December 2, 2020

Saturday Ramblings: Dec 6, 2014

B16267Saturday Ramblings, December 6, 2014

About 15 degrees cooler, and I would be writing you from a winter wonderland. Here in central Indiana on Friday we were expecting 1″-2″ of rain and there were flood warnings throughout the region. No sleigh rides for a while, I’m afraid. We don’t even like taking the Rambler out in this weather — it has a bit of an electrical problem and doesn’t like the wet. And not even the snow tires would help in mud.

Saturday’s the day we’re going to get our Christmas tree, though, so I’m hoping the sky will stop falling by then. Next week we have school programs and work parties and a choir cantata, so we won’t have any time for decorating and then before you know it will be the weekend before Christmas and we’ll need to get ready for the mob that will descend upon our house this year. So we’re devoting this weekend to ol’ tannenbaum and other decorating inside and out.

That won’t keep us from rambling though. Unfortunately, this week I’m gonna have to drag you through some of the mud and muck that covers the circus grounds of religion in America.


What passes for preaching . . .

Bad eschatology and those who hawk it are alive and well. Greg Laurie, well known senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California preached last week on the “biblical” subject: “Israel, Iran, ISIS in Bible Prophecy.” At one point he focused on that scintillating question that is treated pervasively throughout scripture: Where is the United States of America in biblical prophecy?

Laurie believes that America’s absence in the global map described in the Revelations [sic] can be explained by one of two scenarios. “No one can say with certainty, but it would appear that we’re going to fade as a world power [because] maybe we fall in line as one of the confederated nations under the antichrist but the version I prefer the most is we would have the rapture and so many Americans would be taken to heaven that that would be the explanation for our demise as a nation.”

[Long pause of disbelief . . .]

Did he really just say that? Does he really think that this is a question the Bible addresses? Does he actually imagine that either of his explanations makes even a tiny amount of sense? Did thousands of people actually sit there and listen to this crap?

Did I really spend half of my adult life in circles where this would have been applauded as profound Bible teaching?


Here’s the strangest appeal to God’s will I’ve heard in awhile . . .

The wife of NFL player Ray Rice, who was knocked unconscious by her then-fiancé in an Atlantic City elevator, says the assault last February was part of God’s divine plan to raise awareness for domestic abuse in America. . . . “I feel like God chose me and Ray for a reason,” Rice said. “It was definitely to bring awareness to what people are going through every day.”

What a great message to the multitudes of abuse victims out there, huh? I guess now it’s a divine calling for defenseless victims to take one on the jaw from out-of-control, drunk bullies with the maturity of 13 year-olds.

This is just the newest way of avoiding the reality of domestic abuse through religious cliché. As Michael Spencer put it, “as everyone knows, we don’t have those kinds of problems. We’re Christians.” We get the snot beat out of us for Jesus. PTL.

Nativity Scene Record-2

Nothing communicates the humble message of Christmas like 1,039 people at the manger . . .

And here’s another spectacle. A few weeks ago some folks in Utah decided they wanted to break a year-old Guinness World Record and stage history’s largest live nativity. They ended up with over 1,000 participants, a camel, a donkey, and a couple of sheep, and now there is a new standard for mass numbers of living figures at a manger scene.

“We wanted to do it simply to show the world what Christmas is all about,” [producer Darrel] Eves said. “It is not all the presents, but it is about the true gift of Christmas — Jesus Christ.”

They got the idea of doing the live Nativity scene and began preparations.

“Within 12 hours we had a plan,” he said. And they got a lot of help.

“I truly believe that Heavenly Father had his hand in all this,” he said.

I do believe it was probably fun.

I have my doubts that it did anything to “show the world what Christmas is all about.”


The Puritans are alive! (and as ridiculous as ever) . . .

When I was a very young pastor, our church had the well known Sallman Head of Christ picture hanging on the wall behind the pulpit. I was fresh out of Bible college and starting to take an interest in reading authors who were Reformed and many of whom had definite Puritan leanings. Without any understanding of Christian history about art or iconoclastic controversies, I became persuaded in their interpretation of the Second Commandment against graven images and asked my congregation to remove the picture. We ended up with a compromise and it was placed on a wall in the back of the sanctuary. Strike another blow for narrow minded silliness.

Then this week, I read Megan Hill’s article, “Why Jesus Doesn’t Belong in the Christmas Décor,” on the CT her•meneutics blog:

But the recent controversy over what Jesus looked like (What color was his skin? His hair? His eyes?) highlights an important issue with such images of our Savior: we inevitably come to think, meditate, believe, and, yes, worship according to our mental or physical pictures.

Which is why I am compelled to avoid all images of Christ. From the statues of Jesus on people’s vehicle dashboards to illustrations on covers of theological books (which I wrap in brown paper), images of Jesus are embedded in even our culture at large.

Oh Megan. You wrap your theological books in brown paper?

Talk about sucking all the joy out of life. The problem with this puritanical God you serve is that he is disembodied, ethereal, a complete figment of your mind. He is a God who only knows how to use words and who expects people to live between their ears. He is too pure to engage the real world.

In other words, he bears no relation to the God revealed in the Bible, in the book of nature, in the image of God we humans bear, or in the One who became flesh and dwelt among us.


Tithes required: dead or alive . . .

Olivia Blair, 93, was a member of Fourth Missionary Baptist Church in Houston for 50 years, but had not attended services in years due to illness.Blair’s daughter, Barbara Day, reported that when her mother died over a week ago, she wanted Fourth Missionary pastor Walter Houston to officiate the funeral, but he refused.

Why? Because Mrs. Blair hadn’t paid her tithes and hadn’t attended services for some time. Probably because she was 93 years old, had been in a nursing home for 2 years and had been seriously ill for the past 10 years. But that’s beside the point, I guess. When asked, the pastor said if Blair or her family had really cared about the church, they could have at least sent in a dollar each week.

You gotta love this part of the church’s mission statement: “. . . “to show love one for another that others may know that we are the Lord’s Disciples.”


The “most pitiful understanding of the gospel” award of the week . . .

The award goes to Dr. Randy White, pastor of 1st Baptist Church, Katy, Texas. He took his part in an intramural conflict among the Southern Baptists by writing a couple of articles decrying his fellow Baptists’ preoccupation with racial reconciliation. White insists this subject has nothing to do with the gospel.

Hall begins answering his question about what the big deal with race is all about by telling us that, “all Christians should be mindful of the gospel’s demands for racial reconciliation and justice.” This kind of talk has become common in post-modern church-world. If we make it one of the “gospel’s demands” then we can’t really question it. But I will. Is racial reconciliation a demand of the gospel? Seems to me that racial reconciliation is a good thing and is a social issue, not a doctrinal or theological issue, and certainly not a “gospel demand.” If there is something Biblical that expresses racial reconciliation as a gospel demand, I’ve missed it.

Furthermore, he dismisses those who take these matters seriously by describing them like this: “. . . the Evangelical world is preaching kum-ba-ya sermons about race-relations.”

I have news for you, Dr. White. If you can’t see the horizontal reconciling aspects of the Gospel, that’s on you. Read your Bible, and for once do it without your narrow-minded, “personal relationship with Jesus” glasses on. Jesus came so that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven, and one day this whole creation, all nations, and people from every tongue, tribe, and nation will be utterly transformed. That’s the gospel, and it has little to do with you building your church and spouting your nonsense.

And if you think focusing on matters of race, justice, and peace is equivalent to silly, mushy sentimentality, you must have forgotten that 620,000 people died in a Civil War in this country, that Americans had to endure nearly 150 years of reconstruction, Jim Crow laws, great migrations of people away from regions of discrimination, a hard fought Civil Rights movement, riots, ghettos, and a host of social problems because people like you have so easily dismissed the importance of loving our neighbors as ourselves, treating them with dignity and respect, and insisting that every person receive justice and be given equal opportunity.

This is beyond circus stuff. This is serious.

And yes, it has to do with the gospel.


  1. Where is everybody?

  2. First, FIRST, HAHAHAHAHA!!!

  3. Do you remember movies like Ben Hur, where only the back or silhouette of the actor portraying Jesus was shown? I’m definitely no iconoclast and am quite sensate (fan of smells and bells); however, there is a valid point concerning over-visualizing Jesus. Such excess seems to assault the mystery of the incarnation. Here again, the Eastern Orthodox may have had the better perspective. Icons were never meant to be literal depictions of Jesus or the saints; the design and styling of icons serves a specific purpose.

    • That rugged looking depiction of Jesus always repelled me, as also did that one beautific image with the halo. In fact, NO image helps me in my devotion because I know that it has nothing to do with who He is.

      • Well, here’s the best image of Jesus you’ll ever find. Bow down and worship!

      • I think some imagery is necessary to remind us that Jesus was fully human. If we can’t imagine Jesus as a human, then I think it will become more tempting to treat him as an apparition, which some heresies do.

        Western art, particularly ancient Greek, depicted the gods and demigods in statues with ultra-human physiques. With the Renaissance, these art forms were revived and used to depict Bible characters as if they were Greek deities. The perfection of human form was melded into the holiness of these characters and were forever, inseparably confused.

        Today, Jesus is depicted not just as a Western man, but with all the beauty perfections of a Hollywood star. This is not the image of the “Man of Sorrows” of Isaiah 53. The graphic brutality of recent Jesus movies further distracts from the meaning of His wounds.

        Needless to say, there is a balance which needs to be struck, between Jesus becoming man and we making a god in our own image.

        • If you look at a decent survey of early Christian art, you will quickly find depictions of Christ, John the Baptist, Mary and various unnamed praying figures who are shown in a naturalistic way – looking like real human beings. The very earliest catacomb paintings are of tings like fish and bread and wine, but that morphed into paintings of Jesus as the good shepherd very quickly. The thing is, he is beardless in the very earliest of these catacomb paintings, and the good shepherd thing is stock imagery from the already-existing Roman tradition of showing shepherds and other rural types in an ideal landscape.

