What is Transformation Northfield’s public agenda?

Agenda, Feb 10, 2011 Northfield Marketplace MinistryTransformation Northfield: Praise and Worship breakfastI attended Transformation Northfield‘s monthly Praise and Worship breakfast (called Northfield Marketplace Ministry) Thursday morning in the lower level of the Archer House. (I requested and was given permission to attend as an observer.)

I’m  interested in the group because part of their mission involves local public institutions (cities, public schools). But it’s not clear to me what that mission exactly entails and how they go about trying to achieve it.

See my concerns at the bottom of this post.

Local public officials who have acknowledged (there may be others) their involvement with Transformation Northfield (TN)  include:

Jack Hoschouer Rhonda Pownell Jeff Quinnell

Dan Clites Brett Reese
Leadership of TN is coming from Rejoice! Lutheran Church pastor Dan Clites and Northfield businessman Brett Reese (Archer House, Rebound Enterprises, Northfield Automation Systems, Northfield Real Estate Fund).

In January, Rejoice! Lutheran Church pastor Dan Clites wrote a column for the Alliance of Renewal Churches titled God’s Heart for City-Nation Transformation. Citing the city of Elk River, MN, Clites wrote:

Marketplace miracles, like those in Elk River, are occurring every day all around the world. Focused on Jesus’ calling to “make disciples of all nations…” the heart of Harvest Evangelism is birthed from Jesus’ instructions in Luke 10. He is instructing his followers how to effectively evangelize a city and a nation with the biblical purposes and principles of God…

From this core group who share a heart for Northfield, we have invited various other marketplace folks from around town to join us in a Bible study created by Greg Pagh, the lead pastor of Christ Church in Otsego, MN. The study is called “Faith Beyond Belief.” I have used it as a small group teaching tool for both my congregation and for local business people, government servants and school officials outside my congregation!

The goal of TN, according to its page on the Rejoice! website, is:

To see the cities of Northfield-Dundas serving the kingdom of God! That’s the goal of Transformation Northfield! Inspired by the movement of the Holy Spirit in Elk River, Minnesota, and other cities around the globe, a group of Northfield Christians are coming together on a weekly basis for a movement of the Great Commission. The biblical goal is to constantly pray over the city in order to bring the transforming faith of Jesus Christ into all corners of the marketplace (our schools, government, businesses, homes and neighborhoods)…

Is it working? Indeed, we are already seeing the fruit of marketplace ministers serving in their various spheres of daily influence. People are getting excited about living their faith like never before. They are establishing and taking responsibility to lead all sorts of new kingdom ministries; everything from prayer walking the neighborhood streets, to building playground equipment on the school grounds, to running for various local government and school leadership offices, to one business owner dedicating his business as a “kingdom company” for the Lord’s work.

TN is part of a larger movement, according to Clites:

I am now networking with Ed Silvoso and Harvest Evangelism, attending both the international and North American conferences. I didn’t go by myself, though, instead I have taken dozens from Northfield with me so we can all catch and grow into the vision!

Ed SilvosoHarvest Evangelism founder and president Ed Silvoso was the featured speaker at the annual Northfield Prayer Breakfast in April, 2007.  Silvoso also heads up the International Transformation Network (ITN).

Transformation - Change the Marketplace and Change the WorldIn his book, Transformation: Change the Marketplace and You Change the World, Silvoso tells the story (p. 165-170) of  how a Filipino taxi driver named Joey, after attending a seminar on transformation, intervenes in the life of the manager of a bar who “… was a homosexual who doubled up as the pimp for 35 prostitutes. He was also a drug user and a drug dealer, the latter a practical necessity to subsidize the former.”  After many days of Joey’s ministering to and praying for the manager, “the manager invited Jesus into his heart.”

Consequently he took his new convert to the beach and immersed him three times, once for each person of the Trinity since he had also ready that it had to be done in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

As soon as the now ex-gay man came up from the waters, he was struck by the power of God, evicting the demonic forces that had controlled him for so long and rewiring his psyche correctly to enable him to feel like a man again.

This YouTube video shows Silvoso telling this story at a conference. In a letter to the editor of Honolulu Civil Beat, he states that the bar manager “… is married and a pillar in his community.”

My take

Since the 2007 incident when some TN members were allowed to pray in the office of then City Administrator Al Roder, I’m not aware of anything that TN members have publicly said or done that in my judgment, is inappropriate.  I’ve engaged with Jack, Rhonda, Jeff and Brett in a variety of civic and business-oriented activities over the years and they seem to be as community-minded as I am.

But my radar is up on TN for three reasons:

1. Public policy problem-solving and decision-making

Stephanie Klinzing, former mayor of Elk River, MN wrote on the Harvest Evangelism site back in 2004 (the article has since been removed but she’s quoted here and here):

We have also discovered that I have spiritual authority in the city as well as civic authority. I have stood, in the spirit, against things that I believe God does not want in my city, and I have also opened, in the spirit, the city gates to things that I believe God wants in the city. This has had powerful results.

It seems to me that for a public official to assume that he or she knows what God wants and doesn’t want for a city, it makes it less likely that they’ll be open to other points of view, be willing to negotiate, be willing to admit mistakes.

If Jack, Rhonda or Jeff have beliefs similar to Klinzing’s, they need to be confronted if and when those beliefs get in the way of constructive public policy problem-solving and decision-making.  (Klinzing was defeated in her bid for re-election last fall and is now blogging here.)

2.  Rejoice! Pastor Dan Clites

Clites had this to say about those who opposed Rejoice! Church’s plan to move the Cleland family graves as part of their expansion plans:

As mentioned in our December 5th worship service, we have recently come against principalities of opposition (Ephesians 6:12).  Why should we expect anything less?  When a church serves in the Light of the Holy Spirit, darkness will not like it.

Most of the opposition has come from a local family that doesn’t want us moving the Cleland grave site 50-feet and into the northend cemetery.  They believe it is disrespectful to the dead. Our Building Team believes the most respectful and historic thing to do is gracefully move the remains and the headstones so they are not in the way of our important expansion.

Clites puts his actions above reproach because his “church serves in the Light of the Holy Spirit,” whereas those who disagree are labeled “principalities of opposition” and “darkness,” clear references to the devil. (See my Dec. 14, 2010 blog post and subsequent discussion for more.)

This tactic, if deployed in the public sphere, can be even more polarizing and disruptive to constructive public policy problem-solving and decision-making.

3. LGBT issues

For TN to be connected to Ed Silvoso and his organization is ominous.

Any message, direct or indirect, that homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals are somehow under the influence of demonic forces, is not only hurtful and destructive but dangerous.  It can have a corrosive effect on the morale of LGBT employees who work for the city and school district.

And for any LGBT youth in our schools who are struggling to come to terms with their sexual identity, it can exacerbate their pain, lead to depression, or worse.

It concerns me that some teachers and coaches who are members of TN might convey this belief to the youth they work with. And it concerns me that some of the youth involved with TN, who are urged to live their calling in the marketplace of school, could fall into demonizing other youth.

Conclusion:

Jack, Rhonda, Jeff and Brett: I applaud your civic engagement.  Please be on the alert for how elements of TN might be inadvertently detrimental to the Northfield community that I know you love.

207 comments to  (Including 30 Discussion Threads) What is Transformation Northfield’s public agenda?

  • 1
    Obie Holmen says:

    All citizens have the right to contribute to public policy debates, and thus we shouldn’t begrudge the efforts of the transformation folks to exert influence in the political sphere. But, the right to promote an agenda does not immunize that agenda from scrutiny and criticism. I suggest the transformation agenda is suspect for three reasons.

    1) Unbridled self-assurance. This is reflected in Clites’ reference to his opponents as “principalities”, which Griff appropriately criticizes.

    2) Within Christian circles, the emphasis on enhancing the financial well-being of participants, which this group characterizes as “marketplace ministry”, is often derided as the “prosperity gospel”. It is the “me” generation run amuck under the guise of Christian principles, but it ignores the essential Christian message of servanthood.

    3) The rampant homophobia of the International Transformation Network, aka Harvest Evanglism, is frightening. Contrary to every credible, scientific point of view, this group promotes the discredited “junk science” of reparative therapy. It is hardly coincidental that Clites’ Rejoice Church has been one the few in this part of the state to quickly secede from the ELCA following that denomination’s approval of gay clergy.

    • 1.1

      Thank you, Obie. “Marketplace ministry” (aka “Jesus loved wealth”) and “curing” homosexuals… pretty sure that was not what Jesus was all about.

    • 1.2
      Griff Wigley says:

      Obie, I’ve not seen/read/heard anything that links the philosophy of ‘prosperity gospel’ to either Transformation Northfield or Rejoice! Church.

      My understanding of what TN means by ‘marketplace ministry’ is completely different.

      If you or anyone else have some links that would substantiate it, post them here. Otherwise, that should be retracted.

      • 1.2.1
        Obie Holmen says:

        Yes, Transformation Northfield and transformational ministries in general speak about the market as a place to evangelize. But, there are also strong hints at a prosperity based motive.

        On the website of Rejoice, there is a link to International Harvest Evangelism. Prominently located on that home page is this statement:

        Christian business men control large amounts of the nations wealth in Indonesia. Learn why, after rediscovering God’s purpose for his business, Mr. Cahyadi has started repositioning his business inline with Biblical principals

        http://www.transformourworld.org/en
        Rejoice openly seeks to emulate the Elk River, Minnesota experience. In a book about Elk River, one of the principals wrote:

        One of the key indicators of the success of the Elk River prototype, and a component of the detonation process, has been Riverview Community Bank. This bank, founded in March, 2003, has accumulated $100 million in deposits in 28 months, making it one of the fasteest growing start-up banks in the history of the State of Minnesota. During this period 100 people have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord during banking hours. Additionally, 70 people have been healed when they received prayer at the bank. The New York Times wrote a ten-page article about this bank in their Sunday Magazine published on October 31, 2004. As a result of this article television news teams from all over the world have been coming to Elk River to document the marketplace ministry happening at the bank, and the spiritual climate change that is taking place in the city.

        http://citymiracles.com/en/books/the-elk-river-story.html

        Here is another quote from the same book about the same bank, which prominently displayed a portrait of the bank’s officers shaking hands with Jesus!!

        The Lord said, “I’m going to cause such an acceleration of this bank, that you will be invited to speak to secular groups about what has made the bank successful.” The Lord told me, “Chuck, if you will do the things I’ve called you to do, I will take care of the bottom line.” Two weeks before the bank opened up, I prayed about what should go on the cornerstone of the bank. Then the Lord told me to put these words on the cornerstone “In God We Trust.” The week before the bank opened up the Lord told me to pastor the bank. “Take what I have taught you and pass it on to others,” He told me. “Teach others within the bank to pray for the customers. Not only will your customers make physical deposits in your bank, but you will also make spiritual deposits into you customers.”

        http://minnesotaindependent.com/48014/the-bank-that-god-built-shuttered-by-state

        These are classic examples of the prosperity gospel which Rejoice Northfield endorses. “If you will do the things I’ve called you to do, I will take care of the bottom line.” Being a good Christian is good for business.

      • 1.2.2
        Raymond Daniels says:

        Am I missing something? I looking at Rejoice’s website now and don’t see anything that remotely suggest the prosperity movement. I do see this statement on there from the TN link..

        To see the cities of Northfield-Dundas serving the kingdom of God! That’s the goal of Transformation Northfield!

        Inspired by the movement of the Holy Spirit in Elk River, Minnesota, and other cities around the globe, a group of Northfield Christians are coming together on a weekly basis for a movement of the Great Commission. The biblical goal is to constantly pray over the city in order to bring the transforming faith of Jesus Christ into all corners of the marketplace (our schools, government, businesses, homes and neighborhoods).

        Rejoice! sees itself as a city leader in this prayer evangelism movement. We believe, through the power of community prayer, God is raising-up Christians in the city to bring others to the faith! Pastor Dan Clites says he is a pulpit minister, but our congregation is the marketplace ministers! Together, we are blurring the lines between the sacred and the secular! As Martin Luther once said, we are “the priesthood of all believers!”

        Transformation Northfield is based on Jesus’ outreach ministry of Luke 10:1-20.

        •BLESS people’s lives and homes, vs. 5
        •FELLOWSHIP to develop relationships, vs. 7
        •MINISTER to people’s felt needs, vs. 9
        •PROCLAIM the good news of Jesus, vs. 9-11

        I also don’t see any link to Elk River on the main page. What are you looking at?

      • 1.2.3
        Obie Holmen says:

        Mr. Daniels,

        I’ll walk you through it.

        First, go the Rejoice website under the “About” dropdown menu, choose “Networks”. The link to Harvest Evangelism is 2nd on the list. That’s where you’ll find the first quote in my comment.

        Second, the quote you offered included the line “Inspired by the movement of the Holy Spirit in Elk River, Minnesota”. which is much the same as what I said “Rejoice openly seeks to emulate the Elk River, Minnesota experience.” You are correct, there are no links to Elk River on the Rejoice website, but use your imagination. If Rejoice claims to be inspired by transformation Elk River, and you want to know about transformation Elk River, Google “transformation Elk River”. At the top of the results is a link to Rick Hereen’s Harvest Evangelism site, and if you go there, you will find a link to “The Elk River Story”, and that is where I obtained the second quote above which mentions the Riverview Community Bank of Elk River. If you then Google “River View Community Bank Elk River”, you will find a link to the Minnesota Daily article which contains the third quote I offered.

        By the way, I failed to mention the bank’s ultimate failure, which is reported by the Minnesota Daily article.

        My comment did contain all these links, and now I have explained how I obtained them in the first place.

      • 1.2.4
        Griff Wigley says:

        Thanks for the explanation and links, Obie. I now see the Harvest/Elk River connection to the ‘prosperity gospel’ principles.

        And I see that the New York Times Sunday Magazine did a BIG article on this back in 2004… and Chuck Ripka and Riverview Community Bank in Elk River were featured:

        Faith at Work
        http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/31/magazine/31FAITH.html

        You and I can dismiss ‘prosperity gospel’ (I did back in 2007 this blog post) but when applied to people’s businesses, it’s really none of our business unless public policy or public funds are somehow involved.  (I supposed one could argue that the failure of the Riverview Community Bank in Elk River was a public issue since it ultimately cost the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) many millions.)

        But I guess the question now is: how might this be relevant to the public sphere here in Northfield?

      • 1.2.5
        Raymond Daniels says:

        Thank you Mr Holmen. I didn’t realize that link was on a sub-page of a sub-page listed with 4 other links that have nothing to do with your comment. Though I do find it interesting that the other 4 links are to networks that think the ELCA is going in the wrong direction. I’m sorry, no disrespect intended, but help me understand your motive here in trying to tarnish Rejoice!.

        That being said, are you saying or implying that Rejoice!’s mission statement, listed below…

        http://rejoicenorthfield.org/About/mission.php

        “Ministry is what we do to encourage, bless and grow fellow Christian believers. We do ministry through worship, fellowship, prayer and care and biblical teachings.
        Mission is what we do as evangelism to reach-out to pre-believers so they too can be encouraged and blessed as believers in Jesus Christ— our Lord and Savior!

        Pastor Dan Clites is a member of the National Alliance of Renewal Churches Leadership Team. For more information on the ARC, see: http://www.allianceofrenewalchurches.org.

        Ministry and Mission lead to Values! Values are the non-negotiable conscience of the church. Values are the internal compass that guide the way Rejoice! fulfills it’s purposes while reaching it’s vision.

        PoWeR SuRGe!
        PoWeR: We know our dependence upon the power of God for Rejoice! to accomplish God’s purpose of sharing the true Gospel of Jesus Christ! Everything we do is about a living relationship with Jesus and participating in the Great Commission to expand the kingdom of God!

        Prayer: We rely on private and corporate prayer in the conception, planning and execution of all the ministries and activities of this church. Rejoice! is so serious about exercising the power of prayer, that we strongly encourage all partners to take classes on how to pray for others…including the importance of praying for the whole community: schools, government, neighborhoods and marketplaces.

        Worship: We desire to acknowledge God’s supreme value and worth in our personal and corporate lives through authentic, Gospel-centered, Spirit-filled and Spirit-led, culturally relevant, experiential, motivationally contemporary worship.

