Tuesday, September 14, 2010

John Shuck asked an honest question: our answer?

John Shuck asked an honest question. In the comment section on his posting Paul Thompson and The Jersey Girls he wrote:

“I do find it interesting that this question [about the collapse of the towers on 9-11] could put me over the edge into kookdum when saying that I don't believe Jesus rose from the dead apparently doesn't.

Which sin is worse?

In my 20 or so years of ministry, I could pretty much say whatever I wanted about Jesus and would ruffle a feather here and there.

But when I make claims about the U.S.'s imperial activities ... it is blasphemy.”

Well, of course the sin of denying the resurrection is sin. But the sin of saying whatever you please about Jesus Christ and then claiming to be a Christian minister is, well, Paul the apostle would call it beastly. And like Paul, the great theologian Karl Barth would call John a wolf since he named those troubled with the words of the Apostle’s Creed in just such a manner:

“This inveighing against so-called 'orthodoxy' is just a 'wolf's snarl', which an educated man should have nothing to do with.”

There are so many hurting, needy and yes, kooky people that need Jesus Christ and his redeeming love. Jesus asks and answers some questions about the needs of people. In one place in the scriptures he likens God’s love to that of a parent who would not give bad things to their child.

“Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish, he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If then, being evil, you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:12-13)

But the Church? Are we inviting the needy and hurting to hear about the cross of Jesus Christ. Or are we inviting them to set and listen to those who have no good news, who do not love our Lord Jesus Christ, who deny his gift to us.

John’s question should be answered by the whole church, even his Presbytery. Kookiness is nothing, Jesus is everything.

And it isn't just John and his careless disregard for his vows. John says his comments about Jesus have only ruffled a few feathers. It's all of us who don’t care about the little ones. May the Holy Spirit blow against us with such mighty power and persistence that all feathers are trembling. And may there be holy fear, concern and repentance in abundance.

May many souls enter the Kingdom of our Lord to his glory:


Benjamin P. Glaser said...

John is absolutely correct in what he notes. When I was still in the PC(USA) I observed candidates for the ministry being interviewed and the denial of basic Christianity never seemed to raise as much fuss as when a Liberal candidate starting talking social gospel politics. It was as if it was a greater sin to be a liberal Democrat than to be an unbeliever. Which is exactly what the religion of Glenn Beck teaches.

Jim Jordan said...

It seems that Mr. Shuck is just holding down a position for the money. He is not a Christian in a job that is predicated on him being one. With real unemployment hovering near 20%, you'd think the PC(USA) could place a few good, real ministers to replace the dead-(unresurrected?) -weights.

Dr. MVM said...

Speaking as someone who actually knows John and has seen the things he, his church, and his flock do, for the community and the world at large, I can honestly say he's more Christlike than any other minister I have ever known before. You people have your priorities backwards and you want people to follow the same rigid theological lines that you follow. People don't give a crap about splitting theological hairs, they want compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance, the very things which are in such short supply from churches today.

If there were more ministers who were as open, welcoming, and non judgmental as John is, then maybe Christians in general wouldn't be held in such disregard.

John McNeese said...


Viola Larson said...

We don't always agree, but we do in a big way on this. Thanks.

I am interested in preaching and teaching the true Gospel here. I don't thinkJohn is holding down the job for the money. But nonetheless he shouldn't, according to Scriptures, the Book of Order and our Confessions be doing what he is doing. But it is the question of Jesus that I am concerned with here.

Viola Larson said...

MVM, For a Christian it isn't how much you like a person, its do you know, live for and love the Lord Jesus Christ. Is your righteousness the righteousness that Jesus gives you? Jesus Christ died for you that is the issue.

Viola Larson said...

And he also died for you John.

Lynsey Lovett said...

Wow as someone who goes to John's church I can honestly say this man is truly a man of God. He and the church as well have opened my eyes and heart to the church. I credit John with helping me get back into the church and back into my religion. You people seriously need to get your priorities straight. John is an amazing pastor and person. I could not ask for a better leader of our congregation.

Bruce said...


Can someone who doesn't believe in God be a man of God?

Bruce Byrne
Concord, CA

Viola Larson said...

I think that perhaps I did a bad job of writing this posting. I wanted the conversation, if there was any, to turn on the question John was asking. Is it a greater sin to deny Jesus Christ or to believe in what many call kooky conspiracy theories? While I believe that calling yourself a Christian minister while rejecting Jesus can lead to all kinds of strange ideas, I do believe that rejecting the Lordship of Christ by a 'Christian' minister is a horrific sin. So John is right to wonder why one bothers other Christians while the other one doesn’t.

David R. said...



Can a person who professes Christ fail as a Christian?


Viola Larson said...

You and several other people need to leave your city and state. And by the way "Jean de Florette " and the continuation "Manon des Sources" are beautiful movies.

Jim Jordan said...

I must admit that my post was tongue-in cheek. I enjoy teasing John Shuck after having first blindly taken him seriously. I was even on vacation and on my way to his church once several years ago before I realized there was a reliable Baptist church in Banner Elk, NC, after all and my pretty wife and daughter had taken too long to get ready to get to Elizabethton on time.

