Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Warning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Traveling, reading and enjoying both Christian friends and family

I know I have been putting up a lot of videos. Partly because a lot of news is going on, but also because I am preparing to leave for Voices of Orthodox Women's board meeting this coming Wednesday. We always evaluate the Presbyterian Women's Horizons' Bible Study for the year, for those women who are concerned with an orthodox approach. So, I have been very busy reading and studying.

For those interested this is a part of our statement of who we are: "More specifically, we are committed to working for the reformation and renewal of WOMEN'S MINISTRIES in The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Whenever possible, we will affirm and support the work of Presbyterian Women and other women's organizations within our denomination.

However, when necessary, we will also oppose any effort to distort our historic Reformed faith in order to make it conform to the values of a contemporary culture that is in moral and intellectual free-fall. Among others, these distortions include radical feminism (with all of its attendant doctrines and ideological commitments), sexual anarchy, and fundamentally defective understandings of Christian mission."

VOW has recently acquired a wonderful new web site put together by Web Master, Robert Dooling, both a Presbyterian Pastor and husband to Sylvia Dooling, President and Founder of VOW. Take a peek at it. You can even see the faces of the board members fading in and out beside some beautiful Christian images. And all of the articles are very assessable and certainly helpful.

When I return home late Friday, I will then have only two days to prepare to leave by train for Ga to visit my daughter Penny and her family. We are attending our grandson Christopher's high school graduation. The funny thing about traveling to Toccoa Falls, Ga by train, is that the only way to get there is the very Southern route and staying in New Orleans over night. Or the way we are coming and going, going all the way to Washington D.C. and then turning around and coming back toward Toccoa. Picture is of Christopher.

And now for another one of those videos that I like to listen to.

Friday, April 24, 2009

For Penny

Penny was my blessing at the end of a few hard years. Four babies in less than five years. Two years after my first boy was born and my second was only a few months old my mother died. My aunt, her sister, died of a heart attack the day of my mother’s funeral service. The news just kept coming. My grandmother died and then my uncle in a car accident.

Sure I thought, not pregnant again and cried. But Penny was my blessing. She was a bright light that filled the year ahead.

At eight months pregnant I wore my only black pregnancy dress, the one with sequins, to my father’s funeral.

And then the day after thanksgiving she came. After three boys I was afraid to ask, but the doctor knew—he knew I would want to know. A girl! I said "praise the Lord."

She was my first to comb a doll's hair and wash tiny cups and plates. The first of our children to wear ruffled skirts and smile that kind of smile that makes you want to grab her and hug her.

You will just have to believe me-Penny's real name is Penelope--her Daddy named her--and she had a little friend named Venus. A little blonde named Penelope and a little red head named Venus playing dolls together and although both owned the name of a mythical goddess it was to Jesus they prayed.
The fact is Penny may not remember but she taught Venus to pray one day. She said just say "Jesus know me." And of course Jesus knew her from eternity.

So this is for Penny, because I saw it this morning and it made me cry. And she was my blessing after all of those hard years. God’s great gift to me.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Carrie Prejean: integrity and faithfulness

My TV has been off for several weeks due to a room move we are involved in. I did not see this until tonight. I believe Miss California, Carrie Prejean, shone in this interview. Her Christianity is very apparent. The news person, Matt Lauer, who interviewed her was excellent.

It seems like beauty queens are now going to be forced to be fence sitters if they want to win. Don't we want women to be more than pretty? Or are we going back to the empty headed fifties with an immoral gloss.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

I was going to put the last scene of the Robe here, but the video would not work. That is the scene where the hero and his lady face Nero. Why is it that all tormentors, the actors and the real ones seem so alike. But at least the real ones can find redemption in Christ.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

But for the want of a "word"

John McNeese wrote a letter to the editor on Presbyweb , on the 21st of April, about words. It was a tiny letter but it carried a huge statement. He was bewailing the letters being exchanged by others, including myself, about some words and their theological meaning. His statement was important. “Nothing here [in the argument about words] about what it means to actively follow Jesus in this time and this place.”

Now in one way he is right. After all James insists that we can’t just say we have faith but rather our actions will show that we do. But then he goes on to remind the reader that the tongue when we speak has the power to both bless and curse. James’ actual meaning is that something at the core of our being is wrong when we bless our Lord God and, at the same time, curse others who are made in his image. So words do have meaning and they do shape who we are. If we keep cursing we will be changed by our words.

But there is another part of this. The meaning of words is important to our actions as Christians. Especially the meaning of words that are found in the Scripture and the Church’s Confessions; there are historical examples.

For example, the Jehovah Witnesses have misunderstood why the article is placed where it is placed in the Greek text in John 1:1. While most translations read something like my NAS, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Their New World Translation is, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was a god. A lot of action follows from this misunderstanding.

The Jehovah Witnesses claim Arius as one of their Fathers. They, like him, believe Jesus to be a created being. But they step out further; he is an Archangel. He did not rise bodily from the grave. Only the 144, 000 of Revelation can say they are born again and go to be with him. They are all spirits. The later resurrected inhabit a new earth but they do not have that kind of fellowship with Jesus Christ; they may not even take the cup at communion.

Their solution for salvation is the death of a perfect human. They write, “How grateful we can be that Jesus' death makes provision for us to gain the perfection that Jehovah originally intended for the offspring of Adam and Eve!” They also write, “Yes, Jesus' death is a means of rescuing ‘everyone exercising faith’ in him from sin, disease, old age, and death itself.” Their conclusion, “True Christians are in a saved condition in that they are in an approved position before God. As a group, their salvation is sure. Individually, they must meet God's requirements. However, we can fail, for Jesus said: "If anyone does not remain in union with me, he is cast out as a branch and is dried up." (All Italics mine)

They are following a perfect human but not the Lord of life who unites us to himself and gives us abundant life. The Jehovah Witnesses’ righteousness is their righteousness. But Christians have no righteousness of their own; instead they have the righteousness of Christ. And, it is all because of the misunderstood placement of a word.

