Sunday, December 12, 2010

LGBTQ persons have clearly demonstrated spritual gifts for ministry

There are among us at this very moment LGBTQ individuals with an interior sense of call who many have testified are gifted with spiritual charisms for ordained ministry.(1) That there have been in the past, are currently, and will be in the future, powerful preachers, teachers, leaders, and caregivers who happen to be LGBTQ persons is amply witnessed.(2) Since ordained ministry in the Reformed tradition is strictly a division of function, and not of holiness, there can be no justification for denying their gifts for service.(3) With Peter we ask “surely no one can stand in the way of the Holy Spirit?”(4)

1. If this was not clearly the case, there would be no issue to debate.  If LGBTQ persons were not gifted for service by the Holy Spirit, we could all easily walk away from this discussion.  The problem arises when we acknowledge the fact that they are clearly the recipients of gifts for ministry, demonstrate these gifts alongside their sisters and brothers, and are yet denied ordination.

2. Again, this can easily be observed at any seminary which admits LGTBQ persons, and if one looks and thinks carefully, has already been demonstrated publicly many times by those who find a way to serve despite our mistaken polity. We genuinely hope no one believes it is reasonable to argue to the contrary.

3. See the previous arguments - holiness is a gift from God.  Ordination to ministry of Word and Sacrament is a particular calling in the context of a priesthood of all believers, all of whom are called to ministry of some kind.  This means that the best test for a particular call is: how well equipped is the person in question?

4. We believe this to be true.  In the long run, we cannot stand in the way of the Holy Spirit, which is breaking into our mistaken polity even now.  Though we can drag our feet and bray and squirm, the power of God will not be denied.  God has called, is calling, and will continue to call our LGBTQ sisters and brothers.  Period.  All we can do is temporarily stand in the way.


Fr. Chris Larimer said...


Balaam's donkey.


The dissenters at Corinth.

What do they all have in common?

They were spiritually gifted individuals who bore no good spiritual fruit. You have mistaken spiritual gifting for spiritual fruit.

Christ said look at the fruit, not the gift. Gifts are wild...they are sent to challenge us, to edify us, and to unsteady us. "Can God not raise up sons of Abraham from these stones?" The answer, when we see powerful gifts in the hands of the wicked, is "Yes."

Spiritual fruit, however, is character. It is the result of a "long obedience in the same direction" - and that is why when Paul is finishing setting the churches in order, he points to the fruit of the lives of the men whom are to be set apart for office. This is precisely why, when you look at the NT references to Balaam, they are filled with warnings. They warn of greed and sexual immorality...precisely what is tearing the mainline apart today. What sort of fruit is being reaped?

Spiritual gifting is not what qualifies a person for the work of ministry. Rather, it is a life in conformity to God's Word; a life marked by obedience that cultivates a character, leading to spiritual fruit.

Look at the fruit.

May the coming King grant us all true repentance.

Fr. Chris, a sinner.

Alan said...

"Spiritual fruit, however, is character. It is the result of a 'long obedience in the same direction'"

Funny coming from a guy who changes direction when it suits his job search.

Anyway just do a search and replace for the word "gifts" for "fruit" and the argument still holds. Problem solved.

Doug Hagler said...

@ Chris: If you stuidously ignore the fruits borne by the ministry of LGBTQ persons; if you idiotically call them "wicked" with no evidence (or call someone wicked - you are very vague who you are talking about); if you ignore every argument we've made up to this point; if you ignore the counters we've published to arguments like this one; if you ignore the content of the argument of this very article; I suppose then your point applies here.

As it doesn't. False analogy. Try again. Although I'm sure you will find plenty of welcome for it elsewhere.

Doug Hagler said...

In fact, I dare you to look at the fruits. Not at the examples you give, of inter-denominational conflict, because that will always be there - every move toward justice is resisted. Show me that LGBTQ persons who are called and gifted for ministry are wicked and evil. Based on the fruits of their behavior, not on your wild fantasies.

