Monday, July 18, 2005

United Methodists Continue to Stray

As a former member of the United Methodist Church, it troubles me to see how the church continues to stray from the teachings from the Word of God. The most recent example is the denomination's decision to allow a group that advocates stances that go against basic church teachings, including its definition of marriage, to use its Southeastern Jurisdiction conference and retreat center for an event in early September.

An article from Agape Press reports: . . .

The Labor Day weekend conference at Lake Junaluska in North Carolina will focus on how to lobby to overturn the church's teachings on marriage and sex, and lobby for the acceptance of same-sex "marriage" and practicing homosexual clergy. Called "Hearts of Fire," the conference is being organized by the pro-homosexual Methodist group Reconciling Congregations. According to that group's website, one forum will "explore the development of transgender and gender queer spirituality" as well as the "sources of gendering." Participants are encouraged to "come with a robust interest in all things gender, whether or not they themselves are gender non-normative."

. . . Among the seven liberal bishops scheduled to speak at the event is Joe Sprague of Illinois, who has publicly denied the virgin birth, blood atonement, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Also expected to speak is Beth Stroud, an openly lesbian Methodist minister from Philadelphia who was recently defrocked. Musical entertainment on the last evening of the four-day rally is to be provided by Jason & deMarco, two "spirit pop artists" who were featured in a July 2004 homosexual magazine article entitled "Singing for God and Gays."

According to the article, Mark Tooley, who heads the United Methodist Action program at the Institute on Religion and Democracy, is urging United Methodists, especially those in the Southeast, to express their displeasure with the retreat and conference center. Here's a link to Lake Junaluska's contact information.

45 Comments:

At Monday, July 18, 2005 10:41:00 PM, Blogger Roch101 said...

Just sent a messageg in support of the conference. Thanks for the link.

 
At Tuesday, July 19, 2005 12:21:00 AM, Blogger Mickey McLean said...

I am assuming, Roch, that by offering them your support, you are a member in good standing of a United Methodist congregation and are against such things as the church's teachings on marriage, the virgin birth, blood atonement and the resurrection of Jesus, and believe it should all be thrown out the window in favor of what our culture demands. If so, your voice should be heard in this matter.

Since I am no longer a member of the United Methodist Church and do not support the church or Lake Junaluska with my tithes and offerings, I don't feel like it's my place to contact them, and I haven't. All I can do is inform those who are still involved with the church (many of whom are family and friends who read this blog) and let them act as they feel led.

 
At Tuesday, July 19, 2005 6:41:00 AM, Anonymous Alex Samuels said...

I am certain that John and Charles Wesley are turning over in their graves. Any practicing Methodist is now faced with the moral obligation of determining at what point the Methodist Church is no longer a Christian Church if it continues down this path.

 
At Tuesday, July 19, 2005 1:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Satan has certainly infiltrated the United Methodist church to the point that he now dictates policy. This is absolutley sick.

As I see it, Alex, there is no decision to be made here. I'm sure many in the congregation will make the right one and get the heck out of there.

the Heckler

 
At Tuesday, July 19, 2005 4:13:00 PM, Anonymous Woody Cavenaugh said...

Anyone who dictates policy is an agent of Satan. It doesn't matter what policy they are dictating.

I am sad that there is no one left who lives as the bible teaches. Many try, but the best anyone can do is graze at the vast salad bar that is christianity. No one living could ever do so. So instead of trying to better themselves, they throw stones at everyone different from themselves.

 
At Tuesday, July 19, 2005 5:23:00 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

Woody,

If you are at a salad bar you can pick and choose what you want. There is no such option in Biblical Christianity. Christians are called to obey all of God's Word as written in the Bible.

 
At Tuesday, July 19, 2005 6:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anyone who dictates policy is an agent of Satan." -Woody

hmmm,....uh.....hmmm.....wow

Woody, make sure that next time you go to the salad bar that it has a sneeze guard on it. You just may have gotten into something.

the Heckler

 
At Tuesday, July 19, 2005 7:18:00 PM, Blogger Laurie said...

