Sunday, September 07, 2008


Today marked the beginning of another Sunday School year. Episcopalians at ECOOS, with the possible exception of the adult Forum Class, were given God's permission to take the summer off (as far as education, supper clubs, etc. goes). They were welcomed back by Mary Cat who gave today's sermon focusing on community and congregation before referencing Matthew 18:15-20 and giving us a little discussion on conflict and conflict resolution at the local level.

It was not the purpose of her sermon to highlight the conflict in the larger Church, but the readings from Ezekiel 33:7-11 and Romans 13:8-14 were an open invitation to take on the issues. Of course, Bishop Henderson wants us to be "mission" and not "issue" people since he has seen what happens to congregations who start inquiring about issues.

Alas, the rector and vestry of St. Christopher's in Spartanburg on May 4, 2008 may have taken Ezekiel to heart,
"You, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me." v. 7.

Or perhaps they recalled Romans 13:13-14,
"let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires."

Or perhaps they remembered the failed attempts at conflict resolution as outlined in Matthew 18:17,
"If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector."

These words bring us to the responses the overwhelming majority of Anglicans have with the Episcopal Church's failure to listen to the orthodox, and it's failure to heed calls to give up the ways of the flesh and return to the Communion. You find these sentiments at the core of the GAFCON 2008 Final Statement,
"The first fact is the acceptance and promotion within the provinces of the Anglican Communion of a different ‘gospel’ (cf. Galatians 1:6-8) which is contrary to the apostolic gospel. This false gospel undermines the authority of God’s Word written and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the author of salvation from sin, death and judgement..."

"The second fact is the declaration by provincial bodies in the Global South that they are out of communion with bishops and churches that promote this false gospel. These declarations have resulted in a realignment whereby faithful Anglican Christians have left existing territorial parishes, dioceses and provinces in certain Western churches and become members of other dioceses and provinces, all within the Anglican Communion..."

"The third fact is the manifest failure of the Communion Instruments to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy. The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, in proclaiming this false gospel, have consistently defied the 1998 Lambeth statement of biblical moral principle (Resolution 1.10). Despite numerous meetings and reports to and from the ‘Instruments of Unity,’ no effective action has been taken, and the bishops of these unrepentant churches are welcomed to Lambeth 2008."

To the GAFCONers, the Episcopal Church must now be considered Matthew's Gentiles and tax collectors.

My understanding is that Gentiles and tax collectors are fair game for conversion. We have gone past the issue stage, but we in the Episcopal Church can still be saved but it may be through the mission and outreach of the GAFCONers.

No comments:

Post a Comment