          What you’re talking about began during the 1st 2 centuries of the existence of xtianity. It never went away, albeit the rediscovery of ideas about proportion, perspective and more during the early Italian Renaissance re-introduced the means of realistic painting and sculpture, in the classical tradition.

        • One does not need a chisel or a paint brush to fabricate an idol. As my favorite quote attributed to John Calvin goes, “The human heart is an idol factory… Every one of us from our mothers womb is an expert in inventing idols”. When someone portrays God as sending earthquakes to punish people or lets a baby die (for whatever reason), that is an idol or graven image equal to one carved it out of a block of wood.

          I believe it is possible that a statue or painting of Jesus (done properly) can steer a heart away from a monstrous idol of its own creation.

          • Agreed, though really, I was just talking about the art stuff, since I’m geeky that way. 😉

    • Randy Thompson says

      I agree with you about the Orthodox having the right idea. The images are meant to be looked through, not just at.
      And, I think the Orthodox are theologically correct and the Puritans were not on this point. If the Word indeed became flesh and dwelt among us, then it is a denial of the incarnation to forbid drawing pictures. The Puritan view, over time, leads to a Jesus who becomes a cipher in a theological system, a concept among other concepts in a theological world view. I will grant, though, that Christ can be overly visualized, as someone here said.

      An icon lessens the likelihood of Jesus becoming a (mere) concept in a theological system. The Puritans, to be fair, prevent us from looking at icons in the wrong way (although they’re off base about not looking at them altogether, I think).

      • I think the way to avoid “over-visualizing” Christ is to A) maybe avoid photorealism in portraying Jesus visually. This testifies to the fact that we don’t know exactly what he looked like (and therefore can’t be overly confident of our image of him) and also maintains that he certainly was (and IS) visible, and visibly human. A notable counter-example is the preponderance of Christian schlock-art that dominated most of the 20th century’s visual arts in at least the American church, which grasps after a kind of air-brushed to the detail realism that is, in its way, a violation of the commandment. For instance, Walter Sallman’s “Head of Christ”

        And B) Vary the image. A lot. If you look at the visual representations of Christ from various cultures, Jesus looks remarkably like the people of the culture portraying him. This is not a bad thing, because in himself he constitutes the whole of the new humanity, every race, tribe, and nation. It’s a problem when one people insists Jesus is theirs and only (or primarily) theirs, but not when they celebrate that Jesus loves and affirms their people as well as the Jews of Jesus’ heritage.

        Jesus should be represented visually. With a few simple boundaries in place, we don’t really need to worry about idol worship when creating, or using, images of him.

        (Side note: I don’t like the Passion of the Christ for reasons explained in my counter-example- who knows what his suffering was visually like. Could have been worse than the movie’s portrayal. Also, such grandiose visuals of the event led way too many Christians to think that viewing the movie as a form of personal devotion, a “life changing” faith event. That’s patently ridiculous, and a perfect example, to my mind, of violating the “no graven images” command.)

  4. On tithing: If Christians REALLY believed in tithing as a biblical “principle” then they would follow the strictures set out in the law. When tithes were collected they were shared with all of the tithers in a feast after the priests were cared for. And every few years the tithe went to care for the strangers (read: undocumented aliens) in the land, widows and orphans. Do they do that now? Not a CHANCE! It goes for buildings and ever growing staff members.

    Am I against tithing in principle? No. Just do not call it a BIBLICAL principle! And forget using that quote from Malachai to justify it. That is just wresting scripture to your own advantage.

  5. As a white, so-called, PRIVILEGED member of society, I have to state my belief that we will NEVER be without racism. It is the wages of the sin of slavery that will live with us until everyone is non-white, or until the Lord returns.

    Till that day we, meaning whites, will have to struggle with what non-whites are experiencing, even IF their culture is the result of pathologies and dysfunction. It is a sad state to be in, but the wages of sin is death, in more ways than one. Someone has to pay the price.

    • This is a very American-centric view. Racism in China is a lot different than it is here in ‘Murica, for instance.

    • “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'”

      (Lincoln’s second inaugural address, from back in the day when Fox News wouldn’t think of berating the president for talking about theology…)

    • >> ” even IF their
      culture is the result of pathologies and dysfunction. It is a sad state to be in, but the wages of sin is death,
      in more ways than one. ”

      Wait. Who has “pathology and dysfunction” ?

      “Someone has to pay the price.”

      ? Not clear watcha mean here, but we all pay the price for the suffering and injustice in our society and community.

      • Sean, what I am trying to say is that this is a struggle for those of us who cannot walk in the shoes of those who have been wronged. We can fulminate and protest, sympathize and philosophize, but we just cannot put ourselves in THEIR skin. All we can do is try to understand and attempt to do what we can to lessen the effects of generational sin.

        As for the “so-called”, you do not know me. You do not know how I grew up. You know almost NOTHING about my life. I bridle at the, now ubiquitous, idea that because my skin color is pale that I have so many more advantages than my brothers and sisters of color. For your information, I grew up as white hillbilly trash, in a family that lived in a run down urban neighborhood where the men sat around and got pickled by 10 AM and the women spent their time chasing down their shoeless kids while 8 months pregnant. No JOKE! White privilege? Not where I grew up! If it weren’t for my joining a religious cult and taking me out of that mess I don’t know WHERE I’d be today.

        So yeah, “so-called”!

      • kbare, are you saying that 80% of kids being born outside of marriage is GOOD? Are you saying that men fathering kids with numerous women is GOOD? Are you saying having a murder rate higher than any other ethnic group is GOOD? These are realities in the poor areas of the inner cities and the victims are predominantly non whites. So yeah, pathology and dysfunction.

        This is not ALL non whites. I never indicated that it WAS, just an unfortunate subset of a larger group. The neighborhood I live in has plenty of non whites successfully navigating in society. For example, one neighbor is a Mexican family who has lived here illegally for years. They own their own home and have a business that they work incredibly hard at. Good people. Good neighbors. Law abiding (except for immigration, but I won’t say anything). My own family is a mix of Black, Mexican and Anglo. My own daughter married a black man and they have a delightful little daughter, our first grandchild.

        But the ones who get all of the news coverage are in the minority. They are the unfortunates.

        And yes, we all ARE paying the price, in one way or another

        The REAL issue is how can we help change things. I’m not pointing these things out as if to say that non whites are somehow inferior to whites, although you would be quick to assume as such. I’m trying to say that the way things are NOW are that way for a reason that is bigger than you and I. Also, we should not kid ourselves into believing that if we castigate ourselves and thump our chests while intoning “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa” that it will endear us to those who are suffering. Actions speak louder than symbols and are more powerful than mere words. But I am still pessimistic that even my daughter will see an end to race based problems.

        So, go ahead and tell me how insensitive I am or how clueless. I really don’t care…

        • Oscar, the problem, from my vantage point (and others, it seems), is that your original post was vaguely insensitive. I know people who had similar growing-up situations as you, and they are blatant (or subtle) racists. Your background doesn’t make you immune to being insensitive.

    • I’m not sure what you’re getting at, Oscar. Are you suggesting that, because racism with always be with us, we should not do anything to speak against it? In what ways are you struggling with what non-whites are experiencing? Is it a bad thing to try to be present with those who struggle? Are you saying that there is no such thing as systemic sin and that all non-white people who struggle brought it upon themselves?

      • Will, your knee jerk accusation indicates that you are not a thoughtful person. Why would you assume that I have such odious views? Are you one of those trolls that just wants to stir up dissension for fun? Or are you just a bad actor?

        I do not have to answer to you or justify myself in the face of your bad faith accusation. It’s not worth my time.

        • I was genuinely asking instead of just assuming you meant those things. I was trying to give you the chance to correct what could easily be a misunderstanding on my part. Your knee jerk defensiveness speaks volumes though–no need to answer the questions.

    • True story: You lost me at “so-called.”

      I don’t know your personal story, but I do know that we white people have a tendency to conflate our personal narratives with systemic narratives, thus pushing back against any and all conversations about privilege with “Well, I’ve suffered too!”

      And yeah, what is with the second paragraph here Oscar?

      • Sean, what I am trying to say is that this is a struggle for those of us who cannot walk in the shoes of those who have been wronged. We can fulminate and protest, sympathize and philosophize, but we just cannot put ourselves in THEIR skin. All we can do is try to understand and attempt to do what we can to lessen the effects of generational sin.

        As for the “so-called”, you do not know me. You do not know how I grew up. You know almost NOTHING about my life. I bridle at the, now ubiquitous, idea that because my skin color is pale that I have so many more advantages than my brothers and sisters of color. For your information, I grew up as white hillbilly trash, in a family that lived in a run down urban neighborhood where the men sat around and got pickled by 10 AM and the women spent their time chasing down their shoeless kids while 8 months pregnant. No JOKE! White privilege? Not where I grew up! If it weren’t for my joining a religious cult and taking me out of that mess I don’t know WHERE I’d be today.

        So yeah, “so-called”!

        • oscar, White privilege is not confined to the wealthy upper classes. One of the things that white privilege means is that a poor white guy acting crazy in the street with a weapon is less likely to be shot down rather than talked down by police than is a poor black guy acting crazy in the street with a weapon.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      As a white, so-called, PRIVILEGED member of society…

      And the White Guilt attitude in that statement opens you up to all kinds of Guilt Manipulation.

  6. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

    I used to laugh when I read nonsense like what Lauren Hill wrote…but you had to go take all the fun out of it. You’re right. There is a huge gap between the one true God and the god we so often make with our silly legalisms.

  7. Vega Magnus says

    Didn’t you know, CM? The United States is the most important place to ever exist ever and EVERYTHING in the Bible is directly related in some way to 21st century ‘Murica. You are OBVIOUSLY a very unskilled chaplain to not realize that.

    • Dan from Georgia says

      Remember too that how close we are to the Rapture has EVERYTHING to do with what political party is in the White House!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        From the Age of Hal Lindsay and Christians for Nuclear War:


        It is now 2014.

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

          Ah, yes. The ever classic “truism dressed up as prophecy” thing. Classic.

        • Faulty O-Ring says

          He must have meant that the generation which has seen 1977-1978 will not pass away until these things are fulfilled. (Time, time, and half a time.)

