1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and clarity of vision

A friend of mine has a parishioner who is struggling with the notion of how queer inclusivity reconciles with biblical teachings.  The verses particularly in question are 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.

This is one of the seven-or-so Bible quotes that gets frequently trotted out in order to condemn gay folks on the cheap.  It’s particularly convenient for the nay-gay-sayers because, like Lev. 18:22, it seems so uncomplicated: here is a list of people who are sinners, condemned, officially blocked by God (and/or Paul) from getting into heaven.  Clearly, this thinking goes, whatever Paul meant when he included the words “sodomites” and “male prostitutes” on this list, is the same as our understanding of the queer folks in our midst today.

So when my friend asked me my thoughts on it, I first cracked open my exegetical resources, then read the passage in its broader context.  I read about how these verses — especially in view of Paul generally and 1 Corinthians particularly — are about behaviors which demonstrate greed and excess, and which result in breach and division within the community.  Reading in this light, it does not seem at all convincing that Paul’s inclusion of the words “sodomites” and “male prostitutes” amounts to God’s categorical rejection of all people in same sex relationships.

But then a couple days later, I woke up thinking about this text, and for some reason, thought immediately of a second verse:

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

To me, these words from Jesus are a fundamental aspect of Christian posture and priority.  When it comes to judging the evils of others, I need to be sure that I’m know what I’m looking at.  When I endeavor to say “God sez…” I need to make damned sure that I know what I’m talking about.  Maybe I should devote more time and energy into my own spiritual well-being, before attacking that of someone else.  And at the end of it all, I think it behooves Christians to construct arguments about who’s in and who’s out with more than just a small handful of references that work best when stripped from their original context.

First the log…then the speck.

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15 Responses to “1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and clarity of vision”

  1. Kathryn Says:

    I did some background research on this verse, too, because I had to teach it in one of my religion classes. I learned that “sodomite” is not a very good translation because the verse doesn’t reference Sodom at all. It’s a neologism that combines the words for “man” and “bed,” and so perhaps can more accurately be considered an allusion to the prohibition on men sleeping with men in the Leviticus quote you mention.

    One reference I read suggested that, when juxtaposed with male prostitutes (literally, “soft ones,” sometimes translated as “effeminates”), it specifically refers to men who pay other men to have sex with them. From what I can tell, this was the most pervasive form of man-on-man action during that time.

    This is interesting for me here in Nicaragua, because that is also the most well-known form of homosexual activity here. I almost feel like the 1 Corinthians could be good in this context if encourages men to dare to seek out real relationships with each other instead of getting their kicks through prostitution.

    I don’t think it’s exegetically unsound to interpret this verse as a general condemnation of men having sex with men (though it is unsound to apply it to women). The question for me is so what? If the Bible doesn’t resonate with my experience of life and God, I don’t accept it. I’m not saying it never challenges me to see things in a new way. But if the Bible would say the sky isn’t blue, I wouldn’t believe it. Anyone who claims they do otherwise is lying. Based on my observations of life, I can’t be made to believe that the love between two people of the same sex isn’t real and true, and therefore good. A few Bible texts that discourage sexual acts between people of the same sex simply can’t match up against my life experience. I have to believe God is in that creation I experience as well as the Bible.

  2. Tom Ryberg Says:

    I totally hear you, Kathryn. I’m just not willing to conclude, based on these scant verses alone, that there was nothing resembling holistic same-sex relationships in the communities of Moses, Jesus, and Paul. I think it’s important to be careful about how and when we are investing the scripture with meaning that isn’t in there to begin with — especially when we do so with the purpose of limiting, rather than expanding, access to the kindom of heaven. It seems pretty clear to me that while there are a few passages intending to prohibit certain types of sexual behavior between males (rape, “womanizing” someone, lusting after others, fornication, adultery, etc.), they cannot reasonably be construed to be a catch-all for what God thinks about homosexuality in our context, nor even proof that the queer folk were all excluded from the kindom of God in biblical days (which is an amazing thought when you think about it!).

  3. donniedarko Says:

    Homosexuality

    Every human being is called to receive a gift of divine sonship, to become a child of God by grace. However, to receive this gift, we must reject sin, including homosexual behavior—that is, acts intended to arouse or stimulate a sexual response regarding a person of the same sex. The Catholic Church teaches that such acts are always violations of divine and natural law.

