Inclusive Christmas Carols

Are you a progressive at a progressive church? Would you like to have some more inclusive hymns this Holiday season?

Are you a progressive at a non-progressive church? Would you like some more inclusive hymns to sing–either under your breath or with gusto!–this Holiday season?

You are so in luck!

My friend Tallessyn has posted on Facebook a note with the text of many of her rewritten Christmas carols. Many of these are in the public domain and suitable for congregational use.

For example, for those who have issues with “lord” language, here’s the rewritten first verse of Away in a Manger:

Away In A Manger

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed
The little love, Jesus, lay down his sweet head
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay
The little love, Jesus, asleep on the hay.

And Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is adapted to be more inclusive of the Earth (not nations) and includes a movement towards reconciliation not triumphilism:

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! The herald angels sing, hear the heavenly anthems ring:
“Peace on Earth, and mercy mild; all the Earth is reconciled!”
Joyful, all the Earth arise, join the anthems of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim: “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! The herald angels sing: songs of Hope to us they bring!

Click here for the inclusive Christmas carols.

And in the future, look for her website when it gets launched. Don’t worry: I’ll let you know.

Enjoy!

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Comments

  1. Patrick says

    Jeremy, here’s my problem with rewriting Christmas carols – it takes the focus off of the reason you’re singing the carol? Why? Because someone who’s sung the same words for 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80 years gets tripped up. Half the congregation sings the “way they know it” and half the congregation sings “what’s on the page.” People who notice put their attention on the change instead of the object of our worship, and for people who don’t notice… why did you make the change in the first place.

    And, it doesn’t matter whether the change you’re making is for gender reasons or not – see “bright hosts” or “citizens” in “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”

    One specific challenge with neutralizing Christmas and Advent songs is the unintended consequence of theological shift also. For instance “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice” is nice in that it even rhymes with “men” and has the same number of syllables, but all of a sudden, the formerly all-encompassing plural noun has specificity to “people that I know and have a bond with.”

    If you have issues with gender language in lyrics, by all means, do not sing the songs that you have issues with, but the most inclusive choice is to **write new songs**. Ps 96:1!

  2. says

    “for those who have issues with “lord” language”

    You mean like NT era Christians who would say “Jesus is Lord” rather than “Caesar is Lord” even if that meant they’d become cat food for lions?

    You mean like the Christians in India today who say “Jesus is Lord and there is no other” as Hindu extremists demolish their houses and break their bones?

    You mean like Egyptian Christians who pray “Come, Lord Jesus” as their church buidlings are destroyed and their businesses ransacked?

    That kind of struggle with Lord language?

    • says

      Given the diversity of Christianity, the way how language is used is different in other contexts. To compare them is to ignore linguistic, theological, and sociological areas of difference. Likewise, to say that the feminist critique of lord language (this isn’t the best article but pretty close) is irrelevant because of how important Lord language is in other situations is pretty dismissive.

      • Paul Anthony Preussler says

        God has no female aspects; rather, He created man in his own image, as Genesis affirms, and then created femalekind as a variation upon the male form, to facilitate sexual reproduction and the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. He loves Men and Women equally; all Men are his Sons, and all Women are his Daughters. As for His angels, they are neither male nor female, and it is said of us in the resurrection that we ourselves will transcend our present sexual differentiation. The Blessed Virgin Mary, who was ever a virgin, conceived of Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, in the great miracle of the Nativity. In denying the Lordship of Christ, you also deny the Ladyship of his most immaculate and precious Mother, whose love for us extends through the ages of ages. Wesley did not deny this doctrine, nor the Lordship of Jesus Christ’ neither did Calvin or Luther, even in their respective heresy.

        In posting a hymn that directly denies the Lordship of Jesus Christ, you have identified yourself clearly as an apostate; you have rejected Christianity. As Talbot Davis says, you have rejected the faith of Peter, Paul, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Abanoub, and numerous other Christian martyrs, male and female, young and old, many mere children, who were crucified, used as torches to illuminate Nero’s banquets, beheaded in the case of Paul (on account of his Roman citizenship), who were, in the case of Ignatius and numerous others, fed to lions and other wild beasts, and killed in various cruel and despicable manners; flayed, burned alive, skinned and so on, through the reign of Diocletian, and again under Julian the Apostate, and some of the early Islamic rulers.

