Thursday, January 31, 2008


I interrupt my normal blogging schedule to bring you following:
The arch blogger Parableman has a very interesting piece on predestination. Click over to and check the article on "God the Decider."
I also heartily endorse the D.A. Carson book "How Long, O Lord" which was the inspiration for the article.

The Great Movies--Mrs. Miniver

My wife and I continue to raid the classic vaults of Netflix, especially Best Picture Oscar winners, and this week we polished off the 1942 Academy Award winner "Mrs. Miniver."
The film is kind of a war movie for chicks. It follows the soft and pretty yet oh-so determined English housewife as she transitions from afternoon shopping trips to serving tea to her husband in a bomb shelter as the Nazis pound on Great Britian.
The film was made at the beginning of WWII and is obviously propoganda aimed at selling America (and the rest of the world) that the Brits are not just uppity, tea swilling crumpet monkeys but can give as good as they get. Yet, propoganda is not always wrong. For example, go review some of the WWII films produced by the War Department and compare them with what we now know about the Japanese death marches and, of course, the Nazi prison camps: pretty tame stuff.
The most interesting image of this so-so film is the last shot where the town is gathered for a church service and the minister is assuring the congregation that they will carry on as the camera pans up to reveal that bombs have ripped the church in two and British fighters can be seen soaring toward Germany. Such an image would outrage my emergent friends but let me gently remind them that this is not an act of the Kingdom twisted into the "theology of empire" but the Kingdom oppossing a truly evil empire. Not to mention that, as Rob Bell all but states in Everything is Spiritual, that one cannot divorce anything, including war and foreign policy, from the Christian life or as one of my heroes once said, "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

As Much As It Pains Me...

I find myself in agreement with Tony Jones, the National Coordinator of Emergent Village. Every once in a while, I click over to Emergent to remind myself why I left the "conversation" behind.

One of the podcasts uploaded is a "conversation" at last fall's SBL conference between Jones, New Testament Scholar Scot McKnight and author Diana Butler Bass (all three are emergents, which raises the question as to why the SBL hosts conversations only among those already enmeshed in the movement but I digress).

Bass is a strong proponent of the so-called "mainline revival." I have yet to see such a "revival", in fact, the last time I had lunch with a Methodist D.S., he confessed that all of his churches were stagnating or dying. He didn't have one growing church, but again, I digress.

Jones, on the other hand, believes that the bureaucracies behind the main line denominations are killing their own churches. Bass jumped all over Jones insisting that all she sees is vibrant life returning to the mainline churches.

I'm with Jones. As a former Methodist Pastor, I chewed more than a few Tums dealing with the endless (and useless) paperwork, committees, etc. Jones is right that bureaucracies typically stand in the way of the Gospel rather than facilitating its growth.

Ironically, Jones is a political moderate-liberal which means he trusts bureaucracies to take care of the nation's poor and the world's problems but just not a local church or seminary. Does anyone other than me see a disconnect?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


It is impossible for me (and possibly anyone 40 and under with a sense of humor) to see President Bush and not think of Will Ferrell doing George Bush (remember "strategery!") and last night I think I would have preferred Ferrell to the endless, forgettable laundry list of items doled about by the President during his last State of the Union address.

I had hoped that the President would rise to the occasion and give a spirited rally cry for freedom in the Middle East and a timeline for energy independence but what we got was a boring hour of "gimme, gimme, gimme" and "don't, don't, don't."

It is obvious that Bush realizes that history will judge him by the war in Iraq as it was THE focus of the speech. Much to the left's chagrin, the war is going very well even in the jaundiced eyes of the The New York Times and The Washington Post. All that aside, I wish Bush had actually spent nearly all of the speech on the war instead of diluting it with a check list of programs that have no hope of passing within the next year.

I speak as a strong supporter of the war who has several close friends in Iraq right now (shout out to David French who is serving on the Iraq-Iran border!) and tried to volunteer for the war on terror myself (I will admit, much to my embarrassment, that I was told that I was too old and had suffered too many health problems to serve). During the last few years (and last night), Bush had the opportunity to convince the world that there is a world war going on between radical Muslims but, once again, he blew it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Night Off

I'm taking a night off from the blogsphere to play Nerf Dart Guns with my son, look over private Christian schools in eastern Pennsylvania for him, enjoy an adult beverage while polishing off the 1942 Academy Award winning film "Mrs. Miniver" with my lovely wife and to watch the State of the Union address.
Check back for a review of Rob Bell's "Everything is Spiritual", another entry on The Great Movies, thoughts on the Bush administration and Leonard Sweet's warning to the emerging church that the Democrat Party is seeking to co-opt the movement. Check back soon.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Emerging Church Part Six

I had enough of the emerging church when it was clear that those at the forefront were not only abandoning orthodox theology but sliding steadily into 19th Century Protestant liberalism. For example, last fall Diana Butler Bass (an early leader of the emerging church) all but admitted that she had moved beyond the somewhat orthodox scholar N.T. Wright to Marcus Borg, a man who denies the resurrection of Jesus. Bass defended Borg (against Tony Jones of all people) by stating that although Borg does not believe in the historical reliability of the resurrection accounts that he still is willing to recite the historic creeds of Christianity. Bass thought this was stunning but anybody who knows anything about 19th century liberal protestantism knows that even the most liberal of the liberal pluralists were willing to do that. What is even more disturbing is that Bass seems to be only a few steps ahead of Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt and other leaders of Emergent in their suicidal slide into pluralistic nonsense which is really only a more "intellectual" version of the new age dribble doled about by the likes of Oprah!
Forget the aforementioned poor arguments, iconoclasm and easy embrace of political liberalism in which the emergents are being duped by the Democrats just as the emergents accuse evangelicals of being co opted by the Republicans (and I have Leonard Sweet to back me up on that!). The simple truth is that the slide into romantic, naive, pluralism proved to be a nightmare for the church once and will surely be so again.
All that being said, the reason Emergent has grown from a few seminary geeks in the late '90's like me to a whole lot of seminary geeks today is that emergents are very good at speaking the language of Generations X & Y. Rob Bell said it best when responding to a question as to why Mars Hill Bible Church exploded he said, in essence, that Mars Hill speaks this generation's "mother tongue."
According to just about every careful study, currently there is a generational gap unlike anything anyone has seen before. The gap is even greater than that which separated the 1950's from the 1960's. Evangelicals can learn a lot from Bell's style (as well as McLaren's, Pagitt's, etc.) just as the emergents could learn a lot from evangelicals theologically if they ever dropped the smug flippancy and actually carefully considered what was being said.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Gospel According to Fight Club

Will be preaching this weekend as Christ's Community Church kicks off the sermon series on the Tabernacle. First up will be the Altar of Burnt Offering. I call it the Gospel According to Fight Club. If you want to find out why then be a man (or a real woman) and brave the bad weather so that I can yell at you for 30 minutes. Saturday evening service kicks off at 5 p.m. and the Sunday morning service begins at 10:30 a.m.
Will feature clips from the films Fight Club and Blood Diamond as well as music videos from Linkin Park which may cause everyone over 50 to reach for their acid reflux medicine. Being a short timer has its advantages!!!
God bless,

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Emerging Church Part Five--Strengths

When I was an emergent Christian I believed that the modern evangelical church was: boring; out-of-touch; shallow; entertainment driven; Biblically illiterate; materialistic; etc.

Now that I have left the emergent village idiots behind I still believe that the modern evangelical church stinks and for all of the reasons listed above.

The emergent movement was born partially out of a rebellion against the complacency of the modern evangelical church. Indeed many, if not most, of all the early emergent leaders were lapsed evangelicals who felt malnourished by 40 days of experiencing God by praying the prayer of Jabez, etc. I was, and am, one of those starving evangelicals. Initially the hope was to reform the modern evangelical church but, like most reform movements, the emerging church's antagonism helped create a deep shift between the movement and the institution it sought to reform possibly producing an irreconcilable gulf. Years ago, I published an article about Luther's over caustic approach to reform and what we can learn from it. Unfortunately, no one seems to have learned anything.

