I am going to help lead a new class in the fall (if it all works out) on covenant discipleship, from the Wesleyan perspective. I am looking for various quotes and thoughts at the moment. This one…
Well, he was pope for a reason:
This linguistic change reveals a spiritual process with wide implications, namely, the attempt to get behind the Church’s confession of faith and reach the purely historical figure of Jesus. He is no longer to be understood through this confession, but, as it were, in and through himself alone; and thus his achievement and his challenge are to be reinterpreted from scratch. Consequently people no longer speak of following Christ but of following Jesus: for “discipleship of Christ” implies the Church’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, and hence it involves a basic acknowledgment of the Church as the primary form of discipleship. “Discipleship of Jesus”, however, concentrates on the man Jesus who opposes all forms of authority; one of its features is a basically critical attitude to the Church, seen as a sign of its faithfulness to Jesus. This in turn goes beyond Christology and affects soteriology, which must necessarily undergo a similar transformation. Instead of “salvation” we find “liberation” taking pride of place, and the question, “How is the liberating act of Jesus to be mediated?” automatically adopts a critical stance over against the classical doctrine of how man becomes a partaker of grace.
Joseph Ratzinger, Behold The Pierced One: An Approach to a Spiritual Christology (trans. Graham Harrison; San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), 14.
I believe it is time for us to begin to think about these things! Period! Joel Watts last blog in this blog is excellent if one take seriously what he really believes about the Bible! I was going to publish this in there as a reply, but I decided to make my reply into a blog. It may be better for readers to understand what is my point on that, something that, before God I have been struggling since my pastoral days, and, after which, when I came to a firm position, not only I find peace and comfort in God, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of God, His Word and what His Word may represent to us. So, here it goes:
Admittedly, even as a proponent of Sola Scriptura, I cringe when I read tenets of faith that use the words you mentioned. I fail in accepting that the people who chose those words really have any sense of their meaning. In the other hand there are traditions that are in and of itself biblical traditions and should be respected and used authoritatively simply because they originated in Scripture; but there is also what I have called for many years “tr-addiction”; these are “traditions” that became “tr-additions” and later turned into “tr-addictions”, or, they are inventions that become additions to the faith, that later culminate with being so “ingrown” and ingrained that they are hard to dispel as an addiction to a drug. Maybe we (Joel and me) should start a “tr-addiction rehab!”.
Interestingly enough, most of these “tr-addictions” originated not from more moderate biblical thinkers, but from the very same people who claim that the Bible is what the Pure Life says it is! Oh, need examples? Easy: Organizations who say what Pure Life says about the Bible add to the Salvation “condition” (there is no condition for Salvation by the way, other than being not saved), to believe what they say about the Bible! Yes! This simple, and… this ridiculous! It is no longer the Cross alone, but also, the 66 Canon, word by word, letter by letter! I propose that the belief that believing the 66 Canon word by word is a good thing, but it turns into a bad thing when it is made into a condition for Salvation! Then it is an addition that becomes a tr-addition, that later turns into a tr-addiction! This is where flawed logic leads us: the place at which we wanted to avoid being…
BTW, this is not the purely fundamentalist and Pentecostal or even the Primitive Baptists fault alone! I have been shunned by Presbyterians (who unlike the Vegetarians who eat vegetables, they eat Presbyters) because I have some Lutheran views about the Canon; some of them don’t think I can be saved if I hold to Lutheran views about the Canon… I have to subscribe fully with the Westminster Confession of Faith (which I do in 98% at least) which says that the Bible is a 66 books Canon! Then they accuse Roman Catholics for elevating traditions to the level or over the Bible! Isn’t that something?
Even Jesus on his way to Emmaus (Luke 24) said that “Moses (the Law) The Prophets and the Psalms speak of Him…” So, allow me a bit of fun here, but even Jesus may not have been a 66 books Canon believer, huh? Well, I know that the N.T. had not been written yet… but, I hope you get my drift… even Jesus was Christocentric in His view of Scripture!
