Ministry: Okay To Be Gay?

In Candid Christianity: The Blog, Christian RealTalk by Antwuan Malone85 Comments

Should someone who is openly gay be allowed to be ordained as a minister?

An article (here) from Huffington Post has reported the Presbyterian Church doesn’t have a problem with a minister who is openly gay.

And so the homosexual wheel of confusion continues to roll.

Many are calling what the Presbys have done a victory. Many non-gay people, I mean. The cloud of immodest toleration that is slowly permeating so many areas of Christianity (like postmodernism, and even this Love Wins craze) grows more and more dark by the minute.

If I’m being 100% candid here, I must say I’m a little sick of the whole gay thing.

Coincidentally, late last night, before I read the Huffington Post article, I sat watching this week’s episode of Glee and gave a heavy eye-roll at yet another gay centric episode. I’ll tell you what? If I didn’t fully understand the frustration of being “beaten over the head,” as the saying goes, by an ideology, i do now. Glee is killing me with this gay thing.

But this isn’t about Glee. I merely mentioned the episode because it may be the reason I approach this topic with more aggression than normal. So bear with me.

In order to answer whether an openly gay individual can be ordained as a minister, I’d have to get a few things clear first. To do this, let’s change the question up a bit.

Should someone who is an admitted murderer be allowed to be ordained as a minister?

For many, the knee-jerk reaction would be, “Absolutely not!” But for me, I’d want to know what “admitted” means in this question. Does it mean this person admits to having murdered before, and plans not to murder again? Or does it mean this person is intends to keep murdering?

The answer to that question, for me, makes all the difference.

Choices

Assuming we all agree that homosexuality is a sin, “openly gay” needs to undergo a similar examination. Does “openly gay” mean the person recognizes their bodily urge and attraction to the same sex? Or does it mean they plan to actively participate in satisfying those urges with no intent on quitting?

Admittedly, homosexuality is a very gray-area kind of sin. In that, on the surface we could easily suggest sexual orientation has nothing to do with someone’s faith and relational position with God. Many suggest that now. In fact, the article quotes Michael Adee, the executive director of More Light Presbyterians, as saying, “We’ve restored the longstanding Presbyterian understanding of ordination: that the most important qualifications are related to faith, not marital status or sexuality.”

But doesn’t the “qualifications related to faith” include pursuing a life directed by and in obedience to God’s word and the Holy Spirit living within all true Christians? Isn’t same-sex participation (not the urge) a two-headed prohibition, both of pre-marital sex and sexual same-sex perversion?

And if so, isn’t the willful, deliberate choice to live a life of disobedience a matter worth noting in a conversation concerning “qualifications related to faith?”

I have no doubt that God can use anyone to do anything. In fact, God’s not waiting for our ordination processes to qualify us to spread his Word. He doesn’t need our stamp of approval. So for me, ordained ministers, while not perfect, should be teachers of God’s Word and failing models of God’s goodness. Failing, because they model a life of striving for total obedience to God that doesn’t succeed. In other words, none of us expect clergy to be perfect. But we do expect they are trying to be.

“If you love me, you’ll [try your darndest to] keep my commandments,” says Jesus (with my own added bracketed comments, of course).

So if I had to provide an abbreviated answer to the question, I’d say in a most abbreviated way, that I see no issue with ordaining clergy who fight the urge of homosexuality, but find ordaining clergy who actively participate in homosexuality without “putting up a fight” both selfish and disrespectful to the amazing grace extended to us through The Cross.

How do you feel about gays being ordained as clergy:  Absolutely not, Maybe, or No problem?

The following two tabs change content below.
Antwuan Malone is a Ministry Director at ELEVATE Young Adult Ministry (elevateministry.net) where empowers young adults toward Christian leadership. He is passionate about seeing young adults take their place in church history by drawing near enough to God to hear his call on their life, and courageously living in obedience to that call.
84 comments
Carl Rooker
Carl Rooker

My problem with how people view homosexualtiy is that many are trying to say that it is not sin.  John said, "If we say we have not sinned, the truth is not in us...If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."


Those who claim that homosexual actions are OK are not doing the homosexual any real favors.  


On the same token, those who target homosexuals for persecution, hatred, insults etc. are not doing any good either.  We must  not ignor the sin, but we MUST recognize that Jesus gave His life for that sinner.

Arghpirates01
Arghpirates01

Here is the thing, being straight is never listed as one of Jesus' Commandments. In fact it is rarely mentioned at all. When paul mentions it is in off hand remarks and is implied to people who were practicing one way of life and then about faced into another. 

Also, we are all going under the assumption here that being gay is a choice. That these people woke up one day and decided that they would like to live a life where they could possibly be killed just because of who they are attracted too. Who in their right mind would want to live that life, why do you think so many people hide it and are afraid to come out. Why would anyone choose this? 

There is zero scientific evidence to support the idea that homosexuality comes out of outside intervention. Whether that be abuse or peer pressure etc. They may be factors but it is now more evident that it is something someone is born into. 

There is also the fact that when referencing homosexuality it almost always go to gay sex. We don't discuss the issue of being attracted to the same sex and having healthy non sexual relationships with them (you know like we teach boys and girls to do when they are young, courting etc.) , no it is always assumed that they will act upon it. A gay person is just out having lots of premarital gay sex with everyone. We know this isn't true yet we still talk about homosexuals like this is the case (not to mention defining everything about a person down to one very non important part, which is essentially like saying oh there is mike, he's the guy who likes blonde girls.) 

This shouldn't be an issue, period. 



Mikemueller32
Mikemueller32

Couldn't have set it better myself. That's truth right there.

Dave the Brit
Dave the Brit

Hi everyone. First let me acknowledge and honour the sincerity everyone is showing here, everyone is trying hard to do the right thing. The wide diversity of views expressed by people of good will who are trying to honour God just reveals what a tricky, complex and mysterious thing being alive is. I'm a straight white guy from another country and another culture. I don't have 'the right answer', I only have some experiences from 53 years of being a breathing human, 37 years of being a professing Christian, and about 15 years of friendships with gay and lesbian people. The 1st thing I want to say is this: we need to be REALLY careful what metaphors we use to try to explain 'our truth': when we say "Is it OK to accept a murderer as a Minister..." we are clasifying homosexual people alongside murderers. Think about how that must feel for a second. Don't tell me you didn't mean it like that because trust me, that is what the gay or lesbian person hears. We wound each other when we speak like that. The 2nd thing is that Jesus didn't invest any energy into trying to judge, blame, criticise or convert homosexual people. He put tons of energy into loving, accepting, healing, forgiving, teaching and guiding people - just people, whatever their background. By our standards he did so recklessly. He lavished acceptance on people. He also challenged - but he challenged people about what was harming them (like predjudice, obsession with wealth...) and pointed them in a better way. The only people he ripped into, used harsh language on, was consistently extremely critical of in a highly confrontational way, were the established religious leadership of his day - the "blind leaders who say that they can see, and who lead the people off a cliff". The final point I'd like to offer is this: we need to work on our humility. If Christianity wants to win back some respect in the world, we need to work on our humility, individually and corporately. I want to hear Christian spokespeople saying "I don't know" and "Its part of the mystery, I'm sure God will sort it all out when the time is right". You know the most powerful and lovely expression of Christinaity I've seen for a long time was when some Christians went to a Gay Pride march and held up banners saying "I'm sorry". When gays on the floats jumped down to ask "what are you sorry for?" They said, "for judging you and making you feel unwelcome and unnatural or even hated". And hearts were melted, and hugs were exchanged, and hatred and predjudice (on boths sides) were blown away. You can't tell me Jesus wasn't smiling that day.

