Jean’s Gospel:You Are One in Christ

You may also like...

172 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    So, at turns over the last couple of days I’ve found myself anxious, fearful, depressed, and angry.
    I think things that I dare not write.
    The conclusion I came to is that even if this country dissolves into civil war and collapses, the church…what’s left of it…will continue on.
    Parts of it will align with and war over binary political ideologies and betray the Master who bought them.
    A remnant will serve Christ and Him alone.
    I need to make sure that I’m in that remnant.
    Period.

  2. Jean says:

    Michael, I think one of the blessing of having a rich Christian tradition is having good hymnody. The thoughts of your comment above, remind me immediately of the last version of Luther’s famous hymn:

    “The Word they still shall let remain
    Nor any thanks have for it;
    He’s by our side upon the plain
    With His good gifts and Spirit.
    And take they our life,
    Goods, fame, child and wife,
    Let these all be gone,
    They yet have nothing won;
    The Kingdom our remaineth.”

    With the Ottoman Empire on one side and the Holy Roman Empire on the other, those words were sung by the first evangelical churches.

    Take heart, my friend.

  3. Jean says:

    Not “last version” Last verse.

  4. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Well played…beautiful.

  5. Em says:

    Add another amen to Jean’s prayer for the Church…
    I do think we are closer to a time that mirrors what the earliest members of the Church experienced than we realize… it is true that time (the unfolding of mankind’s end) and tide do not wait for man to figure things out..
    We may not all agree on how things should be or should be done, but it should be clear to every member of the Body of Christ where our interest and focus should lie – The Way, The Truth and The Life – Christ Jesus

  6. Duane Arnold says:

    I agree, but only “somewhat”. With many of my fundamentalist acquaintances who have married a right wing (and frankly, racist) political agenda with their theology, I have come to the “parting of friends”. When Mr. Trump came to our city right before the election, many church buses were in evidence bringing people to the rally. As they were waiting in line, various segments of the attendees began chanting things like, “white privilege” and “blood and soil”, etc. I saw people waiting spit on media vehicles. Now, I am not even saying that church people were involved in such heinous acts… but they were there… in the same crowd. By their very presence as they witnessed such behavior and stayed in line they gave silent assent to what was happening. I simply, in conscience, cannot hope to paper over the gulf that divides my view of faith and theology from theirs… and that is not even to speak of politics. So I have simply come to the conclusion that theirs is a faith in which I cannot see a commonality with mine. I hope that I’m wrong. If I am, I pray that God will enlighten me. For now, however, I believe that I am watching the growth of a political/religious expression that has very little to do with the faith of the historic Church that I can have no part of in good conscience.

  7. Jean says:

    Duane,

    Zeal for power is a great temptation. Even the original disciples faced it on at least a couple of occasions.

    Then, there is this from Jesus:

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ ”

    These words ought to keep one vigilant

  8. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The last comments from Duane and Jean are quite interesting. Both are saying the “other” side is wrong, ‘I can’t compromise with those people’ – ‘they may not even be Christians who are known by Jesus’ and I can no longer reach across the aisle to understand or work with them.’

    And all this seems to be under the question heading, why can’t we all just get along or why don’t we have unity? How can we if you have drawn a line in the sand?

  9. Duane Arnold says:

    MLD

    In politics, compromise is a positive. In theology, compromise is a deal breaker. You constantly “draw a line in the sand” theologically. Isn’t there something about “people in glass houses…”

  10. Jean says:

    MLD,

    I’m not going to respond to correct your false witness of what I’ve written. Your reputation on this blog of bearing false witness precedes you. I’m not going to feed it.

    If you want to engage me, then you can either ask a question or disagree with something I’ve expressly written.

  11. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, so where is the theological split you have with any Christian who may have been at the Trump event? You readily state you have no idea if the engaged in any bad behavior and if you are honest you would admit that you have no clue how they responded if they did see any. So where is the theological split other than you don’t like their political view?

    Just admit that you do not like fellow Christians who do not agree with or think lime you.

  12. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jean, you can play innocent if you want but when you responded to Duane’s post about those disgusting Christians in Indiana with a Jesus quote, “then there is this from Jesus” – you can’t cover your intentions.

  13. Em says:

    Well… 😁
    I don’t think we have to have total unity to get along… most here find the voices and opinions that i listen to dangerous perversions… Faith or politics… I, in turn, wonder at some of the priorities and views expressed here, but if you bow in wonder and humility at the cross of Christ (the only begotten Son of God)… If coming as a sinful mortal, you ask Him for forgiveness and mercy, then you have my respect…

    Someone, a right winger, sent me a joke:
    It seems that the surgeon announced to a man’s family that the only hope for their loved one was a brain transplant. It was a dangerous procedure and costly – if they wanted a democrat’s brain it would be $5,000,, however, if they opted for a republican brain, it would be just $500.
    “Why the big price difference?” they asked.
    ” Well, it’s easy to find an unused democrat brain, but all the republican brains are used, ” the surgeon replied.
    Now if that had been sent to me by a liberal, the identities of the donors would be swapped… Probably an old joke, but it describes what we see around us … sadly, perhaps in churches, too? As some here would say it, God have mercy 😇

  14. Michael says:

    I have to divide from those who ignore Christ’s commands to care for the least of these on one side and those who distort historic biblical views on sexuality and holiness on the other.

    I can’t judge their souls, but both outlooks are toxic to the historic faith.

    There is a remnant that can sustain the faith and traditions once delivered.

  15. Em says:

    FWIW…
    I think/believe that now in time God interacts differently with nations than He does with indivuduals… each person will give an account, but for the most part (and i’ve seen exceptions) God’s grace gives us time to sort out our lives and, thus i would agree with Michael’s words @ 12:59… Nations, however, seem to mirror their population and, if evil is promoted, brings some pretty horrible results…
    Or so it seems from here today

  16. Jean says:

    Duane,

    Let me take your illustration and place it into the context of my article. If a church decided to bus parishioners to a political rally for either candidate, the parishioners could take that as an endorsement of that candidate by their church, even parishioners who support the other candidate, which could make them feel uncomfortable or worse. This would be a breach of their unity in Christ and likely violate the 2nd Commandment by associating God’s name with a political figure.

    If the church going people were there at the rally in clothing or with signs identifying their faith while ignoring racist activity in their immediate vicinity, a bystander could reasonably see that as either an endorsement or at least tolerance for such behavior. Leaving would be a legitimate reaction, but silent indignation in the midst of evil while representing Christ is evil itself.

  17. Jerod says:

    Deserves a repeat:

    “The Word they still shall let remain
    Nor any thanks have for it;
    He’s by our side upon the plain
    With His good gifts and Spirit.
    And take they our life,
    Goods, fame, child and wife,
    Let these all be gone,
    They yet have nothing won;
    The Kingdom our remaineth.”

    Pray for the preservation of persecuted believers.

  18. Jerod says:

    Three things I believe are synergistic in John 17

    Sanctification in Truth
    Love for Christ and one another
    Unity of the church

    Maybe our greatest gospel sermon is simply our love for one another. Without it there is no unity.

    The model of hypocrisy we have provided America thus far has resulted in the politics of the day.

  19. Em says:

    In John 17 (great chapter revealing the heart of our Lord – IMO) Jesus asks the Father to sanctify us in Truth “Thy word is truth” John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
    are there basic truths to which all we who believe can agree or do we all have to agree to one doctrine from A to Z?

  20. Duane Arnold says:

    MLD

    As usual, you fail to read or, perhaps, to comprehend… the lack of comprehension, I assume to be deliberate… As I said, “With many of my fundamentalist acquaintances who have married a right wing (and frankly, racist) political agenda with their theology, I have come to the ‘parting of friends’.”

  21. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, my reading comprehension is just fine. First you spoke about your friends / personal acquaintances who now hold a right wing, racist position (this is the part you snipped from your larger comment.). Then you went on and spoke of those who were attending the rally and your disappointment that Christians in the crowd were guilty by their very presence. It is these Christians you said you divide with. I will quote you

    “but they were there… in the same crowd. By their very presence as they witnessed such behavior and stayed in line they gave silent assent to what was happening. I simply, in conscience, cannot hope to paper over the gulf that divides my view of faith and theology from theirs… and that is not even to speak of politics. So I have simply come to the conclusion that theirs is a faith in which I cannot see a commonality with mine. I hope that I’m wrong. If I am, I pray that God will enlighten me. For now, however, I believe that I am watching the growth of a political/religious expression that has very little to do with the faith of the historic Church that I can have no part of in good conscience.”

  22. Jean says:

    Em,

    Paul makes it relatively simple: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

  23. Duane Arnold says:

    MLD

    Congrats… you got it about right. I’d give you a B+ on the second attempt.

  24. Em says:

    As a fundamentalist type evangelical, may i say that most are not racist… taking pride in one’s ethnic history is not putting down other ethnicities necessarily…. there’s a pretty good chance if your roots on this continent go back a couple hundred years, that you are quite a mix, no matter your own personal skin tone 😊
    And further, considering groups like antifa and people like Maxine Waters (IMV, i have to ask the question, if Dr. Duane’s 3 pm and related preceding comments are correct, can a Christian participate in any secular demonstrations even if one endorses the cause?

  25. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, as a followup to your division with certain parts of the church – the body of Christ – you are walking through the church parking lot and you spot a car with 2 bumper stickers – Jesus is my co pilot and Trump 2020…
    Should this guy even bother coming to your communion rail?

  26. Duane Arnold says:

    MLD

    Maybe yes, maybe no….

  27. Jim says:

    Michael said, “I have to divide from those who ignore Christ’s commands to care for the least of these..”

    What does this mean? Caring in word and deed, with our own time and money, or demanding that the govt do so?

  28. Em says:

    Jim @ 7:09 pm has me wondering… the Church’s history, if that is our guide, is not entangled in secular government from the standpoint of making demands on it… But
    What if a Believer holds a government position that administers charity … Does the Christian follow government directives? … always? ? ?

  29. Jim says:

    Em, as little as possible? I pay massive taxes to avoid prison, and try to ignore where the money goes for the sake of my sanity.

  30. Jerod says:

    Em points up a conundrum for Public School teachers who provide free education…

  31. The New Victor says:

    Sheep? Goats? It’s hard to tell these days :^p

    I read to my kids the first part of the sermon on the mount last night and queried them: what does poor in heart/spirit mean? Mercy? Loving those who don’t love us?

    I’m so sick of political discourse, but I’ll need to educate them on that all too soon just the same.

  32. Jean says:

    The New Victor,

    It’s very encouraging (and a blessing) to read of fathers teaching the Scriptures to their children. Thank you for being faithful.

  33. Jim says:

    Em, it was late when I saw your response and i completely misunderstood your question. Employees obviously need to do their jobs. If their employers make immoral demands of them, the employee needs to find a different job.

  34. Michael says:

    Jim,

    Much to your consternation we decided long ago as a country that we weren’t libertarians. I don’t know if that’s for good or ill…it just is.
    Let me address the question from a couple of angles here.
    My primary identification is as a Christian, which means a follower of Jesus Christ.
    I am an American by accident of birth, which simply means that I get to follow Christ in a more comfortable place than many.
    Following Christ means (to me) that His ways and attitudes are to be followed before temporal laws of my country of origin.
    Therefore, when I see people fleeing poverty and violence it seems to me that the first question a Christ follower asks is “what can I do to help?”.
    On a micro level that means that before I deal with political ramifications my default attitude is to care and desire to act in compassion to other human beings regardless of where they were born or where they are coming from.
    If my default is to demonize, hate, and fear them, I am acting as an anti-Christ.
    On a macro level, if my country is partially responsible for creating the violence people are fleeing, then my country has a moral responsibility to deal with the damage we caused.
    In the case of Honduras, we propped up this governments reign of terror and helped put down the opposition as recently as 2009.
    We have done so many times throughout Central America for decades.
    We can debate how we should help, what the churches role should be, what the governments role should be, and those particulars are important…but not more important than the default attitude we should have toward the poor and oppressed.
    As long as I’m bloviating…
    It’s the height of hypocrisy to me that the “religious right” champions the unborn child while sending the toddler and teenager back to a living hell because they were born in the wrong place.
    Turn this country “back to God” they say…but that god is a different one than I worship…I would spit in the face of their god and dare him to retaliate.
    I fully understand the issue of using tax money to help people.
    I don’t like the fact that my taxes are used to send our young ones to fight wars we can’t win, then sends them back mentally and physically broken.
    You would say we should do neither…I would say that if we’re going to spend tax money we should spend it on furthering the well being of people, not their ruin.

  35. Xenia says:

    Michael,

    Thank you for summarizing my own feelings so perfectly.

  36. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    Thank you…I’m a bit frustrated…as you can probably tell. 🙂

  37. London says:

    Thank you Michael

  38. Michael says:

    Thank you, London…good to see you here.

  39. Michael says:

    Let me also be clear about something else.
    In El Paso, Los Cruces, and other towns on the border “the church” is doing incredible work…heroic work in helping ameliorate this crisis.
    The Orthodox, the Anglicans, and the Roman Catholics, are working ceaselessly to do what they believe Christ commands.
    The evangelicals are busy trying to convert the Orthodox, the Anglicans, and the Roman Catholics…

  40. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael,

    The day before the election, I started to think to myself that the Christianity I always knew and loved is now just a shell of a system chucked off to the side for political expediency. Thank you for your comments at 8:57am and 9:37am.

  41. bob1 says:

    Nice job, Michael.

  42. Michael says:

    Thanks bob1 and Dan…
    What I believe to be the faith once delivered and the attitudes and actions that accompany that faith have been set aside by many for political gain.
    There is still and will always be a remnant.

  43. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael,

    I recently considered printing a shirt with 19% on it, but knowing where I live I may not make it through many areas without a fight! And to think that people think that I am going to hell because I dared vote for a Democrat.

    I am a believer, but I am continually disgusted by how my faith has been bastardized for political gain. I cannot count how many times I’ve gone to someone’s twitter account and see the proclamation that they are a Christian, and then their twitter feed is full of political diatribes, hate towards Hillary and Obama, and fake news.

  44. Dan from Georgia says:

    the 19% referring to the oft-debated number of those evangelicals that didn’t vote Trump.

  45. Michael says:

    Dan,

    There has always been an issue historically when nationalism and Christianity are melded.
    This is the first time in my adult life that it affects my personal and pastoral ministry…

  46. ( |o )====::: says:

    Michael,
    We progressives made huge progress.
    Sooner or later, people grow tired of being told to be afraid. We reject religious systems that demand constant fear. We meet with others who dare to dream of a better world, who are altruistic without shame or manipulation, who share similar stories of rejecting ways of thinking which reinforce artificial notions of difference. We realize each of us shares our common humanity and we are enriched by “the other” once we say no to being afraid of “the other”.

    Take heart, we shall overcome, indeed, we are overcoming, through reckless love.

  47. Michael says:

    G,

    I don’t think I’m a progressive as much as a simple person seeking to follow Biblical standards.
    In my mind, all of us will have failed if we “fence the table” against those with real or perceived differences.

  48. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael,

    Honestly, this is the first time in my life that I have truly wanted to disown a whole segment of brothers and sisters.

    Wanted to, but won’t because Jesus.

  49. Em says:

    Demographics… I suspect most church goers stay in their comfort zone (Phxp peeps excepted)… and i hate to admit it, but for the most part we are herd creatures…
    If you were old enough to experience WW2 in the U.S., you’d recall the popular song, “Praise the Lord and Pass the Amunition” was a serious expression of the nation’s mindset. Even if you weren’t sure just what made Christmas worth celebrating, you “knew” the United States was a Christian nation. And that was piously expressed best in the movies by Father Bing Crosby… Is that Hollywood portrayal what still reverberates in America? More than likely it just needs another generation to wipe it from the psyche of John Q. Christian…
    More than likely we are in the backwash of the drama of the mid 20th century…
    But be careful what you hope for as the Church has had a resting place on this continent that, looking at the rest of the world and history, was a rare time…
    I guess i am wondering why, Lord?

