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November 13, 2006

Comments

Dave

"Dave, theology is not football, and Christians are not referees."

Mr. Schwyzer, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Analogy. ;) I agree that Christians are not refs. I personally think that God is the ref.

Honestly, the question is one of authority. When I was a kid I played a lot of pickup games. There were no zebras. We were the refs. In my mind I NEVER traveled. Everyone else did, but not me. The theological question is “who is making the judgments?” The standard Wesley quad regards scripture as infallible.

You profess your Christianity and your feminist views in your blog. I am simply asking for an explanation of how you have come to your theology. I am honestly curious about how you view such things as Leviticus 18:22. For all I know you could use a mystery eight ball from Spencer’s or flip a silver dollar. Seriously though, I doubt that it is that capricious. Tell me more. Let us inside the mind of Hugo.

Sidebar: You de-boned that “Borat” film with a filet knife. Well done.

Hugo

Okay, the Hebrew word in Leviticus for "abomination" is Toevah, and it's regularly used to refer to women's menstruation elsewhere in the book. This is one of those culture-bound rules that no longer apply, much like Paul's insistence that men not have long hair.

John

it's a huge jump to assume that it is a "litmus-test position" for identifying as a believer.

St. Paul certainly thought it was. "If Christ is not raised, your faith is vain, and you are still in your sins."

Considering the Gospels' repeated emphasis on "who moved the Stone?" and where the body is, I don't think you can get out of a physical resurrection. It is the touchstone of the Christian faith, the triumph over death. Either you believe that or not, but if not, you put yourself outside the pattern of Christian truth we have received. Your faith is vain-Don't think you can get blunter than that.

Hugo

John, I assure you I share your faith in the physical resurrection. But I do not presume to tell those who love Jesus for who He was and use Him as the primary role model for how it is that they are to live that they aren't Christians.

SamChevre

I think I'm with the conservatives here.

I am certain some Christians have drawn overly restrictive lines as to whose a Christian; I really don't think that not listening to radio is a test of Christianity.

On the other hand, I think the 4 creeds (Apostles, Nicene, Athanasian, and Chalcedon) are a reasonable boundary; if pressed, I'd say that if you agree on the Apostles Creed but not one of the others, you are probably Christian. But that's as far as I can go; if you disagree with "the third day he rose from the dead" and "I believe in the resurrection of the body", I have a hard time acknowledging your belief as Christianity.

John

How do you separate "who He was" from "what He did"?

And when you love Jesus for "who He is", doesn't that mean accepting His claim to divinity?

Hugo

John, you're arguing with the wrong guy. I can say the Creeds and mean them; I am not sure that being a "creedal Christian" is the only way, however.

Ted

Dave: Do you follow all of the restrictions set forth in Leviticus? Do you keep kosher, and avoid wearing clothing containing more than one kind of fabric?

Dave Vargo

I don’t recall the penalty in Torah for intercourse with a menstruating woman as being death. The penalty for child sacrifice, sorcery, or homosexuality is death. In general, when one looks at a jurisprudence there is a greater punishment for things deemed more serious. Something in me says that child sacrifice is wrong, but it could just be an outmoded cultural belief . Hmmm. Something to think about that last, usually wild, week of school :)

Religion is based upon faith. It is, fundamentally, arational. On the other hand, science is rational and possess the possibility of rejection. (I believe that light is a wave. If you demonstrate to me that light does not refract I will reject my belief that light is a wave.)

I tend to see the way that God has designed things as a means of demonstrating some truth about himself; a divine spirit with both male and female aspects. I have always been physically attracted to women, but if I were to be in relationship with a man, it would be easy on many levels. I would really understand my partner’s perspective. At the same time, I would be avoiding the otherness of a relationship with a woman; a mysterious, different nature.

