January 19, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 8.28.10

I’m back—did you miss me? Thanks to my designated pinch-rambler Adam Palmer for filling in for me last week. Taco Town? Who needs Taco Town when you have Deep Blue Fish ‘N Chips? England was wonderful, and I made a lot of new friends. But they talk funny over there. I was asked if I wanted a biscuit. I was picturing this buttermilk biscuit, hot from the oven, covered in butter and honey. Instead I was handed a cookie. So today, I won’t be messing with you. I’ll just say it straight. I’m here to give you 100% pure, gluten-free Saturday Ramblings…

The August edition of Christianity Today has an excerpt from Michael Spencer’s Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality. What do you mean you haven’t read Mere Churchianity? What are you waiting for?!?

A Jazz-shaped faith? This is a great example of hearing the Gospel in something other than words. If you think you might hear more about this in the future, you are right.

More than 1000 conservative Lutherans gathered in Grove City, Ohio this week to launch the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The gathering was hosted by the Lutheran CORE (COalition for REnewal), a community of confessing Lutherans. What is CORE’s core purpose?

Lutheran CORE’s mission is to be:

  • a confessional and confessing movement for all Lutherans who identify with its purposes of Lutheran CORE;
  • a churchly community, grounded in Word and Sacrament, and rooted in the Holy Scriptures, the ecumenical creeds, and the Lutheran Confessions;
  • a free-standing synod, taking on those ministries that synods typically carry out, apart from a direct relationship with another Lutheran churchbody;
  • a coalition of individual lay persons, pastors, congregations, synods and other reform movements.

Of course, what is a breakaway denomination without a response from the denomination being broken away from? Here is the ELCA’s reaction to the NALC.

Richard Tiplady, the new principal for International Christian College in Glasgow, Scotland, got started on a nice, quiet note: He stated that, “The biggest challenge we have to face in the West in our mission is to accept that Christendom is over.” I think I would like to attend chapel at ICC to just to hear Tiplady expound on his theory. Anyone know more about this man and his record?

Tiplady may really be onto something. A new Pew Research Center poll on religion and public life showed that two-thirds of Americans think religion is losing its influence on American life. Question for iMonks: Is it important that Christianity have influence on American life?

Clark Pinnock, the 73-year-old systematic theology professor at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, has died. Pinnock passed away on August 15 after suffering a heart attack. Pinnock wanted to be known “not as one who has the courage of his convictions, but one who has the courage to question them and to change old opinions which need changing.” The world is a smaller place today without Clark Pinnock.

Want to start a new religion? Christianity Today’s Mark Galli has some good PR and marketing advice for you.

Did he paint his masterpiece? Check out this online gallery of paintings by Bob Dylan. Yes, that Bob Dylan. Really, check it out.

Happy birthday this past week to William “Count” Basie; St. Louis Cardinals announcer Jack Buck; Kenny “You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille” Rogers; Henri Cartier-Bressen (one of the greatest photographers of all; he pursued capturing the “defining moment” on film); Gene Kelly; Vera Miles; Galen Rowell (another of the greatest photographers of all; his pictures of Yosemite will never be equalled); Keith Moon (drummer for The Who and inspiration for Animal of the Muppets); Cal Ripken, Jr.; Monte “Let’s Make A Deal” Hall; Barbara “Mrs. Ringo” Bach; and MTV’s Downtown Julie Brown.

Keith Moon or Animal? Well, that’s an easy one. Here was just one of the reasons you could have set your TV on the curb for the trash man the day The Muppets was canceled.


  1. And Happy Birthday to guitar phenom Alex Lifeson of “Rush”!

    Christianity should influence American culture, not dictate it. Christianity influences culture through ones love for his or her neighbor, faithful and just performance of ones vocation, and through faithful, respectful, and responsible civic duty. The CCM talents of the eighties got it partly right when they didn’t want to be referred to as Christian musicians but musicians who happen to be Christian. We don’t need Christian journalists or engineers but journalists and engineers who conduct themselves ethically, excellently and trustworthy out of love for God and neighbor.

