Austin Farrer on the #Rosary

how to pray the rosaryIf I had been asked two dozen years ago for an example of what Christ forbade when he said ’Use not vain repetitions,’ I should very likely have referred to the fingering of beads. But now if I wished to name a special sort of private devotion most likely to be of general profit, prayer on the beads is what I should name. Since my previous opinion was based on ignorance and my present opinion is based on experience, I am not ashamed of changing my mind. – Austin Farrer, Lord, I Believe, 1958. p. 80


Two Asses and Jesus (Matthew 21.2)


Really, Joel? That’s the title you chose to go with? #clickbait

This is another quick post (mainly for memory’s sake).

In Mark 11.2, Jesus commands his disciples to go and get a colt. Matthew sees this, but expands this passage. In Matthew 21.2, Jesus commands the disciples to get the colt and the mother. But, Matthew (21.5-6) goes further and ties this to Zechariah 9.9. I believe the Hebrew assigns the gender to the colt as male.

So, here’s the thing. Matthew has 2 donkeys, one female and one male. This has caused some issues, not in the least with those who need every account to jive with the next. Did Mark forget one or did Matthew add one? If Matthew added one, is it because he can’t read the Hebrew of Zechariah correctly?

What if he was slipping one by? I mean, maybe his readers knew it (Luke didn’t) but maybe some in his ekklesia-synagogue did. So, where could he have received the image from?

What about Judges in the Old Greek, before kaige revisionism?

In Judges 5.10 (LXX, B), we read,

ἐπιβεβηκότες ἐπὶ ὄνου θηλείας μεσημβρίας, καθήμενοι ἐπὶ κριτηρίου καὶ πορευόμενοι ἐπὶ ὁδοὺς συνέδρων ἐφʼ ὁδῷ.

Those going upon a she-ass at noon, those seated upon a judgment seat, and those going upon the roads of councilors along the way: (Lexham)

There is a/the female donkey.

Could the time have been noon? Not sure, as it doesn’t say. Of course, noon was a time of Temple activity so we can speculate. Mark 11.11 does say the hour was late, but does this mean time or the “Jesus Hour,” that invisible number indicating the hour of the death of Jesus?

What else do we need? A judge. Does Jesus act as Judge (in Matthew) in anyway? Matthew 25 does something like that. Crowds of “councilors” are also present. Read the whole of Deborah’s song and apply it to the mission of Jesus (in the Gospels). See if you can find any other connection.

I am not suggesting that this is exactly the right answer, but I just find the connection interesting.

Be Careful about the Company you keep, the idols you worship – Tony Jones

IMG_3015.PNGI don’t care much about getting into the details of this, but for sometime now the one and only Tony Jones has been held up as someone important in progressive/emergent circles, so much so that you’ll see him on various UMC blogs  (this, I guess, counters the use of Mark Driscoll by UMC pastors). In fact, the emergents are usually idolized as the ideal “Christian.”

The problem is that Tony Jones is an abusive person. Rodney has covered his appropriation (something more common in progressive circles than you’d imagine) before. However, something else that is little known is his previous (and real) marriage to Julie McMahon. He is currently involved in another “marriage,” one that gives him “street cred,” no doubt. Anyway, she is currently very open about how Tony uses religion, his religion (sans orthodoxy, by the way) to control, abuse, and harm others. She is also accusing other well-known emergents of supporting Tony, and by supporting Tony, I mean enabling him to continue his abuse.

This is not uncommon, actually. This is how cults are formed. When one person leaves the fold to follow his/her/hen own “heart” they have declared themselves correct and unchallengeable. We can call this fundamentalism, although it is pathological (as David Howard identifies). It allows the person to do what they will, regardless of question, because that person is right. That person is God’s mouthpiece. That person is god.

Be careful. Tony and Mark Driscoll aren’t that far apart in theological practice. When you admire them, without hesitation, then it may be that you have a certain pathological issue within yourself.

