We who believe in true Christianity as passed to us over 2000 years, said the Reverend Mark Lawrence to the Mercury two weeks before his consecration as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, are like a struggler against the tide in a rowboat. Our duty is to continue rowing to home port, never stopping, because in time the tide will turn and again we will be in that majority in our country who will join the current of sound doctrine. The Diocese of South Carolina seems to be in the Episcopal minority in our view of God’s plan for mankind, Jesus’ mission and human salvation. We are in the minority in the U.S.A., he said, but we are in the majority in the worldwide Anglican Church and in worldwide Christianity. We have no need to be defensive. In the end we will prevail as the Christian church has done for two millennia.
The current crisis in mainline Protestant denominations in the U.S. involves not only Episcopalians but also Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, even a small portion of Baptists and others. Bishop Lawrence says we now have an opportunity to become more global in our ecclesiology (the study of church doctrine). Never in history have so many Christians populated the world as today, and never before have we had so great a proportion of Christians to non-Christians. If we keep rowing against the tide, which is now flowing toward the sea of liberal theology, the tide in time will turn toward correct conservative theology and take us toward the safe harbor for which we long.
As we man our oars, he suggested, we need not be reactionary, only to act like Christians, not to react fractiously to liberal interpretations but to spread the true faith as always, to “preach the word in season and out of season,” as St. Paul commands Timothy. The need now is to have faith, to be optimistic, he said.