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Wolves or Tares?

 

We are not commanded to separate the wheat from the tares.

What disturbed me most was the convention’s influence on the other lay persons from our church—in particular, a wonderful elderly lady who was a very godly person and a polite, gracious woman. She took in every brochure available, heard every argument politely and with an open mind—and was influenced by the deceitfulness of the liberal/revisionist arguments. She never became an outright heretic, but certainly her orthodoxy was injured by that convention. I am sure similar incidents have occurred thousands of times among godly Episcopal lay persons.

I spent the next several years trying to persuade our rector to prepare to leave the Episcopal Church. He was aware of the apostasy of the church, and indeed a leader of the orthodox camp. However, like Bishop Little he chose not to prepare our church for separation (as in various legal strategies to protect our property from seizure by the Bishop) nor leave the Episcopal Church himself. The ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson was a final straw for a group of us, and we left to form an Anglican congregation under the protection of the orthodox Anglican Bishop of Bolivia.

Our rector stayed. Like Bishop Little, he claimed a loyalty to the denomination that nurtured him in his youth that could not be betrayed. Orthodox churchmen who hold this view are clearly in error. Our principal identity must be in Christ, not in a denomination. An Episcopal orthodox priest or Bishop may have a legitimate reason for staying within the Episcopal Church to this day, as in holding out for a good settlement with the national church or local bishop. He best be extremely careful in guarding his flock against continued apostate influences. (I spent two years as Hispanic pastor at our Episcopal church meticulously screening what my flock received from national headquarters, and did we did not go to national or state wide events.) In any case, personal “warm fuzzies” about former times is not a valid reason to continue to expose the flock to heretical and revisionist influences.

They may be a darker side to Bishop Little’s reasons for staying in the Episcopal Church, which unfortunately is rarely spoken of publicly, the economics of separation. When I was about to leave the Episcopal Church our rector tried to persuade me not to do so with a barrage of wrong reasons.

  • I was taking a risk and endangering the economic security of my family.
  • Medical insurance and pensions in ECUSA were excellent, and as Hispanic pastor in the congregation I was just beginning to accumulate a pension.
  • Most of my congregation (of about 200) would not follow me, but stay within our Episcopal Church because it was a beautiful building, and we could only offer hotel space.

 

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Category: Fall 2006, Ministry

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include, Quenching the Spirit (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He and his wife Carolyn continue in their healing, teaching and writing ministries. He is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook AnglicalPentecostal.blogspot.com

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