An apology

Discussion in 'The Commons' started by Lowly Layman, May 17, 2023.

  1. ByOldEyes

    ByOldEyes Member

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    This past week, I've been following this thread a little closely, and reflecting a bit on your thoughts OP. It's of interest to me because there was a phase in which I found that almost all the tenets of progressive Christianity you listed were more convincing than not, and at the same time, felt shame for having believed various traditional views I maintained before, and cringed with embarrassment at the amateur arguments I posted online to defend them. So upon reading your post, I feel that I relate in a way, though one dissimilarity was that I never fully embraced the idea that homosexual sex is a morally acceptable act. Nevertheless, in my mind, there was a preponderance of evidence against various traditional norms, including a male-only priesthood, biblical inerrancy, literalism, and other things.

    Much has pulled me far away from these progressive notions, intellectually, psychologically and introspectively. I'll drop a few small things to think about. Some of these things might not address your exact process of thought, and I don't presume to know your exact sentiments, feelings, and experiences. Every person's mind is unique.

    First, you seem to have quite a bit of shame, and this can have an impact on intellectual convictions. The reverse can be true as well, granted. But it is not always clear, not even to one's own self, which one is influencing the other. When you're surrounded by people who have a disdain, no matter how gentle or passive that disdain is, for things like opposition to women's ordination or homosexuality, you will inevitably feel that pressure. You begin to feel (and are made to feel) like a sociopath, full of hate and void of empathy, neanderthalic, oppressive, and so on. It's very clear from your post that you feel immense shame, as I did, for embracing beliefs that everyone in the canonical church embraced without the slightest bit of shame, doubt, reservation, or repentance until the last century— everyone, including the great saints of history, who we annually venerate and celebrate. More precisely, we venerate and celebrate the divine gift of holiness which they received from God and lived out— holiness which is an example for us.

    Considering this, do you think the change of heart and mind you feel might be grounded, not in careful analysis of Christian truth, but rather in the prevalent resistance and disgust from the people around you? It seems it is not grounded in the scriptures, even though you have indirectly alluded to 1 John 4 as being somehow relevant. But you have confined scripture, or at least the literal interpretation thereof, to "texts written between 2000-5000 years ago" that are, as you imply, profitable for little to no teaching, reproof, or correction, with the possible exception of what is written in 1 John 4, which you seem to interpret to the word, or literally. Somehow, God is love, and this is preeminently and literally true, though it comes from a 2000-5000 year old text that should not be interpreted literally.

    This progressive view of scripture is mauled without mercy by the likes of Richard Dawkins. Christianity is useless, or at the very least, unnecessary, if it offers nothing that can't be had by one who rejects it. It may even be dangerous to accept in any way at all, considering that most biblical teaching, literally understood, does not align with progressive values. So, God forbid you become an atheist, but the sentiment you have come to embrace will logically lead you to that conclusion.

    If you can pick and choose from the bible what deserves belief, while discarding what you deem to be too old to believe, you have done little more than select from scripture what satisfies your own personal worldview, agenda and prejudices, consequently enthroning these aspects of your mind, and subjugating scripture to a rank subservient and submissive to you. How then exactly and why does it have any more value than Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?

    One last thing. I've lost my share of debates and at times been stumped by seemingly irrefutable information which contradicts my faith and values. I've also at times learned new information that reverses this effect, and what was previously "irrefutable" became, in my mind, refuted. I don't consider being stumped a reason to abandon ship. Being blown to and fro by every wind of doctrine is not productive. Theological progressivists make this a way of life, every few decades (or even more frequently) concocting a new belief, value, or cause, and then abruptly accusing people of lacking love for not accepting it. Little do they seem to realize that 50 years later, they will themselves be accused of the very same thing in relation to the latest progressive inventions. It's madness. Traditional tenets of orthodox Christian belief, practice and morality, from exclusively male priests to monogamous heterosexual marriage only, are not cultural happenstance, or hateful prejudices that our fathers in the faith maintained and defended. There is deep, careful theology behind these unpopular beliefs, and they, along with many other things, are maintained, to safeguard our Christian faith from cultural happenstance in the first place.
     
