Thursday, November 30, 2006


Articulation is such a challenge. I consider it one of my greatest weaknesses. I’m not exactly superhuman in other areas either, but in some sense, ineffability has become my Kryptonite. (Maybe that’s why I’m so hard on those who pursue ineffability.)

I can already see the irony in what I’ve just said here, because, my pursuit to improve my ability to articulate my thoughts and feelings about my life and the world I live in, is, in fact, a form of pursuing ineffability. Let me attempt to clarify: I’m not saying any pursuit of ineffability is dangerous. What I am saying, is - destroying or barring forever any knowledge, and the language that carries it, is dangerous. If we pursue ineffability by reaching the limits of knowledge and language after using all knowledge and language available to us, then ineffability can be accepted as a part of our current identity. Arriving at this point, for me, is the pinnacle of poetry.
[via daydreamer]

Why On Earth Would I Want to Picket a Church? More on the Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill Seattle Action
[via Shari MacDonald Strong, HT: oxymoronredundancyparadoxtrap]

The Unforseeable Desire

2,000 years after a resurrection we never witnessed, facing a future that seems more or less insoluble. We’re not deluded into believing we can return to the idealized modernism of the ’50s. And still we’re not yet willing to throw in the towel and succumb to nihilistic despair. We still hope beyond hope. We groan. We struggle. And we cry out—not defiantly into the void and not to some man-diluted, manufactured god who can’t satisfy. We cry out to the God we hope is actually here.
-- From 2,305 Words On "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Curt Cloninger in the Nov 2006 issue of Paste.

[via Ideajoy]

Monday, November 27, 2006

Flawed Post, Flawed Testimony

So, here is how I think that Mark should have worded his advice TO men about their marital relationship. I won't pretend to be a martyr and take one for the team on this one.

"Men, how is your relationship with your wife? Are you attentive to her or have you neglected her and put her last on your list of people who need you? Are you giving her the better part of yourself? Does she feel lonely and neglected? Is she starting to exhibit addictive behaviors like over eating, smoking, drinking, watching too much TV or the like? Has she tried to talk to you and you rebuffed her with an accusation of being a "nag" or "too demanding"? How is your sex life? If it is suffering, look in the mirror. You, as the man, must take responsibility in this. A woman doesn't have a problem with wanting to have sex when she feels loved, cared for, appreciated and made a priority. Is sex enjoyable for your wife? Does she get pleasure from it or does she do it out of duty? Maybe your technique is lacking? She may enjoy sex more if you would commit to being the kind of lover that Solomon was in the Song of Songs. Are you a "wham, bam, thank-you maam" type of lover? Or are you gentle, considerate, wanting to please? Do you approach sex with the attitude of thinking that it is something that you deserve and it is something for your pleasure? Or do you have the attitude that sex is all about pleasing your wife? 1 Corinthians 7 tells us that intimacy is important in our marriages. Too many women are being neglected and then expected to perform like women we see in the movies or women we have seen in porn. Men, you cannot allow your ideas about sex to be defined by this culture and this world. We cannot afford to be selfish in our approach to sex and we cannot afford to neglect our wives. After all, if we cultivate our gardens, will they not bear delicious fruit?

Men, marriage reflects Christ and His love for the Church. Christ is not selfish and He is not a clod. He is a thoughtful, sensitive, doting lover of our soul. Shouldn't we strive to reflect His love to the lost and dying world? I believe that men are the ones who initiate and women are responders. We see this in the Church and how God set up these gender distinctions to show the world something of Himself. Christ initiates and we respond. Right?

If your woman is not responding to you, then you need to take a good look in the mirror. You are the one responsible for your marriage as the head of your home. If your wife is being sinful and neglecting you in spite of you being a good husband, then go find help. Your marriage depends upon it. "

This is how pastoral advice to men should look like. This is how it should sound....

