Monday, November 29, 2010

Welfare and the Bible Part 3

1Ti 5:3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.
1Ti 5:4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
1Ti 5:5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
1Ti 5:6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
1Ti 5:7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.
1Ti 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
1Ti 5:9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,
1Ti 5:10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
1Ti 5:11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
1Ti 5:12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
1Ti 5:13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
1Ti 5:14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
1Ti 5:15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.
1Ti 5:16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.

Welfare and the Bible Part 2

1Ti 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Gal 4:16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Welfare and the Bible

2Th 3:10-14 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Difficulties of being a pastor’s wife

  1. Life in a fishbowl. People notice your parenting, your actions, everything you do. You can’t have a bad day.
  2. Husband devoted to his first love – Christ’s church. He’s on 24-hour call.
  3. Few real friends in the church in whom you can confide due to rampant gossip in the church.
  4. Financial concerns – pastors don’t typically make all that much money. Many pastor’s wives have to work to support the family.
  5. If you make close friends in the church others feel slighted.
  6. If you make close friends outside the church, women in the church think you think you are too good for them.
  7. Expected to be the right hand person to the pastor but may not have any call to ministry yourself.
  8. Your pastor is also your husband – you can’t count on him to give you the sort of compassion that he gives to his average parishioner.
  9. You may be spiritually starving – having to listen to a preacher every week that doesn’t feed you.
  10. Husband has grown apart, you married him when he wasn't a pastor and you don't feel like you signed up for this.
  11. Pastor’s spend years in seminary (in real churches, not CC) and their wives attend seminary social events. Very few “real-life” training for pastors wives. And I blame seminaries for their ineffective help of training wives on how to be a pastor’s wife.
  12. Spouse may feel isolated since the church they are serving may be far from their family.
  13. [Added by suggestion] It is particularly hard on the spouse when the pastor is criticized. He or she may feel they cannot say anything to defend their spouse. On the other hand female spouses are increasingly professionals themselves and quite busy. Sometimes far too busy.
  14. [Added by suggestion] Another issue for the schools is that some women do not want to be a part of a spouses group. Our Partners in Ministry Program has been more effective in some years than others depending on the leadership.
  15. [Added by suggestion] One final thought: the smaller the church the bigger the problem!

This is all much more common that you might believe.

Suggestions

  1. Denominations need to think harder about these things. Find the decision makers. Many seminary Presidents are former pastors themselves but they don't want to "interfere" with this subject. Encourage them to encourage the organizations they already have in place that ministry to pastor's spouses needs to address the issues listed above.
  2. Invite pastor's wives to speak to these organizations, especially ones that are frank about the problems they had in ministry.
  3. Let your pastor's wife know you love her. Her husband probably already gets enough praise from people.
  4. Denominations need pastor's spouse retreats where the spouse can meet others with the same issues who can help them work through the issues. They will learn they are not alone and find someone safe to share their issues with. This has to happen at local denominational level. There needs to be child care because the excuse the wife gives is that she can't go to a retreat because she's a mom and dad is not able to do the job she can.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Eastern Orthodoxy in America unifying

Bishop Basil of the Antiochian Orthodox Church talks about the Episcopal Assembly which met to discuss the way forward to administrative unity between the various jurisdictions of Orthodoxy in America.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

PCUSA Ecumenical speaker tells truth

Good stuff.

The Confession of Dositheus

Acts and Decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem (A.D. 1672)

Ought the Divine Scriptures to be read in the vulgar tongue by all Christians?

No. For that all Scripture is divinely-inspired and profitable {cf. 2 Timothy 3:16} we know, and is of such necessity, that without the same it is impossible to be Orthodox at all. Nevertheless they should not be read by all, but only by those who with fitting research have inquired into the deep things of the Spirit, and who know in what manner the Divine Scriptures ought to be searched, and taught, and in fine read. But to such as are not so exercised, or who cannot distinguish, or who understand only literally, or in any other way contrary to Orthodoxy what is contained in the Scriptures, the Catholic Church, as knowing by experience the mischief arising therefrom, forbiddeth the reading of the same. So that it is permitted to every Orthodox to hear indeed the Scriptures, that he may believe with the heart unto righteousness, and confess with the mouth unto salvation; {Romans 10:10} but to read some parts of the Scriptures, and especially of the Old [Testament], is forbidden for the aforesaid reasons and others of the like sort. For it is the same thing thus to prohibit persons not exercised thereto reading all the Sacred Scriptures, as to require infants to abstain from strong meats.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Ayn Rand and Christianity - Compatible?

Some Thoughts
I've recently finishing listening to Ayn Rand's "Fountainhead" on audio-book. I've read the book in paperback in the past as well as her book "Atlas Shrugged". I won't pretend to have a completely thought out approach to thinking about this subject of Rand and Christianity, but here's some thoughts.

Economics
Rand's economic theory is Laissez-faire capitalism which means allowing industry to be free from state intervention, especially restrictions in the form of tariffs and government monopolies. Rand's writings strike a particular resonance today with rampant government "stimulus plans" and unprecedented levels of government debt.

There is no singular accepted view of economics with Christians ranging from socialist to free-market capitalists. Thus, Rand's view of economics is not inherently incompatible with Christianity. If anything, the Old Testament model of economics as exemplified by ancient Israel would appear to be very much a free market system with no centralized government.

Governmentalism/Statism
Rand rejects Statism, at least in economics. She does grant there is a role for government in keeping order, ie, the Constitutional limits provided by the original Constitution (national defense).

Few Christians would explicitly admit to be Statists. The history of early Christianity often pitted Christians against the state resulting in the deaths of untold Christians at the hand of the state. Many view the book of Revelation as a discourse against the coercive power of the state. However, many Christians also look to the state for their economic security (social security and unemployment come to mind particularly). The state has created a dependency class which, once started, is notoriously hard to dismantle. In the US, we need to look at how other states, such as Russia, have handled moving away from Statism.

Charity
Unlike the caricatures of her view, Rand doesn't oppose the idea of individual charity. Quite the contrary. Her opposition is more to the implementation of charity than the notion. Charity can't be forced or done to lord one's superiority over the person who is the object of charity. The person doing charitable work should do their work because they get something out of it, rather than the persons who receive the charity.

In Fountainhead, Howard Roark builds a government project, not to help the people in need, but because it's an architectural challenge which he believes he can meet. It's fine that people are helped (although are they really helped the book asks), but should not be the motive of the one doing the giving.

Similarly, Christians would oppose charity which is done for the sake of lording superiority over the one that is served. Overlapping the issue of economics, there are Christians who would see the idea of taxes funding charity as usurping individual charity, ie, not the proper function of government. In a society where people are taxed at about 1/2 of what they make, there's not much left to give in a charitable manner.

Atheism
Rand was an atheist/agnostic. She was an anti-supernaturalist. Rand enshrined reason as the highest value, functioning effectively as a god in her view.

Christians are supernaturalists in principle, but rarely in practice. Although Christians pray for help from God (particularly in times of need), they don't have much expectation of day-to-day intervention in their lives. In the realm of reason, Christians have a belief that reason has an origin with God, in His nature and in the Imago Dei which is given by God to man as part of His creation.

Who is Jesus?
The key notion of Christianity is that God became man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Rand's main characters (Roark and Galt) are messianic in the sense that they are very strong individuals who are set out as prototypes of authentic human behavior against a backdrop of a mankind which is itself inauthentic. They don't seek to gather followers, but because of their authentic testimony of their humanity, they can't help but gather disciples.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed has some problems for a memorialist Protestant. One is:
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
Certainly a memorialist Protestant would acknowledge the validity of baptism and believe in the forgiveness of sins, but would have serious problems with linking the two as the creed does. The creed is sacramental and a memorialist is not.

Sacraments are a means whereby God conveys grace to man. If baptism brings along forgiveness, then it's a sacrament, ie, a means of grace. If it's a means of grace then it's more than just a memorial.

For a Christian who holds to a memorialist view, the creed must be re-interpreted to mean something different than what it meant to the people who wrote it. This is a reinvention of the faith.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Problem With Mexico

The problem with Mexico is fairly simple. It's their government, which is socialist. Until the citizens of Mexico decide to cast of the shackles of socialism they will continue to be poor. Sad, but true. Only with an economic transformation can there be a chance for people in Mexico to be successful.

The Bible on Immigration

I've been following a thread on PP where a select group of passages were presented allegedly on the Biblical view of immigration. All of the passages were against oppression of resident aliens (KJV uses the word "sojourners" to describe them). Here's the passages listed in the post:

“He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
(Deuteronomy 10:18–19 ESV)

“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
(Exodus 22:21 ESV)

“You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the LORD your God.””
(Leviticus 24:22 ESV)

“Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.”
(Jeremiah 22:3 ESV)

As usual on PP, there are significant factors ignored. It's the usual list of social-justice passages, but for some reason is selective. Nobody in the threads interacts with the whole counsel of God. What does the Bible say about immigration?
Exo 12:48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
Let's ignore for the moment what would motivate someone who is doing a lookup of the passages on how aliens should be treated to ignore this and many similar passages. What does this passage itself say?

It says that to be a sojourner in the land of Israel one is required to obey the Jewish Law, including observing Passover. Is this an isolated passage? No, there are quite a few passages which show that the sojourner was more than a stranger in the land - he was a convert to the Jewish faith. Here's another passage:
Lev 17:10 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.
Here is perhaps an even stronger passage (if there's something stronger than the death penalty in the previous verse):
Lev 20:2 Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
And also,
Lev 16:29 And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:
If someone was residing in Israel they had to obey the religious laws of the land. How does that relate to our situation as citizens of a secular state? If anything, if America is a Christian country (a crucial subject now in debate) then there could be a requirement that someone applying to come to the USA must share the national faith.

If the USA is not a Christian nation, then why appeal to the Old Testament as a model for our country? It seems that selective eisegesis (reading into rather than out of the text) is once again at work on the PP.