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Monday, January 16, 2012

Sydney Episcopalian Mission Impossible

The cruise liner Costa Concordia running aground in the past couple of days brings to mind a recurring feature of ships sinking - there is a lot of movement on deck.

Depending on the urgency of the situation the pace of movement varies but there is always movement as passengers and crew seek a place offering the best opportunity for preservation of life.

That scene has its parallel in the Church and never was it more evident in the so-called evangelical church in the latter half of the 20th Century and into the 21st Century. Traditional denominational barriers have collapsed in that period as Christians seek safe haven from the onset of liberalism and consequent departure from recognising Scripture as the inspired Word of God.

While churches which brought on the slide bemoan their falling numbers and rising financial concerns those churches which gained from the transfer growth have been prone to erroneously believing they "have it all together".

Just as a sinking ship has no place affording long term survival so a church compromising at one level or another on the Word of God can offer no long term benefit to Christians.

Deuteronomy 32:36 has application here:

"The Lord will judge his people and have compassion on his servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free."

As suggested in recent days by John in his blog, much of the evangelical church, including the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney, espouses faith in and upholding of the Word of God but, in reality, they do not trust the Word implicitly. Their failing is at one or more points but it can all be put down to two key themes - they have diluted the Gospel by turning it into a man-centred message and they have ceased to make the Word of God the rule of all practice.

With respect to many co-called evangelical churches and most of the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney the thoughts of man override all past interpretation of Genesis 1 to the extent of ruling out having the Word of God the rule of practice. It is no longer what Scripture clearly says but what man says it ought to be saying.

This is a recipe for failure and it is being worked out in practice. The mission of the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney to get 10% of the population of Sydney into Bible based churches by this year (although former Bishop Piper said it was to be year 2010) shows no valid sign of being fulfilled. Part of the strategy - Connect '09 - could not possibly be seen as giving the impetus for mission success. The smoothing words and celebrated 'pockets' of encouragement are a long way from the fervent activity one would expect to be seeing if the mission was on track.

Further, the Archbishop's production of figures suggesting a 5% increase in Sydney Episcopalian church attendance for year 2010 fails to identify transfer growth from denominations which have have made greater steps of departure from the Word of God than the Sydney Diocese. Transfer growth as part of only a 5% increase in Episcopalian pewsitting is a far cry from 10% of the population of Sydney being in Bible based churches.

Sydney Diocese, if you persist in trusting the word of man over the Word of God and acting in your own strength instead of God's strength you will run head first into the conviction of Deuteronomy 32:36.

Sam Drucker

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