Rimshots #24 “Change”

“Figure out what changes, what doesn’t change, and what you want to change.” Anne Hartman, Essex Partners

There are many aphorisms dealing with change. One well known one that was very popular several years ago was The Serenity Prayer.

God,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

While that advice is good, I like Anne’s advice better, especially for Christians. One of the great problems throughout the history of the Church and our life as Christians within it has been dealing with what Anne identifies. What changes and does not change? What doctrine is foundational and never changes. What demands are unalterable, what are contextual, and why do I or others want to change them?

Our technologically driven society is steeped in change. New and different is everywhere, every day. It is celebrated and rewarded. It has the cachet of inevitability. Everything changes it is argued. Change, die, or be left behind. Well that is a false demand and a false choice. While many things do change and should change, some things never change and the mixing of categories such as technology and social and religious understanding does disservice to everyone and everything. There are absolutes and unchanging realities, both in the physical world (take gravity and basic physical laws) and in the social/religious world (people still love and hate, strive for meaning and search for their place in the world).

Within the Christian faith, there are numerous absolutes, many of which are instantiated in the historic Creeds. These are the “faith once delivered unto the saints.” Those who wish to discard these unchanging attributes of what it means to be Christian are free to do so, but at the same time they should also abandon the label of being Christian. It is patently absurd to do anything else, as well as ethically immoral. Their actions are not the attempt at reform some say they are, since reform identifies and attempts to fix what is wrong, to correct error. No, they want an entirely new faith, but are unwilling to give up the trappings and legitimacy that the old ways gave them. Look at the Episcopal Church and its paramount example, “Bishop” John Shelby Spong. He denies everything that makes Christianity Christian, yet still clings to the office, titles, and identity that it afforded him. He is a hypocrite of the worst kind who knows that Shelbyism would die aborning so he clings to the appearance of godliness, depending on the trappings of the past to lend its credence to his apostacy.

We, as the Church of Jesus Christ, must come to terms with what changes, what does not, and what we should do about it. We need to remember the warnings in Revelation 22:18 about adding and subtracting. We need to remember that we are not God.

  10 comments for “Rimshots #24 “Change”

  1. September 2, 2005 at 4:53 am

    William,

    hello, well, what does change? My mood, my goals, my purpose, my perception if I run my life based on self-will. Though there is one common denominator underlying all these changes. What is it? While I can’t claim to know that regarding myself, I see only one thing in this world, that does seem not to change; it is death. All things die, all things deteriorate and disappear into nothingness. Well there are other ideas around. But if there is not this strange death i.e. something lives on later, who was I in the first place? I don’t seem to know who I really am? Many contradictory answers are given. Yet who am I really? No one knows. No one wants to know. I experienced a world, light and love beyond this world and that was way more worthwhile and precious to me than anything here. So I decided to choose eternal life, life not from this slaughterhouse (look at New Orleans…) I don’t have anything to loose. Even if it tourns out not to be quite like I thought, I still want nothing to do with this world. It is a slaughterhouse and God cannot possibly know of it. It must be my dream of death in my addiction to self-will.

    I want to change my mind. What do I use? The mind-training of A Course In Miracles.

    Thank you,
    Alban

  2. September 2, 2005 at 10:42 am

    Sorry Alban, but I cannot support your “mind training of A Course In Miracles.” It offers nothing new, but rather is an amalgamation of early gnosticism mixed with New Age premises stirred with a little UFO claptrap. I came out of that kind of stuff to faith in Jesus Christ. I came from death, as you put it, into life in Christ and experienced the greatest change any soul can experience, being adopted into the family of God (the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Nehemiah, Peter, Paul, and John). The Word became flesh and my flesh became new as I await the final revealing of the children of God.

    Thanks, but no thanks. May God have mercy on your soul and bring you out of this darkness into the light of his grace.

  3. September 2, 2005 at 4:59 pm

    So you must be 100% happy and peaceful in the certainty of your statement, don’t you? ln the midst of this slaughterhouse you have nothing to fear because you underwent a metamorphosis and now in full awareness have an incoruptible body. At least your trust is so strong that you can bring your light to any place of darkness and have it transformed to light through the power of God, as Jesus Christ demonstrated it to you. Is that what you are saying?

  4. September 3, 2005 at 11:37 am

    Alban, Jesus didn’t just demonstrate it to me. He changed me. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus and my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Triune God, the only God, has begun the good work in me that will be brought to completion. I am in the process of sanctification as I work through my discipleship, because God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is at work in me, both to will and to do what he has begun.

    Am I certain? Absolutely, because I have been changed. I have left behind the type of error (which eventually becomes rebellion) that you are now embroiled, and it was by the grace of God that I did so. Cast off the web of darkness in which you are entangled. Ask God and he will free you from the chains that bind your mind and heart. Now is the moment, salvation is at hand. Reach out and grasp the hand of Jesus Christ and be pulled out the mire that so desparately holds you prisoner. Abandon gnosis for the way, the truth, and the life and become a child of God.

    If not, well I will let the Apostle John speak the warning.

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. John 3:16-21

    May God in his mercy be gracious unto you and may you leave the darkness that entraps you and enter into life eternal.

  5. September 3, 2005 at 4:37 pm

    Is here any communication going on? No.

  6. September 7, 2005 at 3:00 am

    Bill,
    Perhaps the Serenity Prayer would make more sense to you if you could see it in its entirety and know its Christian background. I recently published it on my blog and talked about it (9-3). Here is a link where you can also find it in it’s entirety along with the name of its author, whom I also site.

  7. September 7, 2005 at 3:18 am

    Bill,
    Perhaps you would be interested to know there is more to the Serenity Prayer than the four lines you have quoted here and that it is a prayer with a Christian theme. If so, you may find the prayer in its entirety here:
    http://www.soulfoodministry.org/docs/TheOriginalSerenityPrayeraswrittenbyReinholdNiebuhr.htm

    I also printed it out in a recent post citing the author (9-3). I use the complete prayer in my life on a regular basis. I am in agreement with the woman you quote above. She seems to be saying we must live in a sense of reality and know God’s power. The complete Serenity Prayer adds to these ideas living in the grace of God with hope for every day and for our future.

  8. September 7, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    Well Alban, if by communication you mean my being willing to engage your “Course in Miracles”, then I would agree, there is none. I am not open to your prosletyzing. Why would I want to abandon the truth for a lie? I left all that stuff you are mired in long ago. There is no need to return, none whatsoever, especially now. It holds nothing, is nothing, and leads to nothing and will cause eternal separation from God, my Father. Its a no brainer.

    Now, if you would like to explore the Christian option and consider the offer of Jesus Christ to save your soul from eternal damnation, well then I am open to communicating all you need to adequately explore that possibility. Your choice.

  9. September 8, 2005 at 2:03 pm

    Paula, thank you for your views on the Serenity Prayer. I did not mean to debase the prayer (I am intimately familiar with it and appreciate it immensely) but to point out the problem of what does and does not change. In a way the focus in the prayer is on “what I cannot change” not what doesn’t change for many people think they can change the precepts of God to suit their fancy. For me I wanted to get away from the “I cannot” to instead focus on “what doesn’t”, which removes me from the picture.

    I hope that clarifies.

  10. September 8, 2005 at 6:52 pm

    I’m sorry for the duplicate comments here. I didn’t see the comments come up and reposted, Bill. Thanks for the clarification.

Comments are closed.