Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

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The Easter Anthems from the Anglican Liturgy
1 Corinthians 5.7b, 8; Romans 6.9–11; 1 Corinthians 15.20–22 (ESV)

Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
Let us therefore celebrate the festival,
  not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil,
  but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Christ, being raised from the dead,
  will never die again;
  death no longer has dominion over him.
For the death he died he died to sin, once for all,
  but the life he lives he lives to God.
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin
  and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Christ has been raised from the dead,
  the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For as by a man came death,
  by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

Glory to the Father and to the Son
  and to the Holy Spirit;
  as it was in the beginning is now
  and shall be for ever. 
Amen.

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Pastor, What Were You Thinking?

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This post was prompted by three different things I came across in my reading in the past two days.

I am borrowing the title for this post from an article by Joe McKeever in Christianity Today’s ChurchLeaders website which I read yesterday. He lists a number of missteps by unidentified pastors which reflect well-publicized real-life events of recent months and years, and which resulted in an end to the ministry, career, and often the marriage of the pastor concerned, and in each case asks the poignant question, “Pastor, what were you thinking?”

Then during a period of insomnia very early this morning I came across Facebook posts and discussion threads from Australian friends which posted media reports first hinting at some major scandal breaking at Hillsong Church and then reporting on an all staff meeting at the church where the lead pastor revealed two incidents of inappropriate behavior by Hillsong founder Brian Houston:

  • Ten years ago a Hillsong staffer quit her job after Houston sent her a series of inappropriate, sexually suggestive text messages; Houston acknowledged that he was at fault and when the staffer had trouble finding a new job apparently personally paid her two months’ salary. 
  • Two years ago, at Hillsong’s annual conference, a group of conference attendees, including Houston, were in the bar drinking after the evening program. All of them seem to have been drinking too much, and Houston was also taking anxiety tablets at the time. When he went to go to his room he couldn’t find his key and knocked the door of another room where a woman was staying who was also drunk.  The woman has not accused Houston of anything, and Houston says nothing of a sexual nature happened, but Houston spent 40 minutes in the room of a woman other than his wife. This incident was investigated both under the auspices of Hillsong’s global board and then also by the church’s elders, and Houston was told to take three months off from ministry. He failed to abide by that instruction and also seems to have continued drinking alcohol.

The original Facebook post by my Australian friend talked of a scandal “worse than you can imagine”, and the ensuing discussion which focused mostly on the second, more recent, incident revolved around such things as whether “worse than you can imagine” was an accurate characterization of these two incidents; whether the reports were even true, whether Christians should post such reports, the lack of accountability on mega churches,  etc. What was notable by its absence in this discussion by Christians was any sense of scandal or outrage at the mere fact of Christian conference participants, including church leaders, getting drunk at the conclusion of a day focused, presumably, on issues of spiritual growth and other topics pertaining to the Christian life.

The final piece that inspired me to write this post was this piece in the Daily Mirror about a woman in the UK’s Greater Manchester area who, having had quite a lot to drink at a birthday party and after a discussion of the war in Ukraine, had the bright idea to try and book an Uber for a ride to Ukraine, so that, in case the UK should get involved in the war and her military boyfriend was deployed there, she could join him. Fortunately for her the booking didn’t go through because her credit card company refused the £4500 charge due to insufficient funds.

All of this caused me to reflect on the problem of drunkenness. 

I have  two confessions to make:

  • I enjoy a glass of wine or two with or after a meal, or just sitting around with friends, and I have my glass of Kräuterlikör or Southern Comfort most evenings to help me go to sleep.[1]
  • I have never gotten drunk. Not because of moral probity or because of religious or spiritual convictions, but because I am deathly afraid of what foolish things I might do if I lost control of my mind and my will.

So, on the one hand I do not look at this woman in the UK or at Brian Houston or others in my immediate circle of family and acquaintances who do on occasion drink too much with a sense of “holier than thou” but rather with pity and incomprehension, echoing Joe McKeever’s question, “What in the world were you thinking?”

On the other hand I wonder what the lack of outrage at the idea of drunkenness at a Christian conference says about our Christian subculture.

