The Value of Ecumenism, or at least ‘getting along’

The school where I’m teaching this week is in the Bavarian region of Germany, a predominantly Catholic part of the country in contrast to the prevalence of Protestantism in the North. Both Protestant and Catholic claim to follow Jesus and declare without hesitation that “Jesus is Lord”. The meaning of the declaration, though, was sorely tested between the late 1920′s and the end of WWII in 1945, as Hitler rose to power by blending “God Words” with a call to nationalism in order to revive both faith and state. That he rose without substantive resistance in spite of his unabashed disdain for both the God of the Old Testament, and all Jews, is a study in itself, but not the point of this post.

My interest resides in those few who DID resist, because a careful look at the players reveals that they were thrown together from North and South, Catholic and Protestant, united in their conviction that actively standing against the raging tide of darkness was essential. There was of course, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Protestant Pastor. And behind the scenes, when the training of pastors needed to go underground, the non-institutional ‘seminary’ led by Bonhoeffer was supported and hosted by a rich Prussian Heiress named Ruth Von Kleist. Bonhoeffer would eventually have a profound influence of some Catholics in the south who were part of a small, non-violent resistance movement consisting of young adults called “The White Rose”. In addition, the Catholic community would influence Bonhoeffer, offering him hospitality and fellowship at a monastery during his days in Munich.  Bonhoeffer would write during those days that he was humbled by their magnanimous and generous spirit, which led to his own musings on the need to work hard at recovering the unity of Christ’s body.

Another profound influence for the “White Rose” was the Catholic theologian, Carl Muth.  His publishing work had been destroyed by the Reich, but he continued to write, “in exile” in his small home on the outskirts of Munich, where these young people (made up of both Catholics and Protestants) came to glean from his wisdom, study, and find shelter in the midst of their own storms.  And who most profoundly influenced the Catholic Muth?  Protestant Existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard.

Lessons learned?  I’m increasingly convinced that the true church neither resides within particular institutional walls, nor values much of what passes for theological discourse.   Within the various institutions, there will be those few who are passionate for “doing justice”, “loving mercy”, and “walking humbly with God”.  They’ll also be intent on the pursuit of “love from a pure heart, with a good conscience and a sincere faith”.  I say this because, while Catholics and Protestants in the established church were carrying on the very vital conversations about the nature of transubstantiation, and arguing about the role the human will plays in our salvation, six million Jews, along with thousands of Gypsies, mentally ill, physically deformed, and homosexuals, were mysteriously disappearing from the country, ultimately to be shot, gassed, or burnt in ovens.  Hitler didn’t give a damn about the established church because they collectively cowered under his threats, allowing themselves to be pushed into pietist irrelevance.  It was the others, the ecumenists residing on the margins, who were a threat to his house of cards.

Thank God there were those few who set aside the “morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language…” (I Timothy 6:4), choosing instead to stand for what matters.  Bonhoeffer, Muth, Ruth Von Kleist, Hans and Sophie School are the people I point to as my heroes, and they’re Protestants, and Catholics.

I pray to God that we learn from this because I see similarly destructive ‘in fighting’ unfolding in this age between the neo-Calvinists and the Emergent church.  But when darkness covers the world, I’m confident that there’ll be a few who will stop fighting each other long enough to stand together for what matters, and I pray I’ll be counted among them.

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

    Eh, I kinda agree with you on this one. There are a multitude of things we don’t really need to fight about, but eventually there comes a point at which Christians need to take serious stances on serious things, even if they’re against other Christians. Those things are:

    -The divine origin/truthfulness/perfection of the ENTIRE Bible
    -The nature of man, the problem of sin (all of it, not just the agreeable parts)
    -The supreme righteousness of God
    -The necessity of the Trinity
    -That salvation is a gift of God and Christ’s death the only thing necessary for a Christian to enter the kingdom of heaven

    I’m sure you can tack a couple of others on here, but you get my point. There is a time for taking stances, and taking stances is not for Nazis: it’s for Jesus and His children. The world is going to hate us for it and call us fighters (as Jesus Himself said), but let them. Christianity is a fighting religion as C.S. Lewis would say, because it is a revelation from God, and God has preferences and divine law. To ignore this and pretend as though everything in the Bible is just postmodernist opinion is to deny the cause of Christ itself.

    As such, we must stand together, but unity at the expense of God’s truth isn’t a unity worth pursuing, and diversity for diversity’s sake is perversity. It is better to suffer alone in Christ than to join a parade of fools.

    • Kevin

      What about unity within the body of Christ along the lines of Paul’s imagery in 1 Corinthian’s 12? Each different aspect of the Christian church comprising its own organ within the body of Christ, each functioning in harmonious cooperation through the power and presence of the Spirit? Michael Kinnamon, who has written extensively on this subject and has been a part of the World Council of Churches since the 1980′s, compares the necessity of the Spirit in bringing together the fractured and scattered pieces of Christ’s church to Ezekiel standing before a valley of dry bones (Ezek. 37:1-14). Although he could prophesy and bring the bones together, creating form and structure, it wasn’t until the Spirit of God breathed through them that they came to life. Similarly, we can bring churches together, but only the Spirit can animate and vivify us. We can have all the law and doctrine that we like, and we can even come to some sort of consensus around what is and what is not Christian, but it will all be dry bones unless we are united in the Spirit. And, so united, we must trust that we are indeed part of a cohesive whole, that other organs will function properly to the health and benefit of all, even though we cannot see or understand how they function.

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        First off, I’ve got to say that this is a great conversation, and I’m enjoying it very much. Thanks Dahlstrom for posting this stuff, though we disagree and do so sharply!

        I think it’s important to note that 1 Corinthians 12 speaks of the gifts of the Spirit, not variations in doctrine. If Paul were speaking about accepting different doctrines, his epistles wouldn’t exist, since they were written primarily to correct false doctrines and to tell the church how and how not to behave and think as followers of Christ.

        What Paul means in this passage is that some of us are gifted with the ability to teach, some are good at caring for others, some of us bring our wealth that we get from our talents, some are musicians. He’s just trying to tell us that we in our pride may esteem one gift over another, but to keep our pride in check: it is God who gives gifts, and the gifts are provided for the enjoyment and care of the church.

        I have to agree with you wholeheartedly about the necessity of the Spirit, and the importance of yielding to Him. You and I are both uninterested in being members of any sort of legalistic church, in which people don’t care about one another or have a heavenly perspective in mind, and I’m “pretty sure” Jesus spent a lot of time harshly criticizing the pharisees for exactly the same reason (Matthew 23).

        We have to be extremely careful here, though. The Holy Spirit–once again–is not some independent force that whisks people away into contradictory stances. Rather, it brings us into unity with the mind of Christ (if we will yield to it), the mind which is responsible for giving us the Bible itself. As such, the mind of Christ does not change doctrines: it is eternal, harmonious, and perfectly righteous beyond our capability. When we are united in the mind of Christ, strivings cease and we have a unity of purpose, a clarity of morality, and a righteousness of work that we would otherwise be lacking. This is what produces unity. The unity, under no circumstances, ever comes first.

        As such, although you may say that doctrines are not the whole of Christ and His church (and you are right), proper doctrine explains the way of Christ and should ALWAYS be the result of the Spirit. It is simply an explanation of how the Spirit works. When many people get together who are truly influenced by the Spirit, they must find a way to explain the experience, and this coordination has been documented through prophets and apostles and affirmed by Jesus Christ our savior–the reason for the whole Bible– as being from Him. This is why we rely upon the Bible: it is an undeniable record of interactions with The Spirit. When we think we are being carried by The Spirit, our major indication of truth should be consistency with the Bible.

        You bring up a good point, though: the Holy Spirit may reveal certain truths to some and others to others, and I agree with you on this. When He does reveal truths, we as a body of Christ are responsible for sharing them with others, and the teachings should coincide quite nicely with one another. It may be true that all doctrines require balance (righteousness without prideful legalism, etc), but this isn’t the same thing as having contradicting statements. As far as I can tell, it is our pride and stubbornness which causes serious differences in doctrine, and we all have a bit of that :) I have to pray quite a bit for God to strip me of my pride so that I can get a real mind for Him, and not just end up with my old faulty one.

      • Kevin

        I get that Paul was speaking about spiritual gifts, but can we not also use the same kind of structure for considering church unity? While the Spirit does not lead us to contradictory positions it does often lead to counterintuitive positions, even paradoxical (to reference an earlier post). Coming to a place of such seeming confusion has often led those within the church to cling so tightly to their perceptions of truth that they have little grasp left for love, and again Christ’s church is slandered by the scandal of disunity. Can we be an organism defined by different and distinct experiences of God, even so far as to seem unexplainable and illogical, and still function harmoniously? I say yes, and that is ultimately the goal of ecumenism: the vision of a church made up of many minds united around a single purpose.

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        This is for your post which ends “Can we be an organism defined by different and distinct experiences of God, even so far as to seem unexplainable and illogical, and still function harmoniously? I say yes, and that is ultimately the goal of ecumenism: the vision of a church made up of many minds united around a single purpose.”

        I say yes, too, but only when secondary doctrines are concerned. When we’re talking about baptism by immersion, liturgy, speaking in tongues, or whether to actually use wine during sacrament, we should be able to disagree quite well and love one another despite differences.

        But when the differences are over primary doctrines such as the inerrancy of Scripture, salvation through grace by faith alone, or intolerance of ALL sin, we must expose and reform those who disagree. If someone is unwilling to repent, they must be sent out of the church until they do.

        Does this contradict Christ’s command to love? No. The Bible says there are other people in the church who can be led astray, and false central doctrines destroy churches and leave us spiritually impotent. Your statement about children exploring their sexuality falls into this category: it is absolutely unacceptable. Our love for others should ensure that we are willing to take steps to keep the church (the sheep) safe, even if it means taking tough stances.

        But don’t take it from me: take it from Peter, the guy who was personally trained by Jesus (2 Peter 2:1-21).

        “1But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

        4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[a] putting them into gloomy dungeons[b] to be held for judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.[c] 10This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature[d] and despise authority.

        Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; 11yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. 12But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

        13They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.[e] 14With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—a beast without speech—who spoke with a man’s voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

        17These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”

        The apostle Paul has similar ideas about heretics in his second book to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:14-19):

        Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,”[a] and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

        Christ is kind to sinners like me, but He doesn’t put up with a whole lot of garbage, and He and His apostles tell us not to either. On central doctrines we have to be tough as nails.

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        Okay, I get what’s going on here. What you’re trying to say is that nobody in the modern world really knows what the proper application and outcome of Christianity is, that there’s no such thing as heresy (regardless of what the apostles said), and if you take a serious doctrinal stance which results in division, then you’re antithetical to the kingdom of Christ (a kingdom which you cannot define, since you don’t like doctrine).

        I get that after I clearly described how secondary doctrines are not reason for serious fighting, you still disagree with me, which means you disagree because you refuse to hold fast to one or more of the primary doctrines. In light of our discussion, your stance’s variation has something to do with the flawed nature of the Scriptures and thus your refusal to recognize certain acts–whichever they may be–as sin. If not, you would have agreed with Peter’s statement about the importance of doctrine. If you won’t listen to the plain words of Peter, there is no help for you.

