An Open Door to Where?
by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
The presiding bishop of the Episcopal denomination in the United States was in town this weekend. Katharine Jefferts Schori's message throughout the day was an emphasis on an "open and not dogmatic" faith. "'I read the Gospel to say that Jesus invited everybody into His community,' she said in an interview. 'He dealt with all the categories that were deemed unacceptable in His day, and He said, "There's a place for you at my table."'"
Nice as this might appear on the surface, the Episcopal Bishop misrepresented the Gospel. You won't find Jesus stating "There's a place for you at my table." The closest you will get is Jesus' discussion with the disciples when he said, "And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:29-30). Quoting that verse would make Mrs. Schori uncomfortable since it mentions "judging" and, well, Episcopal are open, they don't judge.
The false doctrine being promoted by Mrs. Schori is justified by stating only a fragment of the truth. Jesus does invite all, especially the sinful, to come. Even the most despised of society. "Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him"" (Matthew 21:31-32). The error comes by ignoring the fact that those invited were not allow to remain sinners upon entrance into the kingdom. "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). A change is required.
Change is a point that Jesus made repeatedly. "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). To attempt to enter without obeying the Ruler of the Kingdom is worthless. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).
While Episcopals give lip-service to the idea of leaving sins behind, the fact remains that they dislike calling many sins "sins." Fornication and homosexuality are accepted in Episcopal membership and leadership, despite Paul's warning: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10).
In the true church, all sinners are welcome when they repent of their sins and obey the Lord. "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:11). Isn't about time you were with a church that teaches people to leave sin. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2).
"Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:38-39).
Rick Ruggles, "Bishop calls Faith Open", Omaha World-Hearld, March 28, 2010, p. 6B