Mother’s Day is a very special day for many women in our church. We like it that way. It’s a great family day and there are many women who will be pampered by their loving families. At least, I hope that families one way or another take advantage of this holiday to show appreciation for their mothers. Nonetheless, at Morning Star Church we are discreet about Mother’s Day because it is also a very rough day for many people. (more…)
Tradition and Traditionalism – “Tradition is the living faith of godly progenitors, passed on from generation to generation. Traditionalism is the dead faith of living Christian leaders attempting to hold on to power: Traditionalism militates against doing God’s will. In hundreds of ways local church leaders manifest it and unknowingly hinder the work of God. The Church fathers try to keep the Wednesday-night meeting alive by fighting small-group ministry. They resist innovative worship styles, new qualifications for leaders, constitutional re-writes, because they threaten the safe and familiar. As a result, they hinder progress and create an atmosphere of conflict. The ‘founding fathers’ of a particular church find themselves fighting to the death over un-important issues. Many times they forget the reason for the battle, and the conflict takes on a life of its own. Too often, the entire church dons full mountain-climbing gear to ascend anthills.” – Bill Hull
I do not have many friends. I don’t need many friends. But I need, because I am made in the image of God, friendship. One of the things that I try to teach my soon-to-be-teen daughter is that she doesn’t need a lot of friends, she doesn’t even need friends her age (although that’s nice), and she doesn’t need what everyone calls friendship. What she needs is the kind of friendship God made Christians to need and this is perfectly illustrated in today’s Adult Bible Study lesson in the Pilgrim’s Progress.
Pastor Bunyan knew what biblical friendship was and in the section immediately following the Valley of Humiliation he begins his lesson on Christian friendship that will continue throughout the rest of the work. Three vital points are made at the outset of the relationship between Christian and Faithful that I think it are very important for Jesus followers to grasp.
Friendship is about the pilgrimage. “Then I saw in my dream, they went very lovingly on together, and had sweet discourse of all things that had happened to them in their pilgrimage.”
They went on together. They talked about what they had been through prior to their meeting. The questions we must ask ourselves are these: Why do we want friends? What do we expect from friendship? What is the goal of friendship? I want the teens in my church and in my home to understand that if we want friends for any other reason than to help us in our pilgrimage to heaven, we’re self-lovers. If we expect from friendship anything more than what God intends to give through friendship then we have made a god out of friendship. And if our goal for friendship is anything different than the glory of God, and the prioritizing of God first in our life, then our friendship is an idol to us.
Friendship is divinely appointed. “My honored and well-beloved brother Faithful, I am glad that I have overtaken you; and that God has so tempered our spirits that we can walk as companions. . .”
You can’t be friends with everyone. Nor should you. Friendship that is the kind that helps you become a better person and gives you a sense of God’s love is rare. Relationships in mankind are naturally broken and disrupted. And while we seek peace with all men, friendship that helps us along is done by the gracious work of Sovereign appointment. God tempers the spirits of two people in such a way that they can walk as companions. The problem for many people (especially teens) is that they do not want the friends that God has appointed. They want cool friends or more friends. But Christians who love God are usually blessed with a good friendship once they begin to realize what it is that God has designed for them in friendship.
(As a side note, many people think that church is the place to find friends or have lots of friends. This is not necessarily true. Pastors notoriously have few or no friends within their church. I don’t think this is ideal, but I think it is realistic. Church is not a social club and people who enter and exit one church body after another in search of a place where they can really fit in are idolizing an ideal of friendship that is not healthy. God may or may not “so temper” the spirit of a person or two in your local church for you to have a wonderful friendship, but you should not expect to have this kind of friendship with everybody or most everybody even within the confines of your small local church.)
Friendship is contingent on mutual affections. Said Faithful as they first met, “I had thought, dear friend, to have had your company quite from our town, but you did get the start of me, wherefore I was forced to come thus much of the way alone.”
