Monday, January 26, 2009

Last Task

The following are part of my final remarks as Church Council President of my church:

"...from 2 Corinthians: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?” With this tract in mind, I want to encourage everyone to give serious consideration to seceding from the United Church of Christ, to exist as a solely separate community church, which we pretty much are anyway, or even aligning with a more Biblically sound denomination. For my part, there is much that is wrong with the views of the UCC, but none so heretical as their support of homosexuality and gay marriage. I’m not going to go into details at this time except to say that since becoming a member and learning of the UCC’s position on this issue, I’ve studied it extensively and find no leg upon which they can firmly stand. They are wrong. Period. But, seceding is a serious matter and entails serious thought. So, think of what benefits we possess by our alignment with the UCC. What real difference to us would it make to break away, as over 200 congregations have done over this issue. I am not forgetting the possibility of negative consequences for Rev. M--- or Bob W--- and those are important considerations. I don’t expect this discussion to move quickly, as it likely shouldn’t. But I am convinced it is a discussion in which we need to engage ourselves. It matters as far as developing mission statements and how we present ourselves to the greater community and how we present ourselves as children of God. I haven’t thought much beyond merely broaching the subject. I have a few vague ideas about how to pursue this discussion. But for now, I’m merely planting the seed and hoping each of you consider it seriously, speaking amongst yourselves in whatever groups naturally occur and in time, we’ll see where it goes."

With that, and a congregational recitation of the Lord's Prayer, our annual meeting was adjourned and I stepped down as President (me and George Bush). Two terms lasting six years, while being Chairman of the Board of Elders most of that time. I will miss certain aspects, such as having a turn as Lay Leader for Sunday services, and of course certain aspects I'll be glad be rid of, such as petty complaints one shouldn't expect in a Christian setting. (Rev. M--- and Bob W--- are our pastor and another elder who is enroute to ordination.)

But the subject of leaving the UCC has been something I had been wanting to address for some time. The feeling would ebb and flow with events both personal and otherwise, but the UCC has a way of reminding one why they are worth leaving. After the Prop 8 was successfully and righteously adopted in California, I had learned that the UCC had spent church funds advertising in several "gay" publications showing support for defeating the measure. Now, say what you will about the morality or immorality of homosexual behavior, or say what you will about those who support their agenda, but to spend the money of people for whom the issue is so contentious goes beyond hubris. The UCC is a tool of the homosexual activists. Their position is, as I have said in my final remarks and elsewhere, counter-Biblical, and among the many other UCC positions with which I disagree, none are so blatantly so.

So, I've made my pitch. We'll see how this shags out in the days and weeks to come.

73 comments:

hashfanatic said...

well, at least you're manifesting your beliefs, with your actions

for what it's worth, i've always been mystified as to your affiliation with a ucc church, given your opinions on some very key issues, i have always imagined there must have been a lot of internal conflict over this, they really are the most "liberal" denomination i know of

on the other hand, the obvious problem i would imagine, would be that i don't know of any mainstream protestant denomination whose position statements even come close to being reflective of your views

ironically, i hear guys like you in MY church all the time, LOL! but, as you've mentioned, you've been there, and done that....

i prefer it when folks leave a church to go to another one, because i've learned to not have a church home severs a certain tangible spiritual connection that is difficult to define, and even harder to recognize...if you have children, obviously it is best to be affiliated somewhere, if only for the continuity of a weekly, regular service

it discomfits me that so many christians run around, unchurched, attaching their own personal takes on scripture, that sometimes wind up being quite unbiblical in nature

maybe a non-denomination, large "evangelical" church, if there is such a thing in your area? (There is not, here, except for almost entirely black, "gospel"-oriented congregations...)

good luck in your journey, it is good to worship with others who share your opinions on essential christian doctrine, without many points of disagreement

Marshall Art said...

Hash,

As I indicated in the statement, I've wrestled with this since the beginning. But in the UCC, each congregation is autonomous and runs their own affairs, abiding by only those resolutions and beliefs of the UCC that truly matches their own. I guess the larger denomination runs more as a guide for how to view an issue, but cannot mandate acceptance.

This satisfied to some extent for a while, as this congregation does not officially side with the UCC opinion, though a few members might. Overall, the wife and I quickly came to love and enjoy the people, but I personally could never totally get around being "equally yoked" to an organization so heretical in their view on this issue. Other liberal positions they take are not necessarily or blantantly counter-Biblical, and I could more easily handle things if not for the particular issue of homosexuality.

