Monday, August 20, 2012

A Huffington article, church history and Eric Metaxas speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast

A blog posting at Huffington Post, “American Christians Cannot Claim Persecution” written by Emily Timbol, and linked to by ChurchandWorld has some truth. After all when was the last time you heard of a Christian in the United States being burned at the stake, eaten by animals or crucified? Timbol refers to Christians in other parts of the world who are truly being persecuted for their faith. And as a Christian I am glad she takes note of their suffering: too many in the media do not. But then Timbol writes:

What is important to note is what these Christians were, or are, being persecuted for -- their faith and belief in Jesus Christ, and Christ alone.
But what is she implying? Simply this: that if Christians in the United States are experiencing any difficulty it isn’t because of ‘their faith and belief in Jesus Christ,’ but because of their involvement in causes that Timbol defines as oppressive. She writes:
Understanding that, it is reprehensible how many American Christians have recently claimed that they too are being "persecuted." Not for proclaiming a faith in Jesus Christ, but for supporting causes and issues that Jesus never said a word on. Specifically, some Christians are claiming that their religious freedom is being infringed, and they're facing persecution, because they aren't able to vocally support oppression toward homosexuals without facing opposition.
So Timbol’s posting isn’t really about Christian persecution or even Christians in America claiming to be persecuted. It is instead about Christians insisting that same gender sex is sinful. Timbol misunderstands: faith in Christ is not divorced from discipleship or the authority of God’s word. Proclaiming and living out Christian faith isn’t disconnected from the real world. And sexual sin is one of the areas where Christians have had to stand for Christ even if it meant suffering.

Church history is full of stories of faithful Christians suffering because of such conflict with rulers and laws. John the Baptist died because he accused Herod of disobeying the biblical law when he married his brother’s wife. The first large persecution of Christians happened because an unsavory ruler, who dabbled in all kinds of perverse sin including sexual sin, which included marrying someone of the same sex, accused the Christians of burning down half of Rome.

Another early Christian leader was killed when he advised a Christian lady to leave her husband since the husband was insisting she participate in orgies with him and the servants. The leader did confess to being a Christian and was put to death for that reason, but he was accused of being a Christian because he encouraged the lady to leave her husband for the sake of purity. (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History152-53)

There is a strong possibility that early Christians in the Church at Thyatira suffered poverty because they were unable to participate in the guilds which would have exposed them to both idolatry and “sexual Looseness.” (Leon Morris, Revelation: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries)

Some of the early Christian martyrs of Uganda were killed because they refused to participate in same gender sex with the king.[1] But politics and the king’s ego were also a part of the mix. It is a very rare event for a Christian to be killed or suffer for simply insisting with their voice that Jesus is Lord—one’s life must also proclaim Jesus is Lord.

Many orthodox Christians in the mainline denominations find themselves between a rock and a hard place. They have compassion and love for those in the LGBT community desiring that they should be transformed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but at the same time they must be faithful to the Lord. It is extremely disheartening to watch denominations be torn apart and destroyed by those who are failing to obey both biblical standards and the confessions of the church. So the Christian is called to love and to be firm in their faith at the same time.

It is probably redundant to say that Timbol simply doesn’t understand the implications of what it means to be a Christian. As I write this I am thinking of Eric Metaxas, the author of the recent biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Metaxas clearly understands that Christian faith both proclaims Christ and lives out that faith in a public witness. Bonhoeffer died as a Christian, but he suffered in prison because he helped Jews to escape across the borders of Germany into Switzerland; he suffered death because he was part of a plot to kill Hitler.

To just be reminded of how one loves those who are tearing up the church and yet witnesses in faithfulness about the Lord, here is the speech given by Metaxas at the recent prayer breakfast in Washington D.C. The first part is funny--but wait!

[1] There are many links on the internet with information about the martyrs, all slightly different and all interesting. Here is another link The Uganda Martyrs.


Anonymous said...

Ms. Larson, you imply again that all Christians are bigoted against gay people and believe that same gender marriage and relationships are a sin.

You are a member of a denomination that ordains GLBT people Ms. Larson, please remember that before you incorrectly present your view as speaking for all Christians, when you do not even speak for the majority opinion on the issue of Gay ordination in your own denomination, which is one that only narrowly voted at the last GA not to send a the issue to the Presbyteries.

To say "conservative believe..." is one thing.

To imply that is the only view of Christians on the topic is another thing entirely.


Reformed Catholic said...


