Thinking Out Loud

May 10, 2018

Christian Spokespeople Who Are Jerks: When They Die, New Ones Replace Them

One podcast calls them “crazy uncles.” To others they are an embarrassment of the highest order.

Exactly 7 years ago, I wrote,

Christians everywhere: Meet your new spokesmen. These are, as far as the media and many of your un-churched or non-Christ-following friends are concerned, the people who represent everything you believe and stand for. Meet Harold Camping, Terry Jones and Fred Phelps…

…Notice anything?

The point that day had more to do with men in gray suits. Others would quickly want to add Pat Robertson or Jack Van Impe. Non-Reformers aren’t too impressed with John Piper, either.

But as each of these exits the world stage, as we all will do, it seems disappointing when new ones step up to replace them. Some don’t really fit the suit — and these are invariably males — but the effect is the same. Others are so young, but are already on a clear trajectory for crazy uncle status, like the one we’ll examine today. Others are so called “watchdogs” like the self-righteous, Pharisaical Chris Rosbrough. Others, like Ed Stetzer enjoy a measure of acceptability within a large denomination such that people miss how totally obnoxious and self-absorbed they truly are. Then there’s the religious snobbery of Johnson, Phillips and Turk, which, I assure you, is not a pop-rock band from the ’70s. Or the snarky, sarcastic, caustic, infantile attitudes of the guys on the Happy Rant Podcast. And then there’s the bullying tactics of J.D. Hall which some felt led to the suicide of a pastor’s 15-year-old son.

And how on earth do we compile such a list without considering Jerry Falwell, Jr.?

(At least Joel Osteen smiles. It is disarming and goes down better than anger. None of the people listed so far would be considered affable.)

But today is about Seth. I’m not even going to dignify him with a last name.

It all started when Beth Moore decided to post a letter to the male Christian leaders who have marginalized her over the years because of her gender. I’m not a huge fan of Ms. Moore and don’t get me started on her relationship to that Baptist cash cow known as LifeWay.

She does not however, deserve the behavior — the word crap comes to mind — she’s had to put up with over the years; nor did she deserve this response from the aforementioned Seth:

“Be silent…  I detest you… you are awful… Be Gone.”

I am not going to include a link here, but trust me, the above doesn’t tell you the whole story. I’d print more, but why should everyone reading this have high blood pressure? His seething hatred for Beth Moore was so 180-degrees absolutely removed from anything resembling the character of Jesus that ought to indwell all of us, that I would at this stage suspect his status as a follower of Christ.

…and that’s when it dawned on me.

Fred Phelps may be gone but his spirit of condemnation and judgement lives on in the life of people like Seth.

When the jerks die, new ones simply step up to replace them. This a tragedy on so many levels. Worse, Seth doesn’t see it. He is, in his mind right after all. He has no apologies to make, no comments to backtrack on, no blog posts to delete.

NIV.1 Cor.13.2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

What an absolute mess the Christian church finds itself in when someone can appoint themselves a rogue judge and jury and there’s no mechanism in the body of Christ that can shut them down and shut them up.

The danger of course is how we respond to Seth, though everything in me would want to respond to him as he responded to Beth Moore; something like, ‘Be silent…  I detest you… you are awful… Be Gone.’

Instead however, I offer this: Seth, repent. Repent of who you are, who is controlling you, and what you are becoming.



June 23, 2011

Fundamentalist I Cor: 13 — “Love Believes The Worst About Everyone”

My name is Paul and I live in Canada.  Here are some things you might infer:

  1. Paul is a Canadian
  2. Canadians have a love affair with the game of hockey
  3. Therefore, Paul loves hockey.

In actual fact, my affiliation with the game is something that kicks in around playoff time, and like NBC Sports, my full attention isn’t really there unless it’s a deciding game.  I guess when it comes to sports, I’m not much of an athletic supporter.

Now here’s the same kind of logic at work:

  1. Rick Warren condemns the narrow mindedness and legalism of fundamentalists.
  2. Fundamentalists believe in the five fundamentals: The inerrancy of scripture, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ…
  3. Therefore, Rick Warren does not believe in the inerrancy of scripture, the virgin birth…

Do you see the absolute absurdity of this?  Fundamentalists don’t.  They gravitate toward books which condemn anything and anybody which isn’t part of their tightly knit club.  But here’s the thing:

They want the rumors about the apostasy of others to be true.

It gives them a reason to get up in the morning; a reason to eat breakfast and brush their teeth. They thrive on the discovery that any successful Christian author, any prominent Christian broadcaster, any popular Christian pastor may in fact be full of doctrinal error, which is defined by the phrase, “doesn’t believe the same as we do.”  Even if they have to use flawed logic in order to infer it.

In fact, even though I have no problem with God enacting incarnation through virgin birth; even though I trust the inspiration of scripture… etc.; just by writing this I am written off.

Their doctrine is: Love believes the worst about everyone.

Obviously too scary for kids

And of course it truly is love if you are pointing out the error of someone’s ways, right?   I write all this because the January, 2007 book, Dark Side of the Purpose Driven Church by Noah W. Hutchings (Bible Belt Publishing) is about to be reissued by Defender Publishing.  Ultra-conservatives actually love this sort of thing, they never consider the possibility that the reports may be sensationalized or blatantly false or logically flawed.

And who is behind the promotion of Mr. Hutchings book?  None other than televangelist Jack Van Impe, the Michigan pastor whose recent rant against Warren and Robert Schuller got a repeat broadcast of his TV program censored by TBN’s Matt Crouch, resulting in JVI pulling the program and its related financial input from the TBN schedule. Highlights from the Beliefnet story:

…Earlier this month, Van Impe named California megachurch founders Rick Warren and Robert H. Schuller as proponents of “Chrislam,” which he defined as “a uniting of Christianity with Islam.” TBN pulled the episode before a repeat broadcast could air…
…“Although I understand, and actually agree with, your position that you ‘will not allow anyone to tell me what I can and cannot preach,’ I trust you understand that TBN takes the same position with its broadcast air time as well,”[TBN president and founder Paul]Crouch wrote in a letter to Van Impe…

I relate all this today because I think it’s important for people in the Evangelical mainstream to recognize that we cannot allow the fundamentalist fringe to set the agenda moving forward.  Van Impe starts to make outrageous statements and support authors who write books which are devoid of logic, and it just diminishes him, putting him in a category with Harold Camping, Terry Jones and even Fred Phelps.

Plus, we’ve got to stop bashing each other and start worrying about our common enemy.  For years, Canada had no Christian radio stations because of a feud that erupted nearly a century ago where early Christian radio pioneers devoted all their airtime to contracting and condemning each other.  Or maybe just stop bashing, period, and simply use the airtime to tell people about Jesus, and allow his words and story to draw people to Himself.

Furthermore, perhaps it’s time the U.S. adopted some of the Canadian understanding that radio frequencies are public property and are to be used responsibly. TBN acted well in this instance and put principle over profit.

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