M. Smith
M. Smith

Let's keep the argument but change the sin.  Should fat people be ordained?  They too are openly, intentionally, deliberately sinning.  Sometimes they invite fellow church members to sit down and sin with them. They are gluttonous, not practicing self-control, defiling the temple, "their God is their belly" (Phillipians 3:19) and their sin is even more obvious by the looks of the big bellies and wide butts. So fat people who aren't trying to lose weight shouldn't be ordained either?

M. Smith
M. Smith

I just discovered this post and could not resist commenting.... I don't understand this debate.  I get extremely irritated when I see people honing in on the sin of homosexuality as if it were any worse than any other sin.  I don't recall seeing in the bible a section on Big Sin vs. Little Sin. Aren't we all sinning on an on-going and regular basis everyday...disrespecting the grace extended to us at the cross?  Just because one sin is less obvious to an outsider doesn't make one better or worse.  A wandering eye, that bag of dog food under your cart that the teller forgot to ring up, the cash you were paid for a speaking engagement that didn't make it on your taxes, the grudge you are holding against that person from 5 years ago, your little habit of having one too many....And as soon as you get it in your head that you aren't sinning, well now you're a prideful liar (lol). And how does one qualify how hard another person is "trying?" It's a slippery slope for us mere mortals to judge the sins of another.

freewayhome
freewayhome

I agree with the idea that if you're successfully fighting the urge, you can be a minister. I've fought it for years and feel like I should be able to keep being a Christian leader. However, if I ever gave in to it and accepted it, I wouldn't feel right being any sort of leader in the church. It has nothing to do with gay rights. It has everything to do with living a life consistent with what you believe. And there's no getting around this issue in the Bible, whether it be in the Old or New Testament.

Bill S
Bill S

My reading of Scripture on the issue of homosexuality begins not in Leviticus, not in Romans, but in Acts. It begins with Acts 10. Peter has a vision where he is ordered to eat non-kosher foods. He refuses, on the basis that it is sin, and the voice of God reprimands him for not listening. When Cornelius's messengers come and Peter goes to meet Cornelius, he hesitates because is it "not lawful" (read: sinful) for a Jew to mingle with Gentiles. But Cornelius tells how the voice of God spoke to him. At that moment, Peter has a revelation, which in my Bible reads, "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him." This phrase "does what is right" is hotly debated in the remainder of the New Testament. In Acts 15, Peter presents his case for including Gentiles in the Church, saying that God has given them the Holy Spirit, and cleansed their hearts by faith. The Jewish Christians were not so sure; Paul has to give his testimony to the same effect. Eventually, the gathered council decides that Gentiles can live righteously while only following a very narrow scope of the Law: No idols, no fornication, no eating strangled animals, no eating the blood. Ham sandwiches are ok. This debate about whether openly homosexual Christians can teach the Word sounds so much like the debate of the early church, that I cannot stop hearing its echoes in every debate and every denouncement of churches that ordain gays and lesbians. Many faithful Christians say that homosexuality is a sin, and you say that "we can all agree about that", but I have borne witness to gay and lesbian ministers who have done remarkable things: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked--indeed, proclaiming Jesus as Lord from pulpit, street corner, and classroom. I have seen it so often and to such an extent that I can only believe they are called through the power of the Holy Spirit. To believe otherwise would be to question everything that I read Jesus did in his ministry and called his disciples to do.

jeana austin
jeana austin

If we are to deny them the right to express who they really are, feel inside then lets ask them to try to stop breathing while we're at it eh???

jeana austin
jeana austin

Can we all agree that whats on the outside has no bearing on the inside and that homosexual men or women would then be attracted to their opposite sex, which you are saying is ok, especially if they marry!

Mark Hewerdine
Mark Hewerdine

"the willful, deliberate choice to live a life of disobedience a matter worth noting in a conversation concerning “qualifications related to faith?” " It may be a surprise to some, and many would dismiss the notion, but many Christians who identify as being homosexual in orientation do not regard their attraction to the opposite sex or their entering into monogamous, life-long same sex partnerships as sin - not because they ignore parts of scripture, not because they are being willfully disobedient to a law they know to be true but don't like. Rather, they believe to be "not sin" after much prayerful, thorough and humble study of the scriptures and wrestling with the issue. To suggest that gay people being sexually active do so in the knowledge and admission that what they do is wrong "but do it anyway because they want to" is to mispresent thousands of people very unfairly. I stress that I believe any sexual partnership outside of the boundaries of a life-long, covenanted, monogamous context would be sin - but many "openly gay" Christians would agree! This is just not so black and white as you make out. I guess most commentators wouldn't countenance the idea, but many gay Christians take the Bible "seriously", seek to be obedient to it as they have wrestle with how it is to be interpreted and applied, and seek to be godly in their conduct. Fact is, people arrive at very different conclusions from examining the same "data". Maybe a poor analogy but I have Christians friends who believe to drink alcohol is sin and no pastor should ever drink, and Christian friends who believe it is fine in moderation. Both read the same Bible, both take it seriously, both quote texts as well as character examples/stories to back up their case. But they disagree. Christians who drink don't do so knowing the Bible teaches they shouldn't but continue to "because they like it". They do so with the intergrity of having carefully examined the issue, prayerfully and humbly. As do their "opponents". Btw I don't think you were clear enough in stating what you mean by "openly gay" . Some Christians idenitfy that they are attracted to members of the same sex, but seek not to enterain lustful thoughts and remain celibate. They nevertheless are open about their attraction/oreientation. I am open about the fact that I find women attractive; I seek not to look on them lustfully and I remain sexually faithful with my wife. I also think choosing murder as analogous was a very poor choice - not analogous really, and "adultery" would have been far closer and helpful a parallel given we are talking about sexuality. "Glee is killing me with this gay thing." Not a big Glee fan either, and yeh, it seems like a lot of preaching a "pro-gay" message. But this isn't a "gay thing" to be dealth with. It is about gay people. Yes, people. Not a "thing" or just an "issue" but lives. Please be a little more respectful of the complexities, strength of feeling, deep hurt and violence experience by gay people before dismissing this as "the gay thing". Finally, are you concerned primarily with male homosexuality or female homosexuality too? What's the biblical "data" re: same-sex relationships between women? You might be surprised at the paucity...

@timmcgeary
@timmcgeary

I'd like to stress that this whole topic misses a very big point about whether this is biblical or not, and that is the entire concept of ordination is extra-biblical. There is no biblical case or description for the type of hierarchical authority we have setup within our churches. The oft-used passages given to Timothy from Paul does not translate to the organizations we call church. The organizations we call church, specifically in the US, are chartered and built entirely towards self-preservation rather than for the purpose of living within the gospel of Jesus. The same for the 30,000+ denominations. Look at that number again. Why are there so many? Because people want to preserve their interpretations of how to do "church" and find other interpretations threatening. So we could argue, blame, judge, and critique until we are blue in the face because all of it is extra-biblical. All of it is defined on interpretation. All of it is based on a systematic method of picking and choosing this verse and this verse, but not that verse, to define the church's mission, statement of belief, charter, definition of leader, etc. What is biblical or not is just not an argument worth having until we acknowledge everything we bring is based on interpretation.

jean Austin
jean Austin

All relationships are derived from our sexual orientation, the fundamental self, the magaphysical state of who / what we are. We cannot remove it !

antwuanm
antwuanm moderator

@Carl Rooker Agreed. It is a sensitive issue that must be dealt with properly based on the conversation we are having. If we are talking American politics, this is a democracy governed by and for the people. If the people say that homosexuality and same sex marriage are okay, we must comply (or do the work to change the majority). 


