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Source: American Anglican Council
The Presiding Bishop’s Opening Address: Confessional Christianity is a heresy
By The Rev. Phil Ashey,
Chaplain & C.O.O., American Anglican Council
I have just returned from the opening session of the 76th General Convention, and the address by the Presiding Bishop. I am still trying to digest what I have heard.
In stark contrast to the gathering of Anglicans two weeks ago in
Then the Presiding Bishop of TEC took the stand. She spoke about the crisis facing The Episcopal Church. “Crisis is always a remarkable opportunity,” she said. Speaking from her own experience as a pilot, she said it is a time to “aviate, navigate, and then communicate,” in that order. Always keep the plane flying through the crisis—even when you are not sure where you are.
She described the essential crisis within the Gospels as Jesus’ decision to set his face toward
And then in a cold, calm, defiant and defining voice she said, "The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy - that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It's caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of all being. That heresy is one reason for the theme of this Convention."
Wow. Did I really hear what I think I heard? Did I just hear the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church dismiss as heresy the confession of millions upon millions of Christ followers, from the Apostles to St. Augustine to the Wesleys to the GAFCON gathering of Anglicans last year to the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in the Church of England meeting in the UK right now to the multitudes throughout our own Anglican Communion who are invited to make a personal confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior — and who do so daily, often at great personal cost, as their churches and provinces explode with growth in numbers and mission?
How is it that a Church which has done everything to remove “heresy” from its vocabulary can now so confidently proclaim that confessional Christianity is heresy? How is it that a Church can dismiss the clear words of scripture (see e.g. Romans 10:9-10) as a mere “individualistic formula”? What audacity and pride drives a leader of a church to ignore the wealth of an over 2,000 years of uninterrupted tradition that holds that a person must confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in order to be a Christian?
I suppose the answer lies in part in what she went on to say: that Jesus Christ’s death on
So I guess if I want to follow the Presiding Bishop and the vision she is casting, I must conclude that Jesus was wrong when he said at
Is Jesus’ death on
Or is Jesus in fact who he and his followers claimed he is — the only way to the Father (John 14:6), the only name under heaven and earth whereby all may be saved (Acts 4:12), and the only one who had the character, authority and power to command us to make disciples of all nations, and to teach them to obey everything he commanded—including caring for the least, the last, and the lost? (Mattt. 28:16-20)
Thank you, Mrs. Jefferts Schori, for making the choice so very clear.