Monday, December 7, 2009

Jesus, the coming King



If we listen and agree we shall be deceived, and if we follow we shall fall into hell. As we sat around the tables at our Presbytery meeting talking about what might be a center that the whole Presbytery could agree to, I could only think of our great divide. And in words placed on the Witherspoon Society’s site by their web master I know that the chasm is a spiritual one as wide as eternal death is from everlasting life. It can only be healed if God reaches out in redemption. Picture by Penny Juncker

The words I saw were written by John Shuck a Presbyterian (U.S.A.) pastor in Tennessee. The words are a part of an advent meditation that Doug King saw as “thoughtful” and so posted them on the Witherspoon site. The words:

“What might it mean for Jesus to return? The return of Jesus is a powerful symbol of finding rest, peace, justice, and balance in our personal lives and in our interconnectedness with earth. To sing, ‘come thou long expected Jesus’ is to sing with the expectation of fulfillment for balance and peace.”

The writer of those words, Shuck, goes on to suggest that the kind of return he is writing about will happen if we are willing to give birth, if we we are open to the creativity of “the universe.” Furthermore the kind of anticipation we are to have is “an anticipation” of “an expansion of our consciousness or awareness.”

I am writing about this because I do not understand the outlook of those who search for a central focus which ignores the very heart of the gospel, that is, that Jesus died for sinners. Why are some holding on to an expectation that our center as a denomination or a Presbytery will hold around the building of clothes closests or homeless shelters, while they fail to hold dear the Lord Jesus Christ and the hope of his personal coming.

It seems that for some, such new age theology, equates with the same theology that insists on the ordination of unrepentant homosexuals. And such an impersonal understanding of Jesus just might very well be the only proper way of connecting him to those who wish to allow sin free reign. With such meaning we can throw away the transforming power of Jesus. We can forget to look for him. Forget advent.

As Yeats wrote, the center does not hold. And surely “some rough beast” moves among our shadowed churches wishing to be born in place of the King of Kings.

The truth is the Lord Jesus Christ is returning. He was King, he is King and he will be King forever. We celebrate now the Incarnation, the birth of the eternal Son into our world. That is the Christmas story. But it is so much more. He is the God who lived with us and died for us. He is the God who rose to give us new life.

But it is still more. He is the eternal Son forever fully God and fully human. We are united to him in his resurrection. We are fed and nourished by the Lord of heaven. Nothing can ever separate us from him. He is the coming King who has set up his everlasting Kingdom.

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. “ (John 1:14)



113 comments:

Kattie W. Coon said...

"It seems that for some, such new age theology, equates with the same theology that insists on the ordination of unrepentant homosexuals."

I don't know anyone claiming to be a Christian who believes that ordination should be recognized for ANYONE who doesn't repent, let alone INSISTING that unrepentant sinners' ordination be recognized. I believe you are making up a straw man here.

"And such an impersonal understanding of Jesus just might very well be the only proper way of connecting him to those who wish to allow sin free reign."

That could very well be true. Now, who are those you know who "wish to allow sin free reign"? Knocking down straw men Viola? I know no one, claiming to be Christian, who would fall into that category.

Kattie,
Huntsville, Al

John Shuck said...

I liked that song by Michael W. Smith. What movie was that from?

JS
Elizabethton, TN

John said...

I just wrote the following in Coffee Break 96 and you can find links to the sources I mention at that post.

Presbyterian blogger John Shuck wrote a beautiful Advent message for his church newsletter. Clearly, Presbyterian blogger Viola Larson doesn't think so as her latest post makes clear. John finds the criticism childish. I think there is plenty of common ground the two can walk on together if they choose to find it.

The common ground of all spirituality is found in the Perennial Philosophy which is summarized well by Aldous Huxley in an introduction he wrote for a translation of The Bhagavid-Gita about 70 years ago. He wrote an excellent anthology called The Perennial Philosophy.

Alan Watts said that all of our religions offer the Perennial Philosophy but imperfectly and incompletely. We can often find what we are missing by seeking the wisdom of other traditions. In Myth and Ritual in Christianity, he writes in a comprehensive and appealing manner that the Catholic Christianity of the Middle Ages came close to capturing the essence of the Perennial Philosophy.

I believe strongly that all of our wisdom traditions (as Huston Smith likes to call them) have found the amazing grace God offers humanity. We use different symbols and stories to express our beliefs and values but there is an underlying unity. Two websites I have found express this beautifully: Peter Russel's THE CHURCH OF I AM and Gary L. Beckwith's THE TEN TEACHINGS OF ALL RELIGIONS.

The Charter for Compassion is a huge effort to find common ground recently begun due to the dedication of Karen Armstrong, a renowned scholar of religion.

+ Love + John A Wilde + Whitesboro NY + The John A Wilde Blog + We are intimately, intricately and infinitely connected by a matrix of unconditional, unlimited and uniting love which is miraculous, mysterious and marvelous.

Paula Hoover said...

Thank you Viola, for standing for the truth.

Anonymous said...

Yep...I'd go completely mad dearest Viola.

Velvel

Jodie said...

John S,

That would be from the 1999 Roger Young movie "Jesus" starring Jeremy Sisto as Jesus.

Other John,

The difference between what God did in Jesus and what the other religions try to show about God is that while they try to show how humanity can be more spiritual, Jesus showed God becoming more physical. Christianity is not about the spirituality of the human race, but about the physicality of God.

A God who so loves the physical universe that he chooses to become part of it.

Viola,

It is interesting that your definition of "the gospel" is not the one Jesus used or taught.

If you were really a disciple of Jesus, I would think you would rather choose something closer to His own definition.

Nice touch with the Portuguese sub-titles though.

John Shuck said...

Thanks John, I am good for common ground. I think there is a great deal of common ground.

That does include clothes closets and homeless shelters.

I think 99% of the things churches do all along the theological spectrum are things we do in common.

We break bread. We clothe the naked. Feed the hungry. Visit the sick. We share holy words as the song suggested. We use common symbols of faith (even as we are diverse in their interpretation and application). We seek to communicate and do what is good, sacred, and holy.

Faith, hope, and love abide...

Blessed Advent,
JS
E-ton

John said...

To Jodie:
I agree that the physical incarnation of God is a powerful insight of Christianity. However, I don't find other wisdom traditions ignoring this insight. Indeed, Hinduism and Buddhism and Sufism teach us a lot about physical incarnation of divinity. Many Christians have spent all too much energy over the past 20 centuries denying the body.

I really think we need to stop playing the childish and very dangerous game of "My Religion is Better Than Your Religion." Check out the links I have offered at Coffee Break 96.

To John S:
Amen!

love,
john,
Whitesboro NY
We are intimately, intricately and infinitely connected by a matrix of unconditional, unlimited and uniting love which is miraculous, mysterious and marvelous.
Amen.

Debbie said...

Kattie, you and Viola are in a sense talking past each other. It may well be true that no one claiming to be a Christian believes that ordination should be recognized for anyone who doesn't repent--at least, in their definition of what sin and repentance are. The problem is that the peole who want ordination for practicing GLBT people, on the one hand, and Viola and I and others, on the other hand, have two different definitions of sin and repentance and Biblical authority. So we can all say, "Everyone who is ordained must repent of all their sins" and we can all say "I believe in the authority of the Bible", but we mean different things when we say those things.

And that is why I think that overture several years back was correct that we have irreconcilable differences between two groups (or more, perhaps) in the PCUSA, which is basically what one of the points in Viola's blog is.

And I am sure that we are all people of good will, wanting what is best, but we have different ideas of God, of sin, of spirituality, of the Holy Spirit, etc., etc., and we will not agree, even on little details like whether or not unrepentant sinners want to be ordained, because our whole basic idea of what Christianity is is so fundamentally different.

Viola Larson said...

I am sorry not to have responded sooner but I couldn’t let go the jobs I needed doing. But in a way I am glad I waited. It seems to me that the divide is very clear in the comments.

Kattie what Debbie said is a sufficient answer. There is a disagreement on the authority of Scripture that divides us on the issue of the ordination of homosexuals. But my posting is so much more than that. It is about who Jesus Christ is.

Viola Larson said...

John W.,
In looking for your common ground you have used all Eastern, including Huston Smith, outlooks. Huston Smiths weds Christianity to a smorgasbord of other religions putting an eastern slant on all. By that I mean God is a part of all things, we reach God by different manifestations of the divine, all religions are a manifestation of God’s revelation, etc., etc. I could go to so many of our Confessions which you are treading on. But since I write on Barmen and just used it in our last Presbytery meeting and my last posting, and because it is filled with Scripture let me refer to this:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6), “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.... I am the door; of anyone enters by me, he will be saved.” (John 10:1, 9.)

Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and death.

We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God’s revelation. (8.10–8.12)"


How do you as a pastor or any other leader of the PCUSA get past those words and those verses?

Our proclamation is to be of who Jesus Christ is and what he has accomplished for us. And that is to come from the Holy Scripture. As far as our Christian faith is concerned neither you or John S. have anything in common with me because we do not have a common Lord.

Viola Larson,
Sacramento Ca

John Shuck said...

My second ever blog post was about a similar thing. I wrote there:

Regardless how we interpret it, many Christians do not believe or think they should believe that the resurrection was an historical event. On the other hand, many Christians think that the resurrection was an historical event. As far as I am concerned, both types of Christians can co-exist and celebrate life together in worship.

