Monday, December 30, 2013

Horus Ruins Christmas

Lutheran Satire pokes fun at those who seek to discredit the Biblical story of Jesus' birth by claiming that Christianity stole it from ancient pagan mythology.  Enjoy!

There's more in the article "Was Jesus a Copy of Horus, Mithras, Krishna, Dionysus and Other Pagan Gods?"

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The True Meaning of Christmas

"God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him" (1 John 4:9).

Friday, December 20, 2013

Episcopal Priest Supports Polygamy

In an article entitled "How I learned to love polygamy," Episcopal priest Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio shares how she changed her mind: by watching the reality television show "Sister Wives."  Watching the show, she learned that polygamy is not necessarily abusive to women. She learned that the Brown family are nice religious people who care deeply about their children.  And she learned that, for the Brown family, "the goal of cultivating a community that together can reach heaven" is paramount. 

"Ultimately," she writes, "I support the decision to loosen restrictions on polygamy because families such as the Browns exist who endeavor every day to live kind, healthy lives that are not harmful, not abusive."  What's not to support, right?

She also links support for polygamy to support for same-sex blessings:

I also believe there are theoretical reasons why, as a Christian, it makes sense to support healthy polygamous practices. It’s a natural extension for those Christians who support same-sex marriage on theological grounds. But even for those opposed to same-sex marriage, polygamy is documented in the Bible, thereby giving its existence warrant.

Read it all.

A clergy colleague shared that when he recently attended a children's conference, Episcopalians there offered an extensive defense of polyamory and BDSM.  He asked them, "What do I say to my friends to whom we promised same-sex blessings are not a slippery slope?"  One Episcopal priest replied, "What's so bad about slippery slopes?"

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Presiding Bishop's Jesus-Free Gospel

Writing at The Sub-Dean's Stall, the Rev. Canon Robert Hendrickson highlights a troubling characteristic of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori: in her feast day messages, she rarely if ever mentions Jesus by name.  Fr. Hendrickson writes:

Whether it is time to consider the Incarnation or the Resurrection, the Presiding Bishop is consistent in her unwillingness to mention the person in whom our whole faith and hope rests. ... 
At this point, with repeated messages that omit reference to Christ, it can only seem intentional that she not actually reference the singular significance of the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ let alone his saving action. ... 
The vagueness of the message communicates an unwillingness to proclaim the most basic tenets of the faith. Her opacity evinces a lack of comfort with the essential doctrines of the Christian faith and borders on gnosticism. 
I use the term gnosticism as her message is so densely worded as to be accessible only to those with an inside knowledge of contemporary theological obfuscative language. I long for a leader with clarity and theological acumen who can articulate the abiding power of the Incarnation such that all who hear might be drawn the the Living Christ.

Using Wordle, Fr. Hendrickson also offers a striking visual contrast between the Presiding Bishop's 2013 Christmas message and Pope Francis' encyclical Lumen Fidei.  

Read it all.

In a previous posting, I have noted the Presiding Bishop's failure to mention the name of Jesus in an Easter message.  There's also her denial of special revelation.  And then there's her May 12, 2013 sermon on Acts 16:16-34 in which she inverts the Gospel by equating the liberating power of Christ with the demonic and the demonic with the Holy Spirit (as one critic rightly notes, this is tantamount to seeing the devil as beautiful and holy).  The list could go on and on.

Given the consistency of her preaching and teaching over the years, it should come as no surprise that the Presiding Bishop continues to proclaim a Jesus-free Gospel.

Friday, December 6, 2013

What's Right with Orthodoxy

In the midst of mainline seminaries that are tanking financially and sometimes falling off the deep end theologically, Mark Tooley at Juicy Ecumenism writes about a seminary President that's going against the grain:

United Seminary President Wendy Deichmann’s column “What’s Right with Orthodoxy” offers a refreshing articulation of Christian essentials from one of United Methodism’s most important leaders. Across 5 years she has presided over the stunning revival of a once nearly dead school, a rebirth rooted in its transition from old line Protestant liberalism to classic Christian beliefs.

In response to the criticism that orthodoxy is old fashioned, unreasonable, regressive, and oppressive, Deichmann writes:

Although some will assume or argue that Christian orthodoxy is made up of an oppressively long list of doctrines used to subjugate and control people, history will confirm that Christian orthodoxy is most often expressed in a stunningly short list of beliefs that affirm the Holy Trinity and salvation offered in Jesus Christ. Orthodoxy as historically understood does not wed believers to a long inventory of theological, political, and social doctrines. Rather, orthodoxy as we are using the term here and as expressed in Christian history is made up of a relatively short list of core doctrines that have to do with the heart of the gospel. For example, orthodoxy is not even definitive on the nature of atonement. Rather, it generates conversation among believers in the gospel about the nature of Christ’s death and how we then should live. 
Contrary to the assertions of its adversaries that it is regressive and backwards-looking, a brief survey of Christian history indicates that orthodoxy has inspired some of the most forward-looking, prophetic movements in the life of the church. Great teachers and leaders come immediately to mind: Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Augustine, Frederick Douglass, Irenaeus, Richard Allen, Billy Graham, Jarena Lee, and Anna Howard Shaw, as well as Susanna, Charles, and John Wesley. These giants of the faith upheld orthodox Christianity and changed not only the church but the world in commendable ways. They also left their critics in the dust spiritually, theologically, and historically speaking. Speaking of dust, one needs only to dust off and reread one’s church history to be reminded of the triumphs of truth over corruption, the well-fought fights for good over evil and social progress over oppressive, status quo politics by Christians who held tenaciously to orthodoxy.

In addition to noting that Christian orthodoxy provides common ground for ecumenism, Deichmann also focuses on what's really at stake in affirming orthodoxy:

Why have fiercely apologetic Christians cared so much about orthodoxy that they defied kings, emperors, torture, and death in defense of the “faith once delivered to the saints”? Why did it matter so much? Why was it dearer than prestige, wealth, and even life itself? For those who have believed Christian orthodoxy to be true, it is truth itself, the foundation for all else. 
Orthodox belief for its adherents is an essential matter not only for this life, but for eternal life. In the midst of a world quickly fading away, it is the essence of what was, is, and will remain forever. The gospel truth expressed in orthodox Christianity is worth living for, worth giving away to one’s friends and enemies, and worth dying for. This is not just because it is orthodox, but fundamentally because it is true. 
Orthodoxy represents the message, identity, and mission of the Christian church through all ages. It is the heart of the gospel. It does not change with the seasons and cultures of humanity because it represents the core revelation of God in Jesus Christ in human history.

Deichmann's column offers an important articulation of why Christian orthodoxy is a necessary (if not sufficient) foundation for Church vitality.  And her column also helps us understand why the repudiation of orthodoxy undermines the Church's witness to the truth of the gospel.  As Deichmann notes, "what is right about Christian orthodoxy is the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ that it proclaims to us and to the whole world."  

Read it all.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Musical Interlude with Dustin Kensrue: "Come Lord Jesus"

Come Lord Jesus, come
Come Lord Jesus, come

Come again to claim your own
Come to reap what you have sown
All creation weeps and groans for you

It's to you that we belong
It's to you we lift our song
How our spirits look and long for you

Like a thief in dead of night
Come, our everlasting light
Let your brilliance shame the brightest day

With your voice like endless seas
Wielding swords and stars and keys
Bring the nations to their knees, we pray

For though fitful is our flame
You're from age to age the same
Jesus, faithful is your name and true

So until the sun does rise
Till your trumpets rend the skies
Help us keep our restless eyes on you