Friday, June 24, 2016

The Day Steve Gaines Prayed For Me

*Editorial Note: Pulpit & Pen continues in unrepentant sin and enabling of the ongoing sin of Jordan Hall. While it is my understanding that P&P does not plan to take down the content I contributed, any role I can play in reducing their traffic until they repent, I will. Thus I migrate this article here.

In late October 2014, over 150 abolitionists gathered at the invitation of a local Baptist church in Memphis, TN to preach the Gospel, call the city to repent of child sacrifice, and build the kingdom of God. I was privileged to be among them. We reached out to the whole University of Memphis. We called the culture to repent of hypocrisy at the Martin Luther King Jr Civil Rights Museum and Monument. We marched in solidarity with our preborn brothers and sisters from there down Beale Street. I’ve forgotten by now more things than I remember we did.

I don’t know how many Gospel tracts we distributed that week. I don’t know how many people we talked to, how many times we engaged in open-air preaching. There is no telling how many babies were saved during the hours we were at the death pit, how many young souls were pricked unto repentance when we engaged students at area high schools. No telling whether the young woman whose boyfriend I rebuked and whom my friend Tim exhorted did indeed do the right thing and repent of their fornication. Whether the young Methodist college student I talked to has been living a sold-out life for the glory of God since that day. Whether the atheist whose worldview I shattered into absurdity ever examined the matter further.

That’s how it is when you spread the seed of the Word of God far and wide – most of the time you don’t get to see it sprout, grow, or bear fruit.

What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
–1 Corinthians 3:5-9

We were 150 or so. Most of us sacrificed, traveling significant distances to gather in Memphis as the body of Christ to bless the city with the Gospel of Jesus. Brother John who lives in Memphis contacted Bellevue Baptist Church (with plenty of notice ahead of time, mind you) to ask them for help in engaging the city in these outreach activities while we were there and for help in sidewalk counseling outside the Memphis abortuaries going forward.

I saw a lot of things that week, some I’d never seen before. Here’s what I did not see – one single member of Bellevue Baptist Church standing with us or even doing anything similar at any of the many well-populated public places where we ministered. That’s the same thing that the brethren who live in Memphis don’t see – Bellevue Baptist involved in any tangible way in the abolition of child sacrifice, bringing the Word of God into conflict with this tremendously huge evil.
SteveGainesOn Sunday morning, November 2, 2014, we put on identical T-shirts and attended one of the morning services of Bellevue. Most of us stood when everyone else stood and sat when everyone else sat (though I sat and mourned the whole time). We were regaled with skillful rock music posing as “worship”. We were exhorted to give sacrificially so that the church building could renovate one of the entrance foyers, the posh one through which I had entered that morning. We listened as Steve Gaines told us that Tennessee Amendment 1 would be a good thing because it would “open the door for informed consent for women and girls considering abortion, inspection or regulation of abortion facilities, and hospitalization requirement for later term abortions” (source).
That is to say, altars to Molech have to be close to a hospital and have wide-enough hallways and be clean. Murderous hitmen have to have a certain diploma before they are allowed to murder children. Murderous mothers have to wait a few days before they rip apart their own flesh and blood. And the pro-life movement cheers and their heroes bolster their prestige.

After the “service”, we met members and engaged in great dialogue. We handed out the booklet, “Does God Hate Our Worship?” We exhorted them to read and consider our message and their responsibility seriously. We were generally told that the church was too occupied polishing the brass of their south foyer and didn’t have enough resources at that time to get involved in “politics”. Several individual members were interested in what we were saying. Then the police came and threatened to arrest us if we didn’t leave. And they did arrest one of our number for no reason.
Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?
–1 Corinthians 6:1-2

On the way out we sang praise to our God who sits on the throne.

Before the police arrived, however, a few brothers of mine and I approached Steve Gaines, who was flanked by no fewer than three members of his professional security personnel. Which is, you know, exactly how the Bible says the shepherd of a flock of God is supposed to act. We pled with him to engage his people to challenge the kingdom of darkness in his city with the Gospel. We asked him to lead his people to where the lost people are, where the babies are being taken to the slaughter, to worship God by practicing true religion of caring for the fatherless and establishing justice and righteousness (James 1:27, Amos 5:21-24, Isaiah 1:10-17). In essence we were pointing out that Bellevue was a big multi-million dollar complex that was already doing its own thing. That so far they hadn’t made time for all that “love your neighbor” business, that they’d been about the work of building Their Church.

Gaines said with his mouth, “I agree with all that you are saying and I pray that God blesses your work and your ministry.” Then he put his hand on my shoulder and prayed to the same effect. I had no idea at the time how effective a tactic this was at shutting down all conversation while simultaneously establishing patronizing dominance over the earnest interlocutor (me). It worked. He said “Amen” and turned away, already on to the next task of administering the job of CEO of Bellevue Baptist, LLC.

