Archive for the 'Commentary' Category

Commenting on Jesus’ sacrifice for me and how others apparently think that He did it wrong.

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I was writing this up as a post, and it just wasn’t coming together. So I tried a video instead.

Here’s the link that I reference (to the actual interview): John Piper interviews Rick Warren

I’ll note that if I hated Rick Warren with a passion, I’d still only have to change about 5% of this video. So a laundry list (given in the comment thread) of his errors will not be germane to the OP. Not that that’ll stop anyone. I’m pretty darn good at derailing myself. Just sayin’…

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Been thinking a lot about this, and it’s time to shoot off my mouth.  I’m calling “shenanigans” right now on anyone who says that this is just a thinly-disguised defense of Rob Bell, as this is applicable to several incidents in the last few years.

GROUND RULES

I’m going to concede a lot of ground to the critics.  In some cases, I agree with some of these points anyway, but I can make my argument even if I disagree with some of these points.

  • Let us assume that the criticized person is 100% in error theologically.
  • Let us assume that the critics are 100% accurate theologically.
  • Let us assume that everyone who does not disagree completely with the criticized person are sheeple who are totally lacking in discernment, will consume and espouse everything that the criticized person says, and desperately need the critics to straighten out this problem.
  • Let us assume that the error being disseminated by the criticized person is so grave that the critics have carte blanche to use any methodology they choose to confront it, without even the remotest possibility that they will err in their methodology or that their methods will turn off any of the aforementioned sheeple.
  • Let us assume that the method that Jesus gave in Matthew 18:15ff is totally inapplicable.

SIDEBAR

I find it interesting that the Matthew 18 passage gets batted down so quickly.  While I understand that Jesus was particularly referring to more “private”, one-on-one sins, I have searched several translations and have yet to find one with a verse where Jesus says “unless it’s a public sin, then all bets are off”.  The ludicrous speed* with which the applicability of the passage is dismissed speaks not so much of someone who wants to move on as it does of someone who is so loathe to try one-on-one confrontation, that any loophole is seized desperately as a lifeline.

WE NOW RETURN YOU TO YOUR REGULARLY-SCHEDULED POST

But let’s play nice.  As I said, let’s assume that Jesus’ command is inapplicable in this situation.  Does inapplicability automatically mean that we are commanded not to use this method sometimes?

Let me put it another way — the way that (sadly) seems to be the de rigueur method for how this is played out.

SCENARIO #1

  1. The criticized person espouses and publicly disseminates error. In his efforts, he manages to reach and convince 1000 sheeple. **
  2. The critics recognize the error and scramble to publicly disseminate the truth in response. ***  In their efforts, they manage to rescue 995 of those sheeple from the error. ( Highly improbable that the critics will turn around that high of a percentage, but hey, let’s be generous. )
  3. Two years later, the criticized person espouses and publicly disseminates more error. Because of some past success, in his efforts, he manages to reach and convince 2000 sheeple.
  4. The critics recognize the error and scramble to publicly disseminate the truth in response. Their astronomical success rate remains steady so that, in their efforts, they manage to rescue 1990 of those sheeple from the error.
  5. Two years later, the criticized person espouses and publicly disseminates more error. Because of some past success, in his efforts, he manages to reach and convince 3000 sheeple.
  6. The critics recognize the error and scramble to publicly disseminate the truth in response. Their astronomical success rate remains steady so that, in their efforts, they manage to rescue 2985 of those sheeple from the error.
  7. Two years later, the criticized person espouses and publicly disseminates more error. Because of some past success, in his efforts, he manages to reach and convince 4000 sheeple.
  8. The critics recognize the error and scramble to publicly disseminate the truth in response. Their astronomical success rate remains steady so that, in their efforts, they manage to rescue 3980 of those sheeple from the error.
  9. Ad infinitum (or would that be ad nauseum ?)

So, at the end of six years (all but that last bullet), you now have 50 people who have bought into the errors disseminated by the criticized person.

This scenario is particularly self-damning for the critic who chooses to do a series of blog posts detailing the errors of the criticized person over the years. ****

But what happens if we change it up a bit?

SCENARIO #2

  1. The criticized person espouses and publicly disseminates error. In his efforts, he manages to reach and convince 1000 sheeple.
  2. The critics recognize the error. One critic approaches the criticized person and convinces him of his error.  The criticized person then disseminates a mea culpa, and manages to rescue the same 995 people that the critics rescued in the first scenario.
  3. Two years later, the criticized person espouses and publicly disseminates truth in some manner.
  4. The critics only needed response is to praise God and send the criticized person notes of encouragement.
  5. Two years later, the criticized person espouses and publicly disseminates truth in some manner.
  6. The critics only needed response is to praise God and send the criticized person notes of encouragement.
  7. Two years later, the criticized person espouses and publicly disseminates truth in some manner.
  8. The critics only needed response is to praise God and send the criticized person notes of encouragement.

Some other things that might happen if this second scenario occurred:

  • Because of the dissemination of truth by the criticized person (in steps #2, 3, 5, and 7), God is glorified and people are brought closer to the truth.  Hard to believe otherwise.
  • The criticized person and the critic (who originally approached the former) cultivate a strong friendship from which both benefit spiritually.  Hard to believe otherwise.
  • Let’s dream really big and assume that in six years, the critics and the criticized person are able to convince the original 5 (who they didn’t rescue originally) of the truth.

BOTTOM LINE

So, when a critic chooses to go with Scenario #1, he’s treating the symptom while the disease goes on unabated.  So what is he really trying to accomplish?  Is he really rescuing the sheeple *****, or is he just showing off his mad Bible skillz?  Is he really trying to “gain his brother”, or is he merely auditioning for some spiritual MMA league?

No, really.

* yes, that was a Spaceballs reference

** I recognize that these numbers are probably too small.

*** How they do this is irrelevant.  We’ve already established carte blanche in the ground rules.

**** OK, that one was, admittedly, about the Rob Bell situation.  But I’m not giving any Google juice to the critic, so if you don’t know specifically what I’m talking about, c’est la vie.

***** which, it is to be noted, quickly becomes Sisyphean

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John 12:20-26 (NKJV)
Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”

If it had only been Martin Bashir instead of Andrew and Philip, I bet this evasive Jesus guy would’ve been nailed down.

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It was discovered recently that a publisher (whose name I won’t dignify by citing) is releasing a book critical of Sarah Palin with a cover that is very similar to that of her forth-coming autobiography. Here are the covers of her book and the critical book, side-by-side.

Sarah Palin - book covers

This is some pretty amazing bait-and-switch, and should offend anyone of any intelligence, regardless of their thoughts on Palin or their political affiliation. The cover (of the critical book) says “My message is so lame and weak that it can’t stand on its own.”

OK, good and riled? Or at least annoyed?

Now tell me, how this is any different.

Other than, ya know, the implication that God’s message it too lame and weak to stand on its own.

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Duct Tape - Use Some

Ah, the silly season has arrived, yet again.

Over the past several years of blogging, I’ve noticed a number of trends in topics, discussions and general attitudes which seem to cycle with the calendar. For example, it seems that July is the month for a large uptick in seeing commenters, cited articles and site authors (including myself) to lose patience and get ultra-snippy and personally petty about one another.

Christmas season settles down (from a personal-tone standpoint), but conflicts about personal preference (of all orders – music/worship style, dress, drinking, etc.) come to the forefront.

January/February seems to foster a bit more focused theological debate (often with systematic theologies in the crosshairs), etc.

It’s not that these things don’t happen other times during the year, it is just that they tend to “spike” at certain parts more than others.

Early fall, though, seems to be a season where a lack of basic reading comprehension and any sense of charity toward ones theological “enemies” seems to ratchet up. And this one, like last year, (or previous years) is gearing up to be no exception to the rule.

For example, we have a frequent commenter in one thread who is so blinded in his hatred for another brother in Christ that he reads/hears his brother say and explain one thing (”early Christianity was a subversive movement in the Roman Empire, which hijacked its symbology to declare Jesus as Lord of all, not Caesar”) and accuses him of saying the opposite (”early Christianity was just a cheap knock-off of Rome”).   It is like either A) basic literary comprehension or B) any guise of honesty has taken a holiday…

And then, we have this example, submitted to us by M.G., where a similar “perfect storm” of hatred, ill-will and an utter lack of charity or comprehension (or, possibly, tinfoil-hattery) has led tinpot ODM’s to accuse Rick Warren of trying to merge the church and state – completely misunderstanding (or misappropriating) “reconciliation” to mean something it does not…

And then, there’s the frequent purveyor of misapplication and miscomprehension, Mike Ratliff, who apparently has no clue about what orthopraxis is, or, apparently, that ’systematic theology’ and ’sound doctrine’ aren’t synonymous.  (Though, once again, I think ODM criticism has led me to want to purchase a book subjected to their criticism).