You said: You are a member of a denomination that ordains GLBT people Ms. Larson, please remember that before you incorrectly present your view as speaking for all Christians, when you do not even speak for the majority opinion on the issue of Gay ordination in your own denomination, which is one that only narrowly voted at the last GA not to send a the issue to the Presbyteries.

In reality, yes, Viola does speak for the majority of Christians in the world. Its only in the West where we have decided that the Bible is just an historic document that meant something in its day, where the historic view of sexual relationships and marriage is not valid.

As far as speaking for the majority opinion in the PC(USA), you can infer that the votes of the GA and Presbyteries indicate a majority opinion.

But I can infer that the loss of members every year shows that many do not agree with that 'so called' majority opinion.

Anonymous said...

To Gene in Atlanta,

I am surprised Mrs. Larson continues to allow your folly on her site. Very seldom do you bring anything other than sullen propaganda all of which is based on false premiss. After all, it is her blog. No one forced you to read here. Each time I see your name I am reminded of Proverbs 30:2-3 (KJV). So please, if you must blog, how about bringing substance. Your opinion is just that: yours. So keep it to yourself.

Boris in North Carolina

Anonymous said...

The Huffington article makes an easy enough point that you've not been able to dismiss: Bigotry is not the way of the cross. In fact, it's LGBT people and their supporters who are being persecuted and even murdered for their love. And you all still think that being gay is a "lifestyle" and a "choice." No one dies for a lifestyle.

Candace O'Brien
Norfolk, VA

Viola Larson said...


I don't believe I said any Christians were bigoted against LGBT people. I didn't say that at all. Those who are orthodox love LGBT people enough to tell them that Jesus loves them too and wants to change them and heal their brokenness as he does all of us.

There is a vast difference between hating someone and disagreeing with the way they live.

Viola Larson said...


I grant you that there have been some hate crimes committed again LGBT people in this country and that is horrible and a crime. And certainly bigotry is not the way of the cross. You are right about that.

However, believing that same gender sex is sin, which it is, is not bigotry it is instead a biblical position that the church has held for 2000 years. But Christians are not called to hate sinners, after all Christians are sinners who have repented and are forgiven because of Jesus death on the cross. So we are called to love the sinner and proclaim Jesus death and resurrection to all.

Viola Larson said...

I appreciate your thoughts--and your care, but please do not tell anyone on my blog to keep their thoughts to themselves. I know how to delete people if they get too insulting.

I want people like Candace and Gene who come to my site to find the love and redemption of Jesus here as long as they don’t insult others.

Viola Larson said...

Reformed Catholic,
I think one can go even further on that. The bigger churches in our denomination do not have as many representatives as the clusters of small churches in the denomination. And it has been mostly the large churches which have been the most orthodox.

But you are certainly right, many who would disagree with the ordaining of LGBT people have voted with their feet.

Chas Jay said...

Thank you and all the men and women like yourself that stood firm to tell me the truth in my disobedience. Love is truthful and does not lie. Thank you for continuing to share true, Godly love.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Lawson,
No disrespect intended. Your compassion and love for Christ shines!

Boris in North Carolina

Ephesians 5:1-2

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Larson, please, for the sake of decency, do not insult me by implying that I do NOT have the love and redemption of Jesus Christ. I am a baptized and active member of the Church, and love God deeply. That is one of the most hurtful things I have ever read.

To imply I am broken is a DEEP insult to me, my faith, and the identity I have as the person God made me to be Mrs. Larson, as well to the GLBT pastors, elders and laity you share this church with as an elder yourself.

I should just state this now. I will never, ever hold the theological opinions you do on GLBT issues. Ever. Please know that fact as we go forward, should you be open to opposing ideas enough to let me continue posting. It will make discussion easier.

Amazingly, you do not even realize when you are being insulting and hurtful towards me and others like me in the Church. That is the saddest part of all.

Boris, I bring substance. My facts are researched well. I just don't agree to be bullied or told I am "broken" (I am not, not because I am gay, though we are all broken and sinful) without pointing out this is rude and cruel.I have a right to expect better from someone in my own denomination.

Reformed Catholic, we are both in this church, in the West. Look close at the theology and problems of many of the Churches in the non western world, and you will see ill health on so many levels that they are hardly the standard we should follow. I will point out that yes, in this church, which you, myself, and Ms. Larson are members of, this is now the rule based on majority vote. There are a LOT more small churches than large by the way, so the under-representation of tall steples has minimal effect on the results. GLBT ordination has had less to do with the decline than most conservative think, or the decline would have huge spikes, not small ones, each time we move towards further inclusion. It's pretty stable year to year. As more of us get older and die (and a huge cohort is about to pass away) the numbers will get worse. People are voting more at the funeral home than with their feet.