The gist of the friendship that Pastor John Bunyan illustrates in his story is that real friendship is contingent on deeply shared mutual affections. Insofar as one did not love the Lord of the Hill and was not seeking the Heavenly City there was necessary loneliness. Most teens and too many adults do not know how to find good friends because they have not yet figured out what they love most. Until we know what we really, really long for we can never discover true friendship.
Finally, Friendship is temporal. Some friendships are for life. But this is rare. Death takes one before the other. Usually Providence sends the two in different directions. Often one slides back and the other presses forward. We can never fully enjoy friendships until we grasp that every friendship in life is temporal. Marriage is bound together by a ’til death do us part’ vow. But friendships are not held by this authoritative vow. And even in solid marriages, friendship often comes and goes, strengthens and wanes. Simply put, the best friendships, the ones we crave, are the
divinely appointed and temporarily granted tempering of the spirits of two human beings who share the same joys and needs to encourage them in their difficult walk to the Heavenly City.
I like form. Who doesn’t? However, I feel myself being pegged as a typical evangelical that is doing his darnedest to be cool, so for the sake of many fundamentalist readers that think that my complaints about RAM are the whining of wanna-be cool vs. serious, I’ll inform you that I’m often accused of being “Lutheran.”
My Lutheran friends would strenuously disagree. And I beg their forgiveness. It must irk them to know that “Lutheran” is used pejoratively by evangelicals as code for boring and traditionalist. I don’t blame them. (more…)
Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods [forms], since those involved in them have not benefited (Hebrews 13:9).
The charge of heresy from fundamentalists has lost its sting. They’ve used that for everything from downsizing the bus ministry to becoming ashamed of culottes. This is not to say that heresy does not exist. Heresy, the opinion or doctrine at variance with orthodox opinion or doctrine, is for real. But when fundamentalists start to talk about real heresy they generally have to quote non-fundamentalists that they’ve already labeled as heretics to support their claims. Otherwise they don’t have any credibility even among themselves about what and who is heretical, as in really heretical! In other words, when it actually comes to fundamental doctrines, fundamentalists reference “heretics” for credibility in their defense of the fundamentals, but when it comes to fake heresies they reference only fundamentalists.
There are some exceptions, of course, because they latch on to some rare statement from an outsider and try to get so much mileage out of the statement that they end up spinning these concessions to appear as if the authors are giving a wholesale endorsement of the entire movement. Two examples immediately come to mind:
- Kirsopp Lake’s description of fundamentalism quoted in Beale’s history of American Fundamentalism, “The Pursuit of Purity” in which he says the “Bible and the corpus theologicum of the Church is on the Fundamentalist’s side.” And, more recently,
- Rick Phillips’ claim that fundamentalists get antithesis on the Reformation 21 blog, something that as an insider I would say I never understood while deep in the belly of the movement. (The truth is that for the average fundamentalist lifestyle is not about antithesis, but conformity.)
Both of these statements and several like them are used ad nauseam by fundamentalists in strained efforts to spice up their side-dishes of variant teachings. The fact that Kirsopp Lake’s concession was about the historic fundamentalists of the early 1900s is conveniently downplayed. And Phillips was conceding one point and only one point: that he saw in the fundamentalists of a particular institution a willing embrace of the concept of antithesis that is not so evident in “broad evangelicalism.” Basically, he was saying, “These guys are closer to me than many in broad evangelicalism when it comes to understanding antithesis.” That his definition of “broad evangelicalism” extends beyond people who go to the T4G Conference and listen to CCM is also conveniently downplayed since the fundamentalists’ definition of “broad evangelicalism” includes anyone that is not Baptist Fundamentalist. And even though he said it way back in 2007 on one blog entry, it’s going down in fundamentalist lore as one of the great concessions of the ages.
Fundamentalists have cried the alarm for so many fake heresies over the years that when it really matters, when a real wolf is coming after the sheep and the little boy who cries wolf needs to be believed, they always tap into the writings of Christian brothers who are guilty of one or more of these many fake heresies because no one believes the little boy who cries wolf anymore.
