21 June 2007

I want you to want me

by Frank Turk



I was originally going to call this post "Cheap Trick", but this title strikes me as a little more clever. And it's because that's what underlies the cheap trick we are going to discuss today, so stick with me.

This is a reproduction of a $20:



For the federal agents reading, it's at a low enough resolution that nobody's going to make any passable copies of it, so call off the hounds. But it looks like a $20 thanks to my handy HP scanjet 3500c and photoshop, much like the pyro'd up $20 looks, well, like all the graphics around here look.

And everybody likes a $20 bill, right? I mean, nobody in his right mind, if he was walking down the street, and there was a $20 laying there, wouldn't stop and pick it up. And if you're a food service worker -- that is, part of the wait staff -- and you got a $20 for a tip, you'd be pretty jazzed up.

$20 is a decent piece of cash.

Now look at this:



It sort looks like a $20, doesn't it? I mean, you're expecting a cheap trick at this point, so right away you recognize that it's not really $20 but about 3/4th the right size and it has some design challenges on the short side. But if this was wedged under a plate at a restaurant, or maybe sticking out of a book at Barnes & Nobles, you'd think for a second that it was your lucky day. $20 just sitting there -- until you pulled it out.

See -- it went from being $20 to being a CHEAP TRICK is about 2.4 seconds, and maybe it's good for a laugh.

But what happens when somebody picks up that phony $20 and turns it over and finds this:



Or maybe they find a better presentation of the Gospel -- it has a decent tract on the back side of the phony front. What do you think the person receiving that piece of paper thinks of the Gospel then?

It seems to me that if the phony $20 was a disappointing prank when it was just a phony $20, it becomes something slightly more offensive when it turns out to be a ploy to get you to listen to some message.

You know: like sticking a picture of a sexy girl on a billboard to get you to read the name and address of your local casino or whatever.

Now, why bring it up? Am I afraid that there's about to be a rash of phony $20 tracts coming around the pike and you wary readers should be well-informed on what exactly they are doing?

Well, no.

What I am saying is this: if it is somewhat sophomoric and whatever the antithesis of "clever" is to trick people with phony money to read or hear the Gospel delivered, how much more of the same is it to trick people with a phony Jesus? It's one thing to want people to want to hear the Gospel -- and it's another thing entirely to make the Gospel into something it is not in order to get them to just pay attention.

Think about that. There's a book review which follows this logic, but TeamPyro is having a retreat next week and it's unlikely that the book review will happen before then. However, if I don't see you for a while, be with the Lord's people in the Lord's house on the Lord's day, and don't take any wooden nickels.






124 comments:

cslewis3147 said...

Frank-

Nice post...love the graphic, I hope to you guys at the Conference, I'll be coming up from Newport, AR with a pastor friend of mine from Cabot.

Matt said...

Frank,

I love analogies, and you are truly a master of them.

centuri0n said...

I can't believe I'm going to get to meet C.S. Lewis.

I love blogging ...

HeavyDluxe said...

Great post, as always. Now on to threadjack!!

Three of us traveled down to MD to attend a Sovereign Grace conference in April. We decided to play tourist with our Saturday after the conference was over, so we hitched the train into DC.

When you got off the metro at the Capitol mall, there was someone handing out maps of the attractions. We took one... Three steps later, we realized that it was actually a tract from Jews for Jesus. Ten steps later, we saw the trashcan where everyone was depositing them.

One of our group started musing about the ineffectiveness of tracts in today's world, the deception of handing them out like that, etc...

However, throughout the rest of the day we saw a person here or there (probably 40 in all) actually sitting and reading the thing through.

Not sure how effective it is, but thankfully God is gracious even to use our cheap tricks to save.

centuri0n said...

HeavyD:

The point of my post is not "tracts don't work" (my opinion is they don't, but that's me), but that deception is a lousy way to talk about truth.

Think about that: we are trying to tell people about the most precious thing in the universe, and the only truth whioch for man matters for more than 5 seconds, and to do that we spread the word with a 7-cent scrap of paper which is, on its face, a kind of spoof.

steve said...

Frank:

You made it very clear the point of your post was not that tracts don't work. But I agree wholeheartedly with your comment,"We are trying to tell people about the most precious thing in the universe...and to do that we spread the word with a 7-cent scrap of paper which is, on its face, a kind of spoof."

I worked in a restaurant for a year. These spoofs showed up on tables fairly regularly (many times with inadequate or no tips, by the way). Over time, the tracts created a cumulative negative impression of Christians among the non-Christian restaurant staffers. Those tracts made it a much greater challenge for the few of us who were Christians to witness via our life testimonies and words.

jsb said...

I may be anticipating further posts, but is any presentation of a "likable" Jesus ever adequate or even accurate? Is it ever "not phony"? Because isn't the doctrine of atonement the irremovable and unequivocal basis for any accurate presentation? Making, therefore, likability entirely the wrong focus?

Spurgeon: "In these days a direct attack is made upon the doctrine of the atonement. Men cannot bear substitution. They gnash their teeth at the thought of the Lamb of God bearing the sin of man. But we, who know by experience the preciousness of this truth, will proclaim it in defiance of them confidently and unceasingly. We will neither dilute it nor change it, nor fritter it away in any shape or fashion. It shall still be Christ, a positive substitute, bearing human guilt and suffering in the stead of men. We cannot, dare not, give it up, for it is our life, and despite every controversy we feel that “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure.”

donsands said...

"I can't believe I'm going to get to meet C.S. Lewis."

You crack me up.

This was a great post, and a lot to think about.

God truly does shape our hearts as we prayerfully consider good teachings, and discussions like the ones we have here at TeamPyro.
Thanks. Keep up the good work.

pfg blogmatron said...

Convicting thoughts. And what a contrast between the cslewis posting now and this one http://www.keepersofthefaith.com/BookReviews/BookReviewDisplay.asp?key=4 . A tad bit of an ironic round about example of today's Pyro post? kewl

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

Great post, Cent!

One of the worst phony feel good tricks of all is the "gospel" proclamation to "seekers" from the pulpits across America that God loves them and has a plan for their life.

Another cheap trick is a "ministry" our former church had (may still have) where they would go to a parking lot or gas station and hand out bottles of water or gas cards with the message attached to them that read, "This is given to you from XYZ Church, just to let you know that God loves you...NO STRINGS ATTACHED."

Talk about putting forth a phony Jesus with cheap tricks!!!

I don't know who said it first, but I think it is true...WHAT YOU WIN THEM WITH, IS WHAT YOU WIN THEM TO.

If you win them with a phony Jesus, you have saved them to a phony Jesus. In other words, they haven't been saved.

I seem to remember Jesus telling the Pharisees about them making their converts twice a child of hell as themselves...

Al said...

Down the street from me in the great town of Pace, FL one of our larger churches' VBS program is titled either "A Bugs Life With Jesus" or "A Bugs Life in Jesus" (two different signs up in town). Now, at least Jesus is mentioned up front here. But boy do we start folks young with the whole trick 'em into Heaven modus oporandi.
**** BREAK***
You won't believe this but someone just came up to me with a voucher for free tickets to the Pensacola Pelicans baseball game on Sunday. In very small print it says, "This coupon is good for the exchange of one free general admission ticke to the game and post game concert event, featuring Scott Dawson, Mandisa (of American Idol), Big Daddy Weave on a first come first serve…"

Scott Dawson is the founder of Safe at Home Minstries where we find this comforting quote:

Safe at Home is designed for the whole family! A ticket gets you in the park to enjoy a baseball game, then 12 minutes after the game you will see some of today's best-known Christian artists and personalities. There's even childrens characters ready to take pictures with kids!

Scott Dawson will present a message of hope and offer an opportunity for people to respond. Everyone who comes is sure to leave with a smile on their face because they had such a great time!


I hear Gollum in the background… "tricksy lights"

al sends

Travis said...

The $20 bill "tract" is a cheap-trick, and one that usually ticks people off rather than pointing them to Christ. Not all tracts can be lumped in that same pile.

Giving someone a good tract is obviously not a cheap trick. Purposefully deceiving someone with a fake $20 is just a bad move. Personally, I've never heard one story of someone repenting because John 3:16 was printed on the back of a phony $20. I have heard stories of tracts being used by God to draw them to Christ.

Connie said...

Oh my yes!! We've had these left on our windshield, in books at the library, etc. and our first reaction was disgust at such a shameless gimmick.

Your analogy is right on--cheap versions of the gospel and cheap versions of Jesus are of NO "value".

BTW, hope you and TeamPyro enjoy your time here in "God's Country" next week! :-)

centuri0n said...

Travis:

The point of my post is not "tracts don't work" (my opinion is they don't, but that's me), but that deception is a lousy way to talk about truth.

centuri0n said...

Connie:

Because I live in God's country (there's a billboard -- I'll take a picture with my new cell phone and post it here eventually), I'm just glad Dan and Phill will get to enjoy it with me.

Dan's never been to Tulsa. I told him that, except for all the Charismatics and casinos, it's the nicest big city I've ever been to.

That may be an exaggeration -- I really, really love visiting Boston. And I really liked Chicago. So it's in the top 3 anyway ...

David said...

Leaving the $20 behind to get to what I think your point is-

Now, obviously, it takes awhile to get to know the real Jesus, right? You have to read the gospels, take the time to absorb them. You have to read the epistles, and even Revelation.

I've been absorbing for, oh, around 40 years now. Still doing it. Haven't exhausted Him yet.

But if we're talking initial presentation, didn't Paul say something about resolving to know nothing among the Corinthians except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified? (I Cor. 2:2) (I'm getting the hang of making sure I provide all my prooftexts for the peanut gallery)

Jesus did plenty to ensure that His death was the way we remember Him and know Him. That's the offense of the cross (Gal 5:11).

All relationship with God starts with the cross.

That's the Jesus we preach.

centuri0n said...

What we need it more worship pastors who understand this. Even if they don't have a glamor shot for their avatar.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Frank,

I agree with your point totally. I just don't get something. Associating Jesus with something profane dumbs down Jesus. You would agree with that. Here's some fundamentalist prudery; at least you can chalk it up to that and you win the argument instantly---the fundamentalist prudery argument. God's Word is a fire---Pyromaniacs right? Fire speaks of purity, right? You stick a picture of a cartoon woman with bulging breasts pushing out of a skin tight outfit, associating herself with your theological essay.

Frank's Answers...either...
1. Lighten up, it's a joke.
2. Oh, you fundamentalists! Argghh!
3. Some other form of mockery and ridicule.

Read these: Romans 13:14; Colossians 3:5; 1 Peter 2:11, 12.

Enoch or Merrilee said...

Cent,
I like your post, but I am more interested in your comment "my opinion is [tracts] don't [work.]"
How sweeping do you intend this comment to be? In what ways do you feel they don't work? Is it related to how they are employed by believers, or are you commenting on the medium as a whole?
In the interest of full disclosure, I regularly use tracts as avenues for beginning onversations.
Pax,
Enoch

Paul said...

I find it amusing that you believe someones dissappointment could stop the Holy Spirit from penetrating ones heart. I will be sure to inform those people who were enlighted by the Holy Spirit through a gospel presentation on a fake currency that the beginnings of their walk with Christ were cheap and therefore had no real affect. I believe there are plenty of legitimate reasons to divide the body of Christ. Are we really going to make this one of them? Are we running out of real issues or are you under contract with HP and this was just a plug? I really enjoy Pyromaniacs and Pulpit, but come on...let's get serious!

Daniel said...

it's another thing entirely to make the Gospel into something it is not in order to get them to just pay attention.

I suspect they want people's money more than their attention in such cases. You seem to be describing what happens when the gospel becomes thehook one uses to recruit new money into one's organization. Since the genuine gospel calls men to holy living, and since avarice is not exactly holy, the real gospel tends to retard the My-biggest-Church-Building-Now! movement, and so the gospel must be altered in order to fill the pews with people who are committed to giving $$, while at the same time contented in their worldliness. Best to preach a Jesus who winks at sin, and a gospel that doesn't produce anyone who would question that.

