13 January 2010

Erwin McManus's Casket

by Phil Johnson



"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions" (2 Timothy 4:3).

ack in August of '08, I wrote a post about the pretentiousness of Christians who try too hard to be artsy and manage to sully both art and the gospel in the process. (In retrospect, the tone of that post might sound a tad too cantankerous, even for me. But I completely stand by the point of it.)

One of the targets of my criticism in that post was Erwin Raphael McManus, self-styled "futurist, author, speaker, activist, filmmaker and innovator who specializes in the field of developing and unleashing personal and organizational creativity, uniqueness, innovation and diversity." Some say he is a "pastor" (though he seems to eschew that title and most other ecclesiastical terms). He's the lead speaker at Mosaic, "a Community of faith, love, and hope" in Pasadena. It's a Southern Baptist congregation, but you'd be hard-pressed to discover that from the church's own publicity. I spent many hours a few years ago watching videos and listening to sound files of McManus's teaching, and I have read two or three of his books, plus practically everything he has posted on line. I have never seen him explain, much less affirm, the gospel.

In that 2008 post I said: "Clear gospel truth is almost impossible to find in the material he publishes and posts for public consumption. And in that regard, I don't see a whole lot of difference between Erwin McManus and Joel Osteen. He's Osteen with blue jeans and an occasional soul patch rather than a shiny suit and a perpetual grin."

That unleashed a nearly 200-comment discussion in our combox. Most commenters who were already familiar with McManus voiced agreement with my assessment, but a few drive-by commenters criticized me for criticizing McManus. Then I had a lengthy discussion via e-mail with a key person on McManus's staff. No one could document a single source where McManus actually did preach the gospel.

A month later, Justin Taylor picked up the thread and asked for comments at his blog. I joined that conversation late, but here's the salient portion of the comment I posted at JT's blog:

  1. I wasn't raising this question with regard to a single sermon or video. I'm pointing out that I can't find anywhere where McManus has dealt with sin qua sin—an offense against God as opposed to a personal hurt or emotional/psychological dysfunction. And I have never seen him even hint at the idea of repentance. I wouldn't be automatically critical of a preacher for a single gospel message that didn't include every aspect of systematic theology. In other words, I agree with your point: while it's true that the resurrection is essential to the gospel itself, that doesn't invalidate every tract or sermon or witnessing encounter where the resurrection isn't expressly mentioned. (I defended that very point a couple of years ago in the infamous controversy about Francis Chan's evangelistic video.) But if someone who preaches all the time never mentioned the resurrection—indeed, seemed to be deliberately avoiding it—I'd think it completely fair to raise the question of whether he really believed it.

  2. I have exchanged several e-mails about this with a senior staff member at Mosaic, and I received one message from Erwin McManus himself. Neither of them supplied references to any message or online resource where McManus has ever mentioned the necessity of repentance. I had a hard time getting the senior staff member to understand that I wasn't challenging McManus over an issue of technical theological terminology. His main reply to me was that just because McManus doesn't use words like repentance, justification, and penal substitution, it's unfair to assume he doesn't teach those doctrines. But after exchanging several e-mails with him, he still couldn't (or wouldn't) point me to any online resources where McManus has dealt with the ideas of repentance, justification, or propitiation using different terminology.

  3. So if we count that, plus all the replies to my initial post about McManus, plus all the comments in this thread, it brings the grand total of documented examples where McManus deals with the issues of sin, repentance, and justification to exactly zero.

  4. I'm not trying merely to be harsh here. But I honestly don't see why anyone would think McManus's approach to avoiding the gospel is any better than Joel Osteen's approach to avoiding it. I understand that they appeal to different demographics, so there are real stylistic differences between the two of them. But my concern is with the missing substance.

  5. I'd like to know why some who feel perfectly free to label Osteen a heretic think it's unnecessarily "vitriolic" to put McManus in the same category. A few of you have suggested that it's uncharitable even to raise this question. No one yet has offered a reasonable explanation why.


McManus's current project is further removed from the proclamation of the gospel than anything you'll ever see from Osteen—and that's saying something. McManus is shilling for an entry in Doritos® "Crash the Superbowl" contest.

It's an utterly tasteless commercial called "Casket." ("A guy stages his own funeral just to munch Doritos and watch football undisturbed—in a casket.") McManus himself produced the commercial for the Doritos® contest and Mosaic is "sponsoring" it. They won a spot among the six finalists (out of 4,000 entries)—and tickets to the Super Bowl. The top prizewinner will be chosen by popular vote. So McManus has removed every vestige of his own website and replaced it with an appeal for votes. He's Twittering pleas for votes on a fairly regular basis, too.

He is convinced this is the work of God: "It's a miracle and a divine comedy that we've made it this far," he told USA Today. "I think it's God's sense of humor."

Rick Warren is ecstatic about the prestige and potential $$$ a win would bring McManus. He Tweeted: "My guy Erwin McManus (Mosiac Church) created a Doritos Superbowl Ad! Church could win $! VOTE 4 him!"

Our friend Paul Edwards's Twitter feed, as usual, was more on target: "Majority of Christians will laugh rather than weep at @erwinmcmanus 's commercial because the gospel is no longer central in our thinking."

Mid-Morning Addendum:

Someone privately asked my opinion about why Erwin McManus would devote the full resources of his church and energies to promote an entry in an advertising contest. Might he have motives that are good and pure? Could it be that he sees this as a kind of pre-evangelism that gets people's attention so that they will listen to his message? Are you perhaps being too hard on him for doing what most pastors do (but having more success at it)?

The "pre-evangelism" ploy might have some appearance of merit if McManus's message ever actually got around to the evangel. But since that's not the case, it's an unwarranted stretch to imagine that he intends this as a kind of preliminary to something he clearly has no intention whatsoever to engage in.

And let me be clear about something: I don't have actual statistics, but sadly, I think it might actually be true to say that Erwin McManus is just "doing what most pastors do." The mentality behind McManus's bravado and high jinks is by no means unique to him. It's the very philosophy behind the "market-driven Church" assumption: Any kind of publicity stunt is just as good as—and probably better than—gospel preaching for reaching the unchurched. That is the unspoken assumption behind most of the currently-popular evangelical carcinogens, such as the infamous "Church Marketing Sucks" blog, which I have critiqued in the past for precisely the same thing.

Publicity is not the same thing as evangelism. Fad-chasing isn't "missional." You're not "reaching" people in any meaningful sense at all if the gospel is not the center and the main substance of your message to the world.

That, you might say, is the salient point of every argument we have ever made on this blog.


Phil's signature

124 comments:

Bobby Grow said...

I wonder if that is Mosaic's "sanctuary" in the commercial? Does anyone know?

I think McManus might need to go read the minor Prophets, "with a eyes to see, and an ear to hear," and then maybe reconsider what he's doing.

Fusion! said...

It's not their sanctuary. They meet at the Mayan Night Club in Downtown L.A. Having said that, I thought the commercial was funny. Does that mean I don't take the gospel seriously? I know where he's off, but I'm not going to get on his case for doing something rather funny. Calling it a miracle/act of God....that's another story.

I've been to his church, it is definitely.....something else.

Phil Johnson said...

I guess I've attended or officiated at too many loved ones' funerals in the past year to find it "funny."

Bobby Grow said...

Thanks.

The context makes it not funny. Not the sanctuary, necessarily, but as Phil says "the sanctity of life." Death isn't funny, even for the Christian (we grieve but with hope). Sarcasm and satire is the way the world copes, they make fun or light of "death" so they can sale chips (and make money for their "church"). Even more ironic is that in the coffin, at the place of the lectern (or pulpit in my experience) --- where the word of God is proclaimed (or supposed to be) --- we have a guy stuffing his face with chips watching football --- what a commentary on American churchianity.

I'm hoping that McManus and crew, through the commercial aren't alluding to the resurrection as said actor rolls out of the coffin. I'll just give the benefit of the doubt on that one.

But, no, Fusion, there ain't nothing funny about the commercial . . . it's because of the context.

SandMan said...

You already hit the nail on the head. The issue is that that the man does not preach the Gospel. Probably doesn't believe it.

Secondary to that is that the "church" has their name and resources behind this commercial. I understand that pastors (I use the term loosely in McManus's case) are people, too. They may have personal interests and hobbies. For instance, mine likes to run marathons. Another might legitimately enjoy amateur film-making. But my pastor has never used church funds, or its website to promote himself or his running. It's improper and not what the church is for.

Clearly, his congregation is a product of his teaching since they allow such buffoonery.

donsands said...

"It's a miracle and a divine comedy that we've made it this far," he told USA Today. "I think it's God's sense of humor."

ERwin says a lot about his theology right there. And many in the Church today are following suit.

I heard a sermon where a very dear pastor to me said, "If Jesus would come down to earth today, He would wash your feet."
Of course he takes this from John 13.
It's an unbalanced theology. This pastor does attend McManus conferences and even teaches there.

Erwin is a lovely guy most likely. Yet, I think he lives to try to make nice people nicer, instead of sinners repentant souls who trust in the Gospel, and bow their knee to Christ as Lord and Savior.

He simply doesn't see the whole truth of the Bible, and frankly, he doesn't care what others think. He has an army of people encouraging him in his watered down teachings, and human philosophies.
The Scriptures are not that big a deal, though he does acknowledge the Bible.

That's how I have seen Erwin and his winds of doctrines. I may be wrong I guess.

Persoanlly I love the Bible, the Church, and pastors, who minister to the saints with the Word and prayer.
And even evangelists and missionaries, who have a different gift and geart, surely esteem the Bible and the glory of God, even above the souls of people, though the souls of people are their most fixed purpose in this life.

Erwin seems more like an evangelist, but tiwht an esteem for the Scriptures.

donsands said...

"tiwht" Man!

That should be without. Sorry about that chief.

Frank Turk said...

Someone with the user ID "CoCoCarl" at the Dorito's web site said this about McManus' entry:

[QUOTE]

I hope he enjoys rotting in the ground in a casket full of his own [excrement]. All while his family mourns his death. Easily the meanest commercial of the 6. Maybe the meanest commercial I've ever seen.

[/QUOTE]

That is a testimony to relating to the culture.

Frank Turk said...

However, I did also watch the finalist "House Rules", and that is a brilliant commercial.

"Keep yo' hands off my mama, and keep yo' hands off my Doritos."

Everyday Mommy© said...

I was a funeral director. It's not funny. It's final.

stratagem said...

So if he doesn't preach any Gospel concepts, in what way is his church a Southern Baptist congregation? Is it because they are on an official SBC roster somewhere? If so, can I start issuing official certificates of humanity to dogs, so they can claim to be humans?

I frankly hate the whole concept of motivational speakers. They are almost always armed with the latest buzzwords, telling us to focus on obtaining that which doesn't matter in the long run, and willing to use anything (including religion) as a platform to promote themselves. Blech!

DJP said...

McManus is also trying to win the "'Pastors' Who Don't Get the Point of Ecclesiastes 7:2" contest, the "'Pastprs' Who Help The Lost Whistle Past the Graveyard" contest, and the "'Pastors' Who Talk Compassion, Mock Mourning for Money" contest.

stratagem said...

Good point Dan. With all those contests going on, perhaps he should rename himself Ed McManus and offer to work for Publisher's Clearinghouse?

Hayden said...

I will let the Preacher of Ecclesiastes speak for me:

The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, while the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure. (Ecc. 7:4)

In the context of Ecc. 7, this is speaking about fools laughing at things that they should learn from. You make the call, is this foolish?

olan strickland said...

The Church could win $!

So that's what pleases God!

DJP said...

No no, Olan. It's a sign that God is pleased.

< /s >

Paul Edwards said...

Righto, Dan. Because "gain is godlines." McManus is one of the false teachers Paul warned Timothy about in 1 Timothy.

Fusion! said...

Fair enough. I'm young enough to not have encountered death (praise God) as many of you have. E Mom, I think you made the best point.

Brad Williams said...

I didn't watch the commercial. What Phil said here about the commercial didn't even bother me because of the other stuff he wrote. That being that a senior staff member, listening and reading a few years worth of material, and still not one example of the affirmation of the gospel.

If Phil went through the archives of my sermons, read my blog, and called my fellow elders and no one could document a case where I explained the gospel...I cannot even imagine it. I'd be ashamed if Phil pointed out one sermon I preached that didn't do a fair job of pointing people to the gospel, much less years of work and book writing failure! The doritos thing is so insignificant by comparison that it doesn't even get on my radar.

And alas! I am in the SBC as a new church start. What is going on in California? Can't we just put Mark Dever in charge of everything for goodness sakes?! :p

chadwick said...

Concerning McManus' lack of documented Gospel-preaching evidence:

A few years ago, McManus was the NAMB's "Poster-Boy" of New Church Plants (i.e. the suggested model for using CP monies to plant churches). Even Homelife Magazine plastered his picture on the cover and gave him a four-page spread. (I even think that he spoke at the 06 SBC's Pastors Conference in Greensboro, NC) . . . Go figure?

Prominent NAMB church planting offers:
Plenty of hot lattes, faded jeans, cool shades, and snazzy vernacular; but where is the doctrine? Alas, this is the problem with SBC evangelism/church planting!

--chadwick

Brad Williams said...

Heeeeey...we started a church here in Alabama. NAMB hasn't sent us any lattes or money yet.

(Of course, we haven't asked for any because technically we split and lost the house in the divorce.)

Fusion! said...

@Brad,Yes, it would be cool if he ran the SBC. have you seen Dever's study? It's eqiuipped with Al Mohler bobble head.

Grigs said...

If only He was a presbyterian then we could just kick him out! But that's congregationalism for ya... any yahoo can start up a cult of personality in the name of religion. The difference between this guy and someone who would call himself missional and believes in trying to be really relavent ( i.e. Driscoll and Chandler) is that while I disagree to the extent the Church ought to try to be relavent at least they would never compromise the Gospel.

olan strickland said...

It's the very philosophy behind the "market-driven Church" assumption: Any kind of publicity stunt is just as good as—and probably better than—gospel preaching for reaching the unchurched.

Which is strange and unsound ecclesiology!

capra_esque said...

Dear Phil and the gang,

I would agree with you that McManus' theology is shaky at best and heretical at worst, but for those of you criticizing the actual commercial and saying its not funny makes you all look like sad, unfunny clowns.

Who says you can't laugh at a funeral or even at death? Hello!? Can you say coping mechanism? Don't throw the joke out with the bad preacher! When my grandfather passed away, we laughed a lot remembering stories of the godly life he led. The context IS what makes it funny. Loosen up BOBBY GROW. Allow me to introduce you to someone you should know...your sense of humor. Apparently you two have never met.

I know some of you on this site probably think comedy died with Red Skelton, but believe it or not, it didn't. Maybe I will just chalk this post up to you guys not having anything new to criticize McManus about on the theology side, so you decided to jump into the comedy waters. If I were you though, I would swim back to shore. Before diagnosing theology as errant or bad, you have to know good theology well yourself. Same with comedy kiddos. Some of you wouldn't know a good joke if it busted out of casket covered in Doritos. Gotta know your stuff kids. Otherwise, you will have us laughing alright, but it won't be with ya. Next time stick to the theology stuff.

donsands said...

"Some of you wouldn't know a good joke if it busted out of casket covered in Doritos."

Actually there is some very funny stuff here from time to time. The Teampyro three amigos are quite witty fellows. You ought to syop by more often.
But for the most part you're right they speak the truth in love, with very sound theology, and edifying teachings.

And persoanlly I thought the commercial was drab.

I like the Bud Light commercials Too LIght Too Heavy thing. Some of those are witty and funny.

Rick Frueh said...

That commercial would be funny if produced by a secular source. When produced by a pastor and his church, it seems profoundly irreverent. But if God has a sense of humor, and can suspend His knowledge of 150,000 souls entering a Christless eternity every day, then He mighthave a divine chuckle.

The western church has an insatiable need for entertianment and humor, and it has no appetite for sacredness and gospel passion. Perhaps the commercial will encourage sales for the Pepsico Company that supports many issues that would be at odds with Biblical teachings. But at least we got a laugh! I hope they run that commercial with subscripts in Darfur.

The church has become the court jester for the world.

"Alas,poor Yorick! I (never) knew him...

Phil Johnson said...

capra_esque "saying its not funny makes you all look like sad, unfunny clowns."

I dunno. Few things are more subjective than humor. I'm not offended by morbid humor per se. One of the funniest things that ever happened to me happened in a funeral procession. I also used to work in a funeral home, and despite the finality of death, there's plenty of fodder for legitimate humor in the death industry. And the KJV rendition of John 11:39 never fails to make me smile.

So let's be clear: my objection to what McManus and team have done here doesn't hinge mainly on whether their joke is funny or not. Personally, I don't think it's funny. (The Dos Equis "World's Most Interesting Man" appeals more to my sense of humor.)

But let's assume it's the funniest clean joke ever told. That's STILL not what any church ought to invest their resources and energy in communicating. It's not the message we're supposed to be known for. It's frankly a prostitution of religion for the sake of gaining the world's admiration, and that sort of thing has done more to derail the church from her real mission than all the other things Christians collectively get concerned about.

Moreover, while morbid humor per se may not always be pure evil, if a church aspires to gain fame and distinction for itself by sponsoring a joke in a Superbowl ad, it does add to the tastelessness and sinfulness of the whole enterprise by making it be a joke about the very thing that OUGHT to be one of the most serious notes in the message Christ gave us to proclaim to the world.

Perhaps that colors my perception that this really isn't very funny.

mike said...

If the church owes an apology to the world, it certainly is not that we don't appreciate inapproprate humor enough.
if we must apologize, it is because we have not been different enough.
called out, unsoiled garments, holy and righteous are not the words that the world fling at us in dirision.

Hayden said...

Capra,

Insulting people who don't agree with you is a great way to make your point. There are times to laugh and times to cry. There are things to laugh at, and things that we shouldn't. (Ecclesiastes makes this crystal clear. I have been preaching through it for 3 months now.) Eccl. 7 makes it clear that there is a difference between the wise man and a fool, and one of the differences is that wise men learn from death and fools make light of death and are frivolous about it.

Let me test this one on you. Is everything fair game for laughs? How about rape? Child pornography? Genocide?

(By the way, I am probably your age or younger my friend. I don't watch Red Skelton my and never have and I laugh a lot! I have a 2 year old and 4 year old which gives me able time to laugh)

The point is, should McManus throw the support of his church behind a commercial that is going to run during the Superbowl or should he throw the weight of his church behind the Gospel?

mike said...

Phil said
“Few things are more subjective than humor."
but in our bizarre understanding of personal savior and personal relationship, we (broad brush) have allowed spirituality to join humor and ice cream flavors and another category where there is no wrong answer just preference.
go back and read Kevin and Phil's exchange again from For those who still don't get it. . .post in June 2006, Kevin never argued that Phil was biblically incorrect, just that Phil was wrong to say that Kevin was incorrect. Condensed argument was “that is your opinion, I have mine”. This doesn’t leave any room for settling the issue, as one side doesn’t recognize a source of objective truth on the subject.
I recently was asked to move on from the church/club where I served, as we were careening down the market driven attractional church trail. I attempted to show scripturally why I disagreed, and was told, “You can have your opinion, and I can go get several people who have another opinion, so those just cancel out. Therefore we will do what seems to be working for church X, Y, & Z”.
My source of truth (scripture) was not deemed more authoritative than theirs (experience & observation).

Ian said...

Things about the video that are not funny:

1)A church is using it's resources making a commercial for a company that the AFA has asked believers to ban because it has supported the homosexual agenda. Not Funny.

2)A Church is making a commerical for a product that if you eat enough of place you a casket sooner then later. Not Funny.

3)A church is making a commercial that will most likely air after a Bud commercial and right before a GO Daddy commerical and viewers will notice little difference. Not Funny.

Sir Aaron said...

I object to the whole idea that market driven churches are being more authentic. In fact, what they are doing is being less authentic. Authentic carries a connotation of authoritative certification that an object is what it is claimed to be.

Market driven churches use two marketing techniques which are actually deceitful. The first is to use any publicity (preferably positive to attract attention and brand recognition to your product. The second technique is to accentuate any positive aspect, no matter how trivial or superfluous, while relegating the truth to the fine print. So a market driven pastor will use rock music to draw in a crown but put the fact that true conversion has a price, namely actual repentance, to the fine print of some bulletin somewhere.

How is that authentic? Personally, I'd rather have more integrity and authenticity than a stereotypical used car salesman.

Sir Aaron said...

Ian:

The "Bud" commercials I often find to be the most acceptable commercials. I don't mind the Clydesdales pulling the beer wagon talking about the great tasting beer.

Also, there are lots of things that are bad for you if you eat too much of them. I don't think there is anything inheritanly sinful about eating or advertising for Doritos chips.

I do appreciate that the AFA has called for a ban on Pepsi and by making a commercial you are doing the very opposite of that.

Sir Aaron said...

Mike:

Doesn't it seem that majority of church arguments these days seem to boil down to an issue of sola scriptura? I find myself unable to continue a discussion with many Christians these days because the other person will not agree to the principles of sola scriptura.

donsands said...

"I do appreciate that the AFA has called for a ban on Pepsi"

Who is the AFA?

I had a friend who worked for Pepsi a while ago.

Ian said...

AFA= American Family Association

Bobby Grow said...

Capra_Esque,

I'm not talking about laughing or not laughing at a funeral (memories and such, that's fine). Like I said, it's the context. The problem for me is the ethos that is reflected by the commercial; it's the same as the world's toward death, "can't beat it, so lets satire it." It's not a joke, and for you to say that this has nothing to do with theology and/or the Gospel reflects your level or depth of thought. This has everything to do with the Gospel, this reflects an ability on your part to fragmentize or compartmentalize your thinking (which I don't blame you for, this is just a product of learning how to think by watching TV) via a PoMo psyche.

If you can set and laugh and be light at the funeral of someone who died w/o Christ (and is in hell); then, again, this can be only related to your "depth."

round.tuit said...

I first learned of McManus when a co-worker shared a portion of "The Barbarian Way" with me.

We all need discernment. btw - I understood the point that busdriver4jesus was making in Frank Turk's thread, "Somebody Save Me".

round.tuit said...

btw - I just received an email from the AFA asking me to make my convictions known and sign the Manhattan Declaration.

Sir Aaron said...

donsands:

The American Family Association has been called for boycotts of various companies in the past. They usually choose one company and cocentrate on that company. Before Pepsi, it was Ford, and for the same reason. They unabashedly support and encourage the homosexual agenda. The boycott really hurt Ford (because families purchase mutiple cars and usually they're biggest models). With regards to Pepsi, I think it will be more difficult. Pepsi's target market (although they have many other businesses such as KFC, Taco Bell, Doritos, Frito-Lay) is a little different. Pepsi is primarily after the twenty something crown, who in my opinion, contain within them a very small proportion of actual Christians.

capra_esque said...

Bobby Grow,

You wrote..."If you can set and laugh and be light at the funeral of someone who died w/o Christ (and is in hell); then, again, this can be only related to your "depth." "

Did you just imply that my grandfather went to Hell when he passed away? I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume you were speaking in a generalization and not specifically about him.

You speak of my lack of depth to the level of my thought. Really? Is that really what you want to do? Perhaps you were joking and being facetious. Perhaps I'm the one now who is in need of a sense of humor. Once again, I give you the benefit of the doubt.

capra_esque said...

"That commercial would be funny if produced by a secular source."

Huh? Funny is funny Rickles. Making unnecessary distinctions is funny too.

"Let me test this one on you. Is everything fair game for laughs? How about rape? Child pornography? Genocide?"

No. No. Yes.*

"...should McManus throw the support of his church behind a commercial that is going to run during the Superbowl or should he throw the weight of his church behind the Gospel?"

The Gospel obviously but this was not my question. I was not speaking to this issue. I was speaking to the wrong-headed opinions that the commercial wasn't funny and that the context of the commercial made it so.

Anybody remember the Chuckles the Clown funeral episode on the old Mary Tyler Moore show? Now that was funny! Would it make any difference to people like Rickles to know that one of the staff writers for that show that helped write that episode was a Christian? According to Rickles, I guess that episode is no longer funny now. Sheesh!

*For the funny boneless out there (I’m talking to you Bobby), that was a joke too.

candy said...

Capra...a sense of humor is one thing, and if you dig a little, I am sure you will find plenty of funny things that Phil, Dan, and Frank have shared on this blog. But....condescencion is not funny at all, and it is especially not funny in your comments.

SandMan said...

I listened to a sermon online from Dr. MacArthur recently. In an illustration, he commented that he was accused of being less funny/jovial than when he was younger. His response (I paraphrase) was that after all the years of contending for the faith and witnessing depravity at work, stuff just didn't seem as funny as it used to. I thought that was an insightful look at maturity.

Bobby Grow said...

Capra,

Yes, that was a generalization, again, you need to develop your critical thinking skills.

Sure I want to challenge the depth of your thought. If you can't make a connection between the context of that commerical and the Gospel, and the intent of that commerical -- relative to its context (which is that is being produced by the "pastor" by the "people" in the "church" so the church can "profit" in the name of Christ) then your thought, at best is very sloppy. If you're unable to see the interconnectedness of theo-logic and ideas -- which at this point you are evidencing -- then, YES, I will challenge your thought. If you think that making money for a "church" off of a promo ad is viable, and then couple that with the irrevence shown in the actual commerical; then most certainly, I will challenge your thought.

There is no such thing as "Christian comedians," or "Christian music," etc. "Christian is a noun," not an adjective. Sure, there are Christians who are comedians, and musicians, etc. But that's not the point. The point is, you don't make a mockery of something sacred in the name of Christ to make money for your church. That kind of activity is driven by theology, for sure, "BAD Theology." I hope this is starting to connect, Capra.

stratagem said...

Personally I would have no criticism of McManus if he were being funny and also accurately proclaiming the Gospel. But it sounds like he is doing one at the expense of the other, or at least doing one and neglecting the other. Isn't that the real issue here?

capra_esque said...

Bobby Grow,

Do you realize how everything you write comes across as moralizing and judgmental and condescending? Just because you type it doesn't make it true.

What is starting to connect for me is your hubris and not so subtle attempt to demean me by suggesting that just because I might not hold to your opinion I am not capable of deep thought and therefore not as smart as you or at your level.

I have a question for you. Are you married?

Frank Turk said...

I cannot believe that someone who has ever read this blog more than once ever would say that the TeamPyro players think comedy died with Red Skelton.

See: that is funny.

Sir Brass said...

Frank, especially if they have ever read your thread derails or Dan's bullseye one-liners :)

Those sometimes are the comments that really make my day ;) :).

capra_esque said...

Mr. Turk,

Believe it or not, this is actually my first time on your blog. I have appreciated some of Phil's writings and speaking from afar but never spent time on this site. My apologies on the Red Skelton comment. You are probably more of a Shecky Green kind of guy!

Phil Johnson said...

Ack. I had a long lunchtime meeting, and look what happened to the meta.

1. For the record, I think it's just as wrong-headed for one church to organize a boycott of Doritos as it is for another to arrange a Super-bowl commercial for them.

2. I hate when the best argument someone can come up with for a point of view is an emotionally-laden "It offends me!" rather than a rationally-based reason. (Even when--especially when--the person claiming to be offended is on my side of an argument.)

3. I think we ought to outlaw all complaints about "tone" here. While I do think it's possible to undercut one's own argument with an inappropriate tone (I oughta know; I've done it), I'd much rather focus on the actual issue on the table and not get sidetracked into unnecessary bickering about someone's "tone" or "attitude" in EVERY SINGLE THREAD. That's a tired pomo ploy I don't approve of, even when it's used by people who agree with me on the issue.

My reasons for all three points were nicely summed up by Kevin DeYoung at 6:40 EST this very morning.

jmb said...

capra_esque

I doubt that the man whose name you have appropriated would laugh at the trivialization of death.

In "It's a Wonderful Life," death is taken so seriously that Capra and his screenwriter resort to the supernatural to save George Bailey's life. The comicality of the angel is in no way a comment on death itself.

Even in "Arsenic and Old Lace," explicitly a black comedy, the focus of the humor is on the dottiness of the two old ladies, not on death.

I'm very fond of black comedies like "Dr. Strangelove" and "The Loved One" (particularly the former). One reason they are funny is that their creators assume that death is to be taken seriously. As in the Mary Tyler Moore episode, our laughter is a temporary relief from death's seriousness.

It's the trivialization of death, as in the commercial, that is the issue, I think. Admittedly, there's a thin line between that and, say, the examples I've noted. But I think it's there.

Bobby Grow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
capra_esque said...

jmb,

All excellent points, but I think you are missing the forest for the trees here. The fact that death is trivialized is the joke. Only a complete and utter buffoon would do such a thing. And only another buffoon would think its a great idea. That's the commercial. We laugh at it because those idiots are so absurd to think that "faking" one's death so you could eat Doritos is a good idea. Only a complete idiot would think such a thing. This is the very essence of comedy. You take something mundane or sacred and look at it through the lens of absurdity. This is what any good 30 second commercial is going to do. We laugh at the idiot and his actions precisely because we are not him, and yet a part of us can identify with him.

Wow. I just wrote all that about a stupid Doritos commercial. I think I am officially a dork.

Phil Johnson said...

Bobby Grow: "Is this in reference to me?"

Not specifically. I'm "blessed" with a terrible short-term memory, so that by the time I read the thread, I forget who said what. But reading this thread, I noticed a disproportionately high number of comments dealing with "tone" rather than substance.

To Everyone:

As I said, the question of whether the Mosaic commercial is funny or not is entirely beside the real point I was making. Why don't we table that aspect of this debate?

Though I described the commercial as "tasteless" (and I stand by that) I wouldn't say it was devoid of all humor. I thought the guy who raises his arms and says, "It's a miracle!" made some very funny facial expressions here and there.

So what? Does that really alter the point I'm making about how this sort of junk derails the church from her real mission and actually obscures the gospel rather than proclaiming it?

donsands said...

"The boycott really hurt Ford"

I like Ford. In fact I own a Ford 500. I bought it used, and trdaed in an Impala. No more chevy's for me.
I would think there are many brothers and sisters in Christ who work for Ford. So I'm not into the boycotting thing if it may hurt my fellow workers in Christ.

However, have at it if that is where your heart is.
Mine isn't there.

David Rudd said...

phil,

since he is not as big here in the midwest as "others", i don't know much about mcmanus other than that i find his books utterly unreadable (for reasons beyond theology).

i'm wondering if you would see this commercial project as something similar to the noomas?

Bobby Grow said...

Capra said:

Do you realize how everything you write comes across as moralizing and judgmental and condescending? Just because you type it doesn't make it true.

It is true, thus I type it! ;-)

When you say "everything," are you generalizing? Actually that seems to be what they call a "sweeping generalization" (since you've taken from a very small sampling of my writing, and then used that as the criteria for all of my writing). I'm trying to provide you with a rational/logico driven response :-).

