December 5, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 6.25.11

Good morning. Welcome to the iMonastery where we specialize in unique dishes made from the finest ingredients. For breakfast today we are serving up heaping helpings of Saturday Ramblings.

D.H. Williams, a professor at Baylor University, has some interesting observations after recently attending a megachurch service. Nothing new that we haven’t discussed often times before here at iMonk, but it is always interesting to hear it from another perspective.

Jack Van Impe has coined a new word—Chrislam—to describe what he sees as a uniting of Christianity and Islam. And he named two well-known preachers as advocates for Chrislam on his TV show broadcast on TBN. Before the show could be repeated, TBN pulled that episode. In response, Van Impe cancelled his contract with TBN. My question is: How long will it be until someone names their rock back Chrislam?

In other religious TV news, NBC has issued an apology for cutting the words “under God” from a group of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The video of the kids was part of the intro to the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament, carried by NBC. Should we care that those words are in the Pledge? If we don’t say them, what will result in our nation? Your thoughts?

A Connecticut state trial court has dismissed charges against a Catholic priest, his church, and the Hartford Diocese brought by a woman who was injured in a service at the church. Seems when she was being prayed for, she was “slain in the spirit,” fell over backward and hurt her head and back. She thought someone would catch her. They didn’t. She sued. We aren’t told if the Holy Spirit took the witness stand.

Looking for that perfect gift for a special man in your life? Try giving him Benedictus, a new cologne created in honor of Pope Benedict XVI. Look, I really can’t make up stuff this good.

John Michael Talbot released his 53rd album this week, Worship and Bow Down. It includes songs reflecting the new Catholic missal. JMT gave an interview to Christianity Today where he talks about his days in Mason Proffit, almost joining the Eagles, and why he thinks he is accepted by Protestants. Oh–it’s a very good album. I have been listening to it over and over this week.

NBA basketball star Ron Artest is going to court to change his legal name to Metta World Peace. Really, try making things up this good. Do you ever get the feeling NBA players have bounced one too many basketballs off of their heads?

Celebrities who celebrated birthdays this last week include the first star of the NBA, George Mikan; Roger Ebert; Sir Paul McCartney; Isabella Rossellini; Oz Fox (lead guitarist for Stryper); Harry Moses “Moe Howard” Horwitz; Lou Gehrig; Guy Lombardo; Phylicia Rashad; Garfield the Cat; The Tazmanian Devil; Paula Abdul; Errol Flynn; Chet Atkins; John Mahoney (the dad on Frasier); Brian Wilson; Lionel Richie; Nicole Kidman; Meredith Baxter-Birney; Kris Kristofferson; June Carter-Cash; Mick Fleetwood; and Jack Dempsey.

Wow. Who to chose for a bonus video this week? There are so many great choices in the birthday list. I could find something fun for so many of these celebs, but I would be remiss if I didn’t give you a good belly laugh this morning. So enjoy this snippet from the Three Stooges.

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  1. “Chrislam….” Really? Another man-made label–when will we center our focus on God and Him alone? Then, perhaps, we will take our places as His sons and manifest His absolute love to the world.

    Happy weekend!

    • I don’t know. It seems to me that jack Van Impe is a good guy that really loves God. I will admit, though, that he is a little strange.

      • Cedric Klein says

        It’s a valid concern, tho I think he errs in applying it to Warren & Schuller. Alas, I think their outreach is a well-meaning but misguided attempt to include Islam with “the Judeo-Christian tradition” (which is a concept with more validity but is not above some questioning itself).

  2. New JMT album? That’s fantastic news!

  3. From D. H. Williams’ article:

    Immediately after the singing, without any announcement, much less Paul’s words of institution (1 Cor. 11:23-26), the elements of the Lord’s Supper were hurriedly handed around. Again, I was amazed at the blandly efficient nature of this activity. We could have been passing pretzels and soda pop. No one offered any guidance whatsoever on the sharing of this critical ordinance or sacrament. It seemed a strictly vertical encounter between each individual and God.

    Not too long ago I attended a service at what would probably be called a megachurch, and as I entered the auditorium (aka the sanctuary, I guess), persons holding trays (like the cigarette ladies from the fifties and sixties) were handing out these to people as they entered:

    It was a definite “What The Faith?!?!” moment for me.

