Saturday, July 12, 2008

That Was Not Very Nice

Pastors are people too, human and flawed. But I take issue with Wilson Phillips’ recent Voice of the Day. My issue is on two fronts: his message and his presentation.

Religion studies professor, Dr. Charles W. Hedrick, apparently wrote a piece for the N-L urging Christians not to blame natural disasters on God. I didn’t read the article and there’s no link, but from what was quoted, Hedrick seems to have taken the position that “life happens” and that we should not blame God for everything, i.e.:

  • God did not punish New Orleans with hurricane Katrina.
  • God does not punish sinful parents by giving them a child with a disability.
  • God did not give us AIDS because homosexuals exist.

In response to Hedrick’s article, Phillips responds thus:

“It's apparent that Professor Hedrick's heart and mind have not yet been opened by our sovereign God to understand the apostles' revealed knowledge of God that we have in Scripture.”

That, my friends, is a big fat slap by Pastor Hedrick, who insults Professor Hedrick for simply having a different religious (both Christian) view. In other words, Hedrick has not had God really touch or speak to him, in Phillip's opinion. Poor sinner does not really know God, the real God of the Bible. Is that the kind of language we should use to reach the “sinners”? What put Phillips in a position to be able to know how God speaks to others? Why is it that pastors feel they know the will and mind of God?

Was that insult really necessary? Could not Phillips have simply presented his position without the big bitch slap? That was not very pastoral if you ask me. I wish he had not done that. You know, different people can read the same Bible and come to different conclusions. It is okay to see the Bible differently. It’s okay to have different views. But to publish a slam in the newspaper … gosh, I wish he had made another choice that would represent Christianity better.

Personally, I do not believe that God causes every terrible thing on Earth, but I know that lots of people do. When I worked in the field of disabilities, I had numerous Mom’s come into my office crying. I was able to identify a theme: Some churches or congregations believed that the child with a disability was born because of some sin in the parents’ life. This theology has a negative impact on the congregation and does injury to persons who wish to come to Christ.

I’m not out to change Pastor Phillip’s mind, of course. He is welcome to his view and I want him to believe what he feels is right. Would if I could, change his approach. This blog has taken shots and given shots. We frequently exchange jabs with our buddies, so what is the diff? I do not represent a business, an agency or a congregation. If I am speaking as a professional for a group that pays me, I do not post insults in the local paper. Besides, this is a personal rant blog and not a newspaper. Phillips represents a church congregation, the name of which was printed. He was acting as the senior pastor of this church when he insulted Hedrick. I disagree with that. I would be upset if my pastor insulted another in the local paper. My pastor would never do that to begin with. He’s not turned that way.

As a side note, does it not seem that opinions page of the News-Leader is turning into a Sunday School class?

6 comments:

Jackie Melton said...

"...does it not seem that opinions page of the News-Leader is turning into a Sunday School class?"

Yes.

Sky Girl said...

Yeah, I've been accused by many of not being a "real Christian" because of my social and political views. I can tell you, it definitely plays into my low church attendance.

Busplunge said...

The real Christians don't have to tell you they are Christians---you'll know they are Christians by their love.

Larry Litle said...

Interesting. I read the article very different than you did. You are reading a harsh tone in it that I did not. You are expecting it to be combative and are reading it like it is. I did not read it to mean that Professor Hedrick was not a real Christian but rather Pastor Phillips believes that he is mistaken on his approach to this issue of the sovereignty of God. I also read it to have the assumption that the Professor will come around to it eventually.

If the paper is going to ask Pastors to put their opinions out there, you are going to see a back in forth in the paper like this. The Wednesday and Saturday paper has historically had a lot of religious discussions.

Jason said...

"Some churches or congregations believed that the child with a disability was born because of some sin in the parents’ life."

Apparently those churches have cut out the part of the Bible where the Pharisees challenge Jesus about who sinned to make him handicapped and Jesus answers "neither."

Larry Litle said...

To clarify, the News-Leader editorial does not state that God was punishing anyone. It was about the sovereignty of God. That does not mean that God is punishing anyone. It does mean that He allows events to occur. There is a difference in teaching that God is in control of all events that occur and that He is punishing parents for their sin with a child with a disability.