For the past ten years and until the Covid-19 pandemic and my own health issues put a stop to it I regularly attended a twice-yearly Christian conference where, after the evening meeting, we would gather for fellowship over a glass of wine or a beer; but I have never seen anyone get drunk on those occasions, and I cannot imagine the conference organizers tolerating it had it happened. So I am rather puzzled by the situation which resulted in Houston’s drunken incident: both that this group was drinking so much, and also that in discussing the incident on Facebook,  commenters from a variety of Christian traditions all seemed to focus on Houston’s 40 minutes in that room, but didn’t seem fazed by the idea of a group of Christian conference participants getting drunk together. The question I would like to ask the conference organizers, as well as the commenters, is, “What in the world were you thinking?”

It seems pretty clear to me that in all of these situations the answer is: people were not thinking, or if they were, it wasn’t with the brain God has given them for the purpose.

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  1. Unlike most Austrians I don’t drink beer; I just never acquired the taste[]
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Consecration to the “Immaculate Heart of Mary”?

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The Catholic News Agency reports that on March 25 Pope Francis will consecrate the Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,  and in another article explains what exactly this means.

In recent decades many Protestant denominations have abandoned, revised or relativized essential aspects of the Christian faith as attested by the Bible. This, together with the emergence of renewal movements within the Catholic Church whose spirituality is very close to that of evangelical Christians, has led to an increasing approachment between the Catholic Church and the Evangelical movement, with the realization that our two traditions can at least both recite the ancient creeds[1] without reservation.

As an Evangelical with Roman-Catholic roots, and with both family and many friends in the Catholic Church this planned act saddens me because it underlines the major disagreements which still divide our traditions.

In view of what the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews says about the cloud of witnesses which surrounds us[2] even as an Evangelical I don’t have too many problems with the notion of asking the saints, i.e. believers who have preceded us in earthly death and whom the Church recommends to us as examples of a faithful Christian life, for their intercession; this does not seem too different to me from the practice common among us Evangelicals of asking for the intercession of believers who still live among us.

But I cannot find any support or justification in Scripture for a piety focussed on the saints which credits them, including the mother of the Lord, with miracles; which considers prayers to the saints more efficacious than prayers to God himself; and I particularly cannot find any justification for consecrating people or countries to anyone other than God himself. As far as I can see this skates perilously close to the line between honoring  exemplary men and women on the one hand, and worshipping God on the other; a line which, when crossed, results in idolatry. And we have not yet even addressed whether the heart of Mary is indeed immaculate (sinless) when Scripture clearly suggests otherwise[3].

I find this planned act all the more regrettable as we have come together during the pandemic to pray across denominational boundaries for our countries, both in Germany (Deutschland betet)) and Austria (Österreich betet gemeinsam), and are just coming to the end of a week of Europe-wide, cross-denominational prayer for peace in Ukraine and Russia (Europe prays together). This act will break this unity: some will commend these two countries to God himself, while others will commend them to the mother of Jesus, as if she were on a par with the Trinity.

And this act suggests something else: that in the Catholic Church the supposed revelation of Mary in Fatima has primacy over the revelation of God in Scripture.

Sad.

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  1. even if reciting the creed is not a standard part of most evangelical worship services[]
  2. Heb. 12:1[]
  3. Mark 10:18; Romans 3:10-12[]
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Ukraine Invasion: Idle Speculation

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In the days since the beginning of Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine I have come across some comments from fellow Christians which leave me scratching my head. I want to address two ideas from these comments.

The End Times Scenario

This is the idea that the war in Russia is part of the scenario for the End Times predicted in the Bible, and that therefore it is (a) fruitless and (b) contrary to God’s will for us to pray for an end to that war. It’s been prophesied, it’s happening, and there is no point praying.

Folks, that is cynical, unbiblical, un-Christian nonsense!

Scripture tells us that God does not desire the death of the sinner; it tells us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that we should be peace makers. And while we should always be prepared and ready for Christ’s return we are to avoid idle speculations about its timing.

Therefore it is never wrong to pray for an end to war, suffering, poverty, etc; rather, it is the sacred responsibility of all who claim to be Jesus followers.

What God does in response to our prayers, how He hears and answers them, is another question; but there is no doubt that we may and should pray—and help in practical ways as we are able.

The God’s Punishment Scenario

Some Christians have advanced the idea that Putin’s invasion is God’s punishment for the Ukraine’s liberal abortion legislation and the many unborn children who die there every day – and who are we to pray against God’s punishment?

