What Jesus said: Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:15-20
Here's what the Episcopal Church's self-declared prophets say:
"We are spending millions of unbudgeted, donated dollars on lawsuits to keep church buildings for future generations of Episcopalians."
Here is the fruit of their effort, the proof of who they are:
Good Shepherd offered to purchase the property for $150,000 in cash plus a large bequest. A verbal agreement was reached. Several more meetings were held throughout 2008 which were cordial and positive.
Then, as Fr. Kennedy told me, things suddenly changed. The verbal agreement to purchase the property was rejected, and they were slapped with a lawsuit by the Diocese. Even throughout that process, Fr. Kennedy explained, Church of the Good Shepherd made efforts to resolve the issue out of court. But to no avail.
On Thursday, January 8, 2009, the Diocese won its lawsuit allowing them to seize the church and all its property, including the rectory [the house where the clergy couple and their children lived]...
In February of this year, the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York sold the building to Imam Muhammad Affify. The cross has been removed from the top of the bell tower, the red doors have been repainted green, a windowpane cross has been painted over, and all Christian symbols have been eradicated. That is symbolic in itself considering that the building now houses the Islamic Awareness Center...
For the record, the Diocese of Central New York sold -- or perhaps sold out -- to the Imam for a mere $50,000. It is astonishing to note the lengths the Episcopal Church, under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, went to in order to keep a "traditional" congregation from remaining in its buildings.
Thanks to them, #74 Conklin Avenue is no longer a house of Christian worship.
Same is going on in the Anglican Church of Canada, the lemming following TEC's rear over the cliff. It's Diocese of New Westminster rejected the following plea for Christian conflict resolution:
Whereas we being a Christian Community are obligated to prevent the very public and acrimonious legal dispute between the Diocese of New Westminster and the Churches in dispute from further embarrassing and diminishing the whole Christian Community; and because such disputes are:
- Contrary to Scripture.
- Detrimental to Christ’s Salvation Gospel to the world.
- Confuses and saddens our Brothers and Sisters in both the world wide Anglican Church and other Denominations.
- Trivializes our voice in the World.
- Are both irrelevant and counter-productive in a time of actual and planned Church closures in this Diocese.
- Are a total waste of scarce Time, Talent and Treasure, better used in other activities.
Therefore it is moved that the 2010 Diocesan Synod respectfully direct the Bishop to, faithfully and earnestly negotiate a just and timely solution that will allow the Churches in dispute to indefinitely continue Ministry and Worship in their existing Facilities’.
And how is that Canadian diocese doing with preserving stuff for its "future generations"?
The fruit ain't so good.
I really wish that some of these religious leaders would simply be honest.
"We want our pound of flesh."
"We hate Christians who don't endorse our new agenda."
"We need assets to fund our pensions and employ our friends and 'partners.'"
"We want to hurt and destroy those with whom we disagree."
Instead, their words are full of peace, love, justice, inclusion - all of which shrivel at their touch.
You will know such religious leaders by their fruit, says the Lord, the true head of the church. Their words are false. They destroy others to serve themselves. And while they will afflict God's people and God's world for awhile, the truth will come out when God "cuts them down and throws them in the fire."
Their piles of money and boxes of deeds to empty buildings are good kindling.
UPDATE: There's a current case where a bishop has imposed discipline on a very liberal Episcopal priest. It seems more like a test of wills than much else, not so much a clash of ideas as personalities. But because the bishop has yanked the priest's license to minister, a TEC leadership insider has called people to join a Facebook group in support of the priest. Says the TEC insider on Facebook:
"I am in no position to evaluate the conflict between (the priest) and the bishop. I hope that the two of them will reconcile.
That is not made easier by resorting to the canons. As Jesus discovered, the chance of reconciliation reduces dramatically when authorities call in the temple police.
Scripture frequently is concerned about prophets when they are in conflict with religious authorities. We should be too. It is not merely a backroom affair.
May grace abound. All of these ministries are important to the church and to the world."
This, from a courtier of the Presiding Bishop who "resorted to the canons" and yanked more clergy licenses than in all preceding TEC history. This, from a one time member of the "Executive Council" that appropriated millions of donated dollars to sue other Christians and grab up buildings and bank accounts rather than work at mutually agreeable settlements or "reconciliation." This, from an insider's club that said "good riddance" to the denomination's evangelicals and charismatics, among others.
Sweet, lamb-like bleating through fangs. A hint of fig from a bundle of thorns.