There are some more hard core fundamentalist churches out there. There are some that more Biblically sound without being "scary", as some might describe it. We have neighbors who left their Methodist church over this issue and have found a community church where they feel more comfortable. We plan on checking out that church in preparation that we might leave. As it happens, my wife has lost her desire to be in this church for a totally different reason, and we may leave no matter what the congregation decides regarding their affiliation with the UCC.

-----------------------------------

I have to say, that reactions to my statement were not outwardly emotional. We have a lot of elderly that comprise the core of our regular attendees. One of them, one who I thought was likely liberal leaning, came up to me expressing his agreement as something he was behind for some time. Another applauded me for merely doing it. Yet another, a woman, also expressed agreement.

After making the statement, I something to the effect of, "So on that sour note, let us rise and pray..." to which, after the prayer and adjournment, my pastor leaned, who is a liberal, leaned over and said it wasn't a sour note and felt I did a good thing by expressing that which I felt so strongly.

There were a few in whom I confided before actually doing the deed, but I already knew they were likely to be in agreement. As it happened, before service, as we choir members were waiting to enter the sanctuary (we do so in procession), one member showed me her t-shirt which depicted Mt Rushmore with Obumble's face added. I let her know that I felt he was an entirely poor choice to add to that group, particularly with what little track record he has, and how bad a track record it is so far. This led to a bit of a political discussion to which I expressed my strong displeasure with both his election and the people who put him there. I haven't heard from these people regarding my statement.

I'm deciding on whether to put out some sort of detailed written statement explaining my position, or working out a presentation to deliver to as many congregants as want to attend. I don't want to just light this stink bomb and then let it dissipate. I want people to give it real thought and rally some kind of action. Even if they come down on staying with the UCC, I think it would benefit us to go through this.

Anonymous said...

Marshall:

I applaud you for your courage and a very well written and mature letter to your church.
I attend a very liberal UM church myself and have been hesitant to church hop with my family (wife and four young ones). God will let us know. I have been surprised by other people in our congregation that feel as I do regarding the direction of our local congregation and the UM demonination.
Remain strong in faith my friend!

In His Grip,
Joseph

Craig said...

Marshall,

As one who is a member of a local church which is swimming against the denominational tide. I share your concern. At this point, at least, our leadership is actively looking at our options, up to and including leaving the denomination. I wish you the best. It sounds like it's not as big a deal to leave the UCC as it is with other denominations.
God Bless.

4simpsons said...

Marshall, I admire your commitment. With denominations like yours and mine, there are three options:

1. Leave
2. Stay and fight for the truth
3. Stay and don't fight

I understand the choice of people who pick 1 or 2, but not 3.

Marshall Art said...

Craig,

No, I don't think so, except for how it might impact clergy certified through a UCC association. Right now, there's a chance that our Constitution states that the property might revert to thr UCC. Obviously, this has to be amended. But compared to most other denominations, it's probably a lot easier to secede.

Marshall Art said...

Joseph,

If I'm not mistaken, both Neil and Geoffrey are members of UM churches. This issue is divisive within it as well, and Neil has posted on it.

Sometimes, however, we have to wander about until we find the right home, as much of a pain as it might be.

Marty said...

I think if you are not happy with the way your denomination is headed then you should just leave and join a denomination that is more to your liking. What you are doing is stirring up trouble and it will likely divide the church.

You can always join a Southern Baptist Church. They are in line with your beliefs. They are also completely autonomous and can withdraw and become independent without any problems.

However, if you think it's okay for women to be pastors and deacons, then you're going to have another problem...the oppression of women. But if you're okay with a men's only club, then you'll fit right in.

Marty said...

I believe Geoffrey has stated that he is Roman Catholic.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Marty, I am and always have been a United Methodist, and am married to a an ordained elder of that denomination, who has served three different appointments with remarkable distinction since 1994.

Marshall Art said...

Marty,

As I have stated, each UCC congregation is entirely autonomous. As I have also stated, we have grown fond of the people of this congregation. Thus, I would prefer that they also partake of the decision to choose God over the UCC and their heresies. If after discussion, they should decide that the UCC is the best place for them, then leaving is the only and best option. I believe at least attempting to persuade them to choose God is a task that might be an actual reason why I was led to this congregation in the first place. Now the die is cast and the play is made. We'll wait to see how it plays out and go from there. I consider it a blessing to have the opportunity to stand up for God's Will and if possible, play a part in leading these people closer to it, if He so chooses.

As to division in the church, that's been done by the self-serving members of the UCC, not by me, just as it has been in within the Episcopalian and Methodist denominations, as well as I'm sure others who wrestle with this issue. Remember, it's not about accepting homosexuals into the church, it's about accepting homosexuality. That's contrary to God's Will.