    Contrast this with our small weekly home meetings where after we’ve shared and prayed together and we sense it’s time to remember and celebrate being one body with Him and with each other, we pray and bless and thank God, and then pass around a single piece of bread from which we each break off a piece and eat, followed by a single cup of wine or grape juice from which we each take a drink.

    • Wow, Eric — so you actually treat Communion like you’re … communing?!? What a concept!

    • Like Eric, this part from D.H. Williams:

      “Immediately after the singing, without any announcement, much less Paul’s words of institution (1 Cor. 11:23-26), the elements of the Lord’s Supper were hurriedly handed around. Again, I was amazed at the blandly efficient nature of this activity. We could have been passing pretzels and soda pop. No one offered any guidance whatsoever on the sharing of this critical ordinance or sacrament. It seemed a strictly vertical encounter between each individual and God.”

      My wife and I had the same exact experience at a local megachurch, this was after getting into the door and wondering around the foyer trying to figure out where we where supposed to go. No one even noticed us at all, we finally had to ask for information. Then during the service they performed this travesty of communion, we where both appalled at how irreverent it all was. Mind you this was long, long before we were even thinking of joining the RCC. We left and never set foot there again, it’s a travesty.

      The two giant screens that showed flowing clouds behind a cross, or a field with flowers was just too much for us. The whole thing was a giant piece of performance art, it had nothing to do worship and everything to do with presentation. The only bright spot was the Pastor pushing the idea of home groups, which I thought was wonderful.


    • I call it The Christian Happy Meal, with all the solemnity of going through the drive-up window.

    • “What The Faith” lol
      I’m using that one.

  4. As someone who is still theologically Pentecostal, I say good for the Connecticut state court! If God knocks you over, He’ll catch you — if you’re just doing it yourself, enjoy your bruises …

    And I concur on the happy b’day to John Mahoney, who also played White Sox manager Kid Gleason in the best baseball movie ever made (and I will NOT argue about this!), Eight Men Out.

    • Ray:

      That is a good point. If God really knocked these people over, (1): Why would we need “catchers” and (2): If a “catcher” was not present, wouldn’t God land these people in a way not to injure them?

      After hearing about this legal case, I wonder if the plaintiff’s legal team used as a benchmark case, the lawsuit from the late 1980’s where a woman by the name of Evelyn Kuykendall was “slain in the Spirit” at a Charles and Frances Hunter healing crusade and suffered a fractured back and spent two months in the hospital from the injuries. Kyykendall sued the Hunters and after appeals were done, eventually was awarded $300,000 by a federal jury (source “Counterfeit Revival” by Hank Hanegraaff page 22 – who quoted from the book “Overcome By The Spirit” by Father Francis MacNutt)

    • Charles Fines says

      I will always remember the flash of shock and anger in the eyes of the “evangelist” when he pushed on my forehead with the catchers ready and I stood firm. I had gone up on stage with open mind and heart. Not resisting Spirit, just resisting what in the moment had become to me obviously a scam.

  5. Donalbain says

    Why have the pledge of allegiance as part of the coverage of an international sporting event anyway? I know Americans aren’t doing that well in the world of golf these days, but still..

  6. Arnold Cunningham says

    Landover Baptist Church recommends that during recitation of the pledge, when they get to the “under God” part Christians should witness by shouting “UNDER JESUS CHRIST!!!” as loud as they can.

    Hell, they should just change it officially. I mean, it’s hardly any less PC than “God.” In for a penny, in for a pound, right?

    • Witness by shouting, eh? I would rather not be witnessed to in that way.

    • I witness by not saying the Pledge.

    • Cedric Klein says

      Landover is a joke site. You know that, right?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        With what’s coming out of God’s Anointed (TM) these days, it’s hard to tell the difference. The only rule-of-thumb I have is that the True Believers often go more over-the-top than the joke sites.

