January 26, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 3.16.13

w-popedoll-31413Well, iMonks, it has been a very interesting week, has it not? We have a new leader of the church. We also have a new pope. Confused? So were those who selected the Final Four bracket. You ought to see the winner they came up with. And tomorrow—well, tomorrow is a day we all celebrate by turning Kermit the Frog. It’s not easy being green. Shall we ramble?

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church on the fifth ballot this week. He then took the name of Francis, the first of 266 such popes, to take that name. One of the first things the new pope did was to pay his hotel bill. This would not surprise those in the slums of Argentina where Bergoglio often visited, even washing the feet of drug addicts. It seems this pope plans to break many traditions. He has many interesting views on many things. I think I’m really going to enjoy getting to know Pope Francis.


Before the conclave, Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote to his flock, expressing his hope for a quick vote as he was running short of, well, you can find out yourself.

But is Cardinal Bergoglio truly the new head of the Catholic Church? Not according to the results of the Final Four. In a rout, the winner of the Sweet Sistine tournament was Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Nigeria. So, do we have a new schism?

But neither of these men are the leaders of the church, at least not the evangelical church. The new leader of the evangelical church, according to CNN, is …

The man many consider the Baptist Pope has nothing much good to say about Pope Francis, the papacy, or the Catholic Church as a whole. In our next piece of news, we have just received word that the sun is hot.

Oh my. Evangelicalism may be at its end. Rob Bell is about to release another book. We know how his last book almost destroyed Christianity as we know it by suggesting God just might love us. Jonathan Merritt sits down with Bell to discuss how we talk about God and why that matters.

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

Well, ministry these days is very difficult. It even comes with its own new vocabulary. Do you know of any they left out?

Birthday candles were blown out this last week by Bobby Fischer; Charles Gibson; Robin Trower; Barbie; James Earl Ray; Chuck Norris; Jim Valvano; the Ford Mustang; Edie Brickell; Rupert Murdoch; Wally Schirra; Billie “Buckwheat” Thomas; Bill Payne; Walter Annenberg; Adam Clayton; Howard Scott; Ry Cooder; and Mike Love.

Bill Payne founded Little Feat with Lowell George in 1969. George has passed away, but the band lives on. And on. And on. Often called the “hardest working rock and roll band,” if you are not familiar with Little Feat, you should be. Enjoy.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDp3Grz28mE’]


  1. How can Al Mohler stand being right ALL the time? It must be excruciating. I know it is for me.

    • Matt Purdum says


    • Not all the time. Just when he is sitting in throne.

    • Dan Crawford says

      Every time he deigns to provide us with his infallible pronouncements is excruciating for me.

      • I don’t remember the day when white smoke billowed over Louisville anointing him Father of Protestantism.

      • I was gonna say the same thing, Dan. His pronouncements are made with the same infallible ideology that he denounces.

        • Perhaps not infallibilty, but seemingly devoid of any apparent self-criticism and accountability. In the end, what’s the difference? For what ever interpretation Protestants place on Papal infallibility, the Pope is the custodian of the ancient faith and doctrines of the church. He can’t say whatever he wants and suddenly it’s true. I think the Montanist heresy taught that.

    • I read the underlying ABP story from which was taken, where Mohler called out the “adulation and attention and indeed celebrity focus” that is absolutely foreign to evangelical principles.

      “God, I thank you that I am not like other men…”

    • In defence of Dr. Mohler, I read an interview with him which was much less condemnatory of our new pope. So I don’t expect him, as a Calvinist, to embrace the notion of the papacy, and I suppose he was just trying to straighten out the teaching.

      I think he’s wrong in claiming that the pope is a “conduit of divine revelation”; we believe public revelation finished with the death of the last Apostle, and private revelation is not binding as a universal teaching. So infallibility does not mean the pope is a prophet, it means he safeguards the deposit of faith by promulgating correct teaching.

