30 July 2007

Less Edifying, More Funny

by Frank Turk
Updated 9:50 PDT by Phil Johnson (see update box below)

Yeah, so I took a sort of hiatus last week (I only posted comments), but then our beloved Phil posted links to some podcasts which you have to listen to, really, to believe.

On the "good" side, Todd Friel did 5 minutes with Kirk Cameron about Blue Like Jazz and Donald Miller. I'm not sure that the segment was perfectly unbiased in dealing with Mr. Miller and his work, but I think the segment was right-brained rather than left-brain, so Kirk and Todd can have a pass.

On the other hand, the Relevant podcast. Wow. Where do you start? Maybe we could start with the urine jokes -- those were funny. Or maybe with the Seafood-flavored snack foods -- quite a chuckle that. Then there's the reference to a "fundamentalist blog" -- you know, the one which last week was posting "successories"-style Emergent-See posters.

The part I really liked -- I mean, I listened to it twice to make sure I heard it right -- was the part where the hosts of the podcast said that bloggers ought to have better things to do with their time, like ministry. Dude, when I heard that, all the "earn the right to speak into their life" stuff afterwards simply had me doubled over in stitches.

See: urine jokes are pointing people to Jesus. Mocking seafood-flavored chips: that's edgy podcast humor. But holding up a sign which says, for example, this:

That's tearing down the body; that's dishonoring to Jesus, or failing to mention Jesus. Calling some blog "fundamentalist" -- that's not critical or reductive or, frankly, mistaken and wrong. That's not dividing the body up. That's good and measured criticism, and clearly they have taken the time to earn the right to speak into our, um, I mean the lives of those who run that un-named blog.

Happy Monday. Maybe we can get Friel to podcast the Relevant podcast -- that'd be good.

OK, I was going to leave all this in the sidebar, but since Frank went and made a post of it, let me add my three cents:

For those not wanting to slog through the whole thing, the relevant part of the Relevant podcast starts at the 32-minute mark. They begin that segment by responding to the Emerging Glossary on Anton Hein's "Apologetics Index" (which I linked to last week). When they make the segue into talking about the motivational posters, they seem not to understand that the Pyromaniacs blog is a whole different site.

One gets the distinct impression that they have never bothered to read any of our substantive critiques of the Emerging Church. In their view we are just "hard-line fundamentalists" whose main problem with the Emerging mess is "generational." To put it bluntly, if we weren't such old geezers, we'd see that they are right.

And when (remember, now: a full half hour of tastelessness and triviality has already passed through our iPods) some guy in the group responds to the mention of the posters with, "What's going to bring people to Jesus? . . . Let's point to Jesus", I was actually hoping one of them might be on the verge of an epiphany. Hey! Perhaps a lucid thought was about to emerge.


"Maybe when all those people die off. . ." followed by peals of laughter all around, and then the obligatory, "It's a joke, people." And suddenly—now that the jokes are coming from them—they "get" the idea of hard-edged humor, and they stop decrying all satire as mean or unchristlike. (Even when it involves wishing for the deaths of one's critics.)

Now, we do have to give the Relevant podcasters credit for the one brief shining moment when one of them recognized the irony of pleading "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater"—even though that is precisely the dominant Emerging methodology for dealing with the deficiencies of 20th-century evangelicalism.

But despite that one flash of insight, the level of hubris reflected in this podcast is breathtaking—especially their stunned blindness to the glaring reality that practically everything they said in the podcast bolstered the dead-on accuracy of the Emergent-See posters.

Phil's signature


Tyler said...

HOT. That's all I have to say.

Al said...

Are you guys sure they were talking about you? Are you fundamentalists? I live in Pensacola and we grow our fundamentalists of stronger stuff than posters and comicbook charachters down here.

I'm just saying.

al sends

Al said...

Now for the real link...

down here

DJP said...

Yes, well, you know what they say:

It's all fun and games until someone gets poked in the "I."

FX Turk said...

Exactly. I was going to make an "I'm running with scissors" analogy, but that's the stuff.

Trinian said...

Gotta love that canned response.

Kim said...

You know, I hate it when people accuse bloggers of not doing ministry. Do people honestly think that those of us with a blog spend all day in front of our computers?

I'd hate to think that my whole life was my blog.

FX Turk said...


That's beautiful, dude.

joe said...

"bloggers ought to have better things to do with their time, like ministry."

sounds to me like a caricature of bloggers. pretty funny if you ask me.

FX Turk said...


Exactly. You should listen to them get all solemn and professorial, and then discourse on the history of traditions. I swear -- if I could have scripted it, it could not have been funnier.

wonky73 said...

Wow.. that was a hard listen. So much wrong with that podcast. I don't mind them wasting 15 minutes babbling about snacks. But when it really tanks is when they start throwing around "fundamentalist". Either they aren't aware of the definition of fundamentalist in Christian circles, or they are simply being insulting. Either way it's not good for them.

On a related note a couple of years ago I was in a house of a friend of mine. A bunch of college age guys live there. I saw a copy of relevant on the table and starting reading it. I thought it was just some ultra left propaganda mag.. I had no idea it claimed some connection to Christianity. That's a sad indictment

donsands said...

We need to edified most importantly. Laughing is good, and needful as well. That's why I like to watch the Three Stooges.

