07 November 2014

Some here, some there — November 7, 2014

by Dan Phillips

Here we go:
  • The next day David Murray posted a very fine expansion of Biblical thinking about such things, which I would apply to a whole slew of daredevil things men (husbands! fathers!) sometimes do, and sometimes die doing. Yet note the appalling comments. Perhaps they came from Challies, who commendably (reportedly) saw and linked to a good article. Whatever the reason, they clearly weren't prepared for a clear-minded, unsentimental Biblical analysis of the sort of thing Americans admire — men with wives and children acting like boys to prove something and accomplish nothing, at best, or a pointless death leaving a widow and fatherless children, at worst.
  • A couple of SHSTs ago we noted the leading-evangelical-ethicist-who-no-one-has-ever-heard-of, David Gushee, who decided to go with the world's thinking on a cluster of perversions while continuing to profess some sort of Christian faith. Worse, he professes to be an evangelical — and yet sets out a way of thinking and (ironically) of ethical processing that could hardly be more opposite.
  • Aside: I will understand if it irritates anyone for me to note this, but when I read this, I think that this is exactly why I wrote TWTG. What passes for Christian conversion these days is a shallow, pale, inconsequential minor course-adjustment. It isn't the radical earthquake of total paradigm-shift that the Bible envisions, and which I try to depict at accessible length.
  • It sounds as if TWTG anticipated the line adopted in a pro-homosexual video that Rick Phillips thoroughly takes down.
  • Denny Burke responds to Gushee appositely, as usual.
  • As you know, this is one of those topics on which Michael Brown is biblically sound, which is what makes his advocacy of Charismatic error so disappointing. As if in anticipation of Gushee's dismissive piece, Brown lamented that homosexualist advocates are averse to debate. And since Gushee slams Gagnon as well, it seems fitting to link a second time to Gagnon's excellent piece responding to Gushee's defection.
  • For the moment, thanks to a ruling from the Sixth Circuit, sanity reigns on the same-sex mirage issue for Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Even a glance at the majority opinion is like a breath of fresh air — if only a breath. (h-t Robert Sakovich)
  • I doubt I'm the only one who wishes we could hold non-threatening visitor-exit interviews. How did you decide you did not want to come back? Was it something non-negotiable, like our core convictions; was it a misunderstanding, that could have been clarified if we'd had a chance; or was it something easily-correctible that we should work on changing
  • Thom Rainer offers a list from a twitter poll listing top ten ways churches drive away first-time guests. The first two seem in conflict to me. What do you think?
  • Maybe the resolution in part is in the observation that people aren't so much looking for friendly churches as they are looking for friends?
  • That said, I still come back to my own bottom-line: if you're hungry for God, the preached word, and genuine Christian fellowship (in that order), you can work through a lot.
  • Here's a tract y'all might enjoy (h-t Sir Aaron).
  • You'll want to get this commentary on Philippians. Eventually, I'll likely review it. But I had the privilege of reading and offering comments on the manuscript, and it really is stellar.
  • Well well. The Vatican is hosting reps from many religions to talk about marriage. One of those religions is Christianity, represented by Rick Warren and Russell Moore. Would you go? (I would.)  What do you think you'd say? What do you think Rick and Russ will say?
  • Thinking of preaching or teaching through Philippians? Great idea... but I'd wait until late January...
  • You won't believe who this rapper cites as his main inspiration; at the end of the article.
Check back later for some more; but today's a Date Day. So probably not!

Dan Phillips's signature


JackW said...

I’m guessing that the Tom Rainer post was the one redeeming link that Challies accidently found? I didn’t really want to read it because after laboring through Simple Church, I resolved to treat any future writings by him like the third verse in a hymn. Thank you Church Curmudgeon. But since you asked, no I don’t see a conflict between 1 and 2 as I agree with both. The sheep may look the same, but they are not.

Frank Turk said...

I think Russell Moore will say something intent on creating a Gospel-centered dialog, and Rick Warren will say, "I agree."

Then the Pope will says something strange and inclusive and ahistorical, and Rick Warren will say, "I agree."

And then Rick Warren will talk about himself.


Ben said...

I think David Murray's thinking is muddled. He's confusing severe consequences if something goes wrong with being unreasonably dangerous. Just because things can go very wrong with a small mistake doesn't mean something is particularly dangerous.

If a pilot makes one small mistake while landing they can kill themselves and all their passengers. But they're well trained and the chances of that happening are miniscule. The same thing is true for a roofer, a truck driver, or a logger.

With the proper training and skill it's no more dangerous for someone to tightrope walk that to drive to the store for some milk.

If amateur tight rope walking, race car driving, or flying become popular then his argument makes sense. You'd have untrained people doing things that really are likely to get them hurt.

Robert said...


