Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

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Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby Bare_Truth » Thu Dec 25, 2014 5:43 pm

Pick a doctrine of your choice. Preferably a doctrine about Christian Conduct that is held by your denomination / church / congregation. Maybe it is:
-- smoking,
-- the consumption of alcoholic beverages at even moderate levels,
-- remarriage after divorce,
-- abortion in cases of rape,
-- you do (or do not) believe that vegetarianism is mandatory,
-- abortion on demand,
-- non-sexual social nudity,
-- the literal presence of Christ's flesh in the consumption of communion bread,
-- the excommunication of those practicing homosexuality,
-- the liberty or lack of it for a member to hold to a different doctrine,
-- etc. - Whatever!
It does not matter if the doctrine in question is a liberty or a restriction. They have their arguments and you have yours.

Now let us suppose that you are distinctly on the opposite of this issue with your denomination / church / congregation, on this point. Yet at the same time you are solidly and perfectly aligned with 98% of the doctrines, you are not lax in keeping them, and are thought to be an exemplary member, perhaps you are even a deacon or elder of the congregation (whatever that title means in that context).

And just to be clear about this, the doctrine on which you differ is strictly held and regarded to be of high importance to them and might get you the boot. But you and your family are very involved in this church, And they do not know your position on the doctrine in question. Nevertheless, no other church is close to being in agreement with your understanding of scripture.

Now:
-- what options do you consider?
-- what do you do?
-- what sequence of steps do you take?
-- What is the Ethical thing to do.


Presumably the first step is to pray and maybe fast and pray.
-- You could keep your mouth shut and continue as if there were no problem.
-- You could suppress your conscience and just go along to get along.
-- You could address the whole congregation on the matter.
-- You could address just the Hierarchy (such as it is).
-- You could drop out and keep on looking.
-- Something else???

What does the scripture say?

----------------------
The foregoing is not perfectly posed, so no "slipping out on this" by pointing out that "smoking" is not a big deal, etc. .

The real objective here is to get at what we ought to do about our practice of naturism by looking at the larger picture of heterodoxy. And if you say naturism is different from other heterodoxies and therefore some particular option applies, please show how!

Hmmm, kind of sounds like an essay question for a final exam :shock: .... Sorry about that. :roll:
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Re: Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby Petros » Fri Dec 26, 2014 2:17 am

Where I stand - and I do not claim that Herself is in perfect harmony on this - is best stated by four actual cases.

Church A holds to Dispensationalism. The minister is a friend and neghbour, the congrgation congenial, most of the preaching / teaching within acceptable limits and some very to our address. To become a member requires standing and attesting, I accept the church's doctrines, including Dispensationalism. Minister says, just say it and interpret it as you belive, no big deal. We cannot do that, we cannot be members, we leave.

Church B has a particular view of the Eucharist. Membership requires / assumes acceptance of that and othe teachings - with which we differ. The minister has told, for example, our sil Pulcinella that he is fine with admitting her though she does not hold those beliefs. We cannot do that. We stay out.

Church C has a number of unusual teachings, none of which are deal-breakers for us. One of the ministers, whom we know and respect, is expelled for disagreeing with the others on an issue of church governance. We do not go with him - but we leave the church.

Church D has a mix of convenrtional and unconventional teachings. None are dealbreakers for us, our deviations in belief are not dealbreakers for them. We stic with them comfortably until we move out of the area.

Bottom line: you may believe all sorts of goofy things, you may have some heretical [by our standards] ideas, but if you see me and I see you as brother in Christ I can and will worship with you. But if you insist on conformity, saying for example anyone snake handling with coral; snakes instead of cottonmouths is damned, we will have to walk.
The truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loincloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim - Basil Chamberlain
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Re: Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby Ramblinman » Fri Dec 26, 2014 11:33 am

Well said, Petros!

Here's the position statement I expect to hear from any church where I would make any kind of meaningful commitment:

In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas

"in necessary things unity; in uncertain things freedom; in everything compassion"
Thanks to Wikipedia for publishing the phrase

So what is necessary?
I cannot simply agree to disagree with a church that blesses sexual lifestyles which scripture condemns as an abomination. The Church then becomes an agent of Satan.

Condemnation of naturism?
Depends on context...
Is it a single member with no authority?
Is it a condemnation based upon a misunderstanding of naturism?
Is it simply the teaching that it is permissible but ill-advised?