        In like manner you have rejected the faith of the Coptic, Syriac, Pakistani, and North Korean Christians who are being tortured to death even as we speak; you have rejected the faith of all those millions of Armenians, Assyrians and Syriacs put to the sword by the Ottoman Empire in 1915, and those thousands of confessional Lutherans who opposed Hitler who died with the Jews in the gas chambers in the second World War. You have sided yourself with Torquemada, in persecuting Christians for their own faith, by committing an act of grave violence against the Christian faith through embracing blasphemy. Whereas in Torquemadas case, the blasphemy was papal supremacy, which Pope Gregory the Dialogist warned would make one akin to the antichrist; in your case, the blasphemy is simply in denying the religion altogether, and in thus manner, philosophically siding with those persecuting Christ and his Church, rather than the persecuted Church itself.

        You are not a Christian, for you have denied that Jesus Christ is Lord, which is such a fundamental definition of Christianity that even most Gnostics, such as Valentinians. would accede to it. Even Simon Magus would have, to some extent, acceded to it.

        I have run out of patience for your heresy, Jeremy, and I want you to consider this your formal notice: this crosses the line of amiable dialectic theology. The lively debates we had which made for a rather nice book, which led me to a great friendship with Dave Mosher, who disagrees with me on matters of Christian mysticism, patristics and sacramental theology, but is likewise opposed to the decay of the Methodist church into a post-Christian sect analogous to the Unitarian Universalists; for this, I thank you, as it has been genuinely pleasurable.

        However, I must now advise you that it is my intention, using my rights as a member of the United Methodist Church, to charge you formally with heresy, if you do not positively affirm that you consider Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior on this blog by Christmas Day. If this post is deleted, thanks to that one rather disagreeable man who did reccommend the Wartburg Watch site to us, I will simply repost it there, and on Dave Mosher’s site. You have now at long last crossed the line; you must repent now, for the salvation of your soul, and for the salvation of the souls the cure of which has been entrusted to you by the United Methodist Church.

        May God bless you, and may the Holy Spirit descend upon you, and grant you illumination. I, who affirm that I am the worst of sinners, beg you in humility to repent and pray, immediately, and for the sake of Jesus Christ, who gave His life for your salvation!

        • says

          Sigh.

          “For those who have issues with ‘Lord’ language” does not say that I have problems with lord language. In fact, since my theology is closer to the anti-empire research of Crossan, then lord language is very comfortable to me as it opposes the powers and principalities of empire.

          PAP, so far we’ve had some good discussion, in part because you haven’t made the mistake of equating these type of comments with my personal beliefs. Let’s not start that now, shall we?

          • Paul Anthony Preussler says

            I’ll completely back off on this point, UMJeremy, if you’ll assure me right now then, in that case, that you do positively affirm Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and we can resume our friendly dialectic theology, which would make me so ecstatic I might wind up like that dude who started the Whirling Dervish movement, on account of randomly twirling. Just say this formula “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior” and I will STFU.

            By the way, to show you how dangerous and potentially destructive this line of reasoning is, let me share with you this quote:

            “Come, my Lord Jesus, the Savior of souls, who hast
            saved me from the drunkenness and Error of the world .”

            This is from Psalm V of the Manichaen Psalms to Jesus. Poor Mani was a Persian painter who went bonkers in the late second century, became convinced he was the second coming of Jesus, and after being rejected by the St. Thomas Christians in India, managed to get flayed by an irate Persian king after he failed to miraculously save the life of said king’s son. His followers, who at least one Patristic source attribute the Gospel of Thomas to, then spread Manicheaism into the Roman Empire, and St. Augustine was a Manichee before he was baptized by St. Ambrose of Milan (an occasion they commemorated by composing the hymn Te Deum). Manichaeism managed to survive for centuries in the east; there is a Manichaen temple disguised as a Buddhist temple that was recently found in China.

            However, let us consider for a moment how infinitely large a can of worms denying the lordship of Christ is. You actually just put yourself in a theological position whereby, if both Mani and Augustine, who was distinguished by his polemics against the Manichaen faith after his conversion to Christianity, would find themselves in opposition to you. For that matter, Augustine’s other main sparring partner, Pelagius, would join the chorus.

