Monday, November 13, 2006

“Nothing’s Changed”

Months ago the mantra “nothing’s changed” came from denominational leaders hoping to mitigate reaction to the final passage of the TTFPUP report. It was not said immediately following the vote, but sometime between the vote and going home, key denominational leaders designed this spin which has been uncritically repeated by denominational officials and those who support the PUP report.

Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick sent a letter to his counterpart in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church urging them not to receive us until the lawsuit was settled and we had gone through “the process.” As a part of that letter he added,

“As you are undoubtedly aware, our recent 217th General Assembly adopted an Authoritative Interpretation (AI) of our Constitution that clarified our historic ordination standards and the processes by which they are applied and by whom. Sadly, a number of advocacy groups have characterized this statement as somehow creating a fundamental change in our standards. My office has been working hard to assure the Church that such characterizations are inaccurate.”
Up until the moment of the vote, everyone involved understood that the AI was an escape clause for candidates who did not want to be limited by the PCUSA constitution’s G-6.0106b, which clearly states that no candidate can be approved for ordination if he or she is unrepentantly practicing what the Bible and Confessions call sin. The AI now allows presbyteries and sessions to consider that such a sins may not be “essential” to our corporate faith and, therefore, the candidate may be approved of.

Jack Haberer, a member of the Task Force and now editor of the Presbyterian Outlook writes,
Yet another cause of confusion comes from the various ways people answer the simple question, “Does the TTF report change anything?” We TTF members have argued that we were not inventing any thing new. At most, we suggested, it was simply dusting off and bringing back into practice a step in the ordination process that had gone out of fashion. However, many readers of the TTF report have argued that the report was cutting a loophole that individuals and ordaining bodies could exploit.
Jack Haberer, Presbyterian Outlook, November 13, 2006
Haberer at least admits that the Authoritative Interpretation did something different. He hangs his hat, though, on the peg of history. At the very birth of our denomination in the USA, pastors were allowed to declare scruples (disagreements) with the Westminster Confession.

Such scruples were allowed on many issues where Christians had disagreed. A good example of such would be the way in which the Sabbath is kept. For some Presbyterian Christians it was an all-out ban on work or entertainment on the Sabbath (some extended this to the night before, or even the day after). Others simply saw Sabbath as a time of rest, without detailed descriptions of what could or couldn’t be done.

Would those Presbyterians back in 1729 have allowed for scruples which opposed clear Scriptures which had been universally accepted up until that time? Would they see that offending the following could be scrupled?
  • For an elder must be a man whose life cannot be spoken against. He must be faithful to his wife. (1 Timothy 3:2)
  • Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. (Ephesians 5:3)
  • “Do not practice homosexuality; it is a detestable sin. (Leviticus 18:22
If you still think that nothing’s changed, consider the actions of one of the members of the Task Force, Scott D. Anderson.
John Knox Presbytery's Committee on Preparation for Ministry has unanimously recommended that the presbytery enroll Scott D. Anderson, the only openly homosexual member of the Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity, as an inquirer on track for ordination as a minister of Word and Sacrament.
Anderson believes the 2006 General Assembly's approval of the PUP report and authoritative interpretation on ordaining practicing homosexuals opens the door for consideration of his request to be re-ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

In 1999, Anderson spoke at the denomination's "unity in diversity" conference in Atlanta, describing his coming out as "a self-affirming gay Christian" as the theological equivalent of "justification" and his "same-sex bonding" as the equivalent of "sanctification." The Layman Online
There you have it in full. One of the members of the task force who wrote the PUP clearly understands that it “opens the door” for someone unrepentantly practicing what the Bible and Confessions call sin. How anyone can argue “nothing’s changed” after this confounds me.

The TTFPUP had a purpose, to propose change to the PCUSA in terms of whom it will ordain. In one way the standards have not changed, since they’ve not been removed from the Constitution. But what good do they serve in the Constitution if they can be creatively ignored?