All that aside, the emerging church is right to criticize the modern evangelical church as a hollow shell of what Jesus envisioned. The emergents diagnosis is correct but their prescribed method of treatment is lacking. Why? More on that later my friends.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Emerging Church Part Four

Up until just a few years ago, I absorbed books by Brian McLaren, "conversed" about theology over overpriced coffee and attended Emergent "gatherings" and "cohorts." Why did I walk away from my tattooed, organic food chomping, MSNBC/CNN watching, hemp wearing, imported beer swilling, Dane Cook watching and sissy hybrid car driving emergent brothers and sisters? Simply put, because the arguments under girding the movement stunk (and still stink).

I remember listening to Rob Bell sometime in late 2006 deliver a series of sermons cribbed from the works of Walter Wink. Bell argued for the "myth of redemptive violence", which argues, among other things, that any violence simply perpetuates an ongoing cycle. Bell actually used the example of Samson's relationship with the Phillistines to demonstrate that violence always spawns more violence.
Now I was a big fan of Bell's at the time but I remember nearly spitting coffee across my windshield when I heard him use such a ridiculous example to make such a stupid point. Following the Wink/Bell argument, God just didn't get it during the first several millennia when he was ordering the deaths of the Canaanites, etc. and finally grew up by the time Jesus came along.

Also, following the Wink/Bell/emergent argument, while Hitler and the Axis powers rolled across the world and slaughtered Jews, we should've all have just held hands and sang prom songs until Adolf and Benito got all teary eyed and we shared a great big hug!

This is just an example of the poor thinking of many leaders of the emerging/emergent movement who are Machiavellian in their approach and all but stick their fingers in their ears and hum when challenged. After a while, I just didn't care to hang at the cool kids table if that meant leaving my brain at the door.

BUT, the emerging church does have its strengths. What could they possibly be? Stay tuned my friends.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Emerging Church--Strengths & Weaknesses Part 3

Without a doubt the event which kicked the emerging movement into high gear was the founding of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was the first emerging megachurch.

The church was founded by Rob Bell, the son of a federal judge, graduate of Wheaton College & Fuller Theological Seminary and a former Chicago area alt. indie band leader.

After graduating from Fuller with, by his own admission, a less than stellar GPA, Bell took a job with a large Calvary Chapel (5000+) in Grand Rapids. After a few years, Calvary, under the guidance of Dr. Ed Dobson, was forced to turn crowds away from their services. The elders decided to plant a church that would target the ever elusive Gen-Xer's and Gen-Y'ers. The church launched in February 1999 with roughly 1000 people. Nine years later the church boasts roughly 11,000 attendees per week.

Bell had been greatly influenced by New Testament scholar N.T. Wright as well as the narrative theology movement he encountered at Fuller via scholars like Miroslav Volf, James McClendon and Nancy Murphy. Bell's creative preaching steeped in innovative theological trends like the New Perspective on Paul coupled with an alt rock praise band and thousands in attendance gave hope to scores of young seminary students engaged in the emerging movement who hated K-Love, khaki slacks and the purpose driven anything!

Bell and many other young pastors were even more emboldened by a book that hit shelves during my last year of seminary, A New Kind of Christian by Brian McClaren.
McLaren's book is a fictional dialogue between Dan, a burned out evangelical pastor, and NEO a teacher who has embraced a postmodern, postconservative, narrative approach to the faith. NEO announces the death of traditional evangelicalism with its emphasis on right belief and introduces Dan to a gentler, kinder faith which emphasizes humility and social action.

The book became immensely popular especially among seminarians and Bible college students. McLaren, a fairly gifted writer, introduced difficult theological concepts like those set forth by Hans Frei and George Lindbeck in a reader friendly format that captivated young Christians hungry for depth and starved by most program heavy but discipleship light evangelical churches.

The book spawned a trilogy and elevated McLaren to the forefront of the emerging movement.

McLaren's book wasn't the only work that added fuel to the proverbial fire. Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, a deconstructionist approach to the faith has sold more than 100,000 copies.

The book documents Miller's move away from a college student in a traditional Reformed Southern Baptist church in Houston, Texas to a struggling writer assisting a missional church plant in Portland, Oregon and that church's struggle to reach college students at Reed College, a venue notorious for its hostility to Christianity.

Miller initially distanced himself from the emerging movement because he was much more theologically conservative than Bell or McLaren. For example, Miller listed C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias and Tim Keller as a few of his heroes.

