Donatism & Church Unity #DreamUMC #UMCSchism

: United Methodist Church

: United Methodist Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While Joel is on vacation, I promised him I would contribute a few original posts this week on here. For the past year, Joel has given more of his energy to the United Methodist Church and the -ism Schism controversies within it. What are the reasons for schisms, and who are calling for them. There are some rather unwise persons out here in Christianity calling for schism over their pet issues, without even knowing what it means historically. Do they not understand that schismatics desire bloodshed? The history of Schisms in Church history is a rather gory one. The Protestant Reformation brought with it about a century of warfare between Catholics and Protestants. The Eastern/Western Schism in the 11th century was followed by the anti-Greek Orthodox Crusades in the 14th century and the invasion of Constantinople. In the late 15th century, Christopher Columbus declared Indians as non-persons, and pretty soon Africans replaced First Nations persons as the enslaved class, only to have thousands of “Christians” die in battle for the right to own other people during the U.S. American Civil War.

What I am trying to say is this: religious bloodshed does not happen in a vacuum. The context for each of these conflicts is church schism. The one primary example of church schism is the Donatist controversy. Blood was shed on both sides. The Donatists rejected men as bishops if they were suspected of turning over fellow Christians and the already rare copies of sacred writings. The Donatists believed their words and actions made them the one true Pure Church. The debate became about tribalism versus the Church Universal. I don’t think the Donatists were in error; they just needed to understand our righteousness comes from Christ, and not our own beliefs or commitments.

I do believe it is possible for progressives and conservatives to fellowship together. When yet another leader of the NeoCalvinist movement was selected to a high position within the Southern Baptist Convention, I said to myself this is problematic. I mean, I live across the street from Southern Baptists who identify as more Armininan. The Southern Baptist church I attend is labelled as “liberal” by Al Mohler because it ordains women deacons, and yesterday, we had the honor of having an ordained UMC elder provide the sermon for us yesterday. Her message was a testimony to the possibilities of church unity. Not only did she recognize the persecution of Christians around the world, but also the racial divisions that keep us separated here at home. She reminded us of Paul’s teaching of biblical solidarity, that Christians are all of one body. Schism is an attempt by one limb of the body in order to several all the others off. Schismatics are inherently prone to violence, and they will inevitably fail.

about my heart…

Atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wesley had been on missionary journeys, preached, and taught and yet he did not know the blessed assurance of Christ. He had received this and that advice from pious men, generally to continue on until he knew for himself that salvation was his.

On 24 May, 1738, Wesley was dragged to the society meeting at Aldersgate where they started by reading Luther’s preface to Romans. Suddenly, something happened…

I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

His heart was strangely warmed.

Growing up a fundamentalist, as I have often documented, we dwelled in the constant fear that we would see God in his most wrathful state, our salvation dependent upon how our state of sinlessness before we died. There were no deathbed confessions, only a hope we could somehow measure up. When something bad happened, it was God warning us. We had deserved it and in God’s finite mercy, he had chosen to warn us before outright sending us to hell. If something bad happened, it was a sign we were in danger of hell. We should find the leaven in the house and get it out.

Wednesday night, I went to bed ready for an early start to our annual beachside vacation. I had a few things I needed to do at the office on Thursday but otherwise, I was ready to go. a few hours later, I awoke in what I now know was atrial fibrillation. Further, since I went undiscovered about roughly 2 hours, I was also dehydrated considerably. Long story short, there are a lot of issues compounded but I have a slightly enlarged left atrium of my heart and show signs of some heart damage. Most of the issues can be taken care of with a change of diet and a few medications to prevent major problems until I get everything else under control. The enlarged heart, however, will never go away.

I would rather not concern myself with what would have happened had I not been discovered when I did.

As I was laying in the ER room, and later in my hospital room, I pondered a few things. Not one of them included my state of perfection or my location in the life after this one. I have discovered that this is not my concern. If there is a God and if Christianity is true, then my state has already been secured. I have nothing to worry about — and nothing to do to add to that security. I can do nothing to be more saved than what Christ has done in his faithfulness. I cannot unsave myself either. I can, however, more fully rest upon him because I have had that faith tested and I did not waver.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I am not afraid of not waking up in the middle of the night. My fear, now, is to never see my loved ones again, to never hug my children again, and to never know another sunset. I worry about every odd pain or short breath. I am sure this will go away. I know I overthink things. But, it is a bit scary.

Fanny Crosby, a Methodist hymn writer, says it best.

