Jargon of the Redeemed: Priesthood of the Believer Wednesday, Apr 30 2014 

The human hunger for freedom cannot be suppressed forever. This insistence on liberty has been at the heart of the Baptist movement from its inception. … It is to the Lord Jesus Christ and to Him alone that the soul is accountable.–The late Dr. G. Earl Guinn, former college president and Baptist seminary professor

I have been enamored with this quotation since I stumbled across it last week. It drew me to a fresh consideration of the concept, since in the last 10 years priesthood of believer has been hijacked and abused by ultra-conservative religiosos who claim the truth of the concept with their words but then deny it by their actions of religious intolerance and power politics. (religioso = a religious bozo)

Priesthood of the Believer in History

The last sentence in Dr. Guinn’s quotation expresses the core belief of priesthood of the believer, a bedrock doctrine of most Protestants (and descendant groups that splintered off the original Protestants). That doctrine has resonated across centuries and through countless doctrinal declarations that began with the revolution of the Reformation.

But as Dr. Guinn expressed the concept, framing it with words such as freedom, liberty, and heart, the thinker understands how that doctrine took stronger root in the backwoods of the American frontier in the early days when those self-sufficient pioneers got hold of it. They were the early Baptists and Methodists, industrious and independent settlers who fell in love with priesthood of the believer because that doctrine underscored their secular values in this wide-open land of opportunity. Yes, priesthood of the believer came across as a perfect spiritual running mate with democracy: spiritual self-determination in church, political self-determination in government.

Corruption of the Doctrine

Unfortunately, the doctrine at some point got encumbered with dogma, for dogma is what men do with doctrine when men want to have their way. They taint the purity and decency of the doctrine as they saddle it with ritual or narrow it with creedal confessions to protect it from the challenge or scrutiny of differing minds.

A case in point is my own Southern Baptists’ love for voting. Ironically, the denomination that harkens the loudest to biblical conduct in ecclesiastical matters insists on this most unbiblical method of decision-making. From the local church to the regional association to the state convention to the national convention, Baptist bodies can’t make a decision without calling a vote. But where does their authority, the bible, suggest or lend support for the idea of voting as a means of determining God’s will? Then the worst danger of this disturbing priesthood of the majority is that leaders confuse carnal lust for control with spiritual perception of God’s will. Thus convinced of their rightness and your wrongness, if you vote against them, you’re obviously a tool of the Devil. (Even though you may have prayed sincerely for guidance and direction in the vote you made.) This practice is crazy!

Purification of the Doctrine

So how about a call for purifying the doctrine of priesthood of the believer? If my claim is that my soul is accountable to God for its ultimate salvation and eternal destiny, not depending on or needing the intervention or assistance of any other agent than God, I have to be equally yielding to my neighbors’ claims that their souls are accountable to God for the same salvation and destiny. The New Testament church we read about in Acts and the epistles is proof enough that well-intentioned truth-seekers will squabble and disagree to the point of nastiness (because, alas, we are frail dust!), but if we really espouse priesthood of the believer, we make room to have those disagreements without acrimony.

Of course, the basic condition for conflict to soften and fade away is a mutual respect. The basis for respect for one whose belief differs from mine should be the other’s sincere pursuit of divine truth. This respect is a simple and unifying trait, one that should tear down barriers that for centuries have caused antagonism between Protestants and Catholics, evangelical conservatives and mainstream moderates, denominational churches and non-denominational assemblies. Let’s get over it, recognizing that sincere and well-intentioned men for centuries have read the same bible and come away with very different views on belief and practice. In most cases, none can empirically prove that they’re right and others are wrong! So l argue that we allow fellowship to supplant the old antagonisms as we celebrate what we do agree on: Christ’s love, grace, and power to save. At the end of the day, worship, trust in the Savior, and an eternal destiny in glory stand as common denominators for fellowship and agreement among those who trust Christ for salvation.

We may still surround ourselves with like-minded friends; that’s our social instinct. But fellowship, peace, and unity with other Christians should result from our practice of priesthood of the believer as each side humbly recognizes the other’s God-given entitlement to pursue the infinite, mysterious, glorious, undefinable, uncontainable, and inexpressible fullness of divine truth. For at the end of the conversation, let’s be honest: If we agree on anything, it’s that, “Hey, ain’t nobody figured it all out yet.”

