This philosophy was written into the genetic code of the Lutheran Episcopal church from the very beginning. The Anglican church was founded on the political and sexual needs of King Henry VIII. The founding charter of Anglicanism was established by his daughter. It is called the Elizabethan Settlement —and it basically said, “You can believe what you like as long as you are loyal to the Queen.” Likewise, Luther’s revolution (from which all the other Protestant churches have sprung) was worm eaten with the political intrigues and sexual politics of Germany of his day.
Beneath this revolution was the underlying belief that Christianity could and should be adapted to the cultural and pastoral needs of a particular individual, group or culture. In other words, “Tradition and Sacred Scripture and the authority of the church can be set aside; we will do as we think best.”
Why does it matter? Because a very fundamental choice needs to be made. Does one believe that the Christian faith is a human construct that can be adapted according to every wind of change in society? Does one believe that the church is a historical accident – a man-made institution which simply serves a necessary practical function in the world? If so, then one believes that the whole Christian religion was just made up by people. If it was made up by people to start with, then it can be altered by people whenever they wish.
Does no one else see that this means the very death of religion itself? For if religion is no more than a human construct, then religion really is no more than human wishful thinking. If religion is a human construct then it is no more important than any other noble institution. If religion is no more than a human construct than it is no more significant than the Boy Scouts, the Rotary Club, or the Flower Arranging Guild.
The alternative is to believe that the Christian faith is revealed by God himself through his incarnate son Jesus Christ, and that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, founded his Church on the Apostle Peter and his successors, and that even today the Church, through the power of the Holy Spirit, speaks the truth to the world and administers the sacraments of salvation to reach out and redeem the whole human race.
The first choice is not really religion at all. It is a human artifice. It is a religious mask that human beings wear. The second choice will remain the church of Jesus Christ. As such it will continue to be the sacrament of salvation or a stumbling block to those who simply wish to conform to the world.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Greenville, South Carolina. Visit his blog, browse his books, and be in touch at dwightlongenecker.com.
Gay Bishops, Lutheran Episcopalians, and the Demise of Religion
Fr Dwight Longenecker - published on 06/05/13
If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.
Here are some numbers:
- 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
- Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
- Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
- Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
- Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
- We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)
As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.
Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!