December 3, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 2.11.12

Welcome to the Valentine’s Day edition of Saturday Ramblings. We want you to be our valentine. (I have no idea what that means. Just seems the thing to say.)  Sorry, we have no chocolate to share. Well, ok, we suppose we could offer you some chocolate-covered Ramblings.

Rambler Adam Palmer found this story about the torture and persecution of Christians in Muslim countries. No, this is not to get you riled up against Muslims. It is to remind us to pray for our brothers and sisters in these countries. As St. Paul Harvey would say, “It is not one world.”

The story of Andrew, the young man “discplined” by Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll, goes on and on and on. Slate has this very interesting look into the whole debacle. And Matthew Paul Turner comments on Slate.  Now it’s your turn to comment on these stories.

Not sure if Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church will discipline its members who don’t lose weight or not. And I have no idea what “pump and praise” is, nor do I want to know. (Don’t even go there, iMonks. I have an itchy trigger finger…)

You know that the Catholic liturgy changed at the beginning of the year. Apparently one priest didn’t get the memo. Now he’s in the unemployment line for saying an unauthorized prayer. (I said don’t go there, iMonks.)

This by Rachel Held Evans is perhaps the most important thing you will read all week. Really. (You can go there with this one, brothers and sisters.)

And this is definitely the funniest thing you’ll read this week. Try to find yourself on this “chart.” (Definitely go there with this one!)

The weirdest thing you’ll read? Well, it’s a toss-up between a drive-thru funeral parlor, or this story approved by the Synonymous Rambler about the Virgin Mary appearing in a tree. Which do you think is the strangest of the two?

Celebs, or those we think are celebs, who turned a year older this last week include Charles Lindbergh; Byron Nelson; Vincent Furnier (sure you know Vincent—ok, you know him better by Alice Cooper); Lawrence Taylor; John Carradine; Hank Aaron (for my money, the greatest baseball player of all time); Darrell Waltrip; George Herman “Babe” Ruth (who could also be considered the best baseball player of them all); Zsa Zsa Gabor; Rip Torn; Bob Marley; Laura Ingalls Wilder; Nick Nolte; Ernest Tubb; Carole King; Jimmy Durante; and Mark Spitz.

Yes, I know Alice Cooper is a Christian. He is also a great entertainer. (I’d give his restaurant in Phoenix a pass, though. Just sayin’…) This is the song he considers his own personal favorite. Enjoy!

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Ok. So you question the part about him being a Christian? Fine. Check this out.

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  1. The projects just never end at Saddleback Church.

    And the focus is always on ‘y _ u’. (rhymes with ‘who’)

  2. From the article on Slate: “But Justin Dean, the church’s PR and marketing manager, agreed to answer my questions by email to tell the church’s side of the story.”

    “PR and marketing manager”?!

    • Also my reaction. Forgive me if this sounds a little restorationist, but I don’t recall Paul needing a PR manager. As the current IM study in 2 Corinthians shows, he did his own “spin control,” and was reluctant to do even that …

    • Sorry, I didn’t bat an eye at that one. Just not surprising, par for the course. I was more personally taken back to hear John Ortberg actively endorse the concept of church discipline at all. Didn’t think he was the type!

  3. I believe that Mark Driscoll is a dangerous fellow. Jeff, what do you know about the Elephant room? Also, I listened to his address to his church about seeing things such as women being raped. He claimed to have visions from God. It is really strange stuff…

    However, on newreformationpress,com they retracted their comments about Andrew because they were given information that there was more to the story. You should go over there and read it. I don’t know what to think but, I do know that Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill have some problems with or without this Andrew fellow.

    • “because they were given information that there was more to the story”

      Mars Hill is clearly in damage control mode. Regardless of all the leaked information, clearly mistakes were made. The elders have never said “We were wrong”, they are only trying to control damage.

    • Joseph (the original) says

      He [Driscoll] claimed to have visions from God. It is really strange stuff…

      as someone that exited the prophetic movement due to what i felt were abuses, misconceptions, misapplications & downright wack claims, this one element of ‘seeing visions’ on having a sense of another person’s past is not always be put into the spooky-spiritual category…

      i have experienced other dear saints that have had ‘words of knowledge’ about certain issues another individual either had or situations that could be identified as specific woundings they endured…

      and i have had quite accurate words of knowledge about recent acquaintances. however, these were not the norm, nor where they able to be ‘exercised’ at will. they happened more by suprise for me. others have ‘seen’ visions or mental pictures during such times. i have not…

      i have seen some very amazing things & i have seen some very questionable things. one thing i have a problem with is when some claim to be able to ‘discern’ or sense a specific issue. if it is in the area of sexual abuse or sexual behaviors, i think this is going too far to be public about, or cavalier about. Driscoll’s claim is creepy. it is something that should never be divulged with other people & only handled in a very supportive, loving, specific counseling setting. God does not let others in on our past simply to read our mail as a parlor trick or a sign of the one claiming such ability as being ‘spiritually gifted’…

      as a former, or recovering, charismatic, i do believe in the validity of spiritual gifts/giftings, but most of what i saw being passed off as such were simply sincere attempts at things people did not understand properly, nor had any business trying to do. anyway…there was too much chaff & not enough wheat for me to think the approach i was being shown was healthy, correct, edifying, & ultimately effective in the lives of both practitioner & those supposedly being ministered to…