Unfortunately, I don't know (or really, care) enough about McManus' theology to provide a detailed precis, inclusive of deduction and syllogism to meet the standards of further engagement, Capra . . . so I'll defer to Phil's original post for that. And since what we were discussing was really a rabbit trail I'll defer to my option not to interact further on this thread.

Enjoyed the laughs, Capra, have a good one!

PS. One of my real problems is that I'm just a smart alek. Although my dispassion/or passion gets the best of me sometimes.

capra_esque said...

Phil,

My apologies if I am the culprit behind derailing this conversation onto less pertinent issues. I merely wanted to correct the notion that this wasn't a funny commercial.

However to your last question...

"Does that really alter the point I'm making about how this sort of junk derails the church from her real mission and actually obscures the gospel rather than proclaiming it?"

Why is it junk? I'm no McManus apologist but I assume they would see it as a way for the church to get "exposure" so that more people would come visit their church. How is this any different than you inviting someone to your church at the park? Surely you have used humor in your conversations with people you meet in public settings and you invite them to church. Are those people not going to attend your church based on their initial encounter with you?

Bobby Grow said...

Phil,

Oh good, I was starting to feel self-conscious. But I agree with you on "substance/tone," it's alot easier to get emotional; takes more time to provide rational arguement, esp. in a combox on a blog (which can become one of the draw-backs, but you know all this).

SermonFire said...

1st Reaction I had was "Erwin Mcwho?"

2nd Reaction I had was, he must be serious, after all he changed his twitter profile to that domain where he's pimping the commercial.

3rd Reaction I had was that the commercial made me think of my catholic grandfather's funeral.

Nothing says Doritos commercial like "Make fun of funerals".

Thanks Erwin. You really brighten my day. /sarcasm

On a more uplifting note, Snack Attack Ninja, House Rules, Kids these Days should be the only three because they are the only three that are actually funny.

Phil Johnson said...

capra_esque: "Why is it junk? I'm no McManus apologist but I assume they would see it as a way for the church to get "exposure" so that more people would come visit their church. How is this any different than you inviting someone to your church at the park?"

Dude, you really are a first-time reader, and you didn't even read THIS post with much care. I answered your question in both the post and the addendum.

I suggest you poke around the blog and read a little bit before you comment any more. It might speed things up for you if you google "fads" and "pragmatism" and "gospel" on this site and read some of the posts that come up. Then come back and we'll talk.

Bobby Grow said...

Phil asked:

So what? Does that really alter the point I'm making about how this sort of junk derails the church from her real mission and actually obscures the gospel rather than proclaiming it?

and then Capra responded:

. . . Are those people not going to attend your church based on their initial encounter with you?

Okay, sorry, I'm back.

This is nothing, really but Pelagianism (cuss-word), as far as logic. It is the belief that if we don't soften or sweeten the Gospel with our 'perceived' notions of what makes "soft and sweet," then they won't come. Methodologically this starts with the belief that "we" need to get them here (church); instead of the notion that "He" (the Holy Spirit) brings them here (church). And it is in the name of "us" bringing them in, that we can justify any and every means of supposedly "bringing in the sheaves."

Not only is this wrong theologically, but ethically; this follows a utilitarian/consequentialist ethic that says the ends justify any means. I would argue that this is not the ethic of scripture or Jesus. That the means (like the Incarnation and thecross) are just as important as the ends (the resurrection and ascension).

In the end, McManus' approach is the worn out church growth technique of "meeting the felt need, so we can supposedly meet the 'real' need."

capra_esque said...

Bobby,

In the words of late great Ronald Reagan, there you go again. Your "veiled" ad hominem attacks on me only unveil the deeper issues you have in your own heart. Guys like you only talk this in cyberspace. You would never be so condescending like this to someone in person for fear of retribution. You shouldn't be so duplicitous in your actions. Treat others as you would want to be treated my friend.

Sir Aaron said...

donsands:

I would think there are many brothers and sisters in Christ who work for Ford. So I'm not into the boycotting thing if it may hurt my fellow workers in Christ.

I wasn't giving my opinion on the boycott, only offering a history and an assessment of effectiveness for your benefit since you appeared to be unfamiliar with the AFA and their boycotts.

For the record, I own an F250, although it has given me many problems, especially in comparison to my perfect Acura. I am, however, sympathetic to the argument that we ought to be careful who we support with our money. On the other hand, I think it's very impractical to do so. So I guess I have mixed feelings.

Rick Frueh said...

I would not object so much if they endorsing Bugles and instead of a coffin it was an urn!

(See - humor!)

Bobby Grow said...

Capra,

That's not true, I talked like this all the time with the guys on the dock I work with (that's when I was working, hoping to get back soon). I like being real and authentic (in face and cyberspace). So now you've ignored the fact that you've engaged in a caricature of me based on a sweeping generalization. And then you use a red herring by asserting that I've engaged in ad hominen in re. to you (where?). And you've assumed the position of God, by claiming to know the intentions of my heart.

Basically your whole engagement here has been fishy (red herring); which I really don't like (I prefer salmon or halibut). Not really interested in interacting with you anymore, Capra. Figure out what you believe, how to formulate it and articulate it in a way that makes sense (i.e. not anecdotal).

capra_esque said...

Phil,

Once again I apologize for being new to your site. (Of which you people are the least accommodating group I have ever seen. Geesh.) I don't even agree with McManus and this whole commercial business!

To you and Mean Bobby's point, of course crass marketing is unnecessary and of course it is the Spirit that draws us to Him, but are you suggesting the exact opposite that we shouldn't be inviting people to church because the Spirit is got it all covered? At what point do we participate in the declaration and invitation of the Gospel?

Bobby Grow said...

Capra,

One last point, I'm sure Phil would not want to be associated with me (this just show's your newness here, maybe to blogging in general, you don't seem to have the necessary barbs for this kind of venue ;-); but that is funny, "Mean Bobby," I've never got that one before (but at the rate I start blogs, that might make a great title, thanks ;-).

You need to quit taking this time so seriously, in some ways, Capra (blogging). There are certainly serious things being discussed, but I've never understood why people take this so personally. Esp. when all of this is actually anecdotal blurbs, back and forth.

peace, enjoy the blogosphere, and welcome :-).

capra_esque said...

Bobby,

I assure you I do not wish to take God's position in your life. However, if you are offering...repent, learn some social skills, and accept the resurrected Christ as your Lord and Savior. Guys that start it always have a problem with finishing it.

But I digress...

SermonFire,

I think those are funny too, but I have to admit I'm partial to the dog one.

SolaMommy said...

On the "Casket" site a commenter named "Kompton" said,

Ministers and churches are making doritos commercials now?...This is so stupid. No wonder people have stopped going to church.

Way to reel-em-in, Erwin.

Sharon said...

Once again, May I offer the suggestion that any "drive-by" that does not have a viewable profile be, at the least, moderated?

donsands said...

"..Only offering a history and an assessment" -Aaron

I appreciate that. Thanks.

"Some say he is a "pastor" (though he seems to eschew that title and most other ecclesiastical terms)." -Phil

I don't like that, when some one who is in the role of a pastor, says he isn't really a pastor.

I like a pastor who knows he has been called by the Lord Jesus Christ to feed and tend His sheep. Not that I put them on a pedestal, I don't. But when you are called to pastor a church, then be a pastor.
You can surely be low-key, and not want a lot of recognition, but be a pastor nonetheless.

To just say I'm one of the all, or how ever they say it.

I thank our Lord for His gifts to the Church, to me, and one of His gifts to us is His pastors.

"“‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding." Jer. 3:15

"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant" Heb. 12:22-24

stratagem said...

Mr. Capra
you said
I'm no McManus apologist but I assume they would see it as a way for the church to get "exposure" so that more people would come visit their church. How is this any different than you inviting someone to your church at the park?

There is a huge difference: If more people come to Erwin's church, they come there and have no exposure to the Biblical Gospel. If more people come to Phil's church, they come there and do hear the Biblical Gospel.

Can you explain why that doesn't make a difference, if you think it doesn't? Or, admit that it does make a difference?

capra_esque said...

Stratagem,

Your issue seems to be "what" or "where" you are inviting them to and I understand that completely. There is definitely a difference between inviting someone to Erwin's church versus Phil's church. I agree with that. I was asking for clarification on Phil's question. My question was at what point do we participate in the declaration and invitation of the Gospel?

olan strickland said...

Capra_esque: Why is it junk? I'm no McManus apologist but I assume they would see it as a way for the church to get "exposure" so that more people would come visit their church.

Capra_esque's ecclesiology! Now that's funny :)

You really ought to go to the book of Ephesians as your primary source for ecclesiology and not this unsound "market-driven" approach. Then you might get what Phil is saying!

Solameanie said...

One thing that I think is interesting . . . so many of the Emergent-types say that they want to get back to a more "authentic" Christianity. Some even claim that they're getting back to a more biblical, historic Christianity.

Funny then, that when I read the book of Acts, or other places in the New Testament, I don't find the Apostles or anyone else engaging in wild gimmicks in order to get the Gospel out. Instead, they're quite serious about it.

I'm far from being humorless, aside from the fact that most people find my sense of humor rather tiresome. But I am dead serious about the Gospel, and dead serious about how the church is supposed to engage with the culture in proclaiming it. When you consider what we're talking about -- that all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God, and that the Lord Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and rose again from the dead for our justification, it's not exactly what I would call fodder for comedy.

Having your sins washed away and being forgiven by God is a tremendous source of joy, no doubt. But there is a difference between that kind of joy and the mindless hilarity you'd find in a Barnum and Bailey clown routine.

One last observation. When you think of the church being "prophetic" to the culture, it's hard to imagine prophetic pronouncements coupled together with a drum rim shot.

Phil Johnson said...

capra_esque: "My question was at what point do we participate in the declaration and invitation of the Gospel?"

I see.

Well, that's where the confusion lies. Because the question you asked was about "inviting someone to your church," and that's a completely different thing. Getting unchurched people to go to a church meeting isn't really the same thing as declaring the gospel to them, and the problem is exacerbated by magnitudes if the "church" you get them to attend never proclaims the gospel.

This is one of the major fallacies behind the Mosaic approach. With all the talk about "reaching" unchurched people, they've lost sight of what the gospel is, and substituted an invitation to join their "community" in place of the gospel's call to repentance from sin and faith in Christ.

All this is thoroughly discussed in scores of posts on this blog. As I said earlier, your interaction here might be helped a great deal if you would take time to read and listen to what we have been saying, and gain a basic understanding of where we stand before you devote so much energy to challenging every other comment in the thread.

capra_esque said...