But despite the occasional affirmation of the orthodoxy of some tenets of their movement from outsiders that the fundamentalists ironically crave, the great majority of angst within fundamentalism is over fake heresies. The fake heresies have ranged from reading the NIV to not reproducing a form of “secondary separation” in relationships as “Doc” implemented. Fake heresies have included listening to CCM or, worse, using a drum in worship. The tricky fake heresies — the ones that require some brain labor in order not to be deceived — are the ones that have the names of real heresies but are defined wrongly. It is a real heresy to disbelieve the inspiration of Scripture. But it’s a fake heresy to think that using the ESV is an abandonment of the inspiration of Scripture. It is a real heresy to not have godly religious affections; but it’s a fake heresy to think that godly religious affections are almost exclusively about conservative form in worship. Or even that form is of primary importance to those concerned about religious affections.
So, pooh-pooh on the heresy charge if it comes from them. It’s the charge of stupidity that’s much more intimidating these days.
To be fair, I do not think that these people have actually said that those who don’t agree with them are dumb. (At least a quick word search in their archives of “dumb” does not immediately reveal evidence of this.) It’s just inferred. The new wave of fundamentalist intellectualism is just like the old wave of fundamentalist anti-intellectualism. Its tactics are the same. They’re not as attached to the term “fundamentalism” as the previous generation because they’re much more sophisticated in their thinking. They like “conservative” better. But they are still very much the same. Instead of making you feel like you’re a heretic by virtue of the fact that you diverge ever so slightly from their opinion on all matters, they make you feel like a dummy for diverging from their opinion on just a few matters. And dumb people just don’t get how holy God is.
They make you feel like your worship is second-rate, that you’re a half-wit if you can’t grasp their casuistry, and that you are guilty of heteropathy. They don’t shun you by running you out of their circles; they shun you by talking all about any position that differs from theirs as worldly and ignorant. They’ll talk with you by talking down to you. They’ll even go to church with you because they must. (There are so few churches that get what real worship is all about, after all.) One of their own boasts of simply refusing to sing with his congregation when the driveling bauble of simpleton worshipers he must associate with sings songs beneath his standards of orthopathy. Having the religious affections of a person grateful to be making a joyful noise with the blood-bought, covenanted people of God doesn’t overcome his devotion to form. Like Michal peering through the lattice of the upper window, they scorn the bad form of joy-driven God-lovers dancing among the people.
They’re separatists by condescension. They don’t practice separation; they practice superiority. And that separates them.
These people will talk all day long about the tri-unity of orthodoxy, orthopraxy, and orthopathy and the poor average Christian is embarrassed to admit that he didn’t realize those were not medical terms. The progeny of anti-intellectualism are now wowed by teachers who are not just pushing hyper-separatism in matters of orthodoxy and orthopraxy; these geniuses have extended their legalism into the realm of orthopathy! The descendants of fundamentalism have been so long secretly embarrassed by anti-intellectualism that now they’re being suckered by intellectualism. They’ve actually not gotten any smarter.
While sincere plebeian God-worshipers google orthopathy, others hang their head in shame that they’ve been so naughty as to actually feel happy in their souls about God and His glory with the aid of a form that was once pop culture sixty years ago. Others decide smart people can’t be wrong so they purge their homes of all that is now taboo and start training their consciences to think that the only acceptable worship to God is what has been declared pure by the esteemed critics of culture. The form that is approved does nothing for them, but it has been iconicized by a process of elimination. By it they must worship because all other forms are “heteropathy”.
