When Intolerance/Difference of Theological Belief Leads To Unemployment

For starters, this post is not about me. I am not losing my job, but it is about a fellow minister who is currently in this unfortunate boat.

A minister colleague of mine posted on Facebook that his church had made the decision that they were going to withdraw from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination. On top of that, the governing body of the church had the right to terminate the minister, no congregational vote or anything.

The beginning of all of this started when the Kentucky Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at their last assembly voted to remove the restriction that stated that open homosexuals could not be ordained in the Region.  The measure passed by a wide margin and even church in the region had an opportunity to cast a vote and speak on the issue.   For my colleague’s church this was not enough.  They disagreed with the measure and thus have taken action.

The thing that I do not understand is that in the Disciples of Christ denomination, one our main tenets is the freedom of belief and the priesthood of all believers.  Under the notion of the freedom of belief, there are not hard and fast interpretations of the Bible broad casted from on high at some national office.  Each person is supposed to be lead by the Spirit to come up with an interpretation of themselves.  Now this does not mean that they are devoid of conversation with others or that they can not draw upon the knowledge of ministers and leaders, but it does mean that the conversation can not be had.  The Disciples are big proponents of local church authority and autonomy.  It is so the church can find an expression of faith that fits the congregation at hand.  No two Disciples churches look a like and that is a great thing.  The Bible is meant to expressed in a different ways to different people.  Gone are the days of cookie cutter religion and hello a place where questions are welcomed and discussions can be had.

Does this mean you can believe whatever you want?  In a sense yes and no… I mean you believed God was a water buffalo, you have missed the point of the gospel.  But for the most part, theologies are constantly in flux, they are growing and shaping over a course of a life time.  This does not mean that once you chose one particular way of believing or understanding the Bible that you are stuck with it forever.  This is where I believe this congregation might have jumped the gun.  What is wrong with having differing theological opinions   What is wrong with having a good discussion based on and around the notion that in the end we are still welcome and able to come around the Table of Grace under the common bond of Jesus Christ.  I hate to tell this congregation but even though they differ on this issue, there are still people within the remnant that do not see eye to eye on every piece of theology, its quite impossible for that to happen.

I am saddened for my friend and colleague and pray that he will find a church that will accept him and his understanding of the gospel.

 

May it be so.

 

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

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August 2012 Top Posts

August was a HUGE month for the blog.  Even though I did not blog that often due to the busyness of my schedule, records were still set!  During the month of August the blog was visited 4354 times!  That is more that the previous 6 months COMBINED (4335)!

A GIGANTIC thank you for reading, supporting and sharing!!!

Here are the top five posts from the month of August

  1. The Problem With The Chick-Fil-A Debate
    • My thoughts about the “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day”
  2. Robots, Arrogance and the Gospel
    • This is an oldie but a goodie… people are still receiving robo-calls from Prophet Mannesh and they are googling the number…
  3. When Did We Stop Caring for People?
    • My thoughts on the amount of press “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” received verses the amount of reaction people gave to Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin.
  4. And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part VII
    • A church cancels a wedding due to race
  5. Opening Ceremonies = Acceptance?
    • What can  we learn from the Opening Ceremonies?

Thank you again for supporting me and I hope to post more in the coming future!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

 

And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part V

It has been a while since I have had to write in this series… but alas, Christians are giving Christians a bad name… again.

I want to thank my friend Amy for sending me this story, you can read it here.

Today we venture to the state of Alabama, known for its tolerance and racial equality… right?  Think again….

A Christian ministry based in Alabama held a ministry conference.  There was however one stipulation, it was for white people only… that’s correct, a white only Christian conference.

After doing a bit more research and watching some news videos (one posted below) I was shocked (sarcasm) to find out that the conference had KKK ties.

I respect every human beings right to believe what they want but the KKK is one that I have problems wrapping my brain around.  The notion that one particular race is the superior one and that it was ordained from God is logic that escapes me.

For starters, Jesus Christ himself wasn’t white. (I dont care what Hollywood or pop culture tells you… examples here, here and here and even the most popular one here). You would think that if God was going to make the white race the superior one, that God would indwell in a white man.  Secondly, if God is pro-white as these people claim, then why did God create other races to the begin with?  So they could be picked on, ostracized, killed, and tortured because they have pigment in this skin?  Wouldn’t it have just been easier for God not to create the other races and have a pure, white race to inhabit the earth?

