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Jon Meacham says Jesus is not the only route to salvation

Jon Meacham says Jesus is not the only route to salvation
Pulitzer Prize--winning author and Episcopalian denies basic Christian tenet

By David W. Virtue, DD
April 25, 2020

In his new book "Hope of Glory: Reflections on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross", Jon Meacham, a renowned Episcopal layman and scholar of American history writes; "I am in no sense an evangelical, for I do not share the view that faith in Jesus is the only route to salvation, nor am I determined to convert others to my point of view. It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god," Thomas Jefferson remarked. "It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

Meacham cited the Roman writer Symmachus, arguing against Christians who wanted to remove an altar to the pagan deity Victory, saying, "We cannot attain to so great a mystery by one way: I agree."

"I adhere to the broad outlines of the Christian faith as it has come down through the Anglican tradition," he writes in his book. It apparently does not include Article 18 of the 39 Articles of Religion which reads, "Of Obtaining Eternal Salvation Only by the Name of Christ."

Meacham has taught history at Sewanee: The University of the South, the Episcopal Church's only university, a progressive institution which claims its influences are from the evangelical, the high church and the broad church traditions of Anglican theology and worship.

This is not Meacham's first run in with orthodox Christianity. In 2009, he slammed the then Bishop of Pittsburgh, Robert Duncan over heterosexual marriage, accusing the bishop of fundamentalism.

Meacham was editor of NEWSWEEK at the time, a favorite son and a graduate of Sewanee. He revealed a real and personal animus towards the Pittsburgh bishop.

When Duncan and other leaders of the conservative forces reacted negatively to the ecclesiastical and cultural acceptance of homosexuality and declared their opposition to the ordination and the marriage of homosexuals was irrevocably rooted in the Bible-which they regard as the 'final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life', Meacham slammed Duncan, calling it the "worst kind of fundamentalism."

Given the history of the making of the Scriptures and the millennia of critical attention scholars and others have given to the stories and injunctions that come to us in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament, to argue that something is so because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt-it is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition, said Meacham.

Bishop Duncan became the scapegoat and brunt of Meacham's wrath. Meacham's progressive views are at odds with the ancient truth Duncan espoused, which the church has always upheld, and which Meacham now disavows.

Meacham is not merely an alumnus of Sewanee Episcopal University. He is also a former Trustee, former Regent and a current homeowner in Sewanee. He is very powerful at Sewanee and with the global media. He makes regular appearances on MSNBC's Morning Joe and has appeared multiple times on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher.

Meacham has lived long enough to see the fruit of his words. Meacham is one among many reasons that TEC is hemorrhaging faster than a patient waiting on life support for a heart transplant. Within two decades, TEC will be a handful of junctured dioceses with an ASA of less than 100,000; its millions of dollars spent (read wasted) on property litigation, its headquarters in New York City long sold, and causes no one cares about over resolutions, long since forgotten. TEC is reaping what it is sowing.

Meacham's current views will only cement the direction in which he and the broader Episcopal Church has taken.


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