Sunday, January 2, 2011

LGBTQ persons already serve in other denominations


LGBTQ persons are serving in ordained ministry in various denominations currently and the predicted denominational collapses have not taken place.(1) The real harm is being done however by our continuing to fight over this issue, which damages the peace, unity and purity of the church particular and universal, as well as the witness of the church to the world.(2)
Furthermore, we must never shrink from doing what is right for the sake of protecting our denomination. Even if acting justly causes a mass exodus from our denomination, that is no reason to continue to act unjustly.(3)


Commentary
1. This issue has been addressed in the UCC, ELCA, UU, Episcopal Church, MCC, the GAAAP, the RPI, Religious Society of Friends, the Swedenborgian Church of North America, the Uniting Church in Australia, and others, all of which ordain "practicing" LGBTQ persons.  Other churches like the United Methodists and even the Moravian Church are where the PC(USA) is - actively moving toward LGBTQ ordination. As you can see from the long, robust, and growing list of churches ordaining LGBTQ persons, there has been no great collapse.  Their ministry and witness is not compromised.  In fact, these open and affirming denominations and organizations are in a better position than the PC(USA) currently is - they are benefiting from the calling, gifts and fruits of their sisters and brothers.

2. What is certainly tearing denominations apart is the lethal attempt to combine the Gospel with bigotry.

3. We cannot imagine one who loves and follows Jesus Christ choosing the life and health of the denomination over their life with God.  The Protestant Reformation, which resulted in so many denominations today, was a catastrophe for the Roman Catholic Church, breaking apart its stronghold in Europe at the time.  Should we then say that the Reformation should never have happened?

52 comments:

Doug Hagler said...

To be clear, this isn't intended to pretend that LGBTQ persons do not serve in the PCUSA now.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Looking at the stagnation of those denominations that legitimize homosexual sins, I can only offer the following challenge:
On your mark...
Get set...
SHRINK!!!

Doug Hagler said...

As we've said many times - as *you've* said in the past, if you didn't have such a short memory for your own claims, denominational growth is not an appropriate value for the church. I'd rather have five people crammed in a room committed to the right thing than hundreds of millions committed to the wrong things.

Enjoy the growth of the injustices that you support, Chris. 'Follow your bliss', as you said.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

You're right. It's not a numbers game. Rather, the church is judged by her fidelity to her Lord. The question, then, is whether or not she is being faithful to her Lord now with this barely 50 year old innovation, or whether she was (and is) being faithful in her presentation of the ministry for the last 1970 years.

Is this innovation leading to renewed faithfulness to the Apostolic doctrine, mission, community, and worship? (Acts 2:42) I would contend that the innovation fails on all parts - at least when taken in its totality.

Alan said...

Ah yes, the old "Correct Theology = Numerical Growth" argument from the remarkable brain of Mr. Larimer.

What's next for you, Chris? The Mormons? You've already shown you have no loyalty to any particular doctrine or theology, and they're growing like gangbusters. No doubt, clear proof in your eyes that they're on the right theological track.

To quote Andrew Lang, Chris uses "uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination."

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Alan,

My allegiance is to the catholic faith (the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds) before it is subject to any post-schism (1054) document. I'm sorry that you see allegiance to C-67 as the defining mark of authentic Christianity.

What a small communion that leaves you.

Alan said...

"I'm sorry that you see allegiance to C-67 as the defining mark of authentic Christianity. "

The arrogance you show when you decide to tell me what I think is, unfortunately, no longer even surprising, given your overinflated ego.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

I thought I was just returning the favor. (vide supra)

Okay...you've told me time and again that I am flippant in my belief because I left the PCUSA when she would not uphold her own Confessions and Form of Government. So maybe I never got what it meant to be a PCUSAer. Why don't you tell me what the essential tenets of the Reformed faith are that you said you'd uphold as an elder?

For that matter, what is non-negotiable (i.e., essential) when it comes to the Christian faith?

Alan said...

No thanks. I'm not interested in wasting time on your pointless interrogations. To paraphrase that great philosopher of our time, Weird Al Yankovic, I'd rather jump naked on a huge pile of thumbtacks, Or stick my nostrils together with crazy glue, I'd rather dive into a swimming pool filled with double-edged razor blades than have such a conversation with you. :)

You are not a member of committee that nominated me to be an Elder, the church that elected me, nor the Session that examined me for membership, nor even the denomination in which I am a member. (And, it will likely surprise you to know, you're not God.) So, contrary to what your overinflated ego leads you to believe, I actually don't owe you an explanation of anything whatsoever.

Doug Hagler said...

