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Methodist Seminary Ponders Removing Cross from Chapel
The Aquila Report ^ | Monday, March 4, 2013 | John Lomperis

Posted on 03/04/2013 5:59:01 AM PST by Gamecock

Actual title edited for space issues: United Methodist Seminary Ponders Removing Cross from Chapel To make the space more appropriate for Jain, Buddhist, and Islamic religious services

After recently facing some financial challenges, the seminary decided to more or less literally sell itself for $50 million to a large donor who helped transform it from a Christian seminary into Claremont Lincoln University, devoted to jointly training Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Jain clergy. In celebrating the move, Claremont President Jerry Campbell bizarrely declared that Christians who seek to obey Christ’s command to evangelize non-Christians have “an incorrect perception of what it means to follow Jesus.”

Officials at Claremont School of Theology are considering removing the cross from the seminary’s chapel for the sake of making the space more appropriate for Jain, Buddhist, and Islamic religious services.

Claremont is one of the United Methodist Church’s 13 official seminaries, which receive generous financial support from the denomination’s Ministerial Education Fund (MEF), which is in turn funded by the undesignated gifts to United Methodist offering plates around the United States. In 2012, Claremont received over $344,000 from The United Methodist church through MEF. In 2011, it received over $524,000. This decline likely reflects a new 2008 policy linking church funding to numbers of United Methodist students at a seminary.

After recently facing some financial challenges, the seminary decided to more or less literally sell itself for $50 million to a large donor who helped transform it from a Christian seminary into Claremont Lincoln University, devoted to jointly training Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Jain clergy. In celebrating the move, Claremont President Jerry Campbell bizarrely declared that Christians who seek to obey Christ’s command to evangelize non-Christians have “an incorrect perception of what it means to follow Jesus.”

Defenders of this controversial move have claimed that the new institution will operate as a consortium of distinct training institutions, one faithful to each of these religions, with the part that is the UMC-affiliated Christian seminary staying fully Christian, and somehow becoming clearer about its Christian commitment.

But last month in Las Vegas, at the “Lead” conference for young-adult ministry leaders, it was revealed that the old Christian seminary is effectively supporting the institutions dedicated to the propagation of non-Christian religions. Meagan Harris, an admissions official at Claremont School of Theology (which was supposed to have remained the Christian part of the university), confessed that her school has opened up its property for use by the other religious groups, effectively devoting the resources of the Christian part of the consortium to propping up the others, rather than simply leaving it up to each non-Christian institution to be entirely built and funded by supporters from its own religious constituency. As part of this “hospitality,” Claremont has chosen to share its own chapel with the Jains, Buddhists, and Muslims.

But it is challenging for leaders in these non-Christian religions to conduct their services in a space prominently featuring a cross, which represents a gospel which they reject. So the seminary is now considering ostensibly how to accommodate non-Christian sensitivities. The Claremont official claimed that perhaps “the best way to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and take up our cross may be to take down the cross” from the seminary chapel, lest it violate Claremont’s bedrock commitment to religious pluralism.

Harris lamented that “[t]he cross has been wielded in ways that have been violent” as well as “exclusionary.” The Claremont representative admitted, “I do have some issues with the cross,” which appeared to run deeper than only lament over the history of people mistreating others in the name of Christianity. Perhaps Harris has been influenced by radical feminist theology professor Rosemary Radford Ruether, who argues against the divinity and uniqueness of Jesus Christ but still teaches at the supposedly Christian part of the Claremont-Lincoln consortium.

Harris did say that she appreciates ways in which the cross has been “taken up by liberation theologians” and liked it as a symbol of “the guy who got the crap beat out of him for saying what he believed in.” But the Claremont official’s words were rather telling. No mention of Christ’s dying for our sins. And in true pluralistic, post-modern form, Christ’s teachings were framed not as objectively, universally True, but rather merely as some beliefs that that he personally held, just as the diverse religious adherents of Claremont Lincoln’s multi-faith cafeteria each have their own personal beliefs. In a similar vein, when pressed, Harris said that if it were up to her (which it is not), she would leave the cross in the formerly Christian chapel, but would find a way to ensure that non-Christians would not be offended by it, such as by even-handedly bringing in symbols of other faiths.

Certainly, the church needs honestly and humbly to address our collective sins, both in the present and throughout church history, of which there are many. While the history of conflict between Christians and adherents of other faiths is hardly as one-sided as many Western liberals fantasize, we must be sensitive to these legacies of pain as we relate to our Jewish, Muslim, and other neighbors today. Improving interfaith relations, even apart from evangelism, is a worthwhile social goal in itself. And it is essential for Christians to take care to avoid unnecessarily offending people, through our own sin or clumsiness, in ways which hurt the spread of the gospel.

But the internal dilemma of Claremont officials over what to do with their now embarrassing sanctuary cross is emblematic of a widespread, often sub-conscious delusion in the church world: that it is actually possible to be so sensitive and skillful in how we “wear our Christian identity” that we can remain truly Christian while the content of our faith offends no one.

