January 16, 2021

iMonk 101: From January, ’08: “This is the End….”

jim-morrison_small.pngPosted this a little more than a year ago. Relevant to the recent discussions of the future of evangelicalism.

***Music by The Doors: “The End.”***

There was an elf that met the children at the door. Also in this room was a store that had Barbies, action figures, Brats Dolls, and all of the most popular items that you would find in a Toy-R-Us catalog the day after Thanksgiving. In order for kids to get the merchandise, they had to say a memory verse and earn store credits. The first thing my kids said to me when I went to pick them up was ”Daddy, can we start going to this church?” Can you blame them? For kids, this was a dream church.

If you listened to the interview I just did on Steve Brown, Etc., you may recall a moment when Steve and Eric asked me what was wrong with evangelicalism, and I said it was over. Steve gave a more hopeful view and I admitted that there were some hopeful signs out there, well off the media radar and among ordinary people.

Well Steve, it was a moment of weakness. You were being nice and I fell under your influence. But then I read C. Michael Patton’s post “The Entertainment Driven Church,” and I realized I was right: Evangelicalism is over. Long live post-evangelicalism. (Whatever we are/it is.)

The is “the end” of evangelicalism, and it’s not dying with a whimper. Oh no. It’s going out with party hats and noise-makers. And Bratz dolls. And Barbie. And video games. And an elf. And the Word-faith message. And Starbucks.

The end of evangelicalism isn’t the deep vacuum of space. It’s the Borg ship. With pizza, a band and great commercials.

Is this Christianity? If you realize you answer no longer has any basis in reality, consider just being honest: No, it’s not.

Are the living dead in a George Romero movie “people?”

Given the choice between any gnostic cult, Buddhism, atheism or what this church is doing, which do you pick as closer to Christianity? Pray about it and get back to me on that one. You wouldn’t like my answer.

You see, it’s actually much worse than even Michael admits. Patton’s kids have already been infected with the virus. They’re all going to start blinking like Osteen. The pastor of this carnival? He’s already got his sermons in book form, with a picture of him looking very indy-spiritual-sexy on the inside cover. And he’s on the program of ten “pastor’s” conferences somewhere, so he can tell what “God” is doing at their “church.” How many people believe he’s the voice of God? How many want to be him?

Make no mistake about it. This operation isn’t connected to the rest of Christian history or teaching the doctrines of the faith because they LOATH THEM. They’re boring. They’re old. They want nothing to do with them. Aside from borrowing the five letters “Jesus” as the brand image for their message of “here’s how to get what you want in life,” and using Biblical texts to make bizarre points about your own power to create that wonderful salvation called “success in life,” there’s far more connection to Starbucks than to the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church.

It might even be better if the kids stayed with the elf, because here’s Michael’s summary of the exposition for the day.

Mark 7:33 Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; “Jesus took him aside”=Jesus wants to deal with us each individually
“Jesus spit”=Jesus had to form the saliva in his mouth before He spit, therefore, we are to let Him form our words.
“[He] put His fingers into his ears…He touched his tongue…and his ears were opened and his speech impediment was removed” (v. 35)=sometimes we don’t hear people rightly because we already have the wrong words in our mouth. Therefore, we have to have the right words in our mouth.

Michael finds a couple of nice things to say about the overall outcome of this talk, which proves that living near Tulsa is not a good thing. Run, Michael. Run.

And what is the response of the traditional Anglican church Michael visited? I really wish I knew. Do they understand that in some ways they are increasingly one of a very few outposts that are trying to hold onto the treasure that these megachurches are throwing out labeled “trash?” Do they understand how many people are going to wake up in that game show and say either “Is this it?” or “There is no God. I’m done.”? When they do- as thousands one day will- what then?

I wonder if that Anglican congregation has any idea that someone like Michael- who has been through amazing, terrible things in his life- might just be looking as all of this as more than an observer. He might be looking for where, in the worst of the darkness and the storm, will Jesus be found in community, Word, sacrament and worship?

