Does Truth Matter?

Does Truth Matter? 
Devotional 28<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
 
John 14:6
 
"I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man comes unto the Father but by me."
 
John 17:17
 
"Sanctify them in Thy truth.  Thy Word is truth."
 
            Does truth matter?  We seem to have entered a period in our country, and indeed throughout the world, where truth does not matter, for as Isaiah says, "Truth has fallen in the streets."  God's Holy Word has set forth beforehand that there is a period of time coming upon the world when truth will fall in the street.  In our day, the prevailing winds of change have adopted the mantra that "truth is relative."  This tends to manifest itself from time to time by statements such as "your truth is not necessarily my truth"; "that may be true for you, but it is not true for me"; "there is no such thing as objective truth; it's all relative."  Truth matters because God is not a man that He can lie.  The Lord God is truth.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and His Word is true. 
 
            There is a raging conflict between the Episcopal Church and Orthodox Anglicanism, which epitomizes this exact conflict.  In an article entitled, "A Conflict of Beliefs . . .," Alfred A. Sawyer, the Rector (Pastor) at Christ Church of Atlanta detailed the growing rift between Orthodox Anglicanism and the Episcopal Church.  As you will see, it is the same rift that is ongoing throughout Christendom and in many denominations which have held themselves out as Evangelical.  Sawyer uses scripture from the New International Version of the Holy Bible, thus, what follows is a quote from his article entitled, "A Conflict of Beliefs," looking first at what Orthodox Anglicans believe followed by the Episcopal Church beliefs:   
 

Orthodox Anglicans Believe:

1. Jesus is the only way to God the Father.
 
2.  Jesus is the Son of God.
 
3. The bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ took place.
 
4. The Bible is a reliable guide for all human conduct.
 
5.  Christians should evangelize.
 
6.  The church is the body of Christ.
 
7. The creeds are a summation of historic Christian doctrine taken from the Bible.
 
 
 

The Episcopal Church Believes:

1.  Jesus is NOT the only way to God the Father.
 
2.  Jesus as the Son of God is NOT an objectively true statement.
 
3.  The bodily resurrection of Christ is conjectural.
 
4.  There is no single Biblical morality.
 
5.  Evangelism is religious discrimination by Christians.
 
6.   All creation is the "body of God."
 
7.  It is more important to have unity in worship than unity in belief of the central tenets of the faith.
 
            Sawyer goes on to set out in more detail the substance of what Orthodox Anglicans believe compared with the substance of what Episcopal leaders say.  What follows is a reprint, with his permission, of what he has written regarding each of the points, pro and con, set forth herein.  This failure to comprehend, or, unwillingness to comprehend these eternal truths is at the heart of the apparent "falling away" which is going on throughout the Christian Church.  At the very heart of the matter is the failure to know, comprehend, and understand who God is and what He has done to redeem His people. 
 
Jesus as the Only Way to God
 

Orthodox Anglicans believe:

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father expect through me."     
                   (John 14:6)
 
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." 
                             (Apostle Peter in Acts 4:12)
 
"They are to be condemned as false teachers who assert that persons will be saved no matter what beliefs they hold or what sect they belong to, provided they sincerely lead their lives according to those beliefs and to the light of nature; for Holy Scripture insists that it is only by the Name of Jesus Christ that we may be saved."
-         39 Articles of Religion, Article 18, An Anglican Prayer Book, Preservation Press of the Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A., p. 218)
 

Episcopal Leaders say:

"In its narrow construction [the idea that Jesus is the only way to the Father], it tends to eliminate other possibilities.  In its broader construction, yes, human beings come to relationship with God largely through their experience of holiness in other human beings.  Through seeing God at work in other people's lives.  In that sense, yes, I will affirm that statement.  But not in the narrow sense, that people can only come to relationship with God through consciously believing in Jesus."
 
-         The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, in an interview with The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 2007
 
"I don't think God cares if we are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and so forth.  What matters is a deepening relationship with God."
 
-         Dr. Marcus Borg, Co-director Center for Spiritual Development, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland St. Petersburg Times, February 9, 2005
 
The TEC General Convention discharged (declined to consider) Resolution C069, "Affirming the uniqueness of Christ in a multi-faith society," which would have called the Episcopal House of Bishops Committee on Theology to follow the lead of the February 2009 report of the Bishops of the Church of England "offering examples of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and none."
                   General Convention July 2009
 
Jesus is the Son of God
 

Orthodox Anglicans believe:

 

"They all asked, Are you then the Son of God?  Jesus replied, "You are right in saying I am."
                   (Luke 22:70)
 
"…what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world?  Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son."  Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does.  But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."
                   (John 10:36-37)
 

 

 

Episcopal Leaders say:

 

Rather, I see the grand statements about Jesus – that he is the son of god, the Light of the World and so forth – as the testimony of the early Christian movement.  These are neither objectively true statements about Jesus nor, for example in this season, about his conception and birth.  To speak of him as the son of God does not mean that he was conceived by God and had no biological human father.  Rather, this is the post-Easter conviction of his followers."
 
