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Doug, the best qualification on this issue is being disabled yourself! You can advocate for something without being the writer of the law! You just have to understand the issue in a intimate way. 

posted in: Advocacy Works!

Good post Terry, I share your concerns as a disabled person also. If there were some information or plan in place to support these concerns, I wouldn’t be writing this but there is nothing that I know of to replace what already exists! That does make me wonder what will happen! 

As a disabled person, I too question expertise of advocates and those that throw their opinions out on a subject that they may think they are informed! Until you experience the affects of what a major disability, it’s hard to really understand what we go through! I am still thankful that they try but I pray they really listen to the disabled on the issues that affect them. Unfortunately, there are lay people and experts assuming they know what is best for us! I was guilty of that before becoming disabled. A lot of life has to be experienced to have a real understanding. 

posted in: Advocacy Works!

Syd, I'm really moved by this. What an example of a mustard seed of faith entrusted to a good God who wants to "expand our borders" beyond what we can imagine! 

Over 18 documentary is also being shown in Smithville Christian Highschool, (6488 Townline Road, Smithville Ontario) on  Friday Oct 20 , doors open at 6:30pm, 7pm screening followed by panel discussion and Q&A (cost: by donation).  All welcome.

I would agree that pornography is a "global injustice," as this article suggests.  On the other hand, it is a bit rich for OSJ (which operates Do Justice) to be taking this position.

Let me explain.

Not long ago, and still now but to a lesser extent, there was a great differential in the US political world as to the subject of pornography.  Political liberals (Democrats) considered it a civil liberty, conservatives (Republicans, sans Libertarians) a plague on society that both state and federal governments should restrict by law for the sake of the "common good" as well as for the sake of the good of individuals.

I know because my personal history includes working for and with (Christian) public interest legal groups as to this very issue.

By 2017, the legal battle against pornography has been largely lost by the political conservatives that fought it.  Again, I know because I was there as it happened.  Liberals have won on this issue (on the issue of abortion too, and those issue were legally and politically intertwined).

In the meantime, while this battle was going on, the CRCNA decided to get politically active, and in so doing, to largely align with the "political side" that had regarded pornography as a civil right, not to be regulated by government, and against the political/legal side that fought against pornography.

So here we are.  Complaining that pornography is a "global injustice" (I would add the well worn descriptor, "structural injustice"), but only after the battles are over and the war is lost.

I love your closing sentence, Eric. I have felt guilty for being born white at different times in life. One of the worst was when we were in CRC sensitivity training for a certain board a decade or so ago. We were in a circle of a couple of dozen folks and given grotesque, gruesome photos of black people being hung from trees or being brutally beaten and bloodied. I hated that. I don't condone that. I didn't do that. I could not identify with that. And if some of my forfathers were involved in that I would truly be sickened. But owning that as my sin and being made to feel guilty for that as a person who has committed such evils served no good purpose. I did not choose my race. I choose how I love and respond to others. Thanks again for your insightful response.

Hey Paul, I gave that article a read and perused some of the writer’s other articles as well. I can’t say I agree with everything he writes, especially his incredulity about structural racism, but I think I see what you’re getting at. It shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone who knows how idolatry works that idolatry takes a good thing and makes it a thing to be worshipped. So, if I’m understanding you correctly, are you saying that antiracism is a good thing that can be made into a competitor for our highest loyalties? I agree; lots of things can be competitors for our loyalties (technology, work, sex, money, environmentalism, nationalism, etc), and yet the answer isn’t often to throw those things out, but to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. So, assuming that you believe antiracism is good and is part of the Church’s call, following our Lord who broke down the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles, do you see a problem with educating kids about antiracism? (By antiracism I mean learning to truly value the inherent worth, dignity, and contributions of all people and to work to undo the ways that God-given worth isn’t valued in people of colour.)

