Friday, August 29, 2014
Declaring to be a part of the faithful remnant means, simply/summarily, praying and trying to follow Jesus by the book.
The faithful remnant will not pay for or participate in apostasies.
Below are three examples of how parts of the faithful remnant from different franchises aka denominations are fleshing it out.
A PCUSA church discovered this codicil in its bylaws: "The bylaws may not be amended contrary to or so as not to include provisions of the constitution of the PCUSA."
Recommendation as part of declaring remnant: "The bylaws may not be amended contrary to or so as not to include provisions of the constitution of the PCUSA as long as they do not contradict Christianity as personified in Jesus, prescribed in Holy Scripture, and upheld by over two thousand years of Biblical, confessional, constitutional, traditional, historical, and common sense Christianity."
Bylaw: "A secondary law."
The Confession of 1967: "Confessions and declarations are subordinate standards in the church, subject to the authority of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, as the Scriptures bear witness to Him."
Edward A. Dowey: "The much-quoted and often misconstrued motto, ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda, 'the church reformed must always be reformed,' is part of a phrase that continues secundum verbum Dei, 'according to the Word of God.' Reform, thus, especially as a proper name, for example in Reformed tradition, means not change or alteration as such, nor does it signify a revolution that tries to start over without looking back...Our question now should not be 'Are we successful?' but 'Are we faithful?'"
Simply/summarily, bylaws are subordinate standards to Jesus by the book.
Putting it another way, the faithful remnant only recognizes authority focused on and filtered through Jesus by the book.
Peter: "Listen to my message! It's about Jesus!"
A PCUSA church declared remnant and established a task force to flesh it out: "We will consider all options in our praying and desire to be faithful to Jesus by the book."
They have begun developing policies consistent with their understanding of being a part of the faithful remnant in the midst of civil and ecclesiastical hostilities.
Here's how another church is praying and trying to remain faithful:
There's an old song, "I have decided to follow Jesus...no turning back...though none go with me, yet I will..."
It's a human instinct to survive.
Human instincts converted to Christianity pray and labor to follow Jesus by the book in all things at all times in all places with all people.
It's a human instinct to sit on the fence and be most concerned about personal/vocational securities, perks, pleasures, and other imperial priesthood anti-Matthew 15/23 abominations.
Some people exchange those temporal niceties for eternal realities because, shhhhhhh, they don't really believe in the eternal consequences of existential beliefs confirmed by behaviors or any of that Jesus by the book stuff as evidenced by their abominable accommodations with evil. They are professional pewsitters/pulpiteers with no personal relationship with Jesus.
What do we really hear when we sing that old song?
"What does it profit a person to...?"
Blessings and Love!
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
A few years before concluding 16 consecutive years of exemplary service as Belvidere, Illinois' Mayor, Fred told me that he did not plan to run again.
I said, "Brother, while you have served our community, county, state, and country with unparalleled distinction and integrity as my favorite mayor of all time, I'm sensing your greatest leadership will now begin as an elder for Him in our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main."
Proving that was an apocalyptic moment for us, Fred has become a visionary elder beyond the borders of petty parochialisms and shameless disobedience to our Lord's High Priestly Prayer in John 17 as he has prayed and labored tirelessly to bring the churches of our area together for common ministry under the Lordship of Jesus by the book.
He is also helping to shape our understanding of declaring to be part of the faithful remnant in the PCUSA.
He has written the next several paragraphs to help explain why we have declared remnant as he urges others likewise.
Why We Declared Remnant
On September 25th, 1960, the 1st Presbyterian Church in Belvidere, Illinois presented me the Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments. Leading up to that day, and ever since that day, I was taught, and I believed, the Holy Bible to be the infallible Word of God. The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments is a complete and unified witness to God’s redemptive acts culminating in the incarnation of the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible, uniquely and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the supreme and final authority on all matters on which it speaks.
