Category Archives: Church

Richard Rohr on New Reformations and new growth from the flames

Richard Rohr writes a daily devotion, which I highly recommend you sign up for.

On 27 October 2019, he wrote this stunning reflection:

Church: Old and New

Rummage Sales

I have come to set fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already blazing. —Luke 12:49

People are rightly concerned by the loss of property through fire. However, forestry workers understand that from the destruction caused by fire emerges new growth, new life. Time and again, this also has been shown to be true in the church as we seek to follow the way of Christ in light of expanding human knowledge and understandings that continually affirm the movement of the Spirit.

In 2017, Protestants and Catholics honored the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. When Martin Luther (1483–1546) posted his “95 Theses” or complaints on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany, European Christianity had become too focused on meritocracy and hierarchy, losing sight of the Gospel. The Roman Catholic Church itself now admits it is always in need of reformation. The perpetual process of conversion, or reformation, is needed by all individuals and institutions. We appear to be in the midst of another period of significant turmoil and rebirth, thus my focus on Old and New: An Evolving Faith in this year’s Daily Meditations.

In North America and much of Europe, we are witnessing a dramatic increase in “nones,” people who don’t identify with a particular faith tradition. While I ache for those who have been wounded by religion and no longer feel at home in church, the dissatisfaction within Christianity has sparked some necessary and healthy changes. Episcopal Bishop Mark Dyer (1930–2014) aptly called these recurring periods of upheaval giant “rummage sales” in which the church rids itself of what is no longer needed and rediscovers treasures it had forgotten.

As Phyllis Tickle (1934–2015) reflected, in the process of building necessary structure in institutions, we eventually “elaborate, encrust, and finally embalm them with the accretion of both our fervor and our silliness. At that point there is no hope for either religion or society, save only to knock the whole carapace off ourselves and start over again.” [1] This is a difficult and frightening task, which is why we only seem to do it every 500 years or so! If we look at church history, we can see the pattern. [2]

With each reformation, we don’t need to start from scratch but return to the foundations of our Tradition. We don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater but reclaim the essential truths. And remember that truth anywhere is truth everywhere. With each rebirth, Christianity becomes more inclusive and universal, as it was always meant to be.

It takes a contemplative mind to witness these changes without resistance or defensiveness. When living within a sacred tradition, everything can seem essential and untouchable. But all Christians are already worshipping in “reformed” churches—often many times over—whatever our denomination. Let’s take heart and have faith that the Holy Spirit is with us through it all.

References:
[1] Phyllis Tickle, “The Great Emergence,” Radical Grace, vol. 21, no. 4 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2008), 4-5.

[2] If the Great Reformation “occurred” in 1517, the Great Schism took place in 1054 with the heads of both the Eastern and Western churches mutually excommunicating each other. Look back another 500 years or so to the 6th century and we find the birth of the Oriental Orthodox Church (which still has 60-70 million adherents today) as well as the rise of the flourishing monastic movement. Even further back, in the 1st century, earliest Christianity began as a radical offshoot from Judaism, Jesus’ own faith. For a fascinating and accessible description of this history, see Phyllis Tickle’s book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why (Baker Books: 2008).

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “500th Anniversary of the Beginnings of the Reformation,” (October 31, 2017), cac.org/reformation-500th-anniversary/.

Christians show pride in gay community

Last Saturday, I joined a group of Christians who attended the Johannesburg Pride Parade. We didn’t protest against it – in fact, we did the opposite. We held signs showing our support of the LGBTQI community, and apologising for the way the church has treated them in the past.

The responses we received were overwhelming and amazing. Many people were in tears as they saw us, and understood that we were bringing a message of love and grace. For those are into signs and wonders, there was a beautiful double rainbow over the whole event.

Here’s a newspaper report of what we did from The Daily Maverick.

And here are some photos of our group.

Pride 1

more…
Continue reading Christians show pride in gay community

ALLin Podcast: Episode 03: Overview of Bible verses about LGBTQI people

In this episode of the ALLin podcast, Graeme Codrington gives an initial overview of the seven Bible verses most often referenced when Christians are considering issues related to LGBTQI people and gay marriage. He shows that the traditional interpretation of these verses needs to be questioned. The rest of the Bible presents a strong argument for accepting LGBTQI people into our churches and faith communities.

Here are some direct links:

  • Overcast: https://overcast.fm/+TxiKuDcus
  • iTunes and Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/za/podcast/all-in/id1476711332
  • Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=454968
  • Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/6cY25yALG9h4I8lRknGRv9

ALLin Podcast Episode 2: What we are aiming to achieve

The second episode of our new podcast, ALLin is now available.

Please subscribe to ALLin, so you can get future episodes in your Podcast player. We will be uploading new episodes every fortnight.

Episode 2 explains what the podcast is about, and shares seven beliefs we have about LGBTQI and the church.

Subscribe to the podcast in your favourite podcast player. Search for “ALLin” and/or “Graeme Codrington”. If you don’t find it, please let me know so I can ensure it is being sent to your favourite platform.

Here are some direct links:

Public Debate: Does the Bible restrict marriage to a man and a woman?

Dr James White and Graeme Codrington will engage in a public debate on the topic of “Does the Bible restrict marriage to a man and a woman?”
DATE: 17 August 2019
TIME: 6 – 8pm
VENUE: Fontainbleau Community Church, Randburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

There is NO COST to attend. The venue holds 750 people, on a first come first served basis. Doors open at 5:30pm.

The event will be livestreamed and recorded, and will be widely available for free afterwards.

