There is a big row going on in an Episcopalian megachurch here in Colorado. The longtime pastor of 2,500 member Grace Episcopal Church in Colorado Springs was placed on 90- day suspension at the beginning of the year, by the Episcopal diocese. The elders of that church voted to leave the U.S. Episcopal Church and join with a branch of conservative Anglicans, following other high- profile U.S. Episcopal churches. The reason:
Parish leaders cited the handling of Armstrong’s suspension, along with the denomination’s rejection of the “historic faith,” as reasons for the vote.
Senior warden Jon Wroblewski said the parish had fought for a return to orthodoxy within the denomination but has lost hope in reform.
“It’s clear that The Episcopal Church no longer believes in the historic, orthodox Christian faith (Broken link, active March 28, 2007) common to all believers. It’s also clear that purported Episcopal values of ‘inclusion’ do not apply to orthodox believers,” Wroblewski said in the statement.
The Episcopal diocese responded by dismissing the local elders of that church. “The fact is people may leave the Episcopal Church but parishes cannot,” the diocese said. The 2,500 member congregation is solidly behind their suspended pastor and dismissed elders, in their desire to join the conservative Anglicans.
It is apparent that within the denominational label of “Episcopalians” there are people, pastors and leadership, even, who are not Christians, and there are people who are. Isn’t this the way it is within every denomination? There is the church building representation of the body of Christ in the world, and then there is the elect, the true body of Christ, made up of people from within those church buildings, as well as people from without. Just as not everyone whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life belongs to a church building, not necessarily everyone inside the church building has their name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
So why do we cling to denominations, anyway? Why not be called by the name of Jesus rather than the name of Rome, or England, or Luther, or Calvin, or Wesley? Even evangelicals, who supposedly are “non-denominational,” have made for themselves a denomination. But I don’t see the benefit of it, or the Scriptural injunction. It seems to me that Paul corrected the Corinthians on this very tendency, and Jesus called the local church by its locality rather than the name of a man. Can someone enlighten me, please?