Saturday, July 27, 2013

Heresy: acknowledgement & encounter (part 3)

We should be able to maintain diversity in our midst without including heresy as part of the diversity. What hinders Christ in his person and work hinders the Church. 
My husband and I once invited a man in the church we attended to teach a Bible study in our home. That was many years ago when we were in the denomination my husband was raised in, the Assemblies of God. I don’t remember the reason we invited him, but I do remember the reason we confronted him about his teaching, the reason he left.

 He kept us in the same text, Psalm 1, for weeks and finally, one study night, allowed us into his special knowledge. According to his peculiar theology there are two levels of Christians, children of God and sons of God. The sons, according to this false teacher, are on a higher spiritual level.

He may still teach, somewhere, but never again in our home. The children of God are the sons and daughters of God, the ones who bear the righteousness of Christ alone. Salvation isn’t tendered out in different categories of superiority. Grace is free though costly. Heresy, as I stated in my last posting, always attacks the person and work of Jesus Christ.  The view that there are two levels of Christianity is definitely an attack on the sacrificial work of Christ.

We had gathered ten friends and neighbors to the study. What if we had not confronted the teacher? A few that night did not understand how false the teaching was. Even one person deceived would be a great loss. The church, and individual believers, must acknowledge what they see and hear. Paul gave very stern warnings to the Christians at Galatia:

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed. (Gal. 1:8-9)
There are at least three prevailing problems in the Church. One has to do with unrepentant immorality, antinomianism. One has to do with the coldness of our hearts toward the Lord of the Church. And one has to do with heresy. The problem of heresy too often grows because of the other two. In our careless and cold attitude toward the Lord, or because some false teaching excuses our own sinfulness we ignore the error.

Beyond all else the church in contending with heresy must draw close to the Lord through prayer, through Scripture and through the disciplines of Christian discipleship.  Jude puts it this way: “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.” (20-21)

There is after this a turning to ministry—having mercy, snatching some from danger, fearfully rescuing those who are polluted while hating the pollution. None of this ministry allows for silence but instead implies that one will love the Lord above all else and speak truth.

“As we deal with truth, so we do with God himself; he that despiseth that, despiseth him. He that abandons the truth of God, renounceth the God of truth.” William Gurnall The Christian in Complete Armour 

Picture by Ethan McHenry 



Debbie said...

It seems to me that there is perhaps only one prevailing problem in the church, and it is double-sided. The problem is both coldness towards Christ, the Lord of the Church, and heresy, or otherwise framed, rejection of or ignorance of, the authority of Scripture. When we are cold towards Christ we don't care about Scripture; when we don't care about Scripture we become cold towards Christ. I'm not sure which leads to which and maybe it works one way for some people and the other way for other people.

The other problem, unrepentant immorality, I think derives from the first two problems. If we don't really believe that Scripture is authoritative, or that Christ really said what he said, then we don't believe that what we are doing is sinful, and therefore why repent of it if it's not a sin? Just glory in it instead. Be proud of it! It's part of your glorious human creation.

Perhaps most often it's the lack of acknowledgement of the authority of Scripture that is at the bottom of it all. This leads to heresy; this leads to coldness towards Christ (because why believe he is divine if you don't have to accept what the Bible says about him?); and this leads to acceptance of behaviors as not immoral.

And this lack of acknowledgement of the Bible comes from believing that we ourselves can decide what is right and true. We ourselves can say, "The Bible is just an old book. Why do I have to believe what some old book says?" We can actually think that we have enough brain power to decide what is right and wrong, what is true, about the entire universe! It is incredible, really, when you think about what moral and spiritual authority people have arrogated to themselves.

Debbie Berkley
Staff, Bellevue Presbyterian Church
Bellevue, WA

Viola Larson said...

Debbie, about Scripture you are undoubtedly right and I should have added that to what I wrote. When I first became a Christian, as a teenager, I remember my desire to devour the Bible, although I had read it often before. And although I understood what Christ had done by his death, it was in the reading of Scripture that I began to understand who he is.

will spotts said...

