The Rev. John Huyck of the American Cathedral in Paris answers the question about the Episcopalian tradition:
The Episcopal Church continues to accept the authority of the first seven "ecumenical" councils, along with the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and likely many other Christians. As for the differences between ourselves and the Methodists, that would be best answered by a Methodist, but I believe that Methodist bishops are elected for a set period of time, after which they cease to be bishops, while the Episcopal/Anglican approach to bishops is closer to the Orthodox - once a bishop, always a bishop (even after one has retired). As for Methodist theology, I would imagine it is not that different from other mainline Christians (Episcopalians among them).
RH: The Devil is in the details.
Robert Whealey writes: On the problem of the survival of the Christian church in any form, my comment on the membership problem is as follows: Up to the age of 18, I went to a fundamentalist Methodist Church. It had a big youth group 300+ members.
After going to college,I became an agnostic. I was married in an Episcopalian church in 1954 ( Lois, Stanford Grad Class of 51). I gradually persuaded my wife to theological radicalism. About 1962 we went to the Unitarian Fellowship for the benefit of three kids.
My daughter Alice is also Stanford AB (1986?) She has a Ph.D., with a thesis on the theology of Josephus (Berkeley)
About 10 years ago, I had a discussion with a Presbyterian Minister in Athens, Ohio (Ohio University). He was enthusiastically telling me about a ministerial board of Elders discussion of theology. He invited me to quit the UU and join the Presbyterian group.
I am somewhat disaffected from the UU because they do a poor job with youth. I think the UU in Boston committee on membership make a big mistake in recruiting pagans and homosexuals.
So my answer to Rev. Tom Fischer, of Athens BA Hamilton College went like this:
Christian parents should send their kids to a Baptist or Catholic Sunday school from 6 to 12. From 12 to 18, they should go to the Presbyterian or Episcopalian Church. If they go to the university they should go to the UU fellowship. Fischer smiled, but if he agreed, he said he would think about it. As to Mormons, it is not only a question of missionaries, they do a good job on alcohol, drugs. The reason that modernist Methodists, Episcopalians etc lose members is due largely to the irrationally of TV. It is entertaining and no body is required to think. TV is America's baby sitter. So politically and intellectually, TV is eroding not only the Churches but also the small liberal colleges.
RH: First, a bow to Josephus. While he is remembered primarily as a warrior, he was deeply interested in theology: he made a serious study of the three forms of Judaism competing at the end of the pre-Christian era; Pharisaism, Sadduceeism and Essenism: he became a Pharasiee. We know little about the Pharisees' beliefs; not surprisingly, Jews reject Christ's criticism if them. The ecumenical approach commended by Robert Whealey is in line with what is going on at Stanford and elsewhere. He is right to condemn TV, which fills the mind with trash. However,the root problem is the Bible itself. This morning's mass at San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas, was very touching because Bishop Patricio Flores, a good man, is retiring. The trouble was in the reading from the Old Testament by a lay reader who clearly had no idea that the text was controversial. It was about God's creation of Adam, Eve and the talking serpent, precisely a passage which elicits the scorn of scientists. I remember that, in my elementary school, small boys ridiculed similar passages in the Old Testament. Until the Church gets around to demythologizing the Bible, it will continue to lose educated members and depend on the unsophisticated. The problem is: Where does demythologizing stop?