Friday, July 16, 2010

Commemoration of Bishop Wm White: A Prophetic Message for the Church

The following is an excerpt from the 1887 Centennial Commemorative Discourse celebrating the consecrations of Bishop White and Bishop Provoost, delivered in Christ Church by the Right Rev. William Bacon Stevens, D. D., LL.D. Bishop of Pennsylvania.

We may have the most perfect church organization which earth can furnish; we may have a well attested apostolic lineage for our ministry; we may have as grand a liturgy as the human mind can construct; we may have as gorgeous a ceremonial of worship as the loftiest aesthetic art can devise; we may have as magnificent cathedrals and churches as human architects can build;--but if our diocesan organization does not rest on Christ as its corner-stone; if that apostolic succession is merely the articulation of dry bones, and is devoid of the life-blood and nerve-force of apostolic fellowship and doctrine; if that lofty worship degenerate into mere lip-service and ceases to be the true worship of God in spirit and in truth; if that gorgeous ceremonial tends to fasten the mind on the accessories of divine service, and obscures, rather than unfolds Christ, and if our noble church edifices only echo through their aisles a teaching not warranted by Scripture, not supported by the Book of Common Prayer, not meeting the soul's true and eternal needs--teaching for doctrine the commandments and traditions of men, at once "strange and erroneous,"--then is our church indeed without Christ--a fair temple without the schekinah; like the Church of Ephesus, having "left its first love"; like Sardis, "having a name that thou livest but art dead," and like Laodicea, "lukewarm, neither hot nor cold."

Only as the Holy Ghost, the living Spirit of truth, teaches in our churches; only as the living Christ is heralded there in his perfect fulness as the sinner's only Saviour; and only, as the one living and true God, is worshipped there "in the beauty of holiness" and "in spirit and in truth," can we fulfil the true conditions of our existence as an organized Christian Church,--then only can Christ speak to us as he did to the angel of the Church of Philadelphia, one of the seven Churches of Asia, and emblemized by a golden candlestick, saying "I know thy works. Behold I have set before thee an open door and no man can shut it, for thou hast a little strength and has kept my word and hast not denied my name."

By William Bacon Stevens, D. D., LL.D., Bishop of Pennsylvania.

The entire text is here.


Dale Matson said...

"holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these." 2 Tim. 3:5

Fr Van McCalister said...

If Bishop Stevens were alive today, he'd be deposed for this.

Jacqui said...

well said!