        You should know that the nails were pounded into Christ’s hands because people DIDN’T understand the doctrine, not just because they enforced doctrine. If they understood the doctrine correctly, then they would have either recognized Jesus as the Jewish Messiah or He would have claimed at some point that the Scriptures weren’t from Him (which He repeatedly stated the opposite of). I know you’re keen on having Christ be a “spiritual” experience for you, but Christ is not about postmodernism: He is about clarity. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one gets to the Father except through Him. Kinda tough to be the Truth when your followers reject that truth–at least for anything applicable–actually exists.

        I want to leave you with this, and if you don’t want to listen, then you must know something: you are not actually following Christ. You are following yourself, making your own “Christ” as an idol so that you can be your own master.

        1 John 1

        “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
        8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

        IF we walk in the light, THEN we have fellowship with one another. And what is sin? Sin is refusing Christ, His Scripture, His condemnation of your wrongdoings. Sin is your nature which rejects Christ’s proposals so that you can live by your own standards. If you haven’t taken the chance to ask Him to convince you of truth, maybe it’s time to start. After all, Jesus is not about having self-esteem and being in a club: He and the whole of His revelation have to do with recognizing your sinfulness (as defined in His word), and then admitting He is right and that you need Him desperately. Without doctrine and an understanding of His nature (however small), you can do none of this. Your spiritual development can only be as good as your perception of God, and yours is NOT concurrent with either the teachings of Jesus or of the prophets whom He sent.

        I don’t know where you got your theology, but it sounds like it’s from the Devil.

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        Kevin, your kindness is nothing to be discarded, and I want to let you know that I’m enjoying this conversation as well. However, tough stances must be taken for Christ and as a result of Christ, and I’m under no circumstance willing to toss Him away for the sake of unity with those unconcerned with His teachings, and the teachings of His apostles.

        On that note, however, I think it’s time for you to clarify some things. I think this will make the conversation go a little more smoothly :)

        -Is the entire Bible the inerrant word of God?
        -Does Jesus’ morality change?
        -Even though Jesus paid our debt for sin, should sin be tolerated in the church?
        -Is unity a result of adherence to Christ, or simply a goal in itself?
        -Is there a such thing as heresy, or are all teachings equally valuable within the church?
        -Are any teachings of the Bible outdated?
        -Finally, can modern Christians learn anything certain from the Bible?

  • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

    Eh, I kinda agree with you on this one. There are a multitude of things we don’t really need to fight about, but eventually there comes a point at which Christians need to take serious stances on serious things, even if they’re against other Christians. Those things are:

    -The divine origin/truthfulness/perfection of the ENTIRE Bible
    -The nature of man, the problem of sin (all of it, not just the agreeable parts)
    -The supreme righteousness of God
    -The necessity of the Trinity
    -That salvation is a gift of God and Christ’s death the only thing necessary for a Christian to enter the kingdom of heaven

    I’m sure you can tack a couple of others on here, but you get my point. There is a time for taking stances, and taking stances is not for Nazis: it’s for Jesus and His children. The world is going to hate us for it and call us fighters (as Jesus Himself said), but let them. Christianity is a fighting religion as C.S. Lewis would say, because it is a revelation from God, and God has preferences and divine law. To ignore this and pretend as though everything in the Bible is just postmodernist opinion is to deny the cause of Christ itself.

    As such, we must stand together, but unity at the expense of God’s truth isn’t a unity worth pursuing, and diversity for diversity’s sake is perversity. It is better to suffer alone in Christ than to join a parade of fools.

    • Kevin

      What about unity within the body of Christ along the lines of Paul’s imagery in 1 Corinthian’s 12? Each different aspect of the Christian church comprising its own organ within the body of Christ, each functioning in harmonious cooperation through the power and presence of the Spirit? Michael Kinnamon, who has written extensively on this subject and has been a part of the World Council of Churches since the 1980′s, compares the necessity of the Spirit in bringing together the fractured and scattered pieces of Christ’s church to Ezekiel standing before a valley of dry bones (Ezek. 37:1-14). Although he could prophesy and bring the bones together, creating form and structure, it wasn’t until the Spirit of God breathed through them that they came to life. Similarly, we can bring churches together, but only the Spirit can animate and vivify us. We can have all the law and doctrine that we like, and we can even come to some sort of consensus around what is and what is not Christian, but it will all be dry bones unless we are united in the Spirit. And, so united, we must trust that we are indeed part of a cohesive whole, that other organs will function properly to the health and benefit of all, even though we cannot see or understand how they function.

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        First off, I’ve got to say that this is a great conversation, and I’m enjoying it very much. Thanks Dahlstrom for posting this stuff, though we disagree and do so sharply!

        I think it’s important to note that 1 Corinthians 12 speaks of the gifts of the Spirit, not variations in doctrine. If Paul were speaking about accepting different doctrines, his epistles wouldn’t exist, since they were written primarily to correct false doctrines and to tell the church how and how not to behave and think as followers of Christ.

        What Paul means in this passage is that some of us are gifted with the ability to teach, some are good at caring for others, some of us bring our wealth that we get from our talents, some are musicians. He’s just trying to tell us that we in our pride may esteem one gift over another, but to keep our pride in check: it is God who gives gifts, and the gifts are provided for the enjoyment and care of the church.

        I have to agree with you wholeheartedly about the necessity of the Spirit, and the importance of yielding to Him. You and I are both uninterested in being members of any sort of legalistic church, in which people don’t care about one another or have a heavenly perspective in mind, and I’m “pretty sure” Jesus spent a lot of time harshly criticizing the pharisees for exactly the same reason (Matthew 23).

        We have to be extremely careful here, though. The Holy Spirit–once again–is not some independent force that whisks people away into contradictory stances. Rather, it brings us into unity with the mind of Christ (if we will yield to it), the mind which is responsible for giving us the Bible itself. As such, the mind of Christ does not change doctrines: it is eternal, harmonious, and perfectly righteous beyond our capability. When we are united in the mind of Christ, strivings cease and we have a unity of purpose, a clarity of morality, and a righteousness of work that we would otherwise be lacking. This is what produces unity. The unity, under no circumstances, ever comes first.

        As such, although you may say that doctrines are not the whole of Christ and His church (and you are right), proper doctrine explains the way of Christ and should ALWAYS be the result of the Spirit. It is simply an explanation of how the Spirit works. When many people get together who are truly influenced by the Spirit, they must find a way to explain the experience, and this coordination has been documented through prophets and apostles and affirmed by Jesus Christ our savior–the reason for the whole Bible– as being from Him. This is why we rely upon the Bible: it is an undeniable record of interactions with The Spirit. When we think we are being carried by The Spirit, our major indication of truth should be consistency with the Bible.

        You bring up a good point, though: the Holy Spirit may reveal certain truths to some and others to others, and I agree with you on this. When He does reveal truths, we as a body of Christ are responsible for sharing them with others, and the teachings should coincide quite nicely with one another. It may be true that all doctrines require balance (righteousness without prideful legalism, etc), but this isn’t the same thing as having contradicting statements. As far as I can tell, it is our pride and stubbornness which causes serious differences in doctrine, and we all have a bit of that :) I have to pray quite a bit for God to strip me of my pride so that I can get a real mind for Him, and not just end up with my old faulty one.

      • Kevin

        I get that Paul was speaking about spiritual gifts, but can we not also use the same kind of structure for considering church unity? While the Spirit does not lead us to contradictory positions it does often lead to counterintuitive positions, even paradoxical (to reference an earlier post). Coming to a place of such seeming confusion has often led those within the church to cling so tightly to their perceptions of truth that they have little grasp left for love, and again Christ’s church is slandered by the scandal of disunity. Can we be an organism defined by different and distinct experiences of God, even so far as to seem unexplainable and illogical, and still function harmoniously? I say yes, and that is ultimately the goal of ecumenism: the vision of a church made up of many minds united around a single purpose.

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        This is for your post which ends “Can we be an organism defined by different and distinct experiences of God, even so far as to seem unexplainable and illogical, and still function harmoniously? I say yes, and that is ultimately the goal of ecumenism: the vision of a church made up of many minds united around a single purpose.”

        I say yes, too, but only when secondary doctrines are concerned. When we’re talking about baptism by immersion, liturgy, speaking in tongues, or whether to actually use wine during sacrament, we should be able to disagree quite well and love one another despite differences.

        But when the differences are over primary doctrines such as the inerrancy of Scripture, salvation through grace by faith alone, or intolerance of ALL sin, we must expose and reform those who disagree. If someone is unwilling to repent, they must be sent out of the church until they do.

        Does this contradict Christ’s command to love? No. The Bible says there are other people in the church who can be led astray, and false central doctrines destroy churches and leave us spiritually impotent. Your statement about children exploring their sexuality falls into this category: it is absolutely unacceptable. Our love for others should ensure that we are willing to take steps to keep the church (the sheep) safe, even if it means taking tough stances.

        But don’t take it from me: take it from Peter, the guy who was personally trained by Jesus (2 Peter 2:1-21).

        “1But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

        4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[a] putting them into gloomy dungeons[b] to be held for judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.[c] 10This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature[d] and despise authority.

        Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; 11yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. 12But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

        13They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.[e] 14With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—a beast without speech—who spoke with a man’s voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

        17These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”

        The apostle Paul has similar ideas about heretics in his second book to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:14-19):

        Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,”[a] and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

        Christ is kind to sinners like me, but He doesn’t put up with a whole lot of garbage, and He and His apostles tell us not to either. On central doctrines we have to be tough as nails.

      • Kevin

        Tough as nails? As tough as the nails that pierced the hands of Christ? Because those nails were pounded in defense of doctrine, as well. The pages of our church history run red with violence done in the name of protecting our doctrine, and not just the blood of non-believers. We’re talking brothers killing brothers, sisters killing sisters, parents killing children and families being irreconcilably divided over differences of opinion. I know that we need to stand by our beliefs, but to me this does not feel like the Kingdom-vision that Christ came to proclaim.

        But I understand where you’re coming from and it sounds like you are speaking to matters of religious identity. How can we identify ourselves as Christian if there are others who make the same claim but seem to have drastically different beliefs? Using that imagery of the body, we don’t leave in an appendix that has become infected because the rupture of that one organ could lead to the death of the body as a whole. Taking it further still, every organ going in its own direction and functioning independently would look a lot like an auto-immune disease–again, not good to have within the body.

        At the same time, though, I know that our doctrines did not just appear, that were formed and refined over several centuries until the church arrived at a particular understanding of each. I’m not necessarily advocating that we be constantly rewriting what we believe, nor do I think that we should expand them to include other beliefs because I am convinced that such an action would ultimately be detrimental to our own religious identity. I have felt at times that we treat Christianity as though it is something weak and frail, something that must be defended, and I truly want us to have such a strong sense of religious identity that we don’t feel the need to stand guard over our doctrines, to constantly defend our beliefs.

        Also, before we go any further, please allow me put this one to bed: at no point have I advocated children exploring their sexuality. Earlier, I asked a question around this topic so as to elicit conversation, but I made no assertion on the subject. If you’d like I can share my thoughts on this, but let’s save it for another time.

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        Okay, I get what’s going on here. What you’re trying to say is that nobody in the modern world really knows what the proper application and outcome of Christianity is, that there’s no such thing as heresy (regardless of what the apostles said), and if you take a serious doctrinal stance which results in division, then you’re antithetical to the kingdom of Christ (a kingdom which you cannot define, since you don’t like doctrine).