    Homosexual desires, however, are not in themselves sinful. People are subject to a wide variety of sinful desires over which they have little direct control, but these do not become sinful until a person acts upon them, either by acting out the desire or by encouraging the desire and deliberately engaging in fantasies about acting it out. People tempted by homosexual desires, like people tempted by improper heterosexual desires, are not sinning until they act upon those desires in some manner.

    Divine Law

    The rejection of homosexual behavior that is found in the Old Testament is well known. In Genesis 19, two angels in disguise visit the city of Sodom and are offered hospitality and shelter by Lot. During the night, the men of Sodom demand that Lot hand over his guests for homosexual intercourse. Lot refuses, and the angels blind the men of Sodom. Lot and his household escape, and the town is destroyed by fire “because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord” (Gen. 19:13).

    Throughout history, Jewish and Christian scholars have recognized that one of the chief sins involved in God’s destruction of Sodom was its people’s homosexual behavior. But today, certain homosexual activists promote the idea that the sin of Sodom was merely a lack of hospitality. Although inhospitality is a sin, it is clearly the homosexual behavior of the Sodomites that is singled out for special criticism in the account of their city’s destruction. We must look to Scripture’s own interpretation of the sin of Sodom.

    Jude 7 records that Sodom and Gomorrah “acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust.” Ezekiel says that Sodom committed “abominable things” (Ezek. 16:50), which could refer to homosexual and heterosexual acts of sin. Lot even offered his two virgin daughters in place of his guests, but the men of Sodom rejected the offer, preferring homosexual sex over heterosexual sex (Gen. 19:8–9). Ezekiel does allude to a lack of hospitality in saying that Sodom “did not aid the poor and needy” (Ezek. 16:49). So homosexual acts and a lack of hospitality both contributed to the destruction of Sodom, with the former being the far greater sin, the “abominable thing” that set off God’s wrath.

    But the Sodom incident is not the only time the Old Testament deals with homosexuality. An explicit condemnation is found in the book of Leviticus: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. . . . If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them” (Lev. 18:22, 20:13).

  4. donniedarko Says:

    Reinterpreting Scripture

    To discount this, some homosexual activists have argued that moral imperatives from the Old Testament can be dismissed since there were certain ceremonial requirements at the time—such as not eating pork, or circumcising male babies—that are no longer binding.

    While the Old Testament’s ceremonial requirements are no longer binding, its moral requirements are. God may issue different ceremonies for use in different times and cultures, but his moral requirements are eternal and are binding on all cultures.

    Confirming this fact is the New Testament’s forceful rejection of homosexual behavior as well. In Romans 1, Paul attributes the homosexual desires of some to a refusal to acknowledge and worship God. He says, “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. . . . Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them” (Rom. 1:26–28, 32).

    Elsewhere Paul again warns that homosexual behavior is one of the sins that will deprive one of heaven: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9–10, NIV).

    All of Scripture teaches the unacceptability of homosexual behavior. But the rejection of this behavior is not an arbitrary prohibition. It, like other moral imperatives, is rooted in natural law—the design that God has built into human nature.

    Natural Law

    People have a basic, ethical intuition that certain behaviors are wrong because they are unnatural. We perceive intuitively that the natural sex partner of a human is another human, not an animal.

    The same reasoning applies to the case of homosexual behavior. The natural sex partner for a man is a woman, and the natural sex partner for a woman is a man. Thus, people have the corresponding intuition concerning homosexuality that they do about bestiality—that it is wrong because it is unnatural.

    Natural law reasoning is the basis for almost all standard moral intuitions. For example, it is the dignity and value that each human being naturally possesses that makes the needless destruction of human life or infliction of physical and emotional pain immoral. This gives rise to a host of specific moral principles, such as the unacceptability of murder, kidnapping, mutilation, physical and emotional abuse, and so forth.

    “I Was Born This Way”

    Many homosexuals argue that they have not chosen their condition, but that they were born that way, making homosexual behavior natural for them.

    But because something was not chosen does not mean it was inborn. Some desires are acquired or strengthened by habituation and conditioning instead of by conscious choice. For example, no one chooses to be an alcoholic, but one can become habituated to alcohol. Just as one can acquire alcoholic desires (by repeatedly becoming intoxicated) without consciously choosing them, so one may acquire homosexual desires (by engaging in homosexual fantasies or behavior) without consciously choosing them.

