His way is peace: Jesus’ method for the non-violent transformation of human civilization

There are two methods:

(1) one is full of hate, and fire, and steel, and blood.

And the other (2) is of love, and peace, grace leading to hope.

The Devil, most of you don’t believe in him but he has his ways.

He never uses number 2.

He is a strictly number 1 kind of person.

When Paul says, “Be at peace with all men as much as it has to do with you…” Satan laughs and sneers at that kind of weakness.

He agitates, he divides, he calculates, he gossips and he whispers until he has a following, and then there will be blood. There’s never been a good slaughter he hasn’t had his fingers on.

But then Jesus, they hated him. They abused him, they used him and tore down his reputation. On that last night the scriptures say that Satan went into Judas and that fits the description. They whipped him and tore his body apart and still he said, “Father, forgive them because they know not what they do.”

But that heart he had isn’t the whole story.

If that’s all we take from it we’re missing the potency of his calling out from pain and blood, to grace.

If he were just a man like us, just flesh and blood hanging on a tree that would be unusual but not incredible, because even a mere human being might have grace in the face of pain. But Jesus “came down from where he was before” and was returning to that place. He laid aside glory for humiliation, power for persecution. He was the eternal Son of God manifest in human flesh so that when they took him, he had to let himself be taken. He said, “Father if it be thy will take away this cup from me, but if not, not my will but thy will be done.”

He submitted himself willingly and that matters because he did not have to do it. He didn’t have to go morally because a sinless man dying for the sins of sinful men is not a calculus the world can bear. Satan never understood, he missed the plan of God entirely because he was always draped in smoke and fire as the only answer to any problem.

But even Satan knew that Jesus was powerful. So powerful that he couldn’t conceive of him giving himself away like that. You see, the miracle of Jesus wasn’t that he was a good man, though he was a good man, or that he was a forgiving man, though he was a forgiving man, it was that he was the God-man; fully God and fully man, yet one person. So that when they met him with hate, and abuse, and scorn, “He could have called ten thousand angels” to his side.

I don’t know if you remember angels from the Bible but they were ready for war. It would have been so easy for them to sweep through the empire killing every enemy, destroying the cities and the temples, crushing all resistance and getting that sweet revenge on every wicked thought of wicked men that did wicked deeds toward a wicked end.

The Devil would have loved that. All that blood and fire. That was just his business. The smell of burning flesh and mothers weeping over their children, that was just his game.

And then we see Jesus, author and perfector of our faith, who took on the nature of a servant, even the likeness of sinful man, and gave his life as a sacrifice for the sins of so many, so that we lost and hopeless generations could be brought back to God. See, he didn’t have to do it. Had he not done it, he would still have be right, fully justified morally had he given us what we deserved. We deserved all of the suffering, and fire and death. But instead he gave us grace.

Now here, there is a major theological conundrum, because some theologians have said that this manner of Jesus was supposed to be a moral influence, that the center of the story is in that he showed us how to be, and that’s not completely wrong.

The other way to think and deeply woven into the story is that his death was an actual sacrifice for sin so that he made himself a substitute on our behalf and really did die in our place, for our sins.

Jesus paid for our sins.

Jesus took our place in death.

But both of these are true; not one without the other but both of them are true.

Jesus was both the real and atoning sacrifice for our sins and also showed us the way of hope and peace by his most excellent example. That when we thought we were strong, we were weak, and weakend by sin could not save ourselves, and when his power was made perfect in us it was in our weakness, not our strength.

The strength of the world… they have only violence and cruel weapons of war but Jesus has proven the irresistible power of love and peace. Who won in history? Did Satan? Did Rome? What great and cruel empire has stood against Christian love and mercy? All of them, every one of them have crumbled at the feet of Jesus not because he crushed his enemies with power but because he broke their hearts by his living spirit.

Do we have greater confidence in the power of the Gospel to transform hearts or the might of our arm to bruise and to burn?

Consider the example of Jesus because he will win in this life and in the next, and peace will be his banner.

