On another site, a while ago so I don't have the link, somebody was saying that a couple was getting married and one of them had been divorced - she was having a problem with that because there was no way that she could be sure (as part of the congregation) that the couple could Biblically marry.

And did not trust the church leadership to have the discernment to make that call.  I think what the person wanted was for the divorced person to stand up in front of the congregation and explain why they were divorced and make a justification (in front of the congregation) to remarry.

My feeling at the time (and still is) -

  • if that person had sinned and repented, it's none of my business, it's between them and God.  If the church leadership knows the story, that's good enough for me.
  • If the person had NOT sinned, it's none of my business, it's between them and God.  If the church leadership knows the story, that's good enough for me.
  • If I don't trust my church leadership to make the call, it's time to look for another church.

If I NEED to know the "back story" about a couple who is getting married, I need to check my own heart for the potential of gossip and holding repented of sin against a person that isn't even liable to me to start with.

That said:

I also thought at the time that if there was a process within a denomination (somewhat like annulment, but realistically looking at the cause of the divorce)...and issuing a certificate by the church board stating that they had worked with this person through the divorce and found them to be free to remarry, it would (I think) leave a lot fewer headaches and heartaches for a divorced person who wants to carry on with their life.

There is seldom only one "guilty party" in a divorce - and a discerning church board would know this.  If a person has committed "porneia" and repented - wanting to stay married and is committed to faithfulness from that point forward...and the spouse refuses to forgive...

that puts the unforgiving spouse in the position of being the "guilty party."  A repentant person is then held hostage by the sin of their spouse who is divorcing them.

Many divorces are so confused and convoluted that it would truly take a mature and discerning board to sort things out.

I'm not suggesting a "divorce sacrament" - but rather a system by which a board or church leader (trained in counseling) could work through the repentance process (since there is rarely only one guilty party) or the divorce process (if truly innocent) and issue a certificate or letter that the person could carry to their next church (if there is a next church) that verifies to the pastor that church leadership has overseen the situation or process and found the person Biblically able to remarry (and that would vary by denomination.)

We stand before the church and say "we are getting married in the eyes of the Lord."

Why not stand before the church and say, "this union is Biblically dissolved?"

From a "Christ the Center" podcast - a rough quote:

Our expectations of a pastor stems from our ecclesiology - our thoughts about what a church is.

If our understanding about church is that our priority is social justice, our pastor will be our chief social worker.

If we believe our goal is to affect political change, our pastor will be our community organizer.

If "church" is about our friends and family - a neighborhood clique, there will be little outreach.

If we know that our church exists to proclaim the person of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross - and to equip the saints to do that - we will expect that the Gospel be preached from the pulpit each and every week.

As I listened to Issues Etc. on closed communion, I heard the message come through loud and clear...we must be in lockstep on the smallest of doctrines, or you are a false teacher.

The speaker also added that the reason for closed communion is that those who do not believe in the "real presence" of Christ in the elements are not able to "discern the body" - Lutherans defining "the body" as the presence of the body and blood of Christ in the communion elements, other Protestants defining "the body" as being able to discern whether or not the "self"/person partaking of the supper is a part of the body of Christ (the church).

I cannot see that. Scripture tells us to examine ourselves, it does not tell the church leadership to examine the flock.

The "selfish" reason I cannot see it is that I will not belong to a congregation that would deny my parents access to the meal that Christ gave us, because they are not in total agreement on doctrine.

Some ways to critique a sermon:

- How many times is Jesus mentioned?

- is Jesus the subject of the verbs? (Is Jesus the one doing the actions?)

- What are the verbs?  Are they the verbs of today's pop psychology or are they the verbs of Scripture?

- What was the problem that the preacher diagnosed.  What remedy did he give?

Dr. Lawrence White on an old "Issues Etc." (8/13/09)

We are not called to do something that Scripture commands us to do based on whether or not we think it's going to be successful - we're supposed to do it because we're told to do it!

We're not called to be effective, we're called to be faithful...do what we're told and GOD will be effective.

Interesting thoughts.

Playing the Pharisee Card

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(I've cut and pasted the article under the fold - because I think that they'll rotate the article off the page eventually and I want to keep this one around...

Why?  I love anything and everything that keeps me pointed to Christ and His finished work on the cross.  When I am centered there, when Christ is on the cross, there is no room for my works, my righteousness, my goodness (or lack thereof)

...continue reading

On the way home this morning I was listening to a past White Horse Inn episode and something really struck me.

(not a direct quote) -

Whatever you preach from the pulpit will be what your church looks like.


If what your pastor preaches is examples from his life, pictures of his family, portraits of his marriage...you are going to have a church that looks JUST.  LIKE.  HIM.

If you preach the gospel...if you hide the man behind the pulpit and preach nothing but the Word, that is what your church will look like.

Monroe doesn't have a lot of depth...but it has a lot of love.  That is what is preached from what substitutes for a pulpit.  And that is what we look like.  We seldom hear personal stories, never see family photos.

We have a pretty diverse church and lots of love.

Update:  what it lacks is the Gospel