Taking Stock at the 500th Post

500posts

General Comments

So here I am writing the 500th post on this blog!  The first post is dated November 25, 2014 and titled “Opening Thoughts.”  My first paragraph is:

This blog will focus on my sense of sojourning through a foreign land as an orthodox, Reformed Christian.  This sense has been a longstanding one with regard to the popular culture here in the United States. I am by no means isolated from this country’s entertainment, political and business cultures.  In fact, I am an active participant in them all.  Though many aspects of these cultures are troubling, I am accustomed to dealing with the challenges and benefits that they provide.

Looking back 499 posts later I’m reasonably comfortable with my adherence to this framework.  That being the responses of an orthodox Reformed Christian to a wide variety of issues within the United States.

I am shocked by the speed that this “foreign land” has expanded over these mere four and a half years.  At the start my sense of alienation was clear but not central. Now I find myself fundamentally alienated from my Christian denomination, the culture and the political environment.  Therefore this blog has transformed from one  centered on exploration to one focused on identifying and exposing the myriad of insane ideas that are driving our civilization towards destruction.

Thus what began as an exploration focused on the PCUSA has expanded into areas such as environmentalism, philosophy, economic systems, politics, heresy, literature, abortion and anti-Semitism, among many others.  I have published three eBooks, all focused on topical issues addressed through Biblical exposition and meditation.  Most recently I have added satire as a means of communicating my concerns.

I have identified the prime driver of civilizational destruction to be Progressive ideology as practiced by both secular and religious institutions.  Therefore I have focused strongly on a critique of this ideology’s foundations, strategies and results.  Some of the major themes of this critique are:

I’ve also attempted to understand and then explain the philosophical underpinnings of the Progressive project (e.g., postmodernism, nihilism, Marxism, multiculturalism, intersectionality, pacifism, Gnosticism, identity, etc.).  My goal is to enhance our ability to counter their positions and to unmask the shocking evil that hides beneath that wafer-thin veneer of moral and intellectual posturing (many people who parrot the Progressive ideology have no idea what they are actually supporting).

Although I have expanded my scope far beyond the PCUSA, I still maintain a regular focus on this my denomination. The only way that I can maintain my Christian conscience is by a posture of opposition and rejection.  Yes, there remain many faithful pastors, elders, deacons and members in the denomination.  However, the theology and behavior of the dominant Progressive leadership has been so outrageously apostate and dishonorable that to remain silent is tantamount to support.  My voice is small, yet I will not choose silence.  So, as long as I’m in this denomination I will speak out as necessary.

I’m currently working on a new eBook provisionally titled A Denomination’s Debacle.  The book pulls together much of the PCUSA information and associated commentary from this blog with the addition of new material to fill-out the story.  It’s currently over 300 pages long, which is almost twice the length of my previous longest eBook.  It troubles me that through exclusive use of publicly available information such a substantial case for the PCUSA elite’s apostasy and corruption can be made.

the-truth-about-truth-a-nietzsche-feature-darwin-festival-version-3-638The “God is Dead” Christian Elite

Throughout this blog’s existence I have occasionally paused to discuss why our elite Christian leadership believes and behaves as it does.  Along these lines I have explored postmodern Christianity, the Social Gospel, Gnosticism and raw power politics, among others.  However, identification of a single unifying principle for this phenomena has to this point eluded me.

Perhaps the foundational principle is that these “Christian” elites agree with Nietzsche that belief in “God” as a reality upon which Western Civilization can base its religious/moral world view, “is dead.”  Let’s think through the consequences of this hypothesis.

Let’s say that you are a pastor or elder who has personally lost faith in the Christian God (or any god for that matter). And, you find that there are many others in the church who hold similar views.  So, you all find yourselves in an organization (i.e., the church) whose fundamental reason for existing has, in your opinion, vanished.  Yet the church has many remaining members and wields moral power in the civilization.  What then to do?

Well, you could work to dissolve the church by openly arguing that it has become obsolete and useless.  However, given that tens of millions still (foolishly in your opinion) believe in God’s existence you would likely fail and be expelled.  Therefore you would have to create a new organization to advance your philosophy.  That’s a very heavy lift with a small likelihood of success.  Far better to remain in the church but work for its transformation into an institution that does “social good.”

