In a previous post, I chastised people for jumping ship to a different church for silly reasons. It lends credence to the oft-repeated atheist argument that if a Christian doesn’t like what Christian doctrines his church is cherry-picking, just go down the street. Repeat until you find a church cherry-picking the right doctrines from your personal perspective.
The point I’m trying to make is that church hopping seldom is from a theological conviction that your church is teaching heresy. It is usually a matter of personal taste. What people fail to consider is that God revealing himself to you isn’t always going to agree with your personal conviction of right/wrong, morality/immorality, etc. A revealed God is going to challenge your preconceived notions of everything. So if someone doesn’t like what the church is teaching, maybe it’s because he’s found sin within himself that needs dealing with.
So I came down on two egregious examples, Father Addison Hart, who I thought was leaving the Catholic Church and re-joining the Anglican Communion; and Father Alberto Cutie, who is leaving for the Episcopal Church in order to marry his illicit lover. However, it appears I’m mistaken about Fr. Hart–he’s staying put.
I received an e-mail this evening from a friend of Fr. Hart’s. He assures me that Fr. Hart is still in communion with the Catholic Church, however the good priest has resigned his pastorate. In part, the letter reads:
The simple truth of the matter (which, again, I am in a strong position to know) is that Mr. Hart, whatever the appearance of the much-quoted blog response may be – and it must be admitted that it appears to have been written with a degree of tactlessness I myself was surprised at – has neither re-entered the Anglican Communion or indeed left the Roman Catholic Church. He has, it is true, resigned his position as a priest in the Diocese of Rockford, but, contrary perhaps to his words in an unguarded moment, remains in communion as a Catholic.
So I apologize for the error. It was not intentional.
I’m convinced that for a Christian to get a TV show, he must be a heretic. I have yet to find a single orthodox televangelist. So Father Alberto Cutie, apostate Catholic priest, will be in good company:
- Joyce Meyer seems to be the closest to orthodoxy, but I still cringe at much of what she says.
- Creflo Dollar, to his credit, at least keeps to the text and expounds each verse, keeping the context in mind and following the argument–even if his conclusions don’t fit with traditional Christian interpretations of the same verses.
- TD Jakes takes a serious scattershot approach, picking one Bible verse here and another one there–all way out of context, of course–to conform to a predefined argument that really isn’t supported by the plenary teaching of Scripture.
- Paula White has no roots in traditional Christianity. I watched a program where she purported to be telling a story from the Bible, but she actually changed the story quite a bit to better suit her point–which was giving to her ministry guarantees that God will make you a rich entrepreneur.
- Pat Robertson speaks for himself and I need to add little commentary to show how he’s co-opted Christianity for his own benefit.
- Jim Bakker and Peter Popoff, despite having been proven frauds, still have TV shows.
Cutie now has a talk show on Fox News. It isn’t often I agree with self-proclaimed “Catholic Champion” Matthew Bellisario, but this statement encapsulates the situation very well:
. . . Cutie, an ordained Catholic priest decided it was more important to break his vows that he made to God and His Church rather than do as he promised. He ran off with a women and apostatized from the Church and then joined the heretical Protestant Episcopal group, while still claiming to be a priest as if nothing has happened. It seems that he thinks that he can just jump ship over to a dysfunctional, deficient group outside the Church with no consequences. (source)
Bellisario is right. Disagreement with the doctrine of a church isn’t a reason to just jump ship. This is a rampant problem in Protestantism: “I don’t like my church’s music. The organ guy is always out of tune. Down the street, they have more modern worship music with electric guitars and a rock-climbing wall in the children’s area. Let’s go there.”
But Cutie’s reason for leaving the Catholic Church has nothing to do with rock-climbing walls or electric guitar used in the music set yet is just as self-serving: he wanted to get married. I can sympathize with sexual temptation. That also happens to be my weak point. But, if you claim to love the Catholic Church (as Cutie does repeatedly), and the Catholic Church is what you have believed in and relied on for your salvation from forever ago, then why abandon that Church so easily, especially for the ultra-liberal Episcopal Church?
But the Episcopal Church makes perfect sense for Cutie. There is no accountability for sin there. This church literally permits everything: women clerics, openly gay clerics, homosexual marriage–name your heresy, and the Episcopal Church probably embraces and encourages it!
Cutie will be able to glory in his shame (Phil 3:9; perhaps reminiscent of Hab 2:15-17, especially appropriate given that verse speaks of punishment to those who lead others astray, which Cutie is clearly able to do with a talk show vehicle). He will never be called to repentance, and never be called back to an authentic relationship with Christ. There is no such thing as sin in the Episcopal Church, so he’ll be welcome to live in sin as long as he’s there, and the congregants won’t see anything wrong with it. Cutie isn’t so much looking for a new church as he is an excuse to do what he wants instead of living the life God has planned for him.