I cannot for the life of me understand why those bishops of The Episcopal Church who by litigation obtain the right to control parish churches for which they have, by and large, paid nothing, cannot find the generosity of heart of then sell the property to the congregations who have cherished and maintained them for many years. The diocese is unlikely to be able to fill the church, after all. And the departing congregation and TEC are by and large not in any business sense, rivals. A mystery, that is.
This story came to my attention because my wife grew up near Bay Village and if we should visit her hometown again it would be at Christ Church that we would worship. The Bishop of Cleveland felt moved to say (and I don’t know why they do these things. It seems to be reflexive and automatic)
there is a range of understanding as to whether Jesus is the only way to salvation.
In our belief that God is generous . . . many of us suspect that in striving for intimacy with all human beings, God can achieve it through varying faith experiences and traditions.
This has caused a certain amount of merriment, often along the lines of ‘of course they want to get away from you, you impecunious post modernist.’ The comment itself and those like it should probably replace the Creeds in the next version of TEC’s Book of Common Prayer. Just for fun, and as a sort of exercise, let’s look at the layers of content in this 46 words.
First off, a lay person does not need to hear a bishop provide reasons not to be a Christian. We can come up with those on our own. You are a Christian Bishop, and part of your job is to come up with good reasons to be Christian.
Second, avoiding the whole “I am the way, the truth, and the life” thing plays into the hands of those who like to portray Christians, especially anything like traditional Christians, as chuckleheads whose stock in trade is repression, dictatorial dogma, and narrow-mindedness. It’s always a mistake to address the straw men.
Going a little deeper, you really have to ask “what do you mean, salvation? Salvation from what, and why? And, now that I think of it, ‘Who do you say Jesus is?’ ” If you believe that Jesus is fully man and fully God, in whom the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity became incarnate in the world for the sake of all humankind, then it might be wise not to be so hasty to minimize His mission. If you do not believe that, well, then say so. And get honest work.
On the third or fourth hand (I’m losing track), it’s quite sufficient to say that the salvation of those who are not Christians is in God’s hands, but that it is clear from the Gospel that judgment occurs. It’s the business of Christians and their churches to be witnesses to the saving actions of Jesus, rather than minimizing their importance. And the slight, common, personalization of it all by saying, “God can achieve it (intimacy with all human beings) through varying faith experiences,” makes salvation (whatever Bishop Hollingsworth means by that) more a matter of what one feels from moment to moment rather than something done by God. And then there’s the icky drippiness of “intimacy with all human beings.” That sounds more like something coming out of Playboy Mansion West rather than from a bishop of the line of John Jewel, Thomas Cranmer, and Lancelot Andrewes.
And that is the whole sad story in a nutshell.