“Whose image and inscription is this?” he asked. “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
Matthew 22:20-21 (CEB)
You are likely familiar with the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. It’s the term for when someone makes a claim that all things from a particular group, such as Scotsmen, do a universal thing. When confronted with a counter-example, there is then an appeal to purity which excludes the contradictory information. For example:
“No Scotsman eats sorbet.”
“Well, my very Scottish uncle Brennan loves a nice mango sorbet on a hot day.”
“No true Scotsman eats sorbet.”
The appeal to purity protects the claim from criticism by excluding the idea or people who could challenge that claim from validity.
We see this in ways large and small every day. For example, I love to make Buffalo wings on Sunday afternoon while watching football. I am a traditionalist in the preparation of a good wing: Frank’s Red Hot and butter tossed onto a fried wing then served with carrots, celery, and Bleu cheese. Other people take that blueprint further, treating certain preferences become disqualifying and evidence of poor judgment. You cook wings in an oven? Wrong. You want boneless? Double wrong. Substitute ranch dressing for the Bleu cheese? Now you’ve gone too far. It’s silly, but then again most of the things which actually tend to divide us from one another are silly when examined with a little distance.
The Lectionary cycle of scripture lessons serves up one of Jesus’s most explicitly political statements to us this week as Americans have already begun voting for our next slate of leaders. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have strong, strong beliefs drawn from their faith. There is not, however, a prescribed way for you or any other disciple of Jesus Christ to vote. It would be easier if there were, and there are certainly Christian leaders out there who will persuade you that one party is the party of God and the other is not. It remains, sadly perhaps, untrue.
Any appeals that tell Christians otherwise fall apart quickly and are exposed as “no true Scotsman” fallacies of their own, as in “no true Christian could vote for candidate X.” It’s simply not true, and more importantly, these sorts of disagreements distract from the argument Jesus is making throughout his ministry that we are residents first of the Kingdom under the Lordship of Christ.
Don’t take this to mean that we shouldn’t participate in the political process, or that your participation doesn’t matter. However, we have received an invitation to abundant life from a generous God who invites you and me each and every day into living with peace in our hearts toward God and neighbor. We can participate with an eye toward the justice of the Kingdom and how to extend that to all in the name of Jesus.
So, go forth, eat sorbet or boneless wings, vote as your faith and conscience dictate, and know none of these activities can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. In a divisive time, remember to love even the people you like least, as Jesus showed us how to long ago.
Grace and Peace,
Resuming Confirmation Class and Christian Education Update
We will have our first week of Confirmation class next Sunday, October 25 after worship beginning at approximately 11:30am. After this class concludes this winter, we will begin planning for the next cohort for students currently in grades 4-6 to begin in 2022-23. Additionally, we will also be discussing what youth ministries will look like here at FUMC for these Confirmands and the generations to come. Pray and stay tuned!
Online Marriage Enrichment Conference
Laura Newton would like to share and recommend the following conference to anyone looking for an opportunity. Laura shares:
Still time to register for this all-virtual marriage retreat. John and I are attending next weekend, Oct 16-18th. Mark and Janet Frink, who have led several marriage workshops at our church, are on the leadership of Eusebeia group and speak highly of this weekend.
Family Promise is Hiring
Family Promise, Hunterdon County’s only agency dedicated to providing temporary housing to homeless families, is hiring four positions, one for a part-time Case Manager and three full-time Residential Aides. If interested or if you know someone who would be, please send resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continuing Coffee Hour Over Zoom
Laura Newton has thankfully stepped up to host a weekly time of conversation and connection after the conclusion of our worship service each week. Here is a link to that time –
If you have questions or need help, you can ask Pastor Ben or Laura. Don’t be shy, you are missed and a part of this church family, too!
Worship with Flemington UMC on Facebook
Each Sunday at 10:30am, reach for your phone, tablet, computer, or other internet-connected device for a time of music, prayer, scripture, and preaching. Watching live gives the opportunity to comment in real-time with prayer requests, updates on your life, and more, but if you view the service later you can still comment and share prayer requests and experiences from your life with your church.
If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can simply visit the church’s Facebook page:
The videos are all accessible there without the need to create an account or login. If you have technical questions, please reach out.