Thinking Out Loud

February 3, 2020

Autograph Book Theology

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:52 am

It’s hard to speak of the “Jesus People” revolution of the 1970s for more than a minute without talking about the music, but there was also a comedy troupe called Isaac Air Freight whose tours and recordings were synonymous with those times.

Their sign-off at the end of each performance was,

See you here, there or in the air.

I guess rapture doctrine wasn’t up for debate as much then. It was the same sentiment also expressed by Southern Gospel songs like “I’ll See You In The Rapture;” or “I’m Going Higher Some Day.”

Another version of the same is still used,

Christians never say ‘Goodbye,’ they just say ‘See you later.’

I want to attribute that to C.S. Lewis, but he receives much attribution for things he never wrote…

…In my pre-teen and early teen years autograph books were a thing. Our Middle School didn’t have yearbooks, so maybe that created the necessity. If the back page of the book hadn’t been used, you could be the one to write

By hook or by crook
I’ll get the last page in your book.

Your friend,
Charlie.

But the one that always got me was,

If in heaven we do not meet
Hand in hand we’ll face the heat.

At that impressionable age, it always confounded me that there were people who — every bit as much as my church friends and I said we were looking forward to the rapture — were looking forward to an eternity in Hell. Certainly Hell was something to be avoided, wasn’t it?

Maybe not for them.

Perhaps now, as then, Heaven is a bit of a bore and Hell is more of a party. Many are the stand-up comedy routines built on the premise that everyone in the audience is hell-bound.

Is that the reason why ‘fire insurance’ evangelistic programs are not highly successful? Set aside the findings that fear is a terrible motivator for producing lasting disciples, is it possible that some people are not only not interested in avoiding Hell, but are actually looking forward to it?



The aforementioned I’m Going Higher song. I had a general idea what I wanted to embed here, but who could resist a group called the Teen-Tones?

If you would prefer a more modern approach to rapture doctrine, there was always this from the 1980s band After the Fire

 

September 1, 2018

Throwback: Teaching Tapes

The plastic binders were a classier way to store them, but some of us simply threw our teaching tapes in boxes.

I had boxes of them. Perhaps you did as well.

We would go to those huge Christian music festivals on Pennsylvania dairy farms — back when the headlining speakers had equal billing with headlining musicians — and come back with bags and bags of the things. Heck, people would set up booths vending tapes for speakers who weren’t even appearing at the event; such was the hunger to collect and listen.

In the land before live streaming of church services, sermons on demand, and podcasts, this was how you immersed yourselves in the tapes of your favorite Bible teacher and introduced his (or her) core message to your friends.

I got to thinking of this today because the Saturday Brunch column at Internet Monk mentioned a series that Michael Newnham is running on the history of Calvary Chapel. (I’ve stolen that and reproduced it at the end of this article.) I had a friend who owned the complete — don’t know how many hundred — set of Chuck Smith preaching his way through the entire Bible. The things came in large wooden cases and covered an area larger than a pool table.

He was moving and I had hoped that I would be the beneficiary of that move, but instead another mutual acquaintance was gifted them.

For years, that really bothered me.

Today, I would have nothing to play them on. There’s one cassette player left in the house and it’s not going to last much longer. Besides, I have moved on to other teachers and doctrinal perspectives.

However, it makes me wish that Chuck Smith had committed himself to books, instead of to the fad of the day, audio cassettes. While I’m sure that these messages have been transferred to mp3 files, there’s something permanent about a book. (In the same way I wish my dad had developed his film into prints, instead of slides; just like you’ll wish something similar when all your children’s pictures are only fit for devices which disappear off the consumer electronics shelves.)

It’s hard to believe right now, but it’s possible that before long the term “internet” will come to mean something quaint or ancient. A lot of teaching content has been uploaded in forms that the future may render obsolete.

Sometimes people would trade teaching tapes the way one might trade expensive, collector’s baseball cards. I like that because it placed a value on the teaching. Or we would simply share them with friends back home unable to make it to the event.

And don’t miss the aside comment in the second paragraph, above. The teachers really did receive equal billing to the musicians. We drove those miles in the camper or station wagon because we were looking forward to the sermons we would hear along with the concerts we would here. Equally.

I can honestly say I was truly changed by some of those teachings.


Calvary Chapel story referenced above, as listed at today’s Internet Monk:

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