Posts Tagged ‘heresy’

The beginning of Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate is this Biblically erroneous statement:

LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.  This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.

First, a daughter could have sexual relations with her father and the progeny’s mother  would also be his/her sister.  I think this metaphor by Francis is mystical incest. Further, ‘she’ does not “sustain and govern us”.  If she did, then she is God.  This smacks of idolatry, very much akin to radical feminist theology and again an incestual deity.  

Second, in the Bible, the earth is neither mother nor sister, but God’s good creation as all people and animals, and that is enough reason to be faithful and careful stewards of creation.  The earth, being neither mother nor sister, can not ‘cry out’.  

Third, if the earth is our ‘mother’, it stands to reason that as our ‘mother’ she has begotten us to “embrace us”.  She has not.  My mother begot me, not the earth, as your mother gave you birth. The earth does not birth us. Even a stalwart Roman Catholic, G.K. Chesterton flat out wrote that nature is not our mother as this is pagan.  Yes, he wrote she is our sister insofar as we are in God’s creation together, but I do not want to stretch any non-Biblical metaphor. I think we should be wary of such metaphors. The Pope’s statement is pagan mythology which flies in the face of the summation of Biblical doctrine in the first article of the Creed:  “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”  We are made by God, not begotten from neither God nor His earth, only the Son is begotten from God. 

Fourth, “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth…” (emphasis my own).  God’s good earth, as His Mother the Virgin Mary,  does not intercede and mediate  for us in  heaven. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…” 1 Timothy 2: 5

There is something worse than man-made climate change and that is man-made doctrinal change. Heresy can make life hotter than hell, and it is usually well-intentioned.  For what follows in this encyclical, I have not read, but this is the wrong start and wrong beginnings can lead to bad conclusions. 

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It has not been widely reported that the French satirical magazine, “Charlie Hebdo” has also published offensive cartoons about Christianity.  One in particular is lurid and can be found here.  This is their equivalency for the cartoons about Mohammed.  They are against all and any religion.  We should be shocked but the difference is that Christians did not surround Hebdo offices and  killed the writers. As Anthony Sacramone  wrote in his acute observations about this satirical magazine:

There is no right not to be offended, a lesson many in the United States have yet to learn. But there is a right to be offended,  nevertheless,  whether by ideas that do not reflect back to you a precious self-conception or by sloppy or creepy satire. But ideas you find wanting should be countered with better ideas, and sloppy or creepy satire, especially sloppy or creepy satire, should be met with better and more pointed satire. Not with violence, not with threats of violence, and not with threats to one’s livelihood.

 My goal, though, in this article is not to  reiterate the many keen observations about this sad event, and build upon them, but it is historical on nature.

In looking at the Hebdo anti-Christian cartoon the other evening,  I remembered another cartoon, actually a graffito.  This 3rd century graffito was found in the ruins of a soldiers’ room in a building used for training  imperial guards, on the Palatine Hill, in Rome.  It shows a man in front of a crucified man with the head of jackass and the inscription reads:  “Alexamenos worships his god”.

This graffito clearly indicates the historical veracity of Christ’s crucifixion, and continuing from the Lord’s Cross and Resurrection, His crucifixion was central for Christians, as the Apostle Paul wrote a 2 centuries  before this cartoon:  “We preach Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 1: 23).  Alexamenos had heard this Gospel and came to faith by the work of the Holy Spirit and he was mocked for worshiping this crucified god.   I find this graffito as crude and offensive as the Charlie Hebdo cartoon which  depicts the God who is love, as perverted love. Obviously, the graffito’s  artist is mocking Alexamenos’ faith for laughs, as is part of the intent of the French 21st century cartoonist.  

I came across a research paper on this graffito and it will be the basis of this historical article which is worth the read in its entirety:  The Palatine Graffito: A Mimic Interpretation” by L. L. Welborn (Fordham University,  Macquarie University”  All the quotes, unless otherwise indicated, are from this paper.

