Friday, July 28, 2006 

Friday Funnies: Terry Tate - Office Linebacker

I couldn't resist posting this - it is absolutely hilarious. If you are a fan of the movie Office Space, or you even work in an office environment, you will probably appreciate this. I will warn you though, there is one obsenity in this short film, but it was not well pronounced and you will probably miss it if you aren't listening closely. There is a actually a whole collection of Terry Tate videos on You Tube and again, if you don't mind a few obsenities, and you enjoy this short clip, then you should probably check them out. And so without further adieu, Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 

Alcohol and the SBC: A Call for Peace

Since Resolution No. 5 was affirmed by the messengers to the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, there has been an unproportionate amount of words written concerning alcohol use by Christians by everyone from seminary presidents to bloggers and from mega-church pastors to laymen of small congregations. So forgive me for adding another few hundred words or so to this now out-of-control debate. I have previously stayed away from the discussion and for good reason - it is clearly causing division in the body of Christ. And for that reason alone, I feel I can no longer be silent.

That division is occurring is irrefutable. Reading any of the articles written by those in the above categories indicates that there are few, if any, that are advocating for an end to the debate. Almost everyone who is writing about the topic uses rhetoric that suggests that this issue is anything but insignificant and some suggest that nothing short of fidelity to Sola Scriptura is at stake. Jerry Vines has gone as far at to declare that apostasy is lurking around the corner. And yesterday, in Baptist Press, Richard Land stated in a "First Person" editorial that the decision to drink alcohol is about choosing either "Wine or Witness." Even whole blogs have even been started to rebut arguments for abstinence by Danny Akin and Paige Paige Patterson. And given the recent response by James Merritt to Ben Cole's editorial in the Dallas Morning News (which was itself a response to Danny Akin's editorial in the same paper -- why again are we using secular media to post responses to one another?) , it seems things are just beginning to get out of control.

I must admit, some of this debate is healthy. Southern Baptists from time to time need to rethink their default positions in light of new academic research, Scriptual analysis, and the possibility of cultural conditioning. But, I believe this debate has taken a turn for the worse and is now being used as a test of fellowship (and possibly even faith). Personally, since the Greensboro convention, I have had my name was removed from consideration by a pastor for a ministry position because he said he was troubled by my take on Resolution #5 and called into question my ability to properly handle God's Word. So you could say that ending this "war of words" has particular implications for young ministers seeking ministry positions, as well as churches who are seeking to find the candidates to fill those positions.

So what I want to do with my few hundred words on this controversy is to issue a call to peace and a "ceasefire" (if you will) of this growing wildfire which Richard Land termed, "The Great Alcohol Debate." Just this past week I have seen attacks by "Baptist" bloggers and some other Christians on penal substitutionary atonement, Complimentarianism, and the traditional view of Hell. These are the issues that Southern Baptists need to debate with academic and spiritual vigor. The alcohol debate is almost 200 years old now, and there seems to be no end in sight. And both denominations who have taken an abstinence view and those who have taken a moderation view have grown and been successful in furthering the Kingdom of God. In the end, it is not this issue that Paul warns us to watch closely, but rather it is our doctrine that he continually calls us to guard with perseverance. We would all do well to remember the words of the apostle to his young apprentice in 1 Timothy 4:16: "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers" (NIV).

So Southern Baptists, I call you back to doctrine, back to the essential things of faith, back to those thngs that we have been charged with preserving, namely that Great and Glorious Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I leave you with this passage from Colossians:
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-- 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. 20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!" 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)-- in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against
fleshly indulgence.
3:1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. 5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him-- 11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (2:16-3:17, NASB).

Friday, July 21, 2006 

Friday Funnies: Ask A Ninja

For the Friday Funnies this week I want to highlight the "Ask A Ninja" guys (or should I say guy, since there seems to be only one). Ninjas are apparently hot these days. Doing a Google search you will find over 70 million hits, with sites ranging from "The Official Ninja Webpage" to "Ninjai: The Adventures of the Little Ninja." But if you haven't seen "Ask A Ninja" yet, you have to check it out. Their tag line is, "You Got Questions, Ninja Got Answers." Here is one of their latest videos: a movie review of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," which if you haven't seen it, is pretty funny in its own right. So without further adieu, here's Ask A Ninja: Special Delivery 7 "Pirates of the Caribbean". ENJOY!

