Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Written in a dark hour

Written in a dark hour

by Jennifer L. McHenry

If you find yourself traveling through some deep dark valley,
however you got there,
you may cry out with burning angry questions.
You might scream to the barely visible heavens
“What did I do to deserve this?”
I suspect you may hear crickets and that is all.
Maybe you know what you did, or maybe you didn’t do anything to deserve it.
The crickets will chirp.
You might bellow one word… “Why!!!?”
The crickets will get louder.
But if, in that deep dark night of your soul you cry out
“Is there a God and where is he in this mess?”
and you really mean it,
you will look
and I suspect you might see a man,
a very good man.
He will be kneeling in a garden weeping
in a darker night than you can imagine.
He will cry out too,
but He will say
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me;
yet not my will, but yours be done.”
And what is this cup you might wonder?
It is your cup of suffering and shame,
it is also my cup of suffering and shame,
yet not ours alone, but everyone’s throughout all history and from every place.

The suffering and shame that you feel;
the anger and rage at what has happened in your life,
I cannot say why,
or whose fault it is but I can say this.
In the many valleys that I have travelled (more than I care to recount),
I have met my weeping Savior
and finally understood that He took our cup,
our suffering and shame and drank it,
He took it on the shameful, scorned cross
and dove down into the darkest murky valley of death
with our suffering and shame.
But He didn’t stay there
He came back up with something held in his hand…
yours and mine.
When you see this Man,
weeping in a garden in your valley,
look hard and carefully,
He is God.

.Jennifer is my daughter-it seems my family is helping me blog this week.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A cardboard testimony

I wasn't going to blog for several weeks but I just have to post this. I know most have heard of cardboard testimonies; this is the best I have seen and my grandson Ethan is in it. He is the one with the dark beard and hat. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Our special day

Fifty years and six months ago this Friday I attended a small Assembly of God church on C street in Sacramento. A young man, who had just returned home from working as a telegraph operator, in San Jose, attended also. I was a telephone operator. He loved steam trains, my father was, for much of his life, a truck driver. The young man had lived in Sacramento since he was four years old. I had lived in five states including part of my childhood on a farm in Missouri. No matter, we both loved Jesus; we were married six months later.

This Friday we celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. God has been gracious and kind to us. He has blessed us with six children, all with wonderful spouses. He has given us the gift of eighteen grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

I will be very busy for the next several weeks and may not blog at all. But, if the Lord is willing I will return to blogging when all the festivities and fun are finished.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A table prepared by the Lord

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5)

Preparing a table for someone is a gift to them of friendship, love and concern. You set out pretty dishes, silverware and a beautiful table covering. You spend time on the food you prepare.

Metaphorically Jesus has laid out an abundant table for all of his children. God doesn’t just feed us, he has prepared the place where we will dine. But, ‘prepared the table in the presence of our enemies,’ why would he do that?

Derek Kidner likens such a statement to a victory banquet where defeated foes are forced to attend. And this is truly a paradox.

The picture is an image of our reality as believers. The reality of living under the Lordship of Christ means that like him we have enemies. In his high priestly prayer Jesus reminds the Father that, “I have given them your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of this world.” (John 17:14)

Jesus, leaving his disciples in the midst of the world, in fact sending them into the world, asks the Father to keep them from the evil one. And he asks that his disciples be sanctified in the truth.

John Calvin writes of our union with Christ and how we are constantly nourished in that union. He connects this to the Lord’s Supper which is a sign and a seal of that continuous nourishment. The table is that place of communion, joy and assurance. It is our life hid in Christ. So the paradox; the enemies that trouble and plague us are the defeated ones. In our seeming defeat, they are defeated.

Enemies, whether human or un-human (rulers, powers, world forces of this darkness, spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places -Eph 6:12) can trouble you, insult you, even harm you but they can never touch your life in Christ; you will sit forever supping with the Lamb while they can only look on in defeat. In Christ we have an abundant supply for a constant and continuing feast.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A prayer and song-for our journey

May God be with each traveler as we journey to the Fellowship meeting tomorrow. May we through Scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit follow Jesus the Lord of the Church. Father, draw us near to each other and provide for us a good, wholesome and holy place of ministry. May the fellowship of your adopted sons and daughters be both sweet and refreshing.

We are weary, bruised and sometimes in despair; increase our faith and courage. We are confused and unsettled; give us discernment and settle us deep in your presence. We are cranky and sometimes harsh, arrogant and to often self-serving; may we know only Jesus and him crucified.

Lamb of God the path we are following is filled with both your amazing light and the darkness of worldly seduction; keep us from evil, protect us from evil-let your righteousness be our righteousness, your peace our only power.

And give us Joy oh holy lord.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A huge protest in London against Israel? Really? Up-date

In a day I leave for the Fellowship meeting in Minneapolis, when I return I will have only five days to put my 50th wedding anniversary party together. I should stop blogging for awhile and I intend to but I did want to write about a protest parade against Israel in the streets of London. The YouTube video that the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) placed on their Facebook page stated that thousands marched. In fact the IPMN quotes the video with this:
"Thousands of people have marched through central London to denounce Israel for brutalising the Palestinian people. The marchers urged a political and economic boycott of Israel and pressed Arab countries to isolate the Zionists."

Did you hear about it?

Well, if not that is understandable, it was only in the Iranian Press TV news and sites like Shia TV.  The video comes from Iranian reporters. And there is another perspective on it. But first the video.

The other perspective is on a blog called “For a secular democratic Iran. For Peace and Prosperity in the Middle East.” And the blog is for those who would like their government to change. The posting is: We Stand Against ALL Dictators.

There is a lot of interesting information here, including:
There was something different about the Al-Quds march this year. First of all the number of participants were remarkably less than previous years. After waiting for one hour, at the Portland Place, where the marchers gathered for more busloads to arrive, the policeman I spoke to put the best estimate of their numbers at around 300 max.
And in case you don’t understand what the march is about there is this:
Most people we managed to speak to had no idea the march was organised by the Iranian regime and most of the ones who we managed to speak to, decided not to join the march, like these two Irish friends of Palestine who decided to leave after they realised the Al-Quds march was a propaganda march sponsored and organised by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
I am aware that one of the persons who places links on the IPMN is someone who was born in Iran and lived there as a child so I am surprised that she did not know that this was a government sponsored protest by a dictator and clerics who believe Israel should be obliterated. I simply do not understand why this keeps happening except of course humanity is immoral and depraved.

UP-DATE-I found this "Iranian sponsored anti-Israel march in London (updated)" at Elder of Ziyon. Please notice the signs that say "For world peace Israel must be destroyed."