Part of being a mature male is taking responsibility. It isn't feminism that is the problem in our churches. It is the lack of accountable and responsible men. I will take one for the team on that statement.
[via The Pineapple Pundit, emphasis mine]

We are free to choose life. We do not value life, as some pro-lifers say, because of innocence.
[via Levellers, HT: Jesus Politics]

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Vanishing Concerns

If this really happened, we would give it a name. The instantaneous disintegration of every child and of hundreds of millions of adults, everywhere, at once. The lethal aftermath.

And the psychological aftermath. The panic and fear and realization that everything had changed. Every parent on earth simultaneously experiencing every parent's worst nightmare. "I only turned my back for a second and she was gone." "He's not in his bed, where is he?" In an instant, the world is transformed from the home of 6 billion people to the home of only 4 billion, most of whom would be suffering from some form of traumatic stress.

"Things don't just disappear," my mother used to say. But in this story, they do. People do. And in addition to the shock, grief, loss and horror, this is something else everyone would have to cope with. They could no longer take for granted something they didn't even realize they had been taking for granted. The possibility now has to be considered that you might at any second vanish without trace or explanation. A third of us gone, the remaining two-thirds would all feel the carpet had been yanked from beneath our feet.

So if this really happened, we would need to give it a name.{read the full post}
[via slacktivist]

Protective Coverings

Today many of the people that walk in supernatural power keep it captive in small enclaves of Christians.
[via The Heresy]

Friday, November 24, 2006

Can't We All Be Nice?

People are no so easily categorized into “nice” and “jerk.” The guys who you think are “nice” sometimes turn out to be jerks and the jerks could actually be good guys. As humans, we are more complicated than that. We all have our moments. And the people who are stuck at the ends of the spectrum, those men who truly are 100 percent “nice” or 100 percent “jerk” are actually really boring and impossible to talk to. Because the interesting stuff about humans isn’t found in the extremes. It’s found in the middle, where us normal people live, balancing our good intentions and kind natures against our darker side that is more likely to misbehave and call people names, gossip, sleep around, act cocky and generally not always be polite.

In short, sometimes the flaws are what attract us to people. Sometimes the flaws are what make people not boring.
[via Charming, but single]

Thanks fluctuating certainty for the link! See them all here.

"I don't wear my faith on my sleeve."

"Maybe I have a loose 'Fire'-wire!"

[via fluctuating certainty]

Our walls of division do not rise all the way to heaven.
Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

And I wonder, which of the two let themselves go?
[via Emerging Grace]

Daring to pray for Gayle and Ted Haggard
[via Get Religion]

Do Men "Get" Driscoll?

While IM'ing with a male friend today, I got fairly animated while we were talking about Pastor Mark Driscoll. He gave the common male refrain that we should just ignore him, that there were more important causes, and that some were "hurt". Somehow one thing was obviously missing: a statement that said "it's tragic that women were negatively effected by this". If we Christian men can't even seem to say that, then we have failed our sisters in Christ. Period. Full Stop. What does this say to the broader world?

So why do we waver, guys? What's our problem here? Are we that dense? Do we think it won't make an impact? (I explore this some here.)

Discuss here or elsewhere.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Driscoll Thanks Critics For Getting No Respect

In the aftermath of Pastor Mark Driscoll's post about pastors and sexual temptation, he recently posted some clarifications that thanks his critics while avoiding any reponsibility for any damage he may have caused. He particularly appreciated how they helped him reconsider how to restate things. There was nothing in his statement that indicated that Driscoll would restate things again in the future, but many supporters hope so.

Although many bloggers were critical and suspicious of his response, many men commended Pastor Mark for his ability for damage control. One commenter expressed a typical response:

Thank you again Mark, for your humility and grace. As a man myself, I just want to thank you for being able to write better clarifications after bringing more attention to yourself than to Christ. I also appreciate the way that you obscured the problem women had with the post by not acknowledging them explicitly. After all, we men should lead by example. Thanks!
Others also thanked Mark for how he inspired them to disagree with others without worrying about the effects, particularly toward women. Some even wondered how they could proclaim Jesus and have a successful church like Pastor Driscoll without worrying about the harm it could have. However, women were particularly puzzled and ungrateful about how the pastor of Mars Hill Church could respond so nonchalantly about their concerns.

Complementarian women, though, were more encouraged by the Seattle pastor's response. One in particular remarked, "It just shows Pastor Mark's consistency in being the engaging, humble guy we all know and love. Who cares if he was mediocore and alienating? He's a complementarian!" Another, named Daisy, figured the controversy was exaggerated. "I don't understand what all the fuss was about anyways," she said. "Those disagreeable women just need to be more submissive and understanding, or they can simply ignore him. How hard is that?"

Even with a protest on the way, Pastor Mark Driscoll still seemed quite satisfied with his update on his blog. He mentioned that it will help him continue to write sloppily because it gets him a reaction. "After all," he noted, "if I had to improve my writing and avoid conflict with women, I couldn't respond this way, could I?" Driscoll commends men for being so favorable to his clarification, and hopes that they can avoid tempting situations that sabotage their ministry. When asked how he will respond to the demonstration coming soon, Driscoll replied that he would welcome them while not changing anything substantial.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Unnecessary Adversaries

Arguments in which both sides launch aggressive offenses and structure fortress-like defenses can be unnecessarily adversarial. I am not suggesting that such arguments have no place, but let’s acknowledge that their value is vastly over-rated

Stories cover the same territory, but they are testimonialsand it is hard to argue with someone’s testimony {read more}
[via Jesus Creed]

The Best We Can Do?

Mark spoke. His adversaries reacted. Mark clarified. There are now many on both sides hoping that his recent letter will put an end to it all. Is it time to sweep this whole fiasco under the rug? Many say “yes”, appealing to the idea that Christians should not be fighting among themselves; their concern seems to be with the message we are sending to those outside the Church. The idea that a protest would be launched by fellow believers or that Mark Driscoll would be publicly berated has been deemed unseemly....

The question therefore, is what is the import of this issue. Those who contend that unity should pre-empt theological difference in this arena, should also insist that Mark exercise restraint from here on out. Mark may believe with all his being that the ordination and leadership of women are heretical, but if we agree that this debate is less important than our Christian unity than it must be less important for him as well! That would mean no more derogatory remarks about women or the “effeminate” church....

Is our theology an offense of the gospel or is it an offense to the gospel?

If Mark is wrong on this issue than he is placing an unnecessary hurdle between Jesus and those who might otherwise be drawn to him. That is a very serious matter and it is one reason why it is difficult for Mark’s dissenters to let this one go. If we are aware that this issue may deafen some to the gospel, if we know that it hinders the expression of other’s gifts by telling them God has subjugated and limited them in role, then we damn well better be sure of our theology.

I too long for this controversy to be over. I have no desire to keep throwing darts at Mark, but neither do I wish for Christian women and men to continue to be divided in ways Jesus never intended. Mark needs and deserves our forgiveness, our love and our respect. So do the women in our midst.

If this debate is silenced will they receive it?
[via Blog- People Against Fundamentalism]

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bunnies Nibble at Driscoll, Find Him Fluffy
"He may be good, but he's not safe," hares claim.

Today rabbits everywhere became hopping mad because of a recent blog post by Seattle Pastor Mark Driscoll. In it, the minister of Mars Hill Church had suggested that bunnies may possibly substitute for humans as Episcopalian Bishops to remedy traditional exclusion. Males needed to "man up", Driscoll said, so this would not happen in the future.

The hares were split on the meaning of the bizarre reference, but most did not think it was meant to be cute. "We may be cuddly and soft," said a particularly incensed rabbit of Caerbannog, "But we won't take this insult lightly. I just want to bite him, and not just a flesh wound either!" Many acknowledged that the post was not directly meant for bunnies, yet felt it was not necessary. "He could've left us alone," mentioned Rabbit of Winnie-the-Pooh fame. "He is such a typical omnivore."

While some also considered Driscoll's comments as a slander against rabbit virility, others took them as an attack on women and homosexuals. Jessica Rabbit and Bugs Bunny particularly thought so, and worried that it could spread contempt beyond Mars Hill. "As a woman, I wouldn't even be considered for such a high-ranking position as a human," she remarked. "He's just acting like he's a playboy, and he isn't even a bunny." Bugs Bunny, on the other hand, wondered whether his cross-dressing in some of his animated films negatively influenced the Seattle Pastor. "Elmer and Daffy are just dumb sometimes," Bugs noted, "but this guy, I don't know what to think."

Whatever the case, the hares want Driscoll to stop putting his foot in his mouth instead of using it as a charm. Protests and other actions will be planned soon, and they hope that it will bring attention to the Seattle Pastor's unhelpful words. (Brian McLaren is apparently not involved as some people had rumored, they state, so this is not a matter of jealousy from his supporters.)

Mark Driscoll, when asked about all this, claimed that this was just a misunderstanding. He welcomed the protesters, and hinted that perhaps having them over for dinner would be an option. "I really need to get a taste of my critics," Driscoll replied. He also stated that a clarifying blog post was in the works, and will involve no mention of the offended bunnies.

Beyond Service

The caution I must exercise is not to direct my anger, my hurt, my frustration toward a person. Mark Driscoll drives me crazy. I have never identified with his style of communication. I have described him as arrogant, one who loves to hear himself speak and thumping a potentially damaging message about women and their place in the kingdom.

It was not surprising, in fact, it was predictable to read his answer to the Ted Haggard disaster. Mark Driscoll makes several glaring remarks about women. Yes, I know he wasn’t blaming Gayle Haggard for her husband’s sin, but it certainly seemed like he was suggesting that women share in the blame of their husbands’ wandering minds, hearts and bodies if they don’t keep themselves beautiful and available to them. In taking a hit for the home team, he perpetuates the home-boy attitude that reduces women to mere objects for sexual pleasure....

So, now what? Is Mark Driscoll my enemy? If I label him as a misogynist, maybe he is? Then what am I to do about that?

Let him bring out the best in me, not the worst in me! and I am an intercessor, a prayer warrior. So, I must pray, wash Mark Driscoll’s feet with prayers to the Lord.
[via Graceful Journey]

Filters Out, Comes Off Nicely

Here is my over-simplification of his re-statement...

I meant what I said... but if it looks like I am apologizing without apologizing, then all those who are not "Bible-believing, Jesus-loving" (aka "my critics") will get off my case. So, I am going to "clarify", or restate in a nice way, and hope that it comes off as an apology.

One of the things that MD talks about in the original post is the great protection he has surrounded himself with. You know, the pastor needs a pastor, his heterosexual male assistants, everyone having access to his email, and all...My question then is: Is there no one filtering what comes out?? Are the filters only on the stuff going in? Because, it seems that the stuff that is coming out is a potentially damaging as the stuff going in.
[via Revivified Hermitess, emphasis mine]

Friday, November 17, 2006

From What should we do about Mark Driscoll--a cussing, hot-tempered, chauvinistic pastor?:

I would like to offer three observations about the Church’s expectations of its leaders and their wrongdoings.

First, we expect pastors to acknowledge their own sinfulness, but we’re somewhat picky in how they do so. We prefer that they refer to sin only at a general, theological level. E.g., “All have sinned, and so have I.” Openness about specific sins should never happen, or, if it does, only in the context of recounting long ago deliverance.

Second, under no circumstances should we directly observe or learn of sins. Pastors can mention having a problem with anger, but we must never see them lose their temper. They can refer to foul language, but we must never hear them curse. They can lament struggling with their flesh, but we must not know that they looked at porn. They can want to love more, but we must never witness them disrespecting someone.

Third, the more accomplished the pastor, the more rigorously these first two principles are applied. A pastor of a small, stagnant church can say and think all sorts of things, and most Christians, aside from the few who sit in the church’s pews, would not care. If, however, the pastor has done a lot of good—saving the lost, raising disciples, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor—we insist on them displaying little if any wrong. (As a side note, this reverses the concept of social capital—which holds that the more “good” one has done the more “bad” one is allowed to get away with.)

These observations fit with Mark Driscoll.
[via Bradley Wright's Web Log]

I want to be a bearer of the gospel.
It doesn’t matter if I bear children.
I want to fulfill my vows to God,
And not have my calling dependent on a man.

{the full poem by Shawna R.B. Atteberry}

Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils.
G.K. Chesterton

It Could Be Worse, Right?

Sure, Mark Driscoll is a hard complementarian, but at least he isn't this[Warning: *may strongly offend*], true?

A generous apostasy?
[via IdeaJoy]

Emerging Context, Essentially Divisive

This sort of division within the church isn’t new…but it is unique. While folks have debated the role of women in ministry before, this is version of that old debate is taking place in an emerging context. It is interesting that most of those who have posted comments are talking about Driscoll versus McLaren…not the CBE versus Grudem/Piper.

I used to be a complementarian. Now I am basically egalitarian–though I have problems with the term. Once, I would have said that the role of women in the church and within marriage was an essential issue (like Driscoll and others would argue). I saw it as a sort of gateway doctrine, that if eroded would lead to much more heinous doctrinal errors. For a while I tried to put it in the “unimportant” pile. Now, after years of struggle, I see it again as an essential issue–an issue of justice that cannot be ignored.

At one point I would have had hope that a discussion like the one you’re suggesting could happen and be fruitful. Now, I am of the opinion that the sort of Christianity Driscoll holds to is often fundamentally different than the sort that I hold to. And while I don’t think protesting is a worthwhile option, I have profound doubts that interested parties would be able to sit down with one another for a meaningful discussion. Both sides of the debate see it as an essential issue–but for completely different reasons. Both sides of the debate see the folks on the other side as “the enemy.”

Perhaps the passages of Scripture everyone involved should investigate aren’t the ones that talk about the role of women, nor the ones that say we should have unity–instead we should all read the Sermon on the Mount, particularly where it says we ought to love our enemy.
[by Mark Van S in this post, emphasis mine]

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hard Complementarian, Fighting Words

His teaching may disempower women. It may hurt emotionally. It may lead to gifts given by God to the Body of Christ not being used to their full extent. It may even lead to some women making choices in life to forgo education and live a life that is more hemmed in and constrained than necessary...
But none of these things, bad as they are, are abuse, oppression or misogeny. Tragic, yes. Misogeny, no.

That having been said, Mark Driscoll is a male chauvinist. He frequently uses "feminine" as a derogatory. His version of manhood is becoming more of a ridiculous charicature every day. I have sat in the room with him and been told "If your wife is working, you are a selfish bastard. How dare you make her shoulder her half of the curse and part of yours as well." In addition to being erroneous theology (it really, really is), this kind of talk has some far reaching consequences, and communicates a lot of things that have the potential to really screw people up (guys- it's all on you! Perform! Women, hold back... don't shine too brightly!)

Mark is not a complementarian. He's a Hard Complementarian, who borders on a heirarchicalist. He gives lip service (I know he would say it's more- but actions and outcomes speak louder than words) to equal value of men and women, but effectively negates this as he teaches a view of headship that has some women promising to "obey" in their wedding vows, and seeking the "covering" of a fill-in dad when theirs is unavaliable and they would like to date.

Mark needs to smarten up and his elders need to kick his arse hard enough to help him smarten up. He needs to re-assess some of his views and soften how he presents others.

