“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”
Some friends and I were talking yesterday, and somehow the topic of apostate churches came up. I was born again in 2007 and started attending the Episcopal church. I was even confirmed there four months later. During this time, I was devouring the bible for the first time in my life. As part of the confirmation process, we covered their “Book of Common Prayer” which is a narrative of all their different religious services, a collection of historical church documents, and a collection of different occasional prayer.
I began to notice significant discrepancies in how the members carried out their faith compared to that which the bible prescribes. In fact, they diverged considerably from their own manual, which they used throughout every service. In all fairness, Book of Common Prayer seems to reasonably reflect the teaching of the bible EXCEPT with regards to salvation being granted at baptism, particularly infant baptism.
One generally thinks of Episcopalians with regard to their wholesale endorsement of sexual sin, particularly homosexuality and gender fluidity. It endorses abortion indirectly in that it is a strong proponent of feminism. It is also very loose with divorce and adultery. In practice, Episcopalians see no wrong with sexual sin that is common in the culture at large. In fact, it is a strong advocate for the rights of individuals to do as they please with their bodies. (Note: I have not heard of the church or its members endorsing sex with minors.)
All these are minor, in my opinion, to the real problem – who they say Jesus is. While the Book of Common Prayer says one thing, in practice, Episcopalians believe that all faiths are valid and that all roads lead to heaven. Yes, Jesus is important, but he certainly is not necessary. Most that I really quizzed don’t actually believe that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven in bodily form with which he will someday return. Oh, they may say they do, but start pressing them on the issue….
Once should not be surprised at this when we consider that this denomination has atheists as bishops. Yup.
I had a conversation one time with an Episcopalian Sunday School teacher, and I discovered that she didn’t actually believe any of the bible stories she taught. Oh, sure, she read the children’s book story of the flood and other such things, but she didn’t believe it. To her, they were no more real that Humpty Dumpty or the Man In The Moon. She noticed my alarm and brought up this verse, to which she scoffed:
Mark 9:42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
To me, this is one of the most graphic pictures of damnation that Jesus described; yet she not only was very familiar with it, she brought it up! Long story short, the conversation ended with that.
Why do I bring talk about this today? Did I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, all mad and ready to fire my religious cannons at someone? No, but the bible is full of warnings, and I happened to open my bible to this one today. The Episcopal church isn’t the only denomination that a believer should RUN from. There are plenty of others. The bible plainly tells us to test the spirits and stay away from false teachers. We’re not even to greet them in the street. (2 John 10-11)
These churches didn’t start this way. They gave up a little ground here and there until they eventually were controlled by unbelievers. What started out good, slowly degenerated into pure evil. It can happen to any denomination or any one church.
Folks, confront evil in your church. Don’t tolerate it. It will certainly take over unless you rid it from your midst. It is far better for a church of two genuine believers that one with hundreds who turn a blind eye to sin.
Father, cleanse your church. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash