Due to an ongoing health crisis in the family, blogging will be 'on and off' as time and circumstances permit for the foreseeable future. I also beg your indulgence if I am slow in responding to emails. New posts will appear below this notice.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

In case there were any who still harbor doubts...

The Episcopal Church (TEC) has an ordained Zen Buddhist nominated to serve as the next "bishop" of Northern Michigan. "Father" Kevin Thew Forrester is on record implicitly or explicitly denying most of the Nicene Creed and last year replaced the normally prescribed New Testament reading at a service with one from the Quran. Meanwhile in New England the Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, an openly lesbian priestess was appointed as the new President of the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge MA. A great honor to be sure. Rev. Ragsdale would seem eminently qualified to be the head of an Episcopal seminary given her views on abortion which she outlined in a sermon entitled "Our Work is Not Done."

In this sermon, which she had posted on her blog before an avalanche of severe criticism saw its removal, she opined that abortion was a "blessing" and called for the removal of any legal conscience protection for anyone in the medical-health care field who might object to the premeditated killing of children. I don't think the word "demonic" would be too strong a descriptive for her views which you may read about in more detail (if you have the stomach) at LifeSiteNews.com.

As some may have noticed it’s been a long time since I have posted anything on the Episcopal Church. There are a few reasons for this. One is that it gets boring pointing out the obvious, namely that TEC has jumped off a theological cliff and is still in free fall. But apparently they still posses the ability to shock even me.

I guess the only question remaining is, is the Episcopal Church merely heretical or is it institutionally apostate? I believe the evidence points rather strongly to the latter conclusion. Let us consider just a few facts.

There appears to be no article of faith binding on anyone in TEC. The Creeds are all optional and a large and increasing number of parishes openly admit anyone, including the non-baptized and non-Christians to what they term Holy Communion. When the creeds are recited (and in most parishes they still are as a matter of form) many clergy and even prominent bishops have declared they "cross their fingers" during parts of the creed, or in the case of "Bishop" Jack Spong pretty much during the whole thing. The baptismal formula in practice (if not yet theory) varies widely from parish to parish and one has no idea what is being said or done at Episcopal baptisms anymore. Sexual vice is openly promoted as normative and healthy and is being blessed in many parishes and dioceses. Abortion has been endorsed by the national church as a basic human right. The presiding bishop has refused on multiple occasions to affirm the unique role of Christ in salvation and has affirmed the legitimacy of "other paths." The most recent General Conventions were unable to pass resolutions affirming Christ’s unique role in salvation as also the inerrancy of Scripture. I could go on at very great length but I think the point has been made.

The inescapable conclusion is that the Episcopal Church is not merely heretical but is in fact in a state of what Roman Catholics would call material apostasy. Which is to say that while they may not have formally abjured the Creeds they clearly no longer profess them as articles of faith for their church. In short the Episcopal Church is today little more than liturgical Unitarianism. The only absolutely binding article of faith is that there is no binding article of faith. Such a body can not I believe be rightly termed “Christian.” This is not to say that there are no Christians in TEC. But it is to say that TEC is no longer a Christian church, and I think it is time that we stop pretending otherwise.

On a related note, why do so many Orthodox jurisdictions still accept without question Episcopal baptisms from converts as "close enough" on the basis of economy? I seriously think that in light of what's been going on over there that it is time to reconsider this practice.

10 comments:

artyom said...

The equivalent Anglican Church here in Australia has been heading this way for a while too though not quite as radically as in the US. Strangely contradictory and an exception is the Diocese of Sydney which though militantly evangelical is also one of the most conservative in the Anglican world. I am Orthodx from birth but attended a traditional Anglican private school in the 80's and i really grieve for where they are headed.

Ed said...

Is that image at the top of the post for real or is it a spoof?

Wow...

John (Ad Orientem) said...

The image is a spoof. But as is so often true, it is a bit closer to the truth than some might find comfortable.

Anonymous said...

It is perhaps worth noting that Forrester's election appears to be going down in flames, as a fair number of liberal bishops have said they will vote against his confirmation.

