Episcopal Church Leaders Vote to Sell NY HeadquartersThe more the Episcopalians try to prove themselves modern and trendy, the less impact they will continue to have on the world.
Amid budget cuts, staff layoffs and losses in membership, a legislative house of The Episcopal Church voted Friday to sell the denomination's headquarters in New York. Church leaders will also vote on a resolution calling for pastors to bless same-sex unions.
UPDATE: Vox picks up an NYT article along the same lines. However, starting from the wrong premise, its author can't help but reach the wrong conclusion:
The defining idea of liberal Christianity — that faith should spur social reform as well as personal conversion — has been an immensely positive force in our national life.Except that's not the defining ideal of liberal Christianity, or it would simply be "active" or "social" Christianity rather than liberal. One does not have to be a theological or political liberal to engage in social reform, and the elimination* of infanticide in fourth century Rome was as great a social reform as anything that has occurred since. Rather, the defining idea of liberal Christianity is that our religion ought to be informed by modern ideas.** Christianity, and especially Christian doctrine, must change with the times.
Whether evolution or civil rights or abortion on demand or gay marriage, whether it's the Jesus Seminar or the documentary hypothesis, liberal Christianity is always on the cutting edge of what the world considers trendy or sophisticated. Liberal Christians want to be seen to "get it." Sometimes they are correct, as in the case of slavery. Sometimes they are incorrect, as in the case of abortion. Sometimes they are merely silly, as when they vote on "whether to develop funeral rites for dogs and cats." But the operative motive is not truth, it is modernity: they want to be the kind of Christians the NYT approves of. What you end up with is inane prayers to some Rainbow Christ, empty churches, unbelieving leadership,*** and organizational collapse.
The NYT Op-Ed asks whether liberal Christianity can be saved. A better question is how those few Christians who still remain in those churches, whether through inertia or ignorance, can be saved out of the clutches of the wolves that run them.
* temporary, obviously, since liberal Christians have fought so hard to bring it back.
** One reason why a Google search for "modernist Christianity" will bring up the Wikipedia page for "liberal Christianity." While they are not actually identical, they are functionally equivalent. Show me a theologian who promotes JEPD and personally disbelieves in the supernatural, and I'll show you one who thought George Tiller was an upstanding Christian. He was, after all, murdered while attending church.
*** "John Shelby Spong, then the reliably controversial Episcopal bishop of Newark... dismissed almost every element of traditional Christian faith as so much superstition." Why, then, was a Christian denomination paying his salary?
[NYT] How many members of the Episcopal Church are there in this country?
About 2.2 million [in 2006]. It used to be larger percentagewise, but Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.
Episcopalians aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?
No. It’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.Bishop Schori will be happy to know that there are now about 1.9 million Episcopalians in the US, down about 10% in the past 6 years. And they are getting smarter all the time.