Monday, October 31, 2011

31 Theses to Holiness Denominations

Many years ago Martin Luther posted Thesis to the Roman Catholic Church. He did not wish to cause a split, he was truly attempting to get people to see the issues, address them, and change them. My heart is the same. These are very serious problems, I am writing this seriously. My heritage is found in these denominations but they must address if they are to not just survive but enter into the Kingdom & regain their purpose. 

1. When Jesus said "repent" he meant that believers should live a whole life repenting
2. Sin will always remain until we enter Heaven... "Simul justus et pecator."
3. Many holiness movements claim to be egalitarian, however, few women are seen as heads of local church bodies.
4. The church through church penalties and stances is producing a ‘human crop of weeds’ that can correctly answer doctrinal questions or social stances but are wrecked inwardly. 
5. Someone might have bad/incorrect thoughts against the church and they will be scared. This fear is enough penalty without maligning these people or simply labeling them as "bitter".
6. Many people have been hurt by politics, liars, and hypocrisy within the church.
7. Until these hurts have been made known, acknowledged and apologies made the church and denomination may never move forward- like an alcoholic who will not admit they have a problem. 
8. There is no proof that a person is free from sin.
9. Adhering to The Discipline will not save a person.
10. Many who believe (and say) they are "entirely sanctified" do so at their own peril by falling into the sin of pride.
11. If Jesus readily broke Mishna Law how can our leaders say that if Jesus was here he would submit to the "spiritual authority" of the denomination/s? He didn't for the Jews, he would not in this case either. 
12. If the saying, "Love the sinner, hate the sin" then why aren't these denomination's relationships with the gay and lesbian community better? why aren't there more on-going prison ministries? how have they reached out to the pornography industry?
13. People who believe that abiding by the denomination will let them live in salvation will always be damned - along with those who teach it.
14. A man can be free if he sincerely repents - a "membership covenant" is not needed.
15. A true repenter will be sorry for his sins and happily give back to others of their resources and talents. Preaching mandatory "tithes and offerings" trivialize this issue.
16. A Christian who gives to the poor or lends to those in need is doing better in God’s eyes than one who gives "tithes" to a church building campaign.
17. This is because of loving others, love grows and you become more of who God created you to be. A person/church tithing and/or paying USF does not become a better person by these actions.
18. A person who passes by a beggar but pays their "tithe" will gain the anger and disappointment of God.
19. Christians should be taught that they do not NEED to tithe but are allowed to freely give.
20. Headquarters should have more desire for devout prayer than for ready money.
21. It is blasphemy that the words of Jesus are preached less than than those of Paul. Paul is to be interpreted in the light of Jesus, not Jesus in light of Paul. 
22. The wealth of some of the "holiness denominations" is not wildly known among believers and attenders who are struggling financially in a time of recession. People are losing homes & our headquarters and colleges are building bigger and better buildings. 
23. Salvation can be sought for through the church as it has been granted this by Christ... but people can be saved outside of the church walls. 
24. District Superintendents (DS) and bishops have to enforce United Stewardship Fund to keep their jobs and perks (as they currently stand). 
25. Why is there a sliding scale of membership requirements depending on a person's position, title, wealth, and last name? If they are requirements they are for everyone, equally.
26. Don't membership requirements- by their very nature- create a tiered form of Christianity?
27. If DS and General Superintendents had worked as they should have and led by example (with a FEW notable exceptions) the above problems would not exist. 
28. The voting process needs to allow far more accountability for our DS and GS positions.
29. All those who say there is no problem must go. Problems must be tackled.
30. Christians must follow Christ at all cost- even if in disobeying the denomination. 
31. Let Christians experience problems if they must - and overcome them - rather than live a false life based on present holiness teaching.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Frodo Had Already Left the Shire

I sat in the white sedan, speeding through the black country night. Cigarillo smoke curled around the interior and then was sucked out of the cracked driver's window like a fleeing spectre.

"Did you ever get any closure from your deal with the denomination?" I asked.


He was either letting the word sink in with the shock or just taking a drag but I didn't look to see which.

He continued. "I was dead wrong, that was my closure. Oh sure, they may have constructed the gallows, thrown the rope over the top, and shown me where they were, they may have a dysfunctional view of holiness and a terrible way of working it out but I made my choices and put my own head in the noose. The truth is I lacked integrity and submission to authority."

Now I was frustrated. I had a picture in my mind I wanted this to fit and this wasn't helping it. When this stuff happens it's better just to remain silent. Talking as you are having your world rocked usually makes you look dumber.

"And Devin- you need to know this- you need to let this bitterness go. Are a bunch of those guys jerks? You BET. They have been for years. But they aren't losing any sleep over you. Stop losing it over them. God wants to take some of that edge of arrogance off of you. They didn't take anything from you that you hadn't already given up. Did you walk too boldly? Maybe. Did you shove the dysfunction in their collective faces? You bet.

"Think of it like this- you're a nerd, right? You like Lord of the Rings. "

I parried with a smirk, "You have the sword of Aragon from the movie."

"Yes," he drawled, "but you read the book." He grinned back.

I laughed. Literally, the day before I had started rereading The Hobbit.

"When Frodo leaves the Shire with Gandalf to go destroy the Ring, remember?"

I nod.

"It's like you're Frodo, you've left the Shire for something huge, bigger than yourself, to do something that you aren't trained to do and will test you like never before. It's scarier and bigger than you could have ever imagined and you are having a blast.

"It's like all of that happened and then the other people [I refrained from correcting him and saying, "Hobbits"] got together and said, 'Well, we are kicking him out!' ... after you've already left. You decided to leave. You were already gone. They did the only lame thing they could think of and took your credentials. You had already left the Shire.

"... I wish I would have left like you did: with integrity."

If the confession's brutal honesty had floored me the analogy and closing buried me. No one took anything I had not laid down. 

Sometimes we (and by "we" I mean "I") are so busy playing victim we fail to own up to our own choices. In a culture of shame we ("I") are so ready to assume that we did wrongly that it is often other's that have to point our our value.

And this is what I find so jarring about Jesus. He looks at me, through all of my stuff, and not only says, "I love you," but that he actually likes me and is even proud of some things I have done.