I just read an article, “Irreconcilable Differences” by Jack Estes that clearly demonstrates the fact that mainline denominations actually are made up of two different faiths from the Episcopalian perspective.
Who is Jesus? What is the gospel? How does holy scripture have authority? What is sin? Morality? Is God independent from the universe, or interdependent with it? These questions penetrate the idyllic surface of statements to which all claim to adhere. Beneath the surface we are faced with answers from two separate and distinct theological systems. These systems may be cohesive in and of themselves, but are radically different from one another.Not only is there a huge difference between progressive and orthodox Christianity, but some in the progressive camp revert to claims of orthodoxy when dealing with orthodox dissidents. They do this without apparently recognizing the irony, or even having the decency to blush.
Once the surface is broken, like a scuba diver we begin to see clearly what lies beneath. Two distinct visions of what it means to be an Anglican, perhaps even what it means to be a Christian, have emerged, and there is a great divide between them. This divide will not be breached by simply talking it over in the common language of the surface. Such conversation is merely representative. It does not convey the meanings that reside in the depth. The only way this division can be overcome would be if one or the other abandons their theological presuppositions.
Will this happen? Will liberal Episcopalians abandon their commitment to promoting gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender inclusiveness, a peace and justice gospel, and the acceptance of all faiths as equivalent paths to God? Will conservative Anglicans abandon their commitment to morality based on an objective scriptural standard, Jesus as the exclusive means of salvation, and a gospel that proclaims the need to convert others to Christianity?
Simply answered, No!
An egregious example of this comes from the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to one of her orthodox bishops. She is concerned that his diocese is considering leaving the denomination and she argues the point—get this!—by implying that he is undermining traditional faith.
I have seen reports of your letter to parishes in the Diocese of San Joaquin, which apparently urges delegates to your upcoming Diocesan Convention to take action to leave the Episcopal Church. I would ask you to confirm the accuracy of those reports. If true, you must be aware that such action would likely be seen as a violation of your ordination vows to “uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.” I must strongly urge you to consider the consequences of such action, not only for yourself but especially for all of the Episcopalians under your pastoral charge and care.The Presiding Bishop, representative of the core of those who are re-writing faith into something more comfortable to them, is accusing this traditional bishop of "violat[ing]...the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them"! She has the audacity to say that he is the one putting "many, many people at hazard of profound spiritual violence" even as she and her ilk have undermined and/or dismissed the saving core of the Gospel!
I certainly understand that you personally disagree with decisions by General Conventions over the past 30 and more years. You have, however, taken vows three times over that period to uphold the “doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church.” If you now feel that you can no longer do so, the more honorable course would be to renounce your orders in this Church and seek a home elsewhere. Your public assertion that your duty is to violate those vows puts many, many people at hazard of profound spiritual violence. I urge you, as a pastor, to consider that hazard with the utmost gravity.
As you contemplate this action I would also remind you of the trust which you and I both hold for those who have come before and those who will come after us. None of us has received the property held by the Church today to use as we will. We have received it as stewards, for those who enjoy it today and those who will be blessed by the ministry its use will permit in the future. Our forebears did not build churches or give memorials with the intent that they be removed from the Episcopal Church. Nor did our forebears give liberally to fund endowments with the intent that they be consumed by litigation.
I believe that the mainline denominations—Congregational (UCC), Presbyterian (PCUSA), Methodist, and Episcopalian—are headed to ultimate division. I also believe that there will be a further disintegration of the progressive remainder as, without clear belief or evangelism, they will simply die out. This seems sad but, in a time when people are mostly disinterested in denominationalism, it may simply be progress toward the inevitable.
Keep praying—keep the faith,