Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Winos Are Too Holy for PCUSA

The Layman is gushing over the latest tent meeting of the New Wineskins Convocation. The New Winos are a clergy-led group of fundamentalists who can't possibly be in the same denomination as THE GAY. The Layman reported on this speech from Noel Anderson of Bakersfield, CA. He had a list of things that are wrong with the PCUSA including "bad theology."

Under the heading of bad theology, he said the PCUSA is suffering from theological amnesia, where the "progressives push for a God of no boundaries. This is decapitated Christology, a theology that has caved in to a culture of hopeless relativisms."

With this theology, Anderson said, the claims of truth "have been reduced to mere opinions and morality adds up to no more than your particular set of personal preferences. Many Presbyterians really believe that God says nothing other than what we put in His mouth."

Within this heading, he said, was tolerance, which many people "believe to be a kind of solution, but has rather become a symptom and a chief irritant of the cultural crisis." (Read More)
Now that is one big pile of bullshit. But you have to say something to justify wanting to become your own pope of a new church organization.

What is this organization exactly? I am not really sure. The Winos seem to be members of both the PCUSA and one its many breakoffs, the EPC (which is fundy but not quite as fundy as other Presbyterian groups like the PCA, the OPC, the ARPC, the RPCNA, or the URCNA). Like the Winos, all of these are too holy for the PCUSA (and often too holy for each other).

Are they really leaving? Who knows. Some have. Others might. My guess is that the vast majority will continue to hang around and try to push their holiness onto the rest of us and then whine and complain and stomp their feet when the rest of us really don't want what they are pushing.

83 comments:

  1. Odd that Anderson would use as one of his condemnations his disgust of the idea of "a God with no boundaries". Isn't the central tenet of Calvinism the Sovereignty of God?

    Again, I find it hilarious that after years of pressing for schism, Presbyterians For Renewal (which once got a standing ovation for the PowerPoint slide that said "EXIT" in a discussion of future options for conservatives in the PC(USA), then tried to explain that it was actually a slide instructing the audience to leave) has now made a hard 180 and is flooding its website with reasons to stay in the PC(USA) now that the Winos have gotten some traction.

    The psychological projection of these guys is almost too much to bear.

    Covenant Network is having its annual conference this week in Atlanta. I invite you to compare and contrast the rhetoric coming out of the New Wineskins and Covenant conferences. Who is seeking to keep the church whole and who is trying to break the body of Christ apart once again?

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  2. It will be interesting to see what the New Wineskins do once they have actually left, and no longer have the identity of "we're the ones who complain about everything that's wrong with our denomination."

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  3. All this about gays?
    LOL, how futile.

    The narrow vision of people like this Noel Anderson is almost comical.
    I'd like to know where this guy stands on illegal war and withholding healing from America's children.

    I sure wish one of these snake handlers would show me where Jesus condemns gays in the Bible. I still have yet to find it in 30+ years of regular readings.
    He condemned Adulterers (in general) as I recall, but never gays.

    The Jews denounced gays while trying to build a nation and an army in the desert. Kinda hard to do without procreation I'll admit.
    The "saints" (no, not the football team) denounced them while trying to build and multiply a church I think. Also hard to do without making babies.

    Funny, Jesus never said a word about them. Perhaps there were more important things on Jesus' mind at the time. Like defeating the self-serving, excessively pious, exclusivist hypocrites.

    It seems the Winos are willing to follow everyone that came before Jesus and everyone that came after. But they seem to shy away from the lessons that Jesus actually taught.

    That would make them either Jews, or worshipers of men.

    "Decapitated Christology" indeed.

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  4. First, flycandler, I suspect that Noel said something with which you would agree: that there is actual content to the Christian faith. If I understand him correctly he suggests that some have so emptied the faith of any belief statements that there are no boundaries that suggest that this is Christian and that is not. An example might be, Jesus is God. To a Muslim or a Jew this would be heresy. To a Christian, carefully defined, this is an important part of the faith. A negative example might be that Mohammed is no a true prophet. To put it differently, Noel Anderson suggests that the word "Christian" has some specific meaning.

    John, I find this blog to be unkind. I have not attended a New Wineskins conference but sympathize with some of their concerns and ideals. While I disagree with those leaving the PCUSA I guess you should class me with those who want to change the denomination. I have done so at times by political action: seeking to change the denomination by proposing and supporting particular policies. As you may have noted here I usually try to bring about change through listening and gentle persuasion.

    John this article is beneath you. You are a better man than this.

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  5. Yes, Bob. There is "content" to the Christian faith. Two kinds of content to be specific...

    1) The content manufactured by the Catholic Church that for some unknown reason the Presbyterian Church continues to propagate. You know, lies like virgin births and physically descending into Hell and ascending to Heaven.

    2) The content of peace, love and unlimited, unconditional salvation for all mankind.
    Which these seem to have abandoned long ago.

    It's sad to see these people too caught up in their own egos and sanctimonious maleficence to see the message Jesus brought forth.

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  6. Thanks all.

    Well, Bob, very little is beneath me. I am really tired of these guys trashing our denomination at every point. If they must leave, then leave.

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  7. Bob,

    One more thing. I think it is great that you advocate for change. I do, too. We have the best process available to enact change. Whether or not people agree or disagree with the Theological Task Force report or whatever, it was passed by a representative body. It is very different to work for change and go with the process even when your vote is not in the majority from not getting your way and then trashing the place on your way out.

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  8. John

    First, please note that Noel Anderson is not leaving. And let's face it we both get upset with the denomination sometimes. Sometimes we even get upset about the same issues. All I'm asking for is politeness.

    tn420

    It probably will not surprise you that I disagree with your response. I would, however, point out that there are a lot of different trajectories that call are called Christian. I might say that some are Christian and some are not. Some people say I'm not a Christian. All this is to say that you list of two possibilities is entirely too small. I think we need a 3D model with various different axes for different theological and ethical issues. Life ain't simple.

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  9. I appreciate your views, Bob.

    He's a "Christian", he's not, she is, she's not....

    It's really quite simple. There are dramatic differences between the Old Testament, the post-Jesus text, and what was said and done while Jesus lived.

    The Old Testament is a history lesson. The words of the apostles testimony, made by men with all their human shortcomings intact.

    Jesus said love, or suffer spiritual death. He set no conditions. As long as my brethren seek to divide the church, abandon protestant views for Catholicism, and condemn the secular world that we've been charged by Jesus to save, I will be here making sure they know what they've done.

    Am I a "Christian"? I do tend to ignore the OT and pay little attention to the "Saints" (no, not the football team). Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is where the truth is.
    Perhaps Jesusite would better apply. Jesusonian? hmmm
    I guess I'll just have to leave it up to the Teacher.
    I do know this much, I'm spiritually comfortable with my criticism of the excessively pious element in the church. And equally comfortable with their's for me.

    Peace of mind is better than nothing. :)

    Regards

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  10. Bob states:

    "Jesus is God. To a Muslim or a Jew this would be heresy. To a Christian, carefully defined, this is an important part of the faith. A negative example might be that Mohammed is not a true prophet."

    Bob, are you claiming that it is a negative article of your faith that "Muhammad is not a true prophet?"

    Frankly, I find it a bit inconsistent (note the choice of the polite word) to claim "All I'm asking for is politeness," yet it seems an article of one's belief is nothing less than an insult to anothers faith tradition. I hope I have misunderstood you Bob.

    Could you quote the scripture just so I can be sure to know which one you are using where Jesus claims to be God, by which I assume you mean the God the Father?

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  11. Atheists and people of other religions are amused by how far Christians go to trash each other...even to the point of profanity.

    I found it odd that this statement The New Winos are a clergy-led group of fundamentalists who can't possibly be in the same denomination as THE GAY. was followed by Anderson's speech which did not mention THE GAY. Was htere some gay-bashing that I missed?

    Also, is this speech "conservative"? If so, why? I agree that "conservative" is not Christian. Where is this speech conservative and NOT Christian?

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  12. tn20

    Actually when I wrote I was thinking of Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc., who have no problem telling me I'm going to hell. I'm suggesting is the various individuals and groups who make definitions and boundaries, as do all, including you according to your last post, cannot be divided as carefully as we often choose to do so. I know people who could not be Presbyterian because they believe in believers baptism only, (and only total immersion counts as baptism for them) who accept me and I accept them both as friends and as Christians. I also have friends and relatives who are clearly not Christians - my sister is an atheist - that I love very much. Like I said, life isn't simple. Oh, and before you ask, I would say that Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses are not Christians, which upsets people from both groups to no end. Doesn't mean I don't get along quite well with Mormons and some Jehovah's Witnesses. We disagree. We don't hate each other.

    Rob

    I knew calling Jesus God and leaving it at that would get me in trouble! Hey, I'm a trinitarian, okay? Does Jesus say he's God? Depends on how you interpret certain passages that the gospel writers say Jesus said. "Before Abraham was I Am." "I and the Father are one." Of course these are both from John which makes it more unlikely that scholars would believe Jesus said it. But I would not divide the Bible into what Jesus said and what the others said. I think the whole Bible has authority.

    As to saying Mohammed is not a prophet, I believe that is a fundamental difference between Christians and Muslims. Would it be impolite of a Muslim to say he could not be a Christian because Christians, from his perspective are not really monotheists because we seem to believe in three gods? Polite disagreement is how dialogue begins. It isn't impolite to say I disagree with you.

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  13. Bob,

    Thanks for the biblical refereces regarding Jesus. I will address them later.

    For now, I cannot help but notice that you provided no biblical basis for your claim that "Muhammad is not a prophet of God." Could you provide scripture that supports this claim?

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  14. rob

    Didn't know you wanted a Scriptural reference! How about Paul in Galatians 1: "3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

    6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—7not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! 9As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!"

    I don't believe Mohammed wrote that one receives forgiveness because Jesus gave himself for our sins. And, well let me ask you: am I more polite than Paul?

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  15. Rob For now, I cannot help but notice that you provided no biblical basis for your claim that "Muhammad is not a prophet of God." Could you provide scripture that supports this claim?

    I do believe the polite pastor was presuming a modest level of Bible knowledge permeated this blog. :-)

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  16. So Bob, is that the best you can do, is recite the words of Paul, and not Jesus?

    You mean to tell me you no words from Jesus that support this claim?

    As for Jim Jordan, I would remind you that polite ad hominem is still ad hominem, and even theological arrogance and bigotry can be wrapped in nice polite words.

    It seems you are a bit like the one's who in the days of Jesus searched the scriptures because in them you think you have eternal life, while they failed to pay attention to the weightier matters.

    Thank you Bob, I will reply later.

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  17. Rob says**Could you provide scripture that supports this claim?

    Rob says again**It seems you are a bit like the one's who in the days of Jesus searched the scriptures because in them you think you have eternal life, while they failed to pay attention to the weightier matters.

    Why ask for scriptural proof and then say "Oh, all you do is look at the scriptures"?

    That the Bible clearly states Mohammed was not a prophet of God is beyond the realm of debate. No, he was not a prophet of God per the Scriptures. [see links below]

    It seems to me that you are equating the existence of Islam as a major religion with legitimacy. Whereas God is sovereign and surely Islam exists for a reason in His plan, that does not mean that God must be speaking specifically through Mohammed.

    Here are my Biblegateway search results for "Jesus is proved to be the Messiah" here. Mohammed denies this. To see what he says about Jesus (Isa), click here.

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  18. It seems Bob you are back to the “original sin/fall/atonement” doctrine of Paul. You, like many Christian’s claim that the gospel of Jesus is that Jesus in his death on the cross “gave himself for our sins” as a substitute for the “original sin” of Adam and which you have stated in hereditary. This indeed is what Paul and the early church taught, but it is well known now through solid biblical criticism that this was not Jesus’ own “original message.” Jesus taught the Kingdom of heaven, the reign of God’s rule in the hearts of faith born children of God.

    I appreciated how difficult it is for those who submit their minds to the religion of authority exemplified in your statement “I think the whole Bible has authority.” Yet, clearly as was discussed in another thread (Bob on Sin) the entire “original sin/fall/atonement” doctrine is rooted in the first century thought of Paul and evolving Jewish beliefs about the sin, the fall, and how Jesus fits into the existing wineskin of Jewish beliefs, which gave birth to the entire First Adam/Second mythology which Paul overlaid upon Jesus original message and teachings, replacing the real gospel of Jesus as he lived and taught it in his day and age with his words and deeds. You state the dilemma in the following:

    “If the theory of evolution is a correct evaluation of the evidence ... what are we to say about sin and death? Clearly Paul’s statement that sin and death came into the world through one man is contradicted by the evidence pointing towards evolution…. [I]f you take away the doctrine of original sin the whole Biblical narrative of creation, fall, and redemption fall apart. How can one man/God die for the sins of the world if we cannot say that human sin is collective and not just individual?” (Pastor Bob)

    The evolution of life from a single cell to human beings by common descent is a fact; the truth of evolution is that it is progressive, and the means by which the Creator chooses to create finite evolutionary children. And this fact and truth refute the first century theology and beliefs about Jesus’ relationship to then existing theology as espoused by Paul and quoted by Bob above as the grounds upon which to a priori assert that Muhammad is not a prophet of God (I note Bob, you do this without even so much as attempting to define what a prophet is) and is according to the words of Paul “accursed.” I suspect you would then logically extend this reasoning to all Muslims too.

    The entire foundation of the “original sin/fall/atonement” doctrine of Paul is undermined and refuted by the fact and truth of organic evolution. Yet, the only resort for those who surrender their God given intellect to the religion of authority is to dogmatically return to the “original sin/fall/atonement” doctrine of Paul rather than grapple with the truth as it so starkly faces them in the discoveries of science and the consequences such findings have for first century Pauline theology.

    I suppose that is why Bob that in the end you refused to respond to the question:

    “So, the question then becomes, if not the 'original sin/fall/atonement' doctrine, how then do we understand the meaning of Jesus’ life and teachings, and his death on the cross?”

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  20. rob

    I never liked red letter Bibles. First, for a rather nearsighted guy like me the red words are more difficult to read. Second, while Jesus is certainly the Word of God, Scripture is Scripture.

    However, you prefer a saying of Jesus? How will we determine that the saying really came from Jesus and not an editor? Should we accept the Jesus Seminar's evaluation of which passages are most likely to have been spoken by Jesus? Are we certain that their criteria are correct or not? Maybe we should prefer Bultmann? Or would you prefer someone else? Or should we just take the gospels as accurate? Should we prefer Mark? How about Q? Is John in the running or not?

    Anyway, here are some possibilities:

    Synoptics and possibly proto Mark: Mk 2:1-12, Mt 9:2-8, Luke 5:17-25
    Q: Mt 12:38-42, Lk 11:29-32
    John: 1:1-18 might do, although they aren't the words of Jesus. You might try John 5:19-29

    The synoptic passages refer to Jesus forgiving. I don't think that the Koran says Jesus has that power but I might be wrong. The Q passages make reference to Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection although indirectly. The Koran says Jesus was not crucified.

    John points to the divinity of Jesus.

    But please note and I recognize that some of you will disagree with me. I think all of Scripture has authority although that authority is mediated through the good news of Jesus. That, by the way, if a faith statement. Of course saying that the words of Jesus are more authoritative than the rest of Scripture is also a faith statement.

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  21. rob

    wow, we work doing all that work at the same time!

    I think I can see a significant difference between us. I see science as transient. I do think that Gould's theory of periodic evolution is the best explanation of the evidence we currently have at hand. I am always ready for new evidence. A possible example: that evolution did take place but began from a microscopic life form that traveled here through space. A highly less probable example: intelligent life forms from elsewhere, (certainly outside of our solar system) seeded the earth with humanoids several hundred thousand or million years ago. (Unlikely because of the high degree of shared chromosomes between humans and other life forms on earth but these might be really really intelligent life forms!) On the other hand I see the Word of God, meaning here the Scripture, as non transient.

    I think you see science more like a building than I do, although maybe that is a bad analogy. You describe evolution as fact. I find it to be the best explanation we have at the present time.

    If you mean that you haven't convinced me to abandon creation/fall/redemption as a worldview, you are correct.

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  22. Hi Bob,

    We may not be so different or far apart as you think ;-) I believe Jesus was the divine Son of God incarnate in flesh to reveal to you and I what the Father revealed to him before the world was ever created:

    “When all things began, the Word already was. The Word dwelt with God, and what God was, the Word was. The Word, then, was with God at the beginning, and through him all things came to be; no single thing was created without him. All that came to be was alive with his life, and that life was the light of men.... The real light which enlightens every man was even then coming into the world.

    “He was in the world, but the world, though it owed its being to him, did not recognize him. He entered his own realm, and his own would not receive him. But to all who did receive him, to those who have yielded him their allegiance, he gave the right to become children of God, not born of any human stock, ... but the offspring of God himself. So the Word became flesh; he came to dwell among us, and we saw his glory, such glory as befits the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.”

    You ask how do I know that is true. I would reply, because I have been born of the spirit, experienced the living “light which enlightens every man” that comes into the word, and in prayer and worship experienced the Person of Christ. How do I know whether to trust Q or Mark or the Jesus Seminar? By the honest desire to seek and follow truth to the best of my ability to seek and find it through the intelligent application of my mind through learning (knowledge) and soul through prayer and worship. I trust the living truth, and am willing to follow it wherever it leads, and I do this because Jesus has promised me his Spirit of Truth will lead me into all truth and to show me the difference between right and wrong. Now, if evolution is the way God made humans, then organic evolution is a fact and there is truth to be learned therein. I think the evidence is overwhelming that God did use evolution to create humans, and if I depart from this fact and truth which my mind sees clearly, then I am betraying my loyalty to truth by departing from fact. To deny realities and depart from facts to maintain one’s dogmatically accepted theological believes based upon blind intellectual assent to biblical authority is to betray living faith and to become an intellectual parrot of the teachings of our father’s fathers in my view, and fall into the trap of doing exactly what the Pharisees did in the days of Jesus.

    You are avoiding my question thought, I believe, that if evolution is a fact, and we did evolved from single celled organisms (which God created and bestowed life upon, a faith statement, as you like to say) then Paul’s theology of “original sin/fall/atonement” is based upon fiction, not fact and truth. As I said, your own words eloquently describe the dilemma:

    “If the theory of evolution is a correct evaluation of the evidence ... what are we to say about sin and death? Clearly Paul’s statement that sin and death came into the world through one man is contradicted by the evidence pointing towards evolution…. [I]f you take away the doctrine of original sin the whole Biblical narrative of creation, fall, and redemption fall apart. How can one man/God die for the sins of the world if we cannot say that human sin is collective and not just individual?” (Pastor Bob)

    The fact that science is “transient” has nothing to do with the issue; it is non-sequitur to argue that because scientific theories about the mechanism of biological evolution are “transient” we therefore cannot know that evolution in fact occurred; the overwhelming evidence from such diverse fields as geology, paleontology (fossil), anthropology, molecular biology, comparative genomics, and evolutionary developmental biology all only makes sense in light of the fact of evolution. But I note, and this is important, the same cannot be said for Neo-Darwinian theory.

    It is one thing to say by the laws of nuclear physics the earth is 4.5 billion years old and this is a fact and very much another to say and here is how it got from point A 4.5 billion years ago to today in detail. I cannot help but feel it is a simple rhetorical evasion of facts to on the one hand acknowledge evolution occurred but then retreat from the full implications of this fact in the truth that if God created us via evolution it does have theological consequences, one of which is the philosophical inadequacy of Paul’s theology in light of modern knowledge. I have already explained the difference between the “transient” theory of the mechanism of evolution as distinguished from the simple fact of organic evolution. You yourself openly acknowledge organic evolution (a fact that can be recognized without accepting Neo-Darwinian theory) and note some theories of mechanism are more reasonable sounding than others.

    Which leaves me with the question, why is it Bob that you can see the discrepancy between evolution and Paul’s “original sin/fall/atonement”, but appear to be dancing around the real issues, to be avoiding the real question, and unwilling to follow this truth – the fact of evolution – wherever it might lead? I guess partly from what appears to be a confusion of fact with theory, a differentiation that most scientists and philosophers clearly make, and I might add most theologians, but is a difficult one it seems for those who are committed to so-called “biblical authority.”

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  23. Hey, I'm a trinitarian, okay?

    Bob, I don't have a problem with the fact that you are a Trinitarian. You can be an Octatarian or a Milletarian for all I care. The problem I have is with you claiming that this belief is a central requirement of being a Christian. In fact, I just don't have a problem with it--I find it offensive. Be a Trinitarian if you will. I think God is broad enough to share a giant tent with both Trinitarians such as yourself and unitarians like me. But unfortunately, many Trinitarians like yourself seem unwilling to share that tent with people like me. It is this exclusivist, intolerant attitude that I find so frustrating, especially when my own extended tolerance is rebuffed in such a dogmatic way. It is a slap in the face, and an insult to others who are trying to make sense of God just as you are. But maybe you aren't trying to make sense of God because you already think you have all the answers.

    I would argue, by the way, that there are so many problems with this claim that you make about Christians necessarily being Trinitarians--philosophically and historically. I think it is wrong philosophically because, as I have argued before (and citing Wittgenstein ), this attempt at defining boundaries on who is and isn't a Christian is a linguistic dead end. I argued this in my own blog in much more detail, but hardly anyone reads my blog, so there you have it.

    I think it is wrong historically because, as you well know, Christians for the first three centuries of the faith were very divided on Jesus's nature, and there was a vast diversity of belief, with full blown Tritarianism only being established as a tenet of faith by those in power late in the fourth century (and they used their power to suppress those free thinkers who dared to think differently). To claim that you have to be a Trinitarian to be a Christian is to deny the Christianity of a vast number of Christians in the first three centuries of the history of the religion while it was in flux--before various strands of theology were snuffed out by force. This is either to deny that most of early Christianity was actually Christian--a logical absurdity--or else it is to project later theological developments onto earlier people of faith, which is simply being anachronistic.

    Does Jesus say he's God? Depends on how you interpret certain passages that the gospel writers say Jesus said. "Before Abraham was I Am." "I and the Father are one." Of course these are both from John which makes it more unlikely that scholars would believe Jesus said it. But I would not divide the Bible into what Jesus said and what the others said. I think the whole Bible has authority.

    Saying that the "whole" Bible has "authority" opens a can of worms, of course. You have to define "authority". If you are claiming that everything in the Bible is factually true--well, be my guest. But surely you don't seriously believe that Jesus actually said those things attributed to him in the Gospel of John. Those ethereal self-pronouncements attributed to Jesus reflect such an obviously different character than the Jesus of the synoptics--maybe that's why the other three Gospels are called "synoptics" in the first place, ya think?--that it is simply impossible for anyone be taken seriously if they claim that they reflect an accurate historical account of what Jesus said.

    The real problem that I have, though, is not the naivite of taking literally the ethereal self-pronouncements of Jesus in John's Gospel. I think that it is perfectly possible to find value in scriptures that are not literally true--and certainly the Bible is full of things that are not literally true or historically accurate. The problem I have is with exclusivism and intolerance. That is what I object to. Interpret John as you will. That's your right. You seem like a nice guy, but when you attack the legitimacy of other people's faith, this is anything but "nice". And yes, as you can tell, it does rankle when I hear things like this stated. You are not the boss of me and others, and you don't get to say who is and isn't a Christian. Maybe if you practiced a little more tolerance, you might learn to understand and value the faith of people who don't think like you do. Radical concept, I know, but it might be worth a try.

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  24. Mystical says Maybe if you practiced a little more tolerance, you might learn to understand and value the faith of people who don't think like you do.

    Do you understand and value Pastor Bob's faith? No. So what is your point?

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  26. Jim Jordan writes:

    "That the Bible clearly states Mohammed was not a prophet of God is beyond the realm of debate."

    Hum, kind of like saying "I have already made up my mind, don't confuse me with the facts!" ;-) Of course, one can always make fundamentalist claims on dogmatic grounds and refuse to look at historical facts, but this sounds more like blind bibliolatry born of fear rather than the love of truth and the courage to search for it and follow it wherever it might lead. The fact that Paul's words do not always necessarily reflect the teachings of Jesus is well attested to through scholarly research; I think mystical seeker sums up this situation rather accurately: "When dogma is more important than truth or scholarly accuracy, you know that something is seriously wrong with that kind of faith."

    Could you quote the bible Jim where it "clearly states Muhammad was not a prophet of God."

    We have already been blessed with a quote of Paul's atonement theology of divine child abuse (i.e., the "original sin/fall/atonement" doctrine) as a justification for his implied statement that because Muslims don't believe the same things about Jesus they are "accursed," so pray tell, what next scripture will you grace us with to justify religious bigotry based on nothing more than blind belief in the authority of narrow scriptural interpretation? I well imagine you have reached these great truths that are beyond debate without ever having read the Qur'an, met a Muslim, or learned to understand, love, and serve them.

    Jim Jordan writes:

    "It seems to me that you are equating the existence of Islam as a major religion with legitimacy. Whereas God is sovereign and surely Islam exists for a reason in His plan, that does not mean that God must be speaking specifically through Mohammed."

    Let us unpack this little piece of theological judgment of THE TRUTH, shall we. Here, Jim implies that Islam is not "legitimate," by which of course he means God does reveal his truth through Islam nor through the teachings of Muhammad and the Qur'an. Of course only one who is ignorant of what the Qur'an actually teaches makes such bigoted statements about another religion which he clearly knows little about. Kind of like the Jewish leaders response that "Nothing good can come out of Nazareth," before they had even given his teachings a fair and unbiased hearing, but judged them based on their own preconceived interpretations of what truth was based upon their narrow view of the authority of the bible and tradition.

    The many religions are all good to the extent that they bring man to God and bring the realization of the Father to man. It is a fallacy for any group of religionists to conceive of their creed as The Truth; such attitudes bespeak more of theological arrogance than of certainty of faith. There is not a religion that could not profitably study and assimilate the best of the truths contained in every other faith, for all contain truth. Religionists would do better to borrow the best in their neighbors' living spiritual faith rather than to denounce the worst in their lingering superstitions and outworn rituals."

    Jim Jordan writes:

    "Jesus is proved to be the Messiah. ... Mohammed denies this."

    You are clearly ignorant of Islam, for

    "In the Qur'an Jesus is called the Messiah, the Messenger, the Prophet, the Word, and Spirit of God." (Paul-Gordon Chandler, Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road, p. 89)

    The question is how does one define the term "Messiah"? The Jews thought the Messiah was going to come as a deliverer who would overthrow the Romans; Jesus came riding on a donkey as the Prince of Peace. The Qur'an teaches that Jesus the Word created by Allah, that he was a spirit proceeding from Allah, yet because their understand of who he was does not fit a narrow Christian interpretation about who Jesus was, and since they hold that belief about who Jesus was is the gospel, they are quick to judge who are in and who are out when it comes to God revealing his truth or who is saved.

    I note that when the lawyer approached Jesus seeking to entangle Jesus in a compromising disputation, said: "Teacher, I would like to ask you just what I should do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered, "What is written in the law and the prophets; how do you read the Scriptures?" The lawyer, knowing the teachings of both Jesus and the Pharisees, answered: "To love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself." Then said Jesus: "You have answered right; this, if you really do, will lead to life everlasting." (Luke 10:25)

    Where is the demand that the one believe Jesus is the Messiah? Or not only believe Jesus is the Messiah, but believe in the specific manner as espoused by Paul in his fictitious atonement doctrine?

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  27. Do you understand and value Pastor Bob's faith? No. So what is your point?

    Had you paid closer attention to what I wrote (admittedly I blathered on a bit, so I don't necessarily blame you for that) , you would know what the point was, and you would also realize that the answer you gave to your own question was incorrect.

    I suggested that I have a great deal more respect for Bob's trinitarianism than he has for my unitarianism. I don't have a problem with trinitarians calling themselves Christian. He has stated that he has a problem with unitarians calling themselves Christian. I think I can respectfully disagree with Bob's theology without denying that it is his path to God. The problem that I have is not with his or anyone else's theology per se, but with any attempt at defining one's own theology as the exclusive be-all and end-all of the faith.

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  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  29. The Sheep and the Goats

    "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

    "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

    "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

    "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

    "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

    "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

    -- Matthew 25: 31-45

    I notice there is no question of those who believed Jesus was the Messiah, let alone that one must believe he gave his life as a ransom or sacrifice. Oh, but of course, that it because this was Paul's and the later churches interpretation, not contained in the original message and gospel of Jesus! I also notice that "all the nations will be gathered before him," which logically includes Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and so on.

    I fail to see how implicating an entire group of people as being "accursed" based upon a given historical interpretation of scripture espoused by Paul is "nice" or Christ-like.

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  30. Jim said "That the Bible clearly states Mohammed was not a prophet of God per the Scriptures is beyond the realm of debate."

    Rob (last name withheld) said Hum, kind of like saying "I have already made up my mind, don't confuse me with the facts!" ;-) Of course, one can always make fundamentalist claims on dogmatic grounds and refuse to look at historical facts, but this sounds more like blind bibliolatry born of fear rather than the love of truth and the courage to search for it and follow it wherever it might lead.

    That's 1% content and 99% blather. You went from 0 to Bill O'Reilly in under ten seconds! How does this response answer the question "why is Mohammed a prophet of God in the Christian faith?" The answer is, "he's not". And that's that.

    First of all, summarily attacking someone's knowledge at the beginning of a dialog sends up a red flag. Repeating it like a parrot sends up a flare. We are not in the back lot at the middle school. Its an exchange of ideas, not insults.

    You say that The fact that Paul's words do not always necessarily reflect the teachings of Jesus is well attested to through scholarly research.

    Can you give me some titles to look up? I am unaware of any significant school of thought that claims a break between what Jesus taught and what Paul taught.

    Rob continues Jim Jordan writes:

    "It seems to me that you are equating the existence of Islam as a major religion with legitimacy. Whereas God is sovereign and surely Islam exists for a reason in His plan, that does not mean that God must be speaking specifically through Mohammed."


    Note the word "specifically". Then read your response.

    Let us unpack this little piece of theological judgment of THE TRUTH, shall we. Here, Jim implies that Islam is not "legitimate," by which of course he means God does (sic - not?) reveal his truth through Islam nor through the teachings of Muhammad and the Qur'an. Of course only one who is ignorant of what the Qur'an actually teaches makes such bigoted statements about another religion which he clearly knows little about. Kind of like the Jewish leaders response that "Nothing good can come out of Nazareth," before they had even given his teachings a fair and unbiased hearing, but judged them based on their own preconceived interpretations of what truth was based upon their narrow view of the authority of the bible and tradition.

    Do you see your slip-and-fall? I did not rule out Islam as you say I did. If God is sovereign, then it exists for a reason. But that doesn't mean that it is the specific message from God. There are many passages in the Qur'an that are truthful. I have (ahem) spent hundreds of hours studying it, the Hadiths, and the mystics. There remain many irreconcilable contradictions. There is also enough evidence in the Qur'an to condemn Osama Bin Laden and co. to Hell and I'm amazed that us westerners don't explore that.

    Chandler's statement is correct. Jesus is called all those things. Surah 19 makes you want to scratch your head and ask, "why then does Mohammed reject Him?" Surah 5:116 - 5.116: And when Allah will say: "O Isa son of Marium (Jesus, Mary)! did you say to men, Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah he will say: Glory be to Thee, it did not befit me that I should say what I had no right to (say); if I had said it, Thou wouldst indeed have known it; Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I do not know what is in Thy mind, surely Thou art the great Knower of the unseen things".

    And that is Pastor Bob's point, I think. If you reject Jesus as Lord and Savior, you may have some other path to God (in the meantime) but how can it be as a Christian? Mystical, if you believe Christ is not the specific path to God, then why are you so upset that someone says you are not a Christian? Are they denying you a path to God? Can anyone do that?

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  31. mystical

    While you know what I believe from earlier posts, and you have understood my earlier posts correctly, I was trying to be more irenic in this one. Maybe I wasn't clear enough . . . Mormons call themselves Christians and get very upset when others, (I admit it, like me), say that, because of what they believe about God, Jesus and other things, they are not. On the other hand, if you read the writings of the Latter Day Saints, they clearly say that trinitarians like me aren't Christians. The same thing with Jehovah's Witnesses. Unlike some of my friends I always invite the Mormons and the JW's in. I like the conversation. But the Jehovah's Witnesses think I'm going to hell because I'm a trinitarian. Both Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses call themselves Christians and would say that I am not. I'm not offended. We disagree. When serving as a volunteer chaplain at a hospital I've called the Jehovah's Witness elders to come to care for one of their flock because I wasn't the right person for the job. They were grateful.

    What I was trying to say in my first couple of posts (I was responding to tn420) was that various people use the word Christian in a variety of ways. It isn't always easy to tell the players from the program. I suggested that a simple either or model is not sufficient because of the various definitions of the word. I have the same problem with the words liberal and conservative and suggesting that theology or politics can be either liberal or conservative or somewhere on a continuum between the two. I suggested we need a 3D model to sort out the various definitions of the word and also who stands where on what issue. An example: I have a variety of theological disagreements with Mormons. I also agree with them on some theological subjects. But if we are building a house for someone or feeding the poor I'm not going to ask for a faith statement before I hand someone a hammer or accept their invitation to ladle out the soup.

    All of which is to say that my intent in writing what I wrote was to say that different people define the word Christian in different ways and we have to be careful to listen to people to understand the many and varied ways they use the word. In other words, in a weird kind of way, I was agreeing with you in part.

    Mystical I don't dismiss you, hate you, fail to listen to you, oppress you or anything else when I say part of my definition, (but only part of my definition) of the word Christian includes being a trinitarian. It means I disagree with you. I know you don't like my definition but then I didn't expect you to like it. I certainly don't intend to offend.

    Do I think the tent is smaller than you do? Yeah, it seems I do. Could I be wrong? Of course I could! Hey, we both could be wrong! Maybe the Islamists are right! I hope not but putting aside the question of divine revelation, (or at least that I think my definition of divine revelation is correct), they could be right. But don't expect me to start kneeling and saying my prayers toward Mecca any time soon. If I get the choice between converting and dying, I'll choose death.

    All of which is to say that intellectually I admit that I may be wrong and you may be right. But my faith tells me the opposite.

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  32. Bob, I think that that the Mormons and the Jehovah's witnesses have their own problems with tolerance. But then, I don't believe in hell, so all this debate about how "we" are the right ones and the others (by virtue of not agreeing with us) are going to hell is, in my view, utter nonsense, and it makes all the religions involved in these debates look bad. No one is going to hell for having the wrong beliefs--not you, not Mormons, not Jehovah's Witnesses. But I do think that simply saying that other sects are intolerant (they think they are the only "true" Christians or that others are going to hell) is hardly an excuse for being that way yourself. The presence of this kind of intolerance is rife within Christianity, but that doesn't make it right. I think it is much better to recognize such pettiness for what it is and to rise above it.

    But don't expect me to start kneeling and saying my prayers toward Mecca any time soon. If I get the choice between converting and dying, I'll choose death.

    I certainly don't expect you do say your prayers toward Mecca. I don't intend to do that myself any time soon. The great thing about being a pluralist is that you recognize that there are many paths to God. There is never a question of converting from the "wrong" religion to the "right" one. You have found your path to God; Muslims have found theirs. There would simply be no reason for you to convert to Islam if you are satisfied with the Christian tradition.

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  33. rob It's late I I'm too tired to talk about how evolution and creation/fall/redemption can be reconciled. Instead let me say that I'm not sure we disagree about the use of science. I think the problem may be that we are using different words to mean the same thing.

    You use the word fact to describe the word evolution. I said that it is the best theory available at the present time to fit the facts that we have. I probably should have said, to be more careful, considering the facts that I know about, it is currently the best theory that describes the fact.

    I'm trying to be a bit more cautions. Rob I don't know how old you are. I'm in my 50's. When I studied chemistry and physics we talked about atoms being made up of protons, neutrons and electrons and then talked about how molecules were formed from those atom by binding them through sharing electrons, (and I admit my language may be incorrect because I took my last chemistry class in 1971). We also talked about unstable atoms and how they broke down into different elements. Now we think an atom is a lot more complicated and that what I was taught in 1970-71 is at the very least passe. All I wish to suggest is that theories change. Sometimes they change in little ways. The move from continual evolution to episodic evolution is not a big change. But sometimes theories change in big ways. I'm not suggesting that the theory of evolution will change in big ways. I am merely open the the possibility that it might. So I think I'm more cautious than you are about the possible future interpretation of a set of facts because the addition of more data, (the facts), may change the way we arrange the data into theories. That was my intention. And I may be wrong but I suspect we don't disagree about this. After all science is the continual pursuit of new facts and the constant testing of theories. That's the way science is done. If we get too wedded to one theory we may miss the new theory that explains the data better than a current theory.

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  34. There is no question that evolutionary science has undergone refinements since Darwin's time. The development of the modern evolutionary synthesis is an example of that, and if Eldridge's and Gould's theory of punctuated equilibria is true, that would represent another modification. But that's the way science always works. Science may have altered its understanding of cosmology over the last few centuries, but the fact that the earth circles around the sun instead of vice versa is about as close as a fact as you can come, and the same applies to evolution. Whatever refinements to evolutionary theory may emerge, it is rather unlikely that the fundamental fact that species have evolved is going to be disputed by any new scientific development. I therefore think it is completely fair to use the word "fact" to describe evolution.

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  35. Do Blogs have attention deficit disorder?

    How did we get from the "bull shit" of homophobic fundamentalists to a religious debate about the science of evolution?

    To answer Heather's comment, I think the large churches (the ones that can be self sufficient) will leave the EPC and become independent congregations.

    (Following the Willow Creek corporate church model)

    And then they will pray "We thank you God that we are not like those gay loving liberal progressive apostate denominational heretics..."

    "That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done.

    So there is nothing new under the sun." Ecl 1:9

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  36. jodie

    Okay, I confess! I think the "evolution" of the topic is my fault! Or maybe it is rob responding to me which brought up and old disagreement between us and so it goes.

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  37. mystical

    I agree that there it is much more probable that the theory of evolution will evolve rather than change radically. I guess I'm just more willing to keep the option of radical change open. After all who knew that the Big Bang theory would pop us and become the accepted theory?

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  38. I had a debate elsewhere with our Jim about the potential "prophethood" of Muhammad. Long story short, I acknowledge that no, Muhammad would not consider himself a Jewish prophet because he was not a Jew or of the Jewish race. So what? If we consider Christianity the spiritual offspring of Judaism, this means that both Nostradamus and Miss Cleo are qualified prophets.

    Similarly, I don't think Muhammad intended his prophecies to predict the coming of the Messiah or that He would be the only way to salvation. However, most of the OT prophets also did not concern themselves with this issue, and in fact have much to do with other momentous events, like the exile and return, the destruction of the temple, etc. Nahum, for instance, says nothing about the Messiah.

    The practical upshot of this is that, no, I am not a Muslim, but I can treat them with respect and neighborly love and try to find our common ground (the God of Abraham, the need to help the poor, etc.). Screeching at others about how they are WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!!! about their beliefs is counterproductive in that (a) they are less likely to listen to you and (b) sends you down the road to your own fundamentalism.

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  39. I think Jodie's right. We need to get back to the "bull shit" of homophobic fundamentalists. :-)

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  40. hmm seems to me jodie and jim jordan are right. If ya'll want to keep discussing evolution and my exclusivism please come on over to my blog, (you can find it on John's site under conversations with Bob) to continue.

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  41. Hi Bob,

    I am 49, so not far from 50 ;-) I am right now going back to pursue an advanced degree in evolutionary biology/philosophy of biology, so I can relate how discussions about biology can be tiring.

    “Science may have altered its understanding of cosmology over the last few centuries, but the fact that the earth circles around the sun instead of vice versa is about as close as a fact as you can come, and the same applies to evolution. Whatever refinements to evolutionary theory may emerge, it is rather unlikely that the fundamental fact that species have evolved is going to be disputed by any new scientific development. I therefore think it is completely fair to use the word "fact" to describe evolution.”

    Well said Mystical Seeker. Bob, I hope you have had a chance to get some rest, and that your deams were peaceful. First, lets put aside the whole issue of how evolution relates to Paul’s “original sin/fall/atonement” doctrine for a moment.

    I have tried, but clearly failed, to explain the difference between the “fact” of organic evolution, as Mystical Seeker so succinctly expresses above. This distinction is recognized fully within the scientific community; there is no debate at all that evolution occured, but there is a very vigorous debate going on right now about the mechanism. And when the “theory” of the mechanism changes, the “fact” of evolution will remain unchanged, but there will be profound implications for those “theories” which claim that evolution is not progressive because it is totally based upon “random and chance” mutations.

    And that is because there is now hard scientific evidence that is not true, but rather there are deep patterns in the genome, and that non-random morphological evolution, what some scientists are now calling “fascilitated variation,” is based upon changes in the regulatory genome (itself, and unexpected discovery) which has associated with it master genes and genetic switchs so on. The manipulation of this regulatory genome and associated genetic Master Pattern genes and switches is not "theory," it is "fact." "Theory" is the attempt to understand the meaning of these new "facts."

    What would you say Bob if someday scientists are able to manipulate this regulatory genome and in the laboratory bring about the morphological change of one phyla to another, one body form to another, and actual reproduce evolution in the lab by manipulating the underlying regulatory genome (genetic blueprint, but one that is able to self-evolve based upon preexisting genetic patter/potential)? Well, today, they are fast approaching this ability.

    What insights do you think this will tell us about the means by which the Creator created humans like you and I? The thought is profound, and unless you can distinguish between “fact” and “theory” it is impossible to appreciate the full meaning therein.

    Just as quantum mechanics banished determinism (or a philosophy of mechanistic materialism or philosophical reductionism) from the physical sciences, we are now entering a period of biology where the philosophical materialism and reductionism which falsely claims evolution is not progressive (it can be regressive too, but it is nontheless progressive) will be found to be fundamentally at odd with the "facts."

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  42. Thank goodness someone else sees the New Wineskins for what they really are. Almost nothing you say John could be too strong. They are such a conceited group of people. They made a video of almost the entire convocation so they could see themselves and gloat over themselves. Pure ego, that's all this group is about. Especially notice the co-moderators who love to be in the spotlight and always looked directly into the camera during their wineskins talks.

    They must have either paid a mint for a camera person to produce marketing materials for them or found a pro-bono type person (all their attorneys work for free).

    I hope I never hear the phrase "graft to the vine", "taste the fruit" again. So hokey and overdone. Notice at the end they asked for money and said they were at a shortfall. This was the whole purpose of the convocation - put on a really good show so you can get money at the end. I would think they would have edited that out. And of course, there's the "get as many as you can out of the PCUSA while you're at it" mentality.

    They are so holy, right, give me a break. Take a look at their webpage that talks about news articles about them. It's all trash talk about why people should leave the denomination.

    Maybe they'll do a cross burning next, this group of people are so extreme and have huge egos, especially the "co-moderators" who think they themselves are God.

    They should leave the PCUSA alone. If they want to get out just go and stop bothering anyone.

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  43. FPC-E...and all that JIVE:

    One Presby's opinion:

    There is an often espoused and regularly proven theory which your 'New Winos' post proves: in this 21st Century electronic media saturated world ...'there is no such thing as bad publicity'.

    Bravo Reverend John Shuck!

    We live in a time when Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears and a host of other 'hip and cool and wealthy' young stars and starlets garner thousands of hours of publicity and millions of dollars of 'excess profit' for their excessive and empty-headed and immature actions.

    I know that much of this BLOG THREAD deals with the intricacies of theological philosophy ...and my B.A. in History ...with an emphasis on American Culture ...did not prepare me to eruditely delve into the minutia of faith and the 'proper way to be a Christian Presbyterian.'

    HOWEVER ....John's use of the expletive 'bullshit' may well have caused many casual readers to "SIT UP AND TAKE NOTICE" and read on...and ponder...and PRAY ...and discuss ... the schism that infects the Presbyterian faction of our Christ Centered religion ...in this time of 'instant information' and short attention spans.


    I live in Mitchell County, NC, ...which, like most of the rural counties in the Southern Appalachian Mountain region,was settled 10,000 years ago by the predecessors of today's Cherokee Nation .....and then explored and settled by European's who ...in large part ...share my Scottish Ancestry. We...(and I know ...it may not be academically prudent nor my place to use the word 'WE' here)...tend to be tough, independent, hard-working folk ...who take care our families and might carry 'a bit' of a grudge against the English and the Catholics and The Baptists and The Confederates ....and other 'outsiders' who may not understand just exactly how tough it was and is ...to have been cast out and rejected and misunderstood and under-represented for the past 250 years. (Mitchell County was founded in 1861 ...by a few poor but proud mountain men and women who preferred Abraham Lincoln to Jefferson Davis ...and who did not care to 'render unto Charleston & Richmond & Montgomery' anymore than our 'BRAVEHEARTED' kin wanted to cowtow to London). I apologize to my Cherokee Sisters and Brothers ...who's 'Trail Of Tears' was proof that ...many of our European Ancestors ...Presbyterian and Baptist alike ..had an interesting and often brutal concept of the word 'SAVAGE'.) But I digress....

    So....just how does all this non-theological blather connect to Paris Hilton ...or to the 'The Winos'?

    Ahem ....

    Reverend John Shuck ...and his 'ILK' ...who espouse the necessity to WAKE UP THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH and it's sometimes 'too conservative' and 'too reverential' congregations ... are, in my humble opinion, doing GOD's WORK in the best of all possible ways. We who believe in being PROGRESSIVE PRESBY's...and for whom 'The Golden Rule' really matters ...and who can understand the oppression which haunts the Cherokee, the African-Americans and the GLBT Community ...must STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT against those who PREACH INTOLERANCE ON WEDNESDAY NIGHTS and SUNDAY MORNINGS and then worship the 'Modern American Culture' of Paris Hilton and her 'ilk' ...who are, surely, infecting our Children & Grand Children with their 'ME ME ME' publicity stunts ...and have, somehow, pushed the discussion of Poverty, War, Pollution, Natural Resource Protection and 'The Criminality of Our Wyoming and Texas Tag Team'...who, surely, have as little appreciation of The U.S Constitution and it's FIRST AMENDMENT ...as any 'Wino' has of those simple words: JUDGE NOT ....LEST YE BE JUDGED.

    As Mel Gibson ..the actor portraying William Wallace ...the Patriot ...in 'Braveheart'..... FREEDOM!

    I am proud to look to Rev. John Shuck as my spiritual leader ..and, if you have not seem him 'IN ACTION' ..just sit in 'AWE' each Sunday morning....and watch him during FPC-E's 'Time With The Children'.

    Teach Your Children Well...INDEED.

    *****
    Now ...I know this has been a circuitous ramble ...and I KNOW ...my style may not fit into the 'Theological Thread' of this BLOG ...and you would be right to label this post as "OFF TOPIC"....however ...the use of the word 'BULLSHIT' does not, necessarily, condemn the user to Hell.....and might just cause some hearts to be opened to Christ's most important single word ...... LOVE.

    Amen.

    *****

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  44. P.S.

    I apologize for the many 'TYPO's' and 'BRAINO's' in my post....I DID NOT major in 'Typing' or 'English' ...and 'may have' lost some of my 8th Grade typing training over my 55 year existence.

    I know we all 'do our best' ...and I also know ...in every sense of the word ...we are all Children in the Eyes of God.

    May your search for truth return you to yourself ...and your heart and to ...our ONE TRUE GOD.

    -Cameron Bothwell
    Spruce Pine,NC

    BLOGGING as 'Twain' at topix.net

    ...and a regular visitor at:

    First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethton, TN.

    :-)

    *****
    -

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  45. Twain said 'too conservative'...in my humble opinion, [Shuck is] doing GOD's WORK in the best of all possible ways. We who believe in being PROGRESSIVE PRESBY's...


    So the answer to the conservative problem, which indeed is a problem, is to be "progressive". Seems you're trading one distortion with another.

    The complaint with the conservatives is that they have forgotten humility. So the answer is humility, right? Only the problem with the Progressive mindset is replete with a false humility. "Bullshit homophobes" does not represent a genuine humility, does it? Profanity and true humility do not mix.

    The fact that the profanity got people's attention is not a good thing. It got attention the way a good car crash breeds onlookers.

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  46. Jim:

    Thank you for reading my post.
    Communication is the key to sharing our mutual desire to use the written word to illuminate The Word.

    About the 'BS' controversary ....I will present the following 'something completely different'
    theory ... and let you ponder it.

    I have friends...good friends...who defend their 'literal faith' by adding up the 'begats' and...state that Adam & Eve were the first humans....@6000 years ago.

    Carbon dating....unlike on-line dating ...is not an 'exact science'... but I believe GOD has worked within the scientific community to reveal the 'educated guess' that GOD did not count those magical and mysterious minutes, hours and days which lead to the First Sabbath ...on a Timex Indiglo Watch.

    I am concerned that...at a Republican Presidential Debate a few months ago ...3 of 10 participants stated that THEY DO NOT BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION.

    Now ...it is certainly true that the use of expletives might offend some ...and be viewed as 'un-Christian' by some ....and, if the intended audience is CHILDREN ...UNDER 18 ...the use of one of 'the famous FCC 7 dirty words' would not be appropriate.

    However ...I believe GOD was NOT wearing a Timex ...and should not be erroneously limited by the dark and fearful people of today ....and therefore ...it seems to be of value to 'call a Club a Club'...or a Spade....or a Diamond...and EXPOSE CHARLATANS, PAPISTS, and FUNDAMENTALIST POLITICIANS in any way that might cause 'Children of The Enlightenment' to claim their heritage and call bovine excrement what it is.....without fear of 'offending the un-offendable' or condemning Lennie Bruce, George Carlin, Robin Williams ...or John Shuck ...to a future of sulphuric damnation.

    "Let Ye Among Thee who is without sin...cast the First Stone.'

    Wino's are ..... in their own chosen way ...Godly & Christian and perfectly welcome to deny God's Love and Christ's Words & Teachings ...just as long as THE GOLDEN RULE is in their hearts...rather than being carried somewhat farther south ...in their hip pocket or purse.

    All thing's considered....I believe that objective news coverage of Our Lord And Savior's response to such whining in his name ...would carry the headline:

    'CHRIST WEPT'

    *****

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  47. Hi Twain

    Your points didn't answer my post, but I think I can shed some light on what you say.

    I am concerned that...at a Republican Presidential Debate a few months ago ...3 of 10 participants stated that THEY DO NOT BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION.

    I watched that debate. I would have rebuked the moderator on the spot for asking such a misleading and broad question. Certain aspects of micro-evolution have been documented while macro-evolution (matter morphing into living cells)still lurks in the shadows of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and other such fantasies. There is no evidence nor natural explanation for how that could happen. Why believe it?

    The Wine people aren't condemning anyone to eternal sulphurization. The victim spin I hear on this site is why I pegged the mind set as "false humility". Someone tells you that you are wrong, that you follow a "decapitated Christology" - which is to say your theology is in error - and you say they are condemning you to Hell. As if they could do such a thing.

    I do not interpret Genesis literally either. Obsessing that others don't read it as literal is a sign that the person's pride is getting in the way (that's forgotten humility). Such folks also tend to miss the greater lessons taught in Genesis.

    I think we make a similar error by bowing to Evolution without being sure all that we are embracing has been verified.

    Last, if the Whiners, as you call them, want to leave. Why not let them? Why not let them be divisive somewhere else? Why even take what they say to heart?
    Regards.

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  48. If the Winos would all leave that would probably be OK. In fact I think we should insist that they do.

    The fundamental problem I have with the Fundamentalists is what a friend of mine (Ed Maher) calls “The Dynamics of Diversity Denied”. The faith of the Fundamentalists is based on mental models that create a vicious circle, which left unchecked leads to a form of religious oppression that is not unlike that of the Taliban.

    The basic mental models are:

    1) Our reality is the only valid set of perceptions
    2) Security is a function of more and more people aligned with our beliefs and assumptions (i.e. truth resides in the majority opinion)
    3) Our beliefs are the laws of nature
    4) Whatever we judge and condemn is reduced as a threat and can now be controlled

    These mental models cause a self sustaining cycle that starts with assuming the validity of our own world view, leading to greater and greater security about our own world view, leading to more and more judgmentalism and condemnation of those that see differently than us, leading to a greater sense of ego superiority and a lowering of diversity of attributes which reinforces the unquestioned validity or our own world view. In biological systems this loss of diversity is usually followed by extinction. It leads to DEATH.

    My friend calls this loop “consummate arrogance”.

    That is, arrogance that consumes.

    The way to avoid being consumed by this arrogance is to embrace humility. The mental models of humility are:

    1) We are all learning
    2) The more appreciative and inclusive we are, the richer our learning experiences will be
    3) What there is to learn far exceeds our ability to ultimately grasp
    4) The Universe is a majestic mystery. It is full of Wonder.

    In this cycle we embrace the opportunity to expand our beliefs and assumptions, which allows us to expand our appreciation for multiple cultures, perceptions, and forms of life, which leads us to increase our celebration of plurality and expand our sense of wonder. All of this leads to a greater diversity of attributes in our population and reinforces our ability to expand our beliefs and assumptions.

    In biological systems this diversity leads to greater versatility and ability to survive. It leads to LIFE.

    This is the true power “walking humbly” with our God. It is opposite of arrogance.

    According to Scriptures, what does the LORD require of us? To do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.

    These are not the fundamentals of Fundamentalism.

    (If you don't believe me just ask them)

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  49. jodie

    Thank you. Now we are back on topic.

    I have some if not many theological agreements with people in New Wineskins. You may have noticed them in my conversations with John. Does that mean you wish I would just leave?

    And yes, if you find the worldview that says Jesus is the only way to salvation oppressive then you think I am oppressive.

    I find your comparison to the Taliban offensive. No one in the PCUSA or in the process of leaving the PCUSA believes in killing people for disagreeing with them. Do I work to change the PCUSA toward what I consider a more faithful path? Of course I do! But we do it by talking and voting. And you may have noticed that I am willing to listen carefully and disagree politely. There are many Evangelicals like me who frankly find that those on the more progressive end of the denomination, unlike John Shuck in my case, are unwilling to talk with us and are unwilling to listen to us. Many of us want to have the conversation and in our little parts of the world ARE having the conversation. I am not an anomaly.

    I disagree with the people who are leaving. I think they are making a mistake. I'm not going anywhere. Some of those leaving are friends of mine and I'm grieving because they are going.

    Comparing people in America to the Taliban is simply a verbal attack that allows you to say what people say and think is not worth hearing. The use of the word fundamentalist is the same kind of attack. The word used to have a specific meaning referring to people who wanted the whole Church to reduce the faith to 5 fundamentals. They were wrong. The word has come to mean someone who is conservative and I don't like and therefore I don't have to listen to them.

    The ideology of inclusion can be just as oppressive as the ideology of fundamentalism. "You aren't inclusive so therefore you are evil or not Christian or whatever."

    Part of walking humbly with God is loving the Other whether you believe the Other loves you or not.

    You may wish I would leave but I am not going anywhere!

    Try being more loving.

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  50. Bob,

    Honestly, I don't think of you as a Fundamentalist. The word still holds the original meaning. Are you one?

    There are numerous Fundamentalists that have hijacked the term Evangelical, as if Fundamentalism could be construed as good news. But there is nothing good or newsworthy about their gospel. Homophobic intolerance is not new, not good, and not Christian. Yet it is the fundamental driving force behind the theology of the New Wineskins. It always comes back to that.

    My comment about Fundamentalism and the Taliban was "if left unchecked leads to".

    There is no doubt in my mind of the validity of that comment. It is historically accurate and not meant as an insult but a warning. It should offend, not because we have demonized the Taliban, but because the Taliban have committed no crime that Christian Fundamentalists have also not committed at some point or other in history. The ability to commit these crimes is built into our genetic code (which we cannot choose), and our mental models of the universe (that we do choose).

    As far as trying to be more loving, while it is true that we should all try to be more loving, I am doing the best I can. I must say however that while I first engaged the Fundamentalists of the New Wineskins on a purely intellectual and theological level, they quickly began calling me names, accusing me of apostasy and heresy, and finally excommunication.

    Not at all the way you have treated John.

    They really do need to leave the denomination.

    You on the other hand for the most part serve as a wonderful counter example of how one clergy should treat another. I wish all the clergy in our denomination were to treat each other with the same professional respect and decorum that you and John have shown to each other.

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  51. Jody,

    My husband is taking our daughter out to the ballet tonight. He will respond to you tomorrow.

    Debby Campbell

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  52. "If the Winos would all leave that would probably be OK. In fact I think we should insist that they do."

    I write as one who left several years ago and is quite happily serving in another denomination. In my case, I chose to separate peacefully, by myself, and to join another movement whose theology is more consistent with my own.

    Two thoughts follow: first, every group has its problems. Believe me, I can find plenty to criticize in my current denomination. However, I long ago decided to roll up my sleeves to do the work God has called me to do, rather than spend my time playing the role of the critic.

    I therefore agree that clergy who no longer feel an affinity for the PCUSA should leave and devote their lives to another church. I, personally, have never looked back.

    Second, leaving the denomination is exactly what many of the "winos" want to do. They just want to bring their churches with them. I'm not sure what should happen when a local church examines the Scriptures and decides that it no longer can remain in the PCUSA. If the denominational leadership had any integrity, they would dismiss local churches to other Reformed denominations when churches make such a request.

    After all, if we really believe in being inclusive and connectional, we should welcome congregations worshipping in local churches. What's the difference if they are affiliated with the PCUSA, EPC, PCA, etc.?

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  53. "Homophobic intolerance is not new, not good, and not Christian. Yet it is the fundamental driving force behind the theology of the New Wineskins. It always comes back to that."

    That's a bit reductionistic, don't you think? From what little I've read (key word = "little"), those participating in the New Wineskins are concerned with other issues, such as the authority of Scripture, the historicity of the Resurrection, and the left-leaning political activism by some in the PCUSA.

    "Homophobic intolerance" (I'm not sure what this term means) may or may not be Christian. From my perspective, however, the legitimization of sexual variant behaviour against nearly 2,000 years of Christian tradition and the counsel of the vast majority of Christian leaders from around the world hardly seems justified, either.

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  54. Russ,

    "They just want to bring their churches with them."

    Last I checked, the churches are not "theirs" to bring. Not really.

    If a member leaves a church after 20 or 30 years, he or she does not get a refund. They do not get to take down the paint or carpet they helped put in, or the stain glass window they gave. They leave naked as they came.

    So when does a group of members suddenly get rights that individuals don't have?

    One third of the members of First Presbyterian of Baton Rouge had a vote, and 85% of those decided to leave. Do they get to take 100% of the property with them? Do the 15% that voted to stay not get a share of "their" church? And who speaks for the silent majority? Does anybody even know why 2/3 of the congregation boycotted the vote?

    The pastors seem to think the churches are "theirs", and that seems to be the biggest problem.

    It's only simple on the very top surface of the outer veneer.

    "Homophobic intolerance" means that the mere possibility of some congregation somewhere in the denomination choosing to ordain or install a gay pastor is enough to send them running out of the room with their hair on fire.

    The question of whether that is OK or not is not a question being posed by the Holy Spirit. Gay men and women have always been a part of the church. They have been ordained ever since the invention of ordination. The question is based on the assumption that it is possible to be righteous by one's own accord. That it is possible to be "pure" by one's own actions or lack of actions. That one's standing before God depends on answering certain trick questions correctly.

    And it is based on the >assumption< that sexual orientation whether 'gay' or 'straight' is not a normal biological condition, as involuntary as eye color, despite a snowballing mountain of evidence to the contrary.

    The entire issue goes against the Gospel. The only faithful response is no response. My position is that the question does not come from the Holy Spirit, therefore it needs not be answered.

    What does come from the Holy Spirit is the mandate to do justice, to love mercy and walk humbly with God.

    The question coming from the Holy Spirit is whether we are doing all that we can to obey the teachings of Jesus and doing as we have been told to do. The answer to that question is an embarrassing "no".

    All other questions are irrelevant.

    As to the Winos, I've been reading them allot and following their progress for years. My reductionist conclusion is based only on reading and listening to what they themselves have had to say.

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  55. Jim states: “Certain aspects of micro-evolution have been documented while macro-evolution (matter morphing into living cells) ...”

    The term “macro-evolution” has absolutely nothing to do with, or includes in any way, the theory of the origin of life (“matter morphing into living cells”) which is termed “abiogenesis.” The theory of evolution is about the evolution of life after life already exists, and does not include the theory of the origin of life (i.e., abiogenesis), despite what some philosophically mechanistic-materialist minded scientists (who should know better) and uninformed creationists (who are confused) will claim. Creationists often claim,

    “It’s a debate about origins. This is ... a recurring fallacy in debates on creation-evolution.... Briefly, the problem is that creationists do not make a distinction between different origins debates. For them the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and the origin of species are all one and the same.

    Of course, they are not. Evolutionary biology deals only with the origin of species, and even that is only a relatively minor part of what interests evolutionary biologists. Darwinian theories have absolutely nothing to say about either the origin of life or the origin of the universe—the first one being a problem for biochemistry and biophysics, the second a problem for physics and cosmology. Again, therefore, this fallacy reflects a deep misunderstanding of the nature of science, one that scientists themselves need to correct on every possible occasion.” (Pigliucci, Massimo. Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism, and the Nature of Science. Massachusetts: Sinauer Associates; 2002; p. 175.)

    “[T]here are a couple of important things that evolution is not, misleading claims by creationists [and materialists] notwithstanding. For example, evolution is not a theory of the origin of life, for the simple reason that evolution deals with changes in living organisms … By definition, before life originated there were not mutations, and therefore there was no variation; hence, natural selection could not possibly have acted. This means that the origin of life is a (rather tough) problem for physics and chemistry to deal with, but not a proper area of inquiry for evolutionary biology. (Pigliucci 2002: 76)

    (....) Evolution is also most definitely not a theory of the origin of the universe. As interesting as this question is, it is rather the realm of physics and cosmology. Mutation and natural selection, the mechanisms of evolution, do not have anything to do with stars and galaxies. It is true that some people, even astronomers, refer to the "evolution" of the universe, but this is meant in the general sense of change through time, not the technical sense of the Darwinian theory..... The origin of the universe, like the origin of life, is of course a perfectly valid scientific question, even though it is outside the realm of evolutionary biology. (Pigliucci 2002: 77)

    (....) Is the fact that evolutionary theory can explain neither the origin of life nor the formation of the universe a "failure" of Darwinian evolution? Of course not. To apply evolutionary biology to those problems is like mixing apples and oranges, or like trying to understand a basketball play by applying the rules of baseball. Creationists [and materialists] often do this, but their doing so betrays either a fundamental misunderstanding of science or a good dose of intellectual dishonesty—neither of which should be condoned.” (Pigliucci 2002: 78)

    Although some people confuse the origin of life itself with evolution, the two are conceptually separate. Biological evolution is defined as decent of living things from ancestors from which they differ. Life had to precede evolution! Regardless of how the first replicating molecule appeared, we see in the subsequent historical record the gradual appearance of more complex living things, and many variations on the many themes of life. We know much more about evolution than about the origin of life. (Scott, Eugenie C. Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction. California: University of California Press; 2004; pp. 26-27.)

    Jim states: “There is no evidence nor natural explanation for how that could happen.”

    If you are talking about the origin of life (i.e., abiogenesis) you are correct. Some scientists speak far to glibly and self-confidently that they “know” when in truth they don’t know how life started on this planet. But there is overwhelming evidence that life (however it got here) certainly did evolve via descent from common origin with modification (i.e., genetic variation leading to change in form). Evolution is a fact that has been proven beyond reasonable doubt, but the mechanism may well still be modified based upon new information.

    The origin of life and the evolution of life are two separate issues. Only those confused, uninformed, or seeking to promote an ideology, whether that be an ideology of mechanistic materialism or a fundamentalist ideology of creationism refuse to acknowledge the facts of the difference between these two theories.

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  56. Well, Jodie, thank you for your reply. Naturally, I disagree with you, but I do appreciate your ideas and I have learned from them. I am curious, however, where you got the idea that 2/3 of the FPCBR congregation boycotted the vote to leave the PCUSA? Did they truly boycott the meeting, or did they simply not show up? One might envision that they were simply in tune with the church’s leadership (pastors and elders) and were confident in the outcome. Alternately, one might imply that they simply did not care. Of course, I would have to concede the possibility that those who did not attend the vote were discouraged and bullied into silence.

    The point is this: I simply do not know. Unless you polled them, you do not know, either. They may or may not be a “silent majority.” The test will come a year from now. If the “silent majority” continues to attend the church, then one might reasonably infer that either their devotion to their local church is stronger than denominational ties, or, that they really did agree with the vote after all.

    I read your version of the FPCBR vote and think that a relatively small group would hold back the church from following God’s lead out from the PCUSA and into another fellowship. Let them attend one of the many other PCUSA churches that remain in Baton Rouge.

    As for property rights, etc., I admittedly am not up on the latest thinking on this, but, apparently, the Presbytery of South Louisiana has apparently agreed that the FPCBR property belongs to the church and not the presbytery. Of course, we all know that it belongs to God, and I guess we will just have to wait and see if God blesses the move.

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  57. Hello Rob
    You are re-inforcing my point! How is a candidate supposed to publicly endorse Evolution if it is as you say, interpreted many different ways? It is part science, part philosophy, and part ideology. Why then are you "concerned" that so many Republicans didn't raise their hand?

    Thank you for explaining my point so accurately.

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  58. jodie

    Home again. As my daughter says it's nice to have a daddy date.

    I don't know anything about you so I don't know how much you know about the history of Fundamentalism. It is a recent phenomenon. The fundamentals were first listed around 1890. The Presbyterian fundamentals were different from the others because the Presbyterians weren't premillenial dispensationalists. The five Presbyterian fundamentals were:

    * Inerrancy of the Scriptures
    * The virgin birth
    * Substitutionary atonement
    * The bodily resurrection of Jesus
    * The authenticity of Christ's miracles

    It was supported philosophically by Old Princeton scholasticism.

    Personally I can't be a fundamentalist. I don't believe in inerrancy and, like flycandler I don't think you can reduce Christian theology to a short list. Besides, even if I made a list there are some vital things missing on this list like God as creator and the trinity! Also, I can't buy the scholastic vision of the Bible as a series of propositional truths.

    So no, I'm not a fundamentalist.

    But I think you would be hard pressed to find many fundamentalists left in the PCUSA. There were still some around after the fundamentalist/modernist controversy back in the 1920's but most of them left for the OPC in the 30's or the PCA in the 70's or the EPC in the early 80's.

    What I find so curious in your statements is the suggestion that fundamentalists are violent. As far as I know there has been no violence perpetrated by people because they were fundamentalists. A very few Christians in America have used violence for other reasons like opposition to abortion and hatred for homosexuals. These people may have been fundamentalists, but they are very few in number and the cause of their violence was not their fundamentalism but their (questionable) ethics.

    I know some people who are leaving through the New Wineskins movement. The ones I know personally are not hateful people. I disagree with their decision and their evaluation of the PCUSA. I imagine there probably are people who are less than pleasant as they leave. It is my experience in the PCUSA that there are less than pleasant people of all theological persuasions.

    Let me say again: I don't know of any fundamentalist terrorists in the PCUSA or any who are leaving the PCUSA who use violence to try and force others to do what they want. I do find people all over the theological map who want to make others agree with them or kick them out of the denomination. Personally I would rather use gentle persuasion.

    So I'm not sure who these violent people are. Maybe you can enlighten me.

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  59. Hi Bob,

    Yes, I am somewhat familiar with the history of the Christian Fundamentalist movement. It is strongly based in 19th Century rationalism and science, ironically. Everybody in those days was rushing to write fundamental laws for everything, from physics to political science and economics to religion.

    Today they call them "essentials". Same product, new label.

    "I don't know of any fundamentalist terrorists in the PCUSA or any who are leaving the PCUSA who use violence to try and force others to do what they want."

    (See, I quoted you)

    And yet they fully endorsed the invasion and destabilization of Iraq and still endorse its occupation. You don't call that terrorism? It depends on who you ask. Maybe it's too efficient and industrialized to call it that. But it is violence, yes? To get what they want, yes? And I have yet to hear a single Fundamentalist or even a single conservative Evangelical come out and say "hey we were wrong and we have sinned"

    So I think you know plenty of fundamentalist terrorists in the PCUSA, you just don't want to believe what your eyes are plainly telling you. The horror of our blood guilt is too great to bear, so we've re-labeled it. If a Saudi prince based in Afghanistan kills Americans in New York it is clearly terrorism, but if we destroy an entire nation that did nothing to us, what are we to call it?

    I don't even know what we are calling it this week.

    The point is, the mental models that allow for one are exactly the same that allow the other. If we assume our own positions are correct, that our view of reality is the only valid view, that our security is a function of others agreeing with our views, or that our own beliefs are laws of nature and that we can reduce and control the threat others pose to us by judging and condemning them, then >if< we have not crossed the line to commit violence, we are going to.

    Chances are we already have.

    I believe the Holy Spirit is calling us to a radically different mental model. He is calling us to do justice, to love mercy and to be humble, before Him and before the whole World. I believe the New Wineskins are marching in exactly the opposite direction the Holy Spirit is calling them, and all of us included.

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  60. Bob,

    PS in case you missed it.

    I >do< think the sort of dialog you've engaged with John and the tone you gave it is exactly the kind of thing that properly responds to the call of the Holy Spirit.

    The Church leads by example. Yours is a really good one.

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  61. Russ,

    "Let them attend one of the many other PCUSA churches that remain in Baton Rouge."

    I am sure that is what they will do.

    But just once I would like to see some Solomonic wisdom, some obedience to Scripture. I say that if a significant portion of a congregation feels so strongly that it cannot follow Jesus and remain in community with the rest of the denomination it has been a part of up till now, then in obedience to the Scriptures they should sell the property, donate all the proceeds to charity, and follow Him.

    Anything less, as John so eloquently put it, is bullshit.

    (I think he was quoting the apostle Paul actually - Phil 3:7 in Greek? The subject was piety)

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  62. jodie

    I think you would be surprised how many evangelicals in the PCUSA thought the current war was wrong from the start. Drawing a connection between the principles of people you don't like, (or at least what you think their principles are) and a war about which they may or may not approve is irresponsible.

    And to quote you:

    The point is, the mental models that allow for one are exactly the same that allow the other. If we assume our own positions are correct, that our view of reality is the only valid view, that our security is a function of others agreeing with our views, or that our own beliefs are laws of nature and that we can reduce and control the threat others pose to us by judging and condemning them, then >if< we have not crossed the line to commit violence, we are going to.

    I think you have two leaps in this sentence that are not logical. The first is between "that our view of reality is the only valid view" and "that our security is a function of others agreeing with our views." Most humans believe their view of reality is the only valid view. Even people who believe that there are a wide variety of valid views believe that those who believe there is only one valid view are wrong. (I hope that sentence makes sense. Read it three times slowly if necessary) But to jump from "mine is the only valid view" to "my security comes from others agreeing with me," is too big a leap. I know a lot of people disagree with me, including about my basic assumptions about reality. But I don't need others to agree with me to feel secure. My Jewish friends have some rather large disagreements with me. Sometimes, if the time is right, we may talk about what we believe. I may do this as a form of evangelism. But if they don't ultimately agree with me my security is not threatened. My sister is an atheist. She teases me about my faith. I may not be happy when she does so but my security does not come from a need for her to agree with me. My security comes from God, not anything in myself. On the other hand I do worry about her eternal security!

    Second this part of your sentence is very curious: "or that our own beliefs are laws of nature and that we can reduce and control the threat others pose to us by judging and condemning them . . ." I do think some of my beliefs are laws of nature but they have little to do with my theology or world view. I believe when I am on earth if I jump up I am going to come down. That's a law of nature. I don't think my beliefs about God and Jesus are laws of nature. I believe they are correct, (or I couldn't use the word belief to describe them, could I?) but laws of nature? I think there is a clear distinction between my theology and scientific fact and opinion. Now I recognize that there are those who don't: young earth creationists for example. But while they may want their beliefs taught in school I haven't heard that any of them are willing to commit violence to make this happen.

    As to the war in Iraq, I think you will find that there is a diversity of opinion among evangelicals in the PCUSA. Personally, I don't think the folks in the White House started the war out of desire for the oil. I think they did it out of magnanimous stupidity.

    Finally, judgment and condemning. Like it or not, all humans judge and condemn. Note that you did it in what you said about conservative evangelicals. You made an assumption about us which in my experience is inaccurate: (that we as a group support the war in Iraq), you made a judgment, one with which I happen to agree, that the war in Iraq was wrong from the beginning and continues to be wrong, both ethically and, I would suggest, in execution: (our battle plan is also stupid), and then you condemned us as a group.

    Did this grow out of your inflexible world views that you hold as laws of nature? I doubt it. You may be hanging around with the wrong conservative evangelicals or you may not be around when we disagree with each other. And believe me, get a group of evangelicals together and you will hear disagreement! We can't even agree on whether we should stay in the PCUSA or not! But one thing we are trying to agree upon: whether we go or stay we will love each other.

    I find that love, listening and caring are not so much a function of world view, although world view can play a part. I find them more a function of personality.

    I humbly suggest that you reread your post and consider how it might apply to you.

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  63. Bob,

    Thanks for the reply.

    "I think you would be surprised how many evangelicals in the PCUSA thought the current war was wrong from the start."

    You got me there. Indeed I would

    But I think I need to get something straight.

    I >am< a conservative evangelical. Born and raised. I am talking about us as a them, but I am no other.

    And I am sick to my stomach at what we have done. Does what I wrote apply to me? Every word of it.

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  64. jodie

    Interesting. I presume from your use of the present tense that you still consider yourself to be a conservative evangelical. Now personally I don't like the word conservative. It's become one of those words that are vacuous, that have no meaning except to use as a nasty means to say something about someone else. I also think the word evangelical is moving toward vacuity too.

    So when you say you are conservative evangelical what do you mean? And what are you sick of?

    There's some things I don't like about what some of my evangelical friends have done. On the other hand there are things I am very proud of. What gives you pride and what are you sick of?

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  65. "Most humans believe their view of reality is the only valid view."

    Bob, Bob, Bob. Do you think that your tastes in food are the only valid ones? Your tastes in music? In film? Your tastes in women?

    Most people with an even remotely mature perspective on life understand that different people have different perspectives on all sorts of things in life, and that there is not necessarily only one valid perspective on those things. We even have expressions that say as much--Vive la difference, to each his own, and so forth. And part of having a mature outlook in life is tolerating those sorts of differences. By contrast, religious intolerance, unfortunately, is an example of a highly immature perspective on life, one that, unfortunately, many people never outgrow.

    My Jewish friends have some rather large disagreements with me.

    Do you think that your Jewish friends are going to hell because they are Jews? Do they think that you are going to hell because you are not a Jew? Really, Bob, do you go around telling your Jewish friends that their religion is flawed, inferior to your own, a path to hell, and so forth? If so, I'm surprised that any Jew would consider you a friend. They know damn well how Christians have treated them for 2000 years.

    On the other hand I do worry about her eternal security!

    Do you think that your sister is going to hell because she has the "wrong" beliefs on religion?

    You seem to be confusing judging judgmental ism with being judgmental. They are two different levels of belief. If I despise what the KKK stands for because I hate bigotry, does that make me a bigot also? Of course it doesn't. It is a category mistake, a fallacy, to suggest that criticizing intolerance is itself intolerant. It just plain isn't.

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  66. Bob said**"Most humans believe their view of reality is the only valid view."

    Mystical says**Bob, Bob, Bob. Do you think that your tastes in food are the only valid ones? Your tastes in music? In film? Your tastes in women?


    Waiter, check, please! Mystical, this spinning of what people say is getting old. What the Hell does your taste in food have to do with your view of reality?

    Your argument is "I can disagree with you, but you can't disagree with me or anyone else." It's the same old post-modern, morally relativistic jibberish. "Heads I win, tales you lose".

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  67. I have said before and will say again that I do believe that schism is sin. It divides the body of Christ and inevitably creates division and strife (no matter how prettily you package it with clever fruit references). I speak as someone who was more or less asked to leave a conservative PC(USA) church after a lifetime (literally) of service, and who is now a member of a PC(USA) church that welcomes me with open arms. I disagree VERY strongly with those of my conservative brethren and sistren who wish to prevent me from serving the church that has given me so much. But, as my pastor says, sometimes ya gotta hug their necks when all you want to do is wring them. I think (and John has touched on this before and gotten eaten alive for it) that the best witness I can make for GLBT Presbyterians is just to be myself: working full-time with rent and car payments, devoted to my family and loving toward and loved by my church. It's much easier to rally against and despise a mythical The Gay; it's much harder to do so with Tom or Frank or Julie or Sarah from church.

    I think God is doing something with the PC(USA), and likely has in the past as well. I understand and share John's frustration (I am involved with Covenant Network after all) and personally tire of all the divisive bullshit myself. What I hope and pray for, however, is that EVERYONE in the PC(USA) will heed Jesus' call to love God and neighbor and to start being a Church again.

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  68. I would also make the point that Evangelicals need to speak out and explain why they are not Fundamentalists, just as it has been demanded of us liberals/progressives/neo-orthodox/etc why we are not Abiblical (or whatever accusation du jour).

    I know there's a difference, but I'm not an Evangelical.

    Bob, yer work's cut out for ya! ;-)

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  69. Amen ......'fly'....AMEN!

    Within 100 years ...all but the youngest or most amazingly healthy among us ...ALL of us will be gone from this earthly realm ...and ...1000 years from now...as humans are celebrating the beginning of 'the fourth millenium' ...all that will be remembered of 2007 A.D. will be the electronic bits & bytes of photographs & words & hymns & music ...of a time in human history when ...many many many people squandered their precious GOD GIVEN & GOD BLESSED lives ...in the pursuit of a bizarre ritual of attempting to LIMIT GOD's WORD & LOVE by excluding rather than including ....EVERY SOUL ON EARTH.

    *****

    I would hope that every one of us might take 5 minutes ...and focus and center ourselves....and really listen to one of a thousand poems or songs ....by some of our 'modern profits' who teach through their words....and preach through their melodies.

    May I suggest one song to listen to NOW....REALLY LISTEN to!

    Bette Midler's 'From A Distance'.

    *****

    NOW...for those of you are so inclined......

    THANK GOD for this beautiful November day.....

    THANK GOD for your family & Friends and loved ones...

    and
    THANK GOD you live and work and breathe the 'cyber-air' knowing...in nearly every imaginable way....your are lucky to be ALIVE...NOW ...and are truly...

    BLESSED.

    -Twain .....'of the FPC-E Twains'.

    :-)

    *****

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  70. P.S.

    If you can not find one the original 'From a Distance'...there are several gloriously beautiful 'covers' out there in 'musicland'.

    And...if you would like an alternative choice for this mornings '5 minutes'(or hunger for another example of 'Godly Poetry') ....may I suggest our late great friend, Johnny Cash, and his 'never too late to SING HIS PRAISES'

    "God's Gonna Cut You Down."

    *****

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  71. Waiter, check, please! Mystical, this spinning of what people say is getting old. What the Hell does your taste in food have to do with your view of reality?


    It has everything to do with it, my friend. Bob was making a broad characterization asserting that everyone thinks that their own perspective is the only valid one. I pointed out that in a whole host of areas of human affairs, this is simply not true. Lots of people are perfectly capable of realizing that their own perspective isn't the only valid one. I cited example from life where even Bob would know better than to assert that his own perspective is the only valid one. From my perspective, I can't imagine why anyone would enjoy eating mushrooms. Do I think that my perspective is not the only valid one? Of course I don't. I'm not a three year old. I'm an adult.

    It is time for people who think that their own faith is the only valid one to grow up. Bob says he has Jewish friends. I don't know if they are religious or devout, but supposing that they are, does he actually have the temerity to question the spiritual sustenance and value that they derive from their faith? Does he actually have the temerity to suggest that they actually don't have a relationship with God?

    For anyone who thinks that people of other religions don't have a relationship with God--and there are many theologically conservative Christians who actually think this--then I would suggest that it is time for them to grow up spiritually.

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  72. mystical

    we are getting away from the topic again, New Wineskins and those who are leaving or staying in the PCUSA.

    Briefly, I think much or what you have listed are categorically different from world views. Taste is not about world view. Some choices in what to eat and how to eat may grow out of world views, (Jewish and Muslim food laws), but are not themselves world views.

    So to your and my judgments about those who are members of the KKK and their beliefs and behaviors. Our judgments grow out of our world views, that is they are ethical judgments based on our world view.

    To put it succinctly, my world view says that God hates sin but provides a way to forgiveness in Jesus Christ, that this is the only way to forgiveness. You disagree. You say that there are many ways to God. My world view is clearly limited. Yours becomes limited when you judge mine and say it is unacceptable because it is not the same as yours. If you really believed all ways to God are acceptable you would not judge mine for being too limited.

    Or to put it differently, I feel excluded by your world view!

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  73. Yours becomes limited when you judge mine and say it is unacceptable because it is not the same as yours. If you really believed all ways to God are acceptable you would not judge mine for being too limited.

    Bob, I already pointed out why that argument that you keep repeating is faulty. Intolerance of intolerance is not being intolerant. As I pointed out with my KKK analogy, the fact that I oppose bigotry does not make me a bigot. I'm not sure why this is a difficult concept to get across to you.

    And yes, your world view is limited in its own way. I asked you a question about your Jewish friends for a reason. I have to wonder how you can look inside your soul and tell yourself that other sincere people of other faiths do not have a relationship with God. I have to wonder what is wrong with you that you can actually believe this, given that you do have friends of other faiths. You seem stuck in a childish world view that you've never outgrown. You seem more attached to your "world view" than you are to compassion and understanding. My guess is that your Jewish friends are more tolerant towards you than you are towards them. But Jews are used to Christian bigotry towards them, unfortunately.

    I will point out that I didn't necessarily say that all ways to God are acceptable. What I said is that different religions provide different pathways to God. I actually do think that you have a relationship with God, despite the intolerance of some of your theological beliefs; thus I give you more credit in your religion than you give to me--apparently your world view includes having the right to judge whether or not other people have a relationship with God. Well, I make no such judgment about you. Once again, I show more tolerance towards you than you show to me. I think that a relationship with God is possible for many people, even if I disagree with their theology.

    I have to wonder what it is that makes people so stubbornly cling to an intolerant "world view" that they will hold to it at all costs, even when compassion and understanding for others falls by the wayside as a result. I have to wonder what it is that allows people to worship a God that would send their atheist relatives to hell. It is too bad that so many religions are more about intolerance than about love.

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  74. Mystical,
    How can anyone believe all religions are equal and valid? That contradicts itself. If Christianity is valid, then Jesus is the only way. If Islam is valid then that is not so, because the right path is confessing Allah and that Mohammed is His prophet. So, big deal. The differences in religions are just that, different paths. No one questions their sincerity. I admire the Muslims who follow the fast of Ramadan, denying themselves food and drink et al during daylight hours to honor God.

    What would you say to a Muslim who doesn't believe Christ is the right path, that he didn't believe that Christians are on the path to Paradise (that's a hypothetical)? Would you tell him to grow up, too? Your belief in all-faiths is itself a faith, and quite a different path. Consider that for a moment.

    Again, it seems to me you're saying "Heads I win, tales you lose". That's moral relativism, particularly when you spin view of reality into opinions on food and movies. I don't like beef. What does that say about my worldview? One is an opinion, the other is a belief.

    Flycandler has a point. There is something to be said about schism as sin. It certainly looks bad from the outside - a bad testimony. Then Pastor Bob has said that he will not leave PCUSA, and neither would I for that matter.

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  75. How can anyone believe all religions are equal and valid? That contradicts itself.

    I didn't go so far as to say that "all religions are equal and valid". What I say is that different religious paths provide different conduits for experiencing and having a relationship with the Divine.

    If Christianity is valid, then Jesus is the only way.

    Well, actually, not all Christians believe that. You are making an assumption that something is an inherently "Christian" belief, but it isn't. And that in and of itself betrays an assumption about what faith is about.

    The other examples you cite all focus around the idea that the be-all and end-all of religion is dogmatic assertions of competing and irreconcilable truth claims. This assumption is where I believe you are going wrong. I would argue that faith assertions are just a means to an end, and that all of the religious faiths are like the blind man and the elephant, representing different limited and human ways of understanding an infinite Transcendent reality. Faith is about relationship and trust of that Transcendent reality, whatever you choose to call it.

    What would you say to a Muslim who doesn't believe Christ is the right path, that he didn't believe that Christians are on the path to Paradise (that's a hypothetical)? Would you tell him to grow up, too?

    Muslims have historically been more tolerant towards Christianity than vice versa, but the reality is that I hang around in Christian circles, not Muslim circles. I prefer to let Muslims reform their own religion. Christians like you and Bob don't consider me part of your faith, but regardless of whether I am a "Christian" or not, it is the religion of my upbringing and experience, and it is the faith path that I associate with, however peripherally. So that is the religion I am focused on when I critique its intolerance.

    Christianity is not the only religion that could use a does of greater tolerance. Within most of the great faith traditions, there are more tolerant strains and less tolerant ones (with fundamentalism being the least tolerant of all). My goal is for all the world's religions to become more tolerant of one another, but I just choose not to take on Islam or Hinduism or any other faith tradition that is not part of my personal experience.

    You need not agree with my perspective. There are different ways of viewing religious pluralism. John Hick's take isn't the same as Marcus Borg's. But my starting point is one of compassion for, and respect for, the genuine and sincere relationship with God (or whatever you choose to call this transcendent reality) that other people of other faiths plainly and evidently exhibit. My starting point is quite simple: how dare anyone presume to judge that Jews or people of other faiths don't have a relationship with God. How dare they? This is the height of arrogance, in my view. It is an attitude that drove me away from Christianity for a long time, because I thought that this was an inherent premise of Christianity. It was only later in life that I realized that you don't have to be a religious bigot to be a Christian. And it was only then that I found myself exploring Christianity once again.

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  76. Mystical
    My Carbon Monoxide alarm went of at this one: "Muslims have historically been more tolerant towards Christianity than vice versa". Explain.

    You also said, "how dare anyone presume to judge that Jews or people of other faiths don't have a relationship with God. How dare they?"

    Who are they? Give us an example of someone making that claim.

    Another flaw in your thinking: if Pastor Bob (whom you uncharitably talk to as if he was 12) is on the Christian conduit, then he is on a valid path to God. So what if he thinks it's the only conduit/path? The reductio of your belief system is that all paths of belief are valid. So you don't believe in any one of them specifically, only in light of the others.

    Then why do you police people who are on separate but equal paths? Why ostracize someone for actually choosing a path? And you, if all paths lead to God then which one are you going to take? Are you schizophrenic? Do you confess Allah on Monday and Jesus on Tuesday, Wicca on Wednesday...? Wait, that sounds like the Universalist faith. That's yet another path!

    Pastor Bob works in a denomination in which there are many people in power with whom he disagrees with, but he stays because he is serving God. He is a living, breathing example of tolerance. What are you? How are you serving the Divine? Are you his policeman? Does He need one?

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  77. You also said, "how dare anyone presume to judge that Jews or people of other faiths don't have a relationship with God. How dare they?"

    Who are they? Give us an example of someone making that claim.


    Oh really? You believe that people of other faiths have a relationship with God? Does Bob? Then good for both of you. Many others whom I have had conversations with don't feel that way.

    Then why do you police people who are on separate but equal paths?

    First, I don't "police" anyone. I simply point out that the bigotry and intolerance that I object to is what drove me away from the Christian faith tradition for a long period of time. And I think that this bigotry and intolerance goes a long way towards creating a less peaceful world. I think it is the opposite of love and compassion.

    Why ostracize someone for actually choosing a path? And you, if all paths lead to God then which one are you going to take? Are you schizophrenic? Do you confess Allah on Monday and Jesus on Tuesday, Wicca on Wednesday...? Wait, that sounds like the Universalist faith. That's yet another path!

    I don't ostracize anyone for "choosing a path". On the contrary, I fully support it. Since I choose the Christian path myself as the conduit for my religious faith, if I were to ostracize people for choosing Christianity, I'd be ostracizing myself as well. I actually respect the Christian path. My problem is not with those who choose the Christian path, but rather those who in addition to choosing that for their path refuse to respect those who take other paths.

    The rest of your questions in that paragraph are absurd and show that you are making no effort at understanding what I have been saying. I choose to hang out on the Christian path, not the Moslem path. I am not against people exclusively choosing a path for themselves. In fact, I think that it leads to a fuller spirituality for most people if they more completely immerse themselves in that one faith.

    There is a quote from Marcus Borg, from "The Heart of Christianity", that pertains here. Borg wrote:

    When a Christian seeker asked the Dalai Lama whether she should become a Buddhist, his response, which I paraphrase, was: "No, become more deeply Christian; live more deeply into your own tradition."...By living more deeply into our own tradition as a sacrament of the sacred, we become more centered in the one to whom the tradition points and in whom we live and move and have our being.

    A Christian is one who does this within the framework of the Christian tradition, just as a Jew is one who does this within the framework of the Jewish tradition, a Muslim, within the framework of the Muslim tradition, and so forth. And I cannot believe that God cares which of these we are. All are paths of relationship and transformation.


    I agree with Borg on that. I think that it is great that people live deeply and fully within the Christian tradition. I also think it is great that people live deeply and fully within the Buddhist tradition, or the Hindu tradition, or the Jewish tradition.

    Pastor Bob works in a denomination in which there are many people in power with whom he disagrees with, but he stays because he is serving God. He is a living, breathing example of tolerance. What are you? How are you serving the Divine? Are you his policeman? Does He need one?

    I am not policing Pastor Bob. But his disparaging comments about other faiths have, as you can tell, hit a major hot button with me. I'm sorry if this is taking us down a long and painful road. I am sure that Bob is great guy in many ways. But I find intolerance towards other faiths offensive. Sorry, but that's just the way I feel.

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  78. I can't help but chuckle to myself--Jim has apparently dropped his fatwah against Pastor Bob from a few months ago. Jim, Bob is an intelligent human being with much more theological training than either of us and is perfectly capable of defending himself.

    ---

    I see as one of the truly liberating ideas of Calvin is that God chooses to redeem us, not vice versa. It is an elegant solution (and arguably a more scriptural one) to the pagan baby problem that the Catholics tried by inventing the concept of Limbo. An infinite God has the power to save anyone God wants, and a loving God wants to.

    Human beings have an innate need to connect with something larger than ourselves, with the divine if you will. I as a Christian believe it is a need to reach out to God. Like the blind men and the elephant, I don't think any of us have it 100% correct. We're human; anything we get involved in is bound to get messed up (now there's my inner Calvinist). But I believe that a God that loves us this much is willing to forgive us and longs to bring us close.

    I may not believe that Muhammad received the final revelation of God, I may not believe in the Buddha, or Brahmin, or in the thousands of kami. I acknowledge that the Jew does not believe as I do in Jesus Christ as the divine manifestation of God on Earth. However, I do believe that God loves all of us and loves that we each are trying to reach God. I firmly believe that it pains God to see us hurting each other in God's name and would much rather see us loving each other.

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  79. mystical

    Let's see: "Intolerance of intolerance is not intolerant." But by definition isn't intolerance intolerant? What you have stated is a reverse tautology. Water is Water. True statement yes? Water is not water. False statement. Intolerance is intolerance. How can any kind of intolerance not be intolerance? If you prefer to continue to think of yourself as being tolerant because you are intolerant of intolerance go right ahead. I'm going to disagree with you. It sounds to me as if you are saying because I am not like you there is something wrong with me. You don't have to like what I believe. I don't have to agree with what you believe.

    John and I get along because we disagree and still love each other. That is tolerance.

    As to my being friends with people who disagree with me, I have no problem with it. We disagree and we agree to disagree. That is the essence of real tolerance. My Jewish friends know that I will be right with them at the front of the protest if anyone says that they are less than human because they are Jewish.

    Now a couple of theological observations. I believe everyone has a relationship with God. As flycandler said, we are made that way. We have not choice. I also agree with him about the doctrine of election. It is the nature of people's relationship with God that concerns me. God loves everyone. Will God elect everyone? I don't know. In a very real sense that is God's business, not mine. There is Biblical data that suggests that God may elect everyone and other Biblical data that God will not. How do we sort it out? I don't think we can do it by number of references for and against. My personal preference is by themes in the Bible.

    As to my world view, you overreach by suggesting that my world view is less mature than yours. Again you seem to suggest that you are right and I am wrong. I accept the possibility, intellectually, that you may be right and I may be wrong. Can you not be tolerant enough to afford me the same?

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  80. Was there a fatwah, Fly? When you stated that Pastor Bob agreed with President Clinton that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare", you invited me to scroll up and read the Conversations with Bob thread. I replied "No thanks! I can only stand so much in one day." I wasn't following that thread at all at the time, and never followed up. Don't trust me, click here and see for yourself.

    That's hardly a fatwah! That's all. Just wanted to clarify. Have a nice day.

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  81. Bob, I am feeling guilty about picking on you, and this isn't even either one of our blogs. I think I've said all I want to say at this time.

    Take care.

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  82. Although I agree and disagree with some of the wino's theology, I don't even think that's the point.

    When a church holds a "discussion" it is very carefully planned by the New Wineskins that no other opinions will be permitted. Some people in churches just believe everything that is in front of them and they don't know any better. This is how the New Wineskins gets votes from the theologically destitude typical church. Just take a look at their "bulletin inserts" (trash).

    Check out Weaver's speech where he says that the New Wineskins are worth dying for. This is so disgusting.

    Isn't anyone watching this - seeing the danger in preventing other opinions - I am the only one at my church to speak out against this and I am practically tortured for it. I feel like the one person who sees the rise of a Bin Laden character in the presbyterian church.

    I am so glad to see that I am not alone in this that there are others who take a look at these New Wineskins and are disgusted. They are *not* worshiping God. They are worshiping themselves and their pocket books. The more exposure they get, the more highly compensated personal appearances they can make.

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  83. Found it:

    http://ong9d.rmxpres.com/Accordent/data/NWAC3/msh.htm

    new wineskins are worth dying for:
    18:37

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