18 October 2007

Like... could you just say it?

posted by Dan Phillips

You'd swear this guy had been reading the Po-Motivators.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20)

...whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God.... (1 Peter 4:11a)
(The speaker is a "slam poet" named Taylor Mali; you'd swear he was talking about Christians in general and pastors in specific, though I've not seen that he makes any claim to be a Christian.)

Here's the irony: a man who apparently is a worldling, who accordingly has no transcendent and eternal basis for his own worldview, sees this ridiculous trait of our age. And he calls other worldlings, who accordingly have no transcendent and eternal basis for their worldview, to speak boldly and with conviction.

But self-identified cutting-edge Christian leaders are by contrast modeling the very stance through which Mali has seen, so devastatingly.

In an age in which Christians should be called to know what and why we believe, and to say it with conviction, instead the very foundational truths on which Christian truth-claims rest are being held at arm's length. And this stance is held up as virtuous, rather than pilloried as cowardly and disastrous.

h-t the Bayly boys, from one of their commenters

Dan Phillips's signature


donsands said...

Nice. Thanks.

The pulpits, or podiums, are more for suggesting things today, you know.

Travis said...

"Aggressively inarticulate" - I loved that phrase. It's been filed away for future use.

James Scott Bell said...

That I should be inspired by this more than by most preaching today says, like, y'know, a lot.

cslewis3147 said...

wow...that was great, that'll preach.

goasktheplatypus said...

I was just starting to kick my YouTube addiction, and then you post this.

Generation Y, the generation of "Yeah, like, well maybe..." Everything is a question. There are no hard answers. And their pastors and youth pastors prove it.

DJP said...

Right, Grace. It's a conversation. Not a proclamation.

mkz said...

I uh, like really feel that, I like, have sorta a problem with indecisive people. I think.

Truth is sadder than fiction.

Stefan Ewing said...

Well, that may be true for him, but, well, like, you know?

No, just kidding. That was good.

Solameanie said...

I feel strongly both ways about this. ;)

Seriously, that's great. You should probably send links of this to Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones etc. Maybe a few youth pastors and even senior pastors here and there.

But what do I know? I could be wrong.

Kevin said...

Truth or consequences? Which would you rather have?

Mike Riccardi said...

This was great! What a spot-on commentary of the times! It really is amazing for all the points Dan made. I'm fighting every impulse to make every one of the points he's already made. Stuff like this excites me, because it gives me hope.

As it happens, I was just studying Acts 2:14-36 (Peter's sermon) with my small group last night, and one of the things that is glaringly obvious is Peter's authoritative proclamation. Notable is the absence of.. like.. ya know... suggestions?

But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. -- 2:14
Men of Israel, listen to these words: -- 2:22
Brethren, I may confidently say to you -- 2:29
Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified." -- 2:36

No quibbling there. "Listen up! Heed my words! Don't miss what I'm saying! You killed your King! You did it!" Aggressively articulate, if I do say so myself.

And just so I don't have to say so myself, and cuz he says it better than me, get Steve Lawson's sermon on this from Shepherds' 2007, General Session 2. There's a free version that he did at his own church which I imagine would be similar, but it's not the same file (I don't think).

Thanks for posting this Dan. I'm gonna send it to everyone.

Daniel said...

I think the term "aggressively inarticulate" is going to be used in many conversations today, and again in more than a few pulpits on Sunday.

Apropos indeed.

Stefan Ewing said...

Kevin wrote:

Truth or consequences? Which would you rather have?

That was good!

DJP said...

Truth or consequences? Which would you rather have?

Kevin, Sewing — you could almost say that's the subtext of Proverbs, couldn't you?

Kevin said...

um...er...well yeah I guess that could be the theme, but I'm not sure. What do you think.

Sorry for the sarcasm. Yes, yes, yes that could be the subtext of proverbs. Or a city in NM.

Solameanie said...


Your morphing avatar reminds me of Cardinal Richelieu for some reason. Now I am getting worried about my imagination.

jigawatt said...

NPR played a clip of Mali reciting the poem back in 2005. It includes the text, although he ad libs some in both versions.


LeeC said...