This isn’t about kickin’ worship bands or big screens. Take them, take them. I don’t care. What I want to know is if we recognize that the disease is overtaking the evangelical body, and the time has come to think like people upon whom an evangelical dark age has come? The barbarians aren’t at the gates. They are running the city. We can’t shut the gates. We have to find places to survive. We can debate how big the hole in the side of the ship is all we want. The fact is: this ship is going down.

Christ’s church will survive and triumph. But in America and the West, the entertainment driven “church” is going to dominate. For those who will not be absorbed, for whom resistance is not futile, there are choices to be made.

Yes Michael, it was entertaining. But be afraid. Be very afraid.

The bus to Rome is leaving now, and it seems that every seat is filled. Oh…what’s that? Seems that a much larger bus to Atheism is pulling into the lot, and there are plenty of seats available.

***Music slowly fades out…..”This is the end…..”***

Comments

  1. Kenny Johnson says

    I understand the criticism and the anger, but at the same time, aren’t we treading close to throwing the baby out with the bathwater? The seeker-friendly model isn’t all bad, it just needs more substance too.

    I became Christian 8 years ago in my early 20s. My first church I called home was named b2x and it was basically an “emerging church” in the sense that it attempted to reach the postmodern mindset. Instead of pews, there were tables with candles. The worship band played a more alt-rock style. The pastor was a story teller. You probably would have hated it.

    But I loved it. And the substance was there too. It was just sometimes hidden. Our Bible study groups were pretty intense. We had very smart guys who really knew theology and the Word. So I got both. A unique and entertaining worship service on Sunday and deep spiritual food on Tuesdays at the small group.

    But even the Sunday night services fed. They were still, pretty seeker friendly though.

    Is that wrong? It can obviously be taken too far. But I feel I’m a relatively mature Christian and I’d much rather have a worship band than a choir. And not all modern worship music is shallow.

    I used to go to another emerging church called Mosaic (Erwin McManus) before I moved from their area. They’re a very seeker friendly church and they have rappers and rock bands play. They have performance art, etc. I think there is a danger that they can lose that needed spiritual substance, but they too promote Bible studies. So why not get people in the door with entertainment? With a comfortable atmosphere?

    I hear what you’re saying, but as much as you think some evangelical churches have thrown out too much tradition, I think you might be throwing out too much modernity.

  2. Spookily enough I’ve just put the finishing touches to an academic essay on emerging church and its relationship with postmodernism. I concluded that in attempting to engage with the postmodern mindset it actually took on the persona to too great a degree. If there’s one characteristic of Christianity that needs to be remembered it’s its counter-cultural stance. In any age and context Christianity needs to speak out against the fads which subsume individuality and promote unthinking following.
    The church imonk is writing about appears to be embracing consumerism rather than taking a stance against it and so it tacitly endorses it.
    Emerging church takes on too much of the values of postmodernism in order to be attractive to those who sign up to it. My biggest criticism of emerging church is that it ceases to allow anything to have ‘authority’. The buzzword is ‘icon’ rather than idol and an icon is something that facilitates your contemplation of God. Unfortunately, the Bible becomes just another icon, albeit a useful one. I’m definitely not saying it should be an idol, but in maintaining the tension between idol and authority for scripture, I think the emerging church movement has pulled too far in an altogether different direction.
    And this is true for so much of what we see in contemporary church. We are so desperate to be inclusive and all-embracing, we forget that Jesus did not expect everyone who heard him to become a follower. Sometimes we forget that exclusivity can be a good thing.

  3. Wow. That sounds like my last hermeneutics paper. Part of the assignment was to listen to a sermon and critique it based on the interpretive principles we learned in class. What we were given was as out of context as Mr. Patton’s example.

    There is a lot that I can tolerate in the evangelical circus if they simply would not screw around with good preaching. Still, someone needs to turn over some tables in that place.

  4. Thanks. I’d asked you recently about parents who said that their children like church because “It’s fun.” This is the result. It’s fun, I’m sure. I wonder if any of the children and how many adults, for instance, know and could pray “The Lord’s Prayer,” much less the Apostles Creed? And I’m just talking the most basic of things.