See also-RichardMillett's Blog And his posting Lauren Booth: “Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt must liberate Jerusalem”.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

San Francisco Theological Seminary & their "Inclusive Community Statement"

There is no ivory tower of theology on this western coast of California. We need not worry about some abstract elitism, but there is a dark foreboding tower in which future pastors will be turned into the creatures of Tolkien’s dark kingdom.

The San Francisco Theological Seminary has produced a document, “SFTS Inclusive Community Statement,” that directs students and faculty to “walk according to the course of this world” and to keep adding sin to sin. It promotes antinomianism which is heresy because it belittles the grace of God.

Not only do they now intend to advocate for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in ministry, they will persist in their use of “queer theologies, and alternative sexualities’ perspectives” in their curriculum. They will be happy for the help of all “who would join [them] in [their] celebration of God’s expansive light.” (Italics mine.) When one goes to the introduction of the document the authors write:
Due to the humble recognition that none can have the fullness of God within limited perspectives and experiences, future generations of students are invited to craft their own statements of inclusivity pertaining to an issue of their passion and append it to this statement with a dated subheading. In so doing, San Francisco Theological Seminary can craft a living testimony to its dynamic theology of hospitality.
The document was sent to Presbyterian Voices for Justice with a letter. In the letter Scott Clark, Interim Associate Dean of Student Life and Chaplain, and Elizabeth B. P. McCord, Director of Enrollment wrote:
We write to you with excitement about the new thing God is doing in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The passing of 10-A is a milestone of the Spirit’s movement in our church …
And this:
We believe that all of us must participate in living into the “new thing” God is doing by helping current and future LGBT Inquirers and Candidates have healthy, meaningful seminary experiences, advocating for their recognition and support in their home Presbyteries, and assisting them in networking to find their first calls in ministry.(Italics mine)
So with Christological heresy, heretical activism and a call for a future ringed by heresy S.F.T.S. has pushed away from Christianity and is not a fit institution for any Christian inquirer or candidate to enter. I want to define the problem with three issues.

1. Queer theologies

2. God’s expansive light & new thing

3. A call for future causes having to do with inclusivity

Queer theologies. Mary Hunt, in Dictionary of Feminist Theologies, gives an outline of the history of the development of Queer Theology, which evidently began with gay men. The troubling aspects of this theological movement is its foundation on differing experiences, its early insistence that Jesus was gay, its use of what Hunt refers to as young people’s “’sexual outlaw’ positions and its insistence that sex is a right (without qualifiers) not a privilege.

One can hardly do an analysis of this, except from a biblical perspective to say “but such were some of you and Christ washed, sanctified and justified you “in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). There is a satanic spirit working within SFTS leading the students not toward Jesus Christ but away. This is not to say that all of the students or professors there are under this influence. Our prayers should be that Jesus will keep the orthodox safe and pure among such rot.

God’s expansive light & new thing. I have already written on this subject at The "new thing," God is doing: what is it? Still, much more can be said. However, the important thought here is that Jesus Christ is the new thing. And all in Christ are new. Because of his life, death and resurrection when we are in him, we are new creations. Jesus forgives us, gives us his righteousness and begins transforming us to his image. As we submit to him, repenting of our sin, we begin to walk in obedience to God.

The use of the term ‘expansive’ is unqualified. Jesus tells us he is the light. (John 8:12) The above term is not different than saying God is doing a new thing. God has not expanded his light except in the sense that he has more clearly revealed himself in Jesus Christ. And in Jesus Christ we take on his righteousness and seek to overcome our sin. The ordination of those involved in un-repented sexual sin, of any kind, has nothing at all to do with God’s light-to insist so is to promote heresy.

A call for future causes having to do with inclusivity. The statement that, “Due to the humble recognition that none can have the fullness of God within limited perspectives and experiences, future generations of students are invited to craft their own statements of inclusivity pertaining to an issue of their passion and append it to this craft a living testimony to its dynamic theology of hospitality,” is inviting the students of SFTS to add sin upon sin. What might they add; one could envision polygamy inclusivity, perhaps pedophile inclusivity; that is a shameful way to guide students.

Rather we should turn back to Christ and his word. We are told in Colossians that in Jesus “all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form “(2:9). In the Christian’s union with Jesus and through his word, the scriptures, we have all of the knowledge that is needed. We can discern what is God’s will and what is not his will through the word of God.

The apostle Paul, when writing to the Ephesians, reminds them that before they were rescued and saved by Jesus Christ, they walked “according to the course of this world, according to the prince and power of the air, [and] of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” And then including himself among the disobedient, he adds, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”

And so, too, have we all been sons and daughters of disobedience and children of wrath. But Christ has been merciful and forgiven our sins. We are seated in “heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We have a tower that is holy, pure and a haven; one which the SFTS has forgotten.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"All that thou sendest us in mercy given"

A dear friend gave my husband and me a gift today. He goes with my husband and another friend to minister to young men who are in prison. In the past it was Preston in Ione. That is closed now so they have gone on to Fire Camp and are trying to start a Bible study there.

The gift? Bill, who was once the head of Inter-varsity in Northern California, has taken the time to look up the topics the publishers of the English Standard Version Bible provided. He has written out the text in full. He had several copies made and has given them out to friends. So today I looked up the topic “discouraged/disappointed.”

Among other verses I found this:

2 Corinthians 4: 8-9-We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”

And this:

1 Thessalonians 3:3- That no man [or woman] should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.”


Hebrews 12:3-For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”

For that one I would rather use my NASV and add the next verse:

Hebrews 12: 3-4-For consider him who has endured such hostility by sinners against himself, so you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin …”

The next line reminds us that it is God who disciplines us which is a sign that we are his sons and daughters. Our lives as they unfold belong to our God.

In the song “Nearer my God to thee” I love the line “all that thou sendest me in mercy given.” And yet I forget it so many times. All that comes to those who belong to Jesus they receive from his hand, in mercy. In the events of our life we experience a rest that lies within the sovereignty of God. What is allowed shapes us into the image of Christ.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The redeeming love of Christ & LGBT homeless youth

ChurchandWorld linked to a poignant story of children killed by their own tribe’s people in order to stave off supposed curses to the community. “Ethiopia's river of death,” reminded me of other missionary stories I have read. Lord’s of the Earth, a sequel to Peace Child, tells of children thrown into the river because they wandered into forbidden territory.

Another is Mary Slessor-Everybody’s Mother, the story of a Scottish Presbyterian missionary who began her ministry in Africa saving twins who were deemed cursed because they were twins. The transforming work of Christ ends the awfulness of such practices; it will hopefully do the same in Ethiopia.

But I am also reminded about the article Michael Adee posted on the More Light Presbyterian site, “Sojourners Enters into Fuller Conversation About LGBT Issues.” I am not finished addressing it. It too is about children at risk, homeless LGBT youth. They too are to easily pitched in the river or undone by the wolves, just in a different manner. And no one seems to care for their souls; certainly not LGBT political organizations who are now using them as pawns in a political game.

In the first posting I wrote on this subject, LGBT homeless youth & religious freedom, I explored the political issues which were pushed in the article. They were the concerns of Adee and others that faith based organizations who believe same gender sex is a sin would be harmful to LGBT homeless young people.

But now I want to address the more important issue, the ultimate needs of LGBT youth. (And in reality all homeless young people have the same basic needs.) Physically they are homeless. They are often hungry, in danger and lonely. Spiritually they are also homeless. Their lives are full of emptiness, brokenness and they are disconnected from themselves, community and God. They not only need to be loved by older responsible adults but they also need to be lead to Jesus, who will give them comfort, love, forgiveness and transformation.

Jesus did not reject the sinner, but he did not leave them in their sin either. His love was transformative.

The daughter of the synagogue official, whom Jesus raised from the dead, was hungry. Jesus told her parents to feed her. (Mark 5:35-43) On the other hand he told the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and follow him. Possessions were the young man’s lust. (Mark 10:17-27) The woman caught in adultery was saved from a self-righteous community that failed to grasp the whole of the law. She was also forgiven and told to go and sin no more. (John 8:1-11) The demoniac who screamed among the tombs and was healed was sent home to tell of his transformation.(Mark 5:1-20)

Jesus gathers his lambs out of dangers; he forgives, restores, meets needs and transforms the sinner. He heals within the community and in the individual heart.

Despite any organization’s use of derogatory words such as bigotry or homophobia, the Church has an obligation to the homeless and rejected to both care for and proclaim God’s words to them. Carefully, with integrity the young people, LGBT young people, need to learn from the Scriptures of God’s grace and God’s will that the Christian, redeemed by Christ, walks in obedience to his Lord. Holiness is an out growth of discipleship.

It is not a question of government grants or subsidies, what matters are Christian care and Christian witness. Those who fail to lead the young to new life in Christ because of a misplaced allegiance to culture or political correctness should be reminded that Jesus said it would be better to have a heavy millstone hung about one’s neck and be cast into the sea then to offend the young who believe in Jesus. (Matthew 18:4-6) And to leave them in their sin without any words about the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ is sin.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

LGBT homeless youth & religious freedom

Michael Adee of More Light Presbyterians has placed a news article on the MLP site entitled “Sojourners Enters into Fuller Conversation About LGBT Issues.” Beneath it he has added The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force report “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness.” The first part of Adee’s article is about Sojourners agreeing to place an ad in their magazine which speaks for LGBT homeless youth and their needs. The end part quotes from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Report. One of the quotes states:

A number of faith-based providers oppose legal and social equality for LGBT people, which raises serious questions about whether LGBT homeless youth can access services in a safe and nurturing environment. If an organization’s core belief is that homosexuality is wrong, that organization (and its committed leaders and volunteers) may not respect a client’s sexual orientation or gender identity and may expose LGBT youth to discriminatory treatment (pg. 5).
In the first part of the article, in a section, taken from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s (GLAAD) blog site, and also from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Report it is stated that 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT.

This part of the report I find a bit sketchy, that is, there is not a good statistical basis in the footnotes of the Task Force Report, to prove the point. For instance the estimate of total homeless youth, “575,000 to 1.6 million per year,” supposedly a US Department of health and Human Services estimate, is footnoted by a paper presented at a forum. In the paper this is stated about sexual orientation:
The rate of gay or bisexual orientation among homeless youth varies across studies. In several studies with shelter and street samples, 3 to 10 percent of youth have reported their sexual orientation as gay, lesbian or bisexual (Greenblatt & Robertson, 1993; Johnson, Aschkenasy, Herbers, & Gillenwater, 1993; Rotheram-Borus et al., 1992b; Toro et al., 1998; Wolfe et al., 1994). Such rates suggest that homeless youth are no more likely than non-homeless youth to report gay or bisexual orientation when compared to the national rate of about 10 percent (Dempsey, 1994). However, higher rates of gay or bisexual identity (16 to 38%) are reported in another set of studies.(5) The higher rates in these studies (16 to 38%) can be accounted for by samples that came from street or clinical sites; tended to be older; included more men (who generally have higher rates than women for gay or bisexual orientation); or came from areas with significant concentrations of gay or bisexual persons in the larger community.
The next statement in the Task Force report cites the percentage of between 20 to 40% of homeless youth identifying as LGBT. The authors write, “Our analysis of the available research suggests that between 20 percent and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).” Footnote #2 directs the reader to a more complete, and undoubtedly more recent, report but it is evidently not on line. While it is unclear, I believe it is a report researched and written by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

My belaboring this point has nothing to do with the needs of LGBT homeless youth. If there was just one LGBT homeless youth their needs should be met. They should not be harmed in any way. However, in this report, with some statistics which may or may not be correct about the magnitude of the problem, some inferences are set to work against those organizations, who because of their faith believe same gender sex to be sin. So I return to the first quote I have placed above:
A number of faith-based providers oppose legal and social equality for LGBT people, which raises serious questions about whether LGBT homeless youth can access services in a safe and nurturing environment. If an organization’s core belief is that homosexuality is wrong, that organization (and its committed leaders and volunteers) may not respect a client’s sexual orientation or gender identity and may expose LGBT youth to discriminatory treatment (pg. 5).
In the report the Salvation Army is singled out as an example:
For example, an internal Salvation Army document obtained by the Washington Post in 2001 confirmed that “…the White House had made a ‘firm commitment’ to issue a regulation protecting religious charities from state and city efforts to prevent discrimination against gays in hiring and providing benefits.”28 Public policy that exempts religious organizations providing social services from non-discrimination laws in hiring sets a dangerous precedent. If an otherwise qualified employee can be fired simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, what guarantee is there that clients, including LGBT homeless youth, will be supported and treated fairly? More research is needed on the policies of FBOs that provide services for LGBT homeless youth.
It has been stated that religious freedom and laws that involve same gender sex are going to meet head on. In this document’s suggestions they do. And in fact, without taking a breath, after mentioning the Salvation Army and how exempting religious organizations from hiring based on sexual orientation will create abuses against LGBT young people, the paper details some horrific abuses of LGBT youth. But none of them by the Salvation Army.

The report goes on to list policy recommendations including,
1. Require all agencies that seek government funding and licensure to serve homeless youth to demonstrate awareness and cultural competency of LGBT issues and populations at the institutional level and to adopt nondiscrimination policies for LGBTyouth.

