07 May 2008

It's a COOK BOOK! GAAAAGH!

by Frank Turk

Last week, Phil gave a raving review of a book I had already reviewed at the blog, and of course this is technically his house and he can do whatever it is he sees fit to do. I'm mostly glad that I get to ride on his coat tails and occationally get a word in edgewise, as I did last week on Paul Edwards' radio show. Thanks to Paul, btw, for being extremely gracious and treating me like I had something more to say than "ohh Ee ooh ah ah! Ting! Tang! Wallawalla Bing Bang!"

Anyway, since Phil re-reviewed the "Why We're Not Emergent" book, I thought I'd coat-tail him again and sort of pre-emptively review the other book he raved about in that post. But as I was reading it, I had this problem I had to resolve: I found another book which I thought needed a review in a much more urgent way.

That "more urgent" book is a little tome called Pop Goes the Church (hereafter PGTC) by a fellow named Tim Stevens, and I came across it in my own bookstore. See: we belong to this marketing group which helps us out by publishing very slick advertising materials and mailing them to our customer lists, which is of course a perfect thing -- except that it causes us, from time to time, to bring in books we wouldn't otherwise, um, proffer. The reason is simple: these books get the ad money from publishers, and that money ultimately pays for the catalog.

Yes, I get it: that's ugly. That is also the way it goes when you join a marketing group: you have to somehow get past the 20% junk and somehow capitalize on the 80% better-than-junk to try to get people to come back into the store.

Anyway, I grabbed the copy of PTCG and started reading it so I could review it, and the strangest thing happened to me: I realized that the other book was actually reviewing this particular book for me. If I were a charismatic, I think I would attribute this to the Holy SPirit speaking directly to me through these two books. But of course, I have to maintain the semblance of dignity here, so let's just say that God, in His providence, gave me the fodder for a brilliant blog post today, and you're merely fortunate enough to get to read it.

See: here's the thing. Over the last couple of weeks there has been a little dust-up in the blogosphere as to whether one should recommend that others not read a book one finds offensive. One blogger in particular tried to make his point very transparent by deleting posts at his blog which disagreed with him about his point of view -- which, I think, is not exactly the message he was trying to send, but we all have an idiom which we tend to drop into.

Anyway, rather than make the obvious "don't read this book" post about Tim Stevens' book, let me suggest something else instead: first read David Wells' new book The Courage to be Protestant and then read Tim Stevens' book. Because it seems to me that the only way to really "get" either one of these books is to actually put them side by side and, frankly, let the best man win.

Seriously: read them both and compare them. In fact, if there's interest, I'll give you people three weeks to read both of them, and then come back here to an open thread on the subject of which book makes the more compelling case for what the church is and what it ought to be.

Or read them both and then give them to your pastor. Just don't freak out when he realizes that one of these books is a cook book, and he likes that one better. It'll be perfectly creepy like that Twilight Zone episode "To Serve man", because that's exactly what one of these books is advocating: to serve man.







40 comments:

danny2 said...

in paragraph 5, did yoda also contribute a book called, "Pop the Church Goes" (PTCG)?

sounds like an interesting contrast.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Frank Turk: "Over the last couple of weeks there has been a little dust-up in the blogosphere as to whether one should recommend that others not read a book one finds offensive. One blogger in particular tried to make his point very transparent by deleting posts at his blog which disagreed with him about his point of view -- which, I think, is not exactly the message he was trying to send, but we all have an idiom which we tend to drop into."

This kinda reminds me of the Harry Potter movies where they say something like "The One-who-shall-not-be-named".

In this case, it's "The-blogger-who-shall-not-be-named".

Heh, heh.

Frank Turk said...

TUAD:

Shut up, dude. You're a trouble-maker and an instigator.

Honestly, your attempts to get cross-blog animosities to a fever pitch have worn me out. SHut up already.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Frank Turk,

I only made the humorous comment because you brought it up first in your blog post. I'm not instigating or trouble-making.

Making accurate observations is not instigating or trouble-making. If that's the criteria, then Martin Luther is an instigator and a trouble-maker. Geez, now that I think about it, making discernments is about making accurate observations. And if discernment is instigating or trouble-making, then perhaps we should all make less discernments so that we're not thought of as instigators or trouble-makers.

B said...

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

"geez"


INTERJECTION: Used to express mild surprise, delight, dissatisfaction, or annoyance.

ETYMOLOGY: Shortening and alteration of "Jesus".

Frank Turk said...

TUAD:

I'm officailly branding you a trolll for your "accurate observations", so either change your ways or get banned.

We will all be grateful to you for being a better commenter with something more insightful than "he said 'iMonk'. heh heh."

