September 19, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 2.26.11

They’re selling independence, actors in the White House, acid indigestion, mortgage on my life, mortgage on my life. Ramble tamble. Ramble tamble. CCR says they’re ready. Are you ready to ramble? Then let’s do it.

I would really like you to stop and listen to the message by Rod Rosenbladt—“Christianity In Five Verses.” This is a very dangerous message—dangerous for those who insist that the gospel is more than … well, you listen to this and then tell me why anything else would ever need be added.  And the great thing is, this message is free, provided by our friends at New Reformation Press.

Someone named “Oscar” is in the news again. Handing out awards for moving pictures. I hear they even have sound now a-days. A number of nominees this feature a strong redemption theme. I’ll be digging out a black and white movie and watching it, just to drive my kids mad.

Here’s a movie I doubt I’ll see, so I’ll rely on you to tell me all about it: The Genesis Code. It supposedly reconciles science and religion. Ok.

How do Christian athletes reconcile making as much money as they do? Should St. Louis Cardinal baseball player Albert Pujols really be swinging for a $30 million a year contract? And if he gets it, what should he do with the money? And…here is the biggie…is it any of our business? Did Wesley have athletes in mind when he said, “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can”?

Ok, this is about a year old, but…all I can say is, I went to church here, I would certainly tithe. On the count of “three Jesuses?” In all seriousness, this is not just goofy. This is about as blasphemous as I have ever heard.

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Today is the holiest day of the year. At least it is for me. It is the annual Holland Hall Book Fair. Holland Hall is a private prep school here in Tulsa. Their book fair is know far and wide. I’ve been going for 25 years or so, and my friend Mike has been going for more than 40 years. So if you are in the Tulsa area, be sure to drop by and get some great bargains. But be sure you are behind me in line. And remember, once we are inside, I don’t know you.

Happy birthday this week to Lee Marvin; Smokey Robinson; Karen Silkwood; Prince Andrew; Bobby Unser; Walter Becker; Ted Kennedy; George “Sparky” Anderson; Dr. J; Peter Fonda; Johnny Winter; Abe Vigoda; and Zeppo Marx.

Here is a very young Walter Becker performing with Don Fagen in their group, Steely Dan. Becker is the one with the long stringy hair playing the bass. Fagen is the lead singer and keyboardist. Tell me, who is uglier: Donald Fagen or Stephen Tyler of Aerosmith? Any way, happy birthday, Walter. We sure enjoy your music.

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  1. Love Steely Dan. That was back when talent mattered more than sporting a “Bieber”.

  2. Neat to see Bill Cosby from 1973. I like Steely Dan too.

    I hope you find some great finds at the book sale, Jeff!

    • I did, Joanie! Thanks! Now I’m off to the victory luncheon to celebrate another successful book fair…(best find: The Once And Future King by T.H. White. Hardback for fifty cents…)

  3. Another Rosenbladt classic.

  4. That Creflo video makes be physically nauseated.

  5. If you look carefully at the cover of Fagan’s “Nightfly,” you’ll notice that he doesn’t seem to have any fingernails. Real? Airbrushed? Who cares what he looks like; he’s a phenomenal musician. Actually, he’s better looking than Steve Tyler.

    Is that Skunk Baxter on guitar?

  6. Rod R. is always great.

    Here’s some more audio that is very quick to listen to, and worth a couple of minutes:

  7. I’ll listen to “Christianity In Five Verses,” but Bono already beat him; he summarized Christianity in 3 words: “Grace Over Karma.” Take a read:

    • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

      DUDE! That’s freakin’ awesome!

      • Well, technically Bono didn’t say those words; the author or the editor did when titling this part of the interview (they’re not a chapter title in Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas, though they may be a section head; I couldn’t view those pages either at Amazon or in Google Books).

        IMO it’s a perfect summary of what Bono said, though, which was:

        Later in the conversation:
        Assayas: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

        Bono: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

        Assayas: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

        Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

        Assayas: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

        Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

        Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

        Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

        • VolAlongTheWatchTower says

          Hail St. Paul (Hewson, Bono’s real name) of Dublin!

          To Joanie’s post, Cosby’s coming to West TN very soon, but ya gotta have his Coke money to get in. “Coke Money”, sorry, didn’t think that through…

          On Steely Dan, WERE a great band, then that whole “Crimson Tide” thing, more evil in that song than Slayer’s combined catalog.

