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OF BISHOPS, MORALS AND ASSESSMENT
October 20, 25,
The Australian, October 15, 2004
Snuggling on one side of p. 31 of The Advertiser for October 20, 2004 is a little news items concerning a topic presented in this way: "Gay US bishop a 'deep offence'."
A US Episcopal Commission, we read, established after the episcopal ordination of a homosexual bishop, urged a stop on such ordinations, lest they cause an irreparable rift in the Anglican Church. It was strange, as of course this had already done this, with all the preliminaries for so many years, where so many have urged so strongly a change concerning gender orientation, within this religious body.
How then will they seek to 'resolve' the 'problem' ? They feel not so much, it seems, passion as caution, clarity as consideration of many things, not unlike the Walrus in his famous soliloquy for which we are indebted to Professor Dodgson, of mathematical standing, and imaginative fame, in Alice in Wonderland.
What then are these many things in this ecclesiastical seeming case ? We are left in so doubt. The report of the words is thus: "We need to move carefully to consider every aspect -
modern social mores - in coming to a view. It's a very, very difficult line to walk."
Of course, if it were held by this religion, that God is, has spoken, does not change, that man is His creation, is sinful, needs to change, that God's laws being His, man's way must conform if he wishes to worship God, there would be no need for a very, very difficult line to walk. Thus when Christ was asked by casuistical foes, what the case was in the resurrection, as when someone who had (legitimately) had several wives should arrive in heaven, He did not treat it in this way at all.
He did not say ...
'Now I know that there is a party of Sadducess, which is not hot on the resurrection, and on the other hand, there is one of the Pharisees which boils on the issue, and that this question is going to be divisive, for if I say,
No go, this is resurrection, duffer!
then the Sadducees, who have a deep relationship to the church of this nation, will be incensed, and may either seek to dominate or secede.
If on the other hand, I say,
There is a problem here, but I am sure that the Pharisees may cast some light worthy of thought, on the issue,
then there may be less theological mayhem, but still, there will be a division of thought, and the point will be taken that the Pharisees are at least in the right direction which is PRECISELY what the Sadducees consider the end!í
He could have gone on, if sin and its successful array and living conditions were His objective. We shall leave such an unholy and hypothetical mess-iah to the imagination of those whom he would concern. This is not the Christ of history. In fact, He roundly rebuked such ignorance as the question displayed, and pointed out from the scripture that obviously there was a resurrection in which the conditions of mortality being over, there was no question of husband and wife, and hence of whose wife or husband any person would be. If you have no cars, you do not need drivers, nor to squabble about the issue. There is nothing to drive!
This is found in Matthew 22:23-33.
Similar results are found concerning healing on the Sabbath (John 9:18), where Jesus healed openly on that day, despite the known fury of the Pharisees at such action. Indeed, they excommunicated the one healed because he reasoned (John 9:22) that since the beginning of the world such power to heal as had been used on Him, had not been known. Like many, untroubled by evidence, the Pharisees were all the more hostile, it seems, because their words of traditionalistic obfuscation were met with power, and not only so, but with reason on the basis of the divine revelation to which they appealed (as shown in Matthew 12:11ff.).
Christ's later word to the man healed (John 9:38-41) was that He had come for judgment into this world, that those who see might be made blind, and the blind be enabled to see! This was scarcely irenic. How CAN you be irenic when error blusters its evils in God's name, and truth is being entangled for execution by those who use the very name of God for their follies! Truth does not do this, since truth COULD not so act, being truth! Christ, the bright light does not cease to shine, since He IS the light of the world (John 8:12). It is a feature of light that it shines. He who IS the light does not cease to shine, nor can He be dulled.
Again, the case of Mark 2 is similar. Here there was confrontation, instead of a lulling lullaby, sparing the hurt feelings of those who sought to have a party for profile rather than performance. Christ actually increased the division to the uttermost. Having seen fit to pardon the sins of a paralytic brought to His presence, He was challenged. Should not God only do this ? forgive sins. Christ thus was made very aware of their confrontation and exasperation.
