Protestant Double Talk?

DOUBLE TALK? Reason with me for a second:

We Protestants, giving honor to our name protest against relics, the preservation of statues and statuettes (the statues wives), shrines, or anything that remotely resembles idolatry or the glorification of men. Why then are we so outraged, enraged, fuming furious, about the destruction of… relics statues, statuettes (again, the statues wives) and shrines perpetrated by I.S.I.S in Iraq?   This Calvinist believes in preserving history, but how can we preserve relics, and historical monuments without crossing the line of idolatry? Calvin also said this in relation to the same issue: “Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, a master craftsman of idols!”

The Law of unintended consequences in Iraq – A tough question for Christians

Read Dr. Jim West, here:

I believe that one can make a fair case that Bush’s war in Iraq brought the dreadful law of unintended consequences with a vengeance if we think in terms of Christians and the History of Christianity. There is a tough question for Christians though:

Should Christians be complacent, with murderous dictators because their demise may ultimately result in the destruction not only of Christianity, but also Christian History and even the survival of Christian people, as it is happening in Iraq?

This is a tough question! It is tough because many Arabs I know, and one in particular who is a Christian, tell me a known fact that when Assad is gone, Christians and Christianity will disappear from Syria! How can you answer to this question?

Are we as Christians called to such self-sacrifice that we support the ousting of these murderous dictators, as Bush did in Iraq, and risk death of everything is dear to us, or do we simply give a blind eye for their atrocities so we can survive as Christians, our brethren in that area of the world can survive as well and the History of Christianity may be preserved?

Tough question indeed!

I.R.S. to monitor sermons now? Yoohoo, they may be saved!

Read here

If the article linked is true there will be many interesting and rather unexpected results. The immediate one is that some black churches will be hurt the most as they are the ones who invite candidates that not necessarily share their faith,  but promise (and never fulfill) to fight for what African Americans consider to be their issues. However, if this becomes a manner in which Pastors will dedicate their very short time with their congregation to the exposition if the Gospel exclusively, it may not be such a bad thing. The problem is that most pastors who resort to political speech from their pulpits often choose to do so because of their lack of theological preparation to do anything other than to rant on Sunday mornings against issues that are not exactly leading to “eternal life”, and do not pertain to “life and Godliness”.

The poster of the article on Facebook, makes the following pertinent comment, to which I agree:

This whole article is based on the assumption that 501c3 is even necessary for churches. As the author noted but didn’t fully explain, churches are automatically tax exempt. But they don’t need to file for 501c3 status. The disadvantages are they there is not certain “liabilities protection” that come with the 501c3 status since they would not be a “non profit organization.” The other disadvantage is there is no “tax exempt number” to allow the churches to not have to pay sales tax on purchases. Everything else is the same including the right for congregants to deduct their tithes and offerings if they qualify for itemizing on their annual tax returns.”

I decided that my church that I pastored in the past would not apply for a 501(C3) because I felt that the government has no right to “recognize” an organization as a church when the people who congregate together calls their congregation a church; I also believe that the only motivation for a Christian to give to the work of the ministry must be exclusively the love and interest for the work of the ministry. Do not give to my church expecting a tax exempted letter at the end of the fiscal year. I also believe that it is not the role of the government or the I.R.S., or through the I.R.S. or any other governmental organism to police and censor what is said by a group when they decide to assemble enjoying the constitutional right to assemble. So, I have mixed feelings about this measure (if proven true, again I say) since I think that God prompts men to enact certain laws and rules when He feels that it is necessary to keep His people within the boundaries of that which they are called to do. Not everything that man does that appears evil is evil resulting… remember the story of Joseph… but let’s wait and see. What thinketh Thou?

 

my 4th #painting on canvas. Just call me Vincent van No.

I tried to paint a flower – a purple-white lily (real thing) on a black background. I didn’t get very far. So, I painted something else.

The first painting is the black-painted canvas. The second is me attempting to draw a stem. It looked like a wine class. Perhaps it was a sign. Anyway, after a week of looking it, I moved on. I wanted to paint a bridge. I got the inspiration driving north recently. I passed over several of these types of bridges. The final pictures are the progress.

more on priorities over position, a continuing discussion #UMC

English: Ignatius of Antioch

English: Ignatius of Antioch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, John M. has a post up. I have left a comment I am reproducing here:

A few things… Wesley didn’t argue for holiness before doctrine. Why? I would suggest that unless we know our doctrine, we don’t know much about what is holy and why we need holiness. I do not think all we need is doctrine, but if we can agree on doctrine and then move on, based on that, to discussing everything else. At the moment, we have a myriad of views express by both the right and the left I would consider heterodox if not downright heretical.

