We began this morning (after breakfast) with two songs. Corean played the baby grand and we sang an old African American spiritual “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me.” Ray then asked if anyone had questions or reflections on our time yesterday. The first question was how did Ray choose the people for his mission trail. Ray began by talking about Barnabas (his choice for the first century). Ray identifies with Barnabas as Barnabas was a reconciler. This led to a discussion about the difference between Truth churches (churches that insist on right doctrine), churches which are bounded set – you must believe the way we believe to belong, and Grace churches, or churches that operate a bit more centered set. Grace churches are secure in what they believe but that is not the criteria for belonging. Good discussion.
Next, a discussion regarding homosexuality and the church. Ray talked about the difference he sees between advocacy and co-belligerence. He explained that under the U.S. Constitution homosexuality is not illegal therefore he would absolutely advocate for gay rights including civil unions. As a Christian he does not believe this is God’s design (but neither is a child born with a missing limb) so he would not be co-belligerent meaning he is with you on one issue (rights) and will stand with you there. This doesn’t mean he loses his ethic (whether it be heterosexual or homosexual).
Next, we discussed who were the current day Gnostics? This discussion went a way I was not expecting. Gnostics remember wanted nothing to do with the earth, they had special knowledge and everything was about escaping this body and our desires (sounds a bit Buddhist) but the point of Christianity is (Ray speaking) God opens the Scripture with his hands in the mud, creating humanity out of the very dust of the earth, and then closes in Revelation with his hands in the mud creating a new heaven and earth cleaning up all the toxic waste humankind has dumped and right in the middle of the Scripture we actually find God incarnating into a human body – nothing could be farther from Gnosticism than this God of Christianity. The other issue Ray raised was one I need to think about. The early church had such a strong view of the physical resurrection of the body that they would never think of cremation. Today we live in a culture that does not want to deal with the dead. We have so disconnected ourselves from death he feels that cremation becomes a way of staying in denial. Hmmm, I understand what he is saying…I don’t think we as Americans have a very good theology of death, and it is also very, very expensive to bury people. Ray talks about cemetery tours – he sees them as our “great cloud of witnesses” that we should take our children to and teach them about the people that went before us. He raises an interesting perspective on death and dying.
A highlight for me, Ray’s quote. “I no longer pastor a church in a community I am the pastor of a church for a community.”
We then looked at the heresies of the early church. Heresies are exaggerations of the truth. Heresies actually helped the church as it forced the early church to wrestle with truth. Here are the list we covered this afternoon:
Ebionites – They tried to Judaize Jesus – Issue – Was he just Jewish or is he more?
Montanism – Montan is the Holy Spirit – How do we hear the Holy Spirit pre-canon?
Marcion – Old Testament God and New Testament God opposed – Christian anti-Semitism
Arianism – Is Jesus subordinate to God? - Is Jesus similar to or the same as the Father?
Modalism – One God three roles – Is Jesus human?
Adoptionist – God adopted Jesus – Is Jesus God?
Nestorianism – The hypostatic union – How do the two natures of Christ fit together?
Eutichius – The Divine nature is shrunken version of human – One nature – the opposite of Nestorianism.
Our last session before breaking to watch the movie “Luther” was a discussion on the doctrine of Sacred Space. (the bell just rang for dinner will continue later).