Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Warning


Here are some thoughts about two sides of an issue. Moreover, my thoughts are warnings both for others and myself. There are those, including myself, who believe that if one holds to the authority of the Bible then to engage in homosexual sex is sin. There are those who believe that homosexual sex is a natural part of being human and that those who deny ordination to practicing homosexuals are denying them rights.

I have noticed developing problems on both sides of this debate. The problems could grow into monstrosities.

On the orthodox side is the problem of far rightwing groups that also believe that the practice of homosexuality is wrong. Once, several years ago, these groups, most of who are and were racists and into conspiracy theories, attempted to integrate conservative Christians into their spheres of action. They continue to do so.

In the Mid-West in the seventies and eighties they used poor farmers losing their farms as propaganda for their conspiracy theories about bankers. They use the awfulness of abortion to attempt to tie evangelical Christians to their causes.

It has happened. I have seen evangelical Church periodicals lay out conspiracy theories, that are bad enough, but they actually used resources that came from racist groups. The editors did not know they were racists but simply saw that they agreed on a couple of issues.

The issues surrounding homosexuality must always be tied to Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Christ preached-- his life, death, bodily resurrection and glorious return are those great pillars that knock all opposing ideologies to the ground. They will fall against the rock.

The person who makes his whiteness, his riches or poverty, or anything else the standard for connecting with God will find his ideals crushed against the rock that is Jesus Christ. Our discipleship grows out of our unity with Jesus Christ. Our rejection of sin comes from bearing his righteousness.

Christ’s grace. It doesn’t have room for ideology, be it conservative or progressive. Biblical Christianity tied to the ugly grime of extreme far right groups would be a monstrosity.

And here is the problem I see looming in the progressive side of the issue. Both in the event of the passing of proposition 8 in California and the loss now in the Presbyterian Church of amendment B, I see this turn by progressives towards taunting and insult and in the case of proposition 8, even some violence.

Resorting to such words as spiritual violence, bigot and homophobes won’t be an end but a beginning. That kind of characterizing of those who disagree with you on the basis of the biblical text won’t end with words. Not unless there is repentance. No, it will escalate into unrelenting strife, derision and eventually persecution on your part. You will find yourselves where you never intended to be, because words and actions do matter.

Barth’s words in the midst of escalating insult by those who had not thought of themselves as persecutors should remind all. “And if one pays heed to their naming of theological opponents publicly, and calling them ‘coteries without a Fatherland,’ as ‘those sour-faced parsons,’ who within two years … will get ‘not simply one blow of the cudgel’… then this is something picturesque and new, and can easily lead on to becoming something dangerous to life.” And it did become dangerous to life.


So once again, to be a Christian means tying beliefs to the crucified and resurrected Lord. It means understanding such terms as equality and holiness in light of our new life given when we are united to Jesus Christ.

This is the rock that falls on our sin and keeps us from holding onto worldly ideology. Christianity tied to taunting and persecution would be a monstrosity.

I am leaving tomorrow and will leave comments on till then. I will turn it back on when I return.

32 comments:

Carmen Fowler said...

Thank you for your discernment. I invite your continued counsel to those of us who may be considered by others to be far to one side or other on issues. Indeed, may we all strive to find ourselves always at the center of God's will in Jesus Christ. He is our Rock and our salvation; our only hope and our sure deliverer. Carmen Fowler, President, Presbyterian Lay Committee

Viola Larson said...

Thank you Carmen,
I meant this for me as well. I had just finished reading your blog and found your comment for here.

Your blog posting was timely, one of my sons has been fighting for several months now not to loss his house.Thank you for your words and your ministry.

Clay Allard said...

Thank you, Viola--
This is all that I have been seeking-- a way to follow Jesus through this conflict, to love the sinner even as I hate the sin, understanding that that applies to me and to everyone of the human beings Christ died to save.

We have a magnificent opportunity to witness to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ if we can find a way to keep Christ in the center of progressives and evangelicals.