2. Mandate individual-level LGBT awareness training and demonstrated cultural competency as a part of the professional licensing process of all health and social service professions.

3. Mandate LGBT awareness training for all state agency staff who work in child welfare or juvenile justice divisions.
While these policies are not fully explained, cultural competency generally means acceptance of the cultural values of those being served. This would be unacceptable for any church or organization that holds to the word of God while serving the needs of others. The article that Adee has placed on the MLP site is filled with restrictive insinuations concerning religious freedom.

Yes, Adee is right, “The church has the power to harm or to help in making the world a safer place for LGBT youth.” But the help not only includes insisting on good care for them and all homeless youth, it above all includes telling them of the saving and transforming grace of Jesus Christ. Without that they are no help at all.

Some new links

I want to add several blogs to my links. Recently I wrote about Mary Naegeli’s new blog “Bringing the Word to Life.” I now have that with my links. An excellent blog that has been very busy lately is “the personal blog of Mateen Elass.  If you go to his “An Evangelical Declaration” you will find a new and well thought out statement of faith to consider for the hard times we are now experiencing in the PCUSA today. A blog that is starting to get busier lately by a friend who often comments here is “A Reformed Catholic in the PCUSA.” He has a new posting that is a good read, “Severed dreams.”

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Leaving & Staying in Faithfulness: looking at various church ages & movements 4

The Church struggle in Nazi Germany

A book, Cross and Swastika: the ordeal of the German Church, written by a Swiss, Dr. Arthur Frey, about the confessional battles going on in Germany has a forward written by Karl Barth. The book was published in its English edition in 1938 in the very midst of the church struggle. Interestingly, even the translator, J. Strathearn McNab, got into the act of making a comment on the struggle. He wrote:

The ideas of the “German Christians” have their counterparts in the Churches of Britain and America, but there the different elements that compose contemporary Christian culture remain interfused. No crisis has arisen to isolate them. We can still remain comfortably vague about many things just because we have not thought them out. The German conflict calls us and helps us to see just where we stand. And it must be apparent that we should be well advised to think these things out, not merely for the sake of intellectual clarity and theological integrity, but practically, because the crisis that has confronted the Church in Germany is certainly—if with some superficial differences of form—going sooner or later to confront us here. Germany has no monopoly of paganism and it is not the habit of paganism always to remain passive and non-aggressive.
And what was that paganism that McNab was referring to? It was a God and a revelation centered in the German culture rather than God’s revelation, the Bible, and the living Word of God, Jesus Christ.

The hardcore Nazis were totally pagan. They fulfilled their religious needs and ideals in the German landscape, culture and history. On the other hand, the German Christians were compromisers; they mixed their Christianity with the Nazis paganism. God’s revelation was in Jesus Christ, but it was also in the history and culture of the German people. God was supposedly completing his revelation in Christ with the rise of National Socialism.

Another movement, the German Faith Movement, was very different than Christianity. Frey using Professor Wilhelm Hauer who wrote about their beliefs writes of the Faith movement’s view of death:
The Germanic German faith in life discloses also the eternal meaning of death. The earth is home and sanctuary, it is her will that the generations sink back again into her as they rose up from her, “We say ‘yes’, to death also, for it is the divine’ ‘Must’, the sacred original law of life, to which we willingly submit ourselves.”
And in a ceremony written out by Hauer for the dead the end is, "Loyalty to the earth/Loyalty to the God in us,/Loyalty to the eternal ‘Die and Become.’"

In the midst of all of this the orthodox, called evangelicals in Germany, lost their teaching and pastoral positions. Christianity could not be spoken of in the schools and young people were socialized into the Nazi culture. Believers also lost their freedom to speak publicly of Christianity from a confessional viewpoint and many of them lost their lives in concentration camps. The only Christians with any power were the German Christians who insisted on a synthesis of paganism and Christianity.

But the words that Karl Barth writes in his forward to Cross and Swastika are wholly filled with promise and hope:
In the trials and temptations of these years the Church in Germany has had to learn and has indeed learned, during a long period of shifts and confusions, to look away from these and to turn back anew to its original foundations, to the Holy Scriptures and to the doctrine of the Reformers. In doing so it has experienced that it is itself free, strong and alive in the measure in which it dared to hold to its Lord alone and to His own Word, in opposition to the new bonds with which it was threatened … In present day Germany where it is so despised, the Bible is being more diligently and more attentively read, both by theologians and non-theologians, and its Word is making itself more mightily heard than perhaps has been the case since the sixteenth century. Faith in God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, now that it is so contested, has become a precious thing. Trouble has taught men to pray.
The Lord of the church, Jesus Christ, the word of God, the Bible, prayer in the midst of trouble and confusion, these are for the church under the cross. We are now called to be the church under his cross. This is how we follow Christ and hold onto the unity that we have with one another through our union with Christ.

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem his name. “They will be mine” says the Lord of hosts,, “on the day that I prepare my own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not serve him” (Malachi 3:16-18).

Friday, August 12, 2011

Leaving & Staying in Faithfulness: looking at various church ages & movements 3

From Wycliffe to the Moravians

I have been writing about movements and various churches in relationship to the struggles the orthodox within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are experiencing. I am looking at what it means to be faithful both by staying or leaving a denomination that has kicked aside the authority of the word of God, thus rending all of her confessions, both ancient and contemporary, void of meaning. Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence writing of the mainline denomination’s battles over the ordination of LGBT persons and same gender marriage wrote of that fight and its connection to the Bible’s authority:

When all is resolved—and it most surely will be—the Reformation’s understanding of Scripture as it has been taught by Protestantism for almost five centuries will be dead. … Of all the fights, the gay one must be—has to be—the bitterest, because once it is lost, there are no more fights to be had. It is finished. Where now is the authority?
But contrary to Tickle’s statement it is precisely God’s word and its authority that holds, keeps, and constantly returns the church back to her Lord.

Because of the word of God orthodox Christianity can often be traced in unbroken movements across continents and time. (No need for five-hundred year paradigms here.) Wycliffe connects to John Hus and Hus to the Bohemian Brethren, they to the Moravians, and as most know, John Wesley in the middle of a storm at sea, found true conversion to Christ among the Moravians. Such a history occurs because of God’s word and its authority. On the essentials they were in agreement and the Word of God informed them and was heard by them.

