09 January 2013

Those Who Received His Word

by Frank Turk

Welcome back, especially you, One Star Hater.

Yesterday, I told the story of one hypothetical kid who went to Passion 2013, got very fired up about something he could stake his life on, and who agreed with Jefferson Bethke about the event.  But then I went and spoiled the whole thing by asking a pretty simple (and it seems to me: obvious) question about the whole thing:


I don't think it's a very tricky question, either -- it's not a no-win question.  For example, one response could be:



Or maybe another one could be:


Or here's one:


Something like that would have answered my question and, if possible, actually shut the mouth of the complaint.  That is: it would speak to the centerpiece of the complaint, which is Jeff Bethke's definition of a serious problem, and my reference to it.  Seriously now: are old people the only ones with a religion problem?  If you think so, I think I probably shouldn't say another word until you reconsider your answer.

The problem of religion vs. faith is a serious problem.  It manifests itself in a LOT of ways.  For example, as a blogger, I am guilty of religion when I expect that God owes me an audience of readers when I have been such a faithful blogger for lo nigh unto a decade.  I am guilty of religion when I expect even that other bloggers ought to respect me.  I am guilty of religion when I hope that I am famous, or can become famous by being a certain kind of voice in the wildness.

Right?  You can recognize my faults.  You can see them because they are so obvious.  It's a good thing you're righteous and not the kind of sinner that blogger centuri0n is over there.

So look: I think we owe it to ourselves to ask this question when we do something that looks a LOT like what the world does when it is doing what it does in the place of worshiping the true God of heaven, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, the savior of the guilty and hopeless.  You know: we can really "get it" that the Cotton Bowl is a false religion for some people, or that status at work or in the community is a false religion for some people, or that emotional voyeurism in reality TV or in concerts or in roles one plays to get the attention of others is a false religion for some people.  But can we "get it" that if we are doing any or all of these things and just putting a Jesus t-shirt on it, or tweeting it with Jesus' name, or calling it "worship" instead of "entertainment" our alleged intentions do not sanctify what's actually happening?



Let me put this another way: I think that it's wise to let the Bible -- especially the New Testament, but not exclusively there -- pour over our moments of emotional exuberance and find out if we are actually loving God and serving him, or if we are actually doing what seems right in our own eyes and then calling that God's will for us and God's work among us.

The first stop on that journey is Acts 2.  I go there because it's a big-tent revival -- it's a place where God  wasn't afraid of a crowd, and wasn't afraid of using men to preach, and people were literally cut to the heart by what happened there.  It looks like what we are told just happened at the Georgia Dome.  I go there because it dismantles the idea that I think somehow the church can only exist in small pieces.

See on that very day, 3000 people were added to the church.  They didn't start a discipleship program or nod a head to some slactivism video about a problem bigger than donations can resolve.  Here's what it says happened after that show -- in which Peter was so compelling and loud that at first they thought he was drunk, and he literally spoke with words that every person could understand, in every language -- when the lights came up:
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
I know, I know: it's very quaint, and sort of mundane.  But it speaks to us about what happens when the word of God is actually preached in a place -- because this is the first time, after the resurrection of Christ, that the word of God is actually preached in a place.

See: the first thing that happens is that sinners repent of sin.  In Evangelical parlance, revival breaks out.  If what happened in the Georgia Dome was not merely an entertainment event but some kind of God's presence pouring out, revival would have been breaking out.

A lot of people hate it when I do this, but I'm doing it anyway: 60,000 people were there.  If we randomly distributed 60,000 loaded guns into the places all these people just came from -- just sent them back in the QTYs these people came from those places -- I'll bet you something would change in those communities.  If we sent out 60,000 lunchboxes full of $20's into those communities in the same way, I'll bet something would change -- maybe something small, but something.  If we sent 60,000 bullhorns out into those communities and just laid them down on the ground there, something would change.

But here we have people who feel like they just stood in the presence of God, and somehow: nothing will change.  Let's be as fair as possible to say that, frankly, I'm using past performance to predict future results -- but I doubt that adding a young fellow who inherited his father's prosperity-gospel church to the preaching roster will improve the net outflow of the Holy Spirit this year as opposed to last year.

Something changes when God is presented and is truly-present in a large crowd of people.  My first suggestion about Passion 2013 is that nothing, sadly, has changed.  And this is what worries me: somehow that result is being represented as being "blown away by God's presence. Shattered and rebuilt by His Word. Challenged to the core. Repaired. Wrapped in love. Awakened to raise our voices for those who have no voice."  It seems to me that the first hallmark of religion (as opposed to Jesus) -- if we take Jefferson Bethke at face value, and we magnify his complaint by looking at the real thing in Scripture -- is that the problem with religion is it never gets to the core; it's just behavior modification, like a long list of chores.  Including, if I can say this in a sobering way, the emotional chores of event-driven experiences.

More tomorrow.








98 comments:

Tom Chantry said...

I had to ponder this one.

What happens when "the word of God is actually preached in a place"? Answer: "Sinners repent of sin."

