January 15, 2021

Commentary by Jesus

From today’s Saturday Ramblings:

Andy Stanley met with pastors at some pastors conference in Atlanta. He encouraged them to make their church services “appealing and engaging” in order to keep the customers, er, congregations coming back. Ok, this doesn’t surprise me. Disappoints me, yes. But it doesn’t surprise me. Yet here is the line that really makes me question whether he knows the same God I do: “God is a God of systems and predictability and order, and God honors planning,” he said.

Commentary by Jesus: (click on image for full size)

coffee strip


  1. “Appealing and engaging”

    I thought He bid us to come and die. (silly me)

  2. ““God is a God of systems and predictability and order, and God honors planning”

    Job 12: 13-25

    “With God are wisdom and might;
    he has counsel and understanding.
    14 If he tears down, none can rebuild;
    if he shuts a man in, none can open.
    15 If he withholds the waters, they dry up;
    if he sends them out, they overwhelm the land.
    16 With him are strength and sound wisdom;
    the deceived and the deceiver are his.
    17 He leads counselors away stripped,
    and judges he makes fools.
    18 He looses the bonds of kings
    and binds a waistcloth on their hips.
    19 He leads priests away stripped
    and overthrows the mighty.
    20 He deprives of speech those who are trusted
    and takes away the discernment of the elders.
    21 He pours contempt on princes
    and loosens the belt of the strong.
    22 He uncovers the deeps out of darkness
    and brings deep darkness to light.
    23 He makes nations great, and he destroys them;
    he enlarges nations, and leads them away.
    24 He takes away understanding from the chiefs of the people of the earth
    and makes them wander in a trackless waste.
    25 They grope in the dark without light,
    and he makes them stagger like a drunken man.

  3. I LOVE “Coffee with Jesus.” They are the most humorous and insightful cartoons, and I could easily kill an entire afternoon going through back episodes.

  4. The old saying applies, as always: “If you want to make God laugh, tell God your plans.”

    How many detailed long-term plans are gathering dust on shelves in church offices or libraries?

    • The crazy thing is, Andy Stanley actually believes that it is his own strategies that have led to his personal success. It just couldn’t be that God raises up and brings low. No, your abismal failure in ministry is your own damn fault, so get with the program if you really want to honor God!

      • As if “success” in the church is determined by how many people are sitting in the pew.

        Usually, if you are growing by leaps and bounds, it is a sign that it is NOT orthodox, law/gospel Christianity that is going on there.

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Andy Stanley met with pastors at some pastors conference in Atlanta. He encouraged them to make their church services “appealing and engaging” in order to keep the customers, er, congregations coming back. Ok, this doesn’t surprise me.

    Which from reading a lot of IMonk, can either mean “Send in the Clowns” or bring in dance poles and strippers.

  6. Often those who want what they call order and predictability from God actually want to be able to control God by knowing beforehand what to expect from him so that they can pull the strings and make him their errand boy; it’s more appropriate to think of this practice as magic (or Magick). But not one of them, or any one of us, would’ve expected or wanted to find him at Golgotha on Good Friday, nailed to a cross. You can only call such power in weakness predictable and orderly by inverting all merely human categories of predictability and orderliness, which makes God and his work utterly unpredictable and disorderly from a merely human perspective.

    Didn’t he say that his ways are not our ways?

    • I believe the popular term a decade ago was ‘spiritual technology’ – the art and science of mastering the unmasterable.

  7. Chaplain Mike,
    I don’t think this necessarily means that Stanley doesn’t know the same God that you do, but it does at least mean that he doesn’t know him very well, however big his churches grow.

    • Those were Jeff’s comments, Robert. But it does make me wonder how immersed in the Bible this “biblical” church is.

      • Chaplain Mike,
        I know that this is a heterodox view, but there are others out there who, though they don’t know and/or use the name of Jesus Christ, know God in a way more congruent with who Jesus Christ reveals God to be than some professed believers do; I can’t help but believe that Rahner was correct in his understanding that there are anonymous Christians in the world. I guess that makes me an inclusivist.

        • robert – could you recommend more reading on that?

          • mr s,

            You will find the concept seeded throughout the work of Roman Catholic theologian Karl Rahner; Raymond Pannikar’s “The Unknown Christ of Hinduism” is a work focused on precisely this idea. Pannikar was also a Roman Catholic theologian.

        • Robert F, I keep running into mention of Karl Rahner in other readings I do, so after I have finished with books by Robert Barron and Ronald Rolheiser, I will read something by him. I am an inclusivist. I believe that the Holy Spirit “blows where he wills” and anyone who truly seeks God will find him. When they truly “find God” they have found Jesus (or Jesus has found them…however you want to say it.)

  8. Your foil may be thinking of 1 Cor. 14: 26 ff

  9. Clay Knick says

    Well now, we UMs are just getting into this kind of thing. Ah yes, “appealing & engaging.” We’ve been told that to be vital we must be “relevant,” whatever that means (actually it means many different things depending on the persons you ask. I find all of this talk…exhausting.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Nothing gets old faster than over-relevance.

      Check out clips of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In sometime and see how it’s aged. Now THAT was THE Relevant variety show of the 1960s; but then it never claimed to be more than contemporary topical humor. Not like it claimed to be the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.

      • I remember in the dark ages of college, taking an upper level Latin course, Roman Comedians. The slap stick one, Plautus, was still funny. Terence, the political comedian, was not.

  10. Well….they could have drive through and ask, “Do you want fries with that?” 😛

  11. Has anyone read “and the Shofar Blew” by Francine Rivers? I read it years ago and wept. I am re-reading it and it is more telling than ever. The story of a young, ambitious pastor and his desire to build a crowd drawing church. This time I could hardly put it down.

    • Though this sort of thing is not my usual literary fare, I thumbed through it at the library, remembering that Susan May Warren had recommended it. On one hand, I can sympathize with the author’s attempt at an honest portrayal of the culture and foibles of a U.S. evangelical church. On the other hand, she never really transcend’s the expectations of the subculture and genre, to the effect that good and evil have to be clearly identified, and God’s will clearly discernible.

  12. Mr. Stanley is the current go-to for videos at our church. My take was that to be a good christian one must be a successful middle class person who attends church and has strict personal boundaries. The series we just went through was all about making sure you did not get yourself into any potentially ‘un-good’ situations (people, finances, relationships…). A lot of talk about how people were ‘living right’. Just follow these steps and Jesus will help you to ‘live right’ also and bless you (people, finances, relationships…).
    When I asked how this was different than just being a ‘good’ person, the fact that A.S. used some bible verses was trotted out as the christian part. Mostly what I call affirmation theology, I think on Jesus Creed this was part of what was called threshold theology.

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