Additionally, I wanted to link another video that I found quite humorous, but I can't post it because it includes adult themes and a few explitives. So, if you are under 17 or offended by such, don't click on the link. But if you are a Star Wars fan like myself and you can handle some PG-13 Rated profanity, then check it out. It's called, "Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager (Episode 1)" and the short summary given on YouTube is, "Life is hard when you're Darth Vader's less-talented, less-charismatic younger brother and you manage a grocery store." Once again, ENJOY!

Thursday, July 20, 2006 

Al Mohler on Frank Page on Changing His Mind on Egalitarianism

Today, Ethics Daily published an article on its website entitled, "SBC President Once Endorsed Women's Ordination" by Bob Allen. Allen discusses Dr. Frank Page's 1980 dissertation for the Ph.D. program at Southwestern Seminary. Page apparently endorses an egalitarian position on women in ministry, concluding that:

Looking at the various viewpoints regarding women in ministry and having dealt with the related biblical passages, this writer agrees with the . . . reasons for the participation of women in ministry, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit . . . This writer, at least in part, agrees . . . that social distinctions are meant to be transcended, not perpetuated, within the body of Christ. They have been unfortunately perpetuated with a vengeance.
Of course, we should expect Bruce Prescott to pipe up in light of this revelation and give us his take on what motivated Frank Page to change his mind on such an issue. And as usual, he concludes it was power - not the Holy Spirit, not Biblical revelation, and certainly not intelligent discernment. While he is at it, he finds time to attack Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Seminary for retreating from theological liberalism, suggesting again that it was purely motivated by power, and not at all by anything remotely related to the Holy Spirit.

Thankfully, Dr. Mohler has decided to weigh in on the article and on his own transformation from egalitarian to complimentarian on his website Conventional Thinking. He writes that his journey
. . . started with a general unrest in my thinking. But then it exploded with a comment made to me in personal conversation with Dr. Carl F. H. Henry in the mid-1980s. Walking across the campus, Dr. Henry simply stopped me in my tracks and asked me how, as one who affirms the inerrancy of the Bible, I could possibly deny the clear teaching of Scripture on this
question. I was hurt, embarrassed - and highly motivated to answer his question.

Mohler goes on to add that after the dust settled, he found "my study of the question led me to a very uncomfortable conclusion - my advocacy of women in the teaching office was wrong, violative of Scripture, inconsistentent with my theological commitments, injurious to the church, unsubstantiated, and just intellectually embarrassing. "

In light of this revelation about Frank Page's change of thinking regarding women as senior pastors Mohler concludes, ". . . I am thankful for Dr. Page's change of mind, and I hope to know more about it in coming months as he shares more of this story with Southern Baptists. There is no shame in embracing the clear teachings of Scripture." To that I say, "AMEN!"

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 

Frank Page Interviewed by Tavis Smiley

I have been a fan of Tavis Smiley for some time now. I appreciate the fact that Smiley will interview anyone and often gives them a forum to say what they want. He is usually very open to other positions and really has a great personality and flair which makes guests comfortable and leads to honest interaction. So, it was exciting for me, when flipping through the 8 channels we can get on our T.V. to find Tavis Smiley interviewing the newly elected President of the SBC, Dr. Frank Page. I missed the front end of the interview, but caught most of it. Later, I went back and listened to it in its entirety. You can access the program by going to show's archives page for Friday, July 14. There you will find the audio and transcript of the program.
I want to offer a few reactions I had to the interview. First, I think Dr. Page came across as humble, generous, and overall, a really nice guy. Smiley, as usual, treated Page like an old friend, but he did grill the SBC President rather hard at times. I felt that often Smiley phrased questions in such a way that it made it difficult for Dr. Page to really explain his or the SBC's position. At one point he asked about immigration policy and framed it as if the SBC was taking its marching orders from the Republican party. And unfortunately, while Dr. Page did a descent job in that instance of remarking how the Democrats were divided on immigration (as Smiley had suggested about the Republicans), he did nothing to squash such a stereotype. Smiley also took a few cheap shots at the SBC in the midst of the interview, and, on a couple of occasions, making long statements before getting to the gist of his questions. In the end, I think it was one of the worst interviews I have seen Tavis Smiley do, mainly because I believe he gave off a sense of animosity toward Southern Baptists in the way he interviewed Dr. Page.

As for Dr. Page's demeanor, I think overall he did well. As I said above, he came across as humble and even gentle. But Dr. Page never seemed comfortable and to be honest, I wasn't impressed. He let Smiley bully him a bit with questions that Dr. Page should have challenged rather than directly answered. And Dr. Page's answers were often too brief and didn't explain his position adequately enough. Still, I think the President did what needed to be done -- project a sense of gentleness and humility, reflecting the need to minister and avoid too much political interaction.

The interview lasts less than 15 minutes, so take the time to listen and let me know what you think. Did Tavis Smiley come across as condescending toward the SBC? Do you think Dr. Page did well or did he seem uncomfortable and rattled to you at times? What about his answers -- did you agree or disagree with what Dr. Page had to say?

Monday, July 17, 2006 

Why Politicians Shouldn't Be Theologians

Dr. Mark Osterloh, "a Tucson physician and unsuccessful 2002 Democratic gubernatorial candidate," is leading the charge for a bill (likely now to be decided on by Arizona voters in the November elections) which would, in essence, guarantee one lucky voter per election of a $1 million dollar prize just for casting a ballot. Yes, that is right. In order to bolster voter turnout, Osterloh is proposing the adoption of a "voter lottery" whereby one random voter who casts a ballot each election is selected to receive a $1 million dollar prize. It's an incentive that Osterloh says not only makes sense, but is Biblical. From the Arizona Daily Star on May 19th:

"People don't always do what they should do," he said.

Anyway, he said, it's little different from religion, which he also said is based on incentives.

"What does God say? Do what you're supposed to do and I will reward you with eternal life in heaven," Osterloh said. "The only thing that we're saying is do what you're supposed to do and vote and we'll reward you with $1 million."

And from the Daily Star again on June 30th:
Osterloh said the concept of rewards is not so odd. He said it actually comes from the Bible — that if you do the right thing, you get into heaven.

"If incentives are good enough for God, they're good enough for Arizona," he said.
So, there you have it. Good reason why politicians shouldn't be theologians -- because they apparently don't understand the Bible. Osterloh's works-based scenario, besides being unethical, is just a cheap way of garnering support from religious conservatives. Unfortunately, it will probably work, since most Christians don't understand theology either.

Friday, July 14, 2006 

Friday Funnies -- The Rap Edition

Sorry that Friday Funnies is running a bit late today, but I hope that you will find it worth the wait. Anyway, this week's Friday Funnies is all about Rap - the good, the bad, and the ugly, the latter two characterized by what you will find below in the two humorous videos. Let's start with the good though. This week's post was inspired by an interesting article I read about two weeks ago at Between Two Worlds about a Christian rapper named Voice. Justin Taylor followed up a week later with an interview with Voice regarding his newest album and his life as a rapper. Here is one exchange I found quite enlightening:

For this next question I’m thinking about increasingly smaller circles. In the first circle you have all the musicians in the world. Within that circle is a much smaller one that holds all the rappers in the world. Within that is a smaller one yet of guys trying to live a fairly clean, moral lifestyle. Within that you have Christian rappers. And finally, you have perhaps the smallest segment of all—Reformed Christian rappers. But you’re not the only one, are you? Who are some of the other Reformed brothers out there doing hip hop and rap?

Right now the guys I listen to are Christcentric ( Shai Linne and Timothy Brindle ( These guys, groups influence me the most and the ones I like to listen to. There are more but I don’t listen to them as much.

Voice was an attendee at the recent Together For the Gospel conference in Louisville and Taylor asks him for his opinion of the rap parody that Lig and John Duncan performed. You can go over and check out his critical analysis of their music career possibilities.

Here are two "Christian rap videos" (if you can call them that) I found on the internet. Both are meant to be humorous, and are in no way representative of the style of the guys mentioned above (you can check out the links and find videos of each if you are interested). The first of the two videos I found over at The No Kool Aid Zone, which is authored by an Evan-Free blogger, and the other is fairly old, so most of you probably have seen it before. So sit back and enjoy a good laugh courtesy of the latest installment of "Friday Funnies."

