A reply by Fr. George A. Burns:
The above title is the heading on a position paper just released to the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Florida by +Stephen H. Jecko, Bishop. Most of the letter sets forth the wonderful work of Christ which is being carried out every day in the parishes, institutions, and programs. I am sure everyone joins with the Diocese of Florida in thanking God for this Christian witness.
The Church is being rent asunder by the decision of the General Convention to elect a sodomite to be a Bishop in the Church of God, and by the granting to Diocesan Bishops authorization to bless, in the Church, the sodomite union of people of the same sex. This is the crisis to which Bishop Jecko addresses the main portion of his paper.
Bishop Jecko stated, "These decisions have brought the Anglican Communion to a watershed moment. Elsewhere I have spoken of the steps that are being taken to respond in an orderly way to the national and international crisis that has precipitated from the General Convention action."
I have read the paper over and over again in an attempt to discover the STEPS that Bishop Jecko is taking to RESPOND IN An ORDERLY WAY to the heretical teaching of the General Convention. Bishop Jecko stated:
"Without the healing love and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are very capable of doing damage to one another and to the Church. We have been here before and recovered."
We all join Bishop Jecko in affirming that we must have the healing love and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. But these remarks seem to infer that we who are upholding the faith are the ones who may be doing damage to one another. No mention is made of the damage done by the anathema Bishops who voted for the heresy at the General Convention. No mention is made of the souls who are being led down the road to perdition by their action. No mention is made of healing the Body of Christ by removing these workers of iniquity.
Then this statement is made by Bishop Jecko:
"We have been here and recovered."
This is a direct reference to the fact that the Episcopal Church has, in the past, enacted legislature at their General Convention that is clearly in conflict with the Word of God. And then Bishop Jecko states that we have recovered from this crisis. Surely these words demand a response.
Of course the General Convention has erred on many occasions and yet has managed to stay in business. Of course we have lost a million members and the evil of these actions has not gone away even though it is business as usual at National Headquarters and with Presiding Bishop Griswold.
Of the many things General Convention has done which are contrary to the faith of the Church, I will mention only one which was the outcome of the previous Convention. It was the enactment of D-039, the evil resolution that stated that it was permissible for committed couples to live together without the benefit of Holy Matrimony. This heresy was addressed by The Rt. Rev. Ben Benitez, Bishop of Texas, retired:
"The resolution D-039 reveals, I believe, the extent to which the Episcopal Church has shifted its moral ground from a respect for revealed truth as preserved for us in Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition, to that of looking to and responding to contemporary secular mores, and thereby degrading our moral standards to those of the world. We devote ourselves to helping people who are living in sin to feel good about themselves whatever they may be doing.Yes, Bishop Jecko, we have been there before, but not with the result you indicate. We have not recovered, if that means learning to live with this sin. Many of the faithful Bishops and Priests and lay people still regard D-039 as a tragic heresy.
"We thereby condone and encourage them to continue in their sin.
"A sobering concern that I have, as a result of what we have done by D-039, is that it will make it almost impossible to teach our young people, with any hope of success, that they should refrain from all sexual relations apart from marriage. And that, my friends, I regard as tragic. And it is, along with the denigration of marriage in D-039, an act of unfaithfulness by this Church to the Living God, the Lord of the church." (+Ben Benitez, Bishop of Texas, Comments on General Convention 2000 and the General Stated of the Church.)
Now back to the apologetics of the letter of Bishop Jecko. To make the statement that we have been there before and have recovered is to suggest that if we have failed to take action on previous heresies, then don't make a fuss, we will all get used to this heresy also, and before you know it, it will be business as usual. No so Bishop Jecko. This is the "Sickness unto death." and you do not recover from it. It is the cause of loosing eternal salvation. Sodomy is a sin, as is fornication and adultery. The way to recover from these sins is not to say I have sinned before and I will learn to live with sin. The only way to be saved is to confess your sins with full purpose of amendment of life and to seek the saving forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now Bishop Jecko actually gives tacit approval to the sodomite way of life. He uses as an example a quotation from a student in his Bible Study Group in an attempt to show that the Church can take any action it so desires without thought to the Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition.
"As one of our bible study groups so well expressed it to me in a recent letter, 'When the Church cautiously allows remarriage after divorce, she is offering wounded individuals a second opportunity, through repentance, to embrace, obey and enjoy the biblical standards for human sexuality and marriage.'"
We should note that this statement refers to "biblical standards for human sexuality and marriage." The Holy Bible DOES NOT, in any place whatsoever, authorize the marriage of divorced persons. This is another place where the General Convention approved a change in the doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church, and a change which is not authorized by the Word of God. Are we now, Bishop Jecko, to take this as an example of how we are called upon to live with, and encourage, conduct expressly forbidden by the Bible? Does this imply that we are also called to live with sodomy in our clergy and in our congregations? Are these examples of what you refer to as "healing love and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.?"
Bishop Jecko does not give us a series of steps which he has taken, and which we are called upon to take, in this crisis. What he does offer is quotations from his Bible Study Group and then one from the Rev. Ephraim Radner and his paper entitled "The Authority of the General Convention." Fr. Radner states: "What God requires of the Church in circumstances where fidelity to the faith of the Apostles and good order are threatened is neither an exercise of power nor a rush to the doorways. What God requires is patience, steadfastness, truthfulness, repentance, and forgiveness...But our Lord does call us to suffer the afflictions of falsehood, and to endure a broken church."
Let us try to remove the spin from this statement. The statement does acknowledge that the "faith of the Apostles" is threatened. Does he then put forth STEPS which may be taken to remove this heresy from the Church, No, he does not. We are called upon to use no power to combat this evil. Quite a change from our Baptismal anointing where we are "signed with the sign of the cross, in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner, against sin, the world, and the devil; and to continue Christ's faithful soldier and servant to his life's end." (BCP 1928, p. 280) We have all been given the wonder working power of Christ to combat evil and it is a tragedy that this quotation provides no leadership.
Then finally, the quote of the Rev. Radner, provided to us by Bishop Jecko, does give us a step to follow. Here is the step:
"But our Lord does call us to suffer the afflictions of falsehood, and to endure a broken church."
We are called upon to suffer, to permit, to live with, the afflictions of falsehood. No word is given as to leading us to remove this cancer from the Church. We are instead called upon to live with it. To endure a broken Church. To embrace sin that we all may enjoy collegiality. As stated by Bishop Benitez, we are called to enjoy our sins.
Bishop Jecko, where is the leadership we have come to expect from you? Where are the steps, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. that we may take to immediately take a stand against sin and evil? We pray that you will give us another letter which will set forth the specific steps which we may take together to combat this evil, a letter in which you will call a sin a sin, a letter in which you will declare anathema those who profane the Word of God. May I suggest a few steps several of your clergy have put forward:
God bless His Church.
Fr George A. Burns, Assisting Priest
Church of the Nativity Parish
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