Friday, October 31, 2008
"Contending for the Faith"
NOTE: Oh, Good Grief! This is such a 'spin job' it makes me dizzy! Then again, Iker learned it from the "Theological Spin Master," himself.
The following article appeared in the Diocese of Fort Worth's Newsletter, in preparation for their diocesan convention, November 14 & 15, which will vote for the second time to change its constitution and canons and "realign" with The Anglican Diocese of the Southern Cone.
How sad. How very, very sad.
And, insulting to the intelligence and soul of Episcopalians who are very members incorporate of the World Wide Anglican Communion.
Really! Who is he trying to kid?
“Contending for the Faith” is the theme of this year’s Diocesan Convention, and it aptly describes what lies at the heart of the controversy that surrounds us.
Others have argued that it is a matter of contending for property, or contending for the authority of The Episcopal Church over us, or contending for homosexual rights in the church.
But these are simply some of the side issues confronting us. The real issue is the faith. We are taking a stand for the historic faith and practice of the Bible, as we have received them, and against the continuing erosion of that faith by TEC. This Diocese stands for orthodox Christianity. TEC stands for a revisionist and compromised version of what the Church has always taught.
In introducing the proposed changes to our Constitution and Canons for last year’s Convention, the Standing Committee wrote: “To submit to and comply with the current direction of the General Convention would mean for us to embrace a distortion of the Christian faith that our forebears would not recognize as a continuation of ‘the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship.’…
We cannot act against our conscience and in violation of the faith once delivered to the saints.” One year later, after much debate and discussion, our resolve remains the same: to fearlessly contend for the faith.
The Remain Episcopal group that has urged the Diocese to continue in TEC as the “faithful remnant” claims, ‘It is not important what we believe. We value diverse beliefs in this church. What is important is that we remain together and worship together as Episcopalians.’
However, this same group is now urging that, beginning the day after our Convention vote, “loyal” Episcopalians must find some place else to meet and worship with a “loyal” TEC priest.
Their message is, ‘Don’t worship with those people who have aligned themselves with the Province of the Southern Cone! Let’s take them to court and seize their buildings and assets!’ Such is the cost of taking a stand for the truth and contending for the faith.
I am told that there are still some people in the pews who wonder what this is all about – what are the real issues that separate us from TEC? Allow me to provide a brief summary of just a few of them:
• Our Diocese believes in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. TEC believes there are many ways to salvation and that all religions lead to God.
• Our Diocese believes in the authority of Holy Scripture in all matters of faith and morals. TEC believes the Bible needs to be revised and adapted to meet the changing culture and that it may mean different things in different social contexts.
• Our Diocese believes that the essentials of the Christian Faith have been revealed once and for all in the teachings of Jesus Christ and are not subject to change. TEC believes in a revisionist approach that says only the votes of successive General Conventions can determine doctrinal and faith issues for Episcopalians as times change.
• Our Diocese believes that all ordained clergy are under the obligation to model in their own lives the received teaching of the Church that all its members are to abstain from sexual relations outside Holy Matrimony. TEC believes that active homosexuals and bisexuals ?should be ordained to the sacred ministry of bishops, priests and deacons.
• Our Diocese believes that marriage is the exclusive physical and spiritual union of one man and one woman for life. TEC believes same sex relationships are good and holy and should be blessed and celebrated.
• Our Diocese believes in the sacredness of human life from conception. TEC affirms abortion on demand.
• Our Diocese has endorsed from the very beginning the position of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998) on sexuality, the recommendations of the Windsor Report (2004) on how to keep us together as a Communion, and the need for an Anglican Covenant that will define the limits of diversity. TEC has repudiated the Lambeth resolution on human sexuality, acted in defiance of the Windsor Report, and will only accept a future Covenant if there are no consequences for breaking it!
• Our Diocese believes that the theological issue of the ordination of women as priests and bishops is a matter of conscience and must not be forced on anyone. TEC believes this matter has been decided for Episcopalians and that acceptance of it is mandatory in every diocese.
• Our Diocese has constitutional and canonical provisions that place all church property in the name of the Corporation of this Diocese, to be held in trust for the use of each local congregation. TEC claims that all church property belongs to them, a claim first made by General Convention in 1979.
• Our Diocese believes that heretical teaching by the church causes separation and division, that unity and truth must go together. TEC believes we should tolerate heresies and false teaching for the sake of remaining together.
• Our Diocese maintains that just as we voted to come into union with the General Convention in 1982, so we have the right to dissolve that union in 2008. TEC believes our affiliation with General Convention is irrevocable.
• Our Diocese stands with the vast majority of Anglicans around the world. TEC is a declining body and very much out of the mainstream of orthodox Christianity, both here and abroad.
The list could go on and on, but I think these few examples should suffice. The choice before us is clear. Will we contend for the faith as we have received it? Or we will accept the ongoing innovations and revisions of General Convention religion?
The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth