Friday, March 27, 2015

The "Herald" Society

I keep hearing people use the word "herald". And they apply it to someone who goes to a building every single Sunday and lectures the same people over and over again about things that in many ways they should already know and be learning themselves (and teaching others [Heb 5:12]).

That's not what a herald is, folks. A herald goes forth from the King, bearing the King's message, and he gives it to ALL the King's subjects. He doesn't put out a sign, "Come hear the King's message. Once a week, for 30 minutes. Only inside this building. You know, if you want to," and then wait for the King's rebellious subjects to come to him.

There's a name for someone who lectures to a small subset of the King's subjects over and over again at a set time and place, but it's not a "herald".

I must admit that it is hard to see friends and acquaintances post and repost notifications about "Herald" Society get-togethers as if these were beneficial to the kingdom of God. I truly believe that there is a lot more bad than good about such things. Most of the reason why I think this centers around the hypocrisy that is more than evident in so many of the dealings of these men.

Take the "H"S meeting currently underway in Milton, FL as an example. As part of the buildup leading to this event, Tony Miano among others have put out some material encouraging people to attend. As this remains a topic of interest to me, I have followed some of that material, partly to see whether the "H"S has learned from previous errors which I have personally documented. To be more specific, the errors center around such things as
  • forming a parachurch ministry, all the while decrying parachurch ministries.
  • using the word "Herald" in the title of the society, all the while intentionally not doing the things that heralds do.
  • using the word "Herald" in the title of the society and saying stuff like "No king but Christ", all the while putting obstacles in the way of those who desire to obey the Great Commission (like women for example) and doing all they can to force potential actual heralds to get permission from someone who acts like a king in demanding that people submit to his own rule before the herald obeys the actual King.
  • teaching the sufficiency of Scripture, all the while imposing extrabiblical traditions on others, such as "the call to preach", requiring that men "be called" before they are permitted to engage in open-air preaching (OAP). 
  • trumpeting the importance of the local church, all the while actually negating its importance (see more on that below).
  • calling people to waste time and money that could have been put to use in their own localities, and in exchange giving them something (a series of lectures) that could easily have been communicated by an iTunes podcast.
  • teaching Calvinist (and frequently cessationist) doctrine, all the while pushing a view of sanctification that I can only describe as charismatic Wesleyan, in that the "call to preach" maps quite well onto the "second blessing" that in other circles might be thought of as the "baptism of the Holy Spirit".

All of this is hypocrisy, but let's focus on that last item for a moment. The funny thing about it is that in charismatic theology, this "second blessing", this "baptism in the Holy Spirit", is usually pretty objectively verifiable - does the allegedly secondly-blessed person speak in tongues? If yes, they figure that the person has been baptised in the Holy Spirit.
And even leaving aside the fact that such a thing as the "call to preach" is not Scriptural, like at all, how do you figure out whether someone has received that particular second blessing? I keep asking the question. The most common answer would seem to be something like "the elders of your church tell you".