First:  In the second century, the Roman Empire was severely persecuting Christians.  It is known that there were many Roman soldiers who were Christians.  In a persecution of this magnitude, a Roman Christian soldier would have been one of the first to be singled out and mocked…maybe more.  Alexamenos was probably such a soldier and a Christian.  

Secondly,it was also quite common to denigrate people by comparing them to a jackass. especially, “… the ass-man was a theme featured in ancient mimes.” This is still prevalent today as in the slur, You’re nothing but a jackass.

Thirdly, extant plays and writings of that time have the theme mocking Christians and their practices and belief, even the  crucifixion of Christ or of crucifixion in general for its comedic possibilities, especially in mime theater.

“…“the Christian” became the newest type of the mimic fool upon the popular stage. Gregory of Nazianzus complains: “The Christians now serve as a theater-act, not before angels and men, as Paul did, but before the lowest level of the populace.”26 Christian baptism was a favorite subject of ridicule in the mime, as we learn from the Martyrdom of Porphyrius.”  (Note:  Gregory of Nazianzus was one of the Church Fathers)

“The soldier who sketched the Palatine graffito had probably seen such mimes, and had seen Christians, if not Christ himself, upon a stage-cross”

In one such play a known actor  Genesius, a mime, a pagan,  confessed his faith in Jesus Christ  in a play mocking the Christian faith!  He was eventually horribly tortured and killed.

 The  depiction of crucifixion upon the stage was not specific to the persecution of Christianity in that time period of the Empire. Rather, the crucifixion was a well-established subject of the mime. Evidently, in one such popular  1st century play, Laureolus, about the crucifixion of a runaway slave who becomes the leader of a band of thieves, acted on stage, the Jewish historian Josephus reports,

““a great quantity of artificial blood flowed down from the one crucified.”

In one production of this play,

” Suetonius notes that the performance was immediately followed by a humorous afterpiece in which “several mimic fools so vied with one another in giving evidence of their proficiency at dying that the stage swam in blood.”

Again, this was done for laughs.  Wellborn then has some interesting speculations about the reason for such gallows humor.  And he concluded that the graffito’s artist and Alexamenos’ fellow soldier, was doing this as well for laughs: a crucified god, indeed!

Prof. Wellborn concludes his paper and I quote it, almost in full, because it is cogent and powerful in the discussion about the mocking of the Christian faith in our day as we see in Charlie Hebdo and around the world (emphases my own):

The crucifixion of an unfortunate fool, one who was socially inferior or physically defective, was a welcome reminder of what it was like to be a fully human part of society, and thus invulnerable to such cruel punishment. For such persons as our imperial guard, the representation of the crucifixion of a misfit in an artistic medium, such as a graffito or the mime, must have been especially pleasurable…

Our conclusion with respect to the Palatine graffito may take the form of an argument a minori ad maius (note: “from the lesser to the greater): if the crucifixion of a slave or a poor man provoked humor, for the reasons given above, then how much more the faith in a crucified god. That one who had suffered the death of a slave and had experienced the extreme limit of human misery, an ass-man, should be worshipped as a god—this was surely the purest folly! That a piece of human trash, one of those whom life had demolished, should be hailed as “god”—was the most laughable scenario imaginable.

Thus, in the Palatine graffito, the central mystery of the Christian faith is parodied as a scene from the mime, in which the crucified god of the Christians is mocked as a grotesque, much-slapped ass.

Then Professor Wellborn asks an important question:

And what of that central mystery—the message about the cross—and its appeal to Alexamenos? On the principle that an effective parody must always preserve the thing parodied, may we venture to ask why Alexamenos worships a crucified figure with an ass’s head as his god? In the mime, and in other literature written from “the grotesque perspective,” we discover that the fate of the fool is the source of a “laughter of liberation”…The fool in the mime is ugly, deformed, and beaten. Yet, for the common people who delighted in the mime, the fool was a locus of value and meaning.  This psycho-social dynamic explains the extraordinary popularity of the Laureolus mime (Note:  the 1st century mime, I talked about above) , in which a runaway slave was crucified on stage.

