The Episcopal Church is Dying: Amen and Amen!

(Hattip Neil)

Mark Tooley at the American Spectator has an article concerning the Episcopal Church in America. Since the 1960s, the church has been in declined, but really took a nose dive in 2004 when the church ordained openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson. Since that time, the already failing church has lost almost 60 percent of its membership.

Some might see this is bad news, but I see it as a blessing. According to the article, the Episcopals started trying to broaden the meaning of the gospel back in the 1960s. In other words, they were trying to make the gospel more relevant for our modern tastes. The moment you do this is the moment you lose the gospel. The gospel is not something that can be tampered with because it reduces the power of the gospel. The gospel is both a person and a message at the same time. It is Jesus Christ as the way of salvation and the message of His resurrection. Given that the mainline denominations have been trying to broaden their scope of who actually gets into heaven, they are at odds with Jesus and His gospel. Since this is true, it is no wonder they have been losing numbers.

Again, this a good thing. The sooner these mainline denominations die out, the better off Christians will be. The sad reality is that the problem of making the gospel relevant hasn’t gone away. The same is true in the evangelical world today with churches punting on the truths of the gospel and making it more acceptable and palatable. This is doing the same thing the Episcopals did back in the 1960s. It bears repeating, the moment you tamper with the gospel, and reduce the authority of God’s word, is the moment your message and you become irrelevant.  You may become more relevant to certain communities, like the gay community. But not where it is important and lasting: the Kingdom of Heaven.

Here is more of what Tooley writes:

Not surprisingly, the rejection of orthodoxy in favor of cultural and political fads, whatever the spiritual consequences, has been disastrous for Episcopalians and all Mainline Protestant denominations, all of which have been losing members since the 1960s, between 25 and 40 percent. Former Presbyterians and Methodists and Lutherans either gave up on organized religion, or they joined evangelical or Catholic churches, or they, more permanently, died (!), leaving few if any descendants, as Mainline Protestants, especially Episcopalians, have notoriously low birth rates. The current Episcopal Presiding Bishop even celebrated this demographic collapse, claiming that Episcopalians were protecting the planet by abstaining from children.

With a view of children like that, good riddance. May the rest of the apostate denominations go extinct as well.

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36 thoughts on “The Episcopal Church is Dying: Amen and Amen!

      1. J de Freese

        You state the Episcopal church has lost 60 percent of it’s membership since 2004. That’s only in seven years. Your statistics sound faulty. Where are you getting your information from? Pastor John Hagee????

        Jeffrey de Freese
        OKC

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  1. I am an Episcopalian.

    I joined the Episcopal Church in 2004, right after this big decline supposedly took place.

    I can’t find where Mark Tooley in his article “Killing a Church” (http://spectator.org/archives/2010/08/03/killing-a-church) makes the claim that the membership in the Episcopal Church has declined 60% since 2003.

    The reality is that membership has declined 43% since 1966, when it was at a peak of 3.5 million.

    I am also skeptical of arguments that doctrinal shifts in the Episcopal Church where somehow responsible for this downward trend. This same trend began simultaneously in all protestant denominations, and continues to this day.

    Personally, I have had the privilege to witness Episcopal churches throughout the country that are thriving, not dying. Even if they pine for the glory days when the churches were full (aka 1966), these are places of worship that put their faith in action.

    Jesus called us to make disciples, not full churches, so I don’t believe that numbers tell the full story.

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    1. jm

      true..size of the church is not the problem. Here IS a problem. Only because my son married into a family that attended an Episcopal church did I start attending from time to time out out of courtesy and wanting to find out first hand what worship was in the Episcopal setting. I must say, in all frankness, I could find more spirituality and (explained doctrine especially) in the book section of Wal Mart! A few scriptures from the book of prayer, a few words from Psalms, and nothing whatsoever about sin,repentance,etc. over the course of the entire year. But boy, they sure could put on a good breakfast! I’m sorry, but it’s no wonder the denomination(and others)are dying out. Caring for each other is only one aspect of the gospel, yet that’s the only subject I ever heard.

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  2. Hi David,
    The decline resulted because the mainline Protestant churches continued to move away from orthodox Christianity, resulting in the Bible-church movement. In other words, those who believed in the historic faith of Christianity left all the mainline Protestant churches. This is why there was an equal decline in all the mainline churches.

    Blessings

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  3. Ken S

    As a former Episcopalian, I can say that you are absolutely correct. Through God’s grace, He led me out and to a Bible-believing church. When I look back on the Episcopal Church now, it’s a source of disgust. I agree 100% that the sooner the liberal mainline Protestant denominations die off, the better.

    Only to God be the glory!

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    1. Hi Ken,

      Yes, more and more are seeing the light. It’s neat that here at FCC in Roswell, we actually have an Anglican church that shares the building with us. They broke off the Episcopalian church here in town and worshipping the Lord in glory and truth. It’s neat that we share our building with them.
      Blessings
      Timothy

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  4. Nixon is Lord

    You don’t have that many children-and you don’t keep the children you have. Thank your god for divorced ex-catholics and baptists educated beyond their childhoods-without this constant infusion, you’d be below one million. Religion is just a waste of time. Mainline Protestantism is doing even worse in Canada and in North Europe; why did you think you’d be doing any better?