Nash Equilibrium said...

Postmodernism and Christianity are mutually exclusive. I really wonder why so many Christians have a hard time declaring that? In failing to declare it, they themselves becomne postmodern.

My guess is that it stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the "judge not lest you be judged" verse.

Tyler said...

stratagem, that's like; just your own opinion, you know?

Spurgeonwannabe said...

I think this blog is good but why do people wanna playa hate youth pastors? Having been one for five years before taking on a senior pastor position and I can honestly say that most of the comments here are aimed at emergent youth pastors but those of us who roll in Calvinist or Reformed circles would not qualify for the rhetoric which is tossed about indiscriminately.

The goal of my church was to mentor me as a youth pastor (or associate whatever you want to call it) and to help me learn the Word, to preach, to minister and to effectively become a servant of God. I have in no way arrived but I was never left to my own devices.

Secondly I was in an area with a few other youth pastors and we were all accountable to our senior pastors and the emergent shenanigans were never an option.

Stereotyping the youth pastor doesn't help the situation. Godly mentoring does, and instead of generalizing we need to make a dramatic shift in the way we train young guys in the ministry. Quite honestly I feel that it is hardly the fault of the youth pastor that we are in the state we are in today.

Can you say pragmatism?

Solameanie said...


I don't think anyone here is stereotyping youth pastors. The problem is that this stuff has spread like Ebola within youth ministry. Attend a Youth Specialties convention and you'll see what I am talking about. No doubt there are many youth pastors out there who oppose this stuff as we do. I wish more of them would speak out more vociferously.

JR said...

Where can I find a Scrabble t-shirt? That should be added to the Pyro-store..like immediately.

Mike Riccardi said...

Did I miss something?

Who's "playa hating" on youth pastors?

Luke and Rachael said...

Like, I have no idea what could warrant you to conclude that this bloke is even *apparently* not a Christian. I mean, I dunno, what justifies even the apparently claim? Is it b/c he's like doing comedy in a nightclub, or something?


John Fitzsimmons. said...

I'm a youth pastor and I refuse to use anything but scripture when it comes to teaching young people about God and his ways.

Although sometimes I feel like i'm on my own because so many of the big youth ministries etc are following the emerging nonsense, even ones I used to respect. And some of my older young people are on about noomas. Problem is if youth don't like what they hear in church, they can listen to to what they want on internet.

It makes me feel like i'm always negative, but I know I have to stand firm with God's strength because Christ's honour is at stake.

donsands said...

I watched another video of this guy, and he seems like a conservative humanist, and crude.

Hey John Fitz,
Lord bless you.
You can't go wrong standing on the Holy Scriptures. And sure there's negative stuff, but how about the good news. Is there any more exciting and incredible news to found anywhere.
the Scriptures are truth, and that is exciting, to learn, study, and know the truth.
It may slam you to your knees, but that's a great place to be sometimes.

DJP said...

Rachael— please read the post on which you're commenting. Then tell me if, and why, this is still a question.

John R. said...

Is he available for bible conference bookings?



northWord said...

hahah - I'm going to start another blog dealy called "the bandwagon of my uncertainty"

ya know, here in MN ambiguity is a staple in the day to day conversation..a (false) survival tactic.

I think, at least from my experience this new(ish)way of communicating is an offshoot of the older ones propensity for "don't ask don't tell" (maybe it was a Lutheran thing I dunno) -where the younger generation picked up on this and gave it a fresh twist.

I still use the(ahem) phrase "n-stuff" and sometimes say "whatever", I think it's ok sometimes, it keeps me relevant and cultural and heck, my bio doesn't say anything about Yale or Harvard or a Nobel *har* dealy bop.

Seriously, it was a riot to watch that guy fling the truth in our faces, it does make one think about the degradation of simple human communication on all levels....Even in type, we all have seen what happens to a thread of comments because one person didn't read something right - but I digress.

stratagem said that "Postmodernism and Christianity are mutually exclusive" - I would further that by saying that the two are diametrically opposed.

/Yes...God Bless you, John Fitz!

Bike Bubba said...