Where it does happen that people leave after we became GLBT friendly, thats a moral failure on the part of people who left.If they could live with a pro choice stand for DECADES (what they see as murder of Children!) but not a (gasp!) GLBT pastor in the pulpit down the road, it says a LOT about their motivations and character, don't you think?

The Southern baptists and Salvation Army (conservative past a fault) are in membership decline also, for the same reason we are. GLBT issues have not had that much effect. Most conservatives like their congregations and church buildings they are used to. The last vote was about 53 to 47 % (close to that anyway, in any case, the no votes were certainly higher than 40 %). 47% (or 40%)of the denomination has not left in the last two years, nor will it in the next two.

Thank you for letting me post. I do hope you deign fit to leave it up to be read.


Chas Jay said...

Gene, I often read your posts because they make me laugh and cry. I laugh because you so easily sit in judgment of others for the very things you accuse others of doing. I cry because you are so blind. You are so very angry with others that do not obey you. We aren't called to obey you but to obey Jesus Christ.
You mention the Southern Baptists. My family is Southern Baptist and their decline is partially due to a split of the liberals that became Cooperative Baptist. They were angry when they didn't get their way and left. Fine.
The Southern Baptist grew for decades as the Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans and UCC were all shrinking. It wasn't until this decade that there has been a drop in the SBC and as I said, part of it is attributed to to Cooperative Baptist breakoff.
When I was a kid, the Southern Baptist wanted to emulate what Presbyterians had been great at - spreading the gospel through their great missionary work. All the SBC people I know are broken hearted about what has taken place with the PCUSA, yet they also praise God for women like Viola Larson and pray for them to continue to lift up the Cross of Christ and stand firm in His word.

Craig said...

In addition to the misrepresentation caused by the number of small congregations in the PCUSA vs. the larger ones. One must also factor in the fact that there are a significant number of clergy who are allowed to vote at GA but who do not serve a congregation. It would seem that this also distorts the actual feelings of the membership in a way that may not be accurately represented by the votes in the presbyteries.

Nonetheless, the situation is what it is, and I guess we'll see how tolerant the left is when a conservative pastor wants to declare a scruple regarding the sinfulness of homosexuality.

Viola Larson said...

I am doing a study of 2 Peter and thought of your above words as I was reading Calvin. This is from his commentary on Hebrews and 1,2 Peter.
"The name of liberty is sweet, but they [the false teachers who uphold gratifying the flesh] have abused it to draw the hearer away from the fear of divine law and thrust him into uncontrolled license. This is quite different from the liberty which Christ has gained for us, and which the Gospel offers us daily. He has released us from the yoke of the law in so far as it subjected us to damnation so that we might be free from the domination of sin in so far as it delivers us to its lusts. Where lusts hold sway and therefore where the flesh occupies the throne, the liberty of Christ has no place. The apostle declares that to all the godly, so that they will not look for a liberty other than that which leads them when they are freed from sin to a willing obedience to righteousness.”

Anonymous said...

An excellent quote Mrs. Larson. When dealing with sexual sins like rape, adultry, sexual abuse of children, etc. it is or great instructional value.

When dealing with what the majority of scholars in our denomination agree is not inherently sinful, faithful same gender relationships, it is not relevent.

Calvin also said, in his commentary on 1st Timothy 2
"But I suffer not a woman to teach. Not that He takes from them the charge of instructing their family, but only excludes them from the office of teaching, which God has committed to men only...."

Yet, as we have, Rightfully, seen this as Calvin being influenced by the prejudices and midogony of his time, and have, again rightfully, disregarded this flawed teaching (which Calvin was able to justify by quoting scripture)and ordained women as pastors and elders...such as, yourself, so we rightfully, are always reforming, according to the will of God.

Just as those in the PCA would, incorrectly, use an understanding of Gods will that allows them to maintain their comfortable prejudices aginst wowmen such as yourself in leadership in their church, so you would do the same towards those who are called to serve, but are GLBT.

Same thing. Plain and simple. Interestingly, as associate in the PCA was the one who pointed this out to me. Mainly, I should add, to point ot what he correctly sees as the dark humor and irony of conservative women in the PCUSA using an approach to scripture and inclusion that would have prevented their own ordination.

