October 21, 2014

Postcards From My Spring Break

Yes, this past week was my spring break. That’s why I had the time to do interviews, moderate comments, answer emails, etc. If all this had happened any other time, I’d have been at work or preparing sermons, etc. So “Thank You, Lord!” for the time to enjoy my 15 minutes.

Here are some of the thoughts, impressions and memories from the week. (Every paragraph is a separate thought. No continuity.)

What if Jeremiah had written “The Coming Judean Collapse?” I think he would have heard “That will never happen. We’ve got the temple….the temple….the temple….” Then they would have thrown him in a well.

A surprising number of angry gays and atheists now say the word “evangelical” in as venomous and hateful a way as you would say “Nazi” or “serial killer.”

The best radio interview I did this week was on the secular radio station. First question was “Are evangelicals Protestants?” It got better.

Do Mormons not know that evangelicals don’t consider them to be part of orthodox Christianity? How do you miss that?

No Presbyterians told me their church was the true church I’d been looking for my entire life. That’s odd, because….well…you should know.

It’s rather an uncomfortable situation when you’re being interviewed on media that you’ve predicted will likely vanish within ten years….and they keep asking you about it. I felt like I should give an offering.

James White and Phil Johnson said nice things about me. Phil wrote me two nice notes. I don’t want to be schmaltzy here, but those bits of appreciation helped me let go of a lot of bitterness and hurt in my emotions; stuff I’ve been carrying around since 2006. I am so thankful to God for those notes, because they remind me of the beauty of Christian reconciliation, even when it is far, far from perfect.

How could someone say “I want to poison all evangelicals and their children?” It’s evidence of an amazing amount of hurt. I never know another person’s experience, but I am sure there are mistreatments and abuses that can produce that need to verbalize hatred. It feels strange receiving those words from a total stranger that I don’t know at all. I think it’s useful to experience some of that, because it’s the backbone of so many kinds of hatred common in our world.

The lady from the Glenn Beck radio program was really frantically trying to get me on the show….but she kept calling here and I was gone. My lack of a cell phone lifestyle is a pain to many people. I’m happy being a semi-Luddite.

How can I say this? There are some Lutherans on whom the concepts of planting new churches and rethinking missional approaches to church growth do not exactly fall as familiar or welcome concepts. I was interviewed by one.

My parents would never have understood any of this.

I’ve asked a bunch of people to read what I wrote to see what kind of trouble I may be in with the Baptists. They all tell me I have nothing to be concerned about. They obviously don’t know Baptists. They can say that the entire church is apostate and the rapture is tomorrow and it’s cool, but if I say there’s going to be some fall off, I’ll be accused of telling people to become Catholics. Oh well, it’s in God’s hands.

I’ll never again nod when someone says Catholics aren’t evangelistic. I’ve had at least 25 appeals for conversion in my mailbox this week. Is there a bounty on my head at the Vatican? (Poster?)

I don’t get how this piece attracted so many new agers. I had a lot of them wanting to post all kinds of weirdness. You know, there’s just a limit to how much theological diversity I can digest. This is why I know nothing about Orthodoxy. I just look at all these various spiritualities, and I say “Someone else needs to pick this one up.”

Why would I possibly have any idea where a good church is for someone located in the middle of nowhere?

“Mr. Spencer, can you explain election and predestination?” Sure. Can I explain chaos theory in the space I have left over?

I’m really, really tired. This isn’t what I wanted to do on spring break. Comment moderation…please go away soon.

A guy called me from California to explain to me that all the problems in Catholicism and Christianity go back to giving up the Latin mass. If we have the Latin mass, there will be so many men signing up to be priests you won’t know what to do with them. He went on and on. Clearly deranged. Why is he telling ME this, of all people? (No, it wasn’t Mel Gibson.) Does he think evangelicals need Latin services?

And to the guy who sent me 30 pages explaining transubstantiation, thanks and I’ll get right back to you on that.

I heard from ONE angry Baptist. I have no idea what the rest of them were doing.

So many people agreed with me. Or agreed enough that I was stunned.

I thought Mark Galli at Christianity Today did a good job. I’m irritated at a couple of lines pretty royally, but the rest is so good, and I like his stuff so much, that it doesn’t matter. He’s the better judge and I’m a guy writing in my boxers.

People can’t spell evangelical. My favorite is evngl. Several times. Most be a Vulcan spellcheck.

I was reminded again how many of us are homeless in evangelicalism. It’s sad. I know we can be a difficult and hard to please bunch, but most of us want a church more than anything else. Not a circus or a show, but a church. Is that so hard?

“J” is the most fun I’ve had on this blog in a long time. It wasn’t his claims that made me laugh, but it was the incredible comparison between the claims some Christians are making (“Most people that can read attended a Christian school.”) and his answers. Thanks for keeping things positive and interesting “J.” I’ll get you those BHT keys.

This whole experience needed a playlist.

Comments

  1. So what comes after the collapse? The coming evangelical relapse? :o)

  2. What if Jeremiah had written “The Coming Judean Collapse?” I think he would have heard “That will never happen. We’ve got the temple….the temple….the temple….” Then they would have thrown him in a well.

    With that in mind, you might want to get a Trackfone or something in case you need to make a call from the bottom of a well somewhere.

    I heard from ONE angry Baptist. I have no idea what the rest of them were doing.

    I can’t speak for any other Baptists, but I was here and not angry in the least. Glad that you had the free time needed to survive the week.

  3. This whole experience needed a playlist.

    Start with Yakety Sax. Everything is better with Yakety Sax.

  4. Michael, I am an Evangelical pastor. We keep things pretty simple, just the gospel, and few songs led by non professionals. Sometimes its not very good, but its us. My denomination is pursuing numbers any way it can. I’ve got a few other pastor friends and we’re trying to just hang on. The most hilarious thing going on is how older Marketers (church growth guys) enthusiastically sell Emergent books at conferences. Have they read the blistering criticism the Emergents level at them? Doesn’t matter, whatever works and sells.
    DSY

  5. Jesus Reyes says:

    Joyce Meier, Binny Hinn, Jan and Paul Crouch, Jim and Tammy, James Dobson, TJ Jakes, Paula White, Richard Roberts, Mike Murdoch, Pat Robertson, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Peter Popoff, AA Allen, Jerry Falwell, Joel Osteen, Kathryn Kuhlman, Jesse Duplantis, Oral Roberts, Jerry Savelle, Bill Winston, Robert Tilton, Ted Haggard, Phil Driscoll, Todd Bentley, Eddie L Long, Jimmy Swaggert, Lonnie Frisbee, Kenneth Hagin, WV Grant, Larry Lea, Don Stewart, Rod Parsley, John Hagee, Ralph Reed, Gary Bauer, Chuck Colson, George Bush, The Roberts Schuller, RW Schambach, Reinhard Bonnke…

  6. “It’s rather an uncomfortable situation when you’re being interviewed on media that you’ve predicted will likely vanish within ten years….and they keep asking you about it. I felt like I should give an offering.”

    ++++++

    How all very terribly postmodern :)

    Thanks for the laugh. May you have great gusts of rest now :)

  7. Sorry it’s been so crazy for you. I could share similar stories about fundraising in the States amongst evangelicals for missionary work (some of the things people said/asked…?!?!). Hey, the Californian that went on about Latin mass, I think I know him! And yes, he just might be completely deranged. Really.

  8. Martin Jack says:

    I’ve been a Christian for about 18 months, and I’m not sure what being an evangelical means anymore. If I believe God’s word is true does that automatically mean I’m evangelical. Are there some kind of card-carrying distinctives an evangelical is supposed to have? Maybe if I shout a lot that would help?

    Martin

  9. what present evangelicals need is spirituality.They seem to be so eager on dogma and politics and money that they forget relationship with the Lord.I welcome a more spiritual evangelicals.

  10. You don’t have a cell phone?! Ithought I was the only one left without one.

  11. Agnostic on a good day says:

    You ask the question of how someone can advocate such violence on evangelicals and present some theories. Have you considered the possibility that the reasoning is identical to those who advocate violence and disfranchisement of all non-Christians? I’m sure you hear it all the time, the odd comment about about how all Muslims should be rounded up into camps and sterilized (Praise Jesus!) or how atheists are all amoral perverts and should be barred from public office (Hallelujah!). I say the reason why some would advocate violence against those of a faith (or lack of one)so freely is due to the pride and arrogance that develops when one chooses to pursue their beliefs to an extremist degree. You can argue all you want about pure motives for such complete devotion, but I’d wager that for many, it is the desire to be seen as better than your peers. And once attained, the temptation to look down on and occasional trash-talking of the lesser-devoted arises. The same can be said for militant atheists as well. I highly doubt that a lot of the hateful things being said are caused by hurt or pain. It’s just some people trying to be edgy.

