Archive for the ‘madness’ Category

“Everyone is looking for something for nothing. In life, people don’t want to work hard anymore. We want it handed to us.”
— Bobby Maximus (Fitness trainer, former police officer)

What Mr. Maximus said is sadly true even of  Christians. Always looking for spiritual shortcuts. Flitting to and fro between Christian conferences and retreats. Buying the latest popular “Christian” bestseller, hoping to find some simplistic spiritual secrets to living the “successful” Christian life. But they are not willing to invest the time and effort themselves to really study God’s Word or earnestly seek Him in prayer. Or pouring themselves into people‘s lives. Weekly, they go to church, sit passively, sing a few songs, take in the sermon [which they will largely forget the next day], and go home.

Church has become a country club.

Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived.
I look around me on a Sunday morning, all these believers, each one endowed with gifts (as well as skills, talents, abilities) from the Spirit. “With regard to spiritual gifts [πνευματικῶν], brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed … To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all” (1 Cor. 12:1, 7; NET). What are we doing with our “super powers?

I see all this potential, and I see squandering.
I weep when I think of all that can be done together as a church body if we unleashed all the different gifts [Διαιρέσεις δὲ χαρισμάτων; 1 Cor. 12:4] that largely lie dormant.

God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars.
Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.
It never fails to amuse and amaze me at how Christians justify their participation in the rampant consumerism of our age. No wonder we’re so spiritually impoverished when we come to church as mere religious consumers.

We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place.
In fact, as Christians living between the “already” and the “not yet” in salvation history, we of all people have a purpose! We have a mission! But most of us are not living intentionally or missionally.

We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war, our Great Depression is our lives.
Most of us are not even aware there’s a spiritual war around us because we live such a comfort-driven life.

We need to awaken out of our spiritual slumber!


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Upon hearing of yet another book on Trump (“Fear” by veteran journalist Bob Woodward), I am saddened that so much time and ink continues to flow around him when there are other pressing matters that remain largely unnoticed. But to be honest, most of my attention, angst and anger lies with the American evangelicals who idolize Trump and fawn over him like silly and senseless sycophants.

I confess that I am still unable to muster up enough charity and inner peace to calmly convey my profound disappointment, disgust and disillusionment concerning the state of American evangelicalism.  As such, I am grateful for those voices who are not afraid to tell it like it is and refuse to bow to the Orange Calf.

Let’s survey some of these faithful, eloquent and prophetic voices:

Jim Meisner, Jr. begins his piece with this powerful indictment: “For nearly 40 years, Evangelicals preached dire sermons against a godless, sin-soaked culture focused on wealth, immorality, celebrity, sexual promiscuity and worldly power. On Aug. 27, they celebrated it.” Amen! Stop there, no need to say anymore. The 100 idolatrous “evangelicals”who were there  (Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Ralph Reed and others of their ilk, but also prosperity preachers like Kenneth Copeland and Paula White) prostituting themselves and praising him as if he was the Messiah.


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Finally, under all the scrutiny and pressure, the reluctant and recalcitrant “leadership” of Willow Creek finally does the right thing. Perhaps it became inevitable, especially in light of the latest allegation.

First Steve Carter resigned.

Then came the long awaited wholesale wiping the slate clean.

Beth Allison Barr is dead on when she wrote:

For Christians who loudly proclaim the “priesthood of all believers” and that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” evangelicals are surprisingly quick to venerate pastors. Charismatic personalities and dynamic preaching—especially preaching that attracts thousands of new members—seems to make us forget that pastors are still frail humans.

And Mel Lawrenz offers 7 untruths that all leaders need to pay heed to, because “This teachable moment will not last long before we all move on with the busyness of our work. If this crisis is only seen as one man’s transgressions with women, the bigger picture will be missed.”

The time for megalomania-driven “ministry” and rampant idolizing of Christian celebrities must come to an end. If the Church does not repent and learn from this incident, then shame on all of us.

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Consumer Conscience?

I’m not a member, but it is Amazon Prime Day. (I do, however, buy a significant number of e-books through Amazon)

Amidst strike action by Amazon workers in Europe, CEO Jeff Bezos is now the richest person in modern history, with a net worth of $150 billion. That’s right, $150,000,000,000.

Shall I stop shopping at Amazon?

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Leadership Letdown

Scott McKnight wrote a measured and thoughtful response to the saga of Bill Hybels and Willow Creek. Frankly, having observed over the years how the Cult of Celebrity Christianity operates,  I am not surprised at how this whole thing is unfolding, but nevertheless, McKnight’s calm and thoughtful response is worth reading.

… my biggest fear was that Willow’s leadership and Hybels would handle it in the worst possible way … They did what I feared most: they came out strong arming, they came out swinging and gaslighting the women, and Hybels and Heather Larson and the Elders publicly accused the women – all of them – of lying …

Willow Creek’s leadership should have chosen to seek the truth at all costs, patiently listened to the stories of each woman in a safe environment, asked the congregation to await its findings, and only then gone public. But Willow’s leadership chose early on not to proceed in this way and seems intent on getting this story behind them as quickly as possible. What they most needed and what they still need is a genuinely independent investigation.

