Doug Pagitt on Way of the Master Radio

Here’s an audio link to Doug Pagitt on Way of the Master radio on Monday, during the first hour.  It is absolutely startling!  I know the Emerging Church has a different way of dealing with doctrine, to say the least, but this is absolutely unbelievable.  If you aren’t convinced that the Emergent church approach to Scripture and eternity isn’t a problem, you MUST listen to the first half of this clip.  He didn’t stick around long enough to defend his view against actual verses.

So do I disagree on principle or because Pagitt isn’t my personal preference?

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“Evan Almighty”: Preference or Principle

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This blog is supposed to be presenting issues and using Biblical discernment to see whether they are good or not.  Unfortunately, I just haven’t do that too often, but thought this might be a good time.  When we were flying home, I ended up holding a slumbering infant on my lap while Leah slept, so the only thing for me to do was to watch the inflight movie, which happened to be “Evan Almighty”.  For those of you who don’t know, it is a sequal of “Bruce Almighty”, but with a different main character and situation.  Thought I did not see the first movie with Jim Carrey playing the main role, my understanding is that the sequal is more geared towards families than the first.

The main premise is that God appears to Evan Baxter, a former newscaster, now elected to Congress.  He moves his family to D.C., and soon God appears to him and tells him to build an ark.  Baxter fights God’s command, but soon realizes he doesn’t really have a choice.  He eventually wins over his family, and builds the ark despite an absence of support from the community and the threat of losing his job.  Mixed in is a lot of humor focused on Baxter’s appearance morphing into what they presume Noah would have looked like as well as plenty of animal humor. 

When I first saw this movie coming out, something inside of me asked why most Christians had no problem with a movie where they had God being played by Morgan Freeman.  I just didn’t think that God was particularly honored by being portrayed like this.  It isn’t even like he was a disrespectful figure, but it still did not take the holiness and righteousness of God seriously, but rather perpuated an idea that God wants to be your buddy. 

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Interestingly, the only people who were really upset as God being portrayed like this was mostly the Islamic crowds in other parts of the world.  Doesn’t really surprise me that not many Evangelicals in the US were even asking the question of whether this is acceptable.  My view of God is too big for this to be ok in my view.  I still am pretty uncomfortable with such a relaxed picture of God, but I also had a few other concerns about the movie:

1. It seemed to basically not get the idea of the Biblical account of the flood.  The point of the flood was that Creation had reached such a sinful climax that God decided to destroy it and preserve Noah and his family.  The nations had become such an insult to God that they were condemned and destroyed.  For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, it is basically about a Congressman who is responsible for destroying a pristeen landscape so he could make money on building developments.  So much for focusing on real sin issues.  This has become Al Gore’s idea of sin issues. 

2. Another thing that bugged me was how Evan Baxter was obviously not a believer.  He did not pretend to have a relationship with God, and this is demonstrated in the fact that he didn’t know how to pray to God and didn’t see the need to include God in what he was doing in his life.  Then in a dialogue, God tells Baxter that “Whatever I do to you, it is because I love you.”  This sent shrills up my spine, and continues to perpetuate that God is just the big brother in Heaven who loves anyone, despite their feelings about Him. 

3. I was waiting to see what would happen to the people who mocked Baxter throughout the family, then was disappointed to see that they made it on the Ark.  So much for following the original story.  Imagine being Noah, and seeing people cry out to be saved and then watching them drown.  I guess that’d be too harsh for a family movie. 

4. God didn’t close the door to the Ark.  This may seem like a small detail, but it was God who shut the door, not Noah. 

5. The movie was full of seeming contradictions and unanswered questions that beg to be asked.  In the end of the movie, the whole development is destroyed, as well as a lot of damage brought to D.C. through the collapsing of a damn.  They basically ignore the question of what happened to all of the families in the homes that were destroyed.  Were they killed because God was trying to teach a money hungry politician a lesson?  The movie ends with the Baxter family going on a hike.  Did they forget that their house was destroyed in the flood.  The movie doesn’t answer or attempt to answer how God gets people through the tough times.

 This may seem like nit picking, but our country is full of people who are ‘good intentioned’, but have no idea what it means to actually live for God in all circumstances. It was all about doing small things to help out your community, and then everything will work out.  It is shallow to just leave it at “God does good for those that he loves” and then show a Hollywood ending.  That’s not life. 