Marshall Art said...

Marty,

Furthermore, do you find standing up for righteousness to be "stirring up trouble" simply because others don't want to deal with the issue? Seems to me that makes you part and parcel of the sin being tolerated. Sorry, but I'll stir up trouble every time.

Marty said...

Ah Geoffrey...sorry for the mistake. Glad to meet another fellow United Methodist!

"I believe at least attempting to persuade them to choose God is a task that might be an actual reason why I was led to this congregation in the first place."

I guess it never entered your mind that God just possibly led you there for a very different reason. One that might have a bit of a humbling effect?


"Furthermore, do you find standing up for righteousness to be "stirring up trouble"

I don't think what you are doing is standing up for righteousness Marshall. And especially since you stated your wife already had other reasons for leaving anyway, then you should just quietly go.

Marshall Art said...

Marty,

My wife's reasons are her own and should those reasons compell her more strongly, then we'll talk about it and decide.

How would exposing me to blatant heresy be God's way of humbling me? I certainly don't act from a spirit of arrogance in my dealings with my fellow congregants. I don't think I'd be out of line to say that I get along quite well with everyone there, as far as I can tell. And why would you say this: "I don't think what you are doing is standing up for righteousness Marshall."? Do you in your personal life merely walk away silently when confronted with wrongdoing? You think your job as a Christian is to merely shut up and scoot off without so much as a comment that might lead another from their wickedness toward a better relationship with God? I know that isn't true considering your words regarding the war. Or are you just stirring up trouble and might be better off saying nothing?

Anonymous said...

Marshall and Neil:

Ouch! I feel convicted, and deservedly so. I question whether I have the courage to fight, and/or that I know how to fight. I welcome your thoughts and comments either here or in e-mail.
Thank you for making me uncomfortable with myself.

Best,
Joseph

Marshall Art said...

Joseph,

Neil's comment might be unintentionally harsh. Feel free to contact me through email (available through my blogger profile) if you so choose. Or, simply know that what is right for one on such an issue might not be perfect for the next. It's a personal thing and only you know for sure the details of your circumstances.

One thought might be to enter into discussions with as many of those like-minded fellow members you mentioned, and perhaps act as a unit, to either solicit and/or collect more opinions, to pressure the congregational leaders to take a stand (gently and lovingly, like Christians, of course) while letting them know of your concerns.

It's a tough call. There are in the UCC at least two more conservative/fundamental factions opposed to the troublesome positions the UCC takes. One of them has been around for a long time, and the other came about in response to the "God is still speaking" campaign of a few years ago that resulted in the UCC resolution to support homosexual marriages and inclusion into the church as equal to traditional hetero relationships, which led to around 200 or more congregations across the country leaving the denomination. In the case of the UCC, I don't see that either of these groups has had any influence whatsoever in affecting the mindset of the UCC heirarchy.

In your case, I don't think secession is easier due to ownership of the church building and property likely being in the hands of the denomination. But, as in Neil's case, if I'm not mistaken, individual congregations are coming down on either side of the issue and there's not an official position quite yet. I could be wrong.

I wish you well. As I said, you are more than welcome to contact me through email if you wish. You are more than welcome to do so.

Mark said...
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Mark said...

It was I that wrote and then deleted that last comment. I didn't read the other comments first and found I only repeated the same thigs others have said.

I do want to respond to Marty, though. I am a lifelong Southern Baptist, and each individual Baptist church is autonomous.

Women are not oppressed in the Southern Baptist Convention. My mother was an associational director of a missions organization within the church for decades, starting in the 50's. Many Southern Baptist churches have women pastors.

My wife and I were married by a woman pastor.

Art, my advice to you is get out of that church and find one that preaches and teaches the Bible. Churches that don't are too divisive to minister to anyone's needs.

Marty said...

"Do you in your personal life merely walk away silently when confronted with wrongdoing?"

Not usually, but sometimes I do depending on the situation.

In the case of a church - I walked away away from a Southern Baptist Church to join the United Methodist Church because I think women can be pastors. Southern Baptists do not believe a woman pastor is scriptural. And they can quote you scriptures to prove it too! They have even less ground on which to stand regarding deaconesses, but they don't like those either. Their views on sexual orientation were also a factor.

You see, I don't feel it is my job to correct other Christians in their doctrinal views. Why stay in a church you don't agree with when there are many others to chose from that you can agree with?

Marty said...

"Many Southern Baptist churches have women pastors."

