From Bishop Beckwith, to the Editor of The New York Times
Re: “Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?,” by Ross Douthat (column, July 15).
To the Editor:
If liberal Christianity is defined as doing anything to adapt to the culture, I’d be glad to pray over its grave. But that’s neither the church I serve nor the diocese I lead.
The Episcopal Church is one of many mainline denominations, part of America’s ecclesiastical landscape since the beginning of our country. At times, each denomination has reflected an institutional arrogance, assuming that people will know and find us because we’ve been around so long.
My predecessor, Bishop John Shelby Spong, addressed this arrogance by challenging Christians to think critically and become more biblically literate.
In the Diocese of Newark of the Episcopal Church, we answer the charge to respect the dignity of every human being by advocating for the rights of women, gays and lesbians, and people of color. We live out our ministries locally, expanding them to meet new needs, like offering “ashes to go” to commuters and worship services for children with special needs and their families.
As we engage the world and its unofficial religion of instant gratification, it becomes more important for us to be grounded in faith, committed in spiritual practice, and audaciously witnessing to the Gospel. The mainline dimension of our church may be dying. Requiescat in pace. But what’s emerging is transforming lives. I invite Mr. Douthat to come see.
(Rt. Rev.) MARK M. BECKWITH
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Newark
Newark, July 17, 2012
(This letter was published online here and in print on July 19, 2012.)