In the Wake of the Child Abuse Scandals in the Catholic Church

In the Wake of the Child Abuse Scandals in the Catholic Church

The recent scandals committed by clergy in the Roman Catholic Church with the thousands of victims, and these victims young boys and girls, is the focus of this essay.

I am not a Catholic Christian, but I am a Christian, and all of us who openly identify with Jesus Christ are tarnished by the events that go deep into the Vatican itself. And this is not something new, either.

What follows is a reporting of a conversation I had this morning with members of the local clergy.

First, someone said the exposure of the abuse has nothing to do with homosexuality but everything to do with pedophilia. And to suggest it has to do with homosexual behavior is homophobic. I take issue with this.

I have been around too long to cringe at this slanderous statement. As a pastor for fifty plus years, I have seen plenty. Yes, not all the molestations are of a homosexual nature, but most are. The altar boys are just right there.

Second, I mentioned that there is a pro-gay contingent at the heart of the issue, which is rooted, and deeply, in the Vatican itself. And the issue is not about celibacy either, meaning clergy has to find some sort of sexual outlet since marriage is not permitted them.[1]

Third, there is nothing new about clergy engaging sexually with youth under their care and guidance. It has been going on for centuries.

Everything changes when the molester holds the power of salvation over the victim’s head. In the Roman Catholic Church, salvation is only attainable through the Church itself, with the rites of baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, and the other “sacraments.”

Sacraments are rites and rituals that confer salvation, and the Church’s clergy give out the sacraments. So what we are seeing now is none other than the abuse of power.

Fourth, power is always the corrupting element. For so long the molesters could get away with what they did because of the power they held over others, plus the ability to cover up the crimes in case there would be complaints.

We happen to live in a day when whistle blowers are honored and protected, and thus it should be. So a crisis is brewing in the sacred halls of clerical power.

Correspondingly, we live in an age when homosexual behavior is almost sacrosanct, and by this I mean, one dare not even suggest there is anything wrong with homosexual behavior. Even those who say they stand with the “Word of God” equivocate. But there are still those of us who will say, “No! homosexual behavior is wrong, it is sinful.”

Fifth, as a sinner myself it is no simple thing to point the finger at others. Quickly the story of the woman taken in adultery comes to mind. Jesus said to the woman’s accusers, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone at her” (John 8:7). Then the Apostle Paul referred to himself, and in the present tense, as the chief or foremost of sinners. (see 1 Timothy 1:15)

Sixth, a way out of this morass may be the recognition that no human being, no church, no group, gives the gift of eternal life. Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. (see John 14:6)

This great truth frees people from being fearful of exposing clergy abuse. This alone must be the message of those who call themselves Christians.

Seventh, it is not homophobic, or hate speech, to call homosexual behavior sin. Yes, in a culture that is bent on appeasing and promoting homosexuality, there is a cost to pay. Indeed, many         will be cowed by the fear of being labeled homophobic. However, we who follow Jesus must be braver than this. We must make a decision. Will we strive to avoid criticism from those who want to fit into the massive trend to okay sinful behavior? Or will we desire to honor the One who created us male and female and gave us the gift of marriage?

A final personal word: This is not a political statement. No one knows how I vote and I advocate for no one. But because I do not want this essay to be rejected out of hand by someone saying, “Well, what do you expect from a Trumpite!” I tell you right now I did not vote for President Trump. I advocate for Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Kent Philpott

September 2018

[1] There is nothing in the Bible stating that preachers, pastors, and other church leaders are not to marry. The history of celibacy is long and complex, but for it being a biblical mandate is absolutely false.

# 14 The Parable of the Talents Matthew 25:14-30

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 14

The Parable of the Talents

Matthew 25:14-30

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. This parable is remarkably similar to the Parable of the Ten

Minas of Luke 19:11-27.