  50. Kevin H says:

    Michael, thank you for your words back at 8:57 am.

    Sadly, there are a significant amount of Christians in the country right now although they proclaim “God first” are blind to the fact that they are actually prioritizing and filtering things through a nationalistic political lens first. We are all prone to doing it at times, but there seems to be a substantial segment of Christians who do it quite often, it not seemingly always. And while it is seemingly happening most prominently with those on the Right, it does happen with those on the Left, too.

    And with some, it would seem it will take nothing less than an act of God for them to see this.

  51. Michael says:

    Em,

    When I was growing up I had no notion of America as a “Christian” nation.
    There was always a sense that we were a superior people based on our wealth and military power.
    I was in school in the late sixties/early seventies…and we were probably the first generation raised without any real grasp of nationalism or patriotism to speak of.

  52. Michael says:

    Kevin H,

    I’ve tried to have a site where we could address these things irenically and biblically.
    On one hand, I think we’ve strayed from the teachings of Jesus, on the other I don’t want to offend decent people who see things differently.
    I hate echo chambers.
    What has been made clear to me is that discussions involving facts and history can’t happen in a time when only binary applications are allowed.
    I’m very frustrated…very sad…and not at all sure how to proceed.

  53. Jean says:

    Just to echo and maybe piggyback off what Kevin H just wrote, it is this blind spot on both the left and on the right which results in churches (and church bodies) that are segregated not only racially, but often politically and ethnically as well. It is this that I was most concerned about in my article.

    Although I think there is blindness, it also manifests itself without blindness where some people are not willing to lay aside their politics for the sake of Christian fellowship.

    It happens in liberal churches too, where, for example, Christians who don’t support same sex marriage or female ordination are treated as unloving or narrow minded or bigoted. In those churches they may say “good riddance” to the conservative member who doesn’t agree with them.

    It happens on both sides. The only way for a church to combat this, and I do think it is a problem to be continually addressed, is (1) to see ourselves as Christians first, and (2) to maintain a proper distinction between the responsibility given to the Church and the responsibility given to government. Neither should either invade the turf of the other, nor attempt to take over the other.

    A Christian is a citizen of the kingdom of God and of his or her country simultaneously. As a citizen of his or her country, he or she should vote and may work in government. A Christian must obey the laws of his or her country and sins against God when he or she breaks them, unless obeying the law would itself be a sin.

    The law of love is not a policy prescription. It is similar to the golden rule in the Sermon on the Mount. The Word of God should guide Christians in their fulfillment, but won’t produce a uniform application. Thus, if Christ has granted us freedom to apply these principles, then we in turn must grant our brothers and sisters the same freedoms.

    The church has a different vocation from the government. It is to preach the Gospel and make disciples of Jesus Christ, from all nations, races and ethnic groups, from the bad and the good, from the moral and the immoral. Everyone must come in a sinner and be converted into (and leave this earth) a saint. Both are accomplished by God through the preaching of His two words of Law and Gospel.

    In the church we don’t emphasize our rights, but we serve the weaker brother and sister. We don’t place stumbling blocks before others, we remove them. In everything we do, we boast only in the Lord Christ and His righteousness.

  54. Em says:

    Yes, Michael, i hear what you’re saying. @12:15…
    Along witb that came the self righteous and illusory – Don Quixote? – call to convert the world to representative republic governments. An unspoken sense of human superiority?
    FWIW and just a ponder, i do wonder if what is snidely called white privilege wasn’t really a God blessed time for reasons known to Him alone … 🙆…

  55. Michael says:

    Jean,

    As I read Scripture, the people of God were always intended to be a prophetic voice speaking truth to earthly government.
    I still submit that is a holy responsibility of the church…

  56. David says:

    “I’ve tried to have a site where we could address these things irenically and biblically.
    On one hand, I think we’ve strayed from the teachings of Jesus, on the other I don’t want to offend decent people who see things differently.”

    Honestly, as a conservative, I don’t get involved here much in discussions because I’ve seen such a tip to the left. From my perspective, it’s progressives are good, conservatives are evil and racist. I’ve gotten to the point here that I just scroll through the comments, sometimes chuckling at MLD and Duane/Jeans interactions, but I always know that what the end result is going to be.

    It’s sad because I’ve been reading the blog for so long.

  57. Jean says:

    “As I read Scripture, the people of God were always intended to be a prophetic voice speaking truth to earthly government.”

    Show us one, two or three examples from the NT, so we can engage the text.

  58. Kevin H says:

    Michael,

    And myself and many others greatly appreciate how you host this site in a fashion often attempting to discuss things ironically and biblically. Sometimes that goes well here, other times, not. But that doesn’t mean we should stop trying, no matter how frustrating it can get at times.

    As I have many Christian friends on Facebook, I will periodically post things that are politically related but do so in a manner to try to help Christians look at and think about the issue through a Christian lens first, and not a political one. There are some who routinely are seemingly unwilling or unable to see this and only see a political issue to argue or battle about in a binary fashion. It can get quite frustrating, but I continue to post such things with the hope that it may have a positive effect in the lives of some, even if they never comment and I am unaware of the impact.

  59. Kevin H says:

    *irenically*, not ironically. Although there often can be much irony here. 🙂

  60. Michael says:

    David,

    I don’t consider myself a progressive, nor even a person on what is now “the left”.
    Give me an example of what is concerning you so I can understand your point.

  61. Michael says:

    Kevin H,

    Sometimes I forget my own creed…”write for the lurkers”…

  62. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Why only from the NT when we have such a rich prophetic history in the OT?
    Did Jesus disapprove of John the Baptist?

  63. Michael says:

    Kevin H…by the way, I’m amazed at what you do on Facebook…

  64. David says:

    Here’s one from this thread…

    “We progressives made huge progress.
    Sooner or later, people grow tired of being told to be afraid. We reject religious systems that demand constant fear. We meet with others who dare to dream of a better world, who are altruistic without shame or manipulation, who share similar stories of rejecting ways of thinking which reinforce artificial notions of difference. We realize each of us shares our common humanity and we are enriched by “the other” once we say no to being afraid of “the other”.”

  65. Kevin H says:

    Thanks, Michael. Others find it far less than “amazing”. 🙂

  66. David says:

    The implication is conservatives don’t make progress, we’re regressive; we shame, we manipulate; we reinforce differences; we reject the ‘other’

  67. Michael says:

    David,

    I don’t get what would be offensive there.
    I don’t see those virtues named as being “progressive” but Christian.
    In light of the created hysteria over the “caravan” I appreciated the sentiment.

    In any case, you are free to speak just as G was…and to be heard the same as well.

  68. Jean says:

    OT Israel was expressly a theocratic kingdom by design. The prophets were called to speak to that kingdom. John spoke in that context.

    Here is the biblical mandate of the NT prophet:

    “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

    Jesus couldn’t have been more clear about the nature of his kingdom between advents.

  69. David says:

    Michael,

    I’m not sure it’s offensive, it just gets tiring to hear.

  70. Michael says:

    “we’re regressive; we shame, we manipulate; we reinforce differences; we reject the ‘other’”

    I think some conservatives do all of the above…and so does the hard left.

    They don’t like me any more than conservatives…because I reject the new constructs on sexuality.

    Both sides demand you sign off on their whole list…and I refuse.

  71. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I will disagree.
    The way we convict of sin and seek righteousness is by speaking forth the Word of God…we are to speak truth to power just as they did.

  72. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The course of this thread has caused me to decide to leave. Never would I have thought that the leaders of this blog would say that if we disagree with them socially or politically that we worship a different god.

    I had this conversation with Duane yesterday where he said that the mere presence of Christians at a Trump rally was enough for him to divide fellowship and later in the conversation holding up the possibility of not communing the Trump supporter.

    Today at 8:57 Michael said similar, even suggesting that he would spit in the face of this different god – Heck, I would never say I would spit in the face of the false gods of the Jews or Muslims – but just the same, this god of the dissenting view is deemed false.

