Tuesday, 23 February 2010

What Spirit is Leading?

From here…
The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, Bishop-in-charge of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, has admitted what many of a more liberal bent in the Anglican Church of Canada need to acknowledge; that of all the arguments so far made for the full inclusion of openly practicing homosexuals in their church, none has a real Scriptural basis.
“While I do believe that a case for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people that rests on faithful arguments from Scripture, theological anthropology, etc., can be made, the fact is that this church has not officially done so.”

In fact, from what I’ve heard, if Scripture enters into their equation at all, it is only to be accused of being irrelevant, outdated, misinterpreted, misunderstood or no longer applicable in our modern world

At least the Rt. Rev Whalon has the honesty to realize and admit it. Of course, he does not set out what these faithful arguments from Scripture are (and I can’t imagine what they might be). In that sense he reminds me of Richard Dawkins speaking about how the world first came into existence. He doesn’t know how, but he has faith that someone, some day, will find out. He just knows it wasn’t God. In other words, what both of these seem to be saying is, “There’s an answer out there somewhere. I’m not saying what it is, but trust me, it’s there.

Referring to a convention in Minneapolis in 2003 that took a huge step in advancing this agenda, Whalon says;
“I sensed the Spirit was moving. It felt like a holy moment…”

Too often, in gatherings of liberal churchgoers or leaders I hear reference to the Spirit doing a new thing, or that the Spirit is leading us in a particular new direction. This, of course, is nothing but raw and unfettered emotion on the part of fervently passionate zealots pushing for whatever cause they feel so passionate about. It's feelings, pure and simple. I read a comment on one blog, for instance, that the commenter was convinced that if Jesus were alive today he would be marching in gay pride parades! Now, where would anyone get that idea, other than purely subjective passion for her cause? I could almost sense the tears and the catching in the voice had she been verbalizing the thought.

The difference between the orthodox and the liberal in these matters is that, if I may speak for the orthodox side, Scripture is the standard against which every opinion, every feeling and every emotion must be measured. If what we feel contradicts Scripture, it is not Scripture that needs to be changed, or ignored.

And except for a real intervention by the true Holy Spirit, the other side will just never get that.

Take Care

Sunday, 21 February 2010

"Getting Saved" (and other cliches I don't care for)

I must admit that when I hear someone says that someone else, "got saved," it is a phrase with which I am not quite comfortable. It is used often in reference to a time when someone prayed a "sinner's prayer," "accepted Jesus" as Lord and Saviour and got, "born again.". It is as if all these things happened at a particular moment in time, and all because the prayor "made a decision" for Christ. In other words, the person's decision to pray the prayer initiated the entire process of salvation and caused, or even obligated, God to accept him into His kingdom.

Nor am I comfortable with the term, "accept Christ." It seems to connote that the "acceptor" has some kind of choice; that he is somehow the one in control, and that God needs his permission in some way. This kind of prayer and these kinds of cliches seem to be favourites of some TV and radio evangelists.

But that's not how it works, is it? I'm not even quite comfortable with the term, "sinner's prayer," but for the sake of having to call it something, that is the term I will use. In my experience, there are three occasions upon which one may pray such a prayer, and none of them are causal to regeneration.

The first relates to my own experience. I prayed such a prayer, asking God's forgiveness for my sins, thanking Him for the sacrifice of Jesus and surrendering my life to Him, in thanks for what I realized God had already done. In other words, I believe I had already been regenerated, had my eyes opened, and received a new "heart of flesh" when I prayed that prayer. If you want to read more about that experience, you may find it in my testimony

The second is from my experience with the Alpha Course. "Nicky's prayer," as I came to call it is part of the seeking process. As God calls a person and as they respond to His call, there is a process of seeking; a sort of walking in a general direction toward the light one senses. Jesus is the light of the world, and those who respond to God's call will tend to turn towards him, while those who are determined to live their lives their own way, who prefer darkness to light (John 3:19) will turn away. The Alpha prayer, to my mind, is a sincere part of desiring to know God, and praying it does not always (I might even say, not often) mean rebirth at the exact moment it is prayed.
The prayer, as I recall, goes something like this:
Heavenly Father, I am sorry for the things I have done wrong in my life. Please forgive me. I now turn away from everything I know is wrong. Thank you that you sent your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for me so that I could be forgiven and set free. I now receive that forgiveness. Please come into my life, fill me with Your Holy Spirit, and be with me forever. In Jesus' name and for his sake, Amen.

I have prayed this prayer with a number of people and I think it is a wonderful prayer. It is usually prayed in a complete humble manner, often in contrition. It is a prayer of promises and requests, not a prayer of, "acceptance" of God.

And the third type of occasion someone might pray a sinner's prayer? To get some obnoxious Christian off their back who is determinded to, "lead them to the Lord."

Take Care

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Nostalgia

I just was put in touch with an old friend I hadn't seen in over 40 years, and it brought to mind a story I have recalled often over those years. Dave was the stepson of the minister of Fifty United Church in Winona, ON.

I took basically the whole summer of 1964 off and spent it up at our cottage near Parry Sound ON. Dave was, and still is, a car hobbyist, as was, and still am, I. He and I and a couple of friends spent much of the summer driving around the back country roads looking for old cars and "boneyards." In those days, many farms or back country houses had a number of old vehicles scattered around their property. On one property we found a 1947 LaSalle hearse, and a 1949 Indian motorcycle.
Also there was a 1950's Cadillac Eldorado and Dave bought the gold spoke wheels for his 1955 (or '56) Coupe de Ville. His was similar to the one at the right except I believe it had a white painted roof.

On another day, we had found a junkyard and were having a great time climbing over and around all the old vehicles when we noticed an old barn about a hundred yards off. A double-rutted track to it showed that it once had been a kind of driveway, but it was completely overgrown with weeds. We walked back to it and peered in through a window. In it there was an old car with the left front fender on the floor beside it and the side of the hood up. We climbed in for a closer look. Looking into the interior we could see the odometer reading of 75 miles. Dave, being knowledgeable about these things, said it was a 1933 Chrysler. I remember it looking something like this one on the right. Who can tell what the story of the car was.

Many years later I went back to see if I could find it, but the county had made everyone clean up their properties and the barn had been torn down. Hopefully the car was saved and not crushed.
One of the interesting things I think of when I recall this story is that, in 1964, this was only a 31 year old car. It would be like finding a 1983 car in 2014.

Somehow 1983 doesn't sound quite as old as 1933.

Take Care