What is good about this answer (besides the biblical example, of course) is that it actually is not as over-restrictive as it might at first look. Frank didn't say, "Souls are saved." Sinners repenting happens at events where no one is converted. For instance, I attend a ministers conference each year so that I can be preached to. It has a profound effect on me; I am usually reminded of what is important in my ministry, and something changes. In other words, I - a sinner - repent of sin. So this is a good answer.

I will say, though, that there is a direction in which a critic could massage this answer into something it isn't meant to be. Let me put it this way: if at a church somewhere in America this upcoming week no sinner repents of any sin, can we say definitively that the preacher failed to preach the word? I would certainly assert that results are not the ultimate test of a preacher's fidelity, and I suspect that Frank would agree. People reject the properly preached word of God all the time.

But the question here is what we are to make of the billing - Passion is advertised as a "life-changing" event, and that can only be true in the spiritual sense if sinners repent of sin, because that's what biblical-preaching-induced change looks like. At the end of the day, then, all Frank has done is held up the claims of Passion to a biblical standard, and based upon its past record he has found it wanting.

DJP said...

Did Bethke ever respond to you? Or is that a "spoiler" question?

Rebekah said...

I really appreciate these posts. I had some young friends who attended Passion 2013, and were putting comments on Facebook throughout the week saying things like, "The Holy Spirit really filled the place last night. It was awesome." I wanted so badly to comment, "So, people were falling on their faces in conviction over sin?" I didn't leave that comment, but it got me thinking. I have gotten to the point where if something or someone is popular, or if lots of people are saying this conference/speaker/book/ will 'change your life,' I'm immediately wary. When something is billed as 'life-changing,' we too often go into it primed to be emotionally pumped up and conditioned to accept whatever is said. Thanks for what you're saying here, I believe it is helpful to prayerfully and biblically think through these things.

Paul Reed said...

"Something changes when God is presented and is truly-present in a large crowd of people. My first suggestion about Passion 2013 is that nothing, sadly, has changed."

Amen. I don't think we need to beat around the bush so much. Passion 2013 is an artificial experience. Participants perceive something external happening to them, while in fact the experience is dependent upon the person's imagination. It's a false experience with false messages and false teachers and probably mostly false converts. And it's kind of sad too. It's like someone who thinks they've really been horseback riding after paying a quarter to ride a cheap motor horse designed for 4 year olds outside a strip mall.

Frank Turk said...

Jeff never responded.

Magister Stevenson said...

Quick question: What is the attendance-to-repentance threshold this event needs to cross for it to be acceptable?

Nash Equilibrium said...

Wow I hadn't realized just how far off this "event" was until I read your descriptions today! Now I see what you mean. No wonder Jesus only attracted 5,000 to his "loaves and fishes" retreat - too much content and not enough marketing hype!

Really good essay here!

Nash Equilibrium said...

Tom - great point! Repenting costs a person something - getting "saved" (in the unBiblical sense) doesn't!

DJP said...

"Jeff never responded."

Hm, too bad. Perhaps he quickly learned the elitist's motto: "If I don't acknowledge something, it never happened."

Frank Turk said...

Stevenson: What if we see my point here as one indicator (of 3 or 4 - tomorrow is a full plate) rather than the single-stop litmus test?

That's what "More tomorrow" means.

However: I think you have missed my point almost entirely. If Passion is what it says it is, then it should have the fruit that such a thing ought to have. My point is that if the Holy Spirit was really filling the Georgia Dome, and God showed up, and whatever other Hipster Post-Charismatic language we want to use to describe this concert is in any way meaningful, either we should see the work of the Spirit, or the hardening of men's hearts.

I think we have instead seen not much of anything.

Johnny Dialectic said...

It's comforting to know that it's not Jefferson Bethke, nor Frank Turk, nor even this blog (!) that convicts of sin, but the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit blows where he pleases. Why, he can even be present in the Cotton Bowl. Thus: My first suggestion about Passion 2013 is that nothing, sadly, has changed is a tad premature, if not presumptuous.

However, Mr. Chantry purports to have some data:

all Frank has done is held up the claims of Passion to a biblical standard, and based upon its past record he has found it wanting.

I'd like to know where to find this record, and who keeps it. Does it mean no one has come to the Savior via any of these events? That no one has come to true repentance? That the Holy Spirit is 0 for 60,000?

I don't know all the facts here, which is why I'm asking. But, I daresay, no one here knows all the facts, either. Is it to be judgment before facts? Sounds a little like the Queen of Hearts, doesn't it?

Frank Turk said...

Also, on the record:

I did get responses from Passion attenders, and I'll bet you loyal readers can parrot those responses without me telling you what they were.

None of them answered the question, to say the least -- except the one fellow who said, "of course it's not religion."

"of course it's not."

Wow.

DJP said...

Well, there y'go.

Frank Turk said...

