August 10, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 5.22.10

Thanks to Adam Palmer for filling in for me last week as I was away. But now I have returned from the wilderness … of the Colorado Rockies. Not the baseball team, but the actual mountains. It snowed more than a foot where I was. Do they understand the concept of springtime in Colorado? We know it well here at the Internet Monk. We are up for some spring cleaning, which means it is time for our weekly Saturday Ramblings …

Jonathan Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, told other ministry leaders gathered at the Refuel Conference this week that pastors and ministries have the wrong view of success. This could be a major reason, he says, why so many pastors are looking to get out of their vocation. Personal word: Jonathan was a literary client of mine, and I know him well. He is genuine. I have been with him in his church and heard him talking to those he shepherds. He knows people by name, knows what is going on in their lives. He is one of the good ones–he gets it.

Perhaps in a related story, membership in the Southern Baptist Convention continues to decline, even though the number of baptisms has increased. Thom Rainer is concerned that it takes 46 Southern Baptists to lead one person to Christ. (Commence your “how many Baptists does it take to get one person saved” jokes now.) I wonder what the ratio is in other denominations? More than that, I wonder how they came up with this number? And what would happen if you had 46 Southern Baptists surround you and share the Gospel with you? I think I would get saved.

Adam Palmer spotted this announcement, which either sounds ominously like the end of the world, or the plot of a bad scifi movie. Part of the article reads, “We have now accomplished the last piece on the list that was required to do what ethicists called ‘playing God’. What that literally means is the capacity to be a creator.” Your thoughts?

Dale Mcalpine, the British street evangelist who was recently arrested for telling a bypasser that homosexuality is a sin, has had all charges against him dropped. Reading the article, it is a little scary just how restrictive the law in England is regarding speech. Does this bother you at all?

Moishe Rosen, the founder of Jews for Jesus, passed away this week at the age of 78. Rosen founded Jews for Jesus in 1973 and was the executive director until 1996.

Billy Graham is hoping to preach one more time. The 91-year-old evangelist is considering options, including preaching at the Charlotte Panthers’ stadium in 2011. He and his family are considering other possibilities and taking into account Graham’s frail health. Who here would not want to hear Billy Graham preach one more sermon? What would be his topic?

Birthdays this week include the second installment in the original Star Wars trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back, marking its 30th; George Brett, Hall of Fame third sacker for the Kansas City Royals; Maureen O’Sullivan (Tarzan’s Jane); Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells); Henry Fonda; Olga Korbut; Dennis Hopper; Janet Jackson; Sugar Ray Leonard; Sarah Palin Tina Fey; Pete Townshend of the Who; Jimmy Stewart; Cher; and Joe Cocker. And to honor the Mad Dog and Englishman himself, enjoy surely one of the funniest bits ever from Saturday Night Live as John Belushi does Joe Cocker better than Joe himself.


  1. Surrounded by 46 Baptists? I think I’d get “saved” just long enough to get rid of them.

    A major fracture with Evangelicalism occurred for me when, as a university student sunbathing on a bench one day, I was approached by a young woman with a proselytising gleam in her eye, who began a conversation with me. As it happened, I was feeling rather low that day and was wondering whether I was doing the right thing, studying at the University instead of trying to get a job. I was glad of her approach and open to being blessed by her.

    And then came the crunch: Are you a Christian?? she says. Why yes, I am, I replied. And named the church where I was a regular worshipper. Well, that was the end of the conversation. My new “friend” quickly drew the interaction to a close and wandered off in search of a spiritual virgin to convert.

    Perhaps these days, even Evangelicals are aware that we don’t so much “lead people to Christ” as bring Christ to them, and that in order to do this it is not necessary to ascertain their spiritual status. I needed someone to bring Christ to me that day, not because I was Unsaved but because I needed reassurance. But to the extent that they lack awareness, for every person they win over, those same 46 Baptists would put off 46 people, by their predatory I’ve-got-another-one attitude.

    Anything less Christlike would be hard to imagine.

    • JeffA aka Kingschyld says

      “Perhaps these days, even Evangelicals are aware that we don’t so much “lead people to Christ” as bring Christ to them”

      What a mind blowing statement. One that I know I will ponder upon for the rest of the day and for quite awhile after. Maybe it would take fewer than 46 if we took this attitude in our witnessing to others.

    • “Perhaps these days, even Evangelicals are aware that we don’t so much ‘lead people to Christ’ as bring Christ to them.”

      Wonderfully said!!!

  2. “And what would happen if you had 46 Southern Baptists surround you and share the Gospel with you?””

    Pull out my rosary beads and start waving them around while reciting the “Hail Holy Queen”? 😉

    I wonder if the declining membership and increasing baptisms could have something to do with post-evangelicalism? That people don’t feel the need to join a particular church, or are content to move from one to another without formally making a committment? There have been a lot of comments on here about why people have either not signed on to the rolls in the first place or have dropped off, without leaving religion altogether.

    My thoughts on the science bit? Feckin’ eejit. Ahem – that may need some expansion. First, I don’t think it’s “we have created life, bwahahaha!” They’ve done some very fancy copying and pasting is all. Second, this is why international government regulation is needed; this sounds like a one-man operation (it’s at his eponymous centre) and he does seem to be in it for the dough and the glory. Thirdly, he proudly boasts of having already created a virus. And what do virii do? They mutate, which means Mr. Huge Brain, if you let your pet out to play, God alone knows what real-world interaction will mean. There’s no possible way he can claim to be in control of all the consequences. Hence, feckin’ eejit.

  3. If we’re talking about evangelisation opportunities, I can’t resist linking to this anecdote of what happened when Tim Powers met the Jehovah’s Witnesses:

    So now you all know the truth of why Catholics know nothing about the Bible – our copies all burst into flames as soon as we touch them 🙂

    • Isaac Rehberg (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

      Oh, that’s awesome! FWIW, even though I’m not a Catholic, I love hearing Jimmy Akin’s take on stuff whenever they have him on EWTN.

  4. I’ve attended a SBC church for 5 years; the number of Sunday attendees has dropped from about 150 to about 80. People moving away, or joining other churches that have more programs, very few new people coming in. I’ve noticed a lot of people who get baptized never come back, so I think there’s a hard sell for baptism without accompanying spiritual formation.

    I wonder if the economy affects people choosing not to attend anywhere? It’s a commitment of what, $50 to $100 a week? A lot of people have huge debts they’re paying off, and church membership may seem like another weekly bill.

    • Isaac Rehberg (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

      I find myself how those baptism numbers would look if they didn’t count re-baptisms.

    • Even 15-20 years ago, I was bothered by my Baptist Church. It was very good at getting people in the door and baptized, but the next steps nothing. I even expressed my opinions in a meeting with the pastor, just before I left to go to my next job. I don’t think that anything changed, but I had to do what I thought was right.

  5. And happy birthday to Pac Man – as if I need to be reminded every time I open Google. That got old really quickly.

  6. Both evangelical and mainstream church membership is declining while membership in Charismatic churches are on the increase. What are people looking for? Given the brutality with which the atheists and skeptics have assailed Christian belief (and according to some, it’s the church’s fault), I think people are flat out lost and not sure what to believe. And the cross is no longer sufficient. People want something … real and powerful. Let me quote, of all people, the band Skid Row and their song, “Quicksand Jesus.”

    A maze of tangled grace
    The symptoms of “for real” are crumbling from embrace
    But still we chase the shadows of belief
    And new religion clouds our visions of the roots of our souls

    Hey, now, I may not think Sarah Palin is a good political presence (and I vote Republican), I wouldn’t be so mean as to cross her name out on a list.

    Man can copy flesh, but cannot create a soul.

    John Belushi was great. The Blues Brothers DVD has its rightful place in my collection.

  7. Martha et al. —

    There’s a joke you’ve probably heard.

    A scientist gleefully proclaims to God that he can create life. “I challenge you to a contest,” he says to God, “to prove I’m every bit as good as you are. We’ll both make life from scratch.”

    “All right,” says God. “I’ll go first.” God takes some dirt from the ground, breathes life into it, then holds out the resulting creature to the scientist.

    “Not bad,” the scientist concedes. Then he reaches down and scrapes up a handful of dirt to begin. “Whoa!” says God. “What do you think you’re doing?”

    “Why, starting my experiment . . .”

    “You cheater!” says God. “Get your own dirt!”

    And I loved the story about the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  8. Isaac Rehberg (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

    As I spent about 15 years in Messianic Judaism, I heard about Moishe Rosen dying from some folks that actually knew him. Great guy. Clicking on the linky about his death I’ve got a couple of thoughts:

    1. It’s kinda creepy to read a farewell letter from a dead guy! I wonder exactly when he wrote it.
    2. Despite how J4J could be a little obnoxious in some of their evangelism tactics, I found his musings on trends within Messianic Jewish circles to be pretty dang insightful especially the following:

    Likewise, I am concerned over something else that I never thought that I would see or hear and that is, Jews who have become believers in Jesus and have important positions in ministry yet feel that their primary purpose is to promote Jewishness and Judaism to the Jews.