      Anyway, Dr. Mohler isn’t half as critical as some of those on the Traditionalist wing of the Catholic church who, literally within minutes of the announcement of Pope Francis’ election, were denouncing him as next thing to the Anti-Christ who was going to destroy all teaching, forcibly suppress the Tridentine Mass, and turn us all into Episcopalians. This matched those on the progressive wing who – you guessed it – within minutes were alleging he had been not just complicit by silence but had colluded with and aided the Argentinian junta, hid political prisoners for the regime when inspections had been carried out by international bodies, and handed over two Jesuit priests to the Navy for torture. Also, he won’t permit married priests, women priests, divorce, abortion or gay rights, so you can tell he’s really, really evil.

      What a full and busy life he must have led as archbishop of Buenos Aires, simultaneously being right-wing and left-wing, crushing dissent on the one hand and on the other driving out the faithful! 🙂

      My opinion? I don’t know enough about him to know one way or the other. I think, though, that he is the kind of pope the likes of me need. I love Benedict XVI, partly because he was of the mindset that appeals to me; the very things that had more progressive types swooning in horror (wearing the mozzetta? red shoes? seven altar candles!!!!, Latin????) appealed strongly to me as reverencing the history and (small-t) traditions of the Church.

      Pope Francis is not that type. That’s why I need him. It’s too easy to sink into an antiquarian fantasy of the past. He won’t do that. The very things that had the more conservative types swooning (he wouldn’t wear the mozzetta! He barely wore the papal stole long enough to give the blessing! He’s plainly bad when speaking Latin!!!!) are the things that I and my ilk will need to remind us that the Church is made of living stones, not a museum or a laboratory where futurist-minded liturgists try experiments on the subjects in the pews.

      I don’t see him as being heterodox in his beliefs. I think the choice of the name of “Francis” is very meaningful. Forget the popular notion of Francis as the fluffy friend of cuddly animals (he wasn’t and wasn’t particularly what we would nowadays think of as an animal-lover, though he loved and appreciated Nature as the creation of God). Think of Francis who caused scandal to his family, his village, the very clergy themselves. Francis who dressed in patched robes and gathered together rocks and stones to build up again the fallen into disrepair church of St. Damiano.

      I think Pope Francis is going to do things that make me uncomfortable. I think this will be a very good thing.

      • Martha, I’m Joe Nobody Whitebread American Protestant Megachurcher…

        …but from the few things I’ve heard from Pope Francis… I love the guy and could learn a few things from him. 🙂

      • Martha, I haven’t read any of Pope Francis’ writings yet, so I don’t know this for sure, but I am thinking he is not the intellectual giant that Pope Bendict XVI was. I love Pope Benedict’s books. But I am quite sure I am going to like Pope Francis just fine. I didn’t expect that he was going to say, “Let’s have married priests. Let’s have female priests.” I will be happy that he is reinforcing the love of Jesus that is needed by everyone and that he can maintain his humility. I actually think being Pope can make a person MORE humble because so much is expected of a Pope and he knows he cannot do it all. So that can lead to humility and great prayer.

      • Martha, you joke about his opposition to gay rights, but in my book this does indeed qualify as “really, really evil.” His personal charm or positive points do not change this, nor does the fact that most Christians (and probably all the Catholic cardinals) agree with him.

      • My good and lovely wife Alison–the daughter of a Belfast Orangeman–would agree with you Martha. She already likes this Pope Francis. (Francis was also her father’s first name….)


    • Michael Spencer:

      “Infallibility cannot be given to both the successors of Peter and to scripture and still be credible. Luther, again, was right. Popes have erred. Councils have erred. Scripture must be the final authority.”

      Al Mohler:

      “…..that the pope has the opportunity and the responsibility under the powers that are supposedly invested in him, to be a conduit of divine revelation.

      That is something that is anathema, absolutely foreign, absolutely in contradiction to the evangelical principle of sola scriptura — of Scripture alone — and of the affirmation of scriptural authority within the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

      I don’t see much difference here. I think they are both correct. Is it just the “spirit” in which Mohler seems to convey his views that’s the issue?

