If’n ya’awnt to (3) …

Caveat lector:  “If’n ya’awnt to” is prefatory Southernese for “if you want to.”  In this brief series, I’m giving neo-Protestant attention to several erroneous assumptions common to thinking and practice in Christendom.  All of this is predicated on the ideas that humans may choose courses of action, and that some choices make more sense — biblical, or common, or both — than others.

Part 3

Here are a few more words and expressions that are used to describe something though they do not describe that thing in fact:

D.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can “baptize”[1] a baby … yup, I suppose you can, but that action only has potential meaning for the grown-ups, not for the tiny, human subject of the ceremony.  On t’utha han’, if’n ya’awnt to, you can relate every instance of the word “baptism” in the scriptures to overwhelming by the Holy Spirit, a la two or three significant occurrences in the Acts recorded by Luke, but “Holy Spirit Baptism” shouldn’t be the assumed meaning of the isolated word “baptism” in scripture.

E.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can assume that the words “koinonia” and “fellowship” refer to mere togetherness, networking, “body life,” or worse—further fattening ourselves at congregational meals.  But the biblical koinonia is more than that, and you we might as well realize it.  In the scriptures, koinonia speaks of partnership in a task or project.

F.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can think that

  1. worship equals the music you use
  2. worship equals the assembly
  3. worship equals “the service”/the liturgy

. . . but worship transcends all of these.

If’n ya’awnt to, you can think and do a lot of things in your church life that have little to do with scriptural principles and patterns but that are instead based in choice and freedom.  By God’s design, we have personal freedom.  But for those who want to do things that matter, things that make rational and spiritual sense, there are higher standards than personal freedom.

If’n ya’awnt to, you can a) realize and b) act on whatever truth you find contained in these words, “searching the scriptures to see if these things are so,” regardless of whatever biases and attitudes are or are not found in the writer.

And, if’n ya’awnt to, you can affirm, or take exception to, a point by adding a comment of your own.  I encourage this!

[1] Here, “baptize” is assumed to mean“sprinkle”—I don’t know of any religious group that actually baptizes babies.  “Baptize” means “immerse.”

If’n ya’awnt to (2) …

Caveat lector:  “If’n ya’awnt to” is prefatory Southernese for “if you want to.”  In this brief series, I’m giving neo-Protestant attention to several erroneous assumptions common to thinking and practice in Christendom.  All of this is predicated on the ideas that humans may choose courses of action, and that some choices make more sense — biblical, or common, or both — than others.

Part 2

C.  Religious titles

1.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can believe that “reverend” equals “designated, sanctioned minister,” but that doesn’t make it so, and it’s irreverent—quite literally—to God, Who is the only One referred to as reverend in scripture.  Properly used, and primarily, the word “reverend” is adjectival, not titular

2.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can ignore Jesus on the matter of whether to call a mere man “Father” or “teacher” (Matthew 23), but I don’t know why you would want to ignore Him.

Aside:  Long ago, I resolved never to call a man “Father” or “Reverend”—no matter if it were a Roman priest on the softball field or a guest speaker in a public venue.  I have wavered because of a situation or two, but I have not fallen.  God helping me, I will continue in this resolve, and will hope to be instructive, not offensive, in this course of action.

3.  Further, if’n ya’awnt to, you can call your full-time minister “pastor,” but the pastoral role, as sporadically depicted in New Covenant documents, is a fur piece from the pastor’s role in any church I’ve known of in my lifetime.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can belong to the massive hunk of Christian flesh that misuses the term “pastor” to mean “head preacher guy” or “leader in charge of everything.”  But the use of the term doesn’t make the man a pastor-in-fact, and you may be an accomplice to the biblically criminal perpetuation (or, to un-mix a metaphor, you may be a cell in the festering, cancerous wart on the Body of Christ) of the hierarchical scenario that is all too common in churches.  This is not just about terminology.  It is about the functioning of the Body.  It is, after all, a Body, not a business . . . and the Christ is the Head.

4.  And again, if’n ya’awnt to, you can set up a minister/preacher/pastor as the “head” man, designating him “senior pastor,” but such titles and designated hierarchies are unknown in the pages of the New Covenant writings.  Corollary:  If’n ya’awnt to, you can call your 28-year-old preaching person who has recently graduated with honors from seminary “Senior Pastor,” but that’s probably more appropriate if your whole church is under the age of 20.