I vividly remember how as a non-Christian, nothing in the New Testament offended me more deeply and emotionally than its very clear teaching that I (along with every other human being, of every religious and cultural background) was a depraved sinner who deserved to be sent to Hell, and for whom lasting hope could never be found in my own self-reliant merit, but rather only in the blood of He who died for my sins. I floundered in vain seeking an authentic, biblically honest form of Christianity in which I could avoid such realities as original sin, Hell, and the mutual exclusivity of the central teachings of Christianity vs. those of other religions, such as Islam’s fierce rejection of Christ’s divinity and Hinduism’s polytheism. It would never have been possible for someone as prideful as me to have ever converted if God had not supernaturally drawn me to that point.

For centuries, Christians in other cultures have faced fierce, often violent opposition from those asking why we could not just treat our commitment to the lordship of Jesus Christ as just one of many equally valid religious options available. After all, insisting that “there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” sounds, in the words of the Claremont representative, rather “exclusionary.”

The Apostle Paul was perfectly well aware of such challenges when, while ministering in a far more religiously diverse context than modern North America, he recognized that, inevitably, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,” “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” And yet he was famously “not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

When Claremont officials follow an essentially Unitarian Universalist paradigm of limiting proclamation of Christ crucified for the sake of accommodating worldviews that, at their heart, reject core Christian beliefs, is the main issue really “hospitality,” or the temptation to be embarrassed by the inherently, unavoidably offensive message of the cross?

Is the New Testament picture of love for our neighbors who are perishing more consistent with humbly, compassionately, and energetically seeking to invite all people into the salvation uniquely available in Christ, or with following Claremont’s president in quietly leaving them to perish, thus protecting ourselves from political incorrectness, social discomfort, and potentially very costly sacrifice?

This article first appeared on The Institute on Religion & Democracy’s Blog and is used with permission.


TOPICS: Current Events; Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: cross; methodim; methodism; methodists; religiousleft; seminary; umc; what

1 posted on 03/04/2013 5:59:15 AM PST by Gamecock
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To: Gamecock

They can remove the Cross right after they shut-down.


2 posted on 03/04/2013 6:07:23 AM PST by PGR88
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To: Gamecock

GW Bush’s “Christianity”.


3 posted on 03/04/2013 6:08:31 AM PST by ecomcon
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To: Gamecock
... devoted to jointly training Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Jain clergy. ...

I wonder what sort of Jewish "clergy" would be trained there?

4 posted on 03/04/2013 6:22:47 AM PST by Salman
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To: Gamecock

alright!!- just in time for Easter!

The NEW moneychangers in the Temple!


5 posted on 03/04/2013 6:22:47 AM PST by mj1234
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To: Gamecock

I gave up on the Methodists years ago. Mr. Mercat was raised Methodist so when we got married, I tried to get him interested in going again. He was not but a few years later, the Easter after his father died, we took his mother to Easter services. The lady minister did not, in the entire service, mention Jesus or the Resurrection. Now, last Saturday, we went to a small central Kansas town for a funeral. It was in a lovely Methodist Church with a marvelously timbered roof, stained glass windows and a full pipe organ. That lady minister was quoting scripture and praying to Jesus with a radiant look on her face which told me that she was a truly righteous person. So there are pockets of faith.


6 posted on 03/04/2013 6:25:47 AM PST by Mercat (Never laugh at live dragons)
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To: Gamecock

About 10 years ago, I heard a “mainline” Methodist minister say that even he had doubts about the divinity of Christ. I think he was saying it to try to comfort someone but I took it as a really bad sign and a horrible thing for him to say. Other Methodist churches I attended were more interested in food drives and putting on dinners than teaching the Word. I knew it was only a matter of time before “mainline” liberal Methodist churches shut down.


7 posted on 03/04/2013 6:25:57 AM PST by Opinionated Blowhard ("When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.")
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To: Gamecock

“After recently facing some financial challenges, the seminary decided to more or less literally sell itself for $50 million to a large donor who helped transform it from a Christian seminary into Claremont Lincoln University, devoted to jointly training Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Jain clergy.”

What profit it a man to gain the whole world.... ?


8 posted on 03/04/2013 6:27:02 AM PST by Boogieman
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To: Gamecock

Burn the place down.


9 posted on 03/04/2013 6:37:32 AM PST by Tugo (357SIG)
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To: Salman

Q: I wonder what sort of Jewish “clergy” would be trained there?

A: Liberal women rabbis.


10 posted on 03/04/2013 6:54:04 AM PST by theBuckwheat
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To: Gamecock

The united methodists haven’t been Christian for years. Like all the old liberal mainline denominations, they are dying a slow death as Christains seek to worship with other Christians (that is, at denominations that still follow the bible) and non-Christians don’t really show up for worship at all.

The most conservative (Bible believing) denominations are thriving while the liberals are dying on the vine.

How odd: Do it God’s way and prosper or do it man’s way and die. Who’d a saw that coming?!


11 posted on 03/04/2013 6:55:06 AM PST by John O (God Save America (Please))
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To: Gamecock

The “great falling away” continues....


