The claim is that when same-sex couples ask for a blessing they are actually asking–in the mind of Francis–for help. He said, ““when one asks for a blessing, one is expressing a petition for God’s assistance, a plea to live better, and confidence in a Father who can help us live better.” This is not what is being asked and surely it is not how the document will be interpreted.
God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33), but of peace, and godliness, and of order. Today the Roman pontiff, speaking on behalf of Jesus Christ and his church declared the pompous words (Daniel 7:8) that same sex couples in union could be blessed. This is an about-face as he said in 2021 that he would not allow for gay unions to be blessed because “God cannot bless sin.” Surely now he can, according to the one who shows himself to be in the place of God (2 Thes 2:4; Daniel 11:36).
This deceptive heresy (I John 2:22-23; 2 John 7) is confusing at best and outright wicked at worst. It is confusing because so many Catholics–under the postmodern banner of the rainbow flag–will see this as approval. The pope, however, has not approved of gay or same sex marriage or even civil unions, saying merely that they can be “blessed” by a priest.
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By Douglas A. Sweeney — 2 years ago
If we wish to attract and grow genuine disciples, we must offer much more than inspiring civil religion, spiritual pep rallies, and pageantry. We must demonstrate a kind of faith known not for power and “success” but for weakness; scandalous not for hypocrisy but for hardship.
The church stands in need of reformation once again. Our pastors and our people need revival.
I say this as a Lutheran who has never been a fan of the slogan ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda (the church reformed, always being reformed). I do not think churches should always be reforming. Our profession and liturgy are often just right. I’m a rather traditional guy. I think the summaries of Scripture in our Protestant confessions remain relevant today—and, for the most part, true. They’re revisable, of course, based on the Word of God. They do not bear the authority that Holy Scripture does. But only modernists believe we should always be reforming them. Only the most trendy and rootless evangelicals want to reinvent the church incessantly.
I also say this as a historian of Christianity. I teach students all the time about seasons of despair and renewal in the church. I’m not the first to point out problems to God’s people. Church history is full of “prophets” pushing gloom and doom on others, making outsized claims about their generation’s sins.
Our Churches Are in Crisis
Still, our churches have taken a special kind of beating in recent years. And even traditionalists like me think revival is required when so many of us suffer from cheap grace, tribalism, spiritual laziness, and “gospels” that have displaced the cross with self-absorption. Since the time of the Reformation, we have debated when and in what conditions we need change—difficult change that requires hard work and a risky sort of witness. It’s been concluded that in times of acute persecution, when the gospel is at stake, when the church is on the ropes, we must stand up and fight for costly discipleship.
This debate dates back to the mid-16th century row when Lutherans, especially, wondered whether they had arrived at a status confessionis (“a situation of confession”). This is such a time. Many churches are in crisis—especially in the West, but in other places too. Attendance has dropped. An alarming number of young people doubt whether church membership even matters. Some of their elders seem to care more about wealth and power, their status and control of worldly narratives and systems, than about following Jesus. Of course, idolatry is not unique to seniors. Its tentacles are reaching into every generation.
Many Christians, young and old, have misplaced priorities. Many of us spend more time on sports than we do reading the Bible. We make more time for media than meeting others’ needs. We pray very little, and not very hard. Our plans for retirement are mostly R&R. We are hedging our bets regarding life in the world to come, investing more of our free time and excess income in mundane pastimes than in the kingdom of God. Many of us today would pay as much we can afford to extend our worldly lives for just a few more months. To use the language of the Puritans, we don’t seem to have weaned our affections from the world.
This is not lost on others. Many wonder how to account for the discrepancy they see between what Christians profess and what we do with our lives. They wonder just how deeply we believe what we say. And if we don’t believe it, why should anybody else? Maybe churches aren’t worth all the time they require. There are better ways to live our best life now than spending hours per week in institutions that too often apply a thin coat of God-talk and tepid spirituality to weak and rotting boards.
By Aaron M. Renn — 12 months ago
Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, Andrew Tate, and dozens of others like Ryan Michler with smaller but still large audiences.
Why are these alternative influencers attracting huge audiences of young men while traditional institutions and authorities like churches and schools struggle to get a hearing?
It’s in part because the masculinity message of traditional institutions is off in important ways.
I want to illustrate an example of this in the form of a recent column by David French in the New York Times. I have my differences with French, but his writing on masculinity and men’s issues is above average. He’s correctly been interested in this topic for a long time.
This particular column gets a lot of the pieces right. In particular, French notes that a lack of purpose or mission in a man’s life is often debilitating. He highlights how veterans are often given large amounts of respect, yet can severely struggle after leaving the service due to a loss of a sense of purpose.
The true challenge to American masculinity is far upstream from politics and ideology. It’s not fundamentally about what ideological combatants say about men—that they have become “toxic” on the one hand, or “feminized” on the other. Rather the challenge is much more about a man finding his purpose.
