Friday, February 09, 2007

False Accusations of "New Teachings" Continue

You may recall the video put out by the Network in 2005 in which Les Fairfield, a professor of church history at Trinity Episcopal School of Ministry in Ambridge, said changes within the Episcopal Church had made it "a non-Christian religion" and its leadership had "embraced a foreign, alien and pagan religion." Unfortunately, this kind of false witness continues. Consider this lovely quote from a regular contributer to one of the Network-friendly sites:

...Archbishop Carey is incorrect in his reasons why faithful Episcopalians have left. It is not because of their hurt feelings, because they were not sufficiently affirmed or "heeded, valued or respected". It is because they do not believe that one side of the "debate" preaches or believes the gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, one side of the debate is touting a different religion from Christianity. In all conscience they are unable to remain a part of a denomination/church that is no longer believes the Christian faith at its highest -- or even its mid-level -- leadership. They see the Episcopal church -- and increasingly the Anglican Communion, in its delay at dealing with the gross, rank heresy -- as a corrupt, vile body with which they wish to have nothing at all to do -- no connection, no interest. It's not a matter of the "people in the pew", the clergy, the bishop in their diocese, or whatever -- it's the entire ghastly anti-Christian denomination.
Gross, rank, heretical, corrupt, vile, ghastly and anti-Christian. Obviously, someone has had a very negative experience within the Church. But to project that personal experience onto the entire Episcopal Church is nothing more than bearing false witness.

I've participated in over a dozen Episcopal congregations in one capacity or another over the years. Some were conservative, others were progressive. What I have encountered is much more like what is described in this letter that recently appeared in the Boston Globe:

The article "Worshipers vacate Episcopal church" (City & Region, Jan. 29) states that "traditionalists" who have left All Saints Episcopal Church in Attleboro have rejected "new Episcopal teachings." It is unclear what these new teachings might be. The church's teachings are outlined in the catechism in the Book of Common Prayer and they have not changed. Among them is that Scriptures are the "word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible" and that "We understand the meaning of the Bible by the help of the Holy Spirit, who guides the church in the true interpretation of the Scriptures." The faithful Episcopalians who continue to worship at All Saints Episcopal Church and their denominational leaders never stopped believing in Jesus Christ or the role of Scripture in guiding their spiritual lives. For dissenters to suggest differently is a ruse for a divisive agenda.

Communications director
Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
I have yet to discover this "alien, vile, anti-Christian denomination" described above. What I have found within the Episcopal Church are communities that faithfully worship God in word and sacrament. But they've got me curious. Where might one experience these "new teachings" on a Sunday morning?

A tip of the biretta to EpiScope for the Boston Globe letter.


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