Really Chris, the chivalrous thing would be to go first. The question is blatantly and obviously a trap you're setting, so I hope you're not surprised that you didn't get an answer. I find that when I ask a question like that, the important thing is that I am willing to answer first, for my own part. It's a small show of faith, but it helps prevent what happens whenever you comment - a long, drawn-out argument during which neither side is much illuminated.

Alan said...

Exactly. He isn't interested in a statement of beliefs for the sake of information. He is only interested in a laundry list of beliefs that he can then argue about and criticize. I might have been born at night, but it wasn't last night.

Or as my father would say, this fish don't rise to cheap bait.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Gladly! I've already done that, though. It's as simple as reading the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed of 381. I believe that statement absolutely - no reservations, no funny plays with the language. I believe those doctrines as they have been believed since the time of the apostles (and expressly put down for the assent of the faithful in the 4th century). That means that when I say "born of the Virgin Mary" I mean that literally (no Roman soldier, no "hallowing" of non-marital sex, no accident - but that the Holy Spirit made life in her womb). When I say that "He rose again, in accordance with the Scriptures," I mean that the same body whose humanity was initially taken from Mary was then made to "stand again," yet with great glory. Then, when I say "he ascended into heaven" I mean that literally - that His body was taken into the clouds (as described in Acts) and then made present in the heavenly sanctuary to bring about God the Father's dominion.

I've found that lots of people say they believe the catholic faith of the creeds, but normally go off track on one of the following points:
Deity of Christ
Original Sin
Canon
Trinity
Resurrections
Incarnation
New Creation
Eschatology

Okay...now you go.

Kattie W. Coon said...

So Chris, that's it, those are "the essential tenents of the Reformed faith"? Oh goodie! I thought you were going to say something about one male to one female marriage as an essential tenent like the so called "Biblical" Presbyterians do.

If I affirm your same essential tenents (and I do), does that mean I'm orthodox?

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Those aren't the essential tenets of the Reformed faith, but the catholic faith. (this is the sine qua non, not it's fullness.) now, the question remains whether one applies them. Thus, if you affirm ongoing homosexual sin as a good thing then you either do not believe in original sin (thus, not believing that "for us, and for our salvation...") or you do not believe that regeneration makes us new creatures who will continue in sanctification ("the forgiveness of sins" and the "holy" mark of the church).

Orthodoxy is not less than the creed, but it is more than simply saying it. However, we should note that one can be orthodox on the essentials and still be in deep error.

Doug Hagler said...

Or, you reject Chris's false dichotomy as yet another fallacy he's presenting, and do not accept the premise that homosexuality is necessarily sinful - funny, it's almost like we've spent three months and thousands of words making that very case.

Doug Hagler said...

Re: the essential tenets, I'm surprised not to see anything there about sub atonement.

My guess is that I would be 'off track' on that entire list. Part of why I love being in a non-dogmatic denomination that expresses itself through historically-located (and limited) creeds combined with ongoing biblical interpretation.

Deep in my heart, I don't feel that it is important for me, or anyone else, to be able to list essential tenets. When I think about it, I either come up with two or three, or dozens (such as my 15 Christologies years ago). Maybe someday it will be worth a blog post.

Alan said...

Lists of essential tenets are nothing more than a fundie purity test.

What is sad is that fundamentalists like Chris obviously don't realize is that we Presbyterians fought this fight with the fundamentalists years ago and the fundamentalists, thank God, lost. It's one thing for him to toss away Reformed Presbyterian doctrine because it is inconvenient, but in addition to obviously not teaching basic logic, do they not teach church history at whatever correspondence school he got his degree?

Seriously, Chris, you don't do much to represent the intellectual rigor of either your alma mater or the proud Anglican tradition of study and thought you are supposedly part of these days. Add false dichotomies to post hoc reasoning and mix with a dash of straw man arguments and a complete lack of knowledge of church history and you get quite a potent cocktail of stupidity.

Since we're discussing standards of ordination ... shouldn't evidence of actual thought be one of them?

Doug Hagler said...

Ok kids, I can see the knives are out. Let's all take a deep breath.

Alan said...

There are 8 essential tenets. Not 7. Not 9.

Eight shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be eight. Nine shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count seven, excepting that thou then proceedeth to eight. Ten is
right out.

Anyone with a brain would see the problem that develops there. (And not surprisingly he omits any mention of Grace.)

Interesting that this list is so absolutely essential that it isn't repeated verbatim in Scripture anywhere. You'd think it might be in the Table of Contents or Index. I guess God never got around to it, what with all the begetting he had to get through.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

The word "Trinity" does not appear in Scripture, either. Is it debatable?

