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!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Loving Discipline



Now this was when the church wasn't afraid to act on its convictions.





Oh sweet Lord, take us back to those biblical values!







Give me that lovin' discipline! Give it to me! Give it to me for Jeeee-zusss!














Mmmmm! I feel that repentance comin' on!






Thank you, Rev. Jim, for lovin' me with your discipline!

23 comments:

  1. I have been to the torture museum in Toledo, Spain. Many of the instruments on display and the descriptions about their use were from the time of the Inquisition. I am surprised that some of these radical fundamentalists have not replicated this museum here To educate us heretics who dare to think and discover what will be waiting us. Kind of like what one of our local Baptist churches does every Halloween.

    What is wrong with using our free will and good brains that we were endowed with?

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  2. Bill42,

    Let me share from another perspective.

    Personally, I would never want to coerce anyone into anything. How does that reflect the love of Jesus Christ? I surely don't know. Plus, it's not real. I mean who cares that people only mouth the right things, if their hearts are far from God.

    Plus, I also realize that we can never be a perfect church. And, we also need to be a place where people can grow spiritually, and ask honest questions, express doubts, and spiritual struggle.

    Ok, all that being said. We're also supposed to be a place where the gospel is preached, and Jesus Christ is lifted up, where hurting, seeking people can find their rest in Him.

    What should committed Christians do when it becomes obvious that a church leader has left the gospel, has just rejected something so central to our faith such as the unique divinity of Jesus Christ, the reality of the incarnation, for instance. We are so much more that liturgial unitarians. (By we, I'm speaking of all the mainline denominations.)

    Does it really show genuine love and concern for Christian people in the church to not open their mouths. Pretend it all doesn't matter.

    What about seekers, folks new in the faith, or just kids and young people who are being catechized in our churches. Where is our responsiblity, and how do we show the love of Christ to them?

    I don't think there is one easy answer. I certainly would not want to see anyone ditched from their position, or lose their livlihood. I would not want to do anything, or have a spirit about me, to drive someone futher away from the Lord.

    But, I also think it vitally important that our church leaders be able to honestly and fully affirm and honor their ordination vows for the health and mission of the Christian church, and for their own sakes, spiritually, as well. So, I'm caught in a tension, here. I care.

    Does this make me into a radical fundamentalist, unloving, judgemental bigot? Hope not.
    I'm trying to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ.

    Are you able to understand?

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  3. "Does it really show genuine love and concern for Christian people in the church to not open their mouths. Pretend it all doesn't matter."

    Discipline in the PCUSA is meant to bring restoration. It is meant to bring the offender back into communion with his/her brothers and sisters. It is occasionally necessary, and it should absolutely be the last resort in most cases.

    However, it should be done carefully, soberly, and most of all Biblically. I would think that having to resort to such discipline would be quite sad for the person filing charges.

    The issue isn't whether or not using discipline is OK. It is. It is part of our polity and has been for a long time. The issue that I think John is making here is the disconnect between what those initiating discipline say ("We're doing it out of love!") and what they actually do.

    What we *actually* see going on in the PCUSA is very different, Grace. We see serial litigators filing dozens of charges against complete strangers all across the country. I have seen some of these written complains, and what I have seen is shocking. Speaking only of the complaints I have seen: Not only do these serial litigators not have the common courtesy, decency, and respect to actually face the accused before filing charges (thus the discipline is not really their last resort), and not only are these written complaints so completely and ineptly prepared that they're embarrassing to read (thus, they are not even taking the time to do a decent job out of respect for the process if nothing else), and not only do these litigators not even have the common decency to actually show up at hearings or respond to questions from Investigating Committees (again, demonstrating that they can't even be bothered to show respect for the process, the committee investigating, OR the accused), but then these people actually crow publicly about having filed these random, ineptly prepared, poorly defended charges. They never miss an opportunity to speak to the press about them. They even make spectacles out of filing the charges! They even go so far as to stage events to hand these complaints to the accused. In one case, charges were handed to a woman on the way back from the bathroom at General Assembly in front of reporters.

    But they totally love us, and as they claim, all of this is done out of love, love, love. *hug* ^_^

    Yeah. Right.

