Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Second Dumbest Thing our Presiding Bishop Has Ever Said

This has to be the second dumbest thing our Presiding Bishop has ever said,

The Episcopal Church needs many more women bishops, according to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and it has neglected available methods to accomplish that goal...
Jefferts Schori said that resistance to women in top leadership roles tends to come not from clergy, who are largely supportive. It comes instead from laity in an Episcopal Church she described as “too white, too old, too female” in comparison with the general population. When asked if laywomen are to blame for the scant number of female leaders, she said, “I don’t know that,” and instead placed the problem broadly at the feet of laypeople empowered to cast votes. Read the rest at the Midwest Conservative Journal.
The next P.B. is really going to have to try hard to top this gal.

If the blame is placed on the laypeople who vote, then logic would tell us that  the blame must rest on old white females.

Church ladies!

That makes about as much sense as saying that white female democrats won't vote for Hillary Clinton if she runs for President.

So how do you solve the gender gap problem in the Episcopacy?

One has to wonder if the rules for electing a bishop might be changed at some point in the future to reduce the impact of the old white church lady vote.

In case you missed it, the dumbest thing she ever said was probably in her worst sermon ever...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Lord said to my Lord Problem

Today's Gospel reading was Matthew 22:34-46.
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "`You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: "What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David." He said to them, "How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,
`The Lord said to my Lord,
"Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet"'?
If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?" No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Last year I posted about the difficulty with the greatest and first commandment and wrote,

"The heart has too many strings pulling on it, and the mind is constantly being distracted by its own musings for me to ever say that all my heart and all my mind are all in it for God all of the time."
Today I will focus of the problems many of us have with Jesus' question that he gave the Pharisees,
"How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord"
We have to look at the complete text of Psalm 110 which Jesus quotes,
Psalm 110 of David

1 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand,
until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
2 The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion:
rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,
in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning:
thou hast the dew of thy youth.
4 The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent,
Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
6 He shall judge among the heathen,
he shall fill the places with the dead bodies;
he shall wound the heads over many countries.
7 He shall drink of the brook in the way:
therefore shall he lift up the head.

I have always needed help figuring out that first verse. Here is what I found at NazareneSpace,

Yeshua identifies himself as the Messiah as being the “my Adon” who YHWH speaks to in Psalm 110, verse 1. 
1YHWH says unto my Adon: Sit you at My right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool
The Midrash Tehillim (Midrash on Psalms) identifies the “My Adon” of Psalm 110:1 as Messiah.  According to the Midrash Tehillim: 
The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit you at My right hand.
To the Messiah it will also be said,
and in mercy the throne be established;…

Tovia Singer and other anti-missionaries (and others who question the deity of Messiah) insist that the “my Adon” of this passage is not YHWH.

However this identification is based on one of the “Tikkun Soferim”, the “emendations of the scribes”
While in verse 5 the Masoretic Text has “Adonai”, this is one of 134 places where the Masoretic Text reads “Adonai” but which the Masorah indicates that the text originally read “YHWH” and had been altered by the scribes in an attempt on their part to clarify the text. A copy found at the Cairo Geniza also has “YHWH” here.

Matthew Henry in his Commentary provides some help as to why the Pharisees were so puzzled,
It is not so easy for those who believe not the Godhead of the Messiah, to clear this from an absurdity, if Christ be David’s son. It is incongruous for the father to speak of his son, the predecessor of his successor, as his Lord. If David call him Lord, that is laid down (Matt. 22:45) as the magis notum—the more evident truth; for whatever is said of Christ’s humanity and humiliation must be construed and understood in consistency with the truth of his divine nature and dominion. We must hold this fast, that he is David’s Lord, and by that explain his being David’s son. The seeming differences of scripture, as here, may not only be accommodated, but contribute to the beauty and harmony of the whole. Amicae scripturarum lites, utinam et nostrae—The differences observable in the scriptures are of a friendly kind; would to God that our differences were of the same kind!
III. We have here the success of this gentle trial which Christ made of the Pharisees’ knowledge, in two things.
1. It puzzled them (Matt. 22:46); No man was able to answer him a word. Either it was their ignorance that they did not know, or their impiety that they would not own, the Messiah to be God; which truth was the only key to unlock this difficulty. What those Rabbies could not then answer, blessed be God, the plainest Christian that is led into the understanding of the gospel of Christ, can now account for; that Christ, as God, was David’s Lord; and Christ, as Man, was David’s son. This he did not now himself explain, but reserved it till the proof of it was completed by his resurrection; but we have it fully explained by him in his glory (Rev. 22:16); I am the root and the offspring of David. Christ, as God, was David’s Root; Christ, as Man, was David’s Offspring. If we hold not fast this truth, that Jesus Christ is over all God blessed for ever, we run ourselves into inextricable difficulties. 

No wonder the pre-resurrection Pharisees were unable to answer Jesus. Since we know the rest of the story, we are able to dissect the question and the response.