      Lord, have mercy… 🙁

      • Just an observation…I looked in the list of spiritual gifts and I can,t seem to find a “gift of discernment”, but I DID find a “discerning of spirits”. Quite a difference between the two though. One is very specific as to the object of the gift (spirits), the other very open ended as to what can be “discerned”. One is a gifting for the protection and edification of the Church, the other a vehicle for all sorts of mischief.

        As a former member of the Assemblies of God denomination I have seen all sorts of abuses, some because of ignorance and superstition, some because of blatant control issues. Also, as a former member of a Christian cult group in the 70’s (the Children of God/ Family of Love) I can recognize cult like leanings when I see them. Mars Hill has some of those markers, but it does not make it a cult. Cult of personality, maybe, but not a full blown cult. Not a place I would associate with.

        • Joseph (the original) says

          discernment in the prophetic circles i once inhabited had the grander connotation to it. and the ‘discerning of spirits’ simply an excuse to ‘name’ all sorts of behaviors, attitudes, curses, oppressive elements & things that did have a spooky-spiritual, darker element to them…

          it was a debacle of a very serious kind. and the ‘gifts/giftings’ were peddled as if they were readily available to any saint regardless of their spiritual maturity level, past, personal issues, etc.

          it was a mess. really. too much hurt caused & unnecessary confusion, posturing, ego swelling, comparison making, celebrity making, supernatural urban legend making religious excess…

          it was out-of-control, unlike the Spirit of control, order, gentleness, goodness, meekness, etc. the focus was on the gifts/gifted ones, not on the intent or the ones being ministered to. what a sorry situation for the poor saints swept up into the hype & novelty of it…

          Lord, have mercy… 🙁

        • I lean VERY heavily towards cessationism on many of these issues, but not on discernment. I believe it is possible to have discernment in disproportionally high levels, and this is a good gift that God would want to bless his church with. It has nothing to do with photographic visions of others sins. When someone specifically does NOT use this discernment gift as a weapon against others, I’m much more inclined to consider his story. I. E. , if you have the “gift of discernment,” are you using it with discernment? A very good friend of mine, a retired SBC minister, experienced this sort of gifting for a temporary period in his ministry. He thinks it was the “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” but that probably because he hung out with too many AoG’s. But he said that all it did was give him the ability to see the intentions of somebody he was having a conversation with. No pictures, just whether this person meant good or destructiveness. Obviously, he never rebuked these people for their hidden motives, but it did help him surround himself with good team players. I wouldn’t have believed the guy if I didn’t see him perform an exorcism. I’m pretty skeptical about most of this type of stuff, but I’m convinced it exists and its out there. But it’s far, far away from the circus show that has it on the poster.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      If you’re talking about MD’s “pornovisions”, I still say they are just the Sexual Fantasies a Celebrity Preacher Is Not Supposed To Have breaking out in an “acceptable” form.

      • I think it is sheer, unashamed manipulation and control: “He has reported that he can sometimes ‘see things’ about his members’ past sins.’ Who at Mars Hill is going to confront him, if he possesses such magical powers? “Oh yeah? Hmmm…wait….I’m getting a vision…and you’re in it….ohhhhhh, you naughty boy…don’t you feel GUILTY? How dare such soiled hand dare to touch God’s annointed?” Common, folks! Run, not walk. toward the exits! This is plot fodder for a cheap horror flick, not a model for how a church should be run.

        • True.

          ….and if any one us looked at another and said, dramatically, “I can see a sin from your past that you still struggle with….”

          Well of COURSE! That is stating the obvious, we all do.

          He scares me.

    • I don’t know that much about the Elephant Room, but I will look into that.

      • I know Elephant Room–it’s situated in the back of a Castro-area San Francisco bar called “the White Swallow.” Not everyone measures up to the qualifications for admission.

  4. I will of course pray for the persecuted Christian minorities in the Muslim world.

    I will of course protect my European civilization and way of life by limiting the interference of Islam (and any religion for that matter) in the public sphere. This includes a ban of veiled women.

    I will of course not forget that, quite oftent, the situation of our brothers in Muslim countries dramamtically deteriorated as a direct result of the illegal invasion of Iraq

    I will not forget that an extremly powerful lobby is still trying to sell us the “clash of civilizations” theory

    • Try to live in ANY Muslim dominated culture (as a Christian), and see if there’s a problem between you and them. Indonesia, for example. No Iraq war over there.