Again, *as we already said above*, if "they" were clearly wicked, there would be no discussion. It is precisely because they clearly bear good fruit that we are discussing this right now.

And you may not just say "of course they're wicked - they're teh Gay!" I mean actual, demonstrated wickedness across the board. To make sweeping claims like yours, then LGBTQ ministers, elders, deacons and so on *all* have to be like Saul at his worst.

And bear in mind, many of the arguments you might employ have already been thoroughly beaten in previous posts. So tread carefully.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

The arguments haven't been beaten. You've just tossed the norming power of Scripture and its right interpretation which has been unmixed for more than 4000 years on this issue.

When I say "wicked" I mean in the judgment of Scripture. It would be equally wicked to have bigamists, known unrepentant adulterers, and divorcees in such places. All of these matters are of a piece. I'm sorry that the church got so sloppy on the rest of fornication/adultery that it singled in on homosexuality to assuage its guilt. But the solution is not to undo all the scriptural prohibitions, but rather to get back to enforcing them as weighted in Scripture itself.

And the problem is not "interdenominational." It strikes at EVERY level of ecclesial communion. The Reformed churches around the world are breaking fellowship with the apostates in the West over this issue. The same thing is going on in the Anglican, Methodist, and Lutheran communions. The only ones not falling apart over this issue are the Roman and Orthodox Communions; not because of failures of discipline (of which there have been plenty), but because they continue in the doctrine that was handed to them by the apostles.

Alan - We've dealt with this before. Any institution that doesn't hold presbyters to the Nicene Creed has NO right to call itself a Christian church. Therefore, if I was to be a presbyter in Christ's Church, the PCUSA was no longer an option - at least not in Holston Presbytery.

Aric Clark said...

Side point - 4000 years? Is that a typo? What Bible are you reading man?

We agree that fruits as much as gifts are important, and they settle the argument even more strongly in the direction of inclusion. It takes a strange kind of myopia not to see the depth of character, goodness of heart, virtue, and kindness of LGBTQ individuals seeking ordination right now who are my personal friends. Get to know one of these people well and you'd have to have pharoah's hardness of heart not to change your mind immediately.

But I have every confidence in your ability to resist the movement of the Spirit.

Aric Clark said...

I apologize for the snide aside, it really was meant as a jest. We've been going round in circles on this for so many years now that I have a hard time not treating it with humor.

For that reason, I'm not going to respond to your last comment because I'm incapable of treating it with seriousness.

Kattie W. Coon said...

I made up my mind in favor of inclusion when I realized that the anti-inclusion side almost never relates any of their argument to first hand observations of real, breathing, people. The anti-inclusion side looks more and more like the Pharisees the closer you look at them.

Doug & Aric, I really appreciate the work you're putting into this. Keep telling it the way it is.

Aric Clark said...

Chris, none of your comments were deleted. We don't have moderation turned on and haven't deleted anything but spam in my memory. Blogger is just being funky this morning cause I received this one 3 times in my email, and it appears here out of order.

Doug Hagler said...

I deleted one of my comments to replace it with a better comment. Chris, your comments, while repetitive and referencing arguments we've already dismantled thoroughly, are sacrosanct. Insofar as we won't delete them. Even if you start on personal attacks, those only strengthen our position (they didn't help Tom Hobson) so we'll probably leave them up.

We will, however, make fun of them. The hard work is already done from our side, so we're going to enjoy ourselves.

@ Kattie: Thanks!

Doug Hagler said...

Really, I'm just happy these positive arguments are getting some 'love'. They felt a little lonely up to now.

Christine said...

Well said. This point of your argument is so obvious that it beggars belief that anyone would refute it.

Alan said...

"Therefore, if I was to be a presbyter in Christ's Church"

"If" is a key word there. That's assuming you have either a call or gifts for ministry. Perhaps God was just trying to give you a little hint ... that you didn't take because you do not have the gift of discernment?