  5. Another opinion: The organization known as the “church” may be a religious organization, but it is not the same organism that we find in the pages of the New Testament or in the early days after Pentecost. It has not evolved or even devolved from that organism, but is something different.

    Would not the term “syncretism” be apt? Is not syncretism “the amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought”? I also think of the term eclectic, “deriving ideas from a broad and diverse range of sources”.

    The term “church” refers to a religious organization that came into existence well after Pentecost. Now we want to say it is the same thing as what we find in the new Testament. I simply think not.

    Just because certain Christian or Biblical elements may exist in these organizations does not make them the Bride of Christ. This is not to say that certain individuals who are part of these organizations are not part of the Bride. But that does not make that organization the Bride of Christ any more than it makes the local Kiwanis club the Bride of Christ by virtue of several members who are Jesus’ followers.

    Increasing numbers of people, both Jesus’ followers and those who are not, are abandoning this organization. Is not iMonk saying that this trend is continuing and indeed picking up its pace in some quarters?

    Of course there’s hope, if some of us choose to return to Jesus. “Church” isn’t working well for many people in our culture, and we are not alone in that. Perhaps Jesus works better.

  6. Kenny Johnson says

    @JohnO

    I think that’s a somewhat fair criticism, but a couple things to consider:

    1) I think I became a follower of Jesus because of that emerging church and probably would not have been reached by a more traditional church.

    2) Not all emerging churches are the same. Some are still theologically conservative and Biblically strong churches, but simply change the way they try to reach people — not the message.

  7. As an atheist these stories crack me up. My ex-girlfriend (our break up was not about religion) came from a church like this (probably not as showy) and everytime we would discuss religion she would want to watch christian rock videos, while I would want to discuss the history and validity of the bible. It amazed me that she never could back up any of her beliefs with scripture. Literally everything she believed was straight from the mouth of her pastor, or youth pastor.

    I did not expect her to know as much about the bible as I did (I have studied it a good deal), but she literally knew nothing about it. When I would ask her what evidence she had that God wanted her to maintain certain beliefs, she would always respond “I just know it in my heart”

  8. The more I ponder the demise of evangelicalism the more I wonder if a movement with such minimalist identity markers was doomed from its inception.

  9. @ Kenny
    Fair points. I don’t think I’d ever say they should never exist but I do think they need to have a very ‘robust’ theology and a clear idea of what they are doing. I think it’s only through that that they maintain a strong sense of identity as the church of Christ. It’s when you can’t tell them apart from the culture they are in that the problems start. And I think that that’s a particular problem for those who do seek to engage with those who would be turned off by ‘tradition’. But again, I think that’s where a strong sense of identity is crucial.
    It’s good to hear that there are places where this does happen.

  10. The more things change the more they stay the same. The “Church” works well in any culture when it is the church. The problem in the church, in business, in government, in the family, etc… is leadership.
    Tony Evans had a great sermon that he preached during the early days of Promise Keepers. It starts with Christian men at home, in their church, community, nation, world. Christian men…get your act together, lead your families, lead your churches. Quit sitting in the pews letting the women run the church.
    Sam talks about “Jesus followers” who abandon the church. Sorry Sam, real followers of Christ don’t abandon anyone, especially the local church. “Jesus works better”. What does that mean? gobbledygook.

    When the “church” began to abandon the Nicene Creed and accept the Arian heresy Athanasius did not slip out into the desert to hang with St. Antony. He could have. But instead he chose to fight against it. Athanasius against the world.
    Wycliff translated the scriptures into English despite being told by the “church” not to do it. After he died the “church” dug up his bones and burned them and threw the ashes into the river.
    We can fight the Joel Osteens, Joyce Meyers, and Rob Bells that have infected the church with bad behavior and bad doctrine. Don’t give up.

  11. Andy D Your ex-girlfriend had a simple faith, and there is nothing wrong with that. Being an atheist you might not understand the story of Martha and Mary. I doubt Mary knew as much as Jesus apostles or even Martha about the sacrifices and the prophecies of Scripture, but she knew Jesus was Lord, and she worshiped Him. The reason you wanted to discuss the “validity of the Bible” with your girlfriend instead of with her pastor is because you did not really want answers, you just wanted to destroy her faith. If you really wanted answers you would find people who can give you good answers. Christians have answers to all of your questions. If you ask God He will send them to you.

