Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The newest 1001 New Worshiping Community, Mercy Junction & their Holy Heretic

Who is God? The newest 1001 New Worshiping Community, Mercy Junction, isn’t certain. Their new e-magazine, Holy Heretic, within its August edition, will help you embrace any viewpoint, including atheism, pantheism, polytheism and goddess worship. If that isn’t good enough they will allow you to read a spoof (I hope it is a spoof) in which founder Brian Merritt encountered a god who was drunk.  The whole community is backed by East Tennessee presbytery and Renaissance Presbyterian Church. And, of course, because it is a part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and their 1001 New Worshiping Communities project, it is endorsed by the denomination
The “devotional” e-magazine, Holy Heretic, has been published several times on various subjects including prayer and justice. But the August edition on God seems to me to lay the foundation for their advocacy work. Since Holy Heretic is intended to be devotional after each description of the various views of God is a little exercise to help the reader experience that type of belief.

At the end of the page on the goddess, the devotional author writes:

“The moon has been used since ancient times as a symbol for the feminine and the Goddess (And her three incarnations, mother, maiden and crone.) The connection likely began because the moon’s 29 day cycle of waxing and waning is a schedule similar to menstrual cycle.[1] Tonight the moon will be more than halfway toward waxing into her fullest, most glorious self-reaching her complete magnificence on Sunday. Starting tonight take time to spend at least 10 minutes in the moonlight, returning each evening until the full moon is achieved. Let yourself relax, let your brain rest. Just be. Go with what you feel. Do you want to dance in the moonshine? Sing to the lady in the sky? Throw back your head and howl?”

At the very end they ask for the readers experiences and give their Facebook page.

On the page about pantheism, which is written under the title, “God is Nature,” the exercise is:

“Today recognize yourself held safely by the universe. Imagine yourself within the womb of god, as you move about planet Earth. The Universe is providing you with all you need- air to breathe, nourishment, water, love. Be extra good to yourself today. Drink water, eat a healthy meal. Go for a long walk after dinner- touch nature with your hands, see her with your eyes, hear her with your ears. Get a full night’s rest. Be safe, be comfortable, be nurtured.”

There are several pages that speak of Christian beliefs, but the exercises are never directed toward the word of God and the worship of the triune God. Not even the page on the Trinity. Instead there is this:

“Both the dove that descended during Jesus’ baptism and the fire in Cantus’ drawing [picture on the page] are symbols of the Holy Spirit. The Celtic Church used the Wild Goose, a loud, independent untamed bird as their symbol. Today, create your own symbol for the Spirit, whatever you might conceive the Spirit to be.”

One trembles before such arrogance that so clearly defies the exclusive claims of God’s Word.  This is all done, supposedly, in order that those of other faiths could be included in the advocacy work of Mercy Junction. But not only is the Church called to do works of righteousness, she is first of all called to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection. She is called to proclaim Jesus and his redemption. This isn’t done by worshipping the moon, the self or any other thing. Only the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is worthy of our praise.

The denomination is sick and in need of God’s healing. But that healing will not come until the denomination turns back to Jesus the Lord of the Church.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the Judgment that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wought in God.” (John 3:16-21)

[1] The idea that the moon and her cycles have anything to do with some kind of ancient goddess worship is a myth. The idea of “mother, maiden, crone” is a myth invented in the 19th century. See The Rise of Radical Feminism in Mainline Churches: A History # 4



Reformed Catholic said...

This just follows the Affirmation of Interreligious Committment as espoused at the latest General Assembly:

We confess

that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has sought to live up to its commitment to

love people of other religious traditions, but many times we have not;

with God’s help we resolve to do better;

that self-serving theologies and goals and triumphalistic attitudes pull us apart;

with God’s help we resolve to do better;

that some of our confessions and the dated perspectives of our religious

heritage have resulted in patterns of unhealthy relationships with people of other religions;

with God’s help we resolve to do better.

We resolve to do better and not perpetuate divisive relationships among our neighbors and ourselves.

God calls us to have loving relationships with people of other religions.

God calls us to approach others in a spirit of openness and trust as we follow Jesus Christ

in respecting and affirming the freedom of others.

God calls us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to work with people of other religions

for peace, justice, and the sustainability of creation.

Guided on our way by the Holy Spirit, we will

meet human needs,

work for social justice,

participate in mission and evangelism,

pursue peace,

strengthen families,

educate for greater understanding,

nurture diverse communities,

value hospitality in our congregations, and

respect one another in our workplaces.

We follow Christ’s call to work for God’s kingdom; we believe that God will complete what we leave incomplete. To God be the glory!

Endnote for “The Interreligious Stance of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

1. Throughout this document, religion and religious practices include organized religions, folk religions, and indigenous religions and spiritualties practiced throughout our world.

See ... follows this thinking endorsed by the GA.

Which again tells me that most of the REs and TEs at GA really do not understand what they're signing off on.

Karen Wagner said...

John 10 Jesus says I have other sheep...Who might they be? I agree that the church is sick, but I think it is sick from fear. We fear anything that doesn't fit our worldview, fear new or different ideas, we fear that it might shake our foundation of faith. I have had the great honor of learning from people of other traditions and faiths, they are people who seek peace, justice and are kind and compassionate. I have learned a great deal from them and I feel it makes me a better Christian.