The idea of a Tr-addiction Rehab Center is growing…
(Oh, brother, there goes my opportunity to blog here exclusively as a “conservative”… unless it is added “non-conformist” to that)
The ‘lukewarmness’ of Laodicea is to be related to the local water-supply, as suggested by Rudwick and Green. Their interpretation of the term as denoting ineffectiveness rather than half-heartedness is to be accepted. Further study confirms their suggestion that ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ allude respectively to Hierapolis and Colossae. Some details of the background and its application remain obscure. 1
Hemer notes that the “moralistic speculations which cannot reasonably be sustained” in regards to the usual interpretations. This is important, because the use of “lukewarm” is often tossed around to indicate some sort of vile middle-ness.
Such as today. In response to a post I wrote, some pastors who should know better use this word as a way to dismiss the argument. He used it to such a squalid and tepid faith. Yet, this is not the case. Rather, biblical scholarship shows this letter has been misunderstood, greatly. Rather than a faith that is stuck in the middle, χλιαρός is meant to show a faith without God, without the need for God, and that is self-sufficient. Hemer goes on to show that the condemnation was not against the spirituality or faith itself of the Laodiceans but of the works.
Hemer draws a parallel: “In Arrian, Epict. 3.21, Epictetus, a native of Hierapolis who betrays little contact with Judaism or Christianity, likens unqualified persons who enter lightly upon lecturing or the mysteries successively to those of a weak stomach who throw up their food and to those who misuse eyesalves”2
Do you get this? The falseness, not the mildness, of the people are at question. It is not the wrongness, nor the misguided, but the falseness. For instance, those who hide their demons behind a cloak of a public show of Christian McCarthyism.
Colin J. Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.; Livonia, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Dove Booksellers, 2001), 208 ↩
Colin J. Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.; Livonia, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Dove Booksellers, 2001), 191. ↩
The act of confession is something Protestants often fail to understand.
“The Sacraments of Penance and Reconciliation [...] flow directly from the Paschal mystery…In fact, the same evening of Easter the Lord appeared to the disciples, closed in the Cenacle, and, after addressing to them the greeting ‘Peace be with you’, he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven.’”
It is thus that we wait for entire sanctification; for a full salvation from all our sins, from pride, self-will, anger, unbelief; or, as the Apostle expresses it, “go on unto perfection.” But what is perfection? The word has various senses: Here it means perfect love. It is love excluding sin; love filling the heart, taking up the whole capacity of the soul. It is love “rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, in every thing giving thanks.” [Sermon 43--The Scripture Way of Salvation]
“Well, but what more than this can be implied in entire sanctification?” It does not imply any new kind of holiness: Let no man imagine this. From the moment we are justified, till we give up our spirits to God, love is the fulfilling of the law; of the whole evangelical law, which took place of the Adamic law, when the first promise of “the seed of the woman” was made. Love is the sum of Christian sanctification; it is the one kind of holiness, which is found, only in various degrees, in the believers who are distinguished by St. John into “little children, young men, and fathers.” The difference between one and the other properly lies in the degree of love. And herein there is as great a difference in the spiritual, as in the natural sense, between fathers, young men, and babes. [Sermon 83--On Patience]
Entire sanctification, or Christian perfection, is neither more nor less than pure love; love expelling sin, and governing both the heart and life of a child of God. The Refiner’s fire purges out all that is contrary to love, and that many times by a pleasing smart. Leave all this to Him that does all things well, and that loves you better than you do yourself. [Letters to Mr. Walter Churchey, of Brecon]
Modesty taught me that I was always on display. There was no occasion in which it was acceptable to be immodest. Not the beach, not at the pool with friends, not in my own backyard (sunbathing was out because a neighbor might glance over and see me). This took my normal self-consciousness as a teenage girl and amped it up to an impossible degree. I once had a bee fly down my (acceptably loose) shirt and, in flailing around to get it out, had a family member comment that I’d just “flashed” my own grandfather. I was horrified for the rest of the week. That’s not normal. The normal order of priorities is getting dangerous animals out of your clothing first, and then worrying about making your own relatives perv on you second. Not so with the modesty doctrine. I should have let it sting me, apparently. Getting stung was the lesser risk.