1 Corinthians 5: 1 – 2. It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife, 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
1 Corinthians 5: 9 – 13. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; 10 not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber – not even to eat with such a one.
12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside, “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”
1 Corinthians 6: 9 – 19. Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the Spirit of God. 12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” – and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two shall become one.” 17 But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Now comes the action taken by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), during the 221st General Assembly (2014), with the approval of an authoritative interpretation and a Book of Order amendment permitting ministers and sessions to use their own discernment to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies where allowed by law. Biblical and theological rationales provided by the Office of the General Assembly on this action reflects a greater desire for the Church leadership to respond to the will of people, rather than the will of God, as provided within the Holy Bible.
Confusion created in many minds by this change in authoritative interpretation by the Presbyterian Church (USA), begs the question, “What does it mean to be ‘Presbyterian’?” The Evangelical Presbyterian Church, as an example of friends who have exited faithfully, offer the following definition: “To be Presbyterian is to be governed according to the pattern of elders seen in the Old and New Testaments. We are ruled neither by bishops in a hierarchical model not by members in a congregational model. Biblically qualified elders are recognized through congregational election and, along with ministers, rule the church corporately. It also means being connected in mutual accountability and responsibility. Just as individual Christians are connected to one another as members of the body of Christ, so also individual congregations are connected under Christ as the great Head of the Church”
Upon becoming an Elder in Our Family of Faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main (Belvidere, Illinois), where Jesus is Lord, and only Jesus is Lord, the authority of the Bible as our manual was reinforced. Session’s desire to remain faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ, by the Book, and only by the Book, adopted a proclamation to become recognized as “A Remnant in the Presbyterian Church USA”.
So what has changed? Is the Bible out of touch with life as we know it today, or is society out of touch with the Bible?
Read the words of the New Testament In Contemporary Language from Eugene H. Peterson’s The Message/Remix.
1 Corinthians 5: 1-2 I also received a report of scandalous sex within you church family, a kind that wouldn’t be tolerated even outside the church. One of your men is sleeping with his stepmother. And you’re so above it all that it doesn’t even faze you! Shouldn’t this break your hearts? Shouldn’t it bring you to your knees in tears? Shouldn’t this person and his conduct be confronted and dealt with?
1 Corinthians 5: 9-13 I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue – or whit-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when one of your Christian companions is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, get drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.
1 Corinthians 6: 9 – 19 Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experiences what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Mater, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit. Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around dong whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims. You know the old saying, “First you eat to live, and then you live to eat”? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body!
That is why we have declared to be part of the faithful remnant in the PCUSA and beyond our parochial borders. Isn’t it time for you to declare?
“For what does it profit us to go along with the unfaithful majority, if we lose are souls?”
In closing, hear the word of the Lord from Colossians 2: 6 – 8 As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 8 See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.
Love, Mercy & Peace,
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Fainthearted pewsitters/pulpiteers are rolling the dice.
Can they undershepherd the precious children of Jesus, protecting them from the wolves at the door, by sitting on the fence and hoping time will take care of...?
Or will they be run over by the traffic speeding in opposite directions?
Not to further salt 'em, and I know this isn't as important as perks and pleasures and vocational securities and other niceties hedged so temporarily, but, uh, what would Jesus say/do?
Ah, let's sprinkle some more.
How fainthearts respond to this moment in Hisstory will go a long way in proving what they think really happens after the last breath: "What does it profit a person to...?"
Sooooooo, roll the dice.
Heaven or hell, you've been doing it forever.
Rolling the dice.
My favorite pret' near last really faithful seminary P observed, "Students get riled up about something every spring; but then they go off for the summer or go off to churches and we're back to normal in the fall."
My favorite dad said last week after looking at what's becoming of America, "People think time heals everything. Not true. Those who do nothing enable evil that never heals."
Rolling the dice.
I think, and what I think may be wrong and always begs calls to confession and repentance, it's enough for faithful pewsitters/pulpiteers to simply say, "We declare that we're part of the faithful remnant praying and trying to honor Jesus by the book."