Yet, there is no doubt that Miller's paradoxical embrace of conservative theology and liberal politics captivated the emerging movement.

I personally delighted in all of these occurrences, so why do I now regret them as much as my high school yearbook photos? More later.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Emerging Church--Strenths and Weaknesses Part Two

There is a great desire within many young people to strike out on their own, define themselves and set themselves apart. Often the easiest route to "finding oneself" is to latch on to that which is new and innovative. The young person then sees this new belief as their own and, hence, they are then truly "authentic."
The emerging church movement had this effect on me. While attending seminary, I was instinctively drawn to that which seemed to transcend tired liberalism and "stale evangelicalism." I absorbed the works of Walter Brueggemann, N.T. Wright, Miroslav Volf, etc.
I ridiculed "narrow minded fundamentalism" and dismissed boring 19th century protestant liberalism. I took these new theologians whose names evoked a "who?" from my former church crowd and made them mine. I felt like such a true individual while also being "spiritual."
Yet even as I discussed Kevin Vanhoozer over coffee and attended conferences in which young pastors like Tony Jones went on and on and on and on and on...I knew that there were serious flaws with a lot of the arguments set forth by emerging thinkers. I dismissed these flaws as the growing pains of a new movement and my fellow emergents seemed to do the same.
For example, take the Open View of God which was outlined by the likes of Clark Pinnock in the early 1990's and popularized by megachurch pastor Greg Boyd in the late '90's (both emerging heroes). The open view holds that God does not know the future either because He chooses not to in order to respect our autonomy or cannot know the future because, like us, He is bound by the dimension of time. The stated goal of the open view of God is to absolve the almighty from evil because He cannot be held responsible for that which He cannot see coming.
One professor, who will remain nameless to protect the guilty, told me after 9-11 that the open view is necessary because a God who knew that the planes were definitely going to fly into the twin towers and let it happen would be a monster. I nodded hopefully but knew the argument sucked.
Even the loudest proponents of the open view argue that God knows the present perfectly and also argue that, in Scripture, where God accurately predicts the future that this is due only to His pervasive knowledge of individuals which allow Him to perfectly guess what will happen next. For example, Jesus knew that Peter would deny him three times because He knew Peter and the "lay of the land" so to speak. Yet, if God knew the hearts of the 9-11 hijackers, was watching everything that happened and could perfectly guess what was coming and still didn't stop it then is He really absolved of the deed?
In the early days of the emerging church when guys like Mark Driscoll, Dan Kimball, Chris Seay and Brian McLaren would speak at the same conference then there would indeed be a lot of very interesting dialogue but when it lapsed into only those holding a very leftish theology then it ceased to be a real conversation. Now flimsy doctrines like the open view of God are never challenged. Indeed the emerging church has slowly been adopting a celebrity culture in which certain figures are elevated to such a status that their works are not even questioned (think McLaren, Rob Bell, Donald Miller, etc.) or at least not questioend without receiving a quick, flippant ad hominen response that really isn't a response at all.
Again, why did this movement sprout and when did I have enough of it? Stay tuned.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Emerging Church: Strengths and Weaknesses--Part One

Some time during the early mid-90's (no one can seem to agree on the date) Leadership Network, a non-profit church think tank, began to pull young pastors together from around North America for conferences focused on reaching Generation X (my generation). Among these young pastors were twentysomethings Dan Kimball (to the left) from California, Chris Seay from Texas and Mark Driscoll from Washington state. Dan Kimball (or Chris Seay or Mark one can agree on it) stole a title from an old book and pronounced that these young pastors were advance scouts for the emerging church. The title stuck.

Later, an organization was formed solely for the purpose of connecting young pastors. The initial director was Doug Pagitt (right) who later brought on Tony Jones and an ex-hippy, ex-literature professor, ex-60's Jesus movement writer named Brian McLaren on to what was then called Terra Nova (Jone's idea) and then Emergent.

At some point in the late '90's, Mark Driscoll withdrew from the organization. Driscoll was upset with his friends Pagitt, Jones and McLaren for embracing innovative theological ideas like the open view of God as advocated by Clark Pinnock, Terence Fretheim, Greg Boyd and others.

This is about the time yours truly hit seminary in West Texas.