            I suspect even some Muslims might take offense, on the grounds that they consider Jesus a major prophet, and the most immediate forerunner of Mohammed; I do not know whether it is their custom to refer to Prophets as Lords, in the manner of how, for example, the Syriac Orthodox and Assyrian Church of the East refer to Bishops and Saints as Lords (Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas of Antioch, Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos of the East), but I would worry about such a remark either way.

            As far as inclusive hymns go, if you pick practically anything from the mid 1990s UMC handbook, you should find ample material that is less of a theological stick of dynamite, because that edition of the UMC hymnal went so far in gender neutrality that they actually excised “Amen” from the end of most of the hymns where it appears, because it contains the word “men”.

            Beyond that however, why can’t we, in Christianity, worship Christ our Lord, and then give all appropriate veneration to our most immaculate Lady, the ever pure theotokos, Mary? This, to me, seems to solve the entire gender divide issue without requiring us to rewrite the scriptures, redefine God the Father as a mother goddess in the manner of the Pagan religions, or rewrite our sacred hymns and scriptures. Marian devotion, that does not supplant the proper worship due only to God, but rather celebrates the holiness of women and of chastity, is the answer, in my opinion. Some of the more conservative protestants may disagree with me on this point, however, where everyone I think agrees, aside from the most petulant apostates who are already practicing a form of crypto-Unitarian Universalism, is to simply say, we cannot deny that Jesus Christ is Lord. Everyone; every heresiarch from Marcion to Mani; every patriarch from Ignatius to Augustine; every matriarch from Martha to Mother Theresa, made that proclamation, and if you can’t make it, I just really don’t think Christianity is the religion you need to be in right now.

            Unitarianism aside, Islam and Rabinnical Judaism generally deny a gender aspect to God, to varying extents; Reconstructionist Judaism would most likely welcome you; Hinduism affirms the presence of God in all things and seeks union with God. Buddhism does not affirm the existence of God per se, but offers escape from the karmic cycle of desire and pain through nirvana. Mandaeism follows the teachings of John the Baptist, but is probably a bit too masculine in its teachings for you to accept, although I’m fairly certain they would accept a convert, unlike the Yazidis, the Druze or the Zoroastrians, who do not accept converts (in the case of the Druze and Zoroastrians, this was a concession to avoid being exterminated by Islam). The Jainists, who I like quite a bit, are completely non-violent and sweep aside insects with peacock feathers, to avoid hurting any forms of life.

            These are all beautiful religions. Christianity is also a beautiful religion, but its one of blood, one of great pain, one that involves confronting the most terrible and violent aspects of the human soul, and the devil himself. It also requires affirming the Lordship of Christ, and the fundamental idea that God became man, and died, in order to show us what it means to be human, and procure our salvation. This admittedly is something that a lot of people aren’t able to face up to.

        • Zzyzx says

          Actually, you’re the one who is factually incorrect and denying Church Tradition. You say that God has no female aspects which is quite blatantly false. It ignores portions of the Bible where God speaks from a feminine perspective: “How I longed to gather you under my wings as a hen gathers her chicks.” Or the fact that the Hebrew word for Holy Spirit is a feminine term as Hebrew is a gendered language. You speak of Creation, but you ignore verses like: “Male and Female, God created them in God’s image.” Male AND female. Not just male with female tacked on because God had some spare parts or something. Sure, the feminine image is less prevalent than the Male, but that makes it no less real or theologically relevant. You are also denying a large chunk of Church Tradition where various monastics have spoken of God in feminine terms, like Saint Julian of Norwich. Although perhaps you have a long-winded explanation as to why these images don’t count and God is only masculine?

