The Providence Treatise
I the undersigned, by the grace of God, acknowledge and pledge the following, knowing full well without Christ these things are impossible:
I acknowledge that I am a fallen human being, born into this world with the scar of Original Sin. Simply, I am a sinner who is far from perfect, who has committed sin and will, in the future, sin again. However, through the sacrifice, love and grace of God the Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit, I have been redeemed, born a new creation in Him, clothed in His righteousness. I am no longer a citizen of this world, but a citizen and member of the Kingdom of God, the Body of Christ. No man is at the head of this Body, but Christ Himself who sits at the right hand of the Father, reigning victorious over all of creation.
I acknowledge that, as St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians points out, that my battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces – Principalities, Powers, and Dominions – that rule this world. The scripture gives a prime example of these forces by describing the entanglement between the Archangel Gabriel and the Prince of Persia on his way to reach the prophet Daniel with the word of God. Only through Daniel’s continued praying, and with the intervention of the Archangel Michael, was Gabriel able to reach Daniel. This example, I believe, is the picture of what we, as believers, face everyday when we face this world. This is where the battle lay, within the spiritual realm, manifested withing the physical world.
I acknowledge that the Gospel of Christ is this: That before the foundations of the world, Christ was sacrificed to bring reconciliation between man and God, and between God and His creation. God is not mad at us, God does not count man’s sins against him, God loves mankind and will never leave nor forsake those who believe in Him. The Gospel was not only spoken through Christ in parables, but also shown through Christ by His works. These works include healing the sick, ministering to the widow, ministering to the poor, casting out demons, and ultimately sacrificing Himself, on the Cross, for the entire world. Likewise, as a believer, I acknowledge to live up to the calling of the Church as Christian, as was the case in the ancient church in Antioch, believers must live a Christ-like life. This does not mean being perfect or sinless, only Christ Himself was sinless, however it means walking in such a manner of love, peace, and self sacrifice. To do so means that one, who is a believer, must be willing to give all things for the glory of God, for the sake of His people, and for the sake of those who are lost.
In keeping with the theme of the Gospel, I believe missions and evangelism begins at home. First and foremost with one’s family, then moving to one’s neighborhood, then to one’s city, then to one’s state/province, then to one’s nation, then throughout the world. I believe evangelism is not about “correction” or condemnation, nor is about judgment. Rather, it is about sharing Christ’s love to those around us, sharing Christ’s sacrifice to those around us, and by ministering to those around us, both believer and non believer alike. As mentioned before, this includes ministering to the sick, poor, widow, orphan, destitute, hungry, demon possessed, and all of those who need the beacon of Christ’s love to shine upon them. This does not mean just teaching the Word, but living the Word. Faith without works is dead. Evangelism by preaching alone is dead. One must reach out to their family, community and beyond. One must be willing to give all of himself, no matter the apparent consequence, in other words, one must be willing to sacrifice all. As Christ points out the widow with to mites, by giving all that she had, she gave more than the religious leaders of her day, even though they gave “more” money. To be blessed, one must give, for too much is given, more is expected. I acknowledge that this seems impossible, but again. faith without works is dead, even worse, it become irrelevant.
Concerning the Issues raised in the “Manhattan Declaration”
I believe that abortion and euthanasia are murder. Abortion constitutes the murder of innocent life, as well as the murder of the inheritance of God. Euthanasia constitutes the murder of our fathers and mothers, therefore breaking not only the commandment against murder, but also breaking the first commandment with promise: Honor your father and your mother.
I believe that the blessing of homosexual marriage by the church, or any performance of religious ceremony concerning the union of homosexuals is an abomination to God and the rites and rituals He has given us. Second, any form of fornication, whether it be homosexual in nature, or heterosexual in nature, is abhorrent to God and His Word. I believe fornication, by any means, should be handled with the same fervor and determination as any other type of fornication. I believe homosexuality cannot be singled out from the root of the issue which is sexual perversion at any level.
I believe that every human being has the right to believe or not to believe in anything they desire. God, in His creation of man, created mankind in His image, giving mankind free will. This allowed for the fall of man, but it also allows for the redemption of mankind through Jesus Christ. I believe a person has the right to follow any type of religious faith he desires, whether it be Christian (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant), Islam, Buddhist, Hindu, Judaism, Gnosticism, Atheism, or any other form of spiritual or religious belief. I do not believe in forcing any one set of beliefs on anyone through word or action, however, I acknowledge as a believer in Christ that salvation comes only through and by Him. I believe in sharing the Gospel of Christ, His truth, through loving others and sharing the hope, grace, love and sacrifice of Christ through my own actions and deeds, fueled not out of personal gain or the desire for personal acknowledgment, but because of my faith in Christ Jesus, and His commandment to love both God and my neighbor.
