December 3, 2007

Yesterday, I posted on a marvelous and powerful piece of writing by Pope Benedict XVI on the subject of faith and hope and the Christian tradition. What made it so enjoyable and so powerful to me was the fact that, rather than solely focusing on the here and now – as so many of the mainline Protestant churches waste valuable time and effort doing these days (see below), Benedict’s words called attention to the very essence of what it means to be a Christian and to put one’s hope in God’s love and mercy through faith in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Ah, those were the good old days. Today it’s back to the mind-numbing reality of what’s going on in the worldwide Anglican Communion these days. In short, it’s nothing but chaos, slow disintegration, and a march towards schism as a result of a bunch of Western post-modern, multi-cultural elitist leaders so stuck in their damned post-modern hazy nuanced approach to everything that nothing means anything anymore, including what it means to be Anglican, or Episcopalian, or – incredibly – a Christian for that matter.

Two posts by David Virtue illustrate just how perilous the situation has gotten for both the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. In this first post, Virtue provides an exceedingly fair assessment of Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Anglican Communion, who appears to be not only fiddling while Rome (or Canterbury, in this case) burns, but seems blissfully unaware there is raging inferno at his very doorstep! Talk about feeble-minded and feeble willed – but that’s today’s progressive theologian for you.

This second post by Virtue zeroes in on just how damaging the 2003 ordination of a non-celibate homosexual priest to be ordained Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt. Reverend V. Gene Robinson, has been to the Episcopal Church. What we are seeing today is nothing short of a “schism within a schism”, as the Episcopal Church breaks apart and melts away as first parishioners, then churches, and soon to come, whole dioceses leave the Church for greener pastures. Virtue writes:

An Interim Report, prepared by the House of Deputies Committee of the Episcopal Church, shows the denomination continuing to decline with a 41 percent attendance drop attributed directly to congregations departing over the sexual innovations in the church.

In assessing facts and trends, the State of the Church report, which worked closely with Dr. Kirk Hadaway, Director of Research at the Episcopal Church Center, indicated the need for a “plan for action” at all levels of the denomination in response to membership drops. In a manner similar to other mainline Protestant denominations in the United States, the statistics for The Episcopal Church indicate declining membership and attendance, declines that have become more severe in the last several years.

The facts are these:

In 2006, the number of Episcopal churches growing by 10 percent or more decreased, and the number declining in membership by 10 percent increased. Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) also dropped by three percent in 2006 compared to one percent the previous year. An estimated 41 percent of the attendance drop can be attributed to the departure of congregations from their dioceses. Almost half (49%) of all parishes and missions had an Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) of 70 or less. The norm – nearly two-thirds (63%) of Episcopal congregations–had an ASA of 100 or less. Seven new campus ministries, focusing on youth, were planted in 2006.

The report neglected to mention that the average age of Episcopalians attending these parishes is now in the mid sixties.

According to the report, an increased number of congregations reported “serious conflict” from 2001 through 2005. The consecration of V. Gene Robinson was one of the frequently mentioned sources of conflict in 2005.

It’s amazing when you compare the links for today’s post with those of yesterday’s: one speaks confidently and earnestly of the Christian hope for eternal life through Jesus Christ, the other of what happens when an entire branch of the Christian Church allows itself to be overrun by short-sighted, narrow-minded, and hypocritical activists bent on gaining power for the sole purpose of establishing their own “feel good” religion that worships at the altar of tolerance, acceptance and diversity. It is a message of utter hoplessness disguised as cultural enlightenment, and it is destroying both the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church.

This part of the report Virtue writes of could not be any clearer of the pathetic state of the Episcopal Church today:

The report felt it necessary to ask; what does it mean to be an Episcopalian? What are our core values? How are we differentiated from other Christian faith traditions? What are our strengths and weaknesses? Where are our opportunities?

“We cannot be leaders within our Church nor in the global community if we are unsure who we are or where God is calling us to go. Criticisms that we need to be more proactive (suggesting that we have allowed outsiders to set our agenda and dictate our identity), or that we are aggressively reactive (that is, we have been defending our polity to the extreme), both relate to our understanding and embrace of God’s kingdom and the Salvation we are offered in Jesus Christ– or to our lack of such understanding and engagement.”

My God, talk about a bunch of clueless fools! If these are the kinds of questions Episcopalians are being asked to consider, then as the old 1928 Prayer Book’s Confession of Sin used to say, “there is no help in us”. But this is what you get when a Church has gleefully forsaken the traditional teachings and traditions of the Christian faith for a New Age theology based on sexual identity and a “let’s seek a deeper place so we can all feel good about ourselves” religious mentality. In the Episcopal Church’s case, it’s a case of you get what you deserve.

Yesterday’s post and today’s post: two visions of what the Christian faith entails, two visions that could not be more distinct in purpose, tone, and effect. Tell me, if given the choice, which one would you choose?

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:12 | Comments Off on On The Other Hand…
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