Of the English reformer, Wycliffe (1328-1384), historian William Estep writes:
For Wycliffe the authority of the Bible was supreme. … For Wycliffe the Bible was not just one authority among many—i.e., tradition and the church; it alone stood above all authorities. “Neither the testimony of Augustine nor Jerome, nor any other saint,” he wrote “should be accepted except in so far as it is based on Scripture.”[1]
Before his death Wycliffe trained a group of men to teach what he had proclaimed. The message went as far as Bohemia and there it took root. As historian Kenneth Scot Latourette points out it was probably helped by the devout Bohemian wife of England’s King Richard II. Anne of Luxemburg, sister of Bohemia’s king, brought with her, to England, “Copies of the Bible in Latin, German and Czech” and at the same time some Bohemian students studied at Oxford, Wycliffe’s school. [2]

In Bohemia John Hus (around 1373-1415) read the writings of Wycliffe. (While he did not agree with all of Wycliffe’s thoughts he did agree with their substance) Hus was a popular preacher and university lecturer. As Estep points out “His influence was enormous. Even the archbishop, following his lead, had declared fornicating priests to be heretics.”[3]

 After Hus’s martyrdom, he was burnt at the stake, this desire for both a moral lifestyle among the clergy and biblical teaching was insisted on by Hus’s followers. Latourette writes of them:
One [of the groups], aristocratic, known as the Utraquists because in communion they gave both the bread and the wine to the laity, wished the free preaching of the gospel and a moral clergy and stood against only those practices of the Catholic church which they regarded as forbidden by the Bible. [4]
Another group was the Taborites who never realigned with the Catholic Church but were always a separate body. In Bohemia around the 15th century the Bohemian Brethren were formed. They seemed, as Latourette states “to have been made up of elements from the Utraquists, Taborites and Waldensees.” He also writes that his readers would meet them again as “spiritual ancestors of the Moravians.”[5]

The Bohemian Brethren were terribly persecuted  and were often an underground group. Many of them were influenced by Lutheranism, others by Swiss Calvinism. In 1722 some Protestants from both Bohemia and Moravia fled Catholic persecution and found refuge in what is now Germany. Nicolaus Ludwig, Count of Zinzendorf gave them refuge on his estates, “They founded the village of Herrnhut on his property, he identified himself with them and became a bishop of their church, and through him missionaries from among them went out to various parts of the world.” [6]

The Moravians still exist today and are in communion with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). And they also are in battle over the authority of Scripture and homosexuality. They, in 1990-93, began seriously dealing with that issue. They did not come to a consensus as they must in their voting. But all of the horrible pushy agenda that has been aimed at the orthodox in all of the mainline churches is there.

The main theologian that wrote a paper for others to address is Art Freeman, his paper, "An Understanding of the "Nature of Scripture and Its Authority" clearly attacks the inspiration and authority of Scripture. Stephen Nicholas who lays out the debate on the Moravian web site writes:
Br. Freeman in his paper maintained that scripture is not the word of God, but it contains the word of God, along with many other things that are reflections of ancient myths and cultural traditions. The task of the church as interpreters of scripture, is to separate the authentic word of God from the various human traditions and perspectives. Dr. Freeman says, "Historical study has made it difficult to deny that scripture was produced as part of the historical process. Also, when one reads scripture as a whole, and not merely selected texts, the great variety of perspectives and answers to common questions within scripture become apparent. This makes it very difficult to make scripture as the only source of our faith and life."
And so we come full circle. Wycliffe believed that “the authority of the Bible was supreme.” The line of believers I have written about were brought to Jesus and his redeeming work as they read and listened to the word of God. Some of them prospered changing whole nations. Some of them gave their lives in a fiery ordeal of martyrdom or they went into exile and poverty for the sake of the Lord and in obedience to his word. Many went to distant lands freely proclaiming the gospel. Now the children of the martyrs and refugees are willing to kick aside the word of God for their own selfish desires.

Who do we listen to—that was one of the questions asked when I wrote about my church leaving while I stay on in a denomination which has forgotten, as Martin Luther put it, that their most important function as a Christian is to listen to the word of God, the Bible. We must listen to the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ, and to his word the Bible.

Do we go it alone—another question asked? No, but it is the Lord of the Church who chooses our companions. And I believe he is still gathering those people for his purposes.

I will write next about a movement I have written about before—perhaps too many times—the Confessing Church of Nazi Germany.

[1]William R. Estep, Renaissance, Reformation, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans 1986) 65.

[2]Kenneth Scot Latourette A History of Christianity: Beginnings to 1500, Vol. 1, paperback edition, (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco 1975) 667.

[3]Estep, Reformation, 70.

[4]Latourette, A History, 669.


[6]Latourette, A History, Vol. 2, 897.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Leaving & Staying in Faithfulness: looking at various church ages & movements 2

The Reformation

How many times have I heard someone say or write there is nothing wrong with leaving the PCUSA “wasn’t that what the Reformation was about; leaving a corrupt church.” How many times have I heard people say “we shouldn’t leave the PCUSA until we are forced to leave; isn’t that the way it happened to Luther, Calvin and all of the other reformers?” History is never that simple. But those two positions in contradiction to each other are in some ways true and yet filled with so much other content that such arguments are meaningless.

Thinking historically on one side the corrupt church had been rather divided itself. After three Popes claimed to be Pope at the same time (1378-1417) a council was called (The Constantine Council called by Emperor Sigismund) to decide what to do. They called a different man to be Pope. And that was part of the division, between Pope and Council.[1]

However, it was the same Council that declared that John Wycliffe’s teachings were heretical and burned John Hus at the stake.[2]

But thinking biblically and looking at God’s side of historical events, the word of God was at work and it can never be thwarted. The word read, the word proclaimed, the word listened to, would do its work and it would not be stopped. So all of the events that transpired, that brought back authority to God’s word, that returned human hearts to justification by faith, that removed the sacraments from a magical ritual minus the word, must be blamed on the providence of God. As many were guided by the Holy Spirit to a clear understanding of the word of God, Jesus as Lord was once again lifted up. He once again became Lord.

As Timothy George writes:
What Luther did do, what he was called to do, was to listen to the Word. “The nature of the word is to be heard” he remarked. He also said, “If you were to ask a Christian what his task is and by what he is worthy of the name Christian, there could be no other response than hearing the Word of God, that is faith. Ears are the only organs of the Christian.” He listened to the word of God because it was his job to do so and because he had come to believe his soul’s salvation depended upon it. Luther did not become a reformer because he attacked indulgences. He attacked indulgences because the Word had already been deep in his heart. [3]
And so the acts of the reformers followed from the word of God. And their acts, their proclamation, brought down the wrath of unconverted sinners on the heads of the reformers and brought many to understand that Jesus forgives and justifies the sinner.

