January 16, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 6.8.13

RamblerWith the revelation this week that the NSA (No Such Agency) is spying on Americans by looking at their internet wanderings, I’m curious what our spymasters think of Internet Monk? Are there any who moonlight as commenters? Are they researching who this Mule Chewing Briars dude is? And what do they make of the Synonymous Rambler? For that matter, what do you make of the Synonymous Rambler? What do you make of the NSA and PRISM? What do you say … we ramble?

How much do you know about Calvinism? Do you know a TULIP from a daisy? Find out just where you stand by taking this short quiz.

How did you do? If you answered all of the questions correctly, you could be a Southern Baptist. This week in Houston, Baptists of the Southern persuasion will be gathering to discuss, among other topics, a report titled “Truth, Trust, and Testimony in a Time of Tension.” Seems that Calvinism is rising in popularity among some Baptist pastors and seminaries, thus causing the tension.

The Synonymous Rambler tells me that, in anticipation of the SBC’s gathering in Houston, there is a new Texas Bible that converts “you plural” into “y’all.” My only question is why it took someone this long …

Fortunately, we don’t have to wait until the Baptists start meeting in order to hear the latest proclamation from their pope, Al Mohler. Rev. Al has come down from the mount with this revelation: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 1) is not evangelical, 2) does not live up to Martin Luther’s convictions and faith, and 3) should not even be considered a church. Good thing these non-evangelical, Luther-hating, non-churches meet in America. Hey, one out of four ain’t bad.

Oh those crazy Anglicans. I have no idea what a “wanker” is, and I’m positive I don’t want to know, but wouldn’t you just love to hear John Piper call Mark Driscoll a wanker? Perhaps we need to have some of our brethren from across the waves come and give us some lessons on how to insult one another.

Then there is American Rob Bell, who went on the radio in England—on a Christian talk show, mind you—and said a dirty word. Which prompted this cartoon, which, I want you to know, has a dirty word and a filthy word in it. If you are easily offended … well, too late for that, huh? You wouldn’t be reading Saturday Ramblings if you were easily offended. Let me just say we will not tolerate words like that used here. And I am being serious.

Speaking of obscene, the Richmond (Virginia) Outreach Center canned four of their pastors this week for being sexual predators, liars and bullies. I’m still waiting for evangelical leaders to step up with support of these men. Anyone? Anyone?

Vero Beach, Florida will apparently not be celebrating Humanist Recognition Week later this month. You can read about it in this very objective, unbiased news story. But if you want to celebrate humanism while you’re in Florida, take heart. You can travel to Bradford County, Florida where you will see the first Atheist Monument in the United States. Be sure to bring lots of film for your camera.

And make your plans for next year to take in the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. (Denise, you really need to keep these people on a leash!) As part of the ride, you’ll get to experience the 10 plagues that ravaged Egypt. Wow. Nothing says amusement-park ride like reenacting disasters that killed thousands of people. I hope they will consider adding a Black Plague ride, or a Spanish Flu petting zoo, or a tsunami water park.

will_b_dunn_3Sad to hear that Will D. Campbell passed away this week at the age of 88. He was the inspiration for the Rev. Will B. Dunn in the cartoon strip Kudzu. Campbell preached with his actions, most often defending the civil rights of individuals or groups. The NY Times obituary gives a good overview of Campbell’s life.

Before we get to this week’s celebrity birthdays, here is what you have been waiting for: a photo slide show of celebrity Christians. You know, I’m surprised no one has come up with celebrity Christian bubblegum cards yet. I’ll trade you a Kirk Cameron and a Jane Fonda for a Bob Dylan.

Ok, birthday greetings went out this week to Nelson Riddle; Andy Griffith; Norma Jean Baker; Pat Boone; Ron Wood; Charlie Watts; Marvin Hamlisch; Jerry Mathers; Boots Randolph; Tony Curtis; Ian Hunter; John Paul Jones; Steve Vai; Tom Jones; Dean Martin; and Liam Neeson.

Charlie Watts, the steady one, is 72 years old. Ronnie Wood is the baby of the group at 67. Mick and Keef each turn 70 later this year. And last week they rocked like only they can do. This first bonus video is from their show in Chicago where they invited their former guitarist Mick Taylor to join them on a few numbers. This is my favorite of their songs, and I like most all of them. Who am I talking about? Please. If you have to ask, then you needn’t bother listening. Enjoy.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYEM2Jel38c’]

Here is an earlier number—looks like something from a late 80s/early 90s tour. Did you think they would still be going strong all these years later? Ok, did you think they would still be alive all these years later? Enjoy this one, too.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG5GOH2CO1k’]





  1. As a member of an ELCA congregation, I can empathize with those who are starting to question the faithfulness of the ELCA.

    We have been very critical of them for about 15 years. But our congregation is small and a break from the ELCA might do us in. So we don’t have a lot to do with them anymore and continue in our local ministry.

    Here’s a very good sermon about feeding the hungry. The ELCA is mentioned in the sermon about halfway through it.


    The numbers may have changed a bit, as the sermon is from some years back.

  2. And by the way, that fundagelical, Al Mohler, wouldn’t know the gospel if it hit him in the face. His bunch despises the pure gospel and there’s no grace in Baptism or the Lord’s Supper. They consider them stuff that ‘we do’ because Jesus told us to.

    But he does have the law down pat. Good luck with that.

    • Steve, given what has been going on in your denomination for years, I would not argue with godly men like Al Mohler. Your version of the Gospel sounds like cheap grace. The ELCA and its liberal counterparts are an embarrasment for all true Lutherans, and all true christians for that matter.

