6 October 2015 A.D. What’s wrong with Presiding Bishop elect Michael Curry’s understanding of Evangelism?
Virtue, David. “What’s wrong with Presiding Bishop elect Michael Curry’s understanding of Evangelism.” Virtueonline.org. 5 Oct 2015. http://virtueonline.org/whats-wrong-presiding-bishop-elect-michael-currys-understanding-evangelism. Accessed 5 Oct 2015.What's wrong with Presiding Bishop elect Michael Curry's understanding of Evangelism?
By David W. Virtue DD
October 5, 2015
In an interview with the Charlotte Observer, Episcopal Presiding Bishop elect Michael Curry offered up his agenda on how he plans to run the Episcopal Church after Jefferts Schori steps down.
He defined his definition of evangelism and said this: [He plans] to promote a form of evangelism that calls on members to listen to others' faith stories and then share their own.
Such evangelism, Curry said, isn't about converting people -- "that's God's job, not ours" -- but is about helping them "find their way to God."
He also wants to stress the love of Jesus, foster social justice, work for reconciliation -- racial and otherwise -- and preside over a church that's open to all, including both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage.
Sharing stories is fine but that is not evangelism. No one will dispute hearing how people come to faith in Christ, if that indeed is what the Presiding Bishop elect means, is a good thing. Testimonies of faith, "once I was blind but now I see" and similar stories are indeed welcome.
But Curry has stated he has a different understanding of evangelism.
Winning people for Christ is at the heart of the gospel. Evangelism might be a dirty word to some people and in some quarters it is clearly an embarrassing word especially for liberals and revisionists who prefer words like "inclusivity," "diversity" and interfaithery.
The truth is evangelism is the good word about Jesus. It is about proclaiming the Good News about Jesus, his life, death and resurrection straight at the heart of its cultured despisers. It is telling people, graciously, that they are lost without Jesus. It is saying the hard word that we are all sinners, not merely by our acts, but we are born in sin - it is in our genes and DNA, and only through Christ's shed blood can we be released from the penalty of sin and made right with a loving God.
That's the only kind of evangelism that the Bible proclaims and unless Bishop Curry is prepared to state that unapologetically then his understanding of evangelism falls short and the Episcopal Church will go on being short-changed, it will continue to wither and within two generations be out of business.
Curry also wants to stress the love of Jesus, foster social justice, work for reconciliation -- racial and otherwise -- and preside over a church that's open to all, including both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage.
Allow me to unpack this. Stressing the love of Jesus is fine, but without mentioning the atoning death of Jesus being at the heart of God's love, then "love" becomes a squishy word and ultimately meaningless. "God loves absolutely everybody" Louie Crew often opined. But loving everybody won't save everybody.
We are children of God by birth, we are sons and daughters of God by reason of the New Birth.
On fostering social justice. Am all for it, but it is not the centerpiece of the church. Article XII: Of good works (one of the 39 Articles) says this:
Albeit that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God's judgement, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.
So good works are not what puts us right with God. Getting right with God is what justification accomplishes, and that is God's free gift to us. Good works flow from true faith. In other words, when we get right with God, we start doing good things. Does Bishop Curry understand this, is this what he is saying?
He argues for racial reconciliation. Who opposes that? But if racial reconciliation is little more than a bash at white privilege, then it will fail. 98% percent of all the bills in TEC are paid for by whites -- increasingly late middle aged white women who now make up two thirds of the Church. So be careful who you call racist. Anti-racism training for generations of aging Episcopalians is nothing short of making a group of people feel guilty for things they have never said nor done. It might also be a case of bullying on a mass scale. So tread carefully about who you call racist bishop.
Bishop Curry wants to have "both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage" at the table. Curry said he wants to preside over a welcoming church open to all people -- including gay couples. This is not going to happen. In fact nearly all of those who reject same-sex marriage have left TEC for the Anglican Church in North America, the Roman Catholic Church by way of the Ordinariate or who have gone directly to Rome.
Same sex marriage is totally off the table for orthodox Episcopalians. Only a handful of dioceses have said they would not ordain or marry gay couples and they include Albany, Springfield, Nth Dakota, Nthn. Indiana and Central Florida, though the latter is conflicted over the issue which means that in time the bishop will roll over to the other side.
No clergy opposed to same-sex marriage will be compelled to act against his or her conscience by performing one. "We respect conscience, just as we respect and honor gays and lesbians who wish to receive the holy sacrament of matrimony," Curry said. "That's a church that's working to be, as Jesus said, quoting the prophets, 'a house of prayer for all people.' We're making room for all."
Tell that to opponents of women's ordination. In time those who opposed WO were drummed out of the church, the same will happen, in time, with those who refuse to marry gays. Tell that to all the dioceses in serious litigation with the Episcopal Church over who owns church property. Will he stop the litigation and the millions being spent on lawyers when he is Presiding Bishop?
Furthermore Bishop Curry may have no option but to enforce General Convention resolutions on same sex marriage canons under pressure from the Integrity organization and the ultra-liberal revisionist wing of his bishops, just as women's ordination was ultimately forced on the whole church alienating bishops like John-David Schofield, Jack Iker and Keith Ackerman.
Gracious conversation is a myth. That ship sailed a long time ago. The ACNA was birthed out of the heresies of TEC and no one is going back. No one.
In January next year in Canterbury, Curry will face the Archbishop of Canterbury (in the presence of ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach) and told to repent of his church's actions on this and other resolutions or face expulsion. If he refuses to accept the discipline of the Church from Archbishop Justin Welby and stays on, then Archbishop Beach AND all the Global South Primates will leave Canterbury and the Anglican Communion will, in effect, be over.