Thursday, June 16, 2011

Love Wins; Jesus Loses

In Rob Bell's bestseller "Love Wins"; Jesus loses.
It is a shallow invitation to the unchurched
To receive God's forgiveness
Without paying any price in return.

To draw readers into his web,
Bell uses the familiar "straw man" device
Wherein disreputable theological concepts are
Posted as targets for annihilation.

In his universe, there is no saintly afterlife
Generally referred to as heaven, and
Hell is simply a bad patch we all experience
Here on earth, due to inappropriate behavior.

According to Bell, we will obtain a happy
Life today if we simply surrender to
"God's story" for us, although he is
A little vague as to what that might be.

We should be able to find God everywhere
In everything, if we just look around us.
Strike a rock, and God magically appears, as
When he gave water to the wandering Israelites.

Jesus does not come off as very important
To the story except as a channel to God
For all persons, regardless of whether or not
They have ever heard of Him.

Yes, Jesus died on the cross, writes Bell.
That is an example to us as we suffer
Our pain for things we have done wrong,
And can be resurrected like he was.

Forget about judgment.
We will never be judged by our misdeeds.
Instead we have ample time to repent them,
Both now, and after death.

In other words, you can't lose.
God will always love you
No matter what you do.
Eventually, we will all be reconciled with Him.

This exegesis may strike you as being
About as substantial as a box of marshmallows.
Consumption of same may be satisfyingly sweet,
But you're left with nothing but a cloying aftertaste.

"Love Wins" is another attempt to lure
Folks into Christianity by making it sound
As easy and painless as it can be.
What happens after they arrive in church?

Willow Creek, the Illinois megachurch
Found in a survey of its members, that
Those who stayed were profoundly unsatisfied
With their knowledge of the faith.

This, then, requires what we call Christian Education.
Where we explore the depth of our faith
With all its contradictions and ambiguities,
And thus come closer and closer to the real God.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Dennis Canon

The Dennis Canon of The Episcopal Church
Was an afterthought, proposed near the
Conclusion of the 1979 General Convention,
And adopted in haste, perhaps irregularly.

Simply put, the Dennis Canon asserts that
The property of each parish is held in trust for the diocese.
This means that the parish does not own
The property that it paid for over the years.

So if a parish decides to secede from TEC
To operate independently, or in another Anglican province,
It can be evicted from the church building and grounds.
The diocese may then sell or otherwise dispose of the property.

Until recently, state courts supported the Dennis Canon
On the basis that TEC is a "hierarchical church."
Lately some deals have been struck where the
Seceding congregation "buys back" the property from a diocese.

Beware, then, if your parish is dissatisfied
With a theological path that TEC is taking; and
Thereupon refuses to perform certain ceremonies
Instituted and prescribed by the diocese and TEC.

The parish may then be accused by the diocese
Of abandoning TEC, and be forced to vacate the premises.
The clergy may be deposed from holy orders
And charged with committing a hate crime.

Many Episcopal parishes are now involved in litigation
By their respective dioceses to capture their property,
Although their sin has simply been to register disagreement
With actions and doctrine of The Episcopal Church.

The validity of the Dennis Canon has not been
Examined sufficiently to justify its application.
So far, courts in various states have avoided
Getting into the wrangle that would ensue.