Monday, February 22, 2010

The Cross: new religions, new theologies and the only difference in a pluralistic society 2



F.F. Bruce and J. Denny’s commentary [see end of the first posting] are important in light of the attacks occurring on the theology of atonement and in the context of religious evil.

First, God’s desires for Old Testament people are not different than His desires for New Testament people. His desire is that sacrifice be made with a willing heart; the desire to obey God was all-important. In the Old Testament the willing heart was bound-up with the sacrificial animal. However, only Jesus Christ could offer that perfect willing obedience. He made the perfect sacrifice and was the perfect sacrifice.

To eliminate Jesus as sacrifice on the cross is also to destroy the theology of the Old Testament. Secondly, Christ’s death on the cross was not just the Father’s will it was the “spontaneous choice” of Jesus Christ. Atonement theology is infused with the doctrine of the Trinity. To redo or give up the meaning of the atonement tends to eliminate the Trinity.

Thirdly, the understanding that “the atonement explains the incarnation” clarifies the biblical understanding of God’s purpose in the incarnation. If a theologian says that for our salvation the incarnation “would be enough,” but fails to acknowledge the redemptive purpose of the cross they simply do not understand the biblical view of the incarnation. The biblical statements of the purposes of God concerning the incarnation are very clear. Peter’s first sermon emphasizes the purpose and meaning of the incarnation in the death of Christ on the cross. “This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” (Acts2: 23) Furthermore, Paul writes to the Colossians:

"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 blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Colossians1: 19,20)"

The final important note is that the sacrifice is “once for all.” This also speaks about the God of the Old Testament, who is of course the compassionate God of the New Testament. His grace of redemption covers all of the scripture, both old and new. The scripture confirms all of this:

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:8-10)"

There have been several theories of atonement theology through more than a thousand years of Church history. Thomas Oden in his book The Word Of Life points out “four essential types of atonement exegesis.” He names “exemplar [moral influence], governor, exchange, and victor motifs.” Oden believes that these are all incomplete without each other. He writes, “They are best viewed as complementary tendencies rather than as cohesive schools of thought represented by a single theorist.”
9

Although Oden explains each giving both their usefulness and problems, I want to look at the one connected to Abelard since that is the one which has gained popularity with those wishing to eliminate the atonement as the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.10

First, it is true that the death of Jesus Christ for sinners should cause us to want to follow Him and to live a life of self-giving. That is very biblical. However, most of the theologians attempting to use Abelard’s view wish to eliminate God’s part in this act. That is, they do not believe that it was necessary for God the Father to send His Son to die for our sins. Rather they believe Jesus was killed for political reasons because He was friends of the poor and the outcasts of society. (This is of course, not an either/or situation; He was sent to die for our sins and he undoubtedly was killed partly because of His care for the poor and the outcast. It was not only the sins of the whole world that sent Him to the cross, it was also the particular sins of some Jewish and Roman leaders in Palestine two thousand years ago.)

Those who call themselves progressive theologians see Jesus as someone to emulate and one who pictures how God works and moves within a human totally given over to Him. They reject the classical view that humanity is fallen and Jesus died for our sins.

9Thomas Oden’s two chapters, “The death of Jesus,” and “In Our Place,” in his book The Word of Life: Systematic theology: Volume Two, is highly recommended for anyone wishing to understand the atonement. 403. Also for a Reformed view see, louis Berkhof, The History of Christian Doctrines,( Grand Rapids:Baker Book House 1937) also, Andrew Purves, “The Ministry of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ: A Reformed View of the Atonement of Christ,” TheologyMatters (Vol3 No 4. Jul/Aug 1997) and , J.S. Whale, Christian Doctrine: Eight Lectures delivered in the University of Cambridge to Undergraduates of all Faculties,reprint, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1984.)

10One author who sees the idea of atonement leading to violence does reject Abelard ideas. Speaking of Abelard’s position J. Denny Weaver writes, “The result [of removing the devil from the equation], is an atonement motif in which the Father has one of his children – the Son – killed in order to show love to the rest of the Father’s children, namely us sinners.” “Violence in Christian Theology,” Cross Currents, at www.crosscurrents.org/weaver0701c.htm. 4.