To go further, that ancient father of the Jehovah Witnesses, Arius, not only troubled Church councils and Fathers. He made disciples who went into the lands of the Visigoths and made disciples. They would trouble Catholic Europe for several more hundred years. That was action.

And that is not the end of the story. Neglecting the words of the biblical text, the liberal theologians of the nineteenth century also became functional Arians. They denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. God was a Father, Jesus our brother. And once again works became the basis of salvation.

Rebecca Ann Parker, author alongside Rita Nakashima Brock, of the heretical book Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us, points out this harsh understanding of the meaning of the cross for the liberal by quoting Walter Rauschenbush. “Salvation is the voluntary socializing of the soul.”

Parker writes of the liberal thought, “Individuals are saved by entering into a new life of self-sacrifice, with no thought for self, only love for others.” (32)

Barth lays the theology of the German Christians at the feet of nineteenth century liberal theologians and predicts it will return to shape some other disastrous movement in some other place. This is all because of words. Misunderstood, ignored or denied, words do lead to actions for good or for evil.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Face of Evil: The second Durban Conference UP_DATE

Up-Date-- see below-
Sometimes the face of evil seems sophisticated and beautiful. It is still evil. From the UN watch and the conference of Durban II

"Confrontation at Durban II

Tables Turned on Libyan Chair When Torture Victim Blasts Qaddafi Hypocrisy'

Must-See Video:

Head of U.N.’s “Anti-Racism” Conference Caught Like a Deer in Headlights Today Iranian President Ahmadinejad — the world’s leading Holocaust denier — will be in Geneva to address the U.N.’s “anti-racism” conference, known as Durban II. The U.N. gathering claims to be about fighting racism and discrimination, but in fact it’s organized by the world’s worst perpetrators of racism, discrimination and human rights abuses, and was designed to scapegoat Israel, America and the West.

A representative of Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Qaddafi, Mrs. Najjat al-Hajjaji, chaired the Durban II Preparatory Committee for the past two years, and today was elected chair of the Durban II Main Committee.In an unprecedented coup, the rank hypocrisy of Durban II was exposed before the world this week when UN Watch surprised the Libyan chair — by bringing a victim of Qaddafi torture to confront her on Libya’s brutal torture and scapegoating of five Bulgairan nurses and a Palestinian doctor. The video clip has been broadcast around the globe. "

The very end of this is in French but please watch anyway.

From UN Watch "Ahmadinejad speaks at Durban II; EU walks out

Published by

UN Watch- at April 20, 2009 in Durban 2009.

As Iranian President Ahmadinejad approached the podium to address the Durban Review Conference, representatives of the European Union admirably left the chamber in protest.
As he began to talk, a man in a clown wig ran through the hall, calling out the Iranian President as a racist. Ahmadinejad asked the guests to “forgive these ignorant people.”
As expected, Ahmadinejad focused his attacks on the West and Israel. After decrying the trans-Atlantic slave trade, he went on to condemn the “cruel and racist regime in Palestine,” complaining that the Security Council has enabled the survival of this “regime” over the last sixty years. “The word Zionism personifies racism,” he said. “Efforts must be made to silence the will of Zionists and their supporters.”

Here is a video I could not find it anywhere in English but at a pro=Iran site:

Praise God for some integrity from the British and European delegates.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wicca: from my Christian perspective: a series 3

This is the third and last of three postings on "Wicca: from my Christian perspective: a series.

This version of a creation-centered morality [Morality based on a creation that is sacred or divine] bleeds into the Wiccan view of death and the afterlife. If the Goddess is seen as creation, then death must have an inherent and eternal usefulness which can be perceived as good.

In contrast to the biblical view of death as that which carries the deadly sting, the Wiccan adherent sees death as necessary for life on earth to continue. In The Pagan Book of Living And Dying some statements about the need for death are: "The existence of death allows for infinitely more variety and diversity among living things" and "Because we die, leaving room for new beings to be born, species can adapt to new conditions. . . . Death preserves life."15

The Wiccan view of existence after death is a rather pallid view in contrast to the eternal longings of humanity. As one Wiccan writer puts it, "death is not an extinction, a final end. It is transformation, dissolution of one form so that new forms can be created." It is, however, according to the writer, "The loss of that consciousness which makes us who we are."16

One view is that humanity's soul is made up of three parts and only that part called "deep-Self" exists after death. In a very eastern way of understanding this "Deep-Self" is seen as "the personal God or Goddess" or as a "Guardian Angel."17 Many Wiccans connect these concepts and believe in reincarnation. They embrace the wheel of life, and unlike the East, envision no going beyond the eternal cycles of life after death since they see the wheel as "the living being of the Goddess."18

All of the important facets of faith: meaning, redemption, adoration and morality, fail when connected to creation. Creation offers no mercy and no restraint against evil. No redemption is possible.

One may not complain of the loss of personal identity in death. Goddess worship rends asunder the Wiccan desire for community, nurture, celebration and even affirmation of the individual. If Wiccans worship gods and goddesses as real deities they sink to the level of worshiping demons ( 1 Cor. 10:20 ). (Although they don't believe there are such things.) If they view their deities as symbols of the "one" reality, they continue walking in a lonely, closed world. They are broken people accepting evil and death as good.

Human need, failure and death demand a solution. We have a right to grieve about, fight against, and hope for an end to evil and death ( Rom. 8:18-25 ). We rightly long for true community, for love and mercy. We long for God. Jesus Christ is the God-man who appeared in history ( Jn.1:1, 14 ). Only His death preserves life. His bodily resurrection gives real meaning and hope to humanity. The person redeemed by Christ experiences true joy and celebrates because their faith is grounded in historical events brought about by a loving God who, although separate from creation, is deeply concerned with creation (Heb. 12:22-24; 13:15-16 ).

The love of an infinite, Holy God who loves and redeems finite and sinful humanity gives the individual great value. Those who belong to Christ are not "invisible" but known intimately by the very personal creator of the universe ( Jn. 14:23 ).

15. Starhawk, The Pagan Book Of Living And Dying, 68, 71.

16.Ibid., 72.