    It’s been fun -see ya!

  73. Jean says:

    We will disagree.

    A Christian pastor, in that vocation, has only the duties given him by Christ and the apostles.

    His qualifications are those set forth in the NT, and specifically do not include government policy, because he’s a shepherd not a governor.

    Going your track will alienate many people who need the gospel, but see the role of government differently.

    You will likely produce an echo chamber of hypocrites, who think they are the only pious Christians.

    I don’t want to offend. But you are taking the mainline protestant track, which God hasn’t blessed.

  74. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I don’t consider the issue I’ve put forth social or political.
    I consider it biblical.
    If I were to come out in support of homosexual marriage or abortion, you would say that your God doesn’t endorse such and that you worship a different God than I do if I think He supports both.
    You would not commune me.

    I say the same about a god who would send people to their deaths rather than grant asylum.

    Where am I wrong?

  75. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I like what N.T. Wright says on this…

    “Jesus explains (18:36) that his kingdom is not the sort that grows in this world. His kingdom is certainly for this world, but it isn’t from it. It comes from somewhere else—in other words, from above, from heaven, from God. It is God’s gift to his world, but, as John already pointed out in the prologue, the world isn’t ready for this gift. The key is this: if Jesus’s kingdom were the regular sort, the kind that grows all too easily in the present world—the sort of kingdom, in fact, that James and John had wanted!—then Jesus’s followers would be taking up arms:

    “If my kingdom were from this world, my supporters would have fought to stop me being handed over to the Judaeans. So then, my kingdom is not the sort of that comes from here.” (18:36)

    The difference between the kingdoms is striking. Caesar’s kingdom (and all other kingdoms that originate in this world) make their way by fighting. But Jesus’s kingdom—God’s kingdom enacted through Jesus—makes its way with quite a different weapon, one that Pilate refuses to acknowledge: telling the truth:

    “So! said Pilate, “You are a king, are you?” “You’re the one who’s calling me a king,” replied Jesus. “I was born for this; I’ve come into the world for this: to give evidence about the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” “Truth!” said Pilate. “What’s that?” (18:37-38).

    The point about truth, and about Jesus and his followers bearing witness to it, is that truth is what happens when humans use words to reflect God’s wise ordering of the world and so shine light into its dark corners, bringing judgment and mercy where it is badly needed. Empires can’t cope with this. They make their own “truth,” creating “facts on the ground” in the depressingly normal way of violence and injustice “

  76. Michael says:

    I’ll be out for a while…catch up later.

  77. Duane Arnold says:

    MLD

    “and later in the conversation holding up the possibility of not communing the Trump supporter.”
    Just to be clear, that was your implication not mine…

  78. Jean says:

    Since you have no word from God about how the US federal government should enforce law and order and protect its citizens and steward its resources and deal with would be immigrants, how can you hold your desires in these matters to be more godly than the views of those Christians with whom you disagree?

  79. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – my only comment and the I am gone. If we had a difference that required us to not commune you it is for 2 reasons – 1) you are not Lutheran and 2) you do not agree with us as to what we are doing and why we do it. Never would we say we are divided because you worship a different or a false god – and that is what is being promoted here.

    It would be hypocrisy on my part to pretend that is not the case.

  80. Duane Arnold says:

    Back in the day, I regularly taught a class in my church on “How To Do Evangelism”. The first part of the lesson was about using words. If I am witnessing to someone out of a different culture it is important to determine what words signify. If I say to someone out of the bush that “I believe in God” and they reply, “I also believe in God”, I might think that I’m making progress. The only problem is that my definition of God is the Holy Trinity revealed in Scripture and their definition of God is the “Great Warthog”….

    We are in a similar situation these days. Please show me the shared definition of “evangelical”… or the shared definition of “faith”… or the shared (theological not political) definition of “justice”… or the shared definition of “mercy”. We have lost the common language of our faith, as the words are understood differently. Merely because someone says (or simply because I say) that “I am an evangelical Christian”, what exactly does that mean? Am I Jim Wallis or am I Franklin Graham? What sort of God do I worship? Do I follow a Jesus who who calls me to spit on the media… or be racist in my views… or be anti-Semetic? If so, that is not the Jesus I see revealed in Scripture. We may agree to hold our own views. We may work together in our workplace. But, at least for me, there is also a fundamental gulf between us. Merely because we use some of the same religious language, does not mean we have the same faith.

  81. Michael says:

    Jean,
    I don’t believe that God changed His mind about the sojourner and the alien between testaments , nor do I believe He changed His mind about how to regard the poor and oppressed.

  82. Jean says:

    Michael,

    God wrote the civil laws for OT Israel. I need to break it to you. That kingdom is over. Today temporal kingdoms and there laws are written by men.

    Where does Jesus or Peter or Paul preach social justice to temporal authority?

    Even though I can find NT texts which command the love of enemy, that is for the Christian, not the governor. But even if I agreed with you that America should be merciful to the poor, that does not advance us to common policy prescriptions, unless you want to prophesy without a word from God.

  83. bob1 says:

    Somebody’s gonna take their ball and go home?

    I’ll believe it when I see it. ):

  84. ( |o )====::: says:

    Michael,
    We progressives have no fence at any table. We build longer tables by sharing.
    We bid all to join us to celebrate our commonwealth.
    It is the fearful and greedy who doubt God’s bounty through Jesus, our Lord.
    They are afraid of equal rights, afraid of welcoming new and different faces and races, beliefs, cultures and genders.

    Equal rights for others does not mean less rights for me.
    It’s not pie.

  85. ( |o )====::: says:

    “Where does Jesus… preach social justice to temporal authority?”

    Jesus spoke and practiced authority to the masses, and bid all who heard Him to follow His lead. The loaves & fishes miracle was more about loosing greedy hearts who were holding onto their provisions, who were unwilling to share until Jesus showed them how to feed others.

    Jesus’ teaching, preaching and example were to all who were on scene and in His influence.

    The Roman soldier knew Jesus had authority, and Jesus was stunned at his response to “speak but the word”.

    4Gospels full of examples. Start there, stay there, you’ll be busy for a lifetime and a partner in His present Kingdom!

  86. JoelG says:

    I hope MLD changes his mind when things cool down. He would be missed.

  87. Jean says:

    “4Gospels full of examples. Start there, stay there, you’ll be busy for a lifetime and a partner in His present Kingdom!”

    LOL

  88. Jean says:

    Joel,

    Please tell that old rock badger for me that I do not accept his resignation from the blog. My Meathead needs Archie to complete me. 🙂

  89. JoelG says:

    lol Jean 🙂

    Peace to all from out here on the fringes..

  90. ( |o )====::: says:

    Hey David,
    You took issue to what I posted, quoting, “The implication is conservatives don’t make progress, we’re regressive; we shame, we manipulate; we reinforce differences; we reject the ‘other’”

    Here’s the thing, I bid anyone who wishes to be known as “a conservative” to simply show us all some actual altruism, demonstrate it and I assure you I will believe that person. We show it by who one supports, how one speaks, whom one helps, to whom one grants asylum.

    Show us by NOT being afraid.

    Faith without works ain’t gonna be registering on anyone’s 5 senses.
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  91. JoelG says:

    G man,

    If I may chime in one more time from the peanut gallery…

    My dad is a conservative Trump-voter Evangelical. He cares for my mom (losing her memory) and my brother (bi-polar) 24/7. He’s been involved in community outreach through his Nazarene church for years. He’s given me more help and Christ-centered advice than anyone . He has a huge heart… and watches Fox News. I don’t judge his faith by his political leanings anymore. I see what he does.

    Back to the peanut gallery…

  92. Michael says:

    ““And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day.Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.

    He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear.He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen.Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.”
    (Deuteronomy 10:12–22 ESV)

    I could publish a small book of similar verses.
    While this passage was indeed directed to Israel, what it says about the heart, character, and nature of God supersedes covenants.
    I have not suggested governmental policy here…that would require many voices sharing their concerns.
    What I am speaking to is that Gods people should have Gods heart…and concerning these issues, it’s not hard to find.