I think that is selfrighteous nonsense, a private interpretation which cannot be justified either biblically or by other facts.

For one thing, many more abortions are taking place in Russia than in Ukraine; for another, both countries have inherited their abortion legislation from the Soviet Union where laws were not arrived at democratically, by any stretch of the imagination.

Our “western” countries, on the other hand, are democratically moving to ever more “liberal” laws, not only regarding abortion but also assisted suicide and euthanasia.

So, if there is a country that has deserved such drastic punishment from God, it is hardly Ukraine; and proclaiming some catastrophic event a punishment from God is not only arrogant but also contravenes the biblical injunction not to judge.

And Putin as the defender of Christian values is a truly perverse notion.

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“Complete” Creedal Formulae?

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Yesterday, First Things magazine published a “Web Exclusive” by Theopolis Institute president, Peter Leithart, entitled Theology Is Not Archeology, He describes today’s impressive and edifying attempts by theologians to recover, explain, and defend traditional creedal and theological formulae, doing away with arrogant caricatures of pre-modern theology and revealing its impressive subtlety.

It is great article, with one caveat.

Quoting from the article:

Having retrieved with all possible care, theologians must reflect on what they have retrieved, and be willing to criticize and refine hallowed creedal and confessional formulae if they are … incomplete …

Retrieval is a theological good, but there must be life beyond retrieval.

Now I am not for one minute suggesting that Peter Leithart intended this, but the suggestion that creedal formulae must be complete implies that theology is valid only insofar as it penetrates every mystery, or to the extent that nothing remains hidden from it so  it can come up with complete formulations of truth. It ignores the fact that while God is infinite we are but finite, which in turn implies that anything we say or think about God will not completely do justice to His reality.

Of course theology must be more than archeology, of course there must be theological life beyond retrieval, but that life can and must include the recognition that we can only know about God what He has revealed to us, and that while we live this side of eternity, this revelation, and thus our theological formulae, have gaps; that whatever we have learned about and experienced of God, we need to hold in an open hand, knowing that it is likely incomplete.

As St. Paul says, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.” (1 Cor 13:12 CSB)

 

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Christians persecuted in Germany …

... just as in Communist Romania!

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(Sorry, video is in German only)

These parents, Camelia and Petru Furdui from Romania, who now live in Walsrode in northern Germany, must feel themselves transported to their homeland during the time of Communism which they probably only know from their own parents’ stories –but they are living in that model member state of the European Union, Germany!

On April 26, 2021 local Child Protective Services removed their seven children, David, Naomi, Estera, Natalia, Ruben, Albert, and Lea from their care without advance warning and placed them with foster families and in children’s homes. At that point Lea was just over a year old; she recently celebrated her second birthday without her parents and siblings.

After the initial reason given for this drastic measure, an accusation of child abuse, proved to be without basis in fact, the new charge now is that the children’s religious upbringing (the parents are members of a Pentecostal church) is “out of step with the values of the majority society.” A charge like that is clearly a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion and of the right to bring up one’s children. The “Basic Law”, the German constitution, says in Article 6,

(2) The care and upbringing of children is the natural right of parents and a duty primarily incumbent upon them. The state shall watch over them in the performance of this duty.

(3) Children may be separated from their families against the will of their parents or guardians only pursuant to a law and only if the parents or guardians fail in their duties or the children are otherwise in danger of serious neglect.

An upbringing that is “out of step with the values of the majority society” is conspicuously absent as a legitimate reason for separating children from their parents.

Of course one may wonder whether this description of events by the parents Furdui corresponds to the facts, or whether there’s not more to the story — after all, CPS are usually very circumspect when it comes to the removal of children. In this context I note with interest that when one googles “Furdui Walsrode” there are dozens of media reports, mostly from secular media in fact, which bascically tell the same story as the Furduis. I find it hard to believe that no secular journalist could find a legitimate reason for removing those children — if such a legitimate reason were to in fact exist.

Based on other reports about the treatment of Christian parents by German authorities and about the causes of conflicts between Christian immigrants to Germany and the German school system and CPS a very likely scenario would involve one or more of the Furdui school children speaking up in school against some of those values of the majority society which in German schools are increasingly being communicated across the curriculum, such as the full equivalence and legitimacy of all sexual inclinations and expressions. Combined with the immigrant status of the Furdui family I can see CPS taking such action, for examle after a complaint by the school about those maladjusted immigrant children.