57 comments:

Kattie W. Coon said...

"Those who call themselves progressive theologians see Jesus as someone to emulate and one who pictures how God works and moves within a human totally given over to Him. They reject the classical view that humanity is fallen and Jesus died for our sins."

Wow! What a nice, neat, tidy package you've created there... False nonsense, and a package that might be attractive to your run of the mill bigot, but nice, neat, and tidy nonetheless.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Viola Larson said...

Kattie,
You are probably right that is undoubtedly to absolute. Undoubtedly there are progressives who believe in the fallenness of humanity. How would you as a progressive put it.

Kattie W. Coon said...

How would I, as a progressive, put it? I wouldn't know, I don't refer to myself that way. I don't like the term as it is so easily misinterpreted or misrepresented, particularly by folk pushing various Conservative agendas.

I refer to myself as Calvinist/Reformed, although I'm sure some might disagree with me as to what the qualifications for that are.

Why not ask people who actually call themselves Progressive what it means to them. I'm sure you'll see a lot of agreement and disagreement among them.

As I see it, it is progressive to move the church away from seeing forced slavery as acceptable, and it is progressive to move the church away from seeing the ordination of women as unacceptable. It’s about individual issues.

Viola Larson said...

Good answer Kattie, although I am not a progressive and I'm for both no slavery and women's ordination and found in my Master's thesis in history evangelical women who pushed hard against slavery and for women's ordination.
Anyway, perhaps others would like to say whether they believe humanity is fallen or not. You forgot to say what you thought?

Kattie W. Coon said...

"... I am not a progressive and I'm for both no slavery and women's ordination ..."

Of course that is a load of nonsense.

Many, many orthodox Christians would disagree with your self assessment. I would even hazard to guess that your friend Kevin Carroll would disagree with you.

"You forgot to say what you thought?"

No, no I didn't.

Pastor Bob said...

Maybe this is a better way to put it: Some progressives (or maybe better some theologians) see the death of Jesus as atonement as a description of an angry and violent god. There are also comments about God killing his own son.

I have found that there are at least a few folks in the PCUSA that hold such a position.

I think that the Church needs all the descriptions of the meaning of the incarnation, the life of Jesus and the death and resurrection of Jesus. One theological description that depends on one explanation of salvation is insufficient.

So I find:
1. A legal description (atonement) as either a payment to the God or the devil for sins;
2. Reconciliation between the Father and the Church
3. Emulation of Jesus' behavior, although I don't think this is entirely possible without some release from the power of sin.

There may be others but I don't have my Bible available right now.

Mary E said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary E said...

I would agree with you Viola, there is a growing group of people that “…see Jesus as someone to emulate and one who pictures how God works and moves within a human totally given over to Him. They reject the classical view that humanity is fallen and Jesus died for our sins."

The gospel of Mary calls that “The Warm Fuzzy of Christ” they only have visions of Christ as the all loving and all forgiving existence. Where there are no consequences for sin, all reward. A very one dimensional outlook.

Slavery…again with the slavery? Where is the bible all excepting of slavery. Was it while they were in Egypt? No, it was while they were in Babylon? There are BOOKS in the Bible that the people of Israel are praying for freedom. And there is some obscure verse that is the declaration of promoting slavery?

There are more declarative verses against homosexuality, than there are any verses supporting slavery.

Back to the subject…I see the need of these people to infuse philosophies and beliefs of other religions as going against God’s will. I remember we serve a jealous God, who does not want to hear about any of these other religions. I think of that old saying “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it” Solomon brought in all those wives and their gods. They began to incorporate that into their lives which was the beginning of what was their departure from the promise land.

Mary Eidson

Viola Larson said...

Bob,
You will enjoy the next posting I am getting ready to put up.

Mary, I like your thoughts on slavery and the Bible. That is very good. It seems to me that Paul wrote a whole letter encouraging a friend to forgive his slave and let him go free for the ministry.

Debbie said...

Kattie, Viola says she's against slavery, and she says she's for women's ordination, and you tell her she's wrong about both things--that she's really FOR slavery and AGAINST women's ordination? What on earth do you mean? Are you saying that you know more about Viola than she knows about herself?