Great idea, Roch! I just sent one also, and will ask my Christian friends to do so as well.

Shame on you, Rev. McLean. I can't imagine why you, as an ex-Methodist, care that other Methodists want to reach out and help our gay friends and family.

 
At Tuesday, July 19, 2005 7:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laurie,

You can love the sinner without promoting the sin.

the Heckler

 
At Tuesday, July 19, 2005 7:31:00 PM, Blogger Roch101 said...

"Christians are called to obey all of God's Word as written in the Bible."

The only problem with this is that the people who find something in the Bible with which to condemn other people are ignoring some other Biblical instruction.

Take this very topic as an example, how many of those who rail against homosexuality are themselves violating the other tenants of Leviticus?

 
At Tuesday, July 19, 2005 8:27:00 PM, Blogger the Heckler said...

Or better yet, how many of you are sinners trying to change the law so that your sin is no longer considered a sin?

 
At Tuesday, July 19, 2005 8:42:00 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

roch101,

If I were not a sinner, I would not need to be a Christian. The difference between my sins and the sin of practicing homosexuality is a repentant heart and God's forgiveness. Their sins are no greater than my own. But the project that you support doesn't encourage repentance and reconciliation with God. It encourages the church to compromise with sin and blaspheme God.

 
At Tuesday, July 19, 2005 9:46:00 PM, Blogger Roch101 said...

"Or better yet, how many of you are sinners trying to change the law so that your sin is no longer considered a sin?"

The law defines sin?

 
At Tuesday, July 19, 2005 9:49:00 PM, Blogger Roch101 said...

Alex,

Churches "compromise with sin" constantly. You just happen to object to this particular compromise while, I suspect, having no problemn with the accomodation of other sins.

 
At Tuesday, July 19, 2005 10:43:00 PM, Blogger the Heckler said...

Pardon me Roch, GOD's law.

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 12:23:00 AM, Anonymous Joel Gillespie said...

To all,

This seems like a previous argument on this blog. I'd to quote from that but that would seen like cheating. Once again, any group or person is free (it is a free country) to use the name "Christian.” It is not a copyrighted word. But, Roch, It is simply not historically viable or credible for those who would support homosexuality, homosexual union, or homosexual ordination to use the word " Christian" as a tag or descriptive for their religion or worldview or philosophy. And it displays simply naiveté to suggest that it is outside of the teaching and spirit of Christ to oppose such things, anymore than it is outside of the spirit of Christ and Paul and the early church to oppose lying and adultery.. I am not comfortable with how homosexuals and homosexuality are often opposed, and my homosexual neighbor is still my neighbor whom I am to lover as myself, yet, it is not just Leviticus that speaks to the issue. Plus, the sad truth is, every group of professed that supports homosexual union without fail have rejected huge swaths of the body of historic orthodox Christian faith – usually minor things like the Trinity, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, the physical resurrection of Jesus, the virgin birth, miracles, the historic validity of the post resurrection appearances, the bodily return of Jesus, Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, etc. Indeed, they have made up a new religion no longer recognizable as the religion of Genesis to Revelation, of Jesus, Paul and the early church. They have done this by remaking the Scriptures in their own image. Not everyone has equal claim on the connection with Jesus. It sounds as if the only Christina “virtue” being extolled is unqualified acceptance of people as they are. That is not the message of Jesus nor the message of the Apostles.

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 1:17:00 AM, Blogger Roch101 said...

Gentlemen (and ladies, if any are here), here's the huge logic hurdle that none of your empassioned arguments surmount in my mind: homosexuality occupies a miniscule portion of the teachings of the Bible (and none of the teachings from Christ), yet it is elevated to this special status which some would have as a mortal sin and/or its acceptance as a reason for not being "real" Christians.

