Thinking Out Loud

October 23, 2019

Wednesday Connect

It’s been a busy week month for my wife and I, but I thought I’d better do another one of these Wednesday Connect roundups before I forget how. So after a couple of weeks off, a welcome back to readers. Please let us know if you find any broken or incorrect links.

■ This was the week that John MacArthur’s brand took a rather large hit and appropriately so. His comments about Beth Moore were simply beyond the pale. Sadly, the same polarity which grips (particularly) the United States politically is evidenced in situations like this. Peoples’ minds are already made up. MacArthur has his supporters and to their way of thinking he can do no wrong. Rich Villodas put this so well: “Right” theology + Unloving Practice = Wrong Theology.”  In the event you missed it, this will catch you up… 

■ … and appropriately, our Tweet of the Week.

■ In completely unrelated searching, I happened upon this.

■ Speaking of Beth Moore, about a week ago she tweeted: “Nothing on earth can make sober people drunker than being invited to a table where they can sip on power. It is a drug like no other.” It was quoted in a recent Religion News Service story reporting on Jack Graham (not related to Franklin or Billy), Robert Jeffress and Greg Laurie, tweeting their approval of a new book by Paula White, who most in the SBC regard as a false teacher. So why do it? One possibility is the Trump connection, or as it’s termed in the article, the Trump-dunk.

■ Willow Creek fallout continues: Just months after the resignation of the pastor at the church’s Wheaton campus, comes the resignation of the Willow Crystal Lake pastor Marcus Bieschke. But sadly, he also shut down the possibility of continuing independently, which some in the congregation suggested.

■ Continuing the topic of megachurch meltdowns, but switching our attention to Harvest Bible Chapel and James MacDonald, the question everyone is asking: What happened to the deer herd? (A story in progress, so do read the comments including the one saying “there are two stories about two deer herds.”)

■ …Okay, forget the deer, they’re probably asking about James MacDonald’s recent ‘first’ public appearance, where participants at the event were told not to take pictures.

■ I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, this might be one of the major Christian book releases heading into the Christmas gift-buying season: The Faith of Queen Elizabeth by Dudley Delffs (Zondervan). Excerpt: “More than the product of polite deference to historical tradition, the Queen’s faith transcends her inherited responsibility and the theology of the Anglican Church….Such an authentic faith could not be merely academic, political, or social but is undoubtedly personal, visceral, and deeply intimate….the thread stitching person and personage, duty and desire, together.” Quote sourced at Publisher’s weekly, or check out the book’s page at Zondervan.

Essay of the Week: A look at climate change.

There’s nothing in the Bible that conflicts with climate change science. Climate change science poses no Biblical or hermeneutical crisis for the Christian, forcing you to choose the Bible over facts. This makes climate change wholly different from how evangelicals have approached evolution. Yes, there is science denialism at work in both instances, but that denialism has to be coming from two different places. We know the Bible is the source of resistance to evolution. But where is the resistance coming from when it comes to climate change? I think the answer is obvious. Resistance to climate change science is rooted in—

[seemed like a good cliffhanger, click to read.]

■ Essay Runner-Up: After the March. He “found that pastors were never as confident about what they believed as they came across from the pulpit;” and he gives 5 reasons your pastor may not want to be highly visible in that public fight over social issues.

■ Worship Workshop: “Be Thou My Vision is an ancient Irish poem thought to be written in the 700s. The 700s. As in 1300 years ago! When my church sang this song a few weeks ago, Millennials in Monterey were connected to an Irishman 5,000 miles and 1,300 years away.” “…So you tell me. Do we really need to keep singing hymns?

■ On the other hand: Roger Olsen on the “concert atmosphere” of many modern churches. 

In most of these services there are no announcements, no pastoral prayer, no scripture reading, no responsive reading, no Lord’s Prayer, no Doxology, no invocation, no benediction. And in most of them some people in the congregation are wearing extremely casual clothes…, and sipping coffee and occasionally looking at their cell phones during the worship service. In one such church I observed a man leave the worship space during worship. I assumed he was going to the men’s room. Nope. He returned with a cup of coffee from the coffee bar in the foyer.

■ Persecution in China: “Months after the fact, a report has surfaced that True Jesus Church in China’s Henan province, worth about $1.4 million, has been forcibly demolished by Chinese authorities…On the morning of June 22, 2019, as about 200 believers were gathered at True Jesus Church, the church’s electricity supply was suddenly cut off…Then, on July 26th around 3 a.m., approximately 1,000 government employees covertly assembled at a school nearby as they planned to demolish the church.”

■ An ultra-low U.S. refugee ceiling in 2020 of only 18,000 will be a hardship for persecuted Christians seeking settlement in the States on religious grounds…

■ …which is strange when you remember the attention that Donald Trump received when he left the climate change discussion at the UN in order to attend and address a gathering on religious freedom.

■ Remember Larycia Hawkins? The former hijab-wearing Wheaton College professor’s story became a film, the documentary Same God. The film pops up in various cities with discussion afterward, but I was able to find this general review of the production.

■ Do I have to go to church every week? “Instead of going to church as long as nothing else gets in the way, the Christian guards Sundays so that nothing will get in the way! Rather than scheduling Sunday around one’s week, he or she schedules the week around Sunday…Affections (desires) dictate priorities.

■ Through a bizarre series of circumstances involving an academic scholarship and their 2-year old son’s health, an Iraqi Christian family finds themselves caught between a rock and a hard place that is literally life or death.

■ Good reading: Lysa TerKeurst on the problem with pithy, trite, cheap, cliché Christian answers and responses.

