Cross-posted from whatmatters2us, a member of the Christians Against Leftist Heresy blogroll.
Note: This is part of a continuing series of articles concerning the epidemic leftist takeover of many venerable old Christian denominations.
Post-Christian Churches: The Episcopal Church USA
Meeting in New Orleans, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) is attempting to come to an agreement on the issue that threatens to lead to schism within the Worldwide Anglican Communion. The issue is named homosexuality, but in fact it goes much deeper than that. The fundamental issue is a division of opinion over the authority of the Holy Bible. On one side are so-called liberal theologians, who do not believe that the Holy Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. Rather, they believe that they can reinterpret it in each culture and in each age, accepting what seems good to them, and rejecting the rest. On the other side are so-called conservative theologians. They are the successors to the unbroken line of Christian theologians who believe that the historic, orthodox Christian understanding of Holy Scripture is correct. Without reservation, they have received the Holy Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, and believe that it is the sole norm and standard for judging all dogma, doctrine, and teachings of the Christian Church. The liberal theologians stand on ever shifting sands. The conservative theologians stand on the solid rock of God’s unchanging Word.
The ECUSA ceased being a Christian Church long ago. The 2003 consecration of V. Eugene Robinson as a bishop of the ECUSA in New England was only one of the more recent evidences that, as a national body, the ECUSA has moved far away from its historic Christian roots, and now is practicing another kind of religion. A man can call himself righteous, but that does not make him so. (See Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, Luke 18:9-14) Likewise, a church can call itself Christian, but that does not make it so. Martin Luther, the great reformer, taught that the Christian Church is the congregation of saints (believers and disciples of Jesus Christ in every age), in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the sacraments are rightly administered. Luther continued expounding on the doctrine of the Church by warning that, in this life, many hypocrites and evil men are mingled with real Christians in the Church. Within those congregations that are affiliated with the ECUSA, no doubt there are many real Christians, but we can be equally certain that there are many hypocrites and evil men and women. The direction taken by the ECUSA in recent decades demonstrates that those hypocrites and evil men and women have seized the levers of power and are in control of the ECUSA. So it should be obvious to Christians everywhere that the ECUSA, as a church body, is no longer a Christian Church.
At the time of his consecration as bishop in 2003, V. Eugene Robinson stated that he was convinced that God was doing a new thing in the church. Robinson was, as have been so many in the past, deluded in his beliefs. God does not change. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Likewise, God’s Word does not change. As Jesus Christ said, “and the Scripture cannot be broken” (John10:35). The Apostles, acting, speaking, and writing with the authority granted especially to them by Jesus also make clear the unchanging nature of God and of His Word. Saint Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” God does not change his mind, but men, like Robinson, are blown about by every little breeze, every new idea, and eagerly abandon the true faith for their own carnal pleasures.
The Law of God, contained in Holy Scripture, serves three purposes:
It serves as a curb on bad behavior, preventing anarchy and giving to humankind the blessings of a peaceful and orderly society.
It serves as a mirror, showing us our utter failure to live up to the standards set by God, and convicts us of our sins, driving us to despair. It is at this point that the Gospel comes to us, announcing God’s mercy and forgiveness to those who trust in Jesus Christ.
It serves as a guide, showing those who are believers in Christ how they should live their lives. Holy Scripture states, “But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.” (1Timothy 8-11)
The ECUSA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the United Church of Christ (UCC), and a host of other formerly Christian Church bodies have committed the same sin that caused the Fall of Adam and Eve – they are trying to put themselves in the place of God, rejecting whatever in His Word they find inconvenient or unpopular, and replacing it with cleverly devised myths and stories. They reinterpret the Word of God, twisting the plain meaning of Scripture, to suit their own desires to be a law unto themselves. Rather than submitting to God’s law and rejoicing in the forgiveness that comes to all who put their faith in Jesus, repenting of their sins, and trusting in God’s abundant mercy, they manufacture new doctrines and try to create a new gospel. This is not a new phenomenon: Saint Paul contended with evil men such as these in the Galatian churches of the First Century – “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:6-8).