Of course, if “God is dead” and the Bible is thus null and void, how to find the social good to pursue?  The answer was found in the most aggressive, organized and presumptive human ideology supposedly pursuing the “social good,” that being what we now call Progressivism (which has its roots in Marxism, as contemporary Progressives are finally admitting).  Thus the elite Christian leadership of Mainline Denominations turned their churches from the Gospel of Jesus Christ to “the gospel of social change and justice” as defined by the secular Progressive political project.

chasmFor decades this stealth-coup was hidden behind multiple complex theological smoke screens that orthodox Christians had great difficulty penetrating.  However, with the advent of gay ordination and marriage the chasm between orthodoxy and heterodoxy became so vast that no amount of smoke could obscure it.  Thus we have seen the parting of ways where so many orthodox members and churches have exited.

Yet some orthodox members and churches have so far decided to remain.  If they do so with the clear understanding that they are missionaries to a now pagan, post-Christian denomination then perhaps they can successfully maintain their orthodox Christian identity.

However, if they pretend that they remain part of a “Christian” denomination then they will almost certainly be eventually converted and then absorbed.  This will occur because they grant legitimacy to the denomination’s dominant post-Christian ideology and thus will increasingly fall prey to its influence.  If that be their end then they have no excuse, for they have been warned and their consciences will testify against them at the time of accounting.

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The Problem of Righteousness (5)

self-righteousness-consigns

The “it” here is self-righteousness, Christian or otherwise.

The Self-Righteousness Compulsion (1)

The destruction and despair to which self-righteousness leads is not limited to the Christian experience.  However, it is particularly tragic that Christianity as practiced in the West has been so completely consumed by this false doctrine.  Could Jesus Christ have been any more direct on this point than in the following parable.

Pharisee-tax-collector

The Pharisee and the tax collector…the self-righteous and the Christ imputed-righteous, respectively.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  Luke 18:9-14 (NIV)

Does this Parable of Christ not embody the “rejection, isolation and condemnation” of this post’s top image?  The Pharisee “stood by himself” in splendid moral isolation; from which position he spewed condemnation on everyone else in general and the tax collector in particular.  The result was rejection by God Himself!  And yet, even Christian denominations theoretically founded on Reformed theology are dominated by self-righteous leaders and laity.  This is to say nothing of the rampant self-righteousness in our secular culture used to seek raw power over others.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves.  Self-righteousness is an unavoidable compulsion caused by our fallen state of sin.  I am guilty of it, you are guilty of it.  We all are guilty of it.  But there is something at work in our contemporary Western culture that has supercharged this compulsion to create a particularly powerful weapon of destruction.

I believe that this self-righteousness supercharger has two primary components, those being:

  1. The osmosis of postmodernism from the universities into our general political, educational, legal, media and cultural institutions;
  2. The power of social media to enable easy creation of “social justice” mobs that can in just a few days destroy the character and livelihood of their targets.

I will discuss these two components in the next post.

 

A Modest Overture to the 224th General Assembly (1b)

Presbytery-of Gaia

This is not as far removed from the current PCUSA situation (for example see here, here and here) that one would hope.

On Bringing our Book of Confessions into the Post-Christian PC(USA) Era — from the Presbytery of Gaia

Rationale

For the fifty years after acceptance of the Confession of 1967 the PC(USA) has dragged all of the Confessions that preceded it along like anchors.  Until 2011 this ruse may have been necessary to maintain quiescence of the denomination’s majority of orthodox-minded members.  However, with the Progressive victories on gay ordination and marriage we have successfully driven most of these orthodox-minded members either out of the denomination or into a state of fearful submission to our victorious ideology.

Glorious-Exit

This is actual PCUSA data.

Between 2011 and 2017 the PC(USA) experienced a net loss of 601,000 members and 1146 churches. Thus, over this period the denomination lost a net of almost 30% of its membership and almost 12% of its churches.  The majority of these losses were the orthodox Reformed members and churches that had held us back and that continued to value the pre-1967 Confessions.  Thus this glorious exit of irredeemable members and churches has freed the PC(USA) from the dead hand of orthodox Reformed Christianity!

Glorious-Exit2

This is actual PCUSA data.

In 2013 the PC(USA) had 1086 Ministry Candidates.  The very next year, 2014, this number fell by almost 50% to 562.  Can there be any doubt that this sudden flight to the exits was by candidates who had orthodox Christian beliefs that were supported by our outdated and destructive historic Confessions?  Thus, in a single year, we “Purposeful Progressives” (see below) gloriously emptied our denomination’s seminaries of virtually all orthodox Christians!

These results are a great victory for our self-described strategy of exclusion and submission, which we acknowledged in “When We Gather at the Table: A PC(USA) Snapshot” as the “Purposeful Progressives” (emphasis added, note that this is a true quote from an official PCUSA document, not made-up satirical quote).

