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The Rev. John Yates: "Discernment and Holy Communion"
Prydain ^ | 11/17/2006 | Will

Posted on 11/17/2006 4:35:13 PM PST by sionnsar

It is my understanding that the vestries of Truro and the Falls Church have voted to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church, as per this report from the BabyBlue blog. After reading this sermon by the Rev. John Yates of the Falls Church, I cannot see how they had any other choice. This sermon is truly a powerful proclamation of Biblical truth, and Rev. Yates certainly does not hold to the same view of the Gospel as the new Presiding Bishop, as this excerpt shows:

We have a new presiding bishop – you can read all about her in today’s Washington Post and Washington Times. I’m sure she’s great person in many ways. Time Magazine recently interviewed her and asked the question, “Is belief in Jesus the only way to get to heaven?” Let me tell you what our chief bishop said. She said, “We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box.” Now this week, she had an opportunity to clarify. She was interviewed by NPR. The NPR interviewer said, The NPR interviewer said to her, “I read that [Time interview] and I said, “What are you: a Unitarian?!? What are you – that is another concern for people, because, they say Scripture says that Jesus says he was The Light and The Way and the only way to God the Father.”

Let me tell you what she said. She said, “Christians understand that Jesus is the route to God. That is not to say Muslims or Sikhs (or others) come to God in a radically different way. They come to God through human experience, through human experience of the divine. Christians talk about that in terms of Jesus.” And so the NPR interviewer said, “So you’re saying there are other ways to God.” And she said, “Human communities have always searched for relationship which is beyond them with the ultimate, with the divine. For Christians, we say that our route to God is through Jesus.” She hesitates, “That doesn’t mean that a Hindu…” she hesitates, “doesn’t experience God except through Jesus. It says that Hindus and people of other faith traditions approach God through their own cultural context. They relate to God, they experience God in human relationships as well as ones that transcend human relationships and Christian would say those are our experiences of Jesus, of God through the experience of Jesus.” The interviewer said, “It sounds like you’re saying it’s like a parallel reality, but in another culture and language.” And she said, “I think that’s accurate. I think that’s accurate.”

Now friends, this sounds really good. It sounds thoughtful; it sounds open, humane, kind, unassuming. Any pathway to God works, one works as well as another. The trouble is, friends, this is not Christianity. This is universalism. It’s not Christianity. And in spite of all the beautiful and orthodox language in our Book of Common Prayer, more and more of those who read it aloud in worship no longer really believe it. Listen to the language as you go through the rest of the service today. The Episcopal Church declared in the 1990s a decade of evangelism but actually lost thousands, hundreds of thousands of members during the decade of evangelism. Do you know why? Because the Episcopal Church doesn’t really believe in evangelism any more. If one way is as good as another, then why try to convince others to follow your way. And so what happens is that now, not just many Episcopalians, but many mainline denominational folks come to Holy Communion, participate, receive the elements, but in actuality don’t believe that Jesus is the truth, the Savior of the world. They believe he’s one way among many and they wouldn’t want to put God in such a small box, as Mrs. Schori said. One member of our vestry said to me this week, “John, that awfully small box of which our presiding bishop is speaking is the gospel.”

Now according to this new way of thinking, the apostles were wrong, the church fathers were wrong, the reformers were wrong. They were all guilty of putting God in an awfully small box and Jesus himself must have just been wrong about this or else he’s really misquoted in the Bible because of the scores of times he refers to himself as the unique way to God. These are the two issues on which this whole current denominational controversy is based: the authority of scripture—is the bible true, and secondly, the unique exclusivity of Jesus Christ. All the hubbub about sexual sin, it’s not unimportant. But these are the two cancers that are consuming the life and the health of our denomination. Now the reason I said a minute ago that I was afraid, is that I believe to receive Holy Communion when I have not really submitted to the unique claim of the gospel is the spit in God’s faith. If I don’t need a savior, then why did God send his son to the cross? He’s up there on that cross looking down and saying, “If I didn’t have to do this, why am I up here?” Would you, if you were God, would you do that to your child if there was another way? If this is true, all the saints and martyrs died for the faith and the gospel in vain, needlessly. I want to be as clear as I possibly can. Jesus did not say, “I am a way to God, but you know, if you’re from Rome, you might be happier worshiping Diana in the temple down the street. More power to you.” He didn’t say that. His claim is to exclusivity. Now I know that some of you are not hearing what I am saying with a lot of comfort. (It would be awful if everybody in this church agreed with me completely. I wouldn’t want that.) So if you’re uncomfortable, I just want you to think about what I’m saying, I want you to hear what I’m saying.

