What in the world is going on in the Episcopal Church these days? Instead of adhering to what GOD'S WORD clearly tells us, many leaders seem to be doing "their own thing". In San Francisco's Grace Episcopal Cathedral, the flock is encouraged "to experiment with four spiritual paths to the sacred" - with two of the paths being the mystical and the integration of Eastern and Western spiritual disciplines. Other Episcopal Church leaders have decided that homosexuality needs to be accepted as "normal". The Episcopal Convention recently condemned the Bible as being "Anti-Jewish" and the NT as being "anti-Semitic"....
And now, the Church has Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori - the newly-installed, first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA who believes that Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) is NOT the only way to get to heaven, and that God makes some people "gay".
We, at The Refiner's Fire contend that the goings-on at the Episcopal Church are indicative of not only the "end times" scenario outlined in the Books of Daniel and Revelation, but also of the fact that Torah (God's Divine Instruction in Righteousness without which we would have NO blueprint for moral, holy living) is basically ignored in mainstream Christianity which maintains that "Jesus nailed it to the cross". If one doesn't know exactly what God commanded us to do, then how can we do it? The answer - which most people seem to intentionally ignore, lies in the Torah which contains ALL of God's original teachings - teachings that were NEVER replaced by Yeshua's death!
Matthew 5: 17 Don't think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. 18 Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah - not until everything that must happen has happened. 19 So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot (words/commands) and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness is far greater than that of the Torah-teachers and P'rushim, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jefferts-Schori is a perfect example of church leaders who don't know Torah, and whose teachings do NOT line up with the Bible. Let's compare her assertions to God's written Word:
Assertions made by Jefferts-Schori:
In her first sermon after her election at the church's general convention in June 2006, Jefferts-Schori angered the church's conservative wing by referring to "Mother Jesus." (Miami Herald, Nov. 2, 2006)
The Messianic response:
Regardless as to how much one might want to argue that God's qualities can be both feminine and masculine, NOWHERE in Scripture is Yeshua EVER referred to as a female, let alone, "Mother"! In the original Hebrew, God is ALWAYS referred to in the masculine. On the other hand, in Hebrew, the Shechinah, the manifestation of G-d's presence that fills the universe (Holy Spirit), is conceived of in feminine terms, and the word Shechinah is a feminine word. But that does not make Yeshua female! The foreshadowed Messiah of Israel both in the Bible and in the Talmud (Jewish "oral Torah") is referred to in the masculine gender. Even all the angels referred to in the Bible are male!
Yeshua was an adopted son of Yoseph (Matthew 1: 16-18).
Matthew 1: 18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
All the first born were killed in Bethlehem during Yeshua's time (Matthew 2:16-23).
Matthew 2: 16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
Yeshua, the first-born male, redeemed lives because He is the lamb of God. (John 1:29-36)
John 1: 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." 32 Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."
Messiah was to be a prophet like unto Moses - not a prophetess. (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18, 19.)
Deuteronomy 18: 15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, "Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die." 17 The LORD said to me: "What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.
And here's the kicker, in case Jefferts-Schori STILL wants to insist that our Savior might have been female: Yeshua was our Final Sin Sacrifice; the Levitical offerings for High Priests and congregations were always MALES (Leviticus 4: 13-14)! Sins of the common Israelites required female animals, goats, lambs, turtledoves, or pigeons and in the case of the very poor an offering of grain was acceptable. Yahweh was very gracious, allowing for those who couldn't afford male bulls to offer something much less expensive. Today however, believers count among Yeshua's "congregation", which requires a MALE sacrifice:
Leviticus 4: : 13 If the entire community of Isra'el inadvertently makes a mistake, with the assembly being unaware of the matter, and they do something against any of the mitzvot of ADONAI concerning things which should not be done, they are guilty. 14 When the sin they have committed becomes known, then the assembly is to offer a young bull as a sin offering and bring it before the tent of meeting.
