April 28th, 2011

says who

Here I stand

When I graduated from seminary in 1978, I faced a problem. I was considerably more conservative (theologically and politically) than the bulk of United Methodist clergy; well, I should say, than the bulk of the leadership of UM clergy. I wanted to live out the unity that we should have in Christ, and I didn't want to just gripe and grumble all the time.

I decided that the bottom line for me was Nicene orthodoxy. I staked my position on the Creeds. So long as nobody tried to redefine God, I'd let the prevailing liberalism roll on by, unchallenged. I'd even join it when I felt it was onto something good. I would support all my denominational causes, so long as I could say, with integrity, that I was only teaching and preaching the official doctrine of The UMC (as stated in The Articles of Religion, etc.).

I figured this was a pretty safe bet. After all, back in the day, NOBODY was talking about doctrine. The UMC was talking about saving the whales and nuclear freezes and various social/political programs. God was not being argued about at all. Even the Evangelicals, though they harped on Scriptural this and that, seemed bored with actual theology. They wanted to talk about experiences and culture. I had the Creeds to myself.

Imagine my surprise when the liberals discovered the Creeds -- and set out to re-define them, and God. The last eighteen years, despite homosexuality being seen as the main thing we all clash over, we have seen an increasingly aggressive push by "progressives" against traditional orthodoxy. In the end, even the arguments over homosexuality aren't really about homosexuality, per se; they're about what truth is, and who gets to define it. The Evangelical resistance has broadened in its response (which I'm very glad to see), and now we have groups like the Confessing Movement who are picking their battles wisely. Instead of being distracted by merely defending the old Evangelical subculture, they are standing up for the whole history of Christian orthodoxy.

Still, it has made me grumpier to have to deal with all this. I have to struggle to avoid becoming merely an angry partisan. No doubt I sometimes cross that line and become something like those whom I so strongly oppose. It's hard to maintain the right spirit in an atmosphere of constant conflict. But the conflict isn't going to go away, and having been backed into the corner I chose for myself over thirty years ago, I have nowhere else to go.

U.S. Grant said, "I propose to fight it out along this line if it takes all summer." I would say, without much joy, but with obedience, I will fight it out along this line if it takes the rest of my life (or at least, my career).

The Athanasian Creed

Whoever wants to be saved should above all cling to the catholic faith.

Whoever does not guard it whole and inviolable will doubtless perish eternally.

Now this is the catholic faith: We worship one God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being.

For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Spirit is still another.

But the deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory, coeternal in majesty.

What the Father is, the Son is, and so is the Holy Spirit.

Uncreated is the Father; uncreated is the Son; uncreated is the Spirit.

The Father is infinite; the Son is infinite; the Holy Spirit is infinite.

Eternal is the Father; eternal is the Son; eternal is the Spirit: And yet there are not three eternal beings, but one who is eternal; as there are not three uncreated and unlimited beings, but one who is uncreated and unlimited.

Almighty is the Father; almighty is the Son; almighty is the Spirit: And yet there are not three almighty beings, but one who is almighty.

Thus the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God: And yet there are not three gods, but one God.

Thus the Father is Lord; the Son is Lord; the Holy Spirit is Lord: And yet there are not three lords, but one Lord.

As Christian truth compels us to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords.

The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten; the Son was neither made nor created, but was alone begotten of the Father; the Spirit was neither made nor created, but is proceeding from the Father and the Son.

Thus there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three spirits.

And in this Trinity, no one is before or after, greater or less than the other; but all three persons are in themselves, coeternal and coequal; and so we must worship the Trinity in unity and the one God in three persons.

Whoever wants to be saved should think thus about the Trinity.

It is necessary for eternal salvation that one also faithfully believe that our Lord Jesus Christ became flesh.

For this is the true faith that we believe and confess: That our Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son, is both God and man.

He is God, begotten before all worlds from the being of the Father, and he is man, born in the world from the being of his mother -- existing fully as God, and fully as man with a rational soul and a human body; equal to the Father in divinity, subordinate to the Father in humanity.

Although he is God and man, he is not divided, but is one Christ.

He is united because God has taken humanity into himself; he does not transform deity into humanity.

He is completely one in the unity of his person, without confusing his natures.

For as the rational soul and body are one person, so the one Christ is God and man.

He suffered death for our salvation. He descended into hell and rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

At his coming all people shall rise bodily to give an account of their own deeds.

Those who have done good will enter eternal life, those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.

This is the catholic faith.

One cannot be saved without believing this firmly and faithfully.

Pip, pip

Well, today has certainly been a back-and-forth kind of day; meaning, I've felt like a tennis ball in the midst of a long volley. Still, I've finally got our crew gear list written out, so I don't think I'll forget anything vital tomorrow.

If any of you are available Saturday afternoon, c'mon out to the Monroe County Fairgrounds to see the Scouts in action. Packs, Troops, and Crews will be camping out on the grounds. In the afternoon, there will be an old-fashioned Scout-o-rama (Scout Show). Come see Scouts building monkey bridges, practicing crafts, presenting displays, etc. And be sure to drop by Venturing Crew 119 between 12 and 4 for an English Cream Tea.

Crew 119 is making English muffins (from scratch). There will be jam and butter and what-all to put on them. And we'll be making a pot of tea now and again. Come, join us for a cuppa.