Debate poster

Some Things To Consider If You Think Being Gay Is a Sin

I found an article on Patheos by Benjamin Corey that I think is important. While I believe that marriage is for every couple who love each other and wish to pledge before God to do so faithfully and monogamously, many Christians are still struggling to overcome a lifetime of cultural indoctrination against the LGBTQI community and gay marriage. As Christians, they need to be encouraged to do more than be judgemental towards gay people. Using their own conservative theology and world view, I believe we should appeal to them to adjust their attitude and actions towards gay people. This article is superb, as it presents five issues for conservatives to seriously consider. I hope they will.

Read it at Patheos, or a summary below:

Some Things To Consider If You Think Being Gay Is a Sin

Please consider that regardless of whether you’re able to fully accept this or not, there are gay Christians.

… Perhaps your theology on the issue might not ever change or evolve, but please know, these are real people you’re talking about. This isn’t just a “concept” or an inanimate object – these are real live Christian brothers and sisters that deserve every bit of love and empathy as anyone else. Maybe you haven’t counseled the teenager in your church who wants to kill themselves because they’re finally realizing that they’re gay and always have been. Maybe you haven’t had a friend weep in your presence over the fact that they realize they are gay, but also realize they did not choose to be – and that they’ll never be accepted by the tribe. Maybe you haven’t had a chance to serve in church for years on end next to someone who you never realized was in fact, gay the whole time and also unwavering in their love for Jesus and commitment to the church.

These things have happened to me, but I get that maybe you’ve never experienced them. So please, just consider that we are not talking about an “issue” here – we’re talking about real people. People created in the image and likeness of God. People with feelings, passions, hopes, and dreams. When we allow this to simply become an “issue” within modern Christian discourse, we end up dehumanizing the very real people we’re actually referencing.

Please become willing to reexamine what the Bible teaches on homosexuality.

Continue reading Some Things To Consider If You Think Being Gay Is a Sin

Part 17: Dealing with Objections: Where does the Bible affirm same sex marriage? The slavery response.

SUMMARY:
The Bible does not say anything on the subject of women’s rights, and actually appears to say they should not lead or preach in church. Yet, in many churches they do. The Bible supports slavery, and never says anything to oppose it. Yet, no Christian today would support slavery (many did in the past). We can learn something from these two important social shifts that took place in the last two centuries, and how Christians had to change the way they read the Bible. These are both good analogies for what has to happen with regard to gay marriage.

In this section of our study on the Bible and LGBTQI issues, we’re looking at common objections to gay marriage. Once people have (at least sort of) realised that their seven “bash them” Bible verses don’t quite say what they thought they said, they go to the next set of arguments. We are dealing with these common objections now. The biggest one is: “where does the Bible affirm gay marriage”?

In the previous part of this study I looked at why this question is actually very bad theology. It wants the Bible to do something that the Bible doesn’t do, and it asks the Bible to provide answers for questions the Bible itself doesn’t ask. In other words, it breaks the rules of Biblical interpretation to try and answer this question in the way it has been asked. 

It is, however, a good question. After all, if we could find one verse that affirmed gay marriage, or one positive example of a gay relationship in the Bible, then there would be no argument. I agree. But, of course, if we could do that we wouldn’t have had the issue in the first place, so that point is a bit moot. 

In this section of our study I want to show you an even better way to answer this objection. Your response comes in the form of three questions: 

Continue reading Part 17: Dealing with Objections: Where does the Bible affirm same sex marriage? The slavery response.

Before you sign the Nashville Statement on Sexuality… just two small things

To all my dear Conservative, Evangelical Christian friends,

Before you sign the recently released Nashville Statement on Sexuality, please consider just two things.

Firstly, please consider that the very first sentence of this Statement is going to cause deep hurt and harm in your congregation: “God has created marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union…”. I know you and I don’t agree – I am in favour of covenant, lifelong, monogamous, faithful same sex marriage, and you are not. But leave that disagreement aside for now. I am sure that we are both in agreement that (1) marriage is not a necessary institution (in other words, people can choose to marry or not and it does not impact their “God-image-bearing” nor their status in the church), and (2) procreation is not a necessary condition of marriage (in other words, people who can choose to have children or not can choose not to have children if they want to, without impacting on the value or fullness of their marriage nor their status in the church).

Continue reading Before you sign the Nashville Statement on Sexuality… just two small things

Seven evils of (White) Evangelical Christianity

The term “Evangelical” has been hijacked by white Americans. It’s a dangerous stereotype, but they’re mainly Trump supporters and would sacrifice almost anything to ensure they ban abortion in America. They’re nationalistic, racist and homophobic.

This isn’t the textbook theological definition, of course. Evangelicals are supposed to be defined as people who take the Bible seriously (the more Reformed amongst them would insist we take it literally and that it is inerrant), who are evangelist in their worldview (they are intent on spreading the Gospel), and believe that personal salvation is available through Jesus’ redeeming death on the Cross.

I grew up as an Evangelical. And, in as much as I believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah and that the Bible is a true witness to Him, I would like to continue to think of myself as an Evangelical. But I can no longer remain silent about the dangers of Evangelicalism. In fact, I agree with an article written by Chris Kratzer this past week, in response to evangelical Christians continuing to support Donald Trump after he failed to condemn neo-Nazis in Charlottesville – he called Evangelicalism evil. Well, at least seven of the things White Evangelical Americans believe.

You can read his full article, with details on each, at his blog. I highly recommend you do. Here’s the summary of the seven evils:
Continue reading Seven evils of (White) Evangelical Christianity