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Theology Matters Jan/Feb-Nov/Dec 1997

Created in the Image of God: The Ancient Near Eastern Background of the Imago Dei by Scott N. Morschauser, Ph.D. in Ancient Near Eastern Studies.  Morschauser writes, "[I]t is now generally accepted that the phrase is derived from 'royal language' attested from Mesopotamia and Egypt, wherein a king or pharaoh is sometimes called the 'image of (a) god.'...such an observation readily lends itself to the idea that human beings function as the divine image through the exercise of 'dominion' and 'rule.'"  Morschauser looks at the Image in the Ancient Near East; the Immediate Biblical Context of Genesis 1:26-27; Another reading of Genesis 1:26-27; Wisdom and the Imago Dei and the Reclamation and the Repristination of the Imago Dei and finally, re-integrating  the Imago Dei. p. 1

The Image of God: Clarifying the Confusion by James R. Edwards, Professor of Religion at Whitworth College, Spokane, WA.  Edwards examines Genesis 1 and 2's account of God creating man and woman in his own image.  Edwards observes, "By virtue of his creation, the human is a citizen of two realms--the mundane and the celestial, the city of man and the city of God.  Genesis 1 signifies this difference by noting that all animal life is made 'according to its kind.' but the human is made 'in God's image.'"  p. 9

Why We Should NOT Approve Amendment A and An Analysis of Some of the Other Amendments Before the Presbyteries. Amendment A was an attempt to modify G-6.0106b and allow ordination of practicing unrepentant homoesexuals. p. 11

 

From Father God to Mother Earth: The Effect of Deconstructing Christian Faith on Sexuality by Berit Kjos, author of several books including Brave New Schools, Your Child and the New Age, Under the Spell of Mother Earth and A Twist of Faith. Kjos writes, "This spiritual movement demands new deities or a rethinking of the old ones.  The transformation starts with self, some say, and women can't re-invent themselves until they shed the old shackles.  So the search for a 'more relevant' religion requires new visions of God: images that trade holiness for tolerance, the heavenly for the earthly, and the God who is above us for a god who is us."  Kjos examines the Masks of the Feminine Gods; Gateways to the Goddess, the Paradigm Shift; Sex and Feminist Spirituality; Unholy Tolerance; The Nature of Temptation; and From Tolerance to Truth.  p. 1

Amendment A: Where Are We Headed?  by Paul Leggett, Ph.D. pastor in NJ. Leggett writes a critique of Amendment A that would replace G-6.0106b and allow the ordination of those practicing homosexual behavior. p. 10

Think About This: Is the PCUSA Worth Our While? by Julius B. Poppinga, elder in NJ.  Poppinga gives seven reasons why the PCUSA is worth our time and effort to reform. p. 13

 

A Ministry of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ: A Reformed View of the Atonement of Christ, by Dr. Andrew Purves, Hugh Thomson Kerr Professor of Pastoral Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. "The priestly ministry of Jesus Christ is the heart of the doctrine of salvation.  It is also almost everywhere neglected.  It is the corner-stone that carries the christological (the doctrine of Christ), soteriological (the doctrine of salvation) and eschatological (the doctrine of the future hope) weight of the Gospel.  The center of Christian faith is found in the two-fold aspect of Christ's priesthood, in which through his incarnation he took on our human nature, and from within it healed it and made it holy in himself, and which he offers up to God in and through himself on our behalf.  As Son of God, Christ represents God to us.  He is the word of God, Emmanuel.  As Son of Man, Christ represents humankind to God. He is the appropriate response to God from the body of the flesh."  This is a superb teaching on the atonement in a very readable article. p. 1

Violence, Abuse and the Reformed Understanding of the Atonement by Richard J. Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary, CA. Some radical feminists are rejecting the cross as child abuse since the Father sent the Son to die.  Mouw offers solid teaching on the meaning of the atonement that rejects the a charge of abuse.  p. 5

The Judgment of Grace by L. Gregory Jones, reprinted by permission from Pro Ecclessia: A Journal of Catholic and Evangelical Theology, Vol 2, No.2.  Jones looks at Problems With Contemporary conceptions of Christian forgiveness; God's forgiveness that is the Judgment of Grace enabling us to live a new life as forgive and forgiving people; God's forgiveness enables Christians to engage in practices of forgiveness and reconciliation; and there may be times where 'loving enemies' is as far as we can move on the path of forgiveness and reconciliation. p. 8

 

Dignity and Dying: A Christian Appraisal--"Definitions of Death" by B. Holly Vautier, a PCUSA pastor who has suffered from a chronic, disabling illness for 26 years.  Vautier addresses: Definitions and Declarations; Roots and Fruits; The Past--Perils of Non-Personhood; The Present--Failing the Personhood Test; The Future--Inclusivity or Utility?; Death, Personhood, and Life.  This is an important discussion of the protection of life.

