Carol Platt Liebau: Episcopal Decline

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Episcopal Decline

Here's a story about the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. It's self-consciously "liberal," -- and its membership has declined even more radically than that of the Episcopal Church as a whole. Is this a coincidence?

Hardly. Every decent Episcopal church will teach about the "social justice" of the gospel -- i.e., taking care of the poor, loving one's neighbors, turning the other cheek, etc., etc. But the difference -- as far as I can tell, having grown up in a theologically conservative Episcopal Church, and now having been exposed to the far more liberal varieties -- is that in the former, the way that the gospel lessons are to be applied to current political controversies is left to the congregant. In the liberal churches, one is forced to confront the political proclivities of the rector speaking from the pulpit, Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. Trust me, it gets tiresome.

The linked piece seems to believe that the problem with the Church is its seminaries' emphasis on theology, and the corresponding paucity of "church management" instruction that budding rectors receive. I disagree. The problem is that liberals have overtaken the Episocpal Church to such a degree that it's lost any sense of a communal identity -- and few Episcopalians can really tell you what their church, as a whole, really stands for.

After all, on the left, there is John Shelby Spong, a retired bishop who has rejected most of the central tenets of Christianity -- yet remains an influential voice within the Church. On the right are those who belong to the traditionalist American Anglican Council. So official church doctrine is . . .?

How can anyone be persuaded to join any organization of any kind if those issuing the invitation can't define what the organization is about?

One of the wonderful things -- originally -- about being an Episcopalian is that there was slightly more doctrinal flexibility than in say, the Catholic Church. Sadly, radicals like Spong took that flexibility and exploited it to the point where traditional Church teachings are ignored, if not derided. And now, the Episcopal Church has, in many instances, strayed so far from what it's supposed to be about that it's lunacy to think that a better church "welcoming committee" is going to solve the problem.

And, by the way, Newark has lost more Episopalians than most, over the years. John Shelby Spong is the retired Bishop of Newark. Coincidence? You decide . . .


Blogger stackja1945 said...

The Ten Commandments should be obeyed or it is not a church.

12:51 AM  

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