Category Archives: Church

Pulpitless Persuasions V: Women and the Church; An Introduction

Melissa Scott - Pastor of Faith Center of Glendale, CA... and a woman with a collar.

Melissa Scott – Pastorix of Faith Center of Glendale, CA… and a woman with a collar.

Someone has to do it. It’s truly arduous to fight against the torrent of popular opinion, to think for oneself, and to slice through the foolishness of modern thought. Before we lose all our sensibilities we should consider that some of the ideas of past generations were based on the honest realities of life. History can teach us. We often reject our ancestors’ ideas out of turn because we assume ourselves to be “enlightened”. Maybe, just maybe, they knew better than our befuddled contemporaries.

The arguments laid out in a previous post regarding egalitarianism were based upon such thoughts. It’s a troubling thing to observe over several years egalitarianism’s campaign of human equality moving into common thought. It has become an untouchable political reality, and a socially accepted premise to discussion. In media, social networks, and yes even in the church, it’s as if we are to accept the idea that men and women are thoroughly and completely equal. Now it seems is that time in human history when the evil of egalitarianism should awake from hibernation to enact an equality that has never before existed. It is in reality but a tenet of a godless faith. It’s the present day moral equivalent of the Tower of Babel.

It has found its way into Christian thinking. Christians, unfortunately but unexceptionally, have allowed egalitarianism to move the church toward a “progressive” role of women. One typical example is…

The Church of England finally voted yesterday to let women become bishops – to the anger of many traditionalists. The move was passed by a comfortable majority at a tense gathering of its parliament, the General Synod, in York. It ended 14 years of hand-wringing and faction-fighting, delighting Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and almost all of his fellow bishops. The decision freed the Church from the risk of intervention by politicians.

The Church of England is marking a new era in its history as the Rev Libby Lane becomes the first woman to be ordained as a bishop… The consecration marks the conclusion of a decades-long wrangle over the role of women in leadership in the established Church, the last great institution of British public life to open itself to full gender equality. Church leaders hope it will mark a moment of reconciliation between traditionalists and reformers on the issue.

This is but one piece of anecdotal evidence of the change wrought in the church. The fact that its influence has reached major Christian denominations shows its insidious extent. The attempts to placate feminist egalitarianism eviscerate the church. Compromise begets more compromise until the church of Jesus becomes nothing more than a social club. Any hope for reconciliation is mere fashionable modern liberal sentimentalism rather than adherence to the Word of God.

Their vision of equality of the sexes is but a fabricated notion outside of the Christian faith. The bible doesn’t speak of it. Church history doesn’t know it. In the last 100 years or so, however, feminism has become a social force with which to be reckoned. It’s been a matter of either the church clearly delineating the roles of the sexes or capitulating to the popular culture, with lately more the latter than the former.

Men and women are distinctly men and women. They are equal in their human condition, in their depravity before God, and in their respective need for redemption. They are, however, distinct in a plethora of ways, not the least of which is physiological. They are each created by God with traits and attributes which compliment the other (see Elmo’s Rule 8). Ungodly egalitarianism seeks to undermine that natural distinction.

To be clear, women have a long history of contribution to the Christian church. The issue raised here is not one of the general participation of women in the church. It is that through egalitarianism’s call women have usurped the proper authority within the church. In that, women have become a detrimental influence. Essentially, women aren’t to be in authority or exercise leadership over men. This is the biblical stance. Curiously, one particular instance of scripture addresses leadership thus:

Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. Say to the righteous that [it will go] well [with them], For they will eat the fruit of their actions. Woe to the wicked! [It will go] badly [with him], For what he deserves will be done to him. O My people! Their oppressors are children, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead [you] astray And confuse the direction of your paths.  – Isaiah 3:9b-12 (Bold my emphasis)

Verse 12 might suggest “women” be interpreted either literally or figuratively, that is to say, it could literally mean women or speak in terms of “women” as in effeminate men. In either case, however, it is clear to be at variance with the LORD while leadership by men of character is in doubt, and the consequences are certain. This current sort of leadership has led the contemporary church astray. The reciprocal causes also precipitate the effects. Men who stay within churches which allow women leaders are ultimately driven toward emasculation. As egalitarianism takes hold and leadership roles become disordered it is often as much a matter of men relinquishing their proper role as it is women beguilingly assuming it.

