I wonder if the "design committee" worried about individuals being offended when a speaker came to talk about "safe sex" and how to protect oneself from disease, not if, but when you have sex. Or is it now OK to promote all immorality? The term to accurately describe this social malady is the new understanding of "tolerance". Josh McDowell who speaks to many school groups each year, said it best: "The traditional definition of tolerance means simply to recognize and respect others' beliefs, practices, and so forth without necessarily agreeing or sympathizing with them. This attitude, that everyone has a right to his (or her) own opinion, is what tolerance means to most of us. But today's definition is vastly different. This new tolerance considers every individual's beliefs, values, and lifestyle and truth claims as equally valid. So not only does everyone have an equal right to his (or her) beliefs, but all beliefs are equal. The new tolerance goes beyond respecting a person's rights; it demands praise and endorsement of that person's beliefs, values and lifestyle."
McDowell goes on to say that one of the results of this social shift is "repression of public discourse". He talks about how in the past he was often "heckled by people saying such things as 'Prove it!' and 'I don't believe you'". But now they say things like "How dare you say that?" or "Who do you think you are?" He has become a victim to the system and he message of the transforming grace of Jesus Christ has become a message of intolerance. (McDowell, Josh TRUTH AND TOLERANCE found on page 7 in the FOCUS ON THE FAMILY magazine in the August 1999 edition.)
This social shift has also found its way into the church in many forms. It has even found its way into our understanding of salvation in subtle ways. In the book The Essential Truths (1997 Bristol House), one of the authors (seventeen prominent United Methodists donated chapters to the book) revealed this startling truth. A lectionary group was trying to help an ordination candidate by reading her answers to the questions found within the Book of Discipline which are part of the required writings to be before the Board of Ordained Ministry. To his surprise he discovered, by the person's own admission, that she did not have Jesus Christ as part of her theology. The person went on to be ordained anyway. So just how would this newly ordained minister respond when asked the question: "What must I do to be saved?" Some of the answers I have heard coming from other "progressive" ministers are things like: "Saved from what?" We have without knowing it accepted along side the concept of salvation through faith in Christ (which necessarily includes confession, repentance and forgiveness of sin) a new category. It is the category of "Salvation Through Acceptance". Within this new soteriology one must only accept everyone else's beliefs, values, lifestyle and truth claims as valid. The only offense is to find something in someone else's life that you think it sinful. In this system one doesn't talk about about sin, you embrace tolerance. So I guess that when there is no longer anyone around to point out and proclaim that something is sinful a state of Christian perfection must have been obtained. Because if nobody tells you its a sin, then it must be acceptable in God's eyes also. It is the difference between these two extreme viewpoints which I believe has caused the great United Methodist chasm which now exists.
As an elder, ordained in the Northern Indiana Conference, and now serving in Northern ILL-i-noise (lots of noise from those who are very ill), I WILL lift high the name of JESUS. In fact, I admire Duffy and heard him at one of our many continuing education events back home in Indiana. Of course, in this conference, I'm sure that Duffy would be as excluded as the Southern Baptists would have been to Chicago recently, if Sprague had his way. As for me and my house, we WILL serve the Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings, and Lord of all.... I will only stop preaching and praising the mighty name of Jesus when they pry my 38 from my cold hands, and it may come to that.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus, and kick some liberal butt in the UMC!
Rev. Jonathan Singleton
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