Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Questions about violence?

Yesterday on CHURCHandWORLD.com, Presbyweb it was announced that Jin S Kim was the second person to enter their name in the race for Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Hans Cornelder, General Editor of CHURCHandWORLD, linked to the Outlook which carried the announcement. He also linked to Kim’s bio on his Church page, Church of All Nations. Always happy to read other people’s blogs I went exploring Kim’s blog, New Church Rising.

I was stunned to say the least. And yes it was the violence that stunned me. To be clearer, it was Kim’s statement that I was violent that stunned me. Oh, he didn’t use my name. But he did say, after defaming the left, that “On the hard Right, they intimidate the church with the threat of withholding money, use character assassination among their own ranks for anyone not “in line”, and endlessly threaten schism if they don’t get there (sic)way. Some may call this politics as usual. I call this violence.”

Well, no I haven’t used character assassination against anybody involved in the renewal groups. But then I don’t know anyone else who has either. They may disagree with each other every so often, or even point out what they think is wrong, but character assassination? No.

And then the withholding money part, I guess he is writing about per-capita. Well that isn’t a poll tax. My church withholds per-capita. And I agree with their decision. That must make me violent, not that I carry around a gun or anything like that. I just disagree with some of the recent actions taken by several General Assemblies.

And it seems to me that the right to withhold per-capita is one of the good things about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I have in the past worked with members of abusive churches. Such churches, called sociological cults, tell their members what to do in all areas of their private life. And they practice all kinds of manipulative tactics. One of the biggest problems in such churches is the attempt at making members feel guilty about their actions when they criticize leadership. Presbyterians are allowed such freedom. I praise God for such freedom.

And then that thought that the ‘hard right’ or the renewal groups or orthodox/ evangelical churches, ‘endlessly threaten schism if they don’t get their way’? Really, who is Kim writing about? Some churches have left because they believe they must in order to be faithful. Many are staying because they believe God has called them to faithfulness in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). And here is something else that socially cultic churches do; it’s called the double bind. That is, they tell their members that they most do something but when they do it criticize them in someway for doing it.

Well isn’t it a double bind to insist that churches must stay in the denomination and then criticize them when they stay and as faithful member’s of Christ’s body speak their mind on issues relating to the Church?

Kim attempts to use Jesus’ statement that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life to criticize both the left and the right. He says that the left believes that the truth lies in a grace so great it allows the ordination of practicing homosexuals. And that the right believes “that the truth lies in the Bible and its seemingly plain teaching that homosexual practice is beyond scriptural bounds.” He goes on to say that both are welling to crush each other in order to gain their truth.

I can’t speak for the left. In fact I can’t speak for the right; I can only speak as one who wants to be faithful to Jesus Christ. This is something I believe is true for all of my brothers and sisters who consider themselves orthodox. It’s about faithfulness to Jesus Christ not crushing anyone. He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). In Jesus we know truth because we know him. In Jesus we have life because we have him. In Jesus we have access to the Father because he is the way to the Father. If faithfulness to our Lord means others, even those who are our sisters and brothers call us violent; still, with his help we will be faithful.


Pastor Bob said...

Hmm . . .

Tully Memorial doesn't withhold per captia. The Session does designate all of its giving. Some goes to Presbyterian causes and some do not. It does mean, as I have found in several of the congregations I have served that there is a serious problem of trust of the larger denomination among elders on the Session. And while I would not encourage them to give in an undesignated way I have tried to steer them towards more programs of the denomination. I think designation brings a closer tie between congregation and mission. This includes yearly designation to the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance fund ever since Katrina.

Does that make us violent?

Interesting questions to as him.

Viola Larson said...

Perhaps you should: )

Anonymous said...


Violence can be physical or verbal. One only needs read blogs, Presbyterian in this case, to know this true. I don’t exempt myself from such criticism from time to time. And yes I’m sure Rev. Kim was speaking specifically about you?

I am also sure that Jin S Kim views on the left/right feud are wide-spread in this church. And with good reason. As the General Assembly approaches, the clouds are building. War rooms have been booked, Strategies are being planned. The canned overtures have been sent out. Commissioners are getting the once over by both groups. Friendly commissioners will soon get there marching orders. The list goes on.

Aren’t you just a little bit tired? I am. Like you I’ve been down in the muck.

John McNeese
Ponca City, OK

Dave Hackett said...

Viola, whether or not Rev. Kim was speaking of you, I do think it's worth critiquing the very popular but easy-out game of creating moral equivalencies on the left and right.

Rather than engage with the arguments of either or both ends (as though it's only two positions), some rather unfairly simply make them moral equivalents and dismiss them both. I don't think this deals with the very real (and arguably valid) positions; it's just a way of attempting to say you rise above the fray. There are better ways to rise above the fray than to be dismissive through simplistic lumping.

Neil D. Cowling said...

Viola, any nit wit can see that Jin Kim was referring to both the left and the right in using this sentence: "Some may call this politics as usual. I call this violence."

Viola Larson said...

I didn't say he wasn't. Nit-Wit- or not!

Viola Larson said...