Protestants just can't help but protest...doesn't seem to matter what it's against. [shakes heads] They trade one time-tested authoritative tradition for a bazillion of them and call it freedom; one bishop for a congregation full of them.

Alan said...

No knives at all, Doug. I made a claim and backed it up by evidence.

It is true that false dichotomies are evidence of poor thinking. As is post hoc reasoning. As are straw man arguments.

It is also true, or I would have thought it would be true, that seminary students should at least have taken some philosophy class which includes logic. My friends at Calvin sure did, several in fact, at both the undergraduate and seminary level.

These are simple facts. No animosity behind them at all. But as it is clear that Chris cannot formulate even the simplest rational argument, I don't see any reason not to point that out.

Alan said...

"one bishop for a congregation full of them."

Nope, no bishops. And that's the whole point. That you don't get that, given your history is surprising. Sad, but surprising. What's sadder is that even after you've left the PCUSA you apparently still desire to be a Bishop in our denomination.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Alan, your ad hominem venom says far more about you than me. Both my undergraduate work in classical humanities and my graduate work (including an academic fellowship for both biblical languages and church history) are matters of public verification. I'm afraid you'll have to actually attack an argument rather than try to perpetrate the genetic fallacy.

As for why I still care about what happens in the PCUSA is best summed up in a quote by St. Basil the Great regarding indifference.

Alan said...

No venom at all. You think too highly of yourself if you think that I feel any hate or anger toward you in any way. Actually there's nothing ad hominem in what I've written at all, another mistake you've made. So we can add that to the list of mistakes in reasoning.

I pointed out that you make illogical arguments and we've also seen how you repeatedly make statements without any supporting evidence, both of which are clearly indicative of poor thinking, I've listed the evidence, and I've said that such arguments are stupid, which they are. Unlike you, I can attack someone's statements without attacking the person. That you can't see the difference isn't surprising.

(Jokes aside, anyone can go to college, even prestigious colleges. Doesn't mean they actually learned anything.)

Alan said...

BTW, it's both ironic and hypocritical for someone like you, who believes that blaming gay people for the downfall of ... well, apparently almost all of human civilization according to your recent comments, would lecture anyone on "ad hominem venom."

So you can be sure I will give your admonishment all the consideration it deserves. ;)

I'll let you have the last word. It's been amusing as always. :)

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Alan,

LGBTQ persons are *not* the cause of all problems, but rather a sympton. The rise of sexual, familial, and marital confusion is to be laid at the foot of the churches that abandoned Christ's Lordship in these arenas. For the mainlines, that came through a steady (and, in the last 50 years, concentrated) erosion of sound doctrine. In the "evangelical" world, it is happening through the same vehicle of theological accomodation and desire to either be culturally relevant or culturally ghettoized.

Our only hope in restoring the culture is in restoring the cult, the worship of our Father in heaven through Jesus Christ the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. May God have mercy on us all, grant us time for amendment of life, and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Chris, a repenting sinner

Kattie W. Coon said...

@Chris,
“if you affirm ongoing homosexual sin as a good thing then you either do not believe in original sin (thus, not believing that "for us, and for our salvation...") or you do not believe that regeneration makes us new creatures who will continue in sanctification ("the forgiveness of sins" and the "holy" mark of the church).”

For the record, I do not believe or affirm that ongoing homosexual sin is good. I don’t believe any sin is good.

We clearly disagree as to what Scripture characterizes as sin. I am not willing to accept the Conservative nonsense that previous councils have not been in error in this regard. Previous councils have not even been consistent or unified in their evaluation of certain Scriptural passages where same sex relations are concerned. All they’ve been unified in is their ultimate conclusion. For me, that sends up a big red flag indicating that those councils were likely relying on something other than Scripture for guidance.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Kattie,

As Alan will tell you, I mainly slept through seminary so I'm not sure what Councils you're speaking of. Can you point to one where there was disagreement over the sinfulness of non-marital sex? You may point to the polite vagueness of previous eras ("defilers of boys" or "sin against nature"), but it's not really possible to say that the church has ever held up any sexual standard apart from male-female lifelong monogamous and sexual exclusive marriage OR chastity in the absence of such marriage.

Doug Hagler said...

For the record, Aric and I have both made many fine arguments as to how homosexuality is not necessarily sinful (joining with many smarter actual-scholar types), any more than heterosexuality...of course, I have no illusions as to whether Chris will ever address them after all these years.

So I affirm ongoing unrepentant homosexuality because it isn't sin and therefore needs no repentance.

Kattie W. Coon said...