Clay Allard
Dallas, TX

Kattie W. Coon said...

“There are those, including myself, who believe that if one holds to the authority of the Bible then to engage in homosexual sex is sin. There are those who believe that homosexual sex is a natural part of being human and that those who deny ordination to practicing homosexuals are denying them rights.”

Viola,

I don’t know why you bothered saying this. It doesn’t seem to be a part of your thesis statement. It seems a little out of place, unless of course you are trying to distil all the points of view on the subject to just these two perspectives. As for me, I hold to the authority of the Bible according to the same Book of Confessions you do, yet I only see some homoerotic behavior as sin. It’s only in that sense that I believe we may be denying ordination to some who rightly deserve it.

By the way, I’m going to use the term “spiritual violence” and the term “bigotry” whenever I think it rightly applies.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Red_Cleric said...

Viola,
Thanks for your insight. For a long time I've had problems with putting myself in a "camp" mainly because I don't believe in "one issue" Christianity.

You did a great job admonishing us all to take a good look at how we respond and I appreciate that.

Alan Wilkerson
Portland OR.

Sam said...

Viola,
Great post. I can see what you are talking about happening. We must be careful to choose our words wisely or there will be no discussion. I want to stay in communication, I respect your position even if I don't agree.

Sam Mack-currently in Yosemite! Eat your heart out!

Viola Larson said...

Clay I would like to see you enlarge on this, "We have a magnificent opportunity to witness to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ if we can find a way to keep Christ in the center of progressives and evangelicals." And please say exactly what you mean.

For those reading all of this I will turn the comments back on for just two days Saturday and Sunday when I return from the VOW board meeting. Then I will be gone for two weeks.

Viola Larson said...

Kattie,
This is probably going to sound strange. But I know what I mean... Like the old African American spiritual I feel like asking can I get a witnes, or better still, I have a witness.

Viola Larson said...

Thank you Alan and Sam. And may I recommend Pastor Bob's latest post. Its very funny. Go to http://tullyrobert.blogspot.com/

Viola Larson said...

Carmen,
One more thought maybe others consider you to be far to one side on issues, I do not and I hope you don't think I was aiming at you. I was aiming at everyone.

This was not a call to let go of whst you believe but rather to not align with extreme radical secular and hate groups on either side.

Viola Larson
Sacramento, CA

Anonymous said...

Viola,

"it will escalate into unrelenting strife, derision and eventually persecution on your part. You will find yourselves where you never intended to be, because words and actions do matter."

I think this is a timely warning. It is hypothetically possible, since I am sure the conservative Evangelicals also never intended to find themselves where they ended up on this issue.

But pragmatically the deck is rigged. For example, even though our denomination allows black ministers to be ordained and there is no segregation permitted, white churches almost never call black pastors and are never forced to call black pastors. And vice-versa.

In a less obvious way, congregations that do not want to call women pastors are not forced to do so either.

So I find it hard to imagine that congregations that do not want to have gay pastors would ever be forced to call gay pastors. What pastor wants to be forced on a congregation anyway?

The Methodist church finds itself in a different position because bishops select their pastors every two or so years. The Roman Catholics as well. It would not be because of gay pastors that their system has its problems, but in that system it makes sense to hang up on generic standards.

Not so for Presbyterians.

My point is this. Aside from the strife around the ordination criteria itself, the issue is moot when it comes to the criteria by which congregations select their pastors.

Congregations are almost never required to take pastors they do not want, and in those rare cases where they do it is only temporary and only because they have other bigger problems.

The only function ordination criteria has in the Presbyterian church is to provide a short cut list of screening pre-requisites.

So why do we fight over them?

In my opinion they should be only based on academic training and public profession of Faith (simple, a la Apostles creed).

What we have today, however, does qualify as persecution in the sense that congregations that do not desire gay pastors for themselves are forcing their own standards on other congregations that do.

