Sunday, August 30, 2009

"We Do Not Believe in the Bible"

Would any of you clergy types out there include this soundbite in your Sunday sermon, "We Do Not Believe in the Bible."? Would any of you pewsitters have a problem with it?

The soundbite was part of a longer rant by our self admitted liberal rector on why he is upset when people quote scripture to him to defend "prejudice" by daring to deny ordination to any of the baptized, in particular non-celibate homosexuals. Our rector launched his sermon from Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23 (see the missing verses at the bottom of this post). Today's Gospel provided the perfect segue for the horrendous liberal assault that spewed forth from the pulpit today using a classic liberal tactic to label conservatives as modern day Pharisees and hypocrites. Our rector twisted the Gospel message into a sermon supporting the decisions of first the Episcopal church and then the ELCA (of whom he is soooo proud) to accept non-celibate homosexuals into the ranks of ordained ministry. Included in this particularly odious piece of finger pointing oratory were important looks into the pernicious undermining of God's Word by those sworn to uphold it.

Number one is how the claims of "justice" trump scripture. This starts with a mistaken idea that the recommendations of scripture are burdensome, discriminatory rules. To the liberal mind, such rules are meant to be broken as Jesus' disciples did when they ate without washing their hands, and Jesus backed them up. Sorry Charlie, you can't use the Bible to justify throwing out the Bible.

Number two is the way the liberal preacher must cover his ears and shake his head vigorously when anyone uses scriptural sources to discuss the issues of marriage or qualifications for ordained ministry. Our rector spells the liberal technique out in total clarity, he refuses to listen.

Number three is to use the dog collar and the pulpit to accuse the world of being close minded finger waggers. You know the old, "You can't do that because that is not what the Bible says" type of finger wagging. Those people are bad. The rector got incredibly animated today and on numerous occasions shook his finger at the crowd to demonstrate this point. Sorry Charlie, don't wag your finger when complaining about finger waggers.

Number four is to call people names or mock those opposed to your personal desires. This rector desires to perform same sex blessings. There are people who would oppose this and the ordination of active homosexuals on Biblical grounds. Lacking a Biblical basis himself, the liberal preacher must indirectly call those opposed to his personal feelings Pharisees, hypocrites, and prejudiced.

Number five is to reject the authority of scripture by casting doubt on Biblical truths, and then confuse the congregation by saying that you believe in the living word. The liberal preacher may think but should never, never say out loud, "We Don't Believe in the Bible," because even if he tries to contextualize it by saying that he believes in the living word, he will still lose a good portion of the congregation. Of course, the liberal preacher should not concern himself with parishioners who vote with their feet. To the liberal preacher, the church is a better place without those Bible thumpers.

Today's ravings from the pulpit came before a crowd of visitors and guests who were present to witness a double baptism. There will be repercussions. The conservative fraction of the church will continue to be driven out. Next year's budget will proportionately decrease. Today, a mild family of pewsitters told me that something had to be done. I am afraid that nothing will happen, and the rector will have a free reign to continue in this cattle drive because he knows we are under the rule of a lame duck bishop, and that he has the support of those who gave him a loud "Amen" at the end of today's sermon. I, for one, will remain constant in prayer, and when I pass the Holy Book sitting on the back of the large brass eagle in the front of the church, I will say out loud, "I believe!" Will there be anyone left who will change that "I believe" into a "We believe!"?

In the recent profile of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina the question of whether or not we believe in the Bible was not included. If it had been, I wonder how people would have responded. As I recall, there was one question in the survey that was similar.

#18. I believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and
New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to
contain all things necessary for salvation.

62 % Strongly Agree
24 % Somewhat Agree
4 % No Opinion
7 % Somewhat Disagree
3 % Strongly Disagree

I pray that today's sermon from our rector did nothing to sway the 86% who agree.

Mark 7:9-13,16-20
9 Then he said to them, ‘You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! 10 For Moses said, “Honour your father and your mother”; and, “Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.” 11 But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, “Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban” (that is, an offering to God)— 12 then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.’

17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 He said to them, ‘Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, 19 since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?’ (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, ‘It is what comes out of a person that defiles.


  1. Anonymous6:17 PM

    A response to that appeared in today's Rock Hill Herald you may be interested is seeing

  2. That would be the open letter on page 7B?

    I'll type it up by Wednesday if you would like.

  3. My recollection is that a few years ago, a senior warden saw the rector sliding down into this liberal goo and tried to do something about it. Unfortunately, the milquetoast vestry did not support him and look at the result. I hope our current vestry has more backbone.

