions, and open communion. As an institution, the Episcopal Church is no longer in a crisis of apostasy; it simply is apostate. Of course, there still remain faithful orthodox believers, congregations, and even some dioceses; but the war for orthodoxy in ECUSA has been lost. The House of Bishops, the ECUSA bureaucracy, the seminaries, and the majority of parish pastors have all embraced the false gospel of radical inclusivity. Episcopalianism has become an effete high church unitarianism. Episcopalians today worship a very different God than the God Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To all who still believe we are called by God to stay and fight and recapture the institutionwake up and smell the coffee! ECUSAs madness is Gods judgment upon it. God is not going to save the Episcopal Church as an institution. He has lifted his restraining hand and is now allowing it to follow its own sinful desires into lunacy and dissolution.
The Anglican Communion Network is still hanging on for two miracles to occur in the next three years. Miracle #1: The Archbishop of Canterbury will recognize the Network dioceses as the authentic expression of Anglicanism in the United States. Miracle #2: American courts will recognize this judgment and allow the Network dioceses to leave ECUSA whilst keeping all of their assets. (There are even some who dream that the courts will rule that all ECUSA assets now belong to the Networktalk about moving mountains!) Both miracles are possible, though I cant imagine either as being probable. But if God can separate the Red Sea, I suppose he can move +Cantuar and state judges to see things the Network way. But let there be no mistake, ECUSA will not freely let go of one penny, one building, one square foot of property. It will buy the best lawyers and avail itself of every legal remedy. Its possible that the Network might eventually prevail, but only after years and years of litigation and millions of dollars spent by both sides. And lets not forget that any Network bishop who attempts to dissociate his diocese from ECUSA will no doubt be tried by the House of Bishops and removed from his office.
But does the possibility of legal victory, no matter how unlikely, justify risking the spiritual lives of our children and parishioners, not to mention our own souls? The Episcopal Church does not claim to be the one and exclusive Church of Jesus Christ in the United States; therefore an unconditional obligation to remain and fight to the last man does not exist. We are a Protestant denomination, and a member of a denomination is always free to leave its company if it betrays the gospel.
Last November I came to the conclusion that it is the moral duty of every Episcopalian outside of the Network dioceses to flee! I did not issue such counsel lightly then nor do I issue it lightly now. I know that many of my readers took umbrage at my words, and a few wrote me privately and rebuked me. But I cannot help that. Its what I believe. Orthodox believers can no longer afford to keep their heads in the sand. It is time to look clearly at diocesan and parochial reality and acknowledge that ECUSA has bent the knee to Baal. We can no longer pretend that our ecclesial world ends at the borders of our tiny congregations. Whether we like it or not, each Episcopal parish is part of and is the Episcopal Church. At this moment, every Episcopalian is in sacramental communion with Frank Griswold, Jack Spong, Bill Swing, and Gene Robinsonjust name your favorite heretical bishop. Funny thing about sacramental communion. Its utterly objective. As long as my bishop is in communion with these guys, so am I, regardless of my personal opinions and preferences. I may privately believe that Griswold & Company are teaching heterodoxy; I may whisper to myself, and perhaps even to others, that I am not really in fellowship with them; but the act of remaining in eucharistic communion with heretics objectively declares the opposite! Holy Eucharist is a public act. It presumes and proclaims a common faith; it boldly states that we mutually affirm each others theological beliefs, that significant, church-dividing differences do not exist between us. It expresses and embodies unity in the catholic faith. A thousand miles may separate us; but there is only one one faith, one baptism, one Eucharist.
After I wrote my Fly, you fools article, some readers asked if I was not contradicting myself by excepting the Network dioceses. Thats a hard question for me to answer. I admit the possibility that my admiration for Robert Duncan and Edward Salmon may be influencing my judgment. I honor what they are seeking to do. I also understand the politics of excommunication and why the Network bishops have decided to remain in communion with the Griswold Church, pending the future judgment of Canterbury and American court decisions. But I submit that precisely this failure to confront heterodoxy in the 80s and 90s has led to our present disaster. Several years ago I was riding in a car with a solidly orthodox bishop who asked me Al, if you were in my shoes, what would you do? Bishop, I answered, I would cut off all funding to 815 and I would sever communion with all bishops who have publicly departed from the catholic faith. I also explained what severance of communion entailed: clergy and laity of his diocese would no longer be permitted to receive communion in the excommunicated dioceses, and members of the excommunicated dioceses would no longer be permitted to receive communion in the parishes of his diocese; moreover, priests from excommunicated dioceses could no longer expect to transfer willy nilly into his diocese; some kind of certification of orthodoxy would be required and perhaps even conditional ordination. Needless to say, the good bishop did not heed my counselwhich is why he is a bishop and I am a lowly parish priest.
