Note: The Rt. Rev. James Dees (Statesville, NC) left the Episcopal Church over TEC’s escalating “leftism” in 1963 to form the Anglican Orthodox Church. The AOC was one of the earlier Continuing Anglican churches, part of the 1961-65 exodus. As the statement below indicates, Dees has proven himself a modern prophet anticipating later corruptions to faith and order such as recent homosexual blessings. The memory of Dees repeatedly persuades me why I am a Continuing Episcopalian, and how more outspoken men like Dees are needed in the Church today. There a number of other things that might be said, but I hope to save them for comments below. This Statement is a transcript from a now out-of-print and very rare 1962 tract.
Statement of the Rev. James P. Dees on His Withdrawal
Why I am leaving the Protestant Episcopal Church to work with others who desire to recapture the faith of our fathers and the witness of the historic Church.
I am a clergyman of the Episcopal Church. I have been in the ministry now here in North Carolina for more than fourteen years. I have served as priest in charge of one mission and as a rector of two parishes. In times past it has been my privilege to serve my church i many responsible positions. I was for several years a member of the Executive Council of the Diocese in which I was located, and was Secretary of the Diocesan Convention, Chairman of the Department of Youth, a member of the Department of Camps and Conferences, to mention some of the positions I have held.
But the time has come when I can no longer support the Protestant Episcopal Church and what it stands for, and I am now coming out of it. To say that I am leaving my Church is not quite the whole truth, for I feel that the Protestant Episcopal Church, for reasons to be enumerated, has already left me. I am separating myself from what the Church has become. I am getting out of the Church that I feel has departed from what I consider to have been its intellectual, spiritual, and doctrinal heritage. I have had all that I can stand of its social, economic, and political program of socialism; of its pseudo-brotherhood; of its appeasement of the Communists; of its so-called civil rights; and of its rejection of much that I consider to be fundamental to the Biblical faith.
An Episcopalian Heritage:
Let me preface what I have to say further by saying I am an Episcopalian of many generations. Episcopal clergy are among my forebears. I loved the Church of my childhood and the Church that I felt was handed down to me as “the Church of our Fathers”. I loved the comforting faith and gracious manners manifested in the lives of my early spiritual mentors, whose lives and teachings revealed that they were indwelt by the Spirit of our Savior, whom they taught as the bible plainly reveals. I still love its ancient liturgy and its ancient vestments, and I love the creeds and the heritage of its architecture, its hymns, and many things besides.
But the Church has changed; or, at least, the Church seems to be no longer as it used to appear. The spiritual and intellectual climate is no longer as in days gone by, and I feel that it has changed for the worse, and the faith of the clergy has been sorely watered down with liberal doctrine.
The root of my unrest is found, I believe, in the fact that the bent of my nature is primarily toward the Divine Revelation recorded for us in the Bible, which, I believe, has been imparted by the grace of the Holy Spirit. As I interpret the situation, my faith is basically Biblical faith; and I think that the faith of the Church also should be Biblical faith; and that its worship and practices should conform plainly to God’s Word which is found in His Holy Book.
Years of Reflection:
After years of long and considered reflection over observations gleaned from many sources, I have come to the conclusion, however, that there is a wide discrepancy between what the Bible teaches and what many of the clergy, both of the priesthood and of the episcopate, believe. There are many who do not believe that the Virgin Birth of Christ was an historic fact. They call it a myth. It is my conviction that there are many wo do not believe that the tomb in which our Lord was buried on Good Friday was empty on Easter morning and that He had risen from the dead in a transformed, quickened, glorified body. They say this also is only myth. It is my personal observation that there are many in the Church who do not believe in the Holy Trinity, in its historic relevance and significance. One bishop says that it is out of date. There are many who do not believe in the plain Bible statements that salvation is offered through Christ alone, through His atoning sacrifice, to be appropriated through faith in him.
Churchmen Reject the Bible:
As samples of current thinking, let me give you a few quotes from certain leaders of the Anglican Communion. Here are some attributed to His Grace, the most Rev. Arthur Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, who is recognized generally as the titular head of the worldwide Anglican communion. It is reported that in the London Daily Mail of October 2, 1961, he said, “Heaven is also not a place to which we humans go in our present bodily state, nor is it a place for Christians only. Those who have led a good life on earth but found themselves unable to believe in God will not be debarred from heaven. I expect to meet some present-day atheists there.” He reportedly is quoted in the Oakland Tribune of February 3, 1956 in an AP dispatch from Durham, England, as follows: “The theology of ‘Christ bore your punishment; believe and be saved,’ when accompanied by the fundamentalist cliche ‘The Bible says’ is a very distorted view of the apostolic gospel.” Further questionable theology of the Archbishop is reported in the same dispatch, where the Archbishop is said to have “attacked the Protestant movement which insists upon the infallibility of the scriptures and such biblical miracles as the virgin birth and the physical resurrection of Christ.” Of Dr. Hewlett Johnson, the “Red Dean” of Canterbury, it reportedly is stated in a UPI dispatch of January 26, 1959: He “was quoted as saying he believes Stalin is in heaven…’Stalin was a rough and stern man. He had to be because he had a very dirty job to do. But God’s eye is a big eye and sees everything, good and bad. To know all is to forgive all, so I think that from heaven’s point of view, Stalin is safe’.” These statements speak for themselves and are hardly deserving of comment among people who believe plain statements of Scripture.