If we are talking Christianity, the Bible is clear about homosexuality in the same way it is clear about all other sins against God. Those living in the kindgom of God must be governed by the King. And yet, we must also remember that we are all sinfully handicapped in one way or another, and that we all have equal value before God, and are all loved by HIm. 


In turn, we must express that value and love to all.

Ephes415
Ephes415

@Arghpirates01 Every human being that has lived, now lives, or ever will live, apart from Jesus Christ is BORN with the compulsion to sin in some manner.  Whether it be a sin as wimple as "little white lies" or whether it be someone who is born with a bad temper or a kleptomaniac who is born with a compulsion to steal.  Yet we are ALL called by God when we enter into a relationship with him, to accept his power and to resist and "turn away" from those sins.  This is the whole idea of repentance...turning away.  

I disagree with you on whether science has done anything to prove that homosexuality is a born trait (research the findings of the Human Genome Project).  But irregardless of whether it is a born trait or not, does not change the command to resist all sin.

As for "acting on" the homosexual urge.  If you accept that homosexuality is against God's will, then homosexual marriage will never be accepted in the eyes of God, therefore, unless a homosexual is celibate, they will at some point in their lives "act upon" their homosexuality.  To deny that is absurd.


Finally, no homosexuality should not DEFINE who someone is, but that is exactly what many in the homosexual world are trying to do.  They talk gay "pride" and hold gay pride parades and protest fast food places whose owners don't agree with homosexuality (even though the business does NOTHING to discriminate against homosexuals) and they protest TV shows/stations that don't include enough "gay" characters.  It seems that many in the homosexual community (at least the most vocal ones) WANT to be defined by their sexuality, but then take offense when they ARE defined that way when that definition hurts their agenda.  

The bottom line is that I agree with this author, that the issue of leadership positions within a ministry should ALWAYS come down to the heart, faith and commitment of the person and anyone openly choosing to continue in a sin lifestyle of ANY type and not trying to turn away from it, does NOT have committed faith and should not be in a position of ministry leadership, IMHO.

antwuanm
antwuanm moderator

@Arghpirates01 Hmm... "choice" is a word that may be too simplified in this arguments. Surely someone doesn't "choose" to be gay in the way I'd choose a hamburger over a chicken sandwich. A psychological, dare I say subconscious choice forming over time, may be more like it. 


And yet, you are not convinced external matters play into the situation at all. I would disagree with you. 


Still, whether born with it or not. The problem is the practice (and the thought of the practice) in the same way it is such for a heterosexual. I do not believe God has sanctioned gay sex. I do believe that is a sin against the order of God's creation, and thus against him. 


Whether the urge to do so is natural or unnatural (chosen), the consequence is the same. We cannot be excused because we are born with compulsions (and by we, I mean all humans-- gay and otherwise). God is asking us all to die to ourselves and our sinful compulsions, of which we all have some.


To recognize this and be in an active fight against it is the line that needs to be drawn for ordained ministers with homosexual compulsions.

antwuanm
antwuanm moderator

 @Dave the Brit Good points Dave. You aren't the only one that brought up the metaphor I used. The purpose was to speak to the "Christian" who sees homosexuality as a major sin. The metaphor only works, in my opinion, if it uses a sin we all acknowledge as a pretty big deal.  You make a good point though.  

 

As for "judging." This term needs defining. The mission of Jesus was to save people, and to turn them from their sin. I am a proponent of acceptance (you'll find we share many sentiments in my other posts), but acceptance alone does not accomplish the work God intends. 

 

And the demonstration you describe sounds ABSOLUTELY wonderful!  What a blessing! We need way more of that, let me tell ya'.  Thanks for commenting, and welcome to the site. See you around.

Ephes415
Ephes415

@M. Smith Your comment is ridiculous.  You show a total lack of knowledge or empathy for obese people.  A large portion of "obese" people are not "intentionally and delibertely sinning" or being glutonous.  As a matter of fact a large portion of "fat" ARE trying to not be "fat"  and a large portion of them are "fat" due to medical reasons (hormones,etc.) NOT due to sin.  HOWEVER, if they ARE deliberately glutnous....deliberately living in a sin lifestyle with no remorse or desire to stop, then NO, they should not be ordained.

Jonathan B
Jonathan B

Gluttony is a listed sin, certainly, but gluttony is not the same as fatness. There are many reasons one can be fat besides gluttony. There are a wide variety of medical conditions that cause weight gain, for starters. Thyroid problems, side effects of various medications, and many others. Weight gain is caused by an intake of energy sources that exceeds your burning off of the same, and can be affected by metabolism changes or lifestyle changes. I've put on 20-odd pounds since I hit 30 simply because my body metabolism slowed and my activity level didn't rise to compensate. My food choices aren't the most healthy, either. But none of that is properly defined as gluttony. Gluttons are consumed with consumption, as a goal within itself. They consume more for the purpose of having more, and it becomes their god as you noted. But please don't make the mistake of equating fat automatically with proof of gluttony.

 

This is much the same mistake as equating having wealth as proof of greed. There are greedy people who have wealth. There are also greedy people who are quite poor, yet as devoted to attaining money and goods and uncaring about others as Scrooge ever thought of being. ;) There are also wealthy people who are very generous and have obtained wealth by their skill without an idolatrous devotion to it. Job had great wealth, yet I was just reading the chapters recently where he spoke of how he took care of the poor and the widows, and was a father figure to the orphans, and took in passing travelers as his guests.

Antwuan Malone
Antwuan Malone

No, I think that is just silly. But if a person were to claim to be a Christian, then try to tell us that gluttony or greed were not sins, we'd all have a problem. If they were to say they were going to continue being greedy and gluttonous, we'd all correct them.

Antwuan Malone
Antwuan Malone

What's up M.Smith. The point of the post has more to do with how one judges himself more than how we judge them.  I don't propose that we can tell at all what anyone's intention is where the correcting of their sins is concerned. However, if one is an openly practicing homosexual who claims no intention to change that behavior then we are obligated to respond to them the same way we would anyone who refuses a repentant life from their sin. In this sense, you are correct. All sins should count the same.  The unfortunate reality is that homosexuality is more visible (in some cases) and for the church to allow homosexuals in ministry a hair must be split. Because, in the end, if a minister is fine with the continued practice of homosexuality, then we have a theological, doctrinal difference in opinion that severely hampers ministry. If a minister is permitted to continue the practice of his sin, then what can he really say about ours without being hypocritical.  Your point is made that we all sin. To this I agree wholeheartedly. It is what we do with that sin the makes the difference. If we willingly continue participation in sin (whether it be lying, adultery, fornication, dishonesty or any of the items you mentioned) then we are not the sort of examples ministers are called to be.  If however, those same sins are revealed in us, and we at least profess a commitment to fight against the practice of those sins (and who can know even if that is true, but not for us to decide) then something we can at least be seen for the humans we are, fighting sin the way all humans do, and thus have a better chance of loving, and being loved by other sinners saved by God's grace. In the end, my post is meant to call the individual to a higher judgment of himself, not a license for us to judge others.

