In the last couple of months, I have become a regular at a local Episcopal church, and absolutely love it. The liturgy is very meaningful, the music seclections are well chosen, and the sermons keep to the message and are always right on point. At this point in my life, this is what I need (and yes, I’m aware that I’m focusing on my need here, and don’t apologize for that). Furthermore, everything had, so far, been scripturally sound. That’s one of the benefits of liturgy.
However, the Episcopal church as a whole has problems, which has resulted in many congregations leaving the church. The main issue is over the fairly recent decision to allow gay priests. Now, there’s a move within the EC to broaden the definition of marriage to include gay unions. George Clifford writes in the Daily Episcopalian,
The next step in that unfolding narrative of grace is to expand the concept of marriage to include a gay man marrying a gay man or a lesbian marrying a lesbian. This timely, grace filled step rightly extends the Christian concept of marriage to people whom the Church for too long has marginalized or demonized, the very categories of people with whom Jesus spent his ministry. The Church wrongly has attempted to foist a life and love denying form of sexuality – heterosexuality – upon people whom God created with a different gender orientation. Consequently, their gender preference has too often caused gays and lesbians to deny their very identity or to express their sexuality in promiscuous, exploitative, or other destructive ways. Same-sex monogamous marriage inherently promotes healthy lifestyles, models the union of Christ and the Church, and can powerfully mediate grace to all whom they encounter.
George calls for the complete dismantling of the marriage rite, creating one blessing of any and all unions, regardless of whatever. Besides completely ignoring Biblical teaching, including Romans 1, the logic is just wacko. This is one step away from blessing adulterers or worse (“… but he was born a pervert!”).
I agree that homosexuals have been treated badly over the years, and that they should be shown the same grace that we show any other sinners – which includes all of us. I don’t have a problem with that; I have welcomed gays and lesbians in church. However, there is a great chasm between extending love and grace and supporting a lifestyle that is clearly against Scripture. Suppose I was a compulsive adulterer – it is my nature; it may even be genetic, for all we know. Why shouldn’t this behavior be condoned? Why not show the same “grace” to that kind of sin?
As Karl Menninger once asked, whatever became of sin? Or as Paul asked, should we sin more so that grace should increase?
It pains me that this kind of mindless pseudo-theology could drag a major denomination into heresy. And yes, this is a major heresy, not just a civil rights issue, or an issue of which sins are worse than others. You see, Paul has identified marriage as holy not just because it is ordained by God, but because it is also a type of the relationship between Christ and the Church. “Behold, I tell you a mystery,” Paul says concerning the issue. To me, this goes right to the heart of the nature of the Church.
After finding a church that, for the first time in years, makes me want to get up early on a Sunday morning, I am deeply saddened by this issue, and pray that people listen to the Spirit of God, not the spirit of this age. I’d hate to have to go off in search of a church once again…
The Church of England, aside from the politics involved in its inception, is also theologically a “Protestant” denomination, heavily influenced by the reformers. The original liturgy was carefully “stripped” of what was perceived as Roman error.
The current liturgy in the BCP is remarkably similar to portions of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, as well as the Lutheran liturgy I grew up with. I’m not really sure what specifically you are referencing with regard to “the nuances of meaning and an inclusive liturgy.” The liturgy is meant to be inclusive, as all have sinned, etc. The problem seems to be with an external definition of what constitutes a sin, and what is merely a “lifestyle.”
The Anglican/Episcopal church aimed for the “middle way,” deliberately seeking to avoid what was perceived as extremes of both Roman Catholic and Protestant theologies. The language of the Book of Common Prayer is a masterful study of the nuances of meaning and an inclusive liturgy.
Perhaps the Episcopal embrace of gay participation is really a reflection of its original intent run amok?
Frustrating isn’t it?
The Episcopalian Church has bought into it. The clergy is made of 60’s liberals who run the church and want to (they are) remake it into their own image.
The same BS is going on in my ELCA denomination.
I was fortunate enough (blessed) to find an old time ELCA pastor who does not believe in advocating sin and who still believes what the Bible says (oh that).
When my pastor retires I will more than likely have to find another church.
My pastor’s dad (a retired ELCA pastor in Wisc. the heart of Lutheranism) doen’t even go to church anymore. He can’t find a church that hands over Christ without any strings attached. It’s all social, political gospel…which is another gospel.
Very sad, indeed.
I hope and pray that things work out for you.
– Steve Martin San Clemente, CA