Friday, January 13, 2012

Dealing with sadness and looking at hope ...

Last Monday night, January 9th, I came home from the special presbytery meeting where they voted to put an administrative commission over my church, Fremont Presbyterian, and wrote my small posting, An administrative commission & deception. I checked my e-mail before going to bed and discovered that someone who had been rather contentious in his comment on an earlier posting wanted to friend me on Facebook.

In his comment he wrote that his father had at one time been a pastor of Fremont and he made disparaging remarks about Fremont's ‘senior pastor and those members who were leaving the PCUSA. He left his phone number in case someone wanted his help or information. So when he asked to be my friend I had second thoughts, but then I thought perhaps this will be a good thing and fruitful. After checking out his site I affirmed the friendship and because it was midnight went to bed. Sometime around two in the morning I awoke feeling very troubled.

I thought perhaps it was my blog. Perhaps I had written too strongly and needed to soften what I had written. That does sometimes happen. But when I turned on my computer I discovered that I had made friends with a very troubled individual. Within the last two hours he had written twenty times on my face book page and not pleasantly. He had gone so far as to attack some of my friends. And he had placed bad information about former pastors of Fremont who were pastors before I joined the church. Some of it I knew to be true, some of it I knew nothing about.

Needless to say I quickly deleted all of his material and clicked the places that disallow him from seeing my Facebook page. I have been very sad all week, both because of the actions of my Presbytery toward Fremont, and because a troubled individual would go so far as to befriend me so that he could torment me all in the name of LGBT rights. He even mentioned that my small great granddaughter had on rainbow colored leggings that is a symbol of the LGBT community. “What’s up with that,” he wrote.

I thought of these events as I read the letter written by the Moderator and Vice Moderator and watched the video they had made with six other Presbyterian ruling and teaching elders about hope. My sadness has spilled over into that. Why are they unable to comprehend the sorrow of so many orthodox? They do not understand that for the orthodox it is a matter of faithfulness. To make Jesus Lord means loving him past all other human desires and contrivances. It means obeying past any human predictions or perspectives.

Hope is founded on the word of God. Hope is not founded on any thing but the Son of God and the promises of God’s word. The author of Hebrews writes about that hope which the Christian has which is the fulfillment of God’s promises. And all of his promises are in Christ Jesus. Hebrews calls such hope the anchor of our soul. It brings the Christian into the very presence of God. As Hebrews states, “a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us ...” (6:19-20)

God may yet provide hope in the PCUSA—but he may not—He may instead bring judgment. As Karl Barth warned the German Church, God may “remove the candlestick” of our denomination unless we turn back to the Son and the written word of God. To bring it all back to where I began, how, for a Christian, could it be otherwise than to hope in Christ and his promises? Nothing else is sure, only Jesus, only his word, only the promises of God. We cannot meet the affronts to our faith, whether they come from a troubled individual or a troubled presbytery, alone; Christ and the hope he gives comes before and between all.


Patrick Watters said...

So much brokenness, so much healing desperately needed. Lord have mercy!

Greg Scandlen said...

I don't remember if I shared this before.

A few months ago there was a meeting of three local congregations at a local church. Our executive presbyter came, I thought to listen to our concerns. Nope. He was there to scold us for being unenlightened, even though our presbytery voted solidly against 10-A.

Half way through the meeting a couple got up, red in the face from anger, called us all a bunch of homophobes, and stormed out.

Apparently "tolerance" is a one way street.

Greg Scandlen
Waynesboro, PA

Viola Larson said...

Yes Patrick-please Lord have mercy.

Greg that is outrageous. I think that once somebody decides that something is true despite what the Scriptures says; I mean they know what scripture says but defy the word, the path just keeps going downward.

Greg Scandlen said...


I am sorry you took down that other post. I thought it was a wonderful example of exactly what I was talking about. If you still have it could you e-mail it to me at ? I want to respond to it on my own blog.

Greg Scandlen
Waynesboro, PA

Viola Larson said...

Greg, I still have it in word. I saved it for a reason. You know I have a feed on my site. There is a place toward the bottom of my blog where you can see it. But I also have a page that no one can see but me. Sometimes people try to fool me into thinking they are some body different. This person did pretend but I know who he is and where he was coming from so I deleted him. I will send it to you. It was coming from Inglewood, Ca and was probably Jodie.

After reading your comment and thinking about it, maybe I will just repost it.

Viola Larson said...

This comment is not by me but I am reposting it after deleting it so that Greg can respond and so that rest of my readers will realize how some are not only contentious but also dishonest.

""they know what scripture says but defy the word"

If it was about a uniform application of Scripture, I might believe that. If it was about a fair and uniform application of the old reading of the book of order, I might believe that.

But it is NOT!

It really is about homophobia first, and the application of proof text second.

If we study how Jesus read Scripture and used it in debating the teachers of Scripture of His time, it is easy to see that using the Scriptures as proof text to condemn a whole class of people is wrong.

"Tolerance" is not be a Christian virtue, and never has been. But asking for tolerance of intolerance, as a means of scoffing at those who wish to pay forward God's grace, invites God's judgment just the same.

Maybe more so.

Rigorous self examination is required before one presumes to use Scripture to condemn others. Because, according to Scripture, the measure we use will be the measure we receive.

It may be that certain individuals can pass such a test and are free to point the scolding finger of biblical judgment with impunity. But the corporate institution of the Church, and specifically the PCUSA, cannot.

Come now.

By what measure can such a fallen institution judge its own members for being fallen? By what standard can it do so and escape its own judgment? And specifically, is institutional homophobia really an adequate response to Grace?

Every institution needs a fair and equitable code of ethics, and Church officers must be held accountable to them. Pastors who seduce the wives of the men of the church should always be fired. Child molesters have no place behind the pulpit. Standard HR rules for conduct in the workplace should be upheld. But God's calling is a come-as-you-are party. That is why we call it "grace". So, having eliminated all the separation laws called out in Scripture, having allowed women to teach in public and even be ordained as ministers, having allowed the institution of marriage to be less binding than a membership in a local gym, why should we now hold the line against biological gender preference?

What standard are you now holding that you haven't already thrown away?

I simply don't believe you when you say Scripture has anything to do with it. You have no credibility at all in that regard.

It really is just simple plain homophobia. Just another form of bigotry raising its ugly head. Again.

Carl Hahn
Atlanta, Ga
January 14, 2012 3:34 AM"

Anonymous said...

>He even mentioned that my small great granddaughter had on rainbow colored leggings that is a symbol of the LGBT community. “What’s up with that,” he wrote.

Whoa, that's creppy and a little stalkerish

Al Sandalow

Viola Larson said...

Al, it is and a little scary. I went back and looked at his comment on my blog and it was a sacramento number. I didn't see that before.

Greg Scandlen said...

I tried to answer here, Viola, but for some reason it didn't go through. Perhaps it was too long, so I posted it on my blog at

Greg Scandlen
Waynesboro, PA

Viola Larson said...

Thanks Greg. I looked and it didn't go into my spam box. I don't know what happened.