Bad knock-off of mainstream advertisement? Check
Awful Pun? Check.
Church warning us about Halloween and the Occult? Check.
Bad knock-off of mainstream advertisement? Check
Awful Pun? Check.
Church warning us about Halloween and the Occult? Check.
Apparently Jesus is a big fan of Wiz Khalifa…..
By Paul Cloos, Press-Register
MOBILE, Alabama — Carlos McDaniel was at the Pepsi Stage at BayFest 2011 in downtown Mobile on Sunday, waiting for Wiz Khalifa to perform when he turned around and looked up in the sky.
He loves to take photos, is interested in images and was intrigued with the shape he saw around the moon.
So he took out his smart phone and snapped a photo. He looked some more and started to decipher the image.
McDaniel understands that different people see different things, but this is what he saw and he wants to share it because it had a powerful effect on him. He saw the face of God. More specifically, he sees the son of God, Jesus, with the moon appearing in the center of the forehead like the star of Bethlehem.
Above the face he sees a crown of thorns.
He said he intends to have the photo made into a poster he can place on his wall. “It brought tears to my eyes when I thought about it,” he said.
Time to get back to something less serious.
Personally, I think this looks amazing.
About time there was a traveling road show to help “put God back in American again.”
If this guy comes to your church, then please file a report and let us know if it’s everything we hope and dream it can be.
Not surprisingly Mark Driscoll’s heart warming sermon on how much God hates some of us stirred up quite a few emotions.
It should. The issue of who God is and what God is like is fundamental to not only Christianity, but any faith.
Like any other issue of such importance, this one deserves some serious reflection. So, as a follow up to stirring up the pot yesterday I thought I would try to get to the heart of this debate over wrath and love, and hopefully offer an alternative to, what is for many of us, Mark Driscoll’s unpalatable God of hate.
But first a story.
A few years ago I was with my youth group at our denomination’s quadrennial youth conference in St. Louis, MO. It’s a “big to do” in our little denomination. Lots of teens from all over the world, dozens of speakers and activities, and of course top tier Christian music artists, because you’ve gotta keep the people entertained.
One night the guy that spoke was the head of a major student evangelism ministry. This organization challenges and “equips” students to proselytize (I’m not convinced its really evangelism) to their friends and strangers walking down the street. If you’re a youth pastor you get their mailings on a weekly basis.
The opening was pretty good, a couple of funny stories to get the students engaged and interested in what he was saying. But then things made a strange and disturbing turn.
In his attempt to get the students to better relate to Jesus he made reference to Jesus’ experience on the cross. The basic premise was essentially “Jesus feels your pain.” Of course he does and that’s one of the beautiful aspects of the faith. It was how the speaker said Jesus understands our pain that I found incredibly problematic and which I think is at the heart of Mark Driscoll’s misunderstanding of the nature of God.
According to the speaker, and I feel safe in assuming Mark too since they’re both part of the Reformed camp, God the Father turned his back on Jesus while he hung on the cross and abandoned him in order that he could pour out all of wrath on his son.
First of all, even though Jesus echo’s the cry of the Psalmist “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”, I don’t believe for a second that the Father abandoned his son or that he poured out his wrath upon him. However, this is a very nuanced and somewhat technical conversation. So, [shameless plug] if you have way too much time on your hands and you enjoy boring academic papers of margainal quality, then you can read the thesis I wrote on the subject, literally as a result of hearing this sermon at the youth conference.
That being said, this is standard Reformed theology. It’s an interpretation of how we are saved called “the satisfaction theory.” Essentially, it is the idea that Jesus dies to satisfy the Father’s wrath. It’s a widely held belief by many Christians whether they consider themselves reformed or not.
I think it’s not only theologically incoherent, but that it also creates a God which I am not convinced is even worthy of worship.
If as that speaker and Mark argue the cross is a moment in which God the Father commits an act of unbridaled hate while Jesus performs an act of self-sacrifing love and yet we as Christians are to believe in “one God”, then what we are left with is a God with a serious multiple personality disorder. A God who, at least in one personage, we should hate and despise. This simply will not do.
