Absolute Convergence?

her·e·tic (her-i-tik; adj. her-i-tik, huh-ret-ik) n.
1. a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church.
2. Roman Catholic Church . a baptized Roman Catholic who willfully and persistently rejects any article of faith.
3. anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle.

or·tho·dox  (ôrth-dks)adj.

1. Adhering to the accepted or traditional and established faith, especially in religion.
2. Adhering to the Christian faith as expressed in the early Christian ecumenical creeds.

Continuing my theme of dialogue from yesterday…

I read a blog post this morning from Gladys Ganiel called Kester Brewin, Peter Rollins & the ‘Year of Opposition’ in the Emerging Church which contained a quote from her post the day before, International Museum of the reformation, Geneva: Dinner with John Calvin.

The quote has stuck with me all morning and I just felt like I wanted to share my thoughts with you my lovelies. Here it the quote…

…the room where you can share dinner conversation with Calvin and Co. conveyed a sense of historical and even contemporary disagreement. This reminded me that the Christian story has rarely been one of absolute convergence around all Christian practices and beliefs.

I am often asked when someone disagrees with me how I can so easily question thousands of years of Christian doctrine and practice. My friends it is not that simple. In the history of our Christian faith there have been many disagreements over the finer points of what it means to follow Christ. There are many areas where most Christians agree and there are many, many where they do not. As I said in yesterday’s post,

Do we disagree on this issue? Yes. Does that mean either of us are heretics? I don’t think so. Do I stand in the corner of the rejected and shunned? You better believe it. I am not perfect at it but I would rather answer to God for trying to reconcile my LGBT friends with the God who is the lover of their soul (practicing or not) than to try to explain to Him why I pushed them further away. Once again, could I be wrong? Of course. But you know what we are all going to have things we are surprised by on that day and I would rather err on the side of love.

Consider if you will the following areas where we have and continue to debate and disagree on how best to follow Jesus…

Calvinism/Arminianism
Evolution/Creationism
The heliocentric universe
Women in leadership
Complementarianism/Egalitarianism
Gifts of the Spirit
Drinking
Once saved always saved
Martin Luther and his Theses
Literal Heaven/Hell, when do we go there? Purgatory?
Soul sleep
The priesthood of all believers
Demon possession and what to do about it
Is Christianity masculine? Is God masculine?
The nature of God… Trinitarianism/Dualism/Unitarianism/Deism/Monotheism
At one time even translating the bible into vernacular languages, or helping with the printing of such a bible was considered heresy according to the Roman Church.

For crying out loud we have even fought over whether women were equal to men, whether the races were equal, whether interracial couples should marry, whether slavery should be illegal, and if wives were property or autonomous persons.

And this is by no means an exhaustive list!

Do the answers to these things matter? You better believe it and without the brave men and women who dared to question the status quo and risk being called heretics; Women and slaves would still be property and be denied the right to vote and own property, and millions would not be able to read the Bible in their native language. Can perceived heresies be dangerous? Of course. Is the Holy Spirit able to sort things out and do His work? You know it.

I ran across some other quotes while reading up on this topic. Here are some you may find interesting:

Gerald Brenan: “Religions are kept alive by heresies, which are really sudden explosions of faith. Dead religions do not produce them.” (Thoughts in a Dry Season, 1978)

I love this one. “Dead religions do not produce heresies”.  Many (added by me) “heresies are really sudden explosions of faith.” Again, think of Martin Luther or William Tyndale.
The questions and discussion “heretics” raise (proved right or wrong) help to keep faith alive. They are often a catalyst by which the Holy Spirit leads us. The fact that we are still discussing and questioning and trying to discern the best ways to follow Jesus’ commands to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves shows us that the Holy Spirit is still alive and well and working in and through humanity to help us become all that we are meant to be.

Helen Keller: “The heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next.” (Optimism, 1903)

While this isn’t always true, it is certainly has been true in many cases.

Friedrich Nietzsche: “Whoever has overthrown an existing law of custom has hitherto always first been accounted a bad man: but when, as did happen, the law could not afterwards be reinstated and this fact was accepted, the predicate gradually changed; – history treats almost exclusively of these bad men who subsequently became good men!” (Daybreak, § 20)[23]

One generation’s heretics sometimes become the next generation’s heroes of the faith and culture: Galileo, Martin Luther, Copernicus, William Tyndale, Sir William Wilberforce, Anne Askew, Martin Luther King Jr., Joan of Arc and JESUS – Just to name a few. Did she just say Jesus? Yes I did. Many of the religious leaders of the day accused Jesus of blasphemy, came after him for not keeping parts of the law, and even being possessed by the devil himself.

Heresy is often a word that is hurled at a person in order to end conversation. It is a word we use when we are afraid of what the other person is saying or we are unsure of our ability to defend our position over theirs. I humbly submit that we STOP IT.   More discussion is what is needed, not less. When we brand someone a heretic and end the discussion we silence the Holy Spirit’s ability to use us to help the other or to use the other to change us. It is my experience that one can be called a heretic by some while completely embracing orthodoxy. As I said to my friend Justin, we both agree fully with the Nicene Creed even if I disagree with my him on other points not covered there. We need to STOP branding people with that word errantly and thus blowing up a bridge the Holy Spirit wants to use.

Am I saying there are not dangerous doctrines out there? Of course not. Am I saying we should not fight against them? Of course not. Am I saying we should accept every new thing that comes along? Of course not. The irony is that the people on both sides of the above debates often think the people on the other side are espousing the dangerous doctrine. And lest you think that simply going with the majority is the way to be safe, the majority has often been found to be on the wrong side of history when the Holy Spirit finally gets its way.

