Category Archives: News

Can beauty transcend banality?

What would happen if one of the world’s greatest violinists, whose playing has been said to do “nothing less than tell human beings why they bother to live”, playing a 1713 Stradivari violin worth about $3.5 million, stood in the middle of a metro station in D.C. and played for 43 minutes while 1,097 people passed by?

He would be ignored.

Click here to read more about this performance by Joshua Bell, “arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities — as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?”

Your help is needed…

The American Family Association, Bill O’Reilly, and the Moral Majority [sic] need your help once again this year. If you believe that the name of Christ should be reduced to nothing more than a marketing gimmick and if you think that Christ would approve of and endorse today’s self-indulgent consumerism, you need to take action! Follow this link or this link today and let everyone know the real Reason for the Season.

Technology of the Beast

Lore Sjöberg from wired.com just posted an article on the “Technology of the Beast”.

Did anyone else grow up hearing this stuff?

“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” — Revelation 13:16-17

One of the fun things about watching technology march by like a parade — one where all the bands get smaller and rounder as time goes on — is seeing new interpretations of the Bible based on the latest advances. Early last century, the Mark of the Beast was your Social Security card, which presumably was encoded into the Computer Punch Card of the Beast and fed into Satan’s Mainframe.

After that, the Mark of the Beast was your credit card, and in the ’70s the UPC symbol was the new Mark, presumably because of the passage in Revelations stating, “And the mark was placed upon the Wonder Bread, both white and the kind they call wheat, even though it’s basically a slightly more tan version of the white stuff.”

Now, of course, the Mark of the Beast is RFID chips. It’s not enough that they might get your purchases tracked or your identity stolen, they might also get you booked into the Hotel Inferno for all eternity. Thanks, Wal-Mart! Totally worth it for discount cotton balls!

This reminds me of when I worked for TBN, hearing Paul Crouch trying to say that the beginning of Zechariah 5 is referring to TBN’s satellites.

Anyway, Sjöberg goes on to demonstrate how you can tie different verses to specific technology, like MySpace, Blogs, and YouTube. Read the rest here.

“Rapture Ready” or “How to Misinterpret Scripture”

In light of current events in the Middle East, statements currently being made by various Christian leaders such as this one by Jerry Falwell:

Quite likely, the most important date of the past 20 centuries, since the resurrection of Christ, is May 14, 1948, when Israel officially became a nation again.

It is apparent, in light of the rebirth of the State of Israel, that the present day events in the Holy Land may very well serve as a prelude or forerunner to the future Battle of Armageddon and the glorious return of Jesus Christ.

And comments being posted on message boards like these saying things such as:

This is the busiest I’ve ever seen this website in a few years! I have been having rapture dreams and I can’t believe that this is really it! We are on the edge of eternity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
* * *
Whoa! I can sure feel the glory bumps after reading this thread!
* * *
I too am soooo excited!! I get goose bumps, literally, when I watch what’s going on in the M.E.!! And Watcherboy, you were so right when saying it was quite a day yesterday, in the world news, and I add in local news here in the Boston area!! Tunnel ceiling collapsed on a car and killed a woman of faith, and we had the most terrifying storms I have ever seen here!! But, yes, oh happy day, like in your screen name , it is most indeed a time to be happy and excited, right there with ya!!

I thought it wouldn’t hurt to point out this Open Letter from Knox Theological Seminary:

An Open Letter to Evangelicals and Other Interested Parties:
The People of God, the Land of Israel, and the Impartiality of the Gospel

Recently a number of leaders in the Protestant community of the United States have urged the endorsement of far-reaching and unilateral political commitments to the people and land of Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, citing Holy Scripture as the basis for those commitments. To strengthen their endorsement, several of these leaders have also insisted that they speak on behalf of the seventy million people who constitute the American evangelical community.