      • Marcus Johnson says

        Tom, I’m not sure what denomination you’re hailing from, but I’m pretty sure your ilk isn’t wearing unsullied halos, either.

        And as far as embarrassments go, telling someone that “his version of the Gospel sounds like cheap grace” and generalizing the entire denomination as an embarrassment all of Christianity–well, I’m surprised that kind of spite doesn’t generate just a little bit of shame in you and how you view people in other faith traditions that are genuinely struggling to resolve differences in how they interpret Scripture.

        As for me, I’m not affiliated with the ELCA, but even though I have disagreed with Steve in the past, I don’t feel threatened or embarrassed by him or his denomination. If you do, that’s a personal problem that you need to explore further.

      • Tom, see Steve’s previous comment, where he expressed frustration himself for what’s happening in the ELCA.

        It’s the same thing in other denominations: my congregational friends are frustrated with the UCC, my Episcopal friends with TEC, and some of us Baptists with ABC. But, instead of breaking with the denomination we remain and try to work from within.

        Now let’s move on. It’s Saturday morning.

        • Good for you. If more people would have stayed and fought for the mainlines from within, they would be much stronger and more theologically robust today.

          • Right, Miguel.

            At least give it a good shot.

            To be honest, we have given up (finally) with the ELCA. We’re stuck, though. Our congregation is about 50-50 on leaving and the split would destroy us. So we stay, having nothing to do with them, and continuing in our local ministry as we have always done.

          • It will be interesting to see what happens in the next generation with the mainlines, as they receive an influx of post-evangelicals (like me!).

        • Thanks, Ted.

          You understand me very well.

  3. The Calvinist quiz is wrong. They said Rick Warren wasn’t a Calvinist and David Platt was. I’ve got Warren on video owning the doctrines of Grace and being an Edwards fan. Being interviewed by Piper. So I only scored 92.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      A 92 is a B+. Quit complaining, you overachiever 🙂

      • Het, this Catholic got an 83%….don’t know much about the denomination, but I am an INCEDIBLE test taker, and the options, especially for the TULIP portion, made it waaayyyy too easy to pick out the right answer by ignoring the wrong answers.

    • Josh in FW says

      I also got 92%. I missed the one about Reformed Theologians because I didn’t know who Martin Bucer was. I figured since Luther is credited with starting the Reformation then he would Reformed Theologian. Oops!

    • Based upon “Purpose Driven Life”, Warren is semi-pelagian, which should invalidate any claims to Calvinism. But Charles Finney was also technically a Calvinist but also a semi-pelagian. I would argue most neo-reformed are in the same boat.

    • Elizabeth says

      Oh! One more right for me then!. I missed the spelling of Armininism (it’s still wrong, I know) and didn’t know Limited Atonement. Since I’ve been Baptist all my life, not sure what they says in relationship to the ‘tension’, but I personally blame a lot of other things for the downfall of our denomination.

  4. What angers me is Issues, Etc. continually inviting Mohler back as a guest commentator, so now he obviously thinks he authority on Lutheran issues. Shame on Issues, Etc.

    • I tried listening to IE for a while. Way too much law (politics and such – stuff ‘we do’).

      It’s no wonder they’d have Mohler on as a guest.

    • Kinda bothers me as well. I believe they invite him because he is confessional, even if a confessional Reformed Baptist, so that they can trust he will come up a theological conservative, even if he is more committed to the culture wars than to the London Baptist Confession.

      • The other side of that coin is, Issues does not fall into the trap of becoming an echo chamber, but invites a diverse spectrum of guests from across the spectrum of Christendom. Madam Episcopal has been on there as well, so it’s probably not fair to fault Wilken for inviting the far right if he hosts the far left too.

  5. My Spanish teach in junior high said that Southerners were geniuses for adding vosotros to the English language in “y’all”…

    As for Mr. M, I cannot imagine the terrible burden of having an opinion on everything.

    Do site standards forbid us from using the word “bloody” in the vicinity of the word “wanker”?

    • Yeah, but some of the southerners I know also use “y’all” in the singular! I think it’s more of a southern thing than a grammar thing.

      • That Other Jean says

        You mean to say that the proper plural of “y’all ISN’T “all y’all”?

        You mean to say that the proper plural of “y’all” ISN”T “all y’all”? What would it be, then?

        • That Other Jean says

          Well, that was weird. I wrote the top line; it disappeared. I wrote the bottom line, hit “post comment,” and both of them showed up.

          • No matter, Jean, you are correct. The plural of “y’all” is “all y’all” or, in some cases, it can be “you’ns” (pronounced “you uns”).

          • I thought “you’ns” was a Pennsylvania thing. And I’ve never heard of “all y’all”. I’m too far north.

    • Let us not be offensive to our brothers and sisters in the Old Country …

  6. Cool. I scored 100 on the Calvinist quiz. Not bad for a three-point Calvinist. (Or, as we’re also known, Arminians.)

  7. Donalbain says

    “I refuse to support any organization that does not believe in Jesus Christ. I’ll have nothing to do with it. If you want to out vote me, go ahead. Make a motion and get on with it.”

    And yet again we see how the Christians in America are oppressed!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “Oppressed” in the diabolic meaning that “We’re Not Allowed To Oppress Everyone Else”?

  8. Hey, I did better on that Calvinist quiz than I thought I would: 75%. And it’s all due to spending time reading this blog and other websites. I got TULIP totally correct. (I liked one choice of answer: “Irresistible GRAPES!”)

    About the atheist monument: they have Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson quoted. My understanding is that they were theists.

