Is not liking rap their biggest problem? The Family Integrated Church Movement

Joe Fleener has been saying this for as long as I’ve known him. The Family Integrated Church has a poor and dangerous ecclesiology. I have agreed with him. Perhaps this rap flap is a good opportunity to start challenging the more serious issues of their views on patriarchy, family, and church.

Are Mike & Molly Baptists? They Look Obese Enough.

Mike & Molly just look like Christians. We really don't know if they are for sure.

Mike & Molly just look like Christians. We really don’t know if they are for sure.

Mike & Molly is a sitcom about an obese couple that fell in love after meeting in an Overeaters Anonymous group. From the looks of it (not their lifestyle or show certainly), they could be good Christian folk: obese.

According to a Fox News report, Baptists need to diet and go to the gym.

A 2006 Purdue study found that the fundamental Christians are by far the heaviest of all religious groups led by the Baptists with a 30% obesity rate compared with Jews at 1%, Buddhists and Hindus at 0.7%.

Read more:

The obesity problem, according to the study, among Christians is not exclusively a Baptist problem. Baptists lead other “fundamental Christian” denominations with a 30% obesity rate, but the fat is shared charitably with other parts of the Body of Christ. You might be interested to know that Jews have an obesity rate of 1%. Continue reading

Dare To See Your Opponent’s Point

Love him or hate him (and among my readership I’m sure there are both kinds), Roland S. Martin is a good leader and thoughtful people need to pay attention to him even if they choose not to agree with his conclusions. In this article, Roland Martin responds to those (presumably Democrats or at least anti-Romney and Santorum) who are reacting in disdain over the comments made by the Republican candidates about unwed mothers. Clearly, says Martin, there is a problem: too many children born out-of-wedlock. Continue reading

Thin Christlikeness

There is a decidedly ironic and humorous typo on the Northland website that will probably be corrected soon, but Dissidens has been quick to provide a satirical commentary. (A screen shot of the post is below. Notice the last line: “grow thin Christ likeness.”)

It is our desire that this endeavor will create and strengthen interactions between students and staff members, leading to opportunities for Gospel-centered conversation and mutual encouragement toward grow thin Christ likeness.

Thin Christlikeness. Certainly this is probably an honest albeit unintended assessment of what results from discipleship while watching March Madness. Though clearly the ambition is nobler and the aspiration true growth in Christ, it does afford an opportunity to discuss the culture of American Christianity, particularly in the places where future leaders are being trained.

I must say that while I am an enthusiastic amateur bracketologist currently being destroyed by my wife and eleven-year-old daughter and barely ahead of my five-year-old son, I find myself wincing in agreement with Dissidens, a person that I very much enjoy disliking. I personally think (and don’t we all want to know what I personally think?) that the whole month of activities surrounding the NCAA tournament sounds like a lot of fun for a bible college campus, and if I were there I would probably be first in line to try a half-court shot for a free sweatshirt or whatever the prize may be. I have always had a huge addiction to free anything.

I take no umbrage with fun. Even at bible college.

But, let’s be real. If anything shows “thin Christ likeness” it’s the American evangelical bible college gaggle of spirituality. Bible colleges are too often the epitome of the church youth group in which the naive youth director feels it is his calling in life to prove to young people that they can be Christian and have fun too.

My college years were spent in both a secular environment and in bible college. While in Toulouse, France I clung to Christian fellowship and discipleship was all about prayer, resisting the wiles of the Devil, pursuing purity, witnessing in hostile environments, fasting, and spiritual affections. In bible college I metamorphosed from borderline mystical ascetic to class clown, becoming class and student body president and advancing frivolity with all the zeal of Saul of Tarsus. I was a Christian and having fun too.

Discipleship on the bible college campus was hanging out at the professors’ homes eating pizza and enjoying a few more liberties than were allowed in the men’s dormitory. Before I went to bible college and while I was in a secular environment I shared the feelings of Jim Elliot.

No ascetic, Jim enjoyed to the full all that he believed God had given him to enjoy, but he felt it wisest to exclude from the sphere of activity anything which had the power to distract him from the pursuit of the Will.  .  .  . He believed Christ to be utterly sufficient for the entire fulfillment of the personality, and was ready to trust Him literally for this.

But as college kids often do, I got drunk. I got drunk on American silliness and in my delusion actually thought it sounded very cool to justify every recreation as a “fun and discipleship.” Jesus said, “If you would be my disciple, take up your cross.” Giggle, giggle.

Thin Christlikeness will get offended by this, of course. It will be assumed that anyone who agrees with Dissidens on this matter is cynical, bitter, judgmental, and anti-smile. They might even assume that I am against all the festivities at my alma-mater surrounding the NCAA Championship. This, however, is a simplistic analysis. I’ve actually filled out two brackets and am intensely engaged in this hugely entertaining month. (I’ve picked Michigan State to go all the way.) But I think we do ourselves a disservice when we insist that we have to put a spiritual spin on everything: fun AND “discipleship.”

Serious minded Christians actually think you can have fun as a disciple, but that fun is not discipleship. One has famously said that there is no difference between the sacred and the secular. The problem is that there is.

