candid thoughts on the issues of the day.

In the fallout of Fr. Michael Pfleger’s recent "sermon" at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Senator Barack Obama resigned his membership there. This was the culmination of several months of political trauma for the Obama campaign, beginning with revelations in the national media that Obama's pastor of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright, has made many politically contentious statements. My intention here is not to judge Senator Obama, Father Pfleger, or Jeremiah Wright, but I do want to assess the choice made by Senator Obama to leave his church of 20 years at the moment when it became a political liability to his campaign.

First, let me point out that I am a Roman Catholic. Thus, I am a member of the same universal Church in which Father Pfleger is an ordained priest. I am a proud Catholic, despite the fact that the Church has had some embarrassing and disgraceful moments in recent history, namely the sexual abuse scandals in the United States. Sadly, many people left the Church in the fallout of these scandals.

The question at hand is the following: Should someone leave their church because of the statements or abuses of some of their church's ministers?

Before I state my opinion, let me first say that every human should feel free to choose their place of worship for whatever reason they desire. This freedom, however, does not mean that others cannot criticize another person's choice of place of worship, or question their motivations for choosing one place of worship over another, particularly when the person in question is running for President of the United States.

In my opinion, the most important factor in choosing a church should be the tenets of faith that the church embraces. For the Catholic Church, these tenets are summarized in the Nicene Creed (“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen…”). Certainly, the qualities of the pastor or the faith community that you worship with might be secondary factors in one’s choice, but if one believes their church is ordained and protected by God, then the church should transcend the individuals who make up its membership or even its leadership.

I am reminded here of a story about St. Francis of Assisi, who lived in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. In this story, it is said that one of St. Francis’s brothers asked him what he would do if he knew that a priest celebrating Mass had three concubines on the side. St. Francis’s response was, “When it came time for Holy Communion, I would go to receive the sacred Body of my Lord from the priest's anointed hands.” The point is that ministers are ordained and “endorsed” by God, not by humans.

If I were a member of Father Pfleger’s St. Sabina parish in the south side of Church, I would take example from St. Francis and faithfully receive Holy Communion from Father Pfleger’s anointed hands. I would not leave his parish. If he was preaching heretical or inappropriate teachings, I might consider reporting this to the Bishop, but I wouldn’t publicly criticize Father Pfleger because to me he is a man of God and to criticize him would be unfaithful to Church teachings.

Senator Obama has instead completely abandoned his church for seemingly political reasons. He has not even said that he will remain a member of the United Church of Christ and simply seek another UCC congregation in which to worship. He just renounced his church at the moment that his church became a liability to his presidential aims.

Let me end by saying I respect Senator Obama’s right to leave his church for whatever reason he wants. And honestly, I hope he joins the Roman Catholic Church because I think it’s the greatest church in the universe. But the fact that he was so quick to leave his church when it was under a political firestorm, to me speaks volumes about whether he exemplifies some of the qualities I would like to see in the President of the United States: Loyalty, commitment, worthy ambition, and a strong, resilient faith.


Comments (Page 5)
on Jun 05, 2008
KFC POSTS #22
when Christ talked about the church he wasn't talking denomination or institution. He was speaking of people....."ecclesia." His church is his people. ....
He never meant to set up a religion for his name but a people for his name.


The term "Church" is generally believed to be derived from the Greek, "Kurikon" which means belonging to the Lord. So, from this we know the Church of Christ must be the Church Our Lord established, and not a man-made Church. It's often traced to the Greek word, "ecclesia" which means "place of assembly", Christian assembly, that is.

Your definition of "Church" is an invisible union of all believers, irrespective of thousands of different groupings, each with their own set of beliefs, but this is NOT what Scripture tells us Christ's Church is.

Scripture reveals that Christ's true Church is a body, not like the body of people, but an organic and spiritual society. This body, the Church, is not strictly a human body but is akin to being a divine body---the Mystical Body of Christ Himself. Col. 1:18, 1Cor.12:27; Eph. 5:30.

From this we can arrive at the conclusion that Christ's Church body must be a unified, not a segmented church body. We follow this by correlating the following:

"There shall be one fold and one shepherd" St.John 10:16. "And the glory that thou, Father has given Me, I have given to them, that they may be one, even as We are one." 17:22. You were called in one body...one spirit...one hope...one Lord...one faith...one baptism" Eph. 4:4-5.

So, there it is from Scripture that Christ's Church was established as one in every respect----one in membership, one in belief, one in worship, and one in government. That's the way Christ constituted His Church and that is the way it had to remain if it was always to be identified as His Body.

"Church" under your definition is not the concept described in Scripture for "all believers" cannot possibly constitute one Christian body becasue they are different in name, different in membership, different in belief, different in doctrine and cannot agree on what constitutes Christ's whole true Gospel. (let alone teach and preach it to the whole world until the end of time). Christ's Body never was and never will be a disjoined body.