Do we really disagree on what it means to be holy? Are you suggesting that marriage, LGBT or otherwise, is the sum total of what makes someone holy or the sum total of what an agreement is worth?

And I’m going to disagree with you about Christ and his holiness. We were not founded upon his work in his life, nor his manner of life, but upon his death which renewed the covenant and brought the Gentiles into Israel. This means knowledge of sacrifice and covenant came before what was expected of us.

Look at the early baptismal creeds. This was about the work and person of Christ, not about holiness.

Conversation is continuing over there. Please be sure to check it out.

Second, Tom Lambrecht from Goodness has left a comment on my previous post.

He writes,

Joel, are you saying there is not an orthodox doctrine of marriage? I believe that the Church has always defined marriage as between one man and one woman, no? And what about all the commands in the NT about avoiding sexual immorality and adultery? Are they not doctrinal in nature? I can’t imagine any of the great historical theologians of the church being considered orthodox while holding a definition of marriage and sexuality in line with the current progressive “doctrine.”

You uphold episcopal authority as a matter of orthodox doctrine. Yet it is not mentioned in either the Articles of Religion or the Confession of Faith, nor is it in any of the ecumenical creeds. So how can it be a matter of orthodox doctrine?

So I guess I’m arguing that if you can include episcopal authority as a doctrine, so can marriage and sexuality be included as doctrines of the church.

My reply,

Tom,

If there is an “orthodox doctrine of marriage” it is most likely the Catholic view that includes natural law almost to the level of doctrine. I do not believe marriage is a doctrine – unlike, say, the Trinity, baptism, and episcopal authority. Further, we know marriage has changed in the West during the past two thousand years.

I believe we should avoid sexual immorality and adultery. This is not doctrine in nature, but in the realm of holiness. Holiness as a whole should be a doctrine and is at least a Wesleyan precept. I would contend that Wesley understand perfection as the doctrine and holiness as the means to attain it.

The great theologians believed a few different things about items we may object to. Surely you aren’t appealing to authority to defend a position they cannot answer.

Given the newness of -sexuality as a concept, it is doubtful at best the great theologians would have grappled with what we are grappling with today. Further, given the current critical studies of Scripture, they may not have had the same facts to base such pronouncements on. Yes, knowledge changes and we are given more knowledge. I would assume this is in line with some of the great theologians you mention, such as Augustine and Calvin who allowed science may give us a better understanding of Scripture. I believe as well a catechism dear to the UM’s heart holds that both science and Scripture reveal to us God.

In regards to episcopal authority, I would submit this: Ephesians. Acts. Ignatius of Antioch. Cyprian of Carthage. Augustine. The Church Council as progenitor of the Creeds and Canon. I give to you Wesley’s demand for ordained clergy to administer the sacraments and his desire to never schism from the Anglican Church which he considered under episcopal authority. Without Episcopal authority as a prevenient doctrine we are left without much of what we consider Christianity. I mean, the Articles of Religion are themselves a form of authority, albeit ecclesiastical.

As to your line of questions… since nothing in the Articles of Religion, Creeds, or the Confession of Faith strictly forbid “gay marriage” I guess you should okay with it then, or at least understand it not to be a (Wesleyan) orthodox doctrine? I mean, nothing in the Creeds, Articles of Religion, or Confessions of Faith proclaim marriage between one man and one woman as doctrine either.

And honestly, Tom… a the “progressive ‘doctrine’”? Like progressives even know what that word means… ;)

 

One of my “book notes” for Religious Studies Review is not published at Wiley Online Library

You can find it here:

A Common Written Greek Source for Mark AND Thomas. By John Horman. Studies in Christianity and Judaism 20. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2011. Pp. viii + 256. Cloth, $85.00. – Watts – 2014 – Religious Studies Review – Wiley Online Library.

I can’t reproduce it yet, but… I found the concept fascinating but deeply flawed. Horman (an independent researcher, which is awesome) has a great theory, but in the end, it is a theory biased on the need to make Thomas more canonical than the other Gospels. I just don’t see it. One thing Horman does (and Francis Watson does) is to de-gnostic-fy Thomas, which is a welcomed feature.

