January 27, 2021

The IM Weekend File: 11:24:07

belushi.jpegI think we all have to give a round of applause to the ordinary folks at Oral Roberts University who said “Enough is enough.” Richard Roberts- while far from being the worst offender in this collection of Tetzels- exemplified everything that is wrong with the Tulsa/TBN version of Charismatic evangelicalism. Smarmy, unscrupulous, self-serving and slick: Roberts’ departure should encourage the “little people” in abusive ministries everywhere to blow the whistles and tell the truth.

Wade Burleson has taken the current obsession of the leadership of several Baptist state conventions- teetotalism- and goes to the next level in an outstanding piece of satire on the Biblical case for abstaining from tea. It’s about time someone started pointing out the Monty Python-esque nature of this windmill hunt. No one ever expects tha Spanish Inquisition, of course.

Hill Avenue Lutheran Church has a display of the art of John August Swanson, and it ought to remind us of this small thing so many churches could do: display the work of a Christian artist (or artists) in their communities. We have much to repent of in the suppression of art. Evangelicals have continually acted as if art was the domain of the devil. Meanwhile, artists like Kincaid have extended the reign of kitsch. Letting serious artists like Swanson see the light of day in our churches isn’t some emerging fad. It’s repentance on our part and proclamation of the Gospel.

It’s a cold day somewhere when I link Phil Johnson, but he’s got it right in this piece on the fascination many of the current crop of emerging leaders have with acceptance from the secular left. (I’ll have more to say about that one in an upcoming book review.) Phil is dead on target with this post. I was recently interviewed for CRN.info’s podcast and I said that the emerging church now has its own college of cardinals who are overwhelmingly headed right down the road of the mainline liberal disaster. What was once the sound of some very good questions has now become “Everything Must Change.” Uhh….No, I don’t think so.

On a personal note, I was greeted this morning with a 4 page comment here at IM giving me a list of reasons I should convert to the Roman Catholic Church like the author, a former Southern Baptist. It was hardly the first. I get a similar epistle in these comments every day, and I don’t post any of them. This barrage of Roman Catholic convert fervor is accomplishing exactly the opposite of what anyone intends. My good experiences with Catholic brothers and sisters is getting drowned out by the shouts of converted evangelicals who can’t sleep till I do the same. A forthcoming IM piece will outline how the “Convert Crew” has deeply affected my own experience and thoughts about Catholicism…negatively.

Meanwhile, it’s taken about a day, but the “you can’t say that about John Piper” posse has me on the post-thanksgiving meal. While discussing Witherington at Thinklings, a commenter has this to say:

But are you saying that God didn’t also send his Son to glorify his name through the redemption of creation?

Getting your orthodoxy under suspicion as quickly as possible is a predictable tactic. And when I say that is not what I said or believe, then it’s time for analysis of my character and motives.

I think you left your statement vague enough so that you could claim this kind of plausible deniability when anybody called you out, but you either won’t really say or don’t know what your problem is with Piper.

The fact that I am one of the few people with a critical word to say about Piper doesn’t get me any points. If I have a problem with Piper, it must be because of my psychological problems.

Anyone wonder why I say that we aren’t going to have a critical discussion of Piper anytime soon? Exhibit A.

Now, where can I go take my daily “Loyalty Oath” to the only theology that gets things right? (jn)


  1. I just wanted to say . . . though I am a convert to Catholicism from an evangelical background, I have nothing invested in you converting. I really enjoy your blog because you are a (post)evangelical saying things I wish people had said in the churches I had been in prior to converting, and saying things I wish more evangelicals would pay heed to. (And frankly some of the attitudes and behaviors you confront evangelicals about that I find most disturbing are present among Catholics as well.)

    I do comment occasionally on your posts about Catholicism because I enjoy discussing it (and in some cases to answer questions you’ve posed in your posts or respond to portrayals of Catholic theology that seem to me to be inaccurate), but not because I think you need to be alerted to the errors of your ways. I think we all have a spiritual path and journey that God calls us to; the most important thing is to stay faithful to that.

    I don’t know if this perception on my part is accurate, but I’ve gotten the impression from your comments on this topic that your bad experiences with Catholics have mostly been virtual ones, on the internet, and your good experiences have mostly been in-person ones. I realize the irony of saying this as someone who is only an “internet Catholic” to you, but I would weight the in-person experiences a lot heavier than the virtual ones. The internet has a way of making small factions seem a lot more significant than they are – which is probably why bad elements of all sorts find it so attractive. Any group no matter how small can have a website, anyone can comment, and people from all parts of the country and the world are brought together into one virtual space. It’s a powerful medium but it can be one that really distorts one’s image of people and the world if it is taken too seriously.

    I know that personally, my tendencies to, well, misanthropy have been greatly magnified by my reading people’s websites and comments on political, race, and gender issues – many of the which are truly disheartening. All that to say – I had false images and expectations of what Catholic parish life looked like built up in my head because of the time I spent on theologically (and often politically) conservative Catholic sites. My in-person experiences with lay and clerical Catholics has been much more positive than I expected given all that I read before converting. Ultimately I ended up cutting out all but one Catholic blog from my reading (that would be Cardinal O’Malley’s blog) since I wasn’t really finding them edifying. Actually, I’ve cut most religion blogs in general from my reading for this same reason.

    I’m sorry people have targeted you with a conversion campaign. I hope I haven’t contributed to this in any way; if I did it was entirely unintentional and I apologize. I don’t know you but I consider you my brother.

