Thursday, January 31, 2013

On Interviews & Testimonies, Part III

Continued from Part II.

It's been so long since I wrote the first two essays on this topic that I had to go back and read them again to remember what I had written.  What I am trying to do here is work through some of the problems I have encountered when well-meaning Christian leaders conduct "interviews" designed to determine the spiritual condition of a candidate.  The candidate might be a child being interviewed for a place at the Lord's Table or church membership or enrollment in a Christian school.  Adults are also interviewed for the same reasons.  There are any number of situations in which churches, schools, presbyteries, etc. seek to determine the spiritual status of another person.

I have observed that we tend to get stuck in a few well-worn ruts in these interview sessions.  There seems to be a "tradition" of Christian interviewing that has developed over the years.  Interviewers are looking for the right words and phrases.  When we hear them, we relax and move on.  If we don't hear them, we become very concerned.  And not only are there distinctive phrases we are hoping to hear, there are also words that set off flashing red lights and alarms.

In Part II we saw that at the Last Judgment (the final interview) the authenticity of every professing Christian's faith will be judged based on his life and work.  As I said last time, this does not mean we are saved by our works.  Nor does it imply that somehow our good works will have to outweigh our sins.  There will be no righteousness/sins balance sheet.  What it does mean is that everyone who says, "I love Jesus" or "I love God" or "I was saved at age 16" or "Jesus died for my sins" or even "I'm saved by grace alone" will have the authenticity of his orthodox verbal profession either certified or invalidated by his life.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Homosexual Horror

This week the Boy Scouts of America announced that they are considering dropping the ban on homosexual scouts and leaders.

Let me tell you a story.

In the 80's a field-grade Army officer in our church came out of the tent.  Not the closet.  The tent.  A Boy Scout tent.  He came to the leadership of the church and we heard his horrific confession.  For decades he had, as Scout leader, been seducing young boys at Scout camp outs.  He was married with children himself.  He was a respected leader in the church.  He was a homosexual predator in secret.

What was most chilling about his confession to us was his description of how widespread this was in the Scouts at the time.  There was even surreptitious collaboration among homosexual Scout leaders about which boys were most vulnerable.  Crap like that makes your skin crawl.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  He was by his own confession quite successful in grooming boys fairly quickly.  It is often claimed that "grooming" a boy normally takes a long time. That's true in ordinary, day-to-day life.  But on campouts and extended retreats it can be done quickly because men and boys are together for long stretches of time and because the stressful challenges of the campout or retreat help to break down a boy's normal defenses, making him more vulnerable to intimate male "companionship."

This man was never caught.  He could have continued to seduce young scouts for years.  He was good at it.  But God wouldn't let him rest.  His conscience goaded him to come clean.

I vowed then and there that if the Lord blessed me with a boy, he would never be a Scout.

If I'm not mistaken, there was some sort of crackdown on this in the late 90's and early 00's. I think it was in conjunction with the pedophilia scandals in the Roman church, but I'm not sure.

So now we have the oh so wonderful news that the Boy Scouts of America may openly admit homosexual leaders and scouts some time soon.  But no one has to worry because local units could continue to exclude homosexuals.  Right.  For how long?

The idea that local clubs will be able to make their own decisions is worse than useless.  Forget about sending your boys to any kind of overnight function that includes other units.  You may have all the safeguards in the world in place in your local club, but all bets are off when your boy packs up for a regional or national summer camp out.

Just think about it.

Back in 1982, I read Enrique Rueda's The Homosexual Network.  At that time the homosexual "rights"  movement was just a blip on the horizon.  Reuda was prescient.  He saw what was coming.

I plan to aggregate articles related to this topic that you may find helpful:

Matthew J. Franck – The Boy Scouts and Neuhaus' Law (First Things)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


In his Introduction to Christian Liturgy Senn has a quick, but fascinating summary of the development of lectionary readings:
No complete lectionary systems exist before the seventh century, althought there are references in the writings of the church fathers to certain readings being read on certain days. For example, we learn from Augustine's commentary on John that dhe book of Genesis was read duriing Lent, the books of Job and Jonah during Holy Week, the Gospel Passion narratives on Good Friday, the resurrection narratives on Easter, and the book of Acts during Easter season.
Nothing too surprising here.  But then there's this:
In fact, only with the development of a church-year calendar with specific days and seasons would a lectionary with pericopes even be needed; otherwise biblical books were read continuously. The earliest extant lectionaries are Bibles with marginal markings indicating the beginnings and endings of readings (p. 65).
Now just because the lectio continua is earlier than the pericope system doesn't necessarily make it right.  Once the church started multiplying memorial events in the life of Jesus and then adding saints days the pericope system became inevitable.  I believe that some combination of the two is best.  Use the pericope system during Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter, but between these read through whole books of the Bible.  It may even be advantageous to take a year off of the pericope system now and then.