Friday, August 24, 2007

Diversity Around the Table of the Last Supper

(Excerpt from original posting on Theology of Nuance on October 15, 2006)

Last Supper

Our historical context hides the carnal biases and fools us into giving our hearts to these benign or even noble clubs and causes. Even when we recognize the potential for harm, we often have trouble tempering our desire (lust) for the thing or ideal with which we’ve identified.
Sports fanaticism may become "religion" for which we may spiritually harm our fellow man.

Governmental Political zeal may become "religion" as well, as we condemn those with whom we disagree, and thus harm our ability to reveal Jesus’ love, hope, and healing to these souls still held captive by our Lord’s adversary.

A single issue may become our "religion" and overtake our "faith", as priority and focus.
1. Pro-life
2. Democracy
3. Freedom of Speech
4. Equality
5. Freedom of Religion
6. Right to privacy
7. Right to keep & bear arms
8. Right to Own Property
9. Liberty
10. Right to Pray

All of these and dozens, if not thousands, of other issues are offered to us by the world, or more accurately, the devil, to encourage us as "Ambassadors of Christ" to give up our purpose/focus and instead physically or intellectually fight our fellow man for an issue, instead of Spiritually fighting the adversary (satan) for the captured and lost soul of our fellow man.
["The meaning of life, is to Glorify Jesus…" "But how?" We should consider this question, because it helps us to focus our energy on the same goal that our Heavenly Father has.]

Should the purpose/focus of the Church be diverted by these various issues, which are only symptoms of our fallen world?

What happened when the Apostle Peter lost his focus on Jesus?

What happened to Field Marshal Rommel’s forces when Gen. Patton, in WWII, was able to divert Nazi Germany’s focus to Pas-de-Calais in Northern France?

Did Christ come to make this lost world more moral, just, kind, generous, equal, peaceful, progressive, conservative, environmentally sustainable?

Are we to condemn "Western Powers" for CO2 emissions?

Are we to condemn the world for abortion?

Are we to condemn the USA for the Middle East war?

Should we condemn the USA for not "helping" Israel more?

Are we to condemn the Democrat Party for weakening America’s defense status?

Are we to condemn the Republican Party for bloodthirsty war mongering?

Are we to condemn the Mass Media for distorting the "truth"?

Are we to condemn the Hezbullah for attacking Israel?

Are we to condemn Israel for attacking Hezbollah?

Should we be diverted to condemn immorality in the media, culture, USA, hip hop/rap music, Hollywood, (all of which are a.k.a. the World)?

What purpose did Jesus give for coming into the World?

Was he vague?

Was it for condemnation? Do we condemn?

Or do we serve and save?
1. Condemnation and salvation are not the same.
2. Condemnation is not a service.
3. Condemnation is not a mission.
4. Condemnation is not noble.
5. Condemnation glorifies satan (the accuser), not Jesus (the Savior).
6. Condemnation is not Jesus' "Great Commission" to His Wife (the Church.) Mt. 28:18-20

God bless,


p.s. The painting at the top of this post depicts the last supper. Any idea how many divergent politcal views sat around this table? Yet, these men were focused on one thing..., the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ made them all political allies with only one special interest, saving their fellow man's eternal soul. Maybe, this should tell us something, too.


S. Starr said...

I agree with what is written here in totality. DSM, knows that I do.
I would only offer one qualification. I believe there is a distinction between condemantion or judging your fellow man and addressing sin. Any teaching or preaching that at some point does not acknowledge, address and/or point out and rebuke sin or injustice is not Gospel teaching or preaching and it is separated from the fullness of the mission of the Church. As the Church, we have the mandate to address and instruct about sin and injustice and the mangling of truth, but nowhere are we authorized to condemn or judge. Condemnation is when one tells another that they are worthless, that they are not loved by God and that they will surely go to Hell. Humans are given discernment with regards to right and wrong. They are even authorized to enact justice in God's stead through societal institutions. However, men are never given the power or authority to hate in God's name or to render final judgment of the soul.