  7. I don’t care whether “under God” is in the pledge, and actually if I had my druthers there’d be no pledge at all, but NBC chose to show the pledge as part of its patriotism piece, and then chose to cut two words out of it, ‘not meaning to offend.” What would motivate such an editorial choice? I’m guessing that the people who made this decision think the words “under God” are provocative or even offensive to enough people that the safe choice was to edit them out. In other words, they find it easy to imagine someone being offended by the words “under God,” but couldn’t imagine anyone being offended by their deliberate excision, Nor did they consider the possibility that cutting the words was tantamount to making a divisive political statement (or at least seeming to) of their own. Foolish.

    • Sad to say, but Jack Van Impe didn’t invent this one.

      Discernabloggers have been all over the “Chrislam” panic for a good 6-9 months. Blame is sort of laid at the feet of Rick Warren, but the reasons are fuzzy. Most of the bloggers point back to a few posts that poorly researched and lifted from a website that doesn’t exist any more. Other bloggers point to a photo of a church sign that was obviously from a church sign generator.

      Unrelated, but a friend and I used to get together and watch Jack and Rexella on TBN over a brew. I guess we can’t do that any more.

      • Rats, I don’t know why my post showed up as a response. Sorry, Bob.

      • Surfing the channels two days ago, I happened upon Hal Lindsay’s broadcast. He is using the word, “Chislam” also. It was a big bold graphic and he was talking about it. Didn’t stick around to hear what he said.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          With Lindsay’s one-track mind, it’s probably a Fulfillment of some End Time Prophecy.

  8. Two things struck me about the CT article.

    The first was the tacit assumption made that the worship service is mostly what the church is about. Most of what I do with relation to my local church happens outside of the Sunday a.m. worship. Most of what our church accomplishes also happens outside of the morning worship hour. It seems a little short-sighted to evaluate a church solely by the content (or lack thereof) on Sunday morning only. Maybe we should see what else the church does with regard to the gospel before jumping to any conclusions. If we want to be honest, our “traditional” church service has the same relevance to First Century worship as the contemporary services. I sometimes wonder if the transformation in worship has blinded us to the shallowness of the past. And maybe our critique is a case of pot calling kettle black.

    On the other hand, they may be a “Contemporvent” Church. See this oldie but goodie:

    More alarming, though, was this quote from the article:

    Ironically, the weight placed on personal experience and freedom from conventional beliefs is reminiscent of early-20th-century Protestant liberalism. Updating their theology for modern fashions, the heirs of Schleiermacher and Hegel emphasized the primacy of the individual’s experience of God, setting aside complicating issues of doctrine as divisive, latently authoritarian, or just plain irrelevant. Despite many important differences between this sort of liberalism and the contemporary evangelical megachurch, there are striking similarities in their approaches to individual experience, popular culture, and socially uncomfortable doctrines.

    I think that paragraph summarizes a fantastic point very worthy of discussion.

    Finally, I think the exegesis of the pearls before swine as a mark of Jesus’ exclusivity was far from what Jesus intended when he uttered those words. It was more a protection for the apostles to consider the audience before presenting God’s good news to those who wouldn’t be able to appreciate it with the warning that if they did, then the audience would turn on them. But that’s only a minor point. What happens when we agree with a conclusion that was arrived at by bad hermeneutics?

    • Good point. The difference between 19th/20th century liberalism and church-growth, pragmatic, mega-church evangelicalism is trivial. Another result of irrelevancy of doctrine and the rejection of the historicity of the faith within liberal theology is the reduction of the role of faith to the “moral imperative”; religion serves no other purpose but to instill good morals in society. It is no surprise that most mega-churches preach a mixture of cutural war propoganda and ten principles to a happy marrriage, nice children, better finances, better sex, etc. ad-nauseum. Pragmatism and moralism are twigs on the same branch. Liberalism and mega-church evangelicalism also reject the gospel; we are are all nice, basically good people who can help ourselves achieve our best life now. Dead in you transgressions? How medieval and depressing? Saved by grace alone? How demeaning and irresponsible! They can call themselves “conservatives” all they want, but at the core they think like liberals.

  9. According to Wikipedia, Chrislam is a Nigerian syncretic religion founded in the 1980’s. Arthur C. Clarke used the same name for a fictional religion in “The Hammer of God” (1993). Frank Herbert’s Orange Catholic Bible integrates Buddhislamic, Zensunni, Sunsufi, and Hasidislamic faiths, but no Chrislam. So, what does the word mean as used here?

