10 January 2013

Consider Your Calling

by Frank Turk

So last time: I asked the question whether the folks who turned out for Passion2013 turned out for Jesus or Religion, and I gave one answer: a Jesus-event (from the Bible) which looks like this one looks turns out people who experience a revival and not just an emotional high.  It might look like religion if what we see instead is a superficial change, a temporary emotional sweetness which, let's face it, is not self-sustaining.

How else could we tell if this was about Jesus and not merely religion?

How about this one:
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

You know: that fellow Paul is an interesting case study -- because when we think of him, somehow we think of a mash-up of Carl Trueman and Charleton Heston.  He's God's man after all, and he should be smart but not unreachable, grandfatherly in his gravitas, good-looking, and compelling.  And we think -- this is a group "we" here, not just a shot across the bow at the new young and hip crowd -- that this is how God reached the ancient world.  He sent a guy with 1st-century media saavy to write the NT and appear in live shows to get the word out.

But you know something?  That's not Paul at all.  In fact: he spends a good deal of time telling the Corinthians that one of the problems they are facing is that they want their own clever and good-looking fellows to take his place.  I mean seriously: that is exactly what they wanted, and Paul says, "well, God has already made all that stuff foolish.  You can tell because he sent me to preach to save those who believe."

Now, I know what the Passionistas accidentally reading this post are about to say: "Hey dude: we had Piper there.  Are you saying that Piper is not a good preacher?"

No dude: I am not saying that.

What I am saying is that the kid in my hypothetical example went to a rock concert -- and the headliners were the all-star talkers.  S/he went to see men (and women, right?) of huge reputation, and also some headliner bands in order to feel a certain way about his/her endorsement of Jesus -- but no human will boast in the presence of God.  And the proof, if I might say so, of what actually happened there is what is happening now, since he or she came home.

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.

In this hypothetical case, 60,000 hypothetical people are coming home to some fraction of 60,000 local churches.  Let me be as clear as possible: they are coming home to what we hope are a corresponding number of local churches.  If they are anything like their parents, they may not have a local church at all.  But if past performance is any indication of future results, they will not have the same scope of impact as 60,000 handguns or lunchboxes or bullhorns.  The show will be over.  Somehow, for them, being in the local church -- which is God's plan for the believer -- is not the same as going to an event with headliners.  Paul says that, somehow, the local church ought to be better than that -- and it seems to me that here we can see that it is not.

A year ago, Jeff Bethke said, "Jesus and religion are on opposite spectrum - See one's the work of God, but one's a man made invention - See one is the cure, but the other's the infection."  At the end of it, it is not our intention which makes something Holy: it is God's intention. And it's God's intention that the Gospel be proclaimed not from a concert stage in an arena intended for entertaining spectacles: it's his intention that it be declared from the local church.

That's why Paul also said this:
For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.
Think of the plea Paul is making here to the Corinthians: the ones who are really bringing the message of Christ to the world have become like trash, like the muddy part you scrape off in a bath -- and all of you Corinthians think that you are better than that.  This is something someone like Judah Smith ought to spend a few years contemplating before he continues in the family business, but it is especially something people seeking a Cotton-Bowl sized event ought to consider fully before continuing to endorse and expand such a thing.

The problem is not that God doesn't love large churches, or doesn't want large churches.  The problem is not that God doesn't want us to glorify God and enjoy Him now, which is the starting terminal point of forever.  The problem is that when we imagine that the best way -- or even a co-equal way -- of knowing God and glorifying him and enjoying him is by the means of the world, and not the means of the Spirit, we have inverted God's plan for us.

"Wait, wait, wait, wait," objects the hypothetical example, "How is it that suddenly TeamPyro is so concerned about the means of the Spirit, and who are you to judge the way the Spirit moved in Georgia?  Aren't you biased against moves of the Spirit?  I mean: I was there. I saw it.  I felt it.  I know it was the means of the Spirit."

Well, I think I have already given 3 Biblical reasons why that's (at least) backwards reasoning: there was no revival, there was a backwards system of values driving the event, and it creates and elevates the wrong people the wrong way when it is all said and done.  But: the problem is, at the end of the day, a Holy Spirit problem.

You remember Yesterday's post, yes?  I hope so.  I quoted the end of Acts 2 in that post to show what ought to happen when there is actual revival, but there's a funny part at the beginning of Acts 2 which maybe we should review since I have dragged the Holy Spirit into this discussion:
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
You know: as we say in theses here parts, "Aha!"

Look: at the end of the day, it was the Holy Spirit which made the events in Acts 2 happen.  What that means, in the least, is this: If the means of the Holy Spirit are used, the consequences the Spirit intends will result.  And the consequences -- the necessary consequences -- of the means of the Holy Spirit will be the salvation of men, and the formation of a local church*.  In the worst case, if a local church is not formed, the very least will be that the local church will be edified or fortified or in some way improved.

The means of the Spirit are not the things which make us feel good and seem right in our own eyes -- even though they are never found or hinted at in the Bible.  They are certainly not the things which, when we see them in the Bible, an Apostle expressly condemns.  They are also not the things which, when we see them, we can rejigger into something we enjoy a little more.

So: consider your calling, hypothetical example.  Consider what it is exactly the preaching of God's word and the singing of His praises ought to do to you and for you.  I will be willing, for the sake of not consuming your whole day, to stipulate that every word spoken at Passion2013 was worth hearing**.  If it was, what are you doing with it?  Why was the experience more important than the consequences?

I leave it for your consideration, and your own edification   Be with the Lord's people in the Lord's house on the Lord's day this weekend -- because that's where the real means of the Spirit will greet you.

*You know: or else, the condemnation of men and the hardening of their hearts into reprobation.
**Chris Rosebrough has some other thoughts on that, which I commend to you.


Daniel Kleven said...

I went to Passion 2006. I was a sophomore in college, and a church in town had a college ministry. There were some really awesome bands on the poster, and my friends were going. The first night there were smaller individual concerts at night, but you needed free tickets to get in because of the limited seating. I was pretty disappointed that I didn't get a free ticket to my favorite band, and got stuck going to some Nockels group doing doing a set of hymns.

It was awesome.

Passion was the first time I had ever heard John Piper preach. I was blown away when he explained that the gospel was not plan B, but actually plan A from all eternity. I hadn't ever thought of it that way.

My 20.000+ group worship experience was ruined by this kid who kept complaining that this wasn't really worship and kept going out in the hall and reading his Bible. Until I closed my eyes and started waving my hands again.

The night Louie gave his famous presentation on stars and galaxies and one that even looks like a cross when you see it up close, I was miserable. I was burned out, tired, and angry at God. Here I am, I spent all this money, I'm singing to you, praying to you, so you owe me another emotional high, God. What's the deal?

When we broke out into the 1000 size smaller group sessions, I was literally on my face on the ground with the weight of my sin as the group sang "Holy, Holy, Holy.'' Kid's were asking if I was okay. When we broke into the real small groups of about 10, I confessed a bunch of sins, particularly the drug use that was enslaving me. Honestly, I think it was the first time in my life I ever got a real glimpse of what "grace means.

In all, it was an incredible experience.

I went home, and went into a two-week long drug binge.

One month later, the Lord saved me.

7 years later, I'm laboring in my local church, thankful for how God used Passion in my life, and not encouraging anyone else to go back.

Robert said...

Great post Daniel. Thanks for this.

I bet that your perspective sums up what many of us are thinking; namely holding onto the tension of being grateful that God used a Passion event in the lives of many of his children (Pator Matt Chandler also comes to mind) while not being able to recommend the event(s) as being biblically orthodox.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Bethke said, "Jesus and religion are on opposite spectrum"

I don't know if I agree with that. The question is whether our religion is God-made or man-made. We always have to compare what the pastor says to what is in scripture, and have no exceptions. So when we have a religion, are we worshiping Jesus Christ, the true God, or Jesus Winfrey, the god of American Christianity? The worshipers of the god Jesus Winfrey, found at Passion and most American "Christian" churches, is rarely offensive and usually make little of America's sins like baby-killing and sodomy. The message of the true God Jesus Christ is offensive to many if not most people. Jesus Windfrey is a god of their own making, an imaginary friend, and the emotional highs produced are artificial. And as the Bible says, you'll see no fruit.

SamWise said...

To not just be picking on Passion 2013 alone (and get to Turk's point), let me throw in a former failed emotional roll-a-coaster event--Promise Keepers.

Similar tactics were used with banner events and big name Evangelical and charismatic celebs promoting a "good thing??" I went to the Charlotte event and then the one here in Columbia.

The first one was a hot, long, drawn-out dose of mixing Law and Gospel sprinkled with "decisions for Christ." A supposed positive(?) were the follow up in local churches with "Promise Keepers Groups" holding each other accountable = Law Thumping with no Gospel.

The second event had a raving liberal who completely destroyed the event and showed me the lack of leadership of the movement. His outspoken denials of the Faith went almost unchallenged and that was the last of it for me!

The "Promise Keepers Groups" floated away and now most of us feel really emotional burnt! Sound familiar? Why didn't they call the area of the Finney revivals the "Burnt Over" district?

Why? Because hype and emotion are not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can not be manufactured or summoned at will as some dyanmic force or power. He is God Amighty not a slave to Man!

I am not against conferences that offer specialized training. However, they should never usurp the legitimate ministry of the local church!

In the Lamb

Michael Coughlin said...

Thank you for your testimony Daniel, and Frank for being a "Paul."

Nash Equilibrium said...

Great series Frank. Most of the time when the Bible describes people who are worshipping, they are on their face, or possibly crying out in repentance and unworthiness when alone with God, beating their chests with sorrow, or saying "What must I do to be saved?" There are exceptions of course such as David, dancing in the street and being despised by Michal for it. You're right, religion and arranged "events" don't often display the sort of worship. Interesting!

Cathy said...

"A backwards system of values driving the whole thing..... It's a Holy Spirit problem."

Can't stop thinking about that. So much of what is happening in churches and not just these conferences is backwards: Rockin' music to whip up the emotions alternated with rhythmic trance like music to make sure you know it's "spiritual", then guilt trips and pleas for social causes so you can feel good about yourself when you give money or dig a well, and of course talk about Jesus in a candy coated non-threatening way so you know this is Christianity. This all swells up to a very intense emotional experience that is then labeled- a move of the Spirit. And so of course, the better the band is, the more people that are there, the bigger the cause is, the larger the amount of money raised, the bigger the names of the speakers are-- well, the bigger and better the experience you have will be and the so called sense of the presence of God. So these kids end up worshipping their own big experience and not Jesus at all.

How can you not think of the golden calf in this situation.

FX Turk said...

Aha. The Old Testament.

Robert said...

I'm not thinking of this in the unfrogiveable sin sense, but in some way is this not blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? I mean if people say that all of this music and such that drives an emotional reaction and response is the Holy Spirit when it is really just man made manipulation, is that not blasphemy?

I wish I could be going to the Strange Fire conference in October to hear MacArthur, Sproul, Lawson, and Phil Johnson talk about proper worship of the Holy Spirit and how the charismatic movement gets it wrong (at least that is what I get from reading the description). I think it would provide a sharp contrast.

FX Turk said...

Calling something "God" (i.e. - the Holy Spirit) which is not the Holy Spirit does seem to me to have a 10 Commandments problem.

FX Turk said...

Robert - I wish I could go, too.

Nash Equilibrium said...

I think the unfrogivable sin has something to do with Kermit.

Tom Chantry said...

Uh Oh. Are we about to have a Regulative Principle discussion?

Let me go put my annoying Puritan cap on; oh wait! I'm already wearing it!

Kerry James Allen said...

Is there a doctor in the house? Nash is off his meds again.

Robert said...

Frank - Maybe you can do a post contrasting the two conferences...the one thing I loved about the Shepherds Conference last year was they have a full orchestra playing and a choir singing with 3,000 men. No celebrities...just brethren in Christ singing hymns to God in unison.

And then a whole lot of exposition of Scripture. Definitely a healthy ratio of expository preaching to music (thinking like 4:1).

Kerry James Allen said...

Looks like Giglio just admitted that there is one form of slavery he stopped talking about 20 years ago.

"Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda a focal point of the inauguration. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ."

FX Turk said...

