11 January 2008

Land of 1000 Dances

by Phil Johnson

Throwing both caution and long-established protocol to the winds, I'm going to import part of a debate from Frank Turk's blog (where these intramural squabbles really belong) to PyroManiacs (where we almost never argue amongst ourselves). I'm doing this to try to extract the question of whether it's good to turn the church into a discotheque from the more volatile and not really essential question of teetotalism. So the latter subject is off limits in this thread, and let's be nice in the meta.


Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).



n the topic of church activities, Christian testimony, and our collective influence on the world, I wanted to point out that the message we send with our lifestyle is to a very large degree subject to the interpretation of the observer anyway.

Let's concede (for the sake of argument) that if some quixotically missional church advertises cigars and poker as the centerpiece of their men's ministry, that may very well be all it takes to convince some spiritually-naive, intellectually-stunted biker type that Christians really aren't just stuffy prudes whom he could never relate to. But it seems just as likely (much more likely, really) that relegating "men's ministry" to the smoke-filled room would offend many more than it would "reach." I'll go further: that approach is likely to derail some men for whom a man-sized dose of Jerry Bridges, J. C. Ryle, or the apostle Paul would be a thousand times more edifying than another stogie.

(Yes, I know: Spurgeon smoked. Not during church meetings, though.)

o I grew up in a modernist church where we had dances all the time. It was the default activity for our youth group. And if you think church dances are a novel idea, you've been wading in the shallow-evangelical end of the pool for too long. In fact, the most famous incident regarding a church dance I can think of occurred in 1949.

HT: to James White for what follows. I spent all day Tuesday with him. (That, of course, was before the current flap arose. We were no doubt conspiring to commandeer Technorati for the "TR blogosphere," or something like that.) In the course of our conversation, James reminded me of the following true story.

In 1948, Sayyid Qutb was part of an early wave of privileged middle-eastern Muslims who came to the west to study. He spent a couple of years at the State College of Education in Greeley, Colorado—taking classes toward a master's degree in education. Displaced from his own culture and relatively isolated in middle America, he viewed almost every aspect of American society with a jaded eye. He found American jazz melodramatic and distasteful, American sports crude and primitive, Americans themselves materialistic and shallow. But above all, he was utterly appalled by how self-centered, "distant," worldly, and utterly unspiritual American religion looked from inside a typical place of worship.

Where'd he get that impression? Well, it seems someone invited Qutb to a dance at a Methodist church in Greeley. Here's an excerpt from Qutb's own description of that evening, taken from his book The America I Have Seen:

After the religious service in the church ended, boys and girls from among the members began singing hymns, while others prayed, and we proceeded through a side door onto the dance floor that was connected to the prayer hall by a door. . . Every boy took the hand of a girl, including those who had just been singing hymns!

The dance floor was lit with red and yellow and blue lights, and with a few white lamps. And they danced to the tunes of the gramophone, and the dance floor was replete with tapping feet, enticing legs, arms wrapped around waists, lips pressed to lips, and chests pressed to chests. The atmosphere was full of desire. When the minister descended from his office, he looked intently around the place and at the people, and encouraged those men and women still sitting who had not yet participated in this circus to rise and take part. And as he noticed that the white lamps spoiled the romantic, dreamy atmosphere, he set about, with that typical American elegance and levity, dimming them one by one, all the while being careful not to interfere with the dance, or bump into any couples dancing on the dance floor. And the place really did appear to become more romantic and passionate. Then he advanced to the gramophone to choose a song that would befit this atmosphere and encourage the males and the females who were still seated to participate.

And the minister chose. He chose a famous American song called "But Baby, It's Cold Outside" . . . and the minister waited until he saw people stepping to the rhythm of this moving song, and he seemed satisfied and contented. He left the dance floor for his home, leaving the men and the women to enjoy this night in all its pleasure and innocence!

Sounds pretty tame by comparison to the kind of things that are happening today, doesn't it? But to Sayyid Qutb in 1949, it was a shocking sign of superficiality and an impertinent lack of proper reverence. He saw it as proof that Christianity is not a faith to be taken seriously—because it isn't even taken seriously by "believers." That night was a major turning point in Qutb's thinking, and it was one of the main reasons he later gave for rejecting Western values and the Christian religion altogether.

Qutb went back to Egypt seething with outrage and contempt against the West's unbridled materialistic selfism, and he began to produce a body of writings that became the manifestos and chief handbooks for today's Islamofascism. Qutb was chief mentor to Ayman al-Zawahiri, who in turn mentored Osama bin Laden. One of bin Laden's closest friends reported that bin Laden read Qutb's works intently and considered him the most important influence in the rise of radical Islamism in the current generation. (See Dinesh D'Souza on Sayyid Qutb.)

Anyway, before someone accuses me of being sympathetic with Qutb's values, let me just say I'm advocating no such thing. I'm not suggesting his perspective of Americans or Christians in general was fair and accurate. It clearly wasn't, and Qutb belongs in a hall of shame alongside Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, and Pol Pot as some of the twentieth century's most demented megalomaniacs.

Also, I'm not suggesting (as some of our more zealous fundamentalist brethren might want to) that the club atmosphere in that one Colorado church is directly to blame for the fall of the World Trade Center towers.

But the Greeley church dance episode certainly does illustrate that not all the world is charmed by worldly religion, and the apologetic value of "Disco Night in the Sanctuary" is by no means a given. In short, taking pains to demonstrate how hip and liberated we can be in our places of worship might not always be the finest "missional" strategy.

That's one reason I personally don't find such arguments persuasive. Those who want to turn the church into a dance hall really ought to try to find more legitimate biblical support for what they are advocating. And if they can't (which, BTW, they won't,) they should reexamine the strategy.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God (1 Corinthians 10:31-32).

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:13-16).

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:4).


by Phil Johnson

243 comments:

1 – 200 of 243   Newer›   Newest»
Puritan said...

The excuse I often hear for dances, church raves etc, is we are to "Compel" them to come in. However:

Unlike in the Parable of the Wedding Feast Mt 22:1-14, where we see "servants" plural throughout, the "Servant" in the parable of the Great Supper Lk 14:15-24 is servant singular throughout. The servant in the Parable of the Great Supper is the Holy Spirit striving with man.

This is significant because in the Wedding Feast Mt 22:9 . "Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’" We, the believers are to invite people to the wedding.

However in Lk 14:23 "Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." It is the Holy Spirit that is compelling them to come in.

Websters Dictionary:
Compel= 1) to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly
2) to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure

Invite:=1) a: to offer an incentive or inducement to : entice
b: to increase the likelihood of
2) a: to request the presence or participation of (i.e. invited us to dinner)
b: to request formally
c: to urge politely

This makes a big difference, because if we wrongly ascribe the compelling to the Christian, then it would make sense to rack up false conversions by pressuring people to pray a prayer, and use emotional music and make Jesus seem 'the cool option' with dances, raves, extreme sports, and a youth pastor who is either older and looks like he's going through a mid-life crisis, or an immature carnal boy not much older than the youth.

But when we realize it is the Holy Spirit who is doing the compelling, then we are preach the Gospel God's way and to invite people to repent and believe the Gospel and let the Holy Spirit do the compelling and converting.

I hear it so many times "Jesus wants to give you an abundant life", as if it means a "worldly life". Peter had an abundant life, he was crucified upside down after watching his wife be crucified. Paul had an abundant life, he was scourged, stoned and beheaded. So much for an abundant life meaning you need to go skateboarding with a Jesus t-shirt on whilst listening to the Beatles.

DJP said...

I pose these as actual, and not loaded, questions:

Is this passage at all germane?

"To what should I compare this generation? It's like children sitting in the marketplaces who call out to each other: 17 We played the flute for you, but you didn't dance; we sang a lament, but you didn't mourn! 18 For John did not come eating or drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon!' 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds" (Matthew 11:16-19)

I would wager that the Methodist gent in your story wasn't preaching much of a Gospel anyway, though Methodism perhaps hadn't tumbled down the slope as far as it has today. Is Driscoll preaching a straight-up Gospel these days? My impression is that he is.

I know you're not implying that Qutb (say that out loud) would necessarily have been converted had he instead wandered into John MacArthur's dad's church at the time, though he'd have gotten a straight-up Gospel. But isn't the point of Jesus' lament, above, that folks who won't be reached, won't be reached, regardless? And doesn't it imply that there can be equally-valid though very-different approaches?

IOW, had the execrable Mr. Buy-a-Vowel heard a classic, faithful, fire-and-brimstone Gospel message, mightn't he have been even more horrified at us Great Satanists?

And back to Jesus' words, is it possible that criticism of Driscoll's approach per se would amount to, "Listen, we're going to play 'Funeral,' and that's that"?

I'll now hang up and listen to the answer offline.

centuri0n said...

{Before the fireworks begin, let me say that the title of this post was brilliant. And it will also be my ultimate argument against what Phil is saying here.}

Well, since you brought it up, Phil ...

Here's my list of concessions, based on this post:

[1] There's no question -- a church which has as its primary mission the establishment of parties, especially to the place where parties have supplanted regular, solemn worship is off the rails.

[2] There is also no question that if there is one segment of "church ministry" which, in and of itself, is (as in Phil's example) is only about cigars and poker -- which never crosses the line into evangelism, or implements actual evangelism and discipleship in a sort of apologizing way and doesn't take the command to "go" from Christ seriously -- that church is toying with disaster. For those who would ask "why?" to this affirmation, it's because I would stand firmly with Phil that the -primary- responsibility of the church is expressing the Gospel to the image of God in man. That task is not one which occurs in general revelation (which we could also call "naturalistic experience"), but only in special revelation, and that requires preaching and teaching. (cf. Rom 10)

[3] As a last concession, I would also say that the church has a specific requirement from Scripture to do all thinks "in order" -- that is, it has a responsibility to do things in such a way that it expresses the consequences of the Gospel in what it does, and that means it is expressing the mature fruits of faith. Among those fruits would be peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Whatever the church does, it ought to be inside the boundaries of virtue as expressed by the whole Bible.

I don't think there's any way to question any of these affirmations without making some kind of rudimentary mistake about the church

But that said, where does the title for Phil's post come from? Can anyone, with me, sing "NA! NANA NA NA! NANA NA NA NANA NA NANA NA!"? Or do the mashed potato?

Is that a hymn or spiritual song?

See: even Phil has to admit that, at some point, we have to be a student of the culture -- and that means first we can walk by it and examine it without getting all rolled up in it. Phil has done it; I have done it. And if I may be so blod, Paul did it himself in order to preach at Mars Hill. Jesus did it and his actions were interpreted by his enemies as frankly being friendly with sin.

And that statement about Jesus requires some unpacking so it doesn't get abused as it frequently does. What I am not saying is that Jesus let anything go as long as people came to him. That's simply untrue, and it's the misapplication of the Pharisees accusation of him. What I am saying is that Jesus went to where the sinners were, spoke to them as God in human flesh would speak to them -- which is, condemning sin and still keeping the offer he makes at the cross in the center of the conversation -- and somehow the sinners thought he cared -and- he taught with authority, even if the guys with big phylacteries thought he got a little too close to Mary the Prostitute or Matt the Extortionist traitor to Israel.

Jesus put himself in place where the spiritually sick would be without sinning.

So on the one hand, there is a clear example in Scripture that we have a duty to go find the lost -- and in going, we have to see what they see and do and preach to that and through that, "through" here meaning "as through fire" -- preaching in a way which survives the context, but doesn't try to make the easy way out.

So we name our posts which preach to our point "Land of 1000 dances" or "a needle in Hays' tack" or some other clever adaptation of a cultural idiom in order to make our point more clear, not to substitute a clean joke or a video or some pop music lyrics for clear scriptural reasoning and teaching.

And on the other, there's still the question of, "and then how do we live?" See: Phil interprets the Mars Hill poster (and I think Ingrid does, too, which is what set me to this matter in the first place) as saying "we're not a church anymore: we're just a community center, and we're going to 'transform our church into a posh dance club'".

The question is this: whatever actually happened at Mars Hill that night -- and I think there is evidence that it was exceedingly tame -- did that event supercede the necessary attribute of community worship in that body, or did it express the other consequences of the Gospel besides right-minded worship?

I really, really want to work this out the rest of the way here -- but I have to get to work and make sure my folks take their jobs seriously today. As you consider where I'm going here, let's take our jobs as Christians seriously today. What I am going to suggest in the rest of my reply here is not easy or simple, and it will frankly be subject to some abuses.

The question we have to ask is this: should we do everything we are called to do, even if we know that some people will abuse those things because they are either insincere or immature, or both?

dac said...

fight fight fight!

I'd make popcorn and watch, but I have to get the family ready for school.

Anyone interested in a little side action on who wins?

If you guys had a fourth it could be a tag match

Carla Rolfe said...

Phil,

THANK YOU.

SDG,
Carla

david rudd said...

frank,

i've never agreed with you more.

dan,

"mr. buy-a-vowel"... hillarious.

Al said...

Frank,
In the end this will boil down to eschatology and the “consequences of the gospel.”

Phil,
I think you are right on when it comes to the purpose of the church and emphasis of our ministry. When we become the place where it is simply safe to play basketball we are no longer salt and light to the world.

When the church meets for a party though what should that look like? Can the people of God gather to dance and sing? Dan’s mention of Matthew 11 is germane. Jesus gathered with his disciples, not in a worship service, and they had a good time around a bottle of the good stuff. It was a godly affair and yet the accusation was, “wine bibber and friend of sinners.”

So, can the church gather like this and still be doing the will of the Father? I see no command not to gather in such a way and wisdom seems to indicate that the enjoyment of the gifts of God is not shameful. Even gifts that others may abuse.

Al sends

Johnny Dialectic said...

I think we must distinguish the idea of going OUT among sinners to reach them, and being the church that calls people OUT of the world. Jesus going to eat and drink with tax collectors is not the same as calling tax collectors to repentance in the assembly of the saints.

The wordly minded, man-methods approach to "winning some" is not, as Phil asserts, biblical. This does not mean we ignore culture or learn how to speak to it (this is the exactly the point of Paul on Mars Hill. He was out among 'em, and spoke to them where THEY lived).

These worldly minded methods also impliedly water down the real means of salvation: the hearing of the Word coupled with the illumination of the Spirit. You don't make those things happen with methods. Those things happen by being faithful to the duty. Our task in the assembly is to manifest the power of God, not the cleverness of our methods.

This doesn't mean being a clod or unaware of how people live and think out there. But people are THIRSTING for the power of God, even if they don't know it. That's how God made them. We're not doing them any favors by trying to attract them with worldly thirst quenchers.

DJP said...

I think that sidesteps Frank's questions though, JD. Can the church have only one kind of meeting, to play "funeral"?

SolaMeanie said...