I'm listening to his talk on teachers, and...well...let's just say he's certainly not trying to get into a fundamental church pulpit, judging by some of the language he uses.

(though he's really rather clean by the standards of today's comics...much like Bill Cosby, IMO)

And that said, I'm struck at how he really does have the cadence of a really good preacher. He's preaching, just not the Gospel.

Stefan Ewing said...

Spurgeonwannabe and John Fitz:

God bless the both of you. You're doing the work of Paul, in the environments Paul encountered! This blog talks a lot about emergents of all ages—MacLaren, Pagitt, and their ilk are no spring chickens! No one here as anything against youth ministry per se; au contraire, Godly youth pastors like yourselves are to be built up and encouraged in your work. May God's blessings be upon both of you, and those of the Shepherd's flock whom He has given to you.

goasktheplatypus said...

John Fitz and spurgeonwannabe:

I know youth pastors like you exist, but you are rare. I'm glad you ignore the "entertain them to death" methods of most youth ministry and teach the solid Word. Your students will be grateful in college.

I went to a small conservative Baptist university. Of the dozen "youth ministry" majors in my senior class in college, I can't think of a single one I'd let lead a youth group or teach my future children.

And I apologize if I'm a bit snippy. This is one of my soapboxes after working in youth ministry. I could complain about it all day, but that would hijack the thread.

Cindy Swanson said...

Not seeing a trackback opportunity here, so I thought I'd let you know that I quoted you and linked to you on my blog today, for what it's worth! Good stuff.

goasktheplatypus said...

And what's playa hating anyway? :-)

northWord said...

Yes, Spurgeonwannabe too.. Prayers for all youth Pastors to stand strong, remain in the faith to the end.. especially at the risk of being unpopular, it's worth it. I can only imagine the challenges..

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 7: 21)

Stefan Ewing said...

Oh, and a slight correction: May the Body of Christ be blessed in Spurgeonwannabe's new calling as a senior pastor.

Brendt said...

So, are you implying that a Christian might learn something from an apparent non-Christian?



Daniel said...

Solameanie, I learned long ago that having an odd avatar gets me hits on my blog ;-)

Kaffinator said...

Mali challenged all to "say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it."

But...isn't that what the EC already does?

Luke and Rachael said...

"a man who apparently is a worldling, who accordingly has no transcendent and eternal basis for his own worldview, sees this ridiculous trait of our age. And he calls other worldlings, who accordingly have no transcendent and eternal basis for their worldview, to speak boldly and with conviction."

Yup, I read it. Again. For the third time, actually. And I still don't understand why you'd call him an "apparent worldling." Calling someone an 'apparent X' seems to imply that there something about that person that seems or appears a certain way, such that it warrants you to call her an apparent X.

My point: I have no idea what it is about this person that would or could warrant you to call him an apparent worldling. What's apparently worldlingy about him? And why are the people to whom he's talking apparent worldlings? What is it about their appearance that seems worldly to you?

As an aside, the language of the post exacerbates the point. Instead of saying that the man and the audience might be worldlings, (though for all we know they might be Xians too), and then saying, that *if they were *, everything you say would be true of them, you say that they are apparently worldlings, and then seem to imply (note the 'accordingly') that b/c of this they *have*--in fact (rather than *would have*, if they really were worldlings) no transcendent and eternal basis.

I know this is nitpicky, but I think it points up just the sort of rhetorical flourish--which can actually be quite manipulative and truth-distorting, though I don't claim that was your intent--characteristic of certain types of overly polemical Xians. I think we need to be very careful of using rhetoric to whip up the crowd, rather than spelling out our claim clearly and in non-loaded language. But that's just me, a starving philosophy student who went to Div school to learn to pick on conservatives. :)

Luke (not Rachael)

Ali said...

I liked the way that guy talked! it sounded good and was really entertaining to watch. More entertaining then watching a bunch of surly teens joining each others band wagons.
I want to sound like that when I talk. Aggressively asserting authority into what I want to say.
Totally, man.

777law said...

Can someone help me find some/any reference to youth groups in the bible?

I'm, ya know, not able to find one.

DJP said...

