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-   -   Red Letter Church (http://projectavalon.net/forum/showthread.php?t=13495)

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 02:16 AM

Re: Red Letter Church
Do you ever have the feeling that the text you just heard in church was not appropriate, not helpful, and probably not the word of the Lord? I have! And while I believe that all scripture is inspired by God, I also believe that there is a time and a place for everything. Vast portions of scripture are probably best left to the classroom or to private study. Church is a place where we come to be inspired and lifted up! We come to have our faith made stronger…not weaker. We need a concise moral and inspirational foundation which is also historical. The words of Jesus should be central…as always!

I wish to propose that a Red Letter Lectionary be composed as follows:

Old Testament Reading: Selected from Proverbs, or from an Old Testament text directly related to the words of Christ in the Gospel reading.

Psalm: Duh! But directly related to the words of Christ in the Gospel reading.

New Testament Reading: Selected primarily from Acts, or the non red letter portions of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John which are directly related to the words of Christ in the Gospel reading. Secondarily, those portions of Romans through Revelation, which relate directly to the Teachings of Jesus.

Gospel: Always selected from the red letter portions of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

And further, that the sermon or homily always be based on the words of Christ. This may be called picking and choosing. It may also be called Dalmatian Theology. But I call it kicking Satan where it counts!

The Psalms and Proverbs provide the best of the Old Testament moral, inspirational, and devotional material. They also set the stage for the appearance of Jesus! The book of Acts chronicles the Ascension, Pentecost, and the progress of the early Christian church. The non red letter portions of the Gospels provide a context for the words of Christ. And finally, the Teachings of Jesus are the foundation of the Christian church! They should be the Christian Constitution!

I do not wish to imply that the left out portions of scripture are unimportant. No portion of scripture should be neglected! It's just that church is a very, very special occasion, and that the Psalms, Proverbs, Gospels and Acts are central to the singing, praying, theological and moral instruction of Christians! So many books in the Bible, and so little time! The goal is to be appropriate, and simple, yet comprehensive. And to deal with that portion of the historical which is readily adaptable to the contemporary, to avoid exasperating and confusing the faithful and the reasonable!

This is a hard saying! Who can hear it? Once again, put down the stones and pitch-forks! Extinguish the torches! Stop weeping, wailing, and gnashing your teeth! Go back to your homes! Everything will be fine! I hope...

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 02:20 AM

Re: Red Letter Church
Should the Constitution of the United States and current events be regularly discussed at church, if not during church? Should the U.S. Constitution be part of a Christian Constitution? How's that for opening a can of worms?

The Constitution protects the church from the state…protects the state from the church…protects the individual from the state…and protects the state from the individual! It also provides an orderly manner by which important decisions may be reached. Checks and balances abound. Renegade dictators need not apply! Evolutionary rather than revolutionary change is the norm. At least once we got past the American Revolution and the Civil War! Is there really such a thing as a 'civil' war? Shouldn't it be called the Uncivil War? Are we Barbarians? Can't we get along? Guess not! We should have read George Washington's Rules of Civility.

Anyway, Christians should not be ignorant or silent regarding politics. They are highly irresponsible if they leave the important issues of our nation up to others! If our faith cannot be applied effectively to contemporary issues…it's nearly worthless! Well, what about separation of church and state? Shouldn't we just sing and pray and keep our heads up in the clouds, or up...never mind? That is a rhetorical question, by the way! The state cannot establish a state church, such as the Church of England. A church leader cannot control the state…although some seem to be trying to do so! Thank God and the Founding Fathers for the U.S. Constitution! The Founding Mothers probably inspired the Founding Fathers to make history!

Christians and the Christian church should be vocal regarding religious and political issues, but they should seek to convince people with love and logic…and not to control them by force! There is a huge difference! Have you read Fox’s Book of Martyrs? Have you read about The Crusades and The Inquisition? What senseless bloodbaths! And they were ordered and carried out by professed followers of Jesus! Don't think that can't happen again. Don't I have faith in humanity? Well, no…not really…

Preachers and priests should not have to worry about losing their church's tax-exempt status when they support a political candidate or position! The establishment clause should not be confused with the free exercise clause! What about freedom of speech? The yanking of the tax-exempt status of a church because of sermon content is tantamount to prohibiting the free exercise of religion and the freedom of speech. Read the entire First Amendment. Here it is folks…the whole one sentence:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

To say that the United States of America and the U.S. Constitution was inspired by Christianity is probably true and acceptable. To say that this is a Christian Nation is not true, and is extremely dangerous! It was my observation that the Moral Majority was Neither! And that the Religious Right is Wrong! Could a U.S. President ignore the U.S. Constitution based upon the “spirit-led” experience of the Religious Right? Has this already happened?

And by the way, is Sola Scriptura scriptural? The twin principles of freedom and responsibility, which are the foundation of the Teachings of Jesus, are non-negotiable! The context of the Teachings of Jesus is not our context, and we do have to use our brains and the internet, to make intelligent theological statements which are relevant to modernity, so as to not degenerate into pious zombies, or Godbots! Modern politics is our context! What would President Jesus Christ say and do! Would He preemptively attack a country that might be a threat at some point in the future?

Am I a bleeding heart, morally ambiguous, anti-God liberal? No! Just a Red Letter Constitutionalist! Shouldn't we all take the U.S. Constitution and the Teachings of Jesus very seriously? It sure beats the oppression of a corrupt New World Order Theocracy!

Are you mad? Probably both the religious and irreligious are mad, at this point! As a child, I learned quickly not to talk openly about religion, politics, and sex! But when I became a man, I put away these childhood lessons…to my detriment! If you think you're mad now, wait 'till I start writing about sex! You think I’m kidding…don’t you?

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 02:23 AM

Re: Red Letter Church
“The disciples' place was always next to Jesus. The people constantly pressed upon Him, yet the disciples understood that they were not to be crowded away from His presence. They sat close beside Him, that they might not lose a word of His instruction. They were attentive listeners, eager to understand the truths they were to make known to all lands and all ages.

With a feeling that something more than usual might be expected, they now pressed about their Master. They believed that the kingdom was soon to be established, and from the events of the morning they gathered assurance that some announcement concerning it was about to be made. A feeling of expectancy pervaded the multitude also, and eager faces gave evidence of the deep interest. As the people sat upon the green hillside, awaiting the words of the divine Teacher, their hearts were filled with thoughts of future glory. There were scribes and Pharisees who looked forward to the day when they should have dominion over the hated Romans, and possess the riches and splendor of the world's great empire. The poor peasants and fishermen hoped to hear the assurance that their wretched hovels, the scanty food, the life of toil, and fear of want were to be exchanged for mansions of plenty and days of ease. In place of the one coarse garment which was their covering by day, and their blanket at night, they hoped that Christ would give them the rich and costly robes of their conquerors. All hearts thrilled with the proud hope that Israel was soon to be honored before the nations as the chosen of the Lord, and Jerusalem exalted as the head of a universal kingdom.

