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Lessons From the Episcopal Church



My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand.


John 10:27-28

On March 17, 2019, the Episcopal Church became the proud owner of yet another empty, shuttered church building: my own.


Church of the Annunciation was founded by my parents in the mid 1980’s, when I was in preschool. The presiding bishop wrote, “You are called to be evangelists… to proclaim by word and deed the message of salvation, the Good News of Jesus the Christ… you are called to serve those who are not yet among you.”


Meeting in the basement of an old school building, without heat, didn’t hinder vibrant congregational growth. The Lord blessed us, and in 1994, we broke ground on our very own church building—a building that, for decades to come, served as the house of our precious Lord and the home of our close-knit, deeply and abidingly loving, congregational fellowship.


Yesterday, as I drove past my now-shuttered church, I was struck by its lifelessness…


Long-stemmed weeds accentuate an unkempt lawn.


The only remnant of a large, vibrantly-colored, roadside banner is a tall, empty, metal frame; the void in the center mirroring the vacuous conscience of the wayward national denomination caught in a death spiral, plummeting ever-faster toward the depths of Hell.


Though I officially separated from the national church in 2015, yesterday’s woeful sight acutely penetrated my heart with pain.


I wept.


Any time a branch of Christianity devolves into a state of apostasy, as the US Episcopal church has unquestionably done, it damages and impairs the Christian witness of the entire body of Christ, and it imperils the eternal salvation of countless souls.

“There was never anything so well devised by men which in continuance of time hath not been corrupted.”

– Thomas Cranmer

And, yet…


For those keen to see, one of the mightiest demonstrations of the immense power of God’s Word that American Christianity has seen in the past century is playing out before our very eyes!


We are witnessing the enormous power of God’s Word.


For the full realization of the divine magnitude of this moment and its far-reaching effects, together let us briefly walk backward in time…


“In the scriptures be the fat pastures of the soul…”


The Anglican Communion is the largest Protestant communion on the planet. This fellowship has no central power. Rather, it is made up of autonomous provinces. The Episcopal Church is one province within the Anglican Communion.


Christianity had spread to England by 67 AD [1]. “Anglican” means “English.” What we now refer to as the Anglican Church was born in the English Reformation.


Thomas Cranmer, a leader of the English Reformation, wrote:


In the scriptures be the fat pastures of the soul; therein is no venomous meat, no unwholesome thing; they be the very dainty and pure feeding. He that is ignorant shall find there what he should learn.


The centrality of God’s Word for Anglican orthodoxy and orthopraxy audaciously declares that the “Holy Scriptures containeth all things necessary to salvation,” [2]. In fact, when visiting an Anglican Church on a Sunday morning, one of the first things that visitors notice is the breadth of Holy Scriptures read during the service.


This emphasis on Scripture is by design.

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience, and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.




A Prayer by Thomas Cranmer

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” (2 Tim. 3:16). And, in the Scriptures, God has instructed us on the importance of reading His Word. For example:


  • Paul instructed Timothy to “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Tim 4:13).

  • The ancient Jews read Scripture aloud together, in accordance with the command in Deuteronomy (4:10) to do so: “‘Gather the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words, so that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.”

  • Christ offered Himself as our ultimate example, standing and reading Scripture aloud in the Synagogue.

In respect to the Scriptures, Thomas Cranmer, “restored the ancient practice of reading through the entire Bible in daily prayer. His greatest desire was to put the Bible and prayer in the hands of ordinary people so that they would be in a place where the God of the Bible could transform their hearts and lives. This is why Cranmer devised a Bible reading plan (lectionary) through which everyone could hear the Scriptures on a regular basis,” [3].


For Anglicans, “Reading Scripture publicly should really not be seen as optional. It’s not the same as reading alone by yourself. And it’s not the same as just hearing one passage read before a sermon. Reading Scripture aloud is its own thing – and it is an ancient, biblical, and helpful practice,” [4].


“In a stroke, [Cranmer] made the Church of England the greatest Bible-reading church in the world. Nowhere else is the Bible read so regularly, so comprehensively, and at such length as in the public worship of the Anglican Communion,” [5].