And YET, and here's the big yet that doesn't get addressed to my satisfaction (here or anywhere else), other "sins" that get as much or more ink in the Bible are accepted. Yes, I'm talking about eating shelfish and cheeseburgers, cutting your sideburns, wearing polyester blends, getting divorced and remarried -- all of these things are right there along with "guys, don't lie with guys."

Now, why is it that some people obsess on homsexuality and not remarriage or jogging suits? Other than people's personal prejudices, where is the Biblical justification for the fixation on homsexuality and why shouldn't it be seen as hypocritical for the homo-obsessed not to be as concerned with those other sins?

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 7:27:00 AM, Anonymous Alex said...

Roch101,

"Churches 'compromise with sin' constantly. You just happen to object to this particular compromise while, I suspect, having no problemn with the accomodation of other sins."

Churches are not perfect. People are not perfect. I am not perfect. But I am surprised that you would accuse me of being concerned with only one sin. The Church or the Christian should not compromise with sin, period. It is unfortunate that too many churches and Christians are too intimidated to make a stand when they should.

Roch101: In reading your last comments, it seems to me that you really don't have a sound knowledge of the doctrines of Biblical sin. I recommend that you read RC Sproul's ESSENTIAL TRUTHS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH.

I appreciate your ability to keep a Reformed Christian on his toes. You certainly have a viewpoint that challenges my own. I respect your right to that viewpoint just as I am sure you respect mine. I just wish someone could break through that "huge logic hurdle" and convince you otherwise. Feel free to take the last shot at me and perhaps we will cross swords in another conversation.

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 10:43:00 AM, Blogger Mickey McLean said...

First of all, I want to thank everyone participating in this discussion, especially any newcomers to Carolina Christian Conservative, including those of you with dissenting views. Please know that you are welcome here any time.

Roch, your question as to why Christians hold to some Old Testament laws while not others reminds me of an episode of "The West Wing" from a few years ago, where the character of President Bartlett chastised a thinly disguised caricature of Dr. Laura (who's not even a Christian, btw) for that very thing. The Christian Research Institute published an in-depth article that goes through Bartlett's argument and explains the Christian view point by point. I strongly encourage you to read it, as well as anyone else who has questions about this perceived inconsistency in our adherence to Scripture's teachings. I think it will go a long way in answering your questions in this matter. Here's the URL for the article:

http://www.equip.org/free/DP801.pdf

(Note: CRI's Web site seems to be having problems this morning, so keep trying. However, you can also get the article by doing a Google search on the URL above and then clicking the “View as HTML” link in the search results.)

Also, Roch, you asked about the emphasis Christians have on homosexuality over other sins. Sin is sin in our eyes, but there are not that many activists out there advocating for the acceptance of other sins to the extreme that the homosexual lobby has been doing in recent years. That lobby is aggressive and is not only showing up in our secular culture, but in our schools and even in our churches. In other words, the homosexual lobby is the one who has put this issue on the front burner, not Christians. We are only responding to it as it encroaches on our beliefs.

This was posted by Alex here a week or so ago, but I'll mention it again in this comment: John Piper’s church in Minnesota has a very well thought out position statement for its stance on the homosexual issue that I endorse. I strongly encourage you to read it as well. You might come away with a better understanding of the Christian position on this issue. Here the URL for that statement:

http://www.desiringgod.org/library/fresh_words/2003/080603.html

Thanks again for caring enough to comment and for your willingness to listen to both sides of the issue. It is open discussions such as this that make doing this blog worthwhile to me.

Take care.

Mickey

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 10:43:00 AM, Anonymous Woody Cavenaugh said...

So what is the official stance on killing? I get thou shall not kill. But I am also getting the opposite message.

Churches and christians have to try to choose. Ultimately, most of them end up compromising somewhere in the middle. For instance they are fine with blowing up abortion clinics and going to war with Iraq, but are against the death penalty.

In my opinion we all do what we can to do the best we can and in the end when judged hope we have lived well enough that we can be forgiven for what we didn't do.