And on… And on…

As I read this screed over the weekend, I was struck A) by how little I missed reading C?N – I’d gone a couple of months without “researching” it; and B) How right Rob Bell was in his August 16th message “The Importance of Beginning in the Beginning” , in which he laid out (in a 65-minute message that intentionally ran long) his view of how Christians fit into Creation, and how important it is that we root our understanding of Christianity in Genesis 1, and not Genesis 3.

But I’m sure there will be some who purposely “misunderstand” him, and will argue (somehow) that he is stating the opposite of what he’s saying.

But let’s not blame them for their stupidity.  It IS that time of year, you know…

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A long-time reader of .Info recently provided us with this gem:

Topic: Yeah, but, what about, you know, Jesus and the Bible and stuff

So I was perusing Challies‘ positive article on Rick Warren, and as I noticed all the ODM wannabes lining up I realized that they all made appeals to what would Luther, Spurgeon or Edwards do.

Anyone missing from that list?

Missing? [puts on his "online discernment ministry" glasses] Nobody I can see…

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The Asclepieion at PergamumIn the city of Pergamum, the governing center of Asia Minor, when the Apostle John arrived on the scene in the decades after Paul and Timothy’s work there, he found cities that were intensely religious, though not at all predominantly Christian.

The people in this city worshiped many gods, of whom the predominant ones were:

Dionysus – the son of Zeus and the god of wine and orgy, and patron god of theater. His shrine provided free wine and meat to those who came to worship him there, and he was said to provide life for all, even after death. It was also believed that, during secret rituals, he converted water into wine to give to the people.

Asclepius – The god of healing and medicine. His temple complex – the asclepieion, was, as Dr. Tim Brown puts it, “the Mayo Clinic of the ancient world”. The sick and infirm could come to worship at the asclepieion and receive free healing and medical care.

Demeter – The goddess of grain and fertility. Worshipers at her temple could have their sins forgiven by sacrificing bulls and bathing in their blood. Additionally, they could receive free bread and clean water from her temple.

ConcernAnd then, above all of these gods was Caesar – the “king of all kings and the lord of all lords” in Rome (as Domitian demanded he be called). Pergamum was the first city to deify the Caesars, beginning with Caesar Augustus. At the top of the hill on which Pergamum sits was the temple of Caesar, who provided for all of the gods, and to whom homage must be paid in order to receive the blessings of the gods – wine, food, water, health, and basic welfare (through other minor gods like Hestia, Cybele, etc.).

It is no wonder, then, that the Apostle John chose to emphasize certain miracles of Jesus to provide counterpoint of Jesus’ lordship, with the first three sets of miracles mentioned being 1) turning water to wine (Jesus is Lord and provider of eternal life, not Dionysus); 2) Jesus healing the official’s son and the man at the pool of Bethesda (Jesus is Lord and provider of healing, not Asclepius); and 3) Jesus feeding the 5,000 (Jesus is Lord and provider of our bread, not Demeter).

In short – it is Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who is the provider of all, and not the gods and governments of this world.

The Nicolaitans

In John’s book of Revelation, he twice condemns a group of people called Nicolaitans, who appear to hold to a form of antinomianism, believing that because God had fulfilled the law with Christ, they could be free to live as they wished, and that they could partake in the different forms of temple worship and have their needs met, because they knew that the “gods” of these temples did not really exist.

In Ephesus, it is believed that the Nicolaitans were able to escape persecution under Nero and, later, Domitian, by burning incense to Caesar and accepting his “mark” on their goods and their person. This allowed them to freely buy and sell in the marketplace (agora), to hold public office, and to avoid the punishments of Rome for not worshiping Caesar (see Rev 13:16-17).

So What?

An offer you can't refuseBy now, some of you are probably thinking something along the lines of “Thanks for the history lesson, Chris, but what does this have to do with a ‘Christian’ position on health care?” Others likely see where I’m going with this:

As Christians, we should all be concerned with the gods of this world – particularly the government – taking over the responsibility for the expanded provision of the needs and desires of its people.

I would underscore this by noting that when we forget who our provision comes from – from God, alone – and see it as the product of our own work, our employer or our government, we become idolaters. However, I see the warnings from John to the early Christians as two-fold – don’t seek to have your needs met by the passive gods of the world, but also beware of what will happen when an active, intrusive one steps in to take over.

This is not to say that we should be in favor of maintaining the status quo, or in turning away the poor from life-saving medical treatment. Rather, we should be looking for ways to make such government take-overs unnecessary.

All Things in Common

A few weeks ago, Rob Bell and Ed Dobson taught at Mars Hill Bible Church on the early church in Acts 2:

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

They noted that this was a free, loving choice on the parts of the believers, and not something done out of guilt or coercion. Supporting coercive government systems (socialism, communism), they noted, are not the way of following the early church. Subscribing to a “survival of the fittest” or a laissez-faire mindset is not the answer, either. Rather, it comes down to those who have been blessed with abundance to share out of love and those who have been blessed with scarcity to receive out of love (as Peter did, when he allowed Jesus to wash his feet).

DomitianA government-managed system of provision, though, circumvents both ends of this equation – coercing those who have (under threat of law) to provide for those who do not (by the government’s definition) under the guise of “dignity” (i.e. they can thank the government for their provision, not individuals or organizations).

The way of Jesus is for the church to see a need and to be enthusiastic about trying to fill it – not out of coercion or guilt – but freely, out of love.

The problem with depending on the government, though, is that every time the government decides to encroach in an area of “benevolence”, the church sees no need and then retreats. This has happened historically, and is particularly evident in the American experiment of the past 233 years or so. Whether it is education, health, welfare, or the homeless, when Christians have acceded these areas of service to the government, the church has retreated and become further irrelevant.

It is no mistake that fundamentalism arose in parallel with this abdication, as focus on the temporal needs of the masses withered and the focus on the eternal became all-encompassing. It is also no mistake that the predominance of the emerging/emergent 180-degree “flipping” of focus from eternal to temporal will exacerbate the problem just as easily.

From where does my help come? If, slowly, as it has been doing, the Caesar of today becomes the all-giving provider of needs, how quickly will worship of this Caesar become the predominant “religion” of the land – or has it already happened – on both ends of the political spectrum?

If there are members of our churches – brothers and sisters – who must take government assistance because they are not receiving it from the church, it is a crime we in the churches are committing via our lack of love. If these members won’t take the assistance from the church, but prefer the “dignity” of the state, it is a matter of the sin of pride. If our churches exist in communities where people are unable to get the care they need, the provision of the government is an indictment of the faithlessness of those churches.

Why should Caesar coerce and redistribute what the church was designed to give out of love?

The Nicolaitans, Take II

Once the trough opensNow, just as there were Nicolaitans in the first century, there are sure to be some today who would note that the state is a lifeless entity which need not be feared/revered, but only appeased so that it might be used for humanitarian purposes. Where the line is crossed, though, I believe, is similar to the point at which the temple of Demeter became an instrument of Caesar (or more accurately, where the Church became an instrument of Constantine) – where benevolence becomes compulsory and acceptance of the “dignity” granted by the nanny state is mandatory.

Which is what is, inherently, what is being proposed by the US House of Representatives and committee bills in the US Senate. While there is a good deal of smoke-and-mirrors involved in the plans, the long-term trajectory of these plans is a single-payer system in which the health of the citizenry is beholden to Caesar, and 97% of the people have to accept his mark (noting that I’m speaking from a partial-preterist position, not a dispensationalist one…) or go without.

Will we be selling a little bit of our souls to the state by accepting their mandatory hand-out? Will we just be good little Nicolaitans, crossing our fingers and rationalizing that God is providing to us through the faceless entity of Caesar, while our churches fade into further irrelevance?

Or will we be willing accomplices of the state, cheering it on with homilies like “My hope is that the Church will rise up and speak for the least of these who cannot speak for themselves” while supporting its takeover of the church’s mission? Or will we try and shame the Church into selling out to the beast by saying “my hope is that the Church, despite the prospect of having to make sacrifices, some even costly in more ways than one, will stand up and say, ‘This is the way of Jesus’?” Or might we just try and work the coercive shame on individual Christians, making this into an issue of “selfishness” by telling them “I would like to see less of Christians demanding their ‘rights’ and more of demanding justice for all,” as if this were actually an issue of justice, rather than one of mercy and kindness.

Summing it Up

Standing up to CaesarThe bottom line – the government is not a friend of the church or of the people. Its purpose, according to Scripture, is to provide a judicial system, common defense, and societal order. Its mission is completely different than that of the church, and its lifetime is limited.

No matter how much we, like Jesus’ disciples, want the kingdom of God to be a literal, physical, political power on earth, that is not what Jesus came to create. When we abdicate the purpose of the kingdom and hand it over to the kosmos, we are no longer advocates for the kingdom. When we try to make the kosmos the tool of the kingdom – whether from the right or from the left – we are destined to fail. Spectacularly.

In my view, and in light of the roles given to the church in Scripture, I would say that it is no more the place of government to take over the health care system than it is for the church to take over the national defense. That it is even being contemplated is an indictment against the Church and a potentially disastrous overreaching on the part of the state.

Here’s to hoping that sanity will prevail.  Government can play a role within its biblical mandate – particularly within the realm of the justice system and in maintaining order – in ‘fixing’ what is currently broken in the US health care system.  Making health care a “right”, provided by the state, is beyond its mandate, though, and the church should not be its water-carrier.

[A couple of programming notes - 1) I have briefly ended my self-moratorium on political news/discussion, insofar as it concerns health care issues, as I do have some expertise and interest in this area that could be useful for the discussion; 2) I don't plan on expanding it to other areas of politics; 3) While this article fits the demographic of CRN.Info, I may not cross-post later articles which do not deal with issues of the intersection of Christianity and the health care debate.]

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Scare TacticsMaybe I’m just unlucky, but I don’t think so.

…they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to…

I remember getting my first email account, almost two decades ago.  We didn’t even call it ‘email’ – it was just an app on the VAX that passed messages back and forth between us engineering students.  It wasn’t until a few years later that some of the usenet discussion groups I replied to got me added to some spammer lists.

Spam sucked (and still sucks, though we have much better tools to deal with it now).  But one variety of ’spam’ sprung up soon after I got my first home email account – the ‘email-forwards’ (EFs).

I don’t even remember who the first person was that hit me up, but I recall that it was about a kid with cancer who was trying to set a world record for get-well cards received.  And, like the first drop of rain believing it was not responsible for the flood, this note was just the beginning of a deluge.

Break the Chain

Science News CycleGrowing up, I remembered my Mom throwing away several chain letters that came to me from friends (in this thing we had called a “mailbox” that was made out of steel, wood and nails, not just electrons), and explaining to me why not to get sucked into these things. (See – I really was listening, Mom!)  That advice would prove invaluable as the tidal wave of EFs began to arrive.

“IF YOU LOVE JESUS, YOU’LL FORWARD THIS TO TEN OF YOUR FRIENDS!!!”

(Ever notice that EFs, and the people that send them, tend to not recognize that USING ALL-CAPS IS LIKE SHOUTING IN A LIBRARY?!?!?!?)  So, if I don’t forward this, does it mean that I don’t love Jesus – OR does it mean that I love both God and my neighbor, because I have spared God the misuse of His name, and my neighbor the misuse of his mailbox (the kind made of electrons and hopefully no nails)?

Now, while most of theses EFs were just annoyances, many of them contained information so erroneous that there were occasions I just couldn’t help myself from hitting “reply all” (no need to just reply – sometimes crap needs to be stopped dead in its tracks, kind of like the whacked-out doctrine of Universal Reconciliation) and sending a reply with a link to (the then pretty new) snopes.com, with an appropriate link debunking the Urban Legend/Fake Virus Warning/Misled Heretic Warning sent in some EF’s.

After a while, the EFs became fairly politically-minded, as well – whether it was a 10-meg PowerPoint with the star-spangled banner playing behind a bunch of photos of eagles, mountains and skyscrapers, or a moonbat theory about Bush being the cause of 9/11.  Ideology seemed independent of EF’s – though there was a common thread of “there is a conspiracy” and “we are the resistance” and “keep the underground movement to save us from _____ going”.  In short, just code for

“IF YOU LOVE JESUS, YOU’LL FORWARD THIS TO TEN OF YOUR FRIENDS!!!”

Staging Interventions

This guy needs an intervention!Probably one of the saddest things about the EFs was that they were being sent by people I knew and genuinely loved and cared about.  Most of my resistance to the crap they were sending me was simply in the form of my “DELETE” key, and occasionally the snopes link accompanied by a kind note to please check out the claims of what you’re sending before you send it.  But, in the same way that hiding the bottle of beer from your drunk uncle at Christmastime does little to break the grip of his alcoholism, such half-measures seem to come to no avail.

Over time, though, I’ve held several “mini-interventions” at family gatherings, over lunch at work, and in other places I know people addicted to EF’s.  In most cases, the message got through (at least enough that I got removed from their EF list(s), though I would like to believe they were cured of their horrible addiction to conspiracy theories, monster-sized powerpoints, and wild-eyed urban legends) and I stopped getting this stuff from my loved ones, and the EFs they send me now are not of the pull-your-hair-out variety, and are things I actually would want to read.

Except…

Christians to the “Rescue”
A Miracle!

As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

As with many things in pop culture, like rock music, you can expect modern Christians to be about a decade late to the party, a couple of notches below baseline quality, and about thrice as annoying as the original.  EF’s are no exception.

It started in earnest just a few years ago for me, I recall – email forwards from Christian acquaintences wanting to tell me about

TEN SIGNS THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS SOON TO FOLLOW THE INVASION OF IRAQ!

accompanied by whatever the day’s healine was, plus a good healthy dose of King Jimmy English, particularly from Daniel and Revelation.   This was soon followed up with things about

RICK WARREN IS THE FALSE PROPHET OF THE BEAST – IF YOU LOVE YOUR FRIENDS, YOU WILL TELL THEM!

And it was crap like this that led me to meet some like-minded folks who (I believe) were also being led by the Spirit to come together and create CRN.Info which, while nowhere near perfect,  I’ve been able to use (as have others) in a similar fashion to snopes.com in debunking the EFs full of sewage from such hellish sources as “Slice of Laodicea”, “Apprising Ministries (sic)”, “Lighthouse Trails”, “Christianresearchnetwork.com”, etc.

Kind of like George W. Bush refusing to sell his home to African Americans, these sites (sadly, managed by professing believers) spew forth enough untrue tall tales to keep a hangar full of gossips busy until Judgment Day, and enough conspiracy theories about the end of the world that you’re pretty sure Judgment Day is almost upon us (current predictions seems to be around Dec 21/23, 2012 – Maybe I’ll repost this on 12/25/12).

Current Events

Ken Silva?In the past week, I’ve learned via EF that (gasp) Rick Warren spoke in front of a group of Muslims to promote civility between Muslims, Christians and Jews without teling the Muslims they were headed to hell (the typical knock on Warren being more about what he didn’t say than what he did say) from some woman who seems to think Warren owes her some accountability.   Granted, this was from the same source telling me a few months ago that Rick was selling out to the homosexuals (all the while I was in a protracted mediation on his Wikipedia page, preventing a liberal group of folks from branding him as a militant homophobe).

Additionally, I’ve received at least four predictions of the End of Times (centered now on 2012), two identifications of the Anti-Christ (the Pope and Obama seem to be in a neck-and-neck race for this dubious distinction), and a whole slew of folks who seem to want my money (for Jesus, of course) to save America for God, to provide accurate prophecy based on events in the Middle East, to save the family from the rising tide of Obama-lovers, or to protect the church from those (cue foreboding music) eeeeeeevil emergents…

And last night, I received a warning from someone who may have read my Facebook profile from a couple weeks ago when I finally got around to reading The Shack and didn’t hate it. (In fact, while I went in expecting to dislike it, I actually found it to be spot on and eloquent on a number of issues Christians tend to be ham-handed with, even though there were parts with which I disagreed).  The warning, though, had the opposite of its intended effect – I don’t know that I’ve laughed so hard in awhile:  The letter was a collection of links from Slice, Apprising, CRN and Lighthouse Trails.

Kind of like getting a letter from McDonalds about the dangers of eating fresh fruit.

The Common Thread
0 N03Z!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

If there is a common bond that attaches all of the spammy EFs together it is an inherent spirit of fear – Fear of those whom we disagree with politically; Fear of the End; Fear of Christians whose doctrine isn’t 100% in line with ours; Fear, Fear, Fear.  Basically, it is porn for the mind – designed to stoke our fears while releasing our inner Eichmann.

But that shouldn’t be what we’re about.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Indeed, we have an obligation not to live according to the sinful nature – of gossip, slander, lies and fear. Trust the Spirit, not forwarded emails trying to scare you about the End Times, or The Shack, or Rick Warren, or Rob Bell, or whatever church these devourers of widow’s houses scheme up to scare immature believers. Live according to the spirit of Sonship you’ve been given, as heirs of God, to whom the Spirit will lead and guide in community with local believers.

Stop forwarding gossip-mongering, slanderous, fear-inspiring crap to fellow believers.

Slowly … Back away form the “Forward” button … there you go…

Well, except for this article. In this particular case

“IF YOU LOVE JESUS, YOU’LL FORWARD THIS TO TEN OF YOUR FRIENDS!!!”

(just kidding :) )

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Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.

-Blaise Pascal

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