It's kind of ironic in a way ... Eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we imagine we really have become "as gods ... knowing good from evil." I think this may be an inescapable aspect of fallen human nature.

The thing that is self-evident is that we don't actually know one from the other. This is compounded by the fact that we lie. Our moral compass is warped by the lies we tell ourselves - what we want to believe or do. It seems universal: we want to justify ourselves.

Interestingly, almost all who go this route believe in some sort of law ... believe that they can hold others to a standard of conduct, believe, emotion, thought ... they just don't seem to notice they have made it up out of their own heads. My question would be - if individuals have the right and ability to 'create' morality then why should I be beholden to their morality? I mean, if one rejects the Bible, why should I listen to their preferences?

will spotts said...

As a side note, I think rejecting the Bible ends up being the main (if not the singular) source of the heresies you mention.

Timothy F Simpson said...

The problem that I have with just about everybody who goes on and on about the authority of scripture being such an issue is that what they REALLY mean is that their opponents don't agree with their INTERPRETATION of scripture, which is something very different. Inflating the disagreement into a rejection of the authority of scripture itself is then used by people to justify their own "antinomian" views of forsaking their ordination viws and violating their covenant with the proper authority structure for another, created in their own image. Pot, meet kettle.

will spotts said...

The problem I have with that argument is that it has been an exceptionally rare thing that those advancing it are actually speaking about honest interpretations of scripture. It is far, far more common for those interpretations to be convenient ... wherein a person uses scripture to confirm what he or she judged independently to be 'right' - and wherein the text is twisted and tortured into supporting often absurd claims.

Yes - I fully, absolutely acknowledge that some scripture - some passages are difficult to understand. But they're not usually the ones we're talking about. I also fully, absolutely acknowledge that this practice occurs in all corners of the church.

Interesting here, also - "antinomian" is a good scriptural word. "Ordination vows" is a good scriptural phrase. As is "proper authority structure". Do not these sound remarkably like human creations?

Viola Larson said...

Will I think you and Debbie agree. And I must concede that you are right: ) However, I believe that those who hold to the view that the scriptures are inspired and inerrant sometimes grow cold toward the faith because, as the scriptures put it, the cares of the world. That is when they start letting heresy as well as immorality slip by them without much concern.

Viola Larson said...

I find that too much of progressive interpretation starts from experience with a theology of suspicion. And because of that various texts are changed, ignored or even excised. In that case the disagreement is far more than a disagreement about interpretation. Instead it becomes a disagreement about what the Scripture is, thus bypassing the issue of heresy or immorality, or in fact confirming the orthodoxy’s concern about heresy since rejecting Scripture for the sake of experience is heresy. Even this is an attack against Christ.

Timothy F Simpson said...

Will, the words of scripture are in Greek and Hebrew, which is known capable of being read by a few thousand people in the Presbyterian Church. So your comment about "human invention" is silly, for a whole host of reasons. "Creed" is not in the Bible. "Catechism" is not in the Bible, even in English. Nor is " Trinity." Neither is "dishwasher" or "antibiotics" nor is the biggee, "Internet." Moreover your distinction between "honest" interpretations and those that are presumably "dishonest" begs the question. I'm sure all of YOUR interpretations are of the former category.

Timothy F Simpson said...

Viola, I don't know anybody who doesn't ignore certain texts of scripture, yourself included. So that doesn't seem to be relevant. But "changing" or "excising" scripture? Really? Where exactly are such people and which texts are they changing/excising? I hear conservatives say things like this all the time, but I can't ever pin anybody down for a specific answer. Nor can I pin any of the conservatives down on why, if this was such an assault "on Christ himself" why said conservatives could never get off their blogs for five minutes and file the proper paperwork charging these alleged scripture changers/excisers with the aforementioned assault on Christ? I mean we all took ordination vows to live by our rules so why is it that conservatives won't follow those rules and instead feel led to quit once things don't go their way? If somebody is a heretic, for heaven's sake, why are you blogging about it rather than prosecuting it under the Rules of Discipline? I don't see how you can have ny credibility if you know there is error in the church but don't have the courage to follow the clear instructions of our polity. But that's what we have--a few hundred elders incessantly grousing about all the heresy but not following the method that we all agreed on for discerning both God's will and the truth of a matter.

will spotts said...