Christ disappointed the hope of worldly greatness. In the Sermon on the Mount He sought to undo the work that had been wrought by false education, and to give His hearers a right conception of His kingdom and of His own character. Yet He did not make a direct attack on the errors of the people. He saw the misery of the world on account of sin, yet He did not present before them a vivid delineation of their wretchedness. He taught them of something infinitely better than they had known. Without combating their ideas of the kingdom of God, He told them the conditions of entrance therein, leaving them to draw their own conclusions as to its nature. The truths He taught are no less important to us than to the multitude that followed Him. We no less than they need to learn the foundation principles of the kingdom of God.”---The Desire of Ages by Ellen White, pages 308-309.

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 02:25 AM

Re: Red Letter Church
Should the Sabbath be observed by Christians? If so, is the Sabbath to be observed on Saturday or Sunday? And does Sabbath observance involve merely attending church on either Saturday or Sunday, or does it involve keeping the Sabbath holy from sundown to sundown, and abstaining from unnecessary work and travel during this 24 hour period?

What does Jesus say about the above questions? Very little. And when He does, it is usually in response to the accusations of the legalistic Jewish leaders! It was His custom to go to the temple on the Saturday Sabbath, but He did not make the fourth commandment of the Ten Commandments one of His teachings. Jesus gives voluminous moral instruction echoing the Old Testament. But regarding the ceremonial or ritual observances of the Old Testament, He is largely silent. The Teachings of Jesus Christ are about being pure in heart and action!

In light of what I have just said, should Christians not go to church? I believe that church attendance is optional, but highly, highly recommended! I further believe that every day should be a spiritual and moral Sabbath, but not a ritual or ceremonial Sabbath! One should take time to be holy each and every day! Not just one day a week, whichever day that is!

If someone wants to worship on Saturday, this is perfectly acceptable, but they should not insist that others do so also! They should not assert that their salvation may depend on keeping the right day in the right way! If someone wants to worship on Sunday, this is perfectly acceptable also, but again, they should not insist that others do so, and that their salvation may depend on it.

No individual or organization should be dogmatic regarding church attendance and regarding a particular day for church attendance! Worship options should probably be available 7 days a week, with a higher concentration of these worship options on the weekend. This subject should never be made a test of faith! Paul writes, "One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind."--Romans 14:5 NIV

The line where the secular ends and the sacred begins should become increasingly blurred! Secular and sacred should eventually become one and the same thing! Paul says to pray without ceasing! Dr. Albert Schweitzer wrote extensively about his concept, Reverence for Life! We should have reverence for life, both physical and spiritual, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, for our whole lives! Our communion and cooperation with the Divine and the human should have no beginning or ending!

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 03:22 AM

Re: Red Letter Church
The subject of the return of Christ and the end of the world is often dealt with in a quick and somewhat evasive manner. It's a very touchy subject! But I am going to go where angels and most clergy fear to tread!

The Teachings of Jesus and the writings of Paul imply a soon return of Christ...2,000 years ago! What went wrong? Is this a case of wishful thinking mixed with false advertising? Is the return of Christ and the end of the world to be understood figuratively rather than literally? Are there prophecies which point to this present age as the time of the end?

Each generation of Christians have looked forward to the second coming of Christ, when wrongs will be righted, the righteous rewarded, the wicked punished, and pain and suffering eliminated! Heaven will be the new home of the righteous, and Hell the new home of the wicked! This is the common perception, but what is the reality?

My belief is that Earth is to be our home for a long, long time! If this belief is correct, then we need to take very, very good care of Planet Earth! My further belief is that few have internalized the principles of the Teachings of Jesus, and truly loved neighbor as self, or been responsible caretakers of Planet Earth!

Perhaps the second coming of Christ involves us coming to Christ for the first time! Perhaps Christ, the angels, and Heaven are already here! Perhaps when we become Christ-like and truly responsible human beings, then we will witness the 'return' of Christ! If one doesn't take proper care of a Ford, why should they be trusted with a Ferrari?! We treat our 'Ford' existence like we are in a demolition derby rather than a Concourse de Elegance!

For 2,000 years, Christianity has not made the Teachings of Jesus its doctrinal foundation and its rule of behavior! Even the writings of Paul are not expositions of the Teachings of Jesus! Did Paul preach a different Gospel? And throughout the centuries, Christendom did not make Christ's teachings first and foremost! The Roman Catholic Church didn't do it! Martin Luther didn't do it! Perhaps the Devil made them not do it! The Protestant Reformation was not primarily based upon the teachings of Christ! For most Christians over the past 2,000 years, Jesus has been a sacrificed savior, nailed to the cross, and nailed to the wall of the church...but not Lord, and His words have not had veto power over all others! If we love Jesus, we will do what He told us to do! Have Christians historically done what Jesus told them to do? Do Christians currently do what Jesus told them to do?

If we think we are impatient regarding the return of Christ, can you even begin to imagine how impatient the Holy Trinity and the angels are for the 'second coming of Christ!' It is our duty not to simply look forward to this event, but to help bring it about! It is a cooperation of the Divine and human which will make Heaven a reality rather than a figment of the imagination, or an opiate of the people!

I do not believe that life in Heaven will be a problem free existence, but rather that the absurdities and atrocities of our present life will cease to exist! We will truly love each other and take proper care of our beautiful yet fragile planet! We will walk with God, as Enoch did!

What about the wicked! Will they burn in Hell forever and ever?! Absolutely not! If they did...with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit presiding over this inferno, what monsters the Holy Trinity would be! And would the righteous really enjoy Heaven while their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and relatives screamed and writhed for countless millions of years as sinners in the hands of an angry God?!

On the other hand, will Adolph Hitler be joyfully welcomed into Heaven, to enjoy its benefits with those he sent to the death camps?! Absolutely not! I believe that the irresponsible, unrighteous, unloving, unrepentant wicked will get a Devil's Island to live on, to reflect upon their folly, corruption, and outright stupidity! I always knew the moon was there for a reason! What if earth is a sort of Devil's Island? The door from this hellish existence to the bliss of Heaven will remain forever open, but with very stringent conditions for obtaining a passport! These conditions would undoubtedly involve facing the reality of one's shipwrecked life in excruciating detail! And subsequent repentance, restitution, and a complete reformation of character! This might take a long, long time! It might never, ever happen!

Admittedly, the above paragraphs are general and speculative! But I believe that they are reasonable, and consistent with the teachings of Christ, especially in principle and concept. They are rough sketches of something that is undoubtedly a magnificent masterpiece! World without end!

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 03:26 AM

Re: Red Letter Church
Wouldn't it be neat if there was a day celebrating the teachings of Christ?! A non-commercial celebration of what Christ actually said to this lost world?!

It's interesting: the two biggest days on the Christian calendar, Christmas and Easter, have nothing to do with the teachings of Christ! Some even say that they are Pagan! These two days celebrate His birth and resurrection, St. Nicholas and the Easter bunny! But the words of Jesus are in the background! In a sense these days are ways of remembering and honoring Christ without having to be troubled by what He actually taught!

Christmas and Easter offer something for just about everyone! But I am for remembering and honoring Christ for what He came to teach us! And to actually dig deeply into these teachings on this proposed special day! How about December 31st? What better way to end one year, and prepare for the next?! One could celebrate the responsible freedom found in Christ with fireworks at midnight! Then the constitutional responsible freedom found in the Constitution can be celebrated with fireworks on July 4!

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 03:36 AM

Re: Red Letter Church
Have you ever been to a Trans Siberian Orchestra classical/rock concert! I did recently! It was really cool! And also really loud! They used orchestral and rock instruments, narration, dance, hot pyrotechnics and some even hotter instrumental and vocal soloists! Their Winter Tour is highly recommended! Check them out on YouTube! It might be neat if there was a church service like this! I guess I'm a radical traditionalist!

I'm really torn over the subjects of entertainment and church services! I like the loud and wild, but I also like the quiet and solemn. Sometimes I like the traditional, with lots of pomp and circumstance. Sometimes I like the totally informal and unorthodox! If it's done with life and spirit, I like a high church Anglican service. I've enjoyed services at the Crystal Cathedral in the morning and services at the Vineyard in the evening! I have especially enjoyed services held out of doors, singing with guitar accompaniment! And there is absolutely nothing like a great French organist performing an improvisation on a French Noel, on a French Romantic pipe organ, in a French Catholic cathedral such as Notre Dame! Check out Variations on a Noel by Marcel Dupre. Also, check out Saint Sulpice and Notre Dame on YouTube.

I guess variety is a good thing! To each, his (or her) own! Competition keeps everyone on their toes…looking over each others shoulders to see and hear what the others are doing! Competition improves the breed. Even in church! As long as it's constructive competition! But sometimes, all the options, and the controversy they spawn, makes things confusing, unpleasant and frustrating! I guess each of us needs to find where we fit best, and then positively reinforce what we approve of!

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 03:41 AM

Re: Red Letter Church
How do you explain God? Who is God? Where did God come from? Where does God live? Hang on to your hat! Here we go!!

One prime argument of creationists, or those who believe in intelligent design, is that given the complexity of life, it had to have a creator! It couldn't have just happened by chance, could it?! An illustration of this is the watchmaker argument. If one takes a watch completely apart, and places the parts in a box, and then begins shaking the box, how long will it take for the watch to assemble itself, and then keep perfect time? The answer is obvious...never! So...we didn't just happen either! We had to be created by a Creator God!

Well, I partially subscribe to the above argument, but not totally! If, because we are too complicated to come into existence by chance, there had to be a Creator God to design and create us…then God must be even more complex than we are! And if that is the case...then who created God?! God couldn't have come into existence by chance! We started out with the answer, but then we got dumped into deep quicksand! Help!

What if we don't know? Is it OK to not know? I think so! No, I know that it's OK not to know! And just because one doesn't have the answer doesn't mean that there isn't one! Having said that, let me slide down the slippery slope, to the edge of the precipice, and attempt to at least hint at a possible solution!

What if, by processes unknown to us, God and the universe came into existence by some mystery of nature? We all know for sure that the universe is here! Millions of people know for sure that the supernatural exists, at least! They know by experience and observation! If the above is true, then is it really that much of a leap of faith, to believe that God exists? This argument doesn't prove the actual nature or power of God, or that there is an eternal life of bliss to look forward to, for sure! But it gets our heads above the surface of the quicksand!

At this point, allow me to issue a warning! Please do not delve into the supernatural! I never have! I never will! Pray, but don't delve! Pray to God, in the name of Jesus Christ, and with the power of the Holy Spirit! Thus far, and no farther! Just because the supernatural exists, doesn't mean that it's completely good and safe! I believe that God and the angels exist! I also believe that Satan and the demons exist! One should not reach into a snake hole to find out what kind of snake lives there! You know what they say about curiosity and cats! It's a good thing they have 9 lives!

Speaking of which, people speak of experiencing their past lives! Well, even if we get recycled, I have enough trouble experiencing my present life! What if I came to find out that I was Hitler! Now, would that clear everything up and give me peace?! I don't think so! I further believe that we are easily deluded and corrupted, and that placing oneself in evil’s way is a sure way to become deluded and corrupted!

I have many things to tell you, but even if you can bear them…I've had enough! More tomorrow! What if Jesus had said that?

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 03:46 AM

Re: Red Letter Church
What if...in the judgment, whatever your concept of the judgment, Jesus asks you, "Did you do what I told you to do?" What would be your answer? Would there be any supporting evidence to validate your answer? What if your life was instant replayed to the two of you? What would the preponderance of the evidence be? If disregard, disobedience, and outright insubordination was overwhelmingly evident, what would be your excuse?! Just following orders from the church or state, instead of following orders from the Teachings of Jesus?!

One might say, “I established and led a 10,000 member mega-church in honor of your name!” But Jesus might reply, “Did you preach my teachings to the people week after week…and then walk the walk after talking the talk?” Pardon my paraphrased imagination…but you never know…

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 03:48 AM

Re: Red Letter Church
The following is the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
Of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father,
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Do you say the Nicene Creed every week? Do you have it memorized? I do! Do you believe every word? I don't! I believe 95%! I won't say which 5% I don't believe! I just won't say that 5%! The controversial Bishop Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, recalls, as a young student, not saying the parts of the Nicene Creed which he had problems with! He was advised to do this! What would Bishop John Shelby Spong say? What would Jesus Christ say? Come to think of it…the Nicene Creed doesn’t quote Jesus! Should Christians be required to say it? Should it be a test of faith? Should a concise summary of the Teachings of Jesus be recited instead? Oh, the problems of unity and diversity! We yearn to belong, yet we yearn to be free! At least it keeps the doctrinal purity analysts employed! Church leaders want their members to think...alike!

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 03:51 AM

Re: Red Letter Church
What is fundamentally Christian? What is fundamentally American?

Allow me to submit that Freedom and Responsibility answer both questions! Sure, one can say that the Bible, in general, and the teachings of Christ, in particular, are fundamentally Christian! And that the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are fundamentally American! All of the above is true!

