Thursday, December 13, 2007

Growth and Decline in the Episcopal Church

Is the following true of continuing Anglicanism?

"Indeed, as Church policy, in both the Church of England and the Episcopal Church since 1800 it cannot be seriously maintained that the conversion of souls from a state of being lost has held a very high priority. As a consequence, neither Church has shown much growth, and such growth that has come about has been either biological growth among members or transfer growth in terms of taking in members of other denominations. This latter is, indeed, virtually the only source of membership growth in the Episcopal Church.

The effectiveness of the Episcopal Church as an evangelistic church is insignificant because there is really no consensus among us as to the necessity for seeking to convert the unconverted. To be effective in evangelism, it is necessary to have general recognition of the vital necessity for salvation in terms of a visceral as well as an intellectual conviction such that subordinate purposes are organized around evangelism as our number one priority. The Episcopal Church is and had been ineffective because its leaders lack such a common agreement.

The effort to substitute other goals as our number one priority has only demonstrated the extent to which we have politicized our theology in the service of an alleged prophetic role. It is as though our theology has lost its vertical axis and we are only able to display horizontal Christianity. Lacking, as we do, any deeply held consensus as to mankind's eternal lostness apart from Jesus Christ, we have substituted a theology which avers that the proper role for Christianity is that of liberating man from oppressive social structures and not from sin."

"Growth and Decline in the Episcopal Church"
Rev. Wayne B. Watson, 1979

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