Olan,

I was trying to explain how people like McManus think about this sort of thing with that comment. I was not speaking of myself, nor was I trying to defend their thinking. I was merely making a statement.

Phil,

Don't we want to invite people to our churches to hear the Gospel preached? I guess what I'm trying to ask is what in your opinion does an "invite" look like? Is a "flyer" considered as crass as the commercial or a billboard?

Solameanie said...

Capra,

I'm more inclined to share the Gospel as I have opportunity in my daily life, and keep the "assembly" for it's primary purpose, which is for believers to worship God, fellowship, and to be equipped for ministry. If you do that, then that sort of eliminates the need for promoting events that probably won't attract the people you're hoping to attract.

I'm not saying that there's anything necessarily or inherently wrong with a local church having an evangelistic event of some type. I just don't view that as the primary purpose of the assembly. The idea that the main purpose of the assembly is evangelistic is probably one of the main contributing factors to why so many of these fads get started. And in the end, what evangelism is really taking place?

colin mattoon said...

I have been critical of Phil Johnson at times, but hes absolutely right on this one. This is just ridiculous. Even if you liked the commercial (which I don't), the absent gospel critique is right on. From my experience in Portland OR. its as though many in the emerging (not emergent) community think trendiness is someone equivelent to, or an acceptable replacement of, the Gospel. Trendiness will not justify us, nor will having cool marketing, but only the blood.

Phil Johnson said...

capra_esque:

Seriously, it would benefit you and everyone else if you would take some time to read a generous helping of the blog before you pursue this line of commenting.

If you want to argue against my position, that's fine. But it would help your argument if you took time to learn what you're arguing against rather than just firing these scattershot salvoes to see if you hit anything. It looks like you're just trolling for an argument, and we have no duty to cater to that. In fact, the blog rules forbid it. (See rule 6 in the lower right sidebar.)

You admitted you are new to the blog, and in an earlier comment I suggested some threads you should start reading. Why not check those out before posting another comment or trying to provoke a new argument?

Strong Tower said...

"I guess what I'm trying to ask is what in your opinion does an "invite" look like? Is a "flyer" considered as crass as the commercial or a billboard?"

Well you could try the woman at the well theme: "Come see the man who told me all that I ever did."

Of course, they knew what kind of woman she was.

Or the Andrew/Simonized version: 'He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).'

Or you might try you might try the Jesus version: "Follow me." (This was latter coopted by Paul as "Follow for I follow Christ." Sometimes expressed as "Follow their example." Or the beta version, "Where shall we go, you alone have the Words of Eternal Life," can be adapted as "Where shall you go? Go there, they teach only the Words of Eternal Life."

Or, you can cut a commercial that displays only self-endugence and narcissism, portrays death as assurance and then profanes the resurrection and never mentions the pathetic person that you are and how you were shown how pathethic you are and that you think others should see just how pathetic they are so that they can receive the wonderful good news about Christ' perfect sacrifice and his resurrection for them, just as you have. And that is easy. Just pretend there is no spoon.

Now, if you really wanted to make an impact you could pool your money, buy a 30 second slot and air an already produced Gospel message and list the sponsoring Gospel centered churches. But- that would offend millions, sell nothing, and evoke the cursing of the MSM.

Wunce upon a Phil: "They think the central challenge of evangelism is basically a packaging problem. They think in terms of pimping the gospel rather than preaching it."

It is even wurcer, now.

It used to be that before you paid for the trick you got to at least see the product even if it was diseased (a la Kevin Hendricks). With MacManus the product is dead on arrival. Maybe he should team with Tim Burton? I mean Corpse Bride Church might just work for some.

capra_esque said...

Solameanie,

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question so directly. Your response makes a lot of sense.

Phil,

Perhaps you are so use to being argumentative that you failed to recognize that I was only asking a question and not trying to pick a fight. Geesh! Put your gun back in your holster.

I just discovered your site, and saw all the postings and thought I would jump into the conversation. I assumed that was why the site existed so that we could engage in conversation over these issues. You guys make a new person feel really welcomed. I hope this isn't how you treat visitors at Grace on Sunday.

Phil Johnson said...

capra_esque: "I hope this isn't how you treat visitors at Grace on Sunday."

Well, I don't know. We've never had a visitor who seemed so bent on being snide and insulting. But if one showed up, I'd probably take him aside and make pretty much the same kind of plea I made with you. If he took that as some kind of maltreatment, I'd be sorry (for him), but it wouldn't alter my perception of whether it's appropriate for someone who doesn't really grasp the gist of an argument to wade into an ongoing conversation and immediately take a belligerent tone--then persist in being argumentative even after being admonished by his hosts about it.

capra_esque said...

Argumentative? I asked a question.

mike said...

this got awesome when the conversation became...
comment
huh uh! what about...?
comment
huh uh! what about...?
comment
huh uh! what about...?
comment
huh uh! what about...?
comment
huh uh! what about...?


i think i learned a lot.

Strong Tower said...

"Publicity is not the same thing as evangelism. Fad-chasing isn't "missional." You're not "reaching" people in any meaningful sense at all if the gospel is not the center and the main substance of your message to the world."

It matters how you exegete this, but I am pretty sure it answers the questions, capra. But let me sum it up for you. We are to proclaim and declare from the beginning. The invitation to church then is founded upon that. Or, to interpret, "Come see the man who told me," "Could this be the Christ," since we do not have the entire conversation, let me provide what perhaps transpired. She went and told them of the water of life she had received and asked them the question in reference to what they had been long looking for, "We know that when the Christ comes he will tell us all things." When the heard for themselves, they believed.

So to answer your question, the first thing is the right proclamation of the Gospel, not the invitation to church. He who told her all things was confirmation of the Gospel and so she invited them to bear witness to what she knew. The invitation to church can be delivered to a person who does not yet grasp grace, but in either case, the first thing, up front, without commercializing the message with your best life now, look what Jesus did for me, a country club membership, or a persona, should be the Gospel.

And I don't think Phil tries to get others to come to his church to hear more of his humor. I am sure he tries to take himself out of the equation. MacArthur's people would make the same mistake as McManus' if they offered to people MacArthur and not Christ. That would be as much crass commercialization as any other.

capra_esque said...

Strong Tower,

Thanks for your answer. I appreciate you taking the time to answer me. What you wrote makes a lot of sense.

Dr Bill said...

< soapbox mode >

You know, when I watched the commercial, a sad irony struck me. What is there to see? The unique "churchy" look and magnificent architecture of a traditional gothic building; a pipe organ console in the background; people dressed to the nines in their Sunday best, including the "deceased;" and classical music in the soundtrack. Ooops, that last one is heard, not seen, and it's a comic opera overture ("Thieving Magpie"), not anything specifically "sacred."

So, the culture represented in this commercial (excluding chips & TV!) is profoundly, glaringly traditional, traditions McManus repudiates thoroughly and in every possible way at his "church." Surely this is done this way because a funeral is a solemn occasion, right? But then, in our casual culture today, don't people take a funeral more seriously than a church service and in their demeanor show the deceased more respect than God, and that becomes part of the butt of the joke? I can't help but take that a little personally...

Look, I think of others as being no less spiritual if they come to church in shorts, T-shirt, and flip-flops, but I choose to dress up because I'm there to meet with Almighty God. That in my way of thinking is a solemn occasion, a way of thinking based on worship in the Bible. Funny how sportscasters, stand-up show hosts and their bands, or people going to a dance club dress better than those going to church offer their worship to the Lord.

So don't miss the satire this ad makes on church culture, and the sadness of it coming from a "come as you are, leave as you were" church.

< /soapbox mode >

terriergal said...

I guess I'm not against the commercial itself. It's pretty silly and irreverent. But yeah devoting the church's resources to and attaching the church's name to this? THAT is a travesty.

Ian said...

To Whom it may concern,

I contacted a representative from Mosaic they were kind enough to respond to my question and let me know he short video was funded independent of Mosaic’s tithes and offerings.

I apologize that my comments suggested otherwise.

Jay said...

"Pastor" McManus and his Mosaic "church" seem awfully insignifcant compared to the missionary family I know where the father was in one of the hospitals that collapsed in Haiti, he got out from the rubble to walk the eight miles home to find his house destroyed - but his wife and children safe because they were in the yard doing Bible study when the earthquake hit.
I wonder if McManus could do a quirky little comedy film on that?

Diane R said...

About two years ago I read the first five of McManus's books. And, I came to the same conclusion s this post, although I felt the first book, the title of which I cannot recall now, was much better gospel-speaking than the rest. But I also thought, "You know, this is like reading an emergent version of Joel Osteen." I also felt I could go into any secular bookstore, go to their self-help/self-esteem section and read the very same thing by secular authors.

So sad. I live about 20 minutes from his Pasadena church and know a few younger Christians that have been mesmerized by him.

donsands said...

"I contacted a representative from Mosaic they were kind enough to respond to my question and let me know he short video was funded independent of Mosaic’s tithes and offerings."

That's good to know. Thanks for doing that.

Daniel said...

Phil Johnson, I feel sorry for you. Honestly Phil I've met you in the past, Americas Keswick, Whiting, NJ, brother I will pray for you. Living with that kind of bitterness and critical spirit can't be easy.

Daniel said...

Oops I think I violated the rules. My apologies, I went back and re-read the "good behavior" guidelines set forth by this site. Phil I'll send you an email. Call me pragmatic, but one thing I know for sure is that Jesus Christ has used Erwin McManus to help this heroine addict come into an everlasting relationship with an awesome God. (Phill feel free to "rip" all the theological inconsistencies in that last statement.)

Stan McCullars said...

Another cowardly Profile Not Available comment.

donsands said...

"Living with that kind of bitterness and critical spirit can't be easy."

Daniel, you have judged Phil poorly, and very incorrectly. In fact, it sounds like you have a bitter heart. You need to apologize my friend.

jmb said...

"Call me pragmatic, but one thing I know for sure is that Jesus Christ has used Erwin McManus to help this heroine addict come into an everlasting relationship with an awesome God."

I sympathize. I have long been obsessed with Jane Eyre.

Nathan said...

I posted this elsewhere, but it bears repeating here. Does anyone here remember the last words of Jesus? “Go into the world, and make disciples of all nations.” This command carries with it a few implications — 1., that the world is a place we are called into, and 2. that we are called not just to “get converts,” but to “make disciples” — i.e., build deep, lasting relationships people who will reflect us as we reflect Christ. (Hence Paul’s exhortations to follow him as he followed Christ.)

So to those who wonder, “who cares about culture,” it seems pretty clear that Jesus did not call His followers out of their world; He actually sent them into it. As a result, we are called to be fully present in the world, and for the most part, the world is not present in our churches on Sunday. Two questions emerge then -- what do we preach on Sunday to Christ followers, and how do we reach the world?

In terms of Sundays, perhaps our view of the Gospel needs to be expanded to encompass the greater Gospel Jesus was about — which was not just a call to repentance, but to life in the Kingdom (”Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”). Pastors like Erwin are focused on depicting Kingdom life and challenging us to press into it. Is this not the meat that Paul wishes we would hunger for? The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the critical necessary entrance point into the Christian faith, but I’m sure that most on this board would agree that our faith only starts there.

I'm also fascinated by the notion that "the Gospel" is a uniform thing. Consider that Jesus met different needs in different ways — to the woman caught in adultery He said, “Go leave your life of sin.” To the rich young ruler He said, “Sell your belongings.” To the bleeding woman He said, “Your faith has made you well.” Different people have different needs; the Good News is that those needs are met in Jesus, Who died, rose, and is coming again for those who will place their faith in Him. That faith willbe applied differently to each one, but Jesus is always the endgoal. As John Piper says, “God is the Gospel.”

Secondly, the whole point of making disciples is that we become God’s transforming agents in the world. We must be fully present in the world. Paul became a tentmaker. The vast majority of Los Angelenos work in the film/TV industry. So how exactly is building relationships in that world by creating a work of excellence (as exhorted by Scripture) such a problem? Or is the success of the commercial the real problem? Should irrelevance be the nobler (and easier) goal? This seems to go against Paul’s words in Romans, saying “How will they know unless they hear?” Some Christians seem to be unhappy unless they have been rejected by the world, and therein find their legitimacy — but, as Fred Phelps reminds us, rejection by the world does not necessarily mean acceptance by Christ.

“Do everything with excellence, as unto the Lord,” say the Scriptures. “Everything God created is good if received with thanksgiving.” Drawing a false dichotomy between sacred and secular goes against the fullness of life the Scriptures offer. In any event, since the Kingdom of God is not one of words, but of power (as Paul says in 1 Corinthians), it is not words that count, but actions. “Preach the Gospel, and when necessary use words,” is the old St. Francis of Assisi quote.

In any event, this commercial — made by a group of friends from Mosaic — is only one very small aspect of the tremendous work that Mosaic does in the world, through small group Bible studies, through baptisms, through commissioned missionaries sent out every year through the IMB, through short-and-long-term missions work, through community outreach among the urban poor. (Including outreach work currently happening in Haiti.) Those wishing to pass judgment on Erwin and Mosaic should perhaps look deeper than a silly Super Bowl commercial.

trogdor said...

I posted this elsewhere, but it bears repeating here.
No, it really doesn't.

Does anyone here remember the last words of Jesus? “Go into the world, and make disciples of all nations.” This command carries with it a few implications — 1., that the world is a place we are called into, and 2. that we are called not just to “get converts,” but to “make disciples” — i.e., build deep, lasting relationships people who will reflect us as we reflect Christ. (Hence Paul’s exhortations to follow him as he followed Christ.)
So far, so good...

So to those who wonder, “who cares about culture,
Which is... who, exactly? Hacking merrily through fields of straw men is quite fun, I agree, but now is not the time or place.

it seems pretty clear that Jesus did not call His followers out of their world; He actually sent them into it. As a result, we are called to be fully present in the world...
Well, there goes my plan to live out the Christian life as an ethereal spirit! I'd better tell Geordi to stop messing with that phasing cloak, lest a mishap leave us stranded between dimensions, since we're called to be fully present here.

...and for the most part, the world is not present in our churches on Sunday.
If we can't bring the world to church, perhaps if we try hard enough, we can make the church just like the world, eh?

Two questions emerge then -- what do we preach on Sunday to Christ followers, and how do we reach the world?
Oh, I'll give it a shot. (1) How to make your pagan friends think you're cool. (2) The same things they already revel in, except occasionally we may mention Jesus. Maybe. If it won't make them too mad, that is.

In terms of Sundays, perhaps our view of the Gospel needs to be expanded to encompass the greater Gospel Jesus was about — which was not just a call to repentance, but to life in the Kingdom (”Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”).
True dat. However, if you're going to play the 'not just' card, that necessarily implies 'at least'. That is, if you claim the gospel is more than a call to repentance, it must at least include a call to repentance!

Alright, I'm tired of this already. I have no idea how Frank does this so often.

trogdor said...

Oh, I guess a little more couldn't hurt.

Paul became a tentmaker.
To support himself until the gift arrived to fund the ministry, at which point he left the skins behind and preached the gospel all day, every day. There's wonderful theology of work available, but do yourself a favor and don't pretend Paul went into tentmaking so he could build bridges to tanners.

The vast majority of Los Angelenos work in the film/TV industry.
Really? LA County is about 10 million people. Well over 5 million of them - at least one in 60 of the entire nation - are in that one industry in just that one area?

So how exactly is building relationships in that world by creating a work of excellence (as exhorted by Scripture) such a problem?
If you can find a single person who has made this complaint, please, point it out. Perhaps if you re-read the post and critical comments, you may discover what people actually have a problem with. Hint: it seems he may do things excellently except proclaim God's Word to the lost who desperately need to hear it, and in fact his 'excellent' work belittles the very time when he, a supposed pastor/teacher, should be proclaiming the gospel the most boldly.

Or is the success of the commercial the real problem?
Yep, you nailed it. Has nothing to do with him being a goat-herding wolf. It's just jealousy. (Did you pick up the sarcasm, Chachi, or do I need to invest in the new sarcasm mark?)

Should irrelevance be the nobler (and easier) goal?
How about this as a goal: fidelity to God's revealed will for his chosen people, such as to live in a manner worthy of the calling we've received and to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that he commanded us. Such a goal is not really served by (a) having a 'church' where the gospel is never preached, or (b) belittling death and mourning instead of proclaiming the hope of eternal life through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There, done.

Nathan said...

Trogdor,

Cool name. I like Homestar Runner too.


If we can't bring the world to church, perhaps if we try hard enough, we can make the church just like the world, eh?


Or, you know, we could try bringing the church to the world. Which is a far more dangerous task. But that's seems to be what Jesus told people to do.


if you're going to play the 'not just' card, that necessarily implies 'at least'. That is, if you claim the gospel is more than a call to repentance, it must at least include a call to repentance!


I assume you know that the basic definition of 'repentance' is 'to make a change, to turn around'. If you've listened to any of Erwin's podcasts you'd know that many of his sermons have to do with this very issue of changing our behavior and living like Jesus. So I'm glad we all agree on the crucial role repentance plays in a walk with Jesus.


don't pretend Paul went into tentmaking so he could build bridges to tanners.


Actually, given Paul's relatively short missionary trips (the longest he was anywhere was 3 years in Ephesus), the 14 years he spent before his first trip (where he probably learned his tentmaking trade, since his training as a Jewish scholar didn't have much practical application in the real world), the fact that he spent most of his off-time in Antioch, and his cautions against those who accepted money for ministry, Paul actually spent very little time as a professional preacher. So I'd be surprised if he didn't make tents on a fairly regularly basis. He had to support himself somehow (given his strong exhortation to do so in Eph 5), and given his focus on others, he probably did have a strong ministry to tanners.


LA County is about 10 million people. Well over 5 million of them - at least one in 60 of the entire nation - are in that one industry in just that one area?


13 Million, actually. About 2.5M are professionally working, and at least another 2.5M trying to. So...I'd say your numbers are about right. 5M people all working (or trying to) in one industry. And they all need the One Who brings Hope.


Has nothing to do with him being a goat-herding wolf. It's just jealousy. (Did you pick up the sarcasm, Chachi, or do I need to invest in the new sarcasm mark?)


You should really use words like "goat-herding wolf" very carefully. Or at the very least, justify them. And as far as jealousy -- there are plenty of Christians who have an inherent distrust of success. But Jesus, Paul, and John the Baptiser all had seasons of success...as well as moments of soul-crushing failure. Neither means that God wasn't with them.

fidelity to God's revealed will for his chosen people, such as to live in a manner worthy of the calling we've received and to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that he commanded us.

Then we agree. Erwin lives in a manner worthy, and plenty of people are following Jesus because of his life and ministry. So I'm not sure what bone you have left to pick.

And you might want to look up the definition of "respectful" before future posts.

trogdor said...

I'm afraid today is yet another full day, so I won't be able to spend much time on this today. I should apologize for the sarcasm/Chachi remark, which was unnecessary and disrespectful.

Lest you misunderstand, here's what I meant by "goat-herding wolf". I meant that he's a false teacher who is preaching a non-gospel and leading people astray. Clear? Because I wouldn't want you to think I'm carelessly insinuating that he's a false teacher, I want it to be crystal clear that I'm flat-out accusing him of it.

Here's the thing. This is now at least the third thread totaling hundreds of comments about this guy, and through it all a simple challenge has been out there: produce one single example of McManus preaching the gospel.

As you mentioned, he has his podcasts out there. Point me to one - just one - in which he proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I will gladly and publicly apologize for everything negative I've said about this guy. Same thing with his books - show a passage where he lays out the gospel.

If he preaches it as frequently as you say it is, it really shouldn't be that hard. Yet as many as have vehemently asserted he's a faithful preacher, not a single one can produce even one example. From the original post linked in this article:
"Am I being too hard on McManus? ... Convince me. It should be easy to do if I'm wrong. Simply show me a few places where McManus makes the gospel plain and clear for his audience, with straightforward, biblical explanations of sin, atonement, and justification for sinners—including a distinct and compelling summons for sinners to repent."

He axed for a few places; I simply axe for even one. So far the count is at zero. 'Coz for all the talk about "taking the church to the world", if the message being taken there does not contain the gospel, what's the point?

So the ball's in your court. If I'm wrong, it should be easy enough to show it. And please, this is one case where I would love to be mistaken. There is nothing in this situation I want more than for you to show me that I'm utterly mistaken, that McManus does in fact preach the gospel. I would love for you to produce not just the one example that would cause me to rejoice while repenting of all I've said about this man, but for you to overwhelm this board with quotes and links and soundbites where he is proclaiming the gospel loud and clear. As stupid and wrong as it would make me look, I would gladly be made to appear a fool if it means the gospel is actually being preached.