This is why it is rather ironic for you to criticize the call, the gifts or the fruits of anyone else's ministry when yours is evidently suspect itself. Look at the fruit (*guffaw*). Apparently many did and found it seriously lacking, yet you shrugged that off and simply changed denominations and theologies to suit your employment needs.

So where's that leave you?

Though why you even care enough the PCUSA -- which you imply has no right to call itself a church (funny how easily your tune has changed) -- is a mystery.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Alan, this isn't a referendum on my fitness for ministry. That has already been answered by a bishop in succession from the apostles (per Acts 2:42) and reaffirmed in my recent call as rector of a congregation. If you wish to get personal, do it at your blog or mine. This isn't the place.

The question of the PCUSA's claim to being a church is answered each and every year by the laity. Are the sheep being gathered around the shepherd's voice, or are they being scattered? Are those in the fold being discipled into mature Christians who practice spiritual disciplines (including study)? Surveys reported in the Presbyterian Panel answer this quite effectively.

The fact that neither the Apostles nor the Nicene Creed is binding on the officers & laity invites all churches holding the catholic faith to question the legitimacy of the PCUSA's claims to ecclesial status. Baptism can be pointed to by Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, but they cannot claim catholic creedal Christianity. It is my contention that in actuality, neither can the PCUSA.

Why do I care? Because I was nourished by PCUSA folks who not only held the catholic faith, but held the 16th c. recovery of the Gospel as central to their lives. They connected me to Christ and it was in that context I first heard my call to the priesthood.

As for why this issue is vexing, it's strange that there are denominations that will happily ordain practicing homosexuals (UCC, MCC, even ECUSA). Why cause such a stir among those that won't if they're so gifted?

Doug Hagler said...

Chris - do you understand that the last paragraph was self-contradictory and hypocritical?

Here, imagine this: a person who is not allowed to be ordained because they are gay says the following -

"Why do I care? Because I was nourished by PCUSA folks who not only held the catholic faith, but held the 16th c. recovery of the Gospel as central to their lives. They connected me to Christ and it was in that context I first heard my call to the priesthood."

Now, say your own words back to yourself, in answer to your last question.

What you are continually blind to is that there is nothing special about your experience - it is quite similar to the experience of call of every LGBTQ person, as well as every heterosexual person like yourself. There's no magic that you have that they're missing.

In fact, that's the *point* of the last few posts. And is also why I have no hope of getting through to you - making cogent arguments won't get you there. Maybe nothing will, who knows? I just didn't want to let that self-contradiction stand as if it was valid.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

There is a difference: I don't have an impediment to ministry that the people of the PCUSA (through their repeated presbytery declarations over three decades) have recognized despite a committed revisionist core.

Ordination is not about individual affirmation. That's the fatal flaw in all of these approaches to the question. It's not about making women feel bad or good, it's not about making LGBTQxyz feel bad or good. It's about fidelity to the God who reveals Himself through the Scriptures and has led His church through the millenia.

If Christianity is an ethical system which we are free to reform as best suits present exigencies, then change it. But if it is a revealed religion - the means by which sinful, fallen, benighted souls are connected to the one true God - then any attempt to "improve upon the justice of God" will disconnect us from Him.

Aric Clark said...


It isn't one or the other. Christianity didn't fall out of the sky it began, continued, and continues only as practiced by living people in an incredible variety of forms. There is no attempt to "improve upon the justice of God" - only feeble attempts to get us closer to the justice of God which hasn't fully arrived, and those who, as ever, continue to resist the inbreaking of God's reign.

Doug Hagler said...

Never argued that ordination was about individual affirmation. A swing and a miss! Try again, Chris.

Alan said...

"If you wish to get personal, do it at your blog or mine. This isn't the place."