Now you have a choice before you of two ways, because there are always two ways: the way of peace and the way of war, and we understand that the way of peace is frightening. The way of war we understand. We are born to it and it has done its work in our minds and imaginations. It has given us the delusion of power and control but in the end, it has not been blessed by God and so inevitably ends in sorrow and defeat.

And the other way, we have promises, from God and his Christ, “that he works out all things for the good of those that love him, those that called according to his purpose.” So that if we would be people of faith, we must not believe only in his person but also in his method.

And his way is peace.

Pastor Chris
Graceview ARP

The media fraud surrounding the church choir Covid-19 event at Mt. Vernon Church in Washington

All we want is the truth – if we can get it.

The shut down of the churches and more broadly of entire states was justified in part through fear instilled by one event, the Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church choir “super-spreader” event.

The story was repeated in national broadcasts of CNN, NBC, ABC, MSNBC and Fox news and supported by a CDC report as preliminary evidence of how and where the virus was being spread. It was being spread by churches. Churches and church services were presented as particularly dangerous as evidenced by the spread among the members of the Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church Choir.

On March 10th 2020, 62 members of the choir came together at the church for their regular choir practice and within days dozens were sick. Within weeks, at least two had died. The preliminary cause was said to be, “singing”.

(a video presentation available here)

GMA virus story

With this story run by Good Morning America and hundreds of others about the “church choir practice disaster” we might expect that we have clear evidence of church based transmission. We are given a big picture of a church sanctuary and the words Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church appear in BOLD RED LETTERING at the top of the frame.

In hundreds of subsidiary stories on related subject matter the Mt. Vernon Church Choir disaster was then used as supporting evidence for the closure of churches due to the inherent dangers already proven by the church choir infections.

Of course, none of this was scientific evidence – but it’s shock value and the impossibility of refutation due to a lack of clear information or medical evidence made the accusation a powerful weapon in the fight toward the complete closure of the churches.

Here’s a Tampa Bay Times story arguing for the closure of churches using the church choir story:
Fake tampa-bay-times-church-choir-virus story.png

Here’s another story by Sacramento Herald Tribune story arguing for the closure of churches:
sacramento herald tribune church virus

And these followed by hundreds of other corresponded and dependent stories.

inquisitor virus church choir

With a nice picture of a hymnal and a church organ implying church services and church singing  = equals infection and possible death.

But what if we were to provide a few very important but absent details about the event, the transmission of the virus, the church, the choir, and the coverage by the press?

What if we were to tell you that not one person that came to the church that evening of of March 10th, 2020 was actually a member of the Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church Choir?

Would it matter? I think it would. The infections were not the story. The church, and the choir and the dangers of the Christian community were the story.

There is a real Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church Choir and they do perform at Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church, but the group that was reported is not the a church choir at all.

Here’s a screen shot from their website. Take a look.

mt vernon church choir

The “chorale”, a singing group but not a choir by careful definition, doesn’t sing in churches. Not only that but none of them were members of the church in question.

They had no affiliation with the Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church at all.

It seems they had ever sung in a Sunday service there.

As far as we know, they had never attended a church service at that particular church.

You can find the information about the Skagit County Chorale here:skaggit county chorale

The Chorale group that was at the center of the confusion regarding church choir infections was the Skagit County Chorale, a secular and not a church choir that had arranged to rent a small room that night for their practice. Not a church choir at all, not religious, not for a church service, not for a Sunday, not a gathering of church people (some of them might have been religious, might even have been members of churches or church choirs but if they weren’t members of this church or this church choir the reporting was a manifest misrepresentation of the facts.)

“The Skagit Valley Chorale was founded in 1984 by Joan Penney with the support of the Skagit Valley College Foundation and has grown from its original 30 members to over 120 men and women dedicated to performing quality choral music.

Two annual concerts are performed in Mount Vernon at McIntyre Hall… The “Celebrating in Song” concert, presented in the spring, features classical choral works as well as a variety of choral music by contemporary composers representing the diversity of world traditions and cultures.”3

Now some of you at this point might say, yes but the point is that they were a singing group, practicing, and that singing group got sick while singing which led to all singing, especially church singing becoming suspect. We have to remember that it was not all singing that became suspect from this instance but church singing – and that this event was called out as the primary justification for the severe communicability of the virus in an aerosol or airborne form.