When Frank and I were discussing this privately via email (a discussion I enjoyed immensely), the main of what I said was questioning the wisdom of this kind of thing in terms of outreach. "All things are lawful, but not all things are expedient."

All of the usual "back and forths" in this type of argument have legitimate things to consider. There is the element of the "weaker brother," there is the element of what crosses the line into legalism, there is the element of where a Christian "free man" crosses the line into being a libertine. There is the element of individual conscience and conviction.

ALL OF THESE THINGS should be viewed in light of the most important question. What brings God glory and what furthers the cause of Christ the best? It might well be true that I have the freedom to enjoy a nice glass of Pinot Noir if I desire, but if that glass of Pinot Noir is going to cause a weaker brother to stumble or hinder my sharing of the Gospel in a given situation, is it loving of me (not to mention God-honoring) to draw my sword, cry "Excelsior," and fight to the last man for my "right" to do what I want?

With me, Frank brought up an excellent point from Scripture about partaking with thankfulness of things that God has provided and created. That is legitimate. Where we have to be careful (and I think that is what Paul was striving to point out in Corinthians) is in weighing and discerning what is best in a given situation.

I hope this makes some sense.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I'm gonna sit this one out. Arguments will be going both ways. Strawmen will be constructed in both directions. I mean it's pretty tough call.

Christians should express the joy of being bond-slaves to Christ. At the same time, they shouldn't be doing the bump-and-grind on the dance floor like a bunch of lusting dogs either.

What about square dancing with a some do-si-dos and all that? I think sqare dancing is for squares, but it can be fun and folks aren't bumping and grinding like "Dancing With the Stars".

stratagem said...

It makes sense in theory that raves, parties, cigar smokin' poker nights could transition into a true Gospel presentation. But, for some reason these approaches are almost never found, in practice, in Biblically-sound churches. Now, someone will say, "yes, so wouldn't it be great if a Biblically-sound church started taking this domain over from the Emerg***s?"

But the fly in the ointment is that once you start negotiating with the world, churches usually find that the world is a better negotiator than the church. So you know who influences who. Once you start the "we'll change to suit you" exchange with the unregenerate, it's tough to do a 180 degree flip to "now it's time for you to change to suit God".

And why is it that becoming "relevant" to culture is always directed at the dumb, trailer-trash end of culture? I mean, maybe it's because that is where most people are, but you almost never see a church bringing in the unsaved by presenting a concert of Rachmaninoff. I don't know the total answer as to why that is, but there's something interesting to be pondered there. Most of what has been written regarding relevance to culture is oriented toward degenerate culture. Interesting.

DJP said...

But why is it assumed that it necessarily has anything to do with negotiating with the world? Do we not do something just because the world does it? Seems unnecessarily reactionary. Did the early church cancel its agapē meals when it found out that the world sometimes ate together, too?

Al said...

The Lord paints this wonderful picture of the restoration of Israel in Jeremiah 31, culminating in the promise of the New Covenant. Here is how God describes the joy of restoration:

1 "At that time, declares the LORD, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people."
2Thus says the LORD: "The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest,
3the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
4 Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
O virgin Israel! Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines
and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.

It is interesting that the Lord shows them something out of their own culture and far from rebuking them says, “Remember your dance and merrymaking? That is what it will be like upon the return of the people to the land.” They were dancers at one time and they will be again.

Now when the people did return to the land could they have a party? Could they dance and make merry?

Of course they can and I imagine they did:

10"Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, 'He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.'
11 For the LORD has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
12They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall be like a watered garden,
and they shall languish no more.
13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
14 I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance,
and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,
declares the LORD."

We are now being gathered in and saved out of our sin. What better reason to rejoice in the dance and make merry with the old folks!?!

al sends

dac said...

Does every event that Christian's gather at must include a gospel presentation? Is the fact that a celebration is held in a church building require it to be church service? You can't just get together to watch a football game in the big screen projector in the sanctuary on a Thursday night? You can't hold a business meeting for a local community group in the building?

It is New Years Eve folks. It isn't Sunday morning (or Wed/Sat night) church services here folks.

It is just a bunch of folks getting together to enjoy each others company, and it is happening in the church building. Could Christian's gather somewhere else and do this? If the answer is yes, then why not at church?

DJP said...

BTW, just to be painfully and pedantically clear, the person who joked "Fight! Fight" — well, I'm assuming that's a joke.

But if anyone perceives me as arguing with Phil or Frank, you're just flat wrong. I look up to both of these guys in many different ways, I consider them my betters in scores of ways, and I learn from them all the time.

I've just felt that harder questions give The Greats opportunity to bring out the best goods. I'm discussing; not arguing.

Fred Butler said...

To me it is just a matter of being tacky. Do you know how tacky it looks to have a night club set up in your church?

Steve Camp had a post a couple months back in which he berated a church greeter for getting on to some young people smoking in the Church parking lot. Its along the same lines. The church greeter was right, because it is just tacky to be smoking in front of your church.

Honestly, do you really want your church to have the reputation of being "the cool church where you can drink, smoke and gamble?" If that is what you are bring them in with, it is generally what you will have to do to keep them coming around.

Amazingly, many of the folks who would otherwise defend such activities are the same folks who gripe about Rick Warren and his antics, just with drinking and smoking, it is wrapped in Reformational language, so thus it is okay.

Fred

Puritan said...

Johnny Dialect wrote: “I think we must distinguish the idea of going OUT among sinners to reach them, and being the church that calls people OUT of the world.
.”


Amen brother.

The question needs to be asked that when Paul preached at Mars Hill, did he:

A) say “hey guys, us Christians are just like you and enjoy worldly things, so come and join our church because it’s loads of fun and you’ll be able to do all those worldly things and you’ll get eternal life.

Or did Paul:

B) start a Gospel message that met the people where they were at with their misunderstanding of God and correct them and clearly explained the truth and then told them “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness

DJP & Frank “Can the church have only one kind of meeting, to play "funeral"?”

Perhaps I'm hearing you wrong here but, Jesus saved us from what we were and gave us eternal life. We get to learn more about Him, and praise Him. Isn’t Jesus enough? Why do we need to add more things to stop us getting bored? Trying to make it more entertaining is creating false fire as a substitute for joy in our Lord.

As for outreach. Leonard Ravenhill’s daddy would go out late at night and meet drunks in a sorry state and give them love, the Gospel and coffee. However this was in the days when the English pub and being a drunk was a men-only establishment. To do the same today, would be to spend evenings in the company of women dolled up and wearing practically nothing. We are supposed to flee temptation, not run to it. All those people “dancing” also go to the shopping centre and so we can witness to them there, or we can witness to them door-to-door.

DJP said...

This is sad; of the three of us, I'm probably the one with the least of value to say, and so far I'm saying the most. Phil and Frank will doubtless weigh in later and up the value considerably.

Here's the deal as I see it, Puritan. You're assuming more than I'm assuming of this one meeting at Driscoll's church. This was a New Year's Eve celebration. I think I'm pretty safe in guessing that they'll only have, at maximum, one New Year's Eve celebration per year.

Nor do they say, "Invite your worldly friends! Show them how cool we are! They'll like Jesus and the church!" If they did, I'd find it disgusting as well.

Again, I'm just asking this questions: does every meeting of the church have to be of one kind and with one specific atmosphere only? Which kind? On what authority?

Maybe we'd better produce our own Talmud on what specific activities are and are not appropriate for Christians. Like:

1. Quiet, reverent chuckles lasting under 3 seconds and under a decibel level of ___ glorify God; loud laughter for more than 3 seconds is worldly

2. Moving within 1% of one's central axis glorifies God; anything over 1% is worldly

3. Holy blood alcohol level is 0.00000000000000001%; anything more is worldly, unless it's from Nyquil

Lindon said...

Too bad Mr. Buy-a-vowel (love that)did not visit the Baptist youth down the street. No dancing. Probably some smoking behind the fellowship hall, though.

Anyhoo, Church has always had a 'fellowship' element that is usually taken too far. Some friends who go to a seeker mega have a 'Bible Fellowship Class' which consists of about 45 minutes fellowship and 15 minutes Bible study. That is the deepest study of their week for bible.

Who was it that said any conversation between Christians that is not about Jesus is absurd. There is truth to that statement.

Daryl said...

Puritan and others,

Isn't point being discussed more about the appropriateness of a church having a party like the one described as having occurred at Driscoll's church? I don't think it's helping to bring in evangelism and attracting people to the church etc. simply because that doesn't appear to have been the motivation of Mars Hill anyways.

We used to play floor hockey and volleyball in our church gym in my younger years. We never did it as outreach, it wasn't spiritual and if we tried it on a Sunday morning we'd have been cut off, and rightly so.

My question is, what's the difference between a non-Sunday morning party at which no biblical law is being hijacked (at least intentionally you understand) and playing floor hockey for fun?
Both are entertainment, both bring joy, neither is replacing church or being used to make the gospel look better.

Accusing Mars Hill of selling out to the culture or being tacky or watering down the message seems to come out of the idea that the church building is somehow a more holy place than any other building, and I think that idea is just flat wrong.
(Which is why I let my kids run around in the sanctuary when the service is over and nothing especially spiritual is happening...)

Are we not really discussing the relative merit (or lack thereof) of the church people having themselves a party, wherever that might be?

DJP said...

Accusing Mars Hill of selling out to the culture or being tacky or watering down the message seems to come out of the idea that the church building is somehow a more holy place than any other building, and I think that idea is just flat wrong.
(Which is why I let my kids run around in the sanctuary when the service is over and nothing especially spiritual is happening...)


Word.

Daryl said...

"...any conversation between Christians that is not about Jesus is absurd."

What??? (Falls down laughing) I sure hope your mechanic isn't a Christian, otherwise how will you ever tell him what's wrong with your car...Does this mean a Christian coach can't have Christian players on his team in case he needs to talk to them???

stratagem said...

Dan, yes you're right and very wise to point out, it isn't necessarily true that just because the world does something, we shouldn't do it. Maybe the difference is that some of the things that are done to bring in the unregenerate are things that appeal to man's darker side (the unregenerate side?).

I'm not sure there is a hard and fast rule to distinguish where the line is, other than to love the Lord your God with all your being. If we do love him, we will listen to the conscience as the Spirit speaks to it. For instance, I drink beer, but my rule is never more than one (12oz.) per 24 hour period. I am perfectly at peace with that in my conscience.

I think sometimes churches enter into these types of kewl 'programs' without consulting God or the conscience; it's just, if it seems like a good idea and it works, do it. Or as Rob Bell says, "look around, see what God is doing and join in." That kind of thinking is so easy to buy into, but can get us into one heck of a mess with regard to following God.

Daryl said...

Can I interrupt this discussion to say that this quote from Dan:

" I look up to both of these guys in many different ways, I consider them my betters in scores of ways, and I learn from them all the time."

demonstrates one of the primary reasons that this blog is a good as it is? These guys each give the higher ground to each other. What an example to all of us.

Garet said...

Having participated in this topic at Franks blog, I wish I could spend more time in this fun conversation than I am about too, but alas, I would seriously be shirking work today.


I think there are two different issues at the heart of this that are being paired together as if they are the same.

Question 1. Is "missional strategy" wherein the church is made to look "worldly" to attract the unwashed masses biblical or good?

Question 2. Can Christian fellowship in a way that involves supposed "worldly" things?

Answer 1. No. I don't support, endorse, or condone this humanistic marketing philosophy that has turned the evan-jello-cal churchs' Sunday service into an entertainment based existential self-help seminar, as opposed to a time of edification and communal worship.

Answer 2. Yes. "Worldly" has more to do with motives and world view due to the absence of the Holy Spirit, than it does with stuff and activity; that's the difference between orthodox Christianity and gnostics and aesthetes. And Al is absolutely correct in his comments.


My question is, when can we say that someone like Ingrid has crossed the line from discernment and contending for the faith, and into salacious gossip and slander?
Because if you ask me, that is what her Mars Hill post was. It's a pretty huge accusation to suggest that Mars Hill is a "whore church" for what appears to be a benign New Years celebration. It's not a whole lot different from the shrill scandal mongering that happens on cable news networks. Ya, everyone is really *concerned* about Brittney.

Al said...

Dan,

Your questions are right on and very helpful.

We would like a Talmud of our very own. Our sinful laziness cries out for a White and Strunk of Godly behavior and in its absence we will simply put mental police tape around things that could get us into trouble. The tape typically goes out in large squares, with not much room for the nuance of an innocent bystander's property.

al sends

Al said...

Dan - Which is why I let my kids run around in the sanctuary when the service is over and nothing especially spiritual is happening...

Oh, so you're the guy. Sorry for the dirty look the other day.

:-)

al sends

Al said...

Sorry, daryl not dan...

dac said...

djp

yes, it was a joke. If you couldn't' figure that out after the popcorn quip, the offer to bet on the outcome and the all star wrestling comment well.... your sense of humor meter needs adjustment.

next time i will add a ;)

"that person"

centuri0n said...

Ah yes. I have my people, who are mostly christians, about the puritanical ministry of work today, and I'm back to finish my thoughts here.

My closing statement of my previous comment really goes back to consider what Phil said when he said this:

[QUOTE]
But the Greeley church dance episode certainly does illustrate that not all the world is charmed by worldly religion, and the apologetic value of taking pains to demonstrate how hip and liberated we can be in our places of worship might not always be the finest "missional" strategy.

That's one reason I personally don't find such arguments persuasive. Those who want to turn the church into a dance hall really ought to try to find more legitimate biblical support for what they are advocating. And if they can't (which, BTW, they won't,) they should reexamine the strategy.
[/QUOTE]

There are two places here that I have added emphasis to Phil's statement, and I'll take them in order. In the first statement, he is excoriating "taking pains to demonstrate how hip and liberated we can be" -- and I think, insofar as it goes, I say, "amen".

But what about "happy"? As DJP (with whom I am well pleased) points out, are we only in "funeral" mode? Should we be? I mean, the grave is empty, right? Death wasn't able to hold our Lord and Christ, and it therefore has no hold on us.

See: the more astute among you noticed that my list of mature fruits of the spirit in my first comment missed two fruit -- love and joy.

While all the other moderating virtues of the spirit -- peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (or, if you prefereth KJV, "peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance") -- are necessary for spiritual maturity, let me suggest to you that the other two -- Love and Joy -- are the motivating fruits of the spirit. The others are what we do -- and we must be about doing them. These first two are why we do from a standpoint of incentive or (as the WORD thesaurus assists me with a word choice) enthusiasm.

The skeptics and the hesitant, rightly so, will point out that it's a little weak to say that we ought to be a shiny, happy people. It seems a little "American Greetings" to think about Christianity as a merely-happy, puppies-and-bunnies religion, and it also short-changes the kind of joy the Gospel is about. Those people, whoever they might be, would be right to say that Christianity is not merely a happy and cuddly religion with a view of love which apes adolescent infatuation.

