Friday, August 29, 2014
Thursday, August 28, 2014
But what if an individual can find a church of comparable teaching that is a better subjective or existential fit?
Why should someone in the name of an outdated understanding of ecclesiastical identity renounce other components of overall well being that could increase one's comprehensive quality of life such as companionship and opportunity?
Many of these rinkydink congregations rank among the same ones that would bash an individual for going to another church for “selfish” reasons and then turn around and slug even harder with the other rhetorical fist these same souls not married by the age of 25 despite there being no one appealing in the congregation or if the person does nothing more than fill a pew in a church where there is only one Sunday school class that the pastor sits in on to shout down anyone that might raise a sincere question or differing perspective still within the parameters of Biblical acceptability.
In this sermon on church membership and separation, Pastor Dykstra insisted that the Christian is obligated to hold formalized membership in a local congregation.
He then proceeded to argue that church membership should be viewed like marriage.
However, nowhere in Scripture is one obligated to be yoked to a human spouse.
If anything, the Bible lists both the glories and downfalls of both the single and married states, allowing the individual to select for themselves the path that they believe will minimize the inevitable miseries of this life while attempting to maximize its fleeting pleasures.
In continuing the marriage analogy, Rev. Dykstra suggested that the ability to pick up and leave a church is a moral outrage comparable to no fault divorce.
Would pastors holding to such an ecclesiology prefer the dissatisfied and disenchanted just remain in the congregation and drag the whole vibe down?
Even more disturbing is the insinuation that one cannot leave without deliberate or explicit fault being assigned.
So if these ecclesiastical potentates had their way, would they smear you with some kind of mark akin to Hawthorne's scarlet letter where no other church would ever take you in?
So be it.
What is to prevent the clerically dispossessed from banding together to establish their own churches?
And what if these loose associations began bearing spiritual fruit?
In the idealized theocracy or theonomy, would establishmentarian denominations use the weight of law and the use of force commonly referred to as violence inherent to the enforcement of such to destroy these fellowships?
If so, what makes those holding to such a position any better than the worst of the Medieval papalists that those of the extreme Reformist perspective spend an inordinate amount of time railing against?
In the sermon, Pastor Dykstra mentioned a sect from the time of the Reformation known as the Nicodemites, a reference to the influential Pharisee that came to Jesus who, though sincerely curious, came to Jesus in the middle of the night so as not to endanger his status and position as a member of the Sanhedrin.
This label was used to describe those drawn to the claims of the Reformed message but who were reluctant to embrace this interpretation of the Gospel for fear of leaving behind the modalities of worship and religious expression they had known their entire lives.
The term was intended to be applied condescendingly.
However, as conveyed in the Gospel of John, chapter 3, one does not get the impression that Jesus was irritated with Nicodemus for coming to Him secretively indicating potential ambivalence to the implications embracing the Messianic claims would have in the life of such a foremost Jewish voice.
Rev. Dykstra claims the label accurately describes those that waffle as to what congregation it is that they actually want to be a part of.
He goes on to assert that, when one leaves a particular church, what you are saying is that you no longer want to fellowship with the saints there.
It says nothing of the sort.
What about those that stay in the church and get their rearends so high up on their shoulders that they will no longer have anything to do with those that could have their spiritual needs better fulfilled elsewhere?
You don't need the pastor's permission to remain someone's friend.
If you are afraid that remaining friends with someone that has left the church but otherwise still walking in the faith will set minister off, other than a cordial but distance greeting each Sunday, DON'T TELL THE MINISTER THAT YOU ARE STILL THEIR FRIEND.
The world is in a profound state of turmoil and decline.
Instead of complaining about how often a particular visitor is or is not there and whether or not they have agreed to a commitment sufficiently arduous to placate the rigors of the professional religionist, perhaps it might be more prudent to convey the basics of salvation and moral living in the brief time that any particular soul might be brought into contact with a specific congregation.
By Frederick Meekin
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Now would that be a punishment or a reward to be forced off this sinking denominational ship?
The bishop justifies such a hardline position because, “It is an affront to those who have worked hard, studying many years in seminary, spending much money, making many personal sacrifices when others, maybe unknowingly, seek ordinations in an easy, anonymous way.”
One will note that no where in the explanation is God or Christ even mentioned.
That is because, other than the basic criteria listed in Scripture, He leaves it up to the individual to follow the path that is best suited to their own particular calling.
The United Methodist Church is only one expression of the broader Bride of Christ.
Those employed by a United Methodist Church or seeking a career in such might have to abide by the rules that the denomination establishes to determine who it allows to minister as part of its brand.
However, their exists a Christan world beyond this one principality within the larger kingdom.
So long as someone holding one of these alternative ordinations does not try to seize control of a United Methodist Church, they should use the credential to minister in any way possible that is open to them.
The average member is only in church between one and maybe three hours per week.
If someone in the remaining hours of the week wants to fill that time going about their Father's work and they for the most part profess the same basic theological and philosophical worldview as you do, it is the epitome of arrogance for you to punish them simply because they don't hold a certificate with your seal of approval emblazoned upon it.