I initially sided with Pagitt, Jones and McLaren. Why do I now consider those three to be harmful to the church? How did Emergent ever grow beyond a few small conferences attended by seminary nerds like me? Stay tuned, kiddies.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Why I'm Not A Liberal--Part Three

This year marks the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Now, forget the fact that Roe was a gross overreach of the Court considering the issue had been handled exclusively by the states since the founding of the Republic or that even the most liberal law professors scoff at the majority's "logic" today or that both Jews and Christians opposed abortion unanimously for thousands of years and simply ask yourself this question: If there is even a possibility that there is a God and that what breathes, moves and even dreams within the womb is a human being then aren't we risking cold, hard murder that we will have to account for one day?
Now while even many secular bioethicists concede that the "pro-choice" position raises "disturbing issues" , the majority of liberals argue: (1) that they are simply advocating the least-worst option as they do not want a child born into an impoverished home where he or she is not wanted; and (2) that it is only one issue and that no one, even Christians, should be one issue voters. This argument is especially popular among my "emergent" friends.
First of all, the overwhelming majority of those who have abortions are not impoverished, uneducated people but middle and upper class women who simply don't want to be bothered with a pregnancy but are perfectly capable of seeing the pregnancy through and then seeing that the child gets a good home (and the waiting lists for such domestic adoptions are loooong!).
Second, ask an emergent or any liberal if they were alive at the time if they would have voted for a candidate who opposed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 or a pro-slavery candidate in the 19th century or an isolationist candidate who opposed stopping Hitler in the 30's and 40's? Aren't these "single issues"? Were abolitionists or civil rights activists "narrow"? Of course not! So, why is the effort to stop the slaughter of unborn children any different?
Yet another reason why I'm not a liberal.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why I'm Not A Liberal--Part Two

Have you seen Black Hawk Down? There is a disturbing scene near the beginning of the film in which a UN Peacekeeping Force must sit and watch as local warlords snatch food and medical supplies from hungry Somalians.
In an earlier post, I stated that one of the reasons I am not liberal is that despite all of the yapping from the left government programs do not really help the poor as much they help special interest groups, Democrat politician's' campaign coffers and the guilt most upper- and middle class folks feel about not helping the least among us.
There isn't much of a difference when it comes to international aid and the United Nations. Most modern liberals seem to think that if we just redistributed our wealth to 3rd world countries that everyone would love us and poverty would disappear. This ignores the stark reality of systemic corruption in other countries that siphon off such badly needed aid and can only be reformed by military and political means.
Those who place their faith in the United Nations naively believe that all, or at least the majority, of nations will behave rationally and often against their own narrow, short term self-interest despite the overwhelming evidence of thousands of years of human history to the contrary.
Ask yourself, wow many resolutions were passed against Saddam's Iraq without any real results? Remember the oil for food fiasco? How many resolutions have been passed and sanctions levied against middle eastern nations? Do we have peace? How many Jews lost their lives while the UK negotiated endlessly with the Nazis?
Some times force is necessary and no amount of tongue wagging, finger pointing and air drops will reform a twisted system.
Just another reason why I'm not a liberal.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Great Films--Part One

My wife and I have been raiding the classics vault of Netflix lately. I've always been a film buff and even made a run at becoming a filmmaker when I worked in Hollywood 16 years ago. I managed to direct a music video for a Latino act before I realized that I loved watching movies more than I would like making them.
I traded my director's chair for the campaign trail and then for seminary and then for law school but I still love classic movies.
This week I re-watched Grand Hotel which nabbed the Oscar for Best Picture in 1932. My wife hated it but I still really like it. John Berrymore is great as the Barron and while his love for the once great ballerina played by Greta Garbo is a forced plot device, you still end up rooting for them both.
The film is the archetype for the "all star cast" and stories that interweave ala Pulp Fiction, Magnolia, etc.
I haven't seen Grand Hotel in probably 17 years and through the eyes of a minister it is quite different. The most interesting character theologically is the hotel doctor (played with brilliant distance by Lewis Stone) who mutters at the beginning and closing of the film, "Grand Hotel. People come and go. Nothing ever happens." The doctor, like many ministers, seem oblivious to the lives around him that are teetering on the verge of disaster.
The church my family calls home is not perfect, in fact it can be as poor as the worst congregation at times, but at least the staff pro-actively seeks to help people instead of just wandering around obvlious to the pain and despair inflicted by sin.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Why I'm Not A Liberal--Part One

I was a liberal once...kind of...sort of. The problem I've always had is that liberals strike me as pansies. Always have. Even when I was an agnostic, I just never really got it.

