... there is a coming realignment within Christianity, one which we can already see the strains of. Whenever schisms happen within the Church, they are generally because certain individuals lead a group out of the Church, being disobedient to the Faith and Doctrine, and refusing to submit to the authority of the hierarchy, which is trying to discipline them and call them to repentance.
What is happening now is somewhat different: a split between those who hold to traditional, biblical faith as interpreted by the Fathers of the Church and the ecumenical councils; and those who espouse a secularized belief, subject to the rationalizations of the scholars according to contemporary philosophy, who dismiss the Fathers and the Councils as no longer relevant, who dismiss the moral teachings of the Scriptures and Fathers as culturally relative. This could be called, by one side, a break between traditional Christianity and post-modern worldly philosophy. Or it might be labeled as the freeing of people from fundamentalist oppression to the light of their own reason.
This is not the protestant/catholic divide; it is not the evangelical-charismatic vs. mainline divide. It cuts across all communities in the West, even affecting the Orthodox and Roman Churches in some degree. ...
There is a radical cultural shift away from traditional Christianity, toward something unrecognizable. The “Secularists” (for lack of a better, non-pejorative term) reject the virgin birth of Christ, the resurrection, even His Divinity; that His words are recorded in the Scriptures and that the Scriptures are even relevant to our days; rather they are oppressive and keep humans in darkness. Another Episcopalian bishop, a certain Mr. Spong, wrote that “Christianity must change or die,” referring to traditional orthodoxy, espousing the radical secularization of the Episcopal Church and all Christianity. It is my prediction that it is not the Orthodox Churches that will die.
Read it all.
Some will deny that there's any truth to Metropolitan Jonah's assessment. He's either misreading the facts on the ground in churches like the Episcopal Church, or he has an axe to grind and is deliberately misrepresenting the truth.
Others might disagree, saying that Metropolitan Jonah is right. And that's a good thing! We need a relevant, meaningful Christianity that speaks to people today. All of that "traditional" stuff is so out of touch with reality in the 21st Century. Such a stance might be taken, for example, by those who promote the curriculum Living the Questions. I note the following description on the LTQ homepage under the heading of "Resourcing Progressive Christians" which says:
People know that at its core, Christianity has something good to offer humanity. At the same time, many have a sense that they are alone in being a "thinking" Christian and that "salvaging" Christianity is a hopeless task. What is needed is a safe environment where people have permission to ask the questions they've always wanted to ask but have been afraid to voice for fear of being thought a heretic.
Living the Questions is a source of curriculum and media for both seekers and "church alumni/ae" convinced that Christianity still has relevance in the 21st Century. Providing a variety of flexible resources, Living the Questions can help people explore the future of Christianity and what a meaningful faith can look like in today's world.
Of course, rival understandings of what exactly constitutes the "core" of Christianity is itself part of the division and realignment that Metropolitan Jonah addresses.
Metropolitan Jonah is at least right about this: things are shifting. And in the Episcopal Church, they aren't shifting in the direction of greater clarity about and accountability to the orthodox Christian faith as received within Anglicanism. In the name of "relevance," we do seem to be willing to jettison traditional understandings of the Christian faith (note, for instance, the tendency to define "orthodoxy" as right worship vs. right belief, playing fast and loose with Prayer Book liturgies, dropping the Nicene Creed from the Sunday Eucharist, and recent debates over allowing the unbaptized to receive communion, among other deviations from orthodox norms). Perhaps only time will tell how far away from orthodoxy this shift takes us. And at what cost.