I'm ok with that. I am fine with the almighty judging me, no matter what the outcome it is just and fair. But when you, you or you, judge me it means nothing. Human beings don't have the wisdom or authority to judge one another in this way.

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 11:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just for the sake of discussion, the ancient Greek translation is actually, Thou Shalt Not Murder. The word in question is "Rachesaw".

The distinction is important.

the Heckler

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 11:54:00 AM, Anonymous Joel Gillespie said...

This is a theological/moral issue of great import, and to paint those disturbed by the Methodist Church's stance on homosexual union as homo-obsessed is really out there. These matters are being thrust upon local churches and pastors and lay people who are seeing their denominations drift evermore away from their historic theological and biblical moorings. What are they to say, "Fine, OK, cool, let's bless incest and adultery while we're at it." You should know that with many other denominations, if a presbytery or other official ordaining body were to be ordaining or otherwise blessing a known practicing heterosexual adulterer, a thief, an extortionist, a pathological liar, a lazy slob, a porno addict, etc., there would also be an outcry. So, this isn't a matter of arbitrarily picking on homosexuals. And, if there were an organizing group pushing for the equality of treatment for such folks as above then there would have to be a response. And Leviticus is not the rule of faith and practice for New Covenant Christians. Leviticus is part of the Covenant between YHWH and Israel. Well before Leviticus, indeed, well before Israel, the Bible already depicts the will of God for marriage in Genesis. And though Jesus does not directly address homosexuality he does specifically underline the teaching in Genesis regarding marriage. And the Scriptures’ ongoing moral view on marriage is made very clear in the rest of the New Testament where the Apostles had to deal with all these issues just as we do today. So, in short, this issue of homosexual marriage is not something most evangelicals or conservative Catholics are running around looking to fight about. The fight is coming to them. And it is a fight, a fight about the fundamental nature of the fundamental structural unit of creation - the family. Having said all that, and you and I have talked about this, though many folks must address these issues in our churches, at the personal level, we are to love our neighbor, and seek his or her good. And, we are not to go around judging our neighbor. The very same apostle Paul who was uncompromising about the nature of homosexuality, also said that we were not to judge those outside the church. So I have a duty to be kind to, helpful to, hospitable to, and friendly to my neighbors, whatever their sexual orientations may be.

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 12:27:00 PM, Blogger Roch101 said...

Mickey, I'll read the links you provided, in the mean time, a couple of quick points.

About this paragraph from Mickey:

Also, Roch, you asked about the emphasis Christians have on homosexuality over other sins. Sin is sin in our eyes, but there are not that many activists out there advocating for the acceptance of other sins to the extreme that the homosexual lobby has been doing in recent years. That lobby is aggressive and is not only showing up in our secular culture, but in our schools and even in our churches. In other words, the homosexual lobby is the one who has put this issue on the front burner, not Christians. We are only responding to it as it encroaches on our beliefs.

Mickey, you danced right around my point. Sin is not sin in your eyes if you are accepting of eating Bar-b-que, wearing clothes of mixed fibres, etc. Where is the outrage at those things encroaching upon churches and schools? This isn't hypocricy?

Joel, you wrote:

"So, in short, this issue of homosexual marriage is not something most evangelicals or conservative Catholics are running around looking to fight about.

But indeed they are. They are lobbying to influence our secular law to reflect their selective interpretations of the Bible.

Joel, in attempting to answer my questions, you used the very "salad bar" approach to interpreting the Bible that fails for me as a justification for the condemntation of homosexuality.

A final word. I too appreciate the discussion here. It's hard to be sure that respect and good nature come across in the written word, and I'm pretty sure that I've failed to make clear that I'm not trying to deny anybody their faith -- that I'm simply trying to argue against someone's faith being impossed upon other people. Anyway, as always, thanks for accomodating me here.

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 12:52:00 PM, Blogger Mickey McLean said...