The Lectionary is followed by individuals each day, outside of church walls, and by each church in public worship/instruction.


Less of a matter of “tradition,” Anglicans believe that following the Lectionary aids us in fixing our focus upon Christ alone (emphasis mine):


This is an ancient tradition that goes back even to the Jewish practices before the time of Jesus. By sharing the same readings, we are worshipping together with Christians all over the world.


And the Lectionary also has the effect of keeping the personality of the priest from overly dominating the themes and focus of worship. The priest may not mean to do so, but if one person selects all the readings personally, all year long, they will inevitably follow a narrow pattern of personal interest, [6].


The Anglican service includes the reading of one section from the four parts of the Bible: from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Epistles, and the Gospel. Each is of special importance:


Reading from the Old Testament is important. It is the book that prepares the way for Jesus Christ. It connects us with the People of God all the way back to the creation of humankind.


Reciting a Psalm together is the biblical way to praise and pray as a response to the rest of the readings.


Reading from the Epistles fulfills Paul’s directive to read the Letters aloud and pass them along. These letters also teach us the meaning and effect of the Gospel.


Reading from the Gospels is the capstone moment. This is where we hear the words and deeds of our Lord. As the Head of the Church, he speaks to us, [7].


Of its devotion to the reading of God’s Word, it has been said that “in no other church anywhere is the Bible read in public worship so regularly, with such order, and at such length, as in the Anglican fellowship of Churches,” [8].

Let us reverently hear and read Holy Scripture, which is the Food of the soul. Let us diligently search for the well of life in the books of the New and Old Testament, and not run to the stinking puddles of men’s traditions, devised by men’s imaginations, for our justification and salvation.


From the Homily on Scripture

From Christianity to Solipsism


Unfortunately, the hierarchical polity of Anglican provinces has provided an avenue to power for ambitious change agents… for infiltration by wolves.


Long ago hijacked by malevolent characters masquerading as angels of light, in 2004, the Episcopal Church of the United States officially careened over the side of a steep, unforgiving cliff. That was the year that Gene Robinson was ordained as a bishop—a man who had abandoned his wife and children to have sex with other men. And, so began the slow, agonizing, painful death of my own little fellowship: Church of the Annunciation.


Orthodoxically-adherent churches, hoping to stay and fight for the faith, cannot remain yoked to a hierarchy piloted by evil and expect to live on beyond a season; the good Christian priests remaining won’t live forever.


Nor can such churches expect to be permitted a moment’s rest from Lucifer and his minions.


Evil pursues.


Evil harasses.


Evil never sleeps.


What began in 2015


More about Gene Robinson:


  • In 2005, Gene Robinson addressed the 5th annual Planned Parenthood “Prayer Breakfast.”

  • In Washington D.C. in 2006, Robinson declared that orthodox Christians are the enemy, and stated: “We have allowed the Bible to be taken hostage, and it is being wielded by folks who would use it to hit us over the head… The sin of Sodom had nothing to do with homosexual sex, but was a failure to care for the poor, the widows, and the orphans. Scripture is not as plainspoken as some would have us believe.”


  • In 2014, Former President Barack Obama recruited Gene Robinson to give a prayer at the Whitehouse’s Easter Prayer Breakfast;


[All readers are now permitted to go vomit.]


Since Robinson’s ordination, the Episcopal Church has ceased to be Christian. Consider the following actions of what can now only be described as an unholy, Solipsist organization:


  • General Convention failed to approve a measure of reaffirmation asserting that Jesus Christ is the Lord our God and the singular avenue to eternal salvation;

  • An Episcopal theologian, among others within the denomination, stated that, “Man wrote the Bible, man can change it;” 

  • General Convention approved a blessing for transgender clergy;

  • The former presiding bishop used the phrase, “Mother Jesus” in a sermon;

  • Despite the deep familial language woven throughout Scripture, the church has moved to institute gender neutral language. I wrote about this: article 1, article 2, article 3;

  • General Convention has moved to impose speech codes on priests and congregations.

The inability of General Convention to affirm Jesus Christ as Lord is, alone, proof positive that the Episcopal “Church” in the US is no longer a Christian church.


