Archive for the 'ODM Responses' Category

(or Ricky Bobby becomes a theologian )

In case you were not aware, pastor/author Francis Chan is stepping down later this year after a decade and a half as teaching pastor of Cornerstone Church. This video gives a short description of the decision. It’s also a bit amusing, as the guy who was interviewing Chan had no idea what was coming. Watch his face in the first few minutes.

There’s a longer video here — as Chan addresses his congregation regarding the decision.

Now, of those who know who Chan is, there are probably very few who didn’t already know about this transition. So why bring it up, anyway? Well, a sure sign that you’re getting older is that you have déjà vu more often (after all, if there’s “nothing new under the sun”, you’re bound to get more re-runs the longer that you’re on the planet). And I had a massive, two-fold case of it recently.

Piper-esque déjà vu

While some of the reaction to Chan’s decision has been positive — “Wow, rock on, bro; sounds like God is doing some serious stuff in your heart and life” — there has been other reaction that has been quite negative. And the negative reaction isn’t just coming from the far-right fringe bloggers who only care about attaching labels and don’t give a rat’s glutes as to the actual veracity of what Chan writes and teaches. Rather, it’s coming from writers who, while further to the right than I am, I would consider to be rational and capable of conversation with those with whom they disagree. While it’s not clear in some cases, many of these bloggers certainly seem to be people who like/admire Chan. As I said recently about the crucifixion of John Piper, with friends like these …

Actually, a lot of the hub-bub surrounding Chan is quite reminiscent of the firestorm around Piper. And much of the same reasoning that I discussed in my last post about Piper applies here as well. For instance, while Chan’s track record is not as extensive as Piper’s — and it looks like it may never be, at least publicly, as God takes Chan off the radar — it’s still pretty clear that the guy has lapped me (and probably you) a few times spiritually. And while (again) no one gets carte blanche, I’m thinking that a Christian brother needs to be given at least a tiny bit of the benefit of the doubt.

Since the Chan issue has no whipping-boy (a la Warren in the Piper issue), there are some points of divergence in the criticism. One of them seems to be an appeal to cessationism. Now while I think it’s a wrong viewpoint, I don’t have a major beef with cessationism. Unfortunately, in most cases surrounding the criticism of Chan, it’s tied to something with which I do have a major beef.

Many of the writers criticizing Chan would claim to believe in sola Scriptura, and if that’s what they truly believed, I would agree with them. But what they are actually espousing is not sola Scriptura (the belief that Scripture is the highest and ultimate guide for the Christian’s life), but solo Scriptura (the belief that Scripture is the only guide for the Christian’s life). Sola places things like counsel from other Christians, teachings, and guidance by the Spirit on a lower level than Scripture. Solo dismisses them entirely.

Now I would imagine that the writers who espouse solo would argue that that’s not what they’re saying. But when Chan specifically states that he’s been diligently searching the Scripture to be sure that this decision aligns with God’s Word, there are only two conclusions at which we can arrive: (1) the aforementioned critics are ignorant of Chan’s statement* or (2) the aforementioned critics are genuinely espousing solo Scriptura. If the latter is true, then — to be intellectually honest and consistent with their beliefs — they need to stop attending church immediately (and throw out chunks of the Bible, to boot).

(And yes, I recognize the conflict of a believer in solo Scriptura throwing out chunks of Scripture. This is simply illustrative of the lunacy of such a belief.)

One other thought on this. I defy anyone to watch this two-minute video of Chan and tell me that this is not a man who takes the Bible very seriously.

Bobby-esque déjà vu

In Talladega Nights**, there is a conversation between Ricky Bobby and his team’s owner, Larry Dennit Jr., after Bobby has won a race. Dennit chides him on the “obscene gesture” that Bobby made, specifically as it relates to the NASCAR points and sponsorship dollars that it will cost them. The following exchange ensues:

Bobby: With all due respect, Mr Dennit, I had no idea you’d gotten experimental surgery to have your [censored] removed.

Dennit (indignantly): What did you say?

Bobby: Whoa, whoa! I said it “with all due respect”!

Dennit: That doesn’t mean you get to say whatever you want to say to me.

Bobby: It sure as heck does! It’s in the Geneva Convention. Look it up!

(The censored word refers to a portion of the anatomy often attributed to manliness.)