But to say that we should not be merely happy and infatuated overlooks that the vice being decried is the minimalization of joy and love. Let me suggest that the other side of that coin where many people live today in an attempt to distance themselves from sappy, clappy, orthodontically-brilliant McChristianity is to shlump around with a "high-minded" and "God-centered" "joy" which can't be bothered to genuinely smile when things are good, or to be actually glad when we can see and enjoy God's blessing upon us.

These people sort of grimace – it's sort of a game-face joy, which, you know, I think I understand because a lot of the time that's what joy looks like on me. There is a higher satisfaction than sweet birthday cake and water-gun fight giggles, and grown-ups can feel those things deeply and richly. But here's the thing: it doesn’t stop us (well, most of us – maybe only some of us) from having birthday cake with our kids and inviting the kids they go to school with to the party – whether they are lost or found. It doesn’t stop us or turn into an either/or philosophical dilemma to have a water-gun fight with our kids when the weather allows – and enjoying that, too.

If the happy-clappy, puppies-and-bunnies manifestation of "joy" and "love" is minimalistic because it is reductive, in the same way seeing "the joy that was set before him" as a plate full of spinach to be "enjoyed" without any actual enjoyment is also reductive. It is not either/or: it must be both/and.

And here's the thing: we're a little self-deceiving if we think we can somehow be both/and and nobody see it. In some way, if we are both high-mindedly joyful for things like the new birth and propitiation, substitutionary atonement and resurrection, I think it gives us a motivation to show gratitude for stuff like the people around us by celebrating their birthdays, and making a big deal out of a married couple's anniversary, and marking the new year or some beneficial political event in history with an expression of gladness.

Because there are plenty of times that our faith has to protect us and guide us through the deal of someone we love, and the hard times in marriage, and the threat of unemployment, and political persecution, and all manner of pre-Second Coming woes. Our faith rightly offers hope in the face of hopelessness, but it offers us the ability to rejoice for metaphysically-transcendet reasons when things are good.

Al is all on about how this topic sort of makes the FV/post-millenial case pretty vividly – that somehow escatology is the real reason some people are so glum about joy. Yeah, Al? That overplays your hand pretty significantly. Because it's not about when the Gospel will manifest all it's victories: I suggest that all of the people, especially Phil who brought this up, who are on the "no dance clubs in a church" people believe that the Gospel is a declaration of victory which we must hear today and respond to today -- that Christ's victory has meaning today and not just at some unknown date and time in the future after the tribulation and rapture.

What is at stake here is the "today" example of the Gospel, which we preach by all means.

Let's be honest: up to this point, what I have done is mostly express a philosophical point about practical living, and it's pretty thin on proof-texts, while Phil has opened the NT and erected his own pillars of faith from the sufficient word of God. And if this is where the discussion ended, frankly, he prolly has to be declared the one with a right case because mine is merely man's opinion and his is what God hath said.

So here is where the exchange actually gets interesting – because I concede all of Phil's verses. I accept that the Bible does, in fact, call us to sober-mindedness and maturity and sanctified living and all that stuff. It's a key reason he lets me have my name on the front page here.

The problem is whether that's where Scripture stops.

Because Phil did also say the stuff in the second bold section, above:

[QUOTE]
try to find more legitimate biblical support for what they are advocating. And if they can't (which, BTW, they won't,) they should reexamine the strategy.
[/QUOTE]

It is Phil's view, as I read him above, that Scripture does not advocate for non-liturgical rejoicing – and that it in fact he thinks that the church has no other avenue for rejoicing but in community worship, specifically in the preaching of God's word.

I'm about to spill out some bandwidth on this topic, so if that's not Phil's point he needs to offer his correction to my interpretation of his statement here. And rather than post another 3 pages for nothing, I'll keep my powder dry until such a time as Phil can give me a foothold there.

Back later. Don’t let this get too ugly. Phil is also my brother in Christ with whom I am well pleased, and I count him as a dear friend. Anyone who tells you otherwise is simply a trouble-maker – in a bad way.

steve said...

Frank wrote: even Phil has to admit that, at some point, we have to be a student of the culture -- and that means first we can walk by it and examine it without getting all rolled up in it.

Maybe I'm missing the points being made around here (Frank, I got lost trying to follow your most recent comment), but it seems to me that church is not the place to be a student of culture.

Garet wrote: when can we say that someone like Ingrid has crossed the line from discernment and contending for the faith, and into salacious gossip and slander?

You're not the only one wondering about that.

stratagem said...

Cent's hinting at the idea of a puppies and bunnies petting day, as a way of bringing people into the church, is superb. I think a lot of unsaved people who have no desire to put up with cigar smoke or dancing, would come to a petting zoo in the church. It would also be a lot easier to get small children to willingly come on Sundays. After all, is there anyone normal who doesn't like puppies?

It would also be a lot easier to transition this sort of thing to a Gospel presentation, too, not to mention you'd probably attract a better sort of person than you would with a rave.

After having heard this idea, now I really wonder why most outreaches are always about bar-scene activities. Cent, u. r. a. genius - seriously.

I concede up-front that bunnies and puppies are not edgy. But not everyone wants edgy.

centuri0n said...

"guide us through the deal of someone we love"

-should be-

"guide us through the death of someone we love"

Why WORD cannot read my mind is beyond me.

Grace said...

"But the Greeley church dance episode certainly does illustrate that not all the world is charmed by worldly religion, and the apologetic value of taking pains to demonstrate how hip and liberated we can be in our places of worship might not always be the finest "missional" strategy."

Excellent statement. Many in my generation are being drawn to the more formal and ritual-oriented denominations because we are sick of "hip" churches. We crave the sacred, and a coffee shop just doesn't conjure up the same reverent attitude that a cathedral does.

"The question we have to ask is this: should we do everything we are called to do, even if we know that some people will abuse those things because they are either insincere or immature, or both?"

I am honestly confused by this question. What are we called to do that is insincere or immature? If someone could elucidate further, I'd appreciate it.

Randy said...

I'll through in a monkey wrench here.

Is not the US Gov. now seeking out taxes for Churches (sic) that use their property for other than worship/spiritual actions. It seems that churches use the property for baseball, basketball, shooting clubs, malls, etc. and charge fees (a,k,a ministry fees)
The government is having trouble distingueshing it from the world?

centuri0n said...

Steve:

You said this, which I take is an interrogative affirmation --

[QUOTE]
Maybe I'm missing the points being made around here (Frank, I got lost trying to follow your most recent comment), but it seems to me that church is not the place to be a student of culture.
[/QUOTE]

First, it's easy to lose me because I am writing on the fly here and the inside of my cranium is like a popcorn machine -- and who can tell, really, which kernel is going to pop next? There's not much honing going on in the 1.5 drafts I make before posting, so my apology there.

But to your point, where did you buy your clothes? What kind of food do you eat? Do you drive or take some kind of mass transit? ("Mass transit" injected into the conversation to get the rabid anti-catholics completely derailed)

Unless you make all your own clothes, grow all your own food, only cook at home, and never leave your 40 acres of victory except to go to church, and never look to the left or the right on your round ttrip, I suggest to you that you are a novice student of culture. You have to be -- you live here, wherever "here" is.

In that, your church has two attributes if it is a church at all: its Gospel-conforming inclination to mature those who have faith in our Lord and Christ; and its Gospel-conforming inclination to make the offer "taste and see", which we also phrased as "repent and believe", to the unbeliever.

So in that situation, consider this question: Given the view that we aren't to be students of culture, why would you ever blog the Gospel?

Dave said...

This discussion is fascinating (and so polite--go team!!), but I worry because i'm hearing a LOT of assumptions up and down the line.

(Disclosure: I've never been in a church that had a "watch night" service. I have no idea what one would entail, and have always made my own plans for NYE.)

(Further disclosure: I like Mark Driscoll, and I listen to his podcast.)

It sounds (and I'm just giving my impression of this discussion here) like those who are most concerned are projecting their disagreements or concerns about the Emerg*** movement in general on this one church--that somehow the Red Hot Bash is the culmination and spawn of everything wrong with every whacked-out fringe of the movement. I'm reading references to raves and baccanalian (sp?) feasts, implications that the leadership of this body are engaging in vast compromises under the guise of evangelism, "doing the bump and grind like lusting dogs" (whoa), and general assumption that this is part of the spineless seeker-sensitive mess that a lot of modern churches with kewl programs have become.

From all of the advertising I've seen for the event (not much available), it wasn't billed as an evangelical tool. It was an open party intended for the "family." The alcohol consumption was strictly of a "toast at midnight" variety. And if the leadership of the church were present and were acting in consistent accordance with their stated teaching and track record, I HIGHLY doubt that lewd dancing and bump-n-grinding would be encouraged or even permitted. From everything I've heard and read, the MHC pastoral staff and leadership are SERIOUS about sexual purity.

I don't know for sure what happened, and there well could have been a SERIOUS lack of judgement on the part of staff and membership, but there's no evidence to justify ASSUMING such.

As to having a dance in a church: If i'm the pastor of a large body, and I say, "I want to have a NYE party for my flock in a safe and controlled environment, I have two choices. I could take God's money and use it to rent out a venue, which will be no cheap prospect, or I can use the building space God has already blessed us with for such an event." I think, in that situation, using the building they have is better stewardship than renting a building they don't.

Many disagree, including folks on these boards that I respect highly. And that's totally fine. But I'd wager, if all of the previously mentioned worries were taken out of the equation, we'd be left with two main complaints: MHC shouldn't have a dance at all; OR they should treat their buildings like a holy place, different from any other place where believers gather. And I would disagree with both of these assertions.

I'd offer that their building WAS and IS a holy place, but because the Spirit of God was there, indwelling his joyful and celebratory people.

To conclude my rambling comment: I have seen no indication that all of our worst fears occured, and to continue to assume that such an event OBVIOUSLY devolved into something ugly and sinful speaks more to our attitude toward this church than their attitude toward their building. They are our brothers and sisters, and I think, in this very specific case, based on their track-record and leadership, we can give them the benefit of the doubt until more evidence arises.

(Free side-note: If you think Mars Hill is a seeker-sensitive church, you haven't been paying attention to what's preached.)

SolaMeanie said...

Dan,

In other words, you've "joined the conversation."

(Ow! Ow! (Joel runs for the hills). Stop that! I'm kidding. Put that slingshot down this instant!)

I never thought I'd see the day when the Bartender's Manual would be needed at a church function. I just hope they know how to mix a proper gimlet.

Boy, I am really trying to get in trouble, aren't I?

centuri0n said...

Grace asked this:

[QUOTE]
"The question we have to ask is this: should we do everything we are called to do, even if we know that some people will abuse those things because they are either insincere or immature, or both?"

I am honestly confused by this question. What are we called to do that is insincere or immature? If someone could elucidate further, I'd appreciate it.
[/QUOTE]

Here's what I am talking about -- which really comes to vivid light in the next response to Phil I have brewing.

There is no one reaing this blog today who would say, "the preaching of God's word detracts from the church," right? In fact, even the ECMers who read here would say that in some way, God's word ought to be preached in church -- even if they buy into daffy hermeutics like the ones present in the Solomon's Porch video (my favorite of those being the "top hat" hermeneutic as a method of speaking for God).

Preaching God's word is necessary for the church, amen?

But let's think about this: preaching God's word in a dangerous task! James the brother of Jesus says plainly that teachers "will be judged with greater strictness" -- because we are taking the eternal welfare of people into our own hands.

And in that, most of our normal readers would agree that the word of God is terribly mishandled every week in the church. The question, than, is not "should we preach the word of God?" Is it? Because we -- the church -- must.

The question is whether we will handle the difficult and dangerous task of preaching with the right view that is is frankly easy to mishandle the word of God. Will we show the right caution without demanding a mere reading out loud of the Greek and Hebrew?

If we can grasp that God gives us a good thing in Scripture which we might easily abuse, can we see that God gives us other good things -- sex, alcohol, food, language, clothing, stuff -- which we can easily abuse but that we must seek to use for His purpose and His glory?

This is what I meant with that affirmation. I hope this clarification helps.

centuri0n said...

Randy --

The first-century church faced the same sort of problem. Read some Justin Martyr who defends the church from the claim that it is just like the other distruptive cults.

I think that the argument that we will get misunderstood is a bad argument -- it doesn't hold any apologetic water.

stratagem said...

Dave - good comments. I'm pretty sure everyone here (as yourself) is concerned only with maintaining behavior consistent with the Word, and with perserving the integrity of the Gospel message as defined by the Word. The standards of Christian behavior may have been too tight in 1950s fundy circles, but on occasion the pendulum has recently swung too far in the opposite direction. It's a fuzzy line to know the balance; maybe my only issue is that some churches don't spend a lot of time thinking about consistency with the Word before they embark on some of these activities, they just see others doing it and conclude that's the thing to do.

Paul said...

If you took the poster:

http://www.redhotbash.com/

and replaced New's Year Eve with Easter, would this conversation be the same? Do churches market Easter the same way they do New Years? If not, why not?

This is why I can't help but think the motive is "come and show your friends how cool we are".

jagis said...

I do not believe your illustration appropriatly illustrates the point which you were working towards. this person did not decide to write these things against americans because of what they saw in the said church dance. they did this because of a fundamental flaw in their beliefs and humaness. even if they walked into a perfect bible obedient church they still would have been offended by the freedom the gospel declares through the atonement of Christ Jesus. I can not except that we are at fault for some insane radical who observed one dance and assumed that it was indicative of an entire culture or religion. for give me if I have misunderstood your point.

Lance Roberts said...

It all gets back to sin and culture in the end. Dancing is a sin, because it is immodest behavior, and the bible commands modesty (like all of God's laws, to glorify God (which should increase our joy)). Christians are commanded to take dominion over culture, not to conform to it; we're to conform to Christ. The Christian culture is based on obedience, and dominion is exercised by that obedience. It is one of the tools that God has given us to glorify him (and of course, he's given us the Holy Spirit to enable us to obey him).

Josh said...

As a wet behind the ears pastor of my own church I find these discussions always helpful.

I minister in an area where all they do for Christians is have dances and social activities, with very little emphasis on the Word.

I understand that there is freedom in Christ - but I personally feel that while I have the liberty to partake in some things the timing is completely wrong.

I honestly feel that because of how worldly the church has become Christians need to re-evaluate their conduct, and in the current situation we face today be willing to put a moratorium on some of our liberties in order to refocus on the cross of Christ and what that requires.

I think of John the Baptist and while he could have lived comfortably - he didn't - he gave up all to preach the Kingdom of God.

We are not losing a battle by giving up our liberties IMO, I believe we are putting aside what is necessary today in order to return to Holiness.

Preserving our liberties to me is a distraction and a hindrance from what really needs to happen in the church today and that is not to say that one day they can't be restored but until such a day comes...