I used the Holy Heretic ezine in August and I appreciated the variety of viewpoints. As I read them and pondered them, I found myself drawn back to the Christian foundations of my faith. I will vote in favor of the Amendment mentioned in the above comment in November at Presbytery. As a TE I do know what I am signing off on and my congregation will be doing some study over the amendments. If we don't fear other beliefs and practices, we can learn much from them.

Many of our current "Christian" practices stem from pagan ritual and other religious practices from ancient times. Early Christians co-opted other celebrations and rituals to hide in plain site. Instead of fear, how can open ourselves to what others may be able to show us about a God who is bigger than we can imagine. It is not up to us to divide the sheep and the goats, so shouldn't we treat everyone like sheep?

Anonymous said...

"There are several pages that speak of Christian beliefs, but the exercises are never directed toward the word of God and the worship of the triune God. Not even the page on the Trinity."

You do realize that the word "trinity" never appears in the Gospels and is not based in "The Word" of God? Instead it is based on later Biblical scholars, Church leaders, philosopher and theologians. Christmas is a Christian appropriation of a Roman pagan holiday. "Born a Virgin" was a common attribute given to all holy peoples in Greek and Roman religions - claimed by everyone of improtance from August Caesar and Socrates.

Seems to me you limit your faith and religion to a very narrow, socially constructed and unBiblical worldview that is based more in self-righteous contempt for others than a genuine spiritual commitment to growing the Beloved Community.

Viola Larson said...

Karen, I believe that when Jesus says he has other sheep he is speaking of the gentiles who will and do come to faith in him. The verse you are speaking of is John 10:16. "I have other sheep which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice ; and they will become one flock with one shepherd."

Chapter 10 is a beautiful chapter where Jesus points out that the sheep only hear the shepherd's voice. That is Jesus. They will not follow anyone but Him. And here it is a good thing to point out that the Christian places all their fears and anxieties in the hands of the great shepherd who loves them. No one can take us out of His keeping. So although fear may come it is wiped away by his keeping power and love.

I should tell you that one of my BAs is in Religious Studies. Learning about other religions is interesting and I think important if we want to witness to those in other faiths. I do have friends in other faiths so don't think I am dismissing such friendships. However, Jesus tells us in Scripture that He is the only way, truth and life.

I believe trying to get others to experiment with other religious practices is unacceptable for Christians.

There are a few Christian celebrations that took over pagan holidays. I believe that is good. The incarnate One has overcome in life, death and resurrection. He has also overcome many pagan rituals. Or we could say he has brightened them with his light.

Viola Larson said...

Anonymous, I normally don't allow anonymous writers. I need to know your name, city and state.

Yes, the word Trinity is not found in Scripture, rather it is a word used to picture what the Bible has to say about God. For instance the Father is personal, Jesus is made known to us in Scripture as both human & God, and the Holy Spirit is shown to be personal and God.

A beautiful verse which speaks of the Trinity is "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all." (2 Cor. 13: 14.

Tim Woodruff said...

It is not that I want to rail against this New Age "Worshiping Community," or deny that something can be learned from the New Age take on things.
I am just very sorry that it is happening in the PCUSA, that I have served as a minister for 27 years.
The PCUSA, still fairly evenly divided, made a series of choices that is taking it in a very different direction, and something like this is the natural result of those choices.
I am not surprised that some rejoice; please don't be surprised that some grieve.
And I grieve most over a small church where I have close friends that is literally being torn apart over these issues.
This is not the denomination I was ordained in in 1977, but the Presbyterian Fellowship has given me a place where I can stand for what I believe in with integrity. Core belief -- a God who loves sinners -- like me.

Viola Larson said...

Thank you Tim, and praise God for the Fellowship.

Jeff Winter said...

It is evident that 1001 Worshipping Communities do not always worship the living God; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Many of these communities are not even Christian (e.g. The Big Gay Church). I am not sure what Mercy Junction is doing? From what I read about it, I am embarrassed that our denomination supports such heresy.

Karen Wagner said...

How is the Big Gay Church not Christian?

Senator Wannabe said...


Don't want to speak for Jeff, but I believe you can find the answer here:


Near as I can tell, there is nothing Trinitarian, nothing about the Incarnation, nothing about the Holy Spirit and their references to the Bible are mostly about what it is not. The web site as a whole contains few references to God or Christ, and their mission seems to be about enabling gay people to feel good about themselves. Except for the quote from John Calvin, they seem more Unitarian than Christian.

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

Doug Hagler said...

I encourage any and all of you to contact Rev. Brian Merritt, organizer of Mercy Junction, rather than guess at what his intentions and beliefs are. Here I just see a danger of someone reading a zine, not understanding it, and then freaking out about "New Age" and "heresy" and so on, without really taking the time to understand it. Brian Merritt is really easy to find and contact through various social media avenues. That is, if the goal is to understand, rather than castigate.

Rev. Doug Hagler
First Presbyterian Church
Phoenixville, PA