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Actually, he took the Founding of Israel in 1948 as his base year, and 40 years as a “Biblical Generation”, setting a date of 1988 at the latest.

            At least in his first edition of LGPE; I think he rewrote history “Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, not Eurasia” style when either the clock ran out or the Second Russian Revolution went down in Gog & Magog & Meshech & Tubal.

  8. We’re decorating this weekend too. I’ll be baking starting about 2 weeks out (I give gifts of cookies to all my relatives). Since I won’t have the evenings of Wed 17th (hitting a local nightclub to watch/listen to one of my friend’s jazz quartet) and the 18th (my last clarinet lesson of the year), I’ve got to start baking earlier this year.

    I’m looking forward to band rehearsal this coming week. It’s the last one of the year, and we’ll be playing Christmas music.

  9. Regarding the Janay and Ray Rice thing, I’m not so sure there’s a bit of misunderstanding in what she said, or if her words were clunky and not exactly as she intended. What I hear her saying is, “God is trying to help turn this mess and the bad into good.” Now I know that’s not exactly the way she said it, but that’s the way I’m interpreting it, and if my interpretation is correct, it’s a good message.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      My take is that given that she went ahead and married him even after that, she feels the need for rationalization. That it takes the form of Christianese merely reflects the cultural environment.

      • What comes to my mind (after reading this and the Spencer post CM linked to in his commentary) is God’s words to Eve after the fruit incident: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” It appears to me to say that not only the abuse, but the desire to stay in an abusive relationship, is a product of our fallen nature–our disordered passions (quite aptly so in this passage) causing us to want that which is bad for us (relationship with or dependence upon someone who dominates and demeans us), something which Christ himself came to rescue us from.

        Haste the day, Lord, when you shall wipe every tear from every eye.

    • Yeah, you can tend to be a little imprecise after an NFL player cold-cocks you.

    • Reminds me of the former US Representative in my neck of the woods who was caught in an “indelicate” position in the back seat of a car in a public park with the woman with whom he had made videos promoting abstinence. He & she were both married. He resigned his House seat, but said it really was all God’s plan because after all this mess, his abstinence video had had thousands of hits. Just think of all those young people who now understood abstinence! I guess he never heard of a sideshow.

      • by saying the Representative and his paramour were both married, I assume everyone knew I meant married but not to each other. I didn’t make that terribly clear.

  10. Every Christian knows, don’t we, that unless we vote for the best Christian candidate…er, Christian candidate…er, sorta Christian candidate (pecking order Catholic, Mormon, Jew, Jehovah’s Witness)…er, anyone but a liberal Democrat…that this country is going to go to hell, right? So preach it, Brother Laurie, or ‘Murica will cease to exist! 😉

  11. Faulty O-Ring says

    Comment deleted. Inappropriate.

    • flatrocker says

      Oh sorry, Faulty.
      Did you say something?
      I must have nodded off there for a bit.

    • Why do you whip yourself up over these things, FOR? Most people just stop looking at websites they don’t like.

    • ” The blacks should just be grateful they’re not living in Africa.”

      You’re saying that the slave trade did African Americans a favor by kidnapping their ancestors to sell as slaves in the United States. I hope you don’t actually believe that; I hope it’s a sick joke.

      But even if its only a sick joke, it reflects a level of moral insensitivity akin to joking about the Holocaust.

      • Richard Hershberger says

        I don’t know about FOR in particular. He might merely be trolling. But this is a trope found out there in some racist circles. (Are we allowed to point out that this is racist, or will they claim this gives them the vapors and we are being big old meanies, and anyway some of their best friends are black?) Another is how well treated the slaves were. In this trope, the slave owners are loving fathers, and if you point out how eager the slaves were to escape, this puts the slaves in the role of the prodigal son, before he returns home.

        • Richard,

          Yes, we’re allowed to call racist comments racist.

          Your good explanation here about how some view slave owners and slaves is about the only good reason for not banning faulty o-ring. Thanks for the warning that there may be others among us with christianized racist beliefs, common among white South African Christians under apartheid.

          Really bad timing on o-ring’s part, with the police killings of young black men.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      FOR, (maybey you are trolling, but here goes anyway) – you have obviously not seen Trevor Noah’s introductory piece on the Daily Show this week. Watch it.

  12. In my devotions, and at other times when I think about God, there is always an image of some kind that arises out of the activity of my mind. It tends to switch back and forth between an image of Jesus, one of a grandfatherly figure, a trinity of vague dancing figures, and a wind-like kind of field of energy.

    For me, images inevitably occur with all thinking; in fact, thinking would be impossible without them. Are there people who think, who have cognitive activity, without images?

    If such images are inevitable, and if they don’t constitute idolatry, then there is no logical reason why icons and statuary can’t be helpful in disciplining and focusing the mind in prayer, so that the the pray-er’s mind is not constantly flitting back and forth between one image and another, which can be very distracting. As long as we don’t attribute the divine qualities of God to the image, I just don’t see the problem, and I don’t see that it isn’t something that we already do in our minds anyway.

  13. This mornings Rambling made me want to stab myself in the eye. Simply unbelievable.

  14. RE: “race relations” —do we not all live in enmity in one way or another? Jesus’ mission was to reconcile ALL to God. And those who are IN Christ have been given both the ministry of reconciliation and the means (Jesus) to carry it out. (I love the visual of “personal relationship with Jesus glasses!”)

    I read this today at Gospel Centered Discipleship. David Mathis quotes Donald Macleod:

    “[Jesus] did not, as incarnate, live a life of detachment. He lived a life of involvement. He lived where he could see human sin, hear human swearing and blasphemy, see human diseases and observe human mortality, poverty and squalor.

    His mission was fully incarnational because he taught men by coming alongside them, becoming one of them and sharing their environment and their problems.

    For us, as individuals and churches in an affluent society, this is a great embarrassment. How can we effectively minister to a lost world if we are not in it? How can we reach the ignorant and the poor if we are not with them? How can our churches understand deprived areas if the church is not incarnate in the deprived areas? How can we be salt and light in the darkened ghettos of our cities if we ourselves don’t have any effective contacts and relationships with the Nazareths of [our day]?

    We are profoundly unfaithful to this great principle of incarnational mission
    The great Prophet came right alongside the people and shared their experience at every level.

    He became flesh and dwelt among us.”

    Mathis observes: “A danger lurks in our endeavors to live incarnationally. Danger, yes, but not deterrent. It is a risk worth taking, though not treating lightly.

    The danger is that we can subtly begin to key on ourselves, rather than Jesus, when we think of what Christian mission is and what incarnation means. Over time we start to function as if Christian mission begins with, and centers on, our intentionality and relationality. What really excites us is not the old, old story, but our new strategies for kingdom advance. Almost imperceptibly we’ve slowly become more keen how we can copy Jesus than the glorious ways in which we can’t.

    But thankfully the Advent season, and its annual buildup to Christmas Day, serves as an important periodic reminder that the most important part of the Christian mission isn’t the Christian, but the Christ.”

    Our little efforts at incarnational living, courageous and self-sacrificial as they may be, are only faint echoes of the world-altering, one-of-a-kind Incarnation of the very Son of God. And if Christian mission doesn’t flow from and toward the worship of the Incarnate One, we’re really just running round the hamster wheel. —David Mathis, “What Is Our Advent Mission?”

    Trish adds: What we see when wearing our “personal relationship with Jesus glasses” has to do with our vision rather than the lenses. As soon as we begin to think that we have anything to do with God’s work, apart from His incarnational living through us, it is as if we are seeing through a pinhole . . . As a result, many have become “guardians of Grace” – measuring it out and limiting it according to their own understanding . . . too often we see only what we choose to see and this becomes the light for our path rather than the True Light. Oh LORD, Be Thou my vision.

    • Trisha, as one who cares about race relations as well as incarnation/mission, I’m missing the connection points and significance of all these words. What are you trying to say?

      • Oops, meant *Trish.* Autocorrect fail.

        • Good day Sean – I believe, the issue is not about race relations as much as it is about our relationship with God. When we have that right, everything else will be too . . . so what do you think I am saying? It is OUR vision that needs to be corrected. Perhaps if we all diligently sought God’s perspective we would see things more clearly in how we ought to worship Him and relate to others in the process.

          God is Holy Other, completely different from us and completely justified to reject us – yet He is impartial; He is not a “racist.” (Holy Other vs the human race!) When we discriminate against those who are different from us, we are responding from our fallen nature. This attitude should be a red flag for those who call themselves “Christians” – this is certainly not revealing Christ – in – me is it?

          For me, when I fall into this snare, I remind myself that Jesus died to pay the penalty for the sin of those who I look down upon, judge, degrade, rail against etc. I hear echoes from the cross “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

          Have I cleared up any misunderstanding? I just happened to like what I read at GCD and thought I’d add it to our conversation today as I felt it fit. Forgive me if has caused you any confusion.

          • Trish, you cannot say only that “God is Holy Other, completely different from us” without also saying that God is also wholly us in each and every moment.

            Calvinism/RT stresses the prior without understanding and acknowledging the later–thus it is an unbalanced theology which produces many and various twistings including the idea that “Jesus died to pay the penalty for the sin of those who I look down upon…”

            Jesus did not die to pay anyone’s “penalty for sin”, rather he died because we’re so sinful we hated him and nailed him to a stake thus forcing him out of our presence (temporarily at least).

            We pay the penalty for our own sin. Racism is just one example.

  15. I watched the video of the man being choked to death. Did I think he deserved it. Of course not. The sad fact that 5% of people killed are killed with bare hands. A fact that has never fell far from me seeing as my hands have smashed through cinder blocks but that was just for fun. How many times I took a punch thrown at me as hard as one could and I would just look at them. I never had one stay and I never returned with one. I really am trying not to ever commit that one sin of killing someone. Sometimes I think it is the only one left I haven’t.

    I can’t be a son of God and be a victim. Does that make persecution any easier for me to take. Well not really it hurts and it sucks. What else can I say it is the plain truth. Martin Luther King wasn’t a victim and he is before the throne of God. We have to stop finite thinking. This is isn’t the most important place. I use to think things I did with my father were important as did he but most of that tile has been torn out and replaced in our throw away society. What was important remains in my heart.