ridingacross
ridingacross

Hey Bill, In light of what you say regarding the abrogation of various parts of Torah for the Jewish believers, there is a point worth considering; The Lord went to considerable effort to make it clear to the Jewish believers that foods and gentiles were now permitted, and this took some time for them to come to terms with it, as you well state. Why then are there no such clarifying actions taken by the Lord in scripture that make it equally clear regarding prohibited sexual activities? Put together with the Lord's statements about people being created male and female, and Pauls statements that still support and confirm the OT view of sexual sins, does it not seem unlikely that homosexuality has now been permitted? Also, looking to Leviticus, we really need to put the mentions of homosexual behaviours in context. In both of the places where it is mentioned (Lev 18 and 20, full chapters), adult homosexual behaviour is mixed right in with sexual acts with animals, young children and family members, along with prohibitions against child sacrifice, adultery, polygamy and cursing your parents. So the question is, are any of these other things now made lawful for us? we don't have the same punishments because the OT Civil law was designed to show us the just and holy character of God and His view of sin. Death is fully just for sin, and without Christ all of us would be condemned to death because of our sin. There is a good look at the OT thing here http://hipandthigh.blogspot.com/2009/01/gay-chris...

ridingacross
ridingacross

Jeana, Biblically it is the real who we are that is the problem, because that real inner "who" is at center a totally fallen and sinful creature. That is not to say that everyone behaves as bad as possible at all times, but it does mean that it is not possible for us to be acceptable to the Lord without being forgiven through faith in Christs atoning death for our sins. It also means that we are all totally disposed to sin, some sins we all commit all the time, other sins seem to be particular to certain people, not sure why. Homosexual people have defined themselves by that particular sin, and to a christian it is like defining ones self as an adulterer or a thief.....because to some people, those sins are also very strong in them, and could be said to be who they really are. To compare sexual desires to breathing shows how strong a sin can become in a person.....what would you say to someone who compared stealing with breathing, and said they could as easily stop the one as the other? This all does not mean that christians expect homosexual people to be able to do away totally once and for all their desires to sin, right away, right now etc......but realising that it is a sin is necessary. Once that is admitted, we can all work together to help each other cope and try, by the Lords great power and mercy, to battle our sins together, whatever they might be.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

What do you mean by "outside" and "inside" in your statement? Please explain so we all can begin from the same place.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

I mention in the article that we'll assume we all agree homosexuality is a sin. I did this knowing there are those who don't agree. Frankly, I did not intend to "go there" in this article for a certain brevity. Perhaps another blog! :) (probably). So I'll say in this comment that if a person does not believe practicing homosexuality is sin, then this article may end up ignored. And on some level, I'm willing to accept that. As for the murder analogy. I've taken some heat over that, and you're right. A fornication/adultery example would fit more nicely. But I was looking for something indisputably sinful, by nearly every moral standard., and murder fit that bill. I can see how it might be seen as bad taste though. To your glee point. I hear you. Duly noted. And for where gay male or female... it doesn't matter to me.

ridingacross
ridingacross

So is there any doctrine that we can definitely say is true? "I'd like to stress that this whole topic misses a very big point about whether this is biblical or not, and that is the entire concept of ordination is extra-biblical" I'm not sure i can go along with that http://www.gotquestions.org/ordination.html It is a pity we have so many denominations, but is it really just because "people want to preserve their interpretations of how to do "church"" ? There are some very fundamental theological differences relating to the person of Christ and the nature of His sacrifice, which go far beyond 'how to do church". And at the same time, there is broad aqreement on the basics...and it's OK if we have disagreemt on the non essentials, as Paul mentions. and i mean, really, we are all sinners struggling along.......it's inevitable that we won't be able to get along all the time, hence all the splits. "So we could argue, blame, judge, and critique until we are blue in the face because all of it is extra-biblical" don't mistake discussion for all those things you mentioned.....its hard to judge tone when we're online, but i don't think there's any blamin going on. "All of it is based on a systematic method of picking and choosing this verse and this verse, but not that verse" If it's genuinely systematic, a theology will attempt to harmonise rather than ignore seemingly dispirate statements, making sense of the whole revealed council lof God. Scripture really does tend to interpret itself too.....though personal interpretations are of course a danger. Really, i'm not sure what you are trying to say.....if everything is personal interpretation, why don't we just call it a day and go home, because anything we say is merely talking past each other from within our own unique truth defining universes. Or is there truth that God has revealed, and you dont mean what i thought you meant? :-D

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

Yeah, you're right. the hierarchical organizational style of the Presby chuch is not one I particular agree with (though I don't hold a major fault with it either). I think for me, I translated it into "church spiritual leader" like pastor, or bishop, or whatever title it is given in your home protestant faith. I'm curious. Are you saying that the Timothy passages concerning leadership requirement is irrelevant and should be ignored? And further, isn't there one right interpretation (at least). And isn't it worth conversing about to try to find the right one? Just some thoughts.

ridingacross
ridingacross

Metaphysical no problem ;-) I.m just not sure that way of describing it fits into the Biblical wordview, which, as hard as it can be to hear it, and i take no pleasure in saying, does tell us that sexual desires for people of the same sex as us are against God's Will for us....that those desires come from our sinful flesh. But the Lord Jesus Christ offers us forgiveness when we confess to Him and repent.......He has paid for even that sin, will help us to turn from it and change our hearts and desires. You are right that we cannot remove it.....but our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ is able to make such changes. He becomes our identity, the center upon which we base our self, rather than the other things we desire. I offer you this resource http://exodusinternational.org/resources/real-sto... and pray that the Lord will give repentance and freedom from this sin, as He has for so many others.

Ephes415
Ephes415

@antwuanm @Dave the Brit Agreed, but while Jesus was accepting as we should be, he still did NOT condone sins.  He continually called people to turn from their ways and to "go and sin now more".  Acceptance does NOT mean accepting and approving of the sins in someones life.  That is true today and it was true in Jesus' life and ministry. 

M. Smith
M. Smith

 and yet how many fat ministers are out there?  isn't that a "willful, deliberate choice to live a life of disobedience"?  if they continue to be overweight and unhealthy, then they are continuing to be greedy and gluttonous.  what's the difference? I really do understand the point you're trying to make.  i just cringe when i see people pick and choose which sins to target.  I think your point applies to all who claim to be christians...not just the "ordained" and not just the openly homosexual.  We run the risk of hypocrisy when we say "Those who commit Sin A can't be ordained, but those who commit Sin B and C, can be."

Bill S
Bill S

I don't want to derail this conversation from the actual topic of urge vs. behavior, but I would like to point out that Jesus is not so clear on the Gentile question. This abrogation of the Torah, as you put it, is specifically against Jesus' words about the permanence of the Law. The Acts Church had to decide how they balanced Scripture (which for them was only the whole OT--Torah, Navi'im, and Ketuvim) with the grace they found in Jesus. There was no consistent decision made. Paul writes to the Galatian church because they were listening to the Judaizers, who were teaching contrary to the Council of Acts 15. In the letter, he states that the only requirement imposed on them in the Council of Jerusalem was to remember the poor; there are no words about the instructions of Acts 15 (all of which fall under the rubric of idolatry, not general behavior). My initial point, though, was that the criteria that the early Church used to make a major shift in their teachings did not begin with a reinterpretation of the Law. They saw evidence of the Spirit of Jesus Christ working through the Gentiles, and that made them rethink how they related to the Law. So your question, "are any of these other things now made lawful for us?" is problematic to the discussion of Grace vs. Law as it shows up in Acts (implicitly) and in the letters of Paul (explicitly). There is a freedom to live into the grace of Jesus... being guided by the Law but understanding its limits. The Law is not abrogated. Not one stroke of a letter. So the questions that Antwuan poses about urge vs. action must take into account the products of ministry. If "Jacob" is gay and in a monogamous relationship, and the Spirit blesses his ministry and doesn't call him to question his relationship, do I open my Bible and try to convict him of his sin? Or does that make me a Judaizer, expecially when I can also see that the fruits of the Spirit are producing new seeds and those seeds are producing more fruit?