The significance laid upon it being a “church choir in a church” cannot be overstated. It seems to have been the primary import of most arguments made by George Stephanopolous, Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo and others was, “Close the churches before it’s too late.”

What is relevant is they could have as easily been meeting in a hospital, or a living room, or in a barn as far as the communication of the virus might go. What does it matter what the building was? It was the personal and physical interaction of the parties that was the hinge of communicability. The virus does not know if it’s in a church or in a hospital. The only reasonable purpose for pressing the “Church Choir Narrative” is to cast a shadow upon the churches and cause more fear than is merited under the circumstances. So it should be said that no one from the church was infected.

Now here are some other key facts that bring the entire reporting into doubt.

The Chorale rented a small room, reportedly the size of a volleyball court, and pressed in about 60 people. Had their full number of 120 attended we might be amazed to see how they could fit. That kind of space might hold 25 to 30 comfortably. In any case, it’s not a good idea during a pandemic.

This also speaks to that this gathering did not take place in “the church”. This matters because the journalists and even the representatives of the local health agencies that produced identifying reports for the CDC gave the impression that it had. A church can have many lesser properties in addition to a main worship hall and commonly make then available to the public. While the readers might have been given the opportunity to assume that this infection took place in the church itself, it took place in a small side building not associated with worship.

As such, it didn’t happen in a church.

It took place in a building rented by an outside agency that was on a property owned by a church.  Most stories reported though make sure to show a picture of a church though it is well known that no infections took place in the worship hall or even a church building, no infections of worshipers, no contagion passing between Sunday visitors.

The common presentation is shown in the Los Angeles Times story below. We might think that the journalists were very unprofessional in lacking the ability to carefully comb through these matters. The only option would be that they had intentionally left out the key and important facts that would give one an accurate understanding of what had actually taken place.

Here as an example is the story by the Los Angeles Times with a large picture of the church sanctuary, followed by an explanation of the church choir and how they got the disease through normal practice conditions:

 

LA TImes Corona outbreak

Now here is where things get intensely interesting.

Even if all of the previous errors and omissions could be forgiven as careless or mediocre reporting by journalists it’s harder to forgive theses facts:

Only half, about 60, of the members of the Chorale performance group attended the March 10th meeting. Of those, most had been in each others physical presence in the days and weeks before the meeting. Many were related by blood or marriage, were close friends, dating or worked together. Many had eaten together prior to the practice, at the practice itself and after the practice. Not only that but many of the attendees including the Skagit County Chorale leadership that first notified health officials and communicated their symptoms, drove to the event together, in carpools and then back from event in carpools. But those initial reporters were never actually tested for the virus; they were assumed to have the virus because of their verbal, subjective report of symptomology. To this day they have still never been tested for the virus.

A quote from a local Seattle news agency:

“And yet, within a week, three-quarters of the choir would report feeling sick.

“Little did we know what we were all taking (it) home with us, ” Comstock said Monday. “Now you think about it, and you go, ‘Oh my gosh.’”

“Owen and Comstock are married and did not get tested but are considered presumptive positives by health officials based on their exposure to so many positive cases.”4

With the normal time period between infection and symptoms being 5 – 14 days, the first 6 cases were reported within 2-3 days of the reported March 10th practice. At the time, where these infection rates and the amount of time before symptoms were in doubt this kind of oversite might have been excusable but not now. We know better at this point.

Of the 45 that were reported and diagnosed as positive by the Skagit County medical personnel only 18 had been tested for the virus, the rest having merely been assumed to be positive.

The misunderstanding of this event might be traced back to Polly Dubbel, the communicable disease and environmental health manager at Skagit County Public Health, that was also the primary reporter to the CDC in regard to their analysis of the nature of the infection rate and initial conditions.

Polly Dubbel, the communicable disease and environmental health manager at Skagit County Public Health, said the case was a disturbing example of how contagious coronavirus can be and how it can spread among groups even when no one is symptomatic.

“It’s really too high risk for people to gather close together,” Ms. Dubbel said. “This just really illustrates that.”2

But it didn’t really illustrate that. We might say that it didn’t illustrate that at all but did illustrate what happens when medical personnel, backed by an over aggressive media, jump to hasty conclusions and let their political bias take the place of hard facts and careful analysis.