And what was your "run of the mill bigot" comment supposed to be about? You get hurt feelings pretty easily, I've noticed on other posts, so why do you want to fling insults around? Don't you want to treat other people kindly, just as you'd like to be treated kindly?

It's awfully strange how people come comment here, say unkind things about Viola and others of us who agree with her, and then complain that we are insulting them!

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Debbie said...

What I have to say about the Atonement, I've said here:

http://takingthering.blogspot.com/2007/04/atonement-is-good-news.html

And basically, I say it that the substitutionary atonement is good news.

Of course I'm just an amateur theologian, but I'm a pastor's wife with decades of experience reading the Bible, and you might say I have a bit of education. So I'm not chopped liver, either. :-)

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Kattie W. Coon said...

Debbie,

"What on earth do you mean?"

Would you *really* like me to explain in more detail?

"And what was your "run of the mill bigot" comment supposed to be about?"

I’m sure we both realize I have referred to some of your and Viola's comments as bigoted, and I am not backing down from that sentiment in the least. Now, my questions to you are, why would you assume I was referring to anyone in particular as "run of the mill"? Have I ever, in the past, referred to either you or Viola as "run of the mill" anything? I suspect you don't give yourself or your friends (including me) enough credit.

I thought I was being rather careful in my choice of words (as is usually the case) so as not to point to anyone in particular. As a point of full disclosure, I admit I am frequently amused by the reactions to and the extrapolations of the comments I make here by some of the folk who frequent here. I guess it’s either that or cry.

Debbie said...

Kattie, yes, I would like you to explain in more detail, rather than just giving us a drive-by accusation and then not explaining it.

As for your "bigot" remark, don't be upset that we don't call you orthodox. At least your theology actually doesn't fall under the standard definition of orthodoxy. You do far worse by calling us bigots, the definition of which does not actually fit us.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Kattie W. Coon said...

"I would like you to explain in more detail, rather than just giving us a drive-by accusation and then not explaining it."

Whom did I accuse, my dear? Viola seemed to get it quite easily, and my comment was to her personally. As far as I'm concerned, it was sufficiently clear. After all, Viola did reply: “You are probably right that is undoubtedly too absolute.”

Now, if you do identify yourself with the belief that "those who call themselves progressive theologians"... "reject the classical view that humanity is fallen and Jesus died for our sins", then I guess I would characterize your view as naive or possibly ignorant, but I wouldn't characterize you as a run of the mill bigot. Now, you’re beginning to sound to me like you’re having a little hissy fit, so please stop. You can’t make your little insult accusation stick.

"At least your theology actually doesn't fall under the standard definition of orthodoxy."

Oh please, do tell, in detail, what aspects of my theology are not, in your opinion, orthodox? Please be clear, and document your assertions.

I guess you should start by carefully stating and defending your concept of "the standard definition of orthodoxy".

This should be interesting.

Viola Larson said...

Kattie,
Cool it! You have never actually said on my blog what you believe about anything except about others attitudes. (And I have checked)Debbie does not have to give a run down of orthodox views. And please, I wasn't going to say it but don't call anyone a bigot on my blog-unless of course you are writing about the Klu Klux Klan or anyone like them.

Debbie said...

Kattie, I'm just going to ignore all the orthodox/bigot stuff. We'll never see eye to eye on it.

Meanwhile, in an earlier comment you said this to Viola:

"'... I am not a progressive and I'm for both no slavery and women's ordination ...'

Of course that is a load of nonsense.

Many, many orthodox Christians would disagree with your self assessment. I would even hazard to guess that your friend Kevin Carroll would disagree with you."

If that is not accusing Viola of being for slavery and against women's ordination, then what is it? Please don't weasel around on whether or not you accused someone. It's pretty plain.

It's really starting to sound like you don't intend to explain what you mean. I'd still like to have your explanation, but I'm not expecting it because you seem to be unwilling to give it.

I guess it's pretty easy to say a bunch of stuff without explaining it; it's quite suspicious and leads one to wonder if there even is an explanation.

Nonetheless, still wishing I had that explanation!

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Viola Larson said...