The Rt. Rev. Richard S. M. Emrich of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan is quoted in the Detroit News of December 30, 1961 as saying: “You see, God knows His own, and the one thing He wants is love. That is why a good Moslem, who loves God and his neighbor, has a better chance at heaven than a lazy, selfish Christian.” I wonder what prompted the to engage in this sophistry. I wonder also, does he consider the doctrine of the third chapter of the Gospel of St John to be false doctrine? Apparently, he does.
It is my conviction that a Church that tolerates such views as these is to that extent apostate. It is my conviction that such views in the Church are growing, and I feel that to the extent that I am supporting a Church that permits such beliefs, I am supporting apostasy; I am willfully participating in the betrayal of my Lord. God forbid! I feel that the House of Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church has failed in one of its basic obligations, namely, that of attempting to proclaim the historic Faith and to keep the Faith of the Church as free of heresy as possible. In at least one particularly obvious instance, namely, concerning the observations of Bishop Pike, the House of Bishops has failed to take a stand and clearly delineates its position. The House of Bishops has failed in its duty to the people of the Church in this regard.
Churchmen are Sacerdotalist
Besides this thinking, to which I take exception, I must confess to a lack of sympathy with certain practices among our High Church brethren, among them being the practice of invoking the blessings of the Virgin Mary. This, to my way of thinking, is a product of medieval and premedieval superstition and there is no warrant whatsoever for it in Scripture. It tends to deprive our Lord of veneration due to Him alone. I feel that anything that does this is of the Antichrist. Another practice with which I have little sympathy is that of reserving the Sacrament and of tending to place the physical elements of the Holy Communion, the bread and the wine, on a level where they are held in adoration. I feel that the reserving of the elements and the tendency toward the adoration of the elements in certain worship services hint strongly of idolatry. The elements, the bread and the wine, in effect, as I interpret the situation, become considered practically to approximate the actual physical presence of the body and the blood of the Son of God; the practice smacks mightily of the doctrine of transubstantiation; and, to the extent that this is true, I consider it to be idolatry. I find it difficult to support a Church that indulges in such practices.
One gets the impression that one can belong to the Protestant Episcopal Church and believe anything or everything or nothing at all, except, that is, in regard to certain social and political issues.
Churchmen are Leftist
Apart form this issue of the basic doctrines of the Faith, I find myself sorely tired by our Church’s participation in worldly matters that I consider to be of the anti-Christ. The Protestant Episcopal Church is a member of the National Council of Churches. I did not vote to get into it, and I cannot vote to get out of it, and I have no way of making my will or views of any effect in regard to it. I am advised that among many of the things that the National Council of Churches advocates are disarmament, co-existence with Russia, the abolition of loyalty security laws, recognition of Red China, forced racial integration, to mention but a few. One stud of the National Council of Churches by a congregation of the Protestant Episcopal Church states that the Council has “exceeded its rightful role in speaking out, as the official voice of Protestantism in America, n such controversial issues as federal aid to education, the right-to-work laws, the ethical considerations of the steel dispute, the seating of Red China in the United Nations, etc.,” and that it, “as presently constituted and operated, is a harmful and highly dangerous institution” (St .Mark’s Vestry Committee Report on the NCC). I am advised that in 1960 the Episcopal Church gave the NCC “over $500,000” which “does not include private gifts, but is represented in the general budget of the Episcopal Church, pp. 47-51” (The National Council of Churches of Christ– Activities Revealed, published by the State Rights Council of Georgia). When I support the Protestant Episcopal Church, my financial contributions and my moral and spiritual support are funneled in part into the support of the National Council of Churches. There is no way that I can avoid this happening so long as I am supporting the Protestant Episcopal Church in any way whatsoever, whether it be in givin gtoward local needs, toward building funds, or anything else. I am opposed to my supporting, even indirectly, an organization that is aligned with forces that are destroying America. It sorely tries my spirit.
Someone has sent me a copy of the “Belief and Declaration of Purpose” of the Committee of Christian Laymen, Inc., Box 285, Woodland Hills, California. The Statement to which I heartily subscribe reads a follows:
- We believe in an unchanging God “the same yesterday, today, and forever,” hence the Gospel of Jesus Christ, rather than the Social Gospel, should be preached from the pulpit.
- We believe that as individuals we are fully capable of making our own political decisions. So we oppose the political activities of the National Council of Churches in seeking, as an organization, to influence legislation in the name of Protestantism.
- We oppose the One World, One Church idea where by this nation surrenders its sovereignty to the United Nations as promoted by our Church leaders.