They are less tolerant of conservative theologies within the denomination. Some remain hopeful that conservatives who are upset with the 221st General Assembly (2014) decisions on marriage will see that there are different ways to interpret scripture, and will choose to stay and accept the changes, over time. Others would simply be happy if the conservatives left the PC(USA), and a few offered suggestions for helping dissenting congregations to leave the denomination with grace and dignity.

Now that, through our fierce commitment to inclusiveness, we have successfully driven out most of the irredeemable theological members, churches and ministry candidates there is no longer a need to maintain the pretense that the pre-1967 Confessions (and the Brief Statement of Faith) have the slightest relevance to our wondrous post-Christian denominational future.  In order to more efficiently and effectively pursue this goal we must cast off these fraudulent documents.  Eventually the Confession of 1967 itself may need go be deleted, as its problematical tangental relationship to past Christian orthodoxy becomes an impediment achieving our ultimate goals.

As itemized in the Overture, this result has already happened in effect.  In order to grasp our glorious future as co-comrades with the gods we must have the courage to cut loose these worse than useless monument-anchors.  Then we can openly proclaim our post-Christian message without confusion or constraint.

We have demonstrated the will to power necessary to drive out or subdue the morally and spiritually inferior (i.e., those who lack our blessed gnosis) among us.  Let’s now, together, take the next and necessary step to cement our future in post-Christianity!

A Modest Overture to the 224th General Assembly (1a)

Presbytery-of GaiaOn Bringing our Book of Confessions into the Post-Christian PC(USA) Era — from the Presbytery of Gaia

Overture

The Presbytery of Gaia respectfully overtures the 224th General Assembly (2020) to make the following statement:

Because

  • The Confession of 1967 was, by the admission of its primary authors, intended to directly contradict the Westminster Confession on numerous central doctrinal points and generally demotes the historic Confessions to “monuments.” See that in The Proposal to Revise the Confessional Position of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., Edward A. Dowey, Jr., chairman of the committee that composed The Confession of 1967, writes: “A statement that is appropriate and powerful in its own day may fail to guide the church after some decades or centuries have gone by. It comes to resemble a monument marking the past more than a tool for present work.” (pp. 20, 21).
  • The PC(USA) has redefined the meaning of “Christian Marriage” in the Book of Order without changing the definition of marriage in any of the historic Confessions from the PC(USA)’s Book of Confessions.  As one example see the Westminster Confession, Chapter XXIV: “Of Marriage and Divorce 1. Christian marriage is an institution ordained of God, blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ, established and sanctified for the happiness and welfare of mankind, into which spiritual and physical union one man and one woman enter, cherishing a mutual esteem and love, bearing with each other’s infirmities and weaknesses, comforting each other in trouble, providing in honesty and industry for each other and for their household, praying for each other, and living together the length of their days as heirs of the grace of life.”  This decision officially confirms the irrelevance of all the historic Confessions for Biblical interpretation or theological guidance.
  • The Senior Pastor of the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, one of the largest and most influential churches in the PC(USA), in a 2018 interview denied the nature of God as defined in all of the historic Confessions, from the Nicene Creed to The Theological Declaration of Barmen by declaring that “God’s not a Christian . . . We are.”
  • The Ordination Vows for Officers have become impossible to uphold in clear conscience given that at least two distinct and contradictory sets of doctrine are contained in the Book of Confessions.

The 224th General Assembly (2020) therefore decrees that all Confessions in the Book of Confessions are null and void “as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do” except for the Confession of 1967 and the Confession of Belhar. An updated Book of Confessions that includes only the Confession of 1967 and the Confession of Belhar will therefore be generated and distributed.  All current and future Officers will be instructed to use only the Confession of 1967 and the Confession of Belhar until such time as a new Confession is added to this new Book of Confessions or the Confession of 1967, having served its historic purpose, is also eventually removed.

Erasing the Old Testament (3)

wolf-among-sheep

The flock isn’t protected by pretending they aren’t there.

Yes, “Ignorance or Worse”

In the last post in this series I pointed out that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was primarily preached  from the Old Testament for at least the first century of Christianity’s existence.  I characterized failure to understand this by “New Testament Christians” as “ignorance or worse.”  Perhaps some readers were discomforted by this language.  But, since the New Testament testifies so unmistakability to this point it can be only by utter ignorance of the New Testament that “New Testament Christians” can hold their position.  The “and worse” refers to the Christian heresy of Marcionism, which is summarized as follows (emphasis added).

