"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

UCC to Consider Lordship of Christ

The national delegates to the general synod of the United Church of Christ will soon be asked to vote on a resolution stating the general synod of the UCC:

“declares the United Church of Christ to be a decidedly Christian denomination where Jesus is Lord. … Be it further resolved that this is not an optional doctrine for our pastors or churches, and that all ordained, commissioned, and licensed ministers and all Students in Care and all members must adhere to this most basic of all Christian teachings.” The full text of the resolution can be found here.

Many observers feel it is unlikely to pass. Read a news story here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'd think this would be a no-brainer and pass unanimously for a group that calls themselves "Christian". Not so for UCC.

What's the draw for UCC to continue to call themselves "Christian" if they can't hold to one of the most basic tenets of the Christian faith?

Chad Nusbaum

7:44 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

I've recently been reading a fine essay by then-Cardinal Ratzinger on the question you asked, Chad. It is in a volume called "Principles of Christian Morality" and also has a fine essay by von Balthazar. Ratzinger argues that for folks like those committed to the UCC "orthopraxy" has completely replaced "orthodoxy" as the defining characterisitic of the Church. Consequently, deep down inside--perhaps in ways they don't even realize themselves--"Christian" has come to mean little more than "those people who ACT in ways I believe Jesus would have acted" (though without orthodoxy such a judgement of Jesus-like behavior becomes entirely personal). Hence, for many in the UCC and other liberal Protestant denominations there is little or no doctrinal content to the Christian faith beyond a commitment to an all-inclusive "social justice." The only thing an intellectual commitment to the docrine of the Lordship of Christ could accomplish in the minds of such people is to exclude those who don't accept it. Better to just ask "what would Jesus do" and let those old questions of doctrine fall away. Social justice is pretty much all you have left, in the end.

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip on the book. I think I'll pick that one up. While my question was somewhat rhetorical, your response does good to answer the "what has happened". I still struggle with the "why" aspect of things, however. I mean, why not join the Rotary Club or become a Shriner rather than becoming a member of a "Christian" church that is so far removed from what the Christian Church has always been. I guess, based on your above reply, I can try to answer that with, "Maybe they don't realize that it's not Christianity that they're practicing."


1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Becky Jo said:

I agree with the idea that the basic tenet of Christianity is that Christ is divine and came for salvation. (Garrison Keillor had an excellent biography of John Wesley on today's Writers Almanac that makes jsut that point with regards to methodists at
But it sounds dismissive to just say "Social justice is pretty much all you have left, in the end." " Love one another" was in my opinion Jesus' command.

For an interesting take on this, check out John Danforth's oped in Today's (June 17th) NY Times:

Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers
Published: June 17, 2005
St. Louis

IT would be an oversimplification to say that America's culture wars are now between people of faith and nonbelievers. People of faith are not of one mind, whether on specific issues like stem cell research and government intervention in the case of Terri Schiavo, or the more general issue of how religion relates to politics. In recent years, conservative Christians have presented themselves as representing the one authentic Christian perspective on politics. With due respect for our conservative friends, equally devout Christians come to very different conclusions.

Skip to next paragraph

Forum: Op-Ed Contributors
It is important for those of us who are sometimes called moderates to make the case that we, too, have strongly held Christian convictions, that we speak from the depths of our beliefs, and that our approach to politics is at least as faithful as that of those who are more conservative. Our difference concerns the extent to which government should, or even can, translate religious beliefs into the laws of the state.

People of faith have the right, and perhaps the obligation, to bring their values to bear in politics. Many conservative Christians approach politics with a certainty that they know God's truth, and that they can advance the kingdom of God through governmental action. So they have developed a political agenda that they believe advances God's kingdom, one that includes efforts to "put God back" into the public square and to pass a constitutional amendment intended to protect marriage from the perceived threat of homosexuality.

Moderate Christians are less certain about when and how our beliefs can be translated into statutory form, not because of a lack of faith in God but because of a healthy acknowledgement of the limitations of human beings. Like conservative Christians, we attend church, read the Bible and say our prayers.

But for us, the only absolute standard of behavior is the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Repeatedly in the Gospels, we find that the Love Commandment takes precedence when it conflicts with laws. We struggle to follow that commandment as we face the realities of everyday living, and we do not agree that our responsibility to live as Christians can be codified by legislators.

When, on television, we see a person in a persistent vegetative state, one who will never recover, we believe that allowing the natural and merciful end to her ordeal is more loving than imposing government power to keep her hooked up to a feeding tube.

When we see an opportunity to save our neighbors' lives through stem cell research, we believe that it is our duty to pursue that research, and to oppose legislation that would impede us from doing so.

We think that efforts to haul references of God into the public square, into schools and courthouses, are far more apt to divide Americans than to advance faith.

Following a Lord who reached out in compassion to all human beings, we oppose amending the Constitution in a way that would humiliate homosexuals.

For us, living the Love Commandment may be at odds with efforts to encapsulate Christianity in a political agenda. We strongly support the separation of church and state, both because that principle is essential to holding together a diverse country, and because the policies of the state always fall short of the demands of faith. Aware that even our most passionate ventures into politics are efforts to carry the treasure of religion in the earthen vessel of government, we proceed in a spirit of humility lacking in our conservative colleagues.

In the decade since I left the Senate, American politics has been characterized by two phenomena: the increased activism of the Christian right, especially in the Republican Party, and the collapse of bipartisan collegiality. I do not think it is a stretch to suggest a relationship between the two. To assert that I am on God's side and you are not, that I know God's will and you do not, and that I will use the power of government to advance my understanding of God's kingdom is certain to produce hostility.

By contrast, moderate Christians see ourselves, literally, as moderators. Far from claiming to possess God's truth, we claim only to be imperfect seekers of the truth. We reject the notion that religion should present a series of wedge issues useful at election time for energizing a political base. We believe it is God's work to practice humility, to wear tolerance on our sleeves, to reach out to those with whom we disagree, and to overcome the meanness we see in today's politics.

For us, religion should be inclusive, and it should seek to bridge the differences that separate people. We do not exclude from worship those whose opinions differ from ours. Following a Lord who sat at the table with tax collectors and sinners, we welcome to the Lord's table all who would come. Following a Lord who cited love of God and love of neighbor as encompassing all the commandments, we reject a political agenda that displaces that love. Christians who hold these convictions ought to add their clear voice of moderation to the debate on religion in politics.

John C. Danforth is an Episcopal minister and former Republican senator from Missouri.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Scott said...

I vote against resolutions like this when they come up in Episcopal conventions because they're improper resolutions, not because I disagree with them...We needn't vote on these things because they're not properly up for vote. Same goes for voting on sentences out of the BCP, or a Creed.

10:09 AM  

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