October 28, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 1.8.11

Well, the longest “season” of the year is just about to come to a close. Am I talking about the “holiday season” that seems to stretch from Halloween until Boxing Day? Nope. I’m referring to the college football bowl season. I think there are kids playing in Monday night’s ESPN Invitational Championship Game who weren’t even born when the bowl season kicked off. There is one state out of 50 that sent three teams to bowl games this year and all three came home a winner. What state do you think that is? While you are racking your brains for that answer, why not sit down in your favorite recliner and enjoy a championship helping of Saturday Ramblings.

You will want to keep checking back this week to see the new and improved Internet Monk web site. Joe Stallard is our behind-the-scenes web master who keeps things running. He spent his holidays redesigning our site, and it is almost ready to go. We think you will find it not only more up-to-date, but easier to spend hours and hours at a time reading and commenting. Should you or your business need a new web site, write to me and I will get you in touch with Joe. There is no better friend to the iMonastery, and he does great work as well.

John Piper makes his way back to the pulpit tomorrow after an eight-month voluntary leave-of-absence, but he found time to preach to 22,000 young people at the Passion conference in Atlanta this past week. I do make fun of having a weekly Piper quota here at the iMonk ranch (and this meets it), but I agree with much of what he says and writes. I totally agree with this. Do you think there are many who call themselves Christians who really want nothing to do with Christ?

Three years after launching a probe into alleged misconduct, Iowa Senator Charles Grassley concluded the investigation by calling for a federal advisory committee to ensure that churches and ministries abide by non-profit laws. The Evangelical Council on Financial Accountability has created a panal to examine tax issues that seem to have been the center of Grassley’s investigation into six parachurch organizations, including ministries run by Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Randy and Paula White, Eddie Long and Creflo Dollar. Only Meyer and Hinn provided all of the information requested. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I worked a number of years for the legal firm that represents Joyce Meyer Ministries. While I had nothing to do with this case, I can say that the ministry was the first to submit all requested materials, and was cited by Grassley’s committee for being extremely cooperative in the investigation.)

A New Year’s Day bombing killed 21 Coptic Christians in Alexandria, Egypt, gathered for a worship service. First of all, where is the outcry over what is happening to our brothers and sisters in persecuted countries? (This will the topic of a post in the near future.) But then read this paragraph: “Muslim countries have a responsibility to protect their minorities, as do all other countries. No international conflict, no ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis, no thought of a million dead Iraqis or the civilians killed by American drones in Pakistan, the occupation of Palestine or Afghanistan lessens this responsibility. That conversation is independent of the rights of neighbors to freely practice their faith and pursue their lives.” Is that written by a Christian leader? Perhaps someone like John Hagee? No. It was written by Adbul Malik Mujahid, a Muslim. That’s right. A Muslim. I will let you ponder that for a bit.

Eagle-eyed Rambler Adam Palmer, along with Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor for The Atlantic, want to know where the atheists are in Congress. Perhaps you can help locate them. If you do, call 1-800-Vote-ForMe. Leave your name and credit card number and if you’re lucky, no one will call you back.

Equally sharped-eyed Chaplain Mike reports in with this list of the Ten Worst Christian Media Hacks. What? I didn’t make the list? Dang. I am really going to have to try harder, ain’t I?

A tip o’ the wool cap to Martha with this list, Chesterton’s Top Twelve Quotes. Adam, get your t-shirt making friend to make up shirts with this Chesterton gem: Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. Brilliant! I challenge any pastors reading this to work that line into your sermons tomorrow…

Celebrates born this past week include J. Edgar Hoover; Barry Goldwater; J.D. Salinger; “Country” Joe McDonald; Tulsa native John Hope Franklin; Jim Bakker; Cuba Gooding, Jr.; George Martin, producer of many of the Beatles’ albums; Bobby Hull; Van Dyke Parks; Stephen Stills; Mel Gibson; Eli Manning; Jane Wyman (Ronald Reagan’s first wife); Maureen Reagan (Ronald Reagan’s oldest daughter); Patty Lovelace; Sam C. Phillips of Sun Records; Robert Duvall; Lou Holtz; Nancy Lopez; Howie Long; A. J. Hawk, graduate of Centerville (Ohio) High School (my alma mater as well as where I taught for nine years); Thelma “Butterfly” (“I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies”) McQueen; Katie Couric; Kenny Loggins; and Nicholas Cage.

