The Anglican Church of Virginia
PRESS ARCHIVE

'ISSUE OF SIN'
Anglican leader speaks out aganst gay bishop

By Ben Orcutt

Bishop Larry Johnson of the Anglican Church of Virginia feels it’s his duty to speak out against the Episcopal Church’s
selection of its first openly gay bishop. “When we set forth examples that are unholy, we lead our people to hell,” Johnson
said on Wednesday. “It’s just that simple.”

On Tuesday at their general convention in Minneapolis, Episcopal Church bishops voted 62-45 to appoint 56-year-old V.
Gene Robinson as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire, making him the church’s first openly gay bishop. Johnson, a
65-year-old Warren County resident, broke away from the Episcopal Church more than 20 years ago because he felt the
church had departed from its traditional values.

He was made a bishop three years ago so he could create a traditional church in Virginia for Anglicans. Two years ago the
Anglican Church International Communion was formed with Johnson as the first president. The ACIC consists of bishops
from the United States, Australia, India and Haiti. Major growth is expected over the next year, Johnson said. “I feel that
there’s suffering and pain in the Episcopal Church and even though I’m not part of the Episcopal Church, I’m concerned
about what happens with all Christians, especially I’m concerned because the Episcopal Church was a very important place
for me until I had to leave over issues of theology,” Johnson said. Two key issues that drove him from the Episcopal
Church, Johnson said, were the ordination of women as priests and changing traditional liturgy to make it more
contemporary. “The hypocrisy of the Episcopal Church [was] saying that they were an inclusive church and including a
diverse population, while at the same time disallowing the persons that wanted to worship as they had worshipped for years
and their ancestors had worshipped,” Johnson said. “In fact, they abandoned these people.” Those are reasons that he
became a bishop, to give “the abandoned and disenfranchised” a place to worship, Johnson said. “We anticipated the
Episcopal Church would continue its march toward liberalism and this is what we have with this present action of [electing]
the gay bishop,” he said. “And, of course, this decision looms so large because it is in direct opposition to specific scripture
condemning homosexuality and adultery.”

Johnson cites 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 — “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not
deceived, fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, the
greedy, drunkards, revilers and robbers — none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.” God forgives sinners, Johnson
said, but not those who do not seek forgiveness. “We all sin and we are all forgiven,” he said. “But in the case of the new
gay bishop, he is living an active homosexual life and flaunting his lifestyle. The issue of sin is at the core of the concerns of
conservative Anglicans. If the Bible says something is a sin and now you put into a leadership position someone who is
committing that sin, then the message that you send to your people is that it’s OK for everyone to do that.”

Tuesday’s action by the Episcopal Church leaves more than the church at stake, Johnson said. “Every priest, minister, must
be concerned about the soul of his brothers and sisters,” Johnson said. “It’s ultimately the souls that we are to bring to
Christ. When you bring a person to Christ, they must repent of their sins, because in the presence of God, there can be no
sins. What the vote tells me is that they have blotted that from scripture as a sin. “If a leader in the church says something is
no longer a sin and the people continue to commit the sin, they’re all condemned to hell. There can be no repentance if you
say a sin is not a sin.” Johnson recognizes that many in the Episcopal Church are upset with Robinson’s election. What has
occurred, Johnson said, is that liberals within the Episcopal Church have prevailed. “Many liberal theologians are changing
the wording in the Bible — omitting those things they don’t agree with,” Johnson said. “The cliché is that it’s a wonderful
book of poetry and literature. But we believe that it is the word of God and necessary to the salvation of God’s people.

I believe the Bible is the infallible word of God, and if there are conflicts there that I cannot understand, the problem falls
with me and not with God. “When Peter Marshall, the great Presbyterian preacher, was presented with this same scenario,
he said, paraphrasing, ‘I cannot worry about those things in the Bible that I cannot understand because there is so much
there that I do know and understand.’” In Johnson’s opinion, Tuesday’s action by the Episcopal Church will be its undoing.
“This is the thread that will cause the unraveling of the Episcopal Church,” he said. “It’s like a tapestry. You can pull many
of the threads of a tapestry and you won’t affect the structure. But I am convinced that this is the thread that will bring
about the unraveling of the Anglican community.” Johnson sees it as his duty to sound the alarm. “If you can see it, you must
speak out,” he said. R Contact Ben Orcutt at borcutt@nvdaily.com