Friday, April 30, 2010

Hither and thither 4/30/10

I have quite the little borgaschmord for you. Hey — it's Timothe's first Hither and Thither! Hi, TJ!
  • First: showoff.

  • Terrific. The world's greatest need has been met. In Shanghai. By the creation of an Obama-themed night club.
  • Typical liberal. Find me the infected boil in this actor's green idealism. (Anyone who watched the TV series Angel will remember Kartheiser as the terminally obnoxious Conner.)
  • Typical moderate. The nightmare of the "RINO" is that a party needs a wide swath of participants; but "moderates" by definition are unreliable and selfish. Take Arlen Specter of PA; and now take Governor Charlie Crist of Florida. His own party does not want him to run for the Senate. So what does he do? He runs as a party of one. If it harms his party and his nation — oh well. Breathtaking arrogant selfishness, talking about what is right for the people (who do not want him to represent them). 
  • It isn't as good as the one for Matrix, but here's a so-so shot for shot Lego re-enaction of the Prince of Persia trailer.
  • ...aaaaand here's how Avatar should have ended. (Sorry about the commercial.)
  • Uh-oh. President Obama stepped away from the teleprompter. You know what that means. It means he says things like, "I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money." Well thank you, President "God."
  • Great word from Kevin DeYoung: "Too many Christians waste time trying to be obedient to things God has never said (jobs, spouse, location) instead of focusing on what we know God wants from us (love, joy, faith)." Hear, hear. Ah, but then he goes south: "I also believe God can surprise us through non-discursive means of communication." So, what's that? Interpretive dance? Mime? No, he mentiosn dreams. Proof? A quotation from Archibald Alexander. Alexander's proof? Stories. Sigh. That's my only reservation about DeYoung's wonderful book: makes a fabulous case for the sufficiency of Scripture, then undercuts it just a skosh.
  • I want one. Seven medieval castles you can buy.
  • Told you. Coffee: it's a health drink.
  • Another chilling ruling in England, land of some of the greatest public Christians... in the past. Now, you can't be a Christian in public. (Note some of the most atrociously bigoted "reasoning" imaginable.)
  • Um... thanks, I think I'll walk.
  • Geeky enough to make your own working phaser? (Video link at bottom.)
  • Reader Angie Birney noticed a trailer for a movie called Babies, featuring — well, babies, conceived and popped out in Tokyo, Namibia, Mongolia, and San Francisco.
  • We have a Title of the Week, subcategory Well, Yeah! It comes from America's first west coast: Fla. researcher bitten while measuring sharks. Well... yeah! Waiting for the headline, Bee-keeper in Arizona stung while collecting honey.
  • And now an Unclear On The Concept Alert. The AP reports in somber tones that the new anti-illegal bill in Arizona is resulting in...illegals leaving the state! (DA DA DAAAAAA!) In fact, it's so bad that... some are even going back to their country! (DA DA DAAAAAA!) I think the Latin term I'm searching for is, "Epic win."
  • What is striking to me is that liberals are playing both the race-card and the Nazi-card on this. Because, you know, the only reason people don't want illegals pouring over their borders, stealing jobs and resources and committing crimes, can only possibly be because they're racist Nazis.
  • So, since I have some of the smartest readers in the world, you tell me some of the things wrong with this.