        I get that after I clearly described how secondary doctrines are not reason for serious fighting, you still disagree with me, which means you disagree because you refuse to hold fast to one or more of the primary doctrines. In light of our discussion, your stance’s variation has something to do with the flawed nature of the Scriptures and thus your refusal to recognize certain acts–whichever they may be–as sin. If not, you would have agreed with Peter’s statement about the importance of doctrine. If you won’t listen to the plain words of Peter, there is no help for you.

        You should know that the nails were pounded into Christ’s hands because people DIDN’T understand the doctrine, not just because they enforced doctrine. If they understood the doctrine correctly, then they would have either recognized Jesus as the Jewish Messiah or He would have claimed at some point that the Scriptures weren’t from Him (which He repeatedly stated the opposite of). I know you’re keen on having Christ be a “spiritual” experience for you, but Christ is not about postmodernism: He is about clarity. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one gets to the Father except through Him. Kinda tough to be the Truth when your followers reject that truth–at least for anything applicable–actually exists.

        I want to leave you with this, and if you don’t want to listen, then you must know something: you are not actually following Christ. You are following yourself, making your own “Christ” as an idol so that you can be your own master.

        1 John 1

        “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
        8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

        IF we walk in the light, THEN we have fellowship with one another. And what is sin? Sin is refusing Christ, His Scripture, His condemnation of your wrongdoings. Sin is your nature which rejects Christ’s proposals so that you can live by your own standards. If you haven’t taken the chance to ask Him to convince you of truth, maybe it’s time to start. After all, Jesus is not about having self-esteem and being in a club: He and the whole of His revelation have to do with recognizing your sinfulness (as defined in His word), and then admitting He is right and that you need Him desperately. Without doctrine and an understanding of His nature (however small), you can do none of this. Your spiritual development can only be as good as your perception of God, and yours is NOT concurrent with either the teachings of Jesus or of the prophets whom He sent.

        I don’t know where you got your theology, but it sounds like it’s from the Devil.

      • Kevin

        Jeremy, I want to keep having this conversation with you, so please stop pushing me outside of the tent. Please stop making assumptions about what I think and what I believe; if they seem questionable to you, then by all means ask a question of me and I will gladly answer. We can have this discussion without resorting to forcing each other to conclusions.

        In truth, I’m not trying to say anything at all; I’m simply asking questions and trying out ideas. I don’t disagree with you on most of these points, I simply don’t care about them in the same way that you do, nor do I care about them so emphatically. Ultimately, I’m not concerned with the nature of doctrine or heresy (or even orthodoxy), but what it is that we do with our understanding of these issues. Those that drove the nails into Christ’s hands were not doing so out of any misunderstanding of doctrine, and—truth be told—I can only really guess at what it is that they believed. Whatever that was, though, they were ready to murder an innocent man in order to defend it. That is what I am concerned about.

        Whether I like doctrine or not doesn’t really matter, because it is not for the sake of doctrine that I engage in relationship, whether with God or with you. I’m not coming back to this dialog because doctrine or theology dictates, but because I desire it. I desire to be here, talking with you. Peter and Paul can have their say all they want, but it is what you say that I truly care about, it is your thoughts that I covet.

        The question of ecumenism is this:

        I am me and I am not you,
        But what I am is not defined by being not you.
        I am me and you are you;
        What are we?

        What are we, Jeremy? Remember, I don’t want you to let go of your own doctrine, but can you and I be different and still united in Christ, or is there simply to much theological confusion between us?

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        Kevin, your kindness is nothing to be discarded, and I want to let you know that I’m enjoying this conversation as well. However, tough stances must be taken for Christ and as a result of Christ, and I’m under no circumstance willing to toss Him away for the sake of unity with those unconcerned with His teachings, and the teachings of His apostles.

        On that note, however, I think it’s time for you to clarify some things. I think this will make the conversation go a little more smoothly :)

        -Is the entire Bible the inerrant word of God?
        -Does Jesus’ morality change?
        -Even though Jesus paid our debt for sin, should sin be tolerated in the church?
        -Is unity a result of adherence to Christ, or simply a goal in itself?
        -Is there a such thing as heresy, or are all teachings equally valuable within the church?
        -Are any teachings of the Bible outdated?
        -Finally, can modern Christians learn anything certain from the Bible?

      • Kevin

        Much like you, Jeremy, I also don’t want to see Christ tossed aside for any reason. The purpose of ecumenism is not a diminishing of Christian identity, making the definition so broad that it all but loses its salt. Rather, the purpose of ecumenism is the forging of relationships across the expanse of religious misunderstanding, communities coming together under a common purpose despite any doctrinal discrepancies, a process which requires that we have a firm understanding of our own respective religious identities.

        You’ve asked me a lot of questions, here, and I am flattered that you are so curious about me. Please allow me to answer just one of these, since I could easily spend more time than I have responding to each.

        As far as heresy goes, the question for me is not whether it exists but where it comes from, and how it becomes decided who is in and who is out. I think a more productive term for heresy might be heterodoxy, since heresy almost always seems to carry the smack of insult (it’s generally a term that we hurl more than give, and we rarely if ever say it out of love). As the opposite of orthodoxy—the comparison being between proper practice/worship/belief and the improper—heterodoxy is usually a term that is applied by the orthodox against the heterodox. While this may be a rather obvious statement, this gets sticky when we examine instances where one group labels another as heterodox, and both were worshipping the same god, reading the same sacred scriptures. Things get stickier still when the history of heterodox peoples is written by the very orthodox who named them as such. How do we evaluate the situation? The heterodox weren’t setting out to sin, and I guess nobody really sets out to worship God the wrong way. Historically, heterodox peoples have not branched away from orthodoxy but have found themselves apart when definitions of what is orthodox have changed. These people simply woke up one day and their ideas were no longer acceptable to the majority of their faith community.

        This is what informs my understanding of heresy (heterodoxy), and this is the basis for how I respond. As one who has found themselves on the margins before—and at times been placed there by others’ definitions—I have a certain sympathy for those who are excluded from the faith simply because they have a different understanding of God than others. Does heresy exist? Definitely, but often only insofar as we ourselves define it. This is not to say that scriptures on heresy and the treatment of heretics are wrong, nor does this mean that I advocate an anything-goes/relativistic sort of faith, but it means that I want the orthodox to carefully examine their own motives before they ever reach for that term.

        In striving for ecumenism, not only should we consider those within the church who have been excluded but those who have found themselves without, as well. Was it for the sake of sin that they were excluded or was it the discomfort of those within the church that did the excluding?

  • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

    Here are some “intolerant Nazi” verses that supplement what I’ve been saying.

    Paul wants Judaizers to castrate themselves:
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians%205:11-12&version=NLT

    Moses commands the people of Israel to have foreigners follow God’s morality:
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy%2031:10-13&version=NLT

    Peter says the word is not a matter of opinion:
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Peter%201:20-21&version=NIV

    Paul commands believers not to have company with people who commit open sin unrepentantly:
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians+5&version=NIV

    John calls people who deny the truth of Christ and his deity “anti-Christs.”
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20John+2:22&version=NIV

    Jesus denies people who claimed to be Christians, and warns against heresy

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%207:15-23&version=NIV

    Now, we all know the Biblical purpose of correction is restoration of the offender, but there comes a point at which ya gotta give the heretic/public sinner the boot.

  • Linda

    Roman Catholic do not believe a person is justified by faith alone in Christ alone, they add works. How we are justified before God is a matter of eternal consequences, this doctrine cannot be compromised.

    • Kevin

      How we are saved is indeed of eternal consequence, but can the eternal be so encapsulated within doctrine? It’s not doctrine that saves us, nor is it really what we believe that saves us, but God’s will to save, period. Are you saying that if someone loves Christ, lives by the Word of God, and yet imagines their own salvation in different terms than yourself, you would not join them in community?

      • Linda

        The core doctrine of the Reformation is a person is “justified by faith alone in Christ alone” not in faith and works/sacraments, and not in Jesus and Mary, this doctrine can never be compromised. This is what separates the Protestants and the Roman Catholics, if you compromise on this doctrine than you are nothing more than a Roman Catholic. Roman Catholics are not to be considers brothers and sisters in Christ, they need to be evangelized.

      • Kevin

        What is faith if it does not result in the outward manifestations of love? The Church does not preach that people are saved by works, simply that those who claim to have faith but never show love (including for themselves) have no faith at all. They participate in the sacraments out of devotion and because those practices are what the Church believes are important expressions of faith. Our brothers and sisters in the Church know Christ very well; we would be better served evangelizing the side of a barn before directing our ignorance at the Catholic Church.

  • Linda

    Roman Catholic do not believe a person is justified by faith alone in Christ alone, they add works. How we are justified before God is a matter of eternal consequences, this doctrine cannot be compromised.

    • Kevin

      How we are saved is indeed of eternal consequence, but can the eternal be so encapsulated within doctrine? It’s not doctrine that saves us, nor is it really what we believe that saves us, but God’s will to save, period. Are you saying that if someone loves Christ, lives by the Word of God, and yet imagines their own salvation in different terms than yourself, you would not join them in community?

      • Linda

        The core doctrine of the Reformation is a person is “justified by faith alone in Christ alone” not in faith and works/sacraments, and not in Jesus and Mary, this doctrine can never be compromised. This is what separates the Protestants and the Roman Catholics, if you compromise on this doctrine than you are nothing more than a Roman Catholic. Roman Catholics are not to be considers brothers and sisters in Christ, they need to be evangelized.

      • Kevin

        What is faith if it does not result in the outward manifestations of love? The Church does not preach that people are saved by works, simply that those who claim to have faith but never show love (including for themselves) have no faith at all. They participate in the sacraments out of devotion and because those practices are what the Church believes are important expressions of faith. Our brothers and sisters in the Church know Christ very well; we would be better served evangelizing the side of a barn before directing our ignorance at the Catholic Church.

  • Dan

    I agree Richard. I am convinced there are Calvinists out there that think they have all the answers who will find themselves in Hell, because they actually don’t know Christ. The same is true for some Catholics. I certainly believe that there are some in all Christ following churches/denominations that are truly children of God, and some that are children of wrath. It’s a terrifying thought, that coincides with (to me) the most terrifying verse/statement in the Bible, where Jesus says to those who ‘did miracles in His name’–”I never knew you”. I believe we are known by our fruit. I believe there is “correct” theology, but in the end, since we are limited in our knowledge about the mysterious things of God, even the people who are closest to the absolute truths of the Bible still don’t know absolutely everything. I can’t help but to look for and strive for knowing the closest to the truth that is humanly possible, because even a child of God can be very much in error about how they became a child of God. And I think it’s important to at least TRY to know HOW we came to faith and salvation.

    I have gone over to the Calvinist/Reformed side, which it seems you have a bit of disdain for, and I understand that, because it does carry with it a certain element of “I finally figured it out”, and “you all need to be enlightened like me”. I hate that, and I think it IS harmful. However, I also think there is an element, with what feels like a repeated “calling out” of the Calvinist tradition on this blog, of you having figured things out too, but in a more ecumenical way. Does that not carry with it a bit of a closed-mindedness in the name of open-mindedness? I’m sorry to say it feels that way to me.