6. It was obviously not a global flood, just a local flood.  So depending on your view, that may be a good thing for you. 

7. The thing that is most disturbing is that this had just enough of the shallow “christianese” that plagues our country that it was widely accepted by mainline Christianity.  Check out the review on Christianity Today.  I wasn’t expecting to read that. There was just enough in there for people to not ask the questions that need to asked.  Was God honored by this.  I doubt it.  This begs a larger discussion, that maybe I can talk about soon:

Is God either honored or dishonored, or is there a ‘neutral middle ground’. 

“The Secret” 11 Steps Toward Your Family’s Bright Future

The current issue (April 2007) of the San Gabriel Valley Family magazine features an article on “The Secret” written by Wendy Silvers. Silvers first describes what “The Secret” is, and said some things I thought were interesting.

First, she speaks of it as if it is a proven system that cannot be debated. She says, “‘The Secret’ reveals the Law of Attraction, which states that the Universe, the big “yes” machine, responds to your thoughts and feelings and brings into your life that which you focus on.” I found it interesting that she calls it ‘the Law of Attraction’ as if it is a proven law. Here are the four Laws of Thermodynamics (compliments of wikipedia):

0. If two thermodynamic systems are in thermal equilibrium with a third, they are also in thermal equilibrium with each other.

1. In any process, the total energy of the universe remains constant.

2. There is no process that, operating in a cycle, produces no other effect than the subtraction of a positive amount of heat from a reservoir and the production of an equal amount of work. In a simple manner, the Second Law states that energy systems have a tendency to increase their entropy.

3. As temperature approaches absolute zero, the entropy of a system approaches a constant.

Now does the Law of Attraction sound like a tested and confirmed Law like these four? It’s not even close to the Law of Gravity. How can she present it as if it was not even debatable?

She also said that “the Universe doesn’t discriminate between positive or negative.” So I could think of something really negative and it will happen? Is this Law safe in the hands of the public? I can just think of someone like Lex Luther getting ahold of this and using it for evil.

She gives this thinking credit for the conception and birth of her daughter. So is the converse true, that those who can’t conceive are hopeless because they think they are?

Here are her 11 steps towards your family’s bright future. Get out your pens!

1. Set your intention. What do you really want? Write it down. I guess this is the process of recognizing what your true desires are. But what does James 4:2-3 say, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covent and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” Sounds right.

2. Know that the Universe responds to your desires. It may not be immediate, so don’t give up and go negative. Stay strong and clear in your attention. She makes sure that her Law cannot be disproved with the language ‘it may not be immediate.’ And if you fail, its because you didn’t think hard enough. If you pray for money, does a check come in the mail signed by the Universe? How does one know that the Universe is granting these things? What is the authority of the Universe and where did it receive this power? What is its origin?

3. When you wake up in the morning, take a few minutes to see the day ahead rather than jump out of bed and run headlong into your day. Practice this throughout the day. This is a tool that really helps me. Obviously it is good to be positive. It is better to go through life being positive, but not because the Universe can supply us with something, but because Romans 8:28 is true. “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

4. Create a practice of meditation that you impliement daill even if it’s only 5 minutes in teh morning and 5 minutes before bedtime. Contemplate beautiful writing and music. How about Psalm 118, “1. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. 5 out of my distress I called on teh Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.” Or Psalm 119:48 “I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.” Or Psalm 1:1-2 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

5. Practice daily gratitude for what you have in your life now. When we practice gratitude, our joy, our appreciation expands and we feel great. But who are we thanking? the Universe? Psalm 106:1 “Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!” Do you recall a passage where Paul gives thanks to the Universe for people’s belief or his own salvation?

6. Visualize. Take time to see in your mind’s eye that whcih you’d like in your life and allow yourself to feel as though it is there right now. Throughout the day, recall the feeling of having that which you desire. Col. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Visualize that.

7. Create a vision board using magazine pictures, family phots and phrases on a poster board. Place on this vision board what it is you’d like to experience in your life. Cover all areas- material, physical, emotional, spiritual. Do this as a family activity.Philippians 2:5 “have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” and then continues to remind us of the humble sacrifice made on our part. Hebrews 12:2- “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Put that on your board.