But it does take a bit of digging. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

'Tis Not a Gift

Typically, this time of year people's thoughts turn to church budgets and stewardship campaigns, and appropriately today's Gospel reading was about money.

The Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" They answered, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away. Matthew 22:15-22,
All too often people are presented with the idea that "giving to God the things that are God's" means giving money to the church. There is a whole lot more to giving than that, and in fact giving to the church that has strayed from God is definitely not giving to God. Giving money to a church that supports abortion, giving money to a church that has given up on divorce, and giving money to a church that has given up on sex is not giving to God the things that are God's.

The fact that people continue to render these gifts leaves me amazed.

I think 'tis not a gift, but instead 'tis enabling.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The "Wrath" of God: Getting Over a Pons Asinorum

Talking about gruesome stories, in 1 Samuel we are brought face to face with some of those difficult verses we seldom hear preached on Sunday.  I have picked out the verses I believe might cause people to question the Bible.
2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, “I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

7 Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8 He took King Agag of the Amalekites alive, but utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 9 Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep and of the cattle and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was valuable, and would not utterly destroy them; all that was despised and worthless they utterly destroyed.

10 The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11‘I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not carried out my commands.’

32 Then Samuel said, ‘Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me.’ And Agag came to him haltingly. Agag said, ‘Surely this is the bitterness of death.' 33 But Samuel said,
‘As your sword has made women childless,
so your mother shall be childless among women.’
And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.

Modern people might question, "Did the Lord order the viscous attack on Agag and the Amalekites, or is this just the Hebrew's way of writing a justification for their war?"

And to add to the confusion for the modern mind, the victorious King Saul is disobedient to God's command because the destruction was not total and spares Agag and the animals, and as a result falls out of favor. You might hear the question, "What kind of God is this?" or the statement, "I would never worshio a God like that."

Was Agag so bad that God ordered him to be punished in such a manner?

Please read the following from C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain Chapter 4 Human Wickedness:
"When we merely say, that we are bad, the 'wrath' of God seems a barbarous doctrine; as soon as we perceive our badness, it appears inevitable, a mere corollary from God's goodness. To keep ever before us the insight derived from such a moment as I have been describing, to learn to detect the same real inexcusable corruption under more and more of its complex disguises, is therefore indispensable to a real understanding of the Christian faith. This is not, of course, a new doctrine. I am attempting nothing very splendid in this chapter. I am merely trying to get my reader (and, still more, myself) over a pons asinorum--to take the first step out of fool's paradise and utter illusion. But the illusion has grown, in modern times, so strong, that I add a few considerations tending to make the reality less incredible."

Would a modern person go so far as to say that God is incapable of wrath, or that He would not act in a punitive way to creatures that have sunk even lower than bad? Have we gone that far over the precipice that we can, from our fool's paradise, dictate to Him?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Why I Worry About Pride Parade Goers

I am continuing my reading through the O.T. prophets and the following warnings from Malachi struck a chord:

"So now we call the proud blessed, For those who do wickedness are raised up; They even tempt God and go free." Malachi 3:15 
"For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up," Says the Lord of hosts, "That will leave them neither root nor branch.
But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves."
Malachi 4:1-2  

Why do people have to participate in or attend pride parades when in humility we should all stay home and beg forgiveness for our prideful selves? 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Budget Woes For +Upper South Carolina?

The silence from upstate Episcopalians about the upcoming 92nd Diocesan Convention Of The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina is perhaps a reflection of the general sense of "who cares" amongst the people in the pews, but perhaps there is more going on than people know.

Apparently a letter from Bishop Waldo went out to clergy recently about restructuring the staff. He attributes it to a financial shortfall this year and projected cuts for 2015, and so the theme for this year's convention is appropriately titled,

Stewardship of People, Place and Money
                    October 17-18
            Christ Church, Greenville
Didn't they used to call that, "Stewardship of Time, Talent & Treasure"?

Stewardship of people means:
1) Gone is the Canon to the Ordinary.
2) Gone is the Canon for Congregational and Leadership Development.
3) Gone is the Executive Assistant to the Bishop.

With pledges decreasing, many smaller parishes are feeling the pain this year from their diocesan assessments. These assessments will drop a little bit the year following a poor yearly income report, so Bishop Waldo knows that he either has to cut his budget or some program that might be particularly precious to someone else, but as far as stewardship of money is concerned, are there any other sacred cows out there to sacrifice?

In previous years, suggestions to cut the 815 pledge have been summarily dismissed. It is hard to see anything good coming out of 815 these days, so why not give them what they have earned? Will anyone stand up this year and ask the delegates to put the knife to this clear and present danger to good stewardship?

Usually, the proposed budget (euphemistically called the "Statement of Mission") has been passed around enough times that most of us are aware of exactly what cuts the Conventioneers might have to debate. This year a cloak of silence has been thrown over the pre-convention debate so that many delegates may find their Saturday afternoon plans thwarted if anyone tries to debate a line item at Convention. This budget has been in development all year, so there shouldn't be any surprises, but what usually happens is that somebody who feels strongly about their particular line item will decide to stand up and give a last minute appeal for that item.