Johnny:

Here's what I said in the post, since some people may not have read it:

[QUOTE]
But here we have people who feel like they just stood in the presence of God, and somehow: nothing will change. Let's be as fair as possible to say that, frankly, I'm using past performance to predict future results -- but I doubt that adding a young fellow who inherited his father's prosperity-gospel church to the preaching roster will improve the net outflow of the Holy Spirit this year as opposed to last year.
[/quote]

Do you think previous Passion events had the effect of putting 20K or 30K or 40K (the largest previous to this year) revived Christians back into their local churches? Let me put it another way: what would give you that impression? I think there's no evidence of it at all.

Robert said...

Johnny,

God worked through Joseph's brothers casting him into a dug out pit and selling him into slavery. That doesn't mean that we should all go doing the same and it doesn't make what they did right. And it doesn't mean that when we do the Holy Spirit is working through it.

Just the same as saying that Piper was involved in this whole things makes it right. When you pair him up with most of the people performing there, it doesn't help unless he is going to call them out or stand in contrast to them like Elijah did with the false prophets. Just the same as when we read in Haggai about how you can't take holy meat and touch it to other things to make them holy.

Bill said...

It has been pointed out that Passion 2013 is advertised as a "life-changing" event, did anyone bother to check if the Holy Spirit was on the list of speakers? Maybe the organizers are one step ahead of you Frank? :)

Johnny Dialectic said...

Do you think previous Passion events had the effect of putting 20K or 30K or 40K (the largest previous to this year) revived Christians back into their local churches?

If those are the numbers sought, I would tend to doubt it.

But what if a) many who were lost have now been found? and b) they are in church, in the Word, being nurtured as disciples?

Would that count? I think you have indicated to Stevenson that this question will be addressed tomorrow, so I'll gladly hold the thought.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Johnny,

A big point Frank's making here, and in the last post, is what this thing was advertised as wasn't, and what folks were saying happened here didn't - and Acts 2 is the prooftext. Just like in the continuationist conversations, if Passion was all it says it was, there'd be no argument, you'd just have to point.

David Carlson said...

Does no one else see the humor in Dan's comment ...

"Jeff never responded."

Hm, too bad. Perhaps he quickly learned the elitist's motto: "If I don't acknowledge something, it never happened."

Barbara said...

Apparently, to one of the speakers there, being found means to cuddle up with Jesus and ask Him certain questions that He's waiting to be asked - like, "How much do you love me?" (at which point he turns into Stretch Armstrong) and, "What were you thinking when you made me?" And there is no peace until you ask those questions.

So, as much as I agree with Mr. Turk's consideration of the fruit, I'm looking forward to his discussion of the root here too.

Kerry James Allen said...

"Ah! dear friends, one half of the emotions excited in our places of worship are of no more value than those excited at the theatre."

"The value of feeling depends upon its cause."

CHS

Julian said...

I'm challenged by these posts. I went to Urbana, a missions conference with 16,000 attendees this time. I was a veteran and knew I have the tendency to hype things up and make the conference more than it actually is, so I did my best to view the conference in light of what I would be taking back home from it. The conference helped me to eagerly return to the immigrant house church ministry my local church was planting, rather than engaging in the resentful attitudes I felt toward the ministry prior to Urbana (taking more time out of my Sunday, actually having to do legwork reach the unreached, other petty stuff).

Joey Phillips said...

I am think maybe I should wait for the next post, because maybe you address what I am about to bring up...

To say that "nothing changed" seems a pretty narrow perspective. If you mean "nothing changed" in terms of..it didn't cause another Great Awakening, and it seems like it should, considering the way they market the event, then I see your point.

But raising close to 7 million dollars over the past two years for organizations fighting slavery probably is changing something. In fact, while I would imagine there is no way to know how many lives are affected by 7 million dollars being used that way, rather than being spent on 100,000 xboxes, I think its a safe bet that there a child somewhere that is pretty grateful for the Passion conferences enabling an organization to pay folks to dedicate their time to fighting slavery and trafficking.

As I am sure you have already considered this, I am eager for your response. I will wait for tomorrow if I must.

Nash Equilibrium said...

I think some of you just aren't getting that Frank knows he is making a bit of a generalization as to the results, but only "a bit" of a generalization, not an invalid one on the whole. I know that because he's gone to great lengths to state thus, if you read what he's written here. Does what he's writing here disallow the one-off possibility that someone got truly saved at Passion? I don't think he's disallowing that at all, but just saying that the event itself probably didn't have much to do with it, if someone did get truly Biblically saved.

Tom Chantry said...

I'm reminded of a discussion my wife recently had with her 1st and 2nd grade Sunday School class, just before Christmas. She said something like, "Everyone thinks it would be really cool to see an angel, but in the Bible, everyone who ever did was scared out of his wits. Not cool at all."

Similarly, we read constantly about the Holy Spirit filling a place, and people talk as though that would be really cool and leave them with a good feeling. But as Rebekah's 4:54 comment points out, if the Holy Spirit filled a place, people wouldn't come away saying, "Cool!" and feeling good about themselves.