  1. A talent, some commentators say is worth 20 years of labor.
  2. A very wealthy man before leaving on a long journey gives 5 talents to one servant, two to another, and one to still another.
  3. The servants with five and two talents put the money to work and each doubled their money as a result.
  4. The third, however, thinking the boss was an exacting and difficult person, hid his one talent in the ground.
  5. An accounting is given when the master comes back. He finds the one with five talents now has ten to give him. The master says he is “a good and faithful” servant. Likewise with the servant who had two talents, now has four, is also “a good and faithful” servant. And to both of these he says, “I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”
  6. The servant who hid the talent in the ground did not hear the master’s words of praise and reward.
  7. The Master scolds the “wicked and slothful” servant and tells him he should have at least gotten interest from the money with bankers.
  8. This servant now has his talent taken from him. And this procedure, the faithful servant is given more while, the unfaithful servant suffers loss and loss to the extreme.
  9. The unfaithful servant is now cast into the outer darkness, a place of pain and torment.
  10. The point of the parable: the faithful servant goes about his or her work using what the Master has given each one.

 

THE PARABLES OF JESUS # 13 The Parable of the Ten Virgins Matthew 25:1-13

THE PARABLES OF JESUS # 13

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Matthew 25:1-13

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. The background to the parable is the wedding customs of the Jewish people in that era. The bridesmaids (known as virgins) would gather with the bride for the arrival of the bridegroom.
  8. The timing of the arrival was usually at night but the bridesmaids would not know exactly when. There is some indication that the wedding processional would be in the wee hours.
  9. Since the event would take place at night, it was necessary for the virgins to have their torches ready along with a supply of oil. A miscalculation might mean the virgins without enough oil for their lamps would be left out.
  10. Sure enough, five of the bridesmaids were caught without enough oil for their lamps as the bridegroom tarried. They would be then left out then, a truly sad event.
  11. It would seem that those with a supply of oil might share with those who needed more. But no, the “wise” virgins realized there would not be enough oil for all so they advised the other five to purchase some from oil dealers.
  12. As the “foolish” bridesmaids were off to buy more oil, the bridegroom and his companions arrived to usher the virgins off to the wedding.
  13. Not willing to give up, the five with a fresh supply of oil, nevertheless showed up at the wedding party.
  14. Shockingly, the “master” or bridegroom in this scenario, refused and even said, “I do not know you.”
  15. The single point of the parable is that Jesus’ followers are to be ready for His second coming. which was largely the subject of the previous chapter, Matthew 24.
  16. In Revelation 19:6-10 is the story of the marriage supper of the Lamb. The theme of a bride, the church, bridesmaids, individual members of the Church, and the bridegroom, Jesus Himself, paint both a beautiful and joyous picture, but a tragic one as well.

 

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 12 Parable of the Two Sons and the Wedding Feast Matthew 21:28-31 & Matthew 22:1-14

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 12

Parable of the Two Sons and the Wedding Feast

Matthew 21:28-31 & Matthew 22:1-14

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. The audience for the Two Sons parable are the religious leaders who rejected John the Baptist, who did not cater to their ideals. However, the worst of the worst, the tax collectors and prostitutes, did.
  8. So the parable of the Two Sons: one said he would not go to the work but did, the other said he would but did not. The ‘losers’ embraced John’s testimony about Jesus while the chief priests and elders did not. Jesus is not scolding as much as reaching out to these leaders.
  9. Then a king gave a wedding feast for his son. Is Jesus making a comparison with a king of that era and His being a Son of the King?
  10. The king sends his servants out to invite people to the feast but none of these would come. So the king sent others out who let it be known how wonderful the feast would be.Yet again, no one came to the feast. They even treated these servants badly, killing some of them. But the king did not give up.
  11. Now the king gives fresh orders to his servants. He has them go out broadly, not to the usual places, but to the roads and invited everyone, both good and bad. Soon the wedding hall was filled.
  12. The king came into the wedding hall to see the guests. Doing so he found one of these who did not have on a wedding garment. It was common for the host of the wedding, in this case the king, to supply wedding garments for the guests as these would be costly and few if any would have such.
  13. The king now asks the improperly dressed person how he got into the wedding feast in the first place. This person was “speechless.”
  14. The king’s servants were then ordered to cast the person out, and into the “outer darkness” where here would be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This two phrases meant the casting into hell and away from the presence of God to people of that era.
  15. Jesus concludes the parable with, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Though the religious leaders were called, not all of them, few of them, were chosen, thus reflecting on their rejection of John.

 

What I have learned about being a bold proclaimer of the Gospel

What I have learned about being a bold proclaimer of the Gospel

There are two lessons I have recently learned the hard way, about how to talk with people who differ with me about spiritual and political worldviews.