  • How nice. The Supremes allow the Mojave Cross to stand. Enjoy it. If Obama gets to stack the court, rulings like this will be receding history.
  • Two weeks ago we trembled at the thought of rampaging worms. Now (very tangentially) reader Gary Beecham Jr. takes us back to something featuring Brent Spiner in his pre-Data (Star Trek: TNG) days.
  • Uh yeah, thanks. You too.
  • Say, remember that summer when aliens came and visited various spots in Europe and all? Well, I don't either... but they made some nifty post-cards! (Thanks to Squirrel for the generous tip.)
  • Reader Andy Dollahite discovered some pretty awesome photography from that Icelandic volcano, Ksld... er... Ephqrbl... um... Eyjafjallajokul. Yeah. That's the ticket.
  • Don't like Bob Dylan much? Neither does this guy. (But then he doesn't seem to like the incandescent Joni Mitchell, either, so... don't know what he does like.)
  • Me? I like this.
  • Kinda like this, too. (No offense, RT).
  • This? Not so much.
  • Leave it to Reuters to get a title backwards.
  • Our Laura Kelleher was just reading Yahoo! of India (?), and noticed that Hindu leader Rajan Zed will be opening six city council meetings with Hindu prayers. Well, that makes sense, given the important role the Hindu religion has played in America's founding, with its... its... er.... Well, anyway, it's diverse.
  • This nifty little candlelight illusion is fully worth the 57 seconds.
  • Psh, I can do this. Well, I can do the part where he stands on a gym mat.
  • Reader Tim Margheim has correctly identified one of the signs of the approaching apocalypse: the Scouts can now earn a video games belt loop and pin. My two J's will regret only that they are now in Boy Scouts, not Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts. (This is also noted by Pastor Al.)
  • Speaking of whom, reader Pastor Al Stout has a tonic for you who feel this site is too cat-friendly: dogs, dogs, dogs, in slooooooow mooooootionnnnn.
  • Staying with pastor-readers, Pastor John found two encounters between Joe Friday of Dragnet, and President Obama: here, and here. Works surprisingly well, actually.
  • Then there's all this: 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

From the Chan "taking a step of faith" meta

I wanted to lift out comment #127 from the meta to the post on Francis Chan's written letter about his decision to walk away from his church in response to what he described as God "calling us to take a step of faith."

The author doesn't have a profile, and we'd welcome more information. He (she?) claims to hail from somewhere to the far west. Nor does he (she?) come from exactly the same doctrinal place as I, it appears. So the value is in the thoughts expressed, the personal perspective of what it is to live under the tyranny of the Charismatic model, and how great it is to enjoy Biblical freedom.

I didn't want you to miss it.

Pentecostal Refugee

G’day from across the Pacific! I’m probably a couple of days late but we suffer from delayed reaction here because of our time difference. Nonetheless it has been delicious reading this thread. Usually, this type of critique comes from anti-charismatics and cessationists, but as a continuist and post-Pentecostal may I say that I couldn’t agree more with DJP.

‘Extra biblical revelation’, GTMS (God Told Me Syndrome) or the more pacifying labels of ‘promptings’ and ‘impressions’ are fraught with dangers. Whichever way you slice it, the clincher is this: How do you test it? ANSWER: You can’t!!!

Especially on matters where the Bible is silent, how do you assess the validity of someone saying, ‘God told me to buy a house in this neighborhood’ or ‘the Lord told me to start a paper run as an outreach ministry’? There are no legitimate grounds on which to qualify such statements.

So if you can’t test it what are you left with? The subjective interpretation of the individual. Great! What a fantastic assurance, now we can all sleep better at night.

What a miserable, emotionally torturous and dangerous way to live your life! The best kept secret as the antidote to this disease is hidden in one of DJP’s earlier posts in this thread (as much as it pains me to agree with a Calvinist in public!)

DJP said: Adam was free to choose what, when, where, and how much, all equally to God's glory and with His blessing.

On matters where the Bible is silent, we are free to exercise our Christian liberty and our conscience to decide. We have been granted far more freedom than we realize. To quote Greg Johnson (St. Louis Center for Christian Study) …to bind the conscience where Scripture leaves freedom is a very, very serious crime.

As a Pentecostal refugee I am now free from the tyranny of having to ‘have a word from God’ on every decision I made. I can now breathe in the oxygen of Christian liberty given to me in Christ and rely on God’s guidance through Scripture and his overall providence in matters of daily life. I am not guilty for not obeying a ‘prompting’ or ‘leading’ that I can’t verify it’s true. Anything outside the Scriptures is not binding to me. The Pentecostal/charismatic movement is one of the most guilt inducing, burdensome and theologically anemic expressions of modern Christianity. Pentecostals are probably allergic to this blog, but for any drive-by’s, take heed.

