Archive for the ‘Southern Baptist Convention’ Tag

Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After the Third Sunday of Easter, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment


Above:  F. W.  de Klerk and Nelson Mandela in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1993

Photographer = Carol M. Highsmith

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-highsm-16052

Renouncing Hatred

APRIL 15 and 16, 2024


The Collect:

Holy and righteous God, you are the author of life,

and you adopt us to be your children.

Fill us with your words of life,

that we may live as witnesses of the resurrection of your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 33


The Assigned Readings:

Jeremiah 30:1-11a (Monday)

Hosea 5:15-6:6 (Tuesday)

Psalm 150 (Both Days)

1 John 3:10-16 (Monday)

2 John 1-6 (Tuesday)


For this is the message we have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another….Whoever does not love abides in death.  All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them.

–1 John 3:11, 15, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)


But now, dear lady, I ask you, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning, let us love one another.  And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning–you must walk in it.

–2 John 5-6, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)


If one is truly as one thinks, the logic of 1 John 3 (as well as Jesus in Matthew 5:21 forward) is impeccable.  Actions flow flow from attitudes, after all.  The call from 1 John 3 and 2 John is for Christians to build up each other and to seek the best for each other–to love one another actively.  Such love often entails doing that which the other person needs but does not desire, but the commandment is love one another, not to please one another.

The pericopes from Hosea 5 and Jeremiah 30, taken together, point toward the familiar theological formulation of the failure to keep the covenant as the root cause for the demise of the Kingdoms of Israel (northern) and Judah (southern).  Ritual actions are wonderful when people perform them properly, not as talismans meant to protect them from the consequences of their sinful actions for which they are not repentant.  Idolatry, judicial corruption, and economic exploitation were ubiquitous.  People needed to address those problems first, not attempt to hide behind sacred rituals, which they profaned with their lack of sincerity.

The commandment to love one another–a core component of the Law of Moses–is difficult to keep.  It tells us to lay selfishness aside and to sacrifice ourselves for others.  It stands on the bedrock of complete dependence on God and of mutual dependence among human beings.  There are no self-made people in the Kingdom of God.  The rule of the Kingdom of God is not to tell people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  No, in the Kingdom of God we pull each other up and tend to our own responsibilities, for whatever we do, even in private, affects others for good or for ill.

The difficult commandment to love one another also requires us to cease nursing grudges.  If we cannot forgive someone just yet and know that we should do so, we can rely rely on grace to help us to do that in God’s time.  We are flawed creatures, something God knows well, so moral perfectionism makes no sense to me.  The best good deeds we can muster by our own power call into the Lutheran category of civil righteousness–laudable yet insufficient to save us from our sins.  We ought, therefore, to forgive ourselves for being mere mortals; God has.

I ponder the statement that those who hate are not of God.  Then I consider the numerous incidents of hatred (from ancient times to current events) among people who have claimed to be of God.  In particular I recall the narrative of an African-American slave who escaped (with help from conductors of the Underground Railroad) to freedom in Canada, then British North America.  One of his owners had been a Southern Baptist deacon and a brutal man.  The former slave recalled the fact that this master had died.  Then the free man, a professing Christian, wrote that he did not know whether the deacon had gone to Heaven or to Hell, but that he did not want to share the same destination with this former master.  That sentiment makes sense to me, for the deacon’s actions belied his profession of Christian faith.

A good spiritual practice is to, by grace, seek to identify all hatred one has and to renounce it–give it up, stop feeding it.  If all of it will not depart immediately, at least the process has begun.  In such a case, one should trust God to deal with that which is too great a matter for one.

May more people renounce hatred and its vile fruits then glorify God together.

Let everything that has breath

praise the Lord.


–Psalm 150:6, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)








Devotion for the Seventh Day of Easter: Saturday in Easter Week (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   13 comments

Above:  Logo of the Moravian Church

Image Source = JJackman

Exodus and Hebrews, Part XIV: Following Jesus

APRIL 15, 2023


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 19:1-25

Psalm 92 (Morning)

Psalms 23 and 114 (Evening)

Hebrews 13:1-21


A Related Post:



I have heard press reports of the Vatican cracking down on liberal dissenters for years.  This is the sort of news that makes me glad to be an Episcopalian, for we have distributed authority.  And, as a self-respecting liberal, I identify with the denominational establishment more often than not.  Many Roman Catholic dissidents would occupy the Episcopal Church’s mainstream if they were to leave the Roman Church for the Anglican Communion.

I thought about that as I read Hebrews 13:17, which, in The New Jerusalem Bible, begins

Obey your leaders and give way to them….

Context matters.  The dominant theme in Hebrews 13 is looking out for each other, including strangers.  So a good religious leader is one who looks out for the flock.  When I turn to historical context I note that the audience consisted of persecuted Christians and Christians who might face persecution.  So sticking together was vital for the church.  Nevertheless, as one who grew up feeling out of place in the denomination in which he grew up (The United Methodist Church) and feeling alienated from the adjacent and dominant Southern Baptist subculture in rural southern Georgia, I reserve the right to identify with dissenters when I agree with them.  I also reserve the right to identify with the establishment when I agree with it.  I know that all of the following statements are accurate:

  1. I can be wrong.
  2. I can be correct.
  3. Bishops can be wrong.
  4. Bishops can be correct.
  5. Both sides can be wrong, just about different matters.
  6. Both sides can be correct, just about different matters.

The ultimate Christian leader is Jesus of Nazareth; may we follow him always.

Moses was the leader in the Book of Exodus.  He was, unfortunately, not immune from mysogyny, hence his instruction

…do not go near a woman

–Exodus 19:15b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

in relation to maintaining the ritual purity of men.  (The Law of Moses does cast female biology in a negative light, does it not?)  But it was generally good advice to do as Moses said; God spoke to him.  And Moses was trying to do the best he could for the people.  Leading a group of mostly quarrelsome nomads in the desert was not an easy task or vocation.

Issues of human authority and submission to it occur elsewhere in the Bible.  Paul wrote that we should obey our leaders, but Hebrew Prophets, speaking for God, opposed kings in their day.  I have no doubt that one reason the Romans crucified Jesus was that his rhetoric regarding the Kingdom of God called the imperium into question; the Kingdom of God looked like the opposite of the imperial order.  And our Lord and Savior clashed with his religious leaders.  So prooftexting one or two passages regarding this issue distorts the biblical witness on it.

I am a Christian who grew up a Protestant.  (Now I identify as an Anglo-Lutheran-Catholic within The Episcopal Church.) Much of that Protestant rebelliousness remains within me, although I have mixed it with Roman Catholicism.  So I stand with the Moravians, whose motto is


May we follow him wherever he leads us.