Most are familiar with Luther and his debate with John Eck as with his brave speech at Worms. Most know that Calvin was Catholic and French but ended up as the great Protestant Pastor of Geneva in Switzerland. Most know that Zwingli was a Swiss Pastor who died in battle with a double edged weapon (not the Bible) in his hand, but the details of the actions of the reformers are broad and deep. They show the vast and incomprehensible ways that God guides his church. And they also show the care that these individuals held for the authority of the word, the salvation of souls, the building up of the church and the need to always glorify God.

Luther’s attacks on indulgences, birthed from the biblical text that God’s salvation is a gift, hit at the very heart of a papacy and a system that was involved in buying favoritism and buildings with money given to earn forgiveness and salvation. Grace and charity meant nothing to his opponents. Money and buildings, position and cathedrals were all important.

Not only did Luther preach the word of God in his churches, not only did he dispute with the church hierarchy at least four times, defending all on the basis of the biblical text, when the text of his excommunication arrived, he burnt it. Worm was to follow and then the Pope declared him an ‘outlaw’ (vogelfreis).[4]

While still a Catholic priest, Zwingli, because of the word of God, did several remarkable things. In 1519 he broke the tradition of using the lectionary (which leaves out some biblical texts) and instead began expository preaching starting with Matthew. Going further, as his faith grew, he renounced his priesthood and his papal pension. George writes:
By the early 1520’s, Zwingli could no longer retain his status as a priest in the Roman Church. Two events mark his break with Rome and his public adherence to the Protestant cause. In late 1520 he renounced the papal pension he had been receiving for several years. Two years later, on October 10, 1522, he resigned his office as “people’s priest” of Zurich, whereupon the city council promptly hired him as a preacher to the entire city. [5]
Zwingli was probably the most volatile of the Reformers, but always because of the word of God. Finding nothing in the Bible about not eating meat during lent, he fed some tired workers sausages and kraut and then defended them when they were arrested. One historian wag states, “The fat was in the fire, literally and figuratively.” [6]

John Calvin was part of an incident in Paris that caused him to flee, eventually to Switzerland:
Nicholas Cop, a friend of Calvin and Rector of the University of Paris, delivered a convocation address which shocked his hearers. Though not what we would call a hot gospel sermon, it had enough evangelical content to offend the defenders of Catholic orthodoxy. On All Saints Day, Cop did not praise the saints but rather proclaimed Christ as the only mediator with God. Cop was forced to flee for his life. [7]
Calvin was “implicated in the event.” He left the city. Later others posted placards around the city about the superstitions connected to the mass. The French evangelicals were persecuted; many fleeing from France including Calvin to Switzerland. [8]

All of these incidents came by way of the proclamation of the word; the Bible proclaimed and listened to by Christians. They had ears, and listened and followed where the Lord led by means of the word of God. Today in our denomination, some will go because God calls them to go. Some will stay because God calls them to stay. But all will be attentive to the word and only in that obedience will we find ourselves where God wills to work.

[1]See, Timothy George, Theology of the Reformers, (Nashville: Broadman Press 1988), 34

[2]Ibid. 35.
[3]Ibid, 54.
[4]See William R. Estep, Renaissance, Reformation, for a good account of Luther’s debates and trial.

[5]George, Theology of Reformer, 114.
[6]William R. Estep, Renaissance, Reformation (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans 1986) 170.
[7]George, Theology of Reformer, 175-176.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Leaving & Staying in Faithfulness: looking at various church ages & movements

The biblical church

Someone commenting on my post, about my church leaving the PCUSA and my staying, asked some thoughtful questions. With the understanding that I might be misreading some of the questions or that my definitions may change his questions, I will attempt to answer them with several posts. His questions:

“None of us is so wise and righteous that we can dispense with the instruction and correction of the larger body of Christ. Yet, what do we do when we think the larger body of which we are a part has failed to correctly discern the spirit? Do we strike out on our own? Or submit to the larger body?

What does it mean to be loyal to the church? Is it loyalty to the worshiping community of which I'm a part? Or is it loyalty to the larger web of connections across the region?”
I wrote of using historical movements to explore these questions but first I want to look at biblical thoughts about what it means to be in submission to the larger body when their discernment doesn’t seem right. And of course right up front we have to say biblically that church councils had the last word and the correct word in deciding theological disputes in scripture. That belongs to the apostolic witness.

But there are important ideas to gather from reading about those councils in Acts. Luke records two councils that dealt with theological issues and both have to do with Gentiles becoming Christians. One was to explore how that could be possible, (Acts 10:34-11:18), and the other was to ask what was required of the Gentiles in order for them to be in the Church (15).

Peter’s vision and God’s actions of pouring out the Holy Spirit on the Gentles was a part of that first discussion but the important point here is that all was wrapped up in scripture and the person of Jesus Christ. We have a record of what Peter preached to the Gentles. The cross and the resurrection was the gospel preached, as was the fact that Jesus is “judge of the living and the dead.”

The amazing statement in this sermon is that “all the prophets bear witness that through his name everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins.” There is respect for scripture and no pluralism. For the Gentiles this was true conversion; the sinner turned to Christ. God blessed the receiving of his word with the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Jerusalem Council agreed.

The second Council met over whether the Gentiles needed to be circumcised. The text states there was “much debate.” That’s good! Here the council looked at what had already occurred. God had brought salvation not only to the Jews but also the Gentiles. But more importantly the Council turned to the authority of Scripture and the promise of God which was once again Jesus Christ.

God was rebuilding the tabernacle of David. (Amos 9:11 also Jeremiah 12:15)[1] That is, David’s house would be rebuilt and that rebuilding came about by way of the Incarnation, the Son of David, who was also David’s Lord. The house would include those Gentiles who were called by the lord’s name. Always scripture, always Jesus Christ; the Church, the body of Christ is formed and unified around the living Word and the written word. Church councils and bodies must not ignore this.