18. Ibid., 73.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wicca: from my Christian perspective: a series 2

This is the second of two postings on "Wicca: from my Christian perspective: a series.

Wiccan and other neo-pagan groups, in contrast to the world view of eastern pantheism, attempt to give meaning to the material world. The Goddess acts and the acts are all the cycles and actions of nature, including the acts of humanity. Within this neo-pagan attempt to give meaning to creation, a defining motif emerges and under girds the rituals of Wicca; that is, viewing creation as divine.

Creation is the reality and focus of worship for many Wicca devotees. Honor and devotion are given to creation in the same way that Christians give worship to Jesus Christ. In the book The Coming of The Cosmic Christ, author Matthew Fox writes:

"The universe is, after all, the proper setting for and the source of all energy for rendering ritual, cults, and sacraments effective. . . . In this fuller context of a mysticism grounded in the ultimate mystery of the universe itself, liturgy receives its primary power, its primary source for its symbols and its work of healing and empowerment."9

Fox also suggests that the Church's understanding of Jesus as dying and resurrected lamb be replaced with "Mother Earth" as dying and resurrected.10 Indeed, others have proposed the same transfer in an attempt to wed paganism to Christianity. The point is, however, that neo-pagans, including Wiccans, understand creation itself to be the reality they worship.

This is, in fact, a closed system. Without a God separate from creation the magical aspects of witchcraft are simply connected to the material world. Nature worship becomes naturalism. Magic for the Pagan is neither heaven nor hell breaking into our world.

All wicca worship is connected to this understanding of creation as divine. The Wicca worshiper borrows deities and rituals from ancient practice and combines them with their own cultural understanding. They also, as individuals and individual covens, create their own new rituals. For instance, their creation centered worship involves tantra which is an eastern concept.

For the eastern pantheist tantra is a way of using the material universe to eliminate the material universe which is considered unreal. The goal of the eastern pantheist is to go beyond dualities of creation, losing the distinction of self, becoming like a drop of water in the ocean. However, for the Wiccan, tantra is a means of bringing harmony to the individual self and experiencing the force of the universe. Wicca adherents use tantra as a tool in an attempt to enhance and affirm creation.

The tools of tantra are used in combination with the senses. Words (Mantra), visual implements (Yantras such as a mandala), and ritual sexual union (Maithuna), are the basic tools of tantra.

There are tantrics who practice symbolic sexual union and those who practice actual sexual union. There are many other tools and rituals of Wicca. For instance, most Wicca ritual involves a circle considered a sacred space. Other tools include chants, songs and a cauldren ( a cooking pot used for ritual ).11 Much of the ritual action in the coven is used as a way of experiencing union with the Goddess, empowerment, a means of focusing power on individual or group needs and desires, and as a way of healing.

Likewise, morality for the Wiccan is based in creation and the individual. This view, for some, is based on seeing nature as divine, personal and good. Carol Christ argues that "nature is itself intelligent and loving," and that we should look for "principles of morality within nature." She suggests that such principles or "touchstones" "are relative to the situations in which we live." She further states, "New touchstones can be added as they are discovered. Those that have outlived their usefulness can be discarded."12

On the other hand, Vivianne Crowley, author of Wicca: The Old Religion in The New Age, writes that "Paganism tends to see darkness and light as being in harmony and necessary counterparts to one another."13 Likewise, remember Starhawks's comment about what defines the Goddess: not only is the bud and blossom Goddess, but also the fang and claw.

Unlike the righteous Creator, creation possesses both good and evil. Contrary to Wicca's expectations, creation offers no mercy and no restraint against evil. In fact, in a recent edition of Gnosis, Carol leMasters suggests that more emphasis on the "darker aspects of the Goddess" would help to extend acceptance to "promiscuity or anonymous encounters or kinky sex."14

9. Matthew Fox, The Coming of The Cosmic Christ, ( New York: Harper and Row, 1988 ), 40.
10.Ibid., 145.

11.Starhawk et al., The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Prayers, Blessings, and meditations on Crossing Over, (San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 1997 ), 339-45.

12.Carol P. Christ, "The Serpentine Path: Theology for a New Way of Being," Sage Woman: Celebrating the Goddess in Every Woman, 42 (Summer, 1998 ), 58.

13.Vivianne Crowley, Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Age, ( Wellingborough, Northhamptonshire, UK: Aquarian Press, 1989 ), 21.

14. Carol LeMasters, " The Goddess Movement : Past and Present," Gnosis, 48.

Here is a video, that I love, and although Christian I think some Wicca members might enjoy it. Please be sure and look at the pictures, they are beautiful.

John Shuck's questions to me about Wicca

I really need to get on with my series on Wicca, but not only have I stopped to put up a different subject but also John Shuck took such an interest in my Wicca article that he posted a silly posting on Witches, She's a Witch! (That video made me laugh) and allowed his followers to respond as though they were the crowd in the film and I the witch. But that’s okay because I would really like to respond. This is his comments and questions.

"Dear Viola,

Since I linked to your post on my blog, one of the commenters thought I should email you to check the facts.

So...Why are you making a series of posts on Wiccans?

Are you a Wiccan?

Do you want people to become Wiccan?

Why don't you direct them to a Wiccan website so folks can learn about Wicca from Wiccans?

Blessed Be."

“Why are you making a series of posts on Wiccans?”

The postings I am doing are from an article I wrote for a magazine TruthQuest Journal in 1998. The magazine no longer exists. I am placing the post here because I like to use my blog for all kinds of different information and hopefully help others as they relate to Jesus Christ. When I first began junior college the Wicca movement had just taken hold in the United States. It migrated here from England and combined with the new women’s movement. The two began changing each other.

I often sat at a lunch table with a group of Wiccans. I was very interested in them, and they in what I believed. They passed my Bible up and down the table reading from it. One of the sad things at that time, for me, was one woman who was the priestess of her coven who felt she could not attend Church because of what she was doing. I wanted to assure her that God loved her. Hopefully she is somewhere today save in the keeping of Jesus Christ. (That is a prayer)

At Sacramento State University, Sacramento, I had two experiences with Wicca. Neither of them very good. But God had a purpose in it. The first was with a student in one of my philosophy classes. He was a Warlock (a male witch) who was always the High Priest of his coven and very out spoken. I was later to receive the book he wrote to guide his coven. I received it from someone who had been his priestess and had converted to Jesus Christ. (This was when I was working at Apologetics Resource Center.) While this is not at all typical of Wicca, the fellow had made a rule that the priestess must always be young women. This particular coven practiced sex in their ritual circle.

