Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: Gravel instead of the Bread of Life
O LORD, God of my salvation,
         I have cried out day and night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
         Incline Your ear to my cry. 

Psalm 88:1-2 (NKJV)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Gravel instead of the Bread of Life

Membership in the Episcopal Church has dropped below two million.

Key quote:

For the first time in 75 years, The Episcopal Church's total membership dipped below the two million member mark. TEC's just-released official 2014 stats show worldwide church membership standing at 1,956,042. The last time Episcopal Church membership was below two million was in 1939 when there were 1,996,434 Episcopalians.

At the close of World War II, the Episcopal Church had a high water mark of 7,894 congregations; following the war, with the glut of baby boomers, The Episcopal Church grew and and climbed over the three million mark in 1958 with 3,126,662 members. TEC's membership peaked in 1966 with a 3,429,153 baptized souls.

From 1967 until 2003, when gay Bishop Vicky Gene Robinson (IX New Hampshire) burst upon the scene, the Episcopal Church's membership ebbed and flowed -- up one year and down another. Once Bishop Robinson joined the House of Bishops, TEC's worldwide membership has steadily declined from 2,419,562 (2003) to 1,956,042 (2014), a loss of 463,520 souls in just a little more than a decade.

I am sure that defenders of the Episcopal Church respond that other denominations are losing members as well. But pointing out this broad loss of membership cutting across all denominations, while accurate, skirts a major issue raised back when the Episcopal Church began its very public self-immolation. Rejecting the Gospel in favor of trendy progressive positions was supposed to arrest this decline, or so we were told. What happened?

In his 1990 book Living in Sin? retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong made the claim that traditional Christian views on marriage and sexuality were driven by ignorance and misogyny. The Christian church could only be saved if it adapted to the prevailing culture and embraced behavior it once called sinful. Bishop Spong's book is an interesting mixture of Biblical illiteracy and wishful thinking, so perhaps it is not surprising that his prescription has failed.

Thanks to false teachers in the Episcopal Church such as Bishop Spong and Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori the Episcopal Church traded the Bread of Life for a handful of gravel.

I believe the decline in Christianity in western nations is not because of a failure to adapt to modern progressive culture (sorry, Bishop Spong), but is actually the result of the culture's profoundly totalitarian nature. Modern progressivism has a pronounced hostility to any authority except its own and is willing to destroy those it deems Enemies of the People. The rise of the Twitter mob (McCarthyism on steroids), campus speech codes, so-called "hate crime" laws are ways this worldview is enforced. Are you reluctance to embrace the homosexual lifestyle? You must be a homophobe! Does feminism leave you uneasy or abortion make you squeamish? Obviously you hate women! Think Bruce Jenner is just an overexposed celebrity? Hater! The list of thoughtcrimes grows daily, and collaborating with the culture (as the Episcopal Church has done) will not spare you in the end.

This is a depressing point of view, but can anyone reasonably argue otherwise? And if it is correct what should Christians do?

Obviously, we cannot respond in kind. You cannot fight a Twitter mob with another Twitter mob, or craft "hate crime" laws that punish critics of Christianity, or any other type of retaliation. Only the devil wins that kind of battle.

Instead we must pray. Pray to God for forgiveness for own sins and the sins of our nation. Pray that we are spared the coming persecution, but even so pray that God's will be done.

Choose the Bread of Life. Accept no substitutes.

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