Archive for the 'What Can You Say?' Category

I’ll confess I go to ??N now and again to see the stuff they write. Sometimes, I laugh, sometimes I cry and sometimes I agree. Recently though, there were two posts that I just don’t get what the point is. Here’s the first one (which is put in the category of “seeker sensitive):

The Title says, “God Planned Sin

So says NewSpring “pastor” Brad “BCoop” Cooper:

SIN didnt sneak up on GOD… HE HAD PLANNED IT ALL ALONG…

Um, is the ubiquitous editor trying to stay that sin did sneak up on God? Would that make said editor an open theist? When can we expect our favorite pirate to take this anonymous editor to task?

Then the second one, which is another head-scratcher. It says:

My wife and I just returned from a trip to Oklahoma. To get to where we are going each way we must drive over part of I-35 that goes through a town in Oklahoma called Guthrie. On the East side of the road, as we drove past this city, is a church very close to the highway. Someone at this church has erected a very large sign that says in bold letters, “I LOVE THIS CHURCH!” This really puzzled me and caused me to think of what the intent could be in the erecting this sign. As I thought through all of the possibilities, the only one that seemed to make sense was that someone wants to draw people to this church BECAUSE he, she, or they love it. In other words, this is an attempt to market this church using the ploy that since they love it, others will be sure to “come and try it.”

Well, don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the travel update and I’m super exited to know there’s a town called Guthrie on I-35 but have you really come to the place where someone loving their church is something to deride? Of course, this brings up a whole host of new questions:

1. Does Mike Ratliff’s church use any signs at all?  (Isn’t that marketing?)

2. Does Mike Ratliff’s church use the phonebook? (Isn’t that marketing?)

3. (The most important one so I’m gonna cap it) WHAT IS YOUR POINT?

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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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(or today’s “fish in a barrel” moment )

It wasn’t the main point of the post, but this still jumped out at me.  While dumping on Ekklesia Detroit Church regarding another issue, Ken the “editor” at C?N irrelevantly noted: “It seems they’ve also found time to interview Satan as well.”

Granted, that sentence has no explicit statement that Ken the editor thinks that the Satan interview video is a bad thing.  But given the track record at C?N (that nothing good can come out of Nazareth those that they criticize), and given the overall tone of the rest of the post, it’s very much within the realm of probability that Ken the editor thinks it’s a bad thing.

And frankly, I have to agree.  A video portraying Satan and his views on Christianity and the Church has no place in our faith.  Why, if we’re not careful, someone will write an entire book with this premise.  And then respected “Christian” actors will create plays based on the book.  And then “Christians” will claim to “learn” from these demonic resources.

It’s the beginning of the end, people.

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First off we are not journalists so ‘journalistic integrity’ is not really a charge that we need to hold to. Christian integrity, however, is.

Recently I’ve begun to notice a trend with ODM’s, they don’t actually do ‘research’. They claim to do research, some even have it in their URL’s. Actually I’ve known this for a while but lately it appears that the ‘chicken littles’ of the Christian family are more apt to take so and so’s word for it. They link to themselves, they link to each other, they proof text, and they rip quotes out of context. Sometimes, dare I say, they make stuff up.

For instance:

“The more I follow grace, the more I’m drawn to him [God], the more I’m willing to stand up for people being persecuted,” says Jay today. “This sounds so churchy, but I felt like God spoke to my heart and said ‘[homosexuality] is not a sin.’ ”

This quote comes from Jay Bakker (allegedly) via Apprising.org but it’s not the exact quote and I couldn’t find the direct link to this quote, nor could I find any reputable website who has the quote. What I did find was a lot of heresy hunters self linking and cross linking each other. I’m not saying that Jay didn’t say it I would just like an accurate, in context, direct link to prove he said it. But all I have is this link from Ken at Apprising.org. So much for research and integrity*.

