Introduction: What follows is a brief response which I made to a group that has been discussing the controversial posting "Lesson in Compromise" which reported an incident in the W. PA Conference proceedings during June 8 & 9, 2000 at Grove City College in Grove City, PA. The outgoing president of the W. PA Evangelical Connection made a response to that posting and received comments about it from persons outside the conference.xxxxxxxx:
I wasn't going to add anything more to this mix presently going on, but since I sort of started this thing, and it seems to have sparked some discussion, I will add a bit to it.
True, I was not in on the "negotiations" as Dale S. mentioned. Even if I had been asked, I would not have done so. This is a subject that is "non-negotiable!" As maintained at points on the web site, the only "dialog" allowable starts with a question, "Are you willing to repent?" And if not, that's the end of the "dialog!"
I presented the "Lesson in Compromise" as a series of happenings as the average delegate (nearly 1,000 total) would have experienced it starting with the propaganda style "yellow sheet" passed out. This was followed by the original P91 and then later with the substitute. The majority of delegates knew nothing of what had transpired behind the scenes. But it did become clear that something was going on when the MFSA/RTF rep and the president of WPAEC stood together at the microphone and made their appeals. That cannot be denied. Immediately I thought something like this -- "There's something wrong here, when the same gender coupling crowd finds this resolution acceptable and even appeals for its acceptance!"
I want to stress that I was not the only one who was upset. After this thing was over, I heard a number of comments expressed coming from those who had voted against the substitute (and there were a substantial number), and I did not initiate the conversations on that -- others were quicker than I to express themselves. Plus I have received emails from others in the W PA Conference who are in agreement with the way I presented it at "Lesson in Compromise."
I do intend to more fully develop the subject of "dialog" and how we have been taken in over the years to view homosexuals as a separate breed wherein we have to develop "specialized ministries" to them etc. If that is so essential, why do we not develop "specialized ministries" to the adulterers, the fornicators, the sex-with-children bunch, the sex-with-animals group, the incest group, the pornographic addicted group, etc? How about we single out and identify the need of ministry to those who afflicted with kelptomania, insomnia, claustophobia, and fear of the dark? Do not these persons need to be accepted and included also in our ministry?
There ought not be this singling out thing if we are engaged in ministry for our Lord Jesus Christ as spelled out in the BOD -- a good review of what we are about as individuals and as a church as defined and expanded about getting out into the world and making disciples for Jesus Christ is totally sufficient, because the homosexual bunch, which wants preferred treatment, is already included in the group of sinners that is to be confronted with the Gospel and the claims of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior!
But we know what the basic root problem in this conflict is do we not? We are dealing with growing numbers at all levels in the church that want an abominable lifestyle sanctioned, blessed, and legitimized! The best way to do that strategically is to draw the opposition into "dialog" and use the "ministry" smokescreen.
Uh, how many "dialog" sessions did John the Baptist have with those to whom he announced something about repenting? And Peter on the day of Pentecost? And likewise, Jesus? His "dialog" session in Matthew 23 seemed to fall apart, did it not? In the present United Methodist view, Jesus would probably be hauled before some BOOM session and admonished, "Now, brother, we just don't do things like that! You'll have to change your style of ministry or faces charges on violating the BOD of the United Methodist Church and risk losing your credentials to preach in the UMC!"
For a more complete discussion on the above subject go to a recent addition on the Range entitled, What About This Dialog Thing?.
In a world filled with violence, vulgarity, immorality, selfishness, greed, despair, despondency, hate and whatever other "negatives" one might want to add, the big question is -- can one find reason to hope in any way?
The answer of course is, "Yes!" You just saw a graphic with a picture of a cross. It is in the historical significance of what happened nearly 2,000 years ago on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem that a certain group of people have solid hope! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was brutally crucified but three days later came back from the dead! The people who have hope are known as Christians -- persons from many different nations of all ages and from a wide variety of social standings -- sharing one common experience -- they have repented of their sins -- have been born again of the Spirit of God -- have placed their faith and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord, and are committed to obeying Him and fulfilling the plan He has for their lives.
It is these, and these alone, who look forward to a cataclysmic world change at some point in the future when the powerful shout,
"The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"becomes a reality! For those in the "free" (term used loosely) United States this prospect poses an interesting question -- what do you suppose will be the reaction of the likes of the Clinton and Gore types, Cabinet Secretaries, members of the U.S. Congress, U.S. Supreme Court, military Joint Chiefs of Staff, powerful CEO's in the business community, leaders in our multitude of educational institutions, the psychologists and psychiatrists who are regarded as the final authority on human behavior in our culture, and others when that event takes place? For some of us at least in addition to the great jubilation, there may well be a great big sigh of RELIEF!
Watch that reference to God stuff!
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on April 25, 2000 that the state of Ohio's motto, "With God, all things are possible.", violates the U.S. Constitution as a government endorsement of religion!