8. Wealth is a state of mind. It is not only material. Put the board where you can see it every day and spend time doing so. Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” verse 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to teh one and despise the other. you cannot serve God and money.”

9. Watch your thoughts. Watch your language. Observe what you say to yourself and your family. Ask yourself these questions: Is this loving? Is this helpful? Do I need to say it now? Become aware of the thoughts you think and the decisions you make. What your thoughts, be aware of your SIN! Not because the Universe may not supply something you want, but because a holy God is watching you.

10. Let your family members be who they are rather than what you’d like them to be. There is a natural tendency to focus on what we don’t like, and then it’s all we see. See differently. Pick the appealing qualities of your family members and focus on them. Then do the same for yourself. of course love unconditionally. Encourage them towards godliness. This is common sense, but also short sighted. We should have a desire where we’d like our children to go and pray that the Lord bring them to that point. but no matter what you love them.

11. Create a sacred circle of people with whom you can share your hopes and dreams. Avoid unpleasant people and discussions that will have you veer off your course. For added support, find a spiritual community that resonates with your heart’s truth. What about God’s truth. ‘Your heart’s truth’? This whole system does not put the Universe as the ultimate authority but man. Man must submit himself to the law of God, not life to the law of his own heart.

I’d spend more time on this, but I’ve already spent too much!

The New Church, McDonald’s Style: The Multi-Site Church

Recently I have begun to hear more and more about what is called a Multi-Site Church. Basically, a Multi-Site Church is a church that broadcasts its service at another location from which it was recorded. From what I understand, they usually are limited to the message, and the local church oversees a time for worship, and prayer.

The movement really started to grow in the late 90’s, as mega churches found themselves getting too big. They found that they didn’t have room for everyone, and the traffic was becoming impossible. The solution was to franchise. They would create smaller versions of the big church and just show the message by video. As of 2005, it is thought that there were over 1,500 satellite churches. And they’re growing.

Pastor Mark Driscoll has proclaimed that you can’t stop this movement. He says,

“One thing I am certain of following my recent travels is that the multiple-site church phenomenon and video services are here to stay. Dead churches will be revitalized more and more by larger churches establishing services in them through the use of video. An entirely new form of church planting seems to be emerging that, along with traditional church planting, will help to add healthy new churches.”

Is Driscoll right in saying that this will help add healthy churches? Does this fall in line with the requirements and guidelines given in God’s Word for the church? Surprisingly, Eddie Gibbs, professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary, comes out as a dissenting voice. Gibbs says, “perpetuates the chronic problem that (the Church) have of undiscipled church members”

One argument that comes to play is the question for local church autonomy. Should the local church be autonomous? Is there an example for that in the early church, or were they clusters scattered in a city. I would argue that the churches were autonomous. This can be seen in the way they practiced church discipline (Matthew 18:17). They had the authority to elect their own leadership (Acts 6:1-6), settle internal difficulties (I Cor 6:1-5), and observe the ordinances (I Cor 11:23). They also exercised a relationship with the other churches around them (Acts 15:1-2).

I believe that it is clear that churches are meant to be autonomous and not be dependent upon another for these decisions. But I think that the bigger danger here is the lack of a possible relationship with the teaching pastor. How is the pastor to care for those flocks if he never knows them. While a pastor should never create a message because he thinks that’s what the people need to hear, he should be able to apply the text to the hearts of his congregation. And how are these hearers supposed to interact with their pastor about the message he preaches? What happens if they desire interaction with their teacher?

But this can also affect the congregation that is in front of the pastor. He can’t gear his message to them, because in the back of his mind he is concerned with the other churches. I know that this is a temptation even for my own pastor. He knows that people listen to his messages online and says that sometimes he feels the temptation to avoid saying certain things that they wouldn’t get because they are there or are not a part of that local body.

This also seems to communicate a “I am of Apollos or I am of Paul” mentality. The people gather at a church to hear that one preacher. I can see this going awry very quickly. The franchising of churches are really only one step above going to church on TV. The only difference is that you’re watching the TV together.

Is this really the best option in light of massive church growth? Can we not train up good pastors? Is there not one or two qualified men among the thousands drawn to these churches? Is it the responsibility of the local church to train these men to come in and take over?

