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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Bit Disgruntled

This morning, I went to Sunday service in hopes of recieving, in the homily, a message that would prepare me for the Lent Season. Instead, we had a guest speaker who ended up preaching a political agenda. This, of course, disgruntled me and I'm posting this in hopes to become "gruntled" once again.

The title of the sermon was "Power in the Desert," and the text for the sermon was based upon Luke 4:1-13; Jesus' wilderness temptations. As the sermon began, the guest minster was following the text quite nicely (for about 10 minutes), and then suddenly took a turn into left field. In this turn, we heard about several experiences in foriegn countries (one of which was Iraq), where this minister had spent a certain amount of time. Most of these experiences involved abused children who either had to beg for food, or were injured by land mines, wars, etc. These things were communicated in such a way that the audience was "encouraged" to be a part of the solution to bring hope. This was actually the last thirty or forty minutes of the sermon. While no organizations were mentioned in the sermon, it was quite obvious that many groups were refered to without being named and many organizations were meant to come to mind in the description of several actual events.

Granted I think it is a tragedy that these things occur in the world, and the Christian community should certainly participate in the solution of such things, but what does all this have to do with Jesus being tempted in the wilderness? What does all this have to do with Luke 4:1-13? I was very put off by this sermon, and to be frank, let down. While this may be selfish on my part, I went to this Sunday service in hopes of preparing my mind and heart for the Lent season and instead I was informed of an agenda that I, as a Christian, should participate in. I left the service angry and complained most of the way home. In some ways, I suppose this is perhaps a confession since I should have just let it go and not been angry, but on the other hand I think I was justified in my anger. While these things have a place in our Christian lives and churches, I do not think that a Sunday morning Lent service is the pace to push a political agenda. Am I wrong in thinking this? What do you think?

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20 Comments:

Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Did you talk to the guest speaker after the service about your doubts and concerns?

3:00 AM, February 26, 2007  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Chris,

No actually I did not. I shook her hand at the door, smiled and then shook the associate pastor's hand and we walked out. Probably would not have been a good time for me to talk with her since I was pretty upset, and that might have made me more upset, who knows.

The funny thing about all this is that I did not disagree with anything she said, I just thought the pulpit on the first Sunday of Lent was not the place to say it.

7:14 AM, February 26, 2007  
Blogger Chris Tilling said...

I see.

Perhaps apply a Chinese Burn next time.

No need to talk etc. if you are already upset.

1:38 PM, February 26, 2007  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Ok, I'll try the Chinese Burn next time, Chris.

;-)

5:50 PM, February 26, 2007  
Blogger Dave said...

Hi Todd,

I get pretty upset, too, when I hear partisanism advocated from a pulpit. (I say "partisanism" rather than "politics" because the gospel is political, as is baptism and the Eucharist.)

But I'm not clear on why you considered the sermon, as you described it, to be offensive. From your description, it sounds like the preacher informed the congregation of people who are experiencing suffering, and challenged them to personally get involved in alleviating that suffering. Is this a political message? Sure, maybe, but no more than the gospel itself. American Christians, after all, need to be reminded that they are to minister to the suffering in a county occupied by their nation's armies no less than those who suffer in any other country. Is this a partisan message? I sure hope not, or else I might have to change the way I vote. :O

What am I missing? Was there more to the sermon than you mentioned? Some mention of a particular political agenda, perhaps?

BTW, I could see how someone might be offended by the sermon on the grounds that the pulpit is an inappropriate venue from which to advocate social activism. But I would disagree with this complaint, too. If calling Christians to respond to the Word of God by pursuing social justice and performing deeds of love and compassion is inappropriate in the pulpit, then it isn't appropriate anywhere.

6:02 PM, February 27, 2007  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Hey Dave,

Several events were mentioned in the sermon itself. Some of these events were things that have occurred in the U.S. war with Iraq. These things were obviously mentioned as an agenda or at least an opinion that the war should end. While I do not disagree with this, I do not think that the pulpit is the place to promote political opnion.

Now, when I say political, I mean political in its 20th century U.S. usage (i.e Republicans/Democrats/Policies, etc.) Thisnis not the gospel and the gospel is not political in this fashion.

There were other detailed stories of events that had a political push to them that were mentioned in the sermon as well, but detail escapes me now - several days later.

You declare, "If calling Christians to respond to the Word of God by pursuing social justice and performing deeds of love and compassion is inappropriate in the pulpit, then it isn't appropriate anywhere." I agree with that, but this was not the intent of this guest minister's sermon, and if it was then I think she did a very weak job of communicating that.

Like I told Chris in the comments above, I did not disagree with anything she said, I simply did not think this was the time or the place to say it.

6:12 PM, February 27, 2007  
Blogger Dave said...

P.S., perhaps I should add, lest you claim that I missed your point about such a sermon being out-of-place on a Lenten Sunday:

The Church has traditionally emphasized certain disciplines for the observance of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (i.e., helping the poor).

6:30 PM, February 27, 2007  
Blogger Dave said...

Oops, I posted my follow up and saw you had just posted a response. And you didn't even say that I missed your point. Wow.
:)

6:32 PM, February 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi- I'm new to your blog...
What is the purpose of preaching in your mind? You caught my attention when you alluded to the sermon straying from the text. Another thing, since I see your blog's name is in part (I think) an homage to Edwards, you mentioned a woman preaching. What kind of church do you attend?
I don't believe Edwards would have allowed for a woman to preach, I don't think he would of thought of the admonitions to women to be silent as cultural...

Ken in Detroit

11:50 PM, February 28, 2007  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Hey Ken,

Welcome to my blog. Preaching, as we know it today, is relatively new to the Church; so its purpose can vary depending upon who you ask. In my estimation, a homily is meant to be a part of the liturgy of the Church, to add to the participation of worship and to set the listener's mind toward God during and in the liturgy.

I am not one that thinks all preaching has to be "expositional." I am a member of the PCUSA where women are allowed to perform minister duties where other more fundamental denominations would not allow this. I understand that Edwards' would frown upon women preaching, but I do not agree with everything Edwards taught, and whether he would not think that "the admonitions to women to be silent as cultural" is irrelevant to me.

Granted, I respect Edwards and have read much of what he has written, once again, I do not agree with everything he espoused.

Otherwise, welcome to my blog.

7:25 AM, March 01, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Todd-
You said- "In my estimation, a homily is meant to be a part of the liturgy of the Church, to add to the participation of worship and to set the listener's mind toward God during and in the liturgy."

I'm curious where you glean this idea of what preaching should be? Is it only from tradition? It seems to me that whatever preaching is, which you say, depends on who you ask, (I agree)...but whatever it is, it should be from the text! Do you disagree with that? The passages below, I think speak to that.

1 Peter 1:24-25
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

2nd Timothy 4:1-2
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

1 Cor 15:1-2
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

In light of your comment- "I am not one that thinks all preaching has to be "expositional" where should the preacher derive his/her message? If from the text- then I would say then "exposition" matters. If it doesn't have to be from the text- then obviously it wouldn't matter.

If I am sounding confrontational, I beg forgiveness. I'm no theologian, and am genuine in my curiosity.

Thanks,

Ken In Detroit-

PS- I don't know how to do the "google account" thing- I don't have a blog...so that's why it comes up anon.

3:38 PM, March 01, 2007  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Ken,

The first thing I want to point out to you is that you use "the text" to prove that preaching should always be from the text. However, when these texts were written, they refer to preaching that occurred prior to any text (other than the Old Testament). Does that not strike you as odd?

I'm not too keen on proof texting. What I mean by this is anyone can take an isolated text, quote it and use it as proof for an issue, a theology, etc. There is a greater context to these texts, so taking certain verses and using them to prove a point that all preaching should be from the text seem arbitrary.

My definition of peaching does come from tradition, and remember, preaching as we know it today is a relatively new development in the Church, so expository preaching is extremely new. Does that make it wrong? I do not think so, but anyone can preach from the Word and gleen what they might think is the correct interpretation.

The problem I have with those who hold to expository preaching is that they also always hold to the innerancy of Scripture, and thus they always ignore tradition altogether - this is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

However, while I do not disagree with preaching from the text, I do not think it is necessary, not do I think it is the end all be all of preaching. Hope that helps answer your questions, and no you do not (or are not) coming across as confrontational. I always welcome comments and questions.

(I have not proof read this comment so forgive me if there are any typos)

7:38 PM, March 01, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Todd-
Ok, so you are not in favor of my take on preaching. You assert that I may or may not be taking verses and using them to my advantage outside of the context etc...(which I grant is entirely possible, though not intentional). With that said, you didn't give me a biblical basis for your idea of preaching, OT or NT? I know your not a fan of prooftexting, but I'm not a fan of only relying on tradition. Do you place just as much emphasis on tradition as you do scripture? I'm assuming you are since it seems to me that you don't hold to verbal plenary inspiration.

One another note: You keep saying that preaching as we know it today is rather new, yet you look to tradition for your definition of preaching? Seems odd to me.

Ken in Det

11:34 PM, March 01, 2007  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Hey Ken,

Ok. Let me see if I can explain my position.

First, the verses you quoted from are verses that deal with Apostolic message (i.e. the gospel - good news of Christ) and not preaching per se.

Therefore, I do not draw guidelines for preaching from Scripture (i.e. how preaching "ought" to be performed) because there is no definitive explanation for such.

Second, preaching was actually developed within the context of Tradition, however, there are no set or established guidelines for how it "ought" to be performed within that context either.

Thus, for anyone to say that expository preaching is the "best" or only method of preaching, seems a bit arbitrary.

Preaching is new in that in the first 1400 years or so of the Church, sermons or homilies were not all that common - usually the Pope or a Cardinal would deliver a message at a Mass, or on special Christian holiday or occasion, and this developed into preaching as we know it today. Up until the Reformation the Mass contained readings from the Old Testament, readings from the New Testament, the Eucharist and this was all enveloped within the liturgy, homilies were practically non-existent, except in cases mentioned above.

