This article, positioned under the line below, was originally published on June 12 in the congregational newsletter of Grace West Hill, Presbyterian, “Grace to You”. It re-blogged here as a guest post with the author’s permission.
In this piece pastor Joe expresses what might be characterized as a heart broken, gentle polemic * regarding the issue of scriptural authority, and what that means to faithfulness to Jesus Christ, as it unfolded during the recent General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada in Vancouver, BC.
These words may be very hard for some Canadian Presbyterians to hear. Even those who substantially agree with Joe on the nature and authority of Scripture may wince thinking that his rhetoric might be a tad too strong.
But Joe is right. Joe is hearing from Jesus and Joe is writing in the Spirit. How can we go forward in fellowship together as an institutional organization within Christ’s Church if we cannot agree on the fundamentals of how we hear from Jesus? If our root answer to what is true is radically different, then the ‘ugly’ question necessarily arises: do we share the same faith?
The sad, hard answer is no, we don’t. Some folks are tripping on the belt of truth out of a false sense of righteousness. Some people have let something that appears as an ‘angel of light’ in behind the shield of faith. Some of us need to repent and step into the light of life. Is it I, Lord?
Christianity appears to mean many things that are related to Jesus. Is Christianity a movement that is influenced by the teaching of Jesus as we find our own way in the world? Or is faith obedience to the Word of the King that comes reliably, sufficiently and necessarily through the inspired, in-errant Word of God? What is true? What is false? And what is lukewarm, pending a good spew?
Jesus is Risen. Jesus is Lord. What is Jesus saying to the Church? What is it to follow Jesus with ‘hospitality and justice’ for all? Whose hospitality? Whose justice? Whose agenda? What is hospitality and justice? What is truth?
“When they said, repent, repent, I wonder what they meant….” Leonard Cohen, The Future.
All to Jesus I surrender. Please Lord Please give us grace to surrender to you. Do not let us stumble in our own ‘wisdom’. Give us grace to repent, for the Kingdom of God is established in your death and resurrection.
*yes gentle polemic is an oxymoron but it is so difficult to express the sorrow & compassion for deceived fellow humanity along with the revulsion & horror at the spiritual deception that is engulfing our denomination. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers…..”.
“Grace to You” – June 12, 2015 — The Rev. Joseph Gray
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,” I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord,and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,” II Corinthians 6:16-17
Have you ever participated in an interfaith dialogue? If you haven’t it’s certainly an interesting and eye opening experience. Ultimately you realize that you are communicating with people who share very little in common with you as a Christian. You listen, you learn and you try to do so with respect. Eventually, you realize that in spite of our many differences we are fellow human beings created in God’s image. Above all else this is what we hold in common. Sadly, you also begin to realize that any hope of finding a common truth is a hopeless illusion. With all the good intentions in the world, we will never find common ground. We can learn to respect one another and seek to live in peace together, but honestly, we are far too different to find real common ground.
The above statement may sound harsh to our modern politically correct ears, but face it, if you are a committed disciple of Jesus, you know that it’s true! Jesus said,” I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” Pretty narrow by our modern standards. But if you trust and follow Jesus, you know it’s true.
My recent experience attending the 2015 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada reminded me of this reality. I met many lovely, gracious, polite people while I was there. People who spoke of unity. Sadly when it was over, I realized that as a committed born again disciple of Jesus who takes the Word of God seriously (the inspired inerrant Word of God!) I had very little in common with the majority of the people in attendance. They were very nice people. Fellow human beings, created in the image of God. Beyond this we had very little in common.
Sound harsh? No it’s not. It’s reality. Time to face the facts. We can love and pray for these people. (We must do so!). Pray that God will take hold of their hearts and transform them. God worked the miracle of transformation in my heart and in yours. God loves lost humanity and wishes to see us repent and be saved. Without the miracle of salvation, “Christian” is just an empty word. May our broken hearted prayer be like that of the Apostle Paul’s, “Brethren my heart and prayer is that all Israel might be saved.”