Alexamenos’ faith in a crucified god builds upon this dynamic and supersedes it. In the message that the Son of God had died the contemptible death of a fool, a little man like Alexamenos heard that he had been “chosen” by God. Paul explained the mysterious “calling” of the crucified God two centuries before Alexamenos believed:

“Consider your calling, brothers and sisters, that not many of you were wise in a human sense, not many powerful, not many well-born; but God chose the foolish of the world,…and God chose the weak of the world,… and God chose the low-born of the world and the despised, mere nothings” (1 Cor. 1:26-28).

Or, to put it the other way around, the message that a piece of human garbage, a half-man and half-ass, one of those whom life had demolished, and who had touched bottom, has been vindicated by God and is now “the Lord of glory”—this message was a power capable of rescuing those who trusted in it from despair over the nothingness of their lives. So that, even if they live in the shadow of the cross and die a bit every day, and even if the cross should be their tomb, as it was  of their fathers and grandfathers, even there life would have value and meaning, because the One who died in this contemptible way was the Son of God.”

He still is the Son of God.  Alexamenos knew by faith that Jesus is Lord.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit and so it was for Alexamenos to hang in there.  I think the Hebdo cartoon above  depicts that it is laughable for a god to so  love that His love is poured out through His beloved Son for us all for a people as contemptible as Alexamenos, the graffito artist, you and me. 

In a Roman age as our own, when love is so perverted, a cartoonist makes fun of that love by the only love he knows, perverted love, though he would defend that perverted ‘love’ and its expression,  anal intercourse as a secular sacred right.

In an article in the 1/10-1/11, 2015 Weekend Wall Street Journal, “The Mocking Tradition Behind Charlie Hebdo”,  the writer, Dr. Weber, professor of French at Barnard College,  points out that in France the mocking of Christianity beginning with the philosophes, such as Voltaire, has a long pedigree.  She thinks that this 500 years of French anti-clericalism, anti-Catholicism and anti-religion of any of sort (especially Judaism), the desired result has been,

“…Catholicism has finally become “banalized” (that is, lost its status as a taboo subject), in a neologism coined by Charb himself (note: the murdered editor of CharlieHebdo) in 2012. He went on to say, “We have to keep at until Islam is as banalized as Catholicism.”  

In other words, it’s open season on any religion, but Charb got it wrong. “Banal” means  “lacking force or originality; trite; common place”. For a faith that is trite and unoriginal he sure kept going after  Catholicism and Christianity.  As a Christian and a pastor, let Charb’s followers continue on. It’s been going on since a soldier scraped into a stone wall a crude drawing mocking Alexamenos’ faith.   The faith has lasted and so will the mocking.  Did not our Lord say that His Church built upon the Rock will last and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it?  Did He not say we would be maligned, persecuted, and even martyred?  As Lutheran Satire put it (probably by Pr. Hans Fiene):  

“When the devil is mocked, he sheds the blood of the mockers. When God was mocked, He shed His blood on the mockers.”

I wonder what Alexamenos did when he may have found out who did the graffito…he probably did not burn out his home, killing his family,  nor kill his fellow soldier.  Not even hit him because Jesus said to turn the other cheek.  I would guess he prayed for his fellow soldier because Jesus said pray for your enemies, and He did so from the Cross that would be mocked…right there at the foot of His Cross, see St. Matthew 27:  39ff.

A Facebook friend, Dave Carlin, pointed out that in the Roman Catholic Church in the ’50s, they would end every Mass with a prayer for the conversion of Russia.  Maybe we should be so praying for the conversion of Islamic nations, for the neo-pagan European nations…and our own.


1. Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide,
For round us falls the eventide;
Nor let Thy Word, that heavenly light,
For us be ever veiled in night.