Which leads me to a video hyping the "H"S that Tony Miano put out, in which he reiterates some of the things he and Jeff Rose discussed in a recent podcast and in which he expresses more of this typical "H"S hypocrisy. Note that:
  • attendees will listen to lectures for 20 hours, in 3 days. That's almost 7 hours of lecture per day, all in the name of "equipping". (As if anyone can remember a significant % of that amount of lecturing.)
  • we should not expect a "caste system". And yet:
    --speakers speak from an elevated stage, from a thing called a "pulpit".
    --the centerpiece of the event is listening to these exalted figures.
    --the main attraction is the names they were able to attract to speak - James White, Earl Blackburn, etc.
    --there will be those who are "called to OAP" and those who aren't.
    --anyone can listen to lectures but only the "called" few get to put it into practice in the primary way that Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles did.
  • Miano says that "speakers will speak of their love for the church, love for the bride of Christ, and love for reaching the lost with the Gospel". And I guess they'll demonstrate that by not modeling how the bride of Christ ought to be living, by implying very strongly that the mission of the church is to sit down, shaddup, and listen to Great Men talk, and by not even trying to reach the lost with the Gospel, because...
  • there won't be any organised outreach to the lost during the entire duration of the "H"S meeting.
    Miano says, "don't expect a pep rally for OAP. Don't expect a lot of time on the streets. We want to focus on teaching, prayer, worship, the edification of pastors and their churches, and encouraging the bride of Christ to lift up the Gospel."
    So they're going to do that by not spending time on the streets, and by not proclaiming the Gospel, and by staying behind the walls of a church building, in a different city, just like most everyone does when they're at their own church. By not heralding.
    And then when, at the 6-minute mark of the video, Miano exhorts his listeners that "it is time for Christians to get out of the Christian bubble", the irony is intolerable.
  • the excuse given for not modeling or training in OAP is because "that's the responsibility of the local church."
    --But teaching theology isn't?
    --People can't sit in pews at their own churches?
    --Wouldn't it be better to spend the time that attendees spent traveling and pew-sitting at the "H"S in deepening relationships at the attendees' own local churches?
    Wouldn't it also be better to put the traveling and lodging money the attendees used for the "H"S event to use at their own local church? Isn't the "H"S actually working opposite to its stated desires?
    --It's not the responsibility of each local church to teach about the Bible and talk about love for the church, bride of Christ, and reaching the lost with the Gospel?
    --It never occurs to the "H"S organisers that most pastors wouldn't have any idea how to train anyone in evangelism, let alone OAP?
    --Or that saying "only called people should OAP" gives a convenient out to anyone who has ulterior motives in not challenging fear or incurring the anger, slander, and scorn of worldly people?
All these things considered, it is entirely unclear why anyone thinks that putting together a "H"S event is a good idea. It is even less clear why anyone would want to attend, apart from the proffered opportunity to, I'm sorry to say it like this but I believe it is largely true, listen to heroes, Great Men, talk from an elevated position so they can consume more information. Because many think to at least some extent that their closeness to God is necessarily directly proportional to how much theology they know.


It seems like a far better name for the Herald Society would be the Pew-Sitter Society. They model during their meetings what they actually want Christians to be when they go back to their own communities and churches - pew-sitters until someone in a more elevated ecclesiastical position gives them permission to go love their neighbor and obey the King.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Millstones

A fellow abolitionist is struggling a bit with the implications of following Jesus and preferring His kingdom over the kingdoms of men, and what it might look like if "elders" in their church should come out in opposition to activities that glorify Jesus in this dark society. Part of the controversy centers around the extrabiblical idea, based solely in traditions of men and therefore falling under the category of millstones tied around necks (Luke 17:2), or heavy burdens tied on shoulders (Matthew 23:4), traditions that make void the Word of God (Mark 7:1-13), that a local church must "send out" or "authorise" the Christian to go obey Jesus.

One excuse they give is expressed this way:
They don't like the idea of a guy who's a lone ranger type out yelling heresy on a street corner.

I have a few reactions to the sentiment they are expressing:

1) Being "sent" or part of a local church doesn't fix that problem. It might help, maybe. Just depends on a case by case basis. But you know what else might help maybe on a case by case basis? One on one taking the corner screamer to the Word of God. If his heart is humble and pliable before God, he'll submit to what the Scripture says. If it's not, the whole church and all the elders in the world won't change his mind and conduct.

2) Would that there were more people willing to stand on a corner and preach, not fewer. Many "elders" want a kabal in which they are some of the few members who get to "preach" (when in fact preaching, biblically speaking, is not what they do. Rather, it's what WE do when we are out in the culture.)


3) I don't see a whole lot of "elders" putting hard and serious thought into what they did and/or are doing to make their church an uncomfortable haven for someone who at the moment is a lone ranger. It may be that this lone ranger preacher holds to heresy and/or is in personal sin. Or it may be that he can't find a church that is being faithful to the Word of God.
It's easy for an "elder" to blame the evangelist guy. It's easy to hate on such a man anyway. He's a radical. He upsets people. He causes bad press to come to the conservative churches of his area.

4) If they're so concerned about that situation, the answer is not to stop people from going out. One possible good answer is to go out with them and help them, guide them. Mr. Elder, if your experience and biblical knowledge and wisdom are so vast, put them to use in something worthwhile (for a change) and help hone and sharpen this person whose zeal will help hone and sharpen you in a way that you need to be honed and sharpened.

Friday, March 20, 2015

One more praise from men won't hurt

Sometimes I think that once you pass a certain threshold in church membership, the temptation to think you don't need to be Christian anymore must be nearly unbearable, for it infects pretty much every big-church pastor type person. Which is why the hiss of the serpent is so unmistakable in church-growth strategies of which so many in the Southern Baptist Convention are so fond, like this one, which is basically inviting people toward less faithfulness in the guise of fulfilling "the mission of the church". The unspoken assumption is that the mission of the Invisible Universal Church is to make individual visible local churches bigger, rather than to make those individual VLCs more numerous, more faithful, and more bold in engaging the culture with salt and light.