Stephen Stills is overlooked as one of the finest guitar players of our day—or any day, for that matter. Here he is with his pals David Crosby and Graham Nash performing for only their second time ever in front of a live audience. This was at an intimate little affair called Woodstock. Enjoy.


  1. Farewell to Gerry Rafferty, who passed away Tuesday.

    • Will he be buried on Baker Street?

    • This makes me very sad. That song, “Baker Street”, is practically the soundtrack of my fifteenth year; it seemed like they played that song every day all summer and every morning in the two weeks of June when I was sitting my Intermediate Certificate (an examination we have over here in Ireland, now re-christened the Junior Certificate, for Third Year secondary students) I listened to it before heading off to the exam hall.

      Every time I hear it I am immediately brought straight back to the sun shining in the kitchen window as I sit at the table having my breakfast and listening to the wireless. God rest him.

      Jeff, thanks for the Chesterton link. You sure know how to get around a girl, don’t you?


      • Well Martha, if I did, I would have you writing for us now, wouldn’t I??? 🙂

        • Now, Jeff, I have to leave you some goal to aim for, don’t I?


          (One of these days, should anything raise me to a sufficient pitch of ire, I’ll throw a post together and plonk it in your e-mail inbox. And then you’ll be sorry you ever asked).

          • C’mon, iMonks. You’ve heard the challenge. What would you like to hear Martha of Ireland speak to? Understand that she will work in multiple Chesterton quotes, which of course is the reason we want her to write anyway…

  2. I would agree with Piper’s comments. I know there are plenty of people who refuse to love God because of his glory and grace and instead want God to provide for them. Now I have a question. I become worried that perhaps I am thinking of myself over God. As I seek God, I realize how much I make it about me and my joy. I flee to the cross but, how as a sinner still will I ever be completely at the place where God is at the bottom, the base? Will I not always struggle with sin? Maybe I am not understanding what is being said. I become worried that I am not putting God at the base. What if I am kidding myself and I don’t know Christ. What if on the last day he casts me away? I pray that God give me true faith but, I live with the fear that I am only concerned about me and not his glory. The more I worry about it, the more I fret and have become physically ill and in the end make it be about me. I feel like I am in a vicious cycle.
    However, I find myself wanting to love God and be his child but like Piper said what if I only think God loves me?
    The only comfort I find isn’t in just the fact that God is sovereign; it is in the sovereignty of cross where Christ bore my sins. When I go there I find forgiveness and love. But, what if I am wrong? Sorry to write as if I am paranoid. I guess I just have to post it…

    • RD, very curious. I started to reply to your post and was stopped mid-sentence. I have learned to listen to this call to be still of tongue. So I relaxed and let myself be directed. It brought me to the top of the page and “Essays.” There were a number of them I wanted to stop and read but I kept scrolling and came to this: “When I am weak.” I think it will be helpful.

      • Numenian,

        thank you for directing me to that essay. I think that i feel weaker than most! It is a struggle some days for me to even believe the Gospel is true. On those days, I am quaking with fear. The one thing that stood out in the essay was how the prodigal came back looking for religion. In other words he wasn’t coming with the right intentions yet, God gave him mercy. I need to chew on that for a long long while.

        • RD, I have had similiar struggles. I almost said the “same” struggles but I cannot know the depth, breadth and height of yours. For awhile I considered myself the “worst sinner,” truly thinking I had taken that crown from Paul. I knew far, far better than the vast majority of people the wonder, power, and love of God…yet I continued to sin. Shame was my primary emotion. Shame ruled my life, not the freedom of Christ. I gradually found that shame was a lie of the Deceiver; it was no more than perverse pride.
          When Paul said “the old man is gone” we are left with the impression that sinning is at an end and if we do sin than our faith was insincere and we are still lost. I look at it like this: announcing that hurricane Katrina is gone to the people of New Orleans. Yes, that is good news but the wreckage of “the old man” remains, which God clears away through our sanctification. Dying to self, offering up all our wonds and burdens to God and our bodiess as a living sacrifice. It is not by my effort or to my merit. The Holy Spirit and grace supplies the necessary will and power. I offer my prayers to God for your joy.