@timmcgeary
@timmcgeary

You touch on a lot of diverse points, so let me see if I can collect them all. If I miss some, please let me know, as it is not intentional. "So is there any doctrine that we can definitely say is true?" I'm not really sure how you could infer that I'm challenging all doctrine. I was simply making a point about ordination. Plus getting into a discussion about what is true or not would be long and philosophically laden. As far as ordination, I did look at the link, but it doesn't really give any biblical support for the hierarchy of ordination we have today. I think it's a loaded interpretation to apply it to Joseph in Egypt, but the NT examples are all appointments of service, not authority. No matter where the shift happened, ordination of pastors, elders, or deacons are all primarily focused on authority rather than service. Not all, which is why I said primarily. This is really more a symptom of spiritual laziness/apathy in the Western church than based on dominance by clergy and lay leaders. "and i mean, really, we are all sinners struggling along.......it's inevitable that we won't be able to get along all the time, hence all the splits." But we are not all sinners struggling along, we are sinners who don't struggle because we follow leaders you tell us what we should think or do. Yes, gross over generalization, but the vast majority of us don't give a rip about some of these issues; we simply just follow along, seek to be spoon-fed, and avoid getting our hands dirty. Myself included. It's very easy to type these words and very hard to back them up within my life. I try, but chiefly fail. "If it's genuinely systematic, a theology will attempt to harmonise rather than ignore seemingly dispirate statements, making sense of the whole revealed council lof God. Scripture really does tend to interpret itself too.....though personal interpretations are of course a danger." Actually I would argue that any systematic method will not attempt to harmonize, but rather focus only on what makes the point the system is trying to make. It's a classic modernism/scientific/enlightment model of finding evidential support. The pre-modern/pre-scientific manner in which the books and letters of the Bible were written were not done so to support picking and choosing from here and there, but to read the whole of the individual book in context without any other elements read into it. For example, most, if not all of the letters ascribed to Paul were written before any of the gospels were written. The communities Paul wrote to only had oral stories to go by. They didn't have the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, or the uncanonized gospels of Peter, Thomas, Mary, etc. They simply had what they had heard from Paul and other apostles. "Really, i'm not sure what you are trying to say.....if everything is personal interpretation, why don't we just call it a day and go home, because anything we say is merely talking past each other from within our own unique truth defining universes." For this topic, I was simply trying to say that ordination standards and hierarchical church organization are extra-biblical and entirely interpretation. If we can agree to discuss this within that context, as I said in my reply to Antwuan above, this specific discussion can be disarmed in a way to discuss outside of a definitive "the Bible says this exactly" heated discussions. Even if everything is personal interpretation, that interpretation does not affect what Jesus has already done for us all, nor changes the command to Love God and Love others. Let's agree to that, and serve side by side. That's all the organization any of us really need, right?

@timmcgeary
@timmcgeary

Antwuan, I actually mean the entire hierarchy of ordination from any denomination is extra-biblical, not just the Presby church. If we look at the various hierarchies denominations setup as designed for the purpose of self-preservation rather than biblical, then the discussion on this topic can be disarmed in a way to be more productive OR it shifts to whether ordination and these hierarchies are necessary the live out the gospel. As far as your question about the Timothy passages, I'll say this: Paul is not defining requirements to be a leader OVER people, but UNDER people. Paul is very consistent in all of his letters that Jesus lowered himself to serve and save all, forsaking his authority and taking on the status of servant. Likewise the qualities Paul encourages Timothy to discover in his community are ones that FREE people to serve others, not be authority over others. They are qualities that show the person is able to give of themselves without distractions that will ruin their ability to serve. Having only one spouse means your attention is not divided between multiple intimate relationships. Having a respectful order within your house means that they have served their children in the way of Jesus to love others before yourself and they are emulating that. Additionally Paul encourages those that are not overcome with wine or conceit or violence or debate or money because those are all obstacles to loving the LORD our God with all our heart, mind, and strength. All of the above is consistent with the "Love God, Love Others" greatest commandment Jesus taught. None of it is about authority. All of it is about service. None of it is about self-preservation. All of it is about giving of yourself to God and others.

antwuanm
antwuanm moderator

That's a great point Jonathan...

Adam BIrkholtz
Adam BIrkholtz

@ridingacross I'm pretty sure the Judaizers believed the people not doing the rituals were choosing to ignore Christ and live in sin as well.  You can look at them and say that those are just "rituals" unnecessary for salvation and look at another ritual and say salvation hinges on that.

ridingacross
ridingacross

Hi Bill, If you need to clear up some spelling, then i certainly need to clear up my choice of words! You are right that the Law has not been 'abrogated', and i'm really not sure why i used that word at all....proabably was thinking about getting to the rest of the reply. What i was struggling to say was that, as we understand, for those under the New Covenant the Civil and Ceremonial, deitary laws and laws on clean and unclean etc were not carried over, because they were fulfilled in Jesus, who they had pointed to from the beginning. Moral laws, which proceed from the nature of God, are eternal as He is...... "but I would like to point out that Jesus is not so clear on the Gentile question" Act 10:13 A voice came to him, "Get up, Peter, kill and eat!" Act 10:14 But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean." Act 10:15 Again a voice came to him a second time, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." Act 10:16 This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky. Jesus does seems pretty clear about it.....note the threefold repetition. Peter understands the words to apply to both food and gentiles, and we see the results in the next verses. "My initial point, though, was that the criteria that the early Church used to make a major shift in their teachings did not begin with a reinterpretation of the Law. They saw evidence of the Spirit of Jesus Christ working through the Gentiles, and that made them rethink how they related to the Law" I'm not sure i understand what you mean here....to me, it looks like the sign from God, Peter's vision, was the starting point; Act 10:28 And he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. Act 10:29 "That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me." Peter says the vision was the reason, not him having seen signs of the Holy Spirit in the Gentiles. If you check the sequence in Acts 10, it is definitely the vision that comes first, before the servants of Cornelius arrive, or Gentiles are said to have the Holy Spirit. That comes later in the same chapter. Maybe i'm missing your point, it wouldn't surprise me! "So your question, "are any of these other things now made lawful for us?" is problematic to the discussion of Grace vs. Law as it shows up in Acts (implicitly) and in the letters of Paul (explicitly). There is a freedom to live into the grace of Jesus... being guided by the Law but understanding its limits" I'm not sure i understand why the question is problematic.....again, if im missing your point please do fill me in. We do have freedom, yes we do.......but is it to be used as an excuse for sin? I'm sure we agree that "All things are lawful" in 1Cor6 doesn't mean that Paul considers that in the most expansive and literal sense? Most of the chapter is about turning people away from fornications....homosexuality included, at least as it is usually understood. "If "Jacob" is gay and in a monogamous relationship, and the Spirit blesses his ministry and doesn't call him to question his relationship, do I open my Bible and try to convict him of his sin?" Yes, though it's not easy or comfortable to do, because it is still a sin that is being lived in without it being seen as such. It comes back to the usual example of being a thief or an adulterer, or as we saw in Lev 18 and 20 in my last reply to you, engaged in all manner of sexual behaviours - would we condone anyone denying those are sins if they lived doing them all the time? Because the Lord chooses to save people through the work of a particular man doesn't mean that everything that man is doing is OK; for the sake of His great Mercy, and the people involved, the Lord may for a time endure with us in our unrepentance....but not forever, and not because He is blessing or ignoring our rebellion against Him. The phrase 'seared conscience' comes to mind.... If anything, such a man in ministry as you describe desperately needs to be warned of his predicament, because those in ministry are to be judged more severely than others. "Or does that make me a Judaizer, expecially when I can also see that the fruits of the Spirit are producing new seeds and those seeds are producing more fruit?" Wouldn't think that it does - the Judaizers were pushing rituals fulfilled by Christ as being necessary to salvation. To warn a man in ministry who is deceived by sin makes you more of a friend than an enemy.