Only warning. You and I have been through this at my blog and via e-mail, and I'm not going to try to start from scratch with you on this topic. Drop it or find a different blog to read.

As they say in the respectable blogosphere, your comments are not helpful.

steve said...

you're merely fortunate enough to get to read it.

We're humbled. :)

Seriously: read them both and compare them. In fact, if there's interest, I'll give you people three weeks

I've fully intended to buy David Wells's book, but no local store carries it, so I'll have to order and have it shipped. Then I need to find the time to read it.

As for the Tim Stevens book, I'm rather reluctant to help add to the bottom line on his royalty statement.

Beyond that, I do look forward to any comparative discussions on this blog in regard to these two books.

Terry said...

Am planning to go to The Whiteboard Sessions
http/www.thewhiteboardsessions.com/pages/page.asp?page_id=25542

in May in Reston, VA where Tim Stevens will be a speaker.
I'd never heard of him before, so bought his book so I'd be familiar with him before going to hear him live.

Would love to hear more discussion on this.

Thank you!

Michael Spencer said...

I deleted your comments because you persist in personally demeaning and insulting me. And that's all. I could care less who recommends or doesn't recommend The Shack. I am not on the Shack bandwagon.

My posts have been deleted at teampyro dozens of times. Don't be so self-righteous.

DJP said...

Michael: I must interject that I don't think I've ever encountered anyone whose bar as to what is "personally demeaning and insulting" is in such constant motion, is set so low, and is so unrelated to the standard he sets for himself in dialogue with others.

Phil Johnson said...

Spencer: "My posts have been deleted at teampyro dozens of times."

I can't think of a single time anyone has ever deleted a comment by Michael Spencer here. I certainly have not—and I promise it hasn't happened "dozens of times."

Unless he was posting filthy language under a pseudonym.

We don't delete anyone merely for disagreeing with us, even if they are insulting. The only comments we have ever deleted on a large scale ("dozens of times") are those that are deliberately profane or smutty.

The Doulos said...

Just what I need, more books to read. I'm drowning in the pile of new ones already from T4G and BoB. Plus, I was at Goodwill the other day and picked up about 10 more. At 60 cents each, my level of discernment gets pretty low.

Oh and, has anyone noticed that whenever Franks posts stuff here, people get mad? Or is it just me?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Terry: "I'd never heard of him before, so bought his book so I'd be familiar with him before going to hear him live.

Would love to hear more discussion on this."


Hi Terry,

I comment over at the Old Truth blog and the host Jim Bublitz has a post about Tim Stevens book, "Pop Goes the Church".

Responses to 'Finding God in Pop-Culture'

Here's an excerpt by Jim B.: "One of the problems with Tim's book idea is that we are living in a fallen world, whose god is the devil; 2 Corinthians 4 tells us that this god has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. It is from that world system that pop-culture emerges with it's entertainment. Tim Stevens however, erroneously promotes the concept that we should be looking for God in these pop-culture venues. But the difficulties with looking for God in very popular shows like South Park for example, which is perverse and constantly mocks Christianity, should be obvious to us all."

Later on in his blog post Jim B. shares how he has been demeaned and insulted, and perhaps being seen as an instigator and a trouble-maker by those who admire and appreciate Pastor Tim Stevens approach to ministry.

That's unfortunate. For I have nearly always found Jim B.'s observations to be accurate.

And I'm with Steve above. I'd like to read both books and compare them, but I'm not willing to add royalties to Tim Stevens' book. (But I'd read a free or loaned copy!)

Terry, I hope my link to Jim Bublitz's post about Tim Stevens is helpful to you.

Frank Turk said...

Doulos --

It's want I do.

Frank Turk said...

TUAD:

Now was that so very hard?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Terry said...

"Terry, I hope my link to Jim Bublitz's post about Tim Stevens is helpful to you."

awesome.

thank you!

steve said...

Spencer: "My posts have been deleted at teampyro dozens of times."

In truth, Michael, you've been given remarkably free rein here. I have long admired TeamPyro's patience with you. Sure, they've made their disagreements with you known. But they haven't cowered behind the delete button in doing so.

david rudd said...

Granger Community Church (Tim Steven's church) sees hundreds of people convert to Christ and be baptized every year.

Perhaps you guys can give a theological argument why we shouldn't be rejoicing with them?

Frank Turk said...

David Rudd:

Oddly, David, this is not a review of Tim's church but of his book.

Never been to his church. Can't really say anything about what happens there.

david rudd said...

Frank.

Oddly enough, the book is about churches.

The problem with dangerous ideas is that they have consequences.

One might assume (perhaps wrongly), that Tim's ideas are most clearly in play at his church.

That would seem to be a good place to look were one to consider the fruit of his ideas.

Feel free not to go there; I just thought it might be a good way to tie the danger of his ideas to the fruit they produce.

steve said...

David Rudd wrote: Feel free not to go there; I just thought it might be a good way to tie the danger of his ideas to the fruit they produce.

I'll let Frank answer for himself, but I couldn't help but point out, David, that the "proof" to which you point regarding Tim's ideas goes in the wrong direction.

The correct direction for testing anyone's ideas is to go to Scripture. Do Tim's ideas line up with Scripture? That's the standard we need to measure against, not Tim's church.

Your argument collapses in the fact Mormons have plenty of proof for the rightness of their ideas.

Hence, we need to take the precepts in Tim's book and hold them to the light of God's Word.

Frank Turk said...

I'd be willing to have an open Mike on Tim Stevens' church here in the meta if I had ever been there.

I feel a lot more at liberty to talk about what he exclaims in his book than what he does in and around his church -- I have no evidence of the latter and all the evidence is repsent for the former.

So the challenge is for those who think they have something to say about Tim Stevens' book as it relates to David Wells' book to read both and comment on that.

If someone want to say, "well, that's just veiled criticism of Stevens' church", that person needs to reconsider what he thinks is reasonable and logical. Stevens' church is not in evidence here, and his book is.

gotta work with what you have.

Frank Turk said...

"repsent" is actually an anagram for "present". Sorry about that.

DJP said...

Besides, Frank, I don't think it's fair for anyone to criticize your posts until he visits your bookstore.

Right?

Jugulum said...

And another thing...

David, are you suggesting that if Stevens' book had any problems in it, that would necessarily show up as reduced numbers of conversion and baptisms? Is that the only possible kind of noteworthy flaw that can exist in a discussion about pop culture in the church?

Frank Turk said...

Dan --

If that were true, so many people would have to give up the internet.

We can't have that.

Chad said...

The "Fruit" the methods produce aren't really the standard by which the PGC should be measured. It should be measured according to scripture.

Stevens does use these methods at Granger all the time. Anyone can go to his blog where he regularly brags about their various methods of "leveraging the culture".

One of the main problems with Steven's book, apart from the point that Frank already made in that PGC serves man and not God, is that Stevens has based his whole philosophy on a Roman Catholic heresy called Inculturation. That means that the gospel is already incarnate in the culture in various ways and we just have to find it. He got the idea from a Jesuit priest named Richard Leonard who takes the concept one step further and says that it is Christ who is incarnate in the culture. You can read all about it on Stevens' blog here and see for yourself.

In certain forms of R.C. evangelism they go into a society, fins what they imagine to be Christ working in the culture already and adopt that into the life of the church. That's how they get "Our Lady of Guadeloupe" etc. They just adopt the various pagan practices and Christianize them into the life of the Church. Stevens is doing exactly the same thing.

None of what Stevens is doing is supportable by scripture and in fact is in direct opposition to the commands of scripture. PGC fails the test of scripture.

david rudd said...

not looking to stir the pot, here. i think i've been misunderstood.

just to clarify, i'm not a big proponent of Granger's methodology.

see here

i do consider them my brothers in Christ. i do appreciate their passion for proclaiming Christ. i wouldn't always do it the way they do.

however.

i think if we who hold to a more reformed idea about church want to be "always reforming" we have to be willing to ask questions like this...

if what Tim is proposing is anti-scriptural, what does that mean for all the people who are saved and baptized in his ministry?

is his gospel real?
are those conversions real?

just to clarify... i wasn't trying to "prove" anything. i'm just asking some questions.

how do we deal with that?

and frank, if i ever had the chance, i'd love to visit your bookstore...

Gummby said...

Frank and Dan: except that anyone who has actually been to Frank's store is much less likely to criticize one of his posts. I'll let the readers consider why that might be.

And thanks to Chad for mentioning "inculturation." That's the word I've been trying to think of as Phil has been talking about Contextualization. It's not exactly the same - inculturation and syncretism are synonymous, but I think they are close cousins.

Chad said...

David,

I do not believe that Ganger proclaims the Christ of the bible. Their Christ is one found in T.V. and other forms of Pop Culture. That's the point. The world dressed up like Christ is no Christ at all. It's pablum for itching ears. It's Satan dressed as an angel of light. I think you may need to carefully consider the gravity of the whole inculturation thing. Simply bandying the word Jesus about as you play clips from the movie Lean on Me is not preaching the gospel.

I do not stand with Stevens or Granger at all. I in fact stand against them with all the strength the Lord will give me.