While the criticism of Chan and its theological ramifications are quite disturbing, I find it down-right terrifying that some of Chan’s critics are employing the same logic as Ricky Bobby. They might not use the phrase “with all due respect”, but they often employ some radical, wild-eyed (and usually generic) example, quickly followed by “I’m not saying this about Chan, but …”

Puhleeeeeze, Sparky. If you’re not saying it about Chan, then why even bring it up in a blog post that’s all about criticizing his decision? I’ve looked it up. The Geneva Convention does not allow you to make crazy accusations about mythical third parties in the midst of a criticism of a real person, but preempt any cry of “foul” by simply saying that your crazy accusation was not in any way related to the real person.

With all due respect, we’re not as stupid as you show yourself to be.

* I know for a fact that this is the case for one critic. He’s actually proud of his willful ignorance. Don’t confuse him with the facts; his mind’s made up.

** (not a movie I’d recommend, FWIW)

  • Share/Bookmark

(And yes, this title is a riff off of one of the more measured — but still wrong — criticisms of Piper’s decision.)

It was noted earlier this year that John Piper has invited Rick Warren to speak at this year’s Desiring God national conference. This has been public information for at least a couple months, but was more formally announced in recent days.

When this announcement was made, to quote Tillie in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? , “all hell done broke loose”.

Now, admittedly, I was a bit surprised by the invitation. There are some things that Warren has written which strike me as being in error, as best as I interpret Scripture. And, then there’s those dang Hawaiian shirts.

But, on the other hand, some of the criticisms of Warren take asininity to a height that would give a Sherpa a nose-bleed.

Either way, I wouldn’t consider Warren to be part of (what I affectionately have termed) “the Piper posse”. But hey, I have a great appreciation for Pastor John. And ya know what? Before further investigation into any issue, if he and I disagree on something, I’m putting my money on him turning out to be the one who is right.

Does that mean that I give him a free pass and blindly follow whatever he says or does? No, not by a long shot. (And I’d venture to say that he wouldn’t want that, either.) In fact, I know there are some issues that he and I disagree on, and I’m fairly certain that my view is correct.

There is, admittedly, a part of me that wants to say, “C’mon; this is John freakin’ Piper we’re talking about!!” But even setting aside any “celebrity pastor” status, we have to look at the man’s track record. And ya know what? At the end of the day, we’re talking about the track record of John freakin’ Piper.

(And the circle of life is complete.)

Seriously, if I’m going to claim anything even approximating intellectual honesty, I need to hear him out even if he says that all 43-year-olds should be painted purple and hung upside-down from a flagpole next Wednesday. Granted, that one would probably need a long expository explanation; but, to whatever degree I ought to give the benefit of the doubt to any Christian brother or sister, Pastor John should be getting it ten-fold.

And yet we’re hearing nothing but criticism for Piper’s decision. Some of it may be valid; some is tiresomely obtuse, rehashing sad (and untrue) whacks at Warren; and some of it takes the form of crap like this (referring to Piper’s upcoming sabbatical):

If [I] had just endorsed Rick Warren and brought him to my conference, I’d take a sabbatical, too. Permanently.

But all of it (that I’ve seen, anyway) is ostensibly coming from those that like and/or admire Piper. With friends like these ….

What I am completely incredulous about, though, is that Piper made clear why he made this decision and some of the criticisms actually quote his reasoning — verbatim — and yet miss the whole thing. Part of what Piper said was this (emphasis mine):

When I wrote [to Rick Warren] … I said “the conference is called ‘Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God.’ I want you to come. You are the most well-known pragmatist pastor in the world. I don’t think you are a pragmatist at root. Come and tell us why thinking Biblically matters to you in your amazingly pragmatic approach to ministry.”

One of the corollaries to Occam’s Razor says, “Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity.” In that spirit, I’m going to assume that those who quoted Piper (and yet totally whiffed on the content of the quote) did so out of a mistake and not a willful blindness born of a hatred for Warren. So let me spell it out. And let me do so by past example.

A few years ago, Piper invited Mark Driscoll to speak at a DG conference. The God-blogosphere was all abuzz with what a Bad Idea this was. Most of it surrounded predictions that Driscoll’s invitation would result in a plague of locusts in downtown Minneapolis and a protest headed by Chris Rock and Quentin Tarantino over all the foul language that Driscoll would use.

And when, at the conference, Piper gave Driscoll a mild bit of fatherly admonishment, many of the critics took this as validation of their prognostication, as though Piper had rent his clothes in agony and apologized for screwing up so badly by inviting Driscoll. When Piper heard that his words were being used to bash Driscoll, he was appalled.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve noticed (and if you only listen to him to find new stuff to criticize, then you probably haven’t), but Driscoll has become a bit more mature and a bit less rash over the last few years. In short, Mark is growing. While all credit goes to God on this one, I’d bet dollars-to-doughnuts that his relationship with Piper is one of the tools that God is using in this process. And maybe, just maybe, the fact that Piper invited him to speak at DG helped to show how much Piper meant business.

So now Piper is cultivating a relationship with Rick Warren. And here’s what I hear Piper essentially saying:

There are many ways in which you and I, foundationally, believe the same things. Now in my sphere, the way that this plays out in my life and the lives of many of my peeps is XYZ. But in your life, this plays out differently. Show us how you get from point A to point B.

Honestly, this is a challenge that Piper has presented to Warren. But not in the sense of throwing down a gauntlet. I believe that Piper truly believes that there is a path from point A to point B, and he is genuinely interested in seeing how this plays out. Right there is enough reason for Piper to have extended the invitation.

But even if we assume the worst, and there is not a path from point A to point B, and Warren falls flat on his theological face, who’s to say that the whole Piper posse influence doesn’t cause Warren to step back and think some things through? While Warren is not a young buck (so he probably won’t have the Timothy-Paul relationship with Piper that Driscoll has), it’s hard to imagine him being involved with someone God is using mightily and not being affected in some way.

There are only three conclusions that I can reach about much of the virulent criticism:

  1. There are many professing Christians out there that not only think that Warren is in error, but genuinely believe that God is totally incapable of changing him. Even if we set aside the laughable nature of such a view, it becomes even more ludicrous for someone to claim any affinity for Piper — someone who is all about God’s sovereignty — and yet believe in such a wimpy God. It would be more logical for Ahmadinejad to claim that he greatly admires the teachings of a particular Hasidic rabbi.
  2. There are many professing Christians out there that think that the worst will happen — Warren’s head will start spinning and he’ll vomit pea soup from the pulpit at Bethlehem — and yet Piper won’t do or say anything. An examination of Piper’s track record would indicate otherwise. At one conference (and I’m not even sure it was his conference), one speaker said something with which Piper strongly disagreed, and when it came his turn to speak, he made no bones about the disagreement before launching into his message. (This viewpoint also points to a God who is totally incapable of protecting His sheep from error. See previous comment about Ahmadinejad.)
  3. There are many professing Christians out there that don’t want to see certain people drawn closer to God, because it would upset the apple-cart of their philosophical belief system — something that I doubt God gives a rip about.

Perhaps there is a fourth, more charitable, conclusion out there. But, frankly, I ain’t holdin’ my breath.

  • Share/Bookmark

Ephesians 2:4-6 (NKJV – emphasis mine) — But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together …

I have noted before on my blog that legalism mocks God’s grace. If we are raised in a home that doesn’t perform “worldly” externals, and all Christianity is about is not doing those “worldly” externals, then God hasn’t really saved us from much — we weren’t dead in our trespasses; we just had the sniffles.

A couple weeks ago, Neil wrote about labels, and how they can be helpful at times — and downright useless and silly at other times. The latter issue was the larger portion of his post and (although he didn’t initially identify it at the time of the writing), I was one of the people that he wrote about who had been incorrectly and unfairly labeled. (He later went back and filled readers in on who the label-ers were. ‘Twas a hop, skip, and jump from there to figure out who the label-ees were.)

Unfortunately, for any “fact-checkers” out there, the background of my incident can’t be accurately checked, as the moderators of the site on which I was labeled chose to conveniently excise large parts of the exchange in which either (a) I made a strong point or (b) they looked foolish in retrospect. But that’s not why I’m writing this, anyway …

I was attempting to answer the question “Is Francis Chan emergent?” by noting that the important question was not whether or not someone had attached a label to Chan, but whether or not what he teaches/writes is the truth. As the questioner appeared to truly be researching Chan, but coming up empty, I pointed her to a couple of book reviews and a brief (and, for me, convicting) video by Chan.

(For what extremely little it was worth, one of the book reviews included a quote from Chan that pretty much answered her irrelevant question.)

Having just made the point that the issue was truth (not labels), the very next comment — by a moderator, no less — asked me if I was emergent. Quite frankly, I was stunned at how incredibly and thoroughly he had missed my entire point. I felt like tapping the mic and asking, “Is this thing on?”

I temporarily evaded the question, as it was no more relevant for me than it was for Chan. However, after a while, it became obvious that I was never going to get that point through, even though I repeated it numerous times in different ways. So I just (metaphorically) threw up my hands and answered their question. I worked off a list of teachers/writers that one of my accusers had provided, and (I’m sure to their utter shock) largely agreed with their stances on these men.

But then I “messed up” and dragged God into the conversation (what was I thinking?):

Bottom line though: While none of those men are on my bookshelf, I do not think God incapable of using them to speak truth to me.

The responses to this statement (all of my others “disappeared”) made things abundantly clear — they were so utterly focused on these men, that they totally (dis)missed God. One can only come to the conclusion that they do think God incapable of using those men.

There was even a great, though certainly unintended, illustration of this. One of the moderators has an image in his signature line — riffing off of President Obama’s “Hope” slogan — that says “Hopeless” (complete with the same logo in the “O” as was in the original). While no fan of the president by a long shot, I have to note that this image says infinitely more about the moderator’s view of God than his view of the president.

I ran across a post on another blog today about some truly horrific people — murderers, drunkards, adulterers, pimps, prostitutes — the scum of the earth. Oddly, they’re all characters cited in Genesis, many of whom were greatly used by God. And some of them don’t even have the “good” testimonies of how they did all that bad stuff before they met God, and walked the straight and narrow ever since.

The phrase “another gospel” (riffing off Galatians 1) has been perverted in its overuse to mean “that with which we do not agree”. And, to be sure, I saw that phrase used often in the discussions surrounding Chan and others. But to claim (even indirectly) that God is incapable of using anyone requires not only the ignoring of large portions of Scripture, but an outright mockery of God’s grace and the heart of the gospel message.

That, my friends, is truly “another gospel”.

Galatians 1:9 (NKJV – emphasis mine) — As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Don’t blame me — I didn’t say it.

  • Share/Bookmark

Here is a recent submission we’ve received here at PPP.Info:

I have written a book called, “The New Pharisaism: How Spiritual Bullies Attack the Church.” The book deals specifically with the damage caused to church leaders, Christian ministries, and local churches by organizations such as “The Berean Call,” “Slice of Laodicea/Crosstalk America,” “Light House Trails Research Project,” “Media Spotlight,” “Southwest Radio Church,” “Apprising Ministries,”"Understanding the Times,” and many others.

In the church today, we are faced with a new level of intensity when it comes to spiritual abuse and bullying. As you know, this New Pharisaism falsely claims that New Age, Eastern mystical, and occultic practices are being introduced into most churches in America as part of the apostasy of the last days. This inflammatory and divisive material has made its way into local churches through individuals and small groups of bullies who have used it for their own selfish gain and self-promoting agenda.

My book also deals extensively with how to stand against this attack and how to find healing and recovery after the attack has occurred.

I believe that the book is an invaluable resource for your readers and anyone who is dealing with Pharisees today. The book is fully documented with scores of footnotes and is based on the careful exegesis and the sound exposition of God’s Word.

“The New Pharisaism” is available as a ebook download on my website at www.thenewpharisaism.com. On the website, you can also read about my credentials, download the introduction preview, and see the table of contents.

I would be most appreciative if you would let you readers know about this book.

Thank you and may God bless,

Pastor Bill Slabaugh

Has anyone read this? Any volunteers?*

*- My pocketbook is running incredibly low right now, so if anyone has $13 and reads this, I’d be interested in a review…

  • Share/Bookmark

I remember when my father got his first label maker. It was a long time ago and the labels it produced were the thick plastic kind with raised letters. Unlike contemporary label makers that actually print, this maker was really a crimper. The label was produced by crimping the plastic band to produce raised letters. In the process the coloration of the plastic was removed on the letters – thus raised white letters on a colored band. At the time it really was cool. Fortunately, my father resisted the temptation to label everything… though he did label a lot of things… a lot of things.

Labeling has a certain function of course. It allows things to be identified easily. We label a file so that its contents can be known at a glance. We label a bin so that we can know what’s in it without opening it. Some people label shelves or cabinets to prevent others from placing things in them that are forbidden. We label things to identify their owner.

Labels are potentially useful, very useful.

They can also be very useful in categorizing people. Followers of Jesus were first labeled Christians in Antioch. This was because the church there was comprised of mostly Gentiles who had embraced Jesus as Lord and Messiah – calling them Jews would not work. A new label needed to be created, and it stuck. Labels are very useful in identifying and categorizing; Christian, Liberal, Gay, Calvinist, Egalitarian… are labels.

Labels are also potentially dangerous, very dangerous.

They can be very dangerous in categorizing people when those assigning the label wield them – not as a shortcut, but as a weapon; when they are assigned out of laziness; when they are assigned based on secondary or even tertiary issues. Labeling is the ally to all who practice Guilt by Association.

We all do it. We all label. Sometimes we do it correctly, sometimes we do it incorrectly. Some however are more consistent in their misuse of labeling than others. Some excel at weapon-labeling and for them it is not a tool as much as it is a first step… a step from which all other steps must proceed.

This was recently illustrated to perfection through two different exchanges between select writers here and self-proclaimed discerners, both of which took place on the sites of the latter. I say self-proclaimed so as to be clear this is not a label I have assigned to them, they have done so themselves.

The thing that was interesting about both of these cases, even though the labelers come from wildly different scenarios, was the consistency of using labels as weapons, the lack of logic, lack of thought and… well lack true discernment. This is where I venture into speculation – I speculate that labeling has become short-hand because it is easier than actual thought, it is easier than actual research. It is easier to connect the dots of guilt by association (even if such association does not really exist), then label. And once the label has been applied – it matters not what the person actually says, does, or believes. The label has been applied – the case is closed. Don’t bother with what is actually in the bin or folder, just label it. Don’t bother discussing or researching or getting to know what a person believes or does – just label them.

For example: In one of the conversations I was labeled as unsaved, Emergent, a follower of a false Jesus and anti-Semitic. There are more, but these will suffice.

I am anti-Semitic because I advocate a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine.
Never mind that I never said anything against any Semite and even affirmed Israel’s right to exist.

I am unsaved because I disagree with someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit.
Never mind my profession of faith, my reliance on God’s grace, my repentance, my faith experience of God’s grace… all were summarily dismissed – the Holy Spirit never disagrees with himself, and we disagreed, therefore I have not the Holy Spirit. I must admit I admire the logic: “I am filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit never disagrees with himself. Therefore, by disagreeing with me you prove you have not the Holy Spirit.”
Apply label – unsaved!

I am Emergent because I referenced a common faith, a faith shared with said Holy Spirit believer.
This I found comical, since the reference was not to some interreligious experience, or even interdenominational ecumenicalism – it was a reference to the shared faith between the discerner and me. I was attempting to establish common ground in Christ. The use of the phrase “common faith” was enough for me to be labeled.

I follow a different Jesus because I refused to label someone else as “Not a Christian.”
This became the crux of the matter. Even though I laid out exactly what I believe, even though my beliefs are thoroughly orthodox and biblical, even though these beliefs were never addressed or disagreed with – I follow a different Jesus based on guilt by association, based on connecting the dots, based on being labeled. Never mind that all I did was refuse to label someone else, who I do not even know.

We also practice hypnotism.
Never did figure out what that was based on.

When I pressed for an answer as to which of my very detailed beliefs the discerner found lacking… I was referred to the story of the disciples brushing the dust from their feet. This and other examples of the misuse of Scripture in the labeling process could easily be another post in and of itself. This tactic is used because discernment is not the goal, answers are not the goal, knowing is not the goal – the label is. Above all else, the label must be defended.

Other writers experienced similar labeling, mostly based on equally shallow, tangential, and irrelevant criteria. I chalk it up to laziness, joy in hostility, and a false-discerning attitude.

The point is this. Labels are very useful tools; when applied properly and with a little thought and research. They can also be hurtful, inaccurate and sin; when they are applied flippantly and in spite of reality.

Labels are useful in defining the contents of a bin or folder; they are useful in categorizing and identifying people. But they are worthless and worse when one applies a label without looking into the folder or bin first. They are even worse when they are applied in direct contradiction to the contents of the same.

Let us all learn from the abuse of labels and use them wisely and apply them accurately.

I have left out the names of the discerners and their sites because they are not the point. I prefer it remains that way.

UPDATE: Since this has run its course, and it was pointed out that without links the facts cannot be checked I am updating the post: the sites that labeled us using shallow, tangential, and irrelevant criteria are Rapture Ready. and Discerning the World.

  • Share/Bookmark

Way back in 2006, Mark Driscoll was interviewed prior to speaking at the Desiring God conference that year.  One of the interview clips can be found here, but I’ll quote the salient part:

When [missionary] Hudson Taylor shows up in China, and dresses in Chinese dress, and learns Chinese language, and eats Chinese food, and gets a Chinese haircut, everybody says, “There’s a good Christian.” When we do that in punk rock culture, people think it’s capitulation. I think there’s hypocrisy there. That’s why we’re not reaching Americans. We have a double-standard that we get stuck on the style and we forget the substance of the Gospel.

A missionary family (we’ll call the couple George and Mary — names changed for safety/anonymity sake) was recently at my church.  The people group to whom they minister are very disinterested in reading.  So much so that it is not uncommon for houses in that part of the world to lack indoor plumbing but have satellite television.  Another example — to be considered a best-seller, a book has to sell only a few thousand copies.

While their ultimate goal is translating the Bible — this people group does not have the Scriptures in their language — George and Mary realize that in the short-term, they need to set a primary focus on spreading the Word through other media (though, even this is not simple, due to laws in their region).  As George was describing the unique challenges that they face, he noted that their desire was to be — parents, cover your children’s ears — relevant.

A horrified gasp went up from the congregation when he used such a dirty word.  Actually, I’m kidding.  His choice of that word summed up what they were trying to do, given the culture of the people with whom they are dealing.  His point was that their message to those people is not “get your act together, get interested in reading, and then we’ll deem you worthy of telling you about Jesus”.

I doubt that anyone would fail to laud George and Mary’s efforts.  So why, exactly, does any mention of relevance in our culture get poo-poo-ed on so quickly and thoroughly by so many?

Are people in our culture less unsaved?  I keep seeing an image of Westerners showing up at the pearly gates, and St Peter does his best Maxwell Smart* impression, saying, “Missed it by that much.”

* (the Don Adams version — I’m old)

  • Share/Bookmark

Ephesians 5:21 NLT
And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

I Corinthians 16:15-16 NLT
You know that Stephanas and his household were the first of the harvest of believers in Greece, and they are spending their lives in service to God’s people. I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, to submit to them and others like them who serve with such devotion.

Hebrews 13:17 NLT
Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.

The issue of accountability has always been a no-brainer for me. I guess I owe my strong feelings about that value to my parents and in particular to my father who, despite his disagreements with the denomination he was in, chose to submit and stay accountable to them. Because of this I find it strange that Christians deny the necessity of accountability to one another and a leadership structure.

One area where accountability is sorely needed is the world of blogging and that has been said here and elsewhere a number of times. This issue of non-accountability seems to be more prevalent on discernment blogs where bloggers often criticize people supposedly knowing the will of God (in particular WoF/Prosperity preachers) and I think they are right about that most of the time. But then they in turn often claim to know the will/judgement of God about others in the same shaky way that those preachers do. When it comes to knowing or discerning the will of God I think we especially need to be accountable towards Christians around us.

It is then perplexing to me when I read something like the following:

There is a criticism – a protest, if you will – that discernment websites are accountable to no one but themselves. It depends on the context and what they mean by ‘accountable’, of course. On the one hand this is a self-refuting argument; calling out those that are perverting the simplicity of the Gospel to accountability of God’s word is by the same definition making oneself accountable to the word of God. On the other hand, to whom exactly should discernment ministries be accountable to? Should we institutionalize all these type of ministries under one banner and make them all sign some relevant decree? What happens if that institution itself becomes corrupt, then what? And if discernment ministries were accountable to an institution would false teachers take heed when warned? Of course not, it’s a dishonest criticism to begin with

It sounds to me like the author is excusing himself and other “discerners” from being accountable to other Christians. Be that as it may, it raised a  question with me that I would like to explore with all of you here:

  • Is there a point where we stop being accountable to one another or some leadership structure? What then?

Important Note: I realise that the values of submission and accountability can be abused by leaders like a lot of other good stuff. But I don’t think those abuses gives us the licence to throw these values away.

  • Share/Bookmark

Reader Aaron submitted a link to a wonderful blog-post by Carlos Whittaker (the Worship Minister at the Buckhead campus of North Point church in Atlanta), telling us:

I found this wonderful story about a spontaneous worship by a homeless man while a church was shooting a video. It was so uplifting and amazing how the homeless man is already saved and worshiping and realizes his purpose and place in life despite how many of us might complain about it.

In Carlos’ article, he describes a recent situation, where he was recording part of an EPK for an album he was recording, when a homeless man came up and sat down with him…

YouTube Preview Image

Thanks for the tip, Aaron!

  • Share/Bookmark

One of the nice Thanksgiving traditions in my household (followed more, I think for Zan’s benefit than mine) is that it is officially the first day it’s OK to play Christmas music around the house/in the car.  As such, I spend a little bit of time browsing through my Christmas music, checking out the set lists I’ll be accompanying at church in the next month, and creating some play-lists for the car.

I also got to wondering what everyone else listens to in the way of music for this season in which we celebrate Christ’s birth (even though his actual birth date was more likely in September).  In that spirit, I’m sharing some of my favorite songs/albums in the hopes you’ll share yours with me (including links to check them out, if available).

YouTube Preview Image

Albums:

  1. Andrew Peterson: Behold the Lamb of God:  By far, this is my favorite Christmas album, and it’s the only one that is exempt from the “Only between Thanksgiving and Dec. 25″ rule (above).  BtLoG, itself, aside from a couple of instrumental pieces, is not traditional Christmas music, but is all set around the story of the coming of Jesus – from the birth of Moses, through the kings of Israel and the writings of Isaiah, and into the events told in the Gospels.  In many ways, the music is one continuous 45-minute work that builds and tells a story, building on the emotion and yearning of the people involved.  Andrew (and a number of Nashville musicians) travel each December, performing this piece, along with some of their own music.  If they’re stopping near you, I’d highly recommend them!  [If you're interested, you can also listen to the entire thing - legally - here.]

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Share/Bookmark

just because we have changed the primary focus of our blog does not mean that we won’t “slum it” every once in a while and see what the buzz is on our favorite odm sites.  it’s the same fascination that allows me to argue the nuances of justification AND watch shows about people driving badly… or buildings collapsing…

over at crosstalk they are offering this commentary:

Evangelical Church Tattoos Woman on Altar

In the you-just-can’t-make-this-up department, a Seattle church decided to tattoo volunteers during the “live tattoo final” to a sermon series. I predicted tattoo parlors in church some time ago and was jeered at for doing so. I was wrong. They aren’t building parlors to tattoo anyone in church. They’re doing it on the altar. Read more from the Seattle Times.

i particularly like the angst of “They’re doing it on the altar” – complete with shock value and double entendre.

our church has had artists creating works as a form of worship while a pastor delivers a sermon, but we have never had a human as the canvas.  and i’m not sure we would – but that is not the point. the point is the interesting use of the term altar, the use of a sexual double entendre, and the appeal to the slippery slope of sin.

i am not sure why crosstalk uses the term “altar” – particularly since evangelical churches usually do not have them – they do not need them.  and crosstalk ignores a great opportunity for a jab since the linked article uses the term “stage.”   i have a hunch it is used for shock value, and to make an illusion to paganism.

this latter reference, of pagan altars, plays into the use of the sexual double entendre, which i find mildly hypocritical from folks that find this abhorrent when used by others.  remember, christians should not talk about sex in public.  this is a deliberate sexual reference, i believe, because of the popularity of the  “so and so’s do it…” jokes/bumper stickers/etc….  clearly this has not eluded the editors.

the inuendo was clearly seen by truthinator who posted the follow-up comment:

First coffee shops and now tattoo parlors… can the temple prostitutes be far behind…?

i find this appeal to a slippery slope interesting for its sheer grade of the slope; from coffee to church sanctioned prostitution in three simple steps (emphasis on simple).  it seems to slip the mind of truthinator that coffee and tattoos are neither illegal, immoral, nor biblically prohibited (and only quote leviticus 19:28 if you also obey 19:13a, 16-18, 19c, and 27.)

finally, what really mystifies me is why crosstalk (and truthinato) even cares what this church in seattle does – since what they did violated no biblical injunction.  i have a hunch that it is just another objection against folks doing things different – it’s probably not coffee that is objectionable… it’s that it’s not served the way we do it.

[UPDATE: it was pointed out that the newspaper article opened with the use of "altar" - this explains crosswalk's use of the term. i should have seen this in my reading.]

  • Share/Bookmark