Roch says:

"Mickey, you danced right around my point. Sin is not sin in your eyes if you are accepting of eating Bar-b-que, wearing clothes of mixed fibres, etc. Where is the outrage at those things encroaching upon churches and schools? This isn't hypocricy?"

Please do read the article from CRI (its site is back up, btw) and hopefully you'll glean from it the difference between the civil and ceremonial law of the Old Testament that governed an ancient Jewish theocracy and the moral law that has a universal application in the modern Christian church.

Another reason why many Old Testament civil and ceremonial (not moral) laws, such as eating pork and wearing certain mixed-fiber clothes, no longer apply to Christians is because of Jesus dying on the cross for us. Here's a verse that I hope will help explain that:

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (Gal. 3:13–14).

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 1:07:00 PM, Blogger Mickey McLean said...

Roch says:

"I'm simply trying to argue against someone's faith being impossed upon other people."

Isn't that what this post was originally about--this group from within the United Methodist Church trying to impose its beliefs--beliefs that run counter to the church's stated teachings on certain issues--on Bible-believing Christians in the church?

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 4:07:00 PM, Blogger Roch101 said...

Mickey wrote:

"Another reason why many Old Testament civil and ceremonial (not moral) laws, such as eating pork and wearing certain mixed-fiber clothes, no longer apply to Christians is because of Jesus dying on the cross for us."

And there you have it, Mickey. The "salad bar" approach to Christianity. "Some" of the Bible no longer applies, now it's just up to men to decide which parts.

People who want to justify their personal prejudices will conclude that the parts of the Bible that support their views are valid. The parts of the Bible that would make their lives inconvenient "no longer apply." Too easy.

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 4:52:00 PM, Blogger Mickey McLean said...

Roch, you just are not understanding New Covenant Christian theology, and I'm sorry if I'm doing a poor job of explaining it.

I'll try again: God prepared the people in the Old Testament for the coming Messiah through these civil and ceremonial laws. Christians today are not deciding they no longer apply--they were simply done away with through Christ, his teachings and his death upon the Cross as described in the New Testament. In other words, it is Scripture interpreting Scripture, not through any man's desire to make it read in some prejudiced way. Someone put it best when he said, "The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed."

And while Christ did away with the ceremonial and civil law of the Old Testament, he affirmed the moral law that had existed, as did his apostles.

And, Roch, your last statement is oh so true: "The parts of the Bible that would make their lives inconvenient 'no longer apply.'" That is exactly what groups like Reconciling Congregations are trying to do. They find parts of the Bible inconvenient to their sin nature and want to ignore them.

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 4:55:00 PM, Blogger Roch101 said...

So, Mickey, should people in court swear upon the Bible?

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 5:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lev. 18:22, "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."

Lev. 20:13, "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them"

1 Cor. 6:9-10, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Rom. 1:26-28, "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper."

Homosexuality is clearly condemned by the Bible. It goes against the created order of God. He created Adam and then made a woman. This is what God has ordained and it is what is right. Unlike other sins, homosexuality has a severe judgment administered by God Himself. This judgment is simple: They are given over to their passions. That means that their hearts are allowed to be hardened by their sins (Romans 1:18ff). As a result, they can no longer see the error of what they are doing. Without an awareness of their sinfulness, there will be no repentance and trusting in Jesus. Without Jesus, they will have no forgiveness. Without forgiveness, there is no salvation.

From: www.carm.org

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 5:17:00 PM, Blogger Mickey McLean said...

Roch, I'm not sure what your most recent question has to do with this discussion, but since you asked, I will answer: No. And the state law should be changed to reflect that. It works for Christians, but for a non-believer, they might as well be swearing on a Spider-Man comic book.

Now let's stay on topic, please.

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 5:22:00 PM, Blogger Roch101 said...

Yes, anonymous, and just a few verious prior to one of your Leviticus passages, the Bible instructs that those who curse their parents or who commit adultery shall be put to death.

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 5:32:00 PM, Blogger Roch101 said...