I do place just as much emphasis on Tradition as I do Scripture and to upset that blalnce always leads to problems. For instance, we get Scripture and the Canon of the NT from Tradition, not vice versa, so to say that Scripture has more authority than Tradition is like saying a child gives birth to its parent. Scripture comes from Tradition, not vice versa.

That is my position, you may disagree with that, but you will not be the first. ;-)

7:32 AM, March 02, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Todd-
I just want to clear one thing up... you said- "For instance, we get Scripture and the Canon of the NT from Tradition, not vice versa".

First, I think I would disagree with you, if I understand you correctly. In my opinion, we get the scripture from God. Tradition went a long way in helping the Church determine canonicity... but we got the scriptures from God, obviously, I would hold to that, since I believe in inspiration. I'm not sure I agree with you that Tradition is equal to scripture, because I don't hold to infallable councils, like the RCC, but I do hold to scripture's infallability.

Out of curiosity, why do you attend a Presbyterian Church? Your views don't seem to be in line with them as much as Anglicanism, or even the RCC.

Thanks for the discussion.

Ken in Det (Go Tigers!)

11:37 PM, March 02, 2007  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Hey Ken,

You declare, "Tradition went a long way in helping the Church determine canonicity... but we got the scriptures from God, obviously, I would hold to that, since I believe in inspiration. I'm not sure I agree with you that Tradition is equal to scripture, because I don't hold to infallable councils, like the RCC, but I do hold to scripture's infallability."

This is the very reason why I figured you would disagree with me.

But let me clarify some things. I do agree with the issue of the inspiration of Scripture, how that is worked out is, I'm sure, quite different in my mind than in yours.
I figured you would not hold Tradition on the same level as Scripture, but I have several questions for you.

First, if councils are not infallible, but councils put the canon of the NT together, then how do you know if the canon is the "correct" collection of books? I'm assuming your answer would be that God worked through these councils to ensure this? And if that's the case, are you saying that God picks and chooses which councils He's going to work through?

Second, you tell me that you believe in the infallibility of the Scriptures. Which leads me to this question - Are you saying that you think the original manuscripts are infallible, or what we read today (i.e. a Bible you can pick up at any local Christian bookstore)? And if you think only the original manuscripts are infallible, then how do you know this? By faith? Or do you have definitive proof?

As for the Presbyterian question, are you familiar at all with the PCUSA? The short answer to that question is two fold - they give me lateral in my theological thinking, and although I would prefer to go to an Anglican church, my wife and I have agreed to attend a PCUSA since we are, in essence, both compromising in which denomination we would prefer to be in.

8:13 AM, March 03, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue of infallable councils, is funny, since there are obviously councils that have contradicted each other, anathemitized each other etc... Tha's like trying to prove the pope is infallable? Which Pope..? Some Popes anathametized one another, and the same goes for councils. Obviously, I would hold to the orig manus for inspiration.

I'm familiar with the PCUS, I was a member of a PCUS for 15 years. I left when I found out my pastor, a woman was a lesbian. She left her husband for another woman and stayed on as pastor... (weird). I left for that, and for the fact that they didn't believe (the leadership) in the substitutionary atonement. I now belong to an ind. reformed church...(conservative). Thanks- and good luck on the compromise.

Ken in Det

9:27 PM, March 03, 2007  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Ken,

Well up to this point I enjoyed our exchange, but then you became rude.

The "compromise" in which you wished me luck in, how quaint of you to do so, is only one of denominational choice. I find it intersting, to say the least, how you imply a quick dimissal of the PCUSA because of the one circumstance you experienced (i.e. the female lesbian pastor). It is intereting that we left a fundamentalist conservative reformed church for various reasons dealing with leadership issues as well. I guess even the conservatives have their own forms of "wierd" or sin as the case may be.

That just goes to show you how sinful we all are, and how desparately we need the grace of God.

8:54 AM, March 04, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Todd,
Honestly, I meant no ill-will on my "compromise" comment. I beg for your pardon. I know what it is to "compromise" with your spouse on where to go to church. That is simply all I meant. I'm sorry if I came off as rude.

As far as the PCUS...goes, you asked if I knew anything about them. I have had first hand knowledge. That was my only point. I know that my experience is not normative for all the PCUS, much like going to Ted Haggard's Church doesn't mean all evangelical pastors are gay. I was truly wishing you good luck. I know how it feels to pursue a chuch with a spouse, and have to compromise. My wife is Lutheran, and I am not. I will beg off now.

begging your pardon,

Ken in Det

12:22 AM, March 05, 2007  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Ken,

That's ok, I honestly thought you might be trying to be snide. No worries, this form of communication lacks certain qualities that make it difficult to tell whether someone is sincere, snide, etc.

Take care and God Bless

8:30 PM, March 05, 2007  

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