Debbie,
I think Kattie is saying that my friend Kevin thinks of me as a progressive. Maybe. But who cares. That has nothing to do with what I am writing about. It is just a distraction.

Kevin and I agree on atonement and who Jesus Christ is. That counts for a lot. We also both believe in human depravity, which I believe is what the whole argument is about anyway. It is silly.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Debbie,

"If that is not accusing Viola of being for slavery and against women's ordination, then what is it?"

Oh my dear, did you ever miss the obvious!

She states that she is for women's ordination and not a progressive in nearly the same breath, and you don't see that as nonsense? Once again I’ll mention that I’m sure her friend Kevin Caroll and most other Christians worldwide would see it as nonsense. In fact, I believe I recently saw a comment by Kevin Caroll where he claimed that a good sign of the pending demise of a denomination was the inclusion of women in their ordained ministry. Now there’s a proper conservative point of view on that issue.

Viola,

"I wasn't going to say it but don't call anyone a bigot on my blog-unless of course you are writing about the Klu Klux Klan or anyone like them."

Interesting, what do *you* mean by "like them"? How much like them does one have to be to satisfy “Viola’s rule”? I just go by the dictionary definition of bigotry, which, the last time I checked, didn't include a reference to the KKK. The definition of bigotry does, however, stress the term intolerance, and I do see a lot of that and its rotten fruit around here. I could site numerous examples of it. So, help me out here a little instead of being so vague as to allow you to be completely arbitrary.

Debbie said...

Kattie, being for women's ordination doesn't make one a progressive. Just ask people at the former Witherspoon Society (for example) whether or not Viola and I (I am also for women's ordination) are progressives, and I'm sure you'd get a big no.

Wow, Kattie orthodox and Viola and me progressives! Now there's an image!

Merriam-Webster online's definiton of "bigot": "a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance". And their definiton of "intolerant": "1. unable or unwilling to endure; 2. unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters b : unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights".

Now, Viola and I disagree with you, and we don't want to ordain people who are unrepentant practicing homosexuals. We do, not, however, work against their rights to vote, have jobs, etc.
Nor do we hate them. Meanwhile, although we maintain our beliefs, we engage in discussion of those beliefs. All of that is a pretty far cry from being bigots and intolerant as defined above.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Bruce Byrne said...

Viola,

A few weeks ago there was someone posting to this space who was really concerned about the tone of the comments. She seemed to believe that you and Debbie (among others) were using intemperate language. She urged a return to the subject "at a much more respectful level". Seemed to really be pushing for a high degree of civility and all.

Do you remember who that was?

Bruce Byrne
Concord, CA

Viola Larson said...

No Bruce I really don't. I am sorry if we seem intemperate in our language.

Debbie said...

Sometimes just the fact of voicing evangelical viewpoints at all seems intemperate to some people.

Here's a quote from the comments:

"False nonsense, and a package that might be attractive to your run of the mill bigot, but nice, neat, and tidy nonetheless."

Now, would that woman consider that to be intemperate? If so, then she's not prejudiced. Because, interestingly, it did not come from Viola or me, but from someone who disagrees with us.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Dave Moody said...

I like Bruce... subtle, understated, yet delivered with a specificity that illuminates. Made me smile.

Vi, I really appreciate your postings on the atonement. The energy they engender from the more-nuanced-less-judgmental-than-thou set is fascinating.

dm

Viola Larson said...

Bruce sorry again. I didn’t catch your subtlety:-)

Kattie W. Coon said...

Debbie,

"Just ask people at the former Witherspoon Society"

Why? They are an ultra left wing organization, a fringe group. Of course they wouldn't want to see you as progressive. What does that prove? On the other hand, I'm talking about the point of view of the vast majority of Christians. It is they who consider our stand on women's ordination to be progressive. We can't get away from that, we are in the minority working to change the male dominance in the church.

"We do, not, however, work against their rights to vote, have jobs, etc."

Of course you do. Which do you hold in higher regard, your right to vote and hold a leadership position in society or your right to vote and hold a leadership position in the church? For me there’s no question, it's the church.

“Nor do we hate them.”

I guess you ought to ask *them* what it feels like to be inflicted by your so called love.