  12. Lance: God did send him someone, and because her church did not disciple her, she had nothing to say. That is the point.

  13. I was never so proud of my daughter as when she wouldn’t go back to the local mega-church youth group she was invited to because they had a cappuccino machine and a talking tree. And basketball courts, etc. etc.

    She’s used to feeding the homeless and meeting out in public because our church can’t afford youth facilities.

    To another point, I have ran into a good number of evangelicals who can talk about what their preacher said about the bible, but haven’t studied it themselves. I’ve been told you’re not supposed to ask questions. I am not sure why this is but as a Methodist we’re supposed to wrestle with scripture.

  14. This is only peripherally related to your post. But, I was pleased as punch to see “The Doors” at the top of your blog. There is a group of Christian women who participate in a blog meme. One of them post a quote on Friday and Tuesday everyone writes an entry about their thought on the quote. Recently, the quote was by Jim Morrison. There was such a backlash about having a quote by a “rock star” that it was changed. I had a whole blog breakdown over the whole thing.

  15. I think the most telling fact about this particular church is that while reading the excerpt from Mr. Patton’s blog, I honestly had no idea he was talking about a church until the last two sentences.

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    The bus to Rome is leaving now, and it seems that every seat is filled. Oh…what’s that? Seems that a much larger bus to Atheism is pulling into the lot, and there are plenty of seats available.

    And don’t forget that camel caravan stopping by on Hadj to Mecca…

  17. I disagree Andrew. If Andy D. asks God to send him someone with answers God is not going to send an ill equipped new convert who does not even know that dating an atheist is a very bad decision for her. That is ridiculous. The body has pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc… who are totally equipped to handle an Andy D.. You are correct that churches need to do a better job of making disciples. But Christians have to want to be dsicipled as well. Not enough FAT Christians. FAITHFUL AVAILABLE TEACHABLE.

  18. Andy D, your story reminds of something that happened to me. I was dating a seminary student at the time, and we were playing Bible Triva,(children’s level) and I was beating him seriously. I even remember that he got a question twice in the game, and missed it both times. First time, I could understand, but not the second. We broke up a short time after that, but not over the game.

    I agree with you completely about “Because I know it in my heart.” I was tickled pink when I found out that Christianity could be defended intellectually. (I can’t do it, because I tend to be more of an intuitive thinker, but others can.)

  19. My question is where do we go from here?

    I grew up in a Methodist congregation, in Ohio, that turned into an entertaining church just to get new people to come. Sure they have new people coming and they are in the plans to build a ‘campus’ but what has happened to where they, as a church, have come from. Now I’m in Massachusetts, married, in college, and a part of an Assemblies of God church plant. The people are great and they have a love for Christ and reaching new people but at what expense. I don’t even know what entails being a part of the Assemblies of God church b/c apparently I need to feed myself to get any answers.

    I am not opposed to studing the Bible. In fact I love getting into the First Testament and learning Hebrew, but I alone cannot be the authority on the interpretation and meaning of the Bible. One thing I have learned from the Jewish community is that if you have an interpretation it needs to be in the authoity of someone who came before you and the further back you go the better.

    “Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua; Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets; and the prophets handed it down to the men of the Great Assembly.” (Pirke Avot)

    We, as Christiand today, have disregarded our past for relevancy.

  20. Lance, I did not seek to convert her as you seek to do to me. We were two adults having conversations. I did attend services with her, and no I did not question her pastor. Not because I was fearful, but because it would serve no end. He would continue to believe and preach, and I would continue to not believe.

    Furthermore when I left the faith, there was nothing I wanted more then to believe, but in my heart I knew God was not there (as you know in your heart that he is). Even today I miss the warmness that Christianity provided.

    You would be wise to understand that there are questions that can not be answered. Atheists come to their conclusions after much thought and have not missed anything. I respect your faith and your beliefs. Atheists do not seek to destroy faith, they are naturally skeptical and religion does not add up to them.