Uh, do you suppose those justices have pondered the fact that within that statement, which was originally uttered by Jesus Christ, is allowance for the fact that all things possible with this God includes the possibility of judgment upon a nation where truth and justice are scorned and defiance of God's holy standards all too many times receives sanction and blessing even within the justice system of these United States? Are All God's Children?
Seems that when there are the big church assemblies, conferences, etc. there is much talk about diversity and inclusiveness -- according to a number of voices, particularly from church leaders, there ought to be space for ALL of God's children within the church that professes to be Christian in faith. The implication is that all human beings are children of God -- all ought to be included within the "church family" -- none should feel "excluded" or deprived!
Which leads to the question posed above -- are ALL children of God, or is there a dividing line? Ponder the statements in 1 John 3:1-10 ---Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.
Or how about that time when Jesus was in a dispute with some folks who claimed that God was their Father and He said to them in John 8:42-44:"If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it."
And then there is that radical named Paul the Apostle -- did he do a baddie when he said the following to a man named Elymas in Acts 13:10?"O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?"
This does get a little sticky at places! Would Jesus and Paul be "excluded" from some denominations because they suggest that there are people who are in a category known as "children of the devil?" Or would they be simply shipped off to a seminary for a "re-education" process so that they would have a new (and "politically correct") view which includes all persons regardless of their practices and lifestyles, and the Scriptures are simply regarded as being a human produced collection of writings open to any and every possible interpretation? As you will notice, both Jesus and Paul seemed to make an issue out of the fact that there are persons who have a serious problem in accepting truth as God has chosen to reveal it to the rebellious human race! And in Elymas'case, Paul labeled him as one guilty of "perverting the straight ways of the Lord!" And guess what? Elymas, being dead, still speaks in mainline denominations today!
Homosexual Issue - A Response to Professor Marjorie Suchocki
Marjorie Suchocki, professor of theology at United Methodist-related Claremont School of Theology, addressed the 52 governing members of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship during the last few days of September 2000.
According to UMNS release #450 Professor Suchocki indicated that the issues of homosexuality and creation science must be addressed by the church today and the Board of Discipleship is challenged to provide leadership in dealing with these matters.
"The issue of the division over homosexuality is not an issue of biblical authority," Suchocki said. "Jesus spoke strongly against divorce, but he never said a word about homosexuality." If people adhered to biblical authority, then there would be more discussion about such practices as the braiding of hair and the wearing of earrings, she said.
Professor Suchocki gets a grade of F- for trying to be clever on this one. Persons supportive of the same gender coupling lifestyle seem to be fond of making reference to Jesus’ supposed failure to mention the issue of homosexuality. Using that flawed logic then are we to assume that because Jesus made no reference to persons having sexual experiences with animals, then it is quite legitimate to do so in the name of “love?” Jesus made no specific reference to incest either, so then it apparently is alright for parents to engage in sexual practices with their children in the name of “love!” And Jesus made no reference to the issue of adults using children as sexual objects of pleasure, so in the name of “love” this must be acceptable – Jesus had no objections to it, right?
While Jesus did not explicitly single out homosexuality for condemnation, He certainly did so implicitly. At least a few may recall that He said in Matthew 5:18: "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Homosexuality was clearly singled out in the law as not merely being “sin” but rather an “abomination” which puts it in a unique category along with some other offenses that far exceed “sin” as being offensive and unacceptable to a holy God Who has chosen to establish the boundaries of sexual morality as practiced and experienced by members of the human race!
Where the same gender coupling crowd and sympathizers get really stopped cold is in the area of the new covenant and conditions for experiencing its reality and continuing in the same. Through the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel God indicated that He would arrange for a new covenant which would replace the covenant established at the time of Moses. This is confirmed in the book of Hebrews as we are told that the new covenant has been established through God’s Son, Jesus Christ. It would be nothing short of a miracle resulting in transformation of a person’s life from the inside out! The emphasis was on the fact that God stressed that He would write His laws in the minds and hearts of those who would respond to His challenge of repenting of sin and turning to Him. If the laws of God are “written” in one’s mind and heart, common sense tells us that the individual has a new motivation to be obedient to God’s laws in every aspect. (See Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 11:19-21 and 36:26,27; Hebrews 9:13-15 and 10:12-31) Note especially the fate of those who carelessly regard the significance of the covenant and have “insulted the Spirit of grace!” (NKJV)
But the unregenerate mind is at times diabolically clever in trying to dodge the issue. And so we have objections being raised that there were laws against eating certain foods, blah, blah, etc. It is understandable that the unregenerate mind in its attempt to justify what is clearly forbidden attempts to muddy the water by equating ceremonial and dietary practices under the O.T. covenant as opposed to moral law which is unchanging and eternal no matter what covenant was or is in force.
The lesson here is that you can’t make a blind man see the blue sky with white clouds, green grass, or brightly colored flowers! There is nothing to discuss or “dialog” about except the issue of repentance from a practice which God considers to be an abomination!
Clayton D. Harriger
Elder, W. PA Annual Conference
Web Site: Circuit Riders Range at www.crrange.com