I go to a loving, growing, Biblically based, fantastic and conservative Episcopal church. Yes, I know that sounds strange. Given all the rotten things that are happening right now in the national church, and thus causing problems in the worldwide Anglican communion, there has been much discussion lately about whether conservative Christians should stay within our wonderful conservative Episcopal parish, or leave in protest of the wider doings of the national leadership. They are good discussions, and good questions, and big problems. Recently a friend of mine wrote an apologetic for leaving. (I tried to link to it, but I couldn't find the original post on her blog.) It was really good and made me think a lot, and this was the result. I make no claims that mine is as well written! But I do think that it might be worth saying. So here it is. An apologetic for staying.
I’m a protestant. I believe that there are times when you must put your foot down and say “this is heresy and cannot stand.” I also believe that history has shown that leaving the church to make your point about heresy only makes a bad situation worse. Look at the proliferation of little “denominations” (and “non-denominations”, for that matter) that have resulted from the Protestant Reformation. The splintering of God’s holy people in such a way is in direct opposition to Christ’s prayer “that we all may be one.” Instead of battling it out within the church (think: Arius vs. Athanasius) we have dismantled the church to the point where it is hardly recognizable. Now instead of having our fight and having it done, we have hundreds of denominations, many denouncing each other and crying “heresy” all the more. This is not a good result.
Martin Luther knew that leaving the church was not a good idea. He stayed until the church forced him out (granted that he was particularly inflamatory and you can hardly blame the church for not liking him!) and it was his followers who created the “denomination” as we know it.
The Episcopal church has “erred and strayed like lost sheep”. It makes me sad and angry and sometimes horrified to learn what our leadership has done and continues to do. We have gone our own way and spit in the eye of those who tried to direct us back to truth – all in the name of “listening to the Holy Spirit.” I cannot believe how patient God has been with us.
But there is good news as well. The Episcopal church has been in a steady decline for decades. Those of liberal theology are aging and not reproducing themselves; churches are slowly emptying and unable to pay the bills. The liberal church is dying by its own choices. Contrast this with Blessed Sacrament, a bastion of orthodoxy and adherence to the gospel. Here we find over fifty college students and recent graduates, drawn to the fullness of the faith. Here we find more than thirty young families, just starting out, many with multiple small children. Here also we find the elderly, a vibrant part of church life and ministry, giving their wisdom to the younger families. This is not a dying church – we are alive and growing; evangelizing and raising up children. This church which stands firmly on the solid rock of Christ’s Gospel is drawing more to Him than those churches which preach “love” without discipline, “acceptance” without commitment, and “tolerance” without truth.
Liberal theology will fail. It may take many more decades, but it can’t stay on the path it is on and continue forever. I want to be there when we’re the majority again.