Finally, I think the broader problem here is the ‘model’ of charismatically oriented ministry (thank you Mr Finney). I don’t know enough about (Jackie) Francis Chan whether he is a fully fledged charismatic or not, but he certainly thinks and talks like one.

This is a model where the leader’s respect is shaped by his mystical spirituality. Their naïve followers have been conditioned to expect the leader to make regular announcements of mystical revelation. So, if in the ordinary course of business one decides to move house, he has to throw God in the mix otherwise he could be seen as ‘acting in the flesh’!

If you’ve being investing in such a model, these are the dividends it pays you. Or as a wise man said ‘if you sleep with dogs you wake up with fleas’.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Canuck-Canuck" — "Who's there?"

Challies, as it turns out.

Two things:
  1. The "bump" from Challies' ~25 word mention is twice the bump from Justin's kind mention, to my surprise.
  2. If you want to see classic examples of Charismatics trotting out their traditional ways of downgrading the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the name of exalting it (to say nothing of some very poor reading), check some of the comments there.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What to do when you sign a document you shouldn't

I would never expect a leader of the Assemblies of God to set the example. Yet one has.

Dr. George O. Wood is General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God. He signed a "Covenant for Civility," evidently sponsored by Sojourners. It's basically a promise to be "nice." Specifically, it includes a commitment only to disagree "respectfully, without falsely impugning the other’s motives, attacking the other’s character, or questioning the other’s faith." Some sloppy writing there, I note: is one to refrain from questioning others' character and motives, or only doing so falsely.

But then again, who is the judge? When has any emergent, liberal, or cultist ever said "Yes, you are absolutely correct in your criticism"?

Now personally, I can't imagine signing any document associated with Sojourners. But Wood did, Usual Suspect Charles Colson did... and so did Brian McLaren  When Wood found out that fellow-signatories included people supportive of abortion and homosexual "marriage" — that was a problem.

Why a problem? Well, the document identified all the signatories as "Christian pastors and leaders," and spoke of "the unity we have in the body of Christ." That was a problem. (It should be a problem, as I may have mentioned elsewhere.) I have not been able to find any full statement from Wood, except that he had found the tent to be "too big."

So what did Wood do? He asked that his name be removed.

Makes sense to me.

Hats off to Dr. Wood.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday music: one-woman band Theresa Andersson

Swedish-born Theresa Andersson has mastered the art of looping used so well by guitarist Matt Stevens. Check out this appearance on Conan O'Brien (when the song's done, it's just Conan saying goodnight).

Another performance from the Craig Ferguson show:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Look who's here!

Timothe Joel Allen
Born 4/23/10, 3:23pm — at our home!
19.5", 7.1 pounds

It was quite a day!

Valerie passed me word, at work, that Rachael and Kermit had gone to the hospital. So I let my boss know that I'd be leaving shortly, and headed out.

About ten minutes after I'd gotten home, Rachael and Kermit made a surprise arrival. They'd gone to the hospital, had all mom's and baby's vitals checked, learned that Rachael was (at least) fully effaced and 3 centimeters dilated. Then they were given a choice, since the hospital was pretty full: they could stay, or they could begin labor at home and return when matters had well progressed.

So, they were asking, would it be okay if they stayed at our house, which is about five minutes from the hospital?

Would it!

We all happily flew into action, cleaning and changing and moving and arranging, and the Allens took over the master bedroom and bathroom, with the nice big bath tub. And then we all just let them be. They knew what they were doing, they'd ask for help if they needed it.

Kermit popped out a time or two, resulting in me dashing off to do this (lock the car, fetch the bags) and that (emergency Sprite run).

Five hours later, Valerie and I had been going back and forth, and were just about at the point of suggesting that they should consider going to the hospital to help them move the labor along before they wore out — and out runs Kermit. "He's here! He's here!"