Once I started reading folks like P.J. O'Rourke (especially Parliament of Whores...a classic that even libs like Jon Stewart recommend), I was convinced that the last thing in the world I wanted to be was a tree hugging, granola crunching man who cries and wants to give commies and terrorists a hug.

But then I went to seminary and had profs who were liberals. I read a lot of people like Richard Hays (who is a pacifist that opposes the death penalty) and spent a lot of time wrestling with Richard Foster's book "The Freedom of Simplicity" and Ronald Sider's book "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger." I subscribed to Sojourners, drank fair trade coffee, perused the NY Times online and, in law school, even worked for the anti-death penalty Cornell Capital Trial Clinic.

Thankfully, the 2004 Presidential election jarred me back into reality. With the candidates in my face (and spending a lot of time just down the street from town house in Charleston, West Virginia where I lived at the time) I spent a lot of time looking back over my years in politics (1992-1997 including 2 Congressional campaigns, a slew of public policy seminars & campaign schools, a series of interviews on NPR and a 2 year stint on Capital Hill) and read and re-read a lot of stuff on history, foreign policy and economics. I came to the following conclusion--my gut instinct was correct...liberals are pansies.

They also just don't get it or they are world class liars and front men for various special interest groups.

For example, Jim Wallis and others will tell you that when Congress "cuts" funding for social spending that they are hurting the poor. Yet, I spent enough time pouring over departmental budgets as a Congressional aide to know that's just not true.

No conservative that I ever met wanted to hurt the poor just to cut the size of the enormous bureaucracies that claim to help the poor! A shockingly large portion of federal funds are sucked dry by governmental institutions rather than going directly to the impoverished themselves.

Certain special interests have a lot riding on federal budgets increasing the number of federal employees and the wages of current employees. The Democratic party protects these budgets because these special interests protect them come election time. Thus, when Democratic senators and congressman increase spending to "help the poor" they usually only help the special interests who fill these Democratic policymakers campaign coffers.

Former Congressman Jack Kemp (above), by no means a hard core, old school Nixon conservative, told me that many of his inner-city African American colleagues would tell him on the floor of the U.S. House that they would love to vote with him on proposals such as private home ownership instead of more crime ridden government apartment buildings and school voucher programs instead of increased funding for schools without any incentive system but if they did then the inner-city unions would defeat them in the Democratic primary.

Many of my fellow Christians are reading books like Jim Wallis' "God's Politics" (which is nothing but an expansion of his earlier book "The Soul of Politics"), which argues vehemently that Christians need to advocate public policies that help the poor. I whole heartedly agree but simply spending more won't do the trick, which is reason #1 of many that I'm still a conservative.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Huckabee v. McCain

It looks as if it is a two person race on each side of the political spectrum--Obama v. Clinton and Huckabee v. McCain.
In re: to the GOP, Romney is fading quickly in the polls (which will sorely dissapoint many of my friends who are avid supporters) and Thompson is only delaying the inevitable. McCain is surging in Michigan, South Carolina and Florida but, as Frank Luntz made clear after New Hampshire, the polls are not to be trusted. Huckabee's support among evangelicals is growing.
If I have to choose between Huckabee and McCain then I will go with Mike. However, I'm not as anti-McCain as many of my fellow conservatives. I'm no fan of McCain-Feingold or the Senator's votes on the Bush tax cuts, etc. but the man is solidly pro-life and understand that we are at war with Islamic fascists.
That being said, once Romney exits (which I predict he will after he falters in his home state of Michigan and Thompson withdraws after South Carolina) then I will support Huckabee without reservation even though the former governor needs a bit of spit and polish before locking horns with Billary or Obama.
More on the race later, but, in the meantime, MSNBC/NY Times has a good article on young evangelicals embracing Huckabee. Check it out over at the New York Times--
UPDATE: Bill Kristol stated on FOX News Sunday that Romney may win Michigan because his campaign is the only one focusing heavily on fiscal matters while McCain is making the mistake of trumpeting "experience." Michigan has been hit hard by Governor Granholm's leftist economic policies producing a 7.4% unemployment rate. We may be in for a truly long, bumpy primary season after all!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cool Church Names?