-         Dr. Marcus Borg, Washington Post, December 30, 2006
 
In her opening address, the Presiding bishop declared personal and confessional faith in Jesus Christ a heresy, and described Jesus Christ's death on Calvary as merely "a waypoint" to God's "greater dream," and not the endpoint of salvation.
 
-         General Convention 2009 (http://www.americananglican.org/general-convention-day-1-report-from-the -aac/)
 

The Bodily Resurrection of Christ
 

Orthodox Anglicans believe:

"We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law.  They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.  On the third day he will be raised to life!"
                   (Jesus, Matthew 20:18,19)
 
"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:  that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born….And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins."
                       (St. Paul, I Corinthians 15:3-8,17)
 
"Christ truly rose again from the dead.  His was a bodily resurrection, with flesh, bones and all things that belong to the perfection of our human nature.  Further, his ascension was a bodily ascension into heaven, where he is now enthroned at the Father's right hand until the last day, when he will return to judge all men."
                   The 39 Articles, Article 4
 

Episcopal Leaders say:

"The story of Jesus' bodily resurrection is, at best, conjectural; that the resurrection accounts in the four Gospels are contradictory and confusing….the significance of Easter is not that Jesus returned to actual life but that even death itself could not end the power of his presence in the lives of the faithful."
 
-         Bishop John Chane, The Episcopal Diocese of Washington, DC, Easter sermon, 2002
 
"I think Easter is most profoundly about meaning, not mechanism."
 
-         Katharine Jefferts-Schori, Episcopal Life online (Official newspaper of TEC), April 8, 2008
 
The Bible as a Reliable Guide for Conduct
 

Orthodox Anglicans believe:

All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thhoroughly equipped for every good work."
                                     (Paul, II Timothy 3:16-17)
 
"Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation.  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."
                                     (Peter, II Peter 1:20-21)
 

Episcopal Leaders say:

"The Scriptures are internally contradictory on the surface.  Their interpretation varies according to the needs of the hearer." 
                   Bishop Charles Bennison,
                   The Episcopal Diocese
                   of Pennsylvania,
                   St. Luke's Church,
                   Newtown, PA, July 8, 2004
 
"There is no single biblical morality.  Few biblical scholars would claim that a mono-chromatic approach to ethics and human behavior exists in the Holy Scriptures….The Holy Scriptures, written in antiquity, could not and did not foresee many of the ethical questions we face in our age."
                   A Statement from The
                   Episcopal Diocese of Utah,
                   General Convention,
                   March 13, 2007
 
Christians Should Evangelize
 

Orthodox Anglicans believe:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
                   (Jesus, Matthew 28:19-20)
 
"He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.  All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
                   (Apostle Peter, Acts 10:42-43)
 

Episcopal Leaders say:

"The Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has issued an apology to Hindus worldwide for what he called 'centuries-old acts of religious discrimination by Christians,' including attempts to convert them.  The apology was given in a statement read to over 100 Hindu spiritual leaders at a mass from the Right Reverend J. Jon Bruno.  The ceremony started with a Hindu priestess blowing a conch shell three times and included sacred chants…Rev. Karen MacQueen, who was deeply influenced by Hindu Vedanta philosophy and opposes cultivating conversions (added), 'there are enough Christians in the world.'"
                   India Abroad
                   Posted February 10, 2008
 
The Church is the Body of Christ
 

Orthodox Anglicans believe:

"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."
                   (Paul, Ephesians 4:14-16)
 

Episcopal Leaders say:

"Christians talk about the body of Christ.  A theologian named Sally McFague talks about the body of God as being all of creation.  When one part of the body talks about the body of God as being all of creation.  When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers.  That's an essential piece of Paul's theology.  If we're not caring adequately for the other parts of the body, we are not only destroying ourselves, but we're destroying our neighbors here and across the world.  The fact that, you know, how I use carbon might have some impact on a poor person in China."
                   Katharine Jefferts-Schori, PBS,
                   The Bill Moyers Journal,
                   June 2007
 
Belief in the Creeds
 

 

Orthodox Anglicans believe:

 

"If the creeds are not important, we should stop reciting them on Sundays.  The worship service on Sunday, if we accept the number of premises presented…by the leaders of the Episcopal Church, would have no Scripture reading, hopefully no sermon expounding on the Scripture, no recital of creeds and no Eucharist.  We would just have a great time reading poetry, feeding and being fed."
 
-         Dr. Moheb Ghali, Vice Provost for Research and Dean of the Graduate School, Western Washington University, an active Episcopalian for 40 years before becoming a member of St. Brendan's Anglican Church Bellingham, Washington.
 

Episcopal Leaders say:

 

"You don't all have to profess exactly the same understandings of the central tenets of the faith," she added.  "What's important is to worship together."
 