I'm not so sure if Warren will agree with Moore if the audience isn't receptive. Warren tends to try to settle in with whatever crowd he is around...and I am thinking Moore isn't going to receive a warm reception if he sticks to his guns.

I hope Moore brings up the fact that both the RCC and Biblical Christians consider each other to be anathema. We need to be clear on thesis and antithesis...no synthesis allowed in areas where Scripture is clear.

LanternBright said...

Careful, Dan...don't let J.D. Hall hear you say that you'd go to the Vatican conference if invited. He's been raving about Russell Moore (whom he seems to positively HATE for some reason) ever since the news broke.

I can see it now: "Is Dan Phillips part of the #DOWNGRADE???"

DJP said...

I doubt he'd say it if he heard the message I'd likely preach.

Luke Wolford said...

Per you last sentence: Good on you for dating your wife!

Robert said...

Charles Spurgeon inspiring a rapper...awesome! So much for contextualization.

Fred's work on Exodus 21:7 is something we should all file away for reference. Studying the history and context of the Bible is important...why wouldn't we want to know about God's Word more in-depth? It can serve to enrich our love for Him if we approach it correctly.

Unknown said...

Hey Dan, loving SHST each week. If you have a chance, could you clarify, maybe with links, your "smug" TGC comment? Living in a world where TGC can seem to do no wrong, and it bugs me sometimes! Thanks!

Marla said...

Regarding the Tom Rainer post, I guess it depends on the quality of preaching in your area. I find there isn't much, so when we found a church that was great in that area, I was willing to wait longer to develop #2.

It was really hard to get to know people -- not very many would make an effort to converse with someone they didn't know already. Since the time we first arrived, there has been a lot of improvement thankfully.

Still, I've never been a fan of the stand-and-greet time (unless t
he church is packed to capacity) because it is awkward, and worse if you don't know anyone.

Great links today, but no crazy cat memes or other humor?

Frank Turk said...

Robert - good call on Warren.

JG said...

I've actually heard Spurgeon quoted in Lecrae and Tedashii songs, too :)

Regarding the exit interviews, why people don't choose churches, etc (since that's the place we're in right now) -

We haven't been bothered by the meet-and-greet tradition since churches stopped asking guests to remain seated (some places asked them to stand first, uh, no) - I mean, other than the whole "flu season" thing. But I don't think I'll ever get over that. (Why don't churches keep hand sanitizer around more? I mean, the ONE place you HAVE to shake hands with EVERYBODY...I'm mostly being facetious.)

But yes, I would love some of these places to have a way to provide "feedback" of a sorts. After over a month of visiting, we have some...feedback. Maybe a place on the (assumably fully-functioning and easy to navigate) website? And, I agree, a God-honoring Bible-centered church is worth putting up with some idiosyncrasies. But some things are more of a challenge to put with than others.

Jim Pemberton said...

Frank, "I agree." That's exactly what Warren will do.

Dan, in lieu of actually getting to preach the Vatican, it would make a good blog article. Mostly I just want the opportunity to pretend like I'm Rick Warren at the Vatican and say "I agree" to whatever you write.

trogdor said...

One of Pruitt's points is that pastors should be pastors and not CEOs. Poor Todd. Doesn't he realize Andy Stanley already declared the pastor/shepherd metaphor dead, replaced by the CEO. Who's right? Who can say? Maybe we need a 5-year moratorium on thinking about such things.

That Gushee article is appalling. If I follow his analogy, those who don't openly speak out pro-sodomy are like Germans callously ignoring the holocaust, and those who love people enough to call them to repentance and faith are like the Nazis or the Klan. For a "leading ethicist", he sure seems evil.

I'm torn on the Moore to the Vatican thing. I guess it depends on the format/goal. Will he have a chance to clearly declare the Christian gospel and position on marriage marriage (in that order), in such a way that offends everyone else there? Or will it be an Elephant Room type colloquium where everyone just has to agree that everyone else's way is fine?

I would hope he'll have the chance to proclaim the gospel and take advantage of it. But I can't shake the thought that the non-Popes are there to be used; the Pope will just tell them his position, everyone's to agree how to work together on it, and that's that. And that would be awful.

Sir Aaron said...

I'm not a fan of David Murray's article. I think it is stretching to say that the sixth commandment "also includes lesser evils such as rejecting or neglecting lawful means to preserve our lives and the lives of others." Something about the word "also" and Scripture makes me very leery. That standard also could raise some questions about what level of means we are to take to preserve our own lives. I think it would be better to say that intentionally putting one's life at obvious risk is negligent homicide, which is a violation of the commandment (and many other Biblical principles).

@Ben: The reason why these type of stunts are called "death defying" is that the odds of dying if something goes wrong are very high. In this case a virtual certainty. And while I agree that this guy is obviously a skilled professional at this, I think there is still substantial risk to dying. Too great. For what noble purpose? None.

