The problem of post-baptismal sin was an issue of great concern in the early church. The baptismal doctrine of the early church taught that water baptism was the initial act of Christian confession which cleansed the human soul of original sin and all sins committed up to the point of baptism.
The dysfunction of any community is generational. Edwin Friedman says, “the problem with parents, after all, is that they had parents.” According to Friedman’s “systems theory,” dysfunction is structured into an emotional triangle involving three persons, groups, or issues. The emotional triangle serves to maintain a sense of fragile stability, or homeostasis.
One of the harshest statements to come from Jesus was “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (Matthew 15:26). When we realize that these words were spoken to a widow in distress they seem to defy the virtues of love and mercy. How can we properly understand these harsh words? What is the significance of this narrative?
Some Christians live in fear and suspicion of science as if scientific discovery and theological truth are natural and mortal enemies. This is especially true of Christians whose intellectual formation is primarily based in the 20th century conflict between modernism and fundamentalism. Most fundamentalists require a literal reading of Genesis 1 that insists on a six day creation and a young earth. Any other interpretation is considered heretical. As I wrote in my previous blog, a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 is not only unnecessary, but it also defies the original context of the creation narrative. To my mind, for Christians to reject scientific discovery is to reduce faith to mere superstition.
Before seeing the social media controversy about Gungor’s posts I had never heard of Michael Gungor. After reading a few remarks on Facebook I decided to read his posts. Gungor does not strike me as a dangerous heretic who denies the integrity of the inspired Scripture. Rather, the posts strike me as an inquisitive and conscientious inquiry into the Faith. In fact, Gungor’s posts sound a lot like conversations I’ve had with my sons as they were going through college.
The following resolution was submitted for consideration at the Church of God International Assembly in Orlando. However, due to the press of business and the limited time it was not presented for discussion.
Whereas, the Church of God is firmly committed to the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation on the earth (Matthew 28:19); and
As a young man I had three goals in life: to be good husband, to be a good father, and to be a good pastor. Only my wife can judge the first goal. Only God can judge the last. Only my two sons can judge me as a father. The churches we serve have no idea of how serving as pastor can stress a marriage and harm children. Planning a vacation? Then someone dies, the pastor is called to preside at the funeral and the family vacation is canceled. Planning a family picnic? Someone invites you to their family reunion and your family time suffers. I’ve often had to remind well-meaning church members that I have a life outside of the church. For the conscientious pastor it takes great wisdom and patience to carefully negotiate the pitfalls. I’m sure I failed from time to time. But one episode in particular demonstrates the tension that exists when one desires to be a good father and a good pastor.