    • David Barton would have us believe they were evangelicals …

    • I got 75% as well, and yes, it’s only because I read this and other blogs that I understood the questions 🙂

      For something a bit more light-hearted, link to the pope addressing children from Italian (and one Albanian) Jesuit schools and answering questions. Since the Vatican, with its usual ruthless efficiency, still only has the Italian language version of the audience up, Rocco is doing his own English translation over the raw footage.


      • It is great to see these clips speed around the Internet. Today’s conversation are among the many treasured moments this most accessible man is providing to us.

  9. Marcus Johnson says

    Re: Al Mohler.

    So, because of the ELCA’s position on one single issue, they cease to deserve the ELC in their name?

    I’m confused. Wouldn’t that mean that if Mohler decides to take a position on an issue that has absolutely no Scriptural support (such as, say, condemning married couples for choosing to not have children), that he deserves to have some titles stripped from his name, as well?

    • Because an ordained minister who practices homosexuality is so much worse than an ordained minister who practices covering up child predation.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Because Homosexuality is the Ultimate Other, the Ultimate Enemy. (Even more so than Evolution.) The snarl word which shuts down all neurons above the brainstem and waves the Bright Red Murder Flag before what’s left. The Ultimate Unpardonable SuperSin besides which child predation (and pastoral corruption) shrinks to insignificance.

      • Bingo.

        Children molested at church or by church members? They hardly matter to Al— what is more important is spreading YRR brand of which Mahaney is part with T4G. Now, that is important.

        Does anyone else wonder what the SBC is thinking propping up Mohler? Is the SBC really that far off the rails/

        • Martin, there are a great many people in the SBC who don’t even know what is going on with SGM. I asked a group of pastors one day at a breakfast about it and all I got was blank stares. And I would guarantee that the people in most congregations aren’t even aware of it.

        • With as much due respect as I can muster, I find Mohler’s attitude of putting Mahaney (who belongs to a different denom altogether) ahead of the reputation of the SBC to be sickeningly self-centered.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          They hardly matter to Al— what is more important is spreading YRR brand of which Mahaney is part with T4G. Now, that is important.

          Purity of Ideology, Comrades.
          Purity of Ideology.

      • I guarantee if a scandal similar to SGM had happened at a church which welcomed gays, Mohler would have blown a gasket.

  10. I notice that the celebrity Christians in the slide show were all identified as such because they had a datable born-again experience.

    I got 100% on the Calvin quiz, but hey, I’ve always been good at tests . . . Calvin would burn me at the stake if he knew me, I’d expect. I’ll ask him when I see him in heaven. 🙂

    • And they forgot a few like Brian Head Weich the guy from “KORN” and does anyone know about Tom Hanks???

      • I hear Tom Hanks is Orthodox, so he probably wouldn’t count for the datable-conversion-moment crowd.

        • …to thing I used to be SOOO proud of Catholic hunk, movie star, and faithful husband and father Mel Gibson, before he went clear off his rocker in word and deed. Sad…..

  11. About ELCA: I kinda agree, “Evangelical” is an almost humorous misnomer. Evangelical usually describes the theological centrists to the right wing, stopping short of fundamentalism, whereas the mainline Protestant denominations are typically not considered Evangelical because they are usually too far left to be embraced by the movement. ELCA is Protestant, but hardly Evangelical. Any influence of their Lutheran heritage further erodes any potential similarities with contemporary Evangelicalism.

    As far as being Lutheran, I’d say these days they have just as much in common with the Episcopal church than the do with the LCMS. Their “quatenus” subscription to the confessions means that belief in historic Lutheran doctrine is basically optional. I would call them Lutheran-ish, with plenty of genuine Lutherans in their midst, but often much more pressing concerns than maintaining the confession of classic Lutheran doctrine (and PLEASE don’t tell me this doesn’t exist: I’m referring to the remarkable consensus achieved in 1580).

    As for being a church: Of course Mohler doesn’t consider them a real church because he has no clue what a church is. To him, you can have a church without sacraments. So therefore, purity of ideology is the only litmus test, in his mind. IMO, the ELCA is more a church, even if heterodox, than most generic Evangelical cults of personality, including his little tribe, where the Word of God is twisted and distorted to deny the continual work of God in the sacraments of the church.

    • Fightin’ words, Miguel.

      But wait. Al Mohler has a church without sacraments? I caught a bit of that in something Steve said in his second comment, too.

      • Al Mohler has a church that practices the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper without considering them sacraments. That is not to say that something of God’s grace is not expereinced in these ordinaces, but it is not what saves us, in others words, baptists don’t believe in baptismal regeneration. Particularly we don’t see that baptism without consent, faith, or repentace is found in Scripture.

      • Baptists don’t use the word “sacraments” because that word implies that grace is imparted in the carrying out of them. Baptists use the word “ordinances” instead, the difference being that they believe that no grace is imparted either in undergoing believer’s baptism by immersion only – no other method counts – (although some of them do say that baptism is “an outward sign of an inward cleansing” which took place prior to, not during, the rite) or in the taking of the elements of communion (grape juice and soda crackers) which they do upon occasion merely “in remembrance” of Jesus Christ because he told them to. Any talk of more than two ordinances (or sacraments) would draw blank stares.

        Then there’s the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee, and the Primitive Baptists, both of whom add foot washing as a third ordinance.

        • Thanks, Jon A and been there done that.

          I guess I wasn’t aware of the distinction between Ordinance and Sacrament.

          I’m a baptist for 21 years, deacon for 6 of those years serving communion once a month, have a year of seminary, preach occasionally, and this hasn’t really come up in my church. I do know the differences among the four (at least) interpretations of the Lord’s Supper, and our church practices the lowest of the four—remembrance only. I have heard this called “symbolic” as well, by I insist that “remembrance” is a step below symbolic, and on the level of a Post-It Note (TM). It’s not something I argue about much at our church.

          But we do practice communion and baptism, because the bible (and Jesus) tells us to. And both of your descriptions of immersion, regeneration, grace, etc, nail it exactly for my church. Probably Al Mohler’s too, and strictly so. Hmm… does this make it grace or works? I’ll have to chat with my pastor.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      Oh, dear. As a Lutheran, you should know that this is an older use of the word “Evangelical”, going back to the Reformation. In that context “Evangelical” is more or less synonymous with “Lutheran”, as contrasted with “Reformed”. Strictly speaking “Evangelical Lutheran” is redundant, but the phrase became established at least by the 19th century in America.

      Of course when we speak of “Evangelicals” today we mean something else. Who exactly does or does not count as an Evangelical in the common modern sense is an open question, but it is usually safe to say that Lutherans aren’t.

      Mohler’s confusion is understandable. I am going to go out on a limb and guess that etymology and the nuances of historical word usage are not within his realm of expertise. But Lutherans should know the history of a word so intimately tied to our tradition. And I see no reason why we should give up a perfectly good word we have been using for centuries simply to accommodate some Johnny-come-latelies.

      Etymologically, “evangelical” simply means pertaining to the “good news”, i.e. the gospel. “Evangelical church” and “Gospel church” mean the same thing, at least by etymology. I don’t doubt that Mohler would deny that the ELCA holds to the gospel, and I would say “Right back at you.”

      • cermak_rd says

        I was describing a Lutheran clergyman I recently met to Mike, my husband. He looked a little uneasy at the discussion of clergy, so I added, don’t worry, he’s ELCA … the good ones.

        So while some may dislike ELCA, TEC, the UCC etc. for the stands they take, others look at them as examples of Christians that are relatable or at least not enemies.

        • I’m not gonna lie, you can only go so far left of center and remain comfortable in a congregation like mine. I’ve known some liberals who settled in near fundamentalist churches practically out of spite, because they enjoyed ruffling others feathers. But for those with less stomach, I suppose it is good that there are churches in their neck of the political spectrum. However, its mostly the progressive theology that bothers me, not the fact that such churches have liberal political views.

          • Richard Hershberger says

            I believe I have mentioned before that the most conservative pastor I have ever personally known was in an ELCA church. His stated goal was that if Heinrich Melchior Muhlenberg were to walk into the church during Sunday services, he wouldn’t notice anything changed. This pastor was a conservative socially as he was liturgically: far, far to the right of me. We were very fond of one another, and got along famously, with much in common. Politics wasn’t among these, but you know what? It is possible to interact without getting into political discussions. I was happy to be a member of that congregation for years, until I moved out of state. Many people don’t understand this. This is true on both sides of the political spectrum. I had leftie friends who were utterly mystified that I belonged to that church.

            Conservative congregations in the ELCA were not all that uncommon just a few years ago. Most have left the past few years. I understand why, but I think it some combination of misguided and irrelevant. No congregation was going to be forced to do anything they didn’t want to do, or to call any pastor they didn’t want to call. Furthermore, they knew this perfectly well. The ELCA has been ordaining women since before it was the ELCA, but there are ELCA congregations who have never had a woman pastor. The current situation is no different. I learned years ago that the sign out front of a church doesn’t tell me much, apart from the color of the hymnal inside. I have seen ELCA churches where the gospel is proclaimed, and far too many where it is not. I have seen the same with LCMS and ECUSA. People worry too much about the sign out front, and that they might be seen associating with the wrong sort of people. Jesus was notably unconcern about this, and this is a trait well worth emulating.

          • I appreciate that perspective, Richard.

          • Yes, the sign out front doesn’t tell you much, but I suggest that is a rather recent development, and a sign of coming collapse. When a brand looses its identity, its customer base quickly dries up. If a church name doesn’t stand for something, it is ultimately superfluous. And yes, this critique applies quite evenly across the board. Some of the best law/gospel, orthodox, gospel proclaiming, death and resurrection of Christ focused preaching I’ve heard was at an Episcopal church in NYC. It’s not about whether we’re associating with people of that denomination where they have heresy germs. It’s about what does a particular church believe, teach, and confess? The letters on the sign at least give you a ball park, even today. All theology is ultimately local, but whom a congregation chooses to affiliate with usually says something about them.

          • +1, Richard!

          • Richard Hershberger says

            “Yes, the sign out front doesn’t tell you much, but I suggest that is a rather recent development…”

            I do not believe you are right about this being a recent development. It certainly has been true by my personal observation over my adult lifetime, which goes back to the Reagan administration. I have every reason to believe it wasn’t new then.

            Into the 1970s the the LCMS and the LCA and ALC (predecessors to the ELCA) cooperated in substantial ways unimaginable today. The Lutheran Book of Worship (aka the “green book”) was a joint effort until the LCMS pulled out at the last minute, and repackaged it with minor changes as Lutheran Worship (aka the “blue book”). Indeed, the collaboration was initiated by the LCMS in 1965. As another example, by way of anecdote, my church when I was in high school (and my father the pastor) was technically two congregations: one LCA and the other LCMS. They had previously been distinct, with separate real property, but the town wasn’t large enough to support both. So they effectively merged in 1971, combining their names, having one pastor, holding one service, with one Sunday school. A member technically joined one or the other congregation, but this made no practical difference. This was doable in the early 1971, but was only barely tolerated in the 1980s. The pressure against this arrangement came from the LCMS side. It carried on into the 2000s, largely because it was a small congregation out in the boonies, and could be quietly ignored. The LCMS side finally formally dissolved in 2009. I don’t know the details of the circumstances, but I suspect the LCSM finally put its foot down.