OK Chris,
Did you sleep through reading comprehension and the study of the Reformed Confessions too? Yes, at least most of the church has held up the standard you site, but that doesn't mean they're right. Your position derives from a Conservative, un-Reformed fallacy.

"polite vagueness of previous eras"
Oh, that's hilarious! You were trying to be funny, right?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT3_UCm1A5I

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Doug,

How hard untruth has to work to establish itself....

Kattie,

I'm sure I should abandon the universal consensus of the church's best and brightest leaders from across the globe and throughout history to obey the demands of a tiny vocal minority localized (physically or intellectually) in the twilight of the secular West.

Good plan.

Doug Hagler said...

@ Chris: how many wars and inquisitions did it take to establish your beloved "orthodoxy"? I always love when you accidentally refute yourself. But I agree! Your absurd notion that everyone must agree with you, not to mention that Christian history is monolithic (and in line with your own views), clearly takes a huge amount of effort. And that isn't even getting into your particular peculiar notions.

And even given dozens of recent comments, I would hardly call it "established". I'd actually say you're still at square one where that's concerned. All that work...it is hard to establish untruth. Keep trying, though! You seem to enjoy the windmill-tilting.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Chris,
Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, et al, Yeah, I would say you shouldn't be so opposed to the notion.

"Twilight"
Another Conservative joke, right?

http://www.ebiblefellowship.com/may21/
I wonder if Bob Campbell knows about these guys.

Doug Hagler said...

"universal consensus"? I'll say this, Chris, you have a vivid imagination when it comes to pretending people agree with you - and have for all time, apparently.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

I find it amusing how my siding with the historic consensus of the church is somehow morphed into "Chris wants everything *his* way...how arrogant!!" And, of course, the clear corollary is that your way (or at least the sect that you represent) is the truth-tellers.

Doug - Wars don't establish orthodoxy; the univocal voice of the church does that. Sadly, we haven't spoken with one voice on all issues since the 1050s. But I do find it interesting that the church has never been confused on this issue, and still speaks with a united voice on its morality, despite the exported American fiasco.

Doug Hagler said...

Chris, you speak nonsense. Univocal until 1050? You are living in some kind of hallucination. Wars absolutely establish orthodoxy - they always have and always will, with occasional inquisitions and mass-excommunications thrown in.

I'm actually baffled how you can't see the contention present throughout the history of the Church. I know you've read the New Testament and some church history, but I have no idea how you so completely misinterpret it. Do you imagine that the church holds great councils, and declare anathema anyone who does not attend and agree, because everyone agrees already?

Though I have a funny feeling that this conversation will just continue to go nowhere.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Doug,

I'm thankful (in a way) for heretics through the ages. They have provided the opportunity for the church to clarify the doctrine of the Apostles. Now, what war caused the Council of Nicea? Constantinople? Lyons?

Doug Hagler said...

No war, Chris, but are you going to tell me that they did not arise out of an internal conflict in the Church?

Kattie W. Coon said...

Doug,
It's frustrating trying to deal with someone whose view of orthodoxy isn't derived from the views of the great Reformers. You can't convince him, and he can't convince you. There's five hundred years of reasoned Christian history separating us from him.

Doug Hagler said...

Not to mention 2000 years of actual Christian history during which, amazingly enough, Christians disagreed with each other. But as I said in another thread, I'm going to tap Chris's fantasy-world-dust off of my sandals and move on.

Doug Hagler said...

As for Nicea - it was convened by the Emperor of Rome, who did not care a bit about which theologies would win out, only that there was supposed unity - for the sake of Empire, not of the Gospel, which was surviving quite well despite imperial attempts to stamp it out. So-called orthodoxy is always imposed top-down.

If the punishment for dissent is excommunication, being declared anathema, and/or being killed, it is the height of absurdity and ::ahem:: *revisionism* to declare univocality. If there was no punishment for dissent, this imaginary univocal Christianity would be impossible even for Chris to invent.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Kattie,

I'm truly befuddled at the world you imagine from 500 years ago. The Reformers upheld without reservation the truths of the catholic creeds. I mean...isn't the great slander against Calvin that he had Servetus burned at the stake for being an anti-trinitarian heretic? And Calvn's consistent position (as well as that laid out in the Heidelberg) is that homosexual practice is such a perversion of the moral order that it is not mentionable in polite discourse. (Hint: One can be Reformed without being Presbyterian; one can be an orthodox Christian without being Reformed; but one cannot be Reformed without first being an orthodox Christian.)