    At the end of the day I know there are Arminian and Calvinist and Catholic and Anglican and Pentecostal…and…. brothers and sisters who believe in Christ, and are saved by Him. Praise God for that.

    Thank you for your thoughts which are always interesting. I’m glad we’re brothers in the Faith.

  • Dan

    I agree Richard. I am convinced there are Calvinists out there that think they have all the answers who will find themselves in Hell, because they actually don’t know Christ. The same is true for some Catholics. I certainly believe that there are some in all Christ following churches/denominations that are truly children of God, and some that are children of wrath. It’s a terrifying thought, that coincides with (to me) the most terrifying verse/statement in the Bible, where Jesus says to those who ‘did miracles in His name’–”I never knew you”. I believe we are known by our fruit. I believe there is “correct” theology, but in the end, since we are limited in our knowledge about the mysterious things of God, even the people who are closest to the absolute truths of the Bible still don’t know absolutely everything. I can’t help but to look for and strive for knowing the closest to the truth that is humanly possible, because even a child of God can be very much in error about how they became a child of God. And I think it’s important to at least TRY to know HOW we came to faith and salvation.

    I have gone over to the Calvinist/Reformed side, which it seems you have a bit of disdain for, and I understand that, because it does carry with it a certain element of “I finally figured it out”, and “you all need to be enlightened like me”. I hate that, and I think it IS harmful. However, I also think there is an element, with what feels like a repeated “calling out” of the Calvinist tradition on this blog, of you having figured things out too, but in a more ecumenical way. Does that not carry with it a bit of a closed-mindedness in the name of open-mindedness? I’m sorry to say it feels that way to me.

    At the end of the day I know there are Arminian and Calvinist and Catholic and Anglican and Pentecostal…and…. brothers and sisters who believe in Christ, and are saved by Him. Praise God for that.

    Thank you for your thoughts which are always interesting. I’m glad we’re brothers in the Faith.

  • http://www.somaorangecounty.com Sara

    Thanks for this post Richard. Ryan and I have been troubled as of late to see many of our friends fall out of friendship with one another due to differences in theology. It pains us to see any “side” focus so much on proving who’s right that in the end it is only the Church Body and it’s work here on earth that is damaged. After having lived in the Middle East for some time, we have determined that “throwing rocks” at our opponents whether Jew or Muslim, Christian or Catholic, Armenian or Calvinist, will never win any battles. Therefore I will refrain from doing so in my comments here. Your thoughts were a good reminder and an encouragement today – thanks for sharing and blessings from Southern California to you and your family!

    • Dan

      Sara,
      Ironic as it may be, if you’ve read anything I’ve written on this blog before, I agree with you completely. I feel I need to repent of my need to “win” arguments and theological discussions. I appreciated your take. It brought me back to earth, where I need to be brought to sometimes. Thanks.
      Blessings.

  • http://www.somaorangecounty.com Sara

    Thanks for this post Richard. Ryan and I have been troubled as of late to see many of our friends fall out of friendship with one another due to differences in theology. It pains us to see any “side” focus so much on proving who’s right that in the end it is only the Church Body and it’s work here on earth that is damaged. After having lived in the Middle East for some time, we have determined that “throwing rocks” at our opponents whether Jew or Muslim, Christian or Catholic, Armenian or Calvinist, will never win any battles. Therefore I will refrain from doing so in my comments here. Your thoughts were a good reminder and an encouragement today – thanks for sharing and blessings from Southern California to you and your family!

    • Dan

      Sara,
      Ironic as it may be, if you’ve read anything I’ve written on this blog before, I agree with you completely. I feel I need to repent of my need to “win” arguments and theological discussions. I appreciated your take. It brought me back to earth, where I need to be brought to sometimes. Thanks.
      Blessings.

  • Graham

    I’m having a hard time relating to this post. Or maybe at least to how the comments so far are framing it… Perhaps I’m not a pastor and thus charged spiritual controversies aren’t thrust apon me by say a calvinists or armenians (which I imagine happens a lot), or perhaps my friends (even theologically minded ones) aren’t quick to overally argues their points…
    I just see Seattle/the NW in general as VERY pluralistic and post-modern in nature already, which one could argue is eccumenicalism in its extreme. And I’m sure that “Seattle” culutre seeps into local churches.. I guess I’m saying I worry about the pendulum swinging the other way if you know what I mean.
    The reason more people don’t put their faith into action is not in-fighting (majority of the time) but just laziness, apathy and a lack of passion. I could be self-projecting here and blind to this apparant antagonism, but that’s just what I’ve observed. I think people are just more concerned about themselves than about the “darkness that is covering the world,” at least I know I struggle with self-absorbtion and looking beyond myself towards the needs of hurting others and I doubt I’m alone in that…
    That said I’m going to go read me some CK Chesterton and Henri Nouwen…

  • Graham

    I’m having a hard time relating to this post. Or maybe at least to how the comments so far are framing it… Perhaps I’m not a pastor and thus charged spiritual controversies aren’t thrust apon me by say a calvinists or armenians (which I imagine happens a lot), or perhaps my friends (even theologically minded ones) aren’t quick to overally argues their points…
    I just see Seattle/the NW in general as VERY pluralistic and post-modern in nature already, which one could argue is eccumenicalism in its extreme. And I’m sure that “Seattle” culutre seeps into local churches.. I guess I’m saying I worry about the pendulum swinging the other way if you know what I mean.
    The reason more people don’t put their faith into action is not in-fighting (majority of the time) but just laziness, apathy and a lack of passion. I could be self-projecting here and blind to this apparant antagonism, but that’s just what I’ve observed. I think people are just more concerned about themselves than about the “darkness that is covering the world,” at least I know I struggle with self-absorbtion and looking beyond myself towards the needs of hurting others and I doubt I’m alone in that…
    That said I’m going to go read me some CK Chesterton and Henri Nouwen…

  • Hannah

    Richard, thanks for this post. I really don’t know a lot about theology and what all of the big words you used even mean but I hope that when confronted with darkness I too will be ” passionate for “doing justice”, “loving mercy”, and “walking humbly with God”, be intent on the pursuit of “love from a pure heart, with a good conscience and a sincere faith”

  • Hannah

    Richard, thanks for this post. I really don’t know a lot about theology and what all of the big words you used even mean but I hope that when confronted with darkness I too will be ” passionate for “doing justice”, “loving mercy”, and “walking humbly with God”, be intent on the pursuit of “love from a pure heart, with a good conscience and a sincere faith”

  • Lamont

    Quote:
    “I pray to God that we learn from this because I see similarly destructive ‘in fighting’ unfolding in this age between the neo-Calvinists and the Emergent church.”

    “I pray to God that we learn from this because I see similarly destructive ‘in fighting’ unfolding in this age between the Apostle Paul and the Judaizers.”

    1 Rodney 1:1 Can’t we all just get along?”

    Not if it’s sacrificing “TRUTH” on the alter of Unity!

    Paul didn’t! We shouldn’t.

    • Glenda

      So, based upon your Rodney King reference, are you saying that Christians should riot?

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        Oh boy, I hope this is a joke

      • Lamont

        Did Rodney riot?

      • Glenda

        No, he just got the living s**t beat out of him, saw those that beat him acquitted, and then watched as a city tore itself to pieces because of the outrage of this injustice. Is this what you want for the church?

      • Lamont

        Glenda.
        if I say yes, would you refuse to fellowship w/me?
        And if so, based on what? Our difference in …… Doctrine?

      • Glenda

        Honestly, if that was your desire for the church then I think that I would simply feel sadness, an emotional response prompted by the fact that you and I are in fellowship regardless of any effort otherwise.

    • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

      Lamont, I spent hours typing up long responses to this blog, and you did what I did in probably 5 minutes.

      I’d also like to add that I posted a bunch of “intolerant Nazi” verses from Jesus, the apostles, and the OT law which weren’t allowed because they showed how it’s very much okay and in fact preferable to defend the sheep against heresy.

      As A.W. Tozer would say:
      “Unless the weight of the [moral] burden is felt, the gospel can mean nothing to the man. And until he sees a vision of God high and lifted up, there will be no woe and no burden. Low views of God destroy the Gospel for all who hold them.”

      As such, I agree with you, brother Lamont. As I said earlier: “It is better to suffer alone in Christ than to join a parade of fools.”

    • raincitypastor

      Of course… but the question is this: is the chasm between the emergent church and neo-calvinists as wide the chasm between Paul and the Judaizers? Is that what you’re saying? If so… then so be it. We see the world differently. I always thought that the basis for fellowship should be one’s willingness to adhere to the apostle’s creed… you know, stuff like the deity and humanity of Christ, and the centrality of Christ as the basis for salvation – I find these elements in lots of places.

      • Linda

        The emergent church embraces homosexuality, they say that it is not a sin, how can a real Christian embrace that, and say this person is a brother or sister in Christ?

      • Lamont

        RCP.
        Lets take Roman Catholicism. They preach a different gospel! They need to be a group that we evangelize, and not “let bygones be bygones” attitude. As Linda (above) correctly pointed out, Rome preach’s a gospel of works. Sure, I can find elements of all that in Rome! In fact, I can find those same elements in Joesph Smith! Just as I can find those very same elements in the emergent church. John MacAurthur, John Piper, Michael Horton, Sproul & etc… have great concerns about this movement. That should at least send up a red flag on this group!

        God Bless you, and yours!

      • Dan

        …and then there’s this, by Shane Claiborne. This, and what Richard says, does make all our theology “fighting” seem ridiculous. The world is perishing and we fight to show we know the answers. But I, ashamedly, DO very little. I’m ashamed of myself.

        By Shane Claiborne

        To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.

        Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of God.

        The other night I headed into downtown Philly for a stroll with some friends from out of town. We walked down to Penn’s Landing along the river, where there are street performers, artists, musicians. We passed a great magician who did some pretty sweet tricks like pour change out of his iPhone, and then there was a preacher. He wasn’t quite as captivating as the magician. He stood on a box, yelling into a microphone, and beside him was a coffin with a fake dead body inside. He talked about how we are all going to die and go to hell if we don’t know Jesus.

        Some folks snickered. Some told him to shut the hell up. A couple of teenagers tried to steal the dead body in the coffin. All I could do was think to myself, I want to jump up on a box beside him and yell at the top of my lungs, “God is not a monster.” Maybe next time I will.

        The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination. But over the past few decades our Christianity, at least here in the United States, has become less and less fascinating. We have given the atheists less and less to disbelieve. And the sort of Christianity many of us have seen on TV and heard on the radio looks less and less like Jesus.

        At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, “I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ.” A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That’s the ugly stuff. And that’s why I begin by saying that I’m sorry.

        Now for the good news.

        I want to invite you to consider that maybe the televangelists and street preachers are wrong — and that God really is love. Maybe the fruits of the Spirit really are beautiful things like peace, patience, kindness, joy, love, goodness, and not the ugly things that have come to characterize religion, or politics, for that matter. (If there is anything I have learned from liberals and conservatives, it’s that you can have great answers and still be mean… and that just as important as being right is being nice.)