    • Christiane says

      Sounds like Piper has been taking some inspiration from
      ‘Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee’ from Augustine’s ‘Confessions’.

      I wonder if he realizes that?

      I love the way Augustine describes that we were made ‘for God’.
      Piper should credit Augustine, I think, Or maybe he assumes we all know the good Saint’s work.

    • Musings of an agnostic here…but here are several points…

      1. Living in continual fear and constant guessing is no way to live. That was one of the things that exhausted me about the fundgelicals was that life was all about fear. Did you give you whole heart to Jesus? Have you always and continually gone to the cross? Have you done this, and are you SURE you did that, etc..

      I realized that one can’t do a damn thing right at times and in a environment that is always second guessing its not a way to live.

      2. I think John Piper makes a good point about idols. However I would also suggest that idols are always going to be an issue and that most people don’t know this. Or they will become so fear filled about idols that it can become a consuming fear that can parallyze a person. But I think another question about idols that should be asked is this. Do Christians make the Bible an idol and do they worship it?

      3. I think John Piper’s commentary also showed how deep and pervassive prosperity gospel theology is in the church. I do believe the church is in denial about that fact.

      That’s all folks….

      • I couldn’t agree more with you. I thought iMonk was a more Lutheran leaning place in terms of assurance of salvation, not the Fundie “are you sure…are you sure you’re sure…” This is one thing I cannot stand about Piper. We’re never good enough until our hearts are torn in two constantly over sin, and how the only assurance you have is depression.

  3. It is reported that thousands of Egyptian Muslims are turning out to protect Christians during their Christmas services:

    • Bravo to those Egyptian Muslims!!

      • To love our enemies is not humanly possible, for to love our enemies is to be as perfect as the father in heaven is perfect. We can know a man of God by his lack of “Samaritans.” To be “separated out” does not mean to be divided against the Lost and Fallen, or the kooks and the misfits, or the Liberals and Conservatives, or the Baptists and the Catholics. “Even though they slay me, yet shall I love them.”
        Although I am not a fan of the End Times Watch, two of the signs is that “the Church will be offended” and “the love of many will grow cold.” The more vocal reaction of the Church in America to Muslims seems to neatly fulfill the prophesy. When the controversy over the mosque in New York started grabbing National Headlines, I naively expected the Church to caution love. The problem here is that most American Christians (or is it Christian Americans?) appear to see patriotism for the United States as akin to patriotism for the kingdom of God. The belief this is a Christian Nation makes American soil holy ground.
        This is, to me, an egregious error. We are citizens of heaven; there can be no dual citizenship. Yes, we are to submit to the “governing authority.” Why? Out of love of God, not love of country. And as Paul goes on to say in Romans13, it is ultimately out of the ONE RULE: love of neighbor. Love does NO HARM to its neighbor.

        • Numenian says: “The problem here is that most American Christians (or is it Christian Americans?) appear to see patriotism for the United States as akin to patriotism for the kingdom of God”.

          Seems like a fairly broad generalization. Have you spoken to most American Christians (unlikely)? Do you really mean American (US citizens) Christians (true believers who have been regenerated by the power of God), or do you mean people who live in the US and call themselvers Christian and are not real Christians at all? What about those that are Christian-in-name-only (CINO’s)? Are saying it is wrong to love God and your country?

