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Monday, June 19, 2006

Episcopal Church election signals final break-up is near; video from the Connecticut Six

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." (1 Tim. 4:1)

The Episcopal Church, The U. S. branch of the world wide Anglican Communion, has selected a woman to lead it for the first time. Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was selected from a field of seven.

While her being a woman will certainly be problematic for some, her theological liberalism in our opinion signals the final break-up of Episcopal Church. Evangelical bishops around the world are ready to expel the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion because they recognize it for what it is becoming - a new religion. From Virtue Online:

In an outspoken interview with The Daily Telegraph, the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, said that divisions between liberals and conservatives were so profound that a compromise was no longer possible.

He increased the pressure on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to take firm action against the liberal American leadership.

"Anglicans are used to fudging things sometimes, but I think this is a matter of such seriousness that fudge won't do," said Bishop Nazir-Ali.

"Sometimes you have to recognise that there are two irreconcilable positions and you have to choose between them.

"The right choice is in line with the Bible and the Church's teaching down the ages, not some new-fangled religion we have invented to respond to the 21st century.

"My fear is that the Church of England has made a number of moves in the liberal, Protestant direction. That gives me concerns that the Bible will become less important and that the Church is moving away from its traditional Catholic order.

"If you move in that direction you become a kind of options Church, where you live by preferences."

The Pakistan-born evangelical bishop has the ear of powerful conservative leaders in Africa and Asia and his comments at the convention, in Columbus, Ohio, will be a blow to Dr Williams, who has expended much energy holding the warring factions together. But they will be welcomed by those who fear that Dr Williams will do everything he can to avoid expelling the liberal Americans from the worldwide Communion. Bishop Nazir-Ali suggested that the US Church was already beyond the pale, irrespective of how it voted on resolutions designed to test whether it was prepared to dilute its liberal agenda.

He said an unconnected decision by its House of Bishops on Friday to back civil if not religious marriages for gay couples was so significant it made issues such as gay bishops "an interesting footnote".

The Church has been given until the end of the convention on Wednesday to toe the conservative line on homosexuality or face expulsion.

A leading American conservative bishop, Jack Iker, struck a similar tone:

In a rather surprising election today, the House of Bishops chose Katharine Jefferts Schori to become the next Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. When first nominated, she was widely regarded as a "dark horse candidate" and as "the token woman" on the slate. I for one never expected that she could be elected.

Her election signals a continuation of the policies of the outgoing Presiding Bishop, namely support for the ordination of practicing homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions, practices which have divided the Episcopal Church, impaired our relationship with a majority of other Provinces, and brought the Anglican Communion to the breaking point.

The fact that her ordination as a bishop is not recognized or accepted by a large portion of the Communion introduces an additional element of division and impairment. When she becomes the first female primate of the Anglican Communion, it remains to be seen as to how she will be regarded by the other 37 primates, the vast majority of whom come from Provinces where women cannot be elected as bishops.

In one sense, we should not be surprised, at all, for this is The Episcopal Church, which takes pride in being first with every new innovation: women priests and bishops, the blessing of same-sex unions, the election of the first gay bishop in 2003, and now the selection of the first female primate in 2006. One wonders what might be next.

We urge you to pray for Episcopal Churches everywhere as the full storm is about to hit, especially the Connecticut Six. Interesting video on their site here.

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