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Anglican Dilemma Issues in
Declaration of Independence from the Bible
in Initial Actions
The Advertiser, August 5, 2003
In today's news, we read of the New Hampshire case of a clergyman "hoping to become the first openly gay elected bishop in the Episcopal Church". Unlike his English counterpart, who recently resigned rather than risk a division in elements of the international Anglican 'Communion', were he to be invested as bishop while homosexual, it is reported that in this United States case, the approach is very different.
Here, the would-be bishop is reported as indicating that he, for his part, would not feel responsible if opponents to his ordination, in principle, were to leave the church. He would rather they did not, but appears to hold to a cause célèbre motif. He will go ahead, whatever they do.
Said he: "We should not hold any one issue above or higher than our commitment to Jesus Christ."
Presumably that 'one issue' is sexual perversion as biblically defined (cf. Ch. 4 above). There is some point here, in terms of one issue above another at the moral level. Yet is it applicable ? Suppose now, just imagine, that some-would be bishop arrived and stated,
Ah yes, we should not put one issue above another, so that although I regularly STEAL (it is, is it not, another of the commandments ?), each week, and endorse the whole principle, since there is need of a new approach to this whole issue and many do not understand the whole cultural basis of theft, and the injury many suffer in being so misunderstood if not indeed maligned, there should be no exclusion!
One would find it hard to believe that THIS DIFFERENT issue would not encourage a certain negativity in those conceiving of making such a man as a ... bishop. Yet take another case. Another would-be bishop arrives, and there is now an air in the 'communion' of new and far-reaching changes, so that people are almost holding their breaths.
take the liberty of putting one commandment above another. It is true, to be sure, that I regularly commit adultery, endorse the principle, and am weary of those who do not understand the special genetic construction of some of us who by special dispensation of the genes, find adultery almost a necessity for normal life. However, would you want to exclude a man whose wife understands, whose children consider it a little fey to be sure, but manly in some special sense, and who has long laboured under misrepresentation and misconception. We feel that spreading our wares is essential to real social interchange ...
and so on.
You see how the practice of not putting one commandment above another would work. If now the congregation decided that there was no good reason why the reverend sir should not engage in the desired practice of adultery, as a matter of sheer principle, and that they were either not concerned for the fidelity of their wives, or else would be only too glad to give them their liberty, then they might opt for such an adventurous approach...
Or would they ?
Another comes, and he has a disposition for blood.
Did not, quoth he,
Alexander the Great have what some would regard as a morbid satisfaction in reducing to ruins what he chose to adopt, and yet his name is great, is it not ? literally ... It is true that I have a disposition to murder, and do prefer at least one murder per week, but what would
you ? Do you want some ninny, some milksop ? I DO draw the line at the sort of inuring to torture, which apparently was the way of Saddam Hussein with those who were to serve him in high places; but then, there are limits, and in a strictly moral way, I recognise these.
In short, it does not appear likely that the EXPLICIT announcement of a DELIBERATE breach of one of the basic commandments, in parallel with adultery in its general or more special case, would be favoured in such a case. Moreover, if the issue is raised and insisted upon, as a matter of principle and practice continuing, it would not seem at all promising, for any hope that it would be viewed with much more relish. ONCE is enough if God says it, and if the Bible is received as the word of God written, in which He speaks His mind as Christ most carefully insisted, then the case with the one which breaks so many New and Old Testament prohibitions, as shown in the preceding chapter, is unlikely to appeal. It might be murder, adultery, this or that variety, theft, idols, but in each case the prohibitions are intense, immense, repeated and include death penalty in the theocratic Israel, and condign judgment in the New Testament.
Even if it were merely a matter of negation, it would be sufficient. As it is, it is like asking, as a special dispensation, granted that knives are not permitted on aircraft, whether a tactical nuclear bomb would be permissible. It is the fact that the much less negative should suffice, that makes this an illustration of the terminal moral velocity of our times. It is not merely the extent of the practice, of killing, perversion, adultery, nor even the flaunting in the most public manner of these things; it is the daring to call good what God condemns as evil, and then to proclaim it so in HIS NAME, in HIS CHURCH, or at least in what purports to belong to that name! It is precisely such boldness which was to be seen in the last days of Judah, before its predicted and performed desolation at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Jeremiah 7).
Will you do THIS and THAT and the OTHER, the Lord indicated, and THEN "come into MY house which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered to perform all these abominations!"
Moreover, the companions in condemnation from the Bible, for example in Leviticus 20, I Timothy 1 and I Corinthians 6, as well as in Romans 1, represent some of the most morally repugnant items one could contemplate. The array of companion moral crimes in I Timothy 1, for example, is almost morally blood-curdling, just to say ...