I suspect many are like me; as soon as we hear people say something contrary to what we hold to be true, we react and make countering statements. Here are a few examples of statements that irritate me:

“I am finding yoga to be so very relaxing and mind expanding.”

“My chiropractor is doing wonders with me by helping me focus.”

“I died and came back as a very good vegetable.”

“What great relief both physically and spiritually I am getting from acupuncture.”

“My church is so affirming; all who are spiritual are on the same and right path.”

“If only we could overcome the pollution that is causing us so much grief and disease.”

“We owe it to the planet and the universe in general to resist as best we can.”

“Now that we know all paths lead to spiritual maturity, we should be in solidarity with each other around the globe.”

“We must accept and appreciate the many divergent life-styles being celebrated today.”

“I accept the divine in you and in all the life forms on the planet.”

“The universe is our grand teacher, and its stars and planets guide us into all truth.”

The above is but a smattering of what I hear living in Marin County, one of the most liberal spots in the entire country. And it is here that I am to present Jesus Christ and Him crucified—a formidable if not almost impossible task. Yet this is what I and other followers of Jesus are called to do.

Our example

A survey of the Book of Acts is helpful here. We find that the objective of the Christian witnesses, whether Peter, John, Stephen, Philip, Barnabas, Silas, Apollo, or Paul, was always to find a way to present the person and work of Jesus Christ. Contrary opinions were generally ignored, especially in person-to-person evangelism. Changing from secular and pagan views came later when those evangelized were now believers and gathered together.

Paul did challenge worldviews when he addressed the Athenians in a public speaking venue, which was appropriate. However, the early Christians simply went directly to the story of the cross and resurrection of their Lord. They gave out the Gospel and depended upon the Holy Spirit to convict of sin and reveal Jesus as Savior and Lord.

We can do the same.

Being patient

Last week I spent at least an hour in my office with another Marin county “liberal” in every sense of the word, while this person recounted how life had become extremely painful to the point she felt it would be no loss to simply die. Without bringing up even one element of what we Christians call apologetics, I explained who Jesus is and what Jesus did—the Gospel. With full attention and some tears, this person began to experience a personal revolution.

No conversion occurred, but we are in prayer, and when the new birth comes, then some of her current cherished beliefs that are complete error will slowly disappear, and without much being said.

Two days ago, my wife and I spent an hour or more with a youngish woman who has imbibed the general spiritual and political tone popular in the San Francisco Bay Area. A number of times I wanted to jump in and set her straight. Sure enough, one time I did say something too strong, and she instantly stiffened and recoiled. We could have lost her to further conversation, but I quickly retreated from my need to correct her and returned to patient listening. After a while, she ran out of steam, so there was a slight opening to present something about Jesus.

A lost opportunity

Recently, several of us were sitting together after our church service, and someone we hardly knew joined us. We were talking about politics, and I failed to divert or redirect the conversation into something less problematic. Soon we were correcting this person’s political point of view, and we lost the opportunity to bring the message of grace and forgiveness to a very needy person.

After it dawned on me that we had squandered an opportunity to present Jesus to a spiritually desperate person, I had to ask myself the questions, “What difference did it make that this person held to a liberal agenda?” “Why did we think it necessary to proclaim what we are convinced to be politically correct views?” What we did only served to create an environment where the Gospel was not even mentioned. Pondering about that event gave me the impetus to write this essay.

Informed and not ignorant

Since 1965, when I first moved to Marin County, California, to study at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, I have subscribed to Christianity Today, Time, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the Marin Independent Journal. In addition, I watch a number of news programs—NBC, PBS, and a number of other news sources—left, right, and in the middle. The result is I can usually keep up with the best of them. This is only to say that I keep informed and am aware, to some degree, of the world in which I live.

see and understand how easy it is to get off message. I have been the recipient of harangues by those who feel obligated to straighten out someone with opposing views. Yes, it works both ways.

As ambassadors for Christ, we do not want to get lost in the vain philosophies buzzing about like a dangerous swarm of bees. When I was converted I believed all sorts of ridiculous things, both political and spiritual. By God’s grace I did not run into anyone who confronted me about my wrong ideas. They may have thought it, but they knew it was of no advantage to argue about minutiae.

My point is that it is not necessary to correct someone’s political and/or religious views. Our eyes are fixed on Jesus and His kingdom.