Assertions made by Jefferts-Schori:
Although we discover in Colossians 2:9 that in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form; and in John 14:6 Yeshua said: "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me" - Jefferts-Schori says she doesn't consider Him to be the only way to God....Instead, she views salvation as the healing of all Creation through holy living. "I understand salvation as being about the healing of the whole creation. Your part and my part in that is about holy living," she offered. "As Christians we understand [salvation] as relationship with God in Jesus, but that does not mean that we're expected to judge other people's own commitments." (Agape Press, Nov.2, 2006)
The Messianic response:
Creation can be healed through "holy living"? If that's the case, then why did Yahweh require the death of innocent animals to atone for sin in "Old Testament" times? Why did He send Yeshua to be the FINAL Sin Sacrifice?
Isaiah 57: 12 I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you.
Romans 4: 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about - but not before God.
Ephesians 2: 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Assertions made by Jefferts-Schori:
The Episcopal Church has been embroiled for years in a debate over the ordination of homosexual clergy and "blessing" ceremonies for same-sex couples. Where does Bishop-Schori stand on the issue of homosexuality? She supports both - and in fact, she voted in 2003 to confirm her denomination's first openly homosexual bishop, V. Gene Robinson. She told AP that she does not believe the Bible condemns "committed" homosexual relationships. God, she says, made some people "gay."...."Sexual orientation is pretty clearly defined at a very early age, before the age of reason. It's not a choice," she said....Scriptures in the Bible about homosexual acts being sinful, she says, are misunderstood. "They're not about what today we see as mature human beings entering into committed relationships with each other on a full and equal basis,".... (Agape Press, Nov. 2, 2006)
The Messianic response:
What part of "thou shalt not" doesn't Jefferts-Schori understand? What part of "it's an abomination" is too hard to grasp? When did God decide to change His mind about homosexuality? Where is the Scripture to support her ideas?
Leviticus 18: 22 "'You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination.
Romans 1: 22 Claiming to be wise, they have become fools! 23 In fact, they have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for mere images, like a mortal human being, or like birds, animals or reptiles! 24 This is why God has given them up to the vileness of their hearts' lusts, to the shameful misuse of each other's bodies. 25 They have exchanged the truth of God for falsehood, by worshiping and serving created things, rather than the Creator - praised be he for ever. Amen. 26 This is why God has given them up to degrading passions; so that their women exchange natural sexual relations for unnatural; 27 and likewise the men, giving up natural relations with the opposite sex, burn with passion for one another, men committing shameful acts with other men and receiving in their own persons the penalty appropriate to their perversion. 28 In other words, since they have not considered God worth knowing, God has given them up to worthless ways of thinking; so that they do improper things. 29 They are filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and vice; stuffed with jealousy, murder, quarreling, dishonesty and ill-will; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God; they are insolent, arrogant and boastful; they plan evil schemes; they disobey their parents; 31 they are brainless, faithless, heartless and ruthless. 32 They know well enough God's righteous decree that people who do such things deserve to die; yet not only do they keep doing them, but they applaud others who do the same.
1 Corinthians 6: 9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Thessalonians 4: 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality....
1 Corinthians 6: 18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
Ephesians 5: 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
Trying to tell the world that God somehow changed His mind about homosexual liaisons is as ridiculous as trying to show that ANY type of sexual immorality is supposed to be condoned today! God places sexually active homosexuals on the same level as murderers and liars:
1 Timothy 1: 9 We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers - and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
Jefferts-Schori seems to be part of the growing trend of religiosity that desires to put God in a box in order to limit Him. This is the end result of what happens when we ignore Torah and encourage people to believe that they don't have to follow God's original teachings anymore; they don't have to keep God's COMMANDED seventh-day Sabbath anymore; they don't have to keep the Biblical feasts anymore; they don't have to be kosher anymore because "Jesus nailed it to the cross"! In other words, God is not in charge anymore....
The Refiner's Fire asks that all believers keep Jefferts-Schori in prayer, because she truly does not know what she is doing. We pray that Yahweh will wake her up to the fact that there is no sin sacrifice for deliberate sinning:
Numbers 15: 30 But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the LORD, and that person must be cut off from his people. 31 Because he has despised the LORD's word and broken his commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him.