Saturday, June 25, 2005 

Cruise in for a Bruisin'

Tom Cruise. Just the name these days for me invokes images of couch jumping and crazy-eyed verbal assaults on interviewers. Last night I nervously watched him on "The Late Show," wondering if he was going to jump across the table and slap Dave with that fake microphone-thingy that sits on his desk after Dave basically asked him to elaborate on his sex life with actress Katie Holmes of "Dawson Creek" fame. He didn't. He just kind of popped up out of his chair and laughed toward the audience. Whew! Dave was safe.

Unfortunately for Matt Lauer and some others before him, they aren't Dave Letterman. This morning on the "Today" Show, Matt apparently stepped over the line and suggested that Tom might actually be wrong about his recent comments that people should not use prescription drugs to counter conditions like ADHD. Cruise seemed to have to restrain himself a bit and then lit into his interviewer by telling him how much he didn't know about drug testing.

Hmmm . . . let's think about this a little bit, shall we? Here's a guy who is a public figure, in an organized religion, and now is suggesting that prescription drugs are not only useless for treating psychiatric conditions, but even harmful. And he is doing it all on national television! Now imagine someone like, say Al Mohler (or any other well-known evangelical leader for that matter), getting on national television and saying that prescription drugs shouldn't be taken by kids who have Attention Defecit / Hyperactivity Disorder. He says that he's read the reports and that his interviewer is just "glib." You know what would happen? The entire American Psychological Society would roast him on a spit. CNN would find about 15 medical doctors to come out against him on "Larry King Live" and there would be picketing outside his house on Lexington Road here in Louisville. And yet this guy, this movie star (who honestly isn't well known for his intellectual prowess -- not to say he isn't smart, but, come on, he's definately not a medical practitioner!), goes around saying all this kind of stuff without anyone correcting him. Is he right or something? I mean are millions of members of the APA wrong?

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not for medicating society to the hilt like we have done the past 25 years, but surely someone in the medical field disagrees with Cruise. So why won't they speak up? I find this interesting to say the least.

Cruise's main point of argumentation in the past has been basically, "I have seen people get off drugs and alcohol with Scientology. The stuff works. It must be true." This past weekend I attended the Pastor's Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Nashville, TN. Voddie Baucham spoke on why he chooses to believe the Bible. In one of his points he said that those who say they believe the Bible is true because they tried it and it worked for them have just opened up a hole in their logic "big enough to drive a Mack Truck through." He illustrated his point by saying that everyone who goes through a 12-step program has to choose a higher power to help them, but their higher power could be a squirrel if they want it to. So according to the "it worked for me" logic, if they are successful in breaking their addiction, then their squirrel would then carry as much weight as would the Bible (specifically Christianity) or Scientology or Buddhism, or whatever else.

And that is the danger of the New Age Movement. When I was in seminary at NOBTS, one of our final exam questions for "Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion" was "What do you see as the biggest threat to Christianity in the 21st century?" We could pick a number of problems ranging from Christian cults like Mormonism to the debate over the reliability of the Bible (which is what I chose) to the New Age Movement. Dr. Robert Stewart, our professor for that class, said he believed it to be the latter. I think more and more I agree with him. New Age stuff works. It always has. God, in instructing the Israelites regarding worship of other gods, never indicated that there was no supernatural activity in the religions of the Israelites neighbors. In fact, in the accounts of the plagues of Egypt, the sorcerers of Pharoah were able to duplicate many of the acts of Moses, yet not all of them. And when Paul and Silas encountered the slave girl in Philippi, whom Paul healed, Luke records that she had a "spirit of divination" and that she "was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling." Thus, we can conclude from this passage that the New Age stuff (which at that time was Old Age) was working for her.