  93. Michael says:

    JoelG,

    God bless your dad…I have an inkling of how hard that road is…

  94. Dan from Georgia says:

    That’s awesome JoelG!

  95. Jean says:

    “What I am speaking to is that Gods people should have Gods heart…and concerning these issues, it’s not hard to find.”

    You have God’s heart, in the God-Man, revealed in the NT. There he reveals God’s heart for all mankind. There he lays out what his church is and does. There he reveals the vocation of pastor. Read his pastoral letters. There is enough there for the faithful pastor

    There are other callings in life. They are similarly holy when held by Christians. If you feel called to be a missionary or social worker or whatever, I would support your endeavor. But pastor is a local calling. A local forgiveness agent.

  96. Jim says:

    Thanks (?) Michael.

  97. Anne says:

    I’ve cared for relatives with dementia and a variety of other diseases unto death as their primary caregiver. As a believer, a doubter, and an apostate.
    The struggles and joys were equally bittersweet.

    If we love and care for our family, big whoop. As Jesus said even the heathen do so. It is how we love the stranger, the leper, the “others”, not of our tribe where the rubber meets the road.
    I took the political compass survey and fall farther left than Ghandi. Try to hate the evil folks do w/o hating them. Hate racism w/o hating racists, rape and not rapists, etc is a tall order. Picturing everyone as kindergarteners helps a bit. Fail daily. Notice it. Try again.

  98. Jerod says:

    Never has the irony been so palpable.

    You are one in Christ?

    The one with or without the spittle dripping from his beard?

    I’ll go with the spat upon one. Seems fitting…

  99. Jim says:

    Michael,

    My question was about your choice to divide yourself from other Christians, not about what we can debate.

    “Michael said, “I have to divide from those who ignore Christ’s commands to care for the least of these..”

    What does this mean? Caring in word and deed, with our own time and money, or demanding that the govt do so?”

    You got the chance to dump on me a little bit, which apparently made you and your amen corner feel better.

    Everyone here who is to the right of JFK knows that you are a progressive (this is not an insult) with a seething hatred of the right.

    It’s been sad to watch, my friend.

    Please take a breath and don’t respond, because no one believes your protestations, unless, of course, it will make you feel better to dump on someone.

    “You are one in Christ” is ironic indeed.

  100. Michael says:

    Jim,

    I do not have a seething hatred of anyone, let alone the right.
    I was not dumping on you…I was simply stating that your political views are completely different from the mainstream parties as you are a consistent libertarian.
    Now, I will admit that it seems i am in a small minority myself…I try to inform what I think politically by what I see biblically, especially when it comes to the worth and dignity of human beings.
    I frankly am not competent to speak to economics or foreign policy.
    I guess I’m the first progressive who opposes abortion on demand and same sex marriage…but mercy for refugees (which I understood as a libertarian principle) qualifies me.
    It was not my intent here to dump on anyone…and if anyone feels as if I did so you have my sincere apology.
    What should be crystal clear by now is that we all claim Christ…while imputing attributes to Him that are diametrically opposed to each other.
    I see that as a huge problem apologetically and ecumenically…a massive problem that further divides whatever constitutes the Body and leaves us at odds with each other when we leave the confines of our particular sects.
    There is no doubt that this thread is a huge turning point in the life of this blog…and I have a lot to pray through and about in the coming days.

  101. Michael says:

    One more thing…addressing the elephant in the room.
    It grieves me (literally) to have someone leave here, especially someone who’s been here as long as MLD.
    It grieves me when people like David are upset.
    It rattles me hard when Jim feels rebuked and the need to rebuke me…we’ve been down some long roads together.
    I take this stuff hard and it drives me to God to hear Him on these matters.
    That’s where I’ll be for a while..

  102. Jean says:

    Michael,

    “What should be crystal clear by now is that we all claim Christ…while imputing attributes to Him that are diametrically opposed to each other.”

    This is a key observation. This is the big problem in contemporary American Christianity. This is a matter for reflection by us all.

    Once someone imputes attributes to Christ, there can be little debate or tolerance of opposing views. Therefore, we had better be certain that we are imputing correctly, or we shouldn’t do it.

    This is why Christians should not attribute attributes to Christ which do not have his Word, or which move beyond his Word.

  103. Em says:

    Is it attributing attributes to Christ or interpreting those attributes according to our personal preferences?
    Love, truth, righteousness, justice – His absolute holiness – i think, perhaps, if we were taught in a way that reminded us of His omnipotent majesty constantly, grace and the beginning of wisdom, fear of presuming on a Holy God would make all of us – redeemed sinners – a bit more tolerant of each other
    Dunno, tho, do i? 😇

  104. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I’ve been mulling this over for quite some time.
    We all claim to know Jesus, but when we speak of Him through our cultural and social filters He is unrecognizable to others who claim to know the same Jesus.
    We do not agree on how to interpret the Word, so the Word is run through the same filters, with the same result.
    To be blunt, to speak of “Christianity” as some monolithic faith is a very bad joke.

  105. Michael says:

    Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon.
    One of the foremost Reformed scholars during the Civil War years was R.L. Dabney.
    His works are still cited today.
    Some of his works.
    His works defending slavery and the Confederacy from a “biblical”perspective aren’t looked at much…
    Meanwhile in the North other scholars were citing the same book for abolition.
    Jesus rarely makes it through our filters unscathed…

  106. bob1 says:

    Yeah, if you want to read something depressing about the Civil War, I recommend
    Mark Noll’s “The Civil War as a Theological Crisis” Very earnest believers were on
    both sides of the slavery fence. Unity of the Bible? Baloney!

    I think part of what the book shows is that religion in the history of our country
    is quite convoluted and complex.

  107. Michael says:

    bob1,

    That’s a very good book…

  108. Xenia says:

    I think the most important thing said in this thread is what Michael wrote near the beginning. When you hear about a group of people that are suffering and your first thought is how to demonize and dehumanize them, these are not Christian thoughts. You might be a Christian but you do not have the mind of Christ. If you hear about kids being separated from their parents, people dying from Ebola, and all the other horrors of the world and your first thought is “Get these them far from me,” I am telling you that you need to do some soul searching.

    If instead wonder how you could help them, you are thinking with the mind of Christ. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the means to help them: your attitude reflects your heart. As Michael said, trying to figure out what to do and who to work with comes next.

  109. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    Thank you…well said.

  110. Jean says:

    Well said, Xenia.

    I don’t have data, but I understand that the US is the most generous country in the world by a long shot.

  111. Xenia says:

    Also, if you look to certain right wing blogs/ news channels/ radio personalities for information about struggling/suffering/ oppresses/ marginalized people in order to make yourself feel good about dehumanizing/ demonizing people, you are being lied to by the devil himself.

    Test yourself: You learn on the news that something bad is happening to a certain group of people. Being a Christian, you might feel anxious. You don’t like feeling anxious so you search the ether to find a celebrity who will tell you that these are unworthy people and you don’t need to feel anxious about them anymore. Problem solved. To keep feeling good about yourself you need daily doses of demonizing news.

    And THAT is how these news outlets/ commentators stay in business.

  112. Michael says:

    “You might be a Christian but you do not have the mind of Christ.”

    I think those words would have worked better than the ones I used…

  113. Em says:

    When one’s thought is to dehumanize or demonize anyone, they are not thinking acceptable to God… amen to that

    that said, i have seen some demon influenced people… or was it just their old sin nature on display? 😐
    My question on open blog was, does God judge individual nations today after the manner of Sodom or is He waiting until grace has run its course – the end of time?
    The tangential question regarding individuals is pretty clear: a Christian cannot judge a fellow Christian with regard to His standing with God and, yet, there are standards that a Christian is expected to meet. Are they basic or do we say, “brother, you are not meeting my understanding of Christian doctrine and, thus, we have no fellowship?
    Perhaps it falls into the category of causing a brother to stumble? Eating the meat offered to idols? Just pondering as there has ben a lot to think on as this surprising thread developed… IMNSHO, of course

  114. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I wholeheartedly agree…but I see the same on a less publicized scale from the far left who demonize us for holding to traditional Christian morality…

  115. Michael says:

    “Are they basic or do we say, “brother, you are not meeting my understanding of Christian doctrine and, thus, we have no fellowship?”