If you have a few minutes to waste, google the quote, and visit some of the sites that purport it. I found (1) Link to Radar Online but no article, anywhere on their site about the quote, (1) Link to a portion of the full article with the incorrect quote, and (9) Links to Kens articles about Jay Bakker. I did find the cached article but it’s not exactly how Ken reports it. According to the date stamps on the comments and photos it appears the article was first published in 2006. The cached article is cobbled together with what appears to be several articles and the word ‘Homosexuality’ was inserted into a seemingly non-sequiter paragraph about growing up PTL.

I do have an email into the writer, Martin Edlund, about the interview and also an email into Radar Online. Hopefully I can find the full transcript of the article.

Don’t take my word for it though. Go and do the research.

*Yet another case of those so offended by the worldliness of the church getting their info from the world to build a case of hypocrisy against those who they claim are in the world. Integrity?????

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I have long held to the “truth where you find it” stance — my point being that God is big enough to speak to the Christian through persons or experiences that s/he would not ordinarily expect — ya know, that whole sovereignty thing.

In raising that point here, I have been lambasted on several occasions by those who take umbrage with it.  Generally it’s been by those who state that I am saying that if person A speaks any truth, then you can believe everything that person A says.  (That’s not what I’m saying, but I’m willing to have an open mind on the issues of others knowing better what’s on my heart than I do myself.)

Let’s assume that my critics are right.  Here’s a list of “safe” places that you can get truth from:

  • Fox News — the channel that brought us the anchor-babe, whose site’s front page currently contains stories titled “Megan Fox Gets Dirty” and “Get In Bed With Marilyn” and a weekly contribution from Maxim magazine.
  • Christianity Today — the magazine that has, on many occasions, shown left-of-center theology
  • Pravda — the Russian newspaper whose translation (”truth”) is usually the height of irony

You may note that the links that I provided don’t go to the actual sites that I listed.  Rather, they go to articles on the front pages of C?N and Slice.

But feel free to go to the actual sites, too.  And feel free to consume and believe everything on those sites. They are, after all, now included in the “discernment” magisterium.

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Regarding an LHT 3500-word (!) post with which he agrees, the “Admin” at Slice declares that those who choose not to read it are “lazy”.  Over-arching labels are no real surprise from that site. I note it only because it’s relevant to a later point.

To be honest, I found the statement that appeared two sentences later to be kinda funny:

Those who actually care about the wolves entering the flock will read this report …

Isn’t that just a derivation of the statement at the bottom of the “[Fw: [FWD: [Fwd: [FW:” email (that you got from Aunt Martha) that says that if you really love Jesus, you’ll pass this on to 10 friends?

But I was taken aback by the sentence in-between these two (referring to the afore-mentioned “lazy”):

These kind are inheriting the unbiblical and dangerous theology they deserve.

Our entire faith is about us not getting what we “deserve”.  I have to say that I’m really surprised by the candid nature of how Slice has delineated itself from, ya know, Christianity.

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I thought that maybe we could use a bit of levity, especially now that the U.S. folks have to go back to work after a 3-day weekend.

Tim Challies highlights a 1959 book called “Soul-Winning Made Easy”.  One could go on for days about the actual spiritual problems with this book, but (virtual) Mondays aren’t generally for shooting fish in barrels, so just enjoy the overall hokey-ness.  (You can tell the sinner in the pictures, because he isn’t wearing a tie.)

Two alternate things to observe:

  1. For a touch of irony, note that Tim gets thrown back under the bus on Slice by a writer who obviously doesn’t get the difference between “occasionally … pointing out the absurdity within the church” and gorging oneself on it.
  2. For the ultimate irony, though, recall all the kvetching that was done on Slice because Tim didn’t “name names” when he wrote about blogs that live off of bad news.  Then note that this new post was written by “Admin”.
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Well, now that American Idol is finally over, we can move on to French Idol.

(Sorry to beat you to the punch, Chris R.  I assume this’ll be on your blog soon, too.)

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There’s an Arabian proverb that says that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.  It’s an idea that’s older than dirt, but was more recently ascribed to Saddam Hussein.  One would have to think a bit about anything that came out of that man’s mouth (maybe even use a bit of discernment), yet it seems that many people are very anxious to live by this nugget of “wisdom”.

A couple of examples:
__________________
I recently had an exchange in the meta of another blog.  The blog owner, Lanny*, said several things about Steve (another blogger), one of which was that Steve had allegedly stated that Lanny wasn’t a Christian — a certainly valid complaint on Lanny’s part.  A third blogger, John, agreed with several things that Lanny was saying about Steve and unequivocally stated that Steve was not a Christian.  Lanny made no move to correct John for engaging in the same sin as Steve, but basically high-fived John and went on with the conversation.

I called foul.  After several rounds of dodging my actual point, Lanny finally pulled out the “big guns” and accused me of believing the exact same things as Steve.  This was interesting as (1) I hadn’t raised any issue of beliefs, and (2) I actually believe very differently than Steve on a great number of issues.  My point was the double-standard that Lanny and John were employing.  Not surprisingly, my comment pointing out these issues was never approved, and so it never saw the light of day on Lanny’s blog.

In the context of the Arabian proverb, by stretching the term “enemy” to include someone that you disagree with, and the term “friend” to include someone that you agree with:

  • Lanny had set himself up as an “enemy” of Steve
  • I set myself up as an “enemy” of Lanny
  • Lanny assumed that I was a “friend” of Steve

________________________________

Recently, another blog was critical of a proposal that came from the Obama administration.  A writer on this site proposed that maybe the other blogger’s interpretation of the proposal was not reflective of what was intended.  Within just a few comments, the writer and several others on this site were labeled as “Obama fans”.

Using the same terminology as before:

  • The writer on the other blog set up as an “enemy” of Obama
  • Our writer had set himself as an “enemy” of that writer
  • It was assumed by defenders of the first writer that our writer was a “friend” of Obama

_______________________

OK, time for a geek lesson.  At its core, all data is represented by a 0 or a 1.  The numerical system behind this is called binary.  If something is not a 0, then it must be a 1.  And vice versa.  And so if something is “not not 0″, then it must be “not 1″, or 0.

This is the only environment in which “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” can hold true — in a binary world.  Or to put it in less geeky terms, in a (literally) black-and-white world.

But this is not the world in which we live.  If it was, then Paul was clearly in error when he wrote Romans 14, the Bible has errors in it, and we’re all doomed.

Are there black and white issues in this world?  Certainly.  But are those the only colors in this word?  Certainly not.  If they were, then God was clearly in error when He created the rainbow, God is imperfect, and we’re all really doomed.

So why are so many people so eager to doom themselves?

* Names are all changed, as it isn’t necessary.  I know this will upset those that insist that we always “name names”, but seeing as how they expect nothing but bad things from this site anyway, who am I to disappoint them?

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I got an audio cassette in the mail the other day.  It  was unmarked, the envelope had no return address, and the postmark was illegible.  As best I can tell, it’s from a church service.  It appears to be a re-working of Fanny Crosby’s “Rescue the Perishing“.

I had to listen to it a few times to pick up all the lyrics.  I’ll reproduce them here for you.

If anyone knows anything more about this recording, let me know.

 
icon for podpress  Point Out the Perishing: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Point out the perishing, notice the dying,
Snark at them — how pithy — they won’t get on board.
Tsk o’er the erring one, trample the fallen,
Call it a ministry, it’s good in the Lord.

Refrain
Point out the perishing, notice the dying,
You don’t think like I do; you’re going to hell.

Since they have slighted Him, their fate is sealed.
It’s just too late for God to intervene.
Deride them constantly, use lots of quote marks.
They’re dead already; it’s not being mean.

Refrain
Point out the perishing, notice the dying,
You don’t think like I do; you’re going to hell.

Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that you can divine;
You know their deepest thoughts, God told them to you.
Be sure to scoff if someone says “Be kind”.

Refrain
Point out the perishing, notice the dying,
You don’t think like I do; you’re going to hell.

Point out the perishing, God called you to it.
Strength for your blogging the Lord will provide;
But He’s a little short with the finances
Ask for donations while you’re being snide.

Refrain
Point out the perishing, notice the dying,
You don’t think like I do; you’re going to hell.
Point out the perishing, notice the dying,
My God’s a wrathful God; you all are screwed.

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