This is personal. It is about your personal opinion and your fitness for critiquing the ministry of others, given your own problems. That you don't recognize that is part of the problem. You have decided that you are able to discern the fitness of ministry of an entire group of millions of people whom you have never met based on zero evidence (since you have never met them, you cannot make any claims about their fitness for ministry, unless you are planning on changing theologies yet again and suggest that ESP is now part of your theology.) I, on the other hand, am not making any statements based on stereotype of an entire group of people, but instead am stating that I have decided that you are unfit for ministry based on observation of your vindictiveness, disingenuousness, immaturity, lack of compassion, and bigotry.

That you were not approved for ministry in the PCUSA is only an indication that the process, in general, works. That you instead decided to abandon, not just the PCUSA, but any Presbyterian denomination shows how desperate you were for just another job anywhere they'd take you, regardless of the theology.

"I don't have an impediment to ministry"

Says you.

"it's strange that there are denominations that will happily ordain practicing homosexuals"

In other words, he's ticked off that the PCUSA might consider ordaining queers when they wouldn't ordain him. *That* is the real and obvious issue here.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Alan, I left the process in Holston because it failed 2 of the three tests the Scots Confession puts forth as marks of the True Church. There were no less than 3 executive presbyters with whom I was in conversation. They were willing to receive me as a candidate and, after a 6 month period to get to know me, proceed with readiness certification. If I had wanted to have the PCUSA set me apart for the presbyterate, it would have been a relatively straight forward process. I left, though Holston was happily pushing me out the door.

And you misunderstand the nature of who is deciding. I'm not; it's already been established in Holy Writ. Those who believe God has spoken, that Christ entrusted this ministry to the apostles, and they in turn entrusted it to other faithful men (and were led of the Holy Spirit to communicate orally and in written form the necessary matters for passing it on) look to God's voice where He so plainly speaks on this matter. I am simply announcing the standard. I didn't decide it or make it up. The only thing I can do is announce it and (if given the authority) apply it.

The standard is relatively simple on this point. Sexually, anyone who is having sex outside of a marriage between one man and one woman is not qualified. Period. It's really that simple. That means that adulterers, fornicators, and others are not qualified to hold the office. Depending on how one interprets the "husband of one wife" standard, it may also mean that divorcees are not permitted (with the possible exceptions of abandonment and adultery as dissolving the bond). These are the same criteria that have been applied for 1950 years of the Christian presbyterate...and only recently have been challenged. While "apt to teach, hospitable, not given to wine" etc. are all necessary, the presence of all of them in a candidate who does not meet the standard on this one mark does not negate its necessity. Again, because marriage is a sign of Christ's relationship with the church. And all other arrangements make Christ out to be an adulterer or, just as bad, equal to the church in role or authority.

I suggest that the broader view of current events merely demonstrates the wisdom of the Tradition as well as its correct interpretation of the standard.

Aric Clark said...


You are not going to make any headway here suggesting women submit to men, be excluded from ministry, or be regarded as anything other than equals. This is a settled argument for us. I will not argue it anymore than I would argue with you about the morality of chattel slavery. That you continue to bring up women's ordination, divorce, and other issues as related undermines your arguments, it does not support them. You are on the wrong side of history on these matters. I hope someday you are able to see that.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

As Gene Robinson pointed out to a group of pro-gay-ordination Roman Catholics, women's ordination is the necessary first step. It is a one-piece camel. Once the nose is in the tent, the rest is sure to follow. (Look at how rapidly it has happened.)

And I think you are illogically lumping chattel slavery with egalitarianism in church office. (Let's be very clear - I'm not suggesting inequality, merely difference in calling; and it is specifically to the presbyterate.) The church catholic has never been for chattel slavery, though for a time the social & economic setting of the Americas made it seem a viable option. It had been condemned numerous times by the church catholic. The situation is MUCH more analagous to womens ordination & homosexual clergy - social pressures seem to ask the local churches to bend Scriptural teaching and catholic tradition. Nevertheless, the church catholic has spoken through history and continues to speak around the world regarding the legitimacy of WO and LGBTQ-O.

Alan said...