I find I have a tendency to look at scripture and try to make it agree with my preconceived notions. I must discipline myself to listen to God. This is a struggle for me. I honestly wonder how Hugo has come to his theology. Has he simply sought to find evidence to support his his theological conclusions or has he prayed and fasted for understanding? Is the “liberal” label dictated by his relationship with God or is his relationship with God determined by his political persuasion? He has graciously shared many intimate things with his readership before, but I don’t think that he has touched on this since I’ve been reading.

Ted: I have eschewed one fabric garments in favor stain resistance.

Hugo

Well, now you're asking a different sort of question, Dave! Asking me about how I wrestle to reconcile Scripture and my preconceived notions is worth a response. It'll come soon.

Tara

Dave,

Despite your recollection, the penalty for intercourse with a menstruating woman is death. Death is also the penalty for desecration of the Sabbath.

mythago

The laws of the Torah (other than the Noahide laws) only bind Jews, anyway, not Gentiles. Christians who wail about homosexuality better explain why they shave the corners of their beards and don't forgive interest every seven years.

Suzanne

I am new to this blog, but find the posts refreshing and the comments much more reasonable and civil than so many others.

In response to the question, "Who's a Christian?" I think we're missing many, many opportunities when we start trying to decide who is in and who is out. For some, Christianity is a great "A-ha!" moment and they accept the creeds without looking back. For many, many others, Christianity is a relationship that grows; it may begin with a good church community or Christian friend despite difficulties with the beliefs. It then can grow in the right environment.

Many people cannot "force" themselves to believe no matter how much they try, but they can grow into belief, as I have. I have been wrestling with God since I was a teenager, moving from atheism, to interest, to dabbling in a variety of denominations, to commitment to try to be a Christian even without believing in the bodily resurrection, to finally--due to the grace of God--accepting the full divinity of Jesus Christ. If someone had felt the need to tell me whether I was in or out even as I was trying, wanting, longing to fully love the Lord, I would have been discouraged wondering why I wanted to believe in a God whose people so inadequately, hypocritically, and sometimes cruelly use God's name to condemn others.

Sorry for the long post, but I feel certain that all we do as Christians either pulls people closer to the Lord or pushes them away. I know on which end I hope to be.

BTW after the 20-year journey, I am now in divinity school preparing for ordination.

Stentor

This is one of those culture-bound rules that no longer apply

So it was OK to stone homosexuals back then?

Original Lee

Hugo, I've been thinking hard about this post. I believe there is a difference between individual Christians assuming judgmental authority over other individual Christians outside of the context of the community or congregation (Kid A telling Kid B he's not a Christian because he's a Methodist, or because he eats cheese or something), and groups of Christians deciding that certain beliefs are heretical. If churches are how falliable human beings try to implement the Church, then obviously imperfect interpretations of Scripture, and outright errors will occur, because people are not perfect. How can we help each other, but by lovingly pointing out things that look to us like errors? I think that's the real tension here - it's so tempting to reassure ourselves that we really are good Christians by calling out a "lesser" or "false" Christian that we completely ignore the bits about doing it out of love and with love. Paul wrote quite a lot about this, I think because it is so important in developing as a Christian to be able to handle both the error and the temptation to correct it.

So on the one hand, I think you're right to tell the kids that nobody can referee their Christianity, because that's really between them and God, but on the other hand, I think it might be wise also to point out how to deal with concerns about possible false or erroneous beliefs. For instance, many people cite Titus to justify keeping women in subordinate roles, but these same people almost never continue to the next verse about loving and caring for your wife as if she were a part of your own body. (One pastor of mine used to say that his theology professor translated this passage as "favorite part" of the body, and guess what that would be for men?) So plucking verses out of context can lead to beliefs and behaviors that are not very Christian at all. As for me, I tend to ascribe to TULIP for my Christianity-meter, and would never presume that God sees the same thing that I do (but then, I'm Calvinist).