It's as if white congregations could prevent black congregations from choosing black pastors, or force them to take on white ones.

And that kind of oppression, in my opinion, should not be permitted. In either direction.

Tom

(Before you lecture me on "unrepentant sinners" as a criteria, let me just say that I have never met a fully repentant sinner. That criteria will always be an excuse for persecution. Since it provides such an obvious and recurring opportunity for the sin of pride and prejudice we should eliminate it)

Viola Larson said...

Tom,
Women and African Americans are not sinning because they are women or because of their ethnicity. There is a vast difference.

And I did not say or suggest how such persecution would come about.

Anonymous said...

Viola, Welcome back.

As I have said before, the issue of homosexuality is not my issue. For the sake of this discussion I will even grant you that homosexuality is a sin.

The analogy still holds.

It is not right for Christians to oppress other people, not even those who sin. The burden of the conservative Evangelical community is to show that it is not oppressing the gay community regardless. Oppression is fundamentally wrong and evil and we Christians, above all people, should be the first to stand against it if we physically can.

Most importantly we should never find ourselves even close to partaking in oppression in the name of Jesus Christ.

In lifting the ban on gay ordination we will be renouncing oppression yet one more time in the name of Jesus Christ.

For as you said, “Christianity tied to taunting and persecution [is] a monstrosity.”

If we loose sight of that, we have lost sight of everything.

Tom

Viola Larson said...

Tom,
Does ordaining practicing homosexuals so as not to be oppressive mean that we must also ordain others who refuse to repent of their sin. For instance if a person continues to commit adultery and insists that it is not sin should we ordain them so as not to be oppressive?

Viola Larson
Sacramento, Ca

Anonymous said...

Viola,

It's the congregations that are being oppressed. There aren't any congregations of mostly adulterous members out there wishing to call particularly adulterous pastors.

At least I've never heard of any.

Tom Evans
KC

Viola Larson said...

Tom,
The whole issue is about ordaining individuals. But I can expand my analogy. Shall we allow congregations to ordain others who are practicing adultery and refusing to call it sin in order not to oppress those congregations?

And let me go further, if homosexual sex is sin, and the Bible clearly tells us it is, then it would be oppression on the Church's part to allow those individuals to be ordained while they are insisting on their sin.

The Church is about proclaiming the transforming power of Jesus' life, death and resurrection not urging others to go on sinning.

Aric Clark said...

Viola,

First let me say, in reference to the original post, that it is fair minded and I agree for the most part.

Now, at risk of getting off-topic, I want to broach this question because it comes up repeatedly...

You say the Bible clearly tells us homosexual sex is sin. I am not interested in arguing specific passages with you or hermeneutical techniques. It has been done to death.

What I am interested in your reflections on different modes of moral reasoning. By declaring homosexual sex sin, you are saying it is immoral - wrong. You are making this judgment on the basis of an authority - the Bible. It is a rule, which must be obeyed. This form of moral reasoning is called deontology (which I assume you know, but I say for the sake of any listening in).

Deontology is the most simplistic and limited form of moral reasoning. No one, indeed, really relies on deontology where the rubber hits the road because it is either too distant from real life to be practical, or it results in judgments and outcomes most would agree are actually immoral. The classic example is "If a Nazi soldier asks if I am hiding Jews in my basement (and I am), may I lie to protect them?"

The medical professions would be completely impossible if we relied on deontological ethics. The only way you can say it is okay to cut someone in one circumstance and not in another is using teleology or some other method.

I know that you, along with almost all people, reject deontological arguments for most of your ethical decisions. Jesus himself frequently criticized deontological approaches to moral questions calling the lawyers and pharisees hypocrites (and harsher names).

At present you are persuaded that the Bible does not command anything which is evil (or that all those commands were made redundant by Christ), but even if you were ever to be convinced that the Bible did in fact command something horrible like murder, I hope you would use your well-developed moral reasoning ability to reject such a command as obviously inconsistent the ends of Christ.

