It had to happen. But it has begun even before he is installed as Presiding Bishop. Bishop Michael Curry has been taken to task for his inadequate grasp of Christian faith.

Leading the troops to set the Bishop straight is David Virtue who has taken up the task of correcting Bishop Curry on his vision of evangelism.

Virtue writes:

Winning people for Christ is at the heart of the gospel. Evangelism might be a dirty word to some people. In some quarters, it is clearly an embarrassing word especially for liberals and revisionists who prefer words like “inclusivity,” “diversity,” and interfaithery.

The truth is evangelism is the good word about Jesus. It is about proclaiming the Good News about Jesus, his life, death, and resurrection straight at the heart of its cultured despisers. It is telling people, graciously, that they are lost without Jesus. It is saying the hard word that we are all sinners, not merely by our acts, but we are born in sin – it is in our genes and DNA, and only through Christ’s shed blood can we be released from the penalty of sin and made right with a loving God.

That’s the only kind of evangelism the Bible proclaims. Unless Bishop Curry is prepared to state that unapologetically, his understanding of evangelism falls short and the Episcopal Church will go on selling a gospel that is no gospel at all. It will continue to wither and within two generations be out of business.

http://www.virtueonline.org/whats-wrong-presiding-bishop-elect-michael-currys-understanding-evangelism

I cannot count the number of times the pundits of doom have predicted the imminent end of the Episcopal/Anglican Church.

Throughout the entire 35 years of my ordained ministry I have been told repeatedly that the church in which I minister will soon be gone.

Yet, Sunday after Sunday, I gather with a vibrant energetic faith-filled group of people who are united in our desire to love Jesus, serve God, and live with compassion for all the world. In this far-from-dead Anglican Church, I experience a warmth and love that for Mr. Virtue may be just a ” squishy word and ultimately meaningless,” but in my experience is deeply sustaining, hopeful, and healing.

We are not in the business of “winning” or “selling” anything. There is no competition to be “won,” no commodity to “sell.”

We are in the business of living the open, inclusive, welcoming love that Jesus modeled. The Good News Mr. Virtue is keen to protect is found among people who carry on in respectful loving relationship with one another even when at times we may have disagreements. The Good News is proclaimed when we do the hard work of sticking it out even with people we find challenging and uncomfortable.

The essential ground for any authentic evangelism is a community which has caught the vision of Ephesians that calls us to

lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

We Christians worshiping in an Anglican Church are committed to embodying this spirit of humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, love, unity, and peace. We certainly fall short of this exalted vision for godly community. But we believe it is the only kind of community which has any hope of being the “Good News” of Jesus in the world today.

***************

 for Bishop Curry’s vision of evangelism see: https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/evangelism-according-to-bishop-michael-curry/

For a vision of what it really looks like to be a community that truly embodies the Good News of Jesus, see: https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/your-christianity-is-too-small/

A community that works towards this vision, will have no need to worry about “evangelism.” Such a community will be what it hopes to “proclaim.” The message will be clear.

Mr. Virtue’s “cultured despisers” will look at such a church and, as the second century Christian writer Tertullian said, be moved to say:

“Look how they love one another.” Apologeticum ch. 39, 7

Advertisements