Thinking Out Loud

April 16, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Pet Blessing Service

I’m writing this assuming everyone survived the prophetic implications of the blood moon, but maybe the April 15 income tax deadline is a form of judgment. 

As we do each Wednesday, clicking anything below will take you to PARSE where the links are live.

Paul Wilkinson writes the rest of the week at Thinking Out Loud, and edits the daily devotional Christianity 201 page.

Lettuce Pray from _ChristianHumor Twitter

February 17, 2013

Jay Bakker Bares Past and Present Faith Doubts

Filed under: books — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:15 am

PTL Club - Bakker FamilyIt’s hard to believe it’s been a dozen years since Jay Bakker –  once the little boy running around the set of Jim and Tammy-Faye Bakker’s PTL Club — emerged as Jay Bakker the author of Son of a Preacher Man, and co-founder of Revolution Church, in New York City where he still preaches.

His second book, Fall to Grace, was issued by FaithWords, but has been rolled over into the edgier Jericho Books imprint, where it was joined last week by the new Faith, Doubt, and Other Lines I’ve Crossed: Walking with the Unknown God.

Publisher’s Weekly wrote:

The pastor of a church that meets in a bar, Bakker has a special place in his heart for the GLBTQ community and offers a spirited biblical defense for the acceptance of sexual difference. He expresses a faith that encourages questions and emphasizes relationships rather than rules. Bakker writes in a simple, down-to-earth style as he counters the focus on exceptionalism, exclusion, sin, and guilt that dominate some forms of evangelical Christianity. Like fellow evangelical Rob Bell, Bakker doesn’t believe in a God who would consign people to hell for all eternity. Love trumps justice; participating in community trumps official church membership; compassion trumps dogma.

Faith and Doubt - Jay BakkerThe publisher’s own blurb states:

Innovative pastor Jay Bakker thought he knew God: the God who rigorously patrolled every aspect of his life, the God who chose sides, the God who was always disappointed in him. But through the transformative power of grace, he discovered the God who loved and accepted unconditionally, freeing him to ask the hard questions and delve into one of Christianity’s greatest taboos: doubt.

In Faith, Doubt, and Other Lines I’ve Crossed, Jay voices the questions that Christians are thinking but won’t ask as he chronicles his doubt about God, the Bible, heaven and hell, church, society, relationships, grace, and love. In the process he encourages all of us to welcome “the other,” to read the Bible differently but better, to draw together in community, and to seek an unknown God of limitless grace.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Jay Bakker says,

I’m trying to get people to really grasp the idea of allowing themselves to doubt in faith. I’m trying to get to deconstruct faith and say faith isn’t about having it figured out. Faith isn’t belief. Doubt is built-in with faith. Faith is not a fact. Faith has more in common with hope than it would [with] fact. There’s always an unknowing when it comes to faith.

In the same interview, he adds,

 Yes, I am definitely questioning the atonement and trying to discover how we can see it in a different way. We’ve got this image of God who needs some sort of flesh, some sort of blood, that needs some sort of vengeance to pay for sin. My experience of a loving God who’s asked me to love my enemies – this isn’t a God that demands something before you are accepted. I think Jesus died because Jesus was inclusive. God is inclusive. I think that the idea of God somehow being separated from us was more man’s idea.

I talk about in the book how when Jesus died and the curtain ripped and there was nothing behind the curtain of the Holy of Holies. I think that our ideas of separation are our own. I think we’re always coming up with other ideas of how we are separate from God, or for some reason why we have to be separate from God. I think that imagery of the temple curtain ripping and nothing being behind there is kind of the [same thing] as [God] saying “I’ve always been with you.”

For a few readers here, that may be enough to spark interest in reading Faith and Doubt, while for others it probably raises doubts about Bakker’s faith.

January 19, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Enjoy this week’s links; there’s ice cream at the end!