… a Gnostic sect that flourished in the 2nd century AD. The name derives from Marcion of Asia Minor who, sometime after his arrival in Rome, fell under the influence of Cerdo, a Gnostic Christian, whose stormy relations with the Church of Rome were the consequence of his belief that the God of the Old Testament could be distinguished from the God of the New Testament—the one embodying justice, the other goodness. For accepting, developing, and propagating such ideas, Marcion was expelled from the church in 144 as a heretic, but the movement he headed became both widespread and powerful.

Marcion applied these ideas by constructing a “canon of Scripture” that consisted of Luke and Paul’s Epistles edited to remove all references to the Old Testament.  In summary:

He rejected the Old Testament as the document of an alien religion; and he taught that Jesus had come to save humankind from the control of the evil Creator to whom the Old Testament witnesses.

Thus the “New Testament Christians” attitude towards the Old Testament sometimes comes uncomfortably close the Marcion heresy, and occasionally clearly crosses the line.  Should people in the Church who seek to diminish or erase the Old Testament be meekly accommodated or vigorously opposed?

Perhaps pointing out that I write within context of my experience as a member in the PCUSA will help to explain my position.  What I have witnessed in this denomination is orthodox Reformed members and pastors giving, over decades, every benefit of the doubt to those expressing apostate and even heretical views.  Thus, rather than confronting what was actually happening they too often pretended that this was just another legitimate theological debate.  Yes, the orthodox Christians imagined that they would surely prevail against such obvious error.  They didn’t.

If anyone reading this doubts that the PCUSA has become a comfortable home for open, aggressive heresy, apostasy and atheism then please click on the “Heresy” and “Gnosticism” Categories of this blog.  There you will find posts on a past Moderator of the General Assembly openly embracing Gnosticism and a current pastor of one of our most influential churches denying the Christian God.  You will also find an ordained and installed PCUSA pastor who is an aggressive atheist.  What you will not find is the slightest evidence of effective resistance to these supposed Christian leaders.  What you will find is denominational affirmation.  The information in these posts shows how utterly ineffective has been the strategy of accommodation by our orthodox-minded members.

Does my position mean that anyone who voices what could be characterized as a non-orthodox view be labeled a heretic, apostate or atheist? Of course not!  But, I am saying that we must clearly identify and then confront those ideas among us that lead to great theological error.  In the vast majority of cases these ideas are being expressed out of ignorance.  But, as the above set of posts on “Heresy” and “Gnosticism” clearly show, there are wolves in the PCUSA running freely throughout Christ’s flock who must be confronted.

Charles Péguy (1873-1914) has said it well.

He who does not bellow the truth when he knows the truth makes himself the accomplice of liars and forgers.” Charles Péguy

Obviously the application of this belief must be guided by prudence and proportion.  No one should “bellow the truth” over trivial issues or minor infractions.  But here in the PCUSA we have lost not just the influence of our historic Confessions but also the very authority of Scripture.  It is not just by the craftiness and persistence of post-Christians in our midst that this debacle has occurred.  No, it also has occurred because we orthodox Christians have failed to engage in debate with sufficient clarity of purpose and honesty about the stakes.

For the remainder of this series I will focus on addressing the “ignorance” issue.  However, make no mistake, this ignorance is sourced, encouraged and supported  by the theological wolves at loose in our denomination.

Making Sense of Progressive Nonsense (1)

PCUSA-Pastor

The Rev. Susan Rothenberg: “We welcome everybody here!” … “You don’t belong here!”  Wait, what?

A Logical Contradiction, or Not?

In a recent post I discussed the behavior and statements of the Rev. Susan Rothenberg within context of reality exceeding satire.  However, there is a far more serious, consequential aspect of this situation.  For, while it’s easy to point out the ridiculousness of her ranting “We welcome everybody here!” and “You don’t belong here!”, the fact that neither she nor her Presbytery saw anything wrong with these apparently contradictory statements should cause great concern.

In particular, the Rev. Rothenberg explicitly refused to apologize for her statements.

While I don’t regret what I said, I do regret the pain that it’s caused. … It has spiraled, and it’s incredibly sad that that has happened. I love my church, and I love my denomination, and I have deep regret for any harm they may be experiencing.”