    I hope I can count on you to show love and respect for the Jewish people, but Jewishness never saved anybody. Judaism never saved anybody no matter how sincere. Romans 10:9 & 10 make it clear that we must believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus in order to be saved. There are no shortcuts. There is no easy way. Within Judaism today, there is no salvation because Christ has no place within Judaism.

    This right here is why I left Messianic Judaism and so many faithful folks are also leaving it. But, the fallout is that those faithful folks are going back into the regular Church and bringing some of those Jewish roots insights with them, making for a more holistic understanding of the faith. That’s a good thing.

  9. Thanks for the Belushi clip. At first I thought he was lip-synching to Cocker, but I guess that was Belushi singing. Terrific!

    Get the Blu-Ray of Woodstock and watch Joe sing. There’s another song of his on the deleted songs disc that’s worth watching, too. I’ll stick with the real Joe, though – I think Belushi does great when he mimics him, but takes it too far when he takes it too far. YMMV.

    As for the beer, what I remember from the time Joe Cocker played at the college coliseum where I worked as an usher was that there was an entire case (maybe 2?) of liquor backstage for the band before the concert, and it was all gone by the time the concert ended.

    • “I’ll stick with the real Joe, though – I think Belushi does great when he mimics him, but takes it too far when he takes it too far. YMMV.”

      Actually Joe and his band did SNL about a year after that clip and Jim came on after the start of the song turning it into a dueling Joes skit. Worked well. Obviously planned.

  10. If I was surrounded by 46 Southern Baptists armed for bear, I’d cut and run. Reminds me of a deer drive. Unfair to the deer (or the bear, in this case).

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Support Your Right To Arm Bears!

      (Caption of a T-shirt with a bear shooting back at the hunters…)

  11. Creating synthetic life or DNA strains in a test tube isn’t “playing God”. It’s actually kinda cool! Who would have thought even twenty years ago that science could understand and map DNA as it has recently. But there is still so much science has yet to learn, particularly how epigenics can influence DNA for generations without actually altering DNA sequence.

    No one will ever truly master the art of “play God”, because no human is capable of the humility demonstrated through the incarnation and the cross. We are more likely to learn how to create planets, like in “Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, than to perfect such humility and love for the very least among us.

    ҉۪Tis mystery all: the Immortal dies:
    Who can explore His strange design?
    In vain the firstborn seraph tries
    To sound the depths of love divine.”
    – Charles Wesley

  12. Cynthia Jones says

    I am a Southern Baptist and I wonder who came up with the 46 to 1 ratio thing — and HOW! I am sure that person is very proud of himself/herself for coming up with that “statistic!” LOL! So, does it take more or fewer people from other denominations to bring a person to Christ? Hmmmm………. Ahhh…. the numbers game has always eluded me!

    On a related note, I have been a Christian since I was nine years old and have ALWAYS been offended at those who will stand on the streetcorner and spew hellfire and brimstone at ALL who pass by without taking the time to GET TO KNOW anyone they’re condemning to Hell. (This was especially prevalent in the Free Speech area when I was in college). I do NOT believe this was what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to, “Go ye, therefore….”

    • I should have responded to Jeff’s question earlier about how they came up with the ratio of 46 to 1.

      Quite simply it is the number of members divided by the number of baptisms. So, for every 46 members in the Southern Baptist, one new person gets baptized every year.

      • If 46 Southern Baptists surrounded me in evangelistic zeal, I would assert my Lutheran identity, open a beer, and toast Martin Luther.

        • I go to a Baptist Church that is ethnically German. Let’s just say that some Baptists can enjoy a drink too!

          • Jeff Dunn says

            Here in Oklahoma, we know it is always safest to take two Baptists fishing with you. If you take two, neither one will drink your beer. If you only take one, he will drink it all…

      • I should add that average attendance in the Southern Baptist is only 37% of Membership. That means that for every 17 people attending one person is getting baptized each year.

        Then ask yourself, how many people have I introduced Christ too in the last 17 years (or 46 years for that matter) who have followed through with Baptism. That should give you a pretty good idea if you are more or less effective than the average Southern Baptist.*

        *Recognizing of course that some sow the seed, and others reap the crop.

  13. cermak_rd says

    If I was surrounded by 46 Southern Baptists trying to evangelize me, I’d throw words out there (Calvinism, mega-church v. small church, teatotalarism vs. moderate alcohol consumption, GCRTF recommendations) and while they were all arguing amongst themselves, I’d sneak off.