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Michael Curry is no Billy Graham Despite Calls to Evangelize the Church

Michael Curry is no Billy Graham Despite Calls to Evangelize the Church
An evangelist can never gloss over sexual sin

By David W. Virtue, DD
March 7, 2018

A recent article in The Living Church would have you believe that Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has adopted the mantle of Billy Graham, and while not his public successor, he has become the Episcopal Church's imitator in chief, hoping to lead TEC into a better future and brighter evangelical tomorrow, hopefully reversing a nationwide decline that sees dioceses conducting more funerals than baptisms.

Since taking office, Curry, who describes himself as Chief Evangelism Officer, has moved evangelism to the front burner, appointing a canon for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation (I have yet to find the latter in Scripture) and a team of six practitioners on evangelism, even hiring a digital evangelist to take the gospel into the digital mission field.

In an auspicious beginning, the Presiding Bishop recently launched the first of three Episcopal revivals in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. An interesting choice, as the diocese was the first to split from The Episcopal Church on hot button issues like homosexuality and the authority of scripture and then hung the diocese out to dry for eight years negotiating the future of some 36 parishes. A recent peace settlement was declared as a "win-win for both sides" but financial terms revealed they were more favorable to the TEC diocese. It was euphemistically called "reconciliation."

According to Carrie Boren Headington, Missioner for Evangelism in the Diocese of Dallas, the only solidly evangelical diocese left in The Episcopal Church, and author of the TLC piece, "Bishop Curry faithfully preaches the good news of Jesus Christ. One might disagree with him on other matters of doctrine, theology, and church practice, but be assured that Bishop Curry centers every message on the gospel."

This is pure fiction. The notion that one can separate out evangelism from "sound teaching" (Titus 2:1) which includes doctrine and theology is sheer fantasy. If that is not the case, then Bishop Jim Hobby who leads the ACNA diocese and ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach ought to toss it all in and rejoin TEC.

No. Headington is dead wrong. Sound doctrine is important because our faith is based on a specific message. The overall teaching of the church contains many elements, but the primary message is explicitly defined: "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures [and] . . . he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). This is the unambiguous good news, and it is "of first importance." Change that message, and the basis of faith shifts from Christ to something else. Our eternal destiny depends upon hearing "the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation" (Ephesians 1:3; see also 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).

Sound doctrine is important because the gospel is a sacred trust, and we dare not tamper with God's communication to the world. Sound doctrine is important because what we believe affects what we do. Behavior is an extension of theology, and there is a direct correlation between what we think and how we act.

TEC has embraced sodomy and homosexual marriage; it is written into canon law. The Episcopal Church has defied Scripture, history and tradition and done what no church in 2,000 years has ever done and, in effect, told God that He has it all wrong, and they, TEC, have kept up with the times in the name of justice (but not morality).

Scripture will not let you compartmentalize evangelism from "sound teaching" as though you can believe the gospel and then pick and choose from the smorgasbord of doctrines and morals what you like and choose to discard, and then go on your merry way saying "I'm saved." Total nonsense.

Furthermore, revival is always related to holiness, a word not to be found on the lips of Curry. In 1949, one of the greatest revivals in the history of the UK took place in the Hebrides. Duncan Campbell, the preacher, described what happened. "Seven men and two women had decided to pray earnestly for revival. One night, at a prayer meeting held in a barn, a young man took his Bible and read Psalm 24 'Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart."

That night God met with them in a powerful way. As they waited on God, "His awesome presence swept the barn...a power was let loosed that shook the parish from center to circumference." Duncan Campbell later recorded that hundreds waited outside. Within ten minutes of the service starting, men and women were crying out to God. They were meeting with God in all his holiness. People confessed their sins publicly, there was no holding back. That's revival.

An observer told VOL that none of Curry's preaching included talk of sin, (except racism and white privilege), no real talk of repentance and faith, but those hearing the good news of God's love should go out and do fine things in the community to help others. There was also no talk of the wrath of God against sin, the demand of holiness as a presage to righteousness, no repudiation of the particular sins of sodomy and homosexual marriage. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 1:18 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." Did Curry even come close?

An observer at this evangelism road show described it as a "nothing burger." There was no 'Just as I Am Without One Plea', no falling on one's knees or repenting of sins or shedding tears common in the crusades of a Whitfield or a Wesley.

Curry's understanding of evangelism is not that kind of evangelism. It falls short of true biblical evangelism. Not even a socially active left-wing evangelist like Tony Campolo would find Curry's understanding of evangelism adequate.

Before he rolled over on sodomy, Campolo preached an unalloyed gospel of repentance and faith. Those who received Christ as Savior and Lord, made public confession of their new-found faith in Christ; then and only then were new converts hooked up to local churches and faith-based organizations to demonstrate their conversion.

And Billy Graham would certainly have none of it either, and neither has any authentic evangelist down through the centuries ever given a pass to sexual sin.

Curry's understanding of revival falls far short in content and substance. In a recent survey, only four percent of Episcopalians, believed that a personal faith in Jesus Christ was necessary, 96 percent clearly do not.

Regrettably, Curry's understanding of evangelism will not turn the Church around, its slide into oblivion is inevitable. It is only a matter of time.

You can read The Living Church article here:

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