        Reading: We strive to teach and learn God’s living Word with integrity and authority in the Lutheran renewal tradition of Spirit-led Word and Sacrament. We go to the Bible for courage and inspirational guidance so that all people can mature in Christ. We believe the Bible is God’s inspired Word and our final authority in faith and life. Please bring your Bible to worship!

        SURGE: We seek to equip our designated and gifted people to effectively accomplish the work of our ministry and to make every partner a ministry of Jesus. Our goal is to multiply ourselves by planting churches. We will constantly evaluate our forms and methods to fulfill our Mission Statement, seeking cultural relevance and maximum ministry effectiveness for the sake of the Gospel. Changing lives in Jesus our surge!

        Serving: We encourage people to serve Jesus inside and outside the church, with Gospel-centered hearts of love and gratitude, rather than duty, guilt and condemnation.

        Relationships: We are a welcoming and loving community of believers, who acknowledge the grace of God in healing human brokenness. We support the spiritual nature of the family as one of God’s dynamic means to perpetuate the Christian faith. We believe that God blesses the gift of sexual intimacy only when it occurs within the boundaries of a publicly committed marriage between one man and one woman. We believe that life begins at conception. We value unchurched people of any race, sex and economic status, as well as all Christians who are seeking a more purpose driven experience of the faith. We will use every available Christ-honoring means to pursue, win, and disciple people for Jesus!

        Giving: We know God is a giver and we are created to find our purpose in His giving image. We know that God first gives to us the gift of salvation through faith and now calls us to give to grow His kingdom. We will grow people to willingly and graciously give of their time, talents and treasures. We know that gracious giving is a sign of maturing Christian life!”

      • 1.2.6
        Obie Holmen says:

        Mr. Daniels,

        It is not my “motive here in trying to tarnish Rejoice” as you suggest. But, I think it is a fair question to ask what is meant by “blurring the lines between the sacred and the secular”, as their website claims. I have merely pointed out links to other organizations or movements Rejoice claims to emulate.

      • 1.2.7
        David Ludescher says:

        Obie,

        Wouldn’t you classify your blog, Spirit of a Liberal, as blog that blurs the lines between the sacred and the secular?

      • 1.2.8
        Raymond Daniels says:

        Mr Holmen,

        As a Christian, aren’t we supposed to blur that line? Aren’t we supposed to let the light inside us shine through? I see nothing wrong with the statement.

      • 1.2.9
        Obie Holmen says:

        David,

        Thanks for the plug.

        Mr. Daniels,

        I believe Christians are called to be a blessing to others. I don’t believe that means converting others to my point of view, nor do I believe in a theocratic form of government.

      • 1.2.10
        Raymond Daniels says:

        Hr. Holmen….being the bible scholar that you are and a Christian, how do you reconcile your comment in 1.2.9 with Matthew 28: 18-20? I agree with you that we need to be a blessing to others, but we are also commanded to share the “Good News”. Being a blessing is not the end of it.

      • 1.2.11
        Obie Holmen says:

        Mr. Daniels,

        It would seem that you and I have radically different understandings of what it means to be Christian. Let it go at that. I have neither the time nor the inclination to debate the full ramifications of our differences here.

      • 1.2.12
        Raymond Daniels says:

        Fair enough and I will be praying for you. But also know that using your logic, you should let it go with TN and Rejoice! and you should not be making comments on their beliefs.

    • 1.3
      David Ludescher says:

      Obie,

      Perhaps you and Transformation Northfield have different ways to live your Christian faith. Not wrong -- just different, and we can leave it at that.

      P.S. Matthew 28:18-20 is the mission statement of St. Dominic Church in Northfield.

  • 2
    Raymond Daniels says:

    Obie-
    Two things. First, market place ministry I think refers to the place, “market”, and not prosperity gospel.

    Second, I sure I will get roasted for these comments, but the fact that this church may not subscribe to the idea that a gay clergy is acceptable. Many in the church see homosexuality is a sin.
    1 Corinthians 6:9-10 -- “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
    Romans 1:26-27 -- “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”
    Who you have a practicing addict lead a congregation? In fact Hosana also voted by an over whelming margin to leave the ELCA as well. Your comment about Rejoice! being one of only a few churches leaving is misleading. There are several churches that have left the ELCA over this issue. Here is a list as of 2009 that have left the ELCA over the issue….

    Albion Lutheran of St. James, American Lutheran in Long Prairie, Brooklyn Park Lutheran, Calvary Lutheran in Golden Valley, Christ the King Lutheran in Hutchinson, Faith Lutheran in Hutchinson, Faith Lutheran in Silver Creek, First Lutheran in Pipestone, Holy Cross Lutheran in Maple Lake, Redeemer Lutheran in Fridley, Redeemer Lutheran in Henderson, St. John Lutheran in Starbuck, Trinity Lutheran of Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, Urland Lutheran in Cannon Falls, and Wangen Prairie Lutheran in Cannon Falls.

    More recently, some 220 churches have left. In addition, the financial impact is pretty on the ELCA severe as well. Here is a direct quote…

    Walter Sundberg, professor of church history at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, believes “the financial fallout is devastating. One of my colleagues who is very well informed on the demographics and economy of the ELCA predicts that by June of this year, the denomination will know the financial fallout,” Sundberg said. “The fallout from the recession was bad: about a 12 percent loss in contributions to support operations. He thinks this could add another 40 percent in reduction.”

    In fact we both know that the way the ELCA voted on the subject was very under handed how it was passed. The deck was stacked, from the timing of the vote to the change in the bylaws. The vote was late at night after most people had left. The bylaws were changed just just for this one vote. The bylaws were changed from 2/3 majority to a simple majority. The liberal side of the ELCA hijacked the agenda.

    Let verbal assault begin. Just know that no matter how viscous people get, I respect and praise the Lord for each of your opinions.

    • 2.1
      Obie Holmen says:

      Mr. Daniels,

      You’re entitled to your opinion, but not your own facts. When you start spreading misinformation about the ELCA and the response to the Church Wide Assembly 2009, I have to call you on it.

      The ELCA has over 10,500 congregations in the US and to this point around 300 have departed. Hurtful, yes, but not quite the catastrophe you suggest. Yes, the ELCA finances are struggling, but that may be said of virtually every other charitable organization in these tough economic times.

      But, your most egregious misstatements pertain to the assembly itself, starting with the lie that “the vote was taken late at night after most people had left”. I was there, and the vote came in midafternoon with 96.7% of the registered voting members participating in the vote regarding gay clergy. These voting members were not selected by under-handed methods as you suggest but had been elected nationwide-first by local congregations, then by conferences, and finally by each of the 65 regional synods. By constitution, there are only three types of issues that require a 2/3 majority in the polity of the ELCA--constitutional amendments, social statements, and full communion agreements with other denominations. The human sexuality statement that was passed at the assembly is such a social statement, and it did pass by the requisite 2/3 majority. On the other hand, everything else, including ministry policies (not a by-law as you suggest) merely require a majority vote.

      Finally, this is neither the time or place to argue Scriptural interpretation. Suffice it to say, many Biblical scholars, myself included, would disagree with your judgmental interpretations.

      Disagree with the ELCA decision if you must, but don’t make up facts to fit your biases.

    • 2.2
      Phil Poyner says:

      Yes, I understand marketplace ministry to be “evangelism or other Christian activities that are targeted towards the secular workplace, as opposed to homes, churches, or specialized venues (e.g., crusades).” In other words, it would be someone evangelizing in the workplace rather than someone suggesting “the notion that God provides material prosperity for those he favors”, which is at the core of prosperity theology. I suppose you could do both, but the phrases “marketplace ministry” and “prosperity gospel” do describe different things.

    • 2.3
      Raymond Daniels says:

      Mr. Holmen (Spirit of Liberal)…The facts that I have are based upon what was told to me by one of the delegates that was at the conference as well. But can you please explain why the vote process was not consistent with prior votes? Can you explain how “Good Soil” and other special interest groups worked the crowd like a political convention? There are also several other issues as well, but we will save that for another day and time. In addition, you quote about only a few churches leaving is false as well. If we are going to honest about stats, you need to be honest as well. As of 1/6/11 686 congregations have taken the first vote to leave, of that 504 have passed. Of the 504, 353 have taken their second vote and 334 have passed, and that number is growing. I guess that is a little bigger than you want to admit. Quick question, of the remaining churches, how many have stopped financially supporting the ELCA and are only ELCA in name only? I suspect that number to be far greater than you want to admit as well. I do know for a fact that the ELCA church that my parent go to, did not leave the ELCA, but rather refused to finally support the ELCA. The church decided it was too much of a hassle to change everything to remove the ELCA. Maybe you’re right; this may not be the place to talk about how the ELCA was hijacked by a liberal agenda, but you need to be upfront with people on your agenda here and let them know that you are out spoken opponent to CORE and any church that is part of it.
      Back to your original post…
      You can’t take a shot at a churches theology and just leave it hanging.
      “The rampant homophobia of the International Transformation Network, aka Harvest Evanglism, is frightening. Contrary to every credible, scientific point of view, this group promotes the discredited “junk science” of reparative therapy. It is hardly coincidental that Clites’ Rejoice Church has been one the few in this part of the state to quickly secede from the ELCA following that denomination’s approval of gay clergy.”
      If you are going to slam it, then defend your interpretation. Show me the scripture to defend your stance. As for my judgmental stance, I quoted clear cut bible scripture. How is that judgmental? The time of being luke warm is over.

  • 3
    Jane Moline says:

    Raymond Daniels; You are basing your “interpretation” of scripture on interpreted scripture. The original verses do not state “homosexual.” (Although the promiscuous sex is right on.) When you can read them in their original language let me know.

  • 4
    Raymond Daniels says:

    Jane, Jane, Jane…

    For your reference.

    The main issue highlighted in recent debate over 1 Cor 6:9-11 concerns the correct way to render the Greek term arsenokoitai which occurs here. The NRSV reads, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites (arsenokoita), thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers— none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.’

    In this recent critical translation arsenokoitai is taken as a reference to those who practice homosexuality. Arsenokoitai poses a problem to the translator because this is its earliest known occurrence in Greek literature. Robin Scroggs has plausibly suggested that Paul created this new word by combining the two terms found in the Greek version of Lev 18:23 (LXX 18:22) and 20:13: arsen = “male,” and koite = “bed,” which translate the Hebrew for “lying with a male” (mishkav zakur; The New Testament and Homosexuality: Contextual Background for Contemporary Debate [Fortress, 1983] 106-8). With the likelihood that these Levitical prohibitions are echoed in 1 Cor 6:9, the NRSV is justified in translating the term as a reference to homoerotic intercourse, even if the English “sodomites” is somewhat archaic.

    How about

    Romans 1:26-27 – “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

  • 5
    Jack Hoschouer says:

    There are many facets of Christian belief. There are folks who believe that God speaks to them. I am personally skeptical of such statements, but God wants to personally communicate, I’m sure He can. If He has spoken to me, He didn’t identify Himself, but I do try to do what I think He would want.

    As a Christian, however, I do pray for God’s blessing on our city. I do not, in any way, believe that I have any insight in to His plans or intentions and am skeptical of those who do. I just ask Him to do what’s right for us.

    I do, however, believe that the TN folks want the best for Northfield. But I leave it to God to determine what that is.

    • 5.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      Jack, good to have you join the discussion here.

      And I’m really glad to see you say “I do not, in any way, believe that I have any insight in to His plans or intentions and am skeptical of those who do.”

      Part of my concern with TN is that I frequently hear/read variations of “God asked me/God told me…” When that gets applied to what one does as a public official, it can be very troublesome.

      Much better, IMHO, is to ask God for direction but then be open to the possibility that’s one ego or other factors might enter into getting it wrong.

      I have no doubt that everyone involved with TN wants the best for Northfield. And I hope that everyone involved with TN realizes that that’s true for me, too.

  • 6
    David Ludescher says:

    Griff,

    Your warning to Jack, Rhonda, Jeff, and Brett to be on the alert for elements of TN detrimental to the Northfield community sounds eerily similar to Clites’ warning to be aware of the principalities of darkness.

  • 7

    David L.,

    Is there anything done in the name of religion -- sorry! Christianity -- for which you won’t try to find justification? Seriously?

    Is theocratic-creep also groovy if it’s the right theocratic type? I’m assuming you don’t want city counselors and EDA committee members and school board members making their decisions based on their interpretation of the word of Allah or Buddha, right?

    Griff,

    Re: 5.1 I DO have doubts that _everyone_ in Transformation Northfield wants what’s best for Northfield. I think they want what’s best for Christian Northfield, but surely that is not best for a great many Northfielders who are not Christians or Northfielders who are perceived to be immoral in their eyes. I think their mission is religious control and conversion, not understanding or coexistence.

    • 7.1

      I should have written, “what’s best for _some parts of_ Christian Northfield,” as surely there are many Christians in Northfield who disagree with the philosophy behind this movement either in part or in total.

      Which leads me to this question, which I will address to Obie:

      Obie, why are other Christian and religious leaders in Northfield not responding to this issue, or are they responding but in other venues? If they are, what have you been hearing?

    • 7.2
      David Ludescher says:

      Brendon,

      The “elements of TN detrimental to Northfield” community struck me as a literary, atheistic parallel to “principalities of opposition”. (i.e. There are leaders within some factions of TN who are seeking to destroy OUR community.)

      To date, none of the officials “outed” by Griff have shown any propensity in their public capacity to be influenced by these “detrimental elements”. So, why the outing? Hasn’t TN already been examined by the Human Rights Commission for unspecified crimes?

  • 8
    David Koenig says:

    Griff, it seems to me that the question you are asking is about whether there should be concern about the ability of “a group”, which is a subset of a community, to impact the wider community in a large way.

    The answer is yes, groups can be very powerful. They can have both positive and negative impacts well beyond the sum of their parts.

    In another discussion on this site you have been reviewing the City’s response to the summer floods. Large groups self-organized and had a very positive impact on downtown buildings through sandbagging. Service groups like Rotary, Lions and others have wonderfully positive impacts through benevolent activities. Sometimes groups spontaneously form to throw out repressive regimes, like in our country, or more recently in Tunisia and Egypt.

    But, groups can also become a real threat. Jim Jones swayed a group to the point of killing a visiting congressman and ultimately themselves. Groups can also broadly identify those external to the group as wrong or evil and begin to take action on those beliefs, sometimes in massive ways.

    In short, groups can be very powerful, often far more so than you might project from what you initially observe of them.

    Much of the back and forth in the discussion above about what the Bible says or doesn’t say seems a distraction from the real issue.

    My belief is that God is powerful enough to sway people to do good things when good is intended, but clearly man has the ability to sway for ill as well.

    I am most suspicious when a group claims to be directed by God to do their work. A different take on the Third Commandment (the one about taking the Lord’s name in vain) can be that God doesn’t like the vanity of the person who uses God’s name to advance their own personal agenda.

    There was a very funny and revealing interview on the Daily Show last week where a preacher was interviewed regarding his efforts to remove the speaker of the Texas house from power. The speaker was Jewish and the pastor being interviewed asserted that their initiative was not based on his religion. But, when asked if it would matter whether the speaker had been a Muslim, he answered, “Yes”.

    So, I guess I would ask if Jews and Muslims can be part of Transformation Northfield and if the group will say that all are welcome here. Or, do they say that only a narrowly defined segment of those who believe in God are welcome. That would help me to decide if it is a group I should welcome or one that we should all warily and closely monitor.

    • 8.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      David,

      The HRC minutes from 2006 when TN visited say:

      Mr. Prichard expressly stated that they are not trying to force people to believe what they believe. He further stated that they do not advocate discrimination in hiring and firing and do not intend to create a hostile environment. Commissioners asked that the Northfield Transformation Team be aware of pressuring people, either overtly or covertly.

      A commissioner specifically stated that it is the Commission’s hope that employers belonging to the Northfield Transformation Team would not consciously or subconsciously make non-Christian employees feel uncomfortable or obligated to participate in their employer’s prayer groups in order to keep their jobs.

      A commissioner asked if non-Christians would be welcomed at their events. Mr. Prichard said that yes, they would, but the events are Christian, and he does not apologize for being Christian and having Christian events.

  • 9
    Paul Zorn says:

    David,

    In 1.3 you allude to a passage from Matthew as the mission statement at St Dominic’s:

    18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    Maybe it should be obvious, but what point relevant to TN are you making here?

    • 9.1
      David Ludescher says:

      Paul,

      I should have posted at 1.2.13 to follow up Raymond and Obie’s discussion about living out the Christian faith.

      Transformation Northfield’s desire to reach out into the Northfield community through prayer and community action is a worthy (human/Christian) goal. That goal is not unlike the mission of St. Dominic Church.

      Griff,

      I’ve attended a number of Transformation Northfield events, including the 2007 Prayer breakfast when Ed Silvoso was the speaker. Although he and TN are (for the most part) fundamental evangelical Christians with whom I have a number of theological differences, they seem to be far less dangerous to the community than “elements” outside of TN who are criticizing them.

      In my opinion, these kind of posts are potentially divisive for the community. Is it tolerance to tell us to, “… beware of the fundamental evangelical communities; there are elements connected to them that could be dangerous to the Northfield community.”?

      And, what is it with showing 5 TN-associated people and their pictures?

      • 9.1.1
        kiffi summa says:

        David: I do not know what is wrong with showing pictures of the 5 people since none of them are actively hiding their association with TN, and have public personas.

      • 9.1.2
        Paul Zorn says:

        David,

        You wrote in 9.1:

        In my opinion, these kind of posts are potentially divisive for the community. Is it tolerance to tell us to, “… beware of the fundamental evangelical communities; there are elements connected to them that could be dangerous to the Northfield community.”?

        Your use of quotation marks suggests that you’re directly quoting someone on this site warning us to “beware … “. I don’t find any such quote (admittedly, LGN search tools aren’t easy to use; maybe I missed something). In any event, and regardless of its provenance, I don’t think the quoted sentence fairly summarizes the present discussion, which has been more nuanced than the “beware” language suggests.

      • 9.1.3
        David Ludescher says:

        Paul,

        The quotations were intentionally intended to paraphrase a less nuanced, and less charitable, interpretation of the author’s words.

        However, I don’t think the more nuanced and more charitable interpretation fares much better.

    • 9.2
      Griff Wigley says:

      David L, what if a group of atheists/secular humanists formed in Northfield and, in addition to their desire to show Northfielders how they can lead happy and functional lives, they also had a hidden goal to get members elected to public office so as to stop the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at City Hall and in schools because of its "one nation under God" clause?

      Would you support my blogging about this, with photos of those leading the effort and who’ve gotten elected/appointed thus far?

      • 9.2.1
        David Ludescher says:

        Griff,

        I would guess that there is a certain percentage of people who believe that the atheists/secularists are organizing to remove God from the public sphere just as there appears to be a sizable percentage of people who seem believe that fundamental evangelical Christians are trying to put more God in the public sphere.

        We have read much about the evils of the latter on some fairly thin evidence. I would welcome a discussion along the lines brought up by Kevin Budig -- we liberals are not nearly as tolerant and liberal as we like to think.

      • 9.2.2
        Griff Wigley says:

        David, you’ll be happy to know I’m working on a blog post about the bias and intolerance of liberals.

      • 9.2.3
        David Ludescher says:

        Griff,

        Thank you. I am expecting to see some David Brooks and George Will sprinkled in there.

  • 10
    kiffi summa says:

    In response to your original question , Griff: i.e. “what is TN’s public agenda?” , and also to David Koenig’s question posed in his last paragraph of comment #8. i.e. do the actions of this group warrant any broader monitoring… I would have to venture an opinion.

    Let me state that I simply do not care for information about who is a Universalist Unitarian, who is a Catholic, or who doesn’t go to church at all… UNLESS… that information bears on the public process.

    And the only reason I see whether or not that information bears on the public process is this: If a group that has an opinion which is based on a religious belief , proceeds with using that belief to influence the public process in a way which disenfranchises others who do not agree with them, then it becomes important… and needless to say a public issue which should not favor a specific religious POV.

    To NOT deal with that process of influence is to allow what might be a minority opinion sway the majority, simply because the majority is uncomfortable with the discussion of the issue at all, based on the insertion/professing of the ‘rights’ of religious beliefs.

    It does not matter WHO belongs to Transformation Northfield, as much as it matters what, if any, changes have come to the public process, because of those members participation in the public realm of governance of the community.

    I would hope the discussion could continue along what I (maybe mistakenly) thought was the original concern.

    • 10.1
      David Ludescher says:

      Kiffi and David K.,

      “Monitoring”? By whom -- Homeland/Hometown Security or the Human Rights Commission? And, for what crime -- professing their beliefs or offending BoBos?

      • 10.1.1
        Phil Poyner says:

        Why, by the “principalities of darkness”, of course!!

      • 10.1.2
        David Ludescher says:

        Phil,

        And not by the “detrimental elements”?

      • 10.1.3
        David Koenig says:

        David…relax! Monitoring is just watching. Like I would watch anything in town that is having an impact. Come on, people are trying to ask some serious questions and have a serious discussion.

      • 10.1.4
        David Ludescher says:

        David K.,

        I am intrigued that you consider this to be a serious discussion. Every Sunday we have large groups of Christians getting together to pray and try try to live out their Christian faith, and no one is outing them. Many of them have very public agendas. Is TN somehow different?

    • 10.2
      Kathie Galotti says:

      Maybe Griff could print “I’m a principality of darkness” t-shirts or caps, and sell them as a fundraiser for LoGroNo. I’d buy one!

      • 10.2.1
        Raymond Daniels says:

        How is LoGroNo any different from TN? Does not the LoGroNo try to influence public officials and push agendas? See other posts related to Rejoice!. People from here are trying to force the city of Dundas to perform an EAW. In fact I seem to recall certain people trying to form a the LoGroNo church. I know that was tongue and cheek, but lets get seriuos here. The religeous percicution from some members here on this website is alarming. Seems to me that certain people won’t happy until Rejoice! and Pastor Clites leave town. Guess what guys, I imagine that ain’t going to happen.

        Kathie, I’m not sure if you are religeous, but I pretty sure the real “principalities” would love for you to advertise and I am sure they would welcome you to their rank with open arms. Be careful what you wish for.

      • 10.2.2
        Griff Wigley says:

        Raymond, yes, I most certainly try to “influence public officials and push agendas” here on LoGro.

        The point of my post is that 1) TN isn’t always being transparent about what their agenda is; and 2) some are using “God is directing us” as their rationale doing what they think is right.

  • 11
    Griff Wigley says:

    Nfld News letter to the editor last week from Bruce and Jan Roberts re: Rhonda Pownell titled Conscientious council member

    We have attended several community-sponsored meetings over this past year in which Rhonda Pownell has been one of the listener/presenters. We are very impressed with her respectful attention to our questions and comments and her knowledge of community issues. Rhonda is a conscientious council member who seems to understand the broad interests and needs of a wide spectrum of Northfield citizens.

     

    • 11.1
      kiffi summa says:

      This letter is a reprint of a campaign letter from last fall… Stephanie Henriksen was told by the News that it was an “inadvertent error”. (NFNews issue 2.09.2011)

      The author asked the News to print a correction; they did ( 2 .12. 2011), but did not say the author had requested it, nor did they mention the subject of the letter by name.

  • 12
    Daryl Bauer says:

    I’ve read “The Elk River Story”. Excellent read. I participate in Marketplace Ministry as a part of my business and who I am. I’m not out to run people over with my beliefs or whack people over the head with the Bible. I’m here to love and serve others and lead by example. That’s all Marketplace ministry really is Love and service set forth by the example of God found in Jesus Christ who by the way……think about this one…… is perfect theology.

    If someone asks about my faith, I share it with them. If not, then so be it. Some of you folks are threatened by the fringe. Perhaps because you too are are on the fringe. Albeit the opposite fringe. Focus on commonalities instead of differences. Life is better that way!

    My last observation I’ll make Griff is, why post pictures of those involved? It’s almost like you are posting mug shots of a crime. I struggle with that.

    • 12.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      Hey Daryl, good to have you chime in here.

      I’m 100% fine with your definition of Marketplace ministry: “Love and service set forth by the example of God found in Jesus Christ…”

      I was raised a Catholic and spent 7 years in the seminary — overall, a very good experience. Just ask my fellow seminarian, Father Denny Dempsey at St. Dominic here in Northfield!

      The Catholic teaching I received then was very similar to what you describe, ie, be guided by one’s faith as we “love and serve others and lead by example.”

      My concern with TN is that some people, some of the time, seem to use “guided by faith” as a rationale for them believing that they know what’s best because God’s directing them.

      Dan Clites writes that Jesus “is instructing his followers how to effectively evangelize a city.”

      A healthier and humbler approach would be for those followers who are public officials to say “I’m always asking/praying for God’s guidance, but I’m willing to admit that I might get it wrong sometimes, that my ego or lack of understanding can lead me astray.”

      Of course, many of my fellow atheists could benefit from a similar approach!

      • 12.1.1
        Daryl Bauer says:

        Griff wrote:
        “A healthier and humbler approach would be for those followers who are public officials to say “I’m always asking/praying for God’s guidance, but I’m willing to admit that I might get it wrong sometimes, that my ego or lack of understanding can lead me astray.””

        A good approach for all beleivers, non-beleivers and the maybes out there. Do any of mere humans know it all? Nope. We have faith in what we beleive though. This is a great discussion Griff! I love getting the juices flowing and being able to talk about it all. Thank you!

    • 12.2
      Griff Wigley says:

      Daryl, as for my posting the photos, part of my purpose in writing the piece was to point out that people with significant public influence in Northfield are affiliated with TN.

      I confirmed their involvement ahead of time with each of them. No one said they didn’t want to be named.

      Including their photos just adds impact to the piece.

    • 12.3
      Raymond Daniels says:

      Griff….maybe you should require everyone who posts here to post a photo of themselves. People here are trying to influence public opinion. Personally, I think you are singling out TN and Rejoice! because you have a beef with Pastor Clites. How has TN not been completely transparent? Did they not allow you to attend their meeting? Is not anyone who wants to attend, invited to join?

    • 12.4
      Griff Wigley says:

      You’re welcome, Daryl. I’m really glad you’re participating. And I’m really hopeful that this discussion can continue to be constructive.

  • 13
    john george says:

    Kiffi- You bring up an interesting point in post #10 with your opinion,

    “If a group that has an opinion which is based on a religious belief , proceeds with using that belief to influence the public process in a way which disenfranchises others who do not agree with them, then it becomes important…”

    If you remember back to the late ’70′s & early ’80′s, Jerry Falwell came up with his “Moral Majority.” The reason? He, and other Christians, felt disinfranchised by the government because of the support of free abortions and the rise of gay rights. It’s too bad he did not call it the Moral Minority. That would have been a more accurate discription of society and actually may have given it some legal traction.

    The whole Gay movement has reinterpreted the writings of the Apostle Paul to support their lifestyle. This is a religious view held by a minority that would discard 5000 years or so of Biblical interpretation. This is being done through legislation to disinfranchise those who disagree with them. This agenda is openly being proposed in the name of eradicating intolerance. Hmmmmmm.

    • 13.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      John,

      I have many Catholic friends who work hard politically to reverse Roe v Wade, inspired by their religious beliefs that abortion is morally wrong. I disagree with them but I support their use of legitimate democratic processes and tactics to achieve their ends.

      Likewise, I’m fine with any group trying to counter “the whole Gay movement” as you say, in the same way.

      The point of my post was to question whether TN is being transparent about all of its agenda.

      Is TN’s agenda partially “anti-gay movement”? Its connection to Ed Silvoso seems to indicate that it could be, but if so, no one locally is forthcoming about it.

      If you decided to run for School Board, I wouldn’t vote for you but I’d applaud your being forthcoming about the issue… to the point of buying you a beer. ;-)

      • 13.1.1
        john george says:

        Griff- I approach the whole pro-/anti-gay subject a little differently than you do, from what I think I am understanding in your comments. The question is not whether God is for “us” or for “them,” but rather, “Are we for God?” In other words, how are we obeying Him? None of us can hear or understand completely clearly. That is why we need each other in the body of Christ, to clarify what we are sensing. I will add this caveate. I will seek the counsel of fellow believers who have similar experiences with God as I have. I will not seek counsel from an avowed atheist or some other religion. That being said, I do still rely on my understanding of scripture and weight directions upon that basis.

        As far as TN being anti-gay, I cannot speak for the organization as a whole. I can only speak for myself, but I know I actively resist any legal efforts to supercede my interpretation of the scriptural definition of homosexuality. I do not believe a person can be changed through legislative efforts, either pro or con. Billy Graham’s message was always simple- men are born into sin; we cannot change ourselves; God can forgive those sins; and God can change a person’s life. All it takes is an agreement with what God says though the Bible. I think it is interesting that where a person stands on gay rights has become the litmus test for eligibility for public office.

      • 13.1.2
        Raymond Daniels says:

        John…you probably don’t agree me 100% or my methods of conveying my opinions, but I wanted to thank you for joining the conversation. You seem to convey my thoughts in a more thoughtful than I can.

      • 13.1.3
        john george says:

        Raymond- Thanks for the encouragement. Just remember Prob. 15:1.

  • 14
    john george says:

    Griff- Just a couple thoughts on the idea of some group trying to set up a theocratic government, such as what is happening in some Islamic countries. First, in my understanding of the scriptures, this would be contrary to the scriptural directives. We are urged to pray for those in authority so that we might lead quiet and peaceful lives. The Christian circles I am related to recognize the government as being an extension God’s authority in our society. To attempt to overthrow this government would be to rebel against God. If a government begins to exercise its power outside of God’s moral realm, such as falling into sexual moral decay and killing off children to satisfy pagan gods, then, according to historical record, these governments will be dealt with by God. This is oftentimes done from without rather than from within. It may be perilous for we believers caught in this time period, but there is a protection for believers.

    Secondly, there is going to be a theocratic government established at the second coming of Christ. There will be no doubt when this occurs, as it will be a world-wide event and, according to my understanding, will happen quite quickly. Since we have this promise, there is really no need for us to exert ourselves in some type of government takeover through infiltration. I will always support my fellow believers who sense a calling to fill governing positions and responsibilities, but it is only becasuse I trust them. I have no expectations upon them to bring about some Kingdom of God government system.

    • 14.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      John,

      I admire Jesus in part because he was the first to organize the poor and disenfranchised into a mass movement to try to topple a power structure, the Roman Empire.

      I think his example of leading others to challenge an unjust government is the exact opposite of your belief, ie, “there is really no need for us to exert ourselves in some type of government takeover.”

      So if TN is trying to engineer a gov’t takeover, I say ‘go for it.’ It’ll be up to others who have a different vision for what local gov’t should be doing to counter that.

  • 15
    john george says:

    Griff- Where on earth did you get this doctrine?-

    “I admire Jesus in part because he was the first to organize the poor and disenfranchised into a mass movement to try to topple a power structure, the Roman Empire.”

    I challenge you to show me any place in scripture where Jesus did this. In my scripture, Jesus says to carry the soldier’s bag an extra mile. He also says to turn the other cheek. In all the Gospels, Jesus admonishments were against the Pharisees, the Jewish religious leaders of the day, not against the Romans. Take a look at Luke 18:9-11 as one example.

    I think I can confidently say that this is not an agenda of TN.

    • 15.1
      Daryl Bauer says:

      Example after example will show you that Jesus wasn’t interested in the politics of the day. He used the politics of the day however to tell who he was, through the parables he shared. Many “religious” folks today might still be contrued as Pharisees. Looks religious, acts religious. Of course those people have the kingdom of heaven right? Who knows? Maybe they are lacking faith! On the other hand you have the Gentiles (many of which are Roman decent). This Roman gentile tax collector who did have faith and acknowledged he was a sinner, returned home justified before God. Matt. 8:5 is another good read. Gentiles up to this point in history had no chance of heaven. Or so the Jews thought. The Roman Gentiles were opressive to the Jews! In the Jews mind how in the world could THE SAVIOR come and not want to topple the Roman power structure? In Matt 8 Jesus rewards the Roman Soldier because of his faith. It wasn’t Jesus going after the Romans, it was the Jews going after the Romans! They were so hell bent on justice they missed the Savior who was right there in front of them!

      We all get that way don’t we? We want justice so bad sometimes that we fail to see whats best for us standing right before our eyes. Faith and Love. Who can argue about that? Sorry about the length of my post.

      • 15.1.1
        john george says:

        Daryl- A couple sobering passages that come to mind are Matthew 25:31-46; James 1:22-25; and James 2:18-21. This is Marketplace Ministry at its finest.

      • 15.1.2

        John G? James 2:18-21? When I Google that I get something about God creating a help mate for man. Or else something about servants being servile to their masters. I’m confused and the unlinked reference leaves me even more so. See NYTimes.

      • 15.1.3
        David Ludescher says:

        Bruce,

        You have a Google search problem. Try again and include the book chapter:verse. I would link them, but I don’t know how.

      • 15.1.4
        Phil Poyner says:

        James 2:18-21….

        18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

        19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

        20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

        21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

  • 16
    kiffi summa says:

    Griff: Since you say that the people you pictures had no problem being identified with TN, could you ask them:

    1. How they perceive TN ‘s process in Northfield, i.e., how is it implemented?

    2. How they came to be involved in the local gov’t arenas in which they are active?

    3. What are specific goals of TN, and how are they to be achieved?

    In other words, anything that would contribute to the focus of the thread you started. It would be productive to hear from the participants themselves.

    I think there has been so much discussion on previous threads of Bible text interpretation, positions on gay lifestyles… as just two examples… that this thread will be derailed as a new subject if the old issues are persistently revisited.

    • 16.1
      David Ludescher says:

      Kiffi,

      For what purpose? Go to meeting like Griff did.

      • 16.1.1
        kiffi summa says:

        David L.: I would like to hear first-hand from Rhonda why she wanted to be on the EDA ; I may be misinformed, but I think as a social work graduate of St, Olaf, and a home educator, she does not have a businss background… so why was that an interest for her… and why did the Mayor think that was a good appointment for an Economic Development group.

        I would be more interested to hear from the person, David; not the group.

        Frankly, the group[ (TN) speaks in such vagaries that it is not… at least so far…informative, IMO.

      • 16.1.2
        David Ludescher says:

        Kiffi,

        Then go talk to Rhonda. When you do, let me know how you think the detrimental elements (DE’s)of Klinzing (DE #1), Clites (DE #2) and Silvoso (DE #3) have affected her.

    • 16.2
      john george says:

      Kiffi- Griff did raise his concern about TN’s position on Gays in section 3 of his original post, so I think that discussion is pertinent here. As I opined in post 13.1.1,
      “I think it is interesting that where a person stands on gay rights has become the litmus test for eligibility for public office.”
      And I might add, community involvement in general.

  • 17
    Steph Henriksen says:

    I agree, Kiffi. Let’s get back to the topic and get input from those mentioned.

    • 17.1
      David Ludescher says:

      Stephanie,

      Remind me again what the topic is.

      • 17.1.1
        Raymond Daniels says:

        The topic is/was to single out TN and Rejoice! and imply they have some secret agenda to take over Northfield. Then Obie Holmen, a politcal activist for the ELCA, jumped in and tried to slander Rejoice!.

      • 17.1.2
        Obie Holmen says:

        Mr. Daniels,

        Accusing me of slander is more than a little over the top. Frankly, as a self-appointed spokesman for Rejoice, you are making the case against Rejoice.

      • 17.1.3
        Raymond Daniels says:

        I am not a spokesman for Rejoice!. In fact I don’t even attend that Church. Let us not forget, you were the first person to post here claiming that Rejoice is the preaching “prosperity gospel”, which they clearing don’t. Post #1. Then you attacked Pastor Clites. Post #1 Then you tried to imply that Rejoice! has a hidden agenda. Post 1.2.6 If you can’t take the heat, please step out of the kitchen.

      • 17.1.4
        Obie Holmen says:

        A few days ago, when I suggested that we should simply agree to disagree, you responded by suggesting you would pray for me. But I guess you couldn’t let it go. In your prayers, did God tell you to accuse me of slander?

        I suggest you cool your intemperate tongue.

      • 17.1.5
        john george says:

        David- I knew Griff had stated his purpose somewhere, and I finally found it in (rats! lost the post number, but here is the quote)-
        “The point of my post was to question whether TN is being transparent about all of its agenda.”
        Is there a hidden agenda? If there is, it is hidden from TN, also. Do we have blind spots? You bet! I believe pulic discourse is a good vehicle to get blind spots out and deal with them. The mere fact that we have gotten enough attention to warrant this thread discussion suggests to me that we are having the desired effect from our efforts. One of my good friends in TN told me she was really excited to have people keep a eye on us. Now, it is up to us to demonstrate James 2:18-21.

        I have one observation that we Transformation members need to be aware of, and that is how to speak about who we are and what we are about. We are each accustomed to speaking in our own Christianese that,IMO, we forget that others not in our group don’t understand the terms we use.

      • 17.1.6
        David Ludescher says:

        John,

        So what is TN’s agenda (in secular and/or atheist) language? Perhaps you could address the charges of unbridled self-assurance, the prosperity gospel, and rampant homophobia (Obie -- post #1).

      • 17.1.7
        john george says:

        David- That is a fair enough request. First, let me state that I have no official position in TN and I am not their official mouthpiece. The opinions I have expressed here are mine and I am not being scripted. I have known the leadership people of TN for years and have had a close relationship with most of them. Anything I say is open to their scrutiny and correction as they might see fit.

        1) Our “agenda” (I would call it vision) is to see the Body of Christ, made up of the members of many churches and fellowships, begin to cooperate together as Jesus would have us do. This is the Transfomation that we believe needs to happen. It is a change from individual actions (MY ministry, church, event, whatever) to corporate cooperation (OUR ministry, the Church of Jesus responding in unity instead of trying to one-up eachother), and it begins with changing (transforming) our own patterns of thinking. We believe that as we begin to take down the walls between us, then we also take down the walls that have driven people away from really knowing Jesus.

        2) Unbridled self-assurance. Hmmm. I’m not exactly sure what this means. I don’t have any confidence in my own abilities to do ANYTHING for God. I do know that God has given me direction and used me in times past to speak to someone or do something for them. My reaction to being used in this way is that it puts me on the same plane as Balaam’s donkey. See Numbers 22:24-32. I am always amused by this section of scripture, but there is serious precedent here as to how any of us can be deceived. That is why I contend that we need one another in the Body to test what we think we hear.

        3) The prosperity gospel, I believe, is a distraction to the true purposes of God for a person, city, or nation. I base this on I Timothy 6:5-7 and James 4:12-16. It is not a sin to be poor or rich, nor is an indicator of either our stance or condition before God. We just need to be mindful of our Heavenly Father who loves and takes care of us. And, those who do have access to finances need to guard their hearts against greed and closing their hearts against helping people in true need.

        4)The whole concept of “homophobia” is a misnomer, IMO. Webster defines a phobia as “: an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.” I have no fear of Gay people. I am a child of the King and Creator of the universe and joint heir with Jesus, for crying out in the night! Why should I fear any man? Man can only take my physical life at the worst, but no one can take my relationship with Jesus from me. How are Gay people different form me, anyway? If they are cut, they bleed. If they suffer loss, they grieve. They can be happy or sad or do anything that I can do. None of them has waited in ambush for me or any of my family. None of them has destroyed any of my property or threatened me in any way. Why should I fear them? Yet many of the Gay community has suffered all these things at the hands of misguided people who call themselves “believers.” Perhaps a word like “heterophobia” would be a realistic term to describe what many of them live under. That being said, I see the difference between, say, Obie and myself as being what gender to which we are attracted. According to my inderstanding of scripture, this different attraction is something God calls sin. IF God is really against this type of attraction, and IF this condition can be likened to race or skin color, then God would indeed be unjust, condemning something that cannot be changed. IF, on the other hand, this attraction is a sin, such as fear, or unbelief, or adultery (all things in the same list), then there is hope, because God has provided a propitiation for all sin in Jesus Christ. And, according to I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Will a “redeemed” person have a struggle with temptation in this area of his life? Most likely, just as any person adicted to any stimulant must be on the guard against that to which he/she opens him/herself. That is why I have a problem with the term “homophobia”, and I don’t see that it applies to any of my interpretation of scripture.

        There. That is the best I could do. Any of you fellow believers please test my words and feel free to add any corrections or clarifications that you feel are necessary.

      • 17.1.8
        Daryl Bauer says:

        John-
        You are right on the money as far as I’m concerned. Nice!

      • 17.1.9
        Obie Holmen says:

        John,

        Let me respond to your four points.

        1) TN is broader than Rejoice, but this congregation seems to be at the center. Thus, your first point about a spirit of cooperation between area churches rings hollow. There are four vibrant ELCA congregations in town and more in Faribault and other nearby communities. Yet, when Rejoice belonged to the ELCA, it resisted cooperation with these others, and Rejoice’s pastor constantly found excuses for not attending monthly conferences. While your stated vision of cooperation is laudable, the reality for Rejoice has been self-imposed isolation and withdrawal (note that Rejoice has formally withdrawn from the ELCA) rather than cooperation.

        2) You used my terminology “unbridled self-assurance” so let me elaborate on my meaning. TN has every right to seek to exert influence locally as does any other group, secular or religious. But, where religious groups sometimes step over the line is when they equate their agenda with God’s agenda. “We speak for God.” “God is on our side.” Whether TN succumbs to that temptation or not, that is the fear or suspicion. Secondly, there is also concern when religious groups seek to impose a religious precept into public policy. What would the reaction be if a group of Roman Catholics lobbied to impose meatless Fridays as a municipal ordinance applicable to local eateries? Many religious scholars suggest that the Levitical abominations, which serve as the bedrock for conservative religious attitudes toward same gender relationships, are religious rather than universal ethical standards. Bottom line for many--don’t impose your religious views on me.

        3) We are in agreement that the so-called “prosperity gospel” is a perversion of essential Christian doctrine. You and others of TN consistently maintain that your motives are not financial self-enhancement, and I take you at your word. However, eyebrows are raised when Rejoice openly acknowledges that the experience of transformation Elk River is their model. Examination of this Elk River model becomes relevant and alarming.

        4) Perhaps “homophobia” is too loaded a term to be useful, and it distracts from the crucial debate, which is whether TN seeks to impose its conservative, religious attitude towards gays and homosexuality into local public policy. I understand that a TN member has successfully obtained an appointment to the Human Rights Commission, the very agency that is charged with enforcing and adjudicating claims of discrimination.

        Perhaps this is merely a “guilt by association” argument, but Ed Silvoso and Harvest Evangelism, the international point of contact for TN, has a frightening record vis a vis gays. In Griff’s orginal post, he included a video of Silvoso suggesting demon possession and promoting reparative therapy (pray the gay away), which has been wholly discredited by the American scientific community. Silvoso’s group was also heavily involved in discussions about transformation ministries with the very same Ugandan governmental leaders responsible for promoting the Draconian “kill the gay” legislation in that country.

        Finally, not that it matters, but I am a “straight ally”, and I am not gay as you assume.

      • 17.1.10
        john george says:

        Obie- Thank you for your response. My four points are responses to David L.’s four points he brought up in post 17.1.6, and I am still awaiting his response. First of all, I appologize for my assumption that you are Gay. I do not try to use science to prove or refute any particular physical characteristics of a person who professes to be Gay, because, in this case, I do not believe science has the emperical evidence to do so. I am merely trying to clarify my interpretation of the scriptures as I undertand them. I do not consider the “science” of homosexuality as a settled study, so what I have read about it so far does not disuade me from my convictions. You are concerned about TN “imposing” their conservative views upon Northfield. I am concernede about your GLBT “imposing” their liberal views upon TN. It appears that each of us considers the other’s perspective as suspect and regressive, so we may as well leave it at that.

        I did preface my remarks that I am not an official spokesperon for TN, or Rejoice!, for that matter. I also do not consider the ELCA Synod as having any authority in directing my nor anyone else’s participation in Transformation Ministries. I was asked to leave that organization years ago, and, not meaning any disrespect, I have no desire to be associated with it in this particular case. Your opinion of the cooperation between churches seems to require this. Transformation Ministries is not an ecumenical movement (man centered) by any means. I would suggest considering Gamaliel’s counsel in Acts 5:34-35.

      • 17.1.11
        Paul Zorn says:

        John,

        Thanks for helping us understand where TN is coming from.

        A few quick notes on some of your points. First, you say:

        … I am merely trying to clarify my interpretation of the scriptures as I understand them. I do not consider the “science” of homosexuality as a settled study, so what I have read about it so far does not dissuade me from my convictions.

        IMO you’re saying two very different things here. On the first part, about interpreting religious texts for yourself, more power to you (and, of course, to others who interpret the same texts otherwise). Your second point, about science, is less clear to me. Could any imaginable scientific evidence indeed “dissuade” you from your convictions? What would it take?

        Second, you say this (Obie is “you”, I think):

        You are concerned about TN “imposing” their conservative views upon Northfield. I am concerned about your GLBT “imposing” their liberal views upon TN. …

        Here you lose me. “Your GLBT” is not a person or organization, and so can’t have views, liberal or not. If by “your GLBT” you mean something like “GLBT people and allies” then your assertion makes grammatical sense.

        But IMO you still get the main issue wrong. It’s fine, and not “imposing”, for any person or group (TN, “your GLBT”, … ) to try to persuade any other person or group of anything. Arguments fueled by religion, atheism, secular humanism, Christian socialism, anarcho-syndicalist collectivism, evolutionism, creationism, and you-name-it-ism are all equally allowed — though (let’s hope) unequally likely to prevail.

        “Imposing” might come into it if a group tries to turn public policy or divert public resources to its own ends. This might happen if, say, city business were conducted at Christian prayer breakfasts, or if an atheist cabal distributed Das Kapital to schoolchildren at public expense. Or a liberal Christian group might take the brother’s-keeper parable as a mandate for more generous tax-supported welfare policies — in some sense “imposing” this reading on other devout citizens with different views on alms-giving.

        I don’t know whether TN has any specific public policy agenda. If so, they have every right to argue for it, as others may argue against it. If everyone argues forthrightly, with nothing to hide, we’ll be fine.

      • 17.1.12
        john george says:

        Paul- Thanks for responding. Yes, the “you” in my post refers to Obie, as my whole post 17.1.10 is a response to his comments. As far as the comment about the “science” of homosexuality, this is in direct respone to this comment in Obie’s post,
        “…which has been wholly discredited by the American scientific community.”
        IF, say, I was arguing against the effects of gravity from some far fetched religious standpoint, there is emperical evidence that could disuade me from my convictions. That evidence is just not there in regards to homosexuality.

        As far as my use of GLBT, I am using it as a collective term to define all those involved in advancing Gay rights, whatever the name of their particular organization.

        In response to your comment,
        “…“Imposing” might come into it if a group tries to turn public policy or divert public resources to its own ends.”
        don’t look now, but this is exactly what is happening in our government and some main-line churches, IMO.

        As far as clarifying a public policy for TN, I think this blog post is a very good opportunity to do just that, and that is what I am hoping to do. Transformation Ministries has been around for some time, so there is a familiarity with it in the circles in which I move. That is not the case for everyone else in Northfield, so I really appreciate Griff bringing it up. Rather than toot our own horn, we can respond to specific questions (many that we might not have thought of on our own) and hopefully bring a greater unserstanding of our purposes. We are not naive enough to think that everyone will agree, but our intent is to be as open about ourselves as possible.

  • 18
    Josh Dale says:

    quote from the article:

    “3. LGBT issues

    For TN to be connected to Ed Silvoso and his organization is ominous.

    Any message, direct or indirect, that homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals are somehow under the influence of demonic forces, is not only hurtful and destructive but dangerous. It can have a corrosive effect on the morale of LGBT employees who work for the city and school district.

    And for any LGBT youth in our schools who are struggling to come to terms with their sexual identity, it can exacerbate their pain, lead to depression, or worse.

    It concerns me that some teachers and coaches who are members of TN might convey this belief to the youth they work with. And it concerns me that some of the youth involved with TN, who are urged to live their calling in the marketplace of school, could fall into demonizing other youth.”

    There is a new, albeit small, grassroots group I started on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Northfield-LGBT-Society/122365411170351?ref=ts It’s small but I my hope is that Northfield’s LGBT community will use this portal as a way to connect and make ourselves more visible as a vital and diverse part of Northfield as a whole, and possibly help reduce the perceptions of “LGBT are Demonizing” and show that we are just as loving, just as faithful and give just as much back to the community.

  • 19
    Griff Wigley says:

    Obie, who on the HRC is a TN member? You wrote in comment #17.1.9:

    I understand that a TN member has successfully obtained an appointment to the Human Rights Commission, the very agency that is charged with enforcing and adjudicating claims of discrimination.

    The HRC webpage list these members:

    DD Davison

    Judy Dirks

    Corinne Smith

    Dick Kleber (chair)

    Gail Noren

    Amy Goerwitz

    Staff Liaison: Bill Olsen

  • 20
    David Ludescher says:

    Obie,

    On your 4 points:

    1. The dispute between ELCA and Rejoice, or even Rejoice’s theology has nothing to do with TN.

    2. The purpose of the First Amendment’s clause on free exercise of religion is to allow the TN’s, Rejoice, ELCA’s, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and atheists to lobby and influence governmental processes, policies, and procedures. The idea that religious groups or individuals should keep their opinions to themselves (and out of the public sector) whereas atheists, secularists, and humanists are free to foist their own (a)religious beliefs on the public is a common misunderstanding of recent politics. The First Amendment restrains the power of government, not the power of religions. We need look no further than the Holocaust to see the dangers of excluding and discriminating on the basis of religious beliefs.

    3. Even if TN had a “prosperity gospel” that fact would have nothing to do with public participation. So what if they believe that God wants them to get rich by following his Law?

    4. The “rampant homophobia” charge is an invention. At best, it is guilt as association.

    I don’t understand the paranoia associated with the “hidden agenda” of TN. You give (us) liberals a bad name. We are supposed to be the open-minded, understanding, big tent people. When and how did we become so intolerant?

    • 20.1
      Obie Holmen says:

      David,

      Your basis premise is wrong, or at least overstated. You ignore my preliminary comment: “TN has every right to seek to exert influence locally as does any other group, secular or religious.”

      No one is suggesting TN doesn’t have the right to its public voice, but having the right doesn’t preclude public scrutiny or criticism. Criticism of what some believe to be anti-gay attitudes that are out of step with the law is hardly paranoia.

    • 20.2
      David Ludescher says:

      Obie,

      The paranoia comes in because TN doesn’t have a public voice on homosexuality. You and Griff made up that part.

    • 20.3
      Griff Wigley says:

      David, true, “TN doesn’t have a public voice on homosexuality.” But that was why I asked the question in my blog post headline: What is TN’s public agenda?

      TN leaders don’t state the group’s position on homosexuality publicly. Dan Clites is a big fan of Ed Silvoso who has stated his beliefs about homosexuality and demons. Combine that with Clites’ belief that he knows what God is telling he and other TN members to do and it makes it troubling.

      So I guess the question now is, what could TN’s leaders/members do to help this situation?

    • 20.4
      David Ludescher says:

      Griff,

      I think it is fairly clear that TN does NOT have a public agenda. It is a Northfield non-denominational (Christian) (First Amendment protected) assembly of people trying to live out their faith.

      It seems to me that the solution to this “troubling situation” is for us liberals to become more tolerant of those who are different.

  • 21
    Griff Wigley says:

    James Prichard, pastor of City Light Church in Northfield, has a guest column in this weekend’s Nfld News titled Whatever your opinions, pray for the welfare of our city

    It seems to me that God commands His people to pray for their city officials and for the good of their city, but He does not direct them to speak their opinions. Now, I love living in a democracy. “We the People” is a marvelous and perhaps even sacred political development. I encourage everyone to vote and participate. But as I read the Scriptures, voicing one’s opinion is optional while praying is mandatory. I think this means that our prayers are more important to the welfare of our city than are our opinions.

    If projections prove true, the economic and social challenges that our city and schools face are only going to intensify. Our officials are going to have some difficult decisions to make and they are going to need wisdom. Our opinions might help them, but I believe that our prayers will help them. So speak up if you wish, but be certain to pray.

  • 22
    Griff Wigley says:

    John George wrote in comment #17.1.12

    As far as clarifying a public policy for TN, I think this blog post is a very good opportunity to do just that, and that is what I am hoping to do. Transformation Ministries has been around for some time, so there is a familiarity with it in the circles in which I move. That is not the case for everyone else in Northfield, so I really appreciate Griff bringing it up. Rather than toot our own horn, we can respond to specific questions (many that we might not have thought of on our own) and hopefully bring a greater understanding of our purposes. We are not naive enough to think that everyone will agree, but our intent is to be as open about ourselves as possible.

    John, I’m pulling this very helpful paragraph out of your comment because I think it could help focus the discussion now.

  • 23
    john george says:

    Griff- I keep looking but I haven’t seen any questions yet. I KNOW I did not do that thorough of a job explaining things.

  • 24
    Griff Wigley says:

    John, how do you and other members of TN explain the problems that occur after a city has been ‘evangelized’?

    Clites and Silvoso laud Elk River’s transformation. But what about the collapse of Elk River’s Riverview Bank, the epitome of a “kingdom company”?

    Or what about the ugly broom stick hazing among Elk River high school football players that occurred over two years?

    Great things and horrible things have been happening in Northfield for 150 years and that pattern is likely to continue.

    It seems to me more than a little disingenuous to attribute the good things that happen in a city after being evangelized to the effectiveness of Transformation but to ignore the bad stuff.

    Clites set a really bad example re: the issue of moving the graves by attributing the difficulties with those opposing him to the devil. Would he say the same about the Elk River Riverview Bank and the football team? What do you say?

    • 24.1
      David Henson says:

      Many studies show that despite greater material wealth people are less happy today than in the 1950s. Many studies also show that “believers” are happier than “unbelievers.” I cannot offer the specific studies without some research but I think readily available evidence such as school shootings etc. would seem to make the point obvious. I have never been to any of the meetings under discussion but I think many people see an association between materialism, “the markets” and moral decay. The federal courts have undermined the democratic process as a tool to rein amoral and unhealthy activities (like promoting high risk sexual activity as fun and wholesome to sell soap and beer). Christian groups likely sense that “paternalism” has been smeared, the democratic process usurped and society is drifting around wildly with no moral anchor. But, it turns out, many business people agree on the need for a stronger moral foundation to our lives (a moral foundation in keeping with moralities evolved over 1000s of years – as opposed to those created yesterday). So they are meeting to use the marketplace to emphasize positive values for the community – effectively the kind of social pressure that existed in earlier times. This would be my take as an observer with no participatory knowledge.

    • 24.2
      David Ludescher says:

      Griff,

      G.K. Chesterton has these answers:

      “These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.”

      and

      “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found to be wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

      • 24.2.1
        john george says:

        David- Very true words. Thank you for sharing them.

      • 24.2.2
        Paul Zorn says:

        David L,

        Well done quoting the ever-quotable Christian apologist G. K. Chesterton. FWIW, I like the second quote; the first strikes me as whiny. Did Chesterton really see Christians as oppressed in his society? Do you?

        Here’s another Chesterton quote, with the same invert-a-cliche style:

        “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”

        BTW, I recommend Chesterton’s Father Brown detective stories—FB is clever but methodical and self-effacing, non-Sherlock-Holmesian way.

      • 24.2.3
        David Ludescher says:

        Paul,

        I don’t see Christians as oppressed, so much as Christian thought being marginalized, trivialized, and mocked in an effort to create a multicultural creed. (A creed that Christians are expected to praise on par with, or even above their own.)

        As an example, we now have a national holiday (holy-day), Martin Luther King Day, in which we honor the man, but not the God from whom he got all of his wisdom, courage, and strength.

      • 24.2.4
        Paul Zorn says:

        David,

        It’s hard to disagree with any complaint about the volume and coarseness of public discourse on religion — though I’d pin some blame on religionists, not just their adversaries.

        But where you lose me in 24.2.3 concerns any “actor” you see as doing the bad things you deplore. What person or group or entity do you see as “expecting” Christians to do distasteful things? And who is behind the “effort” to create a “multicultural creed”?

        Does this entity also prevent Christians from honoring MLK’s God, along with the man? If your bad actor is government, should any laws be made or changed?

      • 24.2.5
        David Ludescher says:

        Paul,

        I can’t say that I understand the phenomenon.

        I attended one Martin Luther King, Jr. event when God was not mentioned one time. I couldn’t help but think that if MLK been alive he would have smashed the “golden calf”, castigated his worshippers, and sent them all to church. It was Kafka-esque to attend a ceremony in honor of a Christian preacher who gave his life in service of his God, and hear no mention of God.

        I suppose a literalist would conclude that it is Satan himself who has convinced us that we can live without a God, that we can build institutions of justice so perfect that we have no need for God -- that we can survive by worshipping a golden calf.

        For my own part, I find that far too often important human and ethical questions are avoided by the claims (mostly by the politically liberal) that the question is strictly a religious question -- abortion being the most obvious issue. Most religions have profound thoughts, beliefs, and creeds based upon hundreds and thousands of years of human experience. These deserve a place in the dialogue of humanity’s future.

    • 24.3
      john george says:

      Griff- I’m not sure you understand the depth of the battle that is being waged. You speak of the Devil as if he is some imaginary fairy tale character and has no influence on the matters of this world or the people who dwell in it. Peter refered to Satan as a roaring lion, searching about for whom he might devour (see I Peter 5:8). Since we believers are in a battle, we need to keep in mind whom we are battling against. We are not battling other humans to see the Kingdom of God advanced. We are battling God’s own arch enemy, Satan. He does use people to carry out his attacks in the physical (as opposed to spiritual) realm. If we keep this understanding, we, as Christians, should not lash out at our fellow humans for their involvement in opposing the things of God. It seems that you are not willing to accept this idea, so I can only attribute this to you just not believing or understanding the spiritual realm and how it affects the physical realm.

      As far as the bank failure in Elk River, I have no details of any of its dealings. From what I understand of the whole banking debacle, it appears that there is a ripple effect (still) going through the whole industry because of the integration of the industry. This is a very simplistic example, and, of course, not thorough in every analogy, but I liken it to building a building near a river. Suppose the land you build on has never flooded? From historical data, it would seem reasonable to build the building, since there has never been a flood there. Then, along comes a year like last year that defies historical data, and the building is destroyed in the flood. Could this have been prevented? Yes, if it was built on higher ground. Was there any indication not to build it? Not necessarily. Could there have been warnings against building it, as there were some economists warning of the banking failure? Possibly. But with no historical data to support the naysayers, was it unwise to take the risk to build? Only history proves that decision. I see the same thing happening in our economy. There are forces affecting our economy that have never affected it like this in the past, so what precedent can a person draw from to see it coming? See NAS:Ecclesiastes{9:11} I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all.
      2002 (C) Bible. Because we live in a fallen world, there will be effects of this condition that can overtake any of us. But, with God, there is the possibility of redemption.

      As far as the high school hazing, none of us parents can gaurentee that our children will automatically inherit the principles that we have embraced. Our children are their own moral agents. We must not be passive in our expectations of them, but must teach them the moral way of God with deligence. Just as we each need redemption, so do each of them. The whole concept of Christianity is not what we don’t do wrongly, but rather what we allow God to redeem in our lives.

      You make a true statement here:

      “Great things and horrible things have been happening in Northfield for 150 years and that pattern is likely to continue.”

      There has most likely been people praying for these things for all 150 or more of those years. TN’s endeavor is to see those prayers continue and be done openly by all believers and without shame. There will come a day when this may not be possible under threat of death. We hope to continue openly until that time.

      • 24.3.1
        Paul Zorn says:

        John,

        You say:

        We are battling God’s own arch enemy, Satan. He does use people to carry out his attacks in the physical (as opposed to spiritual) realm. … [W]e, as Christians, should not lash out at our fellow humans for their involvement in opposing the things of God.

        I don’t think I share your view of evil-embodied-as-Satan, but would like to understand it better. Since you invited questions, here are a couple.

        First, how literally do you understand the idea of Satan? Seems to me there’s a wide range possible, from (at one extreme) just a name for the presence of evil in the world; to (the other extreme) an individual person or person-like being plotting all sorts of mayhem. There’s a lot of room in that continuum. Does Satan have gender, for instance?

        Second, is there a way, in the system you describe, for Christians to know whether, in a given dispute or altercation, Satan actually has a dog in the fight? Is it clear to *you*, John, that Satan was involved in the Rejoice! church dispute?
        And when Satan does get involved in a dispute, can Christians reliably tell which side he/she/it is on?

      • 24.3.2
        john george says:

        Paul- Those are good questions. 1) My understanding of the person of Satan comes out of Isaiah 14. Also, in the New Testament, there are some 36 references to Satan, many made by Jesus. I do believe in a real being, not just some dark side of the force. If you want to call this extreme, then that is ok. We both have to answer for what we have believed in that day.

        2) Just because things go wrong, this does not mean that Satan had a “dog in the fight.” I believe that , since I have a heacvenly Father who cares for me and desires to be involved in my life, that He will show me where the opposition lies. It may be Satanic or my own stupidity or just the perversity of inanimate objects. I believe that the success or failure of a business, for example, really has no bearing on whether the owner had a correct impression of God’s direction for his life. See James 4:13-17. There is protection in having relationship within the body with other beliers who can help you test what you are sensing. I have used this formula throughout my Christian life, and it seems to work. First, the direction needs to register with my own senses. Second, it needs to align with what scriptire says (not violate a moral directive), and thirdly, the timing needs to be right.

      • 24.3.3
        Paul Zorn says:

        John,

        Thanks for your thoughts. In case of any misunderstanding: by “extreme” I refer only to two ends of a continuum — nothing pejorative or “extremist” suggested.

      • 24.3.4
        David Ludescher says:

        Paul,

        In order to properly understand the “Rejoice! debate”, it is important to understand Rejoice!’s conception of the principalities of opposition. It strikes me that Clites was using the reference in much the same manner Jesus used the reference when he called Peter Satan (Matthew 16:23).

        If a person tries to understand TN’s “public agenda” in current vogue systems of thought (i.e. religious organizations are trying to take over the political processes) the inevitable result is not only failure, but intolerance and perhaps even paranoia.

      • 24.3.5
        Paul Zorn says:

        David,

        You suggest:

        It strikes me that Clites was using the reference in much the same manner Jesus used the reference when he called Peter Satan (Matthew 16:23).

        You may be right; I have no idea. If you are right, then the Clites reference to “principalities” smacks even more of arrogance and self-righteousness. Jesus himself, Christians believe, could detect the hand of Satan even in a true friend, like Peter. Can Pastor Clites do the same?

      • 24.3.6
        john george says:

        Paul Z.- I would like to answer your question about Pastor Clites from 24.3.5, “Can Pastor Clites do the same?” because it is a reasonable question. One of the gifts of the Spirit mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:8, is called the word of knowledge. This is supernatural revelation by the Holy Spirit for a specific incident at a specific time. This is available to all believers who believe that the gifts of the Spirit are still operative. I and Pastor Clites do, and we both have experienced this gift operating in our lives. These gifts have not been done away with, as many pastors are taught in their seminary training. Pastor Clites has no specific ability to figure this out on his own, but because the Spirit of God searches all things and knows all things, He will reveal them to those who need to know for a specific event in a specific time frame. In Martin Luther’s great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress,” there is one verse that says, ” The Spirit and the gifts are ours, through Him who triumphs through us.” That is a timeless truth that Martin Luther understood, and it is available to us today.

      • 24.3.7
        David Ludescher says:

        Paul,

        After reading C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters”, I am convinced that we can all see Satan.

      • 24.3.8
        Paul Zorn says:

        David L,

        Any guesses on whether Screwtape or Wormwood is at work on the Rejoice! matter?

      • 24.3.9
        David Ludescher says:

        Paul,

        Screwtape. Fortunately, through some wise counsel, Rejoice! decided that moving the graves was not as important as building the Church. (P.S. Traditionally, counsel is one of the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit.)

    • 24.4
      Griff Wigley says:

      John, when things go wrong, I think it’s more helpful, and more in line with the teachings of Jesus, to examine our internal thinking and motivations, to be willing to consider that we may not be seeing things quite right, to examine whether false assumptions/hubris/ego were at the root of the problem, and to ask for guidance/help… with the humility that one might still get it wrong.

      So I think it’s fine for TN to take on a community project like building playground equipment for a school and then say, when it’s successful, that that was the spirit of God working through you.

      But if TN took on a community project that failed, I think it would be better to examine all the factors involved to see what could be learned, to see if greed or ego or lack of human relations skills or planning, etc. were at the root of the failure, to see where it was that the teachings of Jesus were not applied by the people involved.

      To attribute the seeming success of something as complex as a bank or the operations of city government or a school district to one’s effort to evangelize the operations is at best, unrealistic and at worst, grandiose. 

      Likewise, to attribute the problems or failings of these institutions and the people within them to the devil means that one misses the opportunity to learn.

      • 24.4.1
        john george says:

        Griff- See my answer to Paul’s questions above. I think they relate.

      • 24.4.2
        john george says:

        Griff- One more thought on opposition. Jesus said this in NAS:Matthew
        {16:18} “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
        2002 (C) Bible. Is appears from this that there will be opposition to us if we choose to see the Kingdom of God advanced. How well things go is not an indicator that we heard God fully or responded correctly, but when we do, it almost always follows that there will be opposition. 2 Timothy 3:12 addresses this. BUT, just because we suffer difficulty DOES NOT mean we were necessarily living Godly. Living Godly itself is great gain, no matter how things work out. Through all of our Christian life, we become familiar with God’s voice. That is why Jesus said that He knows His sheep, and His sheep know His voice.

  • 25
    Daryl Bauer says:

    114 some posts? Wow! May I have the last word on this one folks?

    PEACE.

  • 26
    john george says:

    Griff and I had a little private e-mail discussion about a prayer circulating on the internet since 1996. This link is one that will take you there.

    http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_pastor_joe_wright.htm

    The issue I raised about transformation, which will hopefully spark some CIVIL discussion, is the Apostle Paul’s admonition in Romans 12:1, “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” This challenge is to believers. It is interesting how much thinking has entered into our minds that is contrary to Scripture. If we say we are followers of Jesus, then it seems reasonable that we will reflect Scriptural truth in our thinking and conversation. What does this say about us when our thinking does not align with scripture? And, how is our mind renewed? Is it more education? Does it entail analyzing every commentary out there on a particular passage (many of which conflict) and taking a mental vote about who is correct? Do we just flip a mental coin? Or, is there a personal involvement of the Holy Spirit which realigns our thinking? I think this is evident in Jesus’ words in John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” When we have a personal relationship with Jesus, He will reveal the Scripture to us in a way that we cannot learn through our own intellect. I think this is how our minds are renewed.

    • 26.1
      john george says:

      I might add that there is precedent for we believers to confess the sins of our nation, identifying with where and whom we live and not separating ourselves or our own complicity in these sins. It is found in Nehimiah 1:5-7.
      NAS:Nehemiah
      {1:5} I said, “I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,
      {1:6} let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned.
      {1:7} We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.”
      2002 (C) Bible
      This is the same pattern of the prayer cited in the above link. Sometimes, the truth does hurt.

  • 27
    Griff Wigley says:

    The next TN breakfast is tomorrow. Posted to the Rejoice! This and That page:

    Our monthly Transformation Northfield breakfast gathering is this Thursday, the 10th, 6:45-7:55 am, in the riverside conference room of the Archer House. Our guest will be Matt Paugh, an insurance agent who is practicing marketplace ministry in Elk River. Matt is the son of Greg Paugh, the author of Faith Beyond Belief. Our scheduled guest, representatives from Opin Systems, had to postpone but will come in May. PLEASE Contact Margaret at mjacobson@reboundenterprises.com, ASAP, if you can come. A head count is needed for the light breakfast.

  • 28
    Steph Henriksen says:

    Shucks, I missed this breakfast.

    It strikes me that the mixing of religion and government some church groups engage in is more of a Republican thing. There is a lot of discussion on email lists and blogs about the difference between a Republican and Democrat. Here is one:

    Republicans = imposed religion

    Democrats = freedom of religion choice and freedom of no religious choice

    • 28.1
      john george says:

      Stephanie- Not to worry. There is another meeting scheduled the second Thursday of April, the 14th. It will most likely be in one of the meeting rooms of the Archer House.

    • 28.2
      David Ludescher says:

      All,

      And, John George will be the speaker.

    • 28.3

      Stephanie,

      There is a component of the Republicans that is more about freedom than about big government. But like big-oil Democrats, they have a tough time getting press because they do not fit into the media-sphere’s preconceived view of the world and to think of them requires an ability to function in the presence of a cognitive dissonance. The Liberty wing of the Republicans is trying to move an agenda that is in direct opposition to much of the Transformation Northfield as presented here. And unlike the hard core single issue voters in both parties, the Liberty wing is not as confrontational (pushy), so they are having to work longer and harder to change the externals of the party.

      For you to characterize the Republicans as some sort of monolithic religious Taliban does not help, any more than it helps to characterize Democrats as anti-business social interventionists. However, I cannot disagree that the Republicans seem to be trying to throw away the chance they were given in 2010 to prove that they are much more about freedom than about social interventions, which suggests that I have been drowned out by the big-government interventionists in THAT party. I guess I can neither run nor hide!

    • 28.4
      David Ludescher says:

      Bruce,

      I think you might have the wrong idea about Transformation Northfield. They don’t have a religious or political “agenda” as far as I can tell. In that sense, I think the organization is quite “liberal”. They seem to be more open-minded about atheists than atheists are about them.

      • 28.4.1
        Paul Zorn says:

        David,

        Interesting observation you make about TN’s open-mindedness with respect to atheists.

        Do you have some reason to think this (or not to think it, for that matter), or are you just guessing? Is TN somewhere on the record on atheists?

      • 28.4.2
        David Ludescher says:

        Paul,

        My observation was a comparative analysis of open-mindedness, not a qualitative statement of either side’s creeds.

      • 28.4.3
        Jane Moline says:

        David: What are you smokin? “They (TN) don’t have a religious … ‘agenda’” That is their mission. Period. To witness their faith and bring it everyone in Northfield.

      • 28.4.4

        David, I guess I am merging TN and Rejoice into an imputed conspiracy to manage cultural hegemony through interfaith activities that, absent contraindications, appears monolithic.

      • 28.4.5
        David Ludescher says:

        Bruce,

        So, if your “guess” is true, is that a bad thing? Should I be concerned that TN might contain detrimental elements (the secular version of principalities of opposition?) who are attempting to create a cultural hegemony?

        As I see it, TN is about individual freedom to express yourself, including in public, about your belief in God. I don’t see the same tolerance from those criticizing it/them. In that sense, TN and “true” Republicans are quite alike.

      • 28.4.6
        Paul Zorn says:

        David,
        David L,

        Almost nobody denies, or doesn’t tolerate, TN’s right to affirm its belief in God, in public or in private. The live question is whether such “expression” should be protected from criticism. By equating criticism with intolerance you obscure the issue.

      • 28.4.7
        David Ludescher says:

        Paul,

        The live question for me is not whether TN should be shielded from criticism, but whether the criticism is fair.

        I haven’t seen anything yet that suggests “we” (Big Brother?) needs to keep a watchful eye on TN. From where I stand, “What is TN’s Public Agenda?” is intolerance masquerading as criticism.

        At least with the Rejoice! issue there was a (very tangential) factual basis for some criticism. I can’t see any factual basis here. Tell me if I am missing something.

      • 28.4.8
        kiffi summa says:

        Fair is only a perception, and people may differ on how they perceive “fair”.

        I personally don’t think it is ‘fair’ that all the bible verses quoted here as guiding TN, separate people into approved and disapproved of categories, and therefor that leads me to believe that if one does not subscribe to those verses, they fall into the ‘disapproved of’ category, and will not be desired ‘beneficiaries’ of this supposedly beneficial prayer for the community.

        I do think it is fair for the TN people to be in the Council Chambers, at the EDA meetings, wherever they want to be in a public place, praying as they see fit, for what outcomes they want.

        But … if those outcomes are only for those they (TN) think are deserving, by their interpretation of their guiding scriptures, then I think there is every reason to ask what they are about, and why they discriminate as to who should benefit.

        Nobody is being intolerant on a basic level, unless it is those that would limit their good wishes to those they approve of, as defined in their scripture.

        And when people pray in a public place, it is then a public issue for discussion.

      • 28.4.9
        john george says:

        Paul & David, and whomever else- One of the biggest concerns expressed by some posts so far, and seemingly alluded to in Griff’s thread, is the whole concern about separation of church and state. Three of the people cited in the original stream hold public offices. The fear seems to be that these people might allow their convictions to bring some “religious” influence into their decisions. My response is, “Duh!” Do you realy think they should switch to some atheistic stance when it comes to decisions, just because they have a public office? Would Obie Holman, were he in office, suddenly be expected to support an anti-gay ordinance? Would Brendon Etter, were he on a board, support some ordinance to limit certain types of speech in his plays? I don’t mean to be sarcastic, but I can’t miss the irony of some of the reasoning expressed here.

      • 28.4.10
        Griff Wigley says:

        John, I’m not expecting that members of TN who are in public policy positions to ‘park’ their relevant religious convictions.

        I’m asking that they:

        * make those convictions known
        * not act as though God has told them what needs to be done
        * not demonize those who disagree/oppose them

        Are those unfair expectations?

      • 28.4.11

        John G. I certainly do not expect elected officials to “check their convictions at the door”, but I also expect them to “uphold the Constitution” as they state they will when they are sworn in. And debates about whether it should be illegal to sell cars on Sunday should be answered by referring to that contract between citizens (the Constitution) and not by referring to any one group’s cultural compass. Now, an effort to amend the contract (say, by passing an amendment to permit the teaching of classical Newtonian physics as “close enough”) can be informed by the participants cultural backgrounds, but the laws we pass (which implement that contract) MUST be in the context of our agreement (the Constitution). That is, and must be, the nature of a Constitutional republic.

        The most disturbing aspect of TN appears, to me, to be that they believe that their agenda is backed by God in a way that seems to make them feel and act as if they can be intolerant of other peoples’ and other beliefs (or non-beliefs). As a scientist, I read and understand peer-reviewed research that tells me that being “gay” is driven by many physical and cultural factors, and possession by demons (which I hear can be “cured” by exorcism) is most assuredly not one of those factors. I want my contract (the Constitution) to reflect that reality. And I want my legal system to implement that reality. And most importantly, I want the debate about those realities to be held in the open forum of ideas, not as part of a back-room cabal.

        It is interesting to note that the triumph of wishful thinking over evidence based realities works against us from every corner of the political compass. Just as the social agenda big-government types think that they can legislate things on their conformist agenda and that will magically make it happen, the fiscal big-government types similarly think that they can simply repeal the laws of economics by encoding their wishes into laws (think of the war on drugs, the longest war in the history of the country, one that we are still losing, one that is killing thousands every year).

        I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.
        Oliver Cromwell in a letter to the general assembly of the Church of Scotland (August 3, 1650)

      • 28.4.12
        john george says:

        Griff- Re. 28.4.10, those are not unreasonable expectations. Turn about is fair play, though. Because these people have openly revealed their convictions and associations, does that make them unqualified for office? Is it ok if they ask God for wisdom and direction in fullfilling the positions they are in? If they say they do this, does that disqualify them? And, does that justify license to demonize them just because they might disagree with contemporary social norms?

        Bruce- You refer to “peer review” in your comment 28.4.11. I do not see how that process is any different from what we do in our circles. When we feel we have received any wisdom or revelation, that is submitted to those in our group and tested against the Scriptures. This process is not new to science, but was around from Deuteronomy (Chaps. 17&19), Matt. 18, 1 Cor. 14:29, 2 Cor. 13, 1 Tim. 5, Heb. 10, and 1 John 4. Because we believe that the Scriptures are a foundation from which to seek guidance, does that make us wrong?

        We are called intolerant because we call homosexuality sin. Look up my position on this in 17.1.7. There is hope for the sinner. If not, I would certainly be in the straights!

      • 28.4.13
        David Ludescher says:

        Griff,

        I think you are being unfair, at best, and bigoted, at worst.

        Firstly, it is patently unfair to require only those with “religious” convictions to state their convictions. There is not, and never should be a “religious” litmus test for any public office. Even if “we” were to require such a test, would atheists, like yourself, also be subject to this Inquisition? Being an atheist is as much of a conviction about religion as being a theist is a conviction about religion. And, what about agnostics, who seem to have no religious convictions at all? Who is to decide what is the right religion to have before entering politics?

        Secondly, I haven’t seen any evidence TN has caused an effect on the 5 suspects you outed above. Has there been any occasion to believe that Rhonda Pownell has let her TN-tinged background affect her political decisions?

      • 28.4.14
        David Ludescher says:

        Bruce,

        You state:

        The most disturbing aspect of TN appears, to me, to be that they believe that their agenda is backed by God in a way that seems to make them feel and act as if they can be intolerant of other peoples’ and other beliefs (or non-beliefs).

        I’m not sure how you arrived at the “they believe” and “their agenda” and that “they can be intolerant” phrases.

        I haven’t seen or heard any evidence that they believe that “they can be intolerant” because “they believe” that God is backing “their agenda”.

        I would agree that there is substantial theological ground to question some of the beliefs of some of the members of TN. It would be a disturbing theological aspect of a religion if it were true that members would believe that God would support their own intolerances.

        However, from a political perspective (the public agenda), there is no evidence of a cause for alarm. What is somewhat disturbing is that there is an attempt to keep citizens out of the political process simply on the basis of a particular religious affiliation or creed. While individuals are free to do so, the government is clearly prohibited from disenfranchising any citizen because of beliefs, no matter how ill-advised.

  • 29
    Nancy Amerman says:

    From one who admires John George’s oratorial abilities, I think it would behoove all congregants of LoGro Church (formerly referred to as Our Lady of Perpetual Vexation)to join David on Thursday, April 14th at the Archer House. Coffe, juice and muffins will be served but I apologize that we are out of Kool Aid.

  • 30

    [...] Negotiations with Transformation Northfield degenerate into finger pointing of biblical proportions By Griff Wigley, on March 20, 2011, 8:01 am Transformation Northfield co-founder John George and I met yesterday morning in my corner office at the GBM in an attempt to reconcile our differences since the big discussion about TN. [...]

  • 31
    Jane Moline says:

    I think the overriding issue here, and in many situations (including political affiliation) is to not judge people by “they” and “them” ( or them and us) but individually.

    There are plenty of those that call themselves Christian that are the perfect example of hypocrite. But there are plenty of these that claim they are doing something for good when the good accrues only to that one person.

    What we all want are leaders that we can both identify with and in whom we can believe are making decisions that are the best for everyone--even if they may not be what I want personally or what is good just for me. I want to know that they have actually thoughtfully considered pros and cons before reaching a decision, and then SHOW ME by their public discussion.

    The suspicion of the religious group influencing public policy is usually for a specific person--say someone who claims they pray for guidance (rather than reviewing and understanding available facts.) It is a bit scary wondering if they are listening to voices or if God is actually speaking to them. (See the “Screwtape Letters”.)

    The other side is those that defend anyone in their partictular religious group without consideration of individual actions--just because they belong to the same church does not make them good people or good Christians.

    On top of that, you always have well-intentioned (and possibly devout) people who are not-so-bright and not necessarily who you want to lead you anywhere.

    Anyway--I think it is dangerous to judge people by their group affiliation--you need to find out a lot more than what group they belong to in order to determine if they are good for you or the community or the school board or the city council or anything else.

    At the same time, it can be helpful to know something about their affiliations in order to make any judgement if one is warranted. And you would have to be suspicious of anyone who hides their affiliation.

    Anyway, I always feel, David L, that you judge any atheist harshly, and enjoy taking any opposite view in order to oppose any atheist. I, conversely, believe that most of the Christians I meet are probably good people and trying their best to do what is right--until they prove me otherwise.

  • 32
    Jane Moline says:

    David L;

    You say: “However, from a political perspective (the public agenda), there is no evidence of a cause for alarm. What is somewhat disturbing is that there is an attempt to keep citizens out of the political process simply on the basis of a particular religious affiliation or creed….”

    There is no evidence that anyone is keeping anyone out of the political process, yet again, we hear this cry--that, in spite of overall societal suppport of the Christian religion, we are picking on them, again!

    There is plenty of evidence, however, to show that the evangelical Christians attempt to keep gays and lesbians out of the political process and are intolerant of them. Consequently they have earned a healthy dose of skepticism, especially when they want to have positions where these beliefs could harm the citizenry.

    Too often, unfortunately, religion is used as a weapon to disenfranchise--whether it was blacks in the deep south in the 1800′s AND 1900′s, Jews in Europe in the 1930′s and 1940′s, or gays and lesbians today.

    You don’t get a free pass just because you belong to Transformation Northfield. (Nor should you be vilified.)

    • 32.1
      David Ludescher says:

      Jane,

      When you say,

      “… they have earned a healthy dose of skepticism especially when they want to have positions where these beliefs could harm the citizenry.”

      are you talking about the 5 citizens above wanting to harm Northfield citizens?

    • 32.2
      john george says:

      Jane- You bring up this comparison, again, that gays are somehow the same as people of color and other ethnic groups. This is where I question the supposed “scientific evidence” that they are indeed a race, with physical attributes that are inherited from generation to generation. I do not know of research that has demonstrated how these traits can be reproduced. Human reproduction requires male and female involvement, the last I looked. But I do not believe that this is an issue to justify the treatment many of them have received. They are fellow human beings, and as such, deserve respect and acceptance. That can be accomplished within the framework of the Scriptures as I understand them, if we are willing to do so.

  • 33
    Jane Moline says:

    John: I never said anything about homosexuality being a “race.” Your argument is specious. However, the scientific evidence of the natural characteristics of homosexuality is becoming overwhelming. My analogy to religious, racial and sexuality persecution in the name of religion is right on.

    The use of religion to counter scientific evidence is also specious--

    I agree 100% that homosexual humans do not reproduce (nor do they teach children to be homosexual.) I also believe that you have a good and genorous heart, and that you do not use your religion as a weapon. However, there are those that do. Knowing who they are is valuable knowledge in order to protect society.

    • 33.1
      john george says:

      Jane- OK. I see how you are using your analogy. I was misinterpreting it, and, if I’m understanding you correctly, I agree with what you are saying. I have heard arguments based on the opinion that homosexuality is like skin color and cannot be changed, and I thought that is what you were saying. At this point, I don’t agree with that analysis.

      You and I differ in our opinions on the reliability of “scientific evidence” on homosexual traits, but I don’t have a problem with that as I don’t believe we have enough “scientific evidence” yet to deliniate either way. Until that time, I will believe what I read in scriptures and argue from that point. I appreciate debating with you as you are a person with no guile.

    • 33.2
      David Ludescher says:

      Jane,

      I just don’t see how TN represents any of the dangers of which you are concerned.

  • 34
    Jane Moline says:

    David L: My whole point is that TN is not what any one would fear. It is individuals who use their religion as a weapon--for personal gain or to go after others. TN is not dangerous. But there are definitely some scary people right here in Northfield. And some of them belong to TN.

    • 34.1
      Raymond Daniels says:

      And Locally Grown

    • 34.2
      David Ludescher says:

      Jane,

      In Northfield, I worry more about the dangers of evangelical bobos than evangelical Christians. You don’t see evangelical Christians plastering the names and pictures of evangelical bobos up on the computer screen and telling them to be careful of the DE’s (detrimental elements) in their ranks.

  • 35
    Paul Zorn says:

    John,

    In 28.4.12 you say (I’m writing here to avoid even further decimal places … ) in reference to “peer review”:

    … I do not see how “peer review” is any different from what we do in our circles. When we feel we have received any wisdom or revelation, that is submitted to those in our group and tested against the Scriptures.

    What you describe resembles the scientific peer review process in the sense that some community of “peers” shares opinions on a subject and gauges whether new ideas do or don’t align well with some standard of comparison.

    But there’s a crucial difference, too. New religious ideas are (properly!) vetted for alignment with basic Scriptural teachings and beliefs. In scientific peer review, there’s no “Scripture” in anything like the religious sense — the closest analogue would be a set of generally accepted standards for evidence (e.g., replicability) and rules of argument (e.g., citation of sources).

    The difference may seem hair-splitting, but it isn’t — an essential goal of science in general, and of scientific peer review in particular, is to enable and encourage falsification of things formerly accepted. To oversimplify a bit, science is fundamentally about disbelief.

    You continue:

    … Because we believe that the Scriptures are a foundation from which to seek guidance, does that make us wrong?

    Not necessarily, and certainly not as regards matters that Scripture speaks to. As for science, Scriptural adherents seem to hold radically differing views (e.g., on evolution), some presumably right and others certainly wrong.

    • 35.1
      john george says:

      Paul- Are you saying that science can be “right” or “wrong?” That still sounds like there is a foundation which is “believed.” Gravity is something that can be demonstrated every time and for a person to say he doesn’t “believe” in it is rather foolish. Evolution, on the other hand, is a different story. As one scientist put it, they are not missing a link, but rather, there are so many links they are still trying to connect.

      As an example of replicability, source citation, and the tearing down of “religious beliefs,” one question about Biblical claims is whether they can be demonstrated in this day and age. People in the circles in which I relate do this quite regularly. One area is the operation of the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Cor. 12. Many denominations claim they do not operate today; that their use ended at the end of the Apostolic age. It seems that God is proving those beliefs wrong in some circles today. IMO, the more important aspect of this is whether we allow our convictions to separate us on these issues. One of TN’s goals is to see greater unity and acceptance within the Body of Christ as a whole. This is part of the transformation we are looking for.

    • 35.2
      john george says:

      Paul- In reflecting on this a little more, I’m not sure the issue we believers have with scientists is the subject of evolution. If evolution is defined as the adaptation of certain species to their environment, then this is quite observable. I believe the issue is with the source of life itself. Scientists (at least the honest ones) say they don’t know what the source is. They are still searching, and believe it can be found with enough experimentation and research. The Christian believes the source is God, and the observable evidence demonstrates this by its consistency from species to species. Perhaps my disbelief in scientific claims is more scientific than I thought.

    • 35.3
      Paul Zorn says:

      John,

      In 35.1 you ask whether science can be “right” or “wrong”.

      In a strict sense the answer is no: science is a method, not a person or group, and so can’t itself be right or wrong on anything.

      If “science” is used to mean something like “scientists and those who subscribe to the scientific method” then the answer to your question is emphatically yes: “science” in this sense does indeed believe that assertions about the natural world can be true or false, and that the scientific method is the best known and most reliably tried method for separating the former from the latter. Its successes are obvious.

      Sure, scientists sometimes goof up. But, like a self-cleaning oven, the scientific method has a built-in corrective mechanism. Cooks (literally) burn away harebrained culinary theories; scientists submit them to the cleansing fire (OK, the metaphor is getting out of hand) of peer review and endless vulnerability to revision.

      The process of evolution includes “adaptation of certain species to their environment”, as you put it, but also posits the development of new species, including humans, from old.

      From a “science” perspective the evidence for evolution is no less convincing than that for gravity. In some respects, indeed, the main mechanisms of evolution (natural selection and gene variation) are better understood than that of gravity, which somewhat mysteriously “works at a distance”.

      Whether God — and, if so, which God(s) — somehow guides or oversees evolution (or gravity, for that matter) is not, IMO, a matter science addresses. Nor, IMO, does the answer really matter to how science is done.

    • 35.4
      john george says:

      Paul- I think I do not need science or scientific evidence to support or validate my beliefs, any more than you need religion or religious doctrine to validate your science. Although I do believe there are observations of the physical world that I can make that validate my faith, I don’t need scientists to sign on to that to validate my observations. We each have the freedom to embrace our own beliefs. I would not support a movement to throw out the teaching of scientific principles from our education. I think that both sides can stand on their own, and a public forum such as this is a good place to debate the merits of each philosophy. It is not my intent to disprove science here, nor do I expect I will be disuaded from my convictions.

      • 35.4.1
        Paul Zorn says:

        John,

        Agreed — strictly religious (resp. scientific) beliefs aren’t and shouldn’t be subject to scientific (resp. religious) validation.

        Harder questions arise when these areas bump against each other. “Creation science” and “intelligent design”, for instance, typically make some combination of religious and scientific claims.

        IMO scientific claims (e.g., about the age of the earth, or human descent from other species, or climate change) need to be judged on scientific grounds — irrespective of who advances them.

        As you say, everybody’s free to embrace her/his own ideas and beliefs, and to advance them in discussion — nobody’s permission needed. The live issue is how useful, and how persuasive to others, ideas and beliefs are likely to be.

      • 35.4.2
        john george says:

        Paul- As long as we do not offend and alienate one another, then discussion is probably usefull if it leads to better understanding between individuals. I think a sign of maturity is being able to understand where differences of philosophy lie and not be threatened by those differences. It is hard to demonstrate emperically the esistence of God, and I don’t think that is necessary to do to believe in Him. One of the differences I see between science and Christianity, per se, is what we consider the prime source. If I understand the scientific writings I have read correctly, scientists are still searching for the prime source, the beginning of all things. There must be some explanation for the existence of what we see around us. Christians would say we know what the prime source is. It is God, and everything we see around us can be attrubuted to His design. This entails a belief that there is a God in the first place. Science, as I understand it, is working back the other direction, trying to prove from observable phenomina how it came into being. This just about requires a belief that there is no God, and all our environment can be explained through natural laws. Am I correct in my suppositions here?

      • 35.4.3
        David Ludescher says:

        Paul,

        I’m not convinced that the usefulness of religious beliefs in the scientific community is a “live” question. A more pressing question is how to differentiate between a “religious” belief and a “scientific” belief.

        For example, on the abortion issue, science clearly indicates that the fetus is an incompletely formed human person whereas the less scientific (i.e. more religious) view is that a fetus is not a human person until birth (or viability).

        On that issue, the “religious” tend to argue the science of reproduction whereas the “secular” tend to argue the religion of liberty.

        So, I think the two concepts are often confused with each other. Scientists, like Richard Dawkins, may think he is being scientific by claiming that God does not exist, but he is confusing scientific, empirical verification with the “truth”.

      • 35.4.4
        Bruce Morlan says:

        David L. Your use of the abortion argument and claiming that the secular use the “religion of liberty” while the religious use the “science of reproduction” is a nice meta-use of the difference between faith and science, but it does miss the real role of science in these discussions. When I was teaching decision theory, and the nature of evidence came up, I would note that science gives us actionable advice. This means that if you wonder whether a drug can cure a disease, you conduct experiments designed to answer that specific question. The results are actionable in that it is evidence based. You would be foolish indeed to argue (now) that cigarettes are a healthy alternative to being overweight, although before science weighed in one could have argued that (anecdotally). Similarly, I have been working in the medical field (specifically, in genomics) as a scientist long enough to be quite confident that the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality are completely wrong (sorry John G), and that its teachings on compassion and forgiveness (which are about ethical and moralistic behavior, less subject to empirical testing) should trump the teachings on homosexuality, witches, and a large set of other similar issues. The arguments about the meanings of the teachings in the Bible are conducted to derive validity from authority not experimentation, and as such are much less about revealed truth in the scientific sense (tested and re-tested, see validation) and much more about anecdotes and interpretations and as such are subject to revisioning in a manner sometimes referred to as “cultural relativism”.

        However, to tie in yet another thread from this tapestry, the rules derived from cultural references are tempered by the written contracts we have (e.g., the Constitution) and no amount of revisionist history can change the fact that the majority of the governed feel that religion-based findings are a subject of personal choice and that attempts to implement in laws some of those findings is cause for alarm (e.g., South Dakota, aka, Taliban West). And the Constitution, and being a Constitutional Republic, protects that viewpoint even if it becomes a minority viewpoint.

      • 35.4.5
        Bruce Morlan says:

        And yes, I am totally aware of the irony in my appeal to authority when I use my background as a scientist to trump my less credentialed background as an ethicist.

      • 35.4.6
        john george says:

        Bruce- I’ve always wanted to ask a couple questions of someone versed in the science of “genomics”, and I haven’t found such a person until now. I have no doubt that there is gene level evidence of homosexual tendencies. I have also read that there is gene level consistencies between alcoholics. Is this true? How about pedophilia? If these tendencies are anormal, or at least different from the majority of the population, then what causes them? Are they part of natural selection, or could they possibly be affects of the fall of man? I’m not sure any of us fully understand the effect that the fall of man had upon the whole world, mankind included.

        You bring up an interesting term, “cultural relativism,” which is definitely evident in the area of homosexuality. I think it was the early ’70′s where psychiatrists chose to reject the idea that homosexuality was some type of mental illness, and rightfully so. The issue that we in TN have to personally settle is how we allow cultural relativism to affect our own thinking about the veracity of scripture. That is the reason the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” As far as your genetic evidence regarding homosexual traits, I know that in myself, if allowed to go my own way, I would be chief among sinners. Because I recognize this, and agree with 1 John 1:8-10, then I have access to a new life promised me in Romans 6:4. That is how I allow God to bring His Kingdom into my own life, and it is my hope to demonstrate the goodness and mercy of God to others that they might find this same eternal life. Science will fail when it comes to fixing lives because it is limited to the physical realm.

      • 35.4.7
        David Ludescher says:

        Bruce,

        There is no science in the question, “What is Tranformation Northfield’s Public Agenda?”. Rather, it is a question of the same form and character as, “What is the homosexual public agenda?”. The former question we (the Locally Grown congregation) seem to have no difficulty tolerating as a valid question; the latter question, which is of the same form and character, would never be asked. I would submit that this is primarily due to a pre-judgment (prejudice) about the nature of religious organizations, and religious people. It is certainly not due to any empirical evidence of political danger from TN.

        On your other point, I would dispute that science leads us to actions based upon evidence. For example, in an abortion decision, science would tell us that a fetus is the product of an egg from a woman and a sperm from a man. But that science does not tell us whether the fetus is person enough to have the constitutional right to live, even though the fetus is clearly human life. Neither does science tell us what to do if we conclude that is not a person, i.e. whether the fetus is property of the woman or property of the woman and the man.

        Most religions have answers if we are willing to listen. Religion has the empirical evidence called life to form its hypotheses, called beliefs.

      • 35.4.8
        Paul Zorn says:

        David,

        In 35.4.3 you say (in ref to my 35.4.1):

        I’m not convinced that the usefulness of religious beliefs in the scientific community is a “live” question.

        I agree.

        What I meant to say, and perhaps said poorly, was that religious people have every right to advance and advocate for ideas and beliefs about science — whether or not these ideas derive from religion or from science itself. Whether or not others take such ideas seriously as science, let alone find them persuasive, is what I meant by the “live issue”. The answer, IMO, will depend on how well such ideas either align with accepted science or propose scientifically plausible alternatives.

        In 35.4.7 you say this (addressing Bruce M):

        … I would dispute that science leads us to actions based upon evidence. For example, in an abortion decision, science would tell us that a fetus is the product of an egg from a woman and a sperm from a man. But that science does not tell us whether the fetus is person enough to have the constitutional right to live …

        Again, I mainly agree; science itself isn’t centrally about resolving moral or (even less) constitutional questions. But science can certainly inform such decisions, including the one to which you allude. The scientific difference between an embryo and a fetus, for instance, may not be “dispositive” (as I think you legal wallahs say) as regards abortion policy, but it might reasonably come into the discussion.

        And then:

        Most religions have answers if we are willing to listen.

        Fair enough, but not all religious answers agree with each other. How should differences be resolved?

      • 35.4.9
        David Ludescher says:

        Paul,

        I think that I agree with what you are saying in 35.4.8.

        We tend to read and hear about religious who make claims about science, such as “creationism”. But, for the most part, those kinds of issues are way overblown. For example, the Roman Catholic Church long ago adopted evolution as its theory of creation. And, its teachings specifically hold that the Church is not opposed to scientific discovery and theory as a valid means to knowledge.

        The scientific community sometimes fails to acknowledge that empirical verification is not the only valid means to know the truth. Science cannot provide us with help on the most important questions as, “What is the meaning of life?” or “When does a fertilized human egg become a person?”.

        Groups like TN are extremely valuable in our quest for knowledge. They challenge the religions of liberty, hedonism, and political power. Science once told us that black persons were inferior and that Aryans were a superior race. There was scientific evidence to prove it.

      • 35.4.10
        Paul Zorn says:

        David,

        Indeed, I think we agree on a lot of things in this discussion.

        For instance, I agree that it’s useful for groups like TN (but also groups with little in common with TN) to challenge received attitudes about liberty, hedonism, and political power — and about religion and science themselves.

        Concerning this:

        Science once told us that black persons were inferior and that Aryans were a superior race. There was scientific evidence to prove it.

        This is not quite my take. Bad science, not good, has been adduced for all sorts of false assertions over the years, including a lot of balderdash about race. Good for those, including some motivated by religion, who wouldn’t buy it.

        But let’s acknowledge that (good) science, not just religion, has helped us understand just how trivial race really is, if indeed it can be usefully defined at all. Let’s acknowledge, too, that plenty of scientific error has been promulgated under religious imprimatur. Galileo comes to mind.

      • 35.4.11
        john george says:

        Paul Z,- I’m not sure I would classify the examples you gave as “good” or “bad” science. IMO, it is the (mis)interpretation/application of scientific observations that has led people astray in the past. (Think electrical shock treatments for the “mentally ill” in the last century.) I think the same could be said for Christiamity. IMO, it is not the Bible that is “bad”, but the (mis) interpretation/application of the scriptures that has caused harm in the past.

      • 35.4.12
        David Ludescher says:

        Paul,

        Rather than

        “… plenty of scientific error has been promulgated under religious imprimatur. Galileo comes to mind.”

        it would be more fair to say “… much human knowledge has been stifled by existing religious beliefs.”.

        But, I think we have entered an era (at least in Occidental thought) where science has begun to stifle human knowledge by its arrogance, and insistence on empirical proofs of truth.

        What has happened, in my opinion, is that religious people, especially religious fundamentalists, are shouted down and mocked at the very time when we need their insight. All who express an opinion consistent with a firmly held opinion of a religion are dismissed as religious fanatics. The abortion issue is a good example.

        Minnesota has a law which makes it murder to kill a fetus of any age. There is only one exception -- if you are the mother. Conclusion -- the fetus is a person to everyone except the mother. Groups like TN can help point out these kind of inconsistencies in our legal “beliefs”, and require us to focus upon personhood.

        The stated concern that “detrimental elements” within religious groups might try to impose their beliefs upon the rest of the community, and will somehow harm the community seems to me to be hogwash. More dangerous to the community is excluding any particular group from a public debate because we don’t want to hear their opinion, or worrying that somehow we won’t be able to discern when they are “voting with God”.

      • 35.4.13
        Paul Zorn says:

        David,

        I’m fine with your paraphrase:

        … much human knowledge has been stifled by existing religious beliefs

        though I hardly think it would give religionists much comfort.

        About this:

        … science has begun to stifle human knowledge by its arrogance, and insistence on empirical proofs of truth.

        Sure, scientists, like other humans, sometimes overreach. Or is your beef with the scientific method itself?

        If the latter, then I think you’ve got it backwards. Objective, replicable, empirically verifiable truth is indeed the gold standard in science, but such a standard works more against arrogance, IMO, than in favor of it.

        About this:

        The stated concern that “detrimental elements” within religious groups might try to impose their beliefs upon the rest of the community, and will somehow harm the community seems to me to be hogwash.

        I know too little about TN to worry unduly over any possible “detrimental elements” therein.

        But the possibility that religious groups might try to impose their beliefs on larger communities is by no means “hogwash” across the board, and I’m surprised you’d see it as such. Teaching of “creation science” and its variants in public school science classrooms has often been advocated by school board members, for instance, and other less (or more) incendiary examples could be cited.

      • 35.4.14
        Phil Poyner says:

        In my lifetime I’ve had the opportunity to know a few people who were both scientists and by any measure strongly religious and spiritual men. I never saw any evidence that they had a problem differentiating between their science and their faith, or integrating both into their lives without conflict. In fact, in my experience it’s been people outside of the scientific community that most often blur the lines between the two rather than those within it…perhaps aided by a few outliers like Richard Dawkins.

  • 36
    Margaret Colangelo says:

    OK, I’ll say it since no one else will.
    Blurring the line between the secular and the religious in our marketplace, our schools, and our public organizations is in direct violation of the Constitution. I for one will always defend the our founding principles.

  • 37
    Griff Wigley says:

    Hey Margaret, good to have another voice chiming in here.

    I think there’s always going to be a “blurring the line between the secular and the religious” in our culture and therefore, discussion and debate about what’s appropriate.

    Prayer is but one example.

    Publicly-led prayer (always Christian-oriented, from what I’ve noticed) is part of every event at the Northfield Veteran’s Memorial. Is that objectionable?

    How about opening prayers at the legislature?

    3/16 PiPress:
    Jewish lawmaker objects to Senate invocation citing Jesus, Christianity

    A Jewish Minnesota lawmaker is asking Senate leaders to allow only nondenominational prayers to open sessions, after feeling “highly uncomfortable” when a Baptist pastor repeatedly mentioned Jesus Christ and Christianity in one of the invocations.

    Democratic Sen. Terri Bonoff says she wants Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch to change the letter submitted to all visiting chaplains to say they are “required,” rather than “requested,” to make prayers nondenominational.

    “I’m a very religious woman and believe deeply in God,” said Bonoff, of the Minneapolis suburb of Minnetonka. “We honor God in public and our political discourse, and that’s proper. But in doing a nondenominational prayer we are honoring him without violating the separation of church and state.”

  • 38
    Jane Moline says:

    Interesting article in the Strib today about a religious group literally using their religion as a weapon--punishing their children--using the rod lest they spoil the little darlings.

    • 38.1
      Paul Zorn says:

      Jane,

      I was sickened to read the same Strib article. But in that situation, however retch-worthy, Wisconsin authorities seem from the Strib account to be taking this seriously and investigating it diligently. Maybe there’s more to the story, or more to come. Meanwhile, On Wisconsin.

  • 39
    David Ludescher says:

    Paul,

    I’m going to continue the 35.4. thread here given that the other threads are dead.

    The possibility that religious groups will impose their beliefs on the political or scientific community is hogwash for a number of reasons. For example, even if members of TN were to believe in “creation science” and were to try to get such a curriculum into the Northfield schools, it wouldn’t be as if TN made it happen; it would be that the citizens made it happen. No person gets extra votes by claiming to belong to any organization.

    Realistically, there isn’t much danger that religious beliefs will have an effect upon scientific advancements (in today’s world). The scientific community has the scientific method to guard against error.

    On the other hand, untempered “scientific” beliefs pose a substantial danger to many valid religious beliefs. I remember Time magazine having a cover story on evolution suggesting that the debate was between religion and science, creationism and evolution, belief and reason. That represents a myopic view of the debate.

    I am not going to worry about TN, and possible detrimental elements contained within associated groups. I am more worried about the intolerant attitude shown towards TN and similar fundamental evangelical groups.

    • 39.1
      john george says:

      David- I thought intolerence was OK as long as a person was not tolerating intolerance, …or something like that.

    • 39.2
      Paul Zorn says:

      David L,

      You say, in reference to the possibility of religious groups trying to impose beliefs:

      … even if members of TN were to believe in “creation science” and were to try to get such a curriculum into the Northfield schools, it wouldn’t be as if TN made it happen; it would be that the citizens made it happen.

      Perhaps we mean different things by “impose”. I don’t worry that TN and other groups will impose sectarian views or policies by
      stealth or force. Nor would I question anyone’s citizenship (or place of birth … ). Interest groups have every right to advocate through elections or other legal means for their views, right or left, wise or hare-brained. My concern is that groups I disagree with will successfully use existing—and legal—channels (election, school boards, etc.) to enact misguided or sectarian or, worse, unconstitutional policies, like creationism-as-school-science. (This happened in Dover, PA, not long ago — see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District .)

      Then this:

      Realistically, there isn’t muchdanger that religious beliefs will have an effect uponscientific advancements (in today’s world). The scientific community has the scientific method to guard against error.

      The first sentence baffles me — wouldn’t, say, the Dover PA case count as religion stifling science education? The second sentence seems mainly true, though even I might question excessive faith in scientific infallibility. In any event, what’s the relevance of the second sentence to the first?

      On the other hand, untempered “scientific” beliefs pose a substantial danger to many valid religious beliefs. I remember Time magazine having a cover story on evolution suggesting that the science, creationism and evolution, belief and reason. That represents a myopic view of the debate.

      Time magazine (not a noted or refereed scientific journal) might indeed caricature such debates, but this has no bearing on the debates themselves. IMO scientific beliefs (not sure what “tempered” might mean) should pose no danger to “valid” religious beliefs, because the latter are not about science.

    • 39.3
      David Ludescher says:

      Paul,

      Why should I be concerned about TN if they/it are using existing and legal channels? There is not much chance that science or the general public is going to be substantially affected by “creation science”. In fact, a more open mind might help us better understand this minority opinion, and its proponents.

      On the other hand, nothing good can come out of a paranoid concern that TN may have a secret public agenda, or that any public agenda should be feared as some sort of detrimental influence on “our” community.

      I agree with your statement that genuine scientific methods do not endanger faith beliefs. Nor do faith beliefs endanger science. They have different competencies. Consequently, I see no need to demonize religious groups (even if they held to unscientific beliefs or had detrimental elements).

    • 39.4
      Paul Zorn says:

      David L,

      You ask:

      Why should I be concerned about TN if they/it are using existing and legal channels?

      Working through legal and “existing” channels has never been a guarantee of wise or even legal results.

      There is not much chance that science or the general public is going to be substantially affected by “creation science”.

      While “creation science” in the strict sense has no significant credibility among working scientists, there is every chance that the general public, and therefore the public side of “science” and science education, could be “substantially affected”. Respected polls by the likes of the Pew Research Center show consistently that only about half of the US public believes in Darwinian basics, and that a similar fraction, or even more, see evolutionary theory as substantially in doubt among scientists.

      In fact, a more open mind might help us better understand this minority opinion, and its proponents.

      Methinks you ask scientists to display more open-mindedness than you ask of creationists. In one sense, granted, that’s fair enough — science is all about openness to evidence, falsifiability of theories, etc. But science is also essentially skeptical, so asking scientists to take creationist theories seriously as science, on faith rather than on evidence, may be asking the impossible.

      Re this:

      … Nor do faith beliefs endanger science …

      Religious faith need not endanger science, as we both keep saying. But it certainly can, and often has.

      • 39.4.1
        BrucwWMorlan says:

        I must weigh in here on the issue of creationism as a faith-based world view. Anyone versed in decision making should understand the difference between the use of the Gaia hypotheses as a metaphor for our world and using it as the basis for making decisions. In a similar vein, the various Biblical myths are fine when used to present metaphors for conflict (Cain and Abel come to mind), absolute power (Abraham and Isaac), and child rearing (“Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell.” (Proverbs 23:13-14)”.

        But, I would suggest that in today’s incredibly complex world, with issues involving deep questions of technology, risk, and engineering (think nuclear plants, wind turbines, coal power plants), any politician who uses purely faith-based solutions even in the face of scientific evidence to the contrary is probably unsuited for public office because they will be incapable of understanding, at the level necessary, the evidence that will be presented to support various decisions. I say this not because the scientific decision models are infallible, but rather because they are under constant peer review and subject to correction. For example, just a few decades ago (in interbellum Europe, especially) science was used by collectivists of both the socialist and capitalist systems to justify eugenics, but we have rejected and discarded, for the nonce, this bad application of science. It is the nature of the scientific beast that it is constantly adjusting itself.

        To the extent that the TN “agenda” involves putting more of these sorts of people in office, I applaud Griff for having started this important discussion. To the extent that it consists of prayer, talks and similar, I have no concerns.

      • 39.4.2
        john george says:

        Bruce & Paul- Perhaps, in our discussion of science vs faith, we have become distracted from Griff’s original question- does TN have a hidden agenda? I think I can say with confidence that it is TN’s desire to make the general public very aware of what we are about. It is our desire to see people’s lives changed for the better, and we believe this is best done from the inside out. Medical science has made great strides in allowing those with physical maladies to live more enjoyable and productive lives. But, we believe there is more to life than the physical realm of our bodies. A person can have excellent physical health, but still be plagued by emotional scars. We believe we have an answer for some of these people, and our desire is to demonstrate it, not just talk about it, in our daily interactions with them. Whatever form this takes, we seek to accomplish it through our lives, God willing. I hope this is not a secret from anyone with whom we interact.

      • 39.4.3
        john george says:

        Bruce- I read most of your Wikipedia link on the Gaia Hypothesis, and, frankly, I have a lot more peace with the belief that God started this all. Have mercy, it is little wonder there is so much animosity in the scientific community toward people who believe in God! God bless you all with peace and harmony.

      • 39.4.4
        Phil Poyner says:

        “Have mercy, it is little wonder there is so much animosity in the scientific community toward people who believe in God!”

        I’m sorry John, but my experience in the sciences would indicate no particular animosity towards believers in God from the scientific community. Are there individuals within the scientific community that do feel animosity? Sure there are. But that is not particular to the scientific community, and is more a function of being human than being a scientist. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve known scientists of great faith, and I’ve never seen them denigrated for it.

      • 39.4.5

        John, my use of the Gaia hypothesis was purely for illustration of the difference between using myths as metaphors for instruction and insight and using them as the basis for public policy. The myth of Daedalus and Icarus is useful to model fathers and sons and sorrow, but I will trust in the predictions of the Navier–Stokes equations when I fly in an airplane. While I understand the feedback mechanisms in the Gaia hypothesis mathematically, and find them beguiling, I need not attribute an intentionality to the behavior of the system, any more than I would attribute a desire to be still as the cause of a pendulum slowly stopping its swinging.

      • 39.4.6
        john george says:

        Bruce- Your comment:
        “While I understand the feedback mechanisms in the Gaia hypothesis mathematically, and find them beguiling, I need not attribute an intentionality to the behavior of the system, any more than I would attribute a desire to be still as the cause of a pendulum slowly stopping its swinging.”

        I picked up the same vein of thought when I read your link, and I agree with you. While I don’t begin to understand the feedback mechanisms mathmatically, this train of thought strikes me as a little mystical. It is like giving inanimate objects a personality, such as a cartoon story might do. I remember years ago when I was still at home on the farm, a powerful tornado went through our area. A neighbor had a team of beautiful Belgians tied in a stall in his barn. The tornado destroyed the barn, left the hay bales neatly stacked, killed one of the horses and left the other unscathed. Doubtless, the tornado had something against the one horse! Hah!

    • 39.5
      David Ludescher says:

      Paul,

      “Working through legal and “existing” channels is no guarantee of wise or even legal results.” is true. However, it does not apply to TN because TN isn’t working towards any “public agenda”. It is not trying to put creationism in our public schools, or otherwise influence public officials.

      On the other hand, there is substantial merit, even on a secular basis, for much of what TN is attempting to accomplish. For example, praying for public officials, at or near public meetings, is a worthy activity. It promotes a community spirit much different from protesters demanding their “rights” under the law.

      • 39.5.1
        Paul Zorn says:

        David,

        Whether TN has a “public agenda”, and if so what it might be, are indeed the animating questions of this discussion. (Whether TN or any group has the right to advocate for an agenda, whatever its basis, is not at issue; nobody denies this.)

        Your answer, David, seems to be either that TN has no public agenda (as you put it in the first paragraph) or that (as you say in the second paragraph) they have one, but “much of what they are attempting to accomplish” is benign, or even has “substantial merit”.

        In the latter case, what is it, in your view, that TN is “attempting to accomplish”, and can we expect the “substantial merit” to work to our general advantage? How?

      • 39.5.2
        David Ludescher says:

        Paul,

        When I say TN has no “public agenda” I mean that in the sense that they (it?) don’t have a political position on particular issues, nor are they trying to force any agenda upon Northfielders. What they are trying to accomplish, I believe, is to animate public discussions with a sense of the sacred and the divine.

  • 40
    Raymond Daniels says:

    This sounds like someone from the Locally Grown…

    http://www.startribune.com/local/south/119721999.html

    • 40.1
      john george says:

      Raymond- This sounds like a mentally disturbed person. Sorry, but no contributor on this blog fits this description.

    • 40.2
      Griff Wigley says:

      Thanks for that, John.

      Raymond, we’re not of one mind here by a long shot, but regardless, that kind of insult is really out of line.

      • 40.2.1
        Raymond Daniels says:

        Griff, I will concede that it may have been out of line, but I don’t think it is that much of a streach to say some people here “hate Christians” like the individual said in the story.

    • 40.3
      Griff Wigley says:

      Thanks for the acknowledgment, Raymond. I don’t know of anyone here that fits that description but it’s possible. I’d venture that 99% of the folks who participate here are Christian.

  • 41
    Griff Wigley says:

    John, as per your request, I’m planning to show up as your guest at the TN prayer breakfast in the morning to listen to your presentation.

    It might be good if you introduced me to Dan Clites.

  • 42
    Griff Wigley says:

    John George, thanks for making me feel welcome at the TN prayer breakfast this morning… and for your kind words about me and Locally Grown in your speech. I’m glad I was there to hear it and I enjoyed chatting with fellow Northfielders afterwards. I was among the last to leave!

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