Some folks disagree with me not only on my view of resurrection but on whether or not different views can co-exist in church.

Because I do think we can co-exist (and in fact do and have done so for a long time) I have no energy, incentive, or even desire to say we have "irreconcilable differences."

I see it as a matter of growth and change. People change their views. Different views appeal to different people.

No one is forced to read or appreciate my Advent meditation. If you don't like it, write a better one.

All the fuss about PCUSA ministers not having the right views is nothing more than fuss. We aren't going anywhere. We like it here.

There are so many things we do have in common. You are welcome to join us in those common projects or not.

Blessings,
JS
E-ton

Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Shuck said...

Marcus Borg in his book, Heart of Christianity speaks about two ways of viewing the tradition.

His preface is especially good. You can read it here on Google books.

Viola Larson said...

Interesting John,

I went and read the preface to Marcus Borg’s book. I also read part of his chapter on Jesus. I am sure he must be a nice man after all he is a friend of N.T. Wright-but he is so off the way he puts things.

He keeps saying that in this modern or postmodern world with all of its diversity and pluralism people can’t accept the biblical account of Jesus. How could Jesus be the only way if there are so many other religions? Now I am sure that Borg is a good scholar but doesn’t he know that Jesus was born into a diverse world and that you could worship almost any god you wanted to as long as you gave your pinch of incense to the Emperor and said he was a lord.

But that’s the problem, then and now. And it must have been much harder for Roman Christians because of the pluralism of their day. Didn’t some of them end up in Nero’s garden and in other coliseums around the empire because they believed that Jesus was the only way-the only Lord?

Of course, in other countries it is still hard. Think about places like North Korea and some of the Arab countries. It’s funny they don’t join Borg and you and John W. and say it just doesn’t matter.

There is no center and nothing that holds us together as Christians where Jesus Christ, as he is found in scripture, is not recognized as the one Lord.

Viola Larson
Sacramento, Ca

John Shuck said...

Didn’t some of them end up in Nero’s garden and in other coliseums around the empire because they believed that Jesus was the only way-the only Lord?

Yes, they proclaimed Jesus as Lord meaning Caesar was not Lord. That'll get you killed. Nor did they join the Empire's military.

Of course, in other countries it is still hard. Think about places like North Korea and some of the Arab countries. It’s funny they don’t join Borg and you and John W. and say it just doesn’t matter.

Or the United States. Proclaiming Jesus as Lord isn't about religious superstition. It isn't about gods flying off to heaven and returning on clouds. It isn't about confusing metaphors, legends, and religious symbols with events. It is about refusing to cooperate with Empire's abuse of humanity and its injustices.

reformedpastor said...

Proclaiming Jesus as Lord isn't about religious superstition....It is about refusing to cooperate with Empire's abuse of humanity and its injustices.

Which you can do just as well through political activism, without being encumbered with all this Jesus nonsense. Why not just cut out the middleman?

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

John Shuck said...

That is not a bad question. Many people do. Others reject art, music, literature as superfluous.

I happen to think the wisdom traditions are quite inspirational.

Who are you to tell me what I can do "just as well as?"

You could do just as well to worship Mars. Why bother with Jesus if you want a war god?

Viola Larson said...

Yes John,
Caesar was not Lord- but you can't change it to say that the early Christian's testimony that Jesus was Lord meant he wasn't. That is double speak. Their testimony was about Jesus so was their stance, so was their death.

You are right about this:"Proclaiming Jesus as Lord isn't about religious superstition. It isn't about gods flying off to heaven and returning on clouds."

Rather saying Jesus is Lord is about acknowledging that Jesus Christ is the God- the one who owns you and has a right to your life in the face of whatever comes. Jesus is returning as the great King as well as the one who died for our sins.

Kattie W. Coon said...

"There is a disagreement on the authority of Scripture that divides us on the issue of the ordination of homosexuals."

Viola, I believe that is an overly simplistic and naive statement. I, for instance, am a Calvinist and have a very high regard for the authority of Scripture, and suspect that mine is quite comparable to yours in principle. I also have a great respect for our Confessions and, in particular, find the Westminster Confession highly instructive. We come to a different conclusion on basically one issue of Scriptural interpretation that I know of (although I wouldn’t doubt there are others), and that has to do with the status of faithful, non-celibate Homosexuals in the Church. I don’t believe that the Scriptures condemn all forms of same gender sexual activity, and they certainly don’t attempt to describe the kinds of relationships I’ve been led to conclude are non sinful.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

John Shuck said...

Caesar was not Lord- but you can't change it to say that the early Christian's testimony that Jesus was Lord meant he wasn't. That is double speak. Their testimony was about Jesus so was their stance, so was their death.

I am not changing anything. Early Christians used the language of Empire to turn it upside down. Paul becomes a "slave" to Christ in a world in which the economy was based on slavery.

Jesus announces a new kingdom in the midst of Caesar's kingdom. Jesus is the new emperor as opposed to old emperor. The scandal is not that Jesus was "son of god." There were many sons of gods including Caesar. The scandal was that JESUS was son of god. What would the world be like if the values of Jesus were followed rather than the values of Caesar?

Rather saying Jesus is Lord is about acknowledging that Jesus Christ is the God- the one who owns you and has a right to your life in the face of whatever comes. Jesus is returning as the great King as well as the one who died for our sins.

I affirm that. I said as much in my Advent meditation. So what is the big deal?

I feel for Kattie. Don't put my theology on her or paint her with my brush.

Here is the issue, Viola. It always comes back to this. Do you affirm what science is showing us about the age of the universe (14 billion years or so) and the age of Earth (4 billion years) and the evolution of life on Earth including human beings?

John said...

Fascinating conversation. Thanks.

I am a fan of the Bible and the Barmen Declaration and I see nothing in my way of thinking which contradicts the great truths found there. Jesus indeed says "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through me." The key to understanding this great passage is to appreciate the meaning of I AM which is heard by all the sages of the ages including Moses at The Burning Bush.

We definitely do need to embrace that way. The Perennial Philosophy, embodied in Jesus and other sages of the ages is definitely the Way, the Truth and the Life. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. Not my ego but the real me, the true self. This is the great wisdom Jesus taught us: to find witin ourselves the Light, the Power, the Love. We are connected to the Way. It is fantastic. It is wonderful.

God is at work in all kinds of ways but ultimately there is only one way, the way of love. Jesus got it but he is not the only one. We must all work to show people that the way of idolatry -- such as nationalism and denominationalism and sexism and racism and militarism and plutocracy and so many other false paths -- is false.

Jesus did not come into the world to offer us Jesus-olatry and Bible-olatry. Instead he came to offer us the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Check outPeter Russel's THE CHURCH OF I AM and Gary L. Beckwith's THE TEN TEACHINGS OF ALL RELIGIONS.

I invite you to affirm the Charter for Compassion as I have and over 27,000 others. It is an effort led by Karen Armstrong to overcome the hostility between the religions of the planet which is so dangerous. We simply must stop playing the dangerous game of My Religion Is Better Than Your Religion.

+ Love + John A Wilde + Whitesboro NY + The John A Wilde Blog + We are intimately, intricately and infinitely connected by a matrix of unconditional, unlimited and uniting love which is miraculous, mysterious and marvelous.

John Mc said...

I find Viola's blog to be rooted in Atonement Theology, which is the belief that God sent his only son (Jesus) to earth to atone for the sins of all humankind. That Jesus' death fulfilled the necessary and perfect sacrifice. Thus Jesus is the lamb of God, the corollary of the pascal lamb in animal sacrifice to YWHW (Yahweh,the name given in the Hebrew bible to the god of Israel).

This theology is a heavy burden for the modern day church. It does not fit well with Jesus' Abba, or Dad (the familiar form of Father). Jesus' did not use violence. He did not lead a violent movement. He commanded that we love our neighbor, and he defined our neighbor very broadly (the good Samaritan).

If Atonement Theology works for you, then use it to reach the level of compassion that Jesus taught us.

For me, I have found a truer path to my Lord and Savior.

May the peace of Christ be with us all.

Kattie W. Coon said...

"Don't put my theology on her or paint her with my brush."

Thanks John.

Usually, around here, I feel like I'm being fitted for a mill stone. I've never before personally experienced such prejudice and bigotry, and what makes it worse for me is that it comes from people who enjoy church leadership positions.

As I experience it, it's (the mill stone fitting) really ALL about just one issue. What helps keep my faith strong though, in spite of it all, is the knowledge that I'm not alone, not by a long shot.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

John Shuck said...

As I experience it, it's (the mill stone fitting) really ALL about just one issue.

Bingo. Mark Achtemeier and I are probably as far apart theologically as Viola and I are.
Although I do like that Mark is changing his mind on LGBT issues.

While I would love to have a chat with you someday, Kattie, about theology and what not, my guess is that you and I come from different places as well.

But when it comes The Gay, everyone who thinks they ought not to be discriminated against regarding ordination and marriage are pagan witchdoctors like Shuck. : )

C'mon, Vi, in regards to heresy, Kattie and Mark ain't got nothin' on me!

John Wilde on the other hand... : )

John Shuck
Elizabethton, TN

Viola Larson said...

John,
None of this is funny. I am preparing to leave for a CPM meeting so I can't spend a lot of time here till the afternoon.