Another writer to the Presbyterian Outlook (who approves of the AI) has, unintentionally I believe, prophesied what will come of the PCUSA because of this.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has lost members annually since my ordination in 1983, and the reasons for this dieback have been laid at various doors. Repeated attempts to restructure, to move together in any particular direction, and to control one another have left the decline undisturbed. The formula offered by the task force and endorsed by General Assembly involves no new structures, but it does open the door to chaos, i.e. congregations and presbyteries having some leeway in ordination processes. This chaos is very good, in my opinion….Margaret Wheatley speaks to our situation:

Chaos’ role in the emergence of new order is so well known that it seems strange that Western culture has denied its part so vehemently. In the dream of dominion over nature, we believed we could eliminate chaos from life. We believed there were straight lines to the top. If we set a goal or claimed a vision, we would get there, never looking back, never forced to descend into confusion or despair. These beliefs led us far from life, far from the processes by which newness is created. And it is only now, as modern life grows ever more turbulent and control slips away, that we are willing again to contemplate chaos (see Hayles 1990). Whether we explore its dynamics through new science or ancient myths, the lesson is important. The destruction created by chaos is necessary for the creation of anything new.

I am about to do a new thing, God says to the PC(USA). Now it springs forth, do you perceive it? Isaiah 43:19, NRSV. Opting for a measure of chaos in ordination practices allows the strange attractor of God’s Spirit to bring new patterns to our corporate life together. I believe that this chaos will prove ultimately far more life giving than we have experienced for quite some time, denominationally speaking.
“Loving Chaos,” Sam Massey, Pres Outlook
Chaos is what will ensue. When you believe nothing, you’ll believe everything. This is why mainline denominations are rife with incredible heresies like neo-paganism, universalism, and goddess-worship. The Bible never describes chaos as good. It is the conversion of chaos into creation that was good. For those who argue that the chaos the PUP has sent the PCUSA into is good, I would remind them that it is God alone who worked creation out of chaos. Unless the PCUSA returns to the Lord and to the Word, their chaos will be only frightening and destructive.

Keep praying—keep the faith,
Tom

35 comments:

Cameron Mott said...

Which "mainline denominations are rife with incredible heresies like neo-paganism, universalism, and goddess-worship"?

TomGray said...

Cameron,
The Re-Imagining conference in 1993 demonstrated that these heresies were rife in the PCUSA, UMC, ELCA and the UCC. I listened to over 40 hours of tapes from that conference and was shocked at what I heard.

The Episcopalian Church has had to deal with priests who have openly encouraged neo-paganism, with worship of winds, solstices, etc.

Universalism is perhaps the most common heresy. If you only casually read women's Bible studies promoted by these denominations you'll recognize its presence, along with some of the above.
Tom

Ritchie said...

Tom,

Most of us in the denomination have more important things to do than to worry about yesterday’s fringe theology experiments. It does not make us heretics or neo-pagans. History is full of forgotten theologies. Why do you keep trying to keep these alive? Frankly, to be perfectly blunt, your indiscriminate name-calling is insulting a broad swath of otherwise faithful disciples of Jesus. It is conduct unbecoming of a man of the cloth and it is embarrassing.

(In any case, the scriptures themselves tell us that Jesus is the Sophia of God.)

You are however quite correct that there are serious moral failings in the Church and in our country. I find the issues you bring up to be of childish importance compared to some of them. Not the least of which you have to include the military invasion and destruction of a sovereign state on false premises. Don’t tell me you Evangelicals had nothing to do with it. You were all positively giddy at electing one of your own to the White House. What are you going to say on judgment day? “Sorry Lord, but hey, at least we stood up to the ordination of homosexuals? You got to give us at least partial credit?” What do you suppose his answer will be?

This tree you are barking up is a fruitless tree.

Ritchie

Cameron Mott said...

I don't condone any of the activities you site but I have to question whether any, or even all together, are "rife" in any of those denominations.