  4. Well, at least he was forthright about his beliefs. It's not the honest ones that scare me; it's the ones who hide their true intentions, better to lead more of the flock astray.

  5. John,

    You are correct. Pray for the vestry, and run for office. Most of us in the pews were unaware of the goings on back then.


    Spot on as always.

    For a good sermon go to St. Barnabas' blog.

  6. Anonymous11:24 AM

    Ok Pewster - you have caused me to do a great deal of thinking - the title to your blog is rather inflamatory don't you think? - but then my daughter wouldn't take my bet yesterday when I said you would write something like this !! Just a couple quick questions and I will even give you the answers - where - in any of the Creeds does it say that we, as Christians, believe in the Bible? I was under the impression that "We believe in One God - the Father Almighty". Where in the Bible, the BCP or anywhere else is it taught that we believe in the Bible? Is the Bible a diety?

    So if, as you say, we are to believe in the Bible aren't you advocating Idolitry? Yes!

    The Bible is the WORD of God - not the words of God - it is not God - it is a recording of God's Word and the life and works of his Son Our Lord Jesus Christ, written by mortal men.

    Charlie said what needed to be said on Sunday - and I thank him for it - and those of your ilk who were running around coffee hour, and the internet via your blogs, shaking your fingers and demanding that Charlie should be fired need to remember an old proverb - those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones - or as Jesus said - he who is without sin should cast the first stone.


  7. C2G, Don't cast stones yourself. I had a feeling that defenders of the rector would seek comfort in word play. It all depends on what the meaning of "in" is. Don't go there. Instead let me ask a question: Did God do what He promised He would do in the manner that is outlined in the "Bible"?

  8. Anonymous2:06 PM

    How sad. Jesus explicitly says that sexual sins defile in this Biblical passage. (Of course one can redefine what words like fornication actually mean and you know Jesus never says he's the Word of God either so your priest is free to disagree with him too).

  9. "The Bible is the WORD of God - not the words of God..."

    Nope, sorry, Jesus says in Matthew 4: Man does not live on bread alone but on "every word" that proceeds from the mouth of God. Then he goes on to quote scripture at the Devil and correct the Devil's misrepresentation of it.

    The Pewster is absolutely right. If anything Mark 7 is a sterling example of the supreme authority Jesus attributes to the bible. His beef, in fact, with the Pharisees was NOT that they were too strict in interpreting and applying the text...rather they were not strict enough. They permitted their own opinions...their supersede God's Word written--a familiar problem nowadays in the Episcopal Church. That was the problem.

    Matt Kennedy

  10. Anonymous2:16 PM

    How terribly sad. Ironic that Jesus explicitly states in this passage that sexual sins defile - that is separate you from God. (Of course if one believes one is free to redefine words - such as fornication - at one's whim - then one can side step Jesus words but at the cost of eviscerating the Christian life of any trusted content).

    Of course such preaching may lead us to recall that Jesus never says that he is the Word of God either. So it's OK anyway to disagree with him too.

  11. Anonymous4:06 PM

    I dunno.

    If I were a conservative at your parish I'd take a lot of heart from that kind of overwrought display of a sermon.

    There's only one reason why a rector behaves that childishly [other than, of course, being a child].

    He's angry, defensive, and anxious. Period.

    I don't know if your resident "please stop blogging and leave now" commenter is smart enough to feel the same way. But I'd suspect so.

    People who feel confident, sure of themselves, and serenely peaceful don't have to behave that way. They simply quietly move about their business.

    So the conservatives there need to ask themselves a hard question: "why was our rector so angry, defensive, and anxious that he felt the need to pitch a heretical tantrum in the pulpit?"

    That's the real question that needs to be answered first before you folks take whatever action needs to be taken.

    I'd start with stewardship, of course, rather than leaving. Rectors that immature and exhibitionist don't care about what you think, Pewster -- they care about the dollars you give.

    Your blog, by the way, is an inspiration to me. Thanks to you I'm thinking about starting my own blog -- and I wish other laypeople would to for their parishes. Every parish needs to have at least one lay blogger like you.

