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June 26, 2009

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The Episcopal Church has been afflicted by controversies over theological and moral issues, including the authority of Scripture, the ordination of women and the ordination of an openly homosexual man as bishop.

We've already got plenty of denominations who take conservative positions on all three of those; we don't need another if those are the three deciding issues. In other words, if those are the three non-negotiables, then there are plenty of other denominational options out there to join; no need for a new one.

I know personally that while all those issues are important to this new group (because I personally know people who are part of this), the reason they won't join an existing denomination is because they want to remain part of the "Anglican communion."

And I haven't been able to understand this part yet. If the Anglican communion is on the proverbial slippery slope in America and in Europe, why not just let it slide all the way down and be done with? Jump of the sinking ship for one that's still afloat.

I'm not necessarily saying they're wrong for beginning something new; I'm probably neutral about it, really. But I would like to understand why holding on to the "Anglican Communion" is so important if the Episcopal Church is a fast sinking ship.

Anyone have insight here?

Where are all these different denominations in the Bible?

Awesome!

Where are all these different denominations in the Bible?

They didn't exist yet, because in early Christianity, Christianity was very localized in only a few cultures in a very small geographic region.

I realize your question was rhetorical, to a point, but I don't think the question really gets us anywhere.

brgulker,

The Anglican Communion is not sliding into heresy worldwide. Especially in Africa, it is vibrant, orthodox, and flourishing. There are real bonds of history, theology, and practice that connect the various provinces and members of the Anglican Communion. Properly speaking, the Anglican Communion IS the denomination. No other denomination teaches that specific spiritual point of view. Faithful Episcopals can't just go become Baptists because we both believe the inerrancy of Scripture and that homosexuality is wrong. What ACNA is seeking is to become what the Episcopal Church formerly was before they introduced new heretical teachings, i.e., the local expression and organization of the global Anglican denomination.

Tim,

I'm familiar with the African Anglican church. Actually, one of my friends in seminary grew up in an Episcopal church that recently came under the authority of an African bishop for the reasons cited above.

Thanks for the input.

Do you think 'heresy' is a bit strong here? The root of the issue is inerrancy, and personally, I would be very, very cautious about applying heresy to anyone -- especially someone who self-identifies as Christian but has a different view of Scripture and its inspiration. What do you think?

Of all the things you can "safely" conceede and still remain a christian, Innerancy, without question, is probably the most dangeorus one to drop. I wouldent go so far as to call someone heretical, but its a slippery slope that can open you up to alot of false-gospel. Its okay to have questions, but to drop innerancy, I think, is very very, very dangerous.

I agree though, you shuold use restraint when tossing out the word 'heretic'

I use the word 'heresy' because based on reports I've heard, the leaders of TEC no longer act like they're Christians. My own diocese held a joint Hindu-Christian mass in which the bishop apologized for Christian proselytizing in India. Does the insistence on referring to God as "Mother" count as heresy? It's certainly wrong, at least. And blatant, institutional, & aggressive approval of sin might not be considered 'heresy' in the sense of 'wrong theology,' but it would seem to indicate exclusion from the Kingdom of Heaven.

Note I did not say that sin will keep you out of Heaven. Only rejection of Christ can do that. I hope to see my heretical brothers in Heaven someday, but on earth I do everything in my power to censure their poison, whether you call it heresy or not.

Sin is exactly what keeps one from entering Heaven....isn't it heretical to say otherwise?

I've been listening to Bob George too much. (work at a radio station) A Christian doesn't lose his salvation just for committing a sin. Sin kept humanity from heaven, but Christ took away all sin. All men can enter heaven now if they only accept and abide in Christ.

Why debate over the justification of a new denomination when, I suspect if every church in the world were filled at worship time, the majority of the world population would be without a seat or place to stand.

I suspect that there are those who, due to culture, etc, prefer the worship at an Anglican church.

So be it...
By all means, save some!

Tim,

I think there is a mingling of different scenarios. A christian does not lose his salvation because of sinning. But the non-believer is kept from Heaven because of his sin.

Christ did not take all sin away because unbelief is a sin. If Christ took all sin away he then also took the sin of unbelief away. Thus, all men, believers and unbelievers, would be saved.

We know all men are not saved because of the existence of Hell. It seems more reasonable, and in my estimation biblical, to say that Jesus removed the sins of those who place their trust and belief in Him as the Son of God and Savior.

"If the Bible is not God's authoritative Word for mankind, then it's up for interpretation and change."

So ACNA is not going to re-interpret the Bible? Whose interpretation will they use? When the women's ordination divide finally reaches its breaking point, whose interpretation will they use?

