Thursday, June 4, 2009

Can an Episcopalian be Christian?

Last Sunday while listening to the preaching of Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, Dr Lutzer told this story. Upon my approach to the airport, I looked out the window of the air plane to see if I could see Moody Church. "Wait a minute," I said, "that building is not the church! What an awakening I had at that moment. The church is not of bricks and mortar, the church is people, the church is invisible"

Of course, we do have a visible church, yet still the church is the people. The church extends far beyond denominationalism. To quote a Nigerian bishop of the Anglican Church, "Let the bishop have the stones." Stones are not the Church!

To all the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Pentecostals etc. Are you aware that the church is catholic? The invisible Church of God is catholic? Do you understand the church is universal?

Oh, to say the word catholic, not me say’s the Baptist, not me says the Presbyterian, not me says the Lutheran, not me says the Pentecostal or Methodist. Well, all Christians are catholic (not Roman Catholic). We are catholic relating to the historic doctrines of the church. I realize there are some Christians who want to be separated from other Christians but it just cannot happen. Who saved you? Who called you? It is by Christ we are saved, regenerated, and sanctified. Our salvation is of God not of our selves. So tell me how can you separate yourselves from others whom God has called? To quote another, “Who do you think you are, it is God who calls.”

The term “Catholic Church” was used first by St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 100 A.D.) who in his letter to the Smyrnaens wrote: “Where Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic Church” (As a side note, too bad the stake driven in the ground on baptism, baptist etc. of this time period didn't include the catholicity of the church.) Where Jesus Christ is there is the Catholic Church, the Universal Church of God.

All this is said to introduce the article I am posting below. Can a member of an Episcopal Church be Christian? Baptists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, and some Reformed would ask this question. Can a person be Episcopalian and be part of the invisible church? Read the article below. Let us know what you think.

Please allow me to introduce you to the Christian character of the congregation of Holy Trinity Anglican Church and help you understand the exemplary caliber of the congregation, witnessed by their love for God, for each other, and for their church. I sincerely believe that this is a body of believers that you—in particular those of the Anglican communion, will be pleased and blessed to be associated with.

Holy Trinity was officially established on Pentecost Sunday, May 27, 2007 when the rector and the entire congregation formally aligned with the Convocation of Anglican in North America (CANA). The congregation, historically known as Trinity Church Society of Bristol, Connecticut, was a pre-revolutionary war parish, established in 1747 and had a long and proud history of Anglican worship, ministry and mission in the Bristol area. Remaining associated with the Episcopal Church USA became increasingly untenable and decision to disassociate from the Episcopal Church was made. However it was the strong desire of this 253-year-old parish family to continue in the Anglican tradition, but under the leadership of orthodox (meaning not revisionist), godly, leadership. Hence alignment with CANA.

A question often asked is why was the realignment deemed so important to this congregation? The Senior Warden, in response to a similar question, offered the short and most succinct answer. He wrote: “We undertake this move in response to the Diocese of Connecticut and The Episcopal Church abandoning core teachings of the Bible and of the historic Anglican Faith regarding the gospel of Jesus Christ and the authority of Holy Scripture in the ordering of our lives together in the Worldwide Anglican Communion.”

A more detailed response is that we, as many throughout the country and, indeed, the world, have observed the continual slide of the Episcopal Church into ungodly belief and practice. Please pray for repentance and return to the historic faith handed down in the Anglican Communion for centuries were, and continue to be, ignored and even scoffed at.

One example of the depth and destructive nature of revisionist belief and teaching is this: Many in the Episcopal Church, including the Presiding Bishop, openly and publicly deny the assertion of Jesus, recorded in John 14:6, where he says “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In the Episcopal Church, at the very top of it’s clergy leadership and in direct contradiction to Scripture, Jesus is now being presented as one of several ways to reach God. This assertion flies in the face of long-held Christian beliefs and could not be overlooked by this body of Anglican believers.

Yet that is but one of several examples of a church that has abandoned the historic, orthodox faith and was increasingly pressuring everyone to adhere to these ungodly teachings. Another example—and a particularly insidious one—is the Bible being presented and augured as a man-written book, which can be modified as the church sees fit. Again, from some in that church leadership, we read comments such as “Man wrote the Bible, man can change it.” This is a gross misunderstanding of Holy Scripture and is unacceptable teaching in the Christian belief system. This congregation, now Holy Trinity Anglican Church, continues to receive the Holy Scriptures as “God-breathed and inspired by God Himself. Not only do we, this congregation, make that assertion but our own Articles of Religion state that “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”

Again, from leadership of our congregation, “These two key shifts show that the Diocese of Connecticut and The Episcopal Church have chosen to walk apart from foundational teachings of orthodox Christianity and Anglican tradition. We at (now Holy Trinity) Trinity Church believe that denying these long-held teachings strikes at the very heart of what we believe as disciples of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To embrace such false teaching would undermine both our witness to the world as Christians and our integrity as believers of the truth of His gospel message to that world.”

Yet this chosen realignment, in order to place ourselves under godly leadership, came about only after several years of struggle and numerous attempts to identify ways we could in good Christian conscience, remain associated with The Episcopal Church USA and more specifically, in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. It is now a matter of history that the realignment resulted in much sacrifice by the congregation, perhaps most notably being forced to leave behind a beautiful sanctuary and historic worship space where so many of them, or their parents or grandparents, had been baptized, worshiped, married, even buried. The building, as of this writing, stands empty and will soon be put up for sale to used for what purpose only God knows. Cremains of family members and loved ones interned in the Rose Garden will be removed. The place is no longer a sanctuary because there is no congregation to worship there or to call it home.

So yes, there has been struggle and sacrifice by this congregation. But, nearly to a person they have willingly paid the price to be free from such—what we see as apostasy and religious tyranny. But don’t expect despair and gloom when you come into the presence of the people of Holy Trinity Anglican Church. In our conversations we used to hear comments like “A church is not the stones,” or “the church is the people, not the steeple,” or to quote one Nigerian bishop, “let the bishop have the stones.”

Now you will encounter people who have as their personal vision to become Galatians 2:20 Christians who can boldly proclaim “ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” You will encounter people whose mission in life is “To Know God and Make Him Known” to a community and society—even churches—who often don’t know God or who He is. Now you hear proclamations such as “We were delivered, not evicted,” and, “The best (for this body) is yet to come.” With this attitude and devotion to having Christ be the head of our church, this is a body of believers that cannot be defeated. They are building a church, with Jesus Christ at the center—the very core, that the “gates of hell will not prevail against.”

Perhaps this will give you somewhat of a flavor for what to expect in and of Holy Trinity Church. Perhaps these are people that you would like to learn more about and a church you would like to be associated with.

We will answer any question to the best of our ability and we will assist you in any way we can. [1]

God Bless!

Ken Clouse
Lay Administrator NEMRS

Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Soli Deo Gloria

[1]Fr. Don Helmandollar. Why We Left the Episcopal Church

No comments: