CHURCH SILENCE PROMOTES VIOLENCE
A sermon delivered at
The Dormansville United Methodist Church
Dormansville, New York
12 August 2001
Frank L. Hoffman, Guest Preacher
How do we know that Church silence promotes violence?
First of all, from the reverse perspective, I could not think of one instance, or find one instance in the literature where the Church took a stand against violence, that the result was an increase in violence.
Secondly, when the Church or a large percentage of churches in an area of the world took a stand for violent acts, it institutionalized them.
This was true with the crusades of the middle ages, and it was true of slavery, and it was true with the Nazi campaign against the Jews.
But before going on to answer our question of how Church silence actually promotes violence, let's look at the types of violence our silence fails to prevent.
We do violence to our health by listening to false advertising and special interests, and failing to learn the truth.
We do violence to our finances by spending what we have on habits and addictions, and by failing to put some of what we earn away for the future.
We do violence to our emotional well being by the violence that is all around us and by hardening our hearts.
We do violence to our intelligence through our lack of proper teaching, and our lack of will to learn new things, and through our failure to keep an open mind.
We do violence to God's creation by our misuse and actual destruction.
We do unspeakable violence to the animals in our factory farms and slaughterhouses.
We do violence to each other in our wars, our crimes, and in our retaliation and road-rage.
And, we do violence to ourselves with our diet and lifestyle.
And in most of these areas, the Church, collectively, has been strangely silent.
By comparison, many churches in recent years have spoken out against abortion, and we are beginning to see the effect in legislation and public awareness.
But, I submit to you that what is being presented to us is far from being truly pro-life, it is only anti-abortion; and that is why it hasn't been more successful, for it is viewed as being hypocritical.
Our world is overpopulated; we have already fulfilled God's commandment to multiply and fill the earth. Yet many who are against abortion are also against birth control and proper education to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Such a position is inconsistent and is actually doing violence to our world ecology and to women.
John Wesley tied together our spiritual, physical and emotional health; for if we are physically and emotionally unhealthy, then we will be spiritually unhealthy, for our thoughts will be diverted from God.
Wesley found this to be true in his life, as Mary and I have in our lives.
Listen to what John Wesley wrote to Dr. Gibson, Bishop of London on 11 June 1747 in answer to the bishop's complaint:
By 'extraordinary strictnesses and severities,' I presume your Lordship means the abstaining from wine and animal food; which, it is sure, Christianity does not require. But if you do, I fear your Lordship is not thoroughly informed of the matter of fact. I began to do this about twelve years ago, when I had no thought of 'annoying parochial ministers,' or of 'captivating' any 'people' thereby, unless it were the Chicasaw or Choctaw Indians. But I resumed the use of them both, about two years after, for the sake of some who thought I made it a point of conscience; telling them, 'I will eat flesh while the world standeth' rather than 'make my brother to offend.' Dr. Cheyne advised me to leave them off again, assuring me, 'Till you do, you will never be free from fevers.' And since I have taken his advice, I have been free (blessed be God) from all bodily disorders.
The Church wanted John Wesley to be silent, as many would also like me to be; and perhaps if John had been more vocal, we would not have as many health problems today, and the Church would not be so silent on this issue.
This Church silence is promoting violence to our health, and it's time we begin speaking out with the truth.
A recent study in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 50% of whose members are vegetarian, found that their vegetarian members lived an average of ten years longer than their members who ate animal flesh and by-products.
This report also found that the vegetarian members had a much better quality of life from a health standpoint, than did the animal eating members.
It is obvious that John Wesley and his doctor knew this to be true some 270 years ago, and yet our church has been strangely silent on this issue.
This is not seeking the perfection of God that both Jesus and John Wesley taught us.
Our silence is doing violence to both the animals and to our health.
The perfection of God has no place for violence.
He created Eden to have no violence, and our heavenly existence will have no violence, and in the prayer the Lord taught us, we are to pray for this heavenly and perfect will of God to be here on earth.
But our silence and inactivity does not help bring it to pass; it only helps promote the continuation of our present corruption and violence.
Jesus told us that we are to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).
John Wesley took this passage seriously, and he was criticized for it. Listen, in part, to how he responded to such a complaint from the bishop of London:
'What, it may be asked, do you mean by "one that is perfect" or "one that is as his Master"? We mean one in whom is "the mind which was in Christ," and who so "walketh as He walked"; a man that "hath clean hands and a pure heart," or that is "cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit"; one "in whom there is no occasion of stumbling," and who accordingly "doth not commit sin."...
"In a word, he doeth the will of God" on earth, as it is done in heaven."...
In every thought of our hearts, in every word of our tongues, in every work of our hands, "to show forth His praise who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light." Oh that both we and all who seek the Lord Jesus in sincerity may thus "be made perfect in one"!'
This isn't some new doctrinal position presented by Frank Hoffman; this is one of the foundational principles of our Church.
And what is the perfect heavenly will of our Father that we are to perfect within ourselves and upon this earth?
That we would do everything in our power to be like the Lord, and wipe away every tear, and eliminate every unnatural death, and that we would no longer cause any mourning, or crying, or pain. (Revelation 21:4)
And to do this we can no longer sit back and be silent about the evils and violence in this world, for our silence is actually promoting and encouraging the evildoers to commit even more despicable and cruel acts.
And speaking out is not someone else's job; it's a calling for each and every one of us.
Everything the Lord put upon Isaiah's heart required him to speak out, as it should ours.
We need to learn to do good, which requires someone to speak out in teaching.
We need to seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, and plead for the widow, (Isaiah 1:17) all of which require us to speak out.
As an example, it is a known fact that over 90% of all chronic diseases are preventable through diet and lifestyle changes, yet we hear very little about it.
Because our lack of knowledge and silence is doing violence to our health.
Because of the conflicts of interests in our world:
where pharmaceutical companies make their money selling us drugs,
where doctors and medical facilities make their money by treating us for preventable diseases, which they have not helped prevent,
and where the animal agriculture industry promotes products that have been proven to be a contributing factors in the causes of our chronic diseases.
This is wrong. This is ungodly. And most of all, it is doing violence to billions of people in our world.
It's time we speak out about these and other evils in our world.
It's time we answer the call of God to us to end our silence and speak out the truths that will end the evil and violence in this world.
It's time for each of us to say, "Here I am, Lord."
Your Comments are welcome
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