Mark in his faith is a Christian- I think he is listening too much to human experience and the culture around us. On the other hand since you do not believe that Jesus is God, or in the bodily resurrection of Jesus or the physical return of Jesus or the atoning work of Christ, etc. I don't believe you even know Jesus so ...

Kattie on the other hand I have never heard talk about Jesus Christ and her love for him, etc. only about homosexuality so I can't really say anything.

I want to address John Mc's thoughts on the atonement but that can wait until I return today.

Viola Larson
Sacramento, Ca

Viola Larson said...

I forgot to say this posting is also not a discussion about millstones or Mark so don't head it that direction. It is about who Jesus Christ is.

John Shuck said...

On the other hand since you do not believe that Jesus is God, or in the bodily resurrection of Jesus or the physical return of Jesus or the atoning work of Christ, etc. I don't believe you even know Jesus so ...

I may not believe it literally, but I be-love it metaphorically!

I know Jesus. Do you know Jesus? I didn't think so.

I have open with you. Now what about my questions regarding the universe?

John Shuck
Elizabethton, TN

Kattie W. Coon said...

"Kattie on the other hand I have never heard talk about Jesus Christ and her love for him, etc. only about homosexuality so I can't really say anything."

And that's the blindness and self imposed barrier that prejudice and bigotry brings on. Viola, you're just not paying close enough attention, or are unwilling to take what I say to the same logical conclusion that you would the same statement made by someone who agrees with you on GLBT issues. It’s truly painful to observe.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Jodie said...

John Mc said:

"I find Viola's blog to be rooted in Atonement Theology, which is the belief that God sent his only son (Jesus) to earth to atone for the sins of all humankind."

There is an element of that to be sure. Atonement theology as Viola declares it is a medieval invention that snuck in Protestantism during the Reformation. I wouldn't object to it except when I see how it allows for the prejudice and bigotry Kattie talks about.

By focusing on the death of Jesus instead of his message, it allows a person to call themselves a Christian without ever becoming a disciple of Jesus.

But Jesus never taught atonement theology. That was never part of his message.

He did preach against bibliolatry and the loveless bible thumping of the Pharisees.

Both of these doctrines are based on things that are true, as good lies are. It's the issue of the Gay that has exposed them as lies, however. The doctrine of the Atonement is not the Gospel. None of the various doctrines of atonement are. The Scriptures are not the Gospel. And the living Jesus is not enslaved to the Scriptures or the various interpretations of the Scriptures. You don't have to be able to read at all in order to be a disciple of Jesus.

But it is quite easy to show in Scripture that if you are a hair splitting legalistic bigot, then you are not a disciple of Jesus.

You might be a Christian, you might be a minister or elder in the Presbyterian church, you can certainly be a Fundamentalist right winger, you can even be a Republican, but you are not a disciple.

Both from the point of view of intellectual integrity and from the perspective of letting Jesus BE Lord, there is no valid interpretation of Scripture and no valid doctrine that gives quarter to prejudice and bigotry.

Pastor Bob said...

John S.

Going WAY back to your comment about history; it all depends on how you define the word history.

If history means "I believe something happened in time and space" then the resurrection can be a historical event.

If you are a historicist and you believe that miracles can't happen then the resurrection cannot have happened. (Notice the circular logic here)

If you are a historian (as compared to a believer in historicism) you look at all the evidence. Miracles (here defined as events that are unusual and don't tend to have what we would see as a natural cause) then you will hold the event to needing a higher degree if evidence.

Personally I think Christians don't believe in the resurrection because there is sufficient historical evidence. Christians believe in the resurrection because the resurrected Jesus has confronted us. However I do think there is some historical evidence for the resurrection.

John Shuck said...

@Bob

Christians believe in the resurrection because the resurrected Jesus has confronted us.

Yeah, baby.

I affirm what you say about historicism vs. history.

I am less inclined to trust the gospel authors in regards to their accuracy in reporting events.

I look at these stories and wonder about them and am likely to think they are more like miracle stories not that unlike other miracle stories (including some about Jesus that didn't make it into the Bible) as opposed to accounts of an event. But to say that does not mean up front that miracles can't happen.

Debbie said...

John Shuck, how do you know Jesus if you believe he's dead?

Kattie, you say "I've never before personally experienced such prejudice and bigotry, and what makes it worse for me is that it comes from people who enjoy church leadership positions." And yet I see none of that here coming from Viola and others who believe like that. Once again I believe this is indicative of using the same words and meaning different things by them. Or else you mean that merely holding the views that we hold is bigotry, which is my nephew's position (all orthodox Christians are automatically bigots, in his estimation), and in that case, that's just plain unfair.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

John said...

In this series of comments ...

Viola wrote: “As far as our Christian faith is concerned neither you or John S. have anything in common with me because we do not have a common Lord.”

John S. wrote: (to Viola) “I know Jesus. Do you know Jesus? I didn't think so.”

+++

Oh dear!

I refuse to give up on finding common ground. The center we all cherish is simply LOVE. God is Love. I believe that Viola and John are both people made in the likeness of God with a great capacity to be loving and be loved. You are both fantastic human beings.

We are all doing the best we can "working on a mystery" as Tom Petty puts it.

I have to admit that I am uncomfortable with the "Jesus is Lord" language since so many people use it to exclude and reject. However, I'm willing to use that language if and when I get the opportunity to affirm all that it means. I am definitely a follower of the One who taught his followers to Love One Another, to forgive 70 times 7, to feed the hungry, to set prisoners free, to eat with outcasts, to be a partner in creating the rule of God on earth as it is in heaven.

Let's not decide who is of Christ and who isn't. That's not our job. Humility and Love is so missing in that kind of judging and excluding.

+ Love + John A Wilde + Whitesboro NY + The John A Wilde Blog + We are intimately, intricately and infinitely connected by a matrix of unconditional, unlimited and uniting love which is miraculous, mysterious and marvelous.

John Shuck said...

John W.,

It was a joke. If Viola can dish it she can take it. 'Knowing' Jesus is not language I use anyway.

Kattie W. Coon said...

"Once again I believe this is indicative of using the same words and meaning different things by them."

Debbie, what words are you referring to? If I knew what you were referring to, I could respond.

"Or else you mean that merely holding the views that we hold is bigotry, which is my nephew's position (all orthodox Christians are automatically bigots, in his estimation), and in that case, that's just plain unfair."

Uh... or else a myriad other possibilities. I won't bite on your overly simplistic analysis. So who's actually being unfair?

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Dave Moody said...

I feel like I'm standing at the bus stop in the opening paragraphs of Lewis' "Great Divorce."

Dave Moody
S, IL

Viola Larson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Viola Larson said...

John Mc,
First, leave your full name and address. I think I know who you are but I might be wrong.

And yes my blog and faith is rooted in atonement theology.

But I need to address your statement that atonement theology does not fit well with Jesus Abba, or Dad. You go on to speak of Jesus not using violence and Jesus’ command to love our neighbor.

So I will take some leaps here because you are not completely clear about what you are inferring. I would suppose you are suggesting that if God is love then there could not be a requirement or a necessity for the atonement. But rooted in God’s love is his holiness, justice, etc. Remember it was God the Son dying on the cross. The Godhead is one as well as three, -I am not sure if you are implying child abuse if the Father sends the Son to die on the cross-or not. But always remember it was God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit who planned before the foundation of the earth for the incarnate Son to die on the cross for the sins of humanity. That is the ultimate picture of God’s love for his creation.

Throw that away and you have thrown everything overboard.

If you would like a more complete statement of what I believe about the atonement-go here, http://www.naminggrace.org/id61.htm it is an old paper but it will be reprinted in a Baptist (gasp) Seminary Journal this winter sometime.

But my important point here is that God’s holiness demanded justice, God’s love provided it. And do not split the Trinity apart when you think of the death of Christ.

“But Jesus called them to himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.’ (Matthew 20: 25-28)”

“He gave it to them and said, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sin.’ (Matthew 26:27b-28)”

See 1 John1-1-2:2 – etc., etc., etc.
Viola Larson
Sacramento, Ca

Anonymous said...

Viola

John Mc is not me, though I have never been a fan of atonement. Doctrines and creeds are purely speculative tracts written by men, yes mostly old white men, with too much time on their hands. They are historical documents only, of what one group believed at a given time. I cannot, with any integrity, say yes to the third ordination question, regarding our confessions as authentic and reliable expositions of what scripture leads us to believe. I wonder how so many can.

John McNeese
Ponca City, OK

Viola Larson said...

Dave I agree with you-and have spent the last hour looking for my copy so I could reread it but I can't find it. But thanks for the thought.

Pastor Bob said...

John Mc

The third ordination question asks us to affirm the essential tenets as expressed in the confessions etc. And since, according to the GAPJC a presbytery cannot say ahead of time what the essential tenets (only during an ordination trial) I'm not sure what you are objecting to.

Bob Campbell
Sharon Hill, PA

Anonymous said...

Bob

On rereading the question, it does give you guys some wiggle room. As for me, the confessions are not reliable or authentic expositions of what scripture leads me to believe. I’m sure most elders and deacons don’t have clue to what they are affirming.

John McNeese
Ponca City, OK

Pastor Bob said...