* * *

Part 3 will continue in challenging both word uses and their accompanying, erroneous actions.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can think it’s merely an attitude problem that causes one to spend time on such challenges … or you can a) realize and b) act on the truth you find contained in these words, “searching the scriptures to see if these things are so” (Acts 17:11) regardless of whatever biases and attitudes are, or are not, found in the writer.

If’n ya’awnt to (1) …

“If’n ya’awnt to” is Southernese for “if you want to.”  Introducing each item by this prefatory drawl, this neo-Protestant would like to give attention to several erroneous assumptions common to thinking and practice in Christendom.

I’m actually going to be more serious about these items than the Southernese might lead one to suspect, but if I tick someone off with the content, I figgered the drawl might be seen to infuse the content with some levity.  All of this will be predicated on these ideas:

  • Humans may choose courses of action
  • Some choices make more (biblical, or common, or both) sense than others.

A.      If’n ya’awnt to, you can think Jesus established your denomination in A.D. 33 (or 29 or 30—take your pick), but He didn’t establish any humanly named group then.  Apostatic humans established denominations, and Jesus never intended them.  (Yes, no matter how much you may wish to protest, your denomination [or “non-denomination”], whether the CofC or the UMC or the SBC or the Roman Catholic Church, is but one of the humanly named, divided groups not envisioned by God and our Christ.  All the separate groups are but denominations [named] and are of human origin, to one extent or another.)

B.      If’n ya’awnt to, you can believe that “Catholic Church” or Roman/popish Church = “The Church,” but that doesn’t make it so.  It is offensive to many more biblically centered Christians when you perpetuate the fallacy of referring to the Roman institution as “The Church.”  There are other myopic groups that have historically used generic, universal terminology in attempts at self-description, too.  Once one begins to understand that his group does not constitute the whole, it is at best blind and at worst arrogant to perpetuate such exclusive labeling.

It is quite possible that no Roman Catholics or Roman-sympathizers will read this material.  Why, then, include the item above?  Because the rest of us should be righteously indignant when newscasters or RCC officials or others use the term “The Church” to refer to the RC institution.

* * *

Part 2 will continue in challenging both word uses and their accompanying, erroneous actions.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can think it’s merely an attitude problem that causes one to spend time on such challenges … or you can a) realize and b) act on the truth you find contained in these words, “searching the scriptures to see if these things are so” (Acts 17:11) regardless of whatever biases and attitudes are, or are not, found in the writer.

Of meat, butchers, and butchery (2)

[Caveat lector fortis:  If you’re a card-carrying member of the Christian Right, or if you feel your brand of patriotism is the only authorized brand, or if you have close ties to the military, or if you’re otherwise annoyed by people who take unpopular opinions (why read this blog?), you might want to skip this post.]

This all began with commentary on the “Star Spangled Banner,” and it began on Facebook, not on WordPress.  I was just blowing off steam, but the steam blew too high, and in too many directions.  The meat analogies are to be saved for the end, by the way.

PART TWO (probably the most substantive of the three, and also the most succinct)

Back up a step.  My intent in the first rebuttal had been to give two reasons why I think it’s a stupid/bad national anthem:  1) it’s hard for most people to sing, and 2) it “senselessly glorifies war.”  Here’s my FB friend’s reply to that:

Go to your nearest Veterans Hospital the next time they have a music presentation, request the National Anthem be sung.  Then when finished stand up and say it’s a stupid song because it glorifies war and then see what happens to you.  You’ll see how America feels about it I’m sure…

So I’ll find out how “America” feels?  Really? One particular, war-mongering president rather preposterously used to presume he was speaking for all Americans when spouting opinions, and other presidents have done the same.  If this is my country (and it is), then to say “America” feels this way when I don’t is tantamount to saying, “Pack up and leave this country” … which is something I was once told to do by someone a lot closer to me than the above interlocutor, but that’s beside the point.  Anyway, here’s my next reply, after expressing regret that all this was rather public on Facebook:

What veterans in a veterans’ hospital might think of my statement or the national anthem is merely their opinion (not America’s as a whole).  Mine, too, was merely an opinion.  I don’t have to like the song, and you don’t have to like the fact that I don’t like it.  But neither do you have the right to call a brother an idiot.

