From the Colson Center: Costly Views on “The View”

You’re in the spotlight and you’ve just been asked about a controversial issue. What do you do?

Martin Luther, the Christian reformer who challenged the sale of indulgences five hundred years ago, is often credited with this stirring quotation:

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him.”

Okay, well maybe Martin Luther didn’t actually say that. Nor did Abraham Lincoln say, “You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” But just because a quotation is mis-attributed doesn’t mean it’s an inaccurate summary of what the purported author believed. As a matter of fact, this passage not only closely mirrors something Luther wrote in a personal letter, but it’s consistent with the life he lived.

More importantly, this quote is true. The temptation is strong to faithfully proclaim every aspect of God’s Word except the one most controversial in our time.

We saw that recently when well-known pastor Carl Lentz appeared on ABC’s “The View.” Lentz spoke boldly and in no uncertain moral terms about the issue of racism. As well he should. Christians should condemn racism whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.

But when asked directly about abortion, and whether or not he considers it a sin, Lentz couldn’t give a straight answer. Instead, he spoke of having a “conversation,” of finding out a person’s “story,” where they’re from and what they believe. “I mean, God’s the judge,” he concluded. “People have to live by their own convictions.”

Predictably, the progressive studio audience heard this as an affirmation of the so-called “right to choose,” and rewarded Lentz with thunderous applause. Continue reading From the Colson Center: Costly Views on “The View”

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From N.T. Wright and appropriate for Eastertide

Thanks, Bishop Morse, for sending this our way.

COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS 2006

Nashotah House

The Rt. Rev. N. T. Wright

May the words of my lips, and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, or Rock and our Redeemer. Thank you for what you are as a community, and may God continue to bless you as you worship, which is at the absolute center of what this house does. You have put down roots deep into the heart of the faith, and so prepare yourself and others for loving service to our risen Lord. It is, of course, the knowledge of the risen Lord, and the call and the longing to bear witness to him that at the center of all Christian ministry. It is about that that I wish to speak as together we reflect in this commencement service on the call to mission and ministry in today’s and tomorrow’s church and world. I should apologize that I am not as one really ought, not preaching on the lessons we have heard read and sung. I want to home in one scripture passage of great depth and power, and suggest that I can’t do more than scratch its surface today, all of us would do well to return to it and find fresh hope and energy for what God is calling us to do. The passage in question is the last two chapters of John’s Gospel, chapters 20 and 21. These chapters are about as close as we can get to God’s powerful love and commissioning us for his service. In the UK we have a famous and favorite radio program called Desert Island Discs in which well-known people are invited to choose the music they take with them if they were marooned on a desert island, and at the end of the program they are invited also to take one book with them, but anticipating what many of them would say they are told that they already have the Bible and Shakespeare. In imitation of that I have sometimes asked ordination candidates and also candidates for parishes which chapters of the Bible they would take with them to a desert island, but anticipating what they would say, I would say you have already got Romans 8 and John 20 and 21. These chapters are about as close as we get to the heart of God’s powerful love rescuing us and commissioning us for his service.

Continue reading From N.T. Wright and appropriate for Eastertide

So I’m not alone on the marriage issue!

After the debate in North Carolina over the ammendment to our state constitution further (redundantly) stating our belief that marriage is between one man and one woman I made a decision I had already wrestled with for some time.

In light of the increasing differences between the secular and the sacramental understandings of marriage and the confusion on both conservative and liberal sides of the debate, I will no longer act as an agent of the state to sign a marriage certificate. Couples who would like the civil benefits of state-recognized marriage are free to have that legal union certified at the courthouse. My part is to join, in the name of God and with the Church, two souls in Holy Matrimony. Give Caesar what belongs to him; I work for God.

Some to whom I have announced my preemptive denunciation of civil marriage see the move as unnecessarily inconvenient should a couple actually want me to marry them. They may be right. For now. This month we saw, though, that the tide of popular opinion in some states has shifted against the historic Christian understanding of marriage. And  today I finally read someone else say what I’ve been saying: http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2012/nov/23/a-proposal-for-churches-to-cut-ties-to-civil/ .

Protestants might have a harder time drawing this line between civil and sacramental marriage. They have a hard time distinguishing the work of Christ through his Church sacramentally. For them Baptism is a personal act and Eucharist a simple act of commemoration. We catholics, though, understand that the sacraments are events in which we the Church are the gloves filled with the Hands of God, Christ and the Spirit.

We priests have so far in this country felt comfortable acting sacramentally to join man and woman as one flesh before God, conferring heavenly grace to the couple, and then signing the state’s form so that their civil blessings may also be applied. The state understanding of marriage seemed close enough to our own that we saw no conflict in acting as agents both of the Church and of the state by these actions. It is becoming clear, though, that this is no longer so comfortable an arrangement. The state has the right – given to it by its citizens – to define marriage as it chooses. The Church has no right – no matter what the Episcopalians say – to bless other than what God has deigned to bless.

Let the judges and some of the Protestants sign the legal documents; let couples write their own vows, recreating and redefining marriage at a whim; let straight people, gay people, multiple partners, people and puppy dogs get married under the law. It is not my concern. I am no judge. I am a priest of the Church. The liturgy within which I join a couple is not of my own composition; it, like me, is a servant of Christ and his Church. It defines the marriage along biblical lines and does not change with polls and ballots.

I would encourage all priests, indeed all Christian ministers whose view of marriage is sacramental, to flee Sodom. We have nothing left to do with civil marriage. Perhaps if we leave the debate to the secularists we can focus with renewed vigor and intensified catechesis on what Holy Matrimony really is.

Arguments against an evil thing are always weaker than the positive statement of the truth.

Timely Words of Wisdom from Thomas Merton

My old friend Jonathan Rotter – who is after lo these many years still possibly the strangest man I have ever known – posted this link on FB and I thought it a good one to share here. Especially after the election. And in our disappointment with leaders. And before we try to figure out what our response to four more years of abortion-pushing and gay-marriage affirmation will be. And to keep us from becoming activists.

http://ht.ly/f7LPd

Service Audio 3/11/2012

This was a powerful service with a real sense of the Lord’s presence in the worship and in the sermon. Give it a listen. The Lord is doing great things at Redeemer, with the congregation growing into a beautiful core who love each other and believe in the vision God has given us for this church and community. There will be big news breaking soon!

3.11.12 Full Service

3.11.12 Sermon – The Law of the LORD in Us

Third Sunday in Lent 2012 Service Booklet

Why Sundays?

Conversations with several folks over the past few days have centered on the issue of Christian worship on Sundays. Does it matter what day of the week we hold our services? Why do so many Christians insist on Sunday morning worship? Is there anything wrong with a Christian having as their primary weekly service a Friday or Saturday night service? While I would be the first to admit that there is, to my understanding, no clear Scriptural commandment to worship on Sunday mornings and that “because we always have” is a woefully inadequate reason for choosing Sunday morning for worship, I want to lay out briefly the logic by which Christians have indeed always agreed that the time of worship does matter and that Sunday morning is the appropriate time for primary public worship for Christians. Continue reading Why Sundays?