John Mc

That's why I'm going to have new officers' classes in January to teach not only what their duties are but also what they affirm when they say I do and I will after question 3. We will spend at least one session on the confessions.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Bob,

Only one session on the Confessions? How long are your sessions? We typically give about six hours on the Confessions to our incoming leader classes, and I think that's completely inadequate. We also periodically give a twelve week course on the Confessions, and even with that, far too many of our leaders don't, in my opinion, have an adequate knowledge of them. Sometimes I feel like yelling out “PROOVE IT” when our new leader class stands before us and affirms the questions. Oddly, mine is a moderate progressive voice in a very conservative congregation taught by conservative/evangelical pastors.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Pastor Bob said...

Katie

I agree with you entirely. But getting Northerners to sit still for even a 2 hour long class on the Confessions is like pulling teeth. So I emphasize the essential tenets, using Rogers' video. He takes the list of doctrines from G-2.0300 to .0500 as the essentials. He does say that it isn't the only possible list but that it's a good place to start.

I too have taught a class on the confessions and found that to be inadequate too. So we use the Apostles' Creed most of the time in worship, the Nicene Creed on communion Sundays and sometimes I toss in other parts of the confessions. This past summer I had people confess parts of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Maybe we should go back to having people memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism or do like they do in the Netherlands - have catechumates study the Heidelberg Catechism with the pastor for 3 years. This would be good for the pastor too! (They also or used to have evening worship that included a sermon from the confessions. Of course they only have 2 confessions.)

We do what we can.

John Shuck said...

Hey Bob and Kattie,

I am all for lessons in history. It is good to know what folks in the 16th century believed about things. I am all in favor of being familiar with the confessions and with their historical setting.

However, we have progressed in thought since the 16th and 17th centuries. We face new and graver challenges.

Who is game for a new confession based on what we know from our 14 billion year cosmic history, our evolutionary history on Earth, the insights from the sciences, humanities, other wisdom traditions, and most critically, the issues that we face today-- including the greatest rate of species' extinction in 65 million years, the capacity we have through technology of eliminating human life on Earth (as well as other life forms), an three-fold increase in human population in one-half century (now 6.5 billion) the increasing imbalance between the wealthy and the poor, the fact that we are not living sustainably with Earth and its gifts, and the likelihood that civilization is headed for a major crash and that as we blindly and blithely go there we will facing resource wars.

Does the Presbyterian God have anything to say about that?

Shuck
Tennessee

Kattie W. Coon said...

"Who is game for a new confession based on what we know from our 14 billion year cosmic history,..."

John, I love it! Let's go for it. Just make sure we ask Viola at what point in the Confession we should declare the Lordship of Jesus Christ (as I believe we must). Apparently she thinks the writers of the Belhar Confession did it in the wrong place.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Debbie said...

Kattie, I was actually trying to be fair to you, not unfair. I was trying to figure out how you could see bigotry and prejudice where I saw merely differences of belief. I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, rather than doing something unkind such as saying you were mean-spirited or some other such stupid thing that some people have said in some places. So I posited two hypotheses:

1) the same words are used but with different meanings (I don't know the exact words because I don't know all the instances you're referring to where you say you see bigotry and prejudice)

2) like my nephew, you automatically categorize our beliefs as bigotry (and I protested that if that were true, it would be unfair)

If my hypotheses are wrong, then I have no idea how you see bigotry and prejudice from Viola, from me, or from other theologically orthodox (or evangelical, or theologically conservative) believers. It would be helpful if you could explain instead of merely charging us with bigotry, prejudice, and now also unfairness.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Kattie W. Coon said...

Debbie,

I will accept that you were trying to be fair. However, you did state your previous comment as an either-or hypothesis, not as two possibilities out of possibly many. I'm glad to see you are now stating that you may have no idea how I see bigotry and prejudice displayed on this blog. That is an honest statement that I can respect.

I personally have experienced prejudice first hand from Viola many times on this blog, and I usually call her out on it when it happens, although I don’t actually accuse her of prejudice, I usually say something like “you’re not paying attention”. You see, I believe prejudice causes a form of mental blindness, and that’s what I see here.

I don't know if she will ever acknowledge the fact that I am a theologically traditional, Orthodox, Reformed, Calvinist Presbyterian. This could easily be deduced from the many comments I have made on this blog over the past few years. But what Viola displays is this: "Kattie on the other hand I have never heard talk about Jesus Christ and her love for him, etc. only about homosexuality so I can't really say anything." Need I say more?

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Debbie said...

Thanks, Kattie. If Viola has appeared to be prejudiced, I know it is unintentional on her part.

As for your being theologically orthodox and traditional, then you believe that Jesus literally (and I do mean literally, not figuratively) rose from the dead? You accept that what the Scriptures actually have to say has more authority over us than our experiences do? You would obey Christ's commands in the Bible rather than go along with what current thinking seems to be tending towards?

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Kattie W. Coon said...

"You would obey Christ's commands in the Bible rather than go along with what current thinking seems to be tending towards?"

That's a rather vague question Debbie. Specifically what current thinking are you referring to that you believe goes against Christ's commands?

I will affirm Matthew 28 to be true in its major points, although there may have been some embellishment that is of little or no consequence.

By the way, you are further illustrating by point.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

John Shuck said...

Debbie,

You asked Kattie:

As for your being theologically orthodox and traditional, then you believe that Jesus literally (and I do mean literally, not figuratively) rose from the dead? You accept that what the Scriptures actually have to say has more authority over us than our experiences do? You would obey Christ's commands in the Bible rather than go along with what current thinking seems to be tending towards?

Those are good questions. I think we should be asking each other and ourselves what we mean when we use religious language and how literally we take it.

I am especially interested in the word "experience."

I have asked Viola a question. She hasn't replied yet. I would be thrilled to hear your responses and those of others as well.

Regardless of your answer, I won't report you to your presbytery.

1) Do you affirm what science is showing us about the age of the universe (current estimate--14 billion years or so) and the age of Earth (4 billion years) and the evolution of life on Earth including human beings?

2) Is scientific observation included in your understanding of experience?

3) Is what we know from art, ethics, literature, other faith traditions, our Christian walk, grief, joy, love, blogging, caring for a dying friend, reading the Bible, making creeds and faith statements, making decisions, making love, working at a clothes closet or a homeless shelter, living life all part of our experiences?

To show that I am forthcoming I will offer my answers to the questions you asked Kattie.

Everyone needs to know that I don't speak for Kattie!!

you believe that Jesus literally (and I do mean literally, not figuratively) rose from the dead?

Probably not. I don't think believing such makes one "orthodox" either, possibly just superstitious. To say Christ is risen or Jesus is Lord or Jesus lives is a faith claim expressed in metaphorical and poetic language. It is like saying Jesus lives in my heart or sits at the right hand of the Father. There is no body living in my heart or sitting "up there."

You accept that what the Scriptures actually have to say has more authority over us than our experiences do?

Depends what you mean by our experiences. I guess it also depends on what you mean by authority. If experiences means what we know from scientific experiment regarding the age of Earth for example, science has more authority than the Bible. If it means my subjective desire to hurt my enemy out of revenge rather than love her as Jesus says to then the Bible has more authority.

You would obey Christ's commands in the Bible rather than go along with what current thinking seems to be tending towards?

Yes.

Seriously, I think this is a helpful exercise. Your turn!

Viola Larson said...

John S.
Yes, as a matter of fact I do believe in a very old earth. Yet I don’t believe in evolution outside of species. But I don’t disrespect Christians who believe in a personal God but also believe in evolution.
Still, here is the problem. You use science and your ideas about it as a club to keep the Hound of heaven at bay. Many persons far more intelligent than you or I believe in a personal God, believe in the bodily resurrection and bodily return of Jesus Christ. They accept the authority of the scriptures and the redemption offered by Christ on the cross. I think your appeal to science and empirical thought is just a smoke screen.

And I hope you will understand but I won’t debate evolution with you on this posting. What bothers me most of all is that you made vows before God to uphold the Confessions of the Church, yet you don’t believe any of it. Isn’t there an integrity problem there?

John said...

Debbie wrote: As for your being theologically orthodox and traditional, then you believe that Jesus literally (and I do mean literally, not figuratively) rose from the dead? You accept that what the Scriptures actually have to say has more authority over us than our experiences do? You would obey Christ's commands in the Bible rather than go along with what current thinking seems to be tending towards?

+++

The idea that the Bible must be taken literally and every word in it received without any kind of appreciation of context and cultural conditioning strikes me as totally and completely absurd. I don't believe Orthodoxy has ever meant that.

Orthodoxy means that we are united in praise of the Holy and Mysterious. There is plenty of room for disagreement about many things. But we sing the same beautiful songs and claim an amazing heritage. Let's not rule that others are not part of this community of compassion.

Let's agree to disagree about many things inside a big tent. And we keep singing the same songs offered up to us by generations of believers who also had many disagreements.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Save us from our bitterness and rancor. Make us one in our quest for an ever expanding realm of abundance, joy, wisdom, beauty, love, truth, peace, justice and Freedom.

Breathe deeply. Breathe fully. Be still. Be silent. Be centered. Be grounded. Lighten up. Loosen up. Let go. Let God. Celebrate. Enjoy. Be glad all over!

+ Love + John A Wilde + Whitesboro NY + The John A Wilde Blog + We are intimately, intricately and infinitely connected by a matrix of unconditional, unlimited and uniting love which is miraculous, mysterious and marvelous.

John Shuck said...

Thanks Viola for an initial answer.

You wrote this post about me to criticize my thinking. How dare you say that my appeal to science is a smoke screen? How dare you say that I don't take my vows seriously?