The Pittsburg Presbytery also refused to in any way criticize her behavior or words, but rather sought to cloak her in the snow-white garb of official victimhood.  Speaking as the top official in the Presbytery the Rev. Sheldon W. Sorge said:

“The pent-up anger this has revealed is astonishing. Susan’s protest has had the effect of a breach in a dam, and the torrent of hate-filled speech it has unleashed is vast and truly alarming,” the letter said.

So, to recap, neither the Rev. Rothenberg nor the Rev. Sorge acknowledged that a PCUSA minister publicly (and hatefully) screaming an apparent logical contradiction (among other questionable ideas) reflects poorly on the denomination’s intellectual or moral standing.

How to account for this result?  A charitable theory is that they are so embarrassed that they pretend to not notice, hoping that it will just disappear down the memory hole.  There was a time years ago when I would have gladly grasped at this straw.

pcusa-dividedUnfortunately, the purposeful, sustained over decades, policy of the PCUSA elite has been the implementation of just this apparent logical contradiction.  That is, while claiming to be loving and inclusive, the PCUSA elite has hatefully pursued a policy of exclusion for members who oppose (or even don’t sufficiently support) their goals.  Compelling evidence for this theory is easily found.  For example, contempt of and hatred for non-Progressive PCUSA members did not prevent (and may well have assisted) election of our 2016 General Assembly Co-Moderators.  General hatred for non-Progressive citizens was hurled from the pulpit of one of the PCUSA’s largest and most influential churches.  A partial summary of recent behavior, actions and policies of PCUSA leadership reveals an environment that ranges from disrespect to open intolerance of orthodox Christianity.  Finally note that this group has brazenly and officially self-identified as those who demand exclusion of all who refuse submission  to their ideology.

And in response over 1,200 churches and one-million members have exited the denomination in less than a decade.  That’s right folks, the supposedly most “inclusive” ever Christian leadership has in reality excluded and then driven out a huge segment of its membership.  It would take a heart of stone to resist pointing out the ludicrous irony of this situation.

While the previous text describes the contradiction between “We welcome everybody here!” and “You don’t belong here!”, it doesn’t explain how PCUSA Progressives can logically justify this position.  It turns out that the Reverends Sorge and Rothenberg provide key insight.  While defending the Rev. Rothenberg:

Rev. Sorge said he does not expect any efforts within the church to oust his colleague and note that Presbyterians have a long history of supporting political activism.

When asked to explain her behavior, she responded:.

“We have to give voice to pain and suffering. And sometimes pain and suffering is not attractive and doesn’t look like we have it all together. And I think that’s what it looked like”

Thus, the fact that the Rev. Rothenberg was practicing “political activism” supporting victims of “pain and suffering” justifies her behavior.  And, by extension, the PCUSA’s Progressive elite can and does justify almost anything by this same logic.

Therefore, to expand the Rev. Rothenberg’s formulation, the PCUSA’s policy is:

  1. We welcome everybody [who claims to either (a) be a victim of oppression or (b) speak out for victims of oppression] here!
  2. You [victimizers who adhere to the orthodox Biblical doctrines of sin and redemption] don’t belong here!

obfuscationThis is how the PCUSA Progressive elite can pursue a policy that on the surface appears to be a logical contradiction.  They say (or in this case scream) the above bolded words aloud.  In their heads they add (something along the lines of) the bracketed words.  Perhaps we should start to take far more seriously the hidden sense in what appears to be Progressive nonsense.

Stinging Satire from the Babylon Bee (3)

Keeping Satire Ahead of Reality is Hard

As you have probably noticed by now I sometimes enjoy the Babylon Bee.  However, I’m concerned that it’s fighting a losing battle with reality.  Consider their dilemma. They must somehow stay ahead of the ever accelerating lunacy that is occurring in reality in order to deliver satire.  That’s hard and getting harder.

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 4.29.29 AMTake the PCUSA as a test case.  Back in 2017 the Bee published a satirical piece about the PCUSA’s position on inclusiveness.

“As a denomination, we just want to reiterate our sincere desire to extend a warm embrace to people of all backgrounds, as long as they don’t disagree with us on any single issue,” Rev. Craig Barnes said on behalf of the group, speaking to church leaders gathered at Princeton Theological Seminary. “We are totally committed to being accepting, loving, and never condemning—unless you’re a filthy, toxic traditionalist. Then all bets are off.”

The above excerpt’s quotes are, of course, made up and extreme for effect.  That’s simply a key aspect of satire.