I acknowledge the necessity, as believers in Christ, to not follow civil laws when they prohibit the full expression of our faith. As the early martyrs of the faith under the Roman Empire are prime examples, at times believers must refuse to follow civil laws, especially when those laws contradict the laws of our Kingdom, which is the Kingdom of God. however, in respect to Roe vs. Wade, the solution is simple. This is not a law that needs to be “broken.” One needs only to not have an abortion. In respect to the marriage, or civil union, of homosexuals, a church simply needs to refuse to do a ceremony. Sadly, churches like The Episcopal Church in the United States have decided to become a “civil” and “progressive” church in regards to the union of homosexuals. however, sad as this is, churches need simply not perform such ceremony. Further, if the civil government does however try and force a church or churches to perform ceremonies for homosexual couples, than civil disobedience is permissible. Likewise, if Christian medical facilities are ordered to perform abortions, civil disobedience is also permissible. However, one must be careful when determining when civil disobedience is permissible – Only when one’s faith is challenged and only when one would be forced to disobey God’s commandments and Word is civil disobedience permissible. For example, setting an abortion clinic on fire is not permissible. Likewise, rallying at a funeral to protest “fags,” though not civil disobedience, is totally abhorrent and contrary to the Word and commandments of God.
Further, Christ did not protest, either against the government nor against governmental policies. In fact, Christ’s only outburst were against the religious leaders of His people, the children of Israel. Furthermore, the early Christians did not march, protest, or rally – though faced with the ultimate persecution, they met in secret, loved their neighbors, took care of each other (Acts 4:32-34) and when faced with martyrdom, tradition tells us that they met God their Father with smiles on their faces. Christ did not politicize his message, neither did the early church. Instead, Christ taught the Kingdom of God, Christ walked the Kingdom of God, and Christ performed the Kingdom of God. Likewise, though not perfect, so did the early Church. The Church did not become political until it, Herself, became legal. This ultimately led to good things – such as the Nicene Creed, councils and the like, but also evil things, such as forced conversions, murders, pillaging, wars, division, witch hunts, persecutions against Jews and other dissenters, and more. today we are faced with a moral dilemma, how do we change the world?
The answer is simple, we cannot. Only God can change the heart of man, see Moses and the Pharoah. All we can do is follow the commandments of Christ – Love God with all your heart, soul and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. We must pray, not just daily, but constantly. We must love and give hope to those who are both brothers and sisters in Christ, but also to the lost, for just like Christ came to the world for us, he came for the lost as well. We must not condemn and judge, for as Christ said, he without sin cast the first stone. for we all are sinners, we have all broken the commandments of God, however, as mentioned, we have the wonderful gift of redemption through Christ. Furthermore, we cannot depend on any nation, civil government, or institution, we must depend on God alone. To depend on anything other than God is bordering on idolatry, for to depend on something can cause one to serve it, and as believers, we cannot serve two masters.
Christ told us to both love our enemies as well as to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. This includes taxes, and giving honor where honor is due. Furthermore, the Epistles tell us to pray for those in authority over us, both in civil government and spiritual authority. I am not against public declarations of faith, nor am I against the Church demonstrating Her faith through public means. However, I do not believe public protests are Biblical or godly. Please, bare in mind this is a personal opinion, not a judgment… I just do not see Christ involved in a public protest towards an institution of the world. Against religious leaders leading the children of God astray, or against those using religion for their own personal gain, yes, but against worldly institutions, nations, governments and laws… no. In fact, Christ Himself submitted to the worldly authority of the Roman Empire, yes so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, but remember, Christ Himself is the only one without sin, it is His example that we must follow as believers in him. Christ’s concern was not with the worldly leaders and powers, but with both the spiritual corruption and false religion of His day. Therefore, I believe we must have the same concern.
We cannot expect the world to do anything less or more than act like the world. The world is fallen, and no matter if the leader of a nation is a believer or not, the world, and therefore that nation, is fallen, and will act accordingly. The early Christians understood this, and by understanding this, they were both free in God to worship Him as well as give up their lives for Him. Not by marching or protesting, not by sending letter an mass to the Roman Emperors and governors, but by celebrating Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension everyday, by meeting and engaging in fellowship with one another, by praying for those in authority over them, and by living the Christian example of love and sacrifice. Granted, early Church fathers wrote Rome in defense of Christianity, but that was it
I heard long ago from my father, Bishop John Holloway, that one of the worst things you can do is do something to cause your brother to fall, or even worse, to drive away the lost from the truth and love of God. Sadly, in today’s world, the Church can be seen as doing just that through Her protests and rallies, Her growing interest in the political realm, and Her eagerness to judge rather than love. One might say that we need to take a stand, I agree, but to stand in judgment against a nation, or nations, when we fail to see the log in our own eye is extremely dangerous. Am I appalled at what goes on in the world, yes, however, as I have written before, I am not surprised, nor even disappointing. Yet, I will continue to pray and ask God to reveal His love and truth to the entire world, and I pray he will use me.
Lastly, I know I have failed concerning the majority, if not all, of the above mentioned articles and treatises. Like whoever reads this, I am far from perfect, a sinner, a fallen man. Again, however, I am thankful that God the Father, before the foundations of this world, saw fit to send His Son, Jesus Christ to be sacrificed for my sins, and for the sins of the whole world. This is my stance.
Pax Christi, on the Feast of St. Bibiana, Virgin and Martyr under Julian the Apostate,
December 2, 2009