We are talking about a fundamental shift in consciousness that has been taking place for over 500 years.

It is of the highest integrity to take seriously the knowledge we have gleaned and put it in conversation with our religious traditions.

That is exactly what I did in my Advent post and what I do in general.

Of course the discussion is going to raise questions and disagreements. That is what we do.
We are wrestling with the core of the faith and how we translate its hope in our time.

I am sorry but I don't think you have a full grasp of the questions science has placed before us.

You wrote:

Yet I don’t believe in evolution outside of species.

What? You ought to take a field trip to your local natural history museum.

You hardly have any integrity criticizing my faith or my theology when you don't even affirm basic knowledge that we teach elementary students.

Viola Larson said...

John W,
I have been reading your comments and all I can say is you are using a double bind. You are insisting that as Christians we find a common ground but you are insisting that that common ground be what you believe.

Your “Perennial Philosophy” is not the biblical view of Christianity so why as a Christian must I accept it? And why are your redefinitions of words, for instance orthodoxy, the acceptable ones? Why not the definitions that the dictionaries offer?

I also must ask why is it okay for you to reject traditional and biblical Christianity but its not okay for others to hold on to their faith. If you can reject why not others? Isn’t that somewhat intolerant on your part?

John said...

Dear Viola,

You are the one who ruled me out of the Christian faith because I interpret the Bible and our Confessions differently than you do.

I'm not ruling you out. If you want to believe in literal talking snakes and literal virgin births and literal risings from the dead, go right ahead. I wasn't there 2000 years ago and 4000 years ago and I might have missed something. Maybe those kinds of things really happened back then. I don't know.

But I suspect that the stories they told were understood to be stories full of great meaning, indeed universal truths, but not necessarily facts.

I think my interpretation is well within Orthodoxy and I would appreciate it if you would not rule me out. Leave that up to my Presbytery! So far they seem to be OK with my beliefs and values.

Again, I'm not ruling you out of the Christian faith. I think you misunderstand some of the great truths of our faith but who am I to judge you ... and who are you to judge me.

+ Love + John A Wilde + Whitesboro NY + The John A Wilde Blog + “You do not need to do anything; you do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You do not even need to listen; just wait. You do not even need to wait; just become still, quiet and solitary and the world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet." -- Franz Kafka

Anonymous said...

Who is she to judge? I think she's an elder in her denomination and therefore tasked with that role as is shown in 1 Corinthians,chapters 5 and 6. Among many other places.

The idea that bad theology is harmless and all ideas, no matter how far they diverge from each other, are equal in value is of the devil.

And, as for Shuck, whenever I read anything by him, I'm always reminded of the Book of Jude. The whole thing.


Elliott Scott
Houston

Debbie said...

John Shuck and John Wilde, you are generalizing my questions beyond being questions to Kattie. I didn't ask them of you. In particular, John Shuck, I didn't ask them of you because I already knew your answers from what you've already written.

Kattie said she was theologically orthodox, and so I asked her if she meant what other people mean when they say that. I was responding particularly to her by asking those questions, and to no one else.

OK, Kattie, I will come out and say it explicitly. The Bible says that homosexual sex is sinful. There is no place in the Bible that says otherwise; anyone who has worked to make the Bible seem not to say so has had to go to great lengths and is using false assumptions (see Gagnon's website). In order to be theologically orthodox, which involves accepting the authority of the Bible, one needs to accept this particular viewpoint as authoritative. When I asked Kattie, "You accept that what the Scriptures actually have to say has more authority over us than our experiences do? You would obey Christ's commands in the Bible rather than go along with what current thinking seems to be tending towards?", this is one of the main things I had in mind.

Please note that I did not say that if she disagreed with interpreting the Bible plainly on all issues of faith and morals, she was not a Christian. I would just say that she was not likely to be a theologically orthodox Christian. I still accept most progressive Christians (as they like to be called) within the fold of Christianity and believe them to be sincere in their faith. But I will not cede the label "orthodox" to them.

John Shuck, if you believe you are adhering to your ordination vows, you are a great twister of words, and you are self-deceived.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

reformedpastor said...

The idea that the Bible must be taken literally and every word in it received without any kind of appreciation of context and cultural conditioning strikes me as totally and completely absurd.

In the dictionary under "straw man," this is the first entry. If you think there is anyone--and I do mean anyone, even self-proclaimed fundamentalists--who believes this, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

John Shuck said...

Sorry, Kattie, it is all about The Gay. You are not theologically orthodox until Debbie says you are theologically orthodox. LOL.

John Shuck said...

That's cute, Elliot, whoever you are. Neither you nor Debbie has anything of substance? Just empty accusation?

We could have a good discussion on faith and science. I answered the three questions Debbie asked.

Anyone game to answer the ones I posed? This post was created to criticize me.

Here I am.

John said...

Dear David.

Good.

I always like it when we can find common ground. We can agree on this. Good.

So, then, since we agree that the Bible requires human interpretation (right?), why is your interpretation better than my interpretation?

Do you see where I'm going with this?

For example, on the question of ordaining GLBT human beings, I am always amazed that Biblical authority becomes so important for those who would exclude these wonderful folks since there is such a limited amount of verses on the subject of sexuality between a man and a man or a woman and a woman as to make me believe that it was not an issue back then like it is for so many now. Jesus didn't say a word about it and even if he did I could easily say he was culturally-conditioned. And, then, when we do interpret those verses, we can see that the question of ordaining GLBT human beings is not even the issue. Hospitality is the issue in Genesis. Cleanliness is the issue in another Pentateuch passage. Paul's few statements are concerned with being sober and not being distracted as we await the coming of Christ. I subscribe basically to Walter Wink's interpretation of these passages. He is a great New Testament scholar.

Also, it is really important to remember that homosexual orientation was not mentioned in the Bible. Certain behaviors were condemned but it's not at all clear what those behaviors are. And even if you accept that they are condemned in a few verses in scripture, let's not forget that they may be culturally-conditioned. There are portions of scripture which simply don't make it as a guide to truth and ethical behavior. Discernment is absolutely necessary and must be done with intelligence, compassion and humility.

Thank you for opening the door to us each and all interpreting scripture as faithfully as we can and not being ruled by culturally-conditioned factors and other human error and limits.

Your interpretation of scripture may indeed be better than mine. i don't know. Who am I to judge?

+ Love + John A Wilde + Whitesboro NY + The John A Wilde Blog + We are intimately, intricately and infinitely connected by a matrix of unconditional, unlimited and uniting love which is miraculous, mysterious and marvelous.

Anonymous said...

Gasp! Don't know me?! I need to get more famouser. Well, John, I've been reading your stuff for years.

On your blog and in your sermons you've stated you doubt the historical reality of Jesus as a human being. You don't think he was divine. His cross doesn't atone for human sin. He wasn't bodily resurrected. He's not coming back to judge the quick and the dead. The Bible is out of date and shouldn't be seen as the highest authority for what we know about God.

I could go back and find all the quotes, I suppose. But I don't think it's worth the effort. If I thought you were worth engaging directly, I would have done so long ago. It's one thing for a spiritual seeker to have these opinions. For a pastor in a what is supposed to be a Christian church to teach them is a travesty.

Honestly, I think the loins of your brain were snapped out of place by spiritual adultery a long time ago.


Elliott Scott
Houston

John Shuck said...

Elliot,

Again with the insults and generalizations. We could have a good discussion on faith and science here or on the blog I have been writing for over three years.

Or you could continue with empty accusations, generalizations. I asked the readers of this blog three questions. Care to answer them?

Kattie W. Coon said...

"OK, Kattie, I will come out and say it explicitly. The Bible says that homosexual sex is sinful."

Uh... No it doesn't. The Bible doesn't actually refer to Homosexuals (as we know them to be) at all. It does examine some behaviors that appear to be between members of the same sex (that is also a matter of debate in some passages, like parts of Romans 1), but no mention at all of them being Homosexuals, and none of the behaviors noted in the Bible in that regard could be described as mutually loving adult monogamous relationships. In fact, those behaviors noted are far from it. Those who actually believe that the theological arguments against Homosexual sexual relations have been unified over the millennia are just kidding themselves. The arguments have been all over the lot, which tells me that it has been more cultural than Biblical.

No Debbie, orthodoxy does not demand that I accept your conclusion concerning Homosexual relations.

John is right. With you folks it's all about the Gay.

Sigh...

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Anonymous said...

John,

No, we couldn't have a "good discussion." That's exactly my point.

I've read your blog and sermons extensively, along with your responses to people who hold positions similar to mine. Our presuppositions are too different. We don't worship the same God.

I suppose Viola must maintain a working relationship with you in order to refute your ideas. She's in your denomination. But I am not and I no longer have such obligations. And because I cannot pretend to have respect for you or your opinions, our discussion would not be productive.

Actually, the reason I left the PCUSA was exactly its lack of integrity or courage or whatever it is that makes it unable to discipline leaders such as yourself whose teachings "are like dangerous reefs" (Jude 12). You and those like you make manifest the PCUSA's lack of defining essentials, without which the church ceases to be the Church.

So, take pride! Indirectly, you are the reason I'm in the EPC.

Elliott Scott
Houston

Viola Larson said...

Elliot,
I don't have to have a working relationship with John. But I do, as a Christian need to try to have a civil tongue not so much because of John but because of others who are merely listening in, including the angels: )

John obviously does not know the Lord Jesus Christ but as we speak to him we just might lead someone else to Christ.