Lance Roberts said...

Jagis:

You must not have noticed the other sin that the Moslim mentioned about the dance, 'lips pressed to lips'. It certainly doesn't seem like any of the teens he mentioned were married, and the law of God is written in all men's hearts, so he was just recognizing sin, and calling it that (even if he was messed up (in fact dead) spiritually).

centuri0n said...

Phil:

Dancing is a sin. You read it here first.

Dave said...

Paul: I'd call that a false comparison. My church doesn't generally have a late-night party for Easter; it's usually a very sedate and reverent morning church service. I think that's the difference--church service. This NYE event is not intended or officially called a church service.

If I throw a party for my Christian friends, I'm going to "advertise it" more like the Red Hot Bash than like my church's Sunrise Service. Maybe that's just me.

Enoch said...

Frank and Dan,
As I read Phil's post and comments over at Frank's blog, I am struck by how the question of location and pagan perception of it is near the heart of this argument. And I would agree: the world sees a difference between the church getting together and a get together at the church.
It is that perceptive element--what the pagans see--which is the real issue of this argument. Not how we finesse and nuance our reasoning, but ultimately how they come across to the world. I am not advocating that we are held hostage in all of our actions by the watching world, but we are to give it weight as we live in front of them, to be wise in what we do.
So a challenge to you (and others on your side of this argument): go interview 20 pagans. Show them the text of the advertisement. Feel free to explain what occurred. Then ask them how they view it.

Phil Johnson said...

Frank: there's still the question of, 'and then how do we live?' See: Phil interprets the Mars Hill poster (and I think Ingrid does, too, which is what set me to this matter in the first place) as saying 'we're not a church anymore: we're just a community center, and we're going to "transform our church into a posh dance club"'."

It's pretty hard to interpret any other way. Point me to anything on that website that makes any reference to Christ or His church. No hint that this is a church-sponsored event. It seems clearly to communicate an intention to take the night off from being a church and celebrate with a different kind of revelry, just like the rest of the world.

That is indeed what offends me most of all, because I can't reconcile it with 1 Corinthians 10:31 and the pattern we have in Scripture. When the Corinthian love feasts became "me first" celebrations—with the emphasis on the revelry per se and not the reason for it—Paul rebuked them. I think it's worth guarding these things with a little extra care, so that our focus on Christ doesn't get blurred.

That said, it's a valid point to say that what piqued my outrage is the poster/website and the way the event was advertised, not any personal knowledge of what transpired at the event itself. I wasn't there. They may have had a 30-minute prayer and testimony time before or after the dance. I haven't actually heard whether that happened or not, or whether Christ got more honor on the evening in question than He was given in the publicity leading up to it. I'm open to hearing about that. But the event's publicity still offends me, and I have little doubt that the event itself would have offended me also.

Anyway, this is not about showing joy versus playing funeral. It's about how we express our joy. I'm suggesting that it's inappropriate for the church body to come together to express "joy" without any reference whatsoever to Christ—without, in fact, making Him the center of the whole celebration—especially if the celebration is deliberately loaded with the symbols of worldly merry-making.

Anyway, I'd love to answer every comment, but I'm off to celebrate the day with my family. I'll catch up with y'all later.

Keep it nice.

Grace said...

"If you took the poster:

http://www.redhotbash.com/

and replaced New's Year Eve with Easter, would this conversation be the same? Do churches market Easter the same way they do New Years? If not, why not?"

New Year's is not a Christian holiday. Easter and Christmas are holy days for us. New Year's is just a civil holiday. It's an extra day off from work. Unless I missed memo somewhere...

Johnny Dialectic said...

Dan wrote: "Can the church have only one kind of meeting, to play "funeral"?

I don't have any idea what this means, especially in light of what I actually wrote. My point was the very opposite. It's man made methods that are dead. The power of God through the Word and Spirit is the most alive thing in all creation. That's what the church should be about. That's what we should pray the assembly experience. That's what we should pray the unsaved will see and hear.

What kind of funeral is that now?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Do we have a winner here or are we still engaged in an emergent conversation? ;-)

Wake me up when it's over and tell me what the consensus position is.

Tim said...

Frank,

I think I figured out Grace's question. She asked:

[QUOTE]
"The question we have to ask is this: should we do everything we are called to do, even if we know that some people will abuse those things because they are either insincere or immature, or both?"

I am honestly confused by this question. What are we called to do that is insincere or immature? If someone could elucidate further, I'd appreciate it.
[/QUOTE] [bold added]

I think she got mixed up on the word "they".

She thought you meant:
"we know that some people will abuse those things because [those things] are either insincere or immature, or both?"

You meant:
"we know that some people will abuse those things because [those people] are either insincere or immature, or both?"

Grace, is that right?

centuri0n said...

I hate it when you're busy, big guy.

The web site, btw, says this:

[QUOTE]
COME BUST A MOVE ON THE ENORMOUS DANCE FLOOR WHEN THE BALLARD CAMPUS TRANSFORMS INTO A POSH CLUB TO CELEBRATE THE NEW YEAR. A SMOKING BAND, TASTY DESSERTS, A CHAMPAGNE TOAST AT MIDNIGHT – MARS HILL HAS NEVER SEEN A PARTY LIKE THIS.
[/QUOTE]

(the caps are all theirs. sorry everyone)

And then again this:

[QUOTE]
We’ll be transforming our auditorium into a Red Hot Spot, bringing in an enormous dance floor, refreshments, dessert, champagne, photos in an awesome backdrop designed for the event and all the noise-making party favors you could want. At midnight, countdown with 1000 other revelers with fireworks live from Seattle’s Space Needle on the big screens. This is going to be an unforgettable party. Get ready to sizzle!
[/QUOTE]

With all due respect, it doesn't say they will "transform their church": it says they will "transform their facility" -- their "auditorium".

That's not the same thing -- and to say it is trades on the two meanings of "church", one being "people of God" and the other being "building where the people of God meet".

I'll hold off on other comments until/unless I can get a clarification on the non-liturgical celebration thing.

centuri0n said...

Tim's clarification is exactly right, btw.

Al said...

Al is all on about how this topic sort of makes the FV/post-millenial case pretty vividly – that somehow escatology is the real reason some people are so glum about joy. Yeah, Al?

Yeah… and no.

I do (obviously) think that eschatology is part of this, since I think the consequences of the gospel have as much to do with the here and now as they do with the hither and yon. But one can hold to all manner of beliefs that do not work themselves out practically.

The idea that the church cannot meet to have a party reflects, at least in part, that one believes the Church should be busy about other things. Like ministry? I would say that a consequence of the gospel is that singing Christmas songs around a piano with a glass of Shiraz in hand is ministry, bringing the kingdom to bare on all of life.

Lance Roberts said...

Since "Wine is a mocker" it IS NOT a ministry tool. It only destroys, not edifies.

Grace said...

Thanks for the response, Frank! That helped.

However... I think I'm missing something still. Both sides are right.

Fun activities, like Wii parties, Halo tournaments, and ski trips, can do wonders for Christian unity and build genuine friendships and bonds among the body. I don't even have a problem with dancing, as long as the music is clean, the clothing modest, and the dancing is appropriate (country line dancing is a lot of fun. And I'm a Baptist!)

That can't be all you do as a body. Just fun doesn't edify. Bible studies, apologetics classes, and special worship services are important for growth. Knowledge of the Word prevents heresy and disunity. We are His children, and our priority is knowing Him.

I just think God smiles on both the laughter, inside jokes, and fun memories that His children make at a Wii party AND on the knitted brows, deep discussion, and new knowledge of the Word gained during a Bible study.

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!" Psalm 133:1

Grace said...

Tim- exactly! Thank you! I just read it wrong the first eighteen times. :-)

Paul said...

So we should not have a celebration on Easter that would compare with New Year's?

What is the motivation behind doing one and not the other?

To me it's the difference between the church joining the culture and the culture joining the church.

The world nows that Christians observe Easter. Why not show the world we celebrate Easter with the same joyous and loving festivities as those displayed on New Year's. Would that not be a better example (light) to the world?

Stephen Newell said...

Mr. Turk and Grace,

I think Grace was confused about the direction of your "insincere" comment. Grace confused the "what" with the "who." That is, you were talking about the abusers and Grace confused that with what we are called to do.

Grace, Mr. Turk did not say that what we are called to do is insincere and immature, rather he said that those who abuse what we are called to do are insincere and immature.

Example: ministers are called to preach the Gospel, right? Well, can we say that "ministers" such as Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, etc. are "sincere and mature" believers? I think this is the kind of distinction Mr. Turk is making here.

Now, before we get off on a tangent, I'm dousing that can of worms with gasoline and burning it. Nothing more to discuss there. Continue with the excellent discussion previously. I'm learning a ton.

SolaMeanie said...

Josh,

Exactly my point all along in this discussion, occasional joking remarks aside. In all the argument over what constitutes sin etc..the important point often gets buried i.e. what is best to further the Gospel?

I do not agree that non-intoxicated use of alcohol is sinful. I do not agree that dancing in and of itself is necessarily sinful. That depends on the individual and what is going on within them. I can assure you that in the rare times where I have tried to dance, copulation is the last thing on my mind. Falling flat on my face is more of a worry. If someone has issues with lust, by all means then, don't do the Lambada. This is an issue of conscience, not a one size fits all.

The issue really should be for all of us . . . what brings God glory, and what best furthers the Gospel? What best furthers our testimony to a lost world. Far from being sanctimonious platitudes, these are very real concerns. One doesn't have to think a sip of Rutherford Hill Merlot or doing the Foxtrot is sinful to be concerned whether one's exercise of freedom to do so puts a stumbling block in someone else's way.

steve said...

Steve wrote: Maybe I'm missing the points being made around here (Frank, I got lost trying to follow your most recent comment), but it seems to me that church is not the place to be a student of culture.


Frank wrote in response: But to your point, where did you buy your clothes? What kind of food do you eat? Do you drive or take some kind of mass transit? ("Mass transit" injected into the conversation to get the rabid anti-catholics completely derailed)

Unless you make all your own clothes, grow all your own food, only cook at home, and never leave your 40 acres of victory except to go to church, and never look to the left or the right on your round ttrip, I suggest to you that you are a novice student of culture. You have to be -- you live here, wherever "here" is.


I believe you missed my point, Frank. I was stating that church itself is not the place to be a student of culture. I did not outright deny altogether the need to be a student of culture.

You've painted me as cloistering myself to 40 acres of victory. I never said such. That makes your reply a nonresponse.

centuri0n said...

Wine is a sin and dancing is a sin.

Right here, Phil -- not one of my readers bringing it up.

DJP said...

EnochFrank and Dan...So a challenge to you (and others on your side of this argument)....

I have a "side"?

/c:

centuri0n said...

Steve:

What is the church? That is: does it exist apart from human beings?

Johnny Dialectic said...

Cent wrote: With all due respect, it doesn't say they will "transform their church": it says they will "transform their facility" -- their "auditorium".

I don't think that nit can be picked. The ad clearly conveys that the church (people) will be "reveling" just like the world usually does, so come on in. Parsing the text of an advertisement isn't getting to the heart of the matter.

Phil does: "It seems clearly to communicate an intention to take the night off from being a church and celebrate with a different kind of revelry, just like the rest of the world."

That's the impression I got, too.

Strong Tower said...

lance demonstrates what is on topic. How in the Word of God did dance ever become a sin. Is clothing a sin? Are games of chance, like say soccer? Is eating. Paul said, "I am convinced that nothing in and of itself is sin."

Are parties a sin? Well then trash the feast days and declare God the tempter of man with evil.

Simply astonishing.

I will ask this again, here as I did at Cent's because it was from my perspective the question that he was asking, just who is defining what is modesty for the church. Al already demonstrated that dance is not sinful, yet, you have the "worldly" advice that it is. So, just who is defining the proper uses of the things which God has given us for our enjoyment.

To the unclean, all things are unclean. And, they may wish to enslave themselves to them even by abstension, but I with Paul will not be mastered by any of them, but will over come evil with good.

SolaMeanie said...

Lance,

With all due respect, what did Jesus make during the wedding at Cana? It wasn't Welch's Grape Juice. If "wine is a mocker" is tantamount to all usage of wine is a sin, then Jesus is responsible for leading people to sin by making wine out of water. And contrary to the opinions expressed in some circles, it was NOT unfermented. Ask Dr. Wayne House about that subject sometime.

At the stress of banging a gong, I think the argument over wine and cloghopping is peripheral to the real issue, and that is what furthers the Gospel among an unbelieving world? Will the world around me think the Gospel I preach is rendered unbelievable by me having a glass of Pinot Noir? In most cases, doubtful. In some cases, the unbeliever might think it hypocritical, but ONLY if I preached against demon rum and then proceeded to down a shot of Captain Morgan in his eyesight.

But if my downing a shot of Captain Morgan is going to cause a weaker brother to stumble, or to prevent an unbeliever from coming to saving faith, then I will forgo my right.

While I am at it, please take note -- everyone -- about who the weaker brother is in Scripture.

Tim said...

Phil,

I'm not quite clear on your view.

Part of what piqued your outrage was that it seems Christ was not being explicitly honored. That's based on the advertisement--since you weren't there, and you realize there could have been prayer and testimony and all that at the actual event.

I'm wondering...Earlier dac asked whether it would be appropriate to "get together to watch a football game in the big screen projector in the sanctuary on a Thursday night". Similarly, your comment makes me wonder: What about Superbowl parties?

(I want to put aside the issue of inappropriate advertisements and the like. It might be a very bad idea to show the Superbowl at a church, because of sexually-charged ads and half-time shows and the like. But let's suppose that the Superbowl went through some reform, and was entirely family-friendly.)

1.) In your view, could a church hold a Superbowl party?

2.) If it did, would the promotion have to include explicit honor to Christ? Would the event have to include a time for giving testimonies, or some other explicitly spiritual activity?

3.) Does doing all to the glory of God mean that we have an explicitly spiritual element in our activities? A "sacred" component, if you will, included in what would otherwise be a "secular" activity?


You can see where I'm going with this. I'm struggling with this question, because I don't want to be guilty of putting a divide between the sacred and the secular. I want to live my entire life in such a way that whether I'm mowing my lawn or playing games or eating or drinking or having a NYE party or doing any other "secular" activity, it is to the glory of God.

dac said...

Lance:

Best post all day. Thank you.

dac, a.k.a. "that person"

Al said...

Lance,

Does wine always mock or is that a proverb of some kind?

al sends

Gilbert said...

Great job, Pyros. Lots to think about here.

Phil, you backed up your statements extremely well with Scripture. Does a church who holds a football championship party (so this blog doesn't get sued for saying "SB" ;-) ) count as working with the devil watching a bunch of people mercilessly beating each other to get a small amount of pigskin over a painted white line (or electronically enhanced, if watching on TV these days)? I say this:

First, when the Ark of the Lord came into the city of David, David decided to not only dance...but in his underwear (Aside: any Pyros caught doing that will be beaten with DJP's merciless pizza toppings)! And we then read of someone named Uzzah who, as the oxen stumbled bringing it in, reached and took hold of the Ark.

Question: who was the Lord so angry at that he killed him?

And when Davis's wife got mad at him for that act, didn't see say that he'd become even more undignified than that, in overwhelming joy of the Lord?

Now, please...nobody go out in their underwear and dance for God. Really. My family would be embarrassed and disown me. However, in the text we read they had percussion back then (simple; tambourines for a beat), and CYMBALS! Those things are LOUD!

So when and where to draw the line, Phil? Your Biblical exegis is strong. I defer, in part, to Frank and Tim Challies' arguments that we need discernment in the church, something it has always had great trouble with, and arguably even more so these days.

Dance to Brittney in church? No.
Dance to the Lord because someone has written music to dance to like they did thousands of years ago? You bet.

Just with my clothes on.

donsands said...

"After the religious service in the church ended, boys and girls from among the members began singing hymns, while others prayed, and we proceeded through a side door onto the dance floor that was connected to the prayer hall by a door. . . Every boy took the hand of a girl, including those who had just been singing hymns!"

Wacky. Not my cup of tea.

I love to worship God with the body of Christ. I love to hear His truth exposited. I love to pray with my brothers and sisters. And after a couple hours we disburse into the world to carry the Gospel, and to live for Christ, hopefully a little more confident, and edified in His truth, and built up in His love.
Surely we can dance in the right atmosphere, and even drink wine. though to excess is a sin, and to even cause someone to stumble would be a sin.
But there's a time to be sorrowful, and a time to dance, but the dancing will be for Christ and His pleasure and glory.

"I'm suggesting that it's inappropriate for the church body to come together to express "joy" without any reference whatsoever to Christ—"

Amen. And it's really impossible, if you think about the Holy Sprirt being the soul of the Body of Christ, for we are His "flesh and bones".
Not that we can't stray and wander, but when we do our joy will be superficial at best.

Al said...

dac,

Best post all day? Hmmm... you might want to check you discernment meter...

al sends

Enoch said...

Dan,
I see broadly two sides: those arguing that the RedHotBash crossed some "no-go" line and those arguing that the line is improperly placed.
Though you may be playing the devil's advocate, you seem to argue the second side, I the first.
"Side" is not meant in a pejorative way--just a way to note to whom I am appealing. Apologies if I erred.

Lance Roberts said...

Strong Tower:

Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5:21

Some things are sins, the Bible doesn't teach situational ethics.

Sola Meanie: The same word is used to cover both fermented and unfermented wine in the Bible. More detail could be given, but Phil declared that off topic.

what furthers the Gospel among an unbelieving world?

Obedience furthers the Gospel among an unbelieving world.

DJP said...

Well, I'm on Phil and Frank's side.

Al said...

Hey Lance,

Does wine cheer the heart of God?

Did God tell us to bring strong drink or whatever our hearts desire into his house for a feast?

Again... is wine a mocker or is that a proverb?

al sends

Lance Roberts said...

Proverbs is divinely inspired revelation from God. They're not Ben Franklin quotes.

Strong Tower said...

Yes, lance we know that some things are sinful acts, but that being said, where is dancing in your list, or wine bibing for that matter?

The passover took place in the Spring, the grape harvest in late summer early fall. Have you ever put grape juice in a wine skin and kept it unfermented for over six months with out some form of preservative? Pheh!

Going beyond what Scripture teaches, or to pararequote, the teacher who uses unequal scales is the oppressor.

DJP said...

So anyone who has enemies is displeasing to God (Proverbs 16:7)?

Good grief. Someone link to my Proverbs seminar, stat!

Tim said...

Lance,

On the word "revellings" in Gal. 5:21:

http://net.bible.org/strong.php?id=2970
"1) a revel, carousal
1a) a nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honour of Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of male and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry"

And the NET Bible's translation footnote says:
"tn Or “revelings,” “orgies” (L&N 88.287)."

Hmmm. Methinks you might not be exercising exegetical rigor in applying that word to RedHotBash?

dac said...

Al


sarcasm Al, sarcasm.

I figured that answering it would diverge the conversation too far and in the end not correct his lack of biblical knowledge.

dac, a.k.a. "Astute Reader" (phil said so, it must be true)

Al said...

Lance,
Would your reading of them be inspired as well or is there a possibility that you have genre confusion?


Well, I gotta run and do something. Ministry!

Going to pick up a car for a guy who just got out of prison.

Can't buy him a drink though… he is on probation.

al sends

Strong Tower said...

DJP-

I'm still trying to guess whose on the bottom of this balancing act.

And, sorry all, we were warned not to turn this into a discussion of to drink or not to drink....

SolaMeanie said...

Yes, Phil did declare that off topic, but it will be difficult as those things are connected with the topic at hand. If those things weren't involved, there wouldn't be a topic to discuss. The key is not making references a long bunny trail to the main issue.

What is your definition of "revelry?" Is it:

a nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honour of Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of male and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry ?

Is that really what is going on here, and what we are discussing?

Again, I do not think the issue is, or ought to be, whether a group of believers having a New Years' Party is sinful. The debate over what is permissible never ends. My issue is whether it is wise in view of the larger goal -- the Gospel.

Al said...

dac,

You gotta put the smiley face in there.

:-)

see how much that helps?

al sends

Daryl said...

"Since "Wine is a mocker" it IS NOT a ministry tool."

Since when does everything a Christian individual or group does or uses have to be ministry?

Seems like that's where this divide is falling. Those agin the party are decrying its effectiveness or appropriateness for spreading the gospel.
Those for are saying "What's wrong with having fun?"
The issue with all this sin talk can't be the thing itself, that is drinking and dancing, but rather its use/misuse. Just so, the various questions about why this is an issue just because it happened at the church building rather than somewheres else are being avoided or given some lame "the building is holy" answer.

So the question remains : Are the activities being advertised sin in and of themselves? If not, what's the problem?
Is the location of the event the issue? If not, what's the problem?

Lance Roberts said...

The word used for 'dance' in the story of David, means 'to keep time with your feet'. He was leading a praise worship service, no doing the Great Watusi.

He also wasn't dancing in his underwear, he was wearing a religious garment.

And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. 2 Sam 6:14

SolaMeanie said...

Wowzers. (I said it that way to distinguish myself from Mr. Pagitt)

By the time I type out a response, someone else has already posted the quote I was typing out.

I think I'd best shut up and stay out of this.

centuri0n said...

.






____________________

MEANIGFUL
INTERLUDE
____________________

A little bird just told me a few things, and I just wanted to drop them out here for the sake of clarity.

[1] Phil isn't ducking out today, or being evasive. He's with his family at Disney, so let the fireworks begin. I'm particularly interested in Lance's take on that.

[2] I'll bet that, when it all gets said and done, he and I agree on a lot more -substance- in this matter than we would with many of the commenters here.

[3] When I win the lotto, I'm going to move Dan's family and My family to be closer to Phil's family so we can show all of you what a real party looks like.

Lots of loose ends in the meta right now. Mostly people who have some thinkin' to do. I'll be back this afternoon.

stratagem said...

Just for the record, I'm on God's side. You just have to guess which side that is. :)

And I still like the idea of a puppy-petting zoo in church, if for no other reason than it would embarrass the "cool church" crowd. Wish I had thought of it, instead of Cent.

Daryl said...

Lance,
Has anyone ever not thought that dancing, at its heart, is "keeping time with your feet". That's gotta be the funniest thing I've read in a long long time.

Just because the world smuts it up is hardly a reason to suddenly declare it off limits...

SolaMeanie said...

Lance,

David was leaping, not patting his foot. He is also said to have exposed his nakedness. Let's not get so over the top in defending our positions that we begin nearing mishandling Scripture.

Can we please look beyond the dance? Can we please look beyond the hooch? Because the dance and the hooch are not the issues here.

In fact, I think this all sort of illustrates part of my concern. While we -- believers -- are yelling at each other over stuff like this, I think we risk making a needless spectacle of ourselves. This is a family argument, unfortunately played out before outside spectators. This is exactly why we need to be careful in what we do and say. Why give ammunition to our critics?

I'd rather die on the hill of the substitutionary atonement before I'd die on the hill over a glass of wine.

Grace said...

For the record, I think my comment about Wii parties and Bible studies is relevant to this discussion. It's about the line between what is enjoying or abusing Christian privileges and fellowship. Isn't that what we're discussing?

Gilbert said...

Lance,

NIV plainly states in 2 Samuel:

14 David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might...

20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!"

David was dancing (you contradicted yourself in your own post) and his wife wouldn't have been unhappy if he were dressed appropriately. David doesn't deny it (verse 21), and in verse 22 he says:

22 "And I will yet be more vile than thus..." (KJV)

Vile. Pretty strong word there.

Daryl said...

Thank you Sola [stands aside, bowing deeply]

Puritan said...

Okay, if Mars Hill put up a New Years Eve Poster “Come along for a New Years Eve all night prayer meeting with special preaching (not by Driscoll or alike) sessions on the Doctrines of Hell, and true Repentance”, I doubt it would have been so popular. Why? Because to lure the goats in on New Years Eve, you have to entice them with things for goats, otherwise they’ll just go to somewhere else on New Years Eve for their goat food. ‘Where your treasure is, your heart is also.’

The bottom line here is that the idea behind having dances in churches is that if you don’t offer carnal things, the carnal people won’t come.

If a church has a dance then either: We say “I’m sorry no scantly clad, or sensual dress or sensual dancing,” in which case we have a poor imitation of the world.

Or: We allow, actively promote and give our approval to sin.

Make no mistake when someone dresses vain or sensual, they are making a conscious effort to try and tempt others into sin and make them fall.

Gilbert said...

Solameanie, arguably Team Pyro's greatest meanie, said:

"I'd rather die on the hill of the substitutionary atonement before I'd die on the hill over a glass of wine."

Point. I'll shut up now.

Grace said...

Wanna know what I really think?

"This is a family argument, unfortunately played out before outside spectators."

Exactly.

dac said...

al

;-) to me defeats the purpose of sarcasm.

;) is what I should of put after my first post (fight fight fight) - it was a joke.

What I said to lance was not a joke

Daryl said...

Puritan, you said:

"Make no mistake when someone dresses vain or sensual, they are making a conscious effort to try and tempt others into sin and make them fall."

As a man with a wife...you don't understand women if you really believe that. Often that is true, more often, it is not. (Doesn't make it right in either case, I'm just sayin')

Further,

You keep ignoring the fact that this little Mars Hill shindig was, as far as anyone knows, never intended as an outreach to "the goats", so don't treat the discussion that way.

Does anyone get the impression that too many of us Christians shelter ourselves to the point that we really don't know when the world is acting blatantly sinfully, and when it really just wants to have fun?
I'm not saying that to get on Mars Hill, but rather to get onto the commenters that are assuming that "worldly fun" is always about sex and drunkeness.

It's not.

Bill said...

I'm having a hard time formulating my answer to this because I truly feel it is a case-by-case scenario. There are guidelines and boundaries laid out God's Word, but mostly for me it boils down to motive. What's the motive for gathering together? If the motivation for gathering together is not to exhalt Christ then it should not be portrayed as 'church'. I believe as members of the body of Christ we should keep ourselves 'unspotted' from the world.

Please don't taze me bros but here's my .02

I am a big supporter of the Upward Sports Ministry in our local body. I have coached in it for the last 4 years. Yes, our building has a 'family life center' in it (I prefer the word gymnasium) and we have over 120 kids enrolled in Upward Basketball this year. Every practice (which is once a week) we memorize scripture and I teach them from the Bible -we also practice and learn basketball. Games are on Saturday's and we also have prayer and testimonies before/during every game. I don't believe this to be wrong. I thank God that He has given us such a wonderful facility to accomodate this. If we were 'doing basketball' for the sake of sport - without any Biblical teaching - then yes I would be against it.

I may be stretching it here but, I figure I'm a member of the body of Christ wherever I am, regardless of its in a building with a steeple on it or not, so my behavior inside the 'church' building should be no different than outside of it.

bill


I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Tim said...

On dancing-is-a-sin:

This discussion is cluttering the combox & distracting from the issue. We should let it drop. Lance can be content to have registered his belief that dancing is a sin, period. Just about everyone else probably disagrees. Regardless, we can still focus on the broader issues raised by Phil & Frank. (My 2 cents, anyway.)


Puritan,

"The bottom line here is that the idea behind having dances in churches is that if you don’t offer carnal things, the carnal people won’t come. "

That's assuming the purpose of Mars Hill's NYE party was evangelistic. What if it was for the congregation, not the community at large?

"If a church has a dance then either: We say “I’m sorry no scantly clad, or sensual dress or sensual dancing,” in which case we have a poor imitation of the world."

I don't dance to imitate the world, any more than I drink coffee, fly a kite, or play Settlers of Catan to imitate the world. They're good things, received with thanksgiving. (1 Tim. 4:4)

Daryl said...

Tim,

I'm sorry, but Settlers if Catan is not of God...it is evil at it's core, now Monopoly, now there's a Godly game...

Puritan said...

Gilbert, if you're using David dancing as a proof-text to hold a worldly dance, then who did David dance with?

Gilbert said...

Puritan,

>Gilbert, if you're using David
>dancing as a proof-text to hold a
>worldly dance, then who did David
>dance with?

I'm sorry, I guess I didn't make this clear. I was proof-texting that dancing in the Lord for joy is fine. David clearly (I hope) danced out of his abundant joy in the Lord.

Tim said...

Daryl,

What?!? A materialistic game like Monopoly is Godly? Wash your mouth out, sir!

I've always seen in Settlers a strong metaphor for the building up of the Body of Christ. Settlements and roads are extended, connected together in an interwoven community. They mature into Cities, built on the Rock and on the wheat (fruit?) that we harvest. And the robber is clearly a metaphor for Satan, attempting to come in and deprive of our blessings. And Knights rebuke the robber...They can be angels. Or something.

Lance Roberts said...

Another verse: Romans 13:13

Let us walk becomingly, as in the day; not in revelling and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy. (ASV)

Notice the italicized part, there is a way that Christians should live their lives. It's not all relative.

Barnes Notes:

Revelling; denoting the licentious conduct, the noisy and obstreperous mirth, the scenes of disorder and sensuality, which attend luxurious living.

Jamieson:

varied forms of intemperance; denoting revels in general, usually ending in intoxication.

Note in Calvin:

varied forms of intemperance; denoting revels in general, usually ending in intoxication.
- Bloomfield


I'm sure I could come with with more if I was at home with my bible study programs there, the net doesn't have a lot of great sites, and of course I have limited time to search for these.

Like a lot of things, I don't think you can always come up with a strict definition, I think we should just be so conservative that we're inside the lines that God has drawn, instead of trying to push the limits of liberty. Remember Nothing is Neutral, God is sovereign over everything, and we're to go so far as to take every thought into captivity. Jesus was much more extreme than people give him credit for.

Daryl said...

Puritan,

Are Christians allowed to sing non-Christian songs? After all, the only references in Scripture to singing are singing to the Lord...

Tim...Monopoly...metaphor for the return of the Lord..."they will be buying and selling...and then the end will come" LOL.

Daryl said...

Lance,

All your references go directly to intoxication. Whoever said drunkeness was OK. What does that contribute to this discussion?

steve said...

Frank wrote: Steve:

What is the church? That is: does it exist apart from human beings?



So the talking past one another continues.

I'll try to be a bit clearer: No, the church does not exist apart from human beings. However, the place (whatever you want to call it) at which we gather to worship, to learn about God, etc. does have certain functions in and of itself.

Among those functions is to feed the flock, to edify it, etc. That place--again, whatever you want to call it--is to be Godcentric and Wordcentric. Whatever is done there is to be done with discernment, with the intent of glorifying God.

I'll step out of the conversation here. I'm not bright enough to engage any further.

Lance Roberts said...

Puritan:

That's a good point, I'll remember that one.

daryl:

Barnes quote doesn't include anything about intoxication.

Tim:

You're right that the most important thing to me is getting the truth put out, and I'm satisfied with that. I've found every man will do what is right in his own eyes, I'm just called to speak truth at all times and to defend it irregardless of disagreement.

Jeremy Felden said...

Lance,

Wine is not a ministry tool? Someone should have told our Lord that. Would have saved us all a lot of bother.

SolaMeanie said...

Each of us considering these questions might help in resolving, or at least understanding, this little kerfuffle:

What is the "church?" Is it the building or is it the people?

What is the "assembly?"

What is the purpose of both the "church" and the "assembly?"

Is a group of believers all together at once necessarily a worship service or an evangelistic event?

Have we gotten so market-driven and program-oriented that we think every get-together of believers is an official event for the purpose of church business, be it worship or evangelism?

What constitutes Christian fellowship?

And yes, as has been stated, what is the "motive" of said gathering?

I've now asked so many questions I feel like the spirit of Brian McLaren is trying to possess me. Kidding aside, becoming clear on these questions will help clarify everything else.

centuri0n said...

Puritan made this comment, and it deserves a response:

| Perhaps I'm hearing you wrong
| here but, Jesus saved us from
| what we were and gave us eternal
| life. We get to learn more about
| Him, and praise Him. Isn’t Jesus
| enough? Why do we need to add
| more things to stop us getting
| bored? Trying to make it more
| entertaining is creating false fire
| as a substitute for joy in our Lord.

There are a lot of things I want to say about this, among them being, "Jesus is not a TV set or a channel on DiSH network, and we, as his disciples, are not saved from boring conventional TV to enthralling HDTV." But I will leave that as a hypothetical thing I might have said rather than my actual response.

Jesus is more than enough. When we think of Him as Lord and Christ, He is totally sufficient. But here's the thing, sticking to my Gal 5 example:

[QUOTE]
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
[/QUOTE]

And someone might come upon this from the "no dancin'" tribe and say, "this is exactly what Paul was talking about – Jesus saves us from doing sinful things to spiritual living where He and the Spirit are enough."

I'd leave it to them to work that out – because what Paul is saying here is that we are saved from one kind of living, under the Law, because we were lawless and condemned, to another kind of living which is not driven by lawless desires but by gracious and thankful desires.

You know: this is the book of Galatians where those who demand the circumcision are the ones to whom it is said that Christ is of no use.

Christ is sufficient to save, but we have to show that off somehow. Christ does something frankly world-shattering, and then somehow it seems some want that to be a spectator sport rather than being, well, like a brother to Christ who is the first born among many, doing what His Father said to do, and (as Paul said) filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body.

Christ is sufficient, and we have something to do which "fills up what is lacking" in Christ's sufficiency. That's the Christian life. Sometimes it gets to be enjoyable – like Paul anticipating his fellowshipping with the Romans. Sometimes it's a little more somber – like Paul writing to Timothy for the last time. There's a wide palette in the Christian life, and all I'm saying is that it's OK to paint with the appropriate colors.

Strong Tower said...

He also wasn't dancing in his underwear, he was wearing a religious garment.


And just what religious garment would that be, seeing that David was not a priest? Could it have been, the King's Ephod as in the case of Saul's Ephod, a mark of Kingship, not priesthood? But, in this case it is neither, for text defines it as being of linen.

If David was wearing a religious garment, he was indeed going over the top. He was not levite.

The context is clear he was in his underware. But, then, clothing is a sign of shame, isn't it? Nakedness is what we have made it, because in the beginning, what God made it was good. Even so, discretion is honorable, even if without efficacy.

Thanks daryl, I guess people are just so blinded by their sin that they see everthing that looks like it as it.

I suppose when we ask the unbeliever to come and share a thanksgiving meal with us, we should be sure to carefully portion out no more than the necessary caloric need, for anything above that is gluttony...

Now, if you went to your neighbors house and joined him for a meal and he set before you a glass of wine, it would be sin to refuse it as is definitively declared in Scripture. If we offered wine at our banquets, and this is what Jesus did at the Passover feast, which we now dramatize as the Supper, would we be portraying Christ as a tempter?

Again, who is telling us what we must do to be Christian? Does the Scripture forbid the consumption of wine or parties, no lance it doesn't. But, it does forbid the merchandizing of Christ, me thinks.

Interesting how our own legalistic sins have taken us captive so that it is the world that defines us, and not we.

DJP said...

You know what's kinda sad to me, seriously?

Evidently, for all our readership, Teampyro doesn't even have one regular attendant of Driscoll's church among its commenters.

dac said...

djp

no, but you have a lot of Southern Baptists.....

Must be why we are all drinking and dancing...

SolaMeanie said...

I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.

Thank you, Apostle Paul. Game, set and match.

Strong Tower said...

That's because everybody here is over fifty

DJP said...

That's because everybody here is over fifty

To coin a phrase --

Ow. Ow. Ow.

dac said...

strong tower

ouch

dac, a.k.a. "Clown" (just ask Frank)

dac said...

SM

Great Bible Passage. I am fairly sure both sides could exegete that to support their position.

dac, a.k.a "emerg**** heretic"

Daryl said...

Sola,

So the thing to be demonstrated here is whether or not a Christian brother stumbled over the Mars Hill thing.

And I'd suggest the answer can only be arrived at by Mars Hill itself, not us onlookers.

centuri0n said...

Steve:

that building never once worshipped Christ, nor is it able to do so.

And that building, as a matter of fact, is an artifact of culture.

Your original objection was that we as the church are not to be students of culture. The problem is that we don't have a choice about that. We are students of the culture.

We are going to learn something from the culture. Some people have decided that it's their only valid tutor, and that's simply denying the Gospel's power. Some have decided that if we can identify ways in which we are "like" the culture, we have to get out the hyssop and scrub it off -- and that's the same mistake as the first stood on its head. It's perceiving the value of the culture as greater than the redeeming power of the Gospel.

There may be other ways which someone might invent here to talk about this problem, but the way which seems right is the way which speaks, as I have said here, to the culture and through the culture -- because like the church, it is the human souls in the image of God which are the object of our concern.

It seems to me you -are- bright enough to engage this issue. You are bright enough to see what is at stake. But if you can see the stakes, you have to see -all- of them, and not just the one that seems safest and simplest to execute.

Daryl said...

Dac's having an identity crisis...

dac said...

daryl -

oh, I know who I am. No one else here does, but some of them think they do.

centuri0n said...

Sola:

I love it when someone declares they have won by citing the beginning of a section of discourse.

Was that the end of Paul's discourse of eating and drinking, or is that the first stage of his discussion to the Corinthians about eating and drinking? I ask because I think -- I think -- that Paul doesn't cut his nose off despite his face here. Paul doesn;t shut down meat-eating in Corinth and end the letter in 1 Cor 8:13.

I could be wrong. Is there a Chapter 9 and 10 in 1 Corinthians? If so, what do they say -- do they balance Chpt 8, or do they just go on to talk about sports or something?

DJP said...

DAC -- oh, I know who I am. No one else here does, but some of them think they do.

DAC = D. A. Carson?

SolaMeanie said...

Daryl,

Actually, Phil put it best in his post:

I'm doing this to try to extract the question of whether it's good to turn the church into a discotheque from the more volatile and not really essential question of teetotalism. So the latter subject is off limits in this thread, and let's be nice in the meta.

The meta got sidetracked and I didn't help any. As I said, it's a hard line to walk because the issue of "teetotalism" is by nature part of what was involved in the Mars Hill Saturday Night Fever.

Even if they had served sparkling grape juice instead of real champagne, the issue still would have been (and I have been asking since the beginning) -- was this the wisest thing to do in view of what we are supposed to be about?

Jonathan Moorhead said...

The story of Sayyid Qutb reminds me so much of that of Anton Lavey, the leader of the "Church of Satan." Lavey's experience with Christians assisted his path as well:

"On Saturday night, I would see men lusting after half-naked girls dancing at the carnival, and on Sunday morning when I was playing organ for tent-show evangelists at the other end of the carnival lot, I would see these same men sitting in the pews with their wives and children, asking God to forgive them and purge them of carnal desires. And the next Saturday they'd be back at the carnival or some other place of indulgence. I knew then that the Christian church thrives on hypocrisy, and that man's carnal nature will out no matter how much it is purged or scoured by any white-light religion" (Satanic Bible, intro).

Brendt said...

...when Paul preached at Mars Hill...

Paul preached at Mars Hill?!?! What a coup for Driscoll!

Oh, that Mars Hill -- never mind. ;-)

Daryl said...

Sola,

I, too, assisted in the off-tracking...

That said, the bit from Phil that you quoted sounds to me like the issue is dancing and it's relative merits within the body of Christ.

As has been stated, the question for Phil is, perhaps, if no dancing or champagne was available, is there still a problem?

Enoch said...

Frank,
To use culture, then: should we not pay attention to how the culture views our actions and our buildings?
I'm not buying your argument that we can divorce the culture's view of the activities that occur inside a structure with their view of the structure with such precision.
My whole take on the issue would be somewhat different if the location of the activity was moved to a culturally neutral location (from a pagan's perspective).

dac said...

djp

lol

and not David Allen Coe, either.

Yet does even my name actually tell you something about me (well, yes it would, but you still wouldn't know that from my name)

Brendt said...

I'm still not sure about the specific instance that raises this discussion, but something's stuck in my craw.

Phil, in this post, it seems you're using Qutb's perspective to bolster your argument. Yet you state yourself that Qutb "clearly" did not have a "fair and accurate" "perspective of Americans or Christians in general". It seems that such a man's perspective would be used moreso to argue against your point than for it.

I realize that this illustration is not your sole reasoning for objection, but it seems to me that it hurts your argument more than it hinders it.

Joanna Martens said...

YESSSSSS the great White.

Daryl said...

"but it seems to me that it hurts your argument more than it hinders it."

Ummm...come again? I'm thinking "helps" instead of "hinders"

Buck said...

Since rule #3 has long been abandoned by some, I'll pull a drive-by pile on for a moment...

Lance said:
"Remember Nothing is Neutral, God is sovereign over everything, and we're to go so far as to take every thought into captivity."

I agree, but am curious. Since wine and dancing have been pronounced inherently sinful, what about watching and -gasp- enjoying movies that glorify those very activities? Or any secular movie, for that matter?

Let's say, hypothetically of course, that my favorite movie glorified truancy, deceitfulness, disrespect for parents, pre-marital carnal knowledge and... dare i say, the Chicago Cubs, would that be sinful? Would that be taking every thought captive for the Lord?

What say you, Lance? Bueller?... Bueller?

Daryl said...

Buck,

Even the Cubs are OK, so long as you're not seen to be actually enjoying them...

Brendt said...

daryl,

You're right. My command of English failed me. (Which might be understandable if it wasn't my only language.)

What I meant to say was that Qutb's perspective hurts Phil's argument more than it helps it.

Lance Roberts said...

Good point Buck.

I get more strict on my movies all the time, and haven't edited that list in a few years. Thanks.

Al said...

Frank (wanted someone to notice this so I will) - When I win the lotto

Frank plays the lotto! Frank plays the lotto!

point, point, poooooint

I read somewhere that reveling should actually be translated "gambling." Gill, I think... or some other fella.

al sends

Kent McDonald said...

Solameanie said:
Have we gotten so market-driven and program-oriented that we think every get-together of believers is an official event for the purpose of church business, be it worship or evangelism?

What constitutes Christian fellowship?

To that I say Amen. Friends enjoying each others company need not be an evangelism tool or a worship service. All who are led by the Spirit of God will comport themselves in a Godly manner whether at work, at worship, doing evangelism, or simply enjoying the company of friends.

dac said...

Two Questions (for all)

Is it ever permissible for a church building to be used for a purpose other than "church" things (services, evangelistic ministries, etc)?

For example, could the gym at your church be used for a neighborhood (not church affiliated) basketball league on Tuesday nights? Or perhaps a non church/ non ministry affiliated community group use one of the rooms for it's monthly board meetings?


Second, is it permissible for Christians to get together to engage in church organized activities that have no spiritual connotation whatsoever. Say a bus trip to a major league baseball game, or sat am golf that even ends with a beer at the clubhouse? No overtly or covertly group religiosity whatsoever involved.

For me, the answer is yes to both.

If a church can be used for secular purposes, and if Christians can indeed upon occasion do strictly secular things, then what is the deal with Christians organizing a dance on New Years eve to have some fun together?

DJP said...

Thread of 1000 Comments.

Gilbert said...

Daryl,

"Even the Cubs are OK, so long as you're not seen to be actually enjoying them..."

Which given their run over the last 100 years, has been impossible to do.

And I'm an admitted Cubs fan. Gasp!

Al,

'I read somewhere that reveling should actually be translated "gambling."'

Source for this one. I "gamble" if I start dancing. No object within a mile is safe from me if I ever started.

Gahhh, I wanted to stay out of this, but...

We're missing the forest for the trees here, folks, which is why I wanted to stop posting on this myself. Sawing down one log isn't going to matter in a forest thousands of square miles in size...

Lance Roberts said...

Using that analogy:

We're called to saw down trees one at a time. God works through our little insignificant acts of obedience to further HIS aims. Like the common response to "Why pray or evangelize if God has already predetermined everything". Because God has ordained our prayers and evangelism to reach the lost, they're some of the mechanisms he chooses to use.

dac said...

= death by 1000 cuts?

Laura said...