He was not wrong.


Anonymous said... Chas. You see what you want to see.
Go the BPnews website and look up the causes for the Southern Baptist decline of the last half decade or so. That sect has had a constant decline in baptisms for years, and smaller families are now the norm. The demographic tendlines have nothing to do with the cooooative fellowship, and no Baptist demographer will say that.

Their problems, are their own, and the worst decline has been in the last several years. When did the cooporative fellowship leave again? The Alliance of Baptist, in 1987...the Cooporative Baptists in 1990. About...22 years ago, a generation of so.

The membeship decline is about 7 years old. :)

No...the current conservative sect owns this problem of decline, hook line and sinker. Don't believe me? look it up
They will tell you themselves that this is the cause of their decline...not the leaving of the cooporateive fellowship. Truly, you see what you want to see.

your desperation is showing.


Viola Larson said...

Calvin’s quote is directed toward most sexual sin, but not crime. So let’s leave out rape and sexual child abuse. I say this because the text is concerned with false teachers who are attempting to teach church members that they are free to indulge in sexual licentiousness. This would have undoubtedly included adultery and homosexuality but church members would surely not have been seduced by the other two sins.
As for your attempting to equate the ordination of women with the ordination of LGBTs, that is a fallacy committed by both the left & right. One reconciles Scripture with Scripture. On the women’s issue that is possible, but on the issue of LGBTs it is not. There are women doing ministry in both the O.T. and the N.T. Although there are no women priest in the O.T., which does not matter because the Levitical priesthood has been set aside by the work of Christ. For a good exposition of women in ministry and how that is different then the ordination of LGBT see

Viola Larson said...

I did the link wrong, just go to

Chas Jay said...

You see what you want to see.
You are angry with the Southern Baptist yet you are not in that denomination. I have many family members and friends that are Southern Baptist ministers and missionaries. I consider myself to be a Baptist that happens to be a member of a Presbyterian church. All of that aside, that isn't what is important. It is the Church catholic, the bride of Jesus Christ, that I fellowship with and you have disdain for its orthodoxy that calls homosexual relations sinful. Your piddling PCUSA denomination is just that - a small number of less than 2 million with thousands leaving because sin is celebrated over the repentance of sin and transformation from such found in Jesus Christ.
Oh, the church may not be growing in this nation but the Church catholic is booming in glory in places like China, Southeast Asia, South America and Africa.

Anonymous said...

sorry Chas, and, sorry Mrs. Larson. The analogy between womens and GLBT prdination and equality is spot on. And in mentioning sexual crimes (heinous and evil as some of things I listed most certainly are) please remember that, unjustly, until 2003in 12 states, being gay was a crime also. I believe I mentioned adultry, which is not illegal in most us localities (and not enforced where it is), but in any case, my point absolutely stands.

You once again misspeak by sayng "undoubtedly", but Ms. Larson, there was SO MUCH doubt that our best religious scholars in our seminaries, and the majority of ordained clergy and elders voted to allow GLBT people to be ordained. Yet, you act as if this did not happen, and speak as if the debate is not only voted on, but as if no one but some lone person posting on your blog was making a case. Do you relize how odd this sounds?

My associate, the man in the PCA, was correct in his assessment of this, and the irony of conservative women being willing to approach their own struggle for ordination in the manner I mention, make allowances and ignore scripture the VAST majority of the church still adhers to in the interest of justice and the best service of God, but shutting the door to doing so for GLBT people and then pointing out that the vast majority fo the Church worldwide does not ordain/marry gay people, while ignoring the fact that the vast majority would not ordain them either.

"all of that aside, that isn't what is important" is the rallying cry of the "Oh, I just had the rug of my arguement pulled out from under me by facts I don't like" side Chas.

The demographic data I presented you utterly destroyed your "Southern Baptists are declining becasue some liberals and moderates left" argument. At least admit it. They, like we, are declining mainly due to demographics. Not due to GLBT issues running off huge massive hoards of the membership, most of whom, conservatives included, like their church buildings, organs and current surroundings to much to leave. We are old, we did not have enough kids, and as we age as a group, we will shrink. It is what it is.

I see, what is, not what I want to see. Trust me, I don't like a lot of what I see.