And that's the real focus that I think Frank is driving at. What does Spirit-driven change look like? If Passion doesn't promote a correct understanding of that, then Frank's criticism is spot-on, regardless of whether individuals were properly impacted.

(I threw in that last "verb" for DJP. You're welcome.)

Magister Stevenson said...

Frank,
I am eagerly awaiting the further installments of this series, and I will trust you that my questions will be further answered as the unveiling proceeds.
I asked what I did more to move the conversation towards the issue of how we quantify the event. Do we look for numbers of professions ala crusades? Do we look for greater involvement in local churches? Do we use money donated? Is the timeline immediate or is there a delay between the soul-shattering and the evidence of faith in deeds?
And how ARE we going to gather the data for evaluation? How will we see the local church impact of this event? Urbana is not quite analogous to Passion, but in my local church we have already had one report on Urbana and some positive ministry movement towards evangelism locally and internationally. How will we know that is (or not) going on?
I do not ask the questions because I believe that Passion is right and the negative must be proved to shift my view, but rather to know the means by which we determine what is actually coming about from it.
Again, I look forward to these questions being answered in the future posts.

Frank Turk said...

Johnny:

Sure. Let's see it.

DJP said...

Chantry: Ew.

Kerry James Allen said...

Given the fact that the only crowds of 60,000 in the first century were pagans gathered to watch the martyrdom of believers, aren't we forgetting that the world was turned upside down by a group that Jesus referred to as a "little flock?"

And boy what a downer when you return to your church of 75 with Reverend Average, no light show, and nobody ever raises holy hands.

Frank Turk said...

Joey Phillips:

DO you know what "slacktism" is?

Merrilee Stevenson said...

This may seem minute to the conversation, but I'm thinking about sending our kids off to a winter camp weekend sponsored by our church denomination. And I have memories from my youth of spiritual highs from church-camp experiences. How are these different? Are we just training our kids to hunger for the high, and eventually they will be Passion-bound?

Tom Chantry said...

@ReverendAverage needs to be a Twitter handle.

Rebekah said...

One comment I heard from people who had been to Passion went along the lines of, “I’ve never seen 60,000 people worship with such abandon before!” And those same people often come home high from these types of events and bemoan, “Why don’t we see God move like that in our church? Why don’t people worship like that in our church?” I find myself wondering, how do you know that the person sitting quietly next to you on a given Sunday ISN’T worshiping God with abandon? Just because she isn’t emoting visibly all over the place doesn’t mean she isn’t worshiping. You don’t know what’s going on in her heart. I’m not saying that in all the emoting that no one was truly worshiping God - I sincerely hope some were. But the emotion and hype and conditioning isn’t the measure of true worship. Nothing necessarily wrong with emoting, but be sure you can discern it for what it is.

The thing is, those people sitting there with you in your local church week in and week out who you assume aren’t worshiping with abandon.... what if they are responding in repentance when they recognize sin in their lives as the Word is preached and as they study God’s Word, and what if they are seeking to live in obedience in their ordinary, daily lives in thousands of daily opportunities to deny self and glorify Jesus, with heartfelt gratitude for His salvation and forgiveness of their sin? Isn’t that worship? Just because people aren’t emoting all over the place outwardly during a music session, we shouldn’t assume they aren’t worshiping. And just because they are crying and raising hands and singing loud to music they love doesn't necessarily mean they are, either. I think sometimes we make an idol out of ‘experiences.’

Kerry James Allen said...

Not long ago Frank inadvertently coined a new word which we can employ here. He meant to write "watch" but it came out "wantch." I defined it as "a want that occurs after you watch something." As in, I have been to Passion and now that's what I "wantch" every week. Thank you, Frank.

General Soren said...

Stevenson:

One.

One single, solitary person coming to Christ makes it worth it. If out of the entire 60K, only one person repents of their sin, and the other 59,999 went home, basked in the buzz of a good concert, and nothing changed, it's still worth it because one lost person found Christ.

I don't know any folks on twitter, but I've been to my share of revivals. Sometimes, yeah, we get all swept up in emotion, and nothing big happens.

However, I'm a big fan of fixing little things. If a few kids came back from this and say "ypu know, I think I'll look up more Christian rappers because Lacrae was good", and put that into practice, putting aside the secular filth, is that not a valid change?

I largely quit listening to secular mmusic last spring, and now listen to mostly Christian metal. Was that a result of some great conviction? No. Did it cause me to start preaching the Gospel in the Pyro-Approved Calvinist fashion? No.

Has it had a small, yet beneficial impact on my life? Absolutely.

It's the little things, folks, not expecting Pentecost every time Christians gather.

Frank Turk said...

"...saying that the event itself probably didn't have much to do with it, if someone did get truly Biblically saved."

um, I'm actually not talking about that at all. This is something about the whole enterprise which, frankly, lights me up, so get your PPE in place as I oxidize something here.

