Friday, September 29, 2006

soul protection

This Sunday I'm going to be sharing with our congregation the Methodist doctrine on The Use of Money. One thing that Wesley said is that we shouldn't have any form of employment that harms our souls. He explained:
So I am convinced, from many experiments, I could not study, to any degree of perfection, either mathematics, arithmetic, or algebra, without being a Deist, if not an Atheist: And yet others may study them all their lives without sustaining any inconvenience. None therefore can here determine for another; but every man must judge for himself, and abstain from whatever he in particular finds to be hurtful to his soul.
So Wesley would say that we are not intellectually responsible for dealing head on with every issue that might challenge our faith, but even avoiding things that might possibly produce doubt. This is a new way of looking at things for me.


Anonymous said...

Carl Sagan gave me an appreciation for ancient history, mathematics, the development of man, theories of possible evolution, space travel, and even time travel. But he described himself an agnostic. He didn't want faith in God, he wanted imperical, measurable, repeatable scientific proof for God. He had made natural law his god and died not knowing Jesus.

My extreme fundamentalist friends say, get your children in a Christian school, even if it is not state-accredited. Practice Biblical separation. Stay away from sin and the ungodly. (They are hard at work defining what is sin and who is ungodly.) Philosphy, pyschology, sociology, and other sciences are tools of Satan to the extreme fundamentalist.

My scientific knowledge is subordinate to my faith in God and His son Jesus. But I still study the sciences, but I don't make science my religion.

I think Wesley would agree that any science, philosphy, agenda, ideology, or social cause that interferes with the work of the Holy Spirit in bring about grace unto salvation in Christ Jesus is worldly at best and at worst, demonic.

For me, salvation through Christ Jesus is unique and sometimes the principles of inclusiveness do not hold up to scripture text "No man can come to the Father except by me".

John Flores
Frisco, Texas

JD said...

A former acquaintance once told me that it was incompatible to be a priest, or man of God, and a scientist. I disagreed. He asked what I would do if I was able to prove that there was no God.

My answer, then, was that I would not share the information with the world because there would be serious social implications, i.e., utter chaos. Some people are guided by the Spirit of truth and they listen to that Spirit to tell them right from wrong. (C.S. Lewis discusses this even better in Mere Christianity.) Others make the choice to behave, rightly or wrongly, based on the mores and folkways of a society because they did not want to get in trouble and despite what their inner being is telling them.

To share this information would mean that those who follow the laws for the sake of society, and not what the Spirit of truth tells them, would have the free reign to question what is right and wrong and could do what their own sense of being tells them.

Those that have listened to the Spirit of truth will then begin to question their existence and possible rebel in unspeakable ways.

In the past few years, I have frequently debated my wife when it came to Creationism, Australithopithicus (sp), AKA Lucy, dinosaurs, etc. One thing that has come from these debates is that God has made Himself known in everything that we can see, and more that we cannot see. I believe that the study of the sciences can only work to better understand God's creation and the reality that someone or something created it. There is too much order for it to be random.

My response to him today would be a question: What if I could prove the existence of God, would I share with anyone?

I understand what Wesley was saying, and I, to this day, feel that Satan will get us where we are the weakest. For some, their faith can be easily toppled be a well worded, and sometimes well-intentioned, conversation about science or math. Others fall due to their inability to cope with alcohol, drugs, sex…. With the knowledge I have through the conversations with my wife, I know that science and math will not be my downfall.

I believe, in my random ramblings, it is important to think on the Catholic Act of Contrition:

“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to AVOID THE NEAR OCCASIONS OF SIN. Amen.”

I believe, as Wesley, that there are many things in our world those cause occasions to sin. As he says, we each have to look within ourselves to see what our downfall can be and address it as we continue our Christian walk with Christ.


Anonymous said...


Well said. As a former Roman Catholic who learned the Act of Contrition prayer in the 3rd grade, that was an astute observation of the catholic spirit as written by Wesley and as I understand it (the catholic spririt) now as I have have become a more Bible based Christian. (I'm a Southern Baptist married to a United Methodist.)
My wife is a former Catholic and sometimes lapses into Roman Catholic practices, (ie. prayer to the saints, attending communion in a Roman Catholic church after joining the United Methodist church, and a few more).

Sometimes I need to be more understanding and loving. I originally left Roman Catholicism for a independent fundamental Christianity. I attended but did not join. I could not accept many of the legalistic ideas of the extreme fundamentalist Church but eventually came to Christ. This was a gradual process that took almost twenty years through prayer,reading and studying the Bible.

My background of 16 years of education in Roman Catholic schools held me back from extreme fundamentalism. It also set my opinions on the theology of Luther and Calvin, higher criticism of the bible, and the nature of the ecumenical movement.

But I did not have my Damascus conversion moment until I almost died in a car accident. It was there all I could think of was the question, "If I died today would I go to heaven". That day I was Feb 14, 2000 when I rededicated my life to Christ and started looking for a Church home and Bible study class. I ended up getting a postcard in the mail from a local non-demoninational church to attend a "Forty Days of Purpose". That turned out to be the Purpose Driven Life study run by Spirit-Filled Charasmatics. But that is a story for another day.

