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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is the Anglican Church in North America Being Pruned or Purged?”:

Hat-tip to Steve Wood for this.

Our guest blogger today is The Rt. Rev’d David Bena. David serves as Suffragan Bishop, Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). He writes on the topic, “Is the Anglican Church in North America Being Pruned or Purged?”:

Rev Steve Wood, rector of St Andrew's Church (ACNA) Mt. Pleasant SC and author of the Treading Grain blog

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Although I’ve never met you all, I have been following your pilgrimage for some time. I am duly impressed with your stand for the truth of Jesus and the implications of such belief. Your stand has cost you, but you are standing under the banner of The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:1-6), and that makes all the difference in the world and in heaven.

All over the land, congregations are evaluating what it means for their parishioners to be Anglican Christians. We find ourselves in a time when most institutions are experienced a great cultural shift. In the USA, many senior leaders in the Episcopal Church seem to have given in to an anything goes culture, widening the Episcopal tent so far that all doctrine is now up for grabs, and sexual ethics is gone except for the immeasurable ethic of “what is authentic is what is good.” This widening divide has caused many of us to say that we can continue no longer in a denomination whose leaders (many but not all) have ceased to be Anglican and have moved the Episcopal Church away from its biblical moorings. This has been difficult for us – spiritually, emotionally, occupationally, and financially. But we know in our hearts that the more difficult road is the road which leads to our ultimate destination and the easy road leads to perdition. Thank you for choosing the more difficult road.

Which leads to that wonderful passage in John 15:1-8: Jesus said, “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” These words are not from a milk toast, mealy mouthed Jesus. They are a reality check for us. While some scholars would claim that Jesus never said those words, I would counter by saying that these same scholars seem to claim that all hard sayings can’t possibly have come from Jesus. Guess what: Jesus said it and I believe it! Now what do I do with it?

Is the new Anglican Church in North America being purged, cut off, because it bears no fruit, or is it being pruned so that it will bear even more fruit? In all humility, I have to say that we are being pruned. While some religious groups may be experiencing the first stages of being cut off due to the lack of fruit their biblical apostasy brings, we in ACNA are staying closely connected to and nourished by the VINE. In the process, we are experiencing some pruning in order to allow for more of a rich harvest. Some of us have given up properties and positions; some of us have had to endure ridicule from friends, neighbors, and those who prefer the status quo; some of us have even had to deal with family members who can’t handle our stand for biblical truth. That, my friends, is called pruning. Although pru seems painful at the time, it makes us stronger. The pruning equips us to become stronger disciples for Jesus Christ, to be disciples who make disciples of Jesus.

We are bearing fruit! The ACNA is growing in parishes and members, but especially in joy. We have experienced a new sense of freedom, maybe similar to that which the Israelites experienced after leaving the slavery of Egypt. And it is wonderful!

Feeling pruned lately? Give praise to God. You are being prepared for a great harvest.

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