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?"

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