Tuesday, June 23, 2015

One Blood

The social media termites have been gnawing away at the tragedy in Charleston last week and doing their very best to deflect us from the fact that nine black Christians were martyred by one white boy who sat with them at prayer then shot them. The social media termites want us to look at the Confederate battle flag, and not at the martyrs and the testimony of our fellow Christian’s at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston and the termites are trying to stir up our anger over a flag. That discussion is a side issue. There is a Proverb regarding social media posts that says, “Pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife” Why would the social media termites be interested in producing strife? [Proverbs 30:33]. But I would remind you that we Christians are all of one blood, regardless of our ethnic backgrounds, and by the blood of Christ we all have been redeemed.

“Splendour and honour and kingly power are yours by right, O Lord our God, For you created everything that is, and by your will they were created and have their being; And yours by right, O Lamb that was slain, for with your blood you have redeemed for God, From every family, language, people, and nation, a kingdom of priests to serve our God” [Revelation 4:11, 5:9-10]. 

Instead of becoming indignant over flag waving, whatever the flag, become indignant over what has happened in Charleston. Resolve to let that tragedy and the Redeeming Blood of Christ work a transformation in your heart and join me in praying: “O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen” [BCP. p. 100].

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Break Point

We are coming to a break point in the Episcopal Church. The General Convention in Salt Lake City, June 23-July 3, 2015 will consider several important issues facing our denomination. “Among them is a change in the Marriage canons, a proposal to authorize Blessings of Same Sex Unions, moving from a Provisional Rite to a Trial Rite, a Restructuring of the polity of the Episcopal Church, and of course, the election of the next Presiding Bishop (June 27th).”

Even though the momentary target is sexuality, the underlying challenge is a rebellion against our very understanding of how our God communicates to us. What is at issue is the authority of Scripture. Do we believe that The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contain all things necessary to salvation and are the rule and ultimate standard of faith [Lambeth 1888]? Or, do we believe that human beings are the sole judge of what is right and good?

The story is as old as Adam and Eve. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” [Genesis 3:6]. The resounding answer of Adam and Eve was that their opinion outweighed the opinion of God. The result was disaster.

The clear testimony of Scripture is that “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools” [Romans 1:21-22]…“For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” [Romans 1:26-28].

The very powerful LGBT lobby would have us believe that they are sole arbitrator of what is right in the area of sexuality. They do not want our mere acceptance, but they want our approval. “Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” [Romans 1:32].

What happens at this coming General Convention has the potential of tearing our denomination further apart, and the echoes will resound in the larger Anglican Communion. As Western Christianity departs from the clear teaching of Holy Scripture the mantle of Anglican Historicity and Tradition will inevitably fall on the Two-Thirds World Anglican Churches. Indeed that is already in process.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Facebook and Popular Morality

One of the benefits of Facebook is that it gives a window into popular culture and morality. Looking at some of the things that are posted it is clear that we have raised several generations who have little intrinsic understanding of morality, other than that if it feels good, it must be good.

The Jesus of popular culture is more sweet and loving than Jesus Himself actually is, very simply because Western culture fails to understand that without truth, there can be no actual love. Love and truth can very easily upset those warm, sentimental feelings that people sometimes misconstrue as love.

Something is true not because it feels right, because feelings will justify any number of things; and many of those things are not always beneficial to society as a whole. In doing so we have placed the “rights” and “feelings” of individuals over against what is right and wholesome. Our culture places a high value on self-affirmation without any consideration of how that might affect others. People being what they are, self-affirmation is sometimes little different from self-centeredness.

Jesus not only offered love to all whom he met, but he also offered healing transformation. Jesus never said to people that they should become what they really at heart want to be; He said, “take up your cross and follow me,” and that’s quite a different thing.

“To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labour to make us lovable.”  - [C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain].

C. S. Lewis often quotes George MacDonald, and published an anthology of Macdonald’s sayings.  The following is his second entry titled “Inexorable Love.”

Nothing is inexorable but love. Love which will yield to prayer is imperfect and poor. Nor is it then the love that yields, but its alloy. . . . For love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill of loving, it spends itself to make more lovely, that it may love more; it strives for perfection, even that itself may be perfected--not in itself, but in the object. . . . Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love's kind, must be destroyed. And our God is a consuming fire. [C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald an Anthology, (New York: Macmillan). p.1].

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Have Pity for Bruce Jenner

Don’t laud Bruce Jenner, but do have pity upon him. His model for femininity is the women of the Kardashian tribe. Do you remember that they rose to fame through Kim Kardashian’s friendship with Paris Hilton and the release of a 2003 sex tape with her former boyfriend Ray J? She then posed for a nude pictorial in Playboy. In that environment does Jenner have a chance of understanding heathy female identity? Even the Washington Post is uncertain, “Did Bruce Jenner or Caitlyn Jenner win those Olympic gold medals and appear on those TV shows? And if Caitlyn Jenner did, must history be rewritten? Is every source that refers to “Bruce Jenner, record-breaking athlete” — or “Bruce Jenner, guest star on ‘Silver Spoons'” — now in need of a correction?” Or perhaps is it Bruce Jenner himself who is in need of correction? He should be accepted, as all of us sinners should be, but he does not need our approval. “On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man” [Psalm 12:8].