Monday, September 6, 2010

Qur'an burning church - an example of why denominations are not all bad

I snark here a good deal about some of the silly things perpetrated by church bureaucracies.

But the current abomination in Florida:

Church plans Quran-burning event - CNN

is the kind of thing that can be prevented or condemned when you have a Bishop, conference, synod or some other oversight. No surprise that this is going on in a "nondenominational" church.

In the New Testament, there is a book burning:

"And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver."

The big difference is that the magicians had converted to Christ and were voluntarily renouncing old ways. The apostles didn't grab their scrolls and burn them.

In response to the Florida church's attention grab, there are understandably outraged demonstrations in Afghanistan and Indonesia.

General Mark Petraeus, commanding the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan, condemned the church action and warned it could inspire reprisals against our troops. One can only imagine the situation this creates for Christians in Islamic countries or regions.

Islam does not have a central authority. Any Imam can declare just about anything. So for many Muslims, this Qur'an burning news must sound like any Christian, any place can declare a crusade. There's really no Christian leader who can step up and stop it.

Really appalling to me is that the church calls itself the "Dove World Outreach Center" - the dove being a Biblical appearance and well understood Christian symbol of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is present, you know what follows?
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

Clearly, we have a church that is not guided by the Holy Spirit and with leaders who, by their behavior, demonstrate that they are acting without Christ. But they are their own authority, with no "episkopos" (Greek New Testament word for "overseer" and root of "bishop") to correct them.

(btw I am aware that Muslims are capable of the same kind of reprehensible behavior as the Florida church. This is a post about Christians betraying our teachings.)


Whitestone said...

Equally reprehensible, erroneous (and unloving) is the Roman Catholic Catechism's statement in #841 which affirms and legitimizes Islam and thus deceives and disarms billions of people against this pernicious, malevolent, malignant spiritual/political anti-Christ system and the Episcopal Church's affirmation of the homosexual agenda which is a similar spiritual and increasingly political system.

TLF+ said...

Whitestone - can you link or give the text of that part of the Catechism? I'm not familiar with it.

As for TEC, its failure to exercise its own discipline is the kind of thing that discredits traditional churches. Because TEC clergy and lay leaders scoff at the Scriptures, their vows, the language of the Prayer Book, their Constitution and Canons - in order to affirm anything but Christianity - it makes the case for "Pastor X and his Bible church" to come along and misrepresent Christ while preaching his words.

Whitestone said...

And, I must add, both the Roman Catholics and Episcopalian (Anglicans) have had the benefit of Bishops, Archbishops, priests, plus access to the tradition and teachings of the elders and the guidance of the Holy Spirit and this has not kept them from grievous theological and moral error.

Whitestone said...

Here is RCCC #841:
"841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."

TLF+ said...

Whitestone - I agree that in a fallen world, and a church which even the Scriptures reveal to be penetrated by evil people, there is no perfect "system" that will prevent misrepresentation of Christ by those claiming his name.

But we should strive for the Biblical model, which sets forth models and standards of oversight.

I am stunned by RCCC #841, given Islam's denial of The Trinity and Christ's work on the cross.

The Archer of the Forest said...

I have come to an impasse in my own theological reflections about what to think about the salvation of other faith traditions outside Christianity.

I don't render judgment on the salvation of other Abrahamic faiths, as I do not feel it is any of my business. God has to deal with that. For that matter, any one's salvation other than myself and my flock's salvation is in some ways none of my business.

But, that having been said, I, as a priest, do get asked from time to time by people things like "Are the Jews/Muslims/what-have-you saved?" I really do not have a good answer for them other than what I just mentioned. I have not worked out in my head by what possible process or mechanism (for lack of a better term) God could "save" other peoples apart from Christ. If God could just wave his magic wand and "save" people, then Christ's passion seems superfluous.

Its very trendy in some more theologically liberal circles (who generally don't feel tied to any sort of theory of atonement) to say things in the vein of RCCC 841, as named above. From my theological viewpoint, I can't justify saying with any certainty that kind of assertion. I wish I could, it would make my life as a cleric a whole lot easier.

In my logic, Christ died for something. (One could here quibble on what he died for exactly, be it some form of atonement theory, to defeat death and the forces of hell, Christus Victor, etc., etc.) But if Muslims or Jews, or even Buddhists for that matter, can fully get to God via their own path, then what need was there of Jesus' death and resurrection? If the former is true, then the latter is at best unnecessary and at worst a waste of the Divine time. I can't with any vigor suggest salvation by any other means than through Christ without sacrificing (no pun intended) the uniqueness and specialness of Christ's sacrifice.

If I can get to God by some other way, I can't imagine why Jesus would have voluntary died other than as some evidence of random violence or as some sort of weird "Wasn't he a jolly great guy?" kind of thinking. Any of which is troubling to me.

I am certainly open to convincing logic from people who have a theological bent in the manner I describe above. Again, I hope I am wrong, but from the revelation of Holy Scripture and Tradition, I simply can't justify a theological conviction that basically asserts universal salvation, or at the least salvation for all the Abrahamic faiths.

The Archer of the Forest said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TLF+ said...

Another weakness in Christian efforts to claim the salvation of other faiths is that we wind up ignoring those faiths' ideas of salvation.

My understanding is that Islam says that nobody can be certain of salvation - it is a mystery and known but to God. Therefore one must submit to Qur'anic teaching, as expounded by an Imam who knows Arabic (even if the believer does not and can't question what's said). So some idea of a pre-existing guarantee to salvation is absurd on its face in Muslim teaching.

Whitestone said...

Mohammedism is not an Abrahamic faith, but the product of one man's opposition and rejection of Judaism and Christianity and his attempt to subsume them both in his egocentrism. He was tormented by evil spirits that he mistook for the Angel Gabriel. The result is a religion that promotes itself and denies and opposes God's plan of salvation through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus Christ. Mohammed placed himself above all of these and thus in opposition to GOD.