In conclusion, I believe we need to read, a lot; not be afraid to be in the minority when we feel like the Holy Spirit is moving; and also, let’s not be so quick to expel a fellow member of Christ’s body, discount their doctrinal differences out of hand and brand them a heretic. Let’s keep the bridges open and allow the Holy Spirit to work.  And mostly, let’s heed the words of the Apostle John, “little children, let us love one another for love comes from God.”

Who knows? We just might learn something.

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Dear John Piper, Would You Like a Ride on my Toboggan?


Dear John Piper,

I would like to thank you for your recent comments about the masculinity of the church, indeed of all creation. You have succeeded in drawing a bright line that everyone can see. It is the defining line of what complementarians actually believe. Thank you for being honest and just laying it all out there. Thank you for not mincing words or hiding behind things like “everyone is equal in God’s eyes, we just have different roles.” I really appreciate that too. Now people can see the true choice between your view and mine.

John, as a gesture of my gratitude I would like to offer you a ride on my toboggan. Rachel and Susan and my husband Kent, most of the people from my church, Wade Burleson & Jesus are already on board and I have seen lots of other folks here on the slippery slope. But don’t worry, there is still room for you. I think maybe you are scared of what will happen if you go over the edge. I promise you it will take your breath away and at moments you may wonder what is happening but once you have taken a ride down the slippery slope you will find that it isn’t as scary or as slippery as you might think. (Just curious, what exactly is the fear if we afford women true equality in church and life? Sometimes I think people are afraid that elders meetings will turn into slumber parties where we all do each others hair and nails if women are included).

Heck you might enjoy it. You might even decide to take a run at a couple other slippery slopes while you are at it. How about homosexual hill? What will happen if we allow homosexuals to get married and come to our gatherings and worship Jesus with us? Are we afraid that our own children might become (I don’t think it is something you become btw) gay? Some of them already are; they are just scared to say so because they have been taught that the love of Jesus isn’t for homosexuals. Jesus never said that. He loves with no “unless”.

How about evolution incline? What will happen if we as Christians embrace or even entertain the scientific evidence for evolution? Are we afraid that God won’t be God anymore or are we just afraid that we might be wrong about him and he isn’t just like us? If God is God he has nothing to fear of science; he created science. All truth is God’s truth.

Pull on your mittens John, I can promise you a wild ride. I will be waiting for you at the top of the next hill.

m

Lovlies,

The video at the beginning of this post is shocking, yes? It is one of the first things I thought of last night when I heard about of John Piper’s remarks. The church in large numbers has been on the wrong side of history on several occasions including women’s suffrage, slavery & segregation. I am afraid that Piper is on the wrong side of history this time.

After reading the article last night on The Christian Post, I wondered how exactly Piper defines the terms masculine and feminine. Luckily for me I found this video. In it Piper uses a graphic that states the definitions he uses:

The Meaning of masculinity
At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.

The meaning of Mature Femininity
At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing realtionships.

Don’t you see women, this is a doctrine of freedom for you? You (as he goes on to say in the video) have the freedom to choose the man who will lead you. Once again, I am thankful for the bright line he has drawn. It forces you to think about what you really believe on this issue. It is one of the big three facing the church today. What about women? What about homosexuals? and What about evolution? Alas, we are only here to address the one slippery slope today. Here is the thing, we are all to mutually submit to one another. We all, according to our gifting, lead, provide for and protect one another. We all have the responsibility to affirm, receive and nurture each other. This post by Sarah Bessey is a great picture of this type of marriage relationship. But it isn’t just in marriage that mutual submission should take place. It is everywhere; at home, in the church, with your friends or at work. Everywhere with everyone. Can you imagine a world where we actually lived like this?

Piper seems to ignore many verses in scripture in his misogynistic interpretation of the scriptures in the article. These are just a few.

Galatians 3:27-28
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Unless…oh wait, there is no unless.

Genesis 1:27-28
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (notice he created them in his own image, he gave dominion to them).

Wade Burleson had an excellent post today where he stated:

The male and the female were both designed to rule. Men and women are created by God in His image as co-regents of the world He created. Any system, any society, any organization that places one gender as an authority over the other, whether it be patriarchal or matriarchal in nature, is a direct violation of the command and design of the Creator God. Why can women rule in God’s creation? Why can women lead in God’s creation? Why can women be equal to men in God’s creation? Women are created in the image of God, just like men, and when the omnipotent, sovereign and invisible Creator God determined to create man in His image, He created a male and a female, reflecting the very nature of God Himself. This is why there is nothing wrong with considering God as both Father and Mother, as the invisible and all-powerful Ruler of the universe who reflects Himself in both males and females–God is Spirit and the perfections of each gender are seen in God.

AMEN! Thank you Wade. I love fellow toboggan riders.

Isaiah 46:3
“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb;
John Calvin wrote (btw, John Piper is a self proclaimed 7 point Calvinist),

God has manifested himself to be both Father and Mother so that we might be more aware of God’s constant presence and willingness to assist us.

Isaiah 49:15
15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
Calvin’s commentary on this verse states:

God did not satisfy himself with proposing the example of a father, but in order to express his very strong affection, he chose to liken himself to a mother, and calls His people not merely children, but the fruit of the womb, towards which there is usually a warmer affection.

Matthew 20:25-28
25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

I will leave it to you. But remember the words of the great abolitionist, Sir William Wilberforce, when you are ready to throw in the towel and think that we cannot succeed in changing the status quo,

Accustom yourself to look first to the dreadful consequences of failure; then fix your eye on the glorious prize which is before you; and when your strength begins to fail, and your spirits are well nigh exhausted, let the animating view rekindle your resolution, and call forth in renewed vigour the fainting energies of your soul.