I have this vague recollection of when I was a little boy of trying to bake a cake once. Only once did I try it. But I worked really hard. Somehow I got confused. Back in those days some flour had yeast in it and some didn’t. So I got the wrong flour, and I didn’t know to put yeast, I didn’t know to put baking powder in there. I missed that somehow in the recipe. And so I baked this cake and the darn thing never rose. It just laid there in the pan. It was flat, lifeless and it wasn’t worth a thing. Now my point is if you’re attempting to construct your faith on all the moral principles of Christianity and on all the stories of Jesus, but you leave out this one key ingredient, the uniqueness of Jesus, you may live a pretty good life, but it’s not the Christian life. It’s a flat and lifeless imitation. I know it sounds humble to say Jesus is the way for me but he may not be best the way for you, but I promise you, friends, if that’s the position you take, the next generation will not follow in the way of Jesus.

Now, this raises all sorts of questions, and God didn’t say he would answer all our questions about this. He just said that we’re to trust in his son. So I want to ask you this morning, are you building your life on God’s son as the way, the truth, and the life, or are you building your faith, your life, on what culture tells you is true. Jesus says he’s the way to God. If we believe this, it gives us assurance, it gives us hope, it gives us a purpose, it gives us a way, a direction. And it also invites persecution, doesn’t it? I just got back from spending some time with some pastors in Asia. They face a very real form of persecution. They face the possibility of imprisonment for preaching this gospel. All you and I face is social rejection. That’s the way we’re persecuted here for our faith in this gospel. You’ll be accused of being judgmental, unintellectual, narrow-minded, you’ll be dismissed. Maybe that’s what we fear most of all, that we’ll just be dismissed and not taken seriously. But Ill tell you this, if you build your faith and we build the church on the god of anything goes, eventually we won’t have a faith and we won’t have a church. We’ll have a dying institution and we’ll have our opinions. Everyone will like us and everyone will commend our open-mindedness and Jesus will say, “I spit you lukewarm people out of my mouth.”

We cling to a unique savior, and an exclusive gospel in a pluralistic world. We cling to an authoritative bible in a skeptical age. We cling to a sacrificial lifestyle in a consumer culture. We cling to a pure and chaste life in an era of permissiveness. We say the creeds without crossing our fingers. We trust in the reality of heaven. We trust in the reality of hell. We proclaim Jesus as the only hope of salvation. The work of God in Christ and the word of God in scripture are complete. We can add nothing else. We believe that the local church can be the hope of the world. We are plain, simple, mere Christians. That’s what we are. Now, so I just want to ask you, are you willing to face 21st century persecution? It can be painful. But what really frightens me is that we might not face 21st century persecution! If we aren’t meeting rejection, if we’re not being dismissed, it shows we aren’t being bold and we aren’t sharing the gospel of Christ. We aren’t engaging the culture; we’re remaining silent because we don’t want to offend anybody. Where is courage? Where is conviction? It’s right here, I hope. Are we going to be like the Corinthians? Are we going to profane God’s holy gift, downsizing Jesus to be hardly any better than Muhammad or Buddha? Are we going to boldly submit to Jesus as the Lord, the way, the truth, the life? That’s the gift we celebrate in the sacrament. My dear friends, you have to decide this for yourselves. I can’t decide it for you. In a moment or two, we’re going to stand and say the creed. As we stand, don’t be pressured to say it if you don’t believe. But if you do believe it, or if you’re struggling with it but you want to believe it, say it with all your heart, because in it is the truth, the way, the life. Amen.
Friends, this is the proclamation of the truth of Christianity, and Rev. Yates and the Falls Church should be applauded for this. May God bless and keep them.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: anglican; ecusa

1 posted on 11/17/2006 4:35:15 PM PST by sionnsar
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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 11/17/2006 4:37:42 PM PST by sionnsar (?|Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Nations)
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To: sionnsar

It was good, very clear as to what he was talking about, but I would have used scripture, lots of scripture, as my proof text. I didn't see any.

3 posted on 11/17/2006 5:07:57 PM PST by irishtenor (We survived Clinton in the 80s... we can survive her even when her husband is gone.)
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To: irishtenor

Can you suggest some text?

4 posted on 11/17/2006 5:50:29 PM PST by sionnsar (?|Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Nations)
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To: sionnsar

If I weren't at work, I would have a lot to put down. I don't have a Bible ready here. I think that the ones about Jesus being the only way to the Father, All shall perish except those who follow Jesus, ETC.

Give the text, so that they can look it up at home.

PS. This is not a critisizm of what he said, Just bring out the scripture more.

5 posted on 11/17/2006 6:55:50 PM PST by irishtenor (We survived Clinton in the 80s... we can survive her even when her husband is gone.)
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To: irishtenor
There are online Bibles in many translations you can access for scripture reference - you can even post links to them like this one:

Just wanting to help. Happy scripture hunting.
6 posted on 11/18/2006 8:51:42 AM PST by LibreOuMort (Give me liberty, or give me death! (Patrick Henry))
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