October 18, 2017

Open Forum — September 18, 2014

three_stooges_golf

I will be participating in our annual charity golf tournament for the Daniel Mercer Family Fund today, so I thought it would provide a perfect opportunity to hand the keys to the shop over to you and give you the chance to talk about subjects you’d like to discuss.

It would be especially nice to hear from some new readers or infrequent commenters today.

In the nearly five years since I started writing for IM, I have noticed that the community of those who comment tends to wax and wane. Also, most of the time the published conversations end up representing relatively few voices among the thousands of readers that visit Internet Monk each day. That’s just how things work, but on days like today, we have a nice chance to invite those who may not normally weigh in to say “hello” and let us know their thoughts.

So, please participate as you wish, and welcome.

The rules of an Open Forum are mostly common sense and governed by the law of love:

  • All are welcome here. You don’t have to sign a doctrinal statement or know the secret handshake.
  • Be respectful of others. Disagree if you must, but don’t be disagreeable.
  • Try to be as concise and clear in your comments as possible.
  • Don’t dominate the discussion.
  • Remember: we don’t question others’ salvation around here or try to convert others to our tribe. Don’t be the one to start.
  • Please listen.
  • We recommend not using links because the filters will get’cha and I won’t be around to let you out of moderation jail. If you want to point someone to an article, etc., try to do it without using the actual URL.
  • Dead horses should not be beaten, but buried. Know when it’s time to stop sluggin’ and start diggin’.

Enjoy the day and the conversation.

And while you’re thinking up something to discuss, here’s your Chaplain, getting ready for the links today:

 

Comments

  1. Dan from Georgia says:

    First? An an infrequent commenter here!

  2. Dan from Georgia says:

    Love The Three Stooges pic up top.

  3. The new U2 album. Opinions? go.

    • MelissatheRagamuffin says:

      I haven’t listened to it. I really haven’t cared for post Rattle and Hum U2 much except for the odd song here and there. And, no, I”m not happy about a free album auto downloading on my $500 phone. I only have a limited amount of storage on the thing, and I’d prefer to fill it with things I actually like. Now, if Apple wanted to give me AC/DCs next album for free that would be awesome!

      • That’s an Apple problem. They didn’t account for people who had auto-download set up on their phones. For the rest of us who don’t have that enabled, we had to physically click to download.

        A free gift isn’t always free or easy, lol.

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

        Count me in on free AC/DC!

    • Better than anything since Pop, but not coming close to their Classics. Are we grading it against everything else that has come out this year? If so, it is great! But if we are comparing it to their own work – on a scale of 1 to Achtung – then 6, maybe 7. Bono’s lyrics aren’t as forced on this one (no intellectual tortoises, force quits & move to trash, etc), but nothing like they were back in the good ole days. Of course, I’m nothing like I was back in the good ole days either…

      I believe that if you take this and the 3 albums prior, select songs from each, you could make a great U2 album.

    • Fantastic. Best U2 album since Pop. Danger Mouse and Flood have been excellent producers and reinforces my belief that Lanois/Eno was around a little too long. Some of the best yet simplistic songs U2 has written in years, with very personal opinions and facts coming through the lyrics. Whether they will play live well remains to be seen, but I’m very grateful for this album.

      Still wish we’d get the *real* No Line on the Horizon/Songs of Ascent, though.

    • I found it to be OK. Listened to it twice through and thought I’d like it better as random songs popping up when I shuffle my whole iPod. I find a lot of albums are like that for me, though.

    • I liked it upon first listen. Seemed a bit “lighter” and “fresher” than most of theirs.

      That said, and I know this runs against most U2 fans’ opinions, I think their last one, No Line on the Horizon, was one of their best.

      Also, has anyone popped Zooropa in lately? I put it into my rotation a few months back and…Man, o man…that’s a great album!!!

      • No Line on the Horizon was fantastic!! Still bummed they weren’t fully supporting or playing it in 2011…

      • Yeah, Zooropa is great. I thought it was pretty lousy when it came out 20 years ago. I’ve been listening to the older albums recently to try to gauge Songs against them. Zooropa was a big surprise. Unfortunately, Pop was not.

        Side question – what made you like No Line on the Horizon so much? I’ve listened to it a bunch but don’t really remember it all that well.

        • re: NLOTH – I found many of the songs to be deeply spiritual, so that resonated with me.

        • Ditto what Marc B. said. There was a spiritualness to the NLOTH songs that I really found compelling. In fact, in an odd twist to normal first-time-album-listening, I actually READ the lyrics to NLOTH before listening to the album, and was kinda blown away by their poetic and spiritual nature. Then when I listened to the music, I liked the melding of instrumentaion and message.

        • Oh, and regarding Zooropa…same as you, I thought it SUCKED upon first few listens. In fact, I pretty much recall putting the thing on the shelf for a long, long time. Then, maybe a year or two later, I pulled it out and thought, “Why didn’t I like this? It’s awesome!”

          Every time I play it now, I think the same thing: What did I not like about this, why did I shelve it for so long?

        • Breathe got me through the death of a close friend. I lived the lyrics.

          Magnificent is the best worship song written since I Still Haven’t Found.

          I don’t know…the album just clicked. Time and place, it got into me.

          I’d recommend revisiting Pop but swapping out some of the single mixes for the album mix. The album is admittedly not that great, but they finished or cleaned up a lot of the songs when they released them as singles or on the Best of 1990 compilation!

          • Agree about Magnificent.

            I think the first 6 songs or so of Pop were stellar. Live version of Gone is great. It was the rest of Pop that sucked.

          • Magnificent is a beautiful song, but Walk On is the one U2 song that always moves me to the edge of tears, and at the same time speaks to the hope in my heart.

          • My fave off NLOTH is “Moment of Surrender.” That one usually moves me to the edge of tears. “White as Snow” is pretty darn good, too.

    • Re: U2 – I like the new album, and I did like NLOTH except for a couple of songs (Crazy Tonight, Boots, etc). I’ve been a long time fan (since the 80’s) and do feel a strong connection with their music, so I’m biased, but I’m okay with that. I think it’s pretty amusing seeing the reaction out there to U2. At the end of the day it’s just music. You either like it or you don’t. Looking at all the critical reviews, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more diverse reaction, down to each song. I’ve read reviews that said “The Troubles” was the best track they’ve heard in years, while others think it’s terrible. But that’s music for you. One thing I’ll say: I don’t remember the last time I listened to an album where so many of the song melodies are stuck in my head. It’s not like there’s anything truly groundbreaking or innovative on SOI, but I think that melody really is their gift (Bono himself has said this in interviews). With U2, there’s always more underneath than you see at first. IMHO.

  4. The Scottish independence referendum. Will the Scots have their freeeeeeeeeeeeeeedooooooooooooom? Is/was that a good idea?

    • ….tonite they’re gonna party like it’s 1745!!

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      We have been encouraged not to post links, so for insightful commentary on the question, I refer you to Google “Groundskeeper Willie Scottish independence”.