"Cool" church names are in. For example, there is The Village in Dallas, Mosaic in Los Angeles, Vintage Faith in Santa Cruz, Scum of the Earth in Denver (my favorite!) and, of course, Mars Hill in Seattle.
Does a new church need to have a non-church name to be "emerging" or "relevant reformed"? Brian McLaren claims there is a "revolution" happening in mainline churches but if you planted "Second Street Presbyterian Church" in Ohio would tweens, busters and bridgers check it out as quickly as "Revolution NYC"? Okay, bad example because last time I checked people weren't flocking in droves to check out Revolution NYC but you get the point.
I have the desire to plant a church one day and the name that keeps popping in to my head is "Kairos" but would that just date the church to this point in time?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

You Might Be Emergent...

MikeWhittmer, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, gave the following Top Ten Signs You Might Be Emergent:
10. If you have never read one of the "Left Behind Books" or prayed the "Prayer of Jabez" or led the "40 Days of Purpose" then you might be Emergent.
9. If you've only seen a megachurch on VH1's "I Love the '80's" then you might be Emergent.
8. If you wouldn't be surprised to see Gandhi in heaven but you would be floored to see Jerry Falwell there then you might be Emergent.
7. If in a debate with Jack Van Impe, you argued that the Beast is America and the Anti-Christ is Pat Robertson, then you might be Emergent.
6. If your preacher just used profanity and it seemed appropriate then you might be Emergent.
5. If you honored your pastor with a box of fine cigars and beers on the house then you might be Emergent.
4. If your hair looks like a bad Midwestern version of Ryan Seacrest's then you might be Emergent.
3. If you use "groove" as a verb without sounding like a dork then you might be emergent!
2. If you purchase your church supplies from a Buddhist book shop then you might be Emergent.
1. If your favorite Carson is Johnny or Daily but definitely not Don then you might be Emergent!
I scored 10, 6 and 5.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Is This Bye Bye for Billary?

Greetings from Scottsdale.
Hillary Clinton is going to lose the NH primary and then she will lose South Carolina and the press is freaking out about it. Why? This happens every 4 years.
The front runners often stumble and usually fall in open primaries. If the front runner always snagged the nomination then Gary Hart would have run against Reagan in '84 and against Bush in '88. Remember Howard Dean's "insurmountable lead" in Iowa and New Hampshire in late 2003?
Barack Obama will probably win the Democratic nod, which will make for an interesting 2008.
I'm not an Obama fan but as a former Gingrich era GOP Hill staffer, I have to admit that my sinful nature certainly enjoys watching the Machiavellian Billary finally get their walking papers.
BUT who will win the GOP primary in NH? I think it is actually going to be very close with Romney and McCain separated by only a few points. The near battle in the gulf with members of Iran's radical Revolutionary Guard has to help McCain but the Senator has to nab a large number of independents and they look like they are moving en Mass to the Obama camp which helps Romney. Should be interesting.
UPDATE: Well, I am neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet and I work for a non-profit! Billary lived to fight another day. I'm listening to her acceptance speech right now. Interesting that the independents did not turn out in expected numbers for Obama but they did for McCain! Now it is even more interesting as there really isn't A frontrunner for either party.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Headed West

I jump on a plane for Scottsdale, Arizona today (prayers appreciated). May not post regularly for a few days. In the meantime, check out Parableman's post on Obama ( and Jolly Blogger's lastest as well (
Also, had to take down the Matt Chandler vids because of a screw up over at YouTube. Still, go to The Village and check out Matt's sermons or his blog and last year's conference speech for Resurgence ( In the meantime, enjoy the vids for the great Tim Keller.
God bless!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Che McLaren