Any church that seeks to control those not on the official payroll or those that have not agreed to the parameters of ministry within a specific denomination has come dangerously close to elevating the organizational structure above the Christ that it claims to worship.
About the best thing that could possibly happen to someone that looses their membership over such a petty and minuscule offense for simply feeling a call to ministry that ecclesiastical elites fail to recognize is to set up some kind of Methodist or Wesleyan-style church of their own.
It might not be what they have been accustomed to, however, given that these are generic theological labels or categories, should you decide to apply them along with a few distinct modifiers to create a somewhat unique variation on the given theme, there really isn't much that religious power brokers can do to stop you
By Frederick Meekins
Monday, August 18, 2014
In this contentious debate, ghouls in lab coats give those wracked with the most horrible of afflictions the impression that the only alternatives available are a life of agony or an end hastened by an IV drip. However, those in the middle of this debate who relish neither the prospects of drawn out pain nor speeding up death as an end in itself can provide a bit of solace in light of life’s most intense existential crisis for their loved ones and colleagues.
Many times if these cases are looked at more closely, one does not find someone that is all that eager to embrace death as they are to ease overwhelming physical and emotional suffering. The goal in such situations ought not be to prolong life beyond what was intended but rather to allow the person’s existential voyage to reach its conclusion at a natural pace in a more serene manner.
Therefore, the best course of treatment to counsel the terminally ill consists of the various options to control the pain. Rae points out that, though there are cases where pain cannot be controlled, these instances are rare and should not be precedent-setting examples upon which a comprehensive policy is based (188). It is Rae’s assertion that most cases can be controlled through a high-enough amount of medication.
Under the principle known as “the law of double effect”, medical personnel could be permitted to administer a sufficient quantity of drugs to alleviate the pain even if one of the possible side effects of the treatment is death (188). To some, this may sound little different than euthanasia; however, the distinction of motive is critical as the patient and medical professionals are not deliberately seeking to end life but rather to alleviate suffering aware of the knowledge that death might be an potential outcome. When you come down to it, this would not be all that more ethically ambiguous than any other risky but necessary medical procedure.
In his lectures for the Trinity Theological Seminary courses in Apologetics, John Warwick Montgomery astutely observed that each of us is more preoccupied about our own deaths and those of loved ones than we are willing to admit. Even for Christians, that appointment none will be able to avoid other than through Christ’s Second Coming might not spark as much apprehension if we had better assurances from the medical community that everything within its power was being done to make the transition into the next realm as comfortable as possible.
In regards to the issue of physician-assisted suicide, its proponents often attempt to turn the tables on their Christian opponents with the following argument: “Since Christians should show mercy and compassion, they should therefore approve of physician assisted suicide.” While this may be difficult to counter initially in light of the immense pain the terminally ill often suffer from, upon closer reflection one will realize that mercy and compassion are not as intrinsically linked with this disputed medical practice as we have been led to believe.
For starters, often the terminally ill are not so eager for a headlong rush into death as they are terrified of becoming a burden or facing the cessation of life in this world alone. Thus, in such circumstances, mercy and compassion would manifest themselves not in a desire to let the dieing do themselves in but rather by standing alongside them as an advocate against maltreatment or to stand beside them as a companion, holding the hand of the ailing letting them know they are still loved despite their failing bodies and that they will be missed each day until we ourselves will be resurrected with them in eternity where we will no more endure the sorrow of death.
If the advocates of euthanasia point out that while such efforts might diminish psychological anguish they do little to ease overwhelming pain, the Christian can respond that the goal ought not to be so much hastening death but rather directing research efforts towards addressing this physical trauma. As Rae points out, the cases where pain cannot be managed are increasingly rare; and in especially challenging cases under the principle known as “the law of double effect”, physicians are justified in increasing the patient’s level of medication to levels nullifying the pain even if one of the potential side effects is death. In such a scenario, death is not the intended result but rather an unintended consequence.
In these debates, it is often considered impolite to call someone’s motives into question. However, since the advocates of physician-assisted suicide have already insinuated that Christians leery of this practice rank up there with the Marquis De Sade for allowing suffering to continue, it would be a fair question to ask whether euthanasia’s enthusiasts are really all that concerned about the comforts of the critically ailing or simply hide behind such a seemingly humanitarian posture out of more materialistic motivations.
For despite hiding behind a cloak of compassion, many calling for physician-assisted suicide are just concerned about the bottom line, claiming that limited resources would be better directed towards salvageable human capital. As former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm said, “We have a duty to die”, no doubt emphasizing this obligation for the common man rather than his own loved ones.
By Frederick Meekins
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
As an illustration, consider the following. A young mother with two small children has an accident one morning that does not kill her but leaves her in a coma. She is taken to the trauma center where she is placed on life support. Her husband informs the medical staff that his wife stated that she desired no treatment should she ever find herself in such a condition. Since her temperature is rising significantly, her physician believes she should be treated for an infection. Her husband does not approve.
To decide whose wishes should prevail (either her husband’s or the doctor’s), any bioethics committee called in to make a determination would first have to consider a number of factors. For starters, a bioethics committee would need to distinguish between extraordinary and ordinary means of treatment.