I'm not qualified to speak to your last two points but as bad as Re-Imagining was it only had an attendance of about 2000 from 15 denominations. The 400 attendees from the PCUSA amount to less than 2 hundredths of a percent of our denomination and that is assuming they were all supportive of heresy just because they happened to be there or that the activities were condoned by or representative of the denominations.

Pamela Cook said...

I have a very good friend of mine that is a part of the UMC. Not only is he a part of that denomination. His father just retired from being a pastor after 40-50 years in ministry. Over those years my friend and his parents have gotten to know many people in the higher eschelons of the denomination. We have discussed the issues that the UMC is facing. He would concur that everything Pastor Tom mentioned about the heresies in the UMC is true. I will concur them as well for the UMC. All one has to do is check out their web site like I did. I spent hours looking at the site because I care so much for my friend, who is a strong Bible believing Christian. I was concerned for my friend because at the time he was not talking about leaving the denomination even though they are preaching garbage and have the nerve to debate whether to ordain unrepentant sinners. I'm grateful to say that in the past week my friend told me he was praying about leaving the UMC. His hope in staying was to see the denomination turn back to God. Unfortunately they have gone the other way.

The Bible says in 1 Cor 15:33 that bad company corrupts good morals. We have seen this time and time again in denominations, independent churches (Carlton Pearson from Higher Dimensions is my former pastor), friendships, etc. In 1 Cor 5 Paul dealt with a situation where a man was having an illicit sexual relationship with his stepmother. He was upset that the church leaders had not dealt with the situation but were proud of the fact this was happening in their midst. He told them that if someone calls themselves a brother but gets drunk, is sexually immoral, greedy and a few other things that you are not even supposed to eat with them. At the end of the chapter he told them to judge those followers of Christ that were in sin. The last verse says to remove that man from among them.

The Bible is clear on how these situations are to be handled. The church leadership is not to debate the issue. They are to remove from their midst people that are not living right. I'm sure the context of this is those that are in sin and justify their actions. People struggling with sin probably do not fit in this category. It is obvious that the man felt it was alright to be with his stepmother. It is also obvious that the leadership was happy about it. Because the church leadership in these denominations and church organizations did not use the word as their guide these groups have been corrupted and infiltrated by those that are influenced by satan.

The bottom line is this. Are these 'Christian' groups using the Bible as their guide or not? If not they are not Christian but just religious. I'm stating the groups are not Christian, not the people. Many people that are a part of all these groups are dedicated Christians. It is clear that the UCC, PCUSA and the UMC are not using the word as their guide. Until they do those that know the word need to leave them as fast as they can without regard for what they will suffer. They feel that they are obeying the word by showing 'love' like in 1 Cor 13. People love to quote Paul there but refuse to deal with 1 Cor 5 and other examples of loving correction. You will quickly see how much 'love' is shown if a group goes against the denomination and or their so-called sacred documents. This is the spirit of religion at work, the biggest enemy to Christianity there is.

Ted Rossier said...

Ritchie,

You've got some pretty serious guts to come here and accuse Tom of name-calling, and then turn right around and do the same thing.

I think you need to be careful to distinguish between the denomination and its individual members. I agree with you that the vast majority of members of the PCUSA, UMC, and ELCA probably would characterize themselves as Bible-believing Christians (even if they are not sure what that means, exactly). I leave out the UCC because I'm not certain that it's even a Christian denomination anymore (it's closer to Unitarinanism). The problem is, the members are ignoring, either through apathy or misled priorities, the actions of the denominational leadership.

As Pamela so eloquently put it, the issue is not the small number of people practicing paganism, it is the fact that the denomination should be disciplining and/or excommunicating those people, and it is not doing so. In this way, they are tacitly encouraging heresy.

Also, I would like you to point out where in the Scriptures that Christ is described as the "Sophia" of God, what translation you are using, and what you think the passage actually means.

Ted

liberty4u said...