          Furthermore, your continued insistence on this blog that the UMC is “yours” and that other people should get out and just become Unitarians (no idea why you’re obsessed with sending people ONLY there…) is entirely offensive and inappropriate. We have just as much right to our church as you do. We were baptized into this church as well. Funnily enough, I don’t see anyone around here telling YOU to get out. Nope. Just you trying to get rid of the rest of us. You claim to have a right to be UMC, while hypocritically denying us the right to be UMC and trying to fob us off onto some other denomination so that “your” UMC can be just the way you want it. Which, ironically, considering how you seem to want the UMC to be, would mean that the UMC is no longer UMC. Rather, that is becomes some kind of Orthodox Church. So who is the one who is really trying to “change” the UMC to something that it isn’t and never has been? John Wesley was an Anglican priest in a Church of the 39 Articles of Religion. That means that your comments now and earlier seem to contradict Articles XXII, XXXII and XXXVIII of the Articles of Religion, which John Wesley would have upheld. Whether or not these Articles are theologically correct is beside the point since you’ve accused people of not being Methodist, not believing Methodist belief, seeking to change the UMC, etc. But your own words are no less a change to Methodism. Correct or incorrect, it is hypocritical to complain of “changing” or failing to uphold Methodist beliefs when you do the same (but with different beliefs.)

          And now you’re demanding tests of faith and belief as professed to YOU who, as far as we know, have neither the authority to require such a thing nor the right to ask it. There’s good reason why I compared an earlier comment of yours to the Inquisition. Not only that, but many of your posts and replies here now have shown an extreme lack of reading comprehesion, which leads me to believe that you are not engaging in this blog in good faith.

  3. Zzyzx says

    Interesting. It does take someone with a real ear for music and poetry to pull something like this off. Those two samples look promising though. I really like the new “Hark!” words. Please encourage your friend to try and publish a songbook out of her stuff for those of us who are old-fashioned and doggedly attached to books ;)

  4. says

    This was really fun to read and think about. I have long been aware of these concerns, but for some reason, I prefer hymns with the original lyrics. I guess it’s easy for me as privileged person. I listen to a lot of choral music performed by English choirs. They almost always retain the original lyrics. I wonder if it’s controversial in progressive Anglican circles the way it is here. My preference would be, I guess, to use newer hymns that are sensitive to sexism and domination. But I also like hymns that have stood the test of time and nurtured the faith of many generations of Christians. I have a very hard time with actual doctrinal content and beliefs about God. But sacred music and hymns give voice to the reality and beauty of God for me in a way beliefs never have. The great hymns of Anglophone Protestantism have moved me from spiritual nothingness to faith more times than I can count. I tend to not want to mess with them.

    But I’d be at least as likely to edit out washed-in-the-blood-of-the-Lamb substitutionary atonement language in hymns as archaic sexist pronouns. That’s just my bias, I guess. But even with that theology, which I detest, I still like singing the original lyrics. I just think about how this is something that people used to believe and some still do, I just happen not to.

    • FaithSeekingUnderstanding says

      Do you also edit out the “blood” and “atonement” scriptures? Or rework the eucharist? (You simply can’t avoid blood atonement in the sacrament.)

      Reminds me of H. Richard Niebuhr’s critique of Liberal Protestantism: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”

      Following are just a few verses that can’t be interpreted apart from the effectual sacrifice of Christ upon the cross as expiation and propitiation for the sins of all humanity:

      “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. ” (Rom. 3:23-26)

      “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom. 5:10)

      “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… we preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:18, 23)

      “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:20)

      “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” (1 Cor. 11:23-26)

      “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.” (1 Cor. 15:3-5)

      ” For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Cor. 5:14-15)

      “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence…” (Eph. 1:7-8)

      “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 2:13)

      He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins… For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Col. 1:13-14)

      “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins… For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Col. 1:13-14)

      “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption… But now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.” (Heb. 9:12, 26b-28)

      “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10)

      “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb. 13:2-21)

      “… knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

      “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit…” (1 Peter 3:18)

      “And they sang a new song, saying:
      ‘You are worthy to take the scroll,
      And to open its seals;
      For You were slain,
      And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
      Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
      And have made us kings and priests to our God;
      And we shall reign on the earth.’” (Rev. 5:9-10)

      As the author of Hebrews has made abundantly clear, the OT sacrificial system both foreshadowed and was made complete in Christ’s atoning death upon the cross. No blood, no sacrifice. No sacrifice, no atonement. No atonement, no remission of sins. No remission of sins, and we are dead in our sins without hope. Doesn’t sound like there’s much basis for anything remotely resembling the Christian faith without Christ’s sacrificial death (without which the empty tomb means only Christ’s resurrection, for how can it signify life for us if his death means nothing for us).

