Friday, October 07, 2011

Religion gone wrong

I read one of the ugliest things about "Christian" religious groups this morning I have ever had the displeasure of being exposed to. Here is how the article, Twenty-First Century Excommunication, starts off...
When the Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, N.Y., left the Episcopal Church over disagreements about what the Bible says about sexuality, the congregation offered to pay for the building in which it worshiped. In return the Episcopal Church sued to seize the building, then sold it for a fraction of the price to someone who turned it into a mosque.
It goes downhill from there. You may wonder why an ostensibly Christian organization would sue to take possession of a building only to sell it to the followers of a pagan religion? Simple. Conservative breakaway Anglicans compete with the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church is having none of that.
In 2009, breakaway Episcopalians in the U.S. and Canada formed the Anglican Church in North America, which now reports 100,000 members in nearly 1,000 congregations. This group has been formally recognized by some Anglican primates outside of the United States.

Bishop Jefferts Schori says this new Anglican group is encroaching on her church's jurisdiction, and she has authorized dozens of lawsuits "to protect the assets of the Episcopal Church for the mission of the Episcopal Church." The Episcopal Church has dedicated $22 million to legal actions against departing clergy, congregations and dioceses, according to Allan Haley, a canon lawyer who has represented a diocese in one such case.

Now the Episcopal Church has upped the ante: It has declared that if congregations break away and buy their sanctuaries, they must disaffiliate from any group that professes to be Anglican.
$22 million to legal action against other Christians. So much for 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. Ms. Schori has a unique read on the calling of a bishop (besides the whole gender thing)...
"We can't sell to an organization that wants to put us out of business," said Bishop Jefferts Schori, who added that her job is to ensure that "no competing branch of the Anglican Communion impose on the mission strategy" of the Episcopal Church. Indeed she has no complaint with Muslims, Baptists or barkeepers buying Episcopal properties—only fellow Anglicans.
Well I should think not! That is right in the "Pastoral Epistles" in the qualities of an elder: Guard your brand of Christianity against any other Christians who might be trying to "put you out of business". It is right there in the text, I am sure of it.

This is easy to poke fun at this even though it is not very funny. While it is a particularly grotesque example of it, we do see this same attitude reflected in far too many denominations and local churches that see fellow Christians as competitors that are trying to "steal their sheep" and "put them out of business". Just look at the marketing material many churches put out and change the religious terms into a consumer product and you get what amounts to little more than run of the mill marketing. Some churches tout their worship music or youth programs, others that they are "KJV-Only, Independent, Fundamental, Bible-believing, Soul-winning" churches, others that they hold to one of the Reformed confessions or the "Three Forms of Unity". All are marketing methods designed to get you to come to "their church" instead of "that church". Many of these groups see the problem with the methods of others but are quite blind to their own marketing methods.

When will we get to the point that we stop seeing our co-laborers in Christ as competitors to be viewed with caution and start seeing that the field is ready to harvest and there is plenty of harvesting to go around? There is no need for us to squabble over attendance and money, we should have plenty to keep us busy in reaching the lost all around us.


Aussie John said...


And the world looks on and shakes it collective head, asking, "How can we take these people seriously?"

Arthur Sido said...


We say "Come follow Christ and you can join one of our groups that fights against the other groups!"

Little wonder the world says "No thanks!"