Pastor Bob said...

Wow! I go out to dinner with my daughter, come back and find I've missed the big fight.

Putting homosexuals, homosexuality and the Bible aside for the moment let me go back to what I think the question was when I left. Does anyone interpret the Bible literally? I don't think so. Even premillenialists who claim to interpret Revelation literally find tanks and attack helicopters in it.

BUT I always thought our first task as pastors (who teach and preach on what the Bible says) is to do our best to try and figure out what the author was saying to people in his or her time. James Forbes at a conference I attended back around 1984 said that the task of the preacher is to so preach as to disappear behind the Bible.

After we figure out to the best of our ability what the author intended to say then we seek to apply it to the lives of the people in our day and specifically to the lives of the people in our particular congregations. Example: if 5 local firemen die in a fire on Wednesday I'm not going to talk about "Do not steal" in the sermon on Sunday. I'm probably going to change passages and speak to the current needs of the people.

And since it is Advent I'm going to talk both about the return of Christ and about the first Advent of Christ. The incarnation, I think, is terribly important to being a Christian and to giving humans hope.

Bob Campbell
Sharon Hill, PA

Jodie said...

Debbie,

I have to agree with Kattie. Its a huge disrespect of Scripture to claim "The Bible says that homosexual sex is sinful."

You were asking about what makes you a bigot? Lies like that.

But I have noticed that there is nothing in Scripture against pedophilia, and that the Scriptures give soldiers the right to kidnap and marry the girls of a village they destroy.

That would have gone over really well in Vietnam. Or Afghanistan or Iraq.

It's a very tall and arrogant horse that you ride on, proudly proclaiming what the Bible calls sin as if it gave your bigotry some kind of endorsement.

Viola,

You, not being focused on the teachings of Jesus yourself, should you really go around saying who's a Christian and who is not? You are way beyond your pay grade. Consider the possibility that John is, and that Jesus also considers John a disciple of His, and here you are saying he is not even a Christian. Where would that leave you?

Though He's probably laughing and saying "Hey, me neither. Big deal".

Elliot, the god you worship, I think you've gotten his name wrong. I think maybe you might be worshiping Mars by mistake. Check your six, dude.

Jodie Gallo
Los Angeles, CA

Kattie W. Coon said...

Jodie,

Thanks for agreeing, I needed the support, but I would be careful about saying that Scripture says nothing about pedophilia. Actually, I think it does in Leviticus 18 and 20 as well as 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy. Martin Luther believed those passages referred to child sexual abuse (probably pederasty). The Didache, which was written sometime between the first and early second century seems to agree with Luther's interpretation.

I've never seen anyone prove Luther wrong about that, not even their often referred to Gagnon has done that successfully. Viola and her buddies don't seem to want to touch it. Although, I believe I once read Debbie's husband to refer to Luther's Bible translations as “obscure”. I found that to be hilarious given that German speakers around the world still use Luther's Bible. His translations remained unchanged as far as the previously mentioned passages are concerned until the mid Twentieth Century.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Viola Larson said...

Thanks Bob, that is very helpful.

Viola Larson said...

Kattie,
My question to you would not be about homosexuality although you know where I stand on that, but who is Jesus Christ to you? What do you believe the Scriptures teach about Him. What does biblical authority mean to you? What do you believe about the bodily resurrection. Did Jesus really raise from death bodily and is he coming back bodily?

Pastor Bob said...

Excuse me folks:

There is a great deal of difference between saying "I think you have mistranslated or misinterpreted Scripture" and saying you are lying about what Scripture says.

Katie, I have read those who say that in I Cor. 6 that the words that literally translated mean "man lyers" and "soft men" refer to men having sex with prepubescent or recently pubescent boy, usually a slave. The meaning of those two words is a very complicated discussion and involves a lot of comparison with the way the words are used elsewhere although the word that translates as man lyer isn't used anywhere else in Greek literature.

As for the words used in Leviticus 18 and 20 they roughly translate to "men lying with men as with women." I think one could make an argument that in context they refer to behavior as seen through the eyes of a patriarchal society given that most of the surrounding contest talks about sleeping with dad's wife, uncle's wife, etc. says it's wrong because in doing so one uncovers the nakedness of dad or uncle. I personally can't buy that they refer to having sex with a slave or having sex with a sacred prostitute. Frankly if Luther thinks the passages in Leviticus refer to pederasty I have to say that I don't think
he can't get that out of the words used in the text.

And one can be a Christian and believe that the Bible does not teach that sex between two people of the same sex is wrong. I disagree with that interpretation but sexual ethics is not the core of the Christian faith. Someone said earlier that Mark Achtemeier is a Christian. He is my brother in Christ. I think he is wrong in his current interpretation of Scripture about homosexual sex but he is my brother is Christ.

So let's lighten up a bit everyone, okay?

Viola Larson said...

Bob this started out about an advent writing that discounted the personal rerturn of the resurrected Christ. I am the one who said Mark was a Christian-but I don't think one can read some of the other things here written by John W. and John S. and say they are Christians. I don't believe Scripture allows us to do so. I think Christians have to be faithful to their Lord.

Jodie said...

Viola,

Since you want to be "Scriptural" and limit the definition of Christian to what Scripture permits, then maybe you can enlighten us on the scriptural definition of a "Christian"?

I honestly don't know what it is.

Jodie said...

Kattie,

I have no idea how those passages can be construed to relate to pedophilia.

I don't have any translations that go that route, and I don't know how they could.

But I am nevertheless pretty sure that pedophilia is indeed a sin. I just don't get that from Scripture.

At least not directly. Pedophilia is not at all consistent with the values promoted in scripture, with caring for the defenseless, the needy, the widows and orphans, with loving my neighbor as my self.

I guess it's a matter of interpretation after the fact. I know it's a sin regardless of what the bible says or doesn't say.

Debbie said...

No, John S. and Kattie, it's not all about "The Gay" as you term it. But that happens to be the issue that is being pushed at the present time--people are wanting to say that it is acceptable behavior and that one can be ordained while continuing to participate in homosexual sex--and so that's the issue that gets talked about. If people were instead wanting to say that continuing to express anger without repenting of it were just fine, then it would be about that instead.

That's why I didn't name it explicitly when I first asked the question of Kattie, because I didn't mean it was only about homosexual sex. But then when she pressed me further, I did name it, since it is the issue that people are likely to decide to believe otherwise than what the Bible explicitly says.

And, Kattie, you have done what I said is done about what the Bible says. You have said that "none of the behaviors noted in the Bible in that regard could be described as mutually loving adult monogamous relationships". That's a 21st-century elitist assumption of what the Biblical writers thought of when they were writing about homosexual sex. Again, I recommend that you read what Robert Gagnon has to say on the subject.

It's because of this type of getting around the moral authority of the Bible, Kattie, that we don't call you an orthodox believer. It has nothing to do with bigotry or prejudice. It has only to do with your expressed beliefs.

I would certainly not expect the members of the Witherspoon Society, for example, to call me a "progressive" (as it is currently defined), and I don't feel insulted or the object of bigotry on their part. I understand that we are from two different theological camps.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Pastor Bob said...

Jodie a short definition of the word Christian is one who confesses with his/her lips that Jesus is Lord and believes in his/her heart that God raised him from the dead. Romans 10. That is if the words Christian and saved mean the same thing.

Debbie said...

By the way, Kattie, I noticed your comment in reference to my husband. I asked him just now if he considered Luther's translations to be obscure, and he said not at all. So is your memory wrong? Or can you get the reference where he said what you claim he said?

And Viola's "buddies" aren't dealing with pedophilia yet because so far pedophiles aren't asking to be married (to their child lovers) or ordained. But if that day comes you can bet we'll deal with it. In other words, we didn't choose the battle over homosexuality; the people pushing for gay marriage and gay ordination chose it.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

John Shuck said...

Nothing but insults and generalizations from Elliott. Off to the EPC for him. Good thing as he couldn't keep his vow to be a colleague in ministry. Maybe other true believers will follow his path.

81 comments later and still the issue is not even addressed (save Bob) regarding how we might begin to translate a first century faith into a 21st century world.

I may be wrong but at least I know there is a gap.

That is not something the author of this blog understands as she retreats to pseudoscience to uphold her pre-modern interpretations of the Bible.

Then she attacks what she doesn't understand and states I am not a Christian. Ho hum.

And of course, The Gay.

Merry Christmas!
John Shuck
Elizabethton, TN

John Shuck said...

Bob said:

Christian is one who confesses with his/her lips that Jesus is Lord and believes in his/her heart that God raised him from the dead.

I don't think Viola or Debbie would consider you a Christian, Bob. They have other requirements.

That definition works for me. Discovering what that ancient confession means and living it out is our joyful task.

Jodie said...

Bob,

I don't think there is anything wrong with your definition, but it is a significant matter of interpretation to equate "Saved" with "Christian".

It also doesn't require a person to be a follower of Jesus, i.e. someone who studies his teachings and follows them.

Christians aren't always disciples, and disciples aren't always Christians (eg Ghandi).

I am still hoping Viola will have the integrity to link her requirement, limiting the definition of Christian to what Scripture permits, to a Scriptural definition of Christian. Although I must admit I have no real expectation for it.

(I thought the Scriptural definition was a pejorative given to his disciples who at first were called followers of "the way". But that would be entirely inconsistent with what Viola seems to think the Scriptures permit)

Hope springs eternal as they say.