However, if you don't get the fundamental principles straight…you won't get the fundamental documents straight! And you won’t get the proper relationship between Christian and Church…or between Citizen and Country…or between Church and Country…or between Country and World!

In other words, focus on Freedom and Responsibility, and everything falls into place! Focus on Something Else, and everything falls apart!

Please, study and think, long and hard, regarding the above! It's easy to say, "Duh, I could've told you that! You're wasting my time, Einstein!" But to think through the implications and ramifications, and to apply them to our lives and to our world, may be that which keeps this planet from descending into a darker midnight than any in history! I believe we are on the brink of something very good, or something very evil! How we handle Freedom and Responsibility will determine our destiny!

Walking down the path of Freedom without Responsibility, will result in anarchy and the inevitable loss of Freedom! Walking down the path of Responsibility without Freedom, will result in Irresponsibility! One must walk down the path of Freedom WITH Responsibility to retain either! It's all or nothing! Don't walk down the Primrose Path! And don't forget to pray!

If we do not educate and discipline ourselves regarding the above, drastic measures will undoubtedly be implemented! We may not survive these measures! We live in a very wonderful world, but also a very dangerous world! Let's get our act together before the big hook yanks us off the stage of life! Let's learn to fly right and live right, before we're shot down! Let's learn to swim properly before we are ordered out of the gene pool! He or she who has ears to hear…let them hear…

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 03:53 AM

Re: Red Letter Church
Jesus didn't exactly promote the idea of mega-churches, did he?! He seemed to promote the idea of highly moral people disbursed throughout society in a non-regimented, non-ritualized, decentralized manner! He didn't instruct His followers to build a temple to His glory and honor, so that He could be worshiped and praised! He simply wanted people to treat other people properly! And to understand that how we treat people during this physical life will determine our destiny when we breathe our last breath!

Throughout history, when there are large groups of people marching in lock-step, with God on their side, or simply believing that they are superior to others, people start being treated poorly, or even being killed! Some call this collectivism!

The concept of collectivism is that when human individuality is smothered by the momentum of large groups, the voice of reason and conscience is silenced, and people behave inhumanly toward other people! People identify themselves and others by their group, rather than by the individual content of their characters!

So...Communist Russia, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan.....and Democratic United States were all collectivist societies as they fought with each-other! Each thought they were right, that they were completely justified in slaughtering the other inferior or wrong people!

Liberals shouldn't be smug, 'cause wasn't Communist Russia atheist left-wing liberal?! And sorry conservatives, wasn't Nazi Germany right-wing conservative?! With God on their side?!

I noticed a bumper sticker the other day which read, "Never Underestimate the Power of Stupid People in Large Groups!" That wasn't a very nice thing to write, but it did make me laugh and feel a bit smug! Maybe it was because I felt superior to Those Stupid People in the large groups! Hey! Wait a minute! Doesn't that reaction indicate that I have a collectivist mentality?! I think so!

The collectivist mentality separates people by skin color, national origin, religious affiliation, political party, education, ad infinitum! It judges a book by its cover, rather than by its content!

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." --- 1 Samuel 16:8 NIV.

"Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." --- John 7:24 NIV.

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 03:25 PM

Re: Red Letter Church
Often political or religious discussions are heated, loud, and even angry! Why is this! Many preachers and politicians give angry sermons and speeches! Why is this? Is this the way it has to be? Is this the nature of the beast? Is this the nature of the beast within?

One of my favorite bumper stickers reads: "I Don't Want a Solution...I Just Want to Complain!" Sometimes I think the path to world peace is the path to the nearest bathroom, judging from the expressions on so many people's faces! Many are Retentive to the Nth!

Maybe preachers and politicians should have to take a series of anger management classes before they are allowed to speak publicly! These angry young and old men and women infuriate me!! I heard a true story about an anger management teacher showing up half an hour late for an anger management class! The students were really ticked-off!!

Some talk show hosts seem to go out of their way to make people angry! If you agree with them you are mad at the stupid people they're attacking! If you happen to be on the receiving end, you're mad 'cause they're attacking you! So whether you agree or disagree with the host, you end up mad! This just makes me livid!

Finally, another bumper sticker: "Jesus Loves You! But Everyone Else Thinks You're a Jerk!" Perhaps it should be: "You May Love Yourself! But Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk!" Or how 'bout: "I Don't Discriminate...I Hate Everyone!"

OK then, I got that out of my system, but maybe I shouldn't have! Do you think less of me now? Did I go too far? Are you mad? I think I went too far, and I'm mad at myself! But I'm not going to change this post, so no one will have a false impression of me, and be disappointed later...sorry, no primrose path...

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 05:44 PM

Re: Red Letter Church
Is it responsible to chop down millions of evergreen trees for Christmas, use them for a couple of weeks, and then put them in the trash? And then worry about whether to use paper or plastic bags at the grocery store?! What about all the wrapping paper? And all of this in honor of the birth of Christ? WWJD?

How about skipping the trees, and giving gift certificates or cash, and then shopping the sales after Christmas? And sending the money you save to your favorite charity?

Also, what did you think about the Pope taking issue with the Global Warming issue? He called Global Warming a dogma, and urged people to take a scientific view of the environment! He should know a dogma when he sees one, shouldn't he? Isn't this a case of the Pope, I mean pot, calling the kettle black? People who live in glass houses...Oh, he's at St. Peter's...not the Crystal Cathedral! Would he encourage people to take a scientific view of Christianity?

If we believe that Jesus will return soon, and that we will get a new earth, then maybe we don't have to worry about the environment! If the return of Jesus is on hold, or if His return does not include a new earth as part of the deal, then we need to take environmental issues very, very seriously, even if Global Warming is just a bunch of hot air! WWGD? What Would Gore Do?

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas!

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 05:54 PM

Re: Red Letter Church
Can you picture Jesus driving a Ferrari, wearing a sweat-suit and a Rolex watch as He pulls out of His beach-house driveway? Most would recoil from such a thought! Some would say that to suggest this is irreverent and inappropriate!

Once again, I am conflicted! I love Jesus, both historically and within my heart! However, I would love to have a Ferrari, a Rolex, and a beach-house! Could I have my Jesus, and my Ferrari too?! Is this the New Rich Young Ruler?

Allow me to suggest that if I ever became a Wall Street wizard, a best-selling author, or a song-writer and singer, it would be entirely appropriate, as a Christian, to have a Ferrari, a Rolex, and a beach-house! Gasp! Shock! Disbelief! Disgust!

Now that I'm in deep water-front, allow me to try to escape the do-gooder sharks! The money making activities listed, if done honestly and ethically, are entirely appropriate! If a lot of money is made, the books are properly kept, and the taxes are honestly paid (even though the Federal Income Tax appears to be unconstitutional), the car, watch, and home are just rewards of the free enterprise system!