  10. David Cornwell says

    “NBC has issued an apology for cutting the words “under God” from a group of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.”

    We are “under God” in the same sense that the entire earth is under God. We are not under God in some special sense. That’s an idea that leads to big trouble and terrible interpretations of our history.

    ” perfect gift for a special man in your life? Try giving him Benedictus, a new cologne created in honor of Pope Benedict XVI. Look, I really can’t make up stuff this good.”

    Well that’s nothing. I heard Concordia Seminary’s science department is working on an even better one. Their PR department is working on a marketable name. (I might have made this up).

    • But, but, but, American exceptionalism. We are the country that in one of our songs demands that God take care of us and bless our country. We know that we were specially selected with a manifest destiny, by God to take most of North America and drive the few savages who we didn’t kill into the worst areas so we could Christianize them. We know that America was specially chosen by God to be his nation on earth. And we have to keep reminding ourselves of this, lest the pinkos take our omission of “under God” from the pledge as an admission that we do not believe we are loved first among God’s children and launch and all out nucular attack. (Completely ignoring the fact that the pledge was written, without that phrase, by a minister, but never let the facts get in the way of some good outrage.)

      • Then NBC needs to do a report on whether the Pledge should be changed (so people can revisit the issue and discuss), or they should just not do the Pledge at all.

    • I remember reading a great sermon on “Why I Do Not Pledge Allegiance to the Flag” (or some title like that) with the point being our total allegiance should be to God and not this or any country, and we should not be pledging otherwise.

      To that point, perhaps the Pledge of Allegiance is actually better without “under God” in it, for that removes the notion that God is somehow pleased with our nationalism while also acknowledging that atheists are good citizens of our country.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        As I understand it, the “Under God” was added to the Pledge during the early Cold War, as a way to contrast our side with the officially-Atheistic Soviet Union.

    • I read what was in the Benedictus cologne. It actually sounds pretty good smelling!

    • We are “under God” in the same sense that the entire earth is under God. We are not under God in some special sense. That’s an idea that leads to big trouble and terrible interpretations of our history.

      Amen. It also doesn’t help with Christian unity beyond America’s borders.

  11. Islam is a culture which feels threatened by extinction under the threat of westernism; while still identifying themselves as western, evangelicals feel the same threat of extinction within the ideology of post-modern westernism. Islam has reasons to be concerned. The fall of the Ottoman Empire shattered Islam; the banning of prayer in school or the legalization of abortion – the events considered watershed in the fall of American evangelicalism – pale in comparison. While globalization is triumphed by most conservatives – including “moral” conservatives – it is the single greatest threat against all religions. I empathize with Van Impe, but he is barking up the wrong tree. There is so much more to the symbolism of the “whore of Babylon” than a world religion. Yes, I agree with many who see the “Islamization” of Christianity. But there are forces at work which are far greater and menacing than radical Islam. It is far more concerning to me that churches preach health-and-wealth as the ultimate concern, because it indicates the church has become the puppet of the secular, corporate, multi-national machine.

    • David Cornwell says

      “It is far more concerning to me that churches preach health-and-wealth as the ultimate concern, because it indicates the church has become the puppet of the secular, corporate, multi-national machine.”

      Yes, and it is very dangerous. Any time the church flirts with or weds itself to a political ideology or economic system we are forgetting something about the gospel, and the Kingdom we are called to serve. We are ambassadors for Christ in this world, even if in chains.

    • Globalization is triumphed by conservatives? Not in the USA! That has been a drumbeat for typically LIBERAL forces for ages, and continues to be so! Every so-called conservative that I know abhors the idea of globalization as a threat to individual liberty. Perhaps you are confusing the corporate world with conservative thought. Business is all FOR globalization while conservatives themselves are NOT.

      • I have a very hard time distinguishing what conservatives want from what business wants, to be honest. They seem one and the same. “Get government off the back of business” is a very popular conservative rallying cry where I am from, whether it be GOP, Tea Party or classic libertarian flavor conservatism.

      • liberals big Government – conservatives big business – they are both wrong. it is somewhere in between.

      • I can’t recall any conservatives who have stood in the way, especially when dealing with China. Sure, once in a while someone will talk tough on human rights, but then they smile and shake hands anyway.

