... universalism is afoot in the Episcopal Church, and it is a disease that has now become deeply rooted in the administration and governance of the Episcopal Church and is continuing to gain ground. I know that the term “disease” may be harsh, but for Christians, I believe that there is no other appropriate term. Even the label of heresy does not even begin to describe the level of error of universalism. Universalism posits that all religions are of equal value and that all paths lead to salvation. It buys in to the postmodern notion that all truth is relative. However, this view is objectively in error when compared to the principles of orthodox Christianity. The Christian Church from the time of the Apostles affirmed the uniqueness of the Christian faith and its sole and exclusive claim to the fullness of truth. In the scriptures we read “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:4-6)
Universalism would either reject this notion as “exclusivist” or “narrow-minded”. Some universalists might pervert the traditional interpretation and say that all religions belong to the one faith in God. Universalism also leads to the inevitable conclusion that Jesus Christ is not Lord, and that He was not the savior of mankind and relegates him to a prophetic, non-divine status. This assertion is in direct contradiction to the orthodox understanding of Christianity in regard to the status of the church. The Church dealt with this error in the 4th Century and declared the divinity of Christ to be an absolute principle. To be Christian is much more than simply liking Jesus or following him as a nice person. Through the years, the Church (Protestant, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox) have affirmed that in order to be Christian, one must affirm the dogmas of the Church as contained in the Nicene Creed and in the Chalcedonian statement of AD 451 affirming the dual nature of Christ. Universalism finds support neither in the writ of Holy Scripture or in the sacred tradition of the Church, neither can it be reasoned from the two. ...Universalism is but a false love of our neighbor, because in it, we allow people to remain in darkness and ignorance because we refuse to extend our hand in Christ’s behalf to them to invite them to a transformed redeemed life in Christ Jesus and to invite them to share in the blessings of the Kingdom of God.
In another posting entitled "The Do or Die Moment for the Episcopal Church," Ian has this to say about bad theology and its impact on evangelism and growth:
Our theology is the foundation of the very message that we proclaim to the world. When we begin messing with the basics of our theology and re-forming it to be less offensive or less radical or less whatever, and attempting to sanitize it for the sake of our own image, we begin to affect the very message that we send out to the rest of the world. When we begin to marginalize the very sources that make us who we are, we “[collude] with the pagan empire, deny [ourselves] the sourcebook for [our] kingdom critique of oppression” (N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope p. 219). In other words, we begin to dilute the power of the very message we claim to share with the world.
In the Episcopal Church, it seems that all manner of poor theological conclusions are let to fly and to carry currency. Recently, a nominee to the Episcopate authored a revision of the baptismal liturgy which removed all references to atonement and to repentance and sin. The Bishops of the Episcopal Church also recently has refused to discipline a Bishop who has openly denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and has openly denied the teachings of the creeds. These two are but an example of the doctrinal trends that are occurring that need to be stopped if the Episcopal Church is to stop its hemorrhage of membership and Sunday Attendance.
Let me make clear that I am not advocating for fundamentalism or of an extreme swing in the other direction. What I am advocating for is the generous orthodoxy that is classical Anglicanism. This Anglicanism is codified in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and in the Creeds. This form of Christianity does not dilute or eliminate central doctrines that are accepted by all Christians such as the atonement and the resurrection of Christ and that affirms that the Holy Scriptures are the ultimate rule of faith and practice for Christians. The message of Christianity it is pure form is unique and starkly differentiates it from other religious paths. Among our uniquenesses is that our salvation is dependent on our history. We are saved by what Jesus did for us and not necessarily by Jesus taught us. Doctrine is important to us because the fundamental truths of our faith (should) produce a proper understanding of justification by faith and not by works. Pastor Tim Keller said in a lecture “When someone says ‘doctrine doesn’t matter’ that is a doctrine, the doctrine of justification by works. It is salvation through advice, and not salvation through what has been done.” (What is the Gospel, The Gospel & Heart Conference, 9/2003).Doctrinal correctives and discipline are necessary if the Episcopal Church is to present a coherent message to the rest of the world. Again, unity is not uniformity, however there must be minimal agreement so that we can agree on what we will present to the world about us and our story as God’s people. Stories about our contribution to world relief and our commitment to environmentalism wax empty and meaningless unless backed with the message of our understanding that our redemption and transformation by Jesus is what drives us to do these things.
I couldn't agree more, Ian. And I'm pleased to discover you out there in the Episcopal blogosphere.