        The Bible that I read says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it… it was because “God so loved the world.” That is the God I know, and I long for others to know. I did not choose to devote my life to Jesus because I was scared to death of hell or because I wanted crowns in heaven… but because he is good. For those of you who are on a sincere spiritual journey, I hope that you do not reject Christ because of Christians. We have always been a messed-up bunch, and somehow God has survived the embarrassing things we do in His name. At the core of our “Gospel” is the message that Jesus came “not [for] the healthy… but the sick.” And if you choose Jesus, may it not be simply because of a fear of hell or hope for mansions in heaven.

        Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in the afterlife, but too often all the church has done is promise the world that there is life after death and use it as a ticket to ignore the hells around us. I am convinced that the Christian Gospel has as much to do with this life as the next, and that the message of that Gospel is not just about going up when we die but about bringing God’s Kingdom down. It was Jesus who taught us to pray that God’s will be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” On earth.

        One of Jesus’ most scandalous stories is the story of the Good Samaritan. As sentimental as we may have made it, the original story was about a man who gets beat up and left on the side of the road. A priest passes by. A Levite, the quintessential religious guy, also passes by on the other side (perhaps late for a meeting at church). And then comes the Samaritan… you can almost imagine a snicker in the Jewish crowd. Jews did not talk to Samaritans, or even walk through Samaria. But the Samaritan stops and takes care of the guy in the ditch and is lifted up as the hero of the story. I’m sure some of the listeners were ticked. According to the religious elite, Samaritans did not keep the right rules, and they did not have sound doctrine… but Jesus shows that true faith has to work itself out in a way that is Good News to the most bruised and broken person lying in the ditch.

        It is so simple, but the pious forget this lesson constantly. God may indeed be evident in a priest, but God is just as likely to be at work through a Samaritan or a prostitute. In fact the Scripture is brimful of God using folks like a lying prostitute named Rahab, an adulterous king named David… at one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. Some say God spoke to Balaam through his ass and has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves. And if upon meeting someone we think God could never use, we should think again.

        After all, Jesus says to the religious elite who looked down on everybody else: “The tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom ahead of you.” And we wonder what got him killed?

        I have a friend in the UK who talks about “dirty theology” — that we have a God who is always using dirt to bring life and healing and redemption, a God who shows up in the most unlikely and scandalous ways. After all, the whole story begins with God reaching down from heaven, picking up some dirt, and breathing life into it. At one point, Jesus takes some mud, spits in it, and wipes it on a blind man’s eyes to heal him. (The priests and producers of anointing oil were not happy that day.)

        In fact, the entire story of Jesus is about a God who did not just want to stay “out there” but who moves into the neighborhood, a neighborhood where folks said, “Nothing good could come.” It is this Jesus who was accused of being a glutton and drunkard and rabble-rouser for hanging out with all of society’s rejects, and who died on the imperial cross of Rome reserved for bandits and failed messiahs. This is why the triumph over the cross was a triumph over everything ugly we do to ourselves and to others. It is the final promise that love wins.

        It is this Jesus who was born in a stank manger in the middle of a genocide. That is the God that we are just as likely to find in the streets as in the sanctuary, who can redeem revolutionaries and tax collectors, the oppressed and the oppressors… a God who is saving some of us from the ghettos of poverty, and some of us from the ghettos of wealth.

        In closing, to those who have closed the door on religion — I was recently asked by a non-Christian friend if I thought he was going to hell. I said, “I hope not. It will be hard to enjoy heaven without you.” If those of us who believe in God do not believe God’s grace is big enough to save the whole world… well, we should at least pray that it is.

        Your brother,

        Shane

        Read more: http://www.esquire.com/features/best-and-brightest-2009/shane-claiborne-1209#ixzz0YeyprbP4

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        Jesus according to the post and comments:

        “Hello children of earth, my name is Jesus. You may have heard about me from my most notable and trustworthy work: the apostles’ creed. It was not written by any of my apostles.

        Since I’m God, there’s been a lot of speculation about what I like and dislike, and what I am like and what I am not like (since bigots like the Apostle Peter think that sort of thing is important [2 Peter 2]), but this is a bunch of hobgob. There’s absolutely no way that a God who was loving and just would ever tell people that He has clear and specific standards they always fail to achieve, or that failing those standards is abhorrent.

        Why would I ever tell everyone what my character is like? If I cannot explain all of my character to you in writing, I wouldn’t explain ANY of it clearly in writing. This is because the process of following me is not dependent upon your perception of me, and thus telling people false things about me isn’t worth fighting over.

        This is why I died for you: so that you can make up your own minds about me and everyone can feel good about the ways they behave. Unless of course the way you behave is holding “prophets” and “apostles” and “scripture” above my own personal emotional revelations to everyone (which you cannot understand anyway since you stated that I am beyond your understanding). As God, clear communication is a serious problem for me, so I never bother to do so in a way that can be understood by more than one person. I’m only God, after all.

        Actually, there was one time when I tried to tell you this. It was when I came to earth and the Pharisees nailed me to the cross for telling them that doctrines and opinions about me don’t matter. You can tell this is what I was trying to say because both my apostles and I never confronted anyone on anything other than about the problem of confronting people. Esquire had a great article about that.

        And even if I did confront people about something that SEEMED straightforward, there’s no way you could ever come to a solid conclusion on what I meant, and there’s no way this lack of a conclusion could harm the church. Perceptions, people! Paul said that “the body of Christ” means everyone’s got a different one, and they’re all going in the same direction (or was that Buddha? Can’t remember).

        So anyway, it’s a good thing you’re finally getting more moral without the Bible. Your progress is actually very impressive, especially for a people who claim that no clear divine standards exist, yet for some reason presuppose a universal standard by which they judge their progress. People might ask: are you moving forward or backward? I must ask you to please not consult the Bible, since it was written by people whose perceptions are subjective, which means their writings definitely couldn’t have been from me.

        As such, do not confront others according to their own personal responses, unless you are okay with killing Jews by the millions. No matter what anyone says, humility and love isn’t taking taking abuse for trying to tell people about me and my undefinable values, it is admitting that those people could be right and that everything is okay!

        Sincerely,
        The Dev–er…Jesus”

        If framing these words in Jesus’ mouth made you feel sick, then don’t say He said them. This is the very purpose of having the term “heresy”: to keep people from trampling over Jesus’ holy name and slandering His character. When the discussion about God involves His reputation, expect confrontations. After all, He is not a joke.

      • Glenda

        Jeremy, do you hate yourself? It seems like, at the very least, you have a hard time loving yourself.

  • Lamont

    Quote:
    “I pray to God that we learn from this because I see similarly destructive ‘in fighting’ unfolding in this age between the neo-Calvinists and the Emergent church.”

    “I pray to God that we learn from this because I see similarly destructive ‘in fighting’ unfolding in this age between the Apostle Paul and the Judaizers.”

    1 Rodney 1:1 Can’t we all just get along?”

    Not if it’s sacrificing “TRUTH” on the alter of Unity!

    Paul didn’t! We shouldn’t.

    • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

      Lamont, I spent hours typing up long responses to this blog, and you did what I did in probably 5 minutes.

      I’d also like to add that I posted a bunch of “intolerant Nazi” verses from Jesus, the apostles, and the OT law which weren’t allowed because they showed how it’s very much okay and in fact preferable to defend the sheep against heresy.

      As A.W. Tozer would say:
      “Unless the weight of the [moral] burden is felt, the gospel can mean nothing to the man. And until he sees a vision of God high and lifted up, there will be no woe and no burden. Low views of God destroy the Gospel for all who hold them.”

      As such, I agree with you, brother Lamont. As I said earlier: “It is better to suffer alone in Christ than to join a parade of fools.”

      • Richard Dahlstrom

        Jeremy… what are you talking about? I haven’t moderated a single comment on this post, haven’t removed anything. Don’t know what you’re referring to, but you’re wrong in assuming that whatever you offered ‘wasn’t allowed’, and so of course, you’re also wrong to presume the rationale for which they were censored.

        I only wish I had the time to respond to all the comments you and Kevin are offering, but I don’t, so I need to be content, for the time being to let the conversation flow along the lines of the purposes for which this blog exists: musings.

        But please don’t attache motives of censorship to me for something I’ve not censored. OK?

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        Whoa whoa whoa whoa… my sincerest apologies! To everyone on this page, I want to let you know that Richard did NOT censor my post. But the post is still “awaiting moderation.”

        Richard is not at fault here. I’ll just repost it :)

  • Dan

    Linda,

    Although I disagree with a lot of what the Emergent church has become, that’s a pretty broad stroke you’re painting. I don’t think there are any words in their charter, or whatever you want to call it, where they state that homosexuality is a sanctioned lifestyle of their churches.

    I would say that the reason I have become a “Reformed” church attender is because those churces stick with Sola Scriptura, and they have Confessions that are centuries old that keep the doctrine where it should be. Something the Emergent church doesn’t seem to hold to or emphasize very much.

    What I have observed and liked about the Emergent church, especially in it’s beginnings, is the fact that they make everyone feel welcome, as they are, just as Jesus did. But Jesus, and most emergent churches, also show people the way, and tell them to “go and sin no more”. I don’t think there are many homosexuals in the pastor/deacon/elder capacity in these churches.

  • Dan

    Linda,

    Although I disagree with a lot of what the Emergent church has become, that’s a pretty broad stroke you’re painting. I don’t think there are any words in their charter, or whatever you want to call it, where they state that homosexuality is a sanctioned lifestyle of their churches.

    I would say that the reason I have become a “Reformed” church attender is because those churces stick with Sola Scriptura, and they have Confessions that are centuries old that keep the doctrine where it should be. Something the Emergent church doesn’t seem to hold to or emphasize very much.

    What I have observed and liked about the Emergent church, especially in it’s beginnings, is the fact that they make everyone feel welcome, as they are, just as Jesus did. But Jesus, and most emergent churches, also show people the way, and tell them to “go and sin no more”. I don’t think there are many homosexuals in the pastor/deacon/elder capacity in these churches.

  • http://girlwithflathat.blogspot.com Juliet

    I read your blog much more often than I comment, Richard, but this time I want to thank you for a wonderful post and for your constant expression of “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity.” I was reminded when I read the post and comments of the preface to C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, which I won’t quote but anyone who wishes can read and guess which parts I think are relevant. :D Peace be with you all.

  • http://girlwithflathat.blogspot.com Juliet

    I read your blog much more often than I comment, Richard, but this time I want to thank you for a wonderful post and for your constant expression of “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity.” I was reminded when I read the post and comments of the preface to C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, which I won’t quote but anyone who wishes can read and guess which parts I think are relevant. :D Peace be with you all.

  • Dan

    Jeremy,

    I agree with Glenda. You don’t sound very happy/liberated by Christ. The Esquire article you so glibly discarded as rubbish was talking about Christians really living like Christ instead of really doing a good job, in their homes, on their computers “making sure they understand every jot and tittle” of doctrine.

    I’ve been pretty outspoken on this blog about correct doctrine. Doctrine I think you and I agree on. But being correct and doing nothing is what Claiborne, in the article, was talking about. Like James says; faith without works is dead. Right? Mother Teresa, although in Hell because of her doctrine ;) , did things that looked like Christ/what He taught. And I think this is what Richard is trying to say.

    Is your “work” for Christ like the guy yelling through the megaphone to the masses, with a coffin next to him? I’m not assuming that is the case. Just asking. It would seem that you would be that guy.

