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 thirteen - Reject False Teachers:
We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.
We in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin know first hand the importance of affirming the orthodox faith and rejecting those who reject orthodox faith. In fact, it has been a decade now since we made that momentous and correct decision.
In my first Diocesan Convention in October 2011, I addressed the Convention and stated how proud I was of Bp. Schofield and the Diocese for having the courage to step up and leave the Episcopal Church (TEC); because in their rejection of the authority of scripture and the uniqueness of Christ for salvation, TEC was literally leading people to hell. In the abandonment of the “faith once delivered,” they had, in fact, rejected the orthodox faith.
Scripture is replete with the teaching contained in point 13 of the Jerusalem Declaration. Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15) And St. Paul charges his apprentice Timothy saying:
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)
Indeed, in every age there have been many who seek to be “relevant” to the surrounding culture, and so fulfill what St. Paul warns Timothy against. Each time we reject the authority of those who have gone astray - those who uphold what we should stand against - we are proclaiming the Truth of Christ.
When I first left TEC and worked with the people who would become the Anglican Church of the Resurrection, we very intentionally chose a mission statement that affirmed both our decision to separate ourselves from false teaching, and to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ: “We the people of the Anglican Church of the Resurrection proclaim Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life and will live in the power of His Resurrection.” Our separation from, and rejection of, the authority of those who have left the orthodox faith is not schism, but rather faithful and bold action in affirmation of the Word of God.
St. Paul said it perfectly in the conclusion of his letter to the Church in Rome:
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 16:17-18)
I pray you all a very blessed week.