In a view perhaps now considered more paternalistic, Jewish rabbis proverbially recognized the role of women as:

God had not formed woman out of the head, lest she should become proud; nor out of the eye, lest she should lust; nor out of the ear, lest she should be curious; nor out of the heart, lest she should be jealous; nor out of the hand, lest she should be covetous; nor out of the foot, lest she be a busybody; but out of the rib, which was always covered

Some consider the present day status of the equality of the sexes as improving. However, it is maintained that the egalitarian ideal still hasn’t yet been realized. What then is that ideal? It is an unbiblical mirage. The answer is ultimately when men are subjugated. Egalitarianism seeks an obliteration of God ordained gender roles. They seek not a validation of homosexuality or transsexualism, but a fundamental quasi-sexuality in which there is gender fluidity. It all stems from the fallen condition of humanity alluded to by God at the beginning of man and woman.

Masculinity in modern America has become a distorted. Feminist egalitarianism has marginalized the proper, biblical role of men. Nevertheless, scripture and experience can teach us what those of antiquity well understood if we will turn our minds away from the modern popular ethos. As one stated recently, it’s time to valorize masculinity. It’s unfortunate that the hydra of political progressivism or correctness manifesting its feminist head has corrupted the church.

The typical knee-jerk response to these claims usually draws the false implication that men are somehow superior. In the Christian world-view, however, authority is delegated by God and doesn’t imply any superiority. There is no lesser dignity of the woman to man. It is simply of a different kind. This is but one area of modern thinking which not only fails to grasp the biblical distinction, but mischaracterizes it to disseminate a falsehood. The sexes are distinct in their thinking, feeling, motivations and proclivities. Gender differences are as our Creator intended. There is that misguided sense of fairness which society and the culture seeks to inculcate upon the genders which emasculate men and gender-bend women. Fairness is a childish illusion. For example, some will accuse others who don’t allow women pastors of gender discrimination. However, gender discrimination is but the pejorative of feminist egalitarianism, wrongly elevated to morality. Everyone discriminates. Discrimination is not necessarily moral or ethical. The fact is that there’s no such thing as gender equality. It is an irrationality to usurp the God ordained role of the sexes while denying the many obvious mental, emotional, and functional differences which exist between them. Women aren’t intended for authoritarian roles, particularly in the church, and those churches which adopt egalitarianism do so to their own detriment.

As an aside to the suggested feminization of men in Isaiah 3:12, the condition of women and their natural inclination toward authoritarianism provides some understanding as to why the charade of homosexual marriage persists. Modern homogamy (homosexual marriage) has essentially been seeded out history’s recent egalitarian fruit. Curiously, homosexuals decry inequality when denied the privilege of marriage, but when given the opportunity to practice it they mimic the traditional dominant/subordinate marriage relationship. In such relationships the traditional roles of men and women are obfuscated by homosexual mental, emotional, and particularly, spiritual deviancy. In a similar fashion, feminist egalitarianism has obfuscated the clear roles the Creator God intended.

Some in major Christian denominations continue to adhere to a historically orthodox position of women in church leadership, that is to say a limited role at best, as demonstrated by the traditionalists response from the Church of England article above. Egalitarianism through the societal shift of popular culture, though, has put pressure upon the church to change its thinking and policy. Popular culture is certainly no repository of truth. Truth is or should be found within the church and not co-opted from without. The church loses by shunning a historically proven, classically orthodox position and adopting the post-modern egalitarianism of the day. At the very least, anecdotal experience from contemporary society alone should be a sufficient teacher that women in church leadership means trouble.

The paradigm that is the modern Christian church isn’t a scriptural one anyway, and is susceptible to encroachments of authoritarianism. An authoritarianism peculiarly pernicious when undertaken by women in church leadership.

Stevie Furtick and the Great Big Make Believer

Several sources have expressed alarm over a self-indicting “How To Guide” from Elevation Church called “spontaneous baptism resource kit.” This church has claimed a “sun stand still” “miracle” after baptizing 2,158 people, and now it claims it can export the same type of results to other churches. But its techniques have critics crying foul.

Christian and mainstream sources alike are taking exception to the Elevation Church’s “kit” because in it the church admits it plants people in the audience who will be the first to move in order to get the stream of baptisms started. As the “How To Guide” itself says, “Fifteen people will sit in the worship experience and be the first ones to move when pastor gives the call.