“All of that is a pretty far cry from being bigots and intolerant as defined above.”

That is a matter of perspective. Honestly try to put yourself in their perspective, or maybe mine, and discover just how absurd your claim of tolerance really is.

Now on to the notion of intemperance.

My use of the term “false nonsense” was based upon a comment Viola made toward John Shuck many months ago which John displays for reference on his blog. I used it here in tongue-in-cheek honor of Viola. The bigotry reference was aimed at no one in particular, and not even at the class of evangelicals in general. As far as being intemperate is concerned (Bruce), I didn’t get hot under the collar until you (Debbie) arrived on the scene and started twisting my words around in a nonsensical manner falsely claiming I accused someone of something. So I don’t want to see any of you trying to claim the high ground here. That sorry dog just won’t hunt.

Mary E said...

So are you claiming to take the high ground? If so, there is another dog that won't hunt either.

Mary Eidson

Bruce Byrne said...

I sometimes reflect on how much easier it is to live up to the standards I espouse until Debbie arrives on the scene.

Bruce Byrne
Concord, CA

Kattie W. Coon said...

Thanks Mary,
I never made any such claim. So please don't you or anyone else assume I did. There's more than enough depravity to go around.

Debbie said...

Kattie, I guess I'm talking about Presbyterians, or possibly mainline Christians, when I'm distinguishing between progressive and non-progressive. I suppose you're right that fundamentalists would see Viola and me as more progressive since we believe in women's ordination. So I guess we have to define our what group we're talking about, and that would remove some of the confusion. You meant all of Christendom, and I meant Presbyterians. I'm not very familiar with people in the fundamentalist and charismatic denominations.

Other stuff:

You said this (as an argument that I work against the right for unrepentant practicing gays to vote and have jobs, which I deny): "Which do you hold in higher regard, your right to vote and hold a leadership position in society or your right to vote and hold a leadership position in the church?" I've never even considered that question before in terms of one versus the other. And I don't think that I agree with you. I consider that my faith in God is more important than anything else, but as far as having a right to vote and hold a leadership position in the church goes, vs. having that right in society, I consider the right in society to be more fundamental. It's a privilege to have it in the church, not a right.

You also said this: "As far as being intemperate is concerned (Bruce), I didn’t get hot under the collar until you (Debbie) arrived on the scene and started twisting my words around in a nonsensical manner falsely claiming I accused someone of something." No, Kattie, I didn't use nonsense or falsehood except in that I stupidly misunderstood you. I was actually embarrassed that I made such a dumb mistake, but there it is. That's all it was. I actually thought you meant something different from what you meant. I didn't do it on purpose. I did it because of a dumb mistake. That's all there was to it--no malicious intentions, just plain dumb misinterpretation of what you wrote! Sorry to make you hot under the collar, but that's why it happened.

Kattie, if you want to say that I hate LGBT people, please check first with the actual LGBT people that I know.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Kattie W. Coon said...

Debbie,

"It's a privilege to have it in the church, not a right."

Oh, I'm guessing then that you believe you actually have the right to hold any job in society you want. Well, I certainly don't believe that. I do, on the other hand, believe I have the god given right to be considered for any job, be it in the church or otherwise. I don't want those who don't know me and can't fully asses my qualifications and gifts to make the hiring and ordination decisions.

You would work to deny a leadership position to someone you don’t even know based on knowledge of only a single attribute, an attribute that is undoubtedly very well known by those in the evaluation process who know the person best. So not only would you deny the person a leadership position, you would deny the result of a Holy Spirit guided discernment process. You would work to have a single attribute trump everything else, no matter how numerous and amazing the candidate’s other attributes are. That, my dear, is intolerance in the extreme.

Debbie said...

Wow, Kattie, what an ability to construct a straw man you have!

I responded to your wording about having a right to vote and hold a leadership position in society, saying that I thought it was a privilege, not a right, in the church, and from that you claim that I believe I have a right to hold any job in society I want. Wow, what a stretch, and how ungenerous of you! (It certainly reveals your low opinion of me.)