The elders of Mars Hill (IMHO) need to see at this point that Mark's blog, Mark's comments and rants, is/are a net-negative to their church community, and they need to shut it down for the time being. The best known church in the Acts 29 network, other than Mars Hill, has left the organization, in part in an effort to distance themselves from the blowback from Mark's comments. There are still personal friendships there, to be sure. But when people have to start organizationally moving away from each other- that's a sign to me that something is amiss. And it wouldn't surprise me if other A29 churches weren't moving in the same direction.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again- Mark is at a crossroads. What I'm seeing now is that a lot of people, his entire church community, and the leadership in particular, are there with him.

As his apparent pride grows, so does the danger- the danger of his words hurting, the danger of other emulating him, and the danger when/and if someone that big, and that prideful, takes a fall.
[via, HT: TallSkinnyKiwi]

And from the comments:
The problem attitudes regarding women extend to the elder board of the church, AND, in my opinion, the purveyors of various complementarian materials, such as the CBMW.
Mark Driscoll and Leif Moi do not produce new ideas. They rehash, without any tact or restraint, ideas that are coming out the complementarian movement, stating bluntly the things that are carefully veiled by more experienced speakers and writers....

I think Mark Driscoll is a very intense, serious and sincere Christian. However, he has a huge weakness in terms of his Wayne-Grudem-meets-drunken-frat-boy attitude towards women. It is his Achilles heel, and it will be his downfall if he cannot get it under control.

If the protests about his recent indiscretions provoke him to either rethink his attitude or restrain his expression of it, or both, then it will be the best thing that ever happened to him, and Mars Hill.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Disapointing Driscoll and the Pornographic Imagination
[via The Philosophical Pastor]

The mind is a better actor than the heart.
[via daydreamer]

Evangelical Denial

The sins of the institution nurture the sin of the individual.{read the full post}
[via The Paris Project]

Friday, November 10, 2006

Mark, Mark, Mark...

Mark Driscoll and women
[via Conversation at the Edge]

A Wittenburg Christmas

With A Wittenburg Christmas: Shakespeare's Lost Pageant, Donnie Wildmon Finds Evil in TV Commercials, The Gospel of Caiaphas, Spiritual To-Do Lists, Satan's MySpace Page, and so much more.

Also features interviews of Will Campbell and Cathleen Falsani, as well as "interviews" of The Veggies of Veggie Tales, Warren Jeffs and Rev. Raymond L. Chrissler. The Last Word is about mocking lips.

Casual Fellowship vs. Visceral Fellowship
[via Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit]

Monday, November 06, 2006

One Bad Day From...

haggard was undoubtedly trying to cover his ass and made some obvious blunders, blatant lies and stupid moves. his bad timing is nothing short of legendary. he is a part of a system that has chosen to make a big deal about status, and has become a victim of his own culture. for some reason he felt pressured by a system that cannot accept its own humanity and pretends that it's hired guns are above reproach. i feel bad the the guy, for his family, and his people. i know a little about what it means to feel unjustly or justly accused. i know the fear of going out in public because the very people who once told you they loved you have made it their personal mission to hold a crucifixion. i cannot imagine the pain of seeing your mug on cnn and looking forward to a life selling cars branded as a pervert.

we forget we are all one bad rumor from ruin. one bad day from humiliation.
[via Scott Williams]

Respectability vs. Responsibility

Sometimes people act respectable as though it substitutes for responsibility.

The Ted Haggard scandal is a case in point. Both Haggard and Jones exemplify stereotypical versions of respectablity and homosexuality. Haggard became irresponsible by hiding his desires and looking functional; Jones became irresponsible by simplifying his identity and pursuing pleasure. Consider the following:

1. When gay indentity can be associated with overindulgence and risky behavior (in Jones's case), it dilutes any impact.

2. When homosexual behavior can be just covered by religiosity and deception (in Haggard's case), it doesn't fix anything.

Perhaps we should expect more responsibility from all involved.

Not Well-Served

Imagine the conversation in the back of Ted's head everytime he addressed homosexuality. There is nothing to suggest that he is some kind of Elmer Gantry, so we have to believe he is a true believer. He had to have been completely devastated everytime he visited that man. I can only imagine the prayers to take away that temptation.