            What had changed, making a joint hymnal unacceptable, much less a joint parish? The LCMS had an ideological purge, eliminating its liberal wing from 1971 to 1975. It followed the usual pattern of church purges, centering on the seminary professors and students. This was regarded as something of a bonanza to the other Lutheran bodies, who regarded the purged faculty as LCMS’s best and brightest. About 250 LCMS congregations left as well, eventually ending up as one of the bodies forming the ELCA.

            So inasmuch as a liberal/conservative axis is meaningful,there was a meaningful liberal wing to the LCMS before it was kicked out. The ELCA had a meaningful conservative wing until just a few years ago, when it left of its own accord. So far as this axis is concerned, the sign in front of the church is a far better indicator today than it was in 1970.

            How does this correlate with whether or not the gospel is preached? Loosely, at best. Bad conservative preaching and bad liberal preaching differ in character, but both are sadly widespread. Fortunately, it is also possible to find the gospel preached, whether within a conservative or a liberal context.

          • By “recent” I kinda meant relatively, as in the last century or so, not necessarily the last couple of decades. I do know the history behind the LBW. The ecumenical effort was commendable, but you have to understand that the LCMS believes a different theology than the ELCA predecessor bodies. The must maintain the right to produce their own worship materials in accordance with their belief. Lex orandi, lex credendi, or at least the other way around.

            The “idealogical purge” you refer to was simply a confessional denomination sticking to its own guns. If a denomination says we believe X, and we agree to require all our ministers to believe X, then a minister who makes a vow at his ordination to uphold X and later decides he does not believe it is being dishonest to remain in the denomination. “Purge” casts in negative terms what is a refreshing exception to the tendency of conservative groups to break away from groups with liberals in them and form super ideologically pure micro-denominations. The confessional believers stayed and fought for their denomination, and the Seminex crowd by and large left voluntarily, except for the dismissed professors. They were introducing new teachings contrary to the Lutheran confessions, so it right that a denomination requiring a “quia” subscription to the confessions sent them on to a denomination requiring a “quatenus” subscription.

            Whether you are a confessional denomination or not, EVERYBODY draws the line somewhere, even the most “big tent” groups. I think that most can agree the Seminex group is simply more at home in the ELCA, because it believes, teaches, and confesses as they do. In their doctrinal agreement they have unity, and we in ours.

      • Right. Lutherans are the original evangelicals, but today the word is loaded with so much baggage it can hardly be rightly applied to any form of contemporary Lutheranism, except from some of the seeker method LCMS market oriented congregations. Mohler holds a moralistic gospel without a means of grace. ELCA, as a progressive mainline, tends to proclaim a very moralistic gospel as well, only with much less traditional mores. But they have the sacraments, the liturgy, and the heritage of rich congregational hymnody. I’d much sooner join them than return to the Southern Baptists. ELCA 3, Mohler 0, imo.

        • Richard Hershberger says

          “…today the word is loaded with so much baggage it can hardly be rightly applied to any form of contemporary Lutheranism…”

          In this we differ. Words retain old meanings even as they take on new ones. I see no reason to abandon a name we have been using for centuries due to the vagaries of transitory usage. More to the point, I also resist the idea of giving up on the old meaning of “evangelical” as “gospel,” nor am I willing to cede that sense for the exclusive use of others.

          As for Lutheran churches which are evangelical in the modern sense of the word, consider this place: http://www.joyonline.org/. I was a bad idea on the part of the ELCA, attempting to be evangelical (in the modern sense) in form while Lutheran in substance. That, quite predictably, didn’t work. I believe it is still technically Lutheran, but just barely, and they hide it well.

    • I have definitely noticed the Episcopal influence, for good or for ill. (How much of either depends on what day you ask me.) In my experience, and hopefully it’s not like this everywhere but just speaking locally, many in the ELCA just don’t know much about the Lutheran confessions, period. The broad ethos of liberal Protestantism has taken over, and people mostly are Lutheran rather than something else because their ancestors were Scandinavian or German. While there are still some excellent pastors who teach classic Lutheran doctrine from the pulpit (and I am very lucky to have one of those myself) I have heard way too many ELCA sermons that took the classic UCC/Episcopal rubric of “be nice…Jesus was nice…don’t forget to recycle…recycling is nice.” The day I went to Palm Sunday worship and heard a sermon on why one should not eat potato chips but one must vote for gay marriage rights, and not a word about the Gospel, I just about died of despair.

      Those of us who do care about the Book of Concord and for heaven’s sake the Bible are fighting what feels like a losing battle. We’re not all ~conservative~ per se, either. There are people in my church who raise a fuss about the fact that we read the Creed every week though, for Pete’s sake. Why should we have to fight to keep ground against that? Why can’t *they* just leave and go UUA already? I guess this was a little vent.

      • Richard Hershberger says

        ‘I have heard way too many ELCA sermons that took the classic UCC/Episcopal rubric of “be nice…Jesus was nice…don’t forget to recycle…recycling is nice.”’

        Lordy, yes! This is the characteristic bad ELCA sermon. I go into a daze, losing about twenty minutes of my life with no recollection of anything during that period. Fortunately, these sermons seldom are any longer than that. And I don’t go back for more.

        In former years I moved around a lot, and so did a lot of church shopping. I learned to spot this sort of thing very quickly: sometimes before I even sat down. I would settle in for an hour of nothing, and try a different church the next week. I have never had to try more than three or four churches before finding one where the pastor knew to preach the gospel. This is how I ended up as a member of an LCMS church, when I lived in an area where Lutherans were thin on the ground.