“Sit in the auditorium and begin moving forward when pastor Steven says go.”

“Move intentionally through the highest visibility areas and the longest walk.”

I’ve known about Steven Furtick and Elevation Church for some time now. Those who’ve left his church lacking for depth and substance in his teaching and preaching become the spiritual pariahs of his preaching to his faithful attendees. He congratulates himself as a “New York Times bestselling author”.

Nielsen Bookscan numbers do not include some church bookstores and Christian booksellers, but even so authors like Furtick do not have to sell millions or even hundreds of thousands of books to make the bestseller list as an advice book.

“Greater” made the Times’ advice list for only one week, never to reappear but that was enough for Furtick to forever be labeled a “bestselling author.

The New York Times listed “Greater” with a small “dagger” symbol beside it indicating that some retail bookstores included bulk orders of the inspirational Christian book in their reporting.

So Stevie stacks the deck in his church. It’s this sort of thing I was addressing some time ago in a series of previous posts about imitational churches. Growth in numbers has to be left to the work of the Holy Spirit, but it often becomes a measure of the success or quality of a church, and especially its pastor. Growth in the spiritual maturity is overlooked as such a measure. Moreover, of all the points I’ve ever read or heard about a church touting itself on, spiritual maturity of the membership wasn’t one of them. Why? Because it doesn’t appeal to the mercantilism so prevalent in the culture. Think of it.

The human manipulation comes in many ways and the Christian church has its share. A measure of the spiritual maturity of a congregation can’t be faked which is probably the biggest reason there’s no mention of it. Baptism numbers can, such as Stevie demonstrates. Modern Christianity has become too self absorbed in the same stylized metrics of business or government. This is a huge flaw of the current Christian church paradigm, the imitational church, as it were. The things that Stevie and his crowd are doing, unfortunately, aren’t the exception to the rule, they’re the rule itself toward bigger as better. Christian popularity isn’t a good thing, it’s a warning sign to the dangers of secularism.

I foresee a time when bigger churches and congregations will be broken apart. Smaller will be desirable, not only because of the persecution of the church which is ever on the horizon, but because the integrity of the church will be kept in that way.

Speaking of travel…

Be sure to drive carefully through the Cedar Valley Cathedral of Praise’s parking lot. Most visitors have tears in their eyes.

The Dalton, Ga., church started an unconventional drive-through worship ministry in May. Since then, members of the congregation and strangers alike have taken time on a Sunday afternoon to pull off Cleveland Highway for a moment of prayer.

Unconventional, maybe, but not unexpected. I’m sure Cedar Valley isn’t the only one doing something like this, although I understand there probably aren’t many. When they don’t come to you, you go to them. This is at least a step in the direction of the latter, even if this is an imitation of corporate America. Having a drive-thru prayer/worship ministry is convenient for both sides. Those interested enough and wanting a spiritual encounter drive right up to you, as well as those pulling pranks. People who want to talk to someone never have to get out of their vehicles.

But to show this isn’t really something new, see this idea…

See their happy faces listening to the song, music and sermon? Yeah, neither did I. And it’s so much more convenient not to have to get out of the car. People could even “go to church” in their pajamas. Frankly, I don’t see the point in the men wearing suits and women wearing dresses. Who are they trying to impress, the kids in the back seat?

Mormon guys on bikes still roam the streets. Jehovah Witnesses still go door-to-door. Even though I strongly disagree with their theology, I still have to admire these misguided souls for their tenacity. Year in and year out they’re still out there on the streets, even though they are the prosaic stereotype of street witnessing. I’m sure they get their share of converts from just sheer numbers, if not convincing arguments.

It’s a commendable thing for Cedar Valley to do this. I’m just not all that impressed simply because it seems like another attempt to “do ministry” while avoiding the complicated and soiled personal involvement into someone’s life. How much can anyone really get to know of someone’s life in the time it takes to wait on a McDonald’s hamburger? Even a 10 minute McWorship or McPraise session in a car is a long time. For ministry to occur, there has to be relationship, some connection between people on some substantive level. There has to be more than sympathy. There should be empathy with another. For that to happen takes time on both sides. Much more time than anyone would get in a drive-thru.

Joel Osteen is stupid

Joel Osteen recently posted this to his Facebook account:

Even when we don’t measure up, God says, “That’s okay, I forgive you anyway.”

