The Episcopal Church of America is a mess. Their official stance on many core doctrines of Christianity is unorthodox, to say the least. The presiding bishop denies that Christ is the only ways to salvation. People of completely different and contradictory religions are ordained as priests and even bishops. Scripture is not seen as normative. Sexual perversions of all sorts are permitted in the church. There is no emphasis on salvation, sanctification, or personal holiness. It is a mere statement of fact that the government of The Episcopal Church is apostate.
How did this happen? How did the church that was once home to such stalwart defenders of the faith as William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer, men who died for the purity of the church, come to this state? It did not happen overnight, nor even with the election of Schori as the presiding bishop. The apostasy of The Episcopal Church began quite some time ago, but the first major event in the timeline of the current crisis occurred about fifty years ago when a bishop by the name of James Pike stated that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is “outdated, incomprehensible and nonessential.” It was the opening of floodgate of blasphemous statements and heretical teachings. What follows is a timeline of major events that have punctuated the apostasy of The Episcopal Church since Archbishop Pike’s blasphemous statement.
1960 – Bishop James Pike denies the doctrine of the Holy Trinity
1961 – Bishop Pike refers to the virgin birth of Jesus as “a primitive myth”.
1963 – Bishop John Robinson denies the doctrine of the incarnation, stating “The whole scheme of a supernatural being coming down from heaven to ‘save’ mankind from sin…is frankly incredible to man ‘come of age’”.
1967 – Heresy charges were brought against Bishop Pike. The Episcopal Church adopted a resolution stating that heresy was “outdated”.
1967 – Canon Hugh Montifore stated; “Jesus might have been a homosexual.”
1974 – Three retired bishops, Daniel Corrigan, Robert L. DeWitt, and Edward R. Welles II, illegally ordained eleven women as priests. No Biblical rationale was offered to support their actions. Bishop Corrigan stated that he knew of “nothing in the constitution and canons which forbids the ordination of women to the priesthood.”
1975 – Retired Bishop George W. Barrett illegally ordained four more women as priests, saying he “could no longer abide that injustice toward half of our population.”
1976 – The General Convention approved the ordination of women as priests and bishops.
1976 – Bishop John Spong was consecrated as bishop of the diocese of Newark in spite of the fact that he denied many core Christian doctrines.
1977 – Bishop Paul Moore ordained a non-celibate lesbian as a priest. Moore was gay.
1979 – General Convention upholds a Biblically correct understanding of human sexuality. Twenty bishops responded with a “statement of conscience” in which they stated that they “cannot accept these recommendations or implement them in our Dioceses.”
1980 – Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa suggested that Jesus was illegitimate.
1982 – Bishop Spong condemned missionary work, as it was rooted in a time when “the world was neatly divided into Christians, Jews and pagans.” Thus, missionary activity was fuled by “insensitivity and ignorance.”
1984 – Anglican Bishop David Jenkins called the resurrection of Christ “a conjuring trick with bones.”
1987 – A panel of bishops dismissed heresy charges against Bishop Spong.
1989 – Another panel of bishops dismissed heresy charges against Bishop Spong.
1989 – Bishop John Spong publicly ordained the first non-celibate, openly-partnered, homosexual.
1990 – Bishop Righter ordained non-celibate homosexual man as deacon.
1991 – Bishop Ronald Haines ordains a non-celibate homosexual man as priest.
1991 – Bishop Spong claims that Paul was probably homosexual, full of shame and self-loathing.
1991 – During the General Convention, the house of bishops rejects efforts to discipline Bishops Righter and Haines for the ordinations they performed.
1993 – Presiding Bishop Edmund Browning helped fund the re-imagining conference, which approved, among other things:
- Worship of the goddess Sophia who was to be “blessed, thanked and praised”
- The use of Cali, Quani, and Enna, three pagan goddesses, in the liturgy in place of the Holy Trinity
- The use of fertility rites in the liturgy
- A declaration that denied the necessity of the atonement
1994 – The number of missionaries was reduced by 2/3.
1995 – With regard to the ecclesiastical trial of Bishop Walter Righter, William Rankin, Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge said “Heresy implies orthodoxy, and we have no such thing in the Episcopal Church.”
1995 – Goddess worship was encouraged for college students.
1996 – Bishop Spong denied the existence of objective truth and stated that the Biblical God is not operative (see footnote 7).
Carolyn Irish was ordained as bishop without being baptized.
1998 – Bishop Spong was appointed to the theology committee.
The Lambeth Conference upheld Biblical sexuality.
2003 – Gene Robinson, a non-celibate, openly homosexual man, was ordained bishop.
Bishop Charles Bennison denied the perfect obedience of Jesus stating “Jesus acknowledged his own sin.”
2008 – In March, the House of Bishops deposed Bishop David Schofield for aligning with the orthodox Anglican Province of the Southern Cone
2008 – The House of Bishops, in an 88-35 vote, deposed Bishop Robert Duncan for aligning with the orthodox Anglican Province of the Southern Cone
2009 – The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katherine Jefferts Schori, denies the doctrine of individual salvation.
2011 – The EC launched an investigation of Bishop Lawrence of the diocese of South Carolina for opposing the ordination of homosexuals
This list is far from exhaustive; it merely highlights some of the worst so far. The full number of heretical teachings and blasphemous statements and acts in the Episcopal Church over the last fifty years could easily go on for many pages.