Thursday, July 13, 2006 

The Church Report on the Most Influential Churches

You might remember that some months ago I was lamenting about what folks made The Church Report's annual list of "The 50 Most Influential Christians In America." Justin Taylor of Between Two Worlds addresses the newest list of The Church Report, which is the "50 Most Influential Churches in the U.S. There was very little surprise that the top spot went to Willow Creek Church and the second to Saddleback Community Church. But it was nice to see five Southern Baptist Churches as well as Bethlehem Baptist Church of Minneapolis, College Church of Wheaton, IL, Reedemer Presbyterian Church of New York, Mars Hill Church of Seattle, and Grace Community Church of Sun Valley, CA.

So let me ask you two questions:
1. Which church do you think IS the most influential in the U.S.?
2. Which church do you think SHOULD BE the most influential in the U.S.?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 

Emerging From Criticism?

Recently I have been taking a break from blogging in order to enter the world of the blogosphere. This may sound strange, but what I mean by this is that I have been blog-hopping -- commenting here, reading there, assessing so-and-so's arguments, and critically evaluating my own views in light of what I have been reading. Over the past couple of weeks I have been visiting Brent Thomas's site, Colossians 3:16 quite often as he has been commenting about Emergent and the greater Emerging Church movement (ur...conversation). As usual, someone who is a part of the "conversation" stopped by to attempt to set Brent straight and remind him that "when a criticizm [sic] seems to resurface over and over in the same tired fashion, it doesn’t mean that that criticism is somehow more valid." Now, Brent is a smart guy. He holds a Master's from Southern Seminary and Bachelor's from Grand Canyon University, two schools that are anything but lightweights academically. But somehow guys like this just seem to speak as if Evangelicals who criticize Emergent are backwoods rednecks who need a good "edumacation." And that, to me, is terribly irritating, especially given my natural Southern drawl.

But, what I find most irritating is that it seems that Emergent-types folks are always disturbed by criticism. Brian McLaren loathes it. He wrote a whole chapter in A Generous Orthodoxy entitled, "For Mature Audiences Only," in which he shined a light on every potential weakness of his book in what seemed to be an attempt to "head [criticism] off at the pass." And just recently he wrote an article that appears on his website called, "A Friendly Note to My Critics" in which he criticizes the way his critics have criticized him (I shall now refrain from using that word for the rest of this paragraph). He asks his detractors to be fair and consider eight ways of doing so. Even the entire leadership of Emergent has responded to their naysayers in a June 2005 article posted on virtually every Emerging Church website in the free world.

So, why does it irritate me that these guys can't seem to stand being criticized? It's because the very nature of the Emergent movement is a criticism of Christianity in its present forms, most notably, Evangelicalism, from which virutally all the leaders of the Emerging "conversation" originate spiritually. Take, for example, these two paragraphs from the EmergentVillage.Com under the heading, "EXPLORE: THE EMERGENT STORY":

This complex and many-faceted transition calls for innovative Christian leaders from all streams of the Christian faith around the world to collaborate in unprecedented ways. We must imagine and pursue the development of new ways of being followers of Jesus … new ways of doing theology and living biblically, new understandings of mission, new ways of expressing compassion and seeking justice, new kinds of faith communities, new approaches to worship and service, new integrations and conversations and convergences and dreams.

In recent decades, a small number of Christians across the globe have begun taking on this challenge, and now they are beginning to find one another to share insights and encouragement and hope. Growing networks in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe, and North America are coming together in person and online for thoughtful conversation, prayer, worship, and action as part of this transforming mission.