"Alan, I left the process in Holston because it failed 2 of the three tests the Scots Confession puts forth as marks of the True Church. "

Uh huh. Funny coincidence that you only figured that out after you got the boot. I wasn't aware that theological expediency for the sake of a job is a mark of true preaching.

"And you misunderstand the nature of who is deciding. I'm not;..."

You are correct, you are not. As you have left the PCUSA, the decision is, fortunately, not up to you. And again, since you believe the PCUSA is not a true church, it is obvious that your opinion isn't about correction or rebuke, but whining and complaint about your own supposedly unfair treatment at the hands of those who would dare welcome queers.

You're welcome to your opinion, but I think it is abundantly obvious to anyone but you that your particular position on this issue is more about sour grapes than anything having to do with the Word. Particularly given the surprising weakness of the arguments you've presented. While Anglicans have a long history of rigorous theological thought, clearly that's a tradition you have not yet accommodated. Perhaps more time spent understanding your new church home than criticizing your past church home would be a good idea.

"I didn't decide it or make it up."

And you take no responsibility for your interpretation. How convenient for you. Again, taking the easy way out. You have made up your particular interpretations, just as those who did so in support of slavery.

Now, if you were still a Calvinist, I'd bring up the doctrine of Total Depravity, and note that contrary to your arrogant attitude, every one of your particular opinions is tainted by sin. But it appears you've given up on that bit of inconvenient theology as well, so I won't bother.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Here we go again, pharisaical interpretation of laws!

Although Chris’ theology does appear to have changed somewhat in the past few years, his pharisaical tendencies seem to be going strong. If I was to try to discern his fitness for ordained service based upon what I have observed of him on the Internet over the past several years, in relation to what is taught in the Bible, I would declare him unfit to serve. But then again, I don’t really know him personally, so I won’t qualify myself to make that discernment.

When I hear modern day people declare sexual sin based entirely upon what part goes into what rather than what is in the heart of each partner in the relationship, I see them as modern day Pharisees, and I am convinced they don’t understand the essentials of Jesus’ ministry.

I find it curious how someone can essentially state and hold the opinion that it is okay to disagree over what Paul meant when he said an overseer should be “the husband of one wife”, but take the opinion that it is not okay to disagree over what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10, or Romans 1. I’ve always found it helpful to go to Martin Luther’s 1545 translation, and all of the later revisions up until the mid 20th century, of Leviticus 18 and 20 and also 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 any time someone tries to throw the argument that it isn’t okay to disagree about the meaning of those texts, or that the Church has held to the same interpretation of those passages for millennia. Those who argue that we can’t reasonably disagree based upon some univocal historical interpretation are simply telling lies.

Alan said...

"But then again, I don’t really know him personally, so I won’t qualify myself to make that discernment."

Feel free. You most certainly know far more about him than he knows about the complete strangers whose ministries he disparages.

Doug Hagler said...

Wow - 25 comments. Chris, you do a lot to bring traffic, I'll say that.

Ok ok, Kattie and Alan, attacking Chris and his ideas won't get you anywhere, and it isn't the kind of thing that a person can hear even if they wanted to. I see no good coming from this back and forth; it's just escalating to no end.

Chris, you already know that we think arguing that women aren't the equals of men is garbage, and will get you no traction on this thread, as Aric pointed out. I also don't think you're actually addressing our arguments in a meaningful way, and all I want to do is respond with snark. Not good.

So, I feel like I should get as close to moderating as we get. I think we're about done on this thread, unless anyone wants to speak directly to the post itself. And really, 26 comments deep, I'm not sure anyone but the five of us will be reading this far anyway.