This is an assignment due today. Thought I’d post it. Rip it to shreds, my friends:
Deontological ethics are those ethics based upon rules which have various sources such as Divine Command, Natural Law, Covenant and Rules, and Covenants and Contracts. The name of these ethics is derived from the Greek word deon which simply means something necessary. Thus, we should understand that deontological ethics are those rules which are seen as necessary for one reason or another, such as identity forming or because they are the will of God. They are seen as an obligation for the rule followers because it binds them to the rule-maker, which in some cases may be God or one another in a society. These ethics have a weakness in that they often produce rules which prevent good or better actions. Lovin gives the example of a Church steward who in following the letter of the law, is unable to make the local congregation more money on its investment. Or, following the Trolley Problem as introduced by Philippa Foot, actions are declared wrong regardless if by committing one ‘sin’ (or breaking one rule) better actions result. The results matter little in this genre of ethics, only the morality of the action. In the end, it simply doesn’t allow the individual or society to seek results, only to follow the rules.
In teleological ethics regards the “good” as an object of the goal. (Lovin, 22) As Lovin points out, the development of these ethics comes to fruition in the developments of the late 18th and early 18th century democracies. Simply put, it was the ethics of what causes the most happiness to those interested. It allowed societies to question antiquated rules and establish new norms to reflect the new sense of human destiny. These ethics involve achieving a goal, but as Lovin points out, the goals are often difficult to find. Others have noted that this idea of communal happiness has its drawbacks in that often times, rights or long standing rules which are meant to preserve order can be dispensed with because the communal happiness is in question. Bentham is incorrect when he notes that our interests outpace our fears. Both drive one another, and in a teleological society, they can be driven against the minority. Further, as Lovin seems to note, teleological ethics seems to multiply our consumerism in that the objects are multiplied. However, I also note that Lovin notes the positive aspect of teleological ethics, “(T)he principle of community suggest that we should choose those goals that enrich the lives of other people and enable them to live good lives of their own (31).” Perhaps in a teleological ethics of that principle, one can focus on the more positive interests and put their fears at bay.
Virtue ethics are based on the individual and their agency. Unlike the previous two, it is more individualistic and seems to be more situational. On these virtues, Lovin writes, “Virtues are the admirable qualities of persons that emerge from an examination of their narratives and that shape their moral lives (63).” Further, Lovin notes Aristotle who believes that virtue can be learned (64) and then writes that the rules which the individuals have learned have become inseparable from their personas (65). The focus then is not on rules or goals, but on the person themselves, so that once the person is a well-defined virtuous being, they would be expected to take part fully in either a deontological or teleological society. These particular set of ethics deal with individuality morality, which Lovin is able to connect several times to the Christian narrative (for example, 67, in which Lovin connects the Sermon on the Mount as a set of virtues) and to theological virtues. As Augustine, Aquinas and Lovin have noted, the essential moral virtues can be categorized as: temperance, courage, prudence, and justice (68). Of course, the weakness here is that virtues differ from culture to culture, and from time to time, something Lovin notes as well (67). A strength, however, is that these set of ethics seem to be able to be cultivated.
The weakness of the various categories of ethics are easily seen. Deontological ethics doesn’t allow to the result to be factors into the decision making process. It begins with the morality of the action, taken in the abstract, and forces one to align their actions in the concrete with the rule. In teleological ethics, while a good result is the desired goal, it refuses to allow the goal to be easily defined. Happiness for the community may be seen differently by the individuals. Further, with no concrete goal, the need to constantly expand the concept of happiness appears, giving a consumerism view to the community. In virtue ethics, the individual is in view, with the determined goal to make him or her a moral creature; however, the weakness here is that virtue is defined by the time and place of the individual. The strengths then, reverse the trend of moving further away and rejoin the three categories.
In virtue ethics, the morality of the individual is cultivated to produce a rational and reasonable creature who fits into the teleos of the society at large. If gives individuality to the society, in that the individual is the building block of a society. The teleos can now be said to rest on group-morality rather than individualistic pursuits. The moral creature is, in society, given a collective goal and purpose beyond commodity production. It is, then, the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness which the society is centered on. Once the individual is cultivated to be moral, and the teleos is declared to be right, then the deontological rules developed will serve as a social contract which protects the individual while maintaining the pursuit of the society. A society cannot start with rules and build ethics, neither give itself a purpose which is then supposed to bring about ethics, and neither can an individual exist as moral without purpose and rules.
I close with Lovin’s final words, “So the moral life, instead of being a way to defend ourselves, becomes a way to love our neighbors and a way to love God as well.” The moral life, then, is made up of rules and purpose, but the individual’s response to morality, and for the Christian, the individual’s response to God’s morality.
 Philippa Foot, The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect in Virtues and Vices (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1978)
 I note in the Divine Command aspect, the example in 1st Samuel 16 should be ignored. In this passage God allows Samuel to break several rules to address the dangerous situation, which secured a better result over against the result which would have happened if Samuel had obeyed the rules.
 Scheffler, Samuel (Ed.) (1988). Consequentialism and Its Critics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
 I note the Patriot Act and Lovin’s words on 25, “We would not think we had achieved the good life if the price we had to pay for material security was the surrender of control over our future or the denial of beliefs and values we hold most dear.” Further, there is the value of individualism which is surrendered in our consumeristic society.
Among the many heinous sins for which this nation is grown infamous, perhaps there is no one more crying, but withal more common, than the abominable custom of profane swearing and cursing. Our streets abound with persons of all degrees and qualities, who are continually provoking the holy one of Israel to anger, by their detestable oaths and blasphemies: and our very children, “out of whose mouths,” the psalmist observes in his days, “was perfected praise,” are now grown remarkable for the quite opposite ill quality of cursing and swearing. This cannot but be a melancholy prospect, for every sincere and honest minister of Jesus Christ, to view his fellow-creatures in; and such as will put him on contriving some means to prevent the spreading at least of so growing an evil; knowing that the Lord (without repentance) will assuredly visit for these things. But alas! what can he do? Public animadversions are so neglected amongst us, that we seldom find a common swearer punished as the laws direct. And as for private admonition, men are now so hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, that to give them sober and pious advice, and to show them the evil of their doings, is but like “casting pearls before swine; they only turn again and rend you.” Since matters then are come to this pass, all that we can do is, that as we are appointed watchmen and ambassadors of the Lord, it our duty from time to time to show the people their transgression, and warn them of their sin; so that whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, we however may deliver our own souls. That I therefore may discharge my duty in this particular, give me leave, in the name of God, humbly to offer to your most serious consideration, some few observations on the words of the text, in order to show the heinousness of profane cursing and swearing.
Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered? Jeremiah 8:22
1. This question, as here proposed by the Prophet, relates only to a particular people, — the children of Israel. But I would here consider it in a general sense, with relation to all mankind. I would seriously inquire, Why has Christianity done so little good in the world? Is it not the balm, the outward means, which the great Physician has given to men, to restore their spiritual health? Why then is it not restored? You say, Because of the deep and universal corruption of human nature. Most true; but here is the very difficulty. Was it not intended, by our all-wise and almighty Creator, to be the remedy for that corruption? A universal remedy, for a universal evil? But it has not answered this intention it never did; it does not answer it at this day. The disease still remains in its full strength: Wickedness of every kind; vice, inward and outward, in all its forms, still overspreads the face of the earth.
But why is it that so little advantage is derived from it to the Christian world? Are Christians any better than other men? Are they better than Mahometans or Heathens? To say the truth, it is well if they are not worse; worse than either Mahometans or Heathens. In many respects they are abundantly worse; but then they are not properly Christians. The generality of these, though they hear the Christian name, do not know what Christianity is.
Now, whatever doctrine is preached, where there is not discipline, it cannot have its full effect upon the hearers.
To bring the matter closer still. Is not scriptural Christianity preached and generally known among the people commonly called Methodists? Impartial persons allow it is. And have they not Christian discipline too, in all the essential branches of it, regularly and constantly exercised? Let those who think any essential part of it is wanting, point it out, and it shall not be wanting long. Why then are not these altogether Christians, who have both Christian doctrine and Christian discipline? Why is not the spiritual health of the people called Methodists recovered?
Read the entire sermon. For Wesley, it is about Christian discipline and doctrine, which seemed to be found only in the Methodists… Surely he is not saying what I think he is saying…
Anyway, but what he is really saying is that many Christians, the world over, do not allow Christianity to work because while they bear the name, they are ignorant of anything actually Christian. I don’t know if he was correct then, but I contend that he is assuredly correct today. Medicine is only useful if you use it properly. Having it on the shelf will allow the sore to fester. To use it incorrectly may lead to something much worse.
Why? The church has become so enculturated that it is encouraging its members to worship the American flag. That was my experience today. We can celebrate those who “died for” our country, but not in Christ as saints (All Saints Day)?