        Of course there are bad LCMS sermons as well, but they have a different character to them.

        • Funny; I’ve yet to hear a single ELCA sermon like that, though years ago (before the ELCA was formed), I heard a visiting minister make claims that the resurrection was just a nice story.

          Not sure if that person was ever invited back or not.

  12. I beat the calvinist quiz

    It’s Limited Atonement, people, not limited grace.
    If you grow up in Western Michigan, you’re canonical about these things.

    Here’s my own version of the quiz:

    1) Why did the Southern Presbyterians divide from the Northern Presbyterians in 1861

    A) Double Predestination
    B) Ordination of Women
    C) Slavery
    D) Secession

    2) Who is likely to be more liberal?

    A) The New Jersey Dutch
    B) The Michigan Dutch
    C) The Iowa Dutch
    D) They’re all verdammt

    3) When did the CRC ordain women?

    A) They always ordained women
    B) 1979
    C) 1995
    D) They’re holding the line, thank God

    4) If you grew up in a Southern Presbyterian Church, you weren’t a Boy Scout, you attended

    A) Calvinist Cadets
    B) Royal Rangers
    C) Boy’s Brigade
    D) Reformation Rangers

    5) What was the official stance of the Southern Presbyterian Church on the Civil Rights Movement

    A) Favorable and Supportive
    B) Let’s Wait And See
    C) Unnecessary Tampering With Local Traditions
    D) All Of The Above

    6) Did this cause schism?

    A) Yes

    7) What do the terms BR, BE, and TR stand for?

    A) Bishop Reader, Bishop Elder, and Temporary Reader
    B) Barely Reformed, Broadly Evangelical, Too Reformed
    C) Breast Reduction, Breast Enhancement, and Total Reconstruction
    D) Brazil, Belgium, and Transvaal

    8) What does semper reformanda mean?

    A) Always checking our church behavior against the standards of Scripture.
    B) This gives me the right to start a new denomination
    C) We can’t ever agree about anything
    D) Some mixture of all of the above

    9) Which of these is not a Historic Reformed confession?

    A) Westminster Confession
    B) Heidelberg Confession
    C) Canons Of Dordt
    D) The Admission by South African Security Forces of their involvement in the murder of Steven Biko

    10) If you grew up in Western Michigan in the mid 1960s, what could you do on Sunday?

    A) Play tennis
    B) Ride your bike
    C) Go to church
    D) All of the above

    11) Where does Calvinism stop and hyper-Calvinism begin?

    A) Tennessee
    B) Limited Atonement
    C) Double Predestination
    D) To the right of me

    12) Why are there so many ‘P”s in the “P-soup”?

    A. Why? Is the alphabet running out?
    B. Just one more. We’ll get it right this time.
    C. Hard wood splinters easily

  13. Ohh so many good wandering paths today!

    My then 75 year-old parents left their church in style. They stood up in the middle of the sermon advocating limited atonement and my dad declared, “This is wrong and not scriptural.” They then walked out.

    Mind you this has been a year in the making. Their church was founded after a camp meeting by Bob Jones in the 1920’a, and on the spot where the tent stood. It had been associated with the fundamentalist branch of the Baptist/Armenian theological bend. It not thought about predestination and limited atonement because it wasn’t in their DNA. That is until they hired a pastor who was a “closet” Calvinist. I don’t even think it occurred to the search committee to ask him about it.

    So, my very mild-mannered parents found themselves deeply frustrated, and they felt forced from their own church because they wouldn’t accept TULIP. Now my mom has severe Alzheimer’s and often can’t remember much, but what ever you do don’t mention the world “Calvinist” to her.

    • Josh in FW says


    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Their church was founded after a camp meeting by Bob Jones in the 1920?a, and on the spot where the tent stood.

      Because that spot was Holy Ground?

      It not thought about predestination and limited atonement because it wasn’t in their DNA. That is until they hired a pastor who was a “closet” Calvinist. I don’t even think it occurred to the search committee to ask him about it.

      Until the stealth takeover, and then it was too late.
      (Or Hath Been Predestined to be Too Late.)

  14. I know SR is meticulous in avoiding profanity, but in comparison to Rob Bell, I’d say Wanker Wins. It may be a word relatively unknown in the US, but in the rest of Anglo-world I would not recommend using it at family tea or repeating from the pulpit. Its far more volatile than our tame BS, which anyway is ‘bullocks’ in the UK. One of those quirky our slang-versus-their slang things that Churchill talked about one time when he was sober… separated by common language. And when you refer to the hind parts one sits on, never use our seemingly harmless word ‘fanny’. I got slapped by my British wife once for that.

    As far as the NSA thing goes, the good thing is that mankind no longer needs to record history.

    • Oh, I’ll always remember the shock I felt when I read a line in a Stephen King novel where a female character was talking about when she was a kid and her father slapped her on the fanny once.

      I was all wide-eyed “He touched her WHERE??????” until I discovered the difference between American and British English use of the word.


      • My late father shared that when he was in London prior to the Normandy landings, a buddy of his was reduced to cold sweats and panic when his British girlfriend declined an evening out on the town because she was knocked up. Great relief later upon having this phrase translated, my father assured me!

      • A few years ago I heard of a cheerful octegenarian named Fanny Bottom — fortunately American.

    • For the Saturday Ramblings music trivia:

      Re: “Wanker”

      “Time” is a song by David Bowie. Written in New Orleans in November 1972 during the American leg of his first Ziggy Stardust tour, it was released as the opening track on Side Two of the album Aladdin Sane in April 1973….

