Daily Archives: 6 Feb 2010

More Proof That the Secularists Get It: Super Bowl Worship

While too many churches pander to the uninterested – trying every worldly tactic in order to ‘bring them in from the fields of sin’ – secularists and columnists and pundits understand exactly what’s going on with such methods far better.

Wake up, Church, wake up!

Men are abandoning church, and desperate pastors are using Super Bowl parties and pro-athlete preachers to bring them back. But is it still God’s house if they worship the quarterback?

Some pastors are desperate.  But only because they think abandoning the Gospel will rescue the church.  It won’t.  And in answer to the question, is it still God’s house if they worship the quarterback, I say yes.  It is God’s house in spite of the idolatry of sportianity.  Sportianity needs to be purged from the Church just as Josiah purged the Temple of the rubbish that had accrued there.

Other Pastors get it.

Others like Sam Masteller, the lead Pastor at Freedom Life Christian Center in Christiana, Pennsylvania, take a harder stance against the time and energy that many of his congregants devote to sports.  “It ticks me off that most men visit God in a comatose state on Sunday morning but passionately worship their sports god on Sunday afternoon,” Masteller said. “Instead of living passionate stories of meaning and purpose they’ve centered their lives around celebrity athletes and the games they play.”

Masteller thinks sports have their redeeming qualities, but is only bothered when they supercede God.  “Of course I do,” he said. “But so many men in our culture live as if God will welcome them into heaven because they drafted a great fantasy team last year. The truth is, no man will ever wish for one more hour of SportsCenter on his death bed.”

Let them call for ESPN’s analyst when they’re lying on their death bed.  Let them call on the god (or rather, idol) they’ve loved their whole lives as their life slips away.

If God, the Lord and Maker of all that is, isn’t good enough for men in America on Sunday Morning for worship, as the object of their true devotion, let them perish with their idols.  Let them die clutching their footballs and their basketballs and their hockey pucks and their helmets and their sports memorabilia.

As Wolfgang Mozart lay dying, his wife sent for the Priest.  The Priest answered her as follows: “If Mozart had no use for God in life, let him leave this place without Him too.  God didn’t need Mozart.  Mozart needed God’.

I concur.

Will Americans Ever Trust Wall Street Again?

Asks the Wall Street Journal.  Let me go ahead and answer that as succinctly and briefly as possible:  NEIN!  No one in their right mind can trust Wall Street, Congress, or the White House, seeing as how they are all in cahoots with one another to impoverish the middle class and enrich the wealthy.

Quote of the Day

It’s the matter, not the manner, that matters.  –  Jim West

You Can’t Add One Thing to Salvation

It is purely by grace, through faith. You don’t earn it or contribute to it in any form, fashion, or function. That’s why Scott’s denunciation of ‘moralist’ theology is so important and worthwhile. Give it a read.

There are far too many persons who secretly think (or maybe not so secretly) that salvation depends on their efforts. Not so. In any respect. The more we learn this and take it to heart the more 1) we turn in utter and absolute dependence on God; and 2) we renounce our own ‘claims’ to God’s goodness, as though he owed it to us.

Pulpit and People: Studies in Eighteenth Century Baptist Life and Thought

James Spinti sent along a copy of this brilliant collection of essays which I am more than a little happy to commend to your attention.  It is made up of 10 essays by as many contributors:

1- The Changing Pattern of Baptist Life in the Eighteenth Century – John Briggs.

2- Benjamin Keech: Tailor Turned Preacher – Austin Walker.

3- Stogdon, Foster, and Bulkeley: Variation on an Eighteenth Century Theme – Stephen Copson.

4- James Fanch: The Spiritual Counsel of an Eighteenth Century Baptist Pastor – Karen Smith.

5- Gilbert Boyce: General Baptist Messenger and Opponent of John Wesley – Clive Jarvis.

6- Benjamin Beddome: His Life and His Hymns – Michael Haykin.

7- David Turner and a Theology of the Church Universal – Paul Fiddes.

8- Andrew Fuller and The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation – PJ Morden.

9- Calen Evans and the Anti-Slavery Question – Roger Hayden.

10- Martha Gurney and William Fox: Baptist Printer and Radical Reformer, 1791-1794 – Timothy Whelan.

The volume includes an index and an introductory essay by the editor as well as brief bios of all the contributors.

Especially engaging is the essay by Jarvis.  I never knew that Wesley had such opponents.  Perhaps he deserved them.  And especially eye-opening is Smith’s essay on Rev. Fanch.  If you think you’ve served a cantankerous and miserly church, wait till you read of his adventures at Romsey (England).  It amazes me that he remained in the ministry at all.  His modern counterparts would give up without blinking.

You’ll learn much about Baptists in the 18th century from this little collection.  So, with Richard Picard, I say that this book ‘is a must read’.

Don’t Grow Weary In Well Doing

The Christians who went to Haiti to help, motivated only by love, continue to languish in jail.  Back home, the folk they left behind are wondering what could have been done differently.

Family and friends of the group members have said little critical of Ms. Silsby or the churches that helped promote the trip. Mr. Lankford said that he was not sure how well his family members knew Ms. Silsby, but that their understanding was that logistical and legal details in Haiti were “being taken care of.” … Central Valley Baptist, which had allowed members of the news media to work in its common areas earlier in the week, locked its doors after the Americans were charged on Thursday afternoon and would not allow the press in on Friday.

Five of the Americans attend Central Valley, and three attend East Side Baptist in Twin Falls. One is from a Baptist church in Kansas. Another, Jim Allen, Mr. Thompson’s cousin, lives in Amarillo, Tex., where he owns a small welding shop. An employee at the shop said Mr. Allen had received an e-mail message about the Haiti trip through a church in Amarillo that his parents and Paul Thompson’s parents attend. “He decided to go help,” said the employee, Linda Hand. “He was very excited to go help the children. That’s just the type of heart that he has, and we’re all very proud of him.”

The one thing that shouldn’t happen in the wake of all this is that good hearted people intent on fulfilling the call of the Gospel become discouraged or afraid to help. Don’t grow weary in well doing.

More of the Making of Christianity A Farce: Ultimate Fighting

Churches interested in attracting 18-35 year old males have stooped to what has to be the lowest stoopage in offering ‘worshipers’ ultimate fighting.

The New York Times reports, after a few lead paragraphs

Mr. Renken’s ministry is one of a small but growing number of evangelical churches that have embraced mixed martial arts — a sport with a reputation for violence and blood that combines kickboxing, wrestling and other fighting styles — to reach and convert young men, whose church attendance has been persistently low. Mixed martial arts events have drawn millions of television viewers, and one was the top pay-per-view event in 2009.

Ah yes, the Prince of Peace combined with pure unmixed violence… what’s not to love about that? (Besides just about everything).

Recruitment efforts at the churches, which are predominantly white, involve fight night television viewing parties and lecture series that use ultimate fighting to explain how Christ fought for what he believed in. Other ministers go further, hosting or participating in live events. … The goal, these pastors say, is to inject some machismo into their ministries — and into the image of Jesus — in the hope of making Christianity more appealing. “Compassion and love — we agree with all that stuff, too,” said Brandon Beals, 37, the lead pastor at Canyon Creek Church outside of Seattle. “But what led me to find Christ was that Jesus was a fighter.”

I guess the promoters have chosen to ignore the fact that ‘we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in the heavenly places’. Even when Jesus purified the Temple he drove out the animals with his whip and overturned the tables of the money changers, but never laid a hand on any person there.

But why trouble themselves with proper exegesis or even the smallest semblance of theological correctness when it’s all about getting adolescent males interested in ‘christianity’?

Nondenominational evangelical churches have a long history of using popular culture — rock music, skateboarding and even yoga — to reach new followers. Yet even among more experimental sects, mixed martial arts has critics.

Yeah and what they’ve built on their foundation of sand, like the fads they are, is nothingness.

These folk simply can’t see that they are doing far more harm to Christian faith than they are doing good. The church they wish to build is not the Church of Christ. It is the church of man. And at least some folk (besides me at least) seem to get that.

“What you attract people to Christ with is also what you need to get people to stay,” said Eugene Cho, 39, a pastor at Quest Church, an evangelical congregation in Seattle. “I don’t live for the Jesus who eats red meat, drinks beer and beats on other men.” … Robert Brady, 49, the executive vice president of a conservative evangelical group, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, agreed, saying that the mixed martial arts motif of evangelism “so easily takes away from the real focus of the church, which is the Gospel.” Many black churches have chosen not to participate.

Black churches have more sense than some of their white counterparts.

N.b.– I hadn’t even heard of this insanity until they picked it to shreds on NPR’s Wait Wait this morning. It never ceases to amaze me that many secular persons understand the purpose of the Church better than some of its so called members.

Bad Criminal

Not bad in the sense of evil or wicked or cruel- bad in the sense of inept or incompetent.  You’ll see what I mean when you read this little tale.

The moral of the story?  If you’re going to rob banks, learn to speak clearly.

Servetus in Geneva: The Play

A play written in the 30’s is being revived and if you’re interested in it, you can check out the details here.  Now that would be fun to see!

Europa Reformata

It’s a new website in German and English featuring Reformed news and documents.    Or as it describes itself the- Website of the European Area of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. Check it out.  I’m also adding a link to the sidebar.

The Prosperity Gospel: An Infection in the Body of Christ

Have a look at this essay on the subject.  I think it spot on.  I especially agree with the statement that

… blame for the rampant “disease” shouldn’t fall on the TV evangelists, [Sam] Storms noted.

“I want to lay it (the blame) at our feet,” he said.

“It’s the pastors and leaders of the church today who fail to explain from the biblical text how hardship and tribulation are actually used by God to expose the superficiality of all the human material props on which we rely,” he explained. “We failed … to show … how hardship and persecution and slander compel us to rely on the all-sufficiency of everything God is for us in Jesus.”

That failure has left most professing Christians unable to grasp “the simple truth” that “infinitely more important and of immeasurably greater value than our physical comfort in this world is our spiritual conformity to Christ,” Storms noted.

Absolutely.

If You’re In Milwaukee

You may be interested in knowing that

Biblical scholar and Orthodox Jew James L. Kugel will be in Milwaukee this weekend for a series of lectures meant to kick off a planned two-year statewide Hebrew Bible study initiative that would include all branches of Judaism and the interfaith community.

Kugel, of Bar Ilan University in Israel and author of the book “How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture Then and Now,” is the first in a series of speakers planned for the project. The study portion is expected to launch in the fall, said Kathy Jendusa, executive director of the Glendale-based Wisconsin Society for Jewish Learning.

Kugel will be speaking on a variety of topics, including how to read the Bible, at the Jewish Community Center and local congregations. For a list of topics, times and locations, go to http://www.wsjl.org or call (414) 963-4135.