The Catholic Church is a visible, spiritual society of baptized believers in Christ who are one in doctrine, one in faith, one in worship, etc. It is the Mystical Body of Christ. It's mystical in the sense that the supernatural life of Christ manifests witin her in such a way as to unite her members among themselves and with, in and through Christ.

Yes, the Catholic Church is a society of human members, but it is a supernatural society, that is spiritual in nature, which means the Chruch does not depend upon her members for life, as do all the sects. The difference between the CC from all other churches is that she alone is indestructible. The destruction of the Mystical Body of Christ would be the destruction of Christ and the Holy Spirit, something that is impossible.

To this and this alone can be attributed the indefectibility, the perpetuity of the CC, the inablity of the "gates of Hell tp prevail against it" during the 2000 years of her existence.






on Jun 05, 2008

I feel that you, KFC, are also a brother in Christ....

ha!  Nope that would be sister....as in a SHE!    At least that's what they tell me! 

Whether or not Peter was the leader of the early Church to me is less important than the issue of unity in the Church

this is quite true.  In the early church it wasn't about being a head or a leader but about order, love and unity.  Peter wrote that he was a servant like those he was writing to.  He never placed himself in high authority over the brethren. Neither did James.  We know that the HS gives us all spiritual gifts at conversion.  Some are called to be Pastors, some as teachers, some as encouragers, etc.  One is not better than an other like the arm is not better than the leg.  All are useful for the body and meant to build the body up.  Chist is the head of the church. 

The Pope also recalled how James the Less "played a preeminent role within the Church in Jerusalem. ... In the apostolic council held there ... he affirmed, together with others, that pagans could be welcomed into the Church without first undergoing circumcision." "St. Paul," the Pope went on, "names him even before Peter as a 'pillar' of the Church," and "the Jewish-Christians considered him to be their principal point of reference."

Well it looks like the Pope is agreeing with me here on this.  I have no problem with what he said Lula.  I believe he's quoting Gal 2:9 in which James is mentioned first and is just one verse that we can see James' prominence in the early church. 

"and when James and Cephas and John wo seemed to be pillars perceived the grace that was given to me they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised." 

Again, Paul is saying those that were in Jerusalem (the pillars) would take care of the Jewish believers and Paul's team would go to the Gentiles and witness.  Peter spent much of his time in Jerusalem until the end of his life where he ended up in Rome.  That's why I always thought it strange the CC would have focused on Peter instead of Paul.  The only verse they really are going on is Matt 16 and the reason you all quote it so.  There could/would be more evidence that Paul or even James could have been the guys to lead the church (if you're so inclined to believe this way) into the first century. 

 

 

on Jun 05, 2008

The term "Church" is generally believed to be derived from the Greek, "Kurikon" which means belonging to the Lord. So, from this we know the Church of Christ must be the Church Our Lord established, and not a man-made Church. It's often traced to the Greek word, "ecclesia" which means "place of assembly", Christian assembly, that is.

In the four Gospels the Greek word "ecclesia" occurs in Matthew 16:18 (Peter & the Rock) and in 18:17 (twice).  But it's found 24 times in Acts and over 60 times  in Paul's letters. 

It is used for both the whole body of beievers (the church of Jesus Christ) and for local congregations but NEVER for a building, as it is used today.  NEVER.

Ecclesia comes from the verb "kaleo" (call) and "ek" (out).  So it literally means "called out ones." 

These called out ones are answering the call of Christ to come out of their pagan cultish belief systems and worship the one true God. 

 

 

on Jun 05, 2008

Your definition of "Church" is an invisible union of all believers, irrespective of thousands of different groupings, each with their own set of beliefs, but this is NOT what Scripture tells us Christ's Church is.

yes, but not their own set of beliefs.  They have to adhere and believe in the Christ of the Old and New Testaments.  They have to be united by the Spirit in the essentials of the historical church (called out ones). 

This is EXACTLY what scripture tells us is Christ's church.  Exactly.  It's not about a building.  It's not about a denomination.  It is not about a creed, a pillar or a pope.  It's about Christ and our belief in him.  Are we following Him?  Are we listening to Him?  Are we sealed by the Holy Spirit to the day of final redemption?  Then we are part of that church the whole NT is speaking of regardless of what earthly denomination we belong to. 

You have CC pride that is NOT something we find anywhere in the NT.  We are not to think of ourselves as higher or mightier than others because we think we belong to the "right" group. 

 

 

on Jun 05, 2008

Yes, I will delete comments, such as the two disruptive and offensive posts you made, that do nothing but clutter up a post. Several people have taken quite a bit of time to discuss honestly an important issue concerning faith, and your snide remarks are unappreciated. I will NOT delete comments that I simply disagree with, as long as it is clear that the writer is being respectful and has put honest thought into his or her post.