Tomorrow will be another post.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Alan, Your history is wrong. I submitted my complaint for action to be taken regarding the public, repeated, and entrenched heretical position of a MoWaS in the presbytery. I was told that his teaching wasn't the problem but that people who "couldn't get along" were. It was only then that I went into discerning whether or not I could still perform Christian ministry in the PCUSA. I couldn't (though there are plenty who are able to do so), so I left in search of a church that would 1) hold creedal catholic orthodoxy as the sufficient statement of Christian orthodoxy, while allowing a measure of freedom on the rest; 2) had a similar or better historical continuity than the PCUSA; and 3) permitted a Reformed position within her ranks. The Anglican Church was the right fit. That's the story, Alan. Until my recent election as rector of a parish, I've been entirely self-supporting so I'm not sure where you're getting the "in it for the money" or "in it for the job" slander. And I do wish you would quit repeating it; it's baseless.

Kattie, while positions are relatively easily represented on line, personal warmth is harder. Someone described my pastoral manner as silk velvet over a backbone of steel. Unfortunately, in online interactions where we contest for the faith once for all delivered, the very nature of the interlocution means you pretty much only see the steel. For that, I'm sorry.

Let me just point you back to the fruit of this whole debate, because that's where I began and we've taken too many sidetrails and personal excursions. The change to the understanding of ordination requirements in the last 50 years is historically unprecedented. It has not contributed to the peace, unity, or purity of the church bodies embroiled in them. And we would all do well to remember the words of the apostles:

Romans 16:17-20 "17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil."

Titus 3:10f "10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."

The assertion of a cadre of revisionists over the unaltered voice of the church catholic (and the repeated conclusion of the denominations of whom they are part) is not a struggle for justice. No one is owed ordination. Instead, it is divisive and unprecedented, and not recognizably an organic development of the church's doctrine.

Doug Hagler said...

I agree with the steel metaphor - fixed, dense, impenetrable and incapable of growth :p

You're still wrong for the reasons you were wrong 3 years ago. It's also still hypocritical for you to hold up the peace and unity of the church. You are one who 'stirs up division' every chance you get - a cursory glance at your blog in past years will tell anyone that. You, like those you disagree with, stir up division for what you think are good reasons.

Just because you can't recognize this movement as an outgrowth of the church's doctrine doesn't really mean anything. You are also consistently unable to deal with any of our arguments demonstrating that it is precisely an outgrowth of the church's doctrine - doctrines which rightly do not include misogyny.

Alan said...

"And I do wish you would quit repeating it; it's baseless."

Get used to disappointment.

I wish meddlesome busybodies, fusspots, tattletales and scolds like you would mind their own business and stop badgering queers for fun and profit. But that isn't likely to happen either.

Your rank hypocrisy is not one of the fruits of a real ministry, but Doug is right, that's not a lesson it seems that you will ever learn.

Oh well. Season's Greetings!

Kattie W. Coon said...


" in online interactions where we contest for the faith once for all delivered, the very nature of the interlocution means you pretty much only see the steel. For that, I'm sorry."

That is why I pointed out that I didn't qualify myself for discernment in your case, and I'm glad to see you helping me make my case against discernment without first hand, direct, personal relationship. Passing 10-A should help us in that regard. Artificial barriers just don't work.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Yes. 10-A should definitely help out. We shouldn't prejudge people who haven't been to seminary or college...they may make fine pastors. Same thing for people who happen to have more than one spouse. (I can you legitimately be a faithful bisexual unless you express the full extent of your sexual desire?) Prejudging based on such arbitrary categories is just mean and not communal or contextual or whatnot.

Again, once the normativity of heterosexual monogamous marriage is tossed out: 1) we lose a key representation of Christ's relationship to His church; 2) we begin to shift our idea of who God is because He told us that His image is borne by the male-female humanity; 3) anything else goes in terms of porneia.

Alan, it's a lover's quarrel I have with the PCUSA. Lots of friends and loved ones, colleagues, etc. I still teach Bible studies at a PCUSA church every week. Upholding what the church has taught & believed uninterrupted for 2000-6000 years doesn't make one a busy-body or fusspot.