The Ferrari could be a $60,000 used F355, rather than a $360,000 (no kidding!) new 458! Likewise, the Rolex could be purchased from an estate sale instead of on Rodeo Drive! The beach-house could be a small, modest property, located far from Malibu! If purchased shrewdly, all of these items could be excellent investments, and yield large financial returns!

Then, the majority of the income of all of the above could be donated to a variety of worthy causes! And one could drive said Ferrari to a Habitat For Humanity project, and pound nails for 8 hours! And the upper crust friends one would make on the job and on the golf course could be encouraged to go and do likewise! And they would have the resources to make a huge difference in this miserable world! Have you heard of Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Warren Buffet, Jimmy Carter, and Bono? I'm not sure that they started out to be Christ-like, but they sure are giving away lots of time and money! Maybe we Christians have been too narrow in what we define as Christ-like! I know I have! I'm trying to change!

The Ferrari dealers make money to send their kids to college while people enjoy the nice cars! The Rolex employees make money for the necessities of life while people enjoy wearing these nice watches! Likewise, the construction and real-estate people make money to make their mortgage payments, while buyers enjoy their nice new homes!

Part of the rationalization for this materialistic daydream is that good, ethical people should be well rewarded for their success! The bad, unethical people should not be well rewarded! They should be stripped of what they have, and locked up! I know I'm living in a dream-world!

Having said this, one probably doesn't need a Ferrari collection, or 3 waterfront estates throughout the world! And one should never, ever be unethical or dishonest in the pursuit of money! People should pursue money and then become philanthropists! And they should never, ever look down on anyone! They should never, ever stop being nice to everyone!

I like the ancient Egyptian body position of reaching up with one hand, and reaching down with the other! Taking and giving! I also like the phrase, "Stand tall, and lift!" Striving for success and then helping others to climb higher! We must not neglect the top or the bottom! And the middle-class should be getting larger instead of smaller! How about one big, happy, stratified middle-class, with incentives, but without extreme wealth or destitute poverty?!

So, yes, I think it is possible at least, that Jesus would drive a Ferrari, wear a Rolex, and live in a beach-house! He probably would do it incognito to avoid misunderstandings! But Jesus hung out with just about everyone, from rich to poor! And maybe we should too!

As an afterthought, it should be just fine to not have a car, a watch or sweat-suit, and live in a studio apartment with no view! I have! The historical Jesus didn't even have a house! We shouldn't look up to others, or look down on others! We should all look straight ahead at each-other as children of God! By the way, don't take this too seriously! But don't dismiss it entirely, either!

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 05:59 PM

Re: Red Letter Church
Years ago, I read a book by Bertrand Russell entitled, "Why I Am Not a Christian". It was a negative, critical, pseudo-intellectual book! I do not recommend it! The thought from the book that stuck with me is that we are an accident of nature and the only solid philosophical foundation is "unyielding despair." Those last two words have haunted me! So much of human history and contemporary life is best described by "unyielding despair." Was Lord Russell right?

Allow me, if you will, to cautiously suggest that a philosophical foundation of "unyielding despair" results in a catastrophic building collapse! A sunny Pollyanna philosophical foundation of "unyielding hope" also results in a catastrophic building collapse! Deluding ourselves into thinking everything is rotten, when it is not, is disastrous! Deluding ourselves into thinking everything is fine, when it is not, is equally disastrous!

A solid philosophical foundation consists of a healthy mixture of unyielding despair counterbalanced with unyielding hope! We must see the problems of humanity with excruciating clarity, and then seek and find as many solutions as we possibly can, and then keep seeking and finding even more solutions! We must also see the beauty of the earth with ecstatic clarity, and then positively reinforce all that is right with the world!

A doctor must see the patient's problems in the most realistic and horrible light, and then formulate and implement a plan of action to correct and heal! But the medical profession, and all of us, should seek to prevent illness and injury with even more urgency than we seek a cure!

The above implies a war within! Not peace, but a sword! Onward Christian Soldiers! We must struggle! This is painful, yet rewarding! The Christian life, of following Jesus, is a life of tempered turmoil! It is a battle and a march, repeated over and over!

I am proposing Positive Response Ability! Not exclusively Negative Thinking! Not exclusively Positive Thinking! But, rather, Solution-Oriented Thinking! Facing problems squarely! Battling with them furiously, with God's help! And emerging victoriously from the battle!

If I could only practice what I preach! Maybe someday! But for now, I'm just going to go back to my little dream world! It's such a nice place!

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 07:05 PM

Re: Red Letter Church
The following is from the back cover of a book which I recently purchased, entitled The “Complete Gospels“, edited by Robert J. Miller and published by Polebridge Press:

From the editors of the bestselling “The Five Gospels“, “The Complete Gospels” presents for the first time anywhere all twenty of the known gospels from the early Christian era, offering a fuller and more fascinating picture of early Christian origins than found in the four canonical gospels alone - or any other source. Each of these gospel records offers fresh glimpses into the world of Jesus and his followers, including:

Gospel of Thomas reveals that Jesus, contrary to the popular image of him as an apocalyptic preacher of damnation and salvation, was actually a wisdom teacher who taught about the true origins of humankind.

Gospel of Mary suggests that women held prominent roles in the early church, and provides a startling look at what may have been the first attempts to suppress their leadership.

Sayings Gospel Q, the controversial reconstruction of the first gospel used by Jesus' original followers, contains only Jesus' sayings and none of the dramatic stories about his life later told in the New Testament gospels.

Signs Gospel is almost entirely a catalog of Jesus' miracles, intended to demonstrate that he was the Jewish Messiah, the Anointed.

Secret Book of James relates that immediately prior to his ascension, Jesus imparted a private revelation to James and Peter, which James presents here as a letter.

Gospel of Peter contains what may have been the original passion narrative later adapted in the New Testament synoptic gospels' accounts.

Four new pieces have been added to this third expanded edition: the three Jewish-Christian gospels and the Greek fragments of the Gospel of Thomas. Each gospel is translated into lively, contemporary English, recapturing the spirit of the original. Exciting both to read and to hear, this Scholars Version (SV) translation has - as one reader put it - "a vitality that jumps off the page."

The editor and contributors to this volume are members of the Jesus Seminar, based at the Westar Institute in Santa Rosa, California.

Just when you think you've got it all figured out, they have to go and change everything! There ought to be a law! I'm sure there is, but I can't seem to find it! Hey! Wait a minute! I found the law...why it's Canon Law! If only the Treasury could find the law authorizing the Federal Income Tax! Was the Sixteenth Amendment ratified by a sufficient number of states?

