The Church I Want

rSo what kind of church do I want? Here is what I dream about, think about, ponder about, wish for, hope for and look out for. This is the kind of church I would start; the kind of church I would attend.




I want a church oozing with the gospel of Jesus.

gSo often in Christendom we get lost in the atonement aspect of the gospel. We think in narrow terms of a legal transaction. God tells us a far deeper, richer and more meaningful gospel in the pages of the bible however.

God’s measuring line is justice. I want a church that cares about justice, and justice of all kinds. I want a compassionate church full of people who feel and express those feelings.

God’s plumb line is righteousness. I want a church who is centered on Christ, on the righteousness of Christ, who alone is our Overseer, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. I want a church who is transparent enough that I see Jesus and what Jesus is doing today, and what Jesus did in the past.

I want a church who lives, breathes and sleeps the gospel messages of grace, peace, glory of Christ, life, salvation, kingdom of God, forgiveness, fulfillment, freedom and rest. God tells us that the gospel is about Jesus.  Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel… (2 Timothy 2:1-26). I want a church that has doctrines deeply rooted in telling the facts of two amazing events that make up the gospel: Jesus came to life after death and Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies in the Jewish faith about a Messiah. I want a church that understands that preaching the gospel of Jesus has more to do with the empty tomb and the prophecies than about a legal transaction.

I want a church who is all about the mission of love. To love everyone. To explore how Jesus loved so we can learn to love ourselves, our friends, our enemies, those we don’t like, those we think are crazy, those who are marginalized and anyone we come in contact with.

I want a church who believes God is one God and at the same time Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I want a church who believes with grace and acts with love. I want a church that is all about the
ministry of reconciliation, a church who loves exploring each person’s giftedness and appointing leaders who display evidence of anointing by the Holy Spirit.

I want a church who delights in humanity.


I want a church who respsects personal boundaries, who is filled with people who are not afraid to be vulnerable and at the same time provides a safe haven for those who  are not ready to be vulnerable. I want a church who is not afraid of the messy, ugly and crazy parts of humanity.

I want a church who welcomes men and women, who sees neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither men nor women, neither straight nor gay. I want a church who openly embraces women in leadership, LGBT people in leadership and makes room for the mentally ill, the depressed and the challenged in all kinds of ways. I want a church who welcomes the misfit, the hot mess, the cool GQ and anyone who wanders into their company.

I want a church who will stop everything if even one person needs help. I want a church who will get the best out of all of us, who won’t settle for the status quo, who will stop for anyone who can’t keep up and who will not tolerate harm to anyone in any way, whether physically, mentally, emotionally, financially or spiritually.

I want a church that welcomes both the children and the aged, the weak and the strong. I want a church who loves humans as much as God loves humans.

I want a church with courageous followers of Jesus.

cI want a church with people who strive to follow Jesus and who are ok with those who have no idea what that means. I want a church full of courageous people who can be there when I’m not courageous.

I want a church who seeks the gifts of imperfection and live with courage, compassion and connection.

I want a church who is more about listening to the Holy Spirit than supervising morality, who is connected to the whole church, Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox and the “nones”. I want a church made up of people who face the facts of reality, who are courageous enough to call out something if someting is bad, and say it’s bad, and then learn what’s good if it’s good. I want a church courageous enough to make plans, allow those plans to be challenged and then change those plans when necessary.

I want a church connected to the vast Christian church history. I want a church who recognizes our connections with other faiths, with the Jew, the Muslim, the Hindu and all kinds of other religious faiths.

I want a church who surrenders to the Lordship of Jesus, who acts like Jesus is indeed the Lord of the church, who as all authority and power and glory.

What kind of church do you want?




  1. Terry Lopez


    I also look for compassion and understanding, especially in church.

    I really didn’t want to come back here, but after loooong consideration, I owe it to you and also to me. You all think you know all about me, because of a handful of posts I’ve posted here. But I thought I should be so kind to you to let you know my life, so that you would really know who I am instead of who you misrepresent me to be.

    As I shared in an earlier post my father was an alcoholic. He was also a very angry and abusive man and he beat my mother regularly. So when I was 6, she had had enough and divorced him. Well, in the 60’s my father was given visitation rights, despite his abusive record towards my mother. Well on one of these visitations he promised to take me and my sister Jeannette to Disneyland. (I have two sisters. I’m the oldest, then Jeannette and finally, Kim. Kim didn’t go because she was only an infant). We were really excited. But unfortunately that’s not where my father took us. Instead, he had plans to take us and never bring us back to my mother. And so for the next three years we moved from place to place, sometimes staying in a place a couple of days, sometimes a little longer. Like you Joe, my father was a ‘print man’, actually did color mixing or something (I really don’t understand truthfully). My father’s brother’s (my uncles) also were in the business and one still owns a print shop here in Reseda (or maybe Tarzana, or Northridge, but I digress).

    Well, my mother and grandmother hired private detectives to find us, but they had no luck. Part of the reason was my father was working in his brothers print shops ‘under the table’ (my father’s family were accomplices to what he was doing) and he never registered me for school (at the time I wasn’t complaining, actually I was glad I didn’t have to go.) My sister was only 4, so she could stay home anyways. So my father was under the radar sort of. Well, for the first year, when my father was at work, me and my sister would look out for ourselves. Well this lasted for about a year when my father met another woman and they soon had a child together. Well, this is when things started getting bad. You see, this woman didn’t like me and my sister very much and she would beat us quite regularly. She was an alcoholic also and they had met in a bar. She really didn’t want to take care of us. But she really loved her own child (strangely, I don’t remember whether if it was a boy or a girl, nor the child’s name. It’s kind of strange what your mind shuts out in order to protect itself.) Well, I didn’t resent her for loving the baby, and I actually thought I must be a bad child because she always beat us for our child mistakes, like spilling a glass of juice or milk or some such thing. But when my father came home, her demeanor would change completely. I should share here that me and my sister used to play a game, (if you want to call it that), where we would play ‘hide and seek’ from our step-mother. We would hide in the closet under a huge pile of filthy, unwashed clothes and pretend we weren’t there. I remember looking through the crack in the closet door and waiting to see if I saw her shadow in the room. If so, we would try and hold our breath and be as still as we could, hoping she wouldn’t open the door and rummage through the laundry that should have been washed, but never was and find us and start beating us for who knows what. I should share also here, I remember one time my sister did not want to play our favorite game and stayed in the bedroom playing, while I hid alone in the closet and our step-mother on one of her daily drunk episodes, came in and found my sister all alone and beat her severely. I remember sitting in the closet crying and angry and fearful. I wanted to go and help her, but I never did. I just hid under those warm, smelly pile of clothes wishing it would all end. It was one of those “Hallelujah” moments that Mark likes to interject so often on this website… (I should also share that my little ‘game of hide and seek’ didn’t end after I was finally taken from my father. The first few months after I was returned to my mother, I would sleep in the closet under a pile of washed clothing that I would take from my dresser drawer and pile into the closet to hide under.) Well, this abuse with my step mother went on for about a year. During that time my father’s drinking problem got worse and worse and they began fighting more and more violently and finally she had enough and left, just like my mother did. At first, me and my sister were so happy that she was gone. No longer were we going to be beat. And we thought finally, we would have a happy life with our father. But that wasn’t going to be the case. That’s because my father’s alcoholism got progressively worse, so bad that he used all the money he made to drink and had nothing left over for food, well at least not for me and my sister…

    I still remember the night before we were finally taken away from my dad. That night me and my sister were lying down together in bed and we hadn’t eaten anything that day. And my 6 yr old sister was next to me crying because her stomach hurt from not eating. I remember telling her, “Sis, don’t cry. I promise I’ll look after you.” (that was the gist of what I told her, I don’t remember the exact words). Can I get a “Hallelujah” from Mark? The next morning I went to our neighbor with an empty bowl and an empty milk carton and begged them to give me some milk and cereal so me and my sister could eat. Well, that raised a red flag with them and they called the police. When the police arrived they checked out our home and found it ‘unsanitary’ and ‘unlivable’. The physical abuse had stopped once my step-mother left, so no bruises, marks and injury were found on us at this time. So they took us from our father and placed us in a place called, “MacLaren Hall”. I found a website that tells what MacLaren Hall was (it was closed in 2003-I didn’t realize that until I looked at this website). Here’s what they say about the place, “MacLaren Hall was a Los Angeles County child protection institution for abused, unwanted, abandoned, orphaned, and neglected children.”

    Here’s the web address:

    The pictures on that site, when I first went there, it brought back lots of “Hallelujah” moments for me… It reminded me of a Christmas party at MacLaren Hall (actually the only Christmas I spent there) where we sat around a table like that and we ate and perhaps had cake or some dessert; and I remember, we each got a present, not from family members, because we were the abused, unwanted, abandoned, orphaned and neglected, but from donations from who knows where. I received a balsa wood wind up propellor airplane. It wasn’t very much, but I distinctly remember being so happy I received a gift.

    Here, I should share a little about MacLaren Hall, it started out for abused, unwanted, abandoned, orphaned and neglected children, but very quickly it became the overflow for the Los Angeles County Juvenile Hall. So, inside MacLaren Hall you had mixed together the predators and the preyed upon. The reason I bring this up is because that airplane I received as a gift, was taken from me by another boy and when I told the staff and given it back, later he took the plane and broke it. I felt helpless in that place. I had no where to turn. I quickly came to the conclusion that the world is a really hateful and mean place. My father didn’t take care of us, and now even children my own age were victimizing me. It taught me to never trust anyone, it also taught me to hate this world and everyone in it…

    Well eventually (and not too terribly long) my mother was found and their investigation into everything concluded. And they brought her to come and take us back home with her. But she did something interesting. She came into the room with each of us separately and she basically said, “I love you Terry and I want you to come home, but do you want to?” Well, I immediately said, “Yes”, but strangely my sister said, “No.” She had been poisoned by my father to believe that our mother did not love us and that she had given us to him. She believed it, but I was old enough to remember what really happened So my mother gave my sister up for adoption. I did not have any contact with her for 12 years, until she became 18, and we met and reunited. But after we reunited I learned that my father had done a terrible thing and had sexually abused my sister, which I was unaware of. But I did remember what I had said to my sister so many years before, “Sis, I will look after you.” And I didn’t… That’s a terrible load of luggage to have to carry, but I did for a very, very long time…

    Now, I must share if you met my sister, at first you would think nothing is wrong with her, but very quickly you will begin to notice that she acts like a young, young girl, instead of a grown woman, who is in her 40’s. She loves collecting stuffed animals and toys (from McDonald’s of all places…) and she will talk to you about Baseball endlessly. She also doesn’t dress like a woman should, she dresses more like a man, she doesn’t dress to attract, but to turn it away from her. My sister will never be the same because of what our father did to her.

    Now for some, that would be the end of the story. And more than enough for one story, but mine didn’t end there. While me and my sister were away, my mother met another man and married him. He is another interesting man. He was a violent man, like my father, but not nearly as bad. He was a mid level drug dealer. He dealt drugs to street dealers. And he dealt with some very interesting people. There was ALWAYS large quantities of drugs in my home. Upwards of a kilo of Cocaine, (Coke was really starting to hit its stride at this time) and pounds and pounds of weed. At that time, Acapulco Gold and Sinsemilla were the ‘choice’ bud. Today it’s considered a joke, but at that time it was primo. I remember one time coming home from school and I see one of my father’s friends pull up and bring into the house a bag for a suit, like you take on a flight; when I got into the house, it was open and inside there had to be 20-30 pounds of Acapulco Gold, (I’m guessing the guy had just come from Mexico). Another time, a guy came to our house with boxes and boxes of hamburger patties, steaks, hotdogs. He had robbed a butcher shop not to far from our house and he came to ‘trade’ the meat for drugs. I share this to give you an idea of what my home life was like when I returned to my mother. There were always people that my father dealt with coming over and they would buy from him and of course they would all ‘sample’ the product. I used to get contact highs as often as I took a shower… But I wasn’t a teenager at this time…

    Well, like I said my step father was abusive, but more mentally abusive than anything. I used to come home and stay in my bedroom all day long playing by myself, in order to stay away from him and because I didn’t have any friends. Well, he used to criticize and emotionally abuse my mother and finally she had enough, so one day she decided she was going to end her life. She took some Quaaludes (at least that’s what I think it was). I really don’t know if she took enough to actually kill herself, but as a young boy, those distinctions kind of get lost in the mix… Well, I remember my step father driving her to the hospital and I was in the back seat with her. And I remember him telling me to not let her fall asleep, otherwise she may not wake up. The windows were all open and I kept talking to my mother, trying to keep her alert. I remember being so terrified that my mother would close her eyes and would never wake up. My mother kept closing her eyes and asking me to let her sleep and I kept begging her not to; all the while crying, thinking I’m going to lose my mother. Again, not one of those “Hallelujah” moments… My mother did not die that day, she’s still alive. We made it to the hospital and I guess they pumped her stomach (I’m not really sure).

    Well, my mother finally left him, but it wasn’t because of the mental or physical abuse, my stepfather actually slept with my uncle’s wife (she was married to my mom’s brother). That one act ruined two marriages. My mom was afraid of him so when he wasn’t home, she took a large substantial amount of cash (he always had large sums at home) and took me, my other sister Kim and some of our clothing and we got into an old International Harvester Travelall and we left. (we used the Travelall to go camping on weekends. Another, quick side story. We used to go to this hot spring called Deep Creek. Basically, a nudist hot spring. As a young boy, not quite a teen, it was exciting seeing young naked women, but it was also disgusting to see your mother parading naked around literally a hundred plus strangers… I think that is where my lifelong problem with sexual immorality began. That and my step father giving me all his old Playboy and other porn mags, this all started again while still not a teen. I had them stacked in my bedroom closet…) Well I digress… Back to the real story.

    My mother also left with this young woman, who was the sister of one of my father’s drug friends. They were originally from Massachusetts, but the brother moved out to Los Angeles. And his sister came to stay with him for a while. Well, her and my mom became good friends, so much so that after leaving my step-father, my mother and this woman became lovers… My mother wanted to get as far away from my stepfather as possible and so we travelled cross country all the way to Massachusetts. I started high school in Turner’s Fall’s, Mass. The woman who was my mother’s lover was going to school at the time at the Kodak Institute (she was a photographer). Well, their relationship only lasted 6 months or so, and then we moved to Washington State. We moved in with my mother’s mother and her new husband. This started a journey where I went to 7 DIFFERENT high schools in 3 different states: Mass., Washington State and California. Btw, I never did graduate high school. My GPA was 1.69. Needless, to say my childhood was a little bit ‘bumpy’. And strangely, some of it still effects me to this day… Hmmm… Go figure…

    I joined the army because my grandfather wasn’t going to allow me to be a ‘bum’ like he considered his own sons, who also lived with us. So he took me to the recruiting station and I joined the army. I became an Airborne Paratrooper. I wanted to be a tough guy… Well, up till this time, I had stayed away from alcohol and drugs, because I had seen what it had done to my family. But strangely, when I got in the army that all changed. I wanted to belong and fit in and start a new life and forget my past. So I started drinking and taking drugs, including Cocaine and anything else anyone would give me. I learned I’m really just as weak as my father and step father. But, at least at this time, I didn’t abuse anyone… That would come later…

    After the army I came home to California, and bounced around from one dead end job to the next. Finally, after working like a dog as a tile setter’s helper, I decided I wanted to go to college, but I had never graduated high school (I got my GED while in the Army), so I had to go to community college. It was there that I met the woman who taught me the Bible and treated me like a son… The same woman who gave me her own son’s bedroom after I got married because I had absolutely zero money for a place of my own… The missionaries always treated me with respect and God’s love. (as good as any human being ever can…). I’ve never shared this whole story with anyone before, not even them. Parts of it, but not in the great detail I am sharing right now. I will NEVER accept UBF as a cult or cult-like group. Because for me personally, those in this ministry were the instrument that God used to truly SAVE ME!!! Strangely, I have a very high radar for those who are manipulative and abusive, especially towards me and even others. What you have experienced is obviously widespread, but it is not throughout the ministry. I testify to that. If I had seen or experienced it, I would have left looooooooooooooooooooooooooong ago… Los Angeles is the 2nd largest chapter in the United States, it is not marginalized and nor was it neglected as some might think. Msn. Samuel Lee I was told kept in constant contact with Msn. Isaac. I remember Msn. Samuel Lee wanted Msn. Isaac to quit his full time job with the bank and focus on the ministry. Msn. Isaac declined to do so. It didn’t affect his position in the ministry.

    Now, you all think that I am irresponsible and should ‘speak up’ about things that I have not been a part of. You pointed out that I have created a protective bubble around myself, and insinuate that I am selfish for doing so. (Hmm… I wonder why???) You think that you know me. But you don’t know me. You don’t have a clue, who I am, or what I am about or what I have gone through. You may think I have a moral obligation to speak up, but that is not the case at all. I stopped ALL positions of leadership because I don’t do well in conflict. (For the life of me, I can’t understand why??? Hmm… Go figure…). In reality when I get into conflict situations, I completely shut down. I either get irrationally angry or deeply depressed. Strangely, after all I’ve been through, do you know what I’m looking for? Peace, love, harmony. Go figure… I joined meetings where people whom I love and respect would disagree with just about everything. I know they all mean well, but they have honest and sincere differences of opinion and they begin to think the worst of each other (and worst of all, I did to…). I began to build up resentment and angry and mistrust with people who I truly love and respect. It was really affecting my mentally, spiritually and physically. It was tearing my personal faith apart. The only place I found refuge from the pain of seeing this was my family. I resigned my positions completely for my own spiritual health. I told you I would NEVER look at the testimonies from 1971. I don’t owe anyone to do so. It’s not going to help them, and it certainly isn’t going to help me. I told Brian he is a better man than me, and I did mean it. He is able to do something I’m unable to do and that is stand in the middle of conflict. I can’t… And no matter of telling me, “I should”, or “It’s your moral obligation” or any other thing is going to change that. And I shouldn’t be judged because I don’t… I’m not an enabler. I’m not a cult member. I’m a broken, shriveled man, who is trying the best he can to live as God’s son… Nothing more and nothing less… There are others in this ministry who I’m sure have experienced worse than I. And all of them are ‘worthy’ of you… They may not speak up, but remain ‘silent’, for reasons you don’t understand. I honestly don’t blame many for not coming here and participating, because you guys in your great zeal and burning desire to ‘right’ the wrongs you have experienced or know, bulldoze them and shut them down and accuse them of ‘hypocrisy’ and so on… Ironically, becoming very similar to those you criticize, obviously not as systemic or sever, but surely the traces are there and you can’t deny it. I shared time and time again, you can’t know the motives or reasons for why people do what they do, but you can share what they have done. That’s what you should focus on, and not on their motives, because it’s not right.

    I told all of you I’m not against what you are sharing. I am very happy that you bring out the problems of the ministry. I’m not against it. But I will tell you, the story that had the most impact on me was Joe’s story about what Msn. Samuel Lee did to his lovely wife, Sharon. That was personal and resonate’s. But much of what is criticized is a matter of method’s, than real content. I’ve seen that you guys try and build your case of grievances and abuse, using everything, and sometimes doing so wrongly (like considering me an enabler; or saying Msn. Samuel Lee invented responsive reading). Being a person who is really familiar with abuse, I have an idea how people react towards others. I was so angry and thought everyone owed me something and that the world was unfair and I painted a picture of people that wasn’t true, because I could not see myself truly. I thought I had every right to think the way I did, because I was victimized, but I learned I really am no different than anyone else, including those who hurt me. I’ve shared here my life as a victim, but strangely, I also became I victimizer. I NEVER thought I would become that, but I did. And on another post I will share that part of my life as well, so that you can see that I am not just transparent and vulnerable to my trauma’s, but also transparent to my weaknesses as well; that I am just as flawed as those who victimized me. I did not show sympathy to all of you deliberately, because that’s only going to feed your anger and self righteous indignation (and please stop saying you aren’t, it’s not true-the desire to go and flip tables and calling people here ‘hypocrites’ and judging everyone’s motives proves otherwise…). I wasn’t going to feed into that. You guys have been consumed with anger, frustration and understandably so, but you can’t live in it. What you guys are doing is good, but don’t go and ruin it by becoming like those you are rightly bringing to light their deeds. You should also be able to see the good points of this ministry. Not everything in this ministry is bad, it’s not true.

    When I asked my very first question, “Why did David sing praises about Saul?” Many thought I was trying to say, don’t criticize Msn. Samuel Lee, that he is the “Lord’s anointed”, but I never had that in mind at all. And in reality, that is not what that passage teaches at all. David didn’t strike Saul, and it clearly says why, “Saul is the Lord’s anointed”, but in the passage where he sings praises of Saul, he never mentions the reason the people should remember him was because he was the “The Lord’s anointed”, that is not mentioned at all. But what was mentioned and the rational and reason was because he had done good things for the people. David did not let the people get consumed in their self righteous anger, nor did he. Instead, he was able to see Saul’s good points, and wanted the people to see them also. That was an honest assessment. He also told the people of Jabesh Gilead that paid honor to Saul it was a good thing, but to ALSO treat their new king with the SAME respect as well. I think you guys could learn a thing or two from David. I’m not asking you to ignore the problems or issues, but don’t behave like UBF did nothing good either. Neither is true.

    One last thing: my dog Kuma, was found by one of the brothers who lives in the basement of our house on the side of the freeway. He called me after picking him up if I would take him, because he knew my sons have wanted a dog for a long time, but I wouldn’t allow them one (he is my two youngest sons Bible teacher). He told me that if I didn’t want him, he understood, he would take him to the pound. Well, that kind of forced my hand, I felt like if I said, “I don’t want him”, I was sentencing the dog to destruction. So I told him bring him over. Me and my whole family looooove him. I couldn’t have chosen a better dog. I really feel he is a gift from God to me and my family. When I take him for walks every day. I’m always filled with such thankfulness and gratefulness to God. My whole life I wanted just a ‘normal’ life (whatever that is…). And strangely, God has given me everything I never had growing up. I have the best wife (for me), the best 5 sons (for me), the best dog (for me), the best church (for me), the best of everything. God has truly blessed my life and even all of the things I went through when I was young, I now realize were also part of God’s great blessing on my life. It made me who I am today. Brian, I told you that you are better than me, and like I said you are. But Brian, I’m also better than you. You have great strengths that God has given you, and I can’t exercise those gifts, but I also have been given great gifts by God that you can’t exercise. It’s only together that we can truly become one, just as our God is.

    I truly love all you guys, but please don’t become what you are trying to correct…

  2. Terry Lopez


    I should also let it be known that I resigned my position as an elder two weeks ago. I really am trying to lead a quiet, peaceful life that I can bear…

  3. Terry, I want a church where people can share like you just shared. Your story is deep, as all of our stories are. Thank you for such an intimate look into your life. Your warnings about anger are valid, and I am glad you expressed your heart here. Baring our soul is not easy. Grace and peace.

  4. Terry Lopez


    My real hearts desire is that God would lead you to the kind of church that you dream of. I pray that for all here who have been hurt by this ministry. I feel very sorry and hope all of you can find real peace, and healing and also find forgiveness to those who wronged you so badly.

    I pray also that our church leaders will be able to understand and would be able to respond properly and make the changes that need to be made. I really pray there can be a return to our first love.

  5. Hi Brian,
    This is a neat thought experiment you pose for people to consider.
    I have often raised the same thought experiment in terms of what I would do if I were Pope. I think to myself, “If I were Pope.. I would excommunicate this and that person..condemn Barack Obama and the democratic party as well the conservative party… give more money to the poor… emphasize THIS or THAT… create a UBF ordinate to welcome JohnY into the CC. etc.. etc..

    While I enjoy thinking about this, I find that this type of thinking often fills me with pride and arrogance. It makes me feel that my way would be the best way and this spiritual leader is totally wrong or not taking the best approach. IN short, one thing that hit’s me about thinking this way is that instead of spending my time thinking about the Church I want I should instead search for and remain true to Christ’s Church no matter how ugly it may look at times.

    I am not saying that you shouldnt feel free to express your view for a Church or raise objections against Church X or Church Y. Rather, I am making the point that if Christ did leave us a Church, we should seek out that Church and remain true to it so long as it is theologically correct. God rests his Church (whatever that may be) on the shoulders of sinful men which gives God all the more glory for not allowing the gates of Hell to prevail against it.

    • By the way, I hope my reply didnt come off as an attempt to somehow shame or humiliate you. Your article comes off to me as an honest and vulnerable expression of your hearts desire for the Church that Christ established. I appreciate your openness to expressing yourself in such a vulnerable manner.

      My only point is that this line of thinking *CAN* create the opportunity for the devil to create pride in our heart. So I think that in expressing this vulnerability, we should be mindful to keep our intentions in mind. Thank you for sharing your open heart with this community.

  6. Hey Gerardo and welcome back! I was not offended by your comments; I love the honesty you express. Your warnings against pride are valid, just as Terry’s warnings against anger are valid.

    I’m not talking about starting my own religion :) I speak of what I would envision a local expression of the body of Christ to be. Another way to express my thoughts would be: I want a church led by Pope Francis.

    [By the way, nice try to get a conversation going about hell on your article…that would surely spark another 100 comments or so!]

    • Thanks Brian. Pope Francis is a very interesting figure. I am still trying to figure him out. =)

      Many Orthodox Catholics are confused by him. I think they generally believe he is orthodox but his comments in recent interviews leave many open holes for the media to claim: “Pope Approved of Abortion” and “Pope wants to create same sex marriage.”

      He seems like a good and holy man who speaks volumes with his actions but he is not verbally as refined as Pope Benedict. =)

  7. Brian, I agree with the article fully except some sentences. I don’t want a church “who sees neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither men nor women, neither straight nor gay…”. And I don’t want a church “who recognizes our connections with other faiths, with the Jew, the Muslim, the Hindu and all kinds of other religious faiths.”

    I like watching NT Wright more and more. About “men and women” he says that Judaism was a religion with men’s pride (only men could be circumcised) but Christianity accepted men and women to be baptized alike. Women can be Christian not less than men and they are equal in the Kingdom though they have different functions.

    And I read commentaries on Matthew 5:17-48. I believe we are saved by grace but the Law hasn’t changed and as the children of God in Jesus we should live and grow in our inner puruty and holiness and love to God and to the neighbor according to the standards of the Law (not by the Law, not by the power of the Law, but by the power of the Holy Spirit which is the resurrection power; and not to be saved but as we were saved into a new life which corresponds with the Law). A mean those parts of the Law which speak about LGBT didn’t dissappear neither were cancelled by Jesus but approved. Such people can be welcomed to a church but as sinners like everyone else who should repent and call the name of Lord to be saved and to receive a NEW life in Jesus. I believe that Jesus is able to save LGBT (even and especially in the “orientation” issue) with the resurrrection power the same way He saves drug/alcohol addicts, “straight” sinners from every kind of sin (and not “straight” as well for there are many testomonies of being saved from former LGBT people).

    About other faiths I have some friends of other faiths and talk to some of them but I can’t see any evidence that they are “new” people and are saved. At best they are legalistic and try to follow some laws but there is so much of weakness and hypocrisy in their lives. There is no “power of God for salvation” in them just human efforts.

    • Amen, I agree with you, Vitaly. I also agree with some of the spirit of Brian’s posting: as a Christian, I want people to know me more for what I’m for than what I’m against. And while I have the truth in Jesus, who is the Truth, that doesn’t mean I have all the answers. I have learned a great deal about myself, humanity, and the depths of the grace of God through the relationships I’ve formed with people of other faiths. Especially, I learn the shallowness of my love and the weakness of my imitation of my Lord’s example when I seek only to proselytize and not to befriend.

  8. Vitay,

    “Women can be Christian not less than men and they are equal in the Kingdom though they have different functions.”

    Can you explain this contradiction? How can men be equal with women if they have different functions? Who decides what those functions are?

    “I believe we are saved by grace but the Law hasn’t changed”

    Is the Law then our supervisor? Should Christians strive to obey the Law then? If the Law “didn’t dissappear neither were cancelled by Jesus but approved” then what do we do with things like Deuteronomy 21:18-21? Will you stone your disobedient children to death? Should that be our law of the land?

    I believe the answer is in understanding fulfillment. I believe we are saved by grace and the Law and Prophets were fulfilled, the written code nailed to the cross, abolishing in the flesh of Jesus and no longer our supervisor. I believe the Law was a shadow of the good things that wouuld come–not the realities themselves. I believe the Law can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly, do anything to make us perfect. I believe the Holy Spirit is our new supervisor and the law of love written on our hearts as believers. I believe that love is the fulfillment of the Law and that the only outstanding debt is not obedience but love.

  9. Brian,

    Men and women are equal in being baptized and havibg the Kingdom. They have different functions and it was decided so by the Creator. It is good for men to be men and for women to be women. (btw Wright speaks about that as well and I like what he says)

    The Law is not our supervisor. The Law is the Law of love. And Deut.21 is a description of this love. (btw I believe that the dissobedience of the children meant not in slight matters but in the matter of worshiping God or idols, in the matter of obedience to God and His Law expressed by parents). The essence of the Law is the love to God and the love to the neighbour. We were enemies of this Law and couldn’t obey it but in Jesus we were born God’s children who are naturally growing in the Holy Spirit according to the perfect Law.

    “to make us perfect”. The Law couldn’t, what about Jesus and the Holy Spirit? And “perfect” in love according to what? According to the Law of love.

    “I believe the Law was a shadow of the good things that wouuld come–not the realities themselves”. And I believe that the Law was the shadow of the realities that came in Jesus. My belief is based on Mt.5:17-20. In Jesus our inner nature is purified to the very depths of the heart so that we really love and naturally and sincerely follow the Law (we like it and not just trying to formally obey it).

    • Thanks for the thoughtful response Vitaly. I think there is much to ponder here. I feel like I agree with the essence of what you say.

      “In Jesus our inner nature is purified to the very depths of the heart so that we really love and naturally and sincerely follow the Law (we like it and not just trying to formally obey it).”

      I’m not following your reasoning here though. What happens when we don’t naturally follow the Law?

      The bigger question to me is this: What does it mean that Jesus fulfilled the Prophets? I’ve not read or heard much about this.

  10. Mark Mederich

    the church we must have is true to God, assistive to man