No Mark they don't. Not anymore. There weren't "many" churches, only a few who had women pastors anyway. But that all changed in 2000. Check the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. If a Southern Baptist Church has a woman pastor they are kicked out now. They don't allow women chaplains now either.

Marty said...

Oh and another thing Mark. Missionaries. I have friends, now retired, who were Southern Baptist Missionaries in Africa for over 40 years. They told me that today they would not be accepted because they could not, in good conscience, sign the new Doctrinal Statement required of all missionaires appointed by the new International Board.

Mark said...

Marty, You have friends, eh? Well, my older brother was the business manager for the Philipine Southern Baptist missions IN the Philipines for 20+ years. There ARE women pastors and deacons in the Southern Baptist Convention because each individual church is autonomous.

Marty said...

Really? Where? Name them. If there are any women left at this point, I'm betting the SBC doesn't know about them yet.

Mark said...

Marty, I've done some research and I find we are both right to some degree.

From the Southern Baptist Convention's official website:

Southern Baptists have long valued the priceless contribution of women as they have ministered to advance God's Kingdom. The Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) affirms the vital role of women serving in the church. Yet it recognizes the biblical restriction concerning the office of pastor, saying: "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture." The passages that restrict the office of pastor to men do not negate the essential equality of men and women before God, but rather focus on the assignment of roles.

The Southern Baptist Convention also passed a resolution in the early 1980s recognizing that offices requiring ordination are restricted to men.

Now, pay attention to the following paragraph:

However the BF&M and resolutions are not binding upon local churches. Each church is responsible to prayerfully search the Scriptures and establish its own policy.

So, The Convention has resolved that women should not be pastors, but the resolutions are not binding. Thus, if a Southern Baptist Church, as an autonomous entity, wants to have a woman pastor they are not kicked out.

Whatever the resolution it is clear from the official mission statement that women are definitely not oppressed in the Southern Baptist Church.

I don't know of any specific woman pastor in a Southern Baptist church. Since it is the largest protestant denomination it would be hard to find out that particular information. I do know, however, there have been in the recent past.

Marty said...

"However the BF&M and resolutions are not binding upon local churches. Each church is responsible to prayerfully search the Scriptures and establish its own policy."

Yeah...well...that's what it says, I know, but in practice it is something entirely different. The SBC will "dissfellowship" a church with a woman pastor. I've seen it happen.

"I don't know of any specific woman pastor in a Southern Baptist church."

I didn't figure you would. I knew of a couple at one time here in Texas..however, they are serving churches in other denominations now. Some state conventions are open to women pastors and chaplains such as the Baptist General Convention of Texas. A friend of mine, a woman, recently went though the BGCT to become a Chaplain in the military.

Marshall Art said...

Marty,

"You see, I don't feel it is my job to correct other Christians in their doctrinal views. Why stay in a church you don't agree with when there are many others to chose from that you can agree with?"

There are levels to each of the above sentences that make a difference. For the first sentence, are you not salt and light? Are you a lamp under a basket? I'n not into harrassing the sinner or unbeliever or the merely mistaken. There's also a matter of familiarity with a given individual---personal friend or once a week aquaintance. Above that, there is the matter of sitting back while you know a particular point is so off base and then doing nothing about it. At what point do we speak out for His sake or do nothing for our own?

As uncomfortable as it is, I insist on an explanation for that which to my understanding is patently false. Two outcomes of equal value are welcomed: 1) I enlighted those who were going astray, or 2) They enlighten me and my understanding increases. Other outcomes require a parting of ways, but not necessarily right away. A little research might be in order and armed with such, another surge. Isn't the soul of the other worth taking a shot? Isn't yours?

The second sentence is dependant upon that over which there is disagreement first. In my case, the issue is over the sinfulness of homosexuality. In the UCC, I am not getting a sense that it is being addressed as such and that is obviously and blatantly heretical. In fact, I believe they are down with the false teachings that claim there is some expression of the behavior that God would actually bless. As I said, heresy.

So as this is without question, the next point revolves around the beliefs of the congregation as a whole. As I said, I'm quite fond of these people and consider them to be friends. Thus, I'm quite concerned about their position on the issue. If the consensus is that we are in agreement, then to pursue secession from the UCC is the proper course and I've been of service to my brethren. If there is no consensus, or if the consensus is in opposition to my position, then MY course is clear.

However, the issue of homosexuality is but one issue over which I find the UCC to be too far off the Christian reservation. It is the most egregious in MY personal opinion. But if we step back from such issues, there is still the issue of whether or not being a part of ANY denomination makes sense for us if we have no real relations with that denomination. As things are now, we are basically running as a community church of no denomination. What's the point of associating with a denomination that is mired in such contentious issues? How does that benefit us in terms of increasing our roles? So there's a practical side of this issue apart from my own outrage over the blatant heresies of the UCC.