    Brian McLaren puts it this way, in an article entitled “The Importance of Being Engineers” on the Sojouners website:

    “Take engineers, for example. At first glance, it’s hard to imagine any career more removed from moral matters than engineering. Designing the tensile strength of a bolt or projecting heat transfer rates or perfecting a detonation device — these seem like matters of pure mathematics and physics — not ethics and morality. But think again: If a bridge fails, or a shut-down valve won’t shut down, or a bomb misfires (or fires), then people die. If a mine shaft doesn’t ventilate properly, or if a deep-water oil rig fails — we’ve seen on the news what unfolds. On the other side of those seemingly amoral engineering equations are orphaned children, burn victims, families thrust into unemployment and poverty, dying ecosystems, depressed public health, ruined livelihoods, and incalculable suffering.”

    • very true.
      “A new Pew Research Center poll on religion and public life showed that two-thirds of Americans think religion is losing its influence on American life.”
      I think this is a result of the fall of the Religious Right in Politics. We as Christian should be influencing this world thru our lives & relationships NOT Legislation. peace

      • VolAlongTheWatchTower says

        briank says:
        August 28, 2010 at 7:58 am

        very true.
        “A new Pew Research Center poll on religion and public life showed that two-thirds of Americans think religion is losing its influence on American life.”
        I think this is a result of the fall of the Religious Right in Politics. We as Christian should be influencing this world thru our lives & relationships NOT Legislation. peace”


  2. I wonder if God knew that Clark Pinnock was going to die.

  3. Yes, I DID miss you, Jeff! I am glad that you are safely home. And I am glad that you enjoyed your time in England.

    I love the Muppets.

  4. Glad to see you survived your time in the neighbouring island, and yes, we call “biscuits” what you call “cookies” and chips don’t mean crisps over here 🙂

    So how did the festival go anyway?

  5. Lest anyone be drawn to the writings of Clark Pinnock by your one paragraph, it might be worth putting his dedication to “change old opinions” in a more blunt light. Church historian and professor R. Scott Clark writes from a strong confessional Reformed position, but his take on Pinnock’s theological legacy would find agreement in Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and many other circles. To understand Clark’s comments in full context it’s best to see his Aug. 17 entry at the Heidelblog. Here are a couple closing paragraphs:

    “Why this post? Well, as I close I remember that in American evangelicalism the impulse to “niceness” will drive evangelicals to publish sweetly sanitized eulogies of Pinnock. I doubt that will be helpful or true to fact. We should remember him as a fellow who was willing to quote Mormon theologians approvingly on the proposition that God has a body. Never mind the fact that we dispatched the Anthropomorphite heresy more than a millennium ago. Never mind the fact that he called into question the proposition that God knows the future. If there’s anything that belongs to the biblical and catholic doctrine of God it is that God knows the future. Somebody should remember these things

    “We should remember Pinnock as a the epitome of theologically rootless, confessionless American evangelical Christianity. He’s the poster child of what became of modern neo-evangelicalism. His radical version of neo-evangelicalism stopped just degrees from Socinianism (and arguably he verged into it).”

    Since the Internet Monk site traditionally has been concerned about the direction of “American evangelical Christianity,” let’s not downplay Pinnock’s interesting positions over the years.

  6. Regarding my post above on Clark Pinnock, just remember that Dr. Clark was commenting on his theological positions and legacy.

    Dr. Clark also wrote this: “I’m sorry for the physical struggles he endured in his last days. I’m sure he’s rejoicing in the love and mercy of God to foolish sinners as all believers shall one day.”

  7. Can someone explain to me what a confessing or confessional church or person is? Does that mean someone who confesses christ openly as in witnessing? Or is is someone who is open and confesses their sins?


    • Steve Newell says


      A confessional or confessing Lutheran church is one that publicly teach believes and confesses that the Lutheran Confessions (Book of Concord) is the correct interpretation of Holy Scripture. In historic terms, a confession is a statement of faith in want they teach and believe. The Book of Concord is the documentation that came out of the Reformation that defines what Lutherans believe. It is from the 1500’s.