  21. “The term “church” refers to a religious organization that came into existence well after Pentecost. Now we want to say it is the same thing as what we find in the new Testament. I simply think not.”

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say, Sam. It seems like you’re hesitant to call what we find in the New Testament the Church. Are you saying there was no Church founded on the day of Pentecost or described in the pages of the New Testament? I thought that on the day of Pentecost, Peter told the people to repent and be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (which is entrance into the Church). I thought they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers, etc. Also, I thought “the Lord added to THE CHURCH daily those who were being saved.” Of course, the Church described in Acts 2 appears to be quite a bit less organized than the Church described in Acts 15, and further along in Acts 21, and further along in the pastoral epistles. But I’m given no indication that we’re ever talking about a different Church, even if it did gradually look more like an “organization” (not that it wasn’t such a thing from the beginning, with clear leaders in the apostles and clear ministries in the deacons, etc.).

    I thought the Church was “His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all,” “the pillar and ground of the truth.” I thought that Christ established his Church and that the gates of Hades would never stand against it.

  22. Andy D

    Some atheists indeed seek to destroy religious faith. They write books, make moves and otherwise cheer those efforts on with much gusto.

  23. Imonk,

    You probably know as I do, given your background, that this is not just a problem of the emergent or mega’s. The fundie churches are fading fast as well, eat up with the cult of the personality of the preacher and an endless desire to ostracize and seperate from others.

    I’ve said it in these blogpost many times already. But the first time I went to an aglican service (about a year ago now) it was like someone had hit me with a sledgehammer. No golden boy minister, no emotionaly driven convention songs. Just pure sincere worship and veneration of God.

    I felt joy at having discovered it. Anger at having a since of being cheated my whole Christian life, and determined to make changes in my own house of worship.

  24. Ky boy but not now says

    “But the first time I went to an aglican service …”

    Traditional Episcopal, a break away, or a plant from overseas such as the AMiA churches?

    Just curious. Felt the same way at a local AMiA church when we attended recently.

  25. ProdigalSarah says

    Andy, I probably read the entire Bible two or three times by the time I was twelve. But I never felt God’s presence as a child. Then, for 30+ years I was an agnostic. I do not believe there was anything anyone could have said to convert me because I wasn’t listening. I believed the Bible was a collection of myths for weak-minded people seeking easy answers. I didn’t believe I was capable of faith. If there was a God, which I seriously doubted, He should show me some proof if He wanted my attention. And, if there was a God, why did He give me a brain if He didn’t want me to use it? Writing this, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    For much of my adult life I made God invisible by believing I knew better than those weaklings who needed religion.

    Everything changed three years ago. During the past three years I have spent a great deal of time praying, prayerfully studying scripture and reading a great deal of theology. (My sister donated her New Testament Studies books.)

    While my understanding of a verse may be correct, there is probably more to understand than my current understanding. This has been a wonderful revelation. Good questions are often answered with even better questions.

    The reason I am writing is because you wrote, “Atheists come to their conclusions after much thought and have not missed anything.”

    I think that many of us who walk away are walking away from a church that did not seem relevant, or in some cases inflicted emotional damage. Although the decision may come after much thought, I doubt many of us ever knew God’s presence. I do think it is possible for churches to create atheists.

    During all those years I didn’t think I missed anything, but I missed so much. I can never get back the years while we raised a family. I can never hold my own child on my lap and tell him about God’s incredible love. I am writing this because I do have profound regrets.

  26. Andy D,

    Remember too that sometimes women appproach faith differently than men. My wife approaches it from the heart. The heady stuff is her struggle. For me its the opposite and I now spend more time focusing on heart than head (though head is more fun).

    As for your Atheism, life events have a way sometime of bringing you back, and sometimes not. For me marriage, and especially the birth of my children brought me back, but I acknowledge this may not be the same for you.