I had several of my pastors and teachers in the Roman Catholic Church counsel me not to go to seminary as they told me a seminary is where you go to lose your faith. The only seminaries that held to orthodox Roman Catholic teaching seem to be the ones run by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Jesuits are not at the front of the RC ecumenical movement.

My career is Computer Science, subtask Network Administration. I also learned Business Administration. My electives were in non-Western studies - history, philisophy and religions of Asia and Africa. My counselors at my Catholic college discouraged me from taking any thelology or Bible courses since they knew I came from a conservative church from the Diocese of Gary which was very much in step with the Arch-Diocese of Chicago. They also knew from my prior work in high school that I could be a problem if I took any classes in liberation theology, feminist theology, and biblical higher criticism. I did not realize it then that they may have been afraid of me for I was still very much an orthodox Catholic, belief in Jesus, the saints, the RC Church, anti-communist, opposed Anglicanism, Calvinism, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and a whole list. My parish opposed female ushers, altar servers and lectors.
Sadly, we repuidiated the fundamentalists and literal interpretation of the Bible. And we supported the IRA as freedom fighters against British tyranny and the liberal Protestants who with lumped together with Socialists and Communists.
My faith is more based on the Bible now. Yet in practice I still retain a component of that catholic spirit going back to the historical church and its traditions and keeping what can be proven by scripture.

I still believe that the RC Church can be reformed and become more biblical. I believe that Jesus can bring the RCC back to Him.

John Flores
Frisco, Texas

JD said...

My path was not that drastic, but I was raised Catholic. As you, I went to Catholic school my whole life. I graduated with a degree in sociology from St. Mary's in San Antonio.

Here is what I posted previously about me: I grew up Catholic, went to Catholic school my entire time I attended school, even through college, but during that time I attended a Baptist Church, which taught me to examine the basis of my Catholic faith and its traditions. I dated a wonderful woman that challenged me to look at Christianity for all that it can be and not limit it to what man wants to define it as. And finally, I married a woman who challenges me to let the Lord's Spirit guide me to His truth through scripture and prayer. Where am I now? I reply to things like this, comment on my studies in my blog, and pray every day that we will all realize that our "religion" is the outward expression of our Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Some find solace in the Catholic Church, some the Baptist, and I myself, in the Methodist, but in all that, as long as my faith, or your faith, or some other Christian's faith is based on and strengthened through a historical and spiritual understanding of scripture (it takes both, regardless of what some may think), then I will NOT criticize, but celebrate Christ's love for us with them.

There ultimately is a truth in the Bible that continues to be watered down by some Christians to better fit their culture, or their society, their progressive thinking, or just to make us feel good. One thing about God is that He, His commandments, and His teachings never change, even though we may. The basic truth is this: the Lord God loved us so much that He sent His only son, Jesus, to be a final sacrifice for our sins. Jesus, being man, had the free will to walk away from what His Father asked, but He did not, because, He too, loved and continues to love us. God set down some rules, some guidelines, to help us along that path. He offers us the truth of His word and His grace that convicts us. You can follow or you can walk away, but we must all be willing to accept the consequences of our choices. What are you going to do when God calls?

I truly believe in the Unity of the Christian Church in America. Even though I attend the Methodist church, I believe that the Catholic Church is the only, current denomination that can be traced back to Jesus. I understand what Luther was trying to do and where things went wrong.

I came to the Methodist church for a couple of reasons, they include, but are not limited to, a hedonistic period in my early 20's, my inability to feel convicted and guilt free in the Catholic church, my inability to attend the sacraments of the Catholic church, and my ultimate re-dedication to Christ.

Grace is a wonderful thing. Not only does it convict us with Christ's love, but it also challenges us by confronting our sin and urges us to deal with sin instead of living life with the belief that now I am "saved," I still go to heaven no matter what I do. James 2:14-26 is straightforward about the importance of living your faith and not just talking about it. He and St. Francis of Assisi would have gotten along great. He is credited with the statement, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

To get back on subject, I will defend any denomination that practices their faith based upon Biblical principles and tradition rooted there such. I also believe that every, and I mean, every denomination in the Christian church is a little screwed up. Why? When a church begins to attempt to run itself based upon the whims of society, political correctness, and the desire to not hurt people's feelings, and take God out of the equation, they, no matter how well intentioned, are in error and need to get back the why the church exists...not for the people, but for the glorification of Christ. Christ was not politically correct. Christ was not afraid to tell the truth. Christ did hurt some people's feelings. The truth is the truth, whether you choose to believe it. The sky is BLUE for a particular reason. Just because I think it is green and profess to that belief, doesn't make it true, it just makes me look silly.

I hope this was not as confusing as it seems. I look forward to your future comments.


Carol Herdien said...

Hey Jason! This isn't a comment on your post, but on your sermon this morning about Money and John Wesley. My Sunday school class -- every person (well, actually two were dozing) -- thought your message was great, and although our lesson this morning was on Judges, we spent a lot of time talking about what you had to tell us -- Gain all you can, Save all you can and Give all you can. We should have a study sometime on John Wesley and his doctrines. He is more interesting than I thought.

Carol Herdien

Jason Woolever said...

thanks carol, maybe we ought to do more of that!