      The song’s best-known couplet is “Time – he flexes like a whore / Falls wanking to the floor”; RCA allowed it to remain in the US single edit, being unfamiliar with the meaning of the British term “wanking”.[6] However when Bowie came to perform the song on the US television special The 1980 Floor Show in August 1973, he slurred the line in such a way as to render it “Falls swanking to the floor.”[7] Conversely, RCA cut the line “In quaaludes and red wine” from the single, while Bowie retained it for The 1980 Floor Show. The phrase “Billy Dolls” refers to Billy Murcia, late drummer for the New York Dolls.[4][8]


    • Apparently a “wanker,” as the article goes on to explain, is an “onanist.” In case that clears it up.

    • Bullocks? Try changing the first vowel & you’ll get the actual word we use, which is ‘b*llocks’. Not that I ever use it, obviously ….

  15. My husband’s family lives near the ARK theme park. They are very excited. When our boys were younger, they visited the Creation Museum – really well done. Ken Hamm is a great marketer. I’m relieved to say that it didn’t have any impact on their minds other than to give them the ability to not express an opinion in certain company and urge them forward in their critical thinking skills.

    My husband wants to know if the Tower of Babel is full sized?

    If you have an adventurous streak you may want to click through to the actual website. Sigh.

    By the way. My children are going with their youth group (not with our church) on a mission trip next month. As part of the team building they have to help out with VBS. The VBS is the Answer’s in Genesis’ curriculum – it is really, really bad. The youth minister is mortified. He agreed to have the boys be animal rangers for the menagerie. We left the fundi world for the Episcopal Church. We though we’d escaped it. You can run away from the rabid creationist flood.

    • The church that my husband is making US go to uses the AIG sunday school curriculum. IT is beyond bad. Every week I just hate to hear what they are teaching!!

      • Donalbain says

        Then DONT GO.

      • About ten years ago somebody led the adult class for about six weeks using material from Ken Ham and the AIG material, among other YEC stuff. It didn’t go very well. The class included at least three teachers in public schools, plus a few people who work at the Jackson Lab, a genetic research facility in town.

        I don’t think too many hearts and minds were persuaded in either direction. It didn’t split the church; we’re all still friends; but we don’t talk about evolution and the age of the universe anymore.

      • I confess I screeched at the youth minister, “What does this have to do with Jesus and helping children love Jesus and learn to exhibit Christian virtues?”

        The poor youth minister is on his way out partly due to choices like this. To add to my family’s stigma with Biblical (TM) Science, the older son blew the youth minister’s mind when he commented that all the fish would have died during a universal flood – salt and fresh water fish don’t live in brackish water.

        The younger one is into archaeology and has dug up pots older than YEC believe the Earth is.

        Yeah. It’s going to be a long week.

  16. David Cornwell says

    Richard Hershberger has already talked a little about this, but…

    I hesitate to dive into a discussion of certain subjects here, because sometimes I’m proven almost immediately to be wrong. Which is ok, because learning is part of a discussion. But I have this strong urge to say something anyway, hopefully not too controversial, because I hate Saturday fusses.

    But this has to do with the word “evangelical.” First– when the recent “evangelical” movement started here in the US it was part of a move away from earlier fundamentalism. Conservative intellectuals from various persausions began writing in a new way about basic issues. It was refreshing and renewing– at least from my point of view. Schools such as Fuller, Wheaton, Gordon-Conwell, Trinity, and Asbury produced a theological thrust in a new direction, which seemed to be Spirit driven and vital. New books and periodicals were published. A sense of real change was in the air.

    I really don’t want to discuss what happened as it matured, other than the fact that old fundamentalism decided it liked the word “evangelical.” Too bad.

    But the other aspect of the term “Evangelical” comes from it’s European background. This is an easy place to get oneself confused, so not being a scholar about these subjects, I am already in a bit of that confusion. But there are older churches in Europe still using the “Evangelical” label in one way or another. The “Evangelical Church in Germany” is some kind of body encompassing denominatons of various theological background. But here even the word “evangelical” takes on an older more historical meaning of Protestantism meaning something like “all the scripture.” Some of this comes from my old memory of church history, which I’ve verified though the uninpeachable source “Wikipedia!” And thanks to Richard for showing me I’m not entirely off the mark.

    Then the last element of this concerns the UCC. This denomination has it’s roots in several historical theological and church streams, namely “The German Reformed Church” which was Calvinist, “The German Evangelical Church” with a background of Lutheran tradition, the old “Congregational” churches of Mayflower and New England background, and some “Christian” churches with a heritage related to the “Disciples of Christ,” and “Church of Christ.” With this kind of background, one can see why it might be difficult to define its theology.

    • My mother in law gets agitated when we start using the word evangelical. She was born and raised in Germany (1928 Do the math for her interesting teen years.) She just doesn’t get why Christians would use that word for their label.

      • Richard Hershberger says

        The church as a whole did not shine forth in that period. There were exceptions: The Confessing Church deserves to be remembered and honored, but we today also are prone to pretending that it was larger than it really was.

        My brother’s church once had some sort of study group about Bonhoeffer. A little old lady who had been a member approximately forever said she had heard Bonhoeffer preach. Everyone turned and stared in astonishment. It turns out she heard him preach when she was a girl in a village in Germany. Her family emigrated to America after a group of men dressed in black came to the church one night and told the pastor that it had come to their attention that the church played music by Mendelssohn, and that they had to stop. This persuaded her father it was time to leave.