I find it odd that Google/Wikipedia lists Tony Jones as an American Dudebro. “Dudebro/Dude Bro” is a slang term, and not one of endearment

Orthodoxy for those living without creeds

Disciples of christ logoI grew up in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
If you’re not familiar with this group, the organization began in the late 1790’s in what could described as the first “non-denominational” movement. Many settlers were coming to America back in that time with beliefs and creeds they have learned in the “old world”. What happened in Europe in the 1600’s when the Church of England sought to break free from the grip of the church in Rome would extrapolate to this new country called America. People came here with the idea that the church or denomination or organization they had grown up in, of course, taught them the right things to believe. The eventuality of those beliefs would cause many a folk to argue or fight with their neighbor over the right things to believe. The Disciples organization began with the idea that creeds were divisive and man-made. All we needed was the bible.

Having grown up in this system of thought, it has been an incredibly long journey, it seems, in finding what it is that we truly are to believe. Later in life, after having pulled myself out of church for about 3 years after high school, I found myself following my best friend out to the church he grew up in, the Church of the Nazarene. Boy, you talk about culture shock! Where the Disciples lacked structure and cohesiveness the Nazarenes made for in explanation and quantity. I had never heard much of anything in the way of doctrine. Even though our church was right next door to an ELCA congregation, I really had no idea there were other churches out there and there were different explanations about things. I knew the name, “Jesus”. I remember he was referred to as the “Son of God”, whatever that meant. I finally had my moment of epiphany in June of 1992 when Jesus made sense and i understood who He was and why he was so important to our lives. On top of that, I jumped head first into a Nazarene system of thought that explained everything and anything you could want to know. This had it’s good and bad sides. I didn’t know anything. I was hungry to learn and I ate up everything they gave me. In retrospect, the bad side of that was, I had nothing with which to gauge the information coming at me. I hadn’t ever learned anything concerning creeds and heresy and doctrine. So, was i actually getting the truth or was I getting a biased answer based upon someone else’s opinion about other churches and denominations?

Orthodox. Orthodoxy. What is it? From my standpoint, I really want to know what it is.
If you feel the ideals and standards set forth from a Nicene creed are “the way” to look at things, then can you explain why you feel that way? Can you tell me in a heartfelt explanation or does your explanation come out in robotic fashion, simple because someone else told you to believe it that way?

I tend to have one of those mindsets that I want to do the right things and believe the right things. Human beings tend to get that way sometimes. Maybe you’re that way about football or your sports. Maybe the world of politics drives you crazy because people don’t do or say the right things. For me, its the world of religion. I want to understand what exactly we are supposed to believe and why we should believe it.

This student is listening. What can you teach me about what we are to believe?

(You are free to break the internet now.)

Introducing “United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy”

UMC Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy

It is also one of the main reasons we started UMSCO. We believe scholars have an important role to play in the church, one that extends far beyond the conventional and sometimes stereotypical view of college and seminary professors. It is our job to help teach the church and provide academic leadership to help other leaders lead and teach the church. Furthermore, we believe strongly that the most important of our difficulties in United Methodism relate directly to doctrine and discipline.

via Why United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy? | United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy.

Recovering the Mainline’s Voice


Jesus is angry you’ve forgotten him

In discussing something recently with a friend, we both agreed it was okay to say “this is right,” “this is wrong” but we must find a way to do it without arrogance or self-righteousness. The further into politically correct culture you travel, the more difficult it becomes to speak to black and white matters. Relativity reigns.

This is not always a bad thing. In ecumenical relations, dwelling in the gray is needed; otherwise, we would not be able to build full communions between the various denominations. However, it becomes a bad thing when you are so limited, you must give way to every opinion, or matter of personal belief, as if no particular one can be wrong.

We generally have issues with telling people they are wrong. I, on the other hand do not — when it is necessary. For instance, unrestrained capitalism is wrong. A denomination not in direct apostolic succession has built themselves upon a wrong foundation. Denying the Trinity is wrong in orthodox Christianity. Recently, First Things ran an article by Stephen Webb, a Catholic theologian that tracks Mormon. Webb is wrong, as is Mormonism on the topic of the materiality of God. I hope Mormons disagree with me and would have no issue telling me I was wrong. I hope gnostics think I am wrong I hope they can bear with me with I tell them they may not be correct! Such things are actually beneficial, much more beneficial than each side suppressing their own theology or even walking head long into meaningless existence. It only becomes dangerous when we think our differences are boundaries to determine worth.