 

in defense of victoria osteen

Have you seen the video, with the apocryphal ending (like Job or Esther) that makes it better?

This is what she said,

“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it—we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”

Yes, it is a heresy, stupid, and wrong. But, so is the Arianism of liberal Christianity, the gnosticism (rejection of the good of the material world) of fundamentalism, and the denial of the Trinity of oneness folks. This is simply American Christianity.

Why are we judging her for speaking power to what too many people believe is the truth? She’s not at fault; we are. Recent studies have shown that pastors would rather be successful than preach Christian orthodoxy. People would rather be told the world revolves around them. Americans are laughed at because we often have this air around us that nothing outside this border matters. What Victoria said is exactly what too many people believe already. She is simply being the pastor many want.

Don’t blame her. Blame those who don’t teach orthodoxy, who don’t want to hear it — blame those who want to give an hour a week to God and expect him to pay out money in return. Blame civic religion.

science approaches the way memory changes

Jesus in the Gospels

Jesus in the Gospels (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Memory research is interesting exactly because of the way we remember things – even the way we remember the remembrances of the Gospels. I believe that such science can help us even in understanding how the Gospels shaped the early memory of Jesus and were themselves shaped by the early memory of Jesus.

Some aspects of the memory can endure a long time, while others are more fickle. “The memory of a romantic first meal out with a partner may take on a different mood when the relationship falters,” said Tomonori Takeuchi and Richard Morris at the University of Edinburgh, in an article accompanying the study. “In these cases, memory of the place remains accurate, but the positive associations with that place are lost.”

In short, I believe the monumental act of the written Gospel forever changed the historical memory of Jesus, even among those who may have actually known him (although by this time, it would have been very few).

The Dignity of Labor and the Rest of God (Repost)

Originally from here,

WEBCommentary(tm) – The Dignity of Labor and the Rest of God.

But, I think it has moved…

To the Coal Miners, to the Steel Workers, to the stay at home mothers, to the workers who labour…God bless you.

Monday, September 1 is Labor Day in America. Labor Day is that special day when recognition is given to the millions who make up the nation’s working force. It’s a day of recreation, citywide parades, end of summer barbeques and political speeches. For some it will be just an extra day to relax quietly at home.

Both work and the worker are certainly worthy of a holiday of their own. Jesus placed much emphasis on the dignity of labor and the rights of workers. Interestingly, he never identified with professional religion as a career. Instead he was a simple carpenter by trade and his followers were working men. In Luke 10:7, Jesus said, “The laborer is worthy of his hire.”

Wherever the gospel of Christ has been influential the nobility of the worker has emerged. Many fail to realize that the improved working conditions of labor in the West are due much to the influence of Christianity. It was during the industrial revolution, for instance, that the devout Christian statesmen Lord Shaftesbury sought to change the abysmal working conditions for the masses in Great Britain. Men worked as much as sixteen hours a day – six days a week. Women and little children labored in the mines and in the factories. Little boys were hired as chimney sweeps. The necessary protections for workers were not provided and some died in accidents – others just from sheer exhaustion. Workers were little more than objects of an employer’s economic exploitations. Shaftesbury’s legislation brought relief to these injustices.

Work is inexplicably linked to the great truth that all persons are made in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:36). God has made mankind like himself – able to create, to conceive, to build and to make a difference. Idleness in life, however, strikes at the very heart of an individual’s personhood.

In Jesus’ “Parable of the Laborers”, the men standing in the market-place were not just loafers lazily whiling away the hours. They were men who had come looking for a job. Many brought the tools of their trade with them in hopes of getting hired. Some would wait until late in the evening for work because they were desperate to feed and clothe their families. But then the master came and took pity on them, sending them into his vineyards and paying them generously. Commentator William Barclay notes: “This parable states implicitly two great truths which are the very charter of the working man – the right of every man to work and the right of every man to a living wage for his work.” [2]

It’s unfortunate that many every day have to go to a job that they don’t enjoy. But even when this is the case, work still has its value not simply for monetary reasons, but for reasons of the soul. “Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do that day which must be done, whether you like it or not,” wrote Charles Kingsley. “Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance and self control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content and a hundred virtues which the idle never know.” [3]

The most sublime beauty of the Christian concept of work, however, is that it can be connected with a divine calling. The apostle Paul admonished, “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians. 10:31). “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23) The late D. Elton Trueblood expounded on this notion, saying, “There was a time when the idea of calling was applied, almost exclusively, to the work of clergy and missionaries…Why, it is now asked, should not a man be called to be a brick mason or a banker? Why should not a fireman be conscious of a holy vocation? After all, he is certainly engaged in a work which saves lives and prevents much misery. Why should not a woman sense that she is called to be a mother, a wife, or a librarian?” [4] Indeed, all service when performed to the honor of God ranks the same with him. God makes the work holy and richly blesses it.

