Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Is it possible to be an Texan and a Christian?

(3rd Excerpt from original posting on Theology of Nuance on October 15, 2006 and a precursor for Diversity Around the Table of the Last Supper)

I encourage anyone interested in this subject to download and listen to this sermon from Dr. Thomas Robinson of the Manhattan New York Church of Christ. Just click on this paragraph and you will directed to the MP3 of the lesson. Pay particular attention to the sermon at 11:15 through 15:00 minutes into the sermon. If you are from a CoC background you will be challenged greatly by Dr. Robinson's sermon. However, I have studied the passages that he references, and I am confident that his context for the passages are correct. In other words I do agree with his interpretation of the scriptures.

There are many possibilities for who we might be, by carnal standards.
We may even wear these labels with pride.

I could be:
1) A Disciple of Jesus (Christian)
2) A Democrat
3) An Arab
4) A Woman
5) A Parent
6) A Man
7) An American
8) A Hunter
9) A Texan
10) Pro-labor (Union)
11) Pro-businessDemocrat who is not honoring Jesus' mission, to seek and save the lost.Republican who is not serving Christ's purpose to seek & save the lost.
12) An environmentalist
13) Caucasian (White)
14) Animal Rights Activists
15) Progressive
16) A Seminole (Tribe)
17) A Warrior
18) Conservative
19) A Sooner (OU)
20) A Cowboy (OSU)
Are any of these sinful? If you answered "yes" you are correct. If you answered "no" you, too, are correct.
In fact, none of these are sinful, when correctly placed in priority. But, all of these, except the first, may be sinful, if they supplant the first by even one place.

The world, i.e. the carnal conventions outside the Church, "must" make judgments in order to know who is accepted and who is rejected.

It is a "natural selection" thing. This is a Charles Darwin phrase, please don't reject it just because it was described by Darwin. It is valid to the carnal/natural.

If labels are not applied, any and all are, by default, accepted into the tribe or camp. The tribe and clan is threatened if there are no physically discernable ways to keep out of the camp, those who have no kinship, and vested interest in protecting the members of the camp.

Jesus however, changed the rules for all time. As a means of exclusion, the labels began to disolve, even while Christ taught only to the descendants of Israel. Look at this exchange between Jesus and a "gentile" woman. This may be a very harsh answer to her, or it could be a very harsh example of faith to the descendants of Abraham. Which is it? Let me say this, God/Jesus doesn't need to know if the poor woman had great faith. The creator knows her heart. However, those disciples with Jesus did not know her heart. Did they? The teachers of the Law did not know her heart either. In point of fact, she may not have fully known her own heart, until God provided her with the opportunity (a.k.a. "test") to exercise her faith.

  • 25 Right away a woman came to him whose little girl was possessed by an evil spirit. She had heard about Jesus, and now she came and fell at his feet.

  • 26 She begged him to release her child from the demon’s control.
    Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia,

  • 27 Jesus told her, “First I should help my own family, the Jews.* It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

  • 28 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are given some crumbs from the children’s plates.”

  • 29 “Good answer!” he said. “And because you have answered so well, I have healed your daughter.”

  • 30 And when she arrived home, her little girl was lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone.

By the original plan of God, it was His purpose to have Israel as a light to the nations. It was Jesus who finally fulfilled the ultimate plan for the nation of Israel. Read Isaiah 49 and see for yourself. The exclusionary rule, which comes from the the carnal law of natural selection, was being banished by the Holy One, long before the resurrection of Christ.

  • 5 And now the Lord speaks—he who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring his people of Israel back to him. The Lord has honored me, and my God has given me strength.

  • 6 He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

  • 7 The Lord, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the one who is despised and rejected by a nation, to the one who is the servant of rulers: “Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will bow low because the Lord has chosen you. He, the faithful Lord, the Holy One of Israel, chooses you.”

The labels that we live under, by our own choosing, are not bad, unless we allow those labels to push Jesus' plan of bringing "light to the nations", into second or third place.

  • Each "thing" that I am, that I perceive in my own mind, affects how I act and respond to others.

  • Each "thing" that I am to others, that they perceive in their minds, affects how they respond to me.

Matthew 10:37 "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;…"

  • Is it really possible that being "Pro-life" can be a sin?

  • If so, how?

  • And if so, how can we keep from walking or even running into our adversary’s trap?
    The questions are valid.

If Jesus was being honest in Mt. 10:37, that loving your parents & kids is bad (evil/sinful) when placed in the wrong order of priority, then Satan’s potential armaments are as varied as there are things & ideologies in the universe. Because we can see that anything and everything in this world has the potential to be a weapon wielded by the evil one, against the Way of Jesus (The Church.)

So, let us be clear.