I wouldn't speculate on how many Presbyterians can read biblical Greek or Hebrew. It seems to me irrelevant. I see how native speakers of English interpret English texts when they want a different result - when they want them to say something they do not say.

It is precisely because my interpretations can be dishonest that I recognize the problem. On some level, I know when I'm being dishonest. I imagine this is true of most people.

Point is, I know what that dishonesty looks like in terms of reasoning - and that is what I'm seeing in most cases where you seem to claim legitimate difference in interpretation.

Doesn't change the fact that some do honestly interpret scripture in very different ways.

The point is, your comment about interpretation is only valid when the interpreters in question are actually being honest in their interpretation. Within this context, I do not believe that can be supported. (I know it can be claimed, and is being claimed, of course - but I don't think it is a reasonable claim.)

As for the words - the thing is, something in your accusation strikes me as a sophistry. You seem to be raising the ephemera of a particular corporation to the level of scripture when that is manifestly untrue.

The human invention here is, of course, "method for discerning", "ordination vows", "our rules", "proper paperwork", "Rules of Discipline", "our polity" - any all processes and procedures and bylaws of the corporation.

No commitment to that corporation, no matter the language in which it is dressed can trump commitment to Jesus Christ. And for most of us who - using your word - grouse, or withdraw - we do so because those two commitments are, in our cases, in conflict with one another.

Viola Larson said...

From Carol Howard Merritt's column in CC, "I wrote an innocuous tweet yesterday. After pouring over commentaries and writing five different sermons and lectionary articles on Hosea, I simply wrote that I wished that Hosea and Philemon were not in the lectionary."

I once attended a PW gathering where the Bible study writer and workshop leader insisted that parts of Joshua, her study's subject, were not the word of God. It happens all of the time in the PCUSA.

Changing Scripture: John Vest in a posting suggests that perhaps we need to reboot-update- biblical stories like comic books update their stories; "Could we do something similar in the church? Some preachers, teachers, and artists are in fact quite good at creating new stories that express the core themes and values of ancient myths, narratives, and parables. Should we be doing more of that? What would it look like? Would a reboot of the Bible—or all of Christianity—be an effective way to reach new generations? Is this happening already?' found at

I could go on but I won't.

If the stories change or are missing the complete story of Jesus Christ is missing. In our climate it would do no good to file charges. We all know that.

If I have ignored scripture please tell me where?

Timothy F. Simpson said...

Viola, you're completely misrepresenting these people you cite. Egregiously so. They are offering interpretive comment on the meaning and relevance of the scripture, not changing or excising it. They are not saying anything remotely akin to that which are accusing them. Twisting people's words to gain leverage in church politics is really quite unseemly.

Timothy F Simpson said...

Will, commitment to Jesus Christ IS commitment to his body. So I don't accept your distinction. The method of discernment for the church is laid down in the book of Acts. It's the same now as it has been for generations in the Presbyterian Church. It was not contested as "human invention" so long as conservatives were winning the discernment votes, but immediately became suspect when thy started losing. Very funning coincidence that. I'm not trying to engage in sophistry. Yiu seemed to be arguing that if something couldn't be found directly in the Bible that it had no validity in the church. I was just offering examples of why that is ridiculous. Biblical words are in ancient languages, so if we have to use biblical words 99.5% of the people are in trouble. And even if one allows that English approximations are acceptable, the idea that we have to have everything grounded in biblical terms runs into serious problems theologically quite quickly with the Nicene Creed and other early trinitarian formulations, being as they are so reliant on the language and worldview of 4th and 5th century Greek metaphysics. My point is that if you are going to advocate some criterion that only allows explicitly biblical formulations or concepts into the interpretive matrix that you're going to completely gut whole swaths of the Christian faith, including especially the patristics period. I don't think that pointing this out is sophistry at all, but a point which exposes he fatal flaw in yiur criterupion of exclusion.

