Another exercise in completely missing the point.

July 30, 2011

Carmen Fowler LaBerge is the president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee.  PLC was, at one time, a rather conservative voice, analyst, and commentator on the sidelines of the Presbyterian Church USA.  Through their publication The Layman, they could be depended upon to cry foul when funny business reared it ugly head within the church. That was then, this is now.  Their conservatism seems to have gone the way of the PCUSA at large, even though they still cry foul from the sidelines. Sort of a toothless tiger I suppose you might say. And at least mildly hypocritical.

In the July 2011 issue of The Layman, Mrs. LaBerge writes an article indicating that she is setting aside her ordination in the PCUSA.  She does so because she finds herself at odds with the recent decision by the PCUSA, democratically arrived at, to allow for the ordination of practicing, unrepentant homosexuals to the office of elder. As the title of her article indicates, it is “an act of conscience.”  The entire article can be read HERE.   In the article she says:

I know not what else to do but to set aside my ordination until my denomination repents of its corporate sin and returns to a shared standard of ordination aligned with the Scriptures. (emphasis, mine)

Sounds good. Right?

Wrong.  The first question to ask is not how the PCUSA got to the point of deciding it can/should ordain practicing unrepentant homosexuals, although it is an important question.  But instead, how is it that Carmen Fowler LaBerge has an ordination to be set aside?  Particularly in light of the fact that she seems to be quite set upon insisting that her denomination use “standards of ordination that are aligned with the Scriptures.”  While I acknowledge that a number of denominations do ordain women, I would be thrilled to be directed to the verses in scripture, properly exegeted, and in their proper context that provide for such ordination.  1 Timothy 2 and 3 and Titus 1 clearly teach that women should not be ordained, so I look forward to hearing about those references that undo these clear teachings.

I’m waiting.

Uhhhh.  Still waiting.

Several years ago, Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary wrote an article that contained great wisdom on this subject.  In that article he said:

The feminization of the ministry is one of the most significant trends of this generation. Acceptance of women in the pastoral role reverses centuries of Christian conviction and practice. It also leads to a redefinition of the church and its ministry. Once women begin to fill and represent roles of pastoral leadership men withdraw. This is true, not only in the pulpit, but in the pews. The evacuation of male worshippers from liberal churches is a noticeable phenomenon.

Furthermore, the issues of women’s ordination and the normalization of homosexuality are closely linked. It is no accident that those churches that most eagerly embraced the ordination of women now either embrace the ordination of homosexuals or are seriously considering such a move.

The reason for this is quite simple. The interpretive games one must play in order to get around the Bible’s proscription of women in congregational preaching and teaching roles are precisely the games one must play in order to get around the Bible’s clear condemnation of homosexuality. (emphasis, mine)

We all have our blind spots.  I am certain that I have many. And would not presume that Carmen Fowler LaBerge’s are any more grievous than mine.  Clearly the matter of ordination standards needing to be in alignment with scripture, is a blind spot for her. While she is entitled to set aside her ordination for this or any other cause, I have to laugh that she does so as a matter of conscience, because the Scriptures were not used as the source of authority for ordaining homosexuals. Mrs. LaBerge, I have news for you, since you seem to have missed the point back in 1993 and ever since, they were not used as the source of authority for your’s either.

Oh.  BTW, I’m still waiting.

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Random Stuff 7.21.2011

July 21, 2011
  1. Representative Alan West clearly should have chosen a better way of delivering his message to Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  One that did not have the paper (or electronic) trail would have been a good idea.  But what he said was his opinion, and I suspect that he is not alone in it. He just had the courage to say it, as opposed to all the nonsense you hear up there customarily…”the gentlewoman from…”, “the honorable …”.
  2. I can’t help but think that the professional politicians in Washington are scamming the citizens of our country with their “negotiating’ on this deficit, debt ceiling, blah blah blah stuff.  Could they really be surprised that polls consistently reveal that they are not trusted?
  3. I live in a part of the country where it is naturally expected to be hot in the summer.  I “get” hot weather.  I feel sorry for the parts of the country that are suffering with record-breaking heat right now.  I wonder if those folks return the sentiment when we experience record-breaking cold or snowfall down here in the southern tier of states?
  4. Let me say that I am opposed to “Obamacare.”  That said, the direct and associated costs for a relatively simply arthroscopic knee surgery are staggering.  The costs associated with the care of my premature, but otherwise completely healthy grandson were staggering.  While there are many industries that need to be reformed by way of a truly free market, I can think of none that need it more than the health care industry and all of its hangers-on, like the insurance industry (health and liability) and the parasite lawyers who swirl around it.  While I shudder at what Obama’s socialized medicine will do to health care in the U.S., another side of me says the folks that are in and around the industry, deserve it.  As an industry the players seem to have been inattentive to the Hippocratic oath to “do no harm.”
  5. Hard to believe that we have effectively seen the end of the manned space program for the greatest country in the world. Our arch-enemies are now the only players and if we want to go back to space anytime soon, we have to pay to hitch a ride.

Affection for the doctrine of Hell

July 12, 2011

That is an attention grabbing headline, no? 

There has been a lot of discussion over the last  3 or 4 months ( I lose track of exactly when it started) on the subject of Hell.  Live Wins, the controversial book authored by Rob Bell, has probably served to elevate the subject more than any other single source.  The essential premise of Bell’s book is that ultimately God’s love wins and Bell offers the (distinct) possibility that all people, irrespective of their mortal relationship with Jesus Christ, will eventually be welcomed into heaven to spend eternity in the presence of God.  The obvious implication is an empty Hell.

You do not have to look very far to find theologians and pastors who oppose Bell’s theology on this subject. While neither a theologian or pastor, I count myself in their company.  A few of these use one breath to affirm the doctrine of Hell and in the next breath make some sort of qualifying statement that says while they believe in Hell, the don’t like the fact that it exists and wish that it did not have to.  Perhaps to be thought of as a kinder/gentler proponent of judgment for the unrighteous in their eternity.  I suppose that many if not most of these utterances are coming from a sincere heart.  But I suspect that these statements are sometimes offered as a means by which to NOT appear to be cold-hearted or cruel, which might be the conclusion if an emphatic affirmation of both Hell’s existence and its purpose for the punishment of the wicked and glorification of God were offered instead.

Kevin DeYoung has a brilliant article on this subject.  It is well worth the read, not just as it relates to the subject of Hell, but really anything contained in scripture that is initially uncomfortable for us.