For what it's worth, I would just like to mention that the types of music mentioned in the ad include "swing, latin, world, pop, and other varieties of music." Unless those "other varieties" include rap or hip-hop, there was probably very little "bumping and grinding" action.

SolaMeanie said...

Lance,

I think one problem is that you see disobedience where others do not concede that they are being disobedient. That is why I brought up what the Apostle Paul said about individual conscience. And that is also the source of the never ending argument.

I don't think dancing and teetotalling was intended to be the subject of this meta. Mea culpa for making comments in that direction.

SolaMeanie said...

Okay, enough is enough. If you really want this meta to strike close to home and fear in your hearts, just get a load of this.

Mwhahhah!

Lance Roberts said...

Sola:

I think the larger problem is that some people see there being nothing to obey, that everything is liberty. I don't have problem disagreeing on the details of obedience, and read this blog hoping (among other things) to finetune my orthopraxy (which I guarantee you needs an infinite amount of finetuning). I have a problem with people who think that 'Christ = no law', and that we can just go wild as long as we acknowledge Christ in our partying.

SolaMeanie said...

Lance,

In other words, antinomianism. I certainly don't fit in an antinomian category, nor do I think most people posting here fit in that category.

Believe me, I do appreciate your concerns. How many of us have been bugged when some women show up at church looking like they walked out of the red light district, or some guys trying to be hip show up with their pants pulled down so far that there isn't much left hidden? What is modesty? Indeed, some of those who argue for no standards know full well what they're doing, and enjoy pushing the envelope as far as they can. And when they do that, it makes me question how grounded they are in the love of Christ, choosing to stick their thumbs in peoples' eyes instead of pursuing unity in the bond of peace.

No one said this was an easy issue. But I think common sense ought to prevail in most cases.

Strong Tower said...

Headline, Crusaders Dispatch:
"Mariachi Praise Bands Banned"

This weeks "Culture in Review" stated that after much acrimony in debate over the proper type of music to be used in worship, it was decided by the We Rn't Them congregation to return to monotonal chants that includes only male voices of eunuchs, or so they claim (also to use paper not plastic, accoustic not electric, oil lamps not incandecent, bottled air unbreathed by Them, Latin only).

Many of the members objected to the modern music, others, that it was music, and modernism in general, either way it was deemed worldly. Long ago it seems that someone said that some music preferences are "evil" because pagans abused them. Since that time countless debates have raged over the issue. Surrending to the claims of observers that the congregation was hypocritical in its use of local music customs, after all the congregation itself teaches that the use of worldly devices is evil, they will return to the one true non-secular form of music. Anyone wishing to join the choir should contact Dr. Knipinsov.

On a more joyous and less painful note a new congregation has set up shop "downtown". They'r not sure about the truth, but they care how they look to the world. To sum up their overhead bulletin, "Being conformed to what the culture expects out of you makes us just like We R'nt Them, except that anyone is welcome, as long as you don't complain." "Since there is no substantive differences of note anyway," fadingly chimed bubbly twenty year old Church Planter Ted, "Kuul Zanctuary offers contemporary worship for whatever..."

While the debate over license and liberty will be raging at We Rn't Them for a long time to come no one cares at KUZ. Cuz, there is no message, no offense that should be taken, and if you're offended they know just where to send you.

Revved Shamie of WRT was quoted as saying, "I used to watch football and during commercials, I'd turn to the Mariachi Channel. It invaded my whole life, even leading me to love Curling. Now I am proud to wear my Christian Sports Only, "WWJQD" T-shirt I purchased from our local non-secular business retail attachment at the church. Outside my house my neighbor now knows just what would Jesus quit doing and where Mariachi Music can lead you."

When asked how a man can be born again, Revved Shamie responded. "Huh, I uh, I don't get into that...you know... I just do what's good..."

Al said...

Lance: "I have a problem with people who think that 'Christ = no law', and that we can just go wild as long as we acknowledge Christ in our partying."

Hey Brother,
Can you name anyone in this thread that has advocated any such thing? I don't think you are reading "people" in this thread rightly.

al sends

Travis said...

Thread of a 1,000 (mostly) unhelpful comments.

Strong Tower said...

Lance- you did mean anomianism, not anti-nomianism. Because one is as Jesus said, "I have not come to do away..." And the other is, ...woe to any who teach any of these little ones to break...

In the first place the bible requires obedience which you have mentioned. On the other it forbids disobedience. Related but not the same.

Jugulum said...

1001?

Gilbert said...

Sola, America's Favorite Meanie(tm)
said...

>Okay, enough is enough. If you
>really want this meta to strike
>close to home and fear in your
>hearts, just get a load of this.

>Mwhahhah!

Please.

Here, since you did THAT, let's truly descend into the world of debauchery.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uv380voDRE

I mean, can depravity get any worse?

SolaMeanie said...

Gilbert..

I feel sullied. :)) Seriously, I'd rather watch that bird instead of John Revolta.

Strong Tower,

Are you sure he meant "no Torah" versus "not under any law or moral constraint of any kind? What he said really sounded more like antinomianism to me. I could be wrong.

SolaMeanie said...

Frank,

The Apostle Paul won the argument. Not me. ;)

As to your questions, yes, of course the segment I quoted is part of a larger discourse. Chapter 9 talks about Paul's use of liberty, chapter 10 talks about what happened with Israel, and then communion. I think it is interesting that he sums up (at least through chapter 11) with "give no offense."

I honestly think that the germaine portion -- in my view and I could be wrong, is that Paul was saying in essence, look..you all have different viewpoints on some of these issues as to what is and isn't permissible. Instead of battling so hard for your freedom to do what you have as your conviction before God, how about battling for what is best, and what builds up the body?

Cheers!

Jugulum said...

Keep in mind, "offense" doesn't mean "I feel offended". It has to do with stumbling into sin or offending the conscience.

Lance Roberts said...

Al:

I read this blog because most people here aren't like that, they tend to be the conservatives that I want to sharpen me. If I wanted to talk to liberals I'd go to a bar. I do think that some have accepted the culture of the day as their baseline, as I once did. I made a decision at some point that I would change my behavior to match the Bible, and not to match the culture.

Puritan said...

Daryl wrote Are Christians allowed to sing non-Christian songs? After all, the only references in Scripture to singing are singing to the Lord...

Christian Hymns of at least 100 years old only ;0)

But seriously I do not think it is right for a professing Christian to listen to a song like John Lennon singing "Imagine there's no Heaven.." or an Eminen song about murdering your pregnant girlfriend, or songs about lust etc, so most secular music (but not all, I like Mozart :0) ) is off-limits

Puritan said...

Frank wrote : “There are a lot of things I want to say about this, among them being, "Jesus is not a TV set or a channel on DiSH network, and we, as his disciples, are not saved from boring conventional TV to enthralling HDTV."

-----------I don’t have a TV. The best thing for a TV set is to beat it with a sledge hammer in righteous anger ;0)

Frank wrote : And someone might come upon this from the "no dancin'" tribe and say, "this is exactly what Paul was talking about – Jesus saves us from doing sinful things to spiritual living where He and the Spirit are enough."

---------What I meant by Jesus being enough, is that we should not need to add carnal entertainments to keep people interested in the church to make it cool etc.

Frank wrote : “I'd leave it to them to work that out – because what Paul is saying here is that we are saved from one kind of living, under the Law, because we were lawless and condemned, to another kind of living which is not driven by lawless desires but by gracious and thankful desires.”

------------------Yes and people “not driven by lawless desires but by gracious and thankful desires” shouldn’t need sensuality and worldly things to make them feel at home in a church.

Frank wrote : Christ is sufficient to save, but we have to show that off somehow. Christ does something frankly world-shattering, and then somehow it seems some want that to be a spectator sport rather than being, well, like a brother to Christ who is the first born among many, doing what His Father said to do, and (as Paul said) filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body.

---------------------------Yes Paul suffered greatly for the Gospel's sake. But I doubt Paul would have suffered quite so much if he had put on church discos and watered down any difficult verses with lewd jokes to soften the blows like at Mars Hill.

Frank wrote : Sometimes it gets to be enjoyable – like Paul anticipating his fellowshipping with the Romans.

----------I don’t think that means he was looking forward to a New Years Eve knees up.

Kent Brandenburg said...

The Lord Jesus Christ, Who has all authority in heaven and earth, gave us His Words to sanctify us and thoroughly furnish us unto every good work. Churches are regulated by what the Bible says, not by what it doesn't say. Silence isn't permission. It is sufficient to cover everything, especially because its principles.

I shouldn't be amazed by the reaction to Phil's post here, but I am. I'm thankful for Phil's outrage, reminding me of the book which came out a few years ago, Loss of Outrage. We are in bad condition when we lose our outrage. We are not to be conformed to the spirit of this age and we are to judge everything.

What I see here is an incredible lack of discernment. The dance was purely an attraction of the flesh, which 1 Peter 1 says that I no loonger fashion myself according to my former lusts. People can gratify their lust fine on their own---it's a sad day when a church takes that up as their agenda. 1 Peter 2:12 says that we are to abstain from fleshly lust, which wars against the soul, and that is directly related to evangelism in the context---look at vv. 11, 12. The music of our culture is sensual and dancing to the music is fleshly. It's not joy. That's how discernment gets ruined---when we ascribe a Biblical fruit of the Spirit to something lustful.

Our culture isn't innocent. All these things have meaning. Kids pants hang down to their buttocks. Is there a chapter and verse against that? No. But it means something that is wrong. And we can judge that! This is where I see the emerging church style lack of certainty about our ability to discern finding erosion everywhere. It becomes a free for all just because I can't show you a verse that says "Thou shalt not smoke crack pipes."

The joy in the Bible is real joy, not a feeling choreographed by music. The joy comes from knowledge. The church won't be a funeral dirge because we have a living Savior, not because we have honky-tonked them and rag-timed them. This is conforming to the world! What you do with unbelievers is desensitize them against the conviction of their lostness. And then we could talk about the conscience, no longer delivering its warning signal because of the permissiveness and lack of restraint.

We live by the spirit of the law, but the purpose that God had for Israel is still His purpose for the church. We are to glorify God in everything. We are to be distinct from the zeitgeist.

And Lance, of course, I agree with you. Anyone can get a lexicon to look for a loophole, but that is revelling. When a passage says revelling and drunkenness, it is differentiating the two---they aren't the same thing. We're supposed to be attempting to obey Scripture, not look for loopholes.

Then look how these conservative Christians deal with you, Lance---worse than an unbeleiver in the work place. Wink, wink. Ha. Ha. Elbow. Elbow. Lance is a fruitcake. Carnal weaponry. Quite fitting with the dance scene.

Strong Tower said...

So, Kent, in looking for loop holes, was it wine or grape juice?

Can honky-tonk be spiritual, or is it by nature eeeeeeviiillllll?

Jugulum said...

Puritan,

We keep asking this question without getting an answer.

Why do you think the NYE bash had anything to do with making people feel at home in the church, or attracting people to it? Where do you get that idea? Why are you making that assumption, and not defending it when it's challenged?

(Note: I'm not criticizing Phil for making that assumption in his original post. I'm criticizing people for continuing to assume it when the other possibility has been pointed out.)

It's as though you didn't read this comment from Dan up earlier in the thread. (It's entirely possible that you didn't--it's gotten fairly long, and hard to wade through.)

"Nor do they say, "Invite your worldly friends! Show them how cool we are! They'll like Jesus and the church!" If they did, I'd find it disgusting as well.

Again, I'm just asking this questions: does every meeting of the church have to be of one kind and with one specific atmosphere only? Which kind? On what authority?

Maybe we'd better produce our own Talmud on what specific activities are and are not appropriate for Christians. Like:

1. Quiet, reverent chuckles lasting under 3 seconds and under a decibel level of ___ glorify God; loud laughter for more than 3 seconds is worldly

2. Moving within 1% of one's central axis glorifies God; anything over 1% is worldly

3. Holy blood alcohol level is 0.00000000000000001%; anything more is worldly, unless it's from Nyquil"



Let me also say this: You do not have the right to throw labels like "carnal entertainment" around at will. If their party involved something sinful, say that and defend your belief that it was sinful--and everyone here will agree that the Church shouldn't be involved with anything sinful.

If it's not sinful, here's two more possibilities.

1.) They're looking for things that "the culture" likes to do, and having that kind of event to seem hip and cool and draw people in. It's "evangelistic".

In that case, I understand calling it carnal. And I'm with you and Dan. It seems pretty messed up.

2.) They held the party...for themselves. To gather as a community and have fun and fellowship together. They're not grabbing things from the culture; they're doing something they enjoy together. With thanksgiving.

And in that case, you need to explain why it's any different than having a game night or kite-flying contest.


If we're not talking about something sinful, then what kind of entertainment is "carnal", and what kind is OK?

Where's our talmudic guide?

Johnny Dialectic said...

If anyone would like to do a personal Bible study, the following passages were put together by Torrey. Perhaps the Bible actually applies to this situation.

"Worldly Amusements and Pleasures"

1. Belong to the works of the flesh. Ga 5:19,21.
2. Are transitory. Job 21:12,13; Heb 11:25.
3. Are all vanity. Ec 2:11.
4. Choke the word of God in the heart. Lu 8:14.
5. Formed a part of idolatrous worship. Ex 32:4,6,19; 1Co 10:7; Jdj 16:23-25.
6. Lead to
a. Rejection of God. Job 21:14,15 b. Poverty. Pr 21:17.
c. Disregard of the judgments and works of God. Isa 5:12; Am 6:1-
7. Terminate in sorrow. Pr 14:13.
8. Are likely to lead to greater evil. Job 1:5; Mt 14:6-8.
9. The wicked seek for happiness in. Ec 2:1,8.
10. Indulgence in
a. A proof of folly. Ec 7:4.
b. A characteristic of the wicked. Isa 47:8; Eph 4:17,19; 2Ti 3:4; Tit 3:3; 1Pe 4:3.
c. A proof of spiritual death. 1Ti 5:6.
d. An abuse of riches. Jas 5:1,5
11. Wisdom of abstaining from. Ec 7:2,3.
12. Shunned by the saints. 1Pe 4:3

greglong said...

I, too, would like to hear the perspective of someone who actually attended the event.

P.S. "Featuring Bobby Medina and his Red Hot Band playing swing, latin, world, pop, and other varieties of music..."

I'm no musician...is "world" music "worldly"? :-)

Kent Brandenburg said...

Strong tower,

I'm hoping you reeeeaaaallly want to have your questions answeredddd.

On the intoxication question, wasn't that forbidden as a topic by Phil? I'm fine with it otherwise.

However, on honky-tonk, is the form itself evil? First, my point in my comment was that a feeling caused by honky-tonk isn't joy. We might have joy, but that doesn't make it joy.