My reply amounted to a rebuke, and its bold statement stems from my belief that Christian relationship transcends all others.  In other words, no matter what the friend thought of my opinion, and no matter how wrong I might have been, he was in the wrong for calling me an idiot.  This relates to my view on Christians and government, Christians and military, Christians and sports, Christians and entertainment, Christians and work … Christians and just about anything:  essentially, in whatever sphere you’re thinking and operating, the Christian element or aspect must supersede all others. If a (perceived) conflict arises between philosophies, it’s no trouble for me to ditch the other one in favor of what I see as the Christian one.  This is not to say that I enact these priorities perfectly.  Far from it.  But my human inability to be consistent does not change the reality.  On some level, no matter how much one might disagree with my particulars, any Christian worth his salt will have to agree here.  This über-significance of what one sees as God’s principles  could be said to may be seen to might be analyzed as principles that must win out.

Aside, but obviously related, if you think about it:  are you aware that there are believers out there who question the Lutheran notion of sola scriptura (only scripture)?  For centuries the Roman Catholic institution asserted its traditions and practices as superior to the Bible. Some examples:  prayer to “saints” and to Mary, the immaculate conception (which refers to the supposed sinlessness of Mary herself), indulgences, the authority of popes, and infant baptism.

If one finds human tradition to be on equal footing with scripture, lots of problems come into play; it’s a whole different ballgame!

Oh, and we will get to the anthem and baseball, but not for a bit yet.

To be continued …


Poor kid who went to Catholic school never had a chance.  It wasn’t really his fault.

[Aside:  although embarrassing his particular parents for sending him to Catholic school isn’t my goal, I wouldn’t mind if other parents of Catholic schoolers saw this.  Particularly, non-Catholics who think Catholic school is something of a status symbol ought to be ashamed for subjecting their children to religious hogwash.  (For the record, the actual parents will not see this, and only one trusted soul who does read this will even know who the family is.)]

Now comes the gist of the hogwash, with names laundered to protect the family.  Presumably as an assignment in Catholic school, this was written by an 8-year-old boy after the death of a relative:

My grandpop was a nice man.  He said nice things to us. …
I believe he will become a saint.  But if he doesn’t, he will be one to me.

Hello, everyone.  “Becoming a saint” is a completely fabricated idea.  It’s a non-event.  Not reality.  Roman-Catholic sainthood[1] is not remotely biblical and is quite spiritually ridiculous–if you have any interest at all in following New Covenant Christian teaching as recorded in scripture, that is.  This “saint” thing is but one of the innumerable bits of hogwash taught in Catholic schools.  Oddly, or perhaps not so oddly, many Catholic kids grow up knowing very little of the concocted Catholic doctrines such as transubstantiation, the “immaculate conception,” “perpetual virginity,” and the “assumption” of Mary, and popery (with all its trappings, including continuing revelation).

Parents who want to send their kids to an expensive school have a few options:

  1. Forget about it and send them to public school.  (If they have money to spare, use it differently!)
  2. Send them to a non-religious private school.
  3. Send them to a Catholic school, and then spend a lot of time reteaching or anti-teaching the hogwash they learn in Catholic school.
  4. Send them to a Catholic school, and then let them fend for themselves in terms of what they come to believe.

It seems to me that options 1 and 2 are better than 3 or 4.

[1] In one very important sense, Christians are all saints.  That’s what scripture teaches.  “Saint” does not mean “extra-special person assumed to have had supernatural powers, or deemed to have been especially sacrificial in some way.”  There are no biblical hierarchies or special designations for supposed rungs on a supposed Christian “ladder.”  Not even apostles or the four evangelists were ever aptly called “Saint” until Rome got hold of Christianity.  “St. Paul” and “St. Mark,” for instance, are human designations.

Preparing for onslaught

Monday, I heard a speaker refer to reforming.  She framed herself as a Calvinist, and therefore, a “reformer.”

Notice the suffix she chose.

The speaker’s self-descriptor caused me to question both her literalness and the self-awareness of most religious movements.  (Don’t ask.  I’m just like that with words.)  She could equally aptly have said, “I’m (R)reformed,” but that sounds a little more static.  I myself would also choose the bolder assertion of being a reformer, and with that boldness goes a certain amount of misplaced arrogance, I know.  The point is that I want to be engaged actively in reforming.