"Some might wonder why the world needs another denomination."

Indeed, there always seems to be room for new denominations. It's just nice that this doesn't mean new interpretations, for once!

>Christ did not take all sin away because unbelief is a sin. If Christ took all sin away he then also took the sin of unbelief away. Thus, all men, believers and unbelievers, would be saved.

Problem; Unregenerate people are unable to believe in the saving sense of the term.

What purpose would it serve if Christ paid for all sin except the sin of unbelief, and people are unable to believe?

Shouldn't we consider that Christ paid for all sin, including the sin of unbelief, but God limits the application of Christ's atonement to the names written in the Book of Life?

In the ongoing debate between David Blain and Pro Life... so far I'm on Pro Life's side.

But the gist of my response to the original post is this: I don't consider ACNA a new denomination, and to call it such is misleading.

Pro Life,

Non-belief in Jesus as who He is, is a sin regardless of regeneration and thus irrelevant is the unregenerates ability to believe.

Christ did not die for the sins of everyman because everyman would eternally benefit unto salvation. This is not to say Christ's blood was/is insufficient for the sins of everyman but it is to say that God limits the atoning efficacy of Christs blood to the names written in the Book of Life. I think we are in agreement here.

If the Father does not apply the atoning sacrafice of Christ to the unregenerate then has Christ paid for their sins?

Slightly OT, but I am curious to engage on this and can't find the appropriate blog entry. This seems close...

Have been listening to Hank Hanegraaff this week as he covers "the essentials" of the Christian faith. He lists belief in the physical return of Christ as an essential. Am curious how many here believe that to be an essential of the faith, or a debatable? Knowing Hank's partial preterist position, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

I have a philosophical difficulty with his position (not really his only, probably widespread) that we are awaiting the Great Hope which is a literal New Heaven and a New Earth. In this place, Hank says, are glories unimaginable, where we will be continually learning about God, exploring His creation, etc. in our resurrected bodies.

BUT...

I am a result of my life's experiences. "Me" includes everything, good and bad. In Heaven, where will the "bad" part of me go? Will I be a Stepford version of "me," with my "bad" parts removed? If so, then, I will cease to be "me." See the problem? I cannot resolve this. If I'm not "me" in Heaven, then what's the point? Annihilationism sounds just as good; in fact, preferable.

Would welcome any thoughts. Thank you!

Perry, interesting question. I think it might help to examine what it would mean for someone to be lacking the "bad parts." Our culture generally has a strange view of this. For example, you refer to this as a "Stepford version" of yourself. The connotation is negative and it carries the idea that something important and real will be lacking from you. But think about Jesus--was he a "Stepford version" of a human being? He was perfect, but there was nothing negative about that, correct? So we know from this that there's nothing about the bad parts of us that is essential to human nature.

So I think a lot of your question comes back to the cultural belief that goodness is boring, or that it's fake and superficial, and the real stuff is hiding underneath. This is a false view of reality (and I think it comes from our fallenness which has created an inability in us to be able to love and appreciate real goodness). Think about a car that has a broken radiator, a damaged transmission, and several major dents that cause it to not work the way it was designed to. It can't go over 10 miles an hour, and it can't drive at night because the headlights are broken. If all those things are fixed, does the car become more of what it really is, or less? Will it thrive more, or less?

In the same way, we also have a purpose we were created for--to glorify God and enjoy him forever, but right now we're like the damaged car, and we're unable to fulfill this fully. Just as the car is repaired and finally becomes what it really is, so this is what will be done for us in our resurrection bodies. The damaged parts of ourselves--both physical and spiritual--will be restored to their proper functioning so that we'll finally fulfill what we were created to fulfill. We'll be able to see and appreciate true goodness. The bad parts of us aren't essential to us, they're hindering our proper function and development. Right now we can only go 10 miles an hour--and we can taste a little bit of speed, but soon we'll be able to go 70.

This is the idea of Romans 8:22-23:

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

However, we will remember our past and all the bad parts of it because it's through these things that we learned about God's grace, justice, mercy, holiness, forgiveness, power, strength, etc. So your past with your bad parts will indeed create who you are in heaven, but only in the sense that it helped you to know and appreciate God more fully.

Thoughts?

Thanks, Amy. I think we run into trouble when we try and describe Heaven in terms of a glorified version of a physical reality on Earth. If it's true that "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man what God has prepared for those who love Him," then indeed we'll always be flat-footed when we try and place Heaven in terms of a physical reality, or a place "we go to." That's why Hanegraaf's description just left me so...blehhh. It sounds so mundane when explained in terms of "what we'll do."

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