      • One can disagree, even profoundly, with doctrines like papal infallibility and yet not consider Rome a false church under God’s anathema.

        Michael did not. Al does.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Al is still fighting the Reformation Wars against the Romish Whore of Babylon.

          The Treaty of Westphalia ended the Reformation Wars in 1648; here it is 2013 and some Defenders of the One True Faith STILL haven’t gotten the news.

    • Easy: He isn’t right all the time. He disagrees with ME on a wide number of issues. But yes, being always right can be quite a burden. 😛

  2. petrushka1611 says

    Man, you can post Little Feat any day of the week, and I’m a happy camper!

    “I often say to illustrate the reality of vanity: look at the peacock, how beautiful he is from the front. But if you see him from behind, you see the reality. Whoever falls for this self-referential vanity hides major misery inside him,” said the pope. That last sentence is especially perceptive, and the whole quote is brilliant.

  3. Mohler on the Papacy: Anathema!
    Mohler on Tebow: coward!
    Mohler on SGM: Meh!

  4. Rob Bell’s new book is out and I have it on my Nook. This will be the first of his books I have read. His writing style makes me wince a little; a bit too hipster for an old fogey like me. But I heard that he references Tillich quite a bit, so I am looking forward to reading the rest.

    • I’m not even out of chapter one, and I’m already struggling with Bell’s concept of the “for-ness” of God, i.e. God is for everyone and wants everyone to thrive and flourish. This he places in contrast with those (Piper?) who view God as inherently angry. I don’t know how to say both Bell and his strawman are wrong. In a way, it looks to undermine the point of the rest of the book.

      In my opinion, neither Bell nor Piper provide an escape from therapeutic-moralistic deism. To say God is for everyone or a select few are both man-centered.

      • God’s existence is not to make us happy. That doesn’t make God angry or unkind.

        When we talk about God, I think we need to begin with his is-ness, rather than for-ness. God is first transcendent. Second, God is for himself. That sounds selfish, without realizing God is light, altogether holy. Any love God has for us is meaningless if this foundation of theology is lost.

        • Rob Bell is the ultimate end of the evangelical circus. Nothing in scripture needs to be taken seriously if it makes people sad.

      • dumb ox or others who are reading the book…regarding the “for-ness” aspect…Does Rob Bell ask the question “Why did God create us?” It seems to me the answer to that question is critical to any discussion about whether or not God is “FOR” us, at least to the extreme it sounds like Bell is suggesting.

    • This clip is the ultimate caricature of his writing style: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCNIBV87wV4
      If an Atheist is an Agnostic with cajones, than Bell, imo, is the Agnostic equivalent of a heretic.

    • I am nearing the end of Bell’s new book. So far if he mentions Tillich, it slipped under my radar. I would think his writing style would be quite unsettling for anyone who reads with their eyes rather than their ears.As a matter of fact you can get his book read aloud on CD. It seems to me important to understand that Bell is a musician. Like David.

      I would think that God would not be willing to make an exception even for DumbOx in His being for everyone, but He certainly allows us to reject His being on Our side on our side.. I would sum up the main thrust of Bell’s book as that God is continuously trying to pull us forward both individually and collectively in our spiritual evolution and has been doing so since the get go as recorded over and over in Scripture.

      I would recommend this book to a new Christian or anyone in search of truth. Probably not to someone where the concrete has already set.

      • The writing style is driving me a little crazy. He spends a lot of time regurgitating a lot of scientific facts but not entirely accurately (e.g. weight vs density of a neutron star). I am not finding any references or allusions to Tillich yet, either. I liked the line where he says science explains why we don’t have a tail but not why we find that interesting.

        It’s ok.

        • Saying God is for everyone and wants them to thrive (loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life?) leads no one to the cross. I don’t think this is a depiction of the gracious God for whom Luther searched.

          • Luther helped pull people forward into a new era from where they were 500 years ago, may his good work be honored. Bell believes we are on the cusp of a new era, as do I. In such a situation some make the jump and some hold back. Luther made mistakes too but in my view we are better off with him than without. Unless we continue living in the sixteenth century. Or the twentieth.