If it is a pastor, deacon or elder who makes it a show stopper (ie you cannot serve in the church if you practice naturism), would you simply go underground?
I would not remain in such a church.
Last edited by Ramblinman on Fri Dec 26, 2014 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby Bare_Truth » Fri Dec 26, 2014 11:41 am

So Petros, if I may paraphrase your position it seems to me that.

Church A would have you as a member if you feigned acceptance of a required doctrine that you do not accept. So You are out of there because that would require you to be dishonest.

Chruch B claims it has has a "mandatory doctrine" but will let you in even though you do not hold "that one". So you are out of there because that requires the church to be dishonest.

Church C has a form of church governance which it holds as required, and ejects a minister for disagreeing with that. So you are out of there because of their rigidity on church governance and willingness to eject a minister who you respect. Yet you do not follow him. This is a little difficult for me to understand as you did not specify where you stood on that particular matter of church governance. It would seem that you want a church with no firm governance pattern.

Church D and you disagree on points of doctrine but not vehemently and and the differences are perceived as only heterodox but not vile heresy on either side so fellowship is not withdrawn on either side. So you stay.

-- From cases A, B, C I gather that you reject any church with a required core conformity.
-- From your "bottom line" statement, I gather that conformity to an odd side issue is a major red flag.
-- From case D, You seem to imply a generalized aversion to conformity especially rigid conformity.

------------------------------------

If I now come back to the matter of naturism and the rejection of church members who practice it, I think I can refine the issue a bit.

It is rather like the the rabbinical practices with respect to leavening during Passover.
Leavening is treated as being symbolic of sin as the fermenting process is a sort of rot (symbolic of corrupting sin) and the puffing up of "bread items" makes them look like they are more than they are, (symbolic of human vanity).

But when it comes to the making of matzos the rabbis have a requirement that the rolled out matzos dough be perforated before it is baked so that steam will not be trapped and cause any swelling that might even look like there had been any rotting that might produce swelling (i.e. an appearance of sin and resulting vanity).

Then going one step beyond that they do not allow any wheat or other grains or their flour to remain in congregants houses lest water fall upon it and start a fermentation. Then they require that if flour is needed for a recipe that it be substituted with meal made from ground up matzos (consider that matzos is flour +water baked quickly so that there is no time for fermentation, and the water is driven off. Then it is ground back to flour! The only real difference being that any yeast has been killed by heat, and it is now certified as kosher for Passover.) And further still, Consider that some rabbis forbid even legumes to be in the house because it can be ground into something that "appears" to be flour ! And aslo legume products may ferment in the gut and produce gas, which some then consider a form of leavening process.


The parallel case for us naturists is that the churches forbid lust, fornication, and unchastity and we Christian Naturists affirm that this is sound core doctrine.
BUT:
While the churches have not published a core doctrine that social naturism is forbidden, if we practice Chaste Social Naturism, the clergy promptly wax elequent in eisegesis on the topic and condemn our engaging in the practice as being unchaste lustful and fornication at least in thought or appearance.
WORSE YET
If we practice Chaste, Private Naturism, (e.g. either private naturism on our own secluded property, or even more so, within the home among family members), they also condemn that! And the condemnation results in our excommunication from the congregation, and often it is noised about as gossip and character assassination.

And now having stated what we all know frequently happens:
-- What then is the ethical thing to do when we believe that we are in a church that we fit well in but that will probably treat us so, if they were to find out?
-- What is the Christian course of action?
-- Is there anything exclusive to Christian naturist practice, that makes it any different from any other sort of de facto heterodoxy?
-- Is the fact that its exclusion is not an explicitly stated doctrine relevant?
-- What if a prominent Minister has spoken against it, does that make any difference?
-- Are we being hypocrites to be in a church that we overwhelming agree with even though we are confident would not have us if they knew we were naturists?
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Re: Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby Ramblinman » Fri Dec 26, 2014 11:57 am

If naturism were merely a wardrobe preference at an annual beach vacation,
I'd say, let it go; try to blend in at the church that misunderstands it and condemns what they misunderstand.

But naturism for a Christian consists of an understanding of the body as imago dei, created in the image of God and although hurt by man's fall from grace, the body is not thus made inherently indecent and lewd.

And naturism has demonstrated experimentally that social nudity and household nudity is a force for diminishing corporal lust rather than enhancing it. This flies in the face of the common wisdom, both inside and outside the Church. I have a Christian friend who thinks that naturism is not a sin, but he thinks it is ill-advised based upon this notion that nudity is too often a source of temptation, so it should be avoided.