Christianity isn't about doing something that works, it's about worshipping and connecting with the One, Living and True God and about being saved though the vicarious death of His Son, Jesus Christ, at whose name "every knee will bow . . . and every tongue will confess" He is Lord. We can't present Christianity as a 12-step program. We must present it as life-giving truth to a lost and dying world who have accepted lies that work for them, but ultimately will lead to destruction. If Tom Cruise never embraces Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, then one day he will learn that life was about more than works. Let's pray that God would reveal to these men and women trapped in darkness and demonic religions "the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

Until Christ is Formed in Us All,
D.R.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005 

SBC Observations

This weekend I had the chance to take in some of the pre-SBC festivites in NashVegas. I wanted to comment some on what I saw and heard particularly at the Younger Leaders' Summit and then make some observations about the YL Initiative and the future of the SBC.

My wife and I attended church Sunday morning at Dickerson Road Baptist Church in northern Nashville. And while it was a typical SBC service, we could not have been more impressed with the friendliness of the church. Younger and older leaders could learn a thing or two about making people feel comfortable from these guys. We had no less than 20 different people speak to us, ask us if we were visitors, introduce themselves, and tell us to come back again soon. We would love to regularly attend a church that amicable.

We left from the church and made it to downtown in time to walk around and even to enter the Gaylord Entertainment Center just to take a peek at what was to come. After a meal at Sbarro's, we headed over to the Global Cafe across the street from the Gaylord for the Younger Leaders' Summit. We spoke to a couple of folks and headed upstairs where we sat behind Steve McCoy of SBC Emerging Leaders Blog fame and Joe Thorn of www.joethorn.net, who graciously offered to help us on our search for a ministry position. We saw Marty Duran but he was running around talking to people and trying to get his WiFi up, so we missed getting a chance to meet him, but he did send me a comment to my blog to let me know he was sorry we didn't get to speak. We also sat by Dr. Reggie Ogea and Dr. Jerry Barlow of NOBTS. Chuck Kelley was there too, but we didn't get a chance to see him either.

Russ Lee led worship, which was short, but well done. Jimmy Draper kicked the whole thing off by introducing the speakers and letting us know about the format. After the worship time, Robby Partain, director of missions, SBTC; Adam Greenway, new LifeWay trustee and pastor, Church at Andover, Lexington, Ky.; Kevin Shrum, pastor, Inglewood Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn.; Chris Seay, pastor of Ecclesia, Houston, Texas; Ed Stetzer, NAMB director of research; and Jeff Harris, pastor, Grace Point Church, San Antonio, Texas all spoke regarding the specific topics which have been discussed thoughout the YL initiative. Bob Reccord, O.S. Hawkins, and Bobby Welch also stopped by to give a word.

I will spare you the details of what all of them said, but I will hit some highlights:

Robby Partian: He kicked the thing off by saying we have to be missional.
Bob Reccord: He said they were restructuring their evangelism stuff and that the former Baptist hour would now feature a different pastor under 40 every 6 months.
Adam Greenway: He didn't say anything terribly memorable, but I was impressed with his humility and the fact that he was a pastor and trustee at 27.
Kevin Shrum: he said YLs need to stop complaining and start serving on boards and committees.
Chris Seay: I didn't like some of what he had to say, but he was challenging in regard to portraying the beauty of Christianity and recited a very interesting poem by Taylor Mali concerning conviction.
Ed Stetzer: He had great one liners -- "Chris is a Vegan and I'm on Atkins," Nike, Just Do It, the SBC, "Don't Do It." And he noted that we need a missional resurgence. He also said that we do have to still care about theology and that it is still important. I apprecitated that.
Jeff Harris: He spoke with a lot of passion, but at times in a condescending manner. He reiterated that there is a place for us in the convention and we should take it. Some of his thoughts were random, but he did say we needed a restructuring of the SBC leadership and more than a two year appointment for the president so he could set a better vision -- something I said last week on Steve McCoy's blog.