For every single act above, The Episcopal Church had an opportunity to take a stand for orthodoxy, the purity of the Church and the holiness of God’s name. At every stage, church discipline could have been exercised and the men and women responsible disciplined or excommunicated. Why did that not happen? Why did the Anglican Church in general, and the Episcopal Church in specific allow these people to go undisciplined?
At least part of the answer lies in the fact that the majority of the bishops in Great Britain, Canada and America have abandoned the doctrine of absolute truth. In 1953, English Archbishop William Temple wrote “There is no such thing as revealed truth. There are truths of revelation, that is to say, propositions which express the result of correct thinking concerning revelation; but they are not themselves directly revealed.” The importance of this statement cannot be underestimated. Archbishop Temple was saying that God did not reveal truth to man in propositional fashion, that is to say, in meaningful statements that can be communicated in plain language. If what Archbishop Temple said is true, God has not revealed Himself to man in the form of propositional truth, thus the Bible cannot be said to be true in any meaningful, normative sense. We cannot look to it to learn how we may be saved. It cannot tell us about God’s love for us. It cannot tell us how to live a life that is pleasing to Him. It cannot tell us what is right or wrong, or if such things as right or wrong exist. It cannot even tell us that there is a transcendent but personal God who exists outside of space and time.
Without the objective truth, propositionally stated in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible, the Episcopal Church has no reason to condone or condemn any statement or act from within its body. There is no basis for church discipline, lovingly applied. The church becomes whatever the majority of bishops decide it should be, and they can approve whatever behavior feels “right” to them. They can ordain witches as bishops without a qualm of conscience. They can claim that Buddhism and Christianity are equally true. The apostasy of the Episcopal Church has manifested itself in a variety of symptoms, including all those listed above and more, but its root cause is an abandonment of the absolute, objective truth of the Bible. Until the Episcopal Church returns to an orthodox understanding of Scripture, there will be no reversing the tide of apostasy.
This is not just happening in the Episcopal Church, but in the Presbyterian, Lutheran and Methodist Churches. Not surprisingly, the more politically correct and “inclusive” these churches become, the more people leave them. The Episcopal Church alone has lost 16% of its membership over the last ten years. Churches that tow the PC line have nothing to offer to the world that it cannot find in itself. Why bother going? It is only orthodox Christianity that offers meaningful answers, and as the liberal mainline denominations have lost members, the orthodox denominations have gained them.
So what are orthodox Anglican laymen and women in America to do (or Presbyterians, Methodists, or Lutherans, for that matter)? We cannot of ourselves force a diocese to leave the Episcopal Church for another province, or I’m sure many would already have done so. The most obvious and important thing is to pray for God to lovingly, but firmly correct those in error and bring them into the Church. But, to paraphrase High King Peter from Prince Caspian, God will act in His own time, not ours. In the meantime, He would like us to do what we can, and there is a lot we can do. First, we need to educate ourselves on the issues and become familiar with what Scripture says about them. Having done that, we can write to the rectors of our parishes and the bishops of our dioceses. We can nominate and elect conservative rectors, curates and vestry members. We can send orthodox Christians to our conferences. We can call, send emails, blog and tweet the truth to the world around us. A good friend of mine put it this way; we should pray as though we could not work, and we should work as though we could not pray.
There’s much more that could be said on the apostasy of the Church and what we can do about it, but that’s about enough for one blog post. Until the next one, let’s get busy praying and then get to work.
 Bishop James Pike, The Christian Century, Dec 21, 1960
 Bishop James Pike, Redbook, 8-1961
 Bishop John Robinson, Honest to God, 1963
 Canon Hugh Montifore, Christianity Today, 8-1967
 Bishop Daniel Corrigan, The Ordination of Women: Pro and Con, pp. 56-68
 Elaine Woo, Los Angeles Times, December 5, 2000
 Bishop Spong is the author what he refers to as the “Twelve Theses” which lay the foundation for a new reformation. These theses are:
- Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
- Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
- The Biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
- The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ’s divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
- The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
- The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
- Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
- The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
- There is no external, objective, revealed standard written in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
- Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
- The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
- All human beings bear God’s image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one’s being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.
 “It is not appropriate for this Church to ordain a practicing homosexual or any person who is engaged in heterosexual relations outside marriage.” From the 1979 General Convention resolution A053.
 “It may be that Jesus was an illegitimate son.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Cape Times, 10-24-1980.
 Evangelism When Certainty is an Illusion, John Shelby Spong, Christian Century, January 6-13, 1982, p. 11. Bishop Spong goes on to say “To be honest in our day is to embrace relativity as a virtue and to recognize that absolutism is a vice — any kind of absolutism, whether it be ecclesiastical, papal, biblical or the absolutism of sacred tradition. Embracing relativity will end for all time the religious imperialism that has far too often been a mark of evangelistic and missionary endeavors.”
 St. Louis Post Dispatch, 10-28-84. During an interview, Bishop Jenkins also stated “To believe in a Christian way, you don’t necessarily have to have a belief that Jesus was born from literally a virgin mother, nor a precise belief that the risen Jesus had a literally physical body.”
 Bishop John Shelby Spong, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, pp. 116-117.
 Witness Magazine, December 1995, p. 36
 Bishop Charles Bennison, The Challenge of Easter, The Pennsylvania Episcopalian, Vol. 14, No. 4, April 2003
 The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy – that we can be saved as individuals, that any of use alone can be in right relationship with God.
 Archbishop William Temple, Nature, Man and God, p 317.
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