Work also produces the necessity for rest. Thus Christ invites all laborers: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). There is no greater burden – nothing more “heavy laden” – than a broken relationship with God. The work of sinful passions is spiritually exhausting and completely unfruitful. Such panders with the promise of prosperity, freedom and happiness, only to disillusion with an impoverishment and restlessness of spirit. So Jesus adds, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:29).

Could there possibly be any finer celebration of Labor Day than for one to cease from sinful labors and enter into Christ’s rest? And what joy would also be brought to the celebration by entering into partnership with the gentle Savior – to learn to labor for his glory and reward – to render every service as the light load of his love.

Rev. Mark H. Creech
Director, Christian Action League of North Carolina

The UMC and Rights of Workers

NJ - Morristown: Morristown United Methodist C...

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4135.Rights of Workers

I. Biblical/Theological Background

Scripture teaches that human beings, created in the image of God, have an innate dignity (Genesis 1:27). God grants dignity to work by commanding human beings to be stewards of the land and to till and keep the earth (Genesis 1:28, 2:15). Work is one way through which human beings exercise their God-given creativity.

Scripture also teaches that an economic system should be ordered so that employees receive justice at their place of work and that concern for right relationships among people and with all of creation should be the heart of any economic system. Society and its institutions are to be structured so that marginalized persons participate fully in the shaping of society and their own future. Both the Old and the New Testaments show God’s desire that wealth and prosperity of society be shared. God’s covenant with the Jewish people required them to respect the gifts that God gave them and share them with one another. God condemned the bondage and abusive conditions the Pharaoh imposed upon the Israelites. The Hebrew Prophets decried the growing disparities of wealth and poverty. The Book of Acts describes an early Christian community that shared its goods with one another and throughout both Testaments, God’s people are urged to give special concern for widows, orphans, and immigrants. The basic principles are clear: all workers should be treated with respect and dignity, disparities of wealth and poverty should be avoided, workers should earn wages that sustain themselves and their families, and employers have a particular responsibility to treat workers fairly and empower them to organize to improve conditions.

The concern of The United Methodist Church for the dignity of workers and the rights of employees to act collectively is stated in the Social Principles. Both employer and union are called to “bargain in good faith within the frame work of the public interest” (¶ 163B). In response to the increasing globalization of the economic system, the widening disparity between rich and poor, and attempts to deprive workers of their fundamental rights, the church reaffirms its position in support of workers and their right to organize.

And that’s not all. For the rest, click here.

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The ELCA Position on Worker’s Rights

20px Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, B...

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I don’t know much about the polity of the ECLA, but this is a statement from them:

ELCA Churchwide Assembly Action CA91.06.35

Passed by the 1991 Churchwide Assembly in Orlando, Florida.

Whereas
To approve the following recommendation of the Reference and Counsel Committee as amended:

Whereas, Our Lutheran traditions affirm the basic dignity of the individual, and we place a high value on the human person and consider human well-being an important criterion for determining moral and ethical commitments; and

Whereas, Our faith makes us particularly sensitive to those who are adversely affected by economic dislocation and powerlessness; and

Whereas, The collective-bargaining process is fundamental for the attainment of economic justice in American society; and

Whereas, In those instances where the two parties are unable to reach an agreement, employees have the right to engage in a legal work stoppage or strike; this right to withhold labor as a last resort is an integral part of the collective-bargaining process; and

Whereas, For many years, it was generally recognized that employees who engaged in a legal work stoppage as part of the collective-bargaining process would not be penalized by the permanent loss of their jobs; and in more recent time a growing number of employees have responded to these legal work stoppages by hiring persons to replace permanently the striking workers, and, unfortunately, this practice is allowed under existing labor laws, but until recent years was not widely used by employers; and

Whereas, This practice is a direct threat to the collective-bargaining process as it has developed in this country since the mid-1930s, causing hardship in families and entire communities where employees have, in effect, been fired from their jobs for engaging in collective-bargaining, and a weakened collective-bargaining process deprives American workers of their right to participate effectively in decisions that impact their lives and future; and