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    1. Nixon is Lord,
      Exactly what is your point? I’m glad that the Episcopal Church is dying because they have become a false religion. Those denominations where the gospel is being preached and taught are growing. You can run down religion all you wish, but you need to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself: “What is my religion?” For God made us with the need for religion and we all have one. So be honest with yourself, what is yours?

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  5. bibiana

    Let’s face it: churches that dilute the Bible, don’t inspire people to reach higher, and talk about social issues instead of the Gospel are ultimately not only meaningless but uninspiring and boring. No wonder they are losing members.

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  6. Thomas Minot

    I pretty much agree, the Episcopal church IS dying, but I say it is because of Female Priests (though that was never a problem with me), it is just not accepted, most, “almost dead” churches have or had Female Priests. A further point….it has nothing to do with gays, except that I feel Robinson was selfesh to do what he did.

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    1. Thomas,
      Close, but the problem is a departure from the authority of Scripture. Women priests, who can’t preach their way our of a Sunday school class, is just a symptom of the greater problem.

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      1. Amadeus

        You said that women “who can’t preach their way our [sic] of a Sunday school class.” This sounds startlingly sexist.

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      2. Amadeus,
        Then sexist I will be. Women have no place in the pulpit. That is not their role for the body of Christ, the role for women in the body of Christ is bearing those with the image of God, in the admonition of the LORD.

        Remember, that feminist think the apostle Paul is sexist and a misogynist. If Paul is, then so am I and I really don’t care what feminist think. The scripture says fear God, not man.

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      3. Amadeus

        The problem is not women priests, the problem is not gay marriage, the problem is materialism. The Protestant church is in decline everywhere with the exception of some outliers like AoG and Mormons. Baptists in the South are “treading water.” The problem is not that people are being drawn away from “progressive theology.” They are being drawn away from God. Our society gives many reasons to focus on things besides going to church. To combat this we don’t need to wish for the death of our fellow Christian denominations but, rather, pray for God’s entire church and that this epidemic decline is addressed in each denomination, mainline or evangelical.

        Believing in a 6,000 year old earth is often just as damaging for some as women priests are for others. We need to focus on God, not social issues and not petty hermeneutical debates. God is loving, accepting and affirming, the decline is not because we accept gay people in our church or women in our leadership, the problem is that we are forgetting, across the board, to incorporate God into our lives.

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      4. Amadeus,
        Sadly, you speak like every budding liberal theologian to affect the church for the past 200 years.

        The church is to stand on God’s word, not affirming, accepting, loving blah, blah, blah. It’s the gospel that changes lives, not affirming gays in their gayness. The church is to faithfully preach the full counsel of God, not affirm sinners in their sin. This is why women cannot preach. To be faithful to scripture, the role of pastor is limited to men. For a woman to stand in the pulpit and preach, shows she is already not being faithful to scripture.

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  7. Brian

    Your piece was quite accurate about the Episcopal church.I left the Episcopal church as a 14 year old with a lot of questions about God and nobody gave me any real answers,including my parents.What I went through over the next 10 years was a nightmare.Then I met the the real Jesus …….WOW.The Bishops have rejected their God and He has released them over to their own depravity.

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  8. “To be faithful to scripture, the role of pastor is limited to men. For a woman to stand in the pulpit and preach, shows she is already not being faithful to scripture…….Women have no place in the pulpit.”
    _________

    Since I as a woman can’t be accused of “sexism”, my heartfelt Amen to that should settle the matter.
    (You are wonderfully sound, Pastor T., on that ~1/3 of the Bible you take at face value 🙂 )

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  9. phoebehb

    I must agree with Amadeus on one point. If your statement, “Women priests, who can’t preach their way our of a Sunday school class”, was meant to imply that women per se lack the intellect, eloquence, Bible scholarship, general knowledge, spiritual discernment, devotion to God, to take the pulpit of a church, you could not be more wrong. I know in my tiny church several women who lack none of the above and could preach a finer & more Scriptural sermon than any (but one: our pastor) of the men.

    It is precisely their Bible scholarship, spiritual discernment, and devotion to God that makes them more than happy to use their spiritual gifts in other ways: praying, teaching & encouraging their sisters in Christ & their own & the church’s children, playing an instrument, singing in the choir, keeping the church clean and toilet paper in the bathrooms, keeping the books, sending out the monthly newsletter, organizing meals for the needy, feeding the saints & washing the dishes….
    Because they know that, in the words of another great old hymn:
    “All is vain unless the Spirit
    Of the Holy One comes down”

    But when there comes a time when no man can be found to do what must be done, God will find a woman who’ll do a bang-up job of whatever it is, even if she has to do it sitting under a tree.