-         Katharine Jefferts-Schori, San Diego, CA., Union Tribune, April 5, 2008
 
"To be expected to repeat these sentiments (The Nicene Creed), (V.Gene) Robinson decided, was an offense against conscience.  He took his protest to one of the school's chaplains, who listened to him and told him that he saw no problem at all.  If joining in the Creed distressed him, why not just speak only those portions of it that didn't offend?
                  New Yorker Magazine, April 17, 2006
 

 

The Worldwide Conflict
 
            As you can see, this is no small conflict going on between Orthodox Anglicans and the Episcopal Church.  Regretfully, it is not confined to the conflict between the Episcopal Church and Orthodox Anglicans.  This conflict rages everywhere.  Remember, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers against the rulers of the darkness of this age and against spiritual wickedness in high places," said Paul, in Ephesians Chapter 6.  At the heart of the conflict is the question of who is Jesus and what did he do and say?  There are many reliable texts and books, as well as articles, testifying to the authenticity of the Bible.  The Apostle Paul himself states in the II Epistle to Timothy, Chapter 3, that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine; for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."  Jesus Himself testifies as to the truth and authenticity of the Old Testament.  The manuscripts of both the Old and New Testament, as well as the discoveries at Qumran, and even secular sources such as Josephus and other ancient writings, testify as to the truthfulness of the Bible.  What is set forth hereinabove as being the position of the Episcopal Church is merely a reflection of what is going on in individual churches and denominations around the world.  As Dr. Frank M. Barker, Jr., Pastor Emeritus at Birmingham's Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA) said on many occasions, "These men and women who deny the truthfulness of scripture are, in effect, saying that the Bible is only inspired in spots.  And they are saying that they are inspired to spot the spots." 
 
            The current President of the United States has affirmed that Jesus is not the exclusive way to God, that there are "many roads that lead to God.  Others, including Oprah Wynfrey and other New Age proponents, espouse similar views.  The "falling away," however, is much more problematic because it is occurring because men who should know better are not speaking the truth.  Jesus warns His disciples in Matthew 24 to "take heed that no man deceive you.  For many shall come in My name saying I am Christ and shall deceive many."  (Matthew 24:4-5)  Note that these deceivers claim to be speaking "in my name," said Jesus.  They are not in Christ's name.  They are deceivers!
 
            The words of Paul in his epistle to the Church at Galatia bear repeating: 
 
"I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ.  But though we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed.  For do I now persuade men, or God?  Or do I seek to please men?  For if I yet please men, I should not be the servant of Christ."                                                                                                   Galatians 1:6-10
 
The Results of Knowing Jesus
 
            The real truth of the matter is that Saul of Tarsus was a man "breathing out threatening and slaughter" against Christians.  He was a Pharisee who described himself as being "blameless" as touching the law.  He sought and received letters to actively persecute Christians and put them to death.  When the Lord Jesus Christ appeared unto Saul of Tarsus, he was forever changed.  This is true also of anyone to whom the Lord appears and changes their heart.  No man can become a Christian unless and except the Lord Jesus Christ changes his heart and makes him a new creation.  This same Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul, wrote the following:
 
"Moreover, Brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; by which also you were saved, if you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:  And that he was seen of Sephus then of the twelve:  After that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.  After that he was seen of James; then of all the Apostles.  And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.  For I am the least of the Apostles, that am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.  But by the grace of God, I am what I am:  In his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all:  Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."  I Corinthians 15:1-10
 
            When one takes the position which is quoted hereinabove to be the position of the Episcopal Church, one is affirming their lack of belief in the Holy Scriptures "which are able to make one wise unto salvation."  This, of course, is the very heart of the problem.  They simply do not know Jesus.  We need to immerse ourselves in the means of grace, including the Word of God.  Doctrine, the Truth of God, enables one to see clearly.  More correctly, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world, enables one to seek clearly.  Jesus said in the 17th Chapter of the Gospel of John that "this is eternal life, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast 'sent.'"  Do you know Him?
 
            The Apostle Peter in his second letter states: 
 
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue, and to virtue, knowledge, and to knowledge, temperance, and to temperance, patience, and to patience, godliness, and to godliness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But he that lacks these things is blind and cannot see afar off and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.  Wherefore, Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.  For if you do these things, you shall never fall.  For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the Everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 
                                                                                                II Peter 1:4-11
 
            Ask yourself:  Do you know the Lord God through the Lord Jesus Christ in this way?  If you do, then you are risen with Christ.  Paul says in his letter to the Church at Colosse, "If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.  Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth."  If not, read again the quote above from I Corinthians 15:1-10.  What are your affections set on?  Ask the Lord Jesus to help you to seek the things above and to set your affections on things above.  When we have met the Risen Christ and we are seeking those things which are above, we will have as dramatic a change in our life as Saul of Tarsus did.  We will say as Paul said, ". . . .as we have received mercy, we faint not, but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."
 
            "Now the God of Peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the Sheep, through the blood of the Everlasting Covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen."
 
Your Friend and Brother in Christ,
 
Daniel
 
 
 

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