It is on topic, Mickey. I'm following your assertion that certain "cerimonial" laws of the Old Testament no longer apply. Indeed, since Jesus addresses this specifically:

Matthew 5:33
"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

This is an example of Jesus specifically telling people not to obey something from the Old Testament; specifically instructing us not to swear an oath.

So put your doctrine to the test. If Jesus's death on the cross freed us from the commands of Old Testament cermimonial law, as you assert, and if Jesus specifically tells us not to take an oath, I would say you have to reconsider your assertion that swearing an oath on the Bible "works for Christians."

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 5:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, but those are not specifically continued in the New Testament and the New Testament does not prescribe death for these sins.

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 5:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me, adultry does continue to apply in the new testament and so does honor your father and mother which takes care of the other. The New Testament does not require death for these.

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 5:43:00 PM, Blogger Mickey McLean said...

I don't want to forget about Woody and his comment this morning. So I will try to answer his questions.

On your questions about Christians and "killings":

The Bible and early Christian writings show us that Christians should be opposed to abortion and opposed to blowing up abortion clinics. The Bible is for the death penalty when it involves murder. And the Bible teaches that the state has the right to go to war in defense of themselves or others.

On living your life well enough:

You are right that we should not judge one another, but many Christians, including myself, find ourselves wrongly doing so from time to time. For that we should seek forgiveness.

And you're also right that it will be God who will ultimately judge us, but fortunately He has shown us the right path to take by giving us a very good and reliable roadmap, which is the Bible. Plus, He gave us an incredible gift in His only son, Jesus Christ, so that we would be forgiven for our shortcomings and end up with Him in Heaven. All we have to do is ask for this forgiveness and it is ours.

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 7:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allow me to help with the question of "killing".

When a gunman enters your home at 3:00 in the morning and you are the only one standing between him and your family, there is nothing wrong with pumping him full of lead. This is called killing. Much like you would a roach.

If the same guy were to come to your home and knock on the door and you simply decide to shoot him (even if he is a Mormon), that is murder and very wrong.

There is a huge difference.

the Heckler

 
At Wednesday, July 20, 2005 10:47:00 PM, Blogger Mickey McLean said...

Roch said: "I would say you have to reconsider your assertion that swearing an oath on the Bible 'works for Christians.'"

That's an interesting comment, and the verse you cite is one I had not studied that closely in this context.

So I looked into it and found an explanation that is consistent with many of Jesus' "surprising" statements, such as "If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away (Matt. 18:9)," that are meant as hyperbole and can be easily taken out of context.

Here's what The Reformation Study Bible says about Matt. 5:34:

"Some have understood Jesus' prohibition of oaths to be universal, but Jesus Himself submitted to oath (Matt 26:63), and Paul invoked God as his witness in Rom. 1:9. God Himself takes an oath so that we might be encouraged (Heb. 6:17). Jesus is addressing a narrow and misleading legalism that required a specific oath to make spoken words binding. The implication of such an approach to honesty is that we do not need to be truthful except under oath. Jesus demands an integrity of speech as though everything were under oath. He also prohibited the implicit idolatry of swearing by anything less than God."

This is not a "salad bar" analysis but a recipe in which all the ingredients are necessary. Taking an oath for a Christian in court is neither swearing by an idol nor making a pretense of integrity.

Thanks for helping me have a little bit of a Bible study tonight!

 
At Thursday, July 21, 2005 6:34:00 AM, Blogger Roch101 said...

Well, I think this thread is very illuminating. The words of the Bible are the final authority unless and until they are not, then the words of Jesus are the final authority, unless and until they are not, then it's what someone can tell us about what Jesus really meant as long as they agree with a particular human point of view.

There's no consistancy, just a desperate attempt to justify personal views through whatever method of Bible interpretation will support those views.

 
At Thursday, July 21, 2005 9:47:00 AM, Anonymous Joel Gillespie said...