Ah well, Bishop Waldo and 815 are the ones to blame for falling plate and pledge and falling enthusiasm for the Episcopal organization thanks to their progressive changes and insidious revisionism, but don't expect your church leaders to admit it. Instead expect more attempts at rearranging the deck chairs as the ship slips below the waves.

Here is a copy of the Bishop's letter,

I am still trying to figure out "Stewardship of Place". Does that mean that if your church does pay its dues, it will be placed in "Mission" status turning your place into the Bishop's place?

I sure am glad we have a huge mortgage payment that the Bishop would never want to add to his budget woes.

If he is looking for advice from this lowly pewsitter on how to pull the Church from out of its budgetary death spiral, I would tell him to repent of his sins, to say no to same sex blessings and marriages, to cast out the revisionist priests he has allowed to take over the ranks of the clergy, to cast out the remaining "Canons to This That and the Other Things" in order to recruit reasserting clergy with track records of church growth, and to preach the Gospel. Heck, bring them in from DSC if you can't find them in TEC.

If you preach it straight, they will come.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

To Be In Communion or Not to Be in Communion

That is the question this week for pewsitters all over the world who worship in an Anglican style after three news items appeared which might awaken even the most disconnected Sunday card-puncher.

First the news leaked by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal style church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, that the Lambeth Conference of bishops from throughout the Anglican Communion ain't gonna happen. I think the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, does not want a repeat of the last Lambeth disaster where some bishops refused their invitations and the Episcopal P.B. was told she could not wear her mitre while in ++Welby's jurisdiction. ++Welby may also be confused as to who to invite and who to "not invite", because there is a growing number of bishops out there who claim to be Anglican but who face a powerful group who say that they ain't Anglican.

Imagine inviting a bunch of Jr. High School girls and their cliques together for a party, and you will see the Archbishop's problem.

Secondly, the Archbishop of Canterbury let it slip (Anglican Ink) that he believes that the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is an ecumenical partner and not a member church of the Anglican Communion. That is a big snub to some 100,000 pewsitters many of whom have a better understanding and a higher regard for Anglicanism than some of the bishops currently controlling the Episcopal church.

Last and perhaps least, from the tiny Anglican Church of North West Australia comes this,
"...recognizes the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) as a member church of the Anglican Communion, in full communion with Diocese of North West Australia; rejoices that the orthodox faith is proclaimed in word and deed through ACNA and its member churches;" (Link to StandFirm in Faith post).
Does that make NW Australia an ecumenical partner now?

Identity confusion reigns supreme. You can't host a religious gathering like Lambeth when nobody can agree on who belongs there in the first place.

A few questions raised by all of this can be summarized as follows,
1) What is the definition of an Anglican church?
2) What is the definition of an Anglican?
3) What is the meaning of being in communion with another church?
4) What is the meaning of being in communion with another person?
5) What things should exist in order for a church to be in communion?
6) What things might take a church out of communion? 
7) What things might take a person out of communion? 
8) Who makes the call?
9) Who cares?
Maybe only time will answer the questions. To my mind, the Anglican Communion has been high-jacked by those who are enamored by a revisionist approach to scripture and theology and who will do what ever they can to destroy traditionalists. Today's Gospel reading hints at what might await those who would promote non-traditional sexual morality and try to steal the inheritance from traditionalists.

Jesus said, "Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, `They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.' So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" They said to him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time."
Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the scriptures:
`The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord's doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes'?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom."
Matthew 21:33-43
In time, those who hold true to the Bible will be given the kingdom and their share in the true Anglican Communion.

++Justin Welby: To be in communion, or not to be--that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous traditionalists
Or to take arms against a sea of troublemakers
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--
No more--and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep--
To sleep--perchance to dream of union in the communion.

Hamlet was a tragedy too...

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Wolfhart Pannenberg: "A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church."

Theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg passed away recently.

From Christianity Today,

Of homosexual practice he said the following: "This is the real problem: and it is here that we must deal with the conclusion that homosexual activity is a departure from the norm for sexual behavior that has been given to men and women as creatures of God. For the church this is the case not only for homosexual but for any sexual activity that does not intend the goal of marriage between man and wife—in particular, adultery. 
"The church has to live with the fact that, in this area of life as in others, departures from the norm are not exceptional but rather common and widespread. The church must encounter all those concerned with tolerance and understanding but also call them to repentance. It cannot surrender the distinction between the norm and behavior that departs from that norm. 
"Here lies the boundary of a Christian church that knows itself to be bound by the authority of Scripture. Those who urge the church to change the norm of its teaching on this matter must know that they are promoting schism. 
If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm, and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture. A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church."
Each week, thousands of Episcopalians recite the Nicene Creed unaware of the fact that they are no longer part of  that one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

We say that we believe in it, but our actions speak otherwise.

Lord, help us with our unbelief.