          • I think this kinda thought leads back to my question about whether or not Bell explores the idea, “Why did God create us?”

            To be honest, I’m not sure God created us just so we would have to go to the cross. The cross becomes a necessity, yes, but did God create us, just so we’d fall? Are we created, just so Jesus would have to die on the cross?

            Not having read the book, it’s not too much of a stretch for me to assume God is FOR me, wants what’s best for me, wants me to thrive. I do honestly believe that’s a bit why He created us, to enter into relationship with Him and enjoy His works and creation. It’s our sinfulness that then separates us from God’s intent, and the reason FOR the cross. In fact, I’d say the cross is a perfect example of how much God is FOR us…He’s so FOR us that He sent Jesus to die FOR us.

            I’m rambling a bit for someone who hasn’t read the book. I’m intrigued by what has just been bantered around here. And I’m also dropping some deep theological thoughts in these few short paragraphs, stuff with a lot more depth than I’m exploring right now.

    • I like how he takes on the subject of reductionism, similar to Stuart A. Kauffman.

  5. I liked Bell’s book Love Wins very much and look forward to reading his latest.

  6. “The Reformation of the 16th century required a rejection of papal authority and power” and of the papacy as “an unbiblical office that inevitably compromised the authority and sufficiency of Scripture,” Mohler said.


    Mohler is fighting the last war. Even Martin Luther wasn’t fighting against the papacy itself, only the abuses within it. And Pope Leo is dead.

    As the article says, “[Rev. Frank] Ruff said Mohler is ‘operating out of old information, probably from the 16th century.’”

    • I won’t make common cause with Mohler. But regarding Luther, the abuses that he was fighting included the very essential doctrine of papal infallibility, which still is held by the Roman Catholic church, within strict boundaries, it is true, but still claimed to exist when the pope is making moral or doctrinal assertions ex cathedra. Luther acknowledged the primacy of the bishop of Rome in a very limited sense, but he repudiated, among other things, the doctrine of papal infallibility, or conciliar infallibility for that matter. If that was an abuse that existed at the time of the Reformation, then it still exits and it still an abuse.

      That popes are never infallible is a basic Protestant principle.

      • Luther did not contest infallibility as a teaching. It did not become Church teaching until the 19th century. Luther would have been fighting a teaching that did not officially exist.

        • While, as you say, it was not defined until the 19th century, it was practiced before the Reformation, and it was the practice and its results that Luther contested. He would not have been pleased at its subsequent definition, which confirmed the prior practice of centuries. As I said, he repudiated the practice of conciliar infallibility by extension as well by repudiating the exercise of such authority at all.

        • That’s true. At least that’s the first time it was used.

      • Yeah, I don’t think I would have a problem with a supreme pontiff, even in my tradition, so long as his role wasn’t spiritualized to the point of inerrancy.

    • So, reject papal authority and bow to Mohler authority.

      Mohler is partly right. Paul Tillich in his “Protestant Era” describes the Protestant principle in terms of a rejection of heteronomy in favor of not autonomy but his definition of theonomy, which is not the same as the way dominion theologians use the term.

      The problem is that Mohler wants it both ways. Freedom easily becomes a tool for those with the will-to-power to re-enslave those set free. It is why most revolutions end in a junta or new dictatorship.

      • What happens when Protestants stand up and oppose authoritarianism? Driscoll threatens to break their noses.

        • Great comments Ox. I have the same issues with Mohler as many here. He denounces the Pope, but all the while, he’s trying to be the Evangelical Pope.

          Pot, meet kettle.

  7. “God is a God of systems and predictability and order, and God honors planning,” he said. Really?

    Oh – sorry – I can’t stop laughing. That is what I was taught for about 30 years. Then my tornado hit. Life blown to smithereens. I once saw a pack of sticky notes that said, “You want to make God laugh? Make plans”. But I guess Andy cut his teeth on his Dad’s study Bible. “Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible” The “if you do this – God will do this” way of living. Oh my – I always expect a chuckle from you Jeff but this morning, well I may laugh all weekend over this one!

