I have been commenting a bit on the current General Convention of the Episcopal Church and this post is why all of this matters.
The Church is in a very, very serious crisis.
While the Church puts on a happy face and tries to reconstitute some renegade dioceses, Fort Worth and San Joaquin come to mind, make no mistake, the modernist view is just not catching on with the masses.
According to the American Anglican Council, Episcopal Church attendance, pledging and the like has seen a steady decrease. A chart in the latest issue of Equipping The Saints shows that from 1996, the Church had roughly 2,375,000 baptized members. By 2007, that number went down to slightly over 2,100,000. In 2002, there were 7,305 parishes and missions. In 2007, that dropped to 7,055. Two hundred fifty churches and or missions no longer exist in the Episcopal Church. Most of that is individual churches and whole dioceses leaving the denomination. Average Sunday attendance Church-wide went from 846,640 in 2002 to 727,822 in 2007. Per parish and or mission, that went from 79 to 69 in a five-year period. And baptized members is a broad term because the Church claims that to be a member one must be a communicant, one that can partake of the Holy Communion. But, never fear.
The current leadership from bishops on down to the parish priest is allowing non-baptized people to take Holy Communion. Here is from Equipping The Saints:
† Communion for the unbaptized
Communion for the unbaptized is becoming more common in TEC, despite the fact that the canons specifically cite the practice as impermissible. A 2004-2005 survey by a task force of the diocese of Northern California revealed that among the 48 dioceses who responded, half of them have parishes that permit Communion without baptism. Even if the 55 dioceses which did not respond did not allow communion without baptism, that would mean at least 23 percent (in all likelihood more) of TEC dioceses permit this uneconocal and unscriptural practice.
So, the number of actual baptized, full-communicant members of the Episcopal Church may be quite lower than 2,000,000.
Now, why would that be? Why have so many left the church?
Well, maybe it is the leadership, ordained and lay.
Take this comment from no less than the so-called presiding bishop herself, Katherine Jefferts Schori. It is in response to the biblical command said by Jesus himself. That no one comes to the Father but through me. Here is the so-called presiding bishop:
"My understanding of idolatry includes the assumption that I can know and comprehend the way in which God saves people who are not overtly Christian. I understand that Jesus is my savior, I understand that Jesus is the savior of the whole world. But I am unwilling to do more than speculate about how God saves those who don’t profess to be Christians. I look at the fruits of the life of someone like Mahatma Ghandi and the Dalai Lama and I see Christ-like features …"
Idolatry? Gee, since Jesus Christ is the Son of God, I think that it is our duty to share that good news with all that we can. I agree, I do not advocate beating anyone over the head with a Holy Bible, but in simply sharing what it means to be a Christian. No one is asking the Most Rev. Schori to make any speculations.
Now, that is just the pontifications of the presiding bishop, the spiritual guide of the Episcopal Church.
But here is Marcus Borg, the co-director for Spiritual Development at Trinity Cathedral in Portland, Oregon:
"I don’t think God cares if we are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and so forth. What matters is a deepening relationship with God."
So, Marcus. May I call you Marcus? What is the point of following Jesus Christ? Why not just be a Unitarian? The point of the Christian religion is that God sent Jesus Christ to bring us Eternal Life. And that he died for our sins and that we can be one with God through Jesus and the Holy Ghost. To dismiss the absolute and yes, fundamental meaning of our faith is to dismiss our life here on Earth.
But damn if the Most Rev. Schori does not keep digging herself deeper in unbelief.
In an interview with Episcopal Life in April, 2008, the Most Rev. Schori offered what she believed about the Resurrection:
"Asked about the literal story of Easter and the Resurrection, Jefferts Schori said, ‘I think Easter is most profoundly about meaning, not mechanism.’"
Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot???!!!
Without the mechanism-the physical Resurrection of Jesus from the grave, there is no meaning! If the disciples do not see the Risen Lord, then there is no meaning. Then it is all a fairy tale.
Ahh, but the Most Rev. Schori continues for remember, she is our spiritual guide.
On the subject of salvation, here is a winner from the Most Reverend:
"The question is always how can we get beyond our own narrow self-interest and see that our salvation lies in attending to the needs of other people."
Well, it is not a self-interest to give one's life to Jesus. Without that profession of faith, one has no real understanding of what God commands of us.
I focus on the so-called presiding bishop because as I noted, she sets the example for the Church as a whole. By the Most Rev. Schori seemingly dismissing basic understandings of the faith, is there any wonder that people are leaving rather than becoming part of?
Now, this is a subject that even the most traditional Episcopalian avoids like the plague, but I will broach it.
One has to wonder if this is some kind of spiritual warfare from within Christendom? That revisionists have so penetrated such Mainline Protestant denominations as the Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, United Church of Christ and have set back Christian teaching and ethics on it's head. It is as if these leaders want to destroy the Church rather than build up the Body of Christ. I can not explain why the so-called presiding bishop would say some of the things that she does. And people that are in leadership in a Christian denomination saying that it really does not matter to God how we get to Him.
This is why it matters. If there is any hope for the Church, those of us that stand for the best of Church tradition must stay and make a stand. Those that have left, I say God be with you and may you grow and bring more to Jesus Christ. But we have to stay and stand for what has made Anglicanism. Scripture, Tradition, Reason. We can not eliminate Scripture or Tradition and depend on reason. That is why it all matters and why we must stay and seek to bring those who seek to destroy back to the fold. And, we need to focus on the Great Commission said by Jesus Christ himself:
"Go ye therefore and teach (make disciples of) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." Matthew 28:19