Sigh. It's actually pretty disgusting when you think about it. "Here, let me give you eight extra-biblical ideas that will help you, Mr. Pastor Man, to get to a place where the vast majority of people in that position end up in self-glorification and a refusal to follow Jesus with any discernible fidelity and sacrifice."

Look around you - the evidence is everywhere. Today, I was stricken particularly by a photo tweeted by someone I don't know about a pastor I wish I didn't know about.


I had to take a moment to consider the sheer hubris and entirely unbiblical attitude that Johnny Hunt would have to have and foster for this highway to be a thing. How one gets to a place where he is willing to accept some place named after himself because he decided he wanted to disobey Jesus for a living

Matthew 23:5-12 -
"But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted."


and teach others to do the same

Matthew 18:6 - 
"whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."

is beyond me.

Luke 14:7-11 - 
And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, "When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

This is bald-faced fawning - the man tweeting "feels anointed" (whatever that means; I'm sure it's something Bibley, since "feeling" and "anointed" are both words that appear in the Bible) (aren't Southern Baptists supposed to think that Scripture is a sufficient guide for faith?) for the mere reason that he passed a sign with the name of The Great Man, Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention. That might be all it takes before suddenly The Anointing falls.

Let's backtrack. Doesn't the Bible say stuff about how mere humans, creations of Almighty God who were helpless without His intervention and generosity, are supposed to be humble?

Prov 15:33 and 18:12, 2 Cor 4:5, Phil 2:3-4, James 4:6-8, and 1 Peter 5:5 all say so, while other passages like Acts 10:25-26, 14:14-17, and 20:18-21 give us some really good examples of what that would look like.

Check out Acts 10:25 - 
When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am just a man."

So... in February 2012, the government of Georgia officially named that stretch of road after Hunt. "He’s been a real leader in the community for over 25 years now. He’s a real difference maker in the community," is what they said about him. The Guttmacher Institute says the following:
In Georgia, 197,300 of the 2,077,660 women of reproductive age became pregnant in 2011. 67% of these pregnancies resulted in live births and 18% in induced abortions.

Approximately 35,000 abortions in Georgia in 2011. That's nearly 100 per day in the state. It's 14 miles from the building that houses the "church" known as FBC Woodstock to a Planned Parenthood. What effect did Hunt's 20+ thousand-member church have on its operation? Does Planned Parenthood fear First Baptist Woodstock?

Of course they don't. That's just one example of what Hunt and his church won't do for the kingdom of God, but which they should be. Instead, they're apparently fine with naming highways after themselves and concerning themselves with the upkeep of their huge complex. Besides, making war against powers and principalities of the darkness can be bad for business. It can reduce your tithes and offerings, and it usually leads to the false converts in your church leaving and even turning against you, which means your attendance decreases, which means you don't get feted by the Southern Baptist Convention at every turn.

What has Hunt done to merit this obsequious fawning? Here's a better question - Does a godly, Christian attitude accept it? Does a holy character allow others to make much of them to such an embarrassing degree without taking them aside and insisting they stand up, for they too are merely a man, rather than cultivating or at least passively standing there while lesser men worship their hero, The Great Man, The Pastor, The Teaching Elder?

Here's what Hunt did:


He apparently is attempting a make a joke after having seen this outpouring of hero veneration. Hunt is so far down the road, has bought into his own hype so much, that he can't see what just happened. This man has just put him way up there on a pedestal. Hunt apparently doesn't stop to think
1) how far down it is from such a pedestal
2) how many others have fallen therefrom
3) because it's sinful to be up there

4) and so Jesus can get upset and discipline you (if you're His child) or throw you down (if you're a vessel of wrath and unrepentant) because He resists the proud
5) and also the man whose fawning exaltation Hunt accepts today will be that much more embittered and disappointed if that should happen, his having fallen from a lofty height.

Pride is dangerous and sometimes hard to see. A spiritually mature man, especially one in a highly visible position like Hunt (if it is indeed possible simultaneously to be spiritually mature and to let people call you "teacher", when Jesus explicitly told you not to, which is, come to think of it, highly doubtful) would be careful to go out of his way to turn back pride at every turn, rather than revel in his loftiness and how even those good old church boys in the Georgia Senate recognise his grandeur and brightness.



It gets even worse when I read about that very highway and then read more about the Georgia Baptist Convention from good brother Seth Dunn. It's no stretch to get from one sin to more sin, as we see Hunt move from self-exaltation toward accepting more exaltation from others toward becoming insecure about diminishing his glory in any way which leads to abusing those who want to speak truth to power.

At some point, what more can one say except to sigh, "Lord, how long?"

Thursday, March 19, 2015

"Local church abandoners"

I get pretty disgusted when I hear people say stuff like "nomad" or "local church abandoners", implying that those people's lack of church membership is THE REASON they behave/speak badly.
It's not helpful for a number of reasons.
-There are tons of people who ARE church members who behave/speak badly.
-There are tons of pastors who behave/speak badly.
-There are even more plentiful church members and pastors who don't do ANYthing.
-It may be that the people who lack church membership were mistreated by a church and haven't found another.
-Or it may be that those people haven't found a decent church anywhere, ever.
-Or it may be that those people wanted to practice vital Christianity and tried as a result to get others in their church to practice it with them, which threatened the leadership and ended with their being pushed out the door.
-But that allows "church people" to wave their hands and dismiss anything the church-less person might say. "Well, he's just a nomad." "Wait, you don't have a pastor? Go get one, then come back and talk to me". This is the genetic fallacy in practice.
-Thus "local church membership" becomes a shibboleth. (And "under the authority of a local church" even more so.)
-To say nothing of people like several with whom I've interacted on this very blog, who behave/speak like Pharisees AND are "under the authority of a local church/pastor", which gives them covering in the eyes of many to behave/speak like a Pharisee even though their elders are actually not necessarily OK with their behavior or speech all that much but don't concern themselves enough with their actual spiritual life to intervene. And I bet churches like that are pretty numerous. I myself have been part of several.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

It's because most of them would seem to be heretics

As much as I love my church and am enjoying a newfound vision into the unbiblical nature of much of the structure of institutional churches and digging into what is the larger community of organic-church-type people in social media, I am discovering a disturbing trend therein.

The amount of people in organic or "organic" churches that actually follow Jesus seems to be approximately equivalent to the amount of people in institutional churches that actually follow Jesus. That is to say, not very many.

My assessment of the situation so far is that people who leave institutional churches (ICs) do so most of the time for bad reasons. There are many good reasons to leave the IC structure behind, but I have not yet met many who have left it for biblical reasons. Most that I've so far seen leave because they got mad at someone in the IC, their pastor lorded it over them and they just wanted out because they're Americans and free spirits, they felt like their pastor lorded it over them and they just wanted out because they're Americans and free spirits, they don't want to actually meet with a group of Christians on a regular basis to do things churches ought to do, and/or (and this is a biggie) they adhere to heretical beliefs and don't love the Scripture.

So, basically, a lot of the time talking to "organic church" people is like talking to Emergents/postmoderns/liberals who merely stopped displacing their bodies to a certain location every Sunday morning. Except for the outward trappings of religion, they'd be right at home in a PCUSA or Episcopal happy-house.

And a popular mantra among such people is "There are many ways to interpret the Bible." I've heard it so much already. That's why I wrote the previous post.

Church ought to be organic because we desire to be more biblical, not because we want to be less biblical.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

"There are many ways to interpret the Bible"

If you care about truth and intellectual honesty at all, you must stop saying things like "There are many ways to interpret the Bible."
The statement is unhelpful in a myriad of ways and nonsensical in others. In no way does it ever further any conversation, ever. It kills conversations.

All human communication must be interpreted by the hearer/reader. So to say that SOME human communication must be interpreted is to say something superfluous, thus wasting everyone's time.

But some interpretations are wrong. As an example, take this very post. If Joe were to come along and say, "I interpret Rhology's meaning in this post to be that he thinks bearded Mormons are the best at preparing alfredo sauce", that would be wrong. Of course my post is quote-unquote "open to interpretation"; that's because it is human communication. But to understand what I'm actually saying, you have to read, perform proper exegesis, take the context into account, understand English, etc.

It is dishonest to take this post and represent its meaning to someone else in the way 'Joe' did, because that is clearly not what the post is communicating. Joe got it wrong. Whether he is dishonest or whether is merely mistaken would have to be assessed, but either way, he got it wrong.