Aric: Misogyny is saying that there's no difference between men and women, and so we should expect women to behave just like men (the most base of men, I might add). True feminism celebrates doesn't try to destroy it by making it look like manhood.

Aric & Doug: Thanks for hosting the conversation. I hope you get a good healthy spike in web traffic.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Honestly Chris, I think the PC(USA)educational requirement should be relaxed. We should examine what a candidated knows, not what seat he warmed.

It's all about the gifts, how they are expressed, and the fruit they bear. This is best determined on a case by case basis.

Nick.Larson said...

I would also like to point out that you Chris are looking for a church that holds to the standards set out by men, not God. It seems as though you have mostly found that good for you. To state out right that other denominations are not part of the Christian church, for shame.

I belong and am ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) which does not hold to standards written by men (or women for that matter), namely creeds, but seek to stand by our only confession of Christ as Lord and Savior. In seeking ordination, our process judges each individuals ability to interept, teach, and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have to say that I was lovingly and tenderly challenged to express my understandings of God and tested in my ability to administer the sacraments. It is my hope that the PCUSA's process of ordination can seek to more fully embrace that standard rather than seek to embrace a methodology of ordination that was created seperate from the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Nick: Big words coming from someone whose church was basically made up by the US Census Bureau. Worse, Barton Stone was a Trinity-denying heretic. And while few "Christian Churches" take his extreme position, the fact that Jim Jones was a DoC makes me stop and ask if such doctrinal laxity is good for the church. Is it still acceptable to be a non-Trinitarian in the DoC?

Too many "Bible & Me" Christians act as if the Holy Spirit did nothing in the life of the church between the moment of the Apostles death and the moment they personally got saved (or maybe their individual church). You trade the continuance in the doctrine of the Apostles (which was not all written down, as the Scriptures themselves attest) for a hermeneutic where, apart from the assurance of apostolic doctrine, everyone is able to make it up as they go along. That's not the church that the Apostles handed on. It's trading a handful of bishops for an infinitude of them. Which is precisely why all "Restoration"" religion comes to schism and evidences none of the unity that Christ prayed for (John 17).

If your definition of what makes one a Christian permits Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons to claim the faith, then you're not continuing in the faith of the Apostles. And thus, anyone who holds the catholic faith which was defined, not discovered, in the catholic creeds has no right to recognize as Christian those who repudiate the same.

Nick.Larson said...

See your missing the point already. I can't speak for the DoC. I can tell you my view on the matter. The question isn't if you can be non-trinitarian in the DoC because I would guess that there are some non-trinitarians in the pews of the DoC, but rather does the "church" and institution created by man after Christ. I believe that the church is not something you can seperate from each and every Christ confessing man, woman, and child. The church already has many different views in it.

You and I stand on very different ground when it comes to what we believe about the church. I, nor bishops, nor men, nor women, nor homosexuals, nor bigots, nor sinners, nor saints, nor pope get to decide the church believes, and what is good for it. I for one already have a savior, and don't need that from the church.

I need a community of faith that will help me to live my life as closely as I can to what I believe Jesus calls me to be. If that means serving the church, so be it.

If there is a community of Christ followers that will call someone into their service because they faithfully believe them to be the best person then I support them, even if I don't agree with all of their theological stances.

The fact is that I love my church, my denomination, and have great respect for the unity of the church. I believe the Holy Spirit has done a great many things in the history of the Christian church, just as I continue to believe that the Holy Spirit is still acting, creating, and forming the church. I'm not trashing or denying the confessions of the church, some are thoughtful doctrinal statements infused with the work of the Holy Spirit that deserve my respect and admiration. But to say they MUST be the basis for ordination is to say that "we" the church take on the role of God. God ordains, not the church. I believe it is the churches duty to follow God to the best of our collective abilities in confirming a person's ordination.

On your other point of attack: I have no right to claim that the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons are in or out of "the faith." I can tell you that I disagree with claims made by those groups. Judgement is not mine to make, I try to follow the teachings of Jesus on this one and not to cast the first stone.