Viola Larson said...

I now see why no one has ever shown you the texts where things are excised and changed. That is because you simply say that instead it is interpreting. But to say that something in the word of God is not the word of God is excising it from the word of God. And to say new stories should be written with only the themes of past stories is suggesting that the word should or could be changed.

will spotts said...

When speaking of the church, Christ's body is the body of believers - not any human organization. And yes, policies made by men remain policies made by men - whether they are couched in Greek or Hebrew or whatever language you please. That seems an absurd argument.

No creed or confession that is not what scripture leads you to believe is valid. Protestants clearly don't accept all the creeds and councils of the church.

Besides which, it is odd that your argument suggest that you seem to imagine that something that consists in, what, 1/10 of 1% of professing Christians is equivalent to the body of Christ, and its policies - which, by the way, don't go back to Knox or Westminster or even particularly far - as illustrated by the nFOG - are somehow equivalent to scripture. Such a view seems far fetched at best.

So ... to follow the argument, commitment to Jesus is commitment to an organization that consists in 1/10 or 1% of professing Christians and commitment to its novel policies - and these things are somehow inseparable. Seriously, I don't see how one could maintain that with a straight face. It seems to me these policies you laud are more similar in moral weight to the rules and procedures of a local Parent Teacher Association.

will spotts said...

My sincere apologies for being disrespectful. I am truly baffled by the argument. Even by the fact that there is an argument. And I'm more than a little surprised to see it conform to the pattern in my first comment. Specifically when what I truly see as biblical things being rejected in favor of a kind of legalism - legal patriotism? - to what are self-evidently man-made rules.

will spotts said...

It's almost as if, by rendering these two things equivalents, you can level a charge of hypocrisy (as suggested by the pot meets kettle line) and somehow negate the observation.

It is true, no doubt, that my conduct on blogs has, at times, been blameworthy. But that doesn't affect the observation that Christianity has specific content - and that that content seems to be being abandoned in favor of alien content.

I find that a horrible, tragic thing. What is being shuffled aside is, in my belief, far more powerful, far more compelling. But so much time is spent on rabbit trails that merely divert attention.

Timothy F Simpson said...

Viola, that's a complete dodge. Neither of the two links you provided said anything about changing or excising scripture. Plain and simple. Carol Merritt Howard said she wished Hosea and Philemon were not in the LECTIONARY, not the scripture itself, but even if she had said that she wished it wasn't in the scripture, wishing it gone isn't changing or excising it. Vest, meanwhile, is simply calling for us to improve our presentation of the biblical story to make it connect more with a contemporary audience. Is this some kind of heresy? I've heard the same observation made by a hundred evangelical pastors whom you praise and admire. Vest isn't changing or excising the scripture any more than Howard is. You're just misrepresenting their positions and its neither fair nor right.

Greg Scandlen said...

This is a very frustrating discussion. Is the Bible subject to interpretation? Yes, of course, but within the bounds of reason. And for much of it there is really no room for interpretation. "Thou shalt not commit adultery" is pretty clear. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." is unambiguous. Yet many Presbyterian leaders disagree with it, arguing instead there are many paths to salvation. I wonder if Timothy would join in an effort to censure them, or if he is just playing word games to undermine the whole idea of heresy. Didn't Augustine also deal with Sophists in his time?

Greg Scandlen
Waynesboro, PA

Timothy F Simpson said...