Walking a line that is not so fine on Israel

A flag, with the Shahadah, frequently used by ...

A flag, with the Shahadah, frequently used by Hamas supporters Proportions: 9:16Citation needed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As one who has no problem going controversial, I find that this topic is something I stress about with finding the correct words. I strongly condemn the attacks by Hamas and Israel. I mean, Israel lives with people in their house who have a sworn blood oath to eradicate them. People like to really focus on the current situation with Israel and Hamas without taking into consideration the centuries predating the last 50-60 years. Yet, I’m not sure Israel has the best footing in their attacks on Hamas either. A pinpoint operation should be a pinpoint operation. Further, there should not be a ceasefire until Hamas is gone from Gaza.

Instead of arguing for one side or the other without actually knowing each side, I have stayed out of it. I do not believe an American can rightly suggest to either side the route to take and find it sad when some of my fellow bloggers attempt to craft carefully designed methods for the path to world peace.

I also look around at what is going on in Europe with the increase of anti-Semitic protests and a general feeling that it is now okay to say Jews are the the devil. And I cannot help but to connect it to American sentimentalarians who take the side of Hamas. I have to wonder if there isn’t something ingrained in automatically taking Hamas’s side? Does that tell us anything? But, that would be stepping into something I don’t really know much about.

So, there is tumblr post a Rabbi (who supports Israel) posted this morning. I think it is profound enough to share.

This Is Not Jewish (How to Criticize Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic).

Methinks thou doth protest too much; and against yourself!

There are rampant protests all over the world and commonly they are against Israel. It all happens because of the current events of the Middle East, which one must be living under a rock if, of which, he is still unaware.

A protest, however, is not legitimate when the people fostering, conducting, influencing, and reporting on the protest are the very reason, the very cause, for the events against which they are protesting.

Arabs who are Palestinian haters, Muslims, supporters of Hamas and the destruction of the Nation of Israel are the very cause as to why Israel takes extreme measures to continue to survive as a Nation. To quote Golda Meir: “when the Arabs start loving their children more than the hate the Jews, then there may be peace”. It is clearly a demonstration of the evil of humanity when the cause of the evil protests against that evil he caused as if he blameless. The reports in the major press outlets all over the world, are, on the part of the press, the dissemination of evil and the enabling of those who refuse to receive peace while their enemy is still breathing and functioning as a free nation.

The cycle of violence will continue indefinitely until Hamas and their counterparts decide that it is okay for Israel to exist, and Israel realizes that Palestinians have a full right, unconditional right, to statehood and land, and Arabs, yes, Arabs, and Muslims stop fostering a war between two ethnic groups they hate. If you do not know that many Arabs want to see the end of the Palestinian people, you do not know much!

So, there it is! One does not have to take sides or elaborate too much on the millennial old reasons for this war; one only needs to take a good look at the perpetrators… Once the perpetrators assuage their hatred, war in that area may be something that we will not hear very often. The protesters shown in the international press are often protesting against themselves as enablers of this war!

is it about positions or priorities? #UMC #UMCschism

CELIBATE

Never be sorry to celebrate

You should read Matt’s post. At the end, he asks several questions. I wanted to see if I can provide some answers from my perspective.

If two people with irreconcilable views can both be said to occupy the middle, it’s not clear to me that language of “a middle way” really gets us very far. It may help us have a conversation without it devolving into fisticuffs, and for that it is commendable, but it’s not clear to me that this is sufficient to bring about unified United Methodist Church, which seems to be a goal of those who see themselves in the middle.

For me, the via media focuses on Christ. As a subset of this, it focuses on orthodox doctrines of the Church. For most of us, the issue of homosexuality is not a doctrinal matter (i.e., Trinity, baptism, episcopal authority) but is a matter (in Wesleyan terms) of holiness. That is why I can focus on episcopal authority even while arguing for inclusion. I can focus on orthodoxy, hold to prima scripture, and attempt to be a part of the Great Tradition while arguing for inclusion.

If the via media is a way of thinking about an issue and not an actual position on a particular issue, how does it actually move us forward? Who can help me? What is the via media? How do I know it when I see it? What am I missing?

I would say it is not a way of thinking about an issue but about priorities. I have argued consistently for a return to a theological grounding. I believe if we focus on affirming the proper role of Scripture, on what it means to be human, and how to stand as a Protestant in the Great Tradition, we can slowly began to answer the questions posed by all of the fields related to the issue of inclusion. In my opinion, via media is the theological finger trap keeping inclusionists from going liberal protestant and conservatives from going fundamentalists, or worse — Southern Baptist.