■ Disturbing. That’s the only word to describe this Texas story about a family who had two twin boys. The mom wanted to embark on “transitioning” one of them, heretofore named James, to female, with the name Luna. The dad, Jeffrey Younger, “argues his ex-wife is transitioning James against the boy’s will.” I may have left out one detail: James/Luna is 7-years old. The dad is now forbidden to use the former name. His visits will be supervised. He was only trying “to protect his seven-year-old son… from chemical castration.” And buried in the last paragraph, word that the mom is not biologically related to the twins, “They were created through in-vitro fertilization and the couple used an egg donor.”

■ Gary Thomas on Gary Thomas: Read the author’s personal summary of his latest book on dealing with toxic people as Jesus did, When to Walk Away, along with a brief chapter excerpt. From one reviewer: “Gary Thomas says that he quotes Scripture more in this book than he has done in any other that he has written…He [also] tells us that he wasted 30 years of his ministry believing that standing up to toxic people was wrong.” The book’s content is also available as a Zondervan small group DVD study.

■ Jobs in Journalism: As religion reporters become “as endangered as polar bears,” the challenge of covering religion in the world of The Nones.”

■ Personal checklist: Guilty of any of these? The 5 Marks of a Pharisee.

■ The challenge of getting the Pennsylvania Amish to vote: “George W. Bush,…and his father, George H.W. Bush, were the only two sitting presidents who came to speak to Amish people.” Most of the 75,000 Amish in the state simply don’t vote.

■ A little high church moment: I love reading the reviews at Ship of Fools, but this 95-minute mass (long by most standards) captivated children and adults alike.

■ A shopping mall in the UK will terminate Chick-fil-A’s lease when a six month trial period ends. “We always look to introduce new concepts for our customers, however, we have decided on this occasion that the right thing to do is to only allow Chick-Fil-A to trade with us for the initial six-month pilot period, and not to extend the lease any further.” By now you’ve guessed the reason: Pressure from the local Pride (LGBT) chapter.

■ While many in Evangelicalism have capitulated to the Republican/Trump rhetoric, one sector has not: Contemporary Christian music artists. (Published at CNN, no less.) …

■ But Michael Frost wants to know why Christian music isn’t more revolutionary. “People like U2’s Bono, and Christian hip-hop artists Lecrae and Marty Mar from Social Club Misfits, have bemoaned the tame, risk-averse nature of Christian music.” He continues:

  • The Civil Rights movement sang Christian spirituals.
  • The German democratic movement that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall began with singing and prayers for freedom in a church in Leipzig in 1980.
  • The anti-Marcos movement in the Philippines, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, the anti-Russian movement in Ukraine – they all wrote songs to inspire their followers.
  • Even today on the streets of Hong Kong, millions of protesters resisting the controls imposed by Communist China have found the Christian hymn, “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” as their anthem of freedom.

So why don’t they write songs like that today?

■ 🇨🇦 The landscape for Christian book distribution in Canada will change drastically on December 1st as two of the country’s largest distributors — Foundation and Anchor/Word Alive — merge distribution and operations.

■ Music ♫ — Avril Lavigne: “I wrote I Fell In Love With The Devil as a constant reminder to myself that some of the darkest people in this world can be disguised as angels. It will continue to remind me of my worth and what I deserve as a woman. Sometimes it’s not easy to walk away. But I am so sick of the pain and heartache, and I know what I deserve…” (Facebook)

■ Music ♫ — Check this out: “The recording has officially been released and includes 30 albums, 296 songs and 32 hours of music, all available on a USB flash drive.” What is it? A musician in Maine has completed “an eight-year project recording books of the Bible sung and played with bluesy rock melody lines. “The Bible Sung to Rock Music” is truly biblical in scope.” It consists of most of the New Testament and selected books from the Old Testament.” 

■ Music ♫ — Monday I asked the programmer for a satellite Christian music channel what he would include here and he recommended I introduce you to the band Good Weather Forecast. Check out the song Underdog (recent) and (from four years ago) one of their most popular songs Citylights.

■ Music ♫ — Official audio for Jason’s Gray’s Order Disorder Reorder.

■ Music ♫ — Then there’s the new John Crist music video. Wait a minute, John Crist? Music? Yup. Check out the official video to Check Your Heart featuring DJ Mykael V, nobigdyl. & 1K Phew. Which brings us to…

■ John Crist is getting his own Netflix special on November 28th, titled “I Ain’t Prayin’ for That.”

■ Sports Department: Magic Johnson’s decision to leave the NBA was in part so he could spend more time serving in his local church. (COGIC, in case you’re wondering.)

■ Kellogg’s — the cereal company — has partnered with an LGBTQ activism group to promote diversity with “All Together,” a limited edition cereal combining many of its favorites into a single box.

■ The latest at Lutheran Satire as Tyler the Evangelical Quits Swimming.

■ Finally, “The message printed on a runner’s bib during a recent Minneapolis race turned out to be prophetic.” It said, “Jesus Saves” and mid-race, Jesus did.

Snowman worshiping the Christmas star: Another example of the people at Dayspring Cards doing the best they can.

From Reddit


  1. Interesting about the Queen, being a Brit myself. Officially she’s the head of the Church of England, but of course Christ is the true head of the Church. And sadly she’s presided over a period of great moral decline in the UK, including abortion and “gay marriage” being legalised in Northern Ireland. I don’t doubt her sincerity, but it’s a shame she’s been impotent to stop the decline in “Great” Britain :(

    Thanks for the post :)

    Comment by Robert — October 23, 2019 @ 6:45 am

  2. Going back to this quote: “Right” theology + Unloving Practice = Wrong Theology.” “Love your neighbour” is right theology. If I don’t love my neighbour, that doesn’t make loving my neighbour wrong, it makes me wrong!

    Comment by Robert — October 23, 2019 @ 6:58 am

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