He knew of their just concern that only God could pardon sin (cf. Jeremiah 17:9, where we see ONLY GOD knows the heart, and so only He can determine the truth for pardon!). He did not parley however. Since the point was that it was He, the living God who had come to earth as man, instead of arguing He acted. In fact, He dramatically confronted their thoughts with divine power, and asked them to decide which was easier, to SAY, your sins are forgiven, or to ORDER, Get up! paralytic and walk.
He then so commanded, and the man walked. In one moment, if a fraud, He would have been exposed. He never worried. Truth has no need to worry. It has what it takes, and uses it.
Thus whether it was doctrine, or divine prerogatives or healing power, Christ divided truth from error, adding, if need be, confrontation, equipping His actions with power, with precision, with reason on the commandments, indeed.
In this sense, we can see the force of His words, in operation: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace non earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). Now it became at once apparent that this was no question of physical violence, but the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6). It was a division even within households that He had in mind, and at once indicated. It was necessary, He went on there to say, to love Him more than mother or father, and to take UP ONE'S CROSS. This was obviously not to put someone else on a cross! He was not in favour of inquisitorial tortures! His interest here was in portraying suffering, not imposing the same!.
Thus there were sufferings to be felt, sacrifices to be made, there was truth to be followed (and FOLLOW ME) and there was clarity to be presented. Not a jot or tittle of the scriptures would fall (Matthew 5:17ff.), and there was a most rigorous necessity that they be fulfilled (Matthew 26:52ff.). Truth was not in abeyance in the presence of The Truth, and He spoke it.
If in love, compassion and kindness He met need, He showed no sense of need in allowing evil or error to raise its head, or to subvert, if it were possible, the very elect of God. They were His protectorate, He their Shepherd (John 10), and He kept them from the world's ways.
Thus, to revert from Christ to the Christian Church, we find this approach that what is needed, in the Anglican case, is wholly other. THEY feel a need to consider the historical, the theological and the social mores, in order to decide something on which GOD HAS SPOKEN (I Timothy 1:10 for example, with I Corinthians 5:11, 6:9). SOCIAL MORES, which means what people feel and find and do, are to be an item in deciding what is to be done in a 'church' which mentions the name of Christ! How especially strange, for this is precisely the opposite of what Christ DID and SAID.
Again, HISTORICAL things have to be considered. What is the point of worrying about history, what people have done, and what has happened, when one happening, say Leviticus 20:13, the speech of God, is already both decisive and determinative for those who follow Christ's words, which is the only sound way as He made dramatically clear (Matthew 7:15ff., 7:21). The requirement of sincerity is equally clear (Luke 6:46). This, it is not a question of receiving the repentant transgressor in compassion for sinners, but of determining WHAT SIN IS, when GOD has already defined the case. It is so defined repeatedly in both Testaments.
Further, THEOLOGICAL items are invoked in this Anglican case. What theology is necessary when God has spoken, however ? If God speaks, does man need to chatter ? The point of theology, if you accept the word of Christ, is NOT to find alternatives for God to speak at your permission or nod, but to understand and discover the words and their meanings, their inter-relationship and their ground, and to find depth in His declaration. You do not invent the word of God: you expound it, give reason for it, apply it.
Thus such actions as these in a case such as this are nothing to do with Christ, or His word, and hence are nothing to do with Christianity IF by this, you mean the religion which is based on, follows and worships Jesus Christ, according to the revelation which God has deposited from apostolic times, to enable His saints to follow not a contemporary picture , from time to time, but the Christ who AT ONE TIME came and in ONE WAY spoke, and in ONE ORDER required us to follow His words as those of God (John 12:48-50).
The BRIGHT LIGHT of CHRIST is not dimmed by these means, any more than it was by the crucifixion, a prelude to the greatest exhibition of divine power ever made, in the resurrection, where no ignoramuses got mixed up about the most important site in history, the place of death and burial (cf. Luke 23:55), nor did the authorities fail in the most important trial that even turned Pilate the Governor, into a criminal through miscarriage of justice. It was just that this was what God SAID He would do (giving a millenium of notice), and hence what HE DID, nothing being able either to produce the body or reduce Christ to sin in any form, manner or utterance. Nothing dimmed was He, in word, deed or suffering, in triumph, truth or healing, in raising the dead and in being raised.