I'll say this again: I don't think the problem is that Crowder and Lecrae were there. I think the problem is when we lie to ourselves and say that the Holy Spirit is especially there when Crowder and Lecrae are there -- but not so much when our volunteer cantor at home is singing a capella for the 20 families in our local church. And the reason for this inversion is because of how it makes us feel.

The problem is reasoning by emotion, rather than letting our emotion be lead by the facts and reasons for our faith. When we reason by emotion, we create false religion. That is what we must guard against.

FX Turk said...

Kerry - let's have a link to that press statement from Giglio.

Tom Chantry said...

think the problem is when we lie to ourselves and say that the Holy Spirit is especially there when Crowder and Lecrae are there -- but not so much when our volunteer cantor at home is singing a capella for the 20 families in our local church.

Which, when applied to preaching, takes us back to "Reverend Average," which was the top comment of the week.

Carl C. said...

Frank, if you weren't at Passion, who's the lone-ranger, balding guy holding up a Pyro banner?

Consider what it is exactly the preaching of God's word and the singing of His praises ought to do to you and for you.
I really appreciate your focused approach to this conference. If I understand your point correctly, we should be able to look at most any 'Christian event' and judge its propriety by the extent to which it results in salvation and local church edification. Or is that too much a stretch?

Cathy said...

My teenage son came home from his Christian school just last week and said that his friends said it is not possible to really worship without great music- and by music they mean the current pop rock Christianity kind. He said they were dead serious. This kind of thinking is more ingrained than we think. With that in mind, I submit that a conference like Passion could and would never happen without the hippest, biggest, most popular Christian music people being there. What does that say about what drives it?

Anonymous said...

Recently read Challies titled "It Changed My Life!" He writes, "I am convinced that I have been shaped more by one thousand regular sermons than by any one spectacular conference message." A good summary I thought.

Kerry James Allen said...

At your service, sir.

Kerry James Allen said...

"If you could blot out from the Christian Church all the minor stars, and leave nothing but those of the first magnitude, the darkness of this poor world would be increased sevenfold." CHS

Cathy said...

(Per the article linked to by Kerry)

Huh- so one of the fruits of Passion is to back away from a clear proclamation of sin and the only answer for it. What a wasted opportunity to truly magnify Christ.

FX Turk said...

That Challies -- always saying something.

Robert said...

Finding it hard not to derail from reading that article. Like Cathy, I think this only serves to compromise Biblical integrity within the Passion movement since he is the one heading it up. I think Gooey would definitely be a fitting pseudonym.

Bill said...

Background: In his commentary on John 4:25, Dr. MacArthur notes: “Because God is spirit, those who would truly worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. True worship does not consist of mere outward conformity to religious standards and duties (Isa. 29:13; 48:1; Jer. 12:1–2; Matt. 15:7–9), but emanates from the inner spirit. It must also be consistent with the truth God has revealed about Himself in His Word. The extremes of dead orthodoxy (truth and no spirit) and zealous heterodoxy (spirit and no truth) must be avoided.”
Question: Where does Passion get it wrong?

Ken said...

I am disappointed that Louie Giglio backed out of praying at the inauguration.

There is almost nothing I agree with President Obama on.

Giglio should have accepted and said to the President's staff, after they found the sermon - yeah, that's right, and I still stand by all that I said - homosexuality is sin, and there is no such thing as "same-sex marriage"; - he should have forced the issue and made them dis-invite him.

The more Christians pull away from the world in fear, the more the world is taking over all the culture and the homosexual agenda is destroying our culture and is the destruction of civilization.

The evil that ObamaCare is doing to Hobby Lobby - Giglio should have also said that to their face.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Zealous heterodoxy.

Ken said...

I was at Passon 08 - as a mission representative. Would not have gone unless my mission board wanted to go and payed for it, which they did.

Two possitives about the event:
1. John Piper's sermon
2. It provided a context to talk to lots of young people about missions and guidance and seeking the Lord's will.

1. The music was just too darn loud. The base was reaching into my heart and shaking it and jarring it and I hated it.
2. The goofy things the young people do - jumping up and down and pumping up their hands like at a rock concert. That's is goofy to me and, even though I like some classic 60s and 70s rock; the more recent modern stuff is weird - the screemo stuff sounds Satanic.
3. Exactly all the things that you, Frank are talking about in your two articles - celebrity, what is true worship, the role of the Holy Spirit, the local church; going to something and getting an emotional high and calling it worship, etc. - romanticizing missions and hard ministry work.