    • I am a Scot and a definite voter for staying part of the UK. Most of the smart money seems to be on a narrow victory for the status quo, though betting and polls sometimes fail to accurately predict the eventual outcome of such things. Is it a good thing? It depends on how you see it. If you’re part of any democracy, you have times when the people you didn’t vote for get into power and do things you don’t really want, and this is quite pronounced in Scotland (and north England) whenever the Conservative party get into power, as they have practically no support up north. And voters for Independence would say that they want to be free from this. But the other side are the benefits from remaining part of the partnership and whether you think they outweigh the more irksome aspects.

      • Amidst the euphoria, I can’t see where the whole thing has been thought through, because the ramifications are tremendous and will have political and economic repercussions for years to come. Like having a baby, how well-prepared are the Scots to handle it once its home? Another question: what will be needed to reconcile a politically-spilt Scotland upon the off chance of a “no” vote?

        • Sounds a bit like the debate around the year 1776…..yet the declaration was signed.

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

          Well this American thinks “voting” on separation is silly. If your partnership with the imperialists is so congenial that you can just vote to leave, then it is probably a partnership worth preserving. I’m confident that if George had been a little less egoistic and more politically saavy, the USA would still be part of the UK.

    • So apparently one of my relatives was a member of Scottish parliament who was essentially a spy for the Pretender during the negotiations over the Act of Union in 1707. He discovered and publicized that numerous Scottish parlimentarians had been bribed and had to flee the country.

      That aside, I do hope that the referendum fails because both Scotland and England would lose some of their influence and stability were they to split up. I do think Scotland would benefit greatly from greater autonomy, as would the various regions of England, but not at the expense of undoing their own form of Union.

    • PLEASE look up John Oliver’s take on it on Youtube. SO funny!

    • Faulty O-Ring says:

      Looks like it’s got nae faloorum.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Has anyone reached the former “William Wallace II” for comment?

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

        Real Scots wouldn’t vote. They would ride into London on tanks and take what is theirs by Manly Force!!!

        – William Wallace II

        P.S. Why does MD seem to be so easily and thoroughly influenced by whatever movie he has watched recently?

  5. Is your theology exclusive (salvation is only where profession of Jesus Christ is explicit; there is no salvation outside the Church), inclusive (Jesus Christ and the Church are present wherever redemptive acts occur, whether the brand name is there or not; wherever salvation occurs, the Church is present, whether seen or unseen), pluralist (there is salvation in Jesus Christ and his Church, but there are other kinds of salvation in other religions and non-religions; our faith is but one planet among many different ones, all orbiting the same unnamed sun of sacred reality [thank you, John Hick, for the metaphor])?

    • For the sake of transparency I will say that I’m essentially inclusivist, leaning in the exclusivist direction.

      • I am an inclusivist more so than not. I truly believe in an age of accountability. I always get the picture that Christ could have redeemed those before His coming. Whether its true or not who knows. Always I say whatever it is You want to do is okay with me and if I might help that would be good too. Never worried about end times because I can do nothing about it. What I wonder and ask for are the things I so love here. For instance the precious animals he has put in my life and how I want them around me always and forever. I would like the to lay the precious stones for the Saints to walk on as I am a ceramic tile and marble fellow here and I love working with my hands. Sorry I’m off topic. I wonder if there will be time to spend alone with just Him and I as I so love here. Well anyways, If He wants to do it I’m in and if I can help may it be by His grace that I am able to. On the other hand those who do not love the light will probably get there desire and live in tormenting drama and strife mixed with chaos for eternity. A place where it is impossible to be filled or at peace swirling for ever consuming self in a toilet bowl of self loathing and hate. In case you wonder how I know I’ve been there and weeping and gnashing of teeth seem to understate it by a bunch and I only got a taste. So to say I would not want one to go there, oh if it could only be so.

    • I am an inclusivist universalist – all people are saved through Jesus, “…the saviour of all men, especially those who believe” (I Timothy 4:10)

      • I’ve found myself drifting toward this perspective, too. And about five or ten years ago, I would’ve considered myself a heretic because of it.

        Ah, the glorious mysteries of God, Christ and Holy Spirit!

        The bottom line for me is: I don’t know how Jesus saves, when He saves, who He saves…I just know He saves.

        • I find it amazing that God is so much more merciful, so much more generous than we thought or feared or imagined.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > Is your theology exclusive | inclusive | pluralist

      I have no idea. Pragmatically I trend toward exclusive, but if it turns out not to work that way I’ll just shrug.

      Of course then there is the rats nest of what “salvation” means. Does it mean something more/other than buring-in-the-pit-where-the-fire-is-never-quenced-and-the-worm-never-dies? I strongly suspect the answer is yes.

      > one planet among many different ones

      That is a open question. We have no data what-so-ever to come to any conclusions. And perhaps it wouldn’t matter – the story of Mankind may be distinct from the story of Europeans. The Creator we encounter in Scripture seems very willing to say this-is-not-your-concern-tend-to-your-business.

      And we might, after all, be completely alone – the sole race of incarnate beings pondering the horrific vastness of flame and frigid that is the universe. That certainly would be a way for the Creator to make a point.

      • MelissatheRagamuffin says:

        I lean toward exclusivist, and have become more theologically conservative over the past several years. But, if it turns out that inclusivism is right – then yay!

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

          I think the problem is that we can clearly see some people who are wicked, vile, and clearly want no part of the kingdom revealed by Jesus. Nietzsche comes to mind. He was appalled by the idea that Christians help the weak and afflicted. And if you believe in free will, you sort of have to believe in the exclusion of some. I think this was C.S. Lewis’ position. I do tend toward inclusivism for a couple of reasons. First, if coming into eternal relationship with God requires a kind of intellectual assent, then all babies and a great deal of the mentally feeble are without any hope. Second, what is the difference between the pagan who dies in Papua New Guinea without ever hearing one word of the gospel, and the infant who can’t understand it? An “age of accountability” doesn’t work here, because even if the pagan tries to do right by his own conscience, he still will never have access to the Jesus story. It’s a thorny question, to be sure, and I am not dogmatic about anything except that God is love and has entered into human history to redeem mankind and defeat evil.

    • The continuing discovery of exoplanets certainly opens up some tantalizing thoughts, and Pope Francis has informally raised the assumption that God’s grace extends through his galactic domain. It’s of course fun to speculate. This is no longer campy Forbidden Planet or kooky Area 51 stuff , but raises all sorts of issues that transcend our earth-bound theologies. What would Ken Ham say, for example, about an habitabited planet some 50 light-years distant? Would they all be Perelandras? Will we all be hieing to Kolob? Or, does the whole creation groan because of man’s disobedience to God and suffer under the judgment of humans on earth? These galactic good/evil Manichean themes are the beard-and-butter of sci-fi fantasies like Star Wars, but rarely preoccupy the minds of theologians. There will undoubtedly be a time soon when science causes a more serious look.

      Insofar as earth-dwellers are concerned, I like what Jürgen Moltmann found himself musing, “If I examine myself seriously, I find that I have to say: I myself am not a universalist, but God may be one.” If Edward Carnell hadn’t suffered an untimely death, evangelical thinking might have been more influenced toward inclusionism, but even Clark Pinnock uses the term ‘pre-Christian’ to paraphrase how St. Peter describes God as accepting “from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right”. Clearly, God’s desire is for all to be saved. And there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind. Jesus will draw all people to himself. I happen to be an inclusionist, not a universalist. Jesus redeemed the entire world. But God’s desire for all to be saved does not lead to all being saved. I do not believe all roads lead to God; neither do I place arbitrary bounds on God’s love. For me, its an open question that our love for neatly-packaged boxes of systematic theology avoids. But then again, we are not intended to be insiders on a lot of what God does, despite our presumption to think like he does.