I have written in some length about this on my blog. I'm sure you have plenty of sound responses, so I want to hear them.

What is your defense of this lonely throw-back to bronze-age deontological thinking? How do you handle the juxtaposition between your "the bible says" stance on this issue and countless other moral issues which you must surely have taken into consideration factors like intention, circumstances, consequences, and virtue?

Aric Clark
Ft. Morgan, CO

Viola Larson said...

Aric,
It seems like I just keep putting you off. Please forgive me, I just returned late last night from an out of state board meeting,(Loveland Colorado)(See above posting) and am leaving Monday on a long two week train trip. Your question is a good question and deserves a longer answer than I have time for at the moment. But I do want to answer you and have read your posting. I will do it later probably in June as I am coming home to a granddaughter's wedding.

I would have commented on your posting but I am weary of being insulted by Jodie.

Anonymous said...

Viola,

You seem to be trying to talk past me again.

A pastor in our denomination cannot be ordained without a call. A call means a congregation wants to install them as their pastor. If some outside folks judge this pastor to be in sin but not the congregation that wants the pastor, then the outside folks have no business preventing it. They are imposing their own view of things on the congregation that is making the call.

And so it will be with every other church that calls said pastor. Nobody is required to call a pastor they do not want. The only victims are the congregations that are prevented from calling a pastor they do want.

The important thing is full disclosure and no false pretenses.

On the other hand, ordaining someone who is is sin, and all of us are, one way or the other, does not oppress anybody. If that were to be a standard, then nobody could be ordained.

I fail to see you logic.

Tom

Aric Clark said...

No Problem Viola. Life comes first. This blogging stuff is pretty unimportant in the scheme of things :P

Ironic that you were in Loveland on May 1st, I was no more than 10 miles away at a Presbytery meeting that day.

Aric Clark
Ft. Morgan, CO

Red_Cleric said...

I'm confused. Tom wrote, "A call means a congregation wants to install them as their pastor. If some outside folks judge this pastor to be in sin but not the congregation that wants the pastor, then the outside folks have no business preventing it. They are imposing their own view of things on the congregation that is making the call."

That sounds so Baptist it's not even funny. What about the "connectional" nature of the Church? What about ordaining on "behalf" of the whole Presbytery.

Alan
Portland, OR.

Viola Larson said...

Aric,
Because my husband has accidently gone off to Church with my car keys, he goes early to choir, I have decided to write on your question.

First of all I have to say that deontology as an understanding of ethics, which is generally like Kant’s moral imperative, leaves me cold. But if you go the other way, the direction you have traveled, you will simply find yourself in an ethics of relativism which leaves me colder yet. Now in some sense I believe you have helped yourself by using an example of hiding Jews from Nazis which still could be universalized into, ‘it is moral to lie if it saves lives.’ But then I could be saving the lives of three murders and rapists and once again the moral question needs to be addressed.

On the other hand the issue of ordaining practicing homosexuals has to adhere to some kind of ethics that spans the life time of the individuals. Perhaps, it could be stated somewhat like this, ‘it is okay to ordain those who are unrepentant sinners if they find it impossible not to stop their practices.’ But then that could lead on to such particular statements as it is okay to ordain someone who keeps stealing from the Church and is unrepentant.

That is one of the reasons why I would reject both a hard to defend deontology and relativism. And here is my problem with the way you have moved from the biblical commandment to what I would suppose is relativism for me but something else for you.

I do not equate the biblical command with deontology which must be based on human reasoning. The scripture is not human reasoning but the inspired word of God. That is not to say it is unreasonable but to say it goes beyond reason. And the most important thought here is the Word of God. We do not obey the Word of God simply because it is a moral command or even because we believe the Bible has authority, but because God’s words have authority. And the Bible is God’s word to us.