The fad for superior form is not new. The mood of disdain for inferior forms of worship has been around. It’s come and gone, starting in the fertile imaginations of smart people and dying in cold, empty churches. Now regular people who rarely read are pointed to the mystical poetry of a Faber (for example) and the higher art forms preferred by John Henry Newman, an Anglican-turned-Catholic of the 19th century Oxford Movement that shared the same mood as these modern fundamentalists. And the mood matters. Of all people, fundamentalists should not be scandalized when their movement and sub-movements gets criticized on the basis of its mood since this was often a strong argument against the neo-evangelicals. (See Pickering in The Tragedy of Compromise: “New Evangelicalism was born with a ‘mood’”).
The only way the modern fundamentalists get away with this is because Joe the Mechanic has been steeped in legalism already and others think that the answer to non-serious worship is to obey those who say their the most serious about it. The older generation of fundamentalists are just relieved to have young men (rare as they are) sounding off in ways that appear very intellectual for once. Thus, evangelicals are taught by fundamentalists that the best spirituality is in the forms best loved by mystical Catholics because mystical Catholics have generally had the highest regard for good form. Their protestantism dismisses many of the other liturgical forms embraced by the same people as if the argument for some did not apply to all. Francis Bacon was right, however, that young men “embrace more than they can hold, stir more than they can quiet, fly to the end without consideration for the means and degrees, and pursue absurdly some few principles which they have chanced upon.”
These experts on worship know if you feel right or feel wrongly on the basis of mere form. Indeed, you cannot be worshiping rightly if you do not use the best forms which they have been good enough to explain to you. You are not worshiping rightly if you use forms that they have tabooed by principles of aesthetics. There is no dispute with them from me about whether their assessment of aesthetics is right. I actually agree. But they know if your feelings are godly or not because, as all misguided worshipers do, they have ascribed too much to the means of worship by their value of aesthetics and religion. Their messages on worship are not much more than an esoteric abstract iconology. For them, it’s all about form.
The original author of “The Religious Affections,” Jonathan Edwards, would be revolted by this bastardization of his beautiful theme. If you want to know what Jonathan Edwards would have felt about worship and religious affections, pay attention to John Piper (few moderns know Edwards better), not the young men with next-to-no pastoral experience at the Religious Affections Ministries. I read them for entertainment, mind-stimulation, thoughtful discussion, and for sometimes profitable insight. I don’t read them for wisdom in ministry. I read them like I read other philosophies that I can learn from without totally imbibing. If you want to be part of the glorious ambassadorial ministry of reconciliation that is bringing in people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and ethnicity, then don’t become part of a movement that gloats in being the best and highest form of what they have always been: They’re Westerners, White, American, Evangelical, Fundamentalists. And it all comes through in an undiluted sub-culture of religious isolationism and superiority.
Theirs seems less like Edwards’ warm evangelicalism of 18th century Christianity and more like the hoity-toity Puseyism of the 19th century. They are a movement that is (rightly) unhappy with the lack of seriousness in worship and in this I commend them. But they have more in common with the Oxford Movement of the 19th century that I mentioned above; not — and I stress this — in theology or ecclesiology, but in ideology and mood. The vehicle of this modern-day fundamentalist Tractarianism is not tracts, but websites. They are embarrassed by all that is low and think that high is synonymous with serious. It is not accidental that they are huge fans of, for example, the poetry of the Anglican-turned-Catholic Frederick William Faber and star of the middle 1800′s pop-culture, Christina Rossetti. High Church and high liturgy and the proponents of this Rome-direction had an unusually high and wonderful standard of art, poetry, and music. For them worship was all about form. And they disproportionately exalted the power of literature and poetry to direct minds to God.
Edwards’ religious affections would not have obsessed so much on forms of worship as this group, partly because when he was talking about the religious affections he was actually talking about the religious affections, not just what forms of worship must look like. He quoted positively a Mr. John Smith who talks about people whose religion is about nothing more than a “piece of art.” They had affections, for sure, and it was all about form and not as much about God, though it had God’s name all over it. And we rightly enjoy much of the poetry that came from sources such as these to this day. The queer Mozart’s Laudate Dominum (Psalm 117) makes me fall to my knees every time I hear it. I dream of the day we can do it in church!