    • Linda

      The guy with the megaphone proclaiming the gospel of Christ does not mind you thinking he is crazy, you know sometimes love makes you act that way….

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAonEaxg04Y&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

      • Dan

        nice little song. and I know Steven Curtis Chapman is a member of my church (denomination). My point is way beyond people brave enough to stand on street corners with megaphones. My point is that a lot of megaphone “preachers” are doing more damage than good, and making a mockery of Christ rather than representing Him, because when you carpet bomb people with the gospel, they don’t like you. I think you get a lot more opportunity to talk to people (share the gospel), when they trust you, and like you, because they know you.

        Frankly I just see a lot of assholes out there that are “Christians”. And I know I’ve been one of them myself. What a tragic combination of terms.

    • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

      Dan, all I’m trying to do is show you guys that if someone shows up and says that Jesus is a space-lemur sent by Zemu to make sinning irrelevant, and that He says we cannot stop holding hands in order to get into heaven, that you should say He isn’t. And if someone keeps saying that, that you should stop them, because other sheeple will probably listen. That’s all.

      All I want you guys to do is accept the Bible as God’s word and care about what people say about Him. I may not be super kind all the time (I need Jesus too, you know), but you have to admit I have a point: Jesus said He would reject a lot of His claimed “followers,” which means we have to pay VERY close attention to what He says in His word. I tell you this because I do love you, and I want to help my brothers and sisters, and have unity in them with the REAL Christ, not some imagined version.

      Even God rebukes those whom He loves, as mentioned in Hebrews, so just because I don’t write you love poems doesn’t mean I don’t care about you: if I didn’t care about you, I wouldn’t say anything at all. I’m sorry I haven’t been very nice about all this… I’m just a jerk sometimes, and I admit I need to clean up with that :)

      What do you think about this?

      http://americanclarity.com/2009/10/26/love-leviticus-and-logic/

      • Dan

        Jeremy,

        Dang it! I just wrote the most amazing thing I’ve ever written on this blog and I lost it! ;)

        So I’ll try to re-create it.

        I completely agree with the link you put at the end of your post. However, I think the “moralists” that want the world to act Christian are completely delusional. Why should people not sin? We live in a world of sin. It’s only Common Grace that keeps things from being completely out of control. It’s only God that awakens us to our depravity and saves us. A miracle.

        It seems to me that people like Dobson are calling out to the world and telling them to quit being homosexual or whatever…but…WHY would a person NOT be homosexual if they feel that’s what they are? If they don’t have Christ there is no basis for not doing most anything. After all, we simply evolved out of the slime, so what are we really but a cosmic accident? When that’s all we are, why have morals at all? (I know, in an evolutionary model our morals are there to preserve the human race…but that is a weak argument if you really take it to it’s ends).

        So I’m just saying that I am not surprised by sin, and neither is God. I’m intolerant of it in myself, but I still do it! I’m intolerant of it in other Christians, and I believe if a brother or sister in Christ persists in sin they should be confronted, asked/told to change, and after the steps are taken to help turn that brother or sister from the sin, if they don’t do it, they should be asked to leave the church.

        For people outside the church I think we should be loving them, no matter what, in Christ’s name. That is what He calls us to do. “Yelling” people to repentance doesn’t work. The world is a cesspool of sin, and into that sin, but by the grace of God, go I.

        As I think you and I agree, until God turns a man’s heart from stone to flesh, and GIVES him re-birth, he is completely lost and dead. So why are we expecting anything but sin from this state of things?

        Again, I agree 100% with the need to call Christians to follow the Bible 100%. But to call dead souls to quit their sinning, BEFORE they have been re-born seems counter-intuitive

        (That was nothing like what I lost…but the gist is there). :D

      • Becca

        Hey Jeremy,
        I wandered over to your blog the other day and read your comments on Uganda’s move to implement the death penalty against people who practice homosexuality. I’ve been keeping track of your comments on this post and we certainly disagree on a lot of points, which is fine. I know, though, that the truth is important to you, as it is to me. It seems to me that it is due to your adherence to parts of levitcal law that places you in opposition to homosexuality. It also seems that to support the death penalty is in opposition to the commandment against killing. I’m sure you have thought about this before. I’m aware there are instances where levitical law instructs us to punish with death, this however does not solve the dilemma because it seems as though this is an example of the Bible contradicting itself. How have you reconciled this?

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        Dan, I completely agree with you: no seriously positive change can happen within us until we become reconciled with God, and thus it might seem kinda silly at first glance to enforce Biblical morality. But the truth is that Jesus saves you from your sin, and until you recognize that you’re a dirty sinner, you’re not going to ask for salvation because you won’t think you need it. In John 16, Jesus Himself said that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict people of sin, truth, and God’s righteousness, leading them to Him. So maybe standing on a soapbox in the street isn’t effective (although I don’t have stats or anything, obviously), but those people have the right idea. Everyone preaches repentance in the Bible because Christianity is a religion of repentance, and you cannot understand the nature of God and be His servant without understanding that you are a selfish and prideful jerk. I go through this quite frequently ;)

        And if you were to take the whole “not enforcing Biblical morality upon the masses” stance, what that would effectively imply is that God’s standards are completely useless in the “real” world, as they do not assist in the orderly function of the human race. If Yahweh were truly God, wouldn’t His morals be kinda… useful?

        It would seem to me that although works do not save you, banning Christ from public standards would only make the world a worse place in which to live, and strip Christians of any right to live in a democratic society that reflects their values. And isn’t reflecting values what a democracy is SUPPOSED to do? And isn’t morality not for the people who are moral, but rather for those who do not recognize proper moral structure?

        It’s tough to keep the proper perspective in place while doing this, though. C.S. Lewis once said “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” And you know what? He’s right. Focus on Christ: He’s everything, and He’ll bring the blessings as He sees fit. Vote too, but don’t let the world be your everything. Thanks for such a good response!

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        Becca, you bring up some pretty good questions that I threw at my dad a little while back (I’ve only been a Christian for maybe a year or so), and I’m more than happy to answer you. Actually, I’m really excited that you asked :)

        The first thing you have to remember is that Levitical law isn’t from Moses: it’s from God (aka Jesus). If something is not from God and it claims to be from God, then it’s actually from the Devil. And if you agree that it is from God, and you disagree with it, you have to understand that you are claiming moral superiority to God because you believe He is immoral. That’s known as blasphemy.

        As such, when Leviticus gives the death penalty for sexual immorality and a cornucopia of other evils (Leviticus 20), it’s pretty clear that God is perfectly fine with killing people who commit abominable acts. Actually, to not kill them would be in violation of His timeless law.

        So how does this explain the command to not kill? Well, you should know that the Hebrew word “ratsakh” used in Exodus 20:13 refers to murder, not just the taking of life. “The verb רָצַח (ratsakh) refers to the premeditated or accidental taking of the life of another human being; it includes any unauthorized killing (it is used for the punishment of a murderer, but that would not be included in the prohibition). This commandment teaches the sanctity of all human life.” Here’s a great link with all the different translations.

        http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Exo&chapter=20&verse=13

        So anyway, taking lives in battle or as a result of lawful procedure is perfectly healthy and Godly, and if you believe that God gave us the Old Testament (which Jesus confirms in Matthew 5:17-20), then you have to agree with God on this one. If God is supremely good and incapable of wrongdoing or contradiction, his command to execute homosexuals is too. If God is changing His moral stances, then He either did not or does not understand proper morality, which is something I would not dare to claim.

        But if this doesn’t convince you, here is my rebuttal against the Human Rights Campaign’s “Biblical homosexual advocacy” course. This is about as scholarly as you can get.

        http://americanclarity.com/2009/10/08/hrc-gay-bible/

  • Dan

    Jeremy,

    I agree with Glenda. You don’t sound very happy/liberated by Christ. The Esquire article you so glibly discarded as rubbish was talking about Christians really living like Christ instead of really doing a good job, in their homes, on their computers “making sure they understand every jot and tittle” of doctrine.

    I’ve been pretty outspoken on this blog about correct doctrine. Doctrine I think you and I agree on. But being correct and doing nothing is what Claiborne, in the article, was talking about. Like James says; faith without works is dead. Right? Mother Teresa, although in Hell because of her doctrine ;) , did things that looked like Christ/what He taught. And I think this is what Richard is trying to say.

    Is your “work” for Christ like the guy yelling through the megaphone to the masses, with a coffin next to him? I’m not assuming that is the case. Just asking. It would seem that you would be that guy.

  • Lamont

    Glenda…. Do you love yourself?
    If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, “even his own life”—he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26 Jesus Christ.(emphesis mine).

    Thanks Jeremy, you nailed it!

    Soli Dei Gloria!

    • Glenda

      Lamont, of course I love myself: I am a child of God, what’s not to love? Sure, I am estranged from my Creator but the so-called “total depravity” of humanity does not mean that I’m wretched or somehow unworthy. We’re brothers and sisters of the first-born of all creation, why not love ourselves?

      • Lamont

        1.Glenda, did you read the words of Jesus in Luke 14:26?
        How do you deal w/what he wrote?

        2.Why would God let “you” into heaven?
        Is it because your worthy?

      • Glenda

        1. Of course I read the passage: love and hate are often two sides of the same coin when it comes to reconciliation with God, one drawing us towards the Divine and the other severing those which bind us to our mortality. In human relationships, this means being drawn to the presence of God in other individuals without becoming attached to their flesh. This is a means for communities to be drawn together in healthy ways, not a reason to kick people out.

        2. I could care less about heaven if I have to live through hell on earth in order to reach it. The Kingdom of God is here, among us, and I live as one who has been redeemed by the power of that Kingdom. Why? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. Am I worthy? Save that question for God, because I remain blessedly ignorant of God’s motives. If I venture a guess, though, I would think that there must be something worthwhile about me, something about me worth redeeming, otherwise God is an idiot. I don’t think that I in any way created that something–whatever it may be–and I don’t understand why it is so valuable for God to go to such trouble to redeem and save it. Again, not really my concern. I don’t need to know how the feast was prepared in order to sit down and enjoy it.

    • Dan

      Wow Lamont, that couldn’t have been a better placement of that verse.

  • Nicole

    ‘Therefore, rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.’
    Titus 1:13

    At some point in seeking to expose the lies of this unbelieving age and to make new room for the Truth of God to flourish and bear fruit, we’re going to have to take on those who are promulgating the Lie in its various forms, whether they are within the church or without. Just as Jesus fearlessly exposed the folly of His detractors (Matt. 12:22-29) and Paul instructed Timothy to correct those who were in the grip of the father of lies (2 Tim. 2:24-26), so we, too, need to be ready to stand up to the Lie, expose its folly, and call its bluff. (T. M. Moore)

    Coming from a Mormon background I can tell you that they most definitely believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, they do great things in the world, and are usually very nice people, but there is a HUGE difference between the doctrine of the LDS church and the true doctrine of the real church of Jesus Christ. Not only is it important to talk about these differences, it could mean life or death eternally for these people. It is dangerous to leave people be with their misinformation and wrong beliefs of the church. I certainly believe in unity within the body of Christ. I think it is so exciting to think of all of us working together for God’s kingdom, but if you leave people in their obvious darkness, you are leaving them to the slaughter.