          • Tony, I work at a local Christian TV station. I am an avid listener of Christian Radio programs. I am in fellowship with a good number of Christians in my city. I read Christian monthlies. I study the Bible everyday. My statements are not broad generalizations but what I found to be generally true. I did not (and unlikely you) see thousands of Christians defending the Muslim right to build a mosque or a call to love. If you know of any Christians in any medium calling for kindness and gentleness toward Muslims, I would be quite pleased to hear it..
            Let me answer your question first then I have a few for you. I will be brief although I could write twenty pages to support my stand.
            My personal conviction is that patriotism (“love of country and zeal for its interest,” which is The working definition of patriotism) for any country is wrong. My kingdom, as a true believer who has been (in my estimation) regenerated by the power of God, is not of this world. My pledge of allegiance–as a citizen of heaven alone, a stranger living in a strange land–is to God alone.
            Now, a few questions for you.
            Do you love Muslims?
            Do you and/or the church you attend sing patriotic songs in any services, say the Pledge Of Allegiance at any church meetings, have the American flag on the altar?
            How do you separate the CINO’s from the “true believers who have been regenerated by the power of God”?
            From what I see you saying in the post following this reply is that only if a vast amount of Muslims stand up for Christians (500 million) it does not count. How many Christians defended the Muslims in New York or spoke out against the same action taken in other states or the burning of mosques? How many would it take for you to believe Christianity was a religion of love?

  4. 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and only one Muslim named Abdul Malik Mujahid who writes for a liberal rag that hates America speaks out against the bombing and martyrdom of the Coptic Christians—big deal. Sorry, that doesn’t mean anything. When 500 million Muslims take this same stand, then that’s a story.

    • Did you read the comment above?

      It is reported that thousands of Egyptian Muslims are turning out to protect Christians during their Christmas services:

      But I guess you hate reading almost as much some people hate America.

      • Thousands out of 1.6 billion. That is like .00012% of all Muslims. Let me know when they take it a little more seriously.

        • flatrocker says

          Seems like someone else started out with only 12….

          but then again what could they possibly accomplish?

          • hmmm…..
            Your comparison of the Egyptian Muslims to the 12 Apostles speaks more to me about you than them.

          • flatrocker says

            Finally, someone that can speak to me about me. I’ve always been confounding and confusing to all who know me (smile).

            Seriosly, Tony – all movements throughout history start with a visionary who rallies a small group. I hold out hope against hope that the madness is overcome with awareness. Awareness leads to compassion and from there God only knows.

            In my comment, I offered the perfect opportunity for you to respond that the fundamental difference between the defenders of the Coptic Catholics and the 12 Apostles was Pentecost – simple and powerful. You missed the dove and chose the hammer and nail.

            Let us pray the Spirit is moving. Let us pray the Spirit opens the hearts of those who live in hate. And let us pray for those of us who observe and draw conclusions from the comfort of our keyboards.

            A small step.

        • A note of caution on thought processes – ascribing the actions of a few to the entire group is stereotyping, and that can be very dangerous. (This is a close cousin of what you were getting at in your previous comment – “seems like a fairly broad generalization” – if you’re the same Tony!)

          We don’t like it when it happens to us as Christians or whatever our race, nationality or gender is. Spend some time with the diverse humanity in God’s kingdom and you’ll start to see that monolithic characteristics of a certain group don’t hold up well with understanding. In any event, it’s a little easier to be the salt and light that Jesus intended us to be.

        • So, you expect millions of people to fly to Egypt now?
          I presume you flew to Northern Ireland to prtoect people from the Christian in the IRA..

    • The point was not about 500 million muslims, but that many muslims who are geographically the closest to the coptic church bombings are offering themselves as human shields to protect the church services.
      An excerpt from the article:
      Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word Thursday night. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside.

      From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.

      “We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea.

      Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.

      “This is not about us and them,” said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.”

      • Like.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        The point was not about 500 million muslims, but that many muslims who are geographically the closest to the coptic church bombings are offering themselves as human shields to protect the church services.

        Probably BECAUSE they are “geographically the closest”. Close enough that they can see the Coptics as Egyptians, as neighbors, as people, overcoming the troop-size limit.

