I kind of do think it matters, ethics pt. 7

I kind of do think it matters, ethics pt. 7 August 8, 2022

What does Acts 15 speak to us today?

law & idolatry in Acts, ethics pt. 6

What new Christians tradition/s commenced? Does this passage suggest that these are the only laws or ethics to be followed?

If this were the case, the new tradition/s would be easy to keep, because we generally cook our meat and we look down on intercourse outside of marriage. The rule is not the only thing that the council’s decision passes on to us. The Gentiles are commanded to give up the practices reminding them of their past. They are not to go back.

What reminds us of our past? Does it draw us back in? Are we willing to give it up to experience freedom in Christ? Is the Church actually able to speak to modern day ethical questions like this?

The Early Church does.

We not only have a responsibility, but a right (or more aptly, a rite) to speak to ethics

This narrative is the first PCCNA of sorts where each organization only sends a couple representatives, no matter how large or small. Major leaders speak to the issue. At the end, instead of taking a vote, Pastor James makes a declaration not only affecting the Church at Antioch, but Church history.

Do we exercise our Godly prerogatives, or do we yield to the unwritten concept of separation of Church and state, an exact phrase not found in our original documents?

God has given us the ability and authority to impact society.

We could very well contrast ourselves to the first church with far worse conditions than ours at times.

Despite the fact that you, your neighbors, and/or your congregation may think you’re struggling, certainly this convocation in Acts 15 is like the first PCCNA, except on a global scale. They somehow overcome outside adversity, differences of opinions between key leaders, and also newly forming great movements within the Church.

It may not matter to many, but I kind of do think it matters, and perhaps always will in many ways.

II Thes ii.15

“Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (KJV, ABS relic)

Whether we echo the Ancient traditions of the Church by written Word (“epistle”) or speak to the issue in the authority of the Church (“by word”), we have an obligation as Christians to make a mark. For the sake of clarity, and so no one whosoever thinks I am using by word lightly, it is by Word as far as the Church’s ability to collectively declare we hear, “The Voice of God.” Unless you’re in a congregation where there is nothing except for the reading of the Word, nothing at all, no signing, no expounding on the Word, then it kind of does matter. From the dawn of the Christian era, congregations have said about God (even if women are leading from the highest echelons – preaching – teaching – singing – greeting), we hear “The Voice of God.”

The phrase is also a song reference from the old band 4Him.

I don’t know if they were a Wesleyan class band or not and who cares? Great song. I kind of do think it matters, and there are a lot of reasons.

I have come to appreciate the analogy of streams, not the ideal of devotional streams in the desert so much (and I do have it somewhere in my vaults), but the idea of streams of the church (some say there really are about six). For instance, there are major historical movements predating and postdating the Great Reformation.

For instance, our particular organization often assists as ministers are looking for a congregation of like-minded people to fellowship with, or to minister alongside of. Now we’re a little more ecumenical.

Do we not tune into His voice as well?

Michael Santoroski | Springtime at Roanoke | 03.23.12 | creative commons

Pentecostals are certainly not heterodox

This fact has already been declared from the halls and walkways and tea times of the ivy league; so we certainly don’t have to grovel on our bellies like a komodo dragon with no legs while other faiths kick up dust on us. Pentecostals are at the world table…

as if…

we didn’t open up the table of fellowship to all in the first place in Acts 15.

It’s not like we don’t know what it’s like to herd our ewes.

II Thes ii.17

Paul pronounces a blessing on all who “hold the traditions” stating that Jesus Christ will, “Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.”

God is present where the Church intersects with society. 

Sure, there is the Law of Christ and this welcoming in Acts 15 to those who were once possibly considered only neighbors.

However, what of personal conviction, a question often asked?

Rom 14

Paul starts a discourse in chapter 14 that is often used as a springboard for discussions on “personal convictions.”

Indeed, conviction is part of this discourse, but oddly enough, the word is not used at all. In fact, the reason that Paul is even addressing convictions is because it is affecting the community of faith.

There are some matters that the Word of God does not address. Opinions are formed as to whether these matters matter at all, are right or wrong, etc. Peoples (plural) become convinced their collective opinions are of God, or are convictions, and they may be.

Debates, rather than reasoning together…

Isa i.18

…arise based on opinions (mores, norms, values, ethics). Consequently, the Church often suffers from conflicting sects.

Nothing new, some may say, but as I have already stated, I kind of do think it matters various sects are either formed with divisions or closing ranks (which reeks).

Only God can assist when powerful personalities pull the flock in different directions, sometimes only because they are great leaders.

Nonetheless, we never knew everything about Paul and the Apostles, and personal convictions in Scripture. I really don’t think personal convictions were a major deal.

I think personal convictions really flew under the [communal] radar of Acts 15

We really do not know about what ways God is leading His leaders either, and various sects.

In light of your congregation, the Word, and the leaders who influence you, what awaits for you all just “Over the Horizon”?

Paul encourages us here in Rom 14. It’s good for convictions to affect our collective behaviors, even if Scripture is silent on a particular issue. Paul’s rationale is like a strand of ethics called natural law from another ecumenical stream.

“According to natural law theory, knowledge of human nature provides a foundation for understanding moral values and obligations. For a Christian natural law view, God created human life for certain purposes, and identifying these can help us develop and justify a Christian ethic.” – Oliver O’Donovan [1]


In other words, some questions I may conclude are what is innate when it comes to ethics?

What graces are in play as peoples truly draw near to God?

What new charisms, virtues, rules, practices, and welcoming/s are revealed in the Bible and in the historic Church?[2]


[1] Oliver O’Donovan, “Grounding Moral Norms,” in David K. Clark and Robert V. Rakestraw [eds.], Readings in Christian Ethics, vol 1: Theory and Method (Grand Rapids, Baker Bookhouse [& the coffee shop & the catacombs of used extant source materials], 1994), p. 69.
[2] Please forget the trending deconstructionist terms of inclusivisity and exclusion for a moment. To read our latest vernacular into Scripture and into any histories is truly one of the pitfalls of postmodernity. After all, a paradigm shift takes nearly 300 years to take effect. We’re only about 150 years into this one, so postmodernity may not even stand the test of time; sorry! And I’m sorry I neither have the time nor the secretary/editor to edit out anything today which is of offense to you all, especially to those who may or may not have your micro-group’s deconstructionist sensitivities (Mat ii.16).

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