Posted by: gmscan | September 19, 2010

Catchin’ Up

NOTE: I will be on a panel at a conference on health care sponsored by Baylor University’s Institute for Faith and Learning from October 28 to 30. The announcement says, “Inspired by the conviction that a Christian understanding of the dignity of the human person should inform these fundamental (health care) questions, the 2010 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture seeks to explore the future of health care, not only in the United States but around the world.” Maybe I’ll see you in Waco, Texas next month.

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I haven’t posted a blog in a while. Believe me, it isn’t because of lack of interest. Rather it is that a whole new world has been opened to me and I find it pretty overwhelming.

I had no idea there was such a feast awaiting us who are hungry for enlightenment. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I am coming at all this at the tail end of thousands of years of concentrated effort by the greatest minds our species has ever produced. I’ve got some catchin’ up to do.

I continue reading the Bible every night, of course. As I’ve said here, I started with Acts, read through Revelations, came back to Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John, and then started the Old Testament. I am currently reading First Kings and the reign of Solomon. A couple of quick observations –

There is some great literature in here. The saga of Saul and David in First and Second Samuel is an incredible action/adventure story. I could hardly put it down. The book of Ruth is just beautiful, as is Hannah’s prayer in First Samuel. These stories are the reward for plodding through the tedious and repetitive passages of how to build the Tabernacle.

Unlike much of the current chatter, I don’t find the Bible very ambiguous at all. In fact, most of the social questions that are under debate today were just as current then. And the Bible has a lot to say about all of it.

Take capital punishment. Genesis is quite clear about it – “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” (Gen. 9:6)

Or on the role of homosexuals. Obviously gay marriage and gay rights in general is a very hot issue in society right now. Even within the Presbyterian church (PCUSA) there is a very contentious debate going on about allowing gay pastors, gay marriage, and benefits for gay partners of church employees. Yet the Bible is not remotely ambiguous on homosexuality. In Romans 1:26-27 Paul writes, “For this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

But this is only one of the qualities of those who have rejected God. Paul goes on to say, “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventers of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” (Romans 1:28-31). Sound like anyone you know?

At the same time, Paul was equally clear on warning the rest of us against judging others  –“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, everyone one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” (Romans 2:1-2) Judgment belongs only to God, not to us.

Now, many people argue that homosexuals are born to it. God made them that way and there is nothing they can do about it. I’m not impressed with the argument. I was born an alcoholic. My father was one and so am I. I wasted a lot of years in drinking, but I had my last drop on July 26, 1989. That was one of the crosses God gave me to bear and with His help I overcame it. That is a challenge God gave me and I am grateful for it. Because of it I know what despair is. And I am more appreciative of every day I spend sober.

But I also know that I was then, and am today, an alcoholic. God helped me overcome that in 1989, but if I had been judged by you in 1988 you would probably have seen me as hopeless. God did not. He thought I was worth saving.

So, what is the church to do? Many liberal pastors say we should not be too persnickety in believing the Bible. Some even say it isn’t really the Word of God, and that Jesus is only one of many ways to God. This, from supposedly Christian ministers.

That is not a church I would want to belong to. “If it feels good, do it” is not a motto that would bring much enlightenment. The idea that the Bible can mean whatever contemporary man finds politically convenient suggests that the Bible has no meaning at all. An honest church cannot, it seems to me, endorse, condone, or encourage the commission of sin, especially among people who are supposed to be leading the flock. The church needs to set a high standard of moral rectitude in keeping with God’s word. So it seems proper that the church should reject these efforts to accept homosexuality.

At the same time, the church should not berate or judge those who do sin. “Hate the sin but love the sinner” seems like a pretty good approach. The Manhattan Declaration puts it better than I can. 

“We have compassion for those so disposed; we respect them as human beings possessing profound, inherent, and equal dignity; and we pay tribute to the men and women who strive, often with little assistance, to resist the temptation to yield to desires that they, no less than we, regard as wayward. We stand with them, even when they falter. We, no less than they, are sinners who have fallen short of God’s intention for our lives. We, no less than they, are in constant need of God’s patience, love and forgiveness. We call on the entire Christian community to resist sexual immorality, and at the same time refrain from disdainful condemnation of those who yield to it. Our rejection of sin, though resolute, must never become the rejection of sinners.”

Indeed, from Genesis to Revelations the Bible is consistent about worshipping false gods. Don’t do it, whether those gods are alcohol, sex, money, celebrity, political power, or golden calves, all keep us from the true God and finding the peace that only God can provide.

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Responses

  1. Greg,
    Awsome writing and explanantion of your walk and discovery.

    I would love to grab lunch or breakfast with you and catch up.

  2. Greg,
    Great insight and understanding from your study. If our “god” is what we live for, then keeping Commandment #1 is a challenge for all of us.


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