    • Okay, I listened to Rosenblatt, but I think Bono says it better in that interview. YMMV

  8. The “Genesis Code” is just another recycling of the discredited, old-universe/young-earth creationist scientific theories of Dr. Russell Humphreys:

    Yawn. Sadly, the movie just might prove to be a “hit” in the Evangelical world, much like “Left Behind” and “The Omega Code.”

    • David Cornwell says

      This kind of fundamentalists have never understood or liked mystery in Christianity. Everything has to be “rationally” explained, spelled out, down to the dotting of the punctuation. I dismissed this stuff as silly when I was 19 and have never looked back (now 73). Now they are making a fortune with their nonsense.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        op cit the Original Internet Monk on “MAO Inhibitors — the lack of Mystery, Awe, and Otherness”, 31 May 2007.

        Everything has to be “rationally” explained, spelled out, down to the dotting of the punctuation.

        And Death to All Heretics and Apostates — we’ve seen enough of “parsing Theology not just word-for-word but letter-by-letter and dot-by-dot” and the resulting Anathemas in the comment threads of this blog. YEC and End Time Prophecy are two of the things that bring them out of the woodwork like Homosexuality.

        YEC and Darbyite Secret Rapture Eschatology are often found together. (And a common thread among Evangelicalese “hits” from Genesis Code to Omega Code.) It’s like they don’t want a Cosmos bigger than a Punyverse so they can have everything all figured out “down to the dotting of the punctuation”, plus some sort of death wish that Nothing can possibly come after themselves and they’re in a hurry to get to The End.

        And “Genesis Code” implies and echoes that software-aided Bibliomancy, “The Bible Code”. Secret Codes embedded in the holy books that only those with Properly-Parsed Theology, True Gnosis, and the proper Secret Decoder Rings can crack.

  9. Re: MacArthur. Seriously! Paul was not talking about obeying civil authorities AT ALL COST. What about Moses, who was not a spiritual liberator of the people, but a literal liberator of the oppressed Hebrew people. And what about the over 350 verses where God commands care for the poor? At some point when caring for the poor, do we really think God would not ‘ordain’ us at least asking WHY they are poor? And seeing the reasons for poverty as SIN to be exposed and fought against?!?

    MacArthur is my brother in Christ, but as I would do to my fleshly brother if he said something like this, I’d give him a wedgie!

    • Niles said: “At some point when caring for the poor, do we really think God would not ‘ordain’ us at least asking WHY they are poor? And seeing the reasons for poverty as SIN to be exposed and fought against?!?” Really? ALL the reasons are sin? Maybe as a result of Adam’s fall they are sin, maybe when substance abuse and ignorance or oppression are the reasons for poverty. But do you really think that every human has the capacity to be successful, to lift themselves out of poverty? Do you really think ALL people have the intelligence and innate character to become “middle class”? If so then you are an Utopian or a Marxist because all people are NOT created equal. Maybe under the LAW they are equal (and I can even argue against THAT!) but biologically, intellectually, emotionally and developmentally they are NOT!

      I’m not arguing AGAINST helping the poor but I AM arguing that poverty can NEVER be eliminated. We are to do our utmost to help those we can and to pray for those we cannot help. Government is NOT the answer!

      • Government is not the answer. But it is part of the answer. At least God thought so, or he would not have had laws requiring help for the poor in Israel, the only nation he ever founded. What you read in the Torah was not simply good spiritual advice or even commandment. It was theocratic government ordinance. Care for the poor was part of their national system, enforced by the government.

        • That would be nice Chaplain Mike, but that was a compact between God an Israel. They were to be a “light to the nations” by way of example and it would be good if nations followed their example, but without acknowledging the Source it can never be effective.

          At best, we can try to relieve the suffering, but even salvation through Christ will not make the intellectually disadvantaged smart, the emotionally deficient instantly whole or give strength of character to those whose character is weak. It can HELP, and in some cases help immensely, but overall they will still be poor.

        • > Care for the poor was part of their national system, enforced by the government. <

          Yes! And the same can be said of theocratic medieval Europe. In every community there was a Commons which even the poorest had access to, and could be used to graze a milk cow or a few geese, or to gather firewood or berries or acorns. It was one of the greatest anti-poverty programs ever devised.

        • Thank you!

      • All are equal in the eyes of God. That’s really all that should matter. One’s value is not based on intelligence or ability, but on inherent worth as one created in God’s image. That goes for everyone. Lots of evils will never be totally eliminated in this world. That’s not an excuse for caving to them.

  10. I like listening to dangerous sermons! It makes me realize it’s all much more radical than all the religions of the world put together! Including Churchianity! My favorite line was…….Grace is the opposite of earning.