    We don’t agree on basics so we are left with the latter…

  116. Em says:

    If i understand Michael, you are saying that we don’t agree on what is basic? ….. Or are you saying, if we don’t agree on what is basic?

  117. Xenia says:

    Michael, ditto for the far left. I am more bothered by the right-wingers because these are people I expect more from. I am not bothered when Marxists are Marxists. They were never of my camp to begin with. I don’t expect unbelievers to have the mind of Christ.

  118. Duane Arnold says:

    “Christians’ self-identity as “resident aliens” (paroikoi) was unique in the unsettled world of late antiquity. This was a familiar legal term, which many Christians from the First Epistle of Peter to the early centuries used to express their sense of identification with cultures in which they embodied new approaches and insights.”

    This is an article that is worth 15 minutes of your time…
    https://place.asburyseminary.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1074&context=firstfruitspapers

  119. Michael says:

    Em,

    I think it’s pretty obvious that in a world with 20,000 + denominations and a bitterly divided country that we don’t agree on the basics.
    One of the churches specialties is supposed to be reconciling people with God and each other…instead we are the first to divide.

  120. Michael says:

    I’m going to upload that paper here as soon as the backend of the blog works again.
    Thanks, Duane…

  121. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    It is a very sound bit of research and writing…

  122. Jean says:

    Okay, I read the article Duane posted and am familiar with Rodney Stark’s work, who is mentioned in the article.

    It sounds both reasonable, biblical and historical.

    What did I not read? Nothing about “speaking truth to power.” I read nothing about pastors telling temporal government what to do.

    I read about pastors or Bishops writing or preaching to those under their care about the virtues of mercy and love of neighbor.

    To my knowledge, where doctrinal heresy was an issue, that did cross over to other jurisdictions (in terms of the churches), but these tended to my knowledge to be on issues of Christology or the Trinity. I am not aware of any heresies or excommunications based on one’s view of the church’s obligation to care for pagans.

  123. Linnea says:

    Haven’t read the whole thread, but have to ask…where did Jesus draw the lines? Where does the historical Christian church draw the lines? I would rather find our affinities than divide along lines not defined by the historical Christian faith. If that’s not the assumption here, I’m out.

  124. Michael says:

    Linnea,

    I don’t think anyone here is drawing hard lines.
    What can’t be ignored is that cultural and social considerations have caused many to allow lines to be drawn for the church…lines that are so hard that it makes fellowship impossible.

    That doesn’t speak to the eternal destiny of anyone…it does reflect the reality of where we’re at as a culture.

    This place survived while being ecumenical…it might not survive our political climate.

  125. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I can’t separate the witness of all the OT scriptures or the fact that Jesus declaration of His kingship was a political statement that got Him crucified.

    I believe that we are to bear prophetic witness to the whole culture and that includes the government.

  126. Jim says:

    You’re correct Jean. This thread has been rife with division over politics (I understand the politics involve the treatment of people made in the image of God), and the appropriate repentance will never come.

  127. Michael says:

    Jim,

    What do you think is the appropriate repentance?

  128. Michael says:

    I’m not asking that as a rhetorical question…if I have sinned against anyone in this discussion I want to know.

  129. Jean says:

    I don’t know about anyone here, but the opportunity for repentance may be in relation to the first and second commandments. I am not going to be a burr in your saddle. You are heck bend on finding a divine mandate as a pastor to be a prophet to “the whole culture and that includes the government.” You conflate OT theocratic Israel with the nations. I am looking for the epistles to Caesar and I can’t find them. What I do find is a pastor’s commission to go and make disciples.

    What is Scripture for? “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

    How is Scripture used: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling [KJV: dividing]the word of truth.” How does one preach the law and gospel to the government? Paul was invited to preach, even before the Greeks in Athens.

    Christ is not the new, bigger and better Moses. Your “speak truth to power” is not even a paradigm of the New Covenant. A pastor is to preach Christ and him crucified…unto faith and redemption.

    If you can’t get this through the stronghold of your personal convictions, then yes this is a matter of repentance. I say that in brotherly love and would ask my friends in return to admonish me similarly with God’s Word, when I fall into a ditch.

  130. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I don’t think I need to repent for theological differences.
    I can line up NT and OT scholars for a long way who teach exactly what I’m saying about the prophetic witness of the church.
    I won’t repent of not being a Lutheran, but I will quickly repent if I’ve caused personal offense in how I’ve spoken.

  131. Jean says:

    The entire concept of OT Israel was that they were the chosen people; they were in the covenant; they had circumcision and God’s promises. The prophets rebuked sin and backsliding, idolatry and unbelief…to the OT church.

    The US government or the State of Oregon is not a chosen people, a holy nation; they are not in a covenant relationship with God; they have no promises from God.

    They have servants appointed by God. They answer to the electorate, not to a prophet. You can throw moralism at the government all day long, and you will be doing the same exact thing as the evangelicals and the mainline liberals.

    The Gospel always looks weak and Christ’s church always looks week, but the church continues and the Word of the Lord remains forever. This is where faith comes in. It takes faith to suffer as a theologian of the cross. Few will, which is why you can line up scholars who teach glory rather than the cross, power rather than suffering, the judgment rather than grace. Thus Pilate’s question: What is truth?

  132. Michael says:

    Jean,
    With all due respect , you obviously haven’t studied these theologians.
    None of them that I have read teach a theology of glory and suffering is a big piece of the theological construct.
    I will say again that if I’ve offended anyone with my words and need to repent I am more than open to doing so.

  133. Em says:

    Michael, your words create dialogs and stimulate thought and, boy, does the Church need to think… offense comes from within folks, if it comes here. You are not creating offense.

    If we are willing to submit in spirit to God the Holy Spirit and not to our own constructs, we might even reach a God pleasing consensus – could happen 🙂

  134. Jerod says:

    “[Satan] knows the truth already, and is busy concealing it”.
    to paraphrase Chomsky

  135. Jerod says:

    Linnea
    Some professors profess to draw hard lines over Trump and his policies.
    I can understand the need to avoid what may look like a Civil Religion. But Civil Religion can be neo-con or progressive. As long as your Jesus can be used to make your political agenda look Christian…

    Some spit in the face of a Jesus others would profess yet whom they themselves perceive to be a lie. At least one blogger has skedaddled over having his Lord spat upon (so… there’s at least one whose been offended), though I don’t know why he’s so shocked. Jesus isn’t shocked.

    It’s telling that:
    – On a blog about unity this is the result of a conversation clouded by political zealots whose opinions are given too much weight – a mirror reflection of the world – and that weight is tearing at the fabric of love and unity from both ends.

    – On a blog about being one in Christ nobody sees, or at least mentions, the parallels between the apostles and the present church – such a motley crew, and yet the perfect patchwork quilt whom God used to magnificent effect.

    I agree with Michael that there is a remnant. However, in the end I don’t think it will be very ecumenical. This might be part of the process by which it is separated. Remnants of that fabric Jesus sews together.

    Someone said Jesus’s kingship was a political statement.
    It was farther reaching than that – it was a theological statement.

  136. Jean says:

    If the readership (myself included) could disentangle their flawed human perception of Jesus from the revealed and risen Lord, we could make progress here and in the world.

    American protestant Christianity is plagued by a theology which sees Jesus **primarily** as an example – a moral exemplar. From here, you get WWJD (What would Jesus do?). Of course, how, you fill in the blank with whatever it is you want someone else to do. You actually create an idol of yourself.

    An example is the very least part of what Jesus came to do. The greater part is that he came to be a Sacrament, that is, he came as God’s means of grace to mankind, he came to be a gift. He is a gift to sinners, not saints; to the humble, not the proud, to the hungry, and not the satisfied.

    If we were brought up on the primary vocation of Jesus, we would not presume to tell other people, much less pagans, what we would like them to believe and do, but about the Christ who died for my sins and was raised for my justification. The Messiah that lifted the heavy burden of my sin and brokenness and gave me his light yoke and righteousness.