 

Let us go to the work

 The early Christians made no attempt to preach a politically oriented message, and contemporary issues were of little concern to them. They had been charged with going into the entire world and preaching Jesus. They trusted in the inner working of the Holy Spirit to bring about change. Politics meant little or nothing to them.

Today it is assumed that evangelicals are all from the same political demographic. How awful and unbiblical! Yet, the impression is now entrenched.

Not arguing with someone about their views is not the same as accepting their views. Clearly, as biblical, evangelical Christians, we do not accept the errant spiritualties extant in our world today— everything from worshipping the universe to shamanism, the occult, psychic spiritual concepts, naturalism, animism, monism, and much more. People will believe in something, and it does not matter much what that is.

But, is political thinking in the same vein? There are Christians who embrace liberal political philosophies. Should this not be allowed? I am politically conservative, but I do not let others know how I vote, and I will not endorse any political candidate, whether national or local. I want to be known as belonging to the Jesus party.

I cannot argue someone into the kingdom of God. The powerful working of the Holy Spirit can turn a hardened atheist into a newborn babe in Christ in the twinkling of an eye, and can utterly change the life of an extreme, immoral, sex-crazed deviant in a heartbeat.

An appeal

As I come to the end of this essay I am reminded of the wonderful words of the Apostle Paul as found in his first letter to the church at Corinth. Please spend some time reflecting on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Kent Philpott

August 2018

 

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 11 Matthew 20:1-16 Laborers in the Vineyard

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 11

Matthew 20:1-16

Laborers in the Vineyard

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. “The kingdom of heaven is like,” is Jesus’ way of introducing a comparison, a parable, and “heaven” is plural, or heavens.
  8. This construction, “heavens” may mean that heaven, God’s presence, is unlike anything we could ever imagine. Can we as created humans ever be capable of comprehending the glory of God? Likely not, thus comparisons can only be used.
  9. The denarius, the top wage for a full day’s work, is given to only those sent out at 6am. The work day was divided into four parts: 6-9am, 9am to 12noon, noon to 3pm, then 3pm to 6pm. The first workers would be working in the vineyard 12 hours and thus would bear the heat as well as the full burden of the day.
  10. The master proceeds to send others out during the day, late arrivers and for whatever reason, until finally some arrive at 5pm yet are sent off. Notice no wage is agreed upon for the later workers.
  11. At the end of the day, all the workers received a full day’s wage, a denarius. Those who had worked the whole day grumbled.
  12. The master points out that he had done them no wrong; they received what was agreed upon. And we notice, the master called them “friend.”
  13. One of the lessons seems to be that the master is fair and has a right to do whatever he wills. The master’s plea is: do not be angry at me over this, but allow me to be generous. And again we hear, the last will be first, and the first last.
  14. To whom does Jesus direct the parable? Those who begrudge “grace” may be the scribes and Pharisees, but such attitudes could easily develop in the Vineyard. Jesus wants, I believe, to prevent this.
  15. As to the vineyard, is this Jesus’ references the ekklesia?

 

GOSPEL MEDITATION #10 Unforgiving Servant & Persistent Widow Matthew 18:21-35 & Luke 18:1-8

GOSPEL MEDITATION #10

Unforgiving Servant & Persistent Widow

Matthew 18:21-35 & Luke 18:1-8

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Preceding the parable of the “Unforgiving Servant” is an account of Jesus speaking of forgiving a “brother” who sins against us. Peter then asks Jesus how many times must a brother be forgiven. He asks, seven times, but Jesus replies, seventy times seven. 490 times then, now, the meaning is an unlimited number of times.
  8. Jesus tells a parable of a servant who was forgiven an extremely great amount of debt, but who then refuses to forgive a much smaller debt owed to him by a fellow servant.
  9. The servants master hears of this hardness of heart, and the unforgiving servant loses all he has and is sent to jail.
  10. The point may be that those who are forgiven will be forgiving of others; thus the believer, forgiven a huge debt, will be forgiving of others. This is how it should for Jesus’ disciples.
  11. The second parable, that of the Persistent Widow, has to do with praying.
  12. A widow, having no other advocate, continues to plead with a judge for justice. At first she is disregarded, but she does not give up. Finally, the “unrighteous judge” decides for the widow, and why? Because, because the widow continues to bring her case before the judge.
  13. Jesus then asks, “Will not Got give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?”
  14. Christians, continue to pray, thus displaying their faith in a righteous God who hears their prayers.