1 Kings 12:8-11
2 Kings 2:23-24
Proverbs 1:10-19; 7:6-7

Buck said...

Can someone help me find some/any reference to youth groups in the bible?

I'm, ya know, not able to find one.

If you're just doing a word search, might have problems with: small groups, or women's ministries, or worship/song leaders, or building committees, or ministry development officers, or gospel tracts, or Christian bestsellers, or blogging for the Kingdom, or $500/hour attorneys, or...

Was there a relevant point (or even irrelevant) or just a general observation?

I like Dan's references, but if any ol' grouping of utes will do, try Daniel 1:3,4.

Hmmm, "youths without blemish" -- sounds like a great name for a Christian boy band.

goasktheplatypus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hayden said...

Fellow Youth Pastors,

Stay strong. I came to Michigan and started preaching to our youth 2 years ago. The first year, some of the parents almost drummed me out because I was 'killing the group'. Now in my third year, the youth have started to grow and the parents as well. They would now throw me out if I did anything other than preach the Word!

Keep preaching the Word and the Lord will do His work. (Make sure that they understand it though :)

DJP said...

Good one, Buck.


777law said...

djp and buck,

Thank you for your bible reference. After looking them up it clear that you are in agreement with me. Also, regarding the lawyer remark - do I detect an ad-hominem?

DJP said...

Well, to be clear, my comment was meant to elicit a chuckle. My actual view is that youth pastors can have a vital ministry, if they're actual pastors. Any gathering of youths has potential for good or ill. As a young Christian, I went to many "youth" meetings and assemblies that were very helpful, challenging, and encouraging to me.

But I was going driven by hunger and need for the Word. If that hadn't been the agenda, I'd not have gone often.

DJP said...

Luke, I deleted my own first response to you, because I didn't like it.

Bottom line is I think you're choosing to skip the part where, after providing a link leading to Mali's own web site, I carefully say "you'd swear he was talking about Christians in general and pastors in specific, though I've not seen that he makes any claim to be a Christian." I think you're also choosing just to ignore my consistent qualifications. It seems to me like you're wanting to find and camp out on some problem. If you want an answer, there it is. If you want something to complain about, can't help you.

Also, don't infer that I am an "Xian," please. I'm not, have never been, never will be. Yes, I know the rationalization for the abbreviation, and the nicest thing I can say is that I find it unpersuasive. If writing the full name of Christ is simply too taxing, one should save one's strength for daily necessities, and not waste it writing comments on Christian blogs.

Ann said...

You've just clarified something I've wondered about, I thought Xian was a person from somewhere in China as that was the context in which the word was used.I may be a bit dozy !
Writing X instead of Christ is like crossing Him out eg Christmas, Xmas.Totally off the subject of the post but thanks anyway.

DJP said...

The rationalization is that our X looks like the Greek X. Because we all read Greek, right? It's lazy at best, pretentious at worst, and I've no use for it.

Not that I have an opinion.

(EVERYONE I fault for doing this explains the Greek basis to me, even though without exception so far [I think] I've been studying Greek since before they were born.)

Stefan Ewing said...

You old curmudgeon, you.

Mike Riccardi said...

Even if the "chi" thing worked, it would still need to be Xristian.

Solameanie said...

Youth Without Blemish . . . the band . . . the tour . . .

Sponsored by Clearasil.

Solameanie said...

Philosophy students. Yeah.

I studied philosophy in college. I remember one particular course in which I enrolled. It was called "Contemporary Moral Issues." Wow. In a secular college even. Sounded like something into which I could really sink my teeth.

The professor's first lecture was on "Light, Speed and Panorama." Puzzled, at the end of the rather "out there" lecture, I raised my hand and asked him what the past hour had to do with "Contemporary Moral Issues." My question puzzled the good professor, and his meandering reply puzzled me even further. I could see from the outset that the course would be useless.

I dropped the class, and never looked back with regret at not wasting time studying fallen philosophy. The blind trying to lead and falling into a pit.

DJP said...

Yeah. You kind of get the impression they're missing some truth, some foundational truth, something that is the first principle of knowledge.....

777law said...


I took no offense to what you or buck said, but in response to your response, I have a couple of questions.