    Keep the faith,


  12. Anonymous4:16 PM

    Well, The Nicene Creed says, "On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures...", which bear testimony to the entirety of the Nicene Creed. Of course, this creed is also cited in the Ordination for persons for service in the Book of Common Prayer. A Bishop declares, "I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and
    New Testaments to be the Word of God..." The readings also profess them to be "The Word of God." If you also flip towards the back of the BCP, you'll also find this verbiage: "...very pure word of God, the Holy Scriptures..." And finally, on page 877 you can read, "1. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the revealed Word of God." And I'm not Episcopalian. No wonder you guys are in bad shape! I doubt you could tell your lips from your.. well... you know.

  13. Doug Taylor-Weiss5:20 PM

    In answer to the question above, Where do we ever profess faith in the Bible?

    Answer: twice in the Creed: First, when we say that the Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets, we need to remember that Moses & the historical books can all be considered, broadly, prophets. Thus, the Old Testament. Second, when we confess One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, we are confessing the New Testament as part of our belief since it is written by (again, broadly speaking) the Apostles.

  14. Anonymous8:30 PM

    C2G, re:

    So if, as you say, we are to believe in the Bible aren't you advocating Idolitry? Yes!

    I've seen this rhetorical device of 'Bibliolatry' trotted out quite often, but I've never quite been able to figure out what it means...

    Let's say you receive a letter from someone you love and trust. This letter contains specific instructions, makes specific claims, etc. etc. If you believe the contents of letter, if you try to carry out the instructions contained in it, does that mean you are "worshipping" the letter? That you "love" the letter qua letter more than the beloved? Of course not, that would be a silly assumption, and yet it seems that this is exactly what those who throw around the accusation of 'worshipping the bible' are asserting.

    In order to be properly guilty of idolatry with regards to the bible, people would have to either a) prostrate themselves before the
    physical book and worship it or b) use the words in the bible as magical incantations (and only Joel Osteen does that, not most bible believing, orthodox Christians).

    It seems, as I said above, a rhetorical device, designed to justify those who wish to paint the bible untrustworthy historically, or by those who dislike its morals with regards to their pet sin, and thus use 'idolatry' as a dishonest counterattack against those who believe in biblical morality. If you are a Christian, why don't stop judging others by assuming they're engaging in idolatry and actually demonstrate it? Why should we take your ill-motivated assertions above 2 Tim 3:16 and Deut 6:6-9 (for starters). I assume you've never actually thought this issue through before?

    Liberal Christians are so anxious to be open minded and intellectual... will you please consider the fact that you have not thought this through properly? Thanks.

  15. Anonymous2:45 PM

    Hey Pewey! I have it on good authority that you missheard on Sunday - I have talked to half a dozen folks who were in church on Sunday and at no time did Charlie say we don't believe in the Bible ---- I think you need to apologize!

  16. There will be no apology for telling the truth.

    Perhaps at the 8:00 am service he left out that piece of information regarding our denomination. Since he does not write out his sermons, we have to rely on our Sunday ears. The pewster's well trained Sunday ears did not have to be turned on to hear this on. It occured around the 20 minute mark if I recall correctly.

  17. Anonymous3:30 PM

    Nope Pewey- your "well trained" Sunday ears are wrong. Still waiting....

  18. Anonymous4:26 PM

    He, he - feeling the love coming your way from some of your parish. Keep up the good work Pewster.

  19. Anonymous4:27 PM

    Former COOS member says, just ask Father Foss. He will tell you he said it. The man will not lie.

    But I agree with someone above, something has got Father Foss upset.

  20. In defense of "Pewey"

    Much of the conversation at coffee hour centered on that particular phrase. We all heard it. None of us could believe that we heard it. But, there it was for all to see (hear). In future, I'd suggest paying more attention to the sermon.

  21. John,

    It might be safer to not pay attention to the sermon and read the assigned readings, confess your sins, and prepare yourself to receive the body and blood of Our Saviour.

  22. Sorry I missed coffee hour, I needed to air out.

  23. Anonymous12:25 PM

    Hey Anon - I am about as conservative as you can get! Which is why I AM totally horrified by the ad in the Herald last Sunday!

    And you know what Pewster - I also think you need to apologize.


  24. Anonymous10:43 PM

    " I also think you need to apologize."

    Yeh -- apologize, Pewster, for "being divisive" and saying on a public forum what your revisionist rector said out loud in the pulpit. You've caused all the trouble that's occurred in the past week -- it's all you, because you know . . . you said things out loud rather than keeping them hidden from the outside world.

    You should not be allowed to do this. No more blogging for you, Oh Divisive One. Pointing out how what you believe is different from what your rector believes is . . . "divisive" . . . because it's different.