  • You Give Me Your Shows and I’ll Give You Mine Department:  Canada’s Christian television network, CTS has put together a reciprocal deal with Robert A. Schuller’s American Life Network to share programming and media platforms.  Currently a limited list of CTS programs are available on the NRB Network.  Read more at BDBO.
  • Tattooed Pastor Department:  Jay Bakker has a new book out, Fall to Grace (Faithwords) which Tony Jones reviews at Take and Read.
  • Read This One For the Gipper Department:  Here’s another book review, this one for The Faith of Ronald Reagan by Mary Beth Brown, reviewed by Darrell Dow.
  • Biting The Hand That Feeds Them Department:  The Feed-a-Friend program in downtown Houston, Texas is now being required to purchase a $17/day permit from the city to carry out its mission of feeding the homeless.  The group is trying to avoid an us-versus-them mentality.
  • Killing Me Softly Department: Dee at Wartburg Watch takes a trip down memory lane profiling a not-yet-published book by Irishman Charlie Boyd, and reminds us of The Jesus Movement, Arthur Blessitt, Larry Norman, The Late Great Planet Earth, the Shepherding Movement, Calvary Chapel, and so many other times and places worth remembering.
  • Big Bang Theory Department:  If your tastes run to quantum physics, Michael Belote’s recent posts at Reboot Christianity might be just what you’re looking for, starting with the most recent, Schrodinger’s Christianity. (This makes a good forward for your science-type friends. Spoiler: Our souls are like quantum particles.)
  • Ministry Copycat Department:  We all know of churches which offer conferences and seminars for pastors to learn how the big guys do it.  The seminars aren’t free; the churches are basically selling their expertise.   Now comes word that one megachurch actually charges a fee just to see the wording of their staff job descriptions. Yikes!
  • Dialing for Doctrine Department: At The Arminian Blog (caption line: Theology in the Dutch Reformed Tradition of Jacob Arminius) comes this article about inconsistencies among Southern Baptist Calvinists when it comes to missions.
  • Glass Houses Department: We all have a public persona and a private persona, but what really goes on behind the closed door of our houses when it’s just us and the fam?  It’s a question worth considering in the light of this homespun article by Trey Morgan listing ten things you’d notice if you were a guest. Not sure why I’m attracted to this article, but after reading it, I feel I’ve already spent time with Lea, Trey and the boys.
  • Church Plant Withers Department:  This is a link to Jamie Arpin-Ricci’s blog, selected because it takes you to all four parts of Jason Coker’s blog where he describes the final days of the Ikon church plant in San Diego.  Or you can also get there from David Fitch’s blog along with much additional analysis. The similarities between Jason’s experience in southern California and my own experience with Transformation Church an hour east of Toronto are rather striking.
  • Authors of Confusion Department: Keith Brenton lists some indicators of bad theology in a December piece I missed earlier, How To Spot False Teaching.
  • Higher Education Department: At my own alma mater, The University of Toronto, a couple of local churches and ministry organizations are lending support to a Jesus Awareness Week. Oh, to be a student again, and be part of the events.
  • Interfaith Dialog Department:  Mark Galli at Christianity Today suggests that step one in starting the conversation with people of other faiths actually lies in evangelizing ourselves.
  • Truth is Stranger Than Cartoons Department:  We leave this week with two, count ‘em two links to the blog American Jesus.  The first is a 40-second mystery video about church pageantry and formality gone wrong.  The second link gets you an explanation for the picture which appears below.  See ya in seven days with more links.

April 3, 2010

Crystal Cathedral: Is This The End?

FOR THE MOST RECENT UPDATE — THE RESIGNATION OF SHEILA COLEMAN, as of THURSDAY, MARCH 15th, 2012, CLICK HERE

FOR THE STORY REGARDING THE SALE OF THE CATHEDRAL, as of FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18th, 2011, CLICK HERE

Google can’t keep up with this continually evolving story, and keeps sending people to this 22-month old post.  For the full saga, use the search bar in the upper right hand corner of this blog and type “Crystal Cathedral” and hit “enter” and all the items related will appear in REVERSE chronological order (newest to oldest).

DID GOOGLE SEND YOU HERE? GOOGLE CAN’T KEEP UP WITH THE UPDATES ON THIS STORY SO IT SENDS EVERYONE HERE.  FOR MORE CURRENT INFORMATION TRY THESE UPDATES:

UPDATE (NOVEMBER 18, 2011) — In the end, the CC board switches horses in midstream and back the Roman Catholic bid, to which the judge agrees.  Confused?  We were, and so were the church members.  See top of this item (above the picture) for link.

UPDATE (OCTOBER 28, 2011) — The property is sold to Chapman University.  The church continues to use the cathedral on Sundays, and hopes some day to buy it back.  Update to the update:  Two weeks later, that’s not how the story ended!!  (See above)

UPDATE (JULY 9, 2011) — The story on the potential purchase by the local Roman Catholic diocese is located here

UPDATE (JULY 5, 2011) — For those of you being directed here by a search engine, the recent story on Robert H. Schuller being removed from the board is located here.

UPDATE (MAY 28, 2011) — For those of you directed here looking for the story of the sale of the property, that story is located here.

UPDATE (OCTOBER 20, 2010) — For those of you being referred here by online searches, the story on the chapter 11 filing is located here.


The money just isn’t there.

The week started out almost humorously with the suppliers of the camels, sheep and goats (oh my!) for the Crystal Cathedral’s annual Christmas production looking for the church to settle a bill for around $56,000 US.

The Orange County Register, which keeps close tabs on events at the large glass church reported earlier this week:

Kristina Oliver, who owns Oliver Livestock Co. in Hemet, says the cathedral owes her more than $56,000. For 29 years, her family has been supplying the pageants with live animals – camels, goats, sheep, horses and donkeys – a much-touted feature of the Glory pageants.

Oliver sent a letter to Sheila Schuller Coleman, founder Robert H. Schuller’s daughter, who is now the head of Crystal Cathedral Ministries. In the letter, she talked about her daughters ages 3 and 1, her husband who has been battling cancer and the danger of her losing their home if she doesn’t receive the payment.

“I’ve been completely ignored without so much as a courtesy of a response or explanation,” Oliver said. “I understand the church has been hurting for cash…but the way I’ve been treated, with no courtesy or professionalism, is unacceptable.”