Now, to merely walk away is one thing. To find a church that does nothing over which I might disagree could be a bit tougher. In the next case, the doctrine might be sound, but the people a group of jerks, or the polity of the church could be a problem. I could start my own Christ Church of the Marshalling Artist, but that could be a very small congregation for some time.

In addition, I have a big problem with people who just walk away. We are a small group and each person or family that leaves is really a significant percentage compared to the loss of the same at a large Catholic parish or a Willow Creek type congregation. I want people to express themselves and explain why so that we both can be certain that the reason is something that can't be rectified before the split occurs. The reason might be something that the church never considered but would have no problem addressing to their satisfaction. The reason might be something the person misunderstands and upon clarification would change their mind. But there's no doubt that should my time come, they'll know why and the parting will be understood.

Feodor said...
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Erudite Redneck said...

I whole-heartedly encourage you to leave the UCC, Marshall.

And, may I echo: "You see, I don't feel it is my job to correct other Christians in their doctrinal views. Why stay in a church you don't agree with when there are many others to chose from that you can agree with?"

I seriously do wish you well. I grew up as a Southern Baptist, was on spiritual life support for years as a regular visitor to a United Methodist church, and I joined a local congregational UCC church in 2005, where I'm now a deacon.

Life's too short to force yourself into fellowship with people with whom you feel unequally yoked.

Marshall Art said...

Feodor,

If by "poison pill" you mean that I stand up for God's truth in the face of blatant heresy, I accept the odd endearment.

Marshall Art said...

ER,

It's the UCC with whom I have a problem. What I'm doing now is determining if I'm also yoked to the wrong congregation. As I stated, 200 or more congregations left the UCC over the issue of "gay" marriage since the UCC's ill advised, and poorly debated resolution of two Synods ago. I also stated that there are other reasons leaving makes sense. Should at some point it is made clear that this congregation is opposed in any way, then my course will be clear.

"You see, I don't feel it is my job to correct other Christians in their doctrinal views."

This shows a complete lack of compassion for one's fellow man concerning the most important aspect, which is their eternal souls. Actually I find it hard to believe you don't engage in this to some degree, and that likely we only disagree as to the limits of doing so. I'm not for force of any kind, but neither am I going to sit by silently and not make some move to express a more Biblically sound alternative. I am willing to debate to a point before I shake the dust from my sandles, but do nothing? You might be held accountable and there is Scripture that supports this possibility.

Feodor said...
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Marty said...

Yeah Marshall, you better shake it off pretty quick, otherwise you could hit the quicksand and drown.

Erudite Redneck said...

Re, quoting me: "You see, I don't feel it is my job to correct other Christians in their doctrinal views."

MA then says: "This shows a complete lack of compassion for one's fellow man concerning the most important aspect, which is their eternal souls."

Pshaw. Not even close. I have no compassion for doctrine. None. As if the state of one's soul, such as it is, has a damned thing to do with that.

Srsly. Give me a list of doctrines to which you think I must adhere. I don't have one, and neither does the church I'm a part of, save this: Jesus is Lord.

4simpsons said...

Re. doctrine -- I've got more where these came from. Seems to me that for Christians we'd look to the Bible to determine the importance of sound doctrine.

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Titus 1:9-2:1 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. . . . Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

1 Timothy 4:16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Erudite Redneck said...

Neil, those are great defenses of sound doctrine. But not one explanation of what sound doctrine is. And the Bible is laden with disparate strains of doctrine -- it is, or we wouldn't be debating so much.

Anyway: Jesus is Lord. That's the only doctrine worth the Cross itself. IMHO.

4simpsons said...

"Neil, those are great defenses of sound doctrine. But not one explanation of what sound doctrine is."

Keep readin'.

Feodor said...
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4simpsons said...

Oh, Feodor, I know you have a blog-crush on me and are a jilted blogger since I don't let you post your idiocies on my blog. But really, I'm embarrassed on your behalf for how transparent you are with your fact-free ad homs. Really, let it go and try acting like an adult. You'll feel better.

Feodor said...
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Feodor said...
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4simpsons said...

Really, buddy, give it up. This is my last response to you then I'll go back to ignoring you. I posted a few Bible verses, and you have to come along and give a superfluous insult that had no bearing to anything I wrote. It was a complete non sequitor.

It is obvious that you are obsessed with me and aren't trying to have a conversation at all. I point out how ridiculous your comment was, then you come back with more nonsense about me being "bested." Sure.

