In A Mirror Dimly-Response to Series by Bishop Michael Lowry-Part 1

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May 042016
This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Response to Lecture Series by Bishop J. Michael Lowry

United Methodist Bishop, J. Michael Lowry of the Central Texas Conference, recently addressed a gathering of the United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy Conference at Armstrong Chapel United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has put his address, “In a Mirror Dimly: The Future of the United Methodist Church”© on his website as a four part posting.

Bishop J. Michael Lowry, Central Texas Conference, United Methodist Church

Bishop J. Michael Lowry, Central Texas Conference, United Methodist Church

Bishop Lowry seems to argue that the Methodist Church should (or at least, likely will) split over the issue of the inclusion of LGBT people. As you might guess, given that he’s speaking to people who claim to be “orthodox,” that he is, as southerners might say, “agin it.” And of course, that would mean that, while I don’t disagree a split may happen, I don’t agree with his position on the topic at hand. Given that, I’m going to respond to his article/speech taking on each of his parts in corresponding articles here.

In Part 1, Bishop Lowry uses the Isaiah 20:43 verse, ““Look! I’m doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it? I’m making a way in the desert, paths in the wilderness.” to introduce his belief that he is seeing, “the re-emergence of a vibrant orthodoxy in the North American mission field.” Lowry believes the United Methodist Church (UMC) is slowly collapsing, but believes, “The decaying Christendom bureaucracy (which I too, to a very real degree, represent) masks the beginnings of a remarkable rebirth of a healthy Wesleyan Christian Orthodoxy.” Continue reading »

Why the Christian Church May Never Crawl Out of Its Hole

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Jan 182016

In the western world, churches, in particular Christian churches, are showing a general decline in attendance and membership. There’s much hand wringing within those denominations most affected; reports are being prepared, and great plans are being made to try to stem the tide, but I am not yet convinced the people in these organizations have the self-awareness to overcome the trend.

The Facebook response to a recent article I posted in a conservative United Methodist discussion group really brought this home for me, and helped me congeal my thoughts on this subject.

Background Statistics

Stats aren’t all that fun, but I think it is necessary to give some background on what is happening that’s causing this concern. The overall number of people who are religiously affiliated has, according to Pew Research, not changed all that much between 2007 and 2015. ((“U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious,” Pew Research Center, Nov. 3, 2015)) However, according to their most recent “Religious Landscape Study, “A growing share of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, including some who self-identify as atheists or agnostics as well as many who describe their religion as “nothing in particular.” Altogether, the religiously unaffiliated (also called the “nones”) now account for 23% of the adult population, up from 16% in 2007.” ((Ibid))

Continue reading »

The Literal Inerrant Bible

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Jul 222015

As the teacher of an Adult Sunday School for a few years now, I’ve had to do a lot of study, and while I’m not biblical scholar, there is one things I am absolutely certain about…the Bible is not literal nor is it inerrant. There, I said it. It doesn’t mean I don’t respect the Bible as Holy Canon, but it could not be applied to our lives today were it to be taken literally. A video by Mike Huckabee (hereinafter referred to as “the Hukster”) makes that point.

Let’s start with the video (don’t worry, it’s short):

Now let’s look at the verse he’s using here. He quotes from 2 Chronicles 7:14, but I think you have to include verse 13 as well. Here are the verses from the New International Version (NIV): Continue reading »

Coming Out of The Closet in Favor of a Marriage Amendment

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Jul 302012

I just couldn’t resist reposting this. The krazy kristian kooks want to enshrine what they call “biblical” marriage into our Constitution. Well, so long as it goes with their inerant Bible, I’m OK with it. Vote ahead.

A proposed Constitutional Amendment for the U.S. Constitution to preserve historical and biblically based marriage:

A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)
B. Marriage shall not impede a man’s right to take concubines, in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3,8; II Chron 11:21)
C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)
D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)
E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)
F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother’s widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe, and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen. 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)
G. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)

Jesus is Not A Republican

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Jun 252006

Unfortunately, that’s a statement that will piss of a few people. It’s made by Randall Balmer, is a professor of American religious history at Barnard College. In an essay from his book, Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America: An Evangelical’s Lament, Balmer talks about how, “The leaders of the religious right have led their sheep astray from the gospel of Jesus Christ to the false gospel of neoconservative ideology and into the maw of the Republican Party.”

And what has the religious right done with its political influence? Judging by the platform and the policies of the Republican Party ? and I’m aware of no way to disentangle the agenda of the Republican Party from the goals of the religious right ? the purpose of all this grasping for power looks something like this: an expansion of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the continued prosecution of a war in the Middle East that enraged our longtime allies and would not meet even the barest of just-war criteria, and a rejiggering of Social Security, the effect of which, most observers agree, would be to fray the social-safety net for the poorest among us. Public education is very much imperiled by Republican policies, to the evident satisfaction of the religious right, and it seeks to replace science curricula with theology, thereby transforming students into catechumens.

America’s grossly disproportionate consumption of energy continues unabated, prompting demands for oil exploration in environmentally sensitive areas. The Bush administration has jettisoned U.S. participation in the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which called on Americans to make at least a token effort to combat global warming. Corporate interests are treated with the kind of reverence and deference once reserved for the deity.

It’s a great essay which I concourage you to read fully. It makes me want to read the complete book.