To rip out of context the words of the author of Hebrews in 8:13 (but only to borrow the logic behind them), "When He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear." Whoever wrote this clearly points out that there must be something "new" in Christianity. The "old" is just not cutting it apparently in their opinion and thus is "obsolete." And notice that in the second paragraph, the writer says, "a small number of Christians across the globe have begun taking on this challenge" (emphases mine). It seems clear that these guys think they hold the key to the future of Christianity. Even Brian McLaren, the humble pied-piper of Emergent reflects this attitude in his writing. In the introduction to A Generous Orthodoxy he writes,

The real purpose of this book, and much of my writing and preaching, is to try to help us relign our religion and our lives at least a little bit more with Someone. Doing so, I believe, will be good for us and good for our world. Christianity is the biggest and richest religion in the world, and if it goes anemic or compromised, backward or confused, aggressive or passive -- everyone loses. Christian and non-Christian. If its heart is right and its vision clear, everyone wins. In my own feeble and flawed way, I hope I can contribute to the church's health and vision . . . with your help, and of course, God's.
Clearly, McLaren think that something is amuck in Christianity and needs to be fixed. Like any good writer, he makes clear the problem and hints at the solution. To be fair (as McLaren asked in his "Friendly Note"), let me post his next paragraph, which balances what he says, but still reveals his belief that Christianity, in its current expression, is flawed and, as such, must be in some way "re-formed":

For some reason my name is often associated with a book I wrote, A New Kind of Christian. That title might suggest a claim to understand and even exemplify a *New! and ***IMPROVED!!! kind of Christianity. In this book I hope to people will understand how a new kind of Christian is also an old kind of Christian, a person who knows and embraces our shared Christian history (the sweet, the spicy, the sour, and the smelly), and who seeks to move forward into the future resourced by the church in all its many current and past forms.
I think what I am most perturbed about when someone like Zach (the "defender of all things Emergent" on Brent Thomas's blog) writes what he did in an attempt to discredit Brent's critique or deflect attention away from glaring problems in some of the Emerging Church's theological positions (or lack thereof), is that I agree with Brian McLaren and the other Emergent guys quite a bit. In fact, I think they are on to something, especially when as it relates to the practical exhibition of the Gospel in the postmodern culture. I think they are right-on to criticism an Evangelicalism that associates itself more with the Republican party than it does with the persecution of the saints in North Korea or when it boasts more about helping to elect a President than in helping provide for the poor. But, I am critical of the movement (read "conversation", for those who are sticklers about this) when it dismisses historical tenets of the faith or at least reduces them to mere non-necessities for fellowship or even salvation. And unfortuntely for those like Zach, who seem to want to dismiss such criticism, there are plenty who are smack-dab in the middle of the "conversation" who at times feel the exact same way as Brent or I do. Guys like Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, Joe Thorn, Steve McCoy, and Ed Stetzer have all critiqued the Emergent conversation (or at least a participant or two in the conversation) at one time or another because of something theological that they believed was mishandled or irreverently pushed aside.

So maybe I am that dumb backwoods redneck who just doesn't get it, but shouldn't a group of people drawn together, intent on being "A New Kind of Christian" by calling for reform among fellow Christians be mature enough spiritually, Biblically, and philosophically to handle criticism and answer those who question their theological positions and praxis without resorting to tactics of dismissal and avoidance? I think we will know that the Emergent conversation has arrived at maturity when it can indeed deal with such criticism and even begin to critique itself.

Friday, July 07, 2006 

Friday Funnies: The Star Wars Edition

I saw this picture at the Citizen Bezner blog and I knew it had to be my next Friday Funnies.

But, I also wanted to include a picture I took this weekend on my trip to Memphis.

I hope to provide some more commentary on this church and their new statue. For now, here are a couple of articles about it:

Church Unveiling Its Own Version of the Statue of Liberty

Statue Of Liberation Unveiled At Memphis Church

I will say that some have interpreted it as a Church-State statement, but I think something more insidious is going on here. But more on that later. Thanks to Jay at for bringing it to my attention.


Another Installment of "Where's Americans United for Separation of Church and State?"

I saw this article and it led me to ask, "Where are the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State when you need them?" Apparently no one but so-called "theocrats", "Dominionists", and "Christian Reconstructionists" seem to think that this situation proves to be a violation of the First Amendment and further evidence that there is a growing anti-Christian bias in this country that is going relatively unnoticed by the Mainstream Media (MSM).

Pastor Faced Charges for Evangelism at Mall

In an update though, it seems that the charges against this youth minister have been dropped: PJI Successfully Defends Youth Minister Arrested For Mall Evangelism. Thankfully, we still have some judges in this country who understand the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

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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