      I hope this helps.

    • I thought a confessing Christian is someone who confesses under duress of Cardinal Ximinez upon the comfy couch being prodded by the soft cushion. “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise! …Surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our three weapons are fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion…. Our four…no…”

  8. Hi Aaron:

    I used that term “confessional” in a narrow sense that some people point to a “confession” of belief of what they believe. I suppose just about every church will have some sort of “confession” of what it believes, but I suppose I was thinking of confessions arising out of the Reformation.

    As you use the word “confess,” that is something applicable to all Christians.

  9. Chris Moellering says

    Maybe I’m not old enough…but I don’t think I’ve ever lived in “Christendom” in the U.S. (I’m pushing 40 pretty hard.)

    Did it ever exist before…I don’t know. I wasn’t there. If we go by church attendance as a percentage of society, it would seem our “influence” is declining. But I am not overly concerned. The world doesn’t need my influence. It is God’s “influence” (though I think the term is two weak to apply to the Lord) that the world needs to–and will eventually–acknowledge.

    The US has been an interesting experiment in having a “free” and “moral” nation. We are seeing “freedom” trump all else in that last several decades. Where we end up on this drift is predictable and sad.

    On the other hand, I have some hope as various churches are shook into returning to orthodoxy by the drift. It is not unlike one time in college I woke up to find myself doing 60 miles and hour down the median of interstate 70. It was a wild few seconds, but I (by the grace of God) was able to get back on the road and in the right direction, and stayed awake for the rest of the trip. Lutherans, Anglicans and others seem to be having this experience in varying percentages. I’m glad that Christendom is regaining some influence in the church….first things first.

  10. Did he paint his masterpiece? Check out this online gallery of paintings by Bob Dylan. Yes, that Bob Dylan. Really, check it out.

    I look at the slideshow of Dylan’s paintings, and right above my monitor hangs a framed print of Van Gogh’s painting of his Bedroom (1889): http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/28560

    Click on the painting for a larger view.

  11. David Cornwell says

    What is important is that Christians live lives that are faithful to Christ. This is what we are called to do in whatever country or culture we find ourselves. Let Christ live in us and through us and rest easy about the “influence” we have.

    I’m wary of “confessing” and renewal movements. In the UMC I once supported such a movement, which I later regretted. It turned political and became very divisive. Also it became apparent to me they needed scapegoats to thrive. You can guess who became those bad beasts. I try not to judge the motives of the those who chose to join up. But when your chief reason for existence seems to be being against certain groups of “sinners” and seeing one kind of threat or another everywhere you look, it ceases to be positive. Some of those “sinners” are lots more fun than those who make them scapegoats!

    Now I run for cover looking for a cave!

    • Wow. Hope you see this post. Your estimation of the “chief reason” for Lutheran Core and other groups is grounded in ignorance. Ordination of practicing homosexuals is but the tip of an iceberg that includes universalism, huge declines in support of missionaries, overwhelming politicization (yes, David, by the left) manifesting as endless “social statements” and testimony before Congress, and study Bibles with all sorts of heterdox commentary in the margins.
      I belong to LCMC rather than NALC. Our focus is on mission and preaching the Bible as authoritative. Since we left the ELCA in January I literally haven’t heard a single reference to gays. Period.

  12. “The biggest challenge we have to face in the West in our mission is to accept that Christendom is over.”

    Depends on how you define “Christendom.” The common understanding is that the Church is no longer a political power in the world. Perhaps. Let’s hold that for now under the “influence” quote. However, if you mean what the word more implies, that Christ is not a political power (a Kingdom) in the world, then it is flat out wrong. Christ is Lord/King is a fundamental New Testament belief. That never died out or went away. “All Power” was given him at his resurrection. He ascended to rule at God’s right hand. If that is not a “Christendom” then nothing is.

    It matters not that the nations don’t recognize His rule, including America. Babylon and Ninevah forgot the rule of YHVH too over the world, and it led to their destruction as God brought nations to conquer them for their arrogance. Revelation records the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem as the ultimate sign that Christ was now fully Priest and King to the world.