Also, where in scripture is this supported?  I can not remember Jesus ever saying “and white people shall inherit the earth…”  In the video below the news reporter tries to ask this question.  The reporter brings up the fact that in Galatians 3 it states that  there is “neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  There are numerous passages in the Bible that speak of the reconciliation of Christ and the unity of all believers.  Sure Christ was seen a counter cultural radical to some, but not a white supremacist.  He didn’t even preach that God was 100% pro-Jewish people either; remember the woman at the well and the parable of the Good Samaritan?  There are other instances where Christ was showing that the God of all the world is wanting to connect with all people of the earth.

The leader of the conference told the reporter that he was taking scripture out of context and was abusing the Bible… isnt that like the pot calling the kettle black? (no pun intended…)  I mean come on… really?  Is this even an argument?  The Bible has been used for and against pretty much every issue under the sun.  However, the notion that in the text there is a decree or teaching that to be a true faithful of God is to have a certain color skin, goes against the foundation of the gospel message itself.  This distorts a text that people have turned to for centuries to connect with the faithful of old, to understand (or try) the movement of God in the world and learn what is means to be a follower of Christ in the world today.

At the conclusion of this event, the white members where going to hold a “sacred cross burning.”   Umm…. OK….

Seriously?  Do they think that if they put the word ‘sacred’ that everyone will be ok with this?  Like sacred murder is ok because it is sacred?  Sacred grilled cheeses taste better because they are sacred?  This is a blatant attempt to justify a practice that has stood as the symbol of hate, racism and bigotry.

All of this is not what Christianity stands for.  Yes, there was a time when the church was on the wrong side of history and supported segregation and even slavery.  But as the church has grown and changed, so have our understandings of God and how God interacts in the world.  For the mast majority of Christians, the idea of burning a cross or segregating people based on skin color is appalling.  Some would argue that the church has not left its segregation roots; many churches today are still prodominately one race or another.  While this is true, it is not mandated by law and there are plently of integrated churches holding worship services together.  Because of this, it shows me that the church has a little more work to do in the area of race relations.  (The Disciples of Christ in 2001 cast a vision of being a “Pro-Reconcillation/Anti-Racism Church, read more about it here.)

The cause of Christ is one that aims to restore all people to wholeness and completeness, to show them a way to connect to the Divine.  Christ welcomed all and so should the church and all of those who claim to be Christ’s followers.

I dont care what color you skin, hair, nails, or clothes happens to be all should be welcomed to experience God.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan



When Humanity Rears Its Ugly Head

This is my latest article for the Orange Country Record.


This week marked the fourteenth year anniversary of one of the worst acts ever inflicted on another human being.  On June 7, 1998, James Byrd, Jr., a Beaumont native, was savagely murdered.  He was murdered not by accident rather for the simple fact that he was an African-American man.  In one gruesome act, three white supremacist let intolerance of another human begin blind them to drag a man behind a truck until his death in the small Southeast Texas town of Jasper.

One of the three who took part in Byrd’s murder, Lawrence Russell Brewer, never apologized or sought forgiveness in the public eye. In fact, before his execution in 2011 he said, “As far as any regrets, no, I have no regrets. No, I’d do it all over again, to tell you the truth.”  A chilling answer.

Humanity on the whole has never been perfect.  Wars have been fought over small amounts of land; people in roles of authority overstep their boundaries in search for more and more power.  There are even laws are in place to protect individuals against bad business practices and to ensure our food is handled safely.

In the book of Genesis, the author writes that at the end of the creation story, God declared that the world was “very good.”  It must have been a really nice place, but not so much now.

In the midst of all of this, the Church is called on to make sense of it all.   The church is called to try to bridge the gap that seems to exist between what should be and what really is, to try to answer the question of why there is such a disparity.  Surely not all of this is consequence of sin way back in the Garden of Eden.

Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, once wrote in his text “The Seven Storey Mountain”: “It is only the infinite mercy and love of God that has preserved us from tearing ourselves to pieces and destroying [God’s] entire creation long ago. People seem to think that it is in some way a proof that no merciful God exists, if we have so many wars. On the contrary, consider how in spite of centuries of sin and greed and lust and cruelty and hatred and avarice and oppression and injustice, spawned and bred by the free wills of men [and women], the human race can still recover, each time, and can still produce men and women who over come evil with good, hatred with love, greed with charity, lust and cruelty with sanity. How could all this be possible without the merciful love of God, pouring out [God’s] grace upon us?”