mike

Certainly it is not anyone's place (other than God's) to "judge" whether one is a Christian or not. However, just as the Bible states, "You show me your faith without works and I will show you my faith by my works." Certainly we have been given discernment from the indwelling Holy Spirit to "test the spirit" and make distinctions that are beyond personal preference based upon the black and white doctrines found and taught in the Bible. While I do not believe we can ever know someone's heart or what their soteriological standing with God is, we can certainly judge right from wrong and when someone is in fact teaching heresy or is incorrect in their teaching of doctrine. While we can't say you are not a "Christian" in the true sense of the word based upon your endorsement or or rejection of the gay lifestyle, certainly, from a Biblical standpoint we can take a stand against what the Bible calls sin and condemn any teaching that would state otherwise. Your own words state, "I want them to love Him not merely as a great role model for righteous praxis but as the greatest of friends, the best of brothers, the most intimate of lovers. That is how I know Him, and that sweet, intimate, spiritually erotic relationship is the most exciting and enriching of my life." This is at best a perverted way of teaching or describing a relationship with Christ as outlined in the Bible. Assigning such rainbow diversity to God is not Biblical. He is what He is. He is holy, righteous, just, loving, jealous and, among many other things, Judge. The common theme with God is that He abhors sin and evil. We are all sinful and evil. Christ was given as the only remedy for what ails all mankind and it is not our place to begin to wink at sin (such as homosexuality or fornication or adultery, etc.) when God still hates sin. Why should we endorse such sins when these are what Christ has saved us from? How does this help further Christ's kingdom?

Dave

I've been reading this blog for a while, thanks for the informative posts.

-Dave
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Sam

What does the term 'inclusive church' mean? If it means extolling everything that is denounced in the Bible, then, we might as well disband the church. The Bible has more than one verse clearly describing homosexuality as unnatural and as an abomination. There are people who say that homosexuality was a sin only in a specific context of time and place. But then, this same argument can be used to discredit all the commandments of the Bible. Fornication, adultery, worship of idols would all become permissible in the 'inclusive churches'. What is the basis of believing that homosexuality alone was a conditional sin and not the other sins? Christianity is not about your way and my way but Jesus' way. If the Bible says that homosexuality is an abomination, then, that is the way it is. For those who believe that there can be errors in the Bible, there is no hope because they can never be certain about which of the verses are true and which are wrong. Accept the Bible as it is and don't try to interpret it as you would like it to be.

carla

What insanity overcame me to ever want to become 'part of the church'.

There IS no church!

It's all insane bollocks!

I know. I was just young, gullible and willing to listen to anyone who seemed to care.

That said...I do have a handful of Christian friends who I consider to be excellent people. I like their version of Christ.

Christ comes in versions. So many versions it makes your head spin.

Petra

Hi Hugo and others,

I feel so blessed to have found your blog and all these responses at this time in my life. Not only do I have a major crush on a student that is getting dangerously out of hand--emotionally, anyway; not physically, thank God--and it was my search term on that subject that I found your blog...

but I was so traumatized by growing up evangelical Christian that I threw God out at age 19 (I'm 32 now) and have been suffering every since. Reading Zen texts and wisdom has helped me a great deal to move beyond a legalistic approach to life, but I still struggle just from the huge hole in my life where God/assurance/salvation/community used to be. I have tried going to different churches from time to time, and every time I feel so overwhelmed that I have to leave.

Your postings, and the responses to it, make it seem like there are some people out there who believe in God/Jesus but also affirm the right of gays to get married, etc. I am daring to hope now...is there a place for me after all in a church somewhere?

I am going to look into All Saints Episcopal that you mentioned. But anyone who reads this and wants to respond to me in general terms is welcome to do so. I am a tenure track prof. here in L.A. but lost my summer classes so I have time for emailing and blogging...and maybe too much time for thinking!

Yours, "Petra"

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well it does not matter who you are or believe just enjoy the life like it is take out any tabu or what the people says this is a very controversial topic

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