At this point there is isn’t clear or convincing evidence of a single infection through singing, of a church choir, or even irrefutable evidence of a single infection in a church or a church based environment. I’m not saying there can’t be, it would make more sense if there were at least a few. But as yet, there are none.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–
Rev. Christopher Neiswonger JD, MA
Graceview Presbyterian Church
Southaven MS

The Department of Justice identifies the illegal and unconstitutional rules created by Governor Newsom and the state of California

Screenshot_20200521-112709I know how you feel about it but this is from “Newsweek” – with little in the way of Republican leaning or common sense about ethical matters. You probably love them. Still, here they are presenting the Department of Justice accusing and warning California Governor Gavin Newsom of illegal, unconstitutional and and immoral discrimination against the churches of the great state of California.

So now some can say it’s justifiable under the circumstances, or some can say they want the churches shut down anyway, or some can say we should obey the a government regardless of how evil their actions, or if they command us to do evil, or subject us to evil, or they can say that God said to obey even evil governments doing evil things for evil purposes, but no one can say that it is legal, constitutional or even good. No one can say we should obey this government at this time under these conditions.

“Obeying the governing authorities” necessarily implies resistance to tyrannical abuse, resistance against the closure of the churches, and proclaiming freedom to the captives.

The restrictions are unlawful and immoral and thus the Christian that intends to obey the government must stand against them, because to obey the government in good conscience now means to disobey the governor of the state, who’s decrees in regard to the churches are unlawful.

Honor the King, be obedient, fight, struggle. Do what is right. Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God; therefore, submission to tyrants is that other thing.

Remember, the governor of the state of California is not the only law, nor even the highest law; there is a higher law and we have a duty to obey it. Here, we might want to reflect upon our duty to our neighbor to pray and act in regard to their best interests – and if the security and safety of their political rights is of no interest to us at all perhaps we should reconsider our theological interest itself.

God, our God, is no God of oppression and violence but a God that gives freedom. Freedom in salvation to the mind and the soul but also has a heavy investment in political freedom, making men and nations free to worship him in spirit and in truth. Be careful what you attempt to justify in the eye of the state because it may one day be the means of your own destruction too.

Here, any political assembly that practices repression of the person or the church can hardly be blessed by the God that promises freedom itself. There have been few times when the thriving or healthy church preached the Gospel boldly and with conviction during the reign of petty tyrants and bureaucrats. It happens but it isn’t common. Repression of the church is never the gift, and why the church under oppression prays for it’s heavy hand to be lifted from them. It feels acceptable as the means to a noble end only when the stripes will cross some other’s back.

Look around the world and see where the Gospel thrives in its full fire and consequence? We love to see the church grow and throw off its chains in China and Iran but the repressive forces there offend Christ all the same. Where the church is free the church wins eventually and where the church is stifled by the worldly powers it tends to falter. The Apostle never said the abuse of the church was good, only that God can use even that kind of evil to a good end. He wasn’t saying the evil was good in disguise or any such thing.

In any case we have no right to invite persecution upon our neighbors. We have no right to stand idly by and see them dragged off to prison or poverty. Churches don’t have the right to invite the abuse of their members. Societies don’t have any right to punish Christ as an accountermont to their self advancement.

The closing of the churches has always been illegal and immoral, though perhaps the churches have the authority to do so themselves as the wisdom of God might provide. But submission to tyranny and the abuse of authority has never had any good effect upon any people at any time, and God should be able to expect more from us here.

Rev. Neiswonger JD MA

On believing that God exists because we know that God exists

Being that God is everywhere and in everything and that all truth and being is dependent upon God, there isn’t any unbiased information or uninterpreted truth that can be used to argue against the Creator.

People are shocked when they ask if we’d accept any evidence against the existence of God, and we say “No.”, as if that kind of answer were irrational or avoiding the problems inherent in reason and human claims to knowledge, but that’s a misunderstanding of the question.

The question is a lot like asking if I’d accept any evidence against my own existence, or any evidence against there being truth, or any evidence against there being evidence.