Doug,

I find it most telling that you think the real threat to the church - the community Jesus founded and continues to use in the dispensation of the Spirit's gifts - was that they got together and spoke authoritatively about the doctrine received from the apostles...and that Arianism (the idea that Jesus was less than Almighty God) was not the real threat. This speaks volumes about your take on orthodoxy, and why you fail to see the living voice of the apostles as the goal of hermeneutics (opting instead for some sort of self-appointed sense of "justice").

Kattie W. Coon said...

Chris,
Of course Gagnon makes his claim (as you apparently do also) without a shred of actual documented evidence as to their actual intent. Whenever Gagnon's arguments are particularly without evidentiary foundation, he states them most emphatically as being obvious. Such as in this case:
"The only logical reason for sixteenth-century reformers to omit terms having to do with sexual immorality, especially homosexual practice, is that these behaviors were viewed as obscene and thus wholly inappropriate to mention, especially in a catechism that would be used to instruct children."
Gagnon makes that up as his truth, because it fits his personal bias and agenda. Wow, the “only logical reason” huh!? That’s typical Gagnonian BS. Where is the actual evidence? Oh, that's right, there isn't any. You might think you're making a good case by quoting that guy, but I'm not fooled by him.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

An age without shame doesn't even get the concept. There is evidence that the issue was skirted and direct mention rarely undertaken. I could present that evidence, but again - shameless people don't understand that there's anything to be ashamed of in this "debate."

Again, the consensus of 6000 years of covenantal history as well as simple biological fact doesn't convince you to change course or swerve from the sirens of our zeitgeist, so I can have little hope of doing better.

Kattie W. Coon said...

"I could present that evidence"...

Do so if you can. I am not afraid of truth, I embrace it. To take a line from you, "I welcome disagreement. Say what you will, but back it up. I'm from Dixie - not ipse dixit!"

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Nationalities as referents area common way of alludingto sexual deviance. Sodom and Lesbos are obvious examples. Ancient Greek had several ethnic-sexual verbs. Lesbizein, "to act like a Lesbian" (in the geographic sense) meant fellatio (heterosexual only, as far as I can tell). Phrygizein, "to act like a Phrygian", i.e. a pre-Turk inhabitant of northwestern Turkey, the area around Troy, meant masturbation. And syrizein, "to act like a Syrian", meant anal sex. Korinthianize is also a well known example.

The Medieval period is covered very well by a scholar named Karos in a book called Sexuality in the Middle Ages. It's on google books so you can search it for euphemism (which will give a good quick overview of both practice and canon law regarding not uttering the unmentionables).

Kattie W. Coon said...

And this has to do with the Heidelberg Catechism and the translation of God's Word how exactly???
You want me to believe that Luther skirted the issue of Homosexual sex (in God’s Word) by referring to it euphemistically as boy molestation? Sorry, I’m not buying into that so easily. It doesn't look like a particularly good euphemism to me. You need to show that this particular “euphemism” would be understood by their culture to mean all Homosexual sexual expression, and present evidence that Luther meant it to be a euphemism. Your approach doesn't touch Luther at all.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

As Augustine said: "Securus iudicat orbis terrarum."

It's past time I shook the dust off.

Sorry to have taken your time.

Kattie W. Coon said...

"Securus iudicat orbis terrarum"

The verdict of the world may indeed be secure, but within the history of the church, it has been anything but static. Thank God for that!

Chris, you don't have to be sorry unless you intended to take my time. I gave my time freely.

As far as shaking the dust off goes, I have always been willing to listen to your words, and welcome the opportunity to debate you, so no "shaking" testimony would be warranted. Your argument didn't prevail here because it was weak and never appeared to be guided by the Spirit of God.

Fr. Chris Larimer said...

You misunderstand the context. St Augustine is speaking against the Donatists who have taken to passing judgment on the whole world (meaning the consensus of the catholic church). That's precisely what is happening in the PCUSA. They claim that for 1950 years, the whole world of the church has been mired in the sin of sexism and homophobia, and thus separates from the consensus of the catholic church across time and space in order to go its own way. Just sad...

Doug Hagler said...

@ Kattie: Yup - ignoring Chris is definitely the way to go. I realized I could have used that time wasted trying to force him to engage meaningfully when I could have been having conversations with people who are able to have conversations.

I commend this fine method to one and all.

Kattie W. Coon said...

Chris,
The passage of Amendment 10-A is not an attempt to pass judgment on the whole world, but leaving G-6.0106b in place retains the unjust judgment imposed by roughly half of the PCUSA on the entire denomination. So, who are the Donatists? I'm certainly not one of them.

The Holy Spirit is working miracles within the church, and moving us closer to a just relationship with her members. All praise be to God!