  5. Crosby Stills and Nash: MUCH better WITHOUT Neil Young. I never could figure Young’s appeal.

  6. FWIW, in Anglican (especially conservative Anglican) news sites, blogs, and whatnot, the massacre of the Copts has gotten quite a lot of press. It’s actually the top article on the ACNA website right now. But we have some significant ties to them through the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt.

    • Agreed, I go to an AMiA church, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be spending time praying for Sudan, Egypt, etc this Sunday.

      And there is an outcry. I work at a Christian Radio station that had multiple interviews with missions groups over the persecution in Sudan as it relates to the upcoming elections. Samaritan’s Purse is urging all churches to pray for the election and the aftermath.

      That said, there needs to be more of an outcry — and a concerted effort by Christians in the US (and other places of relative peace towards Christians) to pray for the persecuted church and pressure the White House to be assertive.

  7. About the new and improved internetmonk website coming up, will it have forums??? Please??

    • Oooh! Games! Will it have games? How about post-evangelical wilderness motocross?

      • And t-shirts! Must have t-shirts and coffee mugs! With catchy slogans like “When the Rapture comes, it won’t affect me because I’m amillenialist” and so forth!

      • I was serious about the forums though!

        • Martha a better one would be
          “When the Rapture comes, it won’t affect me because I’m a panillenialist”
          It is always going to pan out in the end.

        • Milton, I’ll discuss this with Joe Stallard. Let me say that, like the rest of us, Joe contributes all of his time and labor on the iMonk site, so if this would be labor-intensive, I hesitate to ask it of him. He is one of the best people you would ever meet in your life, period, and has never turned us down, ever, period. But I don’t want to take advantage of his kindness.

          But I will mention it. I assume you mean forums as you find them on a site like dpreview.com?

          Thanks to everyone for your suggestions on improving the site. I think y’all will like it…

          • Yes, just some forums where we could have discussions outside of the comment setting.

          • I like the idea of having a forum as well. I can say from experience, though, that moderating a forum can be a challenge. An overmoderated forum is often nothing more than a place for the faithful to discuss nuances of the official party line, while an undermoderated forum can become a cesspool. And of course the moderator(s) need to have both time to do the job and a thick skin to deal with trolls, spammers and the overzealous.

            So sayeth James the Mad, who doth moderate elsewhere. 🙂

      • Seriously, a button to share an arfticle on Facebook would be nice. WordPress also has an “I like it” button plugin, which would be a very nice feature.

    • I also like blogs that have a sidebar giving a link to the most recent comments.

    • I’d like a water balloon game/ or egg throw where we can target our favorite televangelist!! Think about it I mean between the likes of Ken Hamm or Pat Robertson that would be a fun game!! 😀

  8. The University of Tulsa won the Hawaii Bowl.
    The University of Oklahoma won the Fiesta Bowl.
    Oklahoma State University won the Alamo Bowl.

    That makes the state of Oklahoma three-for-three. Hope you found this scintillating, international readers. One day Jeff will write all about the Premier League and his support of Chelsea FC.

    • Yes, well, I’m more of a Man U man myself…

      • *recoils in horror*

        The Red Devils? Avaunt!


        • Have we just had our first spat?

          • Well, I can be tolerant of the led-astray as my mother followed Man U and brought one of)my brothers up in that tradition. My sister and my other brother couldn’t care less one way or the other, and my misguided brother has corrupted my nephews in turn 😉

            Me getting interested in sports coincided with Liverpool winning all around them. That, of course, was back when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Today consists of me uncovering my eyes long enough to check our position on the table, ‘eeking’ in response and re-covering them.


          • I have two Korean teenaged boys living with me, going to high school here in the US of A. They both are big Man U fans because there is a Korean playing for Man U. I guess I could become an Arsenal fan just to be contrary. But that still wouldn’t please you, would it?

          • Jeff, I have nothing against the Gunners.


  9. I may be the odd man out, and I know Michael enjoyed the website, but the sneering at Patrol Magazine always seems to be rather empty. This list of Top Media Hacks is largely an example of how easy it is to be cynical and fruitless.