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  4. And who cares that people mouth the "wrong" things if their heart is close to God.

    Since when did Christianity become about right thinking instead of "do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God"

    This "Gospel" that is preached. Where is the "news" part? And where is the "good" part?

    That disembodied souls that had right thoughts before their bodies died get to live for ever? Is that the bottom line of what Jesus taught? Somehow I don't get that from the gospel narratives or the teachings of Paul or Peter or James or Timothy or John or Jude.

    It comes down to two questions.

    1) What exactly IS the Gospel?
    2) How does a person live their life in such a way that they BECOME the Gospel?

    The second question speaks to the credibility of the person who articulates the message.

    Hanging heretics from the rafters is a tough legacy to shake.

    In essence it says that accusations of "heresy" have the opposite of the intended effect. If you even use the word you stand beside the perpetrators of the inquisition.

    There is no sin, real or imagined, that gives the church the right to use that word. Our right to use it has been revoked.

    But our right to do what is just, to love mercy and to be merciful, and to be forgiving and humble in all things at the feet of our Lord, these rights have not been revoked

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  5. "If you even use the word you stand beside the perpetrators of the inquisition."

    Well, I'd say that's a bit much. Contrary to popular belief, we don't actually hang or burn people any more. That's like saying that any Catholic stands beside the perpetrators of the inquisition because they're Catholic. Sounds kind of Godwin-esque to me.

    "There is no sin, real or imagined, that gives the church the right to use that word. Our right to use it has been revoked."

    Meh. I don't live in the 1200's. Indeed, if I use the word heresy, I should be aware of it's cultural and historical context, but I live in a new and really quite different cultural and historical context here eight centuries later.

    Or to put it more succinctly: This faggot ain't afraid of words. ;)

    (I think that makes my point, no?)

    I don't mind the notion of filing charges and keeping discipline. And we don't just do discipline over heresy, we do it for a whole variety of reasons, many of them quite good, actually. I have, as a member of our Presbytery's PJC been involved in cases that have very likely saved a person's ministry.

    The thing is, we are a completely voluntary organization. If someone doesn't like what the PCUSA is about, they're welcome to leave at any time. If they continue to stay, and do something outside of what we've collectively decided the rules are, then I don't think discipline is a bad thing. If they disagree, they're always free to just leave.

    But as I said above, we have certain requirements and expectations regarding our discipline. One of the requirements is that we don't simply mouth the right words about loving our enemy, but that we actually act in loving ways toward our enemy.

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  6. Ok, Alan. I can see what you're saying. No, it's not right. You are right to object, and to be concerned about some of this.

    Jodie, I agree that the Christian faith is more than about having right thoughts. The "good news" is that God loves us so much, that Jesus Christ by His dying and rising again puts us right with God, and with each other. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.

    But, here's the thing, Jodie, unless there is sound teaching in the church relating to the reality of all this, how can people see their need, and even come to Christ? How will they know Him?

    It's about more that just saying the name, J E S U S, and paying mere lip service to the Nicene Creed. Who is this Jesus, and what does He actually mean in our lives?

    Can you see what I'm saying? It's entirely possible for people to admire the teaching of Christ, and lead very moral and ethical lives humanly speaking, to even work for justice...

    But, this is not necessarily the same thing as really knowing Jesus Christ as Savior, and following and worshipping Him as Lord.

    Awhile back, on one of the blogs, we actually had an Episcopal priest sometimes share who called Himself "a high church atheist," and seemed to completely rejoice in heresy. It was so sad!

    Hey, Jodie, if you knew me personally, I think the churches should be as open and inclusive as possible. I don't want to see anyone turned away.

    But, if we lose the proclamation of the gospel, we've lost everything, the very center of what we're all about as Christians. We're so much more than just a social action organization with a spiritual twist.

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  7. "But, here's the thing, Jodie, unless there is sound teaching in the church relating to the reality of all this, how can people see their need, and even come to Christ? How will they know Him?"