But that is my opinion, and clearly I suffer from either pessimism or discernment.

SolaMeanie said...

ZING...BIFF...BAM...ZOWIE!!

Some might say this post "Hurts so good."

Seriously, I can agree with you, Frank. I remember my youth in the halcyon days of the Jesus movement, and little tracts like that seemed to be so clever -- a cool way to share the Gospel.

But age and hopefully increasing wisdom have shown me that such things aren't the best way to reach people, who will indeed often be more irritated at a cheap trick than they would be by simply reading a presentation of the Gospel.

centuri0n said...

Kent:

It is fundamentalist prudery (it's a cartoon, dude -- if cartoons of inhuman creatures cause you to sin, well, ...), it is a joke (and an example of what I'm talking about -- so a joke intended to teach), and I do dismiss you as a kook about 67% of the time.

Next.

centuri0n said...

Paul:

What was the point of my post? Can you summarize it in two sentences?

Doug said...

You are absolutely right! And in your graphic it wasn't even close to the gospel either because it didn't have the "sinner's prayer."

I think we should all go back to the good old-fashioned gospel and start handing out Chick Tracts.


P.S. - this is a joke, too...

centuri0n said...

Somehow people think this is about tracts. This is not about tracts.

This is about letting people believe in a phony Jesus in order to trick them into discipleship.

Doug said...

I get it Cent! I was just jumping on the tract bandwagon of everyone else.

The church, rather than presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ clearly, starts sports camps, coffee houses, "Christian" movies, etc. and try to back-door people with Jesus.

Tracts (most of them) are just another back-door approach. Sure, the Holy Spirit can use absolutely anything because God is sovereign. But that does not excuse our chicanery or laziness.

E.Stevenson said...

Cent,
Thank you for the response. I think we agree--the manner of evangelism is at the heart of the issue. Tracts are not necessary for evangelism, but they can be a useful tool in evangelism.
I realize this post is not about tracts, but you put out quite a sweeping comment on the effectiveness of tracts, and that without qualification. Sure, I might supply my own interpretation of your comment. But it seemed worthwhile to at least ask for clarification.
May I ask how your personal outreach across the road is going?
Enoch

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sewing said...

Cent: Amen!

Are you guys leaving us for a week? No!!!!!!!

farmboy said...

Paul observes: "I find it amusing that you believe someones dissappointment [someone's disappointment] could stop the Holy Spirit from penetrating ones [one's] heart."

I find it amusing, no, make that sad, that someone could read Mr. Turk's post and draw the above conclusion.

Mr. Turk is taking to task those that ultimately do not believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, those that ultimately believe that the acceptance of the gospel message depends on the cleverness of man in how he packages and delivers the gospel.

If one believes that God is sovereign in all things, including the reconciling of lost sinners to Himself, then one has the confidence and courage to present the gospel message frankly, fairly and honestly.

As matt notes, Mr. Turk made masterful use of the $20 bill analogy to make his more general point.

I know he's neo-orthodox and all, but the following quote from Karl Barth is relevant here: "The word of God is not for sale; and therefore has no need of shrewd salesmen. The word of God is not seeking patrons; therefore it refuses price cutting and bargaining; therefore it has no need of middlemen. The word of God does not compete with other commodities which are being offered to men on the bargain counter of life. It does not care to be sold at any price. It only desires to be its own genuine self, without being compelled to suffer alterations and modifications....It will, however, not stoop to overcome resistance with bargain counter methods. Promoters' success are sham victories; their crowded churches and the breathlessness of their audiences have nothing in common with the word of God."

In the end, one's understanding of God and His attributes critically determines how one approaches life and all it brings.

~Mark said...

Cool post. This is a point that's rankled me for years. It reminds me of a discussion I had with a friend which FINALLY broke through her admiration of Benny Hinn.

An excerpt:

"If I tell you that clouds are Pink and Blue polka-dotted and every now and then they come down to earth and roll around on the ground, am I actually telling you about clouds?"

"No."

"Then is he really talking about the real Jesus?"

"Hmmm... I guess not. Now I see what you meant."

centuri0n said...

Enoch:

Since you asked, it is going poorly. The one opportunity I took to try to see what I could do over there resulted in a lot of shaking heads and lack of interest.

They have, apparently, heard it all before. I'm pretty sure that's why my conscience is leaning on me about this.

:-(

Ava said...

Very good post. I love the graphic too. Maybe if Phil's picture were on the phony $20 tracts more would read them.

You made some very good points. It is the ends justify the means again. I have seen those fake $20 tracts in tablet form at a Christian book store. It is meant to deceive and get attention and it has throughout the years.

E.Stevenson said...

Cent,
Then let me be an encouragement to you. I recently moved from a relatively white-collar area to a decidedly blue-collar one. As I looked around, I did not see any points of contact with my neighbours--I didn't know how I could reach out. So I called my father (a pastor to a decidedly blue-collar congregation) and lamented my position. And he calmly told me to search out commonalities.
So I planted a garden. I began to learn how to work on my car. My wife and I played with our kids (and with them, the neighbours' kids), and, though we have not yet shared the gospel, we have come to know our neighbours, ask about interest in a Bible study, invited them to church (even as we are still looking for one) and VBS, and have through it all peppered our conversation with our love for God.
Doors appear to be opening. Now we pray for boldness to lovingly share the gospel, even before a Bible study, church attendance, or the vegetable harvest.
All without tracts.
God bless, and be not discouraged.
Enoch

erik raymond said...

Frank, props to you for the photoshop time you put in to make this point. And I think the point is a great one especially the connection to the billboards...

I like tracts a lot but this type of stuff (which i've seen) is frustrating.

Good motivation to pump out better tracts and maintain gospel fidelity.

thanks.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Reminds me of folks that share the Gospel with their waiter only to give him no tip at the end of the meal. Not cool.

centuri0n said...

Warhead:

That sounds like the voice of experience, dude. :-(

centuri0n said...

Point of order:

This comment by me was removed by Phil for salty language, and I plead ignorance and apologize to our British readers. The offending word has been changed and I will file this away for my own sanctification.
____________________________

Enoch:

I am confident that, anecdotally, we can find dozens of people who came to Christ thru a tract.

There are scads of tracts printed and handed out every year -- hundreds of thousands, millions, perhaps hundreds of millions.

If you divide the dozens by even the thousands, you get a percentage of efficiency way below useful.

My opinion is that a tract is a 2-penny depiction of the riches of the Gospel. If you can make that work, I say, "God bless you and your ministry". I have no idea how that's supposed to work.

However, let's not pretend that I'm saying, "so phooey on evangelism". What I'm saying is that our evangelism ought to be worth more to us than cheap tricks and slips of paper, and in that it should be received as woirth something valuable to the ones who receive it.

That's all I'm going to say because I know that without tracts, evangelicalism would come to a grinding halt. We can't have that.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

“Phooey” offends my southern American sensibilities. Phil, you need to reign in Franklin.

centuri0n said...

Warhead:

Dude. Don't make me go all calvinist on you.

CraigS said...

I can't believe only one person complained about the decal! Pyro readers are mellowing with age.

You said above that you don't think tracts work. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on this. I've recently been giving out tracts (with money) to beggers in the city.

I figure it's better than nothing...

5PointChristian said...

Cent...

I'm not sure I understand. You opined that "tracts don't work," and then qualified the opinion with a "but that's just me."

Well, tracts either "work" or they don't...your opinion notwithstanding.

Truth be told, you actually have no way of knowing if God used the message of a tract (of which many contain God's word, which--DOES--last time I checked--"work" in the salvation of souls) to save a particular person. You may be right, and tracts have never "worked" to bring anybody to Christ. I wouldn't want to go out on that precarious limb, "but that's just me (there, a more suitable context for that qualification)". Or you may be wrong, and God uses gospel tracts every day to bring people into His kingdom.

In any event, your proclamation that they "don't work" doesn't make any sense from any possible standpoint...well, unless you claim to be all-knowing (no offense, but we would both agree that's not the case).

Other than your li'l flight of logical fancy in the comments, your original post made the point well.

The graphic was, however, VERY tacky..."but that's just me (wow, I did it again)."

Regards,

- Shane

David said...

Apparently, your tracts analogy completely stole away from your intended point. Bummer. Because otherwise, you made a very good point.

Maybe because analogies are not very effective, and they only connect with a small percentage of people you hand them out to, you shouldn't use them.

I keep meaning to tell Jesus the same thing about parables.

Travis said...

Cent,

I understand that your post wasn't about tracts, I was just running with HeavyD's comment. I apologize if I unwittingly contributed to your post's comment thread being hijacked by a "tract" conversation.

DErifter said...

So it's not about tracts, then?

Matt said...

Okay, is it too late to try to salvage this thing?

As my pseudo-Mennonite friend David pointed out, people are seemingly having a difficult time discerning the difference between the actual point of Cent's post, and the analogy of tracts etc., he uses to illustrate his point.

Let's try to focus again.

Does anybody see any connection of Frank's post today to his post and subsequent conversation with Pastor Dan Kimball yesterday?

Or is it me who's misread this post?

Matt said...

I guess I haven't gone crazy. I just went back and looked at yesterday's meta (hadn't looked at it since yesterday evening).

Let me be as clear as I can:

Is it really an exercise in finding "common ground" when we discuss the biblical Jesus with someone who believes in a Ghandi Jesus?

If we try to use two radically different conceptions of Jesus as bridge-building with another person, are we being honest with the person we're talking to? Are we not tricking them into accepting the real Jesus when they think they're merely accepting the gentle Jesus that exists in their mind? Isn't this Jesus the fake $20 bill?

Sorry Frank, to be so linear with your beautiful analogy.

Sewing said...

Of course this has nothing to do with tracts. Obviously it's about Cent's antinomian dislike of wooden nickels, as summed up so clearly in his last sentence.

***

I got the analogy, but was too choked up over the looming absence of Phil, Frank, and Dan from the blogospher to muster up anything more than an "amen."

centuri0n said...

Matt --

Thank God somebody sees it that way.

You made my week.

Dan said...

Dan Kimball here once again..

Matt wrote:

"Is it really an exercise in finding "common ground" when we discuss the biblical Jesus with someone who believes in a Ghandi Jesus?

If we try to use two radically different conceptions of Jesus as bridge-building with another person, are we being honest with the person we're talking to? Are we not tricking them into accepting the real Jesus when they think they're merely accepting the gentle Jesus that exists in their mind? Isn't this Jesus the fake $20 bill?"


I hope that there is no misunderstanding about this as that is not at all what the premise of what I am talking about in the book is about. To infer so, is 100% inaccurate and missing the point of the whole book and not what I describe or practise. The point is that people are interested in what they think of Jesus and that is a starting point to then talk and engage in conversation about the biblical Jesus (I described on yesterday's blog comments what I specifically wrote about in regard to the biblical Jesus).

So it isn't leaving people I know thinking the Gandhi-Jesus is the biblical Jesus. I have never been in dialogue with someone I am talking about Jesus with and not talk about the difference between the biblical Jesus and what someone may think of as a pop-culture version of Jesus. So please don't assume that is the case (if that is what you are saying here).


I am trusting that when Frank wrote here in this post about the 20 dollar bill was not in any form hinting at yesterdays post about me as that is not whatsoever what I do or write about. That is why yesterday I posted what the book says about Jesus, so no one could begin thinking in that direction since I directly wrote otherwise.

bye again!

Phil Johnson said...

Sewing: "I got the analogy, but was too choked up over the looming absence of Phil, Frank, and Dan from the blogospher to muster up anything more than an 'amen.'"

Oh, we won't be absent from the blogosphere next week. We'll be liveblogging from beautiful downtown Owasso. Perhaps we'll make a foray over to Oral Roberts University and pass out some tracts there, then blog about it.

Sewing said...

Heh. You guys don't do anything by half measures. We'll all be looking forward to your liveblogging. Soli deo gloria!

Qjay said...

Hi there! I stumbled onto this blog and I think it's great - if only I could show you what some Christians are doing with the name 'pyromaniacs' in South Africa (they aren't burning things down, but the way they treat the Gospel, it wouldn't surprise me).

I think the main problem is preaching half a Gospel message. Jesus saves. From what? Why? You create more questions that you answer. You call the person to believe with no purpose. It is our utter depravity from God as the realization given by the Holy Spirit that reveals the need to be saved. Put that on a $20 bill.

What's worse is you use money tracts. While fun to pass out to people while you are there, I would never leave it lying around. If you can start a conversation then sure a money tract is fine. But to leave one lying around I think is the result of the sinful culture.

I live in SA, and poverty is quite rampant. Imagine you can't feed yourself and/or family, and you see 20 bucks (I'm referring to money in this way from now on - $20 and R20 aren't the same thing [$20 +-= R160 +-= 32 cans of coca cola]) laying there on the floor. What kind message does that send? An arrogant one! James 2:15 and 16 "If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,
(16) and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?"

We so often find ourselves in a comfortable place, blessed by God without bounds, and yet still find the time to complain or be complacent. I experienced this recently - I got the flu and was asking God: "Please heal me". Then one day I was talking to my boss (who had Cancer - praise the Lord she is better) and she was telling me of how her feet always feel like she is walking on hot coals and how she just aches all the time. Suddenly my stuffy nose doesn't bother me so much. We don't even begin to fathom what we have been given and then we think we are doing God's work by trying to 'bling' it up or remove ourselves from it (by leaving tracts behind).

I think those kinds of tracts lack the dignity and humility that must come when delivering the Gospel message. I will leave tracts lying around (when I'm leaving the area), but they are usually the 'Good Person' test - as long as it's both parts of the Gospel.

Sorry for the long winded comment. I really like what you people are doing. I hate certain tracts and this discussing added a new kind to the list.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Frank, first of all, I don't have it out for you. This isn't personal in that way. I do believe that you have influence.

Is your permiscuous cartoon pure, lovely, good report, or virtuous? Is it an example to believers in purity? Does it conform to the spirit of the age? Are you saying that as long as something is a cartoon, it can be as pornographic as anyone wants it?

You go off on a tract that looks like a $20 bill and you can't see the problem with that picture? This isn't about prudery, some excessive attention to decorum, as if this is a matter of taste. Purity would be a better word.

Any time I've disagreed with you, Frank, you've rarely dealt with me Scripturally. Most times is your standard name-calling ("kook") or some sort of wink-wink sarcasm. That ought to be tell-tale to you.

siminz said...

what do you think about the million dollar bill tracts from 'Way of the Master'?

theologybites.blogspot.com -> daily audio highlights from preachers!

Only Grace said...

Mr Turk,

I really appreciate this blog, but I do at times find some of the graphics unecessary. I agreed with the guy who made the comment about the 'cartoon'. The drawing is obviously based on a human and realistic enough to be a true-enough representation of the female anatomy. You were quite rude about it too; maybe my definition of 'kook'is offline but it not then I must also be 'insane' or 'foolish'. Please reconsider.

centuri0n said...

Pastor Dan:

The question is not do you believe in a false Jesus: it is whether those you are speaking to believe in a false Jesus -- and unequivocally, you said they did. Your book makes it clear that they do.

Before I say what I'm going to say next, let me say this: there's no question -- none -- that some of the points in your book are exactly right. In your intro, where you called the so-called pastors there "weaklings" -- spot-on. Your complaint about religious homophobia which includes useless rhetoric -- challenging in a wholly-good way, even if I think you spin too far the other way. The idea that the church lives in a bunker today -- and that's a sin -- is something I have personally blogged about repeatedly here and at my own blog. Your book has good things to say in some respects.

But then we get to the end of your book, and the first -- the first -- criticism of your book which you address is the concern that the Jesus these people like is not the Jesus of the Bible but a false Jesus. And to deal with that objection, you change the question. The objection, as you phrase it, is that "they hold only a pop culture version" of Jesus -- which you agree with -- and then white-wash.

How do you change the question? By dressing up what these people believe as somehow not quite wrong. For example, you make the proper insight that lost people today see Jesus as a figure like Gandhi or MLK -- but you see that as a right-minded way to see Jesus. That is exactly like thinking a tract on the back of a phony $20 is more valuable than a real $20 to a lost person.

And while I might be willing to buy all the components of your description of who your lost friends Jesus is (and good on you for having lost friends -- that in itself is a lightyear ahead of most Christians), when you say this:

[QUOTE]
... {they believe} he had some kind unique divine connection and knowledge which set him apart from other leaders.
[/QUOTE]

it seems to me that you are kidding yourself. Listen: I'm not a Cradle Christian. I didn't grow up in church. I was a soft atheist most of my life and a hard atheist for 10 years before God got His hands on me. I lived as one of those people, and among those people.

The Jesus they know is not unique in any way -- which is why they really don't care to do anything about Him or with Him. When Jesus seems unique to someone, they are willing to do more than merely admire Him.

My opinion is that this is worse today than it was 15 years ago when I was an enemy of God -- and that's not because I am bunkered down but because I have interacted with dozens (maybe a couple-hundred) of atheists and non-Christians. The idea that Jesus is unique would never occur to them -- and when it does, it repulses them.

The Jesus these people "like" is not the Jesus of the Gospel of Mark -- let alone the Jesus of the Gospel of John, or the book of Romans. It is the Jesus debunked by ABC News and Dan Brown; it is the Jesus they invented.

Now, let's be as fair as possible here -- because I'm pretty sure you're not leading a cult out there at Vintage Faith. Ultimately, at some place, it seems obvious to me that you turn the corner with these people from Jesus the Jewish Troublemaker and fraud -- you know: Jesus who married Mary Mag, Jesus who didn't die, Jesus who Paul lied about, which is the other side of the pop Jesus your book also glosses over -- to Jesus who, as you have already pointed out here at the blog, was born of a virgin, was the only son of the Father, was crucified for sin and raised from the dead. You must -- I've seen your sermon notes (thanks, btw).

But it seems to me that that transition is not described in your book, and that transition is far more meaningful than many of the suggestions you have made in your book.

For example, it seems to me that you don't really understand the doctrines of complimentarianism very well -- and in that, rather than understand them, you call for the church to scrap the implications of that doctrine which you admit you can't explain when it comes to church leadership. You can identify that wearing a "God hates Fags" t-shirt isn't evangelism, but somehow you miss that the root cause of this kind of behavior is missing the log in our own eye when it comes to premarital [heterosexual] sex -- that if the church was firm and consistent on all sin, it wouldn't come across as being somehow ridiculous as a moral advisor and preacher of the Law before being a preacher of Grace.

And for me, the big blind spot in your book is that while these people may "like" the Pop Jesus -- and you give that view of Jesus all the benefit of the doubt -- they "hate" a church which, frankly, is a figment of the cultural lens. That is, the church they hate is not a church I have ever personally been able to visit. Yes: there are lazy CEO pastors out there; yes, Fred Phelps is a real person (insofar as he is a person); yes: the church is often somewhat impersonal and acts like a sacred kid.

All churches are not like the ones you describe here -- I would go so far as to say that most churches are not like that. They have other problems which I think are worse -- like the idea that preaching hollow moral perfectionism and your best life now somehow offers people an alternative to what they already have. But these churches where the pastors are like John Lithgow in Footlooseand the people are like the Mormon missionaries in Millions -- you should tell me where one of those churches is, because I'd love to go visit it. I'd like to see it for myself.

There's no question the lost believe those churches exist: the question is whether that's a fair assessment of what our churches are like.

In that, I stand by the $20 analogy, Pastor Dan. I am a big fan of the Letter to Diognetus as a historical example of what the church ought to be, so I think your point that we have to be different churches than what these people see us as it critical. But when we talk to people about Jesus, we are not talking to them about a statesman, a philosopher, or a crackpot -- and when it's obvious that this Jesus is the Jesus they say they like, they need to be challenged on it -- in exactly the same way that our churches ought to challenge their stereotypes drawn from a hostile media and a hostile worldview.

If your point about what the church ought to be in that respect is right, then it goes double for their view of Jesus. If how we act as a church is somehow important, then the Jesus we are doing this stuff for is even more important -- and they should not just "like" Him, but love Him, the real thing.

I look forward to your response to this, and my thanks for your time. Your view on this subject is one which I think asks many of the right questions but forgets how to get to the right answers, and interacting with you on this should be informative to both sides of the question.

donsands said...

"There's no question the lost believe those churches exist: the question is whether that's a fair assessment of what our churches are like."

Thanks Frank. Very good thoughts.

centuri0n said...

BTW, Kent, you pick the subject and I'll give you 10 rounds over at D-Blog. If you want to find out about the scriptural problems with the way you see things, I'll be glad to spell that out for you. It will, however, require more than a Jack-Van-Impe list of scripture verses.

I'll even suggest a subject:

"The graphic at TeamPyro which Kent is on about violates the NT vision of Christian morality"

You e-mail me, and we'll open it up this weekend -- today even. As soon as I get to work.

centuri0n said...

I think tracts that look like money are a bad idea.

That's an opinion and not a precept from Scripture.

centuri0n said...

Kent:

It has never occurred to me that you "have it out for" me. That would require me to think that you're actually a person with evil motives. I think you mean well -- I just think you don't understand what you're doing. Hence: kook.

For the record, I know factually that the fictional character pictured in that graphic has never had any sort of physically-intimate encounter with anyone, real or imagined, in her entire existence.

There is a difference between "promiscuous" and "immodest". When you can tell me what that difference is, you can then try to discuss what you think you complaint is.

Connie said...

Cent: I think the reason I "got" your point is because the fake $20 Jesus is the "Jesus" I was raised with and my family still holds tenaciously to.

It is the Jesus my dear father recently died believing in, subsequently I have very little reason to believe he is enjoying eternity in the presence of our holy, just and loving God.

Just like the fake $20 gospel tract that is worthless and cheapens the message, the fake Jesus presented and embraced today is worthless and cheapens.

I have no argument with WELL-written (i.e. Biblically sound) tracts, but they must be used as a TOOL in the hands of the redeemed, not scattered about the country-side, restaurants, airport restrooms, car windshields, etc.

BTW, you're right about "...all the charismatics and casinos" in Tulsa. All I can say is "look what poor theology has done to a perfectly lovely city and people"

I hope TeamPyro DOES visit the ORU campus and hand out some tracts!!!! :-)

Connie said...

Oh yea, don't forget to visit the Rhema (Hagin ministry) campus and handout some tracts there!!

Dan said...

Hi Frank,

Thanks for your comments, but reading them leaves me confused.

You keep indicating that you know that I believe in a biblical Jesus, but you seem to stress I don't tell other people about Him and leave people with the false $20 bill version.

I would ask you to open the book and read the story of Molly whom left Hinduism for the biblical Jesus, not a pop-version or Hindu-version of Jesus. Or the story of the Wiccan who entirely left what she was doing and put faith in the biblical Jesus. Or the story of how I explained to Duggan that there is only one way to God, not many paths and used the graphic I put in the book which shows the exclusivity of Jesus. Or the diagram I put at the end of the book which shows that sin is a barrier between human beings and God and need a Savior to overcome that. In fact, the word "SIN" was huge in that diagram. I am confused how you can conclude and indicate that people are left only understanding a pop-culture of Jesus.


Again, the point of the book is reporting on what many people outside the church feel about what they know of Jesus and as I said it is a pop-culture version of Him for the most part. They describe some ugly things they observe or think, and as I stress, a lot are stereotypes that are untrue, but some are true.

In the early chapters setting up the thesis of the book, I gave the example of how the early church had things believed about them such as they were cannibals because people heard they drank blood and ate flesh. Or that they were incestual because married couples called each other brother and sister etc. So this is nothing new that Christians and the church have perceptions of them which aren't accurate.

The point of the book is that in our culture today, we need to be apologists in the context of relationships to clear up the misperceptions. I gave the examples like the people I just mentioned, whom by the convicting of the Spirit, in the context of relationships and trust that were built with believers have discussed sin, repentance, hell, the excusivity of Jesus for salvation - all types of things. I shared examples of how in our church we teach on hell, sin, repentance etc.


So, I am confused why you keep indicating people are left without moving them to understanding that the pop-culture of Jesus is not the biblical Jesus.

You also state:

"And for me, the big blind spot in your book is that while these people may "like" the Pop Jesus -- and you give that view of Jesus all the benefit of the doubt -- they "hate" a church which, frankly, is a figment of the cultural lens. That is, the church they hate is not a church I have ever personally been able to visit."


I would have to agree and disagreee. I agree as I state in the book that most of their impressions (but not all) is a stereotype formed by limited exposure to Christians, or the caricatures of Christians such as portrayed in Footloose movie as you mentioned. However, since most have not had a Christian friend to know any different, they form their impressions by movies, by street evangelists who hold up signs about hell with flames (which I am sure you have seen, at least here I see them often at concerts or in downtown areas). Or agressive evangelists who awkwardly walk up to strangers and hand out tracts (which are real because you showed one on this blog). So I disagree, because these are not figments of the imagination, they happen all around us and I know of some local churches of a particular type that sure have hints of the Footloose type of a pastor. If someone outside the church doesn't have a Christian friend to know any different, these are the primary impressions of Christians they are exposed to which in turn forms their impressions. I have listened to enough people and their stories to understand it is a very understandable conclusion that they make from these types of outside observations.


Or another example and putting it honestly for the point of making observations, if a non-Christian was to frequent this blog and read many of the comments, I would say that they could fairly conclude that an overall majority of the tone is generally sharp and overall negative about whatever it is you are pointing out (unless it is talking about Charles Spurgeon :) )

If someone was to scan the content of where most of the attention of what you write here about, it seems that it is often pointing out wrongs in other Christians, mocking people or "$20 bills that you don't agree with.

So if I was a non-Christian, and I didn't understand what you were trying to do here, I could pretty easily conclude that Christians are a highly critical bunch and sure like going after each other.


So looking in at us, from the outside it isn't too hard to see why people who aren't Christians conclude what they do about us.


But my hope is that we are used by God to be missionaries in our culture today, to live out and communicate the truth of the gospel - that the biblical Jesus will be talked about and taught and people will see the difference between the pop-culture Jesus and the biblical Jesus. The gospel is a stumbling block of course, but the Spirit is alive and does convict people to their need of a Savior, repentance and living a changed life by the power of the Spirit. It is a beautiful, adventurous thing to see.


I hope in your life you get to see this occur as God uses you with those he has placed in your life, and neighbors and people at your work who see the love, grace, hope, joy, peace, kindness the Spirit produces and as you spend time with friends outside of the church you intentionally befriend and regularly are praying for.

OK, thanks again for listening! (I am not responding to your complementarian comments, but I was on staff at a church for 15 years which holds a complimentarian view and am very familiar with the theological arguments for both perspectives.)

Peace in Jesus,

Dan

Jeff Wright said...

"Thanks for your comments, but reading them leaves me confused."

"I am confused how you can conclude and indicate that people are left only understanding a pop-culture of Jesus."

"So, I am confused why you keep indicating people are left without moving them to understanding that the pop-culture of Jesus is not the biblical Jesus."


You're not the only one who is confused by this. Its difficult to see how anyone can continue to come to this conclusion.

"The point of the book is that in our culture today, we need to be apologists in the context of relationships to clear up the misperceptions."

Your point seems very clear to me. And, I agree, we need to be apologists in the context of relationships in addition to some of the more impersonal things we do such as blogging. When you compare the two, apologetics in the context of relationships is much more effective & meaningful in my opinion.

"But my hope is that we are used by God to be missionaries in our culture today, to live out and communicate the truth of the gospel - that the biblical Jesus will be talked about and taught and people will see the difference between the pop-culture Jesus and the biblical Jesus. The gospel is a stumbling block of course, but the Spirit is alive and does convict people to their need of a Savior, repentance and living a changed life by the power of the Spirit. It is a beautiful, adventurous thing to see."

Amen. To live out and communicate the truth of the gospel, not just communicate.

Thanks for continuing to take the time to clarify these points, Dan. Your comments have been very helpful.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Frank,

Why avoid the issue with word games? You want me to discuss or define promiscuity. She is immodestly dressed, but even more than that---indiscriminate, loose, a cartoon that shows off something for everyone indiscriminately. I think you get it.

Several issues are at stake. 1) It is immodest. 2) It makes provision for the flesh. 3) It is a bad example in at least two ways: (a) How to dress or what is acceptable in dress, (b) What is acceptable to look at.

If you think the picture is fine, Frank, then I'm fine being a kook to you too.

IRS21112 said...

Cartoons can be equally as seductive as an actual photograph. Would it equally be "a joke" if a Christian had a "cartoon" of a particular private part or parts posted on their site to make a point?

I am surprised there are not more people voicing their concerns over the "cartoon" of the seductive and sexy vixen. It does not cause me to sin; however, I do see where it could cause others to fight fiercely their temptations. This is the last thing someone should have to encounter on a Christian blog. (Rom 14:13; I Cor 8:9)

Where is Dan Phillips when we need him? He is the one who blogged about how women should be chaste in their appearance only to have readers come here to see what? Cleavage, a bit of midriff and faux nipples. The overall picture exudes sex, seduction and pornography. I hope the reason Dan has not commented is because he is on vacation and has not had the chance. Phil Johnson has chosen to remain silent on the issue.

I thought this blog was all about the Glory of God. I would like to know how that graphic glorifies our Lord Jesus Christ.

Phil Johnson said...

Frank:

I get your point. But the Great Chiquita War last year convinced me this particular issue is one not worth fighting over. In the spirit of 1 Corinthians 8:12, I think we should generally defer to the brethren who seem to be stirred easily to lust by images that seem merely amusing to you and me. You might photoshop a pyro-T on Medusa before using her again in order to give Kent some peace of mind. And put a lone-ranger mask on her just in case the seductive look in her eyes proves too much of a stumbling-block for anyone.

I dunno. We put a burkha on Chiquita and that still didn't soothe some of the troubled hearts who had alread seen her in a pair of shorts. It's tough out there for a fundamentalist. We should do our best to help them.

bassicallymike said...

To Whom Ever Did The Art Rework!

ROFLOL

Looking forward to meeting ya'll next week! Should be a hoot!

Kent Brandenburg said...

Phil,

You purposefully don't even deal with the issue. You turn it into solely a stumbling block issue, and you ridicule those who bring it up. Do you think that is appropriate? Why not answer the point?

Is that the kind of discernment you guys have? As long as you don't lust after it, it is fine? Anyone who disagrees with you is a kook, has a problem with lust, or is in support of burkha-wearing for women? None of that is true. It reminds me of the smear the Clintons put on Ken Starr when he investigated the Monica Lewinsky scandal. This isn't about my peace of mind---it's about the image that I believe irs21112 above described perfectly.

Frank talks about spreading the "gospel" with a fake $20, and we are supposed to have the sophistication to see that point, yet Frank and you can't see how this is worse.

jen elslager said...

This is probably the most frightening comment I've ever made. I don't look forward to getting mocked.

I didn't find the medusa graphic appropriate either. And you can be reasonably sure that it didn't cause me to sin.

My concern is the fact that if there were an issue involving a weaker brother, what is gained from mocking him? Is that showing love for one another?

IRS21112 said...

It must be nice to be perfect, Phil. And nicer still to have a clear conscience when looking down your nose at those whom have not yet "arrived."

I was not aware that one must be a fundamentalist to view a seductive cartoon as inappropriate for a christian blog or that one must be a fundamentalist to struggle with issues of lust.

Thank you for removing the offensive "cartoon."

donsands said...

"So if I was a non-Christian, and I didn't understand what you were trying to do here, I could pretty easily conclude that Christians are a highly critical bunch and sure like going after each other." -Dan

That's sometimes what has to happen within the Church of Christ, when we are contending for the faith. I have had arguements with many brothers in the faith over the Scriptures, but we remain brothers in His grace.
The world can mock us, and they have. I may apologize for my fervor, but I never apologize for the truth. God Forbid.

I would say most of the posts and comments here are good discussions, with a lot of Biblical truth being discussed, and even argued.
There's also a lot of encouragement as well. The Christian can be edified from this blogsite. I have.

And there's some excellent humor from these three guys, I mean four guys.

The Church needs to be building one another up in the truth of God's Word. This will sanctify us for God's use. And the world will see a light on a hill shining. Teampyro does this.
Have they missed the boat sometimes? Who hasn't.
But for the overwhelming greater portion of the posts here, they are "spot on".

The Body of Christ is all about Christ. It's not all about the world, or people, as important as people are.
We're not be friends with the world. Scripture is clear.
And yet we certainly are to be salt and light in a dark and sinful generation, full of blasphemies and hate.
We are to make disciples, and teach them God's truth.
We do all this, so that, the name of Jesus Christ is magnified and glorified, and so that the Father is worshipped in Spirit and truth.

The Church is precious to Christ. He died for His Church, and He will never forsake us.
He will return to take us home one day, and those who mocked and scoffed will be judged, and that's a scary thing indeed.

Those who are Christ's are only Christ's because of Christ alone.

He died for us, and He sought us out, and He brought us into His marvelous light out of the same wicked and dark world we lived in and loved at one time.

I pray that Pastor Dan Kimball would continue to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that we all would really.
And that God would give us a painful hunger for His Word. Amen

Hayden said...

Kent, Iris,

OK GUYS your point has been made about the graphic! (I tend to lean to your side on this one, by the way) It has been made here on Pyromaniacs before. Can we get back to the topic at hand, or are we going to allow this to degenerate into finger pointing, and modesty issues? If you guys are so offended by what they do here at Pyromaniacs, why come here? You have a choice. Frequent other fine blogs (Sharper Iron, Al Mohler, etc)

Frank,

I really enjoyed your article and interaction with Dan Kimball. I have the same thoughts that you do on this topic. I think Dan seems like a nice guy, but I too think he "sneaks the sin issue" in the back door. Just my opinion.

Connie said...

Okay, you're killin' me with the new graphic!!!! I admit to having a somewhat twisted sense of humor, but I'm not sure which is worse, being offended or being utterly disgusted? :-)

WayneDawg said...

Siminz -

I think the Million Dollar Bill tracts that you are refering to from TWOTM are great, here's why.....

There is no such thing as a Million dollar bill. When I give them away (personally; person to person that is)it always brings a smile to someones face. They know it's not real so there is no dissapoinment over not getting real money. I always ask the Million dollar question; what do you think happens to someone after they die?

People think the Million dollar bill tracts are great and know there not real to begin with...a lot of folks I witnessed to have asked me for more before I leave.

It's a great icebreaker to use for witnessing.

farmboy said...

"I can't believe only one person complained about the decal! Pyro readers are mellowing with age."

craigs, you spoke too soon. When I read Mr. Turk's post I didn't even notice the cartoon character. In a complete reversal from my earlier years on the planet, I've trained myself to skip past the pictures and get to the important stuff, the words. After all, words mean things! Well, I must rush off.

centuri0n said...

In responding here to pastor Kimball, I'm putting the most rancorous part first to get it out of the way because it turns out that Pastor Kimball and I agree on a lot of things, as you will see below.

Let's get the part where something else happens out of the way first:

| ... Or another example and putting it
| honestly for the point of making
| observations, if a non-Christian was
| to frequent this blog and read many of
| the comments, I would say that they
| could fairly conclude that an overall
| majority of the tone is generally sharp
| and overall negative about whatever it
| is you are pointing out (unless it is
| talking about Charles Spurgeon :) )
|
| If someone was to scan the content of
| where most of the attention of what
| you write here about, it seems that it
| is often pointing out wrongs in other
| Christians, mocking people or "$20
| bills that you don't agree with.
|
| So if I was a non-Christian, and I
| didn't understand what you were
| trying to do here, I could pretty easily
| conclude that Christians are a highly
| critical bunch and sure like going
| after each other.
|
| So looking in at us, from the outside it
| isn't too hard to see why people who
| aren't Christians conclude what they
| do about us.

I have this sense of humor which is constantly active, and when I read things like this from a person who just published a whole book about why people hate the church I laugh a little. People hate the church because it's "organized religion" with a "political agenda", it's "judgmental and negative", it's dominated by males, homophobic, arrogant, and full of fundamentalists who take the Bible "literally", and because of my blogging – but not because Pastor Kimball wrote a book which is also critical of the church.

His criticisms are valid because ... well, because they come from people outside the church – he's just the scribe. People inside the church with criticisms are just part of the problem.

Apparently. Oh wait – and sarcasm is also part of the problem – as opposed to owning a Jesus bobblehead. No sarcasm in owning a Jesus bobblehead.

Because it is not a moral foible to voice dissent or criticism, I'm open to hear the criticisms Pastor Kimball is willing to make. I would appreciate if he would extend the same civility to me. The uncivil part comes in when we point a finger at the other guy for doing exactly what we are doing and saying he should stop so that we can continue.

| But my hope is that we are used by
| God to be missionaries in our culture
| today, to live out and communicate
| the truth of the gospel - that the
| biblical Jesus will be talked about and
| taught and people will see the
| difference between the pop-culture
| Jesus and the biblical Jesus. The
| gospel is a stumbling block of course,
| but the Spirit is alive and does convict
| people to their need of a Savior,
| repentance and living a changed life
| by the power of the Spirit. It is a
| beautiful, adventurous thing to see.

I agree. I whole-heartedly agree.

| I hope in your life you get to see this
| occur as God uses you with those he
| has placed in your life, and neighbors
| and people at your work who see the
| love, grace, hope, joy, peace, kindness
| the Spirit produces and as you spend
| time with friends outside of the
| church you intentionally befriend and
| regularly are praying for.

I thank you for that – in spite of our difference, I pray the same for you.

Now, if the worst of it can end with us praying for each other, how bad can the rest be? Let's take a look:

| Thanks for your comments, but
| reading them leaves me confused.

Let's see if that can be resolved. You have been extremely generous with your time so far, and I want to be fair to you even though we disagree on some things which are important.

| You keep indicating that you know
| that I believe in a biblical Jesus, but
| you seem to stress I don't tell other
| people about Him and leave people
| with the false $20 bill version.

This is important – maybe the most important thing going on in your book, so I want to make this as clear as possible.

[1] I am 100% confident that, in your church, when you talk about Jesus and preach about Jesus, you are preaching the God-sin-cross-faith paradigm which most of us orthodoxy-mavens would say covers the major and critical categories of the Gospel. So what is at issue here is –not- whether you are personally preaching orthodox doctrine in your church.

[2] However, a key premise of your book is that people who are not in church have a clear understanding of who Jesus is. That's the central response you have to objection 1, Pastor: these people like –Jesus-.

The problem is that they do not know Jesus. And I think I understand why you want to say what you say, but what you say is simply (and I'm choosing words carefully here) sleight of hand.

You want to juxtapose the ill-will a stereotype of the church produces in some people against the "friend of sinners" image of Christ – which, btw, is probably the first misrepresentation and stereotype of Jesus found in the NT. You're trying to say, as you said to the pastors at that "evangelism" conference – and rightly so – that you can't save people you never meet.

Amen to that.

But here's what you imply which is a mistake: somehow, if people like Jesus and hate the church, we have to change the church in order to fix their broken ideas about the whole thing.

Tony Campolo makes this mistake as well – he tells an anecdote about a conversation he had once with a professor at Harvard. The gist of that anecdote is that if you ask "the leader of the gay-lesbian task force, an ardent feminist, and an angry neo-Marxist African-American" if they like Jesus, they'd all say yes, but if you asked them if they like Christians, they'd all say "no". But the problem with the question is that the Jesus any of these people would say, "nice guy," about is that He's not the Jesus who lives.

All things being equal, I agree that having a very proper and systematic theology is a pile of rubbish if it results in building a bunker around Him and hoping He'll return soon because we don't know how much longer we can hold off these damned sinners. Jesus is not a bunker, and he doesn’t live in a bunker: He has been lifted up, and He's a bomb that blows up in a culture and takes people out – only rather than take them out of life and kill them, He takes them out of death and gives them a new life. And here's the kicker: He wants us – requires us – to take that to the culture. No question!

But in that, we are taking them to someplace. It's not a "Jesus in my heart" move: it's a "called to be saints together" move (cf. Paul's greeting to the Corinthians in 1 Cor 1). We are calling them to the church because that's where the believers go. And the church has a design given by God which it has followed to greater and lesser degrees through the millennia.

It's too bad, for example, that we are called to judge sin inside the church and proclaim the Law/Grace message of the Gospel to the lost – because that is itself not very charming, not very PR-savvy. It's foolishness in fact. But that's what the church is.

And to be sure, as I say below, it also has to be many other things, but not a portable spitting match looking for an eye. In that, when we start saying things like, "we have to drop the complimentarian aspects of our ecclesiology" (which you do in your book) or "we have to avoid telling people early that their sin separates them from God" (which you do in your book), you have subverted something essential to the church.

That's the phoney $20, Pastor. In the latter case, somehow you cross over; in the former case, you don't – you want the church to be something it's not. Maybe we can split the difference and call it a phony $10. :-)

| I would ask you to open the book and
| read the story of Molly whom left
| Hinduism for the biblical Jesus, not a
| pop-version or Hindu-version of
| Jesus. Or the story of the Wiccan who
| entirely left what she was doing and
| put faith in the biblical Jesus. Or the
| story of how I explained to Duggan
| that there is only one way to God, not
| many paths and used the graphic I put
| in the book which shows the
| exclusivity of Jesus. Or the diagram I
| put at the end of the book which
| shows that sin is a barrier between
| human beings and God and need a
| Savior to overcome that. In fact, the
| word "SIN" was huge in that diagram.
| I am confused how you can conclude
| and indicate that people are left only
| understanding a pop-culture of Jesus.

I didn’t comment on the diagram or any of the conversion stories: I am speaking directly to the premise that the lost people you say like Jesus know anything at all about Jesus. This is not about your church: this is about the premises of your book.

| Again, the point of the book is
| reporting on what many people
| outside the church feel about what
| they know of Jesus and as I said it is a
| pop-culture version of Him for the
| most part. They describe some ugly
| things they observe or think, and as I
| stress, a lot are stereotypes that are
| untrue, but some are true.

One of the most valid points of your book – one which I would agree with you about in a very sincere and brotherly way – is that there's a place where we have to earn our seat in the common conversation. While Paul was fortunate to have the Synagogues and the Aeropagus to visit and have an instant public forum where a robust method of public discussion was intended to take place, such venues today are only found in places like the blogosphere and a few college campuses. The opportunity to extemporize a monologue on the virtues of the Gospel in those legitimate ways are few and far between.

In that, in order to evangelize my neighbor "Rufus" and not "all the gentiles in Northwest Arkansas", I have to do something way more serious than wave my hands around and speak in a loud voice so the guy in the back row can hear me.

You and I probably won’t disagree on that. Paul, in fact, does not disagree with us:

{Titus 3} Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

But the truth is that Paul does not say, "do, and then figure out the doctrine." He says, "know the doctrines, and then act like they are true."

| In the early chapters setting up the
| thesis of the book, I gave the example
| of how the early church had things
| believed about them such as they
| were cannibals because people heard
| they drank blood and ate flesh. Or that
| they were incestual because married
| couples called each other brother and
| sister etc. So this is nothing new that
| Christians and the church have
| perceptions of them which aren't
| accurate.

This only amplifies the concern that we are adopting strategies based on mistakes other people have made. In the more important case, we think that people "like Jesus" when they don't even know Jesus; in the less-important (but still critical) case, we believe they "hate the church" when in fact they don't really know the church.

And from two wrongs, it seems to me your book wants us to agree with both to make a right.

| The point of the book is that in our
| culture today, we need to be
| apologists in the context of
| relationships to clear up the
| misperceptions. I gave the examples
| like the people I just mentioned,
| whom by the convicting of the Spirit,
| in the context of relationships and
| trust that were built with believers
| have discussed sin, repentance, hell,
| the excusivity of Jesus for salvation -
| all types of things. I shared examples
| of how in our church we teach on hell,
| sin, repentance etc.

Again, the question is not, "are your homiletics sufficiently compliant to some confessional rubic's cube." The question is, "do we model our church life based on what people who do not know us or our living God are willing to believe because of their own biases?"

| So, I am confused why you keep
| indicating people are left without
| moving them to understanding that
| the pop-culture of Jesus is not the
| biblical Jesus.

I hope I have cleared it up some.

| You also state:
|
| "And for me, the big blind spot in
| your book is that while these people
| may "like" the Pop Jesus -- and you
| give that view of Jesus all the benefit
| of the doubt -- they "hate" a church
| which, frankly, is a figment of the
| cultural lens. That is, the church they
| hate is not a church I have ever
| personally been able to visit."
|
| I would have to agree and disagree. I
| agree as I state in the book that most
| of their impressions (but not all) is a
| stereotype formed by limited
| exposure to Christians, or the
| caricatures of Christians such as
| portrayed in Footloose movie as you
| mentioned. However, since most have
| not had a Christian friend to know any
| different, they form their impressions
| by movies, by street evangelists who
| hold up signs about hell with flames
| (which I am sure you have seen, at
| least here I see them often at concerts
| or in downtown areas). Or agressive
| evangelists who awkwardly walk up
| to strangers and hand out tracts
| (which are real because you showed
| one on this blog). So I disagree,
| because these are not figments of the
| imagination, they happen all around
| us and I know of some local churches
| of a particular type that sure have
| hints of the Footloose type of a pastor.

I can agree with you that these people have a false understanding of things – in some cases, because of men like the ones you mention here who think they are doing something really, really good and in fact they are only spilling a shot of rubbing alcohol on a lit match.

What I cannot agree with is that this is the basis for revamping ecclesiology or what represents the Gospel.

However, here's an olive branch: as I mentioned above, I think there's a really powerful point to be made in that most Christians today do not have non-Christian friends, and that in having no unbelieving friends they don't really have a place to talk seriously about the problem that lost people go to hell. It's really not about some public moral code we are trying to sell everyone: it's about making sure they don't follow their appetites into the lake of fire.

But to talk to someone about that in a way which they will not see as a spiritual telemarketing call – that is, unwelcome, unwanted, annoying and right in the middle of supper – we need to be more to them than an annoying voice on the phone.

| If someone outside the church doesn't
| have a Christian friend to know any
| different, these are the primary
| impressions of Christians they are
| exposed to which in turn forms their
| impressions. I have listened to enough
| people and their stories to understand
| it is a very understandable conclusion
| that they make from these types of
| outside observations.

I agree. We do not disagree about this. Often we, the church, are victims of our own fears and apathy.

This is where the part I put up front came in, ending with this:

| OK, thanks again for listening! (I am
| not responding to your
| complementarian comments, but I
| was on staff at a church for 15 years
| which holds a complimentarian view
| and am very familiar with the
| theological arguments for both
| perspectives.)

We can save that for another time. If you are familiar with the view and why it applies to the way the church is run, that information was lacking in your book. That is, what is reflected in your book is how you feel about this subject, not what Scripture says about this subject.

Thank –you- for being willing to do this. I'm sure it's not easy to take criticism from strangers, or to defend yourself in the comments of a blog. However, you have done far better than most in keeping the rails on the track for the bulk of this conversation so far.

Dan said...

Hi Don Sands,

You said earlier that in your entire life time you have never had any non-Christian come to faith as a result of your sharing or influence in their lives (non-family members).

As a brother in Jesus, I love you but I am seriously wondering how that doesn't deeply disturb you? (or maybe it does, but you didn't indicate that i what you wrote. It felt more like it's just that you expect to be hated since you are a Christian by non-christians). Blogs are hard to know a person through, so forgive me I am wrong, it seemed to read that way.