  11. I’m starting to develope a serious mistrust of all preachers. It used to be just TV preachers, but now it’s starging to include all of them.

    • Ah Tim, I understand the temptation that way, but they are not all bad. There are myriad preachers across the land who are underpaid and overworked, yet who love those whom they shepherd. You’ll find their churches most weeks with half-full parking lots and a ten year old Toyota in the pastor’s spot. Inside you will hear a preacher who will not be invited to preach at any pastors’ conventions in the near future. And after church the people who are streaming out will not look any noticeably different than when they went in. That’ s because the transformation takes place during their week when this shepherd visits their mother in law in the hospital. Or comes to hear their daughter’s piano recital. Or eats one more chicken dinner at their table.

      They are there, Tim. They are there.

  12. Dr. Rosenbladt is a fine speaker with a very pleasing voice. He seems to be a kind person.

    The following is my perspective only, for information; I am not enjoining this on anyone, merely explaining my reaction. I couldn’t listen to the sermon for long, because what I heard him say was the same thing I heard over and over and over and over as an evangelical. It’s good coverage of the legal problem we supposedly have with God (or that God supposedly has with us). But the legal problem isn’t the only problem. The “gospel” in five verses simply doesn’t cover very much of my actual life, especially the part (most of it) that I am living in space and time after I receive God’s forgiveness. This became a bigger frustration for me the longer I was an Evangelical. Dividing “justification” from “sanctification” made less and less sense to me, and what Dr. R. is doing is still cobbling together a bunch of verses that have no connection to what Jesus taught; the divide between Jesus and Paul of Tarsus is as wide as ever. There is no narrative; there’s simply a string of assertions. Paul of Belfast (Bono) has it down in one sentence. “Grace defies reason and logic; love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions.” THAT is what the cross is, not payment. Payment is just another way of saying “karma”. Explaining the Western Church’s Gospel *nicely* doesn’t change that.

    My turn to Orthodoxy was primarily theologically driven, and this issue (What is “the gospel”?) was one of the engines. The answers Western Christianity gave just weren’t big enough for me and simply did not hold together with one another. N.T. Wright’s exposition of the worldview of C1 Jews (including their story, symbol, praxis and questions) and how Jesus and his words and actions not only meshed with that worldview but also propelled it into a meaning for all humanity was so illuminating of scripture and made its narrative so cohesive and gave me Jesus as a person I could actually fall on my face and worship, that it made me at first hope that I could somehow be a “Wrightian Prostestant”. But I couldn’t find a way to do that within the Western way of looking at things. Because Wright’s view is so congruent with Orthodoxy (about 85% is my estimate), once I began finding out what Orthodoxy *is*, the way became clear for me. There wasn’t much beyond that that I had to work through – though there were a couple of important things.

    These might help explain:
    more complex:


    • Dr.Rosenbladt’s clear message from this and many of his others is that the gospel message has been lost in the church. It has been replaced by (1) law light, (2) other gospels, and (3) is not explicitly proclaimed to believers and unbelievers every single Sunday. (and it should be)

      It is simply this: That Christ died for sinners, He died for you and me.
      “Dividing justification and sanctification”: Your contention is not supported by his lecture, his previous lectures, or his church affiliation.

      Dr. Rosenbladt is not talking about “what Jesus taught.” What Jesus taught is not the gospel. The Gospel is a specific event in history, 2000 years ago, Christ crucified for you. Jesus points to the gospel, our sinful nature, and His crucifixion for sinners.

      Yes Jesus’ death on the cross has implications. It rescues me from sin, death, and the devil. It raises me a new creature in Christ as I struggle with my sinful nature.

      Dr.Rosenbladt is not an “American Evanglical”. He is an LCMS Lutheran.

      Dr.Rosenbladt’s court room analogy is grace, in a real and palpable way.

      “I am living in a time and space after I receive Gods forgiveness”. Dr. Rosenbladt is challenging the conventional dogma that the gospel of Christ crucified gets you in the door and then you move on to the real work of a Christian. He is asserting that the life of the Christian should be saturated in the gospel message. For me this became a reality. I attended numerous churches that assumed the gospel and taught law, moral implications, etc. This left me exhausted and broken. Five years ago (after 15 years away from the church) I found a church (a church found me) that preaches Christ crucifed every week. I literally hear the words “Christ died for sinners, He died for you.” “At Christ’s command, I proclaim that all your sins are forgiven”. At communion, “Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins. ” All words of forgiveness, Gods grace towards me. Does Jesus have moral exhortations? Absolutely. Are they the gospel? No way. Do they point out my sin and my need for the gospel? Absolutely.