The lusty little first cries led us back to mom and baby. They'd just been doing what they had learned and decided to do, then Rachael gave two pushes, and boom! Baby!

Rachael (and Valerie) had preferred the idea of a home birth, but Kermit (and I) liked the security of the medical staff at hand. Everybody was happy: she'd gotten checked, then honored our home by giving birth in it, then an ambulance took her to a nearby hospital for followup.

When we left them last night, Mom and baby (and Dad) were doing great, and their grandparents are grateful to God and very happy for them.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hither and thither 4/23/10

We are on serious Baby Watch, and excited to be so. The iPhone is kept fully-charged, and monitored at all times. When there's grandbaby news I can share, I shall.  Thanks for your prayers and well-wishes.

And yet, still, I gathered this for you. [Pause while readers feel loved and appreciated. Three... two... one....]
  • OS 4? New iPhone? Turns out "yes," and it's a pretty dicey story for one hapless Apple employee.
  • Rather than sit through President Obama's next State of the Union speech... I think I'd rather listen to this. Makes more sense, and doesn't require trashing everything America was conceived to stand for.
  • "Fire me, I'm a barking loon!" says one Arizona congressman. Okay, those weren't his exact words. Guess the political party?
  • The volcano in Iceland, whose name is... is... Xaslkfdjkqiopui, yeah, that's the ticket.... Anyway, it's given birth to some pretty amazing footage. Like this. Reader Rita Martinez points us to some Mount Doom-like pix.
  • Oh, ouch. Typos can be nasty. Reader Ralph Traylor notes that 7000 copies of the Pasta Bible cookbook had to be round-filed. The cause? A little recipe that called for adding "salt and freshly ground black people." Oh, no no no: pepper, it should have read. Black pepper.
  • Money-saving things that make you say, "Hmmm."
  • Kids balking at braces? Maybe this will help.
  • Here's a pastor who didn't want to read the Bible in public on the Day of Prayer. Why not? He didn't like the portions he was offered (Ezekiel, Daniel). He was afraid reading those passages of judgment would make him seem like a "Repent or burn!" preacher. Can't have that.
  • Here's something you don't want to get stuck in your teeth. Reader Berry Davis found an article appropriately titled "When Life Gives You Locusts, Make Locust Pizza." I'll spare you the picture.  Berry asks,"WWJBE: What Would John the Baptist Eat?"
  • Speak softly and carry a really stick insect.

  • Someone I know and love will read this article and think, "I'm in Heck!"
  • I have an idea for the premise of 24: the Motion Picture. The joke is that it's going to have to be called "2," or "2.5," depending on length. It would be an interesting stretch of screenwriters' skills to come up with a realtime premise for a two-hour movie. But what if it were two hours, with the first hour covering whatever length is necessary to establish the premise, then the final hour in realtime, with occasional references to the clock? Hollywood, my rates are reasonable.
  • My Josiah would love one of these:

  • "We do not want this man to reign over us," say some Texas students — though I'd wager the allusion would be lost on them. Ironically, the institution is named Trinity University.
  • Fan makes a Bilbo Baggins home.
  • Wonder if the nearby woods have any....
  • Leaving us with...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The ever-rising bar: must one know everything to assess anything?

A few years ago, NT scholar N. T. Wright said some goofy, inane thing or other — and let's face it, he's made a few — and we (particularly Phil, I think, in the first instance) called him on it, over at Pyro.

The woodworks opened, and out poured the Wright fanboys in their smoking-jackets and slippers, demanding a sworn, notarized affidavit certifying that each of us had read and understood each of the approximately 231,517 pages that Dr. Wright had written to date, before venturing to criticize any independent statement he made or wrote about anything, anywhere, ever.

Fast-forward to my post on Francis Chan's written announcement of his "step of faith." In that post, I specifically stated that I was not going to focus on Chan, nor on anything else he ever said anywhere except that one statement. My focus would be his stated rationale. I explained why I found it (at best) problematic.

My assessment resonated with many, and ticked off a few. Though again and again I said, "Now, maybe he meant this...", another blog faulted me for not giving Chan a chance, and otherwise badly misrepresented me. A couple of commenters said I really needed to watch the video.

Here's the thing: no, I really don't. Let me explain.

What's on that résumé again?
Wright, Chan, any pastor, any writer, me — we're in the "business" of communication. It is what we do. Particularly in the case of pastors (again: Wright, Chan, yr. hmble svt.), we are held accountable for our words (cf. James 3:1). We know it going in. If we don't, shame on us — but the accountability is there, regardless.

My point about the single piece of communication I identified for analysis is that there is no context that would change my analysis of it.

Well, okay, I suppose the one exception would be if, in the video, Chan says,
"Okay now, after this, I'm going to write this letter chock full of mystical mumbo-jumbo and irresponsible, potentially disastrous implications. Don't even read it! I don't mean a word of it! As I just explained for 56 minutes, what I mean is the exact opposite! I'm writing that letter just to expose people who don't listen to and read absolutely everything I write and say. Mock them."
Does Chan say that in the video? Does he? Anyone? Bueller?

Didn't think so.

Let me give an analogy, drawing on a more grave subject.

Let's suppose: a grave, Gospelly analogy
Suppose some pastor gives a 57-minute sermon, in which he preaches the Gospel. Suppose (for the sake of argument) it is Biblical, crystal-clear, and faithful. Certified 100% sound. Lig Duncan, Phil Johnson, R. C. Sproule, John MacArthur, James White... even Ingrid Schleuter — all of them get all teary, it's such great and solid preaching.

And suppose as a follow-up he writes his congregation this note:
Dear Friends,

For those who did not hear it, this past Sunday I preached the Gospel of Christ. It was a moving experience for me, as has my entire ministry here at Bogotron United Church.

It's just really neat to know that when we believe in Jesus, get baptized, take communion, join a good church, get circumcised, and obey the commandments to the best of our ability, God will judge us and our works, and will accept us if we are sincere and try our best! It's really neat to live by faith and works!

Love and kisses,
Pastor Phil Ajius
So... is it fair game to rip that note to shreds, with Biblical analysis?

But what if people say, "You have to see the video of the sermon. It gives a totally different context. It is completely sound."

Yes, well, maybe it is. In fact, in this illustration, it is! The sermon was perfect!

The problem is not that work, it is this work. And this work is totally unsound. because there is no context that will save that work from a sound and deserved drubbing.

The problem isn't people who fairly and closely analyze inane things Wright says. Nor is a problem with people who fairly analyze Chan, as I tried to do.

The problem belongs to those communicators'. They own it. The problem is what they write or say. They voluntarily took the role of leadership on themselves. If they regret what they said, if it was horrid and bumbled and misleading, they should just say so, apologize, humble themselves, learn a lesson.

There isn't any excuse for what I faulted in Chan's letter. People look up to him. Taken seriously, what he says in that note has really troubling implications, as I tried to show. There isn't any "context" that will make those things OK.

Now, anyone and everyone will note that I never said that either Chan or his entire ministry should forever be banned or condemned for this one letter. The letter is a problem. The letter is a problem.

Concluding ironies
  1. Over at Pyro, we caught unholy heck because we defended Chan for a Gospel video he did a couple-few years ago. Now I fault this problematic letter he sent... and I catch a little heck. Life's funny. Someone should sell tickets.
  2. Odd that I was very cautious in analyzing Chan's letter, while some of my critics were far less cautious in analyzing my analysis.
  3. I am expected to take an hour to watch the video. Why? The problem is Chan's letter. I wonder if those same people are asking Chan to take a lot less than an hour to read my post.
  4. Why do I have to view other Chan oeuvres to criticize one letter, when my critics aren't required to read my whole corpus before criticizing one post?

Justin still has the touch

Witness The Taylor Effect, in action.

Column A represents a typical, so-so day's worth of visits here.

Column B represents a day when Justin Taylor has mentioned a post.