    Since sexual desire is subject to a high degree of cognitive conditioning in humans (there is no biological reason why we find certain scents, forms of dress, or forms of underwear sexually stimulating), it would be most unusual if homosexual desires were not subject to a similar degree of cognitive conditioning.

    Even if there is a genetic predisposition toward homosexuality (and studies on this point are inconclusive), the behavior remains unnatural because homosexuality is still not part of the natural design of humanity. It does not make homosexual behavior acceptable; other behaviors are not rendered acceptable simply because there may be a genetic predisposition toward them.

    For example, scientific studies suggest some people are born with a hereditary disposition to alcoholism, but no one would argue someone ought to fulfill these inborn urges by becoming an alcoholic. Alcoholism is not an acceptable “lifestyle” any more than homosexuality is.

    The Ten Percent Argument

    Homosexual activists often justify homosexuality by claiming that ten percent of the population is homosexual, meaning that it is a common and thus acceptable behavior.

    But not all common behaviors are acceptable, and even if ten percent of the population were born homosexual, this would prove nothing. One hundred percent of the population is born with original sin and the desires flowing from it. If those desires manifest themselves in a homosexual fashion in ten percent of the population, all that does is give us information about the demographics of original sin.

    But the fact is that the ten percent figure is false. It stems from the 1948 report by Alfred Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. The study was profoundly flawed, as later psychologists studying sexual behavior have agreed. Kinsey’s subjects were drawn heavily from convicted criminals; 1,400 of his 5,300 final subjects (twenty-six percent) were convicted sex offenders—a group that by definition is not representative of normal sexual practices.

    Furthermore, the ten percent figure includes people who are not exclusively homosexual but who only engaged in some homosexual behavior for a period of time and then stopped—people who had gone through a fully or partially homosexual “phase” but who were not long-term homosexuals. (For a critique of Kinsey’s research methods, see Kinsey, Sex, and Fraud, by Dr. Judith Reisman and Edward Eichel [Lafayette, Louisiana: Lochinvar & Huntington House, 1990].)

    Recent and more scientifically accurate studies have shown that only around one to two percent of the population is homosexual.

  5. donniedarko Says:

    “You’re Just a Homophobe”

    Those opposed to homosexual behavior are often charged with “homophobia”—that they hold the position they do because they are “afraid” of homosexuals. Sometimes the charge is even made that these same people are perhaps homosexuals themselves and are overcompensating to hide this fact, even from themselves, by condemning other homosexuals.

    Both of these arguments attempt to stop rational discussion of an issue by shifting the focus to one of the participants. In doing so, they dismiss another person’s arguments based on some real or supposed attribute of the person. In this case, the supposed attribute is a fear of homosexuals.

    Like similar attempts to avoid rational discussion of an issue, the homophobia argument completely misses the point. Even if a person were afraid of homosexuals, that would not diminish his arguments against their behavior. The fact that a person is afraid of handguns would not nullify arguments against handguns, nor would the fact that a person might be afraid of handgun control diminish arguments against handgun control.

    Furthermore, the homophobia charge rings false. The vast majority of those who oppose homosexual behavior are in no way “afraid” of homosexuals. A disagreement is not the same as a fear. One can disagree with something without fearing it, and the attempt to shut down rational discussion by crying “homophobe!” falls flat. It is an attempt to divert attention from the arguments against one’s position by focusing attention on the one who made the arguments, while trying to claim the moral high ground against him.

    The Call to Chastity

    The modern arguments in favor of homosexuality have thus been insufficient to overcome the evidence that homosexual behavior is against divine and natural law, as the Bible and the Church, as well as the wider circle of Jewish and Christian (not to mention Muslim) writers, have always held.

    The Catholic Church thus teaches: “Basing itself on sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357).

    However, the Church also acknowledges that “[homosexuality’s] psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. . . . The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s cross the difficulties that they may encounter from their condition.

    “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection” (CCC 2357– 2359).

    Paul comfortingly reminds us, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

    Homosexuals who want to live chastely can contact Courage, a national, Church-approved support group for help in deliverance from the homosexual lifestyle.