    Grace, while I agree with most of what you're saying, I think that paragraph goes a bit too far. We Presbyterians have traditionally believed in the doctrine of election. that means that God chooses whom He will choose to be saved. That salvation comes through Grace alone, not through anything we do, in fact even our faith is a gift of Grace.

    That doesn't mean we should preach night is day, and up is down. Obviously we *want* to preach the Good News as accurately and forthrightly as possible, but it does take a lot of the pressure off. We don't save souls, God does. We Presbyterians have also traditionally ascribed to the doctrine of Total Depravity, meaning that nothing we do is ever completely good. We will always make mistakes in matters of interpretation, we will always do a less than perfect job of preaching the Good News.

    So, how can people see their need? How can they come to Christ? How can they know Him? For the most part, I think He'll figure that out Himself.

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  8. It's entirely possible for people to admire the teaching of Christ, and lead very moral and ethical lives humanly speaking, to even work for justice...

    But, this is not necessarily the same thing as really knowing Jesus Christ as Savior, and following and worshipping Him as Lord.


    Oh my, imagine how terrible it is that there are people out there who lead moral and ethical lives and who work for justice but who don't share in Grace's theology. Horror of horrors!

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  9. Grace,

    I admire your pluck. Sorry you didn't get very far over on JB's blog talking about the Bible and how there are evangelicals (like our dear Grace) who may interpret the Bible differently on matters of sexuality. This little interchange is worth repeating.


    "Grace writes:

    Hey, Dave, I just wanted to come back, and also thank you for expressing your concern toward me.

    I'm wondering if you've ever had a chance to check out some of the websites, such as "Evangelicals Concerned," or "Inclusive Orthodoxy?" Are you open to looking at how some orthodox, evangelical Christian people interpret the Scripture in a different way relating to this sexuality issue?

    If you do get a chance to look at the Bible studies on these sites, I surely would like to hear your, or anyone else's opinion.

    God bless.

    Your sister in Christ,
    Becky Rome
    Hershey, Pa."

    Typical Grace. We all know her and love her, (and you know I do, poophead).


    Dave responds that he isn't quite sure about that, and he has some rules. Then invites her to chat about it at his blog.

    Wouldn't want to soil Jim's blog with that.

    Then Jim (the closer) says:

    "Dave Moody has made a good point. I think this has pretty well run its course.

    Let's take private banter among participants offline now. Chatter to your heart's content, and I hope some good dialogue occurs. But this thread is getting stretched out at this point."

    God I love this!

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  10. "Oh my, imagine how terrible it is that there are people out there who lead moral and ethical lives and who work for justice but who don't share in Grace's theology. Horror of horrors!"

    Horror? Terrible? Hmm... didn't sound to me like Grace was criticizing people who do good works, but aren't Christian. It sounded to me like she was talking about those who do good works, and call themselves Christian, yet depart from the traditional definition of the term.

    John's blog, and his rules and I am not interested in being blog-nanny, but IMHO, it's one thing to jump all over the fundies when they comment here, when they deserve it (and they often do), but it isn't clear to me why we would need to be so ... well ... overly sensitive, and jump all over everyone.

    Perhaps conclusion jumping is becoming a varsity sport around here? I hope not. Or perhaps there's more here to these than meets the eye? No idea. But in any event, the response seems out of scale with the original statement.

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  11. Alan, I've had many discussions with Grace in the past. She does not accept the legitimacy of other people's faith besides her own. If she were a religious pluralist, then I would accept your interpretation of her comments. However, she is not a religious pluralist. So when she talks about people who live good lives and work for justice but don't share her own theology, she is also saying that there is something defective about their spiritual or religious lives.

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  12. " So when she talks about people who live good lives and work for justice but don't share her own theology, she is also saying that there is something defective about their spiritual or religious lives."

    Ah...gotcha.

    I guess that's me then, too. Though I wouldn't use the word "defective", I'd use the word "incorrect". I too have this rather annoying habit of believing that my theology is correct, and that other theologies that are different from mine are incorrect. (I try to be humble about this, recognizing that total depravity means my judgements about such things are going to be tainted by sin, just as theirs are, but that doesn't keep me from saying that I think someone is wrong, if I believe it.)

