The 2nd Lesson of Morning Prayer
Monday after the Eighth Sunday
The Gospel St. Luke Ch 15 V.1
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners and eatheth with them.
Be forewarned, because I’m about to launch into another diatribe on the evils of modern theologians and apologists. And if it seems that I’m getting redundant or that I’m just beating the subject to death, well I think I really need to because of the danger these people and their “doctrines” represent. Modern theologians and apologists constantly twist passages like the one shown above to justify their heresies and confuse people. How’s that old saying go? “Satan can quote Scripture to his own purpose”.
The passage I just read to you comes from the 15th chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel. This particular passage was the designated New Testament lesson for Morning Prayer this past Monday (but then those of you who use the Lectionary from the 1928 BCP knew that, didn’t you?). Here we have Jesus being watched very intently by these Pharisees and scribes, these righteous people, waiting to catch him in some mistake. And here come these lowly people, these notorious sinners, these publicans, who were more or less the IRS agents of that time, only they were less popular. These folks are all attracted to Jesus, like moths to the flame, to hear his words;
And the “righteous ones” think to themselves, “Ah! There we have it. Look at this guy, consorting with these sinners, these low-lifes. WE wouldn’t be caught DEAD with the likes of THOSE people”. And of course, Jesus makes the point that these are exactly the type of people that he was sent for. And this is where the modernists stop and take their turn.
The modernist doctrine in this case is really very simple and really very insidious. Jesus consorted with those who were sinners, therefore we should not be afraid of consorting with sinners. Ah, but let’s change the words a bit. Jesus consorted with those who were “outcasts” in society, therefore, we should not be afraid of consorting with “outcasts” as well. Now the modernist doctrine really gets going. Not only should we follow Christ’s example by consorting with these “outcasts”, but we also need to bring them in, shelter them, make them feel that everything is going to be alright. Make them feel good about themselves. We love them, just like Jesus did.
We don’t want them to be “outcasts” any longer. We don’t want them to feel bad. We don’t want them to feel bad about themselves, because God loves them, Jesus loves them, and we love them. After all, we are all children of God, right?
OK folks, pop quiz time; what’s missing from the modernist doctrine? If you said the word “repentance”, you’re right. The word “salvation” also appears to be missing, doesn’t it? Why would those words be missing? Well, if we use the word “salvation”, that would imply that there’s something that we need to be saved from, something that we might need to be sorry for? And if we need to be sorry for something, to repent for something, well, wouldn’t that imply that we are doing something wrong; that maybe we’re not living our lives correctly? And if someone tells us that we’re not living our lives correctly, wouldn’t that make us feel bad? Wouldn’t that make us feel like outcasts? Well, says the modernist, Jesus brought in the outcast and loved them and made them feel good about themselves, and so should we.
How nice. How sweet. How “politically correct”. I’m OK, your OK; and as long as I’m not hurting you and you’re not hurting me, then whatever we do is OK as long as there’s love in our hearts. Repent? For what? Salvation? What do we need to be saved from?
What we need to be saved from is this modernist doctrine. Satan has used this doctrine to promote various types of sinful behavior that our society now labels as “choices”. Abortion. Sex outside of marriage. Pornography. Any sort of perversion or immorality. A slippery slope? You bet. This is what we get for being “politically correct”. This is what we get for failing to repent. This is what we get when we ignore the real message of the Gospel; that Jesus Christ came into the world to SAVE sinners!
Let me give you one specific example; Many of you will know that I am loath to bring up anything that happens in our former home, the Episcopal Church. However, recently the woman who holds the title of Presiding Bishop for that organization, one Katherine Jefferts Schori, gave a “sermon” at a parish in Venezuela that was based on the 16th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. This passage tells of the incident where St. Paul encounters a slave girl who is possessed by a “spirit” and who has been used by her owners as a source of income because of her fortune-telling powers. The “spirit” in this girl recognizes Paul and proceeds to follow him, loudly and constantly proclaiming that he is a servant, or slave, of the most high God.
