Friday, May 23, 2008

For Memorial Day Newton Presbytery Forgets Jesus

Here's a kicker for your Memorial Day weekend.

The Newton Presbytery has petitioned the 218th General Assembly of the PC(USA) to say that Christians (um...I should say "the PCUSA") believe in the same God as Muslims. Here's the critical text.
2. State that the PC(USA) affirms that Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship a common God, although each understands that God differently;
Now anyone who is a solid Trinitarian (that is, a Christian) can smell the horsehockey on this one. After all, James warned us that even demons believe that there's one God...and they shudder. This kind of faith, I guess, explains why their "About Us" page is so expansive, but their "Spiritual Life" page hasn't been updated in nearly 1 ½ years.

But what got me was a point buried in the rationale.
The Qur'anic message taught by Muhammad is that of a special regard for Christians and Christianity and the Qur'an is the only Holy Book other than the New Testament that describes the miraculous birth of Jesus. 16

16. Qur'an, Maryam, Surah 19, 19–22.

Oh how thoughtful. They threw a bone to us fundies. Let me retort:

  1. I'll bet that there are precious few who believe in the Virgin Birth of Christ who support this document. I could probably count them all on one elbow.
  2. This same rationale (execrable exegesis) needs to be tested in reference to Jesus' propitiating death. Let's see what the Qur'an says: "And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger - they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain." Sura 4:157ƒ
They don't even talk about the same Jesus. If the PCUSA still believes Jesus is God, then this is not a common deity. Well... Arianism seems so in vogue with their "let's throw Jesus under the bus" attitude, I guess they'll swallow Docetism, too.

This is what happens when you make tolerance your god . . . Jesus Christ gets denied his rights!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fun Facts on Life Insurance and the death of a church

Fun Fact:
On this date in 1761, the first American life insurance policy was issued. The policy was available to ministers for the Presbyterian Church. It was provided by the Presbyterian Synods in Philadelphia and New York who set up the Corporation for Relief of Poor and Distressed Widows and Children of Presbyterian Ministers. Nevertheless, it proved to be unpopular as many ministers considered "insurance" to be a form of gambling.

They're still at it - the Presbyterian Church continues to provide death benefits for its minister members, virtually uninterrupted for 250 years. The financial resources of previous generations lend strength to the Board of Pensions, funding its important work. Unfortunately, the denomination has rejected the theological resources of the previous generations. Jettisoning the Westminster Standards (and adopting a sloppy substitute) has resulted in precipitous declines of membership and - more important - missional thinking and acting.

To all my friends in the PCUSA, I say this: There is no death policy for a church. The only thing that can be done for a dying church is to proclaim Christ's Resurrection with unflinching courage and conviction. If you want metaphorical, narrative growth - proclaim a rhetorical resurrection. But if you want real incarnational, missional, personal growth - proclaim his resurrection and ascension in the self-same body that suffered and died for our salvation.

Looking for ways to strengthen your congregation for meeting the great ends of the Church? Become a member of the Westminster Fellowship! (They'll even let Calvinist Anglicans like myself in...hey, it was our collegiate church!)

Monday, May 19, 2008

More Bad News for the Climate Clamorers

The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (headed by homeschool champion Dr. Robinson) has released an updated accounting of their research showing that CO2 is not the devil that the greenieweenies are telling us it is. It has already garnered over 31,000 signatures of American scientists - including nearly 4,000 climatologists.* (Wherefore art thou, consensus?) Draconian measures of carbon emission reduction in science, technology, and industry will do nothing to change whatever is happening in the climate - primarily because that is not the initiator, as ice core samples have shown. RealClimate is hard at work telling us that we should trust them when it comes to the recently announced decade cooling trend (based on their analysis of 50 years data). Ironically, they tell us that shortly after they published a warning not to trust short-term trends in the system. In the scientifically approved timescale for earth's climatic history, that's a pretty short stick. Dr. Robinson's work spans recorded history and delves even deeper.

To my readers in the ecotheology movement, (which takes up everyone from ECUSA to Quakers, religious anarchists and anabaptists, and reminds me mostly of the radical anabaptists of the 16th & early 17th c.) whom I've recently taken to affectionately calling the Collared Greens, I say this: why would you advocate for the destruction of the one thing that has shown itself capable of increasing the quality and quantity of human life (viz. energy affluence)? Even if you think we should lay off the fossil fuels (something I would advocate), why not put your energy into advancing nuclear power? If we hadn't had the environuts scaring us witless about it, we could have saved gigatons of carbon being spewed into the atmosphere - and provided electricity to some of the most remote places on the planet. Electricity means refrigerated food, non-dung-cooked food, medical equipment, and information availability for self-improvement. But no...we're too busy denying the real messiah and playing our own hand at taking his place... uggh!

It's a moral issue for "conservative" Christians, too. This falls squarely within our covenantal stewardship. We just tend to agree with the science over the long term than the stuff that comes from the past 20 years.

Come to think of it, we do that with our theology, too.

*The role of relevant scientific expertise is still a hot-topic when it comes to global warming. (Pun intended.)