Thursday, July 26, 2018

Bishop’s Note: July 26, 2018 — The Uniqueness of Christ

Bishop Eric Menees

We continue our exploration of the "Jerusalem Declaration" (the full text of which can be found here: This week we look at point five: the Uniqueness of Christ.

We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could n ot live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith.

Point five of the “Jerusalem Declaration” is what everything hangs upon within Christianity: that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Bluntly, it states that there is no other way to heaven. 

In my inaugural Convention address to the Diocese, I told you all how proud I was of you for making the courageous stand that you did to pick up and leave the Episcopal Church. I stated how important your actions were, because TEC was “actively leading people to hell.” This statement drew a good deal of attention from people outside of Convention, and was even quoted accurately - if out of context - in a book written by one TEC bishop’s wife. Why did I make such a bold statement? Because it is true.

Over the last 100 years or so, this foundational doctrine of the church has become the most controversial and the most blurred by well intentioned people. People who tell themselves, “Well, God is good and gracious and merciful, and he wouldn’t let nice people - good people - go to hell.” Hell is reserved for the Hitlers and the Stalins of this world, they would say. While it is true that God, and God alone, is Judge, His Word is clear that it is only through belief in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that Salvation is found. This is what Jesus told Thomas in the Upper Room: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14)

When we fail to share that message; when we say, “Well, it’s not my place to tell people about Jesus Christ,” we are - in effect - saying: “Go to hell.” Of course, TEC is not alone in this; all mainline denominations are falling prey to “we are all children of God” syndrome.

You’ve all heard it, and perhaps stated it: “We are all children of God.” But we have no basis for believing that. It is not stated in the Bible. In fact, the whole of scripture is clear: we are all sinners in need of a savior. The idea that we are “all children” of God is, I believe, a lie of the devil who is the “father of all lies.” (John 8:44)

Scripture is clear in Genesis: we are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and, therefore, deserving of all dignity and respect; from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. However, it is through belief in Jesus Christ that we are adopted as the Father’s sons and daughters. John 1:12 states clearly: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God….”  Belief in Jesus is the prerequisite to adoption as children of God.

If we accept the lie that we are all children of God, then we have no obligation to invite people to believe in Jesus because - as children of God - all are going to heaven. This is the “all paths lead to God” thinking. “All religions are alike - they all teach the same basic thing, don’t they?” The answer is an unequivocal: “No, they don’t!” I agree with C.S. Lewis, who stated that all religions contain an element of truth, but only Christianity contains the fullness of truth.

I am proud of the fact that we, in the Anglican Church in North America and the Diocese of San Joaquin, have rejected the lie of the devil and accepted the truth of Jesus Christ; that Jesus truly is the way, the truth, and the life; that no one comes to the Father except through him.

I pray you all a blessed week and encourage you to share your faith with a friend!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Bishop’s Note: July 19, 2018 – The "Jerusalem Declaration" and the Articles of Religion

Bishop Eric Menees

We continue our exploration of the "Jerusalem Declaration" (the full text of which can be found here: This week we look at point four: The Articles of Religion.

We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglican today.

Growing up in the Episcopal Church, it was not until I got to seminary at age 21 that I heard of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion. I hadn’t heard about them in baptismal preparation, confirmation preparation, bible study, or in a sermon. I suppose I had seen them in the back of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, under the title of “Historical Documents.” However, these were not held out as historical documents like the U.S. Constitution (laying out the foundation of our democracy); the impression was that these were old, dusty, and out dated doctrines. Imagine my surprise when, in seminary, I began to read them and discovered a wonderful summation of the doctrines of the church for today, and a beautiful snapshot of the church in the midst of a world-wide reformation.

We find ourselves in the midst of another world-wide reformation, and once again the believing Anglican provinces are pointing toward the Thirty-nine Articles as a foundation for the doctrines of the church, which in turn point toward the authority of scripture.

The Thirty-nine Articles are divided into sections:

Articles 1-5 underscore the authority of the Creeds (which, we spoke of in last week’s Bishop’s Note), affirming the true nature of our One God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, along with the dual nature of Jesus Christ being at the same time fully God and fully man.

Articles 6-8 affirm the authority of the Holy Scriptures as containing all things necessary for salvation. They also establish the Canon of the Bible being the 66 books that are used for the establishment of the faith of the church. The apocryphal books are important and good for study, but do not rise to the level of Holy Writ.