1. Being "Republican" can be evil. If or When it pushes people away from "God"
2. Being an "English Speaker" can be evil. If or When it pushes people away from "Jesus"

3. Being a "member of a specific church" can be evil. If or When it pushes people away from "the Father" (THIS ONE SHOULD RAISE QUESTIONS, PLEASE ASK IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION.)

4. Being "American" can be evil. If or When it pushes people away from "the Holy Spirit"

5. Being an "Environmentalist" can be evil. If or When it pushes people away from "the Lamb of God"
6. Being "Pro-life" can be evil. If or When it pushes people away from "the Holy One"

7. Being "Democrat" can be evil. If or When it pushes people away from "I AM"

When any of these detract from Christ, they are Satan’s weapons against "the Bride of Christ," which is the Church

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.

(To Be Continued)

God bless,


p.s. Did you notice that I was intentionally provocative with the title for this post. We need to guard against following the apostle, Nathaniel's, example, which is found in John 1:46;

“Texas!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from there?”.

Nathaniel didn't really say Texas, I think it was more localized and specific. Maybe it was Austin.


S. Starr said...

I am in full agreement with what you have said here- but with a couple of qualifications. You have said:

"But, all of these, except the first(Disciple of Jesus- Christian), may be sinful, if they supplant the first by even one place."

I would humbly submit that the identifier "Christian" is not exempted from the dynamic and/or law of which you write. The badge "Christian" can also be worn in such a way that it actually drives people away from the Truth and supremacy of God. Nowadays most people have at least some understanding of what the word "fundamenatalist' means in its negative connotation. I have never met a person that did not know what "self righteous" or "Holier than thou" meant. I am pretty sure that I have been called those things at least a few times myself. Then of course there is the not so endearing term "Bible Thumper". The point is that even the distinction "I am a Christian" can put barriers between fellow men. The title "Christian" is no less sucseptible to "us and them" or "We/they" thoughts and attitudes.
In fact religion, even Christianity, can be one of the most divisive of all institutions or endeavors of men. I have struggled with this for a good portion of my own life. For many years I was just fine, at least I thought so, with Christian faith- other than the fact that I could not stand to be in the same room with the majority of Christian people I met.

"Evagelicals" by the very nature of the meaning of the root word evangelize are often not very good listeners. Neither are they generally known for being good at self criticism or analysis or handling criticism from others. Neither are Christians generally known for the the ability or inclination to look objectively at current trends in the collective Church. I would go as far as to say that Christians are often their own worst enemies. I have written much in this blog about these principles including recent posts entitled "When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs" and "American Fascists.

Concordantly, I also understand that the Bible itself can be made an idol of. I agree with A.W. Tozer who wrote:
"Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the Living God. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence."

I hate to belabor the point,... but my heritage as an Americcan Indian has helped me see these faults in "Christendom".

Having said all this... I too beleive that when selfless Christian discipleship in its right and true form is sought and practiced it can't co-exist with sin. However, Christians are still sinners because none but Christ are/were sinless. Christians are humans and thus are as susceptible as any to the root sin and hubris of pride. The battle with pride is never over. I myself am a living reminder of that.

S. Starr said...

I also want to stress that I believe you are on the money in saying that keeping these identifiers we humans use in their proper perspectives is key.

Being a Christian/Texan or a Christian/______ is no more wrong than being a Christian/Father or mother, Christian/husband or wife, Christian/brother,sister,nephew,niece,daughter,
granddaughter, grandson, friend, business associate... ad infinitum. These things can never be mutually exclusive. Being Christian cannot mean withdrawal from the roles we play in family or community. As you have rightfully noted... we are to keep these roles in their proper place and perspective.

Blessings upon thee.

D.S. Martin said...

Yes, there is no doubt that "Christian" has become a very proud classification for many people; particularly Americans. And as "Proud Christians", we defile the name we bear.

Christ was never proud PERIOD

Attitude can defile any good gift. Attitude can honor all good gifts. Human free-will is to either defile with pride or honor with humility.

These issues seem to hinge on the Power of Pride, to use a bumper sticker cliché. The power of pride happens to be, sin and death. The Power of Humility happens to be, glory and life.

We seem to agree on all points, even the caveats.

You know also, my opinion of religion of any stripe. Religion is carnal, therefore it is prone to corruption. Religion is ritual, without heart necessarily. Religion is not evil, but evil is just one small step away.

With small steps to evil, such as these, humanity tends to go one hundred steps past the DMZ between holiness and heartlessness.

His blessings back at you.

S. Starr said...

You said:

"These issues seem to hinge on the Power of Pride, to use a bumper sticker cliché. The power of pride happens to be, sin and death. The Power of Humility happens to be, glory and life."

I say:

Very nice conclusion. I'd add that to the lesson if I were you.

D.S. Martin said...

I think that we both did add it to the lesson.

God bless,