A Response to the Episcopal Church Suspension
I understand the complacency over ecclesiastical structures, conventions and communications. Perhaps America is fed up with politics. When we see political behavior in the Church we may be tempted to let out a deep sigh and consign the Church to the same status of the world: corrupt (that’s another blog for another day).
Some of you have read the recent developments out of England where the archbishops of all the Anglican Provinces met this week. One result of that meeting includes consequences for the Protestant Episcopal Church in the US. Having departed from the Biblical and historical faith, they have been suspended from full participation in the Anglican Communion for three years. I share the general conservative response that while this is a step in the right direction, the omission of a clear call to repentance remains a great disappointment.
How has the Episcopal Church responded to this suspension? They have responded with resolve to welcome all of God’s children without discrimination, to press on to the high calling of love and faith that God’s house may truly be a house of prayer for all people. Indeed the presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church closes his response to these happenings with a call to “keep the faith and move forward”.
Their response necessitates the first edition of St Jude’s Mission fact checker blog.
Claim: “We welcome all of God’s children without discrimination”
Fact 1: We discriminate against those who uphold the Biblical and historical doctrines of the Christian faith by taking their buildings and threatening their clerical status unless they convert to a historically unprecedented and scripturally indefensible view of the most basic unit of human relationships and sexuality (marriage).
Fact 2: Who are the children of God? The elect. Those who do His (God’s) will. What is his will? To believe in word and works of Jesus Christ (John 6:29) and to obey His commands (Luke 6:46). But I thought we were all children of God? No. We are all image bearers of God. All persons bear the image of God (Gen 1:27). So the Church stands with the only message that really confronts racism, abortion, euthanasia, slavery and the like. And when the Church has failed to stand for these things, we’ve rightly been called out by God’s revelation of himself in His Word. The error of the ECUSA is to equate image bearers with ‘the children of God’. Jesus makes a stinging correction as to who is, and is not, his family in Mark 3:31-35. His own mother is on the receiving end of it! “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35). Ok (one may reply in protest), so who follows the will of God? None with perfection. The heart of the Gospel is the demand for perfection met in Him alone whom is perfect.
Claim: The ECUSA is pressing on toward the high calling of love and faith (assumed Christian).
Fact: Discipline is an important evidence of true love (Heb 12:3-11). The only discipline that TECUSA has exercised is against Christians. It has rejected the call to “guard the good deposit entrusted” to the Church (Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:14). Therefore this is not a high calling but a prostitution of the soul. It is ultimate rebellion with a smile, deception at its worst. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and like for darkness (Isaiah 5:20)!
Claim: That the ECUSA is teaching the rest of us what it means for the house of the Lord to be a house of prayer for all people.
Fact: This text out of Isaiah is talking about the gathering of the nations in Christ. It is fulfilled beginning with the Pentecost event in Acts 2, which reverses the scattering of the nations at Babel in Genesis 11. Indeed, there is no discrimination in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Gal 3:28). It is offered freely to all! But the Gospel demands a response. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). I’m staring at you. What’s your response to Jesus’ sermon here (wish mine were that short)? The favorable response is of the mouth and the heart (Rom 10:9). What say you? If it is “I repent”, then you experience change. You experience the grace of God in your life, a process of turning away from evil and disobedience by the same power with which you were drawn to Christ in the first place. But the false gospel of TECUSA, a poison covered in honey, denies the need for the Christ they claim to worship and His power to deliver. It’s like Moses declaring Israel free from their oppressors only to be told that there was no oppression in the first place and Egypt is His promised land after all (which, ironically is at the heart of the rebellion of the wilderness generation).
Okay, so how does the Church welcome those who live in conflict with the demands of the Gospel? How does the Church welcome those who struggle with their sexuality, marital fidelity, addictions and pride? When it comes to issues of human sexuality, here is a testimony that speaks honestly of the struggle and truthfully of the Gospel.
And so I praise God for our brothers and sisters of GAFCON. Let us pray for the Lord’s Church. Let us repent of our own hypocrisy, love of self and lack of love toward the world he came to save. Let us labor faithfully in the harvest field. Let us contend for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.