If you want to talk about what makes people better followers of Christ, then let me know.

Nick.Larson said...

In your opinion, I disregard the teachings of the church. I in fact don't disregard them. You don't even know what I confess or believe yet you attack me. I say shame of you for judging others and their faiths. I would much rather look to the peice of wood in my own eye than that of anothers.

I didn't say there wouldn't be false teachers, and I didn't say that we should disregard all that church history has taught us. In fact I think there is more to be learned from church history and the multitudes of faith that were represented in the "one" church. I'm not contesting the Trinity with you either. I'm stating that it is not MY choice to dismiss another. Scripture tells us that we take on extra risk when we teach in the fatih. I know that I have chosen to do that, and in such hope that God will continued to lead me.

I don't want a Jesus that is like me, in fact that's the last thing I want. I want to be more like Jesus. And BTW show me where in scripture Jesus founded the church?

Aric Clark said...

This comment was submitted by Fr. Chris Larimer, but never posted for some reason. I wish I knew why blogger was dropping comments lately:

Jesus was kind to fallen and repentant sinners. He was not so nice to false teachers, Nick. What do you make of the biblical injunctions about dealing with false teachings & false teachers?

You talk about a community of faith that will shape you as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ...yet disregard the community that Christ and His followers established - the church. It is a matter of historical fact that for the first 1000 years of her history, the church spoke with one voice; held one order; confessed one faith (even in the midst of legitimate local diversity). I have decided that I'm not going to contest with people anymore about anything that isn't an uncontested matter of our catholic faith. But the Trinity is not a new idea; it's a non-negotiable of Christianity. I would suggest that marriage as one-man-one-woman, with all other sexual activity as outside of the bounds, is also both catholic and non-negotiable.

If you don't wish to be a member of the catholic church, the community that Jesus founded for the perfecting of His saints, then I can't force you to submit to the voice of Jesus - the guiding of the Spirit that has shaped and molded her throughout the ages. But at least have the dignity to own up to it that you really just want a Jesus that you - and your immediate environs - are content with and *not* the Jesus of Scripture.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Matthew 16:18 et seq., Jesus establishes the church on the confession of the Apostles. He assumes her continuity as the institution that deals with sin in 18:15-20. QED.

Aric Clark said...

@ Chris,

Spoke with one voice? The constant concern with heresy makes that claim manifestly false. After the fact, we claim there is a consistent orthodox thread only by ignoring the many branches which were forcibly ejected from the Church. Even then we have to ignore pretty deep divides among the orthodox for example on the matter of icons, or the authority of the bishop of Rome, or the ability of Christians to serve in the military. The church was univocal on that matter until after Constantine. Which represents the true and original faith as handed from Jesus to the Apostles? What about all those universalist desert fathers like Gregory of Nyssa and Origen and Basil of Cesarea? The church was never the unified force your suggest.

Aric Clark said...

All of this of course without mentioning the Assyrian, Armenian, Syriac, Jacobite, Indian, Coptic, Ethiopian and Eritrean churches among others who don't hold to all of the ecumenical creeds and many of whom predate the modern Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic churches.

Doug Hagler said...

The only truly unified force on this comment thread is Fr. Chris - he is always far more certain of his own perfection of belief than the church ever was. Remember having these exact same arguments years ago, Aric? He isn't listening this time either.

I say again: fixed, dense, impenetrable and incapable of growth.

This may also have become the most-commented-upon post in TFF's history, but I'm afraid it primarily amounts to bashing our heads against a Chris-shaped wall. Apart from the area of geekiness and humor, I don't think Chris can be reached by mundane efforts.

We should continue to refrain from moderating comments, but honestly I stopped reading any of Chris's comments a couple days ago, and have just been reading a few of the responses to see how things are going. I already know for a fact he won't deal substantively with anything any of us say. But arguing with Chris is like being Neela in the Godfather Part III. 'Every time I think I'm out...'