And true to form, Jesus doesn't answer the question. He leaves it hanging there, still to be wrestled with 2,000 years later.
In the world of church, truth matters. A lot. We try to decipher it so we then can proclaim it.
And the chilling thing is this: some things are true whether you believe them or not.
Or even more to the point: some thing are true whether you want them to be or not. There are a number of contentious issues about which I long to cater to conventional wisdom, changing social mores, and even peer pressure and say, "OK, you're right; I'm changing my mind & falling in with the (apparent) majority!"
But then due to a combination of the bible's witness, church history, and even personal experience (veering precariously close to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral!), I reconsider and land again on the side of certain truths that, while uncomfortable, are still . . . true.
So here they are: five things that a large part of me wishes weren't true, but I believe they are.
5. Infant baptism is a doctrine built on a "maybe." The household baptisms of Acts 16:15 and 16:33 may have included small children and infants, so we build a doctrine around it. More than that, the denominational doctrine we've built in the UMC has grown increasingly inflexible. In contrast to the "maybe" of Acts 16, witness the "definitely" of believer baptisms in Acts 2, Acts 9, Acts 10, Acts 19, and Romans 6 among others.
4. While Hinduism has many elements that appeal to Westerners who value spirituality over religion, its net effect on the people of India is the elevation of the elite and the subjugation of the masses. Given our church's connection to the people of Odisha, India, I have more than a passing interest in the subject. And according to one Russian pop singer, Hinduism is "the epitome of spirituality." Well . . . . tell that to young girls born into the "prostitute caste" -- a life to which they are assigned at birth and from which they cannot escape. Or to boys born into the "brick maker caste" -- a similarly hopeless and predetermined position for life. While many Hindus are people of peace and serenity, the result of the religion on Indian society has been to create entrenched categories of masters and servants.
3. Hell. Yes. While people I respect greatly disagree, the church's historic stand that regards hell as a place of everlasting regret and separation remains the most faithful to the whole of Scripture.
2. I hope I keep my ordination credentials on this one, but . . . celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in heterosexual marriage is God's design for human sexuality. Hebrews 13:4 is a beautiful summary statement -- not a proof text -- of everything else the NT says on the subject: let the marriage bed be undefiled.
1. You combine the poetry of Psalm 139:13-16 and the science of the ultrasound and the implication is clear: that is a baby.