Will, we have very different understandings of ecclesiology. When I married my wife, I wasn't simply making a commitment to marriage broadly speaking. I was primarily making a covenant with this particular woman. I can't get out of that covenant by attempting to claim that my covenant was with marriage in general and that if I dump her it will be okay because I'm going to make a covenant with someone else. Moreover, I can't dump her over her buying a necklace that I didn't think we could afford and claim that that purchase constituted adultery. All of that is going on here. We made vows specifically to this portion of Christ's church, but now that things are a little tough people are making outlandish and unfounded charges in attempt to justify their abandonment of their vows. I don't think that is right.

Timothy F Simpson said...

Gary, raising the issue of adultery is appropriate in this context because scripture itself has opposing views of what that constitutes. The problem in this situation is that if I don't take the side of the issue that others take then I'm now judged a heretic and those that disagree with me have to depart to form another denomination. Never mind that I've had the same views on the subject for more than 20 years without these same folks having challenged my "heresy" as such. The only thing that has happened is that those who hold their opinion lost a vote and now feel justified in leaving.

Timothy F Simpson said...

Sorry Greg. Autocorrect did something with what I mistakenly typed and turned you into Gary. No disrespect intended.

Viola Larson said...

Our argument isn’t going anywhere, now we are arguing about interpretation of what other people say rather than the Scripture. I don’t agree with you but I can see it won’t do any good to keep insisting.

And I think Greg has made a very good point that interpretation has to be within the bounds of reason. And that yes, some texts simply don’t allow for interpretation since the meaning is clear.

Going further when I stated in my earlier postings on heresy that Jud Hendrix was insisting that Jesus became the Christ with his enlightenment at his baptism he managed to ignore a great deal of Scripture and he used a rather strange interpretation to do so. All though he was using a baptism text he was reinterpreting John 1:1, 14 and 18. He was reinterpreting Luke 2:11 and 1 John 4:2.

It seems to me that your argument has two complaints. Others are insisting that their views of Scripture are right and when someone disagrees with them they accuse them of not heeding the authority of Scripture. The other is that TE & RE in the PCUSA are breaking their vows when they leave the denomination.

A couple of questions: Do you believe it is acceptable for RE &TE to not believe Jesus is God? If not on what grounds. If we suddenly adopted parts of the Koran as our extra Scripture or some other faith text would you stay in the PCUSA?

Greg Scandlen said...

Timothy, Interesting you picked up on the adultery issue and not the Jesus as the path to salvation issue. The word adultery may not have any particular meaning to you, but it does to me, and I expect almost all Americans.

Meanwhile, I just read this --

"In terms of giving insight into the current battles raging within the PC (USA) and the exodus of evangelical churches, the report is quite helpful. Consider the following statement: "only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved." Among pastors, 45% disagreed or strongly disagreed. 41% agreed or strongly agreed. Among our clergy, there is a clearly demonstrable variance about a fundamental tenet of Christian belief that is central to the mission of the churchthe proclamation of the Gospel."

So, a plurality of the PCUSA's leaders disagree with what Jesus himself said. And you object to people leaving a church that is no longer Christian? Good luck with that. I will add you to my prayer list.

Anonymous said...


Where does Jesus say that "only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved"?

Isn't that an interpretation of what he said?

Viola Larson said...


That question and many answers have been floating around the internet for some time now. I'm thinking of writing on it. It comes from a PCUSA survey, I can't remember the name. Some have stated that the question was asked wrong and brought up O.T. saints and baptized babies who died.

I think there is a lot more to say about it. No one is saved without the intervention of Christ through his life, death, and resurrection. Old Testament saints looked forward to the Messiah. Calvin insisted that baptized babies had faith in embryo-but all of this is given by Christ.

Some good verses might be John 3:16-21. Because what you are asking needs a negative statement as well as a positive one-"he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the only begotten Son of God."

A text that covers the O.T. saints would be, "Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words." (John 5:45-47)

But of course the one Greg was undoubtedly paraphrasing is "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me." (John 14: 6) and if we do not come to the Father we are not reconciled so we are not saved.