      • He said the situation dramatically deteriorated, not that it was rosy to begin with. I can tell you from having lived for decades in a muslim country that America’s foreign policy blunders have a definite effect on the treatment of Christians in those countries; specifically, they often change things from a manageable heavy prejudice to outright persecution.

        • I would say any country persecuting on the basis of religion has no right to blame another country’s foreign policy for it. It’s not justifiable, under any circumstances. Other countries make foreign policy blunders with America. We don’t start oppressing their people who come over.

      • I lived for a while in Pakistan. There was a long history of a functioning Christian community in all areas of the country. They were not on the top of the pack but they were not marginalized. Something shifted inside the countries. I saw it happen, but I can’t quantify it. I left soon after Sharia law was voted in (mid-90’s); the Christian community is almost at the bottom of society now. Long standing communities and organizations are crumbling under this new mentality.

  5. Those folks who see Mary in the tree have quite the imaginations.

  6. Clay Crouch says

    Over at The American Jeusu blog there is a hilarious parody of a Mars Hill youth pastor job application. Well worth the visit.

  7. In the Slate piece, it talks about the covenant members are expected sign. It says:

    Church members agree to “practice complete chastity before marriage and complete fidelity in heterosexual marriage by abstaining from practices such as cohabitation, pornography, and fornication,” and to refrain from drug use, drunkenness, and “other sinful behavior as the Bible, my pastors, and my conscience dictate.”

    Funny that they put the opinions of the pastor ahead of one’s person conscience. Since when is it a pastor’s place to dictate to members what is and isn’t sin? I would never submit to signing such a thing.

    • Aren’t those conditions already covered by the Ten Commandments? If we’re at the stage where we have to make people sign a contract to join a church that includes “Oh, you know, we don’t permit adultery here” – then we have a really, really big problem that goes beyond methods of church discipline.

      Then again, I would say that, wouldn’t I? On that chart of 19 Christian types, I think I fit in as a mix of Right-Wing Zealot, Superstitious (well, Catholic, aren’t I?), Reactive and Ignoramus (I’d like to think I squeak in as Intellectual due to my long-term Tolkien fangirling, but am I just flattering myself?).

      Though I humbly submit, that not knowing the difference between a crucifix and a cross for the Ignoramus (and what’s the difference between Ignoramus and Superstitious, since you could shoehorn both into the category Populist Catholicism) and that the Superstitious little old ladies wear crucifixes (not rosaries) around their necks and scapulars and holy medals, not saints (ever tried hanging a statue of St. Martin de Porres around your neck?), maybe means the creators of that poster need to look in a mirror themselves 🙂

      Regarding the priest getting his marching orders, the relevant quote there is: “The problem is that when I pray at Mass, I tend to change the words that are written in the book to match what I was talking about, or what a song is about,” Rowe said in an interview.”

      Yes, that is a problem. You are not permitted to extemporise when it comes to the canon of the Mass (you can do all that in the homily, after all) and really, if you’re supposed to be preaching on a text from Isaiah, you really shouldn’t say “Today, my friends, I am going to look at the words of “I Want to Know What Love Is” and what God is saying to us through the prophet Mick Jones”.

      As the articles says later “”But I find it hard to believe a priest in Illinois would be forced to resign because he wasn’t using the exact words from the translation. It’s not a strong enough offense for that.” and we find out that that is correct, because he’s been doing this (and probably other things) for years, he’s been rebuked by two bishops and asked to change, and he just keeps on with “This is how I’m doing things”. He hasn’t been defrocked, he has just been retired, so he’s still a priest and can say private Masses as extemporaneously as he likes.

    • I think that is one characteristic of an authoritarian approach to church governance. The leaders make the decisions; the sheep can’t be trusted to do the right thing. People need “guidance” etc. With a strong authoritarian leader, things often get pushed in that direction.

      And the result can be a homogeneous conformity that is very unlike the diverse and messy ark analogy in the previous post from Beuchener. Give me the church as an ark any day.

    • It’s a shame they don’t want sinners as members of their church. Who else are they going to find?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Sinless Perfect God Squadders just like themselves, of course.

      • They are going to find sinners who will work their tails off to not come across as sinners, with occasional lapses into real honesty and humility of course. There is something about these ultra-specific agreements/covenants that turn the best of women and men into the equivalent of “dry drunks” IMO.