    Christendom being gone… the World now being Post Christian. Fantasies. It would be as if denying that Obamah is President would make it so.

    Question for iMonks: Is it important that Christianity have influence on American life? I view this as a related question. The Church as the Body of King Jesus should have an influence on all facets of life for all nations/peoples at all times. We are the representatives of the King, the image of God, the Body of Christ. How could we not be an influence? If we are not, are we not salt that has lost its flavor?

    I don’t say we should fight in the political arena or battle the “culture wars.” I agree with Michael Spencer there. But I say we don’t fight such things because they are irrelevant to our mission and not worth our notice. If we love the brothers (and work out all that means), feed the poor (and work out all that means), AND PROCLAIM JESUS AS THE ONLY KING (and work out all that means); we will have influence beyond measure.

    As N.T. Wright quoted from his Bishop, “Everywhere St. Paul went, he caused a riot. Everywhere I go I get invited to tea.”

    Maybe we should be at the center of some riots. (I say this to condemn myself as well.)

  13. Question for iMonks: Is it important that Christianity have influence on American life?

    Frankly, I rather wish Christianity had more influence on American Christians! 😀

  14. To many Americans, Christendom ends up looking like Christians demanding that the President provide proof of his baptism. It is intentionally divisive and demeaning, designed to provoke more arguments about whether the President is the proper sort of Christian.

    • Well, we know the answer to that question (i.e., Obama’s “faith”). 🙂

      • Yeah, he’s the worst kind — MAINLINE PROTESTANT!

      • He has more “faith” than about half the “Christians” I know. I place anyone who believes he’s a Muslim in the “Really, you’re a Christian? Could’ve fooled me.” category in my mind.

        Maybe I’m judgmental but in general I’ll stand with the people who have their faith questioned rather than the people doing the questioning.

        • I don’t know what the definition of “MAINLINE PROTESTANT” is, but go to the Website of the church Obama attended for 20 years – Trinity United Church of Christ:


          and I think you’d be hard-pressed to say that it’s “MAINLINE PROTESTANT.”

          I don’t begrudge their beliefs or their emphasis/emphases, but the church is hardly “MAINLINE PROTESTANT.”

          Now the pastor in the streaming video that automatically comes up on the Home page is preaching about tithing in order to fund their “Next Level Giving” program.

          Where have I heard that before? Same “gospel” as the “Health and Wealth” preachers teach.


          Uh… no.

  15. welcome back oh great peripatetic one….did you bring us any bangers and rashers ??

    God’s rest upon you and those at your elbows
    Greg R

  16. Somebody help me out here. I am all for standing up to the ELCA leadership for their failure to defend the historic doctrine of the church, but the NALC? Really? Is what this country needed most another protestant denomination? Can somebody explain to me why they chose to create their own little group when they have plenty of other options of confessing Lutheran denominations that they could simply join? What is wrong with the WELS or the LCMS? Are there serious doctrinal differences that would prevent them from fellowship with the NACL churches even more than the divide with the ELCA? We all saw this coming, but it seems that the new denomination approach is very separatist and divisive compared to simply changing groups. Since I not a Lutheran, there may be doctrinal hurdles which prevented this, but does anyone here know what they are?

    • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

      I’m not familiar with WELS, but as far as the LCMS goes, the NALC disagrees with them over the issue of women’s ordination. *shrug*

  17. Dylan and visual art. Who knew? But why am I not surprised?

  18. One more Happy Birthday, to Mother Teresa – her 100th birthday was/would have been on Thursday. Pray for us!

    • Sorry I missed that one.

      When Dan Rather was interviewing Mother Teresa, he said, “I understand you spend a lot of time in prayer. What do you say to God?”

      “Oh,” she said, “I don’t say anything. I just listen.”

      “Then what does God say to you?”

      “Oh, he doesn’t say anything. He just listens.”

      Isn’t that great?

  19. As one not too familiar with Lutheran CORE, nor the rift between the NALC and ELCA, I would have a problem with a church’s mission statement that has not one mention of Jesus Christ in it.

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