    A 92 year old black woman called the radio station and commented on the recent events and said do I think that what happened was at all what these people deserved. She said no but the fact still remains that if they were doing the things they were suppose to be doing they would not have occurred. My heart aches sometimes as I wonder why all the times I almost died doing things I wasn’t supposed to be doing and didn’t. Never even got arrested. Oh they came for me but they were mostly trying to save my life and I was trying to die.

    It is love that changes me. Not mine. I can’t live without this love that I on my own do not possess. Anger and hate and getting whipped up by leaders who may not be genuine isn’t what we need. Any of us. We really need creative acts of love demonstrated by leaders who won’t be afraid to try pilot programs putting aside their differences to actually make a difference and the freedom to do this according to the geographic areas and there circumstance. We have brilliant people. We can do this. I just know it.

    I was on welfare once. I struggled to eat daily. I know of its trap. God help us to get past our differences and learn to embrace them. Man do I ever need that prayer. All the time.

    I’m just a stupid tile setter with hands like clubs that I usually hide from people so they don’t stare at them. I have hope and He gave it to me. I haven’t missed a day in going on three years of feeding cats on a mountain. One is the mother of the kitten I have and that is why I go. A story in the Bible reminds me of what I do. These are cats and I feel this way about them. Not one sparrow falls is on my walls painted by an artist because this is the love that changes me. Yes we can.

    • w, With all due respect: Theology is one thing, and the practical ramifications of leading an imprudent and transgressive lifestyle another, but we can’t have police strangling people to death in the streets, no matter what moral and prudent lessons may be drawn from from it.

      • …police strangling people to death in the streets…

        If you are referring to Garner, he wasn’t strangled to death by police. He died from an asthma attack brought on by his struggle to escape a choke hold used by the cop. The hold is also imprecisely named because it doesn’t actually choke but cuts blood flow to the brain. Even so, THAT may not have been what the cop used. Excessive? Yes. Uncalled for? Yes. But did the cop actually KILL him? No. But he DID die as a result of the cop’s actions, and due to the assembled police inaction and disregard for Garner’s cries of “I can’t breathe”, so in THAT sense they caused his death. That there was no repercussions to the police is a tragedy.

        Be more precise or you court bearing false witness

        • Yes, Eric Garner died as a result of Daniel Pantaleo choking him. That there were no repercussions is an injustice. If a man shoots someone, and that person dies days later in the hospital, the shooter is guilty of murder. Eric Garner was strangled by the police, and he died as a result. Robert is not courting bearing false witness by not including all the details you want him to include. By your reasoning, the Bible courts bearing false witness in countless places.

        • Would citing the medical examiner’s ruling of the death as homicide count as being more precise?

        • oscar, I named no names, and surely my statement is morally unobjectionable. If, in this case, this particular man was killed as a direct result of police brutality, it behooves society to punish the police officer(s) involved. That’s the case even if the dead man had a rap sheet a mile long, and even if, just prior to the incident, the dead man had been committing a crime. w’s quote of the “old black woman” suggested otherwise, as if it was the dead man’s fault because he was doing things he wasn’t supposed to be doing. As far as I can tell, this man did not “deserve to die.”

        • Richard Hershberger says

          “But did the cop actually KILL him? No.”

          That there is one mighty fine piece of rationalization! I can only stand back and admire.

          • No rationalizing Richard. Just the facts on the ground. If the cop cut off his trachea till he stopped breathing altogether then, yes, murder. But that wasn’t the case. The cop was responsible for his death and contributed to the cause of death, but was not the first and foremost reason that he died. If you can’t see the difference then…why am I even trying?

          • Richard Hershberger says

            The shooter didn’t kill him: the gun did.
            The gun didn’t kill him: the bullet did.
            The bullet didn’t kill him: blood loss did.
            The blood loss didn’t kill him: loss of oxygen to the brain did.
            and so on, indefinitely.

            It might be of medical interest by what precise mechanism Garner died, but in the context of discussing what the cop did, the cop killed him, and bringing up these details of the precise mechanism of death serves merely to obfuscate this.

          • “No rationalizing Richard. Just the facts on the ground. ”


      • “Theology is one thing, and the practical ramifications of leading an imprudent and transgressive lifestyle another”

        Not so sure Jesus would agree on that one, Robert. Granted that having an out of control police state is to be avoided, but not at the cost of having out of control mob rule. Somewhere in there lies a balance and we seem to be having a hard time finding it lately. This seems to be a lesson that keeps coming up because we keep failing to learn it. Will we do better this time? Maybe a little, not holding my breath.

        Jesus talked quite a bit about practical ramifications, where the rubber meets the road. Maybe mostly. So does w. I always like reading w’s theology, if we can take “theology” as what the word means at root, talk about God. Maybe part of our problem is that “theology” has come to mean something different that looks similar. Jesus had that problem with religious people too.

        When w speaks of getting thru life without killing anyone as a goal, I can relate to that much more than I can with concepts such as diversity or iconoclasm or eschatology. Perhaps Ray Rice would agree. I would much rather sit down with Ray and w than most “theologians”. Might even say the same about our Faulty, at least the first time around.

        • And perhaps Ray Rice’s wife, and we, should pray that she gets through life without being killed by her husband.

          • Patrick Kyle says

            Robert F,

            Agreed, however she needs some domestic violence counseling as well. If you watch the extended length version of the video, you see that she initially struck him first outside the elevator. If you look closely, you can see that she was winding up to hit him again, but he was faster and beat her to the punch. In my book domestic violence is domestic violence regardless of the gender of the person committing the act.
            I also think the NFL made a mistake in firing him. The Rice family now has deep financial stress in addition whatever problems they already have. Taking away a man’s means for providing for his family, and pretty much guaranteeing he can’t get another job, will only worsen the dynamics that give rise to domestic violence.

      • I guess I don’t understand Robert. Why would you think I would ever think it good that our police are killing people. What moral and prudent lessons? These are just sad facts of what is happening.

        My last words were not to mock a President. I believe the need to be spoken first and might be the his biggest legacy for me at least. Not much else. The message I believe is correct of change.

        What I saw in the Ray Rice thing was two people probably partying way to much and we got to witness the outcome of it. These things happen everyday and worse. What I see is two young people really trying and my prayer would be that they succeed.

        I love you too Robert and thank you

        • Robert when I said I love you and thank you it was because you typed with all due respect and I know you mean that it actually melted my heart and meant alot to me. Should’ve told you that the first time.

          • You’re a big souled man, w; it would be foolish not to love and respect you, even though we may occasionally disagree.

  16. this puritanical God you serve… is disembodied, ethereal, a complete figment of your mind. He is a God who only knows how to use words and who expects people to live between their ears. He is too pure to engage the real world.

    We didn’t see it that way. God was not disembodied and ethereal, He was transcendent. God used words because emotions are untrustworthy, and besides as rational beings words are the highest form of communication anyways (why else was Jesus called the Word and His words recorded in a book?). And yes, He is too pure and holy to be easily found in a fallen world. That was the creed I absorbed as a TR in my youth. You can decry it, but unless you understand it’s appeal you’ll never counter it.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      this puritanical God you serve… is disembodied, ethereal, a complete figment of your mind. He is a God who only knows how to use words and who expects people to live between their ears. He is too pure to engage the real world.

      During my years in SF litfandom, I have run into Pure Intellects, those who DO live between their ears in the disembodied ethereal echo chamber of their own IQ, too theoretically pure to engage Meatspace. They are some of the most scary and disturbing borderline sociopaths you will ever encounter. And they are masters of Semantics in the Screwtape sense.

  17. The idea that an occasion of domestic abuse could be part of God’s plan to prevent domestic abuse is logically and morally incoherent. But then, so is the idea that God would allow a child to die of a particular disease so that the publicity surrounding that death would help draw resources toward a cure for the disease; I’ve, nevertheless, heard that idea presented more than once in the media by the parents of children who have died of childhood diseases. It’s an attempt to grasp at a meaning for the suffering and death of their child, even though it’s incoherent; most likely, Mr. Rice’s wife is similarly grasping at such meaning. Let’s remember that domestic abuse has a pathological and ironic tendency to elicit the assistance of the victim for the abuser, and let’s remember that she’s the victim.

    • Well put.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      But isn’t “God’s plan” a psychological construct anyway? I mean, no one to my knowledge has received a blueprint out of heaven of God’s “plan”, whatever that might be. So yes, this sounds like trying to put positive meaning on a bad situation. On the other hand, since there is no such objective thing as God’s plan or will, then I can’t really fault her.

    • We shouldn’t think in terms of God’s hand causing these awful events, but we can think in terms of redemption. He can an does redeem the worst of our lives. Not “fix,” not “make the pain go away,” but bring something good from it. I’ll give Mrs. Rice the benefit of the doubt and trust that this is what she was trying to get at, rather than the other thing.

    • Brianthedad says

      Robert f
      I have great respect for the humility, intelligence, and earnestness in your comments at imonk, so it is with some hesitation that I offer some pushback to your thoughts on incoherence.

      I agree that Mrs. Rice’s words don’t have the coherence we often expect. What happened to her was terrible, and attributing it to God’s will is incoherent and perhaps unfair, but if judged more graciously, maybe what she meant reflects the paradox of what many Christians experience.

      Almost 10 years ago, our family endured the sudden loss of our 4yr old daughter after a biopsy for a brain tumor. In the middle of the questions regarding treatment, brain death, and whether the machines keeping her artificially breathing should be turned off, my wife was struck from the blue to ask the chaplain if our daughter could be an organ donor. That started a process that led to us donating her organs, and three people’s lives being saved. Since that time, I’ve struggled with the thoughts of how her death led to the continuance of three lives, and how my prayers for her deliverance were seemingly unanswered while the prayers of others were answered and their loved ones delivered. How did God work in that?