For me, via media is not the middle between left/progressive and right/conservative — because those two sides are usually defined, or start with, the issue of LGBT. Rather, the via media is about placing orthodoxy before other issues. Thus, we argue for orthodoxy and attempt to build up from there.

Rather, it is not about sex, but about the Virgin-born.

via Incarnatio: Scripture & Culture in Wesleyan Perspective: Defining the Methodist middle: Is there a via media for the #UMC?.

Taking a tip from the left, Christians created the “P” word.

The left-wing in this country has been very clever in creating what I call “buzzwords” whose purpose is to intimidate people from voicing opinion on almost anything. For example we have the “R” word so that when one voices any opinion of disagreement with the White House, the left automatically raises the “R” word for racism, meaning that, if you keep disagreeing with the most disagreeable policies of the man who occupies the White House, then you will be labeled, zeroed in, attacked, slandered and ultimately ostracized as a racist only by being so bold as to speaking out your conscience.

The same is done with the “H” word, or homophobic even if you accept the legal right for gays to marry in the legal system but you oppose their intolerant persistence in destroying those people whose professions involve a service that, once performed, implies a personal endorsement of the persons or events in which the services will be used, such as photographers and bakers, oh, if you say that these professionals should be left alone, along with churches and ministers who prefer not to bless a gay marriage, and that there are plenty of ministers and churches that would, then you are labeled with the “H” word, and then all the process used for the “buzzwords”, that is, labeling, zeroing in, slandered and ostracizing, commences.

How about the P.C. (political correctness) buzzword for any attempt to point out that which is, in your opinion, an opportunity for societal revision? Try that one and you would suffer the same process of influence murder (because this is what it is) even if you present the most reasonable of all reasons. After all there is nothing you can explain to people who refuse to understand. Well, Christians, since it has worked so well for the left-wing, decided to take a stab on creating a buzzword of their own,  and they decided that perhaps, because of all the historical implications, the past examples, and recent events in the Middle East, the word “persecuted” with its initial “P” would be a great idea and cause the same deadly impact of the left-wing buzzwords. So, if anyone levels even any childish opposition to any of the, so called, Christian symbols, as Santa Claus, for example, Christians will immediately scream “bloody persecution”, and label the opponent as a “persecutor” because, after all, Christians in America are persecuted.

 Trust me here, but He didn’t mean persecution by having your opinions and childish symbols questioned in the public arena, but that you would be persecuted by being in the arena with ravenous animals.

Fellow Christians, allow me to point a few things to you so you would veer off the path of using the left wing method of influence murder:

First, The Man to whom you credit for founding that which you call Christianity, told you that, by following Him, which supposedly is what the word Christian should mean, you would be persecuted. Trust me here, but He didn’t mean persecution by having your opinions and childish symbols questioned in the public arena, but that you would be persecuted by being in the arena with ravenous animals. Even if some of the claims that this ever happened in great scale may be doubtful, but if they are true, having your neighborhood oppose to your Christmas decoration, having a rock with the Ten Commandments removed from a Court House, having pundits mocking you on television, having the government interfere with the free practice of your religion, is far, far, far, may I say, far, better than to be martyred and genuinely persecuted, whether it be in the Roman Arena or in some town in the Middle East. There is a Brazilian saying, obviously inherited from our Portuguese ancestors that says that “hot pepper in the other fellow’s eyes, refreshes the eye of the beholder.” That means, in other words, someone else’s suffering and agony can often make us feel comfortable and blessed! Yes, Christians today should look upon genuine cases of persecution and martyrdom and quit the stupidity and the laughable use of the “P” word and enjoy their very real peace they have in America.

Second, I have said many times, I believe that those who are opposing to what is labeled Christian symbols today are unknowingly doing God’s work because it is past the time that Christians would stop cheapening the message of the Gospel attempting to tell its story with nothing but nursery rhymes as if everyone was in the toddler Sunday School class of a small church where the Sunday School teachers are as trained in what they do as the toddlers they teach. Christianity should stop developing public displays of faith so as to replace their inability to reasonably do what one of their leaders of the past said that they should do which is “be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in you”.