I think at the heart of the problem in Mark and that youth conference speaker’s theology is that they don’t understand who or what we are being saved from. Likewise, I think this issue of “being saved” is at the heart of the conversation we’ve been having over the past day or so about God’s wrath.
There are only 3 possibilities here. Only 3 people from whom we could possibly need saving.
Our first option is the obvious culprit: Satan. Lots of Christians believe that this is who we need saving from. This is another theory of the atonement called “ransom theory.” In this view, God uses Jesus as the ransom to buy us back from the devil. There’s a big problem with this idea, however. If God has to bribe Satan to hand us over, then Satan is not only really powerful, he is, in fact, on par with God. Though that sort of dualism may have life in our popular conciousness, it’s certainly not biblical and definitely not orthodoxy. God and Satan are not co-equals. So, this theory is out for me.
Our second option is the culprit Mark and the youth conference speaker have chosen. According to them, God is saving us from Himself. This is called the “satisfaction theory of the atonement.” As we mentioned before, in this theory Jesus’ love saves us from the Father’s wrath and we are left with a God in need of a psychotherapist to help him work out his multiple personality disorder. Seriously, though, I find this theory to be incoherent, repugnant, and confusing. From a logical point of view, how does God save us from himself? Before you answer that too quickly, please note that that idea of God the Father pouring out his wrath on Jesus while he hung on the cross is not found anywhere in the Bible. It is read into the Bible much later. Even if this were true, then we are left with a God whom we should at least hate in part for his fraticide of Jesus. If it is the case that the Father is a murderer, then I am confused as to why he is worthy of worship at all? So, again, this theory is out for me.
Which leaves us with our third and final option. For me, I think we are saved, not from a godlike Satan or a murderous Father, but from ourselves. It all goes back to sin. If we think sin is simply “missing the mark” or breaking the law, then we don’t understand sin or therefore salvation at all. Sin is idolotry. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve aren’t guilty of stealing fruit. They’re guilty of trying to steal godhood away from God. In other words, they were trying to put themselves on the heavenly throne as an act of self-worship in the attempt to be lords of their own lives. We are guilty of sin, not because Adam stole fruit, but because like Adam we continue this pattern of trying to be god’s of our own lives.
As Christians we believe that God is the source of all life and that apart from him there is only death. So then, if we try to live apart from him, making ourselves god, then the inevitable result is death. This is why Paul says “the wages of sin is death”. This isn’t because God stands by ready to be judge, jury, and executioner whenever we make a mistake. Rather, death is the inevitable consequence for following our own path which leads away from the only source of life.
So then, when Jesus dies on the cross he is not saving us from Satan and he is certainly not saving us from himself. He is saving us from our own destruction. Hell isn’t simply God’s punishment for people that make him mad. Hell is our attempt to create our own kingdom, an alternative kingdom to the kingdom of God. Because of God’s love, not his wrath, and because he took the risk of giving us free will which allows to establish our own alternative kingdom.
The cross, therefore, is not an act of wrath at all. It is an act of love in which God saves us from our own destruction and opens the gates to his kingdom allowing everyone, sinner and saint alike to dwell with him forever.
God certainly has wrath, but if we look at the direction it’s pointed at in scripture, instead of simply counting how many times it appears and assuming we know what that means, then we see that God’s wrath has a very specific target. God’s wrath is stirred, almost exclusively in Scripture, when we worship other gods, especially when that god is us. And it is stirred again when we ignore and trample on the marginalized, persecuted, and oppressed.
God is one. He does not hate his son, nor has he ever, “this is my son in whom I am well pleased.”
And God doesn’t hate you.
Does he hate it when we try to take control of our own lives? Absolutely, but only because he hates the thought of living apart from us.
God loves us, that’s why he sent his son, and that’s why he died on the cross.
Telling the world that God hates them isn’t just fear mongering, it’s bad theology, and because it repudiates God’s fundamental nature, I find it to be rather blasphemous.
God loves you. His people should love you. And I’m sure Mark Driscoll can find a way to really be Christ-like and love you too.
Grace and peace,
UPDATE : Apparently Mars Hill has chosen to remove this clip from Pastor Mark’s sermon.
Sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up.