      One of the recipient families also saw the paradox. They knew that their son would only live if someone else died. They struggled with that, and also included a then-unknown donor family in their prayers. I can’t accept that God took my daughter just for the lives of the three others, but I can accept and believe that he took a bad situation, a terrible situation that happens perhaps randomly, perhaps due to the fall, perhaps… (a discussion for another imonk post, I’m sure) and made good come from it. There is an Easter parallel here, I tell those who ask. He took a dark and bleak day, Good Friday, and turned it into Easter. He took a dark and bleak day for us, and turned it into life for three others. We’ve met them, visited with them, rejoiced with them, and celebrated God’s work in our lives.

      We’ve had a similar experience with foster care, but on the flip side of the coin. Two of my children were adopted after we had cared for them as foster parents. I have reflected on the circumstances that brought them to us. It was a bad situation for them, and now they are in a much better situation, surrounded by love and care, and, frankly, a much higher standard of living that offers them more opportunity than they’d ever have had in their previous situation. The loss they felt, and their bio-mother feels, is real and traumatic. My family benefited from that. Some say it was God’s will. The same paradox is at play. Did God will the dire circumstances that led to their being taken out of their earlier family? Again, I fall back to the position that God took a bad situation and made something good from it.

      I will let the theologians among us debate the source of the badness that led to the two situations in my family, and in Mrs. Rice’s, but if she is being sincere, and her words were simply not articulate, I think I can empathize with what she may have been trying to say.

      • Brian,


        from a mother and an adopted child.


      • As I said in an earlier post, that’s my take on the Janay Rice thing, too: that she’s merely articulating, if rather poorly, the idea of God making something good happen out of the bad.

      • Brianthedad, I did not mean to be critical of Janay Rice in my comment; I’m sorry if it sounded that way. I have nothing but sympathy for Janay Rice, and I pray that the violence she has received at her husband’s hands has ended, though I fear it has not.

        I’m familiar in my own life with the sometimes painful paradox that you have experienced, the paradox of God taking what is purely evil and negating, and redeeming it through suffering love. This is God’s mysterious way, and it often is both logically and morally incomprehensible, but without it death would prevail and life would be extinguished.

        What I’m uncomfortable with is a word-picture of God as director/producer of a lifescript in which his creatures are cold-bloodedly manipulated to achieve a result which could have been achieved sooner and more easily if he had just not written such a cold-blooded script. To me, such a picture is not only logically and morally incomprehensible, but incoherent. By trying to explain too much, it makes God appear not only less than divine, but subhuman.

        And there are some human predators who take advantage of just such a word-picture to make their victims believe that the abuse that was received at their hands was of God, though of course it was not. It’s this theology that I’m afraid Mr. Rice may have manipulated his wife with, and which may keep her in a place that will expose her to further depredations from him. I hope I’m wrong.

        • Brianthedad says

          Robert, I think I actually agree with you concerning those giving God the blame (glory?) for creating a problem that he then solves. The times I heard how all those things going on were God’s will was no comfort at all. It’s one of the things that started my path into what is now a dry spot, if not quite a wilderness. In no way am I justifying his behavior. I’ve seen it in my adopted children’s bio-family. It’s terrible and there’s no excuse. My comments were merely directed at hearing something else in her words, much like rick ro and some others suggested. Perhaps that’s what I was hoping she had meant. In any case, I appreciate your thoughts, and Suzanne’s below.

      • Well said, Robert. It’s such a fine line between seeing good come out of a horrible situation and saying, as Janay Rice did, that it’s fortunate that the bad happened. As you said, I don’t see God as the producer/director/author of my life story. If he was, why wouldn’t he just manage it so these bad things didn’t happen to begin with? Awful things happen in this world and as I get older, and hopefully wiser, I don’t see God as having anything to do with that. We live in his love and try to pass that love on to others in spite of our circumstances and theirs. There is a difference between seeing the world as one in which stuff happens and we react through the filter of God’s love as opposed to a God who makes stuff happen precisely so we react in one way or another. I don’t want to be around the latter.

  18. Regarding Laurie’s sermon and Rev White’s rant… It would be nice if this were the cranky side of evangelicalism and we could have a chuckle and forget about such thinking – problem is; it’s mainstream; it’s dogma in many places and so it can’t be ignored. There are some deep-seated, strong “delusions” in the wilderness of american churchianity and my heart aches as to how to even address them – in a loving, empathetic way…

    I see the term tone-deafness used a lot lately, and I think you’re use of it again is appropriate. I see and hear it like a thick, clinging molasses that oozes out everywhere in the white evangelical ghetto I’m a part of…(and maybe your situation is different, but most of the people I know would not even think to question Laurie or White.) But it extends beyond the racial issue. The Greg Laurie thing is another kind of tone-deafness and it’s equally sad and infuriating. There are so many areas (historical, theological, Bible interpretation, overseas Christians, culturally) where we’ve been in our own bubble for so long that our ears have grown permanent ear plugs to anything that’s outside of our little ameri-centric christian-book-distributors, national-religious-broadcasters world… and what’s even sadder is that this tone-deafness is considered by many to be a good, “spiritual” thing to do. It’s become a kind of spiritual discipline to “not listen” to those “others” out there… I’ve been recently admonished that I don’t need to listen to the black man and that I’m reading things that “…no christian should ever read…” Yes it’s a muck and muddy… Lord help us navigate this kind of road.

  19. Klasie Kraalogies says

    On the race issue: Watch this segment from the Daily Show, introducing the new regular member, South African comedian Trevor Noah.

    • Brilliant.

      • Meh. Brilliant, because you agree with it. I just posted this elsewhere, but things we tend to agree with, we see as brilliant.

        Frankly, though somewhat clever, I found the bit intellectually dishonest. Give me a break, the guy feels less safe in America than South Africa because of our cops, just because of a couple of police incidents? And, even more intellectually dishonest, he’s totally ignoring that there are places within black America that he’d feel VERY uncomfortable, and it would have NOTHING to do with police presence.

        • Rick, it was a comedy segment. “Brilliant” means well executed in this case. Of course elements of it are overstated, even absurd. That’s what makes comedy.

          Don’t assume agreement (or anything else) from a one word response.

  20. Dear Megan Hill,

    We settled this one already. Check out the Second Council of Nicaea.

    Church History

  21. Jesus came so that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven, and one day this whole creation, all nations, and people from every tongue, tribe, and nation will be utterly transformed. That’s the gospel, and it has little to do with you building your church and spouting your nonsense.


  22. Is there a world record for the largest number of *animals* at a manger scene? Because that’s one that would actually be fun to beat. A thousand people with only a donkey, a camel and two sheep among them, on the other hand, is seriously lame. 🙂

  23. You’re fast becoming (if not already) the thing you claim to be leaving behind except your special kind of thelogical/spiritual eltism now holds, in contempt, your former self instead of your future self. You are the product of a self-righteous reactionaryism as you have gained what you believe is new enlightenment. Bravo, but the Christian boogeyman is not your former fundamentlism as you crusade with embarassing abandonment to the ignorance of so many faultlines which populate your new leftist theological landscape. Puke. Even when you do venture into leftist theological shortcomings it is with a kind of tepidness and bias that all but makes your complaint invisible and you a coward.

    As to the Bible requiring racial reconciliation, where and by whom and when, in the church? Such theology is historically non-existent for a reason, the church is not anthroplogically based but spiritually based and our reconciliation with God and fellowship with one another as believers is based upon and revolving around Christ and the new spititual man (i.e., spiritual dna) in Christ.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      I think you have stepped on some looong toes this morning, Chaplain Mike. I guess that means a job well done.

    • Alex, I was with you for at least the FIRST paragraph but your take on racial reconciliation is just not valid. Since when are Christians to ignore injustice done to our neighbor when we have the capacity to effect a solution?

      When Micah proclaimed to Israel “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

      It’s the “act justly” part of that quote that applies here. The Jews were required by the Law to care for widows and orphans and the alien (non Jew) amongst them. And in the story of the Good Samaritan Jesus highlighted an answer to the cynical question “Who is my neighbor (brother)”

      In Romans 12:8 Paul said ” If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

      We are not to take Cain’s way out by stating “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
      These are just the most obvious rejoinders to your proposal. But to give you a point, no, the New Testament does NOT directly address racial reconciliation, but to claim that we have no responsibility is just wrong, literalist thinking.

      • I see that I’ve probably misunderstood one of your previous comments…

      • “But to give you a point, no, the New Testament does NOT directly address racial reconciliation,”

        This is completely wrong. The entire ministry of the Apostle Paul addresses racial reconciliation, in Christ.

        In fact, it’s arguable that this is the most important dimension to the outworking of the Gospel in all of Paul’s writing and ministry.

        He actually this previously unheard of unity between Jew and Gentile the “eternal purpose of God.”

        It’s not just there, it’s big. Really big.

    • Edited: inappropriate parts removed.

      Alex —

      I can’t be sure from your rant which of the “faultlines which populate [my] new leftist landscape” you are objecting to. My reaction to silly dispensationalism? My distaste for religious language being used to cover up domestic abuse? My opinion that large religious spectacles don’t really communicate the Christian message well? My abhorrence of iconoclastic theology? My critique of a pastor who wouldn’t bury a Christian woman because she hadn’t paid her tithes?

      Any of those “leftist” rants? I doubt it.

      You apparently object to the fact that I think the gospel has a horizontal dimension which includes not only accepting others in Christ, but also extends to loving our neighbors who may be different than we are and caring about whether they receive justice and are given equal opportunity in a society that claims to be about that.

      If that makes me a theological lefty in your eyes, so be it.

      • A Simple Hillbilly says

        I don’t usually post comments just to avoid arguments and bickering, but I just wanted to point out how these “leftist” issues really aren’t. There are many, many Christians on the conservative right wing of evangelicalism who do not teach or preach dispensationalism, For all the criticisms that exist of Promise Keepers, they would not look kindly on domestic abuse and still keep to an ideal of bridging racial divides. Many, if not most, fundamentalist churches share in there distrust of large religious spectacles or the general mega-church culture.