The CRC's approach in this arena is nothing less than simply parroting and following the world's conversation.  It is sad to see the divisiveness promoted by denominational employees in the name of reconciliation.  Coates' writing is filled with thinly veiled hatred.  That the CRC's "race relations" director would affirmatively quote Coates from his latest divisive screed (which he has) is a sad commentary on denominational approach to this conversation.  The notion of "race relations" is an incoherent concept in itself, as races can't have relationships - only people have relationships.  Continuously separating the body of Christ into competing groups with lists of grievances is antithetical to the concept of reconciliation.  Removing a persons individuality and personal culpability (or lack thereof) in favor of identity and group politics is the way of the world, not the way of the unified body of Christ.  Would that we would eschew any and all worldly religions (including the religion of antiracism with all of its corrosive effects) in favor of the simplicity of the gospel.  I refuse to be pitted against people I have never met and told to reconcile with people with whom I am not in a state of enmity. 

The proper response to original sin is to embrace the teachings of Jesus, although one will remain always a sinner nevertheless. The proper response to White Privilege is to embrace the teachings of—well, you can fill in the name or substitute others—with the understanding that you will always harbor the Privilege nevertheless. Note that many embrace the idea of inculcating white kids with their responsibility to acknowledge Privilege from as early an age as possible, in sessions starting as early as elementary school. This, in the Naciremian sense, is Sunday school.

Think of it. A certain class of white person, roughly those who watched 30 Rock and Mad Men, lustily pumps their fists at the writings of a Coates who says that he is surprised that white people—i.e. ones like them—are interested enough in black people and racism to even bother reading his work. Coates is telling these people that they are sinners, in a sense, and they are eagerly drinking in the charge, “revering” him for it. This, ladies and gentlemen, is worship, pure and simple.

from http://www.thedailybeast.com/antiracism-our-flawed-new-religion 

I think Art 10 is a bit ambiguous, but if and to the extent it declares that one cannot be Christian if one believes gay sex is good, I disagree with the Nashville Statement.

I think all who so declare are simply wrong, but that some who so declare sin in so declaring.

Ok, since it appears Jon's original post distracts from the main issue, let me re-ask one of the most pressing questions related to the NS. According to Article 10, and the clear clarification by Denny Burk on the CBMW website, He writes, "Readers who perceive Article 10 as a line in the sand have rightly perceived what this declaration is about. Anyone who persistently rejects God’s revelation about sexual holiness and virtue is rejecting Christianity altogether, even if they claim otherwise."

Am I wrong in thinking this says that if you believe differently than the Nashville statement (i.e. God's revelation explained/defined) then you aren't a Christian?  

This piece from The American Conservative may bridge some of the gap where we've been talking past each other.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/is-the-nashville-statement...

You're going with the "they did it too" defense? 

Jonathan: I'd be interested in reading your own Denver like response to the Nashville.  Denver fundamentally disagrees with Nashville as well, and their statement makes clear how.  I appreciate the authors of Denver for doing that.

Kyle: Again you have to explain the statement for lack of the statement saying what you claim.  The Nashville makes no claim to comprehensively opine as to all questions about human sexuality.  Are you supposing they approve of heterosexual adultery because this statement doesn't cover it.  Granted, embezzlement is not sexual but this argument remains silly notwithstanding, and for the same reason.

What I would recommend you do is to put together your own Denver type of statement.  Get together with others, like the Nashville and Denver folk have done, and say what you think.  You can even comprehensively cover all sex related questions if you like, so that no one would accuse you have having a "litmus test"  (although I would defend you if you didn't :-) ).  Seriously, do a Denver style response.  Or align with Denver.  Its easy to tear down, not as easy to build up.  Make your affirmative case so folks can evaluate your position.

By that same logic I can say the authors of the Nashville Statement are barring false witness against LGBT Christians by denying their faith.

If you fundamentally disagree with them, feel free to express that.  What Dan is objecting to is your assigning of the dual motivations of hatred and fear, which you cannot know and which fly in the face of the testimony of the signatories.  I think it's "profoundly damaging to our Christian witness" for you to bear false witness in this manner.  

The Nashville Statement is intended to be a clarification of a Christian view of sexual morality; from the Preamble:

"Therefore, in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we offer the following affirmations and denials."

Consequently all sexual immorality is well within the scope of the statement, unlike homicide, burglary, or embezzlement.

As for the litmus test, I refer back to Denny Burk's blog post about the statement:

"Readers who perceive Article 10 as a line in the sand have rightly perceived what this declaration is about."

CBMW's view is: if you disagree with the statement, you're on the wrong side of the line in the sand. Sure seems like a litmus test to me.