    That and it reminds me of the silly “110 People Who are Screwing up America” book that was unsurprisingly 90% liberals. The book produced nothing but 5-fives from conservatives and resentment from liberals, and I can’t imagine this list doing any more – just reverse the polarities.

  10. What first comes to mind for me concerning Piper’s comments is Christian radio. Maybe I just have bad luck with it, but the station my area gets is horrendous. Once I listened to it at work, as an experiment- for 9 hours. I intentionally planned to listen for Jesus-content. In 9 hours, Jesus didn’t get a mention. Not one. Finally, driving home I heard some brief thing about him. These are big, famous, syndicated preachers. Nine hours. No Jesus.


    • It’s not just the station in your area. Our local station has a two-hour show that consists of two people talking mostly about themselves. Other fare includes right-wing political commentary, commentary and sermons on the impending predicted economic collapse, and pro-Israel and anti-Muslim alarmist commentary. Truly Jesus-centered programming is pretty rare.

    • Nate, here is Michael Spencer’s essay “On Christless Preaching”.

      Chaplain Mike re-posted a lot of classics from Michael last April.

      And I thought Christian radio around here was bad…

    • I would also add Christian music as well. I remember when I was a new Christian (agnostic now…) I attended a Steven Curtis Chapman concert duirng his Speechless tour in 1999. I was shocked by all the merchandise that was being sold. Do Christians need all thos ebracelts, shirts, bumper stickers, etc.. I mean I can understand a CD…but was the other material needed?

  11. I just read the Piper article and I can’t say I fully agree with the way he words things here:

    “I believe that there are millions of people, many of them professing Christians, who are not born-again, believe God loves them, and are hell-bound”.

    After continuing through the rest of the article, it almost sounds to me that Piper is focusing on a perfect emotional response to the Gospel as being our primary assurance of not being “hell-bound.” It’s almost as if he were saying, “real Christians never selfishly put themselves before God.” I’m not saying that he is saying that; I am saying that to me it sounds like what he means. This type of impression I get from his statements is one of the reasons I’ve never been able to stomach much of what Piper says–I would frequently feel the need to over-analyze my emotions as the key to my relationship with God.

    • I have a lot of respect for John Piper’s preaching, normally. But there are days that I think he is incredibly cruel. Of course, I have a bit of a problem with some of the things I’ve heard him say on podcasts, and I have to remind myself that I’m not God and I can’t judge the state of his heart.

      But it sounds like he’s perfectly willing to judge the state of MY heart. And yours. Hey, but then again I’m an Arminian, what do I know?

      • I think John Piper’s finest moment (can you feel the sarcasm drip…?) was hwne he said that cancer is a gift from God. Being a fundegelical I gave that article by John Piper to my Mom when she was going thorugh radiation treatment for pancreatic cancer. Lovely thing for a son to do….

        • Oh, my…….I’m pretty sure that didn’t go well, huh?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            During the first six months of 1975, I watched my mother die of cancer while involved in an aberrant splinter church with cultic overtones. Never went as far as Eagle did, but I know where he was coming from.

            Trust me, you are NOT thinking straight when you’re in that combination of situations.

  12. I get what Piper is saying, but the way he puts it had me questioning my salvation rather than checking my heart and attitude for a course correction. I think urging people to search their hearts and motives is good; and even though I see plenty of self-centered glop trying to pass for ministry, I’m less sure that heading toward a decision about who is saved and who’s not is healthy. The original sins were rooted in pride and selfishness, and we are all still prone to these and battle with our old selves from time to time, perhaps even Piper. May Christ in His mercy and grace help us to surrender to Him always.

    Hooray for the Egyptian Muslims. I hope that Christians in the West will similarly stand up for their Muslim neighbors when they are discriminated against and threatened. Those who think moderate muslims are a tiny minority are simply wrong. There are many moderate Muslims, but they are largely silent in places where the extremists have a foothold because the price of speaking out publicly is very high, as evidenced by the murder of the governor of Punjab province in Pakistan this week. Please pray for Muslim nations and peoples this week.