But, there is something wrong with our churches and our parental leadership and culture when young people don't like church because it is "boring" to them; and these kinds of events provide a substitute for them, at least temporarily and in their minds.

Maybe we 40-50 years olds need to discover what we need to do to gain them back in discipleship and local church? I am including myself in that.

Chris said...

I am actually interested in hearing the discussion that is taking place here and the snarkiness turns me off. How does anyone really expect to get the people you want corrected to listen to you?

Cathy said...

Ken- don't you think kids think church is boring because we've catered to the idea that church is to be fun, exciting, and definitely entertaining. The answer to that is not to make it more so to get them to come, it is to crush that idol and proclaim the gospel.

Ken said...

I never catered to that idea, so I don't know. But I see your point when many Evangelical churches have catered to that idea.

I agree that that is an idol and we have to proclaim the gospel; but only God can crush that idol in their heart. When we do it, ( myself), I come across as angry and they run away. They have a lot of other voices competing for their attention and time; and the whole separate college scene culture that they live in is pulling them away from God and the church. (along with video games, i-phones, music, Facebook, texting, Starbucks, movies, etc. - they have a whole separate culture - staying up late, junk food, etc. - they live separated lives from their parents except when they need help with something.
It is an entire cultural systematic problem.

Cathy said...

Ahhhh- the allure of pragmatism. She sings a siren song, doesn't she.
Culture will always attempt to pull people away from God and always has.

George said...

ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ." can anyone explain what that means?

FX Turk said...


What particularly did you find snarky about this post, or any of the posts in this series? I'm interested as I think I was extraordinarily-restrained in writing these. I didn't even mention any living person as the object of my concern -- only the hypothetical example.

I am interested and am willing to revise based on your critique. Please do tell.

FX Turk said...


Sounds like religion to me.

Kaj Ballantyne said...

Ken and Cathy,

We can't say that we need to change the perception that worship is not about entertainment while at the same time critiquing the "style" of entertainment. Ken, your first 2 negatives are about the style of entertainment ... as though if it were more your type of entertainment it would have been better. You may not be saying this but the underlying current in many of the comments seem to be saying this (I don't see this in Frank's post).

Orchestra or electric guitar - what people (young or old) want to be a part of is something that transforms. And yes, an emotional high can be misunderstood as transformation and so be a real draw. But when you look around at your own church (whether it's "hip" or not) do you see people transformed by grace. Do you see James 2 in action (real life changing grace)?

As far as the emotionalism ... I think worship is like a train and the engine of the train is our minds, our emotions are the coal car and our wills are being pulled behind both. We need both our minds and our hearts engaged because a train without an engine (the mind, theology) is just a roller coaster and we are completely susceptible to every change of life that comes our way. But just having an engine without a coal car and the train is soon dead and cold.

Nash Equilibrium said...

"Worship music" in a pop culture context...
Some of the best worship music I've ever experienced is music that had scripture as its lyrics - didn't matter to me whether it was exciting or not, it helped me to remember passages of scripture because they were set to music. Because it was God's word, it also facilitated true worship (for me personally anyway).
The thing I find to be smacking of religiosity is the pop-culture-like lyrics with a Christianoid veneer. I would bet dollars to donuts that most big venues (possibly Passion) are dominated more by the pop culture lyrics than scripture lyrics. God's word has an impact every time - other types of lyrics are probably more appealing to emotions than to true worship.

Ken said...

I could have enjoyed the music IF it was done tastefully - most of Chris Tomlin's and others, I like - when listening by CD -IF it was done tastefully and not cranked up so much. Less bass; more clear acoustic guitar and electric guitar that is clear and crisp. I actually like 60-70s classic rock style - But it was just so, so loud and the bass was so loud - my maybe I have problems with my physical heart - it was painful to be in there with the bass playing that loud.

Chris said...

I was more turned off by the comments. I have struggled with the posts. It feels almost like picking at nits. But I understand where you are coming from and appreciate your heart and I know that it is not just picking at nits. You are zealous that God's children worship him correctly. And that they call worship only what really is worship. I lose my charitableness when I read the comments and have almost one starred it. I have not, because I can't disagree with your posts.

But it is tough for someone like me who comes to stand outside the circle of the cool, smart kids to learn what is going on when the cool, smart kids start making fun of the ones who are not as enlightened.

Ken said...

Cathy wrote:
"Ahhhh- the allure of pragmatism. She sings a siren song, doesn't she.
Culture will always attempt to pull people away from God and always has."

Yes; I agree; but are you saying I sounded as if I agree with pragmatism? I don't.

Our culture has ALREADY pulled the college students/young people away. (started in the 50s and 60s - worse now with cell phones, etc.

FX Turk said...


The cool, smart kids post at The Gospel Coalition. This is the other end of the high school cafeteria.

semijohn said...

Yeah, but we also need to make sure we're not the "uncool" clique hanging out under the tree behind the teatherball court in our black leather jackets and are not open to outsiders in a knee-jerk reaction sense.

Tom Chantry said...

@ Semijohn,

Really? That's too bad. Some of us were so uncool we envied those kids. Can't we just pretend to be them?

semijohn said...

From where I'm sitting, I don't see anything wrong with a John Travolta a la Grease avatar.

Tom Chantry said...

It beats a John Travolta ala "Welcome Back, Kotter" avatar.

Robert said...

Maybe the problem is entertainment in general. Our kids are pulled away by it...we're pulled away by it. God's Word should be exciting and invigorating without having to add anything to it. When we are trying to "engage the culture" or "win the culture wars", we're fighting the wrong fight. We're not supposed to love the world or become friends with the world. I'm not saying entertainment in and of itself is bad per se, but the way that the world has packaged it and made it into an idol doesn't seem good. I fight this same fight myself and can see the way it goes within my own family when there is too much focus on entertainment. And I think this is why we see kids living separated lives from parents and not being engaged at church. If it isn't something that is ingrained in their day to day life at home, then why will it matter when we drag our kids to church on Sunday morning? If we aren't retaining what is beign preached and using that to teach our kids in day to day life, then why would they be engaged?

How did they go about getting people together and teaching/preaching in the Bible? Did they put on shows? Did they try to choose the cool types of music? What I see is a lot of preaching the Gospel, encouragement of the Church, exhortation to living in a godly manner, and instruction for reproof and rebuke. There is a whole lot more detail that fills in the gaps there, but I think you get the picture.

As Frank dutifully puts it, let's be with the Lord's people in the Lord's house on the Lord's day worshipping Him together. And then let's be faithful in bringing the good news to a lost world.

Ron (aka RealityCheck) said...

As I pointed out over at Justin Taylor’s blog, where the “loss” of Louie Giglio praying at Obama’s inauguration is being discussed, Brannon Howse, from Worldview Weekend, just got done with four radio shows with Chris Rosebrough, of Fighting for the Faith, as his guest, discussing the mess that was Passion 2013. The first show can be found here:


Ken Silva over at Apprising Ministries has also been dealing with Passion 2013:

and so have Sola Sisters as well:

Together with Frank’s piece maybe Christians can figure out (read that as “discern”) what brings Glory to God and what doesn't.

Morris Brooks said...

Frank's posts remind me of what is going on in so many churches in our land each Sunday. Event driven, emotion fueled, with staging and lighting and concert music, and inventive sermons which are devoid of the Scripture and the Spirit and led by a what's happening pastor and his musical sidekick. Passion is just a bigger event on a larger stage.

Daniel's testimony also reminds me that in situations like this, God still saves and many times, unfortunately, God saves in spite of us not because of us. He saves because He is sovereign in salvation and it is His glory to save...even at events where the people are worshiping themselves.

I can see many standing before the Lord saying, "Lord, these people were saved because of me." and the Lord responding, "No, I saved them in spite of you."

Kathy said...

Thank you for this series. It has been an encouragement to me personally. The thought that stood out as I read this last article is this:

And the consequences -- the necessary consequences --of the means of the Holy Spirit will be the salvation of men, and the formation of a local church. *You know: or else, the condemnation of men and the hardening of their hearts into reprobation.

