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fruit basket



Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Gen 2:15-17


So here is the scene… A beautiful world. A delightful garden. An amazing man and (shortly after the verse above) an even more amazing woman (just ask Adam). 

They could stay up as late as they wanted. They could watch anything they wanted to watch on TV. Fat grams had not been invented. Chocolate was a breakfast food, a lunch food, a dinner food, and a snack. There was only one rule: …”of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 

Why would God not want them eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Didn’t He want them to know what was good and what was evil? 

Of course He did, and still does today. He did not, however, want them deciding for themselves what was good and what was evil. Neither does He want us doing that today. And yet, that is exactly what we so often do: decide for ourselves. Instead, He wants us to obey His Word. 

fruit basket

Last week, the United Methodist Church feasted on the fruit. Contrary to the United Methodist’s Book of Discipline, which still maintains Biblical order, the delegates of the Western Jurisdiction of Methodists, after munching on the fruit, voted to elect Pastor Karen Oliveto as a Bishop. Her shrinking congregation is the perfect launching pad for a dramatic departure from Scripture. She, too, seems to be the perfect candidate for sort of a disestablishmentarian initiative. (Ok, it isn’t really disestablishmentarianism because it doesn’t deal with disentangling the church from the government, but it certainly is an effort to depart from Scripture!). Pastor Oliveto not only shepherds a shrinking congregation (a key factor for those diverging from Biblical faith), but also staunchly advocates for abortion. Her church serves as an illegal “medical” marijuana dispensary. She epitomizes the hat-trick of liberal ideals. 

While the spiritual consequences of those kinds of decisions are horrendous, there is a silver lining: departure from Biblical authority causes churches to shrink. Often they can “motor on” by selling assets given by previous, faithful generations, and spending down endowments. The good news, however, is that churches that pursue those values, shrink. That is good news because it means fewer people will be led astray—away from Christ. 

Apparently, the same spirit visited Canada. The course there was a bit more tortuous, though. When the decision came to their General Synod whether or not to approve same-sex marriages, many people expected it would pass. It was obvious, however, that the vote would be close, so people were watching closely. A number of Bishops announced that they were going to ignore the decision of the Synod if it went against their wishes—a clear example of eating the fruit! 

When the votes were tallied, the measure to proceed with same-sex weddings failed by one vote. In a flurry of activity, the vote (which had already been certified) was overturned and the vote to implement same-sex marriages was declared approved. Alleluia! Rebellion firmly established in the Canadian Church.

Of course, this is not really new. This sort of thing has been going on since 2002, but previously, there was a fig leaf of deniability that the official teaching of the church was orthodox. Now, there is no pretense. What will be the consequences in the Anglican Communion? If the Primate of Scotland’s testimony is any indication, there may have already been assertions that invitations to the Lambeth Bishops Conference will not be withheld. Why? Because the ability to gather, rather than to uphold Biblical truth, is the highest order of virtue in Communion bureaucratic circles. However, the liberal celebration in Canada has a tiny fly in the ointment of gladness: such action as approving same-sex marriage, in direct rebellion to Scripture, will have other consequences—notably, the departure and absence of those who take Scripture seriously. 

A complete meltdown could be easily avoided, but it would require clarity about sin and rebellion. That is very unlikely to happen. 

What is more likely to happen now is an unraveling of the Communion. Many leaders will absent themselves from meetings. Enthusiasm for and conversation about shared institutional life will be diminished, and eventually cease, with those who do not share historic faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Because oil and water cannot mix. Will there be open ecclesiastical warfare? Not likely.

What will GAFCON do in the face of this? Many people are hoping for a declaration of a split. I doubt that will happen. Instead, it is much more likely that structures will be formed to carry on mission and evangelism into the world. Look for networks to be strengthened in the areas of Youth Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Theological Education, Mission, Evangelism, and a number of other areas. Many people are already at work collaborating to further Gospel work in many areas. Those networks will become more robust—not because we are rebelling against anything, but because working together makes us more fruitful in carrying out our Lord’s mandate for Mission. 

The liberal side will spend a lot of time, money, and energy trying to convince people that their actions and decisions have no down-side. Sadly, we have already seen the contrary results of the liberal agenda played out in the Episcopal Church. Their policies are taking out more people than a pandemic disease. Their churches are shrinking like crazy. Nonetheless, the liberals would like us to believe that their agenda is the truly loving one, that it is doling out acceptance and speaking blessing. The liberal/progressive/change agents would like us to believe that their actions are at worse benign and are actually helpful. Sadly, though, that misconception doesn’t work. The reason God proscribes these activities is not because He is mean; rather, it is because they separate people from the redeeming love of Christ.  The limitations God sets are always designed to protect us and to give us a more abundant life in Him, just as in the Garden.  

What are we to do? It’s simple. DON’T EAT THE FRUIT!

Simply obey God’s word. It is a much better way to live. No one who has ever done that whole heartedly has ever been disappointed.