Bill S
Bill S

I gotta work on my spelling. "Nevi'im" in the first paragraph and "especially" in the last. Please be forgiving of other typos.

ridingacross
ridingacross

"I mean to say that the communities of eklesia were coming together to try to live out the teachings of Jesus together (not individually) as best as they could understand it together in consensus" Im sure you are right about that, but id also add that by looking at the example of the first church in Acts, where Peter and the Apostles were present, it does seem to be that they were coming together at least as much to simply hear the Word being preached by those who had been taught by the Lord, and how to see Christ throughout the Old Testament books. We all still need to be constantly reminded of the Gospel, of how Jesus has paid for our sins and saved us completely, as they were reminded back then, and not see the Gospel as something that you hear sometimes as an aside, the majority of the preachings being about what you need to get done. And there are also examples of believers being alone or in small family sized groups: the ethiopian that the Lord took Phillip out to, and the numerous examples of households being saved, with no mentions of a wider christian community. "this led to some communities forking the gospel thus leading Paul to write letters of corrections to individual communities. This does go back to why I put more stock in reading Galatians, for example, as an individual letter than trying to find Paul's system of theology that weaves in and out of all of the letters ascribed to him" Yes, folk did go wrong......but to be wrong, there needs to be a standard against which it is measured. Paul writes to them explaining how they have gone wrong somewhere by explaining the correct doctrines. Really, i find it quite strange to think that we should look at the letters of Paul, that we both agree the Lord has included in His Word for our education and reproof, and not see them as being both addressed to the individual churches AND to all believers in all times. I just cant see any reason to do that...... "For one, Paul's eschatology changed through the years of his missions." To avoid implying that there were corrections in Pauls eschatology, which would mean that perhaps he really hadnt received revealed information, id use the word "developed" instead. As time went on, Paul did have further revelation of what the end times meant, what would happen, and his own chances of seeing it, but i wouldnt say that anything really changed in the sense that there were revisions to old ideas. It also is uncomfortable to use words like "matured" in regards to scripture, to me at least, as it sounds weighted towards the idea that the scriptures are human productions more than they are the Lords revealed words. Its a small point i guess in some ways, but there it is! I suppose i just view everything that is written in the Bible as being there on purpose for teaching, for reproof, for encouragement and for telling us about the Lord, what He has done for us and how we are to think about, believe and act towards Him before men......i dont believe that we can point to this part or that part and say it has less value in those terms than any other part. All the letters of the Bible are Red Letters. "but I say that cautiously because I fear that instead of one universal organization, we all are living under a myriad of systems we live under that many follow in idolatrous ways. This includes both sacred and secular systems, as is evidence just as much in politics and it is within the church." I agree that there are many idolatrous doctrines and consequent practices, but there is also a great deal more truth around since the Reformation times, and more freedom to believe it, at least in some places. And we will be in such turmoil untill the Lord returns and sets everything straight once and for all.....the best we can do now is to look to Him and His written Word "How's that for bringing it back on topic, Antwuan? :) " Pretty slick id say ;-) "I've enjoyed this conversation very much. Looking forward to more in the future. " Same here on both counts, for sure! Im sure there are important points ive missed, but supppose its easy to miss stuff when there are longer breaks in the conversation. Please do point out where i did this for the next time :-) take care, james *RE Postmodernity, you might find this discussion interesting: http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/2010/05/the-pa...

ridingacross
ridingacross

"No, not at all, but I also believe that neither Jesus nor the writers intended the Bible to be so exclusive to define the boundaries of our faith journey. " This does seem to be shifting the posts a little, so to speak. On the one hand it is said that the bible is a very human product, but then it is said that we do have the bible the Lord intended, but that it isnt meant to define our faith and practice. Also, the phrase "define the boundaries of our faith journey" is a little unclear....would you define these terms please? Forgive me if im misunderstanding here. But, if i catch your meaning, in saying that there are sources outside of the Word of God that can define and regulate our faith and understanding of God, id say that this is exactly the source of the many corruptions that you have mentioned in your previous comments. Once we open ourselves to input from places other than the Scriptures as we have them now, literally anything can make its way into our doctrine and practice. The Roman Church is an important example of this of course, having for ages past counted the traditions of men as equal to, many would say above, the Word of God. Interpretations are one things, and there are challenges there for sure, but if we say that the Bible is not supposed to be our sole guide and rule of faith, then all meaningful debate ceases because there is no agreed upon foundation: every "word of the spirit" can be counted as "the Lord doing a new thing", and poof we have another cult in the making. But lets not forget that the Lord Himself constantly refered to the scriptures when He was talking to people....look at His dealings with the Pharasees for example, and when He spoke with the rich young man: "there is none good but God", which collects many verses from the Tanakh into a single sentence. Everything recorded for us that Jesus said is not only scripture in its own right but also fully scriptural: the NT is the OT revealed. Peter confirmed everything Paul wrote as being scripture too, which goes against those who would accept the OT but question the NT: 2peter3:16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, The rest of the scriptures, and in some translations, "the other scriptures". I just dont think that we have anything in the bible itself that would permit us to look outside of it for regulating guidance so far as the faith and doctrine is concerned. And if as you say, the bible is not the only guide, then what else are we to trust? Honestly though im not equipped to make a good defense of the Bible, so ill just point you to someone who is: http://vintage.aomin.org/White25.html http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/... "This is where I will admit to have nothing consistent to offer. I do know that I don't want to define rules, as I'm not in a position to make such an authoritative list. Like anyone, I have preferences to church community and organization structure, but my preferences aren't nearly as important as the livelihood of the community. " This is one of the main deficiencies found in post modern approaches to the Bible and Doctrine: we say that we dont like hard rules which confine, but then have trouble saying why the things we believe are true in the first place...its all ends up being true for me but maybe not for you. The point is that surely there are rules defined already for us in the scriptures, and by what reason do we put them to one side? Are our natural preferences or sensitivities counted above the Word which says homosexuality is a sin, or that a pastor should have such and such a standard? In reference to the last sentence in the above quote, there again is a big problem in postmodern thinking* - it places the good of the community (how that good is defined im not sure) above the good of sound doctrine, something that Paul for example never did. Really he was quite the opposite way and often exhorted people to hold on to sound doctrine though it cause them trouble and many would not want to hear it. Jesus Himself was not afraid to push away those who He knew would not stand to hear His hard sayings That sounds like a very divisive attitude to have if community was the most important thing!

