Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Right Rev. Rants (Some More!)

The Right Reverend Rants III

Rants III: Miss Piggy, Romney, Worldly Sons, Girls, and the Ole Ball Coach

Miss Piggy and Me? In a fine tribute to a brother who recently died, an old friend and colleague sought to characterize the early group of RUF campus ministers. The things that set me apart were “reasoning” and “social conscience.” I rather like being described as “reasoning” difficult as it is for a reasoning person to make his way in an irrational world and church.  But “social conscience”? I have to admit that in those days I was trying to combine a Kuyperian world-and-life view-ism with Southern Presbyterian spirituality of the church-ism that I had learned from Palmer Robertson in seminary. I taught students and campus ministers in staff training about the cultural mandate (“dominion”) and about the creation ordinances of marriage, work, and Sabbath. I encouraged making Christ Lord of every area of life. (Those who read this blog know I eventually returned to the Confession’s teaching that the church is the kingdom of God and that the mission of the church is prescribed and proscribed by Scripture.) However, I am puzzled by the “social conscience” thing. I can only think it is because of my racial views and practice. (See earlier blog on RUF and Race in Mississippi). I had a social conscience because? Our group was integrated? I did not condemn an interracial marriage?  I said if I extended a church’s invitation to students I would extend it to all of them? I said a church should obey hiring laws? But, this Reagan Republican who never met a demonstration he liked was a campus minister with a social conscience? I can only say with Miss Piggy, “Moi?”

Except Your Righteousness Exceed Romney’s. According to everything I have read Mitt Romney is a righteous man – a man of honesty, integrity, faithfulness, and good works. Moreover, his outward life appears to be matched by his inward life – seemingly a man of sincerity and goodwill. Yes, I know this is not “gospel righteousness” as does not flow from true faith and a regenerate heart. But I have a question for those who put great emphasis on evidences of faith: What more or different would you look for in a professing Christian as proof of the genuineness of that Christian’s faith? The older and I get the and the longer I observe, the more I think the righteousness that exceeds that of Pharisees and Mormons and nice people must be an imputed righteousness. Either that or we’re all going to hell. If that’s a “Lutheran” and “evangelical” interpretation of our Lord’s saying, so be it.

Mercy, Mercy on Me. I know the sons of the world are often more shrewd than the sons of light, but I am convinced that the sons of the world are often more merciful as well. A particular example is the way my son’s employer and his wife’s employer have responded to her illness. The amount and extent of concern, accommodation, and practical measures are beyond anything I have ever seen. Of course, they both have continued to do diligent and good work, but both have had major distractions, often not been at their best, and had to take much time off, and both employers have shown patient compassion. I have seen “Christian” employers who made much of their Christianity who treat employees pretty much as parts to be purchased at minimum price and replaced as necessary. Unfortunately I have also seen churches and presbyteries treat ministers in a similar manner. And, I have seen churches, whose members need and asked for mercy, treat them with malign neglect. That the world should be more shrewd than Christians is not all that surprising, but when the world is more merciful, it is more than surprising. It is disillusioning - and a scandal.

Girls. I like girls. A lot. Since fifth grade. I married one. But one thing that sort of puzzles me about today’s woman, including today's Christian woman, is that they want to play with the boys, but, when boys act like boys, the girls cry foul. Boys play too rough. When boys act like boys, girls want to have special rules for themselves. If you want to play football or engage in debate, strap on the pads and the helmet.

The Ole Ball Coach. I have been a fan of Steve Spurrier since he was the Heisman winning quarterback for the University of Florida. Every Florida boy of my generation was a Gator fan. Florida State was not much past being a girls’ school! Several years ago I heard Danny Weurffel speak about playing for the sometimes visor stomping Spurrier. One day, when Weurffel threw an interception, he came to the sideline expecting to experience the hot wrath of the coach. Rather berating his quarterback, the Ole Ball Coach met him saying, “It was all my fault! It was all fault!” I shouldn’t ‘ve put you in there!” What many don’t know about Spurrier was that his father, Graham, was a Presbyterian minister who ended up in the PCA. No doubt this accounts for Steve’s saintly side.

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