Quick Hit: Things You Can’t Say Around Other Christians

Okay, so I’m a little late on this one but hey, it’s my blog and I get to these things when I can.  It seems that there has been a little discussion going around the blogosphere about things you can’t say in church or around other Christians.  Here are some examples:  Mark Byron, Josh Claybourn, Anne Jackson, and Alex Arnold.  Take a look at these and then come back here and let me know:  What is something you feel that you can’t say out loud in church, or in the company of other Christians?

Don’t worry, I won’t get up in church and blab these out.

I’ll give you a few to get you going:

–I’ve read the Pullman books and I actually think killing God would be a good idea.

–I think we should celebrate communion more often than just two or three times a year.

–I don’t listen to Christian music because I think the vast majority of it sucks.

–It won’t be the end of the world if Obama gets elected.

–I don’t believe that we need a spiritual justification for every little thing we do in life.

Recommendation: JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by James W. Douglass

Those of you who are interested in JFK might wish to check out this brief review by Dennis Hamm, a cousin who is a professor at Creighton University, of James Douglass’s new book JFK and the Unspeakable.

This is not just your run-of-the-mill JFK conspiracy book.  Instead, Douglass takes an entirely different tack by suggesting that the tragic events of November 22, 1963 were brought on by a little-known shift in JFK’s views on foreign policy during the last few months of his life.  Douglass brings out evidence to document that, in fact, JFK went from being a supporter of the Cold War to being strongly in favor of “complete and total disarmament”.  This shift angered several of JFK’s top military advisors; apparently some were so angry that they actually wanted him dead.

I won’t say any more about the book; Dennis Hamm has already written about it and he can tell you anything you want to know about it.  Read the review, and then get the book if you are interested.

Quick Hit: Willow Creek and Self-Feeders

For the benefit of those of you among our reading public who have been keeping tabs on this story, here is the latest:

Willow Creek did an extensive self-study last year, and they found that much of what they were doing in the way of church programs was not having the results that they were hoping for in terms of producing spiritually mature believers and disciples.  Basically, people were not growing spiritually, they were not happy with the church, and they were thinking of leaving.

In their recommendations, they came up with the idea that it should be the goal of the church to produce “Level 4 believers”.  (Don’t you just love the way we Americans love to quantify everything by putting numbers and levels on it?)  Well, they defined a “Level 4 believer” as someone who is a “self-feeder”–that is, someone who functions independently in terms of Scripture reading and devotional life and then comes back into the church to be involved, to serve, and to lead.

Now, Jesus uses the imagery of Himself as a shepherd feeding His sheep quite frequently in the Gospels.  To those of you who are familiar with this, the idea that the sheep are to be self-feeding sounds a little strange.

To some of you, this idea that mature Christian disciples are to be self-feeders is rife with the individualism which represents everything that is wrong with present-day American evangelicalism.  And yet, in order for the Christian believer to function, he or she must be sufficiently independent to evaluate things on his/her own and not be dependent on every word that comes out of the preacher’s mouth.

So which is it?  Is it an either/or situation?

No.  Like so many other things in Christianity, this is not either/or, it is both/and.

Believers need to be able to function independently.  It is not good to have believers who say “I need to have Pastor so-and-so’s books, sermons on MP3, etc…” to the point where that one preacher or teacher is the only influence they allow themselves to be exposed to.  There are many unfortunate examples of churches that take inordinate responsibility for believers’ spiritual growth, and for their lives as well, telling them what they can and cannot do, what decisions they can and cannot make, etc.  This is not good.

On the other hand, it is the church’s responsibility to provide spiritual nourishment to the believer.  Christianity is not an individual exercise; it was meant to be lived out in the context of a local community of believers which in turn is part of the larger community of believers who have served God faithfully down through the centuries.  We are commanded throughout Scripture to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as a church; we ignore this command at our own peril.

We need both.  We need for the church to take a primary role in our spiritual development.  Ephesians 4 describes the role of apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers in the church who watch over us as we develop into spiritual maturity.  In the context of the church community we are accountable to others and we use our own gifts for the benefit of others.  At the same time, we need believers who are not dependent on every word that comes out of their preacher’s mouth, but are able to go to Scripture on their own and evaluate things independently, and to challenge the church to see if they are really doing what the Bible says.

Sasquatch, Alien Abductions, and Other Such Things

A couple of years back I wrote a response to the movie The Da Vinci Code.  After the movie actually came out and proved to be one of the sorriest movies ever made, I believed that I had been snookered and I might as well write about Sasquatch, alien abductions, and other such things, and I promised that eventually at some point you would see writings on that subject, since I had been so foolish as to consider that sorry excuse for a film worthy of an intelligent response.

And now, here it is.  If I let this opportunity go by, then I won’t know what to say.

It seems that Bigfoot (also known as Sasquatch), has been found in the mountains of North Georgia.  Or maybe it wasn’t Bigfoot.  Maybe it was a person.  Or maybe it was a possum.  They’ve got the body, but they’re only letting their own approved scientists examine it.  Hmmm…are they afraid that somebody else will examine it and it will turn into something that is not Bigfoot?

Anyway, read the story; it’s all there.

Quick Hit: Joel Osteen

For those of you who have been living under a rock the last couple of weeks, let me bring you up to date on this story:  Joel Osteen’s wife is in court right now because she got into it with a flight attendant over a dirty seat.

I’ll let you read what Jared Wilson has to say about this.

Now I’ll let you read what Michael Spencer has to say.

If there are any of you out there who still believe that what Joel Osteen is preaching and representing has any connection whatsoever to Jesus Christ, I hope this disabuses you of that notion permanently and in spectacular fashion.

Come on, people.

I know I’m a guy.  I know Joel Osteen is very appealing to those of you who are of the opposite sex, and I know there is nothing I can say about him and no way I can say it that will not make me sound like the embittered guy over in the corner who’s eating sour grapes because he didn’t get a date to the prom.

And I don’t care.  I’m saying it anyway.  Take a look at what this guy is selling you, and compare it to everything that Jesus Christ is all about.  I think you’ll find that there is no comparison.  If you believe Joel Osteen, then as Christians we have the favor of God which makes us a privileged people, which means we get to take a pass on loving our neighbor, serving our neighbor, and other such things.  We have the favor of God, so they’re the ones who should be serving us and looking up to us.  But then you look at the Gospels and see how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and then made it clear that he expected them to do as he was doing.  See how Jesus associated himself with the lowest, the most despised and unworthy people of his day.  I think you’ll find that Osteen is just blowing smoke in your face.  If, after a serious reading of the Gospels, you can listen to the bullshit that Osteen is trying to sell you and still keep a straight face, then I commend you wholeheartedly; you have my undying respect and admiration.

Come on, people.