    For example, I'm clearly not a fan of fundamentalism. Though fundies may do good works such as giving blood, helping little old ladies across the street, and feeding the poor, I'd still say there is something defective about their spiritual or religious lives.

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  13. I think people with a lot of different theologies can have a relationship with God. To me, what matters more is how loving that person is, rather than what they happen to be believe about Divine omnipotence or theodicy or the Trinity or whether God even exists.

    The problem with fundamentalism is that, in practice, it translates into unloving behavior--such as bigotry against gays, to site the obvious issue here. But to the extent that a person is loving, I just think that theology doesn't matter. To the extent that the theology diminishes one's loving behavior, that represents hindrance against allowing God to work through them. But to me, it isn't an either-or kind of thing. It isn't a case of people either being in a relationship with God (if they have the right beliefs), or not being in one (if they don't). To me, everyone has a relationship with God. Some of us are just better at listening to what God tells us than others are. :)

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  14. "I think people with a lot of different theologies can have a relationship with God."

    True, but that only goes so far. I'm not about to say that the Methodists, for example, are going to hell because of their damnable Arminianism, or that the Catholics are going to hell for the damnable and pernicious heresy of transubstantiation. But I don't think they've got it quite right either.

    "To me, everyone has a relationship with God."

    And for me that would be too far. That doesn't mean they can't be good people, and do good things.

    If we take a human example.... I can't have a relationship with a man who is not my husband and say that's the same as having a relationship with my husband. I might still be a good person, but I'd guess that my husband would be a bit put out, and I'd guess that my ability to be open and honest and caring about his needs, wants, desires, hopes for our relationship would be severely curtailed. At the very least I'd probably not get my weekly happy Saturday morning breakfast of homemade waffles.

    Hmm...imagine that... Marriage as an analogy for Christ's relationship to us. Who'da thunk it? Oh right, God did. LOL (Sometimes I just crack myself up.)

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  15. I can't have a relationship with a man who is not my husband and say that's the same as having a relationship with my husband.

    But while there are many men, one of whom might be your husband, there is only one God. I would argue that this one God exists in constant relationship with all of us, although the quality of that relationship indeed can vary. It is true that some relationships with God are closer or more intimate than others. However, I don't think that has anything to do with theology. Some people are just more spiritual, more mystical, or whatever--regardless of theology or faith tradition.

    Obviously, atheists have no conscious relationship with God, although those atheists who are moral or who otherwise promote justice may, in their own way, be listening to God, even if they don't identify God as the source of what they do. I think that whenever we love, God is acting through us.

    More to the point, I would not presume to judge the relationship with God that other people have. If they seem to be spiritual, if they are transformed by their spiritual relationship, then it would be the height of arrogance for me to presume to judge the quality of that relationship simply because their theology doesn't match mine.

    There is a great quote I saw the other day in another blog that sums this up, from John Hick:

    "Applying a kind of philosophical Golden Rule, it would be unreasonable not to grant to religious experience within other traditions what I affirm of it within my own tradition"

    I like this idea of a philosophical Golden Rule.

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  16. "But while there are many men, one of whom might be your husband, there is only one God."

    My husband would argue there is only one Husband, for all intents and purposes. ;) And given that I do the ironing, I'd agree (thank God.)

    But there are many other gods, little "g".

    "Obviously, atheists have no conscious relationship with God, although those atheists who are moral or who otherwise promote justice may, in their own way, be listening to God, even if they don't identify God as the source of what they do."

    I agree. Though there is plenty Biblical precedent for God acting through others, who are not believers, ie. Pharaoh, Cyrus, etc.

    "More to the point, I would not presume to judge the relationship with God that other people have. "

    I don't have a problem with judging. I just have a little humility about it, given that I think we're all, as Calvin would say, "miserable worms."

    *squish*

    That is, unlike the fundies, you'll notice that always preface my remarks with "I believe..." rather than "God says...."

    I don't presume to speak for Him. While I might judge the rightness or wrongness of their theology, understand that I do NOT judge their salvation, as the fundies do: ie. "The Evangelicals says with certainty, 'We know (because the Bible tells me so), that those who practice homosexuality are in danger of missing the kingdom of heaven.'” [an "evangelical" commenter from Jim Berkely's blog.]