According to Rae, ordinary means are those courses of treatment for a disease that offer a reasonable hope of benefit to the patient without being excessively burdensome; extraordinary means are those that do not offer such hope and place undue burdens on the patient (185). In other words, extraordinary means would include things such as respirators that temporarily extend a life that would come to an end without the intervention of such a device. Ordinary means would consist of those things that ordinarily sustain or improve the normal processes of life such as food and water. Antibiotics could be considered an ordinary means of treatment since these substances are administered to curb an infection threatening life and health rather than prolonging life that is beginning to fade away.
Second, the bioethics committee should look into the quality of the of relationship between husband and wife. While such a suggestion might seem nosy, in light of certain disturbing aspects of the Terri Schiavo case, it would be helpful to know whether the spouse is sincerely seeking to fulfill the wishes of their mate in these grim matters or merely looking for an easy way out to make their way on to their next victim, I mean partner.
This case is not that difficult for objective observers with a traditional Judeo-Christian worldview. Administering antibiotics to fight off the infection in order to bide more time to ascertain more fully God’s future plans for this woman would be a moral obligation.
More extensive life support measures would be a decision best left to the family. The most difficult task might be educating the husband as to the distinctions between ordinary and extraordinary means. Though some might consider it presumptuous to speak on someone else’s behalf, at the time his wife made the statement about not wanting treatment if she ever found herself in such a situation, she was probably not referring to treatments such as food, water, and regular medicines but rather to things more like breathing tubes and respirators. For example, one could argue that, if the “no treatment” criteria was to be upheld as an inviolable absolute, the administration of painkillers would have to be withheld as well since these are also a form of treatment.
Furthermore, the medical professional must make it clear that it is not over until it’s over. The antibiotics do not interfere with the chain of events set into motion by the accident, the outcome of which no mortal can know for certain. Rather, these substances prevent an otherwise preventable or treatable secondary matter from overtaking the body and weakening it further. By administering the antibiotics, the family can better prepare themselves for the ultimate will of God in the life of their loved one, which could consist of any number of possible outcomes such as death, healing, or life-long disability.
Even though a number of these states may be far from what we would consider ideal and we might even question them sometimes as mere human beings, it is not our place to be the direct cause of the conclusion of the process known as life. It is rather the duty of the family and authorized caregivers to make the loved one as comfortable as possible and this is most likely what a person means when they say they do not want to be subject to all kinds of extraordinary treatments.
By Frederick Meekins
Monday, August 11, 2014
For the most part, the minister condemned those such as Donald Trump as well as a number of Christians that questioned the wisdom of bringing into the United States a number of missionaries that have contracted the pestilence but not yet succumbed to the ravages.
According to the Pastor, politeness and compassion are more paramount than health and survival.
It probably won't be long if one does not want to be excommunicated that the sincere believer will be expected to sip from the same communion chalice as the souls with this particular affliction.
Those such as Rev. Kellett justify their position with appeals to passages admonishing mercy for the suffering and the examples set by these missionaries that fell ill as a result of their ministerial outreach to the less fortunate.
But what about verses and teaching that counsel the protection of one's own family as one's highest earthly priority?
Human empathy and spiritual sensitivity prompt the believer to hope and pray that these servants of God make a full recovery.
However, these missionaries made their own respective choice about subjecting themselves to these dangers.
That choice is not one being extended to the average American, whom this pastor is telling those that do not agree with flinging the doors wide open to the most horrifying of diseases, to sit down and shut up.
These average Americans (not the elites implementing these transformational policies who will be whisked away to lavish underground resorts in a time of crisis) who will be gunned down in the streets by FEMA purification squads or forced to languish in hemorrhagic agony in quarantine death camps.
For decades, the average Christian has sat quietly in the pews enduring many an outlandish claim and denunciations of the American way of life by these missionaries that expect the harangued to bankroll their pietistic wanderlust.
We should at the very least be granted the courtesy of being allowed to voice our concerns when these adventures abroad result in the most vile forms of Third World death being brought to the hallowed shores.
By Frederick Meekins
Monday, August 4, 2014
A blurb accompanying the lead editorial of the 8/6/2014 issue of the Christian Century admonishes “The children crossing the border are refugees, not criminals.”
Unless an instantaneous background check is conducted, how can that conclusion be made for certain?
Is one to conclude that the migrants with the facial tattoos are simply expressing their childhood enthusiasm for the Mexican equivalent of Bozo the Clown or Ronald McDonald?
Liberal academics and clergy often berate the American public for what such relativists consider the impropriety of applying our own standards to other cultures.
Thus, why are we to assume youngsters crossing at the border are sweet and innocent?
Years ago, a 15 year old and a 13 year old threatened to murder me for not assuming a sufficiently docile posture upon crossing their path.
That is well within the age range that the Obama administration and the immigrant concessions racket insist we are to refrain from scrutinizing with our critical faculties.
Even if those violating the border were of a character that would make the Virgin Mary seem like Jezebel or Delilah in comparison, that is not the issue.
The United States can only allow admittance to a select number in an orderly manner to be determined by the American people or it will eventually cease to be a viable nation-state altogether.
By Frederick Meekins