Friday, October 07, 2016


Here is the opinion of one Minister I find interesting. I thought you might also.

I respect pastors who have been willing to wrestle with contemporary issues as they relate them to theology even if they wind up with a view differing from my particular view, ESPECIALLY when they are being open and honest about it all. For too long pastors have ONLY been willing to focus on things that are mostly practical in nature, such as budgets, membership, and facilities. Areas like theology and even spirituality have taken a back seat for too long. I don't know why this has happened. It may be that the issues that threatened to disturb or divide people were seen to be of no value spiritually or there was a fear of the consequences of dealing with them. As a result, many preachers have gotten better and better at saying less and less of significance. 

I do however, sympathize greatly with the cost paid by the above mentioned pastors. Many of whom, when they really DO wrestle with issues and wind up with a theology position that AFFIRMS or DENIES what is generally held by the present culture or even many other Christians, find that it has cost them some church members, if not personal relationships of friends and even family. 

Few people seem capable of maintaining meaningful relationships with anyone with whom they disagree about things in the area of RELIGION or POLITICS. Declaring one’s position about controversial matters, even if done respectfully, nearly always results in a loss of relationship with someone. 

I’ve certainly experienced that, and I know it to be painful.

I'm also thinking that many pastors see themselves as "theologically conservative" simply because they tend to be "socially conservative."  Those Pastors seem to fail to recognize that much of their belief system is really based on cultural habit, political orientation, tradition, personal preference, or just plain old pragmatic utilitarianism. They do what works because that’s what most people around them want. 

Furthermore, it is just simply a fact that in certain areas of the United States people like “the old time religion” and do NOT wish it to be changed in any fashion. Some churches DO break out of that mentality — seeker churches, for example —but they all too often do NOT think much about the undergirding theology that may or may NOT support their work. 

To put it bluntly, we have for years now been doing church business without paying much attention to cultural changes except perhaps for the occasional angry sermon on "becoming cultural" now and then. So I say "blessings" on pastors who do the wrestling with cultural issues AND theology AND pay the price for it! 

It was in the early seventies that I was challenged to explore Who Christ is to me personally and whether His Word, the Bible, was an authoritative word for me personally, as well. I was making my living off of it pastoring churches, presenting the message of Christ to people along the way, and I hope doing a fairly good job at it. But I had to decide back then if I could really trust the book I was preaching [the Bible] every Sunday to congregations. Was it just a human word about God or the Word of God? I came to a deep conviction on that point. The Bible is, in fact, the Word of GOD!  It left me with a further conviction that no individual gets to decide the validity of whether Jesus was the Christ, the One who brings us to God, and whether the Christian faith is legitimately for him or her as presented in scripture. 

THAT is settled for me because of my seeing the scriptures as a “faith once and for all delivered to the saints.” 

Spurgeon once proposed seven eternal and unalterable truths that are to be believed and shared:

The Bible - God's inspired word which will never lead one astray (e.g. it is infallible).

The Triune God - God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is three Persons, but one God.

Christ's Atonement - the only hope for sinners to be right with God is through Christ's sacrifice.

The New Birth - moral reformation is not enough; God's deliverance is a new birth within.

The Evil of Sin -  God will judge the wicked for their sins against Him and their fellow man.

Salvation by Grace - Christ has done for sinners what sinners cannot do for themselves.

Justification by Faith - Being right with God involves looking to Christ by faith; not one's own works.

These are the things that are the foundation of the "Faith once delivered." If we erode that common witness in ANY fashion, we will ultimately destroy the faith we claim to represent. 

Now, I see my job is one of thinking seriously about issues that we face in our culture. It is spiritually irresponsible and cowardly for me to ignore them. At the same time, I have a responsibility, even a calling, to make decisions about these controversial issues by honoring my present understanding of the boundaries identified in the scriptures, especially as the New Covenant fulfills the Old Covenant, about how some cultural issues are to be viewed. 

Same sex marriage, homosexuality, abortion, divorce and remarriage are a few of those tough cultural issues faced today. Orientation, one way or the other, is a big issue today. But from a Christian's point of view, “orientation” may not that important. I'm thinking that from a biblical perspective, one’s natural inclination toward any behavior is not very important. The important thing in biblical living is whether we intend to govern and manage our natural inclinations by the light of God’s Word instead of by natural instinct. Other issues like women in ministry, roles in marriage, divorced men and women serving in a fellowship, local church membership, and authority over believers, to name a few, beg for a clarity of understanding as well. 

Christians have, and will continue to have, differences of opinions about what some passages mean. Those differences will continue to give rise to groups known as Lutherans, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Baptists and a ton of others with their particular expressions of our common faith. But underneath all of these various expressions is a faith concerning the Person and work of the Lord Jesus that is common to all of them. If we erode that common witness in ANY fashion, we will ultimately destroy the faith we claim to represent.

I often struggle with my views of scriptures concerning the above mentioned social issues and my responsibility to clearly communicate that understanding in the Bible Belt culture I serve. I DO hope when I have declared my views on such subjects I've NOT done so with an ax to grind of any sort. My sincerest desire is to present the Biblical revelation that is graceful, merciful, and correct and desperately needed for the living of healthy and wholesome lives. 

There is (and has always been) a sizable group of gay and lesbian people in our cities in middle Oklahoma. We have always known this, even when we found ways to ignore that reality. I confess I have often enjoyed the gifts and talents of some of those who struggle with homosexual attraction while forcing them to experience that struggle as something far too shameful to be mentioned.  Shame on me for forcing that kind of silence. Worse__We have sometimes yawned at heterosexual offenses as minor or something to be laughed at__ all the while demonizing homosexual ones. In our culture all that is now ended and I, for one, am glad.

My desire for any local fellowship I'm a member of is that we all understand that we're a community of imperfect people. We ALL struggle with various sorts of addictions, sins, past failures, and present dysfunctions. Nevertheless, I'm trusting we ALL will be committed to walking together in our journey with Jesus. And as we do, we must neither rewrite scripture to excuse our sins nor demonize ourselves if we fall into them. Confessing out faults to one another, we know that we may individually fall down, but we will get back up, helping and loving each other, all the way home.