      • “What would Ken Ham say, for example, about a habitabited planet some 50 light-years distant?”

        We would probably find life that would be in the middle of our own human evolutionary process, using our “observational science” to disprove Ham’s “historical science.” I’m sure he would come up with some creative, scientifically illiterate explanation.

        • Headles Unicorn Guy says:

          “They are NOT “aliens”. They are Fallen Ones, here to deceive us. No, I am not a conspiracy crackhead.”
          — one of the comments here on Internet Monk when they subject was ET life

          Like a darker version of Blish’s novel A Case of Conscience.

      • It has always amazed me that in the Bible people who have visited Heaven have seen all these magnificent creations. Then in our narrow mindedness we some how believe we are it. I love when Hawking says there must be dimensions we cannot see into and then in the end concludes there is no God. I think he might stay around awhile till he gets it and I hope he does. Sometimes intellect truly is the greatest hurdle to overcome. I hope he does. So Angels have visited earth and people have seen are not these testimonies of more value than a scientist who only puts together that which he cannot see. Many times proven wrong and finding incompleteness to be a part of scientific research I root them on for I know in the end it will only point to God. Now for sure this Ham is certainly a ham and loves the spotlight and is easily dismissed as one who has found a way to fund his life. I for one would want to see how his take on things is pointing to Christ or is it just distraction which would mean it is not of God. Yet, then again when someone mentions God’s name does it not further His cause regardless of intentions. Oh well I think I will see soon enough and I have death to go through here and I am certainly going to need a hand there Jesus.

        • Forgive me, I have off a couple of days and I get to spend hours instead of an hour. This came out this morning and I wanted to share it.
          These thoughts above

          Tears of love dampen the page
          Such love grows in the heart given
          Beyond mercies paying wage
          This full life to find worth living

          Personally to come and serve
          A way is made where feet are set
          By precious love poured out to learn
          Expectancy in things not yet

          Our Father how grand You are
          The rod of comfort that lifts above
          Hope that rises with Morning Star
          Knowing this heart is filled with love

          Inside the beat within our chest
          Finding ours being made like Yours
          Together we find this very best
          A storm of rain in blessings pours

          Thoughts of goodness like sand on a beach
          They too pour in the hourglass of time
          I wonder what we will find within our reach
          Such blessings to be poured out on all mankind

          • Beautiful. Your own work, then? I’ve got a slew of my own poems, most of which aren’t very good…

    • I tend toward the inclusivist position. On a day that I am feeling really daring, I take Mike D’s “inclusivist universalist” position.

      It makes sense to me to argue that Christianity (or whatever religion turns out to be most true) actually says something that is uniquely important and beneficial. Christianity asserts that God has been revealed in the incarnate Christ in a definite, extraordinarily consequential way. Likewise, if salvation includes participation in Christ and if sacraments are means of grace (which I hold), then Christianity “has something” on its competitors and has a proclamation to make.

      It also makes sense to me to recognize goodness and beauty wherever it is found, and it seems to me this is evident across a very wide variety of human experience. To assert a rigidly exclusivist position discourages full appreciation of this fact. In my experience, it seems to go along with imagination that is rather closed off, out of a need to make whatever beauty there has been outside my own movements / culture merely trivial or empty, because it is too threatening to say otherwise. It further makes sense to me that where one finds goodness and beauty, God is somehow to be found as well and that one might expect to find God in all kinds of places. So my leaning is to assert that “redemptive acts” occur in other contexts, using what is in those contexts. The vehicle would still be Christ. The proclamation of Christianity would therefore fulfill or speak to elements of the non Christian religion or culture, rather than being something that is from start to finish inimical. One’s mind wanders to Mars Hill: “I know your unnamed God.”

      I am open to John Hick’s separate planets metaphor. I have no personal need to be on anything but one of many planets. My only concern to hang onto traditional Christology. Also, to the comfort that God can be known in some religious particulars, and is not merely a “sacred reality” that is entirely beyond the knowable. I’m not saying that ‘sacred reality’ has that implication for Hicks – I don’t recall what his argument is. But if it were the implication, “sacred reality” leaves me with a very lofty sense for what God is, but has the effect of leaving me feeling a bit alone the dark. I’m too small and mean for a sacred reality.

      • In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably state that my personal concerns inform my perspective. I can almost deal with surd evil and the ferocity of humanity if I can assert that among all that tumult there is also persistent beauty. Also, that the face of reality is God, who is love, and that there is something relentless in that love, and that this divine eagerness—as revealed in the incarnation, the cross, and the resurrection–validates and fuels that capacity of people for love. That is, for me, the fabric of hope. So my instinct is to want to assert Christ’s centrality and to be expecting Christ everywhere.

        I’m correspondingly troubled by the idea that God can only reach or only cares to reach a small sliver of humanity, or by any suggestion that imagination should pull back from an appreciation of good wherever it is, or by the suggestion that almost all of reality or lived experience is bereft of good. Frankly, my anxiety is that if there is only a sliver of humanity or experience that relates to God, the statistical chances that I am anywhere near it are small (whatever my conceits might be). The suggestion pulls the rug quite out from under my feet. So far as I can tell, I can chase certainty in knowledge around in circles forever, and not catch it. Last time I tried, I would up praying that even if I’m totally wrong about everything, let me somehow be in the backwater of the backwater of backwater of grace. That’s enough. Just please let there be a backwater.

        If there is only a sliver of the world where God is, and I am in it, I guess that is good news of a sort. But the fabric of reality and the fate of humanity is still too sad to contemplate. What I would usually say to myself following that sentence is too dark and not a good thing; so I’ll stop.

        I am not sure what I wrote above necessitates any one of the three views. But that is what simmer’s beneath the surface when I get on this topic.

        • *simmer’s = simmers

          (corrected because someone once set grammar ninjas after me)

        • +1000 Danielle. I’m unable to talk myself into certainty in matters of faith. I’m learning how to stop trying, slowly, laboriously, but I’m learning. I can do nothing but lean into the trust that God is more compassionate and loving than I am competent to get either the important or not so important things right.

          • “Lean into the trust” – I like this. Sometimes I trust. But I think “lean in” it captures the truth of the matter.

            God keep you.

        • “Just please let there be a backwater.”

          In Georges Bernanos’ novel, “Diary of a Country Priest,” the last words of the protagonist, a young, unnamed priest, as he dies of complications from stomach cancer in his indigent friend’s hovel of a home are, “All is grace.”

          And why shouldn’t I dare to say as much to you, Danielle?

          All is grace.

    • My definition of “exclusivism”? Let’s see…

      But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10.9-11)

      And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16.31)

      Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2.16)

      Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. (1 John 5.1)

      “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4.12)

      And my all-time favorite,

      Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14.6)

      As for my definition of “inclusivism,” couldn’t find it anywhere in Scripture. I have, however, heard folks use this,

      For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. (Romans 2.14)

      But at best that’s a weak argument for inclusivism. It may work for those who have never heard the gospel, but not for those who have heard it and outright rejected it.

    • Faulty O-Ring says:

      Postmodern. All of these are true utterances within their respective language games, just as “Batman’s parents were killed by the Joker” and “Batman’s parents were killed by Joe Chill” can both be considered true statements.

  6. Just was wondering…does anyone know how Jeff Dunn is doing with his fight w/depression?

  7. What? No secret handshakes? Chaplain Mike, you’re no fun! 😛

  8. “In the name of ‘Yeezus’, rise up and walk!”

  9. Rick Ro, May God bless you this weekend with a power and love flowing through your heart as you have not experienced yet. Don’t be afraid to go where he leads you. You will be in my heart.

  10. Presumably God doesn’t experience or is confined to linear time the way we experience it – He stands outside of time. When all is made new, is the newness only for the present moment I experience or would restorative salvation work backwards in my history? For instance, where I’ve failed as a friend, husband a father in my past – would that be made new? What would that look like if the roles/vocation God had for me were perfectly renewed – would those people and relationships I encountered also be effected and made new?

    • When we stand outside of time as we know it will not all those things You have mentioned have been accomplished and within the same forgiveness and love not matter as much as they might now. Then we will always be experiencing things in the here and now also.

    • I believe that there is a redemption of the past for those who are redeemed. I believe we will look backward and see truly that the Kingdom had come, and that we were dwelling with Him, and that his redemptive purpose had swallowed our lives even at the worst moments. Consequently, we will not look back with any regret, pain, or woundedness about what has happened to us, and what we have done. “Everything bad will come untrue” in the words of, I believe, CS Lewis.

  11. Many of my friends belong to churches that are increasingly influenced by charismatic, third wave, NAR teachings and practices. One of the aspects of this influence is getting caught up in the notion of “prayer changes things” or “pray until something happens”– coupled with the notion of strategic spiritual warfare, advancing the kingdom by taking back the world (and culture and society) from the grip of Satan. The resultant practices can be quite bizarre, to put it charitably. I find this influence to be– well, I find it jarring; it makes me uneasy; and sometimes it makes me feel like some kind of cultic virus has hijacked these churches and is taking them in a direction that God didn’t intend for them to go. I find communities like this one (along with Phx Preacher and White Horse Inn to name just a few) to be an oasis of sanity and a source of healthy teaching. Any recommendations for resources on developing a more grounded perspective on prayer? Aside from– or rather, in addition to– some of the stuff Chaplain Mike has been sharing, which I’ve found quite helpful….

    Oh, and PS: Part of this influence also results in a strange (to me at least) perspective on the Lord’s Supper as some kind of a Pac Man power pill. At one church service I was at, an elder played a video by Gregory Dickow of Life Changers Church where he talked about the power of communion and receiving the favor of God (there, I’ve given you all the relevant Google search terms, so you can find the video on your own without me giving you the link). Check it out. I found it very unsettling. Not quite as unsettling as Tokin the Ghost– but headed in that direction.

    And I just realized I may have already posted about this last topic at

    • )continued) at a previous open forum. If that’s indeed e case, I apologize for bringing the issue up again….

      • It would seem that the early church was plaque with many different spirits that of course were rejected as heresy by councils. No matter why it certainly does take our attention off of Christ which would make me believe that it accomplished what it wanted. I belong to a Charismatic church and it has taught me alot. Some of it isn’t so good and some of it is. Communion to me is not eating my own flesh to be filled up which can never happen but sharing in the flesh of my redeemer which does fill me up and make me complete in Him by which we form a union but not just to Him but to all others who do the same. When a man said he went to hell he saw there many who were pulling off their own flesh and eating it. I get it. This is what happens when we engage in all types of sin in a way we are trying to fulfill ourselves and never can. So this type of torture leads us to self loathing and hatred of ourselves which we were never made for or to be alone outside of His will. Fallen.
        My opinion is that some of these spirits still survive today and we see things like this of the earlier churches in our churches today. In other words they have a root. I have come across it in reading and it was like the light going off. I have seen spirits that seem a little bit off in certain “conferences” and I could not place my finger on it but something didn’t settle right. It was in my reading earlier things some of which I discovered by reading this post as well as others. Thing is the take on it I get and it is to keep exhibiting the love of Christ as best able and let Him handle it. That is the answer I get. I know that He is able and we will meet these people again for I don’t think they will be plucked from His hand. Always more but I’m done for the day till I read this again tonight

        • “When a man said he went to hell he saw there many who were pulling off their own flesh and eating it.”

          No, that didn’t happen, nor did he. Stop. Stop right there. It’s crap like that that means I won’t go back to the pentecostal/charismatic world. Either reject the Bible completely and become like the Mormons or accept it and gain back some credibility.

        • w, to clarify, I’m not attacking you. I’m speaking generally. I’ve had enough of bs stories from charismatics. I’ve had enough of the “heroes of the faith” being swindlers and idolaters and adulters and whatnot. I’ve had enough of the Wigglesworths and their prideful anti-intellectualism and illiteracy, the McPhersons and their empire building and Hollywood hookups, the Dowies and their political and geographical ponzie schemes, the Bickles and their harps and shit bowls, and so much, so much more. By their fruit you shall know them, right? So quit excusing their “sin” or their “flesh” when 100% of what they are is bs. How can anyone take of these leaders seriously when they look up to the worse of false teachers? Oh, they gleamed the 1% of good meat from the 99% bones? No. It’s all bad. It’s all bs.

          Just. Stop.

          • Peace From The Fringes says:

            That was a delicious rant. I imagine that you are great fun at cocktail parties.

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            On a related note, this was fascinating:
            http://blog.longreads.com/2014/09/16/oral-roberts-family-history/

            The full title of the piece is “The Prodigal Prince: Richard Roberts and the Decline of the Oral Roberts Dynasty.”

          • The fun starts once someone starts responding!

            It may have been a rant, and I know what’s currently sparking it, but I’d like someone to engage with what I put forth.

          • Fascinating piece, Richard!

            “Success without a successor is failure” – think this sums up so much of the pentecostal world. One man or woman gets a vision or power or whatnot, and over time it either morphs into a generic denomination or crumbles to dust. IMO, evidence that the Spirit of Christ was nowhere near or left long ago. Were they used by God? If a trail of healed people is their only inheritance, I don’t know; if there are churches and saved lives, probably.

            What happens when unsaved people get filled with the “Holy Spirit”? Who knows…power without salvation, miracles without fruit.

          • It’s okay Stuart I do understand as I am having a lot of problems with some things too in these circles. Some of which I would consider BS too. It is probably why I am here. Whether the man who died and came back was in spirit or there physically I don’t know. I can’t substantiate this I only said I understand much better Jesus saying you must eat of my flesh because of it. I have been hurt too and it takes me some time before I can go on. Even if they are doing all that is what you say I would not want for one to perish. I have a hard enough time with those that are close to me but I still love them. It doesn’t matter what I believe in regards to how I judge things because if I had to choose between which one of my children would have to perish I could not do it. By the way I was not this man. I have experienced hell on earth and nearly died but its okay you don’t have to believe me. I have a testimony and I know its true. Is that testimony subject to change I certainly hope so in the way that it will go on and be made complete as I know yours will be too. I never said I was Charismatic and really much of the hocus pocus stuff and say it this way and if you pray this way and all of that I just don’t know about or do I so much seek. I have listened though and I hear you too. I hope to remember in my judgements to pray for mercy for those God shows me stuff about. Maybe I can learn from that.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I’ve had enough of
            1) the Wigglesworths and their prideful anti-intellectualism and illiteracy,
            2) the McPhersons and their empire building and Hollywood hookups,
            3) the Dowies and their political and geographical ponzie schemes,
            4) the Bickles and their harps and shit bowls, and so much, so much more.

            Can you point me to some encyclopedia-article-type summary of the above? I’d really like to know a bit about all four of those, especially “the Bickles and their harps and shitbowls”. Now that sounds seriously WEIRD.

            Oh, they gleamed the 1% of good meat from the 99% bones?

            Tip: When someone tells you to “chew the meat and spit out the bones”, assume they’re trying to unload a bag of bones on you until proven otherwise.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            The full title of the piece is “The Prodigal Prince: Richard Roberts and the Decline of the Oral Roberts Dynasty.”

            That reads like a family history straight out of Game of Thrones, with Oral Roberts in the Patriarch niche of Tywin Lannister. Only thing that’s missing are the “hot scenes” to lure in viewers, but the dynastic politics is identical.

          • HUG, wish I could. I’ve gotten a lot of it from intense study over the past ten years. Wikipedia is a good place to start. Any history of pentecostalism and protestantism or north american religion.

            And yeah. It’s a big bag of bones. The trick is when they get you to want to believe it so badly you gladly accept the cognitive dissonance. Until, one day, you can’t. And things are never the same.

          • The Bickle “harp and shit bowl” refers to Mike Bickle’s view that “Harp & Bowl” worship was what King David did in the Tabernacle/Temple, and that’s how it’s mirrored in heaven. Thus, if we do it here, it honors God most, and the prayers go up 24/7. Or something.

            He’s got a lot of weird training manuals about, 30-40 page books that seem to change every year with subtle emphasises or assertions, to the point where modern users would look at 5-10 year old versions and call them weird.

          • Ok, more history.

            Wigglesworth would proudly proclaim the only book he read and EVER read was the Bible. It was his source of power.

            McPherson build Angelus Temple in LA in the 20s and started FourSquare churches. She was heavily rumored to be sleeping around and went through a few husbands. Also some weird disappearing acts. She’s immortalized in Elmer Gantry and had a sex change in There Will Be Blood.

            Dowie built an entire city for God, Zion Illionois, and ruled it like a ponzi scheme and morality police state.

            And from these three, dozens were influenced, who influenced the Oral Roberts and the Mike Bickles.

            It’s like a steady stream trickling down from the outhouse.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            He’s got a lot of weird training manuals about, 30-40 page books that seem to change every year with subtle emphasises or assertions, to the point where modern users would look at 5-10 year old versions and call them weird.

            Then I’m surprised he didn’t make it into Donna Kossy’s book KOOKS: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief. Because THAT’s a Kookarama shtick.

    • Yeah I’ve been down that road a few years ago. Cultic Virus is an apt description.

      it’s noble they want to pray until something happens. Problem is, they won’t do anything til they pray til something happens. People won’t even leave their apartments until they receive a word from the Lord that they should go to work…

      it’s ridiculous.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        it’s noble they want to pray until something happens. Problem is, they won’t do anything til they pray til something happens.

        It’s the Sundown Observance scene from Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards

        People won’t even leave their apartments until they receive a word from the Lord that they should go to work…

        In the early Empire period, some Romans (a lot of them practicing skeptics or effective atheists) were so superstitious they wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning until they had a soothsayer take the Omens or an astrologer cast their horoscope for the day.

    • Randy Thompson says:

      RE”More grounded perspective on prayer”:

      I have been slowly and prayerfully reading Andrew Murray’s “With Christ in the School of Prayer.” I have not read a book that has been more spiritually rewarding and deeply relevant in a long time. I find myself reading each chapter twice as I go along.

      • Be as careful with Murray as you would Chambers. Some good. Lots that needs discernment.

        • Randy Thompson says:

          I will do that, Stuart, but what I find in Murray is very similar to what I find in similar books written by Catholics and Orthodox. It strikes me as quite sane.

          • Not saying he isn’t, I went through a heavy Murray phase. I think his location protected him from a lot, but he moved in some dangerous circles.

    • I saw a flyer at my church for a “Freedom Intensive” workshop that maybe fits in with what you’re saying. It seems way over the top in terms of what Christianity is really about. Here are some bullet points off the flyer:

      -IDENTIFY God’s purpose and original design for you
      -BECOME INSPIRED by God’s vision & mission for you and His church
      -GAIN fresh revelation as to God’s infinite love for you
      -UNDERSTAND our world’s two realms – spiritual and physical and how to navigate in such a world
      -RECEIVE fresh revelation as to God’s supernatural authority and power that is yours in Jesus Christ
      -ASSIST you in recognizing how you can be living in bondage’s and how you can be set free
      -UNDERSTAND how strongholds are built in our lives and can be biblically and powerfully dismantled
      -REDISCOVER the gift and joy of repentance and the full power of forgiveness
      -EXPERIENCE the joy that we can all hear God’s voice

      Ugh. All I can do is shake my head and suggest to folks that perhaps this is NOT what following Jesus is all about.

      • amen…

      • those steps seems like a lot of stress in order to ‘get it’ . . .

        might be simpler to just go volunteer in a nursing home with elderly people for a while, and my goodness, what you can learn there while serving is priceless to your spiritual formation

        we try too hard sometimes

        . . . but it is living in the simpler ways that we will find the great wisdom that was offered to us by Our Lord’s example of getting on His knees and washing someone’s feet . . . this kind of service involves no mental gymnastics or theologically profound insights. But living out the spirit of His example, we KNOW we have already begun living an eternal life in the Kingdom of Our Lord.

      • You are responsible for raising my blood pressure. Just so you know.

    • Headles Unicorn Guy says:

      One of the aspects of this influence is getting caught up in the notion of “prayer changes things” or “pray until something happens”– coupled with the notion of strategic spiritual warfare, advancing the kingdom by taking back the world (and culture and society) from the grip of Satan. The resultant practices can be quite bizarre, to put it charitably.

      “The resultant practices” are more like “Just like Magick and Sorcery, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

      (Cue Ozzy Osborne’s “Mister Crowley”…)

      • Yes. I’ve referred to it as “Christian Shamanism” …. Saw a very weird Chuck Pierce ritual last year involving a big prayer shawl (more like a huge blanket) and people were passing under it, like going under a canopy, to get some kind of impartation or blessing or whatever it is they call it.

      • Faulty O-Ring says:

        Hey HUG, which Christian college was it where a bunch of students got married in order to lose their virginity before the Rapture?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Don’t remember. It was on another blog years ago. Take me a couple days to track it down, blogs and quotes from blogs come and go constantly.

  12. I have been graduated from seminary with an M.Div for over a year now. I’ve been serving my congregation as an elder, I oversee a few ministries, and I preach regularly. But my heart is to pastor a church, preferably in my denomination. I’m comfortable starting as an associate first. But I cannot find an opening. I’ve been working odd jobs, and haven’t worked in awhile. There are no openings in my district, and I’m find that for all of that affirmation I get from my denominational superiors, it is very hard to break in and feel like part of the family.

    So yeah, that stuff you here about seminarians and job prospects and debt and so on is true. It wouldn’t hurt so bad if I wasn’t cut out for ministry — but it’s been confirmed, I’ve been humbled over and over again, I’ve worked through and am still working through my personal junk, and I’m secure in the calling. That’s why the waiting sucks. I’m trying to do good in the meantime.

    • Okay one more. You are being prepared and the way is being made for you and what you are learning now will be of extreme value to come. God bless you, all of you, spirit, mind and body. It will seem clearer soon.

    • Sean, I was in your shoes for a good 20 years. Felt the call, had it affirmed multiple times and in multiple ways, and the call stayed with me. Spent a lot of my own money to go to and graduate from seminary. Served faithfully in two different churches in an (unpaid) elder/spiritual formation role. Got ordained. However, instead of doors opening, what happened instead was each church I served went through a crisis and closed. I helped to shut the doors both times myself. At no point did I get to serve in a paid position, nor did the ways I served make the churches grow or be successful in ways one would imagine.

      So my period of time in waiting and trying to do good in the meantime ended up being my entire “career” in ministry. It did not turn out in any way as I had hoped, and I never was able to serve on staff or as a professional. The good I tried to do “in the meantime” ended up being how I served. For a while after the second church closed I was bitter, but then I began to realize the “in the meantime” work had actually been a valuable service for God. It just didn’t look anything like what I’d hoped it would be. God uses us as he sees fit, and sometimes the platitudes don’t pan out.

      That doesn’t mean you haven’t been faithful in the situation you’ve been handed or that God’s been displeased with you. Just in case you end up walking a similar path to mine, I wanted you to know.

    • Faulty O-Ring says:

      That’s the thing. Once they get used to seeing you as an assistant, they won’t accept you as the Big Cheese–you’ve been marked as Beta. For Alpha you gotta either have a lot of charisma, or else be a son or son-in-law of a big-name pastor.

      Wait, what denomination are you?

    • Placement really sucks. It is very difficult, and often extremely slow. The CMA is really a great group, but they are not very large at all, which always makes getting your foot in difficult. A friend of mine got her M.Div in the SBC and worked her but off trying to get in with one of their congregations, and even with the full endorsement of some big name sem profs, she still eventually went back to what she was doing before.

      I also have a friend who is a career CMA minister. Several years ago he took a post at a Conservative Baptist church, where his family still is today. He considers himself CMA at heart and “on loan” to the CBA, but has not been able to get back home.

      I just finished my process to become a “commissioned minister of religion” in the LCMS, which, even as a much larger group, did not present a ton of outstanding opportunities. I wound up accepting the call at my current congregation, which, fortunately, is full time work.

      Working for your denomination of choice is a very difficult thing. Musicians almost never get that choice, and pastors usually only do if they’re committed to a larger denom. I took me too long after college to get into full time church work, and I’ve had very stressful unemployment seasons since.

      It’s gonna be a damn shame if some church doesn’t take advantage of your availability. I don’t know what the CMA has in place in terms of placement services, but I would strongly encourage you to consider 2 or three other groups which are your closest neighbors and be willing to apply there as well. The unfortunate saying is true: It’s always easier to get a job when you already have one. If you can get your foot in the door with a full time pastorate somewhere, you would have plenty of time and opportunity to get back into a position with the CMA, should your heart be set on it.

      Off-hand, as a non-seminary grad, I’d guess the EFCA, Nazarene, or Wesleyan churches may be the closest thing, and maybe the Evangelical Covenant Church.

  13. In celebration of CM’s outing, and the Scottish vote, I ask: Is golf a sport?

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      Yes, but the most boring sport ever invented. My definition of a sport is a competitive activity with reasonably objective judging and which relies on more than incidental physical ability. I am wholeheartedly in the “a good walk spoiled” school, but golf clearly meets my criteria for being a sport.

    • Is golf a sport?

      Somebody said that if you can smoke cigarettes while doing it, and don’t work up a sweat…then…no.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      “Is golf a sport?”

      No.

  14. To throw in my 3 cents. God created the heavens and the earth, or all things. He sent his only Son to die for the sins of all men. He conquered death by his resurrection. He is the Savior of us all. These things are true and good. It strikes me as curious that if there are other worlds that this same scenario would be repeated over and over again. How many times does death need to be conquered? How many bibles need to be written? In other words, is the bible narrative simply a play performed over and over again? Or maybe we are it, Gods’ marvelous creation with the wonders of the universe just for us. Maybe the Matrix is true. “Are you a figment of my imagination, or am I one of yours”.

  15. Is a burrito a sandwich?

    • Sandwich – noun: sandwich; plural noun: sandwiches
      1. an item of food consisting of two pieces of bread with meat, cheese, or other filling between them, eaten as a light meal.

      Burrito – noun: burrito; plural noun: burritos
      a Mexican dish consisting of a tortilla rolled around a filling, typically of beans or ground or shredded beef.

      So technically, no, a burrito is not a sandwich.

      A follow-on question from the burrito might be, “But what if I want to be called a sandwich?” Would the Sandwich Gods let him in as is? Would they demand that he put himself between two slices of bread first?

    • No, a burrito is not a sandwich. Not here in New Mexico, at any rate.

      A sandwich is made by layering meat, cheese, lettuce or, alternatively, nut butter and/or fruit preserves between two pieces of bread.

      A burrito is meat and/or beans and hot sauce (optional for wooses) rolled up in a tortilla.

      There!

      PS, there are also enchiladas, tacos, and other similar arrangements, none of which qualifies as a sandwich, either.

    • A burrito is what a sandwich dreams of some day becoming.

      • That’s because the sandwich represents the bourgeois and the burrito the proletariat; everyone wants to step up to the next class.

        Good grief, I sound like a #%$@ Marxist; isn’t that why I left Cuba?

  16. Is there such a thing as a purely subjective experience?

    • 1. Not here in SoCal. 2. It is for the LDS, hence the “burning in my busom experience”.

    • Joseph (the original) says:

      Wouldn’t a purely subjective experience be an objective experience then???

      If by purely subjective you are confining such an experience to one individual that has no common reference point for any other human being, then I could understand such an explanation.

      There are some NDE reports of people claiming to have seen colors outside our known visible spectrum. Since they cannot explain or compare such an experience, I suppose that could be construed as purely subjective…

      Being at a loss for words does not automatically mean something was purely subjective. Could be dreams are truly subjective, even if the one recounting the event can give the dream some descriptive elements sufficient for others to recognize common reference points, but I don’t think there are instances where dreams are ever the same for someone else. But this could simply be a reasoning akin to believing no two snow flakes are alike; isn’t this is a postulate impossible to prove? Or no two human beings are the same. So, their unique subjective experiences could be truly independent, regardless of how others perceived the same thing. I assume we then can have similar experiences with agreeable reference points and definitions, but my experience will remain different than yours no matter how much they are similar…

      Okay, the morning java is wearing off now…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        There are some NDE reports of people claiming to have seen colors outside our known visible spectrum. Since they cannot explain or compare such an experience, I suppose that could be construed as purely subjective…

        Never underestimate the ingenuity of the Science Fiction Fandom Massmind…

        Certain types of cataract surgery (synthetic lens replacement) leave the patient able to see a ways into the ultraviolet. Once I questioned a fan who had such surgery what Near Ultraviolet looks like. The answer I got was “a brilliant purplish white”.

        Also, visual range varies slightly from person to person. Some people can actually see near-infrared. The description they give is “a dull, dark, red”, something like a very dark rust color.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > visual range varies slightly from person to person.

          Sadly tetrachromacy in humans is a mutation that can only occurs in females. Males are saddled with red-green color blindness as our color relation mutation of choice.

          And new-UV enabled people actually cannot see UV. It just blinkers out all the cones almost equally, but blue possibly a bit more. So they see light, but not UV as a distinct color or kind. This is actually a defect, not a feature as the human lense is supposed to filter out UV light in order to protect the retina.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > There are some NDE reports of people claiming to have seen colors
        > outside our known visible spectrum.

        So they SAW colors outside the VISIBLE spectrum….. Nope.

        Oxygen deficit resulting in neural malfunction. Really no mystery there.

    • That depends. What does a purely subjective experience mean to you?
      🙂

    • Here in New Mexico we call it “drunk driving.”

  17. Earlier this summer my wife and I spent some time in France and had the opportunity while we were there to visit Joigny, a charming small town located on the river Yonne, about an hour and a half by train southeast of Paris. While in Joigny we attended mass at Eglise Saint-Jean, a smaller church whose age dates back to the 1600s, and probably if filled would seat somewhere between 500-1,000 people. After mass we ended up having lunch at the Centre Sophie Barat, which is the former birthplace of Sophie Barat who was the founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart. While visiting with several of the nuns who are assigned to the retreat center, we ended up in a discussion regarding the current state of Christianity in Europe.

    One of the items they noted was the feeling that a small resurgence of religious interest in the younger generation (younger defined as 20s-early 30s) was taking place. And although they weren’t so brash to assume this indicated a rebirth of Christianity in Europe, they were cautiously optimistic that perhaps they were witnessing what might be the beginning of a period of Christian growth in Europe, even if small. Further they were extremely excited to share that over the Lenten season, there were 150 adult baptisms at Saint-Jean, with the majority of people from Joigny and about a quarter or so from the surrounding rural area. I found that number to be pretty amazing, especially when considering the size of the church, town, and population of the immediate surrounding area. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder what was driving this small growth the nuns were viewing? Holy Spirit? Disenchantment with the EU? The fear of the Islamic growth taking place in France?

    As a side, if you like organ music, if you are ever in Paris, it’s worth heading out to visit the Saint-Sulpice to hear the post mass free organ concert given by Daniel Roth. It’s pretty amazing.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > a small resurgence of religious interest in the younger generation
      > (younger defined as 20s-early 30s) was taking place

      I’ve read that story a couple of times. The data seems credible. But the line can move a long ways up in Europe and still be will below the American normal.

      A few years ago I believe it was Foreign Policy magazine that did a pretty good article on the health of Christianity in Europe. It is not nearly as endangered as many in America believe that it is – although it looks much different, which I suppose is to be expected.

      • Different indeed:

        “Yes, there aren’t any alternatives [for their father’s funeral], are there? But he wasn’t a member of the Church of Norway.”

        “Wasn’t, he?” Yngve said. “I knew he wasn’t a Christian, but not that he had left the church.”

        – from “My Struggle: Book 1” by Karl Ove Knausgaard.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Yes. Much of Christianity in Europe looks like much of Judaism here in the United States.

          But there are churches in Europe outside of the state and ethnic churches.

  18. Any Flannery O’Connor fans out there? I have to read something of hers for a book group, and it’s my choice. Any recommendations/favorites? I’m totally new to her work.

    • “The Artificial Nigger” or “A Good Man is Hard to Find”

      However, you can’t go wrong.

    • Here’s a good quote from O’Connor to a friend about the Lord’s Supper;

      “If it’s just a symbol, then to hell with it.”

    • I can second Danielle’s recommendation of the short story ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find’

      . . . it was my own first introduction to her writing . . .
      O’Connor excelled at really dark Southern gothic literature . . . unforgettable!

      • the link ‘Open Culture’ has a rare ‘audio’ from the fifty’s of O’Connor reading this short story . . . try googling it and if you can’t find it, I’ll post it in the event that Chaplain Mike makes it back from his trip and clears me through ‘moderation jail’ . . . let me know if you are interested and need me to post the link 🙂

    • Some of Flannery O’Connor’s best stories:

      A Good Man is Hard to Find
      Greenleaf
      A View of the Woods (but this is also the most disturbing)
      The Geranium (her first published story) followed by…
      Judgement Day (her last published story), a re-working of The Geranium
      The Barber (read this around election time)

      Aw, just start in on her short stories and read one-a-day.

  19. Stuart B, maybe HUG, others, when as a 35 year old semi-adult I bit the bullet and committed myself to Jesus, the first church I hooked up with was in the Pentecostal wing, Foursquare to be exact. I stayed for five years and learned things that are still crucial for me today.

    1) The Holy Spirit of God is alive and well and available on request, sometimes even without request.

    2) Just as Jesus used his will to submit to the Will of God, so can we.

    3) There is a difference between me, the small “s” self ego, and the capital “S” Self that is the Child of God, as was Jesus.

    4) This difference is crucial to know and can be learned over time, with the help of God’s Spirit. This skill is called discernment. You can always get better at using it and you can always fail spectacularly.

    5) Chewing the meat and spitting out the bones is in fact how spiritual growth and evolution works. Two steps forward and one back. Sloughing off excess baggage as you go. Yes, there are wacky teachings everywhere, possibly even within so called orthodoxy. So what. Seek Truth in Jesus and follow him wherever he goes.

    6) Orthodoxy depends on who is mouthing that word.

    7) Give heed to all, especially those who appear to occupy a respected chair of learning. In the end, yes, you are your own Pope. Try very hard not to abuse that position. Keep yourself under the protection and power of the name of Jesus, your big brother, the first born and pioneer of this Way. You’re going to need that help. It is freely available to all.

    • Not an excuse, but just being honest: I’ve had a crap day, so that lends me to want to respond.

      1. That’s simply untrue. I tried for years, years, daily, asking, and nothing. False.
      2. And never fully nor perfectly otherwise we could save ourselves.
      3. wut?
      4. see #3.
      5. Ever eat that part of the chicken wing they don’t normally give you? Does it have meat? Yes, but the bones will choke and kill you while the meat undernourishes you. So it is with so much theology and charismatic systems. Why not throw out the whole thing and eat something else.
      6. Sure, and the Mormons have the corner on the latest orthodoxy thus sweeping millenia under the rug…just like any pentecostal making the claim of “subnormal Christians” does. What’s the difference?
      7. Joke. Listen, discern, and cast aside. And if someone keeps repeating error after error, quit listening. And if a group of people keep repeating error after error, remove yourself. And if a whole system of thought keeps repeating error after error, stay away from them.

      • Some of us talk about fruit when it is plain to see that in actuality they put theology and doctrine above all and are addicted to the debate and drama that occurs from placing bait out so they can get a kick out of their manipulations. In a way a form of control. Sub standard to say the least. It becomes so obvious that the tree is bad when the vindictive nature of the statements arise from such criticism from the very things they refuse to try to understand. If I can’t do it then it must not be so therefore why would I even bother which in turn says I must be right and you all like the scum that comes from an out house. Now these are statements that would without doubt leave someone to say now there is something I want to be part of it sounds so edifying. It certainly sounds like the things Jesus would be saying. Almost to the point of totally forgetting all the horrible things all men have fallen to including oneself. My father use to say when someone try to make themselves look better by cutting everyone else down it only makes them look worse. I have no idea what has hurt you so much but maybe you might see better the speck in someone else’s eye if………..Number 7 I think I will follow it thanks Stuart

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Some of us talk about fruit when it is plain to see that in actuality they put theology and doctrine above all and are addicted to the debate and drama that occurs from placing bait out so they can get a kick out of their manipulations.

          Ran into that in my college years (Mid-to-Late Cold War). Except then the “theology and doctrine above all” du jour for the Intellectual set was The Inevitable Marxist-Leninist Dialectic of History. As Chesterton’s Father Brown put it, “You don’t have to have any intellect to be an Intellectual.”

          • What always has amazed me was how extremely smart people have no practical knowledge. For example my one uncle who didn’t use his master bathroom toilet for a year because it ran all the time. When he asked me to look at it I just bent the float bar a little to shut the valve off. Took literally 3 seconds. Kind of like spending the entire time reading a manual about how to fix an engine and knowing how but never experiencing it. So really, I have been there it is a lot harder than it looks but not to someone who does it everyday. I have a friend who says to me he loves me, then in conversation makes my heart break as I know he is baiting and saying things just to get a response whether it is good or bad doesn’t matter to him. It is the fact that he can get a response that gives him the kick and the power he is looking for. It is a counterfeit feeling and very bad and very addicting. Not to mention how broken hearted i have become from it. This is not fruit. It is more like thorns and thistles that have torn the skin from my arms and legs and I know what that feels like in the physical as well which by the way is far easier to take than spiritually. It might seem like all good fun to you all but I didn’t sleep last night. I spent hours praying for my heart to stop beating so fast and hours on the mountain praying about all the things I was being shown and for him to help me love through it. You should all be more careful in what you trifle with.

          • My take on such things of the counterfeit is it is like a demon. My friend even says to me I know I have it which immediately moves me to want to pray with him about it. I grab both his hands and pray but I sense he is smiling in the way that he has no intention of letting it go. No matter I love him so much. MY friend Lou. He says it has been with him ever since he can remember.

          • By the way I use the word Dimon like it was taught in the greek

      • Stuart, no idea if you will ever see this. I went to bed and had things to do this morning. Hope you do because you seem like someone I would enjoy sitting down and tipping a few with. This will probably be overlong, but responding to your responses:

        1) If you are talking about trying for years to have an emotional and physical experience according to old time Pentecostal teaching, tongues as proof and so on, just because it didn’t work for you does not mean the Holy Spirit which Jesus promised to send is false. A lot of Pentecostals don’t get such “signs” tho that isn’t talked about much. That you didn’t, might be a sign that the Holy Spirit is in fact working in you to your individual benefit outside the boundaries of Pentecostal doctrine. I learned to take what I was given in the rather mild form it happened to my senses and moved on with it, sort of like you learn how to read when young but don’t spend your life reading Dick and Jane even tho you use the skill here and elsewhere.

        2) No one is talking about perfection unless you are taking Jesus as a role model and proof of what a human being is capable of. Give it your best shot, what else can you do, and what else matters? We can’t do this without God’s help, and neither could Jesus. He says follow me as he showed us how it looks to follow God’s will. Sometimes not pretty.

        3&4) We can get back to these if you want.

        5) The problem comes when you throw the baby out with the bathwater. I agree there are many systems of thought that don’t take you where Jesus opened the Way. I find it helpful to study enough to recognize how and why a system falls short. You can’t do this on an entirely negative basis. If there is only a shred of meat, it is still meat. People have eaten their shoes when they were starving and made it thru. If I had it to do all over again, I would start out with that same Foursquare church for the same length of time. I don’t believe I would be at whatever level of growth I am today without that learning experience. The church down the street wouldn’t have done it. Again, like learning to read. Then move on.

        6) The difference between Mormon theology and any other is a matter of discernment, and that means more spiritual discernment than intellectual discernment, tho the intellect is a valuable tool to use as we sort things out. You seem to focus a lot on doctrine. I don’t think Jesus paid a lot of attention to doctrine, except as religious leaders tried to twist it on him, and then he often pointed out their lack of God’s Spirit. He had harsh words for those who did not recognize God’s Spirit at work.

        7) Your point is actually fairly good advice unless you don’t allow for individual persons or groups that may lie outside the norm. Back to baby and bathwater. And if your brush is so broad that you are slopping paint all over me or others I find helpful, I may well object before moving out of your reach.

    • “3) There is a difference between me, the small “s” self ego, and the capital “S” Self that is the Child of God, as was Jesus.’

      This right here gives me pause on second read. Are you implying we are equal to Jesus? Completely and totally? We are, essentially, God just as Jesus is God? Not just positionally, not just relationally, but literally?

      No sarcasm, totally curious: how do you personally back that up with Scripture?

  20. I am sometimes accused of teaching replacement theology, a label I don’t like to use. Replacement theology gives the impression that God tried something that didn’t work and so he chose a plan B. I do not believe that all of the promises God made to the nation of Israel necessarily apply to Christians in the church age. I do believe that much of the Old Testament is a symbolism for New Testament Christianity; Moses is a type of Christ, Passover is intrinsically linked to the Lord’s supper, the Exodus from slavery through the wilderness to the Promised land is a picture of what was to come (we were slaves to sin and follow Jesus through this wilderness toward the Promised land). The temple, the High Priests, the animal sacrifice, the veil etc. were all meant to help 1st century Jews understand the role of Christ. The people of Israel were God’s chosen and he promised by them that all nations of the world would be blessed. I do believe the nation of Israel is symbolic in many ways of the Kingdom of God now being built, but many of the Jews chose to be part of both.

    In 2 Corinthians (chap 6, read vv 14-18) Paul reminds fellow believers that we are the temple of God, and quotes OT promises made to the nation of Israel as proof. “Replacement theology” is one of those terms made up by the detractors of an idea. Their story is part of our story and Paul clearly saw a connection between promises made to Old Testament Israel and to Christian believers. Israel wasn’t replaced in God’s plan; building a kingdom not made by hands, of every tribe, tongue and nation, was always his plan,

    • Calling something “replacement theology” is a great way of shutting down a conversation…if your Christian debater won’t be gracious, loving, and understanding, what’s the point of continuing the discussion?