        I was born and raised in a very traditional and conservative home, and we had no tolerance for the same issues you brought Chaplain Mike. This doesn’t put you on the left or the right, just a threat to many established powers in the “Christian Culture.”

    • “As to the Bible requiring racial reconciliation, where and by whom and when, in the church?”

      How about “There is neither Jew nor Greek…for all are one in Christ Jesus” — St. Paul?

      Reconciliation centers on Christ AND it involves reconciliation across all sorts of lines. If it DOESN’T involve reconciliation across the very deepest wounds of our societies (largely racial here in the US) then it isn’t worth a fig.

      You’re ceding the term “racial reconciliation” to a political left you despise. But why not instead incorporate it as part of the many, many ways Christ calls us to reconcile with one another? Failure to do so only ensures that the commitment to reconciliation in general has no practical, visible dimensions. You can tell me you desire the reconciliation of all men in Christ, and that’s great. But if you bristle at a particular example of it, it’s harder to think you really mean it that deeply.

      • Faulty O-Ring says

        Also neither male nor female, but come on–there has to be male and female, otherwise nobody would be gay.

      • “You’re ceding the term “racial reconciliation” to a political left you despise.”

        Ain’t this a common blunder.

        “‘Those people over there are wrong. I don’t like what they’ve claimed as their main identifier. So I’m going to find every issue they champion and toss it all under the label of that identifier, and that way I can feel perfectly absolved from dealing with any real issues they might be trying to address, because it’s all been bundled together with their primary fault and summarily dismissed under one moniker (‘liberalism’…or whatever).”

        One primary identifying marker for wise Christians, I’ve noticed, is that they don’t do this.

    • “Puke.”

      Is a perspective different from your own really all it takes for you to feel nauseous?

    • Re: your second paragraph, it sounds like, along with so many others calling themselves Chrisitians, you have let yourself off of the hook when it comes to real pain and real suffering of real people made in the image of God. “Such theology is historically non-existent” because the church has largely FAILED in what it has done with its influence and power over the centuries.

      The God who created different looking people in his image cares what you think about this. Please get it right.

    • “As to the Bible requiring racial reconciliation, where and by whom and when, in the church? ”

      This is one of the highly ridiculous things I’m now hearing a lot of these days from Christians who are desperately searching for ways to criticize the protestors in NYC and Ferguson.

      Racial reconciliation in the Bible? How about the WHOLE CANON of the Apostle Paul’s ministry.

      Jew and Gentile, having had the “dividing wall of hostility” broken down by the blood of his cross.

      Let’s ditch the me-and-my-personal-godism and acknowledge what’s actually there in the Bible.

  24. This world sure is a mess.

    I’m a mess.

    “Lord Jesus, come.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Now imagine how that sounds to someone with PTSD from the Gospel According to Hal Lindsay & Jack Chick, built up step-by-step with lurid detailed descriptions of The End Times and Hellfire and Damnation and TurboJesus LORDing it over all the destruction and damnation.

      • Never thought about that.

        I would imagine that any mention of the name ‘Jesus’, might cause those folks to run for the hills.

        • It’s not merely the mention of the name “Jesus” that causes most people to run.

          It is the attitude they perceive in some Christians who use that name to attempt to intellectually or psycho-spiritually beat them up, or hide an agenda that includes any kind of force or manipulation, or use as a rationalization for looking down on them.

          The only thing that changes people’s hearts is when they perceive self-giving love and humility. May God help me to someday get to the place where that, rather than judgment, is what I unambiguously offer in and through my life, as a follower of Jesus Christ. Forgive me.


        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Never thought about that.

          I figured that out long ago from your comment style (which also shows too much time in a church/theological situation and not much time on the outside).

          There are a LOT of bruised reeds out there with a dark & distorted idea of God and Christ, and charging ahead with Sermonese and Jesus Jukes will only break them further. Remember the lesson of Job and his counselors

  25. Desert Storm Libertarian says

    Thank you Lord for allowing my Oregon Ducks to win the PAC 12 championship game last night, although I know God doesn’t care who wins or loses college football games!

    • As a Washington Husky, I can’t wait for God to begin taking Oregon down a notch or two…LOL.

  26. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Greg Laurie, well known senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California preached last week on the “biblical” subject: “Israel, Iran, ISIS in Bible Prophecy.” At one point he focused on that scintillating question that is treated pervasively throughout scripture: Where is the United States of America in biblical prophecy?

    Back in the Seventies and early Eighties on local Christianese AM airwaves, “PASTOR(TM) Greg Laurie” was on as heavy rotation as the various Calvary Chapels. Don’t remember if he was connected to Calvary Chapel at the time or not. Those were the days of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay, when the Bible consisted of 3 1/2 books, all the Prophecies were being Fulfilled in every news story, and “we might not have a 1978! or even a 1977!” (And the damage is still there.)

    PASTOR(TM) Greg’s explanation for “Where is the USA in Revelation’s Checklist?” is a new one on me. “We will be such a Christian Nation that we’ll all go in The Rapture” sounds like the type of Prophecy(TM) that warms the hearts of Rushdoony Reconstructionists everywhere, giving them the Prophetic Anointing and Blessing to take over and rule by Iran-style Theocracy to Fulfill Prophecy. (Twelfth Imam cult with a Christian coat of paint.)

    Back in the Seventies mentioned above, the answer to “that scintillating question” was simple: America would first be destroyed for its (usually Sexual) SINS in Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War. “God’s Judgment for America’s SIN lies ready and waiting in the nuclear missile silos of the Soviet Union!!!!!”

    • i remember in the mid 90s when I went to a CC church. Yeltsin was up for re-election and people were worried he would lose to his ultra nationalist opponent. We had someone (maybe Missler) visit our congregation and talk about how Russia was the Gog and Magog (sp?) in prophecy. And then Yeltsin won his election and all the prophecy predictions forgotten.

      These dispensationalists are just never held accountable for their wrong predictions, are they?

      • Faulty O-Ring says

        But he DID lose to an ultra-nationalist opponent! (On New Years Day, 2000.)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          And all the End Time Prophecy fulfillments automatically adjusted to match, like Stalinist history.

  27. For something uplifting today, I commend on on-line exhibit on Mary in art through the centuries that can be found at the National Museum of Women in the Arts at

    There’s an intro piece and then the show. It is lovely.

  28. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Oh Megan. You wrap your theological books in brown paper?

    And spends her Fridays in a plain whitewashed mosque in Saudi?

    Because that’s the level of “No Graven Images” you get in Wahabi Islam.

    • …and the Puritans, too, right? From what I’m told, confessional Presbyterians aren’t generally allowed to frisbee on Sunday.

      • Not only can they not frisbee on Sundays, but slinky-ing is forbidden year-round! Too sensual.

      • “To Banbury came I, O prophane one, where I saw a Puritan hanging a cat on a Monday, for killing a mouse on a Sunday.”

    • I was just listening to This American Life on NPR and they were talking about a fundamentalist Mormon sect that wouldn’t allow sugar, or store-bought items, or the color red, or children’s toys.

      It kinda went downhill from there.

      • Funny you should say the color red, Ted. Terry Pratchett has a brilliant book called “Monstrous Regiment,” in which there is a god who has gone insane and keeps rewriting his scriptures. One sign of his senility is that he declares the color blue anathema. Never is it possible for fiction to be weirder than life.

        • A survivor of the sect said that there were new rules all the time, always stricter. And the men were expected to go out at night and sabotage their “enemies'” things. If anyone questioned, they were told they should pray more. Outlawing toys for the children, and the color red, were probably the final straws for this survivor, though.

          The story is available This American Life website, and probably your local npr station. Program 541, “Regrets I’ve had a Few.” Several stories precede it, though.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Of course the new rules are always stricter.
            How else can *I* show all you Lukewarms how *I* am so much more Holy than all the rest of you?
            How *I* am So Much More Pleasing to GOD than all you Apostates?
            “CAN YOU TOP THIS?”

          • They did use the term “apostate.” I think it was used interchangeably with “gentile.”

      • Vega Magnus says

        So what happens if someone joins/is born into the sect who happens to have red hair?

  29. senecagriggs yahoo says

    Laurie believes that America’s absence in the global map described in the Revelations [sic] can be explained by one of two scenarios. “No one can say with certainty, but it would appear that we’re going to fade as a world power [because] maybe we fall in line as one of the confederated nations under the antichrist but the version I prefer the most is we would have the rapture and so many Americans would be taken to heaven that that would be the explanation for our demise as a nation.”

    Don’t know why that would upset you C.M. I thought Laurie was pretty careful; did not state this as an absolute but does give two options that are feasible including his favorite. I have, for many a year, pondered the probable absence of the U.S.A in the end times scenarios.

    • I didn’t like it because I don’t think America or any modern nation is in view in the Bible.

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

        It would be pretty difficult, considering the improbability of John of Patmos even knowing of the existence of the American continents…

    • Marcus Johnson says

      I didn’t like it because it was pure speculation. Anything that starts with a “Well, the Bible doesn’t really mention this, but here’s what I think…” is pretty much guaranteed to be a line of BS.

    • Greg Laurie may show some humility in his symbolic interpretation of Revelation, but there is a underlying certainty in his beliefs that a “plain reading” of Revelation necessitates that it is, in fact, a handbook/manual to surviving an ultra violent end times that humanity is hurdling towards with no real hope of any other ending. This framework believes that the info is all there – it’s just in code. So it becomes sort of a game to solve it. It’s that starting point that I doubt. It makes the interpretations themselves of secondary concern and easy for me to ignore.

      Chaplain Mike, it would be interesting to see some of your thoughts on Revelation similar to what you’re doing with the early chapters of Genesis.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I can’t hear the words “plain reading of Revelation” without thinking of all the plagues of Revelation REALLY being the effects of Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War and the Demon Locusts REALLY being helicopter gunships armed with chemical weapons and piloted by long-haired bearded hippies. THAT was also passed off as “The Plain Reading of Revelation — SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE!”

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      Yeah–how can the Antichrist NOT live in New York?!

    • I don’t like it because it presupposes an American superiority, and a hint of God’s supposed love affair with America. It’s always all about us.