So through our unifying faith in Christ, let my faith + your faith = our faith, and may fellowship and worship abound as we exercise our priestly birthrights. Meanwhile, one day in the sweet by and by, we will understand it all.

Name Change: Inventio! Thursday, Apr 24 2014 

Plato was into inventio, too.  He viewed this first canon of rhetoric as a distinguishing feature that separated serious rhetoric from the foolishness of sophistry.

Plato was into inventio, too. He viewed this first canon of rhetoric as a distinguishing feature that separated serious rhetoric from the foolishness of sophistry.

Regular visitors to this blogging place (rare as they be!) might observe the name change: Now doing business under the title Inventio, the classical rhetorical term for invention. Inventio to the classical Greeks and Romans referred to the process of discovery, or invention, of persuasive arguments and ideas in rhetorical presentations.

The term has persisted in neo-classical theory as the pre-writing or discovery phase of the writing process. In that sense, I find the term fitting as a title for this blog, because I rarely publish fully developed and polished arguments. Rather, the posts typically play with ways of putting words down, sometimes tip-toing in the shallows of deep discourse but rarely wading too far out. The site provides a place for recreational reflection, a place to chronicle life’s trivial or sentimental moments, and above all, a collection of memoirs that my progeny can laugh and cry over after I finish this earthly soujourn. (Like Shakespeare’s “Shall I Compare Thee” concludes in the final couplet, “So long as men can breath or eyes can see, / So long lives this [blog], and this gives life to [me]. HaHa.

So inventio is a good name. A better name. And other than the name change, all the rest remains the same.

Monday’s Lune Monday, Apr 21 2014 

The day of the week that comes too often and lasts too long.

The day of the week that comes too often and lasts too long.

A lune, you say? Something I just learned this morning when I read my National Writing Project colleague’s blog post. A lune is a creative form for 3-line verses composed in syllable groupings of 5-3-5. Learn more about the form by visiting my colleague’s blog, linked here.
After I read up on it and rolled some ideas around in idle moments of distraction this afternoon, I settled on thoughts for Monday, my most despised day of the week. Here’s Monday’s Lune:

eight o’clock Monday,
a mean time.
Four o’clock, mellow.

Writing such compact ditties could become addictive, since days and hours are so filled with work and duty that the long periods of mental freedom required for longer composition just aren’t there.

Warning to Wildlife: Bad things happen when you cross Cajun highways! Tuesday, Apr 15 2014 

This bloke was  spared the instanteous fate of road kill: He was taken live as a future entree on the dinner table.

This bloke was spared the instanteous fate of road kill: He was taken live as a future entree on the dinner table.

Cross the highway at your own peril, Louisiana wildlife!

A deer flashed across Hwy. 14 right in front of me yesterday afternoon in broad daylight between Abbeville and Kaplan. It was a narrow miss, but He got away with it. Wish I had a picture, but it happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to react by taking my foot off the accelerator or braking. My first impulse was that it was a huge dog bounding out of the ditch and across the roadway, but when I saw the creature athletically and majestically launch himself across a deep and wide ditch on the other side, I knew the truth: This was no dog!

Now the unlucky turtle shown here wasn’t as fleet afoot crossing the South La. Highway not many miles from where my deer got away. Poor turtle was bagged by my neighbor Mike, who took the time to pull over and nab the fellow as he ambled across the highway. Mike’s intention is to serve him up for supper in a turtle sauce piquante. I asked the turtle to smile for the pic, but his response was snapping and hissing–evidently, he was in a bad humor.

What manner of man bloggeth? Tuesday, Apr 8 2014 

Man, thou art vain!

Man, thou art vain!

A sadist?

A masochist?

An exhibitionist?

Yea, verily, he who combineth three in one, for surely he is sadist, as he is wont to inflict ill-written verse on the eyes and ears of innocent readers; and surely he is masochist, so much that he tortureth his mind night and day to invent topics and essays, even to the point of distraction; and forsooth, exhibitionist moreover, for why would he inflict words and poems on such an audience save to appease his vanity?

Yea, that manner of man bloggeth.

Surely, not I!