ridingacross
ridingacross

Hi Tim, The Lord has allowed a little break from moving around, and the time to be here and reply. I hope you are well and that the Lord is looking after you in whatever your daily life brings. So, this is a bit long i guess but theres not a great rush to reply after all. "I'll preface the rest of my response with a simple warning: I have not developed a fully consistent worldview on any of this. Much has evolved over the past 3-5 years through various life experiences........" Sure thing, we are all learning. Looking at the scripture and historical vs modern examples has taught me much also "I believe they are inspired by God through Jesus and the Spirit, but no more or less than they inspire today" Refering back to the canon being inspired, what do you think to the tables and what was said arguing for it being established by the Lords will? But to address the quote above, would you then say that it is possible to have newly written documents presented to us that we should regard as equal with the rest of the canon? There are many important implications in viewing the canon as remaining open. What are we to make of the Lords warning to not add anything to "this book" in the closing paragraphs of the Revelation? Few have supposed it to be limited to that single volume alone, and for good reasons.....Islam, Mormonism and the other cults that claim to receive the continuing "revelation" of the True and Living God. "I do believe there are human elements all over the entire collection of biblical books, and that should not be discounted. It's important to wrestle over these elements and come to them with openness and an honesty that we are all imperfect, just as the writers were imperfect." There are human elements for sure, i agree. And the many writers were all sinners, no doubt. We too are wicked and depraved in the flesh, very very true. But is not the Lord above all of these things, more than able to allow for His chosen writers, His tools, to write as themselves and yet still produce through them a perfect, inerrant and faithful end result that we can still to this day rely on to be the same as He intended it to be? I think He can, and that He has done this amazing thing. If you were to follow the links to the radio shows from my blog (right hand side under links) you would be able to find many shows dealing with the topic of biblical trustworthiness. I hope that if you have the time you might do that, and come to be reassured that the Lord has indeed given and preserved us His Word. As for our own weaknesses in reading that Word, i agree that the challenge is real. But i would just ask you to look at what you now know to be true, and look at why you know that to be true in the first place: if it is possible to know for sure that the Lord Jesus Christ dead for ours sins, for Your sins, then also know that it is possible, and is not arrogance at all, to know that other things are written and true also. God be with us all as we read His Word.

ridingacross
ridingacross

Hi Tim, Just wanted to let you know that i am traveling at the moment, and wont be able to get into a reply for a little while. I will lookforward to doing so at the first chance thanks again james

@timmcgeary
@timmcgeary

Thanks, Antwuan. Looking forward to reading your future blogs on these topics. @Riding - I'll preface the rest of my response with a simple warning: I have not developed a fully consistent worldview on any of this. Much has evolved over the past 3-5 years through various life experiences, books I've read, personal investigation, and thoughtful dialogue with people I trust in my faith community, with none of us really agreeing on everything. "The middle way being where it is held to be true that God's Word is a consistant expression capable of being made sense of by careful comparison throughout the whole...that it actually does have definite things to say, however much we as fallen creatures fiddle around with it." Yes, I believe this is a good middle way, but still a stretch for most to agree with. As hopefully will be evident, I'm most interested in finding a middle way as much as possible. "Further to that, what would you say about the production of the individual books within the canon? Are they entirely human productions also?" I believe they are inspired by God through Jesus and the Spirit, but no more or less than they inspire today. I do believe there are human elements all over the entire collection of biblical books, and that should not be discounted. It's important to wrestle over these elements and come to them with openness and an honesty that we are all imperfect, just as the writers were imperfect. "Would you say that we have a bible that the Lord didn't intend for us to have?" No, not at all, but I also believe that neither Jesus nor the writers intended the Bible to be so exclusive to define the boundaries of our faith journey. "Also, how can we say that these things are wrong? What are you using as your rule for how a pastor should be?" This is where I will admit to have nothing consistent to offer. I do know that I don't want to define rules, as I'm not in a position to make such an authoritative list. Like anyone, I have preferences to church community and organization structure, but my preferences aren't nearly as important as the livelihood of the community. "Correct me if i misunderstand what you mean, but i'm not sure that the first meetings of the 'eklesia' were talking shops were things were agreed upon by concensus." I mean to say that the communities of eklesia were coming together to try to live out the teachings of Jesus together (not individually) as best as they could understand it together in consensus. Obviously this led to some communities forking the gospel (to use my geeky side of IT) thus leading Paul to write letters of corrections to individual communities. This does go back to why I put more stock in reading Galatians, for example, as an individual letter than trying to find Paul's system of theology that weaves in and out of all of the letters ascribed to him. For one, Paul's eschatology changed through the years of his missions. What he says in his early writings about the urgency of some things toward the return of Jesus changes as he becomes more aware that his life will pass before Jesus returns. That's not the best example, but like anyone, his writings mature. "All i'll say is that thank God we don't have to depend upon a single unquestionable human organisation anymore. If that was the case, you and me both would living under a system of idolatry and doctrines of demons. I wonder what the USA, for example, would have been like with the Bible in natives languages.... " In essence, I completely agree, but I say that cautiously because I fear that instead of one universal organization, we all are living under a myriad of systems we live under that many follow in idolatrous ways. This includes both sacred and secular systems, as is evidence just as much in politics and it is within the church. Hence the political and spiritual struggle within the denomination that started this whole post. How's that for bringing it back on topic, Antwuan? :) I've enjoyed this conversation very much. Looking forward to more in the future.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

You guys are fine. Much of what you are covering, I will be dealing with in future blogs, but It's good to see what you guys have to say. I'm learning!

ridingacross
ridingacross

Hi Tim, Thanks again for replying, this is bringing up interesting points. Hope your flight or whatever went ok. Antwuan, if any of this is going too far off topic for you, just let us know! "They don't see a simple taking a couple verses out of context to reply to a question as interpretation in and of itself. My intention is simply to level the contextual playing field. :) " The kind of treatment you refer to there can be a bit extreme, and can be used to support pretty much any doctrine.......it can certainly lead to highly personal interpretations. But so can counting everything as only personal interpretation! It seems to me that these are two views of scriptural useage are on opposite sides of a central position. The middle way being where it is held to be true that God's Word is a consistant expression capable of being made sense of by careful comparison throughout the whole...that it actually does have definite things to say, however much we as fallen creatures fiddle around with it. Would you say that we can know without doubt any doctrine in Scripture is true? If so, how? "Actually, no, I don't say that. There are enough historical accounts of disputes of which books/letters should be in and which shouldn't be to believe our canon is entirely human driven." Further to that, what would you say about the production of the individual books within the canon? Are they entirely human productions also? There are a few tables on this Wiki page covering book inclusion in major canon traditions; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_canon It is very interesting, and comforting, to notice a couple of points about both tables; In the OT/Tanakh table, at first it seems that there is little agreement beteen any tradition, but notice that every book we have in our canon is present in every other canon also. And that is because the books we have in our OT canon are the ones that have long agreed upon by their original recipients, the Jews. Apocryphal books have never been counted as Scripture by the people they were first given to, though some other groups have disagreed with that judgement. In the NT table, a sea of green; some books have been questioned at one time or another, but have not been taken out. The Lord could have of course included a list of the books He wanted in His book, and there would perhaps have been less question about it (though that seems unlikely!), but for whatever reason He has chosen to allow debate on the matter, while also clearly guiding things, as seen in the wide agreement. Would you say that we have a bible that the Lord didn't intend for us to have? God has preserved His Word! Overview of scripture telling us He would: http://www.preservedword.com/article.php?id=46 (MIght be a KJV only site, which i do not agree with) "I don't think the authors of the NT anticipated the type of "ministry" we now have in the Western world, including the Catholic and two major Orthodox traditions" I would agree that the things you comment on are problems in the way that a pastor relates to his flock; impersonal, business driven priests and pastors are not the best way for things to be. But scripture doesn't say that pastors should be this way at all, and we should try not to reject what it does say just because in some places things have gone astray. Also, how can we say that these things are wrong? What are you using as your rule for how a pastor should be? "That's what Church meetings have become, but they started as everyone coming together to fit it all out together." Correct me if i misunderstand what you mean, but i'm not sure that the first meetings of the 'eklesia' were talking shops were things were agreed upon by concensus. In Acts, we see Peter asking for people to take care of giving food out etc, so that he and the other apostles could use their time for teaching the Word that they had received from the Lord. The Lord Himself told the Apostles, through Peter, to ''feed my sheep'' "Some say that congregations were better off pre-Gutenberg when no one had their own Bible and had to be dependent on priests and monks. That's up for debate for me, too. " All i'll say is that thank God we don't have to depend upon a single unquestionable human organisation anymore. If that was the case, you and me both would living under a system of idolatry and doctrines of demons. I wonder what the USA, for example, would have been like with the Bible in natives languages....