The Jesus Seminar has become known for sifting through the words of Jesus, to determine which of them are "genuine" and which of them were added by others. These folks sure are complicating things! And I'm a simpleton! Remember Simplicio in Galileo Galilei's book, "Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences"? That's me! I'm Simplicio!

As for the Scholars Version (SV), I was a bit disappointed! It seemed a bit choppy and crude, without the majestic flow of words I have experienced in most other translations. But who am I to question the scholars?!

What do you think about all of this? Is it faith building or faith shattering? I found it to be both, so the two aspects seemed to cancel each other! Sort of like out of phase waves, in physics, cancelling each other out!

I am impressed with the variety of source material, which lends support to the thought that the Gospels were not simply pulled out of thin air! But there is a variety of content in the various sources, which makes everything more confusing, as if it wasn't confusing enough already! And just when the Synoptic Problem was becoming less problematic for me!

I try to identify the principles and concepts in all of the source materials, and then apply the rule of reason, to make sense out of the life and teachings of Jesus! And thank God I am not the last word, the first word, or anything even close! I have enough trouble attempting to take responsibility for my own life, let alone, coming up with definitive interpretations and explanations with far-reaching implications and ramifications, affecting and effecting people everywhere, now and for all eternity! I think Atlas has it easy! He should have to deal with all of this! If he did, I'm afraid he would drop the ball!

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 07:22 PM

Re: Red Letter Church
The brother of one of my childhood friends was a young boy when the first Russian satellite was launched into orbit. At Christmastime, his church school teacher asked, "the wise-men looked up, and what did they see?" The little boy quickly answered, "Sputnik!"

When the first manned Russian spacecraft reached orbit, the cosmonaut said that he didn't see God...

Nearly a decade ago, I witnessed the re-entry of a Russian spacecraft…in at least half a dozen pieces…all brilliantly burning as they streaked across the night sky! An intoxicated man next to me thought he was hallucinating, and was relieved when I saw it too! By the way…I have never had a drink in my life…really!

Fast forward to February 1, 2003. I was working a night dispatching job, and at around 4:00 a.m. I told a fellow worker about the spacecraft incident. I hadn't talked about it for a long, long time. Then, minutes later, I heard the tragic news about the disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia. Probably just a coincidence, but I put the two events together in my mind, and it made a deep impression on me. While I was telling the story of the fiery spacecraft re-entry, the 7 Columbia astronauts had only minutes to live, and no one knew what was going to happen...no human anyway...

Evelyn Husband, wife of mission commander, Col. Rick Husband, tells in the book High Calling of Rick's last written message:

"Prior to launch, each astronaut fills out papers containing information for the Astronaut Office to keep on file in event of an accident. On the last page of this packet, titled 'Special instructions for Funeral Services,' there is a section called 'Other Special Instructions.' In this section Rick wrote, 'Tell'em About Jesus! - That He is real to me.' That's what Rick wrote down in case something happened. He wanted people to know about Jesus and His love. Rick's request has now become my life's mission statement, and I communicate that every chance I get."

Let's live Christ-like lives, and when appropriate, tell others the old, old story of Jesus and His love!

orthodoxymoron 04-03-2010 07:27 PM

Re: Red Letter Church
The following true story was printed in the December 2006 issue of “The American Organist” magazine:

The brand new pastor and his wife were assigned, as their first ministry, to reopen a church in Brooklyn. They arrived in early October, excited about their opportunities. Unfortunately, the church building was run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting and cleaning, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and almost finished.

On December 19, a torrential rainstorm hit the area and lased for two days. When the pastor went to the church on the 21st his heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.

He cleaned up the mess on the floor and headed home. On the way he stopped at a local business that was having a sale for charity. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory-colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors, and a cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and returned to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An elderly woman came running from the opposite direction attempting to catch a bus. When she missed it, the pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, and hung the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked, and it covered up the problem area perfectly.

Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was white as a sheet. "Pastor," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?" When he explained, the woman asked him to check the lower-right corner to see if the initials EBG were crocheted into it. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made the tablecloth 35 years before.

The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the tablecloth. She explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, her husband forced her to leave for her safety. He was going to follow her the next week, but he was arrested and imprisoned. She never saw him or her home again. The pastor wanted give her the tablecloth, but she insisted he keep it as a Christmas gift to the church. The pastor offered to drive her home, feeling that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn that day for a housecleaning job.

The church was almost full for a wonderful service on Christmas Eve. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare. When the pastor spoke to him, the man asked him where he got the cloth hanging on the front wall, saying it was identical to a tablecloth that his wife had made in Austria where they lived before the war. He was amazed that there could be two tablecloths so much alike. He explained how he and his wife were separated by the Nazis 35 years before, and had never been able to find each other over all the years.

The pastor asked him if he could take him for a little ride the next morning. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman several days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door, and witnessed the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

If you are not in tears...you should be…

orthodoxymoron 04-04-2010 04:10 PM

Re: Red Letter Church
I offer the following as a suggestion rather than as a dogmatic assertion. It seems to make sense to me, but it is not orthodox or widely believed! It could be considered to be heresy! So burn me!

The Trinity is avoided by a lot of clergy! It's a lot easier to speak of loving neighbor as self, than it is to speak of one God, in three persons! And we haven't seen any of them! That we know of, at least!

Is God the Father the one who sends fire down from heaven, makes rules, orders people to kill other people, is overbearing and authoritarian? Or is God the Father the same as God the Son, Jesus Christ? Jesus said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." So is it the first or second option? All of the above or none of the above?

Allow me to gingerly suggest that God the Father can be equated with what I refer to as God the Concept: The most ideal, yet realistic conceptualization of God, which changes constantly as times, knowledge, needs and perceptions change! God the Concept can be male, female, or a composite of the two! A combination of reality and fiction! There is enough reality for believers to believe, and enough fiction for doubters to doubt! I believe that God exists, but that it is still necessary to invent Him, or Her, at least partially!

And believe it or not, I say this with the utmost reverence and respect! I believe that God wishes for us to be open-minded and honest! If we are wrong, God can work with us on that! That is forgivable! If we are narrow, closed-minded, arrogant, and dishonest...well that comes very close to sinning against the Holy Spirit! God can't do a lot to help us at that point!

God the Father, as pictured in the Old Testament, was the conceptualization of God necessary to accomplish the foundational development of religion, with the door left wide open for future representations of God, and the advanced development of religion!

Is Jesus Christ the only Son of God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father? Has God appeared in human flesh only once in all of history, and for only 33 years, and of that, with only 3 years of high-profile visibility?

Allow me to gingerly suggest that God the Son can be equated with what I call God the Human: The most God-like human, male or female, alive at any moment throughout human history, and inclusively, but not exclusively, Jesus Christ!