12 posted on 03/04/2013 7:24:32 AM PST by beethovenfan (If Islam is the solution, the "problem" must be freedom.)
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To: Gamecock

**Methodist Seminary Ponders Removing Cross from Chapel**

**Claremont Lincoln University, devoted to jointly training Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Jain clergy.**

HUH? And what does the Bible say is someone is ashamed of Christ?


13 posted on 03/04/2013 7:34:14 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Gamecock

The Wesley are spinning in their grave. They might as well take the cross down. As predicted, it has become an offense. If you abandon the Scriptures, these results are to be expected. Contrary to popular belief, there ARE MORAL ABSOLUTES and if you ignore them or discard them, you should not be dismayed at the.resulting consequences. Men change. GOD NEVER CHANGES.


14 posted on 03/04/2013 7:39:07 AM PST by cashless (Obama told us he would side with Muslims if the political winds shifted in an ugly direction. Ready?)
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To: Mercat

I was raised Baptist. When I married my Methodist wife years ago we went to a small town, conservative God-fearing Methodist Church. After a few years of showing her where her tithes went and after a couple months of a new pastor that caused the small membership to dwindle I got her in a rock solid Southern Baptist Church. She could not believe the difference and we haven’t looked back. I just wished I had pressed more early on to get her there from the get go.


15 posted on 03/04/2013 7:59:53 AM PST by Resolute Conservative
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To: Gamecock

The fact that this discussion could ever even be had is evidence that the place should be burned to the ground.


16 posted on 03/04/2013 8:06:33 AM PST by pgkdan ( "Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not." ~Thomas Jefferson)
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To: Gamecock
"Harris did say that she appreciates ways in which the cross has been itaken up by liberation theologians' and liked it as a symbol of 'the guy who got the crap beat out of him for saying what he believed in.' But the Claremont official’s words were rather telling."

". . . the 'guy'"????

17 posted on 03/04/2013 8:45:33 AM PST by loveliberty2
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To: loveliberty2
In celebrating the move, Claremont President Jerry Campbell bizarrely declared that Christians who seek to obey Christ’s command to evangelize non-Christians have “an incorrect perception of what it means to follow Jesus.”

THE GREAT COMMISSION

Matthew 28:18-20

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

18 posted on 03/04/2013 10:14:07 AM PST by cport (How can political capital be spent on a bunch of ingrates)
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To: Gamecock
Calling Islam a "non-Christian religion" is a real howler. In fact, it's a virulently anti-Christian religion, as can be seen from its constant denunciation of "polytheists," a term that is often and, indeeed, primarily appllied to Christians due to the Christian belief in the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Also, just look at Islam's continuing history of bloody conquests, almost all of which were directed at Christian areas. Indeed, the entire mideast is the area where Cristianity arose and which was initially converted to Christianity. Many other religions, such as Judiasm and Budism, don't agree much with Christianity, but none of them has conducted a 1,400 year jihad against Christianity and Christians.
19 posted on 03/04/2013 10:47:11 AM PST by libstripper
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To: Gamecock

i hardly believe God is pleased His children are sharing the same worship area with those that do not consider Him, God. I can’t see any way He’d think this was the right choice to make.

Can’t serve God and mammon (money, idols, etc)


20 posted on 03/04/2013 11:42:11 AM PST by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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To: Mercat

“lady minister” - a whole other methodist problem right there. not denying she’s righteous, just the sad state that there’s no man shepherding the church there righteously.


21 posted on 03/04/2013 11:44:26 AM PST by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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To: John O

well, i wouldn’t say they are thriving. i’d say they are holding their own at best, or on less of a decline than others.

secular education kills faith. we see the results. if they aren’t lost by end of high school, college does it. add in abyboomer deaths increasing and declines in family size and the numbers are down across the board.


22 posted on 03/04/2013 11:47:22 AM PST by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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To: Secret Agent Man

No argument from me. I’m a Roman Catholic and the day that my Church ordains a woman is the day I leave and I’m sure a lot of folks will leave with me.


23 posted on 03/04/2013 12:44:05 PM PST by Mercat (Never laugh at live dragons)
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To: Mercat

I’ve already left the contemporary services but will never take leave of the faith and core doctrine. I suspect you wouldn’t either. BTW, thanks for earlier.


24 posted on 03/04/2013 12:58:31 PM PST by steve86 (Acerbic by Nature, not NurtureĀ™)
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To: Mercat

and in your denomination, you guys don’t get to choose who is in charge of your church. as a congregation you can’t install them and you can’t remove them.


25 posted on 03/04/2013 1:33:10 PM PST by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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To: Salman

But what about Jain. Is that what happens when the Tarzan clergy goes PC ?


26 posted on 03/04/2013 5:13:51 PM PST by wonkowasright (Wonko from outside the asylum)
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To: Secret Agent Man

One of the many things I love about my church.


27 posted on 03/04/2013 7:48:11 PM PST by Mercat (Never laugh at live dragons)
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To: Mercat

well you’ll love life here even more as the government is going this way also. the top guy has a god complex and he’s flexing it pretty well now.


28 posted on 03/04/2013 9:12:04 PM PST by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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