I find Ritchie's comments disturbing. Here is what I found in Wikipedia:

The Sophia of Jesus Christ is one of many Gnostic tractates from the Nag Hammadi codices, discovered in Egypt in 1945. The title is somewhat coded, since although Sophia is Greek for wisdom, in a gnostic context, Sophia is the syzygy of Christ.

The Coptic manuscript itself has been dated to the 4th century, however, it is complemented by a few fragments in Greek dating from the 3rd century, implying an earlier date. The text has strong similarities to the Epistle of Eugnostos, which is also found in the Nag Hammadi codices, but with a Christian framing added, and expanding it somewhat.

Was ritchie's post a sarcastic joke? If it is serious, it is a haunting irony that I find quite disturbing.

Larry said...

It was but a couple of years ago at the 2004th GA, that the newly elected vice-moderator gave high-fives to those gathered at the Voices of Sophia Breakfast.

What is noteworthy is our national leaders neither ignoring or condemning fringe groups like Voices of Sophia, but instead giving them encouragement.

Arthur Woodling said...

Ted,

You said:

"Also, I would like you to point out where in the Scriptures that Christ is described as the "Sophia" of God,"...

IOW: Wisdom of God

Try 1 Corinthians 1:24 in any Greek translation.

Arthur

Dan Dermyer said...

Arthur
I thought of that verse in 1 Cor 1 when I read the comment, but to equate the widsom of God with the goddess sophia is a more than a bit disingenuous.

Sure it is the same word, and maybe that was Ritchie's point. But even if it was, it's a very lame connection.

Technically--well the word is spelled the same way so yes it is. But reality--no way!
grace,

Cameron Mott said...

I think people who accuse whole denominations of heresy based on the acts of a very, very, very few who may or may not be part of those denominations and may or may not have condoned alleged heresy or who accuse political subgroups of serious moral failing might want to worry about breaking the commandment against bearing false witness with the stones they are casting. But that's just me.

TomGray said...

All,
To say that Jesus is the "sophia" of God is a direct parallel to saying that Jesus is the "ben" of God.

Some try to say that sophia and Jesus are synonymous, ostensibly to add a female "side" to Jesus. This is a naive understanding of language. The Hebrew and Greek words for "wisdom" are each feminine. That does not imply that Jesus is female/male any more than a language using a female ending (inflection) for "table" means that tables are female.
Tom

Anonymous said...

"Nothing New?"

IF Sophia is "Jesus Christ" why not just say "Jesus Christ".

IF Sophia is something different, then something has changed.

Ford Brett

Arthur Woodling said...

Tom,

You said:

"To say that Jesus is the "sophia" of God is a direct parallel to saying that Jesus is the "ben" of God."

Maybe I'm just being dense, but I don't see how this makes any sense. Was someone here really trying to make a comment on Jesus' gender? I'm not sure why Ritchie mentioned it in the first place (he has been known to pick fights), but it certainly looked to me like both Ted and You picked up the ball and ran the wrong way with it.

Arthur

John West said...

Cam should be personally aware that a pastor of a UMC church very near to his community published and mailed to each of his members a letter encouraging them to vote against an amendment outlining marriage as between a man and a woman which has resulted in a deep rift in that church and the attendance of several at Cam's own Church. The ABC in their biennial convention of 2005 voted to allow individual Churches to join whatever area they wanted to even though they were not in that area so that a few Churches seeking homosexual and same sex marriage could find an area that endorsed their stance. Additionally the "rainbow choir" was an active hallway participant in that convention. To me these are graphic examples of incredible heresies. John West, Hillsdale Ks.

Ritchie said...

Tom,

Yes, Jesus is the Wisdom of God.

“Wisdom shouts in the street,
She lifts her voice in the square;
At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:

…Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.”

Ted Rossier, I checked and no, I did not call anyone any names. I think maybe you are just trying to ignore the morality questions Tom has awakened. It’s OK to torture someone if they might be a terrorist, so long as you don’t ordain a gay pastor. It is OK to mistreat the alien in our midst, so long as you don’t question the doctrine of the Trinity. Evangelicalism’s final legacy is a morality that condemns same gender sex and marriage but condones torture and supports militarism. Or maybe it is just apathy and mislead priorities? I agree with Tom; something has changed.