I really feel for the man when I think of how tortured he must feel. And, as others have written, I can only imagine the horror of being taken down this way; gone from national evangelical figure to pariah over a weekend; the impact on his wife and kids....

It seems to me that the Christian right could learn from the Haggard experience. Here is a man devoted to his church, to his God, to his ministry. A man, by all accounts, who tried to love his wife and certainly his kids. If any person on the planet could have prayed this away, don't you think it would have been him? Don't you think he would have given anything to not be gay?

I don't think our sexuality works that way, and I don't think the conservative church is well served by this.
[via Streak's Blog]

Afraid to Confess

But, what I find here is what I want to call the evangelical environment. In evangelicalism, and the charismatic stream in which Ted Haggard swims, sin is bad and sin by leaders is real bad. This leads to a complex of features that creates a serious problem:

1. Christians, and not just pastors, do not feel free to disclose sins to anyone;
2. Christians, including pastors, sin and sin all the time;
3. Christians, including pastors, in evangelicalism do not have a mechanism of confession;
4. Christians and pastors, because of the environment of condemnation of sin and the absence of a mechanism of confession, bottle up their sins, hide their sins, and create around themselves an apparent purity and a reality of unconfessed/unadmitted sin.
5. When Christians do confess, and it is often only after getting caught, they are eaten alive by fellow evangelicals — thus leading some to deeper levels of secrecy and deceit....

evangelicals need to work hard at creating an environment of honesty. It is dishonest to the human condition to pretend that Christians don’t sin; but as long as we are afraid to confess to one another we will continue to create an unrealistic and hypocritical environment.
[via Jesus Creed, HT: The Eagle and Child]

No one should be made to feel...ALONE!!!

[Alone by King's X from Ogre Tones]

"Find inner peace and thousands around you will find their salvation."

St. Seraphim of Serov
[via Bruce's World]

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Cheap and Legal

I have no interest in rehashing the sanctification debate, so this is the only thing I’m going to say about Haggard. There’s two options he’s likely to face:

First, there is cheap grace, the most popular option these days for most sins. Cheap grace says, “It’s okay, everybody sins some times.” Or, “Everybody else does it.” And then, “We’re saved by grace, so you’re forgiven!” Then it pats you on the back and you go on your way, thinking that everything is fine.

The other option is legalism. Legalism says, “If you don’t measure up to our standards, you can’t be in our club.” Or, “A real Christian would never do that.” And then, “The Kingdom of God is not for likes of you.” And then, “Then it kicks you out and you go on your way thinking that you can never be saved.

Both of these are wrong....

Haggard has happened to hit one of the only sins that still offends the conscience of American Christians, so he probably won’t get cheap grace. He probably will get a lot of legalism. However, I pray that God will grant him true repentance.
[via The Boars Head Tavern, HT: The Bush League Theologian]

Wolves 1, Sheeps 0
[via Moral Contradictions]

Ted Haggard, Grace and Hypocrisy
[via I am a Christian Too]

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Broadening the Gap?

Over the past few days, I have been watching the coverage of the Rev. Ted Haggard fiasco carefully to see how many journalists understand one of the most important facts in this story.

What is that fact? Haggard is not a leader of the old Religious Right. For many people, he was the charismatic face of a more moderate brand of evangelicalism that backs the traditional Christian doctrines on the hot issues linked to sex and marriage, but also carries that “Culture of Life” emphasis over into discussions of poverty, the environment, the spread of AIDS, economic justice in the Third World and other issues.

Yet, at the same time, he was one of the new “moderate” evangelicals who had not lost the trust of the old-guard evangelical alpha males symbolized by Dr. James Dobson and Charles Colson. Haggard was a bridge personality, in other words. This made him an important figure for the White House, since he was an evangelical — but not among the old faces that everyone is used to seeing on the cable TV shows (think Pat Robertson) that President Bush has avoided like the plague....