Music itself is a language, that is, communication. Music communicates a message. Honky-tonk was originated to fit a bar room. It is barroom music. In particular honky-tonks were rough establishments full of drunkenness and prostitution. Communication, we know from Scripture, can be corrupt. Should Christians accept the message associated with the honky tonk? Is that glorifying to God? No.

Puritan said...

Jugulum wrote: “Why do you think the NYE bash had anything to do with making people feel at home in the church, or attracting people to it? Where do you get that idea?”

-----------Sorry I missed your the comment.
But to answer: Because the whole philosophy of the emerging movement is to make church more entertaining. Mars Hill is a reformed seeker sensitive movement. (well sort of reformed if you include 4 point Calvinists).

Sensuality and lusting is sinful. I do not see how you can have that style of dance without sensuality and lusting.

greglong said...

Here are some pictures (I think these are actually from last year's RHB).

One commenter on this page called it the "funnest [sic] sober party in the world".

greglong said...

Puritan wrote:

Because the whole philosophy of the emerging movement is to make church more entertaining. Mars Hill is a reformed seeker sensitive movement. (well sort of reformed if you include 4 point Calvinists).

Can you help me understand how Mars Hill is emerging, reformed, AND seeker sensitive?

dac said...

Gregalong

Thanks for the link to the photo's. Now I understand why some people hate it.

FSU said...

I sense this thread is dying down. So, let me say [regarding the pics Greg provided] I think I saw a woman wearing pants in one of them. =)

Lance Roberts said...

Somehow Strong Tower I feel you're being more sarcastic than sincere, you can let me know if I'm wrong on that. No communication can be neutral, so yes Music is not neutral.

Looking at those RHB pics, I can see that modesty doesn't seem really too important at that church.

pastorbrianculver said...

Back when I was in the mormon church (I shudder the thought of it now!!), I was single and required to attend church dances on singles night. Of course the reason they wanted us to dance was so we could marry and I could then qualify to become a god of my own planet!

After seeing the way young girls dress in church today, I would hate to think how they would dress for a dance. Let's use church for it's intended purposes. To worship God and to edify the body of believers!

dac said...

goodbye.

Jugulum said...

Puritan,

Sure, I recognize that as a big factor in the emerging movement.

There's a pretty big disconnect between that observation, and demonstrating the belief that Mars Hill's party was not to gather as a community and have fun and fellowship together, with thanksgiving, because they enjoy it.

Nor, I repeat, does it demonstrate that there is wisdom and discernment in your use of the label "carnal entertainment" for anything that went on.

Pastor Big Steve said...

Hi folks... I used to comment here from time to time, but it has been a good long while. Here's my US$.02:

Someone asked if we are only supposed to sing Christian songs and others asked if dancing is sinful.

WHY do we need the music of the world to dance to? The Bible never talks about dancing for pleasure. The dances in the Word of God are for JOY in response to what our great God has done. The music in the Bible is, again, an offering of worship, not something used to facilitate what basically amounts to primal mating rituals ("dancing"). I'm sorry, friends, if maybe some opinions like these seem harsh or narrow or legalistic, but I have danced for joy in the Spirit before and the music and the dance were nothing like what you would see at ANY club. The dress and the band and the songs at the secular clubs I used to attend were ALL indistinguishable from the photos I saw of that Red Hot Bash thing.

Oh, wait, there IS one place where the Bible mentions dancing for pleasure... and then John got hsi head lopped off and given as a present to a dancing whore.

Another thing... fermenting grape juice or any other kind is done for the expressed intent of creating alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverages are sold because of the effect that they have on the drinker. To me, if you are not drinking to get drunken, why drink something with an ingredient that is included INTENTIONALLY to have that effect? Drink non-alcoholic drinks if there's no need for intoxication. New Year's Eve parties for Christians (or any other party, IMHO) should not include alcoholic beverages because the inclusion of such beverages in the parties of the unsaved was and is for the purpose of revelling and getting intoxicated.

Do ye not know that a little leaven (yes, even just a LITTLE) leaveneth the WHOLE lump?

Strong Tower said...

Kent-

I know the association, but I know the association with fruit too, but I like bananas anyway. I like honky-tonk and if you don't grrrrreat! But I like it as a form, and not for any message attached by historic association. Just like I like port, even though the Lord saw fit to fillem with cholestrol demons, ya know....

Strong Tower said...

Lance I reacted to the dress also, so we have the same sensibility about modesty, different tastes in music however won't get you kicked out of the kingdom. Music is neutral. Unless you really do want to go to just thinking it, what music is there that cannot be associatated with something baaaaad.

Again, is it true or not that what you do is tied to its purpose, and if the thing is not an unclean thing, in and of itself, how does it become unclean. What you are doing is imposing your view of clean. I don't want it. Call me weak if you want, but your meat stinks.

Could you give us your list of "acceptable" styles and music forms, and Scripture references, please.

Cent's origional post was this kind of comparison: should we ban sex because it is used wrongly by the world, or is it we who define the proper use. Music, I could care less the style or form, or dance or any other thing that of itself is not sin, does not make us unclean. It is you and I that make it unclean.

Do you like drugs? The word that we get pharmacy from means witchcraft. Do you use drugs, or do you not even imbibe an aspirin because it is associated with the worlds use of drugs?

I tell you what, if you're ever around these parts, let me know. I don't own any honky-tonk, but I can sure go get some.

I see that you like the Lord of the Rings. Let's see, you don't like honky-tonk, but you do like the use of wizardry in Christian allegory. What's the word hypo, hypo, what's that word, I know it it just scapes me.

One final question, your favorite book is KJV. Do you like the better translations?

In my previous com it should have been pork not port. I hate port, a good white Rhine...

4given said...

Excellent article.

A few comments jumped out at me as I quickly
s
c
r
o
l
l
e
d
for what seemed like forever...
like, of course, Phil Johnson's comment... and Cent saying, "I hate it when you're busy BIG GUY." and appearing to deviate from his 1000 word criteria on his personal blog comments :-D and someone mentioning that everyone here is over 50... *gasp* Have I aged over 10 years upon all that scrolling??? and someone else proudly saying he allows his children to run around the sanctuary when worship is over... or something like that. As a parent of 6 children, aren't you glad I do not allow that... anywhere except outside when appropriate or at an indoor playground ??? Wouldn't that just be GREAT if the whole church let there children go after the service to run around in the worship area like it's a playground? *WooHoo* to reverence training.

Back on topic (I think): I do not worship my church building or its worship center (aka sanctuary). I do not worship my Bible. What I worship is the living and active holy God whose words are true and pure. I embrace the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. I do not throw my Bible on the floor when I get home from church ... not because I worship IT. I do not allow my children to run around the church sanctuary or in the hallways for that matter... not because I hold the building up as an idle.
I want to teach my children to revere God's holy Word as a book set apart from all of our other books because it is the very Word of God... just as I want to teach my children to be respectful in the Worship center because it is an area set apart specifically to edify the body of Christ and Worship and revere the one and only God. Boundaries are set for a reason. Not to hold us captive to legalism. But to help us honor our holy Lord.

SolaMeanie said...

Looking for loopholes.

Do you really think that is what most people here are doing?

I think not. I think we have honest disagreement about the interpretation of different Scriptures, but I don't think anyone here (unless I am a total boob) is desirous of using Scripture merely to justify something we do (or don't) want to do.

candyinsierras said...

greglong. Thanks for providing the pics. They add a bit of perspective. Yeah, the dresses were not so modest, but then I went to a John Piper conference in Sacramento attended by probably 90% young people, and we noticed how immodestly dressed most of the young women were at the conference.

I noticed in the pics that there was not one glass of alcohol at the tables.

I think it looked like fun.

candyinsierras said...

My husband made the point that the party looked sort of like a wedding reception. I wonder how many people might dance and have a toast at a wedding reception?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

What kind of joyous party are we going to have in heaven?

4given said...

Oh yes... great pics. Especially of the women whose breasts are so close to popping out of their dresses. I bet the men at the party didn't notice all those breasts. I bet they were just focused on the fact that they were fellowshipping together with much joy at a church facility.

Lance Roberts said...

The belief that everything is spiritual and the physical doesn't matter is what's known as Gnosticism/Pietism. Many people today while not full blown Gnostics have the Gnostic tendency (taught by our culture), but the Bible is quite clear that some things/activities are evil. Some of them are in certain situations, like sex, which is evil outside of marriage (and in private), while some things are always evil (like filthy communications).

There's no point in getting into specifics with someone with a different truth standard, if you think some things are out of God's purview, like music, and are neutral, and I don't then no amount of discussion can get us anywhere. I love having the opportunity to discuss where the line in music is, because there are plenty of types I'm not sure of, and could use some sharpening in that area.

You obviously only talk by sarcasm, so why would I want to interact with someone who is always insulting. Just like your earlier comment that if I call something a sin, I must have that sin. So in other words if I call murder a sin, I'm a murderer.

I'm majority text only, and prefer the KJV. I consider one of the worst versions to be the NIV, but find the ESV ok.

Lance Roberts said...

A good example of the problem is someone who posted in a blog a year or two back, that if he was alone with pornographic movies, then the only evil in the room would be in his mind. That comment is the fruit of Gnosticism.

Kent Brandenburg said...

One of the characteristics of the emerging is this attack on language and meaning---which is one of the ways they make truth relative and not absolute. This trait is not unique to the emerging; they didn't originate it.

No one has believed music, for instance, to be neutral, except for a certain growing segment of evangelicals over the past 30-50 years. It is a language with notes for an alphabet. It is more than just association, although it is related. For instance, we don't call someone "gay" anymore when he's happy. So it is true that language can change meaning. However, to take a musical form that is intended to communicate a godless, pagan message doesn't glorify God or edify or sanctify.

Regarding loopholes, I see something else related here regarding "truth." There is a trend of which we are required to tolerate several different understandings of Scripture just because people have them. Concocting a new view and getting people to agree with it doesn't make it valid.

In 2 Peter 3, the scoffers have a particular doctrine of the second coming that fits their own lusts. They start with what they want to do and then develop a doctrine that fits a lifestyle. This is where we are supposed to use discernment and abstain from everything in every area, especially culturally, that doesn't fit with the character of God.

Chuck Anderson said...

:) Here's a better thing to do with all of the empty bottles after one of the Red Hot services at Mars Hill.

dac said...

If Frank bans me for post 100, what will happen for post 200?

Garet said...

Lance, you misunderstand gnosticism I think. Gnosticism says that all that is spiritual is "good" and all that is material is "evil". This is why the Gnostics believed that Jesus wasn't "in the flesh". It is why they taught that the LORD was satan, because he created a physical world. This is why they practiced ascetic, monastic lifestyle. Clearly, scripture teaches that we must be discerning of spirits, of whether or not they are of God. Clearly, scripture teaches that material things are not evil in and of themselves. "To the pure all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but both their minds and consciences are defiled". Titus 1:15 "It's not what goes into a man that defiles a man, but what comes out of a man that defiles the man." Based on what you have written, it appears your position is a type of pseudo-gnosticism, in contrast to what Frank or Dan, or other's have written. I would say that to call dancing or alcohol sinful per se, is a type of gnosticism.

A man can be equally as wicked in his abstention of alcohol as in his abusing, if that abstention comes from a self-righteous heart. If a man thinks his abstention gains him anything in the sight of God, his mind is defiled. If a man imbibes alcohol seeking for happiness apart from God, if his god in fact is "his stomach", this man's conscience is defiled.


Your phrase "filthy communication" as example of something that is inherently sinful displays what I think is your misunderstanding. "Communication" is morally neutral. Language is morally neutral. Communication is "filthy" as the result of "the defiled and unbelieving" to whom "nothing is pure." From the root of their heart comes the wickedness. It manifests in their speech, not in morphemes arranged in a particular sequence, but in the God diminishing and self-aggrandizing ideas and attitudes in which they signify.

Consider the passage in James wherein the we learn that "the tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell." Is our tongue evil? Should we cut it out? Should we never speak? It would be very difficult to preach the Gospel without or tongues, would it not? We find our answer to what James is getting at in the question "can a fig tree bear olives?" It is not the object that contains evil, it is what drives the underlying motives(the Spirit or the flesh) in reference to that object that brings about evil. Indeed our Lord in his Sermon on the Mount said, "if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off"? Does our hand "cause" us to sin? Should we "cut it off"? Or, does our hand become an instrument of sin, when motivated by a deceitful heart? Remember, adultery is committed in the heart, before it is ever manifests in the body. (which is what our brother was referring to in regard to pornography, I believe) In the same way, wine, women and song can be both an object of righteous behavior and an object of wicked behavior.

I find it instructive when in Acts 17, Paul addresses both the Epicureans and the Stoics. The Epicureans by practice were sensually indulgent to the extreme. And the Stoics by practice where sensually ascetic to an extreme. Paul does not talk about their behaviour, but preaches Christ and the resurrection.

The point being that all things are good when held in their proper relation to God (including wine, dancing, sex, music, the internet, television, etc) and all things are unrighteous when out of their proper relation to God (including prayer, fasting, abstaining, singing, etc.).

There is such thing as enjoying wine in proper relation to God. There is such thing as praying to God, wickedly.(remember the Pharisee-"thank God I'm not a sinner like that guy)

Christ blows up gnosticism because his life and teaching says that such a duality is completely false, for enslavement to sin sometimes looks like righteousness, and to the self-righteous sometimes righteous behavior looks like sin.

The Christian need not fear the discerning of this duality anymore, if indeed we have been set free from the bondage of sin.(The fear that set the Pharisees to creating thousands of more laws less they break the big ones) We now have "the mind of Christ" and our "heart of stone" has been replaced with "heart of flesh". If we are looking to serve ordinances and delineate stuff and activities based on false dualities, we have indeed missed it some where.

Let's make it clear, I AM NOT advocating ANTINOMIANISM in any sense. Sin is real, and it is possible for the Christian to be ensnared by it. But we can remain ensnared if our Christian practice is driven by a debtors ethic or a perception of holiness that exceeds Jesus' own actions.

-----------------------------------

The Pictures:

I still think the whole event is benign. Personally, I hate dancing cuz I'm an uncoordinated ox. But if someone else wants to enjoy it, fine by me.

Immodesty? Perhaps, but I don't see how that directly relates to the Mars Hill's event and whether or not it should have occurred. I taught at a solid Christian school for six years and we had a strict dress code; didn't matter whether it was in my Bible class, or at school assemblies, or at school events like football games, it was always a fight to keep the young ladies in check. That doesn't mean that Bible class, school assemblies, and football games shouldn't happen.

Let me ask everyone this, would there be the same red hot outrage if MH had put on a recital of Beethoven's 9th or Shakespeare's Hamlet. (I would assume women may wear evening dresses, when indulging in these very "worldly" activities...) Because if not, I believe it betrays a hypocrisy in accordance to preferences.

-----------------------------------

Btw, I would like to commend everyone for the gracious tones that have been demonstrated throughout the course of this thread.

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