During the Nazi years Corrie ten Boon and her married sister hid Jews in their homes. Corrie wrote that she felt she had to lie to the Nazis when they asked about Jews in the house. And because of this the Jews were saved. On the other hand her sister felt she had to always tell the truth and she told the Nazis when they asked that there were Jews hidden in her home. An interesting, and amazing part of this story, is that although the Nazis arrested the Jews they each one escaped. The sister died in a concentration camp as did most of Corrie’s family.

As a devout Christian and out of compassion for the life of others Corrie lied. She was protecting the innocent.

But the truth is that it is not compassionate to break the words of God and encourage others to keep habitually sinning. They are not the innocent. They need the compassion of the Church to bring them to repentance, forgiveness and transformation. Moreover, advocating for those who insist on engaging in habitual unrepentant sin is also damaging to the one who advocates. I believe we all must be molded by God’s word.

I am sure I will not have answered your question, but those are my rambling thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Alan,

Perhaps you are confused because you are looking at things from the point of view of the ruling clergy.

I am looking at things from the point of view of a pew sitter who is being told by strangers in some other state that the pastor of our choice for our church is forbidden, not because he lacks credentials, or is a thief or a sexual predator, but because in the eyes of some, by virtue of the fact that he is a homosexual, he is not holy enough.

(hypothetically speaking)

Ordination is a human institution. I don't think it should be treated like a sacrament or a stamp of holiness.

I think perhaps we should look at the American Psychological Association for a model. They do not resort to sin language, but they have very rigorous ethical standards designed to protect their clients from abusive therapists.

I think that is what ordination should be concerned with: Meeting academic/educational standards and signing up to a code of ethics that protects congregations from injury.

It would be plenty connectional.

Tom
KC

Viola Larson said...

Tom,
You are getting way off of the subject. And this, “I think that is what ordination should be concerned with: Meeting academic/educational standards and signing up to a code of ethics that protects congregations from injury." with this, "I think perhaps we should look at the American Psychological Association for a model. They do not resort to sin language, but they have very rigorous ethical standards designed to protect their clients from abusive therapists." sounds like you are not really talking about the Church of Jesus Christ but a kind of social club.

Ministers are called to preach the word of God and offer the sacraments. That is a calling that does not come with a clause that says its okay to practice habitual sin while serving.

Clay Allard said...

Viola--
You wrote, Clay I would like to see you enlarge on this, "We have a magnificent opportunity to witness to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ if we can find a way to keep Christ in the center of progressives and evangelicals." And please say exactly what you mean.
I answered, http://rightsidetrinity.blogspot.com/2009/05/magnificent-opportunity.html

Welcome home!

Clay Allard
Dallas, Texas

Viola Larson said...

Clay,
I am going to answer your response on my blog as well as here. I am bothered by the direction you are taking. Let me explain. And ask some more questions.

Are you equating the problems that led to the civil rights movement, which is racism, with the difficulties in the Church surrounding the disagreements over ordaining practicing homosexuals?

And if so, do you equate those Christians who believe it is unbiblical to ordain practicing homosexuals with those people who were racists. If you do make that equation, you are in a different place than I am and you are not hearing what I am saying. And, if you are not making that equation than you need a different analogy.

I know that you want there to be unity in the Church and I applaud your wish. But there is more than unity at stake, there is also upholding the Lordship of Jesus Christ and also faithfulness to the authority of Scripture. And after all unity is only formed when there is obedience to Jesus Christ and his word, where he is Lord.

Let me say (write) that I believe that we must all love those we disagree with, that is a given. Failing to love and care for anyone is unchristian. But there is more to be said than that.

Whenever I read what you have been writing lately, and it is always about getting along with each other, I start thinking about the C.S. Lewis Narnia story The Silver Chair. The Marsh Wiggle is one of my favorite characters. When the witch in the story tries to overcome the children and the Marsh Wiggle with her magic powder, soothing music, and quiet seducing voice the Marsh Wiggle steps his foot into the fire so the smell of burnt Marsh Wiggle will wake them all up. It is painful but it works.