That is definitely not what I believe. I would actually put it this way: people (including me) have a right to make a living. That does not mean that they will qualify for or obtain any particular job they might want. People also have the privilege of voting, which they may lose under certain circumstances (commiting a felony, for example.) If they are specially gifted and qualified, they might have the privilege of being in a position of leadership.

The PCUSA (and other churches) is another matter altogether; it is a voluntary organization, and no one (including me) can expect any rights from it whatsoever. Republicans can't expect to hold office in the Democratic party. People who don't agree with the stated beliefs of a church can't expect to hold office in that church. It's a privilege, not a right.

OK, all that was relatively simplistic, but it's a high-level summary.

Meanwhile, I'm not going to get into the debate about what you said about working "to deny a leadership position to someone you don’t even know based on knowledge of only a single attribute". We've covered all of this before, why I think you're wrong about what you said, etc. There's no point in repeating the argument.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Debbie said...

Kattie, I guess I do want to add that denying a leadership position based on a single attribute is a false way to word that; if we go with your wording, it's should be stated as "based on a behavior." Behaviors are indeed relevant to the church, which concerns itself with behaviors.

But an analogy could be made with the exception to voting that I mentioned. People are denied the privilege of voting based on a single attribute: the fact of having committed a felony. The people who deny them the privilege of voting don't know them personally. But there is that law, and that consequence. Do you think that it should be changed?

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Bruce Byrne said...

Kattie wrote:

"You would work to deny a leadership position to someone you don’t even know based on knowledge of only a single attribute, an attribute that is undoubtedly very well known by those in the evaluation process who know the person best. So not only would you deny the person a leadership position, you would deny the result of a Holy Spirit guided discernment process. You would work to have a single attribute trump everything else, no matter how numerous and amazing the candidate’s other attributes are. That, my dear, is intolerance in the extreme."

Attribute is a straw man. The issue is behavior. Skin color is an attribute; sex (male or female) is an attribute; adultery is a behavior; spousal abuse is a behavior.

For the record, I would work to deny a leadership position to someone I don't even know based on knowledge of only a single behavior, and so would you (Kattie). We could make a long list of behaviors which we both agree should preclude those who practice them unrepentantly from leadership.

I also presume that we could make a long list of behaviors which we both agree are self and other destructive. We could make a long list of behaviors of which we agree the scriptures warn us about in strong terms.

We would agree that there are times and places when saying "no" is a loving response and we would agree that certain behaviors ought never be tolerated, and thus we would agree that, at times, intolerance is a virtue.

We just happen to disagree about a particular behavior.

Will you concede that working to deny a leadership position to someone is, at times, entirely consistent with love for God, his church and, ultimately, the person in question?

Bruce Byrne
Concord, CA

Jim Berkley said...

Thank you, Bruce. Exactly! Well put.

And Kattie, if you could refrain from:

1) wild, inaccurate, irresponsible, and easily misunderstood accusations that you immediately (a) back off from, (b) refuse to disambiguate, and (c) refuse to substantiate; and

2) sarcastic, belittling "my dear" interjections, then...

the rest of us could possibly read a much more decent, adult-adult discussion that actually goes somewhere.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Viola Larson said...

Thanks Bruce, Debbie and Jim. I am close to using words I do not normally use so thank you for helping me to behave myself: -)

Kattie W. Coon said...

Bruce,

"We just happen to disagree about a particular behavior."

I'm not sure I understand what you're really trying to get at, but it appears to me that the fundamental difference is not with the particular behavior, but rather with how one should apply the teachings of the Bible to a particular person. It's my opinion that those who would place a blanket prohibition on them (those who seek ordination), based upon an activity, are merely being superficial and arbitrary, and not being Biblical at all. It seems they would prefer/advocate examining for whitewash rather than examining the bones (ref. Matt 23). I prefer the latter, and I don't believe that can be properly accomplished from a distance or by the universal application of a law devised by mankind.

Jim,

I think you’re putting the whitewash on pretty thick, and casting stones when you’re so visibly not without sin.

Bruce said...

Kattie:

You wrote:

“It's my opinion that those who would place a blanket prohibition on them (those who seek ordination), based upon an activity, are merely being superficial and arbitrary, and not being Biblical at all.”

