Re: A response to Burgy

From: Walter Hicks (
Date: Thu Jun 12 2003 - 14:13:16 EDT

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    Hello Jim,

    Let me respond also -- just for the sake of discussion.

    At the church I attend, the requirement for membership is that a person states
    that he or she is a committed Christian who has given his life to the Lord.
    Nobody asks if they have any unique sin they wish to offer up. However, if any
    person openly professes to be living a particular lifestyle that falls in the
    category of "sin" (as the church sees it), then they would be refused membership
    until they gave it up. The obvious example is a heterosexual couple living (and
    having sex) together but not married. A gay relationship would also qualify
    ----- or to be extreme , an acknowledged jewel thief. No specific sin is singled
    out. It is the desire to continue in the practice of sin, _any_ sin, that is

    As I see it, nowadays it the gay community that is singling itself out -- rather
    than the other way around.

    In the church I attend, nobody is turned away at the door. Anybody can attend the
    services and the classes -- and receive communion if they feel comfortable with
    it. Nobody is offered anything other than an opportunity for Christian
    fellowship. Many classes exist where atheists -- or people with any other belief
    are welcome to attend and discuss any issue.

    As you say, there are many Churches and many sets of beliefs. If sexually active
    gay people want to join a Church, I am certain that they can find one them suits
    them. I see no reason for forcing Churches that wish to follow the Bible to
    change their outlook and redefine what is or is not sinful to them.

    I know some churches that insist that one cannot drink wine and be a member. So
    be it. I neither have to join them nor do I need to start a vendetta to change
    them -- even though I believe they are wrong.



    Jim Armstrong wrote:

    > Churches form up around a shared set of beliefs and practices, so in
    > that sense, they can set any standards they choose.
    > But, just for the sake of discussion (these questions obviously trouble
    > me)...
    > If a person is welcome to attend, but not to become a member until they
    > clean up their particular sin in a way and extent not demanded of other
    > folks with their particular sins, are they really welcome? For instance,
    > are gays likely to really feel welcome in the churches of a particular
    > denomination who are avowedly "seeker-friendly" but who have also made
    > some very public and official gay-hostile declarations?
    > And isn't there a pretty explicit judgement in expressing that
    > particular straighten-up-and-fly-right-first distinction, not generally
    > applied with respect to many other sins? Or is it our experience that
    > when we repented, we were suddenly no longer troubled by sins that
    > previously beset us? Is there any one of us who has not realized later
    > in life that something that we previously thought was OK was in fact not
    > OK any more? That's the maturation process, and I think the work of the
    > Paraclete (e.g., "God alone convicts.").
    > If a church says a person may or may not become a member depending upon
    > which flavor of sin they practice, isn't that creating a de facto sin
    > hierarchy (some sins are better than others)? Sin heirarchy is obviously
    > not an unknown concept, but not universally held among evangelical
    > churches - at least in theory.
    > I recall visiting a dear man in his late 50's who was tenderhearted and
    > clearly was under conviction, but unable to bring himself to accept
    > God's forgiveness. He said that he had worked all his life in the auto
    > industry and he had a real struggle with language, and though he had
    > wanted to for a long time, he just could not walk the aisle in that
    > condition. We had the privilege of sharing with him God wanted him (us)
    > in that condition (that was and is my belief). A couple of days later,
    > he walked the aisle with unrestrained tears of joy and relief. His
    > "affliction" became better with time.
    > I recall a friend of mine describing a visit to a popular non-denom
    > church which found him sitting in front of a couple of biker sorts,
    > leathers and studs and all. The problem was that their language was
    > colorful and profane and my friend (who has a bit of a temper) was about
    > to turn around and suggest that they tone it down. But he didn't,
    > abruptly changing his mind because it occurred to him that they were in
    > the right place, and though sitting in front of them was not
    > pleasurable, he experienced enough grace to handle it. Moreover, he
    > concluded that the conviction business was God's and he was quite
    > capable. He settled for rejoicing that they had found their way into the
    > service, and he was there to share the moment is some small way. What
    > might their reaction have been if my friend had followed his initial
    > impulse?
    > On another occasion, I was teaching a class at church wherein one of the
    > women attendees - a divorcee - announced that God had told her that it
    > was OK for her now to be living unmarried with a long-time man friend.
    > Now she knew what scripture teaches, but she was by nature a bit
    > rebellious and one to challenge people with her statements. I suppose we
    > could have "churched" for for her chosen life circumstance, particularly
    > because she had the temerity to lay it all out for us to look at and
    > respond to. The problem was, we all knew her and loved her, we didn't
    > really have to remind her of that which she already knew, and our sense
    > was that conviction and change would come in time through the Holy
    > Spirit, and the alternative was to alienate her from us and in all
    > probablity from church life entirely.
    > Particularly in the last case it might seem that I've missed a point
    > here about repentance of sin. But again, is there any one of us who has
    > not realized later in life that something that we previously thought was
    > OK was in fact not OK any more?
    > The latter two interactions certainly could have been handled in more
    > confrontational and "righteous" ways, but my sense was that the paths
    > chosen were more redemptive and less alienating. Others may reasonably
    > (and apparently) see it differently.
    > I recognize that this is no easy matter, but in any case, we should at
    > the very least make every effort be consistent in the way we approach
    > the matter of sins.
    > I have no issue with a higher standard for leadership where we have
    > higher expectations for them as role models.
    > Jim Armstrong

    Walt Hicks <>

    In any consistent theory, there must
    exist true but not provable statements.
    (Godel's Theorem)

    You can only find the truth with logic
    If you have already found the truth
    without it. (G.K. Chesterton)

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