It is good and necessary for evangelical leaders to speak out on the great moral issues of our day in obedience to Christ’s call for his disciples to be salt and light in the world. It is quite another thing, however, when leaders call for commitments that are based upon a serious misreading of Holy Scripture. In such instances, it is good and necessary for other evangelical leaders to speak out as well. We do so here in the hope that we may contribute to the cause of the Lord Christ, apart from whom there can never be true and lasting peace in the world.

Read the rest here.

I am now a Secular Humanist

Or at least, according to Tim Lahaye, there is no difference between me and a secular humanist. In an interview last week with Newsweek, Lahaye, co-author of the best-selling fiction series Left Behind (and I stress the word fiction), declared that those who don’t interpret prophecy as he does are “usually liberal theologians that don’t believe the Bible literally.” A couple paragraphs later he says “Part of the opposition to our position is from the secular humanists, but part of it is from the liberal people of theology that reject the Bible. I don’t see a great deal of difference between them. Their basic conclusions are often the same.”

See, I didn’t realize that the definition of a “liberal theologian” was “someone who disagrees with Lahaye’s brand of Eschatology”. Tim Lahaye has decided to draw a line in the sand at which you either agree with him on his interpretation of prophetic literature or you don’t believe the Bible at all, which is a drastic mischaracterization of the current evangelical landscape.

During the interview, Lahaye also said “We believe that the Bible should be understood literally whenever possible.” I agree with that. The problem is, for Lahaye to arrive at the position he holds, he has had to interpret the Bible literally where it doesn’t interpret itself literally.

Characterizing those who hold to different views of eschatology than his own as “liberal theologians that don’t believe the Bible literally” is naive at best. What’s worse is that there are millions of people (the Left Behind series has sold over 70 million copies) who believe Lahaye and don’t realize his interpretation has only been around for about 150 years.

Christianity Today has a write-up on the Newsweek interview here that’s worth a read.

News Flash: The Gospel is Safe!

According to a recent poll by 15,000 people, the Gospel is now safe. Forget what Christ said about stumbling blocks and offenses. Forget what Bonhoeffer wrote about a Gospel that calls men to come and die and his writings decrying cheap grace. Forget about bloody substitutionary atonement and disrupting calls to follow. What we want today is a gospel that is safe for everyone.

The MPAA recently gave a PG rating to an upcoming movie produced by an Atlanta-area church, “Facing the Giants”. The distributors of the film claim the MPAA told them it was for “religious content”, which the MPAA denies, saying it received that rating partly due to the discussions of infertility and depression.

The misnomered Religious Right has been crying foul and claiming persecution, making 15,000 phone calls to the MPAA demanding a rating change, and uttering statements like “This incident raises the disquieting possibility that the MPAA considers exposure to Christian themes more dangerous for children than exposure to gratuitous sex and violence.” (House Majority Whip Roy Blunt). One has to wonder if he is really that ignorant, or if he realizes it’s an election year and thinks his constituents are all stupid. Quick, someone name the last movie that featured “gratuitous sex and violence” that was rated PG.

Another ironic fact is that, of all the Billy Graham films that have received ratings from the MPAA, only two were rated G. The rest were PG or PG-13. Does anybody remember them protesting? Remember, there is no practical difference between G, PG, and PG-13 ratings in that children can buy tickets for all three without parental permission. So what does a PG rating mean? It means exactly what it says, that Parental Guidance is recommend.

IF this film were rated PG for “religious content”, I would completely agree. I wonder what kind of gospel this film presents. One that “calls a man to come and die”, to live a new and transformed life? Or one that helps you win football games? If it’s the latter, then yes, I agree, it should have been rated G.

The Supremacy of Traditions (and you thought I was going to say Christ)

The Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting the beginning of this week in North Carolina, with a couple of things worth mentioning coming out of it. Probably the best thing that happened is the election of Frank Page as the new President. The biggest reason that is good is that he was not endorsed by any of the ‘big wigs’ in the convention, and the success of his campaign can be partly attributed to blogs, meaning that people knew what was really happening. Hopefully we will start to see some changes in the direction of the convention, although it remains to be seen if he will actually do anything different.