2. In these last days of sore distress
Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness
That pure we keep, till life is spent,
Thy holy Word and Sacrament.

3. Lord Jesus, help, Thy Church uphold,
For we are sluggish, thoughtless, cold.
Oh, prosper well Thy Word of grace
And spread its truth in every place!

4. Oh, keep us in Thy Word, we pray;
The guile and rage of Satan stay!
Oh, may Thy mercy never cease!
Give concord, patience, courage, peace.

5. O God, how sin’s dread works abound!
Throughout the earth no rest is found,
And falsehood’s spirit wide has spread,
And error boldly rears its head.

6. The haughty spirits, Lord, restrain
Who o’er Thy Church with might would reign
And always set forth something new,
Devised to change Thy doctrine true.

7. And since the cause and glory, Lord,
Are Thine, not ours, to us afford
Thy help and strength and constancy.
With all our heart we trust in Thee.

8. A trusty weapon is Thy Word,
Thy Church’s buckler, shield and sword.
Oh, let us in its power confide
That we may seek no other guide!

9. Oh, grant that in Thy holy Word
We here may live and die, dear Lord;
And when our journey endeth here,
Receive us into glory there.

“Lord Jesus Christ, With Us Abide”
by Nikolaus Selnecker, 1532-1592
Translated by composite

The Lutheran Hymnal
Hymn #292

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“Glorious is God with His saints and angels: Oh, come let us worship Him.”

Almighty God, we praise Your Name for Ignatius of Antioch, pastor and martyr.  He offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts so that he might present to You the pure bread of sacrifice.  Accept the willing tribute of all that we are and all that we have, and give us a portion in the pure and unspotted offering of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About Ignatius: He was the bishop of Antioch in Syria at the beginning of the second century A.D. and an early Christian martyr. Near the end of the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan (98–117), Ignatius was arrested, taken in chains to Rome, and eventually thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. On the way to Rome, he wrote letters to the Christians at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna, and also to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. In the letters, which are beautifully pastoral in tone, Ignatius warned against certain heresies (false teachings). He also repeatedly stressed the full humanity and deity of Christ, the reality of Christ’s bodily presence in the Lord’s Supper, the supreme authority of the bishop, and the unity of the Church found in her bishops. Ignatius was the first to use the word catholic to describe the universality of the Church. His Christ-centeredness, his courage in the face of martyrdom, and his zeal for the truth over against false doctrine are a lasting legacy to the Church.  (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

The Apostle Paul was probably martyred between A.D. 64-67.  Ignatius became the 2nd Bishop of Antioch in A.D. 69.   Antioch was the city from which Paul and Barnabas began their great missionary journey as recorded in Acts 13-14.  Ignatius is a direct link to the apostles and the apostolic doctrine.  (information from The Apostolic Fathers, edited by Jack Sparks)

Some have written that Christian doctrine evolved from the original sayings of Jesus  into the Christianity we have today. But given the chronological proximity of Ignatius to the Apostolic era, this can not be so and especially when we read his letters.  In them,  it is clear that Ignatius and the earlier Church were continuing the apostolic doctrine as taught verbatim by Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, as  the continuation and fulfilment of the Old Testament.


One of first great crises of the earlier Church was when the last of the 12 Apostles died.  Who could ever replace them?  Already the Lord provided the answer: bishops.   When I hear the word “bishop”, visions of churchly finery come to mind:  croziers, mitres, elaborate vestments and the like.  Not in the 1st  century nor for next 2-3 centuries!  Bishop is the word used  to translate  the New Testament Greek:  episcopos which means “overseer”, one who provides oversight to the doctrine and faith of the congregation.  An “episcopos” preached and administered the Sacraments which means a bishop is  a pastor.  He presided at the Table of the Lord.