The words Elijah spoke to Israel are now spoken to all of us in the Episcopal Church: How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.
For me personally, the burden of being in the Episcopal Church is directly related to my role as a priest and pastor. I cannot in conscience summon sinners into the fellowship of the Episcopal Church, nor can I in conscience teach or defend what appears to be the new orthodoxy of the Episcopal Church. Here the question of authority bears most heavily upon me. By what authority do I declare that what I teach is in fact the revealed Word of God? For twenty-five years I have been teaching a modified form of Anglo-Catholicism, with a dash of Luther, Robert Jenson, and T. F. Torrance. Yet not only is my personal concoction of the catholic faith not taught by 99% of Episcopal priests, it also lacks definitive Anglican authority; it is just one opinion among many Anglican opinions. Why should my parishioners take my teaching with any seriousness? My rectorial predecessors at my former parish didnt teach many of the things I do and most likely my successors will not teach them either. The fact is, Anglicanism has comprehended a wide range of ever-changing beliefs since its inceptionfrom Calvinism to Latitudinarianism, from Anglo-Catholicism to modernism. My catholic version of the faith is simply one option in the Anglican cafeteria. It can claim no more authority than the now dominant inclusivist ideology. And this is intolerable. And it should be intolerable for every priest out there who has a catholic bone in his body!
I do not believe that the Episcopal Church is a safe place for those who would be formed and nourished in the gospel. Ours is a denomination determined by the private judgments and theological insanities of its members. Do we want to raise our children as Episcopalians? The question is most acutely felt if one lives within a revisionist diocese. How do parents explain to their children that We are Episcopalians but we disagree with everything the Episcopal Church teaches and therefore we do not want you attending any diocesan functions nor are you permitted to visit any other Episcopal parish, unless we have previously investigated the orthodoxy of its rector. Parents need to confront the reality that by the time their children grow up, there will not be an orthodox Episcopal congregation anywhere that will be safe for them. Hence Episcopal parents find themselves in the untenable position of raising Episcopal believers whose future church affiliation will (hopefully) be non-Episcopal.
Those within Network dioceses are of course hoping that a viable alternative Anglican entity will be created in the next few years. Whether this is likely to happen or not, the bookmakers must decide. Last September I offered my own prognostications on the future of Anglicanism in the United States. I remain confident in them. But even if the Network is able to secure some independence from ECUSA, I know that it cannot be a viable alternative for me personally. As a priest and pastor, I must be confident that the Church I represent is indeed the true Church of Jesus Christ. I must be in a Church ruled, not by private judgment and Anglican compromise, but by Holy Scripture, the dogmas of the Catholic Faith, and the lucidity and life of the Holy Spirit. I must be in the Church.
Episcopalians today worship a very different God than the God Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Right now we worship "Sally" the HOly Spirit, and the god of Esther, Ruth, Leah, Eve, Jezebel and every other woman in the OT
I am glad this fine, principled gentleman is supporting the barque of Peter!
In contrast, there is nothing but good news in my local Orthodox community. This is despite the continuing horrible situation in Kosovo and Bosnia. Maybe Episcopalians and Lutherans need to be bombed or attacked by islamist terrorists to jolt them back into their senses!!!!
By the way, the ECUSA's and ELCA's theology of the Holy Spirit is cockeyed. You don't find the Holy Spirit by chasing out in the world looking for him. We Christians bring the Holy Spirit to the world!!!! (Consult the Scriptures, or the Augsburg Confession, or the Church Fathers East and West], etc. if you don't believe me.) And the Spirit is NOT "Sally", but is addressed as he, as with the other Persons of the Trinity!!!!
Kimel is doing the right thing and understanding his experience and mindset, "swimming the Tiber" is the best course for him.
He announced a couple of weeks ago that he will.
May I propose a better diagnosis. Not madness, but evil.
What else? How about Matthew viii:28-32.
I agree. "Madness" is way too charitable, for it exonerates the sufferer from responsibility for his actions.
These heretical bishops know what they are doing, and it is intentional. They are perpetrators, not victims.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.