After we came and went, nothing has changed. Bellevue remains a polished tomb. Gaines has made even more of a name for himself. And God’s wrath grows against American churchianity.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Steve Gaines Tampers With God’s Word – Practices Cunning, Disgraceful, Underhanded Ways

*Editorial Note: Pulpit & Pen continues in unrepentant sin and enabling of the ongoing sin of Jordan Hall. While it is my understanding that P&P does not plan to take down the content I contributed, any role I can play in reducing their traffic until they repent, I will. Thus I migrate this article here.

For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
–2 Corinthians 2:17

We have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
–2 Corinthians 4:2

For at least two decades or so, evangelical churches that want to aim for “relevance” and that elusive hip factor to attract goats and infant lambs to their nice comfortable buildings (or “pretty much all evangelical churches” for short) in order to expose them to 30 minutes of feel-good motivational lectures and an opportunity to drop some Harriet Tubmans in the plate have done so by making the other 50 minutes of the “experience” or “service” all about pandering to that which they think might be enjoyable to lost people. And one of the most obvious ways to do that is to gin up the concert factor – get some skilled musicians and have them spend hours per week practicing (instead of sharing the Gospel or loving their neighbor) so you have a strong selling point for the next invitee or recipient of a cool stylised invitation postcard in the mail.

As noted many times by many observers of this evangelical trend, their music and catchiness are usually at best 3-5 years behind the times, sometimes more. Thus you have Coldplay music before the service begins, for example. More recently, though, we are seeing these same kinds of religious corporations dip into the treasures to be found in the deeper history of worldly music for inspiration and drawing power. It’s vintage, you know. Perry Noble and AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. Jonathan Brozozog’s Passion Church and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. That’s going back a few decades, to be sure, but new SBC President Steve Gaines and the Christ-honoring faithful sheep under his godly authority are really upping the ante by back-dating their own utter wastes of time even farther.

That’s right – you can keep your mediocre Michael Jackson and knock-off AC/DC. The Bellevue Baptist choir will see your eighties music and raise you the King of Rock n’ Roll, complete with two not-very-talented Elvis impersonators. You know, because Memphis. And just to rub it in, these fifty or more church members in good standing took a short-term mission trip to New York City to pull it off. Meanwhile, IMB is pulling missionaries off the foreign field because of lack of funding, and this author never got close to funding his own foreign-language street evangelism ministry.

Remember that Steve Gaines is the designated successor to Adrian Rogers, that stalwart of the SBC’s Conservative Resurgence who went on to show that at least a huge part of his motivations were to carve out his own kingdom in his own image. Rogers built a huge SBC megachurch. Rogers irrationally lashed out against monergism without knowledge. He built a church culture that thinks it’s cool to hang out in a huge shiny building with plantation-style pillars out front in the middle of a city where 50 babies are murdered per week and do nothing about it. And then that same culture thought it would be a good idea to call up Steve Gaines from the minor leagues to “pastor” their church… and when he demanded a parsonage with a swimming pool as a condition of employment, they acceded instead of rebuking him and finding a godly man to be pastor. SBC power brokering has a lineage, has chosen successors and favored sons. That’s just one more sign they’re not interested in your input, unless it’s the monetary kind.

The gauntlet has been thrown down. The best Ronnie Armani could do was emulate Marty McFly and perform the Floydian Dip on camera again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. You poor evangelical pastor saps who want to attract big giver goats so that they can be guilted into funding Steve Gaines’
vakay“time of refreshing” and his spacious parsonage with a nice cool swimming pool…unless you can top covering Elvis on FoxNews, I’m afraid you’re always gonna be second best.

Friday, June 17, 2016

With Whom Have I Really Unity?

A **LOT** more important than mastering all the details and expressions of doctrinal minutiæ is obedience to the obvious commands of Scripture that are mostly neglected in modern American Reformedigelicalism - establishing righteousness, crying out against injustice, calling people to obedience, repentance, and faith in the Lord Jesus.

I hear "that's not my calling" ALL THE TIME, but what people mean is that they prefer to debate deep philosophical ideas from their couch on social media rather than actually put themselves at risk of reproach and injury from lost people by going to where the lost people are to call them out of darkness to light. So in essence they blame God for "calling" them to doing easy things rather than doing hard things for His kingdom. It's God's fault. Don't blame the individuals for simply disobeying!

For that reason I have a lot more in common with someone who professes Arminian soteriology AND OBEYS GOD than I have with a Calvinist who makes excuses and spends all his time reading books and attending conferences to hear yet more theology lectures as long as he can go to Chili's afterward to discuss theology even more.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Jordan Hall - Thoughts on Southern Baptists Building a Mosque

In the 30 May 2016 edition of the Polemics Report, JD Hall discusses some very interesting topics, including reading out an open letter circulated by Chinese Christians about the so-called Heavenly Man, "Brother Yun" and discussing the birth control pill.

It is uncanny how apparently Southern Baptists are now the go-to folks if you want to build an altar to sacrifice children to Molech or a house of worship of a false god.