With that, we understand that many Christians take the view that we believe in God because it’s more probable than not that He exists and so we have a rational duty to believe that He does. I can’t disagree in principal; it is certainly more probable that not that God exists, but everything true is more probable than not so that doesn’t get us anywhere very interesting.

Our reasons for believing in God aren’t of that character and so it’s that we know that God exists that is the basis for our believing that he does. More, if we do know, then for someone to ask that we consider not knowing for the purpose of interpreting the evidence through another universe that we know does not exist seems to bring in a bias that can’t possibly arrive at a beneficial result?

There’s a lot of talk about “doubt” of late, usually through the thought of Lewis, about its priority and acceptability (and who wants to argue with Lewis?) but the Bible speaks of doubt as a form of either ignorance or sin, or both, and a blindness of heart that clouds every issue and every apprehension, and so not best used as a means of sifting truth from error.

This is just to say that if we do indeed know with certainty that God exists (and certainly certainty is valuable, available and the normal state of Christian faith) then to presume upon God that we do not actually know, but only think it probable might be an institutionalization a doubt that squanders the surety of our intimate knowledge of God.

And so is there evidence? It might be more that everything, positively everything is evidence and negatively everything is evidence by the inference and contrary relation because God is all in all and all things exist by him and for him.

But make no mistake, we know.

We know him and are known by him, and so we believe in him.

….

Romans 1
Ephesians 1
John 1

If the church preaches the Gospel then what of justice and the laws of God?

The primary role of the Church is the preaching of the Gospel.

That in itself is one aspect of the larger duty of preaching the “full counsel of God”; everything taught in the Bible. So that does include the secondary duty of teaching good behavior, right thought and action, ethical decision making and the Christian Life.

There is no true Christian Church that does not have an ethical agenda. It might be an inferior intent but it is no less real. Jesus in teaching who he was and the significance of his coming did not avoid a consistent tutoring on the right interpretation of the moral laws of God. He was a good Gospel preacher but not one shy of moral correction.

So here in our day we have churches that have in the narrow sense replaced the first role of the church with the second, and like most things in the Christian faith a confusion of emphasis often leads to a collapse purpose.

Churches that teach that love of neighbor is the gospel for example generally have an entire agenda dedicated to merely social concerns. Their hope is in their performance of social duties equated with the second table of the law, that they sometimes go as far as to define as “faith”.

The issue then is that when we say we agree with some teaching like, “by grace you have been saved, through faith…” by faith we might mean merely obedience to the moral law, so that salvation by faith becomes definable in terms of salvation by law.

The next step is often that what we have historically held to be a true faith, a believing of true things about Christ, his cross, and ourselves, becomes a lesser matter of concern, if at all. We start seeing what a person does in this worldly context, the way they act and the decisions they make as the mode of salvation itself. What they believe is then either less important, or of no importance at all.

Jesus did lay a powerful emphasis though upon believing right things, even saying, “if you do not believe that I am the one that I say I am you will die in your sins.” And, “you believe in my Father, believe also in me.”

Believing the truth has taken an aweful beating in contemporary thought, leading many to doubt if such a thing is even a worthy goal but it should be remembered that in Christian thought, faith is before practice. Believing is another word for knowledge of spiritual things and a discerning of the truth and that without true thought, there will be no right action.

In Hebrews Paul goes as far as to say, “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” And the, “because to please God one must first believe that he exists and that he is the rewarder of those that come to him.”

Now in this, we are not saying that ethics, morality, right behavior are unimportant. God takes his laws and the behavior of those created in his image very seriously. But once you’ve broken the law in any way, restoration or salvation through obedience to the law is a strict impossibility. The law is steadfastly against you and if you’re not very careful to be found in the righteousness of Christ – it will get you.

So here we need to allay any fear of Christ such as the Pharisees had that this salvation apart from the law entails a disregard for the law. The Christian, the true Christian loves the law, blesses the law, learns from the law, thanks God for the law, and then smites his breast and says, “have mercy on me a sinner”.

Here, the churches that cry the loudest for social justice, for ethics, morality often fall short not because they give weight to ethical matters, something we all have a duty to do, but that their ethics are wrong.

