Sunday, April 19, 2015

SWEDISH CHURCHMEN DEBATE #3



Opinion Blog

What Martin Modéus is actually saying

The discussions about biblical interpretations and viewpoints that have long been expressed within the Christian churches have in recent days also moved into the national press. Not totally unexpected, it is the (church's) perspective of homosexuality that has come into focus. We are many, of course, who’d wish that they rather talked about something of a more general concern, but we don’t choose the era in which we live, so unfortunately it’s just a matter of accepting the situation. Issues related to sex, relationships and marriage are, of course, also very important - both for society and for the individuals concerned with these issues.

On Monday Bishop Martin Modéus wrote a post in Svenska Dagbladet (Swedish Daily-pages) Opinion, where he went heavy handed in an attack on 22 Pentecostal pastors who on Friday spoke out on these issues in Dagen (Today – a Sweden’s large Christian daily). As a priest and bishop Modéus has many virtues, and his letters contain a good number of choice comments about the Christian faith’s message of love. But beyond this - what is it really that one of the Swedish Church's foremost representatives says? Let me give some examples of what I find is deeply problematic - if not dishonest - in his reasoning:

The first is that Modéus talks about love in a way that makes the boundaries between God's love for us, our love for God, our love for ourselves, to others and to God's creation and in addition (to) our erotic love flows into each other. When he draws it all together with the statement that since; "All love comes from God," it becomes very confusing. The ability to love comes from God is a given. But does the bishop really mean that all expressions of this love is blessed by God? This, then, is quite different from what the Christian Church has taught through the centuries! There are numerous Scripture examples that clearly speaks to the contrary.

Modéus has a solution for this as well. He writes, "to understand the message of the Bible, we must start from a general impression of the message of love." Here, I would like to have chapter and verse in support of the bishop's thesis. Different Christian traditions raise up different interpretation keys to present  biblical drama. Some highlight God's kingdom, others the covenant and still others justification by faith. To the extent Modéus is correct, that it is in fact "message of love", which is the central tenet of the Bible, I believe that this needs to be defined on the basis of Jesus' sacrificial death and obedience to His heavenly Father (see John 15: 10-14; Philippians 2: 5-8 ; 1 John 4:10, etc.). But in contrast to this, the bishop writes that we can ignore those parts of the Bible's teaching that does not tally with the love vision that "... motivates us to think about including human love". It is worth noting that sin and man's rebellion against God are not mentioned in Modéus text. Rather, the impression that’s proffered is that God's love is one enormous confirmation of us humans - no matter how we choose to live our lives.

Finally Modéus says that "the Church woken up" in that it now stands "on the side of love" as expressed by having affirmed the gender-neutral marriage law. By "church", you can then assume that he means the Swedish (State Lutheran) church, and even here it reveals a deeply problematic approach to other believers. What the bishop is saying is, in practice the following: The Catholic Church has neither understood the Bible's center or definition of love. The Orthodox church family have neither understood the Bible's center or definition of love. The Pentecostal Charismatic movement have neither understood the Bible's center or definition of love. Most Lutheran churches around the world have neither understood the Bible's center or definition of love. And so on.


One could call this all too much. But contrary to the viewpoint that Modéus claims and espouses it can hardly be called either loving, or with humility, an honest match.  Personally, I would - with a heavy heart - call it a betrayal of the Gospel.



Olof Edsinger  
April 14, 2015







TRANSLATION: Sven Ljungholm



5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said, Olaf Edsinger!

Anonymous said...

- Världen idag - "En spretig debatt i högt tonläge har rasat i såväl kristen som profan media den senaste tiden. Det handlar om kyrkans, främst pingst­rörel­sens, syn på homosexualitet. Dan Salomons­son, pingst­pastor och ordförande i pingströrelsens teologiska nätverk, beklagar hur den aktuella debatten tagit sig uttryck.
– Jag skulle önska att man med respekt sätter sig in i den andres situation, säger han."

Upsala Sweden

Kjell Edlund said...

Olof Edsinger is a well respected young man, who has become one major voice in forming the theology among aspecially the young and fresh priests within his own context, EFS - the Evangelical foundation, which is an independent part of Church of Sweden. Of which I my self am a part by the way.

He has more and more distanced him self from the "Mother Church" in his way of understanding how to read the Bible - said in a very short notice.

His father, Lars Olof "Loe" Ercisson, is also an influential bibel teacher at the movements own University of Theology, Johannelunds Hogskola in Uppsala.

Though... Note that Olof's or his father Loes opinions are far from being accepted by all of their church fellows in EFS.
There is a risk you see, that this movement which is still a part of the Lutheran Church of Sweden might split away and for them self as a Free Lutheran Church.
Mainly because of this particular question : Homosexuality. ...

This is.... So Sad!!!!

FORMER SALVATION ARMY OFFICERS FELLOWSHIP said...

"Studying church history is a tremendous aid to the soul in times like this. One reason, in fact, that we often get so discouraged is because we evangelicals know so very little church history. In reality, the Christian past is little other than a continual overcoming of discouragement and declension. In other words, past believers have found themselves in remarkably similar circumstances to ours, and yet they have persevered in hope that God would use them despite the encroachment of darkness."

Reckless Abandon said...

I am neither a theologian or an officer, former or otherwise, but have a Masters in worship development and studied church history. I agree there have been countless chasms of problematic interpretation of scripture and suffocation of the gospel's love message. I may be dismissive of the dogma that drives denominations to split, or people to leave said denominations for their own spiritual peace as they journey as pilgrims. I meet people daily who try to point out the anger of God with their biased predisposed reading of the OT and they are none the changed as we attempt to debate God's love in it all. I agree, this is one more notch on the belt of the enemy attempting to disband us as being One. Our soul purpose for living is to worship The Triune God and to be unified, as One. Well, hasn't he done a splendid job of that strategy. It is when I dig my heels in about love and earnestly seek what He is trying to achieve in my heart that I am brought to my knees with each individual that I meet who identifies their homosexuality as something genuine from their experience. I can't walk in their shoes to fully empathize but I can love them as a fellow pilgrim and leave judgment to someone else. Believe me, I pray about this quite a lot because I want to be found as His loving child when I finish my journey here. It is a daily offering, those questions we have in our personal communion with Him. So, no answers here, just a journeyman....