S. Starr said...

I went to bed late last night with the issues raised in DSM's post and my response to it ringing in my head. One might say that it reverberated there all night rippling through my sleep. When I awoke these things were still pulsing through my thoughts. I remembered a passage I had read in a book I have entitled "The Violence of Love" which is a collection of sermons by Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador who was eventually felled by an assassin's bullets. Read about who Oscar Romero was HERE

In the following sermonette Romero confronted what I believe to be the distinction between condemnation and preaching to sin:

A PREACHING THAT DOES NOT POINT OUT SIN is not the preaching of the gospel. A preaching that makes sinners feel good, so that they are secured in their sinful state, betrays the gospel's call. A preaching that does not discomfit sinners but lulls them in their sin leaves Zebulun and Naphtali in the shadow of death. A preaching that awakens, a preaching that enlightens- as when the light is turned on awakens and of course annoys the sleeper- that is the preaching of Chris, calling WAKE UP! Be converted! That is the Church's authentic preaching. Naturally, such preaching must meet conflict, nust spoilwhat is miscalled prestige, must disturb, must be persecuted. It cannot get along with the powwers of darkness and sin."—(Jan. 22, 1978)

Here are more salient quotes on this from brother Romero:

"TO TRY TO PREACH without referring to the history one preaches in is not to preach the gospel. Many would like a preaching so spiritualistic that it leaves sinners unbothered and does not term idolaters those who kneel before money and power. A preaching that says nothing of the sinful environment in which the gospel is reflected upon is not the gospel"—(Feb. 18, 1979).

THE CHURCH, IN ITS ZEAL TO CONVERT to the gospel, is seeing that its place is by the side of the poor, of the outraged, of the rejected, and that in their names it too must speak out and demand their rights. But many persons belonging to the upper classes and feeling as if they own the church, think that the church is abandoning them and slipping away from its spiritual mission. It no longer preaches what is spiritual, it only preaches politics. It's not that. The church is pointing out sin, and society must listen to that accusation and be converted and so become what God wants"—(July 8,1979).

"THIS IS THE MISSION ENTRUSTED TO the church, a hard mission: to uproot sins from history, to uproot sins from the political order, to uproot sins from the economy, to uproot sins wherever they are"—(Jan. 15, 1978).

"THE CHURCH IS OBLIGED by its evangelical mission to demand structural changes that favor the reign of God and a more just and comradely way of life. Unjust social structures are the roots of all violence and disturbances. How hard and conflicting are the results of evangelical duty! Those who benefit from obsolete structures react selfishly to any kind of change"—(Nov. 1979).

"THE CHURCH CAN BE CHURCH only as long as it goes on being the Body of Christ. Its mission will be authentic only so long as it is the mission of Jesus in the new situations, the new circumstances of history. The criterion that will guide the church will be neither the approval of, nor the fear of, men and women, no matter how powerful or threatening they may be. It is the church's duty in history to lend its voice to Christ so that he may speak, its feet so that he may walk today's world, its hands to build the reign of God . . . "—(Aug. 6, 1977).

"THE CHURCH, LIKE JESUS, HAS TO GO on denouncing sin in our own day. It has to denounce the selfishness that is hidden in everyone's heart, the sin that dehumanizes persons, destroys families, and turns money, possessions, profit, and power into the ultimate ends for which persons strive. And, like everyone who has the smallest degree of foresight, the slightest capacity for analysis, the church has also to denounce what has rightly been called 'structural sin:' those social, economic, cultural, and political structures that effectively drive the majority of our people onto the margins of society. When the church hears the cry of the op. pressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises"—(Aug. 6, 1977).

"WHAT STARTS CONFLICTS AND PERSECUTIONS, what marks the genuine church, is when the word, burning like the word of the prophets, proclaims to the people and accuses: proclaims God's wonders to be believed and venerated, and accuses of sin those who oppose God's reign, so that they may tear that sin out of their hearts, out of their societies, out of their laws—out of the structures that oppress, that imprison, that violate the rights of God and of humanity . . . God's Spirit goes with the prophet, with the preacher, for He is Christ, who keeps on proclaiming God's reign to the people of all times"—(Dec. 10, 1977).

The brand of preaching that Brother Romero employed is known as liberation theology. It is not at all surprising that this expression of theology was violently opposed by the power structures of this world and even the institution of the Catholic church. It was denounced as part and parcel to liberalism and communism- I believe erroneously so. These are the reasons that Oscar Romero was slain...just as his Savior was slain and for the same reasons.