While I think that's enough and while I think anyone who can't say that is flirting with apostasy or enabling apostasy, some folks like to flesh it out a bit more as if God in Jesus as affirmed/articulated in over 2K years of Biblical, confessional, traditional, historical, constitutional, and common sense Christianity ain't enough.
So here are two examples (sic) of folks who have declared.
Remnant in the PCUSA Proclamation
WHEREAS, since the abomination of action taken by the General Assembly in Detroit, Michigan, many faithful women and men remain faithful and are resisting the temptations to hide, run away, or quit, and
WHEREAS, those of us who are praying and laboring to remain faithful share spiritual sympathies with those who are exiting, with cognizance that “they’re” coming after us next, and
WHEREAS, we may be forced out in a Kenyonesque kind of way, making how to remain faithful presents us with a challenge and opportunity, and
WHEREAS, through the centuries, God has always saved a faithful remnant in a sick and sin-filled world.
NOW THEREFORE, (insert name and location of church) does hereby proclaim to be:
A REMNANT in the PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH USA
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we the undersigned Elders of ________________________________ have hereunto set our hands and caused our signatures to be affixed this ____ Day of _____________, in the year of our Lord __________.
[Submitted for Session to Adopt & Sign in ________________ ]
The “Faithful”* in the PCUSA Proclamation
WHEREAS, the actions taken by the 220th & 221st General Assemblies, are in conflict with the Word of God, many congregations are trying to remain faithful to PC(USA) fellowship for now and are resisting temptation to hide, run away, or quit, and
WHEREAS, (insert church name) members are remaining faithful to Jesus as supported by the Word of God, the Confessions of our denomination, and over two thousand years of historical and common sense Christianity; and
WHEREAS, (insert name of church) affirms its intent for now to remain in the PC(USA) to support other churches that stand on the Bible, submitting Per Capita paid by individual members; and
WHEREAS, while remaining faithful to God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and His Word, we will be outspoken as a prophetic voice of rebuke in PCUSA; and
WHEREAS, (insert name of church) stands on the authority of God’s Word (Bible) for directing Christian life, both individually and as a church; and
WHEREAS, we acknowledge John 14:6 where Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me;” and
WHEREAS, through the centuries, God has always saved a Faithful few (remnant-Romans 11:5 … chosen by grace) in a sick and sin-filled world.
NOW THEREFORE, the congregation of (insert name and location of church) does hereby proclaim to be:
THE FAITHFUL* in the PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH USA
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we the undersigned Elders of (insert name and location of church) have hereunto set our hands and caused our signatures to be affixed this ____th Day of ______________, in the year of our Lord (insert year). (* = Faithful Remnant)
[Submitted for Session to Adopt &Sign in ______________ ]
Attest: ___________________________ Attest: ___________________________
Clerk of Session Moderator
I'm sure other faithful folks will add, subtract, amend, and so on.
Yet, again, it will all be adding and subtracting to the main purpose of declaring: praying and trying to be for Jesus by the book.
You've got three options in my opinion; and my opinion may be wrong and I encourage your corrections and calls to confession and repentance.
1. You can get out of the river and exit faithfully.
2. You can go with the flow and join the elated majority in your franchise and embrace the apostasies because you care more about your perks, pleasures, vocational securities, and niceties more than you care about your existential to eternal relationship with Jesus.
3. You can swim against the popularly unfaithful current and declare you are part of the faithful remnant.
I know this scares everything but the devil outta ya; but ya better say/do somethin' before...
Blessings and Love!
Thursday, August 21, 2014
"The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever
trusts in the Lord is safe."
A geezer within five years of me from either side came to see me to complain as only geezers within five years of me from either side can: "I don't like how you write on KD and I don't like how you write newsletter columns. I don't like your books. It's almost as if you're coming from another planet or something."
Rejoinder: "Nanu. Nanu."
