Today the latest bit of bad news came down from the Anglican Communion, the worldwide circle of churches which included the Episcopal Church. In a nutshell the Anglican Communion, which is far more vibrant and orthodox in countries outside of the U.S. and the U.K., announced a suspension of the Episcopal Church from the Communion for a period of three years. The exact wording is below:
7. It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.That is a pretty stinging rebuke from the worldwide Anglican body but the critical point cam earlier in the statement"
2. Recent developments in The Episcopal Church with respect to a change in their Canon on marriage represent a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage. Possible developments in other Provinces could further exacerbate this situation.What needs to be crystal clear is that "conservatives" who walked away from the Episcopalian church are not the ones who are causing schism. Rather the Episcopal Church by embracing a deviant understanding of marriage, gender and human sexuality has willingly placed itself outside of the boundaries of what can legitimately be called the church. They have departed from the church, not the Anglican Church in North America or other groups and churches that have left the Episcopal church. When someone or an organization deviate from the boundaries of the Kingdom, the only proper response is to separate from them. Despite the faux unity some propose, sometimes separation is the only proper response to those who embrace sin. Those who have left have departed not from the unity of the church but have returned to the unity of the church.
The Episcopal church has responded to the statement as one would expect including the obligatory obscene eisegesis of that most oft misapplied verse, Galatians 3:28:
Before the Jan. 14 vote, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry told the primates gathering Jan. 11-15 in
, that the statement calling for the sanction would be painful for many in the Episcopal Church to receive. Canterbury, England
“Many of us have committed ourselves and our church to being ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ as the Bible says, when all are truly welcome,” Curry said in remarks he later made available to Episcopal News Service.
“Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all. While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ.”
“For so many who are committed to following Jesus in the way of love and being a church that lives that love, this decision will bring real pain,” he said. “For fellow disciples of Jesus in our church who are gay or lesbian, this will bring more pain. For many who have felt and been rejected by the church because of who they are, for many who have felt and been rejected by families and communities, our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope. And this will add pain on top of pain.”
The comment section is very instructive, including the frequent threat to withhold funds from the Anglican Communion.
The Bible is crystal clear. The same Paul that Mr. Curry so grossly misquotes is also the apostle who had the most to say about marriage, sexuality and how to deal with sin in the church. It is the undeniable witness of Scripture that one cannot simultaneously embrace and celebrate wanton sin and call oneself a disciple of Jesus.
So what? If you are reading this you likely are not Episcopalian or Anglican so why should you care? You should care because this disaster is a warning for the rest of the church, a warning that compromise with sin invariably destroys the church. The rest of the church should be constantly vigilant because what we see on display here can happen to any of us if we let loose our grip on the Bible as applicable and authoritative and clear on this and many other topics. I take no pleasure in the death throes of Episcopalianism but some of the most tragic events are the most instructive.