Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Jorgensen Catechism

I wrote what is below for my children and for their children but I realized that I wanted anyone to use it who wanted to use it.  I hope it is helpful.  More will follow.


There is an old saying that goes something like this, “What was once a man’s conviction becomes his sons habit, which then becoming his grandsons throwaway.”  The point of the saying is that if a conviction is not passed on as a conviction it will eventually fade away from a family.  Having grown up within a nominal Roman Catholic heritage I became familiar with liturgical Christian worship but it was never a conviction of mine.  With your grandparents having died before they could pass much on to me I was at a disadvantage to understand why my father chose to convert to Roman Catholicism, the faith in which my mother was raised.  When I understood and accepted the gospel as an 18 year old I reasoned that since I did not find a relationship with Jesus in the Roman Catholic Church that I could find him in Protestant churches.  I have worshipped in charismatic churches, Baptist churches, Presbyterian churches, Methodist churches and Lutheran churches.  None of them were as meaningful to me and as helpful to me as what is called the “Anglican Way”.  The greatest revelation I have had in experiencing different forms of Christian worship is that followers of Jesus are not to worship as they prefer but as God would prefer.  And God has a preference on how He would like to be worshipped.  Below is a catechism of sorts that I am passing along to you so that, if you so choose, what is my conviction would become your conviction.  It is a beginning point.  

Why do we practice “formal” (liturgical) worship when we worship corporately?

There are many examples in the Bible of God rejecting people’s worship.  The worship of Cain and the worship of Eli’s sons first come to mind.  That means that God has standards.  He first reveals what His standards are when He calls Israel to corporately worship Him (see Exodus 24).  Those standards include the reading of God’s Word, the people responding in unison and the eating of a meal.  The Book of Common Prayer follows those standards while also using standards practiced in Temple and synagogue worship.

Why do we read formal prayers?  Are not extemporaneous prayers more “heart felt”?

Our formal prayers use the wording of Holy Scripture because we believe it is best to pray God’s Words back to Him for His Words are holy and infallible and ours are not.  While Book of Common Prayer worship does not forbid extemporaneous prayers and we are free to add them to our worship, we believe that read prayers are more theologically careful and can become very heart felt. 

Does not stating the same prayers over and over again cause them to become robotic rather than truly understood and believed?

While it is true that the things we do on a regular basis are susceptible to becoming so routine that we fail to pay close attention to what we are saying, we see such a possibility as a heart issue and not caused by the prayers, chants and recitations themselves.  It is the responsibility of every Christian who worships to keep attentive and focused on what is being prayed, sung or confessed. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

All Aboard the Trump Train!

How to Stop the Trump Train!

Christian leaders have spoken out against the nomination of Donald Trump as Republican representative for the White House.  Baptist Russel Moore has been outspoken against Trump on social media for several months.  Presbyterian Doug Wilson has recently posted a blog that outlines his disdain for Donald.  And then there are Christian leaders who have openly supported Trump.  Endorsements have come from men such as Baptist Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Baptist Robert Jeffress.  So what should an American Christian do?  If Trump wins the nomination, which is very likely after yesterday, and he is put up against Hillary Clinton, which way should a Christian vote?  Should Christians sit out or vote for a third or fourth or fifth party candidate so as to assure another Clinton in the White House? 

While I tire of blogs and articles that claim a more objective pose than everyone else, here is mine in all of this.  Donald Trump is a populace candidate.  Nothing unearthed there.  The people that like him like his bombastic ways and temperament because it is their own when it comes to expressing how they feel about the federal government.  They are weary of politicians who don’t do as they promised when they were trying to get elected.  And they are angry for little annoying things like not being able to speak stereotypical language without being considered a racist or homo/bi/transphobe.  They are tired of not being able to say “Merry Christmas.”  They are tired of being forced to pay the way for illegal immigrants and the willfully unemployed and not be defended or protected physically and financially by their own government.  Trump is a product of all of this being tired and angry business.  He has said what few if any have said that is against what is tiresome and maddening.  This diagnosis has been spoken by many others but this next question has not.  Who is responsible for what much of the populace is angry about?  Did you say the liberals?  Well, yes, ok the liberals.  But who is responsible for the liberals?  The devil?  Well, yes and no.  What Christians need to look at and acknowledge and then confess as sin to the Lord is how they are complicit in either supporting or ignoring that which has made the populace angry and thus that which made Donald Trump the likely Republican nominee as the next POTUS. 

While baptistic Christianity dominates the American landscape in Church attendance every Sunday so does the baptistic view that what is most important in the Christian life is a “Jesus and me only” mentality that leaves the Church (note the capital “C”) unnecessary and thus incapable of having a necessary voice to society that speaks out against unjust and immoral government practices and the amoral that poses as entertainment in our society.  Added to this “Jesus and Me only” mentality in the poor eschatology of many independent Christians who understand the world to be inevitably getting worse so that the “rapture” can take place and all of the real Christians (those baptized by immersion at the age of consent) can be off to heaven and leave the rest to find out just how bad a society can get when the Christians are gone. 

And then there are the postmillennial Christians who spend too much of their time wondering whether a woman should serve as a manager over a convenience store if she has male workers as subordinates and also should a male even apply at such a store if the manager is a woman.  If you have not read these type of articles I assure you I am not exaggerating.  The conversation seems to think that to usher in the Kingdom of God you have to pretend that people have been converted before they are actually converted.  They want to consider how a Christian society should be run before you have a Christian society.  And thus while the Church is doing the real important theological work of deciding whether marriages should be complimentary and a patriarchy (read sarcastically) the Holy Spirit has already said Husbands love, wives submit, children obey.  He then wants us to get on with the true Kingdom business of preaching the gospel and being salt and light to the world.

And then there are the liberals and lukewarm who either actually don’t believe any of what Christianity historically professes or don’t think what is believed has any power.  To them we can only repeat, “I wish you were hot or cold.” 

I have heard Christians say recently, because of these primary elections, that we need to pray for God’s mercy for our country.  I have also heard Christians once again pull out God’s promises to Israel as if they are promises to America with the confidence that if we will humble our selves and pray that God will heal our land.  All of is believed while we continue to slaughter babies in the wombs of their mothers and bless acts of sodomy.  The biblical truth is that we cannot consider asking for God’s mercy until we repent of our national sins.  We cannot humble ourselves without stopping the murder of the innocent unborn and the acceptance of perverted sexuality.  Such are not our only national sins, mind you, but they are our most egregious.  

If the Church preaches against such sins and disciplines to save God’s people from such sins, then we might have a united voice to say something to our culture about truth and finding hope.

Speak out all you want against Donald Trump Christian leaders.  Pretend that Romney was better, that McCain was better and so on.  To be sure, I would prefer Cruz, Rubio or Carson to Trump.  But that may not be a choice I get.  But come the general election I will vote for Trump as an opposition vote to Clinton and as a recognition that his popularity I was foolishly responsible for because I am a member of the Catholic/Universal Church.