    Peace…

  27. To say that “atheists come to their conclusions after much thought and have not missed anything” is just absurd. It would be equally absurd to say “Christians have not missed anything.” We all miss a great deal, even after much thought. For anyone to believe he or she has “not missed anything” is simply arrogance.

  28. Christopher Lake says

    Kenny Johnson,

    I’m not about to paint all emerging churches with a negative brush. Mars Hill Church in Seattle is “emerging” in some ways (alt-rock worship style, culturally edgy), but it is also theologically solid and challenging.

    However, as for using entertainment to “get people in the door”… as a much wiser man than I once said, “What you win them *with* is what you win them *to.*” (Now, if only he hadn’t ended that sentence with a preposition!)

  29. Fr. John D'Alton says

    Mate, you are so right. 5 years ago, after 20 years starting various kinds of emerging churches, i came to the same conclusions, and so, I left protestantism, and rejoined the ancient church. Yepp, I’m preaching, because I discovered why so many many other disillusioned evangelicals find real deep spiritual community and God in orthodoxy. There is an answer to the pain! Some said my move would last a year or two. Well after 5 years all i can say is wow. The actual church is awesome.

  30. Mome, I was just saying that people have tried to convert me many times over, often using the same arguments/suggestions. I’ve heard almost all of them and they do not add up to me.

  31. One of my strategies over the years in my war against my own pride and doubt has been to force myself to remember that God can use the most unlikely church to reveal His truth.

    My wife of almost thirty years was the last person you’d expect to find in church–but during Spring Break at Fort Lauderdale her aunt took her to D. James Kennedy’s Presbyterian church. She heard a sermon there that caught her attention… so, a week later, after joining a (co-ed) fraternity, staying up all night getting drunk (and getting a concussion), throwing the members of a rival frat out the window, she staggered into a United Church of Christ congregation the next morning.

    I was a young, self-righteous evangelical who was sitting in the pew that day, listening to the sermon so I could judge it. I would have sworn that there was no Gospel in that message–but this hung-over party girl was drinking it in. She came back the next week, and the one after that, and thirty years later, she’s still seeking first God’s kingdom.

    A God Who can speak by means of Balaam’s donkey or a U.C.C. pastor is a lot bigger than I imagine. This doesn’t mean I’m going to start admitting farm animals to seminary, nor does it take away my concerns about theological liberalism–but let’s not forget that it is GOD who calls people to Himself in every age!

  32. I guess if we are in the information age, then it is less and less easy to excuse those who know nothing about the bible and just say “i know it in my heart.” It is kind of quaint and charming on the one hand, as long as their naivete doesn’t end up hurting them or those around them.

    Then there is the issue of time. Not everyone has the freetime to spend all day on the internet and musing about this stuff. (A lot of people brag about not having a television, yet they spend all day online, which is worse in a lot of ways.)

    Some people work several jobs and have kids to feed and they go to church because it lifts their spirits. They might not know anything about the bible but who am i to begrudge them the uplift that their faith gives them?

  33. Kenny Johnson says

    @Christopher Lake

    A couple things:

    1) I don’t think that winning people at the door is always the intention. At Mosaic, it feels more like — We’re artsy people and we want to worship God in a creative and artistic way. I don’t think that, there it’s novelty or to win new converts. I think it’s sincere. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    2) It works. Mosaic has a large number of non-believers being exposed to the Gospel. What’s wrong with that?

    3) I’m a product of church done differently. My first church did intentionally try to seek the 18-40 year old postmodern culture with being different. It wasn’t necessarily “entertainment” though. It was just non-traditional. Make the church look like a coffee house. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Church is the body of believers not the building or the ambiance.

    I feel like a lot of what I read here is just reactionary. In music and art appreciation I learned that new styles are often a reaction to the previous generation. I feel like this post-evangelicalism is similar.

    Emerging was a reaction to the boomer and mega-churches. And now we see things like the house church movement, post-evangelicalism, neo-traditionalism, etc as sort of a reaction to the emerging (and still boomer) churches.

    I say, just be careful about being extreme.

  34. Kenny Johnson says

    @Fr. John D’Alton

    The actual church? I’m happy you found what’s right for you, but I’m not sure i’d be happy in most liturgical churches.