    Courage,
    Church of St. John the Baptist
    210 W. 31st St., New York, NY 10001

    (212) 268–1010
    Web: http://couragerc.net

    peace in christ,
    donnie

  6. Tom Ryberg Says:

    Donnie, just an aside: in the future, please include links to your sources if your content comes from elsewhere. Thanks.

    http://www.catholic.com/library/Homosexuality.asp

    Peace,
    TR

  7. Cindi Knox Says:

    Ezekiel says that Sodom committed “abominable things” (Ezek. 16:50), which could refer to homosexual and heterosexual acts of sin.

    Or it could refer to eating shrimp cocktail or a cheeseburger. Ezekiel does not specify what the abominable things are.

    Lot even offered his two virgin daughters in place of his guests, but the men of Sodom rejected the offer, preferring homosexual sex over heterosexual sex (Gen. 19:8–9).

    You are assuming that the word translated as “know” in these verses indeed means sex. If it does, it’s rape, because the men do not consent. Earlier in the same story, the same word is translated as “know”. Does it also mean sex? Hint: it’s Genesis 18:19.

    Ezekiel does allude to a lack of hospitality in saying that Sodom “did not aid the poor and needy” (Ezek. 16:49).

    Ezekiel does far more than allude. Ezekiel completely spells it out.

    So homosexual acts and a lack of hospitality both contributed to the destruction of Sodom, with the former being the far greater sin, the “abominable thing” that set off God’s wrath.

    That’s an interesting spin.Take the explicit and call it allusion, and take the “abominable things” and say it could mean homosexual sex. Then decide it’s the unnamed “abominable things” (of which you have imagined the meaning) that was what set off God.

    Seems a bit eisogetical to me. I read Ezekiel as “these people cared only about themselves and did abominable things”. In the context of the two great commandments (love god, love neighbor as self), I see the failure to love a neighbor as the issue. It’s a common theme in the Bible, appearing far more often than any reference to same gender sexual conduct.

  8. Tom Ryberg Says:

    Ezekiel 16:48-50:

    As I live, says the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.


    I read that as inhospitality as well, with additional unspecified abominations as a cherry on top.

  9. donniedarko Says:

    Hi Cindi,
    Even if your subjective interpretation of Ez were correct, it would not somehow prove that the God of the Bible approves of homosexual acts. Was that the purpose of your contention? I don’t want to clutter someone else’s blog especially because I feel like I am a minority here, but you may want to ask yourself by what authority are you permitted to correctly interpret scripture? You may find this link helpful.
    http://www.catholic.com/library/What_Your_Authority.asp
    Your interpretation is in contradiction with the majority of Christians from all sects, and 2,000 years of praxxis.

    The historical fact remains that homosexuals in pre-antiquity were stoned to death. So were other sexual offenders such as adulterers. If you don’t believe me ask a religious jew. The old testament was written by Jews for Jews, not for personal interpretation.
    Hi Tom,
    The passage of Jesus you mentioned, “Remove the wooden beam” and other passages like it…”Do not Judge lest you…” do not mean that certain grave sins (homosexual practice) that result in hell, are to be excused or tolerated. It is the duty, and moral imperative, that we correct our brothers and sisters who are in error. Jesus meant to tell us that we should no longer enforce capital punishment (death by stoning) to sexual offenders. He did this because he revealed the reality of the final judgment, when those who did not obey God, for whatever reason..homosexual acts included, will be damned to hell for all eternity.
    Pax,
    Donnie

  10. Tom Ryberg Says:

    donniedarko,

    Even if your subjective interpretation of Ez were correct, it would not somehow prove that the God of the Bible approves of homosexual acts…

    Just a moment, friend, you’re switching gears. Cindi didn’t set out to construct proof of biblical gay-affirmation via Ezekiel 16, she simply disproved the Catholic Answers interpretation of the story of Sodom, given the text of Ezekiel 16. There are biblical cases to be made that affirm same-sex relationships and promote LGBTQ reconciliation with the Body of Christ, but that wasn’t the topic at hand here. So let’s not change arguments in mid-stream.

    As to your comments directed to me, you are assuming a lot with statements like “grave sins (homosexual practice) that result in hell…” Your notion of sin which results from certain forms of sexual behavior is probably radically different than mine, so please don’t assume that your particular orthodoxy is universal.