One last thing. Please do not comment without giving your name, city and state.

Timothy F Simpson said...

Greg, I'm sure a lot of people understand what adultery means for THEM in their time and place but have not spent much time thinking about it cross-culturally or in history. For example, there are places in Scripture where having more than one wife and/or a concubine would be considered adultery, and passages where such behavior would not. Likewise, there are places where divorce and remarriage would be considered adultery, and texts where it's not. I think you're significantly oversimplifying what is a more complex issue.

As for the issue of salvation, I think that the group that says that people can be saved by means other than Jesus are answering appropriately within the Reformed tradition. The most distinctive tenets of Reformed theology is its entrance on the sovereignty of God. Anyone can be saved by whatever means God chooses. It has not been turned over to any of us to attempt to speculate on how God might act in any given situation. People who do this in scripture get an immediate smack down. That's because they are engaging in a form of idolatry, substituting their prediction of what God will do for the reality of God activity, which is unknown and unpredictable. I can testify to what has happened to ME. I can proclaim what has been revealed to ME about what God has done in Christ. But God is by no means bound to what has been revealed to me for that which I have experienced. And anyone who suggests otherwise is way far out on a limb of their own hubris. Anybody who ever took Reformed theology in seminary ought to have learned this the first week. I would be embarrassed as a pastor to say anything but this about God's saving activity, as if I knew the mind of God.

Timothy F Simpson said...

Viola, Two biographical notes. The first is that I have taught the History of Christian Thought at my local state university about once every academic year for the last decade. A significant portion of that course deals with the Trinitarian Christological debates of the patristic period. Suffice it say that there are so many understandings of what it would mean to say that Jesus is God FROM JUST THE PATRISTIC PERIOD ALONE so as to render the question meaningless from my perspective in attempting to do theological gate-keeping. Everybody who came to the Nicene Council, for example, would have agreed that "Jesus is God" but that didn't settle a thing. Nor do I think it settles anything today.

Second, I have a 22 year old daughter named Caitlin, who has Down Syndrome. Caitlin has been very helpful for me in my thinking about the importance of theological belief, confession and understanding. She has come to represent for me the lower threshold of what we should expect of people in order to recognize them as orthodox. If asked whether Jesus is God, she will tell you that, yes, he is, in the same way that Miley Cyrus is Hannah Montana and Clark Kent is Superman. She doesn't get the metaphysics of the claim. Indeed, in two decades of ordained ministry, the only person I have ever ordained who DID actually get the metaphysics and who could explain the positions of Nicaea and Chalcedon was Caitlin's mother, who had six years of graduate theological training including an MDiv when we laid hands on her. All that to say, I have absolutely zero interest in hearing anyone's answer to the question "Is Jesus God?" because most answers are scarcely more sophisticated than Caitlin's and are universally "heretical" if judged by the requisite metaphysical exactitude spelled out in the ancient church councils.

No, what I want to hear is an answer to the question "Is Jesus LORD?" THAT'S a question that Caitlin and any other candidate for ministry can and ought yo be able to answer without hesitation. It is existential and rooted in practical Christianity, rather than metaphysical, rooted in philosophical speculation. Moreover, it's proper response "Jesus is Lord," is one of the most ancient confessional statements of the early church and indicative more the spiritual health of an individual than any question requiring an objective assessment of Jesus' identity. I have come across some liberal Christains who object to the hierarchical term "Lord." I myself don't object to it, but neither do I object to heir objection. I think people can use language to express the depth of their commitment to God through Christ without being compelled to use a buzzword.

As for the Koran, or any other addition to the scripture, my answer is the same as to Greg earlier in the thread. If God wants to use the Koran to reveal himself to humanity, who am I to say he can't do this? Isn't that taking the position of the Sadducees, who insisted that God stopped speaking at the close of the Torah, and who thus rejected the Prophets and the Writings? To me, that way leads to far more serious problems than acceptance of additions to the canon, namely, the creature asserting that the Creator can't do something. Do I think we're going to be asked to expand the canon? Not at all. But am I supposed to forever remain open to the possibility that a sovereign God might do such a thing? Absolutely.

will spotts said...