To say that he didn't get it wrong, that meaning is whatever the reader/hearer pours into the communication that is heard/read, is to **destroy all human communication entirely**. And nobody actually lives that way. It is self-defeating and therefore absurd. Even those who wish to affirm "meaning is whatever the reader/hearer pours into the communication that is heard/read" think that the hearer/reader ought to read, perform proper exegesis, take the context into account, understand English, etc when seeking to understand the statement "meaning is whatever the reader/hearer pours into the communication that is heard/read". Thus it fails its own test. It is nonsense.

This is what many of you are doing to the Bible. You must stop. You must take the Bible for what God meant it to be.

You see, when you say "There are many ways to interpret the Bible", what many of you mean by that statement is "There are parts of the Bible that I don't understand or don't want to obey, so I'm going to ignore those parts". If that is you, you should repent, because Jesus held the Bible in highest regard, thought it was God speaking (ask if you want references; there are lots). If you care about following Jesus, you should follow Him in all things, like He said you're supposed to.

If you want to obey Jesus, you have to stop saying  "There are many ways to interpret the Bible". Jesus would never have said anything like that. He commanded people to believe all of it, to take hold of the parts that are promises and to hold to them by faith, and to obey (again, by faith) the parts that are commands and prohibitions.

Jesus is better than post-modern gibberish and textual deconstruction and semantical word-games. Leave them behind. Take up your cross and follow Him.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Loving Scripture Rightly Is Loving Jesus

Jon Zens has written some helpful materials on organic church, particularly his rebuttals to critiques by Ben Witherington and others of Frank Viola's and George Barna's book "Pagan Christianity" (which is a lousy title for a fine book). He calls himself an "itinerant encourager of relational communities", which I can appreciate. And as I spend more time thinking about being the church and what that is supposed to look like, I find myself spending time in, say, Facebook groups of people who have left institutional churches, either to join or start an organic church or to become that which seems best described as "lone-wolf Christians" (in some cases, revealing that they hold to heretical doctrine). As I watch the way many of such people talk and the things they say, it would appear that the reason many of such people have left churches is because they cannot stomach biblical theology or serious study of God's Word. This strikes seriously against how things ought to go.

Adding to the noise is an article by Zens to which I was directed in one of these groups. I am alarmed at the poor grasp of of the relevant issues that it exhibits, so I'd like to bring forth a response here and urge those who are disgruntled with or who have left institutional churches to cling tenaciously to and contend for the faith once delivered for the saints (Jude 3). We should be the church in the way that God has commanded and exemplified in His Word and as a result when our local churches assemble together, we ought to obey Scripture.

However, if you jettison Sola Scriptura, you are left rudderless, relying on nothing more or less than human tradition at every single turn, and you have no way to adjudicate between competing proposed traditions. The result could be a group of people that may or may not describe themselves using the word "church" but that does sort of resemble a gathering of people whose professions are at least sort of Bible-y, but it could also be further down the spectrum toward someone who says "I'm a Christian" and yet affirms child sacrifice and sexual immorality (hey, as long as "the Spirit leads", right?) and disaffirms the Trinity and/or the doctrine of Hell or of the severity of sin. Or you could have the Roman Catholic, Mormon, or Oriental Conciliarist (aka the "Eastern Orthodox") church or the Watchtower or the Branch Davidians or Aum Shinrikyo or Unity Church or Christian Science or Seventh Day Adventism or...

Imagine with me a hypothetical - two men meet each other and begin discussing religious ideas. One believes it is obligatory to affirm that Jesus is God and uncreated. The other believes it is obligatory to DISaffirm those statements. Each of them claims that God spiritually led him to say what he says. Each of them accuses the other of quenching the Spirit (which the New Testament commands people not to do) (as if we're bound to obey Pauline writings or something).

Which of them is right? Is there a way to know which is right? They both claim to be Spirit-led.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The Nature of Preaching and Some Implications Thereof

Below you can find the results of an exhaustive concordance search through the New Testament for words related to preaching and proclaiming, to find their referents. I found that the Greek words kerusso (κηρύσσω) and euagelizzo (εὐαγγελίζω) were by far the most common words that communicate the idea of preaching or proclamation.

Normally in a modern American institutional church context, we think of "preaching" as that which the pastor does from the pulpit during the Sunday morning gathering, which forms the backbone of the teaching and theological education and confession of believers in the church. We can see in the NT, however, that there is no unequivocal reference to “preaching” in connection to what is done during the assembly of the church, while there are tons of references to preaching being an activity by which Christians reach out to unbelievers. (It would seem that “teaching”, didasko [διδάσκω] and the like, would be more along the lines of what the NT authors thought ought to be done by believers with other believers, but that’s another analysis.)