    • A third definition can be found in Latin America, where “evangélico” pretty much means “Protestant”—and to the católicos (Catholics) the term also includes Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

      Spain never had a Protestant Reformation, so Latin America was 99%+ Catholic until well into the 20th century. I think around 1960 missionary organizations and churches, largely from the US, stepped up their efforts. Catholics are now around 80-90% and the evangélicos have become more accepted and part of the scenery.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      I’m not sure, but I suspect that the “German Evangelical Church” part comes from after the German Lutheran and Reformed churches were unified by the King of Prussia, to the disgust of both. “Evangelical” got assigned to the combined church. So my guess is that this contingent of the UCC was Reformed, the “Evangelical” notwithstanding. I could, of course, be completely wrong about this, but generally immigrants to America from the Lutheran side ended up in some church body incorporating “Lutheran” in its name.

  17. Calvinism,def.: Man’s attempt to square the box around their understanding of God, similar to the same attempt made by the 3rd century Jewish practitioners, also known as Pharisees. In both cases the Creator’s unsearchable judgments were made known and His ways were discovered. reference: Rom 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

    • Omission: 3rd century B.C.

    • David Cornwell says

      “Man’s attempt to square the box ”

      When we were kids we loved to play with wooden blocks, especially on rainy Saturdays. We’d build forts and castles. Then one of my brothers, or myself, would find some small object to throw at it, with the idea of bringing it down or messing it up.

      So, when we think we have our understanding of God all squared off, beware. Even with all our understanding, there is much we will never know. But we do know enough, even the least of us.

  18. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    I have no idea what a “wanker” is, and I’m positive I don’t want to know…

    Oh, but you will…

    “Wank” is European English for “Masturbate”.

    I heard the term all the time on the original Whose Line Is It Anyway?

    • I have to admit I laughed & laughed when I saw the word wanker being debated on IM. It reminds me of being at school when someone spraypainted ‘Bopper (nickname for our Deputy Head) is a wanker’ in 5 foot high letters down the side of the sports hall. It is such a British term.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        “And they danced around the telly-vision set
        And they danced around the telly-vision set
        And they danced around the telly-vision set
        Like a couple of silly old wankers!”
        — improv “folk song” from a Whose Line Is It Anyway? segment

  19. Lutherans pretty much own the trademark on “Evangelical” which first meant what we would call Protestant or Not One of Those Awful Papists, and then came to mean Lutheran or Not One of Those Awful Calvinistas. This before Those Awful Rebaptizers showed up to muddy the waters. It’s funny now that both ELCA and Missouri/ Wisconsin churches still use Evangelical in their name to distinguish themselves from Those Awful Other Lutherans. Once upon a time, Evangelical had something to do with good news. How times change.

    • There is no “E” in LCMS. I would like to think that we actually avoid the term deliberately, because we are a refuge for recovering, post, and former Evangelicals, like myself.

      • Brianthedad says

        It is in the name of most individual congregations, however. Maybe not on the sign, but on the organizing documents, and many of the official documents (baptismal certificates, marriage certificates, etc). Our congregation’s founding documents list the name as St Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, and it’s LCMS. It goes way back, because I recall seeing it in German on my great-grandmother’s baptismal certificate from the little rural Illinois church she was baptized in pre-1900, Bethlehem Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche is still there and about as old school-LCMS as they come nowadays.

  20. Just letting folks know I posted a few comments to the “A Biblical View of Marriage” thread, including…

    This reply to Miguel, and I made a few other posts in that thread, one is at the very bottom of the page right now.

  21. Hmmm… I actually knew what a wanker was. Based on that comment, I think this should have been one of the songs this week:


  22. Jeff, they just don’t listen to me! Oh, and I’m still waiting for the southeastern Kentucky translation, in which the proper word for “you” plural is “you-uns.”

  23. Jeff, I took the short quiz on Calvinism and got 100%. But I’m not anywhere close to being a Southern Babtist (TM). 😉

  24. Oh, oh, oh, I am a Calvin and Hobbes Calvinist. I really really am.

  25. IndianaMike says

    The web site led by the Lutheran lobs artillery at Evangelicals on a regular basis. The same web site gets bitchy when Evangelicals lob a few grenades of their own.

    • Oddly enough, Jeff Dun, the guy who wrote this piece isn’t Lutheran, at least not to my knowledge. I hope Al Mohler isn’t the representative for all evangelicals. I don’t recall voting in that election. Mohler is simply a fundamentalist who likes to shoot his mouth off.

  26. Leave it to Wikipedia to show us how to make the hand gesture for “wanker.” 🙂

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The California version of that hand gesture is a linear pumping motion at a 45-degree upward angle without any wrist motion. In my high school days, we called it “The Love Call of the Purple Hornies”, and was accompanied by a Hollywood Indian War Whoop. I bet you didn’t need to know that.

  27. Guess I’m your only reader from the Richmond area (or at least to comment) regarding the “ROC” as it’s locally known. Can’t say I’ve been myself but do know a handful that do visit occasionally… it’s quite popular and has a very large outreach to the city in various ways, with the one I mostly know being with the homeless (which is how I believe they started? not sure).

    I’ve heard that unfortunately “Pastor G” (Geronimo Aguilar) is/was quite the mega-star (no big surprise for a large church with a lot of different ministries and I believe staff). I know that at some point Geronimo said his life was far from God….but not sure when. I see the ROC was started in 2001. Not that this would excuse these actions if they prove true but all too often pastors are held up to so completely high a standard that it’s unfathomable that they could do any sin, which is unfortunate (especially for them… because they are human as we are). Regardless, I personally do believe the ROC has changed a lot of lives and hope it continues to no matter what.

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