Speaking the truth in love will edify those who love the truth, and who rejoice in the truth.

It will seperate the sheep and the goats.
Not just the truth, and not just love, but the truth spoke with a humble tongue, a mouth that knows, it's only by His grace that it is able to speak at all, the incredible truths of God, which are found in the Holy Bible.

Out of a heart of love for Christ, and because of Christ alone.

Unknown said...

It's just rebellion, plain and simple...

"Come to Christ...but stay cool."

How is that possible? Be 'relevant' and it's easy.

What is really amazing (and Phil pointed this out) is that the internal contradictions are GLARING. But they're ok with them. No one has a sentient thought like, "Hmmm...maybe I sound insane to thinking people...".

Nope - no need to think while they're doing 'ministry' and 'pointing people to Jesus' sans the Word.

John Haller said...

Just this morning I listened to a message by Brian McLaren (sort of a fundamentalist version of self flaggelation I guess) delivered at the church of the "pastor" who did Tammy Faye's funeral. In it, he railed against those who believe Jesus will return in judgment, claiming that those who aren't grown up shouldn't read Revelation. The whole passive agressive act is getting a bit old. I'll just bet that the Kidz @ Relevant will never bring that up.

GeneMBridges said...

"bloggers ought to have better things to do with their time, like ministry."

Notice that this comment most often comes to those who are children of the Reformation, i.e. Protestants. However, if it wasn't for pampheteering, et.al., the blogging of that day, where would these children be?

My Baptist brethren sometimes repeat this comment too.

a. Usually, it's on a blog in a combox. Hmmm, what's wrong with complaining about commenting on blogs and/or blogging and then delivering this zinger?

b. They also seem to forget that in the 19th century, it wasn't unusual to find pamphlets all over the place. Also, let's not forget the "blog wars" of that day, when Baptist newspaper editors sometimes wrote long, drawn out replies to each other and argued over theology for YEARS on end.

And my favorite "canned response" to this comment is a little something I saved, from Brother James Spurgeon. I'll give it in an example that I keep in my documents' file, just substitute "ministry" for evangelism:

You said, "Get out from in front of the computer and tell someone about Jesus, that will do the world and God’s kingdom much more good than 90% of what is said on these pages."

You know, if I had a dime for every time I have read this in the comment sections of a blog, I'd be able to retire and move to Club Med. This little canard gets trotted out way to much, and its always from somebody complaining about others. First, if you really believed this applied to you too, you wouldn't take the time to write the comment on a blog, so apparently, you really don't believe it's true. Second, let me borrow from my friend James Spurgeon out in TX by way of reply: Evangleism is a God-given command. It is also a joy and we do so regularly and in a meaningful way. But we don't do so 24/7 and neither do you, nor does God expect that of us. I'm sure you wasted 2-3 hours last week on something that could have been time better spent. Oh well. We will each answer to God for how we spent our hours. Thank-you, though, for caring enough to remind us of that truth.

donsands said...

"And my favorite "canned response" to this comment is a little something I saved, from Brother James Spurgeon."

Very nice. Glad you shared Brother James excellent words.

LeeC said...

I miss seeing James post.

Neat that you used an old penny there Phil. ;-)
I wanted to ask you to comment about correlations between todays emergents and the situation during Spurgeons day at the Calvary Bible breakfast but you seemed to have more than enough material to cover.

And yup, someday we'll all gag off, but the Word of the Lord lives forever...in spite of all attempts to water it down.


puritanicoal said...

David Wells said it best in relation to such entertainment-driven tripe:

"Postmoderns live on the surface, not in the depths, and theirs is a despair to be tossed off lightly and which might even be alleviated by nothing more serious than a sitcom." (Or, snack foods).

g said...

Gene wrote: in the 19th century, it wasn't unusual to find pamphlets all over the place.

There are many obvious enviromental benefits to blogging.
Less litter (poor kitty)
more trees

So you enviro-friendly, fundemobaptistic- calv-evangel - dispe- cess(ation) pool of bloggers who have no life outside of their computer... instead of spending your time sharpening iron, get out and go hug a tree.


Solameanie said...


That's rich. All the more so because the EC/postmoderns think that their mystery and navel-gazing is so deep. And they wrestle with such hard questions, questions that the conservative church either dismisses or offers up canned answers to the questions. (Never mind if said answers are thoroughly biblical. It's just too neat in their view).

In reality, our "canned" biblical answers are rejected because they simply don't want to hear them.

wordsmith said...

Wow, were those actually twenty-somethings? Sounded more like a gaggle of junior-high kids. I note that they had no problems goring oxen left and right, but they seem to think their own bovine ought to be off-limits.

terriergal said...

Hey, it's all right for Emergents to judge, but not other people. That would be 'self-righteousness'

Oh brother! Astounding. "what are they FOR?"

Isn't that what we are wondering about the emergents themselves precisely because they keep saying what they're against, and refuse to take a stand on what they're for? (except the social gospel)

Unknown said...
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Phil Johnson said...


See rule two.

If you can't comment without using crass vulgarities, you don't get to comment here.

If you want to repost your comment without the offensive language, go ahead.

Phil Johnson said...

Here's what "not harsh" looks like, I guess. The nuances between the two types of satire escape me. Perhaps some "Friend of Emergent" would care to explain it to me.