  • Nicole

    ‘Therefore, rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.’
    Titus 1:13

    At some point in seeking to expose the lies of this unbelieving age and to make new room for the Truth of God to flourish and bear fruit, we’re going to have to take on those who are promulgating the Lie in its various forms, whether they are within the church or without. Just as Jesus fearlessly exposed the folly of His detractors (Matt. 12:22-29) and Paul instructed Timothy to correct those who were in the grip of the father of lies (2 Tim. 2:24-26), so we, too, need to be ready to stand up to the Lie, expose its folly, and call its bluff. (T. M. Moore)

    Coming from a Mormon background I can tell you that they most definitely believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, they do great things in the world, and are usually very nice people, but there is a HUGE difference between the doctrine of the LDS church and the true doctrine of the real church of Jesus Christ. Not only is it important to talk about these differences, it could mean life or death eternally for these people. It is dangerous to leave people be with their misinformation and wrong beliefs of the church. I certainly believe in unity within the body of Christ. I think it is so exciting to think of all of us working together for God’s kingdom, but if you leave people in their obvious darkness, you are leaving them to the slaughter.

  • Nicole

    Earlier this year I wrote an e-mail to you, Richard, in regards to my concern over some of the ideas, beliefs you were sharing with your congregation. I think the same still applies today.

    Good Morning Pastor Dahlstrom,

    Thank you for your response. Please understand that I was not trying to argue with you- I feel deeply about my faith and want to do God’s will. I know that Satan tries to deceive us, not only through the “usual suspects” but also through Christian people and the like. MY concern is with God’s people. I want for us to all be strong in the Lord and know of His word and live it, wholeheartedly.

    I have always been a Christian but fell away in my teenage years. I have regained my faith within the last few years and it has been amazing. God has blessed my life so much- even during the hard times. I have learned to turn away from my worldly and lustful desires because I love God and Jesus’ sacrifice for me.

    It is tough to be a Christian because one minute I feel I’m doing a good job, the next I feel down because of something I thought or did. Take this email, for example. I am so grateful for everything that God has done for my life and I want to protect His word and His plan. I don’t want anyone or anything to tamper with it because it is perfect and beautiful. The reason for my first email was to just express my concern for the health of the church and the Christian faith. But upon receiving your response I felt an immense feeling of regret. I certainly did not want to offend you or be malicious in a challenge, I just want to protect what I believe to be Holy.

    I’m sure you are familiar with Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ radio program. This week she has been focusing on how Satan deceives people. He even uses people of the faith and in the faith to subtly get into people’s minds. That really scares me. I expect the world and people of the world to do those things but it breaks my heart to think of Satan using God’s people to spread his lies.

    The city of Troy is a picture of many of our minds and our hearts, because the battle really is in our mind, and what we think determines who we are and how we live. What some of us don’t realize is we have an enemy.

    We know it intellectually, but we don’t realize how endlessly and relentlessly and tirelessly that enemy is working to capture our hearts and our minds and our relationships.

    Many times he doesn’t have to use force to conquer us. He often uses subtle, deceptive means. Because if he came in very obvious ways, we would recognize his attempts and we would resist his efforts. So he worms his way into our lives, our thoughts, our culture, by deceptive means that are subtle, that sometimes come disguised as gifts—things we think will be good for us, things we think will be helpful, things we think will be blessings—and they turn out to be very, very dangerous, something that is harmful.

    The main concern I had with our differing viewpoints is that of acceptance. Jesus called for us to accept and love all His people and I try to do that every single day. But Jesus did not call for us to accept the sin that people choose to partake in. If we, as Christian’s believe something to be right or wrong, we need to stand up for that. I would hope that people really distinguish the difference between accepting and loving our fellow brethren from loving and accepting their sins. I know not to judge, as I myself am not perfect, but we must not condone immoral behavior.

    Again, I appreciate your response- I do apologize if I came off rude. This email comes with a spirit of concern and love. Please keep preaching God’s amazing word!!

  • Lamont

    Nicole,
    (I hope I didn’t miss understand you?)
    I too come from a Mormon background ( my Uncle Carl is a bishop in the church).
    The god they believe in Was a man who ‘became” “GOD”, and their Jesus was this god’s “created son.”
    The God of the bible was “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2) As is Jesus! Col 1, Jn 1.
    The Jesus they believe in, “does not exist!
    Very deceptive church (the LDS) and the followers are decieved! Their Jesus doesn’t save.
    Agree?

    Take care!

    • Nicole

      I couldn’t agree more, Lamont!

      Thank you, Jesus for helping me see the light!

      My Mom still considers herself Mormon. She isn’t practicing but the same beliefs are there. I was speaking to her last week and said that she needed to accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior. I said that I loved her so much and wanted her to go to heaven. She said she already did, but according to the Mormon’s, she can willfully sin and then after she dies repent and still be saved. She thinks it’s okay to do whatever you want, disregard everything the bible says and then still be able to make it to one of the 3 kingdoms of heaven.

      I still have some friends in the church and like I said, some of them are great people who seem to love God, but the thing is the religion is downright dangerous. People are relying on something other than Jesus as their Lord and Savior, as the one and only God of the bible.

      As much as I love these people in my life, I am not going to pussyfoot around the issues and be in unity with them in regards to religion just for unity’s sake. These are people’s souls we are dealing with!

  • Dan

    Becca,

    LOL that you read the Bible’s stance on homosexuality as “Levitical”. That is hilarious! Paul should be discarded I guess, cuz he’s not Jesus?

    • Becca

      I’m aware that Paul has an opinion on the matter. Jeremy had previously referenced Levitcal law (which certainly says something on the issue) and my question remains, whether he bases his position on Levitical law or Paul’s teachings. Thanks for laughing at my question though. To me it’s a serious quandary. I’m not questioning his stance on homosexuality I’m questioning his support of the death penalty for those who practice homosexuality.

    • Dan

      …and I should say here, I meant “you read the Bible’s (new testament) stance on homosexuality as “levitical”.

      Remember, when Christ came he actually showed the law to be even more strict than the Pharisies saw it (adultery, murder, etc. became a matter of the heart, not only the action).

      So, since Jesus showed us we were incapable of keeping the law in any way, He saved us from the impossible task. After He saves us though, we need to be changed. One change is understanding that we are all equally depraved, no matter what our sin.

      And, of course, we don’t go stoning people for their sin. You know, the old log in your own eye before you can take the speck out of your brother’s?

      I’ll let Jeremy answer your question though, since you asked him, and it seems to have a combo of questions, concerning both homosexuality and the death penalty. (Perhaps this is stemming from Rick Warren who did not completely condemn the preacher in Africa who thinks homosexuals should be killed for their lifestyle)?

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        Dan, thanks :) This actually DOES stem from the Rick Warren Uganda “crisis,” and is a response to my article about it here:

        http://americanclarity.com/2009/12/03/why-rachel-maddow-is-wrong-about-ugandas-anti-gay-bill/

        I wrote this using as little Biblical argument as possible, as an attempt to convince nonbelievers of the temporal ramifications of homosexuality. It didn’t really work, as you might have guessed.

        But anyway, I tried posting a reply to Becca twice, and this page isn’t allowing my comments to go through. Don’t know why, but both you and Becca should know that I replied (kindly), and Richard is going to fix it!

  • Dan

    Becca,

    LOL that you read the Bible’s stance on homosexuality as “Levitical”. That is hilarious! Paul should be discarded I guess, cuz he’s not Jesus?

    • Dan

      …and I should say here, I meant “you read the Bible’s (new testament) stance on homosexuality as “levitical”.

      Remember, when Christ came he actually showed the law to be even more strict than the Pharisies saw it (adultery, murder, etc. became a matter of the heart, not only the action).

      So, since Jesus showed us we were incapable of keeping the law in any way, He saved us from the impossible task. After He saves us though, we need to be changed. One change is understanding that we are all equally depraved, no matter what our sin.

      And, of course, we don’t go stoning people for their sin. You know, the old log in your own eye before you can take the speck out of your brother’s?

      I’ll let Jeremy answer your question though, since you asked him, and it seems to have a combo of questions, concerning both homosexuality and the death penalty. (Perhaps this is stemming from Rick Warren who did not completely condemn the preacher in Africa who thinks homosexuals should be killed for their lifestyle)?

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        Dan, thanks :) This actually DOES stem from the Rick Warren Uganda “crisis,” and is a response to my article about it here:

        http://americanclarity.com/2009/12/03/why-rachel-maddow-is-wrong-about-ugandas-anti-gay-bill/

        I wrote this using as little Biblical argument as possible, as an attempt to convince nonbelievers of the temporal ramifications of homosexuality. It didn’t really work, as you might have guessed.

        But anyway, I tried posting a reply to Becca twice, and this page isn’t allowing my comments to go through. Don’t know why, but both you and Becca should know that I replied (kindly), and Richard is going to fix it!

  • Dan

    Becca,

    Paul’s “opinion” on the matter is canonical, God-inspired scripture.

    I laughed at your response because I figured one of two things could be the only posssible reason for the tone of your question:

    1. You had to be joking, so I was laughing along with you.

    or

    2. You are assuming the way Jeremy feels, and are baiting him in some way.

    Either way is funny, because it’s ridiculous.

  • Dan

    Becca,

    Paul’s “opinion” on the matter is canonical, God-inspired scripture.

    I laughed at your response because I figured one of two things could be the only posssible reason for the tone of your question:

    1. You had to be joking, so I was laughing along with you.

    or

    2. You are assuming the way Jeremy feels, and are baiting him in some way.

    Either way is funny, because it’s ridiculous.

  • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

    Hey Richard!

    For some reason, some comments I’ve posted aren’t showing up, and just say they’re “awaiting moderation.” I’ve got a great one for Becca that’s just sitting around :(

    Also, my wife posted a couple of comments and one of them disappeared and then came back the other day, so I think something funky’s going on with the site. I think this is why I thought you deleted my comment the other day! My sincere apologies… I had the wrong guy!

    Is there any way you could moderate my postings so they show up?

    • Becca

      Jeremy, I had a similar problem when I tried to comment on your blog, which is really where my comment should be.

      Since this original post is on ecumenism, something I truly long for, I just want to wish everyone a happy Sunday, no matter what church you attend today (and even if you don’t).

      Peace.

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        My sincerest apologies, Becca. Would you like to repost it? It adds to the blog greatly, and I don’t get many comments (I’m not as lovable as Dahlstrom).

  • Lamont

    RCP.
    Lets take Roman Catholicism. They preach a different gospel! They need to be a group that we evangelize, and not “let bygones be bygones” attitude. As Linda (above) correctly pointed out, Rome preach’s a gospel of works. Sure, I can find elements of all that in Rome! In fact, I can find those same elements in Joesph Smith! Just as I can find those very same elements in the emergent church. John MacAurthur, John Piper, Michael Horton, Sproul & etc… have great concerns about this movement. That should at least send up a red flag on this group!

    God Bless you, and yours!

  • Dan

    …and then there’s this, by Shane Claiborne. This, and what Richard says, does make all our theology “fighting” seem ridiculous. The world is perishing and we fight to show we know the answers. But I, ashamedly, DO very little. I’m ashamed of myself.

    By Shane Claiborne

    To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.

    Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of God.