Again, I would define condemnation as not when one confronts sin- but when one suggests or insists that any sinner is outside of the reach of God's grace. Condemnation is when one speaks for God outside of the teachings of the Gospels- outside of love- outside of the scriptural definitions of what consitutes sin. Condemnation is not motivated by love...even the love of an enemy.

Having said all this... I have often been guilty of condemnation...even here in this blog. One reason my friend DSM has been invited and authorized here is to help me address and confront and guard against my own sins along these lines. Again, I believe that when one is in right relationship with God and fellow man- proper discernment on these things will ensue. What sayeth thee?

S. Starr said...

Another thought...

The question might be raised, "Who gets to determine what sin is- what is sinful?"

How can one deem what is sin or sinful without exercising judgment?

I believe that the Bible very clearly outlines what sin is. Those are the guidelines we must use. On top of that men have conscience- a feature installed by God into the very DNA of every human being. We all know what right and wrong is in our heart of hearts. Conscience can be subjective to culture and ideology- true. However, God has spoken to us about sin through the teachings of the prophets and the scriptures and the life of the Christ. Again, a man in right relationship with God who seeks truth cannot be deterrred from spiritual truth even though the process may be arduous.

What sayeth thee?

S. Starr said...

A church that suffers no persecution but enjoys the privileges and support of the things of the earth—beware!—is not the true church of Jesus Christ.
Archbishop Oscar Romero, March 11,1979


Anonymous said...

I don't like parsing a long treatise, such as was my original thesis, because important ideas are lost to the whole, and that is the case with this snigglet posted here.
Nevertheless, I don't disagree with what you and Mr. Romero have said, per se.

Yet, consider this also; Christ was speaking to Believers of I AM when He said "repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand", not to the world at large, not to Rome, and not to the governor of Jerusalem.

Likewise, Paul spoke and wrote to Believers of I AM when he condemned the proverbial 'sin in the camp.
This continues through each author of the New Testament. The Hebrew writer, Peter, Jude, James, John, all were not intending to "reform" the governments of the world or the pagans of the culture. The purpose was a singular one. Keep the body of Christ pure from carnal concerns and lust, so that His sheep would hear the "calling."
This point is made in my full thesis.
We must be very cautious about doing what Paul rebuked the Corinthian Church for doing, in 1Cor. 6. The brothers were putting their carnal desires in play before the secular courts, or courts of public opinion.

Christ is not concerned with having a relatively moral physical creation.
Ask yourself, was He striving to have fewer murders, wars, bar fights, adulterors, teen pregnancies, abortions, gay lounges, etc. etc. ad infinitum?

The world is not holy and cannot be holy!

God is holy and can only be holy!

Ergo, the bride of Christ must be holy and utterly separate from the world.

The Church cannot make the world more holy.

Holiness is an absolute. Either we are holy or we are not.

Christ made us holy, but He could do this because we are not of the world. We can hear the Father and know His call, it came through Jesus the Son.

The world is lost!

We must take the call of Jesus to those others, like we, who hear and recognize the voice of the Father.

If we leave them in 'the world', albeit a more moral (unlikely), we will still be leaving them in a sinking ship.

Again, I know your purpose and we have spoken of this many times in the past. I think that the way that you are exercising your mission honors Christ by showing the "seekers" in the world, what the difference is between the Church and a political religion (aka Christian Right).

Yet, many may not see the difference until it is clearly and graphicly defined, and that is what I hope to provide.

So, again I say God Bless, brother Romero's soul, but much of what he wrote appears to be an attempt to make governments of this world "more holy", which is something other than the Great Commision.

God Bless,

S. Starr said...

I know that you are right. I have often stated that the mission of the Church is not to rule or to fix the world. It is to BE the Church- affecting culture from the roots up by being a living example. I understand, as I assume Brother Romero did, that his words or mine cannot repair the world... but only plant seeds that may grow into ideas or notions that will save individuals or receptive people groupings... the lost.

The distinctions we are both pointing to are in fact essential...Its really too bad that in most cases people to not get a treatment of a topic even as full as this one such as it is.

Please say more. I know you have a very good presentation on this.