Saturday, September 11, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

I once was blind but now I'm...blind?

There was an AP article on 8/25 talking about the ongoing split in the ELCA denomination after their vote last year to allow openly and sexually active gays to serve as pastors. They mentioned that there were two pastors crying at the convention after the vote occurred. One was crying after realizing he would have to leave the ELCA after 42 years of ministry. The other (Anita Hill) was crying tears of joy and relief. She was recently quoted as saying, "At my church there is a sense of great celebration, of people being very happy that our work to make the ELCA a more inclusive place has come to fruition."

She also made the following statement: "There are some who feel they must leave the ELCA over that," she said. "I feel sad about that, it's unfortunate. But to feel you have to leave over the inclusion of your brothers and sisters — that diminishes who we are as the body of Christ."

Ya know...she almost makes a good point in that last statement. The Body of Christ is made up of sinners which means that everyone can be included. However, the diminishment happens when individuals put their love of sin ABOVE their love of God. These openly gay individuals need to be loved and discipled by the Body of Christ. But you can't be shepherding the Lord's flock when you are defiantly mocking His truth found in the Bible. However, this is where I think a lot of people haven't thought this issue all the way through.

The primary issue shouldn't be sexual lifestyle. The primary issue is whether or not you have intentional sin in your life that you are choosing over your relationship with God. That is an extremely serious matter for any Christian but even more so for someone who is put in authority and ministry over others. It just so happens that someone who is open about their homosexuality is easy to spot. What if a pastor was open about his love of pornography or his enjoyment of going to the casino every Friday night and gambling significant amounts of his money? What if a pastor had a love of overeating or was a compulsive liar who saw no reason to stop? Shouldn't they also be removed from the pulpit under this same argument? I am talking about situations where the pastor is actively committing a sin and not only feeling no conviction but taking pride in it.

It is almost a certainty that there are many pastors leading churches today who fall under this category of willing, intentional rejection of God's Word but their sin takes place behind closed doors where no one can see. I certainly agree that any individual who is proudly denying the truth of God's Word in their life is not fit for ministry. Let's be clear. People aren't leaving the ELCA because they don't want to include their brothers and sisters. They are leaving because they don't want to exclude God.

We should just remain cognizant that the issue is a heart issue and while we may be best served to not align ourselves with their flawed theology, we also can't give up on them. The god of this world blinds all of us from time to time and we are all subject to weakness of the flesh. If a church must split over such issues then so be it. But let's not stop reaching across the aisle to admonish and encourage out of love lest we also slip into our own season of foolish pride.

Hosea 4:6-8 (New International Version)

6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
"Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
I also will ignore your children.

7 The more the priests increased,
the more they sinned against me;
they exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful.

8 They feed on the sins of my people
and relish their wickedness.

"I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." - Luke 15:7

Sunday, September 5, 2010

America's Christian Heritage

Some use the word "progress" in describing the removal of God from the public square and the government. I prefer another word...tragedy.

John Adams wrote in 1798, 'Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.' What Adams suggests is the people's character impacts our government's character. The early generations of Americans were independent-minded folks. Help for those in need came from the church, the family, or the community. Citizens expected only a few limited functions to be performed by the state. In 21st century America, we expect the government to provide Social Security retirement and disability, unemployment insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, student loans, and Pell Grants. Parents expect their children to have a free public education through thirteen years of school. ... We cannot effect a permanent reduction in the size and scope of government, or meaningful government reform, unless we change our culture's demand for the government to provide our every need. ... This isn't to say government must or can solve our culture's problems. However, those on the right who think conservative goals for limited government can be achieved through passing economic legislation are spitting in the wind. We will never have a limited government until we have a culture that allows for one." --columnist Adam Graham

This is cool...

One of my prayers for myself and for other Christians is that we would just be so passionately amazed by what we find in God's Word that we can't wait to go tell others about it.