He’s already off to a great start!

February 29, 2008

Charles Barkley has for years indicated his interest in being the Governor of Alabama.  Back on February 15, he declared his definitive plans to run for that office.  Implicitly, he also announced at least two of the probable planks in his campaign platform.  And he clearly lays out the gauntlet for anyone who is politically “right of center”, when he states his opinion of conservatives.

What do you think?  Does he have a chance?  He’s got 6 years to climb out of the hole he digs for himself in this interview.  Of course, with his big mouth, he also has time to dig that hole even deeper.

Barkley uses too broad a brush in painting all conservatives or all Republicans.  However, as much as I think this guy should have retreated to the recliner to watch basketball rather than comment on it, and that he has no business being the chief executive of a state, he does stumble into making a point that conservatives and Christians ought to consider.  While we have every right to be opposed to gay and lesbian marriages and the murder of unborn children, do our actions and our rhetoric sometimes leave our observers and hearers with the (perhaps correct) impression that we are hypocritically judgmental?  Something to ponder.


Warning – radio show contains psychobabble!

February 28, 2008

Oprah Winfrey is an entertainment mogul, pop culture idol, and high priestess of social righteousness.  Her television show is hugely popular, but not being a fan of hers, I have just learned that she also a daily radio program aired on XM satellite radio.  Who knew? 


A part of the Oprah’s radio program is dedicated to author Marianne Williamson.  Williamson is reviewing something called A Course in Miracles which was “scribed” by Helen Schucman and transcribed by William Thetford, both of whom were Ph.D’s at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital.  Schucman claims to have been given instruction by the unmistakeable voice of Jesus, wherein He said “This is a course in miracles, please take notes.”  She claims that “the Voice” made no sound, but gave a rapid, inner dictation, which she took down in a shorthand notebook.  The process of “scribing” and transcribing took 7 years, to the month, starting in October, 1965 and was completed in October, 1972.  Both Schucman and Thetford are deceased.

I would never argue with the reality of divine inspiration.  After all, that is the authority we credit with the underlying authorship of the 66 books of scripture.  And I believe today the Holy Spirit continues to communicate with believers in the “still small voice” or “gentle whisper” that Elijah heard in 1 Kings 19.  However, I am troubled with the notion that any such contemporary inspiration would be so contrary to biblical doctrine as is evidenced in A Course in Miracles.  

“Course” is now controlled by a non-profit organization called Foundation for Inner Peace.  Marianne Williamson describes A Course in Miracles as “a self-study program of spiritual  psychotherapy.”  Psychobabble would be a better description.  The bottom line is this, both A Course in Miracles and Marianne Williamson are New Age through and through.  What may be confusing to many though, is that Williamson and the “Course” use heavy doses of Christian language.  They use terms such as God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, guilt, atonement, spiritual death, rebirth, prayer, etc.  To the casual observer, it may sound as if it is grounded in Christian theology, but it is NOT.  “Course” and its continued proclamation is rooted in the corruption of orthodox Christianity with New Age thought, that can be laid, in part, at the feet of Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral fame.

Here are some excerpts from the segment that aired on Wednesday on Oprah & Friends.

“These review exercises assert the reality of a different identity than the one given to you by the world. It is your holiness, not your worldly self, that is the truth of who you are and the source of all your good.

These ideas are for review today:

My holiness envelops everything I see.
From my holiness does the perception of the real world come. Having forgiven, I no longer see myself as guilty. I can accept the innocence that is the truth about me. Seen through understanding eyes, the holiness of the world is all I see, for I can picture only the thoughts I hold about myself.

My holiness blesses the world.
The perception of my holiness does not bless me alone. Everyone and everything I see in its light shares in the joy it brings to me. There is nothing that is apart from this joy, because there is nothing that does not share my holiness. As I recognize my holiness, so does the holiness of the world shine forth for everyone to see.”

What??  I can’t figure out what this means, and the text that followed it on the radio show is not helpful either.  While I am at a loss to understand what is trying to be taught, I am clear about one thing.  It strikes me that the teaching is utterly self-glorifying.  More can be read at the Oprah & Friends site.

For the secular minded, this stuff may encouraging and a real source of peace.  For those whose pursuit is the One True God, this is not helpful, and is further evidence of the danger of reliance on those, such as Winfrey and her proxies, who offer spirituality apart from true and authentic worship of Jesus Christ.

HT:  Leigh

Q & A about “Emergent”

February 27, 2008

Not a new video.  And it may have made the rounds several times.  Nevertheless,  it presents a great albeit brief defining perspective on the terms “post-modernism” and especially the theological movement often referred to as “Emergent.”  The panel includes, left to right, Ravi Zacharias, Al Mohler, and R.C. Sproul.

Post-modernism is a societal, cultural and intellectual trend that has been forming and manifesting itself for decades, and not a new discovery, although its name may have been more recently assigned.  In retrospect, it might well have been fully predictable even from centuries ago based on mankind’s inherited sin nature and our fundamental rejection of authority, especially as relates to absolute truth.

The dangerous thing about the Emergent Church Movement, is that, unlike orthodox Christianity, it seems to encourage rebellion from truth which ultimately leads to death.  All for the sake of celebrating diversity and inclusiveness.  For all the generosity and permissiveness of their doctrine, the Emergents are merely applying a salve of ignorance to an ultimately fatal condition.  But it is a fatal condition that is otherwise treatable and curable by the application of that which may be uncomfortable, but life-giving…The Truth!