This comes down to strategy: do I "deal with" a temptation by avoiding it or by confronting it head-on?
Does a church that kicks you out over a disagreement about strategy merit your tithes and offering and presence?
While I do not argue with the notion that a church cannot ask their members to resign or not hold office if they disagree with the essentials of doctrine, if it comes down to a mere perception of impropriety, is that grounds for shunning, eviction or bars to ministry?
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Re: Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby jasenj1 » Sat Dec 27, 2014 12:11 am

So I have some experience with this topic, too. At a previous church I revealed to a pastor that I had visited nude beaches and thought it was fine. Boom! I was removed from ministry and told to repent or leave the church. I ultimately left. I came to realize that as Bare_Truth mentioned they were really concerned about lust, sexual immorality, etc. Social nudity was just a proxy for all those sins. As mentioned in this blog post, the people I was dealing with had no experience or understanding of social nudity. Culturally, they have been conditioned that nudity = sex. Little old me was flying in the face of decades of conditioning.

Would it be possible to overcome that? Certainly, with God's help. But it didn't happen.

At my current church, the pastor is rather anti-alcohol. A couple of years ago they instituted a policy where all teachers have to sign an agreement asserting among other things, that they will not consume alcohol. At least one prominent and well-loved teacher left because of the policy.

This pastor has also made some rather anti social nudity statements.* I'm pretty sure if he were to discover my naturism bad things would happen.

OTOH, it is a rather large church - over 5,000 members - I'm sure the pastor is aware not everyone who is a member agrees 100% with the pastor's doctrinal positions.

And now, it is late where I am, and time for bed. I have some verses in mind that I think are applicable here. I'll try to get them posted tomorrow.

- Jasen.

*He's also shared a story from the pulpit about a female nurse in a previous church he led who saw him naked when he was in the hospital. So he clearly has no problem with mixed gender nudity in certain contexts.
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Re: Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby Petros » Sat Dec 27, 2014 2:27 am

Bare Truth,

to modulate your otherwise excellent restatement< I will clarify:

In the case of Church C, we might have moved with the rejected minister, but he left the area. What had originally been a difficult commute essentially doublerd, we were not in a position to up stakes.

There are also Church E: about half the church moved out over doctrinal dissonances, leaving us, the rejected minister, and a smallish remainder.

AND Church F [G, H, I] : the church preaches a doctrine we find abominable, and we never darken their door [though for some years we had a friendly relationship with a couple who were members of Church F.

The essentials of NT Christianity, as opposed to the distinctives various groups have added to it [God made the integers, all else is the work of man], are remarkably - simple, the Shema, Christ's two gratest commandments, Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount.
The truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loincloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim - Basil Chamberlain
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Re: Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby jochanaan » Tue Dec 30, 2014 1:06 pm

Our case as nudists/naturists is worse still: We have a new and fuller understanding of the relationship between simple nudity, sexual temptation, body image, and our status as "made in the image of God." This understanding (which may only be new to our generation) can help the churches "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (II Peter 3:18) But, rather than hearing us and searching the Scriptures to confirm our understanding, most folks, including church leaders who should know better, hold to their old understanding and condemn us for our freedom; and, by this, they deny themselves a measure of peace, joy and comfort to which God has led us. Yet we cannot force them; even though all the reasoning, logic and even some research is on our side, they have the numbers and "authority."

But there is historical reason for hope. In the 1840s, Rachel Oaks (later Preston), a Christian Sabbath-keeper, came into contact with a group of Millerite Christians, and single-handedly convinced them that the seventh-day Sabbath was the true, God-given day of rest and worship. That entire denomination, the Seventh-day Adventists, now claim the Sabbath as a distinctive. They changed their view because of one woman's courage. (She must have been quite a lady!)

And there are now several Christian nudist churches and home Bible studies around the US. We have perhaps a unique opportunity to stand up and "expose" ourselves (sorry!) as Christians AND naturists while upholding Biblical views on sexuality and the human body. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free..." --Galatians 5:1
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Re: Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby Ramblinman » Fri Jan 02, 2015 12:43 pm

jochanaan wrote:And there are now several Christian nudist churches and home Bible studies around the US. We have perhaps a unique opportunity to stand up and "expose" ourselves (sorry!) as Christians AND naturists while upholding Biblical views on sexuality and the human body. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free..." --Galatians 5:1

While I am not a strict Sabbatarian, you point is still well-taken.
It was a profoundly unpopular doctrine in the day it first emerged, but not because sabbath-keeping was objectionable to many Christians, but because it abandoned the tradition of Sunday worship. In my grandfather's day, many Presbyterians were ultra strict Sunday-sabbath keepers, not even cooking food nor so much as licking a stamp. But changing that to the Jewish Friday night to Saturday night was opposed by Sunday sabbath legalists as much as more lenient Sunday worshippers.