  12. Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

    For what it’s worth the “under God” bit in the Pledge wasn’t added until the 1950’s as a way of setting up a distinction between America and the “godless Communists.” Because of that, while I like the phrase, I’m don’t consider it sacrosanct at all.

    • I think the point is more of an editorial question: why leave that out, if it is part of the Pledge today? If you are going to leave out portions of official pledges, anthems, etc…, would it not just be better to not do it at all?

      • I’m with both of you, Rick and Isaac. It’s part of the Pledge today, as Rick said, and deliberately omitting it makes a statement guaranteed to anger people. But that’s if we recite it at all.

        On the other hand, Isaac points out that “under God” was added during the McCarthy period of the 1950s in order to “smoke out the commies” in government. Unwittingly, it paid the commies a compliment, assuming that they would be not merely godless commies but also honest, truthful ones, and would therefore reveal themselves as commies by steadfastly refusing to make the Pledge. Somehow it never occurred to anyone that a commie could lie and recite the thing anyway. The commies.

        Still on another hand, whatever our federal, state, municipal or secular functions do with the Pledge (and it is more or less appropriate in many cases) I think churches should stay clear of it, whether it includes “under God” or not. It’s too close to idolatry for comfort.

        Churches of the world unite! Boycott the Pledge! We have nothing to lose but the chains that shackle the cross to the flag. We have Jesus Christ to gain. [With apologies to Karl Marx. The commie. ]

        • Relevant(?) quotation from G.K. Chesterton’s “What I Saw In America”, 1922, on the questions he had to fill out on the form when he went to the American consulate:

          “One of the questions on the paper was, ‘Are you an anarchist?’ To which a detached philosopher would naturally feel inclined to answer, ‘What the devil has that to do with you? Are you an atheist?’ along with some playful efforts to cross-examine the official about what constitutes an ἁρχη. Then there was the question, ‘Are you in favour of subverting the government of the United States by force?’ Against this I should write, ‘I prefer to answer that question at the end of my tour and not the beginning.’ The inquisitor, in his more than morbid curiosity, had then written down, ‘Are you a polygamist?’ The answer to this is, ‘No such luck’ or ‘Not such a fool,’ according to our experience of the other sex. But perhaps a better answer would be that given to W. T. Stead when he circulated the rhetorical question, ‘Shall I slay my brother Boer?’—the answer that ran, ‘Never interfere in family matters.’ But among many things that amused me almost to the point of treating the form thus disrespectfully, the most amusing was the thought of the ruthless outlaw who should feel compelled to treat it respectfully. I like to think of the foreign desperado, seeking to slip into America with official papers under official protection, and sitting down to write with a beautiful gravity, ‘I am an anarchist. I hate you all and wish to destroy you.’ Or, ‘I intend to subvert by force the government of the United States as soon as possible, sticking the long sheath-knife in my left trouser-pocket into Mr. Harding at the earliest opportunity.’ Or again, ‘Yes, I am a polygamist all right, and my forty-seven wives are accompanying me on the voyage disguised as secretaries.’ There seems to be a certain simplicity of mind about these answers; and it is reassuring to know that anarchists and polygamists are so pure and good that the police have only to ask them questions and they are certain to tell no lies.”

          • “There seems to be a certain simplicity of mind about these answers; and it is reassuring to know that anarchists and polygamists [and atheist communists, God love ’em] are so pure and good that the police have only to ask them questions and they are certain to tell no lies.”


  13. Donalbain says

    I read somewhere that they also editted out the word “indivisible”. But that does not seem to have upset quite so many people.

    • That may have been an oversight.

      But my sixth-grade teacher took exception to the word “indivisible” because this was in 1968—Vietnam, civil rights riots, culminating the school year with the murders of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. So she had us recite “which I will try to make indivisible” instead. No change to the “under God” though. That wasn’t an issue with her.

    • most Americans say “invisible” anyway. 😉

      • And when we were kids we used to say it “to the Republic for Richard Stands”.

        Or, as Paul Simon says,

        “In my little town
        God keeps his eye on us all.
        He used to lean upon me
        As I pledged allegiance to the wall.”