    • It’s kind of comical that anyone would assume that America WOULD be mentioned in the end times scenario, barring some catastrophic event.

      Cause the Bible totally revolves around America. So many of the nations of the world (particularly 21st century western nations) are mentioned in Revelation. Why not the U.S? Because the USA is basically the most important dimension of the return of Christ according to the Bible. /sarcasm

      At least, that’s the underlying assumption I’m hearing in Laurie’s words.

  30. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

    Ok, so this is kind of derailing the thread, but we did have a passing glance at neo-Puritanism, and this is just too much mirth not to share. Apparently the “Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” (spot the four errors in that title) has created two new awards named after John Piper and Wayne Grudem. I thought this was parody, but apparently it is a real thing. I’m still laughing! Check it out at TWW:

  31. Vinnie from Tennessee says

    It is just me, or has this site become a forum for negativity, cynicism, and much complaining? You and those commenting seem to have no problem deriding and/or making fun of other believers who are striving to follow Christ to the best of their understanding. If you take a close look, can you really say that Internet Monk is promoting “Jesus-shaped spirituality?” Would this be evident to someone viewing this site for the first time? Just wondering… May the Peace of God rule in all your hearts. 🙂

    • Vinnie, yes, today this site is a forum for negativity, cynicism, and much complaining. We do that now and then. Always have, since Michael Spencer’s earliest blogs, and I imagine it will always be part of IM.

    • In my experience, those calling for an end to the expression of negativity do so out of a deep fear of change. They would rather ignore the reality of the negativity of life than let it unsettle their inadequate, imbedded theologies. Also, it’s pretty easy for those benefiting from the status quo to deny those harmed by it the right to express that harm–it’s far too negative, they reason; it isn’t what Jesus would do…except that it is. And he was killed for his disruption of what had become the status quo. Certainly, many of his critics complained about Christ’s negativity.

      I don’t mean to lump you in that group, Vinnie. Just some thoughts…

      • To defend Vinnie a bit, I’ve sensed what he’s talking about, and I don’t think I fear change. There seems to be an increased snarkiness, both in articles and comments. That’s why it’s so refreshing to read comments by folks like w, who seem to strive to remain positive in their comments despite the comments dropping like bombs around them. There seems to be a bit of elitism drifting in now and then, or prideful cleverness. When a group continually points out the foibles and shortcomings and missteps of others, it best include some similar missteps or satires about itself.

        How about an Onion-like Internet Monk issue. Here could be one headline:

        “Internet Monk Criticizes Janay Rice for Bad Theology; Jesus Says, ‘Bravo!'”

        • senecagriggs yahoo says

          I would add my “plus one” to Vinnie and Rick Ro’s comment on the elitism of those who disagree with a conservative, orthodox perspective on Scripture. I don’t think “snark” really wins arguments.

          • Richard Hershberger says

            What passes as “conservative” and “orthodox” often is quite recent, in the scope of the history of Christianity, and quite heterodox. To pick one example from today’s entry, anything that comes from, or is even reminiscent of, the Scofield Bible is only about a century old, and wildly divergent from most Christian thought from the previous centuries. What brings out the snark in me is not these beliefs so much as the belief that they are either conservative or orthodox.

          • Patrick Kyle says

            I too have noticed a drift here and have been troubled for awhile. I have been at a loss to put it into words, but I think the “elitism of those who disagree with a conservative, orthodox perspective on Scripture.” kind of sums it up. Week after week I read posts that boil down to A.) Another reason why you can’t trust the Scriptures/or you are unqualified to interpret them for yourself. And B.) Why the traditional/ conservative/ historical view on X is wrong/bigoted/misogynist, etc. Some of the comment threads are slug fests, and defending some of the traditional views is an open invitation to be mocked, dismissed, or dog piled. Or labeled with one of the social justice warrior perjoratives

            I love this blog and this community. I was a friend of Michael Spencer’s and am a friend of Chaplain Mike’s. I have read this blog most days since 2007. Maybe this blog has always been this way, and as I get older I am losing my taste for such things. However, from my point of view, I feel pretty much the same and it seems the blog is moving away in another direction.

            • I’m willing to admit that I continue to study and consider various positions on the Bible and what it teaches. And Patrick, it may be that I have “drifted,” though that word is entirely too passive for my taste. The fact is that I am and I guess always will be a spiritual mongrel, and my somewhat eclectic views don’t suit everyone (maybe not anyone!). In my view, that was one of Michael’s characteristics too, and if you have read his writings in real time over the years, you saw him moving along various paths rather than standing still. And people were often troubled by this too.

              What I’m confused about is why this is considered “elitism.” There is no magisterium here, no one threatening that if you disagree you are unworthy. Frankly, I wish more dedicated conservatives would read iMonk and join the conversation. It might balance out the comment threads a bit. Unfortunately, some of the ones who do manifest the same hubris as the ones they are trying to counter and it just ends up being a slugfest.

              As I’ve said before, the iMonk auditorium has seats on the right, left, and in the center. Why would I want to only have conversation with those who agree with me? I can’t think of anything more boring.

          • Patrick, i don’t see what you’re seeing, at least, not in the way that you’re seeing it. For a lot of us, there aren’t many venues to discuss ongoing difficulties with the fallout from leaving the evangelical world. Differing views on interpretation, along with differing understandings of many issues, are, imo, inevitable.

            ISTM that the views you hold arent necessarily being mocked at all. But to expect comments – and commenters – to be like they were 7-8 years ago is unrealistic. People change. Some things remain the same, while others don’t.

            In some ways, these comments about the state of the comments remind me of the brouhaha a little over a year ago about iMonk turning into “a Lutheran blog.” I’m not meaning to dismiss your concerns, but at the same time, i think it’s helpful to engage with folks where and as they are.

            Meanwhile, I’m still scratching my head over your asking me why i don’t just convert to Judaism, as well as assuming that my views on xtianity and Judaism must be that one religion is “superior” while the other must then be “inferior.” Those are your assumptions, not mine, and i never intended to imply those things. It might be that some of us are talking past each other, and i can see how that might be perceived as criticism when it isn’t necessarily the case.

          • Numo,

            Could it be that you don’t see it because you agree with it?

          • Jon, that’s a spot-on observation. Things we tend to agree with, we see as brilliant. Things we don’t, we see as dumb. Take the Jon Stewart/Trevor Noah bit on the Daily Show. Though somewhat clever, it was also intellectually dishonest. Give me a break, the guy feels less safe in America than South Africa because of our cops, just because of a couple of police incidents? And it totally ignores that there are places within black America that he’d feel VERY uncomfortable, and it would have NOTHING to do with the police presence there.

            I’ve drifted a lot too, CM. I guess my main concern is the lack of self-deprecation amidst the seeming increased snarkiness. Best be careful, else this site drift toward a liberal spiritual version of Mark Driscoll, where everyone else is wrong.

            • Lack of self-deprecation? Really, Rick? I hesitate to answer that because it might sound overly defensive, but the truth is, I don’t trust myself any further than I could throw all 250 lbs of me. Don’t confuse expressing confidence in a particular direction of thought with self-exaltation, nor disagreement with condescension. It never ceases to amaze me how people draw conclusions from a few words on a page. In fact, I may be doing that very thing right now. If so, please clarify.

          • To those who replied to my comment to Patrick about conversion to Judaism, etc.: i am genuinely puzzled by what he said to me. It’s not about brilliant vs. not-so-brilliant, but about some of the assumptions that both he and i appear to be making. In other words, we might well be misreading each other.

            As is, in your comments, you’re making presuppositions, since it seems neither of you know why he was making that statement about conversion. If you go back a couple of posts, you can read the comments in question.

          • Richard H-

            Thank you for pointing this out. This has always been a hallmark of IMonk’s posting, to my mind. Michael Spencer unmasked pseudo-conservative Christianity brilliantly.

          • Patrick Kyle says


            In the previous thread in question, you talked about ‘so-called christians’ judging Judaism as an inferior faith. Are we really going to question people’s salvation if they consider Christianity superior to other faiths? My point to you was that we all inherently choose what we think is ‘best’ for us in whatever realm. If I thought Judaism was equal to or better in it’s truth/accuracy in portraying God and His character, I would become Jewish. I think Christianity is clearly superior/more accurate in it’s portrayal of God than any other belief system. So, I am a Christian. If you think Judaism is in no way inferior to Christianity,(as you clearly stated with periods after every word) my question to you is ‘ Why don’t you convert?’ I was calling you out on a (perceived) failure on your part to recognize your preference for Christianity while castigating others for their preference of Christianity.


            I agree that the sainted founder of this blog was growing and evolving along various paths. I have reservations about some of the lines of inquiry lately. I want to state for the record that I am not against historical and cultural study of the cultures and religion that gave rise to the Scriptures and the Christian faith and the insights that arise from it.. I am not against constructive literary analysis. But to borrow a phrase from our friend Faulty O Ring, I do have an issue with ‘multi culti deconstructional lit crit bullshittery.’ I think it is more a reflection of the priorities of the present culture than solid scholarship. That being said, I can’t help but see a trend in the posts. In the last several weeks:

            1. How the perspicuity of Scripture is not true = How you are unable to read it for yourself and really be sure of anything.

            2. Now that Higher Criticism has changed our view of Scripture, where do we go? = Now that we know the Scriptures aren’t an accurate reporting of what really happened, what’s left of the faith?

            3. How I became an Egalitarian = How I found out the church has been wrong and misoginistic for 1900 years.

            4. How the traditional doctrine of the Fall is wrong. = Sin hasn’t wrecked or tainted us that bad,.

            5. New perspective on Paul = How Luther and the Reformation totally missed the boat. ( If NT Wright is correct, the Reformation was much ado about nothing.).

            These were just in the last few weeks. If I went through the archives I could find more in a similar veins. Does any of this stuff really encourage us in the faith, or does it erode our faith away?

            Anyway, brother, it’s your blog and your journey. A number of us will be unable to accompany you much further on it. Michael Spencer was on a journey, but I think it was in another direction. However we will never know for sure because he finished his race and was called home. God’s Peace, my friend.