I don't agree with them but I'm not questioning their faith. You're right that I can't read the minds of the signatories, so all I'm left with is their actions as evidence for what they believe. I fundamentally disagree with how they view human sexuality, gender, and God's grace and love.

The 9th Commandment commands us to avoid bearing false witness against out neighbor.

Unless we are able to read the internal motivations of people (i.e. we're mind readers), or the person has explicitly stated their internal motivations, isn't it bearing false witness against them to say they are motivated by fear and hate?

Wouldn't it be better to take them at their word: that they are motivated by faithfulness to Scripture, concern for the integrity of God's design for Family, and love of people who are lost in sinfulness and headed to destruction?

Sorry Kyle but that's a bit of a silly argument.  The Nashville Statement doesn't condemn homicide or burglary or embezzlement either.  It is a statement about less than all of human activity.  Your argument can be used to damn any and all statements, creeds, or confessions.

The words "litmus test for Christian or not" are yours, not the authors or signers of this statement.

Another problem I have with Article 10: it singles out "homosexual immorality or transgenderism" as a litmus test for Christian or not. Why not simply (as they did in other articles) use the phrase "sexual immorality" there?

As I read Article 10, if I believe having an affair is OK, I can still call myself a Christian (albeit a sinful one). On the other hand, if I am undecided about the sinfulness of homosexuality, not only am I sinful, but I'm not a genuine Christian.

Why the discrepancy?

We both agree that, at some point, decisions often need to be made in the interest of actual progress; however, the decision ought to come out of discussion and reflect the church community's discernment. Which raises the question: what was the nature and extent of the conversation that led up to the Nashville Statement?

If I understand you correctly: "hate and fear" is a judgment about someone's internal state, therefore ad hominem?

Whoops. I think my last comment was in response to Jonathan, not Kyle. Sorry about that.

Thanks for your admonition Kyle. I will take that not as a hate statement, but as wise counsel. I never referred to any of the folks in my circles as homosexual or transgender in conversation. I like to to think of them as human beings like anybody else. I do not like these categories that we've created in our society. We are creating division rather than unity. But the men - that's usually who I interact with - will refer to themselves as transgender or in same-sex relationships. So I take it that you promote a double-standard. If the man or woman introduces themselves as transgender or homosexual, that's fine. But if I use the term as they have, then I am being derogatory. Can you explain that too me?  How come when they describe themselves that way, it is fine. But if I honor their description and repeat it, I am sinning, right?

By the way, I have a Christian friend who is supporting his daughter going through her sex-change surgery. She wanted to be referred to as he. Now it's it, but he's not sure when and what he's supposed to call her anymore. She can change by the hour or the day. What is so wonderful and right and healthy about all of that confusion? He had a daughter, now a son, then an it and now he's not sure? How do you counsel him when he asks you for advice? I admire him for loving his daughter so graciously. But even that is derogatory on my part according to you because she doesn't want to be called a daughter now, right?

Virgil,

I'm glad to hear that you are willing to engage with people in the LGBT community. I cannot speak to the interaction you had, but I will say it certainly does not match my experience. I have found the LGBT Christians I have met to be people of deep personal faith, who have spoken to and enriched my own understanding of God's love and grace. As you continue to engage, I would encourage you to avoid referring to people as "a homosexual" or "a transgender". They are people loved by God, no matter how they express their gender and sexuality, and the terms you are using would be taken by many as derogatory.

Article 10 itself references "homosexual immorality and transgenderism" as you say, but by the words of CBMW President Denny Burk himself, they mean far more. "We are declaring what it means to be a male or female image-bearer. We are defining the nature of the marriage covenant and of the sexual holiness and virtue. To get these questions wrong is to walk away from Jesus not to him." I understand Burk to be saying that the meaning of Article 10 is to signal a much broader understanding on human sexuality and gender identity. I take this to mean that even if I agree with their position on LGBT Christians (I don't) but view gender as non-binary, I cannot be a Christian by their standard.

Kyle: I actually think it is fair to say that in some sense Article 10 is a conversation killer, and in a sense, signing on to the Nashville Statement generally is a conversation killer.   But then the CRC statements in the past about these questions are equally conversation killers.  In fact whenever the CRC says something, you can look at that as a conversation killer. 