In wondering why you haven't seen any fruit, have you thought about why? Could it be your communication skills? Is it your personal approach to evangelism that you use with people? Is it that you don't hang out with non-Christians to be able to have them trust you and have normal dialogue to where they see something different in you (the light of Jesus and you are salt and light) that they are attracted to know more? I know everyone does not have the gift of evangelism, but surely after a lifetime there should be some evidence of fruit and influence in the lives of non-believers to where the Spirit then draws them to repentance and trusting in Jesus.

Your response of saying that they will hate you because you follow Jesus, sure seems to be able to be used as kind of an excuse (in my opinion) to use Jesus' words and say people will hate us, so therefore no response from non-believers is only to be expected.


You said we aren't to be friends with "the world" which I agree as the "world" is the philosophical system which goes against God and the gospel. But, I am talking about people who are created in the image of God and were like you and me, before we knew the saving grace of Jesus. I believe in a hell and that people will experience eternity apart from God - and I cannot sleep at night saying "they will hate us, so of course they won't listen to me or respond" therefore I won't try too much or pray for them too much.

In my life, I know I want to do anything possible for people to hear about the gospel and the biblical Jesus. It may mean breaking out of the Christian bubble (it has to mean that) to be able to be like a missionary would do in a different culture.

I would love, love, love to hear what your week looks like in how you make time and effort to be going to lunch, going golfing, whatever it is you do with those who aren't part of the church. What list of names you are praying for of those who have not trusted in Jesus. What tears have you shed for those who haven't experienced the saving grace of God. What eyes do you look into hearing why they don't believe (yet) and you get to over time be talking to them and be an apologist (not just using apologetics to other Christians like normally happens). That would help me understand the context from when you say there is no response from non-believers in your life.


How much time do you (we) spend on blogs writing comments back and forth to other believers to where we could have spent that time going to lunch and getting to know a non-believer who lives near us, is new in our workplace,or place ourselves intentionally in places to build friendships with those outside the church?

Maybe you are doing all these things, so please, please forgive me if I am incorrect. I sincerely mean no judgment, I am asking questions based on what you are saying to me.

The Spirit was given to us (Acts 1:8) so we would be witnesses in the world. That means we have to be in the world, but not of it (John 17) and that we have to be in relationships with those in the world, so they can taste and see that the Lord is good, so that they can see, taste and experience the "salt" we are to be to them and the "light" we are to be to them. Or else, they only know from the television movies, and the agressive street evangelists and tracts handed to them etc.

Hayden-

when you say:

"I think Dan seems like a nice guy, but I too think he "sneaks the sin issue" in the back door. Just my opinion."


If you were to ever come to our church, we talk about sin all the time, we have times of repentance on our knees, we by no means ever "sneak" sin in. In regards to my relationships with non-believers, we discuss why I believe things are "sin" or "non-biblical" all the time. But because they trust me, we can dig deeply into discussion and i never hide anything in terms of "sin" from them. So I can very strongly say, that your opinion isn't true, if you were to hang out with me or come to our church and see what we practise and teach in our church.


thank you Don for praying for me, and I also pray for you:

"Lord, may Don's life be used as salt and light in a powerful way as he lives out the gospel in the world around him and people are drawn to the salt and light of Jesus in Don. May his and my heart break for those who do not yet know Jesus and are facing an eternity apart from Him, and may we be used by You in any way possible to be able to express the truths of who Jesus is and the gospel to them, in Your timing and by Your power. May we be faithful to take time, energy, prayer and risk in how we going about our weekly lives in being witnesses to those around us for the gospel of Jesus."

Dan


12:59 PM, June 22, 2007

centuri0n said...

Kent:

Second offer to publicly, scripturally and definitively deal with your problem here.

If you pass, then your opportunity to moralize has passed. Don't berate Phil, who did exactly what you wanted done -- come and make your point.
________________________

Phil:

I submit to your pastoral wisdom. You're better and more savvy at dealing with this kind of conflict than I am.

Dan said...

hi Frank,

thanks for taking the time to respond in depth. i really, really, appreciate it.

i would say that i think we are in understanding of one another. the one point i would make is that i don't suggest we change the church. the only way i think you can conclude i say that, is to say that if a church is complementarian to make sure they are not going against their beliefs in Scripture, but to make sure they honor and put females in visible roles to have balance in the church. I didn't suggest they become pastors or elders if one's viewpoint is complementarian. I don't want to get sidetracked on that issue....

so i am not suggesting we change our church, i am however suggesting we change how we train people in our churches to be apologists and know the misperceptions today that people have so we can adequately respond and answer them. that is what i am suggesting. also that we emphasize the need for evangelism again, in the context of trusted relationships as it seems so many churches have become inward focused, don't see hardly any conversion growth, and people who know the Bible aren't doing what jesus said and be the salt and light in the world, they are only amongstone another most of the time relationally. So that means so many don't meet Christians and trust them enough to hear about the differences of the biblical Jesus and the pop-culture one.

OK, i have dominated quite a bit of these past two blog entries, so I will cease now and I have said about all I can.

I just want to make clear:

- i am not suggesting we don't tell them about the real biblical Jesus. But I suggest we use their interest in Jesus to then talk about the biblical Jesus. Not tell them, the pop-Jesus is the real one.

- i do not hide or make light of sin or are afraid to directly challenge someone's beliefs who isn't a christian. i do however, find the greatest fruit comes from the SPirit working when people trust us enough to them listen and we listen to them and in our culture today, this is important as we have to break stereotypes often, before people will listen to us. But that takes time, relationship, listening, and a lot of prayer. I am trying to urge Christians who are in the Christian inward Bubble to have their hearts broken about those who haven't yet trusted in Jesus, and make the evangelistic effort to be in a place to share the gospel with others (and when sharing the gospel, of course you talk about what sin is).


Thank you all on the blog for the comments and the way this has gone this time. Last time it got somewhat ugly, and I hope the Lord is pleased with this discussion. We may not agree on certain methods of evangelism, but I hope we agree that we should be passionate about sharing the gospel to "those who like Jesus, but not the church" and praying for them.

thank you so much for the discussion and may we unite on furthering the gospel of Jesus in a crazy, post-Christian world of confusion.

Thank you frank, Dan, and Phil for allowing me to be part of this discussion. I look forward to when we perhaps can meet in person one day.


Dan

Kent Brandenburg said...

Frank,

You and Phil keep throwing out baseless accusations. Do you think that is dealing with things Scripturally? I am not "moralizing." That graphic was wrong. I gave three Scriptural reasons why. You or Phil didn't answer any of them. Phil says that pictures like that are "amusing" to you and him. You eagerly offer them for public consumption. I understand everything you are saying. He that abides in Him ought to walk as He walked.

I can be happy you took the pictures down, but I'm not happy about: (1) the ridicule, (2) the avoiding of the real issue to throw up your strawman issues, and (3) either the lack of penitence (pride) or discernment (whichever one it is).

I understand you loud and clear, Frank.

flatlander said...

My wife, who is not a Christian, works in the food service industry. If someone left this type of tip it really make her mad. These people have a hard job and deal with difficult people all night and to have a real $20 spot under the plate would be a big deal. They probably pick up the money in the middle of a rush to get the table clean. Image the disappointment and the words they say when they see the message on the back. How about showing them the love of Christ when they mess up our order or when they spill Coke on us!

donsands said...

"Blogs are hard to know a person through, so forgive me I am wrong, it seemed to read that way."

I forgive you.

You're partly right, and partly wrong.

There's so much to respond to.

I'll keep it short.

First thanks for the prayer. I mean that with all my heart.

I do have a burden for the lost. It's not as Paul's, who wished he could be accursed for his brethern. I wish it was. I have always prayed that it would be.

I also pray that I would have a passion for the Gospel as Paul.
He prayed that if anyone, even himself would ever pervert the Gospel, that they would be accursed.

I don't have this passion either, though I pray for it.

I depend on the Lord to save a soul. If He is depending on me, then no one will become a Christian.

Do I weep for the lost? Yes I do.

I have my own business of supplying aluminum gutters & spouts to many of the Builders here in MD.
I have many opportunities to share my faith through my business. I have longed to be a godly loving light for the Lord.
But if He never uses me to save His lost sheep, then I will hope that I have been faithful to share the Gospel in all it's purity.
Do I fail the Lord? Yes.
Some times I come on too strong. And sometimes I'm a coward.

The #1 thing for me is Christ.
It's all about Christ.
Jesus is my Lord and Savior, and I want to serve Him, and bring glory to His name.
Whether He saves someone, or not, I want to honor His name, and His Cross.

It's all about Christ for me, it's not about people, as important as they are to Christ.

God bless you Dan.

Thanks again for the challenge. I will continue to listen to the Word as it's preached and taught, and try not to listen to man's wisdom, which can be a snare from Satan.
Satn wants to have people as close as he can get them to looking like Christains, but keeping them from becoming born again.
He is a master at deception.

But the Word when it spoken in love is God's power to salvation.

donsands said...

Believe it or not that was a short version of what I wanted to respond to.

Rhett said...

God used Chick tracts to save me. (of all things!!! LOL!!)

I was an atheist in high school, but I read those tracts nearly everyday of my sophmore year because some dude was handing them out across the street. It took a few years, but the seed those tracts sewed took root and God gave the increase about 9 years ago.

Spurgeon said tracts are "silent preachers" and that he never left home without some good tracts.

One statistic I read says over 57% of Christians were saved by means of tracts...

I can see how the $20 bill could make a waiter mad, but I have used some of the million dollar bills that Living Waters prints and they are usually accepted with a smile or a giggle.

Because of the levity that's created, I find it to be a good ice breaker to help bring up more serious spiritual matters...

Phil Johnson said...

For whoever asked:

I'm in favor of tract ministry. A tract advertising a Jack van Impe Crusade (back when he still preached the gospel) figured in my salvation.

I'm not opposed to tracts that look like money--only wary of the way they are sometimes misused. The WOTM money tracts are money, if you know what I mean.

But let's be careful how we use them.

farmboy said...

I know Mr. Turk's post wasn't about tracts, but since so many have gone there: Bo Pilgrim, founder of Pilgrim's Pride, a poultry company, took a different approach to the $20 tracts. He placed a real, genuine $20 inside tracts. The idea being that this would increase the likelihood that the person would be favorably disposed to carefully, thoughtfully read the tract. During this period in his life, Mr. Pilgrim was of greater financial means than most of us, but his approach is still interesting. Mr. Pilgrim discussed this approach in a
School of Business chapel at an evangelical Christian college in east Texas.

centuri0n said...

Kent:

Keep changing your issues and eventually you'll get a base hit.

You have your third opportunity to answer the question of that picture with Scripture and offer some defense of your view. Third offer. If you just want to pon=tificate and offer baseless accusations, maybe you should have a blog of your own to do that at.

Or you could defend the thesis I offered -- or offer one you'd feel better defending.

See: if it turns out that your view of the problem is wrong, all the rest (like being hurt for being ridiculed) falls apart.

Last chance. If you don't take me up, it's your problem.

donsands said...

"But let's be careful how we use them."

Amen.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I recognize that your images are used to illustrate a point; however, showing the cartoon picture was sinful Why? I'll give you two. I believe there are more. 1) You showed something that was pornographic---showing a pornographic picture, drawn or photographic, is sinful (Lev. 18:7-19; Ps. 101:3). Look at Job's means by which he remained righteous in his relationship with God in Job 31:1. He wouldn't even look. It's one thing to see it in everyday life, but it is an entirely different thing to represent God's Word and then show it to everyone publically to see. That one thing is enough, Frank, but.... 2) You made provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14).

I don't agree that it is stumbling block issue and an offense to a weak conscience in the sense of 1 Corinthians 8. None of us have liberty to sin (Rom. 6:1). Paul said they did have liberty to eat meat offered unto idols (1 Cor. 8:8). Eating the meat was solely a stumbling-block issue, one that later Christ strongly reproved to two of the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. Any sin, however, is a bad example to believers and something that could cause a little one to stumble.

Consider these two verses, Frank.
Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."

Frank, did that picture violate those two verses?

Jason said...

Frank,
If we are not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh why would you put something in the post that would cause someone to stumble (in ref. to Rom 13:14)

It also talks about loving your neighbor as yourself v. 8,9,10. Would you put something in front of yourself that may tempt you?

Col 3:5 Mortify (kill?) these things: fornication, uncleanness etc. If you put images like this before other christians, they may stumble and in turn may sin. So, would you be casting a stumbling block before them?

1 Peter 2:11,12
Abstain from fleshly lusts may mean things pertaining to being honest when dealing with the unsaved so they have nothing evil to say of us(obeying laws and those God has put in authority over us v.13,14 and fearing God Himself v.17). This may not be something that should be included in Kent's rebuttal but, I don't think God's grace includes posting pictures like this.

Job 31:1
I made a covenant with mine eyes, why then should I look upon a maid. 2 for what portion of God is there from above and what inheritance of the Almighty from on high? 3 Is not destruction to the wicked and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?
Interesting that verses 2 and 3 would follow a verse about looking at and thinking upon a maid. If such a man as Job would not look upon a maid then shouldn't men like us not look upon or post a picture such as the one you posted Frank?

From what I understand, looking upon the nakedness of another grown adult, not our wife/husband, is sinful. Is she naked? No. But the clothing doesn't hide much.

I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. Psalm 101:3 Is the picture "wicked"? I think it (picture) represents something of the world which is not of God so therefore I think it is wicked.

Would anyone here encourage there female family members to wear something like this or post pictures of them wearing this? If yes, why? If not, why? Frank, I hope you answer this.

Something was said to the effect that this was just a cartoon picture of an inhuman thing (don't remember who said it). Please, don't insult us.

Frank, I don't think there is a specific bible verse that says not to post a picture like this, but please give me a biblical reason why you should post this picture.
I'm sure you can explain a point without showing pictures like this (and replacing it with something not meant to be edifying)?

If anyone cannot discern that the picture should not have been posted, please examine yourselves and the scriptures, hopefully you will understand the "spirit" of the scriptures and glorify God by by understanding it is wrong.

Jason

centuri0n said...

Alrighty then: since Kent won't do this is a place where it is easier to get questions asked and answered, I'll address his very bible-ornate concern here.

I have three or four passages of scripture I'd like to present as evidence of something with which I think Kent (and now Jason) cannot know what to do.

[1] Gal 5:12
[NASB] I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.
[NIV] As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
[HCSB] I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated!
[ESV] I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!
{What exactly is Paul saying to cut off?}

[2] Isaiah 64:6
[NASB] For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
[NIV] ll of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
[ESV] We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
{Consider particularly the word which our translators have here called "filthy rags"}

[3] Phil 3:8
[ESV, NASB is close] Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
[HCSB] More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ
{What kind of filth is this -- that is, it is a filth which is like what?}

[4] From Hosea 2:
[ESV]2"Plead with your mother, plead--
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband--
that she put away her whoring from her face,
and her adultery from between her breasts;
3lest I strip her naked
and make her as in the day she was born,
and make her like a wilderness,
and make her like a parched land,
and kill her with thirst.
4Upon her children also I will have no mercy,
because they are children of whoredom.
5For their mother has played the whore;
she who conceived them has acted shamefully.

The point of these examples is not to say my blogging is inspired -- far from it, and heaven forbid I ever say such a thing. The point is to demonstrate that Scripture itself uses extraordinarily-clear word pictures to say what it means -- even if some with genteel sensibilities would rather it didn't.

So if Israel can be called a whore who has shared her breasts, and if sin can be called menstrual rags, and Paul can wish for the Judaizers to cut off their, um, covenant-sign-bearing members, and Paul also can compare his earthly riches to trash which belongs in the same pile as animal excrement, then we have the example of how to communicate with people.

And in that example, maybe we should think about how little spiritual fortitude we have when it comes to calling a spade a spade.

If this is the language and pattern the Bible uses to represent sin in order to disgrace it, maybe we should actually read our Bibles and follow its example. I represented a point in a wholly-biblical manner and provided a thoroughly-tame example of the type.

The question to answer is, "does the example follow the type of Scripture in positioning criticism?" You can say, "NO", but to make it more than a word you'll have to explain why these 4 examples (and I have more if you need them -- these were the first 4 to occur to me) do not demonstrate a type of critical language in the Bible.

If the type is not found in Scripture, then you all must be right -- and using a cartoon of a woman in a swim suit is wrong. If the type is found in Scripture, then you're going to have to explain why you are the ones who cannot abide what it shows us to do.

Have at it. Your lectures about morality fall pretty flat when you have missed the point almost completely of the example you are criticizing.
__________

And for the record:

Kook. Notice the synonym on that page. I stand by the characterization that someone who claims the Bible is inerrant and our only infallible rule but then cannot actually follow its example or comprehend what it teaches us -- but wants to accuse others of the infractions of said Bible -- is this type exactly.

I'm loaded for the rest of the weekend with baseball and yard work. If I don't get back to you before Monday, consider it your opportunity to study even harder.

centuri0n said...

For the record, the Bible never specifically commands us to post pictures of gold-skinned aliens in purple swimsuits for the sake of making criticisms about tracts printed to look like money.

It also never mentions driving cars, so please reconcile those two things. My conscience is pretty clear on both issues.

centuri0n said...

Oh brother ...

No, I don't have omniscient access to the influence of tracts on the world or the hearts of men. It's my opinion that they reflect a cheap view of the Gospel in method. That is, somehow this precious thing which God has done is only worth 7 cents to this person who wants to tell "me" (the person receiving the tract) all about it.

I have already quantified that: divide the number of people converted by tracts every year by the number of tracts printed every year, and the efficiency of such a thing get demonstrated pretty well.

If you use tracts, and in using them you are bringing people the Gospel and into discipleship, I say "wow. Great for you!" I just think that handing someone a piece of paper which is worth less than the price of a stick of gum doesn't say much about the value of the message.

As to the statistic that more than 50% of all Christians were saved by tracts, I'd love to see the source of that. I could be wrong, but given that most people who are "saved" are baptized before the age of 15, I find it hard to believe that most of those are saved by tracts.

I could be wrong about this. It's funny that I can take heat for providing a provisional opinion -- one which I admit is wholly-fallible.

donsands said...

"The point is to demonstrate that Scripture itself uses extraordinarily-clear word pictures to say what it means -- even if some with genteel sensibilities would rather it didn't.'

Good point.

The verse that hit me was our own righteousness is filthy rags before the Lord.
I need to be reminded of this daily. And reminded of our perfect Lord, who lived a perfect righteous life for us.

Jesus never said a wrong word. Astounding to ponder isn't it.
He never had an evil thought. Incredible.
And He gives this righteousness to us. More incredible!

Jason said...

Frank,
Driving a car and posting a semi-nude picture are two different things.

God did not have the scriptures written with graphic how-to illustrations/pictures. So your reasoning is invalid. Critical language does not equal posting graphic pictures.

If we are not to view one's nakedness why is it ok to post pictures of it? (Without telling me it's to make a point)

And if our lectures on morality fall flat then why won't you answer this question:
Would you post pictures of your female family members dressed like this? Why or why not?

Sorry for the back and forth answers.

And Frank you're quite the gadfly yourself.

Don,
Are you alluding to sinless perfection?

Would you also answer the question about female family members.

Thank you all for your time.

IRS21112 said...

Great points and questions, Jason.

"God did not have the scriptures written with graphic how-to illustrations/pictures. So your reasoning is invalid. Critical language does not equal posting graphic pictures."

Those thoughts crossed my mind as well.

I think Frank said it best, "The point of these examples is not to say my blogging is inspired -- far from it, and heaven forbid I ever say such a thing."

Your point, Frank, also makes all the difference. God's words are inspired. Your "cartoons" are not.

I have an idea. Phil! Why not suggest to Dr. John McArthur he put the original graphic/cartoon in question on the paperback edition of his new book The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception and get rid of that boring old snake? Ya think he'd go for that? I wonder why he didn't put a similar graphic (as the one in question) on it in the first place. Afterall, it would actually be way more appealing and help to make his point in a much more forceful manner. Ya think?!

You know he would never do that becuase it would be highly inappropriate.

IRS21112 said...

I am still waiting on Dan Phillips to weigh in on this subject. Yoohoo! Daaaan!

donsands said...

"Don,
Are you alluding to sinless perfection?"

No.

I'm simply saying that our own righteousness is filthy before God. And the only righteous deeds that God is pleased in is His Son's.

And when God saves us, and forgives us our sin, He also imputes His Son's righteousness to us.

As far as obedience, and living holy lives here on earth, we can only do this by faith in Christ. And It's His grace and grace alone that works in us to cause us to live seperated lives unto the Lord.

God gets all the glory, we receive none.

So I'm very opposed to perfectionism.
I believe we live by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and our faith is counted as righteousness to us, nothing we do.

The female question; I'm not sure what you mean.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Frank,

A lot of false teaching and application comes out of someone's attempts to use the Bible to justify his bad behavior. To start, however, you've posted the picture of the vixen before in other contexts, which mutes most of your attempts at self-justification. Even in this context you are stretching Scriptural examples way beyond any even reasonable application. Like Jen Elslager above ("This is probably the most frightening comment I've ever made. I don't look forward to getting mocked."), you don't get confronted because people are too afraid to get mocked and ridiculed, essentially bullied, by you and Phil. You choose not to deal with the point I'm making, but instead smear me as a person instead—this is judgmentalism, by the way. You've done this to me so far (and personally I don't care, so don't turn it into my being hurt; I'm not, but I'm surprised if readers would not take note of it):
1) Called me a kook, which in your own definition says "insane...eccentric...screwball." This coming from a guy (you Frank) who uses secular, often tawdry comics to illustrate his Biblical points.
2) Exacerbated that by writing concerning me, "cannot actually follow its [the Bible's] example or comprehend what it teaches us." Oh really? How can you jump to that conclusion from my confrontation of one picture? You got out the broad brush rather quickly, Frank.
3) Accused me of "moralizing," which is absolutely not the case. You know that theologically that moralizing contradicts preaching the Gospel, so your accusation is against the true view of the gospel and sanctification that I have taught and followed my whole adult life.
4) Phil judges my motives by saying that I am without "peace of mind" because I am "stirred easily to lust by images that seem merely amusing to [Frank] and me." Then Phil went on to several sentences of sarcastic mockery. What it does say is that you guys are "amused" by pictures that IRS21112 fittingly described as: "Cleavage, a bit of midriff and faux nipples. The overall picture exudes sex, seduction and pornography."
5) You say we missed the point you were illustrating. We didn't miss the point, Frank. The first thing I said was, "good point." I essentially agreed with the point of the blog.

In one of my kookier moments, Frank, I've looked at Douglas Wilson's The Serrated Edge, but as serrated as Scripture gets in pointing out evil and error, it does not show immodest pictures of women to make a point. It also prohibits you from doing so. You can go as far as you want with any of the passages you used or so desire, allusions to a botched circumcision, etc., and you still can't justify showing a picture so before described. Your Scriptural examples use critical language, to answer your question, but I would hope that you could understand along with us "kooks" that this is obviously different than showing images or pictures. Maybe it takes a little "kookiness" to understand that. Think about this Frank, you argue that we shouldn't use a billboard of a naked woman to get people's attention to spread the good news. Of course, that's correct. You are essentially making your own argument, kooky as it may seem. Why? Because it's wrong to show that kind of picture. It's wrong to show that kind of picture.

Can you hold me to this, Frank? Make sure that I never jump to conclusions about you as a person, about your ministry, you or your family, based on isolated comments that you might make. Make sure that I get to know you a little better first. I don't think I've done that, but please help me not to judge you like that, Frank. And know what else? Please do that for me too. OK? God isn't going to judge us based on how many hits we get on our blog site.

Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.

Rhett said...

Centurion said:

"As to the statistic that more than 50% of all Christians were saved by tracts, I'd love to see the source of that."