And after all, this buzz phrase about being out of step with the values of the majority society fits in very well with this scenario, coming as it does about from a segment of academia which equates conservative Christianity with fundamentalist Islam and paints the horror scenario of parallel societies which the state has to combat.

Mind you, I am not even imputing malicious intent to the CPS officials. In the modern, “progressive” view religion is not just unnecessary, but many aspects of a traditional Christian view of mankind and the world are considered wrongheaded and even immoral (such as the insistance of lifelong marriage between one man and one woman, the disapproval of sex before or outside of such marriage, the condemnation of abortion, the insistance that men and women cannot be arbitrarily exchanged and that a person cannot change his or her sex (or “gender”) at will, etc.). And children have to be protected from wrongheaded and immoral opinions. However, Germany claims to be a country governed by democratically defined laws, and in such a country the standard for measuring the legitimacy of any government action has to be the law, not officials’ individual sense of morality.

If you want to contribute to the family’s legal costs, please use this GoFundMe link.

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“Diversity and Inclusion” — a Biblical Value?

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I find it somewhat disturbing when leaders of heretofore biblically orthodox Christian organizations list diversity and inclusion among the aspects under which they plan “our future together”.

I have nothing against diversity or against inclusion; properly understood these terms can be expressive of biblical principles; but in this particular combination the phrase has become a buzzword for all manner of unbiblical ideas, such as erasing legitimate distinctions between men and women as well as between appropriate and inappropriate sexual inclinations, and making group identity the primary focus when looking at human beings.

We have in the past seen Christian groups, even whole denominations, slide into theological revisionism and even outright heresy, and this process usually started when they adopte cool-sounding values and ideas of the world around us.

This should seriously give us pause.

(I am intentionally not mentioning any specific organizations as I think this concern applies cross the board. The temptation to curry favour with the world by adopting its buzzwords is one all of us face.)

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Pope Benedict does not deserve this mud-slinging campaign

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In view of the public outrage about Pope emeritus Benedict on the occasion of the recently published Munich Report on Clerical Abuse[1] I find this  Statement by  Bishops Stefan Oster of Passau[1] very helpful and fair.

Die relevante Stelle in Peter Seewalds Buch

Of course Pope Benedict / Joseph Ratzinger has to be held accountable for what he did or failed to do, but the assessment of these facts ought to be fair. The “Report” accuses Benedict of having intentionally lied in order to mislead the investigators when in a statement on the matter he denied having been present at a specific meeting; Bishop Oster points out that Benedict’s attendance at the meeting is documented in Peter Seewald’s biography of the Pope emeritus which was written with Benedicts cooperation. And he further points out that, contrary to the claims in the “Report”, the meeting was not concerned with permitting a priest accused of having sexually abused adolescents to minister in the diocese, but rather with deciding whether to permit him to attend therapy in the diocesan territory.

It seems perfectly normal to me that a 94-year-old who is no longer completely fit physically will rely on assistants for correspondence, especially when it concerns important legal matters; that a mistake made by such an assistant is then used for frenzied mud-slinging campaign which also mis-characterizes the meeting concerned says more about the authors of the “Report” and journalists who exploit it.

As an evangelical Christian there are many things where I do not see eye-to-eye with the Pope emeritus, but his Jesus books have impressed me as the testimony of a man with a profound faith in Jesus, of a brother in the Lord[2], and I would like to remind all those who now excessively condemn him of Romans 14,4:

“Who are you to judge another’s servant? Before his own Lord he stands or falls. And he will stand, because the Lord is able to make him stand.”

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  1. sorry, German only[][]
  2. despite the fact that I did not agree with everything in the books[]
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Justice …

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“But let justice roll down like waters
and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.”
Amos 5:24

A friend of mine, Karin Laser Ristau, who lives and works in a long-term care facility in Canada, recently posted this verse on Facebook, and in response to a question, “What is our part in this?”, Dr. Jerry Shepherd, Professor of Old Testament at Taylor College and Seminary in Alberta, Canada, posted this comment:

There are lots of ways in which this is prescribed in the OT.