    Then our witness would be not “do this,” but “believe this.” The mind we have in Christ, the light that we are not to hide under a bushel, is the gift we received, that we are now invited to give to others who similarly live under a heavy burden.

    The kingdom grows at the pleasure of Christ, by adding disciples, not by reforming society. The leaven grows secretly. The wheat and weeds grow up together. The bad and the good are invited to the Sacrament. Pastors provide the wedding robe, so that the people eat and drink to their benefit. Pastors provide oil for our lamps, so that when the Bridegroom returns, we can enter and be known.

  137. Jean says:

    Society goes in the direction of the electorate. If our churches are making disciples, then those disciples will influence society as voters and honest workers and generous neighbors.

    Do our churches and pastors trust the holy Spirit to sanctify His people to live faithfully in the world? If the answer is yes, then His people will serve society as voters.

    Why would pastors want to bypass their vocation of equipping the saints for their work in the world and go straight to the world and tell the world what to do? That doesn’t make any sense and is not what we find Paul and Peter doing as they served the Lord in a hostile 1st century.

  138. Michael says:

    Jean,

    You might want to read Peter again…

  139. Jean says:

    I’m always in need of re-reading Peter and all the other writers of Scripture. Thank you for the reminder.

  140. Michael says:

    “Why would pastors want to bypass their vocation of equipping the saints for their work in the world and go straight to the world and tell the world what to do?”

    I haven’t seen anybody state that… I surely haven’t.

    The numbers tell us that an overwhelming number of white evangelicals voted for Trump.
    They voted as a recognizable block of the electorate believing that their decision was informed primarily by their faith, and time prevents me from citing all the places where their leadership has put the anointing of God on the President.

    One of the primary positions they support is radical closure of the country to migrants and refugees…to the point of demonizing those seeking shelter here.

    What I’m saying is that demonization is not compatible with the Biblical witness.

    The default position of the Christian is compassion and love of neighbor.

    We can disagree about policy…but we cannot disagree with the biblical witness.

    To stand against that demonization and proclaim the truth of Scripture is a prophetic function of the church, to the church and to the world.

    It has to be spoken…even if the church and the world decides to crush the speaker.

    As someone else once said…”here I stand, I can do no other”…

  141. Duane Arnold says:

    My “wheelhouse” is the Early Church. When I posted the article above concerning how the Church conducted itself in regard to the poor, the abandoned and disadvantaged in the first four centuries, I thought something would be clear – their actions were very distinct and very different from society at large. Were those actions political? Well, several emperors seemed to believe that they were. If a government or society, such as National Socialist German, adopts a policy that is anti-Semitic, the response of Christians whether endorsing the policy or opposing the policy will be seen, at least by the government, as being political. Please note, however, the Christians in opposition were merely following the injunctions of Christ. If a government pursues an anti-immigrant campaign, while Christians on the basis of Scripture seek to care for the immigrants, their action may be seen as political, even though they are simply trying to live out their faith.

    These are not easy matters. Bonhoeffer spent years struggling with what was political and what was merely obedience to the commands of Christ. (By the way, his actions are still debated today.)

    All this being said, rather than attempt to “proof text” our positions, we might do better to look at the whole sweep of Scripture that tells us to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. It seems today that this has become a remnant theology…

  142. Michael says:

    Well said, Duane.
    “And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.””
    (Luke 10:27–28 ESV)

    Nicholas Wolterstorff notes that Jesus is actually quoting Lev 19…which is a long set of rules that informed the people what loving your neighbor looked like…

  143. Jean says:

    So, your beef is with other Christians who don’t believe like you? That’s what you get in what Babylon Dread has called the free market of American Christianity. That is no surprise to anyone. MLD, Xenia and I, who are members of relatively small fellowships in America deal with Christians every day who don’t believe like us.

    To protect the faith and doctrines we have, and also to protect our Christian brothers and sisters who do not believe like us, we in confessional Lutheranism practice open Baptism and closed Communion (which, by the way, is pretty much the opposite of a lot of other protestant churches).

    We lament all the time that there is so much false teaching in the American church. We spend a lot of time as a church on teaching and practicing orthodox Christianity from the Scriptures. We pray for the heterodox, as well as the lost. We pray against Satan and his evil works.

    It’s too bad that the church is fractured, but it’s not ours but Christ’s Church. If you are a pastor, professor, missionary or other church worker, then preach, teach and live by the Word of God. Warn your parishioners to stay away from false teaching. But get over the fact that there is false teaching. It’s prophesied in the NT.

    To loads of American Christians Lutherans are guilty of false teaching. Fancy that! I’m over it. I sleep well at night. So can you.

  144. Michael says:

    “So, your beef is with other Christians who don’t believe like you?”

    Really?

    How many different expressions of the faith have co-existed here for years?

  145. Jean says:

    Exactly, “really.”

    I’m not going to scan the entire thread for every statement, but here’s one from you just this morning:

    “The numbers tell us that an overwhelming number of white evangelicals voted for Trump.
    They voted as a recognizable block of the electorate believing that their decision was informed primarily by their faith, and time prevents me from citing all the places where their leadership has put the anointing of God on the President.

    One of the primary positions they support is radical closure of the country to migrants and refugees…to the point of demonizing those seeking shelter here.

    What I’m saying is that demonization is not compatible with the Biblical witness.”

    That’s a beef. You believe those particular white evangelicals hold beliefs that are not compatible with Biblical witness. Thus, you believe they are victims or perpetrators of false teaching.

    Let’s be honest about how you feel. It’s one thing to claim a “generous orthodoxy”, but quite another to hold to it. That’s not my bag, but I understand it is yours. You have said you’re ecumenical. Well that means you are going to cut people who don’t believe like you some slack. How much slack? That’s not my bag either. But, please don’t be surprised when people are offended or saddened when an ecumenical, generous orthodox guy says they’re not practicing biblical Christianity.

  146. Jim says:

    Duane,

    You are obviously correct, which is why I asked, “What does this mean? Caring in word and deed, with our own time and money, or demanding that the govt do so?” It was an honest question, but apparently not received as such.

    This thread has not been about word and deed, but about politics. Christians dividing over what they think politicians should do.

  147. Duane Arnold says:

    A “generous orthodoxy” is inclusive… it is also exclusive. “Right praise” or “right belief” is inclusive of a high view of scripture, adherence to the doctrinal formulations in the creeds and, at least to some extent, “orthopraxy” which is to say “how do you put into practice what you believe”. In the 1930s would we have placed the German Church and the Reich bishops within the realm of “generous orthodoxy”? I think not. Why? While holding to a high view of scripture and affirming the creeds, their practice (in ethics and actions) actually ran counter to the faith they professed to believe. We are in danger, in my opinion, of a similar situation today…

  148. Duane Arnold says:

    Jim

    My concern is primarily with the Church. In my life as a citizen, I may protest the actions of my government, but my protest must stay within the realm of Christian practice and ethics. How far that goes is what we might call the “Bonhoeffer dilemma”…

  149. Michael says:

    A generous orthodoxy doesn’t mean agreement on every point of doctrine or real disagreements on some.

    It means you do not exclude people from the canopy of orthodoxy because of those differences.

  150. Michael says:

    Jim,

    For the church to do what some of us believe is right in word and deed, the government has to cooperate.
    We can’t serve them if they can’t get here.

    What I have said repeatedly is that the issue I’m addressing isn’t policy, but heart.
    Whatever policies we formulate should come from compassion.

  151. Em says:

    Jesus loved the 12. All raised in Judaism, were they not? And all very different men – definitely not Christians … yet. One never would get there.
    Somehow i don’t believe that when these men took the Gospel to their world that their concern was whether or not these people did church correctly. Repent, be baptised and build your church community along these guidelines… more than likely heavily influenced by their Jewish heritage.
    Then God knocked Saul off his deluded mission and converting him and sending him to the gentiles. Who needed a little more civilizing spiritually (i feel sorry for those who miss the rich beauty of his epistles, thinking them to teach performance based legalism).
    All that to say that i haven’t found how we do church to be the focus of the New Testament… How we live our lives in Christ, our focus – the mind of Christ – is the goal. We can’t be Ambassadors for different kingdoms, even if we are different people with different church traditions. 💒

  152. Jim says:

    Plenty here to serve already Michael, although there’s room in my heart and hands for more.