All of this started my thinking process. Mainline denominations have become places lacking theology and lacking theological conviction as well as a voice. Indeed, while many of us do great service, we lack the desire to stand up for what makes us (Christian in far too many cases) unique among the denominational landscape. It is almost like we afraid to be something different and by being different, offensive. This doesn’t have to be the case. In my opinion, United Methodist Wesleyans are by far the best of the Protestant options because we have one foot in the evangelical sphere as well as the episcopal sphere (by this, I mean we also make use of Tradition).

We need to reclaim a voice based our doctrinal heritage. All mainline denominations are rooted in the Protestant Reformation and/or the great divorce between Rome and Canterbury. We have a historic tradition reaching back to the earliest days of Christianity and through this tradition we have helped to shape Creeds, Councils, and even Kingdoms. We have, in a large part, shaped this country in which we live as well. We have given voice, because of our doctrine, to the voiceless, fighting for those who are powerless. We have lost this voice because have lost the ability to say what it means to be a Christian and a Christian as a mainliner.

My great concern is that Christianity in the Mainline Denominations has become the stereotype assigned to it by more legalistic traditions, that of a country club. We do good, yes, but we are failing miserably because we no longer really know why.

So, what can we do to reclaim a voice?

  1. We must relearn our doctrine and theology. Not everyone’s opinion, doctrine, or belief system is right. It is just not. Neo-Calvinism is wrong on a few levels, and not in the least because of the role women are forced to take. To deny, dismiss, or ignore the Trinity is likewise wrong in orthodox Christianity. Just because you think it, does not mean you have the right not to be told you are wrong. We are who we are because we are not others. We can be ecumenical while not giving up what makes us who we are. We once had the best and brightest theological institutions and minds. What do we have now?
  2. We need to know our history and heritage. We need to know why this is important as these things help to guide us into the future. Unless you use them as such, they are not completely restrictive. Mainlines are mainlines because they tend to accept progress easier than others. We have long accepted science, historical criticism, as well as changes in polity. Further, we do not need to be afraid of these things nor employ stereotypical conspiracy theories to dismiss them.
  3. We need to reclaim the language of the Gospel. Yes, there is still sin. Yes, there is still salvation. Yes, there is evil. There is satan. There are boundaries. There is exclusion. We speak of justice which means we know of lines that cannot be crossed. We speak of the just which means there is the injust. Yet, we seem to have lost the ability to speak the language of Christianity because of post-modernism, sensitivity and tolerance.
  4. We need to find hope. Evangelicals have this (false) notion that one day Jesus will return and take us (good ones) away. That this there hope. Mainliners have long ago left this hope behind as unscriptural. So, what do we substitute for it? There is still the hope of the afterlife, but I think the words of 2 Clement are likewise important. We hope towards the change in the world we know God has promised. It will ebb and flow and sometimes we will lose ground; however, we continue to hope towards justice, unity, and the maturity of the Church. That is our hope, that all may be one with each other, this body with Christ, as Christ is with the Father. Christ did not establish the covenant just with a select few to give them acreage in heaven; rather, God is in Christ reconciling the world.

The reason we need a voice is simple. Aren’t you tired of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists having the voice of Christianity? We see a good many small sects, non-mainlines, and others leading American Christianity, abusing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and destroying our foundations. What if we knew more than it was good to do good works, but why and what makes them good? What if we knew what sin was and what sin wasn’t rather than just relying on such faulty notions as human rights?

What are your thoughts?


Hi there. My name is Jeremy Shank. I am a local licensed pastor in the West Ohio Conference of the UMC. I have been added to the Unsettled Christianity blog as a contributor. I blog mainly for the purposes of working out my sermon material for Sunday morning. Below is a message I preached back in 2012 upon arrival at my, then, new appointment. Hope you enjoy and I’ll have fresh material as we go forward.

There’s a first time for everything

Formal introductions can be painful, stressful and just downright uncomfortable.
And, not at all because of the people you might be meeting for the first time.
Just because, it’s difficult walking into a new setting or relationship and not knowing what those people will think of you.Will they like how I am dressed?
Will they take one look at me and think ‘I don’t like this person’ ?
Will they like my family?I think of the first time I met my wife’s family.

