Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Too Liberal to Become an Episcopalian Bishop?

Christianity Today has a story on some Episcopal Church leaders who "have rejected the consecration of a bishop-elect who denies traditional Christian teachings about sin, salvation, and Christ's atoning death at Calvary." This struck me as odd since the Episcopal church has among its bishops such notables as James Pike and John Shelby Spong. The article clarifies this by noting "The 2.3-million-member Episcopal Church has had bishops who have denied core Christian doctrines like the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection of Jesus. But the most prominent bishops to make such claims (such as John Shelby Spong and James Pike) reportedly did not do so until after they had been made bishop." I'm not sure what logic is in place to say you can't become a bishop if you deny these doctrines but you can remain a bishop if you deny them.

Kevin Thew Forrester is the priest behind the controversy. According to the article Thew Forrester believes "Christ's blood doesn't wash away sin and Christ's death doesn't redeem and restore humanity. Jesus doesn't make us one with God, but simply reveals to us that we're already and always one with God." Furthermore, he "denies that Satan exists, calls the Qur'an the Word of God, describes sin as being blind to our own goodness, and questions whether Jesus is truly the only begotten Son of God." Finally, he "has rewritten the church's baptismal covenant, the Apostles' Creed, and the Book of Common Prayer's Easter Vigil liturgy to remove historic Christian doctrines." He is a student of Zen Buddhism and has taken "Buddhist lay ordination vows and adopted a new Buddhist name—Genpo—meaning 'way of universal wisdom.'"

I will watch to see how this plays out. With all that he rejects and all that he adds and rewrites what's the point in being called a Christian? Michael Wittmer is correct when he says, "those who reject these fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith cannot be saved, no matter how swell they are and how well they behave." He distinguishes between what we must know (that we are sinners forgiven in Christ) and what we at least cannot reject (God is triune and Jesus is the God-man). (Don't Stop Believing, p. 43)

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