    • Well, God, after all is a Baptist. He probably enjoys a good potluck supper as well (as long as there’s no drinking or dancing afterwards…).

    • Dear God, rescue the “principle” from the Stanley crowd. “Principles” used to be eternal truths about God upon which you could build your life. Now they have become leverage for manipulating him into giving us what we want to be happy without him.

    • That’s one thing I like so far about Rob Bell’s new book. He takes on the Enlightenment notion of certainty head-on. But then he says God wants everyone to thrive, which seems to bring certainty in the back door after kicking it out the front door.

    • Great comments, thanks for sharing them.

      I too have grown weary of Evangelicals who make God into a Jeanie in a bottle. I do X so that God will do Y.

      Serious question: does Stanley even view himself as a pastor these days, or is he simply a Tony Robbins?

  8. connie odonnell says

    Great Little Feat!

    As for me, no matter what the doctrinal wonks say, I never pay attention to those that like to provide a schism view between Catholicism and Protestantism.

    We are all in God’s world. He has the plan. And only He determines what and how we should live. Everyone on earth is merely human, and only that.

    Simple celebration of faith, inwardly and outwardly —- that is what God has charged us with.

    Teriffic Saturday post, as usual! 🙂

  9. Some of what I’ve learned about the new Pope I’ve liked : the touches of ordinariness such as paying his own hotel bill, his work with the poor in Argentina, his avoidance of an opulent lifestyle, his stated desire to tear down walls between people and the church rather than putting them up. But from the first moment that I heard a South American cardinal had been elected Pope, without even knowing anything about him specifically, I anticipated that there might be political and ethical complications due to the terrible political and civil turmoil, and civil violence, that has rocked many South American nations for so long, in which so many people in positions of power, secular and religious, have been implicated because of the pervasiveness of the problems. As it turned out, my premonition was correct: questions have been raised about Pope Francis’ actions ( or inaction) during the brutal government suppression of dissidents and their associates termed the “Dirty War” in the 1970s. There have been longstanding accusations that at the time Bergoglio, as the head of the Jesuit order in Argentina, did not resist the government violence or protect his priests and other workers by strongly supporting them when they resisted the government. None of this is surprising or hard to understand. In the ethical ambiguity and exigencies of such civil disorder and fear, people can make the wrong choices, and it’s all too easy in hindsight to be critical of what necessarily was a context of moral uncertainty and confusion. But the issue isn’t really what happened several decades ago. From the perspective of a broad Christian understanding, people make mistakes, even sin, in this less than perfect world with their own less than perfect motives. There is repentance and learning and moving on and new beginnings. The real issue is to what extent that process of admitting, repenting, learning and moving on to new beginnings was actually undertaken, and to what extent the truth was denied and suppressed from the beginning, and the process never even begun. If it’s true, or perhaps only perceived to be true, that the real history of this man who is the new Pope involving the events of that time was suppressed, the issue will dog him, and undermine both his credibility and the credibility of the church he leads, for the rest of his tenure. Such a denial of the past and culpability for past actions is directly related to the institutional tendency the RCC has exhibited in suppressing the facts surrounding the multitude of child abuse scandals that have been rocking it now for some time; if the new Pope is himself implicated in such denials in the case of his own biography, one could hardly expect him to be able to address the systemic issues of secrecy and suppression of evidence and truth involved in the child abuse issue. And that would be a major handicap and failing.

    Time will tell.

  10. It is nice to see someone acting even a little like Jesus

  11. Jeff ~ I am surprised you missed the “angel over the Vatican photo” this week. Heavenly white smoke I guess.


    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      It’s probably just the latest example of “Mary-in-a-Tortilla” Syndrome, but that cloud IS unusual.

