How fitting that R.C. Sproul’s lovely article on the Pelagian Captivity of the Church appears this month on the White Horse Inn website. This message that Sproul presents is a mandatory read for all who wonder about the status of our Reformed faith in today’s world. Sproul spells out exactly what has infected this era-the same thing that has always infected the church-the devaluation of the Grace of God and the promotion of the personal ability of man. Even during the dark days of Reformation the Romanists and the Reformers could agree on at least one doctrine-that of Original Sin. We find our church today infiltrated by the disciples of Pelagius who seek to elevate the person to a status that we neither deserve to attain nor are we able to receive without the purposeful sacrifice of the lamb on Calvary and deny the worthiness of Christ’s sacrifice by tossing the need for the sacrifice out the window. If we could be saved by perfect obedience to the law there is no need for the sacrifice. If we can work off our own death what is the need for the atonement?
This is a letter to the editor in the Johnson City Press (My Great-Grandmother’s hometown) from a PC(USA) minister. I noticed it first when I read the newspaper in the August 20th edition. I did not pay it much mind until I found it on the Pastor’s own blog. Now paint me as a reactionary but is this not openly flouting the Book of Order and directives of the PJC and General Assembly?
“I have been honored to officiate at holy unions for gay and lesbian couples that I believe are as holy and blessed as any of the marriages I have performed for straight couples. I serve a congregation that welcomes and loves gay and lesbian people, their partners and families, and regards them as full and equal members.
I will be voting against this amendment in November. Regardless of what happens with this legislation, it is even more important that sexual minorities in this area know that you do not have to choose between your faith and who you are. There are congregations here that are open and affirming. I am proud to serve one of them.”
First Presbyterian Church
I received this e-mail tonight-not sure why-about the situation at Kirk of The Hills.
*ALERT* to all Kirk Members
Our clerk of our board of elders just played a message on her answering machine from Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery. They have informed her that the presbytery is sending a supply pastor to preach tomorrow, and a someone else to moderate the congregational meeting on Wednesday.
This has happened before, a part of the “game plan” of the PCUSA. The link that follows has pictures and a video of what happened in a Torrance, California, church a little over a year ago. The denomination came in and pushed their way into the pulpit, creating chaos for a brief moment in worship. We will not allow that to happen.
The PCUSA believes only what they wish to. They recognize that Wayne and I resigned from the denomination, but they refuse to recognize that the Kirk has also withdrawn and, in the process, re-hired us as co-pastors. They are coming to “rescue” a church that doesn’t want it.
Wayne and I will be in the pulput tomorrow. This step on the part of the presbytery, since we are no longer a PCUSA church, is intrusive, arrogant, and illegal.
A LAST-MINUTE ADDITION,
I just read the following letter from a PCUSA pastor (retired) writing Presbyweb. Ed is a good guy, and I appreciate the heads-up.
August 26, 2006
I have just gotten off the phone with someone who had been in conversation with Synod personnel regarding the withdrawal of Kirk of the Hills. He was telling me how the Synod and Presbytery planned to use denominational lawyers to fight The Kirk “tooth and toe nail” for the church property.
Then I read Vernon Broyles piece “The bottom line for peace.” It reminded me of what my old dad used to tell me: “Son, do what I say. Don’t do what I do.”
I watch and wonder… can we, will we, treat our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ who disagree with us with the same command of Jesus to turn the other cheek? To love? To forgive? Or is what we profess we want for the warring parties of the Middle East unavailable for Christian friends who feel led to go in another direction? Will the PCUSA demonstrate grace and forgiveness by turning the other cheek?
I doubt I’ll live that long!
Rev. Dr. Edwin [Ed] Bernard, HR
Keep praying–keep the faith,
This Prayer Request #3 is for discerment. As most of you know I am a seminarian and am an inquirer in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). As all of you who are aquainted with this denomination understand these are tumultuous times that require vigilance, study, and most importantly fervent prayer. While the seminary I attend is not overly theologically liberal it does have on its staff two men out in the forefront of the fight we find ourselves in: The Rev. Dr. Andrew Purves and Dr. Robert A.J. Gagnon. I find myself standing in the wilderness tearing my cloak as I stand full of anxiety, passion, and uncertainty. II ask for prayers of discerment as I begin to near Ordination as to the path in which God has chosen for me. In God there is hope. In God there is foundation. To God Be the Glory. Amen.