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  2. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Great voices, these! Love to see new members on the forums
     
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  3. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    It is not the VALUE or RELEVANCE of scripture which is changed by revelation inspired by the Holy Spirit, it is the overall INTERPRETATION and UNDERSTANDING of it which may change according to our level of enlightenment. This effect, I suspect, is always accompanied by an emotional affirmation from the Spirit him/her self. This dynamic way in which God many change our understanding of things hidden in the scriptures is what makes me doubt the concrete and fixed nature of 'Systematic Theological' insight into the 'carved in stone' concepts of immovably fixed meaning falsely applied to the totality of the scriptures. The scriptures only contain The Law, they are not THE eternal immovable LAW itself. The scriptures are more like The Spirit, full of the wisdom of God.

    The two disciples, (perhaps man and wife) who received enlightenment through the scriptures on the road to Emmaus already had well established views of what the scriptures meant, long before their conversation with the risen Christ. That 'understanding' of the meaning of the scriptures had to CHANGE in order to accomodate the new, contemporaneously conveyed, information they had received direct from God, during their incognito communion with Christ, along the road.

    There are some issues on which we may have attitudes that we may think and believe to be firmly supported by our traditionally based understanding of the meaning of scripture, either learned or assumed, which may be undermined and realigned with GOD'S understanding of it, conveyed to us through our 'warmed hearts ignighting with new revelation', which can even change the impact upon us of the WHOLE of scripture and the way we understand it's purposes for mankind.

    The Emmauus road disciples could never go back to their OLD undertstanding of the meaning and purposes of the scriptures, following that single lesson, their understanding of it HAD to be interpreted in the light of their NEW and RECENT experience. What they had recently learned from Christ had outweighed their old understanding, but it hadn't changed the scriptures, just their understanding of them.
    .
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2023
  4. ByOldEyes

    ByOldEyes Member

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    There's no new information between now and the first century which overturns what Paul wrote in Romans 1, just like there was no new information between Paul and Moses which overturned Leviticus 18:22.

    The Emmaus disciples were ignorant of the Messiah's fate, because they, along with most of their fellows, were ignorant of what their scriptures taught. They came to believe when they were enlightened not only by God's secret and subjective work but also in part by His objective demonstration of the truth when beforehand, Jesus "explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." Progressive interpretations of passages concerning e.g. homosexuality are anything but objective, and instead of being interpreted through the lens of Spirit, which is focused on Christ, they're interpreted through the lens of the latest changes in a corrupt society that, unlike the Emmaus disciples, hates any notion of an authoritative scriptural standard. The error which the Emmaus disciples made is an even far more forgiveable error than that, because while they were ignorant of scripture, they still never failed to recognize that it is true, authoritative and applicable.
     
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  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Well put.
     
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  6. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Well-Known Member

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    Which says "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.". ByOldEyes is correct, the Jews should still obey this injunction as it is to them that it is addressed, and not to the general public.
     
  7. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Moderator Staff Member

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    Logically then only the Jews need worry about;
    • offering your child as a sacrifice to Molech
    • committing adultery
    • having sex with an animal
    • having sex with your daughter-in-law
    We should distinguish between ceremonial, civil, and moral laws contained within the law books.
     
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  8. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    True, because Christians should still be obedient to the spirit of the law, even if living in the Spirit does not essentially require living by the dead letter of it. Whatever practices were forbidden for Isrealites by 'the law' for good practical, sensible reason, would for good practical, sensible reason still sensibly apply to anyone practical and sensible enough to realise the wisdom and practicality of them.
    .
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2023
  9. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    @anglican74 I appreciate your point of view. In an attempt to clear the record up a bit, I would like to clarify that my misgivings started a couple of years after I stopped attending my TEC parish. I think I've mentioned elsewhere how the parish's COVID response even after they started back having services made me feel pretty unwelcome. I'm sure there are still many things TEC is guilty of but I can't really lay my changed mind at their feet.
     
  10. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Thank you @Botolph. I am honored by your kind words. TMy post was spurred by some older posts where in my zeal to make sure everyone knew I was right, I was very uncharitable. I used the word of God as a weapon rather than the love letter it was meant to be. Surely that counts as "taking the Lord's name in vain". Something I am deeply regretful of. I'd apologize directly to the target of my ire but he no longer appears to visit the forums. Another issue I regret if I was part of the reason he stopped posting.
     