That Shuck has gotten more grief for being a "9/11 Troofer" than being an unbeliever of the resurrection says more about the church than it does about him.
Question: Are some conservative Christians more interested in defending the political establishment than they are in defending Christ? Just a thought.

Viola Larson said...

I love the story Jim about almost making it to John's church. Yes, that is my thought; this is really about the Church. And undoubtedly we are all guilty and need the urgency of the Lord.

Bruce said...

Viola, as to your question, it is the greater sin to deny Christ.

David R: Could you clarify? Do you mean that God exists and John is a man of that God even though he doesn't believe in God or that he is a man of a nonexistent God? Or something else?

As to: Can a person who professes Christ fail as a Christian?

Absolutely. I know someone like this very well. I know his name and where he lives.

Bruce Byrne
Concord, CA

Dwight said...

Admittedly as a liberal, I find the 9-11 issue a distraction which reduces credibility (especially when most of our problems are out in the open and don't rely on conspiracy at all) while at the same time John Shuck's (and others for that matter) recasting of Christian faith has provided a door by which people like myself can remain in the church and struggle with questions of faith. In that I consider the latter as a Godsend.

Dwight, Indianapolis

Snad said...

What utter hubris to suggest that a person who does not accept "Jesus as Zombie" is not a man of God!

And what hubris to assume that David, by answering your question, Bruce, was admitting that John Shuck does not believe in God.

Never mind chattering amongst yourselves about whether it is a greater sin to "deny Jesus Christ" [by not accepting Jesus the Zombie, women carved from bones being convinced by a talking snake to eat an apple and the endless incest that ensued] than it is to expound on a subject that others have rendered inane. The hubris of some christians (lower case intended) is a greater wall to Christianity than either.

And Jim, luckily for you, you can spit and hit a baptist church in the south. Obviously, it demands too great an effort for some to think outside their solipsistic worldview. Baptist churches in the south are like convenience stores for the uninitiated - one on every corner, and easy in, easy out.

And a question for viola: why would we need to leave our city and state to see those two lovely French films?

Viola Larson said...


You gave me one of the best laughs i've had in a long time. You don't need to leave your city and state go rent them.
I looked at David R's profile to see where he was from and saw that he had them listed. I think those are wonderful films. Funny thing about French films, they are either fantastic or horrid.

But back to the subject. I guess I don't know what you mean by Jesus as Zombie Snad. Can you explain.

Snad said...

Oh, you know, Viola! The whole "risen from the dead" thing.

Between that and being told you must leave the Tri-Cities of Tennessee to see French films, you must marvel that people can understand each other at all!

John Shuck said...

As always, I am thrilled to be the topic of your conversation.

Jesus and 9/11 are interesting and important topics for conversation.

I feel one of my primary missions is to inform folks about Peak Oil. That concern would seem to cross ideological lines.

It doesn't matter whether you are a Republican or Democrat, Orthodox or Heretic, Straight or Gay, when we go to the pumps and there are miles of cars lined up to pay $10 a gallon, no one is going to be going to anybody's Bible study.

I would love to see the church have a conversation about that topic, the global peaking of oil production, its implications and what are possible Christian responses.

John Shuck
Elizabethton, TN

Anonymous said...

Peak oil? Was that before or after the new Ice Age?

Snad: Wasn't Jesus the Zombie in "Dawn of the Dead"? Or was that "Shaun of the Dead"?

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

Viola Larson said...

But Snad, I don't know much about Zombies, but don't they come in their corrupted bodies?

So how is that like the Lord of all coming in a renewed and glorified body?

John Shuck said...

Peak oil? Was that before or after the new Ice Age?

That is what I thought I would get from you fine folks.

Carry on...

Anonymous said...

That is what I thought I would get from you fine folks.

Because peak oil is an assailable fact that no one would ever doubt, and the questioning of which is therefore a sign that one is a hopeless Neanderthal.

By the way, in answer to your original question, Viola, I completely agree that John's denial of the central reality of the Christian faith is a far more significant problem than his 9/11 trutherism, or even his blind, unquestioning faith regarding peak oil.

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

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

Because peak oil is an assailable fact that no one would ever doubt, and the questioning of which is therefore a sign that one is a hopeless Neanderthal.

OK, and then...

...or even his blind, unquestioning faith regarding peak oil.

So is it fact or faith?

Let me put it another way, Dave.

You are no Neanderthal. You are a bright guy. You even play chess. You write widely on a variety of topics.

What do you think about the "assailable fact" of Peak Oil?

As in best guess regarding

1) When?
2) What are some likely impacts on our lives?

E-ton, TN

Presbyman said...

On a related topic, one of my pet peeves with the conservative side of the PC(USA) is that homosexuality has become the line that one must not cross. OK, I agree with that. But what about so many other things we already condone, like abortion and divorce? Or look at how far we have strayed from Calvinist doctrine. What about that? How has homosexuality become THE defining issue?

Similarly, when a political issue becomes more important as a dividing line than one's understanding of Jesus Christ, that too is a problem.

John Erthein
Erie, PA