In the Roman Empire, there were many gods and goddesses and their temples and shrines were massive and impressive and they held elaborate and overwhelming services in them.  A Christian episcopos presided over a simple meal of  bread and wine, announcing this is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  He preached the Word of Law and Gospel to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted.  Nothing outwardly impressive, yet by such the Lord spread His Word as He had promised He would “to the ends of the earth”.   The Word of Jesus Christ was so spread against overwhelming odds without gimmicks, strategies, mission models, massive denomination budgets, etc.  (insight courtesy of Rev. Prof. Hermann Sasse)

For Ignatius the central  aspect of the Church was unity with the bishop, the pastor in the preaching and teaching of the Scripture and administration of the Sacraments, according to the Apostolic Doctrine set forth in the Holy Scriptures.:

“…it is fitting for you  run your race together with the bishop’s purpose–as you do.  For your presbytery–worthy of fame, worthy of God–is attuned to the bishop  like strings to a lyre.  Therefore by your unity and harmonious love Jesus Christ is sung.”

The episcopos was to give oversight but not to overlook false doctrine.  Case in point:   Ignatius warns the Church in Smyrna about  the docetists. ‘Docetist’  means ‘appearance’ and they said that Jesus only appeared to be a man but was only God  and so they changed the clear meaning of Scripture and they denied the Body and the Blood. And so Ignatius warns the Smyrnaens about them and their teaching on Holy Communion:

“They abstain from Eucharist and prayer because they do not acknowledge that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins, which the Father raised by his goodness. Those who deny God’s gift are dying in their squabbles; it would be better for them to love so that they may rise. It is fitting to keep away from such men and not to speak about them either privately or publicly, but to pay attention to the prophets and especially to the Gospel, in which the passion has been explained to us and the resurrection has been accomplished. Flee from divisions as the beginning of evils.”

What is the Biblical and evangelical understanding of the Lord’s Supper in relation to our lives and souls in His Church?

“Be eager, therefore, to use one Eucharist–for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup for union with the blood (cf. 1 Cor. 10: 16), one sanctuary, as there is one bishop, together with the presbytery and the deacons my fellow slaves–so that whatever you, you do in relation to God (cf. 1 Cor. 10: 31;  Col. 3: 17)

Furthermore, the docetists believed Jesus was purely “spiritual” and He could not give us His Body and Blood.  Using an oft-used phrase in our day, they were not religious but ‘spiritual’. Sound familiar? Maybe Ignatius was too negative?  Maybe he should have ‘dialogued’ with them and formed a Bishop’s Study Task Force of Ecumenical Dialogue with Docetism?  Of course not.  Ignatius did a pastor’s work.   The heretics are actually the ones who want Christian doctrine to ‘evolve’, actually devolve into something totally different and more to their liking and their flesh and so it is no longer saving doctrine. It is as old as Israel finding more suitable deities in the Baals.   This is the devil’s work.   The only conversation is to warn and  the call to repentance and the true Faith, clinging to Jesus Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father in His Church. As Ignatius wrote to the  Magnesians:

As, then, the Lord did nothing apart from the Father [cf. John 5:19; 8:28], either by himself or through the apostles, since he was united with him [cf. John 10:30; 17:11,21,22], so you must do nothing apart from the bishop and the presbyters. Do not try to make anything appear praiseworthy by yourselves, but let there be in common one prayer, one petition, one mind, one hope in love, in blameless joy—which is Jesus Christ, than whom nothing is better [cf. John 10:16; Eph. 4:3-6]. 2. All of you must run together as to one temple of God, as to one sanctuary, to one Jesus Christ, who proceeded from the one Father and is with the one and departed to the one [cf. John 8:42;14:12,28; 16:10,17

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“The glory of God is man fully alive.”