Brian McLaren has been drifting farther and farther leftward over the last few years and he was already to the left of Tony Campolo. I recently ran across a "conversation" McLaren had with a Ed Dobson and Mike Whittmer at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary a little over a year ago. Whittmer asked McLaren what doctrines are essential to the Christian faith but the ever evasive former literature prof turned emergent spokesman refused to answer and instead rattled off a few examples of "orthopraxy" i.e., what Oprah calls Random Acts of Kindness.
Add this to the fact that McLaren's latest book endorses liberation theology (i.e., Christian Communism that believes the Kingdom can be perfectly established on earth without the need of Christ or anything like that) and you can officially write McLaren out of the "evangelical camp" and into the neo liberal brotherhood (i.e., 1920's liberalism/social gospel set to an indie rock soundtrack). I wish Brian, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell and other so-called progressive thinkers could spend some time with the liberation theologians who supported the commies in central America in the '80's and were promptly run out of their respective countries once the USSR fell much to their surprise. Turns out the "least among them" actually wanted none of their pie-in-the-sky utopian non-sense that wrecked Russia and most of eastern Europe.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Faith By Hearing

Some great stuff over at Faith By Hearing including the best audio links/MP3's of 2007 and new stuff from theologian extraordinaire Wayne Grudem and a great series from Don Carson on ministry. Check it out at

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Subtle Shift in Theological Education

I sometimes regret choosing law school over a doctoral program after graduating from seminary. I was interested in Biblical Theology and Homiletics but my profs at Abilene Christian University (see the pic to the left) convinced me that this was a waste of time. They pushed me to look at church history or pastoral care programs but I just wasn't interested. My profs told me that unless my wife and I were willing to set aside additional time to become fluent in several languages beyond Greek, Hebrew, French and German that I would never get into a top tier doctoral program. They also convinced me that it was a waste of time to study at any school that isn't widely considered a premier institution. In regards to theological studies in the U.S. that would be Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Emory, Duke and Notre Dame and in the U.K. that would be Oxford, Cambridge, St. Andrews, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Durham. My profs looked down their noses at "second tier" programs such as Fuller Theological Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Westminister Theological Seminary, etc. They were wrong on many fronts!
First of all, until very recently, only U.S. schools frustratingly demanded GRE scores and language competency exams (neither of which have proven to be accurate indicators of either intelligence or work ethic). One was accepted into a top tier U.K. doctoral program based on recommendations, GPA and a proposed dissertation topic. Competency in various languages are important to be sure but doctoral students at Cambridge are not grilled on how well they can read Bultmann in the original German. Duke may demand a 700 score on the verbal portion of the GRE but I can only think of 1-2 truly influential scholars who hold Ph.D's from Duke yet I can't even begin to name the number of innovative scholars from Durham or Cambridge that never had to bother with the GRE.
Second, a number of top flight Evangelical scholars have emerged over the last few years with doctorates from so-called "second tier institutions" like Fuller, Trinity, Westminster, etc. Karen Jobes at Wheaton has written the best English language commentary on 1 Peter and earned her doctorate from Westminster. Andreas Kostenberger at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has written one of the three best English language commentaries on the Gospel of John and earned his Ph.D. under Don Carson at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Finally, Thomas Schreiner at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has proven to be one of the most prolific American New Testament scholars and earned his doctorate at Fuller.
If the scholar is the reason for choosing a Ph.D. program rather than the name on the diploma then I would rather study New Testament at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with gents like John Polhill, Mark Seidfried and Tom Schreiner then under bores like the tired 19th century liberals at Harvard Divinity School.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Alpha & The Omega--Part 3

Happy New Year!

Finishing up the Alpha & The Omega (i.e., the real Jesus then and now): According to Rev. 14 and 19, the exalted Jesus who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords does not look like the dude who changes your oil anymore but a holy figure who makes war on his opponents with the armies of heaven arrayed behind him and presides over hell itself!

Again, my point is that one's view of Jesus can skew their reading of Scripture. Jesus was not a skinny, sweet little guy in a robe who just wants us all to get along. According to his own cousin, he holds a winnowing fork in his hand and will send billions to eternal torment in hell. Jesus is the warrior-king of all creation who will destroy his opponents and allow wild beasts to gorge themselves on their flesh. This is the one you worship in church and pray to on bended knees and this is the one who will judge you one day according to what you have done (see Rev. 20:12), so turn from sin and get busy!