What is at stake here is that Passion says it is something specific -- I quoted their site entirely and verbatim yesterday on what it is they say they are, and what they intended to do. And the question I asked was not, "can this possibly save anyone?" I think that's a point which the organizers have to deal with -- it's not in my scope of work. I did not ask the question, "was any of the preaching any good?" because I don't have the time Chris Rosebrough has to spell that out for you.

The question I asked, thanks to a reminder from Jeff Bethke, is whether or not this event was Jesus-centered or whether it was religion-centered.

You know: the answer that they collected $7 million over 2 years to help end slavery is a -religious- answer. Nice work! Good Job! I am justified unlike that slave-owner over there. When you spell it out that they collected $7 million for emotionally-tweeked people under the age of 30 who didn't go out to the mission field but paid money for someone else to, it looks even more like religion, doesn't it?

My question here is a transparently-simple one: how do we distinguish between what is made and done in faith and what is made and done for a religious sense of good feelings? If we can't answer that question -- or don't know how to -- Jeff Bethke needs to go back to being a nice looking kid in a church under discipleship someplace rather than a famous devotional speaker. The thing which made him famous -- I think maybe nobody was listening.

The problem is not whether I think anyone there was saved or not saved: the problem is whether or not anyone there was actually worshiping Jesus and actually demonstrating faith in God, or whether they have deceived themselves into thinking that their emotions are a barometer of God's presence.

Frank Turk said...

Stevenson:

We "quantify" the event by comparing it to Scripture. Thus: my posts.

Frank Turk said...

Kerry:

Yeah, wait until tomorrow.

Frank Turk said...

I think @ReverendAverage is @ChurchCurmugeon's pastor.

Kerry James Allen said...

Tom, @reverendaverage is available, but I think @reverendimpact (also available) fits you better.

Frank Turk said...

OK: now the question comes: "Can I attend, or cause my kids to attend, any event not specifically at church for the sake of church-work or church-life?"

Oh please. Of course you can! You can even go to Passion2014 -- if you are sensible about it. You can go to DisneywWorld, or a College Football game, or a movie, or you can read books. You can go out to eat, or stay in. You can have people over and play a board game or talk about politics.

What you ought not to do is to call all the good feelings any of these things produce "worship" or worse, "the Holy Spirit." And you ought not to call a conference or a retreat some kind of lightning rod for God's presence.

In the least, that's stupid and vain; at worst, it's actually idolatry and a kind of self-promotion which we usually only expect from Oprah or somebody on TBN.

You want to go to a 3-day Christian concert? Go! Please go! If I could get the time off, I'd like to go. But see it as a CONCERT and not something which is the highlight of your faith experience -- because when you compare it to the actual highlights of your religious experience (for example, the first time as a father you give up your own career and personal objectives to invest in your wife or your child, and then the second time, and then the third time, ...) it's not even a tin token of thrill.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Thanks Frank for the clarification on your thesis. I understand, and I guess I got caught up in responding to the question that some others had asked, which is, as you pointed out, not the same question you are exploring.

I guess I've heard people make the "if something claims to be Christian, then it is" mistake so many times that when I heard it being implied here by some (about Passion) then I couldn't help myself!

Robert said...

I remember R.C. Sproul talking about how he preached a sermon one time and felt like apologizing to everybody afterword because he didn't "feel" the Holy Spirit in it. However, when everybody came out and shook his hand most people thanked him and told him they felt the presence of the Spirit as they heard him preach. He said from that point on, he quit worrying about having a "feeling" about anything. I think this is the type of "religion" you are talking about.

That somebody said "of course it's not religion" is just sad.

rockstarkp said...

I am currently reading Michael Horton's "In the Face of God" book, and Frank's line in the comment about is spot on,
" the problem is [sic] whether they have deceived themselves into thinking that their emotions are a barometer of God's presence."

Far too often people get emotional because the lights get dimmed and the music is soothing, so people assume that God must be present in that atmosphere.

Stephen said...

Frank, it's not clear that your hypothetical tweets from a "guy" about "his" good, repentant response to the Passion services are in fact, hypothetical and fake. The name that is some kind of rhyme/anagram to Louie Giglio was a tip-off but I still had to click on the tweets to make sure that you hadn't actually found one "changed" man.

Sean Scott said...

Ahhh, great question, still waiting till tomorrow to hear more. Is it sad this is the first thing I did this morning?

Joey Phillips said...

Frank,

That is a great and hilarious word. I definitely had to look it up. I am a little horrified if you are implying raising 7 million to fight slavery and human trafficking is simply slacketivism though.

From your two posts and now your comments I think I am hearing you.

But have you heard the messages from Piper and the Giglio and the others? I haven't, this year...but I have gone in the past and been (yes I will use this word) impacted. Not because of the music, which was a little disconcerting because the lyrics were typically outstanding but the look-at-me bands were distracting...but because of the preached Word. Giglio's message from Romans 3 was, I wouldn't say "life-changing" but it definitely reminded me freshly about my sinfulness as compared to God's greatness. It caused me to repent of areas I had fallen short of God's glory, and made me grateful I don't have to answer to God by myself, since I would have no answer by myself.

I knew that already, and didn't need to go to a conference to learn it. I had been a Christin for a long time. But maybe getting away for a few days of without having to worry about my job and school, and just hanging with friends and listening to the Word was used by God to reach my heart in a way that He hadn't before. Life-changing? Over-stating it. An experience of being convicted by the Holy Spirit and then amazed at Jesus' substituting work all over again is nothing to sneeze at though, IMO. And being with friends who were affected similarly makes the experience all the better.

Joey Phillips said...

All that to say, I don't think the fact that there are great bands leading songs, and ridiculously professional lighting and video etc takes away from the fact that God's Word is opened and preached. More effectively by some than others :) And that can effect lives. And it can cause folks to open our wallets to engage in a God glorifying fight against human trafficking.

DJP said...

Chicago gets Cetera and Seraphine and Champlin back, and Turk headlines — I'm there.

And I'll just deal with the cognitive dissonance.

Jules said...

There must be a crack in the universe. Frank Turk linked to apprising ministries.

Frank Turk said...

Fair is fair, and Ken & Co. did good work on this one regarding the inclinations of some of those invited to Passion this year.

Johnny Dialectic said...

When you spell it out that they collected $7 million for [sic] emotionally-tweeked people under the age of 30 who didn't go out to the mission field but paid money for someone else to, it looks even more like religion, doesn't it?

Maybe the kind of religion James mentions in 1:27. Which God calls "faultless." Hmmmm.....

Frank Turk said...

DJP: I have no idea what you're talking about.

Paul Reed said...

Speaking of Louie Gigolo, I suppose everyone has heard that he is going to give the benediction at our baby-killing-Kenyan's president's second inauguration.

JG said...

Late to the party, as always.

My senior year of high school I went to a 2-week summer youth camp. It was full of passionate kids and leaders and lots of education and worthwhile exercises. The last night was the night of testimonies about how we were all changed by the experience, lots of crying, hugging, and promises to go out and change the world.

Except it wasn't a church camp. It was a Model UN. (With a very hostile worldview towards Christianity/Christian principles) And I suddenly realized there was very little difference in the general experience between that event and every other church youth program I had been to up to that point, which was quite a few. It was very eye opening.

On the same note, I'm inclined to agree that on a macro scale probably this single event won't have a major impact on our culture, based on history. On the other hand, I'm still observing my friends who went and hoping that the things they spoke about becoming "passionate" about that weekend take root and bear fruit.

Frank Turk said...

Joey:

So you're saying that what Passion actually is is a lot more meager than what it reports itself to be?

I agree. It is more like religion than faith. Next question.

Frank Turk said...

JG: Keep us posted.

Everybody knows for a fact that I am the first one to retract things I post when they are proven factually incorrect. I'll be pleased to post one a retraction about this stuff -- when it is demonstrated otherwise.

Robert said...

Johnny,

James 1:27 speaks of visiting orphans and widows in their time of need. Giving money isn't really visiting, but actually supports Frank's designation of Slacktivism.

Dan said...

One, Great post Frank. I had a life changing week at Buckeye Boy State through the American Legion but it only triggered in me more pride that eventually caused me to see my sin and repent for the first time before a Holy God. Life change/passion is not a good metric.

Two, when the law is confused with the Gospel, confession will happen and behavior will change but will true repentance happen? Will forgiveness be understood or the burden of Guilt continue to oppress people? Will the "good" be lead to understand that they are not or given the their true "reward", a changed world but not union with the Holy God in Jesus Christ? That is the problem Frank is trying to get at with the Beltke contrast.

Lastly, could you point me too why there is "bad blood" between you and Ken Silva? Did I miss something?

Kerry James Allen said...

And Giglio will join other past stalwarts of the faith in their support of the president such as Rick Warren and Gene Robinson from the last inauguration. I guess Paul Reed's spelling wasn't a (sic).

Frank Turk said...

Dan:

Because I an a vocal critic of the Watchblogger culture and industry, Ken and I have not always been as chummy as everyone would like. It is entirely to Ken's credit that, in spite of any unfortunate misunderstandings between us that may have caused over time, he has been able to see both my real good intent and good sense in critique, and has both given me some grace and his own work some second looks to elevate the game.

All I did was sit here and complain. And pray. Without being corny, Sola Deo Gloria.

Frank Turk said...

For the invasively-curious, the hypothetical twitterer was almost name "Gooey Liglio."

DJP said...

I'm confused. I think this latest "Dan" should change his name to "Dan (not Dan)."

You know, like... http://bit.ly/VgHJ0e

(That's the bikini-free version. YW)

Kerry James Allen said...

"Bikini-free?" "Passion?" "Gigolo?" My sanctification is taking a hit. I think I need a big name speaker, loud music, and tens of thousands of dance partners, pronto.

Magister Stevenson said...

Frank,
I get the feeling your answer to these questions is going to step on a lot of local-church-toes when they use it to evaluate their own services. Hopefully Dan can keep this ball rolling (or Chantry with a guest post) by setting out the difference in the local church--how does the bible "quantification" work out there.
Of course, I'm sure I can take and evaluate my own church (and understanding of it) as well.