    Also, I agree that Jesus was against capital punishment, but I also interpret an underlying “worry about getting your own house in order” aspect to his commentary. This aspect can be seen with the “let he who is without sin…;” “judge not…;” and the ‘log/speck’ examples. We do have an obligation to try and resolve our differences and disagreements within the Body, as well as “correct” our siblings who are in error, but I think it is a mistake to assume that all understanding beyond our own equates to “error.”

    Peace,
    TR

    • Jason Says:

      God said be fruitful and multiply…Same sex cannot produce…The animal kingdom knows better than to do that.So whatis the problem with humans…Just cause u luv something don’t make it right..He also condemned them saying they were doing UNNATURAL THINGS and then its says men sleeping with men and women sleeping with women…JUST SAY U WANT TO DO IT..DONT LIE ON THE BIBLE TO TRY AND JUSTIFY YOURSELF

      • Tom Ryberg Says:

        “Same sex cannot produce…The animal kingdom knows better than to do that.”

        You’re wrong about that, friend. There are close to 1,500 animal species where same-sex behavior has been documented. Read all about it.

        The fact is, homosexuality is natural. You may believe whatever you choose about the data, but you don’t get to deny that which clearly is.

  11. donniedarko Says:

    Switching gears? I’m in sixth and every opponent I find is in neutral. Your whole ideology is in contradiction with itself. You can’t use a text that was written with the intent of exclusivity for the purposes of pluralism. Jesus mentions hell far more than He does Heaven. The Bible is exclusive toward the majority of creation and our natural inclinations. There is no other way to read it. It’s not a text that was intended to be subjected to literary criticism; feminism, queer criticism, marxism, deconstruction, or psychoanalysis. It’s the immutable Word of God, not Moby Dick. Do you have any conception of the historical context in which it was written? Most of the epistles were sent to believers who were on the verge of making the ultimate sacrifice; they weren’t composed for 21th century pseudo-intellectuals with a liberal political agenda and 3 readers. Don’t flatter yourself, I posted here for your own spiritual advancement, not some vain worldly pursuit. Sorry bud, I’m not sure you have what it takes to make it in the blog world.
    As for changing arguments midstream, I appreciate the car metaphor, but I’m going to have to give you a ticket for failure to comprehend the logical practice of argumentation. Cindi in no way “disproved the Catholic Answers interpretation of the story of Sodom” because the Catholic Church was the authority that included that story in the cannon and has the sole right of interpretation. Even if she were successful in the latter pursuit, she still would have fallen flat on her face in an assumed attempt at justification of sin. I say assumed because I don’t know her motive, but despite that her comment was completely irrelevant. She didn’t indicate what she intended to prove and ended up posting vacuous nonsense. If she was successful, where is the consensus? Your opinion? What is your criterion for successfully disproving the Catholic authors of the Bible?
    There are no “biblical cases to be made that affirm same-sex relationships”, to admit to such is to be ignorant of the history of Western civilization, which would include the opinion of the protestant reformers. Where are you getting your information? I really don’t blame you, but everything you’ve been taught is a lie. I know that sounds harsh. I’m not saying this to debate or belittle you, but only to open your eyes because you’re ill-informed. You’re not uneducated, just misguided and a poor puppet of your superior academic puppeteers with their own ungodly agenda. I’m really sorry.
    My “notion of sin” is “radically different” from yours because it comes from scripture. The majority of heterosexuals go to hell where they fry for all eternity. Let’s just forget the act of inserting a reproductive organ into a digestive tract. It’s not for a short time, there are no intermissions, hell is for ever and ever.
    Of course you agree that Jesus was against capital punishment because you’ve been brainwashed by a liberal organization that is operating under the guise of religion, but you don’t agree with me that Jesus was FOR eternal damnation which is far worse than mortal death. My understanding is NOT my own; it is the understanding of the disciples, Christ, and the Church that Christ founded (matt 16:18).

    • Tom Ryberg Says:

      If there’s a primary reason I haven’t addressed most of what you’ve taken the time to post here, donniedarko, this is it:

      I’m not saying this to debate or belittle you, but only to open your eyes because you’re ill-informed.

