Thursday, August 6, 2009

Katherine Jefferts Schori's False Gospel of Works

Here is a link to a talk by Katherine Jefferts Schori in which she denies that salvation comes by personal faith in Jesus Christ.

1. She says that every person in world has access to God whether he or she has ever heard of Jesus Christ or not.

2. She says that we have to regard those who reject Christ but live good moral lives, such as Ghandi, as saved. At the very least she implies it by stating clearly they we do not need to evangelize them. (If she thinks they are lost and also that we should not evangelize them, then she is extrordinarily hardhearted and cruel.)

3. She denies that the mission of the Church is to evangelize. Like some sort of hyper-Calvinist, she characterized the "mechanism" of people becoming reconciled to God as "God's business" and not our's.

4. She confusingly inverts both the language and meaning of Scripture by saying that personal faith in Jesus Christ is a work and that salvation by repentance, faith and confession is salvation by works.

The Bible says: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." (Eph. 2:8-9 NIV) Here the contrast is between faith and works. Jefferts Schori conflates what Scripture distinguishes.

Jefferts Schori's false "gospel" is a message of works righteousness. She talks about living a moral life as the meaning of salvation but does not distinguish between living a moral life as the result of faith versus living the moral life as a substitute for faith. This is what she seemed to imply in her Opening Address to the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church:

"The crisis of this moment has several parts, and like Episcopalians, particularly the ones in Mississippi, they’re all related. The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy – that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It’s caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being."

The grain of truth here is that the Christian life is inevitably an inter-personal and inter-dependent form of existence. Faith brings us into a new relationship with God, other people and ourselves and these new relationships are essential to Christian existence. Every heresy takes truth and distorts it. The distortion here is the denial that each person - in order to enter into this new form of existence called the Christian life - has to repent of his or her sins, believe the Good News about Jesus Christ and begin to trust in Christ alone for salvation. Jefferts Schori denies this. But the Scripture says:

"That if you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. . . . for 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Rom. 10:9-10, 13 NIV)

In the video clip (at about 2:20) she says: "in some parts of Christianity we have turned salvation into a work, that you have to say I claim Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour in order to be saved. That turns it into a work." So for her, works are the new faith and faith is the new works. She completely inverts the NT Gospel to suit her agenda: which is to redefine Christianity in terms of social justice work, rather than pesonal faith leading to working for social justice and many other things, chiefly among them evangelism.

It can be no surprise that Resolution CO69, which was similar to a recently passed motion in the Church of England General Synod that affirms the uniqueness of Jesus Chirst in a multi-faith world, was rejected by the Episcopal General Convention.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church can be presumed to be a spokesperson for the Church; that is beyond dispute. So TEC tolerates, allows and promotes the heresy that personal faith is unnecessary for salvation; that good works by non-Christians make them Christians even when they explicitly reject Christ as Lord and Saviour. And then to top it off they accuse the orthodox majority throughout history of teaching salvation by works becasue they follow the clear and pervasive teaching of the whole Bible that that salvation comes by hearing the Good News and putting one's faith and trust in it.

It must be stressed that when Jefferts Schori dismissively refers to "some parts of Christianity" that teach false doctrine in her opinion, she is dismissing Athanasius, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jacob Spener, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, William Carey, John Stott, Billy Graham, Karl Barth, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and all Evangelical and Pentecostal forms of Christianity. Basically, she is cutting herself off from all of Christianity and all of Church history except for a relatively recent tradition of theologically liberalism manifested in the Social Gospel, Liberation Theology, Feminist Theology, etc. and embodied in the dying, liberal, Protestant denominations of the Western world and a few of its outposts. Theological liberalism looks huge in the talk shops of Western academia, but it is really a blip on the radar of Chrstianity as a whole, comprising perhaps 10-15% of world Christianity and a tiny little slice of Church history.

It is little wonder, then, that ecumenical relations are in deep freeze as far as TEC is concerned with the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy and all forms of Evangelicalism - meaning about 80-90% of world Christianity. Liberal Protestants basically have only each other to talk as far as ecumenism is concerned. TEC is even in a state of impaired communion with 80% of the Anglican Communion itself!

What we have now in TEC is a heretical, schismatic movement that has cut itself off from the roots of the Faith once delivered to the saints and which has no prospects for the future except degeneration and death. Only a revival and Spiritual renewal through biblical preaching of the Gospel accompanied by a long, hard process of reformation can save TEC. All things are possible with God; the Unitarian Universalist denomination theoretically could be reformed by a similar movement of conversion and renewal. But at the moment, TEC is in a death spiral. Homosexuality is only one aspect of the problem facing TEC, although it is integrally related to the loss of a firm grasp on the Gospel itself and the acceptance of a false "gospel" which is no Gospel at all.

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