 

The Parables of Jesus # 9 Parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son—Luke 15:1-32

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. These three parables, back to back in Luke’s Gospel, have a similar theme: something lost is found.
  8. The audience, beside the Twelve, are the scribes and Pharisees, who were not seeking the lost but rather were condemning them as sinners. Jesus continues to reach out to these religious self-righteous ones.
  9. One lost sheep is worth the shepherd’s great effort to rescue it. The woman, living in poverty, exerts every effort to find one lost coin, which represents a day’s wages.
  10. The emphasis is on what is lost and the work required to recover that which is lost.
  11. Two sons, the younger of which asks his father for what would be his when the father was dead. Not having to do so, the father grants the request. The son leaves, goes into a Gentile area, lives recklessly (in the Greek ‘prodigally,’ wastes all resources, and is forced, to live, to feed pigs, which to a Jewish man would be very shameful.
  12. The lost son comes to himself, recalling his father’s generosity, and wants to return. He is willing to be as a hired hand and not as a son as he is fully aware of his bad behavior.
  13. The father has been keeping watch for him, sees him from afar, and rushes to welcome him. Then the father calls for a great celebration, the noise of which comes to the ears of the elder brother who yet is angered by the celebration.
  14. The father assures the elder son of his continued love for him and calls him to rejoice in the return of his brother.

Parables of Jesus #8 The Fig Tree & The Faithful Servant Mark 13:28-37

Parables of Jesus #8

The Fig Tree & The Faithful Servant

Mark 13:28-37

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer.
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. These stories may or may not be actual parables, but are considered here as parable. Authorities differ.
  8. A fig tree, may represent Israel or maybe not, but when a fig tree puts out leaves, summer is surely near. Jesus had just described conditions that would occur prior to the second coming in verses 3 to 27. When certain events are observed, the end is near.
  9. The “generation” would not end until all the events Jesus mentions will take place. As for “generation” we cannot be sure the meaning of this. Maybe that very generation of apostles, or the nation of Israel, or the church…many guesses without any actual certainty.
  10. Heaven and earth will pass away, but what Jesus says, the facts of what Jesus says, will be fulfilled.
  11. Jesus moves on then to the story of a servant whose master leaves on a journey and the servant does not know when he should return.
  12. The precautionary charges are: “be on guard,” “keep awake,” “stay awake,” “stay awake,” “stay awake.”
  13. The master will return, this is certain. The servant is to go about the work previously assigned. The servant is to be faithful to his or her work.
  14. Jesus is nearing the end of His earthly ministry; only a short time left until His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. His followers must be warned as to what is about to take place. They will be crushed, but to the work they must go.

 

This Generation & The Pharisee and the Tax Collector Matthew 11:16-19 & Luke 18:9-14

GOSPEL MEDITATION # 7

This Generation & The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Matthew 11:16-19 & Luke 18:9-14

  1. Find a quiet place without distractions.
  2. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace.
  3. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer
  4. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself.
  5. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.
  6. Reread it. From memory, determine the central points.
  7. Matthew 11:16-19 may or may not be genuine parable but some do, and those who do designate it “This Generation.”
  8. It has to do with a children’s game of imitation a wedding event and a funeral. The traditional wedding music is played and a funeral dirge is sung but there is not dancing or mourning.
  9. Jesus is referring to John the Baptist who came point to Jesus as the Messiah, and Jesus revealed who He was yet both messages were ignored and rejected. Jesus’ conclusion is, “wisdom is justified by her deeds” a phrase variously understood, but likely means that the future would reveal the truth.
  10. A tax collector, or publican, was a Jew who collected taxes for the Romans and demanded more than required and pocketed that. These were highly despised. The Pharisee, regular in this prayers, fastings (Mondays and Thursdays), and tithing. Oddly, many a Pharisee was despised by the people as well. In the parable, both arrive at the same time at the temple.
  11. “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” is the prayer of the tax collector. The contrast could not be greater. One depends on good deeds the other, having none, pleads for mercy.
  12. The crowd listening to the parable would have been shocked to hear of a tax collector being declared justified, meaning his sin in total was erased and forgiven. Jesus turns the parable to be a lesson on humility. The tax collector’s prayer became the oldest prayer in church history.