Tom Chantry said...

Kerry,

I'm going to round up some average-Joes from Dan's church and get them to open Twitter accounts: @ImpactedListenter, @ImpactedPewSitter, and @DJPImpactsMyHeart.

I'm going to stop now, because I can't tell whether I'm being irredeemably silly or irredeemably mean.

LanternBright said...

Tom and Kerry: Don't forget Dan's arch-nemesis, @RPBlogger...

Aaron Snell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJP said...

Chantry + LanternBright: Tsk.

Kerry James Allen said...

Irredeemably impacted.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

"What you ought not to do is to call all the good feelings any of these things produce "worship" or worse, "the Holy Spirit." And you ought not to call a conference or a retreat some kind of lightning rod for God's presence.

In the least, that's stupid and vain; at worst, it's actually idolatry and a kind of self-promotion which we usually only expect from Oprah or somebody on TBN."


This is getting to the heart of it. Thank you for your response.

Aaron Snell said...

Frank,

No, Gooey Liglio is the guy who put on Sinsoap 2013, featuring big-name speaker Maky Gascloud.

jmb said...

"Everybody knows for a fact that I am the first one to retract things I post when they are proven factually incorrect."

Now that's funny! (Good post, though.)

Nash Equilibrium said...

Tom:

It's too long for a twitter post, but they could send Bibley things like this:

Genesis 49:17
Dan will be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward.

:)

Mark | hereiblog said...

I got a burning in my bosom reading this post.

DJP said...

Here ya go, Mark.

Frank Turk said...

Mormon.

Johnny Dialectic said...

I'd still like to know what Mr. Chantry meant by "past record."

ad nauseum said...

My question is this..

Is the Holy Spirit some kind of invisible goop that fills a room and tickles our hearts when enough people are singing hard enough for long enough?
Or is he the third person of the ontological Trinity?

Theres a difference right???(sarcasm)

Solameanie said...

I am ashamed to admit that I still don't know who "One Star Hater" is. I am so out of the loop these days.

Aside from that aside, great post, Frank. More fodder as I continue to think through the issues of preaching, teaching, discipleship, repentance, what exactly IS a proper proclamation of the Gospel, decisionism etc. As long as I have been a believer and think I have even the basics figured out, some issue will arise and I have to think about it all over again. And that's really not a bad thing.

Magister Stevenson said...

solameanie,
I rather suspect the One Star Hater is much like Spartacus.
Now, who is Crassus?

Tom Chantry said...

Johnny,

Frank understood me, but evidently you don't think he did.

The Passion promotional literature says this about itself:

At the heart of it all, Passion exists to see a generation stake their lives on what matters most. For us, that's the fame of the One who rescues and restores, and the privilege we have to fully leverage our lives by amplifying His name in everything we do.

Last year, our US gathering drew more than 40,000 students and leaders from around the world to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. We were blown away by God's presence. Shattered and rebuilt by His Word. Challenged to the core. Repaired. Wrapped in love. Awakened to raise our voices for those who have no voice.


And Frank's point seems to me to be, if 40,000 students and leaders were "blown away by God's presence, shattered and rebuilt by His word, challenged to the core, etc. etc." if all that had happened, someone, somewhere outside the stadium might have noticed, no?

So by "past history," it is arguable that Passion doesn't deliver what it claims to have delivered. What it says happened last year is at best doubtful, since the results have not been what one would expect if such a great movement of God has occurred.

Unless, of course, by "...blown away by God's presence. Shattered and rebuilt by His Word. Challenged to the core. Repaired. Wrapped in love. Awakened ..." all they mean is "we had a really great week with a lot of emotional highs."

Jeremiah said...

Don't you think Jeff could have tweeted,

"Why be a jerk, Frank?"

or

"Why pick a fight, Frank?"

I'll be honest. I think you're probably right about most of what you wrote. But sometimes, just praying zealously for those 1,000s of students, quietly petitioning the Father, in a quiet place, on their behalf and on behalf of those who would preach to them is a better idea than being critical on Twitter or making a series of admitted assumptions in a blog post.

Jeremiah Greenwell said...

Hey other me; you are the definition of self-refuting.

Joe Meyer said...

Been to Promise Keepers and had many emotional highs..... was saved years after the PK conferences.... We do need to be careful with the God showing up talk.

Magister Stevenson said...

Wow! Comments about the One Star Hater AND the tone police! This is going to be a great series! Just waiting for Touchstone...

Jeremiah said...

@JeremiahGreenwell

The point of my suggested reply tweets is precisely that they would seem appropriate, or of like kind, to Frank's (i.e. unnecessarily combative or even rude).

The fact that you would call my comment self-refuting proves my point. Both Frank's tweet and my hypothetical tweets are rude.

Sometimes Frank and others serve the church well by calling a spade a spade. But other times, such as this one, would it not be better to pray that if/when the Gospel is presented well at Passion 2013 the students would repent and believe.