There is one place in the New Testament where the text refers to a group of people who have left their original church body. That is in 1John. John is writing to a group of Christians, a local body, who have been troubled by a pseudo-Gnostic group of people. The heretical group has evidently left the Church. The author writes:

They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. (1John 2:19)

This is an interesting case and it has been used wrongly against people who have left one denomination for another. But it must be seen in the context of 1 John. John is very clear; the people who left, the false teachers, are Antichrist. F.F. Bruce states that “the early Christians recognized Antichrist not only in the enemy who attacked them from without but also in the enemy who seduced them from within.” [2]

John gives a description of those who can be classified as Antichrist. They deny that Jesus is the Christ. And he implies that they were teaching an elitist form of salvation based on knowledge rather than Jesus’ death and bodily resurrection. The point is that in this local church some false teachers had tried to seduce the believers and had probably taken some with them when they left. But the faithful persevered, and John’s letter was an encouragement. But many times false teachers stayed and seduced whole churches. Bruce writes:
There is an ominous note in Paul’s Miletus address to the elders of the Ephesian church, when they were warned that from their own ranks ‘will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them’ (Acts 20.30). An outstanding example of the threat presented by syncretistic tendencies to the unique essence of Christianity is the ‘Colossian heresy’ which, only a few years after Paul’s Ephesian ministry, was rife in the church of Colossae and other cities of the Lycus valley … which is refuted in the Epistle to the Colossians (c. AD 61). Worse was yet to follow: a landslide away from apostolic teaching is implied in the words of 2 Tim. 1.15, ‘You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me.’ [3]
While Bruce goes on to show how there was improvement after the landslide, we find once again, in the letters to the seven churches of Asia, in Revelation, a description of a church where many had given themselves over to false teaching which included sexual immorality. (Rev. 2: 18-29)Jesus warns Thyatira that he will judge both the teacher and her followers if they do not repent. And yet there are those who have not followed the false teacher or her teachings. They are given promises by Christ and told to hold on to what they already have. And he had already commended them for their faith, love, service and perseverance.

So what I am trying to get at here is a picture of the New Testament Church where the complexity of multiple options for membership and authority did not really exist. Those who were faithful either watched false teachers leave, undoubtedly in a huff and with their new recruits, or they watched their churches fill up with heretical agendas and simply persevered still faithful to the Lord of the Church and the doctrines of the Apostles. And some Churches disappeared altogether.

The larger body of Christ is always that body that listens together to apostolic teaching which includes the whole word of God. Such listening is done under the Lordship of Jesus Christ as the church listens to his word, which is the written word, the Bible. Loyalty involves first of all the Lord Jesus Christ. That loyalty to Christ includes his word. When a denomination listens to the ethics of the culture over and above the word of God they are not acknowledging the Lord of the Church or the authority of his word.

Individually we do not strike out on our own, but I think it is possible to trace God’s gathering of his people together for his purposes throughout church history. It is messy and not at all systematic but nonetheless the providential care of the Lord of the church is there. I want to look next at the Reformation; some myths or half truths might be put to rest. And I think we will see a place for the individual but always in union with Christ and with fellow believers.

[1] For a posting I wrote on the Jeremiah text see, The Great Speckled Bird of Jeremiah
[2]F.F. Bruce, The Epistles of John, (grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans 1970) 68.

[3]Ibid, 14.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

For all the orthodox in the PC(U.S.A.)

The Perfect Storm...Song? You will understand even if you don't understand the language. God's promises are sure and full of his love!

Hat Tip Brad Larson

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Paul, Jude and the GAPJC

I have written about it before, the naked guy at the university in Berkeley. He had decided to wear no clothes. He was eventually kicked out. No matter, he still walked the streets of Berkeley naked. For several years now, in an environmental protest, a group of people have ridden bikes in San Francisco in the nude. The city does not stop them. Civilization degenerates without laws and guidance. Those who are reformed Christians generally understand this; after all we are all sinful by nature.

The ruling by the General Assembly’s Permanent Judicial Commission on the two cases, Parnell et al v. Presbytery of San Francisco & Session of Caledonia P. C. et al v. Presbytery of John Knox, will have the same affect on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Churches, without biblical and confessional guidance and discipline, eventually stop being churches; they just become secular institutions or worse, temples to false gods. The need to embrace a self-indulgent society is all too apparent. Recently a Presbyterian Pastor in the bay area wrote about watching the San Francisco Pride parade. In his posting, “a day for pride,” he stated:
I was thrilled to see so many other St. Johns’ folks in the parade; for their child’s school, for a government department, running for political office or a corporation. I was amazed at the expressions of pride, some of which would certainly not be allowed even on US Air! But I won’t go into details, but let’s just say I saw things that made me blush. I was reminded of God’s creativity at making each person different, not confined to our image, what we would create, but in God’s glorious image. My imagination of what God is up to in all our lives was indeed stretched. I had a special sense of God’s presence as I witnessed the freedom and acceptance of almost everyone along the parade route. I watched the children, unsophisticated and receptive; enjoy the diversity, colors and enthusiasm of openness, with encouraging parents willing to take on the questions they no doubt heard on their way home.
The apostle Paul lived in such a world. As Rome pushed beyond her early republic, into empire, and the beginning of fragmentation, the bizarre and the immoral became the norm. But Paul didn’t buy into the culture; instead he pulled the lost to the safety of a redeeming and transforming Lord. In 1 Corinthians he writes of those who were once fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexual, thieves, drunkards and swindlers but were now justified in Christ. Paul was writing of those who were unbelievers yet some were now in the church, justified, sanctified and transformed by the Lord of the Church.

Jude also lived in that world but he addresses the problem of the world creeping into the Church.

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long before hand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ. (4)

Michael Green in his commentary on Jude understands that the false teachers, the persons who crept in, were misusing the grace of God. He writes:
Libertinism was to be found both in Pauline and Petrine churches (Rom 13:13; 2 Cor 12:21; Gal 5:19; Eph. 4:19; 1Peter 4:3; 2Peter 2:2, 7, 18) and also in John’s circle in Asia (Rev. 2:20-24) It is hardly surprising that men accepted the indicative of pardon and forgot the imperative of holiness. It was an inherent risk in the proclamation of the gospel of free grace; the apostolic conclusion was to attack lasciviousness, but to continue to preach the grace of God who accepts the unacceptable. (174-75)
Jude’s description of those he warns the faithful about is that they are mockers of the faith and follow, not Jesus Christ, but “ungodly lusts.” Because of their mocking, lusts and lack of the Spirit they cause divisions. They pull others off into their own antinomian opinions and ways. Divisions in the church are caused by those who refuse to obey the Lord of Scripture; who ignore his word.

Yet clearly Jude is here insisting on an attempt at rescue of those being pulled into such immoral false teaching.

But you beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. (20-23)

Green looks at the three groups that the faithful are to attend to. The first group doubt because of false teaching about morality. Did God really say that in his word? Doesn’t the grace of God call for inclusiveness and radical hospitality? Jude’s word is to have mercy on them. As Green puts it, have them over for Coffee:
A man who is flirting with false teaching is not to be ‘sent to Coventry’ by his Christian friends; they must have him to coffee and chat it over with him in love. And they must know the faith so well that they can convince him while he is still hesitating. (203)
Green says of the second group “This group differs from the first in that they no longer hesitate; they have given way to the false teachers.” They need to be snatched from fire.

Green uses Calvin and his admonition “When there is danger of fire, we hesitate not to snatch away violently whom we desire to save; for it would not be enough to beckon with the finger, or kindly to stretch forth the hand.” This isn’t a call for violence against someone but violence in the sense of urgency and action. No time for coffee here, but rather confrontation.