It does rather give one some perspective... like looking up the trunk of a redwood tree.

Just "religious" enough

When I pastored a small church in a small town, we did some door-to-door evangelism. I had crafted a questionnaire, and an early version of How Can I Know God?

We knocked, very politely asked for some time, asked our questions, asked if we could leave the booklet and come back to talk about it. The results surprised me. Almost everyone said "Yes" at each point.

Except one sort of person. What sort? Roman Catholics.

Now you must understand: these were not churchgoing people. They had very little involvement with the RCC. But they had been "baptized Catholic" as babies, and they were by-golly Catholics. Not in any way that affected their lives, but Catholics.

Just Catholic enough to be unwilling to listen to the Gospel.

It was sad, tragic. They'd been inoculated with religion, and were Gospel-proof. I use "religion" here not in the sense of a system of belief that serves and worships God, but in the sense of a manmade set of rules and notions by which it is imagined that God will be won over. These poor souls thought their tradition had settled the most important question hanging over their soul for them, so they didn't actually need to think about it.

I've seen the same with Jews. As I argue in the post to which this is a companion-piece, no Jew practices Mosaic religion. Can't be done. Some few do their earnest best to approximate, but the vast majority have worldviews and lives utterly unrelated to the whole teaching of the whole Old Testament, built almost wholly on human tradition. A great many are outright atheists. But they're still Jewish!

Just Jewish enough to be unwilling to listen to the Gospel.

In both cases, the irony is bitter. What has long struck me about the sorts of Jews I write about at Pyro is their blithe willingness to dismiss Jewish Christians not being "really Jewish." Here's the specific irony I have in mind:
  • The average self-identifying Jew regards the 39 books of the Old Testament as a human book, full of errors, in no way binding on their conscience nor dominant in forming their worldview.
  • The average Messianic Jew affirms the 39 books of the Old Testament as being precisely what those books claim to be: the wholly-true, binding, God-breathed verbal revelation of God.
So, the unbeliever brands the believer as an unbeliever. The Bible-rejecter smugly dismisses the Bible-accepter.

What's wrong with this picture?

Religion kills. What a tragedy, to be just religious enough to be lost forever.

"You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me;  and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life" (John 5:39-40 NAS)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Taking a step of faith" — a few thoughts

There are two kinds of people in the world:
  1. Those who know about Francis Chan's decision to leave his pastorate for an array of various activities
  2. Those who'd say, "Who's she?"
"She" is a he, Francis with an "i." He's an author, a pastor, a surferdude, and whatever fame he had was multiplied by Justin Taylor finding him newsworthy. Now, that's fame.

Chan did at least a video and some written communication explaining this decision, which you can see at the link. Doubtless there will be more. I have not watched the video, I won't make it a focus of study. I just want to offer a few remarks about his written explanation. My focus is really the remarks, and not Francis Chan himself. His words form a springboard. Clear enough?

They're a springboard because they reflect phrases one hears among "evangelicals," phrases which I think haven't been examined closely enough. I'll single out two.

The target quotation
...Lisa and I believe God is calling us to take a step of faith. We believe we are supposed to move into a major city such as LA, San Francisco, or New York. ...I’m still not completely sure of everything, but it feels great to be living by faith.

"God is calling us... we are supposed to move"
The whole picture summons to mind the call of Abram, which I think is probably either deliberate or semi-deliberate. Is that a fair allusion?

This is what a Biblically-minded interviewer would ask Chan. "Are you likening this move to Abram's move from Ur?", I would ask. To anything like an affirmative response, I would follow up with this: "So are you saying that you received an inerrant, verbal, prophetic, morally-binding revelation directly from God, apart from Scripture, telling you that you needed to walk away from your pastoral commitment abruptly and go off doing other unspecified things?"

If he means anything else, Chan is drawing from some spiritual authority other than Scripture. That is what a Biblical writer would mean, unless it were Paul speaking of the effectual call to salvation (which clearly does not fit). "God is calling us" must mean that, to a Biblically-oriented Christian.

