Thursday, February 13, 2014

Notes From Seminary: (2) Keep Your Neck-tie Clean!

My Answer:

Sanctification has been a topic of hot debate within my own deeply entrenched Church of God Reformation Movement family for decades. Even as a small child I sat in the shag carpet of my great-grandma's parlor and listed as she and her son-in-law, my grandfather would debate the topic after every Thanksgiving and Christmas meal. I learned many years ago how to dance a snappy middle of the road answer that really just dodged the question... I would refer to Paul dying daily and talk about how God was making me new and drawing me closer each day. They both liked that answer and I could sneak out of the room for more chocolate cake.

When I read about Schell emphasizing a Holy Spirit cleansing, I can hear the words of Great Grandma Elsie. She believed that the Holy Spirit sanctified and cleansed you in one fell swoop... and that you simply could not sin beyond that point in time! She would have loved Byrum's insistence that the experience perfected you! When my grandpa would argue that we still have a fallen nature, and after sanctification, were still being perfected... she would laugh at him, point her finger and tell him that he clearly had not been sanctified. 

I think I would rather have heard them argue about neckties. His were always worn and fuzzy at the top from rubbing against the scruff of his neck stubble. It may be however, that they both could have agreed that ties were superfluous and just plain decorative without a purpose. It was fascinating for me to read the evolution of the conflict. Ties are just prideful and decorative... so are cuffs. So get rid of them. But oh... those shiny buttons are even more vain! And then seeing all the men with their scratchy necks like my Pop's ruining their suit jacket's because their was no need for a collar now. 

I think we should just be relieved they stopped there! This race to be the most sacrificial and humble was shedding clothes at an alarming rate. I am thankful the tie returned.

Do we still have these debates in our church today? 

Well... when I first went to church camp, shorts weren't allowed. Not at all. And then we could wear shorts below our knees. And later to our fingertips. But never at church. I have seen the shorts debate ripple through a large congregation like tremors from tectonic plates. 

And slacks on women. Or too much make-up. Do I dare even mention the word, "neck-line" or an even more dangerous word, "hem length." Or swimming, which my church called, "mixed bathing." How about song style? Order of worship? Oh... here was a big one in my hometown, what version of the Bible are you reading?

Now, I don't mean to suggest that these aren't valid topics to discuss. In fact, reading through the history, I understand the neck-tie concerns. Most concerns start from a valid question. The problem is when we lose sight of the core mission while we rage over these distractions that would frankly take care of themselves if we were living out the heart of our belief.

Are we loving God with all we have, all we are, all we will ever be? Is that love evident and flowing out of us onto those with whom we come in contact?

As for this preacher man... I don't always wear a neck-tie, but when I do, it is always clean. Well, at least until I soil it with chocolate cake.

The questionIn this week's reading a diversity of positions on theological and ethical issues is evident. On some level these, differences recall the anti-cleansing controversy and the necktie quarrel you covered in last week's reading. Give both sides of each of these disputes. Are there similar debates being waged in the church today? Explain. 

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