When churches, presumptive Pastors, cry out for the legality of abortion they cry out against the laws of God which declare, “Thou shalt not murder”.

When a church, imagining themselves true churches, march for men to marry men and for women to marry women, attempting to sanctify an unholy relationship, they march against God who said, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”.

And when seeming churches deny the Gospel of Jesus or the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the Bible they stand with the one that said, “Did God really say?”

The church, true churches, always have a true Gospel that leads to a true justice. The abandonment of morality tuned to the scriptural key is not an authentically Christian answer, but every morality is not a Christian morality.

And often, gatherings that call themselves churches but have no Gospel shroud themselves in the cloaks of justice and social goods to mask a purpose most Unchristian.

But for we and our houses, let us serve the Lord.

Neiswonger

Away with the Presbyterians!

Because of the current confusion about religion in the wider culture, and in the church, this needs to be explained on and ongoing basis – but just because a church has the word “presbyterian” on the sign outside doesn’t mean that they are orthodox, in any historic sense Presbyterian, or even a Christian church.

It’s like the word “baptist” being on the sign; it tells you almost nothing about what’s going on inside that building but for perhaps a certain view of the sacraments. I know one corner not far from here where there are four baptist churches on the four corners and as far as I can tell, none of them consider the others to be a good church.

All kinds of churches have branded themselves “presbyterian” in an attempt at stolen valor because the historicity and success of the tradition grants instant respectability. I can’t feel safe referring a worshipper to any church just because it calls itself ‘presbyterian’. Quite the opposite, if they call themselves by the name the first question would be “What denomination or group of presbyterians?” as many are apostate and others barely recognizable as a church.

Many would fall under the simple categorization of a proper cult, if not better, the occult.

It’s not different with baptist, methodist, episcopalian, or lutheran churches. Once the names have been stolen by fakirs and charlatans they lose their value. So why keep them? Why keep using the names when their force has become diluted through use and envy? Because it is ours. Like the term ‘catholic’ others don’t get to keep it just because they say they want it. We are willing to wrestle them for it.

In the immediate use of the term, it simply means holding to a form of church government where the church is served by Elders elected from the membership of the congregation and that the churches of the kind have accountability to one another. There are higher and lower courts.

Frankly, most so called presbyterian churches are Episcopalian in their form of government (a government of centralized power over the people and the congregations) or are ruled by a board akin to a business corporation, something historic Presbyterians view with suspicion and repudiation.

Second, historic Presbyterianism is of and carrying on the Reformation. Any church that is not of the Reformation in its theology and forms of worship should not use the word as it is a bait and switch. They have our words but not our soul and so cannot share our blessings.

Third, it is a church of the creeds and confessions, which is to say a church of historic orthodoxy. This is a church of the Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms but with those of the Apostle’s Creed and of Nicea, of the Church Fathers when wise and of Luther and Calvin all day long. We are still what came before and we have not grown so wise in our own eyes as to abandon the past because future looked brighter in its own estimation. Truth is not changing to fit the mood of the moment and only those that stand fast till the end gain the prize.

But more than anything a church of, in and through the Bible, where the Bible as the Bible in its clear and unadulterated form takes the highest place over the church and is taken as the sole infallible rule in all matters of faith and practice. Any church of soothsayers and confidence men selling a Bible a little less than perfect, a few steps down from divine law, an interpretive angle from being the very words of the very God, or something that we receive the word of God through but not the very word of God itself, they will never have an authentic place at this table. They will always be an empty vest whatever the emblems.

So away with the presbyterians because they are such pretenders – but bless and do not curse the presbyterians because even heaven is a presbyterian church.

Neiswonger

Homosexuality and the Church: Is there such a thing as a gay Christian?

From the Bible, in the New Testament in the book of Romans, chapter one:

“Because of this, God gave them over to the lusts of their own hearts, to uncleanness, to defile their own bodies between themselves:

25 which turned the truth of God unto a lie, and worshipped and served the the created while abandoning the Creator, which is blessed forever, Amen.

26 God gave them over to the love of disgusting things: for even their women changed from the natural use of sexuality to that which is against nature.