A man needs to have a mission.
He also has a point when he says that the problem with treating respect as our ultimate driver then puts our feelings of satisfaction at the mercy of how other people treat us.
Yet there is a danger in the quest for respect. Finding happiness in another person’s regard is elusive and contingent. After all, we have little true control over how others perceive or treat us, yet when we’re denied what we demand, we’re often filled with helpless rage.
He correctly asks, “How much should a man’s self-worth depend on the respect or gratitude of others?”
At the same time, he does note that there’s some merit to the idea that men aren’t respected:
The demand for respect is a hallmark of much right-wing discourse about masculinity. In this narrative, too many women don’t respect their husbands and the culture more broadly devalues men. Parts of this argument have merit.
And, he correctly notes that there’s an aspect to service to mission.
To put it more simply still: What men need is not for others to do things for them. They need to do things for others: for spouses, for children, for family and friends and colleagues.
There are few better purposes than helping the people you love walk through life. Virtuous purpose is worth more than any other person’s conditional and unreliable respect. It is rooted in service and sacrifice, not entitlement. And those qualities bring a degree of meaning and joy far more important than the gifts that others—the “grateful” spouse who cooks dinner, the implausibly reverential children—can ever offer. What we do for others is infinitely more rewarding than what we ask them to do for us.
I don’t want to read too much into this, but the general pattern of rhetoric we see in this piece is that men a) should seek to find life satisfaction through purpose b) which consists in acts of “retail” service to other individuals such as their wife, children, or peers, and c) they shouldn’t necessarily expect any external respect, affirmation, or reward for doing this.
By Jared Nelson — 5 months ago
Item 1 passes the presbyteries and the 51st General Assembly, the most radical changes in churches may just be more clear labels of who is a “Youth Pastor” (and is ordained) and who is a “Youth Director/Coordinator” (and is unordained staff); or, who is in the ordained diaconate as distinguished from those who should properly be called deacons’ assistants or other titles under BCO 9-7. While such changes seem small and – perhaps to some – pedantic, they ought to be considered as helpfully didactic in that they teach something.
While all of the proposed amendments to the Book of Church Order (BCO) received about three-fourths (or more) support at the 50th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCAGA50), Item 1 (i.e., Overture 26), is most likely to receive a measure of debate and discussion in the presbyteries. The context of the debate leading up to PCAGA50, in Overtures Committee and on the Assembly floor, however, can help us to understand the proposal and why it takes the current narrow form that it does.First, the language of the proposed amendment to BCO 7-3 regards titling of unordained people by the simple addition of a sentence (which is underlined):BCO 7-3. No one who holds office in the Church ought to usurp authority therein, or receive official titles of spiritual preeminence, except such as are employed in the Scripture. Furthermore, unordained people shall not be referred to as, or given the titles of, the ordained offices of pastor/elder, or deacon.
The Need for Item 1
The Reformed Tradition has long placed a high value on polity and ordination. Confessional Presbyterians also place a high value on words and what they convey about ordained officers in our churches. Those who support the proposed amendment share a duplex concern that the doctrine of ordination has been downplayed as of late, and that there is a consequent confusion and disorder around the offices of elder and deacon in the PCA. Some of this downplaying is evidently unintentional (e.g., in the use of the words “pastor” and “minister” to describe unordained ministry staff), but perhaps some is intentional (e.g., in the case of the diaconate).Members of our congregations visit or transfer to other PCA churches and find unordained people listed as “pastors” and “deacons.” Some of these well-meaning staffers and volunteers could not be properly ordained in our polity. In such cases, unordained persons are occasionally listed on church websites and weekly bulletins as “youth pastor” or “women’s pastor.” More frequently, we find egalitarian lists of “deacons” which include both men (either ordained or not) and women (not ordained) who function together as a board of deacons for their church. These confusing practices cause many onlookers and visitors to question the practical weight, then, of ordination when the difference between an “ordained deacon” and an “unordained deacon” may be reduced to a mere asterisk in the bulletin.
The Overtures Committee Debate
In Overtures Committee, the argument for the original overture 26 was presented as making explicit what was already implicit in our Standards, giving greater clarity to the proper titling of our ordained officers. Leading up to the 50th General Assembly, some leveled an objection to this overture that it is already implicit in our Standards that only those who are ordained should use these titles. They appropriately asked, “Wouldn’t this be mere redundancy in our BCO if we all already understand this principle?”During the debate in the Overtures Committee, however, one man spoke against the overture saying that churches should be able to use these titles how they wish, especially if an unordained woman was in charge of women’s ministry. In such a case, he argued, she should be able to be titled: “Women’s Pastor.” This argument against the overture seemed to have the opposite effect of that which the speaker intended, evidently convincing some commissioners that making that which is implicit in our Standards more explicit in order to counteract the apparent confusion over how some churches use ordained titles for unordained persons.