So back to message: is there hope that we Christian naturists can get a measure of tolerance if we are orthodox in all the other fundamentals?

Thou shalt never be naked for verily, the body of man is an abomination to thy God Hezekiah 6:12
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Re: Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby Bare_Truth » Fri Jan 02, 2015 1:03 pm

Ramblinman wrote:.... So back to message: is there hope that we Christian naturists can get a measure of tolerance if we are orthodox in all the other fundamentals?
Not enough hope to make it likely!

You will probably get a reaction where they try to apply either 1Cor 5:6 or Gal 5:9 About a little leaven leavening the whole lump, which is probably true enough even if in this case their "hard tack", pharisaical, Victorianism could use a little something to lighten it up. I am afraid that for the textile majority of church goers, clothes are and will remain a litmus test item.
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Re: Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby nakedpreacher » Fri Jan 02, 2015 9:11 pm

maybe a response from a different perspective will help, or maybe it will just gum up the works more (honestly I don't know) I apply what Paul says about eating meat in I Cor. 10. I know that Naturism is not a sin, nor is alcohol consumption in itself. I have and exercise these freedoms, however I do not practice them before my fellow Christians, nor do I speak of them directly. Were I asked about them I would tell the truth without trying to hide them, however since I do not know the condition of my brothers heart (would he in exercising these freedoms be condemned by his own conscience) I do not bring up the subject. I do regularly preach on our freedom in Christ and in that preaching say nothing that would condemn these freedoms. I am certain that, were they to know that I am a naturist, many would not be surprised and would not have a problem, some would. My biggest concern is that the hierarchy would not understand and that I would have my license revoked. The maxim "in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity: is a good fit here. This is not the line of demarcation between Christianity and the world. as Long as my brothers and sisters will live with me in peace, I will live with them in peace, regardless of their stance on this issue. if they will not live at peace with me, then there is nothing I can do about that. I will not compromise the truth for the sake of peace. I believe that this is consistent with the faith and with biblical instruction concerning the body of Christ.
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Re: Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby Ramblinman » Fri Jan 02, 2015 9:22 pm

Preacher, what was the example of Paul?

True, he did not eat meat sacrificed to idols among the weak, but neither was he silent about the issue. He wrote public letters about it. The difference is: he was able to build a foundation for the concept in his letters.
If someone passed by his table, there might not be time to explain the situation in such a context.
Perhaps a sermon doesn't allow enough time for a theology of naturism to be unveiled in context, in a manner that would not be misunderstood. But I cannot believe that God wants his church to remain ignorant of the concept.
So could this be explained in a book?
In a multi-week study program to those who have had the prerequisite understanding?
What about theology of naturism in a seminary?
I do not want to see you excommunicated, but we must find some way to break this impasse and bring the truth to God's people.
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Re: Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby Petros » Sat Jan 03, 2015 1:01 am

I have learned a few small things in my life.

God can change hearts and minds. Even mine.

I can't.
The truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loincloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim - Basil Chamberlain
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Re: Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby nakedpreacher » Sat Jan 03, 2015 5:13 pm

my hope is to obtain my M.Div. and teach at a denominational college. I plan on using naturism as a challenging point to kind of rock those beliefs into which they have been raised. these are valuable learning experiences which shake all that can be shaken (Doctrines of men) so that only that which can not be shaken (true gospel) remains. I had a professor in college who reveled in reading the complaints brought against him to the academic dean. one read "Prof. E.H. denies the deity of God", which is self contradictory once you call him God you have deified him. What he did was to show the stupidity of man made doctrine so that true doctrine would shine all the more. I hope to have many such complaints against myself where I teach. If some not finding biblical injunctions against nudity reason that simple nudity is permissible and even desirable then I will not argue. what do I hope to accomplish? creating pastors who, when confronted with a naturist church member do not freak out and boot them from the church. If not naturist pastors, at least naturist tolerant ones. baby steps
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Re: Personal, Denominational/congregational, Non-Conformity

Postby Bare_Truth » Sat Jan 03, 2015 6:07 pm

nakedpreacher wrote:my hope is to obtain my M.Div. and teach at a denominational college. I plan on using naturism as a challenging point to kind of rock those beliefs into which they have been raised. ....
:shock: And just which denominations were you thinking of doing this with, and how long do you expect to last as a faculty member with them? :roll:
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