Well, lah-de-dah. That’s OK, I forgive you anyway? That’s what he thinks God says? What about the cross? What about Jesus His Son putting down His deity, humbling Himself and coming to earth as one of us? I forgive you ANYWAY?

Worse yet, that one post has 181,555 likes and 20,667 shares as of 0900hrs EDT today, and of course still counting. Imagine that almost 200,000 people like this. He not only has that number of following, but that kind of following. People who are dumb enough to consider this likeable. Yeah, it’s dumb because it shows a complete lack of simple intelligence when it comes to God, His nature and the things He’s done to redeem mankind. It’s more serious than a simple “That’s OK…” Over 20,000 people considered it worth repeating? That’s the dangerous part. Osteen is having this poison pill of theology propagated by his mindless minions.

What does it mean to “measure up”? If that refers to sin then the issue I have with this is that in one line it considers our sin so casually as to make it something like a simple mistake. It’s not. Whatever happened to the grievousness of sin? (Maybe I’ll do a post on that sometime.) Besides, if on the other hand it has something to do with abilities, God isn’t like that at all. It’s just one of those, “It’s alright. I’m not angry with you. Let me hold you and tell you it’ll be OK” kind of moments. People just don’t want God to be angry, even if they don’t believe He exists. For some people God has to be One who can be emotionally pacified.

Allow me to be clear about this, God is not a people-pleaser and He’s certainly not one to be placated. He’s not the sort that appreciates false intentions or motives. Politics is without a doubt not His game. As a matter of fact, He has no “game”. It seems there’s little understanding of God’s mercy. It depends upon the one who doesn’t “measure up” to understand their condition and acknowledge it before God. If we don’t “measure up” then the burden doesn’t rest upon God to allay His wrath to our deficiency, but it rests upon mankind to call upon God’s merciful nature in the hope that forgiveness is found. Osteen has a terribly corrupt understanding of mankind’s condition before a holy God, and he’s truly stupid if he’s thinks this is what “God says”.

And since I’m writing about children…

Sure, label me the naysayer. It would be wrong, just as I believe slavery to be wrong. I’ll still have my doubts about this shift (borrowing a catchword from one of Louie Giglio’s recent sermon messages intended) in focus. Since previously writing about the advent of that modern day abolition movement called end-it movement I’m still convinced that although it is a valid concern, it’s also a distraction. A distraction from this…

One day after a former employee described how she heard a baby scream during a live-birth abortion, another worker at the Kermit Gosnell “House of Horrors’ abortion clinic testified today she saw a baby “jump” when she snipped her neck in an abortion.

Abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell faces 43 criminal counts, including eight counts of murder in the death of one patient, Karnamaya Monger, and seven newborn infants. Additional charges include conspiracy, drug delivery resulting in death, infanticide, corruption of minors, evidence tampering, theft by deception, abuse of corpse, and corruption.

Read that first sentence over again and stop to consider for a moment that abortion is the wholesale legalization, rationalization and justification of some of most gruesomeness of murders. It is the genocide of generations of Americans legally sanctioned by the 1973 SCOTUS Roe v. Wade decision. It is the Khmer Rouge slaughter of enemies of the state multiple times over. It is the Rwandan racial butchering multiple times over. It is the Nazi holocaust multiple times over. The employee heard one scream of a live-birth abortion. Imagine that scream multiplied 50 million times.

The reach of evil doesn’t stop there. The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia had their political reasons for genocide. The Nazis had their racial reasons. For 21st century America it is for the greater cause of convenience. The genocides of fallen regimes are over. America’s continues unabated. The controversy that was abortion isn’t the controversy it once was. We’ve rationalized it. It’s legal. It’s relegated to the backwaters of our consciences. That is an evil too.

It’s easier to follow government sanction and oppose or condone that which they do. Government legally opposes slavery, whereas it legally allows abortion. So when I observe red “X”s on buttons, ball caps or cars, I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t popular because it’s not only more socially acceptable than displaying a picture of an aborted child but it follows government sanction.

How is it that Passion Conferences doesn’t press its weight of influence among the college aged against abortion and instead choose slavery? Is abortion, to paraphrase Louie Giglio’s take on the homosexual agenda, not in the range of Passion’s priorities?

I’ll support the efforts to end slavery, just as I support efforts to end abortion. Each are but two snakes on the Medusa of head of evil.

Doubtful to the cause

Gary Haugen, president and CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM), told the 60,000+ Passion 2013 participants that 27 million people in slavery today is a massive problem of injustice in our world and that they must make this cause a priority, in what was both a plea for awareness and a challenge to take action Wednesday afternoon.

“As your brother in Christ I simply want to tell you that slavery is real, it’s massive, it’s brutal, and it’s also in our own backyard,” he said. “But you can be the generation that ends slavery in the world.

Another movement has infiltrated Atlanta’s Passion conferences and Passion City church in the form of modern-day abolitionism. Ever dubious of Christian church movements as fads going in and out of fashion like t-shirts, I’m particularly skeptical of this latest. One reason is that the injustice of slavery has never been thoroughly eradicated nor will it ever be, save the return of Christ Himself. Abolitionist zealots like John Brown and William Lloyd Garrison have come and gone, but slavery remains, albeit as an illegitimate enterprise. The Passion organization focuses on youth and college aged students which is a demographic ripe for causes.

Movements within the Christian church at large aren’t a novelty. At one time there was the holy laughter movement, or the Toronto Blessing as it was otherwise named, among Pentecostals which the same age group of Christians likely wouldn’t know from experience. It came and as quickly went. There’s nothing to convince me that the End It movement will end slavery before it ends itself.

God is not handicapped by Epicurus’ argument. It would be true that if evil were a problem for God He wouldn’t be so, but such isn’t the case. If He permits slavery, or any other evil for that matter, it’s because of the sinfulness of mankind, not because He is inept, weak or malevolent. Evil, and particularly the evil of slavery, has never required any legitimacy of man to subsist. God is God and has everything very well in control. Mankind is the problem. To borrow a quote from Thoreau, there are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root. Social causes are just that sort of distraction from the essential mission and focus of the Christian faith. I suspect it stems from the very common and well meaning desire among believers to “help God out”; to do for God what doesn’t seem to be happening on His own.

The End It movement website states, “As a country, we’ve officially known it [slavery being wrong] since 1863”. It’s an obvious reference to the Emancipation Proclamation enacted in that year, which incidentally was more a gimmick to manipulate a war into a noble cause than it was to end slavery. It was in no way a moral or even a legal declaration of slavery itself, but simply used to distinguish previously seceded states which continued to hold slaves as being in rebellion to the Federal government. It’s odd that the End It movement website would call slavery “wrong” based upon an allusion to that document.

Slavery did not end with the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution either. Laws won’t determine behaviour. Laws won’t keep people from getting and taking illegal drugs. They don’t stop people from murdering or stealing. Laws did not and will not stop slavery because laws can’t constrain evil and sin.

My observation is that in modern Christianity as the enthusiasm of one movement ebbs another begins to pick up energy, coinciding with the rise of a new generation of Christian believers. I question how IJM arrived at the 27 million number, but assuming it’s a somewhat accurate count, compare that to the over 55 million abortions in the U.S. alone. There was a time when Randall Terry, a modern day John Brown of the anti-abortion movement, and Operation Rescue gained national prominence in 1988 at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta when 1200 protestors were arrested in the name of stopping abortions. Christians may remember when Christian Coalition and Pat Robertson were decrying the heinousness of abortions. There was a time when evangelical churches en masse were behind abolishing abortion, urging Christians to see abortion as murder and to act accordingly.

The End It movement characterizes modern day slavery as “real, it’s massive, it’s brutal, and it’s also in our own backyard”, while the same could be said of abortion. One takes the forefront while pro-life movement attention seems to be relegated to the once a year marking of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. There are a generation of believers who participated in the pro-life movement as young adults. What they know of that experience might be instructional to this End It movement generation.

“There is an awesome God of justice who is ready to move in power if you move in obedience,” Haugen said, placing the responsibility to end human slavery on the Christian community.

This is problematic for the believer. First of all, it’s an indication of that misguided desire to give God a helping hand. God will do what He will do irrespective of anyone. To suggest that a universal opposition to slavery is moving in obedience to God’s sense of justice is presumptuous. It could be that God would allow some to become slaves without Epicurus’ possibility of a malevolent God.