She brought me home to meet the family over a holiday break during her sophomore year of college.
I sat in a chair while she caught up with her family and talked.
Nobody really said much to me. I just sat there.
Kind of irked me a little bit.
In my mind I saw this as a time of formal introduction.
Their chance to get to know me and who I am.
And, I really liked this girl, so I really wanted to get to know them.

Introductions are rough.
The Rev Dr Randy Stearns was an instructor of mine at MTSO and taught my class on evangelism. He spoke a line that will stick with me . He said, “Some people are just not going to like you.” OUCH!

That’s just how it is. Maybe it’s the way you’re dressed. 
Maybe they just take one look at you and think, ‘I don’t like this person’. 
Nothing you can do about it.

Man that hurts!
You try to make a good impression and they don’t like you, sometimes for no good reason.

Paul was writing to the Corinthians for the first time.
With all the emphasis we put in our culture upon ‘first impressions’ I wonder if Paul and the people of his time thought about any of that.

1 Corinthians 1
1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God

Ok. Normally when we pick up a book in our culture, there is a preface, an introduction and a nicely printed jacket around the book that goes into much detail about the author.
Where he/she went to school.
What kind of degrees they earned.
How long they have been doing the current work they are invested in.
Their spouse, their kids, even info on the family pet.

“Hi, I’m Paul. Apostle of Jesus Christ. God sent me.”

It doesn’t get much more simplistic than that.

Well, it’s usually about this time in my blog entry that I go see what Webster’s has to say on the matter.
Webster’s rolled the word back to it’s basic form from ‘introduction’ to ‘introduce’.

Definition of INTRODUCE
transitive verb
1: to lead or bring in especially for the first time
2 a : to bring into play
b : to bring into practice or use : institute
3: to lead to or make known by a formal act, announcement, or recommendation: as
a : to cause to be acquainted
b : to present formally at court or into society
c : to present or announce formally or officially or by an official reading
d : to make preliminary explanatory or laudatory remarks about
e : to bring (as an actor or singer) before the public for the first time
4: place, insert
5: to bring to a knowledge of something

As I begin to play with the definitions here, I want to stay focused on Paul and why he makes so many of the introductions in his letters so simple.
Is it because he has so much to say that he doesn’t bother with a long intro? Maybe.
I’m leaning towards the idea that Paul never felt he truly had to explain himself to anyone.
There are places in Paul’s letters where he goes into deeper detail about himself.
But, when he does talk more about himself, it’s usually to make some point about Christ.

“I’d like to introduce myself, but more importantly, I’d like to tell you about what Christ has done in my life.”

So, as Paul writes for the first time to these Corinthians, he doesn’t spend a lot of time on himself.
The focus should not be on his credentials, or his education, or who his rabbi was in Egypt.

“I’m an apostle of Jesus Christ, sent by God.”
And, that’s all you need to know.

And more over, it’s as if Paul doesn’t need the Corinthians to go around the circle and introduce themselves.
He already knows who they are.

1 Corinthians 1
2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:

3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is who I am, this is who you are, now lets get down to business.

This sounds like an almost harsh way of getting to know someone.
I have colleagues in the ministry here in the United Methodist Church who can come off this way.
I don’t want to listen to you ramble on with your stories. Just get to the point.

It should be noted here for historical purposes that Paul had already visited with the Corinthians around 52 A.D.
He went there and visited and worked among them and then wrote them a letter some time later around 54 A.D.
Maybe this is why his letter starts off the way it does.
They should know who he is.
They should know who they are in this picture.
They should know that Paul is God’s apostle and they are the “holy people”.

And, if they don’t know that, they are going to know it by the time they get done reading Paul’s letter.

Paul will begin to ‘introduce’ to them the idea that God has brought them to a new life in Christ.
That God has given them gifts and called them to do ministry.
He will introduce them to the greatest gift of all.
He will lay before them the emphasis of following Christ and not a man.
He will speak to them of what is yet to come and the ability to live in the grace God provides here and now.

Maybe this is the first time they are ever hearing these things.
Maybe they have never truly understood what God’s purposes are for them.
Maybe God called Paul to this for that very purpose; to introduce them to Christ and what this new life involves.

Recently, I got to meet with the Pastor-Parish committees of the Thornville & Pleasantville United Methodist churches.
I am going to be heading there in July of 2012.
My hope is that they know what my purpose is in coming to them as their new minister.
My hope is that they already have some idea of what God wants for them in their respective areas for ministry and mission.

