Dr Ephraim Radner: How To Kill a Christian Church in Four Easy Steps

Posted by The_Elves

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Hello, General Convention! Here’s the answer I would give; and it doesn’t appear to be that hard:
1. Define the Gospel of Christ in terms of the smallest social unit and interest possible (e.g. homosexuals and their right to sexual affirmation)

2. Define the episcopacy according to the smallest unit possible (e.g. New Hampshire and its gay bishop)

3. Drive out anybody who has a larger vision – traditional Christians, evangelicals, Bible-readers, people who study Christian lives and thought earlier than 1968 and farther afield than NY and LA.

4. Spend as much money as you can doing this instead of anything else and say this is “mission”.

Crudely stereotyped? Well, let’s admit to facts: The Episcopal Church is dying, having lost a third of its members in the last 10 years, and the decline still humming along; it has fewer and fewer young people and children as a proportion of its membership, fewer baptisms, fewer confirmations; and less and less money; it is closing more and more churches, watching dioceses disappear, go bankrupt or face merger; it’s seminaries are shutting their doors; it has produced little theology of note in over 20 years; its church planters and evangelists have mostly left; and its budget is shrinking and in line to be slashed yet further, with national programs and personnel falling by the wayside within a vacuum of missionary planning.

These are facts. But what are the causes? Multiple, no doubt. But there is a thread of correlation worth taking seriously: nixing evangelism programs and the theology behind them in the 1990’s; steady and relentless pursuit of a gay-centered political and theological agenda in the same period and after; imperviousness to larger church and Communion views to the contrary after 2003; vigorous (and expensive) focus on the legal pursuit of departing or objecting bishops and their flocks after 2005; passage of canonical disciplinary amendments that permit intimidation of dissenting clergy in 2009; massive budgetary losses and use of trust funds for the support of these legal costs and the decline of membership giving in the same period; imploding governance structures since 2011.

And let’s not forget the present: General Convention convenes with a slew of more traditional bishops officially under misconduct investigations over arguing on behalf of an alternative interpretation of TEC’s Constitution; a massive exodus of traditional Episcopalians underway; a theological education system in shambles; and a budget and budgetary process marked by the mutual recriminations of the church’s leadership elite.

Hello, General Convention! Anybody ready for an intervention? Anglican 9-1-1? Charges of criminally negligent ecclesiocide? For all of which I am willing offer an amicus brief…

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Posted July 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm

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The URL for this article is http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/43713/

1. A Senior Priest wrote:

It is obvious that any organization which fits this description not only deserves to disappear from the religious landscape, it needs to disappear.

July 3, 5:14 pm | [comment link]
2. Big Vicar wrote:

Senior Priest, I’m not a General in this army. I’m a soldier. If this tainted and corrupt organization disappears, where do I go? To Christ? Of course. But it is disheartening to witness how easily an historic Episcopal Church has morphed into a brightly-costumed social club and fair trade chowder society.

July 3, 11:35 pm | [comment link]
3. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

It’s telling that a column this blistering comes from a man well-known for his erudite, balanced, intelligent discussions of issues facing the Church.  I’d agree that enough is enough.  This is even past the Theatre of the Absurd.  It’s one thing for TEC to have no shame, but another when it also doesn’t care how embarrassing it is to itself, those in the pews, the media, other denominations, etc. 

When I was a kid, right before my father would crack down on bad behaviors with discipline, he gave us one chance—“ARE YOU DONE?!!” 

It’s high time to be done here.  Not only does it completely lack integrity, it’s also foolish to attempt indicting every traditional bishop, scholar, clergyman in this church for nothing more than their theological viewpoint.  You know it’s bad when they don’t even care how it plays out in the PR arena anymore.  What’s that?!! Either blindness or pure hubris, both destructive things.  IMHO, it’s a good idea to quit while you’re ahead and follow another path.

July 5, 3:18 pm | [comment link]

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