An explanation to anyone that misunderstands: I didn't really mean that Kim was picking on me; I meant that anyone that fits into his categories of with-holding money, etc. might as well have their name listed there. I was trying to show what a personal thing that was. So a bad job on my part I guess.

Neil D. Cowling said...

Viola, you implied that he was only referring to the right by only quoting that part of the paragraph. The way right and left go at each other looks like politics as usual (perhaps a war?)and that looks like violence.

Hyperbole?? Of course!

Viola Larson said...

I had too many people passing through my house yesterday and didn't have time to say much. But I really appreciate your thoughts. I think you have it exactly right. God doesn’t allow us, sometimes, most of the time, to stay away from the gritty issues that the Church must deal with. We all often make a mess out of it because we are all sinners, but nonetheless we still need to take our stand in those places where God demands it of us. We just need to take on more of His grace.

Viola Larson said...

No Neil I just focused on the right because it isn't my place to make comments for the left. And also I think that what Dave wrote applies here also.

John Shuck said...

I am inclined to agree with Dave. Playing the middle with overgeneralizations of the "extremes" is a common tactic.

"Vote for me. I am Goldilocks and just right."

This assumes that the two extremes are equal in power and that there is some kind of magical third way.

The truth is we are not dealing with equal sides. We are dealing with a group of people denied ordination.

In the end there will be one of two outcomes, they will be allowed ordination or the status quo will continue.

Playing the middle as Mr. Kim does, reinforces the status quo. He is in a sense, your ally, Viola.

John Shuck
Elizabethton, TN

Anonymous said...

I also with a slight chuckle notice Dr. Kim's mentioning of the "hard Right" in the PC(USA). If he thinks the "right" in the PC(USA) is "hardliner" I must be a Fascist or a Theocrat of some sort.

Anonymous said...

Benjamin P. Glaser
Sarver, PA

Noel said...

The PCUSA has no hard right; they all left decades ago. From a larger point-of-view, we have a spectrum from the far Left to slightly-right-of-moderate.

Viola is correct in pointing out the absurd hyperbole of Rev. Kim's word choice. Spirited rhetoric is the civilized alternative to violence—no one is harmed or prohibited from reasonable response. To compare the careful—even heated—expressions of religious conviction with real violence (which we all detest and abhor) is boorish, crass and inaccurate.

This isn't about war and warfare; it's about the PCUSA struggling to give birth to new mission. Just because it's not "a pretty scene" doesn't mean that something good and meaningful isn't being attempted.

Let's pray the mother survives and that the child is whole and healthy.

Viola Larson said...

I will and have been praying for that mother and child Noel.

Neil D. Cowlin said...

That is a bit of a cop out. Are you telling me that you can not comment on an entire paragraph, only the sentences that you think applies to you? Give me a break. Jin made a bad choice of a word. I have seen it before by others. Otherwise, this is much ado about nothing. How about instead of violence we call it "rank idiocy."

Viola Larson said...

You sound extremely angry and I am not sure why. I have already said that I wasn't denying that Kim aimed the idea of violence at both the right and the left. I also said I would let the left speak for themselves. Why does that upset you so much?

One of the interesting, as well as troubling things to me is that Kim seems unaware that many on the left are moving into a position of denying not only Christ but even the idea of God. If it was only John Shuck I wouldn’t write anything, but when his Presbytery ignores that and the Witherspoon Society recommends his words and his blog it leaves me with an awareness that this isn't about homosexuality but instead about rejection of Christ and his word. And although I know there are many good people out there who have a high Christology, like Mark Achtemeier, still I see many moving totally away from Christianity. That leaves me with additional thoughts about the similarities Kim is attempting to make between the left and the right. Just thinking out loud, maybe I should blog on my thoughts.

John Shuck said...

Please, Viola. It isn't about me and it isn't about you.

E-ton, TN

Viola Larson said...

You are right John, It is about Jesus.

Neil D. Cowling said...

No, I am not angry. I sometimes can get a little sharp. "Rank idiocy" was a bit of overkill, thus "violent," but I have seen much of it this week.

My fuss was not about whether you speak for the right or the left but rather the construction of your comments in light of the entire paragraph. You did not "seem" to get it.

I am sure, from personal contact and conversation, that Jin is fully aware "that many on the left are moving into a position of denying not only Christ but even the idea of God."

By the way, God is not an idea, but you seem to know that. We do not worship an idea. One does not crucify an idea.

John Shuck said...

Then keep it about Jesus and not about me (or my presbytery or Witherspoon)! Then folks won't confuse you with a busybody. : )


Debbie said...

John Shuck, sounds like according to you, when you blog you're just a cool intellectual guy writing insightful stuff, but when people with traditional theological views blog, they're busybodies. Very open-minded of you.

Kattie W. Coon said...


Your use of sarcasm toward John might raise "questions about violence", n'est-ce pas?

Huntsville, Al

Craig said...


And that would be wrong, right. We know that no one over in Shuckytown would ever address anyone in a way that was not the essence of respect and love n'est-ce pas?

Viola Larson said...


You need to leave your full name, city and state to post again.
Thanks. I know often we don't but we are suppose to: -)

Viola Larson
Sacramento, Ca

Craig said...


My Bad.

Craig Norton
Twin Cities MN