  12. How is the Andy Stanley blurb even news? That has totally been his modus operandi from the very beginning. His motto has always been to build a church that un-churched people would love to attend. The problem is, that while he feigns at modifying the style and leaving the substance intact, that is not what he really does. Case in point, later in the article:

    “People are not on a truth quest; they are on a happiness quest,” he said. “They will continue to attend your church – even if they don’t share your beliefs – as long as they find the content engaging and helpful

    There. The content is and substance is now modified to meet their interests. Give them bread and circuses, and then perhaps they will start to desire Christ, because at least they will be repeat customers, even if they never share your beliefs.

    I actually agree that God is a god of systems, predictability, and order. This is shown in the laws of nature, and in His character: He will ALWAYS forgive a repentant sinner, quite predictably. He will always condemn sin.

    However, the rub lies with His “honoring planning.” Where does that come from? The plans He honors are his own. He’ll throw us a bone to the extent we get on board with His agenda, only it’s probably not the “bone” we’re looking for.

    “We want to move people physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We want to take them from where they are to the place where we think God wants them to be.”

    There it is: Revivalism. Get people all worked up so they’ll buy the Jesus you’re selling: Santa Clause of the American Dream.

    And Stanley acuses Jesus of modeling this approach? Has he EVER read the Gospels? Talk about narcigesis.

    I agree that opening up your services to unbelievers doesn’t mean dumbing it down. So why is it that so few of the leading innovators are actually doing that?

    the North Point Ministries model to “engage, involve, and challenge people” is designed to introduce them to a relationship with Jesus and emphasized that “the ultimate win is life change.”

    Not forgiveness of sins. Not saving faith in Christ. Not faithful proclamation of the good news of the kingdom of God. Exhibit 1A for moralistic, therapeutic deism. For shame. End rant.

  13. That Tomlin is considered the leader of the Evangelical church is unsurprising given that in American culture musicians and movie stars are looked to as role models and Evangelicalism basically tries to mirror American culture in order to keep the Gospel “relevant, “appealing,” etc. American culture cycles through reverencing popular artists at a very rapid rate and Evangelicalism seems to do the same with their “leaders” as well (though Tomlin seems to be an exception to this rule).

    • Agree. I try to go easy on CCM worship stars, especially since this particular one has authored pieces I tend to use from time to time, but the celebrity worship they unintentionally (I hope) garner reveals a misplaced focus in the life of the church. Too often anything these guys put out is sanctioned by virtue of its author rather than its content. Not all of their stuff sung in churches is the best.

      I’ll give Tomlin major kudos for emphasizing singability. Too many in the CCM give this little to no concern, which often contributes to making uber-contemporary services resemble more spectatorial rock shows. Crowder has actually been outspoken against the need for singability in worship music.

      And so I have a love/hate relationship with these type of musicians. I resent the fact that I am forced into regurgitating their every musical thought in order to achieve familiarity with the congregation I serve. I appreciate that Tomlin seems to avoid more of the charismatic extremes/spiritualization of the experience that many other worship stars get into. I resent the fact that often CCM songs are nothing more than a series of cliches strung together with a mediocre melody and that evangelicals have precious little aesthetic discernment to realize this. But I appreciate that many of Tomlin’s songs are simple in a good way, easy to teach to a congregation, and memorable. I have some hope that some of these guys will aspire to greater songwriting than what is necessary to sell records, and consider the spiritually formative effect they wield on the church for the grave responsibility it truly is. What we truly need is reflective poetry by theologians, not Jesus jingles by rock stars.

      It’s been said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Woe to the church whose music assists in living unexamined lives. Sacred song has so much potential to do the exact opposite.

  14. On that terminology list: “worshiplatypus” is pretty near to what happens in our congregation about 50% of the time. Ironically, it actually works well for our eclectic and diverse assembly. You’d be surprised how well Gregorian chant can be rendered on a Stratocaster.