@timmcgeary
@timmcgeary

Didn't mean to ignore your new comment - I thought I would be notified by email, which I wasn't. since I had some time to kill in an airport, I thought I'd check... I only have time to touch on a few of your questions: Yes, I guess I do mean that everything is interpretation. I can see how I framed the whole reply in that vain. While I believe that everything I bring to the table is my own interpretation, many I encounter don't believe that. They don't see a simple taking a couple verses out of context to reply to a question as interpretation in and of itself. My intention is simply to level the contextual playing field. :) "But would you not say that the Lord anticipated, designed even, the eventual collection of the 66 recognised books into a complete volume, and had them written with this in mind?" Actually, no, I don't say that. There are enough historical accounts of disputes of which books/letters should be in and which shouldn't be to believe our canon is entirely human driven. That, and the fact that the 5 major versions of Judaism/Christianity (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and Judaism) each have a different canon. No two actually agree, with obviously Judaism only holding to the OT. And the Christians ones disagree with both OT and NT canonization. "And are there not also some grounds for thinking that those who the Lord calls into ministry, while being servants, also do have some authority in their teaching capacity, for example?" I don't think the authors of the NT anticipated the type of "ministry" we now have in the Western world, including the Catholic and two major Orthodox traditions. What was ministry in a very small, flat, and intimate context has now because large, hierarchical, and largely impersonal, except for those that happen to develop close relationships to a pastor. Otherwise, it's about church business, not people. There are great exceptions to this observation, and I know some very good ones in my own church. But though I'm good friends with one of the pastors in my church, I know he is focused as much, if not a little more, on the business side of his ministry than people individually. "Would you say that Church meetings are primarily for the feeding of the sheep by their under-shepherd (pastor), or something else?" That's what Church meetings have become, but they started as everyone coming together to fit it all out together. Given all the extra information we have beyond what 1st-century followers of The Way had, you'd think we'd be better off, but I think generally our congregations have no intention to figure it out other than listening to the pastor. Some say that congregations were better off pre-Gutenberg when no one had their own Bible and had to be dependent on priests and monks. That's up for debate for me, too. There's a very good book called "The Rise and Fall of the Bible" by Timothy Beal, a Christian who teaches religion studies at Case Western Reserve University. It's quite an eye-opening historical look at the Bible, yet includes personal stories and antidotes on how to deal with these historical conflicts within our faith.

ridingacross
ridingacross

"Even if everything is personal interpretation, that interpretation does not affect what jesus has already done for us all, nor changes the command to Love God and Love others. Let's agree to that, and serve side by side. That's all the organization any of us really need, right? " But if everything is personal interpretation then even the core of the faith, the Lord's sacrificial death for our sins, is far from solid. And without a core agreed upon, it's hard to serve side by side. Not that i'm saying that's the case here in any way! Just to include soemthing from your reply to Antwuan; "Paul is very consistent in all of his letters that Jesus lowered himself to serve and save all, forsaking his authority and taking on the status of servant. " He did, of course, in that He was made under the Law for a time, but He was still Lord and teacher of unquestionable authority. He commanded the storm to be still, for example. Jesus said many times that the greatest among us would also be our servants. And, many apostles called themselves servants..and yet were given great authority. Can i ask you how you think that pastors, elders etc should be regarded? do you consider their teachings or council to have greater weight than others? do they have authority within the congregation to correct or discipline? Sorry if i have included too many subjects, i'm really not trying to derail the discussion! It's hard not to have such long replies with so many interesting things being said!

ridingacross
ridingacross

Hi Tim, Thanks for going through and replying. "I'm not really sure how you could infer that I'm challenging all doctrine. I was simply making a point about ordination" I guess it was just the general progression of the last two paragraphs, where you began with the ordination issue and then broadened it by saying : "All of it is based on a systematic method of picking and choosing this verse and this verse, but not that verse, to define the church's mission, statement of belief, charter, definition of leader, etc. What is biblical or not is just not an argument worth having until we acknowledge everything we bring is based on interpretation." The last part really did seem to me to be saying that everything was personal interpretation. As i said, if that was my misunderstanding i apologise. "But we are not all sinners struggling along, we are sinners who don't struggle because we follow leaders you tell us what we should think or do" I guess i was meaning that the main reason for splits that create new denominations is often theological rather than methodological, the particular sinners i was refering to be the ones that have the actual disagreement. "seek to be spoon-fed, and avoid getting our hands dirty" I'm not sure what you mean here, though i've heard some pastors speak in a very similar sounding way. Would you say that Church meetings are primarily for the feeding of the sheep by their under-shepherd (pastor), or something else? "Actually I would argue that any systematic method will not attempt to harmonize, but rather focus only on what makes the point the system is trying to make" That does not represent my experience in looking at Reformed theology, which in my opinion does a wonderful job of taking in the full breadth of scripture and weighing seemingly opposing statements agaisnt each other. The Reformers were very concerned with God's Sovreignty and ultimate exhaltation, but even that focus is dervied from scripture. The outcome is not always, or even often, comfortable to the flesh but it does make very strong cases all the same. "The pre-modern/pre-scientific manner in which the books and letters of the Bible were written were not done so to support picking and choosing from here and there, but to read the whole of the individual book in context without any other elements read into it. " But would you not say that the Lord anticipated, designed even, the eventual collection of the 66 recognised books into a complete volume, and had them written with this in mind? The doctrine of the Trinity for example, is the perfect example of a systematically arrived at doctrine, because there are parts of this very high idea distributed all the way through the 66 books, it emerging from the whole into a picture greater than the parts. "For this topic, I was simply trying to say that ordination standards and hierarchical church organization are extra-biblical and entirely interpretation. If we can agree to discuss this within that context, as I said in my reply to Antwuan above, this specific discussion can be disarmed in a way to discuss outside of a definitive "the Bible says this exactly" heated discussions. " It might be correct to some extent that the level of authority given to members of some denominations clergy exceeds biblical limits, notably the Roman Catholic church, surely we can agree that there are standards set for those called to minstry? And are there not also some grounds for thinking that those who the Lord calls into ministry, while being servants, also do have some authority in their teaching capacity, for example? Timothy was given the authority to appoint elders, and Paul told him not to allow people to ignore his authority because of being young. I suppose i just can't agree that the scripture says nothing definite on the matter.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

I see. Good observations. I don't know that I am saying anything about authority, but I suppose I assume some level of authority is present, though only for the pure organizational aspect of things. Paul, himself held such "authority", if that is the term we are using, and was writing to timothy about picking out good standing folks to work out administrative matters as well as spiritual instruction. But my article centers more on the aspect of spiritual growth and mentoring, not so much on authority. There are reasonable reasons for someone to be "looked up to" in a sense as a spiritual big brother of sorts. And I think Paul is saying, before you call yourself a big brother, check out these areas in your life. And I think that has translated differently in different denominations... including a "power" translation that I agree is not really here.