Pastor Bob said...

Jodi

I think that the word "Lord" in context implies that one be a follower of Jesus. And I equated Christian with saved as that is the word Paul uses. Actually he used the future tense, "Will be saved which he often does.

And frankly the quote is just the beginning the beginning of how I would define the word Christian. "Take up your cross and follow me" is another part of my definition. Also the early ecumenical creeds, specifically Nicea and Chacedon.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Debbie,

I keep wondering if you know when to quit.

In reference to what I wrote earlier about Viola, I’ll say to you: You aren’t paying attention.

You said, “That's a 21st-century elitist assumption of what the Biblical writers thought of when they were writing about homosexual sex.” Well, I certainly drew no connection between mutually loving adult monogamous relationships and what was written in the Bible passages in question, so I don’t understand your comment at all. In fact I was saying that the Biblical authors didn’t write about those kinds of relationships at all in those passages.

You can keep recommending I read Gagnon’s work all you want, blindly ignoring the fact that I have commented on his work several times in the past. My dear, I have read Gagnon’s work, and I agree with his critics that his arguments will only serve to encourage those who already buy into his ideas. Those who read his work critically usually point out that many of his connectional arguments are simply based upon conjecture, and sometimes bigotry. If you dig deeply enough into his logical constructs, it becomes apparent that there are gaping holes in the logic that he simply patches over with conjecture. He has never acknowledged that he ever approached the GLBT issues with an open mind. His intention was always to take a position and argue in favor of it. That isn’t what real scholarship is about. That’s probably why you don’t see many of those arguments published in peer reviewed scholarly journals.

“It's because of this type of getting around the moral authority of the Bible, Kattie, that we don't call you an orthodox believer.”

I don’t even try to get around the moral authority of the Bible Debbie. I have a very high respect for it. Quite frankly, I don’t care what a small cadre of bigots calls me. If Viola feels that you get to say I’m not orthodox, then she should let me refer to a small cadre of bigots. If the shoe fits, wear it.

Debbie, I’m glad your husband doesn’t consider Luther’s Bible translations to be obscure. Maybe that means he’s changed his mind over the past couple of years. It could possibly mean that you asked him the wrong question. Ask him if he ever WROTE that Luther’s translation was obscure. I’m not accusing him of being a liar; I’m merely saying that you might have asked the wrong question.

I have no intention of going back over all of his blog articles from the past few years, but if you want the reference, you are certainly free to look for it yourself. I’ll help you out a little, I think he wrote it before I made my first comment on his blog (I joined blogger in order to make a comment on his blog about two years ago). The Luther obscurity statement was actually a topic of conversation between me and a couple of friends of mine. It served to further drive home the point that the GLBT exclusionist crowd doesn’t have a real argument if they have to resort to this kind of silly false reporting.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Jodie said...

Bob,

In the Romans passage you refer to, isn't Paul's context also the OT usage of the term 'Lord'?

Is it Paul's meaning that if you acknowledge YHWH as Lord (El Yah) you are automatically a Christian?

Perhaps, if the doctrine of the Trinity is True (based in part on this very passage), then anyone who calls on YHWH God as Lord (El Yah, the phonetic root of 'Alah") has automatically called on Jesus Christ as Lord and is also therefore a Christian.

Interesting.

Viola,

What is YOUR Scriptural definition?

I take your silence as your admission that you don't really have one.

Viola Larson said...

All,
I concur with Bob. His definition of what it means to be a Christian is exact. But it must be within the Biblical text not something we pull out of another faith tradition or our own particular ecstatically felt experiences. For insistence some Hindus refer to Jesus as Lord. But they mean by that that he is one among many manifestations of God. Because to the classical Hindu God is everything.

That is not the Bible’s understanding of Jesus. Instead Jesus is both God and human and he is the unique Son of the Father. He is the only begotten Son; on the otherhand, we are the adopted sons and daughters of God.

To call Jesus Christ Lord in the biblical sense is to at least affirm these two particular text (but of course much more):

“For He [the Father] rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God; the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the cross; through Him. I say whether things on earth or things in heaven.” (Colossians 1:13-20)

And:

“By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
was vindicated in the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” (1 Tim. 3:16)

Both of these are considered ancient confessions/ hymns of the Church.

Jesus as Lord is not just a negative about worldly rulers but rather means that Jesus Christ as a real human who is God, who has overcome death as he laid down his life for us, has the right to own and rule us. That we accept what he says to us and how he leads us in his word.

And Bob I like what you said about your words just being the beginning of how you would define the word Christian. The discipleship must follow, because his Lordship includes our obedience. His grace saves us but obedience to his word sanctifies us.

Viola Larson
Sacramento Ca

Pastor Bob said...

Jodie

Here is the larger context:

5Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: "The man who does these things will live by them."[a] 6But the righteousness that is by faith says: "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'[b]" (that is, to bring Christ down) 7"or 'Who will descend into the deep?'[c]" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,"[d] that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."[e] 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."[f]

Trying to say what Paul means when he says "Lord" can be tricky. I would not have said that this particular usage is a Trinitarian reference. I'll have to think about that.

But the sentence points to Jesus as Lord and maybe through that to Yahweb, not the other way around

Jodie said...

Humm...

Viola,

These are all nice words and there is nothing wrong with them. They define WHAT Jesus is, and that HE must be Lord. Interesting that being a disciple shows up at the tail end of your comments, almost as a "by the way".

I would have thought that a Scriptural definition would be a definition IN Scripture. One that jumps out of Scripture, not one we project into Scripture.

The only definition I have come across in scripture came as a consequence of being a demonstrated disciple.

I therefore think the only Scriptural definition of a Christian is "a disciple of Jesus". That is where I would start, and that would be my only test. At least the only "scriptural" test.

Then this discussion would go along the lines of "What do you think are his greatest teachings? I think its teaching A and B" and someone else would argue "oh no, surely its teaching C and D".

And then people would say "I have trouble practicing teaching X and Y. How do you do it?" and another would reply "I agree, I can't get that either" or "oh it's easy. Here let me show you. There's a trick to it". That kind of stuff.

Then passersby would ask "who are those people over there?" And someone would answer, "Oh, those are Christians. They follow the teachings of Jesus"

As best as I can tell, there is no other Scriptural definition of a Christian. There are no gate keeper disciples. No set of pre-requisites or screening criteria. Not if you want to be Scriptural.

In Scripture, that was the job of the Pharisees.

Bob,

The context continues. Vs 13 is quote from Joel 2:32. Lord is Lord YHWH and saved is definitely not in the future life going to heaven sense, but saved as in "don't let me get killed in battle" sense. Vs 16 again, Lord is Lord God, YHWH.

It's the foundation of Paul's argument in fact. Paul is equating the OT Lord YHWH with the Lord Jesus, and this is foundational in Trinitarian theology as well. In Paul's mind, if you call on the name of God in the OT, you are calling on the name of Jesus. With Paul he knew this as a matter of personal revelation.

Obviously that didn't go over well with the Jews who relied only on Scripture and not on personal revelation.

Presbyman said...

Goodness, the ravens of discord have been sorely provoked, circling Viola's blog, cawing angrily, and occasionally swooping down to peck and tear at her.

John Erthein
Erie, PA

Debbie said...

Kattie, I did ask that question of my husband. I asked him not only did he now consider Luther's writings to be obscure, but also would he ever have written so. He didn't have any memory of ever having written such a thing because he didn't ever think so. So if you're going to make an accusation, the burden is on you to support it before you make it, not on me to defend from it. Otherwise it's kind of like slander.

I'm not going to continue with this other topic. I'm not in general debating what orthodoxy is, or whether or not homosexual sex is sinful. I was just trying to show that, if you want to define "orthodox" differently from how orthodox believers define it, you can't complain of not being called orthodox by orthodox believers. Viola and I are not some teeny subset of orthodox believers (or "a small cadre of bigots", as you kindly put it). Try presenting your views to the leaders of orthodox/evangelical churches and see if they say you are orthodox.

By the way, I didn't say you had never read Gagnon. I just referred you there because that's where the arguments are. And about the 21st century elitist interpretation, I mean the view that what Paul was writing about was NOT mutually loving consensual relationships (you DID refer to this, when you said "none of the behaviors noted in the Bible in that regard could be described as mutually loving adult monogamous relationships").

I will not (cognitively) allow John Shuck or you or anyone else to say that I do such and such or think such and such or lie (e.g. "I don't think Viola or Debbie would consider you a Christian, Bob. They have other requirements"; "You were asking about what makes you a bigot? Lies like that"; "You are not theologically orthodox until Debbie says you are theologically orthodox") when it's not true. Go ahead and say it, but it's not true. It is only serving to be derisive. That's not a good purpose, and I don't care about it. It is not going to tempt me into commenting on this thread again. I'm done. The thread does not seem fruitful.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Viola Larson said...

Debbie I agree I don't think this discussion is going anywhere. I have allowed Jodie to write here although he has been asked enough times to not write on my blog. But I wrote what I wrote because I saw a great divide that was being glossed over as though it did not count for much. It was as though because John S. was for gay ordination then although his theology was totally unbiblical the Witherspoon Society still held up his theology as acceptable. My point was that the divide because of this was huge. I think the people who have contributed to the comments on this blog have proved my posting right, but now I believe it is time to end the thread.