Overheard #4

February 26, 2008

With her campaign on the ropes and pollsters giving Barack Obama nearly an 80% chance of winning the democrat nomination, leave a comment as to what might have been overheard in this conversation between Hillary and Bill.



February 25, 2008

Click on the image to enlarge, if you dare.


HT: my Dad

The Driscoll Dichotomy

February 22, 2008

This week has seen yet another blow-up in the ongoing debate about the ministry of Mark Driscoll.  Driscoll is the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle and one of the founders and leaders of Acts 29 Network, which is an organization focusing on church planting.  Mark is also one of the original members of the Young Leaders Network, which was in part responsible for the study of the contemporary church’s ineffectiveness with the so-called post-modern generation.  That network of men has since fragmented with some of its original leaders assuming roles in what is now called the Emergent Village, others who would be labeled as “emerging” and still others who have concentrated on fully evangelical pursuits.  Driscoll falls into this last category.

However, Mark Driscoll has not styled himself or his ministry in the manner of some of the other conservative theologians who are hugely popular right now, even among post-moderns, such as  John Piper, Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney, and Josh Harris, among others.  And because of that, he comes under frequent fire from many different directions for his style of preaching, and even the clothes he wears and his appearance.  Occasionally from the men listed above, but especially from the blogoshere.  What strikes me as ironic is that considering Mark is on their same “team”, it might be more accurately called “friendly fire.”

This week, uberblogger Tim Challies reviewed Driscoll’s new book Vintage Jesus.  Overall, Challies thought the book had its good points and was biblically and theologically sound.  However, he could not in good conscience recommend it broadly because of Driscoll’s choice of words when describing various parts of the narrative of Jesus’ life.  The comment section of Challies’ blog lit up.  The expected (at least as far as I am concerned) occurred.  Those who defend Mark Driscoll’s ministry wrote back and forth with those who are indignant about him and his ministry style.

On Wednesday, Challies wrote another blog, this time with the title “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Mark Driscoll?”  A PROBLEM!?  Challies begins by saying on Wednesday that he liked 99.9% of the book but was troubled by a couple of mis-steps he thought were quite serious.  The real purpose of the second blog, I believe, was for Challies to qualify some of the comments he made the day before and maybe to do a little mea culpa in terms of explaining the basis of his review and criticism.  The comments section of his blog exploded again.  And it was the same scenario as the day before with cordial, mostly edifying disagreement between the two sides.

What strikes me most profoundly about Mark Driscoll and his ministry is how effective it is.  He claims to pastor one of the fastest growing churches in one of the least “churched” cities in the U.S.  And yet he is roundly criticized by so many.  Why are his efforts being so richly blessed by God, if he is as awful as so many of the naysayers suggest? 

I am careful to use the term, but I am a Mark Driscoll “fan.”  Or at least I am an admirer of his ability to combine a timeless message with timely methods to reach a comparatively unchurched generation.  Do I appreciate every aspect of his ministry style, especially his smashed-mouth approach.  Absolutely not!  Do I cringe at some of the things he says?  You bet!  Do I think he could find better words or phrases to say the same things?  Yes, I do.  Do I have the same threshold of sensibilities and sensitivities as his congregation?  Probably not, after all, I am probably 25-30 years older than most of the worshipers at Mars Hill.  That doesn’t make me any better, just different.  Do the ends justify Mark’s means, vis a vis his style of ministry?  I guess I would answer that by saying I can overlook the style as long as the substance is there.  And interestingly, Driscoll is seldom criticized for his theology, even by the folks who call for him to repent, or even step down from his pulpit.  Isn’t it the substance of the doctrine that ultimately matters?  I guess that I will take the position that I’ll let God be the judge of whether Driscoll’s style is something He approves of, merely tolerates, or loathes.  If it is the latter, I believe our sovereign God has the power to change it, even to the point of taking him home, if that is what is required.

As for the comments on the blog sites, no one changes anyone’s mind on a topic like this.  They are simply a forum for the armchair theologians to “share” and appear to be informed and righteous.  Apart from the exchanges on Challies’ site, some who did not get a rise out of anyone there have taken their arguments to their own sites to see if they can evoke comments. 

The arguments on both sides of the debate are growing tired and repetitive.  I posted a “comment about the comments” at Challies’ site, but Tim’s surrogate moderator David Kjos deleted it.  I have subsequently received an apology and explanation from Tim and an acknowledgment from David saying that he may have been too hasty in booting me.  In reading the huge number of comments on these two days of blogs, both pro and con, it caused me to think of some of the discussions that may have taken place back in the first century between those who embraced Jesus and his ministry, and those who were clinging to the well-healed traditions of the establishment religion of the day.  Here’s the comment that was deleted from Challies’ site:

“If anyone ever wondered what the conversations might have been like between Nicodemus and the Pharisees, surely this thread (comments on Challies’ site) must come pretty close to approximating it.  On one hand the supporters, on the other, the detractors.  And at the center, a man who is doing God’s work, according to his calling as he understands it.”

Let me make it clear that I am not attempting to draw any strict comparisons between Mark Driscoll and Jesus Christ, other than the interesting parallel between two men, called and appointed by God, realizing extraordinary results in causing people to recognize their need for repentance, using what would be considered “non-traditional” approaches in the context of the time and place of their respective (earthly) ministries.  And all the while the critics heaping judgment upon them both.


February 21, 2008

If you could read his mind, leave a comment and tell us what Jesse is thinking.