At our best humanity can be full of compassion and love and care, but at our worst humanity can be greedy, hateful and repugnant.  Contrary to popular belief followers of Christ are not immune to this.  Some of the worst atrocities ever committed have sadly been in the name of God.  For some, this is an indication that Christianity does (or did) not care of people’s relationship with God rather their focus is on being correct.

Christ’s ministry on earth was grounded in the notion of love, care and acceptance.  Christ came to establish a way of understanding and relating to others as well as to God.  But more than that Christ was the embodiment of the Divine on earth.  As Christians we strive to emulate Christ in all that we do but sometime we fall short.

I have no answer to what drove three men to brutally kill another human being.  We can blame their upbringing, we can blame drugs, we can blame violent video games, we can blame a health care system that doesn’t adequately treat those with mental illnesses.  But that is too easy.  In the end we have to look inside ourselves.  Stories like this one make our stomachs turn into knots over the loss of innocence.  At some levels we empathize with Byrd family but know that it is the human condition, a condition that is in every person on earth, which drove these men to kill.  Does that mean we will do the same? No, but it does mean that it is not some external influence that is causing crimes around the world; it’s the simple fact that we are human beings, driven to do what we want, when we want it with no regard for others.

This is what Christ came to stop.  The answer to the human condition must be found in the gospel.  Christ’s message of love was revolutionary and it can do the same for us today.  The gospel can restore people to completeness and wholeness.

At the end of the day, people like Lawrence Russell Brewer are children of God, created in the same divine image as the most religious, well-intentioned Christian.  It might be hard to believe, but it is true.

And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part III

I didn’t think I would be writing another one of these post for while.  But Christians are giving Christians a bad name… again…

For some reason unknown to any one but him, Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in North Carolina took to the pulpit to speak on President Obama’s recent statements affirming same-sex marriage. Now North Carolina was in a big debate regarding this issue and in a statewide vote denied same sex couples the right to marry; no doubt that was fresh on his mind when he came to service.

A little over a week ago I posted an audio clip from Pastor Sean Harris who advocated to hit your children if they “acted gay.” You can read (or re-read it here).  While Pastor Harris’ comments were out of line, Pastor Worley’s comments leaves Pastor Harris’ comments in the dust… Why?  Worley advocates murder.

In the video posted below, Pastor Worley goes on a two-minute rant about homosexuals, the President and what his solution to the “gay problem.”  In the video he says,

“I had a way I figured a way out…a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers. Build a great big, large fence 150 or 100 mile long – put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. And have that fence electrified until they can’t get out. Feed them and you know what in a few years – they’ll die out. You know why – they can’t reproduce.”

On a personal note, the video was extremely hard to listen to.  Not only does he advocate for a group of people to be killed he is doing it from the pulpit in a church which is supposed to be a holy place AND has the audacity to say this comes from God.  At one point he says that the Bible is “again” it and that God is “again” it.  Also, what is disheartening is that fact that members of his congregation were “amening” and agreeing with what he had to say.  Glad they are practicing that love of Christ… glad they love all people just like God loved them dispite their faults.  If (as some say) all sins are equal in the eyes of God then why are they stratifying this particular sin?  Which is it Pastor Worley and the members who agree of Providence Road Baptist Church in North Carolina?  Are all sins equal or does God have a “Top Ten” list of the sins one is not to commit with homosexuality at the top?  Why are you trying to make disciples in your image of God?

Pastor Worley I believe you and I (and millions of other people) are reading different Bibles.  Jesus Christ (the one you are supposed to be following) never called for the murder of a group of people just because they were different and didn’t think the say way he did.  History lesson: Hitler did that… so… think about that…

Christ being the compassionate person that he was sought out the ‘other’ to be in relationship with him/her to tell them that God still LOVES them for WHO THEY ARE.  Don’t believe me?  Check out your Bible… there are more passages about loving your neighbor and being the hands and feet of God than there are about homosexuality being wrong.

Trust me… actually don’t… look it up for yourself, you might learn something. 🙂

You can watch the video below… if you want… as well as a member trying to defend her pastor’s position on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan