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Thursday, October 25, 2012

WHITE HATS AND BLACK HATS


If you know me, then you are aware of my obsession with Old Time Radio shows.  The Jack Benny Program, The Great Gildersleeve (A 1940’s version of spell check would not question my spelling of Gildersleeve), and my particular favorite is Gunsmoke.  Good guys, bad guys, and very clear lines of who was right and who was wrong.  In the movies and television, the “Good Guys” wore white hats, and the “Bad Guys” wore black hats.  These props were very convenient for the viewing audience, and for the bystanders witnessing the goings on of these people.   Interesting, the bystanders didn’t always wear the black or white hats.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if life worked that way?  The Republicans could wear White hats, and the Democrats could wear black hats, or even more fun for me the Democrats could wear the white hats!!  Better yet, each person we encounter could wear a white or black hat, and then we could be assured of who the good guys and bad guys are. (I feel the glare of the politically correct regarding my use of guys!!)  Wait!  I just saw the Black Hat open the door for a lady.  Oh No!!  The White Hat just crossed the street against the red light!!  Please let this fade to black and white so they’ll all look grey, and relieve my confusion!!!
Here’s the deal my Christian friends.  Jesus didn’t ask us to wear Black or White hats.  I know, he said “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.  So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”  As I read that passage in Revelation I don’t see anything about doctrine.  In the context, I see us being admonished to either be in or out for God.  I suppose that means we should be wearing white hats, but we aren’t perfect, nor do we see things perfectly, and we certainly don’t interpret everything the same.   Maybe we’re more like the bystanders, just having to be who we are, and doing the best we can to become more.
Here’s my suggestion: Let’s drop the Hat mentality, and realize that if two or more people are involved there is going to be disagreement somewhere on some level.  Jews and Gentiles didn’t agree on things, but Jesus accepted both. Grey hats?  I don’t agree with everything Southern Baptists teach, but I worship with them.  I don’t agree with everything Churches of Christ teach, but I’m grateful for my heritage with them.  I don’t agree with everything anybody says, but I still love them, respect them, and in cases where they tell me they follow Jesus, I call them my brother or sister (You’re welcome politically correct readers).  There are a great number of things that can cause us to point and scream, “Black hat! Black hat!”, but if that Black Hat is covered in the blood of Jesus, doesn’t that make it white?  And just for the record, we all wore black hats before He saved us. 

RED LINES


There has been talk of red lines, or as I knew it as a boy, drawing lines in the sand, during the last few weeks.  The discussion has made me think of the Red Lines we have drawn as Christians in this election season.  The two that immediately come to mind are Pro Life/Pro Choice and Gay Marriage.  These two “issues” have become a litmus test for the Christian vote.  If our vote is to be based on what we believe as Christians, then I have a question.  If you do not believe Mr. Obama is a Christian (I believe he is), then this will not be as meaningful, but there are still some relevant things for us to consider.
I am a Protestant in the traditional sense of the word.  I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  I believe in the virgin birth.  I believe that salvation is available through Jesus Christ.  I believe The Bible is the Word of God.  These are core beliefs, and I do not take them lightly.  Here is my question.  If my vote is to be based on my core beliefs as a Christian, where do I put the check mark? 
Mr. Obama "cut his teeth" as a member of the United Church of Christ (not to be confused with Churches of Christ found in the Bible Belt).  Mr. Romney is member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 
To simplify this let’s consider the UCC to be Protestant, and the LDS to be as well.  The UCC is generally a very ecumenical group, while the LDS is not.  This is not a criticism, just a reality because of differences in beliefs.  Any comparison with a traditional Protestant group compared to the LDS is fairly simple at it’s core.  Traditional Protestant groups believe in The Bible as their guide, while LDS include The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price as revelations from God.  Most of the open canon of the LDS consists of the writings of Joseph Smith.  The LDS also operate under the doctrine of Continuing Revelation.  Under this doctrine The Heavenly Father leads the church, through the President of the church, and by giving him revelation necessary to the day.  The UCC is for Gay Marriage, and generally their membership is Pro Choice. 
I believe that being Pro Choice/Pro Life, and that our stance on Gay Marriage is important, but if my vote is to be based on correct doctrine (and I can write an article there too), and who the more correct Christian choice is, then I think we all have some deeper and more considered thinking to do.  I am not writing this article to sway your vote one way or another, rather it is to stir us to think about our motives, and about how we think and make our final conclusions.  If we as traditional Protestants believe our core values are the most important, then there is more to consider than just the traditional litmus tests.