The Pastor's Buzz

Pastor Buzz Trexler's blog for God's people in The Meadow.

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Name: Buzz Trexler
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Journalist for 29 years; married to Donna for 28 years; parent of David, 27, and Elizabeth, 24; pastor of Green Meadow United Methodist Church in Alcoa since 2002.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Some devotions are really timely ...

The debate about hell continues to spill over into my life.

There are copious columns and letters coming into the newsroom. There are even hints that a recent retired UMC pastor's column questioning whether God would send sometime to hell is proof to some of our brethren that my denomination teaches false doctrine.

Incidentally, for the uninitiated, among the doctrinal standards in the United Methodist Book of Discipline is Article XII of "The Confession of Faith of the Evangelical United Brethren Church," which helped form the United Methodist Church in 1968. Article XII, entitled "The Judgment and the Future State," reads thusly:
"We believe all men stand under the righteous judgment of Jesus Christ, both now and in the last day. We believein the resurrection of the dead; the righteous to life eternal and the wicked to endless condemnation."

It's not that I don't believe hell exists; in fact, I see nothing in Scripture that leads me to believe anything other than orthodox Christian teaching on the subject: It does exist; it was not created for man, but for Satan and his minions; and God provided a way to ensure believers in his Son's act of love are not destined for such a place. That way was the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins, and his being raised from the dead ...

Aw, shoot; never mind! Go read the Creeds for yourself!

The obvious revelation of these recent discussion is this: I believe some people are more concerned about escaping the flames of hell than they are about living out God's Kingdom on earth.

To twise a phrase, some of us are 'so hellishy minded that we are no earthly good.'

And that's what's keeping some postmodern at arm's length from the Church today.

I was reading Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost For His Highest" this morning and the Scripture was 2 Cor. 4:10 -- "See that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body."

Chambers writes:"We have to form habits to express what God's grace has done in us. It is not a question of being saved from hell, but of being saved in order to manifest the life of the Son of God in our mortal flesh ..."

One more strike against those whose faith -- or at least whose teaching -- appears to begin and end with fire insurance.

Thankfully, "Like a good neighbor, Jesus is there."

Grace and peace ...

Archie Bunker's doctrinal insights revealed ...

Do you remember when the TV sitcom Bible studies started hitting the churches?

The first one I discovered was made available for free on the Internet in the mid- to late 1990s. It centered on "The Andy Griffith Show," but many of us merely referred to it as "The Gospel According To Barney." One of the Christian publishers picked up on the idea and put it together in some slick packaging; however, I preferred the original model.

Personally, I’ve always thought it would be more gutsy and sometimes more reflective of the Church’s dinner table discussions to produce a study entitled, "The Gospel According To Archie Bunker." When it comes to discussing doctrine, we sometimes reflect more of Archie than the unity of the psalmist: "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1)

In the spirit of promoting unity rather than dissension, I decided to focus less on the Church and more on Archie. To do that, I perused Internet sites such as Amazon.com for quick quotes. Amazon.com was promoting the video "Archie Meets Meathead/Sammy Takes Bunker Hill."

Moreover, I thought it would be helpful to organize his wisdom into doctrinal stances.

For instance, here’s Archie talking to Sammy Davis Jr. concerning the Bible as it relates to the division of the races:
Archie: Now, no prejudice intended, but I always check with the Bible on these here things. I think that, I mean if God had meant for us to be together he’d a put us together. But look what he done. He put you over in Africa, and put the rest of us in all the white countries.
Sammy: Well, he must’ve told ‘em where we were because somebody came and got us.

And then there was the time when Archie and his son-in-law Michael (a.k.a., Meathead) touched on the humanity of Christ:
Michael: Archie, remember that Jesus was Jewish.
Archie: Yes, but only on his mother’s side.

Concerning the matter of the order of Creation:
Archie: God created the universe in seven days.
Edith: Six days. On the seventh day he rested.
Archie: Well only for a while then He looked over what He done.

On the divinity of Jesus Christ:
Archie: All over the world they celebrate the birth of that baby, and everybody gets time off from work. Now if that ain’t proof that he’s the Son of God, then nothing is.

On the omnipotence of God:
Archie: God can do anything! He can turn your jawbone into an ass!

Archie definitely had an answer for those who would question God’s omniscience, and perhaps those who believe in what some call "open theology" — the proposition that God does not know, and can not know, the exact nature of future events.
Archie: God don’t make no mistakes, that’s how He got to be God.

And Archie certainly believed in a God who was a respecter of people and nations, as he revealed while telling the Meathead about an interview he gave concerning President Richard Nixon:
Archie: I told them how many people like me believe in President Nixon. God believes in him, too.
Michael: You said that on television? "God believes in Nixon?"
Archie: Certainly. Billy Graham plays golf with him, don’t he?
Michael: What does that mean?
Archie: That means God believes in Nixon.

(Incidentally, the Meathead professed to be an atheist, but consider this slip he made on one show: "I just thank God I’m an atheist!")

And concerning the fall of man, Archie used Scripture to show it was all woman’s fault.
Archie: Don’t go blaming nothing on God that youse women brung on yourselves.
Gloria: What?
Archie: Yes, that’s right. You don’t believe me, read your Bible. Read the story about Adam and Eve there. Adam and Eve, they had it pretty soft out in paradise. They had no problems, they didn’t even know they was naked. But Eve, she wasn’t satisfied with all that, see? And one day against a direct order, she made poor Adam eat that apple. God got sore. He told them, "Get your clothes on and get the hell out of here."

Archie's theology may have been questionable, but it was certainly colorful. Which makes me wonder: What theological "Bunkerisms" are we trying to pass off today? And how is it hindering the missio dei ... the sharing of God's love?

As a matter of disclosure, in addition to being pastor at Green Meadow United Methodist Church in Alcoa, www.themeadow.org, Buzz Trexler is also managing editor at The (Maryville, TN) Daily Times. This appeared in column form in today's edition of the newspaper.