But the point that I insist upon here is that the movement was cold and dead from the beginning, having the “form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5). Good form and right feelings can be damnably misguided.
Consider the God-ward, God-glorifying form of the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14. “I thank thee God that I am not like that poor Chris Tomlin singer over there who shuts his eyes and lifts up his hands with the pitiful, artless, crude hip-swaying style of corrupted orthopathy.” Ah, yes! The feelings of thankfulness were genuine in the Pharisee. He had, in fact, religious affections of sincere gratitude that God — indeed, he credited God! — had not made him as that poor loser in the corner, crying out to God with bad poise, seemingly unconscious of God’s glorious transcendence and preference for hymns. No one had more concern about form worthy of God than the Pharisee. No one. The original author of “The Religious Affections” quotes Smith approvingly, and Smith is unmistakably addressing those with the highest view of God and most worthy form:
Lest their religion might too grossly discover itself to be nothing else but a piece of art, there may be sometimes such extraordinary motions stirred up within them, which may prevent all their own thoughts, that they may seem to be a true operation of the divine life; when yet all this is nothing else but the energy of their own self-love, touched with some fleshly apprehensions of divine things, and excited by them. . .
There are such things in our Christian religion, which when a carnal, unhallowed mind takes the chair and gets the expounding of them, may seem very delicious to the fleshly appetites of men. . .[and how much more if packaged in the best form!]. . .They may seem to themselves to have attained higher than those noble Christians that are gently moved by the natural force of true goodness: they seem to be pleniores Deo (i.e. more full of God) than those that are really informed and actuated by the divine Spirit and do move on steadily and constantly that way toward heaven….
True religion is no piece of artifice; It is no boiling up of our imaginative powers, nor the glowing heats of passion; though these are too often mistake for it, it is a new nature, informing the souls of man; it is a Godlike frame of humility, meekness, self-denial, universal love to God and all true goodness, without partiality, and without hypocrisy, whereby we are taught to know God, and knowing Him to love Him, and conform ourselves as much as may be to all that perfection which shines in Him.
True religion is no piece of artifice. Remember, Smith is not talking to drum people; he’s talking to organ people. He’s not addressing Kinkade kitsch people; he’s describing lovers of real art. When you taboo things, you iconicize other things. They are making an icon (a virtual aid to worship) out of a form of worship by tabooing all other forms of worship, jinxing those forms as sub-par, displeasing to God, and unworthy of God, stultifying the spiritual minds of simple people whose consciences are being bound into fear of enjoying something that is forbidden.
This is not a theoretical, ivory-tower discussion for me. It’s missionary and pastoral. I know people who have sat under their ministries for years trying with earnestness to comply and feeling shame and guilt because they simply could not enjoy the higher forms that were imposed upon them. With embarrassment they secretly enjoyed “Blessed Assurance Jesus is Mine” by Fanny Crosby even though they sheepishly admitted it had been — gasp! — pop music at one time! This is what happens when older pastors follow younger men barely out of their thirties.
I heard one of their own say to the church that is dying under his cold ministry, “Our music is worthy of God. That is the only kind of worship we will do.” Furthermore, they will have practically nothing to do with anyone else in town because of their superiority and though they have drunk to the dregs this philosophy of worship their church languishes on life support, shriveling away. But what form is there that men can do that is worthy of God? Actually, even men’s righteousness — not their sins, their righteousness — is like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). Music, in and of itself worthy of God is impossible. And this does not deny the aesthetic principle of objective beauty. But if your principles of aesthetics make you believe that because you can objectively determine what is more aesthetically beautiful you can then dogmatically assert what is most pleasing to God then you moved from the religious affections of a saved people to the religious affections of those who merely have affections for the beautifully religious. You thank God that he has not made you like the other uncultured people.