The other Wiccan at college was my teacher for world religions. I was upset because the way she taught was decidedly from her goddess point of view and this was my most important class for my religious study degree. However, God meant it for good, because now I have so much more knowledge about the religious viewpoints of Wicca.

So I must say the most important reason to place my article here is so I can continue to interact either with Christians who want to know more about Wicca (The fastest growing neo-pagan group in the United States) or with those in Wicca who might be interested in what I have to say from a Christian perspective.

“Are you a Wiccan?”


“Do you want people to become Wiccan?”


“Why don't you direct them to a Wiccan website so folks can learn about Wicca from Wiccans?”

Some people who are Christians want to learn about other faiths from a Christian perspective. I do have training and experience in writing about religious subjects.

Having said that, I think it is a good idea to learn what other people believe from them. That is why I have used so many reference books written by Wicca people, and also those who believe in a goddess of some sort. What readers can do is look at the names of the authors of my endnote books and google them and their web sites. For instance I have used a book by Starhawk a very popular witch. Her web site is
Starhawk’s Tangled Web

An important part of writing for me is representing other’s faith traditions fairly and I have as much as I am able. I have had Wicca people e-mail me and thank me for presenting their faith correctly. Some Christians do not.

"Blessed be."

Blessed may you find your self John in the only way to the Father, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gay curriculum for the primary school children of San Francisco

I am breaking into my Wicca series to post this. I said to someone not very long ago that troubles for Christians and the Church were coming so fast it took my breath away.

The Bay Area Reporter, a gay newspaper, had this report on their site today.

"A new Web site developed by the San Francisco Unified School District's health program quietly launched this month, providing resources for safe classrooms for students and educators alike.
The site apparently was launched in March and is part of the district's broader diversity curriculum.

Separately, the district is moving forward on its formal family diversity curriculum that the school board originally approved in 1992. Those lessons include books that show children being raised by same-sex parents.

The Web site – at
www.healthiersf.org/lgbtq – is meant to give educators tools and resources to address LGBT topics by creating a repository of current information and curriculum. It also will provide staff with resources to support a safer learning environment for all students."

This is about a site made available by the San Francisco School Board with curriculum provided by the School Board to teach primary school children about diversity (LGBT) in families. While their desire to teach children not to tease or put-down or harass is commendable the idea of offering young children in a public school a curriculum that gives absolutes on what a family consist of is horrendous.

Here is the page that has the curriculum on it, although the books and reading material does not seem to be available. Go

Here are some questions from part of the curriculum called
Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, which is designed for even kindergarden children.

"Programs Department Student Support Services San Francisco Unified School District 3 Part Two: Reading/Discussion “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding”

• Introduce the book, Uncle Bobby’s Wedding. Show the students the cover of the book, read the title, and ask students to predict what the story will be about.

• Briefly review the brainstorm list before reading Uncle Bobby’s Wedding to the class. Inform the students that the main character is a guinea pig that experiences a change in her family. Tell them to be aware of the feelings she experiences and how she copes with them.

• Read the story

• Discussion (after reading)

• What change was happening in Chloe’s family? (Her Uncle Bobby was getting married.)

• Do you have two uncles or two aunts who are married? (At this time you might need to state: “This is called gay” and define the term for students.) Students may also state that they have two moms or two dads who are married. Refer to vocabulary list.

• Do you know any other adults who are gay and in a relationship? Are they married?

• What were Chloe’s feelings about the change? (She was sad and jealous.)

• Why was she experiencing those feelings? (She felt that Uncle Bobby wouldn’t have time for her, or that she’d be displaced.)

• How did she express her sadness and jealousy? (She sat apart from the family.)

• How were her feelings resolved? (She spoke to her mother. Uncle Bobby took a walk with her and talked to her, he made her feel reassured. Together with Jamie they went out to eat, to sail, and they planned the wedding – including her as the flower girl.)

• Do you think that Chloe was concerned that her Uncle Bobby was marrying another male? (No, but this will elicit concerns students might have).

• How would you feel if your favorite uncle or aunt was getting married? How would you resolve any negative feelings?"

All LGBT persons should be treated with love, respect and care, Jesus Christ loves them. But children should not be made the guinea pigs for a newly ordered but sinful society. Who will now care about the children and parents who because of their faithness to Jesus will need to gather their children into their arms and say "Jesus loves all people, all children, and you must too. But living as a gay person in a marriage is sinful. God does not want you to do that" ? Jesus Christ will of course be there and he will care.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wicca: from my Christian perspective: a series

Since in my last posting I mentioned neo-pagans and Wicca I have decided to post an article I wrote several years ago and placed on my web site, Naming the Grace. The article is about Wicca and I will post it over several days.

"My place in society has become so altered. I work, I contribute, but I have become invisible." The woman, a nurse and mother whose children are grown, had just experienced a hysterectomy. Using ritual, she attempts to deal with loss and seeks direction. In a wilderness area she removes her clothes. She and a friend cover themselves with red clay rune symbols. They bury the remains of the operation in a part of her wedding dress. They perform a ritual using chants and hand motions. After the burial they both play a flute while placing a feather and crystals on the burial spot.1

Other women tell of performing rituals to deal with depression and anger because of rape. They write of rituals performed for peace or simply used as celebration. These women, as well as some men, are part of a movement referred to as the Neo-Pagan Movement. Wicca is a distinct part of the Neo-Pagan Movement.

Wicca adherents call themselves witches and generally belong to a local Wicca Coven. They worship a great Mother Goddess, and in some cases, her consort, the Horned God. Some Wicca Covens focus on feminine spirituality and admit only women; other groups admit both genders.