That isn’t an out of context quote in the headline. Here are Pastor Mark’s exact words:
“Some of you, God hates you. Some of you, God is sick of you. God is frustrated with you. God is wearied by you. God has suffered long enough with you. He doesn’t think you’re cute. He doesn’t think it’s funny. He doesn’t think your excuse is “meritous” [the word he's looking for here is "meritorious"]. He doesn’t care if you compare yourself to someone worse than you, He hates them too. God hates, right now, personally, objectively hates some of you.”
I do agree that God is frustrated and weary with many, if not most of us. God has great things in store for us all, yet we would rather do our own thing. I get that and to that end Pastor Mark is right. In fact, I would go far as to agree with him that we downplay God’s wrath too much at the expense of a complete picture of who God is.
However, Pastor Mark’s exegesis of God’s wrath is more than a bit inconsistent. Actually, it’s just terrible. Not just in the conclusions that he draws, although I don’t agree those either, but the way in which he draws them.
Pastor Mark’s argument begins with the assertion that God’s wrath is mentioned in the Bible more than God’s love? How does he know this? Because the concordance he uses told him so. Here’s the thing, I don’t know what concordance Pastor Mark is using. Either Pastor Mark needs to buy a new concordance or he is playing “loosey goosey” with his biblical languages. For the sake of time and interest, I’ll spare you the exhaustive word study and give you the Cliff’s Notes version.
There are several words that could be translated into “wrath” or which speak of God’s “anger” in Hebrew and Greek. However, according to Strong’s Concordance (perhaps the definitive Biblical concordance) Biblical scholars and translators only thought those words should be translated into the English concept of wrath about 170 times TOTAL. Guess how many of those are in the Old Testament? About 140. Which means only about 30 are in the New Testament. How many of those are in the gospels? About 3. Even if he counts uses of “anger” to also mean wrath, that only adds about 210 more to his count.
Love, on the other hand, as it is translated into the English from Hebrew and Greek, is mention almost 700 times throughout the Bible. I’m not a math wiz, but I think 700 is more than 380.
So how does he come up with “over 600″?
If you listen carefully he says there are “20 some words” used for God’s wrath. Which means, essentially, that Pastor Mark’s translating authority trumps scholarly consesus about what words do or do not refer to God’s wrath. Kind of ironic if you think about it. Most of this sermon is spent ranting about how people pick and choose what attributes of God they will elevate above the rest. Pastor Mark hates it when people twist the Bible to fit their theological agenda. Kind of ironic if you ask me.
From simply a numbers stand point, Pastor Mark’s claim that “wrath” is the dominant word in the Bible is factually incorrect. However, even if the number count was even, that doesn’t define the message of the Bible. Just because the word “love” doesn’t appear in given story or chapter, doesn’t mean that God’s love is missing.
Take, for example, the story of creation. The word “love” does not appear anywhere in Genesis 1 or 2. Yet, clearly God creating the world and breathing life into mankind is an act of love.
Or how about one of the great stories of “God’s wrath”, Noah’s ark? At first glance it would seem to clearly affirm Pastor Mark’s case that God is all about wrath. Yet, if we dig a little deeper and do better theology than just counting words, we see that in giving Noah the ark and seeing him and his family through the flood, then starting creation over a new, this isn’t predominantly a story about God’s wrath. It’s a story about God’s love.
Perhaps, most damning of all to Pastor Mark’s case for discerning the dominant message of the Bible through word count is the central narrative of the faith: the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
The word love appears no where in the synoptic accounts (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) of the crucifixion and resurrection and only once in John when John describes himself (which is kind of funny to me) as “the disciple whom he loved”.
Yet, even Pastor Mark agrees (in this same sermon!!) that this most central narrative of the faith is a story of love, a story in which the word “love” is almost entirely absent!!
Simply put, while Pastor Mark is correct in his point that we should not discount the fact that wrath is part of who God is, he and his neo-reformed colleagues are not correct, biblically speaking, by any stretch of the imagination that it is as dominant a theme as they would have you believe.