    • Well, if a person wants to really insist that their stealing, murder, and adultery are not sin, at some point the pastor should be able to step in and say, um no, the Bible says otherwise. “Sin” is not an ambiguous term that every believer is free to define for themselves; the law of God is clear and a pastor ought to go to bat for it. The problem is when, in our “interpretation” of God’s law, we begin to double or triple it in size by adding our own “sins” to His list: alcohol, Avatar, feminism, etc…
      If I start cheating on my wife, my pastor is going to have a thing or two to say to me, and I may possibly loose my membership. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes walking together in a life of discipleship involves speaking truths to one another that are somewhat less than pleasant. There’s more to this than making a suggestion, because there’s a lot at stake. Paul was quite clear about how to handle the dude sleeping with his mother-in-law. He didn’t say, “recommend he stop because you think its a sin.” There was a little bit of authority involved in the handling of the affair, though it was far from abusive.

  8. Pastor Jeremiah says

    The Coop has been openly Christian for years! Just check out the lyrics on his album “The Last Temptation” – which is about a young man meeting the devil as carnival barker and only escaping hell by coming to faith. Or “Brutal Planet” or “Dragon Town” which look at this worlds need for Christ and at the denizens of Hell respectively. They’re all fairly blatant statements of faith… well blatant for the one and only Alice Cooper.

  9. Well, while I do think it’s another sideshow in the evangelical circus to parade your dropping pant size before your congregation, on a less theatrical level, I think Warren has a good point. It is poor to stand in front of people being obviously overweight and proclaim to lead them. Just as it would be to be an alcoholic. Gluttony is the elephant in the room (pun intended) in many churches.

    Good piece on the celebrity pastor deal.

    And I’m with the Catholic church on this one. It’s not like they make their expectations unclear. If you don’t want to do it, well…..and I have a feeling it was more than one prayer that pushed this priest from the pulpit. It just makes a more dramatic story to insinuate that it was just this once. Ah, journalism….

  10. Does anyone else find it interesting that Matthew Turner received a comment that said they should treat unrepentant believers as “tax collectors” is quite odd, especially since Jesus had a tax collector disciple and chilled with Zachaeus?

  11. I agree strongly with Matthew Paul Turner’s comments on being a trouble maker. The real problem with Driscoll isn’t his church, because by mega-church standards it isn’t too large. My town has several much larger than his.

    The real problem is that pastors in Baptist and non-denominational churches in my area and all across the country are following him, Acts 29, Piper, and Mohler saying effectively

    “Christianity isn’t about Christ, it is about authority”

    Since when did Calvinism become about authority more than Christ.

    • “Christianity isn’t about Christ, it is about authority”

      That’s a great way to put it, Allen. I will remember that.

    • Since Calvin, to some extent. Some of the goings-on in Calvin’s Geneva make Mark Driscoll look positively libertarian …

      • But Luther did and said some things that weren’t nice at all, but Lutherans tend to brush them off as part of the times and politics in which he lived. Why do neo-Calvinists try to bring 16th century views from Calvin’s times to present day whereas Lutherans tend to relegate them to history?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Some of the goings-on in Calvin’s Geneva make Ayatollah Khomeini look like a copycat.

        • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think it had anything to do with Calvin himself. Wasn’t that kinda stuff par for the course long before Calvin arrived on the scene? Didn’t it continue after his time as well? Is it really fair to judge any person from centuries past by modern standards, as if they were morally obligated to have achieve the same level of enlightenment we enjoy today? Won’t future generations look at us the same way?

          • I think it is fair to judge historical characters by the very transcendent standards they actually (or their Scriptures) claim to own. If you’re promoting your own particular strain of Jesus by killing people who have other strains of Jesus, I think you have to own that one.

          • True, but I think the point is still valid that this isn’t a fair argument against Calvin or calvinism when you consider that it was common practice outside his circle and tradition. The Lutherans, Catholics, and Anglicans did it too, so there isn’t something within Calvinistic theology that causes such behavior, it may have been more causally related to the mindset of the turbulent theocracies then actually to Calvin himself. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that if he were living today he would endorse no such practice.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Since when did Calvinism become about authority more than Christ.

      When It Had Been Predestined To Do, of course.

    • I think the corollary to this (unspoken but clearly sent) is that strong, police-the-boundaries type authority is the best and most Christ like expression of love. I’ve heard a lot of talk about service and love and caring for the body, but I think the default setting is “more authority will accomplish just that”. This makes no sense to me whatsoever in light of Christ who even made his “rights” as a trinity member not a thing to be grasped (see Philipians)

  12. Wow! If only more Christians (self included) could articulate our faith as clearly and gracefully as Alice Cooper does in that interview!

  13. “You know Billy, what worries me is how your mother is going to take this. ” – Nurse Ratched from “One Who Flew Cuckoo’s Nest”…or was it Driscoll, from “One Who Flew Over Mars Hill”? So hard to tell anymore.

  14. “You know that the Catholic liturgy changed at the beginning of the year. Apparently one priest didn’t get the memo. Now he’s in the unemployment line for saying an unauthorized prayer.”

    No, he DID get the memo but REFUSED to follow orders and read it the new way.