PCUSA-Pastor

The Rev. Susan Rothenberg

However, a PCUSA minister recently created a public spectacle that in reality surpassed anything that the Bee could have imagined. Specifically, the Babylon Bee made up the quote by a made up PCUSA leader that “We are totally committed to being accepting, loving, and never condemning—unless you’re a filthy, toxic traditionalist. Then all bets are off” while an actual PCUSA pastor screamed in public that “We welcome everybody here!” and “You don’t belong here!” to the President of the United States and by obvious extension to those who support (or even don’t aggressively resist) him.

pittsburgh-presbytery

The Rev. Sheldon W. Sorge of the Pittsburgh Presbytery

As if to perfectly demonstrate in reality the entire satirical Bee imagined quote, the Pittsburgh Presbytery chose to only condemn those who objected to this behavior and tried to make the aggressor into a victim.

In an open letter titled “A Season of Travail” and published online Thursday, the Rev. Sheldon W. Sorge, the Presbytery’s general minister, expressed dismay at what he termed a “rush of anger unleashed on Facebook” at Rev. Rothenberg.

In an interview Thursday, Rev. Sorge said he was concerned by the level of animosity that has permeated emails, Facebook posts and phone messages that have flooded not only the Pittsburgh Presbytery but the church’s national office and presbytery offices elsewhere in the U.S.

The following paragraph in the same article is essential to drawing an informed conclusion about the Rev. Sorge’s response (emphasis added).

Calls have come in for Rev. Rothenberg, who currently works at a church consulting agency, to be dismissed or defrocked. And while Rev. Sorge said he is unaware of any threats of violence made, he said callers have resorted to denouncing Rev. Rothenberg in spiritual terms, telling her she can go to hell.

Yes, we can agree that a few responders saying “go to hell” is not an acceptable position.  However, if that’s the worst extreme in commentary by thousands of upset people then we can be confident that the vast majority of critical responses varied from thoughtful to angry, but were generally civil (see the end of this post for selected comments included in another article).

So, the Rev. Sorge backed his fellow cleric 100% and condemned all who voiced displeasure with her.  Is this stance any different than the Bee’s pretend statement that As a denomination, we just want to reiterate our sincere desire to extend a warm embrace to people of all backgrounds, as long as they don’t disagree with us?

Of course it’s not just the PCUSA who are making satire challenging.  So much so that the Instapundit site has created a tagline for those all too regular examples of reality challenging satirical imagination.

CNN UNVEILS NEW SLOGAN: ‘ORANGE MAN BAD.’

It’s the Babylon Bee, so it’s satire – or is it?

 

IT’S SATIRE, BUT IS IT REALLY? On Gender, Left Steps Up Effort Against Notorious Hate Group: Reality.

My theory is that this is a devious, brilliant conspiracy by the Progressive Left to destroy the Bee by making it impossible for satire to stay ahead of reality.

 



 

TheBlaze published an article on Rev. Rothenberg’s public outburst that includes a selection of comments found on Facebook.  While most are critical, not one crosses the line of civility.

The clip of Rothenberg yelling at Trump attracted over 29,000 comments on WTAE’s Facebook page since Tuesday evening. Most seemed decidedly against her yelling at the president:

  • “I guess she missed the entire point of the last few days. Hate is not welcomed or supported in Pittsburgh. She is fueling the very hate she says she’s against!”
  • “Wow are you kidding me? Leave your differences aside and stop being a disrespectful child in a time of mourning.”
  • This is not the Pittsburgh I grew up in, nor is it the Presbyterian Church I grew up in. The man wasn’t here to be with political people, but came with his family to honor the deceased and first responders, and visit those who were wounded. He did not affect you or the families of the deceased. Spewing hatred is the problem. I’m ashamed for these actions.”
  • “This lady just wanted attention. Notice her smile and cover her face than say sorry when she saw she was being recorded and getting the attention she wanted. She doesn’t care that her neighbors are trying to grieve for loved ones if she truly did she wouldn’t add to the chaos.”

But not every comment was negative:

  • “I feel her frustration. My heart aches for the family and love ones of those who were taken by hatred.”

Wow, pretty mild stuff.  But how dare the unwashed multitude criticize in any way the public behavior of a PCUSA minister!

Stinging Satire from the Babylon Bee (1)

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 5.35.30 AMThese Guys are Pretty Funny!

One of the more subversive Christian sites currently on the Internet is the Babylon Bee.  I was introduced to it via a few secular sites that focus on Conservative / Libertarian politics.  If you are a Progressive of any stripe you’ll likely not appreciate their perspective.  However, you may have to admit that they are pretty creative when it comes to critiquing politics and current events.