Is this a topic that you've developed more fully in the past? If so, under what tags might I search? We live in a country where we see the latter happen over and over again, and it would be great to read what others have written on the subject.

Nonna said...

Events like these are just one reason I could not be an Evangelical. Back in the day it was the Jesus Festivals. Now it's the Passion Concerts. Some time ago I went to an Evangelical church with my husband because we were invited by the pastor who we've known for quite some time. As we entered the church, we were greeted with blaring music, and hyped up worship. After the service was over, one of the elders said that they acquiesced to their young people leading the worship because otherwise they would go elsewhere. The majority of Evangelical churches in my area have this hyped-up-so-cool praise music and call it worship. Why is it that the success of so many Evangelical churches is defined by how many young people attend and the revved up music? I suppose if I were Protestant, I'd have to be a conservative Lutheran.

Anonymous said...

Hmm ... something in this critique, as much as I want to agree with it, doesn't sit well.

Something so ... results-driven (purpose driven, perhaps?). Is there *no* value in simply gathering with others to praise the Lord, hear the word preached, sing to the Lord?

*No* value, beyond measurable "metrics" afterward? Really?

Nonna said...


After watching some of the video and listening to some of the "preaching" from this event, I seriously question the "Lord" they are praising and worshipping.

FX Turk said...


I think you didn't read these posts very carefully. You certainly do not carry the premises from the first post into the second and third posts.

Zorro! said...

I am sorry that I came to these posts late, but with what little time during my lunch I would like to present an observation. For help in understanding (I am not an expert in philosophy or anything), i'll tell you I have recently (this month) read three books by Francis A. Schaeffer, and am in the middle of a fourth.: "How Should We Then Live?"; "The God Who Is There"; "Escape From Reason"; and the fourth is "He Is There and He Is Not Silent."

The who thrust of this "Passion" looks very closely like Shaeffer's description of Karl Jaspers' (1883-1969) philosphy of looking for a "final experience" - or some kind of meaningful experience. Because even though his intellectual reasoning told him that life was absurd and meaningless, it is (contrary to his intellectual reasoning) in our nature to understand that life is rational and has meaning. Especially Humans.
That idea was perpetrated and built upon by Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) who seriously proposed drugs (specifically LSD) as a solution to finding this final experience, finding the truth inside yourself and a sense of meaningness in life.
This idea was taken quite seriously in the 60's and spread to much music and art and poetry as well - as a way to try to have certain experiences that would give meaning to a person's life.
Eventually people would also use words that had certain connotations, but no meaning to them (like "god" and "Jesus" and "cross"), in order to have an experience and feel like something meaningful had happened - but in reality they communicate nothing.
The whole premise is that truth and meaning is not objective, but subjective to a person's experiences within themselves.

I think Bob DeWaay (from Critical Issues Commentary) would agree that some people are treating "experiences" as a false god, and are seeking to worship it, and bow to it, and sacrifice to it.
Just like the Israelites at the bottom of the mountain who were waiting for Moses - they said (heavily paraphrased) "where is this guy? Let's make something we can worship as God and call it the God that saved us" or the people to whom the letter to the Hebrews is speaking to (I would argue: us) - they were exhorted to believe that Christ's finished sacrifice was sufficient - to believe that - to have FAITH - and not to fall into going back to the pomp and circumstance of temple sacrifices to atone for their sins.
Gotta go!~

Anonymous said...

Perhaps so Frank. I did read the earlier posts, but surely could be missing things.

I just fear there might be some baby in that bathwater. A good and necessary caution such as yours can have some qualifications (which perhaps you have already made, as you allude?)

So, we have the capacity for emotional excitement. We should just save that capacity for our idols then, or at best our frivolities? Only a stance of cool detachment is OK for public preaching and singing?

Yes, that's an extreme characterization, and surely not your intended point ... but it's the ditch on the other side of this road. Roads have two ditches.

Another angle ... a lot of people coming together publicly for praise and worship and hearing the word preached is a result, not just a cause. Not the result, yes, but a result. A good thing in itself. Or it can be.

Just some thoughts. Disclaimer - wasn't there, not talking about the specific content of this event (but then, your points didn't seem to be dependent upon the specific content of this event either).