I wrote earlier that “We could make a long list of behaviors which we both agree should preclude those who practice them unrepentantly from leadership.” I’d be surprised if that weren’t the case. My list would include things like cross burning, adultery, embezzlement, habitual lying, sexual abusiveness and holding up signs at memorial services which say “God hates fags”. Anyone, in my opinion, who practices these things and who insists that there’s nothing wrong such practicing should be disqualified from ordination. You might want to qualify or contextualize a thing or two, but I’m confident we could arrive at a lengthy list of blanket prohibitions when it comes to ordination that neither of us would believe is superficial, arbitrary, unbiblical or have any problem applying from a distance.

Sincerely,

Bruce Byrne
Concord, CA

Debbie said...

On the contrary, Kattie, the fundamental difference is indeed with the behavior. I don't know why I'm writing this, actually, because orthodox/evangelical believers have been saying this over and over again, and yet you still say you're not sure what Bruce is trying to get at.

The barrier to ordination is not against people with homosexual orientations. It's against those who engage in homosexual sex and deliberately intend to continue engaging in it. The barrier is also against those who have engaged in, and deliberately intend to continue to engage in, unmarried heterosexual sex. The standard is not "No people with homosexual ordination." The standard is "No unrepentant sinners", where "sinner" is defined as someone intending to continue in a sinful behavior.

Of course we're all sinners in the sense that we continue to commit sins, but the difference lies in whether or not we intend to continue committing sins.

Now, what Bruce was saying was that he was sure that you and he agree that there are some behaviors that should be a barrier to ordination, such as if a person intends to continue murdering.

Where you disagree is not whether or not people who have a homosexual orientation are more sinful--you both agree that that is not true--but whether or not engaging in homosexual sex is a sin. You say it's not, he says it is.

But that is the crux of the matter. It is a behavior, not an attribute, that orthodox believers see as a barrier to ordination.

And despite your proclamation (based on what?), orthodox believers do derive all this from the Bible.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Kattie W. Coon said...

"...whether or not engaging in homosexual sex is a sin. You say it's not, he says it is."

Actually, that is too simplistic, and most likely a mischaracterization of what I actually believe, and probably stated here in the past.

First, we should probably come to an agreement on what we mean when we use the term "homosexual sex". Is it any sexual activity between people of the same sex, or is it any sexual activity between people of a homosexual orientation, etc.?

Justaservant said...

Don't feed the trolls. Matthew 7:6.

Viola Larson said...

Just a Servant, while I think this conversation should end, it has ceased being about my posting nonetheless, I need your name, city and state before you post again. And I think calling some one a troll can be almost as bad as a few other things on this comment thread. Like always changing the subject till it gets around to homosexuality! How about returning to the subject of the cross. Or try reading my very long posting on the Kairos Palestine Document. That will keep everyone very busy. Or enjoy doing something fun on a Friday night.

Debbie said...

Agreed, Viola, end of the homosexuality subject. It's already been discussed plenty anyway.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Kattie W. Coon said...

Agreed Viola, but the next time Debbie or someone else brings it up, I'll be glad to chime in.

Mary E said...

Viola, I have enjoyed your series about "The Cross". I have 2 comments.

First, I can't believe that we have to explain the relevance of the cross as a symbol of atonement. Replacing it for a breast seems more of a Catholic thing, you know worshiping the Virgin Mary...

I know I do not have a theological back ground. But I do know about bullies. You let Kattie hijack you posting who only makes acusations and has no opinions to share. I wish you and Debbie would stop dignifing her ramblings and answer people who are here to share ideas and want to grow in our faith.

Viola Larson said...

Mary,
Thank you for saying that. I am praying about it.
As for the Catholic idea about the breast- It may be more to do with the radical feminism that is in the Catholic Church. Those involved in that tend to see Mary as all that is left of the ancient worship of a goddess. Not only is that not true but the idea that the whole world at one time worshiped a goddess is also untrue but many radical feminist believe it.

Debbie said...

Without Jesus's substitutionary death on the cross to take the punishment for our sins--without the substitutionary atonement--I think the world would be pretty hopeless. If Jesus were just an exemplary person, then just to strive to be a good person, hopefully as good as Jesus, would not leave me with much hope for either my life or solving the problems of this world.