If Chan is saying he receives direct, prophetic, inerrant revelation, he should be made to say so up-front, so that all Christians can see his orientation and respond accordingly. If he is not, he should be held accountable, encouraged to drop the spiritualized lingo, and made to say whatever the truth is. "I was bored"; "I was curious"; "My kids hate it here"; whatever. Say it, and take responsibility for the decision. Don't try to put it off on God.

This matters, for reasons I've explained literally countless times. Note: "we are supposed to move."  That is the language of moral obligation. If Chan does not do this, then — if he disobeys a commandment from God that he leave his pastorate — he is committing a Hell-worthy sin.

Again, Chan needs to be called on this. Christians who look up to him need him to be called on it. Should they do the same? If they "believe" God is calling them to leave their jobs in IT Support or truck-driving or whatever, the jobs by which they feed their families and pay their creditors, are they similarly morally-obliged to lurch off in that direction? How can they tell? How did he?

One more.

"...take a step of faith... it feels great to be living by faith"
What does Chan mean? In the Bible, faith was defined by its first mention. Remember where that was? Why, it takes us back to Abram once again: "And he believed [Yahweh], and he counted it to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). What we have here is two things:
  1. A word from God
  2. An embrace of that word
That's faith, in a nutshell. That is what it is in Scripture. It is a response to a word (or words) from God.

Brings us right back to the first issue, doesn't it? Did Francis Chan have a direct word from God? I know of no Bible verse saying "Francis Chan should bail on his church." Or anything like it.

So how is this a step of faith? I know, I know it's common Christianoid coinage. And I think that's bad. We should mean what the Bible means, or stop saying it. Specifically:
  1. When I trust Christ alone for my salvation, with no backup plan and no supplements, I am stepping out in faith.
  2. When I invest my time and energy in studying the Bible, worshiping God, laying up treasures in Heaven, I am stepping out in faith.
  3. When I fix my hope completely on the grace to be revealed at Christ's return, I am stepping out in faith.
I could go on and on, with about as many specifics as the Bible has verses. But you catch my drift, I hope.

Further, Chan says it "feels great" to be living by faith. No doubt. So, the guys who go to work 5:30-2:30, 8-4, 9-5 — are they living by faith? Can they feel great? The guys who count the cost, who make plans, who take counsel, who are responsible and rational and God-honoring in their use of their brains and means, who do not try to blame God for decisions that are theirs to make, who maybe stick with a job for 5, 10, 20, 40 years — can they feel great too?

I think they should, because that's the Biblical way to make decisions.

Now, perhaps Chan means, "I have come to the conclusion that this is the best stewardship of the gifts God gave me. I did so for the following reasons: ____." Or, "I did so for reasons I discussed thoroughly with my wife and with some wise, Biblically-faithful counselors." Then he should say, "I still have a responsibility to provide for my family and pay my bills in the following way. I would never presume on God to foot the bill for irresponsible, impulsive behavior, and I would not want to encourage anyone to behave that way. We trust God to bless the preaching of His word in new venues, as He has promised."

But he didn't say that. And he needs to be called on it.

I've already said, but repetition is sound pedagogy, so here goes: because Chan has chosen to become a leader, and people look up to him.

There are scads of impulsive, glandular, irresponsible Christianoids trying to blame God for their immaturity, impulsiveness, and irresponsibility. These are precisely the terms they use as a pretext. It makes them look holy and spiritual, but in Biblical terms, they are not.

As I do the math, I just am not seeing the numbers indicating that God benefits by being shamed by more irresponsible, immature Christians blaming Him for their lame behavior. Just do not see it.

Maybe — and I really mean this, sincerely — Chan has a bevy of wonderful, solid, God-honoring reasons for making this decision. He should feature those reasons centrally, if so.

Otherwise, I see this as a harmful example. Teachers are judged harshly for what they say and how they phrase it. We should know that, going in (James 3:1).

Therefore, I'm not asking too much, and Christians at large should ask no less.