But there is a sense in which characterizing a stated position, whether the Nashville Statement or any prior CRC statement, as a statement made out of "hate and fear" is a bit different.  It doesn't constitute an argument about the confesssional stance but rather a claim of an internal motivation on the part of of the stance taker, an attempt to convince by ad hominem argument (not by argument against the stance itself) that the stance is a wrong one.

Now you may say that the confessional stance takers who signed on to the Nashville statement are being derogatory (judgmental) to others by stating that people who take other stances or act on them are acting sinfully.  And I understand that, but that level of judgment (and it is judgment) is unavoidable, and not ad hominem.  It may judge an action or perspective negatively, but that judgment results from an argument about the stance itself, rather than from a claim that the motivation of the stance taker is all the proof needed to judge whatever stance the person took.

Kyle, Article 10 references "homosexual immorality and transgenderism" as sin. I hope that Christians can all agree that all immorality is sin. So the question seems to come down to whether one can be a practicing homosexual and not be sinning. Transgenders are another categoty, but my reading is that it is rooted in sin as well. We had a transgender man visit our church a while back. He said he loved it. I took him out to lunch and we talked a long time. He said he liked our theology and friendliness. After attending our worship only once and then going fishing with a couple of us and having lunch with me, he mentioned as I asked how I could pray for him if I would mind if he showed up at church next week dressed as a woman and maybe use the woman's bathroom. I would hope you would have a whole bunch of problems with that with someone who is testing the waters, who would make our woman and children uncomfortable from the beginning, who's "people" have one of the highest suicide rates of any group, who seemed to be very confused and manipulative...it seems to me that you would owe your people as a pastor some protection. I said let's talk about this before we proceed any further. The next day he moved in with a different girl - he's had 3 wives - and texted that he was as happy as he has ever been. There is something very sinful and unstable about his whole demeanor. I was willing to talk with him, counsel him, look at scripture with him, pray with him, but not give him a license to check out the men and women and children at will in the church. I think there is very unsound, unstable thinking that is rooted in sin. So I don't have much problem with article 10. My issue was not fear of this man, but the safety and well-being of others. I offered to be his friend, to do emails and texts and he ended the conversations. I was always loving toward him and never showed any fear or hatred for some of the off-the-wall things he said and that he wanted to do. So please don't label me as a hater and a fearer of those who are homosexual and transgender. Because I have people in my extended circle who are such.

OK, so let's table the term "fear" for a moment. Would you also agree that Article 10 is a conversation killer?

As an aside: there are many names on the Nashville Statement who I like, respect, and read. That's part of why this hurts so deeply for me. I feel betrayed by people I trust, and wonder if they'd question my faith.

I believe "hate and fear" is a way to both label and kill a discussion and not useful for debate. People say things like "You're homophobic" and give you other labels just because they don't like someone disagreeing with them. I have high respect for people like Francis Chan and others who signed that statement. I would never characterize him as a man who promotes or teaches "hate and fear." I think such labeling dies a diservice to a discussion and tries to control or stifle discussion.

To be clear, what Jonathan did was point to a characterization of Article 10 by Denny Burk, the president of CBMW. Given that CBMW created the Nashville Statement, any writings they have on the topic should be treated as more than simple characterization. Just as we treat the Federalist Papers as providing more insight into the intents of the Constitution, rather than as a third party's characterization.

The fear is CBMW's. Packer signed the document. Therefore the he is implicit in the fear, even if it is not something he personally feels.

"Soooo," what?  First, you characterize the statement rather than quoting it, but second, you "sooo" as if Packer's "fear" should be self-evident.  But I still don't see Packer's "fear".

Neither of us may know exactly why he signed, but the fact is he did sign a statement saying Christians who disagree with this position aren't Christians. Soooo...

I glanced at the Denver Statement, while I certainly agree with more of it, I still don't find the point-by-point "Affirm/Deny" structure to be helpful in ministry contexts. It might be helpful in debate club, but that's not what Church is.

JI Packer is one of the signatories.  I really doubt he signed because of his "fear" that "there are alternate, valid interpretations" about this issue.