From what I understand, McDonalds used to be a great burger joint. They used to serve great burgers and the fries were always fresh. Over time, they began to grow and grow. There weren’t a lot of changes at first, but as time passed, corners were cut and quality was sacrificed for the sake of convenience. Now they are everywhere and you can get yourself a bland burger whenever you want. I can’t help but think that this is the future for franchised churches.

Bathroom Evangelism

I don’t know if any of you have heard of this. I think i’m somewhat slow of hearing of this, but you HAVE to check this out. I call it Bathroom Evangelism! Go to the site and scroll down and witness on churches attempt at being more evangelistic.

My website is about using discernement and deciding whether what you believe is preference or principle. This is that applied to evanglism. Now, do I abhor this idea on the basis of preference or principle? Is this just unappealing to my individual tastes or contrary to biblical standards and directions for church ministry?

Here are a few quotes I found interesting:

Our men’s room gives members a reason to invite people to church. That is what CFC is all about; reaching those who have become disenchanted with religion but are searching for a relationship with Jesus Christ. When you come, you may want to stay for a cup of freshly brewed latte or espresso of your choice and experience God in a unique atmosphere.

your mission is not to ‘enchant’ people to religion, but to bring them to the feet of Christ. big difference there. the last sentence makes me want to throw up in my mouth. “Expereience God in a unique atmosphere”?!?! How exactly are they expereincing God by drinking coffee and peeing in a themed bathroom? Where does this stop? “hey, lets decorate the lobby like a jungle! Why not turn the sanctuary into the deck of the Starship Enterprise!

The finished product was celebrated with a full-blown ribbon cutting ceremony and the efforts are already paying spiritual dividends. A visitor in attendance was so moved that she returned later in the week with a guest from Tulsa who took photographs and was very excited about a concept so outside the box.

Yeah, it probably had nothing to do with this becoming a large local story and people wanting to see a bathroom rather than hearing the gospel.

The Free Will Song

Well, we’re back in SoCal and I’ve been getting my footing back at the job and preparing to jump back into classes. Later today I hope to make a post if things cooperate. Until then, check out this video.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

1. Those are the best 4 singers they could find at Pensacola?

2. The songs seems to be a total contradiction, almost a joke. It sounds like someone wrote it to mock the idea of free will. I mean, we’re watching it in my office and laughing because it sounds so absurd.

3. Someone better keep John Calvin and Jim Schettler away from each other in Heaven, if both will be there.

A Christian’s Reaction to Nancy Pelosi

I’m sure that most of you who are reading this post are a little shocked over Tuesday’s elections. I think most of us expected the republicans to lose the house, but what happened was far bigger than what I expected. We had to watch Cokie Roberts try to do everything she could to contain her excitement on the evening news last night, and watch the local political reporter, Ms Bebitch (that’s seriously her name), admit she was excited and thrilled. So much for unbiased reporting.

But after I recovered from the illness inducing reporting, I began to think about how this will affect the Christian community. One of the big downsides of making Republican = christian is that when our guys don’t get the office, we feel defeated and confused. One of the worst things that could happen is for Christian’s to walk around discouraged and depressed. Was our faith in our leaders? Psalm 20 says that we are not to place our trust in powers, but in the Lord our God.

the problem with Christian’s becoming so consumed with being politically active and trying to reform the country morally is that when it doesn’t happen (which it never will) they feel failure. The real purpose, to glorify God and proclaim his name, becomes secondary. And often the possibility for our real purpose is sacrificed because politics is so divisive. That’s why I’ll never put a campaign sticker on my car. that’s why i’ll never call myself a republican. I’m a Christian, and that’s how I’ll vote. That’s why I try to make a joke of it with my fake campaign shirt for Steve Bozell “Vote for me or I’ll sue you”. Politics have become so divisive that they create a wall before the Gospel is even presented.

So what should our reaction to this all be? I have often wondered if this big movement to pray for the government will continue when socialists or democrats take over. But last time I checked, I Timothy 2:1-4 applies to whoever is in charge. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Titus 3:1: “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,”

Romans 13:1 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

I Peter 2:13-14 “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”

And I don’t think I need to go into who these people’s rulers were. Abortion may not have been a huge issue then, but burning people alive on stakes was. So this morning I will be thankful for Ms Speaker Pelosi. And i will not be discouraged because my mission is to proclaim Christ and him crucified.