In many ways adherents of Wicca are a protest movement against religions which allow only male leadership.2 The movement is also attractive to women searching for a spirituality that honors the female desire to nurture, celebrate and be in community. These groups attract the romantic in all persons, that is, human awe in the presence of nature.

They also attract those who consider ritual an important part of worship. Wicca is a religion whose adherents usually start the journey with a strong desire to affirm individuals and the natural world. They desire to embrace community and creativity. Their Pagan system, however, strangely ends in a world divorced of any kind of understanding that would bind those needs together and validate them.

Wiccans base their belief structure on a theory that the first deity worshiped was female and intrinsically connected with earth and fertility. Denise Lardner Carmody in her book Women and World Religions, writes of this theory, and connects it to "ancient peoples" and their sense of the sacred which she believes they equated with "the womb of a cosmic mother."3 Likewise, many Neo-Pagan believers refer to the work of Marija Gimbutas and expound her views of a matriarchal civilization in old Europe centered around a goddess religion.

This view entails a belief in a golden age without warfare. While mainstream scholarship disputes this theory, most Wiccan groups insist on its authenticity and hold it as a basis for their religious viewpoint.4

Although Wicca devotees often sound polytheistic, believing in many gods, they are generally pantheistic or panentheistic. That is, they equate creation with deity. (Panentheism is the belief that creation is a part of God although not all of God.) The great Mother Goddess, as well as her male consort, are usually symbols of the "one" reality. Often, many different goddesses (ancient and new), are used as symbols for the Great Mother Goddess. Within this scheme some Wiccans can claim to be both polytheist and pantheist.5

Since the Goddess is the main symbol for reality or deity in the Wicca religion, understanding that symbol is perhaps the best way of understanding Wicca's belief structures. Starhawk, a Wicca devotee, in her book, The Spiral Dance:a Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of The Great Goddess, writes:

"The Goddess has infinite aspects and thousands of names--She is the reality behind many metaphors. She is reality, the manifest deity, omnipresent in all of life, in each of us. The Goddess is not separate from the world--she is the world, and all things in it: moon, earth, star, stone, seed, flowing river, wind, wave, leaf and branch, bud and blossom, fang and claw, woman and man."6

Diane Stein, a priestess in a women's spirituality group, in her book, The Women's Spirituality Book, writes of the Goddess, "Since the goddess is everyone within and all around us, the powers of divinity and creation are both individual and shared by all."7 Carol Christ, author of Diving Deep and Surfacing and Rebirth of the Goddess, evaluated the symbolism of the Goddess from other women's perspectives. She placed them in three categories and saw them all as related to women's experience. She writes:

"(1) the Goddess is divine female, a personification who can be invoked in prayer and ritual; (2) the goddess is symbol of the life, death, and rebirth energy in nature and culture, in personal and communal life; and (3) the Goddess is symbol of the affirmation of the legitimacy and beauty of female power . . . .8"

1. Barbara Sciacca, "Honoring Our bodies, Honoring Our lives," Woman Of Power, 19 Winter 1991, 63.

2.It should be noted at this point that both sociologically and theologically many radical Feminists in the mainline churches share similar world views as those involved in witchcraft. For instance, see Aida Besancon Spencer et. al., The Goddess Revival, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995); Viola Larson, "Contemporary Feminist Ethics And Theology: Sharon D. Welch, Rosemary Radford Ruether, and Mary Daly" in " An Exploration: Feminist Ethics And The Principles of Orthodox Christianity" ( MA Thesis, California State University, Sacramento, 1994, 40-66.

3.Denise Lardner Carmody, Women & World Religions, second ed. 9 New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1989 ), 18.

4.Vicki Noble, "Marija Gimbutas: Reclaiming the Great Goddess," Snake Power, vol. 1 (October 31 ), 1989. For interesting arguments and references refuting Gimbutas' theories see Richard Smoley, "The Old Religion," Gnois: A Journel of the Western Inner Traditions, no. 48 ( summer, 1998 ) 12.

5.Judy Harrow, "Explaining Wicca," Gnosis: A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions, no.48 ( Summer, 1998), 22.

6. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of The Ancient Religion of The Great Goddess, tenth anniversary ed. 9 San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1989 ), 22.

7. Diane Stein, The Women's Spirituality Book, ( St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1987 ), 2.

8.Carol P. Christ, "Why Women Need the Goddess: Phenomenological, Psychological, and Political Reflections," Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion, Carol P, Christ and Judith Plaskow, eds. ( San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988 ), 278.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Jesus severed from Scriptures: New Age Anthropology

In his article, On Being Human and & Divine: Reflections & blessings at Easter, Michael Adee, field organizer of MLP, reaches far outside of Scripture in his word to More Light Presbyterians. He, in fact, seems to linger on the edge of New Age ideology. Not only does Adee continue to see homosexual sex as good, he embraces the divinity of humanity and encourages others to do so too.

It isn’t that Adee is denying the material world as Gnostics often do; he believes creation to be good. But, equating the idea of Jesus being human and divine with an understanding that humans are also divine, while at the same time embracing creation, is the basic world view of New Agers and Neo-Pagans.

Adee points to author Kathleen Norris and her understanding that the liberal emphasizes the humanity of Jesus too much, while the conservative emphasizes the divinity of Jesus too much. He quotes Norris:

“The orthodox Christian seeks another way, that of living with paradox, of accepting the ways that seeming dualities work together in Jesus Christ, in our own lives. For me, this has meant trying to hear the gospels in a way that allows me to reject a simplistic dualism in the interest of a creative tension between flesh and spirit, faith and reason, even God and Caesar.”

Adee uses this statement to write, “Our own Church and too many other religious traditions seem to resist relaxing into and embracing this natural and creative tension that Norris speaks of between flesh and spirit, sexuality and spirituality, of being human and divine.” (Italics mine)

Insisting on seeing humans as a "natural and creative tension" of human and divine, Adee includes the thought in his ending proclamation, “And, may all of us experience peace of heart and mind this Easter by embracing the inescapable paradox of being children of God, flesh and spirit, human and divine.” (Italics mine)

Probably unknown to Adee, topping off a rather Neo-Pagan view of humanity, he ends with a Neo-Pagan blessing. That is, “blessed be,” which has its origins among members of Wicca.

