My Photo
Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Christian Carnival CXV

This week's Christian Carnival is up at The Secret Life of Gary.

Rev Ed at Attention Span continues his series on "what's wrong with church" by noting what's right with church. Some of what he says is controversial:

Paul writes extensively in Corinthians about the problems which occur when sinfulness becomes tolerated and even celebrated within the context of God's people. Steps to church discipline are laid out by Jesus Himself in Matthew 18, and the principle is clearly featured in Paul's first letter to the church at Corinth. We, as Christians, are actually supposed to boot people from our fellowship!

I'm sure you all have scenarios running through your minds about what would happen if the church were to cast out Old Lady Jenkins, the human gossip machine. You're imagining the fallout from disassociating Old Man Taylor, the shady businessman on the church board. I know this sounds drastic, but it is what Scripture tells us to do. And Paul tells us why in 1 Corinthians 5:5:

"Hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord."

I would be ejected myself if congregations really acted this way, as would about 2/3 of the rest of my church. None of us measure up -- that's why we need Christ's grace.

A number of the posts mark the annivesary of Terri Schiavo's death. Although I opposed the euthanizing of Schiavo, I chose not to participate in the blogburst surrounding the date of her feeding tube removal becuase there are other, more important, anniversaries I haven't honored in these pages, like that of the death of my Mom and it would be unseemly of me to pretend that the Schiavo matter was more important. I'll keep my thoughts on my Mom to myself for now. Nonetheless, here is a thoughtful treatment of the Schiavo matter from Carolingian Conservative:

Since the material conditions of our lives are ahistorical, but our fallen nature is still unchanged and the requirements of our God are unchanged – we face a set of ahistorical moral choices. I have been haunted over the last several years, as the the speed and quality of new material marvels increase, by Gen:3:21: 21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."

This haunts me because it seems that technology has taken us beyond (or is taking us or potentially will take us) beyond our finite capacity to make moral choices. Terri Shiavo is a manifestation of that, but so are many others. A moral world, a Christian world, would have rendered aid to Terri Shiavo, but absent the material capacity that is very recent – she would have died because we lacked to power to alter the ending of life in her case. Now, and increasingly and increasingly rapidly, we can.

This is not a Luddite rant or an argument for indifference – although I know that I will likely be accused of both – it is merely to know that with Terri Schiavo and all these other things that confront us – we are outside the pre-existing bounds of ethics – even Christian ethics. The moral choices we face are a moral terra incognita. I know several deeply Christian physicians, and they are very uneasy with this argument. For them, modern medicine is a gift from God that allows them to do good and to heal. I am not denying that or wishing or thinking that it would be better otherwise. But I do know that Christians are beginning to face an ever increasing number of moral choices that no other generation has faced before and must defend increasingly unpopular positions that seem to leave matters in God’s hands or not to violate His commandments regardless of the real benefits to others of doing otherwise.

Read the whole thing. It's hard to know where to come down on such issues.


Update 31 Mar 06: Rev Ed at the esteemed Attention Span clarifies his position:

Don't misunderstand, Monk. Read the context of Matthew 18 and of 1 Corinthians 5. This is for people who refuse to acknowledge the sinfulness of what they are doing, not for people who sin and ask forgiveness.

If 2/3 of your church will not acknowledge their sin as being sin, then the church has big problems.

Indeed. I think he is right; this is my understanding of the issue as well and I'm gratified he posted the clarification. That narrows things at my church to only a few, thankfully, but it's interesting that I can think of at least one couple who do meet Rev Ed's (and Paul's) criteria. Word of caution, of course: we all rationalize and may choose not to acknowledge sin as sin even to ourselves. Sometimes I envy the muslims: Life is so simple for them -- follow a few ritual rules and heaven is guaranteed; no moral ambiguity for them. Of course, then it just becomes religion and not a life of the Spirit.

Thanks Rev Ed.

<< Home