anthills–Episcopalians & the Anglican Communion

June 25, 2006


Filed under: Episcopal Church, General Convention — anthill @ 9:44 pm

The worst moment in the General Convention of The Episcopal Church may have been the vote to discharge a resolution on salvation being through Christ alone. The move to discharge is a way to kill a resolution without voting no on it. Some resolutions are discharged because they are redundant to resolutions passed, but the Jesus resolution was killed all by itself.

Liberals laud nuance, but they seem incapable of it when faced with the opportunity of using it to find the value in the traditional teachings of classic Christianity.

The resolution deserves to be given in full here to illustrate my point:


Resolved, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church declares its unchanging commitment to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the only name by which any person may be saved (Article XVIII [Note–Articles of Religion—back of BCP]); and be it further

Resolved, That we acknowledge the solemn responsibility placed upon us to share Christ with all persons when we hear His words, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No-one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6); and be it further

Resolved, That we affirm that in Christ there is both the substitutionary essence of the Cross and the manifestation of God’s unlimited and unending love for all persons; and be it further

Resolved, That we renew our dedication to be faithful witnesses to all persons of the saving love of God perfectly and uniquely revealed in Jesus and upheld by the full testimony of Holy Scripture.

Reasons given for discharging this included redundancy (We’ve said this before”—in 1982!) and charges of insensitivity to other faiths. The vote on a motion to discharge, according to Virtueonline was 675 (70.5%) to 242 (29.5%).

I understand that the language of the Gospel of John is uncomfortable—Jesus claiming to be “the way, the truth, and the life.” I feel the particularity of this at every funeral I conduct, using this scripture as a standard part. Liberals hedge badly on this line from John, usually not summoning their theological imagination. All they could do at General Convention was discharge Jesus.

Here’s what I mean. Anglicans don’t go with those Christians who say that a native in the deepest reaches of the Amazon basin is condemned because he never heard about Jesus. Imagine a man who wakes up each morning an looks in wonder on the creation and thanks the Creator. This may seeks to live in the light of God. He treats his family well, he seeks justice in his village and peace with their neighbors.

An Anglican theologian with a little imagination and grace can see that God can make Jesus be “the way, the truth, and the life” for that jungle dweller. Salvation is of the Lord! How impoverished for The Episcopal Church (TEC), at a time of deep crisis for its conservative members, not to find a way to amend that resolution—using a little nuance, while not gutting the language—to reaffirm the gift to the world in Jesus Christ. How profoundly sad!

I couldn’t find any coverage of the discharge of Jesus by TEC in any mainstream media. The only treatment of it I found as a news item was at in an article by their correspondent Hans Zeiger. I don’t recommend Virtueonline in general because of David Virtue’s trademark inflammatory mode of writing (not to mention the combustible unmoderated comments), but this is the only source if you want verification of all this. Mr. Zeiger well portrays the interplay of various characters in the drama of this resolution’s slow death.

Rejection of the resolution in committee on evangelism (before the full House of Deputies voted) followed a resolution lamenting the decline in membership of TEC.

Virtueonline cites one Deputy who said it as well as can be done. The Rev. Donald Perschall, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Centralia, Illinois, said, “On top of leaving the Anglican Communion, we’ve decided to leave Jesus Christ behind as well.”

What, then, is the gospel of TEC. In an interview after her election as the next Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, listed more that a dozen aspects of our message. Not once did she include the gift to the world of eternal life through Jesus Christ. To play on Jefferts Schori being an instrument-rated pilot, this kind of salvation wasn’t even on her radar screen.

An evaluation of all the resolutions passed by General Convention will show an impressive array of liberal social action motions, but no clear affirmation of Jesus Christ as the one who is “the way, the truth, and the life.” They dismissed their chance.

It is very hard to avoid the conclusion that The Episcopal Church has no adequate message to arrest its average net loss of 700 people every week since a peak in 1965.


1 Comment »

  1. Pingback by Anonymous — June 27, 2006 @ 5:38 pm

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