“I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your dread comes,”

Which is it going to be, poured out spirit or mocked calamity?

Ritchie

Arthur Woodling said...

John,

You said:

"The ABC in their biennial convention of 2005 voted to allow individual Churches to join whatever area they wanted to even though they were not in that area so that a few Churches seeking homosexual and same sex marriage could find an area that endorsed their stance."

Isn't this really the same idea as the 2-Synod model many conservatives in the PCUSA are advocating?

Isn't this also really the same thing the Kirk, "The Layman", the NWAC, and others like them are advocating when they talk about leaving the PCUSA so they can form groups of the like-minded?

What do I know, I'm just one of those Stay-Fight-Win guys who actually believes in unity (sorry Ted, but my views are most assuredly NOT "Post-Modern").

I have faith that God's will prevails and that heresies come and go like the tides.

Arthur

TomGray said...

Ritchie,
Your quote is from Proverbs where wisdom is personified as a poetic device.

I have no problem with describing Jesus as the “wisdom” of God. The problem, beginning in 1993 and still active today in feminist circles, is that the name Jesus is put second (or even dropped entirely) with prayers and praise addressed directly to “Sophia” because that is understood to be a goddess.

As to the numbers of people participating in such neo-paganism, I would point out that the Sophia movement had its origins among national denominational staff (predominantly Presbyterian) and no denomination took action against what was being done and said (and still is being done and said). Mary Ann Lundy, a Presbyterian national staff person, was dismissed in the aftermath of the Re-Imagining conference. However, women’s groups in mainline denominations continue to invited the conference speakers and use their writings as a basis of their ministries.

I have to comment on your attitude—it is way out of line. No one here is promoting or condoning torture. I have no idea where you get that from. Calm down.

Tom

Cameron Mott said...

Brother John,

I wasn't really aware of that but still does that not leave the vast majority of both UMC and PCUSA and other major denominations as non-heretics? If the UMC and PCUSA and other major denominations are rife with anything it is non-heretics I would say and to cast the prevalent [as in "rife"]memberships as heretics strikes me a bearing false witness against millions of faithful Christians. Just my opinion.

See you Sunday.

liberty4u said...

Cameron Mott wrote:

I would say and to cast the prevalent [as in "rife"]memberships as heretics strikes me a bearing false witness against millions of faithful Christians.

Looking up the word "rife" I came upon the sample sentence: "The garden was rife with weeds". If you look at this sentence, it says nothing derogatory about the garden or desired plants in this garden. If this definition is applied back to the original sentence, no insult is meant to the millions of faithful Christians in the denomination.

Earl said...

Tom,

I think you guys are being pretty hard on Ritchie. He clearly didn’t make any claims that anyone was promoting or condoning torture. I wonder how you picture (or hear) him when you read his words. It certainly didn’t seem to me that he needed to calm down. In fact it looks to me like it was his opponents who needed to calm down.

All he had to do was mention the word “Sophia” and all y’all went totally nuts. You read the worst into everything you see. The result is that you proved his point that you argue over childishly unimportant issues. The Sophia issue is such a hot button issue with you guys that you completely missed his message.

Earl

TomGray said...

Earl,
I was mistaken and owe Cameron an apology. It is Ritchie that needs to calm down (he's the one with the torture statement). I find it hard to keep names and responses together as I scroll through the comments.

The sophia issue is a critical one for the church. It relates also to the controversy over the naming of the Trinity. How we speak of God determines how we think of God. This is why I and other conservatives believe that we should hold fast to the Scriptural revelation.

Changing "Jesus" to "Sophia" is a change for gender's sake. It also trades the reality of history for the fuzziness of philosophy.

Thanks for the heads-up.
Tom

Ritchie said...