Timothy Simpson,

It's true, we do have differing views of 'ecclesiology'. There are several reasons I reject your analogy as non-parallel - but that's quite beside the point.

First, as you know already from this conversation, I do not see a way in which EITHER of our views of 'ecclesiology' come from the Bible. Consequently, I'm not going to be swayed by the argument. For me, for my understanding of Christianity, and for my experience of Jesus Christ - nothing in Christianity that doesn't come from the Bible is particularly relevant (in terms of defining Christian doctrine and practice). It falls into the realm of speculation.

For me, this even applies to the creeds and confessions. The metaphysical concerns you mention in another comment - while interesting - are in part speculative. While in some instances, they seem to be logically demanded, I am 100% certain our ability to comprehend God is limited enough that our metaphysical formulations are shaky at best. And as you point out - though I expect you don't go quite as I do - our understanding even of their work is limited.

I would agree with you (at least I take your words this way) that there is not a knowledge or sophistication test for - well, for salvation. It isn't our knowledge that is responsible.

Nonetheless, you are attempting in this conversation to bind me to an organization through an invented, legalistic category. Ironic, I know .... More precisely, you are attempting to brush aside incredibly serious concerns and accurate observations by discrediting the sources (either the grousers or those of us who have severed our relationship with the human organization PC(USA)).

I absolutely, totally acknowledge that I may be at fault for leaving the corporation. And God will judge that. But my own conscience is clear, and in the absence of a biblical basis for the legalistic category, I won't be persuaded.

There are, of course, a couple of texts people could use as proof texts. But even in those cases - to leave The Church, or to leave 'all churches' would be a very different thing than to leave the national corporation. Aside from anything else - I was a member of my local church, and I am a member of the Church Universal. The national organization doesn't seem to have a place in the party.

will spotts said...

As a side note, I imagine the biblical witness on the question, "Is Jesus God", manages to sidestep most of the metaphysical exactitude.

Viola Larson said...

Thank you for answering my questions. This could go on forever I understand that, but I have several thoughts.

On the subject of metaphysics, it is true that the church fathers used Greek metaphysics but they did it to describe what they believed the Scriptures taught. And so as Will suggests we should look at Scripture. And there is a reason that the Jehovah’s Witnesses retranslated John 1:1 to say that Jesus was a god rather than the God. They didn’t believe Jesus was God. Additionally in my NAS translation John 1:18 states, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, he has explained him.” I read in several commentaries and it seems that this is the correct translation found in earlier manuscripts.

To reject what the written word says is different than rejecting metaphysics, and I think you think too little of faith and understanding in a childlike person since you view your daughter’s beliefs the way you do. It is because she has faith that Jesus is God, and all the goodness of his life, that she also believes that Clark Kent is superman. It is something like JRR Tolkien’s idea of the true myth that is so real and authentic, it is true and in being true it baptizes our fairy tales—so that even elves are redeemed.

I agree with you about Jesus as Lord that is important—it is of extreme importance.

But about the Qur’an, I don’t doubt that it could be used by the Lord to turn someone to Christ, (in a contradictory manner though) but that does not make it the word of God. If Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets and as the author of Hebrews puts it has spoken to us in these last days—denoting the time after Christ until his return—why should God speak a new revelation.

It may be wrong to assert that God can’t do something, but I believe it is a great sin to assert the opposite of what he has said in his word. I think Barmen has it right.

8.10 - 1. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." (John 14.6). "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. . . . I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved." (John 10:1, 9.)
8.11 Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death.
8.12 We reject the false doctrine, as though the church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God's revelation.

Viola Larson said...

I am leaving for vacation tomorrow. I will close this tread before I do-although I hate doing that I think I should.