In all of this a thread is running, a theology that is disconnected from the Scriptures. Moreover, and terribly important at this time in the life of the Church, is the disconnect between the Jesus of Scriptures and a free floating Jesus who can be made the servant of any ideology.

Here is another important reason not to vote yes on amendment B.

The authors of amendment B sever Jesus Christ, the living Word, from the written word. In their rationale for the amendment they write, “Although the hierarchy of the church’s authority is clear, it is subverted by the current language of G-6.0106b, which substitutes for our obedience to Christ two concepts that are foreign to Reformed understanding: “obedience” to Scripture and “conformity” to the confessions.”

With that statement and with amendment B they are preparing Presbyterians, such as Adee, to fall into grave error concerning humanity and their relationship with Jesus Christ. They are opening the door to a thousand theologies foreign to the Christian faith since they will be based in a Jesus unattached to the Scriptures.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Missional & renewal; boundary keeping and evangelism

A lot of people are talking about missional, asking what the term means and how ministry can be missional. The discussion is widely diverse. Those who are progressive and those who are orthodox or evangelical have differing opinions. I often think about this in terms of conversations that started almost twenty years ago in what at the time was called “cult ministry.”

It was that conversation that changed, for many of us, the name cult ministry to “ministry to New Religions. That is because the conversation was about not only keeping boundaries in the Church, keeping out false teaching, but it was also about winning members of the various new groups to Jesus Christ. It is hard to introduce a person to Jesus Christ when you have just stated they belong to a cult.

But as can be expected the various sides in the debate took a wide range of views. And those in ministry were faced with complex issues; it is always like that. There is a progressive side in the debate. They are the people who are usually religious studies researchers, teachers and journalist combined with an unhelpful view of who Jesus Christ is. They often become detractors to those engaged in ministry.

They believe one should only write about what people believe from a sociological or cultural anthropological view.

But there is a part of their activity that is very helpful to those engaged in ministry. That is they provide studies of various groups that help the Christian understand what the New Religions believe. And much more than that they often provide statistical and even psychological information which helps those in ministry understand why people become involved in some groups.

Yet because of unbelief or pluralism they also engage in their own kind of error.

On the other end of this spectrum are those who would only write about false teaching. They didn’t and don’t major on how to lead the lost to Jesus Christ. And generally they don’t write or participate in any activity that is evangelistic.

Some are very concerned to both evangelize and help others understand error. A friend and his wife in the past have held neighborhood book studies where they were often the only Christians. At the same time he runs a wonderful ministry Apologia Report. Boundary keeping, evangelism and missional thinking are not exclusive terms.

I see the progressives in the Church talking about missional in terms of social justice activity and since many progressives, not all, are pluralist they are probably not interested in seeing others come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I believe they would like others to see Jesus as a good man, someone to model, to have him lifted up as important, but they would not evangelize. (I realize this is not true of all.)

On the other hand are those who are orthodox and evangelical and are involved in the renewal of the Church. Most of these people, including myself, want to see others come to Jesus Christ, they are praying for conversion in the Church but they are also standing against the errors engulfing the Church. And then there are the missional groups whose main concern is finding ways for the Church to participle in mission in our culture. They really want to do mission. They mostly want to find ways to tell others about Jesus Christ.

Generally both progressive and orthodox understand that Christian calling includes helping the needy and the oppressed. But if the progressive, but missional minded, consider mission only social justice, and the orthodox and evangelical consider missional reaching out to the lost with the good news of forgiveness through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, there will be conflict. There has to be conflict. There should be conflict. Jesus Christ is the defining term here. How he is viewed will determine what missional means.

So, as I have said in another place both the orthodox missional groups and the orthodox renewal groups need to have both Christian apology (defending the truth) and evangelism (speaking to the lost) in their heart and at their core. One may major more on one aspect or another but in such trying times both missional ministry and renewal ministry are needed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

May his blood be upon us and our children: a prayer

This morning, Good Friday morning, part of my devotional reading was that place in Matthew where the Jewish people, gathered before Pilate, said, "His blood shall be on us and our children." As I read that I thought of how through the centuries some have tried to see that as a curse on the Jewish people.

And yet God takes such words and uses them as prayer and prophecy. Isn't that our prayer as Christians that his blood will be upon us and our children. That we will be made clean, whole and new because of that blood he shed on the cross.

We hardly notice Pilate's statement which seems to be the opposite of the Hebrews. Pilate pleads innocent of the blood of Jesus and washes his hands. But none of us are innocent. Pilate was guilty of the death of Christ. And so are we all.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Jesus died, was resurrected and that changes sexuality?

I feel like starting this posting off with, “on the way to the resurrection I encountered a natural case of homosexual sex.” But not really! On the new blog of Voices of Sophia, Heather W. Reichgott has posted an essay about the resurrection. But it is also about how the resurrection entails changing the way people have sex. It is actually an apologia for homosexual sex. It is entitled Resurrection and natural law: a feminist perspective.

The basic point is that since God changed the laws of nature to allow for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, he undoubtedly has began a process through the resurrection of changing other natural laws, e.g. the naturalness of heterosexual sex.

Referring to Elizabeth Stuart and her article “Queering Death,” Reichgott writes, “Meditating on the resurrection account in the gospel of John, Stuart claims that the resurrection undoes the necessity of this pattern [heterosexual sex, and reproduction] , for it undoes the finality of death.”

Reichgott concludes that “the process between natural process and ethical necessity has been broken completely by the resurrection,” and goes on to state that “If God’s plan for life and death is not limited by the grave, then there is no reason to believe God’s plan for gender is limited by the natural process of heterosexual reproduction.”

One could come at this by a thousand ways. But I believe an important way is to simply say that death was never meant to be natural but entered, what C.S. Lewis called “the Silent Planet,” because of the disobedience of humanity. Jesus Christ did not come to break natural laws, but to restore what had been broken. Something large is missing here-how could the biblical understanding that Jesus came to live, die and be resurrected for sinful humanity get changed to Jesus died and was resurrected in order that one might sin with impunity.