Among the other things that were occured, besides cheering that the damned are damned and for the spread of war, this important motion was proposed:
— that the SBC “refrain from using the word ‘gay’ when referring to homosexuals in sermons, publications and in the media” and that Baptist pastors and those in other denominations be asked to do the same, submitted by William I. Gay Jr. of Winterville (N.C.) Baptist Church. (Anybody catch the submitter’s last name?)

And just in case anyone mistakenly thought the SBC might be turning back to Biblical truths instead of their traditions, they reaffirmed their belief in the ultimate authority of church regulations over biblical truths and their belief that man does not have a free will by passing another resolution on alcohol. I could go on and on about this, but the first thing to point out is the need for the drafter of this proposal to go back to school. They apparently failed grammar and don’t know the difference between the words ‘use’ and ‘abuse’.

To read the proposal, along with a commentary by Steve McCoy, go here, and then click here to read Wade Burleson’s well written take on this subject.

Here is my question: How is it possible for a group of individuals to read this passage of scripture:

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day– things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.

If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)–in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?
These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
Colossians 3:8-10, 16-23

and then write this in their church constitution:

Every pastoral staff and official board member of this church must not misuse drugs or use intoxicating liquor or tobacco in any form or belong to a secret society or bring disrespect upon his or her office through worldly practice and associations.

Article VIII – Ordination, Page 13:
The following persons shall not be considered [for ordination]:
(2) One who partakes in the use of intoxicating liquor, illegal drugs, or tobacco in any form, or who belongs to a secret society, or one who brings disrepute upon his ministry through worldly practices and associations.

Where are the Christians?

The House voted Tuesday to further choke off the flow of U.S. aid to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority, drawing the displeasure of the Bush administration and dividing the pro-Israel lobbying community.

The measure, approved 361-37, would cut off aid to non-governmental groups working in the West Bank and Gaza except for health programs and would deny visas to members of the Palestinian Authority. It also would ban contacts with Hamas because of its classification as a terrorist organization and limit the president’s authority to waive the aid bans.

The White House, which has already cut off funds for the Hamas-led government until it recognizes Israel’s right to exist and renounces acts of terrorism, criticized the bill as unneeded and overreaching in its restrictions.

“The issue is not Hamas,” said Rep. David Price, D-North Carolina, a critic of the bill. “The issue is rather the bill’s ban on aid to all non-governmental groups, private groups and organizations, many of whom are diametrically opposed to Hamas’s philosophy.”

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/05/23/news/hamas.php

I can’t believe this bill was even considered, much less passed by such a resounding majority in the house. To cut off all money to private groups trying to make a difference is completely illogical. It is impossible for me to follow their reasoning. They disagree with Hamas, ignore the fact that they were put into power primarily because of their humanitarian work, and decide the best way to provoke change is to try and make their lives worse.

Where are the christian groups protesting this bill? Oh, I know. They are busy claiming that “they” are going to make Mother’s and Father’s day cards disappear (Richard Land).

More Enlightenment from Robertson

Pat Robertson continues to dazzle all of us with his logic and foresight.

“If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms,” Robertson said May 8th on his 700 Club. Yesterday, he added, “there well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest.”

Robertson said the revelations about this year’s weather came to him during his annual personal prayer retreat in January.

Agreeing with Falwell

I agreed with Jerry Falwell recently. I think this is the first time that has happened.

Let’s see… It wasn’t about this:

“AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh’s charioteers.”

Nor this:

I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.” (speaking of 9/11)

Oh, here it is:

Alan Wisdom, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, stated this week, “Churches should be reluctant to attach the name of the Gospel of Christ to contemporary political agendas that lack a clear scriptural mandate and consensus among the faithful.”

I think those are very wise words.

He made that last statement in his e-mail newsletter on 2/10/06 after a group of Evangelicals issued a statement (concerning global warming) he didn’t like.

It sounds like great advice to me, Jerry. You should try following it sometime.