    I’ll be honest with you in saying that there were times when I’ve said some pretty crass things about Evangelicals and their antics, but take it from me, it was playful trash-talking, nothing more. But most of it was in response to said Evangelist antics that grace the media: the culture war that you were criticizing. Maybe you should take the message even further and proclaim that Christians (Evangelical and otherwise) should NOT be trying to “Christianize” all aspects America, but merely finding a personal place for their faith in their lives that would help them be more productive and contributive to society. Stop the rabid proselytizing and attention-seeking displays of religious fervor and keep true to Mathew 6:5.

  12. I find it surprising that YOU think that:

    A surprising number of angry gays and atheists
    now say the word “evangelical” in as venomous
    and hateful a way as you would say “Nazi” or
    “serial killer.”

    After all, we’re so frequently singled out as scapegoats by fearmongers in political and religious venues for their personal gain. (Note that the political personalities make a big deal of also being Christian.)

    Even the Catholic church was trying that during the height of pedophile-gate. A Cardinal tried to say all those priests were gay and was never admonished or forced to retract. Gay does NOT equal pedophile any more than straight male equals pedophile.

    Both gays and atheists are accused of having “agendas” as if we’re scary secret societies like the Illuminati. The truth is, writing comments in your blog is about as political as I have gotten.

    That doesn’t mean that I am not extremely upset about Christians attempts to legislate my life to their liking.

    The truth is, some LGBT’s ARE publicly demanding equal treatment under the law and a lot of Christians are doing their level best to organize opposition to that both preemptively and in response. They’re even meddling in other states’ politics to do it!

    The truth is, many of us have come away badly scarred by indifference to hatred when we actually asked for help as Christians. I suspect the most virulent Atheists had similar treatment.

    You obviously need to get out more and actually talk to LGBTs and Atheists. As I keep repeating, I’m dead serious about that. Most of you are so insulated away in your own communities you have no clue what you are talking about when you discuss ours. Yet you keep on doing it!

    Why won’t any of you speak out on that challenge? Is it possible that NONE of you are actually spending time with us “sinners” like Christ did?

  13. “. . . homeless in evangelicalism.” That speaks volumes. I was once a homeless Baptist in a Foursquare church, then a homeless Pentecostal in a Catholic monastery,and now I’m a homeless minister in a city full of churches where few of the ministers talk with one another. Michael, have you EVER seen a “Ministerial Alliance” actually promoted alliances? And would a definition of “Ministerial Alliance” be any easier to define than “election” or “predestination.” Wait. I’m having a revelation. “Ministerial Alliance” = “Chaos Theory.” You know, the idea where we gather once a month to make a show of doing something for the Kingdom, but in reality we hardly acknowledge one another in the aisles of Wal-Mart. And this in the name of revealing the mysteries of Christ. I think I’m starting to understand…

  14. I wonder if this week for you falls into the “careful what ya wish for” column? Very intresting for me in that where my personal journey intersected with all this, obvious I never heard of you or web site etc. and suspect clicking on Drudge link fearing another secular article trashing the Lord and those who believe. needless to say i’ll be watching and listening. At age fifty; four children,five grand children and married twenty eight years I have riddin a few doctrinal waves in and of this world with predictable outcomes…I have been like a google spider crawling your web site and find the commentary posts relevant to some point and time of my own journey…yep good bad,ugly and likely some you had to moderate for various reasons, so all this to say; two years ago i finaly found “whom the Son sets free is free indeed” never really got that until i set my baggage at the foot of the cross and left it there…my wife and i serve the Lord daily as He serves us in,of,by and through His love. We serve in a home worship, where we have no grand plan other than to love people right where the the Lord presents them..more of a way station…food clothes..interceed before the Lord for them, all the while pointing them to Jesus yes to the point of exhaustion at the brokeness of the human spirit and all the trapings contained here with in…yes contents may be hazardous to your health..use care upon opening…really wish some days my baby daughter had never given me Oswald Chambers little devotional book but through it i no longer have to perform for anything or anyone for there is no good thing in of myself only the freedom of a Holy God submitting Himself unto the will of our Father even unto the death on a rugged cross doing for us what we could not do,earn or deserve…i mean really what ya gonna add to that? with that theolgy all the filters of doctrinal correctness fell off and i could actualy hear and see the pain of the world, not; what would Jesus do? but what did He say and do! thus began a journey of reading red only and shutting down all outside noise of religion and stop using all the code words for i got somthin you aint. amazeing how much you hear and how little you speak when every tought and word passes through the filter of the Love of God and scarey at times as well. any ol way just glad to see others see the wilderness,for me it represents true reconcilation unto my Father through His Son by His Holy Spirit so let our light shine for laws of physics illuminates darkness unto light not by perma-grin but Love. with that i will say goodbye and as the song says “i’ll be watching you”
    by His grace and mercy,
    Ken and Evy Clark
    P.S. sorry for spelling but hey,misspelled words are the only character in a sterile cyber world hidding behind e-mail…whole nuther subject

  15. If you’ve only heard from one Baptist and he was mad, let me make it a tie vote. I thought the collapse article in the CSM was great. I don’t know about your powers of prediction, but your observations are spot on.

    I’m a member of a small dying Southern Baptist church. Of course, churches die for different reasons, and I think ours is dying for a variety of reasons, one of which is the vast number of Baptist churches in our area of Northeast Georgia. We have a great young pastor, music that’s a blend of the new and old, and popular Wednesday programs for neighborhood kids. But we’re still dying.

    I’m now subscribed to your RSS feed and looking forward to further posts from you.

  16. Lifting you up in prayer, brother–I look forward to reading more of your posts and hanging out with you in Heaven!

  17. Here’s another Baptist pastor who is not mad at all with you or what you wrote. I thought it was cool that Gallagher and Beck wanted to speak with you. I do want to encourage my brothers and sisters to stay faithful by staying focused on Christ, His Word and the Gospel.

    Grace and peace,
    Bill

  18. The best radio interview I did this week was on the secular radio station. First question was “Are evangelicals Protestants?”
    That’s a perfectly legitimate question, seeing that Lutherans/reformed (the original Protestants that people learn about in history classes) tended to develop (and have different takes on issues)differently than Methodists/Baptists/Pentecostals. Historically (until 1900 or so) that is a perfectly sensible distinction, though its recently lost some of its punch.

  19. It is a legit question, and in the context of the Lutheran history, an important one. But the question wasn’t asked in that context. I did apologize on the KFUO interview for having to use the word evangelical when it belonged, hitorically, to Lutherans.

  20. “I’ll never again nod when someone says Catholics aren’t evangelistic. I’ve had at least 25 appeals for conversion in my mailbox this week. Is there a bounty on my head at the Vatican? (Poster?)”

    Making me feel guilty here, Michael. Here am I commenting on your site before you got famous and I haven’t so much as offered to send you a Miraculous Medal or Divine Mercy novena yet. I’ll never make the quota this way! :-)

    As an aside, do Baptists generally think any criticism is tantamount to recommending that they join the Catholics instead, or is that just in your case?

  21. Jason Stein says:

    @ Martin Jack
    I’ve been a Christian for about 18 months, and I’m not sure what being an evangelical means anymore.
    I’ve been a Christian for about 27 years, and I’m not sure what being evangelical means. I’ve seen about as many definitiions as denominations, so I prefer to say I am Christian. I believe the Bible is God’s word and true (whatever that may mean) and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ (which is way harder than most people think). So take comfort, there is at least one other Christian out there who doesn’t get it.

  22. Micheal, you may be exhausted, but it is a “good tired” I hope. God is working on His church, and as in our own lives, His rod may be painful. I am praying that what you are describing as the collapse of the Evangelical face of His church is actually a revival of the Truth that is Jesus. No add ons, or politics or money grabs, just the Gospel. Perhaps we will come out the other side of this looking more like Jesus. What is falling away is dross.
    By the way, people call me a baptist pastor, and I am not mad at all. Were it not for this site of yours I would never have known about the Evangelical church from so many differing perspectives. It was a good education that I sorely needed. thank you.

  23. Boethius says:

    This post had me laughing, IMonk.

    If the guy in California was not Mel Gibson, he probably attends Latin Mass with Mel Gibson. It is possible the Catholics do have a poster out for you. Your conversion to Catholicism would be a major coup for them.

  24. Ky boy but not now says:

    Martha

    “As an aside, do Baptists generally think any criticism is tantamount to recommending that they join the Catholics instead, or is that just in your case?”

    I’ve seen a lot of “if you’d only convert to the true path” from RCC’s here. And I think he gets a lot of email saying so.

  25. Ken Clark….”doing for us what we could not do, earn, or deserve” is DOCTRINE. Believing that Jesus died and rose again is DOCTRINE. There are churches out there that do not believe these basics that call themselves “Christian”. Nothing wrong with fighting for the Truth. Athanasius was removed from his church no less than 5 times. He was arrested, exiled, threatened, falsely accused for murder, had attempts made on his life; and yet he stood firm for correct DOCTRINE. The real problem with evangelicals is they don’t do much evangelism.
    When I first became a Christian I was trained in Evangelism Explosion. I was a natural at it due to many factors. Suffice to say that after 14 years I cannot find a single pastor that wants EE in their church. They “say” they do. But they will not implement it or anything like it. There are plenty of excuses, but the main reason is that it leads to Spiritual Warfare. Most pastors want the “sweet joy of fellowship”. Very few want to deal with spiritual warfare that begins the moment you begin to actively share your faith in Jesus Christ.
    A few years ago I went to Maryville Baptist Church in IL for an Evangelism Conference sponsored by the IBSA. That is where the pastor was shot last Sunday. That church is actually an old church in a new location in town. The pastor actually went to that church years before he became it’s pastor. He took risks, evangelized the lost, and actually discipled people.
    What is actually needed is a new/old reformation. The current evangelical model is to get folks into the churches and preach to them. No accountability, no expectations. Jesus selected a few men and made disciples and then they made disciples. “The Master(s) Plan of Evangelism”. Time is short. Where is your disciple?

  26. Bob Brague says:

    Jesus Reyes was back up there @ 2:24 am…

    You left out Ernest Angley. And it’s TD Jakes, not TJ.

    And just what was the purpose of your list? Showing us evangelicals? Or “evangelicals”? Or something else?

  27. Bob Brague says:

    Also Perry Stone.

  28. The first comment I ever got on my blog after moving it off a site dedicated to home school mothers to blogger was something along the line of, “I want to kill all fish.” I am sometimes slow on the draw. It took me a long time to realize he was talking about the Christian ichthys. I didn’t approve the comment. I started to wonder if I had made a mistake moving my blog away from the home school moms. But, since I am not quiverfull, skirt wearing or head covering, I didn’t fit with that group either.

    BTW, if I were to convert today, I would convert to the Orthodox faith. But, there isn’t a church within 90 minutes of my home. So, I am still attending an Evangelical Free church.

    I have enjoyed your spring break!

  29. Patrick Lynch says:

    “Your conversion to Catholicism would be a major coup for them.”

    You too, Boethius.

    We’ve got special place in the Society of Jesus all ready for people like you.

  30. Boethius says:

    Ah, Patrick Lynch:

    Thank you so much. You are the first RC who has ever said they wanted me back, except for family members, of course. They are still saying novenas and hoping that my now (26 year lapse in judgement)is just a phase.

    If the Bishop of Rome repents and gives up his false teaching of supremacy over other bishops, I would be tempted to return. There is always hope.

    Hey, maybe this is why I want Christ to return so badly….so we can finally have unity.

    Peace

  31. I wouldn’t worry about most Baptists, they don’t even know you exist. Separate and Independent, remember?

  32. Michael, I appreciate the kind words about my response, and I’m sorry to hear that I said anything to make you “royally irritated”. While I disagree with some of your musings on evangelicalism, I think overall you’ve done the service a movement to raise these issues–and I said so on Moody when they interviewed me after interviewing you. I’m glad that has raised your profile in the blogosphere, because you are one voice that should have more listeners.

  33. Even though you won’t convert, the Catholics should at least thank you for causing (unwittingly?) many unsuspecting evangelicals who stumble upon your site to consider Rome. I read you article on 5 reasons why you won’t, but I have to say that I only really buy about 2 of them. But that’s just enough to keep me “homeless.” Prior to this blog I was comfortably numb in my anti-Rome dogmatic slumber. Now I can at least consider them brothers (which happens to work out really good for my in-laws situation).

    But at times their “barbecue” smells pretty darned good to this baptist.

  34. Thanks Mark,

    I am less irritated today :-) I’ve given up royalty for just being upper class. Time brings perspective.

    I’m a fan. I am reading your new book, and I’ve reiewed Smells and Bells here. I hope I’m responsible for that book selling a few more copies.

    peace

    ms

  35. DSY
    “My denomination is pursuing numbers any way it can.”
    Hence the reason for much or most of the decline.
    Be real.

  36. Patrick Lynch
    “Your conversion to Catholicism would be a major coup for them.”

    You too, Boethius.

    We’ve got special place in the Society of Jesus all ready for people like you.

    Do have a place for me that doesn’t include worshiping Mary?
    I am sick of the circus in town and might even concede to the Mary and saint worship to get out.

  37. on 14 Mar 2009 at 4:29 pm Bob Brague
    Jesus Reyes was back up there @ 2:24 am…

    You left out Ernest Angley. And it’s TD Jakes, not TJ.

    And just what was the purpose of your list? Showing us evangelicals? Or “evangelicals”? Or something else?

    on 14 Mar 2009 at 4:30 pm Bob Brague
    Also Perry Stone.

    The purpose is to show the ringmasters.

  38. Ky Boy, I meant would the Baptists just say it to Michael, or do they respond to all criticisms with “Oh, so you’re saying we might as well give up and go kiss the Pope’s toe, huh?” :-)

    And some small shred of sympathy for our afflicted brother in California; he probably is nuts, but then again, he may just be in the diocese of Cardinal Mahony, a prelate firmly devoted to – in the liturgy at least – the Spirit of Vatican II two words for you: Liturgical. Dance. My personal bugbear, and if I were faced with it every Sunday and holyday of obligation, I’d be pinning the mantilla on my head and gibbering about the smoke of Satan, too ;-)

    Just see his recent comments about the Tridentine Mass from an online chat session live from the main Exhibit Hall at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress: “Ann Scolari: What are your thoughts on the Tridentine mass?

    Cardinal Mahony: Ann, the Tridentine Mass was meant for those who could not make the transition from Latin to English after the Council. But there is no participation by the people, and I don’t believe that instills the spirit of Christ among us.”

    Ouch. The man is orthodox (more or less) and I realise this was a forum where very brief answers were all that was possible, but even being a supporter of the Novus Ordo myself, this response was a bit tin-eared, to say the least.

  39. David Head says:

    Hey, Michael–
    So proud of you for this and for the consistently transparent courage you demonstrate. I hope the Baptists that aren’t angrily responding are off thinking about all this– and not just rolling their eyes and doing the same old thing…
    Hope this gives you a wider exposure and more opportunities for writing in other venues.

  40. OK – I give up. You’re willing to dish out criticism left and right but refuse to consider it when offered.

    Come to think about it, that seems to be pretty much all this blog is about – criticizing others. Granted, you responded to me twice (I think) but you never addressed the core issue I brought up about actually engaging the larger community you’re in.

    Yet, when it comes to fellow Christians who agree with you, you respond frequently. Enjoy your “members only” outlook of post evangelicalism. You’re still just as irrelevant to us non-Christians as the Evangelicals you enjoy being critical of. How, in the end, does that make you any different?

  41. I’m curious as to what kind of New Agers you are getting here.

    Maybe you could get the transsubstantiation guy to answer the predestination woman’s question! (Or would that be too Taoist?)

    For comparison’s sake, in Orthodoxy there has been great controversy over translations of the Bible into Russian (instead of Church Slavonic) and modern Greek (instead of Koine). Part of it was just resistance to change, and part of it was the issue of whether the content of the translation would be “improved” as well (for example, by relying on the Hebrew instead of the Septuagint for the OT).

  42. Chris:

    Is there a specific question you are asking? All I’m reading in your posts are taunts posed as questions, which would simply be a waste of time to respond to because it doesn’t appear you are looking for a discussion but an argument.

    If you have a specific question, I’ll be glad to answer it if I read it. I miss a lot of what’s written here because I can’t read every word with retention.

    peace

    ms

  43. Michael,

    Well, we ought to create a mutual admiration society. I’ve been following your blog for some months, one of only a half-dozen. I think you have good instincts when it comes to surveying the current evangelical landscape. I tried to say as much when Moody interviewed me last week.

    Ted Olsen and I are going to be writing a piece on the new shape of evangelicalism (which may be a more positive way of talking about “the collapse” of the older cultural expression :-) ), so naturally we’ll want to interview you as we make our way.

  44. David Scott says:

    Michael,

    I’m struck by especially one comment you made:

    “I was reminded again how many of us are homeless in evangelicalism.”

    That’s it. I feel homeless. I was raised in the Church of Christ tradition and still frequent the waters. These days, however, I spend quite a bit of time visiting Baptist churches for events and conferences. In virtually every situation, what I see and what I hear just don’t match up to what I am convinced the church should be. The list of qualifications for Christianity seem now to be:
    A) Church on Sunday
    B) Vote Republican
    C) Listen to “Christian” radio
    D) Buy as much “Christian” books, “Christian” t-shirts, “Christian” music, “Christian” mints, “Christian” salt and whatever other “Christian” crap from the “Christian” retailer as you can
    E) Soak in the consumer lifestyle, after all, God wants us to be happy, so God’s blessed us with all the “stuff” we can buy, regardless of how it affects our local, or global, neighbors.

    I thought it was more about how you treat your neighbor and proclaim “good news” about reconciliation with God first, and then the person next to you, living simply, giving generously, and loving personally.

    Homeless – that’s it.

  45. @iMonk

    “Chris:

    Is there a specific question you are asking? All I’m reading in your posts are taunts posed as questions, which would simply be a waste of time to respond to because it doesn’t appear you are looking for a discussion but an argument.

    If you have a specific question, I’ll be glad to answer it if I read it. I miss a lot of what’s written here because I can’t read every word with retention.

    peace

    ms”

    All right, I apologize for the last post. It was emotional and juvenile but it did have the core of the two questions/challenges:

    1) Why do any of you feel a need to try to
    legislate the actions of non-Christians to
    meet your standards?

    It’s not IN in the New Testament! In
    fact, the gospels and the book of Acts shows
    a distinct aversion to meddling in government
    and attempting to control the lives of
    non-Chrisians. Jesus was explicit in his
    denunciation of the Pharisees and Saducees
    over their laying “extra burdens on peoples’
    backs”. He was equally emphatic about paying
    the Roman occupation’s taxes.

    In all of Paul’s letters the only people he
    rebuked were other Christians. I believe his
    attitude was the same as Jesus’ that we deal
    with our own and leave the rest to God to
    sort out.

    2) Why don’t all of you become involved in the
    lives of us non-Christians in the same manner
    Jesus did with the “sinners” of his own
    community?

    He himself spent time cultivating warm,
    caring relationships with prostitutes,
    thieves, adulterers and the like. In fact,
    he rebuked the Pharisees for trying to
    criticize him for doing it with the analogy
    of a physician needing to be among the sick
    rather than the healthy.

    Those are my questions/challenges – hopefully free of any sense of mockery. Note that I’m saying that this is an individual responsibility rather than something you can hand off to a ministry.

    I’d like to see some real discussion on this – at least with you and hopefully more than that.

  46. Chris,

    1) Christians are citizens, too. They have the right to advocate legislation like anyone else. Why do non-Christians feel the need to try and eradicate the practice of Christianity in the public square by legislation? Everything you mention in both these questions is a two way street.

    I agree that legislation is not the church’s calling, but Christians in America have the right to participate in the process. You people act like any vote for a Republican is a vote against your right to be a non-Christian. Give me a break. How over the top are we going to be. Are non-Christians now going to tell us how we have to vote in order to not persecute them? (And evangelicals whine the same way about liberal candidates. It’s asinine.)

    2) Millions of evangelicals spend their their lives working with and ministering to non-Christians. More than 70% of the students at our school are non-Christians. I’ve been here 17 years, working for less in a year than many readers make in 3 months. I have 150 co-workers doing the same.

    As to the non-Christians who have sent threats to this discussion- which I haven’t posted- I can understand why some people don’t want to spend time with people whose only agenda is stated as “I want to poison you and your children” or “evangelicals are vermin.”

  47. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    A guy called me from California to explain to me that all the problems in Catholicism and Christianity go back to giving up the Latin mass. If we have the Latin mass, there will be so many men signing up to be priests you won’t know what to do with them. He went on and on. Clearly deranged. Why is he telling ME this, of all people? (No, it wasn’t Mel Gibson.) Does he think evangelicals need Latin services?

    Remember how both Catholics and Evangelicals flake out, just in different ways? Well, this is another of the standard Catholic flakeouts.

    “Tridentine Latin Mass Uber Alles!” is one of the obsessions of Catholic flakes. It’s our version of the Evangelical obsession of the 1950s as a Godly Golden Age; both hearken back to the Godly Old Days before The Sixties.

    Maybe you could get the transsubstantiation guy to answer the predestination woman’s question! (Or would that be too Taoist?) — Zla’od

    Reminds me of the guy who was on the mailing lists for both Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientology. He arranged forwarding addresses so all the JW junk mail went to the Scientology Org and all the Scientology junk mail went to the Kingdom Hall. Figured now it’s THEIR problem.

  48. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    And some small shred of sympathy for our afflicted brother in California; he probably is nuts, but then again, he may just be in the diocese of Cardinal Mahony, a prelate firmly devoted to – in the liturgy at least – the Spirit of Vatican II two words for you: Liturgical. Dance. My personal bugbear, and if I were faced with it every Sunday and holyday of obligation, I’d be pinning the mantilla on my head and gibbering about the smoke of Satan, too :) — Martha

    I’m in that archdiocese; the local drive-time radio wags refer to “Cardinal-Pedophile Mahoney”, and our Cathedral in LA is hands-down the UGLIEST cathedral in existence. (I’m sure you’ve seen its infamous statue of St Mary that resembles a Stalinist “Joe the Worker” with arms straight out of Popeye; if I was St Mary, I’d have a cease-and-desist order underway.) Fortunately, the madness hasn’t affected my parish; we haven’t even used “Gather Us In” (THE most overused lightweight of an entrance hymn) in months.

    As for Liturgical Dance, I’d take it over the infamous Clown Masses done “In the Spirit of Vatican II”.

  49. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    “I’ll never again nod when someone says Catholics aren’t evangelistic. I’ve had at least 25 appeals for conversion in my mailbox this week. Is there a bounty on my head at the Vatican? (Poster?)” — Martha

    Does this mean IMonk can be expecting a call from the Jesuit with No Name? Hunting bounties for the Order of St Borg?

    My old Dungeonmaster (D&D, not BDSM) put it this way:

    “(My real name), Christians are like a spaghetti western. You have The Good, Rhe Bad, and The Ugly. And it looks like you were in a position to see a LOT of the third.”

  50. @iMonk

    Point 1
    =======
    I certainly agree that Christians have the right to vote too. However, as the God ordained messengers of the Gospel AND portrayers of Christ, it makes sense to me to sincerely question a) political activism and b) what is most important in the long run?

    Point a, by nature, publicly states what you are most interested in to the rest of society. Point b should always be “spreading the gospel and modeling Christ to the people around you”.

    Given that, do you really want to send the message to the rest of the world that what you’re focused on is constraining their behavior?

    Point 2
    =======
    I’m glad you do, but the vast majority of Christians don’t. Instead, they focus solely on church culture and maybe give a few dollars to those that do (as you’ve just shown).

    However, being inwardly focused to the exclusion of the outside world is blatantly wrong. They are not modeling Christ’s outreach to the “sinners” at all.

    If, in fact, one out of three people self identify as Christian here in the US, I should be getting many invites at work, at the mailbox in my apartment complex and from people who self identify as Christian in the local chat rooms I frequent.

    In actuality, there’s exactly two people in my 46 years of life who have done this.

    You talk about getting death threats and such from the over the top folks. I have to say “so what”? It didn’t stop the early church at all. Why should it stop you?

    Besides, you know as well as I do that most of those posts aren’t serious. The few that are constitute a tiny minority of the overall non-Christian population. How often does someone get killed or injured in the US by someone just because they are a Christian?

    Yes, it does happen. However, a much larger number of people get killed in car accidents in any given year. Yet we all still drive.

    When you combine the political activism of point 1 with the almost total lack of interest by Christians in point 2, non-Christians see a pretty ugly picture.

    What we see is a bunch of people who’s sole interest in us is a need for control over us.
    That’s a pretty ugly picture. It’s about as opposite the priorities Christ set for Christians as you can get.

    I’m not the first person to advocate this. In fact, you’ll find major debate among Protestants between prohibition and the Cold war on this very topic.