You write, “What if we trusted one another because we trusted Christ, not because it was logical or easy?”

That statement is a real problem. We do not trust others as we trust Jesus Christ; we should not trust others just because we trust Jesus Christ. We should trust others because of the integrity they show, and part of that integrity is their faithfulness to Jesus Christ.

During the Nazi years Bonheoffer wrote,” Trust will always be one of the greatest, rarest, and happiest blessings of our life in community, though it can emerge only on the dark background of a necessary mistrust. We have learnt never to trust a scoundrel an inch, but to give ourselves to the trustworthy without reserve.” I think this quote is right. We must love, care, hope and reach out to others. This is our calling, but we must also be faithful to His Lordship. And sometimes that means we dare not trust. We dare not agree. We must admonish and call for repentance both for ourselves and for others.

This part that you have written I agree with, “Look at the face of the person who is speaking ill of you and love them as Christ loves them; don't water down what you believe, but speak it in love, and expect to learn something from what you hear in return. In humility, regard the person who disagrees with you as better than yourself.” But I can only regard the other person, any other person, as better than myself because Jesus Christ is my only righteousness. I am a sinner but his grace has covered me. So I must also pray, hope, proclaim that his grace will lead the sinner away from her sinfulness even if that offends. Even if that means the world will be offended. Even if that means the unity within the Church seems to be torn asunder, although truly the unity of Christ true body is always there.

Clay Allard said...

Viola,
The difference between your writing about Civil Rights and what I am saying is the difference between third-person voice and first-person voice.

I'm not writing about abstractions-- I'm talking about the fear/hate/anger that divides individuals. Fear/hate/anger are not abstractions-- they are real violence. What motivates them may be different, but the result is the same. The tension in Dallas, in our neighborhood, was real. This people at OCPC lowered that tension, and found out that there was common ground between those who outside these walls were 9and stil are) screaming at each other. That common ground is IN CHRIST, yes-- and trust in Christ forced those who would shout to become those who would listen. How do you know that that ground does not exist now in our present tension? How will we ever know unless we can lower that tension?

You are concerned with ends; I'm concerned with means. I am as concerned with HOW we do what we do as I am with WHAT we do. That is all that I have been saying. I CAN speak TRUTH in LOVE-- it can be done! Means determine ends-- violent means, even used to reach good ends, will in the end pervert the good they mean to achieve.

As Frank Page so beautifully put it, "I'm against abortion; I'm just not angry about it." I'm suggesting that if we could not be as angry about what we stand for, we might find out that there IS enough ground to stand on, and wait for God to judge. I don't believe that that means I've caved; you may, but that's up to you.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Viola,

I wanted to get back to something you said which came across kind of condescending. I don’t think the American Psychological Association thinks of their codes of conduct as the rules of a “social club”. Their ethical standards are rigorously defined to protect the clients of their profession.

But perhaps it IS the social club aspect of the church that wants to put a sign on the door that says “no gays allowed”.

In your last paragraph you state that ministers should not be allowed to practice habitual sin while serving. It suggests either that ministers should be sinless and holy, or that they should wear a mantle of holiness, a mask if you will, like an actor on a stage, while performing their ministerial functions.

I don’t think either is consistent with reformed theology.

Jesus opposed wearing stage masks for preaching the word, and there is nothing in reformed theology that says that a minister is not a practitioner of habitual sin while serving. We are all practitioners of habitual sin while serving. Without exception.

Later, in your comments to Clay you bristled at the possibility that he might be calling you the equivalent of a racist for comparing the opposition to civil rights to the opposition of gay ordination. But then you quoted Bonhoeffer with the preface “During the Nazi years Bonheoffer wrote…”

Do you mean to suggest that those who support the ordination of gay ministers are in any way like the Nazis???

That kind of language can only sow discord and dissent. We need to diffuse the emotional baggage in this debate. Clay was not calling you a racist, and you should not allow yourself the temptation to compare those who favor gay ordination with Nazis.