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    1. No, that comment was more from a personal history moment when a pastor was putting forth the need for a particular woman in the ministry, saying she was the best preacher in the PCA. When I heard her, that was my first thought: she couldn’t preach her way out of Sunday school class. She was quite bland.

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  10. Earl Curtis

    I joined the Episcopal Church almost three years ago. Our attendance is growing and we are thriving. The Episcopal Church is Christ focused and reads more scripture than just about any other denomination (or nondemoninational). But we are not required to believe the Bible teaches a 6,000 or 10,000 year old earth. We look beyound the story for the inspiration.

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  11. phoebehb

    >” We look beyound [sic] the story for the inspiration.”<

    You'll find the operative "inspiration" in 2 Tim.3:16. If the words don't mean what they say, whose "inspiration" do you rely on to understand them?

    Per that lovely old commonplace: "Do you believe the Bible's inspired in spots and you're inspired to spot the spots"?

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    1. Earl Curtis

      phoebehb, do you ignore science when reading the Bible? I believe all scripture is inspired but I don’t believe the Bible dictates a young earth history. Further, I believe that the creation story tells us why not how God created the world. Episcopalians have a great degree of freedom of conscience.

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  12. phoebehb

    I’m a firm believer in “scientia” (i.e. knowledge”). But because I know & believe the Bible I do tend to recognize & ignore “science falsely so-called”, e.g.:

    Predictions made on the occasion of the first Earth Day, 1970:

    “We have about five more years at the outside to do something.”
    • Kenneth Watt, ecologist

    “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
    • George Wald, Harvard Biologist

    “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
    • Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

    “By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”
    • Paul Ehrlich

    “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”
    • Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day

    “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”
    • Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University

    “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
    • Life Magazine, January 1970

    “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”
    • Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

    “Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.”
    • Paul Ehrlich

    “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”
    • Kenneth Watt

    “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”
    • Sen. Gaylord Nelson

    “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”
    • Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

    (Re: Darwinian Evolution. Sorry to be the one to tell you that empirical science has “evolved” since the 1850s. 🙂 )

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  13. phoebehb

    Earl, hard as I try to not sound like the smart-aleck I guess I am, I don’t always succeed and I’m sorry. I just get frustrated with CHRISTIANS who don’t even seem to WANT the Bible to be reliable on certain matters – won’t even take the time to see if maybe God knows more about the universe He created than a 19th C. failed divinity student (Chas. Darwin) and his enabler, a frankly God-hating dilettante lawyer barely out of his twenties (Chas. Lyell).

    If your Episcopalian conscience will allow you the freedom (there I go again; sorry) to spend 15 minutes checking out some “Creation Science” (that term Evolutionists call “the mother of all oxymorons 🙂 ), I know of no better place to do that than here:

    .

    Watch the ~5 min. video at the top of the page. If you wonder how this theory fits with what the Bible says, spend the remaining 10 minutes on page 213 of the FAQ section. (I won’t give the link lest I run into the “too many links” thing.)
    _________________

    “The subject of origins is not peripheral; it is foundational. I have spent most of my adult career in universities in the U.S. and Europe (as a Fulbright scholar), and it is clear that Christianity is losing ground on college campuses. The Christian faith is becoming unraveled by bad science. I can say without reservation that In the Beginning is the single most useful resource I know of on this subject, bar none. Walt is both diligent and creative, and you will find the arguments concise and thought provoking. The material is helpful on almost any level, and the references will be invaluable to those wishing to dig deeper. If I had to send my child off with only two books, they would be the Bible and In the Beginning.”

    Dr. Kent Davey, Senior Research Scientist, The Center for Electromechanics, University of Texas at Austin
    __________________

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  14. phoebehb

    WHERE DID MY *ONE* LINK GO??? IS THERE NOW A *NO* LINKS RULE? This is enough to constipate a goose.

    Earl, just Google “In the Beginning Walt Brown” and the video I mention is at the top of the home page.

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  15. phoebehb

    This is bewildering then. Do you suppose WordPress has certain websites they won’t link? Hard to imagine a more civil, respectable, scholarly one than Dr. Brown’s Center for Creation Research. His online book is in its 8th edition, for heaven’s sake. What do you know about WordPress’s protocols?

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    1. Earl Curtis

      Given what I know now, if I had to believe in a literal six day creation of the world, I would not believe in God. Phoebehb, it is hard to imagine a Center for Creation Research being a beacon of science. Next thing you will tell me is that fossils were put there by God and is not indicative of long eras of evolution.

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    2. Earl Curtis

      Phoebehb, I checked out the video and it did little to impress me. I believe in some sort of flood. But the Bible itself contains two different accounts. One story where the animals were two by two and another story where the animals were selected 7 of the “clean” animals and 2 of the “unclean”. I highly doubt the veracity of the video you mentioned.

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  16. phoebehb

    “None is so blind….” I’m not going to bicker with you, Earl. Your problem is not intellectual but spiritual, and only God can do anything about that.

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