For practical purposes, to avoid confusion, and because they are true and ageless, the Teachings of Jesus are the absolute foundation of the Christian Church! They build on the moral teachings of the Old Testament without including the ceremonial and ritual teachings!

In the fullness of time, prophetically, Jesus Christ emerged as the most God-like person on the face of planet earth! Indeed, he was, and is God! No other human can make that claim! But Jesus said, "greater things will you do!" How could the followers of Almighty God do greater things than God Himself?!

Jesus set the standard, and drew a line in the sand regarding character and behavior! But when Jesus came to planet earth, He was on a mission-trip, not an ego-trip! Would you really respect someone who expected to be worshiped and praised? I do respect someone who walked the walk, talked the talk, and simply asked to be loved and taken seriously! In mind, character, and personality, others throughout subsequent history undoubtedly equaled the spirituality and morality of Jesus Christ! But it has not been their role to be the benchmark of humanity, the gold standard of righteousness!

In one sense, others have been God the Human, but not in the same sense as Jesus Christ! They have more precisely been God's Ambassadors to Planet Earth! These highly righteous people did not become the new foundation! These people must keep referring back to the life and teachings of Christ! That is the standard! It is their role to live the life of Christ, and to apply the teachings of Christ to their time! As Christians, we are followers of Jesus Christ! He is the foundation of the magnificent structure being constructed on planet earth, called the Kingdom of God!

Is the Holy Spirit really real, and really God? Is the Holy Spirit the most real, most presently present, and most agelessly God?

Allow me to gingerly suggest that the Holy Spirit is the most God-like spirit being at any moment throughout spirit history! Not a single entity! Kindred spirit beings represent the mind, character, and personality of this primary spirit being to human beings here on earth! Corporately, these spirit beings constitute the Holy Spirit! Omnipresent! They represent to us the living Christ, based upon the historical Jesus, and especially the teachings of Jesus! But the adaptation is contemporary!

The inverse of all that I have said above would constitute a Satanic Trinity! I believe in this reality as well! This is a very, very dangerous reality! This is why I plead with you to pray to God earnestly in the name of Jesus Christ, and with the power of the Holy Spirit! Pray! Don't delve, or play spiritual games! If you experiment rather than pray, you will undoubtedly end up playing with the Devil and the Demons!

I am saying this to scare the Hell out of you! Have I succeeded, or do you feel lucky? Satan would love to have you go ahead and make his day...

orthodoxymoron 04-04-2010 04:16 PM

Re: Red Letter Church
Did you go to a Christmas Eve service? I did! It was very nice! They even had a Thurifer in charge of the incense! They use incense 3 times a year! I love incense, but some people are allergic, so they don't do it often! They also had liturgical dancing, which was very cool! Happy Birthday Jesus! I know it's not the actual birthday, but it's the day celebrating the birthday of Christ! Wise men, and women, still seek Him! From East, West, North, and South!

Do you believe the Christmas story? Or do you think that it's just a nice children's story? Sort of like Santa Claus? Do you believe in the virgin birth? Why don't they call it the virgin conception? What a concept! Was this a case of artificial insemination? What if the virgin birth is a myth? Some say that the Christmas story is an example of Christianity laced with Paganism! What did Jesus say about the circumstances of His birth? Is it important that the father of Jesus be God, not man?

Jesus is silent on the subject, and I don't consider it to be important! As always, what is important is what Jesus said! The words of Christ stand on their own! They don't need props or supports! Jesus was the Son of God by virtue of His role and His character! The actual genetic aspects are interesting, but not important regarding the mechanics of salvation!

Speaking of the words of Christ, there are very few words of Christ associated with Christmas! And this is the biggest day of the Christian liturgical year! Did Jesus instruct His followers to celebrate Christmas? Did God, or man, institute Christmas? Jesus commanded His followers to listen to, and live, His words! Why do the followers of Christ seem to pay more attention to the commandments of men than they do to the commandments of God the Son?!

Perhaps we should observe Words of Christ Mass on December 31! On this day, the Sermon on the Mount could be recited by the pastor or priest as a sermon! Ideally this should be from memory! Maybe one should have to memorize the Sermon on the Mount before being ordained! Robert H. Schuller used to deliver the Sermon on the Mount from memory! How many pastors and priests throughout the world do this?

I hereby issue a challenge to all Christians: Celebrate Words of Christ Mass on December 31! Memorize the Sermon on the Mount! Live the Sermon on the Mount!

orthodoxymoron 04-04-2010 04:18 PM

Re: Red Letter Church
What do you think about secret societies? Are you afraid of them? Are you paranoid? Some people say I'm paranoid. But just 'cause I'm paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get me!

Frankly, I have no problem with secret societies, if and only if, they are not corrupt! If groups of people meet secretly to discuss the problems of the world, and seek solutions, to make the world a better place for everyone, we all owe them a debt of gratitude! And it's better to kick ideas around privately, rather than going off half-cocked in public! If people are donating time, energy, and resources, with love for neighbor as self as their modus operandi, then they have my highest regards!

However, having said the above, I have a sinking feeling that all has not been, and is not presently, well! The tendency is to manipulate people and situations, even resorting to violent and illegal means, for self interest and power, to the detriment of just about everyone. Everything that I have heard or read points to corruption in many of these groups. Some of it is unfathomable alleged corruption!

I once emailed a secretive organization with a sincere and polite message supportive of the U.S. Constitution as an alternative basis for globalism. And I’m sure they made an immediate tangential paradigm shift because of my little note! Right! We need to communicate with everyone…including those we may disagree with…but we need to do it with tact and genuine love. Let’s not demonize…let’s just make this crazy world work!

My hope and prayer, is that in this enlightened age, that secret societies will clean up their acts, and seek the greater good for all people! That the words of Jesus will be read in their meetings! That they will earnestly pray to God, in the name of Jesus Christ, and with the power of the Holy Spirit! That they will kick Lucifer aka Satan, and Illegal Aliens, completely out of their secret organizations, if they haven‘t already! I’m a dreamer…

I really don’t think that people deliberately set out to do the wrong thing, or to be evil. I don’t think that there are very many people on this planet who wake up in the morning and say, “how evil can I be today?” Most people try to do the right thing, but often times, exactly the opposite gets done! Some well meaning people are simply out of touch. And if some of us were in their shoes…we might be a lot worse than we think they are! We all have a long way to go…and a lot to learn and unlearn! Instead of fighting with each other…we need to positively reinforce what the other persons or groups are doing that we can agree with…and then once we are trusted friends…we can work on the difficult subjects!

