By now you’ve heard that the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has left the national body called The Episcopal Church. And you may know that the national Episcopal Church is claiming all the property of all the churches in the Diocese of South Carolina, which has indeed left that national body. But you may not know why. The Episcopal Church wants you to believe that it’s all about sex – or, rather, that it’s all about the supposed closed-mindedness of traditional former Episcopalians here in South Carolina, which prevents us from understanding the needs of homosexual people. The truth is that this conflict has to do with two very different understandings about the Holy Bible. This difference in understanding leads us to two very different perceptions about human beings and the world in which we live.
We traditional, orthodox, “Bible-believing,” “conservative” Christians of the Anglican Communion have always believed that the Bible means what it says. The Bible is literal history, poetry, prophesy, song and revelation. God has put every word there for a reason. We must not add to it, and we must not take away from it. Often, upon the broad base of the literal meaning of the Holy Scriptures, God has also layered metaphorical, allegorical and symbolic meanings, as well. But here is the point: The Bible is the Word of God. It is true. And because God wants to communicate with us clearly and not confuse us, it is usually straightforward and plain in its meaning. Of course, there are parts that cause us to scratch our heads, but God gave us His Word to guide us and to illuminate our lives, and not to befuddle us. When God says something, He means it. His Word is truth. Therefore, for traditional Christians, the Bible directly influences our understandings of ourselves, our world and our world view. Some things are right, and some things are downright wrong.
For non-traditional, heterodox, post-modern, “liberal” Christians, the Bible is a book of inspirational stories and pretty poetry. Some of it is good, and some of it is not. One can pick and choose what one likes and discard the rest. Keep the stories about love, doing good things and being kind to others, and throw out the ones about doing battle with sin, being judged by God and the reality of hell. I’m OK, you’re OK. Everybody goes to heaven, no matter what they’ve done or what they believe. For post-modern “liberal” Christians, their “pick and choose” view of the Bible deeply influences their understanding of themselves, their world and their world view. The world and truth are relative things, depending on your point of view.