Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An educated layman explains why he had to leave The Episcopal Church

I spotted this over at Anglican Mainstream. It is especially powerful given last Sunday's Gospel, where we all heard Jesus say, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Here is Dr. Moheb Ghali's first of ten points:

Occasionally I am asked why I found it necessary, after four decades of committed service, to leave the Episcopal Church. My answer is: I had to choose whom to believe. On many issues central to my faith what Jesus and the Apostles say and what the leaders of the Episcopal Church say are incompatible. I chose to believe in what Jesus and the Apostles say, and that made it necessary to leave the Episcopal Church...

JESUS: “Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” [John 14:6]

PETER:“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." [Acts 4:12]

PAUL“Therefore God exalted (Jesus) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [Philippians 2:9-11]

EPISCOPAL CHURCH LEADERS: “In its narrow construction, it tends to eliminate other possibilities. In its broader construction, yes, human beings come to relationship with God largely through their experience of holiness in other human beings. Through seeing God at work in other people’s lives. In that sense, yes, I will affirm that statement. But not in the narrow sense, that people can only come to relationship with God through consciously believing in Jesus” [Presiding Bishop, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, January 2007].

“Christians understand that Jesus is the route to God. Umm– that is not to say that Muslims, or Sikhs, or Jains, come to God in a radically different way. They come to God through… human experience… through human experience of the divine. Christians talk about that in terms of Jesus.” “For Christians, we say that our route to God is through Jesus. That doesn’t mean that a Hindu doesn’t experience God except through Jesus. It says that Hindus and people of other faith traditions approach God through their own cultural contexts; they relate to God, they experience God in human relationships, as well as ones that transcend human relationships; and Christians would say those are our experiences of Jesus, of God through the experience of Jesus.” [Presiding Bishop, NPR interview: Here & Now, October 18, 2006].

“We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box.”[Presiding Bishop, Time, July 10, 2006]

“The Incarnation God is one for us. But is Christ God’s final act? We can’t say that because we cannot see the future. We don’t know what God will do next to redeem us. The Bible tells us that the Kingdom of God has not yet come.” [Bishop of Pennsylvania, Virtue on Line, November 29, 2005]

“When Jesus says to Nicodemus You must be born again from above, what might he mean? I think it is a way of the gospel is saying that Jesus is a venue, an event, an experience, and an instance in which life is renewed, in which every human being as access to new life.” [Presiding Bishop, ABC Radio, The Religion Report, 26 July 2006]

“. . . I see the pre-Easter Jesus as a Jewish mystic who knew God, and who, as a result, became a healer, wisdom teacher and prophet of the kingdom of God. The latter led to his being killed by the authorities who ruled his world. But I do not think he proclaimed or taught an extraordinary status for himself. The message of the pre-Easter Jesus was about God and the kingdom of God, and not about himself.” [Dr. Marcus Borg, Co-Director of Center for Spiritual Development at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Portland, and former President of the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars, Washington Post, December 30, 2006]

"I don’t think God cares if we are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and so forth. What matters is a deepening relationship with God." [Dr. Marcus Borg, St. Petersburg Times, February 9, 2005]

MY CONCLUSION: Should I believe that Jesus is The Way as He claimed to be? Or should I believe that He is “a vehicle to the divine”? If He is a “vehicle” there is no advantage of choosing Him over other available vehicles, thus there is no reason to be a Christian or an Episcopalian. I choose to believe Him and in Him.

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