Apr 11 2010

A different gospel?

From a local church’s website, under “Beliefs:”

It is the will of God that each believer should be filled with the Holy Spirit and be sanctified wholly, being separated from sin and the world and fully dedicated to the will of God, thereby receiving power for holy living and effective service. This is both a crisis and a progressive experience wrought in the life of the believer subsequent to conversion.

I have a couple of questions about this.  First, what exactly does this statement mean? Do any of the members—or the leadership, for that matter—of this church really understand this?

Second, and more importantly, what exactly is wrong—or right—with this statement?

I checked, and this statement of faith comes directly from the denomination. I had hoped, then, that the local church ignored this point of faith (it’s been known to happen), but unfortunately this does not appear to be the case; it seems there are even people in leadership who are suffering under some pretty heavy burdens. It is truly sad.

I found it quite interesting that the denomination’s version includes footnotes with Bible references, specifically 1 Thessalonians 5:23,  Acts 1:8, and Romans 6:1–14, which must be twisted in order to support how this particular point of faith reads. I, at least, agree with the verses, but don’t agree at all with this item of belief. According to Paul, adding any attempt at human effort to the work of Christ totally eradicates the Gospel (I am finishing work on a book which should be out this summer that explains this in detail). Paul felt very strongly about protecting the simple truth of the gospel; I wonder how he’d respond to this church, seeing what he wrote to the Galatians:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (Gal. 1:6-9)

So, what is your opinion of this point of faith?  How would you react?


Aug 22 2009

It’s fun to be in the ELCA

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has taken yet one more step away from orthodoxy this week as they voted to endorse same-sex relationships that are “chaste, monogamous and lifelong,” whatever that means.  As Paul McCain has pointed out, they already left the authority of Scripture behind some time ago, so what do we expect?

Another member of the Wittenberg Trail “Ning” blog network, Charles Henrickson, has put all of this in perspective, with the following lyrics, to be sung to the tune, “Y.M.C.A.”

Go for it.

E.L.C.A.

“Luth’ran”
Doesn’t mean quite the same
As what you’ve been
Taught to know by that name.
We’re removin’
All the scandal and shame
Of a church that stands for something.

Luth’ran,
No, you’re not misinformed,
Yes, it’s true now,
We commune the Reformed.
No forced union
Made us bow or conform,
Just a warm and fuzzy feeling.

It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
We have women in black,
Now there’s no turning back
To the hang-ups of dead white guys.

It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
You can set yourself free
From dead orthodoxy,
You can do whatever you please.

Luth’ran,
Won’t you please come along
To the Elca,
Where’s there’s no right or wrong.
In the Elca,
Heretics can belong,
They can teach at seminary.

“Luth’ran,”
But our fingers were crossed,
All our doctrine
Has been totally lost.
All that’s Luth’ran
Is what we have embossed
On our cards and stationery.

It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
We have women in black,
Now there’s no turning back
To the hang-ups of dead white guys.

It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
You can set yourself free
From dead orthodoxy,
You can do whatever you please.

Elca,
Where it’s very uncouth
And unwelcome
To say you have the truth
And where seldom
Is a word ever heard
To discourage sin or error.

Elca,
Where it’s all shades of gray,
I said, Elca,
Where it’s hip to be gay.
Our umbrella
Is as big as a tent,
There’s no need for you to repent.

It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
We have women in black,
Now there’s no turning back
To the hang-ups of dead white guys.

It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
You can set yourself free
From dead orthodoxy,
You can do whatever you please. . . .

“Luth’ran”
Doesn’t mean quite the same
As what you’ve been
Taught to know by that name.
We’re removin’
All the scandal and shame
Of a church that stands for something.

Luth’ran,
No, you’re not misinformed,
Yes, it’s true now,
We commune the Reformed.
No forced union
Made us bow or conform,
Just a warm and fuzzy feeling.

It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
We have women in black,
Now there’s no turning back
To the hang-ups of dead white guys.

It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
You can set yourself free
From dead orthodoxy,
You can do whatever you please.

Luth’ran,
Won’t you please come along
To the Elca,
Where’s there’s no right or wrong.
In the Elca,
Heretics can belong,
They can teach at seminary.

“Luth’ran,”
But our fingers were crossed,
All our doctrine
Has been totally lost.
All that’s Luth’ran
Is what we have embossed
On our cards and stationery.

