I’ve Been Told That You Don’t Accept Jesus as the Savior, Win Souls for Jesus, or Allow the Holy Spirit in Your Services. Is This True? My answer is a no to all three. Like any other tradition in Christianity, the Episcopal Church is often understood. Here are my answers to each question:
Jesus is the Savior of the World Episcopalians acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. (for references, please see pages 307 and 368 of the Book of Common Prayer). The mistaken belief that we don’t acknowledge Him this way usually comes from two sources:
1.) Some Christians believe that a person is not truly saved until they make a public profession of faith, usually in the form of an “altar call”. Because the Episcopal Church does not use this particular method, some believe we don’t acknowledge Him as the Savior of the world. Although a personal relationship with Christ is neccessary, the Christian life also includes water baptism (for the forgiveness of sins, new life, and adoption into God’s family), confirmation (optional, but allows the person to receive strengthening from the Holy Spirit), receiving the Eucharist and praying with others, and obeying Christ’s commandments.
2.)The Episcopal Church has a diverse membership, and some progressive members may feel that people can be saved by their own religion. (This is not restricted to our church, however). However, such views are not representative of the Episcopal Church as a whole. While most show respect for our non-Christian neighbors, the Church still teaches that salvation comes through Christ. Article 28 of the Articles of Religion (p.871, Book of Common Prayer) states that: “…For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Yes, We Do Evangelize The Episcopal Church does evangelize, or bring people to Christ, as He commanded. However, Episcopalians tend to be respectful of others and don’t use scare tactics, aggressive prostelytizing, or coercion to bring people to Christ. Many help bring people to Christ by talking about their faith and inviting loved ones and friends to church services or activities. The Church also has a great press called Forward Movement that publishes books, devotionals, pamphlets about the Episcopal Church, and Christian literature in general. Much of this material can be found in church literature racks to take home or pass on to people. Many parishes also publish their own informational literature.
In addition, Episcopal churches also reach out to the larger community through programs to help the poor and needy. This is probably the most effective method of reaching people.
The Spirit is Present in Our Services Some churches believe that a service that is planned in advance is not open to the Holy Spirit. However, there is nothing in Scripture that states that a service MUST be spontaneous to be pleasing to God. Since the Holy Spirit is God as the Father and Son are, He cannot be fenced in or tamed any more than the Texas wind can 🙂 In short, the Holy Spirit is very present in our services while we insist on things being done “decently and in good order”. (I Cor. 14:40)
Copyright 2001. Originally written December 30, 2001. May not be reproduced without the author’s consent.