    • Zzyzx says

      And the funny thing about Substitutionary Atonement (especially the Penal version of Substitutionary Atonement) is that it is neither the only atonement theory in Christian theology, nor is it the most ancient way of understanding the atonement. There are numerous other theories floated at various times, from the Ransom Theory to the Moral Influence theory and beyond. The Orthodox Church generally proclaims what is known as the Christus Victor Theory of atonement. But, due to a variety of reasons, Substitutionary Atonement and it’s “Penal” form enjoyed special ascendancy and favor among many western Christians, especially those of certain theological leanings.

      I don’t have a problem with Substitutionary Atonement (depending on how it’s explicated and certainly NOT in it’s “penal” form) but I tend to emphasize some of the alternatives in my theology and preaching. However, I think ALL of the theories are (and can be) important. If one gets emphasized to the exclusion of the others, then I think it has the tendency to “flatten” atonement theology. And even caricaturize theology. The fact is, that (as far as I believe) the atonement was such a massive and world-changing event, and so complex in all of its effects that we need all of the theories and we also need to realize that even all of the theories together are still not enough.

      • John says

        If Christ is not Lord, what then is he? A spiritual advisor? If he is not King, what does that say about his Kingdom? (Do we wish it to be a democracy?) Jeremy, the scriptural language is intentional because it conveys a very specific relationship between the Creator and the created. When we get uncomfortable with that language, it means that we’re also uncomfortable with that relationship, are refusing to submit ourselves to God, and are seeking to be autonomous beings… which is precisely the root cause of the events described in Genesis 3.

        • says

          In hymns, evocative language is used that does not always match with biblical language. The same is with hymns in the Bible: Was it a heresy to talk about God’s genitalia in Song of Songs? No.

          The same with hymns: they are used for a transmission of beliefs and values. If progressives have some beliefs and values that they want transmitted, then what is wrong with using hymns in this way?

          • John says

            Jeremy, I concur that biblical language and the language of hymnody need not exactly match. Also that lyrics transmit our beliefs and values. That is unquestioned. What I do question is the deliberate use of language that, at worst, denies biblical language and meaning and, at best, redefines it to the point of altering the biblical message. What beliefs and values are you seeking to convey? That Christ is NOT Lord? That there IS NO Kingdom? That someone can call oneself Christian when one denies the Lordship of Christ? In Rom. 10, Paul quotes Joel 2:32 in declaring, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved… For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” He also declares in Phil. 2:9-10, “… God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Was Paul talking out of his hat? Jeremy, Christ’s Lordship has nothing to do with gender, race, ethnicity, or any sort of socio- or psychobabble but everything to do with getting us in right relationship with our Creator, our Redeemer, and (dare I say it) our sovereign King. Paul Anthony is absolutely right… the blood of the martyrs was (and is being) shed precisely because they refused to bow before anyone but their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and dared to declare him Lord. You seem to treat Christ’s Lordship without respect and with a flippant and cavalier attitude that implies that you are not (and have not) been in his presence. I pray that is not the case… but, if so, for the sake of your own growth and the church’s witness to the world please give Jesus the honor and glory due him.

          • says

            Did you read my reply to PAP above? I explicitly stated that I don’t have problems with “lord” language due to my anti-empire research and understandings. Don’t fall into the same trap as assuming that an irreverent comment doesn’t mean I’m not in a reverential posture myself. That, my friend, you have no ability to judge.

          • says

            Jeremy, I think what John is trying to say, and with which I agree, is that the Lordship of Jesus is not something to be agreed upon because of one’s academic research. It ought to be a confession arising out of a heart broken and contrite.

          • John says

            Jeremy, my apologies… I did not see your reply to PAP. I never judged you… rather I described what I perceived might possibly be the case. I’m sorry for not making that more clear.

            I’m curious, though, how one is irreverently reverential.