God did not delight in the very forms that He had ordained when the forms became an opportunity for wrong affections. “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord. I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or goats” (Isaiah 1:10). Let Jesus talk about religious affections: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another.” Let Paul talk about religious affections: “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them” (1 Corinthians 9:19). Here’s Jesus again when the worship and ministry police disapproved of his style: “Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” (Matthew 11:19).
But when form has become so important to you that you celebrate men who refuse to sing with the blood-bought covenanted people of God whenever they sing poetry that is less than the very best, it is you and not the boy with the guitar that is on the slippery slope. God sanctifies music just like He sanctifies His people; with His Word. Indeed, He sanctifies everything in one way: with His Word and prayer. “Everything created by God is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5). Jesus Himself is the ultimate Word that listens to the repetitive and simple chants of boys and, because of His mystical union with us and ours with Him, turns that which comes out of the mouths of intellectual babes praise!
I do not believe they intend this, but the whole RAM is a young man’s movement fueled by older men who, in the main, just don’t get it. They think that the music conservativism of this new generation is the better expression of the music conservativism of the older generation. They are not one and the same. And the younger men know this, but they’re enjoying the adulation of a desperate movement. In reality it’s apples and oranges. The only thing the two ideologies have in common is a practical Gospel-free understanding of worship. These ideologies find it hard to process that Kum Ba Yah, My Lord sung in the Spirit by a group of redeemed saints made one with Christ would be more pleasing to the Holy God than Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In theory, of course, they would agree. They’re evangelical fundamentalists, after all.
In orthopathy, however, they are the ones that promote a Pharisaical thanking of God that they are better than everyone else. (Individual motives aside; I speak of the fruit of their teaching which I’ve been watching up close in my own city). Theirs is a Christ-less conception of worship. It’s Gospel-free. It’s enraptured by form. It’s old-school fundamentalism. And it has little to do with the religious affections that Jonathan Edwards wrote about.
Edwards said it best: “The notion of certainly discerning another’s state by love flowing out, is not only not founded on reason or Scripture, but it is anti-scriptural, against the rules of Scripture; which say not a word of any such way of judging the state of others as this, but direct us to judge chiefly by the fruits that are seen in them.” And yet they would tell the African-American grandmother that sings her soul out to Jesus with Black gospel that she is diseased in orthopathy. She cannot feel rightly because she uses a form that is not classical European. They could not rejoice with the Burmese refugees that get up in our church from time to time to sing with a guitar and a crude rhythm instrument praises to God in a redeemed form of music that is reminiscent, yes indeed, of the pagan world they left behind. And because Black grandmother and Burmese refugees are unfamiliar with their prescribed iconic forms, Black grandmother and Burmese refugees are hindered in their worship. Along with most regular white people in places like Rockford.
I say look at the fruit. And when you do, you won’t find much.
Yes, yes, yes. I’m working on Part Two, a reaction to the addendum to the anonymous letter posted to students from Northland at religiousaffections.org and then removed. Here’s why:
The Anonymous Letter Writer tried to post a defense/rebuttal/answer on my blog as “Anonymous Letter Writer” with the fake email address matt at ni.edu. I suppose this fundamentalist pastor, seriously committed to religious affections, thought it was cute to use the first name of NIU’s president and a fake email address from the institution as part of his disguise. I assume its fakeness because my email was rejected when I sent a letter to that address.
I did not post the anonymous comments because in ten years of blogging I have been consistently opposed to posting anonymous commenters. It’s been my policy all along. However, I got a private message from the editor of The Religious Affections website who sardonically commented to me that he had heard that I had not posted the anonymous pastor’s comments as if I was dodging rebuttal. Well, I have a long-standing record for not being a wimp about attacks on me and the truth is that there was more delicious fodder for fun in that rebuttal that I would have loved to use. In fact, I may exempt myself of my own policy this one time. This is yet to be decided. However, I explained to him that I never did allow anonymous comments, but have always allowed comments on my blog even though they are extremely harsh to me (with a few rare exceptions), and that I wrote to the fake address (thereby discovering it’s fake-ness) seeking to connect. Therefore, in keeping with my policy I wasn’t going to promote it.