  35. By Joseph: I was never so proud of my daughter as when she wouldn’t go back to the local mega-church youth group she was invited to because they had a cappuccino machine and a talking tree. And basketball courts, etc. etc.

    She’s used to feeding the homeless and meeting out in public because our church can’t afford youth facilities.

    Joseph, I have the same pride in my 18-year-old son. I live in a small mid-western town which is the home of an evangelical mega-church. Their youth group has a huge, beautiful gymnasium with a gaming area complete with recessed televisions in the walls and a lovely snack bar. They do “fun” things like go on ski trips and to amusement parks.

    My son, who was born again when he was seven, just could not relate. He loves to have a good time and has many friends, but it all seemed so empty and self-serving to him. He got involved with a local Lutheran youth group whose emphasis is on service. They serve meals at homeless shelters, put donated bicycles together for needy kids, do yard work and home repairs for the elderly. The youth leaders there are fantastic, always challenging the young people and raising up real leadership in them.

    Here’s the funny (not ha-ha) thing: the kids at the megachurch make fun of the Lutheran church, saying things like “Lutherans are not born again, so they’re not real Christians” (guess they never read anything by Martin Luther). It baffles my mind.

  36. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    I live in a small mid-western town which is the home of an evangelical mega-church. Their youth group has a huge, beautiful gymnasium with a gaming area complete with recessed televisions in the walls and a lovely snack bar. They do “fun” things like go on ski trips and to amusement parks. — Julia O

    What’s their “youths'” retention rate when they age out of the youth group? I suspect it’s pretty low; once used to such big-budget three-ring entertainment, they’ll just head for more of the same. No meat, not even milk, just I WANT MORE CANDY!

  37. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Some atheists indeed seek to destroy religious faith. They write books, make moves and otherwise cheer those efforts on with much gusto. — Tijefe

    I call those types “Anti-theists”; not just Atheist, but actively hostile to any form of theism or its expression. Sort of the funhouse mirror image of Culture Warriors a la Fred Phelps.

  38. Hey Andy D. I was not trying to convert you. I respect this forum and have not asked the questions I would normally ask a non-believer. I was defending a point that you were kind of insinuating: that Christians don’t have intellectual answers because your ex-girlfriend could not answer them. By asking her and not the pastor, teacher, or evangelist, it shows you did not want an answer. Spock would agree with me on this logic. To find out the definition of a word we go to the dictionary, not to an Archie comic book.

  39. Lance in TX says

    ProdigalSarah:
    I know what you are going through.
    I was raised in the Catholic, Episcopal, and a number of other Christian Churches. I pretty much dropped out of organized religion when I was about 16. I did marry my first wife in the Episcopal Church that I was baptised in and my mother helped rebuild.

    I believed in Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father, but did not know how they fit in my life.

    After my divorce I was even more uncaring about religion.

    My girlfriend introduced me to the LDS Church (she was not a member but had been involved with them for many years). I found answers to ALL of my questions. Everything made sense. I finally understood how Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father, and the Holy Ghost fit in my life! And I finally had the real desire to read the Bible and STUDY it. (It also has prompted me to learn EARLY Christian Church history because of the differences in how the LDS Church and Post-Nicea Christian Churches view the Trinity)

  40. “My ex-girlfriend (our break up was not about religion)”

    You broke up with her because she was dumb, didn’t you? It’s okay – this is a safe place, Andy D.

  41. Lance in TX says

    Lance:

    You wrote: When the “church” began to abandon the Nicene Creed and accept the Arian heresy Athanasius did not slip out into the desert to hang with St. Antony. He could have. But instead he chose to fight against it. Athanasius against the world.

    The pre-Niecene Creed Church was split. There was no “heresy” until the Nicea Council (called by Constantine himself) declared it heresy. It is interesting that Constantine originally went against Arius but later recanted and sided with him after the Nicene Creed was put in place.

    Here are some really good articles and web sites covering the early Christian Church and what happened at Nicea and with Constantine, for anyone that wants to read about it.