Scores of empty buildings showcase how little remains of the faith of America’s Founding Fathers.

Whatsoever the church teacheth you out of the Canonical books of the Bible, believe that; but if they teach you anything beside (I mean, which is not agreeable with the same) believe neither that nor them...cleave ye fast to the sound and certain doctrine of God’s infallible word, written in the Canonical books of the New and Old Testament.


-Thomas Cranmer

“My sheep hear My voice… and they follow Me”


As Christians, you and I know that God’s infallible Word has the power to topple mountains, sever strongholds, and lead the dead into life eternal.


Let us recall what the Lord has told us about the power of His mighty Word:

  • “For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

  • “Is not my Word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29)

The Anglican Church’s greatest strength has been its dedication to the robust reading of Holy Scripture.


So, it will not come as a surprise to you that the US Episcopal Church’s greatest strength is simultaneously, righteously instituting its destruction.


THIS is the power of God’s Word!


For over a decade now, a mass exodus has been taking place. The US Episcopal Church is hemorrhaging members: unwilling to repent, every mortal effort the church has made has not stopped its profuse bleeding.


Members are running toward the exits.


Entire dioceses have seceded.


I, myself, officially defected from the national church in 2015, when the General Convention formally disavowed the divine, unchangeable definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.


An educated populace is not so easily fooled.


The US Episcopalian populace, having been saturated in the deep well of Holy Scripture, is a well-educated populace on the move… out the door.


THIS is the power of God’s Word!


As Christ declared:


My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

-John 10:27-28


As the chrome wheels of a vehicle engulfed in a raging inferno are melted into a shapeless puddle, only the purest metal – the frame of the vehicle - remains. God’s Word is a mighty, purifying fire—destroying all that is false and mortal; only the purest remain unscathed.


God's Word is an iron hammer falling mightily upon the anvil. With each clang, His Word rouses and fortifies the conscience of the living Body of Christ. With each powerful blow, His Word crushes that which is evil.


The totality of Christian teaching on the power of the Almighty Word is visible at this very instant. His Word is animating His sheep before our very eyes, as Christ’s sheep are called out in mass from the temples of darkness, death, and despair. Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians… thousands upon thousands are being called out by God’s mighty, infallible, indestructible Word.


THIS is the power of God’s Word!

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven

and do not return there but water the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,

rgiving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth;

it shall not return to Me empty,

but sit shall accomplish that which I purpose,

and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.


Isaiah 55:10-11

Though denominations may fall, the true church—the true Body of Christ—lives on!


Thus, though the pain shall remain, I choose not to dwell on the denomination which has been lost. Rather, I choose to steadfastly fix my gaze upon the glory, the splendor, and the unmistakable might of my Almighty Lord’s soul-saving, sheep-animating, and prophecy-fulfilling Word visibly manifesting before my very eyes.


How lucky we are to be alive at a time such as this!


Hosanna!


Hosanna!


Hosanna in the highest! [9]

Citations:


[1] Rev. Thomas McKenzie, The Anglican Way: A Guidebook, Colony Catherine, Inc., 2014, P. 296.


[2] Article VI of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. Retrieved at: http://anglicansonline.org/basics/thirty-nine_articles.html


[3] Rev. Dr. Winfield Bevins, “What do Anglicans really think about the Bible?”, 2019. Retrieved at: https://www.teloscollective.com/what-do-anglicans-really-think-about-the-bible/


[4] Greg Goebel, “Reading Scripture in Anglican Worship”, 2016. Retrieved at: https://anglicanpastor.com/scripturelessons/


[5] John W. Howe, Our Anglican Heritage, Second Edition: Can an Ancient Church be a Church of the Future, 2010, P. 18.


[6] Ibid [4].


[7] Ibid [4].


[8] Quote by Stephen Neil. Retrieved at: https://moscowanglican.org/an-essay-on-anglicanism/


[9] Quote from the Book of Common Prayer, Palm Sunday, P. 270. Retrieved at: https://www.bcponline.org/SpecialDays/palmsunday.html



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