Secondly, it implies the relationship between the believer and God is codependent. Christians may think so, but they don’t have a quid pro quo relationship with the Creator. The responsibility to end slavery, if it’s to be anyone’s burden, is that of all mankind, not just Christianity. It’s the responsibility of Christian believers to live like Christian believers among themselves and to demonstrate that to the rest of the world. Period. Christians mistakenly move into becoming the world’s moral police.

Make no misunderstanding, I am against the practices of abortion and slavery. To own another human being as chattel is wrong. What I am is dubious of this movement and its timing because I’ve experienced heady influence of the anti-abortion/pro-life/right-to-life movement of the late 80’s and 90’s. In my view, the energy and naivety of college aged students is being leveraged for this current manumission movement in much the same way the anti-abortion did about 30 years ago. To make a grandiose declaration as a generation that can end slavery in the world is farcical. I can be as sure of that as ending any other corruption or moral variance. Haugen would know this is true but for the use of that statement to arouse an ethos to attract people to a cause.

Perhaps the effort will do some good releasing some from the bonds of slavery, but Christians could do far better living out the freedom they have in Christ before the world audience.

Rant alert

Is everyone at Northpoint Church afraid of mentioning the name of Jesus, or is it just the people who lead from the stage for a service? Watching their online streaming of a church gathering gives me the impression that they intentionally avoid mentioning the name of Jesus in their songs, messages or even announcements. Sure, sure, all the mention of almighty God and the Father God is fine, but since we’re talking God why not be explicit and mention the God Who came to earth and lived among men? It is after all the One Whose body is the mystical church of God.

It annoys me that generally all of Northpoint Church’s speakers, Andy Stanley included, make so little mention of Jesus Christ. Their use of scripture is also incidental to the points their speakers convey as well. It’s as if they use scripture only enough to simply please anyone who has a real interest in the Bible. Otherwise scripture isn’t at all necessary to understanding life. Try listening to a typical Northpoint sermon from any of the pastors in their cycle of speakers and anyone who has a sincere interest in the Bible being exposited will be left with a dearth of spiritual nourishment. Scripture is only used in incidental ways to support the speakers’ overall points and isn’t delved into to uncover its meaning.

I suppose this is what people want because so many attend their network of churches. If pablum is what people want, then pablum is provided on a platter of pop culture. I know I shouldn’t waste my time with this sort of thing, but occasionally I’m interested in the behaviour of churches which broadcast live streaming to stay current. Northpoint is a complete disappointment for a believer of Christ.

We’re Not A Hate Group, We’re Just Like Any Family With Crazy Uncles

Skye Jethani’s recent article in Out of Ur explains what happens when prominent Christians face the media…

Sadly, when sensationalism sells it’s going to be the crazy uncles in Christendom that get media attention. Over time this creates the popular perception that all Christians share the views of those spotlighted by the media, especially among those who have no un-mediated interaction with Christians themselves. But there is an even more dangerous side-effect of the media’s elevation of Crazy Uncle Christians. With access to the prestige and platform that comes with media attention, Crazy Uncles actually start to influence the views of more Christians. In other words, the tail starts wagging the dog. Christians too start believing the church is a hate-mongering, homophobic, and theocratic special interest group. This is the trap evident in Michael Cheshire’s post. He’s accepted the media’s narrative of American Christianity as reality.

I think most Christians know them, the crazy uncles. Uncle Pat, Uncle Oral and lately Uncle Mike Huckabee and Uncle John Piper have demonstrated that case of foot-in-mouth disease. Jethani is correct, I believe, but in my view it raises a bigger question. Why does this happen? Is the temptation for mass media dissemination of the message too irresistible? Do we really believe that getting a message out, especially if we consider the message a good thing, to be a good thing? He’s right, the tail has been wagging the dog. Media shapes and forms the message as it pleases no matter how sincere and honest the messenger may have intended it.

It’s for that reason that I believe if the MSM had been around in the early years of the Roman republic when Jesus showed up that He would’ve shunned them, let alone chastised them. Like Christ being questioned by Pilate, He would’ve been an uncomfortable interview. He would’ve been set up by media as a crazy uncle to believers and unbelievers alike as He’s asked to explain His miracles performed. Many of His followers didn’t continue and left because of His hard teaching.

It may appear desirable to get the message of Christ out to as many as possible by using mass media. The internet is a great thing, but it has no personal touch. Perhaps that is one reason Christ entered the world when He did. No television or radio to speak to nameless, faceless individuals, but the spoken word would be widely disseminated personally, with the testimonial impact of the witness. In the environment of the MSM, impassioned liars carry as much weight as truth.