  153. Jerod says:

    Duane

    You said “In the 1930s would we have placed the German Church and the Reich bishops within the realm of “generous orthodoxy”? I think not. Why? While holding to a high view of scripture and affirming the creeds, their practice (in ethics and actions) actually ran counter to the faith they professed to believe. We are in danger, in my opinion, of a similar situation today…”

    Once again, if Trump’s policy lines up with someone else’s beliefs at any point, especially regarding the border (not mine), in your applicaton of “generous orthodoxy” you become the first to throw the 3rd Reich at conservatives.

    Michael, you seem to let it slide as part of the conversation rather than what it is – an attempt at shutting down convo or redirecting it into a defense of conservative motive.

    What gives?

    Too much weight, to little rebuttal given to the well versed in progressive thought for any real unifying chat. In order for a remnant to hold any unity the progressives here have to give conservatives the benefit of the doubt. Operate as if conservative opinion has face validity. From what I’ve read here that’s what you’ve been given – a fair shake.

  154. Em says:

    Jerod, trust Michael. What he has constructed here is being used of God to sort and solidify grounded thinking among the churches… Or so it seems to me…

  155. Jim says:

    Jerod,

    Some animals are more equal than others.

  156. Michael says:

    “Michael, you seem to let it slide as part of the conversation rather than what it is – an attempt at shutting down convo or redirecting it into a defense of conservative motive.”

    Jerod, I don’t fully identify with either side of the binary divide.
    I am well versed enough in history that when I see a rise in authoritarianism, anti-Semitism, and the use of propaganda like we saw in the “caravan” that it brings to mind how that played out in recent history.
    That doesn’t mean we draw exact comparisons between Hitler and Trump, but it does suggest that we be cautious of what we say and think in light of the lessons of history.

    I don’t believe that either Duane or myself are trying to shut down conversation…we’re simply sharing from our perspective.
    I do not censor conservative perspectives…never have, never will.
    I agree with some of them.
    So far people who consider themselves as such have usually offered their offense to what I write,but not their own perspectives.
    I would offer someone like Jim the opportunity to write full articles in rebuttal if they chose to do so at any time he chose to do so.

    I will quibble with the notion of giving me a fair shake.
    I own the blog and could spend my time being fractious or defending the theory of the flat earth if I choose to.

    What I choose to do instead is write what I think and allow others to engage with that if they choose.

    Just like you’re doing…

  157. Michael says:

    Jim,

    This is an open invitation to write and even write regularly if you so choose.
    You did this kind of writing for a long time and know how it works as well as anyone…you’re welcome to do so here.

  158. bob1 says:

    I think it’s pretty commonly accepted that Trump at the least has fascistic tendencies (fascist-ish), unlike any other president in recent memory except Nixon.

    Fortunately, we have a number of structural props in our society so hopefully it won’t devolve much more.

  159. Duane Arnold says:

    Jerod,

    I used the example of the German Church to point out the divide between “orthodoxy” and “ortho-praxy”. It is simply to say conduct needs to reflect belief. It is simply not enough to say “I am correct in my beliefs” and then to deny those beliefs in our actions. To take it out of the realm of National Socialist Germany, I could say much the same about the very orthodox Roman Catholics who follow Marie Le Pen in France. Or, equally, we could look to the religious groups backing the current government of Hungary and the government of Italy at present.

    That being said, there are lessons to be learned from Germany in the 1930s – and the lessons are not about Hitler as much as they are about the Church. I used Gerhard Kittel all through my theological education. I cannot fathom how he placed a resurgent Germany above his faith… but he did. I used papers and volumes from the Prussian Academy for years without realizing that in the 1930s they by and large supported fascism. These were people of faith and extraordinary intellectual ability, but their sense of nationalism led them to deny their faith in practice and to stand on the sidelines (or actively support) the persecution of minorities.

    For myself, I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, nor do I wish to compromise the essence of the Gospel – to love God and to love my neighbor as myself.

  160. Em says:

    From this end of a soon to end lifespan i see the result of what the education system in the last third of the 20th century has produced… I am not sure that the resulting values and the perspectives are what can sustain a Democratic Republic… God deliver us from buzz word thinking… All of us

  161. Jerod says:

    Duane

    Thanks for that.

    Maybe you were simply the probabilistic victim of Godwin’s law.

    On the other hand I see a growing reactionary divide in large part due to such fascistic parallels being cartoonishly superimposed on conservatives.

    Roman catholics in France siding with Marine La Pen is a result of bring labeled xenophobic, sexist, etc. ad nauseum by the extreme of the left. Same in Hungary.
    Same in the US. Many rational conservatives will jump on the Trump bandwagon and excuse “horse face” and “invasion” because if you push them into a corner with Alinsky tactics then they’ll excuse others who defend them even when those others have questionable motives and questionable tweets, fur example. When you keep hitting rational conservatives with false labels and you shouldn’t be surprised when rational conservatives I want someone who hits back as hard or harder. Doesn’t make it right it just makes it Human Nature … to which both sides seem to want to appeal to the worst of. Which speaks to the point of both extremes, which comprise very little American rationale and thought on current issues, being given too much weight in any conversation simply due to the fact that people get their hackles up when their feelings get hurt.

    There is no productive conversation if people take their ball and go home or if our speech is not salted.

  162. Jerod says:

    Michael,
    and I thank you for that 🙂

  163. Jerod says:

    Em
    My wife and I were discussing how the American education system has really taught our society’s children the inability to see the seitz im leiben or the zeitgeist of the past. Even worse, it has taught them a.
    There is no real intrinsic reward for any hard work
    B. No real consequences of their foolish actions – they can simply wait them out, negotiate, or ignore authority altogether.

    Now check a child who grows into an adult without the ability to comprehend the perceptions of others now or in the past, who sees no reward in hard work or any consequence of their actions – what will the national “conversation” look like in ten years? Kinda scary.

  164. Jerod says:

    “Now take a child…”

  165. Michael says:

    I’m doing T’s home schooling with him…it’s online, standard Oregon curriculum and textbooks.
    I’ve been impressed…especially with the history and social studies classes.
    I’ve actually learned stuff I didn’t know and haven’t noticed any bias at all.
    The “health” classes are less valuable, but not as weird as I feared they might be.

    T is 16 and just received a two dollar an hour raise from his grateful employers…he works 30 hours a week in addition to school.

    Kids give me hope…

  166. Duane Arnold says:

    Jerod

    Just to say, having lived in both France and the UK, anti-semitism, racial division and stereotyping is alive and well… I’ve seen it and heard it in surprising places…

  167. Em says:

    Michael, when my daughter was in high school several of them circulated a petition to get history back in the curriculum… perhaps what is happening now in Oregon is a sign of a turn around? hope so…
    my children, now all over 50, say that they were indoctrinated with entitlement with no understanding of the facts of life, i.e., prepare for a job and earn your living honestly. They, rather, were preached to fulfill themselves and live life looking to fulfill their sense of enjoyment… no sense of who’s paying the bills at all… course those teachers had created a world for themselves of security… good intentions, no doubt, but blind to the realities that they were sending these kids into.

  168. Michael says:

    Em,

    There’s a little too much talk about finding and following your “passions” for my taste…but I don’t expect the school to impart those values.
    That has to be done at home…

  169. Jerod says:

    Considering how the last two presidents have helped drive racial tension in our nation and where we are now:

    I watch a black guy buy milk and cereal for a homeless white guy at my stater bro’s in my rundown downtown and Salvation Army is ringing their bell nearby – that gives me hope.

    What gives you hope?

  170. Em says:

    FWIW….
    Short term, the Phoenix Preacher gives me hope
    Mid range, the offer of reconciliation to our Creator via the cross gives me hope
    Long term, the promised end as described in the book of the Revelation gives me hope … and a sober kind of joy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.