I am not sure what you mean by your statement "any gathering of youths has potential for good or ill." Do you mean in the context of church sanctioned youth groups or not? Also, what do you do with the element in "youth groups" that are not driven by hunger and need for the word? Do these yutes pose a threat to the other yutes who are being drawn by the Holy Spirit? And finally, are you saying there is biblical justification for youth groups or not? Clearly, there is at least no biblical mandate for such a thing - please correct me if I am wrong about this.

Personally, I have for some time understood youth groups to be a rather recent development in the church, having emerged according to the blueprints drawn up by John Dewey, to conform to his idea of what the public school system should look like and how it should function. I see it as being, in all honesty, Darwinian.

Nevertheless, I have been wrong many times before. And since sound correction should be the friend of every Christian, I welcome it if I am wrong.

I think this day's topic, if anything, encourages us to be very unambiguous about what we are saying. I like that.

Spurgeonwannabe said...

You know you need to do a post about youth pastors now - I an ex-youth pastor would think such a topic merits discussion and rather than simply condone bloggerance (ignorance due to only reading blogs)lets chew on the meat of the Word!

Stefan Ewing said...

Assuming youth ministry is part of God's commission of believers to raise up the next generation:

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children...." (Deuteronomy 6:6-7a)

"You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’" (Exodus 13:8)


Surely there must be passages in the Epistles about instructing youth as well?

Stefan Ewing said...

Mike Riccardi:

Or Xpistian.

Buck said...

"djp and buck,

Thank you for your bible reference. After looking them up it clear that you are in agreement with me. Also, regarding the lawyer remark - do I detect an ad-hominem?"

No offense intended -- that was my own lame attempt to elicit a chuckle (though i'm obviously less adept than Dan). Concerning lawyers, I'd take a $500/hour anything in my family... so far I'm up to $6.50 ($9.75 on wknds and holidays). Anyway yes, I agree that youth groups as we know them are not found in Scripture, but can't understand the leap to "Darwinian." Perhaps my own intellect isn't evolved enough.

"Also, what do you do with the element in "youth groups" that are not driven by hunger and need for the word? Do these yutes pose a threat to the other yutes who are being drawn by the Holy Spirit?"

I suppose I would echo Dan's comments earlier on youth pastors, but would amend them with "any gathering of people has potential for good or ill." Obviously, youth groups (or Sunday school classes, or any other subjective grouping) shouldn't supplant but rather complement the Biblical work, mission, teaching and organization of the local body. But are you suggesting that youth groups themselves are inherently anti-scriptural? If so, is it the youth or the group that makes it so? Frankly, it appears that you're creating a conundrum where none exists -- but then we're back to that pesky lawyer thing (sorry, too easy:))

As an aside, 777, love the name. In my life BC, I once hit three consecutive triple 7s while playing blackjack in a Vegas casino. In my not-so-youthful arrogance I then proceeded to lose about six months of income in the next four hours. An expensive lesson, but the Lord used that as pivotal moment in my own salvation. Thankfully, the foolish flight of sinners is no match for the patient and relentless pursuit of the Sovereign.


sorry for the #3 rules violation

777law said...


I will not reply on the youth group matter, unless Dan gives me the ok. I should not have gone off topic, but being the lawyer that I am, I saw the "door open" on an earlier comment, and open wider after Dan replied to my comment.

Anyway, lest you mis-stereotype me, I will tell you a little about myself, which I do not generally do over the Inet.

I do not earn 500.00/hr. I consider myself blessed if I earn 500.00 per week. I recently recovered from a nearly 2 year illness wherein I had to start all over again - from scratch. After declaring bankruptcy last year, I grossed roughly 10,000.00. How's that for supporting a family of seven (one severely handicapped)& (including my stay-at-home wife who homeschools our children)?

I am not looking for sympathy, God has more than met our needs. In fact, He used a pretty desperate and protracted situation to bring us to the reformed faith - a priceless gift.

Anyway, I have answers to your questions. Let's just see if the opportunity to discuss this further presents itself.

double peace,


Mike Riccardi said...

There's always email, you two...