The BIBLE does not tease in these matters, but condemns in the most deliberate, excoriating fashion. Moreover it does so, for its own part, IN PRINCIPLE, in Romans 1, pointing out that it is the heart of sin to resist and seek to suppress the truth of the Maker, the command of the Creator, and that this is seen in the historical setting of so lacking faith, as to go seeking to worship creation more than the Creator, which leads to a moral degeneracy to be seen in spirit, in body, in emotion and in social relationships. It is strong, this presenation in Paul, indicating that many not only do such things, but
"also approve those who practise them" (Romans 1:32).
That is listed as if a final outrage!
The wrath of God is revealed from heaven, Paul announces, relative to the whole marked and evil substitution which so readily leads to such things. Wrath is not a good place for a bishop, when it is the wrath of his supposed Master! It is not a good example. Again, in I Cor. 5, we find that those practising this particular sin, and adultery is another like it (both brought death in the Old Testament, so that being a bishop or leader would not be an option, since corpses cannot lead), are EXCLUDED from the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Now it would be hard to extend a kingdom in which you do not participate, or to recommend one where your own visa is null.
It is true that some homosexuals may not apparently have been drawn into their own particular breach of the New and Old Testament biblical principle, in this way; but it is equally true that the sweep of the apostle's words shows that the movement FROM the Creator TO the creation basis, leaning on one rather than the other, whether it be in heart, in spirit or in word, or in some combination, leads to inappropriate social relationships, action and morals. Vitiation at the source leads to pollution in the outcome.
Yet let us consider the case. After all, IF someone rejects all these many scriptures to the contrary, then the Bible is no more for that person the operative word of God, but merely some suggestion of it; indeed, one so slight that heavy denunciation repeated over millenia in the Bible, can be 'construed' as commendation!
Thus is the word of God, by this very FACT, left, and the word of man given superior sanction. Again, it might be that the word of God is so boiled in the pot of the thoughts of man, that mere flat contradiction of a much repeated theme, is as nothing. The case is essentially the same, the debasement of the holy to the level of, or beneath the profane.
Now to do such things as this to the word of God, the Bible, as given by God to exhibit His will, wisdom and desire (cf. II Timothy 3:16, Matthew 5:17-20, I Corinthians 2:9-13, I Peter 1:110ff., Mark 7:7ff.) is in itself, in a biblical perspective, tantamount to rejecting the Creator, since there is only one, as the Bible advises us and logic demonstrates (cf. SMR), and to reject what He has said is to reject Him. That is PRECISELY what Jesus Christ STATED (John 12:48-50). The judgment is on His words. Reject these and you reject the One who sent Him! As to the Bible, HE SPOKE ON THAT TOO! The only way out is to have a new Christ, a new Gospel since He would no longer be the infallible word of God, and a new way. That is what Paul condemns, naturally and supernaturally, in II Corinthians 11, calling those so conducting themselves false apostles, energised by Satan.
Someone however might claim, Yet did Christ condemn homosexuality ? But of course, for in Matthew 5:17-20, He advises us that NOT THE SLIGHTEST PART OF THE LAW OR THE PROPHETS will fail to all is fulfilled. You do not 'fulfil' a command that homosexuality be given the death penalty, or amount to exclusion from the kingdom (Peter acknowledged Paul's writings as scripture in II Peter 3:16), by saying that actually it is pleasing to God. God is not a nit, but the source of wisdom. He knows what He is talking about, the principles He provides, the reasons for them which He gives and the grounds of His extreme penalisings.
CHANGE OF REALTY,
REALISATION OF RENEGACY AND
WITHDRAWAL OR CORRECTION
In the end, rebellion against the
word of God, written, as His OWN DECLARATION (cf. Isaiah 34:16, 8:20, Romans
16:17), is a matter of exclusion from the very church itself, not only
from some office which, however unscriptural, is meant to be one of leadership
spiritually! (cf. Know the Lord,
Section 33 ). Romans 16:17 shows that in such cases, in general, there is to be an AVOIDING of those who so act and teach, which is precisely the case here.
You can avoid them in one of two ways (and the thing is spiritual, as Paul makes so plain in I Corinthians 5). You may leave the church; or the other party may do so. If the church endorses such conduct, and will not relent, then you HAVE TO leave it, by divine command. If it will not accept such rebellion from the word of God, as a living church would, then the party concerned could not even be a member, far less a leader.
Incidentally, the growth in this sort of extreme, this callow presumption, this energetic thumbing of the ecclesiastical nose to the Boss, to the Master, to the ONLY Master, the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 23:8-10) is one of the signs not only of the completion of a rebellion in general historical terms (as in Romans 1:17ff.'s tracing of the regress to ruin by such means), but of the ultimate rebellion before the King who was crucified returns, to be the King who judges, as in John 5:19ff.. In II Timothy 3 it is precisely this sort of form of godliness without its power, this ascription of some sort of place to the Bible which consists with its utter rejection when social movements are contrary, that is naturally enough, one mark of the nearness of Christ's return.