Now do us both a favor and just obsess from afar. You can keep posting insults if you like, but you'll look more and more ridiculous to normal people when you're just talking to yourself.

Feodor said...
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Marshall Art said...

Neil,

You have been bested. As I understand it, Feodor's is a serious spiritual mind capable of discerning that which is not revealed to us in Scripture. I've just finished responding to comments of his in a post below and am waiting with great anticipation for enlightenment.

As to HOW you've been bested I can't rightly say, because I am only capable of reading Scripture like a fourth grader, you know, not having a serious spiritual mind like Feodor's. We are blessed by his presence it would appear. I can't wait for him to tick off early church doctrines so he can demonstrate how his serious spiritual mind has discerned a more up to date understanding straight from on high. Let's watch!

Feodor said...
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Marshall Art said...

ER,

"Give me a list of doctrines to which you think I must adhere. I don't have one, and neither does the church I'm a part of, save this: Jesus is Lord."

Shame, shame! And you a deacon! Perhaps you've given some guidance of any kind to a child? What is that? From the "un-doctrine"? You express some kind of doctrinal belief every time you say you don't feel it's your place to preach. Hey! Don't you as a deacon ever read from Scripture in front of the congregation? Don't you ever discuss ANYTHING scripturally with anyone in your congregation? What the hell do you and yours do during service? Discuss college football? Does everyone show up, the preacher appears and says "Jesus is Lord!" and then everyone goes downstairs for coffee and cake? I guarantee you that even YOUR UCC church has a doctrine a bit more detailed than "Jesus is Lord". The denomination sure does.

Doctrine is something that is taught, a principle or set of principles from a set of beliefs.

I declare, ER, you are a most evasive cuss. Of what are you so afraid?

Feodor said...
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Erudite Redneck said...

Re, "Doctrine is something that is taught, a principle or set of principles from a set of beliefs."

For Christ's sake, can neither you nor Neil NAME any of the doctrines you're denfending, and that you say I should adhere to?

Name them!

Marshall Art said...

ER,

We have. Repeatedly over the time we've debated with each other. Let's start with Levitical laws for behavior and why some still apply and others don't. Refer to my first post ever for info regarding why I feel as I do.

Feodor said...
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Erudite Redneck said...

Not even close.

I'd LOL if this weren't so pathetic.

Jesus is Lord, MA. That *is* the only doctrine. And the fact is, that truly *is* about the only thing the people who make up the church I'm part of can agree on.

Every. Thing. Else. Is. Debatable.

All of it.

So, yeah. When it comes my time to stand and address my brothers and sisters as lay worship leader, I'll tell them how grateful I am that they allow me to stumble along with them on this journey, letting them hold me up when I fall, helping hold others up when they fall, wallowing in GRACE all the way -- trying and failing and trying and failing, within the context of our faith in him, to ACT LIKE Jesus, caring not much more than a whit about the damned details -- because those devilish details are just that: Damnable.

Amen, and amen! And if you can't come up with a list of specific doctrines to which you think I must adhere -- thanks be to God! There is hope for you yet.

Dude. We all, all of us who DARE name the name of Christ, are just part of the crowd following in His wake, part of the great timeless cloud of witnesses, the fools for Christ who look the world in the eye and, if we're fricking honest, admit that we don't KNOW anything.

But we trust the ineffable Ground of All Being anyway because Jesus died. And. We. Can't. Help. It.

Jesus saves! Not our fricking adherence to any alleged facts about that. The "strength" of our faith has jack to do with it.

Jesus saves. Not the Bible. Not the Church. Not any dantged list of beliefs or doctrinal statements!

Jesus saves. Shut the hell up. Get the hell out of His way. And. Let. Him.

Erudite Redneck said...

"because Jesus died" should be "because Jesus did" -- but it works either way.

Marshall Art said...

ER,

You're boring me. You speak many words but say nothing. You are cowardly stepping aside rather than stepping up. "Jesus is Lord"? Really? What does that mean? How does one live that? To what do you ascribe that shows you even believe it? Living as He taught? How do do that when you don't even put stock into the only source that contains His words?

Even if you were to abide "Obey my Father's commandments and love thy neighbor as theyself", how do you manifest this teaching? After all this time, the best I can tell is that you do whatever the hell you want somehow assured that you are totally covered by some etheral "Grace" that you don't even have the courage to try to explain. You ask for doctrine. I hand you another Bible. What more do you need?

Somewhere in your evasiveness there is surely something that resembles a doctrine more detailed than "Jesus is Lord". I know you find hateful violence to be wrong, if not sinful, but based on what little you've ever said, there seems to be no reason to believe that it IS wrong. You speak of parts of the Bible not being relevant to today (I think---it's so hard to tell with you), of it only being a representation of the notions of an ancient people, and after such goofiness you somehow arrive at Jesus being the fulfillment of the law and...then what? I'm not trying to be a prick, but frankly, it seems you pretty much stand for nothing and hide behind "Jesus is Lord" as if to suggest that folks like myself have the problem for not getting just what the hell that's supposed to mean. Well, as you express it, it means absolutely nothing.

I cannot be more sincere when I say that I insist it is not my intention to offend. I could not be more sincere in my desire to understand just where the hell ER is coming from. Seems to me, you have absolutely no idea.

And of course what I presented in my first post is doctrine! Not the complete doctrine, but as related to the issue being discussed indeed it is. You and Feodor simply don't like it, so you pretend it isn't. Hell, even if it was totally wrong, which it isn't, it would still be dogmatic, only false. But of course, it's spot on correct. It totally explains the issue in a logical manner.

Marty said...

When Christians Get It Wrong

Feodor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marshall Art said...

Marty,

What was your point for posting a video lasting well over 30 minutes? To say that somehow I am wrong in pointing out the heresies of the UCC? For all the preacher's words, none of it says I am wrong in doing so. For all his decisions about finding something that helps him with his own questions about the faith, there's nothing that means he's right about it. To put it bluntly, it is entirely possible that if you don't get it right, that if some people never here of Christ, that despite a billion possible reasons why some might not get adequately educated, that all those people may lose out on salvation. People have a hard time reconciling such things and, like the children in the video lament, 'what's fair and kind and compassionate about that?' Well, if you insist on holding God to human standards, nothing at all. But God isn't human, is He? Therefor where does anyone get off judging Him by human standards of fairness and justice? Really, for all we know, the whole thing is just a sham, an amusement and He has no intention whatsoever of spending eternity with a single one of us. He's God, for pete's sake, and He can do what He pleases. We are His creation and we're to do things on His terms, not our own. I see nothing that suggests that otherwise and if one decides on a course of living that cannot be easily justified by Biblical teaching, to proceed with that course is to deny God in favor of one's self and that is totally and comletely contrary to basic Biblical teaching.

I went as far as about 32 minutes into that video. There remained perhaps as much as 15 minutes. Perhaps you'd be so kind as to tell me if he described how or if he responded to the concerns of those kids in a manner that brought them to Christ. None of those questions are show-stoppers and if those kids were not described in the end as having come to Christ, then I don't see the point of having them in the vid. The fact is that many kids use those questions to justify their own unwillingness to even learn about, much less give their old selves for Christ.

Marshall Art said...

Feodor,

Here's what you need to learn about the early church: What they believed and undestood is found in the NT writings, most of which were written within one generation of Christ's D&R, and the Paulian writings within a couple of years. The writings not included were those that were written much later, those that added nothing that wasn't already covered, those that were obviously crap. That's the reader's digest version. All understanding is based on what WAS included, not on anything that wasn't. To call upon Jesus, to accept Him as Lord and Savior, requires doing so on His terms. His terms include obeying the commandments of the Father. I never speak of perfection. I never insist that backsliding condemns automatically. I refer only to conscious rebellion and the rejection of Biblical teachings that cramp one's style. And more than anything else, I reject the anything goes and I'm still OK because of Grace line that is no more than pretense because it is a corruption and it corrupts.

It's certainly up to God to decide who is and isn't saved. That is never at issue. But don't try to run the crap that one can do anything and still be saved just for giving lip service. That, too, is unBiblical. "Not all who say 'Lord, Lord'..."

Erudite Redneck said...

No offense taken, MA.

The one thing that you always seem to come back to in describing a healthy relationship with God is ...

Works.

Good luck with that. I'll take Grace.

Feodor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erudite Redneck said...

MA, I assumed that anyone more than casually involved with Christian faith would realize how full and rich the profession "Jesus is Lord" is.

I'll unpack it a tad.

Jesus -- what he said, what he is said to have said, what he did as well as what he is said to have done -- Jesus is the connecting link between humanity and God.

Resting in that, trying to let all that Jesus said, whatever he said or didn't say exactly, and is, whatever he *is* exactly, permeate one's life, one's thoughts and actions -- that's saving faith.

That's being a Christian.

But how it transpires -- pick your concept of atonement -- is wonderful to ponder. Working through the false dichotomy of "faith versus works" is, I think, what it means to work out one's salvation, I think. Anguishing over whether it's the giving of the gift or the receiving of it that "kicks it in" is part of the lifetime of maturing in one's faith life. But I don't think there are any firm answers to any of that. All we can do is fall back on Jesus.

Being in the crowd of those trying to follow Jesus -- because they trust that Jesus is, or has, or points to, the Way to God -- that's enough.

Feodor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marshall Art said...

Feodor,

I get the fact that you have trouble understanding simple Scripture without resorting to the words of mortal men. When you get to the part that can explain how conscious heresy isn't a problem with one's salvation, let me know. I'm sure it'll be riveting.

Marshall Art said...

ER,

Can you think of any "works" that will inhibit one's ability to be saved? Anything at all?

Marty said...

"What was your point for posting a video lasting well over 30 minutes? To say that somehow I am wrong in pointing out the heresies of the UCC?"

It seemed appropriate to what is going on here....for all of us. Perhaps I am the only one who sees it. Oh well.

Feodor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erudite Redneck said...

I'm absolutely convinced that nothing -- nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable —- absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.


I agree with Paul, in other words, on this point, speaking, as he was, of the big picture. The first graph up there is Romans 8: 38-39 as put in The Message. Those verses in the KJV were the very first verses I put to heart as an 8-year-old who'd just walked the aisle in a Southern Baptist church lo, these 36 years ago:

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Marshall Art said...

Marty,

I won't disagree. We are displaying possibly each of the points of which the preacher spoke. However, I see no problem with Christians debating interpretations, particularly when some can be so far off that the result resembles worshipping an entirely different god. There is the possibility of scaring off the visitor who thinks we're all nuts. But that's easily resolved if they take the time to enter into the discussion and ask questions. If they don't, that's something for which they might regret. Maybe not. But the problem with people thinking we're nuts, is the implication that somehow to be a Christian means we immediately rise to perfection, never displaying any of the flaws of mortal man. I no longer worry of such things. People think what they want to think. If they truly wonder, they must ask and learn.

Marshall Art said...

"You're so dazzled every time when I write,.."

Don't flatter yourself. The fact is that I'm quite bored with your weak attempts to impress with what you seem to think is a show of intellectualism. But hey, I don't blame ya. We all want to appear clever. You just try too hard.

Marshall Art said...

ER,

We've dealt with these verses before. But they are not permission to do anything at all. Verse 28 says seems to have the caveat that Paul is speaking of those who love God. In other words, if we love God, nothing can separate us.

But how do we love God? By merely paying lip service? "I love you, God!" but then, "Get off my lawn, you punks!" Jesus tells us we must obey His commandments. Where are they found but in the OT into which you don't always put a lot of stock? You leave these gaping holes, afraid to fill them with anything for reasons I don't understand. You are far more in danger of leading another astray by your silence as they make assumptions incorrectly. I know you don't think it matters if they say, "Jesus is Lord", but what the hell does that mean to the uninitiated?

So I'll ask you again, what work or action do YOU think might prevent one from being saved? Based on what you've not said over all the time we've conversed, there has not been one vile scumbag who ever lived that should fear damnation. We know God loves all His children. Does that mean everyone gets to go, or perhaps "His children" refers to only those who love Him on His terms.

Erudite Redneck said...

Re, "what work or action do YOU think might prevent one from being saved?"

A Christian? None! Is that clear enough?

The unsaved are ... unsaved.

The saved are saved.

Marshall Art said...

ER,

Not clear in the least. What's the difference between saved and unsaved? How do you define these terms?

Erudite Redneck said...

Are you serious?


Trust in Christ = saved.

Trust in anything else -- unsaved.

Not give a damn at all -- unsaved.


I couldn't make it any simpler. And, I promise: If you, or anyone else, tried to make it any more complicated than that, well, I'd tell 'em they'd missed the entire point of the Gospel.

Marshall Art said...

ER,

Totally serious. What constitutes "trust in Christ"? How does this manifest in one's life?

Erudite Redneck said...

Oh, well, it's this -- and after this I give up.

Standing across the room, I can look at the recliner I am now at this moment sitting in, and I can declare "I believe that chair exists."

I believe that is what you are doing with Christ. You've read about Him. You're a church goer, even a leader. And you know, or believe, Christ exists. And your notion of faith is 1., that intellectual assent, plus, 2., all the other doctrines, and actions, and nonactions, that you believe make up what it means to be Christian.


I'm sitting in the chair.

I don't know how, and I don't much care how, the chair is holding me up. I'm just totally at rest in it.

Same with Christ.

I'm totally resting in Christ.

Totally serious.