I would like to address the comment that the “words of the Bible are the final authority unless and until they are not, then the words of Jesus are the final authority, unless and until they are not, then it's what someone can tell us about what Jesus really meant as long as they agree with a particular human point of view. There's no consistency, just a desperate attempt to justify personal views through whatever method of Bible interpretation will support those views.”
This is simply and purely and totally not the case and not a fair summation, unless, and then it might be fair, this is one’s view of the Christian religion in general. The people who have written in response to the matter going on in the Methodist Church, and about the issue of homosexuality, are Christians. They are of the more conservative type that holds to a high view of the authority of the bible. They are Christians however and not Orthodox Jews, so they are not bound to the Covenantal Laws of the book of Leviticus. They have a New Testament take on the Old Testament, believing it to have been fulfilled in the life and person and ministry (past and future) of Jesus Christ.
Jesus himself declared the food laws, and ultimately all the ceremonial and cleanliness laws, to be fulfilled or no longer in force, mainly because all these in some way all had to do with temple worship, with one’s approach to a holy God. But He himself was to be the temple and the sacrifice and the basis of approach to God. The temple was to be no more. And, since the covenant between God and Israel was coming to an end, along with its cursings and blessings, the civil laws of national Israel were also no longer to be in force. There would be no longer a civil government bound by the laws of the old covenant. The people of God would no longer equal a nation of the world. The people of God would be scattered throughout the various kingdoms of this world and the kingdom of God would be, until Jesus returns, more of a spiritual kingdom, or at least a kingdom not directly related to or equal to the nations of this world. As to the various fundamental moral laws found in the Old Testament, the foundation of many of these are laid in the account of creation. These stand as the fundamental will of God for His creation. Most of the other “rules” about how man is to deal with God and man are repeated here and there in the New Testament, summed up in the two great commandments, but not limited in their expression by those commandments. There is still much validity in the New Testament to “shall nots.”
It takes time and study to understand this, but this is and has been the common approach and understanding of the church form the earliest time. There are some difficult matters such as Sabbath and tithing which are less clear as one goes from the old to the new covenant era. But the issue of marriage is unambiguous. It is not picking and choosing. It is not inconsistent. It is not imposing modern mores or personal phobias on the text. That marriage should be between one man and one woman for life, and should not be torn asunder, has been the teaching of all the churches from the beginning, and reflects the clear and obvious teaching of the Bible for those who have a high view of its authority.
The only way to make the bible accepting of homosexual union is to twist and bend it until, frankly, it would be accepting of anything whatsoever. But such is the new religion of theological liberalism. In the end it means anything one wants it to mean. So, in fact and in truth, there is a divide between those who would hold to a high view of the authority of the bible and those who would encourage or bless homosexual union. The divide cannot be bridged. Ultimately there are two fundamentally different world views and “religions” clashing, sad as that may be. Again, this is not a matter of how one person treats another person in personal relationship as neighbors but what is accepted and blessed and promoted in the church. There is no bridge between these positions. The Methodist Church and all others that head down this path will divide yet again. For those churches which do hold to a high view of the bible, this will be the death knell.

 
At Thursday, July 21, 2005 10:12:00 AM, Blogger Mickey McLean said...

I have enjoyed this discussion with you all, but it looks like we've gone about as far as we can on this issue in this medium. How about we wrap up this thread? I do appreciate everyone's input and look forward to seeing your comments on other posts here.

 
At Thursday, July 21, 2005 10:20:00 AM, Blogger Roch101 said...

Joel wrote: "There would be no longer a civil government bound by the laws of the old covenant."

No need, then, for The Ten Commandments in court rooms?

Joel also wrote: "The only way to make the bible accepting of homosexual union is to twist and bend it until, frankly, it would be accepting of anything whatsoever."

Perhaps, Joel, and the only way to make the Bible accepting of divorce is to perform the same contortions. Where are the calls from those taking the "high view" of the Bible to keep the divorced out of their church?

 
At Thursday, July 21, 2005 11:36:00 AM, Anonymous Joel Gillespie said...