 

When you delete comments, regardless of how you feel about them, it makes it look like you fear something.  I understand that you don't want me or anyone disrupting what you consider to be an important discussion, but dude - don't be a coward.   You posted this publically...let the public speak whether you like what they say or not.  You want a private discussion, then take it up in email.  Just 2 cents for ya to consider.  Pawn.

on Jun 06, 2008

Thanks for your two cents. Honestly, he literally just wrote "blah blah blah" in his post. I don't want my blog cluttered up with that nonesense. I want people to be able to read the essential arguments without weeding through.....weeds.

By the way, I fear no one but the Lord. And I don't mind being a pawn, if it's in the service of the Lord and His people.

on Jun 06, 2008
The term "Church" is generally believed to be derived from the Greek, "Kurikon" which means belonging to the Lord. So, from this we know the Church of Christ must be the Church Our Lord established, and not a man-made Church. It's often traced to the Greek word, "ecclesia" which means "place of assembly", Christian assembly, that is.


In ancient Greece the word ekklesia described a gathering of citizens that made decisions that affected their welfare. In the Septuagint it was used to translate Hebrew words that described an assembly of Israelites before God, the gathering of an army before battle, and unruly crowds. On cultic inscriptions it meant "meeting or assembly". Paul's usage of the word reflected this; he often spoke of the "churches of God" or the church as a supernatural body. It never was used to refer a nationwide group of believers or a building, and if a group of Christians weren't gathered together there was no 'church'. That's why it makes very little sense to speak of "the church" as if it meant an institutionalised group of believers around the world.

Anyway, it's just semantics and not a big deal. It's just interesting how often it's misused.

on Jun 06, 2008
When you delete comments, regardless of how you feel about them, it makes it look like you fear something. I understand that you don't want me or anyone disrupting what you consider to be an important discussion, but dude - don't be a coward. You posted this publically...let the public speak whether you like what they say or not. You want a private discussion, then take it up in email. Just 2 cents for ya to consider. Pawn.


No, he is using the delete in the right context. It is all well and good to promote open and honest debate, but another to have to abide gratuitous insults and libel. FOr the record, I did not read your comments that were deleted, and do not know how or why or even if they qualified in any of this context. However, I do use the delete button when the poster has nothing to add to the discussion except childish insults or refusing to give up beating an off topic dead horse when warned.

Remember, it is YOUR blog. You do not have to excuse or abide the immaturity of others all the time.
on Jun 06, 2008
In ancient Greece the word ekklesia described a gathering of citizens that made decisions that affected their welfare. In the Septuagint it was used to translate Hebrew words that described an assembly of Israelites before God, the gathering of an army before battle, and unruly crowds. On cultic inscriptions it meant "meeting or assembly". Paul's usage of the word reflected this; he often spoke of the "churches of God" or the church as a supernatural body. It never was used to refer a nationwide group of believers or a building, and if a group of Christians weren't gathered together there was no 'church'. That's why it makes very little sense to speak of "the church" as if it meant an institutionalised group of believers around the world.

Anyway, it's just semantics and not a big deal. It's just interesting how often it's misused.


At best we can say that the word "Church" in Biblical Greek has many meanings. I'm most concerned with the sense of its meaning when Christ said, "I will build My Church". St.Matt. 16:18. It's my understanding that in the Old Testament, the Greek word, "ecclesia" is used, not to designate a mere assemply but the whole theoratic society of the Israelites as the chosen nation of God. As far as I can tell, in the NT, the word is used also in this same sense of a unified and organized body, but transferred to the followers of Christ.

It's in this sense that I understand St.Matt. 18:16 and this is why I told KFC that her definition of "Church" as an invisible union of all believers, irrespective of thousands of different groupings, each with their own set of beliefs, is NOT what Scripture tells us Christ's Church is.





on Jun 06, 2008
By the way, I fear no one but the Lord. And I don't mind being a pawn, if it's in the service of the Lord and His people.


Me too. Better a pawn in service of Almighty God than of Satan.
on Jun 07, 2008

ha! Nope that would be sister....as in a SHE! At least that's what they tell me!

Sorry about that, sister!

on Jun 07, 2008
In ancient Greece the word ekklesia described a gathering of citizens that made decisions that affected their welfare. In the Septuagint it was used to translate Hebrew words that described an assembly of Israelites before God, the gathering of an army before battle, and unruly crowds. On cultic inscriptions it meant "meeting or assembly". Paul's usage of the word reflected this; he often spoke of the "churches of God" or the church as a supernatural body. It never was used to refer a nationwide group of believers or a building, and if a group of Christians weren't gathered together there was no 'church'. That's why it makes very little sense to speak of "the church" as if it meant an institutionalised group of believers around the world.


Amen.

on Jun 07, 2008
Me too. Better a pawn in service of Almighty God than of Satan.


exactly. We may not admit this but we are either slaves to Christ or slaves to sin. The only diff is Christ sets us free where sin keeps us bound not wanting us to break those chains.

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