Whereas, Legislation to protect the rights of striking workers is being considered in U.S. Congress and various state legislatures; now, therefore, be it

Resolved
RESOLVED, that the 1991 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

  1. offer its support and prayers for labor and management who engage in collective-bargaining to reach acceptable agreements in their working relationship;
  2. urge employers, corporations, and workers to commit themselves to negotiated settlements;
  3. express concern for workers and their families who endure hardship and job insecurity due to the breakdown of the traditional collective-bargaining practices;
  4. call for and end to recriminations against workers who participate in strikes;
  5. call upon the appropriate churchwide units, synods, congregations, and members to support legislation that would strengthen the viability of negotiated settlements and prevent the permanent replacement of striking workers;
  6. call upon the Division for Church in Society to have available information to assist the members of this church to understand these issues; and
  7. commit itself to public policy advocacy and advocacy with corporations, businesses, congregations, this church, and church-related institutions to protect the rights of workers, support the collective-bargaining process, and protect the right to strike.
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Of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” and Matthew 6

icebucketbreeBy now everyone knows and many have participated in the so called “Ice Bucket Challenge” with the intent to help charity.

It is absolutely wonderful that someone helps charities and, often, the motivations and ulterior motives for one doing so, are ignored on behalf of the end result of an act of charity, regardless as to whether such act is sincere or just a stunt.

One of the greatest marketing campaign in my opinion, in the field of charity as a skillful way to make people publicly demonstrate their charity by using the proverbial “blowing the trumpet” through getting an icy self inflicted shower, this cleverly planned campaign made people who otherwise are not attracted to charitable giving finally show some interest in altruism.

Now, even if one for the gift sake, or the cause it benefits, may ignore the fact that self-serving, opportunistic giving is not “real” giving, I really can’t say that the benefits of genuine Christian charity can be ascribed, to those who participated in such a public manner. Jesus told us to practice our charity in private. As God privately rewards those who pray in private, He will reward those who give in private; as men reward with accolades and recognition those who do it all in public, no reward will be left to those who find public approval and acceptance.

I know that, for many the Bible is a book to be questioned, ant it is only a part of other sources of religious authority, but, if these apologists of plurality of Christian authoritarian teaching could tell me, I would like to see any of their own para-sources of authority that teaches that our charitable acts should be practiced in public… Oh, but it is all for fun, intended to combine charity with fun… I’d say that I own a company, inactive at this moment, called “FunRaisers” whose slogan is “We put the FUN on FUND RAISING”, so, I am for having fun in giving, but, when the fun of giving becomes a buffoonish way of being ostentatious about your giving and attracting the attention to you more than to the cause you’re giving, then, YES, giving can become and exercise in the futile violation of Matthew 6.

Am I splitting hairs? Am I being demanding and legalistic? Well, saints, the little foxes spoil the vines, and often the things that we consider to be unimportant, and faddish, perhaps even innocent, but massively practiced, are the ones that will ultimately water down and dissolve good and traditional Christian teaching and trivialize the cause of those who truly depend on charitable donations. It will be not so far fetched for me to say that henceforth it will be very hard to motivate people to give to a great cause without somehow affording them some type of public recognition even if it includes something as innocent and clownish as wasting cold water! It is already happening! People get naked in the streets for the protection of animals, radio stations offer donations for each cockroach one can eat (as it happened in So. America) etc. So, where is the good old secret and worshipful giving?

I congratulate all of those who risked so much with a bucked of iced water being poured over their bodies, specially in summer, who sacrificed so much for the cause of charity. I give you my recognition and so do many Facebook and Tweet readers and the overwhelming majority of the population. Now with mine and the world’s recognition, plus the thrill of the cold water suddenly changing your body temperature, “you have received your reward”; expect none other!

For you #UMC-ers, Thomas Coke’s Commentary on the Holy Bible (6 vols.) – @Logos Bible Software

Journey from Genesis to Revelation with the “father of Methodist missions” as a guide. Thomas Coke’s Commentary on the Holy Bible provides an in depth look at both the Old and New Testaments. Coke—cofounder of the Methodist Church in America and the first Methodist bishop—was an influential figure in eighteenth-century Christianity and his commentary offers valuable insight into the development of Methodist theology.

In the Logos editions, the volumes in Thomas Coke’s Commentary on the Holy Bible are enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

via Thomas Coke’s Commentary on the Holy Bible (6 vols.) – Logos Bible Software.