Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Eviscerated Church

With H/T to Graham Kings (Fulcrum), I alert readers to this sobering analysis by Greg Griffiths (Stand Firm) of the future of Anglican/Episcopal Christianity in the USA. Excerpt below. One reason I post these kind of things relating to TEC is this: I maintain a set of conservative Anglican convictions because I am convinced they are correct - Scriptural based and theologically sound. But, speaking pragmatically, I feel immune to some attractions of liberal convictions (e.g. if only we tolerated more we would have less battles among ourselves) because I see weak and dying congregations across Anglican land where these are espoused. There is a combination of such convictions which - from a distance - I sense many leaders in TEC espouse, and which in a post modern liberal democracy looks attractive, but which has the feel of one of the longer suicide notes a church could write. I am determined that ACANZP, which at times seems much influenced by TEC, does not make the same mistake.

Anyway, back to Greg Griffith's article. He is bold, honest, and fearless. Read on:

"As TEC drifts further and further from the Christian faith, it will find that fewer and fewer of those standing with it now will be willing - or even able - to stand with it in the future. Never mind the theological disagreements; dioceses in obvious financial strain now - of which there are many - will soon simply begin to collapse. We’re all aware that Kevin Forrester, for example, has predicted that Northern Michigan will be bankrupt in five to seven years. Granted, Northern Michigan is a tiny diocese, with only about 700 people in church on an average Sunday across the entire diocese, but who’s noticed that the Diocese of Michigan - the big one - is in the red to the tune of $1,000,000? Newark, ground zero for the revisionist plan, is on life support and the long-term prognosis is dismal.

They’re not the only ones, obviously, and what we’re likely talking about in the next several years are entire dioceses declaring bankruptcy, and/or merging with other nearby diocese, some failing themselves, some perhaps in better financial shape, but rarely in ideal circumstances. As this collapse continues, diocesan assessments will necessarily fall; 815’s operating budget will continue to shrink; its ability to litigate will suffer, and thus the threat it is able to dangle above the heads of dissident dioceses and parishes will diminish. I for one don’t believe that it will be able to continue this litigious terrorism much longer.

Left to implode with no action or preparation on the part of the orthodox, this will result in a huge mess that will make the current mess positively neat and tidy by comparison. I am under no illusions that TEC is reformable in the sense that what we now know as “The Episcopal Church” can be salvaged. I never have been. I have believed for years, and seen nothing to suggest that I might be wrong, that the Episcopal Church as we knew it in the 1970's is no longer, and that TEC as we know it today will be gone in 20 years. My prediction is that between ACNA, CP, and other bodies both existing and yet-to-exist, as well as the unorganized orthodox remnant of TEC, there will perhaps coalesce a unified Anglican church in the West. Whether it will be organized along the current geographic model, or along lines of theology and affinity, is impossible to predict at this point, and perhaps it won’t happen at all; perhaps Anglicanism as a coherent Christian witness in the West is terminally ill and has no hope of recovering, and we just don’t see it yet. But if it’s going to happen, it will happen because the orthodox have made sufficient preparations, early enough, to deal with the coming collapse of TEC."

The whole is here.

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