    • Dana-
      I had a chance to review the video (pithlessthoughts) you posted. I have 2 comments:
      1) His representation of the “protestant” view implied “decisional theology” is part and partial to protestantism. This is not a position held by Lutherans, Calvinists, and to my knowledge most orthodox protestant denominations. Both Lutherans and Calvinists hold to the doctrin that Christ brings his saving grace to individuals unilaterally as a gift. Evengelicalism however is more of a mixed bag.

      2) His “orthodox” representations was entirely consistent (to the best that I could tell) with Lutheran and reformed protestant traditions except that Jesus is the mediator between the seats. He said little/nearly nothing of Christ. Nonetheless the chasing of God after you/me/us, His favor and Grace towards us is most real evident and palpable in Christ.

    • Read the following to get an idea of what it means to believe and practice what the Orthodox Church teaches:

    • Dana,

      I viewed the post and the video. Other than an oversimplification of the Protestant view bordering on a straw man fallacy, neither presentation seemed to offer much more than a difference in emphasis to the ‘Evangelical view’. Most evangelicals could agree with most things in both presentations.( I know there are much deeper divides between the Orthodox and the West, I just don’t think either presentation really touched on them.)

      The problem for the East is that the language of the Scriptures regarding salvation is primarily legal in the NT. (Yes, I am aware of other language too, but the primary texts use the legal terms.)

      In the OT the entire worship of Israel in the Tabernacle and later the Temple is all about atonement for sins. Sacrifice, propitiation, imputation, atonement, all pointing to Christ and His work on our behalf.

      I can appreciate the different Scriptural emphases that fill out the picture of God’s relationship with us,( family, adoption, children, people of God) but at the end of the day, He chose to speak to us about Himself and His work on our behalf primarily in these terms and structured Israel’s worship around them.

      This, and synergy,are why I cannot go East

  13. Rob, thanks for your thoughts.

    I know there are differences between E’icals and the others you mentioned. I’m glad you have found restoration from your exhaustion and brokenness; surely God is there for that to have been held out to you. I’m glad what you found makes sense to you.

    A couple of notes.

    “Christ died for sinners, He died for you and me” and Salvation as unilateral gift of God : Absolutely. No contention about that, or about hearing it every week. Where we would probably disagree is in the understanding of *how* we are rescued from sin, death and the devil. The cross is awesome; and what about the incarnation, life, resurrection and ascension of the Lord? And Mt, Mk and Lk clearly state that Jesus was announcing The Gospel, that is, the good news… about…… the kingdom of God. If scripture interprets scripture, how does Jesus’ announcement mesh with what Paul is talking about? What about the summation of “the gospel: in Rom 1:3-4? What does Jesus being Jewish actually have to do with all of this, and wouldn’t that begin to constitute a link with Paul? It is these and other knotty questions that were not addressed in a cohesive, “unified field” sort of way for me, and believe me, I paid attention to what was offered as answers for these things, from whichever direction they came. I could go on with questions about the particulars of your replies, but that’s not the point. As I said, I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, except that in my experience, Dr. R. was not saying anything new or different; if what he says and how he says it helps people come to Jesus, that’s good.

    As for your observation that Jesus is “the mediator between the seats”, one of the points of the presentation is that the whole Trinity is involved in this thing called “salvation”, and that the Trinity never, ever “turns away”, but always does everything to seek and save that which is lost, even to the point of going with mankind to Sheol. In Orthodoxy, the “mediation” of Jesus is not primarily about him bearing the brunt of God’s wrath, but rather the Second Person of the Trinity becoming incarnate, and at the same time being the Truly Human Being and offering himself as we were meant to offer ourselves completely, but could not do. If one begins to dig even a little deeper, the theological differences between Orthodoxy and all “flavors” of Protestantism become more apparent (and Roman Catholicism, too; Orthodoxy is not simply the Roman ritual done in Greek).

    Again, glad to hear you’re satisfied where you are and have found restoration; that’s good. May the Lord bless it.


  14. Loved the Dr. Rod Rosenblatt podcast. First things first – and yes, we continue to need that message from the i-monastery.

    I am still reeling, however, from Chaplain Mike’s post on John MacArthur, and it may be strong to say that it ruined my weekend, but dang I was hot about that. Because I am a Christian, I will forgive you guys (imagine a long string of bible verses) at some point in my life. My only request is to post those types of things on Tuesdays! 🙂

    Thanks for all you do.