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 5.50.57 AMTheir primary modus operandi is to take an opponent’s position at face value and then  create overtly “fake news” articles that poke fun at their expense.  As readers of this blog would expect, one of my recent favorites is Progressive Group Launches ‘Center for Advanced Ad Hominems’.  Whereas my method is to seriously demonstrate the existence and destructiveness of this behavior the Bee assumes Progressive ownership of this tactic and then takes it to the logical (but credible?) extreme.  The text is funny, but it’s the accompanying photo that seals the laughter deal.

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 6.40.42 AMOne major theme is opposition to Postmodern/Progressive Christianity.  As an orthodox Reformed Christian (i.e., when I vowed as an Elder to be guided by the historic Confessions I knew what they teach and meant it) living in the PCUSA I can’t avoid being regularly smacked upside the head with this theological perspective.  So, when the Bee goes after the ensuing doctrinal and organizational insanity I fully admit to taking (guilty?) pleasure in the results.

An alleged draft of the creed, which was leaked to the press Thursday morning, reads as follows:

“The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in our feels, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from our feels: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by the Scriptures, church history, or theologians.”

“Thus, things that make us feel bad, those are wrong. The things that give us all the happy feels, those are true, right, and good.”

“At least, that’s how we feel at the moment, I feel,” she noted.

Satire Gold!

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 9.44.42 AMAnd, lest you assume that these Bees live in a ideological bubble-hive, I give you this “article” about then candidate Donald Trump.

“‘Has-Been Bible’ says I’m not a Christian, but that is a lie, folks. I am a tremendous Christian—the very best,” Trump assured the nation. “These numerous verses from the Bible—which, by the way, doesn’t even have the courage to address me by name—but these verses that try to paint me as somehow un-Christian, they’re ridiculous and false, and it’s pathetic, really. It’s sad!”

Pressed for comment, the Holy Bible released a one-sentence statement: “You will know them by their fruits.”

But wait!  There’s more…it turns out that the Babylon Bee has waded into the doctrinal debate on salvation.  Can that possibly be funny?  Stay tuned.

The Christian Church in Revolutionary Times (7)

jesus_before_pilateJesus Christ on Politics (3)

Another indisputable political incident occurs when Jesus is brought before the Roman governor, Pilate.  The politics played between the Jewish leaders and Pilate is overt.  The Jewish leaders need Pilate’s authority to execute Jesus, so they seek to  influence Pilate to achieve this end.

As we will see, though the charges against Jesus are secular (i.e., treason), He refuses this frame of reference.  Regardless, Pilate had to make his decision within the constraints of power politics as they existed at that time and place.  It’s impossible to know if Pilate sensed the enormous spiritual forces at play within this event.  Other Gospel accounts appear to suggest that he did (see Luke 23:13-25).  In any case, it wasn’t Pilate who was in control, but rather the inexorable, omnipotent providential acts of God.  Following is the encounter as described in John 18:28-40 (NIV).

28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”

30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

This is an odd reply.  It’s as if they don’t want to state their charge against Jesus.

31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”

“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Clearly the charge against Christ was the treasonous claim to be the king of the Jews, which was a direct rejection of Roman rule.

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

Jesus doesn’t answer the question.

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Note that throughout the entire discussion Jesus hasn’t directly answered Pilate’s question.  The reason why has to do with the issue of “Truth.”  Jesus was accused of claiming to be the “king of the Jews.”  He was not.  Rather, He was claiming to be (and in reality is) the savior of all mankind — Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free.  Thus He could not in truth accept the charge.

However, Jesus also refused to explicitly reject the charge, because this was the worldly means by which the spiritual end of atoning for our sins would be achieved.  Jesus didn’t want to be acquitted.  After all, Jesus Christ is the Second Person in the Trinitarian Godhead, and, God had determined this event before the creation of the world.

So, by refusing to explicitly accept or reject the charge against Him Jesus was upholding the Truth while ensuring that His plan for salvation would proceed.

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

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Here we may see in this sophisticated Roman politician a sort of proto-postmodernism.  There is no way to know if Pilate asked this question honestly, ironically or contemptuously.  Regardless, Pilate was taking the position that the “Truth” is something uncertain, and therefore, up for grabs  in this world.

there-is-no-truth-there-is-only-perception-6Almost two-thousand years later the real postmodernists would take the logical next step.  When postmodern Christians confront Christ today, their response has to do with truth, but it is not in the form of a question.

With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

That which had been predestined to come to pass had no option other than to occur.