The third group and their defiled garment actually implies that they have so entered into sinful actions without any sense that it is sin that they have contaminated all that is a part of themselves. But even here the faithful are called to respond but carefully so as not to be contaminated:
The Christian worker has the wonderful offer of a change of raiment for the defiled, a robe of righteousness for the man clothed in filthy rags (c.f. Is. 61: 10) and he must proffer it in love and mercy. But once he begins to revel in the filthy garment, once he tolerates it and toys with it, he ceases to be a useful servant of Christ at all. Once he treats sin as normal and commonplace, he is on his way to betraying the gospel. (204)
It matters not what the GAPJC decides, what any synod or presbytery or church does, what any pastor writes in praise of sin and the world, Jesus Christ is the victor, he won the battle on the cross, we rest in him. As Jude writes:

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of his glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominon and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What's in a name? Don't ask IPMN or Stephen Sizer

What's in a name? Sometimes a very good man, somtimes a bad one. And if people confuse them well ...

Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, should probably change his name. Some keep getting his name mixed up with someone else and then they think ‘aha’ this will prove that evangelicals don’t like Israel. So using Colson’s name or thinking they have linked to the evangelical Charles Colson, they produce a true anti-Semite, Charles Carlson of We Hold These Truths of Strait Gate Ministries.

Gordon Duff of Veterans Today did that. He even had a picture of Colson on his front page and then a video of Charles Carlson making horrible statements about Israel and Christian Zionists because that is Carlson’s main focus. It took me and finally someone from Charles Colson’s ministry to convince Duff that he had the wrong man. And then there is the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) and their friend Stephen Sizer.

Now I don’t really know if Sizer and the IPMN are confused or if they both are purposely linking ‘again’ to a rabid anti-Semite site. But given that the small posting that Sizer has written and IPMN has linked to is about Evangelicals changing their mind about Israel, I think they may just be confused. (I hope they are.) The posting is “Is Zionism losing ground among Evangelicals?” Sizer refers to ‘Carlson’ with a large quote:
The poll results state that 73% of those polled think "God's covenant with the Jewish people" continues today, and only 22% say it does not. It should be noted here that this is a Judeo-Christian give-away, since it is based on a false premise. The Pew Forum and all Evangelicals need to understand that there never was an Old Testament covenant with "the Jewish people." Most Evangelicals, radical or moderate, fail to properly distinguish the ancient tribe of Israelites from the Jews of today, and in particular, the Jewish inhabitants of the modern secular Jewish state of Israel. This error is the result of scriptural distortion that is encouraged by the State of Israel and its lobbies in the USA, and by the Israel-friendly press.
Now if Sizer had read the whole article he would have read the beginning and the subtitle the article was placed under. The subtitle is “Pharisee Watch” and the beginning of the article states, “A recent Global Survey of Evangelical Protestant Leaders, taken by the Pew Forum for Religious and Public Life, reveals cracks in the structure of Evangelicalism, best described as Judeo-Christianity, welcome news for all those who labor for world peace and financial stability.”

Sizer should have realized that Charles Colson would not insult his fellow Evangelicals like that.

But more importantly Sizer ignored the middle section of his Carlson quote. “The Pew Forum and all Evangelicals need to understand that there never was an Old Testament covenant with "the Jewish people." Most Evangelicals, radical or moderate, fail to properly distinguish the ancient tribe of Israelites from the Jews of today, and in particular, the Jewish inhabitants of the modern secular Jewish state of Israel.”

And if he didn’t ignore it he is himself an anti-Semite.

That is the old anti-Semitic farce, that the Jewish Israeli citizens of today are not in anyway linked to the ancient Israelites.

If one looks at the books offered on Carlson’s web site there are books by Gordon Ginn a holocaust revisionist and Eustace Mullins, a well known anti-Semite.

One book by George Armstrong is summarized:
Mayer Amshel Rothschild, the founder of the Rothschild fortune, at the time of his death in 1812, created a trust of his estate, by will, for the elevation of the jewish race and establishment of a Jewish World Empire. The estate has been preserved and managed since his death as a unit in persuance [sic] of the provisions of his will. This 1940 classic examines the origin of the Rothschild Empire, gold, the Federal Reserve, and how the money trust twice arranged for World War.
The information in this conspiratorial book is also classic anti-Semitism.

On the site of the Anti-Defamation League under extremism in America, there is an article on the Institute for Historical Review, a now faltering group that attempts to prove the Holocaust did not happen. In the article it is mentioned that in 2004 the IHR joined with the neo-Nazi National Alliance to hold a Holocaust denial conference in Sacramento. Among the speakers was Charles Carlson.

That is the activity of a rabid anti-Semite

I started out with a funny thought. Perhaps that very godly man, Charles Colson, should change his name. I end with a different thought, a serious one. The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the PCUSA should find someone else to pick out articles to link to, someone with a sense of fairness, integrity and with a desire to be an honest Christ honoring Christian. And Stephen Sizer should do a better job of researching his leads. It is too bad, but there is a growing movement of anti-Semites in the world today.[1]

[1]While sending a letter off to Mr Sizer, I discovered this new article on Veterans Today, "The Military Solution" by J. Bruce Campbell. Here is a quote to help my readers understand the growing antiSemitism in the United States:

"Again, the US military has not covered itself in glory. It is covered by Jewish slime. The US military is a disgrace and has always been a disgrace. It must be purged of its subversive agents of Judaism.

American and Israeli Jews exercise control of the US military via Freemasonry and homosexuality, both of which are rampant in the senior officer class of the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy, according to the courageous revelations of Kay Griggs, the former wife of Marine Colonel George Griggs. The colonel revealed to his wife that the senior officer class participates in the vilest forms of “male bonding,” done for the purposes of mind control and obedience to illegal orders, which include assassination.

Israel, with American Jewish permission, has threatened to unleash its weapons of mass destruction on the capitals of Europe. Reports persist here that Israel has planted nuclear weapons in American cities that will be detonated if Israel is not obeyed.

Other credible reports indicate that Israel was responsible for the Japanese nuclear disaster in retaliation for Japan’s support of the Palestinians in the UN. Also that Israel attempted to kill Germany’s president for the same reason (sabotaged helicopter) and that the Norwegian slaughter of children was for that country’s pro-Palestinian position.

This level of threatened and actual mass murder can only be thwarted by the masters of mass murder, the US military, which has been under the Jewish spell since at least 1861. There is only one way that the US military can redeem itself and rescue the world from the fruit of its sadistic behavior on behalf of Judaism. Judaism must be removed as a threat to life on this planet and prevented from ever rising again."