What is dimmed by
such confusion as shown in this bishop case in our contemporary world, is this,
that bodies bearing the name 'Christian' are becoming more and more prominent in
following another face, another race, another preaching and another Lord. This
is precisely what was to be, and if such things as these had not happened as the
Age draws near to its close (cf. Answers to Questions
Ch. 5), then the Bible would have been wrong. It is however, never wrong (cf. II Timothy 3, I Timothy 4, II Peter 2, Matthew 24:24, II Thessalonians 2).
Meanwhile, it is scarcely surprising that some in such a milieu as this, are becoming outspoken, and that others in the denomination, are wishing to 'cool it'. Denominational stability has long been an example of Christ's dictum, that he who saves his life will lose it, and he who loses it for His sake will keep it (Matthew 16:24ff.). 'Staying in' becomes a holy grail, and the compromise with truth which is incompatible with Christ, becomes the cost of finding it. Hence you find a case such as that reported in The Australian, October 15, 2004, where one Anglican official decided it right to refer to the Archbishop of Canterbury as guilty of "intellectual and theological prostitution".
One would have thought that if prostitution were at the top, undisciplined, and had been there for some time, yes quite some time if the indicia are consulted for any basis for such remarks (there is little new over decades), then one would wish either to stop it or leave the premises, lest one become a sort of voyeur. (Cf. A Question of Gifts, VII).
God of course is of this view. You see it in Romans 16:17. You do not AVOID people by sharing communion with them, accepting their spiritual supervisory position, or continuing where it is acknowledged; and even if the field of concern is another country, one would not remain with a body which thought it good to retain 'fellowship' and 'communion' with a body which was a known purveyor of the principles of prostitution.
Indeed in Numbers 16, you see what was the cardinal case where Moses as the one chosen of God to provide the revelation, was challenged, so that others could concoct the divine deal, as it almost would appear. Other 'authorities' wanted place, and the authority of God, what God had resolved to do, and through whom to do it, was to become subordinate to the will of these.
SEPARATE! was the call of mercy. Leave the tents of these men! It was well that many did so. In the New Testament, Jude mentions it in verse 11, in his roving and denunciatory challenge to fight for the faith.
Those concerned were swallowed up by a heaving earth.
IF you do not speak according to His word, there is NO LIGHT in you! says Isaiah 8:20. Jude warns of wolves, and instructs on the basis of cited cases of challenge and judgment, to do likewise and fight for the faith (cf. News 43, 88), separating, overthrowing, insistent, persistent, incorrigible in purity, determined in doctrine, irrevocable in the faith.
You do not fight in such a way that your children are in the presence of wolves with whom you have communion. Sheep in wolves' clothing represent a specific type which Christ depicted! (Matthew 7:15). Indeed, His words were of false prophets who not only had sheep's clothing, but were such that "inwardly they are ravenous wolves". You see that He did not equivocate! When you have to pay for sin with your life, you are not going to smile at it, or make it seem nice!
The Shepherd is to ward off wolves, not enjoy the felicity of their company in the domestic affairs. People not speaking according to the words of Christ are in a category, and the instruction is clear, whatever the application, that one must WITHDRAW ( I Timothy 6:3-5 cf. Separation 1997).
Thus the spokesman for the Archbishop in Sydney is in The Australian reported to have made a response. He indicated that while many might share the thoughts of the outspoken Anglican who caused the little furore by his speech, they would not ... express it in that way.
The point of course is not HOW one expresses it, but that there should be JUDGMENT on the issue (the scripture is most clear on many of the points in view, as in this one also), ACTION on the result. Then, if the church does not move back to the Bible, the Bible believers have a scriptural admonition and charge to move from the church. After all, if you stay in the womb as a post-mature baby, when the processes which are due are no longer in force, death is the option.
One well remembers in New Zealand, when that body calamitously left the realm of biblical belief, and so of Christ's admonition, by refusing to affirm the bodily resurrection of Christ, that a Presbytery meeting came up, and the issue was put. Moving for the clear affirmation, one lost by one vote, for the Clerk determined that while he was of the opinion that the body rose, yet he would not PUT IT THAT WAY, that is in the clear and decisive terms chosen. These did not attack individuals, which one has sought to avoid, being more normally the butt of those who have no other answer; but they did make the issues as clear as the Bright Light of Christ has shown us, and they were presented as FAITH not opinion.
