Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How important is the written word of God & confessional Christology to Sacramento Presbytery?

When Fremont Presbyterian Church left the Presbytery of Sacramento, one of their reasons was because of the loss of commitment to the authority of Scripture in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Another reason had to do with Christology. Pentecostal and lesbian Bishop, Yvette Flunder, who, as I wrote in an earlier posting, is the speaker for the Sacramento Presbytery’s Pastor’s Conference is a glaring example of how the PC (U.S.A.) is failing to uphold the authority of Scripture and a faithful Christology. Flunder does not believe the Scripture is inspired although she claims she respects the word. In her book, Where the Edge Gathers: building a community of radical inclusion, Flunder, pointing to her identity as a woman preacher, an African American and a lesbian writes:

My position [about the Bible] is best explained by a response from an unnamed slave who, when she was told that the Bible said she was to be a slave, answered, “Not my Bible, I tore that page out!” [1]

Rather than do a proper exegesis of the biblical texts, Flunder goes on to suggest that those who take the Scripture literally are conforming their beliefs to the culture of the United States, an idea which will surprise the orthodox who find themselves in a fierce struggle within the prevailing culture.  However, in a workshop, Amplify 2012, held in Hong Kong, Flunder takes her argument with Scripture much further. Using Peter Gomes word, bibliolatry she states:

Bibliolatry, what is bibliolatry? It is the worship of the book. Somebody said this is the word of God. My response is that these are words about God. Jesus is the Word of God. In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the Word was God—capital W-o-r-d. That means that everything else feels less, theology are words about God but if there were no words about God at all, if they all disappear, we would still have a word of God, Do you understand what I’m saying to you. …I love the book, I’m close to the book, I love the Bible I guess there are parts of the book that don’t love me.

Flunder then goes on to list her own identity, a lesbian black preacher and then she tangles with the apostle Paul: she states that she disagrees with Paul and that Paul is just like her. Flunder states that “he was a guy in process.”  So she forgives “Paul for not having the understanding that he needed to have, he died before he got it all.”

Clearly Flunder rejects the Bible as the written word of God.

Likewise, Flunder’s view of Jesus is un-biblical and un-confessional. In her book, in a chapter that is a sermon, she looks at the story of Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman found in Mark. Flunder uses this story, about a non-Jewish woman who pleads for healing for her demon possessed daughter, in the same manner as other radical feminists. Flunder believes this is a teaching moment for Jesus rather than the woman. But she takes the error further making a heresy of it. Flunder writes:

He was a God-Man in a struggle—God extending the table to all, and man wanting to give priority to his own. My understanding of Jesus permits him to grow into his purpose. I don’t belief he understood the entirety of God’s will for him from the beginning, but rather his humanness lined up with his divinity overtime.

This is heresy to divide the two natures of Christ in this way. It is the reason for the existence of the Creed of Chalcedon, which is affirmed in the Presbyterian Book of Confession in The Second Helvetic Confession (5.078). The two natures are not divided. This is a problem that has occurred several times in the history of the Church and about every twenty to thirty years it pops up in some fringe Pentecostal circles. One can seem very clear about the deity of Jesus and then destroy the affirmation by rending apart God and man in the person of Jesus.

Flunder is in this sermon is also, without stating it clearly, stating that Jesus is not totally innocent. She writes:

Jesus was about to be challenged internally with destroying the idea of clean and unclean people. Jesus the Jew was not truly at home with this concept. He was in transition—his cultural prejudice was showing—he wanted to gather the Jews first as a mother hen does her chicks, but they would not fully receive him.  He was not respected by the Jewish powers but he was not yet ready to be radically inclusive.

When a denomination, or a presbytery, or any denominational entity denies the inspiration of Scripture they will soon begin to listen to any person who affirms their desires. Flunder’s mission is to teach that in order for denominations to enter the ‘new’ thing God is doing they must become radically inclusive, meaning they will accept LGBTQ persons into leadership and celebrate same gender marriage. If they do not she believes they will miss a new Pentecost. Pastors in this presbytery, Sacramento presbytery, are being set up to deny Jesus, the living word and the authority of his word, the written word of God.

[1] The idea that the Bible encourages slavery, or that one, must be forever trapped in slavery is a ruse.  In the most highly cited words of Paul in Ephesians where Paul tells slaves to be obedient to their masters because they are serving Christ and will receive their reward from him.  This is meant as a rule where slavery is imposed by a culture which enforced slavery. It is spoken to encourage the slave—he will receive a reward. The master is commanded to follow the same rule of servanthood, he is also a slave, a slave to Christ. There is no “partiality” with God.

In 1 Corinthians the slave is encouraged not to be sad about his position when he becomes a Christian but to seek freedom if it is possible. “Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who is called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.” (1 Cor. 7: 21-24) Notice the text does not say each one is to remain in the condition but each one is to remain with God while in their condition. The whole theme of the chapter as it looks at marriage, circumcism and slavery is about all Christians possessing the same position in Christ, and in that position being both loved impartially by God and accountable to God.  

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