            • Patrick, I think you’ve taken what we’ve written and put the most extreme spin on it.

              1. How the perspicuity of Scripture is not true = How you are unable to read it for yourself and really be sure of anything.

              In this post, Damaris is actually commending the time-honored, traditional role of the church in believers’ reading of Scripture. The Bible is not a simple book, as some who hold “perspicuity” would have us believe. We read in fellowship with the church, not as solo flyers.

              2. Now that Higher Criticism has changed our view of Scripture, where do we go? = Now that we know the Scriptures aren’t an accurate reporting of what really happened, what’s left of the faith?

              To say that “the Scriptures aren’t an accurate reporting of what really happened” was not the point of the post. If you read carefully, Pete Enns said we must be as critical of higher criticism as of naive readings of Scripture. But we also cannot deny its contributions blindly.

              3. How I became an Egalitarian = How I found out the church has been wrong and misoginistic for 1900 years.

              This blog has a long history of supporting the full contribution of women in the church. It has been the consistent interpretation here at IM for years. However, I don’t think you can put us in the same category of those who teach this while emphasizing the negative (the “misoginy” of the church) as you suggest. We stress the positive and honor women. Furthermore, we recognize that there is a difference between “complementarianism” and the sacramental traditions when it comes to this issue, and we have made it clear we have more respect for the latter.

              4. How the traditional doctrine of the Fall is wrong. = Sin hasn’t wrecked or tainted us that bad,.

              Even though my point was that Genesis does not support the “Fall” language, it doesn’t mean I think “Sin hasn’t wrecked or tainted us that bad.” That’s a poor reading of the posts. I affirmed universal sinfulness and our need of Christ. I just think it might work a little differently than has been traditionally presented.

              5. New perspective on Paul = How Luther and the Reformation totally missed the boat. ( If NT Wright is correct, the Reformation was much ado about nothing.).

              Michael was one of the people who introduced me to NT Wright. The implication of the New Perspective is not that the Reformation “missed the boat.” It is that we today, who read the Bible, think the Reformation’s issues were the exact same issues that Jesus and the apostles faced in the first century. The Reformation was necessary in its day. That does not mean we should read the Bible as though all the issues of the 16th century were there in Scripture in the same way.

              One last thing. Please remember, Patrick, that IM is a discussion site. If it has evolved from when Michael wrote, that is one of its biggest evolutions. We have and allow much more discussion today than he did. I think it is important that we discuss the issues that are being talked about in religion, particularly evangelicalism, today. And since it is a blog, it will usually mean those issues that I take interest in. And what I am primarily interested in is Jesus the living Word, as experienced in by individuals in communities of faith, hope, and love, who live out their vocations and mission in the world.

              I hope that whatever is written will always support that.

          • Patrick, WRT the comments in question about anti-semitism (which you believe to no longer be an issue in today’s world), both Robert F and I said a number of things. I don’t want to continue this any further, since I believe there is some misreading/misunderstanding going on.

            However, in response to the thought that I am questioning peoples’ salvation, here is the quote you were referring to, where I used the term so-called Christians –

            …And too many Americans who fall all over the Israeli goverment and Jewish people are only doing do because they want to see the temple rebuilt, thus setting things up for Jesus to come back. Few of these people know anything about Judaism, and probably don’t actually like being around Jewish people. They are a means to an end, practicing a religion that is considered innately inferior and corrupt by far too many so-called xtians.

            It was intended as a statement about anti-semitism.

        • I understand where you’re coming from, Rick. There are many reasons for bemoaning the expression of negativity, and I pointed to one that I’ve experienced many times–even in my own heart. That’s not meant to lump all people (or any person, really) into that category. It is, after all, just a category, and we all contain multitudes. We all speak from our own contexts. One of my professors likes to say that misunderstanding is the norm; every once in a while understanding miraculously breaks through.

          • Thanks, Will.

            “…misunderstanding is the norm; every once in a while understanding miraculously breaks through.”

            I like that. In a similar vein, I try to view life/God similarly. That is, that calamity is the norm, and it’s God’s miraculous grace that prevents it from overwhelming us daily and hourly. Thus, when bad happens, it’s something God has been graciously holding at bay for a long, long time.

        • Patrick Kyle says

          “Internet Monk Criticizes Janay Rice for Bad Theology; Jesus Says, ‘Bravo!’”


          • Thanks.

            How about this one:
            “IMonk Changes Motto from Jesus-Shaped Spirituality to ‘Sorta-Jesus-Shaped’
            ‘After all,’ says IMonk, ‘Do any of us really know how Jesus was shaped?'”

        • Rick, I’m glad that it was YOU who said that! If it were me I’m sure I would be pilloried (see reactions to MY posts above!)

  32. Brianthedad says

    Since there was no video in today’s ramblings, and in response to Vinnie’s concern above about negativity, I vote we all watch this, take a deep breath and thank God for Carsons and Mr. Ernies everywhere.

  33. Marcus Johnson says

    While I find Janay Rice’s comments to be particularly disturbing, I would caution people to place her comments first within the context of a person in an abusive relationship before passing judgment. If this was the comment of a loudmouth ultra-conservative sexist talking head, I would be totally okay with ripping into the foolishness of this argument. But the psyche of a person who is in an abusive relationship is so complex, as are the defensive mechanisms which that person must build to survive such a relationship. Maybe she feels she has to avoid the reality of an abusive relationship. Definitely something worth considering. She is both a victim of physical and mental abuse. I’ll be praying for her.

  34. It is just me, or has this site become a forum for negativity, cynicism, and much complaining? You and those commenting seem to have no problem deriding and/or making fun of other believers who are striving to follow Christ to the best of their understanding. If you take a close look, can you really say that Internet Monk is promoting “Jesus-shaped spirituality?” Would this be evident to someone viewing this site for the first time? Just wondering… May the Peace of God rule in all your hearts. 🙂

    • May the Peace of God rule in all our hearts, Vinnie, Janay, Ray, Faulty, w, RobertF, Daisy, our stalwart Chaplain, others too numerous to mention, please don’t forget me. Amen!

    • Thank you, Vinnie.

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      It’s just a slogan. It doesn’t really mean anything.

      • Slogans do have a tendency to eventually lose their intended meaning. Or they can be given so many different meanings that they no longer mean any particular thing objectively. Subjectively though, slogans have much meaning for many people. Just because a certain slogan holds no meaning for you, does not mean that it does not hold meaning for others.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Vinnie, sometimes “Kumbaya” becomes a bit unbearable. So at least once a week the switch to “We’re not gonna take it!” is very welcome. After all, a fair amount of Scripture itself is given over to “negativity” too – ask all those prophets, St Paul, Jesus in the temple etc etc

    • The problem is that “striving to follow Christ to the best of their understanding” is not good enough. Only “striving to follow the Christ of Scripture” is.

      • Sorry, Nate. Should have said “best understanding of Scripture.” That was my thought, anyway. Thanks for clearing that up. 🙂

  35. When they have a lot of power, religious fanatics blow up Buddhas:;
    when they don’t have much power, they wrap the images on the covers of theological books in brown paper.

  36. As a life-long Southerner, Christian, and as a recovering Fundamentalist I must say this about the white Christian tribe in the South relative to “The “most pitiful understanding of the gospel” award of the week” . . .

    When push came to shove in the ’60’s through the ’80’s with integration white Evangelicals/Fundamentalist made the comfortable choice to draw their children out of schools that were being integrated and to put them into their “Christianized white education compounds” aka “Private Christian Education™”

    Yes, I know that it was really about declining education standards, secular indoctrination, atheistic brain-washing via EVOLUTION™, and a whole host of other “issues”. But, the real issue was INTEGRATION.

    On the whole, white Evangelicals FAILED to love their neighbor. We didn’t give a crap about our neighbor. Rather, we wanted to get as far to the other side of the road as possible. At least White Supremacist where honest about it….

    The penalty of that sin will continue to draw interest as long as idiots like Dr. Randy White are considered credible.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Dr White (honorary or real doctorate?) is another manifestation of a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation. Nothing else matters except getting that ticket punched for Fluffy Cloud Heaven.

  37. “If there is something Biblical that expresses racial reconciliation as a gospel demand, I’ve missed it.”

    Translation: I’ve never laid eyes on the inside of a Bible.

  38. I’ve been looking for a chance to float this theory I have, and the quote about covering Jesus’ image on theological books provides a great opportunity…

    I wonder, since nature abhors a vacuum, if this type of anti-visual (ultimately, anti-art) interpretation of the puritan school has starved some evangelicals to the point where they’ve unwittingly created their own class of “icons” for use in the church. What is the most prominent visual image you see on church promo material, or books, websites, etc?

    Based only on personal observation: the most common image used by evangelicals in America is that of the Christian (or a whole crowd of them) in a posture of devotion. Hands raised, ‘seeking God,’ pouring their heart into worship, or some such thing. Often against the backdrop of clouds, or a U2 style light show. Or perhaps a couple of people bent over a Bible, intently studying.

    I work in a Baptist megachurch, and I see stuff like this everywhere, on the walls, on the handouts, on the books. And if icons are a window, an aid for worship, and our American icons are all of ourselves (or how we imagine we should be) then what does this say about our worship? Theological implications?

    It’s all about MEEEEEEE….and my awesome worship!! “I woooorship you, Loooorrrrd……”

    Let us all praise ourselves for how devoted we are to God…

  39. I had something to add re: negativity complaints.

    This website has always been a place for people who are having friction with their Christian faith, and a lot of these people are dealing with years of hurt and current confusion and uncertainty as to where the chips will fall in regard to something that was once the most important aspect of their lives. So, I think there is a bit of a raw edge on stuff around here at times, especially in the comments section.

    I’ve had moments where I’ve had to take a break from reading for a time, but have come back later to find reading and participating a positive experience again. Some of it has to do with how the content has drifted over time, but it also has come from where I am in regards to my own faith and personal issues.

    So… take a breather if it’s getting too hairy. The site will be here (I think) in a few weeks or months, or you can find a better place to hang out on the internets.