I really love some Christian rap.

I don't find anything in the survey to be surprising. People have to make a decision, in no small part, about what they see. What does a dirty restroom, poorly maintained building, and ugly website say about the spiritual condition of the members? If I'm a first timer, I'd have to believe it says something and it's not good.

Fred Butler said...

@ Robert Thanks brother! Glad you liked it.

@laternbright, I agree with JD regarding Moore. I find his traveling to the Vatican problematic, especially having watched his squishy ecumenism emerge over the last year or so regarding environmentalism and gay marriage and other sundry left wingy ideas. If the guy goes there and preaches the Gospel and tells them the gospel of Rome has never saved, it'll be worth it, but I doubt that is likely.

Tom Chantry said...

Regarding friendly people and the "Stand up and greet each other" thing, here's my rather ungracious take:

Visitors are looking for friendly adults not a ritual worthy of kindergarten in which we announce, "And now, thirty seconds of friendliness. Come on, everybody, you can do it! Put a smile on your face!" Which is pretty much how I've always read it when churches do the whole "stand up and greet someone" thing. If a church is friendly, this is entirely unnecessary. I'm always left thinking, "What's wrong with these people; don't they know to say "Hi" to visitors in the hall?

Gov98 said...

Here's what I don't get about the tightrope walking... Let's assume (and I'm not saying I know, I don't, his spiritual condition is between him and the Lord) that the tight rope walker is in fact a Christian. Isn't the controlling attitude one of Christian Liberty, that each man must be fully convinced in his own mind of the rightfulness of his actions under Romans 14:5. If he's fully convinced that it's a reasonable balance of living the life that God has given him and also protecting it, who am I to judge.

Now, I can tell you, it might be an issue if I felt that seeing him tightrope walk might cause other Christians to stumble (literally or figuratively :-) ), but I just don't really see a huge risk of that. Perhaps you are saying that you see this as "Hey This is meat offered to idols." I Corinthians 10:28 situation, in your expression, of course you must be fully convinced of this.

Following up, should a Christian not ride a motorcycle or fly a plane for pleasure, because your subjective assessment of risk outweighs your subjective assessment of reward? Once we get into that muck and mire I tend to think there's little room for escape.

I'm not saying it's inherently good or bad. I am saying he's accountable to the Lord and his conscience for whether he's made the Biblical Assessments...and not me or you or some other writer of Bible sounding things that we can use to condemn him. After all isn't that the whole point of I Corinthians 10:29-30?

Lowell Van Ness said...

@Fred Butler: I'm not sure about his stance on environmentalism and other such things, but what I've read of his stuff on gay marriage, he's basically been saying "Yes, gay marriage is wrong. Here's why it's happening, and here's how we can use our lives to bolster our position, and here's how we've been doing the opposite."

LanternBright said...

@Fred Butler,

I was delightfully AFK this weekend (for the first time in what seems ages), so I just saw this.

1. I'm not aware of ANY occasion upon which Moore has been 'squishy' concerning homosexuality. His record on this as far as I'm aware is pretty pristine. HSAT, if you've got documentation to the contrary, I'd of course be willing to consider it.

2. What on EARTH (no pun intended) does Moore's position on environmentalism (real or imagined, because JD Hall is not at all trustworthy on such things--see, e.g., his ridiculously uncritical acceptance of the nutcases at AHA) have to do with his grasp of the Gospel? Seriously: are you really saying to us that if Russell Moore believes in global warming that he's necessarily someone who'll compromise with a Romish 'gospel'?
3. Here's what Dr. Moore HIMSELF had to say about his upcoming trip to the Vatican:

"We have real and ongoing differences on soteriology and ecclesiology, starting with the papacy itself, and that will be the case at the end of this meeting as well as at its start."

Does that really sound 'squishy' to ANYONE outside of rural Montana? Asking for a friend.

donsands said...

Here's waht Rick won't say: "Homosexuality is sin."

That would speaking with a heart of love the truth of God, so sinners can come to repent and see the Gsopel for what it is: Good News!

Maybe he will surprise me.

I was listening to a really good classic R&R band Dan, and thought I'd drop a verse on you from one of their songs:

"Oooh, thank you Lord, for the country
Well my thoughts
Are like ripples in a stream
I see myself so free"

Have a Christ filled week. He loves each of His own personally, and he hears our hearts and is always kind, even when He has to correct us.
What a Savior!

donsands said...

BTW, Centurion, thou cracketh me up as usual with the way you lay things on the table. And yet it is sad, isn't it, that there is so much ear ticklin' going on, and tellin' people what they want to hear.

DJP said...

I do know that song! Written by Terry Kath who, according to Bobby Lamm, had not yet actually been "In The Country."