Justice and righteousness in the OT, for the most part, means doing right by those who are in distress, in need, are oppressed, or are marginalized in society through no real fault of their own.

So the OT speaks a lot as to what is the “just” and “right” thing to do:

  • care for the widow, the orphan, and the poor;
  • lend to those who are in need;
  • treat everyone with dignity and respect as they are made in the image of God;
  • love one’s neighbor and love the “alien” in your midst;
  • provide for those who are poor by not completely gleaning your fields;
  • make sure the poor are not oppressed in court and deprived of their justice;
  • preventing people from being forced off their lands;
  • blocking those who would try to make excessive land grabs;
  • preventing the poor from being unfairly taxed;
  • putting a stop to the practice of accepting bribes.

These would be a few of the ways in which justice and righteousness was to come to expression in society.

This is a challenge to us as Christ followers, when we see many who do not profess to follow him displaying more of that kind of righteousness.  All to often we tend to think being a Christian is primarily about our own salvation, our ticket to heaven. But Christ talked about the Kingdom of God being manifest on the earth, and that is where we have a responsibility.

It disturbs me when some who hold decidedly unorthodox ideas display more of this kind of righteousness than some whose theology is impeccably orthodox.

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The Taliban and “Christian Fundamentalists”

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Why I consider even a merely insinuated comparison of conservative Christians and Islamist fundamentalists to be scandalous

A few days ago this Facebook post was shared, without comment, by an Austrian Christian leader:

“Women can work but not be leaders” (Taliban). Now where have I come across that before?

My criticism of this was dismissed by this leader as “more than exaggerated”, and others agreeed with him or even denied that it constituted such a comparison. Someone else said that my criticism/protest suggested that the comparison was apt. Only one commenter agreed with me and said that he thought the comparison inappropriate.

I have since deleted my crititcal comment because I am not really interested in conducting a public debate with this brother; however, since I suspect that with the Taliban take-over in Afghanistan there will be more of these comparisons I would like to lay out why I consider these inappropriate.

I want to first of all express my appreciation for those who admitted that this post was aimed at conservative Christians; I think that it is rather dishonest to deny this.

Then I would like to point out that it is not at all my intention to defend the one or the other side in this debate of the role of women in the church; my own position on this is not at all fully or finally developed; more on this later.

It is also clear that “the world” which is, after all, critical of Christianity will draw such comparisons and will associate conservative Christians with Islamist extremists; after all, that is why the term “fundamentalist”, which originally was the self-designation of Christians who wanted to hold on to the fundamental  truths of the faith, has by now become a derogatory term used for all sorts of extremists, from radical environmentalists to Islamist terrorists like ISIS, Al Kaeda, or the Taliban.

What really bothered me about this post and the comments that followed was first of all the fact that these came from Christians, and in the case of the post itself from a Christian who is active in a number of ecumenical initiatives which maintain that Christians from different traditions, who hold to very different theological positions, should nevertheless deal with each other respectfully. To suggest this comparison is not dealing respectfully.

After all, the position of conservative Christian churches who restrict women from holding leadership positions is based on their understanding of Scripture; specifically on their understanding of the words of the Apostle Paul, for example in the first epistle to Timothy, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (1 Timothy 2:12 ESV). One may or may not share this understanding, but one should never lose sight of the fact that the people in these conservative churches are Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ, for whom Christ died. This is why Paul’s words in Romans 14 came to mind, where he says, “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4 ESV).

The second reason I consider this comparison so inappropriate is the fact that the Taliban and other Islamist extremists not only limit women’s access to leadership roles but suppress and oppress them in a multitude of other ways, threatening them with forced marriage, physical violence, and even death. By making this comparison one inevitably associates conservative Christians with all these forms of oppression.

Of course the same is true when one tries to associate the rejection of lived-out homosexuality by conservative Christians with the persecution of homosexual people by Islamist extremists, as when ISIS in Irak murdered them by throwing them off tall buildings. Christians have indeed in the past failed to treat homosexual people with respect; but to simply point out that the Bible considers lived-out homosexuality as contrary to the created order is no-where near on a par with violent persecution.