- We support the American Free Enterprise System and our Constitutional Republican form of government as a necessary adjunct to the survival of Christianity.
- We seek to inform lay people of influence in our Seminaries and Churches which downgrade the Bible and picture of Jesus Christ as just another man. These influences have now reached into Church publications including Church school literature for our young people.
So ends the “Belief and Declaration of Purpose” of th Committee of Christian Laymen.
It is obvious, it seems to me, that much of the programs of the National Council of Churches and of the International Communist conspiracy are being promoted within the framework of the Episcopal Church. A new clergyman in the diocese some time ago quoted a bishop as indicating to him that “the plums”– that is, preferred positions– in the Diocese went to the men who promoted the program of the National Council of Churches. It seems obvious. The Church, in my opinion, is so oriented toward a program of political and social action, that it practically has lost its true mission. We have committees in the Church that tell us how the Church can be effective in getting legislation passed, such legislation as the abolition of capital punishment, civil rights (so-called), etc. When I support the Church, I am supporting agencies of the Church doing these kinds of things. I find that I cannot endure it any longer. It appears that the Church has degenerated into the role of a political and social action committee trying to remake the world, by the use of force and persuasion, into the image that the people in authority in it think it ought to be made into, rather than, through preaching the Gospel, letting the Holy Spirit of God move men to do His will freely.
I feel that in th Protestant Episcopal Church I am supporting a political and social action program committed to things that I disagree with and that are displacing the Church’s primary function of proclaiming the saving grace offered to sinners through faith in the Divine Savior. I am afraid that I have had about all that I can stand.
First Concern in the Faith:
These times are times of grave concern. My first concern is for the historic Christian Faith. Christianity is founded on God the Father’s revelation of Himself to the world through HIs divinely appointed Son, knowledge of whom has been committed truthfully to us through the scriptures and through the Holy Spirit and through a faithful ministry. My second concern is for my country, which is based on the Federal Constitution as it is plainly worded and plainly intended by its authors and based on the basic economic factor of private property, and on concern for the preservation of our national sovereignty and individual freedom. Thirdly in order comes my concern for the Episcopal Church. I cannot accommodate myself to rationally and willfully serving both good and evil. When the Episcopal Church serves causes that I consider to be evil and contrary to the best interests of the Biblical faith and of my country, then something has to give somewhere, and my personal integrity under God is more important to me than my remaining a priest of the Episcopal Church.
I feel therefore that the Church and I must separate. I have felt for a long time that I should stay with the Church and I must separate. I have felt for a long time that I should stay with the Church and fight for what I believe in, from within the Church, and I have done so. But I think now that the time has come when I may be able to give a more adequate witness to God’s Truth outside the Episcopal Church.
I wish to let it be clearly known that I stand unequivocally for certain elements of the orthodox faith that I consider basic and particularly relevant at this time, these elements being:
- the Virgin Birth of our Lord as historical fact,
- the Divinity of our Lord,
- the Atoning Sacrifice of the Cross,
- the Resurrection of our Lord from the grave, leaving the tomb empty on Easter morn,
- the Second Coming of Jesus, and
- salvation by Grace through Faith alone
To sum up now, from the negative side, let me say that I sense deeply the fact that the Episcopal Church is participating in the general dissipation of the historic, Biblical faith; it is actively engaged in working against the best interests of our country; and it is actively working to destroy race, peace, and American culture by advocating the use of force by the Federal Government which would take away ultimately all of our freedom and liberties.
I know there is much true faith in the Church. I know well of many great sacrifices now being made by churchmen in the name of our Savior. It is a bad situation that does not have some good mixed with the bad, but the evils I have pointed out exist on too great a scale for me to live with here any longer. If the House of Bishops will not give us a clear statement of its attitude on certain heretical sounding pronouncements, and if others in high places in the Church can deny our Lord as the one Way, Truth, and Life, then the theological and spiritual climate is not for me.
The Demand of Holy Scripture
The fourteenth through the eighteenth verses of the Sixth chapter of the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, I feel, speaks to me profoundly in this hour.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what cncord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not th eunclean thing: and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
And so I come out. I have found that there are other people who have suffered the same trials of their faith and the same mental anguish that I have suffered, and they plan to come out with me. We plan to set up a new Episcopal Church patterned after the historic Anglican faith and tradition. We believe that God will bless our efforts. We believe that there are many who believe as we believe and who are looking for a wholesome spiritual home. We believe that there are many who are weary of contributing their money toward Church programs that are opposed to the welfare of our country and Biblical religion, and who would welcome the opportunity of being able to make a contribution to what we are trying to do. If you are one of these people, then we extend to you a most profound and prayerful invitation to come along and help build an Episcopal Church based on the Scriptures and on the orthodox liturgy and traditions, and one that seeks humbly by God’s grace to strip itself of unbelief, apostasy, and pagan superstitions, to witness to God Almighty in the name of His divinely appointed Son, in His Spirit, to whom alone we give all the praise and honor and glory.
If you are interested further in our plans , we hope to hear from you. Rev. James P. Dees