There you go. Run with it. Please, prove me wrong.

Nathan said...

Trogdor,

I accept your apology for your tone. These are difficult waters; we don't need to muddy them with snark.


he's a false teacher who is preaching a non-gospel and leading people astray.


I'm not sure what you mean by "non-gospel." Erwin preaches from the Scriptures. Erwin always points the way to Jesus. He has at points very specifically addressed and supported Jesus' words in John: "no one comes through the Father except through me." He's made it very clear in any number of sermons that Jesus is the only way -- he's actually preached very impassioned sermons on the fact that Jesus was the only One Who came for us. (The best is "Life's Toughest Questions: Is Jesus The Only Way?", released in October 2006.) Mosaic is very clear on their calls at the end of services, inviting people who may have made focused committments of their lives to Jesus Christ to meet with staff after the service. So I'm not sure how much clearer you can make it. If you've spent any time with Erwin, you know how Jesus-focused he is in his conversations. So I'm not sure what you're getting at.

And as a point of reference, I've been a part of the Mosaic community since late 2002, so I know whereof I speak.

"Simply show me a few places where McManus makes the gospel plain and clear for his audience, with straightforward, biblical explanations of sin, atonement, and justification for sinners—including a distinct and compelling summons for sinners to repent."

The Sermon on the Mount.
The Prodigal Son.
The Good Samaritan.
The Widow's Lost Coin.
The Farmer.

How many of these stories, preached by Jesus, mention sin, atonement, and justification?

Zero.

I'm not saying these things aren't important and significant; they are. They are the cornerstones of our faith, and Paul goes to great lengths to explain these principles throughout the New Testament. As J.I. Packer talks about in "Knowing God," the notion of substitutionary atonement -- that God would put Himself in our place on the cross -- is a radical one.

At the same time, Jesus didn't spend a whole lot of time preaching about this. As I mentioned earlier, the first recorded message of Jesus was "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near." But what's interesting is that Matthew 5-7 doesn't spend a whole lot of time focusing on repentance, does it? Jesus starts out by describing the Kingdom of God, and He unwraps it for the next three chapters. So I'm merely asking the question -- is it possible that the Gospel of Jesus Christ incorporates more than just sin, justification, and atonement? Does the Good News of Jesus Christ actually include the life that He said He came to give us in John 10? Is it possible that we have missed the forest for the trees by focusing on a Gospel that merely rescues us from sin, to the exclusion of a Gospel that rescues us into the Kingdom of God? And is it possible that this is why our marriages are in disarray, our churches are in decline, our children walking away from the faith?

Is it possible that we have missed the whole point of Jesus' message?

I hope to God that we have not. But if we really want people who are lost in brokenness and despair, we may have to adjust our message. And if we really want to encourage our churches to live in the Kingdom, we may have to adjust our message.

But either way, we must do something different.

It's not wrong to hold people's feet to the fire; it's not wrong to question all things and hold to that which is good, as John 4 tells us. But let's not arbitrarily go after people who are on the edge of what is comfortable -- because as I recall, Jesus was on that edge, and a whole lot of people (dis)missed Him because of it.

Strong Tower said...

Nathan have you ever seriously read the Scripture? Take for instance, Luke 24. The sole reason that Jesus came is explained there. The reason he did what he did and the reason he said what he said, was for one purpose. He said the works he did testified to him. They were all about the Gospel. And his words also, for he said that if you didn't believe his words believe his works.

Somehow you missed both.

You said: "At the same time, Jesus didn't spend a whole lot of time preaching about this." But the fact is that is all that he preached about as I have just demonstrated. He called the two on the road idiots and fools because they did not hear nor see what he had been teaching all along. You would do well to pay attention to that yourself.

Thanks for demontrating the fact the the Gospel has been lost in the maze of McManus and the minions of the *gents.

donsands said...

Nathan,

I agree with Tower. The Gospel, or good news for sinners is that Christ died for us, and saved us from our sins. Otherwise we would deservedly be judged and spend eternity in hell.

Jesus said, "It's better to pluck your eye out, and enter heaven with one eye, than both eyes and be thrown into hell."
The seriousness of this is beyond comprehension.

I think we have lost the heart of the Gospel, the good news of us not having to go to hell, and so the church is weak in all the other areas as well.

Preach Christ crucified, the Savior of our soul,-and what can one give in exchange for your soul-, and you will see Christians full of love, power, and soberness, or soundness.

And perhaps this is Erwin's heart, I don't know.

But I think many in our day think everyone who is half way nice is going to heaven, and just needs to be made a nicer. You know, clean up your drugs, fooling around with women, drinking and partying, and so on.
Or maybe you believe in Jesus, and are nasty as can be, but at least he believes.

Christinas can be diverse in their actions for sure, but there is something about Christ crucified. There's something wonderful about the Cross for every genuine Christian, and it seems like they can't hide it, because they love the old rugged Cross. Not that we loved Jesus first, but because He first loved us, and died for us, we love Him.
And we want Him to have the glory first and foremost. Souls being won are not first really. Christ's glory is first to the Church. That sounds wrong, but to the Christian it doesn't.
Of course lost souls are very important, and i would die for my family if i could.

I hope that might help.

Nathan said...

Strong Tower,


have you ever seriously read the Scripture? Take for instance, Luke 24. The sole reason that Jesus came is explained there. ...the fact is that is all that he preached about as I have just demonstrated.


Have you read the scriptures Strong Tower? Jesus preached on a wide variety of subjects, most of them having to do with the Kingdom. And He summed up His mission thus in John 10:10: "I came that they may have life, and have it to the full."

As I said earlier, the cross is the vital aspect of our salvation. On it our faith is based, as Paul pointed out. But if we say that the cross is the only good news that Jesus came to give, we miss the whole point. Jesus IS the Gospel, as I said before -- His life, His works, His words, His death, His resurrection. And the whole point of entering into relationship with Him is so we can LIVE like Him. True? Yet we have whittled the whole Good News of Jesus down to simply the cross, and the simple fact of the matter is that Jesus did not come merely to die, but also that we might LIVE. Yet there are very few who preach on that life. Which is, I believe, part of why our churches are where they are today.

Again, one only has to read the Scriptures to see that Jesus saw Good News as a varied thing, all of which He reflected. Matthew 5-7 was good news for the broken, the abused, and the ignored; knowing everything the Samaritan woman ever did was good news for her; refusing to condemn the woman caught in adultery was good news for her. All of these things came from Jesus, who is the personhood of Good News. In none of those situations did he say anything about the cross, death, or resurrection. Yet we don't ignore their merit, do we? Of course not -- because we see that Jesus encompassed the breadth of the Good News (which included and was demonstrated by His death and resurrection). This is why I believe we must expand our definition of the Gospel to include all aspects of Jesus' life and teachings. Otherwise, we miss much of what Jesus was about.

Again, our definition of the Gospel must resemble Jesus' in its breadth and scope, or it is devoid of its power.

donsands said...

"..or it is devoid of its power."

The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
There's no other good news that can save a sinner from God's wrath.

I disagree with you Nathan. But, i understand where you see things.

The Cross of Christ is my heart's treasure. his death. His taking my sins on His holy body, and allowing that body to be broken, so that His skin was split and His sacred head was crowned with filthy thorns from our sin.

What a Savior we have! And many in the Church today, don't know this Jesus.

He surely is everything else to us, our God, our Lord and Master, and Teacher, and even Friend.

But He is the Christ, who was crucified for our sins.
All of hundreds of thousands of sins that I committed. My blaphemies, my lusting, and all my ungodliness was put upon Jesus, and He suffered my punishment from God the Father.
He drank the cup of God's white hot wrath, that I deserve, and you deserve, and all sinners deserve.

I don't think the Church thinks we deserve God's wrath. We really don't, do we?

I pray the Church will see how evil their sin is, and then see what God hates about it, and then Jesus will be magnified as the holy Lamb of God as He should be.

And then the Church will see all the other ways Christ care for us, but those other cares won't matter as much, as our salvation.

That is the Gospel, I think, and know really.

Strong Tower said...

"Have you read the scriptures Strong Tower? Jesus preached on a wide variety of subjects, most of them having to do with the Kingdom. And He summed up His mission thus in John 10:10: "I came that they may have life, and have it to the full."

So, having life here to the full, more of the same life we have now, is why he came? Just bigger, brighter, better? You see you miss the whole meaning of why Jesus came. He did not come to give the people their best life now. The life he was speaking of has a context, the context of John, and that life is the life to come. And by concentrating on the minutiae, blinding yourself by good deeds and the promise of life here, you miss the life he promised.

"And He summed up His mission thus in John 10:10." Balderdash! That verse it is clerified in John 17. That life is the life promised in the covenant. But that is only a means to accomplishe a much greater work and that the glorification of his Father. Your eyes are on man. Christ's were on his Father.

Nathan said...

Strong Tower,

Please take a look at my previous post to Trogdor regarding respectful tone. I'm extending it to you; I'd appreciate some in return.


So, having life here to the full, more of the same life we have now, is why he came? Just bigger, brighter, better?


Jesus spent very little time talking about life after death. His message was rooted in the present -- "the Kingdom of God is AT HAND," "the Kingdom of God is within You," "work for as long as it is day." After all, Jesus didn't tell the beggars and the sick to wait for Heaven -- He healed them. He called His followers to do what He did (He even promised they would do greater things).

So I'm not sure that your attempts to paint Jesus' Good News as strictly one about Heaven hold any water. Given that the disciples were known as people who had turned the world upside down in Acts, it's pretty clear that the present world was impacted by the growing Kingdom of God that was being lived out. Jesus was focused on present needs throughout His ministry, and Paul himself cautioned Christians in 1 Thessalonians about being so focused on Heaven that they ignored their present responsibilities.

Be very careful about believing that Jesus' only concern was the next life. That way lies the well-trodden road of gnosticism.

Nathan said...

Don,

Our love for Jesus the Christ is the same. I have no great love for the cross, which is an object of shame, but I have a great love for the One Who was nailed there in my place. What a God we serve.

The one place I would diverge is where you say:


I don't think the Church thinks we deserve God's wrath. We really don't, do we?


It's pretty clear from Paul's words in 1 Corinthians and elsewhere that we were objects of wrath. Now, by being adopted sons and daughters of God, we are now objects of mercy and love. We have passed from death to life. While this does not in any way mean that we have the freedom to indulge the sinful nature (Paul's words in Romans 6 to this point are very clear), it means that we no longer need to labor under the burden of shame and guilt that Jesus carried with Him to Calvary.