The primary usage of God’s wrath in the Bible is directed towards idol worship and social injustice. Certainly these are the 2 primary sins we are all guilty of and for that God’s wrath is stirred up. But the overarching narrative of the Bible points us clearly and undeniably to what God has chosen to do with the world that so often stirs up his divine wrath:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Biblical theology isn’t done through word counts, nor is it done by overemphazing verses that seem to support your theological agenda. Not only should Pastor Mark know that, but he himself makes this same argument. Which is what is so confusing and disturbing to me.
We certainly should not ignore God’s wrath. We do so, not only at our own peril, but at the peril of the world. God’s wrath is stirred because we try to take control of our own lives (idol worship) and we ignore the people he called us to serve: the marginalized, the persecuted, and the oppressed. God’s wrath is stirred because He wants the best for the creation He loves, but that’s just it: He loves. God does not hate the world. Jesus himself said so.
Love may not be a manly enough concept for Pastor Mark’s theology, but whether he likes it or not love is the dominant attribute of God. This isn’t something “hippies” have decided themselves, it is the gospel proclaimed by none other than Jesus of Nazareth.
Of course, there is a place for this message that “God hates you.” In fact, their pastor is getting pretty old and I’m sure the church will be in need of a new preacher soon. So, Pastor Mark, if you’re looking for a new church to add to your Mars Hill kingdom, might I suggest Westboro Baptist? (DISCLAIMER: No, I do not think Mark Driscoll is Fred Phelps 2.0, I am simply making the point that what Driscoll says, “God hates you,” in this sermon is too close for comfort to what Phelps also preaches, “God hates you”.)
Grace and peace,
It looks like the Lord is an equal opportunist in His army. He’s got soldiers from every era of war.
I would be worried about the Roman soldiers in God’s army going up against modern day weaponary, but it appears Satan’s army only consists of a demonic version of the Hamburgerlar. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear that the satanic Hamburgerlar has a weapon. Well, except temptation, of course…..the temptation to eat more hamburgers!
Anyway, it’s about time this song got it’s own music video. Yes sir!
By Elizabeth Tenety
Westboro Baptist Church announced plans Wednesday night to protest Steve Jobs’s funeral, sending the message out. . .wait for it. . . via Twitter for iPhone.
Margie Phelps, daughter of the small church’s founder and the lawyer who represented the church during their First Amendment case at the Supreme Court, (which Westboro won) was among the Phelps family members to use Apple products to Tweet about the death of the Apple co-founder.
“Westboro will picket his funeral. He had a huge platform; gave God no glory & taught sin,” Margie tweeted Wednesday night on her iPhone.
I think there’s always a sad irony when we hate, at least as it pertains to the church.
The irony here, of course, is pretty clear. Without this man whose funeral they plan to protest, they would not have been able to spread their gospel of hate.
Irony is present in most of the other things we hate in the church too.
Along the same lines as the Phelps family’s hate of Steve Jobs, many people in the church today hate science. Of course, without the advancements of science they wouldn’t be able to spread their anti-evolution propaganda across the internet, television, or on DVDs.
Other people in the church hate the idea of women in any position of leadership in ministry. This one, in particular, is incredibly ironic considering the fact that it was women, not men, who were the only ones brave enough to venture to the tomb on Easter morning and discover it empty. Without women there is no Christian faith.
This week on PBS they ran a Ken Burns special called Prohibition. At the turn of the 2oth century (and continuing in many places to this day), many people in the church hated alcohol and wanted to criminalize its production. Which, of course, would have made a criminal out of their Lord and Saviour.
There is perhaps no more palpable hate today than that directed towards homosexuals who want to participate in the life with the church. Many of us close our doors trying to keep the “sinful people” out. Yet, every Sunday morning our sanctuaries are filled with liars, cheats, the greedy, the gluttonous, people filled with lust, and the prideful.
Still others revile and condemn anything that enters the church which may have “pagan” origins. They label these things “unclean” and “unholy”, not fit for service to the church. Yet, not only does the church have a long history of redeeming and repurposing pagan holy days, unclean spaces, and unholy music, this act of redemptive is the very heart of the gospel these people claim to hold so dear.
I think if we look open and honestly at the things we hate, we would see that our hate is really very selective.