I believe the women.

This is what it all looks like to me: Willow’s strategy has not been an impartial investigation but an attempt to accuse the women, to wear them down over time, to soft-pedal around issues by slight shifts in the narrative, and at all costs to avoid admitting the women were telling the truth. Perhaps I’m wrong but I can only go on what I can find to be credible witness.

Why? Why would the leadership choose to act in the manner they did?  Simple. If we’re honest, if we put ourselves in their shoes, the reasons are simple. Riches and Reputation. Bill Hybels is a celebrity, his Willow Creek Church is a successful (financially rewarding) brand, and he has a built an empire around himself and his brand (Willow Creek Association). And they’ll be damned if they are going to let a few women’s allegations destroy this Brand and Empire.


Scott has posted an “apology” of sorts from Willow Creek’s leadership; I think I would agree with the general reaction in the comments.

See also Andy Rowell’s open letter to the WCA Board and President:

… I am troubled by Tom De Vries and Dick DeVos and whoever else from the Willow Creek Board made the May 17 statement and then also De Vries’s comments in this article. It perpetuates the culture of secrecy and lack of accountability and half-truths that got Willow Creek Community Church and the Willow Creek Association into this situation. The Willow Creek Community Church elders and pastors have begun to sharply reverse course and admit Hybels and the church Board and pastors were in the wrong–not the women and the reporters telling the truth, and it is time for the WCA to do the same. … Demonstrate your leadership competence and integrity by paying for an outside investigation and then giving up all control over what they look into, who they talk to, and the nature of their public final report. Please be different than many organizations that hire a public relations firm to put the best face on things and then hope people move on to focusing on other things. If other pastors are any indication, Bill Hybels will reappear soon and the outcry and sense of cynicism and anger toward leadership and Christians will bloom again. Take this seriously now. It is not going away.


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Benjamin Corey’s 10 signs that you are a follower of Trumpianity:

7. You instinctively applaud when Trump threatens to “bomb the shit” out of people, but quickly push back if someone quotes what Jesus taught about violence and enemy love.

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Indiscretion. Infidelity. Fraud. Scandal. Fallen.

Mark Driscoll. Tullian Tchividjian (Billy Graham’s grandson). Andy Savage. Bill Hybels. Paige Patterson.

Just a few names in a long list of disgraced Christian celebrities. However, we dare not be too quick to point fingers. Christians and the rotten models of church and “ministry” that most believers hold dear are partially to blame: we are so eager to put popular preachers on a pedestal. Inevitably, it’s only a matter of time before pride surfaces amidst the toxic swirl of personality, power, popularity, prestige, pay, pragmatism and politics. I need not elaborate how the ubiquity of social media serves only to amplify the temptation to fame and glory.

And we need not feel too bad for the fallen idols, for most go in hiding briefly before resurfacing again and proudly carrying on in a new public “ministry” (Driscoll, Tchividjian). Patterson was “promoted” to the position of President Emeritus for which he continues receiving compensation and may still get to live on campus [Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary] for free as “theologian-in-residence” (seriously?!! Whatever Patterson is, he is NOT a theologian!). And Savage received a standing ovation for his “confession”. Hybels? He still has a legion of adulating fans and don’t be surprised if he will surface again in another capacity in due time.

Andy Crouch has written a fine piece on why It’s Time to Reckon with Celebrity Power but alas, I fear it will fall upon deaf ears, or at best, call forth for the moment a few earnest promises of more accountability and transparency. However, unless we root out our innate desire to idolize, these sporadic and superficial acts of contrition will not lead to lasting change.

Also: unless we deconstruct the clericalism and institutionalism that breeds a culture wherein superstars are unabashedly promoted and empire building is unashamedly encouraged (perhaps couched in pious clichés), the ground remains fertile for the pernicious weed of “the Christian celebrity” to flourish.

I appreciate Al Mohler’s acknowledgment regarding The Humiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention, and I agree that “the issues are far deeper and wider”, but will there be enough moral fibre to dismantle the old boy’s club and clean up the corridors where money, power and favours flow? What about the immense hurt and damaged lives of the victims?

… somewhere ‘long the way
I got caught up in all there was to offer
And the cost was so much more than I could bear

Though I’ve tried I’ve fallen
I have sunk so low
I messed up
Better I should know

We all begin with good intent
When love was raw and young
We believe that we can change ourselves
The past can be undone
But we carry on our back the burden time always reveals
In the lonely light of morning
In the wound that would not heal
It’s the bitter taste of losing everything
That I’ve held so dear

Heaven bend to take my hand
I’ve nowhere left to turn
I’m lost to those I thought were friends
To everyone I know
Oh they turn their heads embarrassed
Pretend that they don’t see
That it’s one missed step, one slip before you know it
And there doesn’t seem a way to be redeemed

– Sarah MacLachlan, “Fallen”

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