Mary Naegeli has written another great essay on the question of “Diversity.” What kind of diversity is healthy for a church (or denomination), and what kind of diversity can be destructive. It’s a great and thoughtful piece.
Many would have you believe that one’s sexual orientation is established at birth, and cannot be changed. In fact, you’ve probably heard, any attempt to redirect a person’s sexual orientation is cruel. Science, they say, proves that homosexuality is healthy and normal.
On the other hand, you’ve probably also heard some say that homosexuality is a choice, and that anyone can change their sexual orientation if they try hard enough.
This article takes a look at decades of scientific and social research and clarifies what we know, and don’t know, about sexual orientation. It’s quite detailed, but well worth reading.
Today we held the first of four congregational forums to learn about some of the key areas of controversy in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Today’s forum was on the Inspiration and Authority of Scripture. Future forums will focus on the Trinity, Church discipline, and current events.
You can download PDF files of the slides and handouts from the presentation here.
You can listen to or download an audio recording of the forum at http://dunellenpres.org/media.php?pageID=49
It is our hope that these forums will help all of us to gain a clearer understanding of what we believe, and what it means for our church’s future.
This post doesn’t relate directly to the Presbyterian Church (USA), but it does illustrate what a perilous road we are traveling here in New Jersey. The PC(USA) has removed all statements describing homosexual practice as inherently sinful from its teachings. One might presume that this would put a congregation in the PC(USA) in even shakier ground if faced with a similar request.
Our congregation has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with the New Wineskins Association of Churches, even though we have followed different paths in our relationship with the PC(USA). Today the NWAC announced that they believe that their ministry is complete, and we are posting their letter for you to read. Continue Reading…
This is what I see happening in the Presbyterian Church (USA) today:
These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel! (Isaiah 30:9-11)
This is what I fear will be the result:
Therefore, this is what the Holy One of Israel says: “Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern. (Isaiah 30:12-14)
God offers away out:
15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. (Isaiah 30:15)
And makes this promise:
The Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. (Isaiah 30:18-19)
Grace is the answer. But grace requires repentance. and at the moment, I don’t see any movement toward repentance in the PC(USA). I hear call after call for unity, but purity, particularly sexual purity, seems to be treated as an fairly insignificant part of the equation. No wonder we are loosing hundreds and hundreds of congregations every year.
In the meantime, this is a great time for those of us who identify ourselves as evangelical Christians to examine our own hearts, our own lives, and our own congregations. Where are we continuing in idolatry? Where are we stifling God’s voice? It’s easy to point the finger outward, but before we do that, we need to look in the mirror.
Is our conflict with the PC(USA) really just about sex? Or, is the way that the PC(USA) has changed it’s teaching about sex simply evidence of a far greater divide regarding the nature of the Bible?
The November/December issue of “Theology Matters” tackles these questions from two directions – first an examination of “The Priority of Authority: Holy Scripture and Human Sexuality” by Robert P. Mills. Then, in the same issue, Tom Hobson explores whether there really is a consistent Biblical Ethic of human sexuality.
Below you will find a synopsis of both articles, with links to the full text of the articles themselves. Mills’ writing about Biblical authority is fairly detailed, and you may just want to read the summary. Hobson’s writing on a consistent Biblical ethic is fairly accessible, even to those with no theological training, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to go deeper.
As I’ve affirmed before, Mary Naegeli is one of the most thoughtful and practical theologians speaking to the church (and particularly to the Presbyterian Church) today. Here are some of her thoughts on the same “open letter” from Joe Small that is discussed in an earlier blog entry.