Faith is not ready to discount, to seek social balm for the wounds inflicted by the sword of the Spirit. How could it ? It is by faith that one BELIEVES GOD, not creates Him, or His mouth! To dabble in social mores in such a time is simply to love this world. This, yes, it is an option, but not for the Christian (cf. I John 2).
Finally, we find that another religious body, the Uniting Church in this country, having unequivocally affirmed the concept of pastors with what the Bible defines as perversion as one of their curriculum vitae inscriptions, could be indeed in their midst, and so made war with the word of God, has now added to this. It has a way of trying to adapt to ... social mores ?
In The Advertiser, October 15, we find thus that this body is going to allow people who do not like to trample in this way on the word of God, the Bible, in its most clear and ringing utterance, to remain IN the Uniting Church, and to MAKE COMBINATIONS with others of like mind, and to decide whether or not they actually have one of those who are biblically defined as perverts, for pastors. They donít have to, and they can even relate in aggregations with those who feel the same.
Perhaps full marks would have to awarded both for the seductive ORDER of events, in making this challenge, and then providing this gesture. After all, it provides the EMBRACIVE SCOPE given for diversity, much as in the Anglican Church noted above: if one's criterion for evaluation were to be people- manipulation in the absence of the word of God. However, when the issue is Christ, whose words the Father commanded (John 12), and who made it clear that such would not pass (cf. John 14:26, 24:35, SMR Appendix C, D), then the rating for this new action of accommodation must be the very acme of failure. Indeed, the rating for such an action would be as near to infinitely negative as is possible for finite things.
The reason is this: If we are finite, and we are, how can we have infinite specifications ? Can we work things of infinite significance ? Not directly, but indirectly, yes. Thus if you build not on the rock of His words, Christ indicated, but on something else, designated as sand, your house is set to fall. The issue in that same chapter is found to be this, eternal life (Matthew 7:21), where plausible forms are not the criterion but actual faith, the sort that acts, and so is not dead.
Is this salvation by works ? Some might abuse it in this way, and try to be saved by keeping commandments, which is abomination (cf. Romans 3:23ff.), but this delusion does not destroy the fact. Keeping God's words, not as one who is by any means a perfect model but as a sincere Christian in intent and heart, is one sign that one is not a thistle but a tree bearing fruit. It is God who judges and knows (Matthew 7:1), but good trees by their very nature bear good fruit (Matthew 7), and they do not have to try to make the stuff. It grows! When it comes to false prophets, it is not hard to compare their words with those of the Bible and see what it what.
Faith is without works for salvation; salvation is without doubt in the Christ who is recognised as Lord, so that however much one fails to meet the mark, the mark of Christ being upon one (I John 3:9), the CONSEQUENCE which is not the ground of salvation but its result, is characterisable. Love is such an impeller, and if you love, it is not too hard to bring your wife a bunch of roses for her birthday is it ? Or to lay down your life for your country ? or to work for the welfare of children ?
It is not unheard of that people can be sincere, and act in characterisable accord with what they are about; and in the case of God's power being available (John 1:12, Romans 6-8), then the confusion of loving God and His word, and seeking earnestly to follow it, with trying to save yourself in the obedience stakes, does not arise. BEING SAVED, and HAVING BEEN SAVED (Ephesians 2:8, John 5:24, 6:50-54, 4:14), you love the One who did it, and HENCE love to seek to be pleasing to Him. If however you do not ? and if your principles are other ? Christ just said this:
"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word ...
He who does not love Me does not keep My words,
and the word which you hear is not Mine but he Father's who sent Me."
WHY! He asked, call Me Lord, Lord and NOT do the thing that I say!
It is high time to leave what leaves the word of God, and to follow Christ if you want the term 'Christian' to be applicable. Grouping was required in the Age of the Reformation. It was for that matter needed in the days of Christ and immediately thereafter, as NEW ways of doing the OLD things, many now fulfilled, became NECESSARY due to corruption from the word of God, so that many hearts were found moving to the crucifixion of Christ, not to the obedience in faith. There is, you see, quite a difference, even if you only crucify the ... mouth.