 Bio:  Irenaeus (ca. AD 130-200), believed to be a native of Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey), studied in Rome and later became pastor in Lyons, France. Around 177, while Irenaeus was away from Lyons, a fierce persecution of Christians led to the martyrdom of his bishop. Upon Irenaeus’ return, he became Bishop of Lyons. Among his most famous writings is Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies). This work condemned several errors but focused especially on Gnosticism, which denied the goodness of creation. In opposition, Irenaeus confessed that God has redeemed his creation through the incarnation of the Son. Irenaeus also affirmed the teachings of the Scriptures handed down to and through him as being normative for the Church. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer/CPH)

Reflection:  In the reading selected for this commemoration in  The Treasury of Daily Prayer, St. Irenaeus wrote regarding the heresies of his day and the truth of Scripture:

For error is plausible and bears a resemblance to the truth but requires to be disguised;  while truth is without disguise and, therefore, has been entrusted to children.

The shocking part of that quote is that the truth has “…has been entrusted to children”!  Not to the adults, not to the learned, not to theologians.  This is keeping with our Lord Jesus Christ who said,

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.    St.Matthew 11


2And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.   St. Matthew 18

One of my favorite theologians is my wife.  She once commented that adults like to think in terms of “moral grays”, a child does not:  it is either right or wrong.  It is that way with the Gospel:   a child gets it. I have done wrong, God is great, He loved us upon the cross.    Creation is good.  I have done wrong.   We are forgiven. This is truth without disguise.  The Father reveals His love to children not the “learned and the wise”. Jesus Himself entrusts it to children:  even if the child is 100! It is in keeping with Irenaeus and his love of Scripture is the lyrics of the old Sunday School song:

Jesus loves me! This I know,  For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to Him belong, They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! He who died, Heaven’s gate to open wide; He will wash away my sin, Let His little child come in. Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.

 Yet, the undisguised truth of God’s Word has so much that even the most able minds can not understand it all.  In Irenaeus’ day there were the Gnostics who said creation is evil, spirituality is good. Plausible…except it is not the Scripture:  see Genesis 1! See Jesus Christ:  God became FLESH, His own creation!  It is the heretics, who have a enough of God’s own truth, to disguise and then complicate the truth of God’s own Word, now looking themselves and a ‘superior’ spirituality.  It looks good but it is a wolf disguised in sheep’s clothing (see Matthew 7:15).  Beware,  said faithful pastors like Irenaeus.  Irenaeus also famously said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”  How?  Answer:  Jesus loves me.  Upon Him, the solid rock, we can grow and be edified, built-up by the Holy Spirit.  A child can get it and it is entrusted to His children of all ages and for all the ages until He comes again.

Almighty God, You upheld your servant Irenaeus, giving him strength to confess the truth against every blast of vain doctrine.   By Your mercy, keep us steadfast in the true faith, that in constancy we may walk in peace on the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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A Cartoon

A few Sundays ago, the Old Testament reading were selected verses from Leviticus 18-19, specifically Leviticus 18:1-5;19:9-18 ending with “…but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” because the Gospel was The Parable of the Good Samaritan. At that time I blogged an article by the editor of Touchstone magazine about Leviticus 18.  As the Israelites were to cross over into the promised land, they were crossing over into a new way of life and living and they were not to do as the people there, in particular in regards to marriage and  sexual immorality: see chapter 18.  These chapters are called the “holiness code”.  The refrain is “I am the Lord” and the theme verse is:

 Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Leviticus 19: 2

Many verses in Leviticus are dismissed by liberal Biblical scholars because of 18: 22: 

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 

They surmise it is  a time-conditioned way of thinking which we have gone beyond now with same-sex pseudogamy,  even to the point they say, “the Spirit has shown us a new way”:

But in chapter 19, those same scholars in the Liberal Protestant Church, love Leviticus 19: 9:

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest.”

This is the Lord’s way of helping the poor.  Do not be so greedy to get every grain but leave some for the needy. Why is this verse liked?  It’s about ‘social justice’ and care for the poor.  I believe it is meet, right and so to do and so is Leviticus 18: 22.

