NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Appearing on ABC “World News Tonight” for the second time in a week, Richard Land said the Episcopal bishops’ decision to affirm the election of a homosexual bishop portends dark days ahead for the denomination.
Land, in the interview, referenced Bishop-elect Gene Robinson’s prediction that the controversy will blow over because “when a gay bishop walks in and the church walls don’t fall down, they’ll get used to it.” Land responded that what Robinson doesn’t understand is that “the church is not the building and the walls may not fall down, but the Spirit will depart,” said Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in the Aug. 6 interview.
In additional comments to ABC that were not aired, Land said, “A majority of Americans, even people who aren’t churched, are shocked the church is doing this.
“I’ve had people tell me, ‘Look, I don’t go to church and I’m certainly not an Episcopalian, but how can you have a homosexual bishop?’ I think even people who are casual observers of the religious scene are astounded,” Land said.
“Only homosexual activists and those whose consciences have been seared by judging Scripture instead of being judged by Scripture for so long are not shocked by this,” Land said, predicting the bishops’ decision will prompt even more Episcopalians to leave the denomination that has lost 28 percent of its membership since 1961. He noted the actions of Episcopalians in North America are totally out of step with the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The Southern Baptist Convention will not be following the Episcopal Church’s move, Land said, telling ABC News: “We’ve made that decision in our denomination. We’ve chose to remain under the authority of Scripture.
“To remain under the authority of Scripture means you will not accept or affirm homosexual behavior as moral,” he explained. “This is a question of biblical morality. It’s not a question of civil rights and it’s not a popularity contest. It’s a question of whether the body of Christ is going to remain under the teaching of the Apostles or whether it is going to become apostate, which is removing itself from the teachings of the Apostles. Southern Baptists are going to remain people under the authority of Holy Scripture.”
Land said it is not a question of interpretation. “The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, ‘Neither the effeminate nor the abusers of themselves with mankind shall inherit the Kingdom of God, and such were some of you.’ So we can change in Jesus Christ,” he said.
Mainline denominations, Land said, are crafting a modern-day and ever-changing variant of the Gospel. “Those churches that remain under apostolic teaching are not going to follow this trend. Those who have departed from apostolic teaching are following a tradition of whatever is trendier-than-thou.
“For some time much of Anglicanism has been moving to separate itself from being under the authority of Scripture, deciding they can pick and choose which parts of Scripture they are going to accept,” Land said. “Homosexual behavior is deviant behavior according to the clear and consistent teaching of Scripture from the Book of Genesis to the end of the New Testament,” he said. “If a church is constituted in the name of Christ and honestly holding to biblical teachings, a person engaged in deviant behavior should not be elevated to a position of leadership in that faith tradition.”