Response: "Not everything is funny, Dr. Kopp, and if you think your writings are funny..."
Rejoinder: "I'm not always trying to be funny; and some people just don't get my humor. So be it."
Response: "Why can't you write like me and other writers?"
Rejoinder: "Aside from that sounding a tad narcissistic, I'm not you. I like humor and metaphor and think of my style as Daliesque or Vonnegutian or..."
Response: "You always talk about never selling many of your books; so maybe if you listened to people like me who don't like how you write..."
Rejoinder: "Got me there, my three points and a poem, friend. Really, you're right! Obviously, I've never had a bestseller and, according to the last stats, I'm running about a trillion to one behind sales from those Joel and Ricky guys."
Response: "You're not listening to me!"
Rejoinder: "Au contraire! I'm listening just fine; but I'm not agreeing with you on how I should write. Darlin', there's a difference between listening and agreeing. I'm listening but not agreeing."
Response: "You make up words and don't complete sentences and use fragments and..."
Rejoinder: "Whoa! You've really taken a lot of time to analyze me. Are you sure there's not something else going on here?"
Response: "I'm not getting anywhere with you."
Rejoinder: "Actually, I'll think about all of this and..."
Response: "I want you to change how you write for people like me. You're my pastor and I expect you to do things like I want you to do them."
Rejoinder: "Though the comparison is like a BB gun to heavy artillery, I recall Picasso saying he could paint like Raphael at 12; yet it took a long time before he could see deep enough to paint abstractly."
Response: "This is useless."
I took that to mean I am useless in her, uh, book.
She left and I haven't seen her since.
Get out Greg Holden's The Lost Boy!
It's a song for Opie and...
That's a long introduction to mentioning Thomas Horn's recently released Blood on the Altar: The Coming War Between Christian vs. Christian.
A local street preacher who was special ops in Vietnam and South America whose obsession is eschatology bought it for me because he said it has a lot about remnant in it.
It's also got a lotta funky stuff in it in a hyperbolically eschatological kinda way.
Frankly, it's beyond me because my eschatology is pretty simple.
Jesus came and will return and will win; and those who love Him will share in the eternal celebration despite some persecution along the way to victory.
Moretheless, here are some quotes that caught my attention in a remnant-encouraging-consciousness-raising John 16:1-3 and Revelation 20:4 kinda way:
"When you see prominent Christian authors being featured in the mainstream press and talking about Christianity and Islam serving the same god, you know that the battle is looming...[between religious Christians and Christians who love the Jesus of the Bible]..."
"If a Christian calls homosexuality a sin or speaks negatively about Islamism, he is branded...as 'homophobic' or 'Islamaphobic'..."
"If a judge can order an independent cake maker to go against her conscience to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, how long will it be before pastors are required to perform gay weddings or face criminal prosecution?"
"J. Vernon McGee, one of the most beloved Bible teachers of the past century, surprised his listeners with the declaration that, in America, true biblical believers will ultimately have to go 'underground'...he added the observation that the attack against them will come from the denominational churches."
"Today, giving a serviceman a Bible is illegal."
"The basic tenets of the church are being rewritten...[by mainline denominations]...to placate fleshly desires."
"The greatest threat to the remnant has been nominal Christians...[in mainline denominations]...who joined the new movement of the religious spirits in their nations!"
"...Western culture has entered a post-Christian era. As a result, the Christian church is deeply polarized...The dividing line is the authority of Scripture."
"Instead of being Christ's missionaries to the lost world, mainline...[denominations]...are now...the world's missionaries to the church."
"Even the outspoken antitheist Christopher Hitchens...[has]...a better understanding of Christianity than what most...mainline Christians express...[When Unitarian minister Marilyn Sewell said she was a liberal Christian who doesn't take the stories from the Bible literally, he said...]...'I would say that if you don't believe that Jesus...was the Christ and Messiah, and that He rose again from the dead and by His sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you're really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.'"