Some concluding thoughts on the YL Summit and YLs in general
1. I found it interesting that everyone who spoke had their own agenda and plan for correcting the problems in the SBC. In fact, some of them even contradicted each other. I think what we need is a specific set of goals and we need to agree on what those are and how to get them done. This may be the hardest task of all.
2. Missional is the new buzzword. Inerrancy is a now passe and a given. I wonder if anyone will lose their NAMB appointment if they won't affirm Missionality?
3. Some YLs speak as though we are still in the midst of the struggle to get heard, others like they have already won the battle and can say what they want now about Convention leaders and the elder statemen of the SBC. Do we need an already/not yet eschatology regarding the YLs initiative?
4. Humility and respect for the older folks is something that needs to be worked on among YLs. We will never get respect without giving it. And lip service is not enough -- especially when you are speaking out of both sides of your mouth.
5. YLs that I met and observed seem to be much more willing to help each other and less likely to be envious of one another's ministries. I think this will be tremedously helpful for the future of the SBC.
6. Having said #5, I think there is still too much emphasis on the pastors and not enough common respect for other ministers. One of the biggest problems I have seen in the YL initiative is that pastors are seen as the leaders, not guys like youth and college ministers who are actually specifically working with many of the people YLs are hoping to reach. There must be more mutual respect shown for those not in the Senior pastorate. Just notice the list of speakers for the Summit -- not one non-pastor in the bunch (with the exception of those in convention positions).
7. Blogging has now come to the convention and it will never be the same. Marty Duren is even talking about getting Bloggers press passes for next years convention. Maybe next year the convention leaders will seriously consider podcasting the whole convention or at least having regional sites where non-messengers can view the YLs Summit, the Pastor's Conference, and the Convention itself.
8. Finally, the SBC seems poised for a revolution. Gone are the days when only the older folks had a voice. Now, YLs must be heard and listened to.

I will try to post some more regarding other's blogs and what is actually taking place at the convention. For now,

Until Christ is Formed in All of Us,
D.R.

Thursday, June 02, 2005 

Revenge of the Emergent

I thought about naming this post "The Emergent Strikes Back," but no one cares about Star Wars: Episode V these days.

So, here I go again. Once again I seemed to suprisingly grab the attention of yet another major voice in the Emergent conversation. The first time it was Tony Jones and now it is Andrew Jones (no, not the outfielder for the Braves -- does he still play for the Braves? Who cares . . . !). Andrew runs possibly the best weblog on the internet in regards to all things Emergent or even all things Christian. He is the quintessential blogger and his site is the epitome of what Blogdom success looks like. It can be accessed here: http://tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com/tallskinnykiwi/.

It seems that Bro. Andrew picked up a comment I made on Steve McCoy's Emerging SBC Leader's weblog and posted it to his site. I am going to spare you the details of what came next, but you can read it all here. Since that time I have posted my comments regarding what he wrote (which you can read here) and he responded in a humble and very thoughful way after it. He even took the time to send me an email that contained the comment. And for that I thank him.

Although I appreciate his comments, as well as those of others, I still maintain that Emergent has some flaws and that they need to be honest about them and seek to fix them (especially in the realm of what views those who seem to be the leaders in the conversation expouse). I do hope to continue discussing with them and I appreciate the fact that Andrew and Dan-D see me in a positive light. Like I said in a previous post, I was very impressed with my first encounters with the Emergent Church through Dan Kimball's book and I hold that much of their praxis is right on par with how we should be doing church. However, I agree with Pete O's position in his comments on Andrew's blog that theology does define practice. And like I said in my comments to Andrew's Emergent Heresy Test post, I hope that the theological controversies in Emergent do not drown out the real substantial critique that all Evangelical churches should hear.

Until Christ is Formed in All of Us,
D.R.

About me

Paul was not interested merely in the ethical principles of religion or of ethics. On the contrary, he was interested in the redeeming work of Christ and its effect upon us. His primary interest was in Christian doctrine, and Christian doctrine not merely in its presuppositions but at its centre. -- J. Greshem Machen.

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