Oh, Christians today have had it easy in America; no one for ages questioned them “Christian what you believe?” The overwhelming majority of Christians cannot provide a public profession of faith that will give them some credit for thinking and believing the way they do. The opposition to high Christian education is rampant among some Christian circles, the opposition and the name calling of theologians who attempt to train Christians and to equip them with “intellectual ammo” (to parody a known Christian Web Site), is so fierce that, a few theologians of whom I know will refuse invitations to speak in Churches, which is the very place they should be! So, you are not being persecuted; you are just not being persuasive enough about your faith.

Well, I know that many will disagree with me and say that Christians do not have to explain anything, that this is the role of something questionable called “apologetic” and that I am saying the things that I say because I am myself a liberal (thus labeling me and drawing slanderous conclusions abut me as well), therefore I think the way I think and write these things here. I know that persecution must come for the reason I mentioned above, namely, Jesus Christ said they would! But we are far from there yet! We are still feeling that sense of comfort as we gaze upon the visual effects available in art which depict the real result of persecution in the past. It is not because one is liberal or conservative that they will call balderdash the exaggeration of that which Christians call persecution; it is because, simply, by the “standards” of persecution, no one yet is being persecuted!

Perhaps, at this point, to be fair, I should say that I am fully aware when things go against my ways and the ways of those who write mocking, or fairly warning, Christians for their persecution complex, we will raise the same banner of the “P” word, but until then, allow me to create my own “P” word, but rather than persecution, let that “P” word be a few other good “P” words: Perseverance, Persuasion, and Patience.

What motivated to write this? Well, there is a movie, supposedly a Christian movie (what is a Christian movie anyway?)  called “Persecuted” a name that, for the reasons expounded in this piece, I refuse to go see! From this right-wing perspective Christians should be imitators of Christ and not imitators of the methods of those who prefer to shut the opposition up by emphasizing words whose purpose is none other than to shut up open and salutary discourse.

Ken Ham, not content on sending humans to hell, now looks to the stars for the godless

War of the Worlds

Do you know our lord and savior, Zenu-nu-nu the Bloody Conquerer? (Photo credit: jurvetson)

A few weeks ago, Ken Ham posted something decrying the United Methodist Church and our internal troubles. Several of the more conservative people on the forums ate it up as they do with most things non-Wesleyan. I suggested it would be easier to tolerate the basest of changes to “traditional marriage” than it is to swallow anything by Ken Ham.

Ham’s latest spewing is why. A few weeks ago, NASA (not a UK news site) suggested we may find proof of alien life within 2 decades. Ken Ham has, by far, the most expected response:

And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth. God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ, the “Godman,” to be our relative, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin—the Savior of mankind.

via “We’ll find a new earth within 20 years” | Around the World with Ken Ham.

He goes on to say “Jesus did not become the “GodKlingon” or the “GodMartian”!  Only descendants of Adam can be saved.” Beyond this idiotic statement is the underlying misunderstanding anthropos. I can do nothing but laugh at how silly his reasoning is. But, I note it is in line with fundamentalist views of God. God is limited to our words and to our expectations. Further, our notion of atonement is limited to those with the correct knowledge. Ham’s philosophy is no more evolved than the small-pox soaked blankets given to Native Americans or the enslavement of Africans, both actions taken (in part) because those people were somehow less worthy of humanity (and salvation) than the rest of us.

So, beyond the inane stupidity this represents, let me offer you some correct approaches.

  • The end of the world as pictured in the New Testament seems to be more in line with Stoic conflagration. Regardless, it is not a physical destruction but a symbolic change of order. We find this idea in Genesis but especially in Isaiah with its talk of “new creation.” We need to learn biblical cosmology and how to apply it to soteriology and eschatology. We need to understand words like creation and universe before we make sweeping proclamations about the state of the universe beyond our blue jewel.
  • If Jesus repairs the sin of Adam, and if Jesus’s death is only for humanity, then only humanity under the curse. Then, by necessity, the xenozoic would not fall under the Fall and would not need the death of Christ. This does not mean they “go to hell.” This simply means our religious expectations as Christians do not apply to them. On the other hand, if all of “creation” is under the “curse,” then likewise all of creation is under the death of Christ.
  • If alien life is discovered, we are going to be a world of hurt theologically. I am not sure Christianity, or rather, Protestant Christianity, can survive. Judaism will. Islam may. Some of the eastern religions as well. Catholic Christianity may find it difficult, but we will see. Fundamentalism will retreat even further into intellectual darkness.

What happens if when we discover alien life? Our theology either gets really small, really big, or dies.

Also, I have a real issue in how Ken Ham describes the atonement.