"...[Mainline denominations are]...challenging and rejecting God's revealed understanding of moral right and wrong as much as the secular community."
"...not all that is labeled 'Christian' actually is consistent with classical Christianity."
Horn's book also mentions Francis Schaeffer's last book The Great Evangelical Disaster on several occasions; citing one of the most poignant purposes of the faithful remnant as antidote for the apostasies of mainline denominations: "Here is the great evangelical disaster - the failure...to stand for truth as truth. There is only one word for this...accommodation...the church has accommodated to the world spirit of the age...As Bible-believing Christians, we come from a variety of backgrounds. But in our moment of history, we need each other."
Summarily, the faithful remnant as antidote to the apostasies looks up, stands up, speaks up, and acts up for Jesus by the book as supported by 2K years of confessional, traditional, historical, and common sense Christianity.
In short, the faithful remnant declares.
The next KD will feature an example of one church's formal declaration as part of the faithful remnant.
Blessings and Love!
Sunday, August 17, 2014
"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and
perceived that they were uneducated, common men,
they were astonished. And they recognized that
they had been with Jesus."
I have mourned, confessed, and prayed/tried to repent from my sin in the booth during the last election for POTUS.
Convinced neither candidate really intended to honor Jesus by the book, I decided to vote for the lesser of two evils.
As I left the voting booth early that November morning, it dawned on me: "Voting for the lesser of two evils is still evil."
Whether you agree with my inspiration/indigestion, the Biblical maxim is true.
We are either for Jesus or not for Jesus in every thought, decision, and action.
We are either honoring Him by the book or we are not honoring Him by the book; except, of course, when it comes to stuff that some trivialists will mention to distract us from the point.
Anyway, once to every woman/man and nation/church comes the moment to decide...
I think of the bravehearted elder and lawyer who confronted one of the most shamelessly aggressive eisegetes that I'd ever witnessed during a special presbytery meeting after the dude rationalized the abominations of an increasingly apostate denomination and said, in effect, we gots ta compromise on the Word every now and then to get along with the culture: "The Jesus I know of the New Testament wasn't very compromising."
The proverbial father of the Confessing Church Movement comes to mind as he said this to one of those fainthearted clergy types who love the perks, pleasures, vocational securities, and other temporal niceties that come to 'em by accommodating the infidelities of those who provide 'em after the silly guy claimed having, at least, polity in common: "If we don't have Jesus and the Bible in common, we have nothing in common!"
Ah, let Him speak for Himself: "No one gets to the Father except through Me."
Unless you're a really, really, really good eisegete, ain't no place in the Bible that you find Him pretending good and evil have anything in common.
He also has some tough to damning things to say especially to clergy about choosing cultural accommodations over Him; but, of course, if you're one of 'em, you've already deleted that from your holy book in a rationalizing Jeffersonian kinda way.
That's why remnant isn't the majority...yet...in a Philippians 2:9-11 kinda way.
I'm convinced cultural accommodators don't really believe Jesus has the keys to eternal life.
For if they did,...
If I have to explain that to you,...
Accommodators remind me of Procter and Gamble's Swash: "targeted to Gen Yers who tend to re-wear their clothes rather than wash them after every use."
Swash will "fresh it up, smooth it out, steam it out, and get it out."
In other words, Swash neutralizes the odors for a while that won't really go away without a good washing.
Reminds me of a, uh, friend when I was studying in Germany who applied lots of perfume to try to convince me that she bathed more often than weekly.
Once we got a little closer if you know what I mean, she still smelled badly.
No amount of perfume could cover up the stink just below the surface.
Catch the metaphor?
Unless there's some real cleaning up via confession and repentance with Jesus by the book as focus and filter, the stink's gonna remain and get worse.
Remnant tells the truth about pewsitters and pulpiteers and frachisers who try to cover up their stinkiness with rationalizing and accommodating and increasingly apostate perfumes.
Remnant washes not swashes.
Blessings and Love!