      Your entire premise for being here is to engage me with your condescending (though well-intended) correction, as an evangelist engages with the heathen. You’ve said as much: I am a sadly misinformed slob, wandering aimlessly through a spiritual desert, and you are John the Baptist, pointing me toward the one true Way of the Lord: Roman Catholicism (as interpreted by you and Catholic Answers). You are seeking to evangelize as you have been taught, and I’m sure you believe yours is an act of true Christian love. While I do not appreciate your paternalistic self-righteousness, I do recognize that you mean well, insofar as you understand the demands of your Christian walk.

      But as for me, it turns out, I do not welcome unilateral attempts to convert me. Dialogue is one thing. A fire hose with one-way spray is another. I will take your particular brand of theological exclusivity under advisement, but truthfully, I find Roman Catholic exclusivity no more appealing — nor convincing — than that of Southern Baptists, Mormons, Muslims, or nondenominational Christian fundamentalists. With all due respect, y’all start to sound the same to me. Either just one of you is right about God’s exclusivity, or none of you are. Based on my own experience with God, I’m betting on the latter.

      I don’t have much else to say here, but I will answer those questions you posed a while back:

      …But you are correct, JESUS CREATED A CHURCH. Is it safe to assume that you believe that Jesus created YOUR church? If so, then you believe that the 30,000+ other denominations of christianity are wrong and not founded by Christ?

      When I wrote “Jesus created a church out of the most marginalized people in society, while opposing to the end the entrenched civic and religious structures that would eventually collude to kill him…” I was not, in fact, referring to Roman Catholicism nor the United Church of Christ. I think those who follow Jesus comprise the church universal, though clearly, the content of what it means to follow Jesus is no longer universally understood. My sources for discerning that content include (in no particular order): direct experience with the triune God in prayer, worship and in the midst of others, the Bible, the teachings of my church, the testimony of others, the teachings of the earliest Christian interpreters down to present day interpreters, science and personal observation. Do you know what your sources are? It sounds like in place of much of what I’ve just listed, you have as your primary source the teachings of your church. The RC church may be your primary authority and source, but I cannot embrace the same, due to the numerous ways in which her teachings contradict my own aforementioned sources.

      Why should readers of your blog give you any sort of credibility whatsoever; why should we believe that your own subjective interpretation of scripture is correct and that you are speaking for Jesus?

      They shouldn’t, unless what I’m writing speaks to their experiences and sources. I’m not foolish enough to claim (or believe in) the infallibility of my own understanding, and I’m fairly confident that most others who stumble here won’t confuse my voice here with that of God. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that, like you, I’m not doing this reflection in a vacuum; I’m engaging with a long, aforementioned history of Christian thought and thinking, and I fellowship with various communities of believers and nonbelievers alike to whom I am accountable in various ways.

      Finally, you asked:

      How is exactly is my church exclusive? Care to qualify that?

      Certainly. To my understanding, the Roman Catholic church declares itself to be the one and only church to be created by Christ, the only vessel through which one might hope to know God and potentially receive salvation. Armed with their extrapolation of Christ’s teachings, the leaders of the Roman Catholic church have positioned themselves as God’s own gatekeepers. They claim, as you have here, that the infallible Holy Spirit underlies their every teaching, which results in an easy conflation of the teachings of the Roman Catholic church institution with those of God. Anything which runs contrary to the teachings of the Roman Catholic church thus run against God, according to this perspective.

      I understand that all those who embrace Catholic teachings (according to the specifications of the leadership) might be welcomed into the church. In that way, the church is absolutely inclusive. Just as the Southern Baptists, the Muslims, the Mormons, the Hindus, the Buddhists, and the Unitarians will welcome you so long as you embrace their teachings as well (with the exception of the Unitarians, who probably won’t mandate very many teachings).

      What is exclusivist about the posture of the Roman Catholic church, however, is the belief that it is the sole church of God. If Roman Catholics (or anyone else) believe that their human lenses can see the will of God in entirety, well, that’s their prerogative, but I am unwilling to make such a claim for myself. I can only assume that no matter how wise my own understanding may become, or that of my church — or that of your church, donniedarko — that God’s is infinitely greater.

      May the peace of Christ be with you always, may your wisdom ever increase, and with it, your proximity to the will of God in your life.

  12. On theological exclusivity « Reflections of Ryberg Says:

    […] the rest here. Posted in Elitists, Faith, God, church. Tags: Christianity, church, exclusion, […]


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