We hate things that are different than us. We hate things that don’t conform to our culturally defined sense of acceptability. We hate what we’ve been taught to hate without really asking why.
Perhaps most of all we hate because we think it our Christian duty to hate.
Ironically, it is.
But not in the way so many of think.
We should hate injustice. We should hate exploitation. We should hate oppression. We should hate abandonment and persecution.
We should hate the idea that people could starve to death in the 21st century. We should hate the reality that 150 years after this country abolished slavery, child sex slaves still walk the streets in every corner of the world. We should hate the fact that millions of people die every year from easily treatable diseases because they simply don’t have the money to pay for the vaccine. We should cringe with hate that within walking distance of every single one of us are people desperately in need of love, hope, and healing from a world that has turned its back on them.
There are plenty of things to hate. But people, places, and even things that are “lost” don’t need or deserve our hate.
They require hope.
They deserve our support.
They need our love.
That is what redemption looks like. That is what it means to be Christian.
Rest in peace Steve Jobs.
Grace and peace,
It’s amazing what you can learn wasting a morning on youtube. This morning’s new nugget of knowledge is that the Michael Jackson classic “Thriller” is often performed in (or by) churches. Seriously. Go look- there are dozens and dozens of them! Who knew?!
Here’s an example of “Thriller” being used as a promotional tool for a youth event. Pretty decent quality on this one
Another interesting phenomenon I noticed is the use of “Thriller” in conjunction with Christmas services. Didn’t expect those. Sometimes a “Thriller Christmas” can be high budget…
And some “Thriller Christmas” services are a bit more simplistic… but fairly hilarious (part 1 here)
Some are used to promote Small Groups programs…
And some seem to just be for the heck of it…
We can’t explain why this particular song is used so frequently by churches, but I would like to publicly announce our support for it. Keep it up, church dance troupes!
I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: I am not a fan of so-called “hell houses” or “Christian haunted houses.”
I’m not interested in scaring people into heaven, if that’s even possible.
So when the guy in this video says “Most people think we’re crazy for putting on The Nightmare…..Then again most people don’t think they can change the world,” I’ve got to take issue with what he’s implying.
He is right that people are capable of world changing action even if they don’t realize it. However, “scaring the hell out of people” doesn’t change the world.
Forcing people to watch graphic scenes of rape, murder, drunk driving deaths, and gang violence isn’t evangelism. It’s pornography.
Obviously, it’s not the sexual stuff we usually associate with porn, but as Merriam-Webster’s defines it, pornography is “the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction.”
Jesus calls his follower t0 “go and make disciples”, not pander to their baser instincts in order to a) scare them into an emotionally charged, unreflected decision and then b) get them coming back for more.
What this church, and countless other churches, evoke is really no different than the reaction somebody gets from watching “regular porn.” It’s exciting, it’s stimulating, it gets your emotions revved up…..and then its over.
Just like “regular porn” this sort of thing gets people addicted, but once the high runs out and the things that once got them stimulated finally go stale, then Jesus gets boring, the faith becomes irrelevant, and people move on to the next high.
Hell houses don’t change the world.
Neither do scare tactics.
If you really want to change the world, and you should because there are plenty of people in desperate need of help, then befriend the widow who lives next door who’s too frail to mow her lawn or drive to a doctor’s appointment. Reach out to your co-worker that’s going through crisis and doesn’t know where to turn. Donate your money to one of the countless charities trying to end the famines which claim tens of thousands of children every month. Donate your time to your local soup kitchen or food pantry, they always need volunteers. Next time don’t ignore the beggar on the street, but instead find a way to offer them hope and healing. Or simply learn to love and care for your neighbor, even your enemy, as if the fate of the world depended on it…..because it does.
Loving people changes the world. Hell houses don’t.
The church doesn’t need evangelism porn to win people to Jesus. It needs people bold enough to embody love, grace, forgiveness, and hope to a world that would rather have porn.
Grace and peace,
No idea who this guy is, but he’s pretty amusing. Definitely not afraid to scream.
Especially when he talks about “God’s army.”
Doth quote the preacher, “There are no sissys in God’s army!!!”
Well, glad he cleared that one up for us.
I wonder if this guy was Mark Driscoll’s mentor?