  2. I should add the disclaimer that my previous comment is not intended as an apologia for Catholicism, but rather as an statement of where this one internet Catholic is coming from, in terms of experiences and perspectives. Speaking for myself alone, when I comment it isn’t with the intention of trying to persuade you or anyone else want to become Catholic or think as I do, but simply that – to comment. But in any event I think it’s probably best to stick to commenting on what I find most interesting about your blog in the first place, which is your interesting (and desperately needed) critical perspective on evangelical culture.

  3. I remember seeing Richard Roberts on a local show a few years go. He was ostensibly receiving a word from the Lord for people who were watching the program. There was a point where he put God “on hold”, telling the Lord to wait a minute while Roberts finished what he was doing or saying. I remember thinking how arrogant that was.

    Perhaps he left God on hold for too long. If he hears from the Lord, why didn’t he get a word of knowledge that this was coming? Arrogance?

    I applaud the University as well for standing up to the purported wrongs and pray that their focus be turned back to Christ.

  4. Michael, Alan may not be being “nice” to you, but I seriously doubt it has anything to do with a defense of Piper on his part. I have not ever known him for Piper fanboyism.

    I think he is trying to have a vigorous discussion in the same way he thought you were interested in one. Inserting a Touch Not the Lord’s Anointed factor into his motives is not warranted (in this instance), I don’t believe.

  5. Jared,

    I appreciate that, but Alan’s turning psycholoigist on me- commenting on my “hidden” motives and lack of honesty in posting- has a familiar ring.

    I certainly don’t care if he is a Piper supporter or not. I’ve been trying to be a Piper supporter for several years, but as Alan’s comments exemplify, it’s extremely difficult to discuss critically without being told you’ve got some underlying problem. I wouldn’t call it “touch not the Lord’s anointed.” I’d call it “critics of Calvinism are up to something” syndrome.

    I don’t have a personal relationship with Alan. Thanks for the information, but all I know is that within two posts suddenly I’m the topic of discussion in terms that sound like “The Frank Turk Files.”



  6. Just for the record, I’m not the Alan they’re talking about up there. I think it’s cool that his name is spelled right but I’ve never been close to being a Calvinist I don’t think.

    I wanted to connect to Tope’s comment and say a big hearty “I hear you” on the online Catholic thing. Being a Catholic myself, the only time I’m ever going to be talking to anyone about converting or reverting to Catholicism is if they were to ask me what I thought personally, if they asked me to help them sort through some things. I’m still sorting through my own business with the Catholic Church presently so I very much get a lot of the questions people have. I have no desire to put any notches on my Vatican flag wall.

    Most of my correspondence with you, Michael, about anything Catholic have been in private e-mails. Lord knows that hasn’t taken the shape of my trying to turn your spiritual head. Personally, I have no fear for your salvation. I’m not sure what’s up with people making it their “job” to worry about the salvific state of folk they don’t know on the internet. It’s just odd. My guess is that it makes them feel like they’re doing something holy or good. Unfortunate. So many things are unfortunate.

    You are my brother in Christ. We certainly don’t agree on everything. There’s a lot of overlap though. Everyone is sort of funky in some way, so yeah, you’re funky. I’m funky. Rome is funky (can you smell it?) And the holy Church headquartered in Nashville is some kind of funky herself. God loves all of us, His whole Bride. I’ll sign up for a back down from the “team sports” mentality for sure. Peace to you.

  7. Commenting on the affect the Catholic “Convert Crew” has had on you has made me think. Are we evangelicals guilty of the same tactics? Do we take positive experiences unbelievers might have with us, experiences that actually might be leading them closer to faith alone in Jesus alone, and turn them negative by “jamming Jesus down their throats”?

    Yes, we must proclaim the gospel and that does risk affecting someone negatively. But I think there is a difference between “holding forth the Word of Life” and stuffing him down someone’s throat.

    Maybe we can learn a thing or two from the “Convert Crew.”

  8. Michael, it’s Smarmy, not swarmy.

    Good post.

  9. Good. I am glad Roberts got nailed. After being wrongfully terminated from CRI via Hank, and watching dozens of others being terminated also, I am still waiting for a bit of justice there too. Hank lives the same lavish lifestyle that he decries in the TBN crowd-Lexus for his kids, superdooper house, all the while his employees live off pretty much poverty level wages. He ghost writes or worse yet plagiarizes. All of these “ministries” are businesses. It isn’t a matter of if they are but how much they are. I used to compare horror stories with a romemate who worked for Focus when I was at CRI. It is amazing how loyal people are to these personality cult leaders. They follow these people around as if they were movie stars and then they wonder why they produce Christians who are so quackadox, lacking in virtue and have the spiritual lifespan shorter than natural gestation. They are atheist breeding grounds. So I say with St. Paul, expose the deeds of darkness.

    Have a nice day. 🙂

  10. Michael,

    You may have already seen these, but Jeremy Pierce at Parableman has some posts that discuss and disagree with Piper’s theology that I found very good.


  11. Okay, dud link. Instead go to Parableman (http://parablemania.ektopos.com/) and put “Piper” “Glory” in the search engine. The post, “Why I’m no longer a Piperite” is good.

  12. I posted the link to that “Tea Drinking is a SIN” essay on a YahooGroup list I belong to, with a note about its background in the Missouri SBC’s Battle of the Booze (again!).

    The most spectacular response (from one of the other listers) was a fiery sermon denouncing its BLASPHEMY! and carrying on about Demon Rum. (Welch’s at Cana? WTF?)

    The Battle of the Booze will never end…

  13. Do we take positive experiences unbelievers might have with us, experiences that actually might be leading them closer to faith alone in Jesus alone, and turn them negative by “jamming Jesus down their throats”? — Scott

    Check IMonk’s “Why Do They Hate Us?” essay on this site.

Speak Your Mind