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Maryland Episcopal Bishop Pushes Progressive Christianity

Maryland Episcopal Bishop Pushes Progressive Christianity
Insanity by any other name

PHOTO: Bishop Sutton (left) Former Bishop Heather Cook, now doing time for killing a cyclist, and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori who over saw the biggest decline in TEC's history.

NEWS ANALYSIS

By David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
September 7, 2018

The Rt. Rev. Eugene Sutton, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, recently delivered the season's final edition in the new Interfaith Friday Series in the Hall of Philosophy, at Chautauqua in conversation with the twice-divorced homosexual former Bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, now vice president of religion.

The conversation as it was called was held on the campus of Pennsylvania, Chautauqua. It concluded a nine-week series, which saw interfaith advocates from numerous faith traditions. Sutton represented progressive Christianity.

VOL took a hard look at what he had to say and we concluded the following.

SUTTON: "A progressive religion has a bit of humility."

VOL: Not true. Progressives believe they have usurped those who maintain orthodox views on faith and morals and openly scorn those who do, and they have done it so successfully that they have pushed out of the Episcopal Church those who have not gone along with TEC's progressive agenda. It is anything but humble. It has been coercive, hateful, scornful and derisive, with two of its chief proponents being the twice-divorced openly homosexual Gene Robinson and John Shelby Spong, former Bishop of Newark, who has spent most of his adult life trashing the historic Faith, deriding and pouring contempt on those who hold fast the truth.

After opening with a moment of silent reflection, Sutton quoted Theodore Roosevelt: "A great democracy has got to be progressive, or it will cease to be great and it will cease to be a democracy."

VOL: No, prayer, because no one, including Gene Robinson knows who precisely to pray to. One thinks back on the prayer that Robinson offered at President Obama's inauguration, "Oh God of our many understandings..."

The fact that a democracy shows a progressive mindset doesn't mean the Christian faith should follow suit. Our faith is "once for all delivered to the saints." Furthermore, Progressive Christianity is not making many converts because its belief system is not substantially different from the world's values, agenda and standards. If you drink the secular Kool aid, don't blame God if your church dies.

SUTTON: "The same with religion. A great religion must be progressive. It has to be progressive or it will cease to be great. And it may find it ceases to be a religion. And by progressive, I don't mean liberal in the sense that we talk about today. To be progressive means you prioritize, you privilege, individuals over institutions. Persons over programs or pronouncements. Justice over judgements. Humility over hubris. And theos over theology."

VOL: Let me show you what progressivism is doing to the Diocese of Maryland in terms of average Sunday attendance (ASA).

2000: 15,004
2001: 14,979
2002: 15,148
2003: 14,151
2004: 13,666
2005: 13,155
2006: 13,068
2007: 12,358
2008: 11,878
2009: 11,520
2010: 11,144
2011: 11,260
2012: 10,743
2013: 10,483
2014: 10,256
2015: 9,545
2016: 9,617
2017: 9,507
2000-2017 LOSS: -36.6%
2016-2017 LOSS: -1.1%

Progressivism ends up emptying churches and into 'moralistic therapeutic deism" which is no faith at all. If you sacrifice the substance of the faith and what we believe for specious arguments of personalism and ad homonymreasoning, you end up chasing your own narcissistic tail. Theos and theology cannot be detached. Without theos (God), there would be no theology. Sutton doesn't have to look far with his progressive agenda which saw his diocese consecrate a "progressive" alcoholic, drug-abusing woman bishop who later killed a cyclist while over the limit and is now doing time, unrepentant for her actions, in jail.

Furthermore, this is precisely why the Episcopal Church has ceased to be a Christian denomination and will be OOB in a decade or so. Progressive faith progressively leads people over the cliff and into the abyss.

Sutton described some of his faith journey through multiple Christian denominations. He said he was raised attending Baptist church in Washington, D.C., but as he reached his teen years, struggled to reconcile his understanding of God with the racism he experienced in the late 1960s. "If God is so good, why are God's people so bad?" Sutton said.

VOL: Because we are all sinners, dah! What about the Fall does he not understand? It is why we say confession and plead for forgiveness each week and sometimes more often. Please consult your Prayer Book, Bishop, you will find answers there. Perhaps a little Bible reading would help. Romans Chapter 1 comes to mind.

SUTTON: [I] was an atheist before coming back to evangelical Christianity through the Young Life youth program at age 17, but struggled with the image of a vengeful God. "It bothers me when we assign the worst characteristics of humanity to God," Sutton said. "God must weep if that's the way we think of God."

VOL: If by "vengeful" he means a God who will not tolerate sin, and who provided a way out through the cross, then Sutton simply doesn't get it. Evangelicals, wherever they are to be found in Young Life, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship or Campus Crusade have always focused on God's love for sinners, Christ's substitutionary atoning death and they will never stray from that.