Again with the suffixes:  I could have said “I want to be engaged in reformation,” but the –ation wouldn’t have implied enough ongoing activity for my taste.  Maybe that’s just how I hear it.

I would not choose “reformed” or “restored,” even if the former term had no denominational associations.  Calvinist and American Restorationists (Stone-Campbellers) alike tend to view themselves as having restored, as having arrived, to an appreciable extent.  The concrete resultant state is the problem.  To think we have it all figured out is also arrogant, of course.  I find it a trifle unbecoming for anyone to label himself “Reformed.”

The gerund -ing implies just the right thing.  I want to be an active reformer, which means I’m into reforming on an ongoing basis.  Calvin and Zwingli were as explicitly interested in a primitivist, back-to-the-Bible brand of Christianity as I am.  I was intrigued yesterday by some material I was reading on Zwingli–he is said to have stressed the “utterly unique authority of Scripture,” holding the Bible at the “heart of reformation.”  (Begbie, Resounding Truth, 114).  The 16C reformers said and did some good things, and they went overboard on some others—just like the rest of us.  If we continue actively reforming today, these overboard positions receive fresh analyses.  That’s the kind of Christianity I want to be engaged in.  Christ-ian discipleship implies active learning and following.

For the next three days, I’ll be availing myself of an opportunity for blistering criticism.  This will be, in a limited sense, a strong—like poblano peppers?—taste of active reforming.  These posts will by no means be a bedrock look at central doctrines.  Rather, they will constitute one possible starting point in the business of reforming.

Those of you who may wish to position yourselves “graciously” at the ecumenical epicenter of Christendom may wish to tune out until Sunday.  🙂  Starting tomorrow, for a planned three days, I’ll be posting a criticism of the Roman Catholic notion of priesthood, touching on related doctrines and assumptions that are in desperate need of reforming.  It is not only the RC institution that deserves censure; there are applications for all of us in all our church groups.  Let us continue reforming.

Misguided loyalties

A few days ago, three stimuli in the time-space of a half-hour led me to start writing a few thoughts about loyalties, alliances, and naming/denominating. Some of these thoughts appear in the “Ekklesia Values” series; here’s a related rant. [If you read rants for amusement, you can probably skip this one. If you read them in order to feel self-righteously superior, well, I’d appreciate your reconsideration. . . .]

Happening by a Roman Catholic outpost a couple of weeks ago, my eye-nets, mindlessly cast, brought in about 4 people I knew. While for all I know, the people were visiting for the RC church for reasons other than worship, Christian doctrine, or Christian togetherness, I was concerned, because some are so easily taken in by tradition.  Catholic loyalties, in particular, are a major doctrinal issue.

Who in the world can spiritually look himself in the face when praying to some legendary figure supposed to be the patron saint of fields and crops, or travel, or gas-powered engines, or lost causes, or what-have-you? Who can really be serious about that kind of malarkey?

[I can hear it now. Some atheist vigilante will root out this post and tell me I’m in a world of nonsense for believing in God, anyway. But maybe if she reads this far, she’ll decline to waste her time and mine by commenting.]

The more thoughtful, self-respecting Roman Catholics these days don’t tend to dwell on such fancies, as far as I can tell. They may still harbor the sentimental attachments that grandma held, but if they don’t actually pray to a human, whether Mary or any other, I guess they’re heading in the right direction. Unflinching loyalties to non-deities are always ill-advised.

“How much Marian stuff?” was a question I saw recently in consideration of Christmas season event. My answer: precious little to none, if we’re serious about rooting out fanciful doctrine and appealing to scripture. (That’s a big “if.”) Not that Mary wasn’t important. She was. But even the hint of a traditional Roman Catholic-type status for her is not well-advised; appearing to deify her is egregious.

Yet it seems popular, even among more biblically rooted believers to allow for this nonsense these days, and I don’t understand why. I was recently in a room of protestants who actually affirmed monetarily (read: gave an award for) the desire to serve the Roman Catholic Church. I was appalled, given the setting, but I’ve learned not to be surprised at much of anything.

So much refuse in the Roman system! It is, after all, nonsense to think Mary or Christopher or Francis or Bonaventure or Gregory or Benedict (or Wesley or Luther or Armstrong or Calvin) or any other man or woman has any ongoing, commutative, spiritual powers. They are dead, and there is no special, positional status for them in God’s Kingdom.