If you want to know what to do with the people who have been baptized at Granger, tell them of Christ as he is proclaimed in scripture. Tell them that God commands that all men everywhere repent and believe in Christ. Tell them that Christ will one day return to judge the world in righteousness.(Acts 17:30-31) If they run from that message or try to run you off ( cf. Luke 4:16-30) then you will know what sort of fruit they bear. But if you truly love those souls then by all means make sure they hear the gospel.

Morris Brooks said...

It really bothers me when "pastors" brag about their conversions/baptisms. Stevens isn't the only one. Do we know if they are really saved? Are they professing without possessing? Were they joining the church without being joined with Christ? Is this anything to be chest thumping about like a football player who just made a play? Where in the Scriptures does it tell us that the fruit of a ministry is the numbers it posts?

Yet, somehow, we always get the defenders that say, "Look at the number of members, baptisms, etc, while not getting that the mode of ministry is geared to produce exactly that...numbers, and the the pastor wasn't so enamored with "his" numbers he wouldn't spend so much time chest thumping about them.

Morris

Berny said...

For anyone interested, I'm going through The Courage to Be Protestant chapter-by-chapter on my blog.

http://theperichoresis.wordpress.com

Please be quiet! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Please be quiet! said...

I'm simply worn out with the "if we are way cool and fun and awesome then people will see how way cool and fun and awesome Jesus is and come to Him" mentality that Granger type churches are so intoxicated with. Silly me. I thought they came to Him because the Holy Spirit called to them and because the Gospel is Truth.
And give me a break on the numbers game. People flock to a fire, a train wreck, and the circus freak show, too, but I would not call any of them good things.

Chad V. said...

I'm updating my Blogger profile so now I'm posting as "Chad V." I was previously posting as just "Chad" Sorry for the confusion but I wanted to get my handles the same on all the blogs I post on.

Anyhoo...

Please be Quiet makes a good point. The gospel is a command to repent and believe the gospel, to forsake sin and turn to Christ as Lord and Savior because those who defile will in no way enter the Kingdom of God. Tim Stevens has quite a different approach. Christ, while he loved us and saved us while we were yet sinners never encouraged any one to continue in sin until they felt comfortable enough to "absorb the love of God." That is precisely what Stevens' approach to the gospel is. He tells people who are guilty of sin to just stay the way they are until they feel comfortable and to just "absorb the love of God." Then once you are acclimatized to the "love of God" you can begin to take your little baby steps turning from sin. That is if you're ready to. You can read it your self here.

You can see that Stevens' gospel is not the gospel according to Jesus. The old excuse, "Jesus ate with tax collectors" is so worn out and lame. Yes Christ did eat with sinners, but he never received anyone who refused to forsake sin and believe in him. As we see in Luke 9:57-62 " “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Frank Turk said...

David asked:

if what Tim is proposing is anti-scriptural, what does that mean for all the people who are saved and baptized in his ministry?

Excellent question.

Let me suggest something which is bound to cause the Pajama-hadjin to go into fits: it doesn't matter what method was used if by "saved" one means "forgiven by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone".

The problem (as I see it, which may slake the thirst of said hadjin) is that the methods described in Stevens' book inherently divert those it attracts from forgiveness, faith, grace and Christ.

So if all those people getting wet at Stevens' church are being baptized because they repent of sin and seek forgiveness based on the sacrifice of the Cross -- and not, for example, because they want a better life, or because they like the music -- then I say, "praise God from whom all blessings flow."

But if they are being baptized for other reasons, they are only getting wet. And that's not a cause for anyone to rejoice.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"But if they are being baptized for other reasons, they are only getting wet. And that's not a cause for anyone to rejoice."

Great point. At minimum (if one may use that term vis-a-vis baptism!) one MUST be baptized believing that the power of God is at work (Col. 2:12) in putting off the sinful nature (2:11).

MCC said...

I have to say that I really respect that you left a comment on Tim Stevens' daughters blog. She was really hurt by the words she read. I hope your comment gives her some understanding.

I guess those of us who attend GCC see your commentary directed at us because the book is a description how we do church every week.

Would love to read your review after attending the church and checking out what we do as far as missionary work. =)

Terry said...

I'd never met Tim Stevens...just read his book and then read all the criticism.

After hearing him speak in person at the Whiteboard conference yesterday, I have to say that he came across as extremely humble and very gracious with a passion to see more people glorifying God.
I'm afraid I was expecting something/someone different.

I pray that God would give me a heart like his!

(ps I wonder if the title of his book couldn't have been better chosen? Perhaps it stirs up the pot of controversy?)