So it has come down to this:  conservatives are about “personal morality” and liberals “social morality”.  But note that in Leviticus the Lord’s imprimatur is on both ‘personal’ and ‘social’ morality, as He said, “I am the Lord”.  “Personal” and “social” morality are not different categories in Leviticus. The Lord’s moral code is indivisible.  Neither should  man lie with man as with a woman and neither  curse the deaf  nor rearrange the furniture on a blind person, see Leviticus 19:14.  Now I do not understand many of these verses in these chapters,  but  all these verses are together and so speak to the fact that we select morality to fit what we want. (BTW:  I would then throw away most of the Bible!)  The Lord’s moral code fits the man to His way of living which is life, what He commands, not the other way around.  But we don’t fit into His way of living (more on that in a bit).  

Next it teaches that love is  holy.  Secular/atheistic society has divorced love from holiness.  It is not divorced in God’s holy Word.  In a  similar vein to the division of morality is the saying. “Conservatives are about the truth and liberals love”.  Once that move is made, that love has nothing to do with the truth, then the way is open to license or legalism.    The word heresy comes from a Greek word, haeresis, meaning choice. The ‘sovereign’ self, the god who dies, chooses “social” or “personal” morality.  It is moral heresy.  Then we love in Scripture only that which is agreeable to me, the same (“homo”). This is at the very least intellectually dishonest because the Lord addresses the whole man and woman, the whole of our societies and the whole of our world.  

As I was writing this, our weekly town newspaper came on Wednesday in our college town.  It is a liberal paper.  There is a new columnist to write on things religious and sure enough the article is entitled, “The Bible Buffet”.  The author begins by citing by name conservative theological and political commentators decrying the Supreme Court decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act as risking God’s judgment.  The author cites…Leviticus!  Almost on cue for this posting.  He cites the dietary laws in Leviticus 11 as basically primitive so why not Leviticus 18: 22 regarding homosexuality.  His conclusion  is really his beginning premise:

“The Bible has always been a smorgasbord, with all its believers choosing what to include and exclude in their faith (he then cites  Christian denominations as a kind of a ‘proof’ of this)…We are free to take, or not, on an individual basis, the things in the Bible we think are important to follow in our lives.

This article demonstrates my assertion of “moral heresy”.  The author further asserts that Christian church bodies exclude Bible passages.  Those church bodies  who believe the Bible is the inerrant and faithful Word of God, do not “exclude” Scripture verses but interpret them differently.  Interpretation and exclusion are not the same, but it is the liberal, as I have stated, who excludes and then divides the Lord’s moral code.  As I wrote,yes, certain passages are difficult, as the dietary laws but they, with all the Law, were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, see   Matthew 5:16-18.  As His apostle wrote, “All things are lawful…”,as the Corinthians were saying.  Paul agreed with them, but the Apostle concluded, “…but all things are not helpful” (see  1 Corinthians 6:11-13  and 1 Corinthians 10:22-24). As in I can eat and drink whatever I like, but all of it’s not necessarily good for me or for thee!   Jesus and His Church take seriously the whole Word of God, Law and Promise.  Once I begin to choose then I am ‘god’.  This was the serpent’s false promise in the Garden: “You will be like God…”.  Once I begin to teach others that we are not under the whole of Scripture, then we are in trouble:  

Matthew 5:19

Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Yes, says Jesus, even the “least of these commandments and TEACHES others the same”, that is,  relaxation of the Law’s demands. What we teach is what God’s Law which says: Fit in and you don’t.  His Law is a tight fit but just to say, “I don’t like it” will not make His Law go away.  We don’t fit in and Jesus Christ by His forgiveness makes us fit by faith in His grace, mercy and peace and the  whole of His Word, distinguishing what the Law does and the Gospel fulfills.  His Word is then a delight for the Church and her people.
Psalm 119: 174 I long for your salvation, O Lord,
    and your law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live and praise you,
    and let your rules help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
    for I do not forget your commandments.

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