But like a snowball rolling downhill, the story — and the amount of indebtedness — kept growing as the week went on, with the San Jose Mercury News reporting this on Thursday:

Three businesses have sued the Crystal Cathedral megachurch for more than $2 million combined in unpaid bills.

The church has a $55 million budget deficit and recently conducted layoffs, sold church property and reduced the number of TV stations airing the “Hour of Power” telecast.

From concerns of $56,000 on Monday to $2 million by Thursday.

Is it possible that it’s all over?  And what would a trustee or receiver do with a large glass church?   The church campus, in Garden Grove, California is on a scale that makes this story reminiscent of the collapse of Heritage Village in Charlotte a decade ago.    That was the property belonging to Jim Bakker and the PTL Club, now belonging to Rick Joyner’s Morningstar Ministries and the current home of former Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley.

Right now the church needs a savior — in both senses of that word.   It needs someone to walk onto the stage who can rescue the facility and the ministry from financial demise.   Is such a person out there?

It’s ironic that it could end this way; that this could be Robert H. Schuller’s legacy.   Google his name and you find countless news stories, testimonials and bloggers quoting his pithy sayings as though they were the Word of God itself.    Perhaps building his ministry on God’s sayings — the Bible — might have brought a better ending.

From this perspective, the possibility-thinking church is running out of possibilities.

See updates above for links to more recent information, including the two most recent ones above the title.

February 16, 2010

Confronting Todd Bentley

Todd Bentley announced his separation from his wife, Shonnah, in August 2008,  and resigned from the Board of Fresh Fire. A statement released by the remaining Board members said ‘Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff’, and that he will ‘refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life’. ~Wikipedia entry on Todd Bentley

Several months ago, this blog crossed paths with the blog, Bene Diction Blogs On (BDBO) because of my personal history with the individual behind the Ponzi scheme that affected several of the staff at Crossroads Christian Communications.

For awhile, I had BDBO on the blogroll here, but was reminded by a reader that just as many bloggers won’t post anonymous comments, so also is it difficult when a blog host is an unknown commodity.   I shared a number of off-blog e-mails with Bene at the time, but if I’ve ever actually known who Bene is, the name now escapes me.   I have no idea who I’m dealing with when we correspond.

Not so anonymous however are a series of copyrighted posts on BDBO by reporterRick Hiebert.

Rick has been following the career of charismatic (in more ways than one) evangelist and faith-healer Todd Bentley.   Rick’s posts are lengthy, and I don’t read them all, but a recent one led me to the website Confronting Todd Bentley, which in turn led me to a series of videos posted on YouTube.

The videos consisted of a number of scriptural rebukes made during one of Bentley’s meetings at Morningstar in Charlotte, NC.    Yes, this interrupted the meeting, and yes, that’s not the ideal way to bring confrontation; but given what these men have come to learn, they could not be silent.   Because of this, many more of Bentley’s followers have an opportunity to hear the other side of the story online.

But will they?   Probably not.   In Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, the person who occupies the stage, who holds the microphone, whose name is on the marquee; that person owns all the marbles and  commands all the respect.  “Touch not the Lord’s anointed;” is an oft-repeated phrase in this particular church culture.    Even in small, rural churches, the Pentecostal minister can be revered in a way that rivals Catholicism’s papacy.

So it was no surprise that the many rebukes against Todd did nothing to sway the people in the audience.    The website also carries the text of a pamphlet the protesters distributed that day.    Even if only half of their allegations are true,  all of this raises the question of Bentley’s mentor, author Rick Joyner.

Joyner purchased the former Heritage Village (PTL Club) property in Charlotte once operated by Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.    A number of apologetics ministries such as Apologetics Index find theological problems with his various writings.   But his endorsement of a “restored” Todd Bentley certainly clouds his credibility further.

In a recent, lengthy “Special Bulletin” from Morningstar Ministries, Rick Joyner gives reasons why he felt it was right to release Bentley back into limited “Local Church” ministry prior to the end of the restoration process.   Much of his argument makes a razor sharp distinction which separates the qualifications for “being an elder” from the manifestations of  “having a ministry.”

The oldest post by Hiebert at BDBO is 19 months ago (BDBO posts are sadly undated) and is a reprint from a publication, The Report Magazine supposedly dated April 30th, 2001.   If this dating is correct, Hiebert has been following Bentley’s career for a long, long time.

In the Bible we’re instructed to worship God with the Spirit and with understanding.   Our faith is at times emotional, and there are things in the realm of the Kingdom of God that — as the Apostle Paul, a superb intellectual said so clearly — are seen by the world as foolishness.   But our faith also has to be grounded in the Word of God and our lives have to maintain an internal cohesiveness to give credibility to the work of Christ in our lives.

My personal belief is that Todd Bentley represents the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements at their worst.   Like the ones who disrupted Bentley’s recent North Carolina meetings, I find there are times when one simply cannot be silent.

You’re invited to follow Rick Hiebert’s writings at BDBO, and can also find some of the earlier posts at The Shotgun Blog at WesternStandard.ca You may also wish to read a recent article (with video link) wherein Bentley’s current wife, Jessa, claims to have communicated with the deceased, in particular one Oral Roberts.

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