Now, as far as my personal position on these issues:

I have not come to a definitive view on the question of women and leadership in the church. I find the Roman Catholic rejection of women priests more logically consistent than the rejection of women preachers in an Evangelical context[1]; the question of women in church leadership is a lot less clear in my view. However, I find the manner and tone, in which this conflict is handled on both sides of the issue extremely destructive, both in the Roman Catholic church and in the Evangelical movement. Unfortunately the Protestant Churches in Germany and Austria[2], as well as the main Anglican Churches in the UK[3] and North America [4], provide prime examples of what conservative Evangelicals have always said: that the acceptance of women clergy goes hand in hand with the abandonment of biblical Christianity in all sorts of other ways, and that once some tenet of the faith is made optional, it won’t be long before it is abandoned completely.

I believe that this whole debate rests, ultimately, on a major misunderstanding: that a person in a leadership position is somehow better or more valuable than everybody else. This is a very unbiblical idea; Scripture tells us that whoever wants to be a leader should first of all be a servant of all (Matthew 20:26-28); it also tells us that one should not strive for leadership positions (James 3:1)
 
It is my considered view that women who insist on wanting to be pastors or leaders in a church where the official position or leadership does not allow this, instead of either submitting to the existing policy and leadership or else finding another church are just as destructive as conservative Christians who use all sorts of political agitation to try and change the policy of a church which permits female pastors and leaders, or as Christians of either persuasion who publicly condemn each other and each other’s churches.

After all, it isn’t as if this only applied to women. The majority of men are not leaders, either. And men who for whatever reason are not called to leadership positions in the church also have to live with it; no-one who is not called to a leadership position by a church can insist on his or her calling to this position.

In this context I am reminded of something that was repeatedly stressed in the church we attended in Texas: that only a limited numbe of men are called by the church to be elders, but that there are others, both men and women, who function as leaders, by virtue of their exemplary life and the wise counsel they give others. We can all aspire to be such leaders.
 
I have sat through several years of delegates’ conferences[5]  where a particular sister persistently strove to be recognized as a pastor; I have also sat through several years of church assemblies[6] where a particular brother tried in vain to be elected to the elder board of his church; in neither case did these increasingly desparate efforts make for peace or glorify God.

And on the subject of homosexuality:

Scripture is pretty clear that sex has its place only with the marriage of one man to one woman. I have more respect for homosexual people who acknowledge this and clearly admit that they are unable or unwilling to follow Scripture in this, than for people who deny this fact.

This biblical verdict excludes all sorts of things, such as pre- and extra-marital sex between men and women, as well as all sex between men or between women. It also excludes same-sex marriage. Thus, if a church claims to follow the Bible as the basis of its faith and practice, then these things are not acceptable in the church. However, the state is not the church; in most cases today it is a secular state governed democratically, and it can regulate things differently. As an evangelical Christian I don’t really have too much of a problem if the secular state wants to authorize same-sex marriage, as long as it doesn’t demand that churches recognize such relationships as marriages and even bless them. I also believe that homosexual people, just as all people, are created in the image of God and as such deserve to be treated with respect, and it really isn’t my business how people outside the church lead their lives. Within the church it is the church’s business to regulate these things in accordance with the Word of God, and a state which claims to grant freedom of religion should not really interfere.

In both of these areas Christians should be open and stand for their convictions, and it is o.k. to criticise those whose convictions differ, as long as this criticism  is expressed respectfully: it is the lack of respect which I found offensive and disappointing about the referenced Facebook post.

Note: the picture at the top of this post combines a picture of some Amish women, as stand-ins for conservative Christian women, and a picture of some Muslim women, each in what would be considered typical clothing. Needless to say, these pictures do not have a direct connection to the subject under discussion.

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  1. This is because the Roman Catholic understanding of the priest as acting, in the Eucharist, in persona Christi, i.e. in the person of Christ, and Christ clearly was male; this argument does not hold for the office and act of preaching[]
  2. Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, Evangelische Kirche in Österreich – the united Lutheran and Reformed “mainline” churches in these countries[]
  3. Church of England, Church of Wales, Scottish Episcopal Church, Church of Ireland – the member churches of the Anglican Communion in the UK and Eire[]
  4. The Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada – the member churches of the Anglican Communion in the US and Canada[]
  5. part of the annual convention of the Austrian Baptist Union[]
  6. the “Annual General Meeting” of an Austrian Baptist church where major decisions are made and the leadership is elected, all by majority vote[]
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