If there is anymore discussion here it will have to be done without any kind of insult implied. And Jodie don’t post here. I have been reading you at Shuck & Jive and I simply cannot tolerate anymore. I believe it would be unchristian for me to do so.

Kattie W. Coon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

“There are so many proud Christians: yet they have nothing to be proud of. They are intoxicated by their piety, and each one thinks that he is the one, that he’s got it, that his group is it. This is true for each one of us. Unless this changes, we will perish; we might as well join the stream of death. Then you will see how in all their customs and practices people trudge along at the same monotonous pace, till finally they are laid in the grave. Dirt is thrown over them, and everyone goes back home and continues living just as dully and superficially as before.”

Christoph Blumhardt, 1842-1919
Action in Waiting (with an afterword by Karl Barth)

John McNeese
Ponca City, OK

Viola Larson said...

Kattie I don't mind you showing Debbie she was wrong about the quote. But I do mind you insulting Jim with your last paragraph. You may replace the comment without the insult as was my rules on my blog.

Viola Larson said...

Christoph Blumhardt is right John M. in the sense that we are all sinners and it is only the Lord Jesus Christ who has saved us by his death on the cross. But I do like some of the ideas that C.S. Lewis had that there is a kind of pride in the work we do when we know we have done it well and we feel the Father's pleasure in that.

I see that in my husband when he has finished rebuilding a piano or tuned for a special concert-it is what our flourishing in the Lord is about.

Debbie said...

OK, one more comment because it's pertinent to what Kattie said about Jim's comments re: Luther's translations. Viola found what Jim said, by the way. Jim was writing in 2007 about the PCUSA's policy on gay ordination, and someone commented on Luther's translation of Leviticus 18:22. Jim responded, "Before we quibble about some obscure translation from centuries ago, let's deal with 2,000 years of consistent, univocal interpretation, versus about 30 years of weak, unconvincing attempts to explain away the obvious." By that he certainly did not mean that Luther's entire translation was obscure. When I read it to him just now, he said he meant that Luther's translation of that particular verse was obscure to us in that context.

So you're right, Kattie, he did say something like what you were talking about, but you expanded what you said. You said "I believe I once read Debbie's husband to refer to Luther's Bible translations as “obscure”." That's going a bit further.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Kattie W. Coon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kattie W. Coon said...

Debbie,

Luther's translations of Leviticus 18, 20, 1 Corinthians 6, and 1 Timothy 1 are all consistent in their meaning. If Jim felt that Luther's translation of Leviticus 18 was obscure, then it is surely reasonable that he would have considered the others to be obscure as well. Hence my use of the pleural. Besides, what is "obscure to us" about a translation that was widely used, unchanged, and easily understood by German speaking Christians between the mid sixteenth century and the late twentieth century? The meaning of the German text is quite clear to us. Those German texts are not referring to activities between two adults. It is clear that children are involved. This is quite surprising because Luther was very anti Homosexual.

You quoted me out of context. If you would have included my previous paragraph in your quote, then it would have been clear to everyone that I was indeed referring only to those four passages. It was you who took my meaning too far.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Kattie W. Coon said...

By the way Debbie,

Those German translations of those four passages are certainly far less obscure to us than the currently known Hebrew and Greek texts are. So what was Jim's point?

Kattie
Huntsville, AL

Debbie said...

Kattie, I'm not going to try to reopen the issues of Jim's whole blog posting in the comments of this blog posting. You can ask him about that on that other blog posting (you can Bing the quotation I included earlier if you can't find the post). But if you won't accept what he himself says about what he meant when he wrote that, then you are calling him a liar.

Again, from what he said to me earlier this evening, I thought he meant that a German translation of one verse was obscure to PCUSA ordination questions in 2007, because it was in German, I think, not because it was by Luther, and because PCUSA ministers usually work in English. I would suppose that Greek and Hebrew are more widely studied by PCUSA ministers, but I actually don't know about that and could be wrong. It would be highly appropriate for you to ask Jim himself about this particular issue on his blog, instead of using me as a go-between, although it's true that he doesn't have as much time for writing there any more since he has returned to the pastorate and is also involved in caring for his aging mother. Perhaps he would be willing to see if he could word this better, to give a more appropriate sense of what he meant.

I didn't intend to quote you out of context. It had appeared to me that you said you had not said anything about the types of homosexual relationships referred to by biblical authors, and I was showing that you had indeed said something about the types of relationships. I don't know what more context was needed to show that. If I missed some contextual meaning, then your writing must be subtler than I realized.

Now, this really is enough.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Kattie W. Coon said...

"But if you won't accept what he himself says about what he meant when he wrote that, then you are calling him a liar."

I will accept what he said to be what he believes.

So, you're now saying it's obscure because it's not in English and not because it's hard to understand. Well, I don't consider Luther's German obscure at all. That translation of those passages was widely read and understood by Lutherans, Baptists, and Pentecostals for roughly 450 years.

I must say that I find it very hard to accept that even though I agree with Martin Luther on those texts, you still won't consider me to be orthodox.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Doug Hagler said...

1. Perpetuate an argument with a blog post.

2. Continue the argument in the comment thread.

3. Realize that the argument is going nowhere; observe that no one has changed any of their views whatsoever.

Repeat step 1.

Viola Larson said...

Doug that would be be funny and useless accept for a couple of things. The front page is mine. I said what I meant to say and it is still there unchanged. All the comments made say what I was saying 'there is a great divide.'Without Jesus Christ (the biblical Christ not the universe or some metaphor) there is no real unity. Only Christ, not me or anyone else can bring us as a denomination together.

Pam said...

Viola

If it was funny, it wasn't useless. It is also just my observation of where 105 comments had gotten us. Obviously, take it or leave it.

John said...

Viola wrote: "Bob this started out about an advent writing that discounted the personal rerturn of the resurrected Christ. I am the one who said Mark was a Christian-but I don't think one can read some of the other things here written by John W. and John S. and say they are Christians. I don't believe Scripture allows us to do so. I think Christians have to be faithful to their Lord."

+++

That hurts. I come here seeking common ground as sincerely and humbly as I can possibly be and I get told I'm not a Christian.

That hurts and I want an apology.

+ Love + John A Wilde + Whitesboro NY + The John A Wilde Blog + "The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, humankind will have discovered fire." -- Teilhard de Chardin

Viola Larson said...

John,
We have a common humanity but we do not have a common ground at all in our faith. Early Christians and many Christians in other parts of the world today have died and are dying for upholding what you are denying. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. He is the final revelation of God. He is the onlyeternal Son of God. You can't have it any way you please you can only have it God's way. Peace is not the ultimate goal of the Christian's life, knowing Jesus Christ in all of his glory is. I will not apologize.

“Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.” (1 John 2:22-23)

Jodie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jodie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John said...

Dear Viola,

I knew an apology was unlikely but I thought I would ask anyway. It does hurt for someone to tell me I am not a Christian.

My interpretation of scripture which is supported by many wonderful people is well within orthodoxy. Please try to be open-minded.

I am a follower of Jesus and I invite people to follow Jesus. I always have done so and will continue to do so.

I do not take the Bible literally because I am convinced the Early Christians who wrote the Bible as we know it spoke a language which differs from our modern understanding of words and symbols and archetypes. For me, the meaning of the words and symbols and archetypes is what matters and I believe the early Christians felt that way also whether they understood the words and symbols and archetypes to be literal or metaphorical.

I honor your right to believe in a literal Bible. I do not honor your right to say who is in and who is out. I believe that is ultimately up to God and penultimately up to my Presbytery.

May your Advent, Christmas and Epiphany season be full of meaning and joy. Thanks again for providing this forum. I appreciate your intelligence and curiosity.

+ Love + John A Wilde + Whitesboro NY + The John A Wilde Blog + “You do not need to do anything; you do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You do not even need to listen; just wait. You do not even need to wait; just become still, quiet and solitary and the world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet." -- Franz Kafka

John Shuck said...

Thanks, John, that was articulate and gracious.

John Shuck
Elizabethton, TN

Pastor Bob said...

John and John

I would certainly affirm that ultimately the decision of who is a Christian is up to God. I would add to that the belief that God get's to decide who enters the Kingdom of God. (John S. as I'm not sure you believe in life after death that you would say that the way I do.) I doubt that anyone calling themselves orthodox on this site, by any definition, would disagree. And yes, presbyteries decide whether a pastor's statement of faith places them within the presbytery's bounds of what a Presbyterian pastor should believe. Sessions set the bounds of what elders and members should believe (although in my experience most sessions operate on the living and breathing definition).

Nevertheless individuals and groups have their opinions of the definitions of words.

I had an interesting conversation with a Jehovah's Witness one time. She came into my office all steamed up because I had told a relative of hers that I didn't think Jehovah's witnesses were Christians (remember my definition includes believing in the Trinity). After some fruitless discussion I finally asked her, "Look you don't think I'm a Christian do you?" Her answer was of course no. So I responded, "What's the difference between you saying I'm not a Christian and my saying you aren't a Christian?" At that point she left.

And I think beliefs should have definitions. To say to a Jew or a Muslim that we all believe the same thing would be insulting. An orthodox Muslim would certainly not say any of us who commented here are headed toward paradise, no matter how much we share in our believe about Mary and Jesus.

My definition of the word Christian is more narrow than yours. I'm sure you knew that when we were in Utica Presbytery together. But did that stop us from being friends did it?

Bob Campbell
Sharon Hill, PA