Rick,

When I say "fear", I mean fear among the signatories that there are alternate, valid interpretations of scripture from what they believe it says. I'm sure they wouldn't describe it as fear, but that's what I believe it is. The clearest thing I can point to (that rises beyond debating semantics) is this post by Denny Burk on the CBMW website. He writes, "Readers who perceive Article 10 as a line in the sand have rightly perceived what this declaration is about. Anyone who persistently rejects God’s revelation about sexual holiness and virtue is rejecting Christianity altogether, even if they claim otherwise."

I agree with Jonathan that although in theory God can choose to make people not-gay, as He can also make them not-schizophrenic or whatever, but in the same way that Jesus did not heal all the sick people in Palestine during His ministry on earth, so today, God does not choose to change all people to conform to the world's conception of normality.  I have had to learn to live with my illness, and LGBT people have to learn to live with who they are.  I am NOT saying that being homosexual is a mental illness, but it is different from the norm, and pressuring people to change who they are is not a proof of love and acceptance.  

I'm not sure where the fear you express is being presented. I believe you are reading too much between the lines of the Nashville Statement. If you have more documentation for clarification of your points, I'd be interested in reading them. I don't read any capitulation to fear in the statement.

 

Jonathan: I don't read in Articles 12 and 13 what you claim for them.   Indeed, the last phrase in Article 12 seems to make clear that believers may be drawn to sin but yet resist it.

As to Article 4, very little is said by the Nashville Statement except that "God made us male and female," and that this "difference" is a matter of "original creation design."  It doesn't even say what that design difference is.

So with the possible exception of Article 10, which is unclear, I think we agree this Nashville Statement is rather unremarkable in terms of how it compares to the CRC position.  Given that, I think your assertion that the statement represents "hate and fear" is a bit hyperbolic.  I think you are correct that "many in our denomination look favorably upon the Nashville Statement," in large part because they will (accurately) perceive it as in line with what the denomination has said, which is what they believe.

Just curious: what do you think about the "Denver Statement?"

Doug,

Conversion therapy, while not explicitly named, is what the writers are talking about in Articles 12 and 13. The belief that through sufficient prayer and supplication that God will make you "not-gay" (or trans, or queer, etc.). I do not deny that God has the power to do whatever He desires, but this message of "if you pray hard enough, x will happen" has been used to emotionally and spiritually manipulate and abuse LGBT people in the church, especially youth.

Similarly, on complementarianism and patriarchy, I read Article 4 as the assertion that God has assigned roles to male and female and that to challenge those roles is to challenge God's intended design. And personally, as an egalitarian and a feminist, I don't believe male and female exist as fixed archetypes that we must mold ourselves into. I would probably agree with you that this isn't a new statement compared to the CRC or any other conversations that have been had on this point before, except when paired with Article 10. The statement that we cannot "agree to disagree" on this in Article 10, and the subsequent statements by CBMW doubling down on this point, are an unnecessary and divisive ultimatum, and one that this collection of individuals (CBMW) don't have the authority to make.

I frankly don't see where the Nashville Statement contradicts statements made by the CRC about the same subject matter.  Could the author or someone point out those differences?

I also don't see where the Nashville Statement "promotes conversion therapy," nor "patriarchy."  I do see where it might be said to promote "complementarianism" but not in a way different from the CRC.  Anyone?

I'm NOT rejecting anything.  Actually, I would agree that people tend to let their emotions run away with them when it comes to matters of justice, especially when it comes to immigration--since let's not kid ourselves--immigration is a big-ticket issue these days both in the States and Canada as people of Haitian origin have been streaming across our border, as they fear deportation back to Haiti following your president's order that the protection offered by POTUS 44 after the earthquake of 2010 be rescinded as of Jan.2018.  The stream of July has dwindled down to a creek, but we're going to be processing cases for months if not years to come here in Québec, and all of them are getting basic welfare and free medical care until they can get a workers's permit and be allowed to look for work.  Do they get that in the States?

 I was born in Québec as the eldest daughter of a Belgian immigrant and a Québécois mother in the 1950s, and when I started attending public school in French, most of my classmates and even the teachers had NEVER heard or seen a name like Gyselinck in their lives before.  In fact, I was only schooled in the French sector because my mother was a French Canadian of Roman Catholic confession.  Most children of immigrants went to schools of the  local Protestant school boards, and so since I was different and vulnerable the other kids started to pick on me and bully me.  I only found acceptance once my parents moved me to an English high school so I'd learn English since the teaching of English in Québécois schools was AND IS pathetic.  My experience as a first generation child of immigrant parents was that the nation to which I was born was and remains very ethnocentric.  Even now most francophones in Québec--especially those who trace their ancestry to French ancestors who immigrated in the 17th and 18th centuries--struggle to include and accept immigrants who look different and have different religions like Islam.