After she had done this for a number of days, Paul loses patience with this “spirit” and orders it to come out of the girl. Of course, this upsets her owners because they see that their revenue stream has been cut off, and they have Paul thrown into jail. He later escapes from jail after an earthquake brings down the doors and loosens his chains, and he further saves the life of his guard who is so grateful that later he and his family convert and are baptized.
Now, are you all ready for the unbelievable part? According to Ms. Jefferts Schori, there was nothing wrong with that “spirit”-possessed girl in the first place. After all, when she yelled out that Paul was a “slave” of God, she was just telling the truth, wasn’t she? So Paul deserved what he got (imprisonment), not because he cast out a “spirit” (or “demon”, depending on your translation), but rather because he refused to accept and acknowledge the “diversity” that this girl represented. And it was only after Paul overcame his arrogance and accepted that diversity that he was released from prison.
In presuming to preach this heresy, Ms. Jefferts Schori completely diverges from the Faith of the Apostles and the teachings of the Church Fathers. She completely ignores the entirety of the declaration of that “spirit”-possessed girl; not just that Paul was a slave of the Most High God, but that he was a slave of the Most High God, WHICH SHEW UNTO US THE WAY OF SALVATION! And that is a concept that the modernist cannot accept. (I will save any comments I may have on the entirety of the errors Ms. Jefferts Schori makes in her “sermon” for a future publications).
The modernist doctrine is NOT a Christian doctrine. The modernist doctrine teaches that the Pharisees failure was that they didn’t welcome and accept the outcasts of society. The Christian doctrine teaches that the failure of the Pharisees was their unwillingness to bring sinners to God, to show them the way to Salvation. The modernist doctrine believes that behavior is an individual choice and that anything is acceptable as long as people love one another. The Christian doctrine teaches that true love not only means telling others that they are sinning against God, but that there is a way to redemption from their sins. The modernist doctrine teaches that the only thing we need to be saved from is ourselves. The Christian doctrine? Well, we teach that as well.
The real difference between the modernist and the Christian doctrines is that the modernist is focused on humans, and Christians are focused on God. Modernists believe that true joy comes from loving and accepting other human beings and “rejoicing” in their individual differences. Christians know that true joy exists in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents. Modernists seem to want to create a utopian society where everyone cares for one another and everyone just accepts and gets along with one another. Christians know that the utopian society already exists; it’s called The Kingdom of God.
Now, I’ve just spent a fair amount of time deriding the modernist doctrine. But even as I warn about the dangers and the evil that this doctrine presents, I am also reminded of the dangers Christians face even though we don’t adhere to the modernist view. The danger we face will be a direct result of our action or inaction. This is what I call the “Danger of the Pharisees”.
The “Danger of the Pharisees” has many similarities with the danger of the modernist. Smugness. Modernists think that they are more learned, more intelligent, more “with it” than Christians. Christians cannot allow themselves to become smug simply because we refuse to accept modernist heresy, because that leads to the second danger; Self-righteousness. The modernist thinks that they are simply better, more refined than those “backward-thinking” Christians. Christians cannot allow themselves to think that our faith somehow puts us above those poor fool modernists because we risk forgetting that we to are sinners.
Which brings me to the third danger; inaction. The modernist takes no action when someone sins because, in the modernist view, there is no sin. For the Christian, we must, WE MUST call others to repentance. The Pharisees saw sinners and simply shook their heads and shunned them. Modernist see sinners and tell them “hey, its not a sin, its your choice”. If we Christians say nothing, do nothing, then we are like those Pharisees, and we also condone what the modernist teaches.
Repentance. Salvation. The Kingdom of God. These are the messages of the Gospel. These are the messages of true Christianity. It is our responsibility as Christians to preach these messages constantly, consistently, with all love in our hearts for God and for our fellow man; to call others to repentance. To tell them about the Salvation afforded us through the Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and to remind them of the promise of eternal life in Gods Kingdom. These are the messages that Christ taught when he consorted with the sinners and the outcasts of society. These same messages are true today. Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners. And there is joy in the presence of the angels of God when one of us repents.