Watch out for Silas! :sneaky2:

orthodoxymoron 04-04-2010 04:29 PM

Re: Red Letter Church
I am convinced that we need to study the Constitution and the Gospels side by side, and notice the underlying principles in both! They both need to be studied in both a devotional and a scholarly sense. One needs a complete understanding of both the spirit and letter of each of these foundational documents!

I believe that the common underlying principles in the Constitution and the Gospels are Freedom and Responsibility! I have stated this elsewhere in this site, but it is worth repeating over and over! And these principles must always be joined at the hip. They must never be separated! If they are not together, they are not at all! They cease to exist!

If you haven't noticed, there are a lot of conspiracy theorists these days! Everyone is out to get us! Including the government, so they say! Much of their claims seem far-fetched, yet some of them seem credible!

Well, let me go out on a limb, and alarm paranoid theorists and would-be tyrannical dictators alike! Crowd control is necessary! Law and order is necessary! Anarchy must be resisted! But who wants to be bullied by a dictatorial oppressor! Think this through from both the perspective of the controllers and the controlled! Who wants to be either! I don't! So what is the best means of crowd control? Self-control! Another way of saying this is responsibility! A situation where freedom and responsibility is simultaneously maximized requires very little, if any, authoritarian crowd control!

When people are free and responsible, they are not rebellious and they do not need to be treated like cattle and herded into gated corals! So rather than lay plans for martial law, it's probably a better idea to educate the citizenry in freedom and responsibility! This sounds simplistic, but I believe that it is the only way to avoid the doomsday scenarios of the conspiracy theorists!

Tangentially related to this subject is an observation regarding the Second Amendment to the Constitution! The gun-one! I know I’m a loose cannon, but I’m going to go off half-cocked anyway! The Second Amendment is a single sentence, but you almost never hear it quoted in it’s brief entirety! How come? It reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Shouldn’t this be interpreted as a non-dismembered unit? Doesn’t this imply some kind of organization and discipline? Some kind of responsibility, if you will? Does the term “well regulated” imply control? If guns are to fight the ‘Gestapo,’ shouldn’t we have a tank in every garage?! That’s an Arm, isn’t it?! I bet it would cost an Arm and a Leg! But it might come in handy when the black helicopters show up! I’m joking, but they weren’t laughing in Nazi Germany! Some people think Fascism could happen right here in America! Enter ‘Naomi Wolf’ or ‘From Freedom to Fascism’ into YouTube. You’d better be sitting down!

Once again, Freedom must be Responsible, or Tyranny will step in to quell the disturbance! I see the point of both sides of the gun control debate! Tyrants always take away the guns! As a pragmatic solution, may I suggest that classes conducted by the N.R.A. in the responsible use of firearms be required. And that each firearm owner demonstrate proficiency and responsibility in the use of their firearms. Self-discipline will prevent State-discipline! And finally, that the firearms purchased be appropriate for the intended use. An M-16 under the front seat of a car would not be appropriate, would it? How about an anti-aircraft gun on the roof…and a bazooka in the trunk?!

We the people often act like chickens with our heads cut off! No wonder reports surface that the government is preparing to control us forcibly! Both sides need to grow up! Both sides need to act like responsible adults! And the best way to do this is to become students of the Constitution and the Gospels! Both the government and the governed need to reverently study these documents, and then put freedom and responsibility into practice! This is no violation of the separation of church and state!

The First Amendment refers to church and state, and is a single sentence! Why is it so often not quoted in it’s brief entirety? It reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This simple sentence sure gets twisted and manipulated, added thereto or truncated!

We can’t have a Church of America, with the power of the State used to make people keep it’s commandments! But the Establishment clause should never be used to restrict the Free Exercise of Religion, the Freedom of Speech, Press, and Assembly, provided for in the same sentence!! A church should never, ever have it’s tax-exempt status removed because it criticizes the government, or because it is anti-war!

Responsibility and Freedom 101 needs to be taught in our schools! This is simply Psychology and Ethics 101! The answer to 1984 is 1776! Do the math!

orthodoxymoron 04-04-2010 04:52 PM

Re: Red Letter Church
In the Old Testament, Micah 6:8 reads "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." NIV

In the Gospels, Matthew 7:12, 13 reads "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." NIV

In the New Testament, James 4:7,8 reads "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." NIV

The point is, that in both the Old and New Testaments, under the Old and New Covenants, to be right with God, we need to be right with God! Not just declared to be right with God, while continuing to be jerks! But this does not imply sinless legalistic perfectionism, and never making mistakes! It does imply not being insubordinate to the teachings and Spirit of Christ! It implies being decidedly part of the solution, and not being decidedly part of the problem!

A legalistic sin problem solved by a legalistic substitutionary atonement is no solution at all! Loving neighbor as self has always been required by God, and always will be required by God! What a meanie! Legalism, perfectionism, and hedonism need to go!

orthodoxymoron 04-04-2010 04:58 PM

Re: Red Letter Church
What do you think about presidential elections? Who would you like to see as the next President of the United States? What is your basis for making this important decision? Does your faith play a part in deciding? There are several issues which seem to be of supreme importance!

First: Which candidate has the best record of competently applying the Constitution to each and every issue and situation? How well do they understand the implications and ramifications of the Constitution? Will they vigorously defend the Constitution against all threats and abuses of whatever nature?

Second: Which candidate has the best record of being fiscally conservative? Will they use our money properly and legally, or will they waste our money and squander our resources? Will they get us out of debt, and keep us in the financial leadership position in the world? Or will they place us further into debt and servitude to other countries?

Third: Which candidate has the best record of utilizing our military Constitutionally and properly? Do they support us being the policemen of the world, under the direction of foreign powers? Do they support making friends throughout the world? Or, do they support making enemies faster than we can kill them? Will they properly secure our borders and ports and properly defend our homeland, and not just talk about it and waste billions of dollars accomplishing nothing? Will they go after potential terrorists? Or will they go after us?

Fourth: Which candidate has the best record of limiting the size of the Federal government, and limiting the governmental interference in our lives? Would you pay a bully to bully you? This includes spying, search, and seizure without probable cause! Are we on the verge of a 1930's Fascist Germany scenario? Which candidate would stop this in its tracks? Which candidate would enable, or even promote, this scary governmental behavior?

Fifth: Which candidate is the most Christ-like? Not necessarily the one who talks the most religious talk, but the one who is the most responsible and moral! The most loving and kind! Which candidate will respect the establishment clause most faithfully? Yet will honor freedom of speech and religious expression, even when it is critical of their administration and policies?

I also have a very strong conviction that this country needs a well-established, genuine, strong and respected third-party…based on the Constitution…plus nothing…with no hidden religious or social agendas. An unbiased media network would be necessary to properly communicate constitutional common sense to the American people.

Study the Constitution and the Gospels carefully and prayerfully, and think long and hard! The stakes are very, very high...

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