I was reading the Book of Jonah for an Adult Bible Study that I lead on Wednesday nights. We all know what happens in the first two chapters but what struck me the most was what happens in Chapter 4 and its relation to our current situation. Jonah when called a second-time goes forth to Ninevah so that they who are wicked and evil may REPENT and submit to the mercy and power of the Lord of Israel. If they do not then God will destroy them. Jonah being a good Israelite looks forward to their destruction at the hands of his Lord. What happens? A befuddled Jonah sits on a hill looking on as the Ninevites REPENT even their king commands them to bow down at the foot of the Israelite God. God then relents and grants mercy to the Ninevites and allows them to live. Jonah is beside himself with anger. He cries to the Lord that he knew the Lord was a lord of mercy and it angers him that God chose to show mercy to the gentile Ninevites. Look at what God says:
4The LORD said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”5Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. 6 So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. 7 But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered.8 When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.”9Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.” 10 Then the LORD said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight.11“Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”
What really strikes me is that are anyone of us willing to go to Louisville and preach the word of God or will we like Jonah and run off to Tarshish? I believe that we are being called by the Lord our God to stand up and say to Louisville the same words that Jonah preached to the Ninevites so that they may REPENT of their evilness and wickedness. Who among us will go and be a prophet to the Ninevites, who will be the Jonah of our time? Who shall lead the wicked to Christ? Who shall go and preach the Word of Mercy upon those that REPENT? For we all know the fate of the cities that denied the cries of the man of God Lot. We know of other cities that have had the same fate befall them. Ultimately it is up to the Lord our God to decide on whom he will show mercy. But for their sake let us hope and pray Louisville takes the path of the Ninevites and learns from the death of the twin cities Sodom and Gomorrah so that the Lord may show mercy upon them. Amen.
ACLU wants parish to forget cross
Katrina memorial bears Jesus’ face
Sunday, August 06, 2006
By Karen Turni Bazile
Alarmed by newspaper reports that a hurricane memorial in St. Bernard Parish will feature a cross bearing a likeness of the face of Jesus, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana is reminding parish officials of the Constitution’s separation of church and state.
Never one to back down, Parish President Henry “Junior” Rodriguez has a simple reply: “They can kiss my ***.”
In a July 28 letter to Rodriguez and other officials, Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Joe Cook said that the government promotion of a patently religious symbol on a public waterway is a violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment, which prohibits government from advancing a religion.
Rodriguez did not say whether he has responded to Cook’s letter, but in an interview, he said he sees nothing improper about the memorial, which will be mounted near the shoreline of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet at Shell Beach. The cross and accompanying monument listing the names of the 129 parish residents who died in Hurricane Katrina are earmarked for what the parish says is private land and are being financed with donations, Rodriguez said.
Nonetheless, Cook asked the parish to erect a religiously neutral symbol and also voiced concern that the Parish Council was sanctioning a religious monument.
Returning Rodriguez’s volley, Cook added, “It would be better if he would kiss the Constitution and honor it and honor the First Amendment.”
The St. Bernard Parish Council voted several months ago to erect a monument, but at the time did not offer specific plans. The parish recently announced plans to dedicate the memorial on Aug. 29, the one-year anniversary of the devastating hurricane.
The cross is being designed and fabricated by Vincent LaBruzzo, a welder and fabricator from Arabi. The stainless-steel cross will be 13 feet tall and 7 feet wide and will be lighted, according to a note on the parish’s Web site, www.sbpg.net
LaBruzzo worked for the parish before recently taking a job with Unified Recovery Group, the company clearing the parish’s storm debris. Rodriguez said he helped LaBruzzo get the job with URG. LaBruzzo did not return phone messages seeking comment.
Rodriguez and others like the idea of putting the monument along the banks of the MRGO, because that waterway, dug by the federal government as a shipping shortcut in the 1960s, is widely blamed in the parish for accelerating the deadly flooding that accompanied Katrina. Over the years erosion has widened the outlet, so the bank on which the cross will be erected is on privately owned land, Rodriguez said. He added that the parish is researching who owns the land on which the stone monument bearing the names of the victims will sit, but he thinks that it is also privately owned.
Parish Councilman Tony “Ricky” Melerine and Charlie Reppel, Rodriguez’s chief of staff, said they are co-chairing the memorial committee on their private time.
“The memorial is being coordinated by a group of volunteers on their own time, and no public money is going to the project that will be on private land,” Reppel said. “The committee members are all volunteers, including me. We are putting in a lot of unpaid overtime.”
Other committee members include St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Anthony Fernandez Jr.; St. Bernard Tourism Director Elizabeth “Gidget” McDougall; former Parish President Charles Ponstein, who is working with a state agency on local business retention; Lorrie Allen, Reppel’s assistant; and LaBruzzo.
As for the parish’s statements that the memorial is being done outside government’s auspices, Cook seems unconvinced.
While the ACLU thinks a memorial to the storm and its victims is “clearly appropriate,” Cook said, St. Bernard’s is “still all very questionable. I think there is official government involvement with the endorsement and advancement of this clearly religious symbol.”
New Orleans Times-Picayune