And, if they don’t, they’re going to understand it by the time I get done working there.

You might be feeling as if I cut a story short earlier.
I was explaining about my now in-laws and how I felt a little left out during our first meeting.

I remember my now wife asking me how I felt the first meeting went.
I told her I felt kind of awkward because nobody really said much to me.
So, she went and told her folks and they graciously had me in for dinner the next week in an effort to get to know me.
And, buddy, they went out of their way, especially her dad.

In the midst of our conversation he left the table and was gone for a bit.
When I looked up he had come back.
With a pair of the ‘Billy Bob Teeth’ in his mouth.
He leans over his daughter’s shoulder (who did not see him come in)
And, (In his best southern accent) “Well hey there deary, I want to thank you for coming to dinner tonight.”
My now wife was thoroughly embarrassed.
The rest of us were rolling.

I found out what I was getting myself into after I was introduced to it.
And, I married into it, anyway.

Best decision I ever made.

#brogressives are why we, #UMC, can’t have nice things


I wrote a post in a follow-up with Dr. Watson, followed by a post at Via Media by Drew M. Jeremy Smith, someone I imagine I could agree more than I disagree on certain topics, goes on to rebut us, not on arguments, but by accusing us of date rape, among other things.

Somehow, he connects this discussion to these points:

Men don’t need a friend to watch our bar drink when we go to the bathroom.

White Men don’t need an advocate when we make a complaint about the police, or a translator when applying for asylum, or hope for a video camera on a cop that shoots them.

Straight White Men don’t have to bring a partner to Thanksgiving dinner to feel safe with our families.

Married Straight White Men don’t need to be walked home, and after being dropped off, we don’t need to be watched from the car to make sure we make it in the door.

Not only did he fail, horribly, to get what I was actually saying, but he then suggests that somehow this is connected to date rape, being closeted, and other forms of rape/harassment.

Jeremy on twitter charges us with the crimes of Ferguson, which I imagine will soon be followed by slavery, the holocaust and maybe even Japanese internment camps. He writes,

Here’s the deal. Closing the floor doesn’t mean everything is done in private. What it means is that there is no audience participation. It means that neither the left nor the right (because believe it or not, the right has their share of attempts to disrupt the meetings and control the delegates) can control delegates through threats or intimidation. The conference, even the closed sessions, would be streamed so that all can see. There will always be a record.

Further, as I stated, I would hope that such a plan would moderate the delegates. Because coming from experience, not having threats leveled at you actually makes you more moderate. As someone who has spoken with more than a few conservative-voters about threats against them (to vote conservative), I can tell you that without the glare of the exclusion community, you may even see a change.

But this? I might even vote for schism now.

Oh, and what is a brogressive? Jeremy.

See David Watson’s post here.

Willimon – “We cannot be accused of bibliolatry, inerrancy, literalism, or fundamentalism”

Yesterday, a question was posed in one of the UMC FB forums about inerrancy. Granted, this question was posed by a rather young, confused non-Methodist, but it sparked conversation. One of the people in the conversation brought up Bishop Willimon to his defense. Willimon is not an inerrantist.

As John Wesley began his search for a relationship with God, he began in Scripture. He said that he studied the Bible because it was “the one, the only standard of truth and the only model of pure religion” [Works, Jackson, 2:367). Toward the end of his life he could continue to claim, “My ground is the Bible. … I follow it in all things great and small” (ibid., 3:251), In speaking of a fourfold test for belief, it is clear that Wesley set Scripture above tradition, reason, and experience in terms of ultimate authority. (The quadrilateral is not equilateral.) United Methodists can therefore be said to have a “high” view of scripture. However, we cannot be accused of bibliolatry, inerrancy, literalism, or fundamentalism. Wesley could boast that he was “a man of one book.” However, he did not mean this in a naive, uninformed way. He also meant that he not only believed but attempted to live by this one book.

The quad tries to maintain this view, although many have made all of the sides equal while misunderstanding such things as “experience.” In my view, Scripture is the authority of the Church (much like the Constitution is for the United States), but Tradition, Reason and Experience are there to help us read and apply Scripture (much like case law — although Tradition produced Scripture (and legal issues produced the Constitution).