Theologian Rebukes NY Times for Mischaracterizing Episcopal Church Rift

Newsweek is hardly the only MSM publication that is clueless about the Christian faith. The New York Times is also reliably feckless when it comes to reporting on what makes biblically orthodox Christians tick.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler took the Gray Lady to task last Friday for its reporting on the recnet formation of a new coalition of Anglican churches that have broken off from the liberal Episcopal Church USA over concerns of doctrinal liberalism.

In "It's About Theology, Not Territory," the Baptist theologian and pastor lamented that Laurie Goodstein's December 3 story on the formation of the Anglican Church in North America painted the dispute in a way to portray the liberal ECUSA as an aggrieved victim of dogmatic conservatives. By contrast, Mohler points to a lack of doctrinal clarity in the Anglican Communion being the fertile ground by which liberals were able to erode the boundaries of historic, orthodox Christian teaching and thus threaten the unity of the church around the Gospel of Jesus Christ (emphasis mine):

Christian leaders formerly associated with the Episcopal Church have announced the creation of a new denomination -- the Anglican Church in North America. The announcement came Wednesday as conservative Anglican leaders met in Wheaton, Illinois to plan for a future province of the Anglican Communion -- in this case a province determined by theological conviction, not geographical designation.

As The New York Times reported:

Conservatives alienated from the Episcopal Church announced on Wednesday that they were founding their own rival denomination, the biggest challenge yet to the authority of the Episcopal Church since it ordained an openly gay bishop five years ago.

The move threatens the fragile unity of the Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest Christian body, made up of 38 provinces around the world that trace their roots to the Church of England and its spiritual leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The strange part of that account is the statement that this move "threatens the fragile unity of the Anglican Communion." That fragile unity was shattered by the actions of more liberal churches in North America to bless same-sex unions, ordain homosexual ministers, and elect an openly-homosexual bishop. The lack of unity is what has prompted the establishment of this new denomination.

Indeed, this division among the Anglicans and related national churches can be traced directly back to the Anglican Communion's failure to establish and maintain doctrinal boundaries and a clear affirmation of biblical authority. Liberals and conservatives have been increasingly at odds over a host of issues related to biblical authority.

The action of the American church, the Episcopal Church USA, to elect and consecrate an openly-homosexual man as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 set the stage for what now appears to be a schism in the church.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters