In my younger days, I was saddled with Jesus saying that it would be better to have a large stone tied around my neck and that I be cast into the lake than for me to tear down the faith of the little ones. I used that teaching to defend my unwillingness to challenge any of the "little ones".Bingo! Shame, bullying, and threats come from the outside all of the time, of course. The problem is when clergy internalize these threats. I received a warning the other day from Rev. Tom "Too Holy for the PCUSA" Gray that was printed in The Layman. Check this out (millstone threat in red):
I was wrong; and now at the age of 66 and now standing on the edge of retirement I have come to understand that my fear had more to do with my own need to be "acceptable" and the ill-founded concern for the advancement of my "career", than the fear of being thrown in the lake.
In 1 John 2 the writer delineates three stages of Xn growth: (1) little children, (2) young adults, and (3) mature Xns. So often I and a vast number of educated United Methodist ministers (who ought to know better) have opted to retard the growth of our "faithful" by preaching a harmless, self-centered, salvation gospel to the static congregations in our charge. When the struggles of the"young adults" have arisen, we, for the most part, have smoothed them over and put the children back into their beds. We have ignored the yearning of so many of our faithful to understand the "mysteries of our faith" that are reserved for those who are mature.
My fear to share my understanding of the "mysteries" is rooted in my own cowardice; and perhaps for my own selfish concern for my "career". So much for fear.
A response regarding John Shuck
November 2, 2007
It seems that John Shuck [Letters, October 31, 2007] has one real interest – himself. His Web site is clever, but built upon typical 19th-century skepticism. He is deeply sociological, but lacking in any real theological depth.
When he gets down to issues, he mentions important political ones, but he only gives glancing authority to Jesus, saying that he might "have something to say." (I know he was being ironic, but his Web site and his association with the "Jesus Seminar" demonstrate that he doesn't really believe in Jesus as the Gospels reveal Him).
Looking at his blog, it is evident that John rejects, even mocks, much of what Scripture says, settling for a Jesus of the "Seminar's" design. It would be good for John to look to what Jesus really has said:
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)
"There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day." (John 12:48)
And, since John is a teacher/pastor, he will be held to a higher standard:
"But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." (Matthew 18:6)
If I believed what he claims to believe, I wouldn't want to believe what those verses say. Since I do believe Scripture, John needs to heed the warning – the words that Jesus actually did say.
Kirk of the Hills
P.S. I wonder if The Layman Online should print one of John's blogs verbatim, simply to illustrate the problem and attitude in progressivism.
Editor's Note: As requested, a blog posted by Rev. Shuck on Oct. 31 is reprinted below (edited for language).
New Winos Are Too Holy for PCUSA
Yeah, yeah. Ho hum. We will always have the fearmongers with us. With a snarl and a spit they will shout "Jesus Seminar" as though they are naming demons from Hell.
Thanks, Rev. Archer, for your honesty. We cannot allow the fearmongers to cause fear within us.