You just get going working on crime in one town, and a crime wave hits another. You just get some success helping a dysfunctional family, and another family falls apart. You finally see a breakthrough in one country's civil war, and war breaks out in another. We can't keep up!

Mankind doesn't have the answer. And we'll never be able to reach utopia if we rely on our good intentions alone. We don't have it in us. We need God's redemption through the cross of Christ and the hope of his coming kingdom.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Viola Larson said...

Thank you Debbie. And most of the time I feel like I need his redemptive work more than anyone.

Kattie W. Coon said...

"You let Kattie hijack you posting who only makes accusations and has no opinions to share."

Mary,

That just goes to show that you didn't really pay much attention to what I wrote. I didn't hijack the post at all. It was clearly the comments of others that diverted the subject. The first person in this thread to mention homosexuality was (ahem!) you. Also, there were no accusations of anyone made by me at all. I merely made an observation and shared my opinion that Viola's absolute and grossly over generalized statement concerning Progressives and the Atonement was the kind of stuff that bigots would surely grab onto as truth. That’s not an accusation of anyone, but it is clearly my opinion that I shared.

You are certainly not above reproach.

Viola Larson said...

Kattie,
You still have not stated what you believe about anything as far as doctrines or beliefs are concerned. That is what Mary is talking about.I think I am going to simply delete you the next time you comment without saying anything at all about what you believe.

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

Ok Viola,

I guess stating that I'm Calvinist/Reformed isn't good enough for you.

What if I say that I'm a 5-Point Calvinist? Would that be so unbelievable to you that you would blow that one off too? Well, believe it, because that’s what I am.

Have you ever paid any attention when I've stated how much I like our confessions, and in particular the Westminster?

This is exactly the kind of blindness I wrote about on your blog several months ago.

I don't believe I should have to be quizzed by you on every point of Reformed Theology simply because I believe the Bible does not condemn as sin each and every form of sexual expression between homosexuals. Truth be told, you rarely answer questions that are sent your way.

You have repeatedly tried to put me into a Progressive box on each and every issue that I've commented on. I've repeatedly told you that you aren't paying close enough attention to what I'm actually saying.

Viola Larson said...

No Kattie, If you say that it is false nonsense to say that progressives do not believe that humanity is fallen and need the redemption of Jesus' death on the cross, then just saying you are a 5-Point Calvinist dosen't mean very much because what do I know about your interpretation of that.

Kattie W. Coon said...

"If you say that it is false nonsense to say that progressives do not believe that humanity is fallen and need the redemption of Jesus' death on the cross"

Viola,

Not only are you twisting around my point, you are mischaracterizing your own words.

Here is what you actually said:

"Those who call themselves progressive theologians see Jesus as someone to emulate and one who pictures how God works and moves within a human totally given over to Him. They reject the classical view that humanity is fallen and Jesus died for our sins."

My objection to this was merely that you incorrectly characterized all progressive theologians as having an incorrect view of the atonement. You originally agreed with me, what happened?

If you were to simply change the phrase: "Those who call themselves progressive theologians" to "Some of those..." I would have had no objection.

As usual, you folks have blown my simple objection way out of proportion.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Viola,

To help you out a little bit in understanding my point here, I suggest you pick up a copy of "Introduction To Logic" by Irving M. Copi and study it carefully. This isn't meant as a put down, on the contrary, this is powerful stuff.

Viola Larson said...

Kattie,
Thank you for bringing back memories of my logic class. I loved it, but most of all I loved the unique personality of my logic teacher who also played in a bluegrass band. There is something fantastic about those human beings who not only have a great mind for intellectual concepts but who also have that very human quality of sharing their emotions, what they love and care about. My teacher who also wore cowboy boots died several years ago. He did not profess to be a Christian but had he been he would have been someone who would not have been afraid to say he loved Jesus. I know because we talked about religion, a department he wanted to start on campus.

I could have helped tutor other students after I finished but with six kids all at home at the time I didn't do extra things.

Oh by the way for that last insult, and it was an insult, do not make comments on my blog again.

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