  13. Ah, yes, the Passion Conferences – the entrance drug for Calvinism for college students all over America…

    It was actually listening to Piper speak at two of these conferences that my wife and I took vans of students to, that really pretty much turned me off to Calvinism for good. Not that I ever really was into it, but I simply have a hard time squaring much of what Piper says with the Biblical narrative, and, well, reality. I think college students are drawn to him because Calvinism offers an answer for everything (“why did my mom die?” “for the glory of God!”).

    I don’t agree with what Richard Foster calls “worm theology”. I don’t think it’s necessary to tear people down, tell them they’re worthless, unlovable, etc. before you introduce them to the Gospel. Certainly many people are narcissists nowadays, but the answer to narcissism isn’t to convince people they are worthless.

    • I agree. Calvinsts thrive in black and white thinking and that line of thinking can be toxic.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I think college students are drawn to him because Calvinism offers an answer for everything (“why did my mom die?” “for the glory of God!”).

      In’shal’lah… Eh, Kismet?

      Certainly many people are narcissists nowadays, but the answer to narcissism isn’t to convince people they are worthless.

      The most lasting effect “worm theology” had on me was Depression and Despair.

  14. I too, am not a big fan of Piper.

    His sermons, or talks, are almost all law. ‘How you ought feel about God’, ‘why you should become more serious about God’, ‘why you should desire God more fervantly’. All law.

    He does know the gospel, but whenever I have heard him give away Christ, in the next breath he rips Him right back out of your hand by demanding something more from the hearer.

    He also denies the Sacraments. So then, what is left? You are. All of your efforts, your seriousness, your feelings, your…whatevers.

    God bless him, but he’s just another typical Baptist/Calvinist (self-described) preacher who hasn’t a clue on distinguishing the law from the gospel.

    • I must say that my first reaction to Piper’s comments was much the same as yours..And I immediately felt myself checking through my own thoughts about God, and wondering if they were based on Him making “much of me” or me making much of Him.
      All that is left is to trust in God, and believe that He knows our hearts,and remembers that we are dust.

  15. Another birthday this week: Earl Scruggs (bluegrass banjo pioneer of Flatt & Scruggs fame)

  16. Piper’s comments are, for me, a bit off the wall.. My own view is that those who choose not to love God are choosing not to be themselves, after all, Scripture tells us that we are created in the image of God and we also know from Agustin of Hippo that our hearts remain restless until we make that connection with the One who is the source of all love.

    Saturday night is really not the time to dive into this discussion for one who has to work tomorrow. However, I’ll be sure to return to this discussion after fulfilling all my obligations tomorrow.

    As I go, please know that I am happy to have discovered your blog on the net. As a token of my appreciation, I leave you with a link to my favorite coffee recipe. Click here to see: http://frbeesknees.net/id1179.htm
    In the love of the Lamb (En el amor del Cordero),
    Fr. Tom†
    Prison Missioner for the Diocese of Florida & Assistant Chaplain @ Baker Correctional Work Camp

  17. I’m not sure I get what Piper is saying. I think the soundbites in the article are a little disjointed. It would help to see the entire transcript.

    I think he is confronting therapeutic-moralistic deism, where God is a means to an end, so of course we “love” the money-machine. When bad things happen, we don’t love God so much: why did God let this happen? Why did God not intervene? Is God really there?

    God’s glory is more important than his love for us; I agree with this in principle. But once someone starts saying that God allowed someone to suffer so that he might be glorified through the results, then I get off the bus. J.S. Spong has a great story addressing this in “A New Christianity for a New World”, where an entire bible college prays for a girl’s healing; when the healing never comes, everyone starts praying, “Thy will be done” and talking about how God will be glorified through this girl becoming a double-amputee. Perhaps Spong deliberately chose an extreme story to make his point, but I have heard many stories just like this, or have seen Christians respond to tragedy as if God let it happen because of a lesson that had to be learned. Talk about guilt! (So, if I didn’t have to learn the lesson, the tragedy would have never happened?)

