Thursday, October 23, 2014

All Rev.ed Up and No Place to Go

Pity the poor Rev. Adam Smallbone. That's what the BBC series Rev. invited us to do; I felt only disdain.  (I finished watching its final season on Hulu last week.)  Rev. Smallbone, as you may recall from previous posts, is the fictitious Vicar of Saint Savior in the Marshes, recently "promoted" to that dying inner city London parish from a rural post, and he's wholly (not holy) inadequate for the task.  Season #4 had a series of plot complications.  The underlying problem is that Saint Savior (the better English translation of the Latin would Holy Savior) needs 60,000 British pounds to survive.  If Rev. Smallbone cannot come up with it, the parish closes.  In the midst of that, feeling frustrated because motherhood and her job makes his wife unavailable to him, the Vicar has a passionate kiss with the newly divorced parish school governess that he has always lusted for.  When his wife leaves him over the Kiss, he conceals that from his parishioners.  To raise the money to save Saint Savior, the Vicarage (as his demented, homeless yet faithful parishioner Colin calls him)  engages an accountant who was recently released from prison on a child pornography conviction.  That doesn't work out so well.  The Vicar then offers the sanctuary to be the place a new work of art is exhibited by an avant garde artist in return for 60,000 pounds.  When the Vicar mistakes the sculpture to be a representation of his and the governess' Kiss, he destroys it and loses the donation.  Then a gay couple, old friends of the Smallbones, one of whom is an atheist, ask the Vicar to marry them.  Although the C of E does not allow it, he covertly presides at the gay wedding anyway.  When his Kiss with the governess is investigated by the diocese, and Smallbone is suspended from ministry, he conceals that fact from his wife.  In the end, Saint Savior closes and Rev. Smallbone resigns, amidst a bevy of allusions to Christian symbols and events in the life of Our Lord, intended, I suppose, in a TV show about a pastor that pretty much eschewed religious symbolism, to make the Vicar look Christ-like.  The final sacrilege is when the Vicar and band of his parishioners break into the now closed Saint Savior on Easter morning and celebrate the Eucharist because they all believe in him (that is, they believe in Rev. Smallbone, not necessarily Christ).   Rev. Smallbone is the epitome of the effete, effeminate, politically correct, "social gospel" kind of church leader dragging down the Church.  Had he been honest, open and faithful, the results may or may not have been different, but he would at least be a positive witness.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What's in the Bible?

Was reading a Lutheran Bishop's blog the other day that pointed out that Luther questioned the value  of James and that Eusebius did not include in his list all the books in the New Testament canon.  His point was that we don't need to take all scripture seriously, that even the canon of scripture itself is not set, and that really the only things important in the Bible are what agree with the "gospel" (i.e. his politically correct misinterpretation of the gospel).  Of course, Luther later in life came to see the value in James, Eusebius is not the final arbiter of what is canonical (the Holy Spirit is), and Marcion's similar idea to limit the canon to what he liked (and omit what he did not like) was declared heretical.  I wondered why the Bishop was concerning himself with this; the Word of God is already getting the short shrift in those circles.  Then someone pointed out to me the latest aberration to come out of "that church" -- Radical Hospitality.  Their agenda is to discredit anything in the Bible that may in any way suggest that the un-baptized should not receive Holy Communion.  Reduce scripture to a few proof texts that seem (out of context) to say what you want them to say, and the gullible will go along, or so they think.  Of course, when you have already coerced people to swallow a couple camels, another camel won't seem so big.    Veni Sancte Spiritus!  Kyrie Eleison!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Mighty Fortress Isn't Our God

Just heard from a friend about an ostensibly Lutheran congregation that will not sing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" this Reformation Sunday.  Sure, they are of that mutant strain of so-called Lutheran Protestants that has introduced various and sundry aberrations into the Church.  But why on earth not sing Luther's greatest hit on the day celebrating the wind and fire of the Holy Spirit blowing through the Church and setting it ablaze with the recovery of right teaching and zeal for the Christian faith in Germany in the 16th Century?  First of all, they say we should eschew hymns with military images. We are, they opine, after all another religion of peace, and the Battle of Jericho and Paul's full armor of God, to say nothing of "a sword and shield victorious," have no place in a church that accentuates pacifism above all else.  Secondly, celebrating Reformation Day itself is suspect, they proclaim, because our real call is not to speak the specific, particular truth of justification by grace through faith for Christ's sake,  but to emphasize how all denominations --  nay, all world religions -- are really one and the same at heart.  It is the least common denominator we should accentuate, they contend, not the unique Christian beliefs (lest you gather bad karma and upset the jihadists).  Wouldn't truth in advertising demands such churches drop the word Lutheran from their name and add Unitarian Universalist?  I am blessed to say that my congregation will be sings Ein Feste Burg  and Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word, plus The Church's One Foundation (which is "Jesus Christ her Lord," not bound conscience, bishops in apostolic succession, or lutefisk.)