Rhett says:

Sorry, I was wrong above... The stat was actually 53% worldwide and by the means of "printed gospel literature" which, perhaps, may be more than just tracts.

This was according to Joey Hancock of the American Tract Society as quoted on p.198 of the WOTM School of Biblical Evangelism Textbook.


Cent said:

"divide the number of people converted by tracts every year by the number of tracts printed every year, and the efficiency of such a thing get demonstrated pretty well."

Rhett replies:

I read dozen and dozens of tracts over a period of several years prior to being converted... IMHO, the "tract to convert ratio" isn't really what mattered, rather it was that the seed of the Gospel was being sewn in the heart of a young person (ME) who would not go to church and had no Christian influences in his life at the time.

I'm just thankful for that man who stood across the street and handed out those tracts!

I do, however, appreciate your perspective and try not to do more harm than good in the future! :)

Rhett Kelley

Sewing said...

Praise the Lord, Rhett, that the tracts eventually took with you.

I was so far away from the gospel for such a long time—even when I was going to a liberal church and believing in that Gandhi-like Jesus—that I just tore tracts up whenever I received them.

IRS21112 said...

Kent, all your posts on this subject have been excellent. Your statement is worth repeating:

"Think about this Frank, you argue that we shouldn't use a billboard of a naked woman to get people's attention to spread the good news. Of course, that's correct. You are essentially making your own argument, kooky as it may seem. Why? Because it's wrong to show that kind of picture. It's wrong to show that kind of picture."

Frank is flat out wrong on this one and he should bite the bullet and admit it. We would all have more respect for him if he would admit it.

Hayden said...

Kent,

Let me say that I tend to agree with you on this one. BUT I understand Frank's response as well. I have read this and the previous blog since its inception and have noticed that you come across in blogging as someone who is "out to set the others straight". I realize that I cannot see your heart which is why I said "come across". (Which means that this is my observation)

The photo has been removed and many who are now reading these comments have no idea what you are talking about. If you want to interact with Frank I think you should do it via email. Did you do that before you blogged?

I understand that Frank has not "come to your way of seeing things" but realize as this drones on you both look foolish. Kent, you come across as the caricature of a 'fighting fundy'.

Besides the offensive graphic, what did you think of the article? Was Frank's point made well, or did Dan Kimball have some valid points?

I hope you can see where I am coming from, and I am not at all trying to impugn your character. If I have offended you, I am sorry. Just one humble servant of the Lord to another. May we have zeal as we both serve Him. (Think of Mark 14:3-9 and the way Mary interacted with the Lord)

Kent Brandenburg said...

Haydn,

I can't quite get how you lean towards me, yet see his point. This one doesn't quite cut like that, where one gets to feel strongly both ways. However, I guess we can both be happy that we (Frank and I) both come off like fools in your opinion. We should be thankful for small favors. And exactly how do I come across as a fool? So I can keep from repeating that, and, well, be more like you, which would be, I guess, hovering in the non-foolish middle somewhere. And then I don't get to be just a fighting fundy (which I'm not) IYO, but I do get to be a caricature of one. And you are what, Haydn? How do you categorize yourself? Of course, finally when it is all said and done, you are not trying to impugn my character. OK. You have a large hammer in one hand and a slender metal tool in another, but you aren't trying to chisel?

Regarding his point. I've said twice that I agreed with his overall point. Did you catch that? :) :) I too believe that certain tracts that drag through popular culture don't rightly represent the Savior.

centuri0n said...

Kent:

Having ignored my argument -- dismissed it without any substantiation -- you continue to berate me for your non-point.

You get the last word. I would prefer that, in the future, you simply e-mail my pastor when you think I've become an apostate pornographer and whatever else you think I've done wrong. You can find his e-mail at habc.net.

Thank you and God bless you.

centuri0n said...

Jason:

Semi-nude?

Dude -- your imagination is a lot more vivid than mine. You also get the last word. Please e-mail my pastor with future complaints. See my note to Kent for contact info.

centuri0n said...

For the record, I doubt Dr. MacArthur would use the graphic. For 3 reasons:

[1] I am certain he never reads comic books.

[2] I am certain he finds them low-brow and secular.

[3] I am certain he would never compare a poorly-conceived tract with a liquor ad or a casino billboard. It wouldn't cross his mind.

I think it is likely he would also object to pictures of women in bathing suits -- whether they are in a sexually-provocative pose or not. Why? Because of the issue of modesty. Having written vigorously on this topic myself here at TeamPyro, the question is not, "Do I understand what modesty is?" The question is if an inhuman caricature used as an example of casino advertising has somehow violated the standard of modesty.

Parody, apparently, is a lost art.

I'll take the week off and let Phil (and Darlene) and Dan work me over for this one.

Jason said...

Hi Don,
Thank you for explaining (I did not want to assume anything by your comment).On the obedience part of your post: shouldn't we reprove acts that are ungodly, whether the person knows they are wrong or not-whether God has brought them there or not?

From your posts it seems that you are agreeing with Frank, and some others,about posting the picture and I just wanted to know whether you, Frank and Phil would post pictures of your female family members dressed the way the cartoon was dressed. And why or why not. If you don't agree with Phil or Frank then no need to answer and I apologize for making the assumption.

By the way hayden, the picture may not be on this post but it is still(?) on Frank's personal blog to which he gave a link and a challenge to Kent.

Phil said,
"It's tough out there for a fundamentalist. We should do our best to help them."

So does this mean you and Frank are "emerging"? I'm confused, I thought "fundamentalists" believed and followed the "fundamentals" of Christianity It seems like you are using the term in a way that those of the emerging church and the world do when they are accused of sinful acts by "fundamentalists".

It seems that most of the rebuttals to those of us that have objected to the cartoon have an "emerging" air about them and I want to ask this of you. I am not an expert on the emerging church and their methods but this sounds a lot like most of the things I have read about them.

Frank, I apologize for calling you a "gadfly", I did it only because you called Kent one. It was out of line and childish.

Kent-irs21112,
Thank you for the good points.

Kent said,
"Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath."

I needed that.

Thanks again everyone for your time, Jason

donsands said...

"would post pictures of your female family members dressed the way the cartoon was dressed."

To be honest i didn't even notice the picture.

But I agree with Franks comments on the Scriptures that he quoted.

Jason, what do you think of Franks comment concerning Scripture, when it speaks with vivid words about the female body?
You may have to back a few comments to find that one, if you decide to read it over and respond to it.

donsands said...

I meant, "You may have to go back"

Sorry about that cheif.

Matt said...

Guys, this thread has gone down so many rabbit trails that I don't know if it's still salvageable, so let's just give it a rest.

I, too, thought the choice of graphic was, ahem, interesting. That said, I fully appreciate where Frank is coming from, and from the abuse he took from THE OTHER SIDE of this issue a few months ago, I think it's safe to say that yes, Frank does believe in modesty.

Now, however, this thread has lost its purpose and has devolved into polemic and ad hominem attacks at one another. Let's just leave it alone, prayerfully and thoughtfully worship Jesus with songs and teaching/learning this morning, and start fresh again tomorrow (or today if we get a dose of Spurgeon for the weekend).

In Him,
Matt

Hayden said...

Kent,

Thank you for your humble and gentle rebuke. Thank you brother.

Hayden

Jason said...

Hi Don,
If you reread my posts you'll find the answer (at least I thought I responded to the verses).

This is my last post, take care everyone.

To His glory
Jason

donsands said...

"God did not have the scriptures written with graphic how-to illustrations/pictures. So your reasoning is invalid. Critical language does not equal posting graphic pictures."

Sorry Jason, I missed this.

I think it's a weak response however.
There's no engagement to the hard sayings of God word.

Personally, these verses, and others, such as those from the "Song of Solomon", make me feel awkward. And that's a good awkwardness.
That's what Frank was doing, I believe.

M.W. Brewer said...

Amen.

WayneDawg said...

Phil said: 'The WOTM money tracts are money, if you know what I mean.'

I'm not sure what you mean....

Jason said...

Don (and everyone else),
Please forgive me for posting after I said I would not.

donsands said,
"To be honest i didn't even notice the picture."

Then how can you agree with it.

Go over to slice and see the post "Movie Pastor responds". Ingrid comments on the Song of Solomon.

I don't think my response is weak to the verses Frank mentioned.

Since Ingrid and Jim from Old Truth have direct links to this site,I will ask them what they think about this.

Old Truth is how I found out about this site and if Frank, Phil whoever starts the posts here are insistant that this type of thing is ok to post then I would hope they remove the Pyromaniacs link from their sites.

Frank said,
"Phil:

I submit to your pastoral wisdom. You're better and more savvy at dealing with this kind of conflict than I am.

2:18 PM, June 22, 2007"

I am assuming Phil is your pastor by this comment so I won't bother emailing him.

Daryl said...

I've been watching and reading this post with interest. I gotta tell you, to those who are harping on Frank (and by extension all the Pyro's) a verse for you:

When I was a child I spoke like a child..."

For all you Holy Spirit's out there, when you can't tell the difference between sin and bad judgement (and I'm NOT saying he showed bab judgement) then you have a serious problem. To identify something as sin just because you wouldn't do it is the same thinking that makes alcohol, dancing and movies wrong.

Please, Puh-leeze, learn how to say things like "Well I wouldn't have done it but Frank will be Frank"

By the way, I would never have noticed the graphic had you guys not pointed it out so vociferously in the comments. Matbe YOU'RE the ones causing people to stumble...

Great post Frank. Sorry it got buried in the comments...

donsands said...

"Then how can you agree with it."

I didn't say that I did.

I'm discussing Scripture, and the Scripture verses Frank shared.
What do you think of the verses Frank shared jason?

Jason said...

Donsands said,
"But I agree with Franks comments on the Scriptures that he quoted.

Jason, what do you think of Franks comment concerning Scripture, when it speaks with vivid words about the female body?
You may have to back a few comments to find that one, if you decide to read it over and respond to it.

5:34 AM, June 24, 2007"

donsands said...
"Then how can you agree with it."

I didn't say that I did.

I'm discussing Scripture, and the Scripture verses Frank shared.
What do you think of the verses Frank shared jason?

6:12 PM, June 25, 2007

I based my statement "then how can you agree with it" by your statements above. If I misunderstood you then I apologize.

In answer to "what I think about the scripture Frank shared", I have already answered that in one of my previous posts.

Thanks for your time Don

Phil Johnson said...

I've been occupied with other things this weekend and didn't watch this thread, or else I would have closed it down a couple of days ago. I had no idea this discussion had got so far out of hand. So I'm going to close the thread now. Exporting this conversation to other threads on this blog will be deemed grounds of a 6-month ban. You are forewarned.

First an apology and a couple of words of clarification:

1. I am very sorry my response in an earlier comment was not as pastoral as it might have been. I did remove the picture, and I wasn't intending to suggest that anyone and everyone who may have been offended by it was necessarily a wacko. But I herewith apologize and ask forgiveness from Kent and the anonymous commenter from the IRS for my caustic remarks about fundies.

2. I do, however, think calling that image "pornographic" and suggesting that everyone who is not offended by it is in sin is both ridiculous and perilously close to bearing false witness.

3. Taste is whole other issue, and I can understand why someone would find the image tasteless and offensive.

4. Further debate over whether posting or viewing such a cartoon crosses the line into "sin" is not a discussion I'm interested in entertaining on the blog. Apparently there are commenters here who would draw much stricter lines than I do regarding such matters. But we Pyromaniacs have more profitable things to do than argue that someone else is being a prude. That's one realm where I'm happy to steer as far clear of gray areas as I reasonably can. (Cf. Romans 16:19). I do actually appreciate those people, including my wife, who are more sensitive to certain matters of propriety than I am, and I wouldn't for a moment want to challenge their personal standards when it comes to the question of offensive imagery.

5. I'll be seeing both Frank Turk and Dan Phillips this week, and the issue of propriety in our graphics is one thing we will surely talk through. Perhaps we'll have something to say about it on the blog after we've talked through the issue. Then again, maybe not.