    I think the line of thinking represented by Piper is running out of steam. Whether or not one is ready to embrace Spong’s notion that the the god of theism is dead, the way we deal with the subject of theism has got to change. Otherwise, we will continue to bounce between the extremes of God as an object or means-to-an-end; we as God’s objects or playthings; or both simultaneously.

  18. Nut-cases do not a religion make. And we find them in all faiths.
    A commentor earlier mentioned CINO’s: Christians in name only. I have heard a number of well-known and well-respected “Christian leaders” talk about “Carnal Christians.” I have found this a commonly accepted notion among most Christians that i personally know as well as those in the media. Balderdash!
    Such labels and divisions come from the spiritually immature. Such things are not up to us to judge. If a brother or sister is acting in a way that is separate from the Church or from God, this person needs to be confronted (“bring a brother…”or an amends made (“Leave your gift at the altar…”). We confront in love, with all gentleness and kindness; this is not an option…if we are hidden in Christ. And it is not a rule to follow. If we live and move and have our being in Christ it is natural.
    The Christians’ main concern is another’s ultimate well-being, and that is found in Christ and dying to self, which is all that we can offer. Taking that or not is not our concern. And we have no opinion on it.
    How does this relate to the topic at hand?
    Just this: love your enemy and Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan.

  19. Well, that was kind of Chesterton to write this: “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also great literature.”

    The only change I hope takes place on this website is one that gives us a few minutes after we post our comment to edit the comment. That would be great! I also wouldn’t mind having the comments numbered like they are on Parchment and Pen blog. It makes it easier to refer to the comment if you are not actually replying to that comment.

    I LOVE this blog! Keep up the good work, Jeff and Chaplain Mike!

    • JoanieD, without you and the other iMonks who read and even sometimes leave a thought or two, we would just be talking to ourselves. Thank you for your great insights and for sharing your heart with all of us.

      As to editing your comments, I’m not sure that is something that is even possible to offer. We can let you NOT edit yours or any other comment, or we can let you edit yours and EVERY OTHER comment at the same time. Not sure there is a way to let you edit only yours. But we can keep looking.

      Thanks, Joanie!

      • Oh, OK, Jeff. On the Parchment and Pen blog you can edit just your own comments. They may have a much more expensive “set up” though.

        • Let me ask Joe if we can do this. Thanks, Joanie!

          Catch some ice for me…

          • I have been on a seminary message board where students edit their own comments where necessary, but it’s a student-only, log-in matter, and doesn’t have nearly the traffic as this blog. And the posts are more like mini-essays with little interaction between them.

            If we have only a few minutes to edit, as Joanie suggests, that might work OK here, but if left open-ended it could create problems. On iMonk, people frequently copy/paste from others, and long threads often develop based on earlier comments. If earlier ones get edited (changed, compromised, corrupted) later in the game, it may confuse the discussion.

            I’d recommend that people continue to proofread (and we recognize typos as innocent), and to use a word processor if necessary, or simply reply to yourself in order to clarify something. And count to ten before hitting the “submit” button on heated topics! If anyone does say something to embarass himself, well, maybe it would serve him right. And anything really offensive gets deleted by the moderators.

  20. Jeff,

    This is not related to anything except that this is a Saturday Ramblings post and my comment is kinda’ random. You need to see this; someone needs to post it on iMonk. Michael Spencer would be proud.


  21. Jeff says:

    > A tip o’ the wool cap to Martha with this list, Chesterton’s Top Twelve Quotes. Adam, get your t-shirt making friend to make up shirts with this Chesterton gem: Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. Brilliant! <

    Forget ye not Donald McGonagall when of poets ye do speak:

    “Well, so much the better, my good woman, for you and them;
    But, old girl, let’s have something to eat, me, and my men”:
    “Blithely, sir, blithely! ye’re welcome to what I hae,”
    When she bustled into the cottage without delay.

    And she brought out oaten cakes, sweet milk, and cheese,
    Which the soldiers devoured greedily at their ease,
    And of which they made a hearty meal,
    But, for such kind treatment, ungrateful they did feel.


    (Or you can find him by Googling “worst poet ever.”)