16 May 2024

My letter to the Wall Street Journal

My letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal was published today, 16 May 2024. This was in response to an opinion essay entitled, "Methodists Keep Up With the Times". In that essay, the author's opinion was that Protestant churches give too much credit to current cultural trends and not enough to Christian tradition. For copyright reasons, I cannot post the original essay, but here is a link:

May 10 essay about Methodist church policy changes

My letter disagreed with the essay, and was published with another letter that was in general agreement.

May 16 letters to the WSJ

Here is my letter as published. Since I wrote it, I am taking the liberty of reposting it here. The WSJ wrote the headline of the letters. I do not repost the other letter here, see the link above for that.

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As published:
TRADITION AND CHANGE: A CHRISTIAN QUARREL

In “Methodists Keep Up With the Times” (Houses of Worship, May 10), Carl Trueman risks implying that theology is immutable and any deviation from tradition and orthodoxy is secular and wrong. He encourages us to “hold to a historic form of Christian faith that doesn’t affirm the predilections of the surrounding culture,” as if today’s Christians could somehow separate themselves from that culture.

Mr. Trueman suggests that “sacred” has no meaning outside traditional theology and fixates on the issue of nontraditional couples. My salvation, however, isn’t dependent on my national church’s budget, or what my church says about my gender identity or the sexual preferences of the couple in the pew behind me.

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My original submission to the WSJ was slightly edited. Here is my original letter:

The op-ed "Methodists Keep Up With the Times" (May 10) implies that theology is immutable and that any deviation from tradition and orthodoxy is secular and wrong. The essay encourages us to "hold to a historic form of Christian faith that doesn't affirm the predilections of the surrounding culture," as if today's Christians could somehow separate themselves from that culture. The essay quotes a reference that groups non-traditional couples with criminals, and suggests "sacred" has no meaning outside traditional theology. However, the likelihood and quality of my salvation is not dependent on my national church's budget, or what my church says about my gender identity or the sexual preferences of the couple in the pew behind me.

__________

My commentary:

There were some slight modifications by the Journal. My submission did not mention the essay's author's name, but the WSJ inserted that. The WSJ changed "implies" to "risks implying", which seems stupid; I used the passive "implies", and the WSJ made it even more passive. There is no doubt the essay states that the author's theology is the only correct theology; I could have been more insistent (see below). The essay equates same-sex couples with (criminal) pederasts, but I am OK with the modifications. The WSJ strengthened my comment about my salvation.

In my opinion now, the original essay and the Journal's headline in capital letters above are not part of a polite quarrel. The essay believes I need to get in line with Christian orthodoxy and tradition because the writer believes I will otherwise go to hell (whatever that is), and the Journal published the essay because the editor believes it is hell that we Christians argue about. It's a stupid, offensive argument, but I would not have had the letter published if I been that scathing.

Theology changes because we change. I could believe "God" (not defined here) does not change, but I change, and my relationship with God changes. My salvation is safe, and the essay's author is stuck in the 18th century. The author's salvation is up to the author and God, and the essay did not help anyone else.

Bottom line?

There is no hope for Christian unification between the Roman Catholic Church, Protestant denominations and Eastern (orthodox) denominations because the RC Church believes the others are not actually Christian. As far as the RCs are concerned, only RCs can call themselves Christian. Everyone else is not simply "non-Christian" (who might actually receive some mercy from God in the end), they (the non-RC Christians) are liars who must either repent (become RC) or be damned for eternity for committing the sin of falsely claiming to be Christian. Yes, that's what it's like when discussing Christianity with an RC.

As a result, an RC won't discuss Scripture with a Protestant because the Protestant is not Christian, which is the basis for how the original essay was written. The essay author wants everyone to accept traditional Christian theology because that would make us all RC.

14 May 2024

What does the Good News sound like?

What does the Good News sound like?

Luke 2 verses 13-14:
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

But let us also listen to our hearts.

English philosopher R.G. Collingwood wrote, "Artists must prophesy not in the sense that they foretell things to come, but in the sense that they tell their audiences, at the risk of their displeasure, the secrets of their hearts."

Psalm 44 verses 20-21 have something to say about these secrets:
If we had forgotten the name of our God,
or spread out our hands to a strange god,
would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.

Jesus said to his disciples who would find themselves in the midst of wolves, Matthew 10 verse 26: "So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known."

Let us pray to the Lord then, that our faith and work may plant marvelous seeds in our hearts, at first secret! Then, we can pray that the glorious artwork that is God's creation will cause those secrets to burst forth into the world, because again, what does the Good News sound like? It is the sound of all hearts bursting forth together with love for God and each other.

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