I have traveled to many of the places you mention Chas. I have seen masses that require 6 services in southern China, in a warehouse, not the cathedral. Churches packed to the rafters in Egypt, house churches in Turkey, small but vibrant. All well and good...then Italk to them about their pentocostal theology, gospel theology, belief in Witchcraft (Uganda and much of Africa) etc. It gets less impressive the closer one looks. The world church, like Islam, grows with their demographic boom. This should surprise no one, and has no relevance to whether we do the right thing. Don't mistake being correct, with being popular. In any case, growth in southeast Asia does not negate my point that most churches are in decline here...even your much loved, very conservative Southern Baptists, and that the reason for the decline is demographic, not theological. Sorry.

We were correct to ordain women when the vast majority of the church universal had not (And still does not).
We are correct to ordain GLBT people now even thought it is also the minority view worldwide.

Piddling. nice. Says a lot about you Chas.

Gene. Atlanta

Chas Jay said...

Gene, my heart breaks for you and your lostness. You celebrate demise of the church and look for it every place. That's not the fruit of a follower. The followers of Christ spread His Gospel and celebrates the birth of those that come to know Him as Savior and Lord.
My heart is broken over what I've seen become of the PCUSA while your heart celebrates any supposed bad news about the SBC and the church around the world. That says so much about you.

Viola Larson said...


I'm sorry, but you are repeating yourself and you have not addressed anything that I said, you have just disagreed and we could just continue on saying, 'yes it is' and 'no it isn't,' forever and get nowhere. Something I might add here is that I was married in the Assemblies of God and there have always been women pastors in the Assemblies. I have loved stories about the Salvation Army—there have always been women preachers and leaders in the Salvation Army. The early Quakers were very evangelical and they have always had women preachers. The history of women in ministry is far more complex than you would have it be.

On top of that you keep suggesting that a lot more scholars agree with the rightness of homosexuality than disagree, but that just isn't true. To say that, you have to dismiss all of the orthodox and conservative scholars in the world, including N.T. Wright and Andrew Purves. Now it is a fact that most of the orthodox scholars are not writing about homosexuality but they don't agree that it is biblical and have said so.

And as for a majority of the PCUSA disagreeing with the orthodox position what has that to do with biblical truth. It isn’t the vote that carries the ultimate authority but the word of God.

If you decide to make any further comment, please address what I have said, and please address me by my first name which is Viola.

Anonymous said...

Goodness chas...your sense of victimhood knows no bounds, does it?

I just pointed out that both liberal and conservative denominations are in decline as a way of pointing out that is not the welcoming and loving policies fo liberas towards people like us that is leading to the mainline decline, but demographics. And you twise this into some sad lie that I am celebrating the decline of the Baptists. Where does the sense of self pity and self hatred end with you?

Viola, we both know that the few groups that ordained women like th SA and Quakers were FAR outliers, and that most conservatives have, and will continue, to point out that the same approach to scripture that allows you to be ordained as a woman, you conveniently (for your own comfort level) have decided is inapporpirate to apply to GLBT people.

These conservatives are correct.

As per the scholars I refeerred to, I was referring to scholars who teach and write at OUR seminaries. I am talking about OUR denomination, yours and mine, the PCUSA.

"And as for a majority of the PCUSA disagreeing with the orthodox position what has that to do with (B)iblical truth."

In our system of government, as you know, we vote at GA, after prayer and study, to be moved b the Holy Spirit. Just as we did before votes on the ordination of women, welcoming minorities, and other issues. The GA has spoken on the ordination issue, and the majority of the scholars in our Denomination have made a better case that being GLBT is not inherently sinful. Accordingly, they won the day.

Just saying over and over "But you are being sinful" is not helpful Viola, when I have had it shown by my own denomination that no, just because I am gay, I am not.
The PROPER understanding of the word of Gos shows this.

And your Church has changed accordingly.


Anonymous said...

Viola, to address the claim I am not addressing your arguements, I must only say I disagree.

I responded with the arguement most true conservatives (like my associate in the PCA uses) make, and which is at least consistant. I also responded that, while you seem amazinlgy reluctant to admit it, in our democratic denomination, inspired by the Spirit, we now ordain GLBT people if called, and bless Holy Unions.

I would be careful when making the claim of "but most scholars outside of our church say..." concerning GLBT issues. Conservatives could use the same arguement to negate your own ordination and the just and appropriate role of women in our denomination if we start listening to the largest (and most popular..theology is not a popularity contect) position, and not the one our denominations best scholars used to move the hearts and minds of our presbytery voters to vote to include people like me into the life and work of the church as ordained persons.