  15. Why the Pope picked the name he did:

    “Some people wanted to know why the Bishop of Rome wished to be called Francis. Some thought of Francis Xavier, Francis De Sales, and also Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. During the election, I was seated next to the Archbishop Emeritus of São Paolo and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes: a good friend, a good friend! When things were looking dangerous, he encouraged me. And when the votes reached two thirds, there was the usual applause, because the Pope had been elected. And he gave me a hug and a kiss, and said: “Don’t forget the poor!” And those words came to me: the poor, the poor. Then, right away, thinking of the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of all the wars, as the votes were still being counted, till the end. Francis is also the man of peace. That is how the name came into my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation; these days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we? He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor! Afterwards, people were joking with me. “But you should call yourself Hadrian, because Hadrian VI was the reformer, we need a reform…” And someone else said to me: “No, no: your name should be Clement”. “But why?” “Clement XV: thus you pay back Clement XIV who suppressed the Society of Jesus!” These were jokes.”

  16. So Chris Tomlin is the new leader of evangelicalism? Very well. I have nothing really against the man (apart from the line “and like a flood, his mercy reigns”) but his ouvre illustrates a rather confusing convergence of forms. To wit:

    I’m uncomfortable at a church service in which the “worship pastor” leads what appears to be a concert.

    I’m uncomfortable at a concert (for which I’ve bought a ticket ) that turns into what appears to be a worship service.

    Tomlin appears at least to understand this predicament — people paid to hear him and so don’t want to just sing along. Whether he’ll ultimately embrace the term “worship’ in its historical breadth, we’ll have to wait to see, I suppose.

    By the way, a fun game you can play whenever you get in the car is this: switch to your Fish affiliate and note the artist whose song they’re playing. If it’s by Tomlin, Mercy Me, Casting Crowns, or Third Day, give yourself +2 points. Otherwise give yourself -1. After a month or so of adding these points up, you should be in positive territory.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Fish has got a real limited playlist, huh?

      Bad as MTV in its early years (Twisted Sister six times every hour?!?!?) or that one oldies station with a repeating playlist of only 20 songs (10 of them “Dope is Groovy” and the other 10 “Get Out of VIETNAAAAAM!”)?

    • Brianthedad says

      Is it possible the lyric is “and like a flood, his mercy RAINS”? I’ve never seen the album jacket/official lyrics, so I don’t know. Reigns is how it is printed in our bulletin. This has bothered me as well, being a member of the grammar, spelling and proper usage police. (that’s GSPU Police. we are self-appointed, non-elected, and generally unappreciated.)

      • Brilliant question, Brianthedad! I too haven’t seen the original jacket. I shall investigate…

        Looking at various sources on-line, it appears that “reigns” is indeed the standard rendering, though some lyrics are printed with “(rains)” as an optional bone for the likes of you and me.

        Actually, I still don’t like “rains” all that much either. Floods flow and scour and uproot: apart from cats and dogs, it’s generally only rain that rains.

  17. Pastor Mac says

    Question of the moment–is the doctrine of Petrine supremacy locked in stone in the same way as, say, the pronouncements of Trent or Nicea? Is it immutable? Or is it simply understood that communion with the Successor of Peter must be basis of all ecumenical activity? Could Francis take that humility he has come to be known for & simply state that the Bishop of Rome is simply equal with any other bishop in apostolic succession as the Orthodox claim (rightly, imho). I see in Francis a real opportunity for finally repairing The Great Schism but if Petrine supremacy is untouchable that means he’s locked in cement and consequently the terms of reunification the same–the eastern Patriarchs must bow and kiss the Roman Patriarch’s ring. JP II & Benedict were both very, very clear on this and I know the Roman right wing would have not just a cow but an entire stable of farm animals if Roman preeminence was comprised in the least. Can anyone comment?

    • Petrine supremacy is definitely locked in stone. But the thing is, the East would agree with Petrine supremacy–at least, a version of it. I’ve seen Metropolitan Ware give a speech where he said that if East and West were reunited, it would be under the headship of the Bishop of Rome. The disagreement is over how that headship plays out. I couldn’t give you a very good description, other than to say that West takes a more monarchical view, and the East takes a more collegial view.