The words that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and Scribes are also applicable to those who twist Scripture to suit their own purposes today:
“You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’” (Matthew 15:7-9)
No, V. Eugene Robinson, and no, ECUSA, ELCA, UCC, and all of the other formerly Christian Church bodies, God is not doing a new thing and approving of homosexuality. Rather, humankind is doing a very old thing – attempting to storm the throne of God, and push Him aside so that they can become like God. The same spirit of rebellion that has plagued humankind ever since The Fall is at work in these formerly Christian Church bodies today. Rather than showing their love for homosexuals, including V. Eugene Robinson, by calling them to repentance and urging them to refrain from homosexual acts, so that they might be forgiven and join with all believers in the joy of Christ Jesus, the leaders of the ECUSA and other formerly Christian Church bodies are encouraging homosexuals to remain in their sin, and thus condemning them to eternal damnation. The acceptance of practicing homosexuals into the Office of the Public Ministry, the blessing of same-sex unions, and similar acts endorsing a homosexual lifestyle are not acts of love, but acts of profound hatred. If the ECUSA was a Christian Church, and if it truly loved sinners, it would not encourage them to remain in their sin, but would call them to repentance, so that they might receive God’s forgiveness.
Homosexuality is not a worse sin than adultery, or stealing, or any other sin; sin is sin, and all sin puts the sinner under God’s wrath. Only by confessing our sins to God, repenting of our sins, and trusting in the holy, innocent suffering and death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the acceptable atonement for our sins, can we receive eternal salvation. Repenting involves more than just saying, “I’m sorry.” True repentance involves a turning away from the sins that have separated us from God. True repentance involves a sense of revulsion when we remember our sins, and an earnest effort to live a life in accordance with God’s will. The murderer who continues to murder, the adulterer who continues to commit adultery, and the homosexual who continues to engage in homosexual acts have not yet been driven to despair by the Law, and have not yet truly repented.
The ECUSA and other formerly Christian Church bodies that cannot bring themselves to condemn homosexuality, in accordance with the plain language of Scripture, are the enablers of millions who are perishing in their sin, and being lost forever. The adoption of church policies and practices that conform to the world rather than to Holy Scripture places the ECUSA, the ELCA, the UCC, and many other church bodies outside the pale of Christianity. This is not to say that all of the members of these church bodies are non-Christian. No indeed! The joyous paradox is that, even when evil men and women are in charge, the Word of God can still be at work in the hearts of those who hear it. However, those in the pews of the churches that are no longer Christian are continuing to support those churches at their peril. For they may become guilty of the same sins if they, with full knowledge and understanding of the sinful policies and practices of their churches, continue to enable and encourage the evil men and women who have led their church bodies astray. They would do well to separate themselves from these formerly Christian Churches, lest they “…may even be found fighting against God,” as Gamaliel warned the Jewish Council in Acts 5:34-39.
The ECUSA is jealous of the wealth that it has accumulated over the centuries since it first arrived on the shores of America. So it will not allow those congregations and priests who continue to stand-up for Holy Scripture to separate quietly. No, if any congregation wants to separate itself from the sin and error of the ECUSA, it must abandon its buildings with all of their furnishings – the ECUSA will not cede those valuable properties to the local congregations. However, Bible believing Episcopalians would do well to leave those material possessions behind, recalling the words of Jesus, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels” (Luke 9:25-26).
It is time for all who remain faithful Christians, for the faithful remnant of the people of God, to come out from the churches that have abandoned the Word of God and substituted for it a counterfeit gospel. Find new church homes, where the Word of God is preached in truth, and where the Gospel is taught rightly and the Sacraments are administered rightly. The Church is the body of Christ on earth. It cannot be joined with the body of a harlot. Recall the words of faithful Joshua, “...But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) Now decide whom you will serve.
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