And here is another thought. When Jesus redeems us we are united to him. It is his righteousness, his holiness, his life we share. How is it that in our union to Jesus Christ we could possibly live habitually in unrepentant sin since he is our life? The natural law of sin and death has not been broken for those who reject the utter graciousness of Christ. They will die the final death, the everlasting death. But those who belong to Jesus Christ will be abundantly fed by Jesus Christ in this life and experience the glorious life of Christ eternally.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:35)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Something for Holy Week

This is not very Presbyterian I know, but it is full of the love of Jesus Christ. And it is about Holy Week and Jesus Christ. Keith Green, when he first began to sing about Jesus, came to Ware House Ministries to hold concerts. That is the Church my husband and I, and our six children attended over twenty years ago. A lot of us are talking about missional these days; this was God's idea of missional for the very early seventies and on. A lot of broken, hippie young people, wearied of their summer's of free love, drugs and gurus, started looking for reality. God was already there reaching for them. The love of Jesus Christ met them even on the nudest beaches of Southern California and in the midst of the wilting flower children of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The new FOG and the person of Jesus Christ

In a rather relaxing manner, I copied out “The Foundations of Presbyterian Polity,” and started reading through it as a way of focusing on other writing subjects I needed to do. I thought I would just skim read before working on something else. As I read I noted here and there things I liked and those that bothered me.

But I begin to feel uneasy by the constant use of “Christ” without the addition of Jesus. Jesus is there once in a great while but generally the name is missing. It is perfectly biblical to do that, the confessions and the Scriptures also use just Christ at times but not to the constant exclusion of the name Jesus. Also, importantly, the “Word of God” is used in place of Jesus.

And then I came to this line in chapter two titled “The Church and Its Confessions,” under the subtitle, “F-2.03 The Confessions as Statements of the Faith of the Church Catholic:”

“The Confessions express the faith of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in the recognition of canonical Scriptures and the formulation and adoption of the ecumenical creeds, notably the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds with their definitions of the mystery of the Triune God and of the incarnation of the eternal Word of God in Jesus Christ.” (My emphasis)

While this may be just sloppy language, the constant disuse of the name Jesus amplifies a problem here. That statement could mean that the eternal Son came into a man (Jesus) anointed by the Holy Spirit. And that is heresy.

In F-2.02, the authors of the paper do refer to Jesus Christ as the Word of God, writing that the confessions are subject to him as the “Scriptures bear witness to him.” That is another problem to return to another time. But the problem here is that the mainline denominations are so full of the heresy of dividing Christ from the historical Jesus that orthodoxy in this paper needs to be strengthened. Two examples of such heretical thinking, used by mainline pastors, including Presbyterian pastors, is in the writings of John Shelby Spong and Marcus Borg.

Another example is Elizabeth A. Johnson who is often used by the more progressive pastors and theologians of the Church. In fact Johnson’s book, She Who Is, is quoted, (as helpful) in the document “Well Chosen Words,” written by what was the Women’s Ministry Area and is now called All Women in the Church.

In her book Johnson writes, “The fundamental nature of Christian identity as life in Christ makes clear that the biblical symbol Christ, the one anointed in the Spirit, cannot be restricted to the historical person Jesus nor to certain select members of the community but signifies all those who drinking of the Spirit participate in the community of disciples.” (162)

With that kind of heresy infiltrating the Church it is very important for the authors of the FOG document to be very clear with their language usage. For that reason I offer some important clarity from the Confessions.

Here are some statements about the Incarnation from the Confessions:

The Nicene:
“[We believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only- begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man …”

The Scots Confession

“When the fullness of time came God sent his Son, his eternal wisdom, the substance of his own glory, into the world, who took the nature of humanity from the substance of a woman, a virgin, by means of the Holy Ghost. And so was born the ‘just seed of David,’ the ‘Angel of the great counsel of God,’ the very Messiah promised, whom we confess and acknowledge to be Emmanuel, true God and true man, two perfect natures united and joined in one person. So by our confession we condemn the damnable and pestilent heresies of Arius, Marcion, Eutyches, Nestorius, and such others as did either deny the eternity of his Godhead, or the truth of his humanity, or confounded them, or else divided them.”

The quote from the new FOG seemingly divides the natures. Added to this, the constant use of Christ without reference to Jesus simply amplifies the problem.

The Creed of Chalcedon

While the text to this creed is not found in the Presbyterian (USA) Book of Confessions, it is referenced in the index and found in “The Second Helvetic Confession.” It too is one of the ecumenical creeds of Christendom. The Second Helvetic Confession states:

“And to say many things with a few words, with a sincere heart, we believe, and freely confess with open mouth, whatever things are defined from the Holy Scriptures concerning the mystery of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and are summed up in the Creeds and decrees of the first four most excellent synods convened at Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon—together with the Creed of blessed Athanasius, and all similar symbols; and we condemn everything contrary to these.” (5.078)

And so Chalcedon states:

“Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.” (My emphasis)

The point here as above, Jesus Christ is the eternal Word of the Father. The eternal word is not in Jesus Christ but is Jesus Christ.

The Westminster Confession of Faith:

"The Son of God, the second Person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof; yet without sin: being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.” (6.044)(My emphasis)

If the wording about Jesus Christ as it is stated in “The Foundations of Presbyterian Polity,” in F-2.03, is voted in, as far as I am concerned the Church will be in apostasy. Jesus Christ is the eternal word, he is not a man incarnated by the eternal word.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Jesus on the cross 2

"From its earliest era, the church has applied to Christ in his passion the words of the fourth 'Song of the Suffering Servant' from the book of Isaiah (Isa. 52:13-53:12)--thinking of them, indeed, as a direct prophecy of the passion. Here we read that 'there was no beauty in him to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him' (Isa. 53:2-3). As Barth says, 'Jesus Christ does present this aspect of Himself, and He always presents this aspect first. It is not self-evident that even--and precisely--under this aspect he has form and comeliness, that the beauty of God shines especially under this aspect. . . . We cannot know this of ourselves. It can only be given to us.' Yet to Christian faith, it is given that Christ is --precisely in the cross--the supreme revelation of God's being, God's 'form,' 'glory,' and 'beauty.' The transcendent 'beauty' and 'light' of God, then, must embrace also 'the abysmal darkness into which the Crucified plunges." (The Beauty of the Cross: The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts--from the Catacombs to the Eve of the Renaissance, by Richard Viladesau.)