    The other night I headed into downtown Philly for a stroll with some friends from out of town. We walked down to Penn’s Landing along the river, where there are street performers, artists, musicians. We passed a great magician who did some pretty sweet tricks like pour change out of his iPhone, and then there was a preacher. He wasn’t quite as captivating as the magician. He stood on a box, yelling into a microphone, and beside him was a coffin with a fake dead body inside. He talked about how we are all going to die and go to hell if we don’t know Jesus.

    Some folks snickered. Some told him to shut the hell up. A couple of teenagers tried to steal the dead body in the coffin. All I could do was think to myself, I want to jump up on a box beside him and yell at the top of my lungs, “God is not a monster.” Maybe next time I will.

    The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination. But over the past few decades our Christianity, at least here in the United States, has become less and less fascinating. We have given the atheists less and less to disbelieve. And the sort of Christianity many of us have seen on TV and heard on the radio looks less and less like Jesus.

    At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, “I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ.” A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That’s the ugly stuff. And that’s why I begin by saying that I’m sorry.

    Now for the good news.

    I want to invite you to consider that maybe the televangelists and street preachers are wrong — and that God really is love. Maybe the fruits of the Spirit really are beautiful things like peace, patience, kindness, joy, love, goodness, and not the ugly things that have come to characterize religion, or politics, for that matter. (If there is anything I have learned from liberals and conservatives, it’s that you can have great answers and still be mean… and that just as important as being right is being nice.)

    The Bible that I read says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it… it was because “God so loved the world.” That is the God I know, and I long for others to know. I did not choose to devote my life to Jesus because I was scared to death of hell or because I wanted crowns in heaven… but because he is good. For those of you who are on a sincere spiritual journey, I hope that you do not reject Christ because of Christians. We have always been a messed-up bunch, and somehow God has survived the embarrassing things we do in His name. At the core of our “Gospel” is the message that Jesus came “not [for] the healthy… but the sick.” And if you choose Jesus, may it not be simply because of a fear of hell or hope for mansions in heaven.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in the afterlife, but too often all the church has done is promise the world that there is life after death and use it as a ticket to ignore the hells around us. I am convinced that the Christian Gospel has as much to do with this life as the next, and that the message of that Gospel is not just about going up when we die but about bringing God’s Kingdom down. It was Jesus who taught us to pray that God’s will be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” On earth.

    One of Jesus’ most scandalous stories is the story of the Good Samaritan. As sentimental as we may have made it, the original story was about a man who gets beat up and left on the side of the road. A priest passes by. A Levite, the quintessential religious guy, also passes by on the other side (perhaps late for a meeting at church). And then comes the Samaritan… you can almost imagine a snicker in the Jewish crowd. Jews did not talk to Samaritans, or even walk through Samaria. But the Samaritan stops and takes care of the guy in the ditch and is lifted up as the hero of the story. I’m sure some of the listeners were ticked. According to the religious elite, Samaritans did not keep the right rules, and they did not have sound doctrine… but Jesus shows that true faith has to work itself out in a way that is Good News to the most bruised and broken person lying in the ditch.

    It is so simple, but the pious forget this lesson constantly. God may indeed be evident in a priest, but God is just as likely to be at work through a Samaritan or a prostitute. In fact the Scripture is brimful of God using folks like a lying prostitute named Rahab, an adulterous king named David… at one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. Some say God spoke to Balaam through his ass and has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves. And if upon meeting someone we think God could never use, we should think again.

    After all, Jesus says to the religious elite who looked down on everybody else: “The tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom ahead of you.” And we wonder what got him killed?

    I have a friend in the UK who talks about “dirty theology” — that we have a God who is always using dirt to bring life and healing and redemption, a God who shows up in the most unlikely and scandalous ways. After all, the whole story begins with God reaching down from heaven, picking up some dirt, and breathing life into it. At one point, Jesus takes some mud, spits in it, and wipes it on a blind man’s eyes to heal him. (The priests and producers of anointing oil were not happy that day.)

    In fact, the entire story of Jesus is about a God who did not just want to stay “out there” but who moves into the neighborhood, a neighborhood where folks said, “Nothing good could come.” It is this Jesus who was accused of being a glutton and drunkard and rabble-rouser for hanging out with all of society’s rejects, and who died on the imperial cross of Rome reserved for bandits and failed messiahs. This is why the triumph over the cross was a triumph over everything ugly we do to ourselves and to others. It is the final promise that love wins.

    It is this Jesus who was born in a stank manger in the middle of a genocide. That is the God that we are just as likely to find in the streets as in the sanctuary, who can redeem revolutionaries and tax collectors, the oppressed and the oppressors… a God who is saving some of us from the ghettos of poverty, and some of us from the ghettos of wealth.

    In closing, to those who have closed the door on religion — I was recently asked by a non-Christian friend if I thought he was going to hell. I said, “I hope not. It will be hard to enjoy heaven without you.” If those of us who believe in God do not believe God’s grace is big enough to save the whole world… well, we should at least pray that it is.

    Your brother,

    Shane

    Read more: http://www.esquire.com/features/best-and-brightest-2009/shane-claiborne-1209#ixzz0YeyprbP4

  • Glenda

    Jeremy, do you hate yourself? It seems like, at the very least, you have a hard time loving yourself.

  • Glenda

    Lamont, of course I love myself: I am a child of God, what’s not to love? Sure, I am estranged from my Creator but the so-called “total depravity” of humanity does not mean that I’m wretched or somehow unworthy. We’re brothers and sisters of the first-born of all creation, why not love ourselves?

  • Lamont

    1.Glenda, did you read the words of Jesus in Luke 14:26?
    How do you deal w/what he wrote?

    2.Why would God let “you” into heaven?
    Is it because your worthy?

  • Glenda

    1. Of course I read the passage: love and hate are often two sides of the same coin when it comes to reconciliation with God, one drawing us towards the Divine and the other severing those which bind us to our mortality. In human relationships, this means being drawn to the presence of God in other individuals without becoming attached to their flesh. This is a means for communities to be drawn together in healthy ways, not a reason to kick people out.

    2. I could care less about heaven if I have to live through hell on earth in order to reach it. The Kingdom of God is here, among us, and I live as one who has been redeemed by the power of that Kingdom. Why? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. Am I worthy? Save that question for God, because I remain blessedly ignorant of God’s motives. If I venture a guess, though, I would think that there must be something worthwhile about me, something about me worth redeeming, otherwise God is an idiot. I don’t think that I in any way created that something–whatever it may be–and I don’t understand why it is so valuable for God to go to such trouble to redeem and save it. Again, not really my concern. I don’t need to know how the feast was prepared in order to sit down and enjoy it.

  • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

    Hey Glenda,

    Is this loving? Especially the last two verses?

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=leviticus%2018&version=NIV

    Because it came from God, and Jesus said that all the law and all the prophets hang on the command to love, which makes them loving. Is exiling sexually impure people evil?

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2022:34-40&version=NIV

    Well, do you think God cares what we say and do?

  • Nicole

    I couldn’t agree more, Lamont!

    Thank you, Jesus for helping me see the light!

    My Mom still considers herself Mormon. She isn’t practicing but the same beliefs are there. I was speaking to her last week and said that she needed to accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior. I said that I loved her so much and wanted her to go to heaven. She said she already did, but according to the Mormon’s, she can willfully sin and then after she dies repent and still be saved. She thinks it’s okay to do whatever you want, disregard everything the bible says and then still be able to make it to one of the 3 kingdoms of heaven.

    I still have some friends in the church and like I said, some of them are great people who seem to love God, but the thing is the religion is downright dangerous. People are relying on something other than Jesus as their Lord and Savior, as the one and only God of the bible.

    As much as I love these people in my life, I am not going to pussyfoot around the issues and be in unity with them in regards to religion just for unity’s sake. These are people’s souls we are dealing with!

  • Dan

    Jeremy,

    Dang it! I just wrote the most amazing thing I’ve ever written on this blog and I lost it! ;)

    So I’ll try to re-create it.

    I completely agree with the link you put at the end of your post. However, I think the “moralists” that want the world to act Christian are completely delusional. Why should people not sin? We live in a world of sin. It’s only Common Grace that keeps things from being completely out of control. It’s only God that awakens us to our depravity and saves us. A miracle.

    It seems to me that people like Dobson are calling out to the world and telling them to quit being homosexual or whatever…but…WHY would a person NOT be homosexual if they feel that’s what they are? If they don’t have Christ there is no basis for not doing most anything. After all, we simply evolved out of the slime, so what are we really but a cosmic accident? When that’s all we are, why have morals at all? (I know, in an evolutionary model our morals are there to preserve the human race…but that is a weak argument if you really take it to it’s ends).

    So I’m just saying that I am not surprised by sin, and neither is God. I’m intolerant of it in myself, but I still do it! I’m intolerant of it in other Christians, and I believe if a brother or sister in Christ persists in sin they should be confronted, asked/told to change, and after the steps are taken to help turn that brother or sister from the sin, if they don’t do it, they should be asked to leave the church.

    For people outside the church I think we should be loving them, no matter what, in Christ’s name. That is what He calls us to do. “Yelling” people to repentance doesn’t work. The world is a cesspool of sin, and into that sin, but by the grace of God, go I.

    As I think you and I agree, until God turns a man’s heart from stone to flesh, and GIVES him re-birth, he is completely lost and dead. So why are we expecting anything but sin from this state of things?

    Again, I agree 100% with the need to call Christians to follow the Bible 100%. But to call dead souls to quit their sinning, BEFORE they have been re-born seems counter-intuitive

    (That was nothing like what I lost…but the gist is there). :D

  • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

    Dan, I completely agree with you: no seriously positive change can happen within us until we become reconciled with God, and thus it might seem kinda silly at first glance to enforce Biblical morality. But the truth is that Jesus saves you from your sin, and until you recognize that you’re a dirty sinner, you’re not going to ask for salvation because you won’t think you need it. In John 16, Jesus Himself said that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict people of sin, truth, and God’s righteousness, leading them to Him. So maybe standing on a soapbox in the street isn’t effective (although I don’t have stats or anything, obviously), but those people have the right idea. Everyone preaches repentance in the Bible because Christianity is a religion of repentance, and you cannot understand the nature of God and be His servant without understanding that you are a selfish and prideful jerk. I go through this quite frequently ;)

    And if you were to take the whole “not enforcing Biblical morality upon the masses” stance, what that would effectively imply is that God’s standards are completely useless in the “real” world, as they do not assist in the orderly function of the human race. If Yahweh were truly God, wouldn’t His morals be kinda… useful?

    It would seem to me that although works do not save you, banning Christ from public standards would only make the world a worse place in which to live, and strip Christians of any right to live in a democratic society that reflects their values. And isn’t reflecting values what a democracy is SUPPOSED to do? And isn’t morality not for the people who are moral, but rather for those who do not recognize proper moral structure?

    It’s tough to keep the proper perspective in place while doing this, though. C.S. Lewis once said “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” And you know what? He’s right. Focus on Christ: He’s everything, and He’ll bring the blessings as He sees fit. Vote too, but don’t let the world be your everything. Thanks for such a good response!

  • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

    My sincerest apologies, Becca. Would you like to repost it? It adds to the blog greatly, and I don’t get many comments (I’m not as lovable as Dahlstrom).


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