    From the Wisconsin Lutheran College, “Fourth Century Christianity” (look under Primary Texts: Councils and Creeds, Documents of the Early Arian Controversy, and Fourth Century Papacy):
    http://www.fourthcentury.com

    “We Believe in the Holy Spirit, The Lord and Giver of Life” (presented to the South Alantic District – Cottonbelt Pastors’ Conference, 2000):
    http://www.wlsessays.net/files/SchroederHolySpirit.pdf

    “Constantine and the Great Council” Part 1 & 2:
    http://www.ldsmag.com/books/090108council.html
    http://www.ldsmag.com/books/090109council2.html

    “The Nicene Creed and the Truth about the Trinity”:
    http://www.sullivan-county.com/identity/trinity.htm

  42. Andy D

    I understand what you’re saying. To be honest, I don’t think anyone really gets argued into the kingdom of God anyway. In any case, it’s nice to see you poking around on a Christian blog.

  43. Lance in TX

    If you think Constantine and the Nicene fathers took the church astray, you should spend more time with Ignatius and Irenaeus. Irenaeus, especially, if you think there was “no such thing as heresy.” Sorry, but Mormonism believes that “Heavenly Father” was once a man like me and you, and that he’s one god among many. The early Church did not believe that.

  44. @Patrick

    No, she was actually very smart, but she never studied the scripture herself.

    We broke up because she moved across the country to take a job and neither of us really cared to do the long distance thing.

    @Lance I have discussed my lack of faith with many Pastors. I chose not to discuss it with my ex’s pastor because at that point I was long gone.

  45. Lance in TX says

    ProdigalSarah:

    My girlfriend introduced me to the LDS Church (she was not a member but had been involved with them for many years).

    I forgot to say that I have been a member since 1994 and I could not imagine being in any other Church now.

    lance

  46. Lance in TX says

    mome you said:
    If you think Constantine and the Nicene fathers took the church astray, you should spend more time with Ignatius and Irenaeus. Irenaeus, especially, if you think there was “no such thing as heresy.” Sorry, but Mormonism believes that “Heavenly Father” was once a man like me and you, and that he’s one god among many. The early Church did not believe that.

    I never said there was “no such thing as heresy”. What I was trying to point out was that the “Arian heresy” was heresy only to the Church body that created the Nicene Creed. There were many other Churchs that did not believe it was heresy and that it was NOT heresy before Constantine and the Nicea Council.

    Yes we believe that “Heavenly Father” (God) was once a man like you and me. How else would be be able to create us IN HIS IMAGE (Gen 1:26, ‘And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…’ Gen 1:27, ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him…’)

    And we do not believe in other Gods. We believe that there is only 1 *GOD*. He is the Almight Creator of all. He is the one that we pray to through Jesus Christ and through the Love, Grace, and Mercy of Jesus Christ we will be able to see and be with again. There are NONE above him and none will ever be above him.

    What we believe is that the Godhead (you call it the Trinity) is not as the Nicea Council “came up with”, but as the Bible teaches and how many of the Churches felt: The Godhead is 3 separate persons with 1 Purpose.

  47. Hi Andy D 🙂
    I’m glad you’re still here. I wondered last night if you would get shoo’d away!!

  48. @ Lance in TX
    Really don’t want to sidetrack the discussion, but I’ve got to ask – do you (LDS) believe that the ‘image’ is purely a physical resemblance? How do you explain the different sexes, colours, etc?
    Genuinely curious.

  49. OK OK OK

    There are two things we aren’t going to have here:

    1) Mormons evangelizing Christians

    2) A Mormon-Christian debate.

    I will tolerate some give and take with Lance on THIS THREAD ONLY.

    Mormons aren’t Christians by the creedal definition this site operates on. Apostles’ and Nicene are mimimum.

    I’m happy for a learning environment, but when we are down to “three gods is no big deal,” I’m drawing some lines.

    This warning is for real. Keep it to this thread.

    ms

  50. ky boy but now

    traditional episcopal, I was pleasantly surprised,

    i have been to a continuing aglican group , very small, and nice,

    i’ve been looking for amia’s but there are none close

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