‘We are in the process of what God is calling us to be … an open community,” he said. “Our only intolerance should be an intolerance of efforts to exclude those who are different.’ Terry, in a different article, “Former PCUSA pastor challenges Covenant Network to ‘circle back’” writes of a former Presbyterian, Rev. Katie Morrison, who in her sermon given at the same conference stated, “she hopes the PCUSA can one day have a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” once it changes its position on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) issues.”
Dr. Jim Berkley writing for The Layman, Let no faithful disciple go unpunished? includes Morrison’s words with those of the recent confessions of sin propagated by the now apostate Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Some newly written prayers of confession placed biblical Christians in the position of having to repent of the sin of intolerance because of their faithful stance against the ordination of unrepentant homosexuals. Berkley quotes two of the confessions including this one:
These various pastors and leaders have one thing in common with such pastors as John Shuck who does not believe in a personal creator or in a resurrected future for those who belong to Jesus. They are like the giant, Goliath; standing in defiance of the living God in the sense that they are taunting the faithful with a possible bleak future should those pushing for new sexual standards get their own way.
In San Francisco: “Our church of the Reformation has been too long captive to bias and misinformation. … We have not respected the gift of sexuality. … We have betrayed fellow members of the body of Christ because of cultural prejudice. We have misused Scripture as a tool of discrimination. We have forced celibacy upon too many. … We have promoted invisibility and dishonesty. … We have intimidated and disciplined, censured and expelled.”
But God’s future includes the faithful. His promises are unbreakable, his presence with his people unending. For what or who can separate us from Christ:
There are two promises here I want to point out. First, we are to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. God’s adopted sons and daughters are destined for transformation. We may kick and scream as the Holy Spirit does his work, but we will be conformed. The process may hurt sometimes, but it is his work.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew, he also predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom he predestined he also called and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things?
If God is for us who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him over for us all, how will he not also with him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? (Romans 828-34a)
The process is not unlike the story of Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Because of his crankiness, greed and general awfulness Eustace becomes a dragon. And it is only Aslan the great Lion who can change him back into a boy, and a better boy, at that.
C.S. Lewis has Eustace say, as he tells of his experience:
The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You—know if you’re ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.Aslan goes on to wash and dress Eustace as Christ does us, washing away our sin by his blood, regenerating us by his Holy Spirit and dressing us with his righteousness. And there is that part, in the above verse, that reminds the believer that no one can bring a charge against God’s elect. No one. As F.F. Bruce puts it in his commentary on Romans:
In the forensic language of this passage we catch an unmistakable echo of the challenge of the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah 50:8-9, ‘He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let him come near to me. Behold the Lord God helps me; who will declare me guilty? When God enters into judgment, the outlook for the opposing side is bleak (Rom. 3-4); but if God takes the side of the defendant, no amount of evidence for the prosecution can procure an adverse verdict. A good Old Testament illustration is the silence of Satan, chief prosecutor in the heavenly court, when God declares his acceptance of Joshua the high priest (Zc. 3:1-5).Conformed to his image, walking in obedience the Church must just keep walking straight ahead proclaiming Christ’s redeeming, transforming life, death and resurrection.