      • Margaret Catherine says

        If Pope Francis is as collegial in his ecclesiology as he has so far appeared in person – and with the Patriarch of Constantinople set to attend his installation Mass – well, one can hope!!

        • The East would not agree to the doctrine of Papal infallibility, even if defined narrowly. If Rome were to surrender that doctrine, it would cease to be the historical Roman Catholic Church and in fact be adopting the doctrine and understanding of Eastern Orthodoxy; the pope would be first in honor among equals as Bishop of Rome, but he would have no more claim to infallibility or authority than any of his peers would. And, though I may be wrong about this, Eastern Orthodoxy while claiming authority does not claim infallibility for even ecumenical councils; rather, they stand by tradition and precedent as practically but not infallibly authoritative for the faith and worship of the church, which includes extreme reluctance to make any new ecumenical proclamations that would contradict earlier official statements of earlier ecumenical councils. If any one out there is knowledgeable about this and listening, please correct me if I’m incorrect about the EO position. However that may be, such a change would not create reconciliation between the EO/RC churches and we separated Protestant brethren, many of whom, like myself, can recognize neither Papal infallibility nor the requirement to follow collegial orthodox tradition in all its particulars, but continue to measure both Roman Catholic doctrine and Eastern Orthodox tradition by their conformity to biblical proclamation and the spirit of Christian liberty that came out of the Reformation rediscovery of justification by faith alone.

          • Could they perhaps agree that the doctrine is binding only upon diocese under Roman jurisdiction?

          • It would be an odd reconciliation that required subscription to a doctrine in one locale and prohibited it in another of a single church communion; and remember that in some places, there is an EO church right down the street from an RC church (or three RC churches). And then there’s the question of divorce, which EO allows in some cases, but RC does not allow at all, requiring annulment. Get married indissolubly on one side of the street, and after your divorce join the parish on the other side.

            It sounds a little like Anglicanism.

        • I wouldn’t read too much into the Ecumenical Patriarch attending the installation. That has been common practice for quite some time (going back to at least John Paul I and I think even before that).

          • Pastor Mac says

            Uh, no. This is the first time the Patriarch of Constantinople has attended an installation/enthronement since at least the Great Schism and possibly since the 8th century. What I saw this AM w/ Francis exchanging the peace w/ Bartholomew *at the altar* made my jaw drop.

    • From his address today to the media, Pope Francis:

      “Christ is the Church’s Pastor, but his presence in history passes through the freedom of human beings; from their midst one is chosen to serve as his Vicar, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Yet Christ remains the centre, not the Successor of Peter: Christ, Christ is the centre. Christ is the fundamental point of reference, the heart of the Church. Without him, Peter and the Church would not exist or have reason to exist. As Benedict XVI frequently reminded us, Christ is present in Church and guides her. In everything that has occurred, the principal agent has been, in the final analysis, the Holy Spirit. He prompted the decision of Benedict XVI for the good of the Church; he guided the Cardinals in prayer and in the election.”

      Make of that what you will 🙂

      Already, there are a lot of people trying to read the tealeaves – will he dismantle all the reforms of the liturgy Benedict made? Is he a progressive? What will he do about the Jesuits/the Curia/left-handed liturgical dancers with a wooden leg?

    • Both John Paul I and Benedict stated that acceptance of no teaching after the schism would be required of the Orthodox. The Popes since Paul VI have been working to redefine how the papacy could work in a United church. The Church has made it clear that it can and will redefine the practice of the Petrine ministry to reunite the Church.

  18. Did you see the meme – the pope is checking out of the hotel, and says:
    “Oh yeah, that’s right. I checked in under a different name…”

  19. So far I’m rather impressed with Pope Francis. Time will tell. I’m considerably less impressed with Mohler, but at least his take wasn’t as harsh as the recent invective from John MacArthur on his blog, which ironically was followed by a rather decent series of posts on what pastors should be and what makes an excellent shepherd. That series pointed out a number of the qualities that the new pope seems to have. Sometimes I really wonder how these guys and their followers don’t implode from the cognitive dissonance.

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