            I often find myself in cynical or satirical moments, but I fail to see how encouraging others to reconsider lord-servant language and relationship is somehow congruent with personally embracing that same relationship. While there are times for humor and sarcasm, this is also a very serious business we’re engaged in… the saving and nurturing of souls. To that end, we are implored to take special care to not encourage others to examine paths that may lead them astray. The apostle Paul warns us to use our freedom in Christ responsibly and so to refrain from doing that which might cause a weaker brother or sister to stumble. That is why we teach abstinence from drink… not because alcohol itself is inherently evil, but because drunkenness is and if those who can drink moderately refrained entirely then there becomes less temptation for others to drink. In the same vein, scripture and two millennia of church tradition and experience affirm the Lordship of Christ. While there may be legitimate academic examination of what that implies and whether there may be other ways of expressing it, the potential consequences of engaging in those discussions in the wrong setting or with the wrong participants could be eternally catastrophic to some. Given that, I’m just suggesting that a little more caution over your topic selection and/or phrasing of discussion might be in order.

        • Zzyzx says

          Scripture is written in a definite language. A language that reflects one particular culture at one particular point in time. A language that none of us now speak (apart from experts in ancient Hebrew and Koine Greek.) To put any particular language’s expression of theology on a pedestal is, to my mind, dangerous.

  5. says

    There is “theological backing” to everything under the sun. Doesn’t make it right. Is nothing sacred, or is being Christian today mean doing everything we can to not offend someone or cause them to face their own issues?

  6. Jeni Markham Clewell says

    All of our hymns need an inclusivity overhaul. And don’t get me started on choral anthems! Please, please stop using the F-word. Please.

    • says

      Jeremy, as a fellow pastor charged to point people to the saving power of Jesus Christ, it would cause me great distress if someone – anyone – had to ask me based on my online musings whether or not I believed in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The answer does not matter at this point but only that the question even needs to be asked. I would hopefully ask myself, or at least hope to have other peers ask me, whether or not I am being a faithful witness to the message entrusted to me.

      Perhaps you’ve seen this already, but we need to be careful what we say online. http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/blog/entry/4569/dear-pastors-guard-your-online-pulpit

      • says

        Matthew 7:19-20:

        “So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of Abba who is in heaven will enter.”

        I’ll be judged on my fruits, not on my doctrinal assents as called for by internet commenters.

        • Paul Anthony Preussler says

          Yes, it is certainly true that Christ did say that not everyone who calls out to him “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven; this is clearly a warning directed against heretics, and those who work in opposition to his church. Thus I pray for the salvation of Marcion, of Mani, of Joseph Smith, and of other heretics, who I have no doubt had good intentions, but, due to the pernicious influence of the devil, led substantial portions of the faithful astray into heresy.

          Christianity is not a religion, like Hindu, in which you have a diversity of gurus, and a general freedom exists for each guru to interpret the faith. That said, some diversity of opinion clearly is permissible. The way I interpret the faith is not the only valid way; I see in many posters on this blog, including Chad Holtz and John, a living Christianity, even though I suspect we would have major arguments about other issues of the faith (as indeed I’ve had with my friend Dave Mosher). My own faith is oriented in a Patristic, sacramental, oriental and somewhat mystical direction, following mainly the Eastern churches, while revering the lost Protestant tradition of the United States, and the decline of the Church of England; to answer an earlier remark by zzyzx, while I do personally feel the UMC should be more aware of its historic connection to the Eastern Orthodox church, Orthodoxy does not require Eastern Orthodoxy, and frankly, if we could break apart the former Methodist Episcopal and Evangelical United Brethren denominations, and have them, while remaining in full communion with each other, revert to their theological and liturgical praxis as it existed in 1950, when the two denominations were at their peak in the immediate postwar period, I would leap for joy. The EUB had a distinct spirituality that the UMC has lost, and the ME church had a certain elegance to it, as one of the two primary heirs of the Anglican tradition in the US, although both were Wesleyan and theologically identical. I am an opponent of the mergers of Protestant churches; I’d rather see lots of small healthy independent denominations than one big monolithic denomination which is dying, and that’s the Methodist church of today.

          So reverting to the theological test for Jeremy Smith, he has successfully evaded my demand for him to accede to the Lordship of Christ via Matthew. So be it. Zzyzx for his part has invoked the Articles of Test.