May all of us, the Church, God's people, boast only "in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." (a Gal 6:14)

From an earlier posting December 16, 2007 The Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Art, History & Truth

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Michael Adee's answer about last words and following Jesus 2

"Jesus answered , 'The foremost is 'Hear O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is this 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.'" (Mark 29-31)

In my last posting I wrote of Michael Adee’s question about the last word on what it means to be Presbyterian, a Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ. His choice was between two statements by pastors in the PC(USA). According to Adee one statement was positive the other negative.

The pastors, Ron Scates of Highland Presbyterian Church and the other Kathy Collier of First Presbyterian Church in Forney were both speaking about the passage of amendment B in Grace Presbytery in Texas.

Scates spoke of his serious concerns about the future of the Church in America. He suggested that when such an amendment passed the Presbyterian Church would fly apart. Collier felt it was time for GLBTs to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church and saw this as God’s desire. She stated “this is the God who calls us to be open, loving and welcoming to all of God's children --- and that all of us are God's children, part of God's good creation, not just some of us.” (Emphasis Adee’s)

Adee went on to demean Scates’ statement writing “In many ways, the contrast between Collier and Scates' statements may indeed reflect and reveal two profoundly different understandings of God's creation, faith, Scripture, ministry and what it means to be the Church. Frankly, I see, experience and feel "grace" in one and "law" in the other.” (Emphasis Adee’s)

Adee answered his question about which is the best picture of Presbyterians, Christians and followers of Jesus. “For me, Jesus paints the picture for all of us as recorded in the Gospel of Mark 12: 28 - 31 when he was asked what was the most important commandment. Jesus said: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all of your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Emphasis Adee’s)

And of course his answer is right! But he has picked the wrong person to image that picture with their words. R. Alan Cole in his commentary on Mark writes of these verses:

“In this summary, the heart of true religion is seen to lie, not in negative commands, but in a positive loving attitude to God and others. This is the Pauline ‘liberty’ of the New Testament (Gal. 5:1) This is what Augustine means by saying ‘love and do as you like,’ for such love towards God and others will do nothing to work them hurt and, if we love God, what we like and choose will be to do God’s will and pleasure (Ps. 40:8). That is why Paul can say ‘Love is the fulfilling of the law’ (Rom.13:10).”

God’s will and pleasure is to bring the sinner home, to transform the sinner, to give abundant life to repentant sons and daughters.

Sometimes Christians in their love of Christ find that doing the will of God, bending to his pleasure, means taking the lonely road. Like the prophets who loved God, and certainly loved God’s people, their words sometimes must warn with sorrow. And beyond the warning, love for God and others leads the Christian to proclaim a message of Grace. Not antinomianism, not the right to live outside the will of God, not cheap grace but the costly grace of Christ.

Grace enfolds the sinner in love, God’s love. It does not leave her to the howling wolves or the dark side of human nature. Instead it leads her to the cross of Jesus Christ. I would recommend Scates' picture of the Church to any evangelism committee working on outreach in their community, to a confirmation class or youth group. Why?

Because sometimes in order to say I love you to our brothers and sisters as well as the unbeliever, we have to say this is wrong and the Father loved you enough to allow his Son to die for you.

"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Michael Adee's question about last words and following Jesus 1

Some of the last words spoken by a once vibrant Christianity in seventeenth century Japan were spoken from crosses placed far enough into the sea that at tide time the one on the cross would suffer from the sea as will as the cross.

Truly, words spoken for Jesus Christ are important to the whole Church. Although they may not always be positive about the immediate future they will always be enfolded into the faithfulness of Jesus Christ toward his Church.

An essay on the More Light Presbyterian Site demeans the words of one pastor while upholding the words of another. Michael Adee of more light has quoted Rev. Ron Scates of Highland Park Presbyterian Church and Rev. Kathy Collier of First Presbyterian of Forney about the vote on amendment B taken in the Grace Presbytery meeting.

In the article that Adee is quoting from, the reporter, Sam Hodges, writes that Collier “supported the change, saying it was past time for the denomination to accept qualified pastoral candidates regardless of their sexual orientation.

'This is a call from God for us to welcome all of God's children,' she said after the vote.”

The reporter also quotes Scates, “The P.C. (U.S.A.) is just one symptom of the greater demise of the American church, which has lost its biblical moorings."

Hodges continues, “Scates added that he's confident the language will not be changed in this national vote, but he wasn't so sure about the next time.”

‘It may pass, in which case you're going to see the P.C. (U.S.A.) fly apart,’ he said.”

Adee, demeaning the words of Scates with a statement writes, "I would not recommend Scates' picture of the Church to an evangelism committee working on outreach in their community, to a confirmation class or youth group, or frankly consider it a life-giving one for my own heart and soul."

He goes on to ask the question, “Based upon these 2 statements and their connotations which are only snapshots, of course, which picture of God, faith and the Church, essentially of Christianity, do you want to prevail? Which picture do you want to be "the last word" about what it means to be Presbyterian, to be Christian, to be a follower of Christ?”

Interesting question. Undoubtedly the most important question that can be asked now or ever of Christians. Strange, all I can think of at the moment are the words of Jesus, the Lord of the church, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10b)

So let me rephrase Jesus' words so that it will answer that question. Being Presbyterian (hopefully), Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ, means being faithful to Jesus Christ even unto death.

And to go further being faithful to Jesus Christ means that sometimes Christians will need to be faithful when everything is flying apart, when evil seems to have taken the day, when crosses are washed with sea water.

There is another part of Adee's essay I will address perhaps in the next day--about loving God.