“Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?” trended on Twitter a few days ago. I clicked on the statement, scrolled through the tweets, and selected a link to a recent New York Times article detailing the current membership decline transpiring in Episcopalian churches across the nation. The substantial exodus appears attributable to the Episcopalian hierarchy’s embracing and championing of lifestyles identified as sinful in the Word of God.
In 1998, Episcopal Bishop of Newark, John Shelby Spong, published a book entitled, “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” Though a controversial and divisive figure, many current leaders in the Episcopal church espouse his ideology, forging ahead with a concerted effort to lead their diocese to assimilate with the mores’ of the time. According to current membership numbers, the Episcopal Church is on the proverbial “ropes.”
The Disastrous Impact of Liberal Christianity
So, why has the average Sunday attendance dropped 23% in the last ten years? According to the article, the Church has become,
“flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology in favor of secular political causes.” (NewYork Times, July 2012)
Many Episcopalians distanced themselves from the denomination when the Church’s House of Bishops approved a rite to bless same-sex unions. And though many bemoan the church’s wandering from truths taught in Scripture, the current Episcopal presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori traverses even further from the truth. She endorses same-sex marriage,
“prayed to a female Jesus at the Columbus convention and invited former Newark, N.J., bishop John Shelby Spong, famous for denying Christ’s divinity, to address her priests.” (L.A. Times, 2006)
Of course Liberal pundits applaud this tolerant form of Christianity. In fact, many of the Episcopal congregations adopted a more liberal philosophy to woo a younger, more open minded demographic. Tragically, the most liberal dioceses continue playing “Nearer My God to Thee” while the “Titanic” plunges to the depths. Sociologist Rodney Stark and historian Phillip Jenkins state that “the more demands, ethical, and doctrinal, that a faith places upon its adherents, the deeper the adherents’ commitment to that faith.” L.A. Times contributor Charlotte Allen writes, “When your religion says “whatever” on doctrinal matters, regards Jesus as another wise teacher, refuses on principle to evangelize and lets you do pretty much what you want, it’s a short step to deciding that one of the things you don’t want to do is get up on Sunday morning and go to Church.” In other words, a hungering for truth exists and if the world offers the same ideology as the Church, why clutter the schedule with one more obligation?
In writing this article, do I intend to denigrate the Episcopalians and their churches? No. I write this post as a warning shot. Any denomination that considers adopting a more “liberal Christianity” world view risks the mass departure of active members and worshippers. The world needs a moral system superior to what’s produced by out of touch Hollywood elitists. God reveals that moral system in His Word. When a church or an individual metamorphoses to be politically correct, a biblically conscientious congregant quickly realizes that their denomination offers nothing more than secular liberalism. The Bible teaches that as believers we live in this world but are not of it. If a church welcomes aberrant behavior as normal and propagates a woman’s right to abortion, then worshippers ought to feel free to lay alms at a voting booth once every four years instead of darkening the door of a sanctuary.
Romans 12:1-2 states, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will..”
I Peter 2:11 reminds, “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. ”
When fleshly lusts stroll into a body of believers, invited by the powers that be, God cranks the spigot of favor off, not even a drip escapes His fountain of blessing. People then choose. Should my ideology evolve with the times or hold fast to Scripture?
When facing a crisis of belief and a moral dilemma, if man’s creed contradicts the Bible, then the tenets of mankind deserve the designation of ignorant and godless. Why? “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8