By Harry M. Covert
There seems to be a correlation between the late contrarian and what appears to be the rapidly crumbling Episcopal church.
Christopher Hitchens was witty, more than a bit arrogant, a good writer and dead wrong, that latter condition he’s been in for a year. Today, TEC seems to have lost its way, no longer relevant, losing parishioners and strong leadership and closing doors of churches that once were thriving Christian centers.
It could be fun listening to Hitchens, a well-educated Englishman who converted to United States citizenship in 1981 and made a name for himself on the national literary scene.
There was never any doubt as to his denial of the Deity. He wasn’t the least bit bashful and said confidently “faith is the surrender of the mind.” In 2007, Hitchens published God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. To even the most broadminded Bible believers, the title was anathema and blasphemy.
I’ve always enjoyed the language of the King James Version of the Bible. I memorized the shortest verse when I was about nine, the same age Hitchens said he began questioning his Sunday school teachers and fell into lifelong disbelief. The KJV’s John 11:35 is the shortest, “Jesus wept.”
Personally, I think Hitchens and those in TEC who are making evil good have done and are sticking their fingers of non-belief into the eyes of God. I’m foolish enough to believe the Book: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
The Almighty isn’t going to put up with the blasphemous teachings going on and those expounded during the recent TEC’s general convention. There’s another teaching that should be heeded, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”
For what it’s worth, Hitchens died on December 15, 2011 from pneumonia brought on by esophageal cancer. I take no joy in that but it’s worth remembering here. He rejected thousands who wrote him saying they were praying for him. On national television he acknowledged the nice thoughts but said they didn’t have to waste their time.
The Articles of Religion in the Book of Common Prayer set down the catechism (beliefs and teachings) of the Episcopal church. A lot of today’s ecclesiastical folks apparently are making undying efforts to ignore them, to rewrite them and walk in their own light. They need some refreshment from Isaiah, “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight.”
Alarm bells should be ringing among the House of Bishops and the others at 812 Second Street, New York City. They must sell the national headquarters which is heavily mortgaged.
Tragically the denomination has dropped two million members since 2006 and the losses continue as more than 300 churches have quit and moved into other facilities.
How to stop the destruction and avoid the wrath of God, the answer is truly quite simple: return to teaching the basics, return to the heart and soul of the Gospel, “tell the story of Jesus” and stop trying to make evil good. As trite as this sounds, evil spelled backwards is not “live.”
Too many churches today start their Sundays at either 8, 9 or 11 o’clock sharp and end at 12 o’clock dull.
If things continue with national attendance around 657,831, the TEC’s empty houses could be rented out to some of the national evangelical ministries who are packing in believers, Sunday Schools bulging with young and old alike with speakers, teachers, preachers, vicars, rectors and bishops who’re worth listening to.
Evangelism isn’t dead in America or around the world. Those chosen to be leaders are derelict in their duty and they don’t have a clue about Jesus’ admonitions, “if you love me, keep my commandments” and “go tell.”
Here endeth the lesson.
This column appeared on www.Virtueonline.org.
Harry M. Covert writes from Frederick, Md., and Alexandria, Va.