I ask because I’m not a member of the Episcopal Church, and thus have no personal experience from which to judge articles like this.
The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church called the evangelical notion that individuals can be right with God a “great Western heresy” that is behind many problems facing the church and the wider society.
Describing a United States church in crisis, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told delegates to the group’s triennial meeting July 8 in Anaheim, Calif., that the overarching connection to problems facing Episcopalians has to do with “the great Western heresy — that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God.”
“It’s caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus,” Jefferts Schori, the first woman to be elected as a primate in the worldwide Anglican Communion three years ago, said. “That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being.”
Jefferts Schori said countering individualistic faith was one reason the theme chosen for the meeting was “Ubuntu,” an African word that describes humaneness, caring, sharing and being in harmony with all of creation.
“Ubuntu doesn’t have any ‘I’s in it,” she said. “The ‘I’ only emerges as we connect — and that is really what the word means: I am because we are, and I can only become a whole person in relationship with others. There is no ‘I’ without ‘you,’ and in our context, you and I are known only as we reflect the image of the One who created us.”
Jefferts Schori said “heretical and individualistic understanding” contributes to problems like neglect for the environment and the current worldwide economic recession.
It certainly isn’t my job to pronounce judgment on other churches (I attend a nondenominational Evangelical fellowship). But I can only wonder at people who gain their authority from the historic Christian church while simultaneously trashing the doctrinces of the very same historic Christian church.