I. Cannot. Wait. For. This. To. Come. Out.
Yahweh says this, ‘Accursed be anyone who trusts in human beings, who relies on human strength and whose heart turns from Yahweh. Such a person is like scrub in the wastelands: when good comes, it does not affect him since he lives in the parched places of the desert, uninhabited, salt land.
‘Blessed is anyone who trusts in Yahweh, with Yahweh to rely on. Such a person is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heat comes it has nothing to fear, its foliage stays green; untroubled in a year of drought, it never stops bearing fruit. ‘The heart is more devious than any other thing, and is depraved; who can pierce its secrets? (Jer. 17:5-9)
There’s a large church down the road in Knoxville which has gotten itself a bit of publicity lately because a lesbian couple attending were denied membership although, and here’s the ignorant part, the church had baptized them.
Here’s the story: a lesbian couple started attending Faith Promise Church some time back. They apparently enjoyed it and were gladly baptized. They then requested Church membership, which the Church declined (given that the couple was living in an open lesbian relationship). The couple let the news media know that it had been denied membership in said Church and wished all to know of their dismay therefore.
The media crawled all over the story but it was apparent to those of us observing the doings that two things were in progress: first, the Church doesn’t understand even the most basic doctrine of baptism, as that act itself is the act of incorporation into the local Body of Christ, the church. The church baptized people that didn’t meet its membership requirements and those people were and are not willing to adjust their behavior to meet that church’s standards.
And second, the couple in question is clearly simply seeking to make a political statement at the expense of the church. They knew, they had to have known, that they would not be allowed membership since the church is quite up front with its membership requirements (although it fails miserably to understand baptism itself). Thus, their aim all along was never to join the Church but to hold it up to public ridicule.
I know this to be the case because several lesbian friendly churches in the area invited the couple to join them and the couple refused. They had just been ‘too hurt’ to want to have anything to do with the church any longer. This is odd, however, given their proclamations to the contrary and their stated love of the Christian faith. Were any sincere couple denied membership in one location I can assure you, they would seek membership somewhere else if their faith really mattered to them.
But the couple isn’t alone in being susceptible to blame. The church never should have baptized them if they didn’t meet membership standards. Period. Baptism isn’t a game, it is an act of inclusion in the community of faith. Any baptism that is not that, is no baptism at all.
Everyone should be welcome to attend any church they wish. Period. But not everyone should be welcomed into membership unless they understand 1) what the members are expected to believe and do; and 2) what they can then expect from the Church. People who, on the one hand, are simply using the church as a platform for their own ideology should never be allowed baptism. And on the other hand, churches which baptize just any old soul without realizing that they by doing so have included that old soul in its membership should live with the consequences of that foolhardy baptismal act.
In sum- the lesbian couple baptized by Faith Promise church belong, by virtue of their baptism, to that church. They never should have been baptized if they didn’t meet the standards of the church; but the church bears the onus of responsibility in this matter and needs very seriously to evaluate its baptismal practices.
Mega churches lack – on the whole – any theological sense. Faith Promise has shown that in spades and I hope they mend their baptismal ways before they baptize a Satanist and are stuck with the public disdain that will engender.
Der Schweizer Jurist Bernhard Christ wird mit dem evangelischen Karl-Barth-Preis 2018 ausgezeichnet. Damit werde Christs beispielhaftes Wirken in Politik und Gesellschaft sowie in Kirche und Theologie gewürdigt, teilte die Union Evangelischer Kirchen (UEK) am 6. März in Hannover mit. Der Preis ist mit 10’000 Euro dotiert. Die Verleihung soll am 50. Todestag Karl Barths, am 10. Dezember dieses Jahres, in Basel stattfinden. Bernhard Christ ist seit mehr als 25 Jahren Präsident der Karl-Barth-Stiftung, die in Basel ansässig ist.