27 And in the same way, the men left the natural use of the woman and burned in their lust one toward another, and men with other men did evil – and received in themselves such consequence of their sin.

28 For as they did not acknowledge God in their hearts, God delivered them over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are evil, they being flooded with unrighteousness”

In this video, a Christian Pastor explains the status of homosexuality in the church, reasons for the ongoing conflict between theology and contemporary sexuality, and possible ways to move forward.

In the past, the natural order was thought of by the church as one means of understanding God and his will. More clearly, the Bible gives a revelation of God’s will for human sexuality and its expression within the context of marriage and procreation.

As a culture moves toward Christianization many of the practices once thought appropriate come under new reconsideration. Here in a culture moving toward humanism and secularization traditional thought about sex, marriage and the best path human flourishing can become confused.

Here we’ve asked a Pastor to explain how traditional Christianity interprets homosexual behavior, its meaning and relationship to faith and practice.

Ten things that liberals do when taking control of theologically conservative institutions

There’s an upside to having attended a liberal seminary (Fuller Theological Seminary). At least, we understand what liberal theology is and the ways it can be disguised to make such palatable to the every day believing Christian.

Liberal Theology is not immediately attractive to Christians, so theological liberals generally gain power and advantage through subversion and practical wisdom.

Pay special attention to these methods of gaining Christian support for heterodoxy in a denominational setting:

1. The shift of decision making power to a central governing authority.

2. The moving of the money from local control to centralized control by a federal governing entity.

3. The doctrine of God being reframed in terms of his unknowability at the cost of his self revelation in the person of Christ and holy scripture.

4. The doctrine of the Bible being restated in terms of its human characteristics and limitations.

5. The magnification of the human office holders beyond biblical bounds.

6. Church communications being presented in needlessly complex or professional language inaccessible to the laity and the uneducated.

7. Love and compassion being leveraged into a general passivity toward known sins.

8. The nullification of the historic theology and ethics of the church through the prioritization of outreach or evangelism.

9. The corruption of church courts and due process by the introduction of persons uninclined or incapable of defending the historic faith.

10. Resistance toward or a distancing from the historic standards, creeds and confessions of the church.

Neiswonger

Churches can be dangerous places

Churches can be dangerous places; we need to walk very carefully through them with a keen eye toward following Jesus.

We don’t like to say that some churches are better than others but it might be too obviously true. The best church for you might be different than for someone else but that it’s a place where truth meets love is the minimum that anyone should bear.

It seems like almost every day we hear about some new controversy or scandal arising in some church somewhere. It’s true that our new opportunity to report in seconds everything that happens in the world can give us the sense that bad things are happening much more frequently than they are, but happen they do, somewhere, sometime.

Jesus is the head of His church. That might go without saying but there’s been a lot of confusion about that kind of thing through the years. It’s His church and that sets some of the lines for what we’re going to think about it, either good or bad. We might have the freedom to do many things as Christians in regard to the church, but to dismiss the church, or give up on the church, or dislike the church doesn’t seem OK? I mean whatever we broken, fallen struggling saints do with the church it’s still the kingdom of God and the body of Christ.

For some, church is always going to be a struggle. In some ways God sets it up as a field for those struggles. It’s in church that we’re confronted with the offensiveness of the Gospel (not exclusively but that’s where the Pastors preach), it’s in church that we usually have our first recognition of the grace of God, it’s in church where we have some level of moral accountability to living out the ethical life of a child of the King, and it’s in church where we experience our spiritual and moral failures, our mistakes, our suffering, rebuilding and joy.

The church is more than a mere field for the institutional stratification of religious community, it is the home for the most needful experiences of faith and life, for encouragement and growing in grace, for being conformed to the likeness of Jesus. It is, it should be, the place we come to find rest and peace.

Does that make the church perfect? Well there’s a sense in which the church is perfected but that has everything to do with Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father having done in our place all that was required in regard to being perfect and very little to do with us as confused and confusing children of God trying to make sense of it all.

The rest of us are just walking the path toward Christ together, sometimes better, sometimes worse, but always in hope, and our hope will not disappoint us; the Head of the church has overcome the world.

John 16:33