Tom,

You are confused indeed. Earl’s comments were spot on. If you think I have an “attitude” and have no idea where I get it, then let me explain.

You have made it very clear that you are deeply concerned about morality. You cannot witness immorality without standing up against it, forcefully and courageously. You have called us apostates and idolaters by the hundreds of thousands for not standing with you against the “immorality” of the PCUSA. You have gone so far as to remove yourself from its jurisdiction and leading your own congregation out of the denomination at the considerable risk of loosing your church property. Proudly, with your head held high.

Take those black and white pictures that show two objects as an example. The kind where the black forms a pair of faces and the white space between them forms a chalice.

In the black of the picture, you show us your stand against sexual immorality and the PCUSA, and if I understand you correctly, it is not because it is sexual but because it is immoral and unscriptural.

In the white of the picture, you show us your silence against other issues that confront us all, problems most of us think are much more serious and unsettling. Because you stand so forcefully against immorality, you are strongly suggesting there is nothing immoral or unscriptural about torture or invading other countries or economic oppression or the abuse of the foreigners in our midst. If they were immoral, you would have taken a stand against them as openly and plainly as you have against homosexuality and feminist experiments in theological re-imagining. It is who you are. You have made that perfectly clear.

The message is impossible to ignore. We all get it. God cares about sex but not about torture. God cares about stopping feminist theologians but not about unjust war. Let’s make more starving widows and orphans. It’s OK so long as we believe in the doctrine of the Trinity.

That will be your legacy and the legacy of Evangelicalism in America. That is what has really changed. I am calm with it if you are.

Ritchie

Ted Rossier said...

Hey Ritchie,

You must live on a farm. That's the only way you'd have enough hay to construct all the straw men you have set up.

You are like the woman at the well in John 4 who, when confronted with her adultery, changed the subject and asked about worship style.

You are completely missing the point of the Kirk's actions. Note that I did not say "Tom and Wayne's actions" because the congregation voted, don't forget. Pointing out heresy and apostasy in the church is totally different that pointing out the immorality of the unbelieving world. When you speak of torture, mistreatment of aliens, unjust war, etc., you are speaking about actions that our government is taking. This has nothing to do with heresy in the PCUSA.

Just because any of us do not address larger societal issues in the context of church polity doesn't mean we do not care about them. Those issues are simply not relevant to our current discussion.

But, if you must know, I personally oppose torture but I have no problem with effective interrogation techniques; we should not mistreat illegal aliens but certainly we should not just let them stay in the country; and the issues surrounding Iraq are far too complex to be discussed in a blog comment.

Ted

Arthur Woodling said...

Liberty4u,

Maybe you think it's only a statement about the weeds, but when I look at Webster's definition of "rife" I'm left with a very different impression.

rife
Pronunciation: 'rIf
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English ryfe, from Old English ryfe; akin to Old Norse rIfr abundant
1 : prevalent especially to an increasing degree
2 : ABUNDANT, COMMON
3 : copiously supplied : ABOUNDING -- usually


So when Tom said:

"This is why mainline denominations are rife with incredible heresies like neo-paganism, universalism, and goddess-worship."

I'm left with the impression he thinks these are the prevailing views. I, like Ritchie, find statements like those to be “insulting a broad swath of otherwise faithful disciples of Jesus.” Those heretical groups do exist, but the denominations are certainly not “rife” with them.

I know from my own experiences with the PCUSA that these views aren't prevalent or abundant or common or copiously supplied. Although I was aware of The Voices of Sophia and other heretical groups within the PCUSA, my wife, who is more active in the church (doing the Lord’s work) than I am, and far more progressive than I am didn't even know who the Voices of Sophia are or that Sophia was some sort of goddess. I would dare say that this level of awareness and understanding of the heretical fringe groups is what prevails within our rather large conservative congregation, and also in every PCUSA church I’ve ever attended. In other words, they don’t seem to be getting in the way of our doing the Lord’s work.

I guess if that’s what you pay attention to, that’s what you see.