I love your heart for Christ, however, and I rejoice in it.

donsands said...

Nathan,

I know the truth is that we are wrath deserving sinners.
I think most people in the Church don't "feel" that they deserve to go to hell. That was my point.
In fact, i think a lot of people believe even some non-Christian really don't deserve to go to hell.

And to love the Cross, is a way of saying I love Christ. I love the Lord for who He is.

Paul said this: "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Gal. 6:14

Have a peaceful evening.



"When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood."

AussieAndy said...

The sad thing for me is that this man and his staff, even when it is brought to their attention that they are failing in their most basic of duties in preaching the gospel, that they don't acknowledge their failure.
It must take massive self-belief to think that you can ignore the commands of the bible to preach repentance and the gospel, and to turn your back on 2000 years of church history.

Yvonne W. said...

Hello Everyone,

Erwin McManus has a well established habit of creating California corporations, either for profit or non-profit.

Three of these companies have had their corporate status suspended by the State of California. Nobody has bothered to legally dissolve these corporations.

A fourth corporation, Awaken Humanity, is still active but there are questions about it's autonomy from both Mosaic and Erwin's other corporate ventures.

I've documented this activity at my own blog Solid Foods.
http://solidfoods.blogspot.com/

Erwin's newest corporation (number 5)is McManus Studios LLC.

Apparently this is the company behind the creation of the Doritos commercial.

Erwin has made it clear that he never intended to be a pastor in the first place even though he accepted the position at the original Church on Brady and used that church [and the money provided by its congregation] to launch his own McManus empire.

Nathan said...

Don,


I know the truth is that we are wrath deserving sinners.


"that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." ~ 1 Cor. 6:11

"You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit." ~ Eph. 2:19-22

God bless you, AussieAndy.

And Yvonne, your comments about Mosaic/Brady seeding the "McManus empire" are about as factually off-base as it gets. But God bless you anyway.

Yvonne W. said...

Hello Nathan,

I was a member of the Church on Brady when Erwin McManus was appointed to take over as lead pastor. I also served as a leader at the Church on Brady/Mosaic in several different positions.
Three members of my family served on the paid staff at Mosaic including my father who once held the position of executive pastor and elder. Several of my friends and acquaintances also served in various leadership positions at Brady/Mosaic.

My facts are correct, however; if you would like to verify them for yourself I suggest you start with the California Business Portal at
http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/

Search for "Awaken" and you'll find the following corporations:

Awaken Center for Creativity
Awaken International
Awaken
Awaken Humanity

All of these have direct ties to Erwin McManus. The first three have had their corporate status suspended.

At the Cal Business Portal you will also find an entry for McManus Studios LLC.

Of course, you can always read through the posts at my blog to find the source materials for my facts.

God bless you.

Nathan said...

Yvonne,


My facts are correct


Let's go back to your original comment and separate fact from fiction.


Erwin has made it clear that he never intended to be a pastor in the first place


Actually, Erwin was already a pastor by the early 90s, having already worked as a pastor among the urban poor for 10 years, so there's no demonstrated hesitation about serving as a pastor based on his background. He was specifically reticent about taking the lead pastorship of the then-Church on Brady, given the long-time leadership and vision of Thom Wolfe. Let's not forget that in reluctantly accepting God's call, Erwin only joins a host of similarly reluctant men of God, including Moses, Joshua and Jeremiah. Since the church has thrived and expanded its local, regional, national, and international influence, you'd have to agree that Erwin has been a faithful steward of the church with which he was entrusted.

You're apparently attempting to use Erwin's hesitation to lead Mosaic to support your assertion below:

he accepted the position at the original Church on Brady and used that church [and the money provided by its congregation] to launch his own McManus empire.

In essence, you're charging that Erwin has fleeced his flock.

Patently ridiculous.

I can only presume that you mean to say that Erwin used his salary from Mosaic to launch his own company -- which is a charge devoid of meaning, since we all have the freedom to do whatever we please with our own financees. (Unless you're saying that Erwin should somehow be denied that right.)

Charging that he has somehow used Mosaic's salary to "launch his empire" further ignores the fact that he has earned far greater income as a speaker, author, and consultant than as a pastor. Many pastors are also speakers and authors, including John MacArthur, John Piper, and A.W. Tozer. Are you saying that no pastor should have any other means of income, and do with it as they please?

In any event, Erwin no longer takes a salary from Mosaic, and is volunteering as lead pastor (following in the footsteps of other pastors like Rick Warren). And Erwin's financial partner in McManus Studios is an outside investor. So I'm not sure what you're trying to assert, but it's simply not backed up by the facts.

Additionally, given that Erwin was as hesitant as you say about stepping in as pastor, doesn't that actually undermine your entire point?

You seem smart; you should know the difference between unsubstantiated assertions and facts. As I cautioned another poster earlier, we should be very careful about the charges we make. Saying that Erwin isn't great at administration is one thing; charging Erwin with stealing from Mosaic is quite another. Thankfully, the facts just aren't on your side.

Yvonne W. said...

Nathan,

I know about Erwin's past work amongst the urban poor in Texas. You'll have to read my blog to find the book and newspaper citations where he has made contradictory statements about his willingness to come on as lead pastor of the Church on Brady, however; you have incorrectly assumed that when I wrote:

"he accepted the position at the original Church on Brady and used that church [and the money provided by its congregation] to launch his own McManus empire"

. . . that I meant he somehow "fleeced" his flock and used his "salary" to launch his own company.

First of all, I don't care what McManus does with his own "salary", you're absolutely right that he is free to do whatever he wants with his own money. If he used his own money to create McManus Studios LLC, that's fine with me.

Secondly, I didn't mean to imply that he fleeced his flock.

What I had in mind is best described in the following article written in the The Christian Examiner, Inland Empire Edition, Vol. 21, No.1, January 2010
"Book royalties allow some pastors to live like kings," by Warren Cole Smith and Rusty Leonard,
EP News

The article quotes Greg Stielstra who "led marketing at both Zondervan and Thomas Nelson" as saying:

. . . an "author's platform" is essential to selling books. "Increasingly, publishers need an author to have a platform, an existing audience," he said. "Success in book publishing means developing sales velocity in the first 90 days."

The article goes on to say that:

". . . without the notoriety generated by multi-million dollar radio and television ministries and megachurch audiences, authors such as Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Paula White - and even more mainstream ministers such as Tim Keller and Rick Warren-would likely not get the jump-start they needed to make the best seller lists."

This is just my opinion but I do think Erwin used his position at the Church on Brady/Mosaic as a stepping stone for his own entrepreneurialism. Erwin does a lot of self-promotion at Mosaic and on the internet, he teaches and encourages others to be entrepreneurs and now many other leaders at Mosaic are following in his footsteps with their own book deals.

Then there are the unresolved issues with his various "Awaken" ventures.

I have emails from several leaders at Mosaic LA, in which they try to explain the relationship between all these Awakens and Mosaic but the explanations just keep getting more complicated and intertwined.

The point is, these corporation DO exist, money from some source was used to create them in the first place, and yet now nobody seems to be willing to take responsibility for legally dissolving them.

Why?

What I would like to know is,was money from Mosaic used to create any of these Awakens?

I don't believe that Erwin "stole" money from anyone, but there is a whole lot of sloppy "administration" going on and it just doesn't look good.

Yvonne W.

Nathan said...

Yvonne,

You seem to have backed off some of your initial assertions. In essence, what you're left saying is:

Erwin does a lot of self-promotion at Mosaic and on the internet, he teaches and encourages others to be entrepreneurs and now many other leaders at Mosaic are following in his footsteps with their own book deals.

You've made this an opinion statement, and everyone's got the right to their own opinion. But are you saying you think it's a bad thing that Erwin is encouraging Christians to be entrepreneurial? You think it's a bad thing that other leaders have their own book deals? And as far as self-promotion, I don't have a problem with the pastor of a church, who wrote a book that has something beneficial to say, having a resource table where that book is available.

Your article was interesting. Particularly the phrase "...allows some pastors to live like kings." You may have missed the crucial word: "some." Rick Warren tithes 90% of his income; that hardly sounds like a king to me. I don't know Tim Keller personally, but from his sermons etc., I'm willing to bet he's not living high on the hog either. Knowing Erwin, I'm happy to lump him in with other pastor/authors who live generously for the Kingdom of God.

God bless.

Yvonne W. said...

Nathan,


If you would actually read my blog, you'd see that I have never accused Erwin of theft so I am not "backing off" on my assertions.

As to Erwin's self-promotion at Mosaic, it goes well beyond having a resource table.

Right now, Mosaic.org has a banner asking people to "vote for casket."

Mosaic has had entire sermon series focused on Erwin's books, his books have been used as subject material for the small group meetings, the theme of the entire Mosaic LA Film Fest 2008 was based around his book "Wide Awake" and entrants were told to create a short film inspired by one of the "themes" in that book.

In fact, one of the perks being offered to the winners of that festival was a chance to have their entry included in the next "Wide Awake" dvd series.

Which brings us back to Awaken via a press release issued by Mosaic on September 8, 2008:

The 2008 Mosaic LA Film Festival is sponsored by Mosaic.org and Awaken.org. collaborative community-serving organizations headquartered in Pasadena, CA.

I've noticed however that you don't seem interested in discussing Awaken so perhaps this is where we part ways.

God Bless.

Yvonne W.

Phil Johnson said...

Nathan:

There's nothing inherently wrong with inspiring entrepreneurs or making commercials for Doritos. My complaint (and I think Yvonne is echoing it) is that's not what ministers and church leaders are called to do.

Still, if McManus only wanted to engage in some entrepreneurial enterprise as a sideline occupation, I wouldn't bother to complain about that per se. My complaint is that he is doing these supposedly artistic and culturally contextualized things to the exclusion of preaching the gospel--and he seems to think these things are an adequate substitute for preaching the gospel if they draw crowds to his "church."

Frankly, if McManus wanted to be an astronaut or a haberdasher or a sign-painter full time, he'd have my blessing. But if he wants to lead a church, he needs to concentrate on feeding the flock of God, preaching the Word of God, and proclaiming the gospel to unbelievers--instead of characterizing himself as a "futurist," or a cultural engineer, or a filmmaker, or whatever else he is putting on his business card this week.

In short, if he's not going to preach the gospel and proclaim the Word of God to his people, he's not a fit pastor, no matter how creative or successful he is with his other pursuits.