I think Clay is on much more solid ground when he said:

“I am as concerned with HOW we do what we do as I am with WHAT we do. That is all that I have been saying. I CAN speak TRUTH in LOVE-- it can be done! Means determine ends-- violent means, even used to reach good ends, will in the end pervert the good they mean to achieve.”

Amen to that.

Jesus was very clear in his admonitions that in our zeal to keep God's laws we not forget what and for whom the laws were written.

Tom
KC

Viola Larson said...

Clay,
I am not writing about abstractions either. I understand that your Church experienced tensions and more because of the civil rights movement, and that is good because people who did not want to go to Church with someone of a different ethnicity needed to change. There are plenty of Scriptural references that insist that we are one in Christ.

However, I believe you are writing about apples and oranges and I also believe that your analogy is a poor one for at least two reasons. First, if all of those in the Church had not at some point agreed that all ethnic groups should be members as well as leaders in your Church it would have stayed a racist Church. Second the sin of practicing homosexual sex is not the same as being of a different ethnic group. One is a sin the other certainly is not.

This is not to say that we should not be loving and kind to those who push for the ordination of practicing homosexuals. But it is to say that it isn’t a problem of unity between the two sides but rather it is a problem of obedience or disobedience. We cannot be in unity if one side’s view of the authority of Scripture is less than biblical or their view of the Lordship of Christ is faulty.

And the fact of the matter is no matter who is right or wrong on this and several other issues such as Christology the divide between us within the PCUSA is very great and one can only call for kindness and civility between the two sides. But in my mind to call for unity is to call for compromise. That is why I asked you to say what you meant by your original statement.

“We have a magnificent opportunity to witness to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ if we can find a way to keep Christ in the center of progressives and evangelicals.” How do you keep Christ in the midst of two groups who often do not share the same view of Jesus Christ or his word?

And even if we did how would that view of Jesus Christ be a witness to anybody? It isn’t about unity with progressives it is rather about loving others no matter what.

Viola Larson said...

Tom,

Perhaps I should have said unrepentant sexual sin such as a pastor committing adultery who still insisted on being a pastor.

I did not call anyone a Nazi. Perhaps you should read the quote again.

Clay Allard said...

Viola--
You are the one talking about unity. I have not. OCPC was not unified for a long time; a sort of quiet truce held. Two different groups held different views of what the future of the whole would be, and they struggled to wait to see what would unfold-- that took 30 years. And both sides turned out to be wrong.

I am not advocating for unity-- I am advocating for a cessation of open hostilities. We keep Christ in our center, we stand in the center, then Christ stands in the center with us. We do not trade evil for evil, we trust the God of history, and we preach the Gospel. Let the progressive preach as eloquently and as forcefully as he/she can. To trust the God of history is to trust that God is not mocked-- what you sow, that you shall reap.

There is no discipline in this Body. To sit in the mud and demand it is to demand that God change the course of history. We are where we are, and there is no persuasion possible across this divide.

OCPC's witness for 30 years was simply a willingness to stay-- certainly not united, but not openly hostile, either. What would have happened if, as this culture divided 150 years ago, the churches had not? Not that they would have agreed with one another, or that the division was not real in their midst-- but that they refused to allow open hostilities between Northern and Southern Christians. You say "one can only call for kindness and civility between the two sides" as if that is not something difficult, significant, or counter-cultural. I would hold that it is all of these, and more. It is all that I am calling for.

Yes, that's idealistic, but who are we if we are not a people who strive to be our utmost for Christ's highest? That I will fail, I count as a given. I'm told to speak, I'm not told that anyone will have ears to hear.

Viola Larson said...

Clay,
I do agree that it is "difficult, significant, [and] counter-cultural." And also our only option--and that is not to say that there might come a time when the split will be complete--but hopefully there will instead be renewal. Thanks for dialoguing with me.