  11. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    I think you make a good point @Tiffy. I feel that I fell victim to the idea that something that felt wrong could somehow be right as long as I could cite a chapter and verse where the Bible either condoned or mandated it. If you feel in your heart something is wrong, then you make the Spirit that guides your heart a liar when you twist Scriptures to make what you know to be wrong right. Appreciating context is absolutely necessary when interpreting Scripture. Something may have been sensible at the time it was written but just no longer holds water in today's society except that some shout "it is written" as if that somehow trumps all else. ( that's me, I was the"some" shouting)

    In the case of the LGBTQ+ individuals, I recognize what the proof texts say. I've used them myself... but it is the love we show, not our proof texts and well rehearsed arguments, that mark us as followers of Jesus. I have met many otherwise good Christians who are gay. They only ask not to be forced to choose between their faith and loving the person they are attracted to; between their faith and living openly and honestly as who they know they authentically are withot being shamed and reviled by their fellow Christians. If we are all sinners, then why are some empowered to wag their fingers at others when we all have logs in our eyes. What hubris it is to presume to speak for God in pronouncing judgement sins that even Jesus never spoke. Jesus never condemned monogamous homosexual relationships and certainly never forbade gay marriage. He did forbid divorce, and where would the Anglican Church be had King Henry XIII taken that literally? How many of those who poopoo homosexuality have one or two failed marriages in their past? Maybe re-reading "Judge not lest ye be judged" would benefit us all.

    What never goes out of style is being kind, opening your mind, and looking past the issue to see the humans involved.
     
  12. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    Suppose I said, "I have met many otherwise good Christians who are pedophiles." Suppose those pedophiles came to church with the children they abuse, and let folks in church know what sort of abusing relationship they are in with the children. Isn't that a reasonably analogous situation? Would those out-of-the-closet pedophiles be "good Christians"?

    I cannot think of a single time when Jesus specifically singled out pedophilia as a sin; can you? Is it hubris to call pedophilia a sin? By that logic it's really okay for a 50 year old to bed a 7 year old? But no, this is a logical fallacy called an "argument from silence."

    https://cerebralfaith.net/3-reasons-why-jesus-never-said-anything/

    And it is very disappointing to see the "like" a certain forum member gave to your post, when that member routinely points out an argument from silence and its fallacious premise, if it is made by someone else. A double standard?
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2023
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  13. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Do you really think homosexuals in a monogamous relationship are the same as pedophiles? Really? I hope you don't.


    And are you really the like police?? Yeesh

    There are much better endeavors to spend your time and energy on. Like learning the difference between homosexuality and pedophilia for example.

    Jk
     
  14. Thomas Didymus

    Thomas Didymus Member

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    Wonderfully put.

    We judge others for their actions, yet judge ourselves by our intentions. If we recognize that this is wrong, then we're closer to understanding what Christ meant when he said that he wants us to treat others the way we want to be treated.

    twin
     
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  15. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, @Thomas Didymus
     
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  16. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Obviously you believe that gay sex is morally fine in God's eyes as long as the two men, or two women, take and honor a vow of monogamy. Yet the people of God have known (beyond a hint of doubt) for thousands of years that this is untrue. The documented history of the Israelites and of Christians tells us that God's people have, from time beyond mind, been certain that gay sex is always repugnant and contrary to the will of God, no matter the context. Upon what basis of faith, upon what new revelation from God, should Christians now believe otherwise?

    For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Rom. 14).
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2023
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  17. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Question: Say a man has been married and divorced multiple times, has a midlife conversion and becomes a member of a Christian church. Will the church demand he end his sinful sham marriage a live a life of celibacy or return to his first wife? And, if not, shouldn't it? After all, given Jesus' clear message in Matthew 19 that marriage being a lifelong commitment and that anyone who marries after divorce is committing adultery, anyone in a second marriage is actively sinning so long as they continue the marriage, right?

    And yet, most churches do not lay that burden on their members. And even ones that do on paper, like the RCC, make annulment so easy as to be perfunctory.

    But no such mercy or ministerial concern is shown to those in same sex relationships? Why is that I wonder?
     
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  18. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    I didn't say anything was morally fine. I am pointing out that there is hypocricy when you ignore some sins and treat others as the ground upon which one's salvation lives or dies. Sin is sin. At least that's what I was told. But apparently some sins are sinnier than others. I wonder if that is how God feels about it or just how we feel about it.
     
  19. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I mentioned this post to my wife, and her first reaction was to show me the following passage:

    "The fourth rule is: make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church live up to Christianity." --Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals (from the chapter entitled "Tactics")​

    :hmm:My wife makes some interesting mental connections. (She's left-handed and creative, I'm right-handed and logical.)

    I take your comment about divorce seriously. Both my mother and my wife's mother were divorced by their husbands when they (our fathers) were being adulterous. Both were RC. My MIL remarried and was instructed that she could no longer receive communion. My mother never remarried and was welcomed at communion. My wife and I always felt that denying communion to her mom was not right, especially since she never was unfaithful during the marriage. So, yes, some church hierarchies can be quite unfair.