          Therefore, I am redefining my challenge, and extending the deadline: Jeremy Smith now has until January 1st, 2014, to confirm that he affirms, in their entirety, the Methodist Articles of Religion, as presently in force in the UMC, and regards them as a confessional standard of his faith. If he can’t do that, I will regrettably have to initiate charges of heresy with his bishop. Charges I expect fully to lose, given the corrupt nature of our hierarchy, but charges which nonetheless must be filed against him, and every other heretical Methodist pastor around the country.

          That said, I will also, should UMJeremy be sacked, because I genuinely do like him as a human being, provide him with any needed financial assistance, and assistance in transitioning to another faith, such as the Unitarian Universalists.

          And in answer to the question posed by Zzyzx, as to why I’m so eager for Jeremy Smith and other far-left Methodists to transfer to that faith, rather than remaining in the Methodist church, is that that religion already provides them with the dogmatic free-for-all that they want the Methodist to believe. Why stay in the Methodist religion, and continue doing violence to it, when you can instead embark on a path of non-violence, and become a Unitarian? I really just don’t get it. Are the pay and benefits in the UU church not as good as in the UMC? If so, I wouldn’t worry about that; since their membership is growing and we’re losing members, they’re doubtless likely to offer a superior compensation package in the near future. As an alternative, there’s also the UCC. Within the UCC, you can, within each individual congregation, practice whatever form of Christianity your congregation wants.

          I just don’t see why people want to remain in the UMC, trying to do violence to its traditions, and to change it, and alienate from it its traditional members, driving them towards other churches like the Southern Bapists, or worse, some of the nightmare far-right churches like Mars Hill, or in my case, towards Syriac Orthodoxy (where I will wind up if the UMC does ultimately apostastize) when there are so many other churches that will accommodate their theology?

      • Zzyzx says

        “The answer does not matter at this point but only that the question even needs to be asked.”

        Ah, yes. The “You’ve been accused of it, so you must be guilty” argument… I’ve heard a rumor that Jeremy hangs out with tax collectors and Gentiles too. Whether that’s true or not is irrelevant at this point though… Oh… wait…

        • says

          This isn’t about rumors but about his own words. His own words lead people to question whether or not he even believes in the Lordship of Jesus. That ought to concern any pastor, or any Christian, for that matter.

          • Zzyzx says

            His own words? Really? I must have missed them. Were they right around where he said:

            “‘For those who have issues with ‘Lord’ language’ does not say that I have problems with lord language. In fact, since my theology is closer to the anti-empire research of Crossan, then lord language is very comfortable to me as it opposes the powers and principalities of empire.”

            ?

            Like I said, “once accused, then guilty.” My only concern is with people’s lack of reading comprehension and all-too-ready attitude to take up the robes of the Inquisition.

          • John says

            Zzyzx, I don’t see anyone the accusation of false belief that you’re so focused on, much less anything remotely resembling the Inquisition. What I do see clearly, however, is the promotion of intellectual inquiry that properly belongs in the academic setting. As ones charged with discipling others in the faith, equipping them for ministry, it is imperative that we avoid sowing seeds of doubt or discord within the Kingdom. Given Jeremy’s profession of Christ’s lordship over creation, why post a hymn rewritten to remove all references to that same divine authority, proclaim it as “inclusive” and worthy of “singing with gusto,” and say we’re “lucky” to have it? As a joke, ok, I get it, but my sides aren’t aching. As a subject for serious discussion apart from offering an example of apostate teaching? I don’t think so. Notice I’m not accusing him of disbelief… just suggesting that he exercised poor judgment in carrying out his pastoral authority.

    • says

      Matthew 7:19-20:

      “So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of Abba who is in heaven will enter.”

      I’ll be judged on my fruits, not on my doctrinal assents as called for by internet commenters.

      • says

        Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us (2 Thess. 3:6)

        Those who teach will be judged with greater strictness, based on what they teach/say (James 3:1ff)

        Doctrine matters: Rom. 16:7 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

        If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, (1 Tim. 6:3)

        You have a responsibility to teach sound doctrine (Titus 2:1)

        As for quoting Matt. 7, the “knowing” Jesus wants from you and all who would follow him is an intimate heart knowledge – a relationship. Not mental assent, or good deeds for goodness sake. He doesn’t want you calling Him Lord because you agree with a book by Crossan anymore than your wife would want you giving her flowers because you read somewhere that women like that.

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