The term 'traitors' comes to mind, from this text, and what is a traitor if not someone who, using the name and power or place of some party or institution, then defiles it and does not repent ? The place of lust is noted in II Timothy 3:6, in this last rush of evil as time runs out in this present Age; just as Jannes and Jambres are mentioned in this chapter, those who stood in the very way of the word of God, when Moses was in Egypt, and sought to overturn it with their own cultural antipathies.
They failed. They did however try. This is to be the way of things, and it is so NOW. False prophets (using God's name for anti-God materials) are one of the chief signals, by their very multiplicity, of the near approach of the end. Now many large denominations are becoming virtually engines of dismissal of the word to which they are ostensibly committed; already a whole cart-load of sects*1 have fashioned folly in the domain of nominal Christianity. These are the concluding phases of the "falling away" forecast with such accuracy (II Thessalonians 2:2-3); for you cannot FALL unless, before that, you are up; and while Christians are guaranteed eternal life (I John 5:12-13), the same cannot be said of any particular body calling itself a church! As seen in the reference and allied sites, there has been a considerable, even substantial departure from the biblical faith on the part of many major denominations.
In my younger days, such things were seen in the Presbyterian field in Melbourne, resulting in confrontation and the consequent need, amidst vicious slander, to complete training in the USA. They are now seen in Anglican*1A, in Uniting and Lutheran fields*2. It is all as it had to be; but as Jesus declared, Needs be that offences must come, but woe to him through whom they do come! (Matthew 18:7).
|"Woe to the world
because of offenses!
For offenses must come,
but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!"
It is best to be frank. Biblically, quite simply, this is the position. It is better to face it now, than then; for truth will out in the end (Romans 2:1ff.); nor has it been successfully hidden, thanks only to the power of God, in the meantime. History is simply following the predictions of the word of God, like a little child; but there is nothing like a little child in the way in which numbers of whole churches are increasingly throwing all apparent discretion to the winds, and performing, stating, stipulating and exalting things so contrary to the Bible, that it at times almost seems like an anti-constitution for them, used for the disposition of difference.
What then is to be done ?
If whole sections of a so-called church endorse, as happened in the New Hampshire case
what is biblically declared to be abhorrent to God:
then it is time that such
sections were reproved, replaced and morals restored;
The issue should AT ONCE be determined in PRINCIPLE, and if a body REFUSES to endorse all scripture as immediately inspired by God and of divine authority over man, and the Westminster Confession for example makes an exquisite presentation on this in its Ch. 1 (and cf. SMR Appendix D), then it should be disciplined by the final authority in the Church, or else those left in it should leave (Psalm 11:3, Romans 16:17, Titus 3:10). There are no other options, except rebellion, once the issue, as here, is biblically presented.
It is nothing to worry about, flurry about; but it is something requiring in all honesty, the same sort of immediate and determinate resolve and action, no delays permitted, as would an attack on your child at the street corner, in full view of your own eyes. It is inconceivable that such an assault be permitted, if you love the child. It is inconceivable that with these things from the Bible before the Christian, he or she should simply shrug and continue. You challenge and if it fails, you leave. You warn, and if unheeded, you leave. You plead, and if disregarded, or your biblical point is neglected, you can follow the Lord, or the church; but not both. Can two walk together unless they be agreed ? (Amos 3:3).
What then for the Christian here ?
If, as with Jonah, there be a matter of delay, and you do not really wish to DO what is biblically required, and leave what disobeys Christ so categorically: then consider what was the outcome for that prophet (Jonah 2).
Nor is it the fear of punishment which should be paramount; it is the folly of deserving it.
Imperfection is not the same as rebellion; and as to that, it is like witchcraft, and from this, severance is no option (cf. I Samuel 15:23). If you love Him, follow Him; and if you do, then as He said, you will keep His words. One way to do so, is not to rebel against them, and to allow human vehicles of church power to lead you on some other path. HOW IS THAT to serve Him, who is Lord ? There is work to be done, and the way to do it, is to be where the Lord Himself is leading, according to HIS WORD!
When many follow His prescription, then such an outpouring of blessedness, such an augmentation of faithfulness, such a strength of comradeship can develop, as befits the sunset of the Age, and the Dawn of His arrival. On this, see Matthew 24:45ff..
*1 See for example, Things Old and New Chs. 9, 10 Epilogue, Appendix
(sects, politics and philosophies, their tedious, torturous tapestries).
SMR pp. 700-709,
721-732, 743ff., and News
121, 122 and
*1A See on grave movements in Anglicanism, for example,
Stepping out for Christ Ch. 5,
A Question of Gifts II,
Beauty for Ashes Ch. 9,
esp. End -note 3.
*2. Stepping out for Christ Chs. 1, 4, News 107.