Thursday, February 10, 2005

A Clarion Call to Orthodox Episcopalians

Commentary by Robin G. Jordan

We have come to a fork in the road. The Episcopal Church’s heretical bishops have in very muted diplomatic language been called upon to repent and to lead the Episcopal Church back to orthodox Christianity. They have shown no willingness to turn from their present course. They have been asked to refrain from consecrating sexually active homosexuals as bishops and permitting the blessing of homosexual relationships in their dioceses. They have responded by preparing a defense of their actions for the February Primates Meeting which will be considering the Windsor Report and its recommendations. Whatever happens at the Primates Meeting they are not likely to be deterred in the efforts to impose doctrinal and moral innovations upon the Episcopal Church and the larger Anglican Communion. The reaction of the American bishops to the 1998 Lambeth Conference and their subsequent actions and the actions of Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold after the Extraordinary Primates Meeting last year shows that they do not believe that they are bound in any way to heed the advice of the Anglican Communion’s leading bishops.

No where in the Bible are we enjoined to compromise the apostolic faith for the sake of unity. Orthodox congregations and orthodox clergy need to weigh seriously the option of leaving the Episcopal Church. Succeeding from the Episcopal Church and placing one’s congregation under the oversight of an orthodox bishop outside the Episcopal Church is not schism. Schism is to walk with those who do not hold to the faith once delivered to the apostles and to follow the leadership of heretical bishops.

Those who believe the apostolic faith but who are not a part of an orthodox congregation with orthodox clergy need to form themselves into home fellowships and meet to read and study God’s Word, to discuss how they can live what they have learned and most importantly to encourage each other to do so. They also need to pursue the lost, evangelize them, and make disciples of them. They need to give themselves to prayer. In time a network of these fellowships in the same area can form the nucleus of a new Anglican congregation and a public service of worship can be launched.

Orthodox Episcopalians can no longer look to Episcopal bishops and clergy to preserve and uphold the faith once delivered to the apostles. They must look to themselves and ultimately to their Lord. Many bishops and clergy either actively promote revisionist teaching or passively accept it. They carry the taint of heresy. The likelihood that they will repent and return to the apostolic faith is extremely slim. Many have never believed in Jesus through the word of the apostles and cannot even be viewed as fellow believers – as fellow disciples of Jesus Christ. They preach and teach "another gospel" and not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Orthodox Episcopalians need to pray that God will raise up a new gospel ministry, one that has an orthodox historical understanding of Biblical Christianity, and examine themselves to see whether God is calling them to that ministry. If so, they need to seek ordination at the hands of orthodox Anglican bishops outside the Episcopal Church and to submit to their oversight. At this point in history the Anglican Church in North America does not need priests to administer the sacraments but ministers of the Gospel to preach and teach the pure Word of God. The reading and exposition of the Holy Scriptures needs to be restored to the central place in our worship that it once held. The sacrament of Holy Communion needs to be seen in proper perspective as a visible presentation of the Gospel.

We are being given an opportunity to join with God in building a revitalized Anglican Church in North America.
The road is not an easy one. It will involve walking away from church buildings in which we have worshipped much of our lives - from church yards where generations of our family lie buried. It may include worshipping in school gymnasiums, store fronts, and borrowed sanctuaries. It may entail using forms of worship that, while they are no less orthodox and ordered than those of the Book of Common Prayer, are freer and more accessible to those who have no experience of the Body of Christ at prayer. Let us remember what our Lord said as he was teaching his disciples upon the mountain.

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few….Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cat out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me , you workers of lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:13-14; 21-23, ESV)

His words are a sign post pointing clearly to the way that we must go.

No comments: