October 16, 2018

Reasons to Rant

As I write these words on Sunday night, I don’t have the energy or concentration to put together a coherent rant. (It’s been another one of those “hit the wall” weeks.) So, instead, let me bring to your attention some of the crazy stuff I noticed this week that I would rant about if I could.

You, on the other hand, are free to rant away.

1. Francis Chan and “Wretched Urgency” discipleship. Can you say world-denying, dualistic, pietistic, and totally bereft of the Gospel? What altar call revivalism using 40 verses of “Just As I Am” was to “Wretched Urgency” evangelism, Chan and the company of “radical” evangelicals are to discipleship. And he manages to diss an entire generation in the process.

(Oh yeah, and there’s that word “Biblical” again.)

 

 

2. “Christian” bookstores: OF the world but not IN it. Rachel Held Evans nails her theses on the door of Lifeway and the Christian bookstore and publishing industry in light of the “Blind Side” controversy. Read her devastating piece: “Christian bookstores and their chokehold on the industry”.

Rachel’s right: “Christians are not called to create a subculture untouched by the beauty and ugliness of this world. No, Christians are called to speak the truth, even when it is uncomfortable….especially when it is uncomfortable.”

* * *

3. Busy-ness is not OF the devil. It IS the devil. I believe it was John Wesley who said that, one of the most energetic and productive people in history. However, he lived in a slower era, when a great deal of “living” everyday was simply about staying alive. In contrast, Tim Kreider has written incisively about the obscenity of busy-ness in modern life in his NY Times piece, “The ‘Busy’ Trap.” 

Keeper sentence: “The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it.”

Keeper insight: “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.”

In other words, we need the Gospel.

Comments

  1. I guess if one wants to get exercised go ahead, But if you are, “In Christ and saved by his Grace.” what is the problem? Pay no attention to the doubting unsaved who have an axe to grind!

    • I don’t think all who doubt are unsaved- I think some doubt because we are humans who see through a glass darkly 🙂 I John even mentions that are hearts can condemn us, but God knows are hearts and knows all things! And as someone who grew up in revivalistic fundamentalism, those types of surrender more and more and more messages can be extremely damaging. You are blessed if you have not experienced this.

  2. I saw nothing in Chan’s video that deserved scorn. What was it exactly that he got wrong?

    • Rick Ro. says:

      +1
      I, too, thought the Chan video was fine. I heard nothing offensive, just a challenge to the elderly to risk for Christ. Good message, actually. Several of my friends and I have noticed the great percentage of elderly in our congregation who no longer seem on fire for the Lord, or even entering into mentoring relationships with the youth. Many elderly seem to “retire” from service to Him. Chan is merely challenging that mindset. Bravo, I say.

      • Chris from Oz says:

        As a Pastor from Down under it is the elderly – particularly those who are near retirement or just retired who are the back bone of the volunteers in the life of the Church.

        • I concur. This stereotype of retired evangelicals who move to Florida and sit on the beach all day is a religious boogeyman. I know zero who fit that profile, and old folks in the congregations I’ve served are usually pouring out their lives in ministry.

          It is true they tend to veer away from the youth, because they’re scarred of them, but have you considered this could be for good reason? In hindsight, avoiding the youth is a decision resulting in wisdom from experience. After all, that’s what we hire the youth pastor for, right? 😛

          More seriously, though, many church ministry structures create obstacles to connecting the youth with the elderly. When you adopt an entertainment based youth ministry, selling Jesus to kids under the premise that church is fun, well then what could be more boring than an old person? IMO, wise leaders look for ways to unite the generations, not divide them. We shouldn’t expect gramps to get a mohawk and tattoo to prove he’s a genuine disciple. But nothing impacts a young man’s life more than when an old guy from church takes him fishing. With more and more kids coming from broken homes these days, our churches are chock full of a wealth of resources (old people) who can step in to fill the void in their lives by becoming their second family. This may not be the fastest way to explode your numbers, but churches that do this are models of health. When this doesn’t happen, don’t blame the old folks: Take a good look at the youth program. I got 20 bucks that says many would jump at the chance to have a lasting impact on younger generations.

          • Good words, Miguel

          • Miguel,

            I don’t disagree but my wife just pointed out recently, and this is all observational, that the she noticed at the church pre-school where she works that they were having a harder and harder time getting the older members involved in stuff like VBS etc.

            I have a theory as to why and I hate to slam a whole generation, but I think we are going to be surprised (even though we shouldn’t be) that this current boomer generation is going to view their retirement years completely different than their parents’ generation. I see this in how folks of that generation are handling being grandparents much differently than my grandparents generation did.

          • These are intereting thoughts Miguel, but what do they have to do with the video? You seem to have injected in several stereotypes of your own, rather than just commenting on what Chan actually said in the video. And we wonder why there is so much disunity in the Church?

            It’s because we aren’t really listening to each other – let alone loving.

          • Brad, I wasn’t commenting on the video, but on Chris Oz’s comment. See below for my thoughts on the vid. My thoughts aren’t from stereotyping but from 5 years working as a youth pastor, observing the interaction (or lack thereof) between generations. This idea of the elderly retiring to the numbing bliss of endless vacation is a religious boogeyman if I’ve ever seen one. Chan may not have elaborated on it a ton, but I’m not putting words in his mouth here; I’ve heard countless fundagelicals rant against these absentee octogenarians, but please don’t make me quote Piper chapter and verse. Although, when I wasn’t splitting the bride of Christ and hatefully ignoring my brothers, I did concede (to Chan) that many elderly do not take an active mentoring role in the lives of young believers (it’s between the lines). My whole point is that I wouldn’t dump the blame in their lap because current trends in youth ministry are a more prominent culprit, IMO.

            Austin, if you’ll pardon the quote from Hans Fiene, consider the reason elderly don’t flock to support modern children’s program may be because they don’t feel equipped to teach children that Jesus lives in the jungle on a giant pirate ship made of macaroni and play dough. In my experience, old retired folks are the first to jump in and help with just about anything, but the more “innovative” the programming for children and youths, the more they find themselves ostracized by it.

            Rewind youth ministry 75 years. Who was teaching Sunday School and Catechism classes? Just curious, I wasn’t there.

        • dumb ox says:

          The elderly continue to volunteer to support an evangelical subculture which increasingly wants nothing to do with them. Sure, give us your time and treasure, but don’t expect anything in return. We’re too in debt building the sound and light systems for our boy band worship team.

          If one doesn’t see the elerly engaged or involved, it could be that they are getting the hint that they are not wanted. I have shared the horror stories of my parents, who tirelessly devoted themselves to church service but then were ignored when my dad developed health problems.

          • Rick Ro. says:

            I stated this as a response to a similar message furef down, but I’ll copy/paste it here, as I think it gets at the heart of the matter…

            I would agree that the elderly are often marginalized within churches. I’m not sure, though, if that invalidates Chan’s statements that the elderly become risk-takers for the Lord…not unless you want to argue that it is through this marginalization that the elderly become risk-averse and lukewarm. That doesn’t necessarily invalidate Chan’s statements, but more looks at a cause of the issue, which maybe gets at how to best “reinvigorate” the elderly for the Lord.

          • dumb ox says:

            Rick Ro.

            I will defer to Miguel’s excellent comments. Phrases like, “luke warm” and
            reinvigorate” are incredibly loaded. One cannot judge someone as “luke warm” based on their church involvement or their sacrifice to the cause of evangelical wretched urgency.

            We tell people to be religious consumers and then make them feel guilty for not supporting that consumerism. How about abolishing the consumerism? Perhaps that would reduce the number of elderly volunteers that need to be guilted into the cause.

      • Generationally speaking in a broad American general sense, the “greatest generation” is who built large retirement communities which keep youth out and make their worlds become smaller and more isolated. The baby boomers, who are just reaching retirement age, are all about not retiring but still learning stuff – being in charge and sounding smart. That doesn’t always translate into rolling up their sleeves and getting to work with others for the benefit of someone else. There is a generation that often gets overlooked in between these two – often called the silent generation. They tend to be the overworked older folks in the church and community. Reminder this is a generalization and is looking at trends not specific people – unless you are speaking about my parents.

      • Clay Crouch says:

        Rick, please define “on fire for the Lord”. Also, I would appreciate your definition of “a great percentage”. Thank you.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          I apologize for the generalizations and nebulous adjectives. Here are facts from my current home church, of which I am a 50-year old male and a 20+ year attender. We have only about a dozen teen and youth in our church, a church that used to be 400-500 strong and filled with kids, that now runs ~200. 85% of our congregation is 50 years old or older. 85% of our congregation have been Christians for 20 years or longer. At some point we developed a country club mentality and became a church to ourselves. We have done little to reach out to our community, to engage the youth. During one service last year, our pastor asked anyone who had been a Christian 5 years or less to raise their hands. 4 people responded. I take that as we have also done nothing to evangelize and share the Good News with people around us. We have become a risk-averse congregation, “lukewarm” if you will. Because my church’s demographic is “elderly” and I’ve seen/heard this demographic become lukewarm, I am on board with Chan’s challenge to this demographic.

          I point the finger at myself when I say all this; I am/was a part of this. It wasn’t until I was in the midst of teaching the gospels of Mark and Matthew to one of our adult Sunday school classes that the Lord began to convict me in my own “lukewarmness,” and indeed the church’s.

          This is why Chan’s video resonated with me. I’ve seen the elderly step back and become lukewarm. I’ve seen and heard people basically say, “I’ve put I my 30 years serving the Lord; now it’s time for me to relax in my own salvation.”

          No. Now is the time to take risks. There are still people in need of hearing about God’s saving grace.

          • Clay Crouch says:

            Rick,

            Thank you for your thoughtful response. While I certainly sympathize with your church’s situation, I am not sure how that relates to Mr. Chan’s video. Several months ago Chaplain Mike did a review of Diana Butler Bass’ book, “Christianity after Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening”. It might give you some insights into the decline of churches in America. Hint: has nothing to do with lazy, selfish, or cowardly old folks.

          • Our church has intergenerational small groups – those over 65 involved – 0.
            Our church has an intergenerational missions project – those over 65 involved – 0.
            Our church has Sunday School teachers – those over 65 involved – 0.
            Our church has worship teams – those over 65 involved – 0.
            Our church has an elders board – those over 65 involved – 1.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Is this because there are few over-65s in your church, they’re not interested, or they’re being frozen out by a youth-centered system?

          • HUG,

            Lots of Seniors. They tend to be inward focused, and none of the examples I gave above were particularly youth focued.

          • David L says:

            I was born in 54 and have certain memories from my youth in the 60s and early 70s. My father was selected to head up the building committee to replace our building after it burned in 67. He spent the next 3 years taking HELL from his father (in his early 80s) about how the youngsters were ruining the church. And others of the seniors voice similar sentiments. (Basically they wanted to start building a rectangular red brick building with a white steeple the day after the fire and my father was the focal point for the heretics that sold the old property, bought a new bigger property and built what many called a “Catholic” church. All done with big majority votes.)

            And as a youth during this time you were considered a possible communist as a guy if you didn’t have a buzz cut or flat top hair cut. Kids were sent from home HIGH SCHOOL as late as 1969 if your hair touched your collar.

            And so on. I suspect that a lot of us now hold back as we don’t want to be remembered as those crotchety old jerks who seemed to live to make life miserable for anyone who didn’t agree with the wishes of the over 60 crowd.

      • David Cornwell says:

        The church I attend has balanced participation by people of all age groups. Older people, for the most part, are as active as they can be. I’m not sure what “on fire for Christ” looks like, but from the folks I’ve known who have that reputation, I usually want to stay away from them. Living life daily with Christ isn’t a frantic enterprise, it’s in the daily grind, coping, making a living, dealing with children, and getting older. I, for one, do not have near the energy I had when younger, but I still manage to live a mostly satisfying life.

        When I retired one of my objectives was to slow down, not do more “for the Lord.” Mainly I stopped rushing, refuse to hurry most of the time, and attempt to enjoy the moment. Now I read more, work on my photography hobby, and still find time to hold a couple of positions at church. But if they want someone who is hyper, don’t come to me. I also try to find time to enjoy my family and friends. Just being with people and loving the people one comes into contact with is enough “fire” for me.

        If all of the above equals “lukewarm” then so be it.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Living life daily with Christ isn’t a frantic enterprise, it’s in the daily grind, coping, making a living, dealing with children, and getting older.

          op cit the Little Way of St Therese of Lisieux — finding Holiness and God in everyday routine.

        • +1

    • Brad and Rick, are you kidding? The only way Chan will ever find what he’s looking for is for him to become a monk and to make everyone else monks and nuns. And I doubt he’s “radical” enough to do that.

      This is exactly the mindset Luther railed against as promoting some kind of super-Christianity.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        It’s a known Heresy with a name:

        CLERICALISM. The idea that only Priests, Monks, Nuns, or “Full-Time Christian (TM) Workers” matter in the sight of God. Only these Official Super-Christians, not you or me.

        • HUG, I couldn’t agree with you more!! One of the talks I’m invited to give at retreats talks about “leaders” in the church…and most people think of priests, nuns and the like. But through the talk, I show that sometimes leadership and indeed leading people to Christ and to his church is not about who does what *visible* job in the church, but many times, it’s the things we hardly notice.

          Sometimes it’s the kind friendship we show to people who then ask us about our faith. One time, there was a guy in line ahead of me who was buying cases of canned food – when asked, he stated that his church supported a food bank and that he loved to do it. I could tell he was super-shy and seemed unlikely to be in any overt activities, yet, he clearly influenced everyone in line that day. One of my friends used to leave his Bible open on his desk at work – never mentioned it, always waited for someone to notice and ask about it then he would quietly witness to them. Sometimes it’s even something as subtle as just being kind to a stranger that brings people to Christ. Leadership doesn’t have to be about being the “big wig” or even being “active” in the happenings of your church – outreach is sometimes simply being Christ’s face in the world.

      • Hi Mike,

        No, I wasn’t kidding. It’s why I asked. Taken at face value, there is nothing in the video that is unchartable or denegrating to the elderly. In fact, the same challeges could just as easily be applied to any generation, and having read and listened to Chan I know that he applies equal force to younger generations .

        Most importantly, Chan says nothing of what you’re trying to make him say – so I thought this rant was odd and misplaced given that you hold many of the same kinds of complaints about the Church that Chan expressed in the video.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          +1 again with Brad. It would seem he and I are of like mind on this.

          Indeed, the rant appears to be to be misplaced, as I would think most of the folks here at InternetMonk would appreciate someone who tends to challenge traditional (bordering on Pharisitical) Christian traditions and roles, and seeks to push people out of their comfort zones, much like Jesus did (and I would argue, still wants us to do). I see Chan as a person who feels convicted to push people out of their comfort zones. His books and talks have always struck me as very Christ-like and Spirit-filled, and I certainly see no need to throw stones at the man.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        Chaplain Mike…I respect you a lot, appreciate all you do here, filling in quite ably for Michael. This is still the best Christian blog site in the universe. I greatly appreciated your response to one of my comments in the Healthcare post by creating a second thread that purposefully injected Christ into the equation. However, you show great disrespect for people with views and opinions counter to yours when you say something like, “Brad and Rick, are you kidding?”

        I can’t speak for Brad, but no…I’m not kidding. Amazing, but yes…I have an opinion and view that is counter to yours. And responding to people with a “are you kidding” does nothing but feed other people’s emotionally-fueled and belittling responses. I know this is your rant and you’re emotionally committed to it, but all I’m trying to do is point out there are other ways to look at what Chan said.

    • Clay Crouch says:

      Sorry Brad, but I disagree. I have to question the need to excoriate an entire demographic. Painting with a broad brush is lazy at best. One has to wonder if the YRR evangelicals have run out of targets for what has become their message of graceless sanctification? What’s next, “Radical Preschoolers”? Oh that’s right, Mr. Driscoll is already on top of that one.

      • Clay,

        Speaking in generalities is dangerous and may seem lazy, but there is some validity. The Boomers tithe less because they have as a group been less prudent with their spending in their lives than their parents were, they are often working longer and volunteer less b/c again they are not in the financial place their parents were or they want to try to “hold on to their youth.” One only has to see how many “Geritol Gangs” are on our highways in motorcycles, how many impotence drug commercials are on TV etc.

        It is going to sound very unkind I know, and I say this with my own parents just barely being boomers, but as a whole, and again, that is as a whole, the boomers have radically altered every phase of society and culture as they collectively devour through it. We shouldn’t expect anything less with how they greet old age and retirement.

        • Clay Crouch says:

          Austin,

          I would love to know the source material for your assertions regarding baby boomers’ charitable giving, financial prudence, and their volunteering compared with the other generations. You are right that it is unwise to speak in generalities. It is doubly so to do it from a pulpit as Mr. Chan did. As I alluded to in my comment, I’ve grown tired of a certain small but loud segment of Christianity telling the rest of us what loving Jesus really looks like. I look forward to your response.

          • Clay,

            Sorry to keep you waiting. As to Boomer’s financial prudence one doesn’t need to do anything more than read almost anything from reasonable economist regarding increased debt, decreased savings as it relates to what has been called the Greatest Generation vs the boomers. Same thing goes for giving as a percentage of total income.

          • Clay Crouch says:

            Austin,

            Thank you for responding. I’m afraid that you haven’t made your case. As you wrote earlier, broad brushing is dangerous. Let’s just look at some statistics on volunteering, since this was a part of Mr. Chan’s rant at old folks:

            Nearly a third of all boomers – comprising some 25.8 million people – volunteered for a formal organization in 2005. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

            At 33.2%, the volunteer rate for baby boomers is the highest of any generational age group, and more than four percentage points above the national average of 28.8%. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

            A typical boomer volunteer serves 51 hours a year, or approximately one hour a week. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

            The percentage of retired baby boomers who volunteered increased steadily, from approximately 25% in 2002 to approximately 30% in 2004. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

            Please understand that I am in no way an apologist for an entire generation, but a simple google search on baby-boomer statistics might go a long way towards dispelling other common myths about this particular generation that you seem to hold in some disdain.

            “There’s nothing more horrible than the murder of a beautiful theory by a brutal gang of facts.” – Francois Duc de La Rochefoucauld

      • Clay,

        It looks like you pulled out a few broad brushes of your own. Certainly, I don’t think the totality of Chan’s ministry should be judged on a single video, do you? Wouldn’t that be lazy? At any rate, I can’t say I’m fan of Chan, but again, I thought Mike’s reaction to the video was odd.

        PS – It’s okay to disagree with me so no need to be sorry.

        • Clay Crouch says:

          Brad,

          Thanks for your response. I’m in no position to, nor was I judging the totality of Mr. Chan’s ministry, just the comments made in his video. Considering Mike’s posts over the last year and half, why do you think his response to Mr. Chan’s video odd? I find it consistent.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        One has to wonder if the YRR evangelicals have run out of targets for what has become their message of graceless sanctification? What’s next, “Radical Preschoolers”?

        The word I’d use would be “Calvinjugend”. And the Godwin’s Law invocation is deliberate.

        Oh that’s right, Mr. Driscoll is already on top of that one.

        That’s the Driscolljugend.

    • Personally, I’d like to drop that TV on Chan’s head! 44 is still rather young and he has probably not begun to experience the myriad difficulties of growing old.

      First of all, many of the elderly are busy just trying to live day to day. If retired, money is sometimes a big issue. You may have heard of the recent recession? Money that people saved and planned on having at retirement is gone for many folks. Often these funds were calculated just to cover basic living expenses – I’m not referring to those with enough to vacation all over the globe. Some are falling into the poverty level. There is no safety net any longer. Ridiculous property taxes, health care and meds tend to eat up resources. Sell the house? Give it away? One must live somewhere and rents are no better.

      Health issues are a huge problem, too. If one is in pain and dealing with the challenges of chronic health problems, there is little energy left for “radical” living.

      And then there are the churches themselves. I have witnessed this first hand. Visitors to the church: a husband/wife with little children and an older couple. Who do you think garnered that pastor’s attention? The older couple were barely acknowledged. Were they judged as having little to offer?

      Now, I do agree in the older person’s ability to mentor and be a prayer warrior for others. But first, someone must reach out and engage the elderly.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Well, the retired sending their Social Security checks in to pay for the Televangelist’s Learjet is an old one.

      • David Cornwell says:

        Right on the nose Bella. Younger people know very little about getting older. The idea that they should give us this kind of “advise” on how to live now is offensive. As my dad said when he was living, “getting old isn’t for wimps.” We don’t have to be in a state of “doing” all the time. It’s far better to be in a state of “being.” I doubt that Christ demands much more.

        • David Cornwell says:

          advise = advice

        • David, just how old do you have to be to have an opinion about the elderly? 44 isn’t old enough?

          • Clay Crouch says:

            Brad, you are being disingenuous. You know that Mr. Chan was not simply expressing an opinion. I think that it is safe to assume that he was, in his mind, preaching facts and pronouncing judgments upon an entire group of Christians. That’s a far cry from “having an opinion”.

            Of course, you are more than welcome to your opinion about the elderly in regards to ministry. But be prepared for some push back as you are asked to defend that opinion. Is that unreasonable?

          • David L says:

            Most people these days who are 44 have been an adult for maybe 20 years. We don’t expect kids to “grow up” until after college.

            I’m 58 and still have a hard time with the concept of being 2 years short of 60. I still feel I have a lot to learn and do. I can’t imagine retiring. And God willing, I’ll have another 30 years or more to do it if my genetic history is any guide.

          • 44 is probably barely old enough to have a mature opinion ;o)

            T

    • The assumption of Chan’s entire sermon is that if old people aren’t acting like he is, then they are lukewarm and worldly. Same old same old. Raise the bar of ‘true sold out for Jesus spirituality’ to absurd heights and then criticize those who fail to live up to it. Especially senior citizens, after they have literally spent their lives sacrificing by raising children(and sometimes grandchildren) and faithfully working at their vocations for 30, 40, or 50 years, Chan criticizes them for not being ‘sold out enough.’ It wouldn’t be a shock to me to find that not many older people are attracted to Chan’s church

  3. Mary Anne Dutton says:

    I found your three key observations invaluable. Please keep them coming, we need – must – know what is going on out there in the big picture that truly is the wilderness.

  4. Re: Christian book stores: As a Catholic Christian who does hands-on healing, I have a whole other perspective on Christian bookstores and the Christian book publishing industry. 1) Catholic vs. Christian. Apparently in some Christian circles, Catholic is not Christian. I’m not sure how this happened, but it has. We have several Christian bookstores in our area, none of which will sell “Catholic” merchandise – Catholic bibles, rosaries, crucifixes, religious medals, icons, etc. are banned from these stores and they won’t even order these products. Their contention, “Catholics aren’t Christian.” Since when? We proclaim Jesus as our savior, how are we then exempt from being Christian? I don’t get it. 2) I have written (and now successfully published) a book on Contemplative Christian prayer which illustrates the connection between Jesus’ teachings and the seven chakras observed in Eastern Energy Medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, Yoga, etc. None of the Christian publishing houses (or Catholic for that matter) would even take a look at the book because it entertained spiritual practices from the East. Thankfully the Progressive Christian Industry has a more open mind.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Which is why when I’m asked online “what church do you go to”, my standard answer is “ROMISH PAPIST WITH SATANIC DEATH COOKIES!”

      After which, I tell these Born-Again Bible-Believers (TM) that they wouldn’t have a Bible to Believe if the bishops of my church (Yes, Apostate Satanic Romish Popery) hadn’t prevented all the Shirley Mac Laines from rewriting it in their own image back when years AD were in the low three digits.

      • I can only hope to have your wit when people ask me the same question HUG…

        One time at a Baptist church in the deep, rural south, I was subbing for the organist who had come down with chicken pox at the age of 54. One of my piano students was introducing me to his parents and fellow parishioners…they of course asked me where I attended regularly. I said “I attend St. XXXX”…it was like roaches scattering when the lights go on. My poor little piano student looked up at me and said “gee, Miss LA, you sure know how to clear a room!”

        Off topic, but your post just made me giggle…

        On topic, I too, do not understand when Catholics stopped being Christians…I know that I’m not a clergy-person or incredibly well-versed, in fact reading this blog makes me realize how unknowing I am of the underpinnings of my faith, but I did take church history in college and I seem to remember that the RC church was kinda where it all started – but I could be wrong about that – I did take the class in my rather clouded youth. And the bookstores here are likewise segregated.

        And unfortunately, these uninformed folks tend to lump us Episcopalians in with the RC’s which makes me giggle and be irate all at the same time. I don’t know when Christianity became hijacked by these folks or when we were kicked out of the club, but we seemingly have been amongst some circles.

      • StJohn117 says:

        HUG,
        So, the dark side does really have cookies, then? I thought that was just a figure of speech!

    • David L says:

      Apparently in some Christian circles, Catholic is not Christian. I’m not sure how this happened, but it has.

      Did your history skip over the reformation? That little dust up when Luther had a disagreement with the Pope that sort of spiraled out of control.

      All kidding aside many RCC oriented histories of the church that I’ve read tend to treat this as a minor point.

      Of course it doesn’t help that Baptists (Southern?) came up with Landmarkism as a way to pretend the RCC wasn’t really the official church for 1500 years. And some surveys show that something like 20% or more still believe it to be the truth.

      As to the Episcopalians, well they are the RCC but without the pope in terms of history. Luther was after that split. And I think that Anglican priests are the only ones allowed to be a priest in the RCC without much fuss.

      NOT that I believe RCC and Anglican people are not Christian. We just have some differences of opinion on a few issues. Some strongly held.

  5. “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. “Idle dreaming is often of the essence of what we do,” wrote Thomas Pynchon in his essay on sloth. Archimedes’ “Eureka” in the bath, Newton’s apple, Jekyll & Hyde and the benzene ring: history is full of stories of inspirations that come in idle moments and dreams…” From The Busy Trap.
    I would go so far as to say that you will never learn to hear the Holy Spirit “lead you into all truth” unless you find a form of quiet and stillness. Those ecstasies of insight that draw us out of ourselves rarely happen unless we are ‘attending’ to the heart. There is a direct relationship. That’s not to say He can’t speak whenever He wishes, because He does, only that He chooses to answer our quiet diligence and attendance to Him with an intimate word that just doesn’t get through in the hubbub.

  6. It’s just scary to realize that I am now on of the “Elderly”.

    And I thought, “Wait, when did I STOP living radically?”

    And who stole the word/concept Biblically? Why does it make me cringe more than ever?

  7. It’s summer. My most often quoted line with kids during the summer is that boredom is a state of mind. Our culture tells us not to be bored. However, the kids have great thoughts and do interesting things when they are over being bored and expecting me to entertain them. On the other hand, adults can entertain themselves in a truly mobile way and avoid their own thoughts, fears, acedia, and inner creativity. So sad.

    Personally, I started to hang out with some “plain folk” (Aka: Mennonites and Amish) last year and was humbled by their mad skills. They spend time sitting and talking (and whittling and fiddling) but not being busy – being good neighbors. They just are. It has challenged me to limit “mindless entertainment” (just like I had already limited it in my children to allow them to be bored) and over scheduled life. I’ve got to get my bored on.

  8. This is just anecdotal evidence, but at the Christian radio network I work for, our afternoon host on the music station posted a question about Lifeway’s decision to pull “The Blind Side” on Facebook:

    30+ comments in 10 minutes — and universal criticism of Lifeway. There are complaints about the trite content in stores and the fear of real life. A few people with adopted children (or foster kids) praised the film. A few even talked boycott.

    On one hand, this is just people ranting on Facebook. On the other hand, these are mostly Christian radio listening women between 30-60 — Lifeway’s target. In the era of Amazon and B&N having a strong selection of books, I can’t imagine all of this silliness is in Lifeway’s favor.

    Personally, I’ve stayed out of Lifeway as much as possible ever since they tried to upsell me Bibles, Mints, Book Clubs, and more gimmicks at the checkout. That and never finding NT Wright books or Aradhna CDs.

  9. Dan Crawford says:

    The first problem with “Christian” bookstores is the adjective. Truth in advertising would require them to describe themselves as Evangelical-Fundamentalist- Baptist bookstores. They offer nothing worth reading or considering. The “literature” they sell is anything but. One is better off reading Greene, Bernanos, Robinson, Updike, and a whole host of others who actually deal with sin and redemption. The devotional books are mediocrity at its finest. I gave up on them years ago. And I make it a point to encourage others tempted to spend their money in them to go elsewhere. A Christian who wants to grow in maturity in Christ can’t survive a diet of sugar wafers.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Not even sugar wafers. More like Cotton Candy with a Bible Verse Zip Code inscribed to make it Christian(TM).

    • Don’t forget the annual dose of Baptist chicle and thimble of grape juice. There’s no spiritual malnutrition with them kinda vitamins!

      Don’t get me started on the music sold at those stores. I understand that the CCM/worship genres have had their major brands purchased by secular companies with no interest beyond a bottom line. This explains a lot. Did the same thing happen in the Christian book world?

  10. I’ve drawn a connection between the Busy Time and the Francis Chan. Chan would seem to prefer that the elderly get busy being about the business of the kingdom. Don’t be too hard on the guy, he’s just young and dumb. He talks about 44 as if he’s at death’s door. Remember it’s the young men who see visions. The old men dream dreams. If he suggested that the elderly be afforded the winter of their lives to access the deeper mysteries and meaning, to grow to the full stature of Christ, well that would be the business of the kingdom. If they could ‘stumble upon’ some things,in the quiet of their lives, which eye has not seen nor ear heard, well that concretely builds the body of Christ. The sabbath was created for man, not man for the sabbath.

    • I should clarify. I’m being cheeky when I say “young and dumb.” I should say ‘ being dumb’. I think he is askew in this instance. I would not presume to say anything else lest I also engage in a spat of my own dumbness.

  11. Phil M. says:

    I saw the Francis Chan video on Scot McKnight’s blog last week, and Michael’s phrase “wretched urgency” is what came to my mind as well. Personally, I feel bad for Chan. He seems to put a lot of pressure on himself. I see this type of urgency as a symptom of serving a God whom you believe can never really be happy with you.

  12. Phil M. says:

    Regarding the NYT article on busyness, I agree with a lot of it, but I don’t agree with this statement from it:

    The Puritans turned work into a virtue, evidently forgetting that God invented it as a punishment.

    It’s not that work itself was cursed, but rather the object of our work. God put man in the garden to care for it, which I think is safe to assume involved work of some sort. Work can be fulfilling. It can also be a form of meaningless toil. I think it gets back to what the goal of our work is. If we are working for simply selfish reasons, any fulfillment we get will be short-lived. Work done for others’ sake will have lasting consequences.

  13. My favorite Christian bookstore is still Barnes and Noble. Just three or four shelves there hold better books than an entire Lifeway chain.

  14. The young don’t want to create or support a church culture that allows the elderly to participate with all their skills AND WEAKNESSES, and the elderly don’t want to support a church culture that is driven by “relevance,” energy and entertainment. Message to Chan: Stop goading and guilting the elderly into pouring what water they have into broken and malfunctioning cisterns, and stop building and fortifying and multiplying those same broken and malfunctioning cisterns.

  15. Francis Chan has built his celebrity reputation entirely on appealing to the old Adam. It’s pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps spirituality at its worst. I get so angry every time I listen to him. He sits there and beats people up for not being good enough, and does it in an entertaining way that it makes people laugh. Doesn’t he see what he’s doing? His audience is NOT laughing at themselves! They’re thinking, “Oh yeah, I know people like that. Thank God I’m not one of them.” It’s all law without Gospel. The vast majority of his “sermon jams” are completely Christless. It’s no surprise he walked away from his pastorate citing feelings of emptiness; he can never do enough for God, nothing is ever real enough. He’s preaching risk for risk’s sake, not bearing our cross for the good of our neighbor. He seems so sold out on this idea that we need to recover the zeal of the early church, as if the institution squashed it and he’s gonna be the first to recover it and get it right. What do they teach for church history at Masters?

    My friends read his books and think he is just so great. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! I just want to hold up his own mirror to him. Take every behavior he’s condemned, every stereotype he’s made derogatory caricature of, and hand it to him on a platter. Would you like some good news with that, sir?

    • +1

      Seriously, Miguel – When are you going to contribute a column to iMonk?

      • David Cornwell says:

        I love Miguel’s theology of music, along with many of his other thoughts. The evangelical church stands in need of a real theological understanding of what Church music should be, and what it should not be. I really what Miguel has to say about that subject. So, more is better.

    • Miguel, thank you for stating what my rant would have been, and for doing it so well.

    • Joseph (the original) says:

      so i am not the only one that finds Chan a bit too, well, ‘pushy’ in his self-appointed zeal???

      i was wondering what the buzz was surrounding him so i opted to read one of his most recent books. it was not one of his deeper tomes. but it was a step-by-step meditative type that had a very good theme yet promoted as a mild rebuke for those that were not doing what he was promoting…

      i remember types like Chan when i first became a disciple in earnest. they were the ones in my immediate Christian circle that were really pious, zealous & under the yoke of sin management. i marveled at their supra-human ability to maintain an air of holiness i knew i could not ever attain. but then i didn’t understand what true freedom was & just how significant the true Sabbath rest for the believer implies…

      reading some of the comments in other blogs/forums addressing Chan’s teachings seems like deja vu all over again. been-there-done-that when i was but a baby Christian. and there is no reason for me to want to go back to that form of constant sin awareness/management.

      {sigh}

      so maybe it is true there is nothing new under the sun??? 😉

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      He seems so sold out on this idea that we need to recover the zeal of the early church, as if the institution squashed it and he’s gonna be the first to recover it and get it right.

      Didn’t Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russel, and Ellen G White (as well as many more now forgotten) say the same thing?

      • …and thus we have the emerging “cults of personality.” An American Evangelical specialty. Still waiting for Purpose Driven Islam. Seeker Sensitive Sikhism? Or how about the Synagogue Growth movement?

    • Well said.

    • “My friends read his books and think he is just so great. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! I just want to hold up his own mirror to him. Take every behavior he’s condemned, every stereotype he’s made derogatory caricature of, and hand it to him on a platter. Would you like some good news with that, sir?”

      But who made you Mr. Chan’s judge?

      • Clay Crouch says:

        I guess the same guy that made Mr. Chan the judge of an entire demographic. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

      • So you would defend somebody who is blatantly judging entire demographics, but criticize anyone who judges that as inappropriate? And all I said was for him to stand up to judgement BY HIS OWN WORDS. I have nothing to add to them, they are condemning enough.

  16. dumb ox says:

    Ok, all you church, mission board, and non-profit leaders out there who currently rely on elderly volunteers to keep your wheels greased, do you realize that for more and more people retirement is a luxury of the wealthy, that most workers have no pentions, no retirement accounts, and no health care if the stop working? Do you have any idea that “aging biblically” for the upcoming generations wil be focused on just keeping food on the plate? Do you realize that the new inheritance passed onto children is debt? On top of these burdens, are you really going to pile on this kind of guilt? I’m not sure if this this is a lack of compassion or just simply an indication of how out-of-touch evangelicals really are to the current economic realities.

  17. Richard McNeeley says:

    I live in a city that where slightly more than half the population is retired. The retired people I know go on missions trips, volunteer at church, serve in government, volunteer at the local hospital and generally do things that the younger working population doesn’t have the time or money to do and they don’t have to be guilted into doing it. Perhaps Mr. Chan should move to a community that is full of older people, he may discover what sacrifice truly is

  18. Rant #1 – I’m over these churches that pop up like mushrooms offering a newer, more exciting relevant way of doing church. Yet it’s nothing but a rehashed, recycled way of “doing church”. Hip. Cool. Trendy. Technology. Contemporary music. Often set up by very young people, run by very young people, targeting very young people/young married couples. At times it seems there’s very little room at the table anymore for the elderly. Whether this generational purge is intentional or not, I don’t know. But it sure feels to me like a scene from Logan’s Run.

    Rant #2 – Scriptural breath mints. Matthew 19:26 tumblers. I am a Proverbs 31 woman tee shirt. Psalms matching place settings. Jelly bean prayer pack. Scripture holder football. I love you Mom plush bear. Bibleman cape & mask set. The where is my hairbrush veggie dough play set. Gigi dress up kit. The Noah loofah. And the Florida convention/SBC were only concerned about the Blindside movie?

    • Rick Ro. says:

      A Logan’s Run reference! 5 bonus points!!

      I would agree that the elderly are often marginalized within churches. I’m not sure, though, if that invalidates Chan’s statements that the elderly become risk-takers for the Lord…not unless you want to argue that it is through this marginalization that the elderly become risk-averse and lukewarm. That doesn’t necessarily invalidate Chan’s statements, but more looks at a cause of the issue, which maybe gets at how to best “reinvigorate” the elderly for the Lord.

    • One of these days, I’m gonna cafe press a coffee mug with 1 Kings 21:21 on it. That’s a money maker, I tell ya.

  19. In my Episcopal parish we don’t have a problem with the elderly because we are all 60 plus !!!!!

    • Rick Ro. says:

      As is my church, which begs the questions…

      1) how many in your congregation are relatively new Christians, aka 5 years or less?
      2) do you feel your church is doing anything to further God’s kingdom, if most of its members are over 60?
      3) would you call your church “healthy”? Lukewarm?
      4) would you call your congregation risk-takers or risk-averse?

      (BTW…These are meant to provoke thought, not offense, in an attempt to argue the validity to some of what Chan is saying.)

      • 1. When did Jesus ever call us to be “risk-takers”? I hear this all the time now, and I don’t recognize the Biblical referents.

        2. I don’t see that “healthy” and “lukewarm” are antonyms. I’m not sure what you mean by that.

        3. Your perspective becomes clearer when you ask if the church is “doing anything to further God’s kingdom.” Methinks you have specific ideas about what that looks like and that it is something OTHER than Christians living out their vocations in the world each day. While I would agree that there is a place for special “mission” activity in addition to our daily callings, I think you and I would disagree fundamentally about how much emphasis should be put on one in relation to the other.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          1) If dropping your nets and leaving your fishing boat business to follow some guy who just walked up to you and said, “Follow me” isn’t risk-taking, I don’t know what is. I see risk-taking as doing things for the Lord that end up becoming a testimony to God’s grace, power, forgiveness, love, etc. I am not sure that happens without stepping out of my comfort zone and taking a risk. NOT easy, for sure.

          2) I guess I see lukewarm as being the kind of church that Jesus would spit out of his mouth, hence “unhealthy,” hence the opposite of “healthy.”

          3) I actually agree with you here. Having seen my own church move away from vibrant to lukewarm, I guess I have some thoughts as to what mission activity might mean, but I do recognize furthering God’s kingdom comes about in many different ways, all of which are simply a matter of God’s “working” anyway.

          • Dropping nets and following Christ was the apostles’ calling, and that is vastly different from what most people are called to do. Jesus himself only lived that way for 2-3 years. If we read what the epistles say to people in local congregations, we find an entirely different vibe.

        • In some ways, This discussion echoes the later themes of Keith Green’s ministry. Keith would say that everyone needed to go to the mission field. When people asked him who would fund these missionaries, he essentially replied that the lukewarm, disobedient ones who stayed home at their regular vocations would be the ones to fund the obedient, on-fire Chrisitans.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            And we get Clericalism. God’s Speshul Superchristians (“obedient and on-fire”) and all the rest of us (“lukewarm and disobedient”).

            I’ll take Judaism over that. Jews place a lot of importance on just Living Your Life.

          • dumb ox says:

            Nice.

            No surprise here. Keith Green was a big fan of Charles Finney.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            The same Charles Finney credited with inventing or popularizing the Altar Call?

          • dumb ox says:

            The same Charles Finney who said that we have to earn our own righteousness and can’t depend soley upon Christ’s righteousness for our justification before God. I think most of this “radical” Christian rhetoric can be traced back to Finney. It’s puzzling if the Young, Restless, and Reformed are truly the ones pushing this stuff, considering how anti-Calvinistic Finney was (to the point of extreme Pelegianism).

          • dumb ox says:

            If the YRR are pushing this teaching, then they represent not a rediscovery of Calvinism, but a revisionist Calvinism.

      • I suppose one could just as easily ask:

        1) How many in the congregation have fled there from churches that they had served in faithfully for years after being told to essentially ‘change or get out of the way because we are going to be RELEVANT now’.

        2) What does it mean to further God’s kingdom? Is my 75 year old father furthering God’s kingdom when he still volunteers with about a gazillion charitable agencies doing painting, scrubbing floors, helping with paperwork, etc.? Are the behind the scenes helpers no longer wanted? What would get a pass from you?

        3) Is the church with the hip band and the seekers rotating through on a weekly/monthly basis healthy? Lukewarm? Does noise and hype = on fire?

        4) Are our young people any more risk taking or risk averse than the elderly? Really?

        Can we really judge one generation as better than/ worse than another without a sound definition to measure by? A definition that I don’t believe Chan has given us.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          1) I am part of a church that has seen just the opposite, a congregation of 400 and full of kids to one that is 200 and 85% 50+ years of age with a youth department I can count on my fingers, sometimes only one hand. (which would suggest that between the two of our experiences, there must be a beautiful, Godly balance!)

          2) Certainly Chan’s message isn’t meant for the elderly who are serving and obedient to God out of their love for Him. Jesus’ issues with the Pharisees were intended for those Pharisees who were totally without a relationship with God. A Pharisee in right relationship with God certainly need not take offense at the seeming broad attack against “Pharisees.”

          3) that is the challenge, is it not, to examine for yourself if you are lukewarm or not, or if a church is lukewarm? I will not judge for or against loud or quiet music, as long as the music helps people who have come to worship the Lord worship the Lord.

          4) I don’t see it as an either/or. Chan’s message is intended for a specific demographic, the elderly. Yes, indeed, the same message could be re-written for different demographics…people of all ages, sexes, races, etc…all need to examine their walk for fruitfulness.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Rea:

          How does (1) differ from “Get on the RELEVANCE bus or get thrown under it!”?

          2). Simple:
          Pastor
          Missionary (preferably to Darkest Africa or North Korea)
          Pastor
          Missionary
          Pastor
          Missionary

          • Heh. Wonder if my dad gets a pass then since they spent about 10 years with missions in Africa. But as an accountant, not a missionary so maybe that doesn’t count. Which brings up another point…if we are all missions all the time, who’s getting the training to do accounting support (like my dad) or agricultural support (like my in-laws).

            AND, that kind of spins into another point…my parents had to leave Africa because they aged out of being qualified for overseas missions under that organization. I suspect that is not unheard of for a lot of organizations.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Which brings up another point…if we are all missions all the time, who’s getting the training to do accounting support (like my dad) or agricultural support (like my in-laws).

            The Heathens (TM) and Lukewarm Apostates (TM) of course.

            op cit the Keith Green reference somewhere in this thread.

  20. Adrienne says:

    The church for too long has lifted up BUSYNESS as a proof of one’s spirituality. You know, “Jesus is coming soon. Look busy.” As much as we claim we are saved by grace not works we totally deny that with our schedules. The busier the holier. “Better to burn out than to rust out.” Yes – I was sincerely told that when I was a new Christian. One wise woman, upon learning of my conversion, came up to me and said, “One word you need to learn right now. NO!”

    I nearly killed myself being busy for the Lord. Ruined my health. Stepped out of the “mega-church” culture and accepted Jesus invitation to come apart and rest awhile. Insanity.

    Please be careful Chaplin Mike. I worry about you.

  21. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    1. Francis Chan and “Wretched Urgency” discipleship.
    Been there, done that, been on the receiving end of more of it, got the scars to prove it.

    2. “Christian” bookstores: OF the world but not IN it.
    This is one of my own favorite rant subjects. I’ve been commenting a LOT on the Rachel Evans posting.

    3. Busy-ness is not OF the devil. It IS the devil.
    I assume you’re talking about “All Church, All the Time.” My job has been in continuous run-around-in-circles-screaming crisis mode for 15 years; it’s already killed my ability to write. Half of Starfleet sits just outside my cubicle all screaming “SAVE MY SHIP WESLEY!!!”; why would I want to take on even more?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      P.S. “Even children are busy now, scheduled down to the half-hour with classes and extracurricular activities. They come home at the end of the day as tired as grown-ups.”

      My sister-in-law tells me of constantly transporting her two kids from School to Homework to Soccer Practice to Music Lessons — to their personal Psychiatrists. What’s wrong with this picture?

      • I know someone who actually started seeing a therapist with her finacee BEFORE they got married because she said she wanted to head off the divorce that inevitably comes when one doesn’t have a therapist. I think it’s running 4 kids all over the place for all kinds of activities that creates the need for the therapist, not the state of relationships.

  22. Rick Ro. says:

    (I hope y’all don’t mind a little levity.)
    🙂

    • Rick Ro. says:

      (oops…it didn’t post my “levity,” which was,,,)

      “Rick Ro. begins beating himself up, realizing that for the past 2 hours all he’s done is read and respond to the Chan rants, and done nothing to further God’s kingdom.”

      • HA!!!!!! You are in big trouble. Big trouble.

      • Clay Crouch says:

        Shame on Rick Ro. He needs to be an on fire, risk taking, kingdom growing, sold out, net dropping, radical Christian (sorry, I have no idea how to add a smiley face).

  23. Richard McNeeley says:

    After reading the comments and listening to the video once again I think Pastor Chan falls for the fallacy that one must do more for God or you can never do enough for God. While sounding very pious and righteous, it doesn’t have a Biblical basis. God never calls us to do more for Him nor does He hold us accountable for not doing enough. Instead we are called to live out the life of Christ on this earth.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I grew up a kid genius in the First 1960s, with expectations of Utter Perfection due to the Post-Sputnik Zeitgeist about Kid Geniuses. Expected to know everything about everything without having to learn it; expected to master everything Perfectly the first time I ever attempted it. (Today I’d say “Expected to be Wesley Crusher or Doogie Houser”.)

      No matter how much I did, it was NEVER enough. (“Why can’t you do More? You’re a GENIUS!!!”)

      No matter how well I did, it was NEVER good enough. (“Why Couldn’t you Do Better? You’re a GENIUS!!!”)

      And all the above fallacy does is bring God into the picture and ramp it up to Cosmic Importance. Why would I want to go back to that? Why would I want to ramp up those voices constantly in my head (“Why Can’t you Do Better?”) to “God Saith” level?

  24. I think diving into great discussions about our faith is fine, but to use this video of Chan as the jump-in is just not right. He loves God, his heart shows it, and there’s just nothing wrong with this video. (I am a night manager at a retirement home, by the way).

    Grace and Peace, my Brothers and Sisters!
    Caleb

    Following Jesus Without Leaving the Church (Fall, 2013, Harvest House Publishers)

  25. Carl Jung : “Aging people should know that their lives are not mounting and unfolding but that an inexorable inner process forces the contraction of life. For a young person it is almost a sin—and certainly a danger—to be too much occupied with himself; but for the aging person it is a duty and a necessity to give serious attention to himself. “. Sanity. That all important preparation of the soul and the spirit resonates through, and fortifies, the younger members of the body through the mystical and unseen bond. The elderly must have time to peer into the unseen and extract the riches that will only be found at that stage of life. Inner development is what must be encouraged.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton : “With age come the inner, the higher life. Who would be forever young, to dwell always in externals.”

    • dumb ox says:

      For the millionth time, Bo Giertz’s “Hammer of God” comes to mind – particularly the scene of Johannes tormented on his death bed out of the terrors of impurities still in his heart. The cure was the gospel, not more self-reflection. As also stated many times before, Luther’s definition of sin is the self turned in upon itself (incurvatio in se ipsum).

      Jesus saves us from ourselves.

      • Where is Christ dwelling if you are a new creation? He is dwelling in the church or the bible or in space? He is dwelling in the Self. The two are inextricably woven like fused particles. “That they may be one even as you and I are one.” How is that? Just as He and the Father are one? The incorruptible seed that has been born within us is us. That is ENTIRELY the point. Where do we take the scalple and begin to divide the true self from the Christ , “who is our life”? “It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives within me.”. “Therefore, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh. I know you don’t want me to keep quoting the bible because you’ve read it but just one last one. An oldey but a goodey: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”. We’re ships passing in the night here. Do you honestly believe Jung, or I by quoting him, are telling anyone to become self absorbed? Come on Dumb Ox! How about a few credits to the account. How about listening a little deeper before quoting the company line.

  26. This may be just my bad mood showing, but Lifeway is really just a compromised, gimmicked out, hyped up sub-Christian principality that has nothing to do with the faith. All they do is fill a vital marketing niche, if they dried up and disappeared, some other Christless corporation would step in and fill the void by selling whatever they can to make money off gullible Christians. If microwave popcorn and 10w30 motor oil were the things Christians were convinced held the content of their faith, that’s what they would remorselessly sell.

    There’s nothing surprising here, except that not everyone gets this yet.

  27. UGH! Why do I do this to myself? I just watched it again, and I am horrified, appalled, enraged, you name it, and the Buddha forsaken, gawd awful theology Chan is blatantly promoting. John MacArthur would not approve. He’s about to meet God (because he’s getting so old, right?), and so now he wants to make sure he’s surrendered everything? Because if not, he isn’t going to get that “well done, good and faithful servant,” right? He’s not ready to face God if he’s got possessions hoarded up? When you’re about to see Jesus (as if you could see that coming) you somehow are supposed to live differently than if you knew you had time to spare? You dumb people buying your possessions you think you will enjoy, look at me and my life of letting go (…cause Chan NEVER exploited any church growth gimmicks). The elderly should give more of themselves to Jesus because the world has nothing left for them, as opposed to young people to whom the world offers everything? …so young people have less incentive to follow Christ, because the alternatives are actually more viable for them?

    Is it just me, or is this justification by works?

    • Richard McNeeley says:

      It’s not just you, this is performance based Christianity disguised as something pious, holy and righteous. The attitude conveyed is “I am better than you because I have given everything while you merely take up space”.
      When I retired I found that people younger than I (mostly those in their late 30’s and early 40″s) were jealous of my retirement. I wonder if Pastor Chan is having those feelings of wanting to retire, but not yet old enough or able.

      • If Chan keeps trembling into the microphone, exhorting the retired to do more for the Lord, in veiled pitches for funding, he may well be able to retire.

    • You’re a better man than I.

      I could barely get through it once. If he had pulled something like that in our congregation, someone would have hit him in the head with a Bible.

  28. “Can you say world-denying, dualistic, pietistic, and totally bereft of the Gospel?”

    I was surprised to see so much venom directed at Pietism (the 17th / 18th century Protestant movement which held mere church attendance / membership to be insufficient, calling Christians–as individuals, and in small groups–to a more intense inner spiritual life of prayer, repentance, and Bible study), especially since Evangelicalism has many of its roots in this movement. Perhaps you meant to write “pious”…?

    • “Pietistic” is sometimes used more generally to describe an approach to the faith that depends upon my piety and focuses on human works rather than divine grace.

  29. (1) Chan’s attitude toward elderly believers can just as easily apply to others who, for whatever reason, may not perform their kingdom work the way Chan believes they should, like introverts or the disabled. If salvation were really by clericalism or extroverted ministry, this INFP and her disabled husband would be in big trouble. Thankfully our salvation is in Christ alone, and the work we do for His kingdom – quiet and slow as it may be – we do out of love for Him and for people, not so as to be seen by men or to score points in heaven.

    (2) We haven’t a “Christian” bookstore within 20 miles of us, praise be to God.

    • Oh, don’t worry, he holds the same attitude towards introverts. After hearing a friend rave about how wonderful Crazy Love was I picked it up and leafed through it in the bookstore. I read through what he defines as a ‘lukewarm Christian’ and yep, it pretty much reads like a diatribe against those with a tendency towards introversion.

  30. I think y’all have been too kind to Chan about this video. I know it’s hard to see this for those who are fond of him, but here’s my quick and dirty summary.

    (1) It smacks of moralism

    (2) It smacks of pietism

    (3) It is condemnation by stealth (his soft velvety voice has the appearance of “caring” and “admonition” which I have no doubt was his intention, but the end result is “How To Make One Feel Crap About Themselves In Less Than 4 Min Without Shouting At Them”)

    (4) It is self-exalting. How else would you interpret the comment about “some of you buying stuff like you’re gonna enjoy them (the lady holding shopping bags)… and I’m thinking MAN, my life has been about letting go, letting go, letting go…”

    Well good for YOU, clearly we will never measure up to your high standards.

    I think he honestly believes what he says and tries his best to live by it, so in this sense I don’t think he is a hypocrite but sincerely misguided. The best thing that could happen to someone like him is to rediscover the gospel (a gospel 101 course of sorts)

    (John From Down Under)

    • And what’s with the image of a TV getting smashed to the ground? A hint of sorts that we’re not meant to watch TV exactly?

      Oh yeah…forgot about the “surrendering” bit. If I had a dollar for every time I heard this. Good luck with that I say, let us know if you get there and whether you have enough fuel left in the tank while trying!

      • I took the TV thing as Chan implying that the elderly just sit around and watch TV instead of serving the Lord as he thought they should.

        • Maybe a lot of us do.

          But so what? I could list 50 things that Mr. Chan should be doing…but that he isn’t. How would he compare to Mother Teresa? Or our Lord Himself?

          He’s nothing but a modern day Pharisee. Full of pride and wouldn’t know the gospel if it hit him in the face.

          God help the poor folks that have to listen to him on a regular basis.

    • dumb ox says:

      “It is condemnation by stealth”

      Very descriptive. It sounds like typical evangelical passive-aggressiveness.

    • JFDU,

      Please tell us what you really think! ;o) (Love the .perspicapacity.)

      T

  31. I was contemplating the Chan thing during a moment of boredom this evening. Is it possible he is working in the realm of the prophet? He is reminding the people that there are problems to be rectified and that we are called to be the rectifiers in the Name of Jesus – maybe? And maybe we are living in the realm of shepherds and teachers of our families and communities. We aren’t prophets, but can do with a listen to someone rattling our worlds to encourage us to remember God has a very large and somewhat messy world. Maybe?

    • dumb ox says:

      So Chan’s radical Christianity consists of running around getting paid to sound radical? I guess we now know why he’s retired at 44. Holy hypocritical hokum, Batman! That’s what we get for valuing appearance over substance. Yet another modern-day Elmer Gantry.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      +1
      That’s kinda my thinking, that Chan is just saying there is work still to be accomplished, and that there is no retirement age for serving the Lord.

      I’ve always thought that the best pastors and sermonists are the ones who can both convict AND encourage. If a person convicts without encouragement, then it comes across as “bashing.” (Upon reflection, even as a Chan apologist I can see that the video lacks encouragement backing the conviction.)

      The flip side is a person who encourages without any conviction, which to me is just feel-good pop psychology, turning a congregation into one that comes every Sunday for their weekly dose of feel-good, then leaves and does nothing that serves Christ the rest of the week. These are the people I think Chan is trying to convict, unfortunately without the encouragement.

  32. dumb ox says:

    Those sold out to the radical Christianity fad need to read Walter Marshall’s “Gospel Mystery of Sanctification” which was his message addressing Puritans whose “radical” Christianity had literally lead them to the brink of suicide.

    This is serious stuff. Paul’s exhortation in Galatians to those promoting circumcision to go castrate themselves comes to mind. If someone is convinced that becoming a “radical” Christian is such a great idea, go have fun. Drive yourself into a smoldering, despairing hole in the ground. Just leave the rest of us – especially the bruised reeds – alone. And don’t come crying to us when reality hits and you can’t live up to the impossible standard that you set for everyone else. But isn’t that the problem with legalist? If they make everyone else feel miserable, they have done their job and hypocritically don’t have live up to their own impossible standards. It seems Jesus had the same words with the Pharisees.

  33. the Francis Chan video has me thinking A LOT this week; especially considering he’s speaking at a youth conference I’ll be at next week.

    in my context, the people who need the spiritual spurring on or whatever it is he’s trying to do are people his age and a bit younger. the older folks are the one’s who give GENEROUSLY, abundantly, spontaneously. they are also the majority of our volunteers in our After School Program that serves the neediest children in our valley.

    now the “Soccer Moms”, that’s a different story. the article about “busyness” hits the nail on the head with these folks. and being surrounded by them makes the rest of us feel as though we need to be moving, moving, moving, and busy, busy, busy or our lives aren’t worth living.

    great conversation here as always!

  34. re: wretched urgency vs living normal life etc.

    So, what about the parable of the talents? (Matthew 15:14-30) How does one know one is not like the “wicked, lazy servant”? I can read that, get worried about myself, and then all the wretched urgency exhortations make a lot of sense. The thinking easily becomes “I must do more for Christ and be like the first 2 servants.”

    How do people guard against that way of thinking? (And are there limits to not thinking that way – is it ever the right way to go?)

    • Rick Ro. says:

      +1
      There is certainly plenty of scripture that suggests a self-assessment of “works” is periodically in order, if nothing else but to verify that one’s actions are backing up their rhetoric. There is also plenty of scripture to support the “grace is sufficient” camp. My guess is that all the Francis Chan bashers are in the latter camp, perhaps having been burned by people in the “works” camp.

      Oh, Lord, help us strike that glorious balance!

      • Matt Purdum says:

        There’s no balance to strike. We are saved by grace. How can that possibly “balance” with works that are filthy rags?

  35. That was loaded with law, directed at certain people.

    But he made sure that we knew he was living a godly life.

    There wasn’t an ounce of gospel in that message. Not an iota of gospel.

    Give up stuff? What about Mr. Chan? I highly doubt that he is homeless and living on the generosity of others.

    __

    When you don’t have the external Word and sacraments, then that is where you end up. Looking at yourself, and looking at others for assurance of your salvation.

    And this guy is a pastor.

    That is scary.

  36. The Chan video reminded me of a scene I hadn’t thought of in quite a while. It was a meeting at a church we used to go to that had quite a few differences between the elderly half of the church and the younger, hip, “relevant” half. Shortly after the senior pastor left for another church, the two younger pastors spoke at a meeting of the congregation and spent a huge amount of time exhorting the mostly elderly audience to “get mobilized” for Jesus. I still don’t know what they meant, other than whatever these saints were already doing wasn’t enough and somehow didn’t constitute being “mobilized.” It was just plain weird and clearly born of youth and inexperience. I don’t think they had clue how off-target and disrespectful it was.

    Anyway, I got this same sense from Chan’s video. Also, there is an underlying message of contempt for this world when the elderly, perhaps more than any of us, know of the rich fullness and beauty of God’s creation and lifelong relationships in the here and now, and how those things reflect God’s love and glory. Chan misses this, or doesn’t want to see it. It’s tragic.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Remember what Hip and Relevant would have meant, say 50 years ago? Ever seen Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In? GROOVY, MAN!

      And what 1950s Counterculture Hip & Relevant would have meant when Laugh-In was on the air, Eh, Daddy-O?

      Because NOTHING gets Old faster than Over-Relevance.
      Except Pretentious Over-Relevance.

  37. I think Chan gets one thing right. Now is the time for all of us to take “risk”–regardless of what age group we belong to.
    “Risk” is a relative term, especially for those of us who are members of a Family who’s Father OWNS IT ALL.

    About a quarter of our house church group are 50+. What I’m seeing is that it isn’t the 50+ group that avoids risk, but rather the 35 and under group. In my personal interactions

    North Americans in general are much too acquisitive; it’s been indoctrinated into us that “righteousness” in this consumer culture consist of unabated consumption. We’ve even been brainwashed into thinking that the epitome of “being responsible” is to amass a generous retirement account so we can continue to consume at the same rate in our “golden years” and to do that while at the same time we’re providing college funding for our over induldged brats.

    Other than that, Chan isn’t presenting the Gospel–that in Christ God is King and is setting things to rights in His Kingdom, which is the entire universe. We are called to participate in that fullness for our joy and His glory. That participation begins in the relative smallness of our lives by learning and exercising the power of Love rather than the worldly love of power.

    T

  38. Wow! Anyone of you guys who doesn’t get where Chan is coming from in that video or sermon and take it as a put down or an insult to a generation is absurd to me… I found the video as something to challenge people as they get older to not feel as if they have nothing to offer, and that their wisdom and what they can bring to the table for the body of Christ is needed…. And while the elderly in some of your churches may volunteer for things, as a guy who has worked with the elderly as a profession for the past ten years I can tell you this is a needed message and should resonate in anyone who has eyes to see the culture we live in…

    And honestly Chaplain Mike I couldn’t really completely gauge based on your words where you stand with these guys but I think it leaned more towards something negative than positive. (And I don’t mean this in any way as a knock) But to call Chan and guys like him “Radical” to me is the typical reversion to a cheap grace theology that our culture reeks of and for that I am glad that the Lord has and is raising up guys like Chan to speak with a prophetic voice into such poor theology of Grace and the Gospel of Jesus….

    • Sorry, I disagree…radically.

      • Michael says:

        Wow! Thanks for the specificity of what you disagree with….”radically”. You are certainly entitled to disagree with whatever you’d like to… The beautiful thing about the Bible however, is that while there are certainly grey areas in it, most of it is black & white with the Truths it presents…and whether or not someone disagrees with those truths….or even “radically” disagrees with them because it may not be what their itching ears want to hear doesn’t make them any less True…No matter how “radical” they may seem to the person disagreeing. Jesus said and did some radical things in the Scriptures, and called those who followed Him to do the same thing…and when you read the rest of the New Testament and early Church History…they did just that. So…one can “radically” disagree that the sky is blue or that the grass is green but that doesn’t change the truth. When it comes to “Biblical” (There’s that word again…pun intended) Truths and I see people trying to water them down or IMHO make the tough parts simple or easy when the true Christian life is anything but that, I like to leave them with this quote I am fond of: “Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.” ~ William Penn. Bless you dude!