Articles 9-18 establish the uniqueness of Christ for Salvation. In other words, there is no other way to heaven except through Jesus Christ and Him alone! These articles remind us of our sinful nature and our inability to “earn” our way into heaven.

Articles 19-22 speak of the Church and her ability to order life, but only in so far as she agrees with scripture; scripture is the supreme authority. These articles especially distance the Anglican Church and doctrines from the Roman Catholic Church and doctrines such as “Limbo, purgatory and the re-sacrifice of Christ at the Eucharist.” Because these doctrines cannot be found in scripture, we cannot place our faith in them.

Articles 23-34 teach on ministry and the sacraments. Here we are reminded that the ministers of the church (all baptized believers), and specifically the ordained ministers, are to preach and teach the Word of God. Ordained ministers are also to faithfully administer the sacraments of the church. These Articles lay out the two primary sacraments of the Lord, namely Baptism and Holy Eucharist, because they are instituted by Jesus in Scripture. The other five rites, Marriage, Confirmation, Private Confession, Ordination, and Extreme Unction are questioned as “sacraments,” since there is no witness of Jesus in the scriptures instituting these. There is no question that they are “outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace,” but for many in the Anglican world, using the term “sacrament” is problematic. For us in the Diocese of San Joaquin, we follow the tradition of the early church, practicing these rites as sacraments. Thus, I refer to them as the Sacraments of Jesus – Baptism and Holy Eucharist – and the Sacraments of the Church – Confirmation, Marriage, Ordination, Confession and Absolution, and Extreme Unction.

Articles 35-39 lay out the necessity for Christians in particular, and the Church in general, to submit to authority. These articles also layout the sovereignty of the King of England.

I pray you all a truly blessed week!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Bishop’s Note: July 12, 2018 – The "Jerusalem Declaration" and The Creeds and Councils

Bishop Eric Menees

As we continue our exploration of the "Jerusalem Declaration" (full text here:, we examine the third proposition of the declaration: “We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic church.”

People often ask us: “What does the Anglican Church Believe?” And we are often at a loss as to what to say; but my answer is quick and easy: “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” You may recognize this as the opening line to the Apostles Creed. To be an Anglican Christian is to be a “Creedal” Christian – meaning that the historic faith of the Church is bound in the three historic creeds of the church: the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds. These creeds are what united the Church into a common faith by the end of the fifth century, and, quite frankly, still define what a Christian is. Therefore, to move away from the three creeds is to move away from the Christian faith; and it is for that reason that the Mormon Church, among others, is not considered Christian – because the Mormon Church does not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, which is clearly outlined in the three historic creeds.

Each of these creeds were developed and ratified when the bishops and leading theologians from around the world gathered in a council in order to define the faith; doing so primarily in response to false teachings.

The four foundational Ecumenical Councils (there were seven in total) took the names of the cities where the council took place: Nicaea in 325, Constantinople in 381, Ephesus in 431, and Chalcedon in 451. These councils are called “ecumenical” because they represented the universal church and laid out the true or orthodox faith.

Dr. Stephen Noll has given a wonderful short synopsis of the three creeds that I would like to share with you:

The Apostles Creed – is the shortest creed and outlines briefly the nature of God the Father, Maker of heaven and earth. It recounts the key moments of Jesus’ life, His Virgin Birth, His suffering and death under Pontius Pilate, His going down into hell (the place of the dead), His Rising to life and going up into heaven, and His Second Coming in glory. It then turns to God the Holy Spirit in the universal church, which includes the communion of saints across space and time. It concludes with several other key teachings: the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body at the end of this age and life everlasting in the age to come.

The Nicene Creed – includes the teachings of the Apostles’ Creed, but adds an explanation of the Trinity, particularly saying that Jesus is fully God, of one being or nature with the Father, and that the Holy Spirit is Lord, proceeding from the Father and the Son.

The Athanasian Creed – not used as often in church due to its length and complexity. It expands on the nature of the Trinity and Divine Manhood of Jesus Christ, and clarifies that right belief is necessary for salvation, and that those who deny orthodox belief cut themselves off from the true church.

Each of the three creeds are grounded in the Word of God and submit to the Authority of God’s Word, both for us as Christians in general, and as Anglicans in specific!

I pray you all a very blessed week!