So maybe Ritchie ought to calm down a bit, but Tom and others on his side ought to tone it down too. I don’t think he (Tom) realizes just how insulting and out of line he really has been on this blog (in his writings and his administration). It’s a matter of perspective.

Arthur

Ted Rossier said...

Should we maybe discuss whether Jesus was "tolerant" of heresy and apostasy? Let's see...

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

-Matthew 23:27-28

I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come.

--Revelation 2:19-25

Arthur, argue for staying in the PCUSA by all means. But if you do, don't stick your head in the sand and pretend the heresy isn't there. Stand and fight it. Our Lord thinks it's important. That's a clue that you should, too.

Ted

Arthur said...

Ted,

Are you trying to imply that I've got my head stuck in the sand and am pretending heresy isn't there?

Do you actually believe that I don't stand and fight heresy when I see it?

Have you actually read what I've written?

It would be fine with me if you would make those statements to the general audience, but if you are making them to me specifically, then I am rightly offended.

Do you think you could be a little less condescending in your tone?

Please spend more time trying to understand those you are so quick to criticize.

Arthur

TomGray said...

Ritchie,
I fight the battles before me. Of course, I believe torture to be immoral. I hear your concern for the handling of Iraq. But, to take your point further, why aren't you commenting about what is happening in Darfur?

Our congregation focuses on more than denominational heresy. We are actively involved--and deeply financially committed--to fighting poverty and hunger. We support and send medical teams all over the world. We are planning a special emphasis this winter to train our mission travelers to spot slave trade and children's abuse so that it can be reported to the US State Department.

Even with such involvement we barely scratch the surface of moral problems in the world. Please don't criticize us for not sharing the concerns you have at the same level.
Tom

Ted Rossier said...

Arthur,

Yes, I do read what you have written. As for my "tone", it's impossible to discern "tone" of voice on a blog. It's one of the limitations of this forum. I assure you no condescension is intended or contemplated. These days, it seems, anytime anyone says someone else is wrong about something, they are called condescending and "unloving". That's ridiculous.

As I said, I do read what you write. And when you make statements to the effect that you are not certain that homosexuality is a sin, then yes, I question your ability to discern heresy and stand up against it.

Ted

Ted Rossier said...

And to the general audience,

As far as "understanding" those I disagree with, I and many others understand liberalism perfectly well, and when we see it, we speak out. You must understand that we see it as a cancer in the church of our Lord that we love, and it grieves us to see Biblical authority simply ignored. If I seem emotional at times, then mea culpa. I believe that the Christian worldview demands adherence to Biblical standards in all areas of life.

It's never my intention to do anything other than speak the truth in love. Sadly, due to the continuing nature of the flesh, I do it imperfectly. That is what I hope that you all understand.

Ted

Arthur said...

Ted,

Be careful. You said:

"As I said, I do read what you write. And when you make statements to the effect that you are not certain that homosexuality is a sin, then yes, I question your ability to discern heresy and stand up against it."

That is not an accurate representation of what I said, and it could leave the wrong impression. As you may recall, I questioned your understanding of my point of view, and you never did seem to quite get it. Also, you know very little about my abilities.

In my opinion, the Bible is absolutely clear in some verses that certain same-sex acts in certain contexts are absolutely sin. I’m sure of your willingness to show us those verses as well as the others. I’m also sure you are aware that the Greek and Hebrew texts have been translated differently over the ages concerning those verses. Martin Luther himself seems to have a difference of opinion with you, on the Pauline verses, based on his translations.

As far as the rest of all possible same-sex acts are concerned, we must turn to the Bible as a whole to find the answer. In doing so, we must (in my opinion) consider The Law: To whom it was given, to whom it now applies, to what extent, and whether or not adherence to it is a requisite for everyone for their salvation. Also, concerning Paul’s letters, in order to understand him, we must (in my opinion) understand whom exactly (the “Strong”, the “Weak”, Jews, Gentiles, etc) he was writing to. You may think this is an easy task, but I certainly don’t. The mere fact that we (conservatives as well as liberals) now ignore many parts of The Law makes the task even more difficult. The fact that serious Biblical Scholars can’t agree makes it so much more so.

