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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Monday, November 20, 2023

The Book of Romans and Hebrews


The Books of Romans and Hebrews


Patrick Prescott


I’m a retired history/English public middle school and high school teacher. I’m not a biblical scholar. I was a lifelong Baptist, growing up in the church and have studied the Bible in Sunday School from childhood up today where I still attend a bible study class and teach one on Tuesdays. Only now in a Methodist church.

 Having lived through the takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention by the moral mafia that the SBC left me not me them. Their trying to control all believers into hating all who are different and the strict conformity of the Ten Commandments and other Levitical laws, cherry picked while discarding others that has destroyed the message of loving thy neighbor into hating the neighbor who is different.

The Methodist church I attend is an affirming church, we practice inclusion. On the wall of the sanctuary is a large rainbow. We allow worship to all regardless of race, creed, culture, or lifestyle. We have a float for the Gay Pride parade every year and a booth at the pavilion. We actively reach out in love to our neighbors.  The former pastor who began the church as inclusion has a brother who is living with a man. Our current woman pastor has a sister living with a woman. Many in the congregation have loved ones who live an alternate lifestyle and sill love them and affirm them as human beings.

For the past few years, the United Methodists have been splitting over this issue of affirming and inclusion. It seems a number of bishops are women and now openly in same sex relationships. 

There is a Book of Discipline, that is thicker than the Bible, and it forbids women pastors and homosexuality, but a previous convention voted to not uphold both of those prohibitions allowing women in the pulpit and leadership positions. A coming convention is expected to delete those prohibitions. The fireworks will surely ignite the skies over that city.

I teach a bible study class on Tuesday mornings, and it is comprised of a few men around my age some a few years younger most are older only one is not retired.

In my bible study class, some of the members are certified lay ministers or working on becoming one. I’ve looked into going through the training for CLM, but I’m too Baptist to wholeheartedly believe the liturgy that is handed down from the Church of England and copied from the Catholic Church. My beliefs are still those of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message, though the moral mafia changed it to fit their agenda once they had control of the convention.

We’ve had much discussion the past year over the division affecting the United Methodists concerning the division over alternate lifestyles. I find using the alphabet soup for all the different groups distracting, so I’m lumping them all together as alternate lifestyles. I mean no offense.

The basis of our church choosing inclusion and affirmation of those with a different lifestyle as members of our congregation is Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 5:43, Luke 10.29, and Galatians 5:14. Summed up, Love God, love your neighbor as yourself.

John 3:16-17 reads, whoever or KJV “whosoever” believes will have everlasting life, and then in verse 17 says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” (NASV)

Doesn’t “whosoever” mean everyone? Even those with an alternate lifestyle? Doesn't it also mean that Jesus didn't come to condemn them for what they are, but to save them too?

In our group, we call ourselves “The Wild Bunch,” About as wild as a toothless and declawed tabby, but we like the name.

What we are all agreed on is that the biggest difference between those who are choosing to stay United Methodists and those leaving is we accept everyone with love as Jesus commanded us. 

We include them in our worship, they exclude. We love, they condemn. We choose to forgive them as we have been forgiven our sins. They say they hate the sin, but love the sinner, but that’s impossible if you won’t include them as sinners the same as those churches include the angry (same as murder) and lust (same as adultery). They want to pick and choose which sin is okay and which isn’t.

They use the Ten Commandments as a hammer and the book of Leviticus an anvil to bully anyone who doesn’t think and act like them rejecting them within their fellowship.

There is one member of our group who loves to point out the fallacy of their reasoning. He cites all the laws in Leviticus that we don’t follow and then asks why don’t we follow them if we have to follow the others? 

Here are my thoughts on those questions.

There are two books in the New Testament that explain the difference between the Old Covenant or contract and the New Covenant or contract: Romans and Hebrews.

Dan Fowler has a post in Backyard Church from August 2023: Romans Explained, that is enlightening.

His explanation concerns “Prosopopeia” A debate style where you give one side’s view and then argue how it is wrong and your view is the right one. The whole book is written in this style, so don't go quoting one passage and say it's what God said, without putting it into context. It's written debate.

Example in Romans Ch. 1 Paul lists the sins of the gentiles quite detailed on their immorality, then in Ch. 2 he lists how the Jews don’t measure up to God’s standard. He condemns both gentiles and Jews as not worthy of salvation. The moral mafia somehow forgets Ch. 2. Maybe because it refutes their insistence, we follow Mosaic law and want to impose it on the whole country. 

In Ch. 3 Paul refutes this argument vs 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His Grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;…

Guess what everything Paul said about the sins of Gentiles and Jews is forgiven (justified) through God’s grace.

Later in Romans Paul elaborates on justification of faith and that there is now no condemnation. If the moral mafia would stop cherry picking what they like concerning the vices of Greeks and Romans and actually read the message of Paul’s writing the world would be a much happier place.

There is not much more for me to say about Romans that Dan Fowler hasn’t already said. This brings me to the importance of the Book of Hebrews.

That will be in my second installment.


Yogi♪♪♪ said...

We were Methodists for years but quit going well before Covid. We loved the church we attended but the homophobia got worse and worse and then they opted out of UMC and joined some sort of Wesley organization. We haven't been since but I follow them on Instagram and they do seem for legalistic and exclusionary even while the profess love for everyone.

I'm for an inclusionary church. So we'll just have to see what happens.

P M Prescott said...

Cities seem to have some. Rural, not so much. Not too sure about Oklahoma. It's a shame.