  14. Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

    Just read the interview with JMT. A few thoughts:

    1) What a NEAT interview! As Steve Brown would say, JMT smells like Jesus.
    2) I find the “new monasticism” really appealing. I’ve been considering becoming a 3rd-Order Benedictine in an Anglican Benedictine order for a while now. In our parish we’ve got a couple of 3rd-Order Benedictines and Franciscans. At the Anglican 1000 church-planting conference earlier this year, one of the workshops was on the new monasticism.
    3) I nominate JMT for the Gandalf Lookalike Contest. He’d be a shoe-in!

  15. Off the subject, but while I was going through old documents on my computer, I found a copy of Michael Spencer’s “When I am Weak: Why we must embrace our brokenness and never be good Christians”. It was dated 2005 – long before I had an appreciation for who Michael was. This was quite a find at the time, when I was struggling in what I now know as the post-evangelical wilderness. I’m sure I could post the link with impunity, but it is in the archive.

    • I recently read that post also (for the first time) and all I could do is cry! I actually had an overwhelming sense of relief as well.

  16. Love the Pope? Now you can smell like him, too.

    I love the wit of a 13 year-old boy.

    • Donalbain says

      Hello ladies.. look at your man, now back to me, now back to your man, now back to me. Sadly, he isnt the Pope, but if he stopped using Protestant scented body wash, and switched to Benedictus, he could smell like he’s Pope. Look down. Look back up. Where are you? You’re in the Vatican with the Pope your man could smell like. Whats in your hand? Back to me. I have it. Its an oyster with two indulgences for that sin you love. Look again. The indulgences are now rosary beads. Anything is possible when your man smells like the Pope and not like a Protestant.

      I’m in the Popemobile!

  17. ‘nuther piece of excellent work from John Michael Talbot is his “Monk Rock” album (2005). Good stuff!

  18. Randy Thompson says

    I liked the D.H. Williams piece.
    It has struck me for sometime that the church should be invisible to the community but its members highly visible.

  19. The Pledge is nothing more than Idolatry to us bound to some sort of neo-Durkheimian social form

  20. Enjoyed reading the John Michael Talbot interview. Makes me want to buy the album. It is nice (and rare) to see music approached with a depth of thought and theological grounding.

    As for NBC, censoring the news is just bad journalism any way you slice it. Their obligation as journalists is to report what is actually happening, not to omit bits because someone might be offended. Once you start doing that, it’s a slippery slope with little hope of return.

    I think having “under God” in the pledge is a fairly meaningless bit of civil religion that has nothing to do with the saving power and message of Jesus. I think the church would be better off living christ-like and preaching Jesus in word and deed than battling about the wording in civil oaths. It’s a kind of commingling of rendering unto Caesar with rendering unto God, and that has never turned out well.

  21. I made a conscious choice to stop saying the pledge about 5 years ago. I felt like I was engaging in swearing, when I should just let my yes mean yes and my no, no.

    I also didn’t see the need to “pledge alleigance” to something other than Jesus.

    It didn’t help that the pledge was written by a socialist.

  22. I enjoyed reading the Talbot interview. I got a kick out of his saying, “My daddy was a Presbyterian. My mother believed in free will. My daddy believed in predestination. And because moms usually have the say, I was raised in the Methodist church. My dad was cool with it; he thought it was all predestined anyway!”

  23. cermak_rd says

    I don’t say the pledge because I believe it is swearing an oath to something other than the Almighty.

    I also find it appalling that they teach children to say it as these children are usually too young to understand the gravity of what they are pledging and what a pledge means.

  24. I love my country, but I’ve always found it strange that we are one of the few democratic countries that have their children say something like the pledge, or at least I’m not aware of many that do. But I’m also surprised at how many at this site think that any time some past tradition that is Christian in nature is spurned then it is great. “OOO look at me, I’m so much more advanced than those evangelical simpletons.” That’s the vibe I get from some comments here.

    But to another subject, if we are leaving our parts of the pledge, I often leave out “indivisible.” That seems to me to be the most un-Constitutional phrase in there,and an admission by patriotic Southernerns, unwittingly I know, that their ancestors were indeed wrong that the nation was indivisible as Old “honest” Abe showed us all by threat of force. Yeah, since we are rambling here I thought why not throw that in. 🙂