Things would be so much easier for me (in my own mind) if I had as much faith in my faith as you have in yours. The problem is, it’s not our faith that we are to have faith in it’s the Lord.

If you believe any of this is heresy, so be it in your mind.

Arthur

Ted Rossier said...

If you believe any of this is heresy, so be it in your mind.

Oh really?

Marriage is an earthly type and shadow of the relationship between Christ and His church. The church is the Bride of Christ. NOT the "second groom".

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”

-1 Cor. 6:15-16

Any alteration or adulteration of the marriage relationship is equal to joining the body of Christ to a harlot. In other words, blasphemy.

It's not my mind you need to be concerned about. It's Christ's.

And I positively defy you to show me any way in which the male anatomy is designed to accommodate the body parts of another male! Because that is what we are talking about. You can dress it up any way you want to, you can call it whatever you want, but at the end of the day, it's still called "sodomy" for a reason.

The only thing you are accomplishing by even questioning or debating the issue is potentially leading people astray. Putting a gilt edge around sin so it looks pretty and enticing, in the name of "love". I don't have to quote Scripture to you on that score. You already know what God thinks of such things.

Ted

ritchie said...

Tom,

Ted is eloquently proving my point, that because your only concern for morality is sexual, the church thinks so too. He is reading his bible upside down. Paul used first century marriage customs and sexuality in present day Turkey as a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the Church. Ted presents it as if it were the other way around. Christ and the Church a metaphor for marriage and sexuality. Wrong!

What do first century marriage and sexuality in what is present day Turkey have to do with American 21st Century marriage and sexuality? Answer: virtually nothing.

But by your example he dares even use the charge of blasphemy. Your church members don’t seem to have a clue what morality is and how to apply it.

You should be examining instead whether your church members really are entitled as Ted says, to claim immunity from the morality of a government that is by the people, for the people and of the people. The church’s elected public servants are asking you whether their actions meet your standards of morality, because the blood on their hands is spilt in your name. They ask every time they write a law or run for office. Your answer seems to be, “so long as their sex life is in order, yep, it’s all OK”. They asked “is it Ok to invade and destroy a Muslim nation for you?” and you by omission and maybe even overtly said it was. “So long as we also fund missionaries to convert them. Not OK to ordain homosexuals though, that’s is where we draw the line”.

I don’t get why you think you are so confronted with the sexual immorality of the few, but not the collective political, economic and blood-guilty immorality of the many, of which you hold the office of “teacher.”

On the outside Evangelicalism looks pure and holy, adorned with crosses and flowers and beautiful hymns of praise and big pretty church buildings. But as Jesus pointed out, that is the very definition of living in a white washed tomb.

Ritchie

TomGray said...

Ritchie,
I really don't understand your thinking. Why on earth do you assume that the Kirk people approve of torture or the shedding of blood? It seems that you have an extremely narrow view of evangelicals and little knowledge of us.

The subject of this blog focuses on sexual morality because the PCUSA is fixed on redefining it. Certainly there is more to morality than this. But what we believe about our most intimate lives has great bearing on the rest of our morality.

You seem to be confused about the nature of Scripture. It is not about the first century, nor is it about Turkey. Scripture is the revealed Word of God. It is timeless and without geographical boundaries. If you are among those who don't believe Scripture is this, then your faith is progressive, not orthodox. It is something completely different than what we believe. This may be the reason for the disconnect.

Please take care not to label people without knowing them. My blog is not there to label you or anyone else. It is there to state what I believe.
Tom

Cameron Mott said...

"Please take care not to label people without knowing them."

That's good advice for all of us whether we are talking about individuals, religious or political groupings, denominations, Presbyterys, Synods, GAs, PJCs, GACs......