The Episcopal Church is easy to make fun of. Easy to do, but it’s akin to shooting a tuna in a barrel. Not very sporting. But Episcopalians have brought much of this grief on themselves over the past few decades. Today they are perhaps best known as a collection of guilty but affluent white liberals. Which provides the sharpest possible contrast with the vast majority of the world’s Anglicans, who tend to be poor, theologically conservative, and not white.
In different words, there are some good reasons why erstwhile strongholds of Anglicanism such as Truro Church here in Virginia may soon place themselves under the pastoral care of a Nigerian bishop. It’s not because they’ve changed. It’s because the “leadership” of the denomination appears to be more interested in making political and social policy points than in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, is what one might consider a liberal’s liberal. What does this mean in practice? Let me defer to a voice far greater than mine, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, who, in his at once subtle and not-so-subtle way wrote about Schori thus (linked here; but subscription may be required):
In another interview, with Time magazine…[Schori] is asked, “What will be your focus as head of the U.S. church?” Answer: “Our focus needs to be on feeding people who go to bed hungry, on providing primary education to girls and boys, on healing people with AIDS, on addressing tuberculosis and malaria, on sustainable development. That ought to be the primary focus.” It’s an updated version of Our Lord’s Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, in a manner of speaking. But perhaps preaching the gospel and saving souls is included in a secondary focus, so to speak.
This is, in a nutshell, the liberal churches’ disease: they treat the symptoms, but ignore the root cause. Which is, of course, salvation.
Look, one need not be a Christian, although it is the best available confession. To be a Christian, one must do but one important thing: confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Everything else will flow from this. And, if you are a member of a confessing church, which the Episcopalians claim to be, this is all you should be about as a church.
What, say you? What about charity, helping the helpless? Jesus was quite clear on these things, and they are, of course, what a Christian must do. But they are not sufficient. Any atheist can do good. But churches must not become mere social welfare agencies. The instant they cease to preach the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ is the instant they lose any relevance as a Christian church.
It appears that the Episcopalians are now led by someone who is not, to be gentle, standing in the gap and preaching the gospel to the unsaved.