Sutton described progressive Christianity as a source of freedom -- freedom to love and freedom to reason. "We don't believe, as progressive Christians, that we have to check our minds at the door as soon as you enter the doors of the church," he said. "But rather, we can use our God-given abilities of observation, cognition, in order to know some things about this world, some things that were not known 10,000 years ago, or 2,000 years ago." Sutton also suggested a progressive church must look outward.

VOL: Progressivism is the death knell of historic Christianity. It is ultimately rudderless. "Freedom" is just another word for doing whatever you like in the name of love, with the view that God will approve of it all. Really! Sodomy has destroyed The Episcopal Church. Robinson's consecration saw 100,000 Episcopalians walk out the door and a new Anglican denomination was borne that today is one of the fastest growing churches in America!!! Now consider what freedom has done to the Roman Catholic Church where priests used their "freedom" to abuse boys and young men in the name of "love."

No one ever said Christians should check their brains at the church door. That's a lie. It makes a total mockery of seminary education which Sutton still presumably believes in. Christians take their redeemed brains all the way to the altar. Never would an Augustine, Cranmer, Hooker, Calvin, Luther Wesley or John Piper believe or assent to the notion that Christians should be unthinking robots.

SUTTON: "The purpose of Christianity is not about you and getting you to heaven," he said. "I can't think of a more self-centered, narcissistic form of faith than 'It's all about me and Jesus.'"

VOL: Heaven is our home, Scripture is abundantly clear about that. Those who have suffered for the faith, (and clearly Sutton has not), rejoice that their labors and trials have not been in vain, that the deprivations and tribulations that mark the lives of millions of Christians around the world will result in the glorious resurrection of the body "into everlasting life". To dwell with the Lord in eternity is the Christian's glorious hope. To cheapen it by saying "me and Jesus" is to demean the gospel and to mock the faith that has made Jesus a reality in the lives of countless Christians in multiple cultures around the world, and for many of who have yet to hear of God's saving message available through His Son. Sutton needs a refresher course in the basics of the faith, or better still he should resign before his diocese, which is in decline, goes out of business.

What follows is an abridged version of Sutton's conversation Friday, Aug. 24, in the Hall of Philosophy. Sutton and Robinson's remarks have been condensed for clarity.

From where you sit in your tradition, why should we be moving in an interfaith direction either here at Chautauqua or in the world?

We live in a diverse, interfaith world. If you don't like diversity, you can't possibly like God. It's not about uniformity and building towers. It's about bringing down towers and dealing with diversity. Living in an interfaith world, it's not a question of "Will you do interfaith work or not?" You are doing interfaith work. The only real question is, "Are you going to do it well, or are you going to do it poorly?"

When you come to the metaphorical interfaith table, what gifts do you bring as a progressive Christian to that table?

We know how to borrow. We've borrowed since the beginning. It's at least possible that our Lord Jesus, before he began his ministry, actually went to the East and learned from other traditions as well. But also, (Christianity) is adaptable to local customs. You could walk into an Episcopal church for a eucharist, and it's very similar to a Roman Catholic mass. But then go to a Church of God in Christ, a largely black Pentecostal church, and you'd say, "My gosh, is that Christianity, too?"

It is an incredible gift, (The Lord's) Prayer. It begins, "Our Father," not "The Christian God," not "The Hindu God." Our Father.

If it's possible that Jesus went to the East, to learn gifts of other traditions, then what gifts do you see in other religions that might benefit Christians?

In other traditions, there are expectations of prayer that in the Christian tradition, we've assigned, really too much, to only the monastics. We're too busy, we can't pray, we can't order our day with prayer as you do. I encourage all Christians: find yourself a monastery or convent and visit. Bathe yourself in the rhythms of prayer. I feel sometimes like progressive Christians, sometimes they're embarrassed of Christianity. I wish sometimes more and more Christians would take a minute. Even one minute, several times a day and say, "I'm gonna pause. I'm gonna pray."

So, do we have texts that tell us that ours is the one true religion?

Yes. Our dogs get in the way. It's not my dog, or my dogma. It's your dog. Our dogma gets in the way of conversation. We're trying to visit each other, but our dogma is barking and trying to call attention to itself, but it gets in the way. Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the light." It's the way of devotion to God. Love is the way to truth that leads us to light.

///

Robinson concluded the interview with the same final question he had asked all previous Interfaith Friday speakers, with a humorous slant.

"Is Christianity the only religion free of extremists?" Robinson asked.

"Yes," Sutton bantered back.

"OK," Robinson said with a laugh. "Now we're ready for question and answer."

"No," Sutton answered Robinson's original question, in seriousness. "Lord, deliver us from fundamentalists everywhere. We are free to make choices. Help us to make better ones."

END

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