We also do ourselves and our young people a huge disservice when we take sacred concepts and insinuate frivolity. The word “chapel” is meaningless now. Why not call it what it is: “school assembly”? But when you have “chapel” (understood by most in the world as a place of, or designated service for, worship) in which the sports guys discuss their brackets it undermines true seriousness about real discipleship and worship. And are all students required to go to the silly chapels?

I say this as one who personally orchestrated circus atmospheres that burst through the previous ceiling of frivolous “chapels” at Northland. I didn’t have good sense then. And I still don’t mind a good party. But I think 19 year olds aren’t really understanding what the real world is like where, in most places, discipleship is not fun.

I can’t help but wonder if there are not some students on these bible college campuses that are like Jim Elliot, the student at Wheaton many years ago:

My spirit is all a ruffle again at the vast, inexplicable complexities of humankind, and the careless, ineffective manner we fool ‘fundamentalists’ use in answering the cry of hearts which cannot understand themselves.

We American Christians cannot understand ourselves. But we understand March Madness. And we have just enough knowledge of ourselves to know that if discipleship is not fun we probably want none of it.


Laying Up Treasures or Exposing our Values? Thoughts on Bauder’s Defense of BJU

In a recent blog post on SharperIron, Kevin Bauder defended Bob Jones University against a criticism of the university’s low salaries for their faculty and staff. I have not seen it, but apparently someone posted a comparison chart showing the salaries of various universities with Bob Jones being ranked lowest. Also — apparently — there was no comment. Nonetheless, Kevin Bauder felt compelled to use that particular criticism as an opportunity to defend the university and, by extension, the low salaries of many fundamentalist institutions. Continue reading

Heil Succes!

It is amazing to me how much Americans are like the good Germans (98% to be exact) who rush in the reign of Adolph Hitler. German Christians were also swept up in the hysteria. I cannot help but see how the masses of American evangelicals are just as easily impressed by success “as the measure and justification of all things.” Thus, the larger a man’s church gets the more credible he becomes whether his ideas or opinions are worthy or not. Here’s how Bonhoeffer put it:

In a world where success is the measure and justification of all things the figure of  Him who was sentenced and crucified remains a stranger and is at best the object of pity.  The world will allow itself to be subdued only by success. It is not ideas or opinions which decide, but deeds. Success alone justifies wrongs done. . . . With a frankness and off-handedness which no other earthly power could permit itself, history appeals in its own cause to the dictum and the end justifies the means. . . . The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought which takes success for its standard.

We Nerds Are Sick of the Jocks (At Least I Hope So)

When will leaders get sick of mega-church pastors?  They are the Paris Hiltons and Kardashians of American evangelicalism and they are, in the main, very shallow and simplistic. It could be argued that the shallower and sillier they are, the larger the church. Thus, Joel Osteen ranks near the top. We’re all so afraid to just blow them off because we’ll be told that we’re just jealous of their large churches.That makes as much sense as saying that a man is an adulterer because he criticizes a man with a wife. We don’t covet their large churches because many of us don’t even think they have churches. Accusing us of coveting their large churches because we are fed up with their pushiness is more akin to accusing us of lusting a wasted hooker because we hate the pimp. It’s like thinking that a nerd’s scorn of a dumb jock’s ineptitude with anything requiring intelligence is really a suppressed anger for not getting on the ball team when, in fact, nerds could not care less if sports never existed.
We live in completely different spheres of thought about what is actually church. And that’s why it really rots that they dictate the conversation about church.
 Anyway, I’ve dropped a few lines on twitter that share my thoughts about the American fascination with the cook kids in the mega churches, thinking that I was alone in my vexation. Here’s a sample:
  • After the shallow and juvenile tripe from Driscoll and MacDonald, adults speak:
  • @La_Shawn He [Tebow after declining to preach at prosperity church] has more theological sense than some evangelical mega church pastors.
  • Certain Celebrity pastors are the Kardashians of evangelicalism and all the groupies are atwitter about their latest attention grab.
  • 1 lesson from ER: people with the money frame the discussion. Only in weak evangelicalism does your opinion have weight becuz you’re hot.
  • When revival comes there will be an outbreak of new churches and revived old churches and a decrease of mega churches.
  • Poor mega church pastors. Because they have always believed that numbers are proof of blessing, they now think they can never be wrong.
  •  Got very helpful idea from a pastor with a church 1/3 the size of mine. Why do we think mega church pastors know more what’s relevant to us?
And I said this in the comment section of the previous post:
We normal guys out here who are unaffiliated and don’t have our umbilical cords attached to a celebrity preacher-man are getting sick and tired of being verbally spanked anytime we call it the way we see it. Just because we get shouted down by the guys who can put on extravagant Elephant Rooms in which the elephant is not actually discussed doesn’t mean we little people don’t know what we’re talking about. And we don’t like it when Driscoll and MacDonald can say what they want about anyone that disagrees with them, but when we respond in kind we’re told that we’re unloving fundamentalists. Even racists. We’re especially weary of the Kardashian-like drama imposed upon us by leaders who have both too much time and too much power to even remember what it’s like to be normal.
Frankly, I’m sick and tired of big-shot, mega-church, celebrity pastors who think they are the ones who get to decide who is worthy to be heard, and who isn’t.
Nice to know the sentiment is shared.

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