The “politics” in which Jesus Christ engaged were infinite, eternal and providential in nature.  But this fact doesn’t disconnect our Christian lives from secular, political responsibilities.  Rather, it enlightens, informs and guides our deliberations as we navigate the challenges of this fallen world.  But this guidance can only be Christian if we acknowledge that there is an ultimate, unchangeable Truth and that it exists only in the Triune Christian God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This statement in no way denies that wisdom can be found outside of Christian sources. Nor does it denigrate the individual worth of any human being.  All it does is to acknowledge that we are Christians because Jesus Christ is indeed our Lord and Savior.

The PCUSA Elite Today (7)

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The Progressive Jesus Created Out of Whole Cloth by Our PCUSA Leadership

How to Respond?

I have been researching the beliefs and actions of our PCUSA leadership for over three years now.  I have also had direct experience based on my three year term as a Presbytery Commissioner.  That’s a total of almost seven years, spanning 2011 through 2018.  What has occurred over that time and how should we respond?

Since 2011 the PCUSA lost well over one-million members (1,070,777) and gained far less than a half-million (469,739).  That amounts to a net loss of over 600,000 Christians.  Over the same time period over 1,200 churches have exited the denomination or ceased to exist.  These cold statistics point to the devastation of human relationships and to the destruction of a once vibrant community of Christian faith.  These are people and churches who have given up on the PCUSA as a Christian home.  Their tragic testimony is utterly ignored, but the consequences exist regardless.

And what of those of us that choose to remain in the PCUSA who worship our Savior Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scriptures and interpreted by our historic Confessions?  We are a shrinking minority who are expected to either bow down to the false progressive god or to silently suffer humiliation as supposed racists, homophobes, you name it or to get out already.

But there is another choice.  We need not bow to their false god or slink around in humiliating silence or get out.  No, regardless of our declining numbers or receding power we can yet trust that “if God is for us then who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31b).  The elite leaders of the PCUSA have not one-tenthousandth the power of the ancient Roman Empire or the current People’s Republic of China.  It thus should not require super-human faith or courage to stand up to them.  And yet we fail to do so.

PCUSA-I-Don't-Know-This-ManIts time to start confronting these self-presumed theological, intellectual and moral betters.  We should demand that they answer for their reign of denominational destruction.  Why do they ordain atheists and reward heretics?  How do they justify denying the Christian God?  How do they explain the virtually perfect correspondence between their Christian “social justice” positions and those of the secular Progressive political movement?  How do they explain the direct contradiction between Christ’s definition of marriage and their policy on Christian marriage?  Why do they continue to feign allegiance to our historic Confessions while utterly ignoring them?  Why do they exclude Scripture’s testimony? Why do they have a boutique ideologically-tainted “theology” for every identity group and progressive political position? How do they know that Jesus Christ would support each and every position of a godless secular political organization? Why do they reject Biblical truth but demand that we submit to their admitted arbitrary human “truths”? Why do they make a mockery of their ordination vows and teach others to do the same? Why do they deny Biblical sin but embrace the concept of secular ideological sin?  By what right do they pretend to a moral superiority that their actions show to be utterly unwarranted?

To sum up all of the above apostasy, dishonesty and destruction, why do they pretend to be pious, orthodox Christian leaders?  If this seems extreme then you are living in a state of denial.  For, if a PCUSA member can get through the above material (which only scratches the surface) and still trust that our leadership has the slightest loyalty to orthodox Reformed Christianity then the only option is denial.

The fact that the Rev. Kershner so openly rejected the Christian God suggests that she believes the denomination to now be comprised only of supporters or deniers.  Thus she brazenly made her statement in the sure knowledge that no one in Fourth Presbyterian, the Presbyrery, Synod or General Assembly would rise to object.  And, that silence would allow her to go on pretending to be a pious, orthodox Christian pastor doing her level best to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I single her out not because her’s is an extreme case, but rather because she is a contemporary and unmistakable representative of our denominational leadership.

Well, I object, and will not silently accept any of this.  I don’t care if no one or thousands join me.  My responsibility lies in being true to what Jesus Christ has done.

I understand that each of us has only so much time, energy, knowledge and skills.  I contribute in what I believe to be the best use of the gifts that God has given me.  Others will choose to contribute in their own ways.  But the point is that we are called to testify to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as God has given us the specific gifts to so do.  If we, each in our own way and time, choose to stand on that holy ground then we can remain in the PCUSA without shame or fear.  And, by God’s providential power we will make a difference even if we don’t see it in our lifetimes.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 11:39 – 12:3 (NIV)