J. E. Smith said...

@KJA's last paragraph here:

What would Uncle Wormwood say about that?

Kerry James Allen said...

I thought Wormwood was the nephew and Screwtape was the uncle, so he would probably say, "If life gives you melons you may be dyslexic."

DJP said...

Jeremiah, no doubt Bethke could have tweeted those or any of a thousand other jerky, infantile non-responses. But why suggest that he would?

Jeremiah Halstead said...

I would like it to be known that I am not the other two of me. Having accomplished nothing, I go back to my work.

Jeremiah said...

@DJP

Again, you are correct. The hypothetical tweets that I propose would have been "jerky, infantile non-response."

But, now I have received two comments here at Pyro to my own comments. And, while neither have been particularly jerky or infantile, they have been non-responses.

This is my last attempt to see if anyone here will interact with my thoughts with something other than a dismissive quip.

Tom said...

@Jeremiah: The problem with your suggestion is that the conference is over. Now really is a good time for analyzing the probable effects of this conference, and whether it lives up to the hype.
The position being presented here is "no."

J. E. Smith said...

I know I know...immediately after I hit the "publish' button I was frantically looking for the "Doh!" Button.

Frank Turk said...

Jeremiah --

Sorry to have a life away from the blog. I'm back.

Here's what I would say to your first comment: the reason why that response to my tweet is infantile is that it assumes it's none of my business (and by "my business," I mean, "the business of any observer of the event who is also Christian") whether or not the activities at Passion2013 are (1) actually Christian, since that's what it claims to be, and (2) actually interesting in any way. You know: I didn't start tweeting about Passion: I responded to other tweets about the event.

That should also answer your other question: the reason my tweet is not merely rude or hateful is that it's an honest question based on the reputation and affirmations of the guy making the initial tweet. The reply, "Let me explain: shut up," is just venom, and a tacit expression of an ugly kind of collectivism which is substituted for actual justification or discussion.

There are really constructive replies to my tweet, and really vile ones. There are no replies possible to the tweet, "shut up, hater," and all its cognates.

Does that help? If not, feel free to e-mail me at

frank @ iturk . com

Jeremiah Greenwell said...

Sorry if this is late since I've been busy, but I did not want to appear dismissive; that wasn't the point.

You were calling into question the motives of the writer of this blog on a comment after the blog had already been published about supposed assumptions; my comment was exactly what yours was turned on its head. It was a call to question your own motives, since your advice might have applied just as well to yourself, and for me to question mine as well. Apparently we're both just bad at saying what we actually mean to say.

Nonna said...

Sadly, entertainment has become a key element in these types of gatherings. Blaring guitars, light shows, screaming fans, etc. There's a lot of hype, not unlike a secular rock concert, but was Christ worshipped and glorified among them? There may be some who attended this performance (that's how I look at it) with good intentions, but what was the end result? What is the end result of these kinds of hip evangelical concerts? I'd say many get charged up and excited, but this is no indication that it was anything more than a concert with the name and idea of Jesus attached to it. In the end, are those who come away motivated to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Christ? Are they affected to the depth of their souls to love God and turn away from evil? I'm skeptical, but that's just me.

Jeremiah said...

@FrankTurk (cc: @JeremiahGreenwell)

Thank you for replying to the content of my comment.

(@JeremiahGreenwell: Though I can see how my own original comment didn't so much interact with the content of the post. Rather it questioned the necessity of the post altogether.)

I think you are right, Frank, that since this event was so very public, and because the event had passed when the post was written, your post on the event was legit.

My main concern (maybe because I pay too much attention to internet) is that I see far more criticism of professed believers (even those who specifically profess Christ crucified, not merely "Lord Lord, check out what I did") than I do local prayerfulness and edifying/sharpening conversation around the truth of the Gospel.

I think I've read Pyro enough, Frank, to know that you do actually pray and share with those around you; that you don't just throw up a critical tweet or blog and think you've done your part.

In the end, though, I'm not sure that critical posts actually accomplish much but to harden those who criticized or give ammo to those who are overly critical. Just look at all the comments to your post here. You were even handed, asking good questions, but many commenters have taken the next step into outright judgementalism.

(i.e. @PaulReed: It's a false experience with false messages and false teachers and probably mostly false converts. OR @Bill: It has been pointed out that Passion 2013 is advertised as a "life-changing" event, did anyone bother to check if the Holy Spirit was on the list of speakers?)

Consider, is it possible that more youths heard the truth of the Gospel and responded with repentance in the few moments that it was soundly preached amidst all the glitz, than those whose minds were swayed by the caution of a critical blog post?

I tend to believe that it would be better to point to, highlight, lift up those few moments of Gospel light than criticize the light-show.

Either/or? No. Both/and? Yep, exactly. But so far, I've only heard one side saying, "Passion Rocked!" and the other side saying, "Passion is an artificial experience."

Again, thanks Frank for your response, and your email. I wanted to post here since I addressed others as well.

The Lord Bless You & Keep You.