In my opinion it’s time the major networks and news outlets were mercilessly avoided. It’s clear their intention is news, and it’s their intention to make it anyway they choose. Christianity has its crazy uncles just as any family does. Christianity needs to handle them the same way.

A Reason

Out of Ur blog posted some results of a poll ranking honesty among professions by Gallup. Ashamedly, pastors rank below police officers. This, in my opinion, speaks more to the dreadful reputation of pastors than to the seeming good reputation of police. Others with a higher rank than pastors were:

Nurses
Pharmacists
Engineers
Dentists
College Teachers

The question, “Who is more honest than pastors?” is posed as a title of the post. I’m more interested in the why, and suspect that I may have an answer, one which I’ve alluded to in a previous post. In considering the ranking of other professions as a means to understanding that of clergy it may be that clergy have a unique dependency to their clients which the others don’t. All those mentioned above provide a trusted service, against which results to the clients may be measured. Clients seek out the services of each professional addressing specific deficiencies, and aware of their specific expertise. Pastors, on the other hand, provide a kind of nebulous service by comparison, and one for which results aren’t as simple to quantify.

Pastors are uniquely dependent upon their clients both in terms of results and support. Every other professional either charges a fee in relation to their service or their service is provided by some sort of defined group funding, as in taxation. Pastors generally don’t charge individual fees for the services they provide, but are supported through voluntary funding by the churches which support them. Often, the larger the number of people in a church the larger the funding the church has from which to draw. It also often means the greater the responsibility the pastor has to shepherd the flock, and hence the larger the salary the pastor has as compensation.

Pastors, it seems to me, are in a no-win situation when it comes to the subject of honesty for the simple reason that their performance is often considered by the wrong metric. Generally, the larger the church, the more members it has, the more successful the pastor is considered to be. Seldom does the consideration of the spiritual condition or the spiritual health, if you will, of the individual members become a factor in the informal evaluation of a pastor’s performance. Honesty suffers most when integrity to purpose is broken, and the true purpose of a pastor has more to do with spiritual condition than anything humanity measures as successful. In my opinion, modern pastors appear less honest than other professions if only because theirs is a spiritual vocation corrupted by secular standards. The “rat race” of quantifiable achievement through human ability shouldn’t have anything to do with being a pastor, but dishonesty becomes an issue when spiritual values are compromised and attenuates the true nature of being one.

My Church Post, Part I

It’s been almost a year since I was an imitational church member. Yes, another among the adjective-ridden church types, but this is of my own making, and you’ll figure out my meaning. It’s been a strange condition by the fact that we were members for 23 years, and served the congregation faithfully. Routine can be a comfortable thing, as it was in our case. Ours was an involvement stretching from being youth leaders to church elders to worship team director, with stops along the way for such jobs as furniture movers or to bus banquet tables. However, routines, just like the proverbial good things of which people speak, come to an end. Now, the past year has become something of an odyssey, involving the uncertainties of being without a permanent church and the discoveries we would not have known with one.

Church pundits in recent years have bandied about a number of adjectives, and among them “organic church” caught my interest. Books like “Pagan Christianity?“, “Revolution“, “Reimagining Church” and “The Pastor Has No Clothes” brought me to question preconceived notions I had about church. Throughout this discovery process I’ve never questioned the essentials of the Christian faith. God is the Father. Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life and the Father’s Son. The Gospel is still the Gospel. However, as my study of organic church progressed, my preconceived church concepts suffered, while arriving at some essentials of a church. In this regard it was helpful to consider the first century church. I’m sure they were unencumbered by sound systems with rotating lights or projectors, not to mention church buildings. How did they survive without parking lot attendants? Neither do I believe there was one man, with a title of pastor, who stood week after week, dispensing sermons to fellow believers who sat, watched and listened without engagingly but respectfully questioning because he possessed some academic credentials bestowed upon him by virtue of his correctly regurgitating study material provided to him by a theological institution. They had no New Testament because they were living it, and what they knew of the Old Testament had to be passed on from person to person because there was no iPad. (Ok, they may have had scribes, but getting a copy of the Old Testament then was about as likely as getting past the TSA at JFK with a GUN in one’s pocket.)

…to be continued in Part II