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  17. This was an interesting set of comments. Thanks to all of you.

    See, all it takes is a post of picture of a woman in a Confederate bikini and we end up with a deep theological discussion.

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  18. Grace,

    I was born and raised in the Church, preacher's kid and grandkid on both sides, surrounded by very theologically minded individuals. I was fully grown when it dawned on me that your definition

    "The "good news" is that God loves us so much, that Jesus Christ by His dying and rising again puts us right with God, and with each other. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself."

    is not what the gospels actually say the Gospel is.

    You can borrow certain passages to defend that thesis, but push comes to shove, taken on their own terms, that is not what the gospels say, or what Jesus says.

    The "great commission" is for us to teach what Jesus taught.

    If I were to agree with you that sound teaching in the church is necessary, I would have to follow that up by saying that I don't think there has been sound teaching in the church, as a rule, for a very very long time.

    If ever.

    Alan, I think thing that history matters much more than you give it credit for. I think that learning from the mistakes of the past, even if that past is 400, 800 or 1500 years ago is indeed important. The doctrines of today are themselves that old.

    Unless of course you don't think they apply either.

    I think that if we truly understood the context for the doctrines of the church and the context for the church today, we could quite easily derive adequate doctrines for today. It's the intentional anachronism of our vocabulary that has allowed us to get into the mess we find ourselves in today.

    I think the term "heresy" is itself one of those anachronisms.

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  19. Alan, I have to agree that only God's spirit can bring people to faith in Christ. Otherwise, for sure, I would not be in the church. No way!!

    Wow, Jodie, you do have quite an impressive pedigree. :)


    I guess we'll have to agree to disagree then. I do think that in the synoptics, Jesus often spoke of the good news of the kingdom of God, meaning that in Him, the Messiah, the rule of God was at hand.

    But, taken as a whole, I don't feel that the gospel Paul preached which he claimed to receive by revelation of Jesus Christ, differs from the teaching of Jesus in the synoptics.

    For me, it all fits together.

    ((John)) love ya, too, big guy!!

    I do want to add, folks, that there is this terrible misconception out there that anyone who affirms GLBT inclusion in the church is in spiritual rebellion, has rejected the gospel, or at least in some way takes very lightly the authority of Scripture for the faith and practice of the church.

    This isn't true, certainly not in my situation, I can tell you for sure.

    It just seems that any affirming position relating to a pro-gay position is associated even with heresy.

    I think it's vitally important if we are ever going to reach these conservative people, that we're able to frame this discussion in a different way, and that these mental connections are broken.

    My honest opinion for what it's worth anyway, guys...

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  20. "It just seems that any affirming position relating to a pro-gay position is associated even with heresy."

    I agree. We've seen that several times in the last week or so.

    "I think it's vitally important if we are ever going to reach these conservative people, that we're able to frame this discussion in a different way, and that these mental connections are broken."

    I'm not sure how we can force them to frame these issues in any other way than heresy or apostasy. Remember, that's now how *we* frame this issues, that's their bag.

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  21. Grace wrote:

    "I do want to add, folks, that there is this terrible misconception out there that anyone who affirms GLBT inclusion in the church is in spiritual rebellion, has rejected the gospel, or at least in some way takes very lightly the authority of Scripture for the faith and practice of the church.

    This isn't true, certainly not in my situation, I can tell you for sure.

    It just seems that any affirming position relating to a pro-gay position is associated even with heresy.

    I think it's vitally important if we are ever going to reach these conservative people, that we're able to frame this discussion in a different way, and that these mental connections are broken."


    God bless ya, beloved. Only you can go to China.

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  22. See, all it takes is a post of picture of a woman in a Confederate bikini and we end up with a deep theological discussion.

    It's what we love about this blog, John!

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  23. BTW, speaking of torture, did you hear about the "motivational speaker" in Utah who waterboarded a salesman and told the onlooking coworkers, "now, I want you to try to sell as hard as he's trying to breathe"?

    Welcome to America in the two-thousandsies.

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