Roch,

Please know that though I write with some passion, I also write in a spirit of appreciation and friendship toward you. So, though this has been an impassioned thread, I hope it has been taken in good will. I will answer each question.
First, I personally do NOT think the Ten Commandments should be displayed in courtrooms. I have addressed this on my own blog. The reason is that the Ten Commandments are the summation of God's covenant with Israel and express her legal/covenantal obligations toward him. They call for absolute exclusive worship of YHWH and YHWH alone. Let's just put it this way. Ultimately the Ten Commandments taken as a whole (and thus including the preamble and the First Commandment) cannot be made compatible with our own constitutional Bill of Rights. Thus they should not be presented as the basis for our own laws or the decisions of our judges. We live in a secular state, not a country in Covenant with YHWH.
Second, about marriage and divorce, I have written extensively about this issue and refer you to my writings on the 7th Commandment at www.backporch.org/covenantfellowship. The upshot is this. Jesus’ words on the subject are presented slightly differently in Mark and Matthew respectively. In Mark there seems to be no cause for divorce or remarriage. In Matthew there is an “exception clause.” That means that, as many conservative Protestant groups (such as mine) have taken it, if one is the victim of adultery (or willful desertion that cannot be remedied), one can sue for divorce, and be remarried – it is as if the former spouse has died. As you may know the Catholic Church and some Protestant Churches do not allow for such exceptions. The question is whether in the account in Mark Jesus assumed the exception and thus didn’t need to add it, or whether in Matthew he didn’t really mean it as an exception. Although the Apostle Paul has something to add to the subject in his letter to the Church in Corinth, the difficulty is in the two ways this is presented in the two respective Gospels.
This is a matter of difficulty. We try our best in good will to understand Jesus’ true intent. There is no such difficulty or ambiguity on the matter of homosexuality.
As to people coming to our church, visiting, etc., it is “come as you are.” If people are led to covenant with us as members, and if they are already divorced, it is almost always a situation that cannot be remedied or reconciled. There is no judgment. If a couple is separated without biblical cause, we may not receive them as members but counsel them to return to their marriage. If it is a couple, each one of which has been married and divorced ten times, for valid reasons or not, we try our best to honor the current marriage and in time if there is repentance needed over past issues, to encourage that, while, again, always supporting the current marriage vow, assuming of course it is legal (i.e., not bigamous, incestuous, etc)
There is tact and tenderness required in these and a hundred other situations involving real people. But the fact that the historic orthodox bible believing church at large has not come to total agreement overt the issue of divorce and remarriage has nothing to do with the unambiguous nature of the same sex marriage issue. It is only theologically liberal churches that have long abandoned the basic tenants of the historic Christian faith that support homosexual marriage.

 
At Thursday, July 21, 2005 12:40:00 PM, Blogger Roch101 said...

Joel,

Thank you for the considered response. You always give me plenty to think about and it's good to hear some reason in your answers -- and yes passion, which I do not mistake for animosity. We are indeed friends, I'm happy to say, and I consider our back and forths here challenging but respectful. (Maybe you'll try to convince Mickey that I'm not really such a jerk.)

 
At Thursday, July 21, 2005 3:13:00 PM, Anonymous Woody Cavenaugh said...

This has been an outstanding discussion. Thank you one and all.

I want to especially thank mickey mclean who was most helpful.

 
At Thursday, July 21, 2005 6:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roch,

I'm sure I share Rev. McLeans sentiments when I say, you are not a jerk:)

I also appreciate your bluntness and encourage you to express your doubts about the Christian faith on this blog. I learn a lot about my own faith from these discussions.

Sometimes the conversations come across heated but I think that is when it is at its best. Religion is a serious discussion and we all need to do a gut-check from time-to-time on what we believe.

My guess is that there is not a single Christian on this blog that hasn't questioned their own faith at one time or another. But for me, all this strenghtens my faith and helps me to understand.

My prayer is that it will also help you to know where you really stand.

the Heckler

 

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