While many focus on the impact of the scandal on Republican politics, it is much more important for journalists to ask how it may or may not affect the fault lines within modern evangelicalism....The issue is whether the evangelical agenda narrows and narrows and narrows, while the old guard lose trust in the leaders who are trying to take their place.
[via Get Religion]

Come clean, Ted: My advice to Pastor Haggard... and to myself
[via Blue Christian ~ On a Red Background]

Scandal's Not A Spiritual Gift?

I grew up in the Assemblies of God, the world's largest Pentecostal movement and over the years, I met many, many ministers with tremendous integrity, compassion and ability. But I also noticed that a disturbing percentage of the "marquee name" Pentecostal preachers seem to end up bringing shame on themselves and the church....

Now there's Haggard, admitting to some unspecified transgressions. Haggard, who describes himself as a Southern Baptist, nonetheless embraces pentecostal-charismatic theology -- such as speaking in tongues, the laying on of hands for healing, prophecy and other "gifts of the Spirit."

Certainly, no religious group has a monopoly on clergy misconduct. And as I noted at the top, most of the Pentecostal preachers I have known were hard-working, loving, faithful people. But why is it that many of the biggest names in the Pentecostal movement -- over and over again -- end up disgracing themselves and the church as a whole?
[via Bible Belt Blogger]

No Moral Superiority

Here's my two cents:

1. Does it really surprise anyone that Christians aren't able to live up to the moral standards they profess to believe. King David couldn't, the apostle Peter couldn't, the apostle Paul couldn't (Romans 7 anyone?). So why should we be surprised when someone like Ted Haggard has such a fall?

2. In light of the above, this illustrates the folly of Christians who campaign on a platform of moral authority. Morality is a very "law based" thing, and as Romans 8:3ff illustrate, law (and moral standards?) is uniquely ill-equipped to combat sin.

3. In light of both of the above the thing that distinguishes Christians from others is not our moral superiority or moral authority, it is our identity as recipients of grace. ....

But lets also be careful that we not assume some moral superiority to, or moral authority over, Ted Haggard. Those of us who do not base our ministries on moral superiority and moral authority may feel morally superior to those who do. We may feel morally superior because we rely on grace not moral superiority.

The truth is, I am Ted Haggard, we are all Ted Haggard, and Ted Haggard is all of us. And may God have mercy me, on Ted and on all of us.
[via JollyBlogger]

Internal Affairs

In a scenario reminiscent of the Jim Bakker scandal decades ago, Ted Haggard, pastor of a 14,000 member Evangelical Church in Colorado Springs and one of the heads of the National Association of Evangelicals who has led the charge in the state by state organizing against gay marriage, has at least for now stepped aside from pastoring his church. Why? Because Mike Jones of Denver says that the 50 year old pastor, married with five children, has been having same sex sexual relations and doing metamphetamines with him for three years! The acting pastor, Ross Parsley told KKTV-TV that Haggard had confessed to him that some of the allegations were true. It remains to be seen which ones....

What happens internally to the menopausal male is that there is a biological clock ticking which sends the subtle message that time is running out on one's sexual life, and "its now or never" if one is going to have some sort of fling or walk on the wild side. This internal prompt leads to immoral behavior. Sometimes, the person is not even aware of what is happening to him until it is too late. Yes, its possible to be oblivious to the subtle and subconscious forces that are driving one's life. This is especially likely to happen to A type personalities who are very goal driven and not introspective, and indeed do not receive critiques or corrections at all well. In other words, it is likely to happen to those with narcissistic personalities which are very self-centered, which at the bottom reflects a very weak ego.

I do not know how much of this applies to Ted Haggard. What I do know is this-- I have seen many good ministries destroyed due to lack of proper accountability and lack of good marital relationships, and lack of spiritual formation of the leader himself. Its time to change the climate and culture of leadership in many parts of the Evangelical world. We could start with Ephesians 5.21-- "let all submit to one another out of reverence for Christ". We could add to this "confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed" (James. 5.16).
[via Ben Witherington]