The phrase "not keeping records" comes from I Corinthians 13, quoted earlier in the article:  "Love . . . keeps no records of wrongs."

 

But Benjamin, your claims notwithstanding, the "history of slavery and racial oppression" has been anything but "ignored."  To the contrary, the CRCNA beats it to death.  These days, one out of every _____ articles on the various CRC publications deal with racism.  Confessions, both individual and institutional, abound.

I really don't think all of this "recognizing" is doing much good in the real world.  After all we keep saying it and nothing changes except for the worse.  While racism is being more and more reported on and emphasized by the media, and by institutions like the CRCNA, the racial divide is clearly growing.

I don't think this author is an "unaware" as you claim.  Rather, I think he believes our focus might better if more turned to emphasize reconciliation, using methods that increase the chances for that, instead of our continuing to grind guilt and shame into the foreheads of the "bad guys" like a lighted cigarette.

This sin has never been "unnamed" -- as you state -- but rather named over and over and over and over again.  It's even named when it doesn't exist.  Our former president was quick to declare it even when it wasn't the case when the facts were more fully made evident.   You may want to solve the problem of "Way too many Americans [] not [wanting] to recognize the systemic nature of racism" but both this author (I think at least) and I would prefer the Daryl Davis route, a route that actually gets something done.

I appreciated this article. However, it seems there's a key element that the author does not seem aware of - and that is that racism, racial oppression, and white supremacy are linked, systemic and ongoing problems that continue to affect millions of people of color around the country, including above the Mason-Dixon line.  He writes that we must try to right this wrong, "without keeping records."  The problem is that racism is not fully acknowledged and its impact not appreciated.  Sin that is unnamed can't be repented of.  Way too many Americans do not recognize the systemic nature of racism, and many truly racist people deny that they are racist.  Rather than ignoring our history of slavery and racial oppression, we should bring it to light so that people can experience the conviction of sin and recognize that their continued ignorance only paves the way for further oppression.  

Amen! Yes, I could disagree with some nuances of this post, but Amen!

Eric, thanks for your well-reasoned input.

 

I admit my fingers paused for long time after describing "wisdom" as "common sense."  I was going for brevity and ease of understanding, and probably lost accuracy in the process.

 

I like your suggestion of "the essence of the knowledge and character of God."

Hi Dan,

I appreciate your perspective here.  Having emotions/empathy inform and season our judgments rather than rule them is wise advice, I believe.  Of course that has to be balanced with passages like James 2:13 that tells us “Mercy triumphs over judgment”.  Is this a definitive statement to only exercise mercy, and not judgment?  In the context of the first half of that verse and the rest of scripture we have to say no.  But it does seem that the mercy that we exhibit in our judgments necessarily flows at least in part from our emotions or our empathetic response.  All that said, I think scriptures such as James 2:13 don’t contradict what you are saying, but they do hammer home the dreadful evil of merciless (read: lacking in empathy) judgements.  Where I think your post excels is in calling us not to automatically assign a lack of empathy (which is to assign evil motives) when we disagree with another’s perspective.

I would caution against shorthanding wisdom as “common sense”.  I think this is a woefully inadequate shorthand for wisdom.  As matter of fact, I think the opposite may be true.  It seems to me that biblically speaking, we might call wisdom the essence of the knowledge and character of God, while we might quite accurately call common sense the knowledge and character of man.  Eve likely appreciated Satan’s common sense appeal to eat the fruit.  All manner of foolishness has been done under the guise of common sense.  In my professional regulatory role, I have all manner of people appeal to “common sense” in the face of legal requirements.  These appeals are as widely varied as the individuals who I encounter.  I often say (amongst my coworkers, not to those people) that “one man’s common sense is another man’s idiocy.”  Hence my somewhat visceral (def: emotional – oops!) reaction to the characterization of wisdom as common sense.

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