A "New Day," or Journey Into Night? A Review of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Study Guide on Euthanasia and Assisted Death by B. Holly Vautier, a PCUSA pastor who has suffered from a chronic, disabling illness for 26 years.  Vautier writes, "Very early in tehs tudy materials the biblical 'sanctity of life' ethic is challenged by a replacement ethic in which choosing death can be an acceptable or even desirable option.  Candidates for death are person s whose 'quality of life' is judged to be so low that their lives are not worth living." p. 5

Wishing People Dead by Nancy L. Harvey, reprinted with permission from First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, Nov. 1993, No. 37.  "Christine Busalacchi, a Missouri woman suffering from serious brain damage, died on the 8th of March, 1993.  The cause of death was starvation....Christine's death followed the deliberate decision of the state's attorney general to allow those involved in her medical treatment to withhold food and water on the ground s that life support was no longer beneficial to her."  p. 7.

Dignity, Always Dignity by Frederica Mathewes-Green, reprinted wihthpermission from World Magazine, Feb. 18, 1995.  Mathewes-Green writes, "Where indeed did we get the idea that dignity is better than life? Where we ever promised in Scripture that we can die, or do anything else, with dignity? Is God so mindful of our pride? ...We want our deaths to be free from pain, mess, embarrassment. But there is a long Christian tradition of 'holy death,' that is, of allowing even a hard death to be a witness to God's grace...."  p. 10

Bioethics: A Primer for Christians, "Suicide and Euthanasia" by Gilbert Meilaender, reprinted with permission from Bioethics: A Primer for Christians (Eerdmans, 1996), pp 57-67.   Regarding suicide, Meilaender writes, "Christians to not approach this issue by first thinking in terms of a 'right to life' or a 'right to die with dignity.' That is to say, we do not start with the language of independence."   p. 11

 

Dancing on the Suspension Bridge: The Irrational World of Postmodernism by David W. Henderson, PCUSA pastor.  An in-depth description of postmodernism in which there are no absolutes and how Christians can respond to it. p. 1

Gothic Films: What They Tell Us by Paul Leggett, Ph.D.   Leggett writes, "One of the few signs of the continuing impact of the Word of God on our secular, post-modern, and now increasingly pagan world, may be found in our century's enduring fascination with the classic horror film....Prominent evangelicals of this period...were clearly going against the tide with their orthodox views of sin and salvation by grace alone. Yet this was the same worldview reflected in these Gothic novels." p. 11

 

Discerning the Signs of the Times: Responding as a Confessional Church to the Culture by William D. Eisenhower, Ph.D., PCUSA pastor and adjunct professor Fuller Theological Seminary.   Eisenhower examines the role of the PCUSA Confessions in response to the "Letter of 57" leaders who supported the ordination of practicing homosexuals.  p. 1

The Presbyterian Church Struggle: Reflections on the Relevance of the Barmen Declaration by James R. Edwards, Ph. D.  PCUSA pastor and Chairman of the Religion and Philosophy Department at Jamestown College, Jamestown, ND. Edwards examines Confessionalism versus Accommodation to Culture by looking at the struggle of the German Confessing Church that was given expression in the Barmen Declaration.  "The struggle was perceived and articulated by the Synod of Barmen in terms of confessionalism versus accommodation to culture.  Specifically that meant a conflict between two understandings and models of Christianity.  The one, represented by the 'German Christians,' advocated a 'positive Christianity' that sought to integrate the gospel as far as possible with the prevailing ideology ushered in by Hitler and National Socialism. ...The other understanding of Christianity was expressed by the 'Confessing Church,' which at Barmen and subsequent synods raised a voice of protest against reformulating Christianity according to Germanic and especially Nazi archetypes." p. 5

More Religious Than Ever? Modern American Faith Increasingly Drained of Content by Katherine Kersten, chair of the Center of the American Experiment and commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."  Reprinted with permission from the Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN, Nov. 20, 1996.  "According to recent polls, 70 percent of Americans belong to a church or synagogue. By this measure, our nation is more religious than ever....According to a 1988 Gallup poll, the vast majority of Americans agree that people 'should arrive at their religious beliefs independent of any church or synagogue."  p. 8

The Church Militant by Susan Cyre, PCUSA pastor and Executive Director of Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry and Editor of Theology Matters.   "Revisionists argue that peace is only possible when objective truth is denied.  They content that 'truth-is-relative will allow dualisms to be harmonized."  But, biblical faith does draw boundaries and defines truth and falsehood; light and darkness; sin and righteousness.  Spiritual struggle is the church's calling. p. 10

Don't Forsake Homosexuals Who Want Help by Charles Socarides, Benjamin Kaufman, Joseph Nicolosi, Jeffrey Satinover, Richard Fitzgibbons.  Reprinted with permission from the Wall Street Journal, copyright 1997 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights reserved. Jan 9. 1997.   "Young men and the parents of at-risk males have a right to know that prevention and effective treatment are available.  ..A variety of studies have shown that between 25% and 50% of those seeking treatment experienced significant improvement."  p. 12