Monday, November 24, 2014

So many atheists are ruled by emotion

It's amazing how easy it is to reduce atheists to a miserable mass of quivering feeling, devoid of reason or common sense.

All I did was tweet this:


And got a firestorm!
My favorite tweet in the ruckus was this one:
And then it got even better:



I had to bow out after somewhere around 50 attempts on my part to get these atheists to reason consistently. Canard after canard after canard... I don't think a single one of them had ever even thought about my challenge before. I didn't have time to keep up with all of the shambling inanity, so this combox is an open invitation to anyone who would question me on the matter.

Monday, November 17, 2014

In which my tweet about the Herald Society is vindicated

On my "to listen to occasionally" list of podcasts is Tony Miano's "Cross Encounters". I can't remember which episode it was, but some time before the November 2014 Herald Society conference, he spent some time hyping the conference and encouraging listeners to attend. My interest was piqued when he specifically stated that this year's HS conference would not feature very much street evangelism or open air preaching (OAP), but would rather focus on sermons wherein the conference attendees would sit and listen to someone talk from the stage.

This struck me as a bizarre waste of time and energy - could not sermons like these be recorded beforehand, or preached at one's own church or something in some sort of collaborative effort, and later made available for download to whoever wanted them? The whole point of calling your conference the Herald Society would seem to be to get heralds together. You get however many dozens of people interested in OAP, doesn't it make a ton of sense to actually go out and herald the Gospel all over the place?

If an OAPreacher is a candle illuminating darkness within our culture, what happens when you get 50 of those candles together in one place? That much more brightness and illumination, right? So when we read things like Matthew 5...

14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

...wouldn't it be a good idea to go ahead and shine that bright light to those who are in darkness? How is it a good idea to take that light, all those OAPreachers, and hide them behind the walls of a building, using all their time to preach around 20 (probably pretty lengthy) sermons in 2 1/2 days?

CR, are you around?

CR, if you see this, please email me.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Refreshing

It's not often that the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1), is so obviously displayed as it was here recently.
Thankfully, abolitionists' attendance of Bellevue Baptist Church on Sunday caused something of a stir, which is one of the things we were hoping for. That the hearts of Pharisees revealed themselves afterward is a bonus.
Consider:




Even through the cold, cruel screen through which you view these words, you can feel the flow of love and warmth, the Christian charity.

Forget all the times we have repeatedly rejected the word "protest" with respect to the Church Repent project. Forget the fact that all we did was attend the service quietly and then afterwards offer pamphlets to people, then when security stepped in and, in a break from their normal pattern, pushed everyone out of the auditorium and called the cops to make us leave even though a simple request would have sufficed, we merely sang "Amazing Grace" and then left. Forget that if we had been there to protest, there would have been zero doubt that we were there to protest! Forget the fact that abolitionists specifically and explicitly reject violence, whereas John Brown didn't. And forget the fact that OR wasn't violent either, and yet Butler's and Miano's pastor looked the other way while a member of his church sent sheriff's deputies to beat the tar out of and break bones of OR volunteers.

Fred Butler did us all the favor of stripping the niceties from this debate. Tony Miano and his acolytes love to talk about "unity in the Gospel", and Butler and others will say the same when they don't dislike you enough. They'll even reach across denominational lines and make sure everyone knows that Presbyterians, Lutherans, Arminians, and such are their brothers in Christ, because we all hold to the same Gospel. But poke at one of their sacred cows - the institutional church structure - and suddenly the false veneer vanishes.

Apparently to them, location matters. You can criticise Bellevue Baptist pastor Steve Gaines all you want for his arch-anti-Calvinism and his crazy support for altar calls and sinner's prayers, as long as you do it from afar. Dare to defile the sacred ground of the church building and suggest that maybe there are false converts inside its walls and that maybe something ought to be done about that, and these Gatekeepers of Evangelical Purity will make sure your backside is smarting.

The Gospel we preach is not fundamentally different. Miano professes faith in the Gospel, and I believe the Gospel. I think there's more unity in the Gospel than these men do. Butler thinks there was no unity to begin with.

But many Pharisees can profess the Gospel quite well. That's part of their charm. It's by their fruits you will know them. Though it may hurt a bit to see people we may admire reveal the sin in their hearts, let it be a helpful reminder that we are not to put our trust in men.