Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 32 Comments

According to the Bible, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  But the Rev. Dan Webster thinks that’s one more thing Scripture writers screwed up:

The Great Commission more recently has been used by some conservative and breakaway groups as a litmus test to determine in their mind just how Christian one really is.

What is often overlooked are Jesus’ words in verse 20 about teaching those new disciples “everything that I have commanded you.” Everything would include the Great Commandment: to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.

But what is also overlooked is how Jesus got to that final instruction to his disciples because he didn’t start out that way.

So why did God Incarnate change His mind anyway?  Well there was this Syro-Phoenician woman, see, and…

So what happened to Jesus? Well, there was that uppity Canaanite woman a few chapters later (Matthew 15:21-28) who came shouting that her daughter was ill and would the “Son of David” please heal her. We see a different kind of Jesus, I suspect, that most of us would not like. He ignores her, which would have been acceptable in that culture given the norms of men not speaking to women in public. His disciples urge him to send her away. But she pleads with him. His response: “I’ve been sent only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel.”

The Son of the Living God was nasty to her and everything.

She kneels before him and begs. His response borders on rude and condescending: “It is not good to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

But she taught God In-Freakin’-Carnate a thing or two.

Here we see a side of Jesus we’d rather not. He has just called her a dog as well as the indigenous people of Canaan. Was she insulted? If so we don’t know. But she does challenge Jesus saying, “Yes, Lord. But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

So Our Lord learned something from her that He didn’t know.

That is a turning point in Jesus’ whole ministry. From then on this gospel we have been given became available to everyone. That encounter with an uppity Gentile woman changed Jesus forever.

Or…or…or…He directed her faith to where it was supposed to go.  You might say that this was a teachable moment, Dan.

So when we are challenged by a changing culture, changing neighborhoods and changing attitudes, why do our congregations not change? Are we afraid? Might we fail? Might we do something wrong? All understandable responses. But Jesus promises in Matthew to be with us always.

How about because letting the culture determine our theology means that we’ll eventually turn out as weak, useless and ineffective as the Episcopalians currently are?

Jesus changed.


What’s stopping us?

See above.

32 Comments to HEBREWS 13:8

Fr. Will McQueen
June 28, 2011

Saw this today, and what’s so bad is that I actually heard a sermon using this exact same logic. I guess what’s really going on is that God was in Christ reconciling himself to the world. Isn’t that what this heretic is advocating. God will not be mocked.

June 28, 2011

Gosh, that is so chilling to see a *priest* speak of Jesus that way. “Jesus learned.” “Jesus changed”.

Why would anyone want to stake their eternal salvation on such a wussy dummy???

June 28, 2011

Jesus the Word invented rhetorical questions before the universe was created, whereas this guy’s never heard of ’em. Yet this guy dares condescend to the Son.

Eheheh. Awkward.

Daniel Muller
June 28, 2011

Does Webster confuse all teachers with their most sophomoric students?

June 29, 2011

The trouble is that this nicey-nicey language about a wimpy Jesus is only a precursor to the jackboot. First comes the nice, very badly argued, ‘invitation’ to ‘change.’

When people do not change immediately to fit with the new thinking, then comes re-education. Also disguised as ‘conversation.’

When people refuse to ‘listen’ and to change then comes legislation and ruthless persecution. Total compliance is then demanded See section 5 of the Public order Act in the UK, and the workings of the TEC. Oh, and any communist state.

This might seem like weak, wishy washy reasoning to sell a weak, wishy wishy Jesus. But actually, it is a bridgehead. To accept this kind of ‘argument’ is to effectively drop the divinity of Jesus. It is heresy of the worse kind. But it is also the velvet glove on the iron fist. If you do not accept the invitation to change you will be compelled.

Old Dan is in the Episcopal ‘Church.’ He knows that.

Allen Lewis
June 29, 2011

Ah the Syro-Phonecian woman meme. How droll, worn, dated, unoriginal and non-apropos!

Stupid liberals. Cannot any of these people come up with their own arguments?

June 29, 2011

No chance at all that Jesus was using the Syro-Phonecian woman to teach his own disciples a lesson or two: about the “gentile dogs” being more appreciative of his mission than the “chosen people” of whom his disciples formed a part, and whose prejuduces he was challenging. But then Jesus was just a narrow-minded bigoted Jew was he not, and His mission was to only save the Jews?

June 29, 2011

The fact that TEC’s website keeps running these idiotic commentaries you highlight here says volumes about TEC. And they wonder why attendance and revenue are down!

Timothy Fountain
June 29, 2011

Jesus was using a normal rabbinic method – would be converts (to Judaism) were to be discouraged three times in order to test their sincerity and resolve.

This comes through clearly in Matthew’s account: 1) He ignores her, 2) He “stage whispers” that he is only there for Israelites, acting as if she’s not even there, 3) He makes the “dogs” comment.

In the first comment on this thread, CarolynP rightly asks “Why would anyone want to stake their eternal salvation on such a wussy dummy???” I think the answer is in II Timothy 4:3, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions…” He’s probably serving people who think themselves too educated, reasonable, modern, etc. to worry about “eternal salvation” anyway. Jesus is just a symbol to help them out with their feelings or politics (which tend to be the same thing).

Martial Artist
June 29, 2011

I am not sure how to break the news to everyone here, but, in my experience, the theological education of Episcopal clergy in the past several decades has been, to put it extremely mildly, seriously deficient. This is simply one example of the result, and I am confident that a fair number of you may have seen your own examples, at one time or another.

And it has been going steadily downhill in that regard since at least the 1980s.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

June 29, 2011

Or, you know, Dan – maybe the Canaanite woman is supposed to remind us of Genesis 18:20-33?

Where Abraham gets God to agree to spare Sodom if fifty righteous people are found there, and then bargains Him down from fifty to ten?

I suppose you could say Abraham taught God the Father, Creator of the Universe, the Ancient of Days, I AM, who laid out the foundations of the earth when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Or, possibly, being the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus might have remembered that episode (what with the whole “Before Abraham was, I am” thing?)

God may possibly like it when we ask Him for mercy and behave to Him as our Father and we His children?

(It’s hard lines when a Catholic knows more about the Bible than a minister of a Protestant religion).


June 29, 2011

Argh – point to above was that possibly Abraham taught God things God did not already know and changed Him forever, or maybe, just maybe, that was God’s whole intention from the beginning?

June 29, 2011

I concur with Martial Artist’s assessment about theological education. Once in the early ’70s in a diocese that shall not be named I asked a canon of the cathedral I attended in those days to name some Episcopal theologians. His response was to laugh. (This was, after all, at a coffee hour.) The enormity of what that portended was not apparent at the time.

The young fogey
June 29, 2011

If I were a betting man I’d try wagering when most of the mainline will officially adopt such heresy, voting themselves out of Christianity/going unitarian. They’ll do it very subtly. They won’t come out and say ‘we’re not Christian anymore’ but make the longstanding requirement on paper of belief in the content of the creeds optional. (The Neuhaus principle eventually would kick in.)

sybil marshall
June 29, 2011

Transformation the leftoids can believe in! LOL

June 29, 2011

Don’t jump on this poor ignorant, barely-educated priest. He’s only what Episcopal seminaries have made him.

Blame the Bishops who allowed him to be ‘ordained’.

Blame the Bishops who are gleefully swishing, smirking and simpering around their cathedrals (especially in NY State) because now unbiblical ‘same-sex’ marriages’ can be performed in their dioceses.

Blame the silent Windsor, Camp Allen and Communion Partner bishops.

Blame the Presiding Bishop and those who elected her. Her theology, qualifications and track record aren’t so great either.


Paula Loughlin
June 29, 2011

There is so much God would have gotten right if only the likes of Rev Dan had been there to offer some friendly pointers.

James G
June 29, 2011

Putting aside that Ol’ Dan here clearly wasn’t paying attention when the whole God Incarnate thing was discussed, from what CJ has excerpted here alone it is clear that he was sleeping through most of the class when they were teaching “everything that I have commanded you.”

First and most obvious, the greatest commandment is “to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength”; “to love your neighbor as yourself” is the second greatest. They’re not one but two commandments with our duty to God being the most important.

I don’t recall Jesus’ ministry changing after his encounter with that uppity woman. It was after the Resurrection that Jesus commissioned the Apostles to go to all nations. The encounter with the Canaanitess also wasn’t Jesus’ first encounter with a gentile of faith whom He helped out. The Centurion at Capernaum in Chapter 8 had a similar problem and Jesus helped him. So we really don’t see Jesus changing.

Maybe Dan should read the whole book first before he starts commenting about one part taken out of context.

James G

June 29, 2011

I agree that the “She changed Jesus” take on this story has been echoed many times by many preachers, and that one question should be, “Why present these commentaries to the wider Episcopal audience?”

I suspect that such recurring messages which attempt to elevate Jesus’ humanity at the expense of His divinity reflect what is being taught in the seminaries, and that these messages are easily foisted on innocent pewsitters. They lead people to believe in the power of people to change God, and if we can change God, then we can change the world to our liking. After all, changing the world to TEc’s vision is what this is all about.

Bad messages = mill stones.

June 29, 2011

From a 2006 article in “The Witness”: “The Rev. Daniel J. Webster was most recently the director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Utah. He has served as a media advisor to several Episcopal dioceses and national entities.” In TEc, it’s a very fine line between PR and evangelism.

June 29, 2011

And now the buildings, the assets, and the investments have been gifted to the church of Satan to drag people to hell! – and the departing congregation will be held accountable before the dreadful seat of judgement.

FW Ken
June 29, 2011

Wrong thread, buddy.


David Fischler
June 29, 2011

The last line was the part that I found most astounding:

The Rev. Dan Webster is canon for evangelism and ministry development in the Diocese of Maryland.

David Fischler
June 29, 2011

Well, upon further reflection, it makes perfect sense, all things considered.

Jim the Puritan
June 29, 2011

All Biblical analysis and commentary in The Episcopal Organization must end with the conclusion (whether expressly stated or not), “therefore, Gay Sex Is Just Fine and Dandy With God.” That is the only type of thinking that is taught in Episcopal seminaries, so that is all they know. Any argument is acceptable and correct so long as it can result in the statement that “therefore, Gay Sex Is Just Fine and Dandy With God.” If you keep that in mind, you will have no problems understanding anything written by anyone in the TEO.

June 29, 2011

Oy, I heard this very sermon about 25 years ago at the Episcopal church in Hanover Ma. My husband and I took it up with the pastor, and he said we were fundimentalists (He said ir like it was a bad thing….) and…ahem, did you catch that cute little bit about how the Syrio-Phoenician woman being “indiginous”. Those awful Zionists! Even then they were evil interlopers.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
June 29, 2011

“My husband and I took it up with the pastor, and he said we were fundimentalists (He said ir like it was a bad thing…”

That will teach you to show him the facts!

FW Ken
June 29, 2011

I know they come from different gospels, but I keep thinking of this encounter set aside that of the Samaritan woman at the well. They are so different and yet in the same place: Jesus meeting the womens needs.

a changing culture, changing neighborhoods and changing attitudes, why do our congregations not change?

There is a grain of truth in this, although I doubt it applies to this fellow. At one time, my Catholics parish was a thriving middle-class/professional class white parish on the southern end of Fort Worth. Now it’s a central city parish largely Hispanic, but with a good contingent of whites and a few black folk and Asians. Our Hispanics are from a variety of cultures and social classes. It’s fair to say the parish is thriving again. Between the early times and latter times, however, the parish nearly failed.

I think of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin, which thrived until the 60s and early 70s, when downtown became less vital and, honestly, kind of a scary place. Faced with the option to move the historic 1850s building away from downtown, they heard the Lord and chose to stay, more than doubling in size over a few years into at least the 80s. The charts are down so I can’t give updated info.

But Jesus promises in Matthew to be with us always.

And this is utterly, passionately, joyfully true.

Fr. J.
June 30, 2011

Back in the ’90’s I studied at the GTU in Berkeley. I took a church history course at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. It was abysmal. The Episcopalian students were confident in their assertion that no creeds or any other standards should be applied to the faith. “Who is anyone to tell me I’m not a Christian just because I don’t believe in the Incarnation or the Resurrection?” one student angrily commented in class. Our professor replied gravely that he made a very, very interesting and weighty point.

The Jesuits had their problems, but they never outright asserted heresy. Meanwhile the Episcopalians we flirting with the impossibility of heresy.

The crisis in TEC is not over this or that erroneous teaching, but that they no longer believe in Christian teaching. The Gospels are simply metaphorical systems open to being stretch in which ever direction one desires.

June 30, 2011

Fr. J, as I have often maintained, Episcopalians are merely Unitarians with fancy clothes and better music.

Trey Dark
June 30, 2011

Liberal people always love to use the word “uppity” in an ironic fashion.

July 1, 2011

Trey, and doesn’t it sound vaguely racist to you?

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