    Now to the question you posed. In the OT, divorce and remarriage was permitted. When Jesus clarified God's will about divorce, He was addressing Jews (the people of God) in particular; the applicability of His statement was to people of God (like us) and not so much to unbelievers. If a man were divorced and remarried, but subsequently became a Christian, in the church's eyes his past conduct was wrong but his present situation calls for faithfulness & vow-keeping to the one he is with. After all, when the man was an unbeliever he didn't know any better, but now he has made a commitment and should keep it.

    I think it's fair to say, also, that most churches and church people extend some benefit of the doubt even to people who held Christian beliefs at the time of their previous divorce; the thought is that these people made mistakes in the past but we aren't going to hold their past mistakes against them.

    Now, one important aspect of this is the fact that marriage (between a man and a woman) is pleasing to God and may be blessed by God. The union between a man and a woman goes back as far as Adam & Eve (IOW, right from the beginning of God's creation of mankind). One consequence of this fact is the perception toward a married couple that faith-filled church people have; they (we) see heterosexual marriage as a good thing and a heterosexual married couple as partakers in a union blessed by God. I will grant you that some busybodies may whisper and gossip when there's a previously-divorced person in such a marriage, but we all know that such thinking and behavior is not good. For the most part, we in the church see such a couple and think nothing ill of it; they are two who have become one in God's eyes and they are accorded the same presumption of right-standing as anyone else. (Incidentally, it's worth noting that such a couple is highly unlikely to advertise divorcee status should one or both have been previously married; IOW, they don't have an "in your face" attitude toward the church.)

    How analogous to this are the same-sex relationships? Are there some differences? Yes, there are. Foremost is the fact that a same-sex physical union has never been pleasing to God and will never be blessed by God. The vehement anti-sodomy language in the word of God clearly shows how God perceives, and how God's people should perceive, gay sex. If one believes that the Bible is God's written message to us, we cannot fail to note the characterization of same-sex relations as unnatural and an abomination. When the couple were unbelievers they didn't know any better, but now they do (or they should be taught by the church to) know better. Therefore, when an unbelieving gay couple become Christians, at some point they should pick up on this fact and realize that their relationship (though it certainly may continue platonically) has been displeasing to God from a sexual lust/intimacy standpoint.

    There is no basis for church people to extend "the benefit of the doubt" to a "gay couple" because their representation of themselves as a "gay couple" creates prima facie doubt about the godliness and moral wholesomeness of their relationship. It's not a question of 'past mistakes' (as with previous divorce) but one of present conduct. The couple's proper response before the church family (the body of Christ) should be one of humble submission to the word of God; they should represent themselves as dear friends, not as a "gay couple," because everyone in the world knows the sexual connotation of that term. They should avoid even the appearance of evil. They should not, under any circumstances, support the ungodly, unrighteous "gay movement" or advocate for "gay rights" within the church. They should distance themselves from homosexuality, both in public and in private, because it is displeasing to God.

    When people who have been deceived (perhaps self-deceived) into developing a same-sex relationship to feed their physical attraction and intimacy desires, upon hearing the truth of God's word and will for their lives they should strive to modify their relationship (no doubt it would be a struggle and they might sometimes stumble, but they should be trying). And they should most definitely modify the way they represent their relationship, both to the world around them in general and to their church family in particular.

    Does that mean the church people condemn those who continue to evince "gay pride" and who keep deluding themselves that their lusts are not displeasing to God? No, of course not. But good Christians must not allow themselves to be lulled into accepting the behavior as 'good' or normative among the family of faith, just as Paul instructed the Corinthians to not accept the sexual improprieties of one who openly carried on in their church.

    We love folks, but that doesn't mean we condone their wrong behaviors or allow them to be a bad influence upon us (and our children).
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2023
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  20. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Oh, okay then. I think that's a really important distinction.

    In terms of what can condemn an unbeliever or unrepentant person, yes. The thing is, there's a massive difference between sin that is repented of and sin that one continues to engage in. Especially if the person tells himself that it is not sinful at all. Although you can see that homosexual lust and sex are sinful, I think it's safe to say that most people who live that lifestyle (whether "Christians" or not) tell themselves they are not doing anything wrong.
    So, really, there are two distinct kinds of sin:
    1. sin that is forgiven
    2. sin that remains unforgiven
     
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