Then came the sarcastic push-back. The coup-du-jour, if you will. The ultimate shutter-upper for folks of sensitive conscience such as mine. I was told that I was not ethical to post a copyrighted letter on my website without permission from the website. Clearly, I had no concern about ethics, it was implied.
Ouch! It made me wish I had gone anonymous.
This charge, of course, (I paused to remember) comes from a website that hosted a fundamentalist pastor, with a fake NIU email, posting for thousands to see anonymous attacks. I paused, of course — again — because one does not take lightly the charge of bad ethics coming from highly regarded authorities on religious affections. I’m a bumbling idiot compared to these maestros of religious feelings when it comes to religious affections, but I do have affections for all that is religious and think misjudgment in the ethical management of copyrighted web material is nearly as bad as anonymous attacks on Christian brothers, being that I also have religious affections for brothers. But in the eyes of the authorities of religious affections and worship in the Church of Jesus Christ it is clearly worse.
I therefore paused. To think. To mull it over. Certainly, I was not being told that I could no longer speak to the issue of the anonymous charges flung into cyberspace just days before, was I?
It’s hard to argue against something that was said, but wasn’t. If you know what I mean. They took it down. I have no higher education and thus find it a bit confusing that many who pilloried one institution for posting something on its website and then hastily removing it did not have a problem with their champion posting an anonymous hit piece and then hastily removing it. My feeble mind simply cannot grasp the contradiction. But what is even harder to grasp is that so few in either camp can see the inconsistencies of their own party. But, alas! I went to Northland. Before it was an International University.
I have no PR department, no lawyer, and I do not have the intelligence to pontificate on the orthopathy of everybody. So, instead of hastily removing my offending post, I’ll let my sin hang out there for all to see and work through it as quickly as I can, examining the charges of bad ethics that come from the champions of religious affections. I will plead mercy in the hope that all those scandalized by my transparent error will have religious affections for mercy that are nearly as intense as their religious affections for Bach.
My second piece analyzing the addendum written by the anonymous pastor is already done. Even I, with juvenile grasp on the rules of logic and argumentation, found the deconstruction of that work embarrassingly easy. However, I do not want to post it with the full disclosure of what was said in the anonymous letter (because I have been informed by the editor of religiousaffections.org that that would be unethical), but now must re-write it in a way to quote (without quoting too much) what was said in order to stay within the parameters of copyright legitimacy and thereby leaving myself open to the charge of misrepresenting what was said because I took it out of context; something that they will, of course, take advantage of. Unfortunately, the silliness of the addendum to the anonymous letter from the fundamentalist pastor who agonizes over the loss of religious affections in today’s modern schools will be one of those things that you have to have seen with your own eyes to believe.
There is a lesson in all this. I think we all get it.
I woke up this morning with the joy of my salvation. And I rarely do. A birthday gift from the Spirit. I was thinking, “This is water. This is water. This is water. Jesus is the Rock.” Few non-Christian authors have captured the essence of me for me like David Foster Wallace in his popular essay “This is Water” in which he talks to young people about the difficulty of making it to 30 or maybe 50 without shooting yourself in the head and learning how to think and to choose what to think on. Tragically, he committed suicide before he made it to 50. I am not foolish enough to think that I would have found Jesus or even have wanted Him if He had not chosen me and then — 43 years ago — entrusted me as a naked, wordless rebel into the care of parents who simply said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” The “endless monologue” in my head that drums monotonously “this is water, this is water, this is water” gets sporadically and emphatically interrupted by the Rock that has never shifted ever since I first called out to Him as a little boy. But to wake up with the feeling — the joy feeling! — of sitting on an immovable Rock with “this is water” lapping harmlessly at my feet is a birthday gift from the Spirit. Blessed assurance Jesus is Mine.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off