I do not hold out much hope for TEC, but if God has a miracle in mind to renew it, 2009 may well be remembered as the year it began.

Anonymous said...

I mostly agree with this post, but if the words in the BCP 79 baptismal rite have always been good enough for economy, isn't a reconsideration of this practice due to the heretical views of many TEC priests, and not textual changes, an example of Donatism? Although perhaps a small minority, not all clergy in the TEC cross their fingers when they say the creed.

- Steve

Nikolaus said...

OUTSTANDING!

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Steve,
Thanks for your comment. In response to your question, I think two points need to be made. First the general acceptance of Episcopal baptisms (at least in the Russian tradition) stems from the Great Book of Needs which was approved by the Russian Holy Synod back during the days of the czars.

It prescribes reception by economy for most of the mainline Protestants who were at the time confessionally Trinitarian and whose baptismal formulas were known to reflect this. While the BCP of 1979 remains Trinitarian in its formula the unpleasant truth is that it is not universally followed.

Let's be honest here. In TEC its pretty much a do it yourself program today. The BCP has been effectively reduced in many dioceses to the status of recommended guidelines. But clergy are doing there own thing and often not even using a recognizable Christian formula for baptism. Even when the formula is being followed we have no idea what the priest(ess?)has in his/her head when they are doing it.

Since intent as is at least as important as the form and matter in Orthodox theology, this creates real problems. One must also recall that Orthodoxy does not recognize the fullness of mysteries outside of the Church. And while acknowledging that there are degrees of separation and error, there are limits to what the Church teaches can be repaired or filled with the grace that flows only from an Orthodox baptism.

For this reason historically the Church has been a bit picky about when and under what circumstances converts are received by economy. Indeed some jurisdictions have been quietly tightening their rules on this in recent years. But however you slice it the reasons for which the Anglicans were historically accepted on a "close enough" basis clearly no longer apply to TEC.

Under the mercy,
John

PIVOT said...

Well, I took a look at the Episcopal Church's website and I discovered the following statement about Jesus Christ.
From the Epsicopal Church. org "Jesus the son of God is, I quote "The Prayer Book Catechism affirms that Jesus is the only perfect image of God the Father, and he reveals God's loving nature. Jesus received our human nature from the Virgin Mary, his mother, by God's own act. The divine Son became human so that we might be adopted as children of God and made heirs of God's kingdom. We are freed from the power of sin and reconciled to God by Jesus' obedience, which included suffering and death. Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way of eternal life by his resurrection. We share in his victory over sin, suffering, and death when we are baptized into the new covenant and become living members of Christ (see BCP, pp. 849-850). Major events in Jesus' life are recalled in the celebrations and observances of the church year.

That reads pretty clear to me about what Episcopalians believe. Pax Christi.

Anonymous said...

I just checked out the Episcopal Church's home page. EpiscopalChurch.org. They are pretty clear on who Jesus is and what they believe about him. I quote "The Prayer Book Catechism affirms that Jesus is the only perfect image of God the Father, and he reveals God's loving nature. Jesus received our human nature from the Virgin Mary, his mother, by God's own act. The divine Son became human so that we might be adopted as children of God and made heirs of God's kingdom. We are freed from the power of sin and reconciled to God by Jesus' obedience, which included suffering and death. Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way of eternal life by his resurrection. We share in his victory over sin, suffering, and death when we are baptized into the new covenant and become living members of Christ (see BCP, pp. 849-850). Major events in Jesus' life are recalled in the celebrations and observances of the church year."

I felt really uneasy seeing that poster on your blog. Are some people believing that is from the Episcopal Church? These acusations are only causing deeper misunderstandings. Let us come together in the name of Christ. Pax Christi.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Pivot,
Thanks for dropping by. Unfortunately it's going to take more than a website statement to overcome what TEO has been up to and is on the record as supporting.

"By their fruits ye shall know them."

TEO has gone completely off the tracks.

Yours in ICXC
John