It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
We have women in black,
Now there’s no turning back
To the hang-ups of dead white guys.

It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
You can set yourself free
From dead orthodoxy,
You can do whatever you please.

Elca,
Where it’s very uncouth
And unwelcome
To say you have the truth
And where seldom
Is a word ever heard
To discourage sin or error.

Elca,
Where it’s all shades of gray,
I said, Elca,
Where it’s hip to be gay.
Our umbrella
Is as big as a tent,
There’s no need for you to repent.

It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
We have women in black,
Now there’s no turning back
To the hang-ups of dead white guys.

It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
It’s fun to be in the E.L.C.A.
You can set yourself free
From dead orthodoxy,
You can do whatever you please. . . .


Jul 14 2009

My Episcopal quandary

I find myself in the midst of a quandary.  I have, over the past several months, fallen in love with a church service.  Not a church, mind you, but the service.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, last December I started attending a local Episcopal church.  After being greatly disappointed with Lutheran (ELCA) services, I found the liturgy in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer to be quite good.

And, this church has awesome music, most of the time.  Besides traditional hymns, they will use current songs like “Shout to the Lord” or classics like “The Old Rugged Cross.” Even the sermons are good.  Being sacramentally-oriented anyway, I have become dependent upon the completeness of worship that the liturgy provides, especially celebrating the Lord’s Supper weekly.  During a fairly unsettled period in my life, church on Sunday morning is my one safe place, the eye in the middle of my often stormy life.

The problem is, the denomination has left the faith.  I can’t tell from a normal Sunday morning, but I know of the issues behind the scenes.

The LA Times reported today,

Leaders of the Episcopal Church, gathering in Anaheim for their first national convention in three years, reopened fractious debate this week over whether to authorize marriage rites for same-sex couples and to repeal a de facto ban on the consecration of gay bishops.

The issues have caused painful divisions in the 2.1-million-member denomination, which in recent years has seen dozens of parishes and four conservative dioceses, including one in Central California, break away. Last month, the dissidents formally launched a rival church.

Despite warnings about the consequences, liberal Episcopalians at the meeting are championing a flurry of resolutions to expand participation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in church life, with votes expected in coming days. The conference, the church’s General Convention, runs through Friday.

This is actually nothing, compared to what is also going on.  The Anglican Church in North America, the newly-formed group referred to in the article, has published a booklet charging the Episcopal Church (TEC) with a number of heresies. While perhaps not specifically adopting heretical positions, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and other prominent leaders have made numerous heretical statements denying that Christ is the only way to salvation, denying the resurrection, denying Christ’s deity, and so on.  One priest is openly Muslim, and anther is a known Buddhist (I think they dd draw the line at Satanism, however).

TEC appears committed to being “all churches to all people,” becoming a nearly-universalist organization.  Furthermore, TEC has taken to filing lawsuits against many churches who have made the decision to leave TEC over these issues.  What is ironic is that it is TEC that has departed from the larger Anglican Communion.

So, that’s my quandary.  Now, I don’t know for sure where this church would stand in relation to these issues. The Priest in Charge (the Rectorship is currently open) appears to be fairly level-headed. He is, at least, a C.S. Lewis fan.  However, I know that there are many in the church that are Marcus Borg fans (I think Marcus has some interesting things to say, but he questions the factual nature of much in the Bible).

I do plan on calling the Priest in Charge and making an appointment to address these concerns. However, a part of me just wants to enjoy the liturgy, and ignore the rest.  That could work, at least until TEC decides to change the liturgy.


Jun 19 2009

On preaching chaff

It is God’s will and command that in His Church His Word be preached and believed in purity and truth, without adulteration. In God’s Church nobody should utter his own, but only God’s Word (1 Pet. 4:11). Chaff and wheat do not belong together. All “teaching otherwise,” ετεροδιδασχαλειν, is strictly forbidden. 1 Tim. 1:3: “As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” It is important to point out again and again that in all Scripture there is not a single text permitting a teacher to deviate from the Word of God or granting a child of God license to fraternize with a teacher who deviates from the Word of God. God is against the prophets who proclaim their own dreams (Jer. 23:31 f.). And all Christians without exception are commanded to avoid such (Rom. 16:17; 1 Tim. 6:3ff.).

from Francis Pieper’s “Christian Dogmatics”

Thanks to Jim Pierce.