UPDATE 1: I have written a response to the suggestions that I am obliged to listen to Chan's video, or read this or that other statement, before I may this letter he wrote. That post can be found here.

UPDATE 2: one of the comments in this meta became the feature of another post.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jews and women

Four things:

  1. The Deep Thoughts on Jews and Christians ended up being a two-part Pyro-type post. So you can check out part one over there.
  2. Most. Misleading. Post-title. Ever.
  3. But boy oh boy, you want to be depressed? Check out what are listed as America's 100 Greatest Jewish Women. Oy! I think I'd not want to admit any solidarity. But that's me.
  4. Finally and most seriously: my man Pastor Chris Anderson, and his fellow pastor Joe Tyrpak, have produced a really terrific 31-day devotional for women. How much do I like it? I gladly wrote a blurb for it. Check out more about it (and read my blurb) HERE. I'm glad to recommend it without reservation. Get it for your wife and/or mom for Mother's Day, or get it for yourself. It's surprisingly deep, thought-provoking, doctrinal and devotional. You won't regret it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday music: Bazzini, "La ronde des Lutins," played by Zino Francescatti (jaw dropping)

Virtuoso violinist René-Charles "Zino" Francescatti (1902-1991) gives an amazing performance of a composition by Italian violinist Antonio Bazzini (1818-1897).

By the end of this tour de force, one feels that Francescatti has drawn from that instrument every note that a violin is capable of emitting, utilizing every style with a violin can be played.

(Many thanks to reader Kurt Kroeker for the tip.)

I watch and wonder, is there anything in which I am as skilled as Francescatti is, on his violin? Then I think a(as you'd expect) of pastors, and what a low level of Bible knowledge (particularly Greek and Hebrew) we settle for.

The question occurs: "Then what are you going to pour yourself into? In what will you excel, to God's glory?"

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hither and thither 4/16/10

Well it's been a pretty full week, and particularly brutal yesterday. (For that reason, I haven't been able to follow up some readers' tips; they'll have to wait for next week.) It's been nearly as bad today. Yet I've gathered hence and thence for you, so here you have it:
  • Arizona is poised to join Alaska and Vermont in becoming a politer state.
  • DAOD sent me this that BSIL found: Iceland's volcanic eruption.

  • The Cookie Monster brings to mind....

  • Our friend from across the pond, Pastor Gary Benfold, notes a happy-ish ending to the tale of the Christian lady who was fired for soliciting prayer on her own time from her own computer.
  • I wonder whether Pastor Benfold has ever had a full English breakfast pizza? (Thanks to faithful reader Berry Davis for that one.)
  • Another happy ending, from the sort of story that so often does not end happily. An eleven-year-old girl with Asperger's Syndrome is lost in an alligator-infested Florida swamp for four days — and is found, fundamentally safe and sound. Both the rescuer and the father give glory to God.
  • We have a Title of the Week. When you read the ad, it makes a kind of sense... but where's the fun in that? Here 'tis: Proposal to make it unlawful to sell fake urine.
  • It does leave unanswered questions. Like, Why would anyone sell, when real product is so readily available? And, So it would still be legal to sell real urine? And, Is there real money in it, if you're a blogger in his fifties (say) who's never knowingly touched illegal drugs?
  • But of course, that would be Wrong.
  • The iPad is also a phone. Gre-e-e-eat.

  • Magazine backhand air-tap: if execute properly, no can defense.
  • Dude, look behind you. Or... don't.
  • Want to see a Star Wars AT-AT Walker made out of... bacon? You know you do. Go on. Look.
  • Ever hear of Jennifer Knapp? I haven't. But apparently she's the latest "Christian" "musical" "artist" to announce to the world that perverted, degrading passions trump Jesus. Once again, broken abacus = tragic miscalculation.
  • Think they flipped for position?
  • Oh my. As if there weren't already enough to worry about. Now we have to face the possibility of being confronted by a herd of purposeful, focused, angry... earthworms!
  • Which all comes down to...